Sunday, June 24, 2012

everybody's workin' for the...

so i got a job.  yup.  and i am thankful and glad.  it is great becoming part of a new community;  it is great doing something i enjoy and i am having fun.  the challenging side is i am scheduled to work 55 hours a week.  yup.  scheduled.  for 55 hours.  a week.  and i do that, if not more.  yup.  i am an hr slave.

sigh.  so it goes.

but i get to knit.  during lunch, in the break room.  or i walk to the nearby taco bell, buy a drink and sit and knit.  while knitting in the break room the other day, i met another knitter. a young man who makes up his own patterns.  we discovered we have knitted the same boy hats.  small knitting world.

the second week into the job, i went to the car to drive to work and noticed things looked a bit odd inside the car, like everything had been rummaged through.   i have this habit of leaving the windows down an inch or so.  well apparently someone worked that inch or so to break into the car.  as a rule i don't leave many things in the car.  but the day before, i had left my trusty yellow tote in the car.  in the trusty yellow tote were a bunch of work files, various little cosmetic type bags filled with items like band aids, neosporin, wipes, extra phone charger, all my cool pens and markers and, most horrifically, my knitting bag.  the thief left the bunch of work files, but took everything else.  including my knitting bag.  and inside the knitting bag was a lovely pair of socks i was knitting for my sister.  i had just turned the second heel, which meant i was on the home stretch. needless to say, i was beyond unhappy.  not only for losing my trusty tote, which i adored, but for losing my knitting.  why would anyone take knitting?  especially since the knitting pattern was left with all the work stuff!  it's not like the thief is going to finish knitting the socks!

this happened almost two months ago and as you can see, i am not quite over losing my knitting.  i have thought of going to the local knitting stores in hopes some non-knitter who may have come across the trusty yellow tote that had a blue and white flowered bag with knitting inside would have taken it to an LYS since they didn't know how to knit.  but it just sounds so...desperate or irrational to do that when i should be letting go and moving on.

i have had my sister pick out a new sock yarn from the ones i had in my stash.  and i will find a suitable pattern for her that will look good in the yarn.  but...

and so in honor of the socks that will never be finished, here is a picture of the one that was finished and the one i was working on.  deets:  sock yarn:  panda cotton;  colorway(s):  misty green and dotty pastel ( i was making one in each colorway; long story);  pattern:  soybean sock by christobel seneque.  lovely pattern, easy to memorize, worked well with the softness of the yarn and it was really cute.   i may make it again using this yarn.  but i will never leave it or any other knitting  in the car again!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

socks, socks, socks, socks...

i now understand why people love to wear hand knit socks. it is like walking on a little slice of heaven that keep feet and toes toasty warm.  there is a strong temptation to wear hand knit socks 24/7, which is good in theory, but.....  how do i know this, because after years of knitting socks for other people, i have finally finished a couple of pairs for me.  yeah. so excited. here are the deets...

the first pair is a short sock, knit from crystal palaces panda cotton print. this yarn is mostly bamboo, some cotton and a touch of elastic.  i came up with the pattern myself, and i am not thrilled with it.  one, the pattern is to big and the yarn is very soft and floppy which makes for a big, soft and  floppy sock.  two, since the sock is big, soft and floppy, it slips and slides on my foot, which is a bit annoying.  i even washed them by machine and threw them into the dryer for a few moments in hopes they would shrink up.  no such luck. they trick me into being semi-fitting, but once i wear them for awhile, turn back into big, soft and floppy.  and, since they are short, my ankles get cold.  but i learned a lot about pattern making, which i will hopefully retain for the next time i decide to punt on a pattern.

i got the yarn during the lys', "last month in existence sale", last summer.  for some irrational and un-explainable reason i thought one 170 yd ball of yarn would be enough yarn for two short socks.  i have no idea what i was thinking because if i had thought about it for more than two seconds, i would have realized this wasn't enough yarn and purchased accordingly.  as it was, i did not realize it wasn't enough yarn until i was rather close to the toe of the first sock.  since i no longer had the lys, i had to find a reasonable facsimile yarn.  to the web i went where jimmy beans had gobs of this yarn for dirt cheap (since it was being discontinued).  so i bought a bunch to make it worth the shipping charges.  unfortunately none of the colors matched what i had previously purchased.  so necessity being the mother of invention, i decided i would make the cuff and toe out of one color with the body of the sock out of the other color.  then i would flip the scheme on the other sock.  i have done this before with very cute results.  except it was better in theory then in reality for this colorway.  not real excited about it.  and though i like the feel of the yarn, it splits...a lot.  which can be a bit of a challenge when k2tog or ssk-ing.  so on the whole, i give these socks a 4 out of 10.

the second pair was on the needles for over two years only because knitting gift projects was more of a priority.  the yarn is a sockpixie merino sock and the colorway is collette.  i have to say, i love this yarn, as i love all of sockpixies yarns.  the colorway was from her french women writers series.  being a huge collette fan, i am thankful i answered the call of the yarn.  the yarn itself is soft and squishy, easy to work with, looks great when washed, durable (read below) and beautifully dyed, even when the colors pool (which i really don't worry about).  i am sorry sockpixie yarns are no longer consistently available, because i am a big fan.

the original plan for this yarn was to knit a pattern from charlene schurchs, sensational knitted socks.  since i had recently completed a 4 stitch pattern, i wanted to expand my horizons to a 6 or more stitch pattern.  so i picked a pattern, cast on, and knitted away.  the 2x2 rib looked GREAT in the colorway, but would lose its spirit once it got to the actual pattern.  so i frogged, picked another pattern and repeated above. i did this about five times, even consciously acknowledging on the fifth try that the 2x2 rib looked great while the pattern fell flat.  after the fifth frog, the light bulb went off...the colorway looks great in a 4 stitch pattern!  duh!!  so i picked a 4 stitch pattern and the socks came to life.

the openwork rib pattern was simple with a touch of yarn-overs for some interest.  plus it was easy to memorize and keep track of so i could take it with me everywhere.

i find that socks knit from this book are a gem.  their construction makes sense, they are easy to knit and the finished product wears well.  if there wasn't an abundance of amazing sock patterns available, i would be quite content to knit every sock pattern out of this book.  i would even consider learning the toe up method...well, not really.

i love these socks and find every excuse to wear them.  and since i am from northern california and can legitimately wear socks with my birkenstock sandals, i show these socks off every chance i get.  yup, being a sock knitter is pretty fun!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

i'm dreaming of a...

since relocation, i have been looking for a job non-stop. seriously non-stop.  so a week or so before christmas, when i was totally stressed about lack of funds for holiday celebrating, i realized i had time to knit.  like, time to knit actual christmas presents without having to stay up all night.  and since the people i was knitting for worked during the day, i could knit all day on their presents and they would never know!  wow! a novel concept.

the goal was to use yarn from my stash.  everyone in the girl house needed items to keep their hands warm.  i knew i had some rowan cocoon in the loveliest shade of gray (#803-scree) that i could use for fingerless mitts for my favorite sister. i looked through ravelry for a pattern and found joelene wiggins' "cabled fingerless mitts" pattern and decided to give it a whirl.  it is a lovely pattern that was a easy, quick knit.  and i mean quick.  as the slowest knitter on the planet, when i can knit a pair of mitts in three days, that is a quick knit.

i did do some mods though. i made the mitt longer as a whole, cuff was a total of 3 inches long;  added an extra cable repeat so the mitt hand would be longer;  added 2-3 rows of ribbing to cover the fingers more; did extra rows on the thumb, and switched cables on the hands so they weren't the same.  they came out wonderfully.  the yarn is warm and soft with just the right amount of bulk to hold the pattern but still comfortable to wear.

my sweet friend saw what i was knitting for her aunt and fell in love with them. in fact she wanted to wear  them all the time.  the original plan was to make her  mittens out of a frog tree sport weight alpaca that i had in my stash, and use sock pixies - pixie warmers pattern.  but it just wasn't calling my name.  i started it and it seemed so airy and light i felt it wouldn't keep the hands as warm as the cocoon would.

and though i am not fond of making the same pattern twice, i knew she loved the pattern and the yarn.  so i scraped some money together and bought another skein of cocoon.  this time in a beautiful teal (#813-seascape).  and they are stunning.  i love the color and so did she.

thankfully both girls love their mitts and wear them all the time.  which brings me to the big guy.  who walked in the door two days before christmas and announced he could really use a black beanie.  seriously!?  you couldn't have let me know sooner?

so i dive into my stash.  first off, i don't have any black yarn so i go for some misti alpaca baby suri alpaca and silk in a dark gray.  i tried it with a couple of simple rib patterns but it wasn't calling my name. so using some christmas money i bought a hank of malabrigo twist, but not in black.  after a bit of thought, i decided to exchange it for a hank of black since black was what he wanted, instead of a colorway i wanted to knit with.

the pattern was elizabeth heath-heckmans, "the boy hat".  a wonderful pattern;   another quick and easy knit.  the only thing was it came out a bit short.  since the big guy isn't living in the girl house, i was unable to measure the hat on his head while it was being knitted.  and though i measured the big guys head numerous ways to ensure i would get the beanie length correct, it was much shorter than i anticipated.  a case of should have trusted the pattern instructions.  he likes and wears it, but it does need to be longer.

after the holiday celebrations, i decided i needed a pair of fingerless mitts.  i had long lusted over the maine morning mitts in claire parks "book of yarn".  my plan was to use some rowan cashsoft aran in a very delicate pink.  got the right gauge and off i went.  for a little while.  after knitting with the bulky yarn and seeing how soft and wonderful it was, i wanted something like it.  so i frogged what i knit, added a cashsoft dk in a very delicate lavender to the mix, got the right gauge and off i went.  i was in love.  i was concerned they would be a little stiff since two strands of yarn were being used and hoped they would soften up with wear/use.  they were and they did.  i love them.  i wear them all the time.  i did not bind off in pattern so i have a ridge at the top.  i sort of like it, though in the future i will probably bind off in pattern.

it was nice to knit things in time for holiday gift giving.  the recipients really appreciated it.  still could use a job though!

(oh, and btw, i only have one sister. just in case you thought i was playing favorites!)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

and so it is christmas...

i am living in a girls house.  no i haven't been sent there because of the bad things i do, but because my life has changed.  my sweet friend and i relocated to my sisters house which is about 1.5 hours from where we used to live.  the big guy is still there, staying with friends who offered a room so he could continue the life he is making for himself.  and the person who used to be my husband lives on the coast across country from here.

so we are experiencing new perspectives.  i am relearning things that somehow got lost in the shuffle.  and i am trying to be at peace.

knitting helps.  it keeps me focused and quiet; creating something lovely for someone,  maybe even me.

and though i know everything happens for a reason and it will all work out in the end, this transition makes me feel blurry and unfocused.

and so i keep knitting.  i have most of my knitting items here;  i think there is a box of knitting books in storage which i could probably locate if needed, but for the most part, i have what i need to continue creating things.  and i have the love and support of my children and friends.  that is quite a gift at christmas.  may your holidays be as full.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

somewhere beyond the sea...

i love yarn overs.  they're cute, they're decorative and they are easy to do.  they were in the first item i knitted.  i think they add a little something to a project.  and they are the first step to lace knitting.

i have always been drawn to knitting lace, heaven knows why since i can't read charts.  but ever since i started knitting i have been entranced by lace patterns. a hint of lace is what draws me to a pattern. i have books on lace and have downloaded gobs of  lace patterns. i look at them longingly, aching to cast on, until i break out into a cold sweat when reading a pattern that is all charts.  sigh.

a few years ago while participating in my first swap, i was introduced to the pattern "blossom".  this is a easy lace pattern shawl.  it was designed for hand maiden sea silk yarn which is a beautiful yarn made of silk and a sea weed derivative.  it is beautiful, believe me.  my swap buddy gave me a hank of the yarn and suggested the pattern.  i was mesmerized.  the yarn was so amazingly blue and shimmery.  and the pattern!  it was nothing but double yarn overs!  i was in heaven.

but i didn't cast on.

i can't remember how it happened, it must have been because i was working at the LYS and the yarn was on sale, but i decided to make my mother the blossom shawl out of elsbeth lavolds silky wool.  this is a tweedy looking wool, but very soft when knit up.  and when it is washed, it is quite lovely.

the shawl took me quite a while.  i couldn't figure out how to keep track of where i was in the seven row repeat.  and i couldn't find my rhythm in the various double yarn over and k2tog patterns so was continually having to rip my knitting;  i also had a challenging time reading my knitting so when i made a mistake i couldn't figure out where i made it, i just knew a mistake had been made because the pattern ended incorrectly.  somewhere in the fifth repeat of the pattern  i got to a place where everything was correct, i knew where i was and i put the project aside.

fast forward two-ish years. i decide it is time to clean up some unfinished projects so out comes blossom.  i figure out where i am, glance at the pattern and off i go.  amazing what a few more years of knitting experience teaches you. not only did i find my rhythm in the various double yarn over patterns, but i could also read my knitting and correct my mistakes.  amazing!  i was so thankful.  so i finish the shawl and gift it to my mother;  who loved it!  the color and fit were perfect for her!  she couldn't wait to wear it to church!

(commercial break for some yarn deets:  yarn:  elsebeth lavold silky wool;  color:  #24, claret (discontinued); yardage: 192 yds per skein; close to 3 skeins used.)

finishing my moms blossom meant i could now start mine.  eagerly i cast on the sea silk.  quickly i discover how slippery silk is.  wow!  i was instantly thankful i had made blossom out of a heftier yarn first because this yarn was so slippery on the needle.  stitches regularly slip under the markers or under other stitches so i have to pay attention to which stitch is where and are they all accounted for.

but can i tell you how beautiful this yarn is.  it is like running water.  the picture doesn't do it justice since it does not catch the light or the oh so slight variegations in the yarn.  it is so lovely.  and it shimmers.  the picture is one repeat over half-way done.  i am at the stage where i think i will have gobs of yarn left over and then the pattern explodes into bigness and sucks up all the yarn.  pretty soon it will barely fit the 26" circulars it is on.  at that point i will need to be very careful not to make mistakes.  knitting back over hundreds of stitches to correct a mistake is not my idea of a good time!  but on the other hand, i can't wait.  it is closer to being finished then not being finished, which makes me more anxious to finish it which makes me more prone to make a mistake.  sigh.  i'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a whiter shade of...

i have this thing about weird greens.

i am not really drawn to the color green much, but it seems to be drawn to me. and it can't be a regular green, it has to be a weird shade of green. it seems that i can wear weird greens, they look good on me. which is an odd and good thing since weird greens are usually the last thing to sell on a sale/clearance rack. whether it be for clothes or yarn.

i have always wanted to knit the paris loop which calls for bulky yarn. and while the lys was having its "last month in existence sale", i thought i would check out the bulky yarn shelf. and what was on it but this...

yup, weird green yarn. gobs of it. thankfully it was a yarn i have always wanted to work with, classic elites sprout, a 100% organic cotton yarn. i usually find cotton yarns a bit rough but this one is soft and cuddly so i was glad to have the opportunity to work with it.

so i cast on. and even though the pattern said it fits every body, i decided to add 20 stitches. just in case.

bad idea. this pattern turns out big, very big. so big that when i first tried it on, it slipped off my shoulders and landed on the floor big. it would have been big even if i hadn't added the 20 stitches, so with the 20 stitches it was even bigger than big.

so i went down to the local joannes fabric and got some cord. i wove the cord in and out of the 2nd row of knitting so i could tighten up the poncho as needed and ta-da! it fits!

i am so glad. because i love the way it turned out. the pattern is so easy it is like a knitting vacation. and i loved working with the yarn. it felt good going through my fingers and it knit up really well. the poncho felt soft and comforting in my lap as it became bigger with my continued knitting.
my original concerns in knitting with a cotton yarn is that it would not be soft and it would not have enough give. both unfounded. the yarn is very soft and has lots of give. as well as being pretty warm. i thought cotton would be a nice, light wrap for summer, but because of the yarns bulky-ness it is heavy and and keeps me warm, even with our cool evening windiness.

i find myself wearing it all the time. yup, i'll have an order of weird green please. thanks!

btw: this last picture does not reflect the actual color of this garment. the middle picture is a much better representation of the actual color. just so you know!

Monday, August 22, 2011

trying to make the grass grow greener

i like plants. i think they add something to a home.

for a long time i had a whole window sill of african violets. there wasn't a good windowsill for them in the new house. they gave it a good try, but the sun won out in the end.

late last summer, we got a puppy who chewed and dug out all of the house plants i had thriving in a corner of the dining room. thankfulluy i was able to salvage one of the christmas cactus'.

she then started on the outside succulents and begonias. i wasn't happy. but, like babies, puppies have no clue. especially this one. so i continued to water and fertilize those poor stumps of plants, hoping they would come back.

the winter storms took care of winter watering. and i started watering and fertilizing after the rains finally stopped. yesterday i went onto the patio and walked out to these.

i love begonias. they are funny little plants that never give up. they are so glad for some attention and care, they just bloom their happiness.

and thankfully they survive being chewed by a puppy.

now if i could do something about the roses....