Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to Me! (and 2 FOs)

To read my first ever blog post of 3 years here. It's pretty boring...not much to it...and no pictures. But, to me, it was utterly exciting at the time. I'd just heard of the things called "blogs" and, after years and years of writing in a diary/journal, thought this was a wonderful idea. I'd just gotten one of those blue iMac iBooks (after saving money from a year or two of substitute teaching) and thought I was finally catching up on the real world...ha!...I was pretty much computer illiterate before that. (Though I did take Pascal, Fortran and C in high school/college - and, for those of you who ARE technical, please don't laugh at me.)

I wrote pretty often then...since Ben was only a little one then and would pretty much just sit with me and play while I blogged....and I never posted pictures. Not because I didn't have any, but more, well, because I didn't know how to add them. Sad, huh?

But, now I know a lot about HTML (or more than the average person off the street) and blogging and can do some things here and there. I don't blog as often, but I think my content is better, knitting is more complicated and pictures are least I think so. I can't believe it's been 3 years and I've really loved hearing from old friends and new...finding out who agrees with me on certain issues or who has the same taste as I do in knitting. It's an amazing cyberworld!

Well, enough blabbering and wanna see those FOs, don't you???

FO NUMBER 1: The Dragon Scarf

Pattern: Morehouse Merino's Critter Kit- Dragon Scarf
Yarn: 2 skeins of Morehouse Merino 3 Strand (worsted)
Needles: Size 7 Clover Bamboo straights and one dpn
Time: 7 days
Fun: A (super fun, quick, interesting on every level and the final scarf is ultra warm, fuzzy and soft)

Since that overall pic is kinda lame, here are a couple more:

The scarf BEFORE adding any details-

The dragon head up close -

Now, if you notice, I did away with using the white laceweight for the nostrils that the pattern called for and used my own crazy handspun. I spun up Sereknity's "Smouldering Embers" batt (handcarded and dyed by the lovely Heather) and added (after inspiration from Lexie Boger's "Intertwined" book) gold thread and gauzy red scarf pieces while spinning. Perfect for the nostril "flames".

Upclose of the handspun-

Also, I didn't use the white, felt circles for the eyes and, instead, substituted plastic yellow buttons instead.

Tim was thrilled with his new scarf and has worn it a bunch of times already. It's soo warm and velvety...I can't describe to you how wonderful this yarn feels. You'll just have to order some yourself, I guess....he he.

The ONE thing that didn't work out the way I wanted it to was the length/gauge. The scarf was supposed to be 62" long when finished, but mine was only 48". I went over and over the directions (they are very detailed and listed with numbers-which I crossed off when finished) and I didn't miss anything. But, there is no row gauge, only stitch gauge. My stitch gauge was right on for the whole thing (I checked a few times), but I think my row gauge must have been off for it to come out so much shorter. I DID have a good amount of the second skein leftover, so it should have gone into the scarf. I wish the pattern had listed how many "spines" the dragon should have, because then I could've checked on that. I had 27 in the end.

Besides that, I would knit another one of these scarves in a second....probably in a color for me (pink, perhaps???). REALLY great knitting!

FO Number 2: The Phiaro Scarf

Modeled here by the beautiful Jackie

Pattern: The Phiaro Scarf in KnitScene Winter 07/Spring 08 by Katie Himmelberg
Yarn: 3 skeins of SWTC Oasis in Bistro colorway
Needles: Addi Turbo size 7, 24" circular
Time: From mid December to March 28 (though not knitting regularly)
Fun: C+ (Though the scarf is very stylish, soft and drapes beautifully, I had a couple problems with it...see below)

*I had a hard time keeping my interest in this project because of the endless stockinette in the round for 22". Blogless Amanda was an angel and took it for a little bit and knit one whole skein for me into the scarf. It was kind of boring, but it's something you could easily do while watching tv or at the movies.

*I had gauge problems as well. I was only able to get 5.5 or 5.75 stitches per inch using the needle recommended, not the 5 stitches/inch that it called for. And, again, I'm a loose knitter. This yarn is not very thick and I'm not sure how the designer got this gauge. So, what I had to do (in order to only use the 3 skeins of Oasis it calls for) was to knit only until it measures 21" instead of 22". I would definitely use a bamboo or wood needle next time and also use a bigger needle, though I think it would really make the stitches look sloppy.

*The last row of alternately dropping the stitches and binding them off wasn't clear in the pattern and I didn't end up using the crochet hook, as indicated, but my needles instead. The constant cutting and reattatching of the yarn became tedious as well. After dropping all the stitches, I could NOT for the life of me get the "rows" to look neat and even. They were just all slippy and sloppy and here and there. No matter how much I pulled, tugged and ironed them. That really made the final scarf lose some of its beauty. Later, I learned that you can twist the first and last stitch of each end and that eliminates the problem. Wish I'd known that sooner, though.

*Last thing....braiding the what-seemed-like-thousands of loose strands at each end of the scarf at the end was like hell. I tried to position the scarf in a way so that I wouldn't have to bend over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but it was almost impossible. The scarf is soo slippery. So, I spent hours...I think 3 straight...just endlessly braiding those ends. The final look is wonderful, though, but wish I'd had a "knitting slave" to do such things for me. (anyone up for the job??)

Here's a close up of those evil braids-

Well, I'm pooped out from all this writing and I'm sure you've either skimmed through all this babble or will come back to it later (maybe?) Let me know what you think of all my productivity.

Happy Knitting! ; )

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stalling for time.....

While I do have TWO finished knitted objects to show you, I only have an hour or so before I have to leave for work. So, as much as I'd like to share (and I do!!!), I'm going to stall for time and write this "6 random things about me" post. I was tagged by the lovely Donna, of Knit1Spin2 back at the beginning of March. Whoops!

The RULES are:

Post the rules on your blog. Link to the person who tagged you. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

If I forget to comment on the blogs below, which is altogether possible (heh...I almost wrote "pissable"), if you know them, could you please let them know? (Do my work, you minions!.....only joking)

So, the 6 Random Things in my life are:

1. I am somewhat of a neat freak and like to have things in certain places....and, yes, I'm one of those people who do have towels that they don't use and are just for show. (please don't judge

2. I have the same bedtime ritual every night- put hair back, brush teeth, wash face, moisturize, take out contact lenses and put on glasses. B-O-R-I-N-G!

3. I'm in the process of reading all those "classic" books that I didn't read when I was growing up...don't know how I missed so many, since I've been a bookaholic since birth, but I think I was reading Dean Koontz for a LONG time before I was supposed to and everything after that seemed bland. Now, I'm looking for some blandness in my life.

4. I'm a yarn binger and purger (thanks to Ericka for this phrase). I buy yarn that I REALLY want (usually without looking at the price) and then feel so guilty and have to bring lots of other yarn (or that yarn itself) to knitting group and beg my friends to buy it from me. I've done this more times then I'd like to admit. Those Manchvegans are so supportive!

5. I've kept very, very little of the items I knit. Socks- usually, but everything else, I give away as gifts. Most of the time, once I've knit it, I've absorbed all it's knitty goodness and it means very little to me after that. I think of myself as the Knitting Vampire Anyone else like this?

6. I hate the taste of coffee and will only drink it if forced. Though, while I was pregnant with Ben, I ate a LOT of coffee ice cream. Not sure why. The smell is okay, sometimes even pleasant, but I'd rather have hot chocolate any day. (Coffee addicts, I mean....drinkers....please don't kill me.)

So, now I am tagging:


Now, there are sooo many more people I'd like to tag, but those came to mind first. If you wanna do it, too, please blog it and then let me know, so I can come and R-E-A-D you!!!

Next post, the two FO's and pictures and also a VERY, VERY special event to celebrate!!! (stay tuned....)

Friday, March 21, 2008

FO Friday: Icarus!

I am DONE!!!!


Pattern: Miriam Felton's (genius!) Icarus Shawl
Yarn: Alpaca with a Twist "Fino" in the "Frost" colorway
Needles: Knit Picks Options Harmony, size 3, 24-32" circular
Time: January 11 - March 21, 2008 (working somewhat steadily)
Fun: A! (I can't say enough how much I loved, not only knitting this, but the end result. The charts were well made, pattern well written, the design is amazing and you always knew where you were when doing the lace rows. This is the first lace that I've ever wanted to knit again!)

*I know I shouldn't be saying this, but there is one mistake in my knitting. When I had to frog the 40 rows when I first started (I'd read the chart wrong for the center stitch), I picked up one stitch wrong and didn't notice it until I blocked it. So, on one of the diagonal "wings", there is a "k2tog" that is out of place. Oh, well. Besides that, I am THRILLED with it!*

Oh, and one more thing....when coming to the very last 2 rows, I ran out of yarn. (Story of my knitting life!!) I had hoped to use only 1 skein of the Fino for the whole shawl and thought I would, since I was so close to the end. But, alas, it was not to be. Look at this:

I only had this, needless to say, I had to ball up another skein of Fino (which I had bought, just in case, knowing myself as I do). The cast off using a purled type method, which I hadn't tried before, was awesome and it gave the best, flexible bind off that I've ever seen. Must try that again sometime. Anyway, now I've got 90% of another ball of Fino to use for something else. That yarn is amazing and I'd recommend it HIGHLY to anyone doing lace....silky, didn't split, super soft and has a very slight, but beautiful shine/halo because of the silk/alpaca.

Wanna see more pics??

Here is the shawl before blocking:

Shawl blocking on my bed, looking mighty delicious:

A close up of the lace part blocking....boy, I love those flower head pins!

A pic of me trying to show off the lace part of the shawl....

A pic of the shawl feeling all lazy on the chair:

I think that's enough, huh? LOL!

I'm totally in love with this shawl and had such joy through the whole process. I didn't add the beads at the end, but I think I'll do that to the next Icarus that I knit. I'm sure there will be another one in my future.

What do you think?????

Oh, and before I go, I just wanted to share with you a picture of the pysanky eggs that Ian and I made years and years ago...ones that we put out each year at the Spring Equinox and Easter. Aren't they cool??

Have a very happy Spring Equinox and Easter!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Erotic Intermission...not for kids.

While you are all waiting patiently to see my finished Icarus Shawl (which has 5 more rows to go...sadly, each row takes me almost a half hour to knit), I thought I'd show you another knitted project I'm working on, as well as a little erotic crochet.

Hmmm....excited you say?

Well, unless you cheat and scroll down (missing my fabulously interesting knitted scarf in progress...ha!),you will have to wait just a moment for the sexy stuff.

I'm working on a store sample of the Phiaro Scarf (which is more like a HUGE stole) from Knit Scene Winter 07/spring 66 for instructions and a great picture. (Scroll down on the link page to see the scarf.)

(Unlike this picture, which is overexposed and a bit yellow-y...sorry.)

I've had this on the needles for a l-o-n-g while, but figure that I really should finish it. It's stupidly simple- knitted in the round...around and around...for 22". Then, some binding off and drop stitch magic and- voila- it's a stole! The yarn, SWTC Oasis, is very nice to work with and makes a soft, drapey, silky-like fabric. Would make a great summer top, too, I think. I'm using the colorway, Bistro, but would love to make one in black...which I may still do.

The only problem I've had is the gauge. I am a very loose knitter and I've been getting between 5.25 and 5.5 stitches per inch on the needle size suggested (US 7) and the gauge calls for 5 stitches per inch. Not sure how they're getting that on such a small needle. So, I will surely run out of yarn and think I'll just make the scarf 1" narrower than it calls for to make up for the gauge. It's not a big deal, since it's a scarf...and a wide one at that...but if you make one, make sure to check your gauge first or buy an extra skein of yarn.

Oh, and one other small tip....the pattern calls for using a 16" circular and I really discourage that. There were so many stitches on the needle that I messed up twice on the joining - and I never have that problem. Use a 24" and you will enjoy knitting it much more. I used an Addi Turbo, as well.

Wanna see some tantalizing crochet???

I present to you....the Crocheted Penis!!!

This was lovingly knit by my friend, Hilary (hillycrochet on Ravlery and a fellow Manchvegas Knitter), who knows that I, well, love penises. (Can I say that on here?) Too late now! LOL!

It's actually huge. (And who wouldn't want it to be??) It's approx. 24" tall and very squishy and erect. If Ben didn't sleep with us, I would totally be taking this into bed with me at night and cuddling with it.

Isn't it awesome?? Jackie has a picture of it (balanced on my foot) on her cell phone and, when I call, it shows the penis. Oh, it is hilarious!

Hope this has given you at least a little smile today (and hopefully not a heart attack or anything bad like that) and I hope to have my next post showing my newly finished shawl! Wish me luck!!!

P.S. I have around 10 more Amanda hat to add to the Gallery...I am planning to put them up soon. Sorry for the delay! I haven't forgotten, I promise : )

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Icarus Update...Almost Done!!!

I am SO excited! I finished Lace Chart #3 today on the Icarus Shawl. The muscles in my arms are killing me but, man, it was worth it!

I spent most of last night (after putting Ben to bed) knitting this chart while watching alternately "The Shining" with Tim and then "Lost" with Ian. I really need to get a better light in the bedroom. Thank goodness my yarn is white and the needle tips are dark.

Just to catch is the shawl BEFORE I started the lace charts. (It is reeeeeally soft!)

So, now here is what it looks like from far away after 3 lace charts are finished....seems small, doesn't it? But, it will be perfect once it's blocked and I do still have one more lace repeat to go. (I think it's 24 or 26 rows. Ugh...I'm up to over 400 stitches otn!)

Lemme show you a close up of the lace. Some of it is knitted with purl stitches, so the opposite side has some variation of knits and purls, which I l-o-v-e. It sometimes gets horribly boring (and painful) to only purl across such a huge row.

I'm off to knitting group tonight...yippeee!....and I am relieved that I got the shawl on a lifeline before getting ready to go. Not sure if I'll bring it tonight. Chart #4 looks mighty intimidating and talking while doing lace is not always a good idea. You know what I mean?

Love the pattern (Miriam, you are a genius!!!), love the yarn, love the needles (KP Harmony) and this is my most enjoyable lace yet. I'm definitely doing ANOTHER lace project next!

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Living Laptop-Free in a Technical Knitting World

...or something like that.

The past couple weeks of not being able to use my computer have been equally frustrating and relaxing. Sounds kinda contradictory, doesn't it? With the kids being sick and wanting to spend their "recuperating time" sitting in my big bed watching their favorite dvds on the laptop (and dabbing their noses with Puffs Plus), made for very little time to blog, check Ravelry, read other people's blogs or knit/spin.

I don't resent their confiscating the computer. At least, now I don't. I realized that I've been much more relaxed and less stressed than I usually am because I hadn't been constantly reading emails, getting random irritating junk in my Outlook, spending extra money on impulse yarn/fiber purchases because I was bored, and making sure I kept up with this or that....It was a huge relief. I started out my knitting lifestyle without a blog, without Ravelry, without reading anyone else's blogs or even knowing there were online yarn stores out there. (Yes, I've led a sheltered life.) I was blissfully knitting along, happy as a clam, enjoying all my knitting time and knitting one thing at a time! Crazy, huh?

Every year since then, I've branched out...first with a blog, then reading other people's blogs, buying yarn/fiber online (sometimes without thinking) and then the wonderful Ravelry. I had to stop one day and realize that I'd spent more time on the computer than with needles, yarn or fiber in my hand. I'm, like, "Hey, what the heck am I DOING???"

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being able to blog, read blogs, meet new people, have the convenience of buying the most awesome stuff online AND all the fantastic things I can't possibly name that are on Ravelry. But...this is a somewhat big but(he he)...I miss just knitting.

I miss feeling that I can knit without having to keep up with all the new patterns, yarn and "stuff" out there, which can be entirely overwhelming sometimes. I know I don't HAVE to keep up, but there is sometimes the feeling that you need to in order to know what the heck in going on in the knitting world...and, with me working at the yarn store, sometimes it's essential. Some of my friends look at me and say, "You don't know about so-and-so or such-and-such????!!??" and I feel like an idiot.

But, having a forced "internet time-out" or ITO, is refreshing. Uplifting. Motivating. At least for me. I was knitting at my own pace, not worrying about finishing this or that, not running over to check someone's blog, etc. And it was nice. More than nice. Magical!

Now, I don't expect that I'll ever stop blogging anytime soon or buying yarn online or visiting Ravelry (Heaven forbid! I'd die!), but taking a break (even if it's unexpected) is something I'm going to try and do more often.

And, look, I didn't even include pictures! (not that you'd want to see me sitting on the couch knitting or my kids being sick and grumpy)

I still love writing letters to people by hand (imagine that!), keeping a pretty bound journal, reading books (not ebooks, though I've heard it's great), and knitting (and spinning) with my hands...not with my eyes on the computer.

Do any of you miss the "old times" without so much technology interfering with your knitting? Or are you so happy that knitting is so much a part of technology/internet/etc? Would love to hear your opinions on this.

Happy Knitting!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Amanda Hat Winners!

I am SO sorry that this post is extremely late. Little Ben has had a fever and stomach virus since Friday night and I've been sitting beside him for days....("Pwease, Mommy, sit with me!") most knitting/spinning things have been pushed aside for some big, healing hugs.

Yes, the fantastic Blogless Amanda did pick out the winners on her birthday and...without further they are!!!

1. Winner of the Best Hat knit in a MALABRIGO yarn:

Nikkiana of Every Tomorrow
Colorway: Sapphire Jade
Ravelry name: nikkiana

She is the winner of this yarn (as well as other goodies):

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in colorway, Cuarenta

2. Winner of the Best Hat knit in a NON-MALABRIGO yarn:

Tanis of Canada
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Worsted in colorway, Flame
Ravelry name: marquessa

She is the winner of this yarn (as well as other goodies):

Yarn: Malabrigo Laceweight in colorway, Lavender

3. Winner of the Best and Most Original Amanda Hat photo:

Boo of Cats N Co
Yarn: Lopi Worsted in a handpainted colorway, Grapes of Wrath
Ravelry name: carys

She is the winner of this yarn (as well as other goodies):

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in colorway, Apple

I want to thank every single person who knit an Amanda Hat (especially those of you who knit more than one!!). I've truly enjoyed opening up my email and seeing a new hat (or hats) every day. I still have about 5 hat pics to add to the Gallery...though those were sent after the contest was over. Please keep those hat pics coming if you have them -I would love to see them!

Another HUGE thanks to Caroline, who knit 8 Amanda other people to knit them...and who made me feel so happy about my pattern. You Rock!!! (I'm mailing your gift to you, too! Yours is a surprise!)

One last, amazingly big hug to Sonya, who asked me to create this pattern. If she hadn't said anything, there wouldn't be over 180+ hats out there today. Woo-hoo!

Before I go, I wanted to share my progress on my winter white Icarus Shawl...I love it!!!.....I've just about finished all the "plain" knitting and I'm ready to start on the lace. I'm a bit nervous about that, but I think, once I put my lifeline in, I'll be okay. Each row takes l-o-n-g-e-r and l-o-n-g-e-r to finish, but I know it will be worth it in the end. I've definitely been in the lace knitting mood!

Yarn: Alpaca with a Twist's FINO in First Frost.

Now that Ben's snuggled into bed, I'm off to watch a scary movie with Tim (and hope to get some more lace knitting done, too!) Happy Knitting!

P.S. A quick pic of my mom blowing out her birthday candles...Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!