Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stinky Breath no more

I read blogs from people who lead busy lives and knit lots of goodies and marvel at how often and how well they post. The time it takes to get pictures,load them into the computer, edit, write a post, add the pictures - WOW! I applaud the bloggers who do it so often on a consistent basis.

That's not me. I try to post at least a couple times a week and have something to say in that post worth your time. I know its not always successful but I try....

Not much going on today. I started knitting a new sweater and I'm not sure if I like it so I don't want to risk a picture until I decide if its a keeper. I do this often. There have been many projects I start and kill before you actually get to see them.

The boys are getting a bit too used to me being home. I had Wed thru next Monday (29th) off. Bert comes in the den every so often to cry at me and let me know I need to give him and butt stritch. And Chief - I went downstairs to shower and ended up in the messy part of the basement sitting on a chair going through more parent stuff to sort and Chief decided he needed a hug. We sat down there in the colder part of the basement for 15 minutes snuggling and petting and he even cleaned my face for me.

While we were snuggling I noticed a wonderful thing. The kitty treats I bought last week are doing their job. Chief has stinky breath. That cat loves to snuggle but, man, his breath can knock me over. I found new treats at Target - Whiskas Temptations. He can be picky about his treats but both cats have fallen in love with these. The package says they are complete oral care. Tarter control, Healthy gums, Fresh breath. They work. Chief has lovely breath and I am very happy! I've been giving each kitty about 3 a day. If you suffer from kitty breath give them a try.

So, does the fact that I'm talking about kitty breath give you a clue as to how little I have to say today? Let's see what I come up with next time. I promise it won't be about my bad breath!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Leftover Sock yarn & a Mitered bind off

I've got leftover sock yarn. Most of us do. Some people ignore it. Some people make multi-yarn socks. Some people - the more crazy among us - decide to knit a sock yarn afghan.

Yup. you got it. I went over the deep end. I'm starting to make mitered sock yarn squares. They're 3" square. They take less than an hour to make. I figure I'll have enough to make an afghan before its time for me to move into a nursing home, if I'm lucky.

The squares are very basic.
CO 40 sts placing a stitch marker between 20 & 21. They're knit in garter stitch.
Odd rows. knit to 2 sts before the SM, k2tog, sl sm, sl 1, k1, psso, knit to end.
Even rows. Knit across.
Continue until 4 sts are left. BO.

Now here's where I figured out something different. I hate the way a regular BO looks on the end of mitered squares. After playing around a litle bit I came up with a Bind off that I really like. I'm sure there are others that use this but I haven't seen this before.

Mitered Bind Off.

Work the last row (wrong side) knit across.
K2tog, k2tog, pass first st over. break yarn and pull thru last stitch.

This gives a nice tight finish that looks very similar to the beginning and doesn't have that odd looking stitch that likes to hang out on the edge of regular sind off.

I'm going to try doing a k2tog on the last couple stiches of a regular bind off and see if it helps the look there also.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Boys and Me

Whether you are inspecting your last piece of knitting - -
Or watching for Santa - - -

Chief, Bert and I wish you a peaceful & blessed Holiday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Hat and Scarf pattern for you

As Christmas approaches many knitters are in panic mode. Their plans are bigger then their time. I have been enjoying this month because the knitting is done and I've been doing - just cause I feel like it knitting. What a great feeling! No deadlines to worry about. (are you jealous?)

One of the things I finished up already is a pair of gloves of a friend. I'll be giving them tomorrow night and he doesn't read the blog so I'm safe posting a pic. I have wrapped them already before I realized I didn't have a finished pictures so - here's an in-progress picture. - with the traditional assistance of one of the boys.

These gloves are from the Cigar Gloves pattern on Knitty but I made full fingers. The yarn is Swish from Knit Picks. I enjoyed the feel of the yarn and hope they hold up well. The pattern was a bit odd in shaping. As you can see from the partial glove on top it breaks off for the thumb as usual but also put the pinky fingers on hold while a bit more length was added to the body of the glove.

Quick and Easy Brioche Stitch Hat

Just in case you're still in need of a quick present. Here's a Brioche Hat we used to make 20+ years ago at the shop I used to work at. It's made from bulky yarn on big needles. The hat was a few hours of TV watching and knitting and the scarf is in process. This set will end up being for a new friend and will easily be done before Christmas. The yarn is a 20+ year old yarn from Bernat called Venetian it took less than 1 skein of 50gm - yardage not listed on ball band. I'll write up the hat and scarf more formally when I've finished the scarf but right now I don't know how much yarn it will take.

Here's the basic pattern - done in brioche stitch which is a slip stitch rib.
Brioche Hat and Scarf
Needles - size 11-15 (depending on bulk of yarn) I used 11
Bulky weight yarn (1 skein for hat, 1-2 for scarf- I'll let you know later)
CO 36 sts very loosely.
Row 1 (set up row): *K1, bring yarn forward as if to purl, slip next st as if to purl. Bring yarn to back over right needle creating a diagonal loop. Repeat from *, ending last st with yarn forward, slip last st as if to purl.
Row 2: K1, * yarn forward between needles, sl next st as if to purl, bring yarn back over right needle as in row 1, k2tog (st and sloppy loop). Repeat from *, ending with yarn forward, sl 1 as if to purl.
Work row 2 until piece is 7-11" (desired length). My hat was 10".
Decrease row: K1, P2tog across row.
Next 3 rows continue in K1, P1 rib as set in previous row.
Next row: Sl 1 st, K1 st, pass slipped st over K st (SSK). repeat across row.
Next row: P
Next row: K
Next row: P
Next row: K2tog across row
End off and pull remaining sts end. Sew side seam.
CO 20 sts very loosely.
Knit row 1 of hat
Follow pattern of hat (row 2) to desired length.
Bind off loosely.
Cat and Projects Update
Sometimes I wonder why I have cat hair all over everything and then I step back and look and what goes on at the house.
Chief with the Christmas letters

Anytime I start up a new project I get way too much help. Chief comes first. Checks things out and then settles in. Shortly after Bert appears and repeats the process. If the printer is involved Bert investigates that much more closely.

Bert gets in the act

Well - with all this help I still don't have Mom's Christmas cards quite finished. It's been tough writing a letter to her Christmas list to let anyone that was missed before know that Mom is no longer with us. But tough or not some things just need to be done with as much grace as possible.
Time to get back to knitting the scarf.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Knit one Give two

No knitting pictures but a knitting Christmas story - okay?

Back in one of my last knitting frenzies (I cycle through crafts every 3-5 years) I made presents for all the family. My cousins, aunts and uncles are all part of the Christmas day gathering and we used to swap gifts with everyone. I was poverty stricken as I had my own business and every penny went to the shop and not me. McDonald's was a big treat back then. Anyway- I made presents. I would use yarn from the shop but, as any shop owner can tell you, you still have to pay for that yarn. It's not magically free.

All of us know hand knit gifts are not cheap. There's the yarn, the pattern, the knitting needles, the time it takes to make the gift. All in all I actually spent more on the handmade gifts than if I just went out and bought something. Silly me, but I like giving of myself....

One year my one aunt got a throw pillow -cabled in ecru, I had to buy a pillow form besides all the above items. As she opened it she commented on how nice it was and a bit later in the evening mentioned how nice it was that I could make presents. Her kids weren't crafty and didn't have the time because they were teachers and didn't make much money so had problems getting presents- hinting that it was cheaper to make presents. Okay - at this point I took a deep breath and kind of nodded my head. BUT -

inside I was ranting and raving. Her poor poverty stricken teacher kids made more than I did. Worked less than I did (getting holidays and summers off) and paid less for their presents than I did without including my time! But I didn't say that out loud. I smiled. I made a mental note that I would buy presents (for her) from now on instead of making them and spend what her kids did. I have to add I like my aunt and I like my cousins and never held this incident against them. I just have a long memory and choose to make handcrafted gifts for people that realize the cost and time involved. People who see that handcrafted gifts are not just a way to give something cheaper.

Another aunt used to paint china. She was an artist with a plate and paint. I have several of her pieces and treasure them. She got it. Her plates were not cheap. The supplies, the kiln, the time and talent. WOW! When I gave her a handcrafted gift I knew she understood it wasn't to save money but to give extra of myself to her.

In the past several years the family quit swapping gifts. I said something to my friends about not having family to give gifts to anymore and they offered to accept anything I wanted to make. This year they'll get their wish. Last January I taught several of them how to knit (or at least tried!) Now that they have tried knitting on their own, the knowledge is there. They know it's a skill and talent and doesn't magically happen in a minute or two. They know how long it takes to make a small square much less how long it takes to make socks or gloves. They know the cost of yarn and that some yarns are better than others. Even if they never knit again my friends now know what I'm actually giving them with a knitted gift. I'm giving them my time and talent and my best wishes for them. Yup. they're ready for the knitted goodies they're getting this year and I'm excited to give them hats and gloves and socks and........

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa visits the family

This season must be bringing out the little kid in me. First I hunt up Andy's Gang and now I'm about to bore you with family Santa Claus stories. Next post will have some knitting (maybe)

Back when I was a kid Santa would come and visit every Christmas night before he headed back to the North Pole. Our entire family would get together for Christmas day - all the aunts, uncles, cousins and after the dishes were washed we kids would run from window to window watching for Santa. About 4pm we would hear a loud cow bell clanking outside and, yep, the front door would get a loud pounding knock as Santa let us know he had arrived.

We would all have to perform for him before he'd give out any presents. That is all of us except my youngest cousin. She was scared to death of Santa. Well, you can't blame her. See, Santa had a strange cloth-like face and that cow bell was really really loud. As time when on, Santa's face seemed to get a better look, less cloth-like - less scary and youngest cousin grew up enough to not be frightened.

When we got older Santa quit coming to visit for a while. Then my eldest cousin had a child and he started making return visits. One year when the girls (cousin's 2 kids) were starting to understand the "way of Santa". We knew it would be his last visit. As usual he came around the house, ringing the loud cow bell and sporting a fresh beard and no frightening cloth face. As he came in the house the little boy - Richard - from next door came running over to the house shouting with such excitement cause he saw Santa and there was nothing anyone could do except welcome Richard in and let him have his time with the jolly old guy. His thrill of the moment was so infectious that we all thoroughly enjoyed Santa's last visit to our family.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Plunk your magic twanger, Froggie

At times at work when I get silly I'll tell someone to plunk their magic twanger. I usually get stared at and discussions about my mental status follow. I finally found proof I'm not crazy (at least about this). Those of you that are part of the pre-Sesame Street generation may remember this. If not - enjoy seeing what kid's TV was like before Kermit.

Bags, Socks and MItts

As I've mentioned before Chief likes plastic. He lives for me throwing a bag on the floor to play with and chew on. Well, now he's started something new. He doesn't just play with them - he is now picking them up, carrying them places to sit on and protect. I'm not sure if this is "just because" or because I cleaned up all the extra bags when I was getting ready for Thanksgiving. Whatever the reason, he is being very careful to keep me away from the current bag which includes carrying it to the bathroom in the middle of the night to sit on.
"What!? It's my bag and you can't have it! - Chief

In knitting news, I finished the Eagle's Flight socks last week and finally got a pic of them. It's really hard to get a picture without showing massively white legs and scaring everyone. As I mentioned last post - I increased the stitches on the last row of the leg (I knit toe-up) so that the edge would not be too tight. This sock fits perfect.

For my birthday Christine gave me a kit to make Cat Bordhi's Flying Carpet Socks. They're made with Mountain Color Bearfoot- Mountain Tango colorway and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport Yarn- Tahoe colorway. They're made using techniques from the New Pathway for Sock Knitters book and are lots of fun. I have the first sock done but the pictures just don;'t show the cuff properly. Head to the link and you'll see a much better pic!

In other knitting news, I've been pining over the loss of one of my patterns. Back many, many years ago I got Elizabeth Zimmermann's Woolgathering with several mittens in it, including the mitten below. A garter stitch beauty that hugs the wrist, has a mitered thumb and just plain fits and feels great. I made tons of these including the one below that never quite got finished. Fast forward 20 years and I decide to make some more which was prompted by finding this guy when I moved and sorted out boxes of "stuff".

I found the pattern which included 3 mittens but the page with this mitten - missing! I looked, I cried, I emailed Schoolhouse press and got no answer. I put a message up on the EZ group in Ravelry- everyone was interested but no one had the pattern. I've counted stitches on this one and come up with what I think will be close but - there's some special fitting to the mitten and I can't quite see how I did things.
If anyone has this pattern I'd love to hear. I believe it's Woolgathering #6 - Mittful of Mittens. The other 2 patterns include the Norwegian mitten. It's one of the WG that were 8.5x14 paper folded in half.
In the meantime - Chief has decided his plastic bag is safe and decided to join me at the recliner.
Bert? - he's running around jumping on things right now. Oh to be young and energetic!