Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You're Not Perfect, But I Love You Anyway

The Very Vanilla Mittens were finished on December 23rd. But with the chaos we call "Christmas", this is the first chance I've had to blog about them.






FO Details:
Project:
Very Vanilla Mittens - that's the name I've given them. They're actually called Classic Mittens and you can get the pattern for free at Free Vintage Knitting.
Started: December 09, 2007
Completed:
December 23, 2007
Made For: Sophia to match her Sugar On Snow hat. And they're also my December project for the Do Something New KAL as they're the first mittens I've ever made.
Yarn: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Chunky in shade 021 (cream). It only took 1 skein (69 yards) to make these, which I'm very impressed with. =)
Modifications: The pattern called for worsted weight yarn, so I modified it for the chunky.
My Thoughts: Overall I'm happy with these. In hindsight, the one thing I would change is that I'd have made them just a little wider. When Sophie wears them, they stretch a little across the widest part of her hands, making the fabric thinner. I worry they won't be as warm as they could be, or that they won't completely keep the snow away from her skin. There is no snow right now, so I'll have to wait to find out. I really like this pattern though, and I could see myself using it again. It gives a large range of sizes, from 2 years all the way through men's medium. This is a vintage pattern (I'm not sure what year it was published), and I did find the way the instructions were worded to be very strange in some places. I've been knitting for 3 years, but I wondered if it might have caused some confusion had I been a new knitter.

And now there is nothing on my needles. There's a couple reasons for that. The first, I've been busy sewing for my Etsy shop. The second, I've procrastinated massively about adding the finishing touches to the Seed Stitch Dress, Marshmallow Bonnet & Mary Janes. In an effort to give myself a kick across the finishing line, I've imposed a No-New-Knitting rule until those are completed. I tend to be defiant when rules are imposed on me. So, the only thing that's going on right now is me defiantly avoiding finishing them, while I longingly gaze at new stuff. =}

Hope you all had a great Christmas. Here's a favorite pic from ours:



Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Letter

To whom it may concern,
I'd like to officially opt out of the need to sleep. With 6 to 8 additional hours every day, I could have this, this, this, this, and this, and this, and this, and a pair of these, and a few of these knit up in no time at all. Now, I'm sure your very busy and get a lot of requests like this. And I have made many attempts to forgo sleeping on my own. But I would not call any of them successful. Without exception, they've resulted in things like my daughter walking around muttering, "Where did my Mom go, and who is this cranky crazy lady?" Or embarrassingly frequent incidences of me walking into a room thinking, "I know I came in here to do something .................now if I could just remember what it was........." I thank you ahead of time for your cooperation on this matter.

Sincerely,
Steph

P.S. If you could kindly point me in the direction of who I need to speak to about no longer needing to shower, it would be much appreciated. Specifically, if I could just take one shower and have it be enough to keep me sufficiently clean for the next 50 to 60 years that I plan to be here. Twenty minutes a day may not sound like a lot, but it really adds up over time. I've attempted to take that matter into my own hands as well, but I really missed having my friends come around.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And Mittens Too

I really like knit hats, but there's one thing I like more. Knit hats with matching mittens. So I searched around for a pattern to make a pair to go with Sophie's Sugar On Snow hat. I looked through my knitting book collection, poked around Ravelry, and did a Google search. I found many, many different patterns, and some were quite beautiful. But none of them were what I had in mind. I was looking specifically for a rounded, classic, simple shape. Then I came across these. While the whole one-is-red,-one-is-green-embroidered-"stop"-and-"go" thing didn't appeal to me, the shape of them was exactly what I was looking for. Plus the pattern is free, which meant I was able to start on them right away. Click on the link on that page to get to the pattern for the very appropriately named "Classic Mittens". I cast on Sunday night, and even only being able to work on them a row here, a row there, I'm nearly done. One mitten is finished and blocked and the other is knit to the point where I increase for the thumb. These are my first mittens by the way. I can say with much certainty, they won't be my last. I'm using Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Chunky, the same yarn I used for Sugar On Snow. So far I've only used 3/4 of a skein. How can you not love a project that knits up so quickly and is likely to use up not much more than 1 skein of yarn?!


I'm naming them the Very Vanilla Mittens, for obvious reasons - both color and simplicity of design. Sophie asked me, "But what if I get them dirty?" I said, "I'll wash them. Don't worry about it. Get them as dirty as they need to get, in order for you to have had fun playing." She smiled. I've just never been one of those "Don't get dirty" moms. I don't divide clothes into "School Clothes" and "Play Clothes". I think material things are there to be enjoyed, not worried about. But the biggest reason I have that attitude, is that I think childhood is a precious and fleetingly passing part of life. Soon enough, Sophie will be initiated into the adult world with it's many responsibilities and endless sources of stress. I say, play in the mud, have a who-can-get-the-dirtiest contest, chase the bugs as they fly through the air, eat grass for no other reason than to see what it's like to be a horse. And love every minute of it, for that time will pass so much faster than you could ever imagine. Or better yet, carry that energy and zest for life with you into adulthood. I leave you with a detail shot of our Christmas Tree.



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Aw Suga' Suga'................Honey Honey



My Sugar On Snow FO
Started: November 19, 2007
Finished: November 30, 2007
Knit For: The Do Something New KAL, and given to Sophia. For the month of November my new technique to try was cables. And let me tell you, these were some easy cables. They consisted of "K2tog but do not drop stitches from left needle, k into first of these sts again, drop both stitches from left needle." Prior to doing this project, when I thought of cables, I envisioned things like using cable needles, or learning how to do it w/0 the cable needle, and having to focus to be sure I was crossing in the right direction. I had no idea such simple cables as this existed. Once I realized how simple this pattern was, I was a little disappointed. I had been looking forward to really expanding my knitting techniques. But if anything, it whetted my appetite for cables. Expect to see more adventuress attempts in the future.
The pattern: I thought it was really well written and found no errors. I appreciated the authors thoughtfulness in things like giving gauge in stockinette for the purpose of yarn substitution, and advising that if you choose to substitute a merino wool yarn (which has more spring) in place of the recommended Alpaca/Silk, then you should work an additional repeat to ensure the hat will be long enough.
Yarn: I substituted Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Chunky (in Cream) for the Knit Picks Elegance. Used Tahki Cotton Classic (in Red) for the I-cord.
Modifications: From reading about other peoples experience with this pattern on Ravelry, I saw that a lot of them were disappointed that theirs came out shorter than they had hoped for. So I was careful to try the in-progress hat on Sophia quite a few times. I ended up working two whole extra 4 row repeats beyond what the pattern recommended in order for it to be long enough to comfortably cover her ears. If there's anything that will ruin my opinion of a hat that I otherwise would love, is its being too short. I think it looks dorky.











Sunday, December 2, 2007

Convicts, Felt, Christmas, And Squirrels

I happened upon the cutest Christmas crafting book at the library the other day. It's brought to us by none other than Martha Stewart. I'm really not sure what my opinion on her is, other than the fact that I love her crafts. I read one of her many biographies awhile back, and it certainly didn't shine the most flattering light on her. However, I also know that just because some thing's in print, it doesn't make it true.
The book is called Classic Crafts And Recipes Inspired By The Songs Of Christmas. There are quite a few projects I would definitely make. And I had taken more pictures than the ones that are included in this post. Unfortunately, the sun seems to have gone on winter vacation from my area of Pennsylvania, so a lot of the pictures didn't come out. Anyway, it was adoration at first sight when I saw the felt stockings and coasters.




So much so, that I felt inspired to make my own coasters, plus give them a little bag to be tucked into when not in use. These were really fun to make.











My favorites are the acorns with the squirrel bag. And yes, I have been knitting too. I finished Sophie's Sugar On Snow for the Do Something New KAL and I love how it came out. I'll try to post FO pictures of it on Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Many Thanks

I am thankful for.........

  • Sophia. The person who changed my life. She showed me how shallow my concept of love was before she existed. Opened my eyes to the fact that most of the things I used to value and worry about are ridiculously insignificant. Taught me that "now" is the only moment we ever have, and not to waste it. She reminds me that it's the little things that count, and not to overlook them in my effort to get the "big things" perfect. And she gives the best hugs. =)
  • My health. Without it, I wouldn't be able to enjoy so many of the things I take for granted.
  • My ability to create things with my hands. It's been an immense source of pleasure since the first time I picked up a crayon.
  • Nature. God is the most awe inspiring artist of them all.
  • The lessons life has taught me thus far. I may not have enjoyed them when I was learning them, but they've made me better than I've ever been.
  • Books. I can't imagine my life without them.
  • Friends. Not acquaintances, I mean friends. The ones that you know will drive X number of miles to pick you up, when very few others would. Both literally and figuratively, they would never leave you stranded.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

UnBlocked

For the last few days I've been wanting to work on Sugar On Snow. Wanting to knit. Wanting to sew. I've been wanting to blog too. But couldn't seem to do any of those things. That place in me that creative endeavors and forms of self expression spring forth from was blocked. I'd swatch for the hat, rip it out. Swatch again, make mindless mistakes, and rip again. Choose a new color, hoping that would make a difference. Started knitting the hat, feeling completely distracted and disconnected from what my hands where doing, misinterpret the (very simple) pattern, and have to rip back again. After hours of effort, this was the extent of my progress:



My mind would wander off on things I wanted to blog about. And though there seemed like there were more words than could fit in my head, I couldn't organize them into anything tangible, anything worthy of others eyes. I was feeling the complete opposite of inspired.
And bubbling not so very far beneath the surface of it all, was the undeniable cause of it all. I was angry. The kind of angry that follows a person around relentlessly, like an unwelcome house guest who never shuts up.
In the last few months, some very stressful things have happened in my life. Some of them hurt. Some of them left me feeling completely disoriented. And some made me more pissed off than I've felt in years. For the purpose of this post, I don't think it's necessary to go into detail about those things. And if I'm being completely honest, I'm not quite sure I'd be comfortable writing about them here. Since this blogs inception, I've struggled with the question of how personal I want it to be. And I still don't know the answer to that. I do know that first and foremost, I want it to be about my knitting, sewing, and craft projects. But I also feel that my personal life and my crafting life are very much intertwined, that each is influenced by, and shows up in the other.
I think sometimes when difficult events happen in our lives, we convince ourselves that we are in fact "dealing" with them, because we manage to carry on with the tasks and responsibilities of life, in spite of it all. But in reality, instead of truly facing the unpleasant emotions, we shut off some part of ourselves in order to cope. What I'm noticing, is that I don't get to pick and choose which emotions I stuff down and ignore, while still having access to freely feel the ones I want to. In order to keep inspiration flowing, I need to pull the stopper out my bottled up emotions. I don't know if everything I've just written makes sense to you. But I know that I feel much better just for having acknowledged these things to myself. Look, I can knit again!






Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm Dying

To knit something for myself, that is. =) You may not be able to tell from all of my recent blog posts, but I really do love to knit adult things. And especially adult things for ME. But unfortunately, it'll have to wait a bit longer. Both the front and back of the Seed Stitch Dress are completed and blocking, though you can only see part of the front in the picture.
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Yes, it's sad, but true..............I do not own a blocking board. My ironing board will have to suffice for now. Or in instances like this one, where all the pieces will not fit on my ironing board, a folded up towel. =)
The next thing that's going on my needles is my November project for the Do Something New KAL. It needs to be something I can complete by the end of November. I've never knit cables before, and having lived in Florida for the last three years, Sophia's collection of winter hats has dwindled down to a pathetic level. So I chose Sugar On Snow from the Fall 2006 Knitty. I'm planning to choose a yarn from my stash and swatch tonight.
Now, onto something exciting I've been meaning to blog about for almost two weeks. Do you remember when I lamented about the fact that Kim Hargreaves patterns (which I LOVE) can only be purchased in kit form? Well, not only has Kim come out with a beautiful new collection of patterns, she's made them available in book form! That's right, I can purchase the whole collection for a mere £16.95, which works out to somewhere in the neighborhood of $30.00 US. I have to practice self restraint, and not purchase it yet, as there are two very expensive events that are quickly approaching - Christmas and then Sophie's birthday not even a month later. But it makes me so happy to know that purchasing just the patterns is now an option. And I'm crossing my fingers that she'll eventually make her past collections available in book form too. Here are some of my favorites from the book:

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Validation

Not only is Ravelry alot of fun and a great way to organize all of my knitting related paraphernalia, it's also proving to be a very useful source of reference. After I discovered what the problem was with my seed stitch dress, I looked it up on Ravelry. (Even though I've been calling it the "Seed Stitch Dress", it's actually called the Picot Dress.) It was so convenient - I could view pictures and opinions of thirteen other people who are making/have made this same project. And what do you know?! Just a quick glance around shows quite a few others who talked about having major problems with the sizing of this dress!
Last night I ripped back, made the necessary alterations, and I'm back on track. I'm about five little rows away from a completed back. {sigh} It's such a relief to not have this thing laying stagnate in the bottom of my knitting bag anymore. =) (We won't talk about She Who Shall Not Be Named who was also laying at the bottom of the above mentioned knitting bag. When I saw her, I shuddered and quickly stuffed it out of sight.)

Earlier today I had a photo shoot with Persnickety and Clyde. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to take good pictures of hand puppets by yourself? I think I inadvertently performed some advanced level yoga moves.
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These are the first hand puppets I've ever made. And I have to say I'm quite proud of how they turned out. Did I mention that I designed every aspect of them? =)
They've been listed in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gauge In Seed Stitch May Be Larger Than It Appears

I finally sat down tonight with the almost finished back of my Seed Stitch Dress. You know, the one that was way too wide. I had the pattern from the book, my revised pattern, a calculator, and a measuring tape in front of me. For about an hour I checked and re-checked my calculations. I checked my gauge to make sure it hadn't changed after I'd knit the gauge swatch. I measured and remeasured various points of the dress back. I got to a point where I was frustrated because I couldn't find the error that led to my dress having a chest circumference that was 2 1/2" too big (which is a pretty significant amount on a little baby's chest). My math on my revised pattern was dead on - no mistakes. I figured out what the problem was when I noticed that the width at the last portion of stockinette stitch (right before you switch to seed stitch for the bodice/chest) was the right width. And the last row of stockinette also happens to be a decrease row, which I revised and knit without error. Yet the portion of seed stitch that immediately follows and makes up the chest area, is too wide. Do you see what I'm getting at? My gauge in stockinette is 20 1/4 sts = 4". The pattern in the book gives the gauge over stockinette stitch. However, when I measured my gauge on the chest which is done in seed stitch, it was 19 sts = 4". There you have it - a larger gauge in seed stitch gave me a seed stitch chest that was too large. And that means very good news for me. I don't need to rip back the whole thing, like I first thought. I just need to frog to the last decrease row right before the seed stitch bodice, and decrease more sharply to give me fewer stitches to accommodate my larger gauge in seed stitch. Now, I just have one question? Am I right in assuming that everyone would get a different gauge in seed stitch than they do in stockinette? I have no way of knowing if Debbie Bliss somehow gets the same gauge in seed stitch, because that gauge is not given anywhere in the pattern.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Stupid Knitter Tricks

Another title that was in the running for this post was, "I Want To Kick My Own Ass". What is with me and mindless knitting mistakes lately?! I worked out a pattern for Clyde's sweater and knit the back and front. I did have to frog and redo the neck shaping on the front. My first try left me with a neck that decreased too slowly, and was therefore to deep. So anyway, I sewed the right shoulder of the completed front and back together, leaving the other shoulder un-sewn so I could pick up the stitches for the turtleneck with straight needles. I was trying to avoid fiddly double points, because I often have trouble with ladders at the joins. While I was picking up the stitches, and the whole time I was knitting the turtleneck, I was listening to the Lime & Violet podcast. I must have become a little too absorbed in listening to them (they're hilarious). Because the next thing I know, I've bound off the turtleneck, and I go to seam the last two shoulders together and discover this:
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See how I've magically made one shoulder disappear?! Would you like to know the secret behind such an amazing trick? Well...............alright. But first, a disclaimer:

This trick was performed by a professional knitting moron, and should not be attempted at home.

You see, it's really quite simple. I picked up and knit stitches all along the neckline and the left shoulder. =}

Friday, November 2, 2007

I Am A Greedy, Greedy Girl

I got out of work earlier than usual today. So I decided to ignore all other responsibilities, and play on the internet for a while. I added more knitting books that I own to my Ravelry Library (I'm pretty sure you'll have to be a member to view that link). So far it has 60 in it. I actually have more, but they're not in Ravelry's data base yet so I can't add them. Then, since playing with virtual knitting books was so fun, I went and updated my Amazon Wish Lists. I've created links to them over in the side bar. It was then that I came to the conclusion that I am a greedy, greedy girl. Here's why:
I own approximately: 75 knitting books
and: 32 sewing books
I currently covet: 64 knitting books
and: 17 sewing books

For a total of: 188 knitting & sewing books I feel should be on my shelves

That doesn't take into account knitting and sewing magazines and sewing patterns I own or covet. And yet, it all seams perfectly reasonable to me. However, I know if I shared those numbers and thoughts with a non knitting/sewing person, they would look at me like I had grown a third eye. But that's precisely why I'm sharing this with all of you, and not my brother or my neighbor. =) So without further ado, I give you:

Ode To Knitting And Sewing Books I Do Not Own


Oh how I covet thee
Spines tight, pages glossy
There's always room on my shelves for new
Though fickle is my lust for you
As soon as I've been under your covers
I'll toss you aside in pursuit of others
But hate me not for my trolloping style
And let me lay my hands on you awhile
For now, you're all my eyes can see
Oh how I covet thee

So now that Rabbit is finished, and I haven't yet mustered up the motivation to figure out how I made such a mess of Seed Stitch Dress, what is on my knitting needles? My very first attempt at designing my own sweater! And I took to heart the advice to "start small". Remember these guys? Well this is Clyde. And he is in need of a sweater.


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(He's a little embarrassed about being photographed naked.)

As none of the books on my shelf bear the title "Knits For Puppets", I'm designing my own. I'm nearly done with the back. His sister Persnickety is all finished and dressed in her ducky best.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nature Walk

Aaaaaaaah, the wonders of Fall. The crisp, clean smell of the air......

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The fiery colored leaves perform their ballet dance to the ground....


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Mother nature tucks herself in for a long winters rest.


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Wait a second.......what is that thing?! Let's take a closer look.............


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Why....it's a rare white wild rabbit of the genus Fat Assicus! Let's move slowly. We don't want to startle him.


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Oh looook! He wants me to scratch his belly! What a friendly little guy. I think I'll adopt him. He'll make a great companion for Mr. Whiskers during the times I'm away from home.


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See - they're great friends already! What's that you say? Mr. Whiskers looks annoyed? Oh, well he can be a little slow to warm up...........but I'm sure he'll come around.

FO Details:
Pattern: "Rabbit" from First Knits by Luise Roberts and Kate Haxel

Yarn: I substituted white Bernat Baby Boucle for the recommended brown Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran

Needles: A pair of vintage Hero US size 6 straights

Started: October 22, 2007

Finished: October 31, 2007

For: The Do Something New KAL. It's the first stuffed animal I've ever knit. It will now belong to Sophia.

My Thoughts: This pattern was very easy to knit, and almost as easy to assemble. The directions said to "stuff quite firmly". I think I might have taken them a little too seriously, as my rabbit is quite a bit fatter than theirs. =) I'm not too excited about how the embroidered eyes came out. After I was finished with them, I had the thought that I should have sewn buttons on for the eyes. Ah well, we live we learn. I'm happy to have finished this in time for the October deadline which is today. It was a close one.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

KAL Rabbit

Here are all the pieces of Rabbit, knit up and blocking for the Do Something New KAL.

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I'm going to sew it together tonight while I listen to knitting podcasts. It's knit in Bernat Baby Boucle in white. Though I loved the way the example in the book looked knit in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, I don't have any of that in my stash. I do have other brown wool yarns, but I was also very curious how this pattern would look knit up in a fluffy white yarn. Also, the Bernat Baby Boucle was one the first yarns I ever bought, before I had discovered the wonders of natural fibers. I honestly can't imagine myself wearing anything made from this yarn, and I'm happy to have a chance to use it up. (Now what should I do with the six or seven other skeins of white, yellow, and blue that I have?) The three tear drop shaped pieces will make up the body, and the two rectangle shaped ones will be the ears. I made the pom pom tail this afternoon. After all the pieces are sewn up and stuffed, I just have to embroider the eyes and nose. I'll be using white embroidery thread to sew the pieces together, as I think using the boucle would be difficult and have a disappointing result.