Monday, February 27, 2006

My search for perfection

Here's the "Blue Blob" safely back on the needles.

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Isn't it lovely. I can't stop hugging it. I fear I'm starting to form an unhealthy attachment to my knitting. There was a scary moment when I realized I had gotten the pattern repeat wrong two rows down and created holes in the middle of five diamonds. But I performed some emergency surgery with an extra set of needles and a crochet hook. I'm feeling quite clever. That section is a little stretched out, but I'm hoping some blocking will fix that. I've finished all of the border repeats and need to select a edging. I swatched the original pattern edging.

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I don't like it. Well, I do like it. It's pretty and lacy and triangular. But it's not for this shawl. It's too, oh I don't know, "triangular" for this project. The edges are too sharp for the lines I've already picked out.

I then swatched a "Veil Nebula Edging."

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It's unblocked, and lumpy and squashed together. I can't decide if I like it or not. I liked the picture in the pattern book. I didn't like the swatch. But the more I look at the picture of the swatch I see the potential that could be if I actually blocked it. I don't know. In the end I don't think it's right. I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, but I'll know it when I see it.

So being unable to make any further progress on my shawl I cast on some socks. Yes, I know, Evil is still lurking on my side-bar waiting for my attention. But I want something I might actually finish so I cast on some socks. I have lovely pink/purple colorways waiting to be made into socks, and some bright self-striping yarn waiting, not to mention my new Yukon yarn. And did I cast on any of those exciting colorful yarns?

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Nope. I'm being a good wife and making socks for The Greatest. He really deserves them. If I'm not going to finish his sweater ever the least I can do is provide him with one pair of socks a year. We flipped through a stitch pattern book together and he selected a "Giant Diamond" pattern.

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It's an easy repetitive pattern. Not too taxing on the brain. Leaves my mind free to think about the perfect edging. But at a mind-numbing 9 stitches per inch it is very slow going.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Attack of the Blue Blob

Being unable to decide whom I should knit socks for first I stuck with my blue blob yesterday.

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Doesn't it look great?

I hate taking things off the needles and putting them on waste yarn. It takes ages to put them all back on the needles. But in the interest of having a good picture to show you I took all 651 stitches off the needles.

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It was so worth it. Isn't it lovely. The color in this picture is more the color it really is, a grey sort of blue. I know it's a little lumpy, but unblocked lace always is. I just love the center square. I almost wish it was larger, or maybe longer so the shawl was more of a stole. But I'm too lazy to rip it all out at this point and make changes. I think the border really compliments the center. It is exactly what I wanted, curvy like the center but more substantial.

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It took me two hours to get it all back on the needles. But it was completely worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Final Scarf

I call this one

Burnt Waffles

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Pattern: Burn Waffles, my own

Yarn: One hank Fawn, and one hand Winter White from Little Miami Alpaca

Needles: Size 10

Review: This is by far my favorite scarf. I didn't want to give this one back. I started out using the Waffle Stitch from Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Knitting. But my work didn't look like the picture. I realized that the chart didn't match the written instructions. Doesn't anyone proof read these things? I liked my work better, so I just stuck with that. (Plus I was tired of frogging stuff.)

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All in all I'm happy to have them finished and on their way. Pictures of the blue blob tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Who needs straight lines?

I've been a busy bunny. In addition to finishing all the scarves, I've finished my cute pink sweater. Sorry, no pictures of that, you'll have to wait until I give it to the Mom first. I've also made a few very cool things for my Knitty Secret Pal, but I can't show those either. I don't think I'm even a blip on my secret pal's radar, but you never know who could wander onto your blog, and I'd hate to out myself like that.

I've resumed knitting on my Shetland Shawl. The blue is very calming, but the pattern could give you an ulcer. Especially when you stop in the middle of a pattern repeat and put it down for a few weeks. I'd show you a picture, but it's just a big blob of blue knitting on circular needles.

I think I'll have to cast-on for some socks or something easy to work on when the children are awake. If I were a good wife I'd work on socks for The Greatest. But I really want to make a lacy sock pattern. I guess this is a test to see just how much I love him, socks for him, or socks for me? Maybe I'll just work on my shawl.

Since I have no pictures of current things to show I'll present you with this

Zig Zag Hoodie

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Pattern: Mine

Yarn: One hank Dark Brown, One hank Winter White from Little Miami Alpaca

Needles: Size 10 straights

Review: Even though I had to completely frog this scarf at the last minute and re-knit the entire thing at the last minute (I blame Boyd for that) I'm very pleased with the finished product. I love the zig-zag lace.

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Although I gave this scarf a deep conditioner soak Pork Chop still chanted "Itchy, itchy, itchy" when I put it on her. I tried it on Bird.

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She just chanted "NO, Mommy, NO." *sigh* Maybe someday she'll love my knitted things.

Pattern: Cast on 22 stitches, eat chocolate
Rows 1,3 and 5: K2, *yo, k2tog, repeat from * to last 2 st, k2, eat chocolate
All Even Rows: K2, p to last 2 st, k2, eat chocolate
Rows 7, 9, 11: K2, *ssk, yo, repeat from * to last 2 st, k2, eat chocolate

work in pattern as set to desired length. Block, eat chocolate while waiting to dry. Fold in half and run an 8 from fold to create hood. Eat chocolate. Add some fringe. Look cute. Eat some chocolate.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

For the Grandmas

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Can you feel the love?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Return Of Boyd

Legal Disclaimer: The Greatest formally protests the pictures in this post. I have assured him that everyone has a spot like this in their home. Having said that, here I go.

I have a confession to make. I lost Boyd. I know he was hanging out in the Christmas Tree. Then we took the tree down and he just disappeared.

I thought I'd put him in the bottom of my knitting bag, but he wasn't there. I decided that of course I would never put him that close to my knitting so he must be in my sock drawer, but alas, no Boyd. Then, realizing I wouldn't put him that close to socks in any stage of being, I deduced that I must have stashed him in my pajama drawer (a favorite place to keep things as a child). But an elaborate search through my old scrub pants and tank tops revealed no trace of that wiley circular needle.

The really ironic part is I was actually contemplating using him. I thought his naturally twisted state of being might be perfect for knitting a mobius scarf in one piece with no seam. But failing to find him I knitted it flat.

Was I sad to have lost Boyd? Maybe a little. He had spunk, and character, even though he was evil. Sure my knitting went a lot smother with no one around to change the pattern, or change my gauge, or simply unravel my work as I slept, but there was also a decided lack of excitement and danger to my knitting.

Not to mention the fact that people I actually know in real life, all three of them, kept telling me they missed Boyd. "Where's Boyd?" "What's he been up to?" "What happened to him after Christmas?" "When's he coming back?" I had no answers for them. I didn't know.

Boyd seemed rather mellow around the holidays. One could even go as far as to say he was unusually humble and contrite. I worried that in his depressed state he had harmed himself. Or finding himself no longer able to bring himself to use his powers for evil in our home, maybe he searched for greener pastures. I feared he had hitched a ride home from knitting group in Big Booty Knits' knitting bag and was now changing gauge on her pink sweater. Or maybe he mailed himself to Candsmom and was as we speak stowed in an air plane hull headed for a warmer climate. I almost missed him.

But today I needed new batteries. Bird's Baby Pooh needed new batteries, again. So I opened our junk drawer to search. A quick rifling produced no AA batteries. So I opened the drawer wider. Still no AA batteries. I tried to open the drawer wider still but it stuck. Now I know we purchased the super-mega-ultra-value pack of AA batteries with enough juice to power a small country and there was absolutely no way we had used all of them in one month. There had to be at least three left. In frustration I jerked hard on the drawer. With an audible pop it flew open and I saw this.

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It's a bit like a Where's Waldo picture isn't it. I see cookie cutters, a sippy cup lid, the missing AA batteries, my cute pink drill (isn't it cute), and wait, what's that I see? Right there, between the drill and the batteries, on top of the scented oil package?

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Why, yes, I do believe that's Boyd.

Stupid Boyd.

Now I know why I've had to restart that pink sweater three times in one day.

Stupid Boyd.

Changing my gauge on my pink sweater.

Stupid Boyd.

Welcome Home.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Back to normal I guess

I must thank everyone for the outpouring of support I've received. I'm actually speechless, so all I can say is "Thank You." (and come on in Dee, join the party, you're not intruding).

Over the last two evening I have planted my butt on the couch with a pair of size 10 needles and my big-ass bag of Hershey's with almonds (thanks SP, although now I'm going to have a big-ass), and I've created this

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Yes, yes it is my final Alpaca Scarf blocking! Happy Dance, Happy Dance. Everyone join me in a Happy Dance. If I had possessed stronger moral fortitude I would have had this stuff done weeks ago. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I decided on a zig-zag lace pattern that I think works well.

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You can't tell, but the scarf is longer than I am tall. It will be folded in half, and a short seam will be made to create a hood, very ingenious, but I can't take credit for the idea, it was the Alpaca Farmer's.

So having finally finished I am now free to knit what ever strikes my fancy. I've been doing a bit of stash enhancing lately, so in addition to my own Alpaca from Christmas I have my SP yarn

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Notice how it is all balled and ready to go. Yes I know I didn't need to ball the Noro, but it was so fun to watch the colors change and feel the yarn in my hands and pretend I'm knitting.

After lusting after Knit Wit's Zephyr yarn I've obtained this big-ass (yup that's my new catch phrase, to go with my new big-ass) cone of Zephyr yarn from e-bay.

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This yarn was purchased as part of the Evil negotiations. Notice I have my yarn, but The Greatest doesn't have his sweater. Funny how that happens

I also placed a knit pics order where I got this

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Some color your own sock yarn (grape and blue-raspberry kool-aid is calling my name), and some Yukon sock yarn. (Not to mention the hydrangea, sweet tart, black and brown sock yarn that is already in my stash. I'm not sure what's up with my recent sock yarn fetish and the complete absence of actually knitting socks)

I've also got the WIP's like Evil and my Shetland Shawl to finish.

So much yarn, so little time.

So what am I working on?

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I know I said no more pink, but when your friend is pregnant with a little girl what can you do but knit pink? So if you are a friend of mine and you happen to be pregnant with a little girl who is due very soon, the following may or may not have anything to do with you.

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Speaking of pink, I also bought this yarn from e-bay like six weeks ago, well before I swore off pink. It finally arrived in the mail yesterday.

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It's pretty, but so stinky I can't stand to have it in the house. It smells like moldy hay. And there's a patch that may be normal color variation, but might be actual mildew. I can't even touch this yarn, handling it makes your hands smell too. I made The Greatest take this picture for me. He's so good to me. I really ought to make him a pair of socks or something *cough*Evil*cough*.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We're going to be fine.

Yesterday was a really hard day for me. I felt numb and shell-shocked from everything that occurred on Monday. Despite evidence to the contrary I'm actually a very private person and the worst of things weren't discussed here. But it is sufficient to say that the rhythm of our lives has irreparably changed and I wandered around yesterday trying to catch the new beat. Feeling hopelessly out of step.

I wandered from room to room touching things. I picked-up stray toys only to put them back down in exactly the same spot. I straightened pictures that were already square. Occasionally I paused to rub the Malabrigo against my skin. Feeling adrift and out of control I sought physical contact with something that could provide an anchor for me and my fears. But the toys were only toys. They were three dimensional with form and weight, but no solace. Straightening pictures made my walls orderly, but not my life. The yarn was soft, but held no wisdom. Failing to manipulate my physical world only made me feel even more lost and adrift with no control over my fate.

As I wandered Bird crossed my path. Running from Meaty she was a study of joy, with smiles, energy, shrieks, and giggles. I scooped her up without thinking, mechanically, the same way I had picked up everything else I had stumbled upon that morning. She squealed in protest at the interruption of her game, but an absentminded tickle sent her body pressed up tight against mine protecting her small tummy. I placed her soft round cheek against mine and felt peace. I smelled her hair and felt courage. I felt the weight of her life in my arms and gained wisdom. I had found my anchor. I knew we would be alright. Not because she was going to make it alright, but because I was going to make it alright for her, and her brother, and her sister.

I was once told that Motherhood gives you strength. That you know you can do anything if you're doing it for your children. As a twenty-one year old newlywed I couldn't imagine that kind of confidence, that surety of knowledge. I wasn't even sure if I could make dinner without burning it, let alone hold the world together by sheer force of will for tiny beings dependent upon you. Yesterday I understood.

We will be alright.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The biggest thank you.

Ever just have a really bad day? I mean really, really, bad.

It starts with the younger kids waking the baby up from her nap when she's only been down for forty-five minutes.

Then you're getting ready to bind off the final alpaca scarf and return to fun knitting, when you realize that this

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while beautiful is entirely too think and not stretchy enough for what you need and the entire thing must be frogged and begun anew with a different stitch. Oh, yeah, and you returned the stitch encyclopedia to the library on Saturday.

Then you try to dry some laundry, and the dryer smells strange and keeps setting of the fire alarm even though there's no smoke anywhere, subsequently waking the baby, again.

And that was just the beginning of my bad, bad, bad, bad day yesterday. Believe it or not things got worse, much worse.

Then I got the mail.

I know I had my doubts about joining the Knitty SP 6. I've never had a good experience with these secret exhange thingies. I usually get forgotten two weeks into the process. I can think of two where I never found out who my secret person was. They just vanished from the face of the earth. So I was unsure about the Knitty exhange. I told The Greatest I didn't know why I was bothering. These things never turn out well for me.

I take it back, all of it.

I got the most amazing package in the mail yesterday.

It had this

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And this

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The children got little bags with candy and stickers too that I took pictures of, then I realized you could clearly see their real names, so instead of pictures of the bags I present them enjoying the peeps (gratitude, plus I fill my Grandmother requirement of one cute picture per post).

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And best of all I got these
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A hank of Cherry Tree Hill Mini Twister in Blues/Greens. A Hank of Malabrigo Kettle Dyed Pure Merino in Lime Blue. And a skein of Noro Silk Garden, color 8. You sure know how to treat a girl! I can't decide which I love the best. They all have such good points, with no down side that I can see. The Malabrigo is uncomparably soft. Bird tried to run off with it for her new lovie, it's that soft. The Greatest must have spent three minutes rubbing it against his face. The colors are so deep and rich. I had a dream last night about the Noro. I dreampt I was making a clapotis with it, and it was, for lack of a better word, dreamy. The colors are so bright and vibrant. The Mini Twister might just be my favorite. I've already wound it into a ball and I'm just loving all the sublte shade variations. It's dark blues, and greens, and even a bit of periwinkle-grey. I'm in love. I'm officially out of my pink/purple knitting phase and will in the future only be knitting exclusively in shades of blue and green (and maybe brown for The Greatest).

Thank You so much Secret Pal. You have gone above and beyond in thinking of me, and collecting things that are so perfect for me. I am truly thankful for your kindness on such a very very bad day. You will never know what this meant to me yesterday. Thank You.

I told The Greatest that Karma must just hate me to present me with such an embarassment of yarn riches that I can't play with until I finish the final Nefarious Scarf.

I never thought I'd see the day where I'd whine about "having" to play with alpaca. Why don't I have more hours in the day to play with my yarn? What do you mean the children "must" be fed three meals a day? The dog lives just fine on one meal. What do you mean you must wash the children with "soap" atleast every other day? What do you mean CPS is coming to collect my children? I swear this is just a big misunderstanding. It's the Malabrigo's fault, it's all the soft Malabrigo's fault. It plotted with the Noro. THE NORO I TELL YOU.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Young Love

I'm bored with scarves. I'm tired of making them, and I'm tired of blogging them.

Instead today I'm going to embarass my five year old.

Now we all know what a pretty girl she is. She came home from school the other day and she was just standing in the kitchen talking to me about school and the kids in her class. And she was really riled up.

"This kid in my class thinks I'm his girlfriend. And I keep telling him that I'm not, but he keeps saying I am. But I..AM..NOT!"

She was all indignant and upset that this boy would like her that much, and refuse to accept her refusal of his affection. In her mind boys are yucky. And I liked it that way.

Then yesterday everything changed. She was outside playing with Bounce on our deck. She came running in the house all excited.

"Mommy, there's a boy playing outside and he wants to play with us. Can he?"

"Sure Baby, just stay on our deck."

Well, the little kids decided they didn't want to play on the deck any longer, so they all had to come inside (it was too muddy to play in the grass).

"Mommy, that boy wants to come inside and play with us. Can he?"

"Um...sure.. I guess... but he needs to ask his Mom first."

Pork Chop and Bounce come running in the house all excited.

"His Mommy said yes. This is Dreamy (not his real name) and he's in, giggle, *first grade*." giggle, giggle, giggle.

In walks a young boy. I guess he was cute if you like six year olds. He was a very polite child. He played well with all my children. He told me all about his dog, and his sisters. Pork Chop just stared at him the entire time with stars in her eyes. Bounce was so upset when her Dad came to pick her up, and she had to leave Pork Chop alone with Dreamy. After all Dreamy is in First Grade.

At one point Dreamy went to the restroom and I used that time to de-brief Pork Chop. Was she having fun? Was she sharing? Was he being nice?

She leaned against the wall and sighed.

"Mom, he's a really great guy."

I might be in trouble.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mobius Madness

Continuing with the unveiling of the Nefarious Scarves I am pleased to present the Mobius Scarf.

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Pattern: My pattern. I think. I'll post it at the bottom.

Yarn: Winter White Alpaca from Little Miami Alpaca, One hank

Needles: Size 9 Straights

Modifications: None, it's my pattern.

Review: I just thought this yarn screamed to be lace. And it delivered. It is delicate and feminine. As with the ribbed scarf I'm really please with how this turned out. I think the scarf could have supported one more width repeat of the pattern, but that's not something that keeps me up at night. I've got insomnia that does that job just fine. Here's a side view.

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Pattern: Bear in mind I'm not a pattern writer. I used the "Curving Lattice Lace" stitch pattern from the Vogue Dictionary of Knitting Stitches, page 91. I would lay out the stitch pattern here, but I'm not sure of the legalities, so I'm erring on the side of caution. Get the book from the library and turn to page 91.

CO 36 st using a provisional cast-on
Row 1: K2, work pattern over 32 st, K2
Row 2: K2, work pattern over 32 st, K2
Continue working in this manner keeping a 2 st garter st border at each edge, and working in pattern over the middle 32 st until piece measures 46 inches.
Put Stitches on waste yarn.
Remove provisional cast-on and place on needle.
Remove stitches from waste yarn and place on needle.
Place needles together being sure to create the half-twist that defines the mobius scarf. (Right side of one end should be pressed against the wrong side of the other end)
Bind Off using the Kitchner Stitch (which is completely not as scary as it sounds, but be sure you're sober and the kids are in bed.)
Admire your clever scarf, then get that drink.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Today I officially jump the shark

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It is a black day indeed. The day I jump the shark. It is impossible to follow such adorable children with something as mundane as a scarf. But here it is anyways.

Submitted for your approval, 60 inches of ribbed hell.

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Pattern: No pattern. CO 50 Stitches. Work in 2x2 ribbing for 60 inches. CO. Add some fringe if you're feeling frisky. (Wonder if I can copywrite that?)

Yarn: Black Alpaca from Little Miami Alpaca

Needles: Size 5 Straights

Modifications: None, since there was no pattern.

Review: I hate ribbing. But I love this yarn. This alpaca yarn is undyed. The yarn is black because it was sheared from a black alpaca. It is nice to work with, but a bit smelly when wet. And very dirty when initially washed. I was appalled by how brown the blocking water turned. I kept thinking about how my children liked to hold the scarf while I was knitting it and rub it on their faces. And it turned the water muddy brown. I let them rub their faces on something that dirty. But it blooms nice and fluffy once washed, and it is very soft.

It's no secret I wasn't loving this scarf while knitting it, but I'm very pleased with the final product. It looks good on everyone. See.

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Alright, she's beautiful, everything looks good on her. But here's the scarf on Meaty.

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He looks serious. A person who will eventually own such a straight laced scarf will probably be very serious, and possibly studious. I wonder if making Meaty wear this scarf will cause him to become more serious and studious.

And finally Bird.

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See how good the scarf looks on her despite her obvioushatred of all hand knitted things.

All in all, I'm glad it's done, but I'm pleased with the results. I imagine that's a bit what plastic surgery would be like. Not a lot of enjoyment in the process, but happiness when it's all over. Yes, getting breast implants would be exactly like knitting a ribbed scarf. And possibly cheaper. Maybe I should abandon yarn and take up plastic surgery as a hobby.

For the record that really is a close up of the scarf at the top of the page.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cuter than a baby in pigtails

We've been over this before. It seems like everyone with a blog is witty and clever. They are all well written, with amazing pictures. My humble blog tries. I do the best I can with what I have. And I think I may have set a record for cuteness on Wednesday. What can be cuter than a baby in pigtails? I feared that anything I did after that would be forever be known as the day I jumped the shark.

Fearing the dreaded shark I sat and I thought to myself "how can I top a baby in pigtails. What can possible by cuter than a baby in pigtails." And in a stroke of inspiration I had it.

What is cuter than a baby in pigtails?

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The answer: Two babies in pigtails. Notice what a camera ham Squeaky is while my angel Bird is infinitely more interested in Dora.

So there you have it. Come back tomorrow when I officially jump the shark by unveiling the Black Alpaca 2x2 Ribbed Scarf.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What I've been doing Part III: I sold my soul to the devil for Alpaca

You know it's bad when your own Mother calls and berates you for not updating your blog. She also pulled the cancer card on me, as in "I have cancer, how dare you make me work to see picture of my grandchildren." I know. I'm nervy. But in the hopes of placating her, here's a cute grandchild, right at the top, no scrolling down necessary.

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Now on to the knitting. I'm getting paid to knit! How cool is that. Remember that Alpaca I got for Christmas. Well, the farmer who raised those Alpacas has commissioned me to knit some scarves for them. The quintet of nefarious Scarves. At first I thought this project would be so much fun. They sent me eight beautiful, soft, just lovely beyond compare hanks of Alpaca. These hanks were to create four scarves.
  • One simple 2x2 ribbed scarf
  • One Mobius scarf
  • One Scarf/Hood combo
  • One textured scarf

It sounds pretty straight forward, but I'm getting an ulcer from this. I'm not just knitting to please myself, using patterns that excite me. I'm trying to please someone else, without really knowing what would please them. They sent me some samples, but they want modifications, and the instructions are all rather vague. I was stunned for a while, just unable to knit anything that looked good. I finally decided to knit what I felt like knitting and they would either like them or they wouldn't. After that things went much faster.

The first scarf is a simple 2x2 ribbed scarf in black alpaca. 60 inches of ribbing on size 5 needles. And we all know how much I love ribbing. *cough*Evil*cough* It took me ages to do. I may flat out refuse to knit another one. It's soaking for some simple blocking so no pictures right now.

Next I turned to the mobius scarf. I tried several, as in eight, different things before finally deciding on a curvy lattice lace stitch, similar to the Print O'the waves pattern I used for the middle of my blue shawl. I knit it flat with a provisional cast on. It is currently blocking. Once it's dry I will use a kitchener stitch to seam the edges together. Here take a peek.

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I'm pretty pleased with it, but the farmer was resistant to the idea of a lace scarf, so I have no idea if they'll like it or not.

Now I'm off to knit my next scarf. I'm holding two strands together, and I'm using big needles, so it should go relatively fast. (I hope)