Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Finally Flair!

I became a blogger because I loved meandering through the blogs of others. I wanted to see how a pattern I liked had turned out for somebody else, what yarn they used, what problems they had... I was looking for new ideas, new patterns, new techniques... and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the lives of the wide variety of interesting and creative knitters out there. Quite simply, I became a blogger because I wanted to be a part of this worldwide community.

However, being one who is easily distracted, I find myself posting about everything from rattlesnakes to basketball, from books to homeschooling, and, way too often, about plans, yarns, and patterns that I will most likely never knit.

Anyway, taking note of my lack of any completed knit as of late, I finally took some time today to sew the buttons onto Flair... finally. I should've blocked it first but I was so pleased with it and so excited to post a finished knit that I went straight for the photo shoot... unfortunately, good photographers are hard to find around here. Geesh! You'd think I was making them re-mop the entire kitchen every time I asked them to try again. So once I was finally convinced that only a photoshop upgrade was going to smooth out my complexion (horrible eye allergies have been preventing me from wearing make-up), I've settled for what you see. Just focus on the great sweater, not on the model please. The Blue Sky Cotton feels wonderful and the "swing" of Flair is way fun. I'm expecting this to be a well worn knit.

Flair by Wendy Bernard of Knit & Tonic
Blue Sky Cotton - Expresso - about 4 1/2 skeins
Size: Small
Modifications: I accidentally glanced at the medium pattern and cast on too many stitches under the arms but it seemed to work out well in the end.

In other news, my new summer wardrobe arrived in the mail today. I used a gift certificate I got for Christmas to order some Old Navy garb in their new summer colors. You might conclude from this that I'm a big fan of coral and purple... but I somehow just managed to overlook the lack of variety in my color selections. Oh well, I can throw this in a suitcase with my Costco bathing suits (hey, they were $21.99 a piece and fit... I couldn't pass up a major time/money saver like that) and be almost packed for Mexico (shudder).

I was trying to figure out why I'm not getting much knitting done lately, but the answer, in a word, is... baseball.

But I do love a boy in a uniform!

Well, I'm off tomorrow for a 3 day basketball tournament out of the area. It's the grand finale of our season. I'm only taking my oldest 2 boys and sharing a suite with my pal and her kids so it should be fun (and include some reading and knitting).

Now for the big decision... what knitting to take with me! Off to pack.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If a Knitter Buys Some Needles...

I went to the LYS today to pick up some size 1 dpns... just needles. Yeah, right. Actually, I've had many successful no-purchase trips to yarn shops in recent months (really!), I just don't blog about those. I mean how boring would that be... "I went to the LYS today and bought nothing." It's certainly not worth remembering or writing about... and surely no one would want to read about it either.

But today, right next to the needles, there was a rack of hand-knit sweaters and one in particular felt so nice. Very lightweight and summery for a sweater. Turns out it was knit of the oh-so-affordable Tahki Cotton Classic... and... they had a new pattern book on the table. Uh Oh.

It had several cute patterns...

I think the one on the left would be a great summer cardigan. I'm going to try it with some 2nd Time Cotton I have in my stash. My friend Julie is making a sweater for her daughter out of it right now and loves it. (You can see better pictures of these sweaters here.)

But here was the real catch...

Knit with 3/4 length sleeves, this is a way more practical option for me than a shawl... and in a neutral color will be a perfect match for any of my Old Navy t-shirts.

Ugh... temptation... what should I do? I turned to the other gals at the LYS for guidance. I explained that as much as I loved this sweater, I really, really didn't need another project or more yarn. Blank stares... "So? What does that have to do with it?" I love knitters.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Amazon Booty

Hello, my name is Tammy... and I'm addicted to knitting books.

Whether or not I ever actually knit a project within a book is fairly irrelevant because I'm content to gaze through the pages over and over admiring the fine work of the designers. There is inevitably one or two projects that go on my "must knit" list but actual knitting of said projects may or may not ever occur. I feel that the fact that I'm realistic about this now is great evidence of growth and wisdom on my part. Baby steps.

But clearly, with the speed and intensity with which I knit socks (I hear you laughing), the 2 new sock books above were essentials!

The first few pictures are from Interweave's Favorite Socks...

Actually, I really LOVE hand-knit socks. I wear them more than anything else I've knit and often think that I would be content to knit only socks. After all, the sock yarns available are so amazing... plus the patterns and options are endless. If you feel like knitting some lace, what's better than a small project like a sock to get it out of your system. (Things are out of my system pretty quick so I need to remember this.) Cables, ribbing, fair isle... same thing applies. And I'll tell you... after looking through these books, I want to just start knitting everything cover to cover!

And while colorwork in socks like you see here is unlikely to make it's way onto my needles, I sure do admire them!

The next group of pics are from More Sensational Knitted Socks and they are sensational. I think I actually ended up taking pictures of all the pages before I realized that might be overkill, but it was just all so good...

And again, this last group is unlikely... but sure makes me want to give it a shot!
I will say that the Amazon delivery today has motivated me to get knitting on my socks. I love the heel on these Diamond Lace Socks!

I also started a new Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton last night. If you enjoy mysteries humorously investigated by an overly curious and fairly tactless middle aged woman, I highly recommend this series.

BTW - I wanted to get the Friday Night Knitting Club because I know it's being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts so I figured it must be could... but now that I think about it, my reasoning here is probably a bit faulty so we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Diamonds and Babies

Only a little knitting recently... but how much better is this?!?!?

My dear friend Keri and her hubby were blessed with the arrival of an 11 lb (!) baby boy this weekend!

And she was ready for him... with a sweet hat she'd made from some sock yarn and the outfit below. The bolero is from One Skein and knit with Blue Sky Organic Cotton. The pants are from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. She cleverly used some simple Sugar & Cream Cotton so they only cost a couple of dollars and a couple of hours to make!

I did manage to get going on my No Sweat Socks from No Sheep For You at yesterday's basketball tournament. I'm using the recommended K1C2 Wick on 3 mm needles. They're quick and easy but I'm not sure about the results yet. The gauge is quite tight for this yarn and the result is on the thick side... but I'm not ready to give up. I think the end result will be great. We'll see.

I've actually been pretty faithful to Bonita lately... but I did add some diamond rounds to my Diamond Lace Socks this afternoon. This pattern is way addicting!

And finally, I had to throw in the gratuitous shot of me with the so sweet wee one.

Very snuggly he was... but NO, it doesn't make me want another!! I'll be a very content visitor.

Friday, March 23, 2007

How Blogging and Knitting Can Save the Day

Today was a difficult day... it was challenging, emotional, and draining. But I don't want to get into all that... because today I realized how being a knitter and blogger has made me a much more positive and resilient person. Really!

First of all, an unexpected friend in need landed DH & me at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey where, despite the circumstances, I was quick to recognize a photo opportunity.

Yeah, I know, his head is chopped off, but it's better than my other attempts.

And, I was sharp enough to jot down the address of A Mano Yarn in Venice before I left... just in case. As it turned out, when I was leaving (much later in the day than I expected) and typed the address in my Tom Tom, the shop was a mere 2 miles away!

A Mano was great... the people were very friendly and they had a great variety of yarns including ones I don't see much out here like Lorna's Laces, Socks that Rock, Blue Heron and Koigu. I chose the Koigu.

And I felt that my efforts had been well rewarded.

I was trying to capture the true color but couldn't quite get it. It's a beautiful bright spring green and I love it! It's designated for some Embossed Leaves sock as soon as my new IK sock book gets here. (You know, because I knit so many socks.)
So, instead of being miserable and wiped out... I'm only wiped out. A difficult day was saved by a bit of time with my DH on the marina and some new yarn. What a save!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bonita Progress and "Lost"

I haven't had much time to knit so I'm surprised at how fast Bonita seems to be going... especially considering the time I've spent with fixes.

See the mess up in the lace...

Cringe... these fixes stress me out...

But overall, I'm loving it. It feels great too. It's going to be a nice lightweight summer top.

By the way, do any of you watch Lost? They were starting to lose my interest last season but the twists and turns of late have me hooked again. What about John Locke's father?!? What do you think?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Actual Knitting Content

Back to Bonita... Crochet hook in hand, I began the crochet provisional cast-on. If you've ever done a crochet provisional cast-on of 222 stitches on size 2 needles then the rest of this post probably won't interest you. But it was new to me and took soooo much time that I just have to document it...

Let's start with the fact that I only have a vague idea of how to do a crochet chain. Out comes my Knitter's Companion and the crocheting begins...

I then had to pick up 222 stitches with my working yarn from these little bumps on the back side of the chain. Okay... I think... I would've taken a picture but I was so bug-eyed from pulling skinny cream cotton through a multi-colored crochet chain that it slipped my mind.

Then, after counting... and re-counting, I joined to - oh yeah more re-counting - knit in the round. It was at this point that I realized that I had one stitch too many so I neatly pulled one stitch off of what was apparently the wrong end because it started to unravel. There was no backing down on this one... it's not like I could just do the 2 hours of casting on again. So squinting under the Ott-Lite (did I mention my vision is rapidly deteriorating in my left eye making such tasks almost impossible) I managed to secure the end and knit.

So, 3+ hours after I had begun and being very careful "not to twist" when I joined, I had this...

Is it twisted? I don't think so but really, how could I know for sure?

Today... first chance I get after school work, I'm back to the task. I knit several rounds on the size 2s... looking good, no twist, a little reading. (BTW - I really like this yarn. I'm using the recommended Garnstudio Safran. Very smooth and easy on the hand for 100% cotton.)

Finally, I get to switch to size 4s, but now it gets scary. I have to remove the waste yarn and place the live stitches all 222 on another needle.

Now, I join the two for the hem...

I was fascinated by this whole process and couldn't put it down.
Tonight I got a chance to work some more...

Check out this hem. I love this hem.

Wrong side...

Right side...

Love. It.
I love the feel of it, the weight of it, the look of it...
It was tedious, painful, frightening, and way too time consuming, yet awesome in final form. Worth it? I'm not sure yet... but I'm telling you, I will never frog this hem. If the rest of the shirt doesn't work - but of course it must, it will! But if it doesn't, I will tear out the rest and forget it forever, but this hem... this hem I will hang on my wall as a work of art in it's own right!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Starting Bonita

After a successful trip to the LYS to help one of my new-knitter friends select yarn for the Mason-Dixon Nina Shawl, I popped a big frozen pasta casserole in the oven and decided to cast on for Bonita.

"With MC, crochet hook, waste yarn, and yada, yada, yada, use the provisional method to CO 222 sts." Wow, that's a lot of stitches... okay... crochet hook. I have at least three... where did they go? After checking all the usual places, I start digging in my knitting basket.

Let's see...

Labels from all the yarn I've used in the last, oh, who knows.

A missing tape measure, stitch markers and swatches (or, as I like to call them, evidence).

Pink yarn ready for February Valentine's Day socks (oops) and forgotten fingerless mitts that I could've totally used yesterday at baseball.

Oh boy! I'm not sure which I'm more pleased to find here...

But look! I could quite possibly take on the yarn with these Power Ranger weapons. Good find.

Aha! Finally... one of the three...

BEEP! Dinner's ready.

What's in your knitting basket??

Friday, March 16, 2007

Almost Perfect.

Ahhh... 3 hours at the local roller dome! This used to mean 3 hours of knitting while the big boys skated and JoJo climbed around the bleachers, painted in the craft room and indulged in the many snacks. This time, without his best bud KayKay to hang with, it meant 3 hours of tugging roller skates on and off JoJo and dragging him around the room. Eventually I realized that he had given up on trying to skate and had settled for flopping to the ground so I would catch him. Unfortunately by the time I figured this out, he had already gotten the best of my time... and my back.

Actually, this would've made a really cute picture but since I never got to open my knitting bag, well, the camera never made it out. But I do have these to show you...

The perfect buttons for Flair:

The perfect yarn for Tuscany... possibly... I only bought one ball to swatch but it is a cotton/silk blend that I can really imagine wrapping myself up in. (I would really love to knit this in a deep red but since that would drastically limit my Old Navy t-shirt options, I figure I should stick to a more practical brown.)

And Garnstudio Safran for the perfect summer top... Bonita from the Summer 2006 issue of Interweave Knits:

I have wanted to knit this top for almost a whole year... can you even believe my restraint?!? I would love to challenge Lynda to a race since she just started hers but I don't like to lose... and Lynda actually finishes the things she starts in a respectable amount of time.

Food for thought... If you buy new yarn and cast on within a week, it's technically not stash. Therefore, you are not stashing yarn, just simply ignoring the stash that you have which is clearly a much lesser offense than shamefully splurging on unnecessary new yarn. If it's on the needles, clearly you needed it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What Do Non-Knitters Think?

I realized this morning as I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room in my sweats, surrounded by more professional looking types, that there is no way to look professional or intellectual (sweats aside) while knitting the toe of a sock.

I know this shouldn't matter to me... and deep down inside, I don't want to give a hoot what anyone else is thinking. But I have always been considered more of a serious, intellectual type. Now I don't want you to confuse this term "intellectual" with intelligence or smarts, think more along the lines of, well, boring. I'm much more likely to discuss politics, religion or the fall of the Roman Empire than the niceties of life like weather, how to prune rose bushes, or where to get the best deal on linens... mainly because I not only don't know, but don't care. Which would really make the only distinction between what I do and don't discuss my level of interest... not my level of knowledge.

I realize that to a non-knitter, the thought of knitting a sock is pretty insane. Heck, I thought it was insane my whole first year of knitting... until I started buying sock yarn and wearing colorful handknit socks (and buying more sock yarn). Then I got it. But I want to not care that those around me think I'm weird. People thinking I'm a bit nuts I can deal with... they pretty much figure that out when they hear I have 5 boys... but there's a big difference between being a bit nuts and doing something that others consider weird.

Another observation... non-knitters really don't get the shawl/shawlette thing at all. Not at all. I know because of the blank stares I get when somebody asks me about Clementine. "That's nice... what are you making?" Me, stammering and stuttering, as I quickly realize there is no easy or acceptable answer: "Well it's a little shawl... a shawlette... like a shoulder wrap." And being one who is prone to stammer on, I'll add: "Kind of like a wide scarf... when I finish and block it, it will stretch and flatten out and be very lacy and pretty and I can wear it with a dress or a tank and it'll be great and keep my shoulders warm... and... and... it's Alpaca and Silk... yes, silk!" If I'm lucky, at some point the blank face changes shape enough to say "Oh."

"Oh" is right. I need to hang out with more knitters. But truth be told... I have much more interest in knitting a shawlette than actually wearing one and I'm aware that the whole shawl thingy is an area of much debate among knitters themselves so I guess hoping for understanding in the outside world is a bit unrealistic.

Anyway, all the baseball and doctor visits have yielded one finished Jaywalker (modelled with style by my pal Andee) and a completed pair of summery socks from Kaity's Self-Striping yarn. Also, I found an LYS with a great button selection which has motivated me to finish Flair asap as well. Yes, I'm needing some closure.

BTW - I've been knitting my socks with the magic loop method which I absolutely love. No gaps, no dropped/lost needles, and I can try them on whenever. Very fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yep - Baseball has Started

I want my boys to always know how much I love them... I want them to know that I will be there to support and encourage them in their endeavors... and if I ever seem less enthusiastic than I should, I apologize right now because it's not them. No, it's me and it's baseball... I really can't stand baseball. Period.

I have never been a big fan to begin with. I have always thought that 6 innings was plenty, pro pitchers should have a 30 second rule on releasing each pitch and beer should be cheaper. I really didn't think anything could be worse... but now I'm forced to endure 6 inning games that last for hours while eating soggy nachos from a snack shack that doesn't even sell beer. And I'm sorry, but unless my boy is at bat or fielding the ball, I'm just bored. There. I said it. I love my boys... I just can't stand baseball.

We had 2 games tonight (of the six total we will have between now and Saturday). Hubby was coaching the big boys so I went to the 9-10 yo game... which was, of course, at a different park. The snack shackless park... the parkless park... as usual. But hey, at least there was a ball for Dan the Man to kick around plus some dirt and a stick for JoJo. (Not to self: Remember the Game Boy next time.)

And look... if I squinted really hard I could see the Wy Guy waaaayyy out there. No not that kid... the one squatting behind him.
Yeah, way out there in right field. And just for the record, the kid is a stud, they would never have gotten creamed like they did if the coach had kept him at Shortstop. Just saying.

Of course, I had my socks with me... which only made me think about the STR yarn I had at home which would've matched my green tee and brown sweats so much better.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, I also need my boys to understand that I really can watch them play ball and knit at the same time... really.