Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Family Get Together

We took off last week to head up north for a family get together. It was lots of fun. My nieces and I played the Simpson's version of Life many times and everyone was wrapped up in their own Harry Potter book (I think I'm the only one on the planet that hasn't read any of the books yet). Fun was had by all, especially our son:

This would be Will enjoying Grandma's famous Saturday morning pancakes. Next up is a horsey ride with Grandpa on a broom.

He must have worked up a sweat because he decided to relax in his new pool.

Last but definitely not least is the famous "muscle man" pose since he is a future champion in the Strongest Man competition.

At night I did get some work done on the Peapod Baby cardigan. I should have another progress picture to post tomorrow. It turns out that I'll be in Chicago next Monday and it's a perfect time to give the finished gift to the baby-to-be's father. I'm going to try to get everything done by then but if not I'll just have to mail it. I'm not going to rush and end up making a mistake. I've learned my lesson!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Charity Knitting

I've been knitting for about 6 years now. My friends and family are overloaded with wonderful hand knit gifts and now I'm turning to charity projects. I like to knit every day and sometimes I just want to try a pattern without having a purpose in mind for the finished project. This is where the charity part comes in. A long, long time ago I knit up two manly scarves, Irish Hiking and Brioche, just for fun. Here they are after pulling them out of storage:

I can't remember what yarn I used for the Irish Hiking but I did use hand spun Irish wool for the Brioche. It was wonderful to work with. Just recently I hear of a need for scarves for our soldiers currently living at a base in Germany. Details are here. These scarves are perfect for the job! I'm heading out to the UPS store on my lunch break to send them out.

The braided cable scarf is definitely going to the Red Scarf Initiative when it gets closer to September 1st. I'm signed up to participate in several charity afghans on the Knitting Help forums. It may sound like a lot but I'm really just enjoying knitting and if people can benefit from the things I make then it just makes me feel even better.

There are a ton of groups out there for knitted baby items but I haven't gotten into that yet. Maybe it's because I can never keep any baby yarn in my stash for too long! Now that my yarn diet is over I may just have to start stocking up again!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finished Object - Elizabeth I, Town & Country

Yesterday afternoon I washed and block my lace scarf finally it turned out very nice. I got to use my new blocking/dressing wires for the first time and it was a learning experience. I will suggest not trying to block something right after your eye doctor dilates your eyes. Unless you really want a challenge and a headache.

Here's my blocked scarf with the new wires and pins:

Not bad if I do say so myself. I probably could have stretched it more but I liked this shape and I didn't want to abuse the alpaca too much. This morning I found it dry and beautiful. Blocking is still just magic to me.

It's so pretty! I love how it looks all blocked out and the stitches definition is very clear.

Knit Time - a couple weeks (I think)
Yarn - Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud
Pattern - Elizabeth I, Town & Country variation

I'm looking forward to working on the Glorianna variation in an earth tone yarn but I need to finish the peapod set first and then knit up a GAAA square. It's all about planning!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pea Pod Progress

I casted on the Pea Pod Baby Set on Thursday night. I chose to purchase the extra long straight needles instead of working with a circular. It's just a personal preference thing. This is only the second cardigan I've ever attempted so it's slow going while I figure out the pattern. It's written like a conversation with a few charts mixed in. Not exactly the precision I'm used to but I'm always up for a challenge. I've got about 3 inches done so far:

I'm using Knit Picks Shine Worsted yarn in the grass color. This yarn was recommended for this pattern by one of my fellow Knitting Help forum members since I didn't want to spend a fortune on Debbie Bliss yarn. It's not that I'm cheap - this is a baby cardigan and will only probably be worn a handful of times before it's outgrown - I'm practical.

While I'm on the topic of yarn, can I express my displeasure with the amount in each skein?

Pitiful! This is a brand new ball of 75 yards! The color is beautiful, the textured stitches are sowing up nicely, it's super soft - but only 75 yards! This means I'll have to sew in a ton of ends. Ugh. I wish they would make these in larger sizes - I had to buy 10 balls for this baby set (1 extra just in case). Gracie is lending her paw to show how little yarn there is.

Other than that I'm very satisfied with how this is knitting up so far. I did receive my blocking wires over the weekend and I hope to block out my lace scarf finally this afternoon with pictures to follow tomorrow!

Friday, July 20, 2007

GAAA - McIntire Square

This is by far my favorite pattern in the whole book. Barbara McIntire's square is all cables which is pure beauty in my opinion. The cable in the middle called a "Saxon braid" and braided rib cables are on each side.

I don't have exact stats on this one because I started it over a year ago. I picked it up this past weekend and finished it last night. Super fast! I guess working with a US 8 needle can do that.

I have my next square picked out and ready to go but I need to take a quick break to make a baby project first. I would be disappointed about this but baby gifts take priority!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I've gotten a few questions about the Great American Aran Afghan and I think knitters are intimidated. Yes, I think this will probably be the most beautiful afghan I will ever knit and it's a challenge, but it's not that hard. This is what I did before I started:

Learn Basic Cables - There are a few great projects out there for people just learning how to cable. My all time favorite is the Irish Hiking scarf. It's easy enough for someone who's never used a cable needle before and it's long enough to get the rhythm of knitting without looking at the pattern for every stitch. From the same site I would then work on the Besotted scarf. The cables get a little more detailed but it's a nice step up from the first one.

Here's a picture of my Irish Hiking scarf:

This was my first cabling project ever and it looks great. That's what I love about cables! They're not that hard but they look wonderfully complicated. I don't have a picture of the Besotted scarf because that was a gift for one of my close friends.
Learn Seaming Techniques - This one was a bit harder for me because it's more like sewing than knitting. You could do this in a couple different ways. Maybe knit up a simple baby cardigan that requires seaming. Some sock toes are finished by seaming. Or you could just knit up two swatches and practice seaming them together. Whatever floats your boat.

In my case, I found an afghan sampler that I wanted to knit up for my son. It had some easy cables and twists and the patterns helped me get intuitive with my knitting. I will never like seaming but this project taught me that is it pretty important to follow the finished measurements of each square. It just looks nicer when they all line up and it's easier to sew them together. I posted pictures of my finished project of the sampler afghan here.

You really don't have to learn how to seam until all of your afghan squares are completed.

That's about it. I guess it would be helpful if you can read a chart too but they wrote out the patterns line by line so that's definitely not required. If you get bogged down by one of the instructions you can always hop over to Knitting Help for their free videos. I know I did many times until I got the hang of things. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

GAAA - Levy Square

My plan of attack to knit The Great American Aran Afghan was very methodical. I went through the pattern book and picked out the 20 squares I liked the most. I organized them from easiest to hardest just so I'd know what I'm getting in to. My hopes are to learn as much as possible from the easier squares to that the more difficult ones don't kill me.

Here is the finished square that I completed over a year ago:

This is the Julie H. Levy square, 1 of 5 easiest squares. I don't have any stats for this square but I will say my favorite part was the "Serpentine Cable" in the middle. I did learn how to make a bobble while knitting this up. It sounds difficult but it's super easy once you make a couple. This square took me about a month to knit. This was before I had much experience with knitting. I think if I was to start this same square today it would probably take 2 weeks at most.

Side Note: Since I'm one of the moderators now for the GAAA knit-along I should provide some info. The knit-along can be found here. This site has links for purchasing the pattern (about $12.95) and instructions on how to join (basically email me your info and I'll invite you to join). The archives are great for finding help on a topic and I love when people post pictures of the squares and progress. It's great motivation!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I can't believe I finally started knitting The Great American Aran Afghan again. I've been wanting to do it for so long that I've gotten sick of hearing myself talk about it:

"I really need to finish that square"
"I already bought all of that yarn for the GAAA, I should just get going on that"
"I'm the moderator for the GAAA knit along and I'm not even working on a square"
"Blah, blah, blah"

Well, it's a blast to knit up and it looks cool. Here's proof that I finally picked it back up:

This is the McIntire square and I've got about half done. At this rate I should be able to finish it up by this weekend. No joke. I can't believe I thought this was going to take me forever.

I checked my KnitPicks order of yarn for the Peapod Baby Set and it's estimated delivery is Monday. Last time they said that it got here a day early. It's right on schedule to be my next project. I scanned over the instructions for that - now that looks like a difficult project. I'll be using every reference book I own for that one. Good thing it's small.

I have no pictures to share yet for the lace scarf. I'm waiting for my blocking wires to get here from HandWorks NW. I figure it will be easier to use the wires than to take an afternoon to pin it out. There's no shipping timeframe listed on the site but I can be patient. After my research I found that they were the best set and highly recommended by long-time lace knitters from the Knitters Review forums.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I wasn't sure how I felt about this. I've been going strong now for 315 days without purchasing yarn, feeling proud and that I could make it until Christmas no problem. Then I realized that one of my friends is due next month with her first baby and I haven't made her anything yet. I kept negotiating in my mind (buy her something now and then wait until January to buy yarn to make something cute) but it was just ridiculous. Who am I trying to impress? What am I trying to accomplish?

I bought the damn yarn! That's right. It's more important for a new baby to come into this world and feel loved with a handmade gift than it is for me to be proud of a stupid number. I worked 315 days from my stash only. My husband doesn't care if I buy more yarn as long as I have somewhere to put it. I'm not going to be a "stash only" knitter anymore. That phase was necessary but finally it's over. I have found beautiful projects for my stash yarn but I plan to purchase yarn whenever needed as things like this come up.

The best part is that I now have projects assigned to all of the yarn that's in my stash now. I had bought some stuff because it was an amazing price and now it won't go to waste.

So now I'm waiting patiently for my yarn to get here . . .

Oh - I finished the lace scarf (just needs to be blocked), I finished 2 more dishcloths (I'll spare you the boring pictures) and I'm working on a square for GAAA. The coolest thing is that the last time I worked on this square it was over a year ago and unbelievably hard - now I'm knitting it up with no problems. It's amazing how much I've learned and improved over that time.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eris Progress

My in-laws are staying with us for a couple days and I got to check in on how my mother-in-law is coming along with my Eris sweater. You may remember that we frogged the entire sweater that she made for my birthday and selected this great pattern instead. She says it's a challenging project but she's really liking how the cables are turning out. This is her progress so far:
This piece will be the collar. Here's a close up of the cable work that will be on back of the neck:

So cool! It's going to look great when she's finished.

I don't have much to share of my own knitting. I thought I was finally done with the lace scarf but after another measurement I have 3-5 more inches to go. I don't want to sound like I'm sick of this at all. I'm just very excited to get working on GAAA again.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Well, I broke down and finally made a knitting purchase. Not yarn though - I bought the fancy row counter and the WPI tool from Knit Picks. They were definitely not necessities and I've heard of plenty cheaper home made methods of getting the same things done but I wanted to treat myself.

The fancy row counter should help me with the GAAA squares since it looks like most squares have multiple patterns in the same row. I was using tally marks in a notebook but whenever I would start again it took me forever to figure out where I was. This is great motivation to get me knitting on that again. It's just too pretty to stay in hibernation.

The WPI tool and card is for my spinning. This wasn't expensive and I definitely could have just continued to use the chart from one of my Spin Off magazines and a ruler but like I said, this is a treat.

My biggest concern now is that lately I have found patterns that I really, really want to buy the yarn for. That Peapod Baby Set would be perfect for one of my pregnant friends but she's due in August and I vowed not to purchase any more yarn for the rest of the year. I just don't know what to do. I think projects for expectant mothers should be an exception! It's not like I'm just going to add to my stash since there's an inevitable deadline involved!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Knitting Through The Pain

I wasn't able to spin last night because of a bee sting on my left ankle. Even though I peddle with my right foot I needed to keep my left foot elevated and iced. This is from a bee sting that happened on Sunday afternoon! Ridiculous!

It was pretty bad on Monday night so I skipped the Monday Night Knitting Club and kept it iced all night. Tuesday morning rolls around, it now hurts to walk and is so swollen it looks like I sprained it. Yet another trip to the doctor's office. Antibiotics AND a tetanus shot! UGH! Why can't I just be healthy?

So, I've finished a few of my super bright dishcloths:

And I have almost finished a salt'n pepper one modeled after my father's hair color:

One more to go from this ball of yarn and then I need to take a break from dishcloths. They are a quick knit and nice in the summer time but man are they boring after awhile. I've already got my next mindless knitting project ready to go in my knitting bag: Easy Worsted Weight Socks using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. I haven't made socks in over a year so this will be a nice change of pace.

Great news! After several measurements and calculations I found that I can be done knitting my lace scarf after 2 more pattern repeats! I can do that easy enough tonight but the big question will be IF I'll stop. The pattern is fun to knit and I will have plenty of yarn left over since it only calls for 330 yards and my hank is 440 yards. I was thinking that I plan to make 5 of these scarves in different colors and it might be cool if I took 3-4 leftover balls and make one funky scarf out of it. I'm not sure how that would turn out though.

I really want to get started on the next pattern variation (Glorianna) in one of my earth tone hanks but I promised myself to knit up a GAAA square first. All of those cables will be a nice break from the lace.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Buttons, Buttons & More Buttons

Last week I broke down and finally got rid of a bunch of stuff from our garage sale. Probably half donated, half trashed with a few items still listed on Craigs List. One amazing find was the stash of brand new buttons that my grandmother-in-law left behind (she's not dead - we just bought her house). She was an awesome seamstress. She made most of her clothes plus clothes for her 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren as they were growing up. I learned from my mother-in-law that she could not resist buying a beautiful set of buttons, even if she had no project in mind for them. She would buy the buttons first and then plan an outfit around the buttons. Very cool.

Anyway, I found many boxes and jars filled with these buttons. I consolidated them down into one grocery bag for easy storage.

Inside this bag is a gallon zip lock bag of all the loose buttons. I have no clue what to do with these but they are so cool to look at.

Maybe a fun kids project someday where they glue the buttons onto something? No clue but I'm keeping them. Now here's the best part - there's buttons that are actually cool looking and I can imagine them in a knitting project somewhere.

I've only used a button once for a baby cardigan but I think I have a good idea as to how these could be used in adult cardigans. I keep sorting through the bag and finding more and more that I could use in future projects. I find myself designing projects around the buttons, my grandmother-in-law would be so proud.

The colors on this one inspire me to make something with rose and brandy colors! All I can think of is cardigans - what else can I knit up and use my beautiful button stash?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Vacation from my Vacation

Wow - what a nice vacation! We took a road trip to look at some property for sale - we didn't buy it but it was a fun drive. We puttered around the house, got some major yard work done and spent some time at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. Here's a great shot that my husband took of one of the lions resting:

Don't you want to just reach out and scratch her behind the ears?!?! It's a nice zoo overall. It's a bit small but for comparison the last zoo I went to was in San Diego and that rocked. Here's Will pretending to be a penguin:

I was hoping to finish that lace scarf but it just didn't happen. I did get done 2 more dishcloths and started one more - very exciting stuff to blog about. I'm going to cast on a sock just to mix it up a little for tonight's knitting club get together.

The best part of vacation was spending a ton of time with The Big Guy. He is just our whole world and I can't get enough of him. I'm going through major withdrawal today after having a whole week with him. I know that daycare/school is good for him but man, Mondays suck.