Sunday, December 31, 2006

A warm head

Here is the corrected hat - done just in time to keep my dad warm on a cold New Year's Eve.


I have been humbled. I smuggly polished off the hat for my dad, having fit it to his head and just as I was getting ready to hand it over, I saw (gasp) several places where I had knitted when I should have purled! It showed up on the inside of the double row rib knit. I could have just handed it over. He might never have noticed and would probably not care. I could feel the words forming, "Just don't show it to any knitters." But this was a problem I knew how to fix - fortunately or unfortunately. It required undoing the hat to below where I'd started the decreases and then purposely dropping a stitch down to the problem area and then using a crochet hook to pick the stitches up. Once or twice, it wouldn't have been so bad. But there was an entire row that I must have been paying more attention to my children than the knitting. The other option would have been undoing to below the problem stitches. I'm not sure that wouldn't have been faster, but I couldn't face the frog.

How could I have not noticed this earlier? Such a rookie mistake. I paid my penance and undid the hat, fixed the wronged stitches and reknitted the crown. Thankfully, dad loves the hat.

What would you have done?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The one that didn't get away

This is one of the projects I did manage to finish on time. It's a round-about-town bag for a guest who is visiting from Australia. It's just the right size for a passport, cell phone, keys, wallet and a pack of gum.

It's knitted with Noro Kureyon. I made up the pattern. I cast on 60 stitches across and knitted for 17 inches. At the end, I reduced stitches toward the sides to give it a rounded bottom and then cast off and sewed up the bottom. I then picked up stitches at the top to make a five-stitch i-cord and the flap. I like the size and I love the stripes. I found that the Noro knitted with an extreme bias. Based on a previous bad experience, I decided to ignore the bias when deciding where to pick up stitches. I laid the bag flat and picked up from the sides, disregarding where I'd started. It turns out that was the right thing to do. The bag lay flat once felted.

I'm also posting a pre-felt picture of the Run Amok Knotsew hobo bag from the pattern posted last month on the bag-a-holic web site. It took me this long to finish it. I love the color but alas I'm having felting troubles. It's knit with Nature Wool, which is sticking together and felting unevenly. Fingers crossed...

I also want to send out a very special THANK YOU to my great Secret Pal who sent me a package just before Christmas. It was filled with great things to treat my feet, the lovely yarn for the Funky Chunky Charmer and The One Skein Wonders, which contained the pattern for the fingerless gloves I knitted for one of my daughters. (I've actually only knit one of the pair, but that's a story for another day). It was a great surprise and much appreciated.

Small hats big heads

It turns out it's a good idea I didn't finish dad's hat - it would have been too small. He was a little mystified about the trail of yarn he pulled out of the bag with the hat. It didn't help that I forgot to include the card explaining the whole "custom made" idea. Still, he smiled politely. This is the hat in question. This is, of course, not my dad modeling it. That would be Watson, who is getting very good at modeling hats.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Half baked ideas

My husband, a former carpenter, says mistakes are opportunities for creativity. In the challenges in life are like that. Take, for instance, running out of time before Christmas. This isn't just a hat I didn't have time to finish -- it's a custom-made hat left undone so that it can be perfectly fit to the recipient! In this case it will be my dad. The hat in question is made with two strands of Cascade held together and knit on 11s. It's very thick and quick, but not quite quick enough. It's in purple and white, which are the colors of the high school where he used to be a hockey coach. He still goes to all the games.

Unfortunately, no time to knit, means no time to get pics off the camera. Photos will follow soon.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom

In my "free" time when I'm not knitting, I occassionally pick up the beads. It's not got the same meditative quality of knitting, but it results in some pretty things. And, if it gets broken, I can fix it. If it gets lost, I can remake it. And if I see a gorgeous but pricey piece in the store, I can replicate it on the cheap.

Mom requested a long blue necklace, which she said she couldn't find in the store. This one was inspired by one I saw on an anchor woman. Mom said she was so eager to see it, she opened it a day early. She said she was pleased. But of course, she's mom. She has to be pleased even if its a macaroni strung on twine, right?


Clean house or knit? Well, the house won't stay clean, but the knitting could last a life time.

Christmas is coming. Must knit fast.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Funky Chunky Charmer

I am generally a play-by-the rules kind of girl. But I’m learning that knitting isn’t about following the rules. It’s about taking off and exploring and trying new things.

I hesitated at first because I just wanted to get things done. I hated the idea of having to undo hours (or even minutes) of work. I hated the idea of spending loads of time on a project only to decide it wasn’t quite right.

But then my secret pal sent me this great chunky yarn. It knits up so quickly that I didn’t mind undoing the work if I didn’t like the way it was turning out.

First I tried the lace pattern I’d used the last scarf. The holes didn’t show up very well, so I scrapped that idea. Next I tried a basket weave pattern – first with groups of 3 and then with groups of 4. I liked it, but it didn’t seem quite right. Then I tried a wide stripe. It looked good, but wasn’t quite fancy enough. Then I remembered the ruffled edge I’d made on a dolls dress. The yarn begged to become a long skinny scarf with a ruffled edge. Despite all the starts and restarts, I finished it in one night.

The yarn is Berger du Nord Colorado, Colour 11 (100 percent wool) Any bulky yarn could substitute.

Gauge: 2 stitches per inch on size 15 needles

66 yards of yarn (more for longer scarf)

Here’s the pattern:
(Made in two halves)
Co 16
Knit for 4 rows
K2 together across (8 stitches)
K1 P1 across for a single rib pattern
Repeat in rib pattern until scarf is half the length you want the scarf to be.
Leave the stitches on a spare needle or stitch marker
Make the other half the same way.
Join the two halves using a kitchner stitch or preferred method.

You could make it wider by adding stitches in multiples of two or try it with different yarns in a different guage. You could also hold two yarns together for a varied effect.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Santa Springer

Poor tortured Springer
Too much love

Too many projects not enough time

No time to blog
Must knit for Christmas
Here's a nice pic instead
Taken in my garden three days ago - yes, that's a rose blooming in December!
That's the extent of our snow. It's long gone. It's raining now. Global warming?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The eight-hour four-hour scarf

This scarf is from the Knitted Gifts, a book I highly recommend. The project is supposed to take four hours, but that doesn’t account for having to start over several times and take out rows because of having dropped or added a stitch. What I liked/hated about working with this yard (Rowan Kidsilk Night) is that shows every stitch. Mistakes are obvious, but then so are the loops of the stitches. It’s like seeing the bones of knitting. It’s a great way to understand how the loops fit together.

I made the scarf longer than the one in the book because my non-knitting husband said it seemed too short when it was the length called for in the book. It is supposed to be 36 inches, but I added 10. I prefer the longer version, but in a pinch – if the party is tomorrow - 36 would do.

The yarn is remarkably soft and delightfully warm. An added bonus: It’s really cheap to mail because it’s so light!

Friday, December 08, 2006

beaded beauty

This is lovely beaded hat knitted from the kit sent to me by my fab Secret Pal 9 pal. I learned that I love knitting with beads!

I think this about the pattern - it looks nice to have the beads on the rolled up brim, but you have to stop before the roll starts or you'll have cold beads resting on your forehead. On the hat I thought I was altering the beads, but I realized after I was done that they lined up so I must have lost count somewhere. I still like it. I would definitely try this again and highly recommend it.

BTW - I usually wear the hat - my 1.5 yo was clowning for the camera.

Speaking of my Secret Pal - a wonderful package arrived today filled with items to pamper my poor weather-worn feet, some great blue and green BIG wool that will make a great scarf to complement my hat.(?) And "One Skein Wonders" a book I just happen to have had my eye on! And she remembered the kids with packs of candy including "Angel Kisses," "Bah Humbugs" (gummy bugs) "Worm Wishes for the Holidays" (gummy worms) "Reindeer Noses" (cinnamon drops) and "Elf Pillows" (square peppermint candies)

Flying through the air with the greatest of ease

This is a story about adventure, although not in knitting. As a birthday surprise, I took my 14 yo to Trapeze School. She was really, really surprised, but not in a good way.

The school is at the front of an elaborate mall at the entrance of a huge furniture store. The entrance is filled with giant statutes made from jelly beans. There is also a giant water feature, a restaurant and a candy store. There is pleasant, inspirational music playing on the loudspeaker.

To get to the trapeze, you climb up a scaffolding that is about as high as where we go for the waterslides. Those who will be flying wear harnesses attached to ropes held by someone on the grown. And, you swing over a net. It's very safe, but when you haven't yet gone and you don't know quite what to expect, it is pretty frightening. And I say this as one who has bungee jumped, sky dived and craves double black diamonds.

To fly, you start standing on the edge of the upper deck holding onto a white pole while your spotter holds your harness and pulls the trapeze swing toward you. You grab it with your right hand and then with your left. All the while, your spotter has you by the harness, which is like a very thick belt. This is the scariest part of the journey. Your mind just doesn't understand and is screaming at you to get back from the ledge. But you must ignore that advice and instead jump off.

Once in the air you realize that holding onto the bar is easier than you expected and that you are held securely by the safetyropes. Then you get to enjoy this incredible sensation of swinging. It's exhilarating. You fly past all the decorations and the colors and through the music, but you don't really see it or hear it, you just have this incredible sensation of speed and weightlessness. It's like when you were a little kid on the swings only much, much, much better.

If you want to do a trick - hanging from your knees, the spotter on the ground talks you through some moves. As you swing away from the platform, he says to bring your legs up and hook them on the swing. Then you let go of the bar and swing from your legs. You arch your back and put out your hands as if you were going to reach up and grab the arms of another trapeze flier. Then you grip the bar again and bring your legs down. Then you kick forward, back forward, let go of the bar and tuck and do a back flip. If you land it right, you pull out of the tuck and hit the net in a seasted postition. You don't fall fast because your spotter has the ropes and is slowing the descent. This is all easier than it sounds because of the momentum of the swing.

The second time, you're not scared - at least not as much so. And the third time, you're really thinking about how to improve the leg hang. Toward the end of the lesson, if you're ready, they have you try to perform a catch. That's just like it sounds - there's a person on a swing on the other side who catches you as you swing across.

My daughter didn't think this was a good idea. She stood at the top of the plat form repeating over and over, "I can't do it. I just can't do it." I tried to talk her through it, because I thought once she'd tried it, she'd be so glad she did. The man who ran the show suggested I leave it to him. "Sometimes, we do better with 14 yo than do their mothers," he said. I decided he was probably right. At that point, however, I was starting to think I'd blown it. I promised her this big surprise for her birthday and she hated it. Well, we can't win them all.

After one of my jumps, I came walking up the stairs and was surprised to see that she wasn't huddled in the corner. Had she left the platform? Did she finally just give up? No, she was getting read for her first flight. She loved it. She walked back up the stairs babbling about how great it was. She even thanked me and said she loved me. I cried.

She now has a t-shirt that says "Don't worry about the fear, worry about the addiction."