Saturday, May 31, 2008

Deluxe Accomodations

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

We are having another guest from out of town this weekend. As you experienced, we offer accommodations here which aren't found just any place. For example, I venture to say it would be difficult to find **this** atop the closet doors of most fine hotels: I can't say whether or not this underwear is clean or dirty...though some questions are best not asked. I'm still cracking up from when you discovered this little nuance, and I'm going to leave it there just to see if today's visitor notices the same. (I guess this is the risk a hostess runs by transforming her five year old's room into a guest bedroom by having him sleep in his brother's room. You can take the boy out of the room, but you can't take the boy's influence out of the room...)

I have one pattern repeat completed on the body section of Ibenholt: I'm very happy with the size of it now, and though I did find two errors in one of the charts, I think the rest of this should be very straight forward. It's great fun to knit (though more fun now that I have my gauge issues behind me.)

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

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Patch Central and Ibenholt

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I trust you had a nice trip home, and am so glad you were able to visit, short though it was, but fine because we were so efficient going about our knitting/sewing business!

I finished one of the felted mini bags (because I had to give it away this past weekend):(The stripes don't all look uniform because the contrasting yarn had some pink in it, which doesn't show up against the pink background of the main color.) Oddly, and the first time this has ever happened to me, this particular bag ended up being slightly felted shut (front and back almost fused to each other) when I pulled it from the washer. A little tugging and yanking made things okay, though I wonder why the three others I felted at the same time didn't have even a hint of such a thing.

I started the cabled section of Ibenholt, and the directions said something like "work pattern A, then pattern B, then pattern D, then pattern C, then B, then A, then C, then A, then get the picture. So, I used coil-less pin type markers with little labels stuck on them to indicate which chart is to be worked in each section as I go across the right side rows: It's working out to be a great system, though I have to say that this step did *not* ensure that my gauge would be correct, and this sweater was on its way to becoming way too big for me... After three inches of concentrated cable work, I finally figured that out, so I ripped back to the ribbing and have settled on size five needles. (Oddly, to achieve gauge, this sweater has sleeves knit out of size 6 needles, body out of size 5 needles, and pattern calling for size 4 needles. I think I'm having gauge problems because of the moss stitch and the cabled area...though hopefully things are on track now!) Also, I have no more coil-less stitch markers available, so I won't be starting any other complicated projects until this one is done...

While we were visiting dh's family this past weekend, we went to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN:There are four eagles living there now, placed there because they are unable to fly because of injuries sustained by being hit by cars. I learned a lot about eagles there, and the efforts which have been taken over the years to regenerate eagle populations.

I still have a pile of mending, though I made a start by putting patches on a pair of my jeans. (When I was in the work force, I never got holes in my knees. After staying home with my kids for eight years, I have holes in the knees of lots of my pants.) When I was buying some patches at the fabric store, I noticed some patches made out of standard woven printed fabric which were very cute, flowery or polka dotty, so much more fun than just a square piece of fusible denim. They were a bit pricey, however, so I wouldn't splurge for them...but I thought that with a little "wonder under," I could make my own. So, I started mending a pair of my jeans. I first cut a piece of "wonder under" big enough to cover the holes on both knees of my jeans. I lightly fused the "wonder under" to the fabric -- but only for a few seconds. If you go more than just a few seconds on this part, you'll never get the paper backing off in the later steps:Then I cut my patches to be the right size and shape. (I made boring squares with rounded corners, but I'm thinking flower shapes might be cute.) Then, I removed the paper backing of the "wonder under", and had a fabric patch which was fusible. I ironed this fabric patch on top of the holes in my jean, this time keeping the iron in place for about 15 seconds:For reinforcement, I overcast stitched around the edges of the patch:I know that nowadays kids leave big gaping holes in their jeans. In fact, one of my nieces had her brother shoot holes in her jeans with a gun before her senior picture was taken last year so she could achieve "the look." However, my knees get cold, and the holes just keep getting bigger, so I like a nice patch to keep things tidy. Does this make me old or sensible?

Finally, here is "my" backpack:I use the term "my" loosely, because technically it belongs to dh. He was at a trade show a few years ago, and all of the attendees got a nice backpack like this one. It has a separate padded area inside to carry a laptop computer in addition to a roomy book compartment, and many pockets with zippers. He put it in the closet and never used it. When I started taking classes a few years ago, I started using this backpack. It's very functional, but I just really don't like having all of the propaganda on the front of it. I couldn't justify getting a new backpack just for such a cosmetic reason, so I decided to try to personalize it to better suit my tastes. "Wonder under" to the rescue!Now when I look at "my" backpack, it seems cheery and makes me smile. (Perhaps it is a little dorky, too, but it matches my bike with the huge yellow basket on the back in the style of "dorky.") Plus, I'm sure that NOW, dh won't ever want it back :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pickin' and Throwin' -- in the same room!

So much yarn, so little time.

This is the second time ever that we have posted to the blog together. It has been over two years since we've seen each other in person! Thankfully, the Sow's Ear was open until 8:30 this evening, so we were able to make a yarn excursion and sit and chat for a while.

There was some **small** stash enhancement. Any progress that Laura made in terms of stash reduction by making dishrags in the Mission Possible endeavor was nullified by her purchase of Peaches and Cream (which was considered a necessary expense, since all of the dishclothes knit so far this year have already been given away.) Cynthia picked up some Noro to add to her growing Lizard Ridge blanket stash, some yarn for another blanket buddy, and some dishcloth cotton. Really, the least amount of dollars we've ever spent on yarn when we've been out to a yarn store together, EVER!

Poor Cynthia. Had to frog, but such a nice smile!
(Note to Lauren -- The Fetching hat is not finished yet -- see photo above...)
(Also, that is NOT a beer in the photo -- it's a SMOOTHIE! Really... That's whipped cream on top, and not suds!)

Cynthia says that it should be noted that Laura made progress on Ibenholt without frogging, though Cynthia missed the part in which three inches of cable work was ripped over the weekend... More on that later.

Well, time for some zzzzzz's.

Warm regards and Keep knitting!

Laura (YarnThrower) and Cynthia (Designated Knitter)

Be there soon!

Greetings and Dear Laura:
Here I sit, waiting for the Badger Bus to come see you. I'm very excited - it has been way too long
I did bring the Ladybug sweater, thinking that I was near the point of steeks, but I didn't realize that I needed other colors of yarn. Oh well.
See you soon!
Keep knitting!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Knitting on the Road

Greetings and Dear Laura:

RAILroad, that is!! I'm so excited to be heading your way! I'm all packed and ready to go. (I think. I can't remember if I put my toothbrush in my bag, or back in the drawer.....Oh well, they have Walmart in Wisconsin!)
I do have five and half days away from work, hours of train and bus rides, plus some waiting around between. Can you say "Knitting time!"??? So, I think there should be a little holiday weekend contest. I've got my knitting all packed and ready to go. I am confident that I will not run out of knitting before I return home.

What did I bring? (I'm DesignatedKntr on Ravelry - that will help!)

Leave a comment guessing what I brought. I'll award one point for each correct guess. And you can earn a bonus point by guessing which (if any!) come home completed. The winner will receive 1 skeins (enough for socks!) of Knitivity Hand-Dyed Merino Paisley Collection in the Brown colorway.
Here's a Ravelry link to view the prize.

Keep knitting!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Greetings and Dear Laura:

Last week was an interesting week for me. I usually don't blog about my job, and that is certainly not the focus today, but I am going to explain a few things.

The "project" we've been working on "went live" last week ("Roll-Out 1") and since I was responsible for one of the processes, I spent 53 hours in "The Command Center" for "Production Support," otherwise know as "The Seventh Circle of Hell (T7CoH)" Ok, it wasn't THAT bad, most of the time, but there were moments. However, it was my first "Go Live" and so I was pretty nervous. I had mixed feelings about my parents leaving for KY on Monday, because while I was looking forward to the quiet at home, I certainly missed having my cooking and laundry taken care of! ;)

The bottom line, and what this has to do with knitting, is that really, work was the ONLY thing that happened last week. I got up early, spent 10-12 hours in T7CoH, came home, opened a can of soup, fell into my chair and napped until bedtime. Never took a lunch break. DIDN'T KNIT A STITCH! And if there was ever a time I should have been knitting.....

Anyway, my parents spent the week being amused at my "lapses in concentration" about anything not related to T7CoH. "Did you remember to wear shoes?" Yes, but I had to change out of my sneakers, since it wasn't jeans day. "Did you remember to let your dog out?" Yes (but I had to have my sil go and check to be sure.) Etc, etc. So on my way home from work Friday, my mother helpfully reminded me that I had two birthday parties to attend over the weekend.


"Shoot. I need to finish knitting presents for those."


"And by 'finish' I mean 'start.'"

(more laughter)

But I did it!! For my new niece-in-law's 21st birthday on Saturday, I started and finished a face cloth in cotton chenille and a Soap Sweater in Noro Kueryon. (From that stash that is waiting to become a Lizard Ridge Afghan!) And I was only 20 minutes late to the party!


Noro Soap Sweater

And on Sunday evening, for my niece's first birthday, I started and finished a Soap Sweater made with scraps of Dream in Color (she has a Soap Sweater to match her sweater!) and a Blankie Buddy using....let's just say the second half of the same yarn I used for the last one! And this time I was only 10 minutes late to the party! Progress!

DIC Soap Sweater

Blankie Buddy

Whew! Back to sock knitting - I will finish those socks!

Keep knitting! (And I'll see you in 5 days!!!)

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to feel like a kid again...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I was having a "good hair day" today, so I decided to go to the DMV to renew my drivers' license, to give myself the best possible odds of being photogenic. There was a man having severely deformed hands running the photo area, but that didn't seem to bother him one bit, and he's one of the cheeriest people I've run across, ever. It's impossible to have any bad feelings about the DMV when his is the last station before leaving, and I just love it when I encounter people who are so outwardly cheerful! Regarding my photo, however, I must say that it doesn't make a lot of difference what kind of hair day I'm having..... In fact, my hair looks fine in the photo, but somehow my face looks really red.

Speaking of driving, I've been making a lot of use of my bike lately running errands. Sometimes my five year old and I take the bus to get him to school, which is right on campus, and then I ride my bike home. (The buses here all have bike carriers on the front of them.) It's about a seven or eight mile trip, though there are bike paths everywhere to facilitate riding without worries about too much car traffic, including some bike paths which are two lanes. Also, people biking are a friendly bunch. Most of them say, "Hi," or at least nod (except for one older guy who made the sign of the cross when he saw me coming...). Anyway, the basket I had on my rear carrier was a bit flimsy and looked like this one day after I returned home: I dug around the house, and found this much sturdier crate (which I didn't steal!), and used rip ties to hold it in place instead of bungee cords, and this seems to be much more robust. I know I look like a dork with this setup, but the bright yellow is quite visible, it's quick to put my backpack or parcels in there, and at 43 years old I'm entitled to be a dork if I want to. The best part about this is how great it makes me feel! Somehow it gives me the sense of having "more control" and simplicity (well, except for the day my chain fell off and I had to figure out how to get it back on in order to continue). It makes me feel like a kid again.

Now, what I really must do is start logging the miles on my bike, calculate how much money I'm saving in gas, and claim that for my yarn fund :-)

I finished the first sleeve of my Ibenholt:
It is a sea of moss stitch, having baby cables for the ribbing. I started on the body using the same size needles, and working back and forth instead of in the round. Gauge problems -- my cables were coming out a lot looser than they were on the sleeve. So, back to size five needles, and I'm much happier with this:I anticipate having some more gauge problems once I'm past the cabled ribbing section, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I'm starting to feel the pinch of having only three weeks until I start school full time. This week, I'm cranking through a lot of sewing / mending. Next week I plan to clean like crazy. The week after that I will be a paper filing/sorting maniac. A girl can dream, right?

I will see YOU in ONE WEEK!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Graduation gift

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I had a very nice Mothers' Day -- low key and perfect that way. DH and the boys made dinner for me, and I can't think of a better treat! The boys decided on tomato soup, which is quite a sacrifice for them, since they don't like it, but they know that I love it. They also made whole wheat scones to go with it, and I have to say that they can cook for me any time! Because it was Mothers' Day, my five year old told me, "You don't have to be so good. You should have fun." It was sweet, and endearing..... and then I couldn't stop thinking that he sounded like a college student just before a frat party. If something is fun, does that mean it isn't good? I think knitting proves that "fun" and "good" are **not** mutually exclusive!

One of my nieces is graduating from high school Memorial Day weekend, so I've been working on a gift for her. She's planning on attending Michigan Tech in fall. Their colors are gold and silver, though their sports teams wear black and yellow, so I put together this blanket / pillow / scarf ensemble:Their mascot is a Husky, but I couldn't find mascot fabric anywhere, and I can't sew a picture of a husky, so instead I made paw prints by sewing two layers together and cutting inside the stitching on one of the layers so the opposite color would show through.

Not much knitting news. I ended up re-knitting my Ibenholt sleeve twice more, because as it turns out, I'm impaired when it comes to figuring out my gauge. FINALLY, however, I think I've REALLY got it THIS TIME, and am using size six needles (instead of the size four called for in the pattern).

My five year old is running a fever today, so we're having a quiet day at home, and I'm cranking through the laundry, managing to put off grocery shopping for another day...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

For the record, I don't think there is anything wrong with KADD (Knitting Attention Deficit Disorder). You're okay. I'm okay. WE'RE ALL OK!, though I might be a little defensive about it. :-) Nice for you to arrive home to a dinner your mom made for you! If she's ever in my neighborhood.....I would be willing to leave my house, just to arrive home to a dinner I didn't cook myself :-)

Sorry that I can't sympathize with you regarding the Daylight Savings Time thing, though I'm so sorry it is messing up your system. Perhaps it is because you didn't grow up with it. I just remember that when I was living in Fort Wayne after college, my parents would awaken me with phone calls at odd hours, especially a week or two after the time changed for them, because they could never remember whether or not it was the time of year in which we were in the same time zone...

My mom and I had a great time spending the day together last Saturday. When all was said and done, we ended up purchasing the same pattern (Ibenholt) and yarn to have our own little "knit along." I couldn't stop myself from casting on: I'm starting with the sleeve, which I've come to know as my "gauge swatch." I'm confident of my gauge with the Heilo yarn, having used it many times before, though I want to make sure that my moss stitch is the right tension... Lots of moss stitch, and the first time I've ever used this much texture in a sweater. So far, very fun and engaging.

Thank you LeeAnn for your thoughts regarding the two socks on one circular heel trick! Honestly, I was looking for an excuse to put the socks on dpn's so that I wouldn't have to uphold my goal of knitting both socks at the same time entirely using the magic loop... I should have assumed, however, that you would come to my "rescue" with your method for getting 60% of the stitches onto one leg of the circular! It worked great to temporarily hold the extra three stitches while I worked around to the other side of the sock, etc... Now, unless I'm missing something else, I couldn't do the heels at the same time row by row, but had to knit one heel, then the other, true? In any case, with both heels finished, and then once I untangled all of the yarn, I was able to re-distribute the stitches and am now working up the leg with the "thinking parts" of this pair of socks behind me. Bottom line: THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP! I've learned so much about knitting because of the blog world, and feel so fortunate that so many knitters out there are so generous with their help!

MollyBee -- I don't know whether or not the oven mitts really work. I was going to try them out before I sent them off to my mom and mom-in-law, and forgot! They do seem quite dense and thick, however, so my initial impression is that they'd work as well as any of the hot pads I have around our house...

My sister and I ran a 5K, "Bucky's Race for Rehab," this past Sunday. Can you find the mascot in this photo:My sister's goal was to finish the race without walking, which we did, and it was the farthest she's ever run at one time. It was a beautiful day for a run, and just a really nice thing for us to do together. Our next goal is an 8K in fall.

Well, I told my five year old we could go on a bike ride on this beautiful afternoon, so I'd better get going.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Knitting ADD.....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Wow - that's a pretty extensive gift list you have going there! Pretty neat gifts as well! How did your run go on Saturday?

I've been rather overwhelmed lately. Trying to cram too much into a day it seems. I blame daylight savings time. Even if, by some miracle, I am done with my day by 7-8 in the evening, my body/brain can't seem to process that it's time to wind down for bed when the sun is shining in my eyes! And too many nights it's 9 before I can consider the day "done." Consequently, I'm up until 11 or so trying to relax - or after a few nights of that, I'm passed out in my chair because I'm exhausted! Either way, that 5:30 a.m. alarm is always a problem, as is staying awake all day at work! I guess my brother and I are the only ones who have this problem tho - seems the rest of the world just loves it, so you'll all just have to excuse us for a few months while we're sleep deprived!

My parents are "home" this week! There was a break in their routine in KY, so it was a good time for a trip back here. It had been over a month this time! I do really appreciate coming home to having dinner ready, and when she needs to run laundry, she does mine as well, so that as been nice!

I myself am struggling with knitting ADD. My two-at-a-time-toe-up-magic-loop socks only need about 3" more of the cuff, but suddenly all other projects seem fascinating! Saturday afternoon, I "took a notion" to "whip up" another blanket buddy as a gift for my great-niece Josie, who lives in Texas. A couple of family members are flying down for a visit and I wanted to send a little something.
I already had a pink one done for Lydia, who turned two on Saturday. It was a popluar gift, and now I have requests for 2 more. One needs to be finished this evening, and the second is for a birthday gift on the 17th. (This required a trip to the yarn store! YAY!)
I will finish with this buddy tonight - I switched to Peter Pan Velvet Touch. It's very soft, and is a finer yarn than the Crystal Palace Puffin that I had been using. The blanket buddy is a bit smaller, but that's not a bad thing. It's supposed to be easily portable, after all!

I have a new niece-in-law (I'm pretty sure she doesn't read my blog, but.... Hi Hana! Stop reading this paragraph!) and her birthday is coming up on the 17th. Since it's her first birthday in the family, I thought I'd "whip up" a couple of soap sweaters and a chenille face cloth as a little gift.

Oh, and there is a surprise 30th-birthday-party for one of my nephews-in-law in June, and he is on my list of family members that I've never made socks for. I've had the yarn for a couple of years, but I never got his name for Christmas. Those I'll be able to "whip up" pretty quickly, since they are thicker socks for wearing under boots while ice-fishing.

And while I have SO MUCH sock yarn calling my name that I can't wait to knit up...well, I was having a bit of a bad day when I went to the yarn store, which we all know is dangerous, but in my defense, sock yarn isn't stash. I finally succumbed to the Noro sock yarn!
Now if I can just stop deciding to "whip up" additional gifts, maybe I can attain knitting monogamy for THREE MORE INCHES of sock cuffs!

Oh, and I almost forgot! We had a wonderful trip to Indy to see the Yarn Harlot last week! (This may have contributed to my overall sleepiness - we didn't get home until 1 am!) Check out her
blog post of the event - we are in the first row of the third picture down! That's The Rebellious Pastor's Wife, myself and Knitting at Lunch! And here's a picture of us when I was getting my book signed!
Knitting at Lunch is also on the post as one of the First-Sock knitters! We had a really good time, went to a yarn store and I did not enhance the stash at all! (I did try to post from my mobile phone, but it turns out I do not possess the requisite number of brain cells for that! Oh well!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gifts gifts gifts gifts gifts.....

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I lost my will to blog for a few days... I think I was giving off some general "I'm losing and I need a break" vibes last weekend, because I mentioned to dh on Sunday afternoon that I was going out for a little while, and he asked me if I'd be coming back this month. We've since had one of those "family meetings" with our kids, and arrived at some plans that seem to be making everybody happy again, so we won't have to dip into our therapy funds just yet.

I've been knitting knitting knitting, mostly gifts. In may and June, there are birthdays for three nieces, another niece's graduation, Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, and dh's birthday. Many of these gifts will include some sort of handmade element, and I've got the stash and some time to work ahead a little bit.

For Mothers' Day, I'm making a second felted oven mitt, and will pair it with some hand soap from Bath&Body Works, and probably a plant for my mil. My mom will get the same thing, except for a book instead of the plant. Here's the second mitt, still needing the thumb, next to the first already felted mitt:I'm thinking a little ribbon, and these will work out for some nice mother-type gifts. Maybe I'll throw in a dish rag or two...

All of my nieces who have birthdays yet this year (four of them) will be getting a "Tiny Tote" (pattern by Amy Anderson) containing a gift card. I have three of them knit so far using Patons Classic Merino, and will start the fourth one today. Also, I have about 90 more inches of I-cord to knit for these: These items will all be felted, and I'll show you "before" and "after" shots when I get them. I feel like I have knitting ADD in a big way right now, having started several projects this past week, and not one of them being finished--though I wanted to get all of the stuff for felting ready to go so that I could do the felting in only one washer load.

I also made bags for my kids for their piano lesson books, to enable them to carry their piano stuff with less chance of dropping something:My kids really like these, and they are the perfect size for their music. I followed the directions in Mary Mulari's "Accessories with Style," which has revolutionized the way I use zippers. I also added applique initials by printing out really big letters in MicroSoft Word, and using them as patterns. Appliques have been made really easy by the use of "Wonder Under," which is paper-backed fusible web found at the fabric store.

My mom will be visiting today, and we're looking forward to checking out the local knitting/quilting scene on Saturday, though not sure exactly where we'll go just yet.

On Sunday, my sister will be visiting, and she and I are going to run a 5K race together. We've been training independently (she mostly bikes and runs a little, I mostly run and bike a little), and this is the first **event** we've ever done together. I hope the weather is cooperates! It looks like rain here today and tomorrow...

Well, time to clean up the kitchen and the bathrooms so the house has some semblance of order when my mom arrives this morning...

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