Friday, June 27, 2008

Busy Day

I started yesterday with a little sewing project. (Shown next to my machine for scale.) These little knitting project bags were made using this tutorial, and they were easy and quick to make up. I bought the fat quarters at The Wooden Spool, which is a fabulous quilt shop in my hometown of Excelsior Springs.
I love the fact that they are lined...and reversible! They are very cute, and they are also a perfect size for small projects like socks or lace scarves. Now that I have the instructions down, I think I'll make more in different sizes. I've wanted project bags for a long time so that my knitting bag is more organized, and these are just perfect.

I then spent a bit of time in the evening cutting 19 yards of tulle into four inch strips. Why on earth would I do such a thing? Ahhh....simple. This cloudy pile of pretty tulle will soon become beautiful tutus for the girls to wear. The instructions are courtesy of Jenn, who made them for her daughter this last winter. The Princess was so excited that she could barely go to sleep last night after seeing all of this!
After the girls went to bed, I went through my stash and pulled this big basketful of goodies to give away this evening to some friends at a knit/craft party. Leftovers from past projects fill most of the basket, but there are some random skeins of things I just don't want anymore.

I finished my evening by working a bit more on my shawl. I will easily finish the middle section today!

HandKnit Love

It's a rather sad state of affairs that knitters rarely get handknit gifts. I won't even guess why this happens - other than to say that our knitting family and friends sometimes just assume that we can do it ourselves. (My husband is an exception. He's made me a scarf and a pair of felted clogs.)

Occasionally, though, if a knitter is very, very lucky a friend will knit something for her family.

Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater from Knitter's Almanac. Knit with love by Jenn in honor of the Pixie's second birthday.

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh...

As predicted, as soon as the girls were tucked into bed last night, I curled up in my bed with needles, yarn and iPod to begin my beautiful new shawl. I was able to very quickly complete enough of it to move it from DPNs onto a 16 inch circular - a move that always brings a smile to my face. With great joy I knit everything up to the base of the first row of lace patterning, and then set it aside so that I could do a bit of reading before bed.

I woke this morning from dreams of handknit lace - I kid you not! - and as soon as I was able I picked up my needles to begin again. The Princess and the Pixie were good enough to first sleep late and then quickly find something fun to do together, and so I wound up with most of the morning to myself.

Under normal circumstances, I would easily have finished chart A in the time I had this morning.

Under normal circumstances, chart A is fairly simple and straightforward.

Under normal circumstances, I consider myself to be a highly proficient, talented lace knitter.

Apparently, today was not a day for normal circumstances.

The problem - as silly as it now seems - was just the first row. I managed to screw it up not once...not even twice...but THREE times. If you had the pattern in front of you now, you would probably be wondering how on earth anyone could muck up something so simple. The first time was a mistake of symmetry. I am a highly ordered person, and so when I looked at the pattern I saw an even number of plain knit stitches instead of an odd. The second time the whole thing came out wonky, and when I looked back I found that I had completely disregarded the pattern in two places starting very early in the row. The third time I managed to leave out three yarn overs...once again in pattern repeats back at the beginning of the row.

I was taught at a very early age that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing to the absolute best of one's abilities. I never fudge my knitting if it's in my power to fix it, and so I laughed at myself each time and then patiently tinked back to fix my mistakes.

I suppose I could be annoyed at having 'wasted' so much time. After all, such a solid block of time to myself during the week is rare indeed as the girls generally require more attention than they did today.

But...it was such a peaceful morning, and I did enjoy knitting to the sound of the storms outside.

Yep, it's better to just laugh.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

Do I finish my Jeweled Steps socks?

or..
Do I cast on Emily's Firmaments Lace Shawl?

As if there's any question...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Look! I Actually Finished Something!!!

My beautiful Sunrise Scarf! I am very satisfied.

Pattern: Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, silk laceweight in color Sunrise, purchased at Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, using .4 of the skein
Needles: Addi Turbo, 3.25 mm
Finished size: 13" by 53"
December 27, 2997 - June 21. 2008

The only alteration I made was to drop the needle size significantly (from 4.5mm) in order to better suit the yarn and my own taste. I could probably have benefited from doing more repeats on each side to compensate ...but I personally like shorter lace scarves.

I have to say that I absolutely love working with this yarn. This is the second lace project I've used Claudia's silk for, and both times I've been thrilled with the result. I love, Love, LOVE the crispness of the blocked piece as well as the sheen and subtlety of the colors. Sooooo yummy.

Shut Up and Say Thank You

Once upon a time, I spent three or four days trying to correct a mistake on a mohair shawl that no one would ever see except for me. I did just about everything I could possibly think of - from tinking back to dropping stitches down - in an obsessive attempt to fix what would make absolutely no difference to the finished piece. Those of you who've worked with laceweight mohair know what a horrible process this must have been.

Several days later, I shared this whole story with my therapist as we discussed my perfectionist issues. She very astutely said something along the lines of, 'and I just bet you will never be able to accept a compliment on it without pointing out your supposed mistake.'

That very night I took the shawl with me on my Mommy's Night Off to show it to a friend. Sure enough, as soon as she complimented me on its beauty I showed her the mistake without even thinking about what I was doing. It wasn't perfect, it was flawed, and therefor it was less than. Never mind the puzzled expression on my friend's face as she tried to see what apparently only I could see.

I'm telling this story because I had the exact same reaction to your support over my last post. Instead of just being pleased, I immediately wanted to sit down and tell you all exactly what was wrong with that drawing, and why it wasn't a great example of art.

Of course, the Green Woman promptly whacked me over the head with the nearest book she could find...and as it was a compendium of fairy tales it was quite heavy.

And so, Thank You. I appreciate your support, and I will take your words sincerely to heart. You're right, it is a pretty good picture...and I just might have some talent after all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This Gives Me Hope


I was very happy to find this picture buried in the bottom of the trunk that houses my journals and mementos. I drew this when I was 14 in my freshman art class. You can still see the grid marks that I used, but even then it's not half bad for a kid who never drew outside of art class. By the time I created this I had long since decided that I didn't have any talent for drawing. Looking back, I'm not entirely sure why I believed that....but I did.

Hmmm....I think I need to draw something tonight....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Every-Other-Year-Sweater Plan

On our way out of town last week, the girls and I stopped by Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe to pick up a special order of mine. This yarn is Queensland Collection's Kathmandu Aran, and it is destined to become a cardigan for my husband.

My husband, bless his heart, LOVES the sweaters I've made for him. Shortly after I presented him with the last sweater, he made a joke about being on an every-other-year sweater plan, and...well....it stuck. I'm a lucky knitter indeed to have a spouse who truly appreciates, loves and uses the sweaters I make. Not all of my friends are so fortunate.

Knowing this was the year, I spent months looking at various yarn options before settling on this one. I knew I had to have the yarn by July if I was going to get a sweater done in time for cold weather, but was honestly getting a bit nervous because I hadn't found anything that really spoke to me. Several weeks ago, on a now-rare trip to the yarn store, I decided to check out the Kathmandu Aran to see if they had any colors I liked. I found this one on the top shelf, and fell instantly in love with it's subtle browns and greys.

Now I just need to get to work....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

More-More, Please?



I'm all done now!

The first bag is for my friend Jenn, who is generously helping me out this summer with some much needed babysitting.
The red bag is a second bag for me, just because I wanted two.
The oval handles were considerably easier to work with than the round handles I used for the first bag. So much so that if I decide to make any more of these (and the Princess pointed out that I should make one for another close knitting friend) I will definitely look for oval handles.
Also, I did make one minor modification to the pattern. Instead of using the center of each towel to line them up for the first seams, I used the center of the inside towel - the one that attaches to the handles - and offset the outside towel so that there would be a more generous chunk of material left over when I trimmed the sides. This gives you enough fabric left over to make a matching accessory bag!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

We're Perplexed

The Green Woman and I are not quite sure where this one came from.

I know how to sew, but I choose not to. I just don't like it, despite many, many attempts to learn to love such a useful craft. The Green Woman never even tries to push me in that direction, as she feels it would be a complete waste of her time.

Sewing in general, and quilting in particular, are my mother's specialty. She's very talented and creative, even though she doesn't think she is. She would never say so, but I think she is disappointed that I didn't turn out to love the sewing machine as much as she does.


Pattern: Towels With A Twist, by Amy McIntire
Source: Better Homes & Gardens Quilting, August 08
Materials: two tea towels, and two bamboo handles
Extras: Mom's ultra-cool sewing machine that does fancy stitches

Last Wednesday the girls and I drove to my parents' home for a visit. As usual, I was fully prepared for whatever handwork might strike my fancy. Yes, the amount I pack for a three day visit is completely ridiculous. You try living with the Green Woman.

Yesterday morning I found myself lazily leafing through Mom's quilting magazines. To my surprise, I fell head over heals in love with this bag. I don't know that I intended to actually make it - certainly not so soon - but the towels and handles materialized rather randomly during some errands, and then Mom offered to let me use her spiffy new Bernina. The pattern is definitely a beginner pattern, and I didn't have to rely on Mom for a thing. (Well, I did need her for a few details on the operation of said spiffy Bernina. It's a tad intimidating.) In just under two hours I had my new summer knitting bag, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process!

To be sure, there are lots of things I could do to improve upon my bag. Mom gave me a whole list of them when I had finished. The sleeve around the handles needs to be narrower, for one, and the seam that forms the bottom of the bag is ever so slightly crooked on one side. I'm not going to change it, though. For once in my life I'm going to set aside my perfectionism and just enjoy the bag as is. After all, it is a beginner project, and everyone has to start somewhere! Besides, sewing will never be my forte, and I'll make myself nuts if I try to fix all of the details.
Do you hear that wild, crazy cheering in the background? The Green Woman just peeked over my shoulder, and is very, very happy about that plan. She thinks the bag is perfect just as it is.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Turning The Corner

Last night I finally, FINALLY finished the first side of my Sunrise Scarf. (In the background, please imagine you can hear Monty Python's chorus "And there was Great rejoicing. Yay.") I started this project just after Christmas, imagining that it would be a quick and easy knit. I was wrong. It's been a tad tedious, despite the fact that I adore the yarn and greatly admire the pattern.

The good news is that I now have enough done on this scarf to be feeling excited about it again. While technically I'm not quite half way yet, I feel like I'm on the downward slope. For me, that's a good place to be because I tend to pick up steam and fly through the rest of a project when I feel that way.

I must be on a roll, because this afternoon I finished the lower body of the Pixie's sweater. I will divide it for the front and back this evening, and can't wait to see what it looks like!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Distractions

Yes, I've been knitting.

No, not as much as I normally do.

Why?

This

My head's been firmly buried in this book for the last three days. I finished it a little while ago, thanks to two happy little girls who mercifully kept themselves occupied all morning.

Sigh.

Until I had children I regularly lost myself in books, as the boxes and boxes of books in our basement will bear witness to. It was not unusual for me to go through two to three full-length novels/week. Back when I was a child I had teachers who refused to believe that I read as much as I did, and I was more often than not in trouble for reading too much. In college it became obvious that an English degree was the only thing that made sense for me - practical or not. Books were my joy, my escape, my entertainment, my everything...

I miss that part of myself deeply. Only rarely do I allow myself to sink back into my old bookish habits - mostly because it's almost difficult for me to function outside of the book when I'm truly enmeshed in its pages. I have a life, and children, and thus can't afford the luxury of that type of escape.

It's not all bad, though. I now only read the things I truly love, and freely allow myself to stop reading a book part way through if I decide I don't like it for some reason. That's rather freeing, and I find that I enjoy my infrequent book journeys all the more for it.

Ah well.

Now I can get back to knitting!

Oh...and spinning too....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Convention Knitting

I had the privilege over this last weekend of attending the Missouri State Chapter P.E.O. Convention. I am currently serving in my first year as president of my chapter, and as this is the first time I've been president it was also my first trip to convention. I'm a second generation P.E.O., and so this was a very big deal for me.

True to form, the first thing I packed was my knitting bag, and, as wonderful as the weekend was in many ways, I wound up being very grateful that I had taken it along.

For starters, I did a really dumb thing. I managed to forget to eat lunch before I left on Friday, and had not had a substantial breakfast. By the time I arrived at the hotel - after a three hour drive - I was more than a little bit cranky. I had a couple of hours to kill before the official start of convention, so I holed up in my hotel room to work on this:
This is about five inches of the Pixie's Ripples In Time sweater. It was exactly what I needed to work off my jitters and my bad attitude.

I also took along my Jeweled Step socks, which came out during a very long luncheon on Saturday. I had worked frantically on them last week to get them up past the heel so that all I had to do was the leg. I managed almost an inch and a half during that luncheon....and I'm not sure I would have stayed awake if I hadn't had that sock to work on!