Friday, October 31, 2008

I Passed

Since the instructor let me knit in the training class at work, I felt obligated to pass the test at the end, just to prove that knitting does not interfere with learning. My score was 83%, so now I'm certified (or certifiable).

Otherwise, just playing around with this blog's template. Don't be surprised if it changes a few more times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Lucky Can I Get?

Facing three days of training this week, I was looking for something small and inconspicuous that I might work on during class. I didn't know if the instructor would mind, but I decided I'd rather be prepared. Sitcom Chic and Tropical Treat are too bulky, Elbac a little too futzy because of the cables. Maybe now would be a good time to start a pair of Lucky IU socks for my son.

It took me a while to find the yarn that I just knew was in the stash somewhere - Washable Wool by Moda Dea. I bought it specifically for this project but it's worsted weight so I wasn't sure where it would be. Well, by golly, it was in the drawer with the sock yarn! My stash is more organized than I thought.

I planned to do these socks in two colors, red (crimson) and white (cream). In my pattern stash, I found a Lion Brand pattern with stripes on the leg, and I decided I could just wing the heel and toe. Usually I drop a needle size, but for some reason I am short on US4's, so I went with the recommended US5's. Looking back, this is a good idea.

Okay. Yarn - check. Pattern - check. Needles - check. Last night I even cast on and worked the ribbing. All I needed now was a compliant instructor.

This morning I kept my knitting hidden away until a pause during a group exercise when I decided it was safe to pull it out. To my surprise, the instructor marched over to me and exclaimed, "I wish I could knit socks!" Turns out she is a knitter too, but she hasn't mastered knitting in the round yet. I knew I was safe when she said she drove her college professors nuts by knitting in class. And as an instructor herself, she appreciates how engaging all the senses can enhance the learning experience.

So I made some progress.

I'm going to cast on sock #2 tonight so I will have plenty to keep my hands busy the next two days.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Today is the last day of my vacation. Boo! I am so ready (except financially) to retire. With the economy not just in the toilet but down the pipes and halfway to the sewage treatment plant, I've been wondering if real retirement will be possible in the future. I'm not one of those people who say, I'll always work somewhere doing something. Uh-uh. I have plenty of things to keep me busy. I just hope I get to do them someday.

Maybe I would get more done now if I didn't have to redo so many things. Like Sitcom Chic. Yes, I thought I would be wrapping this baby up while travelling to and from southern Illinois, and I did, sort of. I finished the knitting part and tried on the sweater before applying the final finishing touches, only to discover that while I had made the sleeves longer, I had not made them long enough. And while we are at it, the body could be longer, too.

Yesterday, I assessed the damage and decided to frog the yoke. Then today I frogged the body a bit farther, so I could add more increases. I'm knitting forward again now.

Since vacation knitting on SC was on hold, I worked on Elbac some, and on the drive home, slaved away on Tropical Treat. The latter is turning into the Never Ending Blanket. It feels like I have been working on it forever, and yet am only two-thirds of the way done. It doesn't help that the Lion Brand Babysoft yarn occasionally belches a wad from the center-pull skein, which, if one is not careful, can lead to a snarly mess. Which is what happened in the car. Not that I would have gotten anywhere near finishing TT on the drive home anyway. Still. It was annoying.

I follow NFL football, but apparently not close enough. Why are the Chargers and Saints playing in London? The cabin we stayed in had Dish Network, so I was able to watch Monday Night Football for the first time since it moved to ESPN. Too bad the Colts weren't playing then instead of tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

You know how you lose track of what day it is when you are on vacation? If my daughter had not called to wish me a happy one and had my son not remembered either, my birthday would have passed unnoticed by me.

While I missed out on Rhinebeck this year (I think I was the only one not there), I did find an LYS on the way to southern Illinois. River Wools in Terre Haute has quite an extensive selection of great yarns. I have been in the market for some Euroflax as I want to make a Mason-Dixon Bubbly Curtain for my kitchen window.

The "pure white" skeins are for the curtain, the multicolored skein for another M-D project, the Moss Grid Hand Towel.

Aloo is from Himalaya Yarn, made in Nepal from the Himalayan nettle plant. It feels like rough linen.

I plan to use it for a string bag and/or a wash mitt.

If yarn was not birthday treat enough, when I got back to town, my daughter presented me with this book...

... and flowers...

...and a fajita dinner (with beer!), which I wolfed down before thinking to take a picture. I should be the one treating her, though, as she kept Betsy while I was gone.

Next time: vacation knitting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm Back

Just a quick note to say we had a great vacation at Giant City State Park. More details to come, but just to prove crafters are everywhere, here is a sample of filet crochet in the visitors center...

... and some artistic quilts in the lodge diningroom.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Can Quit Anytime

I week or so ago, I was trying to remember what my New Year's Resolution had been this year. Senior moment - I had to look it up on my own blog. Oh, yeah, manage my vacation time better and include a do-thing vacation. Well, that is exactly what we are doing next week - a do-nothing vacation. My SO and I will transport our tired but restless butts to southern Illinois with no plans whatsoever for what to do when we get there (other than see my son who lives there).

I am so ready for a vacation from my job, from my house, from my pets. For a couple of crazy moments, I even contemplated making it a vacation from knitting. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Besides, it will be a seven-hour drive and I am more willing to share wheel time if I have something to do, like knitting.

Which projects should I take? Well, Sitcom Chic is a no-brainer. It's mostly sockinette, so won't require juggling instructions and sticky notes. Elbac is halfway done, and with its reversible cables, would serve as an alternative. And Tropical Treat, all garter, all the time, is another candidate for the drive, despite the four colors of yarn to wrangle. And I think I will draw the line there. If I finish all three of those in the course of five days, it will be a miracle because, even though we have no plans, one of those non-plans is NOT to spend all day, everyday knitting.

I don't get to read as much as I like, so I am known to take along a tote bag of books and magazines on vacation. Unless I am on a plane, they rarely even get opened, because, well, there are things to do and when there are no things to do, I usually knit, and if I am tired of knitting, I am usually too tired to do much of anything.

The laptop was also a brief candidate for being left behind. Where we are going, we will not have Wifi in the room. However, it will be available in the lodge, and even the best of travelling companions need an occasional moment or two of alone time. And there will be photos to download and maybe blog about. We'll see.

Hmmm. I wonder if there are any yarn shops along the way.


It seems like someone in the cafeteria at work is playing Russian Roulette with the ExLax. A couple of weeks ago, I blamed the chocolate chocolate chip cookie for an afternoon in the porcelain kingdom. Today the three-dollar bowl of chili went down the toilet - literally. A couple of hours later I was feeling hungry again, and against my better judgment, followed the chili with a seventy-five cent Snickers bar. Tonight's toast appears to be sticking, but we'll wait a while before taking Betsy on her therapy walk. On a brighter note, my sinuses feel better. If it's not one end, it's the other.

Proof that I have been knitting:

This Sitcom Chic is working out much better than my previous attempt. The body is up to the armpits and one sleeve is close to being the three-quarter length the pattern describes but I am going to make it longer. I'm not a three-quarter length kind of person, plus this sleeve as is is too tight for my fleshy arms.

Today was not a good cable-knitting day, but I still managed to add a couple of inches to Elbac.

I'm tempted to slow down on this a bit, just to show a friend of mine at WW in November that scarves don't have to be boring.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Personal Trainer to the Dog

Betsy the Bionic Dog is healing very slowly from her ACL surgery to my way of thinking, but the vets say she is doing fine. They don't see her sleeping 24/7 or hear her whimpering when she does get up off her pillow. We have a little physical therapy to do - bicycle movements for her "new" joint - but we have also been taking a couple of short walks each day, which seem to be helping. The vets warned me to keep her on leash, worried that she would get rambunctious, but they don't know Betsy. We are already the dog walking spectacle of the neighborhood because she always trails behind. And now she really lags, moving as slowly as she can without standing still. The walks have become opportunities for me to practice walking meditation with a poop bag.

My knitting is progressing a little faster than the dog walking. During my lunch hour I doggedly (HA) work on Elbac (which I finally realized is "cable" spelled backwards), and in the evening it's Sitcom Chic while I listen to The Subtle Knife, the sequel to The Golden Compass. I reworked the toes in the Hedgerow socks and still ran short of yarn, so they are taking another time out.

And I am still recovering from my "bug". My teeth hurt, so I suspect sinusitis, which supposedly is not to be treated with antibiotics anymore since it is caused by a virus, but what does one do in the meantime? Besides take Advil and Sudafed? Ooh - maybe sushi with wasabi! I'll have to try that for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Menopause Shawl

A few years ago, when my hot flashes were worse than they are now, I had what seemed like a brilliant idea: handknit menopause shawls. Pullover sweaters and turtlenecks had become impossible, cardigans were better, but shawls would have been best for tossing off and on as the internal thermostat dictated.

I still think the menopause shawl is a good idea. I just can't seem to get the hang of wearing a triangle. I'm still not feeling too perky, so am home and test driving the Sun Ray.

Maybe I will alternate between it and the Falling Leaves shawl, which is rectangular, to see what shape I like better.

Project synopsis:
Pattern: Sun Ray Shawl (free from Elann)
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Highland Wool, color 2507 (antique rose)
Needles: US9 circulars

OMG. While recording the above information, I took a closer look at the photo with the pattern and at my results: the picot edging is completely different between the two. The pattern photo's edging is much prettier. The difference stems from the blocking: I was supposed to stretch out every fifth picot to form a scallop. Rats. Well, if I ever feel so inclined, I will reblock the shawl. Likelihood of my doing that: 5%

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Break Out the Handknits

I have not been able to park my car in the garage because it (the garage, not the car) is full of everything that was displaced by the room addition, and now that the temps are a bit frosty at night, I need knitted mitts between my hands and the steering wheel. Not quite ready for hats and scarves, though.

The yarn did run out on the Hedgerow socks, thanks to my shenanigans. I will have to get creative with the toes to finish up, which may result in something whacky looking, so I am glad these are for me. The socks are taking a little time out until I decide what to do.

Which gives me a good excuse to knit away on the Sitcom Chic. I am feeling much better about the Four Seasons yarn than I did about the Pima Tencel. The cotton in it gives the knitted fabric body while the wool softens it. No second guessing this time around (knock on wood!)

Friday, October 03, 2008

I Got Gauge

I got something else, too, a bug that strongly recommended I stay home today. It's the perfect illness, as I am too uncomfortable to go to work but not too sick to knit.

The stitches in the swatch for Sitcom Chic fattened up in the soak, so now the gauge is spot on. Before casting on, I played with a couple of cast ons for 1x1 ribbing, settling on this one from Knitting Daily.

Last night, during the VP debate, I dropped the rest of the stitches on the Vintage Shawl, which did lengthen it to 60". That should be plenty long, especially once the fringe is added.

Now it is time for a nap.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I Can't Help Myself!

New yarn calls to be cast on, so I did.

I chose Elbac for a cable project. I chose Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Worsted because that is what the pattern recommended. Initially, I did not like the pattern much, but it is growing on me. Instead of knit cables against a purl background, we have ribbed cables against a garter background. The result is a reversible scarf with subtle cables.

Initially, I liked the yarn, but now not so much. It is soft and has a nice halo even in skein. But there is very little twist, even less spring, and it tends to split. Now that I am past the initial diagonal rows of the pattern, though, the knitting and cabling are going fairly smoothly, so I will probably continue with the status quo.

The Sitcom Chic sweater has been in the back of my mind, and now that I have a new yarn for it, I just had to swatch.

My MO is to drop a needle size from what the pattern calls for, but cast on with a needle one or two sizes larger. So I cast on with a US9 and knit with US7. My gauge is a little off, but I have yet to soak the swatch. Which I will do because I do not want to start a third version of Sitcom Chic.

I am progressing nicely through the Hedgerow socks.

I had increased the pattern by one pattern repeat, which made the legs six stitches larger. The decreasing in the toe relies on multiples of eight, however, which I did not have until I thought to terminate the gusset prematurely and leave a couple of extra stitches for the footbed.

Now I am running dangerously low on yarn. *sigh*

And just in case you think nothing is getting completely finished around here, this pic is proof otherwise:

The Sun Ray shawl in all its blocked glory.

Today Betsy got her stitches removed. Forty minutes of driving for four minutes of work. Betsy is still reluctant to put much weight on her "new" leg, but recovery from doggy ACL surgery takes one to three months. It has been only two weeks, but I am really tired of helping her up and down the ONE step it takes to enter/exit the house.