Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mystery Yarn

My mother gave me a left over skein of yarn from a blanket that she crocheted for my son. I'm not sure what it is. She probably got it at JoAnn's so it's most likely some kind of acrylic blend for babies. My best guess is that it's machine washable but not to be put in the dryer. It's so soft that it inspired me to make the Branching Out scarf that I've seen so many people work on. I started this on Saturday night and here's my progress so far:

I'm really amazed at how quickly this knits up. The pattern isn't quite intuitive for me yet but I haven't had any problems (knock on wood). I've been using my Chart Keeper to keep track of which row I'm on and I've found it very helpful. I will definitely need to block this out well when I'm done. I may just give this to my mom as a keepsake/reminder of the blanket she made.

One note - Samson was not impressed with my scarf. He was too busy trying to stay hidden on a box of pictures that I forgot to take care of.

I keep hearing Chris Farley sing "Fat guy in a little coat . . ." from Tommy Boy when I look at this picture. It's not so bad until Samson starts snoring.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Finished Object - Braided Cable Scarf

The Braided Cable Scarf was so much find to knit. It was a perfect travel project for long car rides, sitting in the airport or just to unwind at my folks house up north. I purchased the yarn on impulse during our anniversary weekend last Labor Day. We visited Adirondack Yarns in Lake Placid because I love to find all of the local yarn shops when I travel (I found it using the Daily Knitter's directory). They were running a special where you purchased yarn and received free patterns. This is how it turned out:

I still need to weave in the ends but I don't feel like doing that quite yet. I think this will end up going to the Red Scarf Project but I haven't made a final decision yet. It's so soft and so beautiful I may just keep it for myself.
Pattern: purchased from Adirondack Yarns, not sure if it's free or copyright
Yarn: Chunky Baby Alpaca
Needles: size 10 bamboo with one cable needle
Time frame: Started 9/2/06 and finished on 5/25/07

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Busy Hands

Well, it's been an event filled weekend. I spent all day Thursday and most of Friday in the hospital with my husband. He had an emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Now we have matching scars - how romantic!

I had plenty of time to knit while I waited for him and I was able to make a couple dishcloths for my mother to match her kitchen. Mindless knitting is very soothing when you're waiting to see if your loved one is ok. I found that you can almost make 2 dishcloths out of 1 ball of Sugar n'Cream cotton yarn. My picture is hiding the missing tip on the second one. I was probably only 4-5 rows short.

It's very entertaining to see where the colors will pool and where it will just stripe.

I did finish my braided cable scarf in the hospital too but I didn't get a picture yet. I'll save that for tomorrow. Instead I have a picture of Samson enjoying the fact that my large project bag is finally empty.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spinning This Week!

Now that the aran afghan sampler is finished I have started spinning again. YAY! I read Yarn Harlot's blog and she has a mantra that inspired me: "Tuesdays are for spinning". The idea behind it is that you dedicate regular time to spinning so that you can improve on your technique, reduce your stash and buy more fiber. It really stuck with me as a good idea so I thought I should do something like that as well. My husband likes to play video games occasionally and with our 1 year old he doesn't get time to do that often so we decided that Tuesday & Thursday nights will be game nights for him and spinning nights for me. We're still spending time together AND doing something that we enjoy.

Here's "my" Ashford Traditional wheel and spinning spot in the living room

Technically this is not my wheel - I do not own it. It is my mother-in-laws and she has let me borrow it indefinitely. I've had it for several years now and a couple weekends ago I told her that although I love spinning on it she can have it back whenever she needs it (I was trying to be thoughtful but secretly wishing that she wouldn't take me up on the offer). She quickly said "Oh, I don't want it back" and I was speechless. She ordered this wheel brand new directly from New Zealand. That may not seem like much but she rarely buys anything new. I still haven't replied to her on that. Do I say, "Are you sure?" or just "Thank you! Thank you!" and run away quickly?

Anyway, so far my spinning experience is made up of 1 pound of Romney wool. I have purchased several different types of fiber but I like to try them one at a time. Last night I tried spinning this beautiful chocolate alpaca roving that I got from Paradise Fibers.

It's so much softer than the Romney wool. I just wanted to put it up to my face and pet it! I almost gave up spinning it but then I finally got the hang of it. I had to slow down and let it twist more than the Romney. It doesn't cling to itself as much and can easily be broken so the extra twist works just right. I was able to spin this full bobbin:

Plus about half of one other bobbin. I'm thinking that this is something I would actually knit up and wear. Possibly making it into two-ply yarn and then knitting a simple scarf to show off the fiber. I'm not sure yet. The Romney was used just to learn on and I didn't have too many intentions of knitting it into anything - but this alpaca is just luxurious! Tonight I go back to knitting but I'm looking forward to Thursday's spinning night already!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nice Surprise

One of my beautiful sister-in-laws sent me a present for Mother's Day. Not only was I surprised to receive a gift, I was impressed by how thoughtful it was.

Two red purses! First, red is my favorite color. Second, I love unique purses and these are super cute. The one on the left is that patchwork/bohemian/I'm too cool type of style and the small sparkly one is just fabulous!

When my husband and I opened up the package he immediately started talking about how cool they would be as small kitting bags for when I travel. He is so on my wavelength!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Finished Object - Aran Afghan Sampler

This weekend I finally finished sewing on borders. It felt great. My mother-in-law promised to help me block it out the next time she visits. She said something about steam and ironing it but I can't remember all of the details. Here's the afghan's resting place until my son gets big enough for a "big boy bed"

I really enjoyed this project and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that needs a baby step before starting on the Great American Aran Afghan project. I learned basic techniques of assemply that I would have really struggled with if it had been a fancier project. Here's the afgan all stretched out:

Basic facts on the project

Pattern: Free from Lion Brand Yarn pattern #864 found here
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in DK Country Blue 9906
Knit Time: Started around April 2006 and finished May 2007 (with time off for delivering the afghan recipent to this world)

I am so excited to have finished this that I'm still contemplating my next stash buster project. I'm finishing up the braided cable scarf but I'm not sure what to start next. I know that I should work on my next square for the GAAA project but I need a little break and those patterns can be intense. I have some fun cotton yarn for dishcloths and they're fun little projects to knit up in the summer time. I also have the lace weight alpaca yarn that has failed me 3 times already. I don't think I'm that brave yet to try again.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


My husband and I came to a hard conclusion this month. We can't do it all. Sounds pretty common sense but it's very hard to digest. We were lucky enough to have him recently get a promotion and a hefty raise. So we divided up that raise to savings, college fund and a cleaning service for the house twice a month. This is where the guilt comes in. I should be able to keep my own house clean but it's just not getting done. I'd rather spend time with my family on the weekends than scrubbing toilets. Part of me is cheering because I'm putting my family first - the other part is grumbling because it's something I could do myself and save the money.

Good news is more time for knitting, bad news is less money for spinning fiber and knitting related items (I'm still on that yarn diet for 2007).

I finished the borders for the afghan but they're not that exciting so no pictures today. My plan is to seam everything up and have a final finished object picture by this weekend. Then on to smaller projects with fun yarn from my stash!

Friday, May 11, 2007


I was updating my profile the other day and giggled when I saw that I call myself an environmentalist. Yes I have changed all of the light bulbs in my house, I replaced my roof and got all new windows within the past year. I write to my representatives urging them to pass new legislation that will help us get a hold of our CO2 emissions. I love driving through the Maple Ridge Wind Farm and feeling like it's progress that will help the next generation. I'm currently planning to add insulation to our attic this summer and trying to determine a budget for adding solar panels to our house. I can't figure out which ones are best for us, powering electricity or heating and cooling our house? I'd actually like both! I recently read an acticle about all of the chargers and appliances that use energy even when we're not using them. I need to do some more research on that one since my husband and I are techies and have electronics plugged into every room.

My husband thinks that might be pushing it a bit put I think it's a small price to pay for doing our part. I could never be able to look my son in the eyes 20 years from now and have him ask why we didn't do more. I've seen that look on my parents face when I said "How could you be so stupid to smoke for so long?" They say they didn't know the risks at the time but even when people started getting sick they kept up their puffing. We know the what's happening to the climate now and I don't want to be the one that's slow to change.

So - on to why I giggled. It's been getting pretty warm during the day lately but still chilly at night. I have turned off the furnace and just opened the windows during the day. At night I close up the house and turn on the furnace so we're not freezing at 3 AM. The other night I did this and I woke up just sweating and way too hot to sleep. I checked on the baby and he was fine so I figured it was just me. That next morning when I went downstairs it was pretty brisk in the kitchen. I went to my back patio door and it was open. I had left the door open all night while the furnace was just chugging away to heat the house. Yup, that's me the absent minded environmentalist heating the outdoors.

At least I'm still trying to save the world right?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Year of the Stash!

I can't remember if I mentioned this before but I have pledged to knit from my stash this year and not purchase yarn. Knitters everywhere are calling this "Year of the Stash" and "Stash Buster 2007" or some variation of that. I'm calling it "I have so much beautiful yarn that I want to actually use it" aka "I'm broke and can't justify spending more money on yarn".

This may sound harsh to some but I look at it as a challenge. I'm scouring the Internet for the perfect patterns to try my lace weight yarn on that I haven't had much luck with. I'm searching for projects to use the sport weight Wool-Ease yarn that I got for next to nothing. I'm researching charity groups that need items that I have the yarn to make. I've got motivation to work on that Great American Aran Afghan that I bought all of the yarn for. See what I mean? It's an exciting challenge.

I've also gotten into the habit of saving all of my left-over yarn and I'm thinking about trying to make it all into a couple blankets to donate. I saw a post on Yarn Harlot's blog awhile back about this lady that wanted to get left over sock yarn from people to make a left over blanket. Boy I wish I could find that post! She asked people to completely bury this lady in left over sock yarn and I think she included a pattern in the post. The interesting part was that she knit it as additions to all one piece - not as squares that would need to be sewn together. Someday I'll find that and get started.

My official last purchase of yarn was Labor Day weekend in 2006. To tell the truth, I could probably go for 2 years without buying yarn if I wanted to - and I knit every night for at least a couple hours. I'm thinking of myself as creative and resourceful for doing this instead of cheap and . . . well, cheap. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Happy Birthday!

This past weekend was full of craziness. We had family come in for Will's birthday and I think I cooked enough food for an army. Most important was the big guys cake which he definitely liked.

I literally have an entire roll of film plus video of him eating this cake. It was just too much fun watching him. I purposely did all of our laundry on Friday in preparation for the weekend. This is the aftermath on Monday morning.

Yes that is a full laundry basket for a single 1 year old kid! Notice anything particular about that bathmat hanging from the side? Here's a closer look:

That is a perfect chocolate cake and frosting hand print. Priceless!

In knitting news I have finished 1 of the 4 seed stitch sections for the border. It's not that exciting to look at but I am moving forward to finish this project since I'm a dedicated knitter!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Safety Pins are a Girls Bestfriend

Yay! I finished sewing up the two halves last night and during my lunch break today I pinned them together. This is the reverse side and the glorious pinning I did. It took me 20 minutes to get it right and it's still a little lopsided in sections but I think only I will notice it.

Then I worked on sewing them together. Blah! Blah! Blah! Now this is what I have after all that work.

It just dawned on me today that it's way too big for the Big Guy's crib. Oops! You think I would have measured everything before I started the project. That would have made too much sense. Maybe this will be a transition piece to help him move from the crib to a regular bed next year.

So YAY for me! Whoo-Hoo! I finished sewing up everything before his birthday which was my original goal. I still have that border to work on but I don't feel the major time constraint on that part. My biggest issue is that it's supposed to be 2 pieces that are 40 inches and then 2 more that are 60 inches all seed stitch. The afghan actually measures about 40 by 62. Not bad really. My mother-in-law suggested that I crochet it on but I just don't like to crochet. Besides, I'm a follow the pattern exactly kind of girl. I'm not that adventurous yet :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Necessary Evil

Finishing work. I can't think of anything more boring than sewing these squares together. I have finally finished knitting up my pieces (squares and rectangles) and now I need to sew it up and then knit the border. BLAH! It's so boring and it hurts my back! I seem to have the same phrase going through my head for every stitch "I'd rather be knitting . . . I'd rather be knitting" ugh. Here's some boring pictures of the pieces waiting to be sewn.

I think the most interesting part of this picture is Gracie tip toeing around the afghan-to-be. I think if I were ever to do this project again I would skip the 6 seed stitch squares and add more cables. It was nice to have a break from the cables every now and then but for this to be an aran afghan sampler it would be more appealing to me to have all sorts of cables and twists in it. Maybe I'm just gearing up to start working on GAAA again :)

This will be sewn together by Saturday for my son's first birthday. I'll probably finish the border and get that attached sometime later. My mother-in-law has promised to help me block it out once it's all done.

Man . . . what a boring post! I can't wait until this is done and I can finally just knit again!