Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Hats of Christmas 2011

I had four hats here in my home that I knew that I would probably never wear.  I wanted to gift them for Christmas, but I did not know who would like them.  My eventual plan was to show them to my youngest sister and her two daughters when they came to visit from Vermont.  (The girls are older now, and this is the first time we had the pleasure of their company for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.)  I had other presents to give them, so the hats were "something extra".

My sister loved the entrelac cap that I made for a class sample last winter.

My younger niece tried on the first #77 Dream Hat (a photo is in my last post, so I will not add one here) and said that she would like it.  I offered to make her older sister a new #77 Dream Hat.  I showed her the four color choices of Wool Clasica that I have, and she selected the pewter, which was one of my prize skeins.

I will be making this hat as soon as possible.  (Perhaps my niece will take it with her on her semester abroad in Copenhagen.)   I am sooo fortunate to be working on yet another super secret design project!  But after its January 5 due date, I will cast-on.  I think that hats are the fastest and most fun kind of knitting that there is.  I am happy for them being worn in Vermont!  And maybe in Denmark!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

#77 Dream Hat Pattern

Just as if it were a Christmas present (for me), the pattern for my #77 Dream Hat was released late last week.

This design won first place in a contest I wrote about in early September.  Thank you for your votes!  I won ten skeins of Wool Clasica which I blogged about here.  A very busy tech editor named Jocelyn (introduced in my bananas post) did a fantastic job in formatting and editing the pattern for Fairmont Fibers which distributes Manos del Uruguay yarns.

The hat uses one skein of Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica.  For more information, see the #77 Dream Hat Pattern page on Ravelry.  The pattern is a free download available on both the Fairmont Fibers website, here, and at my Ravelry store, here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Midweek Meditation

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit, either." 
                                                                     ~Elizabeth Zimmerman

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly."    ~Andy Rooney

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Knitting?

I do not really do "Christmas Knitting".  I always have entirely too much to do this time of year to add that to my list.  I like to enjoy my knitting time.  I do not like having knitting deadlines.  I save them for design projects that have due dates, and knitting for teaching, when necessary.

I must paraphrase here (I could not find the exact quote) from Jared Flood's Brooklyn Tweed blog post of a couple, or more, Christmases ago.  In that remembered post, he said that he does not really do Christmas knitting -- he just looks around at what he already has made, and decides who to give it to.

Not everyone on my gift list needs or expects a hand knitted gift (every year).  And several would not appreciate one anyway (on any year).

I do plan to give my aunt the original pair of my original TATU socks.  I do not think that she reads my blog, so here is a photo.

You probably saw these socks before.  A photo of one is on the cover of my original TATU Sock pattern.  My aunt knit her very first pair of socks this year for her son-in-law.  She will like and appreciate these.

The scarf, made from my Both Sides Now pattern, will go to my niece.  The moebius cowls, both knit as samples for a not yet released pattern, will go to a sister and a sister-in-law.  Not one of these ladies have previously received a hand knit gift (from me).  I do hope that they like them.

The hats have me wondering...Who?  I like to knit hats.  I find them to be fast and fun to knit.  But I am not a hat wearing person.  I only wear them when I go snow-skiing or snow-shoveling or for walking the dog when it is really cold out.  I have four hats that I could give.  Here are two. And I am still pondering...Who?

Happy Christmas Knitting!  Happy Christmas Gifting!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vacation Knitting

This was my vacation knitting for Grand Cayman Island.

I did actually knit a wee bit on the beach.  I always, even on vacation, begin each day with some knitting and coffee.  And I do like to end the day with some knitting and maybe some wine.  With a total of six flights and four layovers, I had a lot of hours to knit.

The TSA officially allows knitting needles (however, any individual TSA officer may take them away if they feel that they are a threat).  I have taken knitting like this on planes many, many times and have not once been questioned.  Two things that I do, though, are to put my scissors and backup needles (in the same sizes) (just in case) in my checked-in bag, as well as any extra yarn I might need.

I was kind of proud of myself that I fit a whole lot of knitting, on two different projects, in a very small bag.

The yarn for both projects is Schulana Kid Seta (70% mohair and 30% silk).    (Purchased at The String Thing Shop.)  It is lace weight and light as air.

The first project was the two 'neckline frills' (307 stitches x 3.5", and 245 stitches x 2.75") for my Agatha pullover named Timeless.  This is the smaller of the two.  (Since I have been home, I have already attached the larger frill to the sweater.)

The second project was my Thundercloud Cowl, which is now roughly halfway finished.  (This project will take a very long time.)

It is pretty, though.  But not easy to get that in a photograph.

I had one challenging project...the 40 row lace pattern with beads.  And one mindless project...the almost endless rows of stockinette.  I think I did a great job packing for my trip!  And the clothes I packed were just fine, too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Midweek Meditation

"Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgivness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect."
 ~  Oren Arnold

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seven Mile Beach

I had a four night vacation on Grand Cayman Island and stayed on Seven Mile Beach.

I found it quite interesting that Seven Mile Beach is not actually seven miles long.  In one tourist guide, I read that it is 5.3 miles long, and in another, I read that it is "five and a half miles (to be precise)".

I like that it is named "Seven Mile Beach".  It is a much better name than "Five and a Half Mile Beach".  I am very fond of the number seven, and it was paradise to me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Where Did I Go?

I was in place far too warm to wear my new sweater.  The name of the place has my favorite number 7 in it.  Of course, I took some photos.

Another clue: it is in the Caribbean.
I will tell you more next time...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Midweek Meditation

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."           ~Dr Seuss

Have you seen the Singing Lambs Video?  It is too cute to miss!
I hope you are enjoying your holiday preparations!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Back with an FO

I am back.  I have been traveling.

Just before I left on my trip, my daughter took pictures of me wearing my latest Finished Object.

I do prefer photos without my face in them.  The first photo has brightly angled sunlight, but I like how the texture shows.  The second photo probably shows the fit better.  Which photo do you think is best?

It is a comfortable sweater.  The pattern is A New Neckdown Pullover by Diane Soucy and the yarn is Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica Naturals.  I made this sweater while teaching the "My First Sweater Class" at Gosh Yarn It!.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Midweek Meditation

"When I am traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly."      ~  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Design Work: "Bananas" and a "Scarf Call"

My next pattern to be released (I had hoped it would be out by now) will be my #77 Dream Hat.

This design won top prize in the Wool Clasica Design Contest held by Manos del Uruguay in September.  The pattern is being tech edited and formatted by Fairmount Fibers which distributes the yarn.  I first followed up in mid-October when I received my prize of Ten Skeins of Wool Clasica.  I sent a thank you email to Lisa, and inquired about the pattern release date.  Lisa told me that it would only be a few more days.

But, by mid-November, I was still waiting.  I sent off another email.  This time a new person, Jocelyn (a tech editor?) replied and she said, "We're bananas here, so I apologize that this hasn't happened sooner."  She requested that I send the photos as separate files, which I did the next day.  I guess I can wait a little longer...she seems like a neat person, with her "bananas" comment.  In most kinds of work, it is better to be bananas, than, shall we say, molasses...better to be too busy than too slow.

I am working on a very special super secret design project which I cannot show you until sometime next year.  It is super exciting!

And meanwhile, I also have allowed some time this weekend to work on a submission to a "Scarf Call" by Quince & Co.  My work on this also must be kept to myself for now.

With my current design work and the Thanksgiving holiday (I will be cooking a turkey dinner) my blogging may be slowing down just a little bit for just a little while.

Friday, November 18, 2011

About in Boats

"about in boats -- or with boats.  In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter.  Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it."     ~Kenneth Grahame

In the years that I have owned my digital camera, I have taken many photos from both in and out of boats.  This photo is my current desktop background -- the sun setting beyond the water -- the wake behind the boat and the angle of the clouds pulls me right in there.

The location is somewhere between St Thomas and St John, USVI, where almost everyday is in the 80's.  I wish I could be there now.  In a boat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Midweek Meditation: "about in boats --"

From:  Kenneth Grahame's THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS...

      "'about in boats -- or with boats.  In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter.  Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it.  Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you don't; whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.'"


     He continued, "'Look here!  If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, suppose we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?'"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunset Socks

Last week I finished a pair of socks which are for me.

I knit the first one to photograph for my Fingering Weight TATU Sock Pattern.  They are made with hand dyed Debutante Superwash Merino Fingering in a special colorway called "String Thing", which was created by Jen for the String Thing Shop where I bought it.  It reminds me of the colors at sunset -- so the name "Sunset Socks".

Here is a detail photo.

 And a sunset photo I took from a marina on the bay in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Water Socks

A little over a week ago I finished a pair of socks which I will give to my husband for his birthday.

I knit the first one to photograph for my Fingering Weight TATU Sock Pattern.  They are made with Austermann Step in a color called "Wasser" which auf Deutsch (in German) is "Water".  So the name "Water Socks".

Here is a detail photo.

And a photo I took looking out at the water while on Water Island, USVI.  It is just a half mile from St Thomas.  You can only get there by boat or ferry.  It is a great spot for a day trip while visiting St Thomas.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Midweek Meditation

"Positive thinking evokes more energy, more initiative and more happiness."    
                                                                      ~ Remez Sasson

Have a positive day everyone!  Full of energy, initiative and much happiness!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Positive Thinking

My last blog post was an offering of a knitting pattern giveaway in return for comments.  There were no comments, so there are no winners.

My "stat" numbers for my blog, have shown a growing number of "pageviews" in recent weeks.  I thought that the contest was a good idea.  Now I must reflect on what this means.

Maybe there are readers who have never commented to a blog before.  I know when I first wanted to comment to a blog, I felt a bit daunted by the "choose a profile" thing.  It is not really hard to do, but you have to be ready for that.  I actually had a little used gmail address in place, so for me it could have been so easy; but still I remember that I did not leave a comment the first few times that I considered leaving a comment.

Maybe the giveaway prize was not big enough.  The last two blog giveaways that I commented on both involved newly released knitting books.  I would have loved to win either one.  Winning a book and anticipating its delivery would be a great prize, don't you think?

Maybe (and this is also positive thinking for Knitcircus) many of my readers are Knitcircus subscribers and already had the patterns.

Maybe all of the above.  At least I have to think so.  I am not going to let this stop me from blogging.  But I do not think that I will have another contest for a while.  What do you think?  Your comment is always welcome.   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Pattern Giveaway / "One Last Time"

Knitcircus, Issue #15, Fall 2011

One day in November, Knitcircus, Issue #15, Fall 2011 will be replaced with Knitcircus, Issue #16, Winter 2011.  I have found that all of the back issues are archived.  And yet, I will be a little bit sad when it is no longer the current issue; so I am hoping that you will look at it "one last time".

My Love and Prayers Scarf pattern from the issue will remain a free pattern available as a Knitcircus Charity Pattern.

I am very happy with my latest Love and Prayers ScarfI used three skeins of Brown Sheep Lanaloft Sport Weight yarn in "Cherry Splash" and knit it for my local Womenheart group.  It photographed well.

"Love & Prayers Scarf" for Womenheart

I do not really know if my blog has regular readers.  Actually, I do know that I have a couple, and I have reason to believe the number may have grown a bit.  Comments are a blogger's greatest reward.  I appreciate each and every one that I get.

I am soliciting your comment now.  I have a link to download (free) the complete set of 27 patterns from Knitcircus, Issue#15, Fall 2011.  I can giveaway this link three times.  Please go to where the fall issue is still current, and leave a comment to this post about which pattern you like the best.  I will close this giveaway at midnight EST this Sunday, November 6.  If I get more than three comments, I will use a random number generator to select three winners.  Winners will be announced on Monday, November 7.  Thanks in advance for your participation!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Midweek Meditation -- On Four Seasons

My Grandma S often said, "You have to have all four seasons."  I do not remember what else she had to say on that subject.  She did have an amazing garden, though.

"Four seasons fill the measure of the year;/ There are four seasons in the mind of man."     ~ John Keats

"I came from Mechanicsville, Virginia, where you have four seasons."     
~ Jason Mraz 

"I have three daughters. I wanted them to be raised where there are real seasons and where everyone their age wasn't trying to get into movies."     
~ Chevy Chase 

"May you be blessed with peace and safety in all four seasons."     
~ Chinese Proverb 

"I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year."     ~ Edna St Vincent Millay

I do not like winter.  It is not just the cold, but also the darkness.  Fall starts out so lovely, but by now, it is ushering in my least favorite season.  I will try to remember this last quote...

"You must take personal responsibility.  You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.  That is something you have charge of."     ~ Jim Rohn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yarn Tasting

Last Thursday was an altogether fun night at Gosh Yarn It!  Two lovely representatives from Cascade Yarns, Erlinda and Shannon, brought a great many yarns to sample or "taste".  They also brought knitted sample projects, patterns and even some wine.

I sat near this corner of the table, because I most wanted to sample the Rustic.  I plan to use it to make a Swirl Jacket from the book Knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver.  My favorite pattern in the book is Shades of Grey in Rustic, color #12, black, with accents of color #01, deep red.

Here is my swatch, in the welt pattern, for the Shades of Grey jacket.  It is basically 5 rows of stockinette alternated with 5 rows of reverse stockinette.  I really do like it!  I used size 6 needles for this swatch.

I also sampled the Ultra Pima Cotton: size 4 needles and the "Dew Drop" pattern from Barbara G Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

And I swatched with Cloud (size 8 needles) and Eco Duo (size 7 needles).

But I was thinking that the best part of the evening was "fellowship''.  I am not sure if that is exactly the right word.  But almost all of the regular Thursday night "Stitch and Spin" folks were there.  As were many others whom I get to see less often.  It was so great to see everyone!!!  And the wine was good, too!

Thanks Jill and Ann and Shannon and Erlinda!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rare Weather Indeed

I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and yesterday we had an unheard of amount of snow for October.



Yes, it is pretty.  But the winters are far too long here, and I was not happy about it.  Thankfully, today is sunny and it will all be gone soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Midweek Meditation

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.                     ~ Scott Adams, US cartoonist

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Saving Sweaters with Whatever it Takes

For days now, the Yarn Harlot has been doing whatever she can to save her sweater.  She has even performed sweater surgery.

You must be very brave, or very desperate -- or both -- to attempt sweater surgery.  A couple of years ago, I performed sleeve surgery on my Ariann cardigan knit with Brooks Farm Yarns Mas-Acero.  The sleeves were started at the wrist and then joined to the body and knit up to the neck.  It was hard to know exactly how long the sleeves should be before joining, and the yarn was especially soft and drapey.

The finished sleeves were easily two inches too long.  Do you know that you cannot rip knitting from the cast on edge?  In order to shorten the sleeves, I had to decide on a row where the ribbing should start if worked downward. Then I snipped the yarn in that row, and pulled out the row, one stitch at a time, detaching the extra length.  (Sorry I do not have photos of the actual surgery.  This was over two years ago -- long before I was blogging.)  I did save the detached sleeve pieces.  They are like my red badge of courage.

 After carefully pulling out the row of knitting, the live stitches were put on needles, knit down and bound-off.  Sweater surgery is quite nerve-wracking, but it was well worth it to have a sweater with the right length sleeves.

I have good news on my latest sweater fiasco -- the fuzz ball Cerisara.  I used ALL of these de-fuzzers.

It took a lot of time, but the stitch pattern shows again.  And my "Evergreen" Cerisara, in Handwerks So-Soft DK, is now a finished object!

I hope that all of your knitting (or whatever is your work or passion) goes well, and that your mistakes will be few and far between!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photos Not from Rhinebeck

While at Rhinebeck, I made only two purchases.  (I have a very large stash.  In fact, it is SO large that, lately, I rarely forget that it is SO VERY large.)  I bought a hat kit in a jar from Hope Spinnery.

I have seen this yarn before, and I love its quality of purity.  It was great to get a lovely sampling of colors and the "Tree Line Hat" pattern all in a neat package!

Purity shines in the additional skein of yarn I purchased with the kit.  This is Hope Spinnery's Wind Spun Yarn blend (75% ME wool, 25% ME alpaca) in a color called "SNOW".

It is pictured with my second purchase, a skein of OPAL sock-weight yarn, dyed like faded denim, called "INDIGO".  A yarn search at Ravelry, and a general googling, have returned nothing.
Cool!  I will think of it as a limited edition yarn that was waiting for me.  "in Handarbeit kunstvoll coloriert" on the label, translates to "in hand-crafted artistically colored."
"jeder Strang ist ein Unikat und somit einzigartig in seiner Schonheit und Brilliannz" on the label, translates to "each strand is unique and therefore is unique in it's beauty and brilliance."  (So much for online translation.)

The above photos were shot on my deck.  This photo was shot from my deck.
Not from my deck, but nearby...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Had Trouble, Too

The Yarn Harlot did not finish the sweater that she wanted to wear to Rhinebeck.  She almost made it, but then she "had a little trouble."

I have to admit that when I first read what she said about speeding up the blocking process by putting her knitting in a warm oven, I thought she was crazy.

But then I found myself in a similar position on the night before my trip to Rhinebeck.  I had finished my Cerisara two nights earlier, and I could not stop myself from washing/blocking it.  After two days of air drying, it was still too damp to wear.  I re-read Stephanie's post about the ovenBut she did not provide enough details, not even a temperature.  I was afraid to try it.

My sweater yarn is 80% super-wash merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon.  This is similar to (cashmere) sock yarn, and I have often washed hand-knit socks in the washer and dried them in the dryer.  I decided that if I put the dryer on the lowest heat setting and used the delicate cycle (mistake #1) the sweater would be fine.  I also threw the damp beach towel that the sweater had been drying on into the dryer, thinking it would help to absorb and distribute the heat (mistake #2).

The trouble was, being the night before a trip, I was busy getting ready for the next day, and I did not check the dryer for about a half an hour (mistake #3).  My sweater was ruined.

It did not shrink.  It did not burn.  But it is a mass of fuzz balls.  I blame friction...the friction from choosing a longish dryer cycle with all that "cool down" time...and the friction from the terry towel.

Can it be saved?  I am not sure.  I spent some time removing fuzz with a sweater "d-fuzz-it" comb.  It helped, but it might take a couple of hours to get it all.  Will it ever look like new?  I don't think so, but I will work on it.

I had trouble, too.