Monday, December 5, 2011

Motivation Monday* - Grab a Friend and Go

   *Notes from a knitter who is attempting to run her first marathon.

Often running is a solitary activity for me.  I enjoy the peace and quiet of the trail, and the time to let my mind wander as I settle into my own pace.   Once in awhile though, I enjoy a little help from my friends.  When someone else goes with me, I am grateful for that extra motivation to get out the door.

My hubby has been kind enough keep me company on my longer runs so that I'm not alone on the more isolated trails.  He has no interest in running, which I consider a bonus as he can carry extra water on his bike.
Now we know of a new spot to go picking during fig season.
I snapped this pic of him just after he insisted I pause in my run to take a deep breath of the coconut-like aroma wafting off of this huge fig tree.  Enjoying the outdoors together more often has been a fringe benefit which I hope will continue after the race.

Karen is my weekend walking partner.  She has been motivating me to get out onto the river trail on Saturday mornings long before I decided to start running again.
It was a happy accident that we both showed up in our
Falling Leaves Hats on the day I wanted a photo for this post.
She's always up for a walk, even if it's rainy and cold.  I know I can meet her on the trail in my grubby exercise clothes and we can chat about our week.  There have been mornings when it would have been all too easy to stay on the couch except for the knowledge that she was waiting at the trailhead.  Thanks Karen!

Tera is my friend from Oregon who motivated me to run a marathon in the first place.
Here we are after a 16 mile run.
I hope we look this happy after our 26 mile run!
She recently drove down from Portland to run part of the actual marathon course with me.  Just as when we used to jog together in college, she motivated me to go that extra mile during our practice run.

I hope it doesn't stop there.  I mentioned in an earlier post that our teenager joined me in the Turkey Trot, and I sincerely hope we started a new tradition.   Also, since I started posting on the blog about running, Amber let me know she plans to run a half-marathon in the Spring.  So maybe we can go for a run sometime, that is, if I can keep up with her!   And anyone else reading this who is a local friend, and who wants to join in, just drop me a line.

I would encourage anyone who is looking for that little bit of extra motivation to find an exercise partner.  Whatever activity you enjoy, grab a friend and go!  You'll both be happy you did.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This FO was a labor of love . . .

                                     . . . and truly a team knitting project!

Every once in awhile, a knitting project comes along that gives you a chance to show someone just how much you care.  My dear friend Angie, who first got our knitting group going, was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago.  She has a good prognosis, a positive attitude, and a stellar support team.  But all of that can't change the fact that the situation is lousy.

As the news spread, of course everyone wanted to help in whatever way they could.  One friend, acting as her awesome "techno-secretary", helped her start her own blog to keep friends and family informed.  There have been meals planned, distraction provided by playing Words With Friends (what sacrifices we make!), and hopefully, emotional support provided.  But leave it to our friend Betsy to come up with the wonderful idea of a group knitting project, and thus the blanket of love was created.

Photo by Amber Galusha of the Nature-Drunk Blog.

Pattern:  Mitered Crosses Blanket -- for Japan by Kay Gardiner
Source:  Published in the Mason-Dixon Knitting Blog, PDF purchase available on Ravelry.
Materials:  Noro Silk Garden in various colors, Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in "Creme", and US 6 needles.

Betsy happens to be a great instigator of marathon knitting projects!   In addition to being the key motivator on the blanket, she also acted as the "hostess with the mostest" last year when she invited our knitting group to stay at her family's coastal getaway for a weekend Fair Isle knitting class.  We didn't find out until after arriving that we would be knitting our entire Fair Isle Tote in 3 days, even though the weekend class was normally taught over the course of a few weeks. Just as we relished knitting together then, we poured our group energy into finishing the blanket before Angie's first surgery.

Each member of the knitting group (excepting the giftee, of course): Betsy, Karen, Lisa, Amber, and I, plus Marilyn, who taught us how to knit, chose a different skein of Noro Silk Garden.  Then we all proceeded to knit a square or two.  We met for extra knitting nights and had secret lunch knitting meetings.  We sent out group emails with care, double-checking that we left Angie off the mailing list. Finishing work continued as a collaborative effort as tasks of weaving in ends, seaming squares together, knitting the I-cord edging, and washing and blocking the blanket were carried out by various members of the knitting group.

As we knit, we were amazed at how Kay Gardiner of the Mason-Dixon blog, created such a well thought out pattern for Noro Silk Garden. Just look at how the colors naturally transition in each miter:

It is almost hard to believe that each of the colors of the mitered
corners flow naturally from just one skein of Silk Garden yarn.

Of course there were many yarn ends to weave in on the back of the blanket!  In the end when Angie wrote a blog post (where you can see her new puppy Thor cuddling on the blanket) about the support she had received, my favorite response in the comments section was from Betsy, who said: "Glad Thor approves of the blanket; It is full of love.  And if you ever doubt our friendship, just look at the back!"

I hope the blanket is keeping Angie warm right now, and I wonder what marathon knitting project Betsy will come up with next!

As always, you can read about other knitters showing their love with knitted FOs at Tami's!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Motivation Monday* - A Practice Race

  *Notes from a knitter attempting to run her first marathon.

As I look forward to the race in January, I feel a bit nervous.  To make myself less so, I am familiarizing myself with various aspects of the marathon.  Mostly this involves running sections of the course beforehand.  However, I also wanted to practice the whole experience of pinning a number on my shirt, approaching a starting line, and taking off with a crowd.  Last week, I got to do just that by signing up for our local Turkey Trot.  I even talked our teenager into keeping me company.  Although he is athletic, he had no particular interest in rising early to run 6 miles in the cold.  All it took to change his mind was the promise of his own pumpkin pie.

He originally agreed to jog along with me, but he became quite excited as we were surrounded by other runners at the starting line.  I encouraged him to take off.  I didn't want to hold him back in case he actually enjoyed himself and wanted to run with me more often in the future.  I stuck to my own comfortable pace, admired the scenery, and took pleasure in the communal experience of running the course with 1300 other people.

The day offered up plenty of practice opportunities.  At times I am tempted to speed up when I am near other runners, but in the marathon I will have to pace myself to make it to the end.  During the Turkey Trot I certainly got used to being passed, and I didn't even mind.  Also, I will rely on the aid stations for hydration during the marathon, and I was happy to see a water station during the Turkey Trot.  I would have practiced accepting a cup and drinking without stopping, but instead I got to practice stopping and removing a rock from my shoe!  All in all, it was a lot of fun to chat with other runners who happened to be nearby, as well as to hear a few cheers from the sidelines.

I met my boy at the finish line and asked him if he enjoyed himself enough to run with me more.

His answer?

"As long as there is pie!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

FO Friday: I finished it but I still need to fix it!

I hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their loved ones.  I know I have much to be grateful for including this wonderful knitting community!

This week I finished the first of the Howlcats which I had planned to knit as Christmas gifts:

I usually like to take an FO photo of a hat when it is actually being worn on someone's head.  There is only one problem.  This FO doesn't fit on anyone's head because the bind off is too tight.  I went up in needle size and tried to keep it loose but it still just doesn't have enough stretchiness to it.  I plan on ripping out the bind off and redoing it with Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off.  I think it will be fine after that.

Does that count as an FO?

Redoing the bind off will go quickly, but it is forcing me to reevaluate my gift knitting plan.  I have 6 more gifts I'd like to knit, and only 4 more FO Fridays before Christmas.  Yikes!  While I love a good long stretch of stockinette knitting, I think some other quick-knit hat patterns may be in order at this point.  Maybe Bubbles for one of the kids, and an earflap hat for the other one.

The good news is, out of the 6 gifts, 3 more of them are started.  Still, I have some serious knitting to do! Not such a bad thing, really.  Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing some FOs on the FO Friday list that are actually finished.  Maybe I will even get some more hat inspiration!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Now That's Customer Service!

When I think of holiday knitting, I think of Malabrigo.  I've also been drawn to two-color knitting patterns lately.  So, it seemed like a natural decision to make a few Howlcats for Christmas presents.

More hat inspiration from an FO Friday blog post,
thanks to The Knitting Squid this time! 

Off I went trolling the internet for beautiful color combinations of one of my favorite yarns.  Unfortunately, my usual online yarn haunts, such as Jimmy Beans and WEBS, were low in stock of the soft squishy stuff.  After much searching and clicking, I happened upon The Cozy Ewe.  I was excited to see a huge selection of color as well as the words "sale price".

The choices were almost overwhelming in their abundance but I managed to narrow it down.  I clicked through the ordering process, and immediately received a confirmation email.  The next day I was surprised to see a new email with the subject heading "Refund from the Cozy Ewe".  At first, I was concerned they were refunding my order because they were also out of stock.  Upon opening the email however, I was delighted to find that the shop owners had taken it upon themselves to send the yarn by priority mail which was faster and cheaper than the ground shipping I'd selected, and they were refunding part of the shipping cost to me!

A couple of days later this arrived:
Thanks Cozy Ewe!

I am still knitting away on the sleeves and collar of my MIL's Emily, but these Howlcats are the perfect portable knitting project for a busy Fall.  I cast on for the green one first.

Malabrigo worsted in "Cypress" and Malabrigo lace in "Lettuce"

When that is done, I have these taxiing the knitting runway:

Mmm, yarn cakes!

For more fiberphile eye candy, be sure to visit WIP Wednesday at Tami's!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Motivation Monday*: Music to Keep Me Moving

*Notes from a knitter who is attempting to run her first marathon.

I am fortunate to live in an area with beautiful running paths.  During most of my runs I am happy to enjoy the natural ambiance of the trail: the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, the bird calls, and the gurgling of the nearby Sacramento River.

The Ribbon Bridge - When I reach this point in the
marathon I will have less than 5 miles to go.

Once in awhile though, I'd rather not listen to the sound of my own feet hitting the pavement, and I need a little music to motivate me.  On those days, I am extremely grateful for the invention of the ipod.
I can put my headphones and know that a few happy and funky tunes will energize me.  Just for fun, I collected a few songs from my running playlist here to share with you:
(I found YouTube links for some, and tried to link to an MP3 player for others.  I hope this works!)

Iwoya  - Angelique Kidjo

Son of a Preacher Man  from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack
Son Of A Preacher Man

Beautiful Thing  - Conya Doss
Beautiful Thing

Change  - Joy Denalane

Dr. Feel Good  - Travie McCoy

What about you?  Do you have music that gets you in your groove when you need a little boost?  I would love to hear suggestions from you to expand my playlist.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The circular needle organizer goes to . . .

   . . .  Paula!  I will contact you for your mailing address and the needle holder will be on it's way to you soon.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my little contest.  I enjoyed reading each and every comment and I have installed many of the suggested apps on my new phone.  Tink and I have even been enjoying a round of Words With Friends.  Let me tell you, that woman is a word whiz.

I look forward to exploring more of the apps whenever I can wrestle my phone away from my 15 year old!

Friday, November 11, 2011

FO Friday: Not Your Grandmother's Knitting

    On second thought, I would not be the least bit surprised if quite a few of the other 939 projects on Ravelry based on the "fornicating deer" chart were, in fact, knit by actual grandmothers.

Here is number #940, knit by me:
Happy Birthday Leonard!
Pattern:  fornicating deer chart by Anne Rutten
Source:  free on Ravelry
Materials:  Cascade 220, Lion Brand Superwash Marino Cashmere, and US 7 needles
Modifications:  The free Ravelry download is a chart for the image, not an actual pattern.  My notes on turning it into a worsted weight hat are Raveled here.

What fun I had knitting this hat!  I brushed up my stranded knitting skills, learned a new skill (lining the hat), and as a bonus I learned some facts about reindeer, or caribou.  I had to do a little research after noticing that many Ravelers removed the antlers from the first deer on the chart.  Some noted that in most deer species, only the males have antlers, and their deer-hunting husbands wanted heterosexual deer on their hats, gosh darn it!  However, if you care about that kind of thing, you might also like to know that both male and female caribou have antlers.  I decided to think of reindeer, and left the antlers.  To each their own!

Here's a peek at the hat lining:
I could not find an on-line tutorial of the process,
so I'm sharing my method here.
After the top of the hat was complete, I picked up the provisional stitches from my cast on row, and knit a few inches with the Lion Brand (cashmere-blend softness without breaking the bank!) yarn.   I knit one last row with the main color and cut the yarn, leaving a tail long enough to tack down the live stitches to purl bumps all the way around the inside of the hat.  As I tacked down the stitches with a yarn needle, I was careful to keep my tension loose, to leave some room for the stitches to stretch when the hat is worn.

This lining does double-duty by covering up a lot of those pesky yarn floats, while adding softness to the brim of the hat.

A big "Thank you!" to Denise of the Knitting Kitties blog, for the hat inspiration.  I first spotted this pattern when she posted pics of the 3 deer hats she made last Christmas in an FO Friday post.

And that folks, is one of the many reasons it's worth checking out the lovely and exciting FO Friday list at Tami's Amis.  You never know when you might spot a project you will add to your queue in time for gift knitting!

P.S.  I will draw a number and announce a contest winner in the morning.  Thanks for your wonderful app suggestions everyone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday -The anti-procrastination version

Some things just lend themselves to procrastination more than others.  Recently I made a list of those things and I am trying to work my way through them.  So far, I've been to the dentist, bathed the dog, and cleaned out the refrigerator.   And then there is sweater seaming, which is in a class all by itself when it comes to my ability to procrastinate.

 I last posted about the Emily cardigan I am knitting for my MIL almost 6 months ago!  As with most sweaters I knit, it stalled when seaming became necessary.  I am happy to be over the hump.  The back and front pieces are joined and I have picked up stitches to knit the sleeves top-down and in the round so that seaming won't be a hang-up again.
Yay!  Only stockinette sleeves, and a collar left to knit.
I look forward to being able to post this cardigan on an FO Friday in the not too distant future.

But this hat jumped the queue, as it is a gift for a friend whose birthday is this coming Friday.  Here is just a peek:

I would have been even further along on it last night, but my stranded knitting skills were not improved by a glass of wine and an Netflix episode of Dexter!  After ripping out two mistakes, I went to bed.  I'll save the big reveal for Friday when it's finished.  I promise if you come back to see the FO you will agree that it's a funny gift for someone with an irreverent sense of humor.

Click here to go to my contest post where you can win a circular needle organizer.
Click here to visit a multitude of colorful WIPs at Tami's Amis.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Motivation Monday * - Information & Inspiration

   * Notes from a knitter who is attempting to run her first marathon.

One of the views I enjoy on my runs on the Sacramento River Trail  

When I decided to run the Redding Marathon, I wasn't exactly a couch potato, but no one was accusing me of being a runner either.  In fact, at first I was only jogging at a 15 minute-per-mile pace.  When I tried to enter these slow workouts into MyFitnessPal, I couldn't find a 15 min. pace under the heading of "Running".  After more searching I felt both amused and dismayed to see that this pace was actually called "Walking" in MyFitnessPal!

Clearly I needed information and inspiration in order to take it up a notch.  As usual, I turned to books for both.  First a visit to the library turned up The Essential Marathoner:  A Concise Guide to the Race of Your Life.  This book is a great source of practical information on training for a marathon for the first time.  I used their guidelines to come up with a basic training schedule which I can stick to and which I hope will allow me to get ready for the big day injury-free.

After perusing a few more running instruction manuals, I was ready for something more inspirational.  Right on time, my running partner loaned me a copy of Born to Run:  A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.  The description from the back cover reads: "An epic adventure that began with one simple question:  Why does my foot hurt?"  The author, Christopher McDougall, seeks the answer to his question in an incredible adventure that ends with him racing successfully with other ultra-runners in a 50 mile race up and down the Copper Canyons in Mexico.   This was such an enjoyable read, especially for an armchair traveller like me.  Though I'm still not convinced that I was "born to run", I felt inspired by the sheer joy of running that oozes off the pages of this book.  If nothing else, reading about ultra-runners pushing their bodies in 50, 100, and even 150 mile races makes running 26.2 miles seem not quite so crazy!

More inspiration from the River Trail -
this graffiti gave me a little happiness boost as I ran by.
Back to knitting:
Lastly, my current read, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben, is inspiring me to fit knitting back into my schedule along with the running.  As my dear readers know, I let the knitting and blogging fall by the wayside lately, and in missing it, I realized that knitting is part of what keeps me a happy camper!  One of Ruben's Secrets to Adulthood is "By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished."  I've gone back to keeping a knitting project handy, and knitting a little bit even if I only have 15 minutes free.  So I'm excited to be working on some knit gifts.  I'm almost done with my MIL's Emily cardigan and I've begun sorting patterns and yarn for Christmas presents!

Friday, November 4, 2011

An FO Friday Giveaway

    My most recent finished object is not a hand knit, but it is knitting-related, and it is a giveaway for one of you lucky knitting addicts!
   It is a circular needle holder created from the 
pattern in Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook.

I must admit that I don't sew, and I had some help with this.  But I did get to have all the fun of choosing fabric, doing the finishing work such as sewing on buttons, and creating the iron-on labels.  There is a slot for each circular needle size US 0 through US 17.  I have one of these holders myself, and I find it very handy.  Now I would like to give this one away in a random drawing.

The Contest:
It is kind of a silly contest!  I recently upgraded to a smartphone and I would like to hear suggestions from all of you about your favorite apps.  Don't worry about it if you don't have a smartphone.  You can still have a chance to win by leaving me a comment.  

I've downloaded a few apps but I would like to learn about more.  Are there any knitting-related apps you've found?  What else do you use?  Are there helpful apps for fitness, organizing finances, photography, and/or fun games?  So far I've downloaded just a few.  I'm using MapMyFITNESS to track my marathon training runs.  I'm just a little bit addicted to Words With Friends, and I may have skipped breakfast this morning because I was too busy playing Angry Birds!  Which is weird because I'm usually not much of a video game person.  Anyways, that is just to let you know that I am interested in any variety of apps.  

For a chance to win the knitting needle holder, leave a comment on this post by midnight next Friday, November 10th.  You can tell me about your favorite smartphone app, or tell me why you would like to win the needle holder, or even just say hello!  I will use a random number generator to pick a winner next weekend.

Edited to add:  Oops!  I posted in the wee hours and forgot to link back to Tami's Amis.  So, here you go:  check out all the lovely FO's!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hello Again FO Friday!

In the spirit of getting back to the blog, I present to you the one project I completed during my hiatus: Turkish Bed Socks for my sister:
They look even cuter on someone's feet, but you will
just have to trust me on that.  I didn't want to stretch them
out before sending them on as a gift.

Pattern:  Turkish Bed Socks
Source:  Churchmouse Yarn and Teas
Materials:  I only used half of a skein of Abstract Fiber Supersock, in the color "Burnside Bridge"; and US 1 needles.
Modifications:  The pattern includes directions for only one size.  To make them a bit smaller I knit with smaller needles than the pattern recommended.

A gratuitous cat photo, I admit, but it does give
you another view of the Turkish Bed Socks.
My pattern review:
Pros:  These bed socks are a great gift for someone who might not be wild about wearing hand knit socks out and about, yet still needs warm feet while hanging around the house.  Plus they make for a fun and quick knit.
Cons:  After paying full price for the pattern, I was surprised to discover that it only gave directions for one size.
Yet now that I have completed a pair, I think it was worth it.  It is pretty easy to adjust the pattern for size, and I will be making more of these.  In fact, I am almost done with my second pair.

As a bonus, when I visited the Churchmouse Yarns website today, I found that they currently have a lovely scarf pattern available as a free download.

Speaking of freebies, I am finishing up a project that I plan on giving away to one of you.  (The project has to remain a secret for now, but I think it is something any knitter would appreciate.)  I would like to thank my friends and readers for visiting, so check back soon for the contest.  I'm off to link up with Tami's Amis FO Friday post to get reacquainted with everyone.  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

S.W.E.A.T. and Sweaters

I'm still here!  Over the last couple of months, I've been absent from this space as I've been busy with a variety of things, but most of all because lately I've traded in my knitting needles for running shoes.

My good friend Tera, who originally taught me how to knit, has now motivated me to take on a new challenge.  We plan on running the Redding Marathon in January.  When I sent off my registration form and fee, I had to make the check out to "SWEAT" which is just so appropriate!

If I had realized 2 months ago that practice runs would suck up all the free time I usually devoted to knitting, I may have hesitated even more than I did.  However, now I am committed and I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of becoming a runner again.  Even though I ran on the cross country team in high school, and continued to take long runs just for fun during my college years, it was one of those hobbies that fell by the wayside when I became a parent.  That was 15 years ago, and it is high time I got my feet moving again!

I think I've established a routine of regular training, and I am now trying to squeeze knitting and blogging back into my daily life.  I have some knit gifts to finish up, but I have also allowed myself some selfish knitting to reinvigorate the passion for the stash.  I dug in to my yarn boxes, and cast on for not one, but two CocoKnits sweaters that have been in my queue for ages:  Silke and Maria.  I hope to wear these cosy sweaters to Stitches West in February.  At the moment, I am off to exercise, but I will be back soon to tell you more the knitting, the yarn dyeing, and maybe even a few posts about the running.

Monday, August 15, 2011

School's back in session!

After a long visit with friends and family in Oregon, we returned just in time to get our son ready to head back to school.  It feels bittersweet.  I wasn't ready for summer to end, and I still can't believe the boy is already a sophomore in high school!  At the same time, I must admit I was pretty excited to do the first carpool run early this morning and have the day stretching out ahead of me to get some projects done.  Not the least of which involve knitting and blogging!

Speaking of which, here is the itty-bitty amount of knitting I was able to accomplish since going out of town after my last post:

The good news is I was able to have my sister try on her partially finished Turkish Bed Sock, and now I know what I need to do to finish them up so that they fit her perfectly.  It's a clever little pattern, and I can already see that I will be knitting multiple pairs of these for gifts and for myself.

Even though school starts early here, and we still have some hot weather still ahead of us, I can just feel the Fall knitting season starting up.  I am envisioning casting on for sweaters again!  Woo-hoo!  I've also begun dabbling with my dye garden plants so I will have much to share soon.

Meanwhile, this post would not be complete without giving a big shout out to Angie -
 Happy Birthday Angie!  You deserve the best!  I'm looking forward to celebrating with you and the rest of the knitting group!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Halcyon Days

Halcyon -- n.  1. A kingfisher, esp. one of the genus Halcyon.  2. A fabled bird, identified with the kingfisher, believed to be able to calm the wind and waves while it nested on the sea during the winter solstice.   -- adj.  1. Calm and peaceful; tranquil.
     . . . . from The American Heritage College Dictionary

I was finishing up my Halcyon Socks
 as we drove by Mt. Shasta yesterday.
"Our current use of halcyon days tends to be nostalgic and recalling of the seemingly endless sunny days of youth." 
     . . . . from Wikipedia

The combination of colors and texture in these Halcyon Socks reminds me of all the summer vacations we have taken in Central Oregon with views of the Cascade mountains under blue skies.  So it was perfect that I was finishing them up as we drove home from dropping the boy off at camp in Oregon, and now I am writing this post as we get ready to pick him back up and go camp out in the high desert surrounding the Deschutes River, where hopefully we will be experiencing some more halcyon days before summer ends.

The Candy Skein "Blueberry Cobbler" colorway may be named after a treat, but it might as well have been made for the Halcyon pattern because the blues and browns are a perfect match for the Kingfisher birds with which the Halcyon legend is associated:

It's just knitting, but it makes me happy to find a great match between pattern and yarn, and finish up a project that I will associate with pleasant memories.

Pattern:  Halcyon Socks by Wendy D. Johnson
Source:  free PDF  from Wendy Knits 
Materials:  1 skein Candy Skein Yummy Fingering Superwash Sock in "Blueberry cobbler", and US 1 needles.
Modifications:  I cast on half of the total stitches with a provisional cast on before knitting a short-row toe.  This method, from Priscilla's Dream Socks, is my favorite for knitting seamless toe-up socks.  

I'm getting this post written just in time to link up with FO Friday at Tami's Amis because I wanted to show Tami, of Candy Skein, my finished socks.  Thank you, Tami, for custom-dyeing the awesome yarn for me!

Friday, July 22, 2011

FO Friday: Stash yarn + free pattern = Simple Pleasures

   Before I tell you about my latest FO, I just have to share an incident that happened in my kitchen earlier this week.  A few nights ago, my son was doing the dinner dishes and my husband was getting ready for bed.  Left to my own devices, I sat down to peruse Ravelry and read knitting blogs.

Here is the conversation I overheard between my guys when my DH came back into the room:

DH:  What's she looking at?
DS:  What do you think she's looking at?
DH:  (upon seeing pics of knit items on the computer screen)  Oh.
DS:  I swear, she's obsessed with knitting!
DH:  It's not so much that she's obsessed, it's that she's (pause). . . . Well, no, you're right.  She's obsessed.
DS:  It's an illness!

The conversation reminded me of the Never Not Knitting theme song that my friend (and fellow knitter) Jeanne introduced me to.  It cracked me up, and I'm sure you can all relate:

So, perhaps I am taking this knitting, blogging, and Ravelry addiction a little too far?
Nah.  There are worse things to be addicted to.

The good news is that while getting my Ravelry fix that night, I found this free pattern that is not only a good stash buster, but also makes a simple and comfy winter hat:

Pattern:  Simple Pleasures Hat from Purl Soho
Source:  free pattern from The Purl Bee  (Ravelry link here)
Materials:  I used Pigeonroof Studios Siren Two Sock in "Gilded Oak", some leftover Rowan Kidsilk Haze, and US 7 & 8 needles.
Modifications:  The hat is designed to be slouchy.  I wanted mine to be a little more snug so I went down 1 size from the recommended needles, and knit the crown of the hat a little shorter.  I only used about half a skein of each of the yarns, and my hat is still very roomy.

Even though it is too warm to wear right now, it was a great small knitting project for summertime.  I will probably do some stash diving to come up with at least one more color combination.  Finding the pattern was worth getting teased about my addiction to browsing knitting websites!

Click here to see what other fiber junkies have obsessed over this week.  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WIPW: 2011 Sock Plan Mid-Year Round Up

I started the year with an ambitious Bucket List, including a goal of knitting 12 pairs of socks in 2011.  It's now past the middle of the year and I've only just completed my 4th pair of socks.  (Okay, it's actually 3 and a half pairs, but I think that half counts!)   I'm not exactly keeping up with my goal.  But I am going to keep at it with a little help from my enablers friends.

The original idea behind the sock yarn plan, a la Yarn Harlot, is to focus on using yarn from the stash.  Somehow, it's not exactly working out that way for me .  Sock yarn seems to find it's way into my stash faster than I can knit it . . . not that I'm complaining!

1)   I recently purchased this beautiful yarn from Tami of Candy Skein.
Blueberry Cobbler sock yarn
I fell in love with her "Blueberry Cobbler" colorway.  She didn't have it in the fingering weight I wanted, so she took the trouble of custom dyeing it for me.  Even with the custom dyeing, the skein arrived in the mail quite promptly.  She provided great customer service and lovely yarn, don't you think?  This skein is already on it's way to becoming a pair of Halcyon Socks.

2)  At Stitches West, I picked up yarn for Susan Luni's Burning Stripes socks.  I'm even more excited about trying this pattern after knitting her Daylong Socks.  Especially because it will mean learning something new:  a "boomerang heel".  I'm not even sure what that it is but it sounds fun.
Mini Mochi

3)  I bought this skein in the colorway "Burnside Bridge" from the Portland, Oregon based hand-dyer Abstract Fibers.  I want to make something for my sister, who lives in Portland and drives over the Burnside Bridge on a regular basis.  Hmm, I wonder if she would prefer socks or a shawlette?  I have been looking for an excuse to make another pair of Monkey socks ever since Cookie A republished the pattern with more size options.
Abstract Fibers SuperSock in "Burnside Bridge"

4) Last year my friend Angie gave me this pretty skein that came all the way from Artist's Palette Yarns in Worcestershire, England.  She gifted me with a copy of the Carolina pattern as well, and I think the yarn and pattern are a great match.
Sweet Feet

5)  For the second year in a row, my knitting group (and Stitches West partners-in-crime) all purchased the same sock yarn for a sock KAL.  We ogled and fondled the yarn at the Miss Babs yarn booth for quite awhile before agreeing on some Windsor Sock Yarn.  I had almost decided to knit Cookie A's Marlene socks, but then I saw her new pattern Asymmetrical Cables.  I'm still undecided.  Opinions anyone?
Windsor Sock in "Clematis"
That's it for the next 5 pairs.  If I can get that far, I also have a few more patterns in my queue I would like to knit with my own hand dyed yarn.  Now, if only I could knit as fast as Yarn Harlot!

I'm off to view some other WIPs at Tami's Amis.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cabling Backwards

On my project page, I even explain how I got a finished
look on the toe by bringing the cable to a point.
As promised on my last FO Friday post,  I have written up my notes on how I modified the Daylong Sock pattern to include the cables.  In order to explain thoroughly both the placement of the cables to mirror the design, as well as how to cable backwards, it turned into quite a long-winded post.  These are notes you would need only if you decided to use my modifications to knit the Daylong Socks, so instead of boring you silly here on my blog, I have written up the notes on my Daylong Socks Ravelry page.  I do encourage you to try it!  Cabling backwards sounds more complicated than it is.  You are really just manipulating the purl and knit stitches in the opposite order.  Maybe you will even want to knit the princess-soled Daylong Socks with your own modifications!

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend!

Friday, July 15, 2011

FO Friday: Daylong Socks #2, with cables!

Fresh off the needles:
Heidi's socks with more flowers
from my dye garden, Dahlias this time.

Pattern:  Daylong Socks by Susan Luni (Ravelry link here, Susan's blog here.)
Source:  When I posted my first pair of Daylong Socks, Susan was still revising the pattern.  Now, it is available for purchase, and she has published a toe-up version as well!
Materials:  1 skein of Sun Valley Fibers MCN Fingering in "Pansy" (The "C" in "MCN" stands for cashmere, and this is incredibly soft sock yarn!),  US 1 needles.  
Modifications:  I added a cable to the k2, p2 ribbed pattern.  For symmetry, I placed the cables a few stitches away from the outside edge of each foot, and reversed the cable on the second sock. 

I wanted to make these socks special as a birthday gift for my friend Heidi who doesn't wear a lot of knit items.  She lives and works in a warm climate as an aquarist, and her daily routine includes caring for a large shark tank.  So when I went searching through my stitch dictionaries looking for that added touch, I was happy to find this simple, but pretty cable called "Riptide Wave".  I thought it would be perfect for her socks.  

Don't you think the "Riptide Wave" cable is
perfect for someone who works with sharks?

After I decided to knit these socks for Heidi, it took me months to actually get started on them.  But once I cast on I took them everywhere with me, in order to finish them up quickly.  I knit them at the bowling alley, at the batting cages, during a family movie marathon revisiting the Star Wars series, and while listening to an audio book that Heidi herself recommended to me:  "A Clash of Kings" by George R. R. Martin.   All in all, I think there is some seriously good mojo knit into these socks!

I got up early to finish the socks in time for FO Friday.  I promised I would explain how I continued working the cable backwards after turning the Daylong Socks inside out to knit the "princess soles".  But. now that I've gotten this far in the post, the chickens are squawking for their breakfast, and I need to work in the garden before it gets too hot outside.  I will come back later to write a post about how to cable backwards for anyone who is interested in doing something similar.  It's not as hard as you think!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Daylong Socks #2 - with added excitement!

Finally, I'm working on some socks for my friend Heidi.  When I first decided to knit these, I had trouble finding a pattern I wanted to use.  Which is kind of crazy, considering I just wanted something basic, and there are over 13,500 sock patterns to choose from on Ravelry alone!  Usually, my favorite pattern to fall back on for gift socks is Priscilla's Dream Socks, because it is so adaptable.  But this time I wanted something with a little more detail, but still not too fancy.  For one thing, through knitting patterns such as Cookie A's Monkey socks, and Grumperina's Jaywalkers, I've learned that socks with some ribbing or cables on the foot usually have a little more elasticity than plain stockinette socks, and therefore a better fit.  But I couldn't decide if Heidi would want socks with such an elaborate pattern either.

Now, here we are in July, her birthday month, and I've come up with what I hope will be a lovely compromise:
Heidi's socks with Hollyhock blossoms from my dye garden.

I am using the Daylong Socks pattern as a guide to end up with princess soles, but I added a cable for a little more visual interest.  The added excitement came as I turned the heel, and remembered that the Daylong Socks "princess sole" is made by turning them inside out and reversing the direction of the knitting.  Which meant I needed to continue the cable backwards!  Thankfully, it wasn't too difficult to do just that.  I hope to finish by Friday when I can tell you all you ever wanted to know about backwards cabling.

Do you have a WIP to share?  Join in the WIP Wednesday link party at Tami's Amis.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Knitting in Paradise Part 3

Back to familiar grounds:
We ended our trip by spending a few nights in a rental house near the beautiful Waimea Bay on the Kona side of the Big Island. We had stayed there before, so after our other adventures the familiarity made it feel a bit like home.   We were able to settle in and we were all looking forward to the activities we remembered from our previous visit.

Our boy remembered the house's resident geckos, and we hadn't even unpacked the car before he found one of his old friends:

They mostly eat insects, but they like fruit too!

I was happy to be back at this beach for both the sheer physical beauty of the place . . .

. . . as well as for the snorkeling.  Just for fun, we picked up one of those cheap underwater cameras.  The pictures didn't come out very well but it was fun to try.

Can you see the octopus?  This one hung out with us for awhile.

After seeing all the turtles on the beaches,
it was exciting to swim along with this one.

Best of all was having fun as a family!

At times the guys couldn't decide between fishing or snorkeling so they did both at the same time!
You might think it's easier to catch the fish
when you can see them, but it's not!

And I was able to get back to some serious knitting, all the while appreciating my yarn colors even more in the beautiful surroundings:
My Daylong Socks matched the flowers blooming
on a tree in the back yard of the rental house.

We almost didn't want to return, but of course it was still good to get back home.  Thanks to Angie and her family, the cats, the chickens, the sheep, and the vegetable garden were in great shape when we got back.  Thank you Angie!

As for the knitting, my last 2 FOs (my Daylong Socks, and my Cedar Leaf Shawl) will always remind me of the trip.

What about you?
Are you getting to do a little travel knitting this summer?
Do your knitting projects remind you of the places you've been, and of whatever else you were doing during the time you were knitting them?