Sunday, December 31, 2006

When forecasts are wrong

Today, we were supposed to get some snow mixed with rain. Somewhere around 2 PM, well after getting home from church, the annoying drizzle we've been getting the past plethora of hours was supposed to turn into sleet, and then snow. And maybe, if the forecast was correct, we'd get 1-3 inches of the white stuff before it melted tomorrow.
Around 10:00, it started to snow. It hasn't stopped yet. The trip home from church wasn't treacherous ... but we did travel at about half speed most of the way, and were glad we knew where the roads were. Our plans for tonight changed somewhat -- rather than go to the church New Year's Eve Party this evening and leaving our son there with a friend for a sleepover, and picking him up tomorrow morning at a New Year's Breakfast, we will instead stay put and keep said friend until such time as it's a wise idea to be out on the road.

The latest forecast calls for 6-10 inches. It's been a lovely afternoon for building snow forts, consuming hot cocoa, and looking out the window at a world which is not a dull brown.

My 'boring' projects are finished ... once again, nothing on the needles. Should I make it a tradition to have all my projects completed before I go to bed on New Year's Eve? Excepting, of course, the projects I don't want to count, like the leftover Rambling Road afghan that's been in a bag for a few years at my mom's house, in case I got stranded there with nothing to knit, and a certain quilt that's been languishing for not nearly that long? (although I do plan to finish the quilt in the coming year.)

First, we have the Doodle Doily.

This was made on size 2 needles, over 62 stitches, with a sampler pattern from Heirloom Knitting, and an old ball of Knit-Cro-Sheen that I happened to have laying around. I'd really like to know how old the yarn is ... the label said only J. P. Coats, Knit Cro Sheen, Boilfast. No color, no price, no nothing else. Another ball I have of probably the same vintage is a size 30 Clark Big Ball - for 29 cents. That's the printed price, not what I got it for. How long has it been since a Big Ball of size 30 cotton went for 29 cents? They look to be $2.19 now.

In any case, I cast on 62, knit for a while, then worked the Doris Edging around the rectangle, and grafted the edges together. I ran out of thread, but wouldn't you know, I happened to have some unlabelled thread of about the same size, so was able to finish it. It's blocking now, and I'll see tomorrow if it needs starching as well. I think I like it ... so now, to plot and plan the shawl!

The Leftover Sock Yarn Coast Project

I've gotten four coasters made (KnitPicks Simple Stripes in Vineyard, and Essential in Burgundy), and have just a few yards left of burgundy. What really surprised me is that the stripes lined up so nicely. I did not plan it in the least ... and probably will never repeat it. The coasters are a titch small, so I'm going to use a larger needle on the next set. Haven't made up my mind about fringing them yet either.

Today would be the perfect day to make a list of projects for the coming year, but it probably won't get done. I do know that I will be making a shawl (or several) from Victorian Lace Today, a sweater from a Green Mountain Spinnery book using Peace Fleece, and something akin to the Unst Lace Stole from Heirloom Knitting. It feels like 2007 might be a year of the shawl. Or maybe it will be the year of the S's. Socks, Shawls, Sweaters, and Stoles?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Third Day of Christmas

was full, with doctors for mom, therapists for daughter, music practice for me ... and several hours of playing with friends for son. And after all that, we had to sneak in a library run to get a new batch of books. I'm not sure if all the Christmas books are read, but still, we can never pass up a library.

The Booga Bags are finished drying, and I've put the smaller one into service. It looks ... well ... rather like a Booga Bag. I am very glad that I had 15 mm needles handy, since I really doubt I would have been able to work the I-cord through anything smaller. If you are thinking of making the Booga out of bulky yarn instead of worsted, consider also using 4 stitches for your I-cord instead of 5. My current projects on the needles are rather boring ... a coaster (3 of 4) using leftover sock yarn and a lace swatch for a nightstand, using some leftover bedspread cotton. While I'm not joining Knit From Your Stash 2007, I am going to try and decrease the volume required for leftover sock yarn storage. I also hope to make some dresser scarves and such-like, and since I have fine cotton hanging around, I will probably use that.

In lieu of photos of non-fascinating project photos, I have some dog photos. Here, you have a cuddly widdle puppy dog expressing his displeasure at having a mob cap placed on his recumbent form.
And here, you have a photo which, once again, missed the pose with both legs stretched out. When we got him from the shelter, his name was Taffy. I think his stretching ability must have been what inspired the name. He'll crawl along at full stretch as fast as I can walk ... and it must be a great way to get a tummy rub. Is this common to terriers, I wonder?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And the second day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, I knit. And on the second day of Christmas, I uploaded photos of what I knit.
But long before Christmas, I was stealth knitting, stealth designing, and stealth correcting. I'd set up a lovely pattern for my son's gansey. All was going along quite well for the first 50 rows, and then I took a good look at it. I realized that one side of the diamond pattern had 1 plain knit stitch, and the other side, because of its adjacency to another pattern, had 3 plain knit stitches. I stopped, contemplated, and decided it was time for a mid-course correction.
Doesn't that look mid-course-correctiony? I ran back 2 stitches of stockinette, and reworked them to match the garter pattern on their left. If you look carefully, you can see the three stitches next to the diamonds at the left edge that are next in my sights to fix.

I am *so glad* that I stayed up late to fix both sides. It would have taken great fortitude to pick the sweater up the next day and continue correcting. There must be some anesthetic quality to shock which allows people to rework large amounts of mis-knit material on the same day the error is identified. I also had to fix the back when I got around to it, but that was only 15 rows or so.

It wasn't until I started working on the shoulders that I realized I'd mis-knit / mis-remembered the diamond pattern I had planned to use. I did not go back and revamp those, however. They were diamonds, they looked good ... and if they didn't match what I had on my graph paper, I'd just throw away the graph paper and keep the sweater.

The finished product came out quite nicely...
The garter collar didn't behave like I wanted it to, but the recipient is happy, the sweater fits, and the initials at the lower right corner of the sweater were a nice touch. He likes the matching socks too ... they keep his toesies warm.

Today is a reading and crafting day around here. And a day to continue writing an answer key. Merry 2nd day after Christmas, all!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The First Day of Christmas

For Theresa, who wanted to see the Harebell Lace Fichu ... here 'tis. The pattern worked out wonderfully. There were a few places where pen and paper were handy to keep tabs on how to do which kind of join, and working a sample of the lace was invaluable in figuring out the method behind the madness (and also decipher the chart symbols, since I didn't have the entire book to work from at the time). I used Schafer yarns in Anne and have a good chunk of the skein left. I'll have to weigh it and see if there's enough for a second fichu.

And here's the socks in Claudia's Handpainted Yarns, colorway John B, lace pattern Field of Flowers (mis-remembered) from Heirloom Kniting. I love how the yarn striping worked in the stockinette portion.

Right now, on my needles, I have a facecloth (aka washcloth, but can you really call a lace concoction a washcloth?) in white dishcloth cotton. It's my second of the day, using stitch pattens from my New Barbara Walker Treasury (4 vols plus Mosaic Knitting!).

My semiBooga Bags are drying in the window now. I couldn't use the silver yarn needle to weave in the ends, because it had stayed in a crevice in the couch at my mom's house. The side effect of this minor travesty was that I discovered that using a Fine Quality Tool can make an otherwise unpleasant task more palatable. Pity I couldn't use it last night with all those ends. The bags felted up nicely, and are perched over 3 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica (the large bag) and 8 volumes of Elsie Dinsmore (the small bag). The books are, of course, covered in plastic.

Coming tomorrow ... Stealth Project #3 photos!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Today is the long-awaited Christmas day. Secret knitting and sewing can now be revealed. (It all got done, too.) But before it was revealed to those most intimately concerned with it, we went to church for a lovely service of Song, Scripture reading, and a sermon. I could sing all day on Christmas, I think.

Stockings came before the service, however. Both my children got fountain pens in their stockings. One pen got left at my mom's house, and one child learned the hard way not to put your finger on the nib while writing .. but so far, so good! I'm almost finished with my second cartridge, and am still not sure what color(s) ink to get next.

My first stealth knitting project was the Aran Rose Sweater from Interweave Knits (the same one with the Trellis Scarf in it. That was a good issue) My gauge swatch, dutifully done, perfectly matched what the pattern called for. The finished sweater did absolutely NOT match the dimensions given in the pattern. Gauge somehow changed drastically (drastically, drastically, drastically ... did I mention drastically?) and instead of being 30" at the chest, was 26". I also had an extra 20 rows of center pattern to get the requisite length. When you read to measure your gauge as you work along, they're not kidding. I decided that the sweater needed a good blocking, and that I'd give it one after Christmas. The neck, somehow, strangely enough, is loose compared to the rest of the sweater ... but my daughter vehemently protested my offer to redo the neck, and likes the fit as is, so all is well.

I snuck in a fourth Stealth Knitting Project before Christmas, for my mom. She got me some lovely hand-dyed yarn to make the Harebell Lace Fichu from Victorian Lace Today, and promised to get me the book for Christmas. I got permission to make a copy of the pattern, and an obliging friend (Thanks!) sent it to me, so I was able to present the fichu to mom today, finished, before I even got the book. The patterns in it are *fabulous* and I am looking forward to seriously reading through the book and making a few things from it in the coming year.

While I wasn't Stealth Knitting, I knit a facecloth using dishcloth cotton and the Bead Lozenge Centre Pattern from Heirloom Lace Knitting. My crochet edging is atrocious, but I do like the lace. Swatching lace into facecloths could be a fun hobby. It doesn't tell you beans about gauge for a laceweight shawl, but it helps you learn the pattern, is worked in yarn that's easily visible, and there's a handy use for it.

Once again, I don't have anything on the needles. I do have two bags to felt, and one cord to make. Right now, though, I think I'll go weave in some ends with my new Sterling Silver Yarn Needle from Celtic Swan Forge. What a delightful surprise that was! (Thank you, stealth gifter!)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas checklist

  1. Take bag of finished Christmas goodies to church on Sunday and plop it into mom's car so she can wrap them in the afternoon before we get there.
  2. Show up at Mom's house (aka Grandma's house, which is over the river and through the woods) after Christmas Eve Service.
Okay, there is a smidge more than this on my checklist. Feeding my family between now and Christmas eve, wiping the dog's feet when he comes in, practicing harp ...

The sewing is done. The knitting is done. The quilt shall remain buried wherever it has been buried since I moved into my current craft room. I have, essentially, two days to doodle knit. Or perchance ... not knit? What would happen if I didn't get something on the needles in the next 2 hours? Would they atrophy?

You've read about my stealth knitting. In the same vein, I got a stealth package this week. I wasn't expecting it. It didn't even come with a name. It came with a return address of Celtic Swan Forge, however, and may I say how much I am looking forward to opening the package? My mom was sweet and opened the package for me to discover the sender (I guessed right, at least, once I found out it wasn't from my mom) and has since rewrapped it so I won't know which particular package under the tree (or in the port-a-crib, to preserve it from the frolics of the household canines) contains the ?????????? from Celtic Swan.

Thank you, O Stealth Package Sender!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The end has arrived!

By dint of diligent hard work, unrelenting dedication to knitting after everyone else's bedtime, and the careful snatching of moments when the right set of eyes was not present, I have finished my Christmas knitting.

And it's not even Christmas week yet.

This is good, because I haven't even started my Christmas sewing yet. Christmas sewing cutting-out, yes. That's 3/4ths done. But the sewing has yet to take place. Theoretically it's a quick and easy pattern, but it still needs to get actually done. What I'd really love is to have a sewing fairy come keep me company (and hostage) in my craft room while I finish off both my Christmas sewing and a quilt top that's been waiting to be finished since I-won't-mention-when.

Sewing doesn't really occupy a large part of my thoughts, however. Knitting (among other things) does. This week I'll be working on socks in a sport weight yarn (48 stitches around instead of 60 ... wheee!) and other small projects. There is absolutely no point in starting something large the week before Christmas. Part of the joy of finding out what delight my mom got me is the ability to start knitting from it or with it immediately, and if I have something on the needles, the ability is not there. So ... small stuff.

And that reminds me of knitting from one's stash. Wendy of WendyKnits! and some others are participating in a Knit From Your Stash 2007. I would love to do this, but I'm not sure my stash is really a stash. My stash is composed of left-overs, with a few small exceptions. They are
  1. Two, non-matching skeins of Koigu, purchased under the misimpression that they'd be enough for a pair of colorwork socks.
  2. KnitPicks Palette sampler (with several partial skeins)
  3. KnitPicks Merino Style sampler (with a few partial skeins)
  4. KnitPicks Shadow Sampler (with four partial skeins)
I have leftover sock yarn (and what, besides log cabin stuff, can one make with perhaps 30 skeins of 100 yards of sock yarn?), leftover acrylic (which is wandering towards my daughter's stash, and I don't miss it one bit), leftover yarn from someone else's stash, 20 yards of leftover Noro Silk Garden, bits and pieces of this and that ....

It really and truly sounds like some people have stashes composed of yarn they bought for particular projects, and then never made them. Yarn, in sufficient quantity, to knit a sweater, or a shawl, or a hat, without cobbling together various brands, fiber types, gauges, and colors. Can this be true?

Six days left to Christmas, and there is no snow on the ground. There are icicles in the upcoming forecast, so not all hope is lost.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The end is in sight ....

The title carries a two-fold truth. Firstly, the end of a skein of yarn is scant yards away from my needles. Come to think of it, both projects on needles are near skeins' end. (That would be a good name for a yarn store. Skeins' End. Maybe in Hobbiton?) And for the other truth, I've got roughly 1500 stitches and a neck left on my stealth project. There's a whoe 7 days to do that in. One day for the 1500 stitches, and who knows what for the neck. I haven't designed it yet, but I have a vague idea how I will go about it.

I have had a most wonderful time sending Christmas cards out this year ... any opportunity to use a fountain pen! I also got some new address labels with a yarn logo on them. But how dense can I be? I forgot to include my mailing address on the labels. Still, that's not the company's fault, and the labels are quite lovely. At $2 a sheet ($2.25 if you choose colored ink for your address info) and 60 labels a sheet, the price is right. They asked me to tell others about them ... and so I shall. Superior Labels operates just across the river from Moline, IL, where I lived many long years ago, before the levy. Nice labels, quick service, excellent price.

I heard a new word today on TV while my dh and ds were watching a college basketball game. The announcer used the word "Cokeness" in a Coca-cola advertisement. I looked askance at the television, and quietly marveled at the state of advertising in the world today. The following advertisement was for Bod-Man, and although no new words were coined, the wording of the advertisement made me wish to avoid the product, and any users of the product. But why I bring this up is what the announcer said after he finished reading the text of the second commercial. It was precious.

You know, sometimes your dignity gets challenged on this job.

My husband and I looked at each other. Dh commented, "You're looking at me as if you think you heard what I thought I heard." Never has my opinion of sports announcers been so high. As a rule, I don't have much of an opinion about them. Since my grasp of the finer points of the game is debatable ("Mom! Do you know why the Flyers won?" "Because they had more points than the other team at the final buzzer?") my few opinions are formed not on their competence, but on their graciousness to teams that are blowing it, and lack of profanity. But today ... to hear one comment on challenges to his dignity, on the air, right after some less-than-classic ads ... and to comment so politely ... it was a delight. And a pleasure.

It was also a good excuse to use my fountain pen.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And the snow lay on the ground

The snow lays thinly, but it does indeed lay. Today is St. Nicholas' Day, which means it's the day we get out our artificial tree (a concession to allergies) and decorate it and the house. My children are the chief decorators, and we have a lovely living room at the moment. A harp really adds a nice touch to a Christmas tree, did you know? Maybe I can find some ribbon to artfully drape over it.

A bug, or bugs, are making their way through the small fry in the family as well. Without going into unnecessary details, it can be said that I stayed home on Sunday with one, and was quite close to staying home with the other tonight. When the latter was told that, were he to stay home, he still could not keep close tabs on the Dayton-Creighton basketball game, he determined to go, and hopefully keep a low profile.

I have been knitting, of course, but have no photos because I am still doing Stealth Knitting. If all goes well, I can reasonably complete my projects in time to wrap them. I'm not so sure about blocking, but the wrapping part should be ... dare I say... a wrap.

One of the reasons Christmas is a special time of the year - beyond the very obvious fact that we celebrate Christ's birth, and where would I be without Christ? - is that I hear and read about some very nifty things. From the e-mails of one person, in particular, have some gems of presents come this year and last year. (Yes, this year. It's a rule that if I get something for myself, I don't have to wait for Christmas to open it.) Last year was Adagio Teas and this year it's Pendemonium. I've also learned there are several other tea vendors that ladies on my homeschool list frequent, and SpecialTea's Mocha Spice is loudly calling my name (to no avail, thus far), but last Christmas, it was Adagio Tea that I got a teapot and some yummy teas from. This year, I ordered a fountain pen from Pendemonium, and have been having a wonderful time with it. Me, with my left handed hook, can use a fountain pen without scratching, smudging, or other terrible scriptatorial events. I am looking forward to using up the ink cartridges I ordered with the pen, and trying some other colors. I am also enjoying writing ... and to that end, addressed, by hand, all our Christmas cards. I'm also hunting for things to write in my commonplace book, just for the delight of using the pen. I did draw the line at recopying an entire section of Waverly's third chapter, however.

I've never read Waverly before, but I got brave a few years back and read Ivanhoe. Much to my surprise, it was a readable novel. Waverly has been sitting on my shelf, and I decided it would be good fodder to read while sitting next to a sick child. I'm not that far into it, but chapter 3 intrigued me. So did the General Introduction, followed by the Introduction, followed by another Introduction, followed by the Preface to the Third Edition, followed by Chapter I - Introductory. (Actually, that part just tickled my fancy. Chapter 3 was the intriguing part.) It's a bit too long to append here, but if you'd like to read some comments on education in 1805, follow the link. The second paragraph is the portion at risk of finding its way into my commonplace book.

I also found a "Which character in Princess Bride are You?" quiz, which delighted myself and my son. My daughter was not entirely pleased to be Westley, and my dear husband did not show any emotion upon hearing himself pronounced Buttercup.

On the other hand, I think Valerie suits me perfectly. She probably had some knitting needles back there in a corner of the shop.