31 January 2008

Go ahead, make my day!

I received this award from Yarn Thrower:

"Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."

Passing it on to others is too easy as there are so many blogs and bloggers that make my day: Marianne, Knotty Kitty, Knitty Mama, Mom in Madison, Molly Bees, Dale-Harriet, Yarn Thrower, No-sheep Cate, Mrs. Yes (as well as her goddess persona), Hege, my sister-in-law, and librarian Megan (she knits now!!!). And this is just a list of the first ten er, twelve I can think of that make me happy and inspire me regular or recently! Nor does it include any of the "big names" in blogland that I read, but don't (or rarely) comment.

30 January 2008

FO: Princess Shoes

The Princess shoes are finished. Well, at least they were when I took the pictures. They already require minor surgery to fix an errant elastic loop, but Bean practically pitched a fit when I took them away long enough for a picture after I finished, so the repair can wait!

Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino Wool
Needles: Denise Interchangeable, Size 10½
Pattern: Fiber Trends Felt Ballerina Slippers (AC-14) by Bev Galeskas
Verdict: Love 'em. Bean loves 'em, too. Fortunately, I decided to go up a size, so they were fine even though I overfelted the Princess hat!

29 January 2008

More Secret Stole

Clue 2 is done. I really like the design so far and it has been kind of wild knitting something completely on faith. Especially since I am not known for following patterns to the letter. However, without any idea of what the finished stole is going to look like, the urge to think, "Hmmm, it would be easier/look better/suit me more if I did..." Of course, I didn't deviate (at least not on purpose) on the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl either. Maybe I am still just a little less adventurous when it comes to lace. Anyhoo, without further ado is clue two. [No, that little rhyme scheme was not on purpose. Yes, feel free to swat me upside the head if you are so inclined!]:

Well, actually, it is both clues one and two. If you care enough about the actual boundaries of clue two, clue one is here (down at the bottom of the post) for comparison. And, just for fun, a close up:

I have decided that I am perfectly content with my needle size selection. I went smallish, even though I knit pretty tightly, but I'm glad the plain stockinette isn't any looser. I really am liking the contrast between the solid fabric and the open work. The stockinette is dense enough that the yarn overs really pop!

I am finding out that this knit-along is bringing out a bit of my competitive streak. Even though it is not a race in any way (other than trying to have certain clues complete in a timely fashion to be eligible for prize drawings), I just want to go-go-go once I have the clue and I get annoyed when people start posting finished clues on the yahoo group before I have finished. I am just obsessive enough that I could probably be in the first wave of "finished the clue" posts, but certain realities intrude. First of all, the clues come out on Friday morning and we leave for lunch and the library shortly thereafter. Last week, I actually brought the stole with me and knit on it at McDonald's while the kids played on the play structure (Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am certifiably insane. Thanks for asking!). Then, our regular routine goes out the window since Kitty Daddy is home for the weekend. Not that having Kitty Daddy home is a bad thing, but our it's enough to break our rhythm, so the kids are less likely to get absorbed in playing, leaving quality knitting time for Mama. So, moral of the story: Competing with myself and setting realistic goals...good. Trying to race against people that don't have my time constrainst...crazy, even by my standards.

27 January 2008

Breaking news...

Uh-oh! Now we are in trouble! Beeb managed to get from back to belly this morning AND get the kickstand arm wrangled out of the way. You know it is only a matter of time before he puts the two together and discovers that he can roll for miles.

26 January 2008

Let's get rolling!

Well, little mister Beebster has reached a milestone! After several weeks of kicking and wiggling around on the floor, he managed to get himself over from tummy to back. He almost did an encore going from back to tummy, but couldn't quite manage to get a little kickstand arm completely out of the way.

He's also getting very close to a first little toothy peeking out. You can see it just under the skin, ready to pop at any moment! He is also fascinated with his hands and can now grab onto toys (like the plastic key rings) and get them sorta-kinda close to his mouth (if his random flailing doesn't try to put out an eye first). He has also managed to grab a little foot on its way by and thinks those are pretty cool too. Unfortunately, he gets so excited by grabbing a foot that he starts panting and kicking and the foot escapes from him. At least the little hands are fascinating enough to keep him occupied until the little motor cortex catches up!

He is also a great little music fan. He loves to listen to singing...bath time favorites are Rubber Ducky and Little White Duck. Diaper changing favorites used to be Hey Good Lookin' (the original, not the horrid cheese commercial one) and Baby Face. Now we have switched to some made-up songs, that just tickle his little Y chromosome: Super Pooper and Pee Buckets. In a rare case of good timing, big brother Bug has just gotten really interested in singing songs on his own, so Beeb can be serenaded by mommy or big brother.

25 January 2008

Quick spinning and knitting update...

Spin My Spindle
18 Jan to 24 Jan 2008

Activity: SpinningSpinning
Fiber: Alpaca Viscose
Spindle: Ashford Turkish
Amount: 5 grams
4 grams

I have actually been spinning more than it looks like. The viscose is spinning up very thin, and seems to be a lot lighter weight than alpaca, so I spin and spin and spin and check the weight and, maybe, I have added a gram!

My knitting stuckness is gone. Clue #2 for Secret of the Stole came out this morning, so I am back to doing lace. Also, the kids and I ran to JoAnn's yesterday, so I am back in shape with the princess hat, as well as having the supplies (thread and buttons) to finish up the dress and shoes. Now I just need to get motivated to pull out the sewing machine. So there should be a lace progress photo before long and hopefully some FO posts coming!

23 January 2008

Vacation in the Tropics

Well, it only lasted an hour or so, but still...

This is what is going on outside:

And, while we don't have the bitter cold we had over the weekend, it has still been down in the single digits. So this morning we spent a lovely hour at the Olbrich Gardens Conservatory. If not for a bad case of camnesia, there would have been some lovely tropical pictures for contrast. Lots of orchids were in bloom and were just gorgeous. All of the brightly colored flowers were a welcome change to the largely monochrome landscape outside (which, incidentally, I also think is stunning...just needed a change!)

Knitting is in an odd holding pattern for the moment. I have too many WIPs going to start anything new though. The only thing left on the princess slippers is a button and elastic loop and maybe some embroidery; I have knit on the second princess hat until I ran out of yarn, so that is waiting; I have to wait for clue #2 to come out on Friday before I can work on my stole again; I am almost done with the strap for my crazy purse, but I'm not going to felt it until I can do the princess hat at the same time; I need to pull out the sewing machine to attach the skirt to the princess dress, as well as add a button and elastic loop; while the sewing machine is out, I also have to sew a lining for the crazy purse. So my choices are:

  • work on the purse handle (not very much left)
  • work on Kitty Man socks (my hands get tired with the tiny needles and cotton yarn if I work too long)
  • go to JoAnn's to get three buttons and a skein of wool
  • pull out the sewing machine
Hmmm...where's the mindless knit when you need it?

20 January 2008

Mmmmmmm as in...

Malabrigo. Laceweight.

So, Friday was knit night at the Sow's Ear. I had a gift card from Kitty Daddy from Christmas. Three precious little 50 gram lumps of luscious laceweight Malabrigo came home with me. I don't have a project in mind...I think I will just give each skein a name and buy them all little collars and leashes and a soft basket for them to sleep in. Seriously. I debated long and hard between this color (pearl ten) and indigo, but this one won.

Other than that, we have mostly been trying not to freeze our little tushies off in the deep freeze of Wisconsin. The high for both today and yesterday were around zero---that's in Fahrenheit people, around -18 for you Celsius folks. Brrrrr. Yesterday, we went to the Madison auto show. Bug left in tears because we wouldn't buy a Hummer for him. Beeb thought he was a total bad boy after getting to sit in the driver's seat of a H2. Other than that, the verdict was "meh." It was kind of cool looking at the cars, especially without any salespeople around, but for the most part, the cars weren't anything special. Not really worth the price of parking and admission, except that it was also a fund raiser for Hospice. Today we are watching the Packers and Giants freezing their nether regions. We made a big pot o' chili and corn muffins for supper. I always like chili and cornbread, but when the weather is this miserable...boy did it hit the spot!

I also found time over the weekend to do the first clue for the Secret of the Stole. It sure looks like it will be a nice looking pattern as it emerges! I can't wait to see more!

18 January 2008

Spin my Spindle

I'm still spinning...it's amazing how much faster it goes when you do it regularly, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, I know. That's how most things work. I'm just a slow study. Either that or I like surprises. After I wound of the first single of alpaca onto a "bobbin" [read: cardboard toilet paper roll], I started my little blob of viscose on the Turkish spindle, just for some variety.

Spin My Spindle
11 Jan to 17 Jan 2008

Activity: Spinning Winding single Spinning
Fiber: Alpaca Alpaca Viscose
Spindle: Ashford [Bobbin] Turkish
Amount: 12 grams
86 grams 2 grams

The first clue for Secret of the Stole came out today. I have it downloaded and printed and I am just itching to cast on, but it will have to wait. We will be leaving for lunch and library in about an hour and a half and I have to get books together, find shoes and socks, find coats, get one more kid dressed (yeah, I know, not in that order), etc.

17 January 2008

Is it just me...

...or is it truly impossible to look at this little guy without singing "Stop, in the name of love"? Bug put this dude together with some of the K'Nex he and Bean got for Christmas. Even Bug has caught the bug, as it were. He keep telling me to sing his guy's "Stop song." He also built a fish-looking thing that Bean calls a "Nernay" (as in The Little Nernay"). I just love watching the kids create.

16 January 2008

It's coming, it's coming!

The first clue for the Secret of the Stole II is coming out on Friday. My KnitPicks order arrived with my laceweight yarn on Monday and I have been swatching. First up, the yarn...1760 yards of laceweight merino wool:

The swatch, fresh off the needles (Hey mom, pay attention here...you asked about why blocking)

Here is the swatch pinned to a bulletin board to block.

And, yes, I am aware that it really isn't a rectangle and the edges are all scallop-y. I just did a quick and dirty blocking to get an idea of how I felt about the needle size. And here it is, post-blocking (like every blog in the world, click to enbiggen):

I'm pretty sure I will be going with the size 3 needles. I don't think I would want to go any bigger. Just for kicks, I am doing another swatch with the next size smaller. I doubt it will change my mind though.

Beeb had about two days of being in a perfect baby phase. Over the weekend, he discovered the siblings and decided that he is absolutely transfixed. So other than some little inchwormy stuff, he stayed where you put him and watched big brother and sister with rapt attention. Then last night, he discovered toys and hands! He is completely taken by the plastic key rings. However, he needs a little help to get a good grip and still isn't in complete control of the little handies, so he drops it frequently. And when it drops, it is the end of the world, so the little dude is back to being pretty high maintenance again. Sigh. It was nice while it lasted. Maybe I can train Bug and Bean to fetch his keys.

Oh, and I loaded up on coupons and ran to JoAnn's to get another skein of Paton's Classic Wool for the princess hat and they were completely sold out of the color I needed. Crud. I had already picked out some buttons for the princess shoes, but no way I was going to wait in a humongous line with three little ones for a lousy card of buttons.

11 January 2008

Spinning my Spindle

I am taking motivation from Dave at Cabin Cove, I will be spinning my spindle in 2008. Hey, any excuse to make a spreadsheet, right? My goal is to spin every week and update my progress here.

I have some lovely fibers in the stash and I know that the only way to get better at spinning is to practice, practice, practice. I know that I'm not going to be producing yards and yards of finished yarn every week, but if I can spin a few grams a week, I will get better and, slowly, some yarn will get spun!

Spin My Spindle
1 Jan to 10 Jan 2008

Activity: Spinning
Fiber: Alpaca
Spindle: Ashford
Amount: 26 grams

09 January 2008

A-Feltin' we will go

First, the good news...

The felted princess shoes are going swimmingly. They felted up beautifully...

...and fit the princess's feet.

I still need to put on buttons and button loops to hold the straps shut, and I am thinking about doing some embroidery/embellishment with some of the leftover sparkly yarn.

The bad news is that the princess hat has, shall we say, issues. It is the same yarn as the shoes and felted beautifully...

...however, the fit leaves a LOT to be desired:

Next trip to JoAnn's, I am going to pick up another skein of Paton's Classic Wool and start over. I think it was the felting, not the pattern, so this time I will try to find a time for felting with fewer distractions and see if that goes better. Hopefully, taking it out sooner will be the key. That whole "check felting progress every five minutes"? Yep, not just blowing smoke.

I am anxiously awaiting my yarn for the Secret of the Stole II. I ordered it last Thursday, but due to various glitches in the new warehouse at Knit Picks, it didn't ship until today. So think speedy delivery thoughts on my behalf as the first clue comes out in 9 days! I may try some swatching before it gets here as I have some Gossamer in the stash, and if I understand correctly, Gossamer, Shadow, and laceweight Bare are basically the same yarn, just hand-painted, heathered, and undyed respectively. It will look different, but at least I will have a good idea of needle size in case the yarn arrives at the last minute.

I actually got a little spindle time in earlier this week. After reading about it in Knittymama's blog, I am planning on joining Spin My Wheel (or in my case, Spin My Spindle). And, if that's not enough to keep me entertained (HA!), I am also starting another blog. The new blog is going to be less about staying in touch with the outside world and more about just having a place to keep track of stuff. For now, it will be mostly books we read. I am finding that I keep checking out the same books after forgetting that I have already read that one by my favorite author. I also want to keep track of some of our favorite read-together books and topics.

I still have a pile of pictures and blog fodder from our Iowa trip that I will hopefully get around to. Just a teaser for now: Marshalltown, Iowa has a used car dealership name Clemons. C-Lemons? They also have the local Chevy/Pontiac gig, but the sign that keep catching my eye every time we drove to and from the hotel was the used car lot. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up!

03 January 2008

Other Knitting Stuff

Other knitting that has been going on...

First up, Kitty Man socks:

Yeah, I know that this isn't how "two socks on two circulars" is supposed to be, but it is what works for me! I did the cuffs of my mom's patriotic socks at the same time using magic loop, but 32" circulars just aren't quite long enough, so it felt really awkward. Also, doing them at the same time made it seem like they were moving SO SLOW! Going back and forth between the two works better for me. Only working on one at a time goes fast enough to make noticeable progress, but taking turns prevents second sock syndrome and ensure that I do the heels and other stuff the same.

Second in progress is Bean's Princess dress.

Except for weaving in the ends, the bodice is finished. We stopped at JoAnn's yesterday and picked up the fabric for the skirt...very shiny and fancy. Now I just need to get the sewing machine out to finish it up!

I am also working on the pointy, felted princess hat in New Knits on the Block. No pictures yet as it isn't particularly attractive in it's pre-felted form. I think it will be a quick knit though. Out of the same yarn I am also planning a pair of Fiber Trends felted ballet slippers as princess shoes. I'm thinking that both the hat and shoes might end up with some sort of embroidery using the sparkly red and gold yarn. We'll see.

I also (finally) got around to ordering yarn for the Secret of the Stole II. I ordered two hanks of Laceweight Bare from KnitPicks, as well as some needle tips and sock circulars with some of my Christmas money. I have just a little over two weeks for waiting for the yarn to get here and to swatch before the first clue comes out on the 18th. If you are curious, there is a button on the right sidebar that links to more info about the KAL.

02 January 2008

FO: Medieval Treasure

Yarn: Lion Brand Lion Suede (Ebony)
Needles: Denise Interchangeables, Size 9 (I think)
Pattern: Winged it (Wung it?). It went something like this:
CO 48 st Join in the round.
Round 1-3: * K1P1; repeat from *
Round 4: Knit
Round 5: * K2, yo, ssk; repeat from *
Round 6 to running short on yarn: Knit
Decrease K6, K2tog first round, K5, K2tog for second round, etc. until out of yarn. Run tail through remaining stitches and pull tight.
Verdict: Meh. But good for using up spare yarn from Knight's armor.

Yarn: Lion Brand Glitterspun (Silver, Gold)
Hook: Boye, Size G
Pattern: Crocheted disk from here.
Verdict: Crochet is still not my forte, but after finding this in Ravelry, I figured I had better get over my crochet block. Even though the pattern calls for single crochet, some of them are a completely made-up stitch that vaguely resembles a half double. I'm calling this a FO even though I still have lots of silver and gold yarn and will probably continue to turn out the odd coin or two as the urge hits.

FO: Frost Flowers and Leaves

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr 2/18 (Wool-Silk) in Sage
Needles: KnitPicks Options, Size 6
Pattern: Frost Flowers and Leaves (Eugen Beugler) from A Gathering of Lace
Verdict: Yummy! I absolutely adore the yarn and the shawl is so soft, squishy, yummy, and warm. Yeah, I could probably hurt myself I am also quite pleased how it turned out. All the tinking was definitely worth it!

I slipped this one under the wire as a 2007 FO as I finished grafting the edging on 12/30 in the parking lot of WalMart in Marshalltown, IA (We were on our way to KittyDaddy's mom's house for belated Christmas, more on that coming). I have to confess that I haven't blocked it yet, so it could be argued that it isn't technically finished, but due to time, space, and equipment constraints, I'm not sure when it will finally be blocked and I am already using it. Here is a picture of it all spread out on a king-sized bed:

Yeah, this could be a place to block it, but we have a waterproof mattress pad, so the pins might be a problem. Besides, I don't own any blocking wires and I'm not sure I have enough pins to just pin-block.