Tuesday, July 31, 2007

power to change

***Whoops! I just realized that I jumped the gun and picked the winner a day early. If anyone missed entering for the froggy and sock yarn and still would like to send me an email, I'll give away more yarn tomorrow on the proper deadline. If no one else enters, I think I'll pick another prize winner anyway. It's fun. :D

I really like the Random Number Generator. The last time I picked a prize winner, I discovered that I have to do the same thing that I do with stoplights. When I'm driving along and approaching a stoplight, I have to say out loud, "I'm going, I'm going, okay NOW I'm going!" And up until the moment I say NOW, I will stop if it turns yellow; after that point, I have passed the point of no return. What's the official term for it? You know, the words they use for when you've gone past the point where you have enough fuel to fly back where you came from... ?? The Point of No Return? (Would that be the PNR in military jargon? I have a brother in the Air Force, for crying out loud; I should know these things!)

Anyway, I could sit (and have sat) for an embarassingly long time, hitting the "Again!" button and asking for new numbers to be generated, just for the fun of seeing what will pop up. So when I selected the prize winners last time, I had to say, "I'm picking, I'm picking, okay NOW I'm picking!" Please don't let this distress you as to whether the choice is truly random. We are assured by the Random Number Generator website that each number is truely random--like atmospheric noise, they say--and not just produced from a mathematical formula. (Speaking of randomness, and to confuse you, I have a random picture of yarn to spice up the story. This is Hello Yarn Fiber Club's May selection, 5 ounces of Blue-Faced Leicester wool, called "Cricket". I got 297 yards of worsted weight 2-ply yarn out of it. I think it's the most beautiful, gentle, sublime mix of colors I have ever seen in wool. It's softly spun and very fluffy. I can't wait to knit it.)

Tonight, to choose the winner of the froggy and sock yarn, I said, "I'm picking, I'm picking, okay N--aaaarh!" Because the power went out just as I was going to get the final number. Grrrr. It's just as well. Now I can go into it fresh and just say that the first number is the one (won!). I can play around with more numbers later... (Another random picture of yarn: Boberly is knitting a hat out of one of the new colors of Noro Silk Garden. I'm not sure of the color number, but there's some very bright pink in there! Doesn't it make a pretty flower? She saw this yarn at the LYS on Saturday and asked if I'd teach her to knit a hat. She's only done flat knitting up until now. I think she's quite impressed with herself, and she's smitten with the Silk Garden. I know I am.)

Back to the Random Number Generator (that would be the RNG): The winner is...Number 2!!!! (Hang on, I've got to go look at the emails and see who that is.) It's Nell of Chicken Knits! Yay Nell!

Little Lovey PeeWee (that's LLPW) has started sleeping through the night! (Hallelujah!) Not every night, but about every other night. The other nights she has been waking up at odd intervals and shouting things like "I NEED IT!" She's a funny little bird. She finally let me take pictures of her in the Presto.

I have to admit that I'm very disappointed in how the neck fits her. She has skinny little shoulders, but I think that the pattern needs a serious edit to bring the neck opening in closer on the 24-month size. If anyone reading this happens to be knitting the bigger size, I'm going to contact Jimmy Beans and see if they wouldn't mind letting me tweak the numbers to fix it. If you've already knit it, you have my sincerest apology. I didn't realize until I actually knit the 24-month size that increasing the neck opening at the same rate as the body width would come out this way. The 6-month size will be unchanged; I think it's fine as is. The 12-month and the 24-month size neck openings will be changed to be the same measurement as the 6-month. (They will all have 17 stitches cast off for the neck opening.) The front panel will be the same width for all three sizes, just increasing in length as needed for each size. (This was Jean's brilliant suggestion when I presented her with the problem.) I'm sorry I'm such an amateur. Tsk. I'll do better next time!

Can you hear her? Can you hear LLPW singing her favorite song? It's by Laurie Berkner: Boots, boots, B-O-O-T-S!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


My cutie 6-year-old has let me know that spelling a word c-h-a-n-g-o means that it should be pronounced "chan-go" (rhymes with fandango). Hmmm. Anyhoo, here it are!

I finally finished the 24-month-size. PeeWee won't let me put it on her for a glamour shot. It's just as well--I don't have the buttons sewn on yet. I posed the sweater with these daisy buttons but I only have 8 of them. I'll probably get some more of these green shell buttons

  • Pattern: Presto Chango by yours truly; size 24 months.
  • Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton #81 Nut, just barely more than 2 balls.
  • Modifications: I widened the cuffs from 3 to 5 seed stitches. I wish I had only done 4; 5 is a little too wide. I specified 3 stitches in the pattern because I thought it would be easier for people to remember to knit-purl-knit on the end of every row rather than worry about whether it should be kpk or pkp. I think I needn't have worried. After all, I didn't let that stop me from using 4 stitches along the front.

    I shaped the shoulders by increasing 4 times every other row on the uphill side of the shoulders and decreasing equally on the downhill side. I got the idea for the shoulder shaping from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Bog Jacket.

    The sleeves are shaped with short rows, 4 turns before the center line of the sleeve and 4 turns after. I was worried that I'd have a hard time matching the second half of the sleeve shaping to the first half (since I hadn't written anything down) but I just peered at the wrong side of the knitting and tried to do my turns in approximately the same places. I picked up the wraps and knit them in behind the stitches, but they did leave little lumps. They'll probably smooth out when I block it.

    I also knit a different pattern on the front panel. I knitted the front panel while listening to Harry Potter 7 read aloud by my dear friend Wendi. She and her husband hosted a weekend Read-HP7-Until-We-All-Pass-Out-Or-It's-Over-Whichever-Comes-First Party. It was fantastic. I got to listen to Harry Potter AND knit. In honor of the occasion, I knit a lightning bolt into the front panel. :)

    If anyone is interested in the specifics on the sleeve or shoulder shaping, I'll type that up and post it...

Jen of Knitting Sutra is having a great contest and looking for pool-defying sock pattern suggestions. Here are the details, so go give her your ideas--and be sure to tell her I sent you (because then I get another shot at the gorgeous German yarn and the nifty Dutch bag she's offering).

I can't bear it--I want to have a contest, too. I'm such a lemming. And I want to reward the hardy souls who made it to the end of this post. :)

Does anyone remember the frog accessory case that I tried to give away a couple of months ago? The prize winner never came back to claim it. Sad, I know. But I have learnt my lesson: I shall try again, but I will ask for email addresses! I'd like to send Froggy out to someone with some sock yarn--So if you're interested, send me a note at shoeless UNDERSCORE valerie AT yahoo DOT com (there's a link on my blogger profile) and tell me your favorite kind of pie. Hey, I like pie. It's not really a contest, is it. I just thought it would be interesting... I'll put your names in a hat and draw one out on August 1 after dinner, say 8 PM? Good? Okay.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I cleaned out my closet yesterday. It's not a huge closet, but once I had all the yarn and unspun fiber out on my bed, it was frightening. I have a cedar chest in there and 6 big canvas bin thingys that I bought for off-season clothes. Haha. They hold my yarn. It's a very good thing that Eric and I don't have a lot of clothes, because they wouldn't have anywhere to go.

There were some happy re-discoveries: this Elsbeth Lavold gold Silky Wool that got swatched and then forgotten in the rush to make Presto Chango; some Dalegarn Stork that's meant for a little lacy bolero for PeeWee; some blue 1824 Wool intended for my middle son; and this beaded wool from Blue Heron Yarns in Leaf--that I had no plans for, but I bought anyway because it was just so beautiful. (Go look at those Blue Heron color cards--they're gorgeous.)

I ordered it from my LYS based on a color card and a sample skein of the colorway in Egyptian Cotton. When the beaded wool arrived it was vastly different from the color card and I was rather disappointed. (You may kindly remind me that cotton and wool take up dye very differently.) I promptly socked it away in my closet.

Boberly walked in my room yesterday just as I was taking the beaded wool out of the bag to look at it. She started saying words like "lurve it" and "make me a sweater" and "pleeeeeease". I'm sure you can guess what came out of the closet next. Yes. The swift and the ballwinder. I now have a ball of Leaf and an anxious daughter. She pestered me all last night about when I was going to start swatching for her sweater. She drew up a design and with a little help from Maggie Righetti and Sweater Design in Plain English, I will be knitting the Boberly Sweater: a top-down raglan with an off-center two-button placket, stockinette body, and deep ribbing at the cuffs and bottom. My two Maggie Righetti books (the other one is Knitting in Plain English) are the two most frequently referenced books on my knitting shelf. I HIGHLY recommend them. They're not flashy, there's no eye-catching color photography--but there is the wisdom of a veteran no-nonsense knitting instructor who will spell it all out for you at any time of the day.

I'm still spinning away on my Hello Yarn BFL for my Bohussy mittens. It's slow, but steady progress. Hmmm, am I seeing a color theme in this post?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Have I done any good in the world today?

Once again, it's not just a song, it's a way of life. It doesn't really have anything to do with this post, but it's on my mind. And in answer, I must say...not yet. I should probably make like a responsible person and feed my children. But first, I have to do this: An anonymous commenter thanked me today for posting (it was part of my 7 things meme) the words to the "Breathless" song that I was certain had faded into obscurity. Anonymous, you're welcome, but I hope you come back because I have the words to the whole song, not just the first verse. Your wife needs to hear the song in entirety.

And so, without further delay, I'm Breathless (as I remember it from my childhood):

If I had a dictionary, I would read the customary
Complementary phrases when I want to sing your praises,
But I'm up to here in trouble, my adversity is double,
And to make the matter worse, I'm breathless.

When I try to be poetic, you are never sympathetic.
As it is I do my best and hope and pray I pass the test,
But up to now I'm in the soup, my heart is doing loop-de-loop,
On top of all of that, I'm breathless.

You take my breath away.
My castles are all in a heap--
You've got me right where you want me.
Baby, you walk in my sleep!

So I...
Take you for a little walk, 'cause I'm a guy who likes to talk.
You leave me on the porch and then I wind up with a torch
For every single time that I'm inclined to tell you what is on my mind
I'm darned if I don't find I'm breathless!

We used to have races to see who could sing it the fastest. Ah, good times...

Now I just need to figure out how to attach a MIDI file with the tune...

I have an idea. (We're back to knitting content now.) I've been petting this 5 oz. of Blue-Faced Leicester wool (color: Cricket) from the Hello Yarn fiber club. I LURVE it. It is everything I love about wool and color in one tidy package. I want to make something for me that I will use on a daily basis--so as to maximize the time I get to spend with it. I have decided that mittens are the answer.

I've been waiting for the right moment to knit Eunny Jang's Anemoi mittens, and I thought that maybe this was it--but then I decided that the colors I love in this wool might mute and blend too much for my liking if I spun it that fine. So I started looking for stranded pattern ideas with thicker yarn.

I was cleaning out my closet and found this sweater. (Hahaha, I had you going there, huh?! I wasn't really cleaning, per se, this sweater actually fell off my shelf when I was trying to stuff something else in next to it. Cleaning. That's funny.) The patterns are kinda Bohus-y, don't you think?

Then I was flipping through Marcia Lewandowski's Folk Mittens and saw her Bohus mittens. I think I should probably not post an image from the book, but I'll just say that it got my gears turning. On top of all of that, Adrian (Hello Yarn) is knitting a Bohus-inspired sweater that is so gorgeous. (Can you tell that I'm pretty much in love with everything she makes? Yeah. It's kind of obvious.) Anyhoo, I'm going to make some Bohus-y (I like that: Bohussy, that's me!) mittens using the sweater patterns and the BFL Cricket, and one other yet-to-be-determined color. I'm going to spin the Cricket so that it has distinct color changes so it can serve as my slacker version of multi-colored stranding. That's my idea. I'm sure I'll have enough Cricket left over from the mittens to make a hat, too. Now I just have to get past the planning stages and actually knit it!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I have no title for this one

Time for some late-night blogging! My honey is still out of town and the kids are in bed. If I hurry, I can blog and knit tonight! I've retrieved my guilty pleasures from their hiding places (diet Pepsi in the reefer behind the cheese, Belgian chocolates in the cupboard behind the mixing bowls) so I'm ready to make up for 3 weeks without a post.

My most heart-felt gratitude goes out to all who contribued to our virtual Alex's Lemonade Stand. Your generosity and kind comments warm my heart. God bless you! Our real-life lemonade stand on June 9th was great fun for all, especially my kids. The lemonade sales of the day combined with the donations to our virtual stand bring our total amount raised for childhood cancer research to $1369.07! (The 7 cents were donated by a little friend of my middle son who emptied out his piggy bank for the occasion, bless his heart.) We blasted right past the goal of $1000. Thank you very, very much.

The remainder of June flew by for me. My recent absence from this blog was due mostly to the fact that I’ve had a pinched nerve in my hip and it hurt to sit at the computer. I’m feeling much better now because I spent the past week lounging around at my sister’s lakeside cabin and popping anti-inflammatory pills. I also spent a fair amount of time chasing cute little children around with my camera—See?

Just before leaving for the lake, I finished plying 4 ounces of superwash merino that I dyed with easter egg dye. After pulling the fiber out of its steam bath to set the dye, I wasn’t sure that I liked it. Then, while spinning it, I was still wondering if I’d again wasted some perfectly good white fiber by making it look like red dryer lint. After plying it and winding it up into a hank, I finally decided that I like it! It’s just so different from what I had in my head when I started the process. I didn't squeeze enough of the initial soaking water out of the fiber before applying the dye, so the colors intermingled much more than I intended. I learned a lot about dying fiber and I’m anxious to do some different colors now that I’ve finished up the spinning of this batch. I’m not sure what I’ll knit with it. I could do socks, or some lace or...or... It's probably a sportweight, but I'm not sure that it's spun tightly enough for socks.

Earlier this afternoon, I started spinning my May Spunky Eclectic club fiber (wonderful long-staple, crimpy Coopworth wool in a colorway called "Nightshade") that has been patiently waiting in my fiber basket. When it arrived back in May, I was not very excited about the dark colors. I was in a very springy mood and wanted to be spinning buttercups and rainbows. I guess I had enough bright sunshine this past week, because the deep, mysterious colors of Nightshade kept me entranced (and the Backyardigans kept PeeWee entranced) for almost 2 hours of spinning! Can you believe I got to spend that much time on it? I know, I'm a slacker with the boobtube-as-babysitter, but she played hard at the lake all week. I loved the pictures on the Spunky club blog of this fiber spun as a single, so I decided to do that, too. Adrian of Hello Yarn also had a handy link to information on spinning low-twist singles, and that was a great help.

And now to finish off tonight's post, we have news. Yes. News. I'm just going to say it fast, then shut up. I'm going to Yarn School. I'm so excited, I nearly pee my pants every time I think about it. Faith, you coming? It's in Kansas, what could be better? YARN SCHOOL. (Adrian will be one of the teachers and I'm like her #1 fan, and maybe she could mention your name to Jared--you know, Brooklyn Tweed?!?--and maybe she could get him to autograph your forehead, cuz aren't you like his #1 fan?! SQUEEEEE!!!!! {hyperventilating})

More news? Yes. More News. I submitted a design to Creative Knitting magazine and they accepted it. It will be in their May '08 issue. I don't think they want me to say anything else about it. I could probably safely say that it's a sweater. It's in cotton (yes, ouch-knitting-cotton). It's something that I would actually wear myself, assuming I ever finished it--but I have to finish this sweater, because THEY'RE PAYING ME TO KNIT!!! Shutting up now.