30 June 2007

Read Purl Rows From the Left Stupid

With the baby cardigan safely stowed away, it's time to start something new. I really like a lot of the patterns from Knitting Daily and I decided to start the Intricate Stag Bag as a gift for someone. The way the pattern is written you first knit the center motif, then add side panels, then the top panel, then the bottom panel and back of the bag. This means that the stranded knitting is done back and forth. I didn't really stop to think about this much, but it turns out that ALL of the stranded knitting I've ever done was done in the round, and my chart reading habits are a little hard to break.

The first time I started (you do see what this means, right?) I got through about 20 rows when I really took a look at how things were going. It turns out I should have done this a little sooner. When you're reading a chart and going back and forth you need to remember that you read the purl side rows from the left, not the right. If you choose not to, you end up with exhibit A, to the right. At this point it should look like legs, not some strange dot-to-dot Rorschach test. Ripping ensued. The second time around I managed to follow the chart correctly, but I couldn't get my tension right on the purl side rows. (I'm not good at catching the floats on the wrong side.) Ripping ensued. The third try was a pretty good imitation of the second, the only difference being that the brown stitches were pulling instead of the off white ones. Ripping ensued. I finally decided that back and forth stranded knitting is not for me and modified the pattern so that I could knit the sucker in the round. I made it about 3 inches on that go-round until I decided that I really did need to have a purl stitch on each side to keep the bag flat when I was done.

At this point, I have two re-balled skeins of yarn that are ready to go back on the needles. I'm gonna make this thing even if it kills me or, more likely, drives me insane. It's now a matter of pride. I shall not be bested by the Intricate Stag Bag!

29 June 2007

The Hole Thing

When I do charity knitting I especially like making baby things. They don't take a lot of time (unless you're going the blanket route) and they're not usually very complicated. When I was learning how to knit the second sweater that I made was a baby sweater. I liked it so much that I made several of them for people who were expecting. It's been several years since I made this particular one and now that some time has gone by I feel like I'm actually getting it right. I feel this because I can now see all of the less than stellar instructions in the pattern. Take, for instance, the button band. I worked it as specified and ended up with what you see on the left. It's OK, but I'd really rather have the button holes not be quite so obvious. These were made by making a yarn over then purling stitches together on the wrong side. I decided that I couldn't live with them this way and frogged the button band back and did it again, this time making my holes by making a yarn over then knitting two together. This worked, but now my holes are off center. If I were smart I'd make a note that the ribbing on that side should start with a purl, not a knit so the ribs would be offset by one stitch. Anyway, I finished it off and now all it needs is the buttons and a nice home.

26 June 2007

Son of Frankenstein

Looking back over the last month I discovered that I've been fairly self centered. All my knitting has been for me, so I decided it was time to put down the sleeve and do some charity knitting. My first thought was, "I'll whip off a couple of pair of booties." Seems simple enough; go through the files of patterns I've downloaded and purchased, find some easy booties and go. I looked back through the booklet that I taught myself out of because I seemed to remember some booties in there. Sure enough, there they were, with some cute infant feet modeling them.. I picked up my needles, found some leftover yarn that would make cute booties and knit. The booties were quick, the booties were easy. The booties...would not fit on any kind of human being I've ever seen. These booties were the right size for the Frankenstein baby.
I checked my needles, yep right size. I checked my gauge, yup right gauge. Then I looked more closely at the photo. If they made those out of worsted weight yarn, then I'm the Queen of Sheba. Needless to say, bootie number 2 did not make it onto the needles. I switched gears and decided to do my favorite baby cardigan instead. Tune in tomorrow for how that turned out.

23 June 2007

On Cats

Right off the bat I must say 2 things: If you have a weak stomach, please don't look at the picture below. Even if you have a strong stomach, you might want to avert your eyes. Second, if you are Fiona Ellis, I apologize. I would have kept it from happening, but I didn't get any advanced notice.

I am a dog person. I enjoy the way they play, the way that they can always be counted on to be there for you, the unconditional love. Cats, I have a harder time with. They are aloof, they only want to be petted when it is most inconvenient, they are not fun. They also have a habit of creating hairballs. Since this is a known cat fact, I don't get too annoyed when it happens in my home. What I object to is the cat (hereafter known as Furry Flying Projectile #1) walking into my newly furbished craft room, standing over the pattern book I just put on the floor, and projectile vomiting on it. If you have a cat you know that the hairball ejection process involves some ...warning sounds. I was given no warning. He walked in, found a likely looking place, and regurgitated all over the Celtic Icon pattern.

While tempted to kick FFP#1 into next week, I restrained myself. I calmly did what anyone else of my temperament would do, I called the dog in to clean up.

22 June 2007

Let the Decreasing Begin

So perhaps I was a little hasty when I said that I might lose interest in the sleeve. It has held my interest long enough so that I have gotten past the myriad increases, and am now set to begin the decreases. Of course this was accomplished by the wonderful parental tactic of placing the small intruder in front of the television for way too long.

On the subject of decreases, I have added a question to my list of "Things to Ask God About When I Get to Heaven." Why are our arms shaped like this? Why must a knitter cast on what seems like a good amount of stitches then add more every few rows? Why can't we have nice straight arms that don't grow and shrink, causing us knitterly types to have to do math and geometry and other unwholesome activities?

18 June 2007

Sleevius Interruptus

It now feels as though summer has really begun. Anna was out of school last week, but she was going to vacation bible school with a friend in the mornings, so it still felt like I had some time during the day. This week it's all me, all the time. "Mommy I'm bored. Mommy play with me. Can I call and play with someone?" I may need a Mini Mommy vacation before this summer is over.

In knitting news, the sleeve has grown by one pattern repeat. Unfortunately the sleeve may be growing very slowly. The usual procedure was; prepare a beverage, turn on the current book on CD, sit on the loveseat and knit. I can no longer listen to the books on CD because it annoys the small intruder. I can't sit on the loveseat for more than about 2 minutes without being summoned to some other part of the house due to some perceived, "emergency." I fear for the sleeve, it may feel neglected and decide to run away and join the other UFOs hiding out in the secret corners of the house. Let us all hope that it will have a strong enough personality to continue calling loudly to me through the long days of summer.

13 June 2007

Breaking News

or, How Not to Start Your Summer Vacation, an Essay in 2 Photos

Luckily it's just a hairline fracture of the radius. It should heal quickly and easily in about 4 weeks. The bad news, of course, is that there will be no swimming while the cast is on.

12 June 2007

Knitting Pet Peeve #1

So there I was in the park, knitting nothing in particular. I just grabbed a skein of yarn and some needle to bring with me so I would have something mindless to do while watching the kiddies play. I cast on a few stitches, knit a couple of rows, then this:
Why oh why do they do this to us. I had been knitting for maybe 5 minutes when I came upon this knot. It's not even a good knot. It's a granny knot. I could unpick this with my bare fingers. If they're going to have the nerve to knot a teensey piece of yarn on the end of an almost full skein of very slippery acrylic, the least they could do is use a decent knot to do the job.

09 June 2007

Oh My Aching Back

For those of you who were concerned let me just say, yes Kris lived through yesterday. I may have woken him up at every possible opportunity, but I did not inflict any physical injury. After much consideration I decided to use my time yesterday morning working on the Celtic Icon sweater. I am 3/8ths of the way through the second sleeve. I haven't done the fronts or back yet because I use the sleeve as my gauge swatch. So far things are looking good. The wool is a little stiff, but I'm hoping that will be fixed during the blocking process.

Since Kris is now a man of leisure (although his leisure is going to be done before 4:00 from this point on) we all decided that he should move from his old bedroom to the larger guest room in the basement. Alas, this means that the amount of space available for me and my wool/crafting suppiles is smaller as well. It also means that the last 3 days have been a continual process of hauling heavy boxes and furniture either up or down the basement stairs. It has been a very tiring process but this is the result:

Yes, that is a closet. The rest of the room still has to function as a guest room leaving me with a small, but cutely organized space. I can't help but noticing that I don't appear to like either orange or yellow, but I'm all over green and white. Must be my Irish Catholic coming through somehow.

08 June 2007

The Gift of Time

Today I have been given a great gift by my son. It is the gift of time. My wonderful child has figured out that I would be able to accomplish a lot more if I just had more time at my disposal. I am, however, torn. I am not entirely sure what to do with this time. True, it is a good and valuable gift, but it seems that not all time is created equal. As an example, take the hour of 4:00 in the morning. While there are many possible activities that a person can engage in at 4:00, there are even more activities which are impractical. Can a person count every 4th heartbeat (one one one one, two two two two...)? Yes. Clean the dishes on the counter? Not so much. Can a person engage in random mental word generation (xenophobia, pastille, orinoco, fois gras...)? Yes. Haul boxes up from the basement and start organizing the new guest room? Not really.

As I sit in the living room watching the horizon slowly brighten with the coming of the sun, and listen to the gentle song of the birds outside, I can in a better way appreciate the kindness of my child. Had my recent high school graduate not come in the house at 4:02 from his night of internet cafe entertainment, I would not be able to post this new message to my blog. I would not be able to take up my needles and work on the sleeve of my Fiona Ellis sweater. I would be utterly wasting this most precious hour of the morning.

To Kris I say: Thank You. I also say: The next time you wake me up at 4:00 I'm going to put a hurting on you like you wouldn't believe.

05 June 2007

Completion and Graduation

The patriotic socks are finished. Those of you who are familiar with self patterning sock yarn may think, "Oh look, she matched the patterns up so the socks would be the same." Ha! It actually happens to be a nifty coincidence. I'm sure I couldn't do it again if I tried.

As I was contemplating what to put on the needles next, my friendly neighborhood mail carrier showed up with two packages that I ordered last week. Behold the goodies.
In the box from KnitPicks I got some yarn that was needed for finishing up a project, as well as the books More Sensational Knitted Socks, and Selbuvotter. In the envelope from Fiddlesticks Knitting was the Two Lace Scarves pattern and some Zephyr wool/silk yarn in blueberry, which is a nice denim color. As much as I'm tempted to abandon all of my other UFOs in favor of this new bounty, I'm going to be good and go back to something that's already in progress.

In family news, we were all very proud of Kris on Sunday as he graduated from high school. There were several times during his school career that I honestly didn't think he was going to make it, but he proved the doubters wrong. Things went very smoothly, other than the minor issues of half the party showing up without their tickets, no plans being made to find the graduate in the seething sea of humanity after the ceremony, or the leaving of the graduate before any photos could be taken. Well done Kris, and now that you are a responsible adult, please clean your room!

01 June 2007

Back on Track

I've regained all the lost ground from yesterday and forged on ahead. I've rounded the heel, decreased for the instep and I'm closing in on the toe shaping. Woo Hoo. I may have to take a break from the patriotic sock though, as my right pinkie is protesting the small needles and tight stitches.

The house has been cleaned, a mountain of groceries have been purchased, and Fritz is bringing his drum smoker from Detroit. We are all prepared for Kris' big night on Sunday. All that remains is to fill the house with people and that should be happening in the next 9 hours.

There will probably be a lull in the blog proceedings until Monday, what with all the company and lack of knitting time. Have a lovely weekend all.