Plain Jane Knits Up A Storm

A few musings about my needlecraft hobbies - knitting, crocheting, quilting, & cross-stitch along with my other love, genealogy. While growing up, I used to HATE the term "Plain Jane", but when it comes to knitting & crocheting, I've realized that I really *am* a Plain Jane in that I don't use fancy yarns.

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Location: Northern Detroit Metro area, Michigan, United States

Monday, February 28, 2005

Storm Warning

Once again, south-east Michigan is under a winter storm watch. The sun is shining out there at the moment, but starting sometime this afternoon and continuing overnight, we are scheduled to get an additional 7 to 8 inches of snow - and that's on top of the 4 or 5 inches that are already on the ground!.. Enough already!! I've got my packets of flower seeds, I'm ready for spring!.. Speaking of spring & gardens, I just called the local elevator where I get my vegetable seeds to see if they could order Top Crop green beans this year. The store order was already in, but they're ordering me a pound via special order for around $3!! Yippee!

I was in a bit of an organizing mood yesterday, so following the suggestion I'd seen on a few blogs, I gathered up all the knitting needles I could find and started entering them on an Excel spreadsheet. I have quite a few pairs or sets, but there's no guarantee that any given set are the same color or even the same manufacturer, and I was left with a handful of singles without mates. I guess the next step is to start digging through looking for PIPs (Projects in Progress) to see if the missing needles are thus occupied. I did find one baby sweater started many years ago that got frogged leaving me with a ball of white yarn and a set of 10" size 5 needles. I also ran into some skeins that had been Moki-ized. Our eldest cat has a "thing" for yarn skeins and in his enthusiasm tears them inside out. Here is a skein of Bernat Coordinates that has been Moki-ized. It's going to take a while to get straightened out. I've started to either roll skeined yarn into balls (at which point, Tiger gets interested and I find yarn wrapped around the furniture) or slip the skein into a knee-high stocking which keeps Moki from tearing it limb from limb.

On the FO front, I finished knitting the Llama Along hat - photos to come when I get the crocheted edging on. I finished the first sock for the 1st Sock KAL - the yellow on the toe is an attempt at the Sock Toe Chimney method of grafting the toe shut. The yellow will turn inside the toe and hold the grey stitches in place until they can be grafted to each other, then the waste yarn is unraveled. It's all explained here: Sock Toe Chimneys I'll be casting on for sock #2 probably this afternoon.

And here is the second Clapotis started in the Rosy Forecast colorway of Caron's Rainbow Dreams. I'm using size 10.5 needles this time and the resulting fabric already has more drape than the completed one with dropped stitches on size 8s. For some reason, with the flash, my camera doesn't pick up the greens in the yarn, so you'll have to imagine that there's a lot more deep green and the knit-up yarn reminds me of my Grandfather's rose garden.

I'm also still working away on another crocheted baby afghan which will, hopefully, be done by Thursday and the K4 meeting. If we get all the snow that's predicted, I don't think I'll be getting out of the house before then, and then may be a bit iffy.

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday Splurge

I treated myself to a few small splurges this morning while we were shopping. First stop, the Dollar Store where I bought two pair of socks, one white terry and the other knee length blue with little knit-in teddy bears, & five packages of flower seeds.. Come on, spring, hurry up and get here!!

Then on to Meijers where I indulged myself in some new Fructis shampoo & conditioner in one instead of waiting for the usual sale on Suave for 69¢ *and* a skein of Rainbow Dreams in the Rosy Forecast colorway! In all, about $10 out of pocket, but I'm feeling spoiled {g} Here's the new yarn destined for another run at the Clapotis but this time on size 10.5 needles instead of 8's.

And here's the sample I knit up yesterday in the leftover Jetstream on 10.5's.

I'm going to slip this onto a stitch holder for later because if the larger needles make the Clapotis drape better, I may frog the first one and remake it. I've been wearing it in the evening since I finished it. I tend to stay up late and the furnace is programmed to turn down to 55° at 9 p.m. When I sit on the couch to knit, there's a cold breeze from the window behind me, so I pull the Clapotis close around my neck & head and stay cozy.

I worked on both the sock & the LlamaAlong hat last night. The heel of the sock is turned and the stitches for the gusset picked up.

Somewhere along the line, I messed up the stitch count on the LlamaAlong hat. When I went to start the first pattern, it seemed like I had 4 stitches too many, so I decreased to (I thought) the correct 80 stitches around. But then when I started the llamas in the second pattern band, it wasn't coming out the way that it should. I recounted twice and found that I had 70 stitches, not 80. Hmmm.. The pattern repeat with a little cross shaped motif between the llamas was 20 stitches, but the llama itself was 11 and 12 with a 1 stitch separation. Twelve goes into 72 six times, so I increased 2 stitches and worked six llamas around the hat. I think I like it better than the original.

My chores are done for the day, dinner is going to be leftovers of last night's rigatoni, so with nothing else to do, I'm going to go curl up on the couch and knit.. Now the only question is: on what?? Ennie, Meenie, Minney, Moe.......

Friday, February 25, 2005

Tag, You're It....

I've been tagged!.. Sallee at Knitana just sent me these questions about what I'm reading. (Thank goodness, this is an easy one!)

1. What was the last book you read or are reading?

Right now I'm reading Executive Action by Gary Grossman (which reminds me, I need to log into the library site and renew it.) It's a political thriller.

2. Where did it come from (library, bookstore, gift, etc.)?

From the library, along with the 22 other books that my DH & I have out between us.

3. How many books do you read per year?

Usually two or three a week, so between 100 & 150. The list of what I've read since 12 Jan is over there in the sidebar.

4. What is your favorite genre?

Can we make that plural? Sci-fi, mysteries, political, thrillers, & historical fiction. I don't like horror or modern "slice of life". I used to read a lot of romances, but they're getting far too raunchy for my tastes recently.

5. Who will you tag now?

Good question.. I have an email address for Sharon at KnitKnacks, a fellow Michigander, so I'm afraid that she's going to get tagged by default..


On the knitting front, yesterday was another K4 meeting and I took in the baby afghan and a hat.

Not much, but then I worked on my Clapotis for a good part of the week and wore it to the meeting yesterday. I'm still debating whether to frog it and remake it on larger needles to improve the drape. In the meantime, I worked on the Peruvian hat for the Llama-Along.

I'm making it with three of the last remaining skeins of Love Knit that I have in my stash. I obtained gauge by using size 9 needles, but the hat looks a little small. If I can't wear it, I'll pass it along to one of the grandchildren as they love hats and then maybe rework the pattern to a larger size. I'm at a point where I have to seek clarification on the next design chart, so in the meantime, I joined yet another Knit-Along, this time for first time sock knitters. I started on the sock last night and got some of the ribbing completed.

Looking at the photo, it would appear that I was knitting a baby bootie rather than a full size adult sock, but those size 6 DPs are the 10" variety - not ideal for socks, but they're what I have in that size originally purchased to work a sweater sleeve in the round. It's snowing here again today, so I think I'll curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, my book and my knitting.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Finished Clapotis

As promised, here is the finished Clapotis:

Finished, it measures 22x60" - big enough for a scarf, a shawl or even a disguise:

I was a little disappointed with the drape even after the stitches were dropped. Worked on size 8 needles with worsted weight yarn and knitted to gauge, it seems a bit stiff. I almost think I like the "wrong" side with the soft loops of yarn from the dropped stitches as well or better than the "right" side.

The full sized Clapotis used one 10 ounce skein of the Caron Rainbow Dreams and maybe one fifth of the second skein. With that much yarn left over, I'm thinking about casting on with size 10 or 10.5 needles and seeing if the resulting fabric will drape better. If it does, I may frog this original one and move the knit-along button back up to the "On The Needles" section.

In other news, I've joined a new ring, Circular Needles Knitting Blogs. Given how often I rework patterns to use circular & double pointed needles so I can avoid sewing pieces together, I think this will be a good fit! {g} I also joined another knit-along, the Llama-Along, and added the button to the sidebar. I dug around in my stash this afternoon and came up with three skeins of Love Knit yarn - cream, grey, & royal blue. Love Knit, which unfortunately has been discontinued, is slightly heavier than worsted weight and I was able to get the required gauge with size 9 needles. I have the two earflaps completed using grey for the main color and royal blue for the design, and I've cast on the remaining stitches between the flaps and finished 6 rows. The next row starts the pattern and before I do that, I'm going to review Meg Swenson's article on jogless circular knitting in the Winter 1996 Knitters Magazine

Trying to get photos of knitted items in this house is sometimes problematic. You may notice the feline feet in the first picture holding the Clapotis in place on top of the speaker. However, the cats are not always so helpful. Here's the first shot I made this evening where the knitting is pretty well hidden by a camera hound..

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Bingo...

Here it is Tuesday again - another afternoon of B-I-N-G-O.. It's the one activity for which I know that Mom is always agreeable to getting out of the house, even if it is snowing. I'm really not much of a bingo fan, but if Mom enjoys it, then I'll do my best to enjoy too. The last two weeks, I've been taking along the baby afghans I'm crocheting for our K4 group and working on them while keeping an eye on the cards - it does help the time pass more pleasantly. A couple of the other ladies wanted to see the afghan and I told them about the K4 group meeting on Thursday afternoons. Perhaps one or two may come join us, which would be nice.

I have to admit that I'm still working on the baby afghan I started last Thursday and it's probably the only one I'm going to get done this week. I've been knitting away on the Clapotis and should be able to finish it this evening.

I've had several nice emails about the crocheted puppets in Saturday's post. For those asking for patterns, I'm sorry but I didn't write down the instructions while I was making them. I just played around until they looked the way I wanted which means that I did a lot of ripping on some of them. They're all done in knitting worsted with a size H hook and single crochet.

The least successful one was the little girl in the pinafore - I still wish I'd reworked her head so it didn't look like a potholder with the start in the center and no nose, but she was the first "person" I tried.

The little boy was the second. I worked his head in two pieces from the neck up, making sort of a bobble for his nose on the front piece and doing the back and one row around the top of his face in his hair color. The ones that are designed to have the arms work have bodies that start at the neck and are worked front & back for a few rows to make arm openings and then worked in the round. The arms are also worked in the round starting at the shoulders and ending at the hands. To get the striped robe on the genie (who is missing his vest in this photo), I crocheted the body up and down and then worked the head last, so it's a case of "winging it" to get the effects you want.

The guy in the green sweater was one that Miki requested with a movable mouth - he has a nose that is crocheted separately, stuffed with fiber fill & sewn on. His arms are just stuffed tubes. All of the puppets have some fiber fill stuffing in their heads to round them out - it's just packed in loosely so that it can be removed if the puppet needs to take a "bath"..

Most of the animals start with the nose and have slight differences in the shape of the head. The kitten has a short nose, the dog a longer one, the mole is very pointy, while the hippo's nose started with a rectangle that I then worked around on all 4 sides. The giraffe and the snake started with an upper nose and a lower jaw that were then hooked together while crocheting the rest of the head. The inside of their mouths were worked around from the resulting edges and decreased to a center seam. The snake has a opening at elbow length and then the rest is stuffed with fiber fill.

Most of the eyes are embroidered on using progressively larger "lazy-daisy" stitches to get the bigger ones like on the hippo - that seemed to work better on top of the crocheting than doing them in satin stitch. I know that these are lousy "instructions", but I hope they might be a bit helpful for anyone who wants to try their hand at puppets.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Another Day, Another Thousand Stitches

There's not a whole lot new in Plain-Jane-ville. I'm working on the 4th double crochet baby afghan, a knit hat in forest green Homespun (both K4 projects) and I just dropped the 7th column of stitches on my Clapotis and am working toward the 8th. I'll spare everyone another Clapotis photo until it's finished. I'm completely awe-struck by some of the other members of the Knit-Along who have finished theirs in less than a week! It's going to take me way longer than that, but then I'm switching back and forth between projects depending upon which one hurts my hands the least at the moment.

Friday, as usual, was our day for heading for the library. I'd run out of reading material Wednesday night and the Currently Reading section of the sidebar was blank. Along with a stack of hopefully entertaining novels, I wandered through the knitting book section and came home with Knit Lit, by Linda Rogharr & Molly Wolf, Men in Knits, by Tara Jon Manning & A Close Knit Family by Melissa Leapman. Knit Lit is a small paperback full of stories about knitters that I've been reading in small snatches to make it last longer. Men in Knits has some great patterns, many of them presented in sizes for both men & boys. "Jack's Aran Cardigan" on page 43 (photo on page 44) has me wondering if I could substitute a worsted weight yarn for the Classic Elite Gatsby (12 st & 20 rows to 4" on size 10s) that it calls for and knit one of the larger sizes which would then come out smaller and maybe fit me. I can see a long session with the calculator is in my future. This is the second time I've borrowed A Close Knit Family - the first time I knit the Nordic Warmth pullover for my grandson.

I reworked the pattern from drop shoulders to a raglan and knit it in the round without seams. Earlier this week, I visited Bron's Blog II and saw her "Uxbridge Cardigan" photo in the 16 Feb post - the pattern for which is in this same book under the title "The South Hadley Tweeds." I had briefly noticed the cardigan when I had the book out earlier, but did not realize how flattering a sweater it could be until I saw the photo on Bron's site. So there's a second PPIP or Potential Project In Progress added to my list. Both sweaters would need a slightly tweedy yarn or at least a heather, so I'm thinking in terms of perhaps the next time one of the stores puts WoolEase on sale.

Also on Friday, I wandered down to my LYS, Heritage Spinning & Weaving here in Lake Orion. I was amazed at how much the shop has grown and how many beautiful yarns Joan stocks. The shop started out a few years ago in the back room of a Speedy Print type store and has now grown to fill the entire store. So many beautiful yarns, so few $$ in my wallet .

I'll finish up with a few photos of the puppets I crocheted for my youngest daughter who teaches first grade in Chino, CA. She requested some of these to use while she was teaching her class phonetics and others are ones I made just for the fun of making them.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Five Dropped Stitches

The Clapotis is moving along and I just dropped the fifth column of stitches toward the end of watching ER. Here's a close up of the dropped stitches.

And a wider shot showing the current size.

Seen in person, the yarn has more green in it than the photos show. I'll try to get a photo in daylight sometime soon to see if I can get closer to what I'm seeing as I work on it.

Our K4 meeting was today and, as usual, a lot of fun. I finished up the green & white baby afghan and picked up yarn for a couple more. The one I've started will be white, yellow and a white/yellow variegated. Worked on a K hook, the baby yarn is so soft and lacy even in simple double crochet.

On the Fuzzy Feet front, nothing is going right. I checked on my pair - which did felt correctly - this evening and after moving them around and opening up the cuff to let air inside, I noticed that my hands were stained with red dye - and it won't come off! This is after four changes of water while I was trying the hand felting, a full tub of water in the washer, and a long rinse under cold water until it ran clear. I have a feeling that if I wear them, I'm going to have either red socks or red feet. I had no idea that wool would bleed dye this way. Is this something unusual because it's old Red Heart yarn, or does all wool act this way when it's dyed certain colors?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Felting Flop & Dropped Stitches

Remember the "seemingly cursed" Fuzzy Feet I was making for my DH? I'm here to advise all & sundry that they are truly cursed - no, make that CURSED, it's more emphatic. A couple days ago I read all about felting and decided that the hand felting in a bucket with a plunger sounded easy. So off I went to the local Dollar Store to pick up a brand new, squeaky clean plunger and this morning I decided to take the plunge and felt. Following the instructions I found on the web, I filled a bucket with hot water, set it in the kitchen sink, added a dash of shampoo, dropped in both pair of Fuzzy Feet (his & hers) and started imitate my grandmother churning butter. Up & down, slosh, slosh.. The water started to turn orange - wool loses dye??? Filled the other sink with cold water to "shock" the wool, squeezed out the orange water & dropped all four feet into the cold. They were bigger than when they went into the bucket. Ok, refill bucket with more hot water, another shot of shampoo, and back to churning. After about 15 minutes of this, muscles aching and a bit winded, the feet are looking a bit fuzzy but no smaller and after three changes of water in the bucket, it's still turning orange. It is at this point that I realize that the blue toes on DH's pair are not looking fuzzy at all.. Hmmm.. Go pick up the skein of blue yarn and re-read the label: 100% virgin wool, so far, so good; color: red.. Hmm.. This is garage sale yarn, the skein is definitely BLUE, I'm beginning to suspect that an odd label got put on an odd skein to make it look better for the sale. Back to sink and take a closer look at the blue toes - the yarn is squeaking when I rub it between my fingers. The variegated yarn in the top half of those feet and my pair does not squeak - I'm trying to felt acrylic! Something tells me that this is not going to work. Ok, but I have four very wet, stretched out pieces of knitting and I'm beginning to wonder about this whole felting idea. There's a load of towels ready to go into the washer and what the heck?? Toss in the fuzzy feet and stand there while the washer does it's business. It's a Maytag with one of the lid interlocks that stops all action when the lid is raised, so I can't just watch for the feet to come up to the top so I can grab, I have to go diving in among the towels. After about 8 minutes and three diving expeditions, my pair is looking pretty good so I fish them out and rinse them in the bathroom sink to get the soap out. There's still dye coming out in the rinse water and I'm thinking it was a good idea that all the towels were dark. Another three minutes and I fish out DH's pair. The wool section is felted, the acrylic isn't fazed. Both pair are now drying and I'll probably tear out those toes one more time and reknit them smaller so they won't look like clown shoes. Cursed indeed..

The dropped stitches on the other hand are not a tragedy - I'm past the increasing section of the Clapotis and far enough into the straight section that I've dropped two columns of stitches! I have three hours of tv tonight during which I'll keep working on it. The only problem I'm having is getting used to working with size 8 needles again after months of working on size 10½. My hands hurt a little and my fingertips are getting sore from pushing stitches around. If it gets too bad, I'll switch back to the crocheted baby blanket for a while, but I want to drop more stitches on purpose!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Baby Afghans & Stitch Markers

Here are the baby afghans I've been working on this week for our K4 groups charity knitting - ok, they're really crocheted, but somehow writing out "knitting & crocheting" seems overly long & awkward, so when I refer to knitting in conjunction with the group, please assume that I mean crocheting too.. The two that are finished are about 36" square and rather lacy as I'm using a size K hook and 75 double crochet across. The lilac one has 9 rows of white at either end and the one with the pastel variegated yarn is more random as I switched from the pastels to white and back as I ran out of partial skeins. The one I'm working on in Jamie pistachio will be like the lilac. I just started it last night so I'm only about half way through the first skein of green. It seems to take two skeins of color and one of the white to make this size.

Yesterday, I mentioned having problems with all the yarn loop markers on the Clapotis. I had thought that I might be able to find small metal rings at the hardware, but that didn't work out. They had black "O" rings that might have worked, but at 35¢ each it seemed a bit much. On the way home, I stopped at the drug store and there in the hair accessories aisle I found neon bright "ouchless" elastic bands from Goodie - on sale, 75 for $1.50 plus tax. As you can see below, they're working quite nicely. The bands are flexible so they don't interfere with how I hold my needles and the bright colors show up (except for the purple ones). I can feel them on the needles, so I was able to knit last night without watching which means that the Clapotis will move along a little faster. I'm up to 13 markers and I like the way that the colors of the yarn are blending.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Knit-Along Clapotis Style

Ok, I did it - just over a month into the Blogging World, I joined a Knit-Along for the Clapotis. I found this button on the 2004 Knit-Along page and hope that it's still appropriate.

I cast on last night with the Rainbow Dreams and a size 8 circular from my Boye NeedleMaster kit, and I'm getting a spot-on gauge of 19 st & 25 rows to 4". I had a little trouble at first with the pfb (purl front & back) but finally came up with something that seemed to work. I checked on the knit-along message board this morning and found this very helpful instructional link posted by Lindsey that lead to a series of videos on increasing and decreasing. The one for pfb showed that I was doing it right!! Yippie! So, at this point, I'm up to 7 markers across the row, working toward 9, and I'm beginning to see the lure of the ring markers everyone seems to be using. I'm just using my usual contrasting color yarn in a little slip knot around the needle. It works, but it's not very elegant and that many markers don't lend themselves to mindless knitting else I knit the marker (which I've done before). I worked a bit over two hours last night - through Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal & a bit of the local news - but I'm not yet ready to try working the pattern while reading. I guess that's ok because I can continue with the crocheted baby afghans when I have a book in my lap, but I want to see the Clapotis grow! I should have realized while reading everyone else's experiences with this pattern that it would be addicting.

On the weather front, south-east Michigan got hit with freezing rain last night and my car looks like a little white ice cube. The temperature is up to 37 so hopefully it will start melting soon so I can get over to see Mom (and also get a cup of coffee). There's actually a garage sale scheduled for today - February in Michigan?? - and my DH wants to go. He says that it's a sure sign that Spring is around the corner.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Music, Music, Music

I've been sort of tagged by Sharon at Shazzas Knits - like me, she's a newbie to the blogging scene and has invited anyone who reads her music list post to join in - so here I go....

1. TOTAL AMOUNT OF MUSIC FILES ON YOUR COMPUTER: none, nada, zilch.. I bought this computer five years ago to be able to moonlight at Printed Circuit Design in the evenings and I went with a 19" monitor instead of a sound card. Thus, music files don't do me a bit of good..

2. THE LAST CD YOU BOUGHT WAS: Shady Grove, Folk music by Jerry Garcia & David Grisman

3. WHAT IS THE LAST SONG YOU HEARD BEFORE WRITING THIS MESSAGE: Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie, on a Jerry Garcia concert tape from October 1987 (do you see a pattern emerging here?)

1 - Terrapin Station suite by the Grateful Dead from the album of the same name - my introduction to the marvelous, eclectic music produced by this group. The Lady With A Fan is especially good.
2 - Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton - when this song is on, my DH lip-synchs the words and makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.
3 - Promises, by Barbara Streisand & Barry Gibbs on the Guilty album - "We got each other my love , my life, my friend" puts into words how I feel about my DH..
4 - Senor, a Bob Dylan song, as presented on the 2nd CD of the Jerry Garcia Band album - I get chills up my spine listening to the guitar. The other songs on the album aren't bad either - I never thought that I liked jazz until I heard Jerry take Hold Tight into the stratosphere and back.
5 - I'm going to wimp out here and proclaim as my 5th choice just about anything on either a Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia album EXCEPT Drums & Space - those two are a waste and try as I might, I just can't get into them. However, China Cat Sunflower, Sugar Magnolia, Trucking, Playing In The Band, and many others make me want to get up and dance. Brokedown Palace, Brown-eyed Woman, Mountains of the Moon, China Doll, Lost Sailor and many, many others are soul soothing. What I especially like is the eclectic nature of their music - it doesn't matter what type of music I'm in the mood for, I can usually find it on one album or another.. Yup, I'm a Dead-Head..

5. WHO WILL YOU PASS THE TORCH ON TO (3 PEOPLE) AND WHY? There again, like Sharon, I'm too new to the blogging world to tag anyone, so I'll continue with her idea: " to take this on from me if you happen to stumble across this and do it on you own blog."

Make Do or Do Without

The saga of my DH's seemingly cursed Fuzzy Feet continues.. Even after frogging the first attempt with 48 stitches and going back to the 44 that I used on my pair, about the time I turned the heel on the second foot I realized that I was in trouble and the yarn would run out before the toe. This garage sale find yarn is Red Heart, it's old (no UPC code) and I decided my chances of getting more of it were nil. So back to the original bag of yarn hoping to find something I could use to finish the slippers. Black or brown wool would have been nice, but my only choices were crayon-box variegated and a skein of solid medium blue. OK, blue it is - but one slipper with a blue toe while the other is all brown / gold variegated, didn't seem right, so back to frogging the completed toe of the first slipper and replacing it with blue to match the second one. Here are the results - what I call my Make Do or Do Without Fuzzy Feet. Hopefully, they'll look a little better after felting. I'll get the kitchener stitching done sometime today.

And, I'm going to jump on the Clapotis bandwagon after weeks of reading about how much fun everyone is having knitting it and seeing the wonderful results. Here's the yarn I'm going to use - Caron Rainbow Dreams in the Jetstream colorway. I picked it up at Meijer's yesterday - my early Valentine's gift. I have a hat knit out of this and love the colors and how they blend. The hat was knit on circulars so I'm hoping that the yarn works out as well knitting back & forth.

Otherwise, I've been crocheting along on a baby afghan for our K4 group. That bag of garage sale yarn has a lot of baby yarn in it that needs to be used up. When I find that much yarn for $1.50, it's impossible to pass up..

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Goodies by Mail..!!!!

The mail person brought a wonderful surprise today. My friend Kim, who lives in Kentucky, sent a BIG box of acrylic yarn that she cleaned out of her stash for me to take in to our K4 group. Because we knit hats, scarves & afghans for charity yarns that can easily washed & dried by machine are a necessity. I was just getting ready to leave for the meeting when this arrived:

Thanks, Kim!!.. Your box of goodies got shown off all over the center, even to the guys at the men's after lunch coffee klatch.. {g} There's regular worsted weight, baby and even some bulky, so our group will be able to use it all for our various projects. If anyone has acrylic or other machine wash & dry yarn that they want to destash, our group could put it to good use. We meet at the Orion Township Senior Center, 21 East Church St., Lake Orion, MI 48362.

Here are the hats I finished this last week and turned in today.

I started working on a baby afghan at the meeting today and brought home yarn for more hats. The Fuzzy Feet slipper I was working on yesterday afternoon had to be frogged - I realized that with just one skein of the wool yarn available (I got it at a garage sale last summer and I'm not even sure that Red Heart still makes 100% wool yarn of this variety), I was going to run out before the second slipper was finished because I had added stitches for my DH's 13EEE size. So out it came and I went to Plan B - making it the same size as mine, and not felting it as much. I frogged it during the opening scenes of Lost last night and by the end of Law & Order, I'd turned the heel again and was working down the foot. Finished it up this morning while I was having coffee with Mom and cast on for the second slipper. I'll try to get the 2nd one completed this evening so I'll have my 10½ circulars free to knit more hats.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Fuzzy Feet Revisited

I started a second pair of Fuzzy Feet - this time for my DH - last night. Because he wears a 13EEE, I added 4 stitches to the usual 44 stitch cast-on, which meant that the heel flap is 24 stitches instead of 22. The one thing that I didn't like about my first pair is that when I turned the heel, the K2TOG stitches of the turn were a little loose no matter how much I tried to tighten the yarn as I turned.

So this time around I experimented a little. The first two tries resulted in a bit of frogging, but the third time was the charm. Instead of doing the K2TOG and immediately turning, I wrapped the yarn around the next stitch and slipped it back onto the right hand needle after the turn. When I came to the decrease again, the gap between stitches had shifted one stitch to the left of the wrapped stitch. I knit the last stitch of the heel with the wrapped stitch (I didn't bother picking up the wrap)and wrapped the next stitch across the gap. The result was a much tighter "seam" along the turn that I'm much happier with.

Other than that excitement, I dug through a couple baskets where I'd stored knitting stuff a few years back along with the drawer in a sewing stand where I keep most of my straight knitting needles. The result of maybe a half hour of activity: a half dozen knit cotton dishcloths found along with 5 of my missing yarn needles, some point protectors and the "custom made by" labels I was looking for a couple months ago. I also found a set of size 3 double points - one of the old four to a set Boye aluminum kind, but along with the baby yarn I discovered, I may be able to try knitting a pair of socks without having to put out any $$$.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Variations on a Theme

Being one who tends to take an idea and run with it for a while, I made a couple more caps in the grid pattern that I used for the Stained Glass cap. On both of these I started out as I meant to go on and the grid reaches all the way down to the ribbing unlike the first cap where I changed the pattern midway. With the blue/wine variegated yarn under the grid, it reminds me of a seascape or a snow field at twilight seen though a multi-paned window.

The pattern is easy to knit, taking only a little more concentration than a plain cap. Here's the pattern:

Two colors of knitting worsted weight yarn (you can get perhaps 3 to 4 caps out of two 3.5 oz skeins)
Size 10.5 circular knitting needle, 16" length
Two double point needles, size somewhere near 10.5 but not critical.
Yarn needle

Cast on 66 stitches with grid color, join, being careful not to twist stitches and work 2.5 to 3" in k1, p1 rib.
Body: using grid color, row 1: knit around; row 2: purl around; row 3 knit around
Join background color (variegated or solid)
Row 4 to 6, k5, slip next stitch onto right needle as to purl, repeat around, ending with slipping the last stitch.
Repeat last six rows four more times, then fasten off background color & repeat rows 1 to 3 again.
Knit 4 rounds even.
First decrease row: Knit 2tog around (33 st)
Knit 1 row even
Second & final decrease row: With a dp needle, k2tog 8 times, switch to 2nd dp and continue k2tog to last stitch, k1.
Cut yarn leaving a long tail, gather the top stitches and using the yarn needle, close the top of the cap & fasten. Run the beginning tail end into the backside of the ribbing (I run it through the cross yarns in the middle of one of the knit ribs which hides it pretty well even if the ribbing is turned up.

On other topics, I've added links to a few of the blogs I read regularly to the sidebar. This list will probably grow in the coming days as I continue to surf my way around the various knitting rings. It's interesting what shows up when using the RANDOM button - it must be similar to the rush of playing a "one-armed bandit" {g}. I click on the button and wait with bated breath to see what wonderous new site will appear. There are so many wonderful people out there, welcoming me into their knitting world, displaying their latest projects, giving me new ideas and longings.. Sometimes I run across a site that hasn't been updated in months and I pause to wonder what happened to that knitter - and hope that it's just that her interests changed and not that something dire is keeping her from posting. At other sites, where I've been before, I feel like an old friend coming in for a cup of tea and a bit of catch-up chat. It's a good feeling and I thank my fellow bloggers for it.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Stained Glass

After finishing the rainbow hat yesterday, I still had close to half of a skein of the crayon colored variegated yarn left to make another hat. I wanted to stretch it a bit to make sure that I could finish (variegateds come in smaller skeins than solids, 3 oz in this case), so I decided to add more black to the mix. At first I thought that after the ribbing, I would add a round of black every few rows and keep it interesting by working the next round with every 6th stitch slipped to pull the black up into the rainbow. As you can see below, that's the first 4 rows. Then, I started browsing through Modular Magic, by Ginger Luters, in which the CC slip stitch was carried up several rows to form a grid over the MC. I was worried that slipping a stitch over two or three rows would scrunch the knitting, but I had to try it and it worked! I probably should have frogged back to the ribbing and reworked the first rows, but...... I still like the results which remind me of a stained glass window with the sun shining through.

I finished one other hat yesterday and started yet another while I read most of the way through The Widow's Tale. With mostly football or reruns on the tv tonight, it will be a knitting and good book evening. We made another library run on Friday so I'm well stocked with reading material. Besides the above mentioned Modular Magic, I picked up The Elle Knitting Book, published in 1984 but with some nice classic patterns that wouldn't look out of place today, twenty years later. The Cute Cable vest on page 66 would be nice for my grandson and the Laplander cardigan on page 102 would be a challenge. None of the patterns call for a particular brand of yarn, only a weight such as "double knitting" or "bulky" along with the quanity in grams. It would be nice if the yardage were included or if there were a chart estimating how much yardage there is in 650 grams of DK. Looking at the Laplander again, the neckline is obscured by a scarf - it makes for a fashionable photo, but am I the only one who gets nervous when photos don't reveal the whole sweater? What strange shaping is that scarf hiding??

The third book I picked up is Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, by Debbie Stroller. I love the first section, "I Knit It My Way" as it sort of encompasses the "Wing-It" philosophy I've developed about knitting. However, most of the fashions are a bit too young for a grandmother no matter how young at heart I may feel - the bod isn't young anymore {sigh}..... The how-to sidebars scattered through the book have some good ideas, like how to make a nostepinne (p. 77). I wish my granddaughter was still young enough for the Little Devil Pants on page 204 - I'm sure her Mom would agree that there are days they'd be very appropriate garb for this little darling {g}... Anyway, back to the charity hats.. time is awastin'

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A Rainbow Hat

One of the skeins of yarn that I picked up at Thursday's K4 meeting was Red Heart crayon box variegated. Last night I decided to see how it would work up in my standard 66 stitch circular hat pattern that I've been using for all the other hats. I started out with the ribbing in black and then switched to the variegated for the stockinette. To my surprise, instead of the colors spiraling around the hat the way the other variegated yarns did, the colors stayed in columns with just enough overlap to make it interesting.

I didn't want to disturb the developing pattern with the decrease rows, so I tried a different finishing technique. I turned the hat inside out, divided the stitches between two dp needles and worked a three needle bind-off. Then I tacked the two corners created this way together.

Another time, I would be more careful about the tacking stitches as the blue yarn that was next on the strand shows up too much against the red & green. A pom-pom should cover that - or maybe I'll take it out and try again.

In the meantime, another feline photo. Both Moki & Callie are on a lite formula cat food because of their girth, but Tiger tends to be skinny and gets skinnier on the low-cal stuff. Therefore, he gets fed the "high-test" version up here much to the disgust of the other two - especially Moki. Here's what Tiger has to contend with unless I haul Moki out of the room and downstairs to his own food dish. You've heard of the grass always being greener in the other food bowl, right?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Nothing Much New

There's not really much new to write about. I went to the K4 group today and turned in nine caps and an afghan. One of the ladies who works at the Senior Center had brought in a tall kitchen garbage sack full of acrylic yarn that her mother was donating, so the partial skeins will be good additions to the next rag-tag afghan.

Here's what normally happens around here when I start to arrange an afghan or anything else to get a photo.

That's right, I get a cat in the middle of that nice soft cozy knitting or crocheting that I so conveniently left lying on the desk. I did manage to photograph the caps without feline interference..

I finished up a 10th hat at the meeting, but still need to run the yarn ends in, and I have another one on the needles. Also, Rag-Tag #7 is started, so it was quite a productive day.

Now a dilemma.. After reading several blogs about the new yarns at PickKnits, I was browsing through the color charts this afternoon and drooling over the available shades. Then I checked the information on shipping and learned that orders over $30 are shipped FREE.. I'm getting tempted - very tempted.. But it's wool and I've had nothing but bad luck with wool.. But it's beautiful... But it's WOOL!!.. But it's cheap, the shipping could be free, and it's *beautiful*.. I can tell that I'm going to be going back & forth on this, but I'm beginning to think about projects that wouldn't have to be washed very often, so I can tell that I'm weakening.. Maybe I should felt the Fuzzy Feet and refresh my memory of what happens when a project gets inadvertently felted. Or maybe I'll claim my belated Xmas gift.. Decisions, decisions......

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

101 Things About Me

I'm more than a little late with a list like this, but I've only been blogging about three weeks now and I'm still catching up..

1. Growing up, I was always called by both my first & middle names - Mom still does. .
2. I lost my Dad in June of 2003 - it still hurts.
3. I have coffee every morning with Mom who now lives a block away.
4. The rest of the day I drink caffeine free diet Coke.
5. I take my Mom to bingo at the Sr. Center on Tuesday afternoons.
6. I love my DH.
7. I've lived in this house with my DH since 1985 - I hate tri-levels.
8. My left knee hurts when I climb stairs - arthritis, I guess, hence the dislike of tri-levels.
9. My hair is "naturally frosted. "
10. I have blue eyes that turn green or grey sometimes depending upon my mood.
11. I've been told that my eyes "shoot sparks" when I'm mad.
12. I don't get mad very often.
13. I wear tri-focals.
14. I was carded at age 42 - the clerk honestly didn't think that I was 21. WHOOPIE!!
15. I had my ears pierced before I started teaching so I could wear earrings and look older than my students.
16. It didn't work.
17. I haven't used makeup in over 20 years.
18. I live in blue jeans - Mom wonders if I'll ever grow up enough to dress right.
19. I like extra large t-shirts with pictures on the front.
20. My favorites are my half-dozen Grateful Dead T's.
21. I love cats - a house without a cat or two is not a home.
22. I'm owned by three cats - Moki, Tiger & Callie.
23. I had dogs growing up and loved them too.
24. I hate doing housework - it shows.
25. I like to cook ethnic dishes - Thai, Lebanese, Indian especially.
26. I mostly cook from scratch as it's cheaper than prepared food at the grocery store.
27. I drive a 1988 Dodge Colt that has just over 58,000 miles on it.
28. I hate to drive.
29. I grew up on a farm where my parents lived for 62 years.
30. I had a pet cow - Crazy Quilt.
31. I've lived in Michigan all my life.
32. With the exception of my maternal Grandmother's family, all my ancestors have lived within 45 miles of where I'm sitting now since the late 1830's.
33. I was ranked 3rd in my high school graduating class, but they wouldn't count an A in an elective class.
34. I was the only girl in my Jr. class not nominated for the Homecoming Court.
35. I was also the only girl who took the drafting class - and had to fight to get into it because I was a girl.
36. My college major was history, my minor was art.
37. I graduated with honors from the history department.
38. I did most of my studies in English & Chinese history.
39. My senior research project was on 4000 years of Chinese land tenure & land reform.
40. I designed Printed Circuit Boards for 25 years
41. My job was sent to China 2½ years ago.
42. In another 9 months, I'll qualify for early Social Security, but I'd rather be designing PCBs.
43. I wrote pages and pages of ISO 9000 documentation in my last two jobs.
44. I love rhubarb pie and / or cobbler - I have a 30 foot row of rhubarb in the garden.
45. I grow tomatoes, basil & green beans every year in the garden.
46. I got hooked on genealogy about five years ago.
47. I have a genealogy website that has had close to 850,000 visitors in the last four years.
48. One of my ancestors came over on the Mayflower.
49. I'm mostly English with a touch of German.
50. I've been searching for the families of two of my great great grandfathers for over 5 years now.
51. I learned to knit when I was 8, crocheting at 19, counted cross-stitch at 33 and quilting at 39.
52. I'm a member of the K4 group (Krazy Kool Knitters & Krocheters) at the local Senior Center. We make hats, scarves & afghans for charities.
53. I've made over 50 hats, a dozen scarves & 5 afghans for charity since the group started in October 2004.
54. I've worked in the yarn department at Hudson's and in a quilt shop.
55. I rarely took home a paycheck from the quilt shop because I'd take my wages in fabric & books.
56. I have over 30 years of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine (my mother-in-law gave me the first 10 or 12 years).
57. I made my first quilt blocks in 1958 - 3" Baby Bowties.
58. I made my first quilt in 1982 - a True Lover's Knot, an 18" block.
59. I've made 52 quilts so far, all but two or three hand pieced & hand quilted.
60. I have at least another dozen quilts in various stages of completion.
61. My fabric stash is 95% reproduction fabrics from the 1800s or early 1900s.
62. My stash fills two large cupboards, a four large drawers, a bookcase, three under-the-bed containers and a laundry basket.
63. I love to find a photo of an antique quilt and reproduce it as closely as possible.
64. I browse the antique quilts at Ebay and save photos of the ones I like - my own private quilt "magazine".
65. I like teddy bears and have made a dozen or so.
66. When we moved to this house in 1985, my yarn stash filled two of the 6 cubic foot garment boxes, plus a couple book & record size boxes - it's bigger now.
67. I have probably two dozen knitted vests of one style or another.
68. I've knitted over a dozen circular yoke fair-isle & 7 or 8 aran isle style sweaters.
69. I've lost track of how many other sweaters & afghans I've knit, but it's probably between 200 & 300.
70. I like knitting with acrylic yarns that don't get messed up in the wash.
71. I don't have the patience to fool around with laundrying wool.
72. I have McCall Needlework magazines dating back to 1950 when I learned to knit.
73. I have stacks of other knitting magazines collected over the years and never throw any out.
74. I love to read - science fiction, mysteries, historicals, political novels - and go to the library every week or two.
75. I have 15 books out of the library at the moment.
76. I have books or magazines on most horizontal surfaces.
77. I could read before I went to kindergarten.
78. My spelling used to stink, but it's getting better thanks to spell checker!
79. I can knit and crochet without watching, so I do it while I'm reading.
80. I watch Desperate Housewives, three versions of Law & Order, Medium, House, NCIS, West Wing, Lost, ER, Without a Trace, & JAG - I knit or quilt through all of them.
81. I love reading knitting blogs.
82. I built my first computer - an OSI - in 1976 or 1977.
83. I helped run Aardvark Technical Services, a software house for the OSI computer until 1981.
84. I've programmed in four flavors of BASIC.
85. I taught myself HTML to develop my genealogy website.
86. I hand code all my pages - saving Word or Excel in HTML takes too much room.
87. I enjoy transcribing records (births, marriages, cemeteries, etc. ) for my site.
88. I type pretty fast with all the practice I've had doing the above, including the number keys.
89. I can't sing.
90. I took belly dancing lessons.
91. I love opals - my engagement ring is an opal.
92. I'm not too fond of diamonds.
93. I have 30+ pair of gold hoop earrings - all different.
94. I like going to garage sales.
95. I don't like shopping at malls.
96. I bought 4 skirts, 5 tops, and a pair of shoes for under $25 total at garage sales last summer.
97. I have 5 pairs of shoes and 2 pairs of 30 year old dress boots.
98. I'm only "dangerous" to the bank account when I'm in a yarn or quilt shop (or in front of the earring rack at the dollar store).
99. My grandmother once told me that I could hang onto a dollar "until George yelled for help. " I took it as a compliment.
100. When I visit my daughter in California, she takes me to this wonderful store that carries 100% cotton fabric for $1. 97 a yard. I fly home with a lot of fabric.
101. I had trouble limiting this list to 101 things.

Acrylics Anon/a