Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A driving challenge

The challenge: knit an entire lace dish cloth during a 2.5 hour drive from Boston to Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

I chose a pattern that would look nice but wasn't too difficult. It's called a "bell ribbed pattern." The yarn was Peaches and Cream and the needles were bamboo, size 6.

I cast on and had knit the first four rows before we were even out of the tunnels. I had the first four rows of the lace pattern done before we hit Quincy. I had memorized the pattern by the time we crossedthe Rhode Island border. The only problem was trying to remember to psso in between rounds of "I spy" and retrieving fallen sippy cups. There were more than a few tinks but no major frogging.

We stopped briefly (as briefly as possible with five kids and just one potty) south of Providence for sodas and a stretch. I counted the rows and began to fret. Although I'd made a lot of progress, things seemed off pace.

As we passed into Connecticut, I realized I had to pee again. So on one hand, I really wanted to get to our destination and the bathroom there quickly but on the other hand, I wasn't as far along as I'd hoped, so I wanted more time. Knitterly torture!

I knitted as frantically and furiously as I possibly could, but I just couldn't do it. This is as far as I got:

I could have done it if I'd chosen a simpler pattern. I could have done it if not for the tinks.

At least I finished it while we visited so even though I couldn't hand it to our hosts when we arrived, I was able to turn it over before we left.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ground Hog Knitting

There is a movie starring Bill Murray about a weatherman who has to keep reliving Ground Hog's Day over and over. He eventually tries to kill himself and but still keeps waking up on the same day. Until he finally gets it right and wins the girl. I thought it was quite funny, until I had to live through it.

This shawl is my Ground Hog's Day. I had to keep starting over and over and over and over. Bigger needles? Smaller needles? Was that a yarn over? Did I k2 together when I should have k2'd? I have ten stitches when I should have 11? Where did that hole come from? No problem could be fixed - I had to just keep starting over.

The yarn is so soft and pretty that I didn't mind too much. It has an irridescent quality that is mesmerizing. Usually, I'm driven to achieve, to make progress, to finish. But this time, I was just enjoying the ride. I know this project will take awhile, and I really want it to come out right.
The pattern really isn't that hard. It's just challenging enough to keep my attention but I can still follow a television show if it's not too complex.
I'm using the yarn my dh brought home from Mexico. It is bright and beautiful and calls out for a bold pattern. I'm not sure there will be enough, but I figure I can finish it off with black or white.
The above picture is proof that the snow is really long gone (not that we got much this year anyway) What it doesn't show is that it is finally warm here on the East Coast. Oh happy day.

Monday, May 21, 2007

HELP me - please

If someone has the patience to puzzle through this - this is a pattern for a shawl. The base pattern is 9 stitches plus 2. You cast on 13 stitches - 11 for the pattern and 2 for selvages.

So far, I get it.

But here's my question for any experienced knitter who can help:

It gets wider by adding 9 stitches at the beginning of certain rows.
BUT if the stitch pattern is 9 plus 2 - shouldn't I add 11 stitches?

If I follow the directions, I end up with 31 stitches. If I use two for the selvages, that leaves me with 29 stitches - which means I have either two stitches two many (using the nine stitches of the lace pattern) OR four stitches two few (using the nine plus two base pattern)

Any and all suggestions would be most welcome.

Here is where I found the pattern:

Designed by elann

Simple to knit, this ripple pattern shawl uses the progressively tonedcolors of elann.com Adara to create a summery rainbow of cheer.
Size: 30" long by 60" wide, after blocking.
Difficulty Level: Advanced Beginner
Gauge: 18.5 sts and 24 rows = 4" on 4.5mm (US 7) needles. Gauge is not critical.
Materials: - 1 ball each of 12 colors of elann.com Adara- 4.5mm (US 7) 39" circular needle- two more 39" circular needles to act as st holders for 3 needle bind-off (size not critical) - 27 rubber ring markers
Scalloped Lace Pattern: (Multiple of 9 +2)
Row 1: K1, *k1, yo, k2, sl 1 knitwise, k1, psso, k2tog, k2, yo* k1.
Row 2: P.
Row 3: K1, *yo, k2, sl 1 knitwise, k1, psso, k2tog, k2, yo, k1*k1
Row 4: P. Row 5: K.
Row 6: K (Ridge Row). Note: Place rubber ring markers between rpts.

With 4.5mm (US 7) needles, loosely CO 13 sts - 9 + 2, plus 2 selvedge stitches – for selvedges, k1tbl first stitch of ER, and sl1wyif the last st of ER.
Working back and forth across circular needle, knit 2 rows.
Begin working scalloped lace pattern, and color progression as above. Form triangle shape of shawl by CO 9 sts on either side of piece every 12 rows (every other 6 row rpt) as follows: every other row 5, CO 9 sts at beg of row, k across new sts, plus existing row 5 sts to end of row. Turn work, CO 9 sts at beg of next row 6, k across new sts, plus existing row 6 sts to end of row. Break yarn, begin next color.
Continue in this manner until last stripe of color 04 is complete, ending with a row 6. Hold all stitches on a 39" circular needle.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fashionable Whimsy

I didn't really need another purse, but I kept seeing these cabled totes and they sort of got in my head. And then I was out shopping with my good friend Allison, http://www.resipsaknit.blogspot.com/ - a very rare treat because she lives on the opposite coast - and I wanted to buy something to remember the occassion. I found this fabulous Cascade Tweed. So here it is - my purple cabled purse that my just turned 5yo declared to be "very fashionable." It's based on a pattern in One-Skein Wonders, sent by my SP9 pal, Lisa, http://saratogaknitting.blogspot.com/. Mine is bigger because I have more stuff to carry. It took two balls of the Cascade. The purse is about 12 by 12 inches. If you want the modifications, send me an email - jennifer.news@gmail.com

I lined the bag to keep it from stretching out too much. I used one "fat quarter" - the quilting material sold in squares at most fabric and craft stores. I find these make excellent lining and are relatively cheap.

It has stretched where I've attached the handles, but I think that is unavoidable.

The handles aren't the most comfortable, but I love the way they look - very girly.

Thank you all for the cableing advice. I really like making them. I've even checked out Cables Untangled from the library to learn more. Here is my review of the book, in case anyone is interested in it. It's a great guide for cables and their charts. It could have been written a little more clearly, but suffices. The pictures are stunning. I don't know if I will ever make the blanket on the cover, but I sure do like looking at the picture. The projects look interesting, although I haven't tried any just yet.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

12-year-old boys

This is an actual conversation that took place on Monday.

Mom: Son, when was the last time you took a shower?
Son: Friday, before the dance.
Mom: But you didn't go to a dance last Friday.
Son: I know, it was the Friday before that.

(This is why I make him wash his own sheets.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all you mothers and daughters enjoyed Mother's Day. The highlight of mine was taking my kids out for ice cream and playing in the park. It was much better than a crowded restaurant. The big kids played football with dad while the little ones ran around on the jungle gymn. There were some low lights too, but I don't want to remember those.

As an early Mother's Day present, my dh took all of the kids out of the house so I could have time alone - knitting, reading, catching up on a tv show. I opted to organize the attic and get the kids summer clothes out. It's not fun, it's not glamorous and I can't believe it's something I chose to do with my precious time off. But the reality is that our life will run better if it gets done. I have decided, after spending an entire day and a half on the project, that organizing my house is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom!

My own momma is far too far away for me to celebrate with her in person. (She lives in the wild woods of Wisconsin) But though she's not here, she is not forgotten. I made for her a beret to replace the one I made her that she lost. We picked out the yarn together when she was here - Debbie Bliss angora silk. Though she gets the hat, I think I got the better end of the deal being able to knit with this exquisite yarn. It is soft with just the right amount of elasticity. The whole thing came together with little angst, few tinks and no major frogging. Not only that, it fits well. Mom said she wore it all day, even though it wasn't really that cold out. She said she got more than a few sideways glances. We'll choose to believe they were admiring a fine piece of knitting. Having learned from my swaps, I packed the hat with goodies - sunscreen, lipstick and her favorite gum.

Watson's Mother's Day present to me was being an "enthusiastic model."

Monday, May 07, 2007

A backhanded compliment

Those of you who have teens or who were teens might appreciate this: My 14yo gave me the nicest compliment today. She meant it as an insult. She was angry because I sent her to her room for back talk and then I added time because she slammed the door. Then she slammed it again and I told her she was in for the night.

"You are SO predictable," she yelled.

I was mulling over what she'd said and it dawned on me that's exactly what I am supposed to be! She's telling me I'm doing my job right.

What I have learned as a parent, however, is that even when I do it right, it doesn't always "work." At least not right away. She's still talking back. She's still slamming the door. They still don't put their back packs away even though I confiscate them and require a job to get them back.

That lack of effectiveness surprised me the most. Before I had kids, I was such an expert on raising them. Be consistent. Be firm. Be gentle. In reality, it's so much harder than any of the books let on.

To end on a positive note, the door slammer did later apologize and even helped with her little sisters.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

My 100th post!

Yeah! Cue the balloons and the streamers - it's my 100th post! It took about seven months to get here.

In keeping with the knitting them of the blog, I'll take it back to the roots - to the sheep and the llamas from which many good things come.

The 5yo an I recently snuck away for a local sheep shearing festival. We've been reading "The Rowdy Rooster" about a rooster who wakes everyone up early because he sleeps in an uncomfortable bed. Farmer Maude and Farmer Claude decided to shear all the animals for material to make a more comfortable bed. So my little one was really excited to see it done live. She stayed watching far longer than I would have expected her attention span to allow.

Here's the poor sheep who had to go last - just sitting and waiting and knowing what's coming. Or is he just eager to be released from all that heavy fur?

The Llama wasn't too excited about the whole thing. I don't think he liked being the center of attention.

Perhaps the best part of the festival is finding a crown fit for a princess...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The best gift of all

The best gift of all is the return of my wonderful husband and partner who keeps me sane. But a very close second is the yarn that he brought with him from his travels in Mexico and Honduras. It was no easy task for him. He doesn't speak the language. He doesn't knit. His only association with yarn is my obsession. He had to turn to one of the group leaders of the expedition to help him find the yarn. So he gets super bonus husband points for being willing to "ask directions." He said he told the lady that he thinks I have a little bit of a "knitting addiction." And Niagra Falls is just a little waterfall. Seriously. He goes to a country brimming with beautiful silver and what do I ask for? Yarn.

It's great yarn too. Bright colors. And soft. I think it's wool - there's a picture of a sheep on the label. I suspect that it might be intended for embroidery. There are four thin strands wound together, but not twisted. I'd love to knit with the thin strands, but I can't figure out a way to get them apart. I'd have to unwind the whole ball and rewind the strands separately. Knitting with them held together will be fine. I think it's about a worsted weight. Not surprisingly, the label doesn't have all the standard info found in the U.S.

This is how a very active, too-smart-for-my-own-good, nearly 2-year-old occupies herself during her big sister's soccer game. Clearly, I need new lipstick and she needs make up lessons!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Kindergarten blues

Really they should have counselors on site for Kindergarten registration. I was nearly in tears and it's not just because of the huge check I had to hand over. I'm singing the refrain that must be on every mother's lips at this time "I can't believe it's been five years already!"
I should be happy that she's taking this big step toward becoming a real grown up kid but I find myself missing the little girl she was even though she's right here. Coming out of the school I could see her running across the field in her butterfly Halloween costume, wings flapping behind her. I am excited to get to know the little person she is becoming but it's hard to let go of the little one that was!