Friday, October 29, 2010
One project I did complete on my maternity leave was DS (dear son)'s Christmas stocking. This is the Ancestral Christmas Stocking pattern, or at least a modern variation of it published in Mason Dixon knitting. This was my first attempt at Fair Isle, so I did have some trepidation doing the snowflake portion of it, but I am very pleased with how it came out.
I did have a couple variations from the written pattern. First, I was knitting using DPNs and the instructions called for circular needles. So I did have to do some re-arranging of stitches on my DPNs, but if you've knit a sock before, it's pretty easy to do. Next, The red diamond field is supposed to be argyle, but when I put in the green stripes via duplicate stitching, they didn't come out looking even, so I just took it out. Third, I didn't knit the Fair Isle portions inside out, per instructions. That direction just seemed shady to me. And finally, I didn't block the stocking. I'm scared to! Even though this is Cascade 220 superwash, I spent so much time on this, I don't know what I'd do if I blocked it and it.... I don't know.... got pulled out of shape...? Or... the Fair Isle got twisted and ruined the diamond field or the snow flake? I think if this was a smaller project, or didn't have so much sentimental meaning to me, sure, I'd block it. But... I just can't. Do I need someone to hold my hand when blocking it, literally? Yes. So we'll just wait-list that activity.
This stocking is LONG in length! Not long like the toe pools up on the floor when hanging from our mantle, but long enough where DH and I will have to work to fill it! DS probably won't care that his mommy made this for him when he's a little boy or even a teen, but maybe later on he'll feel good about it. Regardless, it means a lot to me. The top of the stocking has his name on one side and the year of his birth on the other.
I plan to make Jason and me Christmas stockings as well, but no time soon. I'm instituting a "one stocking per year" knitting policy!
On to more projects - finishing a simple scarf I started for myself some time ago, and maybe a few Christmas gifts for friends and family. I definitely don't have as much time to knit as I used to, but I still try to take even just 10 min or so each night to knit a little. It makes me feel like I'm still making progress, even if it's baby steps!!! (Get it? Baby Steps????).
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Since this is my knitting blog, I won't gush too much about the baby or motherhood. But I will say that it's been a fantastic experience so far and I think I've been learning a lot. Not just about how to change a diaper or get a baby's arm thru a onesie, but I've learned a lot about selflessness, patience, and the ability to love someone more and more every day, even when you think you can't possibly love them any more already.
Enough of the mushy stuff. Check out this Christmas stocking I'm working on for the baby. It's my first expereince with Fair Isle. It wasn't as difficult as I thought, but I'm sure that I'm not knitting with two colors as efficiently as possible. For the snowflake and diamond (which is soon to be argyle) portions, I just kept twisting and switching the strands, which did result in a lot of twisted lead yarn (I didn't use bobbins). Next time I'll likely try to carry both colors in my left hand.
So the baby's name will be "duplicate stitched" on the top white band, and green stripes will be added to the diamonds to create the argyle pattern. Is duplicate stitching cheating? I don't care, considering the Fair Isle was enough of a challenge for me this time around!
The pattern came from the Mason Dixon series of books. The pattern calls for knitting the stocking with 2 circular needles, but I just used DPNs. So I had to re-arrange the instructions for the heel gusset. It all worked out. I'll be working on the toe tonight. I basically knit for 30 min or so every other night after the baby goes to bed. So I should be done with this stocking... by Christmas. ;)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
So you can get the baby gator kit, or the adult sized one. Folks on Ravelry said the adult scarf came out a bit short, and they added extra rows of bumps on the gator's back. I found this to be the case with the baby alligator pattern, as well - so I added 2 extra rows. It's still short, but I have a feeling that this scarf is just as much of a toy/novelty as it is a functional scarf - I could see a little one just dragging it around with him, or playing with it, rather than wearing it, which would give me just as much enjoyment anyway, so I didn't worry too much about lengthening it any more. But there was enough yarn left on the skein that it could have been longer if you wanted it to be.
As for the texture of the yarn - it's merino yarn (sportweight), which many people commented on, saying that this Morehouse type is quite rough and scratchy. It is, and you can find softer yarn out there, but others said that too soft of a yarn, and the bumps will collapse too easily. I though the yarn was just fine. It'll probably soften after use and washings anyway. I did purchase a new pair of bamboo needles to knit this project on - I'd tried to use the $2 plastic ones in my collection, but with all of the M1 stitches in the pattern, the plastic ones just bent to easily and my fingers ached when I repeatedly had to manually pull open the M1 stitch to complete it. Everyone knocks my cheap (frugal), day-glow neon colored (brightly colored), straight needle collection, but hey, they're fine for many projects. Just not this one. Some people just use circular needles all the time, in place of straight and DPN needles. And I think at some point in the future, I'll break down and get the Addi-Turbo interchangeable set, but that's an expensive set and I'm holding off. For what, I don't know. Probably until I have the feeling that I'm an experienced enough knitter to warrant the investment. I think the fact that they're metal puts me off, as I've had horrible experiences using metal DPNs before (where my stitches has slipped off the practically frictionless needles)... but... I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I cave and succumb to modern technology.
Speaking of technology - I never seem to be on the cutting edge, or even the dull butter knife edge, for that matter. I'm probably the only person on earth to not have a facebook page (although that's largely by personal choice, not technology limitations). And I prefer hand-written thank you notes to e-mails, and scrap-books to Shutterfly photo books. But - I do think I am a cutting edge technology theorist: I did tell Jason a year or so ago "hey they should make 'portable Internet' at some point", to which I received a hearty laugh, an eyeball roll, and a "Cindy-Lou Who" pat on the head followed by the "silly wife..." comment. And wouldn't you know it - now they have Mi-Fi (which I may be getting along with an iTouch). I would like that eyeball roll stricken from the record, please, since this is proof that I'm a technology VISIONARY. (Just not someone good at actually using it.)
Monday, March 1, 2010
The baby jacket is complete. I LOVE this Ambiante yarn, particularly the color scheme and the way it knits up. I am very happy with this jacket - I do think it came out a bit long, so it will definitely be a jacket and not just a sweater. I did follow the pattern to a T. Well... almost. You're supposed to knit 10 garter ridge rows between each button hole row. But that count depends on whether you count the button hole row as a garter ridge row or not. I did not (because I am a strict, "by the book", rules-oriented person), and therefore I may have actually put 11 garter ridge rows between each button hole. One extra row is no big deal, but do that every time for 5 buttons, and you've added an extra inch of length to the project. I just tell myself that since DH and I are tall people, and our baby will be tall too, so having a garment that is an inch too long will actually work out better for him. Let's go with that.
What else - oh, I finished these "outdoor work gloves" for Jason (they are actually just fingerless mits, but I changed the name of them to make them seem more appealing to him. But I think he's on to me by now...). I convinced him that he could use a pair for raking (not that we rake) or working on the car (not that we do our own automotive maintanence) or at a minimum, wear them when we go for walks in the evening (that we actually do!).
Once again, they came out a bit long, so in this photo, he just folded the cuff back once. What is wrong with me? I think I have this fear of ending a project too quickly and having it be too short/small, but I realize that ending it too late and having a product that's too long is just as bad. But these are still functional! DH did say to me - "these are great, but maybe you can make me another pair that's shorter. And in a different color. And that isn't as tight on the thumbs". He is so sweet. Fair enough. I'll put that in queue. Deli ticket # 295, now serving # 3.
Have you heard of City Bakery in NYC? I was supposed to go there for their Annual Hot Chocolate Festival and Knitting Night, but by the time I went to purchase a ticket on-line, they were sold out! I was so sad - so sad, in fact, that one of my good friends at work took me out for a pity dinner at the Melting Pot in Hoboken (thanks so much Kerry! You are so kind)!. Anyway, Purl Soho (which is moving locations, I hear) was going to be one of the featured vendors. They posted this cute pattern for "Chocolate Bar Coasters".
I knit them because believe it or not, I've never knit with 2 strings of color before, and I wanted to learn! This whole time, I've been relying on varigated or self-striping yarn to make colorful projects! So the brown and white coasters were a perfect project to learn how to use 2 strands of color. The pattern for the striped coasters reminds me of those ski sweaters from the 70's! I'll have to visit City Bakery some time soon. Perhaps with Junior!
Speaking of Junior - I just started this adorable "Baby Alligator" scarf from Morehouse Farms. It looks so cute!!! Maybe this is my way of nesting, before the baby is here? I keep thinking "what if I'm too busy to knit when the baby is here, maybe I should get this done now?!?!?" Could happen. I just think it's so fun to knit for babies. The projects are so small and they knit up quickly - it's very rewarding. I just started the scarf last night, and I was just able to knit the snout: I think I'm going to make an excel table that corresponds to the pattern because lots of folks on Ravelry said keeping track of the number of repeats for the gator's back is confusing. Being an engineer (albeit a practicing engineer many, many moons ago), I am convinced there's nothing excel can't fix or be utilized for!
In a completely un-related random sidebar, the baby shower was 2 saturdays ago. I'd made these "Bird in the Nest" cupcakes for everyone to enjoy during the shower.
Thank you so much to you wonderful ladies (friends and family) for coming over and sharing this special event with me! I'm not sure if any of you are regular readers of this blog (or even casual readers!), but I still wanted to express my gratitude! The gifts were so generous! DH and I are just amazed and how giving people have been - I have 3 co-workers that gave us tons and tons of baby clothes, in addition to baby gear (including strollers, bouncy seats, toys, etc.) and wouldn't accept any payment or donation in return. Amazing. I really had a wonderful time at the shower - we are so lucky to have you all in our lives! I hope you all had as nice of an afternoon as I did!!!
Monday, February 8, 2010
The sizing, for one. I have a size 9 foot, which fit the "large" catagory on the pattern. I think next time I would probably knit the medium and "shape" (euphamism for "stretch") them into fitting. I think my pair is a little loose, but they still fit. I also had to felt them FOUR TIMES in the wash to get them to shrink enough! So next time, I'd do a medium size and less felting. I think all that extra felting makes them less homogenous in texture. Look at how large the slipper sections are before felting! It's amazing they remotely fit!
Also - the pattern was rediculously clear in some aspects (like showing photos of the slipper pieces before felting) but then very unclear on other key aspects - like how to assemble the damn pieces into the actual slipper.
But - I do still like how they came out in the end. I used PCW (Patons Classic Wool) for them. I put some fabric paint on the bottom for a bit of traction, since I was sliding all over our floors with these! Even though I didn't find the instructions stellar (or any of the chat room discussions about this project on Ravelry), I do still think they make a really cute pair of slippers!
In other news - DH and I made home-made onion rings (home-made starting from buying the onions at the store - no we don't grow our own produce... yet...) and they were out of this world fantastic. You must try them, assuming you have a French Oven pot and candy thermometer on hand. And a quart of vegetable oil.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I also finished the baby blanket! I'm very happy with how it finished up. I do admit it was long and a bit boring to knit with all that stockinette stitch, but it's worth it for our bun in the oven. I feel happy and satisfied that I knit the blanket, a hat, and booties for him, and I think now I can go on to other projects!
Like the French Press Slippers I've been working on! This link is to the pattern on an etsy site. I'll have more on this project next time. My LYS is having their annual Superbowl Sale this weekend, so I plan to get some buttons this weekend to finish this project off. I'm heading to the sale with a list of upcoming projects I'd like to do, and their yarn requirements, so I hope to make it a productive, yet thrifty trip! We'll see how it works out! (Recall I still haven't used all that Manos that I bought last year, but I know it'll come in handy any time now....)
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I chose a pattern that I've used many times before, which I actually got for free at Pins and Needles, in Princeton. It's common that baby hat patterns are free b/c lots of people use scrap yarn and donate the hat to local hospitals or charity organizations. Plus they're super-simple patterns. I planned to re-create this little hat, but I wanted this cap to have blue and gray stripes! So I splurged (a bit) on Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and started knitting.
As I knit, I started thinking "you know... this does look a little small. And it's looked small when I've knit this hat as a gift for friends babies.... but what do I know?". So I keep knitting. Maybe it's just the fact that it's got a 2X2 rib pattern at the bottom and it's supposed to be tight, right? So I keep knitting. I get to the straight knit and decide this baby hat wouldn't fit over a peach, not to mention a baby's head. So I rip it all out and check my guage. Guage is dead on. I check some on-line comments about the pattern. No comments about the pattern knitting small. I re-read the instructions, and it's pretty simple, I'd knit it correctly. So I re-read the pattern again. Yep, proper needles, proper yarn. So I re-read the pattern AGAIN, this time from the top. And there it was, in the VERY FIRST LINE: "The babies Save The Children saves are often low birthweight, so the caps need to be smaller than we are used to making in the US".
That's when I started crying. These weren't little "boo-hoo" tears...These were those hot, angry, heavy tears that fall when you know you're upset and there's nothing you can do to fix the situation. And worse yet, it's your own fault. That's what I get for not reading the instructions properly.
That's also when I think the delusion set in. Any normal person would have just said "it's not a good knitting night, I'll find a new, clear pattern on-line tomorrow, from the myriad of free patterns that are at my fingertips". Not this girl. My set-back wasn't going to stop me from starting progress on a baby hat THAT EVENING. I don't know why time became so important - I just felt that there wasn't time to take a break, or start over tomorrow, or even take 10 min to look on Ravelry. I felt that I couldn't go to bed on such an awful note of failure, and I felt strongly compelled to at least start a new hat that was properly sized. Looking back, I realize I often times do this - rather than take a step back and regroup in a short while, I get this brute-force mental attitude, where I'll just keep making different attempts, over and over, until something works out so I can cross that task off my list. I suppose it's very selfish to think that you can make everything happen in the timeframe that you want - sometimes you just have to walk away and wait until conditions change and accept that you can't get what you want in this instant.
Anyway, that rational person wasn't me on that evening. I grabbed a couple knitting books from the table to get an idea of how many stitches to cast on. I started with 48 and knitted a bit. Still too small. I ripped it out and cast on 72. Still to small. I ripped it out and finally cast on 84 stitches. 84 stitches, my friends... If that sound like a lot, that's because it is. But in the moment, it seemed fine and by gosh there was no way I was going to wind up with another micro-hat. So I went with the 84 and knit and knit. And continued the next morning. I made blue and gray stripes and completed the decreases at the top with no problem. And the finished product? An adorable hat that would fit no younger than a 2-year old. I panicked and thought maybe a pom-pom would make the hat smaller somehow. So I added this little blue and grey accoutrement, and nope... still sized for a kid. I considered trying to wash it on hot to shrink it, but the yarn wasn't really designed to felt. It became clear that this was simply a failed project.
More tears. These were the sad ones that happen when you really feel at a loss, or that a true tragedy has occurred. I felt terrible - after all the knits I've made for others, our baby was going to get some second-rate, ill-fiting, baggy hat. "Welcome to the world little one, here's your mis-shaped hat - the first gift your mother gave you". J was very reassuring and suggested I "put the needles down and just walk away for a while", which I did (see life-lesson described above). He said it would make a lovely gift for the baby 2 years from now, anyway.
So, I looked on Ravelry and found a cute newborn hat pattern, and started knitting. I did make modifications (but nothing to do with the size! I followed modifications posted on-line). Instead of a rib stitching, I used a moss stitch pattern. I did one extra row of decreases at the top and made a 3/4" I-cord. And I am very happy with the final product! Here it is! I also knit some booties, as well. I guess retrospectively, blindly knitting that huge hat was kinda funny, but it was definitely frustrating and heart-breaking in the moment. But with the new one, I felt relieved and happy that our baby would would be receiving a properly fitting, custom-made baby hat to wear home from the hospital!
No more tears!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
First - the Baby Blanket. Since we know we're having a boy, I decided to do a blanket with just blue and green colors. I picked this simple Diagonal Comfort Blanket pattern, from Lion Brand. I'd forgotten how boring 160 stitches of garter per row can be! But I still like this simple blanket with the eyelet border. I'm using "crappy [acrylic] yarn" (Bernat), and did recieve some evil-eyes from the LYS groupees, but hey, I did it because it's machine washable, easy to care for, and I'm not THAT much of a yarn snob where I won't use pleb yarn on occassion. I hear it's important to get easy-to-care for stuff with a baby, since there's likely to be spit-up, food, or poop staining things. Originally I thought I could cram all these stitches onto straight needles, but it because pretty heavy, so I switch to circulars and have been off and running ever since. I also bought blue cotton yarn (quality yarn) to do a second blanket, but honestly, I can't fathom doing another blanket at this point. One is too mind numbing. Maybe during maternity leave I'll consider it. But I hope our little bundle of joy enjoys this soft, pastel labor of love!
And Second - the Baby Jacket. It doesn't look like a baby jacket yet - it kinda looks like a sting-ray fluttering at the ocean bottom now that I look at the picture, but it'll take it's proper form soon enough! I just finished the yoke (I don't really know what a "yoke" technically is, but in the patterns I've used, it seems to be the part of the sweater from the collar to the bottom of the armpits, where it expands to form the back and set up for the sleeves). I absolutely love the pattern this yarn makes! It's Schoppel Wolle Ambiente. I'm making this jacket sized for a 1-2 year old. Why knit something now for a 1-2 y/o? Well, #1 I loved the material and couldn't resist starting. And #2, I didn't want to put in all the effort to make this for a 6 month old, only to have him outgrow it in 2 weeks. I think sizing for a 1-2 y/o will last longer. I have 2 quick rows to knit, and then I'll be switching to DPNs and picking up the stitches for the sleeves. And I like this pattern because I think it can be used for all sorts of jackets and outerware for a baby.
So... that's what's "on the sticks" right now. Ever since we found out the sex of the baby and I put a temporary moritorium on non-baby knits, it's been sweat-shop knitting to finish the baby blanket before I return to work on the 4th of January. I plan to make some baby booties and at least one hat, so that'll be coming up too. I received an invite to participate in the Ravelry St. Patrick's Day Swap, but I decided to decline it this year. But next year I'm all over it!
It's really been a wonderful break from work these past few weeks - working on decorating the nursury, hanging out with friends (hey Amar! I'm glad we got to meet up!!) and relaxing has been great! We've been enjoying our house and all the fun that comes along with it. Happy New Year!
Friday, December 4, 2009
Charlie is my favorite. I love his bedtime ritual of donning a stained t-shirt and holey thermals, followed by ravenously eating cat-food, shot-gunning a beer, and huffing glue to self-medicate in order to sleep through the noisy cats hanging around outside his apartment each night.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
but things we don't need are at least packed away in closets or in the basement. It's amazing how many boxes and bags of stuff we had labelled "Important" that are now sitting in closets, unopened! We had a really fun Haunted HouseWarming Party on Oct. 30th, which was great. It was good to see everyone, enjoy some festive appetizers, and relax in our new digs. My dad made his southern comfort punch, too, which is always a hit.
I think we needed this party as motivation to get our stuff put away and get the house in decent shape. If we didn't have this party to work towards, I think DH and I would have just lived amid the boxes worked around them, kind of like we did in the apartment for the last couple months, which was really awful. Thank you to all of our family and friends who helped us out!
Let's see... in terms of knitting... I did take a brief hiatus, but now that things have settled down again, I am back in the swing of it! Larissa and I went to Rhinebeck, a.k.a. the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, which was a lot of fun. There were so many vendors, it was hard to resist blowing the budget in the first hour there! I bought a skein of Socks that Rock, a beautiful skein of Briar Rose, and my first skein of Noro! I always hear people raving about Noro, so I had to buy some and see what all the commotion is about. Surprisingly, their yarn isn't that soft - kinda rough actually, but apparently they are known for their amazing color combinations. So we'll see what I can knit up with a skein of it!
Rhinebeck is a really large festival - my LYS chartered a bus up there, which was really convenient. Although the weather forecast was dismal - cold and rainy (even snowy!), we actually saw no hint of clouds until later in the afternoon when we were departing anyway. Of course I packed hats, gloves, and extra socks in my backpack, but happily we didn't need it. I must say that my fingerless gloves were perfect, because the whole day was about feeling yarns, sampling skeins, and of course accessing your wallet to make purchases. So they worked out great. I will say it was FREEZING COLD though! There were also lots of animals to check out. I say lots of alpacas, all sorts of sheep, and even some mohair rabbits which were adorable. They just looked like the most adorable balls of fluff ever!
We also saw some Ravelry celebrities, including Jessica ("frecklegirl" ravatar) and Casey Forbes, founders of Ravelry, plus Bob the mascot, which was fun, too. It was a really nice day and I'm so glad I went! It was my first fiber festival! I hope to attend one each year!
OK - I am off to work on a pair of gloves I've been knitting. More to come soon!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
As to the functionality of these mitts - I was explaining that these mitts could be used when it's cold out but you want to get your metrocard out, or find change for the meter, or use your camera to take a picture for your scrap-book outside in the cold! They'd be good for any time you need to maintain dexterity while keeping warm! Loyal reader Tom said "so... you could use these to smoke a cigarette while standing outside a bar in the cold then?". True, one could. Although the thought of one of my knitted projects getting all smokey does make me sad, he points out an additional valid application of these mitts. I just thought they were a good project to start cables on. And I like the autumn colors of the yarn.
I joined the SOAB (Swap on A Budget) group on Ravelry. I am so excited! I've never done a swap! It's a $20 one, where you get assigned a "spoilee" and send them a little knitting gift package based one a brief questionnaire everyone participating completes. Each "spoiler" puts together a kit of 1 knitted item by you, at least one skein of new yarn, a pattern for the new yarn, plus some treats (such as coffee, teas, chocolates, stationary, etc.). Each spoiler mails their spoilee their package and then it's like Christmas in September! I am so excited to get assigned my spoilee! I think it's just nice that someone puts something special together for you! I'll have that project coming up, I need to get back to DH's other sock, and also work on Central Park Hoodie in time for cooler weather. I like having logs of projects going. If I get tired of one (or have to put one in "time out"), there are other things to keep me busy. And TRUST ME, a busy couch-knitter is better than an idle couch-knitter....
Thursday, July 23, 2009
For some odd reason, his job often times makes me think of the song by Flight of the Conchords called "Inner City Pressure". I'm not sure why though - I mean we don't live in the inner city - we don't even live in a city. I suppose because DH works in the city, and... works under a lot of pressure....? the song comes to mind.
Here is the song (which is a parody of Pet Shop Boys West End Girls. I read that "Inner City Pressure is not only a parody of Pet Shop Boys, it pokes fun at the great hipster/artist/creatively-under-employed social substratum that has engulfed large swaths of urban North America". Yeah, "hipster", "creative", and "artist" are probably the last 3 words I'd use to describe us. But I suppose it's the satire that makes me laugh).