Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ready to ride

Tomorrow afternoon we will hit the road, headed for vacation time with family. You can rest assured that I have my priorities straight. In packing, first things came first:

Here are the contents of my knitting bag, ready for at least 400 miles of fun. (The trip is 800 and if My Old Man and I split the driving equally, that means at least 6 hours of knit time for me). As you can see, I'm overly optimistic about how much of Cozy I can get done on the drive - I've put all the skeins of Mandalay in my bag because I can't risk running out en route.

And in case I tire of Cozy, I've got my Simply Lovely Lace Sock (pattern in IK Spring 2006) ready to do back-up.

But I can't leave for 2 1/2 weeks with only my knitting bag. So here is a little suitcase I've packed, with extra yarn, needles, and patterns. Believe me when I say I placed severe limits on myself in packing this. I'm only bringing 2 skeins of the Lamb's Pride for the cardigan, when I really wanted to bring all 6 (but even I'm not that unrealistic). And I took out the three balls of Manos cotton that I thought I might make a Log Cabin square from. In addition to the Lamb's Pride, I limited myself to the rest of the yarn for the Simply Lovely Lace Socks, the JaggerSpun Zepphyr for the Peace Shawl, the Lorna's Laces Worsted, some Bernat Cottontots in case I decide Baby J needs one more little hat, and a skein of bamboo for a headband. Plus almost every needle I own. Do you think this will be enough?

And for those of you keeping a tally at home, here's something you can add to the list of things I suck at: embroidery.

Here's my Wee Wonderful bear. It only took me a day to put him (her?) together. But it took me a week to get the face on, and the eyes are all wonky and I'm going to have to take the nose off and reattach it along with at least one eye. Am hoping Baby J doesn't mind too much. My boys are crazy about him/her. I have all the pieces cut out to make them each a cat, which I had hoped to do before we left tomorrow. Think I'll stay up and do it?
Stay tuned....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Taking the whole "earthy" thing a little far...

Amazing Lace Challenge #5: Where's Waldo?
In honor of that slightly crazed I-see-lace-everywhere mental state that’s a symptom of obsessive lace knitting, your challenge is to post one photo on your blog in which your lace is a hidden or unexpected part of the picture.

As earthchick ponders her wardrobe, she realizes it lacks a certain something.

Perhaps she should've chosen to knit Cozy (pictured far left) in something other than an earthtone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Monday was yarnmail day here, so now I'm stocked before I leave on vacation. In the back is six skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Spice. I am so thrilled with the color. I had a really hard time choosing from among all the beautiful red options on the color card. I finally went with this deep, rich red and it is perfect. This is for my SweaterBabe Lace Cardigan (I'd provide a link, but the site seems to be down this morning).

Next is a skein of Lorna's Laces in Chocolate. Since I was already ordering the Lamb's Pride from Kaleidoscope Yarns (one of my favorite online yarn sources), I decided to throw in one more purchase. This will make some yummy basic fall socks for your truly. [What ever happened to the Simply Lovely Lace Socks, you ask? Those are still on the needles and I still plan to finish them in time to wear them at least once this summer. I just haven't made any progress ever since I started really getting going on Cozy.]

Finally, in the front is brand new territory for me - real lace yarn. This is JaggerSpun Zepphyr, which I ordered from Bo Peep's Wool Shop. It's for making this shawl, again for myself (you know, Summer of Selfish Knitting and all). Ambitious much? Why yes, yes I am.

Yarn acquisition isn't the only thing going on around here. There's been a little knitting, too. Just a little, because we're frantically trying to get ready for our vacation. Still, I'm making steady, unfrogged progress. 23 inches done on Cozy - that's 1/3 finished!

Finally, I want to say a big thank you for your very sweet comments about my 100 Things. It was with not a little trepidation that I posted all that stuff, so it was extra-nice to get kind comments. Thank you!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A little sewing

It has been almost a month since our niece HK turned 24. Here is the homemade part of her belated birthday gift.

Hooray for Headbands headband from Heather Bailey. A sweet, simple little summery project (but don't look too closely at my pic or you will see that all my details are sloppy). This was a great project for a beginner like me.

And a little tote bag from (*gasp*) Sew Fast, Sew Easy. As a knitter, I should be ashamed of myself. But I bought this book before I really was a knitter, and long before I realized the SFSE folks were trying to sue Debbie Stoller (of Stitch 'n Bitch fame) for copyright infringement (for using the ubiquitous and very old phrase "stitch 'n bitch," which the SFSE folks seem to think they invented). The second pic of the bag shows the pink lining and the little inside pocket. It also shows more sloppy detail work, so avert your eyes from all but the pocket, and even then try to let your eyes go out of focus a bit so you miss how I messed up the pocket details too.

All in all, I'm fairly pleased with this set. I love the fabric, though I think it looks better as a headband than as a tote. It turns out I am terrible at reading sewing patterns. It takes me several readings before I really get what's supposed to happen. Also, I tend towards sloppiness, which I already knew.

Am still learning how to take pictures of inanimate objects. I know natural light would've been better, but I was too excited about finishing these to wait till daylight.

Next up: I'm going to make a bear for Baby J from Hillary Lang's wee wondeful put-together book. And then I'll do kitties for my boys. Have you seen leilalu's kitties? They are absolutely completely precious.

You can call me Granny now. Once.

Baby J was born at 10:26 p.m. last night, via c-section. Poor mama and baby had a long, long day, but were doing well when we spoke to them after midnight. They induced early yesterday morning, but things didn't go as planned. At one point, contractions were coming too quickly for baby to recover so they had to cut off the pitocin and then later start it back at a lower rate. Then at 9:00 they decided labor was not progressing - she had been at 5 cm for 3 hours. So they took her in for a c-section. That went all right until after the baby was removed and she immediately began feeling the pain of the surgery, so then they knocked her out to sew her back up. I'm bummed that they didn't get the kind of delivery they wanted (I'm certainly well-acquainted with that experience!). The whole reason for the inducement was to avoid a c-section (they thought the baby was getting too big and didn't want him to get any bigger). I can't help but wonder if the inducement actually led to the c-section since perhaps if her body had been ready to labor she wouldn't have stalled out at 5 cm. Of course, I'm not a medical professional, so who knows....

Anyway, it was rough going, but a happy ending. We are told that Baby J is absolutely beautiful. We will get to see for ourselves in 11 days!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

the picky pants

Thanks for all the kind comments about the little layette. I'm very excited about it. Here is a shot of the pants that I couldn't add yesterday due to blogger restrictions (thanks Red, for the suggestion about photobucket, will try it sometime - and it's great to hear from another redheaded Gemini!).

I love making Picky Pants (this is my 3rd pair so far). I did the seed stitch cuffs (love seed stitch!) to match the seed stitch on the sweater. I wish I had a better picture of these, but you get the idea.

I can't wait to see these on Baby J!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ready for baby

My Old Man's daughter called yesterday to say that she is going to be induced tomorrow morning, a day before her due date. The docs think the baby's shoulders are unusually wide and she is rather petite, so they don't want to let her go any longer. I'm always biased towards letting the mama's body do its thing naturally (but who am I to talk? I had every possible medical intervention, due to multiple complications), so I'm a tad disappointed that they are just going to go ahead and take the baby. Still, we're all excited.

And of course, I had to snap into gear and finally put the buttons on Baby J's sweater, something I had put off for weeks (and now I know it was with good reason. Man, they were a pain!). But now the entire layette is complete!

Child's Cotton Hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Bernat cottontots

Dreambaby Booties from fabulousyarn
Bernat cottontots

Diagonal Garter Stitch Blanket
25 inches square, unblocked (hence the crease in the middle)
Rowan Soft Baby

Child's Placket-Neck Sweater, Last Minuted Knitted Gifts
Bernat cottontots

I couldn't get blogger to upload the final pic, which is of the pants. I'll try again later. They are Picky Pants from Little Turtle Knits, in Bernat cottontots.

I really loved working with the Bernat cotton. Good thing, because I have a ton left and a friend with a baby due in September. The Rowan Soft Baby is super-soft but I got tired of working with it. Boy am I glad to be done with the never-ending baby blanket.

Today is My Old Man's birthday. He was kind of hoping that Baby J would arrive today. It could still happen. But please, no one call me Granny!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mine and Not Mine

My boys are at that age when they like to pronounce their ownership of anything/everything they see. "My outside!" Little Buddha proclaims. "My goggy," he tells me, pointing at someone else's doggy. "Mines!" they both yell when arguing over a favorite CD/book/toy. They don't yet have an appreciation for the boundary between what is theirs and what is not.

This week, I've been navigating that boundary myself.

Last weekend, I drooled over the brand-new Wee Wonderful patternbook that Hillary has recently put out. By the time I read about it, she had already sold out. But a little voice inside me kept saying, "Mines!" Turns out she did a quick turn-around second print. And on Tuesday....

...this was in my mailbox.

Then I went shopping for color cards for Lamb's Pride bulky yarn, so I could pick a color for this sweater, which I want to make for myself before my Summer of Selfish Knitting is over. The cards shipped on Tuesday.

Then on Thursday, a big package from Paradise Fibers arrived. I was shocked and delighted, because I had no memory of having ordered any yarn lately. When I opened it up, this is what I found.

Six skeins of Brown Sheep Nature Spun.

"Who sent this to me?" I excitedly wondered, tearing into the packing slip. Alas, it wasn't mine. It was supposed to go to someone in Oregon. Paradise Fibers is the company I had ordered my color cards from, so clearly there was some mix-up. I'm currently working on getting the yarn to the person waiting on it in Oregon. I was bummed to think that it would be several days before I got my color cards.

Then today, I opened the mailbox and this was there.

two color cards of Lamb's Pride goodness.

I want to do the sweater in red. There are so many yummy shades of red - how will I ever decide. I love mulling over these kinds of choices.

Now it's time to make way for the yarn I'll be ordering. Here's a sneak-peek at part of tomorrow's Saturday Seven, something that will no longer be mine. Three-plus skeins of Numei's cotton chenille that I've passed on to Becky.

Pretty colors. Hated working with it. (I like Crystal Palace cotton chenille far better).

And finally, in an up-and-down week of mine versus not-mine and knit versus frog, something that is Mine! All Mine!

Cozy, eight inches in.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lessons Learned

Whew. Now that I have finally broken my psychological barrier against working beyond the 2nd pattern repeat (am 2 rows past it - woohoo), I am feeling reflective. Here is what Cozy is teaching me about so far:
  1. stitch markers. Sara Jayne suggested using stitch markers for every six stitches, in order to better be able to see where mistakes might be, and to keep up more easily with the pattern. Genius! This has radically simplified matters for me. Not only can I get in a better groove of knowing what comes next, I can see how I've screwed up and exactly where. In particular, I seem to have a thoughtless habit of forgetting to psso when I'm supposed to. With each section marked off, I can easily see the 2 or 3 places I forgot to psso b/c I'll have 7 sts b/t markers instead of 6 sts. When I go through on the purl row, I just fix the mistake. [Note to self: better yet, pay attention and quit making the same &*^& mistake.]
  2. lifeline. Sara Jayne and Meredith both reminded me I ought to be using a lifeline. I had every intention of doing so, honestly. But I'm, well, how should I say this, I tend to be, um, a tad lazy. And now is the time to confess something else. Since my last post, I have actually frogged one more time. I don't even remember now what the problem was, but I know what I did about it. I didn't have a lifeline in (was planning to put it in row 8, but I decided to frog after completing row 7), but amazingly I was able to salvage the first four rows (3 garter stitch and then the first pattern row). I went ahead and put a lifeline in at that point, once I got the stitches back on the needle. It goes against my natural inclinations - to actually prepare for potential problems instead of just reacting to them when they happen - but I'm glad I'm doing it.
  3. lifelines and stitch markers. Do not thread the lifeline through the 13 stitch markers. I learned this the hard way.
  4. toddlers. Toddlers and lace-knitting are an ill-fated combination. No wonder I make stupid mistakes. With silk yarn in my hands, a pattern on the arm of my chair, and two two year-olds throwing books and toys in my lap and shouting, "Read!", it's a little hard to concentrate. I also think they know that when my hands are occupied I am helpless to stop them from smearing blueberry juice on my pants. (hey, at least it's just blueberry juice)
  5. bandwagons. I tried to resist. Really, I did. I love my Addis dearly. I don't knit with anything else (except when it comes to dpns). But I'm tired of wishing for sharper tips. Especially as I try to work with this tweedy yarn (which, I have to say, has impressed me thoroughly with its ability to handle four froggings and countless tinkings). So I broke down and did it. Unfortunately, it will be at least a week or two wait. I hope they arrive before I leave on vacation!
  6. obsessions. I know I'm obsessive, and especially when it comes to knitting. But I am surprising even myself with the sheer number of times I find myself thinking of the yarn, the pattern, the future finished product, and the knitting itself. I'm also pleasantly surprised by my personal commitment to doing this thing really right, instead of just approximately right.
  7. distractions. Even my obsession with Cozy doesn't stop me from dreaming about future projects. And I know I am being completely unrealistic with what I think I can accomplish. But I can't stop thinking and planning, and Valley Yarns made things so much more difficult with the arrival of their new catalog yesterday. It included a ridiculously adorable pair of Daddy & Me Cabled Vests (scroll down and look on the right to see them) that I simply MUST MAKE for My Old Man, Little Buddha, and Tiny Dancer to wear at Christmastime. How do I really expect to do that, with my current to-do-list already approaching near-impossibility? Obviously, I have more lessons to learn - about realism, time management, and project management!

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    I am Sisyphus

    I started Cozy again last night (thanks for the encouragement, folks!).

    I frogged Cozy again this afternoon.

    Knit. Tink. Frog. Repeat.

    Total number of times frogged: 3.

    The first time, I got 2 pattern repeats in when I realized my edges were wonky. I was doing the selvage wrong - slipping the first stitch (purlwise) but not knitting the last stitch of every row. So I had a chain edge on one side and a bumpy edge on the other. Frogged.

    The second time, I got almost 2 pattern repeats in when I somehow screwed up the 7th row. I tinked repeatedly but couldn't get things fixed (this night was otherwise known as the Blueberry Poop night). After a week of setting Cozy aside, I frogged.

    The third time, I got to the 7th row of the 1st repeat. Something was awry. I had an extra stitch at the end but couldn't figure out how. I tinked, reworked. Basically, it seemed to be the same problem as the last time. I somehow threw myself off with the two extra stitches I had added for to make the selvages work the way I thought they should (based on advice I got at KH). It should've worked. By every calculation, it worked. It worked on every other row I did. But somehow on row 7 I kept getting messed up by the extra stitch at the beginning and the end (at the end of row 7, when it tells you what to do when you have 5 sts left, I should've had 6 left b/c of the selvage, but I kept having 7).

    So I have frogged and am just going to do exactly what the pattern says. I have never not done a selvage (except when knitting in the round, of course) b/c I've never trusted that I can get the edge smooth without doing it. We'll see....

    Because I am Sisyphus, I obviously couldn't go to bed without pushing that rock up the hill one more time. So I went ahead and cast on again and started knitting. I made it through row 7 with the exact right number of stitches. Could it possibly be that I won't be frogging this time?

    Oh, the upside of all this is that I finally figured out how to artfully tink sl1, k2tog, psso.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Amazing Lace Challenge #4

    Challenge #4:

    Is your camera feeling abandoned, neglected, and ignored after the poetry challenge? Do you find bad pictures of yourself showing up all over the internet and wonder how they got there? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Challenge #4 has just the answer. Get ready to take some photos!
    Your question: If you bound off your lace RIGHT NOW - what could it be used for?

    Your challenge: One photo of your lace in a reasonable approximation of its potential use at this very momeny posted to your blog (or photohosting account) by midnight EDT (UTC -4:00), July 16. Post a comment on this entry with the link to officially enter.
    Legal Disclaimer: No lace should actually be harmed in the execution of this challenge. Please exercise due diligence when dealing with many tiny unbound stitches.

    If I bound off right now.... Well, I couldn't really "bind off" per se, since I have now frogged Cozy twice and haven't yet restarted. So let's change "bound off" to "gave up." If I gave up right now, my project could be used for....

    A cat toy.
    Cliche? Or classic?
    You decide.

    *As per instructions, no lace was actually harmed in the execution of this challenge. The hand of the lace-knitter, however, was scratched when she tried to retrieve her yarn.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Because I didn't have enough to do already.

    (Yet another post with no knitting content. I'm knitting, I swear I am. But there's nothing worth showing right now.)

    So I started another blog. Bringing me now to three (in addition to this one, I also run a community blog for the campus ministry my husband and I lead). It's a little personal project that I'm inviting others to join if they're interested. It has to do with getting rid of the excess of stuff in my life. It's one of the efforts I'm making towards my 4th birthday goal.

    Wanna read more about it? Wanna join me? Check it out: The Seven Things Project.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    I had to do it.

    I'm sick about it, but I didn't feel I had a choice. I frogged Cozy. Again. One row shy of where I was when I frogged the first time.

    The problem was that after all the tinking and counting and re-tinking and trying to figure out exactly where I'd messed up and exactly what to do about it, I became paralyzed. I haven't picked Cozy up since Tuesday of last week because I knew when I did I'd have all this figuring and tinking to do, and I was afraid I'd just mess things up more and make myself more frustrated. I'm sure I could've eventually rectified things. Maybe it was just a matter of unraveling a couple more rows. But the fact that I was paralyzed by the situation meant that that wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

    So I bit the bullet and frogged. I know that means I basically lost the time I already put in (again) but it will save me time in the long-run since now I'm pretty sure I'll actually start working on it again.



    So my Summer of Selfish Knitting has been somewhat derailed. June did produce one thing for me - the little felted/non-felted purse. Well, that and the dress, but that wasn't selfish knitting, and I'm not going to call this the Summer of Selfish Sewing because I have high hopes of cranking out some toddler clothes at some point. And a purse and headband for my niece, whose birthday was a week-and-a-half ago, so obviously I'm way behind on that. But I digress. I have a list of time-intensive me-projects I really want to have completed by the end of summer, starting with Cozy. I'm way off-schedule (though it was a ridiculously ambitious schedule, and schedule is actually a pretty loose term for me anyway). The last few days I've just been cranking along on the Never Ending Baby Blanket for Baby J, who is due 2 weeks from tomorrow. Once I get it done, I swear this will then be the Summer of Selfish Knitting for real! (Okay, okay, I do still need to seam two @#@$%^ dinosaurs and I do want to make a little kimono sweater and cap for a friend's baby due in September, and another friend did ask me in April to make her a pair of socks, but other than all that. Summer of Selfish Knitting. I swear it.)

    The dress

    Pardon the hokey posed shots, but here's the dress I made in sewing class. Even though I did the size that matched my measurements (which the teacher took), it turned out too big, so I'll have to take it in (wonder how long it will take me to get to that). You can see in the shot of the back of the dress how the material bunches up when I tie it. The last thing I need is bunched up extra material around my post-twins belly.

    It's just a basic linen dress with butterflies embroidered on it and flowers embroidered along the hem, a slit up the left side, and ties in the back. Turns out I'm not as wild about the fabric as I was when I first got it, and I bought too much, so I've got extra lying around. Am kinda sick of it at this point.

    I think I'm going to make a fall version out of some sort of chocolate brown or caramel-colored suede-ish material, with 3-4 length sleeves and maybe no ties. And the smaller size. And longer.

    But now I know how to sew. In a basic sort of way. Here's hoping I can keep it up....

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    Amazing Lace Challenge #3: The Poetry Challenge

    Your challenge: One poem, written by, for, or about your lace teammate posted to your blog (or photohosting account) by midnight EDT (UTC -4:00), July 2.

    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Lace Knit*
    (with apologies to Dylan Thomas)

    Do not go gentle into that lace knit,
    Fine yarn will twist and gnarl at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the splitting of the stitch.

    Though strong hands on each row will never quit,
    Because their fingers work so surely they
    Do not go gentle into that lace knit.

    Good hands, the last row by, making it fit
    Their owner’s body, in whose lap it lay;
    Rage, rage against the splitting of the stitch.

    Wild hands, which caught and tore the yarn a bit
    And move, too late, to fix the little fray,
    Do not go gentle into that lace knit.

    Slow hands, now numb, in rooms so poorly lit
    Will tink and frog the endless night away;
    Rage, rage against the splitting of the stitch.

    And you, dear Cozy, there in such a snit,
    Curse, bless me now with your smooth drape, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that lace knit.
    Rage, rage against the splitting of the stitch.

    *this poem is based extremely closely on Dylan Thomas' poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, which has always been a favorite of mine. If you haven't read it since high school, do yourself a favor and click on the link above.