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 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 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 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 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