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Ms. Knits: October 2005

Monday, October 24

So long, farewell...

As it turns out, my knitting/blogging hiatus is going to begin a little sooner than I thought. I got a letter in the mail today saying that my application to take the patent bar exam has been approved. I'll be taking the exam in early December, before my finals and my state bar prep classes begin. No more knitting (or at least very limited knitting) for me for quite some time... must pass all of these exams, and the patent bar is a doozy.

The timing is very bad - I received my Dale order from Bea Ellis last Thursday (2 days after I placed the order... what fabulous service!), and I'm dying to start on Gerbera. And after looking through Dale #126, I found enough projects to keep me busy for years, provided the whole fair isle thing goes smoothly. Here's are some of the fabulous sweaters I'd love to make...



With that, a temporary goodbye... If you want to e-mail me, distractions are welcome invited. I can be reached at cyndilu2 at gmail dot you-know-what. I may post intermittently either to vent to you wonderfully supportive folks on the internets (likely), or if I actually finish a knitted item (less likely). No promises though. I'll be back in full knitting force in March!

Friday, October 21

Coolest ball winder EVER!

A ball winder made from Lego blocks! How cool is that? Now, off to find some Legos...


Link found courtesy of Boing Boing, where craftiness meets geekiness on a fairly regular basis.

Wednesday, October 19

Next!

Here's what's coming up next for me in the next few months of knitting:

1. Finish Snowflake
2. Finish the never-ending baby blanket (it would be finished in about 8 hours if I ever sat down and worked on it.) Baby blankets are just not exciting for me. Although, I am more than a little intrigued by this fascinating beauty of a blanket underway by Grumperina. I'm not ready to attempt this until I have endless hours of uninterrupted knitting time - this is clearly not something that should be undertaken when you can only manage to knit for a couple of hours a few days each week, which seems to be all the time I usually have. So, this is not going on my to-do list quite yet.

Those two projects ought to take me right up to Thanksgiving. And then, I think I am going to have to take a brief knitting (and blogging) hiatus. Maybe I'll only work on socks or something, because I don't think I can quit cold turkey. But I have to cut back significantly, because sometime in November, life is going to start kicking my butt for a few months. In December, I've got my last set of law school finals. I'm not super thrilled about the finals themselves, but there are not words to describe how happy I am to be done with law school. There are, however, words to describe how I feel about the next big exam that I have to take - the CA bar exam. Terrified. Completely freaked out. Worried Convinced that I will be one of the nearly 2/3 of exam takers who fail. So anyway, that's going to be fun. Everyone says to just follow the plan that the bar prep course lays out, and that's what I plan to do. Unfortunately, the prep courses don't allot for knitting time. Bummer. Just a heads up - you all may want to avoid me from mid-December until March, because I'm pretty sure that I'll be generally unpleasant and cranky.

Anyway, a lot of my projects will likely be on hold until I can start them in March... I'll be making the Sitcom Chic cardi for sure, and probably a few pairs of socks. I also want to try my hand at Fair Isle at some point next spring. I love the Dale Gerbera sweater - I'll definitely be making this one eventually.

There you have it - my upcoming projects, knitting and not. Sounds fun, eh?

Edited to add: It's a good thing I made this list and got to thinking about my future projects... turns out the Dale Sisik yarn for Gerbera is being discontinued! Bea Ellis has the yarn at 40% off. So, I ordered the yarn for the charcoal/pewter sweater, along with Book #126 for the pattern. Such a shame that this project will have to wait until next March. Sigh.

Sunday, October 16

Pumpkins and Alpacas

Wow - thanks so much for all of the overwhelming compliments on Frieda! I really appreciate all of your kind words!

What could make for a more fun Sunday afternoon than pumpkins and alpacas? We set out on Sunday afternoon on our annual pumpkin hunting expedition in search of the perfect carving pumpkins for Halloween. [yes, we are serious about our pumpkins around here.] We bypassed the Amador county pumpkin patch where we usually stop, and ended up here - at a pick-it-yourself pumpkin patch! It was quite an exciting find, considering we were just driving down a random road enjoying the scenery of the foothills when we saw the signs.

We had a great time wandering through the field in search of the perfect pumpkin.



And speaking of pumpkins - did you see the fall knitty surprise? I LOVE these cute little felted pumpkins!

I also saw my first fall foliage of the season at the pumpkin patch. I love fall!

After leaving the pumpkin patch, we could either turn right and go back the way we came, or turn left and take a more circuitous route home. Guess which one we chose? Yep - left! And a few miles down the road I saw a sign for an alpaca ranch as we drove by it. But, Todd made a quick u-turn, and we stopped and visited the friendly alpacas at Retiredice Alpacas. Paige, the owner, was super nice and gave us a most awesome and informative tour of the barn and pasture.

Here are just a few of the 40 alpacas that we saw:

Thre were quite a few female alpacas with babies. Aren't these two cute?


Paige even brought one of the babies over for us to see up close. So adorable!

And, after visiting the alpacas, I couldn't resist a trip to the gift shop to buy this lovely yarn. 280 yards of pure alpaca, from one of Paige's alpacas.



She didn't spin this herself (one of her friends spins it for her), but is learning to spin and weave. Is 280 yards enough to make a pair of knit gloves? What does one knit with 280 yards of alpaca? Maybe a cabled scarf? You know, because I need so many warm scarves for our frigid CA winters. Ha! Any other ideas? I can always call her up and get more yarn from this alpaca... hmmm....

After our wonderful day trip out to the country, I'm now trying to figure out how we can buy an acreage somewhere rural, raise alpacas, and have a big pumpkin patch and maybe a vineyard. Maybe someday.

Tomorrow I'll answer Jeanie's question - now that Frieda's over, what's up next?

PS - a shout out to my awesome secret pal (Knitter's Review SP) - she sent me a fabulous package with lots of fun halloween candy (pumpkin peeps - neato!), cookies and some glow-in-the dark vampire fangs. Any guesses as to why there are no pictures? :-)

Presenting... Frieda!

Frieda, she is done! Well, nearly done. There are approximately 5,132 ends left to weave in. And I've already woven in about 254 ends. Seriously.



If it wasn't Sunday night already, I would take Nancy Wiseman's advice and sit down with a glass of wine and finish weaving in the ends. (that's the best knitting advice I've ever read in a book!)

I finally got around to finishing the seaming (2nd sleeve and both side seams) on Saturday afternoon. I can honestly say that I LOVE seaming! It is the neatest thing to see the pieces that you've knit come together as a sweater, and it goes so much faster than the actual knitting. If anyone has any seaming they need done, let me know... Will seam for yarn! :)

Anyway, here's the finished Frieda photos, with the loose ends strategically stuffed inside the sleeves and collar. I am beyond thrilled with this sweater. It turned out absolutely perfectly. Now, if the weather would just cooperate so I can actually wear it.

Here's a front view of the sweater -


And a side view showing the sleeve a little better -


Frieda Notes ---


Pattern:
Frieda, from the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk book, in the 36" size. The pattern was fairly well written. My only real complaint is the lack of schematics. It would have been nice to know all of the dimensions when blocking, but my guestimations worked fairly well.

Needles:
Size 6 and 8 Addi Turbos, 32" - Love 'em!

Yarn
: Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk in Rose. I bought one more skein than the pattern called for, and am very glad I did! I probably used 1/4 skein more than the pattern called for, most likely because of the pattern modifications that I did.

Pattern modifications:
I knit the cables into sleeves rather than attaching them later as called for in the pattern. Also, I did two fewer increases in the sleeves and added 8 rows (approx. 1") to each sleeve.

Highlights:
- My first sweater! (ok folks, I'm running out of firsts here... guess I'm moving beyond being a newbie knitter!)
- I learned how to cable, and attempted cabling without a cable needle. I ended up using a cable needle, because an 8 stitch wide cable is slightly unwieldy without a cable needle.
- Finishing - love it! Must knit more sweaters so I can put them together!
- Love the yarn, love the pattern, love the finished sweater - what more could I ask for?

Lowlights:
- Each ball of yarn only has about 70 yards of yarn on it. I knit through a ball of yarn in 1-2 hours. This made for lots of loose ends to weave in at the end (see above)
- The ribbed collar took forever and was by far the least fun part of the sweater to knit.

What I would do differently next time: Nothing, really. I'm very happy with this sweater! If I made another one, I'd probably try a different yarn - something a little less pricey.

Thursday, October 13

A sleeve and a collar

Pictures of my first ever set in sleeve!


The sleeve fit into the body perfectly, and seaming it was - dare I say - fun! Here's a close-up of the seam. Believe it or not, this is my first ever seam... the other tops and felted bags I've knit have been in the round with no seaming.


And I finally finished the not-so-fun part of Frieda - the 9.5" ribbed collar. After trying it on, I think I could have gotten away with knitting it slightly shorter, but it's fine at this length. I used the knit two/purl two sewn bindoff from the Vogue book (I think this is the same as a tubular bindoff, but not sure). I started out doing the bindoff a little loosely, so the back doesn't look quite as neat as the front. I was trying to make sure that the collar would fit over my head! :)


Tonight - setting in the second sleeve and sewing the side seams, hopefully.

Tuesday, October 11

Snowflake

First things first - I'm already tired of calling this sweater "Rebecca Sweater With Embroidered Yoke", and the acronym "RSWEY" doesn't do much for me either. [all of the Rebecca sweaters have really long and mostly lame names... what's up with that?]

Therefore, I hereby declare this sweater "Snowflake"! Why Snowflake? Well, the embroidery on the front kind of looks like snowflakes. Never mind the fact that they have four points instead of six. Who's counting?!?

Now for the drama...

While Frieda was blocking last night I decided to start working on Snowflake. Now, this pattern is a German pattern (translated/written in English), and all of the measurements are in metric units. [Note: you can download the FREE pattern here.]

Metric to English conversions are not exactly rocket science (or is it?), and having taken a bizillion or so (ok, more like 6) advanced math classes in college and graduating with an engineering degree, I should be able to figure this metric stuff out, right? Not so much.


After a few hours of knitting, this is what I had... 20cm of ribbing, followed by nearly an entire repeat of the cable pattern stitch.

Here's a close up shot of the cable pattern. Starting it was a real pain, due to the carefully placed increases, but once I got going it was really fun and easily memorized. I have to thank Grumperina for the wonderful tutorial she posted on cabling without a cable needle - this is an AWESOME technique, and makes cabling super fast and easy. Head over and check it out when you get a chance... very clever!

After I got to this point, I set aside my knitting to watch Desperate Housewives - one of the few shows that I watch sans knitting. While I was watching TV, a thought occurred to me... 20cm IS NOT EQUAL TO FOUR INCHES, it is equal to EIGHT inches. I only knit four inches of ribbing before starting the cable pattern. Oy. Bonus points for you if you took a look at the picture above and said "that's NOT 20 cm!" I'm not sure if I wasn't thinking straight, or if I was just eager to put an end to the ribbing and get to work on the fun stuff. Either way - I was not happy to realize my conversion error... what was I thinking? From now on, I'm just going to start measuring and thinking in metric units when I'm working on a metric pattern!


I restrained myself from frogging and adding to the ribbing last night. I figured nothing good could come of it.

Tonight, I frogged. Ouch.


Then I finished knitting the ribbing. It really is 20cm long now. Check the measuring tape for yourself. :)

I'm on serious 2x2 ribbing overload right now between Frieda's collar and the bottom edge of Snowflake. But now I'm done with the back ribbing and can start on the fun stuff tomorrow. (cables - woohoo!)



Speaking of Frieda, I used a three needle bindoff to seam the shoulders today, and got about 3" of ribbing done on the collar. Only 6.5" to go. Argh. Incidentally - I'm using magic loop to knit the collar. It's my first time using magic loop, and it is a lot easier than I expected! I'll have to try it for socks sometime.

Monday, October 10

Mail Call

The last week has been a miserable one for me - I've been sick since last Tuesday. Didn't work on Wednesday or Thursday, felt a little better on Friday, and then was down for the count pretty much all weekend. The upside is that I've been home for nearly a week now, which has been nice. And look what arrived in the mail for me last week...
A package from Germany! It's the GGH Davos I ordered from Rikes Wollmaus for the Rebecca Embroidered Yoke Sweater.

I couldn't find this yarn anywhere in the US - online or locally, so I decided to be brave and order from a foreign online retailer. Boy did I get lucky! This is a terrific place to order yarn that you can't find in the US. First of all, the yarn itself cost about 40% less than it would have cost to special order it from somewhere locally. When I e-mailed them to ask about the yarn and overseas shipping, they were very responsive and helpful. The only downside was shipping. I had the package shipped parcel post for about $10, and it took just over a month to arrive. I could have paid $26 for priority mail, but I couldn't justify paying half of the yarn cost in shipping.

Here's a closeup of the yarn. For lack of a better word, this yarn is very squishy. It's not the softest yarn I've ever used, and after knitting with the alpaca silk, it feels a little like knitting with twine (ok, so anything would feel like twine after knitting with alpaca silk - that's not really a fair comparison). But wow, this yarn is squishy. I started knitting the sweater, and already there is drama. I'll post pictures and an update after work today.
Finally, here's the current status of Frieda. She got blocked yesterday, and is now drying. Not sure when she'll be dry, but I'm excited to start putting her all together! Hopefully by next weekend I'll have finished my very first sweater.

Monday, October 3

Dog Days

This weekend was all about the dogs. Saturday we spent the afternoon with them in the second of six dog training classes. They know the basics already, but we're working on consistency and socialization with other dogs. Sunday afternoon we had a doggy play date at the dog park with Sassy, a schipperke from class. Sassy had the dog park thing down pat - she had a great time running with the other dogs. Newton and Mac didn't quite get it though... Mac spent the afternoon running around getting love from the other dog owners, while Newton tried to avoid a pug/chihuaha mix that would not leave him alone, if you know what I mean.

With all of the doggie doings, I didn't have much time at all to knit on Frieda. I got a few more rows done on the first sleeve, but that's about it. I'm in no hurry to finish though, as the weather is still too warm for sweaters anyway. Hello, Mother Nature? It's October! Enough of this 85 degree stuff - bring on the cool weather!

On Saturday night, we went to see "A History of Violence." We chose the movie based solely on the preview (it looked decent), and the fact that Viggo and Ed Harris were in it. How bad can a movie starring Viggo and Ed be? Um, really, really bad. If you've seen the previews, you've seen all of the good parts of the movie. Everything they didn't include in the previews is truly awful. I have never seen so much graphic violence, gratuitous sex, and blatantly unnecessary product placement in one movie. The sad thing is that the movie could have been quite good - it had a lot of potential, and for the most part I enjoyed the first half of the movie. The second half went downhill quickly though - with enough blood and gore to make me cover my eyes half the time. And, there was an ENTIRE scene (a bar scene between the main character and a seedy mobster) that had to have been included in the movie soley for product placement: "After you finish up that beer, I'll take you over to Richie's in the Escalade." What?? In the Escalade? What does that have to do with anything? But, without this scene, there was no way the Escalade would have made it into the movie. Ah, gotta love commercialism!

On a brighter note, here's picture of the boys from March 2004 - aren't they cute?

Sunday, October 2

House stuff

For the last couple of months, I've been spending a good portion of every weekend trying to pick out paint for the dining room and fabric for curtains and other upholstery. Here's what we've got so far -


The dining room is no longer all beige! After painting more sample colors on the wall than I can count, I finally found one that we both agreed on. Todd did most of the painting, and it turned out great. A tip to anyone who wants a red wall - use a coat or two tinted primer before painting... it really helps!

Here's the dining room from another angle - you can see a pile of fabric swatches on the table... at some point we're going to order an upholstered cushion, pillows, and curtains for the window bench seat. I also want to find a nice piece of art to hang on the wall behind the table.



And last, but not least, we ordered curtains and valences for the kitchen and family room. So far we've only gotten the valence for the kitchen. I love this fabric! The hardware for the family room should be arriving soon, along with the curtains (same fabric, different style), but there was a mistake on the curtain order, so we'll have to return them and wait a few more weeks for curtains with the right rings. A little frustrating, but I'm just happy to finally have curtains arriving soon!

Edited to add a link to a close-up picture of the fabric (it's hard to get a good picture of a backlit window!). Also, the paint is close to a darker/deeper shade of true red. It is a custom mixed version of "Heirloom Red" from Lowe's (we had Kelley Moore mix a flat version for us, because we didn't want the satin/semi-gloss version from Lowe's).