Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shout Out Time Again

I know its been a while since I've given a shout-out to some of the blogs I like to follow, so here are a few to check out:

First up is Dr. Chop Suey Knits, a blog about a research technician who is addicted to yarn and knitting! Who is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Stop on by and check out her Indiana Trip posts, I had fun reading along with her and her husband.

Next is, I live on a farm.  The reason I really enjoy reading this blog is because the author, J. L. Fleckenstein talks about my home state of New York; living in upstate on a farm, which is witty, always entertaining, with some really great recipes. She also has great pattterns to try out, my favorite is 1Bag. Her blog also links to her website, Etsy Shop, and Facebook page. I really like her story about how she ended up living on a farm, from the author, I lived in Los Angeles most of my life. LA is hot and cranky with too many people and too much summer. In late January of 2006 I met a man online. By the end of April we said “I do” at a drive-up wedding chapel window in Vegas. Now I live on a farm in upstate western New York. I live on a farm … and my husband drives a tractor.  I hope you enjoy reading "I live on a farm" as much as I do.

Ah and who wouldn't want to read the Java Gibber? Just some gibberish about my adventures in knitting, baking and life in general... whilst drinking my coffee. She's a coffee drinker!! And I'm a coffee addict, it's nice to know I'm not the only one! So, stop on by and check out Emicat at Java Gibber.

Next up, Kiwiyarns Knits. I just stumbled across her blog and was hooked [no pun intended there!]. About the author, I am one of those mad crazy knitters out there eats, drinks and breathes knitting.

In 2006, I moved back to Wellington, New Zealand after living the corporate life overseas for 20 years.  My new life in New Zealand was like suddenly finding oneself in a grey zone.  Where had my life gone!? What had I done!?  The time was ripe to find a new interest in life. 

One day, my sister asked me to teach her how to knit again.   After my grandmother taught me as a teenager, I had taught her when she was a little girl, but she hadn’t picked up needles since.  This required a visit to a yarn shop – like her, I had stopped knitting for many years.  I had even given my needles away after all that time.  Out of the phone book, we picked one of Wellington’s local yarn stores.  Walking in the door, I was overcome – all that colour!  All that texture! The sensory overload was too much!  I was hooked!  I too, bought some needles and yarn that day, and since then, barely a day has passed without knitting.

I love reading about people who just make dramatic changes in their lives and seeing where those changes take them. I'm a romantic that way and when I stumbled across this blog I was intrigued about her life in New Zealand.  On top of her life in New Zealand, she has lots of great patterns, good information about the different wool yarns out there and some wonderfully cool photos!

Well I hope you get a chance to check out some of the really great blogs above and for more you can always check out the blogs I follow. And if you know of a blog that would be of interest, drop me a comment with a link, I'm always interested in new blogs!

Just finished today:

A friend asked if I could make the Reverie beret from my blog post "Thinking about my holiday knitting already..." in a size to fit her six seven year old niece. I calculated and tested [knitted swatches] and re-tested [knitted even more swatches] until I found the right brim size that would fit a six seven year old child size head.  Here is the result: made from Cascade Sierra [80% cotton, 20% wool] with a 15" brim.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heat Wave?! Not So Much in the Puget Sound

While all over the midwest, southern areas, and eastcoast, there have been record highs and heatwaves; here in the Puget Sound we are experiencing what we would typically experience in the early spring or fall.  Yep, you heard right, we barely have been breaking 70 degrees here. I'm not complaining, as long as its not raining and the sun is out I'm pretty happy, because I have family who live in upstate New York, Texas, and Maryland who are scorching right now.

But I was pretty stoked today, it was finally a warm enough day to actually pull out the patio furniture and the grill, sit outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. I pulled out the furniture and gave them a quick wipe down, because they sit outdoors all year round collecting dust, dirt, and spiders.  I cleaned off the tabletop grill and got to cooking some hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and boneless riblets.

I went into my storage closet and pulled out the patio umbrella I got last year at the end of the summer.  I'm quite proud of this find because I only paid $11.00 for it! Yep, you read right, it was only eleven bucks! Ya see all last summer I searched and searched for a reasonably priced patio umbrella and just couldn't find one. Until I happened to be in Rite Aid picking up a prescription and saw that they were having an end-of-season sale on their patio paraphenalia. I saw an umbrella with a tag that read $49.99 with a sign - 20% off all patio furniture, so I figured what the heck, I'll buy it because it was the cheapest one I'd seen all summer.

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather when the cashier said $11.00. I of course was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, I quickly paid my eleven bucks and rushed out of there before they could stop me, saying there was a mistake on the price! I only got to use it for a short time last year before I had to store it away for the winter, but I'm happy to be able to pull it out again!

Here you can see my set-up:

I live in a 86-unit townhouse development, one the main features that drew me to buy in this particular development was the cute little water feature that is right outside my deck.  It was a perfect day to sit outside to enjoy the waterfall.

I often like to sit out here on the weekends, in the mornings with my first cup of coffee of the day and just relax.  Its funny when I first moved here, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to sleep with the constant running water, but now if the waterfall is shut off for maintenance, I find that I have a hard time getting to sleep without the soothing sound of the running water...weird huh?

After getting the patio cleaned up, furniture set-up, and the food started, I decided to finish up one of the many UFO's I hadn't worked on in a while; the Big Bag from Lion Brand Yarn.

I added a darker brown lining for finishing - had to hand sew it in because I of course wasn't thinking ahead; I sewed the wooden dowels in before I added the lining! I learned my lesson, if I ever make this bag again, I will machine sew the lining before sewing the wooden dowels in.

Brown fabric lining for finishing. Used Lion Brand Wool-Ease
Thick & Quick in Wheat #402
18" w x 12" h x 6" d with 25" handles - It truly is a big bag!
Well that is one more UFO from the neverending WIPs bag that I can put on the finished list.  Still have a few more to go, I'm hoping that I get most of them done this summer.  One other such project is a sockless sock monkey I named Cecil, that I started almost two years ago and poor Cecil is still missing his body and head.

Sockless Sock Monkey Knitting Pattern (Rav link)
by Anita M. Wheeless (Rav link) from her blog: Mumble-Jumble2
Cecil is made using Cascade 220 Tweed and Cascade 220 Wool
 Doesn't he look so pathetic, that he's been hanging out for over a year and I only got this far and haven't finished him yet?  I think Cecil deserves to be finished and when I'm done, maybe he will find a home with my grandniece.

Well the sun has gone down and its starting to get a bit nippy on the patio, so I think its time to go inside.  It was so nice to be able to sit out here and cook on the grill, blog, knit, and just plain relax.

To all you heat wavers out there, try to stay cool and to the knitters, happy summer knitting!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Only 157 more days until Christmas!

Are you counting down the days?  I don't like to but as a knitter who likes to give handmade items to family and friends during the holidays, I have to, I gotta set deadlines so I get all my handmade gifts done! Because, of course I'm thinking in my head I have plenty of time to get all done, but when October starts creeping closer, I realize I haven't started any of my holiday knitting and I'm in a state of panic, thinking "oh no, I'm so behind!"

So this year, like Santa, I'm making my list, checking it twice, trying to figure out which projects to start and which to put off til later! My goal this year is to try to finish at least one gift item between after every summer item I complete.  And this goal actually kills two birds with one stone, because I can dig into my WIP bag and finish gift items I didn't get done last year and give them as gifts this year.

This year's list includes: 

For my brother, I'd like to make him this really cool hat that I found on Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation website of free patterns called New York State of Mind, its so appropriate for him, since he lives in upstate New York.  He is one of the only members of my family who has not been a recipient of my handmade items and I think I need to remedy that this year.  

Photo courtesy of Debbie Stoller's
Stitch Nation Free Patterns
For my nieces, the slouchy hats seem to be very popular. So I've chosen two different patterns and they include, another free pattern from Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation website, the All-Day Beret and from the Knitty, Spring 2009 edition, the Reverie beret by Amy Swenson. For which I have already completed two, see my previous post Thinking about my holiday knitting already or my hats page for pictures of my finished objects.

For my five nephews I'm leaning toward hat and scarf sets, but haven't found any that have caught my eye yet.  I really should finish the Basketcase Jacket by Tara Jon Manning I started last November for the NaKniSweMo [National Knit a Sweater in a Month]  that was supposed to go to one of them last year for Christmas. But it is still in WIP bag. I think it may be time to pull it back out and finally finish it.

Photo courtesy of my November 2010 post:
NaKniSweMo - Knit a Sweater in a Month! 
Or I could finish the crew neck pullover that I also started last November for my littlest nephew who was turning four at that time. I am already at the separation for the sleeves and working the back of the sweater back and forth and then do the same for the front. But I'm thinking this might be too small for my almost five year old nephew. I had already modified the design to make it smaller for a child size but now I'm not sure. And I would really hate to frog this and have to start all over.

Men's Crew Kneck Pullover (Rav Link) by Kris Percival
published in Speed Knitting: 24 Quick and Easy Projects (Rav link)
In my queue, on Ravelry, I have Buddy Bear by Lion Brand a softie toy that I want to make for my grandniece. It is a crochet pattern, sometimes its nice to change up in my fiber crafting, just so I don't get too bored.  And this guy looks like he will be fun to make.

Photo courtesy of Lion Brand
Buddy Bear crochet pattern
Isn't he just adorable? I think he will be cherished and loved for a very long time and hopefully saved to pass on to her little one some day.

For my four sisters, I think I may make them one of my market bags. I know they really liked them when I posted them on Facebook. Or I could make them spa sets, I know two of my sisters really enjoyed receiving these as birthday gifts last year.

Whew, so many projects and so little time to do them all! When do you start making your list for your handmade gift items?  Love to hear from all you fiber artists out there, come on over and leave me a comment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thinking about my holiday knitting already...

I know, I know, nobody wants to hear about the holidays this early - when we are barely into the summer season! But I found each year, no matter how early I start my holiday knitting I never seem to get it all done in time.  So, I decided to work on a few gifts in between my summer projects, just so that I'm not too far behind when August rolls around and I'm trying to decide on patterns, colors, and who is getting what.

This weekend, I worked on this really great slouchy hat/beret pattern that I found on Knitty.  This was a test run on this pattern to see how long it would take to complete.  And well I was able to complete two of them over the weekend.  The first one, I had almost completely done on Friday evening, but when I transferred it over to double-pointed needles (dpns), and was getting to the end of the decreasing, a few of my stitches slid off one end of the dpns! I couldn't seem to figure out how to get the stitches back on the needles, so I frogged the whole thing and started over again at around 7 p.m. and finished at around 3 a.m. on Saturday morning.

The second hat was easier than the first, because I didn't have to have the pattern right there, I could easily remember the steps, because they were just that simple.  I worked non-stop on Sunday afternoon, starting around two in the afternoon and by 11 p.m. was posting pictures of the completed hat on my Ravelry page. That is how quick and easy this pattern is. The only tricky part for me was when it got down to the last three decrease rows and I had to make sure I didn't lose any stitches off the dpns like my first time around.  But I worked carefully and a bit slower and the pictures below shows you how spectacular this pattern looks in many different color designs.

From the Knitty Spring 2009 edition
Reverie by Amy Swenson
Used Caron Jumbo Prints in Country Basket Ombre
And since these slouchy hats seem to be really popular with the teenagers they will be perfect for my three nieces this Christmas.  And now that I have the pattern pretty much memorized, I can whip them up fairly quickly without having to keep referring to the pattern. I'd like to give a shout-out to Amy Swenson, the designer of this fabulous hat and for more of Amy's wonderful creations, check out her website at Indigirl.

So, how many of you out there have already started on your holiday gift-giving projects?  What is on your holiday knitting list? And if you haven't gotten started yet, when do you start knitting for your holiday gift-giving?  I can't wait to hear from you, stop by and drop me a comment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Story About a Shawl continued...

As you know from my post in April - A Story About a Shawl, and more recently in June, I was working on a shawl for my sister and an afghan for my newphew.  Well I'm happy to report that I finished them both and sent them off right before I left on vacation with blessings of healing from my girlfriend's prayer circle.

While on vacation, I called to verify that my sister received the package and I was given wonderful news, my nephew completed his treatment and is cancer free!  He will have to be monitored and go in for testing every month for the next year, but the doctors are optimistic. Children are a blessing and so resilient, I'm happy he's made it through this obstacle and pray that he never has to go through it again.  And my sister loved her shawl and the afghan and thanked me for sending them to her. I was just happy I was able to do something, even this small thing to bring a little hope and healing to my sister and her family.

Finished Sidewalk Shawl by Kimberly K. McAlindin
Finished Popcorn Granny Squares Afghan
After the success of my first shawl, I decided I wanted to try my hand at a knitted shawl and reading charts.  So I searched and searched, hoping to find a shawl that had a simple chart to follow.  Well, I can tell you, there really aren't any, at least none that I found.  The charts all looked so intimidating, but I wasn't giving up.

After much searching, I finally found one on Ravelry, that I thought would be easy to manage, called the Calais Shawl by Judy Marples.  Well here is the results:

Beginning stages of shawl
Close-up of beginning of shawl
Here it is after blocking. I used Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton
in a beautiful deep wine color
Looks slightly pinkish against my blue couch, but it is the same shawl!
A closer look!
Once I read completely through Judy's instructions and started, I completely immersed myself into the rhythm of the pattern and before long I had myself a stunning shawl!  It was much easier than I thought and I am excited about trying my hand at another shawl, now that I understand the charts better.

Hope everyone had a safe and wonderful 4th of July.  I also hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far! I know I am!