Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I like DPNs

I found out last night (or very early this morning, as the case may be) that I am enjoying knitting with DPNs. I bought Knit Hip Hats by Cathy Carron, and apparently, she likes to knit hats top down. I thought that I could knit her designs using the magic loop. However, she demonstrates the Wrap Cast On, and I shuddered...I tried this Cast on with the very first socks that I tried to knit. BAD MEMORY!!!!!!! The CO is a nightmare with circular needles!

So I looked in my bucket of needles and lo and behold, there they were, the first (and only) set of DPNs that I bought, 2 years ago. I took them out of their little bag and proceeded to follow her directions. I am proud to say that I only had to start over ONCE. Wow...

I don't know what it is that I like about knitting in the round with DPNs. It could be that I am actually knitting with more than 2 needles (my husband said that he could never do that in a million years. This was reason enough for me to get really good at knitting with DPNs). It's certainly a different way to knit. It's new for me. And it looks dangerous (in a cool kinda way): when you are knitting in the round with DPNs, your project looks like a weapon - keep away from my yarn, you cat! Or better yet, "Don't interrupt mom when she is knitting; you could get hurt!"

I like it...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hand Socks

A few nights ago, on Christmas Eve, my family and I were getting ready to go on a drive to see Christmas lights. As I was putting on my son's jacket, he held out his hands to me and said, "I want socks on my hands." I knew that he meant mittens. I was sad that I haven't had time to knit him a pair.

So I put on a pair of his socks on his hands. Happy as can be, he crawled into his car seat and we proceeded with our night. He fell asleep during the ride. When we arrived home, I put him in bed with his socks still on, keeping his little hands warm.

The next morning, I awoke to him screaming and crying. I opened his door and comforted him. I took him into my bed so that we could sleep for a little while longer. He cried, "Take it off! Take it off!" He still had his hand socks on!

My first project for post-Christmas knitting: Hand Socks for my son. This time with thumbs; just in case he falls asleep with them on, he can still open his door the following morning.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 25, 2009

I'm a Selfish Knitter

I am a selfish knitter. I am proud to admit it. I don't usually buy yarn from the Big Box stores (unless I need funfur, which is cheaper in those stores), I buy what I want and when I want from my FLYS and from specialty online yarn stores, and I only knit what I want to knit. Rarely do I take requests, unless of course, my standards are met.

At this moment in time, I will knit in either chunky or worsted weight yarn and top down apparel. I won't knit blankets. I'll knit socks occasionally, especially if I can use my massive amounts of handpainted sock yarn. Hats and fingerless mitts are my favorites right now, although I did just finish a few items for my niece's American Girl Doll. These, of course, were top down sweaters in worsted weight.

I spoke to my brother today (who will be ordained as a priest in June 2010). I told him that I will be knitting each of his classmates a beanie. He told me how thoughtful I was to do this. I admitted that I was actually being selfish; I go through my bouts of "needing" to visit my FLYS and "needing" to buy yarn. Deciding to knit each of his classmates a beanie gave me the perfect excuse. He laughed. The sad truth is, I was not kidding.

Being a selfish knitter is not a bad thing. The way I look at it, I get something out of every gift I make and the recipient gets a one of a kind gift. Yay for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sami's Beehive Hat

This year I am making most of our Christmas gifts. Many of the patterns that I am using, I found on Ravelry and at my LYS. However, after making a couple of hats and fingerless mittens, I wanted to stretch myself a little and design some things on my own. For this pattern, I just started knitting a rib pattern and decided to add some texture. That's pretty much it. It is one pattern that you could just knit and not think about, beyond looking at the stitches below the row that you are working.

It is for my cousin's oldest child, whom we call Sami. I debated on whether to make full mittens or fingerless mitts. He is 5 years old, and if he is anything like my daughter when she was 5, he probably has some attitude, which fingerless mitts definitely have. Enjoy!

Size: Child
Needle size: 9 (US)
Yarn: Chunky
Gauge: 4 sts per inch

I also used a crochet needle, size I, for finishing the thumbs.

I used Plymouth Encore Chunky and circular needles with a 16 inch cable. I employed the magic loop when I decreased. I am not a big fan of DPNs.

CO 68 sts. Join yarn to knit in the round and place a marker at the beginning of the row. Knit K2, P2 rib for 1 inch, or 6 rows.

Begin pattern:
Rows 1-3: Purl
Rows 4-6: *K2, P2* repeat in between asterisks until the end of the row
Repeat rows 1-6 until about 7 inches, ending with row 3.
Next row: *K2tog, P2* repeat in between asterisks until the end of row (51 sts)
Next row: *K1, P2tog* repeat in between asterisks until the end of row (34 sts)
Next row: *K1, P1* repeat in between asterisks until the end of row
Next row: *P2tog, P1* repeat last st, P1 (23 sts)
Next row: P2tog, repeat until last stitch, P1 (12 sts)
Next row: P2tog, repeat until last stitch, (6 sts)
Break yarn, leaving about a yard (3 feet) for loopy top and weaving in.
Thread end of yarn through tapestry needle and tighten ends to close top of hat. With remaining yarn, thread it through top of hat to make loops. Make knots when necessary.

Fingerless Mittens:
CO 28 sts. Join for knitting in the round and place marker at beginning of round. Knit K2, P2 rib pattern for 2 inches (10 rows). Follow instructions for each mitt as directed.

For Left Mitten:
Rows 1-3: K14, P2, *K2, P2* repeat in between asterisks 5 times.
Rows 4-6: K14, P14
Rows 7-9: Repeat rows 1-3
Row 10: K11, BO next 5 sts, P12
Row 11: K11, CO 5 sts on right needle using backwards loop CO method, P12
Row 12: K14, P14
Rows 13-18: As rows 1-6
Bind off purlwise

For Right Mitten:
Rows 1-3: K14, P2, *K2, P2* repeat in between asterisks 5 times.
Rows 4-6: K14, P14
Row 7-8: as rows 1-2
Row 9: K14, P2, *K2, P2* 4 times, K2, BO5 (3 of these BO sts are on row 10)
Row 10: K11, P12
Row 11: CO 5 sts onto right needle, K11, P14
Row 12: K14, P14
Rows 13-18: As rows 1-6
Bind off purlwise

Leave enough yarn after BO to weave in ends.

I crocheted a chain around the thumbs. However, this is optional.

If you find any problems with these instructions, feel free to email me. Please do not sell any projects made from this pattern.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Red Hat

I wanted to make a hat for my friend in Germany. She likes red and I had the perfect yarn - chunky and easy care. It's Christmas time and I have so many WIPs that all I could find was a size 9 cirular needle. I figured that I could just knit loose and the hat would be big enough. I was wrong.

I gave the hat to my son, who now wears it proudly. When he first put it on, he said, "My hat, my red hat!"


CO 70 sts.
Join yarn for knitting in the round.
K3, p2 rib for about an inch.
Follow eyelet pattern for 7 inches from beginning of pattern, then decrease.

Eyelet pattern:
1) *K3, P2* repeat to end of round
2) *K2tog, YO, K1, P2* repeat to end of round
3) *K1, Ktbl, K1, P2* repeat to end of round
Repeat these three rows until length desired. I knit until 7 inches in length from CO edge.

1) *K2tog, P2* repeat until end of round
2) *K2, P2tog* repeat until end of round
3) *K2tog, P1* repeat until end of round
4) K2tog all stitches until end of round

Break yarn, leaving about 2 feet for pulling through remaining stitches and weaving in.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Anti-addiction

I am binding off my unfinished Zetor Scarf (which is a misnomer because it is really a shawl). I made it with Malabrigo lace. If you have ever knit with Malabrigo yarn, you probably know that, as heavenly it is to knit with, ripping it out is a major PITA.

I am in the midst of my holiday knitting and cannot find any more needles. I realized that the reason for this is because I have been hibernating many of the projects that I got tired of. The Zetor is one of them. I started it this past summer. I think I was on the 4th repeat and when recounted my stitches, I was off. I put it away, thinking that I must have miscounted, or I was missing a yarnover, or something like that. Looking at it this afternoon, I decided that it was time to let it go...I need the cable and needles for a project and I just don't think that I want to pick up where I left off (which, incidentally is not something that I look forward to anyway).

Which leaves me hating the amount of stitches that need to be bound off. I started with 6 stitches. 3 and a half repeats later, I easily have 200. I suppose this option is better than frogging the Malabrigo lace and having a knotted mess. Ugh. So there you go, my anti-addiction is the type of lace project that just grows...and grows...and grows. No thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I have too many WPIs`

My FLYS just got in a huge shipment of Malabrigo. She told me so, the first thing when I stepped into her shop for Knitting Night. She has most of the colors that I love (although this morning, I didn't know that I loved many of them...such is the life of a yarn addict) and I claimed 3 of the bags. I told all of my friends that they were mine...as soon as I won the lotto. I spent most of the night trying to justify buying some. Eventually, one of my friends helped me decide that I only needed one.

So I bought my one skein of the Malabrigo with the intention of making Star Crossed Beret by Nancy Larson. I have been wanting to make this beret for myself for some time, since I have been making hats for my niece. They are so easy and quick, hats have become my favorite things to make for presents. The best thing about this particular pattern is that the designer used Malabrigo for it. Oh heaven. The best excuse to buy yarn is to find a pattern that uses it!

The pattern calls for size 10 and 11 needles, casting on with the former. I thought, surely I have this. I looked in my binder of circular needles (I loathe using DPNs for this type of project) and no luck. Okay, I figured since I will be switching needles anyway, I might as well use my interchangeables.

I bought the whole set from Knitpicks last year...the whole shebang...and I like using them so much, I also bought another (almost complete) set of needles from someone on Ravelry. Needless to say, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to start this project tonight. Dude, I have a lust to knit this pattern with my newly acquired Malabrigo. I needed to knit it tonight.

I found the needles...but did not have a single cable available. Not a one. I couldn't believe it. Surely, my eyes were deceiving me. But no, They weren't anywhere in my knitting bag, needle binder, or Knitpicks bag. Unbelievable, truly.

I looked through my project bags...I will admit that I have more than I should, and there they were. I had no idea I had so many WPIs. I found:
1) The Candlelight Stole that I charted out
2) a sweater for Pippin that I started in May (what was I thinking?)
3) a frogged Prism Saki project (here, I was just plain lazy)
4) a project with a Cashmere/Silk blend that I love...I just don't know what the project is...
5) the Top Down T-shirt that I have been meaning to frog, but is going to be painful because I am 98% done with it (Gah! It pains me now, just typing about it!)

I also found 2 cables with needles just lying around. And this list is only from looking in the front of my closet. Looking through the rest of my closet for the rest of my needles and cables will be like looking for treasure. Ooh, I can't wait.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Foray into Double Knitting

I've wanted to learn how to double knit for about a year now. I first discovered this technique when I went to a Japanese book store to buy a stitch book (what can I say, I love all things related to knitting and all of the patterns are charted - universal language!). I picked up a book that showed 6 different ways to knit a heel and had a double knitted scarf pattern. Oh, how I wanted to know how to read Japanese then!

I read about the technique...somewhere...and it seemed really difficult. I mean, really, knitting two sides at once?! Are you nuts? And forget about knitting 2 socks at once, one inside the other. As far as I was concerned, that's extreme knitting, no doubt about it.

After a very long hiatus from my knitting group (summer, kids, dogs, etc.), I finally was able to get away. One of my friends there started a double knitting project and I overheard her chatting about it with another knitter in our group. I couldn't help myself...I asked her about it, and God bless her, she offered her project to me and told me to try it. Wow, easy as pie. Cool, I thought, I could make a purse like this, and not have to seam it! One hitch though, it was only one color, slip one, purl one. What if I wanted to use more than one color? She said that I would knit it the same way, only with two colors...Hmmm, that's too easy an explanation....

So I went home that night and with my obsessed little fingers, I went onto Ravelry and typed in double knitting. I found the hat that was mentioned by one of my friends in the group, the 35 mm hat. Interesting, but not interesting enough. None of the hats really held my interest. I limited the patterns to scarves and bingo. There it was, Honka, by Eeva Saviranta. I loved the way the organic pattern undulated in the variegated yarn in one side and in a solid color in the other. It looked like an exciting, albeit challenging, project to knit.

I looked up Double knitting on YouTube and found a really good tutorial by LiatMGat. She posted 3 parts, starting from casting on to reading a chart, using 2 colors:

So, I decided to make the scarf using a rainbow colorway from Plymouth Encore Colorspun, contrasted with white (same yarn). Luckily, I bought 5 skeins of the rainbow colorway to make a sweater for my daughter. I changed my mind to use it for this purpose, and instead am making a sweater for my 4 year old niece. The other 2 skeins, I will use to make the scarf for her mother.

I casted on yesterday and it took getting used to. I am used to knitting from charts, as I enjoy knitting lace. However, using a chart in double knitting is more difficult, as I had to remind myself that I had to read it left on all odd rows and right on even rows. The pattern in Honka makes it that much more difficult, as each row is different from the previous. Several times, I forgot to read in the correct direction and had to frog back. However, several rows in, it's taking shape and I am really enjoying the process. I am looking forward to knitting again...Now, if I can just finish the darn scarf that is supposed to match the Jacques Cousteau hat that I knit for Trent. Aargh.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Elvira, almost done

I am almost done with Elvira. I tried it on (LOVE THAT!) and it fits like a dream. The Wollmeise is gorgeous and the pattern was well worth the price. My husband even said that it was nice...and he never notices anything. I am determined not to become impatient and keep on knitting for another inch before I even think about binding it off.

The only thing I have to say about this pattern is to remember all of the YOs and to twist all of them in the plain knit rows. If you forget to twist them, the holes become too big and it will look more like a mesh than a shirt that you want to wear in public! Counting is really important because I hate to tink back (and I will admit that I had to do this a couple of times...I refuse to rip back Wollmeise yarn).

Monday, August 10, 2009

The backyard

My husband and I worked on the yard this weekend. I mean really worked on the yard...not just sweeping up the fallen leaves from last month or watering the garden. No sirree Bob!

I (yes, me) cut all of the overgrown vines that were wrapped around the tree in the corner, pruned the jasmine bushes (crossing my fingers that they grow back properly), and completely cleaned out the darn pond, which is no longer a pond. My wonderful husband and I scooped out the sludge, leaves, and other mucky icky stuff that had collected in the bottom, as well as the murky water, and I punched holes in the bottom of the plastic pond mold. We let the rest of the water dry up until mid Sunday afternoon. We filled the now empty pond mold with dirt. I plan on purchasing more herbs and placing them on top of this and decorating with rocks. I want to pull up more of the overgrown and long neglected plants during the last days of summer and through the fall.

I decided on herbs, rather than flowers or shrubs because in researching the best type of plant to grow in my area, I found this website: Herbs 101. An herb garden fulfills my need for easy to grow plants, that are practical, as well as pretty.

Now I totally understand why people love to garden the way I love to knit. Took long enough...LOL!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Of Death and Elvira

Obsession comes in waves with me. I never know when they will hit, but they hit me hard. I just finished reading Mistress of the Art of Death a few days ago. It was the first book that I read cover to cover for over a year. In fact, I was so engrossed in the story that I am reading it again to see if I can pick up things that I missed the first time. In my humble opinion, it is one of the best historical fiction books that I have read in a long time. The story, set in medieval England, spans between 1170 and 1171, after Thomas Beckett's death. It involves murdered children, Jews, religious fanatics, and a female doctor who specializes in what we know call autopsies. There is even some romance thrown in there for good measure. I couldn't put it down for the fast pacing of the mystery and suspense.

Also, I got back into knitting. I went onto Ravelry for the first time in a few months. I need to be really frugal with money; being on Ravelry and seeing all that wonderful yarn would sometimes be too much for me, and I would wind up buying some for a future project that, more times than not, would not happen. I logged on a couple days ago and the Elvira, all grown up pattern leaped out at me. No matter that the weather is getting cooler and the days shorter...signs that the fall is coming and I need to think about bringing out the warmer clothes. This pattern is top down and uses light fingering weight. My dream pattern. I have 3 skeins of Wollmeise that I have been waiting to use. I am knitting it right now, while also promising that the neck down T-shirt that I started will be worked on during my daughter's ballet classes. This should be easy enough, because all I have left is the last sleeve.

I am so glad for the fall season. My knitting is on again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'll take it if she doesn't want it...

This morning on the Armstrong and Getty Show, one of the DJs said that Paula Abdul may not return to American Idol. In addition to other reasons mentioned, they said that she was "only" getting paid $4 - 5 million dollars per season. This is chump change compared to Simon's $45 million salary. Since when did $4 million dollars become chump change?

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Fence

Last night I had a dream about our fence. I have one neighbor on each side of me, and one behind. If I ever decide to replace the fence, I would probably ask each of them to pitch in...after all, it's not only mine and it would benefit everyone. I asked my friends for references. I haven't called around yet, because we can't afford it yet. Looking at our yard though, I know that we eventually will need to get the whole fence replaced, plus the gate.

I had a dream last night that the fence fell down. As it was a dream, the details are now getting foggy, but I remember being worried that the our things may get stolen. The dream ended with someone putting the fence back up.

If dreams mean anything what could it mean?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Our First Tomato Plant

Yesterday, my daughter and I planted a tomato plant. It was actually her idea, remembering that I had talked about it with her this past weekend. Since my family and I love to eat tacos, spaghetti, sandwiches, and salad, I thought that we would save a lot of money if we grew our own tomatoes. We were shopping at the moment at WalMart for some summer items, so we swung over to the Nursery Department to see if they had everthing we needed. They didn't (although they had a good selection of tomato plants), so we went to Home Depot.

I chose a Roma Tomato plant...she didn't much care what kind of plant at this point because the heat started coming down. I also picked up a planting container, and some organic dirt. My son fell asleep in the cart, so it was a challenge to keep his little head steady...especially when the cashier sold us the wrong kind of dirt, but we made it home, a little weary and sweaty. I placed my son on the couch to finish his nap.

Remembering to cover 80% of the plant, my daughter and I filled the pot with the plant inside, with the potting soil. She watered it happily, as well as my blueberry plant, which I bought and planted last year at about this same time. Now we are just waiting for our first crop to come in, probably not until the fall.

Life is good.
Tomato Plant Blueberry Plant from last year...I think I have to give her more fertilizer or something...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Wonderful Day

Yesterday was World Wide Knitting in Public Day. However, I had promised my daughter that I would take her to the Second Saturday at the Crocker Museum. This was more important than spending my day knitting...although I knew I would make it up later in the day.

We carpooled there with our good friends. The weather was beautiful: perfect cumulus clouds in the clear blue sky and a soft breeze that complemented the pleasantly warm temperature. Very unusual nice weather for this time of year.

The event was in the bottom floor of the Crocker Museum. The volunteer that helped us gave us each a board with paper taped to it. My daughter and her friend had a great time creating their artwork using tempera paint and Art Stix. My friend and I also created some art pieces.

I had forgotten how good it felt to draw, I have never been good at drawing people and faces; however, I have always enjoyed creating abstract art. The kids asked me what I was drawing. I guess the term "abstract" went over their heads because my daughter kept asking me what I was drawing. She finally agreed to wait until I was finished with my masterpiece.

After our art experience, the kids allowed us to wander the museum. I wish kids appreciated those types of places more...the Crocker is filled to the brim with the most beautiful artwork. This, too, I forgot. It was so relaxing to look at each painting, each sculpture, and discover what the artist was trying to represent in the moments during that piece's construction. I could have spent the rest of the day there.

We went home after a few hours. It was exhausting, but I felt energized just the same.

My daughter and her best friend have known each other since they were 2. When we spend time together, they are inseparable and this gets more pronounced the older they get...they used to bicker over little things but now they are like a pair of twins, who don't look alike and have different mothers but love each other so much that neither of our families can imagine lives without each other. Our families have become close in the years of our children's friendship....so it was easy to understand why the kids have a lot of trouble leaving each other's houses. We often wish that we lived closer so that we don't meet the resistance we always do when the other has to go home.

They eventually left (with the expected resistance) and I took Pippin out for his walk. I thought my day was almost over and I could rest. My daughter wasn't ready; she wanted to take Pippin out after dinner. I agreed, wanting to cultivate her growing desire to spend time with the pup and our newfound friends at the park. We walked there and met our friends. We also met new friends, which we often do because Pippin loves to meet new dogs. I think we've made more friends since we've adopted him; I don't remember knowing this many people that I enjoy spending time with since college. Our walk was uneventful. When the skies started getting darker, we headed home.

Last night after the kids and pup went to bed, I reflected on the day and it felt nice. I may have missed knitting in public, but I spent time with friends and my daughter. This is time better spent.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pippin versus the Friar

I have decided to accept the fact that Pippin may not really like my brother. My brother, Brother Mary Isaiah of the Dominican Order, aka Uncle Mark, just left after 2 days with us. We always enjoy spending time with him and I was looking forward to introducing the newest member of our family.

When Mark first arrived, I expected some resistance from the pup. After all, this is his territory and a new person was "invading". I took the family (minus my husband who was at work - luckily for him, haha) to the park. There, they seemed to get along and I was optimistic. The drive home was uneventful.

Back inside the house, however, the barking started. I tried everything the trainer said to do: ignore him (how the heck do you do this without going deaf), having my brother act like a bear (he does this very well), tying him to me (he was supposed to be bored to death just watching me clean house...yeah right). I finally had to resort to attaching his leash to a pole in the back. When he didn't bark for a while, I brought him back in. He behaved for a while and finally went to bed without any more barking episodes.

Unfortunately, this did not last throughout Mark's whole stay. It got to the point where I would hear Pippin growl and I would cringe. We were all lucky that the weather allowed us to go out; I think I would have had to keep Pippin tied up outside the whole time my brother was here.

Today, I wanted to go to 2 shops on the Yarn Shop Hop Contest. According to Mapquest, it should have only taken me less then an hour to travel to them both. I expected us to be home within 3 hours. Because of the curvy road and that I didn't have a blasted map of my own city, we were out for 5 hours. Poor Pippin was in his crate for 5 whole hours. I could have cried.

I had to drive Mark to the train station with the kids in tow. I felt so bad about Pippin being alone almost the whole day that I took him with us. I put him on my lap as I drove. My brother was next to me and I was amazed that Pippin didn't protest. Not even a little possessive growl.

I mentioned this out loud, and my daughter piped, "Maybe Pippin is glad that Uncle Mark is leaving." Ahhh the blatant honesty of kids.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kinnearing Kids Part 3: Uncle Mark's Visit

My brother is visiting us for a few days. He is back in California after being stationed in Washington D.C. for about a year as part of his training to become a priest in the Dominican Order. My daughter was very excited and had been looking forward to seeing Uncle Mark. In contrast, my son, who had only seen him once since his birth, did not know what to make of the man dressed in clergy's garb that momma hugged at the Amtrak station...I could see the little gears in his head spinning - that's not daddy...who is that stranger that momma is hugging....hmmm don't know if I can give him a smile yet.

My brother is training to be a priest in the Dominican Order. This will be his final academic year before his final vows. In a week, he will be heading out to Alaska (!).

The little guy and his uncle soon became quick friends though, partly because of my brother's amicable personality, and largely because of my daughter's obvious affection for him. Yippee for me because then I was able to take a picture of all of them:

Pippin, on the other hand, is having trouble adjusting to having a stranger in the house. No matter what I did, he kept barking at my brother. Yikes! Perhaps an outing at the park would do the trick and make everyone friends.

We went to a new park in a new housing development a few miles away. It had 2 play structures, one for my daughter and one for my son. Also, there was a big grassy area where I was able to walk Pippin. I brought my camera in case any photo opportunities came up. Yeah, I know, I was being optimistic, but hey, a mom's gotta try.

After a few missed shots, I realized that I had to resort to kinnearing, and even then...

He finally acquiesced (not too happily...oh well). His sister made up for his lack of enthusiasm.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Facebook is saving me money

It keeps me from staying on Ravelry, where I stalk people's destashes and covet other people's yummy yarn.

That's it for now...back to Facebook.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Please, not my stash!

Last Thursday started out like an normal day...well, almost normal. It was my daughter's last day of the school year and she was more excited than she is most school mornings. And I admit, I had already gotten it into my head that the year was over, so I was more scattered than I usually am. We were about to jump in the car with 5 minutes remaining for me to get her to school in time, with her swimsuit under her clothes, and she remembered at the last minute that she needed an extra shirt. Aaaargh.

So I finally get her to school, I drive home, make sure that husband has food to bring to work for lunch, and make the boy his breakfast. Kiss husband before he heads to work, got puppy and boy ready for morning walk. As I walked the stroller with leash in hand, I thought about all the errands I had to do that day: go to Costco and restock on some supplies and fill up on gas, make a grocery list and go to store for food, drop off clothes and toys at the Salvation Army, go to park, go to pet store, go to Post Office, and pick up my daughter early. I could some after the walk, and the rest after I pick up the girl. Not a problem.

Well, my son must have been cutting another tooth because I only got to make a grocery list and go to Costco. He was making a fuss, so I decided to do the rest of my errands after I picked up my daughter.

The time came to pick her up. I popped my son in his carseat and buckled him up. I threw Pippin in the car in my daughter's carseat. I buckled myself in, pushed the garage door opener and proceeded to back out....

...too early. I heard a crash....ooooh no.... I jumped out of my car. OH CR-RAP!!!!! The car backed into the garage door and pushed it out of its track. My first thought was, "My husband is going to kill me..." then it was, "oh no, how am I going to pick up my daughter? " and finally, "how much of my stash am I going to have to sell to make up the damage?"

I looked at the warped garage door, tried to punch it into place. It didn't budge. I called my husband. I said, "Honey, please don't get mad...but..." and I explained what happened. Miraculously, he said nothing about selling any of my stash...

I contacted the garage door company that had helped us before with our garage door (what can I say, the house was built in the 70s). I didn't even ask how much it may have to cost. The rep said that someone would be out to our house to look at the damage within the hour. I looked through my stash and briefly calculated what I could sell. Even with all of my Handmaiden, Fleece Artist, Hedgehog Fibres, Malabrigo, and (sniff) Wollmeise skeins, there was no way that I had $1000 worth of yarn. Goodbye new bed...Goodbye yarn store splurges...Goodbye summer fun. Mom goofed and there would be no more fun for a while.

My husband came home with my daughter. I heard a banging. Was he really trying to fix it? Then I heard the garage door...he managed to force it back onto its track. It opened but would not close. I apologized again profusely and told him that I would sell my yarn to pay for the damage. He didn't seem concerned...does the man not worry about anything? Perhaps it was because he knew that it wasn't his yarn on the line. So unfair...

So the garage door guy came and said that he could put a new metal frame on the bottom of the door to straighten it out. Unfortunately, he said, they don't make our garage door anymore, so he could not replace the plate. He said that he could do it that day....did I want an estimate.

I braced myself...numbers beat around my head. Please don't be more than $500...please please please don't make me sell all of my beautiful yarn!!!!

So he says to me, "There is the charge to come out and the labor cost...it will come out to $127.23.

God really does love me...

Katje's Frog

So I ripped out my Katje...all of it. And I am not sorry...

I was going to add more rows to both sleeves and the body. I had started ripping out the bind off in the body a few weeks ago and placing the stitches onto a circular needle. Gah! it was taking forever doing that in seed stitch. F O R E V E R

I threw it in the closet, with the sincere intention to finish it. However, it taunted me, there in the bottom of my clear knitting bag. I couldn't take it anymore and decided that it would be faster to frog the whole darn thing and reknit it.

I'm going to take up Chantel's suggestion and make it a short sleeve hoodie.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Space saver or...

a reason to buy more yarn? I bought a box of SpaceSavers from Costco yesterday. Those things are amazing!! The commercials did not lie and now I feel more in control of my space.

My husband joked that I should put my yarn in them... I am seriously considering it. For one thing, my stash bins are overflowing. Another, I can buy more yarn...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blue Henna

My son hennaed his feet this morning with a blue pen.

My first impulse was to scrub it off. He didn't like that idea (Owww momma! No No No!!!). So I decided that it really wasn't a big deal...in fact, I was amused that he found it so entertaining to color his feet that way, and not the rest of his body. I also decided that better his feet, and not his little cheeks...His sister hennaed her face with yellow, green, and blue marker one day while in daycare a few years ago. She looked pretty scary, actually, and reminded me of Darth Maul from Star Wars...seriously! It took 2 days for the ink to wear off (washable my ***!)

I forgot to take a picture of his feet before his bath, so please excuse the faded pen on his cute little feet, and imagine the ink darker and more of it:

So there you have it - blue henna!

Thank you Fairy Godmother

These past few weeks have been crazy.

The puppy has been coming out of his shell. We've been making friends with dog owners and their dogs. Pippin is a very social dog and he loves to run around...and around...and around. I think if I let him play with his dog friends all day, he would, and would come home ready for more.

My daughter was getting restless, waiting for the end of school to arrive. She has been talking about going to the pool with her best friend everyday for the past month. In fact, she talks alot...about her stuffed animals, imaginary friend, Buggy, what she did at school, about everything that she is curious about (how many rings does Saturn have momma? Guess what - Jupiter is a gaseous planet; daddy told me so; what does gaseous mean?) And on and on...

My son was getting antsy in the house and I signed him up for gymnastics. He loves it but he is such a bundle of energy, I often have to take him out and let him run around with the puppy at the park. Otherwise, he and the puppy fight over toys...

So, like so many other mothers at this time of year, I often wished that I could have a little break for myself. Just a little tiny one....

This past weekend, I got my wish:

Thank you Fairy Godmother!

Last day of school 2009

My daughter's last day of school was today. She gave Mrs Brown her completed scarf today, along with some brownies to share with her class.

Mrs. Brown was very grateful for the scarf. She said that she loved that I made it with my own hands. She wrote in her thank you card that she was so happy to be acknowledged (!) I am happy to give her something to show how much I appreciated her work - with my daughter and her classmates.

I know that not everyone appreciates knitted gifts because they are so easily bought at a department store. At times, I know that the people I give some gifts to don't realize the time and care that I put into my knitted items, as well as the thoughtfulness that I put into choosing the right yarn: color, softness, fabric that it creates, fiber. Mrs. Brown knew, and I appreciated that.

It's been a good year for my daughter and I am thankful that she had the good fortune to have a teacher like Mrs. Brown.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Charted it!

I charted a pattern for the first time this week. I saw a scarf that someone on Ravelry had knit using the Candelight pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and love the way the stitches undulate on the fabric. The description in the book claims that it is reversible (not in those words, but that is the way that I read it). I looked for a pattern that someone had already written out to no avail. Barbara Walker didn't chart it out either.

I was intimidated at first to chart it out myself. It is a 36 line chart, hardly any of the rows are repeated and many of the rows had different stitch counts in the final repeat. However, I decided that the end result would be worth it.

It took me a few hours to chart it out, proof it, and rewrite it in pen. I wasn't sure how I wanted to edges to be. I looked for the right edging in all of my stitch books and couldn't find one with the right stitch counts. I thought that it would be a good idea to improvise this too.

After knitting a few rows, I decided that a plain garter stitch edge would look best. I am about halfway through the first set and it is really looking good! I am using (finally!) the skeins of Karabella Breeze (cashmere and silk) that I bought from Babs a few months ago (last year, I think). I have 5 left, having given one to my swap partner and swapping one in the KYS board on Ravelry. I plan on making the stole as big as possible, before I get bored. I actually want to use up all of the yarn, but we'll see if that happens.

Overall, I am very proud of myself for taking the challenge and being able to chart such a long written pattern out correctly!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Frankensteining my Kauni yarn

I was going to sell my Kauni. I started to wind it into a cake, even. But the more I looked at the skein and the pictures I took when I was in love with the colorway, the more I wanted to keep it. After much thought, I decided that I could live with the scratchiness. After all, I could condition it after it was knit up and washing is supposed to make the yarn softer. Also I really really really like the colors. Pinks and creams. Even in a cake, the colors still remind me of beautiful pink roses. I haven't seen very many yarns that have the pretty colors and transitions that my Kauni has.

While I was winding it from the ball, I kept looking at the offensive amount of tan in the ball. I swear, it just kept going and going in the tan color! After I was sure that most of the tan was wound, I broke the yarn, put the brown wad aside and starting winding the rest of the ball. When it came to the tan again, I repeated this process. In the end, I had to rewind the balls that I wanted into one.

I was a little shocked at what I wound up with (forgive the pun!)

The tan portion weighed 1.3 ounces! The rest of the ball was much prettier after I cut it out though...I like the colors much better.

But look at the comparison! No wonder I felt like I was knitting a lot of tan...I was!

Kinnearing Kids Part 2: Mamarazzi

My son enjoys watching his sister play Super Mario Galaxy. I will admit that the music and sound effects in this game are catchy and very well thought out. Sometimes I find myself humming the music while I am grocery shopping, or hear my son singingone of the songs in the car.

It's easy for me to to get distracted when they are involved in the game: her playing it, and him watching and dancing to it. I find myself just watching the two of them because it is so cute.

This past weekend, I remembered halfway in my reverie to get my camera and see if I could record some of it. My son apparently did not want me to...


Sock Wars is ON!!

Knitting away on my weapon and hoping to have it kill my target as soon as possible. That's all for now. More news to come...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm disappointed...

in the Kauni yarn that I am using for my Zetor Scarf. It is not soft at all. I read the comments on Ravelry about this yarn and one of them mentioned that it softens up after being washed. However, since I will be spending a good part of the month working on this project, I am opting to put this project away and use a different yarn, probably the Malabrigo lace that I have in Pearl. I don't want to knit up a scratchy yarn for a whole month and not enjoy the process, It's really too bad because I was really looking forward to seeing the Kauni knit up.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Malabrigo at Costco

I went to Costco last week for the bimonthly family stock up: Salmon burgers, bread, salad, diapers...I like to look around while I am there to see what they have new. I used to fantasize that they would one day carry yarn.... Granted, they wouldn't carry all of the fabulous yarns that my FLYS carries, but the staples, most definitely. Variety boxes of Malabrigo, sweater supply gift boxes of Plymouth Encore, perhaps even promotional items during the holidays of handpainted lace. Wow, that would be awesome...

Well, last week, I saw a box of yarn. Huh, I thought. That's interesting...upon closer inspection, I noticed that it was a spool knitting kit, but it had something like 6 skeins of yarn, enough to make a few hats or scarves. Interesting indeed...Costco moving into yarn territory...

The poll, would you buy yarn from Costco on a regular basis if they sold yarn?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mrs. Brown's Scarf

Mrs. Brown is my daughter's first grade teacher. I think she is a wonderful teacher. My daughter has thrived in her class and feels good about herself. Mrs. Brown has always been clear with her expectations of my daughter, but also understands that my daughter is a child, with a very good imagination and stubborn will. She has never tried to stifle my child's creativity with biases and inflexible beliefs of how children "should" act in the classroom.

Last year, my daughter got in trouble a lot because she has the tendency to lose focus. Her teacher wanted her to be tested for Asperger's Syndrome because of this. My daughter was in the top 5% of her class and made friends just fine in preschool. She socializes on the playground easily and has very good communication skills. I was insulted that her teacher thought that there may be something wrong with my child.

Since changing schools, my little girl doesn't pull behavior cards and she is never afraid of being sent to the principal's office. Mrs. Brown understands that my daughter has a very (over)active imagination and doesn't punish her for it. When I discuss my concerns with her about my daughter's tendency to go off in her own little world (especially in the middle of a math lesson!) she understands that my little girl loves to pretend: her imaginary friend, whom she calls Buggy, has birthday parties, and a house, and makes fancy clothes for her, and talks about Buggy's family and friends...very extravagant imaginings...and it tends to spill over into her academic life.

Mrs. Brown, instead of calling it a problem, calls it a gift. Instead of making my daughter feel like she is doing something wrong when she plays with Buggy in the middle of class, Mrs. Brown redirects her attention and reminds her to put Buggy in her pocket. The worst thing that has happened this year was that she lost recess time because she kept talking. Would a child who had trouble socializing have gotten in trouble for that? I think not.

I am so grateful for Mrs. Brown. For this, I was inspired during my knitting group to knit a scarf for her end of the year present. I had my daughter ask her teacher what her favorite color was... no wonder my little girl likes her so much; her answer was pink. I chose Le Fibre Nobili's Taj Mahal with my daughter yesterday from my FLYS. It is a Cashmere/Merino/Silk blend, one of the best kinds of blends, as far as I am concerned. It is soft with a wonderful sheen and it will show off the stitches wonderfully.

Wonderful fibers for my daughter's wonderful teacher. I wish all teachers were like this.

Zetor Scarf

I cast on for Zetor Scarf this past Thursday, before my knitting group met. I printed it out a couple of weeks ago and for some reason, the pattern never left my dining room table. Every time I cleared the table for a meal, there it was. It haunted me, until I gave in to the compulsion to cast on for it. I chose the Kauni 8/2 yarn that I bought from Stitches West because I thought that the slow transitions would match well with the pattern. When I saw the colors in the skein, they reminded me of roses and the way the petals slowly transition from white to pink.

I found the center ball from the skein and pulled it out. I was a little disappointed to see that it was a tan color...the whole center ball. Hmmmmm. I thought, well, it's not a big wad...so I decided to cast it on. I was wrong...the tan color went on and on...for 2 whole repeats of the second part of the pattern. Ugh, if the pattern wasn't so well written and so easily knit up, I would have frogged it and cut off the tan part of the yarn!

I just started the 3rd repeat of the second chart when the color finally changed to pink. THANK GOD! Now I was able to go to bed...

Aside from the disappointing color issue, the shawl is a nice pattern. You have to study the chart and the instructions carefully to understand that there is a 2 stitch garter on each side.

I've given up on lifelines, after forsaking them in my latest completed lace project, Gail. I found that placing markers after each pattern repeat is working for me. It reminds me of the double yarn overs in between the repeats. I am looking forward to seeing more of the pink and white transitions in this project; hopefully, they will balance out the wide tan neck area.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cozy in Cashmere and Silk

I started Cozy, a shawl that I found on Knitty.com. I had to knit something with the 6 skeins of Karabella Breeze that I bought from Babetta's last year. I refuse to admit that I can't find a simple pattern to use for this yarn. I love the color and for goodness' sake, it's a cashmere/silk blend. What am I...crazy?!

I needed an easy lace pattern in a shawl that will be a good cover up for those nights that I am chilly. I saw this pattern a while ago and kept a pin in it, as they say. I hope to use up most of the Breeze for it...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fun with Alpacas

I visited the West Valley Alpaca Farm with two of my friends from my Knitting Group today. I heard about it from one of my other knitting friends on Ravelry.

Pat Meade and Jon Robbins run this small farm, where they keep a herd of 11 alpaca. Pat says that at their largest, they had a herd of 30 at one time. They sell alpacas, and have a small store where they sell the fleece that they shear from their animals, their own yarn, and yarn from other alpaca yarn companies. I really really really wanted to buy some of their yarn, but I bought a whole bag of blanket fleece shorn from Phoenix, one of their males, and a half a bag of blanket fleece (split with Claudia) shorn from Dorian, another male with the most beautiful coloring: grey, brown, black, and tan. I am hoping that one of my spinner friends can spin it for me. Phoenix is the back alpaca in the photo to the right =>

I tried spinning with a drop spindle...didn't do much for me...I would rather have already spun yarn.

We watched Pat and Jon (and a young helper) shear Ligu, one of the studs. The fleece that they sheared off looked just like a rug, thick and warm. Pat said that it was a year's growth. They separated the fiber into three categories: blanket, which is the softest part of the alpaca, sheared from the saddle area and for projects that will be worn next to the skin, Seconds, which is coarser and had more particles than the blanket, and Thirds, which is coarser than Seconds, good for felting projects. Some of the shearings aren't considered good enough to use/sell, so Pat says that she uses them in her compost; she wastes nothing. They sell the blanket portions of their alpacas' fleece, 2 of which came home with me. While it is true that the fleece gets coarser with age, I couldn't tell the difference, or rather, I didn't mind paying much less for "older fleece" instead of the more expensive younger alpaca fleece. Heck, it's alpaca--it's all soft, as far as my hands are concerned!

This is Ligu before...and after his shearing!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Finished Gail!

After over a month of intensely focused lace knitting, here she is, waiting to be bound off. I was so excited to be done with the last purl row, I had to take a picture to capture the moment. I took the time to find just the right bind off for it...
It's like that moment where you want to think that nothing can go wrong...yet fear that if something can go wrong it will. My fear is that I will bind it off too tightly, or the edge won't match the CO edge. Oh horrors!

Ravelry forums to the rescue! K2, return to left needle, K2Tog. *K1 (plus st on right needle), return both to left needle, K2tog. Repeat from *

Here she is, bound off, and steam blocked. This way of blocking is so much easier than wet blocking! All I did was pin the finished shawl onto my blocking boards, heat up my iron and placed the hot iron, steaming, over the fabric, without letting the iron actually touch the fabric. I held the iron about one inch above my lace for about 5 seconds and voila!

I let it airdry overnight. This morning, I took off the pins and it was done.

Adorning my husband's recliner

Adorning me

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Summer Poncho

Lace is the way to go for summer knitting. Honestly, most yarn weights used for lace are so light, you can work on them in the heat of a summer baseball game and not feel like you have a sauna on your lap. Although cotton is not normally my fiber of choice when I knit, I could not help myself when my FLYS had organic fibers on sale this weekend; I bought 3 skeins of Rowan Purelife to make a lace poncho.

The owner was wearing the Easy Lace Poncho from Knitting Pure and Simple (one of my most favorite pattern companies by the way, because of their top down apparel). I was intrigue, because it was a poncho but lace...wow, I think I have to knit that, I said to myself. It was the simple feather and fan pattern and I thought I could figure it out.

Long story short, I had to read the pattern to find out the CO stitches and how much to increase them. Once I had that though, it was easy to wing it. I am almost done. Barring any major lace and/or pattern oopsies, I should be done by the weekend. I am so excited...my first poncho and first summer knit!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fiber Diet

I read in Dr. Sears Family Nutrition Book that the reason fresh fiber is so good for your body is because it attracts fat to itself. When your body gets rid of it, it pulls out the excess fat in your body.

I am ready to lose the extra weight I've had since giving birth (2 years ago - ugh!). No better time then now, because of all the fresh fruit that is becoming available (mmmm strawberries!), the temperature is just right (a little bit of a breeze, a little bit of sun), and summer is around the corner (always the incentive to lose weight).

I also need to cut back on the money I spend on yarn. I gave in yesterday because of the sale at Eat.Sleep.Knit. sigh I was not going to go there but they had yarn that my FLYS does not carry and there was a chance of getting it FREE so I bought some stuff. I only got 10% off, but with free shipping, it was worth it. I really cannot justify any more yarn purchases for at least a few months. Will I last that long? I am going to try my darnedest.

My Fiber 2-Prong Attack:

Buy and Eat more Fresh Fruit and Whole Wheat Products (I actually like Ak-mak, as do my kids)

Using my Knitting Skills as a Shield from Overindulging by knitting during the times that I am really craving that extra bowl of ice cream...or Doritos...or brownie...or two. I will get so many projects done!!! Who can't love that?!

I am also going to cut back on the snacks that I eat (chocolate doesn't count...), walk the dog for at least 45 minutes in the morning (very doable, because the heat doesn't kick in until 11:00 and he loves loves loves his walks, and he wakes me up early anyway), take the boy and dog out if I feel the need to look at yarn on Ravelry, lest the lust creeps up again and I feel the urge to visit Babetta's "just to take a look"- y'all know what that translates as...

Thank you Fiber my friend. I love you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hot Summer Knitting

I just came home from the midday walk with the dog. Oh my goodness I thought I was going to DIE!!! It is so hot out there!

Don't get me wrong...I love living in California. We get great weather most of the time. The problems we have where we live are the fire risk areas because we don't get the rain that other parts of the United States get. We also have earthquakes...

Right now, it is the heat. The sweltering, sweat inducing, dry, dry heat. A few months ago, when the weather was much cooler, I thought (smugly, I might add) that I could knit anywhere, anytime.

What the hell was I thinking?? Did I forget how miserable it can be here in the summertime? Did I have a memory lapse, akin to the one that mothers get after giving birth that a few hours prior, they were in the worst pain of their lives with the birth contractions? Or that just 9 months prior, they were stricken with a morning sickness that lasted 3 months, nonstop? (I give this example because I have this memory lapse at least 2 times a week)

I guess it really is time to start on those summer shawls with the cotton blends. Time to fondle and revisit the light weight yarns that if knit as a sweater would take a million years to finish.

My favorite yarn store owner was wearing the prettiest lace poncho the other day that I am going to make. It is a feather and fan pattern knit in the round with the shaping done by changing needles. I don't have the pattern on me, but I am betting that I can figure it out. The worse thing that can happen (I think) is that I can't figure it out and I have to buy the pattern...

I guess I have my summer knitting figured out. Now I have to figure out how to walk the dog without actually having to "go out"...

Why don't they have indoor dog parks, like they have indoor play parks for kids??

Monday, April 20, 2009

You may be a Yarn Snob if...

1) You look at your bank statement and every other line is from your FLYS or an online luxury yarn store

2) You secretly don't use your yarn from your "good stash" to knit clothes for your kids

3) Your mother in law keeps asking you about that boutique that you bought her cashmere shawl gift from last Christmas

4) You think nothing of living on coffee and feeding your kids pizza everyday until you catch the next update from your favorite-but-popular online yarn store

5) Your head and fingers itch when your best friend mentions that her daughter, who is learning how to knit, wants to knit you a scarf from a yarn she bought at Michael's

6) You feel obligated to assign a project to each of your yarns when your husband accidentally sees your stash..."present for your mom...present for your aunt Myrtle...present for your boss' wife..." You may even try to put the guilt trip on him by suggesting that he is ruining the surprise that you had in store for his tired and hard-working feet...

7) Your pooch's sweater is fuzzier than your pooch

8) Your daughter's teacher loves you for so generously donating 3 bags full of acrylic yarn for her class

9) You look at your Ravelry stash and realize that you are not sure how to pronounce half of the names of your yarn

10) Your stash is worth more than the car you bought last year

Friday, April 17, 2009

Handmaiden, Oh Handmaiden

I am a certified Yarn Snob and shopaholic. I try my best to not spend a lot of money on yarn and I honestly think I have a gauge in my brain telling me that I have enough yarn or that I have already spent enough money on non-essentials because there are weeks (truly!) when I do not have the urge to visit my FLYS, one of my favorite online yarn stores, or Amazon with the intention of purchasing something.

I noticed that I may have a problem when, a few months ago, I reviewed my bank statement and every other purchase listed was from my FLYS. Noting that, I tried to only visit her when I met my knitting group...when I reviewed my statement the following month, every other item listed was from Amazon or an on-line yarn store. Lucky for me, it was a sale month, so everything I bought was on sale...but still.

So I go through these yarn diet spurts where I do not buy yarn. None. nada.

And then...the withdrawal...I see my friends shopping for yarn...and then I feel some of the yarn that they are buying...and then I remember that I haven't visited my online yarn stores for awhile, especially the one that specializes in Handmaiden and Fleece Artist yarns. I go to "just look"....and I wind up with a shopping cart with skeins that I have projects in mind for. I give in... and then I visit WEBS and lo and behold they have a sale on Noro...how can I not buy some at 50% off?? and then I remember that I almost have a full frequent buyer's card from my FLYS, so I go there. I figure the amount I spend in my withdrawal week isn't as much as what I would spend if I spent a little at a time...right?

This thinking allows me to sleep at night, so I go along with it. Besides, I consider it my payment for watching the kids and now the dog all day. Pretty cheap daycare, if you ask me...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hrmmmm wha?

So this is how I have been feeling. I am always off when I can't get out of the house due to the weather, kids, or both. Last week it rained. I'm not complaining...we need the rain. I don't want a repeat of the fires we had last year. I couldn't take the kids out for more than a week. As much as they wanted to play in the orange air, I didn't think a good mother would allow it. It really impedes your fun if you are coughing up all that pollution from your lungs for days after....

Anyway, flash forward to last week, you can't exactly have a fun day at the park with raindrops making your sandwiches wet. Besides that, although playing on the slide makes you go super fast because it is so slippery, it also gives the kids a fast track to playing in the mud - yuck! Also, the monkey bars are out of the question, as well as the sandbox, unless you want sticky sand all over your house, in every crevice possible...no thank you...

More recently, the past few days have been windy and cold. I'm glad that my kids don't have allergies (knock on wood) but my daughter won't play outside when the weather is like that. She would rather stay inside and curl up on the couch than have her hair whip around her face while she is trying to slide down the fireman's pole. Since she is only 7, I am not comfortable leaving her alone in the house to take the dog and my son outside to play.

Yeah, I've been stricken with cabin fever.

But today I am determined to take the boy to the indoor play park...At least I have to leave the house to get to it...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Finding My Inner Ninja

This morning I was exhausted. Going to bed at midnight, sometimes later, and waking up at 6:00 in the morning to take the puppy out finally took its toll on me. My husband woke up soon after I did, thank goodness and after 10 minutes on the couch, I told him that I was going to take a nap. Two and a half hours later, I awoke in the nice warm bed, contemplating what I had to do that morning before I had to get ready to go to our friends' house for Easter brunch. Laundry...that's all I had to do...and even that seemed like a lot. Throwing dirty laundry in the washer, no problem. Throwing the finished wash in the dryer, no problem. Folding...problem. Where would I find the time and space unless I became invisible and made it a secret that I was awake, doing housework?

Momma Ninja to the rescue. I silently sneaked past my daughter watching TV, hid from my son eating his precious cereal, and quickly and quietly evaded the puppy while I slid into the garage to toss the laundry in the washer and place last night's clothes in the dryer. After carefully opening the door to the kitchen, I went back the way I came and quietly went into my bedroom where the clean clothes were waiting for me to be folded. I closed the door behind me and started to fold. I finished the first basket and started the second basket. I gasped as the door opened...phew! It was just my husband.

I finished the two loads that I didn't have a chance to fold during the week. I tried my best to finish the two loads in the washer and dryer, but to no avail. Sigh...I guess Ninja Momma can only do so much...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Top 10 reasons not to use a lifeline

1) It gets in your way while knitting. I cut off really long pieces of cord for my lifelines. Really long. Probably too long. So I tie the ends together so they don't work themselves out of my rows. Maybe this is the problem. Every time I knit the row after the row that has the lifeline, the lifeline tends to worm up into my working row...so I focus on not knitting the lifeline instead of focusing on knitting my pattern. It drives me crazy. Plus, the lifeline (because of the length) gets tangled in my knitting, especially if I use floss or thread.

2) You enjoy frogging back. I don't mind frogging back...perfection takes time. Lots of really great things have been torn down only to be restarted again. The Model T, the lightbulb, Mrs. Fields cookies, really good cheesecake...

3) It's not a big deal if you are knitting a RS pattern row on a WS purl row. As long as you tink back carefully, you are okay...and you don't have that darn lifeline distracting you. Just watch out for your double yarn overs.

4) No matter what you do, you keep knitting the lifeline. You also keep putting the lifeline into your stitchmarkers. Gah! You are not an idiot, you are just more focused on knitting the pattern and are good at ignoring distractions.

5) Stitchmarkers are working for you. They do for me. I don't mind that my needles jingle as I knit. It's like sitting outside in the summer, listening to windchimes, without the breeze giving me goosebumps.

6) The lifeline slips out. Does this really need explanation?

7) You don't like needing a crutch when you are knitting. You are confident that you know the pattern well enough that a lifeline isn't worth the hassle. Besides, the pattern is supposed to be for beginners; why would a designer be so cruel so say that their pattern is super easy if it needs a lifeline? There is special place in knitter's hell for people like that.

8) You forgot to put the lifeline cord in your Harmony Knitpicks circular needles before you started knitting the purl row. What's the point of tinking back to reknit a row just for the lifeline if you are going to mess up the row?? Now that doesn't make sense.

9) It's too much trouble to put in the lifeline after the perfect row is knit. It's tricky but doable. I actually found a site that shows you how...but only in a stockinette row. In lace, fuhget abowt it!

10) You don't like Regis Philbin and what does he know about knitting anyway??? Wait, are you sure which lifeline I am talking about?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I really have to stop looking at yarn

I like to read blogs. Especially blogs of independent yarn dyers and spinners. I visited the Sanguine Gryphon's blog today because she had a new post....Now I am wanting to buy more yarn....and I promised myself that I would knit down my stash first....what to do...

Alright, I thought I would share my dilemma. Thanks for reading and empathizing...carry on.

Knitting Lace Tips

Knitting lace is one of those things that beginning knitters ooh and aaah at, something that seems so out of reach. At least I felt that way before I knit my first lace pattern. There are so many new symbols and techniques to learn with lace that it seems too much at one time. My first lace project was Convertible, started in Oregon during vacation last summer with Matsuri yarn from Noro. It was such a fun knit and gave me such confidence that I splurged on a locally spun wool and silk blend to make Sweet Alyssum. That pattern was more challenging and I had to restart a couple of times and relied on lifelines to keep from having to frog back a million times. But the end result was worth it. I had something really beautiful that I made with my own two hands, something that I previously thought was impossible for me to do.

It was then that my love affair with lace started. More often than not, I found myself looking for lace patterns to incorporate into the sweaters and blankets and hats that I knitted for people. I looked for every knitting lace book I could find and even purchased an out of print book that cost as much as a week's worth of groceries. I bought a play mat set from Home Depot to block my lace projects, T-pins from Walmart, scoured the internet for inexpensive tips to block my lace, studied patterns to figure out why a ssk was better than a k2tog to use in some patterns. Obsessed, that what I was.

This month, I am hosting our knitting group's first Lace KAL and I thought that I would write some tips to help our first time lace knitters.

Lifelines are my first suggestion. I am using a very thin clear plastic jewelry cord as a lifeline for my Gail. I've used dental floss before and no matter how hard I try, I somehow knit into it, so when I try to pull it out, it gets stuck and ruins what I have done. The jewelry cord is nice and slick, so there is no chance of it being knit into. However, one word of caution with it is that because it is slick, you have to have enough of it to tie at the ends so it doesn't slip out while you are knitting.

There are 2 types of lifelines. The first is one that you insert after knitting a row. There are instructions on how to do this from Heartstrings Fiberarts here. You will need a tapestry needle and floss, the cord that I mentioned above, or whatever you want to hold your row. This lifeline is easiest on projects that have full rows of stockinette stitch.

The second type is the one that you attach to your needle and you pull through the row that you are knitting currently. This one you need to plan out; you should do it on a row that you know has the best chance of not having any mistakes (usually a WS purl row). I like to place the second type of lifeline before and after a difficult row. Also, the second type of lifeline is easiest with needles like the Knitpicks Harmony interchangeable circular needles because these needles are designed with a hole through which you can insert the cord; you don't have to tape it or anything like that.

My second suggestion is Stitchmarkers....lots and lots and lots of stitchmarkers. Okay...maybe you don't need that much. But I am using my Gail as the reference. This particular pattern has something like a 14 row repeat, so it is easy to forget how many YOs and SSKs and K2TOGs you are supposed to have on each row. Plus there are some rows where you have double YOs...yes, nightmarish if you are not fully focused on what the heck you are doing. Using stitchmarkers at every section of pattern is making the changes in the pattern doable.

My third suggestion is Counting every section. Now if your pattern only has one or two sections, then this may be necessary to do every few rows, just to make sure that you have the right amount of stitches. Although now that I think about it, you will probably know while knitting a row whether or not you have the correct amount of stitches...For Gail, I count every section. This has been indispensable, as I have noted, the many YOs are easy to drop and/or forget to do. Although counting this much may seem like a waste of time, imagine the time you will lose if you finish the row and realize on your next RS row that you have the wrong number of stitches. Tinking is a pain in lace; imagine tinking back and dropping a stitch. Do you really think you can find (or do you really want to??) the dropped stitch and figuring out where it goes in the pattern?? YOs are easy to fix...after you tink back the purl row...The thought makes me shudder. I would just rather start over and be an anal row counter.

My fourth suggestion and one that I force myself to follow is not knitting lace while you are half asleep and or with friends. Focus is the important thing in knitting lace. While I agree that it is very possible to knit the easier lace patterns distracted, do you really want to risk this? Especially considering that if you are using gorgeous fingering or lace yarn spun from merino wool, silk, or cashmere, like Handmaiden, or Malabrigo, or Wollmeise, or something just as delicate, these yarns are prone to fuzzing from constant frogging (ask me how I know). However, if you are starting a lace project with worsted weight, then you are smarter than me, because frogging worsted weight isn't half as bad...I love sweaters with lace, or vests, like Talia, which my friend Liz is knitting for her first lace project.

These are some tips that have helped me in lace knitting. I hope they offer some assistance and hope that lace is something that you can do too!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cereal Pictures

It's a known fact that my son doesn't like his picture taken. He figures out when I am going to take a shot and spins his head just as my slow-as-molasses digital camera takes the picture. Well today, I discovered something...He likes his picture taken when he is eating...I guess the messier the better:

Oh, are you taking a picture?

Here's a better shot mom. I'll put the spoon lower so you can see more of my face.

(giggles) I like the funny noises you're making mom.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oops I did it again

I started Gail again. Just ripped it all out, sacrificed a couple yards of my Mini Maiden and started the darn thing over again. This time, I am using all of the tricks in my knitting arsenal to defeat the pattern and have the finished product before the end of the summer.

Can you believe that I had a couple of false starts...again...Ugh, those double yarnovers are tricky. But I did it on the second restart.

I placed stitchmarkers after every group in the pattern. This is definitely making a difference, and it making it so easy to count after every few stitches. Yes, this anal counting is necessary to maintain the pattern. What makes this pattern so difficult is that each right side row is different from the one before. And you can't figure out what the pattern is doing until you have done the full pattern once...and even then....

So, my first helpful advice for those doing the April KAL Lace is to get some stitchmarkers and use them! Don't think that your friends will laugh at you for having so many dangling from your needles! Show them the chart and they will understand. If they don't, they obviously have never done lace and don't even know what a lifeline is...or they think it is something from that game show with Regis Philbin, and as far as I know, he doesn't knit.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I will not be defeated

I am working on Gail, having relegated Katje to the Almost Finished bag. I am using Handmaiden Mini Maiden and I thought the colorway is Vintage...I am unsure because I bought another skein from another retailer in the same colorway and they look completely different...

Anyway, Gail is HARD!!!! I finally frogged it because I got tired of ripping it back. I am going to start over and not work on it unless I am totally focused on knitting. No kids, No hubby, No TV, Nothing. Nada.

I am determined to make this beautiful pattern even if it prevents me from making a sweater for Pippin, finishing a sock for Sock Wars, making Flair. It will not defeat me!

Besides, I already told my group that I am making it...so I am committed. Now I look back and think, what the hell was I thinking??????

Monday, March 30, 2009


I cast on for Gail (aka Nightsongs) and free lace shawl pattern I found on Ravelry. I must say that it must be one of the most gorgeous patterns I have ever seen. It reminds me of peacock feathers, you know, the kind peacocks leave around the zoo and that are sold in zoo gift shops. I chose my Handmaiden Mini Maiden in the colorway Vintage because I love the colors in the skein and it reminds me of the shimmering colors you see in a peacock feather.

I am hosting the first Lace KAL in my knitting group. I wanted to help the people that think lace is hard to do. Admittedly, some of the patterns are hard; the many yarnovers are easy to lose and reading charts can be a challenge. I will also add that I had to start Gail 4 times yesterday...yes 4! I kept dropping the yarn overs (or thought I did) and the 3rd and 4th times I had to rip everything out, I still did not put in a lifeline (who knew I needed one so early??), and I was reading the wrong row on the doggone chart. Yeah, that'll mess you up...I am normally an anal counter, but like I mentioned, who knew I would run into problems so early in the game.

As you can imagine, I put in a lifeline right before my problem row on my 4th attempt. I had to focus on what I was doing around the middle of the chart, but then it got easier. I finished one full pattern and now ready to do the repeats. I am so grateful that Dorene Giordano (designer for Gail) allowed Jane Araujoto share the chart that she rewrote to make it easier to understand how the repeats were knit. While the first pattern is straightforward,it may have been frustrating to figure out how to knit the pattern repeats in the subsequent rows (looking at the reworked chart).

As with all of my projects, I am anxious for some time today to continue working on it. Probably won't be until tonight. Hopefully, my son will tak e a nap so I can work on it some more...I hope our new puppy takes naps...

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Color-Blind Bullet

Way back when, I studied genetics in high school and even thought that I may become a geneticist. Playing around with the possible matches based on the characteristics of two people was so fascinating. One of the first things I did was to see my probability of having children with color-blindness, because of my father's condition. While I don't remember why I never continued in my studies in that field, I do remember that if I had a son, he would have a 50% chance of being a carrier, but not himself be affected.

As fate would have it, my father-in-law was also color-blind. My husband is only a carrier; our future son would have had a 25% chance of having this condition. I hoped, however, that our son would be spared...I love colors. Being an artist and creative as I am, I have no idea what it would be like not to be able to see nuances of green or the beautiful variegations in a skein of yarn, nor do I want to.

My son is now almost 2 and he is so smart. He knows all the parts of the body (yes, all!), his letters and numbers, and some of his colors. His favorite is blue. When he sees my blue lace blocking mat, he likes to pull it out and announce, "Blue! Down!" while he drops it on the floor. I taught him green and yellow...and he knows those...I think. I tried to teach him red...at first I thought that maybe the word "red" is too hard to say. He has trouble with the r sound, after all. When we go to the play area in the mall, he happily points to the green lights in the rides and says the color, but doesn't pay attention to the red lights.

As obsessive as I can be, I tested him on his ability to see all colors as much as I could. I read color books to him every day and pointed out the different colors to him in his favorite alphabet books, each time hoping that he would point to a red object and say "red!".

The other day, he pulled out my lace blocking mats to play on again. He named the colors of each one as he pulled them down..."Blue! 'Lo! G(r)een!" I held my breath as he pulled on the red one..."G(r)een!"

I told my husband...What could this mean? Are my fears confirmed? Or is our smart little boy playing a trick on me? Do you think maybe he can't say Red?

We'll know when he is tested. For now, I tell myself there are worse things. He is still a healthy, active, funny little boy whom I love so much.

Information on Color-Blindness can be seen here.

Interesting but useless facts

I have a good friend David who has a really good head for remembering all sorts of information. Some is useful. As a professional for the computer industry, this serves him well. He is also an easy person to talk to because he remembers things that you tell him (he is a great date because of this, so I've heard).

The other stuff that he knows is no so useful...did you know that there was once a dog that died because he ate too much of a processed meat product (clue: rhymes with ham). I didn't, until Dave told me...

So when I found Mental Floss, I thought of my good friend David, someone who has a limitless thirst for knowledge and a bottomless memory bank.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gosh darn it

The first sleeve is KILLING ME! I got to the edge and bound it off, only to rip it out to 2 inches past the separation because somehow I dropped a stitch when I was binding off. It is impossible to find a dropped stitch in a seed stitch pattern. IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I am just doing a gosh darn plain flared sleeve, no seed stitch (mmm maybe at the end) and I will do ANYTHING not to frog again!!!!

SOB I wanted to wear it to Knitting Night

Next week, next week...

I registered for Sock Wars today. Yay! I will have a busy couple of months. I will be doing the Lace KAL in April and Sock Wars in May...unless I am "assassinated" in the first round....maybe that won't be too bad

Monday, March 23, 2009

Knit It Like Jang

I just watched a video on using increase/decrease pairs and short rows to shape cables demonstrated by Eunny Jang. It is the coolest thing. First she explains how, by decreasing before the purl channel (she chose SSP), working across the cable, and increasing after the purl channel (using M1 on a purl stitch), you can force a cable to twist diagonally, while keeping the sides perpendicular. By doing this on every RS row, the cable slants at a 45 degree angle. However this angle can be changed by decreasing/increasing either more or less frequently.

She also showed how to curve the cable using short rows. This technique wasn't as clearly explained, as you will see if you are able to view the video. I was very disappointed because although I am familiar with short rows, and have worked them in quite a few of my projects, I have not used them with cables. I love how the cables curve in the sample vest in the video. The technique is both simple and sophisticated. I discovered that the pattern for the vest is in the famous Fall 2007 Interweave Knits issue, an issue that I coveted, stalked the destash pages for, and rewarded with. Happy Day!!

What really impressed me about the video though, is the way Eunny Jang knits! All I see is her fingers gently gliding the yarn back and forth on the tips of her needles. WOW! How does she do that?? Compared to her, my knitting style looks very clumsy indeed. Me, with my self taught continental-ish throwing with my left hand over the right needle. Some have expressed envy with the speed with which I knit, and I guess that is not something I should be ashamed of. But the grace of Eunny Jang's knitting is wondrous to watch.....sigh... Oh to knit like Jang...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kinnearing Practice

I love that there is a name for what I have to do to get pictures of my son. He absolutely hates to have his picture taken. Hates it!

I have many pictures of the Head Turn:

the Head Shake:the Duck and Cover:

the Walk-Away (it's worse that my camera would lose to molasses in a race):and the Possessed-Boy:

When I kinnear, I actually get somewhat nice pictures (relatively speaking):

I didn't say they were perfect...Here he is when he refused my very sweet request for his picture the other day. Threats sometimes work, especially when they don't know you are using threats: