Saturday, December 30, 2006

Have you ever *gasp* returned yarn?

There is still no definite date on when we will have our family-get-together with grandma yet. Before I knew that, I went out in a panic and bought some yarn locally for what I thought I would be making my aunt, uncle, and grandma. Didn’t really find anything that truly tripped my trigger. I had started the Column of Leaves in the purple sport weight superwash, and got through a couple of repeats, but the yarn just wasn’t really saying that much to me. It’s okay, nothing spectacular though. I think it might make some great socks, especially in a lacy pattern, but for a scarf, kind of bland. I think that pattern needs something a bit more luxurious, I was thinking along the line of one of the washable cashmere/merino blends like Debbie Bliss Cashmerino or Rowan Cashsoft. Something soft and squishy that you can bury your nose in and feel all cozy. And this yarn wasn’t that. So that has been set aside. Here’s how far I got. That contrasting yarn is my lifeline, in a bit of Baby Cashmerino I had leftover from Baby H’s bolero.

Then I thought for expediency’s sake, I’d try something bulky. Hemmed and hawed and found a pattern with some potential, Natty. Although I prefer designs with more than one cable, this one could fit the bill. It also says it is reversible, although I don’t see what the other side looks like. So I went to town, and half-heartedly bought some gray and forest green Wool-Ease at Joann (I was really wanting a navy blue and a tan) for the supposed fake double-knit hat, and found some sorta interesting novelty type Sensations yarn called “Halo” in a nice red, that was quite soft, on clearance too, which I was thinking for Grandma’s scarf, to do in sort of a horizontal wavy pattern, like the first pattern. Then off to Hobby Lobby for some Lion Brand Jiffy in Plum, plus some TLC Amore in Red Velvet as a carry-along to go with the novelty stuff from Joann. And then they sat. I had no desire to pick any of it up. The idea of the clogs is still in the back of my mind, so if I get to the At Home Store where they have Cascade 220 and Lamb’s Pride, I think the clogs it will be, and back to Joann’s and Hobby Lobby the yarn will go. I sure hope I still have the receipts. I probably can’t return the Halo since it was on clearance, but it was the one I spent the least on anyway.

I mean really, what was I thinking?

I had been also working on the ruffly hat in the Lorna’s Laces for my cousin’s baby girl, but after about four inches, realized it would barely fit a doll at about 11 inches in circumference, let alone a three-month-old baby. So I frogged it back to the ruffle and started it again on size 5 circulars instead of the size 2 DPNs. I hope it doesn’t end up too loose and holey. No I didn’t swatch. I may just have to start it completely over. I really was thinking about making a matching pair of baby socks too if I had enough left after the hat.

So one afternoon, since three out of four kids were spending a few days at Mom & Dad’s, I thought I would sort my stash. It was basically overflowing out of the 50-gallon tub it normally resides in, plus some of the skeins and balls were getting loose from digging through it and it needed a general revamping. So several Ziploc bags later, it is improved. I kind of had to rush at the end, R was coming home from work, and I didn’t want him to see the extent of the stash, which I’m sure is miniscule by some people’s definitions, but still a sizable investment on my part. And while going through, I realized there were some yarns in there I just didn’t care for or would ever use. So those may go up for swap or sale. And I still need to organize my knitting needles and other tools. I realized I have no size 4 DPNs, I’m not sure how that ever happened, I think I have every other size from 11 Brittany birches down to 000 in a sock set. I need to find a plastic box that is long enough for the 14 inch needles, the shoe box size ones just don’t quite cut it. Although I don’t think I plan to keep may straights either, I will probably swap or sell those as well. And my crochet hook set is missing, not that I crochet at all, but handy to have for fixing things. It may be in the bottom of the diaper bag, guess I better check there.

Before unloading

In progress of sorting. Never even touched the knitting implements.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Reprieve

My poor grandma called today, saying that Christmas just wasn't going to happen on Christmas. She has had a cold and a cough, and just didn't feel up to cooking, and was fearful of spreading the not-so-joyous bug to the young 'uns in the family. Usually we get together on that day with my side of the family, and on Christmas Eve with the in-laws. My grandma is 78 but could easily be mistaken for many years younger, in fact people have asked if she is my mom (not that *I* look that old! LOL). But she is the main cook for the family holidays, enjoys doing it, and we all definitely enjoy eating! So our holiday has been rescheduled for some time the following weekend.

But on the up side, that gives me a whole week to complete things that I hadn't even hardly thought about starting for grandma, and my aunt and uncle. I'm thinking for my aunt the Column of Leaves scarf in some of the purple superwash sport that I had picked up the last time I was at the At Home Store. I really don't want to gift anything to someone that has to be handwashed and babied. For my uncle, I'm thinking a "fake double knit" reversible stocking cap where you knit a hat from a provisional cast-on, and from the provisional cast on, knit another hat, stuff one inside the other and presto, a double-thick hat. I'd probably do that in Wool-Ease, since it is machine washable. I was also thinking about making the felted clogs/slippers with the Fiber Trends clog pattern I have had for quite some time, but still haven't tried yet. I might even have enough yarn on hand, I have some dark grey Paton's Classic Merino and some black Cascade 220, I think they would look smashing together. I think I may do a scarf for grandma too, there is a neat diagonal rib and lace pattern in my Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. Or else I will look through a couple other books I have for a stitch pattern that strikes my fancy. And hopefully some yarn in my stash will do the same.

I also received from one of the clinics that I type for a $100 Visa gift card! Whoa! So if I do go on a yarn diet after the first of the year, I think I would be able to purchase yarn with that card (relatively) guilt free. My other knitting pal noted that Crazy Girl Yarn Shop is opening a new yarn shop in Coralville soon too. If I ever get up there some time (supposedly I have to take Baby H back to the University Hospitals for a follow-up of her heart murmur), I would need to stop by there! There is also the Knitting Shoppe in Iowa City, but I have heard from several sources that the owner is not the friendliest person on the planet.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

So even though

I have a gazillion other things I should be doing…I blog.

I was able to get four out of six Special Companion bags done. I needed to have them all done by early Thursday afternoon, and I just didn’t see (on Wednesday) how I would have been able to get the last two done. I got exactly two out of one skein of Felt-It, and used some narrow satin ribbon for the handles. I really like how the SWS one on the left turned out too, others were right, it does felt in a flash, just one trip through my front-loading washer did it! I did a single-crochet felted cord for the strap for this bag, it was much quicker than doing an I-cord yet still in proportion. I also managed to get one done in the Patons Classic Merino in "Regency" on the far right. Isn’t it wild how the colors pooled? That one I had made a bit wider 25 stitches for the base, and probably a bit shorter than the others since I was in a hurry to get it done and felted. I ran it through the wash once Wednesday night, and kind of decided at the last minute to put it through again Thursday morning, and I am glad I did, it really firmed up nicely. When I went to the quasi-LYS to get the Patons Classic Merino, they had two more colors of the SWS, Natural Plum and Natural Geranium. Sooooo tempting. But sooooo pricey, at least by what they had it marked, $7.99 a skein. And I really want to see the Natural Pink too, I think I'd like it better with the hint of green. But it did sound like the lady was going to order more, what they had been getting in had been selling quickly. One odd thing though, just in doing the very small bag in Natural Navy, I had THREE knots/reties which broke the color sequence in not even the first half of the skein. Very strange.

For the last two teachers, I decided instead knit them up some tiny sweater ornaments from the Miniature Sweater Ornament pattern with an orphan skein of Lion Brand Magic Stripes in Jelly Bean. I did tweak the pattern a bit, I did the sleeves in the round instead of seaming (can you blame me?) and on the second one I did a different increase for the raglan and just did a garter stitch hem instead of the K1P1. I also used size 3 needles instead of size 4, so I had to add more rows than the pattern called for. The hardest part was finding the yarn pattern to make the sleeves match! I was able to get one done in time, but the other I was still working on the body and didn’t get it done until school was out, so I think I’ll put it in the mail on Friday, she should get it by Saturday. I’m already thinking ahead for Valentine’s Day, red felted heart shaped coasters…how does that sound?

I did get the Warm Cable Braid Wrist warmers done and sent, but didn’t have enough time to get the coordinating headband done, so that will be done later and send…hopefully my secret Solstice swap partner doesn’t mind! I think the left is a teeny bit smaller than the right, but the right might be stretched out from trying it on so much. I really did like how they turned out though.

I haven’t decided yet about what to do about some other gifts. I should do something for my grandma, aunt, and uncle. I think for my cousin’s family, I will put together a “cookie kit,” usually we give each other a whole-family type gift, like a movie and popcorn, and last year I gave them a “sundae kit.” I think I could probably knit a hat for my uncle in time. I’d really like to do a nice scarf or cowl for my aunt, but I probably wouldn’t have enough time. I could do a couple dishcloths for my grandma. We’ll see! I’m researching scarf patterns right now that are quick, but not drop-stitch, I just am not crazy about drop-stitch patterns, looks like a lot of snag potential to me!

My mom called the other night too while she was at Goodwill, apparently there was some Patons “Jenny” which I am pretty certain is long discontinued, and some Lion Brand Wool-Ease either Chunky or Thick & Quick, and some Bernat Soft Boucle there, so she picked them all up for me! Yay! I am thinking about a yarn diet for a New Year’s resolution, but we’ll see how long that lasts! LOL I’m hoping to get back to the At Home Store in Fairfield some time over Christmas break with another knitting friend, so there will be definite temptation there! I really should reorganize my stash tub and weed some things out and put up for trade, along with all those extra straights I picked up.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Well I know what comes in third

after yarn and knitting books…knitting implements. I saw a classified in the local free weekly advertiser, which included some quilting stuff plus KNITTING NEEDLES, $30. There was an e-mail address in the ad, so I sent one off, inquiring if it was straights, circulars, DPNs, or what. The advertiser quickly responded back that it was all of the above. So I told her that I would be by later in the week to pick up said needles. Today was my chance before Big Bro K’s basketball game, and oh-so-conveniently this person lived quite nearby there. She said she had used to have a knitting store a long time ago in Wisconsin, and she had used to knit professionally, but her wrists gave out and she can no longer do it. Poor woman! She had a large narrow box and another baggie with a few more. So here is what I got…

  • 13 stitch holders of various sizes

  • 3 small boxes of stitch markers

  • 2 cable needles

  • 1 unopened package of yarn bobbins

  • 7 inch plastic ruler

  • A pair of point protectors

  • A couple white plastic things that I am assuming are needle threaders for yarn

  • A double-ended crochet hook…I’ve never seen such a thing before! I don’t even know what size hook it is, but it’s pretty large, 14 inches long.

  • A tiny plastic size F crochet hook

  • 14-inch aluminum needles in sizes 1, 3, 4 x 2 pairs, 5, 6, 7 x 2 pairs, 8, 9, 10, 10 1/2 x 2 pairs, 11, 13, and 15.

  • 10-inch aluminum needles in sizes 2, 4, 6 x 2 pairs, 7 x 2 pairs, and 8 x 3 pairs.

  • 7-inch aluminum DPNs in 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8 in sets of four, prices on them from $1.95 to $2.25

  • 7-inch Crystal Palace bamboo needles in size 2.5 (3 mm), set of 5, with an $8.50 price tag on them!

  • 10-inch aluminum DPNs in sizes 5, 6, and 7, and turquoise plastic in size 9, sets of four each. I don’t think I recall seeing 10-inch DPNs before either!

  • Size 3 24-inch Boye aluminum circulars – the picture of the girl on this package is hilarious, it reminds me of something that would be on a feminine hygiene product in the 1970s, with price tag of $2.25

  • Size 4 Susan Bates all plastic circulars in 16” size 4, 29” size 7, 36” size 8, price tags from $2.75 to $4.00

  • Size 4 20” Addi (probably predate Turbos, but they are very similar), price tag of $8.50

  • Unknown brand, metal circulars in size 6 29” (Inox maybe), and size 8 29” (guessing Boye)

  • Size 10 1/2 36” Susan Bates Quicksilver circular, price tag of $6.00

  • Inox circulars, 16” in sizes 6, 7, 8, and 9

Whew! Does it mean you are an addict if you hide an object/s in your vehicle to bring in AFTER your spouse has left the house? ‘Cause that is exactly what I did! I’m thinking I’ll put the straights up for trade on Knitting Help, along with a few other odds and ends from my stash (for exactly what, I’m not sure…I’m thinking KnitPicks gift certificates to go toward some Options…maybe…). I love 16-inch circulars, so I’ll keep those, and I really wouldn’t expect anybody to be interested in the all-plastic ones, but you never know. I’m sure they are vintage judging by the label. I think I would keep the DPNs too, some of the packages don't even look like that they have been opened.

Here is the first Special Companions bag before and during blocking, literally, those are some of the kids’ wooden building blocks in a baggie, with a quarter for size reference.

They go really quickly and easily, I was knitting some of this in almost complete darkness, lying in bed watching Jay Leno. I have been using my 11” size 10 circulars, little freaks of nature that those needles are, yet I have ended up using them for a lot of things! I think I have enough yarn left in the skein to do one more, then hopefully enough I-cord for both. The pattern calls for the twisted cord, but I think I like the I-cord better, or else I could use something like a ribbon if I don’t think I will have enough. I’m going to do another pair in some of the SWS I have, since I have heard it felts like lightning, and maybe if I can get to town again soon, see if the quasi-LYS has some of the Paton’s Classic Merino on some of the variegated colors, since they didn’t at Joann’s. They did have some felted purse kits a Joann’s but after doing the math, even with a 50% off coupon, the Felt-It would still be cheaper and I could get another color.

I’m also knitting from a chart for the first time on these
Warm Braid Cable Wristwarmers! Although the pattern isn’t that terribly complicated, and the way it printed out over two pages, I still have to refer to each to remember which symbol refers to what stitches.

They are going to be a gift for a Secret Santa type swap, and I plan to make a headband to match. I’m using the Kool Wool in “Khaky” (more of a deep olive) I was able to pick up cheap at Hobby Lobby, and I think one skein each should do it for each wrist warmer and the headband. I really like these, they are quick knit with the bulky yarn. Another KH person had made them, and she added a thumb on (it’s just basically a buttonhole), so I plan to do that as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I think knitting books come in a strong second...

after my yarn habit. I don't have time for pictures right now because I spent most of my day running around town doing errands and then had a meeting for the parent volunteer group at school, but boy did I score today at Hobby Lobby! I went to get some Caron Felt-It with a 40% off coupon since I decided I wanted to try to make these cute felted bags as teacher gifts this year (I better get crackin', I'll have to make five!). I have three skeins of Kureyon in my stash, but I wanted to save it for a project for myself (exactly what, I don't know, but anyway...) so I thought I'd try it out on the Felt-It. I scoped out the magazine and book rack they have now at the front of the store, but didn't see anything new, but after getting the yarn, I went by the racks of all the fiber/needle related pattern books, and a couple clearance stickers caught my eye. I got The Sock Calendar, originally marked $18.00 for $3.89, and Lavish Lace, originally marked $22.95 for just $4.96. I mean how could I resist? Can you blame me?

I also stopped by the library again to return the books from before, and get a few more. They had the new Tracey Ullman knitting book and a few more, but my stack was definitely smaller than last time. I also have Itty Bitty Hats on request too, but it wasn't in at the time.

Pictures tomorrow. Maybe recipes too! I had to bring a couple dozen cookies for my meeting (they get divvied up among some of the school staff from us parent volunteers) and I'll share my recipes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snow Day!

Just when I had all sort of plans and errands to run in town! I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for this morning with my nurse practitioner (yes, that kind of appointment) and then I was going to go the library for knitting books (of course) and a few other places, but just as I was going to pick up the phone to call the office to reschedule due to the weather, they called me to reschedule since she was snowed in at home and wouldn’t be in the office. Actually I’m kind of glad too…now I can stay home and get caught up on work and maybe be able to knit a good portion of the weekend! Isn’t it ironic though, on regular school days it is a huge struggle to get the kids up and out of bed and ready…today Sis M and Little Bro J were up by themselves and in snow pants by 7:30. Little Bro J had to wear Sis M’s purple snow pants from last year that she had outgrown, hee hee. I’m guessing we got about 10 inches, it’s hard to tell because it is kind of drifty, but it is a fairly light, dry snow, not that wet and heavy kind.

The kids are already asking for hot chocolate, so I better whip up a batch of homemade mix. I have a really easy recipe, and cheap too. Maybe not quite as fancy as the ones requiring the dry coffee creamer (which are especially good when you use the flavored ones like French vanilla or Irish cream), but that is just something I usually never have on hand. You can sure add it if you want though.

1 1/2 cups cocoa
3 cups white sugar
6 cups dry instant nonfat milk
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Sift all together. Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup of mix per cup of hot water, depending on your preference. Top with marshmallows if desired. You can see it’s a pretty easy ratio of 1:2:4 of cocoa/sugar/dry milk, so you can make a big or small of batch as you want at a time.

I think I’m going to make some homemade chicken-something soup today too, haven’t decided if it is going to be dumplings or noodles or stew. And probably some chili too. With cornbread of course.

Also a bonus, my Merino Style came in the mail today too! Woot! Part of my plan for tomorrow’s errands include swinging by Joann’s for the sale on Patons Classic Merino, and I have a 50% off coupon for any non-sale item too, I'm thinking toward a knitting magazine since they never go on sale. Maybe see if there is anything decent on clearance at Hobby Lobby too. What did I tell you, my hobby is collecting yarn?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Maybe my hobby is collecting yarn instead of knitting…

Well Thanksgiving came and went, and I hadn’t gotten any baby gift knitting completed. I spent most of Wednesday running around town doing errands, like taking the kids to the dentist since the kids didn’t have school that day. I did start to CO for the ruffled edged hat the night before, I didn’t want to try to cast on 360 stitches in the waiting room! I even made one round before the kids were done there, and by that time I was ready for the K2tog round. I got a bit more done during the oil change for my minivan too. It’s gotten a bit tricky on the 16 inch circulars, I may switch to my size 2 DPNs, but at the moment they have the eternal sock on them, but I did discover that bamboo shish-kebab skewers are a size 2, so the sock will probably go on a skewer temporarily as a stitch holder.

Here's my progress so far. There is obvoiusly a ruffle there. It's a lot easier going now it has been decreased to 80 stitches around.

My IL’s gave me a gift certificate to the only place even closely resembling an independent LYS in town for my birthday! The store is sort of a crafty/home décor kind of place, and they actually had a bit more in stock than in the past in the yarn department, albeit it is still pretty limited, they mostly have Patons and some Reynolds and a bit of Fun Fur. Ack. I picked up three skeins of the new Paton’s SWS, in the Natural Navy. I asked if they were going to get other colors of the SWS, and it sounds like they will in the future, the Natural Pink, Geranium, and Plum look like my style. Then I saw some Reynold’s Smile in the 201 color, a gray with pink and limey-green, on clearance for half price, so I picked up three skeins of that. Yesterday I had to take Baby H in for a doctor appointment for a croupy cough, so I used that as justification to go back and get the last three balls in that color! Now I just have to find a pattern. I’m thinking maybe a V-neck sweater for myself, but I’m not sure I have enough. I’ll have to look through my copy of The Knitter's Handy Book Patterns to see if I can come up with something as searching on line hasn’t come up with much of a V-neck in bulky. I should see if the The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns is available at the library, it might have more specific patterns. I'd REALLY like to find something mostly in the round too with minimal seaming.

Here are four balls of the Smile and the SWS.

I bought a couple books second-hand from people on Knitting Help too, Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Rules. KOTE has some great ideas for jazzing up plain designs, but I haven’t had a chance to start reading KR yet. I also bought six skeins of Knit Picks Merino Style in Asparagus from someone on KH, I can’t wait for that to arrive! That may end up for something for my friend M, as she loves green. Maybe fingerless gloves. I also have another test pattern to knit, for an American Girl-type doll sweater. That one should be fun too, it uses Magic Loop, and it will be a first time for me doing that. I’m sure Sis M would love and addition to her doll wardrobe. I need to finish up the baby-in-a-bag too, I just have the hood and sleeves to go, plus the hem and I-cord for the drawstring.

Thanksgiving was absolutely marvelous! Since SIL and her kids and my grandma didn’t get back from Colorado until Thursday, so it was decided to make our Thanksgiving on Friday. Mom was kind of nervous about it since this was her first time hostessing something this big. Sis M and I made seven pies on Thursday, including French Silk in both the authentic raw-egg version and an attempt at pasteurized egg version, Key Lime pie, cheesecake, crumb-top apple, lattice-top cherry, and Oreo. I also made a broccoli-cauliflower casserole and a creamy pasta salad. Let me know if you want the recipes. On most of them I used a premade graham cracker pie crust, except the lattice top cherry, I used a premade dough crust. Sis M and I did the tag-team pastry weaving for the top, that was fun. The weather was absolutely marvelous, and we were even able to eat outside on the deck! I wish I had brought back more leftovers!