Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Your Opinions Are Appreciated........

Just yesterday I was asked to knit pieces for two different school auctions. So out came the stitch dictionaries, and armed with yarn retrieved from Stash, I spent last evening swatching.

This is what I came up with...........

Now, I like this pattern, even though it is rather solid, as lace goes. The yarn is a fingering weight welsh wool in an awesome shade of purple. The color rocks. I just don't know if those wavey curves do the yarn justice. The rhythmic-ness of the curves strike me, somehow. I might need to go up a needle size to make the shawl a little more open, however.

I welcome your comments. I gotta make a decision on this ASAP.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Finished, Almost

Finished the first of the baby blankets I am knitting from "Blankets, Hats and Booties to Knit and Crochet" by Kristen Spurkland. The Rose Leaf Blanket. Well, it's finished, except for the blocking. Here 'tis:

As you can see it is hanging out on my blocking board. I've never blocked a cotton piece before, so I'm hoping that wet blocking wasn't a totally bad idea. It's January, it might take a month to dry now - as I happen to be kind of stingy with the heat in my house.

Here is a close up of the lace border:

I really liked knitting this, even though I've never really been a fan of cotton. The blankets in this book are changing my mind. I also feel a bit righteous, because this is the result of stash-diving. Now to just find someone to give it to....

Now, I did make ONE change to this pattern. When knitting the body of the blanket, the original pattern called for Kf&b to create the increases. The look didn't thrill me to the core, so I opted for M1R and M1L one stitch away from the corner for a more symmetrical look. Just a personal preference, but I like the way the corners turn out doing it my way. Besides, I hadn't done "make ones" for a while, and it is nice to get back into practice on that.

I also finished a hat that doesn't really deserve a picture. Hat was meant for Hubby, but ended up fitting #3 son. Either I have an issue with hat sizing, or the men in my family have HUGE heads!

So now that I am over my "startup-itis." I am on to the second of the blankets I want to make from that book. This one actually has a recipient in mind. #3's teacher's wife is having a baby in May. Gotta do a blanket for a new baby girl. I might try to find something cute to make for big sister, too. Maybe a new stuffed toy.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yarn Crawl!

Saturday was such an adventure! A group of intrepid ladies - and one very faithful Husband - took the train from Seattle to Portland to prowl the Pearl District in search of yummy, yummy yarn. All I can say is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Up at o'dark-hundred to be at King Street Station by 6:30am. Only the lure of Portland yarn shops - where they don't have sales tax - would get me out of bed at 5:30am on a Saturday! I had heard there were about 25 to 30 of us crawling to Portland. In reality, there were about 50! Fifty wonderful people bundled in handknits and outfitted in comfy shoes raring to get on that train. Massive props MUST go to Charisa - probably the most incredibly organized person on the planet! She organized the train, contacted the yarn shops to negotiate discounts and freebies, created maps, and kept us all informed about the trip. She is a wonder, beyond doubt. This woman could have organized the invasion of Normandy!

My first train ride. It wasn't what I was expecting, really. A lot slower than I assumed it would be. I knew we would be making a lot of stops, but hey now. Tukwila, Auburn, Tacoma, Yelm, Olympia, Centrailia, Longview/Kelso, Vancouver and THEN Portland. The Amtrak Pacific Cascades is a nice trip - sometimes it goes along the water and there are some nice views - but this wasn't no Japanese bullet train. Still, it was three and a half hours, where you got to knit and chat, and chat and knit; meet new people and find out about Kristen's (sorry, no picture), knitting injury. She jammed a 10.5 dpn into her foot......lengthwise! Need I say more? ACK! So all of us pussies that gripe about stiff necks and sore wrists because of knitting can hush up! Kristen has Shed Blood for her art!!

We arrived at Portland, and off we went! There are three, count 'em THREE yarn shops within easy walking distance of the train. We broke off into more manageable groups; with Alysa (nearly as intrepid and smart as Charisa!) in the lead, we headed off to Dublin Bay Yarn. The folks there were great, and the owner's mom had made scones and cookies for us. Mom makes some wicked scones! She's a keeper. They had a lot of lovely stuff, a bunch of yarns imported from Ireland. And the Handmaiden! Oh the Handmaiden! I bought a single skein of's MINE, and nobody gets it but me! - my precious - I resisted the urge to buy something I had never seen from Handmaiden....Camelspin. Camel and silk amazingly hand-dyed the way only Ms. Handmaiden knows how. Beyond yummy! Next time, I doubt I will be as strong.

Off to Knit Knot Studio, run by Elizabeth Presiewicz - a lovely lady in a teeny tiny shop with some of the most decadent stuff around. Found a lovely skein of soft, browny, gold-flecked sparkly stuff. Elizabeth had a wonderful simple scarf/shawl pattern for this yarn (offically, Blue Heron Yarn Rayon Metallic in the chocolate colorway), that is now going to become one of the basics in my evening wear wardrobe. Now I just need to buy the dress to go with the yarn.

Then it was off to our final yarn stop, Knit/Purl, home of ShiBui yarn. Here I was introduced to the joys of ShiBui, Habu yarns (silk and bamboo, Yummy!) and the wall of KOIGU!!

This is the entirety of my yarn haul - Habu Bamboo Laceweight(lavender), 3 cones of Habu Silk Laceweight (mossy green), ShiBui fingering weight (the rust colored one - the green one I bought to go with it is hiding), the Blue Heron Rayon Metallic (chocolately), the Handmaiden (jewel colored hand-dyed); and the Zen Yarn Garden sock weight (pinkish/lavenderish hand-dyed). I guess I am knitting a lot of lace real soon.

Theoretically, I should not contemplate buying ANY yarn for quite a while......yeah, right.

Our final stop, was POWELL'S CITY OF BOOKS - otherwise known as "Mecca" to bibliophiles. Apparently, reading and knitting go together, because we ran into a lot of fellow-crawlers at Powell's. Amazingly enough, in the knitting books section! Go figure. This is the second time I have been to Powell's, and I have yet to make it to the second floor (unless you count the trip to the bathroom AND to take this picture.

Imagine.....this bookstore looks like this for three or four floors in a building an entire city block long! Next time, I'm starting on the top floor and working my way down!

Finally, walked, shopped and yarned out, we headed gratefully back to the train station for the return trip. Strangely enough, we were ALL back early. The Crawl was a blast and a half - but too much of a wonderful thing can wear you down.

So, ah, Charisa.....when's the next trip???

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Got Beer!

Last night, DH bottled batch #2 of his homebrew. This was an amber ale, and ya know what, even uncarbonated it tasted pretty good! In two or three weeks, We'll have a nice amber ale to sip - can we say Superbowl Party?

Here's my man bottling up his ale.

Doesn't he just look like a burly-outdoorsy-man. Well, he is, but the plaid shirt and the boots make him look like we live in the Yukon, not suburban Seattle. But it was snowy yesterday. And the beard covers the baby face. Not that I mind the baby-face, but I hate it when people think he's younger than me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snow. AGAIN?

It has snowed for the second time in a month. In most places in the northern United States, this would not be remarkable. But this is Washington, for Pete's Sake. It does not snow here on a regular basis - except on our ski slopes - where snow belongs! The kids had a one hour late start at school today. Not really a big deal, but not much help in the "waiting until it melts a bit" department either. If you were careful, driving was no big deal......except for being stuck behind an incredibly stupid woman that was driving up the rather steep hill up to the elementary school at FIVE miles per hour, while talking on her cell phone. Hang up the Friggin' Phone Bimbo!! I am not one of those cell phone hatin' people, but there are times when driving and talking is really stupid, and today is one of them! Now, it is cold, and the sun is shining, sky is blue, and it promises to get below freezing tonight. If you thought driving around today was fun.....wait until tomorrow morning, when the lovely sheet of ice is where the mushy snow is now.

But while I am comfy and warm and the snow is still pretty, I will share a picture of snow on my favorite Japanese Maple tree in my front yard.

The morning was spent watching Season 1, Disc 2 of The Tudors and working on some socks for ME! The work continues apace.

I love the colors in this yarn. Usually I'm not a huge purple fan, but that Trekking XXL just knows how to put colors together.

Why is it, once you get past the heel decreases on the first sock - the rest just blazes by? I am still working on the baby blanket, but I like the progress I'm making on these socks, too.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just Noodlin' Along.............

Pretty much a quiet weekend. #3 had a basketball game, we had lunch at XXX Burger afterward. And NO, it is not a combination porn theater and drive-in. It is really called "XXX(triple x)Burger."

Sunday, #3 and I went to a reading by one of my favorite authors - Eoin Colfer. He is the sweetest Irish man who writes the Artemis Fowl series of children's books. He has a new non-Artemis book out called "Airman." Quite a fun read. #3 was hesitant to go to the reading, but a promise to eat lunch at Dick's Drive-in got him to go along. Now, he thinks Mr. Colfer is way cool, too. I just sat at the back of the room listening to him talk and knitting on the rose lace baby blanket. I could listen to Eoin Colfer talk all day. I am a sucker for a good Irish or Scottish accent! Successfully got the lace edging past the first corner and am ambling down the second side of the blanket. Granted, it's not terribly hard, but it is helping me understand about knitting on lace edges. I've done them before, but never with much confidence. This project is going a long way to increasing my confidence.

Also picked up the socks I started for myself months ago. Socks are perfect running around knitting, so I am hoping I will get quite a bit of this done in the next few days. I want a snazzy pair of purple socks!

Now I have to run off to the doctor to get my neck and back looked at. I have been having a bit of pain lately, and it is no longer fun.

Friday, January 11, 2008

All Over The Damn Place

After a highly productive holiday knitting season, I am now confronted with a bad case of "which way do I go." I had to go sit with my mom in the hospital yesterday - no worries, all is fine - so I stuffed my knitting bag with no less that FIVE projects. I just couldn't decide what to focus on. This is what I would consider "active" at this moment:

Bias squares to get my High School Charity Knitting group started on blankets for Afghans for Afghans. I've got enough yarn to do several blankets, so I'm hoping to get the kids all excited about this project. I inherited this beautiful wool from a cousin-in-laws mother. She would have liked seeing this yarn made into something to warm children in a struggling country, so I save this yarn for charity knitting. I don't even count it as part of my personal stash. I am it's custodian until it can be made into positive things.

A pair of socks for myself, that I started before the holidays fell on me hard. Maybe I can get them finished sometime soon. I need a new pair of socks!

A wonderful cotton baby blanket I started after I finished the holiday knitting. The pattern is from "Blankets, Hats and Booties to Knit and Crochet" by Kristen Spurkland. It has some great patterns if you are in the mood for some baby blanket knitting. I have the body of the blanket done, and have to still knit on the lace edging. Totally the reason for the whole blanket, IMO.

And this is one of two hats I have started. This is the boring hat my husband wanted. Three by two ribbing, long enough to turn up the brim, in a good hunting hat color. Yawn! The other is in such a nacent stage, it doesn't even photograph well.

And then there is THIS:

The Summer Shawlette I started for my mother, oh MONTHS ago, and decided I should finish. I had less than a dozen rows to finish, shouldn't take more than an hour or so, right?.......Do any of you who are familiar with this pattern notice something missing? How about, the LITTLE ARROWHEAD LACE panel that is supposed to be running down the back! Sooooooo that one has been sent to the frog pond. Besides, I found another faroese-style shawl that I liked the look of better to make for my mom, so I'm going to replace this dismal failure with something better. But I have to look on the bright side. If several people I know have girl babies, I am totally ready to make cute little baby sweaters with the five or six skeins of Blue Sky Organic Cotton that I had bought for the shawlette. Actually, if five or six strangers I know have girl babies, they might get sweaters!

Hopefully, I will have something finished soon to show you all.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Still Rollin'

Finished another beanie last night. It was made from the yarn remains of the earflap beanie. Even though I don't do browns much, these colors really strike me. The Pattern came from a search on Ravelry. It's the Solstice Hat, with a few alterations - changing it from a child's had done in a bulky yarn to an adult hat done in worsted.

Here are the changes, in case you are interested:

. Needle sizes 6 and 7
. Worsted weight yarn (I used Cascade 220 Superwash)
. Cast on 108 stitches
. Six rows of ribbing instead of 3
. Three rounds of plain knit before starting the fair isle pattern (three rounds
after, too.)
. Two additional rounds before starting the crown decreases.
. Start the decreases with K 16, K2tog - and work down to six, as the directions
indicate from there.

And here is the finished product:

And now on to a beanie for hubby! He feels so abused, not having a wife-made beanie. He will be better once I get a warm little cap on his head.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I'm On A Roll!

Organization and domesticity struck hard today. Must have been yesterday's bread baking that prompted me to plan dinner menus for the entire week; shop for the food; and then come home and pre-assemble four of the seven meals I planned. I was all done cooking tonights dinner, and pre-cooking two other night's dinners; before 6pm! One of the meals was already lurking in my freezer from a previous brush with Martha Stewart-itis, so I only had to slap together two extra meals. Lord how I love easy to please families Now, I all have to do is get my kids to do the dishes I dirtied in my cooking-frenzy..........

On the knitting front, I finished the long anticipated ear-flap beanie for #2 son.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Beer and Bread

Looking for an original present for Dear Hubby at Christmas, I hit upon the idea of giving him a home brewing kit. We are barely two weeks beyond Christmas, and hubby has already made one batch of beer - that is happily fermented, bottled and carbonating as we speak. Batch #2 is in the barrel doing its fermenting thing right now.

One of the byproducts of homebrewing is a crapload of whole grain. What starts out as about 2 cups of grain when it is dry, turns into about 8 cups when it has been steeped to make beer. What to do with this soppy, odd-smelling stuff? You make Spent Grain Bread! A quick check of the inter-web yielded several recipes to try. Strangely enough, most of them were connected to home-brewing sites, go figure! This is my first effort. Waddaya think?

Hot out of the oven, it tasted pretty good. I will need to sample a second slice after it cools a bit more to catch the depth of flavor. I'm already thinking of ways to "tweak" the recipe - honey or molasses instead of sugar should compliment the grains better. I'm thinking there may be more breadmaking in my future.

Just the two brief exposures I have had to the homebrew supply store has made it clear to me that baking and making beer goes hand-in-hand. This could be fun!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiipppp It!

I was knitting along on this lovely drop stitch shawl for our cousin-in-law who turns 40 today. I knew I was going to get it done in time when I started the bind-off last night. It should look like this:

I used the same yarn, the same color even........

What did mine look like? A droopy, saggy mess! The drop stitches were too "droppy" the panels of stockinette between the drop stitches were limp and lifeless. My only option was to rip it out. What I am going to do with three skeins of Soysilk Oasis? I can return the other three skeins (I planned to make one for myself, too). But now I have to find something to make with 600+ yarns of Soysilk, that doesn't involve dropstitches! Did I mention I never really liked dropstitches?

So now I am back to working on the lovely lace edging for a baby blanket from this book

I am in love with this book. There is a boatload of beautiful baby blankets in there. I plan to make at least four of them, and have the yarn already for three. And Spurkland (the author) shows you how to line knitted baby blankets with flannel. I LOVE this girl!!

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I know, I have already been here today. Don't count on this happening a lot.

Generally, I am not a political person. I don't vote party - EVER. I vote the person. Let's establish that at the beginning of this election year. But......Obama won the D Caucus in Iowa!! I'm happy but stunned. Hillary came in third! Cracks me up, CNN seems to be so surprised that Hilary didn't get all of the female vote (is that the right term for a caucus?). Women don't universally like Hillary just because she is a woman. I doubt all African-Americans like Obama because he's black, or all Mormons like Romney because he is Mormon. What if you were a black, mormon, would the pollsters count you?

I love this one: Knitters for Obama

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The 2007 Count

I have noticed that several bloggers have done end-of-year knitting inventories. I might give this a try, but since I only really keep track of my sock-knitting, this could be a bit of a challenge.......

This is what I came up with:

8 pair of socks;
7 Fair Isle hats (can you tell I learned to fair isle this year?);
4 or 5 shawls (since I give most away, can't be sure);
2 baby blankets;
3 charity scarves;
2 Tilli Thomas bags (none for me!);
1 Xmas stocking;
2 baby sweaters;
3 pair Fetching mitts started Summer of 06, thumbs finally added Fall of 07.

That is all I can recall. The big questions is....what UFO's do I still have:

A sweater for me that I started in 2003(?) and just needs sewing up;
A pair of fingerless gloves (started last summer);
A pair of socks for me (started before the holiday knitting frenzy);
A sweater for #2 son (ditto);
A graduation afghan for #1 son (he graduated HS in 2004);
A baby blanket (started after holiday knitting frenzy);
A shawl for a cousin (needs to be done by THIS Saturday);
A shawl for my mom (oh, we won't discuss this!);
A felted purse (that is mostly knitted, and I am NOT loving);

Strangely enough, I actually DO finish the books I read!!