Friday, December 22

Quick, before I wrap 'em

I finally did take a picture of my finished coasters for Mr Mike. Here they are with the cute tea pot I got with my Birthday money from Dad. Bobby gave me a nice Chinese style cup to go with it from the international market. A fine tableau if I do say so myself. I gave them to him last night and he seemed pleased - yet rather embarrassed by the attention. I had added two coasters from another knitter who needed a box and made sure he knew that. Holly Anne brought in several from others in the group. He opened it in private and thanked me later.

Why hasn't anyone told me how hard it is to part with the stuff I make? I've been knitting all these gifts and gosh darn it, I want to keep 'em around for awhile and admire them. You know, pat myself on my widdle back. It's not that they're so fantastic or intricate, but I'm not a fast knitter. I sweat over these things.( okay, wipe that from your visual banks right now) I've been such a casual knitter until the last six weeks or so and have turned out so much nice stuff, I want someone to notice. Well, besides my husband who thinks I'm amazing and sings "My wife can knit a thing" and makes me grin every night. Oh, and my "support group" on Thursday nights at K1P2. They've only seen me knit straight stockinette or garter (due to the the distraction factor) and seem truly impressed with what I can accomplish at home now. Or gee, lots of people who see me carrying my projects around in their clear vinyl bags want to see what I'm working on and comment they could never do something that hard. Oh, and my cousin Laurie who promises to take a picture of her baby next Halloween in my "pumpkin hat". Hmmm . . . guess I'm not so praise deprived after all. Think of all the ooohs and ahhhs when folks open their gifts this year. I bet there will even be a few disappointed mumbles of "Where's mine?"

Better start wrapping.

Sunday, December 10


So. We're watching the Ravens game and I'm discovering what women all over the country should know. Knitting was made for football. Don't get me wrong, I love the Ravens (and the Orioles) but I found myself reading the mail, playing on the computer etc... until knitting. Knitting keeps me there by my husband's side, enjoying the game, commenting on the plays... you get it. But today I started a new project for Mr Mike, the owner of the shop where I knit on Thursdays. I have to turn the piece around and "knit backwards" so to speak every few stitches. It was intense for about 30 minutes 'till I got the hang of it. Suddenly Bobby starts yelling "TOPPING!", TOPPING!", "TOPPING!". I turned to look at him with eyes full of love, ready to care for him at the booby hatch. "What are you talking about?" sez I. "Touchdown!" he says gleefully, pointing at the screen. ::blink blink:: I was still clueless and clutched my knitting for comfort. "Pepperoni!" was next, and the light bulb began to flicker. There on the screen, the Ravens were celebrating a touchdown.

And so it went. A free topping
on our pizza from Papa John's for every touchdown on Monday. Double if we win. We live in that in-between land between Baltimore and Washington. Thus, Papa John's offers their deal to both the Ravens and Redskins fans in our area. Ahhhhhh... life is good. And Monday? Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushroom and Olives.

Thanks Ravens.

::Back to our regularly scheduled blog::

I realized Thursday that I needed four coasters for our host on Thursdays. I had already felted one for him, and made another, but when I saw someone else's perfectly matched set . . . I needed to get busy. I may still decide to give him the mismatched assortment. After all, there will be lots (I hope) of different styles and colors from K1P2. I wanted to be unique. This pattern was on Dishcloth Boutique and I bookmarked it way back when we first decided on coasters for our gift. I was intimidated, but still hopeful. Since my recent triumphs in dpn, felting, Fair Isle and Cables (to name a few) I felt emboldened. I got out the cotton that my husband brought home to me one day when I was feeling low. I cast on 8 stitches.

I gotta admit, the pattern really frightened me when halfway across a row it said

turn (leaving 4 unworked stitches on left needle)

But I blindly followed the superior knowledge of Ms.Tejada and paying no heed to the roars and grunts on the screen, I had my first of 16 teardrop spokes. After sufficient praise from the husband (and the Pepperoni incident) I struggled to duplicate this feat. Something about starting on the wrong side threw me. But I am(Ahem!)a methodical knitter.

I tinked it back to the first teardrop and began the second again.
Every time I finished a new spoke it . . .it . . . it looked just like the picture! I had to get the camera before I went any further.

Saturday, December 9

Itchy Fingers

So. We went to see our friends John and Spencer in their annual holiday extravaganza Hack and Slash Christmas Special, the Musical! at The Chesapeake Art Center. When you know someones show by heart, you forget they have other outlets for their creativity. Ginny (who remembers when I stood at the back of her shows while she danced, pointing to my grin to remind her to smile and not look down at her feet) produced a professional show. It was lovely to see Duncan and Louie from The London Broil too. To think I knew them when they were fledgelings and not even touring. Geeze, they were probably in their teens back when they were just street characters at The Maryland Renaissance Festival. Hey Nunnie Nunnie were there from Canada too. Though we never performed together, I remember speaking to them their first year at Ontario - saying it, you've got the audience even if you repeat the same show 4 times a day at first 2. record, it's where the money is and 3. do other fairs if you can. (Geez. I guess they heard me? 'Course I'm sure I wasn't the influence I think I was. Still it's nice to know I can recognize talent.) I wish I had gotten down front after the show to say hi to everyone after the show, but it was a MOB scene of pajama clad fans.

Now to my point. I'm sitting there spotting a few old friends and fellow performers in the audience before the show right? Talking with Bobby about this and that. Out of the blue my mouth opens and out comes "I wish I had my knitting". Now I was in no way bored or had much time mind you. But my sweet husband turns to me and says "You want me to go out and get it? You've got some in the car."

I love him.

Friday, December 8

Jingle Bells

So. Last night I actually finished an object in front of witnesses. I was working on nice even stitches for the second scarf from the skein of Homespun and I was on a roll. The color is supposed to be "sandstone" but it has flecks of blue in it, very handsome stuff. Kevin is a real macho kinda guy. Binding off looked hopeful, but I know how I am about knitting and talking and paying attention. I settled into one of the comfy chairs and tried to get ahead before too many knitters came pouring in. Sheila came and it was just the two of us for a good while. She showed me her nifty portable ball winder she got at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. [zombie voice - Must. Have. Ball. Winder.] I was doing a little self taught thing with a figure eight. It turns into a ball with a center pull. However, for a lot of tangled yarn or miles of frogging like she did last night, this little stick thing was freaking amazing. Besides, I do like a gadget now and then. Hmmmmm . . . maybe Dad could make me one. I don't know if he has the wood turning capabilities, but if he can make a dowel with a hollow core . . .

We had our usual lovely evening and then, with much fanfare, I finished the second scarf. This is indeed an accomplishment for me. I don't just pop these things out like my Grandmother popped out babies (no disrespect meant here, but she had thirteen kids, only my Grandad to help and they only got a midwife for Uncle Carl 'cause he was breach) My labor is not painful, just obnoxiously long to produce one perfect . . . thing. But just like the first scarf from this skein, there is some color variation in one area. It looks like a shadow, or some coffee spilled on it. In this picture, the cast on end is on the left and cast off on the right. I figure it gives it character and uniqueness. Something to be studied and admired. Certainly people will say:

How did she get the yarn to DO that?
and Doesn't the light do nice things with that yarn?
and His Aunt must really love him to make such a fascinating piece.

I put it in a box.

Thursday, December 7

My Punkin Hat

I thought I would take some pictures of my other Stitches East project yesterday. I'm so proud of the way it turned out. The class was my first using dpn and a bit of a struggle at first 'cause it was a hat knit top down - beginning with I-cord. That was another first for me. Such close work first thing in the morning? By plunging in, and with the calm reassurance of our instructor, it began to take shape. Slowly. Verrrrry slowly. Then ooooh aaaah, the increases made such a pretty swirl on the top. The other hats I've made were all bottoms up and the only said "decrease 1" so I knit 2 together. God bless beginner patterns! Since I am a methodical (read slooow) knitter, my Stitches hat ended up in miniature as I started each step when she began them, except the cables. I was in the middle of changing colors and couldn't keep up. No biggie I told her, I learned so many things - I was content with all the new skills I DID learn.

About two weeks ago I had frogged it back to the color change. With the help of a book I bought at the Marketplace there at Stitches and listening with one ear while I was still changing colors, I made some rather impressive cables for a beginner (applause gratefully accepted). I did goof a bit at first when I mis-read the pattern, but it was late at night. With fresh eyes, brain and hands though it was a different ball of wax (errr. . . yarn). I may look for a different cable needle though. Mine seemed a bit short.

Then it was on to the Fair Isle, another section I sort of missed. This one I did a short piece of on a new swatch first. It wasn't that tough though, and switching to the the other color was okay. Until that needle change. Arrrgggghhhhh! I still am not happy with doing that. I think I changed my fingers each time I turned a corner. I just couldn't get a flow for that "slide one needle out -reposition hands - rewrap yarn and insert". But it did turn out nice and even. The raised row of K1P1 before and after it obscure it a bit which I would change were I to use the pattern again. Perhaps two rows of diamonds or another row of straight knitting above and below would keep the Fair Isle from being obscured.

After a quick rolled brim, I was finished the little hat as written. It's amazing! So many new things in one project yet they seem to go together. I thought of donating my hat for chemo - there are some pretty little kids with cancer. But from what I understand wool is uncomfortable for them. This Saturday I have a family breakfast up in Baltimore County. We gather once a month at a buffet place. There are usually 30 or so relatives but December always draws a few more. I hear we have a new baby less than a year old. (Tammy is a grandmother??? I used to babysit her.) It'll be cool to make a gift for someone not expecting it.

Right now, I'm busy making Christmas scarves. I already gave one to my nephew Thomas who was visiting from California. He was freezing the day he got here, so I gave him his present early the next day. I made it long so he could double it and do that loop thing in the front. He was most impressed with my knitting prowess, even if it was a simple garter stitch.

And now a note about my blog. Editing those pictures so they appear where I want them is a bear. Appreciate them.

::note to self - learn to make linked pictures not so freaking HUGE::

Wednesday, December 6

The Felt and I

See, I started this oven mitt as a project in one of my Stitches East classes. Since I'm a sloooow knitter, I made a miniature and just recently completed the full-sized project. I learned how to use dpn, create a gusset for the thumb while using two stitch markers, transfer to a stitch holder, increase and decrease for mirrored slants, bind off with three needles, pick up stitches and finally (drumroll please) FELT.

  • Before 12.5 x 9.5 inches
  • After 9.75 x 6.75 inches

My secret to success?? I turned up the hot water tank 30 minutes prior and ran the tap at the sink in the bathroom past the washer to bring the hottest water to the load. I used a zippered pillow case, two shoes and a pair of Bobby's jeans with some Tide and Oxyclean. I kept the water level low. I heard from everyone how you had to wash several times so I automatically washed twice before checking. If anything, I believe I should have washed only once with my secret (shhhhhh!) method ‘cause the oven mitt is too small to give to my husband now. Oh well, next time it's once and done. It was even a little over felted and required a bit of separating. I used a big 'ol 15 wooden needle and scraped along the inside of the matted fold with the point. Sometimes I slid the point under the stretched fibers and worked them free.

With the left over yarn, I made a cute coaster based on a pattern from Frugal Knitting Haus which recycles an old CD. The original pattern wasn't intended for felting and uses plain worsted weight yarn while I used Lambs Pride bulky, but I thought the modification would work. Oh I am a clever girl. I need to email them with my results.

  • Prefelting 5.5"
  • Postfelting 4.75"

It looks like a snowflake and lays nice and flat. I took both projects to show off at K1P2 on Thursday and got many oohs and aahs. I also picked up a cute little sweater shaver this weekend to trim some of the fuzz - especially for the oven mitt which had been frogged and re-knit. I am a genius, it tamed those Albert Einstein eyebrows in no time!

I now feel I can put the felting notch in my knitting belt. What's next? I wonders does I.