Wednesday, December 30, 2009

...And Here It Is

Yarns and Colorways
Comfy Sport: Fedora, Planetarium, October, Cypress, Honeydew
Felici: Marsh
Stroll Kettle Dyed: Wine

Monday, December 28, 2009

Besides Knitting...

I've been obsessed with the White Elephant gift I got at Christmas! It's a Techno Source illuminated pocket sudoku. It has over 1 million puzzles, an LED light (love that on my Light Wedge!), an extra stylus, a notes feature, AND a feature that allows you to input your own sudoku puzzles to solve. My, oh my, this has been a time killer both good and bad! Even though it's too easy to be challenging for me despite the 4 difficulty levels, it's still fun because of the touch screen and stylus (as opposed to my usual pencil and click eraser) as well as it being a nice time filler when needed. Plus, I could always input my owner higher-difficulty puzzles to solve ;-)

The Princess and The Frog
Marie and I went to go see Disney's The Princess and The Frog yesterday afternoon. We both loved it. It had a nice story, and I especially liked the main character and the music. If there's such a thing as animated cinematography, I'd say that the animated cinematography of the bayou was awesome (check out the firefly part)! I'll admit to getting teary eyed a few times throughout the movie, not because it's sad or anything, but because of all the feelings it evokes. I'm glad Disney finally got around to making this.

Out of nowhere, Ian decided to try using his fork tonight with his pasta and chicken! We'll have to see if he keeps it up tomorrow... He loves his big Lightning McQueen car we got him for Christmas. At first he was afraid of the sounds it makes when you push the buttons on top (still is actually, but we've turned the switch to "off"). Yet, now he carries it around, kisses it, and sleeps with it. So cute! Marie loves her Ariel jewelry set and light-up Ariel tiara and has been playing with all her (old and new) dolls and doll house. This is old news now, but I have to mention how much Marie enjoyed painting some leftover Christmas salt dough ornaments that we'd baked a year or two ago. I got out some paint and glazing spray for our snowman and Christmas tree. They turned out really nice! Oh, and Ian looked so cute at Christmas in his first plaid flannel shirt -- my adorable little boy :-)

I'm still re-reading Breaking Dawn, probably delaying a little since I'll be taking a break from the series after this. I wouldn't mind reading the last Harry Potter book a 2nd time or re-reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for a 3rd time. Those are books I enjoy reading during the cold, winter months. I still have a couple of books to read that my brother got me a while back as gifts: The Terror by Dan Simmons and The Last Man by Mary Shelley. We'll see. I'm now on Goodreads which has some neat reading lists by genre. Somewhere out there exists a site that recommends books based on titles you input, kinda like Pandora yet not as complex, but I can't remember the name of the site...

While looking up a song on YouTube, I came across a Kings of Leon song that everyone but me has probably already heard: Closer. I really like it despite its simplicity and repetitiveness, probably because I go for emotive, driving songs like this. The lead singer has a gravelly voice perfect for this song. Can't help but like the YouTube video I found that uses it. If you're not a Twilight fan, you can minimize it while listening, although keep in mind that the song is about a lovesick vampire according to the lead singer ;-)

Three posts in one day, wow! I guess most of the time I have nothing to say. Then when it rains, it pours. See ya in a month I suppose, ha!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Baby Booties for Isla: An Enjoyable Technical Knit

Recently on Ravelry, I found a cute little pattern for my new niece Isla: Blue Steps Baby Booties. Using 1 circular needle, it starts on the midline of the sole with a closed CO (I used the Magic CO) and a garter stitch sole. After the sole, brioche stitch is used, continuing to work upward ITR. Side note and warning: If you knit Continental Combined, brioche stitch is very easy and extremely enjoyable and addictive! To BO, I tried out Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy BO (JSSBO shown here by Cat Bordhi) after tinking my too-tight k2togtbl BO. JSSBO worked really, really well and fit easily over Isla's foot. This pattern encapsulates so many techniques or methods I like that I really enjoyed doing this pattern, start to finish. I highly recommend it! Unfortunately, when we tried the booties on at Christmas, they were way too small. After all, the pattern is for newborns, not 1-month-olds like Isla. So, now I'm going to re-knit them larger. No problem. I think I'll CO 28 stitches this time...

BTW, I thought I'd share something I un-vented, as EZ used to say, which I'm sure many other knitters have also discovered. When I was first doing the Magic CO and beginning the garter stitch ITR to make the sole, the midline was too flat and indented because the first garter ridges surrounding the flat CO end up farther apart from each other relative to the other garter ridges of the sole. Since the Magic CO creates a complete purl ridge on the WS when casting on, I decided to use that feature by beginning the booties on the WS of the work. How, you might ask? Instead of rotating the needle tips around vertically 180 degrees like you usually do to begin knitting ITR, I rotated them around horizontally (toward myself) 180 degrees. As long as your needle tips end up pointing to the right and you see a purl ridge between the needles facing you, you've got it right. For the first round, I knit all the stitches just like you would in garter stitch after a round of purl. Then on round 2 (a purl round) I began the pattern increases as written. No more wonkiness at the midline, and you can't even tell where the booties begin ;-)

Last night I worked a bit on Wright. I'd like to get that done as well as Ian's long-sleeve Vestee before Ravelympics begin. Other small projects OTN that I have: Marie's Lullaby socks and a pair of Evenstar Mitts for me. I'm not sure if I'll get to them or not, but I also have queued a hat (or two!) and mitts set using some beige alpaca yarn. I also would like to knit something besides booties for Isla such as Pepita and Cozy Hooded Sleeping Sack.

A presto! Ciao!

Winter Project Bliss

After receiving a Knit Picks gift certificate and some Christmas gift money, I've decided what I'm going to get with each. Last night I ordered Knit Picks yarn for the cardigan shown here called Laura's Cardigan by Annie Modesitt. It's from Interweave Knits Summer 2009. To qualify for the free shipping, I also ordered some US4 Options tips and some sock yarn. Comfy Sport is the yarn I'm using for the cardigan. It's machine washable and is a cotton blend like the pattern yarn. Thanks to seeing someone's nice FO pics on Ravelry, the colors I chose: "fedora" brown, "october" orange, "planetarium" blue, "cypress" green, and "honeydew" yellow-green. For sock yarn, I chose Felici in the Marsh colorway and Stroll Kettle Dyed in the Wine colorway. I'm thinking Ampersand or Groovy Socks (link to FO pics using the exact colorway I ordered) for the Felici, but haven't yet decided on a pattern for the Stroll Kettle Dyed (maybe something by Cookie A?).

With a portion of my gift money and a Barnes & Noble gift card, I plan on getting some additional sock yarn at the LYS and the book Sock Innovation by Cookie A. Usually I purchase all my sock yarn from Knit Picks, although I've used Claudia Handpainted (awesome!), Saucon Sock, and Regia Bamboo (wears/washes extremely well!) -- all from Knitter's Mercantile. Some yarns I'm interested in: Malabrigo, Lorna's Laces, Claudia Handpainted (again), KPPPM, and Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Since I'll probably get something variegated, I already have a pattern in mind: Herringbone Rib Socks. I'd also like to get some fingering weight yarn to make the Winter Twilight Mitts.

With all this new yarn, I'm going to have to get busy finishing my current WIPs!!! Motivating me will be the upcoming Ravelympics since our knit knite group has decided to be a team this year. In addition to my WIPs and upcoming projects I already mentioned, I still have even more winter projects queued. I'm really enjoying the overflow of ideas and yarn at this time of year after spending months doing scrap yarn projects (speaking of which, I should take a picture of my now smaller scrap stash)! The last time I had this many knitting projects lined up was summer 2008 when I last got a Knit Picks gift certificate and cranked out a plethora of sweaters. Good times :-)

Up next... the baby booties I've been working on!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Evenstar Mitts Done and Knitty Thoughts

No pics, sorry! But, I finished my Evenstar Mitts. While watching The Notebook on tv, I zoomed through the rest of mitt #2. What a fun cable pattern! It kept me interested, and I was able to do the mitts entirely in combined knitting. These days, I've been doing lots of combined knitting due to the projects I've been working on. Anything with a mixture of knits and purls... Anyway, I soaked my mitts in Kookaburra. So, they smell wonderful and are ready to be worn :-) Of the 3 hanks of grey alpaca yarn I have, I only had to use one plus a smidge of a second hank. That means I can make a beret or slouchy hat to go along with the mitts - yay! Now, I'm also considering what hat and mitts to make with my beige alpaca yarn... BTW, here's a pic of the alpacas from which my yarn comes:

Sometimes, I just can't wait to cast on some projects. This particular time, it was a little pair of copycat socks using my leftover Stroll Handpainted in the Lullaby colorway: I'm making Marie a pair of Lullaby socks to match mine. Since I don't know how much yarn I'll have for the leg, I'm making them toe-up. Using the numbers from MSKS and incorporating a gusset/heel turn/flap, they should look nearly the same. I say nearly because I think I'll do eye of partridge on the flap rather than heel stitch. It'll be fun to work out how to mimic the 2-stitch garter edge while making sure to use the outside stitches to eat up the gusset increases. BTW, for the first time ever, I like how the toes look! Normally, I'm dissatisfied with toe-up standard or round toes thanks to the unevenness in half of the increases when doing 2xML (2aat magic loop). I did a Turkish CO --for kicks, of course, since I normally do the Magic CO-- and then did a standard toe using kfb so that the bar is one stitch inside each edge. Somehow I managed to keep the increases at the beginning of side 2 on each sock from being loose. I didn't do anything different in tensioning my edges, so go figure!

Besides casting on Marie's socks, I've also been working on Ian's Vestee top. For some reason, it's taking longer than usual. Probably because, instead of being mindless like I thought, I'm actually having to pay attention every other round when doing the [k2, p1] part of the seeded rib pattern. Not a lot of fun so far, this project.

Winter '09 Knitty is up! I like the drawn in, ribbed waists of Spoke and Zora. Mr. Darcy is a keeper, as well as Bitterroot with its beautiful stitch pattern and beads. Vroom is cute, and I could totally see Ian wearing that. It's been fun looking at the sock patterns. Just recently on Ravelry, in disecting toe-up heel turns, someone had mentioned there existing some sock patterns that do a W&T heel turn without increases (followed by a fixed flap). Saviano from this issue of Knitty does just that. I've done the kind where you stop short of doing all the gusset increases because you do increases on the W&T heel turn ( a la Wendyknits slipstitch heel). I wonder which I'd like better: increases or no increases on the heel turn? I've done the heel extension method where you pick up stitches to make a horseshoe right before doing the heel flap. But, I haven't done the Fleegle heel or Wendyknits' gusset heel which both skip the heel turn and don't have a fixed set of flap stitches. They look enticingly easy and very similar, but I'm not sure if I'd like the look of the back or sides of the heel since it's not perpendicular and fixed like a traditional flap. OK, OK... I'll quit blathering on about the technicals of toe-up sock heels!

Today Marie had her last day of preschool before the break. Her class put on a really cute Christmas program for the parents. It was hilarious seeing 4-year-olds trying to sing and move in unison. Some kids just stood there smiling and frozen rather than participating. ...Uh oh, my 2.5 hours of peace will be missing until January 4th!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Note To Self

Do not machine dry a knitted garment made from Knit Picks CotLin with any other knitted garments. How do I know this? I washed my red CotLin Henley Perfected together with my blue Tubey sweater made with KP Swish Worsted and two pairs of socks made from KP Stroll. They washed up just fine, but came out of the dryer as if I'd washed my CotLin garment for the first time. That CotLin REALLY, REALLY sheds! My lint screen was heavily coated. Normally, I wash the CotLin top by itself. But now that I have a humongous bottle of Kookaburra, I decided to do a load of handknitted items. Never, ever again will I be drying that CotLin top with other clothes, especially knitted ones. It took about 90 minutes to get all the embedded lint and fuzz off using a combination of a used dryer sheet, a disposable razor, and my lint shaver. Whew! It wears me out just thinking of it...

I wish I had pics to show because I've definitely been knitting. Since I last posted, I finished my bluish-green Knotty or Knice socks and used the leftovers to make Marie a matching pair. Hers were slightly different though in that I knit hers cuff down, did a garter-edge heel, and did a round toe to finish. As for my sportweight grey alpaca Evenstar Mitts, I'm just finishing the afterthought thumb and will be starting the 2nd mitt soon. I keep forgetting about my purple drapeneck cotton top but hope to return to that at some point. Oh, I also started a longsleeve green Vestee for Ian.

My favorite online language learning site Babbel is no longer free. But, I liked it so much that I decided to sign up for 3 months with 3 months free since I'm a longtime member. However, once my 6 months is up, that'll be the end :-( S0, I'll have to rely on sites like and to keep the language learning alive. On Babbel, I've worked up to over 2500 vocab items. Along with that, I like to casually read my old Italian grammar review textbook from college to supplement the vocabulary building.

Have you noticed that there's no mention of me running since September when the weather got cold? Not a coincidence, unfortunately. I don't really like running in any season but summer up here in Ohio. I never had to worry about running on ice or snow in the dark when living in North Carolina. However, I'm mentally ready to start up yet again. I need it. Can't wait either because I miss how good I feel when exercising regularly. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back down to my healthy range of 125-130 pounds. I haven't seen that range since before kids. I think I was about 130 when I was in prime shape from being in both marching band and running. The biggest difference between now and then, other than having all the time, freedom, and opportunity in the world to workout, is that I'm really going to have to watch my caloric intake this time around. Being 36, I can't only eat healthy anymore; I also need to eat smaller portions. I love food, so eating often is easy, but reducing portions will be tough for me. That's the key, though. When I worked out really hard for 6 months nearly 2 years ago and then when I ran in August and September of this year, I didn't pay attention to portion size, and guess what? I didn't lose a single pound. Back in my twenties, if I'd been working out like that, I would've dropped pounds easily. Not anymore. Just gotta accept that my metabolism isn't what it once was.