Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fancy this hat!

I finished Shedir tonight, and I really like it. It isn't perfect (there's an oddly tight row, and something weird going on inside), but it's a good color and it's non-itchy, so I will keep it for myself. Of course, the weather is warming up a little here, and now I don't need a hat really at all, but if I go East for New Year's it will be put to good use. The pattern is from Knitty, the yarn is Rowan Calmer, the needles were size US4. I took out one repeat of the braided cable, and it's a good thing--I'm not sure that I'd have gotten through this with one skein otherwise. I picked up a skein of brown Calmer recently, so I may cast another one on right away. Could be a holiday gift, if I work fast!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No More a Fussin' and a Feudin'

See how well they can get along, when it's very cold outside, and they are super tired? Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 27, 2006

45 Minutes I'll Never Get Back

I don't really understand why, on roads that look like this:

it took 45 minutes to drive less than a half mile from my house this morning. At that point, after working on The Olive Garden Scarf for much of that time:

I turned around and worked from home for the morning. Seriously--the only snow in sight was on the hood of my car, and there were no signs of an accident in the limited ground I covered. Can't wait for tomorrow's commute, after more (but still not very much) snow and an overnight freeze.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chutney, Mincemeat, Shedir

This weekend was the first time I've had four days off work in a row since early June, and it was a pretty productive / relaxing weekend. I caught up on my sleep (quite a feat--Frieda likes to get up at 4:30am most days), finished the last bit of Sock Wars work, did a little bit of holiday shopping, and worked on numerous holiday-related projects. Today I made cranberry chutney and a meatless mincemeat made with pears and apples. I never really thought about mincemeat having actual meat in it, but evidently that's the case. The flavor of this mincemeat is similar to traditional mincemeat, although I used dried cranberries instead of raisins so it's a little more tart. I think it would be delicious heated over ice cream, or used in little hand-pies. I've never been a big fan of whole mincemeat pies, because there isn't enough crust for the amount of filling. Little hand-pies take care of that problem! The chutney is savory, and would be delicious with a baked brie or roast pork. It's also good on crackers with brie or goat cheese. It's nice to have these done, they are great hostess gifts and I like to have something handmade at the ready so that if any holiday invites roll in, I'm prepared.

This weekend I worked a couple of inches on Shedir, and am a few rows into the decreasing section. I love the way the cables transform from the repeating braided cables into the star-like top cable, and I'm looking forward to seeing this happen as I get further along. I took out one repeat of the braided cable so that it wouldn't come down so far over the forehead (and so I could move along to the top faster). Once the decreasing starts, the beginning of the row shifts occasionally, it's a little tricky but the way that the cables are charted makes it very clear. The biggest problem I've had so far is that the ball of Calmer is getting all loose and tangley--hopefully, I can stem the tide! I haven't decided yet whether I'll give this one away. Living in WA, I don't need a hat very often, but this is a hat that I could wear without itching, so it may need to be mine. Or I suppose I can knit another one in the same yarn after all of the holiday knitting it complete.

At last, the war is over

Finally, Sock Wars is over! And really, even though I was not the swag winner and I'll probably never get socks from my lame-ass assassin, I couldn't be happier that it is over--three pair from scratch (plus a little less than one more sock, started by Kate) is a little much for me in two months. I'm a little annoyed still about the people who either sent socks to people but didn't confirm they knew the rules and were still playing, or who received socks without bothering to follow through themselves. None of the people that I knit for fell into this category, though, so at least I don't feel like I knit for the undeserving. Man, that sounds stupid--it was just a game, after all. Anyway, the fourth pair that I completed was my first attempt at two colors in one sock, and I think that they turned out pretty well. I am a little concerned that they are a little too big, though--I've had no luck whatsoever with gauge swatches during this game, so I didn't make one for this pair. Celticdragonfly's feet are a little bigger than mine, so maybe they'll be o.k. I used Heirloom Yarns superwash Easy Care 8ply wool, it was nice to work with and came through the wash / dry just fine. Good thing, too--I would have cried if it felted after all of that knitting.

This weekend I also worked on Shedir and on the Olive Garden Scarf, which is now about 40 inches long. I also started a new X-mas gift project that can't be fully revealed at this time. Sneak preview to the right--the yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, the same 100% merino superwash used to knit the original two socks at once. The colorway is called, not surprisingly, "Rainbow". I looooooove the feel of this yarn. I took the project from Holiday Knits, can you guess what it is? Maybe a Rainbow wig for E____ G_____? Or a Rainbow clown collar for R_____ C_____? Perhaps a hippie halter top for A______ M______? Only time will tell. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Meathead Complete

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

As mom works on the holiday meal, I've been entertaining the dogs, cleaning up the living room, and working on a few projects. I decided to embellish my Meathead with a fabric yo-yo and a vintage anchor button that I found out in the sewing room. It's so nice to finish something, although I genuinely wish that it was the final pair of Sock Wars Socks that was done. Once Laura's socks are done, then I can go back to Shedir, or to the Olive Garden Scarf, which has developed a very distressing tangle in the ball of plum mohair.

Here's a close up of the meathead embellishment:

I love the anchor button. This pattern was so easy and fast that I may make another one, in the smaller size. This one fits me fine, but if I make one for someone with a normal sized head the small is probably fine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dormant Work in Progress - Blue Rib Scarf

This is a scarf I started last spring after taking the Knitting Faster class at Hilltop Yarn, in order to practice my new combination knitting skills. I used 3 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super Chunky, and size 11 needles, and just knit all K2 P2 forever. I finished the knitting around Memorial Day weekend, but I haven't seen it in months. All I need to do is to weave in the ends, and it will be done, although I might block it to make it wider and to show the rib pattern. I think that I should put this on my list to finish one my final pair of Sock Wars socks are finished, there is so little work left to it! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Knitalong Project, Plus a Sock Update

The Sock War continues, but slowly. These are the last pair I will be knitting for the War, so there isn't a ton of incentive to finish them quickly. I'm aiming to have them in the mail in the next day or so, so that they will reach Texas around the end of the game on Nov. 24. After that, it's a knit off to reach Yarn Monkey in Ireland, but since there are 87 people still living, and there's no way I'll receive socks in progress, I'm pretty sure that this is it for me and Sock Wars. Overall it's been a good skill building exercise, but not quite as satisfying as I had hoped--I still can't believe how many people signed up and then totally flaked out because they didn't understand the rules and didn't get an e-mail that first weekend. Seriously--you sign up for a freaking war, and then you don't bother to check the organizer's blog or the very active bulletin board to find out what's happening? Anyway, the heels have been turned, and I'm working on the gusset decreases, and I like they way these look so far. There are going to be a lot of loose ends to weave in, which is a bummer, but I like the two color look. On the right, I've used my new iPod Shuffle as a size reference. Yes, I did just get it, and yes, it's awesome--I dragged my lazy ass to the YMCA this evening, just to try it out. Let's not discuss this or any other iPods that I may or may not own any further, o.k.?

To take a break from the socks, which have been driving me a little bit crazy, I joined the Meathead Knitalong that Larissa is running to test knit a hat pattern for her forthcoming book. The KAL involves knitting the hat according to the pattern, and then personalizing it with a small embellishment. Check out her original Meathead project--it's very cool. The knitting of the meathead hat itself is done, it just needs a little blocking and then an embellishment. I used two colors of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky Yarn (Creme and White Frost), and size 15 Addi DPNs. The colors are pretty close to each other, I was sort of hoping for a little more contrast. The hat it knit with two strands at once, and took less than two hours to knit--a NICE break from all of that small needle knitting that I've been doing. Now I just need to decide how to decorate it. I originally thought that I'd use a beautiful Czech glass button that I picked up at the 2006 Sewing and Stitchery Expo, but I think that it is too small and delicate to look great on the hat. Do you agree? Other options include felt flowers (with or without googly eyes), an egg (Egghead--get it?), a robot, a spaceship, etc. I will entertain suggestions from the gallery.

Money Makin'

Just a quick post before I return to my Sock Wars socks (and doing laundry). This year's Messiah Lutheran Church Bazaar was the most successful ever for the W_____ table. Fourteen tissue holders sold, at $3 apiece. Not bad for something that I spent very little time on, with a very small material cost--the largest cost was the actual tissue packets.

Also, last night I watched the UFC championship with some friends. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of fighting. I think I'm still not a huge fan of fighting, but this was fun--there were some UFC fans in the room who added a lot of context / color commentary. But I couldn't quite knit through it, must make up time today!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sock Wars - Target #4

I started my third new pair of Socks Wars death socks last night. The idea behind Sock Wars was that each person would buy yarn and start one pair of socks, and pass them along to their assassin once killed. That's not even close to how it has turned out and it's incredibly irritating. This is the third pair I've had to start from scratch, and since I don't have very much non-earmarked yarn on hand, I've had to buy all of the yarn I've used. Of course, my new target recently started her fourth new pair using her own yarn, so at least I'm not alone. Maybe you CAN'T believe everything you read in the internet. I'll try to look it up on this google I keep hearing about, and see if that tells me anything.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

All About Sunday

Since I now have an embarrassingly high number of active knitting projects, I made a little bag to hold onto one of them. The featured fabric is little goldfish, paired with orange polka dots. It clashes horribly with all of the projects I am currently working on, but it will be easy to find in my bag. The dots and fish match surprisingly well on the edges, considering that I used French seams where the patterns meet and on the bottom. Bags this size are very handy, maybe I'll make a few more soon. After all the time I've spent knitting, it seems strange to finish a complete project in 30 minutes.

You may have heard that we're having an extremely wet November here in the Pacific Northwest. Rivers are flooding, property is being swept away, dogs are peeing inside in order to avoid the wet, soggy yard. Seriously, I have to watch those dogs like a hawk! And I'm leading up to hawks . . . the Seahawks. On this extremely cold, rainy day, we had tickets to see the Seahawks play the Rams. Fortunately, our seats were in a suite, so we were warm and dry. Here's a view from the suite:

Lenny Wilkins raised the 12th man flag, and the game was close all afternoon. I've heard a lot about how loud Qwest Field is during the games, but I was still surprised that it was rock show loud--whenever the Rams had the ball, it was too loud to hear anything but the crowd. The Seahawks won with a field goal and a few seconds to go, woo-hoo! I don't really follow football, but it was a lot of fun seeing a game live.

Also, there's a lot of downtime during football games, in between plays and during commercial breaks. I took the Socks that Rock scarf with me, and added a few inches to it. It's now about 24 inches long, not too shabby for the first week! I think that it's about halfway finished, there isn't a formal pattern and I don't remember how long the scarf was in the shop. I'd like to use about half of the yarn (or less) in each skein, so that I can get two scarves out of the yarn, but the yarn (or stress, or the weather, or whatever) is irritating my skin so once this one is done I'll probably hold off on scarf #2. I suspect the mohair.


Next weekend is the Messiah Lutheran Church bazaar, an annual event that throws our household into a frenzy of crafting activity. Generally, the items that I make do not sell well, they are either too quirky or maybe too expensive or poorly displayed. In general, I think that we put too much focus on "filling the table" and not enough focus on having some sort of comprehensive craft strategy. But still, the bazaar shopping crowd is unpredictable and therefore difficult to target. Items that I've made in recent years that have achieved a less than stellar reception include:
  • Felt finger puppets - these did very well the first year, but that was because one lady bought all of them. She was a blip in the demand profile for this item--the next year, maybe one or two sold.
  • Packets of multi-colored crayons - a typical "fill the table" item, these were packets of crayons molded from pieces of other crayons. Thanks, Martha Stewart--these went nowhere.
  • Hairclips and magnets made with felt flowers. I looove these felt flower items, they are an old standby. Who cares if it's a little weird to put googley eyes on flowers? Googley eyes are what gives them character, and they are the greatest craft invention ever.
  • Clown cakes - these are small cakes decorated with frosting and fondant to look like clowns. They are both delicious and cute, and were a BIG hit at E___ & S___'s wedding. Not a single cake sold--I could not believe it. Look at hat, and the blue hair, and don't forget the googley eyes! I do not recommend perishables for the bazaar--who needs a half dozen clown cakes??
With the exception of the clown cakes, normally the inventory rolls over from one year to the next (another possible flaw in the strategy is to make enough of any item to last for all future bazaars). After the clown cake disaster, I liquidated my inventory (or at least made nothing new), and sat out last year's event. My plan was to pass on this year's bazaar, too, but last weekend I saw a quick and easy pattern for travel tissue holders that I thought could possibly sell. A few hours later (seriously, probably only 4 hours), and here's what I had:

Thirteen Christmas themed tissue covers . I like the candy canes and the red polka-dots the best. All of the fabric came from my stash, except for the red and white striped fabric, which was $2 per yard on the clearance rack at Jo-Ann fabrics.

Fourteen year-round fabrics. These are mostly scraps from different projects. The bowling pins are from a work function, where I used this as prize wrapping. The sagey-goldy fabric is leftover from a bag, the yellow floral is leftover from J_____ C______'s baby quilt.

Here's a photo of my favorite, in use. Since the odds are low that these will all sell, I will keep this one for myself. The total project cash outlay was very small (the big expense will be the tissues), so any selling is almost pure profit! I could make as much as $10 or $20 on these babies!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dormant Work in Progress - Pink Footies

This project is part of my knit-early-for-Christmas plan. These are the cabled footies from One Skein, knit in Cascade Quatro worsted weight yarn. The needles are size 7, I believe. The pink is brighter and more obnoxious in person! I started these this summer, and then put them aside when I started knitting some full sized socks. Or maybe when I started knitting the Noni bag? I don't really remember. I knit a pair of these in orange, and they turned out well, although I had to slightly machine felt them because they were a little large--no swatching, of course. They are meant to be slipper-like, so felting is fine. The pattern is easy to follow although now I'd like to knit two at once. Two at once! Two at once! Without the orange pair, I probably wouldn't have signed up for Sock Wars, as they were my first complete pair of socks.

The plan is still to wrap these up before Christmas, but even thinking about Christmas is starting to make me panic. Panic! I can't believe that it's November already.

There's a lot to do between now and the end of the year, including:
  • Make something to sell at mom's church bazaar next weekend
  • Formulate holiday card plan (must make up for lack of Halloween cards)
  • Execute holiday card plan
  • Finish all other projects
  • Finish (after starting) baby quilts for the three or four babies born over the summer that have not yet received any gifts from me

O.K., making that list didn't really make me feel any better. Maybe actually working on one of these projects, instead of make a list, is a better strategy for now.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New Project #2: Shedir

I started this hat last week, after seeing Brooklyn Tweed's version here. I was having trouble focusing on Print O' The Wave, and I already had the Rowan Calmer yarn for this. The pattern is Shedir from Knitty's 2004 Fall Surprise issue,and it's a beautiful cable pattern. More about how Jenna Wilson came up with the pattern is available here, it's an interesting look into the design process. I don't remember why I have two balls of Calmer, but I know that one of them was ripped apart by Frieda, and painstakingly rewound by my mom. I plan to shorten this up a little, so hopefully I'll only need the ball I've already started--because I don't exactly know where the other one is!

New Project #1: Olive Garden Scarf

I went to Tricoter for the first time yesterday, looking for Socks That Rock yarn, and picked up a new project. Most of the other projects that I'm working on, or have been working on, involve a lot of finicky detail and are slow going. I wanted something that I could work on without thinking about it much, because I've been working a lot lately and concentrating on a lace or cable chart in the evenings is tough. As you can see from the photo, this pattern is faster--it's about 7.5 inches long after only one evening of knitting. It's a simple 25 stitch wide seed stitch pattern knit on US8 needles with three strands of yarn. The variegated yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight yarn in the Olive Garden colorway, and the other yarns are Filatura Di Crosa Baby Kid Extra in Eggplant and Sage. Baby Kid extra is a mohair / nylon blend, and it fills out and fuzzes up the pattern. I love the way seed stitch looks, although I don't really care for switching from knit to purl every stitch. The look of it wins out every time, and in this case I'm back to practing the Eastern European-style combination techniques that I learned last spring at Hilltop.

Tricoter carries a very nice selection of yarns and feels very fashion-oriented--it feels a little more high-end than many of the other stores I frequent, possibly because it's in a high-end neighborhood, and possibly because the prices seem a little high for a girl from South King County. The women in the store were both friendly and helpful, and I even ended up special ordering the long-sought-after handles for the Noni Carpet Bag that has been on ice since August. I've been looking for the handles whenever I'm in a yarn shop, but this is the first place that I've seen the size and shape that I want.

The Tricoter sample of this scarf was in the X-Mas Rock colorway, and it had an angora crochet border. This scarf is already made of two fibers that I can't wear next to my skin, so I don't see any harm in adding a third. Once the knitting is complete, I'll I will probably take it back to Tricoter for a crochet edge lesson, and some angora in an olivey green, if possible. I'm a little anti-crochet, but learning a little probably won't hurt, and the edge really pulled together the colors in the sample scarf. I'm not sure that this photo does the Socks That Rock (or the scarf, really) justice, but the colors are beautiful. I've registered for the 2007 Rockin' Sock Club, so I'll be seeing a lot more of this yarn. Posted by Picasa

Last Halloween Posting

I forgot to post photos of my Cookie Purse with the costume. The purse is felt with ribbon handles, so it cost approximately 50 cents (or fitty-cent, if you prefer) and fifteen minutes to make. It is a blue-fur magnet. Posted by Picasa

The Socks are in the Mail

The socks have actually been in the mail for almost a week, but I haven't had a chance to post--Blogger has been a little touchy. Speaking of which, I just noticed that all of the standard text on my templates is now auf Deutsch, not just the dates. Suck it up, people, I know you can figure out how to check my profile if you're interested.

The schmancy label for this pair of socks is definitely a rip off of the last label I made, and I'll probably use it again. A dead person a few people down the chain is sending me her Socks in Progress, but it would violate the rules (if there are still rules) to start them before Dibbus is actually dead. I've been trying to contact my assassin and a person further up the chain to see whether or not my death is imminent, but I haven't heard anything, so who knows? I made it to the top 15%, I'm pretty much ready to be taken out. Posted by Picasa