Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How to make a bus move...

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

Last night, it was near blizzard conditions with wind chills in the negative numbers. DH takes the city bus to and from work. On the way home last night, traffic was crawling and the bus DH was on got stuck on a hill. The wheels were spinning, and the bus wasn't moving at all. Then, one of the passengers said, "Everybody get in the back of the bus!" AND, the bus started slowly moving and was able to get the rest of the way up the hill. DH said that after that, the hullaballoo on the bus was much discussion about how great Physics is. I am cringing just envisioning a similar problem on a Physics exam: A bus weighing seven tons is stuck on an inclined (8 degrees) plane. It contains 25 commuters, each weighing an average of 178 pounds, each wearing a 4.5 pound parka, and each carrying a Dell laptop weighing seven pounds with case. If it requires all 25 commuters to move and stand above the rear wheels to enable the bus to just start moving again, then what is the coefficient of friction between the bus and the road? Incorporating chemistry, does the answer change if the temperature is negative eight degrees F and the bus driver throws some salt on the road just in front of the bus' wheels?

Speaking of real life word problems, I had to laugh about your request for calculations on your blanket. Here's what I have for you:If we break your blanket apart into triangles, then, since the base (number of stitches in one quarter of your blanket) and height (number of rows in the blanket) are roughly the same (average increase on one triangle is two stitches per two rows, which is one stitch per one row), and since the area of a triangle is one half the base times the height...blah blah.... In any case, it amounts to taking the square of one quarter of your stitches (70 squared) divided by the square of one quarter of your final number of stitches (122 squared), so right now you are about 33% finished. In order to finish by March first, you'll have to complete roughly 1.7% of the blanket each day. You could set up a spreadsheet to figure this out the rest of the way. In 20 days, you'll want to be 67% done, which amounts to 100 stitches per side (400 stitches around). Is this any help at all? Just be glad that this is a LEAP YEAR! (Note: As always, calculation is rough and done quickly, and carries no guarantee for freedom from mental anguish and angst in the event that the project really won't be done until June because of my math error...)

Anyway....schools are closed today. Hazardous wind chill factors of -35 degrees F (which is -37 degrees C)....

I've been knitting away on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I finished the body of the sweater up to where I must attach the sleeves, and am more than halfway done with the first sleeve:Something very exciting happened yesterday! I was given the "you make my day award" by Allison! That made MY day! THANK YOU!! "Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

Allison used to be a local knitter here, though she moved to Georgia. She is another stay at home mom, and I always enjoy "hearing" about everything she is doing. She is also working on a murder mystery, and it's really fun for me to "hear" where she is getting her ideas, how she thinks of new twists and tries to incorporate them into the plot, etc. Plus, she can take any four ingredients from any pantry and turn them into a delicious three course meal. In the blog world, my biggest inspiration comes from a few local blogs which I've read for a couple of years, so I'd like to further pass this award along to Sus, Cindy, Molly Bee, Elizabeth, Allison (who still seems "local" to me :-), and KittyMommy. Also, some folks who aren't so local who also inspire me are Marit, Lauren, Polly, and YOU !

In other news, the boys are starting to get excited about Valentines' Day. My seven year old told us that Cupid is a fat little angel who shoots arrows at people, and if he hits somebody with an arrow, that person falls in love. He's such a romantic at heart, no?

Okay, time to really get busy here. Have a great day, and STAY WARM! Weather like this makes me SO GLAD I am a knitter!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sarah Jane's Yarn Shoppe - Birthday Bounty!!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Oh, I love the subway mittens! That little heart button is just the right touch.

I am quite pleased to report that Fort Wayne now has TWO yarn stores! Sarah Jane's Yarn Shoppe opened January 19th(when I was out of town, so I missed the grand opening!) Knitting at Lunch was there, and provided a great report on her blog. I was really pleased to see Noro there, along with Cascade and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and Baby Cashmerino!! The atmosphere is really bright and cheery, even on a grey winter day. They also have one of the nicest selections of baby yarns that I've seen. (The only two yarns that I can't find locally now are Dale of Norway, (especially Baby Ull) and Koigu, but rumor has it that Koigu is in the works.)

My first trip to Sarah Jane's was made even more wonderful by the gift certificate in my pocket! I had a birthday last week - I turned 28 for the final time!! (Next year is a biggie, and I'll have to switch to my "biological age" since it means that it is time for my "on my 50th birthday I will be parasailing" goal!) Knitting at Lunch gifted me with a guilt-free trip to a yarn store - THANK YOU!!! Here's the haul:


Puffin by Crystal Palace (I'm going to try a swatch and see what I think it wants to be, but it has a wonderful feel!)


Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (I love to make baby hats from this!)


And a big bottle of Eucalan wash. I emptied my bottle last time I did blocking, so this was quite timely! THANKS LAUREN!!

I also picked up a few things in Kenosha last weekend at Fiddlehead Yarns. This is one of my favorite not-so-local shops. The first time I went, I was a bit disappointed in the sock yarn selection, but they have really beefed that up! I was there in November and fell in love with a new sock yarn, Araucania Ranco. I was strong and resisted the urge, but later regretted it. I was quite excited when I returned to see that they still had the colorway that I loved, so I snatched that right up!!


I also grabbed a great project bag - I had been looking for something that would hold a larger-than-sock project and this really fits the bill. Inside you can see my current progress on the Lozenge-Look Baby Blanket.


Now then, my mathmatically-gifted friend, I have a challenge (favor?!?) to ask of you. I'm working on my "Ribbons" baby blanket again. (Yes, I have project ADD...)


This project starts in the center with 8 stitches, and is worked in the round. Every-other round is an "increase round" where I increase 8 stitches. I just finished an increase round with 280 stitches, and I know that when I am finished, each round will be 488 stitches. Is this the sort of information you can take and figure out:
1. How far along I actually am?
2. How much I should knit each day to be done by March 10th?
If you could, I would be eternally grateful!!

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

One man's junk is another man's treasure...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Remember this?This is the 33 pound reel-to-reel tape player that wouldn't, which I offered to our readers for free. No takers, so I returned it to my dad when I saw him at Christmas.

Okay, so hindsight is 20/20, for all of us! My dad listed it on eBay. As it turns out, the recorder itself is worth virtually nothing. **However**, the microphone that goes along with it was worth a lot more than I thought -- $154.11 more than I thought, to be exact! The winning bidder asked my dad to ship the microphone only and keep the 33 pound recorder. Sort of like our own little Antique Road Show...

I don't think I ever shared my finished Subway Mittens with you. I put a pocket on only the right handed mitten. You'll have to take my word for it that I've also completed a left handed mitten sans pocket. I love them.

And, I'm cruising along on the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. My gauge is right on (though I know I'm totally taking a chance by putting that in print). About 15 more rows and I'll set this part aside until the sleeves are finished...

I went to "Last Saturday Knitting" this past Saturday, my first time there since prior to my chem2 class last semester. It was so great to see this nice bunch of knitters! (Elizabeth, Linda, MollyBee, Dale-Harriet, and Cindy were all there!) Aside from their company, which is the best part of it, I loved to see the hand knits everybody was wearing. Beautiful sweaters and hats, and when I looked down, there were three sets of feet all in a row wearing hand knit socks!

Well, I'd better make some lunch for my seven year old and myself. He has no school today, but his little brother does. Last Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr. day, just the opposite, in that my seven year old had school and his little brother didn't. Spring break will be similar, in that the breaks won't coincide with each other. Fortunately, as a stay at home mom, it works out just fine, except for the part in which I don't get a break...but I'll get some one on one time with each of my boys, and that is a luxury we don't often have...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Some settling of contents may have occurred...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Okay, so I caulked around the tub this morning. Here's a "before" and "after" shot: It doesn't look "professional", but it looks a lot better than it did, and now I'm not afraid to let somebody actually take a shower in it, because the seal around the edges has much more integrity than it did. Our house was built in 1976 I think? During that time, things have shifted, including the tub no longer being right next to the "pretty?" harvest gold tile. This makes caulking a challenge, because with a gap of about 3/8" to 1/2" in some places, it is difficult to both fill the area, yet not have it look like there is too much excess caulk. I smoothed out the edges as best I could to try to avoid the "globbed on" look we had going before. Here's a photo of the prior globs in an area near the tub on the floor: Using only a tube of caulk (easier for me than a caulk gun), many wet paper towels (to keep my index finger "caulk shaper" moist, and for depositing excess caulk), my patience, an hour of time, and this tutorial, here's what it looks like now:So, is the harvest gold color back "in" now? I'm sure harvest gold will be the rage as soon as we remodel this bathroom to a nice calming shade of blue or something, though that won't happen for many years...

I remember telling you that I was going to teach my seven year old how to knit. He has been asking me about it for the past few months, and I told him that I'd show him how during his Christmas break... So, we measured around his teddy bear, and did some math to determine how many stitches to cast on to make a sweater in the round for his bear. I cast on the stitches, then knit a few rows, and then started showing him how to make the knit stitch. He caught on relatively quickly to the concept of making the knit stitch, though the whole coordination thing was a challenge for him.... He'd pick it up now and then and make a few stitches at a time, and become extremely frustrated if something dropped off the needle, etc. Then one day, I asked him if he was going to be knitting much more, and he said, "Well, I *did* knit *a stitch* yesterday," so I suggested that if it was okay with him, we might wait and try knitting with him again some other time. He said that would be good and looked quite relieved. In retrospect, I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to teach him using such a dark color, either. In any case, there appears to be no immediate danger of my stash being snatched up by other members of the family. Phew!

Knitting in my next post!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cure for insomnia....

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

Thank you everybody for your kind reception of the Hanami stole. After checking Ravelry (great idea Cynthia G) and also sending the designer an e-mail, I'm convinced that my 900 yards should be sufficient, so that will probably be one of my next projects.

No progress on SuperNova. Thank you, Kitty Mommy, for alerting me to the fact that I should be careful not to sew the sweater **to** the ironing board. Seriously, I'm totally capable of that, and am glad for the warning, and as you suggested, I won't ask how you know about that.

The baby blanket has been a rather quick knit. I'm in the home stretch here: I'm not too crazy about this acrylic yarn, but soon it will all be gone and I'll have a baby gift in the finished items stash. The border of this would really benefit from a good in that regard, I'm not so sure acrylic was the best choice for this...

DH gave me a gift card to Lakeside Fibers for Christmas, so I bought yarn to make the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. Here's progress so far on that:I'm revising the lower half of the waist shaping -- more on that if my "plan" actually works... I'm loving how the yarn is knitting up -- It is Rowan Felted Tweed, the yarn called for in the pattern, though I'm using the color "camel". It is very light brown (tan?) with flecks of blue, very dark gray, and white-ish. I've never noticed any camels having blue flecks, though, having seen only a dozen or so camels in my lifetime, I'm no expert -- but I like the blue flecks...reflective of reality or not.

Having no class this semester is a little bit weird. On the last day of the class which I took last summer, one of the guys in the class told me, "And so ends our brief association." I thought that was a bit odd, but then I realized how true it was. A class full of people spends hours and hours working together, laughing, getting to know each other, and then **poof**, it's all done, and everybody goes his/her separate ways. The older I get, the more attached I seem to be getting to everybody, too. And, it is generally just not practical to stay in touch with everybody. I guess I'm missing the social aspects of being in a class. Incidentally, I ran into that same "brief association" guy about two weeks later as I was walking down the hall on the first day of the fall semester...

So, to keep myself busy, I started working on the caulk around the tub. I know there were problems with leaks in the distant past, because the support beams below this particular tub have some water marks on them. However, just before we moved into this house, I think the previous owner went around this tub and floor with a jumbo caulking gun, because it is just globbed on:... and is loose in places so that I've been trying to get both boys to "not splash" when they are in the tub. (Have you every tried to get two boys to "not splash"?) Anyway, I have the caulk mostly out, and am working on scraping out some of the remaining residue. Here's what it looks like with the "globs" removed: After a little scrubbing and then reapplication of caulk without globbing it, I'm confident things will look and function much better around that tub. Estimated timing for completion is the end of this week.

My seven year old just had his "half birthday", which is a nice way to let kids with summer birthdays get a "special day" during the regular school year. So, he picked out a treat to make -- zebra cookies -- possibly the most difficult/tedious recipe in his kids' recipe book. In this photo, you can see the picture of what the cookies are supposed to look like, and also our finished products which don't look anything like zebras:My son wanted red and white, and we were going to cut them in the shape of Wisconsin -- very cool. Then we started having all sorts of problems, including the dough not holding together, and there you have it! I can't say they tasted very good, either. We succeeded on what matters most, however -- my son loved them and proudly gave them to his classmates and several teachers at his school.

Okay, so it's been very cold here lately -- high on Saturday was negative 2 degrees F. And, the Packers lost in overtime last night. Very sad. And again, everybody wondering whether or not Brett Favre will return for another season..... The snow we had today was just beautiful, however, and I'm going to enjoy the evening knitting in my chilly house (thermostat currently set to 64 degrees F)...but it's knitting, and it keeps me warm in many ways.

I think I'm rambling, so I'd better get going on cleaning up the kitchen. More soon!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Blanket(s) Too!!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Hello there - it has been too long and I apologize for my hermit-like blogging of late. I have, however, enjoyed your posts. You make a compelling case for "clean finishing." The sweater is beautiful, even inside out!

I hadn't seen the
Hanami stole until you posted it - but I love it!! I too have a couple of skeins of laceweight in the stash, and I've added this to my Ravelry queue. It will have to wait until after socks and....BABY BLANKETS!!

I really like the way your blue blanket is turning out. It does look like the "dishcloth blanket", but the larger border is quite nice, and I'm anxious to see it grow into a rectangle, instead of a square.

I have known for months that I would need two baby blankets between January and March. I was feeling pretty good about that, since I had one completed and a decent start on the second.
IMG_4005.JPG IMG_3853.JPG

And it isn't like I've been slacking - I've made a bunch of baby hats, a baby sweater, and a scarf. But I have a rather complex formula to determine when the baby gift is several hats or some socks, maybe a little sweater and when it is a BLANKET. Basically, adult Godchildren/nieces/nephews get a major project (blanket or Baptismal lace) for their first child. Subsequent children get some hats or socks. New babies that become Godchildren also get a major project.

Therefore, I needed hats for my niece's second child, due early January (born December 26th, a 9 lb boy named Logan!); a blanket for my friend's baby who will be a Godchild, due in mid-January (born on the 12th, a 9 lb girl named Beata!), and a blanket for another niece's first baby, due in March. Oh - and I know that the baby in March is a girl, but the other two were surprises. I headed into late December quite flush, with the red/blue baby blanket done (I had a feeling it was a boy, but a girl could like it too!), a nice selection of both boy and girl hats for my niece, and the second baby blanket started.

I never really know how to handle it when I'm working pretty far ahead of a deadline - that's why I dropped in the Tulip sweater and the scarf for a co-worker,


plus the soap sweaters and a ski-band for a Christmas present. March is AGES away!! (Are you sensing a plot twist?? Why do I always ignore the possibility of a plot twist? It's a wonderful plot twist, but I was unprepared!!!) Logan's mom (who was my very first Godchild about 25 years ago!) asked me to be his Godmother! I was completely honored and excited!!


I spent last Saturday morning swatching my stash to see if there was a boy baby blanket in there for Logan when my friends called to tell me that Beata had arrived! (There is much baby joy in my life these days!) Once I knew that she's a girl, I kept eyeing that red/blue blanket and dreaming of my bag of yellow yarn and thinking how much nicer it would be if Logan had the red/blue and Beata had yellow....this is my favorite baby blanket yarn (Heirloom Breeze, a wool/cotton/elastic blend) and I had a pattern that several of my friends had made that I wanted to try, so here is the cast-on of Beata's Lozenge Blanket.


I'm at that heady "first week stage" where I get through the first ball of yarn in 3 days and start thinking that at this rate, I could be done in 3-4 weeks, when we all know it's going to be more like 6! But let's not think about that now, ok? Because I'm heading to WI this weekend for the Baptism and I plan to spend my time holding a baby, not knitting needles!

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Baby blanket

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

Well, I have half of our Christmas tree dismantled, and hopefully I'll get the rest of our Christmas decorations put away today. It's a task which reminds me of weaving in the ends of my knitting. I'm always glad when it's done, but I have a hard time motivating myself to do it...

I needed a mindless project to carry around, so I went to the stash and pulled out eight skeins of acrylic discount store yarn. It was given to me from a former knitter, and it's a lot of sport weight yarn, so I decided to make a baby blanket with it, holding the yarn doubled. It is an Evelyn Clark pattern, and I actually saw a blanket similar to this when I was out and about one day, and I was trying to figure out how the corners were made, having such a large garter stitch border. (Aside from the wide border, it looks just like the standard dishcloth pattern, yes?) In any case, SHORT ROWS! This blanket is going to be a rectangle, and the second and third corners will be made using short rows. I'm just about ready to make the second corner... I'll let you know how that goes...

Here is one of the Christmas gifts I received this year:Isn't this little bag adorable? Some friends of ours have a daughter who is a junior in high school, and she loves to sew and has really gotten into making bags. I love it! I carry it with me all the time! LOVE IT! Perfect for knitting, and the top narrows just enough so that things don't fall out of it all the time.

And finally, I finished all of the little circles motifs for my SuperNova pullover. Instead of pinning the pieces together, I decided to pin them all down onto my ironing board to hold them in place as I sew them together. (I tried pinning them together initially, but everything ended up shifting all over the place, and the first circle ended up being lopsided once sewn in -- so hopefully if I stand over my ironing board and leave things pinned to the board as I go, I'll avoid that problem? Hypothetically, anyway...)

AND, I sold my chemistry book on ebay for $51.00. YAY!

I'm thinking about purchasing the Hanami pattern. I have 900 yards of lace weight which I bought for the Mystery Stole last summer, but I didn't end up knitting that because I was too busy with a class...and then I decided that I really like the Hanami pattern more than the Swan Lake one... Hmmm... Any thoughts? Pattern calls for 880 might be a close finish...

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A case for clean finishing...

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

The sweater I made for dh for Christmas fits him extremely well -- better than I could have hoped. Here is a photo of him wearing the sweater:Note that he has it on "inside out". I discovered this as I gazed at him from across the room at a New Years Eve party the other night. Immediately after I noticed, I walked all the way around him to make sure that there were no little ends poking out. There are small seams in the armpits which would reveal the "inside out-ness" to a trained eye, though for the most part, the sweater works fine as "reverse stockinette". To his credit, the "vee" part of the "vee neck" is in the front... This might be a case for "grrrranimals" for men, or at least warrant me sewing a tag into the inside back of the neckline for "sweater orientation" purposes...

Now I'm working on SuperNova from Interweave Knits Fall 2006... This sweater has eleven parts to it which must be sewn together -- I have seven of those parts completed and have started the tricky task of piecing the circles into the front, though am back at square zero again having ripped out the seam for the first circle I sewed in... I'm not sure I'm happy with the first sleeve I sewed in, either... I added waist shaping. I think the schematics have some errors in the dimensions. The circles are supposed to be four inches across per the sketch, but I think they'll fit in much better if they are six inches across, and a six inch diameter seems to actually make more sense with the other dimensions of the sweater. I sent an e-mail about it to Interweave months ago, but no I'm just plowing forward with what makes the most sense to me...

My seven year old wants me to teach him how to knit. I thought I'd start out by casting on to make a teddy bear sweater in the round, and let him get the hang of stockinette stitch for the body of the bear sweater, then go from there. (Actually, I first thought about having him knit a scarf, but we have so many of those around here right now, and I'm not sure he's going to have the staying power for that...) Anyway, I'm sure **I'll** learn something from the experience, if nothing else...

Oh, and do you know anybody who might want to purchase my used chemistry book? I've listed it on eBay... It is five pounds! (I **thought** my backpack seemed rather heavy this past semester....)
Well, very cold day here today, just above zero right now. We're going to the gym (they have a kids' gym for the boys to get some exercise while I am running on the treadmill) and then grocery shopping... Have a great day!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)