Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coffee Beans for a Little Boy

Do you ever have a plan in mind, and everything falls into place really nicely?  This is how I felt about one of my most recent knits.

Over the summer, while re-organizing my stash, I came across some yarn I had been saving.  I had one skein of superwash wool that I dyed about a year or so ago.  I was originally going for an amber/yellow/brown tonal yarn and instead came up with something that looked pretty pukey.  Some of the color washed out too much, and other spots were too dark and concentrated.  I was really bummed because I had high hopes for this yarn. 

My solution was to over-dye the yarn.  A lot of people over-dye commercially dyed yarn to achieve a color they prefer, instead of letting a perfectly good skein of yarn sit and collect dust. So apply the same concept, except with yarn I had dyed myself. 
I overdyed the yarn with what I believe was blue-raspberry Jell-O.  I think.  It may have just been blue Wilton’s dye, I can’t quite remember.  What I came up with was a gorgeous skein of woodsy greens.   It reminded me of forests and fairies.  At one point, I made Squishy a little pair of fingerless mitts for the cooler Fall days.  Then I set it aside to wait for the perfect project.
So when it was pulled to the top of the yarn bin in late June, I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for.  A cardigan for a little boy.  I had the little boy in mind, and I had plenty of time to get it done.  You see, my friend Lindsay has a son who turns one in October.  And I love this pattern.  The pattern is Little Coffee Beans Cardigan.  It may look familiar to you because I knit the same one for Lovebug, except in pinks and brown, again with my own hand-dyed yarn. 

What’s really funny is I had this green yarn picked out and even purchased the brown to coordinate before I cast on for Lovebug’s cardigan.  But about 3 days after I purchased the brown, we found out we were having a girl and I couldn’t wait and cast on for her instead...using the brown I purchased for this little boy.  Oops! 

Anyway, to make a long story longer, I got occupied knitting for Lovebug and this plan was pushed to the back. 

Enter September and the conference I just attended.  We would be close to Lindsay and Jason, close enough to visit, and so close to their little boy’s birthday I couldn’t not have it finished by then.  I cast on last Thursday and finished it on Saturday.  Knit with Woodland Fairy (my hand-dyed) and Cascade 220 Superwash Wool in Cordovan, this sweater was a breeze.

When we got into town on Sunday evening we went shopping and Mr. Man picked out these lovely green glazed buttons that were perfect.  Sized for 12 months, it appears as though it will easily fit for the cold-weather season.  Instead of doing the eyelet raglan increases, I used M1s to create invisible increases.  (A word to anyone who downloaded the pattern prior to August 2011, the designer has updated her pattern.  I had to remove the pattern from my library and re-download it into my library to get the updated version.  She has included instructions for long sleeves, as well as M1R and M1L for invisible raglan increases.)
A special yarn for a special little boy.  I’m glad I could put it to use.  I love knitting with hand-dyed yarn.  (And even better – I had enough of both the brown and green to knit Squishy a hat!  Stay tuned for pictures!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday 9/28

It’s Wednesday again.  The week sort of started without me!  Actually, I was out of town for a conference Monday and Tuesday and now being back on Wednesday, I feel a bit behind.  Today has been spent playing catch-up as tomorrow I will be out of the office in the morning. 

I wish I could say I had a lot to share with you as far as that which is on my needles.  And at the same time, I’ve been busy and the needles have been clicking like crazy.  You see, although I have few WIPs, I HAVE finished some things.  Two things, actually.  But I will wait and share those another day since today is WIP Wednesday – not What Did I Finish Wednesday. 

The Baby Chalice Blanket is chuggin’ along.  I’m down to less than half a skein of my last Madelinetosh Tosh DK skein.  It’s probably more like a quarter, but it’s hard to guesstimate because it’s in a hand-wound ball and I never seem to judge them accurately.  My plan is to try and get one more full lace repeat and then knit the 10 rows of garter stitch border.  I want to use up every last bit if I can, so it may mean a little ripping and re-doing if I have a surplus, or ripping back to add the border sooner in case I run out. 

I’m still trying to decide where I’m going to block this blanket.  I’ve got mats and I’ll have wires (hopefully) by then.  But I want to give it a nice good soak and a sturdy blocking before I take the pins out.  There aren’t many Squishy-free locations in the house!

(Sorry – no pictures.  But really it looks just like the picture on the sidebar just longer.)

My elephant knit is still sort of stalled.  I’m afraid I may run out of yarn and I REALLY don’t want to rip out and start over.  But time is running out and stalling will only make it worse.  If I do have to start over I’ll have to knit double-time just to get everything finished.  Today I hope to get the poly pellet pouches made for the legs, body and trunk to give it a nice weight.

(And because this is a surprise elephant, I have no pictures to share here either.  I know, I’m boring today!)

That’s about all I have to share that’s still on the needles.  So how about What’s Next?  I’d like to knit a shawl, a nursing shawl.  I want it to be light enough that Lovebug doesn’t overheat, but weighty enough it feels good in my hands.  Anything too lacey or airy won’t work.  I’ve been perusing Stephen West patterns, and there’s a shawl in a recent magazine I picked up that I really like.  We’ll see where the wind takes me, but once I get these couple things off the needles, I think that’s where I’m going next.  

Or socks.  Because I want to try me-sized socks.  No idea of what pattern yet.  I have to think on that a little more. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mail Call!

I was hoping to be better organized than it all worked out, but I won’t fret about that now.  So many of my friends on Ravelry are expecting little ones. It’s amazing and fun to hear all the news and see pictures of all the little babies. It also makes me anxious to meet our little girl.

With that said, my friend, Melissa, from Knitting A Baby, just welcomed her little girl into the world this July.  And now that the Canadian postal strike is over, I could send these items on their merry way to Canada. The weather is a bit warm for knitwear, but I sure hope Mamma and Baby can put this stuff to good use!

For her little girl, I knit Kate OatesPlaid Hatter.  Hold on to your hats, folks!  This was my first true attempt at stranded knitting and boy was I intimidated!  So what’s the best remedy? Close your eyes and dive head first into the project. Don’t look back.  This has served me well in learning new things so I just keep doing it!  (Turns out, stranded work isn’t so bad afterall.)
I used my own worsted weight, hand-dyed superwash wool in Raspberry Truffle (you may recognize it from this sweater, these socks and this bag) and Cascade 220 Superwash Wool in Cordovan.  Again, my instincts proved accurate and they were lovely together.  I wasn’t sure if a variegated yarn would mesh well with this plaid pattern (that whole stripes and plaid combo, you know?)  But to me, it couldn’t be more perfect (Yes, I’m tooting my own horn, Readers.)
I had finished the brim and about 2” of stranding when I noticed I forgot to change to larger needles AND my floats were too tight.  Oh bugger…  I ripped back to the brim and began again. Much better on the second go-around. My floats still felt a bit tight, but with a healthy blocking, that problem was resolved.
The pattern calls for the pom-pom to be made with the same color as the brim, but I used both.  I was also using worsted weight instead of sport weight as called for, meaning I adjusted my stitch count and hoped for the best.
This little girl is a beautiful 9 pound bundle, so I hope the hat fits come the fall weather.  If not, maybe Melissa can pass it on to someone who will love it just as much.

I wanted to make something else but couldn’t decide on a pattern (indecision seems to be stalking me through this pregnancy…).  Finally, I arrived at the Cabled Keyhole Scarf by Anne Hanson.  Knit on US 7s using Patons Angora Bamboo in Low Tide I cast on and finished this little scarf in just a few days.
I did frog my first attempt, knit with Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in Blueberry Mix (DK weight), it seemed to light so I switched to worsted.

The scarf is small, with a little keyhole on one side to pull the opposite end through and secure in place. A perfect size for under a coat or when the weather gets chilly. Obviously, this knit is for Melissa, not baby.  Moms need to be pampered, too, right?!

I knit 4 extra repeats of chart B so it wouldn’t be too snug around the neck.  I opted for the large size because other knitters noted how little the smallest size was – “child-sized” was the term frequently used. 

Melissa, I hope you like these knits, and I hope they work for the upcoming colder weather!  I really enjoyed knitting these for the two of you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

After the Weekend

It’s Monday.   It feels like a Monday.  These are always long days for us because Mr. Man works nights on Mondays and Squishy doesn’t really get to see him until Tuesday afternoons (he’s in bed by the time Daddy gets home). 

After a very dreary weekend full of cold and rain, today has been a little warmer and sunnier.  Allergies have attacked and taken over my body, I’m hoping they calm down soon.

I got just a little done by way of knitting this weekend. A few more rows on the baby blanket and the elephant saw no love.  Instead of working on knitting or sewing projects this weekend I slept (on Saturday) and Sunday was spent helping some family move.  I sort of feel like I need a vacation from my weekend! (It wasn’t bad, just tiring.)

All week at work last week was go-go-go.  The further into the week we got, the busier my days became.  Friday flew by because I had another doctor’s appointment.  It’s amazing how fast 2 weeks can go.  Friday marked 32 weeks in this pregnancy.  Little Lovebug is NOT shy about moving around and making Mamma uncomfortable.   But the doctor’s appointment was good and  for the most part unremarkable.  I’m having some muscle pain so the doctor gave me some stretches to try, as well as recommending to apply heat or cold packs (whichever is most comfortable) and Tylenol if needed.  If that doesn’t help, she’ll refer me to physical therapy. 

I like the quick appointments when I can go in, take care of business and be done.  The doctors are good at listening to my concerns and questions and taking the time to answer them.  But I really prefer them to be boring and easy.  It means everything is going well and I just have to keep on for another few weeks.

We’re halfway through September, but I find myself feeling like we’re already in October.  My brain has a way of thinking forward to the next week instead of remembering to take care of things the current week.  I’m always a week ahead of myself!  Very soon I think we’ll be making a trip to Kmart or Target to find Squishy a Halloween costume.  Nothing fancy, but I think he’s old enough to enjoy a walk down our neighborhood block and a stop in at Grandma’s house.  :) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday 9/14

Anyone else notice how quiet the blog has been lately?  I don’t really have  any excuses for you why that is.  I guess when I remember to post, I don’t have much to tell you about.  And when I do have things to share, I don’t have time to post. 

I’ve found myself a lot more relaxed about the knitting lately.  When I sit down in the evenings, if the needles aren’t clicking, I feel a bit as though the time is wasted.  But I can’t find the motivation or desire to pick up a project.  I’m blaming it on the pregnancy.  I had a real “gung-ho” attitude a few months ago and I was busting out projects left and right.  Now I’m back to not knowing what to do with my free time. 

So projects languish…  But I think I’m okay with it.  I have several projects I’d like to make but I don’t have the yarn for any of them.  I’m trying really hard to use stash yarn before purchasing more.  It’s fun to have lovely, shiny new yarn, but it’s not necessary. 

So what HAVE I been working on?  A few things.  I signed up for the next Itty Bitty Swap, E is for Elephant.  I’ve started the required knit item for this and I’m not quite half way through.  I’m not sure if I’ll have enough yarn, though, so I may have to rip back and find a 3rd color to coordinate.  We’ll see.  I knit quite a bit of that this weekend.  I did realize I started knitting slower the more yarn I used because I was afraid I’d run – obviously knitting slower doesn’t affect the yardage used, but my mind sure thought it did!  I like how it’s coming together, but I’m near the point of needing fiberfill and polypellets so this is on hold for the moment.

The Baby Chalice Blanket is slowly and surely getting bigger.  I went over my progress with Mom the other day and we both think I should have enough yarn to make the dimensions look right.  When this is finished it will get a VERY healthy blocking and should grow considerably.  I’m so excited to see it done!

I have finished the first skein and ALMOST the entire 2nd skein of yarn.  I’m alternating between skeins 2 & 3 at the moment, and I can’t wait until the 2nd skein is gone.  I feel like my progress is much slower alternating yarns.  I do pump out about 4-6 rows a night, at least.  The only thing I DON’T have for this project are the blocking wires.  I can use pins and block it on a grid, but that’s not as…finished…as I’d like it to be. (I don’t mean it won’t be complete, it just won’t have quite the same look.)  I’ve heard about a few Etsy sellers who have blocking wire sets for about $20, so maybe I’ll be able to purchase some before the blanket is finished.   Either way, this blanket WILL be complete before Lovebug arrives.

I’m thinking about knitting myself some earbud covers (a casing for your earbud cords).  I’ve found two patterns, Untangled and Boogie Earbuds, that both seem simple enough.  Not because my earbuds are always tangling, but because they look fun and it seems like a good way to use up my sock yarn remnants.  The only thing is I can’t decide if I REALLY want knitted covers. 

In other news, I’m 31(almost 32) weeks along now and starting to get uncomfortable.  Sleep is hard to come by at night, which means frequent naps on the couch.  Baby moves a lot and seems to sometimes do so in response to Mr. Man and Squishy talking, which is fun.  Squishy wants Baby to come NOW because she’s getting big.  And when he gets dressed in the morning, he wants baby to get dressed too.  He’s felt Lovebug move a few times, to which he explains to me that “Baby wake up.”  It’s all very cute and I think he’ll be a fantastic big brother.

Maybe in the next week or two I’ll have more progress to report, until then have a fantastic week!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reviewing My Goals

Back in January, I mentioned that I don’t really adhere to New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t think may people do.  Instead, I gave myself some goals I’d like to achieve.  If I went above and beyond, that would be great, but I wouldn’t let myself be disappointed if I didn’t reach my goals.  They could always continue into the next year.

I don’t think I ever wrote a formal list.  I’ve had in my mind what I wanted to accomplish, but it was never put on paper.  But as Christmas approaches (I know – it’s so early to think about Christmas…but you know we knitters like to try and think ahead…), I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned this year. 

In no specific order, here are a few items that I can remember were on my list (this next year, I plan to write them down so if I forget, I have something to refer back to):

Finishing up any UFOs and WIPs lingering in my stash (I had 8, I think)
            I DID finish many of these.   I’d have to go back and look at how many I got through, but I did finish a large chunk.  Then I ran out of steam and needed other things to knit.  I still have 8.  But the list has changed.  Only 2 real WIPs and 5-6 UFOs.  One I’m not really counting as a UFO because I never started it, I only purchased the yarn for it.  I even finished a project that had been lingering for over a year and a half!!

Intarsia – I haven’t done a lot of it, but I have done a little.  Little bits here and there, enough to consider myself well versed enough to do bigger projects. 

Stranding/Fair Isle  - I don’t know where the line is drawn as to what is true fair isle, but I have done a little of this as well.  The Plaid Hatter is sort of my “wow, I did that!” project.

Shawl for myself:  That project that sat for over a year?  It was the Traveling Woman, for me.  It’s done, blocked, worn and loved.  I can’t wait for cooler weather to wear it more.  I’d like to make more shawls for myself so I see this as a continuing goal mostly reminding me it’s okay to make things for me.

And lastly, socks.  I’ve knit baby socks, several in fact.  I think I could now handle adult socks.  I know the yarn I’m going to use.  I’ve been saving it.  I’d love to have a pair knit before Lovebug arrives. 

Those are just a few of my goals.  I’m sure there were more I was aiming for, but I can’t remember them.  I’m pretty proud of my accomplishments and what I’ve learned.   Techniques like applied I-Cord, provisional cast-on, Judy’s Magic Cast On, intarsia, stranding,  and the list goes on.  My tool box gets bigger every day!

So now that we’ve marked the halfway point (and more) in the year, what goals have you achieved?  What do you have left you’d like to try and learn?  What’s one thing you’ve done this year you’re extremely proud of?