Thursday, October 28, 2010

Checking In

Well, October did prove to be a very busy month.  I thought many times of posting something but I was always pulled in other directions.  Becoming a Godmother, seeing good friends get married, and a wonderful camping trip with great friends made this a very spectacular month!  I'm looking forward to finishing off the year with more good stuff (and good knitting)!

I've started working on Christmas knitting, but got sidetracked by camping hat knitting this month.  One for myself, one for the hubby and one for my Godson.  Guess which one is my favorite...

I was very glad I made him this hat because our first morning in Palo Duro Canyon was the coldest and his little teeth were chattering!  This hat pattern is called  Tinker by Woolly Wormhead and it is part of her Twisted Woolly Toppers collection.  It was a lot of fun to knit!  There are a lot of other hats in the collection that I am looking forward to knitting.

It is also Socktober and I had planned on at least starting the new Mystery Sock pattern by Kristin Kapur.  I've got the yarn, but never got the chance to cast-on, but one of the Christmas knitting items I'm working on is socks for my hubby so I should have at least one sock completed in October!  Once I finish the other sock, I'll cast on the mystery socks.  

I must be developing a serious sock knitting addiction because Cookie A. just released her new book as a pdf file and I purchased it right away.  The actual book will be released in November.  So many great socks to knit and the photography is beautiful.  I love my Monkey socks, and next I want to make some knee high socks next!  I don't know when I'll get to knitting something from this book, but I vow to make several things from it in 2011.

Well, there are probably 20 other things I had planned on writing about, but there are many other things to do right now.  So I'll leave you with a lovely view for now.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October Fun

Well, October started off wonderfully and that shows no sign of stopping!  The month began with a most awesome weekend celebrating a special one year old's first birthday.  The occasion called for a special knitted gift.

This is one version of the Lovable Toys pattern from Last Minuted Knitted Gifts.  This book has been a great resource.  I didn't get a picture of my lovable little boy with his elephant, but I hear he loves to try and chew on his trunk!  We'll see how long the toy lasts. :)  I'll just make him another one because this was a pretty quick knit.  On top of that, I learned two new techniques while working on it.  This pattern is written to have the body knit in the round with two circular needles.  I was a bit leery of this technique from the git-go, but guess what...I loved it!  I was shocked but I will definitely be knitting in the round with this as my go-to technique.  The only downside I can think of is that I now need two sets of my interchangeable needles.  I figure I'll just add to my set as I need them.

The second addition to my knitting toolbox was the cable cast-on method which is used for the blue hankie that is tied around the elephant's neck.  I'm not quite as enamored with this new skill, but I was glad I figured it out.  I'm terrible with written instructions.  I have to see it and do it to learn it.  My go-to knitting instructor, Staci Perry, has been adding new videos to her website, but she has not gotten to this one yet.  I found a video, but it wasn't done very well and had no sound.  After doing the cast-on twice incorrectly, I almost gave up and started looking for some fabric to substitute for the elephant's handkerchief when it all of a sudden clicked.  I went back to my work and kicked it out pretty quickly once I figured it out.  I did like the results.

The weekend continued excellently and on Sunday my hubby and I became the Godparents to the same special little one year old!  It was indeed a spectacular weekend.

The month will continue to be super busy, but it is all good stuff.  Next weekend we travel to Dallas for a good friend's wedding and the weekend after that will be spent camping and hiking in Palo Duro Canyon with a group of great friends.  All this driving should leave me with a lot of time to knit some Christmas gifts, if my hubby agrees to do most of the driving.  But at this point, I've been knitting warm camping hats for our trip.  I let my hubby pick out his hat pattern and was excited that he selected a fair isle project.  I had just had a lesson on the technique so I was happy to try it out.  It is a simple pattern with only two colors so it was a good place to start.  I should have it completed tonight.  Then I start making a little one year old a warm hat since it will be a bit chilly at night.

Oh, and since I loved the knitting in the round with two circulars trick, I am about to knit two socks at a time using this method in celebration of Socktober fest.  I am already knitting some Christmas socks for my hubby this month, but couldn't resist the Mystery Sock by Kristin Kapur of Through the Loops fame.  I don't expect to actually complete the mystery sock this month, but I've got the yarn and two circular needles ready to go!

Busy, Busy, Busy, but Happy, Happy, Happy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Too Many Projects, Too Little Time!

Last week, One of the conferences I organized was held and quickly became the conference from HELL!  One of those times where all the things I could not control went completely wrong.  This made it hard to concentrate on the things I could control and made me super tired.  Luckily, on Thursday, I had my Sweater University meeting with all the knitting ladies and they definitely lifted my spirit.  We also found out that next meeting we will be taped for a brief appearance in one of her new videos!  We'll be stars!

We started work on Staci's Mad Men Mittens which gave me the opportunity to learn fair isle.  I can't believe that I thought it was complicated.  It is a very easy technique and I am looking forward to working more fair isle projects into my upcoming projects.

I've had a round of starteritis going on.  A lot of large projects that will take a while to finish!  What am I thinking when I have a few birthday presents and lots of Christmas presents that need to be done. But I am loving all the projects I've got going on. I've especially loving my Monkey socks by Cookie A.  The pattern is really easy, but looks great!  It has been a relatively quick sock to knit which is good because I have found it hard to work on any other projects..

This picture doesn't do the sock justice.  I'm about a quarter of the way through the second second sock syndrome here!  The yarn is Cascade Heritage Paint in Campfire.  I love the colors, but have no idea what I am going to wear them with.  I guess I'll be forced to go by a new outfit...darn.

Friday I started what should be a super fast pattern to knit up for a special someone's birthday.

No, it is not thumb warmers, but you'll have to wait to see what it turns into.  The yarn is Blue Sky Sport Weight Baby Alpaca.  It maybe the softest yarn I've ever knit with and I love it.  It makes me happy when I am knitting with it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Felting with a Front Loader

I was introduced early on in my knitting "career" to felting at a French Market Bag class (ravelry link).  I've made a handful of them now.  At the time, I thought that the only way to felt was in a top loading washing machine.  We had recently bought a front loading washing machine because of their energy efficiency so whenever I needed to felt I had to run to the LYS and borrow their's.  This was good for the shop because I usually added to my stash while I was there, but it was inconvenient. (I'm also trying to be strong and not add to the stash unless it is to make a gift for someone.)

So I started looking around and did find some people who had success with felting in a front loader.  So I started experimenting.  If you are interesting in felting in your front loader please test that you are actually able to stop the washer in mid-cycle and open the door.  I understand that this can be a difficult or impossible process with some machines, but I have no problem with my Kenmore washer.  I just have to push the stop button twice and it unlocks.

After you have determined that your washer will unlock during the cycle, you will need to get your supplies together.  The supplies are very similar to felting in a regular washer...
  1. A lingerie bag to hold your item to be felted.  This will keep fuzzies from getting in the washer and mucking it up.  This is VERY IMPORTANT!!
  2. A few towels.  I usually use some from my rag pile.  I usually use three towels
  3. Here is where it gets a little weird...Tennis Balls.  I use 3 tennis balls when I am felting.  This provides some additional friction/agitation, which is necessary to felt an item.

Step 1:  Put your item to be felted into your lingerie bag.
Step 2:  Put the lingerie bag, 2 towels and 3 tennis balls into the washer.
Step 3:  Shut the door and set your washer to its hottest setting.  On my washer it is the "Whitest Whites" setting.
Step 4:  Once the washer has filled up and starts to agitate set your timer.  This is where it will take a little bit more experimenting.  I have found that it is best for my machine to I let it run for 10 minutes and then I check on it.  I usually have to continue for another 10 minutes, but it depends on the item you are felting.
Step 5:  Once you get the results you are looking for remove the item from the washer and dry it with one of the other towels or you can turn your washer to the spin cycle and let it get some more water out before drying with the towel.
Step 6:  Viola, you have a felted item!  Now you just have to block and wait for it to dry.

Blocking a pair of French Press Slippers for a special birthday girl.  They are complete and probably my favorite pair I've made so far.  I will be giving them to the birthday girl tonight so no finished pictures to share yet.

It is not much different from felting in the regular washer, but without the tennis balls the process takes a lot longer.

Good luck and happy felting!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A First!!

A friend of mine is having a birthday next week and I realized that I had not made her a present.  I've been making birthday presents like crazy lately and I knew she would feel left out if I didn't make something for her.  Then I remembered that I had actually started a project for her a long time ago, but set it aside.  It is my own little pattern, and my first. (this is not the project I had intended to be my first project, but I haven't had time to work on my silly lil' hat.)
Both myself and the Birthday Girl have a few Eddie Baur Water Bottle (of course I can't find any online now.).  They are great, but have one problem...They get condensation all over your desk or table.  The BG had suggested that I make something to fix that problem almost as soon as I had started knitting.  I have some 80s cotton yarn left over from my first project at the age of 16, which was never completed (a horrible 80s sweater).  So I cast on for this ages ago, but got excited about some other project and never finished it.  Well, now the fire was lit so I finished it up real quickly.

I don't know how many of you out there have this brand of bottle, but here are the simple directions:
CO 12 and divide on to 3 needles (4 sts each) join in the round.
Row 1 - K
Row 2 - *K2, M* around (18 sts)
Row 3 - K
Row 4 - *K3, M1* around (24 sts)
Row 5 - K
Row 6 - *K4, M1* around (30 sts)
Row 7 - K
Row 8 - *K5, M1* around (36 sts)
Row 9 - K
Row 10 - *K6, M1* around (42 sts)
Row 11 - K
Row 12 - *K7, M1* around (48 sts)
(This part of the pattern is exactly like Very Pink's Orb-It pattern - Ravelry pattern.  Thanks, Staci!!)
K 14 rounds
BO 4.  K 44
You are no longer working in the round, but will knit and purl back and forth in stockinette stitch for 4 rows.
BO.  Weave in both ends.
Since it doesn't seem like this bottle can be bought online anymore, there probably won't be too many people who need it, but it's my first pattern. :) And I wanted to show that you do not need much experience to make a pattern of your own or change another to meet a completely different need.
Also, more excitement in my knitting world,  I finished test knitting my Sugar Cane Skirt for the lovely and talented Miss Andrea Rangel.  She has not release the pattern yet, but I will let you know when she does.  It is a lot of fun to knit and it was my first skirt!  My husband is very fond of the results! :D

I'll talk more about this pattern once it is released.  I learned a lot and enjoyed every minute of it!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yarn Cake!

What is a poor knitter to do when she has some lovely, squishy yarn that she needs to wind into a center pull ball without a yarn ball winder or swift?  She improvises!

Take one used toilet paper roll:

Cut a slit into one side and stick the end of your yarn through it:

Wrap your yarn around the toilet paper roll.  I sit in my comfy chaise with my knees up and put the skien of yarn around my knees in place of a swift..sorry no silly  pictures of that.

And, viola, you've got yourself a yarn cake.

It ain't pretty and it takes a bit longer than using a ball winder, but it does the job nicely!  No, I'm not the first person to figure this out, but I there are probably others out there that didn't know this little trick.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Changes, They are a Comin'!

I am mad at myself for only writing a post once a month the last few months.  There are many excuses, like a couple of sickly dogs and being generally busy at work, but I'm still not happy about it.  The dogs are all on the mend now.  The oldest had a back problem which lead to the discovery of a mass in her liver.  It can't really be operated on, but it isn't really causing her any problems except that her liver becomes infected at points.  Our middle doggie also had two masses, but these were causing problems and he had to be operated on.  A huge incision and mucho money later and he is well on his way to recovery.

I guess it is not as bad as it seems.  It doesn't seem to bother him too much.

I've got several projects going on that I am excited about.

1.  I am studying for my Certified Online Teacher Certificate.  I've taken the online classes, now I have to pass a test and develop and teach 2 online courses for the certifying association to critique.  This is for my position at UT, but I envision myself working on some outside interests with this new skill.  My mind keeps coming up with ideas to use this skill with my knitting obsession so hopefully I can make that happen soon.

2.  I am test knitting a wonderful skirt by Andrea Rangel I have been a fan of hers since I saw her Hex pattern in the Fall 2009 Knitty.  Truth be told, it was that pattern that finally made me get off my butt and learn to knit.  As soon as I finish this test knit for her, I will be casting on a Hex shawl in burnt orange!  It will be a fun knit while I am enjoying some longhorn football.

Here is a sneak peek of my test knitting

This skirt is a very fun, but a bit of a slow knit, especially for a slow knitter like me.  Since I am working on a deadline, I've had to put aside some of my other projects for a bit including my summer sweater university project and my own first pattern.  After I finish the skirt, I am going to concentrate on my first hat pattern because I already have a second pattern in mind!

3.  I don't know if it is a mid-life crisis or what, but I have been struggling with wanting to make some major changes in my life.  I couldn't figure out what it was I wanted to do differently, just that there needed to be a change.  It has been something that has been going on for awhile, but I have chosen to ignore it since I didn't for the life of me know what direction I wanted to go in.  After spending a lot of time contemplating what was going on with me, I think that I finally have it figured out.  I can't go into any details right now, but in the next few of months I hope to be able to announce a pretty major change in my life.  While this change isn't directly related to my knitting, I hope that eventually it will allow me to explore knitting in a more professional way too!!

I also hope to post more frequently on my blog than I have been.  If you have any topics you would like me to discuss on this blog please share your ideas!