Thursday, May 31, 2007

Leif has decided that if the sky is even beginning to lighten, he must get up. Do you know how early the sky starts to lighten? I don't, but if I can struggle for an eternity trying to coax him back to bed and it's still only six am when I finally give up and haul us both out into the front room, it must be pretty darn early.

Early mornings do way more damage to Mommy's sanity than late knitting nights. And if they keep up, I'll be falling asleep two seconds after the kids and won't be able to have any more late knitting nights. I don't think I like this!

But he does make up for it by being so darn cute at the park. He scares the other mommies. I guess they look at him and see a baby half his age. Because they all need to get my attention and warn me that he's climbing.

I've been watching him do it for a couple of weeks now, and he's pretty darn good at it. If he wasn't at the park climbing everything in sight, I'm afraid to think what he'd be trying to climb at home.

I love the park.



Stash Dent Update

I'm not buying yarn until I use up 5000 grams of what I've already got. My vague plan was to use 500 grams of yarn a month. I've knitted up more than 1000 grams of yarn in the past thirty days, not counting at least 150 grams I had to frog. How did I do that?! I don't think I did an excessive amount of knitting. There were a few days I didn't even knit at all. I may be able to buy more yarn sooner than I expected.

That's good because I want to knit A Cardigan For Merry before Leif gets too big to wear it. The pattern calls for Knitpicks Andean Treasure. I'm not going to turn a toddler in a baby alpaca cardigan loose at the park. I've got some Wool-Ease sport that I could use, but I really did have other plans for that yarn. Knitpicks Telemark is the right gauge, I've been wanting to make a project with it, and they've got twelve brand new colors, all of them absolutely gorgeous...and while I was typing that, I realized that I do have some other nice sport weight acrylic in my stash. Dug it out and it's a prettier color than I remembered, but 100 yards less than I need for the cardigan.

So I'll be waiting for the Telemark.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Picovoli?



I sure hope it is, but I'll feel more confident once there's enough of it done to try on. I swatched, but it was hard to count those multi-colored little stitches and swatches do lie...and I've had to frog way too many necklines lately.



The ballet top is done and I love it. I added a few stitches to the cast on to make it looser -- which actually worked, despite the fact that I did it late at night and without actual measurements. I left off the waist shaping because it seemed like a waste of effort to shape a curved waist for a waist that doesn't actually curve.

Pattern: Ballet Top from Loop de Loop by Teva Durham
Yarn: Tahki Stacy Charles Koko - 4 balls
Needles: Denise 10 1/2

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
I'm one block short and out of red




Those last four monkey wrench blocks -- I actually needed five. And didn't discover that until yesterday afternoon when the baby was napping in his crib, the other three were playing pirates in a bedroom, and I laid the whole thing out so I could assemble it while no one was stampeding across the living room floor.

I resisted the temptation to make the whole quilt a row shorter and dug out the last of the blue background fabric, found another print to use for the scrappy corners, and stole some red from the fabric I just bought for the binding to make the last block. And I did manage to get it all put together before the screaming pirates descended on me.



Now, I've got three more little monkeys to finish. I'm not loving the fusible applique. There's actually a whole lot about this quilt I don't love, but I'm going to finish the thing come Hell or high water.

Tonight's plan -- more rounds of the ballet top. It should be just about long enough by now.

Monday, May 28, 2007

manhat


I finished the Mythological Man Hat. It's not the cutest hat ever, but it was a fun little project and Heath and Quinn have been fighting over it for two days, so I guess I should knit another one. I'm hoping to try Maze from Knitty, in acrylic because that's what I've got.

Oh, and remember the list? The last four blocks for the sock monkey quilt got pieced, the hat is done, Briar Rose is done, and I can probably finish the ballet top tonight if that's what I decide to work on.

So I'm making a new list.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Apparently, I can just sit here and happily crank out acrylic sweaters for my kidlets one after another. Here's the latest, the Briar Rose Raglan.


briar rose raglan


Pattern -- The cables are from Briar Rose, added to a raglan I came up with after measuring some of Alex's favorite tops. The picot bind-off is from Knitting on the Edge.
Yarn -- 2 skeins Caron Simply Soft, Papaya
Needles -- Denise size 8 circular, Lion Brand size 8 dpns

The yarn had been sitting in my stash for about two years. I picked it up at WalMart after seeing a pattern for a lacy poncho in Creative Knitting and tucked it away so no one would notice I'd been shopping (and spent a whole four bucks -- doesn't that make sense? But I immediately forgot where it was and by the time it turned up again, the lunacy had faded and I didn't want to knit that particular poncho anymore and didn't know what to do with the yarn.

So it sat. I didn't think there was enough to make a sweater for Alex. And now I'm wondering how this sweater ever got started if I was so sure there wasn't enough yarn...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

There was a plan. I even had a list --

finish the Briar Rose raglan
finish last four blocks of the sock money quilt
cast on a mythological man hat
maybe do some more knitting on Alex's ballet top

I took the raglan to the park and, because Leif fell asleep on the way, there was nothing I could do but sit in the grass next to my sleeping baby while the bigger kids played. I got a few rounds done before he woke up and a few more rounds done while he was sitting next to me and trying to figure out where he was and how he'd gotten there. I did a few more rows and half of the picot bind off during Alex's karate class, so that should be easy to finish tonight.

The squares for the monkey quilt will be more of a challenge, since I don't remember where I left the fabric. Or the book. But they can't have gotten far.

I found some orange and brown Super Saver for the hat -- the most "petroglyphy" stuff I seem to have in my stash. If I keep raiding the log cabin blanket yarn for other projects until I run out, does that mean the blanket is done?

And the ballet top is just happily there. I know I can finish it in a single long evening, all that's left to do is make it longer, and I was looking for something else on my Elann order history and discovered that I've actually got six balls of the yarn instead of the four I thought I had, so I don't even have to worry about running out of yarn.

BUT

I did a search for the ballet top and found a link to Picovoli, and followed it just to see if I could use the yarn I'd thought about using for it a long time ago. And one of the substitutions listed is Shine Twist. There was a split second when I wondered what Shine Twist was before I realized that I've got some -- and maybe, just maybe, it's enough to make Picovoli with that and now I've got to go ransack the sewing room.

And while I was looking for the link to the hat pattern, I saw the intriguingly named Bear Claw Scarfette and fell instantly in love. I don't have enough of the first yarn that leaped into my mind, but I do have enough of the dark brown Super Kydd...

So who knows what I'll be working on tonight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Last year at Oregon Flock and Fiber, I saw some old treadle sewing machine bases hooked up to spinning wheel parts and mentioned to my grandma that if she came across a cheap enough one at the auctions I could use it. She had one in the back room of the antique mall already that she'd picked up at the auction for and asked if I'd want it for Christmas.

I said yes, and it was a couple of months before I saw a blurry picture of it on her cell phone. A few weeks after that, my mother called and asked if I'd been down to the shop to look at it because it was really "rough" and she didn't think I knew what I'd agreed to. I don't think there's such a thing as a treadle sewing machine too rough for me to want it. Too rough for me to pay what a lot of the antique stores want, sure, but I was only really after the treadle part and if it was that bad, it could live on the enclosed front porch and be a plant stand. This was before the rooster and two geese took up residence out there.

treadle sewing machine


It was a few more weeks before I saw my new toy up close and personal. It has little drawers down the sides and decorative carving and there's a MACHINE in it. Grandma had asked if I wanted her to take the machine out because it was frozen up and worthless, but I told her I'd like to play around with it -- so she oiled it and fiddled with it and it looks like it might actually work if we can find a bobbin...which she thinks she has in a box somewhere.

I guess she hadn't even meant to bid on it, and now I've got a real treadle sewing machine that I would've lusted after if I'd seen it in an antique store. It's got dings and scrapes and a couple of rings where someone must've kept plants on top of it, but if it was in pristine condition it wouldn't be so perfect for our old farmhouse.

She finally made it down to the old farmhouse this morning, and I'm tempted to spend a couple of hours just sitting and drooling over her. Or knit a doily to cover her up with. Grandma sent a doily, but this gorgeous thing needs something made just for her. I should quilt a table runner -- much more practical, since I've never made a doily.

Yes, I've gone ga-ga over a piece of furniture.

I'm also smitten with a book I brought home from the library last week, Family Ties Old Quilt Patterns From New Cloth by Nancilu Butler Burdick. It's full of patterns based on the quilts made by Talula Gilbert Bottoms, the author's grandmother. Between 1870s and 1945, she made more than 200 quilts.

Only a few of the pictures in this book are of her originals, but there are brief bits about how she made hers and what became of them. Some were packed away the moment she died. One is being used by a descendant to cover the washer and dryer on her back porch.

There's another book about her life that apparently does have pictures of her stuff. The stupid library doesn't have a copy, and of course it's out of print. I found one online last night, but the shipping rates made me hesitate. But I found one on Ebay this morning for $8, with cheaper shipping! And it's on its way to me now.

For a couple of months, I've been having urges to learn how to piece curves and these quilts are absolutely full of them. And I've got those big bags of scraps from Grandma... It was meant to be.

But mom showed up with this --



And now I can't decide what's calling to me loudest. Did I mention that lace and those socks?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Those late nights of knitting have started to add up.



Both tops are done except for the bodies. The little ballet top is just straight stockinette until I run out of yarn, and the Briar Rose raglan needs another inch or two of stockinette and then more ribbing and cables. Not a seam anywhere in their futures, just a couple of ends to weave in. I can do that!

If I can finish both by the end of the month I'll have knit up about fifty dollars worth of yarn. That's encouraging -- maybe really I do need to buy as much yarn as I do! Or, more likely, it's a weird month where I'm using up stuff I paid too much for.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Finally, this sweater is worth showing a picture of!



I really liked the cables on the sleeves and hem of Briar Rose, but my first thought was why not make it a top down raglan? Lately I've had good luck with those. And bad luck with seams.

Alex's current favorite top is a raglan with a wide neckline and 3/4 sleeves, a style which would make my 600some yards of yarn more likely to be enough, so I measured the neck and sleeves and figured out my gauge and cast on.

Neckline #1 was a stupid disaster. I don't know how it took me quite so long to realize that, but I should've noticed a lot sooner than I did.

Neckline #2 was slightly less of a disaster and it took me just as long to see the danger signs. If not longer. I wasn't willing to frog the whole thing again, so I kept going until I had a sleeve done and then tried to wrestle it into submission.

It took me until way past midnight, but the neck just fine now, Instead of a gaping, curling, stockinette monstrosity, there's ribbing that looks exactly like it should.

It won't slide down over her shoulders and drop to the ground! And I'm pretty sure I'm going to have enough yarn to finish the rest of it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I think I'm in trouble....

I don't even remember what I was Googling for when I stumbled across the Lace Shawl KAL and the Mountain Lace KAL, but from there I found out about the Lacy Lattice Stole and the Seraphim Shawl and the Diamond Fantasy Shawl and got reminded of the Hidcote Garden Shawl and my poor little brain is now overflowing with lace fantasies. Not that it wasn't overflowing before...

Aside from all of the other lace --and quilts and sweaters and everything else -- I've been trying to resist Cookie A's 2007 Sock Collection. I don't need more patterns for socks and shawls. I've got a huge stack of patterns that I'm dying to knit.

But I really want to add those shawls and socks to my list. Almost as much as I'm wanting More Sensational Knitted Socks and Alison Hyde's upcoming book.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I didn't realize until this morning that I forgot to write about the incident that sparked yesterday's little anti-heirloom rant. (And I'm not against heirlooms, I'm against the attitude that everything we make should be treated like a precious treasure destined to be passed down through the ages.)

A friend had asked if I had a picture of my Swallowtail shawl and I responded that I take pictures of all of my FOs before something happens to them. Not two hours later, Heath wore his new sweater to the park and was sloshing around in the stream looking for neat rocks. And throwing mud at his buddies, who of course threw mud back at him. We mommies did quickly put an end to that game, but only because we didn't want the muck in our cars.

string bag


And, speaking of things that aren't destined to be heirlooms, my Turkish String Bag is done. I like it well enough, and I might do another one someday, but if I do, I'll use much cheaper yarn. This really shouldn't have been a $20 project. What sounds kind of tempting is to get a cone of Peaches n Cream at WalMart and knit up a bunch of matching ones for the groceries, but I think that's just the part of me that'll jump at absolutely any reason to buy more yarn talking.

Pattern: Turkish String Bag
Yarn: 2 1/2 skeins all hemp HEMP6
Needles: Denise size 13

I think tonight's plan is to work on the new sweater and see if my plan to salvage the neckline will actually work. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'm not slaving over future heirlooms here.

sampler


There's a lot of advice floating around about how to make sure the handknits will last down to the grandkids -- knit for the older kids so things can be handed down to the littler ones...knit it in a neutral color...knit it in a classic style...and then there's that trick about doing the button bands on a cardigan so the buttons can be switched from the girl side to the boy side.

The quilts are supposed to be wrapped in acid-free tissue, carefully taken out and refolded every few months to prevent creases from weakening the fibers....the needlework is supposed to be kept out of direct light...and appraised in case the house burns down and it's destroyed...

I don't do any of that. I want to knit and quilt and stitch a whole bunch of stuff and if it all lasts forever, sooner or later the house will be full. My heroine is a lady who posted to the knitlist ages ago that she sends her kids out to play in their sweaters so she'll have an excuse to knit more of them.

Were the farm wives who made all of those wonderful feedsack quilts stressing out over how many years the fabric would last? And look at how many of those are still around and in decent shape.

My favorite heirlooms are the accidental ones. The tole painted daisies my mom was getting rid of because she'd done the same painting for herself, her mother, and my father's mother, and they've all come back to her. Which are now at my house because I want at least one example of what she spent so many years doing. The sock monkey Grandma Walters made. The honey jar my Grandma Marr made that sat on her kitchen counter for decades, unused because she accidentally glazed the top to the base.

Hopefully some of my projects do survive longer than I do -- and please let them be good ones, not the ones I keep hoping will get lost or melted in the dryer or eaten by wild animals.

I can imagine the sampler as an heirloom, but not unless I break down and spend the money to have it framed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's an H!

sweater


The big goal for this sweater was that it be roomy and bulletproof. I think I succeeded on both counts -- especially the bulletproof part. This is the plastic-iest Red Heart Supersaver I've worked with in a while. I had to drag four kids into three different stores to get the color I wanted and by the time I found it, I never even thought to touch the stuff. (The texture really can vary a lot from skein to skein.) By the time I got it home and felt it, I wasn't going back. Hopefully it'll soften up in the wash. If it doesn't, Heath won't care.

And it's just roomy enough. Halfway through the back, I started to really worry that it was going to be too huge. I came so close to making the whole thing a few inches shorter.... And that would have been bad, because my son refuses to admit when he's outgrown any article he likes. And he likes this.

Pattern: It's sort of this. With different yarn, a different gauge, and different construction. I did follow the chart for the H.
Yarn: 3 skeins Red Heart Super Saver -- although looking at my leftovers, I think I only actually used 2 skeins worth. I borrowed the brown from my log cabin blanket. Guess I should put it back before I forget where it came from and it gets mixed in
with something else.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007



Look what I slogged my way through last night -- two Weasley sweater sleeves, the same length and with matching decreases. And a few more rounds of my Turkish String Bag. And the cast on and first few rows of a Rabbit Proof Scarf. I spent four hours with a couple of DVDs and my knitting spread out across the couch, switching back and forth between projects whenever I felt like it. I didn't plan to work on the sleeves at all, but at one poitn I wanted to keep my eyes on the movie instead of my needles and before I kenw it, there were only ten more rows to go.

Open Water 2 was actually pretty good. The Marsh wasn't worth the dollar I spent to rent it, unless you count the white cables that the heroine kept wearing. I counted at least three different sweaters and a wide scarf thing with a wooden button in the front. I guess it would technically be a stole of a shawl, but it had more of a scarfy feel to it. I want one, but mine won't be white and mine will have prettier cables and less fringe.

Between the movies and the knitting, I had to force myself to finally put the yarn away and go to bed at 2am. Then I laid awake and worried about which sweater to cast on next. Until the baby woke up at 2:15. And again at 5:00.

I did get a little more sleep and woke up later knowing exactly what I want to work on next. But I think I'm too tired to swatch.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Diane made an organic cotton cotton shopping bag, which reminded me of that red hemp I bought a couple of years ago when I was so sure I wanted to knit a stretchy string bag. I'd gotten all excited about a pattern and spent some time tracking down the exact yarn it called for. I don't know why -- I never go out and buy the exact yarn a pattern calls for.

But this time I was determined to have the hemp, and it had to be red. I ordered four skeins so I could make the large size, because bags should be large. The yarn aged in my stash for a while before I cast on and discovered that the stupid pattern wanted me to cast on a whole bunch of stitches and join them so I could knit the whole bag in the round and then sew up the bottom later. I wasn't going to do that. A seam at the bottom of a big stretchy bag sounded like a very bad idea.

So my pretty red hemp sat and aged some more. And then Diane made her bag and I thought about digging it out again, and a string bag knitalong got started, and I read stories about knitters churning them out like they were ballband warshrags or something and the hemp was exactly where I thought it would be and now I'm knitting a bag.

Monday, May 07, 2007

There's a word for what I've been doing for the past few days. I've been slogging -- doesn't that sound nice and productive? Until I found out I was slogging, I thought I was just spending a lot of time getting nowhere.



I signed up for the Mason Dixon Slogalong hoping that it would motivate me to finally make some progress on the Alterknits wrap, but what's got me totally bogged down right now are the sleeves for Heath's Weasley Sweater. I tried twice to pick up the stitches the way the pattern told me to, then decided to work the sleeves separately so I could do them both at the same time and have the decreases and lengths match. Good idea, but it's taking so miserably long to see any progress that I'm rapidly losing my enthusiasm.

The back went quickly because I was anxious to start the front. The front was entertaining, because it had that great big intarsia H to deal with. The tops of the sleeves have the same number of stitches as the body, so it's taking me twice as long to see the same amount of progress.

This is why I usually try to do sleeves first. Because sleeves are boring and they have decreases to keep track of and I'd rather get them out of the way while I'm still all excited about a project. And they're usually narrow, so they make good swatches if I knit one at a time.

I'll keep going because I do have hopes of finishing before it gets too hot outside for Heath to wear it. If I manage an inch or two a night, the whole thing will be behind me soon. Except for the seams. I'm not excited about those, either. Seams never excite me.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Caron Simply Soft is one of my favorite cheap box store yarns, so their new Simply Soft Shadows intrigued me. When I was at Michaels and had an extra 40% off coupon, I picked a up a skein. I think I was going to try to knit Calorimetry out of it.

Then I met the hugely pregnant lady who runs the nursery at our new church. How could I not decide to knit something for a mommy-to-be wearing a nametag on her belly?

cardi


It's a modified Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono, based on the changes described here. I added a little bit of garter stitch at the cuffs because I didn't like the way the ones on Leif's kimono came out. It only took an evening and a half to knit and when I bound off there was just enough yarn left in the skein to sew up the seams. I still can't believe I didn't run out.

The yarn is a little nicer to the touch than regular Simply Soft, and I love the muted striping effect. But I'm not sure I'd invest in enough skeins for a big project.

I finished the seams in the church parking lot this morning, took a picture of it on the front seat, and handed it to the mommy-to-be shortly before she left for the hospital.




This is what 5000 grams of yarn looks like --

aqua 008


It's not the 5000 grams I'll be knitting my dent out of. I had a picture of the acrylic, but then I re-weighed the bag and realized that it was actually sixteen pounds, not twelve. The scale was on the carpet the first time I weighed it. The bag of sock yarn weighed about the right amount, so it's what I took a picture of.

I've been working on the details --

If I knit up at least 500 grams of yarn a month, it'll only take me until the end of next February. I can go through 100 grams of worsted weight in an extremely productive day, or 50 grams in a more reasonable evening. So that makes five or ten days a month of actually using up yarn. And leaves at least twenty days to quilt or play with laceweight or sock yarn. Or not do anything at all. And I'll still manage to finish before the end of time.

I will knit from my stash, but I can buy new yarn or knitting books to celebrate significant FO's or weight loss. Christmas yarn, or yarn bought with Christmas money, doesn't count. Auction yarn, or any other yarn that falls into my lap, does not count. Thrift store sweaters only count if I go actively looking for them. Garage sale yarn -- oh, I don't know! It's not like I'm not gonna cheat.

If my weighing and guessing and calculating is anywhere near accurate, 5000 grams is about 10% of my stash. It'd be equal to 100 skeins of yarn, if I didn't use so much cheap acrylic. Doesn't that sound like a lot? Enough to be considered a huge dent? I'm using grams instead of yards or skeins because it's the most accurate way I can think of to measure how much yarn I'm actually using.

Oh, and if anyone wants to do this with me, I'd love the company!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I've been happily planning how I might actually knit a dent in my stash, coming up with a plan of attack that should work -- besides the obvious "start knitting and don't stop until you're done" approach. I made one last purchase before promising myself not to buy any more yarn for as long as I can stand it....and I'm already in trouble!

Monday night, I placed what was meant to be my last yarn order for at least a couple of months. I got yarn for the Reversible Lace Rib Shrug With Swing Shaping, which I've been intrigued by since they first posted the pattern months ago, yarn for the Pacific Waves Shawl in Rose Garden, which I've been drooling over for a couple weeks, and five skeins of Calista for that version of the Luna Moth Shawl.

Every single time I place a Knitpicks or Elann order and swear I won't order more yarn anytime soon, they immediately come out with yummy stuff that I can barely live without. It's the way the world works, and I was prepared for it. But I wasn't at all happy when I got my yarn order Friday morning and saw the Peruvian Baby Lace Merino that's going to become available on the 8th. Six hundred yards of 50% Baby Alpaca/ 50% Fine Merino for $4.48! If I'd waited just a couple more days, I could've made Gerda in pink

sigh

Why didn't I think to look at the sneak peeks before placing my order?!

I do love the yarn I ordered, especially the Calista, but it would've been so easy to add another $4 skein of yarn or two or three to the total.

It's not the end of the world. I could spend the rest of my birthday money from Mom and Dad (birthday yarn does not by any stretch of the imagination count as cheating against knitting from my stash or knitting a dent, or whatever it is I'm supposedly doing). I could cheat. Or I could wait until I've finished a big project and celebrate with laceweight.

The Pacific Waves Shawl is big...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

So, how long do you think it would take to knit a substantial dent in my yarn stash?

As of last night, I'm trying to find out. The plan is to weigh my finished projects on the kitchen scale and keep track of how much yarn I'm actually using and how long it takes me to knit up 5000 grams.

It should be interesting. I'm afraid it might be downright scary to find out how little yarn I use compared to how much I buy.
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