Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wallaby progress

Yesterday (Friday) I finished the knitting on my Spiral Doily, hooray! Now I just need to block it. Pictures when it looks like more than a tangled pile of yarn. Hopefully tomorrow.

As soon as I finished the doily, I told myself it was all right if I cast on for Ryan's Wallaby. Part of the reason for that was because I managed to talk Tracy out of making this pattern (the one on the front cover) and instead, to join me in making a Wallaby. After much arm twisting she decided to cast on with me for a Wallaby, but using the stripe sequence and yarn from the sweater she was going to make before without sleeves, the curved hem, or fringe of the inspiration pattern.

She's making tremendous progress, especially considering that this will be (basically) her first non-scarf project. Both Rori and Tracy catch on extremely quickly. Well, either they act like they understand what I'm telling them and then go home and look it up and pretend that I taught them, or they're just smart women. I think it's the latter.

So I decided that for my Wallaby I wanted to put a train on the pocket. My boy LOVES trains (or anything with wheels, really) so I thought he'd get a kick out of it. I managed to design a motif from scratch which I'm quite proud of (and will probably post to share later). Pride goeth before a fall, as I used some bastardized combination of fair aisle and intarsia that created quite the smorgasbord of ends. Witness the horror:

But man, the front looks great!! It doesn't really lean like that in real life--I managed to smooth it crooked I guess. Really. I think it's darn cute.

As I was about halfway done with the train motif Ryan came up and looked at the chart and yelled "train, Mom!!" And I said "yep, I'm putting a train on your sweater! See?" and held it up. His face was totally blank. Then he said "no Mom, train here!" and pointed to the chart. He fell asleep before I finished it, so maybe he'll see a train on his sweater in the morning.

The knitting goal for tomorrow is to get the body of the sweater knitted up to the point when I can "fuse" the pocket and body together.

I am really proud of that silly train motif. It's recognizable as a train! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wallaby Swatchiness

Last night I decided to swatch for the Wallaby I'm going to make for my boy. It's probably going to be huge on him since he's 2 and the next size up is a 4, but I'd rather make it too big and have him grow into it than make it too small and not have him be able to use it.

It was 97 degrees outside and I'm going to cast on for a sweater. I think there's something wrong with this picture. Thank goodness for air conditioning!!!

No, there's not something funky going on in the rows on the right. Well, actually there is, but it's intentional. I've put in purl bumps to indicate my needle size--US5 for the bottom part, and US4 for the top part. I always think "oh, I'll remember what needle size I was using on that!" and of course I never do.

So I balled it up in my hand, mashed it into some warm water, scrubbed, squeezed, and otherwise abused it washed the swatch to test for color fastness. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as it could have been with the way cotton dyes tend to never exhaust. And just for you, Lisa, here's my paper towel, on which the swatch rested while it dried overnight:

Really, not too bad for the yarn being 80% cotton and such a rich color. I'm not too worried about it bleeding onto the white yarn that I haven't decided how to incorporate (yet). Thanks for the heads-up, Lisa!

I'm ordering some needles from KnitPicks to make this sweater, so I'm going to put the project aside while I study the pattern and get a few other projects out of the way. I'm almost finished with the Spiral Doily, just need to do the crocheted bind off. Maybe tomorrow. I want to have it finished (and blocked!!) by the next knitting guild meeting, since I started it at the last guild meeting.

And now I've got to get to bed. Why do I always end up posting at midnight?? Oh yeah, housework and two little kids, the lights of my life, who need my attention during the day. :-) Totally worth it. Well, the kids and hubby are, any way. LOL!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

After-Vacation Update

I'm tired!

Our vacation was absolutely fabulous, but I'm tired today. Really really tired. More tired than I've been for a while. This morning both DH and I had dentist appointments so we're both feeling whiny this evening. I didn't sleep well knowing that I was going to have to get up kind of early. Whine whine whine.

Remember the whole "Color me Beautiful" craze? I decided that I'd like to figure out what "season" my colors are, and I'm still confused. I did find a quiz, though, and my results are that I'm a "spring-autumn." I didn't think that was possible, since one is cool and the other is warm.
I think I'll have to do more research. All I know is I'm really light-skinned, like CLEAR, with really red cheeks. And whenever I do a reddish colorwash in my hair, everyone thinks I dye it mousy blond (which is actually my natural color).

The book says that the colors you're naturally attracted to are usually ones that look good on you. Turns out "my" colors are the ones I'm NOT attracted to. I love jewel tones and clear, strong colors. That's not the "Spring" color range. Oh well. One of these days I'll figure it out.

On the knitting front, I've got 8 more rounds to go on the spiral Doily! I'm eager to get it off the needles and blocked to see how big it'll be. From my earlier row gauge estimate I'm guessing it'll be around 40", but of course I'm hoping it'll be bigger so that I can wear it as a shawl instead of using it as a small tablecloth. Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

I need to get back to my Hanging Garden Stole. I'm altering it (of course) so that it'll have fewer repeats across. I'll probably make it the full 14 repeats (I think--from memory) and then do some other stuff around the border incorporating beads and another border.

One of the things I bought in Idaho was the pattern for the Wonderful Wallaby sweater. I also got some yarn for it, Cotton Fleece. I'm way excited about it! Gillian's sweater cost about $15 for the materials, and Ryan's sweater is going to end up being like $40, but I got the yarn for Gillian's for $1 a ball. I figure it'll all even out. I need to swatch for that sweater, and design a motif for the pocket. I got three skeins of dark blue and a skein of off white to do a motif, so now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do. I'm tempted to put waves around the "waist" running behind the pocket with a boat on the front, but he really doesn't have much interest in boats. Now anything with wheels is a different story....

Friday, July 21, 2006

Big Springs and Yellowstone

We had a wonderful (but exhausting!!) day at Yellowstone yesterday, day five of our Idaho vacation. We stopped at Big Springs on our way to Yellowstone, which is always a huge hit with everyone. The fish are humongeous and beautiful. This picture really doesn't do them justice. The larger ones are more than a foot long, probably closer to 18" and just beautiful. There's no fishing at this bridge and people bring bread to feed the fish (and muskrats, and unfortunately the seagulls have driven off the ducks that are usually hanging around) so these are big, calm fish.

And there's a resident muskrat family that is quite charming. This is one of the parents. The seagulls didn't even try to mess with him. What good swimmers these animals are! It was fascinating to watch them.

Ryan and Gillian (and the grandparents) had a great time. Ryan looked so cute in this hat--it's my Mom's, but we were able to cinch it down to fit his rather large head. He was so good about wearing it, which is what amazed me.

I took a large number of photos (like 145) and I won't post most of them here. (Aren't you happy I'm not going to? )

One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip to Yellowstone was to go to Mammoth. I'm not sure how long it's been since I've bene there but it's been a long time. It was smaller than I remembered (and I'm a lot bigger/taller now) but still very impressive!

This is a shot looking almost straight down at one of the many tiers at one of the terraces at Mammoth.

And a shot from farther away:

One of the things I miss about the West is the LIGHT. It's totally different in Oklahoma, and every time I come back to the West it just blows me away.

In this picture Ryan has just finished a chocolate-covered chocolate bar (also known as Dips, granola bars with chocolate on the outside) and is wearing it on his face and hands. Gillian is trying to get away from him as he's pretending to wipe his hands on her. They may be young but they're already good at tormenting each other. In actuality, they were having a great time.

And a family shot. This was actually before Ryan got to the end of his chocolate bar--you can see just a bit of it on his chin.

These nice red marks are my souvenirs from Saturday's visit to the campsite up near Spencer, Idaho. I have no idea what bit me but it's been itchy for days and now they just look terrible. Thank goodness they don't itch any more!! Hopefully they won't scar. Some of the other people who were there also have bites, but I get the award for the worst looking ones. This picture was taken five days after I got bitten.

After Mammoth we sprinted (figuratively) down to Old Faithful and got there in time to have dinner at "the Ham Store," which is what my parents have always called the Hamilton Store, which has a neat "knotty porch." I didn't get a picture, but it's not something that you'd be able to build today.

And of course here's the requisite picture of Old Faithful:

That's all the pics I'll bore you with today. :-)

Tomorrow is our last day since we'll have to leave early Saturday morning to make it to Salt Lake to catch our flight home. I'll be glad to be home, but I've had such a great time I'm not ready for tomorrow to be the last day!

On the knitting front, I got no knitting done yesterday and about three rounds finished on my spiral doily today. Silly me, I actually thought I might have it finished and blocking by now. Hahahahahaha!!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I got to meet LisaK!

This evening I got to meet, face to face, an internet friend! LisaK belongs to a "studio" group to which my Mom also belongs, and they met this evening. It was really fun! Lisa is very nice and very talented. I'm covetous of the beautiful sock she was working on, not to mention the yarn she was spindling.

I'm still working away on my doily project that I'd hoped would be a shawl, but I really don't think it's going to end up being big enough. Measuring my row gauge and then figuring 200 rows (100 rounds) it's probably only going to be around 40" wide. Not quite what I was going for, but it's been a fun knit anyway. The pattern is from Nurhanne's site, the Doily with Spiral.

Tomorrow we're headed to Big Springs to feed some VERY large fish, then on to Yellowstone. I don't know if we'll be back tomorrow night or stay there and come back Thursday. We're playing it by ear (which is essential with young kids, as I well know but of which I am occasionally forcibly reminded).

Earlier today my wonderful DH and I had a date!!! That makes the third one for the year, I think. We went out to lunch at Johnny Carino's (I think that's the name) and had a very pleasant time and excellent food, then wandered around Target (nothing like shopping at a chain store that you have at home--it's all just slightly different!) and got some sunglesses since mine are AWOL, and then went to see Pirates of the Carribean. Some parents who should be clapped in irons actually brought their young children to that movie. Now I really enjoyed it, but my kids stayed at home with Grandma. These kids were way too young to be there--like 2, maybe 3 years old, and around 4 years old. They were very well behaved but there are multiple scenes that I DO NOT EVER want my young children to be exposed to. When they're young teens (like 12 or 13) that's different, but those kids are going to have nightmares. I just hope those kids didn't understand what was happening, but I doubt it.

So it's been a fantastic day and I'm looking forward to going to Yellowstone tomorrow. Speaking of which, I really should be in bed so that I'm not too tired to enjoy it! :-)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 4 of Idaho trip

I can't believe we've already been in Idaho for three full days (the first day of traveling doesn't count--we got here at 10:00 P.M).

Saturday we went to Spencer, Idaho for a family camping trip. I got some great pictures that I'll post at a later date--they're on my Dad's computer.

Sunday we took a little trip in the motorhome to dump the tanks and have a picnic by the Snake River. The kids had a great time (and so did we). The kids even got to see a garter snake swim in the water and eye some small fish. The snake and the fish eyed each other, that is. We came back to the house, cleaned out the motorhome (well, I watched and my parents cleaned it out ), then caravanned over to the storage unit where they park the RV when they're not using it. What a job! It's gotta be lined up just perfectly in the storage space or there's not enough room to open the door to get out. Not to mention that it's so long that if it's not perfectly straight something will scrape along the sides. I'm totally impressed with the way my dad can park that thing!! After that it was home for some ice cream in sugar cones (eaten outside in the gorgeous evening weather) and off to bed.

Today we went on a drive up to Grand Targhee and took the chair lift up to the viewpoint that overlooks the Grand Tetons. What an incredible view!! We (my Mom, me, and my grandparents) went up there about 12 years ago and they've done a ton of improvements to the area at the top. There's now a viewing platform to one side, then the edge of the world on the other side. It sure feels like that, anyway!

(be sure to click on the picture to make it big)

The chair lift takes 20 minutes to go 2,000 feet. The lodge is at 8,000 ft and by the time you get to the summit it's 10,000 feet. Hiking is a real breath-stealing experience at that height when I'm used to 700 feet!! We got some pretty incredible pictures though.

That would be DD Gillian showing me yet another cool rock, with my parents and DS Ryan on their way up to DH Greg.

I just love the lighting on this one--we lucked out with some clouds in the perfect place.

I'll post more pictures tomorrow.

On the way home we managed to talk the menfolk into letting us pop into a yarn shop. I was so windblown and scattered that I managed to not buy anything which I still can't believe. They had some 40% off yarn and some that were $1 a ball, but I just couldn't do it. I've lost my mind, I know. The yarn I liked that was on sale I would've used for a shawl or something lacy, but it wouldn't have held a block so there wasn't much point. And of course the other yarns I liked were $30+ a skein. I'm really trying to not buy things I don't have a plan for, because then I end up with something I won't use because I don't have enough. Better for the wallet, though. ;-)

My mom did come away with one skein of yarn for her rug punching project, which is going to be stunning when she's finished with it. We pulled it (the rug punching project) out of the bag and played with the color placement this morning. Maybe I'll talk her into pulling it out again so we can take pictures.

I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow (today??) but we were going to try to get together with LisaK and have a face-to-face meetup! So, LisaK, if you read this call my mom. :-)

Hopefully tomorrow Rori and Tracy will be crocheting at my house. I forgot to warn Rori that I turned the air conditioning up to 85 while we aren't there and that it's O.K. to turn it down. I'm so bummed--Rori brought us some incredible little cakes the night before we left and I was going to take the "extra" one with us on the trip as a snack/treat/distraction for the kids and I left it on the counter. Major bummer!! I was really looking forward to it.

Whew, I really should go to bed. More tomorrow, I hope, maybe with some pictures of the lace knitting progress. Maybe. :-)

But oh yeah, I finally got a pic of my cupcake downloaded from the camera:

There are actually two identical ones, one for each kid, but I can't seem to round up both of them at the same time. Hopefully that means they're well liked.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

World Cup Knitting FINISHED!!

Whoo hoo, Gillian's World Cup Knitting sweater is finished!

Last night at Knit Wit Night I finished sewing on the second button band reinforcement, sewed the buttonholes (I just cut a slit in the ribbon and then whip stitched around the edges), and sewed on three more buttons.

She's quite happy with it, which is a relief--she's so funny about clothes!

I think she was quite happy that it's finished. :-) Both kids had just finished some ice cream, and so, as always, Ryan is wearing just a bit of it.

I'm going to have to figure out what I'm going to make for Ryan so that I can make a sweater for him before the weather turns cold. Hard to imagine on a day like today when it's been in the low 90s with 55% humidity, but it'll be a small sweater and should go quickly. I'm going to make it a pullover since he's not as good with buttons as she is. Yet. I actually had to steal back the buttons for Gillian's sweater a few times, but when it comes to buttoning up a sweater I think we'll all just be happier with a pullover.

In other WIPs (Works in Progress) news, I've finished both legs of the doll and I'm about half-way finished with the torso/body. Yesterday at Knit Wit Night I finished two cupcakes (one for each child) although I still have to figure out a way to mark them so as to avoid fights. Well, lessen the fights, anyway. I haven't touched my blue socks for a few days, but I'll get back to them.

I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to take to Idaho to work on. It needs to be something small and portable, but not so quick to do that I'll finish it while we're gone--then I'd be project-less! Ack!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Project updates, with pictures

I managed to get some photos taken today, at last.

Here's my latest project, which I really shouldn't have started yet--I'm trying to get a few other projects finished first, but you know what they say about good intentions.

This is a doll from the book "Knitted Toys" by Fiona McTague. It's a great book!
The color is a little off in the picture--that knitted fabric is about the same color as my arm. I had a TERRIBLE time choosing a color for body/face/arms/legs. They had a pink color, but it's PINK. I wanted something halfway between this light tan and pink, but it's not to be had in acrylic locally. Yes, I'm using acrylic--I want this to be a washable doll, since I'm anticipating it'll be treated with as much care as a 5-year-old girl can take--which means not much. LOL!

Here's my ladder-yarn shawl, although it's kind of hard to photograph:

This shawl can be tweaked rather amazingly--I used size US17 needles (I think) which are HUGE so the knitting really moves around. I haven't worn it yet, but I'm planning to on Saturday afternoon. That's Knit Wit Night at Rachelle's house and this will be my fourth one. They're always a good time! This shawl weighs almost nothing, so hopefully it won't add any warmth because it's going to be hot!

And my current progress on Gillian's World Cup sweater:

You can see the buttons (one of them, anyway, on the right) and the reinforcing ribbon (on the left). I still have to sew in the ribbon on the hole side and figure out how to stabilize the button holes, but I'm getting close to finishing.

And lastly, here's the Pinwheel Sweater/shawl that I started last night. I bought the yarn Monday evening when I escaped from the house/children with assistance from my wonderful hubby. It's one of those HUGE balls of bouclé yarn from JoAnn, 11 oz and 850+ yards. (The yarn, not the wonderful husband.) NO stitch definition, but that's just fine for me for this project. I'm not far into it so the color changes haven't started yet, and I'm eager to get to that first one. :-) I figure it'll take a second skein, but I only bought the one to start with. One 40% off coupon = purchasing one ball of yarn at a time. I'm living dangerously, I know.

There are a bunch of things I want to do before we go out of town late next week, but as usual I probably won't get most of them done. :-) I'm definitely an optimist. Then I have to decide what projects I'm going to bring with me. Decisions are so difficult! LOL!

And tonight I'll leave you with a picture of my friend Rori's crocheted cupcake (my knitted one to follow on Sunday, I hope....):

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Knitting frustrations

I managed to do the weaving-in of ends on my ladder yarn shawl, and it's neat. So that's one finished object and two that are in knitting time out. (I'll try to get pics of the shawl soon.)

One of my time-out projects is Gillian's cardigan, which is my World Cup knitting project. It's a darn good thing I still have a few days because the button bands are giving me FITS. The back band is finished and I sewed a grossgrain ribbon on the back to support the buttons. That's fine--it looks good, it's got body (which this yarn doesn't have a lot of), and I'm happy with it.

The other band, the one with the holes, I'm NOT happy with. I ripped it out twice, and I'm finally happy with the picked-up stitches, but the buttons keep popping out of the holes. Part of the problem is that I didn't put enough "shank" on the buttons when I was sewing them on, so they'll have to come off and get sewn on again. No big, I can do that. The holes are a touch big, which I figure won't be such a big deal once the shanks on the buttons are bigger. But what I'm going to have to do in order to give the band enough stability is to sew another grossgrain ribbon on that side, too. Not a big deal except for those holes...I'm going to have to cut out the holes and sew the edges back. Actually, I might just put buttonholes (with the sewing machine) in there and hand-sew the ribbon on.... I'll have to get the spacing just right, but that would solve both problems. My original idea was to put snaps on and then have the buttons on the top band for decoration, and I may end up going back to that if this doesn't work, but we'll see.

Up to this point the whole project has been a real piece of cake. I was kind of feeling guilty since it's been going so easily, and I was supposed to pick a challenging project. Little did I know how much trouble this button band was going to be!!

My other time-out project is the Pinwheel Sweater recently posted on the Elann website. I decided to use a bouclé yarn and wing it as far as the sleeve placement, but while I cast on and knitted a few rounds, it quickly became really obvious that there's NO stitch definition and therefore no way to do the sleeves the way I was planning. I was going to make a big circle, then figure out where the sleeves need to be, duplicate-stitch using waste yarn, cut out the original yarn under the duplicate stitching, and pick up those stitches for the sleeves. I still think it's a great idea, but not in this yarn. Without being able to see the stitches, duplicate stitching becomes impossible.

So now I'm thinking I'll figure out where my sleeves need to be, knit to that point, then use the waste yarn for the opening, and continue. That will essentially make a big circular afghan. Then I'll take out the waste yarn and pick up those stitches for the sleeves, just as I was planning originally. The only real differencee is that I'll actually have to PLAN where the sleeves will go instead of winging it. But I'm going to have to find some different needles--I'm using some Susan Bates circular needles I have in my collection and the cable is waaay too stiff for the magic loop method. I can see some Addi Turbos for this project in my future....

Today the kids and I watched an episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood that I'd recorded with my DVR (I LOVE that thing) and they had a segment on making sweaters in a sweater factory. Fascinating!!!! My kids were entranced.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

World Cup Knitting progress report

I finished all but the closures on Gillian's cardigan.

Today I finished the left front band, got the sleeves sewn in, the side seams sewn, and the ends all woven in. Woo hoo!

The REAL test is Gillian--she put it on and wanted to wear it in 95 degree heat. I still have to get closures for it. I'm thinking I'll do snaps with decorative buttons on the top so it still looks like it buttons.

While I don't have pics of her in it yet, here are some from earlier this afternoon:

What's with the blue yarn running across the sleeve, you ask? Well, the pattern had sleeves that were only 11.3 inches long. Gillian needs sleeves that are 14.5 inches long. Did I actually look at the instructions and notice this? Oh no, not until I followed the instructions as written and cast off, then held them up and went "there's no WAY those are going to cover those long arms of hers."

So, rather than re-knitting those sleeves (I do two at a time because otherwise I have TERRIBLE problems getting them to be the same) I decided to pull out a row above the garter band at the bottom, knit for an additional 3.3 inches or so, then graft to the remaining sleeve.

Luckily it worked out really well. The sleeves look good on her, which is a big relief. Actually, the fact that she WANTS to wear it is the biggest relief!!

Hopefully I'll have the closures on tomorrow and pictures up tomorrow night. Hopefully.

I've been promising pictures of the Lucy Bag post-felting/fulling, so here they are:

The pattern is in there for size comparison. Just as a refresher, this is what it looked like before dying and fulling:

This was the larger size, and I think I'll have to do another one in the smaller size. It was a really fun project, and it holds a ton of stuff--almost too much! You wouldn't believe how many small toys can fit in that bag....