Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Easter Looms

Easter looms large on the horizon. Like a portent of hard times ahead Easter looms. Dark and foreboding. It haunts me drawing ever nearer. Easter should not loom. It should not be dark. And it most certainly should not herald doom.

Easter should be pastel. All baby blues, baby pinks, and butter soft yellows. Soothing colors of spring, and new life. There's a reason we dress babies in Easter colors. Easter should never be shaded in grey, it must be pastel...

With bunnies. Easter should be over-run with bunnies. I love bunnies. I used to have a litter trained bunny named Georgia Anne. She loved to run around dragging a Wal-Mart plastic bag behind her. We called the bag Mr Rustle. She also loved eating term papers. I remember returning to my dorm room one fine day to find my roommate clutching a half eaten piece of paper screaming at the bunny "You're not a rabbit! You're a goat!" To be completely truthful, there's a teeny tiny chance my room mate might not have loved the bunny as much as I did. But The Greatest loved my bunny, and I loved The Greatest. How can things be dark with memories like these? Soft fluffy bunnies who drag around plastic bags and eat important documents.

Easter should also mean sugar! And lots of it. First of all there's the chocolate. And not just any ordinary run of the mill chocolate. It's egg shaped chocolate. Don't you know the oval dimensions gives it more flavor. Mmmmmmmmm.......Oval Dove Chocolate. And there's tiny oval Snickers, and Butterfingers too. Not to mention the caramel Cadbury mini-eggs. Easter is the only time of year you can get the caramel mini-eggs. And the Sweet-Tarts shaped like bunnies and chicks. And the Starburst jelly beans. I'm not a fan of the jelly beans (unless they're black), but the Starburst ones? I'll make an exception for these. *sigh*I love Easter Candy. It's way better than Halloween candy. Who can fore tell doom with this much sugar coursing through your veins?

Easter should mean new white shoes, and pastel church dresses. Tiny straw hats for the girls, white with ribbons and flowers. Tiny white gloves on tiny fingers. A big boy shirt for the little man with buttons and a tie. Easter should mean shopping!

And the real meaning for Easter? It's too special for my blog, but we all know it means joy and eternal happiness. Where's the downside to that?

Yet, I find no joy in Easter this year. The bunny has not stocked up on a single piece of candy. She has not sought out the perfect new sunglasses and tooth brushes that the bunny always brings every year (go figure, the bunny brings candy and a new toothbrush). Instead of heralding fluffy bunnies and more sugar than a human should consume in one sitting, Easter heralds doom.

The last time I spoke to my Mom was on Good Friday. That was the last day I had a real meaningful conversation with my Mom. I wrote about it in on my blog last year. I said she tried to tell me all the things you tell someone you think you might not get to talk to again. I honestly didn't realize at the time that it really would be the last time I would talk to her. I thought there was more time. I thought there would be more to say. More laughter and stories. More time with her. If I had realize I would have stayed longer, I would have said more. I would have talked to her forever, as if I could have kept her alive in that moment forever. I wish I could have kept her from dying.

Easter was the last time I saw my Mom out of bed. She tried to be a part of Easter. She sat in a living room chair drifting in and our of sleep, I'm assuming from the painkillers. Unable to carry on a conversation but wanting so much to spend the holiday with her grandchildren she sat in the chair until we made her return to bed. As far as I know she didn't leave her bed after that. Again I didn't realize at the time that would be it. This would be our last holiday, our last memories. I thought she was having an especially bad day but I would get to talk to her tomorrow. Denial is an ugly thing sometimes.

So Easter looms large this year. No chocolate and bunnies for me.

I'm sad today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sock Madness Round 2 - A FO Report - Madtini Socks

Well, I made it through round 2. Not only did I get through round 2 but by some crazy fluke I was the first knitter done. I know, the first one! I never thought of myself as a particularly speedy knitter, but maybe I've got some skills.

I sat down to knit after my family had gone to bed and I just knit and knit and knit. I watched TV shows I'd never seen before online. The dog and cat wandered in My little helpersto keep me company and eventually fell asleep around me. It was peaceful. It was so quiet, and my house is never quiet. I revel in the sound of my children. I love to hear them playing, laughing, and imagining. If they play quietly it is an ominous silence. A silence all mothers recognise as the heralding of certain doom. But this was a different sort of silence. The silence of breathing, and dreams, and a days work done. A beautiful silence. I'd forgotten how lovely it can be to sit all by oneself in the silence and just breath. I wasn't tired, I was happy, and I didn't want to break the spell. So I just kept knitting, wrapped in solitude and contentment...all night. I was surprised when dawn came and The Greatest got up for work. The night had passed and I had finished one sock with only the toe to go on the second sock. The toe quickly knit and I was finished in time to make breakfast for the children. It's a shame my first incarnation of the pattern wasn't right.

All wrong

They look pretty good one might think. Not to shabby for being knit in one night. But I made an error in the pattern. A sock disqualifying error. I made a stupid Disqualifying cufferror in the first line of the pattern. I can't even blame it on up-all-night-I-read-the-pattern-wrong-at-3 a.m. knitting. This was a mistake in the third stitch I knit for the socks. A mistake I repeated over and over and over again. Without giving too much of the pattern away the stitch pattern for the cuff is *Yo, k2, pass yo over k2* a simple 2 stitch repeat. But I read it as *yo, k2, pass yo over, k2* That doesn't look any different, but it is. I mentally added a comma. That comma makes it a four stitch repeat. That comma makes it wrong. So my socks were rejected.

But I wasn't ready to concede defeat yet. I took a little trick I learned while knitting Starsky courtesy of Knittypant's tutorial. I cut the offending cuff off. Bear in mind that at this point I had been up all night knitting. My hands hurt. The yo pattern was not forgiving to the hands. My hands ached. My eyes twitched with fatigue. I was going down for the count and I wanted a shower. I was a soup sandwich. But I had come this far I was not giving up yet. I took tiny scissors to my knitting and thought "Oh my, there may be no coming back from this." The yarn over pattern was such a pain to take out stitch by stitch from the wrong direction, I was ready to give up. I'm not competitive by nature and this was really becoming ridiculous. No longer the peaceful knitting experience that kept me up all night, this was work, and a lot of it. But I had come this far. I decided to see it through to the end. I managed to pick up my stitches and knit the correct cuff from the bottom up.

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I submitted my new sock for judging and the final verdict was good! Despite the fact that I knit the cuff from the wrong direction they took pity on me and accepted my sock. And I was still the first one done. Round 3 here I come!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sock Madness - a FO Report

As you may or may not know, I've joined a little thing called Sock Madness. Basically it's a knitter against knitter knitting elimination tournament, a bit like the March Madness basketball stuff (I guess, I've never watched basketball, and thankfully neither does The Greatest). Sure, it'd be nice to win and be crowned the fastest sock knitter of the tournament. But if we're being honest, I'm a pattern whore. I'm in it for the exclusive-available-only-to-participants patterns.

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Pattern: Sock Madness Mad-Cow Socks

Yarn: 1 skein Regia Bamboo, 1 skein Mandarin Petit (100% cotton)

Needles: Size 2 dpns

Modifications: I knit these socks on dpns instead of 2 circular needles. All other modifications are strictly against the tournament rules and regulations.

Review: Before I begin, here is my disclaimer. My displeasure in the pattern is no reflection upon the design itself, or the organizers of Sock Madness. They are all wonderful and doing a superb job. Any flaws in the socks are mine alone.

I don't like my socks.

Round 1 yarnI love the bamboo yarn. It is so thin and elegant and drapey. I love the cotton yarn. It is so soft and squishy. Hear that? I paired a drapey yarn with a squishy yarn. Mistake number one.

What is mistake number two? My yarn looked beautiful sitting side by side. The blue cotton picked up the blue tones in the brown yarn. It was a perfect combination. To So pretty side by side, where did it all go wrong?me it looked like my new home, the brown mountains and the blue sky ever present out my windows. I was in love. Chocolate browns and blues, heaven. Knitted up, not so much loving as overwhelmed. Too much blue. It overpowers the brown, and the blue in the bamboo yarn gets completely lost. I think it might have looked better if I had reversed the sock. Brown toe, heel, and ribbing. But I didn't want to break the rules, and the rules called for a solid toe, so solid I went. With my stoic adherence to the rules the blue cotton saw it's chance to stage a hostile take-over. Letting the blue stage a coup d'etat? Mistake number two.

Then I did things like not reading the pattern all the way through and realizing there was a top down version (mistake number 3), knitting a toe-up sock, hating it, realizing I had a top down version, and frogging first sock (costly time mistake number 4) and in the interest of time not learning to knit a jog-less stripe (mistake number 5).

Yes, this sock is fatally flawed. All the flaws are mine alone. I'm looking forward to round number two later today. I'm hoping to knit fast, but create a sock with a little more quality to it. After all, even if I don't advance to the next round I still get the patterns right? And that's the important part.

Although the list of supplies was posted ages ago, in the interest of monetary conservation I did not purchase supplies in advance. My purpose was two-fold. I was hoping to use stash yarn, and I didn't want to buy a bunch of yarn in case I was eliminated in the first round. So much for either thought. I had to make a special trip to my LYS for round one yarn (I own NO solid sock yarn). And Tuesday I realized I didn't have any appropriate yarn for round two. When The Greatest came home from work I told him I would have to go the LYS, only to discover the LYS isn't open past 5:30. The is another store an hour away that is open until 9:00 on Tuesdays. Guess who took me to the other store? Not only did he buy me blue heathered Australian Wool for round two...

All set for round 2

But somehow 1 skein of lace weight merino, 2 skeins of Plymouth Encore and a skein A little something for meof pink Malabrigo also came home with me. He is truly The Greatest! Don't worry, this wasn't a case of meaningless SEX (Stash Enhancing Expedition people, quit being so dirty). The lace weight is for a commissioned shawl, the Encore is for some test knitting I'm doing, and the Malabrigo, well the Malabrigo is just because I love it and need it for my pink girl hat after Meaty selfishly took my blue for his blue boy hat. What are the Vegas odds that Bird gets a new pink girl hat with this?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Let's turn from failure to stunning success

I'm still soliciting advice for my Desperate Cry For Help so feel free to add any input you think might be helpful. I'd also like to thank everyone for the kind words of encouragement I've received. It strokes my poor bruised ego and keeps me going.

Today I would like to turn your attention away from the potential failure that is my Father's sweater and refocus you on some fine-ass knitting.

I went to a dinner party last week. It was a casual dinner for all the graduates and their wives. I was very excited to go and be the proud wife of the Graduate. I was even more excited to go without the children since Grandpa was in town. Time alone with The Greatest is at a premium lately, so an entire dinner alone was very decadent. I tried to mingle with the other wives. I've realized that I've reached a certain age where I have no patience for ditsy young girls anymore. I'm not that old, so this realization makes me feel old and sad. Especially since I used to be the very ditsiest of ditsy young girls.

I did meet a nice woman who had brought her baby with her, it was her third child, and she was still nursing. She was transplanted from the Midwest, like myself. We had much in common and I adored her on sight. She lamented the lack of baby hats in the southwest. She claimed all the babies were under dressed and she could not find a hat for her baby to wear at night, or in the air conditioning (yes, the air conditioning is turned on in many places already and it is only March. I may die this summer but that is a different topic all together). I was hesitant to offer, you never know what people will think, but I volunteered to knit her a hat. She was ecstatic. So I set about knitting her a hat for her baby. I wasn't sure I would get it done in two days time, in time to give it to her at the graduation. But the baby is a tiny one, thus the hat was a tiny one so I did indeed finish the hat in time. The Mother sought me out the moment I walked through the door for the graduation. She had heard through the grapevine (The Greatest) that I had finished the hat and she couldn't wait to see it. She might have been more excited about the hat than the graduation. It is so nice to knit for someone who is equally excited to receive.

And what hat did I knit for the poor hatless baby?

Baby Shidar

Pattern: Shidar

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino

Needles: 2 size 3 Addi Turbos

Modifications: I first saw the baby Shidar here at Anny Purls. But the actual modifications were found here at Something from Nothing.

Review: I love this yarn. I love cashmere and cashmere blend yarns. They're just so soft. Sinfully soft. They glide through your fingers like no other. After I work with cashmere I want to cry when I pick up other yarns. It's just not the same. If only cashmere would wear better. I would knit exclusively with cashmere cost be damned. I guess that's why cashmere wears so terribly. Because God wants my children to go to college. But for a baby hat I figured the Cashmerino in my stash would hold up until the baby outgrew it. The finished object was delightfully soft and squishy.

The Shedir pattern was very fun to knit. Upon initial download the chart scared me. I might have cried a little just looking at it wondering if I could knit something so complicated, especially under a deadline. But looks can be deceiving and this was a quick knit indeed. The mods for the baby version said to drop all the knit straight rows after the cables were finished. I did so and that might have been a mistake. I think the decreases were to severe, and the hat might have been creeping up off the baby's head, but I wasn't close enough to the baby to tell for sure. It might be better to knit a decrease row, then one row plain, but I'm just speculating here. What I do know to be fact is this is one cute hat!

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I wish I had taken a photo of the baby in the hat, she was extra cute. And you can fold the ribbing up if the hat is a little big, and the hat is even cuter that way. But I'm a bad blogger and I missed the photo ops. My sincerest apologies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Desperate Cry for Help!

When there is so much to blog about it is hard to know where to begin. So much has happened, do I write a huge catch-up post? Post a little each day and hope no new blog fodder occurs? Forget it all and blog from where I'm at now? Blogging is tricky. People don't realize what an art writing the perfect blog post is. I have my good days and my bad days.

I think for now I'll blog my most pressing issue: My Desperate Cry For Help!

No, I'm not asking for a knitting intervention. I made a resolution to knit less this year and I think I've kept it admirably. I was updating my side bar and I've only presented four Finished Objects so far this year, one of which was knit last year. Yes I do have two other projects that are finished and need shown. Plus Starsky that is nearly done. Oh, yeah, and I did knit an entire pair of socks in two days while my Father was here last week, and maybe a tiny complicated cabled baby hat, but really. I'm doing much better than I was last year people. Less knitting, more living in 2007. Anyways....

The cry of help isn't for me. It's for my Father's Aran Sweater.

The sweater that almost was.

Before I moved last year I measured my Father and his favorite sweater. I was going to knit my Dad a sweater. Not just any sweater, mind you, a perfect sweater. It would be cabled. Not just one cable, but many perfect cables that twist and compliment one another in a cream colored piece of perfection. My expectations were completely reasonable and not at all too high.

All the cablesI swatched twenty different cable patterns, which is saying something since we all know how much I love to swatch and block. I arranged them on the floor in every possible combination until I found the perfect one. Then I knit a final swatch with all the cables in one swatch just to be sure, discovered it was too wide, and tried again. After three "final swatches" I had it. The perfect width, the perfect cables, knit in the perfect wool which would lead to the perfect sweater.

The sweater really was a labor of love for me. I measured and did math until my calculator broke. I knit and cabled until I couldn't stand the sight of a cable needles. I picked up and knit the collar five times. I cried when I frogged the fourth attempt, but the fifth made it all worth wile. The body was beautiful.

That's not a mistake, it's a design elementBut the sleeves. Oh, the sleeves. The first attempt went wrong. And it was sheer laziness. I didn't make an all moss stitch gauge swatch, so the first sleeve was too wide. The second attempt contained a fatal math error in my arm cap decreases (stupid broken calculator). But the third? The third attempt was a beautiful thing. And set right into the sweater body the way a sleeve should. I excitedly sewed up the seams, wove in the ends and anxiously awaited my Father's arrival. Tangible love. This sweater was tangible love he could wear and feel wrapped around him, warm and beautiful, like love should be.

I gave it to him, and he cried.

I joked "Don't cry yet, it could all go bad."

And it did. It went so very bad. The body was perfect, the cables looked perfect, the neck was perfect. But the sleeves, the stupid, stupid sleeves.

It all went so wrong

Yes they are too long, but that is not the real issue here. The real issue is the top of the sleeve, the stupid puffy sleeve.

Stupid Puff

I think I know where it all went wrong. I measured a sweater with drop sleeves. So the shoulder measurements were meant to hang over the shoulder and down the arm, which this sweater would do if it didn't have the set-in sleeves. I think the shoulders might be inherently too wide for set-in sleeves. So I think I should knit some drop sleeves. I will have to shorten the depth of the armhole (to use the fancy technical term) which means ripping out the perfect collar, but I know how to knit the perfect collar now, so that shouldn't be so bad right?

I've been wondering if there is a way to design the sleeve cap to fit the existing arm hole. Maybe something short with wide bind offs at the top. Less of an elegant bell shape and more of an overturned pot, to pull the shoulders down the arm a bit?

Or since I'm frogging would it be better to frog down to the original underarm bind offs, bind off more to make the shoulders more slender and allow for a set-in sleeves?

It makes me feel just a little faint contemplating it all. Please don't tell me just to leave it, as I have already taken out the sleeves and frogged the top of the first one. I don't know who was more upset, me or my Dad. He really would have worn the sweater puffy sleeves and all, and for that he really deserves a perfect fit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I need one more day

I have lots to blog about. I've got tons of pictures from my Dad's visit. Stories to tell. The Greatest graduated and demanded a new name (which he isn't going to get. He'll always be The Greatest). Three FOs to report. And a desperate cry for knitting help.

But not today.

Today I still miss my Dad.

I need another day before I can return to normal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Maybe I do have a shot!

Mad-Cow Socks FINISHED

And I'm not even the last one done in my division! I must say that knitting with the top 16 done advancing is a little easier than head-to-head knitting. I fear for the next round. (Pardon the crummy photo, I was really tired when I finally finished these.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sock Madness

Poor little half-finished pair of Mad Cow Socks

I don't think I'll make it through the first round. But it was a valiant effort. Congrats to Katrina, Tam, and all the other finalists.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My cup runneth over today!

My Daddy is coming! ('ll warn you right now. I intend to use an obscene amount of exclamation points in this post! I'm excited and I make no apologies!)

I've missed him so since we moved! I worry about him, and I can't wait to have him in my home! Once here I'll surround him with children and chaos and noise until he begs to go home! We will laugh and eat and sight see until the children cry with exhaustion!

I will give him this sweater!

Cable sweater for my Daddy

I designed it for him, and I'm still not sure about the sleeves. I've re-knit the sleeves twice and the sleeve cap three times. It looks good now lying flat, but I tried the sweater on and the top of the sleeve cap seems a bit poofy. I'm not sure if there just isn't enough me to fill the cap out and on my Dad it will look fine, or if it's sewn in badly and I need to re-sew it. I'll figure it out after I have him try it on. He doesn't know I finished it, but with my Daddy being currently confined on a plane I should be safe in posting pictures.

Here's a sleeve, with cable-y goodnessI've got a busy week next week. In addition to my Daddy coming, next Tuesday my Mother-in-law will be flying out. My children will be blessed with an over abundance of Grandparent-type love! I'm sure they will watch too much TV, and eat too many cookies! They will probably leave any store they venture into with something they don't need! And if Pork Chop's loose tooth falls out next week as it is threatening to do, the Tooth Fairy will bring enough money to fund her college education!

Why, oh why, will my house soon be over-run with Parental Units? Because next Cable Close-upThursday The Greatest graduates! I'm so proud of him I frequently cry when I think about it! He has worked so hard, getting up at 3 a.m., coming home at 6 p.m. He's learned to make j-turns in the Expedition and how to cuff someone and still look cool (something he frequently practices on the children)! I'm proud of him for reaching his goal, and those who can are coming to celebrate!

So if I'm quite for a week, it's not because I'm sad. This week I'm very, very happy!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hey you!


Look over here!

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That's all.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I can not show my face on my blog until I block Starsky.

And I haven't blocked it yet.

I must make a confession.

This knit holds no interest for me anymore.

That makes me wistful and sad.

I want to love Starsky.

I want to lovingly smooth the knit out. Pin it to perfection and allow it to dry.

I just don't want to touch the heavy wet alpaca.

I'm worried the straight pins I use for blocking are starting to rust.

I can't have anymore rust issues with Starsky.

When you'd rather do your taxes than play with your knits, you know you are in a bad bad place.

I should cast on something new!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Knitting is a lot like parenting

Sometimes as a parent we make mistakes. Not huge mistakes, like not feeding the children for a week, or giving them knives to teeth on. Just little mistakes, like feeding them marshmallows with their dinner. (They didn't go to bed until nine last night) These aren't intentional mistakes, just innocent well-intentioned mistakes. The kind of mistakes that pave the road to a really warm place. The thought was well-meaning. The execution was fatally flawed.

Really it's the hospital's fault. When I was little I thought my Mom knew everything. I was sure they had given her a big manual at the hospital when she had her first child. This great big manual contained the answers to everything. If only the hospital had given me MY copy of the manual when Pork Chop was born things would be so much easier. The manual would have told me that technicolored flavored mini-marshmallows were a bad idea. But, alas, I have no manual. No cheat sheet for the tricky answers. I blame the hospital.

Then there are the mistakes born of pure frustration. Like when one child is screaming because another child won't give them a toy. Often the non-sharing child is blamed when really shouldn't something be said to the child who is stealing the toy. On a good parent day one might look to see if this was a sharing issue, or a stealing issue. On a bad parent day one might just want the children to be quiet, and if giving the toy to the screaming child will ensure said silence then why for the love of all that's good doesn't the non-sharer just give the screamer the toy? NOW!

Not that things like that happen in my house. I'm just dealing in hypotheticals.

Parenting is tricky.

As is knitting. So when one knit is frustrating a knitter, said knitter might put all her knits in a time-out. Even if one of her knits is soaking in soapy water, that knit might be put in time out as well to drown all weekend while the knitter relaxes. Said knitter might be so sick of yarn she might fill her time with other diversions like refinishing the kitchen chairs, or filing her taxes (I owe $23.00 to a city I no longer live in). The poor unjustly punished knit might still be sitting in a bowl of water on the bathroom counter.

Not that things like that happen in my house. I'm just dealing in hypotheticals.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

FO Report: Scheherazade Shawl

Mirror Image

Pattern: Scheherazade Shawl

Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace, color RJ-2105, 3 skeins

Needles: Size 2 straight needles

Modifications: None

Center Lace

Review: I've knit a shawl from Pink Lemon Twist before. That pattern was flawless and a joy to knit. This pattern was the same. Clear direction. Nice charts. Beautiful design. Despite the nasty shock of realizing that Chart 6 was not the end, I was going to have to turn the shawl around and knit all 283 rows in the opposite direction, the knitting went quickly, very quickly. It was almost addictive finishing the charts. In the dark of night I would keep knitting, telling myself "Just a few more rows and this chart will be done. Just finish this chart and you can go to sleep". Blocking was a pain, but rest assured all flaws from blocking are mine and should in no way reflect poorly on the shawl or the shawl designer. My edges are still wavy. I've got to find a better way to block.

Who knew my back was so sexy?I can not say enough about this red color. I simply love it. Bright and vibrant, a stark contrast to the neutral creams and browns I tend to knit my sweaters in. The soaking water turned pink both times I blocked it, so I'm a little concerned it might become my pink shawl. Should I put vinegar in the water next time?

The texture of the finished shawl is like satin. The alpaca has such a sheen to it, and a silky feel. I love Knitpicks lace weight, for the price you can not beat their Alpaca Mist. But this yarn leaves Knitpicks in the dust. I still have three and a half skeins of the red lace weight left and I can not wait to knit with it again.

In a silly related note, I googled Scheherazade Shawl to find the link to the pattern, and my blog came up before the actual pattern link. How cool it that! You can google and get ME!

End lace

Tomorrow? maybe Starsky? I cut it last night, and it wasn't pretty. We'll see how the recovery goes today.