My Virtual Sanity

Have you ever felt the need to share your thoughts with virtual strangers just so you can pretend that you have adult conversations during the day? Well, that's what I'm about to do. Be prepaired for my life as a stay at home, obsessive knitter, and my attempts to stay connected with the rest of the world.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dangerous Yarn enabeling

I recieved a skein of STR (Socks that Rock) as a gift today. I have heard wonderful things about this yarn and am excited to try it out! This is STR in "Lagoon" isn't it pretty? Just enough for a pair of socks. Hmm, to knit them in a normal simple pattern, or to find a pretty pattern... maybe Denmark from Knittng on the Road?

3 Cheers for the Library

"Having Fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!" ~Arthur
(Come on, chant it with me)

I live in a suburb of Denver. Those of you who know Denver, know that the entire front range is essentially one giant connected suburb with a small "down town" in the center. My local library is very small. I think the largest section in it is the children's section. They have very good story time activities throughout the week, and I have taken the kiddos to those on occasion. They do not have a very large adult fiction section, though, so I don't tend to get books for myself. I had never even thought that the library might have "how to" or pattern books until someone on the knitlist suggested that someone else look at their library for a particular book before buying it.

"Pshhhh, my library is so small they couldn't possibly have any knitting books of interest" I thought. A couple weeks later, I decided to actually look. I believe that all, if not most, of the libraries in Colorado have online websites complete with catalogs. I typed in "knit" and "knitting" in the topic search and amazingly it came up with 80 titles! True only about a dozen of these are physically in MY library, but all the rest I can request online from my computer and then pick up at my library (they call you when the books come in).

Sooo, sitting happily on my desk right now I have 7 knitting books, all of which came from the library. I thought you might like a little review of my borrowed books. After all, I wasn't shy about telling you what I thought of the Debbie Bliss book.

"Knitting on the Road" by Nancy Bush
The socks I am currently making come from this book. I am making the "Conwy" on page 23. I like this book, although I think I would only make about half of the sock patterns listed. There are 17 patterns with very good instructions. Each pattern has a full page picture of the sock, as well as a short blurb about the place that the author visited that inspired the design for the book. I believe the goal was to feel like you had gone on a trip with the author to all these places. I must say I just looked at the pictures and skipped the blurbs. I'm really not all that fond of the colors she chose. Most are bland colors much like the cover of the book. We all know, though, that colors can be easily changed. Each pattern also includes a chart (either for color work or for lace). All yarn, gauge, finished size, and misc. Information of this kind is nicely separated in a side bar on the page, so it is easy to find and reference. So far in the 1 sock I've made, the fit has been absolutely perfect. I'm very pleased. What I really like about this book is that because so many of the patterns are lace, rather than Fair-isle you have an infinite possibility for color and different socks.

"Last- minute Knitted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson
I picked this book because several of my knitting parent friends have talked about items they've made from it. I must say, however, that I'm not impressed. This is not a book that I will be buying. The information at the beginning about different types of fibers and how to care for them was very interesting, and helpful, but the patterns just didn't inspire me. Maybe it just felt too "Martha Stuart-esk" to me. Not that I don't like Martha, but I generally don't like her retro colors or feel. This book gives me that same feeling. If you really like that, this might be worth checking out from the library for a trial run.

The book is separated into sections based on the amount of time required to make them (a very nice organizational idea). Each pattern again has the important information (size, yarn, gauge, etc) all set aside in a nice little side bar, and provides a very nice photo of the finished project.

The first section: "Less than 2 hr Gifts" includes baby booties, tassels, pompoms, a kerchief scarf, tiny little sweater and stocking minis, and felted pot holders. I could see maybe giving the booties, pot holders, or kerchief as presents, but the rest smack of "wrapping decoration items" to me. I don't really consider a pompom a gift, but that's just me.

The second section is "2-4 hr projects", which includes a baby bonnet, leg warmers, a scarf, children's hat, tea cozy (cashmere because we all need to use EXPENSIVE yarn on a tea pot), fingerless gloves, and a lace scarf. The bonnets I thought were ugly in that "Martha Stuart-esk" way I described earlier. No one wears leg warmers anymore... unless you're a dancer. The rainbow scarf was actually very pretty, but is just a k2, p2 rib. It was the yarn that made it pretty. I didn't find the hats particularly inspiring, as they are just basic hats. I have never understood the point in a teapot cozy, much less in Cashmere! I have friends who really liked the fingerless gloves, and this is probably the best pattern in this section, but I, personally, don't see the point in them. I don't work in an office with air conditioning pounding down on my poor little hands. That brings us to the lace scarf. I'm not sure what I think of this. It seems just a bit short, and very simple lace. I have found other free patterns online that I like much better, but it's not a bad scarf.

"4-6hr projects" includes a child sweater, baby pants, 3 more scarves, a drawstring pouch, and "Gusseted floor cushions". The scarves look simple, but nothing outstanding. The floor cushions are essentially thick square cushions. They are intriguing looking, but in the orange she chose smack of 1950's or 1970's. And once again, we have the little pouch, which is more of a wrapping, not a gift in and of it's self.

"6-8hr gifts" and "More than 8hr gifts" have much more promising items in them. I'll list them briefly: Simple garter stitch patchwork baby blanket, felted yoga mat bag, cowl, camisole (nice, but the model needs to wear a bra with it, and a nice little shrug), cabled purse (with lining!) and 3 toys (bear, bunny, and elephant). The final section includes: a sweater, Herringbone Poncho (ugly frumpy design, but very intriguing stitch pattern), afghan in increasing colors of natural alpaca (simple slip stitch pattern, but very pretty effect), a rippled scarf, and a men's zippered sweater. None of these are by any means difficult or challenging projects. They seem to have simple stitch patterns, and simple lines.

The book is not bad, it just isn't my taste I think. Nothing called out to me "KNIT ME!" It also finishes with the very "Martha Stuart-esk" how to package your hand made gift section. I must admit they look very pretty all wrapped up. I just don't know if I would ever have the time or patience to do it that way.... maybe some day when I open up my own hand knitted boutique shop :D

"Knitting from the Top" by Barbara G. Walker
My copy has a different cover, very 1070's. That doesn't matter though, because I really like this book. This is not a pattern book, it is a reference book. It explains IN DETAIL how to design your own sweaters, all top down, so that you can try them on as you go. You have to read the entire book, as with each new basic design, she draws on elements that she taught you in a previous section. The basic designs include: Reglan Pullover, Reglan Cardigan, Cape, Seamless Skirt (several styles), Reversible pants (lounge wear, let's not wear these to work), 4 different types of sleeves, Dropped -shoulder sweater, and finally a hat.

My copy is copyright 1972 and does not have any color pictures in it. It has some nice diagrams, and examples of what your stitches will do. It is very much a "make your own sweater" book. I was not planning on making a sweater when I picked this up, and feel that I can't use it to the best ability before having to return it. This is definitely a book that I will buy eventually, though, and put on the shelf next to my "Knitting without Tears".

"Knit and Crochet with Beads" by Lily M Chin
I love this book. I don't think it's necessary to buy it, however. Borrow it from the library, or a friend and learn the principles, then give it back. Again, I think of this book as a reference book. It has several patterns in it, but none of them really spoke to me (other than the very beautiful shawl on the cover). It gives very good instructions on different types of beads, and how to incorporate them into your knitting and crochet. She lists 3 different methods for knitting with beads: prestrung beads, separate strand, and hoisted atop stitches. She gives patterns for each type of beading so that you can practice, and shows you the varying results you get depending on how exactly you employ those methods. Given my style, I think I am inclined to use the "hoisted atop stitches" method the most. This simply means that you put your bead on a small crochet hook, slip the stitch off the needle, slip the bead from the hook over both loops of the stitch, and place the stitch back on the needle. It doesn't require any preplanning on how many, or which order beads need to go in like the other 2 prestrung versions do. She then gives 2 different methods for sewing or embroidering beads on a finished garment. Finally, she provides 5 different methods for crocheting with beads.

After having read this book, I am excited to try to add beads to my knitting. I plan to make my mother-in-law a branching out scarf for mother's day, and now am excited to try adding beads to it to make it just that much more special!

"Adorable Knits for Tots" by Zoe Mellor
I may have to review this book again at a later time. I haven't spent much time with it honestly. I won't be making anything from it before I return it, although there are a couple designs that I like. I especially like the "Lacy Sweater" on page 30. This has a pretty little girl sweater with a flower worked in bobbles and cables. I love that. Like most pattern books, though, there are only a few that speak to me. The rest are just kind of "eh". I think I will revisit this book at a later time, when I want to knit that sweater. Maybe then something else will speak to me.

"Creature Comforts" by Amy Bahrt
This is one of those books where I am very tempted to just copy all the charts in the book, as this is really the best part of it. The sweaters are all the same basic shape, the only difference between it and the next one are the colors and the animal depicted on it. I am planning on using 4 different colors of blue and some tan and white that I have to make a baby blanket for the little boy we are expecting in March. I may not start on it until after I have to return the book, so I may either copy the charts that I need, or just renew it. Charts provided in the book: Car, Cow, Duck (4 different types), Giraffe, elephant, sheep (2 different types), bear (2 different types), fish, Train, Fire Truck, Chicken, Bunny, reindeer, Scotty Dog, and Sail Boat. I won't go into detail on the instructions for the patters, as I said before I really think the charts are the most important component. As my husband commented, all the sweaters are the same. They just have different colors and different animals on them. This is definitely worth looking at, though, if you have a baby in your life.

"Bags" A Knitter's Dozen
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I will be buying this book. It has 20 different bags in it everywhere from backpacks, to lacy evening bags, to giant felted totes. I love the small compact size of it, and I love the patterns. The instructions seem to be good, and again it has all of the important first information off to the side in that easy to reference side bar. It describes how to wet felt, how to needle felt, how to make a twisted cord, and many other great things for people like me who have never made a bag before. I will be renewing this book if they will let me, as I already have a pretty little lace bag on my to do list. After the Olympics that is. It also has great diagrams on how to put things together, how to sew in a zipper and may other things. I can't wait to add this to my "Presents for Dawn list" which already includes a set of Denise interchangeable needles. Hint Hint, I would really like some Denise interchangeable needles.

Well, I got through all 7 books, but kinda ran out of steam by the end. Sorry. Now I think I've spent enough time in cyberspace and want to get back to my sock.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Pattern: "Aviator Bear " from Debbie Bliss "Teddy Bears"
Yarn: Red Heart Supersaver worsted weight yarn in 3 shades of brown
Needles: Size 2 & 3
Size: Completed bear is about 20" tall standing, and about 12" sitting
Well, he is finally completed. I finished his goggles and his scarf today. I think if I had knit just on this 1 project, it would have taken me about 2 weeks. Maybe a little less. He was also completed ENTIRELY from items I had in my stash. Yarn, zipper, and teddy eyes. Well, I did have to go buy a tapestry needle, but I did have all the knitting needles on hand.

When I bought this book, I was soooo excited to make a bear. All of the clothes were adorable! I had great visions of making a bear, and then making ALL the clothes in the book to fit it. Hey! Maybe I'd even sell them at a craft fair or something! I pictured a cute little trunk from Hobby Lobby or something with tiny little hangers in it with the teddy wardrobe. I don't know if that will happen in the future. I REALLY love the finished project, but it was A LOT of work. All in all, there are 13 pieces to the bear that need to be made, blocked, and sewn together. Each of those 13 pieces has between 2 and 6 yarn ends to weave in. All, in all, there are a total of 31 pieces in this bear and his outfit. Debbie bliss has a fondness for darts, so you'll knit a section, then cut your yarn, knit the mirror section, then knit across both sections. OR you will knit happily across all stitches for a while, then only go half way across work up a bit on only half the stitches, cut your yarn, work the mirrored section and keep going. This leaves a hole in the center of your knitting that later needs to be sewn up. My question is, can these darts be accomplished without so much finishing being required? Can't one just make increases or decreases in there instead of cutting the darn yarn or making a hole that later needs to be sewn up?! This is not even mentioning the fact that the book doesn't have any diagrams, and just the vaguest of directions on assembly. I love the patterns, but Debbie... You're a lazy pattern writer.

I must say though, that my seaming skills have improved tremendously. Take a look at the picture of the pants. There's a seam running right down the middle. I dare you to find it.

My bear is much bigger than the ones in the book. She called for DK weight yarn, and I used Worsted weight yarn. I'm fairly new to real yarn and wasn't exactly sure what the difference in DK weight and worsted is. I figured it didn't really matter, as my other teddy bear book actually suggests you change needle sizes and yarn sizes to change bear sizes. Just make sure you use the same brand of yarn for the entire project so that the clothes fit.

Now that this bear is done, I plan to knit a sock. Yes, a nice, quick, easy sock while I wait for the Olympics to start on Friday. Maybe here in a month or so, I'll feel the need to make another bear that will actually stay in our house.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Giant teddy bear is kicking my butt

Well, a certain 2 yr old's birthday party was yesterday and I had been working furiously all morning to finish his clothes in time for the 3pm party. It didn't happen. I knew I wouldn't have the trim done for the jacket after I started it Friday evening. It took me no less than 5 attempts to get the pattern down correct. It is supposed to semi resemble the sheepskin you see on sheerling coats, so had a drop stitch loop that you were then supposed to knit back with the next row. I assume that this keeps the drop stitch from just making a REALLY long stitch and to actually make pretty little loops. I finally figured it out, but being 8 months pregnant, there was no way I could stay up past 10pm to finish it.

So, Saturday morning comes around and I finish the length of trim I was making and sew it onto the collar of the jacket. My seaming is really coming along. I'm actually quite proud, and can give all the credit to the awesome video on I also dig through my sewing machine for the box of zippers that I inherited from my mother in law with the sewing machine. I also inherited a box of shoe laces, a bazillion buttons, and a box of various trims, and bias tapes. I'm hoping that there is a zipper in here that I can use, because I really don't want to have to run to the store to get 1, especially since I don't have a car on Saturday mornings (DH takes our only car to work with him at 4am) and the party is that afternoon. I find the perfect little 6" zipper and finish up the jacket. I then decided that I could EITHER finish the trim for the jacket, or make the poor bear some pants, but not both. I decided on the pants and knit non-stop for 4 or 5 hours to try to get them done. My kids are tearing up the living room, and only look up if I hear screaming to suggest a new activity "why don't you play memory game now?"

2 hrs before the party my husband gets home, and I have completed all of the knitting of the 2 pieces for the pants. Yea! I never though I'd be excited to put down the knitting needles and pick up a darning thread to seam. I hate seaming. I pull out my book and realize that unlike every other piece of the bear's body or clothes, it does not tell me how to sew the stupid pants together. It simply says "sew up seams" I am very perturbed with Debbie Bliss for this. I have made due without diagrams, and have learned to follow her infuriating paragraph style instructions, but come on! You have to tell me how to sew these together. I look at my pieces, and look at the bear and make an educated guess. "I think the ribbing is at the bottom of the legs since his legs are much longer than the distance from his bottom to his waist". Makes sense right? Well, I was wrong. It is 15 minutes before the party, I finish my perfect invisibly seams and try the pants on the bear. They don't even remotely fit. Apparently the ribbing goes at the waist to hold the darn things up. I'm 8 months pregnant, I've worked to exhaustion finishing these pants this morning, and at this point I am about to cry. We pregnant women are emotional like that.

I take the bear and his misshapen pants to the party anyway and proceed to rip out my perfect seams in the car. I ask the 2 yr old's father what he wants me to do. Do you want the bear now and I'll give you the pants later? Do you want me to keep it until it's done? As a wonderful friend, and typical non-pregnant man. He tells me not to worry about it. They'll pick up the bear the next time we see them, and to take my time. *Big sigh* so today I am seaming up the pants again, hopefully this time correctly. We shall see in a bit.

On a much brighter note, my yarn came for my Rogue sweater. It actually came the same day I posted last, but I really needed to work on that teddy bear and have not played with it yet. Isn't it beautiful?! Once the bear is done, I can begin my checklist of things to do for the olympics:
  1. Measure DH for the sweater. I plan to pick the closest shoulder width and then adjust the arm length and body length as needed.
  2. Swatch with my pretty blue yarn to determine which needle size I actually need.
  3. Print out my 40 page pattern for easy portability (can 40 pages and a giant sweater really be easily portable?!)
  4. Sit impatiently for the olympics to begin so that I can start knitting it.
  5. Cast on second sock in order to distract myself from the new, pretty, blue yarn sitting in the corner.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Knitting Olympics

I have officially signed up for the Yarn Harlot's 2006 Winter Knitting Olympics.
I will be competing on the sweater team. The Knitting Olympics are fairly simple, but sound kind of strange. Essentially each knitting participant picks a project, or group of projects to start and complete during the 2006 Olympic games. They can not cast on (or start) before the flame is lit, and must complete their project before the flame goes out. That's just 16 days.

My project:
I will be attempting to complete a Rogue sweater for my husband.
My equipment:
  • Circular needles, cable needle, yarn needles, etc.
  • 10 balls (more than enough) Plymouth Encore Worsted Weight Yarn in Dark Blue and Black.
My preparation:
I have completed the sleeve cable pattern 4 times over in my Rogue inspired hat. My yarn has been shipped, and should arrive today or tomorrow. When it arrives I will swatch and make sure I have the appropriate sized needles to be successful.

The only other full sized adult sweater that I have ever completed took me well over a year. Wish me luck with this! It will definitely be a challenge, but will feel incredibly good to have completed such a challenging project in just over 2 weeks!


In response to my friend Calamar's blog, I took this Quizilla quiz:
What sort of key are you and what do you unlock?

You unlock everything, because you are a skeleton key. You are resourceful and can fit yourself into any situation and find a way through. No one can keep you out, but not everyone will want you to come in.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Knitting Progress

That teddy bear that I was working on has been stuffed, but not quite assembled. I realized that the body had 2 distinct shapes, and the darn book didn't tell me which way it should face. My very intelligent husband suggested that I wait to put it together and make some of the clothes first to see how it would fit best. So, here's the bear still sitting in pieces. The jacket pieces are complete but need to be blocked before I can sew them together. Hopefully I'll get that done today. The bear is supposed to be a birthday present for a little 2 yr old boy I know, and his party is Saturday!Please notice the unreadable ruler on the side. That ruler is 18 inches long... THAT'S 1 BIG BEAR!

On another note, I did finish the first of a new pair of socks today. It fits beautifully. I had been having a hankering to knit socks and bought some nice washable wool yarn off of ebay. The yarn is Burgundy, forest green, and a deep golden yellow. It looks mostly reddish brown when knitted up and all the colors combine. I'm using the "Conwy" pattern from "Knitting on the Road" by Nancy Bush. The 1 sock feels so nice on my foot that I'm dying to cast on for the second one, but have decided that I can't do that until I finish the above mentioned bear. Look forward to 2 new FO's probably by the end of the week....lolHere is a close-up of the stitch pattern. It is a very easy "mock cable" crossover pattern.

Stock Show!

My family has a few traditions. We had many more when I was growing up, but I seem to be the lone representative of my siblings that tries to continue these. One of the traditions is the Stock Show. The stock show is probably the largest livestock and horse show in Colorado. It happens every January, and my grandmother has been taking us to the Rodeo, and then watching the draft horses for the past 20 years probably. When I was younger, my parents, my grandma, and all 5 of us kids would all go and spend at least part, if not all of the day looking around, and seeing the rodeo. Now it's down to me and my family. My grandma has made up for this in part by collecting a larger group of lady friends to bring. We always go to the Rodeo the final Saturday of the whole event 3pm. It's tradition. The Stock Show lasts for about 3 weeks I think. For quite a few years, during the rodeo the had a 1 or 2 events with saddlebred horses, but that has been moved to another night with the building of the horse building. For a few years, we even stayed until almost midnight in order to watch the grand prix jumping competition for free after the rodeo. Sadly, that too has been moved to another night and now requires you to purchase a ticket to see it. Needless to say, the Stock Show has changed slightly in format, and content over the years. This year was the 100th anniversary of the show. How cool is that?

On Thursday evening I went to a fairly new event called "An evening of Dancing Horses" with my Grandma and her ladies. This is the second year that they have had this event. It is mostly set to music with the Fort Collins symphony Orchestra performing live. It shows off mostly different "acts" of drassage and reigning (the western equivalent). This year it also included a vaulting group (acrobatics on horseback) as well as a very talented gentleman who drove 2 horses in harness ahead of the horse he was currently riding. That meant he had 3 sets of reigns in his hands at once! It was a very nice evening away from the kids, and some time with my Grandma.

Unfortunately, my pictures didn't look like they were turning out well on my camera due to the dark arena and the distance, so I gave up quite early, and didn't even attempt to take pictures of the rodeo on Saturday. We left the baby who is 2 with my other Grandparents while my husband and I took our 4 yr old son to the rodeo. Shaya probably would have enjoyed it too, but with my rather large pregnant belly, and the crowds, my husband didn't think we could handle 2 of them. Out of the entire rodeo experience, I think the things that Alex remembers the most, were the really loud bangs from the fireworks at the beginning, and the animals he got to see in the "children's ranch land" before the rodeo. With my husband and son in tow, I didn't stop by the weaving or spinning demonstration, nor did I go looking for other "knitty" type things. We all had a great time, and are looking forward to next year when Alex will participate in the "mutton' Bustin'" Competition. This is where very small children climb on the backs of sheep and try to stay on like "real cowboys" do in the bronc riding. The sheep don't buck, they just run, but it's very funny to watch. I, myself have a slightly tarnished belt buckle that I won when I was about 10 from riding a

The King of Torts

Well, I finished "The King of Torts" by John Grisham the other day, and the best thing I can say about it is "Eh". Isn't that a stunning review?

Well, as I read the book, a Tort is essentially a large class action law suit. The main character starts out the book working for almost no money in a tiny office at the department of Public Defenders. They are the people who defend the probably guilty people who can not afford their own lawyers. He works in Washington DC where there is a very large poor black population. He is assigned a murder case with a young man who did in fact commit the crime, but has no history of violence, and has no idea why he just felt the need to go out and shoot someone. Yes, he's a druggie, but has been off drugs for over 100 days now. He wasn't under the influence of anything at the time of the murder. The main character is soon approached by a shady fellow from one of the major drug manufacturers. Apparently there was drug that was being tested illegally to cure drug addiction. It worked fantastically, but in about 8% of the population, it causes people to randomly just go kill someone. The company wants to bury this. It has discontinued testing, and will in the future deny the fact that the drug ever existed. The Shady fellow will not disclose the maker of the drug. This sounds like a great story doesn't it! I was all excited and ready for a great mystery as the main character finds hard proof, defends his poor black drugie client and takes on the big medical company. I see him becoming famous for exposing said company, and changing the world. This does not happen.

Had Grisham followed this story line, I probably would have loved the book. I love a good thriller or mystery. He doesn't. The shady character works for the big bad company and asks our main character to sell his soul. He offers him $15 million to hand off his poor client to someone else, turn to the other side and represent the murder victims as a result of the drug. He will contact them, sign them up, offer them $5 million each and make them sign papers saying they can never reveal the existence of the drug. He has a choice here to continue to represent his client, who was also a victim of this medical company, but doesn't. He goes for the money. The rest of the book is his story is our main character following future tips from the same shady character, making millions of dollars off of faulty drugs (none of which were as bad as the first 1) and completely forgetting about the clients that he is supposed to be protecting. He gets caught up in the wealth, gets a trophy girl friend, a jet, a yacht, and other toys. I spent a good portion of the book hoping that he falls on his butt because his actions just disgusted me. Grisham adds to this disgust by reminding you periodically what the result of his actions are on his poor clients. I kept reading the book simply to see how Grisham could possibly end this in a positive way. The reader wants the main character to fall, but he's still a fairly nice guy, so you don't want him to go to jail or something. That is a pretty sad reason to read a book. I will say that somehow Grisham managed to end it in a respectable way. I was amazed at his ability to do that.

So, John Grisham is a good writer. He managed to salvage a very crappy story line. My big question is, though, why didn't he just run with the good story line that he had at the beginning? The book would have been MUCH better if it had been about the hero lawyer exposing and taking on the drug company on behalf of his victimized murdering client than him getting rich and egocentric through the book. If you have a desire to read this book, go for it, but like I said, my review of it can be summed up in "Eh".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Beautiful Morning

Happy Beautiful morning everyone. It is cold and grey here in Denver today with a light dusting of snow on the ground, but it is beautiful in my house. My husband suprised me with flowers last night. Isn't he sweet?! He bought me a spring bunch (which they sell at Costco) because he knows I love them so much. They were so beautiful sitting on my table this morning, that I felt I should share them with the world.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Shaya

Well, my baby Girl turned 2 today. The time flies so fast. I was really excited about this party because she seemed to understand what a birthday party was, and was excited about it too. Doesn't that just make it all worth while?

Check out the photoshow that I made of the pictures!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Too many pieces

Well, I finally finished all the pieces for the Aviator bear from Debbie Bliss's Teddy Bears. There are WAY too many pieces to this bear. I've spent most of today putting the pieces together, and am missing the knitting part. The knitting was fun, the putting together really is not. I'm looking forward to getting this guy stuffed and starting on his clothes.

Remember those plastic bags I talked about? Well, here's my Bag-O-Teddy.

I made this bear in some Red Heart Supersaver Yarn that I had in my stash. It's durable, and washable. I figure it's pretty good yarn for a kid's teddy bear. My problem was that EVERYTHING rolled it's self up into little tubes as soon as I had knit them. I know this is common with things made in stockingette. I even relied on the roll factor when I made my roll brimmed hat, it's just REALLY annoying when I now have to piece things together. Rolled up little balls of knitting do not piece together very well...... That brings us to the ironing board. I don't iron. You can ask my husband. I buy the wrinkle releaser stuff, or I put it back in the dryer. My husband just laughed at me when after putting the kids to bed last night I hauled out the iron and looked all excited. "I've been waiting to do this all day!" I said. He just laughed. I don't want a very hot iron sitting on a flimsy table when I have 2 little kids up, so I had to wait until they went to bed.

Red Heart yarn says on the label not to iron it. Well, technically I didn't iron it. I filled the iron up with water, set it on the highest steam setting, and hovered over the knitting letting it steam the fabric. If you actually iron the fabric, it squishes the stitches and makes it all flat. I did test the iron on a small sample of knitting I had done earlier in the yarn. It was an ear that I missed a row or something, and was too small. Since I had already cut the yarn, I just threw it away, but it served it's purpose as my test swatch.

I have to say, that this is the first time I've ever steamed my knitting and I am astounded at the results! Before steaming, the fabric was stiff and rather harsh. After steaming, it feels like it's made out of a totally different yarn, even now a day later. It lays beautifully flat, developed a linen like drape, and is incredibly supple. It's still Red heart, so I'm not going to say it's exactly soft, but it's amazing what a little steam did for it.

Here's what the pieces looked like after their little steaming:
One of the things that I do not like about Debbie Bliss's pattern is that she does not include diagrams on what the pieces look like. I have therefore labeled everything just in case you want to make this bear too. Now you have some idea of what the pieces should look like (isn't Photoshop fun?). I am a little concerned with the body pieces. They aren't much longer than the legs, and when sewn together made a rather short fat body. I'm not sure if I left out some rows, or if it is supposed to be that way. I'll post pics of stuffed and assembled pieces once I get them all finished.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Birth of a Rogue Inspired hat

Here is my Newest FO, the Rogue inspired roll brim hat.

Pattern: Self created using the sleeve cable pattern from the Rogue sweater.
Yarn: Lion brand Woolese Chunky
Needles: Size 8 Bamboo double pointed needles (yes! I did make the entire hat on double pointed needles, not on a circular).

Ok, so why did I make this hat on double pointed needles?
  1. I didn't have a size 8 circular needle short enough to make this project anything but a pain in the butt.
  2. I have a set of 5 bamboo double pointed needles that happen to be size 8. These are the only bamboo needles that I own, and I was excited to get to use them again.
  3. Hmmmm 4 panels, 4 needles (+1 to work the stitches) perfect!
  4. I didn't have to switch to double pointed needles at the top when I had so few stitches left.

Why the Roll brim hat? I am still not so patiently waiting for to ship out the yarn that I bought to make my Rogue sweater. I am so itchy to make this sweater that I decided to practice the cable pattern. When I realized how really easy it is, no matter how complicated it looked (I have VERY limited cable experience) I figured it was just a waste to just practice. I should make something with it. What would be good in woolese? It is really to scratchy for a scarf, which was my first idea, so I decided to try to recreate the hat also made by the Rogue designer. I completed the brim last, because I really wasn't sure what I wanted. I usually make watch caps with a thick rib band. I thought that might hide, or detract from the beautiful cables on this hat, so I added a simple roll brim after completing the rest of the hat.

I'm really quite fond of this hat, and I think I'll keep it for me.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Yea! Time for some pictures!

Yea! How about a nice picture of my kiddos, recently downloaded from the camera, to brighten everyone's day.

Ok, now onto the FO's that I've been promising you. I didn't take pictures of the gloves, or mittens that I made people for Christmas, so you don't get everything, but here's what I've got:

This is the Teddy Bear that I made for my niece's 1st birthday. It is done in black Bernat Boa yarn, with nose and paw pads done in grey Red Heart Supersaver yarn. He stands (or sits as the case may be) at about 15 inches tall. If you too would like to make one, you can find the pattern here.

This is my dad's Birthday hat. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it on my Dad. That's my semi-sleepy looking Hubby.

This is my very first pair of adult socks ever. It has a lacy pattern on the ankle that doesn't show up very well on film. They are done in Red Heart Luster Sheen Acrylic yarn. The socks came from this pattern. They ended up being a bit big for me. I think my gauge was off. I just can't bring myself to frog them, so maybe I'll keep them, or maybe I'll find them a good home with someone whom they will fit. Anyone out there have size 8 to 9-ish wide feet?

These are the sweet little baby socks that I made for my daughter yesterday. Here are her tiny 2 yr old feet modeling them. They were done in Red Heart Luster Shine. I LOVE baby socks. They are so quick and easy. It's practically instant gratification.

Finally, this is the lone lady bug sock I have sitting on my desk. I made a pair of these for my niece for Christmas, in addition to a pair identical to my daughter's above, and a pair of white lacy socks using the same pattern I did for my blue adult socks. The pattern came from "Vogue Knitting Socks." This little sock, however, will remain forever mateless. While it is very cute, the ankle is far too small to ever fit a foot inside of it. This was one of my 3 attempts at getting the ankle tension correct before completing the final pair for my niece. I didn't notice that it was too small until I had already completed it and tried to put it on my daughter as a test. It was too much effort to frog it, so I simply started over with a new sock. I suppose if I ever need any white yarn to make another pair of tiny socks, I can scavenge this 1 a bit, but until then it'll probably get lost somewhere in my stash, or sit on my desk forever.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Double Pointed Needles

I admit it, I'm hooked. I LOVE double pointed needles. I know that these are the bane of some knitter's existence. I know that some people make socks with magic loop so they can avoid the evilness of double pointed needles, but honestly, I think I'd do everything circular with my double pointed needles if I could.

I made my very first pair of mittens on double pointed needles just before Christmas. I liked it so much, I made another pair of gloves, and 3 pairs of children's mittens. I couldn't get enough of the double pointed needle action that I decided to make socks! Now, probably mostly related to the double pointed needle mania I LOVE making socks too.

Why are double pointed needles so great? Let me count the ways:
  1. They make me feel sophisticated. Hey! I can knit with 4 needles at once.... Well sorta
  2. I get a little rush of accomplishment every time I finish a needle and move on to the next one (yes, I know I'm really easy to please).
  3. You always know where the start of the round is. It's usually at the break between 2 needles, unless you moved it for some reason.
  4. You have 3 "built in" stitch markers! It's easy to arrange the stitches so that the break in the needles falls just where you need a marker (like where you put the gusset in socks, or start decreasing for the toe, or to section off a cable pattern, etc)
  5. You can have as few stitches on the needles as you want without them ever getting too tight to work. Yes I know that you are limited on having too many, or they'll fall off the ends, but dpn DO make decreasing at the top of a hat much easier, admit it.
  6. They are always at the correct angles so they don't hurt my wrists. I have problems with circular needles wanting to both droop down under the weight of the stitches, when I want my right hand needle up at an angle.
  7. You only ever have to deal with the weight of 1/3 of the stitches on your right hand, while the rest hangs nicely centered in the middle.
  8. It's really easy to switch in a different sized needle for that 1 small section where your gauge goes all wonky, and then to switch back. (my stockingette is notoriously looser when knit back and forth than it is in the round, so I down grade my needles for the heel flap of my socks).
Don't be afraid of those cute little packages of double pointed needles! Maybe you too will fall in love with your double pointed needles. Please note, this is not a picture of my needles. This is a picture of the set of Bamboo needles I'm lusting after.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Black and Read

Yesterday my husband and I visited a very special store here in the Denver area called Black and Read. I am never sure if that should be pronounced as "Black and Red" (IE past tense of read) or "Black and Read" (present tense of read). Generally I use the former. Anyway, this store buys and sells used books, games, and music. I first learned about it because it has the best selection of Role playing books in the area, especially if it is an older book and is now out of print. They also have new Role playing books at 20% discount off normal price.

For those of you who do not know what Role playing is, let me briefly explain. There are many different games that you can play, but the most well known is Dungeons and Dragons (aka D&D). The game is played with a "story teller" (Game master or GM) and a bunch of players about whom the story teller tells his story. Everyone creates a fictional persona to assume with fictional strength, intelligence, etc all represented by numbers on a piece of paper. Usually this is a completely new person, not a character from a book or movie. It is the GM's job to create an adventure or story for these people to play in. If an action is required using your strength, intelligence, archery skill, etc, you pick up a set of dice and roll against the number written on your paper. Based on your role and the number, you either fail at your attempt, or you succeed. "Yes, you manage to climb up the side of that building" etc. These stories follow a plot line, and many are based on favorite books. If you have ever wanted to "be" in your favorite novel, this might be something you would enjoy. Some people say that Role playing is evil, or that it blurs the line of reality and fantasy. I say that it depends GREATLY on who is playing, and who is telling the story. A Role playing game can be as evil, or silly, or whatever that you want it to be.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Black and Read. The store sells and buys books, games, Music, and movies. It is also the most disorganized store in the world. It is kind of like wading into a bunch of book shelves where things are semi organized into catagories, alphabetical listings, etc, but often there are big stacks of books on the floor that haven't been filed yet. I believe that this store only attracts a certain group of people. Either you are into role playing as described above, or you are a old/rare book/music collector. They have a very large vinal record collection. You can find some real treasures if you have the patience to handle the dusty shelves and sort through things on your own.

We went there yesterday to exchange a game that we had gotten for Christmas. It was Monopoly and we already have the original and about 2 other versions in our game closet. So I start browsing around the shelves looking for some good books or something to do with the store credit. They always give you more money if it's store credit than if they give you cash. I have the same problem in this store that I do in the library. I stare at the shelves hoping that a book will call out to me and say "Hey you'd really like me! Pick me!" They never do. The benefit of the library, though, is you can look up on their little computer a subject, or author, or title or something and know where it is and if they even have it. It's just luck at Black and Read. But considering that paper back books are $4 a piece it's not bad.

I'm not very brave when it comes to picking out books. I have a few authors that I know I like, but I've pretty much read everything that they've ever written. I tend, therefore, to rely on recomendations by friends on what would be good to read. Unfortunately yesterday I didn't have a friend with me, and didn't have a list of authors previously recomended by friends. So I played it safe and picked up 4 John Grisham books that I hadn't read yet. I know I like John Grisham. I like the mystery involved in his books, and I like the courtroom scene. My husband might have been able to help, except I've already read almost all the books he likes, and I have a much more broad range of books that I like. That's ok though, for our Monopoly game we went home with 4 paper back books and a sound track to Brother Bear. Currently I'm reading "The King of Torts"

Want to visit Black and Read and tell me what you think? Here's where it's at.