Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Thanks, everyone, for all the complements on my sewing. I'll show you the rest of it when the nursery is finished, which should be next month sometime!

I went out in the 80 degree weather this weekend and strung lights on the house, and we picked out a fresh tree and brought it home and I decorated it, and whaddyaknow, it's been cold and wintery all week. I've even been listening to a little Christmas music.

All decorated

I've even done a little Christmas knitting and spinning. First, an ornament for a gift exchange.


It's the Cabled Globe Ornament from Knitting Daily, knit out of some handspun BFL and improvised with some Rauma Finullgarn holly leaves and berries. To make the leaves, follow the instructions for the Christmas tree in the August chapter of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, but three-needle bind off down the center instead of knitting the trunk. The berries are just tapered I-cord that's folded over and sewn on.

And you may remember that last year I knit stockings for all of the dogs based on mitten patterns. And then we traded Bruneaux to my MIL for Smiley? Well, sure enough, we were one stocking short. No longer!

Smiley's stocking

Since she's a blue and white Aussie, it made sense to knit her a grey and white stocking, and I even found a chart in Selbuvotter that kind of looks like her. This was my first time using Dale Baby Ull (ack! superwash!) for colorwork, and at first I thought it was way too soft (give me my sticky Finullgarn!), but it all turned out ok in the end. Like the other dogs, her name and the year are knit into the cuff of her stocking.

Smiley's Stocking

Now, time to get back to that Christmas spinning!

Christmas Spinning

Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone. I'll see you on the other side.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've been sewing.

I had planned to show off some baby knits this week, but my fabric came in for the nursery and I haven't stopped sewing long enough to take pictures.

crib bedding
Our living room ottomans are almost crib-sized.

Kind of like knitting, sewing is something I learned to do as a child and hated, but I think it sort of comes back easier if you have that background. Anyway, I haven't sewn from a pattern since I first learned, but since I couldn't find any girly bedding that I liked, I picked up Amy Butler's Little Stitches and decided to make my own.

crib skirt detail

So far I've made 4 crib sheets, a pillow cover, a bumper, and a crib skirt. I've got the panels for a matching twin bedskirt ready to be sewn to the muslin decking, and I'm still planning to make the changing table topper from the book and a quilt to go with the bedding.

pillow and crib sheets

The green floral and striped fabric are from Amy Butler's Lotus collection for Rowan, and the pink damask and pink floral fabrics are from Heather Bailey's Fresh Cut collection for Free Spirit. The front of the pillow is from Amy Butler's Nigella collection.

I've got lots of extra fabric, so I'll probably do a diaper bag, a window treatment and other random projects as well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stuff I sent my mom.

I'm in a better humor than last time I posted. Even though my ankle was hurting worse on Friday, for some reason over the weekend it was a lot better. Still not in spinning shape, but fine to walk on. So I was able to get a lot done around the house over the weekend, which made me feel better about other things. The nursery isn't in any better shape, but I feel like we can get started on it this weekend, which is an improvement. And I am going to sit down and make a list and order fabric for the bedding and stuff, so progress all around. Although when we went to the store yesterday to buy some veggies for a roast, we got Flashlight Girl at the checkout again. Some things never change.

As far as the baby knitting, I ripped the sweater and started knitting a smaller version, then I got an outfit that was 0-3 months and realized that the original sizing was maybe not so far off after all. But I won't need a sweater for 3 months size. When she's 3 months old, it will be June. So I can either keep knitting more of a newborn size and hope I have enough yarn and hope it fits, or rip again and knit something that has a shot at being worn more than once or twice. I haven't decided which.

In the meantime, I've been knitting a little lace. Remember I ordered the new Nancy Bush Estonian lace book, and I was sitting, needles primed and yarn in hand, on the front porch waiting for the mailman to bring it to me? Well, I have about 1,000 yards of my precious silk lace, and it seems like almost all of the projects in the book use about 600 yards or about 1300 yards. The yarn was too expensive to just use half, and I don't want to get almost to the end of a project and run out of yarn that I can't get more of. So, I'm saving my yarn until more projects get completed on Ravelry and I can better gauge what the yarn requirements are. In a moment of weakness, however, I ordered some Kidsilk Haze and cast on for a scarf from the book. I'm about 11 repeats in, now, 18 more to go. I've never knit with Kidsilk Haze before, and I. Love. It. Fuzzy halo and stitch definition -- how do they do it?

cracksilk haze
Exhibit A: Fuzzy Blob with Not-Quite-Accurate Color

In other news, I got some long-time projects completed and sent off to my mother. I felt bad for a while that these were sitting around not getting worked on. Did I not like knitting for Mom? (Who am I kidding? I only really like knitting for me. Or the baby, but that's sort of for me, too.) But then I realized that I tend to bite off a bit more than I want to chew with projects for her. I like to knit stuff that's challenging, but, geez. Maybe I should have designed a sweater from scratch for myself once before getting someone else's expectations all wrapped up in it.

Mom's Cabled Cardi

I think it turned out all right. I'm still not 100% completely happy with the neckband, but the weight of the clasps kind of pulls everything where it's supposed to be, so it wasn't worthwhile to rip and reknit again.

Mom's Cabled Cardi

I also didn't like the yarn. At all. It's Plymouth Suri Merino, and if you've been reading this blog very much at all, you've probably heard me complain that it makes my hands itch. When someone says, I'll buy the yarn if you'll make me a sweater, you kind of know going in that you're not going to be working with great yarn, but there is better inexpensive yarn out there. This was full of knots and slubby spots (there's one right in the middle of the back that drives me nuts) and I just don't like it.

The overall sweater came out nice, though. I like the design. I wish I had taken better notes.

The other project was a meditation cloth. She was telling me about how the color gold and amethyst crystals were supposed to channel energy for better meditation or something (can you tell that I was the one who always fell asleep during the meditation portions of yoga class?), and showed me her crystals and a gold placemat she had bought to use while she meditated. It seemed to me that the placemat was kind of a mood killer, so I thought maybe I could do better. So I dyed and spun some tussah silk into, if I do say so myself, a beautiful champagne-colored laceweight yarn.

Tussah Silk Laceweight

And then I knit the center motif of the Raku Suri Stole and began edging it with the Clematis Edging from Heirloom Knitting, placing a real amethyst bead at each point of the edging.

Mom's Meditation Cloth

Even though a large center motif meant that I was tied to the chart for every single row, it went pretty quickly until I started fishing through Heirloom Knitting for how to handle putting the edging around a corner. Ms. Miller recommends that, beginning about 20 stitches from the corner, you double up the edging so it eases around the curve. So, instead of casting off one stitch for every two rows of edging, I was casting off one stitch for every four rows of edging. And, if I remember correctly, there were 57 stitches on each side of the cloth, so after knitting 160 rows to turn a corner, I got to knit 34 rows straight before starting the next corner. And the edging had a 24-row repeat, so I never quite got that completely memorized, either. When life got in the way, it was easy to put down. I am in awe of the baby blanket on the cover of that book, which has the same edging around a much larger body of lace. It must have taken an age to finish.

Mom's Meditation Cloth

The decision to use real gemstone beads on handspun yarn wasn't one of my most inspired. Some of the beads had burrs inside the holes, and would snag and hang on the yarn as I slid them down, a process which, even if I had been using perfectly uniform yarn and smooth beads, I think I would have found annoying. It didn't rough up the yarn as much as I feard it would, though, and only caused one breakage.

Clematis Edging with Amethyst Beads

Once again, however, the final product turned out quite nicely. I hope it meditates well.

The next time I think I want to knit a gift for someone, though, I think I'll seriously consider a hat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm in a bad mood.


1. We found out on Thursday that we're having a little girl (yay!), but now that we know, I'm feeling even more pressure to get prepared than before, and it's overwhelming. We have nothing in the way of baby stuff. We still need to clear out the nursery of boxes from when we moved in, move the furniture around, paint, order the crib, make the crib bedding, AAH! So much! Every weekend I think we'll make some progress and we haven't made any yet. And with the holidays coming up, it's just going to get even harder.

2. I spent all weekend spinning yarn (Spunky Eclectic August Club -- Thermograph BFL) especially for a baby sweater, even though my left Achilles tendon started hurting early on in the process. (Is this a pregnancy thing? Spinning never hurt before.) I had the perfect picture in my head of this sideways-knit garter stitch yoke sweater in self-striping handspun. Finally this morning the yarn was dry and I got to start knitting, only to discover that the 1/3 month size is going to be 60 cm, or 23 inches, around and 9 1/2 inches from collar to hem. It looks big, very big. By one chart that I looked at, that would fit a one year old. Even worse, I don't have enough yarn to knit it at that size, meaning I have to rip and redesign or find another sweater pattern. So I crippled myself for nothing. And I'm not even going to knit her that many sweaters right now, because she'll be born in March, and it will be pretty warm then, and I'd be better off waiting until next winter and knitting to fit rather than hoping that something I knit her now will fit when it's cold enough to wear it.

3. After giving the baby sweater lots of glares and dirty looks, I got up and limped around the grocery store to get something for dinner, and then got the checkout girl who insists on shining my keychain flashlight in her eyes when she scans my Thank You card and saying, "Wow! That's a bright flashlight!"

Duchess says that if I'd just learn to take a good nap none of this would bother me so much. Or at least if I'd stop posing my knitting with her while she's trying to nap, it wouldn't bother her so much.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Turns out I still knit socks.

Between "I'm no longer interested in doing a lot of fancy work on socks that are hidden by pants and shoes," and "Stockinette socks are cute, but they sure are boring to knit," and "How many pairs of handknit socks does one person need, anyway?" (my count: 23) I was beginning to think my sock-knitting days were over, at least for a while. But then I got a case of cold feet (literally), and, suddenly, socks were appealing again. Before I knew it, I had finished three pairs of socks during Socktoberfest, without even meaning to.

First up, Spina di Pesce by Yarnissima (buy the pattern here or through Ravelry).
Spina di Pesce

My Ravelry Project
Wollmeise yarn in "Tiefer See" [Deep Lake], the dark version

I started these back in March and knit the first one straight through, but then knew I would need a break. This sock also possibly led to the feeling of "All that? For a sock?" I was also worried that I had knit it too tight and too tall (even though I firmly believe Wollmeise socks should be tall), so I shoved it in a closet and forgot about it. But then I pulled it out and tried it on, and, yeah, it's a little difficult to get on, but it fits pretty well, and, for a tall sock, might just stay up. So I knit the other one, which came out slightly larger, even though I'm pretty sure I used the same needles. I guess I've mellowed out lately. The camera picks up on the skin showing through in spots more than is obvious in real life. Also, it doesn't define the cables that well, but they look sharp in person. I'd definitely knit another Yarnissima pattern.

Then there's the Retro Rib socks by Evelyn Clark, from Interweave's Favorite Socks.
Retro Rib Socks

My Ravelry Project
Koigu, with leftover Wollmeise for the contrast toes

My husband bought this Koigu for me late this summer. He had a work appointment on the same block as the Shabby Sheep in Dallas, and came home with yarn -- six skeins of Koigu. He said he didn't even ask for or accept any help in the yarn store, this is just what he picked out, because he was concerned I hadn't been knitting lately. He's a good boy. So I cast on for these socks, got a couple of inches into the cuff, and then left them in the Jeep for a while. I just wasn't feeling it. But now they're finished and soo soft. Once again, I knit a tall cuff, which meant I ran out of yarn before finishing, but some leftover Wollmeise saved the day.

And last, but certainly not least, while I was enjoying my handspun socks in New Mexico, I decided I needed another pair right away. Luckily, I didn't even have to wait to spin the yarn, because I had some lovely Fleece Artist spun by Karen at String Theory that I received in the HHHH swap. So, following some tricks I learned from the Yarnissima pattern, I whipped up some plain ribbed socks.
String Theory Socks
String Theory Socks

The color in the first photo is more accurate (and, look!, it matches my sock bag).
My Ravelry Project

I even knit a sock for my husband!
Genteleman's Fancy Sock

See Ravelry for details.

But he's going to have to wait a little while for the second, because I'm busy trying to finish Mom's lace. My Nancy Bush Estonian lace book should be here tomorrow, and I have some lovely silk lace yarn that I've been hoarding, and I'm sure I'll want to cast on for something ASAP.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Catching up

I missed blogging last week because we were on vacation in New Mexico, and, even though I had internet and a camera, I didn't bring any means of transferring pictures from camera to computer. Which is probably just as well, because the ol' laptop is slow, anyway, and it doesn't react well to large photo files.


We had a relaxing time, though, and I got a lot of knitting done. I had planned on taking the spinning wheel, but we decided to bring the dogs along rather than board them, and to take the truck instead of the Jeep, and in the end, the spinning wheel wasn't practical to bring along. I think the dogs had a good time, though, and we enjoyed having them with us. They especially liked feeling the wind in their faces as we drove around some National Forest roads.

Duke Duch Smiley

You may notice on the sidebar that a lot of things are getting completed, or close to it, around here. I'm knitting much faster than I can blog, and the UFOs are turning into FOs at a pleasant rate. In the interest of accountability, I've even dug up all of the UFOs that I've tucked away here and there and added them to Ravelry, so that I won't forget to finish them while I'm on this mad knitting kick. The sheer length of that WIP list would drive me batty if so many of them weren't finished and awaiting a good blogging, or close to it.

Speaking of FOs awaiting their blog time, let's get to it. Before I left, I had unearthed and finished Laminaria (Ravelry, my project details).


I made the full-size shawl, as I felt that the only other triangular shawl I've ever made was a bit on the small side. Or, I should say, the only other shawl I've ever completed, because I've knit 95% of a massively huge one that I know now I will never bother to finish, since this one is a bit on the large side.


The yarn itself, Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk, has a rustic quality to it that I like. It's a cabled yarn, meaning in this case that it's two two-ply yarns plied loosely together. While knitting, the plied yarns sometimes wanted to split, and when you're doing, say, a three into nine increase, that can be a little annoying, but I lived through it. I chose the color to be more informal, and I think I achieved that, but I still don't know if I'll ever wear it.


I did make one small change to the pattern, adding an extra eyelet to the edging chart to avoid the alien head effect. Of course, now I just see an alien with a hole between its eyes.


All in all, it's a pretty object, it was a delightful pattern to knit, and I'm proud of myself for making it, whether I wear it or not.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the city has spent the last several minutes moving lots of heavy equipment onto our street, and I must go investigate what they're up to. And it's been hours since I have watched CNN.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Look who's blocking

I pulled this out of the closet on Saturday, and I have been obsessed from then until I cast off the last stitch this afternoon.

Laminaria Blocking Laminaria Blocking

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This may be a new record for me -- start to finish sweater in two weeks? It helps that it's a cropped sweater with elbow-length sleeves.

Ballet Wrap Ballet Wrap
Only for you, dear readers, will I take a picture of myself from behind.

Pattern: Ballet Wrap, by Norah Gaughan, Interweave Knits, available at the Knitting Daily store
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino in Crimson, from the stash
Needles: US 6 for the body, US 5 for the ribbing
Mods: No tie sash and therefore no split back, shortened sleeves to elbow length

Overall I'm pretty happy with it. It's a little big in the shoulders, but that's what happens when I knit to my bust size, and I honestly didn't know how to modify it without rewriting the whole pattern, so I'm just going to live with it. Right now it kind of balances out my belly instead of showing it off, but by the time I'm ready to wear it I'll probably appreciate that.

Ugh, no more pictures of me for a while. I'm giving myself a complex.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Change of Plans

Remember last week how I was all gung-ho to knit the February Lady Sweater? Well, I pulled up the pattern, got out the needles and yarn, and changed my mind. The featured photo on the Ravelry pattern page with the pregnant belly poking out is just adorable, but I had to face facts and realize it won't look like that on me. I was already going to do a round yoke instead of a raglan, but I'd also have to change where the yoke transitioned to the lace pattern, or it would make the girls look huge and saggy.

So I started looking around at other patterns that might accommodate a pregnant belly (maternity sweaters suck!) and I went to the Knitting Daily site to see if the Mommy Snug was available for purchase. It's not, and I had actually purchased The Best of Interweave Knits thinking it was in there, and it's not there either. But I did come across Norah Gaughan's Ballet Wrap and thought maybe it had potential. It still risked putting undue emphasis on certain things I'd rather not draw more attention to, but it also is open over the belly, meaning there might be a chance that I could wear it during pregnancy and beyond.

Ballet Wrap Torso
Oh, the joys of the 'pregnant or just round?' stage. Hopefully I'll be decidedly pregnant-looking by the time it's cold enough to wear this sweater.

So I've been working away at knitting the back and fronts, which went pretty fast, and the long noodle of ribbing, which went pretty slow. Actually, in the original pattern, the noodle is supposed to be even longer, to wrap around and tie in front. I took out the split in the back (which allows the sash to cross over and continue around) and started and ended the noodle under the left arm, finishing with a half-graft for a near-seamless look. I worked all afternoon on sewing all those pieces together to see (breath held) if it was going to fit, and it does!

I don't have a picture (doing the mirror-shot of the front was pain enough), but the back is kind of rounded on the bottom and comes down to about my waist.

Now for sleeves. I'm thinking about making them short, because the alpaca is warm. I think it would look cute over long-sleeved tees. What do you think?

Monday, September 15, 2008

First Cool Morning

I reluctantly rolled out of bed this morning to let the insistent dogs out, only to be greeted by the most wonderful cool autumn-like morning. I made coffee to celebrate, and the urge to knit got stronger. I've really been wanting to cast on for the February Lady Sweater (hasn't everyone?) for a little while now. I think it will be a good use of the Suri Merino that didn't work out in the High Neck Cable.

Only problem? I really feel like I should be finishing up old projects. The more I think "this is what I should be knitting," the more I don't want to knit at all, and the more I don't knit at all, the deeper these things fall into their UFO black hole and the guiltier I feel about them. I've especially been thinking that I should push through on Mom's cardi and get it finished for her birthday (in, um, a week), but I'm just getting over a bad case of hives and that alpaca yarn makes me itch. The Suri Merino is alpaca, too, but I don't remember it making me itch. Someone tell me it's ok to start a new project for me, please. I'm feeling guilty, but it's not getting me anywhere.

Hot weather and procrastination haven't been the only things keeping me away from the needles, though. We're expecting our first child in March!

Kid 12.5 weeks
9 weeks 5 days and 12 weeks and change
I'm 14 weeks 5 days now (Second Trimester, 4th month).

Crazy, huh? Anyway, I spent my entire first trimester feeling basically hungover, and knitting was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do. And spinning. When your nauseous, watching something spinning around very quickly isn't exactly fun. I got through spinning for the HHHH swap by forcing myself to do 10-15 minutes at a time until it was done. I was going to take it easy on myself and aim for a DK weight, but it came out fingering, anyway. Ha! Anyway, just when I started feeling better, I broke out in hives from some unknown irritant and was even more miserable for several days. But that's all over now, knock on wood :)

I have done a little crafting for kiddo. I knit and felted a bunny toy that still needs a face embroidered on and stuffing. I also started a sweater for the bunny, but it probably needs to be frogged. And I cross-stitched a little Peter Rabbit scene that needs to be washed, blocked, and framed. No pics of those yet.

I am planning to use cloth diapers, so I have crafted a little bit toward that end. Namely, some awesome wooly soakers (pattern from, and some cloth wipes.

wooly soaker Sheepy Buttwipes

I am 3 or 4 half-finished wipes away from having about 2 dozen (in three different prints). They're kind of addictive. I think I could get into this sewing thing, even if I did have to youtube how to get the bobbin case thingy to go in.

That's probably all I'll do until we find out the gender in about a month. In the meantime, I've got just enough time to knit myself a sweater, no?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


So I got my HHHH swap package in the mail on Saturday, and boy was I spoiled by Karen (Kittin on Ravelry). She sent me all kinds of goodies, including gorgeous handspun Fleece Artist, yummy Rambouillet roving that she dyed herself (check out her Etsy shop!), Canadian chocolate, hot sauce, dog treats, bath treats, tea, stitch markers, wool wash... I'm probably missing something, there was so much.

HHHH Swap Spoilage

Thanks so much, Karen, I love it all, and I'm about to go dig into that chocolate right now. I don't know how I've held off this long.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bad Blogger.

OK, I'm awful. I took a little blog vacay, and I'll admit that this post doesn't mean that it's over. It's more like a quick catch-up. I'm just not feeling it so much lately.

First, I can't not mention that I got to teach someone to spin over the 4th of July holiday. We had so much fun, and I left her with a lot of information and plans to buy a wheel right away. She's actually a mohair rancher back home, so she's interested in taking her fiber to a mill and spinning it. I haven't heard from her since; I hope that means things are going well.

Second, on the Barn Raising front, I have 12.5 more squares, for a total of 27.5 out of 42. One, obviously is incomplete (more on that later) and four haven't been blocked yet, but here are the ones from the potluck yarn I posted about last time.

Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising

I'm stalled out on the last half that I started. I spun another scrappy on a spindle, and I way overtwisted it, so my square looks a little like a pinwheel. I think that may be ok, but I need to figure out what yarn to finish knitting it with, and somewhere along the line I lost interest a little bit. But since I'm 2/3 gone, I should be able to finish it with some degree of rapidity when I take interest again (and have more scraps or spin more yarn for it.

Lastly, I finally finished up my yarn for the HHHH swap. If memory serves, this may be my first true fingering weight 2-ply yarn.

Outgoing HHHH yarn

I dyed the roving myself, and I've kind of always thought of the colorway as "Arsenic and Old Lace," a la the old Cary Grant movie. Let's hope she gets the reference and doesn't think I'm trying to poison her through the mail.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More Barn Raising

Seven more squares:

Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising Barn Raising

I might've hit the halfway mark this week if it hadn't been for spinning this:

Potluck yarn for Barn Raising
Potluck yarn for Barn Raising
Potluck yarn for Barn Raising

510 yards of Funky Carolina's "scrappies", spun one after another and Navajo plied. This way I can knit lots of squares from one yarn ball that are all different from one another.

In other news, the tree guys showed up again this morning. I told them they were finished and sent them away. Let's hope they don't come back.