Monday, November 28, 2005

Thankful

Well I for one am thankful to be home! Spent the weekend dragging the kid around to see most of my immediate family. It wasn't like all of the individual parts weren't fun, but it seemed like I tried to cram too much fun into one weekend. Of course she dragged herself through all of the weekend activities and then didn't want to go to school this morning because she didn't feel well, but with no fever, I packed her off. The nurse hasn't called me yet to come get her so I assume she is managing - mean mommy!

On the knitting front, I did manage to get two more hats finished for the charity of my choice - haven't decided where to send them yet as there are so many options, but they are very pretty and very finished - all good. I am on knitted washcloth number three (I think I have seven total to make by the middle of the month to send for Christmas gifts), and when there was too much family noise for me to concentrate on a knitting pattern, I got a little bit of spinning done with the drop spindle. And managed not to stab anyone with its lovely ebony shaft - yay me :-)

In the course of the weekend madness, I dropped in on a new-to-me yarn store, Yarn Over Ewe in Lebanon, PA. Very nice place, and I bought some fluffy chenille yarn to make a skirt for the kid - she LOVES knitted or crocheted skirts. She was with me, so she picked out the colors - three shades of blue. The pattern was written by the store owner, and she gave me a copy with the yarn purchase, and I always appreciate free patterns! She had intended it to be a child's poncho, but agreed that it worked as a skirt too.

I also came home to a very nice note from the state Project Linus chapter, letting me know that they had received my most recent blanket donation, and that it was going to a cancer center for their holiday drive. I love when they are able to tell me what group is going to get my blankets - I always feel good just sending a blanket off, but it just adds to the warm fuzzies getting that extra bit of info.

Two more days for Knit Unto Others (see button on my sidebar), I want to try and finish a scarf I have on the needles for Dulaan, and I have enough mohair for three more cloud hats, although I don't expect to get all three done this week - I do have to work a little bit, even if I don't feel like it!

Off to clean the office, which is sort of like work, then unload all the crud from my car and do the weekend's laundry.

Happy back to the schedule for all of those who, like me, were sort of put off by the long weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Compulsive Knitting

First, some photos of the blankie I finished for Project Linus, it was the Corner to Corner blanket from Storey's Knit Baby Blankets! book, in a variegated Red Heart yarn. Yeah, I know, Red Heart, but it was pretty and PL likes acrylic.



That one goes in the mail today, after I get back from seeing Harry Potter!


Here we have the cloud hat I mentioned for Dulaan, the largest fuzzy foot in the world (it's for me and I wanted it to felt to a thick fabric - made of a farm-raised mohair blend that I had in the stash, and the blue is Grace by Lorna's Laces), and the first of what I suspect will be many cotton chenille washcloths that I intend to give as gifts. The washcloth is Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille, the pattern is a two-toned version of the washcloth pattern in Weekend Knitting. All of my friends with new babies, and the editors who gave me work, and the sources who went above and beyond the call of duty are getting these with bars of pretty soap for the holidays.

But now I have to do some actual work, I fooled around with yarn (or shopping for yarn) pretty much all weekend...well after I get back from the movie I will work....maybe....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Knitting Whisperer....

So last Sunday night I was sitting in my very messy living room, surrounded by my daughter's craft supplies and a fine layer of dust, in denial about the whole thing and happily knitting away on the Gryffindor Fuzzy Feet - when the doorbell rings. At the door is a complete stranger, holding a knitting bag. "I totally messed this up, I don't know what I did, and the yarn store isn't open until Tuesday PLEASE can you help me?" said the stranger. So of course I bit the bullet and invited her in.

How did the stranger find me? Remember the Halloween post when I said I had taken my knitting outside to relax and hand out treats? This woman's daughter came trick or treating at my house and commented to her father that I knit "just like Mommy does". He and I exchanged a laugh and said I should meet his wife some day. Apparently, the lack of knitting was driving her so crazy that she would rather knock on my door than have to wait 36 more knit-less hours - and I have to say I respect that.

Other than the fact that I was completely humiliated about the state of my house, it was actually kind of fun. I saw instantly the error she had made, frogged a few rows, and got her back on the right track very quickly. My daughter took it upon herself to do a show and tell on all the cool things I had made for her - the poor woman didn't know that she was in for a fashion show when she knocked! She turned out to be a very nice person who lives on my block, and the next day I dropped off a bunch of patterns and books for her to look at. End of story, or so I thought.

Thursday I went into the LYS to pick up some Lamb's Pride in green for yet another pair of FFs for holiday giving (for biggest big sister, who also doesn't read this blog). The owner of the store wanders out of her office and said she heard I was now giving lessons in my living room! Turns out the neighbor had gone into the LYS the day before to buy some yarn for one of the patterns I had given her and told the owner the whole story. So now it is urban legend in my small knitting community - drive-by knit-fixing on demand.

The Knitting Whisperer - I kind of like it...

Finished my Project Linus blanket, and a cloud hat that should probably go into the Dulaan box since I snagged a hat that was already there to send to Indiana for that knitting drive. Love the cloud hat pattern, although I must knit much more loosely than Ms. Ryan so will have to make it a bit smaller next time. My local AC Moore is having a huge sale on Patons Divine, so I can bang a bunch of these out pretty quickly.

At the risk of offending my wool-devoted sisters in knitting, I am coming out of the closet right now and saying I am using up some acrylic that was laying around for these hats. I know the A word is a dirty one in most knitting circles, but the fact of the matter is the hat looks just fine with the acrylic, and the more stash yarn I can use, the more charity knitting I can do. Like most knitters, my yarn budget is finite, and a LOT of it just went for Christmas gift yarn. I use the good stuff when I have it, but have been known - horror of horrors - to use cheap yarn on things for the kid. I just don't feel like I need to use merino or alpaca all the time when I know that there will be grape juice spilled on it someday. There, I said it, I feel so much better now :-)

Photos tomorrow of all the finished goodies, that Knit Unto Others knitalong really has me on a tear.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gifting away...

Here are the orange and red fuzzy feet after felting. The person who got them for her birthday LOVED them - she kept pulling them out of the bag to pet them while we were driving to lunch. Don't you just love it when you give someone something and they just get it? They get that you put thought into it, that you made it, that it is special? I always hate when I buy someone a gift and it fizzles, but I really hate it when I make something and they don't like it. I had a great time making these, but I had the best time watching her reaction - she was just so darn pleased that it made me happy too.

Of course, what would also make me happy right now was if I had a pair of fuzzy feet of my very own - but not yet. I went stash diving to see if there was anything fabulous, but there either wasn't enough, or it wasn't exactly what I wanted. I have plenty of maroon Paton's Classic left - the same yarn as my first pair, but I like the way the red/orange ones felted more because they had mohair in them. I have no business buying any more wool this week, so we will see in another day or so if I give in and get some more Lamb's Pride, or give up and use stash yarn - stay tuned!



This is a hat I had made and put in the Dulaan box, then got worried because it was cotton and I was afraid it wouldn't be warm enough for deepest darkest Mongolia. I even put a fleece lining in the top for extra warmth. Well, when I heard about the collection for those who lost their homes in the tornado in Indiana, I figured it was problem solved. I pulled the hat, made a double moss stitch scarf out of the last of that yarn, and just put it in an envelope to be mailed. I think for Dulaan I will stick to wool in the future.

If you are interested in either Dulaan or a charity knitalong, there are buttons on my right sidebar. Thank for those who emailed me with instructions on how to put those up there properly.

Having finally made all of my November deadlines, I immediately broke into a dead panic that I didn't have enough writing work lined up for the rest of the year! Can't win, can ya - either feast or famine! Thankfully, I got in a query-writing mode and got some new ideas circulating, then one of my regular editors emailed me with another assignment, so I calmed down a bit. Also trying to catch up on all the administrative stuff that I put off when I am busy - filing, cleaning out photo files, etc. Not thrilling, but I will be happy with the results when I am finished.

Off to go back to work on the web site, I have two pages of the new gift guide up, but 3-4 more pages to go.

Happy knitting...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Stupid Button Question

I finally got the Fuzzy Feet Knitalong button on the sidebar where I wanted it - yay me!

I want to add a button for Dulaan and one for a charity knitalong that I just joined but I can't figure out how to do it. In both cases is says the button has to be saved to my own server - that's the part I can't figure out. Anyone want to explain this to me? I now know where the code goes, and it isn't like I don't have bandwidth - I have two websites in addition to this blog. I just can't figure out the steps in the process.

I would appreciate any direction anyone can give me.

The Gryffindor Fuzzy Feet (as I have taken to calling them) are just about dry so I will photograph them later tonight - they get gifted tomorrow. Finishing up a blanket for Project Linus that I am sick of looking at - just want to get that finished. Then back to Christmas knitting.

I did make a little cyber drive-by to Elann today and bought some alpaca/silk fingering weight for a shawl I want to make from the Wrap Style book. But I doubt I will have the nerve to cast that on until after the holidays with all the projects I have started! Maybe that will be the project I obsessively knit while visiting the immediate family so I don't kill them over the holidays! In fact, it might be done on Thanksgiving!

Back to the web site - working on a nice gift list for knitters piece - the first two selections are up, but I am still plugging away at the rest - will let you know when it is finished.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Photos, finally

So here are the promised photos - the chunky hooded sweater that the kid liked so much she wore it two days running - how is that for knitterly gratification? The front, she didn't want her face on the blog, and who could blame her? :-)
Fuzzy Feet Pair 2 - pre-felting. Just took them out of the washing machine and they felted beautifully, although as I said in a previous post, they do have a sort of Gryffindor air about them.
Jiffy Grip on the original pair of Feet -
And a close up - those dots look like they will work a good long time, although other's have been more creative with fabric paint!
That is it for photos today. Will post a picture of the new fuzzies when they have dried. I see a lot of traffic here coming from the Fuzzy Feet Knitalong page - thanks for dropping by!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

More Fuzzy Feet!

So I got carried away with the whole fuzzy feet idea since the first pair came out so nicely. I went to the fabric store and bought a sheet of Jiffy-Grip - white flannel fabric with rubber dots applied to it in nice even rows. The owner of my new favorite LYS says that she prefers the whole paint on the soles with fabric paint thing because it was more creative, but my theory is, when the Jiffy Grip wears out I can replace it quickly. And the extra layer of fabric might make the soles wear longer. I like to sew so no harm done there, I already added it to the finished pair, and put them in the "finished items for holiday giving" box.

While I was at the LYS I bought a few skeins of Lamb's Pride worsted for the next two folks on my list. My neighbor who saw and coveted the first pair I made is a sucker for reds and oranges, so I bought one of each to make her a pair of feet. Now that the first one is knit, they have a sort of Gryffindor air about them, but I am hoping that calms down a bit when they are felted, and if not, well she likes Harry Potter too. Then a pair for me, by gosh, probably out of the Patons I made the first pair out of (in the interest of using up some of what's laying in the stash). Then I got some hot pink Lamb's Pride for the kid.

I know, no photos today is boring, but I will try and do some tomorrow. Kid had a dance competition today at the crack of dawn, so she is recovering from an adrenaline hangover, and I am just plain tired. Tomorrow I want to finish up the edits on the last article I have with a November deadline (yay me!), and maybe work on the big holiday round-up article I am doing for the knitting web site.

Just wanted to say hello - I am pleased by how many readers I seem to have acquired recently - thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Now that I have the hang of the pictures


These are the way cool socks I mentioned earlier that I finished last week. It is the free toes-up pattern that I found on Elann.com. I did most of the work on the planes to and from Finland I had to take a few weeks ago - that is some LONG hours of flying! 5 flights over the course of a week on that trip, the sock needles made it through security each time, yet one over-excited Finnair flight attendant wigged out and made me put them away. Thankfully that was the shortest part of the trip, and there was less than an hour left of the flight at that point.

I still haven't managed to make identical twins, only fraternal ones, but I still don't happen to care all that much either - close enough for me!

The stash, post stash-busting and organizing. I bought about half of those boxes on a trip to IKEA and my friend (who knows about my obsessive yarn habits) kept telling me I didn't have enough of them. Sadly, she was right, and I went back a second time to get more boxes. They are all pretty full, but not so stuffed that I can't find anything. Of course, I keep thinking I have all of the yarn in the stash, then I keep finding more - it's everywhere, it breeds! I originally wanted a more open system so I could peer at my heart's content at the more interesting skeins, but we have a moth problem here, so I think this is better.

I also finished a sweet chunky hooded sweater in pink and yellow for my daughter last night. I had knit all of the pieces last winter, then procrastinated about finishing it. I found it when I was going through all the yarn bags. She wore it to school today, she LOVES when I make something for her. I have all of the materials put away for a purple fuzzy scarf and a black chenille skirt to give her for Christmas, thankfully she doesn't read this blog so I can chat about it here.

I decided my fuzzy feet were still a wee bit too big now that they are completely dry, so this pair goes to Mom for Christmas, and the next pair are for me. My dear friend and neighbor, for whom I regularly knit Christmas presents saw them today and oohed and aaahed, so fuzzy feet go on her list now too.

I also found all of the materials for a very pretty Victorian style handbag that I forgot I had planned. I made it in red for said neighbor last year and she loved it. I enjoyed making it so much that when she gave me a yarn gift certificate for the LYS, I bought the same yarn in a black/gray colorway for myself. Then promptly forgot about it. I am feeling so virtuous about all the finishing I have been doing, that I think maybe I could start that soon, if only I remembered where I put the stupid pattern!

That's it for knitting news here, work is finally calming down, although I still have a few projects kicking around that need finishing. Maybe all of this knitting finishing will rub off in a good way onto my business pursuits!

MB

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fuzzy Feet Tutorial, Part 2

More Fuzzy Feet Fotos...


A few photos of what it looks like as you are picking up the stitches along the heel flap, and just after you have picked up all the stitches along the heel flap.



The gusset decreases - look how the little buggers neatly line up on the diagonal. As mentioned in other posts, if you wing up with a lot more picked up stitches than the pattern called for, just keep decreasing until it comes out close to the number you started with.



Toe decreases, I put the stitches on two needles so I remember where to decrease, again, I just don't like to have to remember to count. I tried a Kitchener photo but just got a bunch of blur, so you will have to go elsewhere for that. Try the graphic on my web site http://www.knitting.allinfoabout.com/features/grafting.html



The Sock Monster, which positively makes my feet look dainty and girlish.




Post felting - that is my plastic shopping bag encased foot so they could mold to my feet. AS I have said elsewhere, I think I took them out a wee bit too soon and they could have been a hair smaller, but so it goes. I am going to make this pair non-slip and give them to my mom for Christmas. Then I get to make more for me, and my daughter wants some too now!

Happy FF-ing,

MBT


Monday, November 07, 2005

Promised Fuzzy Feet Tutorial, Part one!

I know, I know, I promised Fuzzy Feet instructions, but I had to go earn a living darn it - it happens to the best of us.

That said, since nothing I am trying to do today is going right, I just took a break, bit the bullet, and threw said Feet into the machine to felt. I think I may have taken them out a hair too early and they are a little bit big, but I am new to this felting thing, and I got nervous. They are on my feet as we speak, drying out. They have a lovely wet sheepy smell to them :-) And now I want to go make many more pair. My mother's feet are a half size larger than mine - maybe these need to be hers..... she just made me return her birthday gift because it was "too nice" and she would never wear it...sigh... she is 84, I really wish she would stop saving nice things for later, but what can you do. She asked me to return the cut velvet shawl I bought her and buy her a few nice cotton shirts instead!

So - here is the beginning of the photo tutorial



First photo - knitting the cuff. I am a DPN user, I had 15 stitches on each of two needles, 14 on the third, for 44 stitches. I made the cuff longer than the pattern called for, because I just felt like it. Felt, get it? Okay, I'll stop.

Photo Two - the monster heel flap. I put all 22 heel flap stitches on one DPN so I don't get confused, but that's just me. It looks ridiculously out of scale, but it is still right, so just keep going.

Photo Three - Short Rowing the Heel. Short rows are pretty easy once you get the first two laid in, because the knitting is going to tell you where to stop. See the obvious gap where my index finger is pointing? There are the stitches before and after the gap mentioned in the pattern that I am going to knit together. If you pay attention to those little gaps, you can stop counting, which is a good thing, as I always forget to count.


Photo Four, which I remembered to center, picking up along the heel flap. Okay, this photo isn't the clearest, but it isn't easy to pick up with one hand a shoot a camera with the other. Every row that you started with a Slip 1 will leave you with a larger than normal end stitch (there should be 12 if you did 24 rows on the heel flap). Just scootch the point of your needle in that stitch, catch the working yarn, pull it through, and put it on your needle. Easier than it sounds, I promise.

NOTE - the pattern said topick up 12, but that left too big a gap on either side for my taste, felting be darned, so I did 14. I know others (ehem, Crazy Aunt Purl) have picked up more than 12-14. DON"T SWEAT IT - it will all felt out. Patterns are an inspiration and a guideline, not the holy bible, you won't go to hell for changing things.

Okay, I am going to post this now to make sure it all works out - more to come, probably tonight.

Happy felting, mine are almost dry!

MBT