Monday, May 31, 2010


Greetings and Dear Laura:

You're really cranking out projects!  I love the bags and the blanket - you're getting good production from your sewing jag. 

I'm not getting anywhere near the rate of finished objects, but I'm keeping at it.  I managed to get the top of the February Lady Sweater done, and so I've put the sleeves on holders, and that makes the rows shorter. Yay!


I'm also working on a sock project - the Norwegian Rose pattern from Wendy Johnson's new "Toe Up Socks for Every Body."  I'm enjoying this pattern - I'm doing it as a store model for Knitting Today, and therefore it will be up to me if I just want to do one sock for display, or do the second one and eventually get them back.  So far I'm leaning toward doing this one for the store to meet the deadline (August) but we'll see.


Last night, I was invited to my brother's house for a bonfire, and of course I wanted something to knit that was not a.) a big hot sweater on my lap or b.) a complicated colorwork project.  I grabbed a WIP that has been resting for a while, a pair of basic socks in a sport weight yarn. I've had these on the needles for AGES - and I've had the first sock done for some time. I pulled them out, and the toe of the second sock was done, I was ready to start the foot.  I had a lovely evening visiting around the fire, and spent a little time on them while I watched a baseball game this afternoon, and ta-da! I'm ready for the heel.  How could I have forgotten how quickly sport-weight socks knit up??


That's it for today - keep knitting! (Or sewing....)

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Silky Wool Seafoam Scarf

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

So my mom and one of her knitting friends came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. They wanted to go to some of the yarn shops in Madison, and they knew I'm their gal for that.... While we were at the Sow's Ear, each of us bought one hank of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, with plans to make the Silky Wool Seafoam Scarf (a store pattern) that was on display there.

Yesterday, I quickly grabbed it before getting into the van for the trip to attend my nephew's high school graduation... I probably spent four hours total knitting during the drive, and have this to show for it:
It is currently 20 inches long, which means I was knitting one inch per every twelve minutes, or five inches per hour (5 iph :-) ....or 0.275 inches per mile... (LOVE math!)
We're having a nice weekend. I cried at the graduation yesterday when they played "Ordinary Miracle" during the slide presentation...a reminder that miracles can be seen in the simple everyday things we take for granted and often ignore.

Tomorrow evening my awesome sister is going to arrive for a short overnight visit. We plan to go running early on Tuesday morning (before everybody else gets up, when it's not yet 90 degrees outside like it is right now!), and she offered to help me clean/organize my kitchen after my kids leave for school. (THAT is an AWESOME SISTER!) I am hoping that it will be just the thing I need to springboard myself into spring cleaning the rest of the house...though I have my doubts...

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Be safe!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, May 28, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled bag sewing...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Okay, so I've had two weeks to pull together a graduation gift for tomorrow, even had the materials on hand, and I waited until TONIGHT to crank it out. What is the matter with me?! If I show you this first picture, can you guess where the new HS graduate (one of my nephews) will be attending college?
My seven year old guessed that he would be going to "UNDergrad." Not bad for a seven year old...

So anyway, I'm making a pillow and blanket out of fleece, in University of North Dakota colors. I went to their web site and found the little UND logo thingy, so I swiped it, made it bigger, and printed it onto a piece of paper. I cut around the edges of the logo, resulting in what you see in the picture above. Then, to make the pillow front, I cut a big square of green fabric, pinned a piece of black fleece on the back side of it, and pinned the cut-out UND design backwards and centered on the piece of black fleece:
Next, I stitched around the edges of the paper cutout:
When you turn it over, it looks like this, not backward anymore:
Then, very carefully, and I mean VERY CAREFULLY, I cut out the green fabric which was inside the stitching lines using a duckbill scissors (shown in the photo below), because the right tool for the job makes all the difference:
I assembled the rest of the pillow (back panel splits and has a velcro closure, purchased pillow form) and made a double thickness blanket with fringe on two edges to match:
Please pay no attention to the basement stuff in the background of the photos...
Well, it's 10:30, but I have to get some laundry done before tomorrow so that my kids have some decent clean shorts to wear to the graduation...but here's a fun game... DH has been telling me that 6-word memoirs are becoming the rage. As an example, one he heard which he thought I might have written was "married late, two kids, always tired," though I can't take credit for it. This topic is going to surface in this blog again in the very near future, though if you have a 6-word memoir right now, I'd love to read it in the pressure...

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet Harmony

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I am still sewing like crazy (and *not* finishing/sewing sleeves into my big brown sweater, though in my defense, it's been about 90 degrees F here for the past couple of days, so finishing the big Two Hearts wool sweater has been "temperature prohibitive.") I made a sleeveless black dress for summer (well, actually I made it *twice*, which is a story all in itself to save for a day when I have a decent photo of me wearing it). And now I'm working on the Sweet Harmony Tote by Amy Butler. There are lots of fun details in this bag. There is piping which I had to make out of the lining fabric:
...and here is a pic of how the piping looks "installed" along the top of the outer pockets:
There is also a cell phone pocket, hidden from normal view by the outer pocket:
I'm at the point in which I'm assembling the main pieces together for the bag. This next pic gives you an idea of the shape of the completed bag:
It will be about 17" across the bottom... Then, there is a lining to put together which will have large zippered pockets which is just in pieces right now...

This bag is going to replace my backpack. Here is my trusty backpack, which was given to DH for free at a conference years ago, which might have taken from him, even though it had a lot of propaganda stitched into the front of it... I embellished it with a big "L" that he wouldn't even think about re-claiming it:
...and it has been with me since I started taking pre-requisites for grad school back in 2004... It started falling apart in the past couple of months. I've already patched it once, and now has another big hole. It is probably appropriate for it to start falling apart *now*, mimicking my own slightly wayward spiral just trying to crank through the last few weeks of core classes in April and with all of that out of the way now, onward -- a new bag for my re-entry back into "normal" life. (I think I spent the first week after classes got done just thinking about what I *should* be working on, until I figured out that I have no classes right now, so I *should* be knitting and/or watching TV :-)

Have a great Wednesday! I'm going to have a little lunch, and then get back to sewing :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Three hours

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Your hippos and bears are adorable!! ...though the hippo is my very favorite! And, wise to make the move away from sweaters and into something less time intensive for gifts for the kiddos in your life!! And, I totally affirm Lauren in making you do your own grafting... You go girl!

Look, actual knitting content:
I rotated the photo on my computer before uploading, but apparently something got messed up in the transfer/saving/whatever...but you get the idea that the heels of these two socks do not match. I noticed that a couple of the stripes are not the same number of rows from one sock to the next, and so even though I *counted* rows on the second sock to make it identical to the first sock, I'm going to rip back and add two additional rows before once again starting the, technically the second sock will be slightly longer than the first sock (which bugs me) but not as much as mis-matched heels is going to bug me. Do you think it is a conspiracy among the sock yarn manufacturers to throw in a "short" stripe every now and then just to play with a perfectionist's sanity?

I finished my "Birdie Sling," and I love carrying it around town:
The only issue, really, is that it's so big that I keep throwing stuff in there to take with me, and it just gets heavier and heavier... It *is* nice to take with me when I go shopping -- it's big and easy to throw new yarns and fabrics into it :-) It was handy when I purchased the materials for another bag (the Sweet Harmony Tote, which is another Amy Butler pattern, a little bit more involved than the Birdie Sling, except mine is going to be the jumbo size not shown in this picture):
In fact, I cut out all of the pieces this morning, and it took me three hours:
There are 57 pieces, by the time you take into account all of the (three) types of interfacing/stabilizers required... The next block of time is going to be spent fusing a lot of this stuff together...

And finally, if I was a person who bought lottery tickets, then today would be the right day to purchase one. Here is our dehumidifier, which doesn't:

I tried all of the trouble-shooting items listed in the back of the users manual (stupid things, like is it plugged in?, and do you have it turned on?), and though the fan runs (quite loudly, I might add), there was no water coming through the hose to the drain. So, I removed the hose to verify that there would be no accumulation in the water reservoir, either, and nope -- dry as a bone. So, I called the company, and it was purchased one year ago today, so today is the very *last* day of the one-year warranty (*phew*), and once approved (in 48 to 72 hours :-) we will be authorized to go to the place we purchased it and exchange it for a new model. Our basement is toxic to dehumidifiers; after this one is replaced, it will be the fifth one we've had down there in about as many years, and I think we've only paid for two of them... They can build a better mousetrap, but can they make a dehumidifier that can last more than one season?

So, time to have lunch and then maybe start working around the house a little bit... I've been spending all of my home cleaning/organizing time sewing, so I don't have much to show for my time off in terms of homemaking... Perhaps this afternoon...maybe...ugh.

I hope this finds you (all) having a great day!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Always Listen to Lauren

Greetings and Dear Laura:
What a great bag! You’ve chosen great fabrics - and it looks like a very useful size. Big enough for a beach towel, I’m thinking.
I have a cute little finished object to share. Well, I before we get to the hippo, maybe you’d like to see pictures of the bears that I made earlier this year. I decided that since so many of those adorable baby great-nieces and nephews that I used to make birthday sweaters have progressed to the (still adorable)kindergardener/preschooler stage that I no longer have time to make sweaters, and so this year we have moved to the ‘stuffed toy’ world. I love the patterns in the Itty-Bitty Toys book, so that is what I’m working from. LOVE Susan B. Anderson!
I scored a real stash victory when I decided to make the first Baby Bear. It calls for Noro sock yarn, and I knew I had some. A look at Ravelry showed me that I actually had the same color way that was used in the original!

I made two from that skein, and I have ALMOST enough for one more. Then I switched to a different color-way, and made one more.

I decided that I was all bear-ed out for awhile, so for my most current stuffed toy, I made the Hippo. This involved my nemesis - the dreaded Kitchener. The MOUTH is grafted - not the toe of a sock that will be hiding in a shoe. Not the foot of a Baby Bear - the MOUTH. Lauren offered to bring in the instructions that she found helpful, but I did what any sane person would do.
I offered her five bucks to do it for me.
She said no.
So I upped it to ten. (Note to knitters - it pays to hang around me when Kitchener is called for!)
She insisted that I must do it myself. (Hi Lauren! Thanks!) And I did! I buckled down and used her instructions, and it worked! BEAUTIFUL mouth on that hippo! (Of course, then you embroider over it, so no one really notices my lovely grafting......)

I was looking for a velvet ribbon to tie around it’s neck, but Lauren felt that it needed a scarf - and once again, she was correct!

So, always listen to Lauren. That’s what I say!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Birdie Sling in progress

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

So sorry to hear of your trouble sleeping! I've gone through stretches like that, and I know it can be very problematic and frustrating. You know how I feel about exercise, so I'm glad to hear that you're taking it up a notch on that. Hopefully that will help you sleep better? This past week, with no studying on my plate, I have been treating myself to one Capital Brewery "Island Wheat Ale" each night, and I have to say *that* has helped me with the falling to sleep thing, though I don't recommend having to rely on it... (I've been wanting to try it, because it is made with wheat grown in Door County, one of our favorite vacation spots...and it *is* yummy and relaxing :-)

I spent some time yesterday and today SEWING! I'm working on an Amy Butler pattern, called "Birdie Sling."
I think I spent three hours cutting out all of the pieces (three different prints of fabric plus fusible woven interfacing to apply to the back of each piece) and then fusing the interfacing to the many and various pieces. LOTS O'PIECES:
Nice pockets sewn onto the linings:
Pretty plackets on the outside of the bag, now ready to have the top bands attached:
With all of the cutting/fusing done, things are going much faster. I think that the sewing is always the most fun part :-)

I know you are wondering about the sewing of the sleeves into my Two Hearts sweater... Well, you know how I am about the finishing -- taking my time on it, because I backtrack if it isn't perfect, and right now I've set it aside because of the fun bag (see above)...but I've made a commitment to myself to have the big brown sweater *done* by the time I'm back in classes in a couple of weeks.

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Welcome back!

I think I'll come back too! I've missed hearing from you. I don't even have a good reason like classes for my lack of posting - just general busyness. Lauren and I were just discussing our need to post, and had some topic ideas and here you are - staying ahead!

I'm so excited for you that you've gotten so far and I'm excited to hear how your business plan and the contest work out.

Your sweater is really coming along! MAYBE you'll get to store it away. Around here it's damp and chilly enough that you could probably still wear it!

I'm working on a February Lady sweater - several of us are doing a knit along, altho we're taking our time with it. I just posted an update to the blog that we're using to track our progress, and you can also see the details there. It's been a very long time since I knitted a sweater for myself, and I'm anxious to finish it - although even with the dreary weather, I'm not in any rush. Fall will be soon enough.

I've really be struggling with sleeping lately - I rarely wake up once I fall asleep, but I have a very hard time falling asleep. Functioning on 4-5 hours of sleep is no fun, as I'm sure you know! In an effort to better manage my stress and improve my health, I just joined the YMCA in our community. (My doctor has be 'encouraging' me to exercise!) At first I just stressed about where I would find the time - it was going to have to come in place of knitting or sleeping, and I really LIKE both of those things. However, since the sleep thing isn't so much working out, I decided to suck it up and do it. I'm starting out with a water aerobics class - that's at least something I like! I think it's a great starting point. That is two nights a week; I need to find an activity there for at least one more night per week. Once I'm past my initial adjustment, then I'll look for more activities to further increase my time.

Well, better get back at it - I'm anxious to hear more about how you're doing!

Keep knitting!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)
-- Post From My iPhone

FInished object...

...but not knitting....

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I finished sewing an oversized sweatshirt today. I actually wore it yesterday without the sleeves hemmed, but today decided that I had to go the distance and finish it completely (which took me about five minutes), so I have something to cross off of my list:
It has a pocket on each sleeve (one of them having velcro at the top) which will be perfect to hold my phone and iPod.

In other news, I watched the season finale of Castle last night. Do you watch that show? It is the *only* show that I am religious about watching, and I'm not sure what about it "grabs" me, but I think it's cute and fun.

My kids get home from school early today ("early release"), and the weather is glorious, so I think we'll all spend the afternoon outside (they can play ball while I pull weeds -- though I suppose I should change out of my new white sweatshirt first)...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I am a SPT-3

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Remember me? I finished my core PT classes, and have only six weeks of classes this summer, sort of a hodge podge of stuff we haven't covered in classes yet, but which, apparently, is critical going forward...and then clinicals for 30 more weeks after that. I can't believe I am at this point! I'm thankful that I'm here! This adventure has had "God's fingerprints" all over it, judging by the way so many things and people just fell into place at appropriate times. Truly, I am thankful. And my family and I are all feeling the effects of a significant reduction in my stress level. Big, happy sigh!

Knitting?? Well, ahem, still working on the Two Hearts sweater. It is off the needles, and I am sewing in the first sleeve:
As you can see, my photography still stinks. Just wanted to give you the gist of where I am on the sweater...More details/modifications when I post (better) photos of it when it is finished and I am wearing it :-)

With no classes for the next three weeks, and kids still in school, it is *possible* that I will be able to:
1.) Finish this sweater (to be able to store it all summer, until it is really needed in fall...)
2.) Give some attention to some housekeeping around here -- I'm the only one in the house bothered by the thick layer of dust (which fortunately has been tempered by several flat surfaces being protected by transient textbooks lying on top of them)...
3.) Finish cleaning the basement -- I actually made progress on this during this past semester by putting away one item each day for a few weeks, though I think one hour more of concentrated effort will "seal the deal.", there was a "green" day in our small town which allowed me to get rid of some (still usable) fixtures which we changed out a few years ago but hadn't yet discarded.

There is also the small matter of a graduation gift I want to make for my nephew, as well as a really fun bag pattern to my three weeks will go quickly, though I'll try to keep you posted as I go.

Also, I have kept up with my blog reading, and enjoy being able to keep track of what my knit blog friends are doing, in knitting and otherwise!

Keeping it short(er) for today, though there is much to tell about things happening here... I have a business partner and we wrote up an essay/entered a contest for an original PT business idea, which we are actually planning to implement within the next year and a half regardless of how we do in the contest...

And my kids continue to fill me with joy and slight exasperation at the same time...

More soon, I promise! It's been almost four months since my last post, and I've missed you!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)