Monday, October 20, 2008

October update

Wow - I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted. I have been knitting some but mostly my time has been absorbed by work, travel, and minor health issues.

I did knit a cute little baby kimono for a work friend who is having her first baby. The pattern was from the Mason-Dixon book. I forgot to take a picture before I gifted it. You'll have to take my word for it that it was adorable.

I didn't finish the matching hat before the baby shower so I managed to get a picture.
The cabbage rose is from Nicky Epstein's Embellishments book. I can't wait to see it on the new baby!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Square Knitting

I found this fun book the other day that appealed to my love of geometric shapes. The book has great ideas for combining square patterns and colors for making different items. The pictures are very good, the combination formulas are helpful, and the pattern instructions clear.
I made a dishcloth square (can't have too many dishcloths). The square was a bit small for a dishcloth so I added a half double crochet edging. I like the way it turned out.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Constant Companion is ready for action

I completed the Constant Companion felted bag from the Knitters Stash book. I learned some clever new techniques from this pattern. I am always amazed that people create this stuff.

The slots for the handle straps were made during the first bind-off I-cord. I bound off 3 stitches by slipping and passing over then continued the I-cord without binding off to make a length of I-cord that is the top of the slot. I then continued the I-cord with binding off. Here’s a picture of the slot before felting. Pretty cool, isn’t it? The loop and button closure was made in-line in the same manner. Here’s a picture before felting. The “button” is a length of I-cord tied in a knot.
And here are the after pictures. I felted the pieces in my kitchen sink last Sunday while Tropical Storm Fay dumped 20.1 inches of rain on my house in 2 ½ days.
The yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Cobblestone Heather. The contrast color is Wine. I think I’ll get a lot of use out of this bag.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Add a binding to your books

Tropical storm Fay has us socked in. We have had 8" of rain since yesterday morning. And there's still a lot of storm to go. We lost power 3 times so far - just for short periods. We did have to light the hurricane candles. We are storm veterans so we know the drill.

On the knitting front, I did something I think is really cool. My friend K. told me about a tip Knit Picks' Kelley gave on one of her podcasts. The tip is to have a spiral binding put on a knitting book.
If you are knitting from the book, you can fold it in half and stand it up. Here's my Knitters Stash book after the spiral binding was put on. Kinkos charges about $4 per book. It really works well and I had several books bound.
Check the inside margins of the book to make sure there is enough white space to add a spiral binding. You can also ask the copy shop staff if the book is suitable for binding.
Well, I'm going back to knitting on the couch while the storm rages.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More stash

One of the local yarn shops in Tallahassee had a big sale last week and one of the yarns I snagged is Margarita by Plymouth Yarn. It's a 78% nylon 22% micro tactel blend (whatever that is). I was really attracked to the colors. The picture is a bit fuzzy but the colors are true.I knit a swatch to see how it would look with those little knubby things sticking out. As you can see, the nubs disappear when it's knitted up. The first few rows of the swatch are garter stitch. I switched to stockinette to see which I liked better. Stockinette won out. I'm going to make a sleeveless top - I think a very plain pattern will work best. The yarn will do all the work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Felting a companion

I have started another project from the Knitters Stash book. I love this book. It is full of patterns from the owners of yarn shops around the country. The layout is lush, with great pictures and delightful narratives about the shops. Everytime I crack open this book I want to yell "ROAD TRIP", hop in the car, and visit every shop.
I am making the "My Constant Companion" from the My Yarn Shop in Coos Bay, OR. I can't wait to felt this bag and put a knitting project in it. I haven't felted in a while so I am itching to shrink some wool.
I am using my very favorite felting yarn, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, in Cobblestone Heather. I will use Wine for the contrasting color on the pocket. I will also make an extra pocket to attach on the inside for extra organization.
The Rambling Rows afghan and Henry scarf (both Christmas gift knitting I am working on) will have to go in the back seat for now while I knit something for myself.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Roomba don't knit

I have a robot! My robot cleans for me while I am at work and if I want it to, it will go on another cleaning mission when I get home.

I bought a iRobot Roomba model 580. It is awesome and I love it (I have no affiliation to iRobot).
Here is Roomba vacuuming around my knit bag.
This is a technology gadget that provides real value to me. The last gadget I bought was a Garmin and I can't say enough good things about it. I was in Orlando at a conference recently and I just happened to leave at the beginning of a fierce thunderstorm. Visibility was just a few yards and I was driving in unfamiliar territory. The Garmin guided me flawlessly through many turns to get to the turnpike. I love my Garmin. It found a brew pub in suburban Chicago when we only knew that the pub had the word Rock in the name.

Back to Roomba. It really works just like the web site says. You can guide it around your house, deny it entry to areas, or just turn it on and let it go. It goes under couches, tables, beds, chairs. Who knew there was so much cat fur under my couch? Ewh! But Roomba doesn't care. It doesn't judge me for not vacuuming under my couch for a year. It just does its job and then goes home to its little pod to recharge. Thank you, Roomba.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ridged Rib Washcloth

I completed the Ridged Rib Washcloth while I was on my vacation to Michigan and Ohio. I was in the Detroit area to visit my mom and siblings and then I was in Ohio to visit old friends. The friends aren't old - but our friendship is.

I wish I would have taken a few pictures of the Ohio ladies knitting to show you. This is a very strong and wonderful group of women who gather almost weekly to knit and socialize. I am most envious of their camaraderie. I soak in the friendship while I am visiting. I so much enjoy and appreciate Joanie, Kit, Shirley, Vickie, Toni, and my 2 best buds Dianna and Kay.
These are very special ladies who contribute to the collective in their own wonderful ways.

And not to slight my 85-year-old mom - she learned to knit after a slight stroke a few years ago. She could no longer crochet so she decided to learn to knit. My mom is an exceptional woman who is independent, strong, determined, and full of the spirit of life and God. I aspire to be as nice a person as my mom is. I'll probably not make it cause I'm kind of cantankerous.
Anyway, the washcloth pattern is the Ridged Rib from the Harmony Guide: Knit and Purl. The yarn is Euroflax linen. I made up the washcloth pattern by casting on 77 stitches, knitting the first 5 rows in garter, knitting the 4 row repeat for the ridged rib until I thought it was big enough, and ending with another 5 rows of knit stitch.
It turned out great.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Progress report

I have 3 projects going now.
The Rambling Rows afghan is a little over half done. It's my go-to project when I'm tired or just have a few minutes. It doesn't take much thinking and is soothingly repetitive.

The Ridged Rib Washcloth is about 1/4 complete. I'm using Euroflax and a pattern from the Harmony Guide: Knit and Purl. I love the Harmony Guides. The pictures are great and they provide inspiration when I want to try something different.

And finally, I am knitting the Henry scarf from This is a very unusual (for me) pattern that makes a woven kind of knit. It is knit along the length instead of top to bottom so I really have more done than it looks. The stitch pattern seems complicated but it really isn't. And I got to try a new cast on with waste yarn.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Practical knitting

How can knitting something that you will use for work make you feel better? That's what happened to me when I was in a knitting slump a couple of weeks ago.

I knitted 2 dishcloths - one just a big mitered square, the second 4 small mitered squares hooked together.

I feel kind of silly telling you that I enjoyed making the dishcloths. But it was very relaxing. No pressure to make anything that fit. No pressure to make anything big or fancy. Just practical, satifying knitting.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A knitter in the wild

I attended a computing technology conference in Orlando this week. Among the 800 or so geeks running around with smartphones and laptops I found knitting in public! Carol from Seattle impressed me with her courage to knit while listening to the session on how server virtualization is impacting root cause analysis.

My apologies to Carol for the picture quality - I had to use my geeky smartphone. I had fun talking to Carol. She is an interesting and delightful woman... and her sock was beautiful too.

So fellow knitters, the end of the story is that Carol knitted for 3 days in the conference and no one vilified her, spit on her, or asked her to pack up her knitting and beat it. If Carol can knit unharmed surrounded by geeks, so can you!

Monday, June 16, 2008

What was I thinking?

I’m sure this has never happened to you.

I knit the entire pink square without a hint of disaster while watching the US Open.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lost My Knitting Mo

I think it was inevitable. I have lost knitting and blogging momentum. I am in a slump.

When I started this blog last December I was flush with ideas, projects, and thoughts to write about. Because I am seldom without opinions and ideas at work (I am a manager, after all) I just assumed I’d have knitting brilliance flowing freely for a long time.

Part of the problem is that knitting and blogging about knitting have begun to feel like a job that I have to do. I already have a job – in fact, several jobs. Y’all know what I mean.

Knitting for me is a hobby. A pursuit of leisure, a diversion, a sideline relaxation. Not a job. And because knitting is starting to feel like a job I am starting to feel belligerent. I like to think of myself as determined and gritty but my husband says that sometimes I’m just plain obstinate. I think I feel a wee bit obstinate right now.

So it is time to step back and make knitting a hobby again. And knit just for pure enjoyment when I want to. And if I want to blog I will - not because I have to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How do you like your yarn shop?

I recently read a post on the Knit Like a Man blog about shopping for yarn. It got me thinking about how yarn shops are a lot like restaurants. Each shop has its unique menu of yarn, ambiance, service quality, and price. And just like restaurants, yarn shops appeal to different kinds of knitters. In my city there are three locally owned yarn shops with wildly different personalities.

Yarn Shop A has been around for many years. The owner is older and has an established clientele. The shop’s yarn menu has a lot of big name variety with yarns ranging from basic to fancy. To me, the ambiance seems cluttered, disorganized, and gloomy. The owner is always friendly and helpful but in a rushed sort of way. The knitters that hang out there come across as cliquish. I shop there occasionally but it’s not a shop I go to just to browse or to see what’s new.

Yarn Shop B is relatively new and is owned by a young woman starting out in the business world. Her yarn menu is a bit limited and is focused on natural fiber yarns and fairly traded goods. The shop is in a sunny and bright store front next to a used book store. The clientele is typically young and tattooed. The shop owner is sweet and knowledgeable but like Shop A, it doesn’t draw me back.

Yarn Shop C has been in business for a couple of years and I just recently discovered it. The shop is a bit small but the yarn menu is surprisingly well rounded. The ambiance is bright, artistic, casual and welcoming. The owner has many items on display that demonstrate ways to use the yarns she carries. She is very helpful and will spend time discussing a project or yarn selection. I think I like this shop best because the owner makes me feel welcome and I like the yarn she sells.

Which brings us back to the restaurant analogy. I frequent restaurants that serve food I like at a reasonable price in a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Making progress

I turned this...
into this...
My first Christmas present completed.
This is a scarf for my daughter-in-law. She lives in Michigan and needs warm and soft for winter. The cornflower blue, raspberry red, and black yarn is Misti Alpaca worsted 100% baby alpaca. Very nice to work with.
I knit the scarf along the length and alternated between the feather yarn and the alpaca. I like the way the stripes go lengthwise. I made the sections different widths so the scarf has some visual interest.
One present down, many more to go.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Going nowhere

I can't believe I caught another cold. Two in two months - so unfair. I usually don't get one per year. I have been down for the count for 2 1/2 days. No working, no reading, no movies, no knitting. Just sleeping. Work on the Rambling Rows afghan has stalled here.
I'm feeling better today, sort of. It's Saturday and I'm not golfing. How can that be better? Sigh...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Christmas knitting plan

I was inspired by Beverlyann when she wrote in her blog about gift knitting. I decided to plan my knitting projects for Christmas gifts.

First, I made a list of things I’d like to knit. Then I made a list of people that I wanted to give a gift to. And I tried to match them. I made some adjustments and created my project list. Here’s an example.
From my chart I know what and how many things I want to make, but can I do it all by Christmas? I calculated times on how many total weeks I thought it would take me to complete a project. These are not necessarily concurrent weeks - just total effort. When I saw the total weeks I realized my gift giving plan was overly ambitious. I do have one afghan 30% completed but there are only 33 weeks till package shipping day.

I’ll have to ponder a bit and whittle down my list.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cardinal bird baby pictures

I took a few pictures of the cardinal babies after work today. Sorry for the poor quality - my camera doesn't zoom enough to get close without climbing into the camelia bush. The momma was mad at me. I've learned that cardinals can CHEEP CHEEP loud and long. So loud and so long that hosting a cardinal nest is losing some of its charm.
Look closely in the middle of the picture and you will see a baby's head.

Cardinal babies hatched

The cardinal babies hatched out last Wednesday. I have been trying to take pictures of them when the parents are on the hunt, but the babies hunker down and just look like brown blobs in a brown nest.

I peeked at them last night and they have tiny feathers now. They normally leave the nest after 10 days so I should be able to get decent pictures to share soon.

It's been fun watching the parents feed the babies from my bedroom window.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Womanly knitting – a celebration of liberation

If you are a woman knitter, do you celebrate your womanly knitting? A work friend recently told me about a conversation with a group of mothers she knows. They talked about how they don’t hide their public knitting for fear of seeming too girly, matronly, or grandmotherly. I know what they mean.

I was born in 1950 and came of age as a women during the era of Women’s Lib. Does anyone use that term anymore? Do we still need liberating? Perhaps from ourselves…

I was a very liberated young woman and learned how to exist and thrive in the heavy-duty man’s world of manufacturing. I learned how to be damn tough and hide my femaleness. I learned how to like and talk sports, how to cuss (my pals will tell you I excel at cussing), how to put up with crap and dish it out, and generally, how to act male.

I make no judgment on if it is “better” to be male or female. I love hanging with men because I love to tease, debate, and challenge. I wasn’t so good in my 20s and 30s on hanging with women. I wasn’t good at the social protocol needed to get along in female packs. I was uncomfortable with the rules and I just plain didn’t want to learn them.

As I got older I discovered the sheer pleasure in the company of women. I learned not to compare women’s way to men’s ways but to simply accept the value of womanly camaraderie. I also learned how to get along. I largely have my Ohio pals to thank for this. They accepted me as is and slowly drew me into their band. They taught me their ways.

All but knitting, that is. I drew the line at knitting. They all knitted like fanatics but I resisted because it was too girly for me. When I finally tried knitting (and became infatuated) I hid my knitting from people in my daily life. No kntterly talk on the golf course. No K2tog at work. No yarn chitchat in social groups.

It wasn’t until I was solidly captivated by the calming, creative experience of knitting that I accepted with great pride that I AM A KNITTER AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT. Hmmmm, seems kind of manly to shout about it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Knitting complete on Big Green

The Garden Gate afghan is done and it has a new name - Big Green. Adding another 2 skeins of yarn made it big enough to merit the "Big" and because it's so big now the "Green" is prominent.

Here's the specs.
Pattern: Garden Gate from the Little Box of Knitted Throws by Martingale.

Yarn: Jarbo Garn Raggi - a machine washable blend of 70% wool 30%nylon, worsted weight. I used 2 strands because the pattern called for super bulky.

Needles: #15 US Knit Picks Options circulars. The afghan got pretty heavy after a foot, so I turned the circulars into straight needles by adding a cable to one needle tip and capping both ends. That's the first time I've done that and it worked great.

Stitch: a 12 row repeat Basket Stitch

I washed it in the washing machine and dried it on low heat Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening it was keeping me warm on a chilly Florida night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Babies on the way

We discovered a cardinal nest in the camelia bushes just outside the lanai. I took this picture from inside the screen so it's a bit fuzzy.
I went outside to take this picture.
I spooked the mom and she flew to the dogwood tree and scolded me loudly. I quickly took this picture and went inside. She came back in a few minutes and settled right back in. No worries.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Knitting more on the Gate

The Garden Gate afghan is back in action. I received the yarn from my LYS on Thursday and I am knitting away, adding length to a pretty short afghan. I really want to finish it before the weather gets too hot.

My original plan was to buy some more yarn in a contrasting color that I could add to both ends and perhaps a border down the sides. Since Paula had to order the yarn anyway, I decided to stay with the dark green and just add on to the bound off edge.

I unbound and continued the pattern. I am about half way through the first 2 skeins (I’m using 2 strands together). My only problem - my cat, JennyAnyDots, wants to lay on it while I am knitting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Row, row, row

I’ve started my first Rambling Rows afghan. I’ll be making two – one for each granddaughter. I’m optimistic that I’ll want to make a second one. If not, I’ll come up with another plan. There’s always plenty of yarn and patterns to inspire me.
I think the colors look great together. They are not my personal style but will just the ticket for a little girly-girl.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Superwash and the colors here are Bubblegum, Ballerina, and Baby Blue. The stitch definition is great and the yarn is very nice to work with.

I’m really enjoying the pattern. There is plenty of explanation, good illustrations, and lots of helpful hints. And lots of garter stitch.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not quite closing the Garden Gate

I sort of finished the Garden Gate afghan. I ran out of yarn so I stopped knitting (obviously) but the afghan is a bit too short. I took it over to Really Knit Stuff (where I bought the yarn) for a consultation with Paula.

What could I do to make it bigger? I vaguely remembered that I bought all of the green yarn that Paula had. Could I add on end pieces in a contrasting color? Paula and I decided that I could add to both ends of the afghan with a dark blue. Unfortunately, she has to order the yarn for me so the Garden Gate will go into hiatus until the yarn arrives. I’ll post a picture when I’m done. I’m really liking the texture and color. And it feels so nice too.

The big furry critter in the background is my Maine Coon cat, RumpleTeaser. She likes to have her picture taken. It's all about the cat.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Knitting sick – or is it sick knitting?

I’m not a very good knitter when I’m sick. For the last week and a half I have had the super cold that is going around. I pushed myself to finish the Easter egg nests for the granddaughters (free pattern on the right sidebar) so I could ship them north. I made a small mistake on one but I said “good enough was better than none at all”.

I knit some rows on the Garden Gate throw. It was slow going and I know I dozed off in mid-row a few times.

The pattern is from the Little Box of Knitted Throws by Martingale knit with Jarbo Garn Raggi.

I did order yarn from Knit Picks (Swish worsted) for a Rambling Rows afgan. My intent is to make one for each granddaughter for Christmas. Most of the colors I wanted were on sale so that was a bright spot in my day. Such little comforts..

Both granddaughters are girly-girls - and I am so not - so the afgan colors will be pinks and purples with some blue for contrast. Hope I don’t get a tummy ache knitting with colors like bubblegum and ballerina!

Friday, March 7, 2008

A better nest

I wanted to improve the egg nest I wrote about in my last post and make it a bit sturdier. I used 2 stands of yarn and larger needles for the sides of the nest and that did the trick. The nest is no longer floppy and squishy and holds the eggs just fine. And the shape is better too.

The pattern is posted in the right side bar. The nest is a quick knit – about 2 1/2 hours start to finish.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The eggs are falling out of the nest

Easter is looming and there are granddaughters to send treasures to. And what better Easter treasure than a hand knit egg nest.
Last Friday I was at my LYS buying Euroflax linen to send to my mom in Detroit. Mom was interested in my washcloth projects
and wanted to knit one. While picking out the linen I noticed that wonderful Paula, LYS owner, had several Easter egg nests scattered around her shop. Paula had crocheted them without a pattern and I thought I could recreate a nest as a knitted item. The Prodigious Knitter happened to be there and we conspired - yarn, technique, color - it was great.

First attempt, not so good. I had this weird cone thing going on – not very nest like. I started over with bigger needles and this version came out better. I like how it looks but it was a bit too floppy and squishy.
So I am going try again, but when I knit the sides I will use 2 strands of yarn to make it more substantial. After all, can’t have the eggs falling out of the nest.

I’ll post pictures and pattern in a day or so when I get the next version done. Right now, there’s a Jameson Irish whiskey and a piece of dark chocolate waiting for me. After the work day I had today, I deserve them both.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Today was a baking day. The temp reached 74 this afternoon so it was wonderful to open the windows and let the fresh air mingle with the aroma of fresh bread and cookies.
The bread is 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from the
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. This bread never fails and the organic white wheat flour is sweet with no bitter flavor. I like to make the dough in my bread machine and bake the loaf in the oven. The bread machine does all the work and I get a traditional shaped loaf.

The cookies are oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip. The cookie recipe is also from the King Arthur book but with a twist. A co-worker gave me a jar of peanut butter powder and I added 2/3 cup to the dough. The cookies turned out great. All whole grain – oat flour and oatmeal - with a peanut buttery taste.

The peanut butter powder is from Bell Plantation in Tifton, GA. It's pretty cool stuff. I added 1/4 cup to a box of instant chocolate pudding and it was like eating a peanut butter cup. Yummy...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A couple of finished objects

I finished the seed stitch stripe washcloth - don't you just love a FO? Here it is in a sweet grass rice fanner basket made by one of the wonderful artisans in Charleston, SC. I finished the vase below a while back and thought I'd add it to this post. The pattern is from Knit Picks - Felted Petal Bowls by M'lyn Walther and knit in Wool of the Andes Bulky Hand Dye Spumoni. I really like the finished product but the pattern was a bit challenging. I had to try and keep the color way in the same place as I went around. I would make this pattern again but in a solid color so I wouldn't have to fuss with the color matching.