"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either." ~ Elizabeth Zimmerman

12/31/13

In Case You Thought I Stopped

After I finished Franks Chocolate Cephalopod, I did not stop knitting. Uh uh. No way. Never! I finished another pair of slippers.



Fuzzy Cuffed Ladies Slippers

Pattern: Fuzzy Cuffed Ladies Slippers by me, made for Knitwits.
Size: Womens 8-10 inches

Yarn: Northern Worsted by S.R. Kertzer, knit with 2 strands held together.
Content: 100% Acrylic, worsted weight
Color: Charcoal

Yarn: Aldemir Yumos
Content: 100% Polyester, bulky weight.
Color: Rainbow Black

Needles: Addi Turbo Circular size 10.5

Cast on: October 17, 2013
Completed: December 20, 2013



In addition to finishing the slippers, I've written up a pattern for how I make them. You can find it on my pattern blog here:  Fuzzy Cuff Ladies Slippers

I've been thinking about what I want to knit in 2014. I think I'm going to concentrate more on sweaters. Specifically, sweaters for me. Finishing Chocolate Cephalopod has been a huge inspiration to myself. I can make sweaters in a reasonable amount of time if I put my mind to it! I've already cast on the first one.



I originally was going to use this yarn for the Alice Starmore St. Brigid, but I've changed my mind. What I really want right now is a Gansey. I love gansey sweaters and have always wanted one for myself. I have Beth Brown-Reinsel's book Knitting Ganseys. I'm going to make the White Gansey pattern from this book. Of course, mine isn't white. It's a deep wine color. The yarn is a silk and wool blend. 

I'm thinking about starting a pair of socks, and of course there's the Knit Wits projects. I've been doing slippers. I think I'm gonna go back to making mens mittens for awhile. To be honest, I'd rather knit a couple baby sweaters, but we need the mittens more. Almost everyone in the group makes baby stuff. We don't get enough mens items.

Yes, a nice brand new year to fill up with more knitting. Yay!

I also want to get back to beading. I've been missing it.

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/29/13

Christmas Loot

I've had a very nice Christmas. Christmas Eve was dinner at the in-laws. There was quite a crowd of us, and so much food! Everyone brought 2 or 3 different dishes. There was 3 meats, 2 kinds of potatoes, several salads, sauteed mushrooms, cheeses, fruits, and breads galore! I didn't get to taste everything. I filled up on just the first plate of samples. My donations to the meal were strawberry jello salad, roast boneless leg of lamb (that was out of this world delicious!), and apple crisp for dessert. After dinner we exchanged presents. After distribution, I had one loaf of Panettoni bread left over. It will be eaten by us. Yum! There was also the usual assortment of wines, beer, candies, jams, and baked goodies from the family that were gifts. I've put some in the freezer to eat later.

Christmas day was a good one too. I woke up around 7a.m. to the sound of Cable hurling all over the bedroom carpet. Not exactly the way I want to wake up. Too much lamb the night before, I think. So I got up to clean up the mess and decided to stay up. I made coffee, then dug into my stocking. Later Doug and Ruth got up and we opened presents. Here is what I call my Christmas Loot. I must have been very good this past year. Very very good, indeed.

I scored big on chocolates. Lovely creamy tasty chocolates. YAY! This pile will probably last me until the end of February at least.



Grumpy Cat was a huge surprise! I am thrilled to have her. I am a huge fan. She will reside on my bed. Chenille is very jealous.



I also got a bottle of Maple finished Crown Royal Canadian whiskey, a second set of Chiagoo Twist Red Lace interchangeable needles. WOO HOO! I've been wanting a second set, for knitting in the round with 2 circular needles. I never thought I'd find knitting needles better than the Addi Turbos, but these are way above them. I also got some Clover pom-pom makers, and a couple new decks of Bicycle playing cards.



The adorable little Christmas ducks were in my stocking. Something to play with in the hot tub. And the biggest surprise of all, a new watch.



Sweet Hubby said he went on Amazon and searched 'knitting'. This came up in the search and he knew it had to be for me. I am so touched that he thought to do that. I love love love this knitting watch!



My sister-in-law, Kathryn, gave me this wonderful set of bowls. I didn't have anything like this in my kitchen. I have very few Christmas themed dishes. These are especially cute.



Later in the afternoon we went to our friends, Don and Phyllis, house for Christmas dinner and playing cards. The meal was delicious. We had turkey and the trimmings. Phyllis also made a cheesecake for dessert that was super delicious. I wish I could have eaten more than I did, but my tummy can't handle large quantities of food. So, moderation is in order. When we were getting ready to come home, Phyllis offered to send cheesecake leftovers home with us. I turned her down. Now I wish I hadn't. It would have been great for breakfast. However, we've got enough sweets in the house right now.

Yesterday we went and saw the new Hobbit movie.



 I enjoyed it immensely! It doesn't follow the book exactly, but it is a wonderful story none-the-less. The dragon is awesome! The scene with Bilbo when he finds the dragon is amazing. I can't imagine how much work went into the cgi for those scenes. All those gold coins to draw. The movie ended perfectly too. I won't tell it cuz I don't wanna spoil it for you if you haven't seen it.

Today it's snowing, off and on. Christmas is over, and now we have the dull dreary business of getting through winter.

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/25/13

12/24/13

Nightmare

I had a rather frightening experience last week that I've been wanting to write about. Today is the day. First, let me say that Chocolate Cephalopod arrived at it's destination safe and sound on Saturday. I convinced the receiver  to open his package early because, well, I just couldn't wait any longer to KNOW. I had to know, you know? As it turned out, I installed Skype, and my daughter set her computer up so I could watch Frank unwrap his present. It was very exciting. He was thrilled! He loves the octopuses on it. Sarah sent me a picture after he put it on. It fits him wonderfully well.



I am pleased, and relieved, and happy! But three days before I was living a nightmare.

On Wednesday I decided to wash Chocolate Cephalopod because, after being worked on for a year, it was rather dirty in places. The yarn used to make this is labeled as Super-wash Merino and machine washable. So, I washed it in cool water in my machine on the very gentle hand wash cycle. It looked fine when I took it out.

Then I put it in the dryer on the Knits/low setting. When it was dry I opened the dryer and pulled it out and promptly had a heart attack! The sweater had pilled. I mean REALLY pilled. It was just COVERED in them. I've never seen anything like it in my life! And I've seen some really crappy yarn in my lifetime. Not only that, but there was a hole in one of the sleeves! WTF!!! I actually started to cry. In fact, I almost got hysterical! So much time and work, and love went into that sweater (not to mention the money spent on the yarn!) and it looked just horrible! Here is a pic to show you. The whole thing was covered in these fuzzy bits.



After my husband got me calmed down so I could think straight (a shot of whiskey was involved), I went about fixing it. First I repaired the hole in the sleeve. I don't know what caused it. We're speculating that maybe there's something sharp in the dryer that it caught on. I need to go over the inside with my hands and see if such is the case. Anyway, I got the hole repaired so you can't even see where it was from the outside. Repairing holes in knits is something I've become quite skilled at over the years.

What are pills on sweaters? They are little balls of fuzz where loose bits of the yarn have felted a bit. Most sweaters pill somewhat when worn. Especially under the arms because the arms rub on our sides a bit. Heat plus friction equals felting. But Superwash wool is not supposed to do that, especially when washed. It's been specially treated to prevent it.

The solution to getting rid of pills is to gently shave them off with a disposable razor, like this.



Some folks use a tool specifically designed to shave pills off of sweaters, for example, this one.




I don't have one. I can count on 3 fingers the number of times I've needed to remove pills, including this time. So I had to use the razor. Not a big deal, but time consuming.

Every so often I stop and wipe away the fuzz with a lint brush.



It took me 2 hours of repeating those two steps to get the entire sweater, inside and out, looking like it is supposed to. This is what it looked like when I finished.



Quite the difference! This is the pile of fuzz I removed from the sweater. It's about 5 inches tall.


My daughter remarked that the pile was big enough a person could spin it into yarn and make a whole 'nuther sleeve with it.

I don't think anyone but another knitter can understand how devastating this experience is for me. I spent a great deal of money on what was supposed to be a high quality yarn from a reputable company because I know that if a person is going to put that kind of work into making something, it should be done with materials that will make it an heirloom. I chose that particular yarn specifically because it was supposed to be machine washable. Now the sweater will have to be very gently hand washed and laid flat to dry. It probably won't wear very well. I suspect I will need to repair more holes in the future. It saddens me. Really.

However, I am thankful that I had the knowledge and skill to fix the sweater so it is wearable, and even beautiful. And I am especially thankful that Frank loves the sweater because I love Frank very much. He is the best son-in-law a person could ask for.

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/19/13

Jeweled Cowl

Just realized I haven't done the finished post for this yet. I think it turned out gorgeous, but I'm kind of biased about it.



Jeweled Cowl


Pattern: Jeweled Cowl by Sachiko Uemura

Size: 44 by 14 inches

Yarn: Raven Ridge Fiber Arts Hand Painted Sock
Content: 80% Merino Wool/20% Silk
Color: Pine Bark
Beads: Size 8 Silver Lined Pale Pink AB

Needles: ChiaoGoo Twist Red Lace Circular size 8

Cast on: October 29, 2013
Completed: November 28, 2013

Great pattern. I would suggest using a very stretchy cast on and bind off. I LOVE this yarn but, unfortunately, it's been discontinued.



The beads went perfect with this yarn color.







It's wrapped and ready to be shipped today.



I also finally got around to taking a pic of this years Christmas tree.


We got a new star with LED lights in it. It changes color. It's pure coincidence that it turned purple just as I clicked the camera button.

Live long and prosper. \\// 

12/18/13

Chocolate Cephalopod

OMG! It's done! Wow, I can't believe it. I am so excited!

Front

Chocolate Cephalopod

Pattern: 32-10 Sweater and hat with reindeer by DROPS design
Chart: Octopus
Size: Mens Small/Medium

Yarn: Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Sport
Content: 100% Merino Superwash Wool
Color: Mocha, Aran, Lemon, Extra Creme Cafe
Needles: Addi Turbo Circular size 4 and 6

Cast on: January 24, 2013
Completed: December 17, 2013

This sweater is not for the weak of heart. It was a real challenge to make, but oh so worth it.

Back
Things I did differently: 
  • I substituted the octopus for the deer. I modified the chart linked above.
My Octopus chart

  • I substituted Mocha for Blue and Extra Creme Cafe for Beige
Close up of body stitch pattern

  • I knit the ribbed welt and sleeve cuffs with size 4 needles instead of 1. 1s are way too small for this.
  • I didn't bind off the center neck sts or shoulder sts. I put them on holders, then when I put the whole thing together I did the 3-needle bind off to join the shoulders, and I didn't have to pick up stitches where the open stitches were for the neckband. Also had to pick up a bit more than 106 sts for the neckband. Didn’t count them though so don’t know how many.
Sleeve stitch pattern detail

  • I started the neckband with size 5 needles, knit 3 rounds, then changed to size 4 needles and knit 5 rounds, then changed to size 3 needles, knit 2 rounds, then purled one round, then knit 2 rounds, then changed to size 4 needles and knit 5 rounds, then to size 5 needles for 2 more rounds and bind off. Makes a very very nice neckband that way that lays nicely around the neck. (A machine knitting trick translated.)

Things I  would change if I knit it again:
  • Make a larger test swatch in fairisle. Small swatch was not enough for this.
  • I would use a size larger needle for the fairisle parts. I had intended to do that from the start, but forgot.
  • Now that I've tried it, I find that I don't like the steek thing. It makes for a very bulky seam where the sleeves are joined and is a real hassle to put together. I would rather knit back and forth at the beginning of the armholes, stranding while purling on the wrong side and forget doing steeks. I know some people love doing sweaters with steeks. I'm not one of them.


Oddly, with all the grief I had over gauge, by the time I got the sweater blocked and washed, it turned out to be 44 inches around, which is the perfect size. I consider that a good bit of luck.



Live long and prosper. \\//





12/17/13

Almost There!

Yesterday I wove in a monumental number of ends, then blocked Chocolate Cephalopod. It went very well. After blocking, the sweater is at 44 inches around. So I got gauge after all.

Pic taken after blocking was finished.

Then I got out my trusty sewing machine and reinforced the steeks. Since then I've put the shoulders together with the 3 needle bind off, knit on the neckband, and woven the rest of the ends in. Now the steeks are cut and today I will sew in the sleeves. This baby will be in the mail before the end of the week. Woo hoo!

It's going to be in the 40's today. The sun is shining, and I hear a Towhee calling. I didn't know they stuck around in the winter. Interesting. The snow has all melted away. I'm enjoying the warmth, but I know the cold will be back soon.

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/16/13

An Announcement



The last stitch of Chocolate Cephalopod has been bound off. I have woven in the many ends. Today I block.

Just a quick weather note. All kinds of snow was expected over the weekend. Instead, it warmed up. I mean, really warmed up! It's up into the 40's and rain. YAY! The snow is waiting until my BFF Judy and her husband get moved.

Judy in 2010


They've been in California for the last three years. They moved down there to take care of her father-in-laws house. Well, the house has sold and they are moving back up here this week. I can hardly wait!

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/13/13

Million Row Challenge Update

Just a quick note. I'm over 4000 rows! Hurray! 4110 to be exact. Only 995890 to go.

I finished the long brown stretch of sleeve last night and started the fairisle part. The end is in sight!

Woo Hoo!!!

By the way, WANT:

Grumpy Cat from Ganz


Not available yet, but soon. Soon...

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/11/13

WIP Wednesday 12/11/2013

Chocolate Cephalopod progresses forward. I've finished the first sleeve and started the second one.



I took this pic yesterday and have added about 4 more inches since then. It seems to be going much quicker than the first sleeve did. I'll get this baby done in time I think. Hurray! I'm shooting for a Dec. 20th shipping date or earlier. Gotta have a definite goal to work toward.

I am working on this exclusively now, though there is one little project I need to get started soon. I've agreed to knit a square for a get well scarf a bunch of us in the Knittalk group on Yahoo are doing for an ill member. Shouldn't take too long to make. I just need to make a swatch, do a few calculations, then make the square. It's picking the yarn and stitch pattern that I'm having a hard time deciding. So many choices!



If you're interested in participating in WIP Wednesday, please join us.

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/10/13

The Doll Swap

This month I participated in an internet swap held by the ImaginingEllowyneWilde Yahoo group. We were to send our swap partner something for our dolls to wear, keeping in mind Christmas. I knit a hat, scarf, and tiny little fingerless mitts, here modeled by my Ellowyne.


Warm Set for Ellowyne

Pattern: T'isn't one. I made it up as I went.
Size: To fit Robert Tonner 16 inch Ellowyne dolls.

Yarn: Cascade Heritage 150 Paints
Content: 75% Merino Superwash Wool/25% Nylon, sport weight.
Color: 9770 Celtic

Needles: Addi Turbo Circular size 2

Cast on: November 29, 2013
Completed: December 1, 2013

I did the scarf first, which is just a simple 2x2 rib. I made it 1 inch shorter than the height of the doll because when I make scarves for me, I make them 5 feet and I'm 5 feet 4 inches tall, so I figured that would be a good ratio to use. Then I tackled the hat, which wasn't really hard to do. Hats have become a piece-o-cake kind of thing for me.



The fingerless mitts though, they were a challenge. Such tiny hands to knit for! I think they're adorable.



They are hard to put on though. I had to take the hands off my doll to get them on. I'm glad the hands come off. They do make life easier that way.



Along with the knitted set, I also sent some Idaho treasures. Huckleberry Jam, Huckleberry Candy, and, of course, an Idaho Potato Recipes book. 

My swap partner sent me a whole outfit. She sent me PURPLE!



There is a white lace long sleeved shirt, purple velvet pants, purple shoes, and a little purple flowered purse. I love the whole outfit! Amber is modeling it here, along with a new red wig that came with my Pru doll.

I did get lots of knitting done over the weekend. More about that tomorrow.

It was frigidly cold all weekend long. Dropped down into the negative numbers at night, and didn't get above 21 during the day. It's been so cold we haven't been using the hot tub cuz I didn't think it would be safe to expose my skin in that kind of weather. When it's -5F, it doesn't take much to get frostbite. 

Last night it was 18F, which is considerably warmer than it's been. So I dipped in to the hot tub. Oh, it felt so wonderful! My feet have been cold for days. They finally warmed up.

It's warmed up considerably around here in the last 12 hours. It's actually supposed to get all the way up to 32F later today. And then the snow is coming.

Live long and prosper. \\//

12/3/13

Ugh, Sore Hand

I had a nice Thanksgiving. Lots of good food and hanging with the family. The weather was tolerable. Cold and wet with rain. We got a lot of rain. On Sunday it was over 3 inches in one day. We had a Star Trek Enterprise marathon between eating and partying. Got through 2 and a half seasons. I also got a lot of knitting done.

First, I finished knitting the Jeweled Cowl. I just need to weave in two ends and block it. I finished it on Thanksgiving Day at my brother-in-law's house, while waiting for dinner time to be announced.

I knit a whole set for a Christmas swap present, but I can't show it here until after the swap partner gets it, so you'll have to wait. I had to do it patternless cuz, well, no one has written a pattern so far as I was able to ascertain. I'm quite pleased with myself. I didn't have to frog anything. I guessed right every time I tried an idea and it all came out very nice. I think my swap partner is gonna like it.

I also made good progress on the first sleeve of Chocolate Cephalopod. Kind of overdid it. But I have lots of rows to add to the Million Row challenge count!



I had to take one day off from knitting yesterday cuz my left hand started to hurt. I'm gripping too tight. I need to loosen up a bit. It's not going to get away from me. Anyway, so daughter and I put up the Christmas tree with our new lights. I got awesome new lights for the tree from Costco about 3 months ago. I'm glad I did cuz they ran out fast, and they are SO COOL! They're LED lights that fade from multi-colored to warm white and back again. I can also set them for steady-on white or multi-colored. They're unique. I've not seen anything like them anywhere else.

Haven't got the ornaments on yet. Gonna work on that over the next few days. I did some laundry too. Laundry, it never ever ends.

Oh yes, and I Christmasfied this blog. That was fun. And I figured out why my Nook HD wouldn't read some of my PDF formatted books. I have 57 Agatha Christie novels in PDF format. I wanted to start reading them, but my Nook HD could only read the first 10 or 11 pages and the rest were blank.

After a couple of hours of searching the net, I found out the problem. It seems the reader that comes pre-installed on Nook anything is a crappy Barnes & Noble version rather than the full Adobe Acrobat Reader. I installed the full version and voila! I can read my PDF's. I really don't know what B&N was thinking doing that. It's a dumb thing to do. It only frustrates the customer. I also have made arrangements to get my old 1st Gen. E-Ink Nook repaired. The micro USB port is damaged (thank you cats!) and though it will charge, it won't hook up to my laptop. It costs a bit to get it fixed, but not as much as buying a new one. It also has the same PDF reading problem, but I can't fix it cuz you can't download apps on to this old baby.  It was pre-app when it came out.

Today I have Rathdrum Knitalong. I'm taking Chocolate Cephalopod. I hope you have a good rest of the day.

Live long and prosper. \\//