Sunday, March 30, 2008

Snuggly Snuggly

Thank you MamaSara for the pretty pretty yellow Snuggly. I love the color; it's so buttery. I think this will become a baby gift for the myriad of spring babies delivered and due. Then again, I just might Stash it for my own future use.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Surgeon Kniteral's Warning: Second Hand Knitting

Just as those who live or work with smokers must concern themselves with second hand smoke; those that live with knitters must concern themselves with second hand knitting. Symptoms of second hand knitting include, but are not limited to the following:
  • admiring the little things, like a well executed buttonhole or a perfectly woven end
  • Stash Lust: petting and fondling the knitter's stash in the knitter's absence
  • confidently and appropriately using knitting vocabulary (for example: saying nostepinne v stick, yarn over v hole, and Stash v your pile of string)
  • waiting for the active knitter to stop counting before engaging them in conversation
  • approaching the active knitter parallel to the direction of the needle tips
  • before sitting... checking the seat for darning needles, small metal double points, and other pointy objects
Well, tonight, Master Blackhead has officially manifested the first symptom. He can distinguish a tubular bind off (TBO) from a regular bind off. .. and thinks the TBO looks more "finished." Should I be worried about him? Are the fiber fumes getting to him? What if he tries to start his Stash using my Stash. Really, I'm so absolutely proud of him (and myself for talking about knitting so much that he's learning by association), and so absolutely spooked all at the same time.

I can only take solace in the following: I haven't found him playing with my Stash.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Puzzles and Clues

Master Blackhead and I have a shared hobby in (no, not knitting) puzzles. We find them fascinating and have developed our own (most likely not uniques) system of piecing them together. First, we divide the pieces into 7 piles: edge, no nub, 1 nub, 2 nub, 2 nub adjacent, 3 nub, and 4 nub. Yes, we really do like saying nub. Second, we piece together the edges. Third, Master Blackhead starts in one corner and systematically adds the next piece by going through our piles, and I piece together whatever catches my eye. This works well for us. By the time I get bored of what I'm doing and move onto the next cluster, he's working on how to connect my clusters.

This past week we've put together a winter scene of Neuschwanstein Castle. I think if I wasn't obsessed with a knitting project it would have been finished sooner. As it stands, this 1500 piece puzzle took us a little under one week. Incidentally, it was the hardest puzzle I've ever done. Not piecewise (our biggest was a 6000 piece map), but in terms of image it was tough. There wasn't always a clear indication where a piece went, which is the weakness of my cluster strategy. Nonetheless, the end result is the same: a done puzzle!

So what's this knitting project I've been obsessing about? Well, it's a secret, but here's a clue. I'm writing a pattern using my (new) favorite yarn, Malabrigo Silky Merino. It's light and soft with a beautiful sheen. Here's a bit knit up so you can see it for yourself. Too bad you can't feel it too.

I'm hoping to submit this pattern to Knitty, but who knows if they'll take it. This will be the first pattern that I've written for people other than myself. I brought the incomplete garment to SSK today, and it was well received. So we'll see.

I'll leave you tonight with a picture of Jynx carefully guarding the sweater I made for Master Blackhead for Christmas. The second it hit the ground (why my hand knit is on the ground is another issue entirely, but we'll let it slide this time) he claimed it as his bed. Perhaps he's hinting that the Little Blackheads need hand knits of their own.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Off to Panera

Pooh called. She said to be at Panera or be square. Off to be nonsquare.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One Hot Mama Seeks Yarn Baby to Spoil

Let's review the facts:
  • MamaSara knows that sock yarn is seriously addictive.
  • MamaSara brings her handknit socks to tantalize me.
  • MamaSara turned me onto knitting socks.
  • MamaSara gave me three bags full of elf sock yarn.
  • MamaSara gave me a fabulous ball of Opal Crazy Sock Yarn.
ERGO: MamaSara is responsible for my sock yarn addiction. :-D

A big thank you goes out to MamaSara for the beautiful sock yarn. She spoils me already with food, love, and compliments (even on days I look like Gollum's second cousin twice removed). Let's not forget the Hexed & Jynxed cozy vintage boucle and other tasty morsels. Her timing today was perfect because I just finished a project and needed something to keep my hands busy while I thought about the next project. Take a look at my new "Crazy" socks.

This is a toe up, in case you can't tell, with an easy toe (see Sensation Knitted Socks) and short row heel. I've used a K2P1 ribbing on the top of the foot since I like a fitted sock and don't want to fiddle with increases and decreases. I'm really liking Opal sock yarn. The yellow and orange elf socks were also Opal. It's a really great reliable sock yarn.

The most recently finished project is not yet blocked, but I couldn't resist bringing it into the shop today. When I held it up, there was a collective awww that just tickled me. By the noise alone, you would think that I held up a kitten or puppy or some other cute thing. I didn't wear the tank today because it is short and am waiting to wear it with a skirt (skirt advantage: hiking up the waistline for modesty's sake). Here's the low down.

Name: Shell Tank
Yarn: Classic Elite Patina Ivory, 6 balls
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads
Needles: US 3 and 6, 32" circular Addi Turbo
Pattern: Shell Tank, 36", Knitting Nature, Norah Gaughan
Comments: This is an interesting pattern that I would happily knit again... just not with a yarn that has such a high cotton content (70% cotton/ 30% silk). My hands hurt tremendously, especially when cabling. Speaking of cables, the shell pattern is brilliant. NG's creativity never ceases to amaze. I would have made this one size larger except the number of stitches throughout the body was higher than a previous tank I made with Patina that is too large. So I thought I'd go with a smaller size for a more fitted garment, which I achieved... BUT it's short. I added 1" to each side of the shoulders to let it hang down a bit more, but it's still short. For round 2, I think I'll try using something like Fixation or Calmer and figure a way to lengthen it. Overall, I'm satisfied with this knit.

What's next for this Blackhead... well the Formula 51 inspired sweater is being plotted in one of the corners of my mind. I've got Crazy socks in the works. Maybe I'll bypass F51 so I can get to Zeldabeast's Silk Garden. Who knows? Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yarn Angel Blesses Again

I am so totally and completely feeling the love here. As if cashmere wasn't enough, Zeldabeast has seriously set out to spoil me rotten. Yesterday, at Dunn Bros., she walks in with a bag filled to overflowing with yarn for me. I was so enamored and happy that I think I drooled a little bit. Thank you, thank you, thank you Zeldabeast! Me so happy.

From top to bottom: 6 skeins Noro Silk Garden, 1 ball Knit 1 Crochet2 Tartelette, 2 skeins Brown Sheep Wildfoote, and 1 skein Fortissima Socka.

Totally feeing the love.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And the Elfie Goes to...

Today was the First Annual Amazing Threads Sock-It-to-Me Contest, and what a success it was! The entries were quite creative and unusual. The room was bedecked with little baby socks MamaSara made years ago and her flower arrangements. As contestants et al trickled into the room with their entries tucked away in opaque baggies, MamaSara tagged them and passed them to me to pin on the board. She wore her own pair of elf socks, of course.

After we gathered at the tables, MamaSara began to tell the conclusion of Elfred's Snow Squad Drama. Despite our incessant chatting, we actually managed to hear Sara's tale. It went something like this:
Mrs. Claus was not happy with how Santa had treated the elves, and cut him off until he reformed his ways. She said, "no nookie until you're nicer to the elves!" Well that just about lit a fire under Santa's bowl full of jelly, off he and the Santa Squad went to Anger Management. At the conclusion of the course, Santa apologized to elves for having a snit fit and, in his beneficiance, ordered brand new yarn and needles from Amazing Threads. Naturally, he invited Thora Lee to the North Pole to teach the elves how to knit socks on double points and 2 circulars. To top it off, he's even going to give the elves time off every Tuesday morning for their SSK group where they can do all that we do at our SSK group: sharing, caring, hugging, knitting, chatting, and EATING! Painting toy tires wasn't so bad after that.

There's just one more wrinkle to this story, Elfred, one of Santa's most senior elves had gone on the lamb and fled to Hawaii. Santa found him on the beach, and went to apologize and ask Elfred to return to the North Pole. Elfred said, "are you kidding? Look at all these hot women in string bikinis. I'm not going back to the North Pole no matter how much you pay me. I'm staying here to be a surf bum." In the end and after intense negotiations, Santa conceded that he needed Elfred to run his distribution center in the Islands. He gave Elfred a big promotion and new position: Big Kahuna Malikalikimaka Menehune, Big Chief Christmas Elf.
Don't you just love a happy ending? Well it gets better, all the projects that came from the sock yarn grew into a beautiful display of entries.

Here's a close up of some of the entries. Starting from the upper left and working clockwise: my entry (blue and magenta), my entry (red heel and toe), my entry (orange and yellow), Cid's entry (pink with flowers), K's entry (hat), K2's entry (multi colored wavy stripes), and Yvonne's not completed afghan (blocks and blocks and blocks). I also made a washcloth that folds and buttons up into a cold compress wrap. You can't see in the picture below, but you can in the above photo (Yoda and a white post-it note are stuck to it.) Cid's flowered sock took an avalanche of prizes winning both the Elfie for Best Use of Color and, the Grand Prize, Viewer's Choice. K2's wavy socks brought her the Elfie for Best Use of Pattern. Not pictured are the winners of the Elfie for Best Use of Ugly (won by Pooh's elf foot) and the Elfie for Best Non-Sock (won by Tink's doll outfit). Congratulations to all the winners!

My entries brought me little glory, but the orange and yellow ones had a strong following of haters, three at least. MamaSara was the only one other than me who liked them. Naturally, I promptly put them on my feet and put my feet on the table. Tis the extent of my pride in my ugly love child. Besides if you wove in all these damned ends (see below), you'd be justifiably proud of them too.

The magenta and blue one was intended to be a toe sock, but that didn't work out well (below). The big toe had increases evenly spaced partway up, so it took on a decidedly phallic look (no picture, EVER).
We all agreed that the contest was a big hit and we should do this again next year. It won't be socks, though. We're thinking hats. I want to send out a big thanks to MamaSara for providing us with the elf yarn and the inspiration to create and innovate. Thanks Sara!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Feeling the Love

I have been blessed by a yarn angel. Today, Zeldabeast gave me the most beautiful royal blue 100% cashmere yarn. Thank you Zeldabeast!!!

As you can well imagine, it is scrumptious. I have been rolling it on my cheeks and under my chin for the last hour. The other 3 Blackheads, on the other hand, seem hurt and confused: Master Blackhead had his hand smacked when he tried to fondle the yarn, and the Little Blackheads were pushed away when they tried to sniff it. Well I care not a whit if they feel left out; they know my balls are off limits. ;-)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sand Dollar Pullover Finished

Woo hoo! The Sand Dollar Pullover is knitted, seamed, blocked, and DONE! The best part is that it took 3.5 days. Aran weight yarn knits up soooo much more quickly than sock yarn. (Duh!) I don't have pics of me wearing it yet, but here is one of the center sand dollar.
Name: Sand Dollar Pullover
Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran Yellow Green, 7 balls
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads
Needles: US 7 and 9, 32" circular Addi Turbo
Pattern: Sand Dollar Pullover, 44", Knitting Nature, Norah Gaughan
Comments: I love this pattern. The construction is magnificent and a true testament to Ms. Gaughan's knitting brilliance. With 8 seperate pieces there is a lot of seaming involved. I rather enjoy seaming if the pieces fit together well, and in this case they do with aplomb. The sleeves set into the armhole on the first try. Don't even try to knit this "in the round". I made a few modifications. First, I disregarded the last increase on the upper left front so both upper pieces would have 30 stitches. So, when I joined the pieces, I used a three needle bind-off instead of a kitchener stitch. Second, I used a slip stitch selvedge on the public edge of the upper fronts. Third, I shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hex Thinks Knitting is Boring

Hex finds knitting to be completely boring. Here I am knitting away and he's sleeping. No yarn chasing... no needle batting... nothing... just this adorable face.

Admittedly, I am usually pretty good about finishing one project (or storing it in permanent hibernation) before transitioning to another. Well it must be March Madness because I have abandoned Drunken Bees for the Sand Dollar Pullover (SDP) from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature. I simply could not wait to start after I got the yarn for it. I cast on the next day. Thus far, I have finished the back, the two lower front pieces and almost one upper front piece. That means I have one upper front, the center sand dollar, and sleeves left to do. I forgot how fast aran weight yarn knits up compared with sock weight yarn. It feels like the knitted fabric is flying off my needles. Here's a close up of the knitted material still on the needles.

I'm really excited about this sweater. I made one last year, but it has a new home now with Mom. So I know this is a pattern that I will like very much. Stay tuned for more progress on the SDP.

Here's a baby hat that was finished a while ago, but has been resurrected for this blog. It was sent off to its recipient in January. Our friends just had their first baby girl. It has a clone that was donated to a silent auction. Sadly, I do not have this cute little thing anymore.

Name: Petal Hat
Yarn: Sublime Extra Fine Merino dk, Pink (hat); RYC Cashsoft dk, Snowman (petals); Classic Elite Patina, Lichen (base of flower); Jaeger Baby Merino 4 ply, Taupe (stem)
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, my scrap pile
Needles: US 7 Clover Takumi Velvet, US 9 Plymouth Bamboo, US 2 SRK Bamboo
Pattern: Flower Petal, Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Caught in the Act

Few people believe me when I say that Hex likes to lick cords, not chew them. At long last, here it is, photographic proof of cord licking.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

RANSOM: Yarn... lots and lots of yarn

Yesterday, I willingly and happily found myself a captive at Amazing Threads.

Captors: Me and the Leap Day Sale.
Ransom demanded (and paid... happily): Yarn

In general, yarn sales are dangerous for me; sales at Amazing Threads are venus fly traps with Titanium-reinforced spring-loaded hinges dangerous for me. The Leap Day Sale was spectacular. I spent the whole day inhaling yarn fumes and needle dust. Absolutely intoxicating. I think some of the other customers thought I was a piece of furniture since I spent a large chunk of the day knitting in the classroom.

As most of the Posse know, I like to spend some time with Fiber Pledges (noun def: yarn I'm thinking of buying) before inviting them to join my Stash. This keeps Fiber Pledges that don't fit the culture of my Stash from sneaking in and throwing off the all important Stash Balance (noun def: proper proportion of protein/ cellulose/ synthetic fibers in Stash, varies by knitter). So after careful consideration and culling of the Pledge Class (noun def: the gigantic pile of yarn I have not purchased, but temporarily claim), I think I came out with some real winners. Take a look at what made the cut.

Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran Green/Yellow
Destiny: Norah Gaughan's Sand Dollar Pullover from Knitting Nature

Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran Orange
Destiny: My Interpretation of Samuel L. Jackson's sweater in Formula 51

Plymouth Happy Feet (for matching socks)
Destiny: Matching socks, of course!

When the new yarn came home, Hex and Jynx couldn't have cared less. They were busy telling me what a bad Cat Staffer (you know: dogs have Masters, cats have Staff) I was for leaving them alone for so long. I felt terrible for abandoning my duties, but sometimes even Staff need breaks. I brought my new yarn to join the rest of the Stash. It fit in perfectly: Stash Balance restored. I think some other time I will explain the finer nuances of Stash Balance, but right now my fingers are itching for some of that Kathmandu goodness.