Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Lust

I checked out a couple of knitting books from my local library last week.  It's a perfect way to preview books before buying them.  Since Borders went out of business, my town is left without a decent bookstore.  The nearest Barnes and Noble is 20 minutes away... not convenient for a quick pop-in.

Knit, Swirl and The Knitter's Book of Socks

Knit, Swirl by Sandra McIver is a beautiful book.  The pictures are gorgeous and the patterns are wonderfully innovative.  Sandra's swirl jackets are knit in one piece in four different round or oval silhouettes.  She says, "A Swirl is a uniquely flattering, one piece, one seam, circular jacket with sculptured shaping and fluid fit,"

The models wearing the jackets range from 5'6" to 5'9", so I'm not sure a short, stocky woman would look good in them.  Be that as it may, each jacket is worn by at least two different models and they all look fabulous.  My favorite is the cover jacket, the coat of many colors.  I wish I could knit that sweater with the suggested yarn, but it would take 10 skeins of mountain goat, costing over $220.  Yikes!

Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Socks is a wonderful guide for sock knitters.  Everything you need to know about sock yarn from elasticity to moisture management is discussed .  And the patterns!  She's compiled patterns from 20 different rock-star designers including  Norah Gaughan, Jared Flood, Cookie A, Cat Bordhi, and Ann Budd.  There's too many lovely patterns to pick an absolute favorite, but one of mine is veil of rosebuds by Anne Hanson.

Both books are available on Amazon and Knit Picks.  I think I see a future book order coming my way...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby Surprise Surprise

My baby surprise jacket is off the needles.  I didn't have quite enough yarn so I frogged back a row and bound off.  I don't think one less row will make much of a difference.  It's a funny looking thing.  I still can't wrap my head around how Elizabeth Zimmerman was able to design it.

How can that possible be a sweater?

Still need seaming and ends woven in

I didn't put any buttonholes in the sweater, so I can sew in some snaps and buttons on top. 

This is all the yarn I have left!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

EZ Knitting

I can't remember the first time I heard about Elizabeth Zimmerann, but I know it was after I started listening to knitting podcasts in 2005.

I picked knitting again becuase fun fur craze in 2004.  Everyone was knitting/crocheting fun fur scarves, and I decided to be one of them.  Since I was more proficient at crocheting, I crocheted many fuzzy scarves.  I made them for myself and female members of my family.  My daughters, my mom, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law... I don't know why my own sisters didn't get any.  When I got tired of the scarves, I decided to pick up knitting again.

Besides the ugly gray thing I knit as a child, I never made anything specific.  After my third child was born, I fiddled with the idea of knitting again.  My grandmother, who doesn't speak English, originally taught me to knit, so I didn't know any of the knitting terms.  I didn't know which was knit and which was pearl.  I didn't even remember how to cast on.  I bought a few knitting books, made swatches, practiced a few techniques, but never advanced beyond that.

The first thing I decided to knit was a sweater for Jeremy.  It was his birth that inspired me to want to knit again, so he, my only son, would be the recipient of my first knitting endeavor eight years later.  As always, I was super-ambitious with my first project and picked a child's guernsey from Debbie Bliss's How to Knit.  I can't recall the yarn I used, but it was cotton and was bought at a lys somewhere in Connecticut right after Jeremy was born.

I remember working on it over Christmas at my parents' house and my mom making fun of how  I held my needles like a child and how my stitches looked soooo uneven. There are a few mistakes on the sweater but I completed it in a few months.  The body of the sweater looks too short for the width and the arms, but I've looked at pictures on Ravelry recently and don't think it was anything that I did wrong.  I think he only wore the sweater 3 times, but I still have it.

so cute in his first (and only) Mom-made sweater

Getting back to Elizabeth Zimmermann...  I remember hearing about her on a podcast.  Maybe Brenda Dayne's Cast-on or Lime and Violet?  There was no Ravelry at time, so I checked her Knitting Workshop and Knitting Without Tears from the library.  I enjoyed looking at the patterns at the time and filed them away in my mind for future projects.  Listening to Paula's podcast Kitting Pipeline these past few months has brought EZ back in my mind.  She occasionally reads letters written to her from EZ, when Paula was still raising her now-grown sons.

I've joined the tens of thousands of knitters (over 16,500 on Ravelry) and have started my first baby surprise jacket for the swim coach's baby-to-be.  I'm using Adriafil knitcol yarn.  It's a dk weight, superwash, self-striping wool yarn and I'm loving how it's striping.


I have no idea what part of the sweater this will be... bottom of back?...front edge? 

Decreases done, starting the increases.  I'm still not sure what I'm knitting, but suspect the decreases somehow form the sleeves.

Aha!  It's starting to look like a cardigan!  First set of increases done, a few straight rows of garter stitch, picked up some stitches, starting the next set of increases. 

 I think I might have a problem.  I still have six rows left to go and I'm seriously low on yarn.  Why didn't I get more yarn?!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Swim Happy

Saturday, I woke up early to take Madelyn to a swim meet.  She was hundredths of a second from qualifying for the state championship meet in March and was putting a lot of pressure on herself every time she raced.  She took .03 seconds from her butterfly which was, unfortunately, not enough to qualify her for the big meet.  She put on a happy face (three more meets until March) and raced the lead-off leg for her team's relay.  Not only did she win the race for her team, her time was fast enough to win a spot on the championship team!  Yay!  We were so excited for her.  So much pressure for a ten year old!

Ok, I know that bit of swim team info doesn't have anything to do with knitting, or sewing or any of my other projects.  It does, however, explain why no one in the family remembered to check the mail.  We were so euphoric when we got home.  We called family, checked hotel rates, went out for dinner... nobody remembered the mailbox until after our trip home from the International House of Pancakes.

As I settled myself for a nice relaxing evening of TV watching, Hubby decided to check the mail and came back inside with a box.  "Crafts Americana?  What the heck is that?"  That's when I jumped off the couch, and yelled, "My yarn!"  Alyson's boyfriend was there to witness my madness as I tore open the box and squealed in delight.  Poor guy.

My yarn!

Alyson requested the Andean Chullo hat on one of her recent perusal of my ravelry page.  The hat is a kit from Knit Picks and since it was only $23 and change for the pattern and all the yarn (9 skeins of palette), I made the order last Monday.  Of course I also had to add a few more items to my shopping cart to get to the $50 minimum for free shipping.  So, I got two skeins of Felici sock yarn in blue/turquoise/purple stripes, some needles and Interweave's Jane Austen Knits, 2011.

The cover scarf, which was originally published in Spin-off magazine last spring as the Helix Scarf, is so adorable and I'd love to knit it for one of my girls or nieces.  So far, my favorite is the  Georgiana shawlette.  Maybe that will also make it in my queue.  I particularly liked the article, "Jane and knitting".  It describes knitting during Jane's lifetime and how women knit to supplement the family income.  "A pair of worsted stockings sold for two to two and half shillings in the shop..."

Speaking of socks, I finished Hubby's boring gray socks and barely got them off the needles before he put them on his feet.  He's getting another pair, but it'll have to wait.  I have to finish the apres-surf hoodie. (I'm still working on the first sleeve.)  Then, I have to start a baby surprise jacket and start thinking about a couple of sweater requests from my nieces.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It all started with paint

my adorable Amy Butler fabric

Painting and redo-ing my sewing room really got my organizational juices flowing.  So much so that I couldn't stop.  I rediscovered so much forgotten fabric, I had to use them to assist with the re-organization.  The first thing I worked on was a  needle case for my interchangeable needles.  I used some Amy Butler fabric that my friend Moira picked up for me years ago on a trip to Vermont (I think).

Here it is all sewn up.  The zippered pocket holds the end caps and key that came with the cords,

I don't have a whole lot of needle tips yet.  I'm collecting them a pair at a time.  I originally bought Knit Picks' starter "try it" set.  It came with a couple of 24" cables, three needle tips (sizes 6,7,&8) in wood, nickel and acrylic.  Since then, I've acquired a couple of more needle sizes (in nickel) and some 36" cables.  I really like these needles.  They're inexpensive and have nice sharp points.  In fact I prefer them over my more expensive addi turbo needles.

The flap goes over the needles,so they don't all come sliding out.  I haven't decided on a closure yet.  Either I'll sew a button and elastic on the back or ribbons, like the della Q cases.

I didn't stop with my needle case.  I found a site called Sew4Home thru my Zite app.  They had a tutorial to make these adorable baskets.

I thought they would be perfect to hold my sewing patterns.  I skipped the rick rack, since I didn't want to make a trip to the store.  Instead, I attached prairie points.

I made five!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I started my Apres Surf Hoodie in the beginning of November for Alyson.  She was out of the country, so I had to make the yarn selection via Skype and Facebook.  Of course, when I finally made the trip to Webs, the colors we picked over the internet either were too garish in person, or there wasn't enough of the same dye lot.  I ended up picking a soft gray alpaca yarn from Classic Elite called Vail

lace chart, picture taken by my phone

The yarn is soft and squishy, I can't keep random children from stroking and fondling the yarn while I knit.    The eight-stitch lace pattern is easy enough to follow and once I got going, easy enough to memorize.  The first problem I encountered was after I set the hoodie aside to knit gifts.  By the time I came back to it, I had lost my rhythm and it took me a few tries to get that rhythm back.  The second problem was discovered after I knit the whole back.  I realized that I had not followed the chart correctly! I completely ignored the first column of the lace chart and only knit the lace repeat.  Stupid me.  No wonder my stitch count was one stitch off!  At least with over a hundred stitches for most of the back, one stitch in the seam won't be noticed at all.

Back, unblocked

I just knitted the front and both pieces, front and back, are being blocked as I type.  The first sleeve has been cast on and I'm regretting not taking the time to convert the pattern to a be knit in the round.  The daunting task of seaming this garment looms over me whenever I finally bind off the last stitch.

Note to self:   Be monogamous when knitting lace.  Do not put it down for another project!

Second note:  stick to knitting-in-the-round or one piece construction.

On another note, I started a pair of very plain, very gray pair of socks for dear Hubby.  Despite all the knitting I do for the family (mostly for the girls), my men are sadly without any hand-knitted goods.  Though, I've asked them many times if they wanted a sweater, neither of them have taken the bait.  To be fair, I  knitted my first sweater for my son. But since he only wore the sweater twice, I didn't want to make the effort again.

first sock done. Yay!

Just before Christmas, Hubby was complaining about his consistently cold feet.  "Wool socks," I proclaimed, "is just what you need!"  Hubby's stipulations were:  nothing fancy, no crazy colors!  Yeesh!  It's going to be a boring knit!

I cast on Hubby's first wool sock with Valley Yarn's Charlemont on the three-hour-trip to the airport to pick up Alyson.  Slow knitter that I am, I hope I finish the second sock before winter's done.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My iPhone

I finally got the iPhone that I've been coveting.  I've had it for almost two months and absolutely love it!  This is the first time that I've actually gotten a piece of technology while it was still new.  All my previous toys were bought after the next model was released and therefore discounted.  I guess it's the immigrant thriftiness that my parents instilled in me.  Why buy something full-priced when you can wait until it goes on sale?  Well, everyone deserves a treat once in a while.

Aside from keeping my calendar organized,  my emails accessible, and a decent camera always in my pocket, it's also made my knitting more productive!  I took a picture of a small lace chart and had it with me when I forgot to stick the pattern in my knitting bag.  I even emailed a pdf copy of a pattern to myself so I didn't have to waste paper and print it out.  Granted, the hat pattern was very short and I didn't have to refer to it too often.

There's a few knitting apps out there, but nothing really appealed to me.  I wish there was a Ravelry app.  That would be very convenient.  I do have access to Ravelry on my phone, but I have to open Safari (the web-browsing app) first and then go to Ravelry online.

So here are a few apps that I've been enjoying:

IMDB- the internet movie data-base because Hubby likes to watch movies from the middle and I hate not knowing what the heck we're watching.

Zite-Alyson showed me this one.  It's a  magazine that pulls articles from the internet from a personalized set of interests.

Facebook-it's facebook on your phone.  No explanations necessary.

Key Ring-this is the app for you if you have a wallet bulging from all the different store loyalty cards.  You can scan them all into your phone and toss those pesky cards out.

Google and Wikipedia- these are handy. Only so you don't have to open Safari first to look something up.

I haven't even mention the original reason for me wanting to get an iphone:  listening to my audiobooks!  I never have to juggle phone and ipod when I'm out and about.  I'm still listening to my ipod when I'm in the house, otherwise I run down my iphone batteries too fast.

Right now, I'm almost done listening to Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.  Barabara Rosenblat does a great job narrating.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Project of the Year

I've already started and mostly finished my first project of the year.  I emptied out my study/sewing room, painted it and reorganized it as my sewing/craft room.  I neglected to take a "before" shot of the room, but since I started stripping the room on the 30th of December it technically doesn't go against my new year resolution of "take more pictures".  I did manage to remember to take pictures after I had already painted the room.   I had enough leftover paint (the blue paint from the basement that was painted over) to give the walls two coats, I didn't spend any new money on paint.  The shelving was another story.  I spent almost $300 and I want more.

After the first coat

Hubby measured the wall, bought and installed the shelving...

All during the moving in process, Hubby kept saying, "See? You have plenty of shelving."  Then he would say that I have 40 feet of linear storage or X amount of square footage... such an engineer!  I'm not quite all moved in yet.  He doesn't understand that I had my fabric and yarn and supplies all over the house.

I have room for a few more shelves!

See the left lower corner next to the rolling drawers?  There's room there for a small sewing table for my second sewing machine.

I even moved a chair in, so Hubby could watch TV.
This blank space will be a flannel design wall!
By the way, the small pictures were taken with my new iPhone!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012!

I say this every year, and I mean it every time.  I finally get used to writing "2011" in my checkbook and it's already another year!  Is it my age that makes time seem to race by me or is it because I'm busier than ever?  That seems to be the two running theories my friends give me when I ask them why time flies.  I remember in grade school when a week would crawl by and summer vacations seemed to last forever!  

As tradition dictates, I will make (and probably break) my New Year's Resolutions:

*Eat healthier, workout consistently, lose some weight... yada, yada, yada.  Everyone make this resolution.

*Make more blog posts, take more pictures.  I averaged about two a month last year, with most of my posts at the end of the year.   I'm shooting for at least once a week this year.  Let's see how long that'll last!

*Finish two really old U.F.O.'s (As in, ten years and counting).

*Stay organized.  I'm actually really good at organizing my stuff.  Anything from my yarn and fabric to the family documents.  Staying organized and following my own organizational rules, on the other hand, is my problem.  

That looks like a short list.  But, hey, maybe I'll have some success with this year's resolutions.