Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy 13, Elizabeth

Elizabeth at the hospital
Thirteen years ago today, around noon to be exact, my husband and I were blessed with a baby girl. The time has gone by quickly. I know every parent says this, but it really is true. Now, my girl stands eye to eye with me, she is already 5' 5 1/2" tall, to my 5' 6". Thirteen is quite a milestone, now she is a teenager, no longer a preteen or a kid.

I can remember working on Elizabeth's baby blanket and wondering if I would have it done before she was born. As it turned out, there were no worries, she was overdue by 9 days, so I had plenty of time to get it done. It was crocheted in a variegated yarn of pink, blue and white on a bias with a shell stitch around the perimeter. She used it a lot in the beginning, particularly because it was winter.
Less than a month to go

I always enjoy looking back at these pictures and the knitting and crochet projects that I was working on back then. Maybe someday I will be making blankets and sweaters for my own grandchildren.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Its All About Perspective

Today I was driving down the highway to visit two different suppliers in the Grand Rapids area. The roads were really wet this morning and I was using my wipers to clear up the water that was getting splashed up from the cars and trucks around me. Suddenly, I realized it was raining. At first I felt a little grumbly, yuck rain. And then I thought, if it is raining, it has to be above freezing (finally). Let me preface that statement by noting on Saturday it was -7 degrees (and that is Fahrenheit for those wondering) with a windchill that made it much colder. I could not stand being out without a hat on. Today, I actually unzipped my down jacket on the way back into the office because it felt warm! Isn't that bizarre how what would be freezing cold in the summer is warm (at least in Holland) in the dead of winter?

Much of life is like the story above. For example, the first time one knits with double pointed needles. Its a little crazy, slow and disjointed. After a while, it is just like regular knitting and you don't give it a second thought. Or, you have a project that seems like it is taking forever to complete. The next thing you know, you are done with it and onto the next project. Its all about perspective. I have to keep reminding myself of this very fact as I am working on my current project. It seems like it is taking a long time to complete, but I have to remind myself that I don't get a chance to knit every day (even though I would like to). I have 10 1/2" completed on the left front of the ruby ribbed vest now, only 5" to go until I reach the shaping, so not too much farther now.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

New England Knits

Ever since the book New England Knits by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre came out, I have been dying to have it.  The first time I actually touched it was at my LYS, Lizzie Ann's. I flipped through it reverently, admiring the beautiful pictures both of the knitting and the scenery. The cover cost is $24.95 and me being a deal watcher, I waited and waited as patiently as I have the ability to wait. Finally, I saw it come on sale in Knit Picks book sale. It was down to $14.97. I had page 27 in the Jan/Feb 2011 catalog earmarked. I was going to make the purchase over the weekend. First, I took the kids to the local library and sent them upstairs to the children's section to get books, CDs for the van and DVDs to watch. I browsed in the 7 day books section and didn't see anything that held my interest. I continued on to the new books section and lo and behold, a shiny new copy of New England Knits stood. Whoo hoo! I whispered to myself (I was in a library after all). I quickly snatched it up and put it in my library bag. It was my lucky day.

I have been through it now 3 times and I still enjoy looking at it. There are a combination of patterns all geared towards women. There are no men or children patterns, but a nice range of size options available for knitters to choose from in garments. In addition, there were a few accessories. Charts are included as well as schematics depicting measurements for the finished object. While I love all of the patterns, some of my favorites are the Hampton cardigan, Ashfield cardigan, Brattleboro hat and Montague bulky lace vest. These are definitely going into my knitting queue for future projects. I highly recommend this book of patterns to all knitters.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Tweed is Next


Today was the day. Today I took my 3 gift certificates and went over to Lizzie Ann's to shop. I knew I had to get more yarn for the ruby ribbed vest, I only have 2 balls left and I am barely started on the front. I grabbed 4 more balls, hopefully that will be enough. I also found a really cool button for my vest. It is black with a spiral pattern about 2" in diameter. I think it will look very sharp. Then I started looking around for yarn for my next project. My husband is going to be the recipient of my next project. I found a great looking pattern in the November issue of Creative Knitting.  It is called a Men's Ladder Rib Vest by Edie Eckman.I looked around for a yarn that would be masculine looking, not too heavy or fluffy or shiny. Men are very picky. Especially mine. I finally settled on a yarn by Tahki Stacy Charles. It is called New Tweed and it is a combination merino wool, silk and viscose. I originally was thinking about an oatmeal color, but I eventually settled on the dark gray. I love the color and I hope he loves it just as much.

I finished the back of the ruby ribbed vest during my trip to Columbus and I have now started on the left front. I only have about 5" done on the front so far and won't have any shaping until 15" are complete......so 10" to go. It is a little faster going since there are only 130 stitches as opposed to the back with 178. I just need to stay focused. I am thinking about doing a crochet trim around the edges as I am not certain I like the unfinished look of the ribbed edging. We will see.




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Friday, January 21, 2011

Will Knitting for the Wii Sell?

I was sitting on my "spot" on the couch, if you knit, you know what I mean, that special place that you always go to sit down and knit. You have space to keep your patterns and stitch counter and tape measure and various other tools next to you for usage at a moments notice.

My spot happens to be in our family room. My son came into the room and turned on the television and the Wii. He played a game for the few minutes, I think it was Super Mario Galaxy, and then he asked me if I wanted to play. I told him no thanks, I was knitting. He sighed, clearly disappointed and not understanding how I could enjoy two sticks and a ball of yarn more than Mario. I tried to explain to him that I don't have a lot of time available to knit, so I squeeze it in wherever I can.

He wondered if there was a knitting game for the Wii if I would play? I had to think about that for a minute.....what would be the concept? Who can knit the fastest? Who can cast on the most stitches in a minute? As I further speculated on this, I thought, who would buy this game? Can you picture 60 year old ladies getting together to beat each other at knitting? And that was when it suddenly came to me, the real reason why this would not work. Knitting is not about competition against others, its about getting together and helping each other, sharing in your successes and even your failures.

So, I am guessing Nintendo will not be rolling out Knitting for the Wii in 2011 or any future years, but it was fun to ponder.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Waiting Isn't Always a Bad Thing

While many people cringe when they hear that they are going to have to wait, knitters are excited. During down times, we can knit. The doctor, the dentist, the orthodontist, the airport, all are great opportunities to be productive and get a little be farther on that project. That was why I was looking forward to my latest trip to Columbus, OH.

Columbus is about 5 3/4 away from home via car. That is over 10 hours of knitting!! Unless you are flying to Europe or Asia or some other far away country, it is very difficult (at least in my life) to get over 10 hours of knitting in at one time. So, I hop in the back seat with my co workers in the front. If we get backed up in traffic, who cares, I've got my knitting! I did make certain to take extra yarn with me just in case. Yesterday I finished the back of the ruby ribbed vest and have started on the left front. I am feeling much more energized about the project, I think it is the sense of accomplishment that at least some of it is completed. The other positive was that I switched from my bamboo circular needles to my aluminum ones. There was a kink in the cable of the bamboo needles and I simply could not get it out. It was driving me batty, so I finally got up and switched. Much smoother going.

I got a little heckling from my co workers last night. They asked if I wanted to stop at Jo Ann's on the way back from the Olive Garden restaurant after dinner. Laugh all you want, I am knitting and loving it.


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Monday, January 17, 2011

Miles of Ribbing to Go

Still chipping away at the ruby ribbed vest and it feels like it is taking forever.....maybe I am just getting antsy, but the miles of ribbing seems to go really slow. Don't get me wrong, it is very relaxing to end the day with an hour of k2 p2, but the progress just isn't there.

I am four balls into the project and I am going to be short yarn, I am fairly certain, since I only purchased six balls. Not that I am disappointed about having to go back to my LYS, I just don't like running short in the middle of a project. The whole dye lot thing.

Tomorrow my daughter has a doctor appointment, which could work to my advantage, I might be able to finish the back by the end of the day and get started on the front. That transition just might help motivate me to keep going.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Kiddos

Today we had family over to celebrate my kid's birthdays. Elizabeth will be 13 and Dan will be 9. Boy how the time does fly. I remember them being little babies and now they are getting quite independent. They had a great time, how can you not at that age when you are getting gifts?

Cool , more Legos
I made Jell-O cake for them per Elizabeth's request. I had never made it before (I know, you are thinking what???) so I bake the cake and poke the holes and make the Jell-O. Everything is going okay. Then I pour the Jell-O over the cake and it looks like I am making a Jell-O salad with a cake in the middle. I was a little a lot totally freaked out. Everyone was in bed, but I was tempted to wake up my husband to ask him if I should drain off some of the Jell-O. I looked back at the directions, it said to use it all. So I threw it in the fridge and went to bed. Plan B, if this didn't work, I would stop by Meijer's in the morning and pick up a cake from the bakery. My kids might not care if the cake was a flop, but I didn't want to mess up in front of my family......I peeked in the fridge in the morning and the Jell-O had all soaked into the cake, just as my husband had assured me. Yeah! I covered it with Cool-Whip and called it good.

 I kept the cats in the basement during lunch so they would not make pests of themselves, but the kids let them up and chased them around and got them generally riled up. Georgie was pretty tired out after everyone left, so he curled up on my recliner with me. I caught him mid yawn.....check out those teeth! I laugh every time I look at this picture. He almost looks mad or like he is yelling.

Well, off to knit for a couple of hours and relax, that ruby ribbed vest won't knit itself.


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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Rid of the Baggy Last Stitch When Casting Off

I am always looking for helpful tips for knitting. There are plenty of people in the world who have more experience than me, so why recreate the wheel?

Jane Crowfoot, the author of All Stitched Up, provides a great idea to help resolve that baggy last stitch when you are casting off. You know what I mean, you cast all of the stitches off, excited about the home stretch and then you get to the last stitch and it is just huge. If you just draw the yarn through it, you get a weird looking ending. Not a huge deal if you are going to seam your pieces together, but if the end is visible, a nice clean finish is desired.

Jane tells us to cast off all of the stitches until we get to the last stitch, just like normal. Using the left needle, pick up the stitch directly under the last. Transfer the last stitch that is on your right needle back to the left needle and knit the two stitches together. Voila!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is He Sweater Worthy?

sweater - clothes for winterImage via Wikipedia
There is a huge topic of debate among knitters.


When is it the right time to knit something for your man? 

Knitting sisters around the world talk about "the sweater curse."  The sweater curse occurs when a knitter gives a sweater to her man and in a short amount of time, he breaks up with her. According to wikipedia, the curse is simply superstition or can be chalked up to bad timing. So how come its gets so much press? Is it fun to talk about? Judith Durant, founding editor of Interweave Knits magazine, used the topic of the sweater curse to come up with a knitting book titled: Never Knit Your Man a Sweater (unless you've got the ring).  Her recommendation is to stick with something nonthreatening like a scarf. At least until you are engaged.

I've never had this happen to me, but then again, I have never knit anything for any of my boyfriends. My husband of 16 years still hasn't received a sweater. Am I superstitious? Not really. Maybe I will get started on a sweater for him after I finish my ruby ribbed vest.

Has the sweater curse ever happened to you?
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bejeweled Headband

Sparkle on even the darkest winter days with the Bejeweled Head Band. A super quick and easy knit that does not even require you to purl.


Size: 7" x 22"

Yarn:
Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick, cranberry - 1 ball

Supplies:
US Size 13/Metric 9mm needles
US Size I crochet hook
Needle and thread
Glue gun and glue stick

Notions:
One button
Sparkly pin

Cartridge Belt Rib Pattern:
See Chart Below

Headband
Cast on 9 stitches. Work one repeat of chart pattern. Headband should measure 5 1/2" at this point.

Repeat rows 22 and 23 from chart until headband measures 16", end on an even row.

Start decrease section by following the chart from the top down and at the beginning of every odd row, slip, slip, knit (decrease) and at the end of every odd row knit 2 together (decrease). Stop decreasing when you are back to 9 stitches. Work 7 rows following the chart, end on an even row. Knit 4, bind off 2 stitches, knit 3 to create buttonhole. Next row, knit 4, cast on 2 stitches, knit 3. Knit one more row. Bind off.

Crochet Trim
Starting at buttonhole end, single crochet around headband, slip stitch in first single crochet and cut yarn.

Finishing
Weave in all ends. Sew button opposite of buttonhole. With glue gun, glue pin into location.





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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ice Carvings

We got about 12 inches of snow until it stopped sometime in the early hours of Saturday. I can't believe how beautiful it looks first thing in the morning before anything has touched it. Here is a shot looking out my slider onto my deck. Pretty neat, huh?

So what will bring hundreds of people to downtown Holland, MI on a 17 degree winter day besides something free? Friday and Saturday was the annual Downtown Holland Ice Sculpting Competition. While the retail shops may or may not have done great business, the coffee shops were definitely in high demand. My fingers were throbbing by the time we walked one block. I was wearing leather gloves, and was wishing for a pair of hand knit mittens! The sculptures were beautiful, typical themes were animals from the sea, like sharks, dolphins and fish, but there were a few unusual items like a squirrel with a fluffy tail. It was great to see so many locals out and enjoying the event. Here are a few sculpture photos:

Hammerhead Shark

Butterfly

Squirrel

Fish
 The weather was perfect for the event, although a little cold for my liking. Hopefully the 2012 event will have just as great weather and turnout.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Years Resolution - Charity Knitting

To follow up on my New Year's Resolutions, I noted that I wanted to do more to help others. What better way than to donate your knitting to charity? I researched different charities and I have come up with my charity for 2011. It will be Project Linus which is a non-profit organization with a two-fold mission.

  1. Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers”. 
  2. Provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children. I plan on supporting the Ottawa-Kent Chapter of Project Linus this year.
Follow me on my journey this year and lets see how many blankets I can provide to benefit needy children right in this area. If you want to know more information about this great cause, please click on the links above.

Make a difference with a blanket.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm Feeling a Little Loopy

Got home a little late today from work, just itching to knit, but first things first (food). I have finished up my latest project, A Little Loopy Headband and I must say, I love it.

I was a little intimidated by the trendiness of it (I am not trendy) but it is fun and the flower is cute and not in a 9 year old way, if you know what I mean? Maybe charming or quaint is a better description, but heck, who cares, I have a headband.

Conveniently enough, we are supposed to get 12" of snow overnight in Holland, as well as more snow on Friday and Saturday, so it looks like I might even get an opportunity to wear it, whoo hoo!

I have succumbed to a cold, and my cold meds are making me feel a little loopy. Or maybe its just the headband?

Boucle Hides a Lot of Sins

A friend of mine at work mentioned in a mysterious voice that she had something and bet I could make it. I was intrigued and headed over to her office. She pulled out one of those ribbed head wraps with a flower on it that buttons in the back. You have probably seen them, they have been pretty popular as of late (unless you live in a really warm climate, which I don't). She asked me how it was made (it was knitted), what stitch it was (ribbing) and how the flower was made (crochet). We chatted for a few more minutes and then I headed back to my office.

That night, I searched around on Ravelry and I found a pattern for a head wrap called Morning Walk Headband Earwarmer. It was really cute. AND, it looked really easy. Sometimes you just need one of those type of projects, you know? So, I dug around in my stash and I came up with some dark red boucle. Hey, I haven't seen this in awhile......so I cast on 7 stitches and started merrily knitting along. I determined even before I started that I would not have to do ribbing, since you couldn't see it anyway. And I could do my increases and decreases however I wanted, since you can't tell. I can't wait to get this finished and try it out. Pictures will be following soon!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oh The Possibilities!


I don't think I mentioned my Christmas gift......3 gift certificates to my LYS, Lizzie Ann's Wool Company. 3!! I am so psyched (if you can't tell).  AND, I got a 10% off coupon from my last shopping excursion when I picked up the Teva Durham Moss yarn for the Ruby Ribbed Vest.

I was on the phone with my mom the other day and she was teasing me about shopping for more yarn. But, I haven't gone yet. I know, you are thinking, what are you waiting for? Well, time for one, I like to shop non rushed and two I also prefer to go sans children and husband, if you know what I mean? I have been deliberating about my potential purchase for over a week now. Should I buy some of that beaded yarn from Art Yarns? Should I get some more kettle dyed Malabrigo worsted? I did love that on my Lettuce Sweater. Or, should I go for some cashmere? I have never knit with cashmere, but have always wanted to, I just could not justify the cost. Oh the endless possibilities......

So, if you had 3 gift certificates to your LYS, what would you pick?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Really, I Can Follow Directions

I find the easiest pattern in the Ravelry library, a hand towel. Easy peasy. Beginner can do it, right? Well, I bungled it big time. Here I am groaning about how the stockinette makes the towel curl. "I am going to change my next one to eliminate this curl," I think to myself. Then I review the directions more closely.....I missed the first step, the edge trim, which is (you guessed it) garter stitch. Doh! Well, since we can't have a curly towel, I picked up the 90 stitches at the bottom and added 4 rows in garter. TA-DA! Worked like a charm.




"If at first you don't succeed, try reading the directions!"

Where is the Knitting?

I was sitting and mentally cashing out while knitting on my Ruby Ribbed Vest (it has a cool ring to it, no?) when I got the itch to look at my library books, which were still sitting on the family room floor in their bag. I had picked up about 8 knitting books, simply because I like to see what other people are doing. It gives me ideas what to make next, what to possibly design in the future and what probably won't look to good on me (if it looks snug on a skinny model for example it will look like a sausage casing on me). So, I am flipping thru this book by Judith McLeod-Odell called Heirloom Knits. It is a beautiful collection of patterns from 1820 designs thru 2010. Lots of really cool ideas sprang into my head. And then I stopped for a moment. There were bedspreads and pillows and rugs. I looked around my house. The only way you could tell there was a knitter in the house was the totes of yarn. There were no rugs or pillows or afghans. This really opened my eyes to the fact that I have been really focused on clothing in 2010. Granted, there is nothing wrong with hand knit clothing, but I want to branch out to make my house a knitters home. Also, as I noted in my resolutions for 2011, I want to gift more of my knitting this year. So, I got up, went to the den, fired up my computer and went to my well spring of patterns (Ravelry) and found a pattern for a hand towel, which I have affectionately named Not Your Grandmother's Cotton Towel. Pictures will be coming later today.


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