Thursday, January 31, 2008

The String Bag rises!

I had Mr. Daisy take this photo as I was busy trying to show the "bag" shape of my Stow Away Shopping Bag. For some reason, I had a terrible time picking up the edge stitches that make the double bottom but I finally achieved some sort of edging and got the pattern started. I think this might be a problem for other knitters as well - I found out a lot when I Googled the pattern.

But, my new Harmony needles are really helping. Instead of pulling my hair out, I am actually enjoying watching the shape of the bag grow out of that mass of red string!

String bags must be on other knitters' minds as well - it turns out that the Double Ewe Yarn Shop in Circle Pines, MN. is having a "knit a string bag" , get a discount on yarn kind of sale. Actually, their web site says "During the month of February, knit a string bag, then sometime during the week of March 4th - 8th, bring in your bag, fill it with yarn, and get 20% off. It's that simple."

There are some other rules as well but the weird fact is that this is the store where I bought MY string bag pattern and MY Cotton Fleece yarn. I have only been to this shop once and that's all I bought. I must have been ahead of the knitting curve for once in my life! Check out the store - it's a very nice little store and they had a nice selection. It's just a little out of my easy shopping range.

I worked a little on my sister-in-law's scarf tonight when I went to hear author Bill Holm speak at a library in Saint Paul. He has an excellent book called "Windows of Brimness: An American in Iceland." It's part travel - part memoir and he was an excellent reader. He called it "the best yet" when I talked to him afterwards - I'll have to work my way through his other works and let you know! The scarf is about 10 inches long so far - very pleasant to work on.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Starting anew - again!

Yesterday, I went ahead and bought the Knit Picks Options Harmony wood needles sized 13 and 15 to finish my red string bag. I spent some time on Ravelry checking out what other knitters were using to make this project and the many good comments about these needles made me take the plunge. Hopefully, these will be the pointy needles I am looking to love. Basically, this bag is just about using large needles and thin cotton to make large loops. It takes other bloggers about two days to finish. Me - I've been stymied again and again by thick, blunt needles. So, today I am ripping it back. And then, I'll start again. This bag has just been chock full of life lessons for me. Don't hurry, don't over think the pattern and do it right even if that's the hard way. I hear you, I hear you!

The "Paws to Remember" scarf for my sister-in-law has become my pick up and travel project since I finished the last pair of socks. Unfortunately, it takes me a few minutes to find my spot and get re-started knitting, so it isn't progressing very quickly. I like to pin the pattern to my chair arm and check it every so often and that doesn't make for quick knitting. It is lovely, though, and has such a nice border of yarnovers and k2t or ssk. I think I came to enjoy tidiness late in life and I really appreciate it when I see it now.

In order to have a travel project, I pulled this sock project out of my sock stash box. It's been snoozing for quite some time - I just didn't like having to stop ribbing and work the cable. Despite my misgivings, this "Cable Rib Socks" pattern by Erica Alexander from the Spring 2005 Interweave Knits made it into the IK Favorite Socks book. It is a nice yarn (Steinbach Wolle Strapaz Cotton Effekt in Kiwi Green) and makes a nice cable so, maybe, I just wasn't paying attention.

I'm really going to have to get these projects done and out of the way if my "Spring of Scarves" works out. I spent a little too much time on Ravelry this holiday season and found some great projects on an "Advent Calendar of Knitting Patterns" that someone put together. Unfortunately, many of them were not in English. So, between my limited German language skills and my mother's skillful French, I am going to have a whole new catalog to deal with. If there are any knitters out there who haven't stopped by the Ravelry site and signed up, make that your next bookmark. It is a great place to look at patterns, ask other knitters how their projects went and to window shop for yarn. I love being able to search for a pattern as well as browse the photos of many different knitters' versions of that one idea.

Youngest Child is truly growing - I weeded out three long sleeved shirts, one short sleeved tee, a pair of jeans, a pair of basketball shorts and one last pair of undies. Of all the clothing, I had to sneak out the undies. They were favorites, even if they were much too small.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

. . . and I didn't have any wood handy.

I'm not sure my mother understands why I would want to write about knitting so that people I don't know can read it but . . . sometimes, you just get a little obsessed. My obsession is knitting. No one at my house wants to talk about knitting quite as much as I do but . . . there is always someone on the Internet who does.

I got this little gem from Knit Redplaid, a Canadian knitter with a great sense of humor.

In the meantime, I've been finishing my pair of Go with the Flow socks. When I went to weave in the ends (only at the cuff and the two), I found a loop of yarn inside the sock, running from one section to another but still completely skipping a section of pattern in between. All I can think of is that I ripped back a section and missed knitting in a line of stitches. But, it doesn't look wrong from the outside. Hmm. Well, I'll tack the loop down so it doesn't get caught by a toe and let it go at that.

I think my camera's flash is still affecting the color of these socks - they are really dark, jewel tones and just lovely. I just couldn't brave the cold temperatures to take a photo outside. Now, it's up to a balmy 17 degrees F.

C'est magnifique!

And it was taking up all my time. This is what's been eating up all my evening knitting time. We usually pull out puzzles at Christmas time at our house and we received this one as a gift. So, it was out on the puzzle table after the holidays and man, what a time sink! The actual puzzle was easy but the putting it up was one small adjustment at a time. I'd look up and the whole evening would be gone. Zut, zut et zut! Luckily, Oldest Daughter's friends came over for a movie party on Monday and helped finish it off.

I've been outside the Eiffel Tower but never on and this is as close as Youngest Child will be for some years. His "helping" also slowed things down a bit but he enjoyed the work and was pretty patient about the whole thing.

I also had another rip session with the gusset of the second GWTF sock. I've figured out that a) this mysterious looseness has to to with how I pick up the stitches for the gusset and b) if I want the instep pattern to be centered (that is, begin and end with the double purl portion of the pattern), I have to re-jigger the spot where I begin the heel flap. As I am not going back to redo the heel flap, I ended up picking up a different number of gusset stitches on each side. So, that is another mark against this pair of socks ever making it to the state fair. It is a learning experience for the pair I will someday knit for me, however!

I was aiming for the lovely gusset but my up-close photography skills leave something to be desired. Blogger is acting up a bit right now so I think I better post what I've got and leave perfection well enough alone.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Down, down it goes

Knitting is what I want to do today. Knitting is not what I got to do today. My daughters' school has an Oldies Dance coming up and I had to to take some of them out to look for costumes. Despite the high of, oh, 6 degrees F., we went from place to place and finally ended up with a Seventies outfit and and a 1950s outfit. One daughter would make a lovely bank teller or elementary school teacher in about 1970 and the other should make a nice Society matron, hat and all. I still have cold feet! I also picked up a copy of "Bend the Rules Sewing." It has some very cute patterns for baby items that I am going to attempt for Up-and-coming Baby Sven.

Knitting-wise, I'm working on the second of the "Go with the Flow" socks. It is so soothing now that I've memorized the leg pattern. My first sock turned out well - so nice that I was depressed to find one set of loose stitches on the gusset. One side is lovely - one just two stitches off. There goes the State Fair entry! Hopefully, blocking the sock will make it less noticeable. That's what Elizabeth Zimmerman calls "ein Schönheitsfehler," or a beauty flaw.

As for the Saturday Seven, things were just falling into my lap. One pair of jeans in a finish which I never liked, an outgrown pair of shorts for Youngest Child, two vases that came with Oldest Daughter's spinning gear, an old paper towel holder and a toothbrush head kit for the wrong toothbrush. Sometimes, getting rid of things is easy. I'm not ready to pack up and move any time soon (Carol told me that was her goal for sorting things - to get rid of enough things that she could pack up and move with only a week's notice!) but we are whittling things down. Off they go to St. John the Evangelist!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Visiting the Frog Pond with Julia

Aak! I don't know why but I am someone creating extra stitches in my Paws to Remember scarf. Now I am ripping it back once again. I haven't had this problem before so I hoping to get some help from the people at Fiber Trends before I rip my hair out!

The Saturday Seven was much easier. Youngest Child must be growing again because I found four tee shirts, two pairs of pants and a pair of shorts that are all much too tight. I was a bit concerned because everyone else's wardrobe is well and truly pruned.

Today, we finally put away the Christmas decorations and the sunny weather really put me in mind of spring. It's still cold and snowy but . . . warm weather awaits. One podcast I listened to this week listed the number of weeks until Christmas - this year!

One of our last Christmas presents was a cooking class today at Cooks of Crocus Hill - Mastering French Cooking: Soups and Stews. My book group has read several of Julia Child's books and I bought her videos for DH as a gift some time ago. The chef, Van Keszler, ran us through the process of making five soups/stews and we got to chow down on the results. The best one was Potage Veloute aux Champignons (cream of mushroom soup.) I haven't had anything as good for a long time! I thought you might like to take a look at The Julia in action. (Even if she's goofing around!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reddy Spaghetti!

I pulled out the unfinished string bag out of the bottom of my knitting bag and decided to work on it a bit. It still looks like a hideous pile of string or a dish of red spaghetti. I've looked the pattern up on Ravelry and other people seem to finish it quite easily. Me - it's beating me up. I think it's my big Turbo needles - they are just too blunt and slippery. BUT I will forge on - I'm too cheap to buy new needles just to finish this one bag.

I've progressed way past this point on the "Go with the Flow" socks but I haven't been able to catch Oldest Daughter to have her try on the sock. I must just make it to fit my own foot - but add a little something extra. She's about two shoe sizes larger than me!

I cast on Evelyn A. Clark's "Paws to Remember" scarf as a birthday present for my sister-in-law. She is a dog trainer and a dog show judge and I'm hoping this will be a nice surprise. She doesn't read this blog so I am pretty sure that, as long as I don't knit it in front of her, it will stay a surprise. It is going very quickly - this is about one evenings worth of work.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

NOT my problem!

One of my Christmas presents is a mug with this picture all over it. Youngest Child drew it and said it was a picture of "Mom yelling." DH oh-so-wittily labeled it, "Mother."

I deny this. Absolutely. I am possibly the most laid back of my sisters (Does anyone who know us deny this?) but somehow, I get labeled as a yeller.

Yesterday, I think I proved this when two daughters' afternoon activities involved bringing home separate groups of friends afterwards (not something I had much foreknowledge of) and I managed to get everything cleaned up and provide some sort of food. And two of the friends were vegetarians and one was also on a gluten free diet. Considering the state of the fridge when everyone trooped in, I think I was the picture of calm.

And, despite the Writers' Strike, I still managed to find some TV to watch while knitting. I highly recommend Dogtown on the National Geographic Channel. This was very interesting but very sad at the same time. Good to knit to. I am almost finished with the first "Go with the Flow" sock. I am really loving that!

The Saturday Seven? I sorted out my workout drawer and found four teeshirts, two pairs of sweat pants and a pair of knickers - the knee length workout pants, not the undies. Knickers?!! What was I thinking? Off to a rummage sale.