Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Ready for my Close-up Mr. DeMille"

Finished Blue Beret
Honestly, what does a girl have to do around here to get a decent picture?  With my blue beret hot off the needles, I was ready for a final picture to post on the blog and on Ravelry.  My eldest tried to take a decent picture, but he's only 9 and did his best. 
Not bad, but blurry

Then my husband tried, but his attempts were followed by mocking laughter (some of it from me and then some of it from him at my frustration--all in good fun).
Extreme Close-Up

Side View
Does this happen to you?  Do you find yourself being a little too critical about how you look in photos?  And when did I get "older"?  Seriously, there are wrinkles I don't remember seeing before?  Maybe my photographic standards have changed.  Or I need a really good filter--Ha!

Through experimentation and lots of trial and error, I've improved loads as a photographer (at least I think I have).  Sadly, the same cannot be said of everyone else in the family (and to be fair, the camera is mine and I'm the only one who's read the manual).  By default, that makes me the official photographer at family events or during the holidays.  The corollary being that I often don't get to be in the pictures.  Even when it is time for someone else to take pictures, they may not be as thoughtful in choosing the best light, the right angle . . . well, you get the picture (sorry for the bad pun).

It's not easy being a self-critical photo-taking, crafty blogger.
Say cheese!

Friday, January 29, 2010

So Bad . . .

Instead of working on something currently on the needles, what do I do?  Cast on for something new, of course!  Generally I'm a fairly monogamous knitter, with perhaps 1-2 projects on the go at most (usually something big and a smaller, more portable project).  Since early fall, I've been itching to make a particular item and I could resist no more.

While looking for scraps for mittens, I found just enough to make my desired item. Guess which yarn I'm using?  More Bernat Softee Chunky (I swear I'm addicted to this stuff.  The nicest locally-available acrylic EVER--although Bernat Chunky is very nice too). 
Softee Chunky in demin ombre

They're leftovers (about a ball and half's worth) from my modified Short-Sleeved Ribbed CardiUsing two circulars, I'm got a nice circle growing.

"Mystery" Project in Progress

Have it figured out yet? I'm making a beret--my first ever if you don't count the wee itty bitty one I made for one of my boys teddy bear. 

Not everyone likes to wear hats, but for me it is a necessity.  I'm still walking to work every day, so my poor old head needs protection from bitter winds (although I must confess it has been an unusually mild January as far as east coast winters go).  And at work I'm outside with my toddlers just about every day for at least an hour.  Me head needs warmth!

My current hat is also a beret that came with matching mittens (a present from my mother-in-law a few years ago). 
Pink Beret with Matching Mittens

But I grow weary of the pale pink (and the hat is itchy too). Besides, it never hurts to have an extra hat handy, as I discovered one day when the pink beret went AWOL.  So in the interest of all that is warm, soft and fuzzy, I am making a hat!

Long live hat head! :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Crochet, Anyone?

I'd love to start crocheting again, especially since the granny square seems to be making a comeback.  I'd love to make a pretty mat for the kitchen or bathroom.  And of course, I'd love to make a poncho for my niece.  As a kid, I remember having one made by my great aunt.  It was green and white.

After I learned how to knit, my mom taught me how to crochet.  Together we made two afghans using granny squares.  Then I made my own afghan with multi-coloured hexagons of orange, brown and cream.  I was so proud.  From there I ventured into lace using thread and a teeny tiny steel hook.

Most of my crochet handiwork is long gone.  Until last week.  I came across the last surviving piece of crochet: a pretty lace doily. 

Lace Doily

Detail of Lace

Close-up of Edging

I can't believe I was once able to make something so intricate looking.  Time to search Ravelry for free crochet patterns--perhaps a dishcloth first and then who knows what else after that?

Happy crocheting!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Mittens

Finished the green mittens.  Don't they look nice?  And not one bit wonky.  Huzzah!  With the added snow, they were soon put to good use.

Promptly started another pair of mittens.  Since I'm using more Bernat Softee Chunky, I fished out a Bernat pattern booklet called 9 Family Knits .  Actually I forgot I had bought this pattern book in the fall (I may even have blogged about it too).  And since I've got lots of Softee Chunky in my stash (leftovers from hats and sweaters for my boys), the booklet is worth the price--and more as I only paid 99 cents for it!  Gotta like that.

The enitre book uses Softee Chunky, so these mittens should fit fine (and no, I haven't check my gauge.  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson . . . .hmmmm, reckless behaviour or daring risk-taker?).  Sadly, this red mitten has not seen much action this week as I plug away at the big Bernat cardigan project (I know: somewhere there are teeny, tiny violins playing a very sad song **giggles**).

Hopefully I can sneak in some time on the mittens during the week (but don't hold your breathe).

Happy knitting! :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dispatches From Winter Wonderland

(unknown photographer from wallpaper torrent)

As more powdery stuff drifts down upon the already white ground, I thank my lucky stars for all the wonderful things I do have in my life: a caring husband and two healthy children, a warm house, a decent job and good friends.  We may not live in the lap of luxury, but we've got all the basics.

Sometimes the day-to-day drudgery can overtake our thoughts and we forget.  Then somewhere in the world, a tragedy strikes that is so overwhelming . . .well, I just appreciate so much more what I do have.

Stay well everyone.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mitten Woes (or a Tale of Gauge)

I shouldn't complain, but I was trying to be "smart" and unwittingly out-witted myself!  My eldest son had lost his mittens, again (And he shall have no pie.  Meow, meow, meow.  No he shall have no pie).  For some reason I thought I had an extra pair stashed away in their closet, but alas no kid-sized mittens were to be found.  So I decided to make some.  How hard could mittens be?  Made my first pair a couple of years ago and they weren't as challenging as fingerless gloves.

first mittens ever circa 2007

The pattern came from Knit Simple magazine (Fall 2007 issue).  And the pattern is versatile since it can be adapted for DK, worsted or bulky weight.  My problem, though, was that my son's hands had grown: Too big for child-size, but too small for woman's size.

So after taking measurements and comparing finished sizes, I opted to cast on for the woman's mitts on size 5mm rather than the recomended 6mm. Then I'd adjust pattern to achieve a shorter length (with some trying-on as I went to check length).  Sound good?  In theory it should have worked.  Instead I got something else :(

wonky mitten

See how pointy it is?  My plan did not work.  In the end, I was caught short--quite literally!  I added a couple of extra rounds before kitchnering the top 'cuz my boy's middle finger was poking out!  Ugh!

So with the next mitten, I just stuck to woman's size as written (as an aside, there is errata for this particular pattern).  The second mitten fit better.

second attempt at mitten perfection

Why did my plan fail?  It boils down to one thing: gauge!!  I'll fess up to making no gauge swatch (only with sweaters do I actually swatch).  But seriously, I doubt a swatch would have saved me unless I'd knit the swatch in the round on dpns.  Generally I'm a loose knitter EXCEPT when it comes to dpn's.  Then I'm much tighter, mainly 'cuz I'm trying to avoid those pesky ladders (I should have known that since I'd just finished a project that required dpn's).  

Still, no harm done.  My younger boy can wear the pointy mittens.  

second mitt in progress
Knit and learn. ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sock Limbo

I've been knitting--lots of knitting!  I've been quite disciplined and click-click away on the needles every day--usually 1-2 hours in the evening and about 45 min at nap and lunch time (too bad I don't get naptime, but that's a whole other ball of yarn). 

With all that knitting time, you'd think I'd have at least ONE finished sock to show!  Unfortunately, unexpected projects came up due to my son's propensity for losing things (namely mittens).  So my poor little old sock has taken a backseat--more like lost in limbo!

progress of lone sock during the holidays

So sad about the sock too.  Remember I had to frog it 'cuz I didn't like the wonky cuff (see this).  After casting on again, I managed to finish the leg and get past the point where I frogged.  Doesn't it look purty?  I really like the striping effect which looks so much better without a cuff.

sock awaiting heel flap

The original pattern (from Vogue Knitting's Ultimate Sock Book) called for a 3" leg, but I increased it to 4".  All the stitches are arranged and awaiting the heel flap.  Alas this sock must wait.  At least until the mittens get done (more on those tomorrow as it is also a tale of woe).

And it probably doesn't help that I'm tackling a big project for Bernat (maybe I need to try something smaller before embarking on another big project). Actually the big project is my personal "everest": can I finish it on my self-imposed two-month deadline? My track record is not good when it comes to knits for me.  Still, I've managed to finish baby sweaters in weeks and child-sized sweaters in a month. How long will it take me to finish a big-girl-sized sweater? 

Hope your knitting is behaving. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

One Day Slippers

Had to share 'cuz this project is a quick one.  This morning I finished a pair of slippers that I only started last night!

My littlest one desperately needed new slippers.  The old ones were a little holey in the soles.  And I've been delaying the start of another slipper project 'cuz I'm busily working on a big project for Bernat (which I want to finish ASAP).  Luckily I stumbled upon this pattern through Ravelry;  it's called Aunt Maggie's Slippers.  And I am amazed that I was able to finish the project sooo quickly!

I used Phentex yarn because its so durable.  Have you tried Phentex Craft and Slipper yarn?  That stuff is strong but a pain to knit with; it splits like crazy and even gets caught on rough skin!  So I paired it with a generic worsted acrylic (See the supper big ball of white stuff?  That's just over 2 pounds worth!). 

Don't know if it was the pattern, the pairing of the two yarns or the larger needles, but this project was easy-peasy.  What a great pick-me-up!

Happy knitting!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We Interrupt Regularly Scheduled Winter Blahs for . . .

Almost forgot: I finished my fern lace scarf! 

Well, I was done knitting the thing in November (see post here and here), but like everything else, left the finishing for later.  Determined to wear it over the holidays, I finally weaved in the ends and added some lovely fringe (a curly yarn that came with the kit from Lismore Sheep Farm). 

Whatcha think?  I love it!  The colours look smashing next to  my woolen black coat. And I can wrap it twice round my neck before knotting it.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled life . . .

Happy Knitting!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Blahs

(photo from wallpaper torrent; photographer unknown)

If it feels as if I've fallen off the end of the earth . . . well, rest assured that I haven't.  It's just that there's no "de-briefing" when re-entering the doldrum of ordinary work life after the holidays.  No half-days or partial weeks--just fall in, head first and hope nothing breaks on the way.

And of course, there's no end in sight.  No holidays or long weekends to look forward to in the immediate future; nothing to break up the monotony of winter blahs; no respite from the cold frost and chilling winds. . . .

Except maybe the days will start to get longer . . .

Here's hoping your winter blahs are less intense.  And that knitted dreams keep you warm.
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