Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A whole bunch of nothing going on

A small amount of progress on these ugly gloves. Not even sure what'll come of the other one, but I am strangely desirous of finishing the pair. You never know, I might end up wearing them on my morning walk to the coffee shop.

It's been a crazy week around our house. Just today was spent rushing from one place to another. I had a lunch meeting, went to it and politely turned my phone to vibrate. During the presentations the phone was taking several calls from the school nurse, telling me to come get Big Brother, he was in severe pain. I got the messages when the meeting broke up, I called, said I was on the way, called for an appointment at the doctor's office, where he was double booked and they said they'd work us in. (No knitting with me either, shoot.) When I got to the school and picked up Big Brother, he was back in class and pretty much fine, a little stiffness in his back. He said it was hurting and since it is a bit of a drive I brought him home anyway. I cancelled the appointment though, because he seems just fine. I think he may have resorted to his "I don't feel well acting" for the nurse's benefit.

The school nurse hates me because Big brother was quite the actor as a younger kid and unfortunately about 3 weeks into his 5th grade year, at this school, which was a new one for him, he broke his arm. This being the third time I had received a call from a school nurse telling me he thought he broke his arm, I told her I would just get there when I got there. (And I took my sweet time, even went to the grocery to pick up a few things.) She never had met me before, and said, I don't know, it looks pretty bad. Of course, turned out it was a bad break and now she thinks I ignore cries of pain from my kids. No real way to explain that quite the opposite is true. I spend plenty of time at the doctor's office taking care of their aches and pains and general maintenance.

I got Angele Parlange's book Creole Thrift for Christmas and I have been finding a few minutes here and there to read through it the last week or so. I think she's pretty fabulous, she does the best job of using her sense of humor to reinterpret overly expensive decorating ideas. Plus the book is rich with New Orleans beauty. Always a plus for me. Looking through it is another reminder that I seriously need to get myself back in a working state of mind. Hubby Mark is supposed to get me cabinets installed in the laundry room tomorrow so I can finally clear up my working space. I am hoping for shelves too, but not holding my breath over that one. It is good to be married to a handy guy except when he's got as much to do as Mark. My list is growing daily. Poor guy.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Knitting Gloves

I have everything all ready to start a striped sweater but decided I wanted something small and easily portable to work on for a bit. I bought the red white and blue sock yarn last week and knitted up a swatch and decided I really needed fingerless gloves. And boy are they ugly. I should have put thought into the color repeats, because they are really funny looking. And I am working without a pattern, so I hope they are even slightly usefull when they are finished. There's a chance I will rip them back if they are just too silly, but at this point I am forging ahead. Big Brother says "at least no one will steal them". Mark says they are knitting gloves, since there are no fingers. Gloves I can knit in. Maybe that's why I am still finishing them.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Every Girl Needs Some Glitter

I had some time to kill yesterday afternoon so I wanted to go by the yarn shop around the corner to see what goodies they might have. I was looking through their DPN's and found some fun stuff. Tiny size 1's, size 10's and these... disco addi DPN's. Seriously, I have never seen anything like them. Talk about a sucker for something shiny.

Can you see the glitter in there? PeeWee loves them. Big Brother may start knitting again if I let him use them. He thinks they are pretty cool too. They make the knitting go pretty quickly, you just stare at them instead of anyting else. Slightly hypnotic. I whipped out a swatch with them in about a minute, or it seemed like a minute.

As much as I would like to finish this top, I am putting it aside for a week or so. I have to do something good with the sleeves. I tried it on and it needs sleeves. I was thinking short sleeves, but Mark says I should try to get longer sleeves, 3/4 length. Or even long sleeves, if there's enough yarn. I agree, because it fits like a sweater, not a t-shirt. And there isn't a color change halfway through like the picture shows. It's all one lot of yarn, the picture has a funny color change and it is showing the top to have a giant color change in the middle.

The scoop neck is not quite a scoop, but I am happy with the way it fits my neck. I don't like tight necks, they bug me. Any tight clothes bug me. The curled up bottom edge also lays flat when it is on. And the style, although it looks boxy, really does skim my body. I am going to go ahead and use the same pattern for the new sweater I am planning now.

I hate to sew by hand, I always have. I have had sewing projects languish for years because there was a step that had to be done by hand and I was never in the mood. So when I got the zipper for the hoodie pinned in place I was feeling good. Mark took PeeWee to go see his parents and I figured it couldn't sit around this house for long still pinned together, so I took the plunge and put the zipper in. Finished. Very pleased with myself on that one, especially since I had to stop half way through, only one side sewn. It took a major plunge to pick up the needle and thread and do the second half.

New project for ME! This is clearly the year for selfish knitting. And I am liking it. I have never made things for myself other than socks. Or never FINISHED things for myself except socks. And I usually finish socks just so I can get the needles to start another pair of socks. But a hoodie and the body of a sweater? Kind of fun to finish things just for me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Disaster averted

I laid out my knitting carefully, had camera in hand and was ready to shoot a picture when, darn it, the camera battery was dead. Went to get a backup and since I only turned my eyes away for 3 seconds, you can bet PeeWee got her hands on my knitting. The giant gasp I practically yelled out scared her half to death and she stopped pulling out the needle just before the end. She stepped back, clearly knowing she had made a mistake and stayed away long enough for me to slide the stitches back onto the needle. If you look closely you can see the only stitches actually on the needle are the last 10 or so. ::sigh:: Did I mention how glad I am she didn't get ahold of it after she pulled the stitches off? This yarn just wants to unknit itself.

I stuffed the stitches back on the needle so tightly it's rediculous, layed the top out not quite as neatly as before and got a picture as fast as I could. Almost not fast enough, you can see she's rolling it up along the edge. She just can't wait to get her mitts on it.

Hard to tell with such a fabulous photo, but I have almost completed the back. I decided to go with a scoop-neck shell instead of a t-shirt. I have no idea yet how I am going to do the front, but hopefully it'll be to my liking when it's all done. The edge ribbing is curling in on itself in a way I am not happy with, so I may rip it out and knit down another edging. I hope it'll block nicely instead because I like the look of the 2x2 rib.

Tonight is date night, but I'm on my own. Mark is taking Big Brother to an all ages concert. You couldn't pay me to do that. Maybe I shouldn't actually admit it out loud though. I am sure they will have fun. It starts at 6 since it's a week night. No idea what bands are playing even. I think I'm going to go to the bookstore then dinner with a friend. Looking forward to it. I need to escape this house.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

feeling my age

Last night PeeWee decided to stay up all night. No fussing, no whining, just decided to stay up all night. At 3:20 I told Mark I couldn't take the singing and the wiggling and moving around she was doing in our bed (long story, she's in there until we patch up the giant hole from the plumber) He brought her downstairs and he fell asleep on the couch until I came down at 7am, woken by her dropping her big tub of blocks on the stone floor. It was a big loud crash, and I, unfortunately, once woken have a very hard time falling back asleep. She has been incredibly pleasant for being up the entire night. More pleasant than I would be. She took a quick nap this afternoon. I threw her in the car after she flat out refused to even pretend to sleep earlier. Of course, I am feeling it now that I've been up for this long with this little sleep.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I can talk about my knitting.

I have been told that if you just work on one project, you actually finish it. I am hoping to stick to that concept this year. It worked with the hoodie. And it seems to be working so far with the t-shirt. Yes, it seems I have enough yarn to make a t-shirt, not a vest. That means I will get more wear out of it I think. Of course, when I get to the point of deciding about sleeves or not, I'll see how I like the way it is turning out. I need to see how the sleeves look when I start them. Then I will decide if it will have them or not.

Whoa! I think my lack of sleep is showing, I am rambling on here...

Anyway, my point was that I have made much more progress then I would have thought so far by just sticking to the one project. I like it. I am about 11 1/2 inches up the body at this point. When I get to 15 1/2, I'll divide for the sleeves (or vest). Normally by now with a project I would be bored, starting a new swatch, buying more yarn, any number of things to distract myself from the plain old stockinette tube I am knitting. Knowing it's all going to be done within the week is helping me just forge ahead. Old dogs CAN be taught new tricks!

I have also been quite good at sticking to my scheduled exercise. It goes by quickly and I enjoy it. There are a good group of women there when I go. Plus, I got all my lab work back from my physical and everything looks good. I will be the picture of health when these extra pounds drop off! So far I have lost 3 1/2. Just a tiny dent in my overall goal, but at least it's a start.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What's in the bag?

I did not knit yesterday.

I had too many real life daily things to deal with. Big Brother was sick so he stayed home from school, napping on the couch all day because the plumber finally came to finish up fixing the leak. I think I called a month ago. He came the day before and showed me the completely funky way the drain was stopped up when this house was raised in 1957 and what was once the kitchen became a bedroom. A hole was still there where the drain pipe tapped into the wall. They put a piece of wood in there. Something stopped up the drain down the line and the resulting pressure in the drain pipes blew out the little circle of wood. What do you say to that? Seriously, therre's nothing you can do except just look at the open drain hole coming out of the wall and say "huh". You can't even wonder what they were thinking. All you do is say, "well, I guess this is where the kitchen sink was" and let the plumber repair it the right way. Turned out there was a secondary leak and he fixed that as well. Glad he finally made it here. Plumbers in this town are worth their weight in gold.

PeeWee decided she really likes my new bag. It was a gift from my parents and it is perfect. It has a ton of space but isn't bulky at all. It also has nice little pockets inside for all my goodies, knitting and otherwise. It's full of my new project, all the balls of yarn, needles, and the pattern. She keeps slinging it over her shoulder and walking around the house with it.

And yes, she chose that fine outfit herself. Gotta love a two year old's sense of style.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sweater weather

Yesterday it was both very cold and very damp. Normally I wouldn't venture out too far on days with nasty miserable weather but I promised a friend of almost 20 years a birthday lunch so I piled on the layers and went out into the world. The steady drizzle inspired me to wear the finished hoodie, even though it really isn't finished. It needs a zipper, but it worked just great under the raincoat and on top of the other two layers I had on. I had on three handknit pieces yesterday. Normally I probably wouldn't wear so many at once, but I wanted to be warm.

The bonus is I may have talked my friend into learning to knit. He kept saying how cool it was I could knit a hoodie and wear it. He had on some fingerless gloves made for him with little mini-cables. They are pretty cool. He got a hat with "hair" on it for his birthday from yet another friend. He was telling me how if he knit he would make silly and rediculous things and I told him he must learn. My nephew wants to learn and Big Brother can do it but needs a refresher course. I am thinking we may have a man-can-knit day around here.

Since I finished a bunch of swatches, I was ready for my next project. (Thinking ahead pays off- yes!) I started working with some of my bargain yarn I snatched up the other day. I am going to make a top out of it. I did a few rows of 2x2 ribbing and started working in the round. I figured it took a ball to go up 2 1/2 inches so I am not sure what kind of top this is going to turn out to actually be. I need to do a little figuring. I hope I have enough for short-sleeves, but I'll make myself a vest like tank-top if that's what I have enough for. Another reason to keep going to the gym.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Take two

So, I am now making actual progress on the hoodie. A few hiccups along the way. Definitely learned a lesson or two. This pattern is kind of neat. You knit the body, either in the round or back and forth as a cardigan (my choice). Then you knit the sleeves in the round. You cast off a few stitches for the underarm on all the pieces, line it all up and knit across. You create the raglan sleeves by decreasing in four places around the sweater. No seams except a few stitches under the arm. I have never been a great raglan aweater fan, but this knits up so quickly, the front and back at the same time, sleeves before you have to finish the front and back, and then fun decreases just when you are getting bored. Perfect for me.

For some reason this picture makes this sweater look really small. It's not. It's my sized. You can see the sleeves are actually attached here, in the other picture ou can see it is the first row after connecting the whole thing. The sleeves are hanging on there. This pattern is taken from Anne Budd's sweater book. It is a great reference for me. You have to do a little math, because with the 8 jillion different combinations, there were a few sizes not knitted. I had sleeves for the koolaid sweater with big problems. This gauge sweater isn't in the book, so I had to figure the number of stitches and use that pattern. So far it's working just right, with a minor sleeve change. The yoke will have a few adjustments, mainly when to start the neckline. And the hood for the hoodie? I guess I am going to have to wing it. I will measure one in my closet and just figure out the math as I go.

Speaking of my sized, I joined the gym and have been going as I planned! That's a huge thing for me, I have never been much of a working out kind of girl. I have joined many a gym and not even gone back even after hiring a trainer (way too much wasted money on gyms, kind of embarrassing) but for some reason I want to go, so I am. And I never make resolutions until my birthday, so this is just something I started. So, hopefully my sized will be a little toner as the year goes on. Or at the very least I will be healthier for the effort. I'll let you know. The gym takes measurements and weight the same day each month so it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Friday, January 12, 2007

gauge rage

When you learn to knit beyond a scarf, you have to start paying attention to gauge. There's no real way around it if you are planning on having something to wear when you are finished. So I do gauge swatches, lots of them. I like doing them now, and I have a drawer full of trivets for my kitchen. Even a few potholders. I am not entirely sure why, but I had a bunch of swatches, and decided to just felt them. It works. Otherwise what am I going to do with them? I rip a lot of them out and use the yarn when I am happy with the results, but for something I need to actually wash to get the real gauge (another lesson learned with some unwearable clothes) I keep them around as long as I need them. Then I throw the unwashable ones in the washer and have another "Sarah" thing for the house.

I have never heard anyone go on and on in the same way about checking needle size. Well, let me. I have found from my newest mistake, that this is also an important part of knitting.

Some might say it is the same as checking gauge, but, sadly it is not. All my ranting and raving about not having the entire set (one does not count as a set no matter how you try to figure it) of my size 13 DPN's, I went out and bought 2 size 13 circular needles. (I also stumbled upon some really nice wool and some cotton yarn with actual give for $1.50 a ball and snatched it all up.) I like using 2 circular needles with PeeWee around. She's like a magpie except she's attracted to needles and DPN's are dangerous when she's around, she'll slip them right out of your work before you even realize what she's got in mind. Then you have to fight her to get them back. So 2 circ's for me when it's possible.

Then, if you remember, I loaded up a great big bag to go to the doctor's office for my (not quite) marathon knitting. I can't tell you how glad I am that there was no wait. Seriously. I knit the sweater body with 15's. So all my frantic searching for the right DPN's was, shall we say, unnecessary? Yes, I will admit I had no idea I was knitting with such huge needles. I am not sure if you can see it here, but the stitches were very tight on that sleeve. I kept thinking it. I even got out my needle sizing tool and double checked the size of the needles I was using. Because you know they HAD to be mismarked. I even checked the needles I was using. And wanted to bury my head in the sand. Because there was no conspiracy, just personal stupidity. Ay yi yi...

Well, like I said, it could have been worse, there could have actually been knitting time the other day. And please don't ask me how I didn't notice until at the elbow how stiff the fabric was- it might have stood up on it's own if I tried. It was then I thought about gauge, and kept wondering if I was in a bad mood, or tense, or, geez, do I really knit that much tighter in the round? None of the above. I just don't pay attention all the time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hey, there's a floor under there!

I spent a little time this morning cleaning out my studio space. It had gotten particularly bad. Over run with debris piles, photos in containers waiting to be put in books, yarn all over the floor, the tables, up on the shelves, spillling out all over the room. Generally messy, and not at all a good work space.

I got a lot of it organized and contained, resorted. A big bag of yarn to send off to a friend who's daughter is a knitter. Some other odds and ends to donate to the school near us. Stuff that's been in the way for entirely too long. I have been much more precise in my yarn purchases in the last few months. I am trying to rid my space of anything that's not destined for a specific project. Sounds brutal, but I need both the clean space and the clean mind. No more guilt about having yarn around that I have no reason to keep. It feels like a huge space now. And if we get another rain where water seeps in the laundryroom, I'll be covered. Things will be up off the floor and it'll be easier to dry things out. Last time, I panicked and the whole room was dragged out into the hallway. Part of the huge mess was dragging it all back in there for Christmas, completely with no order.

All the other studio stuff is pretty much disorganized too. I'm working on it, I need to have a space to work in the next few weeks. I have committed to a piece to donate to an auction, and that's coming up in about 10 weeks. I have it in my head though so that's a start. It's a New Orleans themed thing and I am planning on collageing (is that a word? looks wrong...) a New Orleans shot-gun house. Hope it turns out worth while! (meaning someone actually bids on it)

I went to the doctor today for a checkup, figuring I would have a long wait, and possibly a few other tests. I packed up my new bag with a couple balls of yarn, my needles, the pattern, and scissors, everything I needed for the long haul. I waited just 15 minutes to get in! That is definitely a first for a doctor's appointment, and wouldn't you know that was the time I set aside to work on the sleeves for the hoodie? Well, I didn't get but a few rows done. But they are going as quickly as the rest of it. Bulky yarn is good for quick.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

click, click, click

Working away on my hoodie today, but I have to stop for now until I get to the yarn store. Stupid me, I lost the DPN's I need for the sleeve! Argh. Oh well, Big Brother's friend said I was going to end up with carpal tunnel anyway. Probably time for a little break. But where on Earth are the DPN's? Darnit I have one of the set of five. I really don't like when I can't find tools. I can't even blame it on anyone else. Too bad. I really hope the little shop around the corner has the right sized DPN's. It's the only yarn shop open before Wednesday. What's up with that? It has been raining off and on all day, perfect knitting weather. Not cold though, what is up with the crazy weather here? It's warm again, I turned on the A/C this morning. And with the rain the temperature is dropping a little bit, I think it's going to be cold again tomorrow. Almost 80 this morning and it'll be in the 40's tomorrow.

Here's the jacket I made the other day for PeeWee. She's napping and won't stand still long enough for a shot of her wearing it anyway, so... no model today. It looks better on her though. And it's super soft. Light and fluffy enough that she doesn't mind wearing it.

My Rowan Exchange buddy, Kathleen, sent me this great scarf. It's hard to see but it swirls around and around. It is snuggly soft, and the prettiest blues. I decided to model it with a finished project of mine, the hat with the great zigzag pooling of color. I dig this hat, it is silly but not rediculous (I hope, don't crush me by saying it is) There are little twirlies (technical term, huh?) on the top that just make it for me. I like things that spin around, things you can play with.

Mardi Gras has begun. Last night was Twelth Night and we took the kids to a parade. Big Brother ran off with his friend the minute we got there and somehow managed to miss the parade- one long goofy teenage boy story. It was a short one. PeeWee got to watch it and I think she had fun. During the parade, she just sort of stared at everything, a bit dumbfounded and overwhelmed. On the way home, she said over and over that she had fun. And she fell asleep as soon as we walked in the door, she was exhausted.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

no excuses

So I have been in another land I guess. No real excuse for not updating in a few months- whoa, a few months? I resolve to get myself back here. I have gotten a hint here and there that I need to update, so here I am.

PeeWee had her second birthday and all went well with her latest cardiology checkup. We hit a bunch of milestones with her too, and she is all of a sudden talking up a storm and doing things well beyond what she had been doing even a few weeks ago! Yay! We love that here.

Big Brother is being, well, a big brother. Hanging out, being a good teenage boy. He's keeping me busy driving him all over the city to where he needs to be. And he is growing. He's going to be 6ft tall if I blink. Who knew a shorty like me had it in me? He got a bass guitar for Christmas and is actually pretty good playing it.

The hospital fundraiser was a huge hit, we made a bunch of money and replenished the fund that helps families who have to travel here for medical treatment for their children. We depended on that same type of fund in California so I was thrilled that is where the money went. Another hospital fundraiser I was working on raised money to purchase a robotic birth simulator to teach nurses, medical staff, residents and interns, medical students and doctors what to do in an emergency with mother and child. Very cool stuff. It was a satisfying way to spend a lot of my time this fall.

I also reconnected with several friends I had lost touch with over time. We all went to a 40th birthday party and that was great. Reminded me I very much need to get my lazy rear end back into my studio and really get to work. I need to get it from my brain to the page. I got a very nice camera from my parents for Christmas so hopefully I will have some more inspiration from playing with that.

And knitting? Yes, I have been doing lots of it. I started a complete failure of a vest for my father, I need to sneak in his closet and measure one he has and go from there. Now that I have the gorgeous light blue yarn for it. I have made a few pairs of socks, a sweater for PeeWee, finished Jadon's blue sweater (finally!!!) Boy did I lag on that one. Hmmm, sounds like nothing knit but I know there's more... OH! A very nifty hat- the color swirls right up it! I love that hat. For me to actually wear something I knit out in public and get asked about it! Very cool to me. I have been finishing up some stalled projects, too. Or ripping them out, knowing they will never see the light of day and winding up the yarn for another project in the future. I have been trying to use up my giant stash of Cascade 220. It felts so beautifully. I have made some pot holders out of it. I better come up with a better use though because it does not take nearly enough yarn to mae a pot holder. I started a blanket for friends of mine getting married in June, then realized I need to make them a blanket out of washable wool so all my work does not accidentally get shrunken up and become a floor mat or something like that.

I am trying to use up a lot of stash yarn. I made PeeWee a jacket from some Cashmere blend I had laying around. I had literally just enough to finish it with not yards left over. If we would just have more cold weather. We had great sweater weather for a few weeks but we are back in the 60's now. I am hoping we get another blast soon. Usually in February we get freezes. I hope so. (But please, no broken pipes. We had water in the house with a big rain and I kind of gave up. Then a major plumbing leak. And another one while trying to repair that one. More water than I need. Everytime it rains my heart races. Post traumatic stress?)

While working through the (entirely too large) stash, I came across some big old bulky acrylic yarn (who knows what I originally bought it for) I am making a hoodie out of for me. All my jackets were neatly put away in the downstairs front hall closet right before we evacuated for Katrina so I am seriously lacking jackets. I bought myself a nice coat but need some hanging around jackets- something to walk over to the coffee shop on chilly mornings. I made most of the hoodie, didn't like it and am ripping it out and doing a totally different one. Yep, I think I can be called a process knitter.

Everyone got socks for Christmas in this house. PeeWee got some pink knee socks and some pink and grey socks from leftover socks I made for myself. I love how the color bands change completely with socks in her size. Big Brother got some green socks I must have made back in March, but kept for his gigantaur feet. He wears a 13 1/2 now. I started him a pair of socks on tiny #1 needles, maybe I will finish the gigantic things in time for next Christmas. My One and Only, Mark, got green and blue socks. Yes, all these socks were stash yarn! Woo-hoo! Burning through some of that yarn I have piled up all over the house, stuck in nooks and crannies. I am determined to knit up a lot of it. Or give it away. I am hoping to knock out a few crocheted baby blankets. I know, crochet? Well, it is very quick and easy for those baby blankets, much faster than knitting and I can knit up a tiny matching hat to go with it.

So Happy New Year! I hope you can all bear with me and my sporatic postings.