Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rock On!

I blog into the vastness of the Internet, hoping that somehow, somewhere my words and pictures are resonating with someone. I know we're all busy - sometimes too busy - but somehow we find time to connect across the miles if only briefly. With this blog, I hope to amuse, inspire and encourage my friends and fellow knitters sharing the ups and downs of my own knitting and sometimes life experiences. Is it working? I don't know. But I do know my fab buddy Allison from the left coast has nominated me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger! That flash of white you see is from teeth as I grin with glee. I don't know how this phenomenon got started - but I do think it's a very nice thing. People aren't recognized often enough for the good things they do. I love reading people's blogs. I don't have the time to go out of the house to a weekly knitting group but my blogging friends are an excellent alternative. I love seeing everybody's projects and hearing about their lives. I love that everyone is so quick to jump in with advice and encouragement as called for. I am by far a better knitter because of it.
Now I'm supposed to tag 5 Rockin' Girl Bloggers. As usual, I'm behind the curve so lots of my favs have already been tagged.
Allison would be on the list, but she's already tagged me and I'm not sure there are tag backs.
Janice at Willow Way probably got a bunch of tags - but she deserves them all for sharing with us her great recipes.
Lori Bird formerly of Alaska and now hailing from Maine has also been nominated, but she can do with an extra one because she spins and knits.
Lisa over at Saratoga Knits definitely deserves a nod. She's having fun learning to spin and she can knit a mean sock or two.
Danielle at the Knitting niche is amazingly productive. Her projects run the range from socks to sweaters to squids. She's already gotten started on her Christmas projects, putting us procrastinators to shame.
And if you want to see a sock explosion, a really inspiring volcano of them, check out Monica's site. She has other great projects posted and she gets the award for the most fun url - worksforyarn

Monday, September 24, 2007

Put a little mystery in your knitting

My name is Jennifer, and I am a knitting addict. True, I have many, many projects on the sticks, but then I read my friend Danielle's post about the Secret of the Stole. It was just too tempting, never mind that I'm in the midst of a lace now shawl. So I signed up. the pattern will be revealed over time starting in October and ending in November. It's a lace and bead shawl that is 19 inches wide and ?? inches long. Here's a clue: It takes 1,200 yards.

This is kind of what happens in life, I find. Things just creep into your schedule. You say no, no, no and then all of a sudden, you're in the PTO, teaching Sunday School, babysitting the neighbor's dog and writing a blog. My theory is the more you try to do the more you can do (does that explain why I have 5 kids?). I just hope it holds true to knitting.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smart Knitting

I am the smartest person in the entire world! Okay, maybe not the smartest person, but I am feeling incredibly clever having finally figured out how to read and follow the complex charts for the North Roe Shawl from my French-language Knit-a-Long. Okay, maybe it's not that complex, but I'm a newbie.

I understood the first chart well enough. Following it was another issue altogether. Eventually, having tinked, frogged and reknit enough times I got through it. The real problem came with the repeat. The chart had 31 lines and said repeat lines 11 - 31. Well to the uniniated, that seems pretty impossible given that the shawl by now has expanded well past the number of squares in line 11! I figured out that there was a need to repeat some portion of the line but no matter how I charted it out, it didn't seem to fit. I became like a woman obsessed carrying the chart with me and pulling it out to stare at it and calculate and recalculate.

Finally, I saw it - and it was so obvious I should be more embarrassed that I didn't see it sooner - on most lines, there is an increase of just one box, but in line 11, there are two extra boxes to accommodate an extra increase. Et voila! the pattern suddenly fits.
Here are my newly-learned tips about knitting lace :
  • if you are struggling, count stitches frequently - that way you can figure out quickly if you've made a mistake.
  • follow the pattern backwards on purl rows - this also helps pick up mistakes quickly.
  • Try to learn the pattern as quickly as possible so you understand where yarn overs and decreases should fall. If they seem to be coming at the wrong places, stop and check your work.
  • Make many, many copes of the chart and leave them around the house so you can always find them.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Knitting babes for teenage cancer patients

Knitters are among the most generous people I've ever met. We hear about someone in need and our first instinct is to whip out the sticks. There are a lot of good causes to get involved in it's hard to choose which to do first. This call, however, really caught my attention - maybe because I have teenagers.

The administrator of http://www.chemocaps.com/ is organizing a drive to make Knitted Babes for teenage cancer patients. Here's how it got started:

"Recently I had a few special requests from oncology nurses on behalf of two teenage cancer patients who were rooming together while struggling through chemotherapy as inpatients. Apparently one of the gals received from someone the "Knitted Babes" book and not wanting to appear childish but wanting a soft "grown up looking" doll of her own to cling to, she requested a knitted babe doll....................but from who.....nobody she knew, knew how to knit and this gal was definitely too sick to learn.The nurse manager emailed me to see if I could fulfill this wish and my good friend Brenda (The Analyzing Knitter Blog) http://analyzingknitter.typepad.com/ came to the rescue. "

The full story can be found on the Knitted Babes website. There are many other young patients who would love to have one of these darling dolls. These dolls are quick and fun to make. They each develop their own quirky personality. I've made them using worsted weight as well as with the lighter weight called for in the book. I can't imagine a better pick-me-up for a young adult going through the trauma of cancer treatments.

For more info, you can also email the organizer directly at: Knittingdiva1@aol.comwww.chemocaps.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Cake Dance and other lessons from a 2yo

My fourth youngest has started kindergarten, which has given me some enjoyable one-on-one time with my fifth youngest, now 2. I have learned some new things from her. Water is also known as lello, a suitcase is a kookcase and Dora is a bigger hero than Superman. But the most important thing I've learned lately is about making cakes.

When you make a cake, it is very important to first do the cake making dance. It's a little hopping, hip shaking, arm raising number that you are supposed to perform in the kitchen before you begin baking. It is a prelude to getting out the ingredients but can be expanded to include that step. The dance is performed with a song that goes something like this: (you get to make up the melody)

"We're going to make a cake, we're going to make a cake, we're going to m-a-k-e-a-c-a-k-e, MAKE A CAKE."

When properly performed, this dance and song help the cake rise higher, prevents burning and makes the cake tastier.

I've also learned that the world does not actually crumble if you got to toddler school in your pajamas, especially if it means getting your older sister to school on time.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Packages in the Mail are cool

My good friend from the Wool Room offered to send me socks she'd knit for her girls that they'd grown out of. Hand knit socks are definitely a fabulous hand-me-down. But I was thrilled to find more than just socks in the mail! Lori sent me a book about shawls that has a great pattern I plan to use with my yarn from Tibet and yarn that she hand dyed and spun. It is soft blues and greens that are soothing to the eye and pleasing to the touch. Looking at it is like sitting in a spring meadow in the morning before the sun has gotten too high.

Did you hear the choirs singing? That's because I finished the shawl with the yarn my dh brought home with him from Mexico. I realized early on that I wouldn't have enough so I added in some black alpaca - I think it gives it an avant guard edge. I also discovered toward the end that I was making the yarn overs wrong. Here's my tip - if you want a hole, or an eyelet, wrap the yarn the way you wrap it for a regular stitch so the front leg of the loop is forward on the needle. If you wrap it the other way, you get an extra stitch, but no hole. This changed the look of the pattern, but I think it will look fine to those who don't know, especially those who don't knit. Thank you to all who offered help and advice on the lace knitting. While I do like the shawl very much, I'm not quite sure yet what to do with it. I don't picture myself as the type to wear shawls, although maybe that will have to change. It will look nice draped over a chair, I suppose.

I'm also make progress on my next lace a project - the Dodile, which I'm knitting with the French Knit-a-long. I think that we are knitting from the top down even though we started with just three stitches. I'm having quite a time puzzeling out the chart. I got as far as row 21, 23 or 25 and realized I wasn't quite sure where I was supposed to be and that the count was off. Long story short I had to start all over. By this time, I'd gotten the hang of the pattern at least so it went more quickly and I am back to row 23. I tried using a life line, but it didn't work. The mohair in the yarn made it to sticky to effectively pick up the loops. I also forgot to write down in what row I put in the life line, so I might have had problems even I'd been able to pick up from there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Inspired inspiring

My Lucy bag knit in Noro Kureyon inspired Allison to knit a Sophie Bag with Noro for a friend of hers. Then her bag inspired me to knit a Sophie with Noro as a gradution present for a friend of mine.

I had some troubles. The bag itself is simple and the shape is just lovely. But I found that twisty thing happening again and the handles ended up going from front to back instead of side to side. Using the mistakes are just opportunities to be creative philosophy, I snipped off the offending handles and added some girly plastic ones instead. I also had to cut off the button loop that was centered before felting but quite off to the side after. Luckily, I was able to use a bit of the original handles to make a loop.
The twisty thing could be due to my knitting - I discovered awhile back that I was twisting my stitches. I thought, however, that I'd fixed that issue. Could it be the yarn? Either way, I'm leaning increasingly toward the idea that handles and loops should just be added after felting.

I was anticipating some good knitting time at the soccer games over the weekend. But I was too busy taking pictures. Gotta love the pig tails! It was Z's first game. I've been looking forward to it since she was an itty bitty baby and I was lugging her around to her big sisters' and brother's games! I'm not sure who had more fun - the parents or the kids.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


While traveling recently, a woman asked if my two youngest children - 5 and 2

were identical twins. I was bewildered given the great gap in their ages but then I saw these two pictures and well... I see what she means! Could identical twins really be born three years apart?

Off to school

Today was our first day of Kindergarten. Actually, it was my only day - tomorrow my dd goes without me. This was just and hour-long introduction. The kids flitted about the room while the teary-eyed parents hovered around the edges shaking their heads about how fast these first five years have flown by!

On the way into the school, I grabbed my camera and said out loud, "Am I going to be the only geeky mom with a camera?"

"Yes, you will be mom," the helpful kindergartner confirmed. Then she added, "It's okay, you won't be the only geeky mom - just the only geeky mom with a camera."

I was relieved when a few moments later she said, "What does geeky mean?"

Geeky or not, I felt compelled to record this momentous occasion.

After class, we called Grandpa. "What did you learn?" he asked.

"I didn't learn anything," she said. "They don't teach you anything on the first day."

I think she was expecting to learn how to read.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Funny Knitting

I launched into the lace shawl tonight. I only had to start over once (yeah) and that was just after 6 rows (yeah). That's very good because this yarn has just enough mohair to be very sticky. This is my first chart-reading project. It shows only the right half of the chart. The left half is knit as if looking in a mirror. Do you know how hard it is to knit while holding a mirror to the chart? Just kidding. I figured out to read from left to right and then back again. But the big victory of the night was finally figuring out that there is at the far right end of the chart a stitch that is supposed to be in the very middle separating the two center yarn overs. Why it is tucked off to the side, I'm not quite sure.

I put in my first lifeline. I decided I would relax more if I knew I wouldn't have to go immediately to jail without collecting my $200.

I have also learned this:
1 aug. Intercalaire means make a stitch
1 surget double means Sl2togKwise, K1, PSSo and
Pas de maille means no stitch

On a somewhat related subject - knitting - I've noted that there are few knitting jokes. I'm not sure why this would be since most of the knitters I've met seem to have a pretty good sense of humor. Most of us are able to laugh off our mistakes, albeit hours, days or weeks after the fact. Are we just too busy knitting to come up with some good lines? I'm on a mission to collect or make up a long list of jokes, amusing anecdotes and other yarn-related amusements. Since much of my entertainment comes from a 5 yo these days, I'll start with the most basic of set ups:

Why did the knitter cross the road?

Help me come up with some good answers and I promise to find some better lines!