Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Well, I did it!

This is my first post-Christmas article since I have spent much time with needles in hand since the last entry. I completed all of my Christmas knitting projects except one sock (note I said one sock, not one pair of socks) before Christmas. All of the gifts have been given, but few photographs to show for it. Comments on the gifts have been positive so far. The last package -- three sweaters, one pair of hand-knit socks, one pair of store-bought socks, and three personalized pillow cases -- was mailed out on Saturday after Christmas. This year I have competed 16 pairs of hand-knit socks, one lace scarf, three little boy sweaters, two sweaters for myself (blue-ribbon winners mind you), and just this morning a reversible hat for my husband. I started two other sweaters for myself which are my first projects for the new year -- I resolve.

Lovely friends who appreciate my knitting obsession, gifted me with cash for Christmas, which I promptly spent for some knitting items that have been on my wish list for awhile.

Now, as for 2009, I must find some way to get some exercise. I would like to do some gardening, but my space for growing things is limited. My tentative (very tentative -- as in, I have not shared them with anyone, yet) plans are to plant a few squash and cucumbers outside our fence in the alley, plow a plot in the back yard for beans and peas, and plant a few tomato plants, peppers, and eggplant in the front "flower bed." I am also looking at continuing education opportunities both for work and for personal growth. The Dallas/Fort Worth Fiber Fest in April looks enticing, especially Suzanne Thompson's "SEVENESS" class and her polymer clay buttons classes. I've also been toying with the idea of entering the Master Knitters program. It would be a challenge, but I just don't know if I want to get that academic with my knitting.

Enough for now!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why! Why! Why!

I have done it again -- committed to myself to knit more than I can complete in the time allotted for the projects. I started with a seemingly managable project, making a pair of socks for each female coworker and family member on my Christmas gift list. I started back in March and I've made good progress toward the goal, having only two pairs or maybe three pairs of socks to complete. However, my daughter wants me to make each of my little grandsons a sweater for Christmas. I only found out about this a month ago. There are three little boys ages 4, 2 and 8 months. I started with the sweater for the oldest grandson, but it is taking longer than I estimated, so I'm afraid I won't finish by Christmas. My only hope is that the two smaller sweaters will not take as long as the first one. The first one is made in pieces, but I'm planning to make the other two with fewer seams. Actually, the first sweater is not the first sweater. I started with a sweater for the middle child, but it looks too small to layer over a shirt. That's okay, I can always gift it to a charitable organization since it is a perfectly darling sweater.

The most troubling aspect of running short on time to complete a task is that the process leaves me weary of knitting rather than excited and energized as I usually am. Oh well, I'll get over it when I complete the planned projects and get to knit what I want to knit.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Last Wednesday, I took two items to enter in the Panhandle South Plains Fair. One was the Leafy Fall Cardigan which I entered in the division for knitted sweaters. The second is my Geese Gone Goofy ruana, a knee-length wrap made of fingering weight yarn. It is knit so that there are diagonal stripes, and all in garter stitch. I figured that I knit a bit more than a mile of yarn into the rauna, but because the yarn is light weight, the garment is drapey and light, very comfortable to wear. I entered it in the knitted coats division.

Yesterday, I went to the fair to visit my sweaters. I have never before even considered entering anything at the fair. I was really surprised to see that both garments received blue ribbons. I will post pictures as soon as I have them ready.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cardigan completed

This morning, I completed my leafy fall cardigan. It is beautiful. I like the derived design made by combining features of Jean Frost's Hanover jacket and Ruthie Nussbaum's Minimalist Cardigan and adding a couple of features that were my own design elements. I really like the result and the yarn is soft and drapey. I hope to have some photos posted tomorrow. (Pictures did not show the garment well, so I'll have to try again.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sock woes

Several days ago, I got as far as the middle of the leg of the second sock when I decided to suspend working on it because it will not be suitable to be a fair entry. The reason for its current status is that the socks are for me and therefore, the left leg must be larger than the right leg due to my lymphedema. So---, I have started a second pair of almost "Spring Thaw Socks" for the fair. These are made from Paton's Stetchy Sock yarn, very like the Dancing yarn that Knit Picks used to carry. The colors in the ball look sort of like old bubblegum stuck to the bottom of a desk. When the yarn is knitted, the color blend really comes alive with purples, greens, cream, pink. Unfortunately, because the yarn is multicolored, the leaves don't show up as well as they do with solid colored yarn. I have begun the outer spiral of leaves over the knuckle of the great toe instead of in the middle of the top of the foot, and I am eliminating the inner spiral. So far, I like the derived design a bit better than the original. I'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.

I really need to complete the "Leafy Fall Cardigan" by assembling the pieces. All the knitting is completed and the pieces have been blocked. It will be a lovely, soft, colorful sweater -- perfect for cool fall days and a great addition to my wardrobe -- I hope. I have not yet tried on the sweater, so I don't know how it will fit me. Perhaps, sewing the cardigan together will be my craft night project for tonight.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

One sock down ...

Last night I completed the first sock of the pair of Spring Thaw Socks. There is absolutely nothing boring about knitting this pattern. Just as you are about to complete one leaf, you have to start the next one. On the leg portion of the sock, one may be working on as many as three leaves at once, all at different stages in the chart.
For the first time, since this is the first time I've knitted socks toe-up, I bound off at the top of the sock. The pattern called for using the tubular bind-off. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out the tubular bind-off, and a bit more of a challenge to ensure that the sock top would fit around my leg. I measured my calf and then found a can (a tuna can) in the pantry that had the same circumference as my calf. I bound off most of the sock making sure I left it somewhat loose, and then inserted the tuna can and completed binding off. It worked well.
Now, what will I do for the other sock? Because I have lymphedema, my left leg is 4 inches larger at the sock top than my right leg. I may have to go up a needle size on the leg of the left sock. I don't usually have to make any adjustment; however, as I've said before, this is the first pair of toe-up socks I've made.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sh-sh-sh! Christmas gift socks

The photo above is a pair of socks I have knitted as a Christmas gift, one of eight pairs knitted so far since March. I won't say who they are for because I do want them to be a surprise. The leg of the socks is the maple seed spiral stitch pattern Angela Hahn used on a hat she created. I think the pattern comes from one of the Barbara Walker books; however, I haven't found it yet. I intended to continue the spiral onto the instep, but that does not work out. The maple seed spiral stitch pattern is a simple 4-row sequence that is very easy to memorize. On the left sock, the pattern spirals one direction and on the right sock, the pattern spirals the opposite direction.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Socks defrosted

No, I am not finished with my cardigan, but I have started the Spring Thaw Socks. Wow, what a fun knitting project and what a gorgeous design. This is the first pair of toe-up socks I have made. Instead of using Judy Becker's Magic Cast-on that Cat Bordhi called for in the pattern, I used the Turkish Cast-on. All I can say is that it's amazing to take yarn wrapped around two needles and begin knitting. The toe looks great, continuous, seamless, uninterrupted stitches. I struggled a bit with the increases and frogged the toe when I discovered that the increases did not look symetrical because I had not done them correctly. After about 20 false starts, I finally succeeded in getting the first sock started yesterday (8/28/08) morning. I made good progress, yesterday. This is not a design for the faint-hearted, but I think it will be rewarding to successfully complete it.

And yes, I will complete the cardigan. I am very good at finishing projects that I start. That's what I say, and I'm standing by it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No joy in Mudville

On Monday, August 25, I completed the second sleeve. Yesterday, I frogged the back neck trim because of an error at the shoulder seam. I have reknit and attached half of the neck trim and will try to redo the other side tonight. I should have the sweater completed by Friday night. It seems, I just cannot break the 3-week barrier.

I have started the Spring Thaw socks, my first pair of toe-up socks. They are lovely, but the increases don't match. I'll have to re-examine that technique, and maybe frog the sock. The twisted ribbing really looks neat, much better than my regular one-by-one ribbing.

I hope to get some photos posted this week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ouch! Sore muscles

Who knew knitting could be such strenuous exercise. I am sore all over from sitting and knitting. I finished the first sleeve this morning, washed it and blocked it. It is drying at this time. I don't see any possibility of completing the cardigan before the end of the closing ceremony. Oh, well! I will probably get it finished on Sunday afternoon. This is a record for me. My previous record for knitting a sweater was three weeks, and that was for short-sleeve, mostly stockinette sweaters, albeit made with skinny yarn. I am quite pleased with my work on this, both the design and the knitting. The yarn has been great to work with and I like my hybridized design. I'll put some progress photos up tonight or tomorrow and a finished photo on Sunday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sailing right along ...

On Tuesday night (Aug. 19), I finished the fronts of my cardigan, attached the fronts to the back, completed the back neck trim and tucked in all the yarn ends. On Wednesday morning, I cast on for the first sleeve and as of this morning, I was up to the elbow. Also, this morning, I blocked the bodice of the sweater. Blocking it required quite a bit of scrunching to conform it to the measurements. It really looks beautiful to me. I'm thinking more and more that this cardigan will be entered into the fair. I've never entered any projects in the fair (Panhandle South Plains Fair), but this seems a likely candidate. My Geese Gone Goofy ruana may also be entered once I redistribute the yarn that got caught in a brooch while hanging in my closet -- reminder that I need to post photos of this project.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Behind, as usual

Why is it that when we work on a project, we tend to underestimate the amount of time needed to complete the project. I have never been known to overestimate the time needed. Contrary to what I stated in my previous entry, I did not compete the fronts of my cardigan and attach them at the shoulders by bedtime on Saturday. It is now Tuesday, and I'm still working on the back neck trim. Maybe I'll finish that part today, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's my birthday, and I'm hoping my husband has dreamed up a fun celebration -- at least a yummy dinner out.

Yesterday, I received a really neat present from my daughter and her family including her three little pre-school boys. In the package was a birthday cake (plastic bag of dry ingredients and instructions for making the cake) and a booklet of the boys' artwork. I love it! And, I love them -- one and all. A coworker gave me the book, Knitting for Peace. How special it is to work with friends who understand and affirm my passion for knitting and/or sewing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Making "expected" progress

The fronts of my cardigan are about half done. I think I should be able to complete the fronts, join the fronts to the back at the shoulders, and attach the back neck trim before bedtime on Saturday. Then, all I'll have left to knit is the sleeves. That sounds really good; however, my history with knitting sleeves is that they seem to take a long time to knit. Logically, I should be able to knit the sleeves and complete the sweater by the end of Wednesday, but I'll bet I won't finish until Friday. I have never been able to figure out why sleeves take me so long to knit -- it's just always been that way.

I am still hoping to get the socks done as well as the cardigan, but I have to take some time out to walk and get some exercise or I'll be a "basket case" by the end of the Olympics. It's funny how Olympians get more fit as they compete while Ravelympians accumulate more adipose tissue and aches and pains as they compete.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sock yarn arrives -- finally!

Yesterday, the yarn for my Ravelympics socks arrived. I can't say I'm thrilled about the color, but it will be okay once it is knitted into socks. I just hope I will have time to make them.

The fronts of my cardigan are started, but the knitting is going much more slowly than the back. The yarn from the two balls tangles so easily and has to be periodically untangled. Just putting down and picking up between the two fronts uses valuable time. I may decide to make the sleeves one at a time rather than both at once. I have no doubt that I can finish this project within the allotted time, but the socks -- that's another matter.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The back of the cardigan is finished. Now to cast on the fronts. I did not make as much progress as I had hoped I would yesterday. By the time I got home from work, I was hurting all over -- every muscle, every joint.

"Got to move it -- MOVE IT!!" "Get physic-ally fit!!"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Knitting is going swimmingly

Three days of knitting when I can, and I'm up past the armpits on the back of my cardigan. I think that is good progress. I should be able to finish the back and cast on for the front by bedtime tonight. The yarn is really good to work with and shows off the texture very well.

Since I am such a buxom broad, I have decided to modify the front pattern slightly to add more ease over the bustline. I will add another pattern sequence to each side of the front, then decrease those stitches away after I've done the armscye shaping -- sort of a dart next to the front panel. I see no reason at this time that it would not work out well.

The yarn for my second Ravelympics project has still not arrived. I'm not exactly depressed over the delay because I'm not at all sure I will even be able to get to the socks after knitting the cardigan.

All this sitting and knitting is taking a toll on my neck and shoulders -- must take time to get some exercise.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ravelympics Knitting

I have been neglectful about posting knitting in my blog; however, that does not mean I have not been knitting. This year, I decided it was about time I learned to knit socks. After knitting three pairs of socks for myself, I concluded that if I started right away, I will be able to knit a pair of socks for each female member of my family for Christmas. At this time I am well on my way to my goal having knit either nine or ten pairs. I will post photos of the socks soon.

This morning at 7:00 a.m. CDT, I cast on for my Ravelympics knitting. I have entered in two events: the Sweater Sprint and the Sock Put. My team is the Lone Star State Knitters. The sweater I have planned to knit and which I began this morning is a cardigan styled like the Minimalist Cardigan designed by Ruthie Nussbaum for the Fall 2007 issue of Interweave Knits; however, I am using the stitch pattern combination from Hanover in Jean Frost Jackets. I have combined the two designs with a few changes of my own, run the whole thing through SweaterWizard so that the instructions conform to my yarn and stitch gauge, and modified the file to produce instructions for the knitting. The yarn is Lily Chin Park Avenue merino and alpaca, and I get 22 sts and 30 rows in Shadow Rib pattern on US size 7 needles.

My other Ravelympics project is the Spring Thaw socks designed by Cat Bordhi and published in the Summer 2008 issue of Knitter's Magazine. I will use apple green Essential sock yarn from Knit Picks, if my shipment arrives in time (ordered on July 16).