Saturday, January 30, 2010

Socks Are Go!

Well, I put it out there in the universe via the blogosphere that I intended to complete (by the end of January) the socks from the sock blank I received from a friend on the west coast and......


"I did it! I did it! Yeah, I did it!" (Apologies to Dora the Explorer.)

Here is one from a side angle:

I like the way the blue subtly striped along the cuff.

I knit them from the toe up because I wanted to try using up all the yarn for once. The cuffs will have to be rolled as they go too far up my calf without any sizing and I don't want to stretch out the bind off too much. (That's ok, I haven't worn socks that far up my calves in quite some time anyway!)

I'm glad to have completed them because they really do feel lovely on my feet. The yarn is very soft and the socks are quite thick, yet supple. Really nice!

On to the scarf I'm doing in brioche rib. I can knock that out of the park tomorrow and be on to the afghan in no time!

Happy knitting!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's Snowing In My Bathroom!

Really! It's snowing in my bathroom! See......

.....because I'm sure I wouldn't have been silly enough to try and snap a photo of myself in the cloche & cowl I knit without checking to see if the mirror was clean.

(Let's pretend the mirror got that way just this morning as folks were brushing their teeth to go to work/school, shall we?!)

Even though I think I look doofy (combination of "dufus" and "goofy") in hats, I am appreciating this lovely little hat I knit from the book Boutique Knits. (Did I mention it is currently -2*F here?) I think it goes with the cowl I knit just fine. When I wear them I feel like a girly girl, which is fun to feel like now and then.

WIP UPDATE: I have completed the first of the socks from the sock blank and have put the second sock onto the dpns. It will be done by the end of the month (which is Sunday for those of you who may be in denial about the fact that the first twelfth of 2010 is quietly, yet swiftly, drawing to a close!) Photos to come when both socks are completed.

Soon to be on the needles: Yesterday I received an afghan kit from my knitting pals. It's the New Traditions Afghan from Knit Picks.

I'm looking forward to casting on!

Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wisconsin Treats!

My postal carrier brought me a lovely package today!

It arrived from Madison, Wisconsin as the result of a lucky connection with a random number generator and a comment I left on a blog, Caffeine Girl. I really enjoy Deborah's blog (as I do so many!).

Included in the package was some beautiful yarn called "Sandy's Palette - Canadian Worsted." I will have to live with the yarn for a while to begin to see what it wants to be. (My initial thought is that it wants to be a hat, but we'll might want to be a cowl....)

Also included were some very beautiful stitch markers made by Deborah, a Wisconsin Badgers water bottle, a key chain from Madison, a magnet of the state of Wisconsin, a "Badger Claw" (cashew, caramel and white chocolate treat - YUMMM!!) and some artisan, hand crafted dark chocolates made by a gal in Madison. What a wonderful box, all in celebration of Deborah's blogiversary!

Thank you so much!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sixty-One Degrees

According to the Farmer's Almanac website, the high temperature in Chula Vista, California on this day in 1966 was a perfect 61*F.

Seems to explain my love of mountains, water and temps in the low 60's!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Painful, But Necessary

Well, I'm afraid that the sock project which has been languishing in my WIP basket finally guilt-tripped me into taking it to my knitting group on Wednesday. You may remember them from earlier posts:

As I was struggling to knit them on the 2 circular needles I was thinking about what it was that kept me from working on them. Although Christmas knitting DID need to get done, it seemed there was something more to my having set them aside. Then I figured it out.

I had to admit that I really do not like knitting 2 socks at once on circular needles. I'm much faster on dpns. The 2 socks on 2 circs method slows me down because I am constantly having to fiddle with untangling the yarn(s) and needles.

That problem was further exacerbated by the fact that the yarns, in this case, were coming from a singular source (the sock blank) which made it all the more difficult to keep them from tangling and getting into weird/difficult to knit with positions in relation to the needles. At some point, I suppose, the process became too inwardly frustrating, so I set them aside.

So, I decided at my knitting group to seperate the Siamese twins in order to transfer them to dpns. It seems like a no brainer solution, doesn't it?

Well, let me tell you, it was a difficult process during which I think I recalled every swear word I ever learned (in any language, real or imagined).

Because I had to begin unraveling the sock blank at the wrong end, it didn't really want to unravel. I had to perform intricate "pass the balls through the loop" manuevers at each end of every row. Because of this, the yarn was twisting as well. And the yarn was already VERY kinky because it was being unknit from the sock blank.

I started the seperation surgery at about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. The yarn was ALL over my living room (in my attempt to keep it from tangling up as much as possible). I did have a couple errands in the middle of the day....but it took me until 8 p.m. Wednesday to have two balls of yarn and two socks, one now on dpns while the other waits on the original circs.

Truth be told, I may have to set them aside once more until I recover from the process of seperating them!

What I learned about sock blanks:

1. I love the colors my friend used to dye the blank with. The potential to make whatever color and patterns you want is priceless and well worth it! The yarn itself is lovely, and after what it went through on Wednesday, I'm guessing it's quite sturdy as well!

2. If I ever find myself in possession of another I know now that I had better seperate the two balls of yarn BEFORE beginning the knitting process. I won't attempt to start two socks on two circs again....the method is just not for me.

Anyone else out there ever knit a sock blank? What did you learn? about the process? about yourself as a knitter?

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Beauty of Winter

Scenes from my part of Iowa this morning. We awoke to freezing fog...a favorite subject of my lens!

Happy shooting!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Rosy Side of Life

I've been working on a project from my stash. I discovered some lovely Andean Treasure (100% Baby Alpaca) in a lovely colorway, Wild Rose (the state flower of Iowa I might add!) I have 6 balls with which, given the wintry weather of late, I decided to knit myself a fetching set of mittens, neckwarmer and hat.

The mittens,

are an uber easy, super quick knit with an ingenious design for the thumb gusset. The cuff is knit in K1P1 ribbing and then 7 stitches of that ribbing continue up the "hand" section of the glove to fit in place of a gusset. Isn't that genius? I hate doing gussets, and the set in thumb works, but isn't as comfortable as a mitten with a little stretch for the thumb. This solves the problem very nicely!

One can easily knit a pair in a weekend.

After I completed the mittens, I searched around for a hat pattern. It turns out I like the ones I'm seeing which others have knit from the book Boutique Knits. So I ordered a copy from Knit Picks and am currently awaiting the arrival of the book.

In the meantime, I cast on for a neck warmer to complete the set. I decided since the yarn is rather luxurious and the hat will be something a little more special than a simple beanie, I wanted the neck warmer to be a little "frilly" too. (After all, this yarn, besides feeling decadent is quite the girly color!) I looked through my stitch dictionaries and found the pattern for "Opulent Cables."

I wanted the guage to match from the mittens, so I stayed with US #5 needles. I had never knit this cable pattern before, so I wasn't sure how much the cables would cause the fabric to shrink up. I originally cast on 135 stitches, but it resulted in a size which would not go over my head. The current WIP is 153, having doubled the reverse stockinette stitches between the cable repeats. (I originally planned for only 2 stitches between cables, now there are four.) I do hope this one will fit!

That's what I did with part of the "no school, inclement weather" days we had Thursday and Friday (mittens) and over the weekend (neck warmer, twice!). . .

How was your weekend?

Happy knitting/shooting!

[p.s. I forgot to mention that I'm the lucky winner of a blogiversary give-away by a gal in Wisconsin! I believe the prize is a beautiful hank of hand-dyed yarn from another lady in Wisconsin...which is in blues. I'll be sure to post a pic when the package arrives. Maybe it will be here just in time for my birthday next week!! won't that be a fun treat??!! Thanks Deborah!!]

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reverse 911

Well, it looks innocent enough right now.

(click on photo to make bigger!)

The view out my front door shows the white stuff is coming down yet again. It's piling up....I'd say we have 2" already and the height of the storm is supposed to be this evening when most the accumulation will take place.

However, the county sherrif and local police department just "reverse 911" called us with a recorded message warning about the weather and the deteriorating roads over the next 24-36 hours and advised no travel.

Yikes! I had no idea that they could do that, but I think it's kind of nice/cool. I hope it will keep people home and safe.

Looks like knit night is off again.....darn it!

(here's one with a slower shutter speed in hopes of catching the falling snow...which just looks like blurry white lines. Oh well!)

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year, New Projects

Happy New Year from frigid Iowa! We're breaking all kinds of records, some of which have stood for over a century and are now shattered.

You know what I discovered is warmer than a scarf yet lighter weight? A cowl!

I knit this one over the weekend from Knit Picks' "Andean Treasure" (100% alpaca). It has a ruffled bottom which tucks into my coat. I knit it on US #5 and #7 needles. In retrospect I should have used #7 the entire time, but I was trying to make the yarn go further. (I was using up stash and had 1 and 1/3 balls for somewhere between 250 and 275 yards.)

The alpaca is lightweight, but keeps my cheeks, nose and ears toasty warm. It doesn't seem to inhibit my ability to turn my head when I'm driving. And when I get inside (say, at the grocery store) I just slip it down and it rides around my neck comfortably until it's time to return to the frozen tundra which is the local landscape of late.

My goal is to design one that is long enough and has enough circumferance to be used as a wimple/hood in the event I need to pull it up during precipitation. I have 5 balls of the Andean Treasure in wild rose color which I purchased on a closeout sale from Knit Picks. I want to knit the cowl/wimple/hood and a pair of mittens to go with it.

In other knitting news, I finished the socks I was knitting for DH. It is the Dream In Color Smooshy yarn in the Cocoa Kissed colorway. I think they turned out well!

I was reminded that one needs a certain level of dedication to knit socks for a guy on US #0 needles. (I hate to think how many stitches are in them!) I also pondered what it would be like to knit with the square needles Leslie now has for sale at Ewephoria in Poky. I'm hoping to get a pair of dpn's in the new square needles for my birthday later this month. I'd definitely put size #0's to good use, and probably a pair of US #1's as well.

We were surprised by a 2 hour late start for school this morning. (My kids don't ride the bus, but I can appreciate not wanting little ones out at the bus stop when the actual temperature is -18*F and the windchill is hovering around -30*F.) Since the weather pattern is in place for a few days, we may be starting late more days this week.

It has been too cold to go out shooting photos, though that is one of the things on my resolutions list. I want to shoot more "art" photos than simply doing what's necessary for work.

Also I've resolved to write daily. I have help via The Daily Writer and a book of meditations I'm reflecting on in my journal. I went on a 4 month sabatical from writing and found myself really missing it the last month or two. I'm very glad to be getting back in the habit. Hopefully it will improve my skills for work as well.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!
Stay warm!