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Ms. Knits: May 2005

Tuesday, May 31

My short break - too short!

Wow - the week and a half I've had off between spring semester and summer semester went by really quickly! Unfortunately I don't have much knitting progress to show for it. I've been plugging away at the lace shawl, and am now on repeat 12 of 13 before knitting the border. The repeats are going really slowly now that I'm up to over 400 stitches per round. No pictures until it is done, because it looks like a giant pink jellyfish blob right now!

The three day weekend was fairly uneventful. I did some random chores & errands, did some knitting, and took a few naps. Ah, naps! I'd function so much better if I could take a 30 minute nap every day!

On Sunday night my left index finger had a brief run in with the kitchen shears. Ouch! The very tip of my finger got cut pretty badly (not badly enough that I had to go to the ER, thankfully!), and I'll probably have to keep it bandaged for a week or two. I tried knitting with my finger bandaged, and was able to do it, but very slowly. I didn't realize that I pretty much rely on my left index finger to help slide the stitches to the tip of my left needle. I can use my middle finger to do the same thing, but my hand cramps up pretty quickly that way. So, not a lot of knitting will get done for a while. Bummer too, since now most of my evenings are free and I will have all weekend to knit this weekend as DH will be out of town on business. I'm not giving up yet though - maybe I will figure out some way to make it work. Typing is not much fun now either!

Today was my first day back at school. I'm taking two classes this summer, a patent prosecution class on Tuesday night and an international IP treaties/copyright class on Wednesday night. The patent prosecution class should be really easy, since that's what I do every day at work. Maybe I'll even pick up some practical practice tips - wouldn't that be nice! I'm not so sure about the international copyright class... that's definitely something I know nothing about, but might be interesting anyway. I have 20 more pages to read tonight, so I should probably get to it!

Secret Pal 5 Survey

I've been having such a great time with the KR SP3 program that I thought I'd sign up for SP5 for a summertime secret pal. I haven't been assigned my pal yet, but since it's the end of the month, here's my survey...

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you? I prefer natural fibers - wool, alpaca, cashmere, cotton, and blends of these fibers are wonderful. I also like soft yarns that feel nice when I knit them up. I wouldn't say that I'm a yarn snob though... I learned to knit with Lion Brand Homespun (back when I thought that Michael's qualified as a "yarn store"!), but it's definitely not at the top of my list anymore!

2. Do you spin? Crochet? Spin, no, but it sounds interesting. Crochet, just enough to get me by.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.) No allergies, but I don't care for the smell of smoke.

4. How long have you been knitting? Just over a year.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, a general Amazon wishlist with some knitting items and a lot of miscellaneous stuff. I can e-mail it to my pal if she wants.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Vanilla, fresh, fruity scents.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Oh yeah - chocolate, baby!

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? I've been known to sew, cross-stitch, and scrapbook in the past, but right now I'm focusing on knitting.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I mostly listen to top 40/rock (Maroon 5, Matchbox 20, John Mayer, etc), but also enjoy jazz (Dave Koz, Chris Botti, Miles Davis). MP3s are good - I can put them on my computer and iPod!

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? I like pretty much all colors. I've been on a pink kick lately, and a lot of my clothes are red. There are really no colors that I strongly dislike.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? Married, no kids, two crazy miniature schnauzers.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know) Finish law school in December and pass the bar exam next February. That's not exactly a life dream, but it is 100% my focus right now.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? I haven't knit with that many yarns in the short time I've been knitting. So far, my favorites are Manos & Cascade 220. There are a ton of yarns that I've been dying to try... Rowan yarns, and Debbie Bliss yarns especially. Oh, and can't forget Koigu - I'm dying to try Koigu! So far I seem to like anything soft. I'm really not picky!

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I'm not a big fan of most novelty yarns.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? My IK Paisley lace shawl!

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? So far I like most everything that I've tried... felted bags, socks, lace. I think I need more experience before I decide on a favorite!

17. What are you knitting right now? A lace shawl, a baby blanket, and a seed stitch shell.

18. What do you think about ponchos? Not a fan. It's just not my style - I think I would look ridiculous wearing one!

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Circular for almost everything, DPNs for socks.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Bamboo dpns for socks, Addi Turbos for most everything else. I'd like to try some rosewood needles sometime too.

21. Are you a sock knitter? Yes, if having knit 1 pair (and enjoying it) makes me a sock knitter!

22. How did you learn to knit? My mother-in-law showed me the basics, and the rest I've picked up from reading books.

23. How old is your oldest UFO? About a month and a half... my VK seed stitch shell.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird? No favorite animated characters. My favorite animals are my dogs - they totally crack me up!

25. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

26. Is there anything that you collect? No, unless you count my growing collection of law school casebooks. Oh, and yarn. :)

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? VK, considering an IK subscription.

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on? None that I can think of... but I'm always looking for a good novel. Finding the time to read it is another story!

Wednesday, May 25

Q&A time...

Stephanie left me some great interview questions... here are my answers:

1. What do you most like about law school? What do you like least?

Surprisingly, I've never really thought about this before. For me, law school is a means to an end - I have to get through it in order to have the job that I want (patent attorney) at the company where I work. There aren't a whole lot of things I like about law school itself. Sometimes the classes are interesting, but I think the thing I like most is the other part-time students. We've all become fairly close over the last three years, and I've made some wonderful friends in school. What do I like least? Where to start… I don't like that it turns me (usually a perfectly logical, rational person) into an emotional raving lunatic twice a year during finals. I don't like that school is so far from home (135 miles, a 2-4 hour drive depending on traffic) and that I am away from my husband, dogs, and home 4-5 days every week. I don't like that 95% of what I've learned in law school will never be used again after I take the bar exam. I could probably go on for a while, but will restrain myself and end there. Even though there are a lot of things I dislike about law school, I'm very excited about the career I will have after I'm done with school and am happy with my decision to go to law school.

2. How did you meet your husband (I'm a sucker for stories like this)?

We were introduced through a mutual friend when we both lived in the Denver area (I was in my last year of undergrad, and he was working full time). We e-mailed and talked on the phone for a week or two before we met in person for our first date. I was in the midst of a busy semester at school at the time, and wasn't all that interested in dating anyone. Luckily for me, he was persistent (very!) in his pursuit, and after my crazy semester was over we were practically inseperable. We got engaged in December 1998 (just over a year after we met), and were married in June 2000.

3. What type of knitting project do you most enjoy?

I especially like projects that teach me something new or projects that challenge me. (socks, felting, lace…)

4. If you could give a new knitter one piece of advise, what would it be?

Don't be a slave to "beginner" patterns - try projects that will teach you new skills even if it looks like something you think you can't do. When I started knitting, I was extremely concerned with a pattern's rating, and was scared to attempt anything but the simplest beginner-rated patterns. I can't count the number of garter stitch scarves that I made. I really didn't start to enjoy knitting until I attempted some more complicated patterns. Once you know the basics (knit/purl/cast on/bind off), you can really knit anything with the help of a good reference book and the internet.

5. What is your all-time favorite project and why?

My felted sheepless sheep tote- I loved this project for so many reasons. It was the first non-scarf project that I completed, and I learned a lot while knitting it - picking up stitches, knitting in the round, yarn overs, dropping stitches (on purpose - scary!) and picking them up two at a time with a crochet hook, icord, and felting. I also loved the yarn - Cascade 220 is fabulous to knit with and felts beautifully with no fuzzies. Finally, I use the bag all the time. It usually carries my current WIP project around the house and on short trips (guild meetings, doctor's office, etc). I will be making another one eventually.

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Let me know if you'd like to be interviewed... Here are the interview rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me;"
2. I will respond by asking you 5 questions on my blog. They will be different questions than the ones above;
3. You will update your blog with the answers;
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else;
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them 5 questions.

Thursday, May 19

Paisley Lace Shawl (and a lesson in fixing missed yarn-overs)

As promised, here are pictures of the IK Paisley Lace Shawl. I'm knitting this with Frog Tree Alpaca, in color #95 on US5 Addi Turbos. I really like the Frog Tree alpaca - it is so soft and fun to knit! I'm planning to wear this shawl to my brother's wedding in July.

The circular shawl blob - you can't see much of the pattern here...


Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern. I think that the pattern will look great after blocking.


The lace pattern is really easy, and it has been a quick knit so far. I am on repeat 8 of 13 now, but the going is slower each round because of the increases. I've found that I really enjoy knitting lace - I think because I'm mathematically minded and I like understanding how varying the number/type of stitches creates patterns.

The pattern is essentially rows of knit, K2tog, and YO stitches alternating with full rows of purl stitches. I've found that when I get in a groove, I sometimes miss a yarn-over after a K2tog, and won't realize it until I knit a full round and get to the point in the purl row where the yarn over should be. This is a problem, because the yarn-overs create the holes in the lace pattern and a missing YO equals a missing hole. (and it also messes up the stitch count!) At first, I would frog a whole row to get back to the place where I missed the yarn over, add the YO, and re-knit. That worked fine until my rows started getting longer, and I was tired of frogging and reknitting. Then I decided to take a look at the knitting to see if I could somehow fix the missing yarn-over without frogging. I ended up figuring out a way to do it! I was totally excited when I figured this out. It is probably nothing new for most lace knitters. Here's what I learned:

This is what yarn-overs normally look like in this pattern. You can see that the lace holes are formed where the YOs are placed.


Here's what happens when I start knitting too quickly and forget a YO. I never find this until one row later...


To fix the missing YO, you have to find the yarn that is lying horizontal between the stitches:


Pick the yarn up as shown. This is just like a M1.


...and place it on the left needle:


Hey, look! A YO!


Now, purl (or knit) the newly formed YO...


And, voila! Lace! No frogging required!


This will only work if you catch the missing YO on the row after the mistake is made.

I hope that was helpful, or at least interesting to you. I'm not an expert at the whole knitting thing yet, but one of the things I like about blogs is seeing how others do things and solve problems. So I thought I would share this in an effort to contribute something meaningful to the knitblog community.

Tuesday, May 17

It's over!

Finished my last final of the semester tonight... boy does it feel good to be done! 3 years down, 1 semester (plus summer school) to go! Woohoo! Unfortunately I don't have much downtime before summer classes start... only a week and a half, and during that time I expect to be extremely busy at work. And we have family visiting from out of town this weekend, so I really won't be able to get a lot done at home during my brief break. There's so much I want to do... knit (finish the 4 projects that I've started!), organize the house (closets mostly), more gardening, find stylish/functional/quality furniture for our home office (does such a thing exist?), paint the master bedroom and the dining room (must pick colors first), pick out fabric for window treatments and window seat cushions - the list never ends. Realistically, most everything I want to do won't get done until next year sometime. Law school is really putting a damper on my life.

Many thanks to those of you who left me encouraging comments and words of support during these last few stressful weeks. It is so nice to have "met" such a kind and supportive group of people!

Monday, May 16

Weekend update

The weekend went by way too fast! I can't believe it is Monday already.

On Friday afternoon, Todd came to pick me up at the airport, and he had flowers. For me! And I didn't even ask for them. What a great husband!

Then, we got home, and I had a card and a package waiting for me from my secret pal. I tore into the package and found this inside:


WOW! A beautiful tapestry tote for my knitting, a pattern book with some cute tank patterns (and lots more), knit wash, AND two skeins of Moda Dea sock yarn! I was so excited after I opened the box that I immediately sent off a thank you e-mail to my secret pal. She replied back, and mentioned that I should look in the front pocket of the bag too... it never occurred to me that there could be more goodies! So, I checked the front pocket and found this:

An adorable sheep ornament, hand balm (smells yummy), and a Godiva chocolate bar. Mmmmm... chocolate. Thanks, Secret Pal, for everything!

I transferred my projects from my ratty old company logo canvas tote into my fabulous new tapestry tote.


The blue project is my baby blanket, and the pink is my lace shawl. More on those later this week (must get through exams first!). I was so excited that both projects fit in the tote with lots of room to spare. Woohoo!

Saturday was spent going to nurseries, buying plants, and playing in the dirt. Here's a before picture from two weeks ago of my dogs laying in front of part of my flower garden border. A bunch of the plants in the border didn't survive the winter, so we replanted quite a few things, and also planted another garden in an area that was completely bare. Unfortunately I don't have any after pictures... I'll have to post those next weekend.


Sunday I spent the afternoon at a baby shower for a friend (oops... didn't get the blanket finished in time... luckily she was thrilled to receive a swatch for baby's scrapbook!). The shower was nice, but would have been better if the people who attended had left their children at home with dad or a sitter. It was so frustrating trying to visit with my friends while their kids were constantly screaming for attention. The kids really distracted everyone from the guest of honor, who has a limited number of childless days left herself! Has anyone else noticed a disturbing trend toward parents who insist on bringing their children everywhere with them, even when it is inappropriate? I'm not sure how to bring this up to my friends, considering I don't have kids and nearly all of them do. Maybe there's something about having kids that I don't understand, or won't be able to understand unless I experience it myself. Thoughts?

Knitters gone wild!

Spotted in the Sacramento Bee this morning:

"This is a cautionary tale of a craft gone too far. Frances Trotter, a resident "fiber artist" at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, led a team of volunteer knitters recently in creating a car cozy for a Volkswagen Bug. It took about seven miles of yarn and fake fur accents."

Link to full article: The hit list: At her knit's end (registration may be required to view)

There was a picture in the newspaper, but doesn't seem to be one with the online article. Here's a link to a picture of the car. (in case you can't tell from the tiny picture, it is essentially a knit patchwork VW bug-shaped quilt, all made from the same yarn)

I cracked up when I saw this, and had to point it out to Todd. The first words out of his mouth: "Couldn't they at least match up the patterns when they sewed it together?" I'm so proud of his keen eye for knit details! Now if only I could get him to acknowledge that he wants to learn to knit... :)

Thursday, May 12

I got nothin'...

I'm not sure why, but I'm in a foul mood tonight. I finished my 3rd of 4 exams this afternoon, and went to have a couple of margaritas after the exam with a classmate. I should be in a much better mood, because the majority of my misery is now over, my exams have gone well, AND I just had two fabulous margaritas, but I'm completely cranky. I had planned to post pictures of my shawl, and a knitting tip (yes, a tip, from me!), but I'm just not up to it. Maybe later tonight or before I head to work in the morning. I am SO looking forward to going home tomorrow after work. I completely live for Fridays! Hope you have a great weekend!

PS. I promise this will eventually get back to being a knitting blog! :)

Sunday, May 8

Misery

What can I say... I haven't touched my knitting since last Tuesday. I *so* want to knit, but if I even touch it, I won't put it down for hours, and I just can't do that right now. I haven't even had a chance to take a picture of the progress on my lace shawl, which was coming right along up until I started seriously hitting the books last week. On Thursday night I will post a picture of it, along with a neat trick I figured out for fixing missed yarn-overs when knitting simple lace patterns (no ripping required!).

I decided not to start on the front of the seed stitch shell until after finals are over. I needed a break from the endless seed stitch. I really would like to learn to knit continental so that knit/purl transitions aren't as tedious. Seed stitch and ribbing take forever for me to knit.

My weekend was not much fun. I had a final on Saturday morning (yes, that's right, Saturday morning), then took a short break on Saturday afternoon to go to the gym and do some shopping, then it was back to the books for the rest of the weekend. Ugh. One exam down, three to go. I'll be a happy girl on the 17th, when I'm done with exams! Then I get a whole week and a half off from school before summer classes start. The fun never ends!

Wednesday, May 4

Procrasti-knitting

What a day! I need want to sit and knit for a while... but have so much to do for both work and school. So, I'll blog instead! So much for self discipline.

Per Lynette's request, here are some pictures of the knitting journal and cards I made at the workshop on Saturday.

The knit-covered journal: (I'm sending this off to my mother-in-law for a mother's day gift - she's the one who taught me to knit, and her favorite color is blue. I hope she likes it!)


Close-up of whip stitch to binding:


Inside cover: (the knit fabric is hot glued to the inside of the cover, and a piece of thick paper is cut to fit and glued over the fabric to make it look pretty - I was a bit messy with the glue gun!)


Knit themed gift cards:


I love the idea of using golf tees as knitting needles and using a swatch as a decorative element! I'll be using this idea again!

I *finally* finished the crazy colored socks. They turned out really well, if you don't mind the weird color pooling.



I'm very happy with them, considering they were my first pair of socks. I wish that the ladder pattern on the cuff showed up better, but the varigated yarn overwhelms the stitches. These are now in the mail to my mom for her mother's day gift. She couldn't believe it when I told her I knew how to knit socks, and will be surprised when she gets these. I think she'll love the bright colors.

Now back to work. And studying. And, maybe, if I'm lucky, later I will get in a few procrastiknitting rounds on the paisley lace shawl. I'll post pictures of my progress on that soon...