Thursday, December 4, 2008

moving blog

yep, it's true. i'm switching blog servers. and trust me, this is only after thinking everything through. anyone's who's read this blog has likely heard me complaining about how slow blogger is and how long it takes me to write, edit and upload ANY post and even longer to add extras like pictures. and after sending messages to the blogger service team and never getting any sort of reply or resolution to my problem, i've finally decided the best thing to do is to leave. i'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause anyone- however, change you bookmarks or feeds!! my new blog can be found at:

after giving any readers *who may or may not be out there* enough time to change feeds and bookmarks, i'll be completely deleting this blog and/or account. i hate going to a blog or website that hasn't been updated in years. also, it junks up the world wide web!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

project updates

right now i do have a few projects going on at the same time. the most urgent *and therefore the one that gets worked on most* is of course my mitered mittens. then i have gigi, which has been put to the side for a while since it's already too cold to wear it. and then i have a new project *the one i eluded to in the last post*.

my mittens have taken a lot longer than i anticipated *and hoped for*. i knew i wanted to make the cuff a little longer to go down over my wrists and that's been the cause of all of the frogging sessions. i'll think i have a good length but once i get to the thumb gusset and try them on, they're too long. and it doesn't help that i have severe knitting denial- i always ignore that first pang of trouble. instead i knit on, wasting tons more time when i finally decide to frog back to the problem area and start again! so if you're reading this: you should always believe in your intuition!!!

once i thought i finally had a good length, i discovered a slipped stitch about 20 rows down!! usually i would just fix that, no problem, but with the miters in this patterns it makes it much more difficult. and the stitch in question was right next to the miter- had it been half way in between one, i may have been able to fix it. so the easiest/fastest/least frustrating thing to do was to frog it... again..... all the way past the thumb gusset. that mitten better hope that's the last time i have to frog it!! i'm almost done with it now- i've knit the thumb gusset again and am working my way back up the palm. please pray for me!!!

poor little gigi has been hibernating since the mitered mittens were cast on! i feel so bad and i WANT to knit on it, but the mittens are priority #1. and i'd be lieing if i said that 5 inches of knit 2 purl 2 ribbing and 11.5 inches of stockinette was particularly thrilling. but i'm up to the shoulder shaping on the back piece and after that it won't be too long until that piece is finished and i can start on one of the two fronts. it's not a hard pattern to knit and i really enjoy it, sometimes i wish the pattern was written a little more clearly, but besides that gigi has been a really chill knit.

here's gigi in her current state: 5 inches of ribbing and half way up the back. more stockinette to follow and then shaping and binding off!

the next project on the waiting list is one that i've been wanting to do for a long time- a bathroom rug. something functional! we threw our cheap wal-mart bathroom rug away a long time ago, it was one of those with the plastic non-skid stuff on the back and once it got really dirty, i couldn't throw it in the washer. so i chucked it. i've had the idea for a long time, but couldn't decide on any specifics: yarn, pattern, etc. but a couple of months ago i saw a project on craftster that i LOVED. a girl made a bathroom rug out of an old bed sheet using a rag-knitting technique. it's totally awesome! to keep this post short, i'm directing you to the original post for details and i'll be posting more as i go. the girl added some details on the third page about needle size and stuff and you can see my original comment on page 3.... i think.

so as pure coincidence, my mother-in-law has been buying us a bunch of sheet shets *i have no idea WHY... she's a thrift store junkie and always picks up little odds and ends and especially knitting/spinning stuff for me, so i don't complain, i just thank her for what she brings me!* the problem is, we don't use the flat sheet that goes on top of you- i feel like my feet are imprisoned and it irritates me to no end- so what is to become of the divorced sheet sets??? a bathroom rug, that's what.

i had pale sage/mint green or faded pepto bismol pink sheets to choose from. the pink sheets *however ugly* were a very soft, good quality muslin fabric, so i thought that would feel great under our feet. but, they are still too ugly for words, so i went out and bought some purple rit. the color on the box was a very saturated purple, but one box is only enough dye for 3 yards of fabric and i'm sure a full sheet is more than that- so i got two boxes. i dyed the sheet using only one box of dye, knowing that i could repeat the process if i didn't like the outcome. the purple i got is very bright, which i love, so i decided to stop there. this was my first time using rit and i'm really happy with the results- i'll definately use it again under the same circumstances. it's not what i would choose for any high-end projects or for anything that you want spectacular results on, but for something like this it's perfect! on to the cutting!!

new pretty purple sheet on the left and old faded pepto on the right!

i used the rag knitting tutorial on cocoknits *like the girl from craftster* but i had to modify it a little bit for my needs. i looked through my knitting needles and i don't have a size 35 or 19. my largest is a 15, so i decided to cut my strips to be an inch long. i think that will work well.

oh, and i almost forgot! the crochet name doily! i must admit i have been avoiding it.... crochet is just not my favorite medium! i've been working on a gauge swatch *well, not in a measuring sort of way, just to see what hook i like with the crochet cotton of an unknown size* but i haven't gotten too far.

hopefully i'll have alot more free time in the near future to work on these aforementioned projects.

most of my time lately has been taken up with the custom spinning for the local weaver *which i can't believe i forgot to mention!!!* i'm actually already done with all the spinning and she loved the yarns! i was really nervous but was super pleased! i hope she would like to work with me in the future!

she sent me some interesting and fun fibers to spin for her and gave me total control of what the finished outcome was to be. lots of what i'm 99% sure was merino in ROY G. BIV colors, a reallly pretty blue merino/silk blend *which i'm antsy to try* and an assortment of blue, black and white fiber which i couldn't identify! i've certainly never had anything like it before, but i LOVED how it spun up and i want MORE MORE MORE!!! hopefully she will email me back with some answers very soon!

Monday, October 27, 2008

elizabeth zimmerman

well, i've gone and done it. i bought my first elizabeth zimmerman books. up until this point i had been able to resist the EZ hypnotism. i checked out my first EZ book from the library while i was still a pretty green knitter. the only book of hers my library carried was 'knitting without tears', so that's the one i got. *it wasn't until much later that i realized my small town library had no good knitting books, and that if i wanted to get my hands on them without buying, i'd have to get them on loan from other libraries*. i had heard that if you wanted to learn to knit, 'knitting without tears' was a most valuable resource, but when i opened the book, i discovered that i already knew most of the skills covered in the beginning of the book and i became impatient. like so many novice knitters, i was consumed with passing the "beginner" phase of knitting and moving on to bigger and better things. dissapointed, i returned the book to the library. maybe i didn't give it enough of a chance.

after my first few years of knitting, we finally got the internet and i quickly found and joined ravelry. i was amazed to find so many groups there devoted to everything EZ. but my breaking point was, of course, the baby surprise jacket. as soon as i saw it, i fell in love and i wanted more. after looking up where i could find the bsj pattern, i asked my library to find 'the opinionated knitter' for me.

i had no idea what the book was about when i requested it, but before the book was due back i had read it cover to cover. i knew i was addicted. i've always enjoyed reading patterns to get a feel for them, but most are written so complicated that unless you have the knitting in your hands, you'd never be able to visualize the process.

not only are most of EZ's patterns only one paragraph long, you can actually understand them! even with her longer patterns, like her myriad of sweaters, i was able to learn so much from! i've always wanted to knit an adult sweater but have been terrified to try. with her writing style and ability to simplify everything, she takes out the intimidation factor and makes the process easier to understand. i could ramble about her all day long, but the truth is, until you read one of her books for yourself, you'll never really understand the hype. you can read about an innovater all day long, but to understand them, you need to see it for yourself.

about half way through 'the opinionated knitter', i knew i wanted to own it. not only own it, i wanted to start my collection of elizabeth zimmerman books. as luck would have it, i got my knit picks newsletter shortly thereafter announcing their 40% sale on all in-stock books for the month of october!!! i never have such great luck! i am now the proud new owner of 'the opinionated knitter', 'the knitter's almanac' and 'knitting workshop'!! i had a hard time choosing which books to get, but i can always get them from the library and buy them later if i love them.

on a semi-related note- my son was finally accepted into a preschool *yes, this late* about three weeks ago, and this brought up a strange dillema for me. since i'm now driving him to school in the early morning hours i've realized how important it is to have a good pair of mittens!! and i have none!!! since i knew there were mitten patterns in 'the knitter's almanac' i decided to start swatching while i waited for my books to arrive in the mail. i wanted to use handspun yarn and since i didn't have any on hand i decided to do the unthinkable.... i frogged the yarn over cable socks!!

i never fell in love with the combination of the ultra-textured yarn over cable pattern and the short color repeats in the autumnal yarn; that stitch pattern would be much better suited with a solid or semi solid yarn. but i fell hard for the autumnal yarn! the roving was much more expensive then i ever pay (if i remember correctly it was around $40 for 8 ounces) but when i saw it, i knew i needed it! and i fell equally hard for the high twisted navajo-plied sock weight that it ended up as! so throughout the knitting of the yarn over cable socks, it had crossed my mind more than a few times that if i knit mittenswith it, i would be able to drool over the yarn every time i wore them!! it was decided.

by the time the books arrived, my gauge was measured and i was anxiously waiting to cast on!
i did a little math to revise the pattern as my yarn was slightly thinner than the pattern called for, but the pattern's so simple, i only had to change the number of stitches cast on, nothing else! after browsing through the many mitered mitten projects on ravelry, i noticed that a lot of people had used thumb gusset modification instead of the "afterthought" thumb that EZ did. some people call it the "sore thumb mod" describing the original as uncomfortable. so i decided to save myself any further frustration and go this way the first time- as opposed to going with the original (which calls for knitting the entire mitten and then cutting and unraveling stitches to pick up thumb stitches) and then finding out i didn't like it after all, which is what i would normally do!

so after a few *first tries* of knitting the mitten way too long- around half way to my elbow- i've just barely finished the thumb gusset on my first mitten and am hoping it all goes much faster from here on out!! especially since i'm reminded how urgent the situation is every morning while trying to drive and use fine motor skills!!

oh, yes, and i have started another new project that's taking the backseat until my mittens are done... updates to come soon!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

bambigi- Part 2

woohoo! swatching is over and actual garment knitting has begun on my gigi!! thank god, i don't think i could take much more of that swatching- i think my final count was around 15 knitted, washed and measured swatches! and don't tell anybody but.... i still didn't make gauge!! i was almost exact on the stitch gauge, but almost an inch off the row gauge. i wouldn't normally be okay with that but i read the pattern thoroughly and didn't see anything that called for a specific number of rows to be knit- it's mostly "continue until piece measures 5 inches*. but if i run into a problem, i'll just recalculate the length based on my gauge.

the cover up is knit from the bottom up and is made up of pretty simple shapes. the back is knit first, followed by the two fronts. i'm pretty happy with the knitting so far. it's very easy to separate the strands of the yarn while knitting it, but i swatched so much that i'm used to it! it still happens, but i pay more attention to make sure that it doesn't. my only other gripe with the yarn is that it has way too many knots in it! it's so annoying to find a knot in the yarn on something with such long rows that you have to rip out an entire row to take the knot out!

the 2x2 ribbing at the bottom of the cardigan is really nice in the bamboo yarn. even though the fabric is pretty open and drapey in stockinette stitch, the ribbing is a nice medium weight and still extremely stretchy!

some strange knitting phenomenon did happen above the ribbing though. i'm still at a loss, but i think it had more to do with the yarn than the knitting. there's an elevated band about an inch and half tall across the entire back.... and it looks king of ugly. not only does it look like an entirely different gauge than the rest of it, but the yarn looks kind of gnarly! like a cat chewed it up or something!! and i don't have any cats. i'm pretty mad about this and i contemplated ripping it out, but i was too far along when i noticed it, so i kept on going. my fingers are crossed that it comes out in the washing and blocking. but even if it doesn't, i'll still love it. after all, that's what makes a misfit knit!

unfortunately, this piece is creeping along at a snail's pace. the rows are so long and i had to go up a size since my measurements weren't included in the pattern- making the rows even longer!! oh well. my patience hasn't run out yet, so i'm just trying to stay positive. and since all the separate pieces are knit flat, i'm able to get more practice on my knitting backwards! when i started knitting i was doing the standard "knit one row, purl one row" but when i got to the stockinette portion, i got bored very quickly. so i decided i'd knit a few rows using the knitting backwards and if i saw any changes in my gauge i'd just them. i was quite shocked that my knitting only changed in one way- the over-all fabric was noticeably more even and smooth!! so i'll continue to use it for the rest of my pieces and probably for everything in the future.

on a completely different note- i'd like to announce that after an inexcusable amount of time i have a finished object to share- 2 swiffer cloths! isn't it pathetic how rare that is for me?!?! if only knitting was my full time job! these pictures were taken right after i finished knitting the second one, so there are still ends to be woven and buttons to sew on, but you get the idea!

i knit the cloth on the left first to test out the pattern. *which is why it was knit with left overs.... that didn't exactly match!*

if you'd like to knit one of these for yourself, i have made a few notes that will help you out! *for those of you who aren't interested in the pattern details, you probably won't enjoy reading this!!* you can find the pattern on this page, but be warned: the link for the stitch pattern on her blog is out of date!! the instructions i used can be found here (also note: this is a link to a pattern for a dish cloth, but you cast on the same number of stitches and follow the entire pattern for you swiffer cloth). once you've done 3 repeats of the textured slip stitch, refer back to green mountain mama's pattern and the directions are crystal clear from there!

and last but not least, i've been going through a painful spinning drought lately!! it's not like i don't have anything fiber to spin, it's just that i like to have a rough idea of what i'm going to spin before i start and once i start spinning, if the direction changes and the fiber wants to do something else, i'll let it, but i don't just randomly grab fiber and start spinning. but lately, i don't even have any "rough" ideas coming through! BUT, on it's way to my doorstep is a box of unknown fiber in an unknown quantity for commission spinning. so please please please send some creative vibes my way!! i'm imagining that it will happen something like this: *the box arrives and upon opening i am instantly struck with inspiration by all the beautiful fibers and colors and head straight to my wheel!!*. but how it plays out in my imagination is not how it usually happens in real life!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

going green!!!

while looking for something to knit for my cousin's impending nuptials, i came across a pattern for reusable knit swiffer cloths!!

instantly.... i LOVED it!! not only do i get tired of throwing away the disposable swiffer pads, but i think it's hilarious- harking back to those knit toilet paper cozy days..... but in a very updated way! it's almost a pop culture pattern- not that the state of our planet's health hasn't been a concern until recently- but with this being an election year, all the candidates are trying to convince voters that they actually care about the earth! hell, even the maury povich show advertised during a commercial break that their offices and studios are "going green"..... MAURY POVICH??? the man who sells onesies that say "YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER" on his website! now that's pop culture! *and yes, i DO watch maury povich! i'm a stay at home mom, give me a break!! it's a guilty pleasure that i just can't tame.... it's too damn hilarious!!*

anyway, the pattern is funny, cute and actually usefull- i'll be knitting one immediately!! even if only to say that i actually did it! AND- among all of this excitement- i was able to come up with an idea of something to knit for my cousin's wedding. after searching ravelry for some nice wedding "things" i was still coming up empty handed *they had plenty of pretty girly things, but i really wanted to make them something they could BOTH enjoy. my first instinct was to knit or crochet an afghan or throw, but i wanted to give them something really special, and i'm not sure i could get it done by december with all the other things i have going on*.

so, i called my mother for suggestions. we talked, and debated, and i threw out an idea from left field: a name doily. you may have seen them before, almost every married couple in our family has one... except for my generation. she told me that many members of our family had commissioned them from a local woman years ago. translation: no one in my family could tell me how to make one!! since this is not the kind of work i usually do, i had no idea where to look for instructions, patterns, alphabets or anything, but we ended the conversation on the idea that i would look around on the internet.

after a few failed searches, i learned that the technique used to crochet said doilies is "filet crochet", and after searching for FILET CROCHET name doily alphabets, i started getting some results! almost immediately i was finding free charted alphabets, but i don't think any modern "patterns" exist anymore, as all the patterns from back in the day were from those little phamplets you find in the yarn section of wal-mart *or similar chain/craft store selling yarn*. but if you can read a chart, you can interpret any charted alphabet for filet crochet. i also came across a message board where a woman said that she followed the instructions and chart from Stitch 'N Bitch: The Happy Hooker to learn how to filet crochet. i almost couldn't believe it- that was the book that i taught myself to crochet with! and lo and behold, the instructions were on my book shelf the entire time! and i will say, her explanation of filet crochet was easier to understand than any i found online!

so, i have found an alphabet that i love and since i can't find a suggested weight of crochet cotton to use, i guess i'm going to try out what i have and i'll go from there! i have some left over from the wedding garter i made, but i doubt the end of that ball will be enough. i think i will crochet one full letter with what i have and see if i like the size, weight and look of it. and luckily *if i don't like it* crochet cotton is super cheap! now if i can only get print-outs of the letters i need, i could start on it right away! unfortunately, however, our printer doesn't work! i'll have to call in a favor.....