Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Projects, FO's and Some Art

As you might have guessed from the title, there have been a few things going on around here. Lots of little stuff, but lots of little stuff makes up one decent sized blog post, I think.

So, to start with, I did go ahead and cast on for some new projects, finishing a couple this week. I still have the Kiri Shawl and Vest, in about the same place I left them last. Hopefully I will get to them soon, but not for now because there are other things going on. For example, a couple more dishcloths. These are in addition to the couple I mentioned last week, of which the pictures stank.

I rather like the round one. It is the Pinwheel dishcloth. The other is from the "Page a day" knitting calendar for this year, September 24. Don't tell me you don't look ahead and pick out things to make before the actual day on the calendar page? Anyway, it has a sun design knit into it, which of course you can not tell from this picture. Trust me though, it is nice and peppy on this dark, gray day.

The next finished object is a hat I started and completed in a couple of hours on Sunday.Pattern: Noro Kureyon One-Ball Wavy Gravy Hat, Yarn: Kraemer Mauch Chunky

When my mom saw the hats I recently made for the girls, she said "You know, I wouldn't be opposed to having one of those myself". Since my mom has never asked me to make her a thing, I felt the urge to make one right away. I did modify the pattern a bit though.

First, I was out of single skeins of Noro and wanted to use something from the stash. Second, Mom's head is a bit larger than average. This meant that while I can comfortably wear the hat I made for A., mom cannot. So, I decided to make her hat with a chunky weight yarn, but kept the number 0f cast-on stitches the same. I did only complete 6 repeats instead of 9, but otherwise, it's the same as all of the others. Purple is her favorite color too, so I think she will be pleased.

I also finished my last square for the "Great American Afghan". It definitely does not photograph well, so you'll just have to trust me when I say I think it looks pretty good. My final count on the afghan squares is 4. I learned something with each one and really enjoyed them. I can't remember if I mentioned that RaNaye has asked me to teach the classes for her shop on the squares I knit. I think that will be fun.

I have cast on for one other project which is still in the works. It is the "Diamonds and Pearls Shawl" from The Knitter's Book of Yarn. I picked up the book last week because I had been hearing rave reviews about it and I have to say, it is really great. The fiber info in the book is really interesting and the patterns are wonderful! I think I have earmarked about 15 that I want to make, which must be a new record for me!

As I was flipping through the book though, the Diamonds and Pearls Shawl really caught my attention. Then I saw that it was made with a single skein of Art Yarns' "Silk Rhapsody". I just happen to have 1 skein of said yarn that has been burning a hole in my stash. Here is a picture to remind you:

I bought it on my trip to Washington in November with Katrina and Robert.

This is how far I have gotten in just a couple of hours:

It is going to be a really fast knit. It doesn't hurt that it is an incredibly dreamy knitting experience. I don't usually favor yarns with mohair, but I LOVE this yarn! I think the final shawl is going to be pretty small, but it will make a very lovely scarf, so I am not concerned.

Finally, as a reward for reading this far, I am going to treat you to a lovely piece of art my 4 year old gave me today:

The description goes something like this: "That's a picture of you mommy, with a hat on so that the wind doesn't blow your hair off. That thing next to you is a bucket, full of raspberries. On the other side is a bush with raspberries. And the purple house is ours and the blue one is the neighbors." Don't you just love it! I'm looking forward to those sunny raspberry days!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Defeat the Winter Doldrums Topic of the Week

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I recently decided to join the "Defeat the Winter Doldrums" Swap. As part of the swap, the hosts post a weekly discussion topic, which participants can choose to respond to on their blog. I usually have plenty to talk about on my blog, so don't find myself participating in these weekly topics too often. However, this week's was something I was considering writing about already, so I decided to go ahead and participate.

The topic is: "There are many people who ADORE receiving hand-knit or crochet items; but there are just as many who have no appreciation whatever of how much love, work, and time goes into a hand-made item. Share a story of a hand-made gift you gave to someone and how it worked out - good, bad, or ugly!"

I have two stories I have been thinking about sharing, each falling on a different end of the spectrum.

First, when I gave my sister the "Kimono Shawl" I knit her for Christmas, her reaction was better than I could have hoped it would be. She was so excited about it that she teased she was thinking about sleeping with it under her pillow but was afraid she would snag it. She really liked the silk! She then proudly took it to her knitting group the next week to show to all of her buddies and wore it to church the following day. She has been enjoying it and will happily tell anyone who will listen "My sister knit this for me!" The only hard part about this for me is that it makes me want to knit just for her, as well as my husband's friends who also love hand-knits.

On the other extreme, I have another family member who has done things like offer me scarves knit by another family member so I can "take them apart and use the yarn". I have refused, knowing the person who had just knit them for her put a lot of thought and time into their creation. She has also specifically asked me to knit her hats on a couple of occasions, that she has then later offered back to me for my kids because they "just don't work for her".

The worst though was when a friend knit her a gorgeous lace shawl and she asked me to "take it apart and make a smaller one". Again, I refused and explained that the person who had made it for her put a lot of time and effort into it. I also said that if she didn't like it she should find a good home for it, but she should not ask another knitter to destroy someone else's work.

I certainly do not advocate keeping something you don't like, even if it is lovingly handmade for you. However, don't involve me in it and certainly don't ask me to destroy it! Needless to say, I do not knit for this person any longer.

I feel funny writing about this as it sounds so negative. It has been an on-going issue though that bugs me every time it comes up! If I can't complain about it to my blog, who can I complain about it to, right? I'll just keep knitting for my sister and I'll be much happier.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Trouble with Trolls

Since I still have nothing exciting to show on the knitting front, today I will share another of my favorite children's books with you. If you're here just for the knitting, you can skip this post.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned a book by Jan Brett called "The Hat". It is very well loved by my girls, as is her book "The Mitten". As with all of Jan Brett's books, they are well written with beautiful illustrations. Best of all, gorgeous knitted items feature prominently in both.

Recently I came across another of her books on one my trips to the Goodwill. This one is called "The Trouble with Trolls" and it might just be my favorite. I like it so much that I have decided to keep it with my "special" books for now. After all, how can you go wrong with a book that has both trolls and beautiful hand knit Scandinavian clothing?

You'll note that this is a "Scholastic" version. I'm fine with that since I collect these books purely for my own amusement and not as any sort of an investment. It doesn't hurt that I can usually find these soft bound versions for about $0.49! As I have said many times, I sure do love Goodwill. In Portland, it can be a real treasure trove. This story is about a girl who lives somewhere in an Alpine region. She ends up having her dog taken by a pack of trolls and then has to outsmart the trolls in order to retrieve her beloved pet.

She uses all of her gorgeous hand knit garments as bargaining chips for the return of her dog, then in the end tricks the trolls so that she gets back all of her garments and her dog. Really a fun little story, but the pictures are my favorite part of this book.
As with all of Jan Brett's books, there is so much going on in each page, not just in the main illustration, but in the illios around the edges too. They actually fill the reader in a bit on the trolls' story, showing their longing for a dog and the great amount of preparation they do so that the dog will be comfortable. It almost makes you sad for the trolls.

Unlike some of my other books, this one should be easily accessible. I highly recommend checking it out next time you're at the library or in the children's section of your local bookstore.

Life with a 2 1/2 year old

My little V. is a wonderful, interesting and often very frustrating person. She is, after all, 2 1/2. In order to keep my sanity, I try to write down the particularly sweet and funny things she does and says. I wanted to note a few here, so they are recorded for posterity and I can look back on them when I need a little lift.

1. When I returned from my recent trip, not only did she insist on sleeping with me the first night, she actually slept on me. I think she wanted to make sure I didn't take off again while she was asleep!
2. She is a later sleeper than everyone else in the family. When she wakes up in the morning, she shouts as loudly as she can "I'm awake!". The expected response is for everyone else to come into her room and greet her. If we don't, we hear "I'm awake" with lots of emphasis repeated until we do.
3. She came running up to me the other day and said "Mommy, my bottom burped". I love that!

OK, back to the regularly scheduled knitting.

Current WIPs:

-Kiri Shawl - not much further along than the last picture - I am nearly done with the 5th repeat of chart 2. What a treat this project is, I love that Malabrigo!
-Basic vest for hubby- includes "acres of stockinette". The back is complete, front just started. This was my knitting for the many hours spent in the booth at TNNA.
-Great American Afghan Squares - I completed one this week, but forgot to take a picture before turning it into the shop. Not sure it would have photographed well anyway. Another is nearly complete. That should be the end of my contribution to this project. Hopefully I can get a picture of the final afghan when it is complete. I saw the original at TNNA and it was inspirational.
-Dishcloths - I knit 2 late last week, but the pictures did not turn out well - too dark. I will be knitting more soon for the dishcloth swap I am participating in.

So, not much interesting to look at here. As usual, I have 800 (or so) projects I want to start. However, I usually try to stick to a few until they are done. We'll see how long that lasts...

Friday, January 18, 2008


Last night was the January knitting guild meeting, which is always one of the best of the year, I think. Each year the Program Chairs for our guild select a "theme of the year", then guild members knit items that relate to that theme in some way. At the January meeting we all present our theme items, them vote on whose we all liked the best.

The theme for 2007 was "Knitting in Toy Land". What a great theme! We had excellent participation from the guild members and a huge variety of toys. We had a unicorn, fairies, several dolls complete with wardrobes, a beaver, an alien with his space ship, a jellyfish and all manner of other critters. My fav was the gorgeous patchwork dragon one member made from scrap yarn. He was so colorful and soft!

My contribution was this sad little owl.
Pattern: Edmund the Owl, Yarn: Mystery brown wool from the stash and some scraps

My husband actually says he thinks this little guys looks scary. I kind of like him, but perhaps in a "only his mother could love him" kind of way. Anyway, I did not win, but had a great time participating.

On the theme of knitted toys, my sister has been on a felted hedgehog kick of late and made these little beauties for the girls for Christmas.

They are so soft and really cute. The girls love them. Of course, they have "The Hat" by Jan Brett, so all things "Hedgie" are in vogue around here. I have received a request to knit a "hat" for hedgie (a stranded sock for those not familiar with the book). We'll see if that happens any time soon... This is a really cute book, by the way, as are all of Jan Brett's books. Lots of beautiful knitted garments!

Getting back to the theme of the year, we found out that the theme for next year is something like "Colorful Knitting" or "Adding Color to your Knitting". Hmmm, you think I'll have time to whip out an Alice Starmore before next January? Just kidding...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Defeat the Winter Doldrums" Dishcloth Swap Questionnaire

I had such a good time with the "Fall Into Autumn" Dishcloth Swap that I decided to sign up for the Winter round. Below is my completed questionnaire:

1. Do you knit, crochet, or do both? Knit only

2. What types of needles do you enjoy using for making dishcloths? Usually size 7 straight needles. Actually, in the last round my partner sent me a really nice package containing three sets of straight needles (sizes 6, 7, 8). I think these have been in constant rotation since they arrived and are perfect for knitting dishcloths.

3. What types of cotton do you enjoy using for making dishcloths? Is there any that you've been wanting to try? I like Peaches and Creme the best.

4. What color(s) are your kitchen and bath decorated in (if any)? Kitchen: bright yellow and dark red, Bathroom #1: dark blue and white, Bathroom #2: lavender and white (not by choice, when we bought the house, we inherited a 40 year old lavender bathtub with it)

5. What are your favorite colors for yarns? Least favorite? I love dark, bright colors, especially jewel tones. My favorite colors are blues, purples and greens. I am less attracted t0 pastels and especially don't like peach.

6. Do you like Winter, or do you count the days until it ends? I do like Winter. I love to get out my warm clothes and snuggle in front of the fireplace. However, in Oregon it is usually pretty gray for most of the Winter, so I do get a little tired of it from time to time.

7. What's your favorite way to brighten your day when you're down in the dumps? With small children I find I have far fewer of those "down in the dumps" kind of days. If I start to feel that way I just spend some time with them and I always feel better. Their outlook is always so fresh that it gives me a new perspective.

8. What is your favorite treat to indulge in and when your down in the dumps? Dark chocolate, yummy baked goods.

9. Do you drink coffee? Tea? Cocoa? I do not drink coffee. I never acquired the taste. I do love tea though and drink it daily. I love all kinds of tea but seem to be on a green tea kick at the moment. I also indulge in cocoa on occasion.

10. If you could take a vacation starting tomorrow and go anywhere for one week and money were no object, where would you go and what would you do? Hmmm, this is a great question. What a great opportunity for a little afternoon day dreaming! I have a friend who just returned from Scandinavia, which sounds like a great place to visit- although perhaps not in Winter. If I'm leaving tomorrow, I think I'd rather go someplace warm, like Jamaica or Barbados.

11. Do you have any allergies or aversions your pal should be aware of? I am very allergic to tree nuts. Also, I do not like strong artificial scents - so scented candles, for example, are not a good choice for me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Well, I've been away for awhile, haven't I? I have a good excuse though. I have been at TNNA with Chrissy. I never talked about it beforehand here on the blog. Hmmm, perhaps I'd better go back and start at the beginning.

My friend Chrissy has been marketing her independent pattern line called Gardiner Yarn Works for some time now. She has also been getting published in Interweave Knits quiet a bit and is starting to really get some good name recognition going. So, she decided the timing was right to purchase some booth space for TNNA and see how it would go.

She asked me to help and I said sure. I have enjoyed helping her a little bit with sales and thought it would be a great chance to get a peak inside of a TNNA show.

Since the show was in Long Beach I ended up deciding to head down a few days early to spend some time with friends of mine in Los Angeles. In total, I was away from home for 8 days, the longest since I became a mother! I love my children so much, but boy was it nice to get a break and be just a grown-up for a few days!

Anyway, back to TNNA. Here is a picture of Chrissy's booth. Unfortunately it's not a great picture, but you get the idea. She purchased a half booth, which was just the right size for this time. I think the plan is to get a full size booth next time.

Overall, it seems the show was pretty successful for her. We picked up some good clients and made lots of contacts. It would have been great if she had been an instant, huge success, but really she did pretty well for her first show and will, I think, do even better next time.

My impressions of TNNA are that it is huge, as I had expected. One thing that did surprise me was that there were about equal numbers of needle point and yarn related booths. I had no idea needle point was such a big deal. Some of the hand painted canvases were amazing!

It was also a real trip to see and meet so many people who are famous in the knitting world. Since Chrissy is getting to be somewhat well known and is on the board of the Association of Knitwear Designers, she knows a lot of these people and many would just stop by the booth the say "hi".

I have debated whether to drop a few names or not and think I will. Why not - it's my blog, right? I met Eunny Yang, Debbie Stoller, Margaret Fisher, Cookie A., Kim Werker, Clara Parks, Shannon Oakey, Susan and Jill Wolcott, Chris de Longpre of Knitting at Knoon, Cat Bordhi, Annie Modesitt and the lovely Casey and Jessica from Ravelry. I also met tons of "up and coming" folks who were delightful, some other folks who I'm sure are "famous" but whose names I did not recognize and many wonderful shop owners and buyers.

Actually, here is a picture from the dinner Chrissy and I had with Casey and Jessica from Ravelry. They were so nice, they even paid for dinner! Thanks again Jess and Casey! The other woman in the picture is another up and coming designer named Keri McIntyre. I just realized I don't think I have ever posted a picture of myself on my blog. For the one or two of you who don't know me in "real life", I am the one in the middle on the right. Boy I look goofy in that picture!

Overall, it was a fantastic trip. I hope to get to go again with Chrissy in June, but we'll see what the hubby says. It is nice to be home though.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Busy Bee

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Holiday. I did, although it was particularly quiet this year. We went over to my sister's house, in the middle of Oregon, for a late Christmas visit. Lots of snow and good family fun. It's good to be home though!

Because of the snow, the drive was even longer than normal, which left me with lots of car knitting time. I love car knitting time! My husband gets car sick if he even thinks about reading in the car, but I can knit or read all day long. The best part is that I don't even have to feel guilty about not waiting on the kids hand and foot because they have to be strapped into their car seats and I can't really reach them from the front. Sigh. Yes, car knitting is lovely.

My car knitting this time was particularly productive. The first thing I finished was the hat I mentioned starting in my last post.

Pattern: Noro Kureyon One Ball Wavy Gravy Hat, Yarn: Noro Kureyon, colorway 153

This pattern is super easy and the size is very flexible. I knit this one in the suggested gauge and ended up with a hat that fits my 4 year old, but that also fits my big old head. As a matter of fact, I liked it so much, I knit another.

Pattern: Same, Yarn: Plymouth Boku, colorway 2

This yarn is a little thinner than the Kureyon, so I knit this one on size 7 needles instead of 8. As you can see, it fits my 2 year old really well, but again will stretch to fit my head, although it is a bit more of a beanie on me than the other one.

On the way back, I decided to give mittens a go. I found "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" at Goodwill while I was in Central Oregon, so ended up using its mitten pattern.

Pattern: Mittens from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, Yarn: Crystal Palace Fjord, colorway Circus

Overall, not too shabby. Last week I picked up this yarn because I loved the colors. It's also really soft and makes lovely mittens.

Again, I liked the results so much, I decided to do it again. These are the next size up for the next size up girl.

Pattern: Same as above, Yarn: Same as above but colorway Violets

Lest you think I am some super-human, super-fast knitter, here are some points to consider:

  1. The hats require remarkably few cast on stitches.
  2. The mittens are for very tiny hands.
  3. I finished the mittens at home.
  4. If I was looking at my knitting, I was not looking at the icy, snowy roads. Since I hate icy, snowy roads, looking at my knitting was encouraged.

Next I plan to sew a ribbon on the mittens that can be threaded through the girls' coat sleeves. If I don't I can just about bet that we would be down at least one mitten by the end of the week.

Did anyone else have mittens with a cord connecting them that ran through their coat sleeves? My grandmother always did this with the mittens she made for us when we were little. I remember it being really itchy though, so I thought ribbon might be a little nicer. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, as I mentioned above, we had late Christmas with my sister last weekend and I received a very exciting gift.

I had never heard of this book, but I have to say that it is fantastic! It contains a great history of all knitting from the Ara Islands, with some excellent pictures and patterns. My sister found this at the Goodwill too. Lucky me!

My husband has really been enjoying this one too. Unfortunately for me, rather than getting excited about the Ganseys, which is what I am thinking about making for him, he is more interested in the Fair Isle stuff. He actually said he wants me to knit this vest for him.

This picture doesn't really show the fact that this is 6 colors of really tiny yarn. Not too bad though, I suppose. I'll put it on the list...way down on the list, but on the list...