Monday, December 27, 2010

The new little addition!

Yes, I've done it again...I've once again added to our stuffed animal kingdom. The newest little arrival is our stuffed mouse, knitted from the Lion Brand City Mouse Toy pattern.

I knitted one for our little neighbor across the street, who loved it, and one for my Sweetums. He's been getting acquainted with the other minions:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crochet Pattern for Special Olympics Scarf

At long last, I've finished my Special Olympics scarf! Keeping with the basic guidelines at the site I decided to create my own pattern...

Crochet Pattern for the Special Olympics Scarf

Measurements: 6" wide x 60" long, excluding fringe.

Gauge: Each V group = 3/4", 13 rows = 4.5”
Row gauge is not critical, as the rows are repeated until almost 6” is reached.

1 skein each
Red Heart Supersaver Blue (#0886) - A
Red Heart Supersaver Turqua (#0512) - B
Hook: K (6.50mm)

NOTE: The scarf is worked lengthwise.

Using A, ch 221

Row 1: sc into the 2nd chain from the hook, and then sc across until the end of the row. Fasten off, leaving a long tail, at least 8 inches long (these tails will be part of the fringe). 220 sts.

Row 2: Using B, fasten on and (sc,ch1,dc) in 1 st to form a V, (skip next 2 sts, sv - V stitch - in next st) across to last 3 sts, skip next 2 sts, hdc in last st. Fasten off, leaving a long tail. Should have 73 sv repeats, plus the 1 hdc at the end of the row.

Row 3: Using A, fasten on as a sc in the first stitch, then sv in each ch 1 space across, then hdc in the last stitch. Fasten off, leaving a long tail.

Repeat Row 3, alternating between colors A and B, each time fastening off to leave a tail. When the scarf measures almost 6" wide (ending with A), fasten off, leaving a long tail.

Last Row: Using B, fasten on as hdc, then * (sc,hdc) into the ch 1 space, hdc into next stitch (sc of the previous row, where there is a "dip" in the row). Continue from * until the end of the row. Hdc into the last stitch, and then fasten off, leaving a long tail.

The scarf should now be 6” wide and 60” long.

Cut 12” lengths of both colors of yarn – at least 9 strands of each A and B color.
Taking a strand of A and a strand of B for each fringe grouping, tie a fringe across the ends of the scarf. Incorporate the strands left from the fastening off of each row.

Trim all the ends to be a uniform length.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Yarn Sirens strike again...

The Sirens have really gone and done it now...

I've made a chilling discovery. Not only do the yarn sirens sing their clarion call for me to drop everything in life I'm doing to go "to the yarn the yarn the yarn store..." - they appear to be capable of moving, bending, and shaping the cosmos to accommodate their wishes.

Case in point:

To back this up, I joined an online forum through our Intranet at work. The powers that be in our company created this work forum space as a way for employees to network/chat about actual work.

No one is doing that.

Seriously, no one is going to fritter away their hard-earned lunch breaks sharing about insurance, annuities, and interest rates ("Bob, did you hear that they wanted to make the GAAP Reserve rate 6.5%??? HAHAHAH!!!"). Everyone (except for the actuaries) would go to asleep.

Instead, the current topics for the work forums include sports, children, scrap booking, and yes - KNITTING! Someone in the downtown Home Office (I like to call it "The Mother Ship") decided to start a Knitting and Crocheting forum. It's been very lively lately because they've launched a campaign to have us all knit scarves for Special Olympics. Every year, I miss the deadline for Special Olympics, so this year I decided to have at it. If any of you are interested in knitting a scarf for this worthy cause, this is the website:

Needless to say, this required MORE YARN. I didn't happen to have Red Heart Super Saver 886 Blue or 512 Turqua lying around the house. At work today, the sirens began:

"Go to Michaels...go to Michaels...go to Michaels..."

I argued with the sirens. I explained that I had to leave work today promptly at 4:00 to be on time for my personal training appointment, and that I'd need to put off any shopping until tomorrow.

This is where it starts getting freaky...As I was leaving work, I checked my email on my Blackberry. There was an email from - you guessed it - my personal trainer! She said she was feeling ill and had to leave the gym and did I mind canceling for this week? I was, of course, overjoyed! Then it hit me...the Yarn Sirens! They did it! They moved, bended, and shaped things so that I'd go to Michaels instead of the gym! Unreal!

Gosh, I had another thought...does anyone suppose my personal trainer is sick because SHE'S PREGNANT??? I can't seem to get through a month without having to knit baby things for someone.

You know the Sirens are going to send me back to the store for baby yarn...LOL.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pattern for Stealth Baby Square #1

For our SnB's Stealth Baby Blanket knitting project, here is the pattern I used for the first Baby Square:

Used: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice yarn in Rose Mist (1/2 skein, approx. 72.5 yds)
#9 (5.25 mm) Needles
Gauge: 4 stitches per inch in Stockinette
Square should measure 10" square after completion

Cast on 44 stitches

Begin pattern:

Row 1: k
Row 2: k2, p4 -- repeat to last two stitches, then k2
Row 3: k
Row 4: k2, p4 -- repeat to last two stitches, then k2
Row 5: k2, C4F -- repeat to last two stitches, then k2
Row 6: k2, p4 -- repeat to last two stitches, then k2

Continue this pattern until the piece measures 10".

Bind off (sewn bindoff or bind off in pattern).

With the RS facing you, pick up and knit 38 stitches along the side of the square. Knit two more rows, then bind off.

Repeat for the other side of the square.

Weave in all ends.

Pattern for Stealth Baby Square #2

For our SnB's Stealth Baby Blanket knitting project, here is Square #2:

Used: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice yarn in Rose Mist (1/2 skein, approx. 72.5 yds)
#9 (5.25 mm) Needles
Stitch Marker
Gauge: Just shy of 4 stitches per inch in garter. The gauge is not important, as you will be increasing until you have 10" for each side of the square.

Cast on 2 stitches

Row 1: K
Row 2: Increase in the first stitch, put a stitch marker, then increase in the last stitch.

You should now have 4 stitches on the needle, with a stitch marker after the first 2 (in the middle).


Row 3: K
Row 4: K to one stitch before marker.
Increase in stitch just before the marker (kfb).
Slip marker.
After marker, increase in next stitch (kfb).
K to end of the row.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until each side of the square measures 10". I achieved this with 38 stitches on each side of the marker, but your gauge may vary.

Bind off loosely.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More stealth baby items...

Yes, once again, I’ve been diverted from my Rune Sweater to knit up more stealth baby items. This time, someone from our Stitch ‘n’ B group has decided that it would be a great idea for each of us to knit up some squares to put together for a baby blanket for an acquaintance whose wife is expecting. My fellow SnB-er is from the South, of course. It’s actually been good to get acquainted with someone south of the Mason-Dixon line, as I never realized before just how selfish and narrow so many of us are up north when it comes to reaching out to our fellow humans. Some of us (okay, me) get so caught up in our day-to-day lives, struggles, and general drama, that we forget the basic Golden Rule “Do unto others...”

Now, I can’t say for whom we’re making this blanket, as it’s supposed to be a surprise...

I swear, at this point, I’m really beginning to think that perhaps I should just perpetually have something on the needles--or on the hook--all the time for babies, as women right and left seem to be just dropping them like calves. Lest you think this is original, I get this expression from my dear late aunt “Arnie,” who used to declare in a voice loud enough for the entire restaurant to overhear, “Well, good heavens, when is she going to drop that calf???” Arnie, bless her, had slight control issues, and nothing made her crazier than things not going her way—like people who weren’t having the baby fast enough for her liking or on her timetable—especially a family member. My mother’s nickname for her was “The General.”

I still think there’s something in the water up here in these parts...anyone wanting to drop a calf, or any other form of baby, should just move to CT. I’ll be waiting with the needles and yarn...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hooded Duck Blanket FINALLY Done!

Yes, I'm happy to report I'm finally done with the Hooded Duck Blanket. I used the pattern by Susan Backus Starr.

I initially had a bit of difficulty with this, as the pattern says to knit until you have 150 stitches and then decrease. If you do that, you don't end up with a 35" square. I got gauge, so that wasn't the issue. I ended up adding some extra rows to get the blanket up to 35" - I had enough yarn. I also decided to frog what I'd done so far at that point, as I wasn't wild about how the blanket was looking, doing bar increases. It was causing the sides to tighten up too much. I just did the backyard yarnovers (a la Elizabeth Zimmerman) instead, which worked out beautifully.

I'm happy to report the recipient was thrilled with the final product. I've been telling a fib for months now...I led her to believe that I was knitting this for a coworker. It worked, because she had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA until she opened her present at the shower this past weekend!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Knitting in Technicolor

...or why does my right eye keep twitching???

I've just completed the cuffs of the sleeves for my Rune Sweater. I always like to do the sleeves together, as it makes it easier to keep track of increases and to keep them the same size and gauge.

My morning gripe, though, is about the process of two-color knitting. Some call it "fair isle," although I don't think my pattern quite ascends to that exalted level. I'm actually working with three colors here (navy blue, gold, and silver), but I made sure that I only used two for each row. I decided to keep the sleeves somewhat sedate, and to save the more complicated pattern for the yoke. I just wanted a small bit of accent near the cuff. The whole idea was to make tiny little Thor hammers, but you can't really see that in the design. That's okay...I figure I can refine this a bit more once I get to the yoke.

We have a woman in our SnB group who's just fantastic at two-color knitting. She knits the most beautiful things, and makes the process look effortless. I can never quite master holding a strand of yarn in each hand and knitting with both. I also always screw up and knit either too tightly and end up with a puckered finished product; or too loosely, and end up with weird, baggy stitches that have to be tightened up after the fact. Our expert at the SnB insists that all you have to do is to just make sure you stretch out the stitches on the needle to keep a steady gauge. Well, I'll admit it works for her, method this morning consisted of me taking a spare DPN and cursing under my breath as I re-threaded and tightened up each stitch. In my defense, I've never attempted "fair isle" knitting on DPNs before.

Thankfully, I finally got the sleeves to look presentable. The question I'm now asking myself is: Do I REALLY want to go through this for the 26-row yoke pattern??? Actually, 28 rows, once I correct for the mutant Thor hammers and what are probably going to be the anemic Goddess figures, if the hammers are any indication. I'm almost tempted to try duplicate stitch for the entire yoke, but I don't know...

Will my twitching eye then require a trip to the local walk-in clinic???

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Afghans for Afghans Campaign!

Afghans for Afghans has just announced their new Youth Campaign! See link:

The due date is December 2010 - January 2011.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Creep of the Yarn Stash

I know...countless knitting and crocheting aficionados over eons of time have raved about their yarn stash. One must be very careful about telling people one has a “stash.” Tell the wrong person, and you may end up on the wrong side of a police raid. People who are not familiar with the ways of the yarn look extremely taken aback when I talk about my stash, especially when I go on about its size, where it’s hidden, the variety, the quality, etc.

My stash resides in those plastic bins you slide under beds. You’ll notice here I say “beds” – plural. I have some yarn in enough quantities for a project, but a lot of it is in random skeins of ones and twos, which is a little tougher to use, as they tend to all be different textures and thicknesses. I’ve searched through those “one-skein” type books, hunting for suitable projects, but I can’t get excited about making fingerless mitts or tea cozies. I also don’t get the cowls that seem to be all the rage lately. NO...when I put something around my neck in the dead of winter, I want something that I can wind around and around my neck several times and with which I can also cover my chest, because it’s DAMN COLD up in these here parts.

Anyway, I digress... my stash has started to grow again. I’ve been trying to (no pun intended) keep a lid on it by my membership in the Crochetville Forum “Stashbusting” group. This is a group where we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of our weekly yarn usage, and confess our yarn transgressions. For a while there, I was doing pretty well, going through a few skeins a week, or at the very least holding steady. I’m not sure what’s been going on lately. I strongly suspect my skeins are having wild yarn orgies overnight in the bins, because they have started to reproduce – I’m sure of it. All of a sudden, my stash has busted out of the confines of the bed bins and is now residing in random project bags or in plastic bags by the bed.

I also find that I’m frequently a victim of stowaway yarn. I’ll be in Michaels, Wal-Mart, or the LYS, innocently minding my own business. One might say this is like going to the cathouse to hear the piano player, but I convince myself every time that I’m only going there to a) get a pattern book, b) search for the pattern freebies, or c) browse. Sure enough, I’ll go by the skeins and before I know it, they’ve leapt off the shelves and into my cart. You’re going to ask why, if I’m only getting a few things, I have a cart – and you can just hush up right now. This isn’t just limited to the usual haunts, either. I’ve been known to find yarn just about ANYWHERE. I’ve discovered they have yarn at Ocean State Job Lot, of all places (again, it just leapt out at me, before I could defend myself). I’ve even found yarn at True Value stores on Cape Cod.

I feel it’s just only a matter of time until I find yarn at Stop & Shop...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Going for the GOLD!

...yarn, that is.

I’ve done all the heavy lifting for my Pagan sweater. Using Excel, I reduced the cells down to little squares and mapped out the entire yoke design. I’m going with Runes in a circle around the yoke and some decorative stitches around those. I’m aiming for tiny Thor’s hammers and little Goddess symbols, but am not entirely sure how well those are going to come out in “fair isle” type knitting. I’m probably going to do some swatches and experiment before I attempt anything on the actual sweater.

So, that brings me to my current dilemma—the colors for the yoke design. One would think it would be easy to find gold and silver toned (slightly metallic) yarns, to nicely offset the navy blue of the rest of the sweater. would be wrong. I had last week off, and I spend most of it combing our LYS, Michaels, Wal-Mart, JoAnn Fabrics, and AC Moore, frantically searching for the perfect shades of gold and silver (well, okay, this wasn’t such a was yarn shopping, after all).

The good news: as you see from my picture, I finally managed to find the perfect shade of gold at AC Moore. The bad news: it’s only available as EMBROIDERY FLOSS!!! I stood in AC Moore for about 15 minutes staring at the display, trying to decide how many tiny floss skeins I’d have to buy to create my yoke pattern and exactly how many strands I’d need to combine to equal worsted weight yarn. I took a skein and walked up and down the aisles of the store, trying to find THAT exact color, only in actual yarn. No dice. Even Red Heart, that company that has perfected every known color under the sun, including neon traffic cone orange, didn’t have anything.

I bought the tiny skein and performed the same exercise at a ton of different stores, but no match.

Yesterday, I finally decided to just skip attempting to be Monet with the colors and just suck it up, buy some Lion Brand Glitterspun online, and get on with it...

Yeah, you guessed it—Glitterspun has been DISCONTINUED! I found a kind soul on Ravelry who can sell me two gold skeins, but now I’m going to have to find two silver skeins...

Must get on eBay...must not appear too desperate...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Too many pattern books, or…

…the Library of Congress and the Ancient Library of Alexandria—combined—have nothing on me.

A few nights ago, the kind fellow yarn enthusiasts at my SnB group turned me onto a new thing…the “Library” section on Ravelry. Okay, Ravelry has probably had this feature forever–I’m just slow and never noticed it before. They showed me just how easy it is to add in all your books, booklets, pamphlets, magazines, etc. From there, you can search if you’re looking for a particular pattern or type of pattern, without flipping through every book you have by hand (for some of us, this could take years).

Excited, yesterday I embarked on this new endeavor. I began adding books off the top of my head, as I could remember them. I was so excited to see each book pop up on my Ravelry Library page. Soon, it became painfully obvious to me that I was missing a few. After all, I have almost a whole bookcase filled with yarn-related literature…surely there were more books than what I had added so far…

Thank heavens for wireless laptops. I brought my computer into the bedroom and started painstakingly going through my books. I added each one, trying to determine which could be considered “booklets” and which could be considered “books.” Ravelry, for some reason, considers a lot of what I thought were booklets to be actual books. I tried to go through the magazines, but frankly, I need to do what they call in IT-land a “deep-dive” into those to figure out if I want to keep them all–I mean, really, am I ever going to make the baby jacket in Crochet World that calls for some odd, obscure yarn and looks sort of bulky and uncomfortable for the baby??? Even if your kid couldn’t sit up for himself yet, I guarantee he probably could, with no problem, wearing this jacket.

In total, I managed to rack up 75 books, 1 magazine (before I gave up), 17 booklets, and 3 pdf files on my Ravelry Library page. Sound like an impressive number? Sure…and it’s even more impressive (or frightening) if you consider that I only got as far as THE TOP TWO SHELVES of my bookcase! There are three more to go through, plus all the magazines. I also have reams of printed-out patterns that should be documented somewhere and scads of other pdfs.

Not sure, but I think I need some Advil…

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yarn Identity Crisis

Once again, the yarn is speaking to me...this happens often, usually when skeins of yarn have been sitting in my stash entirely too long. They get restless and demand satisfaction. Before you call the happy hatch, yes, I am aware that I probably need professional help...

Getting back to the clamoring yarn in question...This particular yarn has been sitting in a plastic bag in our spare room, waiting to be worked. It started out life last Christmas as a Herrschners kit, specifically the Bright Squares Blanket from the Patons Home Front booklet. However, I’ve been dawdling for months on this project, due to it not being exactly what I had in mind when I put it on my wish list last year. Specifically, it is really sort of a knockoff of the Babette Blanket by Kathy Merrick. I don’t know...there’s nothing wrong with the Babette Blanket, but somehow the yarn just doesn’t seem to be satisfied with its predetermined fate. Also, I feel funny about crocheting a knockoff, and I’m really surprised Kathy Merrick hasn’t sued Patons by now.

So, for months, the yarn has sat in the spare room, playing with all the possibilities. It has thought of perhaps a knitted afghan instead, but dismissed this, on the basis that I’ve done too many knitted things lately – it’s time to employ the sister craft crochet. It has pondered a hexagon granny afghan, but I really hate sewing hexagon shapes together (actually, I can’t stand sewing, period, but that’s another story). It has considered a striped crocheted sweater; but really, I’ve done more than my share of sweaters.

Lately, the yarn has hit upon another possibility – namely the Granny Stripe afghan, by Lucy of Attic24 (here is the pattern on her blog: It strikes a nice balance – an interesting pattern that is easy to do. It could probably work as a great take-along project (until, like any afghan, it starts taking up its own zip code).

The sick, pathetic thing is that I’m actually feeling GUILTY about even THINKING of using the yarn for something other than its original purpose. I’m not sure what my problem is. I think I’m afraid that the minute I start a different project other than the Bright Squares Blanket the Herrschners police are going to break down the door and haul me off. I’m also afraid that I’m going to be kept out of Yarn Heaven for transgressions against the expressed order of things, and instead be relegated to Yarn Hell, where you can see the yarn, smell the yarn, but can’t touch the yarn...NOOOOO!

I know, shut up and crochet already...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Utter Chaos...

Holy Cow! Working on the Hooded Duck Blanket, sewing the pieces together. The bill took forever to get even onto the hood. I need to figure out how the %$@# I'm going to get the hood lined up with the blanket, I have no damned black buttons for the eyes, so I may take the cheap route and do I-cord buttons, as I really don't want to go out in the middle of a possible HURRICANE to get buttons, and I have no idea how to do the I-cord edging, as I've forgotten all my lessons from the Jacqueline Fee The Sweater Workshop book, and in the words of my favorite coworker: "OH, MY FRICKIN' GOD!!!"


Thursday, September 2, 2010

All Sewn Up

I’m nearing the end of the Hooded Duck baby blanket and once again, it is time to whine about finishing issues…

I hate sewing. I absolutely hate it. Years ago, my mother taught me how to sew, and in the beginning, I actually liked hand-sewing. I made a few small items and all was well. THEN…my mother picked up a second-hand sewing machine for me, thinking it would make it easier for me to make more items, as I had expressed an interest in learning how to make my own clothes. This was a mistake. I could not get the hang of pushing the pedal with my foot and guiding the item through that nasty, NASTY pulsating needle. My bobbins kept getting messed up, as did my other thread. My seams kept coming out crooked; ironically, when I hand-sewed my seams were straighter. I began to develop a colorful vocabulary of four-letter words that wildly gushed forth every time I got within 10 feet of the machine.

Then there was the ugly story making the rounds of the family about how my sister-in-law Joyce had gotten her finger caught in her sewing machine. The needle had somehow punctured her finger right through and she couldn’t get it out! My brother Tony had to rush her to the emergency room WITH THE SEWING MACHINE.

My mother finally took away my machine. I think it had less to do with Joyce almost losing her right finger and more to do with me continuously using the language of a prison inmate…

Anyway, ever since then, I’ve been put off sewing, period. When I learned how to knit and crochet I was mortified to find out that I’d have to sew pieces together. I’m really not sure how I thought they were going to be joined otherwise. I think, unconsciously, I was hoping that little elves would tiptoe into the house in the middle of the night and complete all my garments for me, so that I wouldn’t have to be bothered with such pesky details.

This is why I love knitting in the round—less sewing.

So, this brings us to the baby blanket…I’m almost done knitting the little duck bill. After that, I have to sew on some buttons for eyes, sew on the bill, and sew the hood to the blanket, before I begin the I-cord edging. I’m just dreading the whole thing. I keep putting it off by working on my brillo pad socks instead. I also have an Owls sweater that needs to have buttons sewn on. I’ve had ALL SUMMER to do that, but did I? Nooooo…I’m probably going to put that off until the morning I decide to wear the sweater this winter.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What does this yarn want to be???

I’m in the middle of knitting some bed socks, and I’m facing a crisis…

I bought this beautifully colored yarn at the CT Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival for the expressed purpose of making socks. The picture (the two skeins at the bottom) really doesn’t do the beautiful colors justice. I really wanted to get enough yarn to make a sweater, but the vendor only had two skeins. I knew the yarn was going to be a bit too thick for conventional socks, so I settled on the idea of some bed/house socks, knit on #3 needles.

I cast on with great excitement, but now my excitement has been replaced with a gnawing, combined sense of dread and panic.

The yarn is WAY too rough for socks. It’s way too rough, in fact, for ANYTHING you’d want to put anywhere near your skin! If I were knitting brillo pads, it would be ideal, but somehow I don’t see creating utilitarian kitchen scrubbies with $$$ wool.

I posted to that wise and trusted Oracle, better known as Ravelry, and have gotten various responses about washing the article after the fact in shampoo and putting conditioner and vinegar in the rinse water, which sounds like a good suggestion. However, I’m panicking, thinking to myself, “What if it DOESN’T WORK???” What if I end up with nasty, scratchy socks that, far from providing warm tootsies on a cold winter’s night, cause the recipient to spend half the night frantically scratching themselves?

I keep thinking perhaps I should just create something else with the yarn, but what? It’s too thin for a hat, and again, it’s too scratchy for mittens, gloves, or a scarf.

My best course of action may be to just carry on, knitting away, hoping that I can remedy the situation after the fact, as all those kind people on Ravelry are insisting I can. It may be just a matter of having faith…

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Afghans for Afghans Vest Finished!

I'm happy to report that I'm FINALLY finished with the tiny vest for Afghans for Afghans!

I used the Baby/Toddler Vest pattern by Plymouth Yarn Company and Cascade 220 Tweed yarn. My sticking point was sewing on the buttons. In a later post, I'll elaborate on just how much I hate to sew--especially buttons onto a vest or cardigan, seeing as I always obsess over making sure they are sewn on evenly and right where the corresponding buttonholes are on the other side.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the organization, Afghans for Afghans is humanitarian project that sends hand-knit and crocheted vests, sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, and blankets to the people of Afghanistan to help them survive the winter months. I am, of course, paraphrasing from their website, which is at:

You can go to the site to review all the criteria for sending an item. The most important thing is that it be a natural fiber like wool or alpaca--something that will keep people warm--they don't want acrylic. I've made socks and sweaters for them in the past. You can send items right to the address on the website. It's usually best to find out specifically what they need. This summer, their campaign was for socks. At other times, they are looking for children's clothing. A while back, they were looking for women's shawls, and they had to be certain dimensions, so that the women could wrap them as head coverings. It's always important to read the guidelines carefully to make sure you understand exactly what they are looking for--there are certain restrictions when it comes to clothing for Muslims.

Right now, our LYS, Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT (, is collecting children's vests to send to Afghans for Afghans. The store's deadline is September 12, 2010. They have the Baby/Toddler Vest pattern by Plymouth Yarn Company available, which last I checked was free ($1 donation suggested to help with their shipping costs). Their number is 860-687-9931 if you want more information.

Whether you are for or against our involvement in Afghanistan, I think we can all agree that innocent people are suffering and need our assistance--especially the children. I find that, all too often, I get so caught up in my everyday life and drama that I forget about others who need help. This is one small way for me to give back...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Too sick to knit?

I'm lying in bed with a headache that's threatening to be a migraine. It's at that stage where you're not quite could just develop into a "headache" headache, or a full-blown migraine. Not sure at this point. Sometimes I get the aura, but if I wake up with a migraine, I usually don't. Do I go work out, or do I rest? Do I go out of the house for ANYTHING, or do I not chance it?

I'm tempted to go ahead with my day for one reason:

I still feel like knitting...

Yes, this is the great barometer that determines just how sick, depressed, or frazzled I am. If I don't want to knit, that's an indication that it's time to just rest and just be.

Because, if I don't want to knit...then it's very, very bad...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Yarn Sirens Beckon...

The Yarn Sirens Beckon…

…or is it the voices in my head???

Once again, I'm sitting at work, happily sipping my morning tea, going through the morning's emails, and generally trying to relax before the onslaught of endless meetings that seems to pass as my workday lately.

All of a sudden, I begin to hear them…

"The yarn store…the yarn store…the yarn store…"

I try to ignore them, as I scroll through all the 100 emails people have decided I just HAD to see.

"The yarn…the yarn…you must go buy the yarn…"

I try to reason with the Sirens. I explain that my project won't run out of yarn until at least a week from now, if that. There is NO NEED to go to the yarn store before then.

"The color might not be there…you must go…now…now…NOW!"

I remind them that probably no one is going to have a sudden, urgent need for bright yellow-orange Plymouth Encore between now and next week.

"It may be gone…the dye lot may be GONE…you must go…now…"

I sigh, realizing they have a point. Granted, it wouldn't be the end of the world if the dye lot for the edge differed from the body of the blanket, but you never know.

"You never know…you never know…"

I have these conversations frequently with the Yarn Sirens. It all began years ago, when I was knitting a sweater for a dear friend and was running out of yarn. It was Patons Classic Wool in Palais, a colorway that was fairly new back then, so you couldn't find it anywhere in our area except for AC Moore, 40 minutes from here. That day at work, the Yarn Sirens made their debut. They implored me to "go to AC Moore…go to AC Moore…"

On a whim, I picked up the phone and called AC Moore to find out if they even had Palais. The good news is that they did. The bad news is that they couldn't hold it for me until I could get there at 4:30. I considered just taking a chance and waiting, but the Sirens nixed the idea.

"You must go now…now…NOW!"

I asked the woman on the phone if she could at least hold the yarn until Noon, and she agreed. The Fates (or the Yarn Sirens, perhaps) were on my side, as everyone was either out of work that day or at endless meetings. I raced out of there, hauled a** down the highway, and got to AC Moore just before Noon. True to her word, the nice woman had held the yarn for me.
To make this an even sweeter deal, IT WAS THE SAME DYE LOT!

This is why I always do what the Yarn Sirens tell me…and which is why I got my butt out the door to go get that yellow-orange yarn. ("You never know…you never know…")
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Idea...or, why I'm just not like other people...

I've decided I'm just not hardwired like other people...

In my daily existence, I'm surrounded by people whose idea of a good time is yelling their lungs out at a sporting event, (whether this be pro-ball or little league, and whether this be in person or on their own sofa with a bag of Doritos), going to some far-flung part of the globe, but somehow losing their luggage in Albuquerque, or drinking themselves into a stupor and dancing the night away. Okay, I do get the dancing...this is probably the only “active” activity I share with my fellow people...I adore dancing.

However, no one around me, except for the select few who know but tolerate my oddness, appreciates my excitement over completing the Saturday crossword without peeking at the answers on-line. They don't get enjoyment of an entire afternoon reading a Dan Brown book, and getting sucked into Robert Langdon’s crazy existence of conspiracy theories and Pagan symbolism, while sitting in a lawn chair outside, listening to the animal life in the backyard. Between the squirrels, the chipmunks, the myriad species of birds, the deer, the wild turkeys, and the occasional bear, we have more wildlife than Animal Planet.

Most importantly, no one quite gets the excitement of puzzling out a pattern...

I have an idea for a sweater pattern. I want to make a yoke sweater, but—speaking of Langdon—I want to put Pagan symbols all along the yoke of the sweater and around the sleeves. I have searched on-line, I have asked the 200 kajillion knitters on Ravelry, I have asked sentient, in-the-flesh human beings, and no one has any idea where I can find exactly what I’m looking for. I knew it was going to be a crap shoot to find an actual sweater pattern like this, but I figured I could at least find some motif patterns to incorporate into a basic yoke. No dice. Anything I’ve found so far is entirely too large. I want small, subtle shapes that will make a large, beautiful final design.

On my way to the hairdresser the other day, it hit me...I’m going to have to create the pattern myself!

As I drove along, I began puzzling out in my head how I would approach this—what symbols to use, how to arrange them, how large should they be, etc. Do I want to go with one row of each design, or do I want the rows that are varied? Do I want this to be multi-colored, or do I want to do just black and white? Do I want this to be just the yoke, or do I want to do something different with the collar? Do I...?

In this frame of mind I walked into the hair salon.

“So,” my hairdresser cheerfully asks, “What have you been doing with your summer?”

You know telling her that I was in the process of designing a Pagan sweater wasn’t going to be Answer #1...

“Not much...”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

KIP-in' Around!

I love the things people say when I’m knitting or crocheting in public:

“I’m telling myself that, NO, I don’t have to ever knit with those things EVER!!!” – This from a knitting friend, watching me knit a sock with DPNs (double pointed needles).

“Is that a scarf?” (It’s long, it’s not wide, it’s wool – what did you think it was???)

“Why are you knitting socks??? They’re on sale at Wal-Mart this week!”

“Are you having a baby?” – I was crocheting a baby blanket in the dentist’s waiting room.

Oh, and my all-time favorite…I was knitting in the allergist’s waiting room. My allergist is notorious for keeping all his patients waiting, so I always plan ahead and bring something to work on. On this particular occasion, I decided to bring a sweater (me knit a sweater…surprise!) I was working on—the Hourglass Sweater pattern. As I was happily working away on the sweater, a woman approached me.

“What are you doing???”

This was a fair enough question, seeing as I was knitting the sleeve, which didn’t really look like a sleeve yet. When I explained it was a sleeve to a sweater, she stared at it, incredulously, and said,

“But WHY all the needles?” I explained that I was knitting it in the round on DPNs.

She continued to stare at the sleeve on the four DPNs, looking like she fully expected it to attack her at any second.

“Why aren’t you using normal needles and knitting it the NORMAL way?” I told her that a) the pattern isn’t written like that, and b) even if the pattern called for the “normal” way, I always convert sweaters to in-the-round.

“Are you sure?”

“I’ve done several sweaters in the round, just like this.”

She stared for several minutes more, and then said, “Well, I guess that could work…”

The only thing that saved me from busting out laughing was the doctor calling my name!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Walks like a duck...

I'm knitting a dear friend a baby blanket...

I could base an entire post on the fact that I'm getting rather alarmed by the fact that so MANY of my friends and acquaintances appear to be warming little buns in the oven. In my case, seeing as I bat for the other team, it would have to be the immaculate conception to come even close to emulating them, but it's alarming all the same! LOL...

That being neither here nor there, I'm making the Hooded Duck Blanket by Susan Backus Starr. This is what it's ultimately going to look like:

This is how far I've gotten so far:

In fine honored tradition, I've already frogged it completely once, due to not liking how the increases were looking. Using a bar increase was causing the edges to pull in, which made the entire blanket pucker horribly. I decided instead to use the Elizabeth Zimmermann method of increasing (the backwards loop), which looks much nicer.

As you can see, while the ending parts are going to be fun - the alternating color I-cord edging, the ducky hood, the tassel, the bill - the main part of this blanket is a major snooze. I've been knitting row upon row upon ROW of ENDLESS garter stitch. I've been doing a lot of KIP-ing (knitting-in-public), knitting in front of the TV, knitting while listening to NPR podcasts, and knitting at my SnB group. If I thought I could knit and walk the treadmill at the same time, I'd do that, too - anything to relieve the mind-numbing boredom. My only consolations are that a) I love the look and feel of garter stitch, and b) this should be adorable when it's finished.

Now, if I could only think up other things to do while knitting before I slip into a coma...zzzzzzzzz...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nook/Kindle Cover Pattern - Crochet

As promised, here is the pattern for my Nook/Kindle Cover:

Hook: 8.0 mm (L)

Yarn: Reynolds Lopi, 1 skein, 110 yds, LOPI-0738 Cranberry Heather

Gauge: Row gauge is not important, as you will just repeat until piece measures 20". The stitch gauge would be approximately 1 shells = 1" with the entire width measuring 6 1/2" across.

Adjust the gauge, if necessary, by adding multiples of 3. Basically, you want to make the strip wide enough so that when you fold it over and sew it, your Nook or Kindle will fit snugly inside.

Ch 19

Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook & sc across (18 s.c.)
Row 2: ch 1, (sc, ch1, dc) in 1st st to form V, (skip next 2 sts, sv in next st) across to last 2 sts, skip next st, hdc in last st. ch 1 and turn - you should have 6 V stitches.
Row 3: (sc, ch1, dc) in each ch 1 space across, hdc in turning ch 1 of previous row. Ch 1 & turn - again, you should have 6 V stitches.

Repeat Row 3 until strip measures 20”. Fasten off.


Fold the strip around the Nook/Kindle, to make sure you have the right measurement for the “pocket.”

Keep the strip folded, start at the bottom, and crochet the folded strip together (using sc), to create the pocket.

When you get to the "flap," crochet around in sc for a border.

Then, continue connecting the folded strip on the other side, forming the other side of the pocket. fasten off and cut yarn.

You can then sew snaps for the closure, or just crochet a long chain to use as a cord to tie up the bag.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Amigurumi - Who, me???

Those who know me well know I'm not one to follow the herd. I'm probably the only person left on the North American continent who has not read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or whatever the book is called, because I just can't bring myself to read what everyone else is reading. I refuse to knit a shrug, on account of I just don't GET shrugs--they look like you couldn't quite afford the whole sweater. Ditto for capri pants, and don't get me started on those weird shoes with no backs...

Having said this, I've had a change heart about one craze...the Amigurumi mania currently sweeping the knitting/crocheting world. You can't cruise a website, peruse a catalogue, or darken the doors of a LYS without running into patterns for or people busily knitting/crocheting cute little stuffed creatures. I've seen patterns for snakes, dragons, dogs, cats, bunny rabbits, teddy bears (I haven't seen one for an iguana yet, but it's only a matter of time). I had previously SWORN up and down that I would NEVER make one of those things because, for one, it's just not practical. I'm mainly a sweater maniac. Knitting sweaters is fun, challenging, and new clothes all at the same time. If something doesn't have a useful purpose, I'm just not interested.

For another thing...well, I hate to admit this, but our house is overrun with cute little stuffed critters. We have this sickness where every time we're anywhere--on vacation, in the drug store, at the supermarket for God's sake--we're instantly drawn to the stuffed animal display and are just COMPELLED to add yet another addition to our already large inanimate family. If this were cats, the Board of Health would have been here by now. I'm just praying that the local facility my mother would have called "The Happy Hatch" doesn't get wind of us...It's gotten so out of control that at this juncture, we have declared a moratorium on any more purchases that could possibly be a playmate for "The Bandit Bear."

Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, I found an Ami critter that was too cute to pass up:

He's the Lion Brand "City Mouse Toy" from the knit patterns on their site. Is he, or is he not the cutest little fellow you've ever seen? The beautiful thing is that I got a killer deal on the yarn at Michael's Arts and Crafts (out-of-control stash-building is another topic best saved for another time). I'm rationalizing this by swearing that I'm going to make him as a present for someone else...that is, unless The Bandit Bear takes a shine to him...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Kitties and Knitting

Have you ever noticed that if you have a cat, he or she always wants to be involved with the knitting or crocheting? They essentially LOVE all things yarn. I find our little Franklin either needs to snuggle up with me while I'm knitting, play with the yarn, or pose with the final product. In this picture, he's doing his part to model with my Barnes and Noble Nook cover. In a future post, I'll include instructions on making this!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Set-In Sleeve In-the-Round Sweater FINALLY DONE!

I'm happy to report that the sweater is FINALLY done! As Dudley DoRight would say, "It was an ugly business, but clean living prevailed!"

I'm not entirely happy with how the tops of the shoulders came out, as they looked a bit poofy when I tried on the sweater. Yes, I did put on a WOOL sweater in JULY, and yes, I do need to have my head examined...thank goodness for air conditioning. I'm hoping a few washes will eliminate the poofiness issue. Part of the problem might be that I chose to start doing the "every row" sleeve decreases when 1/2 the stitches were gone, counting from the # of sleeve stitches I had after I'd joined the sleeves to the body. Next time, I'm going to go with decreasing them when 1/2 the sleeve stitches are gone, but counting from the very beginning, before attaching the sleeves.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Set-In Sleeve Angst

Well, I’ve woven in all the ends for the Set-In Sleeve In-the-Round sweater, but I’ve come across an issue. It appears that all along the armhole “seams,” where I decreased on the sleeves, I have ugly gaps. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that I decreased right at the marker or because the Shadow Cable pattern does have a tendency to pull in at the twist. Either way, it has completely defeated the whole purpose of a Set-In Sleeve In-the-Round sweater, which is--you’re not supposed to have to SEW THE SLEEVES! I had to take a length of yarn and weave it through the entire arm socket for each sleeve, to close up all the holes. I suppose the only saving grace is that I didn’t have to actually set the sleeves into the arm holes, which is always the 7th circle of hell.

Next up will be the collar. Usually, I’m not wild about doing row upon row of ribbing, but after the aforementioned little adventure the collar is going to seem like nothing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ladybug Afghan Modifications

Okay, I'm taking time out from the ENDLESS task of weaving in all the ends of my set-in sleeve sweater to address a grievous omission. About a week ago, at this point, someone messaged me on the Crochetville Forum, asking if I could detail how I modified the Ladybug Afghan. I finally have some free time to explain...

Those of you who've seen Janice Slocum's crocheted Ladybug Afghan will agree with me, I'm sure, when I say it is hands-down the most adorable child's afghan ever. One might even say it is "cute as a bug" (pun intended).

However, I'm sure you'll also agree with me when I say it's one of the MOST frustrating patterns to follow. If you follow the directions to the letter, you will end up with an excessively wavy afghan that frankly looks ODD. At first, I thought it was me. As a knitter, I'm pretty much dead-on with the stated gauge of a pattern. As a crocheter, however, I'm all over the map. I checked out Ravelry, though, and I found that I was far from alone in my angst over this pattern. Everyone has pretty much struggled with the directions.

So, to this end, I decided to modify the pattern, so that my final product wouldn't look bizarre.

1) To start with, I decided to throw in a straight row every 5th row, to even out the wonkiness. This meant I needed to adjust all the increases. Once you understand that there are 12 increases in a row, all you have to do is space out the 12 increases evenly for each row. This involves painstaking counting for each row, plus basic math, but the results are well worth it.

2) I found that I needed to add 4 more rows than what is indicated in the pattern. This could be me, as my double crochets (DC) are sometimes shorter than usual, even when I carefully do a gauge swatch and think I'm right on the money.

3) Seeing as I was adding straight rows, I ignored the directions for the black face after Row 14, where she has you begin with two black DCs in a stitch--I did do this. However, this is what I did after Row 14. When I got to the black section for each row, using the black yarn, I crocheted one DC before the black stitch. I crocheted to the last black DC, and in that last DC, I crocheted 2 DCs, then changed back to red. I counted this double DC as one of the increases, adjusting the placement of the rest of the increases accordingly. When I had to do this on a "straight" row, I made up for it by eliminating one of the decreases in the following row.

This all sounds weird, but it works. Since you are turning the afghan every time to get to the end of a round anyway, the double DCs alternate on each side of the face. This fixes it so that the face doesn’t get too wide.

4) Finally, I didn't place the increases at the same point every time (you especially can't do that when you're doing the black face). I found this made for a rounder afghan (I mean, really, have you ever SEEN a ladybug with 12 flat sides???

I hope this helps!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Almost done with the Set-In Sleeve Sweater!

This is the Set-In Sleeve sweater, from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Workshop, knit in the round. Those who know me know I absolutely LOATHE to sew, so I'm forever searching for any and all sweater methods that have the least amount of sewing possible. Of course, I've taken complete leave of my senses, in that not only am I doing an in-the-round technique that I'm completely unfamiliar with, I'm also doing it using the "Shadow Cable" stitch found in the Leisure Arts 99 Knit Stitches booklet. Let me tell you, it's been quite the challenge to decrease stitches for the shoulders, while at the same time keeping the cable pattern going.

I've varied EZ's basic pattern by dropping down the collar a bit.

The cable pattern is another story altogether. I have a very dear friend, who knows nothing about knitting; but for my birthday, somehow, she managed to find the ONE stitch book I didn't have. I didn't tell her what to buy--she just figured it out. I couldn't not use the booklet for my very next project...which is how I ended up mentally patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time!

At this point, I'm FINALLY done with most of the knitting. I just have to graft the shoulders, knit the collar, and (of course) weave in all the ends. Seriously, is there such a thing as paying someone to weave the ends in for you??? LOL...

My Brand-New Blog!

Yes, I've finally entered the 21st century and started a blog! I'm calling this "WildKnitter" as that's also my Twitter username. As you can tell, I do a lot of knitting...LOL. I also crochet. I thought this would be a great forum for me to post progress on all my various knitting and crocheting feats. More later!