Sunday, September 27, 2009

Knitting Trials and Tribulations

After I finished Baby Sophisticate, I thought I should make a matching hat.  I settled for Earflap Hats from Knitscene (that's a Rav link).  I've had the pattern in my 3-ring binder for ages (I downloaded it a while ago when I first discovered free knitting patterns online--I lurve the internets).

The pattern is meant to be top-down in the round.  Do ya think I could do it?  Even if my life depended on it, I could not get the hat started in the round.  I kept twisting the stitches or messing up the needle order.  Ugh!!  Soooo frustrating!!  It's not as if I've never worked in the round: I've made plenty of socks on tiny fiddly needles; I've made gloves and mittens and even a sweater in the round.

Determined not to give up, I modified the pattern to knit flat (I know, I know . . . I'm still hanging my head in shame).  I just added an extra stitch to each end for a seam allowance.  So you'd think I was all set, but no.  The knitting gods threw another wrench my way (and really I've only myself to blame because (a) I didn't swatch, (b) I didn't research the pattern yarn for a proper substitution and (c) I didn't research baby hats).

Initially I used size 5mm and the hat looked too small.  Even my kids wondered if I was making a hat for one of their teddy bears.  So, I frogged and switched to 6.5mm.  Unfortunately the thing now looks too big--more of a toddler or child hat rather than a baby hat.  **sigh**

On the plus side, I did finally learn to make I-cords.  I have never used I-cord before and quite frankly, I was a little intimated by it.  Sure I'd read the directions in my how-to books, but it just seemed "wrong" (No turning?  Really?  How does that work?).   Lo and behold, the whole process was really quite easy--super-duper easy.  Go figure!

Happy knitting! :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

One Last Hurrah

The last day of nice weather?  Perhaps . . . the mercury in the thermostat keeps dipping.  Even under the sun, its a cool day.  See the leaves turning red on my dogwoods?  I just love the deep crimson against a bright blue sky (and I discovered the macro feature on my camera.  Who knew reading the manual would be so enlightening?).  Even the branches look red.

What better way to celebrate the end of summer than with one last hurrah of outdoor fun?  There's a place just outside of town that's got go-carts, bumper cars, bumper boats, batting cage and mini-golf.  Nothing fancy, but its a nice way to spend a few hours with the kids.  The place closes on Monday.  That's how I know its officially fall.

Here's hoping your first fall weekend is full of fun. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby Sophisticate FO

Well its sort of an FO--and a darn cute one!  The ends need to be darned in; the holes under the arms need to be sewn up; buttons will need to be found and attached. Yet I can't help but feel proud of myself.  Pardon my vanity, but I did a great job and in record time too!

The shawl-like collar construction piqued my interest as I had not made anything like that before.  The button bands and collar are worked at the same time.  With all the slipped edge stitches, it was very easy to pick up the band and collar stitches.  I ended up with exactly 100 stitches.  Go figure?  The collar required some short-row shaping.  It was a perfect opportunity for me to practise my technique.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love, love for their instructive videos.  I referred to their short-row instructional video so that I wouldn't mess up (I always forget how to pick up the wraps). 

I also tried a different bind-off technique.  The designer recommended using EZ's sewn off bind off.  Thankfully the designer also left a link to which described the process with clear and concise step-by-step instructions.  It took me a little longer to bind off one hundred stitches, but it was well worth the effort.  I think the edge looks very clean and much neater than a regular bind-off.  Try it out for yourself on a swatch to see the difference.  I may have to try it on my lace projects when I'm ready to bind off.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

With the Arrival of Fall . . .

Even under a blue sky, the air is crisp, the sun is not quite as warm and the shadows are just a little bit longer. The wind picks up, rustling the leaves. . . change is coming. Autumn is here.

And with the arrival of fall, my mind reflects on the past year; my thoughts turn to the plans and the dreams I have had.  Remember my dreams?  Like the leaves which soon must fall, so too must my dreams.  Like the leaves which will sprout anew in spring, so too must my dreams wait--on hold until the spring or perhaps even the summer.  We thought we might have been able purchase a property where we could pursue our dream, but such was not meant to be--at least not yet.

Change is coming whether we want it or not.  Funny how as the first leaves turn, I think of the first grays in my hair, the lines around my eyes . . . guess I'm in the autumn of my own life (or at the very least I'm in late, late summer).  Change is coming.  And while it might not bring the new life of springtime, autumn still holds hope.  The toil of summer comes to fruition in the last harvest: crisp red apples, big round pumpkins and the last of the potatoes.  One last hurrah and then everything winds down.  Then the world will sleep under its blanket of snow, waiting for whatever dreams may come . . .

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little Steps . . .

Bit by bit, things get done.  Even stuff you weren't sure about turn out okay.  Like that little patch by my front step.  Remember?  I thought it was rather sad looking and blogged about it here .  It's not exactly what I had planned to do, but in the end, it filled in nicely. 

The bleeding hearts didn't flower but they look very healthy and robust; the silver beacon and yellow aurea have spread and even the dianthus flowered again.  Despite the frost, the plants haven't succumbed--at least not yet.

In the same way, my gifts will be just fine.  I wasn't sure about a homemade Christmas (I'm still not sure).  It wasn't my initial plan.  Normally I don't knit on a deadline 'cuz I'm so slooooow.  It's hard enough to get one thing made on time, let alone many.  Will I be able to manage?  Here's hoping.  At least Baby Sophistictae is coming along. 

I've already surpassed what's pictured above.  One sleeve is complete and I've begun work on the second one.  I'm hoping to finish the collar this weekend.  The pattern called for a slipped stitch at the start of each row.  When I pick up for the collar, I just use each slipped stitch.  No counting involved.  Usually I pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows and generally get close to the required number.  Always neat to try something new, n'est pas?

Here's hoping you had a good week.  And remember that tomorrow is Friday! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Am Invincible!

At least that's how I feel.  See my pretty new header?  I made that!  All by myself (with copious amounts of online help).

My quest for a proper knitting header began with finding the "right" picture.  Nothing really "spoke" to me (and there aren't too many free photos on knitting or yarn).  But even if I found the right photo, what was I supposed to do with it?  Then I stumbled upon this how-to video on  I'm a picture-person or visual learner: I need to SEE how things work; merely describing the process doesn't help me to learn.  But this video was the ticket.

My only other problem was finding a photo program that could do the things dislayed in the how-to video.  My laptop was sadly lacking.  Now what?  I searched and finally decided on Picassa (mainly because its free and I was already using Picassa's online album through Blogger).  A fellow Raveler pointed me in the right direction re: how to use Picassa: Sarah from Memories on Clover Lane kindly explained in great detail how she made her awesome headers in this post .  Easy peasy!

Finally I have to give credit where credit is due:  that awesome photo of yarn bits.  That came from Sarah Klockers-Clauser at (link here).

I feel so pleased with myself . . . . :D

Wow! Progress!

I can't believe how much I've done on that Baby Sophisticate in one day!  Last night I separated the sleeves from the body.  If I can just slog through the main body, I just might be able to finish this sooner than anticipated . . .
Oh, but then I'd just have my lace scarves and no other plain knitting.  Speaking of lace scarves, one of them is growing very nicely.  See for yourself:
I'm almost at the halfway point!  I feel almost giddy . . .

All these wonderful gifts crafted with care and love have got my brain cells working.  There are others on my Christmas list who would enjoy hand-crafted gifts.  I've been looking through my stash (such as it is) and I think I have one more knitted gift in the works.  I'd also like to make a gift scrapbook too . . . hmmmm, am I making a tangled mess with all these projects?  Guess only time will tell.   :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I don't know how it happened, but I cast-on for a new project.  A few balls (four to be exact) of Vanna's Choice in gray were sitting in my stash asking to be made into something useful.  I finally obliged: here comes the Baby Sophisticate!  This particular pattern had been in my Ravelry pattern library for a little while.  I like that its a top-down construction AND its a baby sweater.  Hence a quick knit and no seams--gotta like that!
Judging from other knitters' experiences at Ravelry, this sweater should be done in a weekend (converting that to an acrylic-girl timeline that takes into account my turtlesque speed, estimated time for completion should be approximately one to two weeks.  Have I mentioned my lack of speed in the knitting department?). 

Here's hoping your days are full of knitting goodness :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Surprise Package!

It's always nice to get a package, especially if its a surprise.  I knew my mom was sending a package, but I was unsure of the exact contents.  One of my sisters had tried her hand at knitting, went so far and then put it aside (not sure who taught her, what she learned and why she stopped).  Her unused yarn purchases were sitting 'round collecting dust in my mom's basement.  So I volunteered to give them a happy home where perhaps they would be loved or perhaps turned into something that would be loved--or at the very least turned into an object deemed useful or practical.
There are two balls of Patons Melody.  I figure that should be enough for a hat--perhaps a child's hat?  Maybe a hat for me?
This Kelly yarn is something I've never heard of.  But its a cotton and acrylic mix and it looks stretchy.  Only have two balls, so I'm not sure what I'd make--perhaps a skinny scarf in a simple stitch?  Gonna have to research this on Ravelry.
I'm pretty sure this is regular old orange acrylic (Red Heart or some close facsimile).  My mom thinks its leftovers from an afghan we worked on years ago.  Maybe I can make a pumpkin--Halloween is just 'round the corner.
This is also a yarn I've never heard of.  It's called Batik and its a ribbon.  I've never worked with ribbon before, but I suspect I might have enough for a skinny scarf.

Love surprises.  Hope there are pleasant surprises your way.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Changes . . .

I've been messing around with my header, trying to find a good photo and then trying to adjust the title accordingly. Not bad for a newbie, huh? Hard to find exactly what I'm looking for (something fiber or yarn related, of course) and I don't really know how to create my own. Eventually I'll get there . . . .the vision in my head will find a match in reality.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Almost an FO

Yay! I'm done knitting the Eyelet Yoke Cardi! Only have to seam up the sides and sleeves (and clean up all those loose ends--lots of ends. Ugh!). Working on the yoke was tiring. Was it number of yoke stitches? Metal needles? Worsted weight yarn? Not sure.

After working on the cardigan, my hand muscles became quite stiff. Even my wrist was sore (although that could have been from working on the laptop, but how is that different from any other night?). I'm used to sore fingers--courtesy of the early stages of arthritis, according to my doctor (thankfully its not the rheumatoid type). Don't want to complain. Still, it's a nuisance when I finally have the energy but not the stamina to knit much. Oddly enough, one of my friends also complained of sore hands and she doesn't have arthritis. Could it be the change in the air? It's definitely fall in our neck of the woods. The days are still warm, but all the humidity is gone and the nights are quite cool. We've already had overnight frost. Hmmmm . . . me thinks summer is quickly fading.

Interestingly work on the lace scarves has been a welcome relief. Maybe its the variety of stitches used; perhaps its the bamboo needles or my slow and methodical approach to lace? Whatever the reason, its been more comfortable to work on lace. In fact, with the cardigan out of the way my only Christmas knitting left are the two lace scarves. Here's hoping I can get through those quickly. My brain is already brimming with more homemade/handmade gifts . . . must stop making more work for myself.
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