Thursday, February 28, 2008

Voodoo: Good, Bad, and Kind of Cool

There has been some voodoo going on around here regarding my old handknits....

Good Voodoo

A few months ago, when I was at a conference in Indianapolis, I was standing in line at Starbuck's wearing my Voodoo wristwarmers (made in December 2006, in Malabrigo worsted, Polar Morn). A woman in line in front of me noticed them and complimented them. I accepted the compliment happily and we talked about how convenient and functional wristwarmers are for people who need the use of their fingers in cold situations (I realize that there are many, many people who think wristwarmers are ridiculous in the extreme). It was a happy, warm fuzzy moment, and I was particularly flattered that someone dressed as sharply as she was thought my humble handknit wristwarmers looked great. She left and I continued to wait for my latte.

A few moments later, she returned. She handed me her card and said, "I own my own clothing store here, and if you ever wanted to sell some of those, I could definitely find a market for them."

Most of us who make things by hand have, at one time or another, had a friend tell us we should sell what we make. Few people realize how unprofitable it is for the average knitter to make things to sell. First, unless you are also a designer, there is the copyright issue. Secondly, there is the issue of how much time goes into a handknit and how to value your time. Let's say that someone would pay $20 for wristwarmers (which may be optimistic). If so, then $6 of that would go toward materials (these can be made with half a skein of Malabrigo), then if you sold them directly (i.e., no middle person), you'd get $14 profit - spread out over how many hours? I'm guessing it took me 4 hours at least to make these. So, that's $3.50 an hour. Or, enough to buy 4 more lattes. Not really what I'd call "profitable." (If there's a middleperson, then cut that profit in half - $1.75 an hour, $7 total, 2 lattes). Finally, there is the issue of how much stuff I want to make for myself, my family, my friends - I can't even keep up with those things I want to make, so how would I ever crank out 20 wristwarmers to sell? (even if I came up with my own design and somehow managed to whip them out in, say half an hour, there's just not enough time)

Still. Y'all. It was unbelievably cool to have a clothing store owner offer to sell my little handknits in her store. The validation! The affirmation! The brief dream of making the big bucks until I did the math! Wow. I kept the woman's card and keep thinking I'll at least make her a pair of wristwarmers of her own, but so far I haven't found the time (see third reason, above).

Bad Voodoo

This happened three months ago, right around the same time as that trip to Indianapolis, and it has been almost too heartbreaking to write about. After I returned from my trip, I could no longer locate three of my handknit socks.

Waving Lace socks, made in July/August 2007
These were so special to me because I worked on them during our fateful trip to the beach.

Monkeys, made in March 2007
My first and only (so far) pair.

Simply Lovely Lace Socks, made in July/August 2006
My first lace, my first fingering weight yarn, my first size 0 dpns, my first picot cuff, and possibly my favorite pair of socks. These fit me better than any others I've made, and the pink never failed to cheer me up.

There are not words for how sad I am that I have lost three pairs of handknit socks. I cannot imagine where they ended up. I have searched and searched my luggage to no avail; I contacted the place I was staying in Indianapolis, and they have not turned up there. I am sure you people understand the grief of losing them.

Kind of Cool Voodoo

So I randomly checked my sitemeter yesterday and discovered that I had double the number of hits as usual. When I checked the details, I discovered that my little felted eggs had been featured on Whip Up! How cool is that? (I'm so far behind in keeping up with Whip Up in my Google Reader that I doubt I would ever have noticed them on the site myself). I made these little dudes back in March 2006, in a rather obsessive fashion. Based on CurlyPurly's free egg pattern, these are stuffed with wool scraps and then felted. At first I felted them to try to obscure the fact that my decreases looked wonky. But after I'd done it, I decided I preferred the felted look.

felted eggs

This was the picture shown on Whip Up.
But my really favorite picture is this one:

my little felted Robin's egg
Taken with my old Canon Powershot,
shown in a gorgeous clay bowl that Chris gave me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The One Good Thing

This is what I woke up to yesterday. Yes, I know it's very pretty.

But winter has lost its charm for me at this point. Yes, snow is very, very pretty - for that first hour or two after it first falls. And yes, the occasional ice storm can be breathtaking with its austere beauty - if it doesn't also leave you without power. And yes, having four seasons is charming, especially compared to having only two seasons - hot and humid, and less hot and humid. But y'all, I am not cut out for this mess. My Scotch-Irish-English blood needs some sort of foggy green glen, or lush rolling countryside, or even windy, craggy coastland.

As far as I'm concerned, when winter has gone on this long, there is only one good thing about it left: accoutrements.

If you can't beat the grey, join it.

pattern: Natty (Ravelry link) by Wendy Bernard
yarn: Malabrigo Chunky, in Polar Morn, roughly 3/4 skein
needles: KP Options and Addi Turbos, size 9 for ribbing and size 11 for the rest
[I don't own size 11 dpns, so I magic-looped this when it got too small for the circular)
cast on: January 29
finished: January 31
modifications: This is written with reversible cables (you cable the purl panels as well as the knit ones). I tried that at first but I didn't really like the puckered look of the purl sections. I also don't really need a cap to be reversible. Since the cap as written was too short for my enormous noggin, I had to rip and re-do anyway. So when I started over, I knit it without the reversible cables. In extending the hat, I also ended up throwing in an extra cable at the end. That was unintentional, but I decided to keep it.
notes: I LOVE this hat. This is the first hat I have knit for myself. Until I moved to Michigan, hats were foreign to me (except for the wide-brimmed, Sunday dress variety which I did in fact wear one Easter when I was a teenager). For my first seven winters here, I wore one of two store-bought cloche-type hats. I like them quite a bit, but there is a problem - they do not cover the ears. I've gotten to the point where I am tired of cold ears, especially when I have playground duty at my sons' preschool. So I figured it was high time I knit myself a hat. You wouldn't believe how many patterns I studied and considered before finally settling on this one. There are so many beautiful hat patterns out there! So many I still want to try. This one is stretchy enough to accomodate all my big hair, and long enough to cover my ears. Plus, I love me some cables, especially some big fat ones. Also, Malabrigo Chunky? I love it even more than the original worsted variety. And that is saying a lot. I am still not used to the flat hair I get from wearing this hat more than a few minutes, but other than that, I am pretty thrilled with it.

pattern: Natty Neckwarmer, my own
yarn: Malabrigo Chunky, Polar Morn, leftovers, plus Malabrigo Worsted, Polar Morn, doubled, roughly half a skein
needles: KP Options, size 11
cast on: February 13
bound off: February 15
notes: I didn't have the time or inclination to make a whole scarf. I got a beautiful new charcoal grey boiled wool coat for Christmas (not the one in the pictures here) that had a neckline that wouldn't easily accomodate a scarf without looking bulky. So I thought a neckwarmer was in order. Since I loved the chunky cables of my Natty hat so much, I decided to echo those in the neckwarmer. After some experimentation, I got it right, and just knit in a tube till I ran out of yarn. I had to use the rest of my Malabrigo worsted in Polar Morn, doubled, to have enough, and the shade is definitely different, but not enough to bother me. In the end, I was ridiculously happy with the result.

Mmmm, now I can smell wool all I want.

pattern: Super Mittens (Ravelry link), Weekend Knitting
yarn: Malabrigo Chunky, in Polar Morn, about 3/4 skein
needles: size 9 dpns
cast on: February 10
bound off: February 11
modifications: none, except using a smaller needle size (because that's what I had and I didn't mind a tighter gauge) [unintentional modification: made second mitten slightly shorter than first]
notes: I have been wanting my own pair of mittens for awhile now. I haven't worn mittens since I was a child, thinking gloves more practical. I wore my gloves during the first snowfall this season, while I played outside with the boys. I thought my hands were going to fall off, they were so cold and wet after just a little bit of handling of snow. Turns out my gloves are acrylic! I realized that wool mittens would be much more practical for snow play. These fit the bill, and went beyond expectations. A super simple, super QUICK knit - finished first mitten the night I started it, finished the second one the next morning. And they are unbelievably warm. And soft!!

They deal with the snow way better than I do.

I am in love with these.

I once told someone I wouldn't use Malabrigo for mittens because of how soft and pilly it is. I didn't think it would stand up to the wear-and-tear such a garment takes. It's true that they are pilly, but it turns out that they are just starting to felt (full?) a bit, which makes them even more snow-proof. And the inside? the pilling is bliss. Soooo soft.

Yup, I love me some accoutrements.

But I'm still not happy about all the winter.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cobblestone: In Action and 100% Jelly-Free

So I heeded your suggestions that I let the boy wear the sweater, and I'm happy to say that so far no wool has been harmed. The sweater even survived a milkshake incident. A few action shots:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Service of Procrastination

Saturday is writing day, which usually means I find multiple outlets for procrastination. When I saw this on a friend's blog, I couldn't resist.

104 words

Speed test

Dude. I knew I typed on the fast side, but I really had no idea. Is it okay to be a little impressed with myself?

It would be nice if this speed could translate into faster knitting, but I guess it won't as long as I have my quirky continental style, where I use my left hand much more than my right, though I'm right-handed.

Try out the test and see how you do. And how fast do you feel your knitting is in comparison?

In other news, thanks, y'all, for your many sweet comments about my February Baby Sweater set. You guys were so cute getting all indignant that it only sold for $50. But I was actually pretty pleased. Because almost everything at this silent auction was a steal. Bidding on everything started at half the value, which is how I got a solid wood child's table and chairs for $83 when it was valued at $150. So my little baby set was valued (by the auctioneer) at $100. I kind of gulped when I realized that would put the opening bid at $50, because I know that is steep compared to what someone can buy non-handmade baby goods for. I thought it wouldn't sell at all, but at the last minute, a knitter friend of mine swooped in and nabbed it. It made me happy that someone who knows the real value of a handknit ended up with the set.

Now go take the typing test and tell me your thoughts about knit speed versus typing speed!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


As much as I adore Elizabeth Zimmermann, until recently I didn't have a single EZ FO to my name. You may remember the Tomten Disaster of 2007. What? You don't commit to memory every woe I blog about? Well, there was a Tomten Disaster that involved running out of yarn, moaning about it all over the internets, and having a very kind person coming to my rescue. Only, by then the Tomten Mojo had weakened, and I couldn't finish before warm weather arrived and obviated the need for bulky hooded sweaters. I still have high hopes for a pair of Tomtens (this spring, perhaps?).

Many nights I bring one of my three EZ books to bed. I don't know why, but I find it endlessly entertaining to read the same chapters over and over again, and stare at those same dim black-and-white photographs, and imagine them in colors of my choosing. I finally decided to do something about it, and in December joined a Knitter's Almanac KAL on Ravelry. I don't know if I'll actually follow the book month-by-month, because I've got plenty of other knitting goals this year, but for now I'm having a lot of fun letting Mrs. Zimmermann lead the way for me.

So when I realized that my sons' Co-Op Preschool would be having a Silent Auction in February, it didn't take me long to figure out what I'd be making. With no babies in my own life to knit for, especially of the female persuasion, I jumped at the chance to make my first ever February Baby Sweater....

... and hat, and blanket.

pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February Baby Sweater) from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac
yarn: Socks that Rock, Heavyweight, in Tanzanite, ~3/4 skein (~262 yds)
needles: KP Options, size 5
cast on: January 15
finished: January 22
modifications: I didn't make buttonholes as I went along, primarily because I forgot (the pattern doesn't make them explicit when you would expect). When I realized I had left the first one out, I decided to keep going and add afterthought buttonholes later. Only once I got done with both the sweater and the matching hat, I had approximately 10 inches of yarn left. I didn't think that would be enough to do the buttonholes. So I went a different route, and tried snaps for the first time ever.

In the end, I was pleased that I had forgotten the original buttonholes, because it gave me the opportunity to consider my preferences for buttons after the sweater was complete. I got to try out multiple options before committing, and I quite liked the effect of the two buttons at the top. The buttons themselves were so sweet - little lilac shell buttons that were ridiculously hard to photograph.

[For a truly inspired February Baby Sweater closure, check out Minty's amazing version.]

In terms of other mods, I also knit the body first, just because that's what feels most natural to me, and then knit the sleeves in the round, because why seam? (I'm still a little perplexed as to why the Queen of Seamless would have us knit these flat).

verdict: There's a reason this pattern is so popular. It knits up quick and easy, and the final effect is what I would actually call heirloom quality. Such a beautiful baby cardigan, and not in a frilly or frou-frou way. This is going to be my new go-to baby sweater, at least for baby girls.
The Socks that Rock was a great squishy option for this sweater, and the color was amazing. Yardage is great too, but I overestimated how much stuff I could make from one skein. My original plan was a sweater, a hat, and a pair of Saarjte's bootees, but as it was I barely had enough to finish the hat. Next time I might use Dream in Color Smooshy, which looks to have enough yardage for all three.

Speaking of the hat:

That's how far I got the first try before running out of yarn.
So I had to frog and try again in a smaller size.

pattern: Just a basic baby hat with garter brim and gull lace. I cast on 63 (9 pattern repeats) and decreased based on how I estimated I was doing yardage-wise. If you're looking to do one of these, teeweewonders has great instructions in her Ravelry notebook.
yarn: Socks that Rock, Tanzanite (color not true in above picture), heavyweight, ~1/4 skein (~88 yards)
cast on: January 24
finished: January 25
verdict: I love it, especially with the shell button embellishment.

pattern: Scalloped Baby Blanket from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, by Amy Karol
fabric: Folklore Doily in lilac for front, Full Moon Forest Rabbits in purple for the back, both from reprodepot
started: January 25
finished: January 28
modifications: none that were intentional
notes: I screwed up in multiple ways in the beginning and never fully recovered.
#1 - I failed to take into consideration the directional nature of the rabbit fabric when cutting. There were two ways to deal with this once it was done (given that I did not buy extra fabric). I could've kept the dimensions as they were and let the bunnies run horizontally across the back (as opposed to vertically, which is how I'd envisioned them). Or I could cut all the fabric smaller to make the rabbits run vertically. That's what I did, which resulted in a blanket that was smaller and more squarish than the pattern indicates. That was not ideal but it was all right (it also means I got to keep a few scraps of the yummy rabbit fabric).
#2 - When I traced the template onto the front fabric, I didn't get it square. So the scallops on the final side did not meet up right. Instead of completely re-drawing, I tried to fudge it. So a couple of the scallops on one side were not quite the same size as the rest. I thought it wasn't that noticeable, but when I look at pictures now I realize it was more noticeable than I thought.
#3 - After this mess, I - for reasons I can no longer recall and surely make no sense at all - decided to disregard the directions and cut the fabric along the scallops instead of using the scallop line as my sewing line and then cutting. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. This made for nearly disastrous sewing, as I attempted to sew all the scallops 1/8" from the cut edge. It would have been soooo much easier (and faster!) to sew on a drawn curve than that close to a cut curve. This made making the blanket not near the joy it could've been, and it made the scallops turn out less even than they should've been.
verdict: If you can avoid making stupid mistakes, this pattern could not be simpler or more delightful. It makes a super-cute little blanket. And I am totally in love with the front fabric:

In retrospect, I should not have contributed this to the auction, as I am completely embarrassed now when I look at the photos. I thought perhaps I could make another one just like it, but better, to send to the person who bought it, but now I see that the rabbit fabric is no longer available. I still might try again, with a different back fabric. I know now that the key to getting it right is making sure to square up everything when drawing the scallops from the template.

In the end, the Silent Auction was a success. The school raised several thousand dollars, I got a steal on a child-sized solid wood table and chairs, and my little baby set sold, for $50. Less than the cost of materials, but I had feared it wouldn't sell at all.

I am sold, too.
On Elizabeth Zimmermann!

Monday, February 18, 2008

For February

Dear February,
I used to love you so much.

In Georgia, your arrival meant that spring was just around the corner. That certain slant of light in the late afternoon was like a kiss, a promise of something more to come. By the time you were on your way out, the daffodils would be almost in bloom.

In my younger years, you held so much excitement. A crush of social events. Afternoons full of extracurriculars. The beginning of track season. The planning of spring break.

As I grew older, your little month meant big things, none more significant than that night seven years ago when I said, "I do."

Oh, February, what happened to you? You changed for me, when I moved here. And I am not as hardy as I thought I was. Now you mean grey. And then more grey. And then - impossibly - more grey. You do not signal anything like the imminent arrival of spring; that will not come until late April, maybe May. There will be no daffodils here for a long time.

Your snow, which looked so beautiful falling from your vast (grey) sky turned next to slush, and then to ice, and now to some (grey) mix I have no name for. Everywhere I step is ugly, and treacherous. I ruin my shoes for you, February.

Your kiss no longer means warmth, it means illness. How many days of your month have already flown by, while I and my brood stayed cooped and feverish in our house? I missed my anniversary date for you, February.

Now, dear February, you are almost gone. I suppose I should be glad, mean as you have been. But I am wistful, still. For one, I know March to be far crueler than you - he actually promises spring without ever delivering; he goads me with his lengthening days while withholding warmer, fairer skies.

Also, how could I ever be entirely angry at a month that gave all us knitters one beautiful, enduring (and ubiquitous) gift:

February Baby Sweater

details forthcoming
(with 100% less melodrama)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mathletic Knitting

It seems most people (especially women) who don't work in math-related fields feel the need to declare things like, "I've never been any good at math," or "I just don't have a head for numbers." Is that true? Or do people just not want to be thought of as nerdy? I don't know. But I'm going to admit something straight up: I like math. I might even say I love it (except Calculus). And I'll go even farther and admit this: I'm pretty good at it (except Calculus). There, I said it. Call me a math nerd, if you wish.

Better yet, call me a "mathlete." I was on the math team in elementary, junior high, and high school, and y'all, I love me a math competition. The pressure, the camaraderie, the glory. Okay, I'm just kidding about the glory. Winning a medal or a trophy at a math tournament really does not win you any cool points with your peers, trust me.

In 6th grade, I went to Mathews Elementary, and our math teacher named our math team the "Mathews Mathletes." She got us little t-shirts in our school colors with our school mascot (a tiger) on it. He was spouting off algebraic formulas and such. Dude. We were so cool. She told us that if we won our division and went to the region tournament she would rent us a limo to go to it in, and we did. So the local news had a little spot: four little mathletes in matching little blue-and-white tees, getting out of limo at a math meet. I really did think we were cool. So cool that I wore that t-shirt throughout my first year of junior high before I realized that there were a lot of things you could say about the girl who wore swag from an elementary school math team - and "she's so cool" was not one of them.

Over the years, I learned to supress my inner mathlete. In high school, fitting in definitely trumped winning math awards. Also, Calculus kicked my butt. Twice. (once in high school and again in college). Somewhere along the way, I shut my inner mathlete away, sent her off to the same internal gulag where all my other embarrassed and embarrassing alter-egos live: the 11 year-old with the big curly red clown hair and the nicknames to go with it; the 12 year-old in the rainbow-striped legwarmers and bright blue eyeshadow; the 13 year-old who got broken up with - in a note passed through all her friends - in science class.

I wish that young girl had not felt so acutely that she was a freak. Or I wish, at least, that she had realized that most everyone else around her felt the same way. And I wish that all of them could have been able to just be who they were, claim what they loved, without such an intense fear of rejection and ridicule.

So on behalf of my 13 year-old self, I am claiming it now. I am a Mathlete. Hear me roar!

So maybe you will understand why what happened at my LYS in the fall felt something like a gauntlet being thrown down. I was happily chatting with the woman behind the counter, about Jared Flood's Cobblestone pattern. Telling her how I really wanted to make one for one of my 3 year-old sons. Going on about how I just loved the pattern and couldn't wait to get started on it for him. She looked at me like I might be a little crazy. "I know I'll have to modify the pattern for fit," I explained. She snorted. She shook her head. "I don't know if you want to do that. That's a complicated pattern - there will be a lot of calculations."


And also: oh yeah? Watch me.

pattern: Cobblestone, by Jared Flood, Interweave Knits Fall 2007
yarn: Classic Elite Skye Tweed, color 1257, purchased from Webs clearance sale last summer, 4 skeins (440 yards)
made for: Tiny Dancer
cast on: December 22 (yes, gentle reader, that was the same day I was sewing 6 Christmas stockings)
finished: January 4
notes: There is more than one way to approach modifying fit. Here's how I did it: I determined my gauge (4.25"/inch). Then I decided what size I wanted the sweater to be (24"). Then I multiplied my gauge by my desired size. 4.25 x 24 = 102. That's how many stitches I needed to cast on in order to get the fit I wanted. From there, I looked at the CO number of the smallest size listed in the original pattern. I divided my CO number by the CO number in the original pattern and got a factor of 60%. Then I multiplied all relevant pattern numbers by that factor (.6). Other than that, I reduced the size of the garter edge and cuffs (to slightly over 1") and made the yoke based on Tiny Dancer's child measurements.

verdict: I love this sweater.
The yarn? Yum. It's my first experience with Skye Tweed (now discontinued, sadly - but I did stock up at the clearance sale and got enough to make a sweater for both boys, My Old Man, and myself!). It was a bit rougher than I expected (and in general, I really love wooly yarns, so "rough" does not put me off); this was just harder to work with than most of the wooly yarns I've tried. But it softens up and blooms nicely after a wet block. I love this color, with its tweedy flecks. And I love how garter loves tweed.

Mr. Flood is a genius.
But you already knew that.

The only downside of this sweater?
I'm afraid for Tiny Dancer to wear it, because I don't want it to get messed up. (Apparently part of the job description of being a three year-old boy is to make as big a mess as possible, and on a daily basis. Extra points if the mess involves jelly.)
I want this sweater to remain perfect, pristine.
I sort of want to frame it.

I couldn't get Tiny Dancer to give me any shots straight-on (even with bribes), but Little Buddha is always happy to oblige with the poses. Since he's a bit bigger than his brother, the sleeves are too short on him. But otherwise, you get the idea.

I made it a bit big, bodywise, so it will fit for awhile. I think it should be pretty easy to add length to the arms and waist, as needed.

Of course, now I owe someone else a sweater....

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Organic Gifting. And day-making.

I suppose that five weeks into the year is as good a time as any to finally start blogging 2008's projects. I can't believe what a backlog I have created for myself. I guess that's what I get for knitting instead of blogging. Though I have to admit that lately, I've barely had time for knitting lately either.

When I married My Old Man - seven years ago this Sunday! - I got more than just a husband, I got a great new family, too. In addition to wonderful in-laws and the best niece and nephew in the world (seriously, y'all would not believe how fabulous these two human beings are - sometimes when I'm with them all I can do is just stare at them because they are such really amazing [and beautiful] people), I have what some people would call a stepdaughter (and stepson-in-law and step-grandson!) and stepson. We've never really used that language - his kids were both essentially grown when their dad and I married and neither one of them ever lived with us. Also, I'm a little bit close in age to them (6 years older than his daughter, 12 years older than his son), so it just seemed strange. I refer to them as my husband's kids, they refer to me as their dad's wife, except when Chris really wants to freak people out and he calls me his stepmom. At any rate, I adore them all.

The funny thing is, I feel as related to Chris as I do to anyone in my blood family, which is saying a lot because I am very close to my blood kin and have a deep sense of kinship with most of them. There are things Chris and I have in common with each other that neither of us have in common with any of our blood relatives, particularly when it comes to interests and opinions. Also, he appreciates a handmade gift more than anyone know. For that alone, he will have my undying love. When it comes to craft, the guy really gets it. He himself would rather make something than buy it, do something rather than pay someone else to do it. He understands the intrinsic value of handmade things (and the revolutionary potential of making things oneself). [One of my all-time favorite gifts is one he gave me when he was 19 - a small hippo he sculpted out of clay, along with a little trail of hippo turds. Yeah, I love his sense of humor, too.]

Chris was the first person to ever give me unsolicited yarn as a gift. My Old Man had certainly given me yarn gifts - of yarn I had particularly picked out and pointed him to. But Chris was the first one who ever got me any just because he saw some he thought I might like. He bought it at a farmer's market in Devon, England, near where he lives; it came from local sheep and was undyed. It was gorgeous DK weight Shetland wool.

I held onto it for a year, waiting for an idea of what it should become. It was two skeins - 50g of a light tan and 50 g of a medium brown. Right after Christmas, while I was visiting Chris and his sister and her family, it finally sprang into being:

a Zeebee Helmet

The reason I call this an organic gift is because I collaborated with Chris to produce something to his specifications, and it kept sort of evolving as we both went along. Holding the yarn double, I first made a Zeebee. He tried it on, said he liked it but could I make it to cover his ears? So I added earflaps. He tried it on, said he liked it, but could I make the earflaps bigger? So I ripped and made them bigger, adding long i-cords to tie under his chin. He tried it on, said he liked it, but could I make it to cover his neck? So I picked up stitches and made what can only be described as a "neckflap." The result? A medieval-looking helmet. A little funky-looking, but it's warm. And I think it suits him.

pattern: Zeebee
yarn: 100g DK weight Shetland wool, undyed, two different colors, held double
needles: KP Options, size 7
started: January 1
finished: January 3
notes: I tinkered around with this thing so much that by the time I finally got the earflaps the size I wanted, I didn't really have them centered right on the sides of the Zeebee, but I didn't notice till I was putting on the neckflap. You can see that in the final picture above. There was no time to rip and re-do, and by that point I was ready to be done with it anyway.

If I were to do a Zeebee Helmet again, I would probably figure out a way to add the earflaps and neckflap all at once, rather than the sort of piecemeal approach I did here.

In the end, I guess this was the perfect use for this yarn, because it took exactly the amount that I had.

So there ya go. My first FO of 2008.

In other news, my day was made a few times lately by people who told me I made their day. Maria at Passing Down Crazy, Lia at The Fruity Sheep, and Rachel at Lickety Knit all gave me the Make My Day award.
Thanks, y'all. It really did make my day to receive such acknowledgement from you. (And in the process, I got introduced to two new - to me - blogs! Thanks, Maria and Lia! The rest of you should go check them out). Rachel kicked the kudos up a notch by calling my blog the most under-read blog in the knitblogosphere. That made my week.

I'm supposed to now name 10 blogs that make my day, which I find rather difficult. For one, I hate to leave anyone out - every blog I subscribe to I love for one reason or another. Secondly, I have to admit that my blog-reading (and especially my blog-commenting) has taken a huge hit lately. So apologies for what is really not remotely a complete list of blogs that I enjoy. At any rate, without further ado, here are 10 blogs that really do make my day.

First, a few you're probably already reading:
Lickety Knit - now in a monthly format, which is just perfect for my current blog-reading tendencies. Rachel is hilarious and brilliant, and a great knitter, too!

Pepperknit - what do I love more: minty's blog or her daily flickr updates? It's hard to say. Minty's just all-around-lovable, except when I'm totally envious of the fact that she and Rachel spend every weekend together. Minty will protest that it's really not that often, but I think the fact that she now tosses off casual references to their outings is proof enough.

Dogged - come for the knitting, stay for the sewing, fall in love with the photography and the writing. Like many of us, Ashley is blogging a bit less these days, but I still get my daily dose of her on flickr. Love her daily 365 shots. Ashley lives just close enough that I could actually stalk her, but so far I have restrained myself.

Novamade - knitting, sewing, pie, photography, and Little Sir. 'Nuff said.

Zigzagstitch - could Mandy and her family be any cuter? The great Super Bowl Hat Challenge was only the latest of Mandy's amazing accomplishments. I first found my way to her blog when she posted her beautiful Tomten to Zimmermania ages ago, and I've been addicted ever since.

Schrodinger Knits - Schrodinger knits, sews, spins, and designs, and what currently impresses me most is how she is rocking the Etsy shop. Just opened in the fall and she has already made and sold a few hundred sock bags! I am truly in awe. I feel like I can also say "I knew her when" because I have been reading her blog almost since its inception.

And a few you may not know about:
Mer Knits - this may be the blog I've been reading the longest. I first knew Mer over at Knitting Help (the same place I first knew schrodinger) and her blog was linked in her sig line. I think it was the first I ever knew of knitting blogs, and what I saw on hers was a constant source of inspiration. She knits a lot of tops and sweaters, and they always look fabulous on her. Her galleries alone are worth a visit to her blog.

Naptime Musings - pregnant with her third (and surprise!) baby, and with plenty on her plate, Sarah recently declared that she was going to give blogging a break for awhile, and I was so disappointed. So I was thrilled to see her light up my Google Reader again this week - looks like the break is over! I've been reading Sarah's blog for as long as I've been blogging; I love keeping up with her crafting and her family life (her adorable Emma may just be the perfect match for one of my guys some day....). It was a picture of some pj bottoms that Sarah made that finally inspired me to get out the old sewing machine and give it a whirl.

Don't Call Me Becky - I first found my way over to Rebekah's blog from Anna Maria Horner's blog, when Anna Maria linked to Rebekah's gorgeous quilt, made from Anna Maria's Bohemian fabric line. It was so amazing, as is everything Rebekah makes, and I immediately subscribed. It was only a year later, when I read this post, that I discovered something shocking about that Bohemian quilt: it was Rebekah's very first. I still can hardly get my mind around that. And she has made many more beauties since that one. Huge inspiration for this novice quilter.

Doulicia - this is the best Ravelry story I know. In December, I got a message in my Ravelry inbox with the subject line "I think we actually know each other in real life." Turns out it was my neighbor from three doors down; we've lived down the street from each other for five years. I first met her and her two sons when my boys were six weeks old and I was out taking them for a stroller ride. It turned out she was a doula, and she was the first person to really get the horror of my birth story, and the complicated feelings I had around it. A few days later she brought over the most delicious spinach pie, the meal she brings to her doula clients. We've had friendly conversations ever since, but it wasn't until Ravelry when we each learned that the other both knitted and blogged - and that we have the same birthday. Doulicia's blog started out primarily on the topics of birthing, family, and doula-related issues, but these days she includes more and more knitting content. Since we connected on Ravelry, Doulicia has even invited me to her knitting group - the first time I've ever been to one!

And to bring this post full circle, here's a non-knitting blog that makes my day:
Exeterra - this is Chris's blog, and always a delight to read. Chris is working on his PhD in social pyschology at Exeter University in England. His particular interest is in motivating social groups towards more environmentally ethical action. His blog covers all sorts of interesting topics, like education, science, the environment, creativity, and bunnies.

Wow. This post took way longer than I expected it to. If you've read this far, then thanks for sticking around. All of my readers make my day, and regularly. So thanks!