Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seeing double

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I meant to blog three days in a row, but then I got bogged down with doing our taxes, and my kids had a half day of school...and on another day I visited my Grandpa in a nursing home in Milwaukee:
Isn't he handsome? (That's what *he* always tells me, too!) This is a photo my mom took of him on Valentines' Day. He used to work at Schlitz Brewery, which doesn't exist any more, but Miller Brewery is making the Schlitz recipe, and Grandpa thinks it's pretty good.

Do not adjust your computer screen. This really is a photo of **two** Ibenholt sweaters:Mine (on the right) is all done (including blocking) except for sewing in the zipper (will that saga never end?). The other one is my mom's. She is doing great with it, even though she has found it quite challenging. Recently, she got it into a minor mess while dividing the fronts from the back, so I told her I'd bring it home and fix it. My mom is no longer feeling the love for this I fixed the issue and put in a lifeline to preserve what we have so far (and it's helpful for Mom to know that if something goes haywire, all is not lost).

I'm going to work on it for a while to help progress it a little bit farther, to give my mom's psyche a chance to heal, and to give my dad a break. He wishes the sweater would go away -- "I can't even talk to your mom when she's working on it...every night!" My mom knits quite a bit looser than I do, so I've been consciously trying to match her tension -- it's working out surprisingly well.

So, I've been thinking about motivation for exercise. Historically, I am able to maintain exercise programs the best when I am meeting somebody to exercise. I used to run with my neighbor when I lived in Fort Wayne. We would meet at around 6:00am, run and chat, and I loved it. She was one of those people you could discuss all kinds of stuff with, and she was fun on top of it. There is something about the pressure of not letting somebody down which forced me to get out of bed and go. And, since it was generally dark at this time, I felt safer running with somebody else. So, my first motivational tip is to exercise with a friend.

Since we've moved to Wisconsin, I haven't found anybody on a similar schedule or motivation level to exercise with. I've tried various exercise routines on my own. When I just had one child, I think I wore out the wheels on my stroller with all of the walking we did...but that was difficult to maintain during winter, or when it rained, and to be honest, I wasn't very consistent with it.

At some point, I received the results of some blood work, and my total cholesterol was over 200. At that point, I decided I really needed to be proactive about exercising, so I joined a health club. I had two kids at the time, and there was free child care for them, and since they weren't going to preschool, it was nice for them to play with other kids while I spent 45 minutes working out. The incentive of "I'm paying for this membership" was helpful for my motivation, but what really got me going was this:DH's health insurance has a "Fitness First" deal in which the employee's spouse may earn a $50 gift card to Best Buy for working out 150 times in the span of a year. I don't know why this has been so motivating for me, but for the past two years, I've earned the gift card. It's not like it's a ton of money, but the challenge of getting all of those workouts in, and then getting free iTunes (which is how I used my gift card this last time) is a challenge that I accept and conquer. I keep track of which days I work out for at least 30 minutes, and I include the days I ride my bike home from school, or the days I run outside, or the days I run on the treadmill at the gym. It has resulted in two and a half years of maintaining my exercise regime, the longest I've ever been able to do that.

Ultimately, though, what it really comes down to is this: A decision/realization that the benefits of exercising exceed the benefits of *not* exercising. The more I've learned in my PT classes, the more I'm convinced of the importance of exercise.

Okay, so more on that in my next post, when I'll talk about some exercise myths, some of the multitude of benefits, how much is enough, "but I don't *enjoy* it," etc...

Until then, think about this: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being on the low end and 10 on the high end, how important is it for you to exercise regularly, or to begin exercising regularly?

If it's anything greater than 1, then consider why *didn't* you rate it as a 1, and think about the possibility that this may be something important enough to do.

Happy Spring!
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Child's Crew Neck Sweater

A pattern by YarnThrower
(This pattern is the property of YarnThrower and may not be reproduced except for one copy for individual use. If you otherwise print or distribute this pattern without YarnThrower's written permission, you are stealing.)

This is a basic child's crew neck sweater. The front, back, and sleeves are all knit separately so that the little knit stitch "vee" parts of the stripe stitches are all "right side up". (If it doesn't bother you to have cuff stripes with the little "vee" parts of the stitches "up side down", or if you will not be making the sweater with striped cuffs, then feel free to pick up the sleeve stitches from the shoulder and knit down to the cuff, reversing all of the shaping.) The shoulders are joined together with a three-needle bind-off.

The intarsia on the front of the sweater may be anything you'd like, or leave it plain. On the sweater pictured, I followed the ideas I learned here (scroll down to the bottom of the page). I did a web search on "Knitters Graph Paper" to find a site which prints customized graph paper. On that site, I input the exact gauge I was getting in my knitting, and I printed out the resulting graph paper. I then went to MS Word, found a font I liked, and printed out a really really big letter directly onto my graph paper. I would recommend printing the letter using a light color, such as yellow, so that the graph paper lines show through well. This results in an instant "chart" for making an intarsia letter on the front of the sweater.

Finished Size: This sweater, as shown, has a 31 inch (circumference) chest measurement.

Gedifra Shetland (80% Wool, 20% Alpaca) dark gray with flecks, 4 balls.
Gedifra Shetland (80% Wool, 20% Alpaca) off-white with flecks, 1 ball.

Straight or circular size 8 to hold body stitches.
16 inch circular size 8 for collar and top part of sleeves.
Double Pointed size 8 for lower part of sleeves.


Gauge: 4.5 stitches per inch


Cast on 70 stitches.

Working back and forth (in stockinette), purl 1 row, then knit 1 row, then purl 1 row.
This will curl the bottom edge just a little bit.

Then, work ribbing as follows:

Row 1: Using Main Color, *K2, P2* across to last two stitches, K2.
Row 2: Using Main Color, *P2, K2* across to last two stitches, P2.
Row 3: Using Contrast Color, Knit across row.
(This is done to avoid obvious "purl bumps" when the color is changed in the midst of ribbing.)
Row 4: Using Contrast Color, *P2, K2* across to last two stitches, P2.
Rows 5-6: Repeat Rows 1 and 2 (except using Contrast Color).
Row 7: Using Main Color, Knit across row.
Row 8: Using Main Color, *P2, K2* across to last two stitches, P2.
Row 9-10: Using Main Color, repeat Rows 1 and 2.
Rows 11-14: Repeat rows 3-6 using Constrast Color.
Row 15: Using Main Color, Knit across row.
Row 16: Using Main Color, *P2, K2* across to last two stitches, P2.
Row 17: Using Main Color, repeat Row 1.

Continuing with Main Color, Purl across next row.

Knit across next row, now working stockinette stitch until work measures 18 inches long (91 rows total stockinette). On last row, knit across 22 stitches and place those stitches on a holder. Bind off the next 26 stitches. Knit across remaining 22 stitches and place them on a holder.

[If an intarsia design is planned for the front, figure out where the design will be placed. (I planned my design on knitters' graph paper on a 1:1 scale with the actual gauge of my knitted fabric, and then held it up to the already finished back in order to decide at which row I would begin my intarsia.) For the sweater shown, the design (big A) was 30 stitches wide by 40 stitches high. The bottom of it was placed on the front of the sweater beginning with the 30th row of stockinette.]

Work the front the same as the back, except adding intarsia design as desired, and until 80 rows have been worked, ending with a wrong side row. Work measures approximately 2 inches shorter than back at this point.

Begin neck shaping.
Left front:
Knit 27 stitches and place the remaining stitches on holder. Turn work.
Bind off first 2 stitches and then purl across to end of row. Turn work.
Knit across. Turn work.
Bind off first 2 stitches and then purl across to end of row. Turn work.
Knit across. Turn work.
BO 1 stitch and then purl across to end or row. Turn work.
Work in stockinette until left front is the same length as back. Place these 22 shoulder stitches on stitch holder.
Repeat on Right front, reversing shaping to make it symmetrical to left front.

At this point, there should be 22 live stitches for each shoulder, and 16 live stitches remaining in the middle section.)

Attach front to back at both shoulders using three needle bind-offs with right sides together.

Neckline: Using main color, and beginning with stitch immediately to the left of the center back, pick up and knit 14 stitches in back, 10 on left side front, knit across 16 stitches in middle section of front, pick up and knit 10 stitches on right side, and pick up and knit 14 stitches in back to end up at center back.
Pattern Row: K1, *P2, K2* (repeat between ** until last three stitches), P2, K1, using colors as follows:
Rows 1 & 2: Work Pattern Row in MC
Row 3: Knit around in CC
Rows 4 & 5: Work Pattern Row in CC
Row 6: Knit around in MC
Rows 7 & 8: Work Pattern Row in MC
Then work three rows stockinette and bind off LOOSELY!

Sleeves: CO 36 stitches. Joining to work in round, work cuff same as given for lower ribbing.
In first round after ribbing is done, work Increase Row: K1, M1, knit to last two stitches of round, M1, K1.
Continuing in stockinette, increase every 4th row 6 times, then in every 5th row 10 times. (There should now be 68 stitches.) Continue until work measures 14 inches. Bind off. Make second sleeve the same.

Finishing: Sew front and back together beginning at lower edges and for about 10.5 inches. (There should be about 7.5 inches remaining on side edges for sleeve placement.) Sew in sleeves. Weave in all ends. Block.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vacation is hard work

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Happy St. Patrick's Day! DH made green pancakes for the boys this morning, and we're all wearing the green fleece hoodies I made for Christmas gifts (well, except for dh, because he had to work today -- somebody has to have income around here to keep this train on the tracks -- and so he is wearing a shirt and tie).

I finished my really warm bathrobe, just in time for the 70 degree weather predicted for today: (In addition to my other cleaning plans for this week, it's clear I should add mirror washing to the list.) I had so much extra fleece, and a bathrobe pattern I sewed years ago, so the only real cost for this was my time. I revised the pattern to take advantage of fleece's non-raveling properties. To eliminate bulk along the front shawl collar fronts, I sewed them wrong sides together, and then used a rotary cutter with a special cutting wheel in it to make the edges scalloped:( My photography today is worse than usual, because I'm in a hurry to get more of the basement cleaned out and then go running in the nice weather...) I used the same trick on the tie belt:And, here is a hazard of living with two small boys: My six year old loves to follow directions to piece things together, and he is confusing our upstairs hallway with the roof of a hospital. As long as I don't trip on it while carrying a laundry basket later today, it makes me smile every time I step over it...

After today's excitement of basement cleaning, I'm going to tackle our taxes tomorrow. You probably think I'm getting a little wild and crazy, but it IS spring break.....

I'm going for the record, and will also try to post again tomorrow (making it THREE days in a row). I've been thinking a lot about the topic of motivation lately, something important for PT's to consider as they prescribe exercises to patients, since lack of compliance to home exercise programs can be a problem... So, maybe a few blurbs about that tomorrow.

Have a great Tuesday!
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our 500th post!

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

WOW -- 500 posts? Since I feel like I post maybe once every two months, it doesn't seem possible. It is fun to look back over the past couple of years and recall different knitting projects from different times of our lives...

I'm on Spring Break! So far today, I sewed almost a whole bathrobe for myself (only hems and tie belt remain -- may finish this afternoon), pictures to follow tomorrow (yes -- brace yourself, but I'm going to try to post **two days in a row**), ran three miles, went to the hardware store, and started looking at the STATE OF THE HOUSE, which after months of neglect, is not good.

My, er, very exciting hardware store purchases:
Clear duct tape (which seems to be a contradiction all by itself): so that I may try to fix up the little plastic thing which our wheeled computer chair rolls on, which has multiple cracks. Not sure it's going to work, but I figured it's a cheap option to try first, before replacing the thing.

Super Glue: to fix one of the black bishops in my eight year old's chess set. I really don't know how these things get broken...

1/2" six-point socket having 1/4" mounting: My socket set, which I got free for opening a bank account 20 years ago, only went up to 3/8", but my son's bike seat thingy required something larger, and an adjustable wrench was clearly not going to work. So, I eye-balled the thingy, and then stood in front of all of the sockets at the hardware store for about five minutes. There are 6-point, 8-point, 12-point, metric, English, various mounting sizes, etc., so I grabbed one which looked like it might work, and I can't believe it myself, but IT FITS, not only the hardware thingy on the bike, but also the handle which I had. I wish knitting worked as well sometimes...

I also want to clean out the basement this week. Here's a "before" snap:Perhaps tomorrow? I'll have an "after" picture to share?

In the category of "How much of an idiot can I be?," here's the humidifier which leaked all over the basement floor, leading to a water depth on parts of the floor of about 1/4" to 1/2" before it was discovered, though since I'm a bit of a fanatic about not keeping things which I don't want to get wet on the floor, the damage wasn't too bad, except for some empty boxes, which I didn't mind putting out for recycling: When I changed the "pad" for the humidifier last fall, I noticed the drain tube (see clear tube exiting bottom of humidifier in photo) had a lot of lime deposits in it, so I disassembled the thing, cleaned it out really good, and put it all back together, feeling very proud of myself. What I *didn't* clean out was the hole just above where the tube attaches, at the very bottom of the humidifier unit, and that is what clogged up. AAUGH!

And, continued progress on my Basic Chic Hoodie:
I love the buttons! Here's a pocket:Just the rest of the left sleeve and the front bands (and the left pocket liner) left to go:
Well, lots more work around the house, so that's it for now. More tomorrow, I think...

Happy 500th!
Laura (YarnThrower)