Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Goodbye Washington, hello winter!

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to”
- John Ed Pearce

Finally, we are home again. No laptop yet but at least I am able to be exhausted in my own house. Washington D.C. was both lovely and a kind of Bataan Death March - only done out of love of knowledge and family time. The best time to see things was at the end of the day when it was a little warmer and the ferocious winds had died down.

It was very cold and very sunny - and a few flowers poked through the slush - but we walked and walked and walked. Even to take the Metro, we had to walk. Luckily, the wonderful museums and sights helped qwell any thoughts of desertion but by Saturday, half the crew opted to stay home and watch the Disney Channel in the hotel. Eventually, on Sunday morning we all were sitting on one bed, eating cold pizza and watching "King Kong."

One other great break was touring the United States Botanic Gardens and eating lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian. Both were very informative and relaxing - and the food at the museum was excellent!

Earlier in the week, I found one of the branches of Stitch D.C. (the Georgetown branch - "By Metro: A short walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station (blue/orange Lines) - maybe in the summer but not in February!" - and bought some lovely sock yarn. I know, I know, don't I have enought problems with socks right now? I currently have two pairs on socks on the needles right now.

I bought Claudia Hand Painted Yarns' sock yarn in "Blue Terra Cotta" as a souvenir (hey, it's from Harrisburg, Va.!) and I plan to make the ROZA’S SOCKS by Grumperina in the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits. Lots of people seem to be making them and I hear they go quickly. And besides, who doesn't need socks in an easy brioche-rib pattern?

More on the Washington trip later - now is the time to go count cases of Girl Scout cookies in my garage. I just keep telling myself, "I won't eat those cookies, I won't eat those cookies . . ."

Oh, and the Saturday Seven? Last week, it was books and the week before, books. Lots and lots of books live at our house and we need to weed out more than a few.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What's a girl to do?

First, I have to apologize for such a long gap in posting - and warn you that it's about to get longer!

On last Thursday, my trusty lap book began its long march to the sea - otherwise known as the "videocard permanently atached to the motherboard" day of reckoning. My husband called it the the "Ugly Bathroom Wallpaper of Death." Because the video card (which controls what you see on the screen) was dying oh-so-slowly, I would just get signed in and everything up when - boom, down came the video and nothing to see but stripes.

After a long weekend of "Can we or can't we get everything backed up?", I took the laptop in for repairs yesterday. Luckily, it will be gone while I am away in Washington D.C.

Unluckily, you won't get to see or hear about it until I get back. And, now that the digital camera has gone missing as well, you might just have to take my word about it all.

I did have an eventful knitting week - really! The Craft Yarn Council of America had its fabulous "Knit out and Crochet 2007" at the Mall of America this weekend. The big Valentine's Day snow missed us entirely so there were a lot of knitters out and about. I caught a glimpse of Vickie Howell (but no Annie Modesitt yet) and talked about the new Knit Lite needles with the follks at the Clover-USA booth. I don't even crochet but I wanted one of their lighted crochet hooks. Lots of patterns and information about books and yarn as well as demonstrations. There were a lot of people there this weekend - I think the holiday might have had something to do with the full parking ramps but I hope it was the knitters!

I finally picked out the Big Sven pullover pattern from Cottage Creations for my latest sweater and I am taking it along to Washington D.C. for my vacation knitting. This sweater really looks like it will use up my stash!

Enjoy the break and talk to you later!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grab your coat and get your hat . . . 2.0

“Live your life, do your work, then take your hat”
- Henry David Thoreau

Here's the final version - Hat 2.0 if you will. I remade Middle Daughter's hat last night. About 10 p.m. I had a cup of what I thought was herbal tea. Big mistake - I was unable to get to sleep until 2 a.m., Something wasn't caffeine free. So, I merrily knitted away, watching the Grammy awards and various other taped television programs. Right now, however, I am paying the price for all that knitting.

For the hat, I simply cast on 80 stitches and knit 1 and 1/2 inches of k1/p1 ribbing. After one round of stockinette stitch, I found some easy-to-duplicate-in-two-color Fair Isle patterns with 20 stitch repeats. After a few patterns, I put in a stockinette decrease round. Then I switched to 16 stitch repeat patterns until the whole hat was as long as my hand (kudos to Stephanie Purl-McPhee for that tidbit of measuring knowledge!) and began decreasing ever other round. The tassel was an afterthought requested by Middle Daughter.

Once again, I turned to Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting for pattern ideas. I bought this book on deep discount and just love it. It is such a resource for patterns and color ideas. I just wish I could afford her book on Aran knitting!

Although I ran the them throught the wash again, the Mad River mittens didn't get much smaller.

Here's another look at them and the hat. All in all, a fun and quick project. Now, I really need to get working on those sock miles!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

So many birthdays . . .

We tend to go very light on birthdays at our house. You get to choose your birthday dinner, everyone produces presents and, sometimes, Dad makes a pie. (I used to make cakes but the pies are mmm, mmm, good!) Sometimes, you get a party.

Today, Middle Daughter had her 16th birthday party at our house and I completely forgot all about the work required. Just six friends over for a trip to the 12-plex for a chick flick and then, back to our house for dinner. I have a swimming workshop tomorrow so we couldn't schedule this for Sunday.

This whole "simple" party stil required cleaning the house and serving food, however, so our morning was very busy. Working out at the Y, cleaning house, and, finally, grocery shopping made things very hectic. I don't know what I was thinking - there was no knitting done today. Bad knitter! No yarn for you!

I did manage to round up the Saturday Seven, however. Youngest child loves color and movement - right now, he's hooked on pretending he's Spiderman - but even he grows out of things. All his clothes are bright and loud, much more so than I would choose for myself. I do, however, recommend the book, "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. It was very helpful understanding the difference between Child 1,2,3 and 4 (Da Boy.)

The whole bag is going off to Baby Karl - next sized boy of the Book Group Clan.

" Does whatever a spider can"

Friday, February 09, 2007

If at first you don't succeed . . .

I decided to throw together a hat out of my old homespun yarn to match the Mad River Mittens. Here is a look at Hat #1. After trying the hat on, my daughter decided she didn't want the folded brim. I didn't like the solid feel of this pattern, either. So, tonight, after a trip to OUR BIG MALL (what my Youngest Child calls the Mall of America) to restock after the winter sales, I rip it back to the ribbing. I think I am going to break up the patterns into segments separated with bands of cream. That way, I can incorporate decreases within the hat body without interfering with the patterns. A very traditional style of "make your own" hat. It's knitting up at about 4-5 stitches per inch - a little chunky because it was some of my very first hand spun yarn. My late mother-in-law gave me a whole fleece when I first started spinning but she never told me what breed of sheep it came from. Nothing too fine but quite usable.

And, while Middle Daughter claims she likes the larger Mad River Mittens (she can wear her Sponge Bob stretchy liners underneath), I think I am going to throw them into pillowcases for one last trip through the washer.

My, Grandmother, what great hands you have!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

So, here's the drill . . .

While I may shop at the MOA (it's right by my children's school), I never thought about going to knit there (mostly as there is no yarn shop) - however, this might be changing as . . . (According to the Knit Out press release I received)

"The biggest, FREE knit and crochet extravaganza is traveling to the biggest and most exciting retail venue in the U.S., Mall of America!

The date: President's Weekend, February 17 and 18, 2007.
After sponsoring Knit-Out & Crochet events since 1998 on the East and West Coasts, the Craft Yarn Council of America (CYCA) is taking its FREE consumer event to the Midwest for the first time and to one of the most exciting retail venues in the world. Here's what's in store at Mall of America:

FREE beginner one-on-one knitting and crochet lessons in a relaxed, informal setting -- Take home instructions, yarn, needles or a hook.

LIVE Fashion Shows - See knitted and crocheted fashions you'd love to wear and CAN make
Woof Wear -- "Doggone" cute sweaters to knit and crochet for your favorite pooch.

TECHNIQUE Workshops - Tips, techniques and project ideas for the advanced, as well as the beginner.

YARN "Doctors" - Questions about a current project? Get answers from the experts.

AUTHOR! Author! - Meet today's best-selling knit and crochet authors, plus chat with the leading editors and catch the hot, new trends.

KIDS Crafts - Hands-on fun yarn projects for the younger set.

DISPLAYS - See the newest yarns, patterns, accessories, and the coolest new tools

PLUS, meet: Vickie Howell, author and host of DIY Network's Knitty Gritty.

NOW, I tried to get the aproximate times and exact dates for these events from the CYCA website but I just got spun off into a vortex of EXCITING, ALL CAPS press releases. I am sure that, a little closer to the event, the MOA will have some information on their site.

AS for Ms. Howell, I am sure she will be a big draw. Drink lots of coffee before you go to meet her so that you, too, will be PERKY. Some people love lover her, some don't. I think I am in the middle. I used to TiVo "Knitty Gritty" but, now, I think I am beyond most of her project. I really love seeing famous knitters on the show, however. My favorite was all about felting with Beverly Galeskas. I took a felting class from her at Stitches Midwest two years ago and learned a lot.

Just a reminder - "Vickie’s on a personal quest to assist in breaking the negative social stigma that knitting and crafting have attached to them by bringing more recognition to the hip, creative and edgy sides of these forms of expression." I'm not sure what that means but I think it means she's not knittin' mittens.

As for me, I am behind the knitting ball, working on a cream colored hat made out of my old handspun and knit with turquoise/yellow/pink accents to go with my daughter's now-blue felted Mad River mittens. The birthday countdown has begun . . .

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stop right there!

If this giant hand was waving at you, you'd stop, right? This is one of the pair of Mad River Mittens from Knitty that I am working on right now. To give you an idea of the scale, here's another look . . .

I knit this last night while watching "Torchwood" over at and they were almost too easy. After the knitting is done, the felting begins. I just had to go to bed before finishing the second. That will happen this afternoon while I watch "Bright Young Things" on DVD.

Speaking of knitting, I visited Guinifer's blog, Halfway down the stairs and she is kicking on the Lime and Violet Sockathon. I've done about five inches on my sock and she's finished a whole pair. This is so totally unfair! But, her hard work did inspire me to take a second look at my pattern.

I am (gasp!) ripping apart my current sock to start another pattern, either the Laburnum 5-stitch pattern or one of the 6-stitch patterns from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. I got this book as a Christmas present from my daughter and it's high time I put it to work. Knitting should be fun and the previous pattern just took too much looking back and forth. I just couldn't memorize it. The Schurch book looks very clear and concise (which is funny because I also own Ms. Schurch's Hats On!! which is not my favorite hat book) and I am raring to go get me some socks!

By the way, I think I have found the perfect all-purpose podcast, Richard Taylor's Roots Rock Radio. This alt-country-rockabilly podcast is a swinging listen. Some episodes are darker than others but the Christmas episode (Number 85) is great for listening to while working out and episode 75 is just about perfect for knitting to. Go, Sidewinders, go!

As for the Saturday Seven, I asked my Youngest Daughter whether she wanted to dust the living room - or find seven things that needed good homes. Barely a half an hour later, this is what appeared.

I don't think anyone actually did dust today!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Who's that yarn?

I got a very nice comment about what yarn did I use for my first sweater of 2007. Guess what? I forgot! I gave the remaining skein away with the baby sweater (along with an extra button) so they would have it on hand for mending, new buttons, etc. And I completely forgot what the yarn was called. So, for a few days, I was scouring yarn sellers' sites, looking over all the baby yarns.

I originally bought the yarn some time ago for another project at a local shop, Borealis Yarns, which is not my usual yarn shop. Their web site didn't have much information and I couldn't get over to the actual store. Tonight, I saw it THE YARN online - it was:

Plymouth Encore: a nice soft, baby fluffy 75% Acrylic and 25% Wool yarn. It knit up at 5 sts per 1 inch. They recommended a US size 8 needle. I used my new Knit Picks size 6, 16 inch circular needles as well as set of Brittany size 6 double pointed needles. The yarn came in 200 yds/100g balls - I used two and 1/2. My heathery-denim color is listed as color 658.

So - the mystery of the missing yarn is solved. I recommend it for items that are liable to get washed a lot (like baby sweaters) and the recipient might not want to spend a lot of time on handwashing (like new parents.)

Oh, and I've been spending my time with the mystery patterns from I'm currently knitting up the Mad River felted mittens by Symeon Noth. Love, love love them! I'll post some pictures tomorrow - too many late nights knitting makes for cranky days at Chez Lazy.