Saturday, December 31, 2011

FO: Fear of Commitment Cowl

And now we come to the end of the holiday knitting madness.

Given what I'd started, I had to add a knit gift for my sister — especially since she's the only one of the crew who's done any knitting. I'm nothing if not a planner (and deadline driven, in case you haven't yet figured that out), so I'd wisely purchased enough Malabrigo to make this wrap for her.

Pattern: Fear of Commitment Cowl by Julie Weisenberger
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted (Red Mahogany)

In case anyone needs to know this for future reference — not that I'm advocating for that madness — this wrap can be completed in a couple of days. It also makes good airplane knitting.

FOs: Malabrigo Loafers

Somewhere between finishing the Transverse cardigan and knitting a pile of monster parts, I sort of lost my mind. That's really the only explanation I can come up with for why it seemed wise to plan more holiday knitting at the end of November. 

Um, yeah...

So I grabbed the Malabrigo and cast on slippers for my father and brother-in-law. Since it was only after I'd purchased the yarn that I got the pattern, I didn't realize that short rows were involved. So, yes, I unwittingly queued up a new skill test for myself just to add to the Christmas frenzy. As I said, sort of lost my mind.

Pattern: Malabrigo Loafers by Julie Weisenberger
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted (Marine & Red Mahogany)

Once I'd committed to the project, though, I went all in and decided to knit sole inserts for both pairs. If you're going to wear Malabrigo on your feet, why not make it extra cushy? Both pairs were finished before we left New Mexico, but I didn't get a chance to photograph the second one until we were in MN (hence the crappy shot on flannel sheets).

FO: Monster Mania

I had so much fun making the Penelope Sisters that I decided to create another grouping, this time for my nieces and nephews. Since all four are under the age of 5, I went the practical route on the yarn. There's just something so cute (at least to me) about super-sized monsters for little kids, so I chose super bulky.

Pattern: Penelope the Empathetic Monster by Rebecca Danger
Yarn: Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (Sky Blue, Lemongrass, Fig)

They we a big hit — not that you'd exactly know that from this I Love Lucy attempt at a group photo.

FO: Taos Transverse

The only thing I've been working on longer than this now finally finished cardigan is the Moderne Log Cabin... and that's a blanket, so much more deserving of the extended timeframe.

I'm very happy to announce that it was finished in time to make it under the tree for my mother.

Pattern: Transverse Cardigan by Ann Weaver
Yarn: Hand-dyed yarn from 2010 Taos Wool Festival

Good thing she liked it enough to be willing to pose for the FO photos. Izzy helped with the photoshoot so she gets the credit/blame for the final goofy pose. And, yep, that's Northern Minnesota in late December — just barely enough snow to call it a White Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Lots of Christmas knitting to unveil here in the next week or so (after it's all been opened). But in the meantime wanted to send out quick holiday wishes from mine to yours. May your days be merry and bright!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

FO: Tweedy Cowl

Waste not, want not? Well, maybe want less. Loved the yarn used for the Penelope "sisters," so I  was happy to discover I had enough green left over for this small infinity scarf/cowl.

Pattern: Nederland Circle Scarf by Cecily Glowik
Yarn: Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed in Forest Green

This is the time of year when I really start appreciating Albuquerque — chilly days with fading leaves instead of falling snow. Perfect Thanksgiving weather.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

FO: Nightfall Woodsmoke

Nothing like 200+ yards of edging to chisel away at a lingering anxiety about knitting lace.

Pattern: Woodsmoke Scarf by Jared Flood
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Fingering (Cosmos & Robot)

I bought the yarn back in January with a holiday gift card, knowing that I wanted to knit this scarf. I then proceeded to keep looking at the pattern in Brave New Knits... and keep wimping out. Finally my desire for the finished object won out.

Now the anxiety and delay the lace caused seems pretty laughable. (It's a mere 8-row repeat over 5 stitches!) The hardest part was figuring out how to join it to the caterpillar created by picking up all 632 stitches in the perimeter.

After that, watching the lace edging grow and the scarf unfurl was really fun — and went too fast. Wait...  Who'd have ever thought I'd say 200+ yards of lace went too fast?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

FO: Monster Mash

My finishing plans for the knitted monsters got derailed last weekend by my own little monsters. And, to be fair, my growing addiction to Pinterest is also partly to blame. It seems Halloween is approaching Christmas in this house in terms of build up and activities.

Along with trying out Ghost Cupcakes (and a half-dozen other Halloween-themed foods), last weekend Izzy's school had its first Monsters on the Mesa fundraising event, complete with a 1K costume parade for the kids and dogs. Dorothy & Toto were reprised, but this time with a wig. (Note: I've long since expected to get a shot of both looking at the camera at the same time.)

But this weekend, thanks to a light activity load (and that extra precious hour), both monsters were assembled and photographed. Here they are before the purple one heads off to MN tomorrow to a good friend's daughter who is like a sister to Izzy (who's hanging on to the other one).

Pattern: Penelope the Empathetic Monster by Rebecca Danger
Yarn: Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed
(Forest Green & Grape)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Monsters and Scarves and UFOs, Oh My!

There's been lots of knitting lately — between Izzy's skating lessons and her twice-weekly OT/Brain Training sessions, I've managed to squeeze in a remarkable amount of  "out and about" needle time. Concentrated, at-home finishing time? Seemingly impossible to find. Evidence:

A. Woodsmoke Scarf that only needs a half-dozen kitchener stitches (yes, I still fear them) and blocking
B. Tweedy Cowl that needs, geez, four ends woven in and blocking
C. Two Penelope Monsters that have been blocked and stuffed and only need assembling
D. Most shameful of all, a Transverse Cardigan that needs 1-1/2 side seams and buttons sewn on (and that's been at this state for nearly a year)

To motivate myself this weekend to finish up at least the monsters (one of which is now an overdue birthday present), I've set that finishing as a hurdle for casting on a Chadwick with the two skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts I splurged and ordered recently (Mallard and Chestnut). Seriously, folks, the colors of this yarn are even more stunning in person. 

My plan has one major flaw, though. I have 1-1/2 hours of lobby time tomorrow evening during Izzy's OT session. And no way, no how can I sit there without any knitting. Looks like I have a Scarflette to cast on... Make that re-cast on. (But that's a story for another day.)

PSA, Fellow Knitters: Tanis just launched a line of Merino-Cashmere-Silk yarn, and she's giving away a skein with a pattern she designed. Enter before Halloween! (And any family looking for Christmas ideas, consider this a big-ole-hint! ;-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FOs: One for Izzy, One for Me

It took several months, but I've recovered from the heartbreak of Izzy having lost the first skating sweater I made her. Yep, you read that right. Best we can figure, it went MIA at either the ice rink or school in April. But since it never showed up in either's Lost & Found, I've consoled myself by fabricating a story about how it's being worn and loved by some little girl somewhere. Some little girl who sleeps in it and never lets it out of her sight.

So when I agreed to cast on another sweater for Izzy, it came with a sworn promise that she would not lose this one. (And the acknowledgement that if she did, there would be nadda handknits for her for years to come.)

Pattern: Purl Stripe Cardigan by Amy Polcyn
Yarn: Alice Starmore Scottish Heather (Aubretia), Noro Iro (111)

It also seemed wise to go stash diving for the yarn. In the end, I ended up frogging a half-finished Tweedy Pie coat I'd started for Izzy when she was three — even at that small size, it was more Seed Stitch (1000-some yards) than I could stomach. The yarn is this amazing heathered purple with bits of violet and pink that's not done justice by my photos. It also proved to be one of those yarns that change texture completely (from stiff and kind of scratchy to almost fuzzy soft) after blocking.

This is my first attempt at a yoke cardigan, which had me quite nervous before the blocking. The fact that I'd pushed the purl stripes by selecting a slightly bulkier yarn than what was in the pattern certainly didn't help. In the end, I'm reasonably satisfied with the result — the button band is just a bit wavy, but I'm hoping that will straighten out with wear. I'd also done the math to size up two-inches around to make it bigger than the largest size in the pattern. And while it's a bit big now, given how fast Izzy's growing, I was happy to see that.

To get the color sequencing I wanted, I had to dip into the second skein of Iro I bought for the project. But that left me with nearly a full skein to play with. And who could resist digging through Ravelry to find just the perfect pattern to use up the rest of that glorious rainbow yardage?

Pattern: Mega Cabled Scarf by Marie Connolly
Yarn: Noro Iro (111)

Gotta say, I'm as happy with this extra knit as I am with Izzy's sweater. Now for fall to arrive in Albquerque...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FO: Deep Waters Clockwork

You know life is a little too bustling when the kid asks to stay home and chill on a three-day weekend.

So after our back-to-back Saturday commitments and the usual weekend chores, we spent the rest of Labor Day weekend watching movies — Rio (meh) and Rango (fun) — and hanging out at the pool.

And, no surprise, there was lots of knitting. With "Deep Waters" and "Mermaid Lagoon" as the yarn color names, this third in my West Knits collection just begged for a poolside shot. And since it was such a relaxing knit, a shot in the Zen Garden.

Pattern: Clockwork by Stephen West
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal and Imagination Hand Painted

And, as you've no doubt come to expect, there needed to be a few Izzy modeling shots as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

For the Love of Pete (aka First FO)

Thanks to Julie at Knitted Bliss, I discovered Pinterest a few months back —and have since spent many hours on my new "online happy place." The site is an endless source of inspiration for leisurely browsing and a quick way to reset the writing/editing mind (sort of a visual sorbet course).

Yet of the many delightful things I've stumbled upon there, this is my hands-down favorite. Those '70s head scarves? Straight from the Learn to Knit book my grandmother bought me back in grade school. And the item I most wanted to knit. While I labored on my practice swatches of knit and purl, I pondered the flowers vs. stripes question.

But Grandma Doris had other ideas... And the yarn money. She showed up with two denim-y skeins of acrylic and insisted that I make the pair of slippers in the book. It would teach me increasing and decreasing. And, yes, I did argue that both were needed to make the head scarf, but in vain. Grandma D. was one tough cookie. So I knit the first slipper.

And looking back at it now these 35-odd years later (have I mentioned my pack rat tendencies?), my first reaction  borrows Grandma D's favorite exclamation, "For the love of Pete! Her fixation on my finger-threaded tension really paid off." I mean, seriously. Just look at those stitches. Amazingly even for a 10-year-old's first project.

Given the clearly unworn slipper shown above, you can probably guess that I never knit the second one. In my mind, I'd proved I could make an FO, and I wanted yarn for that head scarf. To Grandma D., the job was half done — and not to be rewarded. And so the impasse began. (Did I mention that we're both Tauruses? In fact, if I'd had the decency to wait another 3 hours, we would have shared a birthday.)

I didn't pick up knitting needles again another 12 years. Yet since then, I've never really put them down. Thanks, Grandma!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturated Summer

Hard not to notice a theme looking down at the projects on my needles:  a rainbow of color, the brighter, the better. Extra points for watery blues. Not really that surprising given how hot and dry it's been here this summer. Everything seems edged in dusty brown. And given the amount of wool I've been handling — including Aran and Bulky weight — clearly I'm ready for the next two seasons.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

FO: Slightly Carnivorous Herbivore

Pattern: Herbivore by Stephen West

I've never really been a shawl person. Then I discovered Stephen West and his unisex designs. Nothing grandmotherly about them.

First up was the Pagona I knit a few months ago. Now the Herbivore. I love the texture of the twisted stitches, but must confess there were times I didn't enjoy the knitting. It's too intricate given the fingering weight yarn to be good TV/movie knitting. Yet, it's just mindless/tedious enough to not be fun to knit for long stretches. If it weren't for several sessions of "Knit Group of 2" with Jane while the girls were ice skating/hanging out in the pool, I might not have finished it for quite awhile. It proved perfect for rambling chats where you know the other person well enough that you don't feel rude making infrequent eye contact.

Also of huge help was the KPPPM yarn: so soft, so squishy, such interesting color combinations that it was fun to watch the rows take shape. I was so worried after coming up short on yardage with the Pagona that I bought 3 skeins at the outset. I ended up using just shy of two. Now what to do with the other skein? It's too lovely to return.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hats, Hats, CIF Hats

I'm happy to report that I'm done with my Craft It Forward projects, not that I didn't have fun with all of them. It was a great chance to knit some items I'd had my eye on, and the last one gave me a chance to do some basic colorwork before I launch into the Fiddlehead Mitts I chose as one of my 2011 knitting goals.

The happiness comes more from being able to cross something off my master to-do list (the one that lives in my mind mostly, and is always more ambitious than time and life warrant). First up was a sweet little hat I loved the moment I saw it. But I also knew that it would not be flattering on me. I do think it will suit Jessi, but if not, she need never tell me. And since we no longer work together (she's in MN) she doesn't even have to pretend to wear it this coming winter.

Pattern: gwynedd hat by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
Yarn: KnitPicks Merino Style (silver)

Not being a Dr. Who fan, I don't fully appreciate the allure of this hat. However, I do know that Kristin has been talking about my teaching her to knit for about two years now just so that she could own one. That's fangirl dedication. Realistically, it's hardly a starter project, but it was a good starter colorwork project for me.

Pattern:  (re)TARDIS Hat by Jen Bruck
Yarn: KnitPicks Shine Worsted (French blue, white, black)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Harry Potter Friday!

Here's a quick post I've been meaning to write all week... We're big Harry Potter fans in this house. While I read the first book not so long after it came out — and saw the first movie with some friends, including Brenda and her kids, the oldest of which is now a sophomore in college — I decided to wait to read the series with Izzy.

We started when Izzy was in kindergarten, and had just finished Sorcerer's Stone when we set off to visit my sister in England over Thanksgiving. Karen, for those who don't know her, is the biggest HP fan I know. She actually did all the paperwork and jumped through all the hoops so she could be selected to take a group of her college art students to Oxford for a semester. So there was no need for us to hire a tour guide, we had the best one all to ourselves. Here she is with Izzy in the Christ Church dining hall that inspired the Great Hall.

Izzy and I finished the Harry Potter series, starting Deathly Hallows just weeks after it was published. But the love affair hardly ended there. At this point, I've lost count of the number of times Izzy has checked out the books and audio books. As for the movies, let's just say our DVR queue holds space for little else...

Two summers ago, right after we'd moved to ABQ, we went to Chicago to see the Harry Potter exhibit, meeting up with Karen and her husband, Dean. Luckily the Weasley's car was located outside of the exhibit, giving us at least one good photo op from the visit. And tucked under Izzy's arm is the Hermione poster that's now the focal point of her room.

Given this history, it seemed absolutely necessary to take today as a vacation day from work. Izzy and I are now headed out for a celebratory breakfast, then off to the theater early to wait in line with our pre-purchased tickets. And (I buried the lead), I've packed a knitting project along for the wait outside and inside the theater. Dumbledore, himself, said it best, "I do love knitting patterns!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday*

*Mother's Day 2 = Izzy's sweet interpretation of Father's Day in our single-parent adoptive family.

Friday, June 17, 2011

FO: Button Tunic

I fell in love with this sweet little tunic the minute I saw it in Brave New Knits. One giant pocket for outdoor collecting? Genius. Problem was the sizing, and sadly the style, no longer suited my soon-to-hit-double-digits daughter.

So I seized my "Craft It Forward" opportunity when a a family member with not one, but two, little girls signed on. The plan was to make it for the oldest, with the thought that it might last as a hand-me-down.

I already had the purple cotton in my stash (purchased for some now-long-forgotten project when Izzy was little). Bought the dark indigo for the contrast, figuring it would make a good (read: dirt-hiding) pocket. I used flower buttons I had on hand and purchased the others, smitten with the tiny little sheep in the center of each.

The Cotton Glace knits up beautifully, but for the first time I understood why some people hate knitting with cotton. My hands required a lot more stretching due to the lack of give. Now that it's been mailed off to the recipient several days ago, figure it's finally safe to blog it. Seeing the photos here, wish I'd made the pocket a bit deeper. But even so, can't you just imagine wildflowers poking out between those buttons?

Pattern: Button Tunic by Julie Weisenberger
Yarn: Rowan Cotton Glace (Lavender & Nightshade)