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Back again!

Who knew I was such a traveler?  Em and I just got back from a trip to see my sister and family in South Carolina.  She has a new baby and asked that I come out to visit/help out.  It was lovely to hold a brand new baby and realize just how big Em has become.  Also, realizing I could help Em while holding a newborn was a quite a revelation. No knitting while I was there, sadly.  I didn’t think I’d have the down time, but of course I did simply because I didn’t pack knitting.  Of course.  However, at this moment I am knitting the top of an embellished baby hat and should be done shortly.

Instead of holding up a blog post another few days while I find the camera, take pics, find where the cord walked off to, and all the assorted toddler wrangling that goes with it, I ask that you take a minute to read a post written by my  friend Lisa.  She’s been part of endless conversations on my reluctance to find the baby’s gender.  Please click over and read what she wrote.  It is eloquent, interesting (I think) and, at the very least, a good way to waste some time at work.  I’ll be back tomorrow or so to post a bunch of what-I’ve-been-up-to pics.

Sammy

We just got back from a 10 day trip to Sunny Florida. While I would never ever in my life want to live there again (ever), I love visiting in January. I don’t need to tell anyone in the midst of a snowy winter WHY Florida is a great place to go. However, those of you IN Florida know that January beats the pants off visiting in August.

While we were there I finished the packed lunch for my little relative turning two:

What you are looking at is 2 1/2 slices of “pumpernickel” bread, two tomatoes, a slice of cheese (folded in half) and two pieces of meat (corned beef or bacon depending on who saw it), all accompanied by three cookies.   Most of the items were made with my own patterns, inspired buy the ones here, under the “novelty” section.

I wish I’d taken pictures of the individual pieces, but I was dressed for a wedding and heading out the door, hence the not-fabulous picture.  If you are interested, here’s how I knit the pieces:

Bread for a 1/2 sandwich
yarn:  worsted
needles:  size 6/4mm
CO 23
K1 row
K2tog, k to last 2 st, SSK for 2 rows
Each row fol:  k2tog then K to end
BO last stitch

Knit 2

Choc Chip Cookies
yarn: worsted, cream or tan; scraps of brown
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 20
knit 2 rows in garter st
K2tog all the way across row for 2 rows
break yarn, thread needle and slide through rem sts, pulling tight
sew short ends together
weave brown yarn through for chips, periodically knotting yarn for appearance of chips sitting higher on the cookie

Tomato slice- Large
yarn: worsted, red ; scraps of yellow
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 25
Follow directions for choc chip cookies, weaving in yellow for “seeds”

Tomato slice – Small
yarn: worsted, red ; scraps of yellow
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 20
Follow directions for choc chip cookies, weaving in yellow for “seeds”

Bacon/Corned beef slices
yarn: worsted, red or red variegated
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 25
K even in garter st until you have 5 ridges
BO

The cheese wasn’t a fabulous on-the-fly pattern.  I CO 25, k in st st until it looked good, then BO.  I knit it on the Florida Turnpike while on the way to our destination, so I didn’t have any sort of inspiration.  The yellow yarn was Lite Lopi, so when I was dissatisfied with the size and openness of it, I took it into the shower with me and hand felted it. You do what you have to do, right?  The felting also helped with the natural curl of stockinette, which was handy. I just couldn’t bear the thought of lumpy-looking garter stitch cheese.

Anyway, as you can see these aren’t difficult patterns by any means.  I hardly dare call them that, thinking of the more like suggestions.  The cookies and bread were inspired by someone else’s work that I tweaked when I didn’t like how the item turned out, while the chese, meat and tomato came from expereince making the other items.  Feel free to tweak to your heart’s content.

Quick, quick!

Quick post about quick knitting.  I’m working nights at a temp job, which is messing with my internal schedule.  I leave in a few, but wanted to share a quick knit:

Nope, not for me. We aren’t planning on finding out the gender of this babe.

The story?   I received an email from my sister the other day, asking urgently if I could knit a hat and booties for her soon-to-arrive little girl.  She has had a very difficult pregnancy and has been on modified bedrest.  It has been killing her, apparently, that she can’t shop for a hand knit set locally, and she turned to me for help.  What else was I going to say but yes?

Pattern: Ripple Eyelet Baby Hat

Size knit: Newborn

Yarn: stash-diving produced Lion Brand Wool-Ease in colorway Blush Heather.  Surprisingly soft.

Needles: size 6 & 9 Knitpicks Harmony

Started: January 13

Finished: January 14

Modifications: I altered the pattern to be knit in the round.  What baby wants a seam upside their head?

Knit it again? Not sure.

Notes: The pattern was an extremely quick knit.  I am not a fast knitter by any means, and this took me maybe 3 hours.  I would have finished it in one day morning and afternoon, knitting lace *while taking care of my 19 mo old child* but I had to leave for work 2 rows before the BO.  So, a normal human could get one done in a TV show or two.

Not sure how I feel about the stacking K2tog S Psso.  It looks messy to me.  Here, blocking the crown, you can see it (and my *ahem* “helper).

I already have one One Hour Baby Bootie (Rav link here) done and blocked and am casting on the other as soon as I hit “post”.  Update soon.

Um, hi.  Been a while, huh?

I’ve tried to compose a post for at least two weeks (after several promises to other bloggers to do so) and I keep coming up flat.  There really are no words for the last, oh, four months.  I do have pictures, though.  Will that work?

Rhinebeck was awesome, of course.  I immediately lost my son and husband upon entering Saturday and was was *forced* to spend the next five hours with Sarah and Sarah.  It was just awful, really.  (Ok, it was fabulous.  Seriously, these girls are fun).  There was lots of running into old friends and acquaintences and meeting new ones.  I met up with the Mr. C and Em at 5pm, which was perfect.  And I took no pictures at all on Saturday.

Sunday, however, was a nice family day.  Em likes sheep:

Baaaaaaa!

Baaaaaaa!

Oh, geez, I didn’t realize that was so blurry.  He was very busy poking that sheep in the rear and saying “baaaa!” to stay still long enough for a photo.  How about alpacas?

Paca!

Paca!

He was pretty thrilled.

Fall was a time of big change for me.  I started working on the Fairly Easy Fair Isle from SnB Nation, my first large project since I knit the .  Really, it IS fairly easy.  It just gave me the trouble of my life.  First, I didn’t swatch.  I know.  Thankfully, I was only a few rows in when it was pointed out to me at my Stitch N Bitch that it was way too huge on me to consider continuing on.  Yep, I substituted yarn and didn’t even swatch.  (I am thinking that the bulk of my problems with this sweater were user error.)  So, I ripped out, cast on for the smallest size (which I am not), and knit on.

Then, I had trouble with the charts.  The real problem? When I photocopied the pattern on my way out the door to a later SnB I cut of the part of the chart that indicated the stitches to repeat.  At some point I was forced to throw it back into my bag and wish I’d ordered a wine with dinner.

Then, later, I ran out of yarn.  Yep.   I was using some Maine wool that was gifted to me after it had spent years in a tub in a basement.  There was *no* way to get more.  I dug through everything I could, thinking I must have some.  I found two skeins and was ecstatic…until discovering that the natural-colored wool I was using had waaaay too many black fibers to match.  As in, a man on a galloping horse would stop and stare.  Insert a period of agony and…I found ONE more ball.  It was perfect and I knit on.  After much holding of breath that ball made it all the way to the neck band, but would go no further.  Much agonizing questioning of anyone who would listen, I decided to knit the neck and button bands in another color.  I finished this about a week ago (just 3 months into it?!), after weaving in a hellish 66 ends.  In pictures:

Front:

Colors and buttons picked by Mr. C.  Im color-challenged.

Colors and buttons picked by Mr. C. I'm color-challenged. Oh, and the striped DO line up, I was just trying to play keep-away with a toddler.

And the back, on me:

Back view.  It looks like I need to re-block the neck, the top motif wasnt so pulled before blocking

Back view. It looks like I need to re-block the neck, the top motif wasn't so pulled before blocking

Currently on the needles is a picot-edge ankle sock in STR light-weight for Lisa.  No pictures yet, but they are coming soon.  I’ve also been knitting play food for a nephew:

What you see is 2 slices of pumpernickel and three cookies.  Added since then are several slices of corned beef.  Yum.  Em keep trying to eat the cookies (incidentally, made from the non-matching yarn from the FEFI cardi) and is sorely disappointed they taste like sheep.  The patterns for both of these are adapted from those found here.  If anyone is interested in my modifications, just let me know and I’ll either post or email them.

The next part of the program: Gifts

I’ve been very lucky recently to have received two awesome hand-knit gifts recently.  My birthday present from Lisa:

I have no idea what the pattern’s name is or what the yarn is.  I do know the yarn is alpaca and is both amazingly light and incredibly warm.  I wore them out the first day I had them, a cold night with 25 mph gusts of wind.  It was mid-December and I was hiking to a store from the deep-parking lot, and it wasn’t until I was nearly at the door did I realize I was feeling a breeze on my fingers.  Not a *cold* breeze, mind you, just a little bit of air let in.  I love these with all my might.

Another, extremely thoughtful gift given to me by Knitter Bunny:

Detail of shoulder.  I just love how the raglan looks on this.

Detail of shoulder. I just love how the raglan looks on this.

And a larger view:

Look kinda small to you?  Yeah, that’s the next part of the program here.  Oh, the neck is unfinished due to the customs of my husband’s family.  Confused? Read on.

The biggest shock of my life came on Oct 5.    Let’s say that I was more than surprised.  Can you guess?  If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years you can think of the only thing that has led me to abandon the blog for more than a few weeks at a time.  Give up?  Try this:

Yup, thats a baby.  Scrawny legs at the bottom and head bending down at the top.  The dark spot on the head isnt an eye, its just shadow.  Baby is looking down.

Yup, that's a baby. Scrawny legs and feet at the bottom and head bending down at the top. The dark spot on the head isn't an eye, it's just shadow; the nose is a white spot. Baby is looking down.

There’s a baby in there.  I am still shocked some days.

No help

I took the sage advice on reblocking the Liesl from the comments of my last post.  And?  I think it worked!  As I fussed over the blocking I realized it really was short if blocked it wide.  Gee, surprised?  I can’t have it long and not pointy, I suppose.  The minute it was dry I tried it on and…it wasn’t bad.  That is no help to you, though, as both camera cords are MIA and both memory cards, too. I put them somewhere safe when I cleaned up recently, but where?

IF I get my act together today, I will iron the sun dress she’s to be worn with and wear them to SnB.  Shave my legs, too, I guess.  So, you know, maybe.

Which reminds me:  This Saturday is my Knit- and Spin-In! If you didn’t get an email from me and want to come, just leave a comment here.  I think I got everybody, but I am not totally confident in my memory.  Also, if you’re a lurker and live in CT, leave a comment, too, ‘k?  Feel free to bring a friend(s), there’s plenty of room and plenty of food 😉

Would you like to see another FO?  This is kinda cheating, as I finished it a few weeks ago.  What’s a post without pictures, right?

I imagine you must get tired of seeing me knit yet another pair of shrorties/longies from the Sheepy Pants pattern.  It is odd, this is one of the very few patterns I care to knit more than once.  I guess because it is so easy to do?

Here’s a shot of the yarn, which is no help because I have no idea what it is

yarn of the unknown variety

yarn of the unknown variety

Whatever it was, I loved it.  It was nice and squishy and I was able to go up a needle size, thus making them a slightly quicker knit.  I know I bought it in Texas last October, when I was visiting an old friend.  The yarn label was black, too.  Yeah, big help. That’s what happens when you have a child that eats yarn.

Unlike some I’ve been knitting, this pair was for Em.  I’ve tried for some action shots, but as blurry as they are they are no help:

Em in motion

Em in motion

I can’t seem to take any picture of him where he’s not a little blur.  I tried a front shot here:

only slightly better

only slightly better

I didn’t actually mean to make them a board short length, I just forget that my child has a long torso and short little legs. Just like his mama. On days like today, where the temp is a sunny 65*F (18*C), I’m happy to have him in warm little shorts.

To forewarn you, I do have another pair on the needles.  They are knit from yarn I dyed–supposedly a mistake but turned out great–and are newborn sized.  And *very* not for me, thankyouverymuch.  Then, no more of this pattern for a while, I promise.

I’m going to knit something for me again.  Either the medium length Liesl (on Flickr here), using the burgundy Valley Yarns I just bought, or the Fairly Easy Fair Isle (link to a shot of the book here).  I have the yarn for both, though the yarn for the FEFI needs to be washed first.  It was given to me ages ago and has a strong sheepy odor.  Either way, I promise it won’t be baby pants.

FO: Short Liesl*

I know, I wasn’t supposed to drop off the face of the earth now that school is done. Somehow, I am still caught up in work and life and am behind in just about everything. How hard is it to post about an FO? Apparently, quite tricky for me lately.

Well, then, here is Liesl. This is how she looked for a long time:

Liesl, close up

Liesl, close up

That’s Cascade 220, in case you are curious. I picked it up originally for a fair isle vest, then decided I didn’t like the colors together. When I decided I needed a shrug for a new sundress it was, thankfully, the right brown.

This version of Liesl is the 40″ bust size and is four repeats past the break for sleeve. If you follow the link above, you’ll see I knit the cream version.  You can’t really tell from my quick (and dark) pictures, but the armscye is, well, rather too generous. Maybe with a chest like mine I am supposed to have chunky arms?

Here’s a side view. Sorry for the poor lighting, I took these while ready to dash to work, then the battery died.

pointy ends

meh

Do you see the points in the front? I’m not especially overjoyed about them. I understand that it is the nature of Feather and Fan to make its own pretty edging, I am not sure it works here. While the center back (sadly not photographed) meets in a lovely scoop, I just don’t think it looks right split in half for the cardigan fronts. Don’t believe me?

Hangs funny, huh? I am sure it is not helped by a mistake I made, being to rushed…I sewed the buttons to the (ahem) wrong side. Since I’m not thrilled about the project I haven’t fixed it yet, either. I know.

Despite all that I really enjoyed the pattern. I picked up some yarn at Webs for my birthday, and will be making a longer version of this and with 3/4 sleeves. I think that might be a smidge more flattering. I hope. The yarn is nice, at least.

Valley Yarns Berkshire

Valley Yarns Berkshire

I think this will be an even quicker knit, if that’s possible. I promise better photos next time, really.

Why yes, I am alive

The last few weeks have been crazy. I’ve been working! It is only temporary, but I’ve been loving the library I’ve been working for. I heartily wish they had a position for me. I’ve missed Em tremendously the last few weeks, but being competent at a job has been a real ego boost for me. As much as being a stay-at-home mom/student has been enjoyable, it always seems to call into question my sanity and judgment. They joys of toddlers.

Oh yeah, and during that time I completed all the requirements for my Master of Library and Information Science. 🙂

I am so far behind with what I have been up to that I won’t be able to catch up in just one post. Would you like to start with some spinning?

I spent the Fourth of July weekend plying. Surprisingly, it actually occurred to me to take notes while spinning so I’d have something blog about.

So, the amazing thing is that I plied yarn that’s been on the bobbin for nearly two years. Can you believe it? I could nearly faint from the shock of it, myself. You may remember when I blogged about it in May, though I didn’t even post a new picture, just recycled the original one. From back in October of 2006. This begs the question of why. Why has this fiber, lovely as it is, been on bobbins for so freakin’ long?

I don’t know if I have an answer for this. It is easy to spin, is grabby enough that I could (and did) spin it quite fine. The colors are lovely and change at an interesting pace, therefore it isn’t boring.

For some reason spinning it felt like a life’s work. As I was plying I felt like it was taking forever. Really, this couldn’t have been more than 4oz, but I suppose the fineness and the long color repeats explains the angst. However, the fiber itself was pleasurable enough. Does that make sense?

One of my goals (and problems) while spinning this over such a long period was spinning a balanced yarn. I didn’t want it over plied only to be relaxed in finishing. Yet, this was the fiber I had trouble spinning about 18 months ago, because it was falling apart. I was lucky to be at a spin-in in February of ’07 and have a bevy of experienced spinners at hand to help with wheel tuning and spinning advice. Turns out I was not adding enough twist and the fibers were not holding together. Although that was a great revelation, I had to be very careful not to have too great a change in the rest of the single on the bobbin. I am not sure how or why that it would be a bad thing, I just figured things would not turn out right.

Over time I also questioned the reliance on finishing to cover spinning sins. Does it really help, or will things revert to chaos when the final knitting good is blocked? Will make the under plied sections fall completely apart? As I let this sit in the back of my mind I saw some similar thoughts on a number of blogs. This from here:

When dried with blocking, the yarn is temporarily ‘set’, like putting your wet hair on rollers to make a temporary curl. As soon as the yarn is exposed to water again–even in the form of a very humid day, just like with human hair–the original twist, or lack of, will reassert itself, even if it’s been woven or knit in the meantime.

Sounds like bad news, right?

Some other thoughts:

I had a ridiculous time getting the wheel set up to ply. I emailed/plurked/IMed Jess, my personal guide to spinning, but I was still obviously doing something wrong, until I somehow got it settled.

I could have preserved the color changes with a chain ply, but really wanted a marled look. Scratch that, wanted a look totally my own. In spinning I’ve done since then I’ve done some playing around with making color repeats longer or shorter than the roving was dyed. This stuff, though, was started at a time when I was exceptionally new at spinning, and finished at a time I had much more confidence. I finally figured out my yarn has a right to be exactly what I make it to be.

Of course, I immediatly starting spinning something:

I freaked out because I had no fiber handy to spin. I dug through some as-yet-unpacked-boxes and found some lovely fiber gifted to me nearly two years ago by The Gabby Knitter. My photography skills do not do it justice.

Finally, with school behind me and a roomy home, I’m ready to do what I’ve wanted to for ages: Have a spin-in at my barn house. I’m working up a flier at the moment, so let me know if you want me to email it to you. I’ll have it in a post in the next few days, too.