Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sven, Interrupted...

Confession is good for the knitting soul...right?

Here is Sven, brought up from the basement, after a lapse of maybe 12 years or more. I'm going to add him to the list of unfinished projects, and try to get him finished once and for all.
This cute pattern is from Cottage Creations. Carole Anderson doesn't appear to have a website, but if you google her company you can find plenty of vendors carrying her patterns. She has a whole series of these knitted people, and I think I have patterns for German dolls and Polish as well. But Sven came first, and so far, not so good.

Oh, the pattern is very well written, and I remember that I enjoyed getting as far as I got. For some reason, I just never got finished. He's been sitting in a box for years, first at my mom's house, and now at my own house, waiting to become a real boy. I do remember that for several years, the pattern and the project got separated from each other, so that was a good excuse. But poor one-legged Sven has been waiting patiently for way too long.

Hopefully I'll be sharing more of his knitting story with you, and we'll have one more finished project before too long! After all, I've owned up to it, so now I've just got to follow through. Don't read back to the beginning of the blog though, because there are even more recent projects (from last year), that still aren't finished!

Finally, I've noticed that the "k" key on my computer seems to not always function. A very bad key for a knitter to lose, don't you think? Could it be that I've worn this key out? Or could it be that there's just a huge wad of cat hair under there???

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Kitties Love Me!

Just look at the beautiful roses they gave me for Valentine's Day! They are gorgeous. Ok, yes, I had to buy them, but I know it's the kind of thing the cats would have done, if only they could have gotten to the store. Or had any money. They would have chosen roses, or catnip, or dead mice, or live mice...I'm sure.

Rollie is here with the flowers. He's getting ready to chomp on that piece of ferny stuff they put in with the roses. Rusty is already heading out of the photo - he had a bite of it already! And Lilly's just too small to jump way up on the table...

Seriously though, these blooms were a no brainer. The grocery store had 65 cases of roses delivered, and they were $3.00 for a half dozen. A pittance for something so lovely. I guess by now you can tell I'm a pushover when it comes to flowers!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Well, it Didn't Take Long...

…to find a new project to start! I had been thinking about making a shawl, and seeing some on the knitting blogs only helped that desire along. I made a simple shawl a few years ago, and sold it at a craft fair, so it is one piece of knitting that I don’t have for myself.

I’m not sure I’m the shawl type, but I guess if I had the right one, I could be. So I looked through my pattern books, and decided to make the Wool Peddler’s Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s “Folk Shawls”. The yarn I chose from the stash is a beautiful medium denim blue color of Kimmet Croft Softee, which is a blend of 80% Rambouillet wool and 20% angora. This yarn is lovely and supersoft, and I forgot how much I adore it. I bought it directly from Jan Kimmet during one of Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camps, so it’s been hanging around for at least ten years.

I was trying to remember if I’d purchased it with any particular garment in mind, and I think it must have been for a shawl, even way back then. Knitting Camp was a wonderful experience, and I attending during the years when Marilyn Van Keppel was working on translating the patterns from the Faroese Shawl book into English. I think she wore a different shawl every day, and during her portion of “show and tell” they came out one after another, each one more spectacular than its predecessor. It’s a wonder I didn’t start one right then and there!

I wound the first hank into a ball on Sunday, and that could have gone better. I put the hank on the swift, and clipped the threads that tied it together, but I guess I didn’t pick the right loose end to start winding with. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out which one to start with, sometimes it’s deceptive. Well, the strand I picked was caught around some other strands part way around the hank, so I couldn’t use the ball winder. I had to wind the ball by hand, and every time I got to the twisted section, feed the ball through and untangle it. It took a little longer this way, but the yarn is a joy to handle, so that made up for it. I got started with the knitting, and have a nice little triangle made already.

I added a stitch to each edge so I could make a slip-stitch selvedge. I plan on working a single crochet or perhaps an I-cord border across this edge when the shawl is done. Since it is the upper edge of the shawl and will probably get the most stress, I want to be sure it’s sturdy. Pictures by the weekend, I hope!

I worked on a rotation of six projects on Sunday evening, doing a few rows on each in turn. As I said, I really like everything I’m working on right now, so it was a pleasant evening. My next goal though, since I finished some booties last night, is to pull an older project into the rotation. I can’t keep working on new stuff all the time!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Another Accomplishment and Another Rule....

I just finished cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing it down, so I think I'm done with chores for the day! That job took a couple of hours and got me soaking wet, but it looks so sparkly in there now!

I finished this crocheted tote last night. The pattern is from the 2006 Crochet Pattern a Day Calendar, July 1, I think. The bag was supposed to be made with plastic store bags, but I didn't have very many, and wanted to use up this yarn anyway. I made the tote deeper than the pattern, again, because I was using up yarn. I like the way it turned out. It's just big enough for an average size project, or a few books, or a nice lunch! The yarn is Skacel Airone, a wool and acrylic blend.
My new rule is actually an old rule. Since I posted that list of uncompleted projects a few days ago, it's been bugging me. Especially because I found more projects that I could add to the list. Some from years and years ago. So my new rule is this: I need to complete two old projects before I can start a new project. I tried this a few years ago, and it worked pretty well for a few months, then everything went haywire.

I actually completed another project today, so I can start something, if I like! I finished knitting a ski hat from the Fall 2006 issue of Knit It - it was the cover cap. It turned out way too large, so now I'm going to try shrinking it to see if it will actually be an ok hat. Pictures will come later on in the shrinking process, although I should have taken one today, when it was soaking yet and covering my whole head down to my chin!

As for what new project to start, I'm not sure. I have one idea, but I don't think I'll start anything just yet. I'm liking all the projects I'm working on right now.

Finally here's a photo of Lilly and her pretty blue eyes....

Friday, February 09, 2007

Scarf in Progress

Here’s a project I started in December. I thought that maybe I’d make scarves for everyone for Christmas this year. In reality, I’m not sure if that’s going to happen. I have 15 people on my list to knit for, so that would be 1.25 scarves per month. Since it’s February, and I’m still knitting scarf #1, and want to be able to work on other projects, I might have to figure something else out.

I like this pattern, and I’m enjoying working on the scarf. I found the pattern here. The yarn I’m using is a mohair/acrylic blend coned yarn that I got from Webs a few years back. I’m using it double stranded on #3 needles. I was worried that the fluff of the mohair might obscure the lace pattern, and it does a bit, but I still like the look of it.
The photo is from the beginning of January. The scarf is 6 inches wide and about 3 feet long now, about halfway done. It’s going to have to be blocked, because at this length it’s started to fold over on itself, in spite of the added garter edging. It’s actually folding on the center of the lace pattern repeat, which is acting like a crease. I probably could have knit with only a single strand of this yarn, but I was worried that the knitting would be too loose. Now it seems a little too bulky. Did I swatch to check this out ahead of time? Of course not!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Holidays from the U.S. Postal Service!

Look what the Postal Service is doing for knitting! This year’s stamps have been unveiled, and the holiday series will feature knitting – four lovely designs. On close inspection, it looks like the color work is done by duplicate stitch, at least on one of the designs, because the stitches are going in both directions. But these are lovely! I’ll be stocking up on these stamps when they are issued, that’s for sure. Last year with the snowflake stamps, USPS had all kinds of extras available – note cards, ornaments, etc. It will be interesting to see what items they come up with to sell along with the knitting stamps. I’d better start saving my pennies!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stash Busting Report for January, 2007

January was an average month for completed projects. I made 13 items: 9 catnip toys, 2 tote bags, 1 pair of socks, and 1 watchcap.

This effort used up 18 balls of yarn. I know that part of the stash busting program is to also own up to the amount of stash. Well, that’s a bit difficult. What I have inventoried: 937 balls. Additional yarn not inventoried: probably another 500 balls. Coned yarn: approximately 150 cones. So you see, using up a puny 18 balls is not very significant. The key is not to add more yarn. I didn’t purchase any yarn in January, but a friend did gift me with four balls early in the month. I’m still ahead of the game though!

I should probably do more crochet, since crochet goes faster and uses more yarn. But I want to make projects that are useful, and not just make things that will sit around, just to use up stash. Anything I make should have a purpose – either to be used by me, given as a gift to someone, or as a saleable item.

I should get the looms threaded again too, and get busy weaving, because that uses lots of yarn as well. There is actually “waste yarn” involved in weaving – the lengths at the beginning and end of the warp that are attached to the loom’s front and back beams. These lengths can be several inches to over a foot long, depending on the loom. But even they can be used somehow, so I hate to toss them.

February is a short month, but I hope I can increase the number of balls used. I didn’t complete any old unfinished projects from ages ago, so if I can get some of those items done, I will accomplish two goals.

To that end, I will now list the current WIP’s, in order t make myself more accountable:

Scrap Afghan – knit, about half finished
Shapely Tee – knit, front piece half finished
Baby Afghan – knit, ¾ finished
Red Lace Runner – knit – maybe half finished
Woolease Child’s Cardigan – knit – only needs button band and buttons!
Rust/peach Mittens – knit - ¾ finished
Chenille Scarf – knit - half finished
Einstein Coat – knit – just started
Tote for Tote Exchange – knit – 1/3 finished
Fishtail Scarf – knit – half finished
Brown Tweed Socks – knit - one sock half knit
Brown/Gold/Black Baby Booties - knit – one bootie finished, second one started
Tote Bag – crochet – only three rounds left!
Fuchsia Baby Sweater – knit – working on the back.

I see I passed a baker’s dozen, so I’ll stop. These are the “current” projects. I’m sure I could start digging and find many older projects to add to the list.

Finally, Rollie says: “How inconsiderate of you to photograph me while I’m trying to perform my daily ablutions!”

Monday, February 05, 2007

Flowers in the Dead of Winter...

Do you know where that line comes from? Olivia Walton (Patricia Neal), in the original "Homecoming" movie, when John finally makes it home and brings her roses. It’s one of my Christmas "must watch" movies.

My winter flowers come from two splurges I made last year. If you haven’t noticed a theme developing in the blog this year, it’s this: I need to cut out all the non-essential expenses, buckle down, pay off the big bills, and put some money into the upkeep of the house. Another reason why I love the Waltons movie. The theme of poor people getting by on next to nothing appeals to me. I can relate. I didn’t grow up in a financially sound household, yet we got by. It taught me to be creative, if nothing else.
The first flowers are on an orange tree I purchased last summer. I got it at a local shop, and it sat outside most of the summer. When it bloomed in August, the scent came right in the house every time a breeze blew. The oranges developed, but stayed green. It bloomed again before I brought it inside for the winter. I’ve been watching the oranges get bigger, and turn orange, and then right after Christmas it bloomed for the third time. I took this picture in mid-January, when I had ripe oranges, green oranges, and blooms all at once. Although I paid more for this tree than I usually spend on a houseplant, it’s been worth it. I’ve even tasted the oranges, and although they are more sour than lemons, I’m going to use the rest of them mixed with some yogurt for a nice treat.

The other flower splurge was on this Amaryllis. I got it in November at La Crosse Floral, while I was at a used book sale. The bulbs were $15 each, or three for $40. I stopped myself from buying three, and picked out one. A little voice inside kept asking "Why do you need this, you can buy three bulbs for this price at the discount store. And how many bulbs do you already have at home? Work on getting them to bloom again." Even worse, I set the bulb aside when I got home, and didn’t pot it up until after Christmas. When I pulled it out it was very pale, and the bud was a little bent. I potted it and set it in the sun. Little by little it greened up, and spurted up. I still questioned my purchase, especially now that I’m cutting my spending. But on January 15 the first bloom opened, and all my doubts were put aside. Look how beautiful. Not just a single-petal bloom, but a triple- petal bloom. Just lovely. And, it’s taking some time to open, so I’m sure I’ll be enjoying this flower all winter long. Especially since there’s another bud poking up from the bulb!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bags Galore!

I joined the Third International Tote Exchange, which has just gotten underway. It’s funny how just by signing up, I was put in the mood to make bags. So even before I had a pal assigned to me, I got started. The first bag I knit was from a pattern I found here. I knew I had one ball of Kureyon rolling around, so I used it up making this bag. I changed the handle, although I like the braided handles on the pattern. I just wanted something a little simpler this time around. I’m still in the fulling process, so I don’t have a finished product to show.

The second bag was a crocheted mesh market bag. I’ve been wanting to make one of these, and one day when I was cleaning in the basement, I unearthed a pattern that I tore out of a 1980's Family Circle magazine. I pulled out a nice mercerised cotton from Lane Borgosesia in a muted green, and got going. The one thing I love about crochet - it’s so speedy. I finished the bag in three days. I changed the bottom shaping to make it less severe, and changed the strap, and although it doesn’t look like much, I really like it.
Last weekend our swap partners were assigned, and now I get to start all over and plan another bag. What fun!