Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(Don't) Flip It And Reverse It

I'm on my third of three skeins for the entrelac scarf, and I'm really enjoying this method. I think part of it is the yarn. Noro's colors are so vibrant, and it's visually just nice to see them changing from tier to tier.  I've seen comments from folks on Ravelry that said when knitting entrelac, it's worth your time to learn to knit backward so that you don't have to keep turning and purling on the wrong side.

I don't think it's quite as important for a scarf, because you don't have as much material, but if I were doing the blanket or shawl version of this, I can see where it would save a lot of time and tedium to not have to turn your work.

When I went on YouTube and saw just how easy it looks, I decided to try it out on the scarf so I can get the decreases down, and if it's as time-saving as it proposes to be, I can use it when I make a baby blanket. I love the idea of combining knitting and quilting for a winter baby. I was a little nervous that it would be awkward, or that it would take time to be quick with it, but it was super easy, and it makes very quick work of those rows. I will definitely use this if I have flat knit items that just need to be purled on the wrong side. I don't know how this would work for patterned items, though, as it would frankly be more work to modify the pattern to make it work.

I did break my rule and worked on some java jackets and baby legs while this scarf was on the needles, but that's because they were for an Etsy sale, which takes precedence over 'selfish knitting' projects.

I think I might actually keep the scarf for myself. I bought a fun faux fur collared down jacket when I was at Wrentham during my trip to Massachusetts, and this scarf will look mighty fine with it.

Here's the tutorial for you:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bust Your Buns!


It's Day 1 of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge hosted by Run To The Finish. If you want to sign up, it's not too late! A great way to stay accountable through the holidays and let your competitive side win. Even better, there are prizes to be won!

Today, I'm going to yoga from 9-10:20, which is 4 points and then running the three miles home, for a total of 7 points. I will also get in my 7 servings of fruits and veggies (3 down) for the bonus point. The contest runs through January 7th. Start working on those New Year's Resolutions in the old year!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

K.I.T. (Knitty-in-training, of course!)

From the time we lived in Massachusetts, H loved to sit next to me and 'knit a stitch' of whatever I was working on. He was usually content to put his hands in the general vicinity while I manipulated the yarn and needles to create the sense of accomplishment while I maintained my own tension and gauge. I know, I'm a complete freak. Well, the jig is up, folks and H wants me to 'help his hands' no more!

Last night, as I was knitting java jackets, I handed him a skein of wool and two needles and gave him my blessing to do with it as he wished (after he was moving the needles in and out of the afghan on our bed). I looked over and to my horror found a pile of yarn that was more mangled than a plate of spaghetti that had been put in the spin cycle. 'What are you doing?!' I shrieked. He dropped the yarn and offending needles and looked a little hurt by my lack of appreciation for his fiber genius and replied 'You said I could do whatever I wanted with it.' Right. You've got me. 

All he really wanted to do was create something and I acted like a total freak when what he created was a fat lot of work for me to wind the ball back up. But, it was my own fault, a fact of which I quickly assured him. Clearly, we were going to have to start back a few steps. I remembered when I was attending a training for work and there were several knitters in the room. My friend was knitting on one of those plastic looms and is just one of those people who would unabashedly say 'Yeah, they're actually for little kids.' Good thing she did, because today H and I took a little trip to Jo-Ann's where he picked out a skein of bulky technicolor yarn and a plastic loom so that he could create a neck-warmer for himself; or a moo-whoo as we're calling it, since Cowls are obviously a combination of cows and owls. 

He actually got the hang of it really quickly and this has been the most fantastic quiet time ever. I have to do the loops on each turn to make it go more smoothly for him, and so it won't keep unraveling; it's a nice balance of a project to work on together but that still allows him some autonomy.  He's a young five, and I got one for Charlie also, but I think I'll be returning that loom. For my kiddos, I think five is plenty young. If you're blessed with quiet, sit-still girls who listen to you, have at it a little younger!

The only thing is, I realized after I'd opened the package that the loop we got is for baby hats, so hopefully it fits over his melon when he's done. I told him that on the off-chance it doesn't, I'll buy him another skein of the yarn and make one myself so he and his dolly can be matchers. If we wanted to do a scarf with the loom as my friend did, the ends would just need to be seamed. However, I'm thinking I'd have a couple calls from his teacher if he went to school with a scarf, so I'm not even going there. 

The torch is being passed, my friends.

Update: I bound off after he got bored, and it's literally an arm-cuff. If you want to replicate this crafty endeavor, get the largest size you can!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

I'm home from my whirlwind trip to the Right Coast where I got to see a ton of people (though there were still those I didn't get to connect with), drank a few too many cocktails, and got to shower our expecting friends in the picturesque town of Northampton.

Being back felt so surreal because it was almost as thought I'd never left. But then, I had. Driving through the tolls for the first time I was so lucky I actually had cash, as it was the first time in a long time I'd driven without a Fast Lane pass. Going to the Y to celebrate with my team, I accidentally drove right past and into the old apartment complex parking lot. Dunkin' Donuts was there to greet me en masse at the airport, and that brash accent wrapped around me like an old friend.

While it's good to be back in the Northwest, there is definitely a part of me that will always feel very comfortable in New England. My trip home was full of poor planning on my part, as my flight got in just after 8pm and I had to drive home the four-plus hours immediately, since J had to work the next morning at seven. By the time I dragged my sorry booty into my bed, I'd been up for almost 24-hours. My kids woke up the next morning at six to find the bag of munchkins I'd drug through the airport and crunched under the seat in front of me just so they'd have that little piece of familiarity in the place that still feels foreign to them.

Settled back in, I'm almost finished with the entrelac scarf, and also got an order for a set of five Java Jackets and am having fun with some new un-felted patterned ones. I ordered a couple kits through Knit Picks, so look for some fun pictures and a new etsy listing. I'm also in the process of purchasing the rights to make the Hannah and Josie newsboys for resale, so hope to crank a few more of those out before the holidays.

After spending several days trying to play catch-up on the cleaning I missed while I was gone, I put in a call to the local cleaning service so that I could get an estimate. A day after I got back, I hosted my dad and sister at my house as my sister was in town to have surgery. There was a thin dusting of grime everywhere I turned but I never caught my second wind to do more than de-fur the house and make sure dishes and laundry were done before they got here. Ah well, next time, right?

Aside from knitting, I still have two more stockings to make so we can have a matched set of four (well, five with Clifford's) to hang from our awesome sheet-rock mantle. Yes, our mantle is made of contoured sheet rock. At the top of our project list, behind tiling the backsplash and installing a banquette in the dining room is now 'make a real mantle, because having a mantle made of wall is weird.'

I'm also motivated to finally make the paper piecing baby quilt, a pattern for which I purchased last year. Because that's just how I roll. Actually, I can't feel too badly about it since safely in its bag upstairs, I still have the pattern book and all the fabric for the Underground Railroad quilt I purchased in Montana the very first time I went to meet my in-laws. Yes, that would be over a decade ago. I was also pouring over Amy Butler's In Stitches last night and looking at the fun throw pillows and cushions I could make for the as-yet-uninstalled, purchased or even decided on, banquette.

Today, I go to my first courtroom observation as part of my required in-court hours for the CASA program. I'm so excited to volunteer in a way that will involve me in the Child Welfare world without the same levels of stress and case management, and a fractional commitment of time. I'm nervous, though, about learning another juvenile court system. They all seem to be vastly different, from the lingo to the dress code.

And that's my little slice of life for now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Entrelac Scarf

I've been waiting to cast this scarf on for some time now. I knew I needed to finish the cute newsboy hats before I left to visit my friends and go to the baby shower last week, so the three skeins of Noro Silk Garden had been sitting patiently in their tissue paper cacoon until it was time to put them to use. I used the Knitting Daily tutorial to make sense of the written instructions, and entrelac has proved to honestly be a very simple technique with a very complicated look. I'm on the second skein already, so may order a fourth for more versatile wearing options. Overal, this is a quick and fun project, and I've received compliments and questions from everyone who's seen it so far. I'm very excited by texture these days, so it's been fun to experiment with fibers and patterns that spice up the everday.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Serenity Achieved

The other night I settled in to cast-off the stitches for the Serenity blanket. After almost two weeks of squinting, re-counting and, I'm not going to lie, more than a little bit of cursing, it was complete. And, if I do say so myself, really beautiful. I love this pattern and will definitely make it again albeit not immediately. I have been committed to working on one project at a time, and not casting on stitches, printing out patterns for or even fondling the yarn of the next project. It's amazing how much more I've been able to accomplish when I focus my undivided attention on one project. Hm. Weird.
(freshly cast-off and unblocked)

I am in love with the texture of this blanket!

Recently I heard someone talking (probably while I was knitting and watching TV while listening to music) about how nobody can truly multi-task. You're always actually only working on one thing, while temporarily neglecting the others. As part of the Game On challenge, my bad habit I am trying to remedy has been that I'm on the computer too much; specifically the internet. When the kids go to bed and the house is quiet, it's so easy to get sucked into just one more game of Word Twist, or reading one more blog post and dreaming about the next knitting project on Ravelry (an invaluable social networking site for knitters and crocheters), or the next recipe from 101 Cookbooks. No more. I've dedicated my evenings now to reading, watching TV and knitting. Monday nights, I meet some knitting friends at a local coffee shop and Tuesdays I take a yoga class from my friend, the sublime Ms. Jennifer Henry

Yoga is a whole other post, but suffice it to say, it's been the first time I've taken it and really just been able to get over myself. Maybe it's because the instructor is my friend but honestly she's just so real, you don't feel silly or awkward. It's not that you're uncoordinated or stiff, you just can't get into that position yet.

But back to my now 'free' evenings. I completed Serenity, then immediately cast on my first of two socks and before I knew it, I'd turned the heel on sock number two. Now, I just need to finish the foot of that sock and I'm casting on the Josie Newsboy Hat. I. Can't. Wait. to get my hands back on the lovely cashmere from Pepperberry Knits with which I will knit the Josie Hat and Agnes Rose to pin on it. 

If you're wondering why you just got to see the completed Serenity, since I'm the first to toot my own horn, it's because I realized after posting about it a couple times both on this blog and facebook that the recipient sometimes reads both. Whoopsie! Since this is posting on November 7th, I've traveled back to Massachusetts to gift it to the happy couple and am safely ensconced on a cross-country flight back to my fam.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Front Page News

The Josie is complete with Agnes Rose to adorn it. This was a super fast knit. I picked up the stitches for the body of the hat last night at I sat down to watch a Lizzie Borden documentary and hand out candy to all the sticky fingers in town, and was done by about 11:30. I had completed the band before, which took little more than an hour since it's just 1x1 rib.

Tonight at knitting group, I made the smaller teacup rose from the Agnes pattern, but since I'm using sport weight yarn, the cabbage rose was actually what I needed to make it big enough. Either way, I made both roses in under an hour (with lots of chit-chat and time to sew it onto the hat) so it was no cause for complaint. Charlie was oh-so-happy to be my little model. It's a super stretchy band, so is sized to fit kids three to five. Lush cashmere and minimal seaming makes this a treat without any tricks. Since it looks so cute on him, though, I think I'll be modifying a boy version without the eyelet lace so it's a cute little conductor cap.

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