Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some Hats May Have Been Started

Too late in the evening to blog . . . . but I may have started a couple of new hats.

Maybe one that's knit from the top down, and will hide an iPod and headphones . . .


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(it's a lot bigger now, but hard to photograph).

. . . and maybe one from the cover of this collection of patterns, that if finished & mailed quickly will keep a Southern baby warm when he visits Germany in January:


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(I started this yesterday, so I should get it in the mail maybe this weekend).

So much for working on the same projects all the time . . . although I'd like the record to reflect that the progress on the Hulk Smash socks has been significant. I've finished the gusset decreases, and now it's a race to the toes. The pooling is a little weird in the photo, but the cashmere softness and quick pace of the knitting more than makes up for it:


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You'll have to trust me when I say that these look a lot less busy in person (at least until they're finished & blocked).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I've Been Gambling Like A Fiend On Your Tables So Green

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Ahhhhhhh . . . now that's better. A new project, using a new yarn. With cashmere! The pattern is Berry Season (Rav Link) from the book 2-At-A-Time Socks. It's a short sock with garter stitch, then ribbing, then a textured pattern. So far, so good.

The 2-At-A-Time Socks book is a good introduction to knitting two socks at once using the magic loop technique, although the construction of the socks is all top down. I would have liked to see some toe-up patterns, but I've also been using the 2-at-once technique for a couple of years so I'm already reasonably comfortable with it. I'm sure I could convert some patterns to toe-up, but for me the point of buying this book was to have patterns I didn't have to think too much about! Anyway, even though the construction is all the same, there are some beautiful and unusual patterns in the book as well as some solid basics.

I bought the yarn I'm using completely on a whim, and specifically because the color is called "HULK SMASH". It's Cashsport String by The Yo Yo, purchased at the Loopy Ewe, and as the name implies, it's sport weight. These are going to be some cushy socks, and hopefully they won't be too thick to wear with clogs (but they probably will be). This yarn (which is 10% cashmere) is really nice feeling, and there are a few other colors that I've got my eye on--but likely not until I've used up the Hulk Smash. Hulk Smash!!! I can't stop typing Hulk Smash!!!!!!



__________________
I've Been Gambling Like A Fiend On Your Tables So Green: Wilco, Casino Queen

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Claus Singing on Naughty Snow

December 24, 2008

Wow, how can it be Christmas Eve already? This holiday season has flown by, what with the weather problems, sick dogs, and feverish me. I finished up my holiday knitting last night, and it feels good, even though the recipients won't actually receive them on Christmas. There are quite a few other things I planned to knit, and some that I might take a crack at later, but what's done now is it--I want to move on to other things!

The last two items are the felted clogs (not yet felted) above, and the Postwar Mittens. The Felted Clogs are HUGE, and I was worried about running out of the color I used for the sole on the second clog so I knit the first couple of rows with the top color. It would have bothered me if I ran out of yarn on the edges of the sole, but a contrasting row on the bottom doesn't bother me a bit. There's not much left of the grey yarn, so I think I made the right choice.

I am pleased with the way the Postwar Mittens came out, but the second half glove and especially the thumb were a slog. My mental powers must have been particularly lacking this last week, because I could not concentrate on that thumb for more than about 5 minutes at a time, and even working slowly and deliberately, I made a lot of mistakes. They're fixed, as far as I can tell! The pattern and yarn are great (the pattern is available from the Twist Collective, and the yarn is Dale Baby Ull), but for myself I prefer wearing a gussetted thumb over a traditional thumb. Adjusting the pattern for a gussetted thumb wouldn't be too difficult, athough it would mean sacrificing the dated thumb (which I love) and probably the continuous pattern. Maybe not though?

Have a great Christmas (if that's what you celebrate)!

______________

Santa Claus Singing on Naughty Snow: Stephen Colbert, Another Christmas Song

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Put On Your High Heeled Sneakers, We're Goin' Out Tonight


video

I've been fighting a fever for most of the week, and although I did some knitting early in the week and a little yesterday, I don't have too much to show for it. I'm so behind on Christmas cards that I may scrap them altogether, and I've not attended a single holiday related social event. There is good dog news, though--Frieda had her first post-hospital checkup yesterday, and she came out of it with flying colors. We need to keep her on the bland food for awhile, and we need to be extra careful about keeping other foods (and stuffed toys, since she sometimes eats a little stuffing) away from her, but it's very good news.

We didn't get any good advice about how to keep her or Gretel from being bad, however. In the last week, Frieda escaped to the neighbor's yard (where she can enter their house and eat anything within reach), and tried to find human food on the coffee table while I was standing right next to her. Gretel was able to reach my bowl of soup from an armchair and to drag tissues out of the bathroom trash that has a lid on it.

Anyway, the video above is in no way payback for the bad behavior witnessed in the last week. We've had an unusually cold & snowy spell here, and the backyard is full of icy snow. Frieda is susceptible to skin allergies, and has an itchy area on one paw that needs protection from the snow. She was visibly limping on the snow yesterday--and a dog that is uncomfortable outside is not good for anyone. However, as you can see, she's not super pleased with the shoes, either. Notice that Gretel makes a special guest appearance, if only to butt ahead of Frieda when going inside. Gretel loves to be first!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Purple Toupee and Gold Lame

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Thanks for all of the well-wishes for Frieda. She seems more or less back to normal (see above), though she's still taking medication and is on a special bland diet. We're keeping a close eye on her, because she's sneaky. Not as sneaky as Gretel, but still pretty sneaky.

I feel like I'm still hopelessly behind on pretty much everything, but I'm trying to prioritize a little and not get much crazier. I finished the purple fingerless gloves earlier today, and will get them in the mail to Austria on Monday. The pattern is available here on Ravelry, and it's a good pattern. I really like the twisted rib on the palms, and the shaping of the thumb gusset. I shortened the wrist in an attempt to squeeze these out of a single skein of Alpaca Silk, and came up 2 grams short. Very annoying--cables are such a yarn-hog! There's still enough of the second skein to make a pair of lacy mitts, so it won't go to waste.

I didn't start a single new project last weekend, but there are a couple of other Christmas gifts that I should probably start on this weekend if there's any hope of finishing them up in time. Hmmm. We'll see--this could just be a Christmas card avoidance tactic. I keep reminding myself that none of this is mandatory . . . .

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ugh.

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I'm not going to sugar-coat it--it's been a pretty terrible week. Frieda had an attack of pancreatitis, which meant a middle of the night trip to the animal emergency room, followed by two and a half days at the regular vet hospital. $1,200 later, she's doing pretty well, but we're watching her like a hawk and feeding her a special diet. Add to that the threat that this could happen again if she gets her paws on rawhide, or fatty human food, or any number of things that we don't think she has access to (but you never know, with a dachshund), and it's been very upsetting. My understanding is that pancreatitis is manageable through diet, but I'm still really worried about Frieda. This has basically killed my holiday spirit, while simultaneously eating up a ton of time that I should have spent on gifts, cards, or work-work. And the $$. Oh, the $$. Ugh--it's totally worth it, but it's definitely going to have an impact on more than a few things that I've been planning for early 2009, like reducing my debt level and saving for another trip to Europe.

I did finish the fingerless glove (Rav Link) above this week, which is half of a pair that should have gone in the mail on Monday. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it, since I have only finished about 4 rows of the second glove. The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk. I've shortened the wrist-end of this a little in hopes of getting two gloves out of one skein, but I don't think I quite made it. I do have a second skein, so there should be plenty of yarn--and I may be able to get another pair of these out of the remainder. I like the cables on this pattern, but my favorite part is the twisted rib on the palm--it keeps them from being baggy, and the texture looks very cool.

Time to get back to my endless to-do list--at least I can check off "blog post" off of today's list!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Two Toe Tuesday: Three toe edition

Clogs for J___
Before felting, on my feet, after felting, next to my feet, and after felting, with my hand for scale

Last week at knit night, J_______ was working on some weird garter stitch item, and as we were leaving Starbucks, I asked her what it was. It was the sole of a felted slipper, and I was immediately reminded that a) I had purchased yarn and the pattern for these some months ago and b) that it's getting close to Christmas and these would make a quick, cozy gift. At home that evening, I located the adult sized pattern and plenty of yarn, but shockingly didn't have two sets of size 13 needles. I could hardly believe it--I've got a bad habit of purchasing multiple sets of needles as an alternative to finishing one project before starting another that requires the same needle. As a result, over the last 20 years I've purchased approximately one billion needles, but not the size I needed for clogs.

Friends, I'm not totally sure what took hold of me that night, but the next day I spent $40 on two sets of needles (though I probably could have gotten by with one), and the children's pattern. The blue yarn is Cascade 220 leftover from my Noni Carpet Bag, and the pinkish purple was stashed yarn originally purchased as an option for this octopus. So despite the needles and the pattern (which can be reused over and over again), this was really a stash-busting exercise.

By Friday morning, I'd finished knitting and felting the pair pictured above, for a 3.5 year old friend, which I plan to embellish with embroidery or needle felting once they dry. Or maybe with beads--a 3.5 year old won't eat beads, will she? I know that I made some errors on this pair, but the felting just smooths everything right out. Hopefully, these will fit just fine, and will be comfortable--they're probably a little bit large, but are likely to be worn with socks.

You may have thought that the mania would have subsided a little, but I've moved on to some adult-sized clogs. There are several people I can make these for this year, and I'd really like a pair for myself as well. As of Sunday afternoon, I had the main part of another clog finished, as modelled by Frieda below:


Frieda & Gretel


Another thing to love about these is that they are comically large before being felted--large enough for a slightly overweight dachshund to wear as a cape, while another, slightly less bright dachshund wonders what's going on. Just wait until I try to cram her into the felted clog!!!