Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Had a little accident yesterday.....

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Whew! Sorry for another extended absence. Last week on Wednesday we rented a car that would ride smoothly and loaded up my parents and I drove them to their home in Kentucky. The doctors agreed that the long drive was worth the benefit to my dad of being able to keep an eye on his business interests there. We were to take a "leisurely drive with lots of breaks to walk around." Normal drive time is around 7 hours. We got stuck in traffic, took a cross-country detour, only TWO breaks, and made it in just under 8 hours!

I stayed with them until Sunday evening, and while I did have internet access, I did not have "spare time" for any of my usual pursuits. I usually managed to keep my fantasy baseball players active on their game days, but that was it. I read some email, but I did not knit a stitch or blog or read blogs. While it felt good to head for home on Sunday night, it was also weird. I had gotten used to "taking care" of my parents, especially dad. I always knew how much he was sleeping, eating, walking, etc. I knew his latest blood pressure and blood sugar readings, what meds he's taking and when. He is well enough that they can handle all of that....but it was strangely difficult to let it go.

I returned to work on Monday, but I've needed a few days to decompress and get back to my normal life. I have been knitting at lunch on the socks I started for my niece's birthday present. I'm past the half-way point on the foot of the first sock, so progress is being made again.

And in my biggest step back into normal life, I headed up to the Wool Barn in Avilla to pick up a book that I had ordered, Favorite Socks by Interweave Knits. Actually, I was on my way to pick that book up three and a half weeks ago when I got the call from my mom that dad would be having surgery, and so I turned around and headed south instead. It seemed to be time to get back to that!

While I was there, well, I had a bit of an accident. I hadn't been in ANY yarn store for months, and I had been all geared up for Market at Stitches, so I had "pent-up buying intentions," I guess. On the way there, I remembered that they had a worsted weight cashmere blend from Lana Grossa called Pashmina. I got a ball of cream to make a baby hat for a co-worker's new baby.

I also remembered that I had purchased a ball of "Wick" by Knit One Crochet Too. It's a soy-based yarn that is designed to wick away moisture. I've seen a pair of socks knit with it, and would like to do a pair.
It takes 3 balls for a pair of socks, so I decided to pick up 2 more. They didn't have the blue multi-color that I chose the first time, so I picked up 2 in a plain blue and I'll do some kind of striping or accent or something.

The rest we'll just have to chalk up to my "weakened condition."

There were two big skeins of Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino Handpaint in the Fiesta colorway - I bought one. (This is a terrible picture - the color is MUCH more vibrant. Think Fiesta!) I love the stuff!

And I got 2 small skeins of the Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino semi-solids in pink. I'm thinking Baby Surprise Jackets for some of the many babies on the way.

There. I feel better.

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Slow and Steady

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

When it comes to the finishing work on Dale of Norway sweaters, I am a slow poke. After about two hours of working on Sapporo yesterday, I have ONE sleeve sewn into place. I'm rather picky about how I do my finishing work, so it takes me a really long time. I once heard a knitter say to rip out any part of a seam which you might not quite like, rather than continuing on, because it will continue to bug you. Take it out immediately when you decide it isn't quite right! This is something I adhere to when I'm doing finishing work...and it makes me very slow at it...

In any case, for those of you who lived through the finishing work of Hardangervidda with me last December, this is just another verse of the same tune, so I won't get into too many details here, though please feel free to ask any questions if you have them!

Here is a look at the inside of the sweater, having the facing sewn down over the raw edges of the cut armhole:
Here are the shoulder and sleeve seems shown from the "right side" of the sweater:Hopefully I'll have more progress to show after today! I tried the sweater on in its current state, and it really, really needs the other sleeve...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Remember the Sapporo?

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

We had the boys' birthday party with our extended families yesterday. The boys love Legos, and each received a couple of Lego kits for gifts, so they are happily (as in NOT FIGHTING) busy this morning, allowing me to get caught up on a bunch of paperwork. Recall the cake "spec":Here is the finished product:Not my best work, but the boys were tickled by it and got to poke all of the little animals into the cake, so a success.

I can't seem to stop making socks. This one is the result of trying to use up leftovers from the Lorna's Laces socks I made this summer:
I'm just about ready to make the contrasting heel. I'm big into the toe-up thing now, especially for this sock, as the amount of yarn I have is questionable, so I actually can just knit until I run out..... Have I said I am loving the toe-up technique?!

We've had a week of rainy weather, to be followed by another week of rainy weather. There are flash flood warnings in the area, and actual flooding in many nearby locations. For the time being, our house is fine, so I am very thankful. Along with the rain, it's a few degrees cooler, so this has prompted me to dig out my Sapporo, and tonight I'm going to try to begin the "finishing" work of sewing in the sleeves, finishing the neckline, hemming, etc. Before we know it, the weather will allow the wearing of just such a sweater, so I want to be ready!

Well, back to my paperwork. I hope this finds you all well!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stitches Class

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

YES! The 1776 Liberty colorway of Lorna's Laces. Too weird we're both knitting the same colorway at the same time! Mine is the Shepherd "Sport", so goes pretty fast. See?! A pair just completed and shown here on my fancy schmancy sock blockers.

While at Stitches, I attended one class. The topic was Bavarian Knitting. Basically, Bavarian Knitting is similar to Norwegian knitting in that it is done mostly in the round, cutting the fabric for armholes and cardigan front edges, etc. It is different in that it is mostly one color, so the steeks are one color and steek stitches are all twisted knit stitches (made my simply knitting into the back of the stitch). Also, for the armhole edges, stitches are bound off at the bottom of the armhole, then several stitches are cast on just above that which become steek stitches. The patterning of Bavarian knitting is largely twisted knit stitches against a background of reverse stockinette. These twisted knit stitches can form cables, or travel, etc. The twist in the stitch really makes the stitches "pop" out from the background. Here is a photo of the swatch I made in class, in which the yarn was carried across the back of the swatch after each row in order to simulate knitting in the round, then those strands cut after the swatch was done:Eunny's Bayerische socks utilize this technique.

Here is another swatch we worked on in which we started with a "steek" made of twisted knit stitches, then used a crochet hook to secure the steek area prior to cutting. This step is not considered part of the classic construction, as our handouts gave credit to Rick Mondragon for the crochet technique. (Rather, sewing along the side edges of the steek was mentioned as the technique classically used......) In any case, it was good for me to try the crochet method of securing stitches (swatch on left side of photo). With that done, the steek is cut. We then used applied I-cord along what would be the finished front edge of a cardigan. Finally, we used overcast stitches to secure and neaten the cut edge (swatch on right side of photo -- though I was in a hurry at this point -- it was just a swatch, and I've done the technique many times before on real projects.....). Anyway, for the most part, a good class, though I think in another year, I might opt for purchasing a book instead of attending a class, as the skills taught in the class weren't really new ideas to me.

I got started on the vee pullover for dh. My swatching yielded 6 stitches per inch, though I'm starting with a sleeve just to make sure I got it right. So far, so good, so this project is off and running. It will have hemmed lower edges, which seems to work well in keeping the lower edges from curling (since even the garter stitch on my swatch was curling like crazy...).

Well, tomorrow we are celebrating the boys' birthdays with our extended families. Since their birthdays are only two months apart, we generally have only one celebration to save everybody the trouble of traveling here more than once in such a short time period during very busy summers. This means that today I am baking a cake, cleaning the house, and making salsa with the many tomatoes I have which are ripe. Here is the drawing I was given for what the cake is supposed to look like:Basically, it is a farm scene having a jet flying overhead. (The boys were trying to capture an interest that each cousin has -- one likes horses, one likes pigs, one wants to go to the air force academy, etc.) I'll show you the finished product in my next post. Could be interesting.....

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

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I've got pictures!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Oh, I am still bummed that I missed Stitches! I'm glad you went and enjoyed it - and we'll not give up, we'll get there at the same time again!

I wanted to ask what yarn you're using for your "Magic Loop" socks. It looks quite similar to the yarn I'm using for socks, also Magic Loop! I'm using Lorna's Laces in the 1776 colorway, which is listed as red, white and blue. However, the red has always looked more "maroon" to me, and local school colors are maroon and blue, so the kids wear these socks with school colors. I have to confess that I'm not wild about the color - I've had 3 colorways of Lorna's Laces now that I loved in the skein but hated the way the colors knit up. I'm starting to get leery of them. Your yarn looks like it has less white, and I think I like that better.

I'm doing cuff-down ankle socks for my niece - also a plain pattern. With so much going on, my brain is only up for what I already know well, so heel flap it is. I really do like the Magic Loop - I find I use it for most small things that I knit in the round. While I think I'll end up moving more and more toward toe-up socks, I do need more pattern support for those, while I can do a pair of cuff-down socks without any pattern.


My niece Amber came over yesterday, and brought her little girl who just turned 1. She brought along the red EZ Surprise Jacket that I made for her birthday, and so we have pictures! She is so cute in red! (For the record, the yarn in that jacket is Lorna's Laces and I love it.)

IMG_3656.JPG IMG_3655.JPG

Guess that's all for now - we're doing fine here, dad is recovering well, if not particularily patiently. ;)

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More time to blog now!

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

I love your office zucchini! I can't say I've ever seen anything like it before! Up here in these parts, people do such crazy things as **cook** with them (I used one in a frittata last week), but I've never seen one dressed up. Very fun!

I'm so glad to hear that your dad's recovery is going quickly and well, and I hope that you are able to get some sleep in the very near future!

Thank you to everybody for your very kind comments regarding my version of the childHood sweater. Now my seven year old wants one, but I'm not ready yet for another project having all of those stripes.

I totally missed you at Stitches! I was thankful to be able to be a part of that knitting frenzy, but it would have been so much more fun to share the experience/community with you! It worked out great for me to take the bus down there, then a hotel shuttle over to the convention center -- rather inexpensive transportation -- and the market was **overwhelming**, as expected. I walked around for about two hours before I decided to purchase anything. I was really trying to avoid impulsive buys on things which look so cute but which realistically I wouldn't knit (the pattern for knitting an entire sock monkey comes immediately to mind)..... I did settle on some sock yarn (didn't even know Regia had a stretch version, but thought I'd try it), and two pounds of Alpaca:I'm thinking ahead for Christmas with the Alpaca, and planning a plain vee-neck raglan pullover for dh. I swatched it right at 6 stitches per inch (which is good, because I determined the amount to purchase based on that gauge), and am letting it soak right now just to be sure it is the same after washing. It is sooo soft. The yarn is a little splitty, but I love it anyway. This project will be rather mindless once I get going on it, so I'll be able to take it everywhere and get the thing knit without dh ever seeing it...

My class was interesting -- more on that in my next post.....

There was plenty of time to knit on the bus. Here are the finished Embossed Leaves (toe up version) socks:Please don't be jealous of my elaborate sock blockers. As I recall, I made a similar pair for you the last time you visited...

Here is a plain sock in which I decided I'd use the Magic Loop technique for the entire project (proof of that in the photo -- sock still "on the needles"). It's actually working out quite well this time -- Magic Loop seems a lot easier to me when the sock is more plain -- and I think I'm really getting the hang of it. A big "thank you" to Debi for your kind tips on this topic! It didn't even occur to me that I could make the heel using 60% of the stitches, and I appreciated your other ideas, too! Your efforts have gone a long way to increasing my comfort level with the technique. I love how easy it makes knitting the toe using the Turkish Cast On, and the rest of the sock works out great, too.

My class is done, and it is nice to be able to devote more energy into knitting and housework (in that order). It went really fast, and of all the classes I've ever had, I'd say that this one ranks near the top in terms of my interest level in it. My next class begins in two weeks, but it won't be nearly as intense since it is spread out over a whole semester (College Chemistry Two).

That's the big news for now. Laundry waits, so I'd better get some real work done around here!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A bit of a blur......

Greetings and Dear Laura:

First of all, I'm want to post a great big thank you to my Sockapalooza 4 pal! Johanna from Verona Wisconsin sent me this delightful package:
The socks are so lovely, and they fit perfectly! I can't wait for it get cool so that I can start to wear them. She also sent that beautiful sock yarn - already I have 2 sil's arguing over it. Too bad for them - can you say "socks for ME!"
I loved finding out that she lives nears Madison WI - Laura, you're gonna have to go hang out in Verona and look for knitters! I had just been poring over a map of the area with my brother, who took a weekend trip there with his wife and in-laws last weekend, so I kept thinking that the town name seemed familiar.
It's been a bit of a blur this week. My dad was in the hospital the week before for tests, and they were going to send him home last Friday. When they changed their minds and decided to run another test, I made the snap decision to head down (about a 4-hour drive) for the weekend. They've run these tests several times in the last 6 months, so I thought I'd run down and stay with mom in the motel, and probably be back Saturday or Sunday. I was 1/2 way there when mom called and said that they had decided to do by-pass surgery the next morning, so I gave it an extra push and got down there in time to help get him moved to the hospital where the surgery would be. That impulsive decision was truly a blessing for all of us. The surgery went really well, and he is recovering quickly. There were some ups and downs, but yesterday they dismissed him from the hospital and sent him back here to recover. He's finally catching up on some sleep, and gets around really well.
I had a couple of WIP's in my knitting bag, which became Finished Objects over the 4 days I spent in Louisville. I finished these fingerless mitts for a co-worker
which was a challenge because I did them on these small DPN's. IMG_3649.JPG
Any time I put the project away, or jumped up to do something, I lost a couple of stitches. Good thing I'm pretty good at picking them back up!
I also finished this baby hat for a shower that we had last week.
It's a Fetching inspired hat from a free pattern, and I used some leftover Debbie Bliss Cashmerino from my stash. I had also grabbed a kit for a baby sweater at the last minute, but it proved to be too complex for hospital knitting. When one of my brother's and his wife came down to relieve me, I had her grab a ball of sock yarn for me from the stash (LOVE stash) and so I have another sock cast on.
So, that's all the news I can stay awake to post now - we're all catching up on sleep, and one of my brothers is here now to relieve me, so I'm going to try to catch a quick nap.

Thanks again, Johanna, for the beautiful socks and all the goodies!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Does your office have a zucchini?

As I posted last week, someone brought a zucchini in to work and we sort of adopted him. Zeke turned out to have a real personality, friends, even a tip jar! And quite a sense of style - he likes to be noticed.


Today I noticed that Crazy Aunt Purl posted the picture of their
new office assistant. On behalf of our office, I have to say we think that we went the extra mile in this! Using only common office supplies and leftovers from office pranks and parties, I would like to point out.

So, the question is.....does your office have a zucchini?? If so, post a link in the comments! If there's a response, we'll come up with a prize!
Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Four more days...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I think it has been the middle of July since I last posted, and though I've missed actively participating in our blog, the time away has allowed me to really work on doing well in my class...and it is paying off. I can hardly believe that I only have four more days (though two of those days involve taking tests -- that's the thing about summer classes -- every time I turn around, there is a test). Since then, I actually had to finish the gift sweater I had languishing, so that I could give it away, so here is my finished version of "ChildHood". The front... And the back...
I can't remember all of the variations I made to this pattern, but I think the larger size, the kangaroo pocket, and the fact that it is a pullover instead of a cardigan, immediately come to mind as being different than the picture shown on Knitty.

Anyway, I have a little breather tonight, because my boys are staying with their grandparents for a few days. They are extremely excited to have "no parents" with them there, and so I didn't have the heart to tell them that Mommy is getting a bit of a nice break, too. I need it! Sometimes, it's difficult for the mom when the kids are around most of the day -- they have so many opportunities to fight with each other, and so I have many opportunities to be frustrated by it. It's not like it was when I was growing up and kids just walked out the back door and into the neighborhood and played with the many children in the neighborhood until the moms shouted out to them that lunch was ready, at which time the kids went running home from friends' houses. Nowadays, many of the moms in my neighborhood are at work, and so their kids are not readily available to meet up for random play by just showing up at a park. And, even if they were around, these days I won't even let my kids out of my sight.....

I've been knitting a little bit on socks. Here is the Embossed Leaves pattern from Favorite Socks, except, as noted in another post, I'm making them toe-up. I like the results. I actually figured out Magic Loop, and though I LOVE LOVE LOVE it for the Turkish cast-on, I found that the loops of the needles which stick out on the sides keep getting in my way once I've got the toe established, so after making half of a foot, I switched back to my dpn's. I still want to try knitting socks using the two circs be thorough.....but I really like the dpn's. I just turned the heel on the second sock.....

Regarding the toe-up socks... I'm finding that the heel area is a bit snugger than I like, so on my next pair, I'm definitely going to try making a heel flap from the toe-up instead of using the short rows w/ yarnovers method. I am loving the whole toe-up concept so much that I don't think I'd change back to top down as my "standard" way to make socks, but I do want to try to get the heel area a bit looser.

So, I should go put a load of laundry in the washer, and then get some studying done for tomorrow's test. I can't believe it is the final week of my class, ALREADY!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

August Goals

Greetings and Dear Laura:

First of all, Sus - you're welcome for the baby sock pattern! You're right, they are muy addictive - they go so fast!!

For Marie and Anita - Zeke is the mascot at the insurance company where I work, mining the mysteries of "forms logic and composition" which is JUST as exciting as it sounds. We endure periodic "environment refreshes" which are truly NOT refreshing.....and sometimes we may bounce off the walls around that time. It's not our fault, they have STILL not provided us with our requisitioned
Margarita Maker so - Zeke happened. Using nothing but standard office supplies, common garden produce, and the leftovers of "cubicle pranks." (See what they did to my cubicle on my birthday....)

And thanks to Marit, Sharon and Carol for your compliments on the Surprise Jacket!

In new business, it's time for the July Report and August Goals.

July was about little projects.
I made project 3 Soap Sweaters, IMG_3533.JPG my Sockapalooza 4 socks,
3 baby socks IMG_3605
Photo_072707_001.jpg and the Baby Surprise jacket.

With the exception of the baby socks, which I procrastinated too much on, all deadlines were met with time to spare. That makes for much happiness!

August Goals:

1. Finish the knitting on the Ladybug sweater in time to take it to Stitches next weekend, where YarnThrower has graciously agreed to provide moral support (and margaritas??) and encouragement when I cut my first steeks. (Yes, I'm a steek virgin!)
2. I'm whipping up a Soap Sweater to send in my Sockapalooza package, which I plan to send out on Monday. Just because I had the knitting done WAY early doesn't mean that I have BLOCKED the socks. I also waited until the last minute to order a little surprise to add to the package.
3. Fetching Baby hat for a shower gift. I'm using Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino from my stash, leftover from a baptismal gown I knitted 4 years ago. I'm past the cables, so I just have ribbing and decreases to go.
4. Pair of fingerless mitts for a co-worker. It was a special request, and I'm happy to oblige. I started them at lunch yesterday because I felt it was something I could work on in a darkened movie theatre. Which was true until I dropped a stitch. I did get a couple of inches done tho, so it worked out ok. I'm using some REALLY short DPN's and it's so easy to lose a stitch with them.
5. Pair of ankle-socks for my niece's birthday on the 18th. I have the yarn, but I need to pick a pattern.
6. I haven't decided what will come next, but it is time to start seriously planning for Christmas (we exchanged names early this year, and I have forgotten whose name I got and where I put the slip.....) and 5 babies which will be born by March

Ah well, so it goes!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)