Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Holiday Knitting

I hope all of you in blogland survived yesterday. We had a passable Christmas but my husband's grandmother fell on Christmas Eve Day and broke her hip so we've been pretty sad about that. She's 94 and really sharp and independent. She's so mad at herself for falling. I hope she'll be able to get over the anger so she can focus on recovery. She broke her other hip seven years ago and she bounced back relatively quickly so we're pulling for her this time.

A few weeks ago, I took this sunrise picture at my grandfather's apartment. It's not a great picture but I love the color the light made on the white wall.

I've been working on a hat pattern that I'm going to call Winter Sunrise because I'm using a nice red and orange. If the hat looks good, I'll put up the pattern. If it's ugly, I'll grit my teeth and rip.
I took the color work pattern from this book:

Speaking of hats, here's a picture of Aaron's Bea Ellis hat with the liner sewn up. I've read in blogland that a provisional cast on makes the liner seam easier but I think it would look funny with the color work pattern, since I would be knitting the black liner together with both black and white stitches. I didn't want to compromise the color work so I tacked the liner up later. It seems pucker-free so I probably won't block it.

Stay tuned for more knitting!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

P.S. Google's Knitters

Have you seen the Google graphics from yesterday and today?

Stash Expansion, Part II

Laura thinks I'll have enough of that Woolarina yarn for two Endpaper Mitts so I think that might be my Christmas project. We'll see. It sounds promising to me!

OK, stash expansion. Here goes. Five 100-gram balls of Regia sock yarn purchased from Wollsucht. Each ball will make one pair of socks. It's much cheaper to buy Regia from Germany - I couldn't believe the price difference! From left to right, Regia India Cotton 4301, India Cotton 4302, Canadian Colors 4732 (Toronto), Canadian Colors 4730 (Alberta), and Rellana Flotte Socke Jubiläum 3 4410. I'm not much for variegated yarn but I've never tried self-striping (mostly because I've never found a self-striping sock yarn that I liked). These seem nice in the sample poster so we'll see how they turn out. The last is a bit loud for my taste but I thought I'd experiment. After shipping, it came out to about $8/ball - not bad for a full pair of socks, eh? OK, that's it for the stash expansion... sort of. Does something count as a stash expansion purchase if you've already used it up??? I present the Traditional Bea Ellis hat in Black and Cream Heilo. As it turns out, I'm not the only one who has recently found a Bea Ellis kit to knit. The cotton headband liner is what is rolling up on the brim. I hope to sew it inside the hat this weekend. I'm still debating about putting some tassels on this hat. This is another hat for Aaron and he's not really all that keen on tassels but because so many stitches are drawn up at the top, the hole at the top is larger than I'd prefer for a tassel-free hat.
I like the pattern but I cut it short a full inch. The pattern suggested knitting for 8" past the brim before starting the crown shaping. While the shaping is only 6 rows, I find 8" awfully long. I was also running out of white yarn so I stopped at 7" and it's still a bit long.

Next, here's Aaron modeling that gray hat I worked up last weekend. I'm thinking about felting a knitted flower to add to it to make the effect less "meuh". It's not my favorite but I now have one less skein of yarn in my stash so that's OK. Those of you who are making some snide remark about how I just added 17 new skeins to stash? Shut it. :-)
Did any of you hear Dorie Greenspan's cookie piece on All Things Considered with Michele Norris? I decided to use her three cookie recipes for our holiday cookies. Let me highly recommend them! WOW! Sandies, World Peace Cookies and Rugelach! Here are some of the latest cookies:
On that note, I wish you happy holidays and lots of vacation knitting time!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Stash Expansion, Part I

First, the vacuum. Who knew one could fall in love with a vacuum? We are living it up sans Petunia hair!! I've never seen such an amazing vacuum. Granted, in order to be totally Petunia-free, we have to vacuum every other day. I can handle that. I keep telling Petunia that she's worth it, even if she smells rotten. Here she is, in a shocking moment of activity.

These days, we're celebrating her first anniversary with us (although she's nine years old) and her 20-lb weight loss. This exclusively table scrap-fed dog went from living in a ranch house with no stairs to eating diet food and climbing lots of stairs:
She was a real tub of lard. I'm so proud of the stinky mutt, even if she didn't have a choice about her weight loss. :-)

As promised several posts back, I have lots of fiber goodness to show. I bought a bunch of yarn for my birthday even though my stash is *ahem* sizeable and I have little time to knit these days. If only I could knit WHILE exercising like Marly! To further complicate matters, I will be back in grad school full time next semester so there will be even less time for knitting. NEVER MIND ALL THAT! Here are my recent purchases:

One skein each of Woolarina's Raspberry and Grapefruit sock yarn. Intended tentatively for some Endpaper Mitts. This was a bit of a mistake. I thought I was buying two skeins of each for two pairs of socks. Now, I need to find a way to put them together. Eunny's mitts seem like they'd work - any other ideas?

Next, 10 skeins of Knit Picks Swish Superwash in Baby Blue. Why? Because it was cheap on eBay and superwash is never cheap. Is that an acceptable answer? No, I don't have a project planned. I'll probably make lots of small things with this - sweater knitting is not possible these days.

But the title of this post is Stash Expansion, Part I??? There's more??? Indeed, friends, as I have no self restraint these days. You'll have to wait for tomorrow's post for the rest since Aaron has the camera at work today!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Reprieve from Sock Knitting

Thanks for all of your comments and encouragements about my return to running! I'm pretty excited about it. I know that it will be hard to find the time (not to mention the daylight hours) to run without Beatrix but I'm committed to it. If I get desperate, I can leave her with Aaron and run on the treadmill at the rec center down the street from our house.

I have no finished socks for you. I haven't picked up the socks since I last posted. Instead, I engaged in a few stash-busting projects. Using some Araucania Nature Wool, two wool soakers for Beatrix using the Picky Pants pattern. Note the fancy elastic waist (I learned a new skill)! And look how close I came to running out of yarn! Eek. That's why the 2nd pair ended up as shorts and not pants. I just love the pants but they fit more like capris. I forget that Beatrix is a really long and skinny baby. I'll add a few extra inches to the legs the next time I make a pair.
My second stash-buster was an Odessa hat for Aaron using Lamb's Pride Worsted. I omitted the beads for a more masculine-looking hat. I made him a really basic hat from Henry's Attic Alpaca a few years ago that he wears all the time. It's a bit light for really cold days so I thought I'd make him a hat with something heavier.

Finally, I cast on for another hat using more Lamb's Pride Worsted. I'm not too fond of the hat but I don't have much left so I'm just going to tough it out.

Meuh. As you can see, it's nothing to write home about. I thought I'd use a picot banded edge but it just looks lame in fuzzy gray yarn. I knit much of this hat in the car on the way to buy this:
That's a Dyson DC17 vacuum. Why, you ask?


One word: Petunia. Well, that and a baby who will be crawling in a few months, of course!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What Happened to Exercise Before Knitting???

While you may have been thinking that I ought to change the name of my blog to Knitting While Nursing, I finally have some real exercise news to report! The exercise has been on hiatus because of the little Santa.

I ran through my pregnancy until 28 weeks, at which point I could no longer prevent my running shorts from falling down around my ankles at the slightest jog. People, there are no decent maternity running shorts out there. I've done the research. Not even Mothers In Motion and Fit Maternity shorts work in the 3rd trimester. In the early postpartum period, Beatrix and I took long, afternoon walks every day for both exercise and mental clarity. Still, I longed for my old running routine. Nothing clears my head like a good run and I was really fighting the foggy, postpartum brain!

Inspired by Sharon's postpartum running experience, I started running again when Beatrix was 13 weeks old. At first, I tried popping her in the jogging stroller with lots of head support, blankets and a wind shield. The verdict? This baby hates the stroller. At least, for now. She's good for about a mile and then she goes from happy, contented baby to screaming, angry devil child in a matter of seconds. Needless to say, I'm leaving her at home with Aaron until she's a bit older. Since the days are so short, I have to very carefully plan when I'm going to run.

The results, you ask? After 2 1/2 weeks of running, I'm happy to report that it's going pretty well. I started with 2 miles, 3 times a week. Never have I struggled so much to run two miles. Yesterday, I ran a triumphant 2.5 miles and I finally felt like I achieved that long sought after head-clearing effect! It amazes me that 2.5 miles at a stupendously slow pace could make me feel so good! Thank you, endorphins!

My goal is to continue running at least three days a week, altough four would be ideal. I'd like to build up to 3 miles during the week with a longer run on the weekend. Once I can do three miles every run, I think I'll add one mile to my long run every week. I've always like the run/walk method of Jeff Galloway so I might use that training approach. For any of you considering embarking on a new running program, I highly recommend this approach - it is so gentle and painless.

I have no training goals, although I would love to be able to run one of my favorite races in April. This race is special to me because I ran the 5K version when I was 20 weeks pregnant (with three stops in the middle of the race at the port-a-potty, I'll have you know). Don't worry, I went very slowly (I just wanted to be able to say that I ran a race while pregnant). Even though it would be nice to run the half marathon, I am NOT going to aim for it this early. However, if I'm in good shape in February, I'll go for it.

And now, since the exercise is out of the way, have some knitting:

This is my second cabled sock. I'm going to Cincinnati this weekend to visit my grandfather so I'll probably post the finished socks when I get back. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying some of the best ice cream on the planet and bringing back chili! It's too bad Skyline is so limited for vegetarians but you can buy chili spice packets to make your own chili with fake meat. That's what we do in our house!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Poseidon Pattern Correction

Thanks to Stash Monkey for noticing that the Poseidon toe and heel have 30 sts to a side while the lace pattern repeat is 29 sts. Oops! The pattern has been changed to reflect this. You'll still cast on 30 sts for the toe but by the end of toe shaping, you should have 58 sts, not 60. Sorry, folks! Extra special thanks to Stash Monkey for figuring it out! Drop by her blog and wish her luck on the GRE!!!

Cabled Socks and Gift Knitting

Thank you for all of your comments about my new pattern. If you decide to try it out, please let me know what you think! I'm working on two more sock patterns but they'll be secret knitting until I get them right!

I have a half finished pair of socks to show you. I put this pattern together off the top of my head and now that it's done, I think there are some things I would do differently. Nevertheless, here you have one cabled sock in Knit Picks Swish Superwash (Bordeaux).

Marly noticed that I was knitting on circulars and asked what I thought of using circulars instead of DPNs. Well, my dear Magic Loop friends, I hate circulars. I am begrudgingly knitting socks on one long circular because I have nightmares about poking little Miss Beatrix in the head with a stray DPN. She's usually in my lap when I knit and I'm too scared to risk jabbing her so I've moved to a circular needle FOR NOW. I'll be back to my dear double pointed needles when she's a little older. Speaking of the little devil, here she is in her new Santa suit: I don't even like Christmas but I couldn't resist dressing my kid up as Santa. There is something wrong with me.

Speaking of the holidays, I've decided not to do any gift knitting this year. A three month old baby is a great excuse, but I'm considering rethinking the annual flood of gift knitting. We have a tradition of only gifting handmade items so for the last 7 years, that's meant knitted items from me. However, I have decided that, in the future, I will only knit for people who are genuinely excited about handknits. Too often, I've gifted a pair of mittens or socks to relatives and I can tell immediately that the items will not be used at all. This doesn't offend me the first time - after all, how would I have known that X wouldn't like handknit socks? Who wouldn't wear handknit socks??? I simply try to remember who likes the handknit goodies and who doesn't for the next year.

Needless to say, there are only a few family members who are excited about the handknits. I've been thinking that it would be nice to knit for those people throughout the year and occasionally send them socks or scarves instead of trying to squeeze every last bit of knitting time in before Christmas. That way, the relatives that don't appreciate handknits don't feel like I don't love them as much because I didn't spend hours knitting for them. Is this a hopelessly flawed strategy? Will I gift knit again this Christmas? We'll see. I am capable of it, given my recent stash expansions (yarn prOn coming your way next week when all the loot arrives...)

How much gift knitting do you do? Are you bloggers frantically working away on holiday projects or do you take it easy and give other kinds of presents? I'm interested to see if there's a Blogland consensus about gift knitting.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Poseidon Socks

Finished! Check them out! I'm naming the sock pattern Poseidon because of the lace wave pattern. You'll find the pattern in the column on the right.

Up next? Some cabled socks using Knit Picks Swish Superwash in Bordeaux. I'm pleased to report that Swish is wonderful to knit with - a nice change from Essential.

Stay tuned for more socks!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Lacy Waves Sock Pattern

So I've been working on a sock of my own creation this week. I plan on writing up the pattern because I like the lace waves but before I do, I'll knit up a second pair to work out any kinks. When I wrote the pattern, I thought I'd rather knit a toe-up pair but frankly, I much prefer cuff-down socks. I'll probably include both top-down and toe-up instructions in the pattern but I'll stick to my cuff-down patterns, thank you very much. I've tried so many toe-up heels and I just don't find them as durable as any top-down heel. Here are some previews. I apologize for the lame pictures. It was dark outside and I couldn't get great light:

I used Knit Picks Essential sock yarn for this one. You can't really argue with KP prices but I find the quality lacking with this particular line. The yarn is awfully splitty. The fabric feels nice but I didn't really enjoy knitting with Essential. Unfortunately, I have four more balls to use - two in dark green and two in burgundy. My other complaint about Essential is that the color, Gulfstream, looks electric blue on the website but when it arrived, it looked more blue-green. I was going for the electric effect. Maybe I'll dye my own to get the eye-searing blue I crave. When I showed Aaron the Gulfstream ball and explained it would be for socks, he asked if they would be socks to wear outside. Yes, Mr. Neutral Tones, socks to wear in public, thank you very much.

I am somewhat amazed that I am getting so much knitting done. My graduate work is not progressing as well as I would like. I attribute this to the fact that I cannot write while nursing, but I can knit. That's just how it's going to be for a little while longer. You can imagine how disappointed I am about this, right?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Finished Cable Twist Socks!

Thanks to all of you who commented about my Kitchener woes. I think I've figured it out. Enfin! I had hoped to get my second sock done on Sunday but we had a long weekend after a certain baby got her first round of vaccinations. *sigh* Check out the second toe (on left) :

No horns! I tried the Pink Lemon Twist tutorial but I could not figure it out. I'm not really content with simply tacking those corners down when I weave in my ends as a solution to the problem. So, in the end, the horn-free toe was achieved by following Theresa's advice about only going through the first and last stitches once. I'm quite happy with it although I have no intention of going back to re-graft the first sock. I can live with a slight imperfection!

As for the rest of the sock, look how nicely the pattern comes out. I'm totally in love with it. I used an eye of partridge heel instead of the one suggested in the pattern because I prefer the lattice look.

And now for the action shots... You can't knit socks without trying them on in shoes, can you?
Hey, there's nothing as cool as white socks and black shoes, right? Just kidding - these shoes were closest at hand when I was taking pictures.
In other knitting news, I'm trying out Norwegian Purl with Continental knitting. With NP, the yarn is held in back. This allegedly makes ribbing fly by. I'm intrigued. Do any of you knit and purl this way? Do you have any strong opinions about it? This will be a long term project for me because I'm so impatient and often switch back to English purl because it's easier and faster right now. My goal is to get good enough at the Norwegian purl to abandon my old method.

Finally, I have a Secret Pal update - check out the fuzzy baby yarn and pattern from my Secret Pal! I'll be returning to baby knitting soon - as soon as I get this sock knitting out of my system!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Second Sock Syndrome Prevention

Thanks for your all of your comments on the Cable Twist Socks! I'm really smitten with them. I've finished the first one and I'm halfway down the leg of the second one. It knits so quickly because the pattern calls for worsted weight yarn. Even though I'm using US2 DPNs, it's a fast knit!

My only regret with this sock is the Kitchener grafting. I love the seamless look of the toe graft but I hate how I get points that stick out at either end of the toe. Do you see them? I've looked up tutorials and learned the setup steps to make it look cleaner but I still see a pronounced bump on each end. Do any of you master sock knitters out there have any suggestions on how to avoid the problem?

And here's your oh-so-exciting progress picture on the second sock:
Now that I know how quickly these knit up, I want more pairs. *sigh* I have so many baby projects that I want to start but since B. is too small for many of her existing knits, I'm going to postpone the big baby knitting projects for now.

So what next? Another pair of cable twist socks? Or the Orchid Socks from craftaholic? Or the Hedera Socks from Knitty? Carin, my secret pal from SP8, gave me some Lang Jawool that I'd like to use soon - it's calling me. So, I guess I'll think about what comes next while I work away on the second Cable Twist sock.

Much to my horror, I'm discovering that knitting is one of the only activities that I'm still able to do. I haven't started back to running yet for a host of reasons. First of all, Beatrix can't go in the jogging stroller until 4 months (another 5 weeks) because of the head support issue. The only other time I can really run (baby-free) is at 5 p.m. when Aaron gets home from work and that seems to be her fussiest time of day when nursing is the only thing that satisfies her. We walk all over town every day but walking just doesn't clear my head the way running does. I keep assuring myself that this is a very temporary situation but it's still hard to take.

Secondly, I honestly think my brain checked out the day I delivered. I have such a hard time reading, concentrating and remembering really important stuff! I hope this is just postpartum brain. Everyone assures me that it goes away...


I'm waiting...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's All About the Pictures

As a reward for making a few inches of progress on the Most Boring Sock, I allowed myself to start a new pair of socks. I'd thought about making some mittens next but then I saw the pair of socks that Kathy (a.k.a. Grumperina) just finished. Go ahead. Check them out. I'll wait for you.

Back? OK. The pattern is a free one from Hello Yarn called Cable Twist Socks. No offense to Hello Yarn but the picture that accompanies the pattern does nothing to show it off. I may be too picky but I just don't think textured patterns show up well at all with variegated yarns. Doesn't Grumperina's version look better? Don't you want to knit a pair for yourself??? Well, needless to say, I did. Here, using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Bare on US2 needles, are some progress pictures.

First, a picture of the rib un-stretched - not so great, huh?

Now, a look at the sock stretched out:

Isn't that a pretty pattern? I am impressed. It is sooo simple but I still like it. The only modification I made was to use a right twist (RT) instead of the left twist. I find RTs way easier and faster than LTs.

This is the first project that I've started for myself in a while. I don't usually enjoy knitting for myself. First of all, there is absolutely no pressure to get the job done. Secondly, I feel a little selfish when someone asks me who I'm knitting for - it makes me want to make Me Projects at home in a dark corner. I confess - I officially have Gift Knitter's Guilt.

Several people have asked me how it's possible to knit and nurse. Briefly, you hold the baby in the cradle position with one arm, propping up her head in the crook of your arm. The arm holding the baby can really only hold onto the project and keep it steady. Any throwing or picking has to be done with the other hand. It's slower but still possible. Of course, cables, twists and colorwork are hard. So is working on DPNs - you just have to hold the knitting far enough from the baby that there's no danger of poking the little one with a needle.

Speaking of baby, I will leave you with more pics.