Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Knitting New Year

In 2008, I knit:

1 sweater (Ravelry link)
8 pair of socks
8 scarves
1 major lace piece
1 pair of mittens
1 hat

Production really took a dive this year. I blame it on the major sweater, employment, and general laziness. Time spent on Ravelry had nothing to do with it. (uh huh)

My 2009 knitting resolutions (goals):
2 sweaters
12 pair of socks
1 major lace piece
assorted other stuff as the whim strikes

The one things I really achieved in 2008 was widening my circle of knitting friends to include more local friends. I'm really happy I've gotten to know Janice, Diane, Sandra, and many others.

I enjoy knitting things for others and I've got a few things up my sleeve for that, but I want to make sure this year I do some selfish knitting, meaning keep a few things. (Don't worry Tracy, there'll be plenty for you to claim). I've got a major knit brewing for Grace, and I'm due to start a sweater for myself soon (hurry Priority Mail!!).

Here's hoping the new year will be a productive one, full of projects, yarn, and lots of friends. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Filling in the Blanks

I got the idea for the sweater I knit Mom for Christmas way back when I saw the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting. A Kaffe Fassett floral cardigan, fitted with 3/4 length sleeves. It was made from Rowan Pure Wool DK.

I started to look around for the yarn. Not available in Fresno at the time, so I looked around on the internet, and found some of the 8 colors at one place, some at another. I ordered what I could, but I couldn't find the background color, shamrock, and two of the others. Article Pract in Oakland would order it for me, but then I'd have to ship it here. I didn't want to switch yarns, because part of the appeal was the interplay of the colors, and I didn't want to mess that up.

Then Swatches opened, and Fran carried Rowan! I quickly made my way there and she had black in stock that I could use as the blackground (better than Shamrock's goofy green anyway) and she could order the other colors. She initially forgot to place the order, but after two weeks it was placed, and took another week or so to arrive.

That took me to October. Still plenty of time, right? Meanwhile, I was looking at the pattern, and decided that a wool cardigan that clearly was outerwear should not have 3/4 length sleeves. Oh, I can do that, no sweat. And didn't really want it fitted, looser fit better. Okay, no problem. The rest would be easy. Just follow the pattern.

Then the yarn came and I started to swatch. I've done color work before, mittens, socks, no problem. Flat colorwork, with color changes every row, sometimes with more than two colors a row? Purling with two colors was complicated, and you couldn't see if you were going according to the pattern. Hmm, what if I knit it in the round, and steeked the front? Never done that before, but it might be easier....

So I did all the math and wrapped my brain around connecting the pieces and knit it as a single tube. I looked up and read all the steek info I could find on ravelry and the internet, and plunged ahead. It went fine, until the armholes, when I had to once again think it through, and the same with the neckline. Meg from Ancient Pathways gave her advice, and I was cheered on by Janice, Tracy, Diane, and several in-progress comments from Ravelry people, some I knew, and some I didn't.

I sewed and cut the steeks on December 15. That part was fun, kind of like daredevil knitting. I trust my sewing machine, so I really wasn't scared, and it was fun to see it start to resemble a sweater. I knit the bands on the fronts and neck, sewed up the hems, and meanwhile, had to figure out the sleeves.

Time was running out, and Janice suggested doing the sleeves solid black. Splendid idea, except I knew I didn't have enough black yarn for that. Quickly ordered more, priority mail (love priority mail-- 4 days from New Hampshire!) and decided to do a band of pattern at the cuffs, which I had to do more math to lengthen. A little marathon knitting, and on December 23, the sleeves were sewn in and it was done!!

A date with the steam iron, and we have a sweater folks!

Here's what I learned--
*steeks-front, armhole, neckline
*converting from flat to round (both body of sweater and sleeves)
*how to lengthen sleeves based on arm measurements (mine), row gauge, and a bunch of math
*pick up stitches and knit front bands
*Jingle Bell stitch markers are festive, but noisy in some emergency knitting places
*A pattern is only a suggestion
*Kaffe Fassett probably did not knit this sweater or he would have done it my way
*Start Christmas knitting earlier

Would I do it again? Maybe. It turned out nicely when all was said and done. It was dicey at times, but isn't all Christmas deadline knitting?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Quick note before the craziness of Christmas Morning starts (9 minutes from now):

Mom loved her gift-
Carey loved hers - a scarf but no photo yet

Hopefully Jean got hers too - I'll keep that quiet for a little longer.

I'll do a major post about the cardigan, I've been silent and it's been driving me crazy. It was my most wild "adventure in yarn" up to this point, so stay tuned.

Until then, Merry Christmas! May the peace of Christ be with you all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Computer Safety

Hello, it's me...the kinda-sorta tech girl of the blog. Emily's the name, in case you forgot.

Now normally I don't post on my mother's blog, except on occasion, like when I'm alerting you all of a new overhead banner. Which, by the way, looks rather festive, don't you think? I admit it's not my best work; it was a...rushed project. Yeah, that's it. Anyway, I stumbled across something interesting and I feel like I should share it with you. So I will.

Earlier this fine Tuesday, a major bug was found in Internet Explorer.
It affects all versions, even the shiny new IE8 (Internet Explorer 8). To generalize, this little hole in the system allows criminals to steal your passwords and take over your computer. Which is not peoples' idea of a fun time. Microsoft is working on fixing it, but basically, you're at risk. Internet Explorer is one of the biggest browsers used today. Even Microsoft admitted it!

If you do use Internet Explorer, switch to another browser. Even before this bug, IE has been a pretty sorry excuse for a browser. If you've ever had to sit through a dozen "Not Responding" windows, you know what I mean. Personally, I find IE to be a drag, but yet I've been using it for ages. I think everyone's just so accustomed to it that they're frightened of trying out another program. I can imagine you right now, sitting there, fretting. All your passwords! All your bookmarks! Your homepages! Yes, it is a tedious thing, changing browsers. BUT IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Right now I'm on Firefox. Firefox is great. End of story. Nah, not the end of story. I still have to rant on why it's so great! :)

  • This bug is not found on Firefox.
  • Firefox is compatible with just about anything and everything Internet Explorer is. This means you can still download your toolbars! Yay toolbars!
  • Automatic spell checking. This is right up there with sliced bread.
  • Built-in pop-up blocker
  • Most importantly, Firefox is SO. MUCH. FASTER.
Seriously, I think you could spend days waiting for Internet Explorer to boot up. And have you ever noticed that when you open several tabs in a window, it gets even slower? I certainly have. So please, for your computer's health and your own mental health, download Mozilla Firefox.

Download it here. It's free! (And no, I'm not secretly working for Mozilla. I'm just a supporter.) Thank you for reading my small but informational piece of writing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Cookies

Gram and Grace got together the day before Thanksgiving and made some cookies to bring to the family feast. Grace was really looking forward to this "Gram time" and she loves making cookies, so she had a blast. The cookies were cute too.

Note the perfect aprons - Cookie Maker and Cookie Taster, which defines their talents nicely. Fun!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Invisible Knitter

Hello blogland,

Yes, I have been absent from the blog. And not because I don't WANT to tell you what I'm doing, I just can't. Yet. As you may have noticed, it is high season for Christmas knitting, and I wouldn't want to spoil any surprises.
So here are a few teasers-

That's it. Sorry. More will be revealed in good time. (Note to self - knit faster).
In other news, I am mourning the loss of a nice yarn store (LYS to us yarn types). Knitter's Haven was not my personal Local Yarn Store, but was a store I liked to visit when I made it to Visalia, which was every few months or so. Ellen had a nice selection, and she was friendly to us Northerners.
She had been thinking of closing for awhile now, and I think the dismal economy just made her decision easier. She will close next week, and she has been having her final sale for a month now. Janice, Tracy, Diane, and I went a few weeks ago and I got some Baby Ull to make some mini-mittens for an Advent calendar idea I have. While the mittens are cute, I don't think I have time to finish the Advent idea, at least not this year. Stay tuned.

I like the yarn so much, however, that Carey, Mom, and I made our way there yesterday to get some more before it was gone forever. Thanks Ellen!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm so published...

OK, so like, in the real world, I'm published all the time. Having a day job at a newspaper sorta takes the glam out of the experience of seeing your name in print. But, this week, it is something altogether different. I'm published. Yep. Little 'ol me.

It is Tracy's fault.

Go back in time about a year and sweet Tracy made me a stack of personal business cards. She also made some for Cindy and NolaMom. She went to this great Web site,, and created a little miniature version of me. The site -- which you've simply got to check out -- is a great excuse to play paper dolls, all electroinc like, as a grown up. You can send e-cards, make stuff to print out or buy notepads and other cool stuff. The best part about it is that money raised on the site helps fund the Gal Foundation, a nonprofit org. that grants wishes to Stage IV breast cancer patients and their families. So, Tracy gave me these cards and I checked out the site and became hooked. A few months ago I entered a contest to make your "gal" and send in a quote you live by. And I was named a winner!

The quotes and gals are being used in a 2009 planner by Franklin Covey, who will give a portion of the sales of the calendar to the Gal Foundation. My gal and my quote are in there alongside such celebrities as Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Up Daisies), Marg Helgenberger (CSI) and the most impresssive, Maxine Clark, the founder of Build-A-Bear. How cool is that?

Thanks Tracy!

By the way... my quote: Things fall apart so things can fall together.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Two socks are better than one

Pumpkin socks are in the books.

They turned out really nice. Love the pattern, so easy, and love the yarn, so pretty.

Grace was a witch this year. Emily reprised the pirate look and Alex apparently went as a teenager. Trick-or-treating was at Lori's house this year, a change of pace for us that was a fun twist to the evening. Note: Bella does not make a good trick or treat companion.

Now on to November's first major event: Emily turns 15 today! Happy birthday my eldest child. We are proud of you and we love you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hedgehogs and Pumpkins

We had to get a little more fiber in our diets, Tracy, and I, so we persuaded fiber goddess Janice to come over with the giant bag o'fluff, and her scary-looking felting needles, and we got down and dirty with the poking and created the cutest little things.

Aren't they adorable? I made the pumpkin (at least I'm moving away from the candy corn theme I had going the last few weeks) and Tracy was obsessed with making a little hedgehog creature. They both turned out great I think.

I'm now wondering what else I can do. I'm thinking a little bowl of 3D hearts for Valentine's Day?

It really wasn't hard, and is rather addictive.

We enjoyed welcoming Janice into the Naughty Knitters Wednesday morning group. We may even be persuading Tracy to do something other than a scarf again. And Lisa and Nolamom are booking on their second socks. Lots of progress even though there were pastries involved.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Words on Mittens, Pumpkins on Socks

I finished my Prayer Mittens! Yay me! (too much Disney Channel) Now I can move on to the next in my mental list of things I gotta knit. Xmas knitting is on agenda, as is the felted purse I saw in Interweave Felt. First I have to wind the 6 skeins of yarn....

I'm also working on my little pumpkin socks. This pattern is so easy that I can knit it without the pattern, so it is the perfect take along project. It has gone everywhere too. Lots of waiting opportunitites. I am very close to the heel flap, this photo is a few days old. I LOVE this yarn. This is Janice's French 75 yarn in "pumpkinhead" and the colors are so deliciously fall I am enjoying knitting this sock tremendously!!

In other news, yesterday was a day off of school that we ALL had off. Except Maurice, who was busy breaking his finger at the gym (ow). Since the fair ended Monday, and Disneyland wasn't in the picture, we ended up going up to the pumpkin patch and the movies.
The scarecrows were more realistic than the talking chihuahuas.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Felting Frenzy

Good Things this month was my turn. I had been requested to do a felting project, so I came up with three things to keep us busy.
I had played with felting soap with Mom, Carey, and Tracy, and I knew Janice was a pro at it so I wanted to do that with the group. I think we all enjoyed it, but none so much as Grace, who barely let Janice come up for air while trying to use every color of fiber we had (and we had lots).

Carolyn liked taking her agressions out on a bar of soap! Chrissy made a fall color soap, I made a candy corn-inspired soap, and Carolyn did a funky pink and purple soap. Carey of course, got complicated and made a cute one like a pumpkin. She'll have to show you the photo (hint hint).

We also had a regular felt gift card holder for fall that was shaped like a candy corn, but could be adapted to a Christmas tree, heart, wedding cake, just using simple shapes and blanket stitching and embroidery. I liked that one, but some of us are more needle-friendly than others. Speaking of which, Janice brought her needle felting needles and I didn't even have to visit the ER. Yay!

The last project we did was a cute little felt peony that I saw on It was so simple since the template was available for download, and it took literally 2 stitches to hold the entire thing together. Tracy did hers out of purple felt and put some yellow french knots on it, and it was a beautiful violet. I really liked this. Cute and simple. Perfect.

I was excited to get the Good Things gals together with Janice, she is so talented I had to show her off to the group. I think we all had fun. We each came away with something different, but we got a chance to play around with lots of different things. A good thing!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mittens and Socks

My Jared mittens haven't been going well. I find the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light to be VERY splitty and the alpaca fuzziness really obscures the pattern. I've decided they need a trip to the 'ole frog pond, and I will start again with some nice smooth Dream In Color Smooshy in a nice shaded solid brown.

But that is on hold while I work on other mittens. I have actually been planning these for some time - I had my friend Angela dye the yarn and I had to do the chart for them on the computer and get it all set up. They are the Poetry Mittens from Piecework Magazine. Instead of the poem the article used I put the Hail Mary prayer on them. They are for my daughter's teacher for Christmas. This year my daughter has her First Communion and she has a very special teacher, so I wanted to do something nice.

The first one is done - and it is going pretty well. They seem very long, but they do fit my hand quite nicely. Hopefully she doesn't have tiny hands.

I've got another First Communion project brewing in my mind. I'm thinking of knitting a lace veil for Grace to wear. I have been looking on Ravelry and found two different examples, one which uses a pattern from the Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting by Marianne Kinzel. I think I'm going to combine the cross panel of that one with some other lace patterns and create something new.

I did finish my Navajo socks too. They went off to be sold at the silent auction at Emily's school. I did get two new skeins of sock yarn from Janice of French 75 fame and I will turn one of them into the little pumpkins socks I saw on Ravelry. Those will be my halloween socks.
This is the time of year where I start my stealth knitting so I will give peeks here but not many details. My gift receivers aren't on Ravelry, so details will probably go there. I spend a lot of time favoriting and queuing over there, and I am starting to lose track of what my real "queue" of items I have to make is. There is the "want to make it queue" and the "someday I'll make this" queue. Wonder if everyone has that problem?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I started a new Jared Flood pattern - Druid (Green Autumn) mittens from Vogue Knitting. Lots of cables, bobbles, interesting stitch patterns. Just love his patterns, as you may have noticed. I'm using Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in a nice chocolate brown that matches my Celtic Cable Neckwarmer of not long ago. The only problem thus far is the alpaca is fuzzy and obscuring the pattern goodness. I don't want to stop and change yarn, but I may want to make this pattern again out of something that will show off the pattern more.

I am also making a pair of plain socks, just 'cus. These are out of True Love Fiber, in the Navajo colorway. It is striping nicely, and I like the red/turquoise combination. These I'm planning to donate to Emily's school's silent auction. I donated a pair of socks last year and they asked me again, so here I go.

I got the new Debbie Bliss magazine, and it is NICE. Then the new Knitty for fall was up, and there were lots of nice patterns there. Then I got the Interweave FELT issue, and there is this stripey purse....I'm suffering from too many patterns, not enough time syndrome. This week has been crazy busy and the knitting time is taking a huge hit. Sigh.

The Stitches West 09 brochure is up at their website, and I'm all decided on what I want to sign up for. Last year I took the "heavy hitters" meaning Cat Bordhi and Lucy Neatby, and this year I seem to be more interested in the techniques classes, like short rows, and cables, and finishing, and stitch patterns. Nicky Epstein is going to be there, and maybe I can get into one of her classes. The one on knitted edges and flowers looked fun. Registration is Wednesday morning. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Felted Soap and Juno Regina Revealed

I finished my Juno Regina for the Ravelympics WIP Wrestling, and it was like a wrestling match getting me to buckle down and do it. I was wishing I could move onto something more exciting even though I did enjoy working with the silk yarn and the color was lovely. I did hang in there and finish, but crazy schedules of this past week didn't permit me to properly block and photograph it once it was done.

Anyway, here it is! Blocking sure makes beautiful lace even more beautiful. Make sure to notice Vladimar in the background playing piano.

On another note, no pun intended, a few weeks ago Tracy, Carey, Mom, and I got together to try out another craft project for a potential project for our Good Things group. We covered soap with wool and felted it, making a little "sweater" for a bar of soap. It turns the soap into a combination soap/scrubbie, and when the soap is gone, it is a fragrant little sachet for your drawer.

I used a sampler pack of colorful fibers dyed by Angela of True Love Fiber, and we wrapped the bars, added a little hot water, and put the covered bar into a kneehigh nylon stocking, and then rubbed, rubbed, rubbed. Not long after, the wool had felted and voila! it was done.

Here are two of the bars, my first attempts. I did others, and Carey took photos, but they never seemed to make it on the blog (HINT HINT SISTER). It was a fun and easy project. Some of the felted soaps on Etsy are quite complicated looking, but ours were just our trial runs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Internet is a fun place to be

I've been exploring lately. Here are a few Internet gems you've just got to try.

If you want to create a word search you can print out, check out Now that you've made yours, just what do you do with it? Check this out:

If you want a giggle... trust me, I laughed until I cried. Check out I really liked the section to the right called fan favorites.

And, in honor of Emily taking biology this year, I bring to you this. For just $4, you can get the pattern to create a knitted dissected lab rat. You must see this to believe it.

I Peaked Early

I was a 4-Her as a kid. I learned to sew, cake decorate, do all sorts of crafty things (except knitting, which now that I think of it, was a major hole in my crafty education at the time).

I entered lots of those things in the various fairs held all around the valley and even the State Fair. I won lots of ribbons (you always got either a first, second, or third unless your project was dreadful) and I saved them in a shoe box that I covered with a pretty paper and kept them in the closet of my room.

When I got married and moved away from home, they disappeared. I didn't have them, and Mom swore she didn't have them. We looked for them lots of times over the years, but I had pretty much given up hope.

Well, you can see where this is going. Found! Not at my house either! Ha! But all gloating aside, I was glad they were found. And what I discovered as I went through them is that for once, I may have actually impressed my very hard to impress children! Wow. Who knew their mother actually did all that?

And, look what else I found- you're seeing that correctly, SECOND place in TRACK - long jump no less. Who knew of my athletic potential. Not me, I'd forgotten that entirely. Of course, seeing that make Alex snicker. But I had proof. Ha.
track ribbon

This week marked the first day of school. My baby is in 2nd grade. My giant boy is in 8th. The last year of them ever going to the same school, unless Alex gets held back several times in a row. Emily has refused first day of school photos for years.

On the knitting news, I finally got a decent photo of my Undulating Waves Scarf I did for Ravelympics. I still haven't blocked the Juno Regina.

My ribbon winning days are getting fewer and farther between, but I did just win a few medals!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ravelympic Update

My lack of posting has not been because I have been hanging out at the Ravelympic village, trading pins with other Ravathletes and visiting the Great Wall of China and the Water Cube. It has been due to REALITY! - that 4 letter word, WORK. School starts Monday and I've been in meetings and retreats, etc.... Not that I don't love work, ahem, [waves to readers at work] it just takes up time. Add the stress of school starting for the kids, and boom, no time.

I have however, been squeezing in some knitting at last minute appointments and during late night Michael Phelps watching. I even got to go to my new knitter friend Lisa's house and there I finished my Juno Regina Scarf. I then grafted it together last night (stressful, but doable) and it is done. That counts as the second of my three ravelympic events. Here it is in its unblocked blob-like state.

Not much to look at, but no time to block. Maybe tomorrow, my coveted day off.

My beaded scarf counts as two ravelympics events- Bead Balance, and Scarf Stroke. I am doing okay with it, but it is not done. I even ordered a 3rd ball of yarn in case it is too short after the second it done (soon) and I think I can finish before the flame is extinguished.

This whole olympic knitting thing has been corny but fun, and if nothing else, has gotten me to finish a few things before school starts and the serious drain on my time begins. And now I have medals to show for it - not as many as Michael Phelps, but can he graft lace? That's what I thought.

Friday, August 08, 2008

All that training paid off...

I'm in the Olympics. The Ravelympics, Ravelry's knitting olympics that is. My first event is wrestling some WIP's (works in progress). That gave me a little incentive to work on the scratchy yet pretty socks.

Finished those this morning, due mostly to my hair appt. Now to wash them and pray for softening. They fit well, so I hope they get more comfy.

I cast on my main Ravelympics project, the Undulating Waves Scarf, this morning when I woke up. The official time to begin was after 5 am which corresponds to Beijing Olympic start time, but I cast on around 7. Not too bad. I have about 5 rows done. I actually starting stringing beads last night, since that isn't actually casting on. So far moving the beads down the yarn is a pain. I think I like the crochet hook method better, but for this project they need to be strung on the working yarn. Other than that, this pattern is basically like the waving lace socks I made last summer.

The yarn is Knit One Crochet Too Handpainted Ambrosia that I purchased at Lambtown. It is silk, alpaca, and cashmere. Yummm. I'm hoping for a yummy beaded scarf. This qualifies for the Scarf Stroke and the Balance Beads events. Yes, I realize this is a little silly, but it is fun.

Notice the stitch markers? They are little pink donuts. I got them on etsy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In case of chills...

wear alpaca!

Now it is around 97 degrees outside, so I won't be wearing this little number soon, but it will be soft and snuggly when the time comes.

Pattern: Celtic Cable Neckwarmer by Lindsay Henricks, found on ravelry. Yarn: chunky alpaca by Lassen Farms, purchased at Lambtown. I only had 110 yards, so a neckwarmer it was!

Upclose shot of the cables - the color is much more chocolatey. Mmmmm. I still need to block it and add the buttons.

wet Bella

Bonus shot: wet Bella!