Thursday, March 29, 2007

I don't have anything to show off.

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My parents just got back from their winter down south and it sounds like Mom's finished at least half a dozen quilt tops. We're getting together tomorrow for show and tell -- but I don't feel like I have anything exciting to show. pout Alex has all of her projects, Leif has his brand new walking skills, Quinn has a whole bunch of brand new words he could say if he felt like it, Heath can suddenly read...

What have I managed to get done since the beginning of the year?

The only wonderful thing I have is my Swallowtail, which I've been wearing everywhere and Leif has been chewing on, so it's looking a little less beautiful than it was when it was freshly blocked. The endpaper mitts are nice, but I'm not quite sure where they've run off to. The dishcloths are dishcloths, and the baby poncho isn't worth hauling across town. I should take those pieced dresden plates that I still need to applique to the backgrounds squares.

I haven't been feeling at all productive lately. It's a combination of having less time to spend on projects and then spending that time on projects that take forever and a day to finish. I wanted to tackle more ambitious stuff this year, I just didn't realize that it was going to make me feel like I wasn't doing anything.

I blocked Frozen Lake and that scarf that I keep wanting to frog this afternoon so that I'd have something to show on the blog, and figured out what I really like about blocking. It's not forever. If I do a crummy job, I can do better next time. Once I learn how to actually do a good job of it, I can reblock all of my shawls and scarves and whatevers and make them all look the way they should.

I also figured out that I need blocking wires or another good substitute. But I'm too cheap to spend the money on something like that right now.

Oh -- and baby's appointment with the neurologist went well. He doesn't have any symptoms of anything. I could've told them that!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We went up to Woodland Woolworks and I got birthday yarn! There's a skein of laceweight merino waiting to become Gerda, a little cone of laceweight Paris linen waiting to become one of the scarves from Victorian Lace Today, and a skein of Tofutsies waiting to become that sock pattern with the diagonal lines of yarn-overs that go across the top of the foot, as soon as I can either find the copy I printed out or remember the name so I can Google it again! And I got Stahman's Shawls & Scarves, which I've checked out from the library over and over and over again.

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There were a couple of other things I really wanted, but I was distracted by the headache that's been trying to eat through my skull since Friday nigt, a small child who kept darting right between me and the yarn I was trying to look at, and another small child who wanted to discuss the price of lacweight merino and whether she should spend her birthday money on a skein of it and wasn't paying any attention to my answers. So I didn't get the Regia Bamboo or the gorgeous mustardy-yellow Zephyr because I wasn't together enough to figure out how to get it into my arms along with the baby and the other stuff. How pathetic is that?

I absolutely love the yarn that did make it home with us and there's a chance that I'll be able to "fix" my mistake tomorrow if things go well. Was I allowed to buy myself birthday yarn, or does that break the Knit from Your Stash rules? I could count is as yarn that Bill would've bought me if my hands weren't full...

After almost three months of not buying any yarn/fabric/goodies, I'm not going to stress too much about the details!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Look what's finally off the needles -- Frozen Lake! I won't start calling it a finished object until it's blocked (otherwise it'd nevet get blocked), but I'm just about giddy to have made it this far. Between this project and my Swallowtail, I've conquered my fear of triangular shawls! Which, in case you didn't know, was caused by this shawl.

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I am so happy!

Now it's back to Ester, which I'm anxious to finish but not to work on. At the rate I'm going now that I've ditched the cable needle, it'll probably take another twelve hours or so.

Monday, March 19, 2007

When I was working on Besotted, a friend helpfully tried to show me how to cable without a cable needle. It didn't work. The cable did cross, but it was going the wrong direction, and I couldn't handle the idea of knitting the fourth and fifth stitches on my left needle and then somehow knitting the first and second ones. I still can't handle that idea. Maybe someday, but it's going to take something really special to motivate me. I made it through Besotted and a lot of other projects just fine using cable needles and dpns and seaming pins.

But the patterns kept warning me that I really should learn to do it without a needle. And I'd ignore the warning or give up the idea of knitting that particular pattern.

Ester sort of snuck up on me. I got the narrow portion of the back done before it really sunk in how many cable crossings there are actually going to be in it. And then the rows got a lot longer and I decided it was time to take drastic measures.

Did you know that there's more than one way to cable without a cable needle? I think I came across three methods before finding one that didn't make me whimper in fear. I did a little experimenting, a lot of tinking, and quite a few rows later, I'm convinced that it was time to learn this particular bit of knitting magic.

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I can't even tell where I switched methods.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Those new knitting books I reserved at the library are starting to slowly trickle in. There seem to be a couple to pick up every time we drive into town.

One Skein Wonders -- After all of the waiting and longing, this book was a total letdown. I'd leafed through it at the bookstore long enough to decide that I wanted my own copy, but once I actually sat down and read it I changed my mind. There's not one thing in it that made me want to grab my yarn and needles. How's that even possible in a book with 101 patterns? (My ten year old, on the other hand, has already finished one project, started another, and decided to save up for a copy.)

Knitorama -- Lots and lots and lots of patterns for knitted food. I did get the urge to knit a duck for my husband, who collected duck stuff when we first got married, but couldn't figure out the wings.

Knitting With Balls -- I'm obviously not the target audience for this one, and I should know by now that I'm not going to find anything my honey would wear in a book that expects him to knit it himself.

I also didn't find anything I wanted to knit in Yarnplay, Dominitrix (that one was fun to read through and had some good technical information), or The Northampton Wools knitting book....have I mentioned that someone in our library system must really like knitting a lot?

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The big surprise was Knit 2 Together. I had no expectations for this book. But I had a few minutes this afternoon before we had to leave for playgroup and sat down to leaf through it. I'll try to recreate the experience --

The Baby Baseball Tee is cute, but it's got neck buttons....Alex might like the flowered version of First Hat...I have got to make Grownup Bonnet for myself, maybe with that really soft wool that's in the cupboard under the coffee table, maybe I can cast on for it after playgroup...

And, although I know the odds of my knitting a bath mat in this life aren't real high, that Muriwai Bath Mat is even neater than the ones in Mason Dixon Knitting.

The Lacy Hug-Me-Tight is nice...so is the Pimlico Shrug...

But what I Really Must Have for my house is the table skirt. There's an old round bedside table in the barn, if what I remember seeing is the whole thing and not just the base. Bill is not going to understand why I want him to dig it out from under everything else...and there's no good place for it in the house, but I'm sure the sewing room could use little table that will be cute once I knit it a lacy cover...

Hey -- that antique plant stand thingie next to the fireplace has a great base and a scuffed up top. I'm sure it could use a skirt!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

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Every time I get too close to this scarf, I'm tempted to frog it and use the yarn for something else. It's not that I don't like the scarf -- I just really really love that yarn, which was an estate sale find, and of course I didn't save the ball bands, so I don't even know what it was, just that it's a wool/something blend and absolutely yummy.

The thing took me 20some hours to knit, which is the only thing that's saved it for this long. I should at least block it and see what it really looks like before I do anything drastic. But it may not come to that.

I realized this afternoon that the yarn feels an awful lot like Knitpicks Gloss. I can get more of that...someday....when this whole Knit From Your Stash thing is behind me. If expensive things quit happening.

But I think I'm headed for trouble again. That blue cotton sweater I'm tearing apart is made up of some really pretty yarn. I can think of at least three summer tops I could try with it. I've been dying to make all three and not had suitable yarn for any of them. Now I've got to settle on one. (There probably is enough yarn for two, but what would be the point to making two summer tops in identical colors one right after the other?)

Guess I'll think about it while I work on Ester tonight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It wasn't yarn when I brought it home from the thrift store yesterday, but it's yarn now! For the first time ever, I actually managed to unzip the seams instead of picking them apart a stitch at a time. How did that take me so long to figure out? There's still a lot of trial and error, but now I know that it's worth it to hang in there until I find the right bit of yarn.

I measured a stockinette chunk of the sweater -- 4 stitches an inch! -- and swatched, and cast on for Ester earlier this evening.

Yippee!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Does this count as a yarn purchase?

When this knit from your stash thing got started, someone asked if thrift store sweaters counted as yarn. My immediate response was absolutely not. If I couldn't buy any yarn forever and ever, and if other people got to claim that sock yarn didn't count, I was going to let myself paw through the GoodWill bins now and then!

It has been two months, one week, and five days since I bought any yarn or fabric. So whether it's technically cheating or not (and I vote for not), I am not going to feel guilty over the three sweaters I bought for forty-nine cents each this afternoon.

It's not like I went looking for them. With a couple of hours to kill between my emergency trip to the dentist and Alex's karate class, we went into the store hoping to find some of the books I need to fill in the homeschooling curriculum we just bought for the kids. And found two of them in perfect condition for a buck a piece. The kids actually picked out the sweaters -- which are nicer than what I've found in the past.

One is a light green wool/cotton blend and if things go really well, I think the yarn might be the right gauge to knit Ester from the new Knitty. If things go a little less well, it'd be good for a shawl I've been coveting and much nicer than the acrylic that was the best choice from my stash yarn. And if it doesn't work out at all, I only wasted fifty cents.

There are quite a few patterns in the new Knitty that I hope to make, if I ever work up the motivation to start something new.

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, March 12, 2007

For the past few days, there's been a weird smell in the house, especially on the babies. Something like freshly cut wood, but more chemically than that. It's was starting to drive me nuts that I couldn't figure out what it was, especially since it was on my kids!

This morning, I threw in a load of laundry and realized that it's the HE detergent Bill bought for our new washer. I've got another sixty loads worth to use up before I try to convince him to never ever ever buy Gain again. And he was trying to help me out, because the only stuff I could find was Tide which I've refused to go near since I had a bloody allergic reaction to it years ago. And I can't use the stuff I do like because the new washer is finicky.

It's been one of those mornings. I woke up with the same headache I went ot bed with, then the medicine for my head made me want to puke, the carbon monoxide detector started chirping because it wants a new battery. And my knee's been throbbing because my buddy and I didn't walk this week. So I found the tire pump, got the double jog stroller set up for the first time since Heath was a baby (the tires are constantly going flat and I don't do tire pumps) and the kids and I headed up the hill.

There was a furry black and white animal chewing on something in the field by the side of the road. I thought it was a cat I hadn't seen before, but it didn't look right. So I told the kids to stay put and got close enough to see the stripes. Told the kids to be very very quiet or I would murder them and then to come over one at a time to look at the skunk.

So they're all excited about the wildlife and I'm wondering if it wasn't just pointed out to me that my kids and their clothes could smell a whole lot worse.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chest Freezer Diving

DH said we should start using up the stuff in the chest freezer. It was so full I had to weight down the top to keep it closed a couple of times, but that's what happens when both of us go to Costco on the same day and come home with a bunch of the same stuff. So for the past couple of weeks I've been rummaging around in there and hauling stuff into the kitchen freezer (kind of like what I do with the yarn and fabric stashes) and now it's only half full.

Last night, I was digging down to the very bottom because I knew there was a turkey breast down there. It turned out to be under two big paper bags of yarn. One I remember putting in there, but was sure I'd taken out. The other one I'm not so sure about. But it has to be mine, right? Now that all of the yarn is out, there's lots of room for groceries.

And there's a good explanation for a freezer full of yarn I don't remember. Grandma goes to the auction to buy furniture for her antique shop and find cheap yarn. Some of it's very nice cheap yarn, some is usable cheap yarn, and some is crappy cheap yarn that I try to foist off on the kids. Because I don't know where's it's been, it all goes straight into the freezer for a couple of days, just in case.

Last week, she brought over a box with seven or eight skeins of white and pale blue worsted weight wool. It looks nice enough, but I couldn't think of a thing to do with it. That little moment of absolute stupidity has passed and as soon as I can figure out how to keep the kids occupied, I'm going to break out the food coloring and plastic wrap. I see colorful diaper soakers in Leif's future.

Even though I'm not making a whole lot of progess on anything but Frozen Lake, I found something else to think about knitting -- scroll down about half way to see the Argosy baby blanket. I want one, and Kay says there's a free pattern coming. There's already a dishcloth version, so I printed it out to see if I really do like the design enough to do something big. And the Wedgie Scarf looks like it could be fun, too.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I've lost track -- this is either my 3rd or 4th attempt at Frozen Lake, and I finally get it!!! My rows of yo's and decreases line up just the way they should. If someone talks to me and I lose count, I can look at the stitches and figure out if I'm supposed to be decreasing or yarn-overing or just knitting.

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Why was this so impossible a couple of months ago?
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