Monday, December 29, 2008

Something Fishy

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,
I'm going to enjoy watching your hemlock blanket unfold. (I am wondering...just a thought here...perhaps some knitting machine lessons for you in January, as a New Years' goal, to give you a fighting chance at getting Grace's machine-knit blanket done by next December?....just sayin'...) After your "airbags and pointy sticks" comment, I think about you now whenever I'm a passenger knitting... My sister was in an accident a couple of weeks ago in which her vehicle rolled over twice -- one never knows when something crazy like that is going to happen. (Thankfully, she only had some minor injuries...but after hearing about all of the stuff that went flying around the inside of her passenger compartment, I think we might alter the way we pack for trips by securing things better...)

We celebrated Christmas twice, and will celebrate one more time yet. It's all good fun, though I've barely had a break since I was done with school. Our Christmas letters will have more of an Epiphany theme (or perhaps, Presidents' Day) this year, and I'm hopeful I can get those sent out by the end of this week.

All three hoodies were done on time, and the recipients loved them. It was rather grueling to fit them in right before Christmas (along with my other Christmas preparations), but totally worth it when my eight year old told me how warm and comfy it was, and that he really liked it. I'm going to try to make one for me this week...and I might have enough fabric left over for a fleece bathrobe for myself, too. I've made a fleece robe for each of my guys over the years; now it's my turn :-)

And, I finished the fish hat... the night before I gifted it:It cracks me up...So, are any of you setting any New Years' goals? Have a safe and fun holiday!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We're all a little nuts these days....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Ah, the waning days of Advent - the triumphs, the failures....and the letting go. I love the fleece hoodies! Not nuts at all to have your guys all cozy and warm. It's always good to have successful last-minute-projects! I hope you're all shoveled out of the snow and that you have safe traveling. And don't forget to stop knitting while a passenger on slippery roads. Airbags and pointy sticks. Just sayin'.

I've had some successes, and some insanity and spectacular failures as well! 

I finished the legwarmer for my friend, and she reports that is it quite effective at keeping the 'robo-leg' warm. I also supplied her with a large rectangle that I had felted for a purse project that went off the rail several years ago. She was able to fashion that into an 'outer-leg-warmer' so that she has two layers, and the outer one is easier to get on and off. So, YAY!

I also managed to whip up another of those 3-hour scarves, which I'll give in the white elephant exchange tonight. I'm especially pleased because this was some stash busting! A while back, an entire post and subsequent stash reduction sale where inspired by some yarn that I couldn't remember buying! 2 skeins of a worsted in an orange/purple variegation and 2 skeins of a brushed Alpaca in a lovely burnt orange. I carried the 4 strands and used my size 19 needles, and the result is 70" of cushy goodness. I'm sure that there are a couple of people in the exchange who will want to trade for it!

Now to my insanity. My great-niece Grace has her birthday on December 22nd. Every year. Five years now. This is never a surprise to me. In the fall of 2007, she asked me to knit her a blanket. I remembered that I have a knitting machine that I have never really used, and I thought I could knit some strips with that, sew them together and add a little embellishment and border with hand knitting, and 
1. fulfill her request
2. use up some leftover yarn and extra stash
3. get some use out of the machine I bought
4. whip this up in next to no-time.

Of course, I waited until the week before her birthday to get the machine out, and then I fought with it for several days before giving up in despair. I bought her a gift.

I contacted someone about lessons, and she gave me valuable tips on setting it up (I needed to buy a shelf and some clamps to have a level surface) and told me about group meetings, classes and offered private lessons. Now, I had bought myself another whole year. Not due until December 22, 2008. I did buy the shelf and the clamps, and found them handy for my ballwinder and swift during the year. However, despite many opportunities to go to club meetings, classes - even a machine knitting CAMP, we arrived at December 20th with no real progress on this project. But hey - machine knitting - it's fast, right?

So on Saturday, in between cookie baking, I set up the machine and got started. And it did go better. A little better. I gave up at about 8 pm when I didn't have anything longer than 10 rows. Sunday at 4 am the power went off (oh, by the way? We had an big ice storm!) It's not an electric machine, so I could try again that afternoon in the daylight. And actually the power was back on by early afternoon, so that was grand. Again, between batches of cookies, I tackled that thing. I did eventually (like 6 hours later) get a strip that is about 14" x 30" and has 5 different blocks. I even striped a block! But while I could go along for quite a while with no problem, when I DID have a problem - it was spectacular. 1/2 the stitches would jump off the needles, and it would take 40-50 minutes to get them all back on and back to normal. (Hey - it's progress. At least I can get them back on instead of throwing the piece across the room and starting over!) My parents observed my mood and TIPTOED past me to get to the cookies!

I bought Grace a book for her birthday. Insanity. But I moved on.

So, since I'm done with the December knitting, I was able to cast on for the Hemlock Ring Blanket I'm making for my new niece or nephew, who should arrive by mid-January! I stayed up to at least get a big started last night, and so far (12 rounds) it's really fun! ;)

I mentioned that we had an ice storm here, almost a week ago now. Last Friday morning, the power-outages began. There were an estimated 112,000 homes without power at the peak - 6 days later that number is around 8,900. We lost power twice, but both times it was back on in a short time. Temperatures on Sunday and Monday were in the single digits, with wind added to the mix. I bring this up because my nephew - Grace's dad - is a lineman for the electric company. He's one of the guys working 16-18 hour days, every day, climbing poles in the cold and ice, to get that power back on. I know it's hard if you're one of those 8,900 still without power, but they are working their butts off, missing things like birthdays and Christmas with their families, and missing things like sleep and hot meals, doing their level best to get everyone's lives back to normal. Let's hear it for the linemen!

And a heart-felt wish for a Merry Christmas to you and your families! 

All my heart this night rejoices,
As I hear, far and near, sweetest angel voices;
“Christ is born,” their choirs are singing,
Till the air, everywhere, now with joy is ringing!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, December 22, 2008

I am nuts, and other misc

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Don't let the title of this post concern you. I'm working toward the same deadline (Christmas Eve) as many other knitters who also might be categorized as "nuts."

I finished my semester last Thursday, and then Friday the boys had a "snow day," so no school. At that time, I didn't have very much checked off of my Christmas "to do" list, though somehow I thought it was a good idea to *add* the sewing of three fleece hoodies into the mix, so that I may keep my family warm. I bought eight yards of fleece [though, I think the lady cutting it lost track as she was measuring and she might have cut *nine* yards, instead. I thought about having her check to be sure, but I didn't want to annoy her (because it IS the Christmas season), and I really wasn't *positive* that she measured out too much...]. In any case, eight or nine yards is a lot of fleece. I have about an hour of sewing left on the one for DH, and probably two hours for each of the boys'. Instead of getting up to go running or study in the mornings, I'm getting up to sew -- WAY more enjoyable, and today it appears that I actually might get these done on time. (Note that fleece, *not* knitting, is THE way to go if you want three hoodies completed within three days time.) BONUS: Plenty of fleece left for a matching hoodie for ME, too, though THAT one can wait...

I didn't have much of a gift yet for one of my nephews, so a Knitty Fish hat seemed just the thing to make in my spare time. I was going to use some really nice wool I had on hand, and then I remembered the sweater I made for this same nephew which my sister accidently felted in the washing machine, so I pulled out all of my acrylic stash and started knitting away. This doesn't really have to be done until next week Sunday.

Here is a quilted wall hanging my mom made for the boys to give to their piano teacher. She always sews a really nice label on the back of her quilts, too, explaining the name of the quilt, who it made it, who it is for and from, etc.

My "Must Have Cardigan" is seeing slow but steady progress. It's not going to be done by the end of the year, most likely, but will make for some fine travel knitting.

Here is our Christmas tree: We have to finish putting on the ornaments, garland, topper, etc., but as of yesterday, this project is at least started. Two years ago, we decided we'd do the Norman Rockwell thing and go to a tree farm and cut our own tree. As we tramped through the "forest," the boys couldn't agree on which tree to get. After trying to find some compromise, DH finally announced that *Mommy* was going to pick the tree, making everybody but me unhappy. The week after Christmas that year, I made a pre-emptive strike and bought an artificial tree on sale. So, last year, we had an artificial tree -- less hassle, no watering, etc. This year, DH thought it would be fun to get another real tree, so we left late in the afternoon this past Saturday in snowy, slippery weather, and got lost, then realized the tree farm closed in fifteen minutes. So, after a nice 45 minutes in the van, and after my eight year old asked, "Why can't we just use the tree from last year? It would be a *lot cheaper*!," we returned home treeless. I put up the artificial tree yesterday... I like it. It doesn't smell the way a real one does, but enough of Norman Rockwell for this year. Maybe next year...

So, I have two weeks at home with the boys, and when they go back to school, I start a two-week clinical assignment. Then it's right back into school. It's not exactly a huge "break," though I'm glad for the time away from the intensity of classes/exams right now.

It's NEGATIVE 10 degrees F (not including the wind chill) here right now. We'll run some errands this afternoon, but that's about it. Perfect day to hunker down in the house. The boys are really enjoying a more relaxed schedule, and playing nicely together today.

Shameless plug for anybody who might be in the Madison area next weekend: The quartet I play with (Madison Marimba Quartet) is giving a free concert next Saturday, December 27, at 1:00pm on campus. Send me an e-mail if you are interested in further details...

Well, time to get back to other tasks at hand.
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Goblins and ogres, oh my!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Last night, my brother and sil invited me over for supper, to be followed by a movie and knitting. (YAY!! I finally converted one of my sil's to knitting!) The movie we watched was called "The Spiderwick Chronicles." There were an ogre and goblins popping up all over, strange scary sounds in the woods and in the big house in the middle of the woods....kind of intense at times. I was surprised that my 5-year-old great niece had enjoyed it and not been scared. Chris said they had a long talk before they watched it, where she explained that it wasn't real. I kind of thought she should have had that talk with me!! ;) 

After it was over, I tried to get my brother to drive me home so I didn't have to go out in the dark by myself, but he declined. (He said he didn't want to have to walk back home in the dark and rain. Kind of self-centered, if you ask me!) As I was driving up the long lane to my house (the one with the woods behind it...) all of the sudden the well-lit house I was heading for went dark! I looked around and all of the houses on our side of the road had lost power!! That really cracked me up! I used my cell phone to call Andy and Chris, and they were laughing too - as soon as the power went off, they both said, "Well, Cynthia is just going to FREAK!!" My biggest issue was that I couldn't get the garage door up from the outside, so I went in from upstairs, by the light of my cell phone. The first three "designated flashlight locations" were either oddly "flashlight free" or held a flashlight that didn't work! I did eventually get settled into my chair and went to sleep a bit early, since there was not much I wanted to do by the light of a flashlight. The power was out for about 3 hours, but it wasn't really that cold out, so I was comfy.

I had hoped to bake Christmas cookies and get the tree up this weekend, but that didn't work out. I did however get a hat knitted for my Aunt Betty. I really like using the "Fetching Inspired" hat pattern - I like the cable detail, and it's a relatively quick knit. I cast on Saturday afternoon, and finished Saturday evening. I'll block it tonight and get it off in the mail.

I started working on a leg-warmer for a friend. I'm still testing needle sizes and numbers to cast on. I'm using a couple of yarns from the stash. I have one skein of a wool that has a long stripe. I've lost the ball band, so I'm trying to remember the details of this yarn. I bought it in a yarn shop in the north suburbs of Chicago on a yarn-shop crawl in the spring of 2004. I just have the one ball. I keep thinking that it was Lana Grossa, but I haven't been able to confirm that. I'm carrying a thin alpaca yarn. I know that I got it from the Wool Barn in Avilla, and I carried it along when I made a hat for my brother for Christmas a few years back. (When I was done, the hat was HUGE - big enough for a goblin head, but I digress. I bought him a present and frogged the hat!) Once again, I don't remember the details of the yarn.

Well, thats all for today Keep knitting! With the lights on and a glass of tomato juice beside you! (Tomato juice melts goblins....) 

Cynthia (aka DesignatedKnitter)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The 3 Hour Scarf

Originally uploaded by designatedknitter
Yes! I can knit a scarf in 3 hours. And somehow, my hands did not fall off.

It's a good 60" long, soft and fluffy. Great pattern from Ravelry. Classic Elite Marl La yarn and size 19 needles. Sweet!

We now return to regularly scheduled knitting.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Well, what have we here?

Greetings and Dear Laura:

What we have is a Finished Object! The stocking kit, no less! I cast off last Friday, and on Sunday evening I added the hanging loop and steam-blocked it as directed. That means 3 weeks and 1 day between cast-on and completion. I'm happy with that. And it really is a beautiful stocking. An excellent design and well-written pattern instructions. I'm glad that I got to knit it. Purl even likes it!

My quick trip to Kentucky went well, my brother and I got done those things which we needed to. And since he did all the driving, I had plenty of good knitting time. We drove home on Saturday, and most of the trip we were dealing with snow, ice or the effects of a 'wintry mix.' During several places where conditions were perilous, I did put my knitting away, because I was concerned about having an airbag go off while I had pointy sticks in my hands! I did get most of the cuff on my current sock projects done, tho!

Other than a couple of soap sweaters, (one of which is complete!) I'm not doing Christmas knitting this year. My priorities have shifted somewhat. One of my friends has need of legwarmers, since the pins she has in her leg now get cold (and painful!) very easily. And my aunt Betty has lost her hair as a result of the chemo to treat breast cancer, so I'm working on a cashmerino hat to help keep her warm. Once those projects are done (don't you love how matter-of-fact I sound, like that point in the process is imminent???) then I need to make sure that my new niece/nephew is going to be warm. So, it's not like I don't have deadlines, just not specifically a Christmas deadline.

I did promise a report on recent yarn acquisitions. First I had an accidental order from WEBS, which I completely blame on Lauren. BUT they did have the Zarella print that I wanted to make a baby blanket for the new baby. I only needed 3 balls - I have the other yarns already. And it WAS a good price.....
And then I couldn't resist a skein of Aracania Ranco in a lovely green semi-solid. $7.99 for a great sock yarn?? That's a no-brainer! It's beautiful. And we all know that my sock yarn stash is down to like....40-50 prs of socks...... (wink!)
While we were on our shopping trip to southern Indiana, I made my annual stop at Cottage Knits in Columbus Indiana. I always enjoy seeing what she has available. This is her second or third year in the 'new' location, and it is just so charming! I want to sit by the fireplace and knit away, but I always have a car load of non-knitters outside waiting for me! This time I was a bit more practical, I picked up some Cascade 200 Superwash for a baby blanket for my sil in a lovely cream color. I showed her the Hemlock Ring pattern, and she thought that would be a wonderful baptismal blanket, and in the Cascade it should be warm and sturdy enough to use after as well.

Well, better get this posted before another day passes! Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Knitting and CD coasters

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Happy Saturday! I still have 7 tests and a presentation in the next two weeks, so I can't really celebrate just yet...but I can see the end of the semester...and I have a bottle of wine chilling in the refrigerator, just sayin'!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of the Silk Garden scarves I see you and many other knitters making these days! I've restrained myself from indulging so far, having rather large tuition bills looming every three or four months... Trying to strike a "balance," and I have enough in my stash to keep me going for a while, so I resist, but it *IS* an exercise in self control, I have to say.

I blocked the pieces I have completed of the Must Have Cardigan, because I was still having doubts about the size of the thing. Once dry, I sewed the one sleeve and the front/back together so that I could try it on so far to give myself peace of mind that the size is in the ball park. It seems okay, so I keep plugging away at the remaining front and sleeve. Not overwhelmingly exciting on the knitting front here these days...and even more boring for those of you who have been following this sweater now for months with inch by inch progress reports.

For one of my classes, a group of four of us are doing a presentation on CD-ROM's as an instructional tool. (There were ten topics available, and this is the one my group ended up with.) It's not exactly the most cutting edge technology, but we put something together and tried to include a little levity to keep the class awake for the fifteen minutes we'll have their attention next Tuesday. In a list of "pros and cons," we are going to mention that one "pro" is that when they are obsolete, they may be made into I made some visual aids to share with the class for this:I found photos on the University's web site of the course instructor and her husband (who is also a professor there). I resized and printed the photos onto paper, and adhered them to the back of CDs with clear contact paper covering the whole surface of the back. On the front side of the CDs, I glued cork which I cut to size. Sort of dorky, but at the same time, actually nice coasters, and perhaps a project my kids could do to make presents for their grandparents. (It looks like this professor has a black and blue eye in the photo, but that is because when I glued the cork onto the CD, the extra glue ran through the center hole of the CD and damaged the photo. I would definitely recommend using card stock or photo paper or somehow blocking the hole from allowing the seepage of glue if I make these again.)

Anyway, it's really cold outside here, and I should go running this morning, and I have so much other stuff to do today (grocery shopping, laundry, gobs of studying for a huge practical exam on Monday, taking my six year old to a birthday party which is going to be *OUTSIDE* at the zoo -- brrrr, and perhaps even cleaning a bathroom), so I'd better start moving that direction. I know that all of you are extremely busy right now, too, and so I wish you all a productive weekend!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Almost there....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Sorry I missed wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving - I guess that ship has sailed! I do hope that everyone had a wonderful feast, and that you all have much to be thankful for. I certainly did on both counts!

We had a smaller gathering this year. Two of my brothers and their families celebrated with their kids-out-of-state. Andy & Chris were in Texas with my niece and her husband and baby. Tim & Sandy were in California with my nephew. (Who was so excited that he prepared ahead for weeks. He bought a 21-lb turkey for 3 people!)

We had an even dozen people (and only ate half of the 16-lb turkey!) Since there was not the usual 25-30 people, I decided I could make everything myself (with a little help from mom) and gave everyone else the day off of cooking. In the end, I don't think that it really was any less work - I made all of the same dishes, and in fact, I think I made about the same quantity. I declared that I have one setting for Thanksgiving, I can make those recipes in only one size. SO, next year, if I start whining about having to cook for 30 people, you must all remind me that it will be the same as this year, which I considered rather easy. (Also, while you are reminding me, please tell me to put on a pair of sturdy shoes first thing in the morning. My feet and back would be less painful if I didn't stand on that hard floor all morning in my stocking feet!)

Then it was off to Nashville Indiana for the 24th Annual Shopping Trip. (All the females over 13 are invited.) This year there were six of us, and we had a grand time. I'll get to the shopping results eventually, but I did manage to make a good bit of progress on the Stocking I'm working on. In the last week, I've managed to get this far!
Only the foot remains, and I have that about 1/4 of the way done. I hope to have that off the needles before I sleep tonight! I love this pattern - it's going quickly, it's fun, and well, it just looks gorgeous!
I also made progress on my Noro Scarf, and my sock. The scarf was what I knit on while we shopped - I can walk around doing 1x1 rib with no problem.
Now I'm off on a last-minute quick trip to KY to visit my parents - more about that later. Suffice to say that I'm bringing enough knitting for a month, but only plan to be gone for 48 hours!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm awake!!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

I'm sorry I didn't reply on IM Friday night. Theoretically, I was knitting on a baby hat, but technically I had fallen asleep with yarn in hand! (And laptop on my lap - living dangerously!)

I did get the hat done in time for the baby shower on Sunday, which was great. I'm sorry for the poor quality picture, but please to imagine that it looked better than this! I was going for the "Fetching Inspired" hat that I've made several times. There was an accidental design change when I noticed that I had already knitted 6 rows from the first cables, and hadn't done cables again at 4 rows. So, I just cabled at row 6 and then 6 rows later and ended up with 3 cable rows more widely spaced. I liked it!
to this
in four days!

I'm making good progress on the Christmas Stocking that I'm knitting on commission. One week after starting, I'm 1/2 way done with the leg, which I guess is about 1/3 of the entire project. (I'm further along than the picture shows!) The best news is that trading off between the fair isle of the stocking, the ribbed scarf and the baby hat has really been helpful for my hands/wrists. That and daily anti-inflammatorys. But YAY! My hands 'fall asleep' much less frequently. (Of course, the same cannot be said of me! I fall asleep at the slightest opportunity!)

I love the Noro scarf, and I don't even pretend that I don't follow trends, knitting or otherwise. I'm enjoying watching the colors move through the fabric, and it's my first experience with Silk Garden - it's yummy soft!

We'll be exchanging names at Thanksgiving, and so once I have that name, I'll firm up what, if any, truly Christmas knitting I'm doing. To date, it's a rather vague "wouldn't it be nice" list. But I want to thank Lauren for her comment - she's always a good reality check! I also may be scaling back because my sil is having a baby in January, and she has recently been reminding me that this baby (unlike the last one born in May) will be needed lots of things to keep warm! You KNOW I can't resist such talk!

Besides the knitting, things are going well. We are having a smaller Thanksgiving gathering this year - one brother and sil are visiting my niece's family in Texas and another brother and sil are visiting my nephew in California. I already miss them, but I have to confess that smaller is a bit less daunting. And we girls are psyched for our annual shopping trip to Nashville Indiana. We're leaving Thursday after the dishes are done and returning on Saturday when the van is full! There are 2 yarn stops on this trip, so there could be some stash enhancement.

Besides the WEBS order that I'm holding Lauren responsible for!! :p

Keep Knitting!

Cynthia (aka DesignatedKnitter)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lots to catch up on!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Your 'Must Have Cardigan' looks great. I certainly can't see any loose stitches! I have GOT to get that sweater cast on!

I've been pretty busy lately - somehow November snuck up on me! Now that I'm over my cold, I've looked around and noticed that I've taken on several new roles at church, and it's getting close to year end, so I need to balance and audit the bookkeeping I do for my parents. My apartment looks like it threw up all over itself and we will NOT discuss my closets. And then there is the constant cast-on-itis and Christmas-knitting-insanity epidemic that is so common this year. I have the usual case, so nothing new there.

On top of all of that, I'm trying to cope with a flare-up of my carpal tunnel/repetitive injury issue. I put down the red lace shawl because I couldn't knit a full row without my fingers going numb. I also have problems holding the telephone for very long, driving, and sometimes sleeping, even with the braces. This is my warning to reduce what I'm doing. (I'm never very fond of that warning!)

The current "I want to knit and wouldn't that be nice by Christmas" list includes:
blue toddler cardigan for Logan's 1st birthday on Dec 26.
The 'Must Have Cardigan' for mom
Crochet slippers for mom. (She wants slippers, and crochet would be quicker, a 'different' motion, and help stash bust!)
Scarf for my new niece-in-law.
Knee socks for my sil.
A sweater for my new niece/nephew due in January, and a blanket for that baby, and a quilt kit for that baby.
Oh! And we bought yarn to do a blanket for my dad. (HA! Like that's even possible.)
Remember that cool sock yarn that you unravel as you knit? It's calling my name.
Oh! There's a baby shower at church before Thanksgiving - wait, I think it's Sunday - and so I should have a baby thing knitted, right?
And we're adopting 2 families for Christmas, and so there are two mom's who would probably love a scarf.
I promised Lane a soap sweater.

Did I mention that I need more wool socks for this winter? And that it's snowing even as we speak?

Thursday I got a call from the owner of the LYS in Avilla. She asked if I would be interested in knitting 2 Christmas Stocking Kits for a commission. Of course, I mentally laughed myself silly, but I did listen to her. Someone had purchased these kits by
Judy's Colors, and wanted to pay someone to knit them. (This entire concept is foreign to me. Buying a knitting kit and not knitting it? I do not understand! Although I have to say those kits are gorgeous.) However, the commission was enough to get my attention, so I agreed to look at the kits.

I stopped by on Friday and talked to her. She had thought of knitting them herself, and in the end, we decided to each do one of the kits. (And while obviously the person would like to have them for this year, it isn't required. While we're shooting for it, I wouldn't promise.) It worked out that I was intrigued by the "Red Velvet" kit, and she wanted to knit the "Fairy Tree" kit. They are Fair-Isle, and it's been a while since I did much of that.

So, I cast that on Saturday evening. It calls for a 16" circular for the leg, which I appreciate. It starts out with a knitted braid, which took two tries and plenty of head scratching to work out. Then I started the red portion - I always think that I would like to carry both yarns in my left hand, but that really only works if you use both colors at approximately the same rate. If you use one more than the other, or you cover long stretches, using the two hand method is much easier - and I remembered tips that you gave me for catching the color that is being carried, so that helped me get back in the rhythm. And as I hoped, carrying the yarn in both hands is a real change of motion - I was able to knit quite a bit, and my hands did not bother me at all.

Yesterday, I was at the point in all of my current projects that I didn't have anything completely mindless. The sock I'm working on is ready for a heel turn,
the blue cardigan is ready to decrease for the neck,
and the stocking is Fair Isle.........SO, I cast on
this scarf! (I know, I have no self control!) My 'current' knitting basket now has 4 projects!

Since I am clearly insane, it would help me greatly if all you wonderful knitting bloggers could refrain from posting cool pictures of your knitting where I can see it because I can obviously not deal with this level of distraction. "Oh, my pretties..."
(I can usually resist tan colors. Just sayin')


Keep Knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Must Have Cardigan Progress

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I'm a bit behind these days, though am going to share some halloween photos, anyway:I dug out my "standard" duck costume again:The boys went as Pokemon characters, so I just sewed a little vest out of fleece for each of them, and they embellished their costumes with little props, so not very labor intensive for me, and they were pretty happy to participate in the whole "design" process. (I don't have any photos to show of the boys, because I'm paranoid and like to keep their faces off of the air.)

I've had a couple of grueling weeks at school, though my next test isn't for another week, so I have a few days to catch up on some other things (like blogging)! We have a neuroanatomy online quiz roughly once per week, and here is a sample of one of our practice questions to prepare for the online quiz:

Which statement is TRUE regarding the neurological deficit(s) that would be present following a lesion of the shaded area in the right brain stem?

Sometimes it takes me five minutes just to figure out what I'm looking at... The material is a bit convoluted/complicated, but quite relevant to some of the deficits a PT would regularly see in a clinic or hospital.

I've been plugging along on the Must Have Cardigan. Shortly after I started the back, about four inches into it, I was having the "it's going to be too small for me" panic, so I went ahead and soaked it, right on the needles, and blocked out that first four inches. I'm happy to report that it should be a good size for me, though the partial blocking is why the bottom looks so much wider in this photo. I'm also having problems with the looseness of the stitch immediately to the left of the skinniest pattern. Thank you for your tips on how to fix that; I was so far into the thing already, however, and I decided I wouldn't be able to notice it on a horse driving by it at 15 mph, so I left it as is, though I do plan to try your suggestion when I'm doing the fronts. Back almost done, and one sleeve completed:
I have some crazy idea I'll have this done in order to wear when we travel to visit our families during the Christmas season. Yeah, and I'm going to sew three matching fleece jackets for my dh and boys. A girl can dream...

I'm so glad the election is over, though it's odd to watch tv and not be bombarded with propaganda, saying terrible things about somebody, and then calmly voicing over with "I approve of this message."

Well, time to get rolling here today. We don't have much planned, though I'll easily fill the day getting caught up around the house and for school. With the flurries we've had the past day or two, and the coldness, I'm thinking a big pot of chili for dinner, maybe with some homemade pretzels...

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

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Weekend fun

Greetings and Dear Laura:

First of all - Happy Election Day! (
Lauren says I'm an election geek because I get excited about it, and go stand in line so that I can be one of the first voters in my precinct. I was 4th this year, which is a personal best! And I voted right behind a young first-time voter, which makes me happy too!)

Your sweater is looking beautiful! You do such lovely cable work.(I vote for the pink zipper as well!) It's getting to be sweater time, so I hope this zipper works the first time for you.

Wow, I had a fun Saturday! Earlier in the week, I had an email from Lea-Ann at Knitting Today, announcing a last-minute class taking place Saturday afternoon.

"Lorna Miser, knitwear designer and author and former owner of Lorna's Laces, is in Indiana right now and is available to teach a special class at Knitting Today this Saturday, November 1, from 1-4. It is going to be a class I had to leave out of the retreat offerings: Design for Baby,Knit for Baby."

It sounded like fun, and it really was - I'm very glad that I went. I have a Godson who is turning 1 at Christmas, and a sil who is expecting a baby in January (and hoping for a boy!) so I grabbed some superwash worsted in boy colors and headed off. Lorna handed out a basic template for a baby cardigan, and then talked about how to get inspiration for yarns, colors, textures etc. She showed us sweaters and the inspiration for them, which was really helpful. I had to laugh - after years of being told, "Knit the garment first and then you can see which buttons work the best," she told us "Pick some buttons you like and let that be your starting point!

I took that advice to heart - I found some cute "racecar" buttons, and the blue yarn that I had brought went well with it. I cast on for the 18 month size, since my Godson is quite the bruiser! I won't be able to do the entire sweater in the blue yarn, so I'm planning to do the body in blue and the sleeves in white.

Then I saw the cutest little tracker buttons, and since my brother and sil are farmers, I just couldn't resist them. I found a skein of Cascade 220 Superwash in a green that works with the buttons, so I'm prepared.

Lea-Ann was SO great - when I TRIED to pull the center of my yarn, I messed it up the worst I ever have. She got the ball winder and rescued me. At one point there were 5 little connected bunches of yarn on the floor, waiting their turn to be untangled! If not for Lea-Ann, I'd still be trying to fix the mess! Thanks!

I saw Laura, a knitter who lives in nearby Ari Indiana. I always enjoy running into her at knitting events (she reads our blog!) While I sometimes meet people who have heard of LaOtto (where I live) you have to be REALLY familiar with the area to know where Ari is! I myself have only been there a few times. (Hi Laura!)

I also finished off the Tulips cardigan on Saturday, and it is blocked and ready to be given to Whitny. I just love this pattern, and the yarn, and how it all turns out. I see me making more of these in the future. (Gotta use up all that Dream in Color!)
(I think Purl likes the sweater too!)

I have a really bad case of start-itis, which I think must be contagious, because it seems that lots of bloggers of suffering from it! I've decided to turn my back on monogamy for a bit, and I plan to cast on with reckless abandon! This should be fun!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Zipper Zany (AAUGH)

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

School has been keeping me very busy, though I'm still enjoying it quite a bit. (It's going extremely fast! I've already completely nine weeks this semester, with six weeks of classes and a week of finals left.)

The past two weeks, I've been learning about muscle testing, neural tension testing, and lots of other stuff, but my biggest "take-away" so far in the PT program is that my own body is weak and full of tension. I'm assured that at some point, we'll learn how to fix all of these things. For the time being, I just have to laugh.

I LOVE taking the bus. Sometimes it is a bit of a "multisensory" experience, but it is a very social thing, relaxing, convenient, and has the added benefit of me not having to remember where I parked my car.

My knitting/blog reading is a bit sporadic, though a great way to relax when I have a few minutes. I sewed Ibenholt together completely (YAY! -- sleeves are attached to the body of the sweater, all but a few ends woven in), then whip stitched the front edges together (using thread in a contrasting color) in preparation for zipper installation:With all of the patterning in this sweater, it is critical that the cables are aligned on each side of the zipper, and sewing the fronts together before installing the zipper will assure this. (Plus, it was called for in the pattern.)

I needed a zipper which was 19", though my only available choices (without spending a lot for a custom zipper) were 18" or 20", so I violated my own cardinal rule and went with the longer length, thinking that I could extend the zipper into the one-inch undercollar, which can sort of be seen in this next photo:
The "undercollar" is an area in which there are only two ribbing stitches between cables, and it runs for about an inch. Then, the pattern is changed so that there are three ribbing stitches between each cable, so the collar flares/fans out a little bit.

I sewed the zipper into the sweater by machine, then removed the stitches which were basting the fronts together. It looked fine when completely zipped up. When unzipped, however, I thought the black zipper tape was just too much, especially at the neckline. So, I sewed a ribbon to cover the edges of the black zipper tape:
Don't get too attached to this photo, because I've already taken it all out! I hated the way it looked, and didn't like it that the ribbon ended one inch into the cabled section of the collar -- even though it is technically an "undercollar," it still looked ridiculous to end an inch after the start of the cables. It would be much more natural for it to end at the base of the collar, where the stitches are initially picked up.

So, I'm going to switch to the shorter zipper. This should alleviate a small amount of puckering which occured along the front edges, too, and if I'm extremely careful to not stretch the front even one iota as I'm sewing the zipper in, the length just might work... AAUGH!

Now, I need help deciding if I should change to a pink zipper, or the non-metallic black one shown below. What do you think?
My kids have off from school today. I have just a couple of finishing touches to sew today for their Halloween costumes, and we'll get together with friends to go Trick-or-Treating tonight. I bought candy to pass out at the house, but we're not going to be here, so oh well. (A few years ago, I tried putting out the candy in a big bowl with a note for the kids to limit themselves to one piece each, but apparently kids these days can't read and the candy mysteriously disappeared in record time, so I'm not going to bother with that.)

I have a lot of progress to show on the Must Have Cardi, but will show that in another post.

I'm still going to get on my soap box about the importance of exercise, too, but want to think about that for a little bit. For now, suffice it to say that there are incredible benefits to staying active, and so I would encourage everybody to at least start walking, even if only ten minutes a day is what you can handle at first -- no matter how little you do, there is still benefit. You can even do other things while you're walking/running, such as plan your menus in your head, make a grocery list, study 53 manual muscle tests for a "skill check" on Monday (just sayin'), etc. There are many changes our bodies naturally progress through as we age, and activity is one of the best things we can do in order to slow some of those processes.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flat Feet Yarn!

Flat Feet Yarn!
Originally uploaded by designatedknitter

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Wow. I so did not get that sleeve done last night as planned. And I have no idea if I'll have it done by the party tonight. Of course, blocking it is out. Hmm, I don't think I should give a one-year-old a sweater with the sharp pointy needles in it... maybe I could put the stitches on some waste yarn.....

Anyway. I was at Knitting Off Broadway twice in the last week. The first time, I noticed several panels (like the one pictured) hanging with the sock yarn. I was curious, and stopped to look, but I couldn't figure out HOW ON EARTH someone could dye yarn that would knit up to look like that. The gauge would have to be incredibly exact to get everything to line up for the patterns....they even had some that looked like random drops of dye on a background color. I looked around for skeins that might have been used to knit these samples, but I didn't see anything. Oh well. Moved on to what I was looking for.

Then I went back on Saturday with Libertine Knits and I heard people talking about them, and then it clicked. These are not knitted samples of yarn. This is Flat Feet Yarn - skeins of yarn that you knit from! They are machine knit panels with waste yarn on the edges, not bound off. Then the PANELS are hand-dyed. When you are ready to knit, you simply start unraveling the panel, and knit with the yarn. Some of the designs are basically stripes, or diagonal stripes, or other simple type patterns. The panels that I bought are from a limited edition series of special graphics. (There is another identical panel underneath this - you get two panels joined together with waste yarn. If you want to knit your socks "two at a time" you just cut the panels apart at the waste yarn, and unravel from both!)

I simply would have never conceived of such a thing! It's just quirky enough to make me fork over the extra $6 beyond my "most I will pay for yarn for a pair of socks" limit. I am DYING to cast on, but alas, I really have to finish a Tulips cardigan. And a "Must Have Cardigan." And..... you get the idea.

So, keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, I'm closing in on finishing the Tulips Cardigan. As usual, the project would be going better if my brain were not half dead!

When I started this sweater, I needed size 4 & 6 needles. No problem, I have an entire set of Knit-Picks Options, which I LOVE! I am all about the slippery shiny metal with sharp points! I went to my handy storage case....and didn't have anything smaller than a size 10. I wandered around, checking UFO's for tips. Oddly, most of the needles in UFO's weren't part of the Options set. The truth is, when I finish a project, or finish swatching, I'm not very consistent about putting the tips back in the bag. I'll leave them in the basket with the yarn, or in the bag I was carrying the project in, etc.

I wanted to get started on this, so I turned to the lamp beside my chair. That's where I store my other circulars, dangling over the neck. (Knitters are usually amused by this lamp, non-knitters think it's weird.) I did manage to find the size 4 tips, so I was set for the edging. I found a size 6, 24" circular, and that worked fine for the body. When I got to the sleeves, I wanted to do magic loop instead of DPN's, so I made another search for the size 6 tips. I ended up with a size 6, 32" circular which was theoretically long enough for magic loop, but not long enough to do it comfortably. I decided that since this happens to me rather frequently, I would bite the bullet and order additional tips in size 5, 6 & 7, the most common ones that I can't find.

My first pass at a sleeve came while I was waiting for an additional colorway of yarn to arrive. When the yarn arrived, I was able to switch back to the body, and wait for the size 6 tips to arrive. I had hopes they would arrive on Friday, but no such luck. I did buckle down and finish the body and edging on Thursday, so Friday night I did a few sleeve rows with the 32" needle, then gave it up. The tips arrived on Saturday, but since I was out gallivanting with Libertine Knits (yay!) and enjoying Knitting at Lunch's wedding, no sleeve knitting happened! However, the tips did arrive while I was out and about.

Sunday, I sat down to conquer that first sleeve. I opened the package, put the tips on the 40" cable, and knit the sleeve from the short needle to the longer one. I turned to put the short needle on the lamp (you can see where this is going, can't you????) and there, dangling with the regular circular needles, I noticed the red cables of 2 Options needles. The size 6 and 7. Sitting there right beside me for the last 3 weeks. HOW I managed to search that conglomeration of needles and not notice them BEFORE - that remains a mystery.

But typical for me!

I finished that sleeve on Sunday, and before picking up the second sleeve, I stopped and wove in the ends. It looks much closer to "finished" without all those ends! Monday was busy however, and so now I am at Tuesday. The party is tomorrow. That means I have to finish the second sleeve, weave in those ends, and have it blocking e'er I sleep tonight!


Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Oh! And I can't WAIT to show you the sock yarn I got!! Soon, I promise!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The heat is on.....

The heat is on.....
Originally uploaded by

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, it's officially fall. I arrived home last night to find the indoor temperature at 61 degrees, and I gave in and turned on the furnace. I was hoping to last until November, but I've fallen a bit short!

Whitny's Tulips cardigan is moving along nicely. In the end, I decided that I really wanted the purple color. I also had JUST ENOUGH of the light green "Spring Tickle" colorway to finish this sweater, while I have enough of the remaining colors to make 10 sweaters, so I needed to reorder that. Having checked all three local yarn shops that carry Dream in Color, (Knitting Today, Sarah Jane's Yarn Shoppe and Knitting Off Broadway) I found that Simply Socks stocked the colors that I needed. While she doesn't have a storefront operation, this still qualifies as local, since she operates her online order business just a few miles from Fort Wayne. My order arrived last night, and so now I only have one body stripe plus the sleeves and edging to go.

Knitting at Lunch is counting down the days to her wedding on Saturday! (Stop by and see the shawl that she cast-off last night!) I was asked to RSVP which project I would be working on at the wedding/reception, and so I had chosen this cardigan, but now I have hopes of finishing before then, so I've had to ask for permission to substitute if necessary. One of her out-of-town friends (who is also a knit-blogger!) is flying in on Friday night, and so Jessica & I are planning an LYS "Yarn Crawl" for Saturday before the wedding. (Lauren has decided that having her hair and nails done, etc is going to take precedence over yarn shopping! I guess so......) I'm looking forward to meeting a new knitter and sharing our great shops!

Meanwhile, keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cracker Jack Needles

Greetings and Dear Laura:

First of all - Thank you, Marit for your comment about my baby hat! It was worth the effort to get it right. Next time maybe I'll believe my own notes!

I know I haven't even mentioned the "Must Have Cardigan" lately, and you're probably almost done with yours....but I had to wait two weeks for
the yarn. The mill was having a hard time keeping up with the orders, which is a testimony to how wonderful it is! (I wish there was a way to let people feel the softness over the internet!)
Feel how soft that is???? I picked up the yarn last Saturday, but instead of casting on the Cardigan, I got a little side tracked.

My great-niece Whitny is turning 1 on the 29th, and I'd been considering what to knit for her. (I always knit for their first birthday!) While I was at
Knitting Today, I was completely tempted by the remaining "Dream In Color." (Ok, LeaAnn is SO smart - she has a laptop set up so you can check your Ravelry!) A quick check of my stash showed that I had 3 colors of the DIC Classy in stock, and so I purchased the 3 colors for the Tulip Cardigan that she had, and so long story short, I'm making a Tulip Cardigan for Whitny.
It's going pretty quickly, and I'm really enjoying it. Since I'm using 6 colors instead of 8, each stripe is 12 rows instead of 8. I have 4 1/2 stripes done, and hope to finish the body tonight. (Yes, it's an incredibly expensive baby sweater....but there are 4 more little girls in the family who don't have this sweater yet. Those will be free!)

I knitted a tulip sweater for my niece Missy, and I did the 9-month size that the kit allowed for. She is a 1 1/2 now, and she still wears it. (Don't you just love seeing a project in the wild? I stopped by one day last week and saw Missy toddling around wearing that sweater!) I bumped the size up to the 2-year for Whitny. It may be a bit big, but she should get lots of wear from it.

While I was at Knitting Today, I picked up a 40" #3 needle for magic looping some sport weight socks. I got the Hiya-Hiya needles, since I like them and they are priced right. I had recently noticed that my first set of needles had a sock pattern tucked in the package. I was curious, so I checked this package. This set included a stitch marker!
(I googled, and sure enough, each package includes a "promotional item.")

I'm gonna call them Crackerjack needles!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)