Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I finished the sweater for dh just a moment ago!I had two remaining ends left to weave in, though the rest has been done for about a week... I don't know what I was thinking last week which enabled me to weave in all of the other ends and decide to leave two for "later", but "later" is here, the sweater is finished, and now I'm going to wrap it! I also bought some long sleeved crew neck shirts for dh to wear under it (white, black, and gray). Comparing it against a long-sleeved polo shirt, I think it will actually fit him, too.

DH is out with the boys buying groceries for an early Christmas Eve feast. Then we'll go to church this evening. Tomorrow we will go to the Ronald McDonald house and bring them some items from their "wish list", something which has become an annual tradition for us on Christmas Day. We are so thankful for our own healthy kids, so it is a small effort to help somebody else who might not be so fortunate right now.

In any case, I'd better get back to my gift wrapping, but I just wanted to pop in here to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ha! Christmas knitting??

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Wow - I love your Subway mittens! Gorgeous colorway, and they'll be so practical too. I really hope this wool blend works for you. And congratulations on finishing your gift socks!

I'm a rather erratic Christmas knitter. I have had years when I planned ahead what I would knit, and years when it was all very spur of the moment. (Ah, my innocent first year when I learned to knit in November and decided to make mittens for my 6 nieces. Thank heavens a couple of them were still little - and I finished on Christmas Eve in the living room while everyone was eating in the dining room!) This one was one those years when I spent all of November and most of December under the impression that I wasn't going to do any Christmas knitting. (snort) Plenty of baby knitting going on.

(Baby knitting update - I whipped up a quick hat for a girl, in case that is what my niece has in the next few weeks. I had a boy hat in stock.....)
IMG_3903.JPG IMG_3838.JPG

Anyway. I finished up my Tulip sweater for my youngest niece last week, and even wove in ends and blocked it. (Here's a picture - poor thing is teething and was all drippy that day!)

Ok, ok, this does relate to Christmas knitting. So, I was left with several wips, but (this is the key) NO PRESSING DEADLINES. Which is a dangerous position to be in during the month of December. I briefly flirted with the idea of making soap sweaters for my co-workers, but counted that up and it was 10, so I put that as a "probably not." I seriously decided to break out the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine that I bought about 5 years ago and use stash yarn and leftovers to make a toddler blanket for my great-niece, who dearly covets one. Her birthday is..tomorrow, but I thought if I did the body on the machine, I could sew it up and embellish it in time. (Turns out I need to learn more about the machine. After the 5th try that either jumped off the machine or broke the yarn by the 6th row, I gave up on this idea.) Then I had several crazy thoughts of other quick projects for large groups of people....Lauren talked me down from several of those.

Last weekend, I planned to travel to visit my niece in Ohio (the one about to have a baby!) but the snowstorm that was predicted made that unwise. Left with an unexpected free weekend, I decided to spend the time knitting. I decided to see how many of the 10 soap sweaters I could do in 2 days.


The answer is 11! Isn't that wild? Most of them went pretty quickly, although the fair-isle took about 4 hours! I tried several versions getting that one started, but it was pretty fun.


I'm going to post the pattern again using the magic loop method, which I've decided I prefer. I've made enough of them now that I know how big a "field" I have to work with for the "body." I really like using the pattern idea from the Tulip sweater where color changes are done with a row of seed stitch, which makes the pretty "lacy" color changes. It was fun to use yarns from previous projects - there is a "sock monkey" one, and the special one using the left over Dream-In-Color from the Tulip sweater. And I finally found something to do with my Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Rainbow colorway - it doesn't pool in this project!!
So, I may try to whip up more of these before my family Christmas get-together, we'll see. I still have plenty of scrap yarn! Although- I have 3 pairs of socks that are getting holes, and so besides one more baby blanket, I really need to get cracking on socks for myself! And I need to get out the sewing machine to do some receiving blankets. Christmas cookies, shopping, getting ready for the party......
I'm probably done Christmas knitting!
Keep knitting!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

This is NOT an iPod

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

It is so fun to hear what everybody is working on for Christmas gifts! Also, everybody sounds quite sane about the Christmas knitting this year, so I'm glad to hear there isn't too much of a frenzy going on right now. That reminds me, I still have to finish the sweater for dh.....which I'll do tonight, when he is at his choir rehearsal.

The last time we visited my mom and dad, as we were leaving, and before I could think about it and say, "Just wait one minute!", my dad put this into the back of our van:It is a reel-to-reel tape recorder/player which my dad purchased in the 1950's, and in addition to being the size of a suitcase, it weighs approximately 33 pounds -- definitely not something you'd stick in the pocket of your coat like, say, an iPod... He included a stack of tape reels, and told me that if I could figure out what was on the tapes, which ones were worth keeping, and which ones weren't, then it would make a **lot** of people happy. (I think what he really meant by that is, "Mom wants all of this cr*p out of the house.")

Seems like an easy enough task, except for the fact that the 33 pound recorder/player **doesn't** !! Turning it on yielded a big humming noise and a lit light bulb, but the mechanism which is supposed to advance the tape didn't. Now I am an electrical engineer, but 1950's tape recorder technology is something they didn't teach me in the 1980's, nor do I have the time or desire to really dig into it right now...

And so, I went to see Bob. After making several phone calls and web inquiries, it seemed like Bob would be able to help us out -- mainly because my schedule was so crazy with the class and the preschool and swimming lessons and being home when my son's bus returned him to us at the end of the day, and Bob was able to see us on a particular Thursday morning when we happened to have a free two hours. He had equipment which allowed us to determine what was on both sides of the tapes at the same time and which could filter out some of the tape quality issues, etc. And so, after going through five tapes, we turned this stack: into this:It includes recordings of one of my dad's bands (from more than 40 years ago), some of his very fine accordion playing, and a little musical show my siblings and I put together in 1976. I'll make a label and content sheet for it... and then this will be my Christmas gift to my dad, along with the broken 33 pound reel-to-reel tape recorder/player...unless one of our readers would like it, but I'm telling you, shipping would not be cheap...

More about gifts in my next post. I finished up shopping for all of my nieces and nephews and will share what I found which was either made in the USA and/or fair trade...but now I must go grocery shopping. Also, I'm planning on there being actual knitting content in my next post...

Have a great day!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Subway Mittens

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

This morning I went to the gym and I brought my ear phones instead of my chemistry binder. It felt weird... Great to have some time for others things; sad that I'll miss all of the people and the whole learning experience thing. (I'm not taking classes next semester; it will be my first semester in which I don't have to study since 2004. Now I'll have no excuse for a messy house.) And, you won't have to hear me blathering on about it any more!

Here is almost half of a pair of Subway Mittens (pattern from the winter issue of Interweave Knits). (Please pardon the crummy photo -- I'll get some better pictures when they are done.) I have the pocket 2/3 sewn in place, and the flap is done though not sewn in place. (Recall that I am a picky, picky "finisher", so it takes me forever to sew these pieces together...) Reading the article in the magazine, for some metro transportation systems, you can just leave the card in the mitten pocket and wave your hand in front of the sensor as you are admitted into the system. We don't have anything like that in Madison (yet), but I am planning ahead for next year when I am (hopefully) in grad school and I will keep my free bus pass in the little pocket -- I'll have to dig it out to slide it through the card reader on the bus, but it will be a handy place to keep it. Plus, a pocket on a mitten just looks cool... Also, I really didn't like the pointy tips at first, but now I think they look nice and they are so quick and easy. I chose the yarn because I thought it wouldn't irritate my hands: It is a wool/cotton blend, and generally my hands literally become raw in wool mittens, but I am cautiously optimistic that these are going to work out great! Very soft, though the warmth factor will be another critical test...

And now, just some notes to our commenters (and I ALWAYS love hearing from you!):

Cindy G: The sock yarn I used was Trekking (75%wool, 25%nylon) and I love it!

Michele: Well, technically, I don't do a lot of "housework", so that helps with the schedule :-) We keep things picked up around here, though I have plenty of dust and dishes sitting around at any given time. I'm trying to teach the boys to take care of their own things -- their future wives will thank me! I'm so glad you have plenty of time to play now!! Thank you for your note!

Sus: You cracked me up with your comment about weaving ends in while in the driveway!

Well, my five year old and I are going to get going on some Christmas shopping this morning, for my nieces and nephews. Eventually I'd like to convince my family to do the alternative gift thing in which we all pool our gift money and give it to charities, though I suggested that a few years ago and it wasn't received very well. Maybe when the kids are all a little bit older, I'll try again with that idea. In the meantime, I'm going to try to buy either local or fair trade items. I'll let you know what I find.

Just a general question to everybody: How are you coming on your Christmas knitting?

Have a blessed day!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

In the Nick of Time!

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

These are not just *any* socks. These, finished only one hour before I must leave and take them with me, are *gift socks* for one of my friends. (Well, full disclosure -- I still must weave in the yarn ends on the toes, but, "YAY!", they are going to be done!) Yes, done ON TIME, and I'm happy with how they turned out...and 50% of the gifts I'm knitting for Christmas are done now!(Really, my sock blockers aren't that pretty, but they do a nice job with the displaying of the socks!)

As my final chem2 exam is looming over me (test tomorrow night, scheduled from 5:30 until 9:30pm, though most students won't need that entire time), I'm starting to look around the house and mentally determine how I'll spend my first homework-free week since August. I must say, there are many possibilities to choose from. I suppose I ought to tackle the Christmas tasks, first. Then, there's just general home neglect -- lots of spider webs in the corners of the ceilings, still only a valence and a half sewn for the master bedroom windows, still the caulking re-do much needed around the tub in our main bathroom and some painting in there, and generally putting stuff away which I've only had a chance to "throw in a general direction" while I've been busy with other things. (The chemists among you will understand what I mean when I say that the delta entropy in my home since I began my class is a large, positive value. And, unfortunately, changing the delta entropy to a negative value is NOT a spontaneous process!) I can only imagine how glamorous all of these to-do items must sound, but I think it will be good for me to finally have time for these things, and I'll feel great checking things off my list. Plus, it will hopefully help lessen the loss I know I'll feel as my class finishes. I have a hard time when things end. I'm old and sappy that way...

Anyway, off to get ready for the kids' Sunday School Christmas Pageant. My seven year old is singing a solo, and because I'm his mom, of course I think that he's the most talented kid in the program! More soon, and I'll be posting more frequently! I bet you can hardly wait until I share my bathtub caulking experiences with you...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Off the needles!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

I'm so excited for your Sapporo success - it's a wonderful sweater, and it FITS!! Always a bonus!

It's been even LONGER since my last post, and I've also been missing talking to you. I have tons of pictures, which means there is plenty to say. It all boils down to time. As usual.

I've been working overtime - 10 hours a week. My first thought was that those 10 hours had to come from somewhere - they can not come from sleep, and I prefer they not come from knitting or blogging time. While I have maintained a reasonable sleep schedule....well...knitting and blogging have suffered. But here are some pictures of what knitting (and knitting related activity!) I have managed

Most excitedly, the baby blanket I have been working on has gone from this:

to this!

It remains to be blocked, and very little of the 9 skeins of yarn remain.

What's left

The final 5 rows, about an hour and a half of knitting, took me a week to work into my schedule!

I also cast on this Tulip Sweater from a kit I purchased online last summer.


I am finishing up the first sleeve and I hope to get more knitting time in this weekend.

Applied I-Cord Edging!

There has also been yarn-store action since last I posted. You don't know how sorry I was to miss the fall open-house at Blackberry Ridge, especially since I was in Kenosha that weekend!! SO close!! But my trip was barely a day-and-a-half long, and so there was simply not time for the additional driving. I consoled myself by visiting the LYS in Kenosha, Fiddlehead Yarns. I made my first visit to that store last summer, and my main disappointment was in the lack of interesting sock yarn. Well, that has been remedied!

They had several nice hand-dyed sock yarns, including one I'd never seen....Araucania sock yarn. I loved the colorways, and once I got home I really wished I had chosen it! In the end, I chose a sport-weight Lorna's Laces, and since I had to wait a bit for my ride, I cast on right there! I've got a couple of inches done, but I've decided to switch to a different pattern, so frogging is in the future for this project.

New Socks

I have a few other yarn store pictures - on our annual after-Thanksgiving shopping trip, I went to Cottage Knits in Columbus IN. I noticed online that they had moved to a new location and I was really excited when I saw it. It is a very cute "cottage" and they've done a great job of turning it into a yarn store.
Cottage Knits
There is plenty of room for yarn, a cozy room with a fireplace and comfortable chairs to just knit and visit. There's also a nice big classroom! I picked up some Collinette Jitterbug sock yarn.
Sock yarn

And finally, we are getting a new yarn store here in Fort Wayne! Knitting Off Broadway will be opening Dec 28th. It's located just off Broadway - a couple of blocks from the GE plant! They had a little "preview" last Friday, a "Bare-Walls Trunk Show" of some sweater kits they will carry. Knitting at Lunch and I went down on our lunch break to check it out - there was some excitement, I can tell you!! The shop is cute, altho a little small. Can't wait to see it decked out in new yarn!
Excitement Knitting Off Broadway!

I'll close with a picture from my niece's baby shower from last October - I like to call it "what I'm knitting for!" One of these babies was born 2 days later, one is due before Christmas, and the last in March.

What I'm knitting for!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's been a while...

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

Thank you all so much for the wonderful feedback regarding the Saporro! I really love the sweater, and every time I wear it, I'm motivated to make another Dale pattern. Then I consider what else is going on in my life right now, including other yarn in my stash, and I return to reality...

It's been TOO LONG since my last post, and I've missed you! Things will be winding down in two weeks, but in the meantime, I have a big test tomorrow (which explains why I decided to post today, instead of studying...), and a final exam in two weeks (watch for **even more** knitting activity). Things are going well, though continue to be very busy. I may be pathetic, because I love this chem2 class. My professor is great, the material is interesting, and when you put those two things together, I don't mind the huge amount of work it is.

...sort of like knitting that way..... Here's a huge amount of stockinette:Yes -- The Alpaca Vee, Christmas gift for my dh, finished circumference of 48", is finished except for three things:
Knitting the vee-neck band
Sewing the underarm holes
Weaving in the ends

I have it blocking now, and will probably finish it this week. I am hoping that the upper arms aren't too snug, though I blocked it out to a dimension which should be fine, but I always worry a little bit until the moment of truth when dh is actually wearing it. It's plain by my standards, but I think he'll like it that way...

That's the major Christmas knitting, and I must say that finishing it early in December is so much better than last year, when the big gift sweater wasn't finished until December 24th, the same day it was given away...

Secondary Christmas knitting is a pair of socks, though those are on the home stretch, too. Apparently, what it really takes to get my knitting mojo going is having homework lurking in the background, so it becomes more than just knitting. It is **procrastination**....

Anyway, I also made a pair of Subway Mittens (from the Winter 2007 Interweave), but I gave them away without taking a picture of them. I've started another pair, however, for myself, using a merino/cotton blend. I'm playing around with some different yarns to see if I can find anything that has wool in it which doesn't make my hands itch. This particular yarn shows some promise. More on these as they progress...

In other news, I took my five year old to his swimming lesson this morning, and while I was sitting on a bench knitting, I noticed a man on the other side of the pool who looked just like my Physiology professor from two years ago. After my son's lesson was over, I walked right by the man, and he was looking at me as though he might know me, too, so I called him by name, and it was him! Never in my life was I more glad that **I wasn't** wearing a swim suit... In any case, always fun to chat with former teachers.

I hope this finds you well, and I know it finds you busy -- you're a knitter, after all, and Christmas is only 21 days away!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)