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Ms. Knits: August 2005

Monday, August 29

Decorating Madness (or, just plain madness)

Once again, my weekend was filled with non-knitting adventures. At 9pm on Friday, I decided that one wall in the dining room needed to be painted. A different color than beige. Maybe green or red. Immediately. And since Friday night is the best time to go to Lowe's (really, it is - there's no one there!), we headed out to get some paint chips. 30 minutes and three dozen or so paint chips later, we were home choosing a color for the wall. 45 minutes later, I was back at Lowe's picking up a quart of paint to test on the wall. I painted a big dark green (Amazon Silt, actually) blob on the wall before going to bed. Amazon Silt was not the right color for the wall - it looked weird in anything but natural daylight. More sorting through paint chips on Saturday morning... off to buy another quart of paint, this time in Olive 5... more painting - green blob #2. While blob #2 dried, I went to an eye doctor appointment and decided to stop at the home fabric store on my way back - just to make sure that fabrics exist that will coordinate with one of the two green paint blobs on my wall. Three hours later, I'm still at the fabric store... there are NO fabrics that go well with the green (sorry, that's a lie... there are plenty of very ugly fabrics that will go with the green), but LOTS of pretty ones that go with various shades of red... Hmmm... I can't paint the wall green if there are no pretty green fabrics that go well with my other furniture. Guess we're going to go with red! But what shade of red? The fabric store lady recommended buying my fabric first and pick out a paint color later. Unfortunately fabric will take a long time to order and will cost $$$, and paint is quick & easy. For now, I'm stuck with a partly beige wall and two big ugly unmatching green blobs right behind my dining room table. Nice. Now I have to figure out what to do... repaint that same exciting beige color over the green blobs, or order an upholstered window seat cushion, curtain panels, and 5 or 6 throw pillows. Stay tuned...

On Saturday afternoon, I received my final package from my SP5 Secret Pal. Gabrielle was my pal, and she did a great job of spoiling me. As it turns out, Gabrielle is a student too, and she's also in her last semester of school - yay! Unfortunately I have no pictures (yes, I've been a slacker in the photo department lately), but she sent me a wonderful package of goodies. I got my first ever pretty stitch markers - usually I use the plain Clover brand pink & blue plastic ones. I can't wait to use the ones that she made me. They are a beautiful purple color, and there's a special dangly one to mark the beginning of the row. I can't wait to use them! She also included a pretty pink sparkly necklace and some tasty chocolates. And my favorite part of the package was the yarn... three (3!!!!) balls of Rowan Calmer in Drift (#460, a beautiful soft off-white color) in a pretty gold bag. My very first Rowan! How exciting! Thanks Gabrielle!

Now the dilemma... what to knit with the 3 balls of Calmer? I've been coveting Audrey for a while, but that would require 4 more balls of yarn, and I'm not sure that Drift is the right color for my Audrey. Plus, I've already got 2 sweaters in the queue (if I ever get my yarn... but that's a post for another day). I'm thinking a shrug might be the perfect project for this yarn - perhaps the Mia shrug?

Sunday was another fun-filled day. I gave up on the dining room on Saturday, and didn't want to think about it on Sunday, so we went to the state fair. The fair was fun, but would have been better if it weren't so darn hot outside. We saw a bunch of neat exhibits, including a few knitted items. I was surprised there weren't more knit things, and more crafty things in general. There was only one small building with quilts, knit & crochet, sewing, needlepoint, and other fiber/fabric arts displayed.

My favorite part of the fair is always the farm animals, and this year was no exception. I love seeing all of the animals, and could spend hours wandering the barns. This year, we saw goats (and baby goats!), cows and calves (one that was less than an hour old!), sheep and lambs, horses, pigs, and piglets. It made me want to move back to a farm so I can have my own animals. Someday...

Monday, August 22

Not much knitting

Now that I'm back in school (have I mentioned yet that it is my last semester?!!!), I'm once again struggling to find time to knit. I'm still chugging away on stripey sock #2, with no exciting progress to report... imagine sock #1, knit up to the heel flap (sorry, that will have to do... no camera this week).

Saturday, I woke up, did my 3 mile jog/walk, and spent what seemed like forever reading my assignments for next week. I really despise that all of my professors this semester call on people randomly. I feel like I need to memorize the most minute and insignificant details of each case that I read so I won't look like an idiot in class. After studying (and taking a nap), Todd and I decided to go to a movie. We ended up seeing The 40 Year Old Virgin after debating between that and March of the Penguins. I was very wary about going to see it, but it was surprisingly funny. There were definitely some parts of the movie that were a little over the top, but it ended up being better (and funnier) than I expected.

On Sunday, I ran in the morning again, and then we headed to Marin to visit family. I got in a couple of hours of knitting on the sock during the drive. While we were there, my sister-in-law's neighbor was having a purse party... you know, where they sell knock-offs of name brand purses. I managed to find two really cute purses there. I feel a little weird having bought a "fake" purse though. Supposedly there is nothing illegal about it (at least that's what the little placard on the table said), but it doesn't seem quite right. I'm not the type to spend $800+ on a purse, and I really don't care what logo is on it - I just thought that the purses were really cute, and decent quality for about the same price as a department store's off-brand leather purse. Oh well, at least I got two cute purses!

Saturday, August 20

Fit to Knit is here!

FYI - I've launched the Fit to Knit blog. If you're interested in joining the group, please read this post, and send me an e-mail at cyndilu2 at gmail dotcom. (leaving a note in the comments won't work... I can't respond to my Blogger comments unless I have your e-mail address)

Wednesday, August 17

Fall sweaters

It seems to be the time of year when everyone is finishing up their summer knitting (socks, lace) and picking out fall projects. I'm no exception. My fall knitting list is very short - there are only two must knit projects, both for me... Frieda from Debbie Bliss's Alpaca Silk book, and the Rebecca Embroidered Yoke sweater, which is a FREE (!!!) pattern from the latest issue of Rebecca. [BIG thanks to Stephanie for finding the pattern!]

Both of these sweaters have been on my mind since March, but I wanted to wait until fall to knit them. Now that it is time to start, I have both patterns, but no yarn... and it appears I will not have yarn anytime soon. I've ordered the yarn for Frieda, but apparently there is a shortage of pink Alpaca Silk, and I'm not sure when I'll get it. And I can't find the yarn for the Rebecca sweater anywhere... the pattern calls for GGH Davos, which I want to use. But apparently there are no yarn stores in CA that carry Davos. And I've only found it online in one place. Has anyone used Davos before? Where do you buy it? Should I try to find a substitute?

Thanks everyone for your encouragement on my running program! I went for my second run (well, jog/walk!) tonight, and it was great. Tonight on my run I was thinking about those of you who've expressed an interest in starting your own running program... what would you think about starting a knitting runner's group blog - sort of like a knit along? Blogger makes it really easy to post to a group blog, and it would be a great way for all of us to track our progress and encourage each other. We could call it "Fit to Knit" or something equally cheesy. :) Let me know what you think.

Finally, to Angela who left me a comment - I can't e-mail you because Blogger doesn't let me respond to comments by e-mail. (grrr!) Are you the Angela I met at SnB at the Naked Lounge in July (when I was knitting Tivoli)? Just checking!

Off to read my assignments for class tomorrow... bleh.

Monday, August 15

A new project

Today I started a new project of sorts. I began a running program.

I've never been terribly athletic, but I decided to try running about two years ago. After a few months of running consistently, I worked my way up to a 5k. I was thrilled that I could actually run that far, and was in fairly good shape because of it. Then life got in the way, and I stopped running and working out in general. I've been feeling a little down about myself lately (how do my clothes continue to shrink while just hanging in the closet?), so I decided that the best solution would be to start running again. So, today was the day. After work I went to my favorite park trail and started my training. And it felt really good! There's something about running outside that really clears my head.

This isn't going to turn into a running blog by any means, but I do plan to post updates here occassionally, mostly just to keep myself honest and accountable.

Nothing new on the knitting front - just a few more rows of the sock. And guess what? looks the same as the first sock!

Sunday, August 14

"Well, if your foot was more like the Wicked Witch of the West's foot..."

"...or, maybe if you had one great big pointy middle toe. But seriously, isn't there some way you can make the toe look less pointy? What if you ended it a few rows earlier?"

That's what Todd said after analyzing my completed stripey sock. And I have to say, I agree with him. I'm not a huge fan of the toe on this sock, and I even ended the toe with more stitches on my needles than most patterns recommend. Is this the way all top-down sock toes look?

It looks a lot better from the side.

And it actually fits my non-pointy foot. Overall I'm really happy with this sock. I started the second sock on Saturday, while knitting with Lynette, Lori, Violet, and Kaedean at FrogPond. I haven't made much progress on the second sock yet, I was too worried about getting the stripes to match up exactly. I think that Lynette & Lori thought I was crazy for casting on twice to make sure I had the same amount of tan in the top stripes of both socks, but I had to do it. I am such a perfectionist when it comes to my knitting. (and guess what Todd said when I showed him the second sock that I started... "are you sure the stripes going to match?" How funny! We think so much alike!)

While knitting, Lori told us about a sale at another local knitting store - 40% off all yarn! It's not a store I've shopped at for a while (the selection there is always iffy), but it is only a few blocks away from my house, so I stopped by on my way home from FrogPond to check out the sale. Guess what I found? A single skein of Celtic Green Cascade 220! Just what I needed to finish Sophie:

Here's a picture of Sophie with the sock for scale. It never fails to amaze me how much felting shrinks knitting. The finished bag is probably 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the original knitted bag. Now I have to find a magnetic snap to sew in, and I may put a lining in the bag eventually too.

At the 40% off sale, I couldn't resist buying a few more skeins of yarn. I found two self-striping skeins of Opal that I can't wait to get started on. (have I mentioned that I'm addicted to self-striping sock yarns?) I also found a single, lone skein of Cherry Tree Hill supersock in the Birches colorway (front right). At 40% off, it was actually reasonably priced. And I bought 4 more skeins of Cascade 220, two in a red color with blue-ish flecks, and two in a coordinating blue color - destined to become a felted bag of my own design.

And now, a confession: I wanted to buy more yarn at the sale, but I couldn't. I am not physically capable of buying yarn simply to add to my (nearly non-existent) yarn stash. I found a single skein of Manos in solid black, and at 40% off, it would have been a steal, but I couldn't buy it - what would I knit with it? 3 skeins of Rowan Wool Cotton in blue - another bargain, same story... what to knit? It would be tragic for me to own yarn with no purpose - it makes me very uneasy. The only yarn that I'm comfortable buying freely is sock yarn. This will always become socks, and a sock will always use the same, predetermined amount of sock yarn. Other projects aren't as easy to estimate. When I get yarn from a secret pal, I almost immediately have to find a project for the yarn, even if I don't knit the project immediately. All of my yarn is slated for projects. Is this weird? Does anyone else treat yarn like this?

If you are completely comfortable freely adding yarn to your stash, and you live in the Sacramento area, you should definitely hit this sale - a wide variety of yarn (most in limited quantities - tons of Cascade 220 though!) at great prices. The lady at the store said the sale would be going on for about two more weeks.

Wednesday, August 10

One sock down...

My first stripey sock is done! And it fits! But I have no pictures yet, so this is a pretty anticlimatic post. Sorry about that. I'll have to take some pictures when I'm home this weekend. This sock was my first attempt at Kitchner stitch, and as would be my luck I happened to be on the green/white variegated section of yarn at the toe. It's really hard to do kitchner with multi-colored yarn because it's hard to see where the yarn is going. The toe turned out OK (I think!), but I'm not sure that I did the toe grafting quite right. It might be right, but it's hard to tell with the color variations. Maybe the next sock will be better. I should probably try kitchner on a swatch with larger gauge, using solid color yarn so I can see what I'm doing and actually understand how it works.

I got the cutest e-card from my SP5 secret pal tonight - it had a picture of a miniature schnauzer on it, and he looked just like my dog, Newton! So cute! Thanks Secret Pal! Just for fun, here's a picture of my dogs from two years ago, when Mac was a puppy.

Speaking of secret pals, I need to put together my last SP5 package and get it sent off by the end of the month... hmmm... I don't have a plan for this package yet, but I have a few ideas. Time to go shopping!

Tuesday, August 9

Books vs. Yarn

School starts on Monday, so I bought my books yesterday... I'm planning to read all of my assignments this semester. Really. For $455, I'd better do a lot of reading! And that's for only three classes! Just think of all the yarn I could buy with $455... sigh.

I'm actually kind of excited to start school this semester, because it is my LAST semester! And, I only have classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4-9pm, which leaves Wednesday nights free to go Commuknity and knit. And, did I mention, it is my last semester!!! [can you tell that I'm excited to be done?]

Not much news on the knitting front - just a few more stripes completed on the socks. I should be able to start the toe tomorrow, and maybe even get it done. I discovered that I need to invest in a smaller crochet hook - my smallest is too big to use with sock yarn, and I had a terrible time trying to fix a dropped stitch. I ended up dropping a dozen stitches down 5 or 6 rows and reknitting them on smaller dpns. Luckily it worked, or I would have had quite a mess on my hands!

Monday, August 8

Stripey Sock

This weekend was a fairly productive knitting weekend for me. On Saturday, I went to the Folsom knitting group, and had a great time knitting with Lynette and the other knitters who were there. I worked on my boring baby blanket for a couple of hours there, and managed to finish another repeat. Only 8 more repeats to go. Ugh!

Speaking of Lynette, here's what I started knitting on Saturday night with the lovely sock yarn she gave me from her trip to Germany:

I think I have a new addiction - self-striping sock yarn! I could not put this sock down after I started it. Well, I take that back... after the third time I started it I couldn't put it down. The first two times, I attempted to knit a toe-up sock using the method described in Simple Socks. The book got rave reviews on Amazon, but for some reason, I just didn't get it. I think it is because there are not nearly enough photos (none!) or drawings (very few, with little accompanying descriptive text). After two unsuccessful attempts, I put away the book. I'm a little upset about it, because I can usually figure out just about anything from a book - that's how I learned nearly everything I know about knitting. And I feel like I understand the fundamentals of sock knitting too. I should be able to follow the instructions in this book, but that's not the case. I'll have to try again another time.

I couldn't find another sock pattern that I liked, so I decided to make up my own pattern instead. This is actually a modified version of the ribbed sock pattern from the Vogue Socks 2 book. Well, I'm really only using the heel & gusset from that pattern. I just figured out my gauge (7.5 st/in), calculated the number of stitches to fit the circumference of my foot (64), and started knitting. It seems to fit so far!

Lynette also gave me the needles that I'm using: 2.5mm Addi metal dpns, 20cm long (nearly 8"!). At first I was wary about using such long dpns, but I actually prefer them to shorter ones. These are long enough so that the ends of the needles aren't constantly poking my hands while I try to knit. I love them! The stitches slide so nicely compared to the bamboo dpns I've used before. Does anyone sell these in the US?

My favorite thing about these socks so far - the 1x1 rib cuff! Check out this cuff - the ribbing is 1x1 perfection. All of the ribs are straight, with even stitches and no awkward looking stitches anywhere.

Look at the last sock I used 1x1 ribbing on... see how uneven the stitches are compared to the striped sock? It is hard to tell in the picture, but trust me - it's bad! The ribbing on the sock on the left frustrated me so much that I didn't even finish the sock, because I knew I wouldn't wear something that I wasn't happy with. But now I've mastered 1x1 ribbing! Woohoo!

Want to know my secret? It's a little trick I picked up from Nona. When knitting ribbing, on the first purl stitch after a knit stitch, always wrap the yarn the opposite way you usually would. If you always wrap your yarn counterclockwise, then you should wrap the first purl stitch after a knit stitch clockwise, or vice-versa. This will mount the stitch on your needle backwards, so on the next round, you will have to purl (or knit) the stitch through the back loop, or else you will get a twisted stitch.

So, for my sock with 1x1 ribbing knit in the round, I did this:
Row 1: *K1 (wrap counterclockwise like normal), P1 (wrap clockwise)* repeat to end of row.
Row 2 and on: *K1 (wrap counterclockwise like normal), P1TBL (wrap clockwise)* repeat to end of row.

For wider ribbing, the only purl stitch that you would need to wrap the opposite way is the one immediately following the last knit stitch. This is also the only one that you will have to purl through the back loop on subsequent rows.

Sunday, August 7

Vacation Pictures

What I knit (almost!) on my vacation:

I was able to buy more of the Lorna's Laces and finished the Clapotis. It turned out really well. It's going to be my office wrap for when the AC is too cold! I haven't found the right dye lot of the Cascade 220 to finish Sophie yet. :(

Here's a close-up of the Clapotis. This yarn is the most wonderful yarn I've ever knit. If I could only knit one yarn forever, this would be it. It is so soft - like heaven on a skein!

Here's a picture of me with two of my sisters.

Here is me (pink dress) with all of my siblings - yes, there are 7 of us! It was really fun to see them all again.

The wedding - I can't believe my little brother got married!

My favorite thing about being home - no traffic! Except the farm machinery. :) This guy probably thought I was nuts taking his picture while driving down the road.

Sunset at the lake near Todd's parent's house.

Fields of corn.

One of the neatest things I saw on my vacation was this beautiful crocheted bedspread made by my mother-in-law's grandmother. It was probably made in the early 1900s sometime. It appears to be made up of hundreds of small crocheted hexagons sewn together to give the appearance of flowers. Does anyone have any idea where I could find a similar pattern? I'm not sure I'm up to undertaking a project like this right now, but I think it would be really neat to do someday.

Thursday, August 4

The Un-Vacation

I'm back from vacation... or, at least I'm back to my regularly scheduled life. I'm not so sure I'd call the last two weeks a vacation, as it was just about the most exhausting two weeks I've had in a long time. We spent a week visiting my family in northeastern North Dakota, then drove to northwestern Iowa to spend a week with Todd's family. It was our first trip back home to visit our families in four years, so we had lots of people to see, places to go, and things to do. We went to my brother's wedding (very nice), met a niece and nephew that we hadn't met before (both adorable), visited with old friends from high school, and drove everywhere from Grand Forks to Des Moines to see aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.

All in all, it was a good trip. Part of me wanted to stay there, where life is much simpler, traffic is quite pleasant, and houses are actually affordable. But, now it's back to reality. Bleh!

I managed to finish Harry Potter on the trip, and I did a lot of knitting too. I knit 95% of a Clapotis scarf/shawl (wasn't planning to make one of those, but after seeing the beautiful one that Violet was working on for a Frog Pond Knits store sample, I decided that it would be a perfect travel knitting project) and 95% of a Sophie felted bag.

95%!?!?!? On two projects? What's up with that? Are there just to many fabulously exciting things going on in the midwest to distract me from the last few rows of my knitting? Nope... I ran out of yarn - ON BOTH PROJECTS! That made me VERY cranky.

I kind of expected to run out on Sophie, because I went up one needle size to an 11 instead of a 10.5. I deliberately chose the 11s because I like the way Cascade 220 felts when knit more loosely. And, it was really close - I only need to knit 4 more rows, plus the i-cord handles. Not really a big deal to buy more yarn for this bag, since I can always use a nearly-whole skein of 220 to make something felted.

I am pretty dang peeved about running out of yarn for the Clapotis, though. I used the yarn called for in the pattern (Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb - this is fabulous, luxurious yarn!), with the correct gauge called for by the pattern (and coincidentally the same needle size), and ran out with THREE pattern repeats left +5 rows - 41 whole rows!! What the heck happened to all of my yarn? Why did I run out on this? I have no idea. But now I have to go buy an entire skein of L&L for about 20 or 30 yards of yarn. Grrrr. And I have no idea what to do with the rest of the skein... I guess I'll just have to make a gift scarf with it. At least I love knitting with the L&L. [After doing a Google search, I see I'm not the only knitter who ran out of L&L on Clapotis - why hasn't this pattern been updated to reflect the actual amount of yarn used?]

Does anyone happen to have a partial skein of either Cascade 220 Celtic Green (color no. 9410, lot 8198) or Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb Lakeview (color no. 504, lot 7896) that they'd like to sell or trade? Otherwise, I'll just have to head back to the yarn store to buy another skein of each.

This post is getting longer than I'd planned, but I have to thank Lynette for the lovely package she sent me. She sent me some beautiful sock yarn in pretty fall shades, a set of 2.5mm dpns, and some chocolates - all from her recent vacation to Europe, for getting the correct answers in her contest. Thanks Lynette! I haven't used needles that small before, and am looking forward to trying them with the yarn you sent!

I've got lots of pictures to share, but those will have to wait until tomorrow.