Thursday, May 31, 2007

Finally.........A sock

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,I love the finished product, though it has taken its toll. Trying to work the cables and the K2tog's on size one needles strains my left arm, so much so that I could feel it still a couple of hours after I stopped knitting last night. And so, I may cast on for the second sock (I've heard that second sock syndrome can be avoided by immediately casting on for the second sock after the first sock has been completed), though I'll have to really limit myself to only a couple of rows per day....Or, I might just cast on another, much easier, pair of socks on size two needles..... This is probably the most complicated sock I've ever made; it was certainly the most straining....though I know it is nothing compared to what I see on many other blogs out there.....It's very comfy, and I will be so happy to have a new pair of socks for when the weather starts getting colder (assuming I get the second sock completed by then). I knew there was a reason that Fall is my very favorite season!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday is sewing AND knitting day.....

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Well, we got our van back on Friday, and they weren't able to pinpoint what has been causing it to stall, so we're in a holding pattern with it. They checked the obvious possibilities, then said that it would be a lot cheaper to drive it around until it gets a lot worse (so that the problem is more obvious) than it would be to keep looking for a needle in a that's what we're doing. If nothing else, I have peace of mind that a part isn't going to fall off of it in the middle of traffic..... (though, I probably shouldn't have "said" that "out loud"...).

Anyway, since I last wrote, I finished my nephew's sweater (at last Saturday knitting with Baxterknits, Elizabeth, and Linda -- such a nice and talented bunch of knitters). Well, it is finished **except** for the finishing (just like two or three other projects I have sitting around here -- one of these days, I going to have a "finishing frenzy" and force myself to get those things done, though I don't seem to be in any hurry.....). Once it is finished and blocked, I'll show a final photo of it being worm by one of my kids, and then we won't have to talk about it any more.

I've also made a lot of progress on my Supernova pullover. Here's the front (or the back -- doesn't matter, because they are the same) with side shaping added (pattern calls for straight -- I shaped it per directions in the Perfect Sweater pattern on the Mason-Dixon website): Circles are going to be sewn into the indentations at the top. I was knitting it mostly in the car (no internet access), and found one error in the pattern for the circles, which I figured out, so I was able to keep going. (Sometimes, the difference between "P2" and "P1" is really noticeable...) Also, the pattern schematic says the circles are to be just over 4 inches diameter....and seriously, that just can't be right. That would mean that the distance from the outside edge of my right shoulder to the outside edge of my left shoulder would have to be only 12 inches. I'm thinking it should be more like 6 inches diameter per circle. Upon checking for pattern corrections on the Interweave Knits page, I found that it lists the first error I found, but doesn't list the dimensions as being erroneous, so I sent them an e-mail and I should hear back within "two to three business days" or something like that..... Regardless, my first circle was coming out to be way bigger than 6 inches, so I switched to smaller needles and tried again. Now, at 6 inches diameter, I think it's going to be too small... I'm going to try again with the larger needles, **after** I hear from Interweave.....

Anyway, since Tuesday is sewing day, I worked on my valences. I only got four panels done, but here they are, shown "installed: I decided on 7 panels for each window. I was going to make only 5 panels, slightly wider, but because I'm making these from existing valences, my fabric wasn't the right dimension to cut to a larger size..... I'll talk more about these, maybe next Tuesday. For summer, I can have the lighter sides showing as more dominant; for winter, I can change them around so that the darker sides are more dominant, though really, not sure I'll actually get around to switching them around..... I'll show a before and after shot next Tuesday, too, if I can get one window completed by then.

Well, already lunch time. I went to the gym this morning. Then, my 4 year old and I went to the veggie market, then the grocery store, then I showered, I'm posting to the blog, and now its already lunch time. I really don't know how you folks who have full time jobs are able to get everything done!

More soon!
Warm regards (and I do mean "warm" -- hot and humid here today, though so far, we've kept ourselves from turning on the air conditioner)
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Finished Object!

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

In a few minutes I am going to leave to participate in "last Saturday knitting", which has been moved to 2:00pm on the last Saturday of each month, so I have only a little bit a time to quickly post some photos of the finished vest for my niece. (Sorry it's not knitting, but it IS something I finished, which we haven't seen much of lately, steps....)

Anyway, I decided that just pinking the edges like I showed you yesterday looked pretty sloppy, so I added a "wrapped edge - the cheater's way" per the directions in Nancy's book. So very, very easy, and I'm soooo much happier with the finished product. Here's the front:...and the back:...and the reverse side:Well, gotta run! It's quite chilly today, so a perfect day for meeting some knitting friends!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Following directions, or not...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

It's amazing how much knitting can be accomplished on a bus ride or two:For full disclosure, I did work a few rows after I got home, too. (It's the start of a Supernova sweater, from the fall 2006 issue of Interweave Knits.) My four year old's preschool this fall is about six miles away from our house, and he and I will be riding the city bus to deliver him there in the morning and to bring him home at lunch time three times a week, so I'm already thinking about how much stash yarn I'll be able to knit through just on the bus alone.

This morning, my little guy and I walked to the post office. Once home, I started working on a reversible vest for a birthday gift. As it turns out, similar to how I can't knit a sweater without changing the pattern, I can no longer sew a pattern without revising it somehow, too. For this pattern, the changes were significant. I bought a simple, unlined, vest pattern. I decided I wanted it to be reversible, and also incorporate some techniques from Nancy Cornwell's book, More Polar Magic, such as stitching the layers together with **wrong sides** together: After that, trimming the edges carefully (key word: "carefully") with a pinking shears. That way, there's much less bulk around the edges, and it's just sort of a funky finish. I also added some reverse appliques ala' Nancy's book. Here it is after trimming with the pinking shears and with a couple of the appliques sewn and cut out: I'm going to add a few more of the reverse appliques. To do it again, I'd make the collar on the purple side match, though I think it looks okay with the contrast, too. And, here's the reverse side:
Were you able to spot the four year old in that photo?

Anyway, reading Nancy's books and attending her seminars has changed the way I sew with fleece. She is sort of the Elizabeth Zimmermann of fleece, and she has fabulous ideas, so if you enjoy sewing with fleece, I highly recommend her books.

Finally, I just want to say that your comments about wanting to be a mom, and how it's okay to want to be "just" a mom, made me cry. That's what I wanted for myself since I was a little girl, too. Mostly, to be just like my mom.

My mom put off going to school to pursue her "dream" of being a nurse until her three kids were all in school, and I don't know how she managed to get through school while taking care of all of us seamlessly (especially since, I have to say, we really weren't much help to her around the house or otherwise), but she somehow got it all done. When I was lamenting to her one day that it might be too hard on me or my family to continue with my schooling right now, she said, "Well, I did it!" Anyway, I still think her real passion was caring for all of us, even when she was working as a nurse, though I'm so glad that she pursued her own dream, too. What a great example for us kids.

In any case, it was very affirming to "hear" you say what you did, so thank you!!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What happened next....


Well, when last I posted, I had caught up to the weekend, so we'll pick up from there.

On Saturday mornings, I like to go out for breakfast. (Well, all the other mornings too....but especially Saturday!) Fairly often I stop by my youngest brother's house and "pick a kid" to go along. This time, it didn't look like anyone was home, but I thought I'd give it a shot. I went in and yelled, "Hello, anyone home??" Silence. Called up the stairs, "Hello?? Anyone here??" Nothing "Anyone want to go to McDonalds?" BANG!!! The sound of a 10-year-old girl leaping out of bed and racing down the stairs! "Hmmm, you'll want to maybe get dressed??????"

After breakfast, we drove to the hospital to see if we could visit her mom and new baby sister. Turns out they had just fallen asleep for only the second time in 2 days, so we did not accomplish that! Then she needed to be driven to softball, and supervised during the cleaning of her room and other chores. Turns out you can get quite a bit of a sock cuff done while waiting for softball pictures and reminding someone to put in another load of laundry!

Before I started knitting on Sunday, I got out my bead stash and made some stitch markers.
Knitting at Lunch had asked me to make some for purchase! The difference between a yarn stash and a bead stash is that you can spend a chunk of money on beads, yet still store them (with tools) in a shoe box!

Here is a small sample - sorry, camera quality has not yet reached priority in the budget. It was fun tho, and I'm glad I spent some time on it. I also have some for myself and some gifts. (Hmm, maybe we'll need to have a contest - I have prizes all ready!!)

Sunday knitting was devoted to my blanket project. Tragically, the Cardinal's games were against Detroit, and that is one of the FOUR cities we are blacked out of, so I was not able to watch any baseball while knitting. (Since we lost all three games, it was not as tragic a thing as it could have been.) I finished 4 rows and then decided to measure and calculate the remainder. Laura, you will be so proud! I used your formula of: x=number of rows per inch y=number of inches needed z=number of days left so that: y times x divided by z equals number of rows to knit per day. The answer is: 8! So, I knitted 8 more rows so that Sunday's knitting was complete.

Monday I did not knit on the blanket, so I am behind 8 rows. (Tuesday I knit 10 rows, so I made up a little bit...)

Since the blanket is pretty bulky, I have been knitting on my socks at lunch. On Monday, I finished the cuff and began the heel. Now, I don't know WHY I think I like short row heels, but I do. I have not yet knit a short-row heel without ripping it back at least 4 times, but I do not let that interfere with my perceived love of short-row heels. I think that it's because I learned to knit backwards, and that is SO handy for short-rows. This time I decided to try the "Japanese Short-Row Heels." I ended up on the directions at the Blue Blog. I sat at my desk during lunch with the directions on the computer screen, and got almost 1/2 way done with the heel.

On Tuesday, I decided to "wing it" since it was going so well, and knitted in the conference room with Lauren. Ended up ripping it twice during that lunch hour, and gave up and put in a life-line and returned to the wrapped short-rows. But I love short-row heels, yes I do!!!

The sock is in "time-out" for being bad. Bad, BAD sock!!

So for a portable project, I dug out a ball of Lorna's Laces that has resisted any of the project ideas I've suggested to it so far, and I'm trying to make a pair of fingerless mitts by adapting the
Jaywalker Sock pattern. We'll see. It is the second most obstinate yarn I've ever chosen. (And the MOST obstinate is now taking up space in someone else's stash - just a little warning there...)

And finally, I've been tagged on like 3 meme's so I'll put one here. From
The Rebellious Pastor's Wife....

Here it is.... "What did you want to be when you were 5, 10, 15, and 20?


Age 5 - a mommy. That's what my mom was, so that's what I would be!

Age 10 - a mom. PLUS maybe a detective. (I'd discovered Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.) Possibly a nurse. (Sue Barton and Cherry Ames.)

Age 15 - teacher at a deaf school. (I was at summer camp the same week as a group of younger deaf students and I really enjoyed interacting with them and figuring out how to communicate.)

Age 20 - a mom. Hello - that's what my mom was! (While my father often pointed out the opportunities that the Equal Rights Amendment opened up for me, he also really appreciated and honored my mother’s job in our family. The fact that he went to work every day and brought home a paycheck was no more important than what she did with that check, and how she cared for all of us.) I didn't really want a career, just a job until the husband and babies came along. Which is probably a good part of the reason that I've had various "jobs" over the past 25 years, but never a specific "career path." Well, that plus my tendancy to "reinvent myself" every 7-10 years. I've worked in the auto-manufacturing industry, the church and now the insurance industry. I'm past the age for kids, but if that future-husband-who-supports-me-while-I-knit is reading this.......

Reminds me of a conversation I had with 2 of my now-grown-nieces when they were about 10.

“Aunt Cynthia, when you were our age, what did you want to be when you grew up?”
“A mom.”
“Yes, but what did you want to BE?”
“A mom.”
“I know, but besides that, what did you want to DO???”
“A mom.”

It made me sad that while we’ve opened the world to little girls to imagine and be whatever they want, we forgot to tell them that “just” being a mom is one of those choices, and a wonderful one at that. I'm proud that both of those little girls have an education, and have worked in their fields. Both are now “moms,” one works part-time, and one stays at home. I’m glad that they while they chose something to “be,” they got to be moms as well!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Knitting my third sleeve...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Well, since it seems like I've been knitting on one striped sleeve or another FOREVER, I decided to figure out what has more stitches: A sleeve, or a hood?
This is something I did NOT figure out very precisely, so it includes no allowances for hood shaping, nor for the ten or so rows in which I wasn't decreasing on the sleeve, so the numbers have a small amount of error built in. (Sorry Jennifer...)

I calculated the hood stitches by multiplying number of rows times number of stitches per row (in the main section of the hood, after all shaping in the neck area was done), and the hood has roughly 9765 stitches in it.

I calculated the sleeve stitches by treating each of them as a trapezoid, so multiplied the number of rows by one half the sum of (the number of stitches at the top of the sleeve plus the number of stitches at the bottom of the sleeve), and so each sleeve has roughly 7320 stitches. This number is LESS THAN the number of stitches in a hood, which surprised me. I mean, I know there are a lot of stitches in the hood, because it took me longer than I thought it would to knit the hood. However, it didn't occur to me that there would be MORE STITCHES THAN IN A SLEEVE!!!!!!

And so, my world now has one fewer mysteries in it, and I am fully aware of why it "feels" to me like I've been knitting sleeves for A LONGER AMOUNT OF TIME THAN THIS SHOULD BE TAKING!! Sorry for the shouting. Please give me a break! I'm on my third striped sleeve, here! Anyway, I'm about a third of the way to the end of this sleeve, and then I'm not going to knit any more on this sweater. I'll just have to weave in the ends, block it, and rejoice that I (hopefully) finished it prior to its deadline in early July.

In other news, I've been stalking my mailbox for the past two weeks, and have just received the summer issue of Cast On. I'm never really in love with the Spring and Summer knitting magazines, and this one is no exception.

Finally, our van has been dying on me, but not all the time, just maybe 8 percent of the time, though so far I've been able to get it started again, so we're taking it to be looked at on Friday, to try to figure out what is going on. The man at the fix-it place said the hardest part might be to get it to malfunction so that they can see what's actually happening. Well, it malfunctions just fine when I am at a stop light in two lanes of traffic with a string of cars behind me. Anyway, of course we have plans to go on a little trip on Monday, so anybody want to place bets on whether or not the van will be fixed by Friday at the end of the day? We're going to celebrate my niece's 11th birthday, so by then I'll try to turn this fleece:
into a cute little reversible vest. I learned how to make it at a class I took at the Sewing Expo two weeks ago, and I'm anxious to try it out. My four year old picked out the fabrics. I think he did a great job. I'll let you know if I can figure it out.....

In any case, with the van a little bit, er, unreliable right now, I might be taking the bus for a few days (which I should really try to do more often, anyway), which means I have to line up some really portable knitting. The sweater shown in this post is just becoming too big to cart around on the bus, and the sock I'm working on is a bit intense, requiring a cable needle in addition to the four double pointed needles I'm always dropping, so there is a chance I'll be starting a new sweater in the next day or two. I think I have it narrowed down to either this (with added side shaping, revised gauge, revised sleeves, made out of yarn I'm going to recycle from a sweater I made 20 years ago) or this (with neckline revised, possible waist shaping added, made out of some nice Cascade 220 in my stash). Any thoughts on either one of these?

I'm trying to think of seven (for one meme) or eight (for another meme) things about myself, and when I do, I'll post the results. Hmmm.... I think I've already mentioned that my cooking is "adequate" (though last night I made the fishiest fish I've ever had -- is it my fault, or the fish's?). I'll try to come up with something more in line with the spirit of the memes in the next few days..... These things take time, you know.....

More soon!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Preface to a Tuesday Sewing Day

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I am so sad that Cass Street Depot, the only yarn store in Fort Wayne, is now closed. It is where I learned how to knit color using two hands. It is where I started using needles smaller than size 8, by choice! It is where I bought the supplies to knit my first baby his little red jacket and his blanket having moons and stars all over it. Where are people going to go for classes to learn some nice, complicated knitting? I'm doing what I can over here to keep the local places going, though I can only stash so much, and the bottleneck is clearly my hands/knitting needles, and NOT my lack of supplies..... sad!

I'm knitting today, but because it's Tuesday (sewing day), I'm giving myself the liberty of talking about something other than knitting. Here is a window -- the "before" picture, which you've probably seen before:I fixed the honeycomb shade a few weeks ago, so now it hangs level and goes up and down nicely, as a shade should do...

I removed and washed the valences. They are waiting to be sewn into something new, something better (or at least humor me on that when you see the new ones finished). The new valences will require a valence rod, so I put one of those up on each window (two windows total). I measured the location of the valence from the top of the ceiling. Of course, the windows are not both the same distance from the ceiling. I'm just dealing with it by making sure the distance from the valence top to the ceiling will be roughly the same in each case. I put marks to indicate where to drill the holes. I drilled the first three holes. I didn't drill into any wood behind the wall board, which means I will have to use wall anchors. I only had three wall anchors. So, like most projects require, I went to the hardware store to get more. I decided that two holes on each side of the window will be sufficient to hold up some lightweight valences (three seemed like overkill). They are a little bit higher than the top of the window, which I've found to be an effective way to make the window look taller, more dramatic. And so, now I'm ready to hang the new valences, whenever I get them done. My goal is to have them up by next Tuesday.....

We're having a nice and easy day today. We don't have too much going on, and it's just good to have a slower day. It just feels like we've been really busy lately, though I don't have much to show for it. I'm actually "enjoying" (term used loosely) getting caught up on some things around the house, and my kitchen counter is cleared. (Now the trick is to keep it that way.) It's beautiful weather outside, so I have the doors open and am enjoying hearing the sounds of things outside.

I hope this finds you having a good day, too!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Blogger Overload!!!

Hello all....

Sometimes I don't blog because there isn't much going on. Othertimes there is so MUCH going on that I don't know where to start. Such was the last week.......

May 12th was the Fort Wayne Fiber Festival.
The Rebellious Pastor's Wife and I volunteered to teach kids to knit, so we manned the knitting demo table on Saturday. We didn't actually have any students, but we enjoyed our knitting and the other fiber activities around. I actually got to try my hand at spinning with a "walking wheel!" My great-grandmother used one - my aunt has had it in her living room as long as I can remember, but she doesn't know how to use it. I was always curious about how that would work. Here's a shot of the inside of the barn where we were.

Monday evening, I took a class taught by
Fiona Ellis called "Morphing Cables." It was WONDERFUL. Blew my brain apart a little, and of course added several project ideas to my "I want to knit" list, but that's a good thing! I especially loved the shawl that she brought. Besides the cable work, it was an interesting shape, and stays in place really well. It's two rectangle sewn to be a triangular shawl. The pattern is in her book "Inspired Cable Knits." Gotta make one!!

Wednesday evening, I made my final trip to Cass Street Depot with
Not Worthy. (Moment of silence.) I picked up another skein for a baby blanket, a few Baby Ull and a Cascade 220 in hot pink for some other baby projects, and then I was done. They were open through Saturday, and were going to have deeper discounts the last day, but I had spent all I could spare. (Plus some I couldn't, ha!)

Thursday was an exciting day! My new niece, Missy, arrived at 6:02 pm. She's a petite 7 lbs 4 oz, and has quite a set of lungs, which she exercises vigorously. She has a head of light brown hair, and pretty blue eyes. I got to hold her when she was just 90 minutes fresh! (Nothing beats holding a fresh baby!)

Of course, I still had 2 hours of work to complete her sweater, but I finished putting it together on Friday evening, so she is set for now in the sweater department.

On my way home, I stopped to visit my great-niece who recently turned one and got a picture of her "surprise jacket." Her mom says that it fits great and is just perfect for cool spring days.

Whew. That at least gets me to this past weekend!!

Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka DesignatedKnitter!)

Friday, May 18, 2007

What's missing?

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

What's missing in this photo?I (finally) finished the first sleeve on the sweater for my godson / nephew. It's maybe a little bit long, though one inch shorter than the "standard" dimensions I was following. In any case, I think it looks just fine turned up. It is being shown here on an almost seven year old. The intended recipient is almost five, and I have one of those at my house, too, but he is much less cooperative in the "trying on of unfinished knitting" department, so my almost seven year old had to be my model. (From the look on is face, I'm not sure he was thrilled by this, either.) I wanted a sweater my nephew could grow into, so I think this will work. Now my almost seven year old wants one just like it, though I'll be done with stripes for a while after this is finished. The yarn, Patons Classic Wool Merino, is very soft, and it was in my stash, so all the better.

Now a comment about working on a pair of socks and the sleeves of a sweater during the same time frame. There are generally two sleeves on a sweater, and two socks in a pair. I'm growing weary right now of both the sleeves and the socks, and I fear that I might delve into my stash and cast on something new very soon. Of course, at some point I'm going to have to actually sew together the knitted pieces I have laying around here, also, to actually have some finished objects..... It always gets done.....e.v.e.n.t.u.a.l.l.y......but my KADD (knitting attention deficit disorder) is at an all time high right now.

Well, I'd better get rolling here again. My six year old has a piano recital tonight, and I'm going to bake some cookies to take along for the reception afterwards. I think that I am always much more nervous about these recitals than he is.

I'll end with a meme. I was tagged by Yarngineer. The idea of the thing is that you make statements which always begin with the words "I am"... So, here goes, in no particular order:

  • I am... a mom, and there are many people who know me only as my sons' mom, though this doesn't bother me at all.
  • I am... on the shorter side, and can only rarely find pants in my size that I don't have to alter.
  • I am... not a big shopper, primarily going to stores only when there are things there I need/want.
  • I am... a good saver.
  • I am... a student and I really like going to school.
  • I am... a knitter; my dh thinks I might be obsessed.
  • I am... a sewer and occasional quilter, and really struggle to actually pay for ready-made clothes which I know I could easily make, though I often don't get around to making said clothes.
  • I am... always looking for ways to be less wasteful, because I feel I've been richly blessed in many ways, though feel obligated to be a good steward of these gifts.
  • I am... a pianist and percussionist, and play with the Madison Marimba Quartet.
  • I am... an adequate cook, though it is not my favorite thing to do, especially the part about cleaning up afterward.
  • I am... 42 years old.
  • I am... content, which is not something I really realized until the past few years, though it has helped me to enjoy the "journey" more than only looking foward to "destinations", though I am still very "goal-oriented", too.
  • I am... ready for lunch, and so is my four year old, so I'd better run.

I tag "YOU" -- That is, you, Cynthia, and anybody else who might be reading and who would like to participate. Let me know if you decide to do this so that I may check out your blog, too, or feel free to leave it in the comments!

Have a great weekend!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More Details...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Well, I've made more progress on the sock:I'm doing the gusset decreases every other row now, and though I'm really liking the pattern and have progressed to the part which doesn't require quite as much thinking, I must say that it is more tedious than most socks which I knit. For one thing, I generally use size 2 needles, and these are on size one. For another thing, there is a fair amount of switching from knit to purl to knit to purl, etc., and some cable crossings, and on these tiny needles I'm getting some muscle soreness. So, I'll finish these socks, but probably won't use the same pattern again for a while. It is by Blackberry Ridge, one of the "Elite Feet" patterns (#1 The Traveling Companion). Really, I do like it. My hands, however, are rebelling.

The yarn is also by Blackberry Ridge, Mer-Made, in the variegated pink colorway, fingering weight, and is 100% washable merino. I would not hesitate to purchase it again! They have nice solids and hand painted varieties. When I purchased the yarn, they threw in some nylon thread to carry along with the yarn for the knitting of the heel flap, the turning of the heel, and the toes. (This nylon thread is pictured in the photo above, on the little white bobbin...) The detail work of the pattern stitches shows up adequately in real life (though difficult to see in the photo), though I think I'd use a solid if I made the pattern again...

Yesterday was Tuesday, "sewing day", and my sewing consisted of mending some clothes, so not overly exciting, but cleared some more items out of my sewing/work area, none the less.....

In other excitement, I bought a new pair of shoes today!How pathetic am I when part of my decision involves determining how my hand knit socks will look if I wear them with the new shoes? These are "Trello" (as in "Hello Trello") by Lands End (which has its headquarters in Wisconsin), and so far I really like them. They are antibacterial, and may be hosed down. They just sounded really practical for summer (without socks) and also useable in fall (with socks!!).

My six year old had an "early release" today, which means he is already home from school. Fortunately, it is a glorious day in terms of weather, so we'll be going outside in a little while!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Embellisher

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I introduce you to the Embellisher, a needle felting machine made by BabyLock. I met this machine this past Saturday. Every year, my mom and I traipse up to Beaver Dam for the Sewing Expo at Nancy's Notions. (Perhaps you are familiar with her PBS sewing show, "Sewing With Nancy"?) My mom and I took a class to learn how to make a fiber arts bag. Here is my variation of the thing:
Each student's bag was completely unique. Some were embellished so that none of the background fabric showed. Mine was more geometric (surprised? Probably not....). All of them looked nice. The Embellisher, which DOES plug into the power outlet, DOES NOT have thread, nor a bobbin, just seven needles which go up and down very quickly and which are operated by a foot pedal. The technique is to basically take some sort of fabric, yarn, roving, whatever, and place it atop a background fabric. Then, this assembly is moved underneath the needles which "punch" the embellishment into place, locking it quite securely to the background fabric. Really, it was pretty fun, though I thought it was difficult to visualize what my final product was going to look like. I finally had to just "let go" as I started just shoving things under the punching needles to see what happened. Really, I like the bag. It is just the sort of thing I wear around my neck in summer, too, as I take the boys around to parks -- it is perfect to hold just a couple of dollars, my cell phone, and some lip balm...

At the end of the class, they drew names for a door prize, and I won! It was this book! One of the "helpers" in the room immediately suggested that I "needed" to buy one of the Embellisher machines in order to best make use of the book, but I resisted. First, no place to put it. Second, not sure how much I'd even use it. Third, when I want to needle felt, I just use one needle at a time and my own hands to raise and lower it as I "stick" the fibers where I want them to go. Fourth, for $348, or something close to that, I could buy a lot of yarn or fabric or school books which I'd probably get much better use out of. Fun to try, none the less.

I also attended a class about using polar fleece, and the teacher in that class has devised a way to create "yarn" out of it, showing us a scarf knit from polar fleece yarn. I might have to try that with my (many) polar fleece scraps which are too small for anything else... All in all, a great day, and so fun to spend it with my mom.

I've been very busy lately, though I can't really figure out what I even have to show for it. I think the initial "planting" of the garden has been sucking away some knitting time. Also, there are all of the "end of the school year" events which have strained our schedule, too. I did knit the heel flap on one of my socks -- not exactly earth shaking, I know. The socks have become my travelling companion, because the sweaters I have to work on are all too large to be lugging around in the warmer weather we have now...

Happy belated Mothers' Day to any mothers reading this. My mom really liked the Branching Out scarf (which I now reveal to you that I was making for her, but she is an occasional reader of this blog, so I didn't want to completely spoil the surprise...). I had a really nice day, and I hope that others did, too!

Let's see, anything else to share? It seems like its been a while since I last posted. I'm in a bit of a knitting slump, I think because things just seem to be so "out of control busy" lately....things more pressing than even **gasp** knitting... I imagine I'm not alone in this..... I'm confident that this, too, will pass.....

In any case, warm regards!
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Always fun....


Well, we are still anxiously awaiting the appearance of my niece. The official due date is May 15th, although her parents have always thought that was a little early. The doctor is starting to be convinced, because my sil is not showing signs of being within a few days of delivery. (Of course, she'll pick her own time to come and not care what either the doctor or her parents think!)

Since determining that the lady bug sweater is going to be more of a size 2T than 12 months, I'm taking a quick "crochet break" to have a little cotton sweater to give to her when she's born.

It's been kind of fun, doing something so different. It was funny to discover that while in knitting, I usually need to go DOWN a needle size to get gauge, in crochet I need to go UP a hook size! What's that about???
It was neat when turning from the chain row to the first row, and "seeing" my grandmother's hands over mine, showing me which stitch to start in. And remembering doing similar projects for the first three of my nieces and nephews, because they were born before I became a knitter.
I always remember crocheting a yellow sweater while waiting beside the phone to hear that the very first one, Drew, had been born. Oh memory lane!! Twenty-five years later, I'm crocheting a white & yellow sweater and waiting for Missy!

Just a funny note - about 6 weeks ago I switched satellite companies. I'd been happy until late last week when the local channels began breaking up, and finally quit altogether. It took me awhile to call, but today was the scheduled service call, thinking that the wind from last week had messed up the alignment. My parents are home for a quick trip, so I didn't have to leave work. My mother e-mailed me the following note:
"The TV is fixed and working fine. The problem was that when they installed the dish, the tree was bare naked. Now it has leaves! I think Ned said he had to put it on the roof."

That was my chuckle for the day!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Time is fleeting....


Well, I made another trek to Cass Street Depot today. Judy and Lauren and I made did a lunch-run - possibly our last.

Lauren had gone yesterday and picked up some Lambs Pride Bulky and Cascade 220. She decided to pick up another of the Cascade 220 to be sure she had enough.

Judy was looking for some Lambs Pride Bulky and a trim yarn for a cute sweater for her grand-daughter. She also picked up the needles she'll need....

I....let's say that I resisted more than I did not. I picked up some stitch markers and 3 balls of a superwash worsted weight in white. My friend of the blog "Not Worthy" used this yarn to make a baby blanket for her Godson. His mother was quite excited about the "superwash" part! I thought she made the blanket with 3 skeins, but when I got ahold of her she said that she used 4 in the end. I may pick another up - else I can make a couple sweaters for mothers who will be happy to not handwash something for a change!

I resisted:

Cascade 220 and Lambs Pride Worsted. Those are my go-to yarns, but I didn't have anything specific in mind.

Dream Colors Worsted - I love these colors, but they were out of the blue, I loved the green....but even at 25% off - a bit pricey.

Dream Colors Sock - well, I have the brown which may be for my sock pal...and they only had a mustardy-yellow color besides, and I couldn't see me wearing that particular shade of sock.....

There were several other sock yarns that tempted me...and of course, the Koigu. But I can get Koigu at full price anytime either online or on a trip through Chicago....

So see???? I resisted HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS worth of yarn.


Keep knitting!!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bereft, Bereaved, In Mourning......

Dear Laura:

It is the end of an era! I went to our finest LYS, Cass Street Depot in Fort Wayne and heard the news that they are closing.

When I first walked in, I noticed that the Koigu section had just been restocked (I'd been waiting for that!) but someone else was browsing there, so I headed to the sock section. Then I overheard someone asking if the Koigu was on sale, and she (oh, I forget her name....) said that it's not, it just came in.

So I wandered over and asked what IS on sale, and she replied that, well, everything. That I would be hearing in a few days anyway, but that Sandy has decided to close her business. I was shocked, and I asked when, and she said "End of May. Before that if possible."

I didn't ask why - that seemed nosy somehow, but I did hear her talking to someone else, and they said, "Well you can certainly understand, I hope she enjoys herself," so I had the impression that she's ready to stop owning a store. As I hear more, I'll let you know.

I was a jumble of emotions - mostly I wanted to sit down and cry. And felt kind of strange buying yarn, like taking advantage of a mis-fortune. But hey. The words "yarn" and "sale" together - that will cut through any emotional fog!

I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my purse, and I kept looking around at yarn I'd been "mentally buying" for the last months.....and even tho I really shouldn't spend any money on yarn right now - IT'S GOING AWAY.

So. First of all, on sale or not - the two red colorways of Koigu that I've been eyeing for a scarf. And 2 skeins of green because I've never made myself Koigu socks.

Then a skein of the pink that I'm using in my niece's blanket, because I THINK I have enough, but if I don't....and the two orange skeins were in the clearance bin and I've wanted to make them into mittens since I first laid eyes on them. And I can't seem to keep myself in #2 DPN's and I have several new knitters that I want to gift Chibi's to.

And finally, sock yarn. Dream Colors in a soft brown colorway, and Colinette hand-dyed in a rich green color. Picking out which yarn (either of these two or from my stash) will actually be for my sock pal is more that I can say right now.

I just can't believe it!!

Keep knitting....

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sewing day, INDEED, plus a little knitting.....

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I enjoy hearing from you no matter if there are pictures or not! It's just nice to catch a glimpse of what's going on in your world. I'll enjoy watching your sockapalooza adventure!

It's a quick post here today, too. In about an hour, I'll be "babysitting" for the rest of the day. I think I've regressed, because I'm saving up my babysitting money to buy an iPod, and I'm working toward applying to grad school. Am I 42 or 22??

Anyway, here is Branching Out in all of its blocking glory, completed with plenty o' time to spare before it's deadline: I did 40 repeats, and it measures 7" x 74". This is dk/sport weight yarn using size 9 needles.

And, the close up:Also, since Tuesday IS sewing day, and since my quilting group meets tomorrow, I decided it was time to finish up my commitment to bind a couple of the quilts for the group. It is a group at a church down the street, and we make quilts for Lutheran World Relief, so these could end up anywhere in the world. I've seen pictures of similar quilts being used as tents/shelter, though I know some have gone to Katrina victims, as well. It would be interesting to track the life of one of these. Anyway, we take fabrics from old drapes, or stashes of people who no longer quilt, or stashes from estates, etc., and try to put them together into quilts which are 60"x80". We do the normal pieced front (though we use quite "large" pieces to save time) / batting / backing sandwich. Then they are machine quilted. Then the backing is folded over to the front around all of the edges and stitched down to form the binding, which is what I'm doing today on two of them. These take up a lot of space in my work room, so it will be nice to finish them up and return them to the group.

Well, it's already lunch time! Have fun in your search for the perfect sock yarn!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Nothing to show for it!

I'm such a bad blogger! I finished the Surprise Jacket for my great-niece and delivered it....but forgot to take a picture! Duh.... I'll try to get one sometime this week!

I'm signed up for Sockapalooza 4, and I've been in touch with both my sock-er and my sock-ee. I'm really looking forward to this! So, it's a short post because I have to go to the yarn store and see if they have any yarn that's just what I'm looking for.....

Mmmm, sock yarn....


Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal.....

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I very much enjoyed perusing all of your April projects, and I hope you feel proud of yourself for getting so much completed! My favorite was the toddler sweater you designed!

Things here are going well, though I don't have much new to show for my knitting -- I've been working on both the sweater and the Branching Out scarf, and hope to have a picture to show you tomorrow of the scarf blocking...

The comments regarding my chemistry test we so kind, and also funny. I scored a 90% on the test, so the professor is allowing me to register for the second semester course in fall - Thank you Harper for pointing out that I now get to study "new chemistry" :-) I'm not sure why I "enjoy" putting this kind of pressure on myself, though last week I was contemplating that a lot of being a stay at home mom (well, probably any mom, for that matter) is handling complaints... Why didn't you do my laundry today?... How come I can't have three desserts at supper?... You forgot to make my lunch!... Anyway, I felt so pumped when I learned my test score, and I think it is because it is so tangible, complete, and something I feel I've achieved -- very different from the less tangible things I accomplish in the day to day flurry of trying to keep things here running smoothly.

I've taken some of your solutions, coupled with some things I've seen in homes of friends, and I present you with my new "incoming mail" strategy/process. I'll be refining it as I go, but this is going to be my starting point.

First, to minimize the amount of stuff I must process, when I bring the mail into the house, I'm going to walk by our recycling bin and put all of the junk mail directly into it before proceeding to the official mail dumping ground in the kitchen, which now looks like this:The two magazine bins are labelled, one for recipes (which otherwise seem to just accumulate in the mail pile), and one for items which must be filed in other locations in the house, such as in the mortgage info box in the basement, or the photo album area, or the investment file in my work room, etc. (Obviously, I now must actually do the filing, because the "to file" bin is over capacity, but you get the idea.) I also have a small crate on the left, which has file folders in it, such as "summer programs", "coupons", "School info", class schedules for the health club, etc..... These file folders contain the papers I access frequently. Then, there is a pencil holder, a mug with pens in it, and a basket into which dh puts all of his change and his phone recharging cord at the end of the day. On the wall behind is a bulletin board which has things like my hairdresser's business card, our menu for the week, etc. As I said, it's all still a bit rough, but I'm going to work on refining it in the coming weeks, and I continue to be open to hearing about what works for others. I think the trick for me is going to be ongoing maintenance / discipline to put all of the papers in their designated places instead of in a pile. As I refine this, I'll report my progress and hopefully be able to show you a photo which is less "busy" than the one above.... It all just takes TIME -- something in short supply for everybody these days it seems.....

And finally, with my test done and my mail pile whipping into shape, I'm also pleased to announce that my Bleeding Heart plant, which looked so very sad and dare I say "dead" during the cold snap we had a few weeks ago, is now in bloom and lifting my spirits. Truly, hope does spring eternal!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another month has gone by already???


Oh my.....April is gone? How did that happen?????

I'm sure you're feeling the same way - you had a very busy April - I'm so happy that you've finished your test, and I'm anxious to hear the result!

Guess it's time for the usual review-and-goal-setting post!

I started April with an almost-finished project, the Toddler Sweater for my LYS. I did finish and deliver that early in the month.

It was an "a-ha!" moment for me. Someone asked me if I was happy with the finished project, and I replied that it was the best possible result - the finished sweater looked just like the picture in my head as I was designing it. The picture developed while I was swatching, and by time I cast on, I could see it. I've decided that is the reason that knitting is my creative endeavor. Other arts I've tried - drawing, painting, sculpting, carving - the result does not look like the vision. But in knitting, besides the tactile enjoyment and the relaxing motions, the vision is truly expressed in the result. (Ok. Usually! ;) )

I was working on some "
Mason-Dixon Knitting" projects for a bridal-shower gift. The washcloth that I attempted completely defeated me, and I pulled out an old favorite pattern and made two "Flower-Power" washcloths instead. I made 3 of my own "Soap Sweaters" (although I'm completely unable to knit a pattern "as written," even if it is my own pattern!) I added a cute cable detail on a couple of those!

I tried for a felted box and a cotton bathmat, but knitting with large gauge is simply too painful. My arms and wrist won't really tolerate anything larger than worsted weight and size 8's. I bought a little basket and a bundle of washcloths and put it all together for my "centerpiece!"

I did another commission project - this Lady Bug hat.

The pattern is from Fiber Trends, and I used Cascade 220. It went fairly quickly and it was an enjoyable knit.

That left working on my two long-term projects, the Dale of Norway baby sweater and the graduation gift blanket. Both of those did see progress this month...but then the "drop-in" projects started coming!

I did a quick square from the Lizard Ridge afghan from Knitty - also a commission project.

And then last week I got an invitation to my great-niece's 1st birthday party. I announced that I really didn't have time to knit something but her grandmother re-iterated that she needed some spring/summer type hats and she really liked the ruffled one that I made in March. So I whipped up a yellow hat using some stash yarn, and then a white hat....and I changed up the pattern on that one - I'll be posting more about that down the road.

And my mother thought maybe she'd like to commission a gift for the I'm wildly knitting on an Elizabeth Zimmerman "
Surprise Jacket." The party is tonight at 6:30, and I've accepted it as a given that I will not have it completed. The sleeves are sewn up and the front stitches are being held on yarn. I'll have some time to finish working around the bottom and put that on a holder as well so that I can wrap it. Then I'll need to have it back to knit the last 6 rows and put buttons on it.

Yes, I'm "not quite right!"

May goals are quite simple.

1. Finish this birthday sweater
2. Work on the graduation blanket
3. Finish the Lady Bug Sweater
4. Finish second sock of a pair that has languished
5. Start socks for Sockapalooza 4


Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)