Friday, September 19, 2008

DANGEROUS knitting pattern

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Regarding the question of the sweater for your mom, my vote would be to knit what you think she would choose on her own. The Must Have Cardigan has set in sleeves (not the drop sleeves I see on a lot of aran sweaters), so you might like that look on your mom, too. As an added bonus, and in my own selfish interest, then you and I would be having our own little "knit along" across the miles, because look what I started:
Thank you to those of you who expressed thoughts about which project I should choose next. This is the first sleeve of Patons' "Must Have Cardigan," and this is a **dangerous** project. It has completely sucked me in, and I have plenty of reading and other homework which I **should** be working on **instead**, though I'm having a difficult time putting down the knitting. I just love it so far. I want to wear it tomorrow. However, wearing only half of a sleeve would not leave the sort of impression I'm typically going for... But I just really, really love it so far.

A quick note about the seamless baby bootie patterns... I knit a second bootie from the directions for the seamless "top down" pattern, and I confess that the ends of the short rows do have some little gaps/pulled stitches which I sort of "massaged" a little to close things up a bit. It's nothing serious, and only took a minute or two of adjustment, though it's not perfect. I much more strongly recommend the seamless "bottom up" pattern instead, even though I know some folks don't like using the cast-on method typical of many toe-up socks patterns...just my two cents worth. Still, this pair turned out very nice, and I was motivated to complete them because one of my friends just gave birth to a baby girl... Off to the post office this afternoon...

I also just love this dishcloth pattern:
It's much better in a solid color than in the variegated version I made first, just sayin'.

Our van has been acting up for about a year and a half, dying at will, typically when idling. I've had it looked at a few times, and the biggest problem is that the service garage has been unable to make it fail, so I bring the thing back home, and it continues with its erratic behavior. This past Tuesday, it conked out six times when I went to pick up the boys from school, bordering on dangerous as it has started to happen when I pull out into traffic, and so I took it to the service shop the very next day. I rejoiced that this time they experienced the problem, though they diagnosed it as the electronic control module -- you know, the part which costs $700 and requires another $300 for labor and other miscellaneous? It sounded like a lot of money, so we debated -- should we just keep on going, since the issue is intermittent and sometimes doesn't happen for weeks at a time, or should we bite the bullet and try to have the issue fixed once and for all. We opted for the latter.

Here's the best part of the story... The garage phoned me and said that when they called the dealer in order to purchase the required part, the dealer needed the vehicle ID number in order to know how to program the part, and said that it was covered under a service warranty (which had been "thrown in" as an incentive when we bought the vehicle -- 7 years, 100,000 miles on the powertrain), so if we took it over to the dealer, we could have it fixed for $100 deductible.

I did that this morning, and now I'm driving a vehicle that runs soooo much better. And, we've had this vehicle for just under seven years, and it has 90K miles on it. Phew. Nice that things work out this way sometimes!! And, I credit the first garage with letting me know about what the dealer told them, because they lost the revenue... There are honest garages out there!

Well, I'm going to work on some halloween costumes today while the boys are at school. My school load is intense in terms of activities during the school day (classes and labs), though this weekend I only have about six or seven chapters of reading, so very manageable...and tempting to keep on knitting my Must Have Cardigan... Hmmm....

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Socks done and begun...

Greetings and Dear Laura:

I really enjoyed reading what you've been up to. That is so cool that you were designing seamless booties at the same time that Knitting Guy did! (And coming from a trucking family, I enjoy that there is a knitting trucker! Hmm, wonder if I could get my brother to learn to knit?)

coin purse is so cool! I know what you mean about having loose change in the bottom of your backpack. It's so much handier to have a place to put your change, and then in turn have access to it when you need it. I like the loop - I'd hook it someplace in my purse so I could actually find it when I have a hand full of change!

I'm intrigued by the "Must Have Cardigan" pattern that you're looking at. My mom had a cotton sweater that looked similar to that. When it finally fell apart, she replaced it with an acrylic one that she paid very little for. It lasted a very little time. Recently I drove her to visit with some of her friends, and discovered that now for a sweater she is using a polyester sweatshirt/cardigan with snaps. She has had it for a long time and it is dingy and pill-y. So, I have decided that I have to knit her a sweater. I measured her up, and got some yarn and now I'm looking at patterns. (I know you shouldn't order the yarn until you have a pattern, but I knew I wanted Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in white, so I ordered 7 skeins, which should be enough for a medium women's sweater. I hope.)

The "Must Have Cardigan" looks like something she would choose. However, she is really petite, especially her shoulders, and a bulky sweater just seems to overwhelm her. I like the body structure of the
Summer Braids Cardigan (I made one for my sil) but I think that either set-in or raglan sleeves would be more flattering on her. So I'm thinking of using a basic raglan pattern built using my "Handy Book of Sweater Patterns" and using the body ribs and cables of the Summer Braids.

What do you think? Maker her a sweater that she would choose, or one I think she'd look better in?? Knit for her or me? ;)

I did finish the Alizerine socks over the weekend. I had to quickly pick something else for mindless knitting, and since these where child's socks, I still had yarn left. My niece was visiting, so I traced the feet of her 2-year-old daughter, and just kept knitting with the same yarn. I have one sock done, and I'm almost to the heel of the second. Toddler socks go fast!!

And for tomorrow - amazing shawl knitting!! Stay tuned to local stations.....

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coin Purse

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Thank you for the information about the Hiya Hiya needles. At half the price of Addi's, it sounds like I should check them out the next time I need more needles, though it seems with all of the needles I own, I should have a "complete set" by now...but really, does anybody?

One of the comments I received on my Seamless Bottom Up Baby Booties pattern really caught my attention. Knitting Guy (author of Knitting On The Road) just happened to be designing his own seamless bottom-up pattern at roughly the same time I was, and his ideas regarding construction were very similar to mine. He is a long haul trucker, I am a stay at home mom/student, yet we each formulated a pattern for baby booties which was the same concept... Really! Follow the link to his blog and check it out! Very fun!

I spent a few minutes yesterday making a little coin purse:I've been throwing my small change into a pocket in my back pack, and I have to go digging for it when I need it, and I'm too cheap to buy a coin purse, so I made one out of stuff I had on hand. I followed a pattern I found in this book. Also, a little key ring may be placed on the ribbon shown on the top of this photo... It looks sort of weird, but it's quite functional.

Well, I'm two weeks into the fall semester. Earlier this week, my eight year old told me he was out of shorts. I suggested that he wear pants, because the weather is cooler. So, yesterday morning, he told me that not only is he out of shorts, but he is now *also* out of underwear. Then my five year old piped up and started telling me that he is running out of clean clothes to wear, too. I think I need to implement some sort of "process" for housework here, because I don't think my family is going to like my initial thoughts: "I'll have time for your laundry when the semester is over." Needless to say, it will be a weekend devoted to laundry...

Nothing else too exciting. I blocked Ibenholt, but it is still in three pieces, waiting to be sewn together. I'm contemplating my next projects, and have it narrowed down to three, all having yarn available in my stash:
  • 1.) Must Have Cardigan, in the Patons "Street Smart" booklet, using Patons Classic Merino in the standard "Aran" color.
  • 2.) Basic Chic Hoodie, by Bonne Marie Burns, using a two-tone (blues/grays) colorway of Cascade 220.
  • 3.) Sienna, by Ann Smith, from Interweave Knits Fall 2006, using Mary Maxim 2-ply chunky weight acrylic.
I'm probably the least excited about option 3.), though acrylic doesn't necessarily mean "bad," though perhaps it does mean "not as nice?" The yarn was given to me by my son's preschool, because they had so much acrylic yarn on their hands and they were trying to just get rid of it. This yarn actually feels okay to the touch (meaning that it doesn't stick to the dry skin on my hands). Any inputs for which project to tackle next?

Well, time to get cracking on the stuff I put off until the weekend... It's raining right now, so it's a perfect day to be indoors...

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Avoiding Second Sock Syndrome!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

Well, I'm moving along on my second Alizerine sock. I still really love knitting with the Collinette Jitterbug yarn. It's soft and squooshy, yet it has a solid feel that I really like. Why, oh WHY can't they throw some extra yardage on the skein so that it could be my favorite all-time sock yarn?????

I'm using new needles that I bought from Knitting Today last month. They are "Hiya-Hiya" needles. I'm always interested in trying different needles. I've always liked the feel of INOX needles, but I find the cables too stiff. I think I'm the only person to not like Addi Turbo's because my yarn hangs at the join, because other knitters love them! I did like the Addi Lace needles, but I noticed that my hands pick up a metallic smell. (I'm so picky!) I dearly love my KnitPicks interchangeable set! The cables are supple, the joins are fairly smooth and I love the sharp points. However, they don't come any smaller than a size 4, and so for my fingering weight sock yarn (using magic loop!) I still need 40" needles. And since I am not very 'project monogamous,' I can always use another needle.

I've become a fan of these "Hiya-Hiya" needles. (Other than feeling kind of goofy when I have to say the name!) They have a nice sharp point, the cable isn't TOO annoyingly stiff, and the join is the best I've used. I get distracted sometimes by that. As I switch needles for magic loop, I push the front needle back into the stitches and I have to stop and think, "Wow, that didn't snag on the join!" And as an added bonus, these are very affordable. Addi's run $13.50, but these are just $7.50. I see me switching!

In other news, my new glasses came in and I love the whole 'I can see clearly now' of it all. I'm adjusting to the new zones (bifocals, you know) but I don't have to tilt my head back to see the computer screen anymore, so bye-bye stiff neck. And Lauren says they're cute!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Final Blanket Block

Final Blanket Block
Originally uploaded by designatedknitter
Greetings and Dear Laura:

The Omnivore 100 was kind of fun! Lauren, I got a chuckle out of your noticing that I've never had a PB&J! Thank you Marit, for your recommendation of Gjetost/brunost. I looked it up online, and it looks very yummy! One of the websites that I looked at said that it's available in the states, so I'm going to keep my eye out for it. I have to confess that when I was preparing my list, I had to look up a LOT of the items!

It turned out that my limits are poisonous (fugu) dirt (kaolin) and blow-your-head off hot (raw scotch bonnet pepper) although I might try a dish that CONTAINS the pepper. Just couldn't see eating the raw pepper.

I finished my final square for Jessica's Grandpa's Blanket. I had this ball of Cascade 220 that I wanted to try something new with. I believe that I did a double moss stitch, although it may have been a double rice stitch. I know I looked at them both!

So, now back to my Alizerine socks and planning more projects!

Keep Knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Omnivore's 100...

Ok, this looked like fun to me - I grabbed it from The Rebellious Pastor's Wife. Here are the instructions.

The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. And here are the instructions:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out (I ghosted them) any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (we call it blood pudding and I love this!)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (love, LOVE these!)
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe Beef
86. Hare (well, rabbit)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (grossest thing on the menu)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Have fun and keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)
**Edited to add:
No, it's not a mistake that I've never eaten PB&J. As a child, the list of things I wouldn't eat included eggs (cooked any way,) mustard, ketchup, pickles, anything with mayonnaise, and peanut butter. I will now eat eggs (but not over-easy) and ketchup, but those are the only changes.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Be Late for Something Day!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

YAY!! A holiday that is just my style! According to the calendar of bizarre holidays, today is "Be Late For Something" day. I got to work this morning and checked my holiday calendar and TA DA! I had already managed to celebrate the holiday. Nothing like getting that out of the way.

(Tomorrow is Fight Procrastination Day, but Saturday is my best procrastination day, so that probably won't work out so well.) I'm also late with posting to the blog, so maybe we can say that I'm "fighting procrastination" a day early!

First of all - Ibenholt is beautiful! And off the needles is such a wonderful feeling. Congratulations!

I did not have big plans for Labor Day, which was just fine by me. My parents were home unexpectedly - my dad had been to a routine doctors appointment, and diagnosed with pneumonia. A course of mega-antibiotics has him back to normal, so that's good. While he was resting, I took mom for a big grocery shopping on Saturday, took her to church on Sunday and then helped her with bookwork. Monday I took her to see her best friend from childhood who was visiting from her home in Iowa. Monday afternoon I did cooking and cleaning for the week ahead - so it was a good thing I had that extra day to get things done.

I had an eye doctor appointment on Wednesday - I was due for that last January. My new glasses should be here in about a week - I am SO looking forward to seeing more clearly. Hmm, maybe my lace knitting will be easier... I also ended up at the dentist on Wednesday. Over the weekend, I had a crown pop off, and I wanted to have it glued back. I was past due for a cleaning (are you seeing the procrastination theme here????) and it worked out I could schedule both things at one time. In the end, they also filled a cavity while I was there, so my mouth and eyes are good to go for a while.

By now you're probably asking yourself what any of this has to do with the picture of the sock. Not a thing! Just rambling on. The sock? I finished that last night at knit-in. I hadn't made it there in quite a while, so it was fun to see everyone again. A lot of them were working on sweaters. I got a lot of inspiration. Of course, I'm susceptible to inspiration. Here's a list of my current inspirations:

A baptismal gown for my great-niece Josie.
Squares for a blanket for my dad.
A sweater for my mom.
Socks for me.
Baby things for my new niece/nephew in January (THANK YOU for the seamless baby bootie pattern! I can't wait to try it out!!!!! I'll probably do that before anything else, even tho I should get the bigger things out of the way first. Say it with me, pro-cra-sti-nation??)

Hope your first week back at school has gone well. Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ibenholt Off the Needles!

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

First, thank you Johanna for de-lurking and leaving your nice comment! I very much appreciated both hearing that you went back to school when your youngest went to kindergarten AND your encouragement for me. We're practically neighbors! I hope that I have a chance to meet you at the Sow's Ear sometime! Also, I'm taking it under advisement that it will be helpful to continue knitting throughout my school years to reduce the stress :-)

Second, I'm glad to hear that the baby bootie pattern is already in use (you go girl, Marit!), and that it does not "look like crap," a statement which made me laugh out loud when I read it on Lauren's blog.

Third, I went to "last Saturday knitting" (Johanna - hint hint) this past weekend, and cast OFF on the collar of Ibenholt. (Great fun, that Last Saturday knitting! Nice, nice bunch of ladies!)

Next I worked the "Front Plackets." If you've ever made a Dale of Norway sweater, then you are familiar with their somewhat, er, "unprolific" style of giving directions. Here is a spippet from the directions for the front plackets:
  • ....pick up sts K-wise. Working back and forth, beg with a WS R and C OFF K-wise.
When I read through that the first time, I was sure that there had to be some steps missing; certainly I wouldn't pick up stitches and then turn around and cast them off again on the next row. However, I blindly did what was asked, and really am quite pleased with how the finished edge looks all the way up the front of the sweater. The zipper does *not* extend into the collar, though with the edge worked in this way, it all fits together nicely and looks good:Now all that remains is the weaving in of 13 more ends (don't know why I count, but it's what I do during dreaded tasks), the blocking, and the "sewing in" of the sleeves and zipper into the body of the sweater. (This means that I'll be embarking on the "great zipper hunt" in the next day or two. I hope I don't have to settle for black, though the photo in the pattern shows a natural colored sweater having a zipper which might be black with metal teeth -- I might try to find one with coil teeth... Ah, decisions....)

So, do you have big plans for Labor Day? First I'm going grocery shopping; then some more home organizing. I actually made some progress on getting things put in order before school starts, and I should try to capitalize on the "momentum" I had yesterday and really get some things done.

It is the first day of school tomorrow for the boys and me... I think we're all happy to be going back to school, and that's a good place to be.

Have a great Labor Day!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)