Thursday, November 30, 2006

For My Boy

I'll admit right now to bribing the kid to get him to model the hat. Cartoon? Cookies? your bets now on how often Slim will actually wear his new Elf hat.
The Specs:

Pattern: Elf Swirl from Kids' Knitted Hats by Cabin Fever
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon
Amount: 3/4 of a 330y/300m skein, I bet enough left over to make little mittens or fingerless gloves for Slim
Colorway: #206, Lumberjack Black
Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo US4 (3.5mm), set of 5 dpns, and an Addi Turbo US4 metal circular
Time: eh, who knows?
Circumference: 110 sts, 18 in.

Notes about the pattern: To create the swirl, it called for an SSK after each marker and a YO before the next marker. What happens the round after you create a YO? That's right, a big hole. The book's pictures did not show a line of holes to the side of each swirl, and I really didn't want them there. So after about 6 rounds like this, I put the hat aside for awhile.

I hate ripping back, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to fix the YO holes any other way, and I wasn't going to finish the hat if I left them in. So I pulled back all 660 stitches in those rounds and started the swirl again. I ended up knitting through the back loop when I came to the YOs and closed up the holes. That's my favorite type of increase anyway -- works great on toe-up socks.

After I started the swirl decreases, the hat started moving a lot faster. Some other good things about the hat: It perfectly matches Slim's new coat (everyone is still going to think he is a girl between the hat and the coat) and it uses up a ball of self-striping yarn that I bought back when I was really into the stripes. I want to start making solid-color socks, preferably some of Nancy Bush's, and besides, the Cap'n is hating the striped socks. So this way, the yarn (on sale from Michaels) did not go to waste in the stash.

I also modified the pattern by adding two (way too long) I-cord ties. The only way that you're seeing this hat on Slim's head is bribery and the ties. He's like that with socks, too. They don't stay on for long if his shoes are off. I first made each I-cord and then attached them by picking up stitches inside the hat and then binding off the I-cord and the picked-up stitches together. I was pretty pleased with myself.

We've had some scares with cold weather blowing through the DC region, and no hat for Slim's head, but clearly I am responsible for global warming as I have finished the hat on a 70 degree day at the end of November.

It may also be a sign of the upcoming apocalypse that this hat actually fits Slim. Originally I thought this was my 4th try in making a hat for him, but the Cap'n corrected me: It's actually #5.

First was made before my knitting class last November when I was determined to make a hat for Slim. I used the Knifty Knitter small loom and Lion Brand boucle yarn. The crazy thing barely fits one of Slim's teddy bears. One could say I knit a little tight. I mangled the loom knobs so bad, I don't know how it will work for another hat.

Second was a cute little earflap hat made with Lucia's cool calculator and some Debbie Bliss cotton/angora. Perhaps it was made without a gauge swatch or head measurements. Perhaps. was gifted to my cousin's new baby.

Third was another earflap cap; this one also from the Cabin Fever pattern book. I thought I was being quite brilliant, making my own calculations to adjust between sportweight and worsted weight yarns. I thought I was getting better about at least measuring his head before I cast on. And I was very pleased how my first Fair Isle attempt turned out. When I finished, I was prepared to turn a blind eye to how it actually fit Slim, until my youngest sister tried the hat on and I realized it looked cuter when it actually fits. Even if it fits a 17-year-old, not a 1-year-old.

Fourth was another Cabin Fever pattern: Candy Dots. I really can't tell you what went on there. I believe I measured Slim's head wrong. Luckily the appreciative Cap'n has adopted the hat and wants matching slip-stitch mittens.

So here we are...a FO to build my confidence just before Saturday's rapidly approaching LSAT. Likely no blogging til Sunday or later so I have time to decompress after the test. Then it's on to finishing the applications, preferably before holiday vacations start on the 22nd.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

3,000 years and 3 days old

Happy Blogiversary to Me!!! (3 days late)

My family will probably recognize the title reference. I have a very crafty grandfather, a woodworker, folk painter, creator, who has gone through very unusual phases of craft in his life. Between "authentic" Native American artifacts -- he is British-born, actually -- he occasionally took up making "real" Egyptian scarabs that were "3,000 years and 3 days old."

PawPaw sold these items at the flea markets to buddies who would act as middlemen and pass them on. Whenever any of us would express qualms about the public purchasing these objects, PawPaw would tell us something that has always stuck with me: "People buy the story you tell them. That's the real value."

Isn't it true? Isn't it why we write, particularly on these blogs?

We could all throw up pictures on our blogs, just to share our knitting. We could post tutorials and technical tips on how we accomplished what we did. But it's the story of how and why we do what we do that keeps my blogroll long.

I'd like to use this blog in my second year to tell more stories, both to myself and to any readers out there. I don't feel like I went as deep as I had originally hoped when I set out on this blogging journey. It's been wonderful to have the outlet, but I've felt constrained when writing about my everyday feelings -- partly from not wanting this to be all bitchin-n-moanin, and partly because my inner editor is pretty strong.

This next blog year, I hope to tell more stories, both of yarn and of motherhood. Sometimes just taking the time to blog was an obstacle (yeah, that'll improve with a newborn in March), but I need the creative outlet. I have to take the time and not feel guilty about it -- consider it an investment in my sanity.

Maybe I'll delve into the creativity that surrounds me everyday to inspire blogging in my second year. As I was telling the Cap'n the other day, our home is really one that is full of creation. It's everything from the art on the walls to the knitting books, Slim's daily journey learning new tricks to the piles and piles of yarn. We have made a home made up of creativity, and I'm proud of it. I would like more of that to come out on the blog.

So here's to Blog Year 2, and everything that keeps getting better as it grows. Two is better than one! Clearly when you're talking pacifiers too...

(Slim disappeared for a minute and was a little too quiet...I should have known. He found both of these in the bedroom and came into the living room carrying them like this. That's us...we bring the crazy.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lucky Number 7 (and Thanksgiving)

From overeating to family visiting, studying to baby wrangling, it's been hard to blog about knitting. It's been hard to knit. But the Lucky Number 7 Law School Socks are finally in my sock rotation.

I say rotation: These are the only handknit socks I've made for myself. I rotate them with my truly lovely handknit Socks of Doom. But these will not be my last handknit sock presents to myself.

This is the 7th pair of socks I've made since I took the sock class from Karida at Stitch DC in mid-March. There is something about handknit socks that I didn't realize before getting these and the Socks of Doom on my feet. I adore them. I feel like I'm walking on air, and that never hurts a waddling pregnant lady with a grouchy toddler.

The Specs:

Pattern: Chevron from Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit, colorway 5060
Amount: I'd guess 3/4 of a 420m skein. Maybe enough left over to make baby socks?
Needles: Addi Natura US2 (3.0mm) set of 5 DPNs
Circumference: 66 stitches
Time: um....

These socks started their life in secret, as a focus for my job search much earlier this fall. Then when I made the decision to go for law school this year and study for the LSAT (this Saturday....AAAIIEIEEE!!!), they became my Law School Socks. I finished them last week and wore them Monday to my last practice test before the big one this weekend. Maybe they'll bring me luck!

Some notes on the socks: This is the second of the chevron-type patterns I've made from SKS. I gave the Welt Fantastic socks to my MawMaw. I only made those on 64 stitches, and they were smaller than my feet. These fit wonderfully, though I am worried about how they will wear. I got gauge for the yarn (7 sts per inch), but I'm worried that the socks aren't knit tightly enough to wear well. Does anyone out there have any experience with this? On the positive side: If my feet swell with this pregnancy as bad as they did last time, then I think these will still fit.

Thanks to Alison, the awesome hostest with the mostest of the Sensational Knitted Socks KAL, the forethought heels turned out great on this pair, compared to the Welt Fantastic pair. Instead of decreasing down every other row on the heel, I followed her advice to go halfway decreasing every other row, then start decreasing every row. Bingo! No nipply heels.

You'll notice the unmatched stripes on the Lana Grossa. It may be possible to create identical socks from this yarn, but I think that would be crazy-making, and we all know that there's enough of that to go around in this house already. Cap'n thinks these are ugly, and says that he wouldn't wear them, but we've already established that he will only get very, very boring socks knit by me. Or Norwegian stockings, his other choice.

So now I'm back on track with my Sock-a-Month commitment, and have just extended the Socktoberfest fun for another month. I just counted up, and I've made 7 socks in the 9 months since I learned. Not too shabby. Better than I thought I was doing. I'm still hoping to get a pair done for December as well. Maybe the Magic! Loop! still OTN??

Oh, and you wanted to hear about the 4 Kitchener stitches (two heels and two toes) on this pair of socks? Smooches! I (HEART) Kitchener stitch. Nevermind any aspersions that may have been cast before when knitting the Welt Fantastic socks. Forget any loud grousing, foot-stomping or other tantrum-throwing made in the past. I LOVE KITCHENER STITCH. I may just start using it on every project, called for or not. It makes such a beautiful line of stitches, and I love the little "knit, purl, purl, knit" mantra I can chant. MWAH!

And in other socky news, my so-far-blogless yet newly knitting sister just finished her first sock: a Fuzzyfoot on dpns. YAY! Felting updates to come...

So in non-knitting news, my non-knitting (maybe soon-to-be crocheting?) sister got to play with Slim McCool this Thanksgiving weekend, and we had multiple opportunities to gorge ourselves. A fun time was had by all.

Some are just born having more fun than others.

P.S. You know, I really do stay warmer with just the addition of a scarf. I've been chilled this evening, and My So-Called Scarf is just the ticket.

P.P.S. Another F.O. to come after some I-cord and Slim modeling pics.

P.P.P.S. There's still time to weigh in on suggestions for the next pair of socks I should knit. Suggestions?

Friday, November 17, 2006

One. Word. (oops)

I like this, since I really shouldn't be blogging right now, but am being an avoider.

You can only use one word to describe each item.

1. Yourself: studying
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): sexy
3. Your hair: long
4. Your mother: generous
5. Your father: busy
6. Your favorite item: yarn
7. Your dream last night: chase
8. Your favorite drink: DC
9. Your dream car: ours
10. The room you are in: coffeeshop
11. Your ex: who?
12. Your fear: failure
13. What you want to be in 10 years? better
14. Who you hung out with last night? Cap'n
15. What you're not? rested
16. Muffins: no
17. One of your wish list items: time
18. Time: out
19. The last thing you did: read
20. What you are wearing: scarf
21. Your favorite weather: today
22. Your favorite book: all
23. The last thing you ate: bun
24. Your life: moving
25. Your mood: optimistic
26. Your best friend: husband
27. What are you thinking about right now? LSAT
28. Your car: feet
29. What are you doing at the moment? blogging
30. Your summer: traveling
31. Your relationship status: wonderful
32. What is on your TV? nothing
33. What is the weather like? sunny
34. When is the last time you laughed? earlier

Back to the books!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Things I Keep Forgetting...

I'm going to write this stuff down before I forget again.

1. MawMaw said she loves her Welt Fantastic socks, especially since she broke her foot earlier this year and had to have screws and plates put in. She says her foot hurts like a toothache when it gets cold, but that the socks keep her feet nice and warm.

2. The Malabrigo yarn was acquired at the Brooklyn General Store, conveniently located just a few blocks from my SIL's house in Red Hook Brooklyn. They've recently moved from their basement location (where I first visited) to a street level shop that is brimming with great yarn choices all stashed in these vintage "general store" type shelves that came with the store. It's awesome.

3. Getting closer to the second heel on the Law School Socks. Just over two weeks to the test. Gotta keep moving. Any votes on the next pair of socks?
Choice A: any Nancy Bush pattern
Choice B: a lacy sock from Sensational Knitted Socks
Choice C: one of the cool Knitty patterns out lately
Choice D: Fuzzy Feet

4. B-L-O-C-K-I-N-G. eeek!!

5. Random blurry belly shot at 23 weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Less Yarn, More Baby

I just realized yesterday while talking to my Mom on the phone as she was scanning my blog, that she really only looks for kid pictures. That's OK. I know this is a blog (almost typed blob...Freudian slip) about knitting and motherhood, so for the fam...

Slim is a man on the move. This is him on a visit to the zoo with one of his new play buddies. Slim, of course, was stealing the other little boy's book. He's REALLY into his books. Even at 6 a.m. Love that. How can two night owls pop out such an early bird?

I think he's getting more teeth coming in, because his eating and sleeping have been a bit off. And we're moving into the phase where we need to come up with some "positive discipline" in dealing with small tantrums, hitting, throwing, etc. Any suggestions are welcome.

Overall, though, he's such a happy guy. I hope Baby Dos is the same way. Slim walks over to me and pulls at my shirt so he can pat my belly and give it a hug. He fondles my knitting probably as much as I do, and he loves to give kisses and cuddle.

We've been working a punk rock Bam-Bam look for him sometimes, since his hair is constantly in his eyes. Of course, everyone thinks he looks even more like a girl, no matter how much blue he's wearing or how many truck noises he's making. That's Auntie's Spam truck he's holding in the photo. He loves that truck.

Finally, this is Slim in a staring contest with the Cap'n. What do you think that signals for the future? Ha.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So-Called Progress

At last, there is knitting related FO content for the blog. I've been feeling a little blah lately about my knitting, despite the stash enhancement, and I think it is a function of not having anything done.

The Specs:

Pattern: My So-Called Scarf courtesy of Sheep in the City
Yarn: Malabrigo 100% merino wool
Amount: About 1 and a quarter skeins (which unfortunately are noticeably different in color, but probably enough left over to make a matching hat)
Colorway: Oro y Vino, except that one skein has more orange oro and the other skein has more coral oro
Needles: Boye US10.5 metal straights (funny story: These are the first needles I ever bought, and the first time I've ever used them.)
Time: about a week and a half
Width: 4-3/4 to 5 inches
Length: 76 inches

Unfortunately, it rolls a little on the edges, so if I made this pattern again, I would probably put a flat border around it to keep it from curling. The pattern stitch is beautiful, and I'm worried that it won't be seen as much since it's bunched up.

I made it extra long to accommodate my extra belly. Since it came out narrower than I wanted, I wanted to be sure I had enough to wrap around my neck twice and still hang low. Since I waddle to and fro. (That song in your head now?)

Today is officially my first knitaversary, and this is the first thing I've finished for myself. The sweater and a pair of socks are still on the needles (cross your fingers both will be done soon), but everything else has been gifted.

Knitting first bit me at Target, of all places. One day after first moving here to D.C., I was out shopping with Slim and spotted one of those "Learn to Knit" kits with some blue and green fun fur type yarn for a scarf, the Boye needles and a DVD that was supposed to teach you everything you needed to know. I was able to figure out the slipknot, but that was the extent of it. I got so frustrated, I told the Cap'n, "I'm going to have to take a class." And he said I it began.

I first cast on in a beginning knit class at Stitch DC. I've blanked on my teacher's name, but maybe she wasn't the greatest. Didn't matter. I still fell in love with the challenge of it. I've spent most of my life living up in my head, and it was so wild to create something with my hands.

The class project was a scarf out of Manos del Uruguay and two strands of Kidsilk Haze held together. I didn't like how thin it was, so it ended up being frogged and restarted as a scarf for my Safta. Now my anniversary scarf is out of another kettle-dyed Uruguayan yarn, and just as lovely as the first.

I'm disappointed I don't have my first sweater done by my first knitaversary, but I hope to have it done soon. I'm going to try blocking it tomorrow or Thursday. Then just the collar and seaming to go.

I'm going to treasure this scarf as a reminder of my first year knitting. It has been such a fulfilling creative release during that first year of motherhood, which carries its own share of frustration. I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy the learning process. There's so much more for me to learn and so many more projects I want to take on.

Here's to many more knitting years ahead!

P.S. I think I may be raising another knitter, too!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yarn Porn...At Last

Finally, as promised, a picture heavy yarn porn posting.

I know I've been talking it up so much it's going to seem anticlimatic, but the birthday yarn is awesome. Besides the yarny books, my family got me a gift certificate to Knit Happens, and I held onto it for awhile just to salivate over the possibilities. Silk or cashmere? Sweater or scarf? Do I really need more needles?

Finally I settled on this Sex on a Skein:

Y'all, you can't tell anything from this picture. Honestly. It's neither black, purple, blue or red. It's Scarlett's Dark Secret, and it's Alchemy Haiku's 40% silk/60% mohair lusciousness. It makes me lust. I know I want to make a shawl with it, but I feel the need to practice lace first on some slightly simpler yarn. Plus I still need to find a pattern for this. Any suggestions?

My other Knit Happens purchase was Lorna's Laces Black Purl. Because Hi! I am a Sock Yarn Ho!

Apologies for the flashy picture. I really want to find a pattern that highlights the pretty purple and grey variations in this yarn without causing any pooling or other funkiness. This will also be my first time working with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, so I'm psyched. I love the worsted weight stuff.

Also in Birthday Yarn, my sister sent me yarn that we picked out last year when I was trying to convince her to knit, after only learning a month before myself. (Sorry, Rach, you are not off the hook yet! Not with Rie and I both knitting now!) It's one skein of Lion Brand Homespun in #345 Corinthian (sorry, no photo) and 10 skeins of Moda Dea Wild! in the Funky colorway. They aren't lying:

Any suggestions on pattern possibilities? I mean, it's enough to make a sweater, but I'm afraid that in my current "condition" I would look like the Cookie Monster after a food fight. It's very furry and very soft. I could just crank out 10 really long scarves with it. But that would make me insane(r). What to do?

Then comes the Stitches East haul. As if I need more yarn.

First, a word about the event. With the Cap'n down with the flu (seriously, he lost 10+ pounds), he was in no condition to take Slim for the day. I was battling a cold, but death would have had to knock a little harder to keep me away from that much yarn. So off to Baltimore we went.

Slim did what he could to hang in there for the afternoon, but it sure would have been easier to enjoy the show with someone else to keep him busy. And I got a little pissed at some of the dirty looks from the little old biddies who didn't appreciate his appreciation of fine yarn.

Look, if my kid wants to fondle the cashmere, I'm going to let him. He's not going to hurt it, his hands are clean, and it's good for him to learn to appreciate the colors and textures. So BACK OFF! (That was what I should have said to them.)

But overall, it was completely overwhelming. In hindsight, I should have had some kind of plan of attack, some way to keep myself from getting overstimulated while still seeing the new stuff. Is that even possible? At any rate, I really enjoyed the exposure, and now I have an idea of what my next fiber fest will be like. I've heard that the Sheep & Wool type shows are even more fun (how could they not be with herding dogs like our Mia?), so I can't wait until next year's Maryland event.

On to the haul: The plan was to get one "unusual" purchase, something that couldn't be found just anywhere. I think this fits the bill. Any guesses on the material?

It's 50% merino and 50% yak. Yep: Y-A-K. I bought it at the School Products booth. It's enough for a sweater for a kid age 3-4. Considering Slim will probably be that old when I get it finished, it's all good. It's a lovely deep brown with black flecks, so rich and so warm.

But then I couldn't resist this at the end of the afternoon, especially thinking of the poor, coughing Cap'n at home.

I do love my man. Can you read the labels on that yarn? 100% cashmere, baby. Oh yeah. And patterns for Norwegian ski stockings, mittens and a hat.

His comment? "I'm never going to see this." And: "This is $100 of yarn." (Y'all he DOES NOT KNIT. How does he know these things??? He's good.) But now I've been challenged to improve my Fair Isle skills and jump on this so he at least gets these next winter. (I'm not crazy: I know he's not going to get it in '06.)

Finally, I had to hook up my new knitting seester with a gift, especially since her next goal is to learn how to knit socks. So from Lisa Souza's booth:

It's Mars Quake, and it's 560 yards. I'm trying to convince her to make knee-highs with it. I've seen on some of the other cool blogs that this pattern works well. I wish I had gotten some of this stuff. I mean, you can't beat $16 worth of 560 yards of soft, squishy sock yarn with a stick.

So before Blogger craps out on me, I'm going to post this and get ready for the Cap'n's and my Date Night. Can I hear a Whooo! and a Hooo!! for babysitters???!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm a Knitter, and I Voted

If it's not too late in your state, cast your ballot! I'm watching the returns on TV, and I'm angry about not having a vote on the national level. I had no idea that moving to D.C. would make me so frustrated in that regard.

I do like our prospective mayor, a Democrat who carries two Blackberries and runs marathons. He's smart, he's focused, and he's not business as usual -- a huge problem here in D.C. I went ahead and cast my vote for the independent Ward representative, since the Republican pulled the race card and the Democrat has been sitting on the dysfunctional Board of Education.

But WHY, WHY, WHY can't I make my voice heard in Congress? Aaauuugh.

Will try to update later on the Stitches East experience. My first "fiber festival."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Good Kind of Frog

Happy Halloween and Happy Socktoberfest to everyone out there!

Slim and I went trick-or-treating with friends last night after dining on Dead Man with Worms (body-shaped meatloaf served over spaghetti). We didn't make it to Hilloween, but he seemed happy with the loot he collected along the way, and he was asleep within 5 minutes of making it into the house.

I'm sorry to say that I did not finish my pair of socks for Socktoberfest, which means I also did not make my Sock-a-Month commitment. (sadness) However, I am psyched about the sock tutorials that Lolly posted on her blog and really appreciate all the effort everyone put into it. You know, Socktoberfest is all about the love of handknit socks, and that still burns brightly in my heart, so I'm going to proudly say I was an enthusiastic participant in Socktober!

But what is now resting lightly on top of my LSAT study guides? Here's a hint: Not a Sock. I had stumbled across this pattern online a long time ago and forgotten that I bookmarked it. Lolly's International Scarf Exchange reminded me of it, and I couldn't get it out of my head. Particularly with the weather getting colder last week.

So I decided to make something for me. ME, ME, ME! (It's Malabrigo's Oro y Vino. Yum. And the second link is to an already finished one since BLOGGER BITES and won't let me post a second picture!)

I'm going to say it's in honor of my 100th post to the blog, which this is. Or it can be in honor of spending 7 hours on the Chinatown bus last weekend going to NYC, which I did. Or improving on my second LSAT prep test, which I also did.

I just needed to spoil me. Besides, realistically, there is no way that handmade holiday presents are getting made for one husband, one son, four sisters, four parents, two sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-laws, two parents-in-law, a niece and a nephew. So I say: STOP THE MADNESS! I'm just going to knit for me.

I mean, besides the hat for Slim and the mittens for the Cap'n that are either OTN or about to be.

Speaking of, avoid our Plague House if you can. The Cap'n has a 103-degree fever and has been in bed for 14 hours. I've got the worst sore throat I've had in a couple years and the kid is getting cranky.

I'm off to finish the chicken soup...