Monday, March 26, 2007

This, that, and some other things

This past weekend, a customer (and reader of this blog) commented that I hadn't been posting as much lately. She's right. I've been working quite a few hours in the last couple of weeks; our knitting instructor has been away on vacation and I was asked to take over the classes for a two-week period. That ends this week. By next week, I'm back to regular hours, which will give me more time for both blogging and knitting. Gotta love that!

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This is the kit that will be going out to Heike when I make it to the post office. I apologize for taking so long, Heike, but it WILL be mailed today, hopefully.

Knitting... that's what this blog is supposed to be about, right? Well, I really haven't done a lot of knitting this week. I have, however, been working on this...

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The yarn is Scheepjes Invicta Extra, colour 1361, worked on 2.25 mm needles. John commented that he really needs more socks, so I dug into my stash and came out with this yarn. I've probably had it for about 6 years. He feels that these will be more dress socks than work socks, but at least he's getting socks. The pattern? None, really. It's a knit 3, purl 1 rib and will be down the top of the foot as well. I used a twisted German cast on, 72 stitches, 1x1 rib for 1.25", then 3x1 rib for the rest of the sock. I can type it out and post it if anyone wants me to. Just let me know.

The Estonian Garden Shawl in alpaca and my mother's Estonian Garden scarf are gaining a little in length, but slowly. I've also started a second EG scarf for a mystery project. The scarves are so nice to work on right now because they're light. My right wrist has been bothering me a bit lately, but I simply CANNOT stop knitting, can I?

For today, I don't think much knitting will be accomplished. Yesterday, I cooked up two chickens, with plans to make chicken pot pies today. I also cooked up two small meat loaves. The intention is that there be some good, easy to prepare foods handy for John's dad when both John and I are at work. He tends not to eat much when he's here by himself. I think he just forgets to eat. On days that we're both working, it's my intention to put a lunch out for him, with step by step instructions on how to warm it, if necessary.

And, with the chicken carcasses, you can be sure a pot of soup will be produced, too. The carcasses were roasted and stock prepared last night. Yum... now I'm getting hungry!

I will leave you with an artsy shot. There are a lot of bloggers who participate in Eye Candy Friday. That's just too regimented for me. This yard has some interesting stuff around it. B, who lives upstairs, has a taste for antiques and eclectic things, so now and then I'll post a picture of something I find interesting around here.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Title? I need a title?

It's been a while, hasn't it? First, a quick update. Heike, who was chosen as the winner of my 2nd anniversary contest, will be receiving a Louet yarn dyeing kit. It contains 2 skeins of sock yarn, three colours of dye, and all the instructions to dye your own yarn. It will be going into the mail this week, when I can make it to the post office.

Now, on to other things. I made a purchase yesterday. I've been eyeing these little things for a while now, and this week I finally found one that is compatible with my ancient computer.

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For those of you not familiar with these, it's a flash drive. In essence, it's a portable mini hard drive. This is the 1 gb size. The reason I had a difficult time finding one (not that I looked really hard) is that I'm still running Windows 98 on my computer. The majority of these flash drives require a minimum of Windows 2000. But now, I have one. I'll be using it primarily to transfer files back and forth from the store. It also contains ALL of my own patterns, as well as all the patterns I've downloaded from online. And I've barely touched it's memory capacity!

On to knitting... I have been knitting... honest, I have.

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Here's one project I'm playing with. I bought Vivian Hoxbro's book, "Shadow Knitting". It's an intriguing technique, one I'd like to play with some more. In order to understand it a little better, I'm knitting this...

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It doesn't have a lot of shadow patterning in it, but that's ok. I'll also try my hand at a smaller project from the same book. It just seems to have so much potential for fun knitting.

Then, there's this lovely piece of work... and it truly is. The picture, obviously, just does not give you the tactile experience that this shawl is.

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The pattern is Fibertrends, Estonian Garden Shawl. The yarn I'm using is Garnstudio Drops 100% laceweight Alpaca. It's like knitting with a cloud and the shawl is so incredibly touchable and soft. I think it will become a favourite very quickly!

If you will recall, I'm also knitting the Estonian Garden Scarf as well, as a Mother's Day present. Remember this?

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The pattern calls for 41 repeats of the little "heart" motif. Well, yesterday, I made it to the 41st repeat. Then, I looked at it. Carefully. And realized something had happened about 4 rows down that had created an overly large "hole". So, I tinked back to that point. Had it back on the needles and worked one row. Looked at it again. And discovered a dropped stitch about 8 rows down. AND it had created another, even larger hole.

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There's nothing left to say about that scarf. The lime green "string" is my foundation chain for the provisional cast on. I'll be casting on again for this scarf another day.

For today, after I write out a pattern for one of the customers at the store (more on that project another day), I'll be working on John's sweater. He's been dropping hints all over the place and I suppose it's time I pick them up, don't you think?

Monday, March 12, 2007

We Have a Winner (and other bits and pieces)

Without further ado, the draw winner is Heike, from Germany! Congratulations, Heike! Send me an email and we'll determine your prize. The email address... stringsnthings at shaw dot com. You know that works, right?

It was fascinating to read about how you all started out knitting. My story is very similar. My mother taught me the basics when I was about seven years old. I learned the knit stitch and did it poorly, although I did make a Barbie "vest" (a somewhat rectangular piece of knitting that just happened to have two holes in about the right place to be considered armholes) and sold it for the grand sum of ten cents. I didn't pick it up again until seventh grade, when we had to knit a pair of baby booties in school. After that, it wasn't until my third child was born (I was about 30 at that time) that I picked it up again and stuck with it. I've been knitting since.

Here's what I've been working on off and on for the last couple of days...

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The pattern for these is from the 2007 Knitting Pattern a Day calendar. They knit up very quickly, with 2 strands of Paton's Decor held together on 4.5 mm (US 7). This pair is intended for me, but they might fit John's Dad, and he will put them to good use, I'm sure. I have another pair, somewhat larger, half done (that is, one slipper's finished, the second is on the needles) for John, or whomever needs them.

John's felted clogs are almost done, too. I did decide to make the second sole in a different colour. One sole is ready to be knitted to the first slipper. I'll show you those when I have them completely done. And that likely will not be today. I wanted to get a lot of knitting done yesterday, but it just wasn't that kind of day, for some reason.

The guys are home, finally! It was a trip from hell for them, but they're here. The car is about 10 blocks from here, but John and his dad are here. Yes, the car broke down. They made it all the way from Vancouver to here, with a few glitches, in a record-breaking rainfall, but the car refused to make it all the way home. John's just on his way now to borrow the pickup truck from his work, unload the car and bring everything here. Then we'll call BCAA and have the car towed to a repair shop. I think it's time to start thinking about a replacement vehicle. *sigh*

And life goes on...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Contest is Closed

All of the names have been transcribed to slips of paper. They're all in a bowl, waiting for someone to come home. I will let you know the results as soon as one of the guys (John or his dad) has drawn a name.

Now, though, I'm going back to bed. I'm trying to get rid of a migraine; this is day #2. Later.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lots to talk about...

Yesterday was one of those days... I did some puttering around the house, hung a few pictures and spent most of the day with needles in hand. So, where do I start?

Shortly after I started this blog, I made a pair of felted clogs for John. He has completely worn them out--toes, heels, ball of the foot--other than the top of the foot, there's not much left of them. Hopefully, by the time he gets home (this weekend, I think), he'll have a new pair waiting for him.

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Here's slipper #1. I'll be casting on for the second one today. The yarn this time is Galway in a foresty green tweedy colour. The picture does not do it justice. I think it will be really nice felted. I'd like to have a pair for John's dad, too, but John's come first. I think Tony still has slippers. If you've not made these before, the sole is worked first, then the body of the slipper. Finally, a second sole is knitted, stitches picked up around the first sole and the two are cast off together. I've decided to work both slippers without the second sole first, to see if I have enough yarn. I should have, but I want to be sure. If necessary, I'll work the second sole in a different colour.

Last week, I bought some cotton yarn with an eye towards making myself some new face cloths. I've made a couple of nice, lacy ones for myself before, from a Fibertrends pattern, but John decided that the round one simply could NOT be a facecloth; it was a doily. It has disappeared in the move, probably in a box somewhere. It was nice, but was done in a 4-ply cotton and was a little small for my liking.

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We have this lovely cotton at the store, and I couldn't resist the colours. They're so bright and cheerful that I bought one of every colour we had. The partial ball of blue in the back has already been turned into a facecloth, a square one. The yarn is Lang's Tissa, a dk weight combed cotton. It's very nice to work with, soft to the touch and the facecloth is nice and absorbent.

The cloth I've already done was worked in the same stitch pattern as this one...

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This one was worked on 50 stitches, on a 4.0 mm (US 6) needle. The texture is perfect for a face cloth, in my very humble opinion. It's just right for gentle exfoliation, and it's kind of cushy. If you're interested, here's the stitch pattern (not from a book this time, but from my own brain!).

Row 1: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row
Row 2: knit
Row 3: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row
Row 4: purl

Repeat these 4 rows until desired length has been reached. To finish, work Row 1, then cast off knitwise.

Today, apart from the second slipper, I'll be working on this...

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It will be a round facecloth (hopefully, it won't look too much like a doily this time and it won't disappear), with a lacy edge. I've been reading Martha Waterman's terrific book on lace shawls and that's what I used to get this cloth going. It's done in 16 sections, mostly stocking stitch. The edging will be a narrow one, in garter stitch. I'll post a picture when it's done, but don't expect the pattern to be written out. I didn't make notes this time.

Today is my last day off before 4 full days at the store. I've got to get my knitting in while I can. I've decided that if the sun comes out to play today (doesn't look like it so far), I'll go for a walk but if it doesn't brighten up, I'm staying in and spending quality time with my knitting needles.

By the way, don't forget to leave your comment on the contest post. Friday gets here pretty fast!

Monday, March 05, 2007

While the Cat's Away...

...this mouse can play. I have a finished object. Small projects are great for the ego. They knit up quickly, they're fun, and you end up feeling quite productive, thank you very much. Case in point...

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This lovely little scarf was finished in two days, one ball of Noro Silk Garden per day. It's from the XRX book, "Scarves, a Knitter's Dozen". I love it. This picture shows the scarf as it's drying. Here it is, being modeled by a jacket.

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I really like it. And, once washed with Eucalan, it is nice and soft. Can't say enough about that stuff!

As the title of this post intimates, John's away again. He's in Vancouver to get his dad's apartment packed up and emptied. We've come to the conclusion that Dad can no longer be living on his own in the city. He's registered for a home, but the wait list is something like nine months. John will be taking Dad to the doctor this week to see if we can't get that timeline shorthened a bit, but the woman who runs the home isn't holding out much hope that it will be any less time. In the interim, we're moving him in with us. That will be an adventure in logistics, as we've set up the suite to be one bedroom, not two. We've decided that we'll give up our bedroom to Dad and we'll camp out in the garage on a hide-a-bed. It doesn't sound as rough as it actually is. The garage is clean, attached to the house and completely dry-walled. It will just be inconvenient for a while. Oh well, we've dealt with inconvenient before, haven't we?

In the meantime, I have time to knit. As much as I want. And not feel guilty. I'm loving it!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Just HAD to Share!

I didn't say anything about this in this morning's post because I wanted to take pictures first, but I just HAD to share my latest stash enhancement with you. Yesterday, a gentleman came into the store with a garbage bag. I'm always a little leery when a man comes in with something in hand because he's usually trying to sell something and I don't usually buy.

This time, though, was different. He asked me if I could use some yarn; he'd moved it here from the coast and he no longer wanted it in his posession. He didn't say where the yarn came from; I can only guess (I have a feeling he, at some time, had a knitter in his life, but didn't anymore). I accepted it when he said there was some (what he thought was) virgin wool. I got it home and discovered this...

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I could't believe what I had! Here's an inventory:

16 balls of brown yarn (looks like worsted weight White Buffalo-type yarn)
7 balls of white in the same yarn
7 balls of dark brown in the same yarn
2 wheels of blue in the same yarn
2 large balls of double-stranded acrylic (I tested it) in navy. Also included was an unfinished pair of men's sized slippers
1 ball of black wool, dk weight, I think
1 ball of natural-coloured cotton

The hat at the front of the loot is one I made with one ball of the brown yarn. Here's a closer look at the hat:

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Free... he just wanted it gone!

I've never knit with this kind of yarn before, so a little practice was in order. I sacrificed one ball of brown to do a couple of swatches, one on 4.5 mm (US 7) and one on 5.0 mm (US 8) needles. Both were fine, but the one on 5.0 mm was a little "loftier", softer, fluffier. I decided to cast on for a top down hat right there and then and finished it today. I like working with this yarn; I've never had the experience of being able to feel the lanolin in the yarn, but with this one, I really could! My finger tips are nice and soft right now. *grin*

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket!

Announcing the Details!

I've been thinking long and hard about what to require of you for the sake of this contest. I'd like it to be interesting, not just to me, but to the rest of you who read this blog, too. So, here goes, as inspired by Cole's comment.

How long have you been knitting? Who taught you to knit and at what age (if you care to divulge that information)? And finally, do you consider yourself to be an occasional knitter, a regular knitter or an obsessive knitter? You know what I mean.

The rules? Glad you asked. Your answers to the questions MUST be left in the comments on THIS post only. You have until midnight on Saturday, March 10 to leave your comment. On Sunday, I will make up little slips of paper with each entrant's name on it and one of the men in this house (I'll explain that another day) will draw one name.

I've not yet decided on a prize, but I do have a few ideas. Let the fun begin!