Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas is coming! (Yikes!)

Hello blog readers! I apologize for this long lapse in between posts. The holiday season always seems to sneak up on me, and this year is no different. I'll show you a couple of things I managed to knit lately.

First off, I finally finished my Polly Cardigan. I was a little unsure about the buttons, but deep down I always felt like they were meant to be on this sweater. I bought them from The Hickory Tree on etsy, and I have to say that I really love them. They are literally slices from a tree branch. Pretty cool, right? I really love how they look!

Sorry for the headless photo. The expression on my face was not blogworthy, I promise.

I also knit something for the season. I had wanted to make these last year, but my disorganized self did not get it together in time. This year, I made it happen. So, I have korknisse on the tree this year!

I loved Elliphantom's version on Ravelry with tiny jingle bells and ribbon, so I followed suit. I made one for every member of the family, including the two beagles. I just love how cute they are! I plan to make some as gifts next year.

As for gift knitting this year, I have completely fallen flat. I'm in the eleventh hour knitting a hat for my 1-year-old niece. The first one I tried was a bust because it fit me. Now I need to speed knit another one this weekend. As for the rest of my family, I dilly dallied on deciding what projects and what yarn to use, so I ended up making a big bunch of nothing. It's so ridiculous that I haven't been able to make up my mind about these things. I think this time of year though that I need more enjoyment knitting and less process knitting. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the last thing I want is to be stressed by one of my favorite activities, right?

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season so far. Hopefully, you are more content with your knitting that I am! Enjoy the weekend! I will try to check in again before 2012! :)


Friday, November 11, 2011

November Already?

Where did the time go? I was away for a few days as October turned into November, and I'll give you a hint where I was:

We went to the Mickey's Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party, and it was so fun! We went to Florida for a little longer than a long weekend, and it was perfect. Just enough warm weather, just enough Disney and not too much school missed, which worked out well.

Now that Halloween is over, I immediately feel like it's dangerously close to Christmas in terms of knitting gifts. Right now I only have one gift on the needles, and while I don't have anything too ambitious to complete in time, I should at least think about acquiring the yarn for these projects, don't you think?

Have I mentioned that I could teach a PhD seminar on procrastination?

I digress.

In the meantime, I did finish up a few projects. The gobbledyghost was finished in time for Halloween.

He's pretty cute even though he's trying to be scary.

I also finished some cabled snowman mittens for my niece. I had knit them for her last year, but being the peanut that she was, they would have been swimming on her. This year they will be a better fit for sure.

Since I only had the embroidery left to do, my knitterly guilt kicked in for some reason. Maybe because I knit them last year?I decided to knit her a tiny mermaid to adorn her gift. My plan was to use pink and purple to customize the mermaid to appeal to my niece's color palette. I am more of a traditionalist when it comes to mermaid colors, but I think she turned out all right.

I especially like her funky hair. See?

I also started knitting Comfort Dolls for Haiti. My Ravelry friend, adventuregurl, inspired me to join with her enthusiastic participation in this project. The Comfort Doll Project collects handknit dolls and will deliver them to children in Haiti for Christmas. Here's my first one:

Isn't he sweet? These dolls knit up so fast and use scrap yarn. Instant gratification and stash busting, what more could you want? If you'd like more information, feel free to pm me on Ravelry or leave a comment below.

That's enough news for the start of November, I think. The sweater is ripped out and the body is knitted up again. Just waiting to feel like knitting sleeves. :)

Happy Knitting!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Comfort Food Cowl and What's On the Needles

Usually, I'm a monogamous knitter. I like to knit and knit and knit, until I have a finished object off my needles. Then, I'm prone to panic because I haven't thought ahead, and I'm left without anything to knit immediately.

This month, however, the tides have turned for some reason. First, I saw the Comfort Food Cowl and Fingerless Gloves set by IrishGirlieKnits featured on her blog of the same name. I had just finished Dancette, and I was eager for a relatively quick, worsted weight project. I had 2 skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in Water Green, so that satisfied my need to knit right there. The cowl is finished, and I love how it turned out. See?

When I finished the cowl, I cast-on for the fingerless gloves right away. The pattern was going much more quickly in the gloves, so I got about a third of the way up the cuff of the first glove.

Last Sunday, I had the house completely to myself because my husband and daughter went to a football game. I was so excited! I was going to watch movies and craft all day. I really wanted to start something new, so I decided to start crocheting a Queen Anne's Lace scarf for myself out of a pretty skein of Malabrigo Rios that I had picked up in Maine. Things were going swimmingly, and then I saw it.

A mouse.

Now I do not like mice....AT ALL! In our neck of the woods, it is pretty common to have mice trying to get in your house. I know they've been in the garage and stuff, and we have a pest company on the situation. Or so I thought. I had not seen one inside my house in a very long time. So, I watched this mouse climb up the side of my fireplace and duck into a tiny hole in the stone. What did I do? I called my sister, and I yelled and whined and basically freaked out.

After I commiserated with my sister, I saw the offending mouse stick his head out of the hole. I thought to myself, there is absolutely NO WAY that I am going to watch this mouse run around my house. I yelled at it and pounded on the stone of the fireplace. I swear the thing sneered at me. I sprayed it in the face with water and it rescinded into the hole. I called my sister back (for moral support), and then I cut up a stainless scrubber and shoved it into the hole where the mouse had peeked out. (I had read that mice do not like to chew through any type of metal or wiry material.) I didn't see him again that day, and I was relieved. Maybe he was too. My day was a bit deflated after that. I did crochet, and I did watch a movie, but it wasn't the same. My family had a terrific time at the game, so at least they didn't have to deal with our uninvited creature.

It took me a couple of days to calm down, but getting yarn in the mail helped me forget about the creatures. (That and several visits from the pest control people).

I had been watching the progress of Susan B Anderson's Polly Pullover turned Cardigan KAL on Ravelry. I just knew I had to have this cardigan, knit out of super bulky weight yarn, for my fall and winter wardrobe when I saw it featured on the Spud and Chloe blog. I finished my other sweater first, and then spent a good two weeks hemming and hawing about my color decision. I loved Susan's version in Carbon, but since I already own a plethora of charcoal colored sweaters, I decided to go with Sequoia, a reddish, terra-cotta-like shade. Then I was in a holding pattern, anxiously waiting for its arrival.

I received the yarn for my cardigan to be last Monday, and I was so excited to start. I really love the color! With the gauge swatch completed, I cast-on right away and made it through the body in just a few days. Love super bulky weight yarn!

I love that I've come this far, but I'm going to frog half the body. Why? I included the waist shaping dictated in the pattern on the sides of the cardigan, and I don't like how noticeable it is. I've tried it on several times, and reasoned that the sweater will be fine without it, and I'll be happier. Plus, it will take me almost no time to catch up because this yarn knits up so fast.

Although, I am starting another project today. (How many is that now?) A Gobbledyghost for my daughter for Halloween. She has requested a purple one, so I'm trying to knit it on the sly in time for the big day. So, the fingerless mitts, the scarf, and the sweater will be on hold for a bit. At least, I can't say I don't have anything to work on, right?

Happy Monday! What are you knitting these days?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yay! Dancette!

Fresh off my needles is a fun knit from Irishgirlieknits. I saw Carrie's design, Dancette, featured on her blog and fell in love with the striping and chevron goodness displayed in this beautiful shawl. Then, after reading rave reviews about the lovely hand dyed yarn from The Plucky Knitter, I decided that I just had to order one of her Living A Mystery yarn kits that was equipped with 2 skeins of The Plucky Knitter Primo MCN 75/20/5 and the pattern. The skeins are selected by The Plucky Knitter herself and shipped off to you. As far as I know, you don't have any say in the matter.

And that makes project that much more fun.

I poured over the FO gallery for Dancette for days after I placed the order, wondering if my skeins would be similar to the projects that I was viewing. I am a huge fan of blue, so I was imagining opening the box and finding a beautiful shade of blue and another beautiful skein, maybe grey? (Well, let's face it, I was fixated on the blue.) Then the box arrived and inside was this:

No blue? What? I was taken aback a bit. This was not what I was expecting. Red and brown? Really? I mean I knew it was a "mystery" box of yarn, but somehow I thought that I would get what I had been dreaming about. Hmmmm......

Now I don't usually choose red when choosing yarn, clothes, etc., so this was new for me. I carried the skeins around the house with me for a bit, and then I put them down so I could think a bit about the whole thing.

Then I grabbed my long lost blue sweater in progress to try to finish it up. The sweater took me about 10 days to finish, and after that sea of blue had held my attention for that amount of time, enough was enough. I was so ready for a change.

I saw The Plucky Knitter skeins on the table where I had left them, and I had a new attitude. I thought to myself, "This isn't a bad thing after all." I wound the yarn into skeins and got down to business.

I decided to use the red as the main color with the brown as the complementary color. I cast on in the red and started on the pattern. The color changes were so fun, and the varying width between stripes really kept things interesting. As I watched the shawl get bigger, I was liking it more and more. By the time, I reached the chevron edging, I was couldn't wait for the finished object.

And here it is:

I really love how it turned out, and what I've come to appreciate about this project is that it has broadened my color horizons. I am looking forward to thinking outside the blue box for future projects. Who knows? Maybe I'll even branch out to a mustard cowl or pumpkin colored sweater.

That's begs the question: What am I going to knit next?

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Favorite Sweater

I have a sweater that I wear all the time. As soon as the temperature starts hovering around 60 degrees and below, the sweater comes out. Although I have been known to wear a tank top, boxer shorts, flip flops and this sweater when driving my daughter to school in May or June, along with glasses and a haphazard bun.

I pull it on first thing in the morning, and keep it around during the day to don if I feel chilled in any way.

Now I didn't knit this sweater, and I didn't receive it as a gift. Well, not really anyway. My mom was cleaning out her closet about 6 or 7 years ago, (She is very good at that sort of thing, by the way. I am not.) and she asked me if I wanted this sweater of hers, a heathered gray 100% wool cardigan with a collar and pockets. I said, "Sure!" After all I love sweaters, and I love gray, so this seemed like a decent score for me.

This sweater seriously became my goto for everyday life. It's not particularly stylish by any stretch of the imagination. It's very basic, has a healthy dose of positive ease and might even be bordering on frumpy, but I love it. It's warm, it's cozy and it's comfortable. It's like a favorite sweatshirt, but I like sweaters better. I affectionately call it my "Mr. Rogers sweater". If I am home, I probably have on that sweater. (Yes, I have it on right now.) Don't get me wrong, it's been out and about the supermarket, school meetings and that kind of thing. It is my favorite sweater.

Since this sweater has been providing me with warmth and coziness for the past 6 or 7 years, some things are starting to go. Take the elbows for instance. I noticed the fabric wearing very thin in the left elbow 2 years ago. There was no way that I would ever consider throwing this sweater out on account of a hole in progress, so I found some multicolored dyed yarn and just kind of whipstitched over the offending gap. Not a very knitterly solution for a knitter, but at the time I was in a hurry to get the sweater back on. While I was at it, I took the same yarn and whipstitched the cuff, 2 stitches in each purled section of the ribbing. Just because I felt like it. While I don't have a photo of my classy elbow fix, I can show you what the cuff looks like.

Pretty fancy, eh?

Yesterday, my quick fix of the elbow blew out, leaving my elbow exposed to the drafty elements in my house. What to do? What to do? I grabbed the same variegated handdyed yarn and knit a patch. I cast on about 15 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch until it seemed like it would cover the gape. While I was knitting, I decided that I liked the purl side better, and then I unexpertly mattress stitched the sucker in place. See?

Yes, I know it's not perfect. You have to understand that my attitude about this sweater is very laid back. It's missing a button, and it now has a wonky patch on the elbow and will probably need another one on the other elbow soon, but I don't care. I love it just the way it is. It keeps me warm, it's my favorite and it's mine.

Enough said. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Letter From My Sweater

Dear Kathleen,

Thank you for finally finishing me last week. I'm not sure what I did to you last November, but it was getting really boring in that drawer. I didn't exactly understand what you muttered as you hastily thrust me into the plastic bag and then into the drawer, but you sounded pretty cranky. Did I mention that the drawer was dark? Or that the only other knit in the drawer was a too-small baby hat who wasn't much of a conversationalist?

Sorry. Have I told you that I am happy you finished me?

One thing I'd like to point out is that if you hadn't stuck me in the drawer when you made that mistake on the sleeve last November, you wouldn't have made the same mistake last Sunday all over again. Although I will concede that if you had kept the edging that you planted on me around the same time, I would look a little off kilter right now. But, did it really have to take you a year to make a decision on the edging?

The other thing that I'd like to mention is that I look alright. What, with this being the first adult sweater that you ever knit. And I know you doubted yourself big time. Well, you should have. You almost made some unfortunate choices, and maybe you would do some things differently next time. You did learn things on this project, right? Lots of things. I hope you realize now that it sometimes it takes a good bit frogging to make a decent sweater. When you think about how many times you ripped back, you know I'm right. And at the end of the day, my dear, I'd like you to realize, that I'm only a sweater. So, there's no need to stress so much. Really.

I'll forgive you for the things that you said to me. You just wanted me to be wearable. I get that.

Looking forward to keeping you warm sometime soon,
Your Sweater

P.S. Go out and knit another one. I know you can do it.

Moonlight Raglan
Pattern: Easy Top-Down Raglan Knitalong by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Spud and Chloe Sweater, color Moonlight

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cabled Pumpkins

Two years ago, my sister asked me to knit her some orange fingerless mittens, so she could look fancy at her son’s school’s Halloween festivities. I knit up Lisa M. Beamer’s fun pattern for Fast & Easy Fingerless Mitts and put a row of cabled pumpkins at the top of the mitt to “Halloweenize” them a bit. I’ve had a few people ask how I did the pumpkin cables at the top. I figure now would be a good time to get the ball rolling on my blog with my pumpkin cabling secrets. Just in time for you to whip some up for this Halloween.

First thing's first:
Once I had knitted the gusset and knit 10 rounds, I began the pumpkin cables. At this point in the pattern, I had 38 stitches.

(Note: This is the stitch count I had when I knit the mitts in the round based on Lisa’s pattern written for the flat knitted version. In Jan 2010, Lisa released Fast & Easy Fingerless Mitts v.2 - Circular which features her version of the pattern knit in the round.)

Okay, here goes:

Cabled Pumpkins
Round 1: *(K2tog, knit 4, p1, k5, p1, k5, p1) repeat from * to end of round. (36 sts)
Round 2: *(C1b, k1, c1f, p1) repeat from* to end of round.
Round 3: *(K5, p1) repeat from* to end of round.
Round 4: *(K5, p1) repeat from* to end of round.
Round 5: *(K5, p1) repeat from* to end of round.
Round 6: *(K5, p1) repeat from* to end of round.
Round 7: *(K5, p1) repeat from* to end of round.
Round 8: *(C1f, k1, c1b, p1) repeat from * to end of round.
Round 9: *(K5, p1) repeat from * to end of round.

Bind off loosely.
Embroider two vertical stitches with black yarn in center of each cabled pumpkin for eyes. Backstitch 3 stitches in a wide u shape underneath eyes for mouth. Embroider a stem in green or brown with one stitch on top of each pumpkin.

Cable Key:
C1b: Slip 1 stitch onto cable needle and hold in back of work. Knit 1 stitch and then knit the 1 stitch from cable needle.

C1f: Slip 1 stitch onto cable needle and hold in front of work. Knit 1 stitch and then knit the 1 stitch from cable needle.

Now go and get yourself in the Halloween spirit. It's never too early for that. :)

Edited 10/24/11 to correct errors in the pattern. The pattern as written above is now correct. Each cable is a 2-stitch cable, not a 4-stitch cable. I apologize for the errors.