Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lazy Girl

I have lots of stuff I need to get done lately. I have lists and lists of projects to get done. So much so that I found myself a little overwhelmed by it and found myself crawling into bed this Sunday and having a lazy day while I hid from all responsibility. I Generally try to be a grown up and just get stuff done - but every once in awhile a day off from everything is in order!

My dog spent a lot of time outside with my hubby while he worked on projects, and I propped myself up with pillows and worked on my Fugly Blanket. My cat Izzi curled up in the blanket at the end of the bed and spent most of the day just hanging out with me.  This is unusual since she is more my Husbands cat - but I enjoyed her company!

I had to poke her head a little to get her to stretch and say hi. She curled right back up and went back to sleep. I even dozed a little. With crochet in hand my head bobbed and the next thing I knew it was 10 minutes later. I felt like a really old woman who nodded off after tea! (But in a good way!)

Another shot a couple hours later. Yup - I spent all day in bed! It was awesome. You can see the yellow and white I was working on earlier at the bottom of the blanket. I have moved on to Hot Pink!

And you can see Netflix in the background. I am watching Stephen Fry in America. Really interesting! Although (of course) I wanted him to like Wisconsin and Minnesota more. About Wisconsin (The state I was born in and lived in for 30 years) he complained that Americans eat terrible cheese and that he couldn't believe that the water bottle he left in his car over night froze solid! (This was really funny to me.) And as for MN, he did travel on a road near where I live and it was nice to see familiar landmarks, but he pretty much talked about our Hmong community and then went ice fishing with a rich guy. (Most Minnesotans do not bring a fish camera with to see the fish in the water bite on their line.) I was laughing about this because the time I went ice fishing (once mind you and it was in the 80's) we had no power auger and it was just standing out on a frozen lake freezing our nubs off. In the show they drive up to their spot on snow mobiles geared up in expensive winter gear. It was funny. So of course I felt like we weren't represented very well, but it was still interesting.

It was a really fun day and I needed the relaxing, but now I need to get back to my various lists and get some projects done! Back to Reality!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Charity knitting and hooking

This past winter I mailed off a box of hats and scarves I knit over the year to a charity in Wisconsin/Illinois (USA) area and I was pretty happy about doing it. I liked knitting up a bunch of items to go to people who needed them.

So now that I am getting hook happy I thought it might be good to practice my hooking and find another Charity than can use my handmade goods. I was really happy when I came across the little blip in Your Knitting Life Magazine (page 11) about the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation. The web site for the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation have a large list of knit/crochet/sew items they need and would really appreciate.
To that end I whipped out a quick scarf this morning when I couldn't sleep. (Just think how many scarves I could make with the amount of Insomnia I have!)

As usual I have no idea what stitch this is. It's the same one I am making my Fugly Blanket out of so it was easy to do. I used a massive crochet hook (11.50mm P) and used up two skeins of Hometown USA yarn. And yes - it's the same yarn as Emma's blanket. I bought extra thinking I would need it for my shawl. (insert snorts of laughter here.)

This scarf ended up being 68" x 5" before the fringe was added. (I miss putting fringe on a scarf! I never do it for my personal stuff anymore! It was fun!)

I really need to learn to speak and read crochet. I am just being lazy! I look at this and think Is that double crochet? That is DC right? Huh. When I google Double Crochet it looks a little like this, although it sounds like there is Double crochet through the front loop, double crochet through the back loop and double crochet through both loops - so are those all double crochet? How do you know what to do? And then I run screaming back to my knitting needles.

SO anyway, aside from my neurotic inner dialogs about the nature of crochet, I am pretty happy to have a Charity scarf knit up and am looking forward to making more!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cedar and Spice and Everything Nice for Emma

I finished my Cedar and Spice and Everything Nice Shawl finally. As you can guess from the title of this entry and the pictures that follow, this turned into a dog blanket for my girl Emma.

Emma sleeps on a little sleigh bed that my hubby made, and it's right next to my side of the bed in the corner of the room. Every night she curls up under various little blankets and looks super cute. So I am actually happy to give her a hand knit blanket. Bonus that it matches the curtains and rugs. Double bonus that it's machine washable and dryable.

When I finished knitting it I tried it on and it just looked weird. And it's because the ends are not symmetrical. As you can see on the picture below, the edge on the left is really skinny and pointed - where as the edge on the other side is more of a gentle slope over a larger surface. I wanted to wear this with a shawl pin and thought I could hide this better with a pin and overlapping the fabric rather than the button method the author intended. (The button method would be too much for me. It would have been too tight on my neck and just felt icky.) So after trying several things and talking to the hubby about it we decided it would be better suited for the dog bed.

I really like the look of this as a blanket - and I think it you tripled the amount of stitches and knit it about twice as long you would have a really warm blanket that you could snuggle into on the couch. I am quite happy with this as an Emma Blanket. I think it classes up her little bed and I like the thought of her having a hand knit blanket to curl up in. The one I made I ended up using 4 skeins of Hometown USA in Tampa Spice.

If anyone wants to look at the pattern on Ravelry it is a free pattern by the wonderful Susan B. Anderson. She looks really cute in the one she made! The pattern is called Cedar Wrap and it can also be found on the Spud and Chloe Blog if you aren't on Ravelry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fugly Blanket Progress Report

I have had a challenging week this week. Insomnia Monday. Leave work early Tuesday after throwing up my lunch. Yeah. So I have spent a bit of time lounging in bed and working on my Fugly Blanket. I find it amazing how easy it is to lay in bed and watch several episodes of Biggest Loser (I am watching Season 3 on Netflix) while hooking away on my Fugly. Bonus that it is now big enough that I can throw it over me for a little warmth while I hook. I love the weight of this blanket and it makes me think I will want to crochet more blankets in the future. I am realizing too that this blanket would have been a lot more attractive if I had just done stripes rather than this crazed patch work thing I got going on. **shrugs** C'est la vie!

I stretched it out on my dining room table this morning and took a few snap shots of it. Terrible light but I think it captures the eye searing color combinations pretty well.  I have a fondness for multi colored wash cloth yarn. Knitting a plain color I found really dull unless I was following a pattern or something. Still. Yawn. I prefer bold and loud. That does make anything I Frankenstein together out of the scraps a bit loud and obnoxious.

Still, I am really having fun throwing stuff at this and watching it grow. Rather like being fascinated by a fungus or mold I suspect. Yeah. It's like a giant mushroom you find growing under a tree in the yard and you just keep watching it grow in kind of horrified fascination - wondering how big that thing will get and if it's toxic or maybe a rare culinary wonder?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Storm Season and Emma

Last night we had our first real Thunderstorm of the Season. That means we had one freaked out Dog cowering in the bedroom with us. My hubby and I were laying in bed watching Season 2 of The Biggest Loser and saw the storm roll in. We closed the drapes and tried to make the room as quiet and calm as we could and still poor Emma started shaking like a leaf. I really need to order that Anxiety Wrap toot sweet! But that wasn't going to help us much for the night. I looked at my husband and asked if I should get an old T-shirt to wrap around the dog. He said that wouldn't help since our shirts would be really big on her. So then he suggested the old Dog Sweater I made for her the first summer she was with us. It's a little tight on her now so she doesn't really wear it anymore.

It ended up being perfect! I went and popped it on her and she went from super shaking puppy to just laying there staring around. You could tell she was still freaked out by the weather, but just to have that shaking stop was really nice.

This picture above was Emma not knowing how to react to the sweater the first time I put her in it in 2009 - I didn't stick my dog in a sweater and then drag her out in a storm for a photo shoot. You can tell she wasn't real sure what to think about the sweater. She was probably thinking Oh no! I live with people who want to dress me up!

Here is a rather saucy picture of Emma's underbelly just to show the tight fit of the chest area of the sweater. I think it was the tight fit that made a difference last night. Once he thunder stopped she immediately fell asleep. It was so nice to see. We could still hear the rain falling and she just nodded right off.

The pattern I used to knit this was the Need for Tweed Dog Sweater by Shiri Mor on Ravelry. It's also available on the Lion Brand website and it's a free pattern. It's knit flat and seemed which makes it easy to customize the fit. It took less than two skeins of Lion Brand Thick and Quick and the pattern was fast and easy. Bonus that it's machine washable - always a good thing with a dog sweater!

I am so happy we thought of putting this on Emma last night. Bonus that something I knit came in REALLY handy!

Happy first day of Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week!

Another sleepless night had me up and blog hopping and I came upon Eskimimi Makes who runs the Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. She has a lovely blog with all kinds of crafty goodness in it and I signed up as fast as I could type in my e-mail address!

Basically what you do to participate is:

A) Sign up.

B) During the blog week you will post on your blog from a set topic. If you go to Eskimimi's blog you will see a link to examples of last years posts - the one I stumbled upon was "A Tale of Two Yarns". As you can see - the topics allow for some wiggle room in how you would post about this. Two yarns that compliment each other? A Yarn you loved and a yarn you hated? Two yarns you combined for awesome results?

C) There is a really neat tag system that Eskimimi has created that you will insert each day into your blog. The tags for each day have already been posted up on her site and you enter a specific code for each day. This will allow all the participants to google search that code and find all the different posts for that day! How clever is this? (I can't wait to start trolling through all the blogs!)

D) Go read the actual details on Eskimimi Makes Blog since I am paraphrasing all of this and I am in a Zombie sleepless state so I might have mucked things up a bit.

If you have any interest I would recommend popping over and having a look. There are prizes offered up too - which of course is just lovely!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Camping Season!

With how warm out it's been the last week or two we thought we would take advantage of the weather and do an overnight at a park here in Minnesota. We stayed at Whitewater State Park in Altura, MN. Very nice park! Because it was so early in the season there were not many people staying at the park yet so we had out pick of campsites. We ended up at a site right on the river so you could hear the water rushing by all the time. Very relaxing!

 Of course we had to go for a nice hike. We set up camp and head out almost immediately. The trail we found had us crossing the river on big cement pylons and then going up a little stair and then climbing a rough trail up the mountain hillside. Wow was that a long trek! Our Puppy Emma was not the only one with her tongue hanging out by the time we got to the top of the hill.

Once we got up there the views were pretty awesome. Because it's so early in the Spring the foliage hasn't filled in yet and you can really see a long way.

We found little rocky spots were we could stop and admire the view all over the place. Quite pretty and a little surreal to be up on the cliffs. The next day when we were checking out we could see people up on the cliffs and I thought  "Whoa! We were really up there!"

This is a view up the cliff as we were heading down. It was a lot cooler in the moment - my camera didn't capture how amazing this was.

Emma and I on the hilltop. We were warm and tired but we had a really good time.

 Here is a view of the river. We actually got to the end of the path we walked and ended up turning around and hiking the whole thing back - so we got to cross the river twice. Shortly after this picture Tom picked up Emma and carried her across most of the stones. She originally jumped over about half on the way in but then she slipped and got scared. On the way back we encouraged her and she was having none of that thank you very much! So Tom carried her across all but the last three and then set her down to do the last couple on her own so she would feel empowered.

Here is a view up the river.

We had a bonfire not long after we got back and we all sat and watched the stars come out as the fire burned down. It was a really relaxing night and a great first camping trip of the season.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Crochet some fugly

Last weekend we had my Mother in Law over to celebrate her 60th birthday. I always like to have a little project to work on while we sit and talk so I grabbed a ball of yarn from my cotton yarn scrap bin and started to do a little crochet. I try to do a little bit every once in awhile just to keep the ability. I am really new at crochet (Made my first washcloth in November last year) and I cannot read instructions yet. I will get there eventually, but for now I just do some simple practice bits.

I knit up the left over yarn from my headband I knit last weekend. This made a pretty nice sized square. Then I thought I would just add to it with different colors and just keep using up yarn practicing.

Add a little chunk of teal and a bigger chunk of navy. So far not too ugly. I was really enjoying how this hooked up and loved that I was burning through some left over scrap cotton. Crochet is really fast and you can really burn through the yarn.

Here it is Friday and suddenly the blanket (because that is what I was going for after the first couple squares added on so quickly) has turned into something a little big fugly. I am going to keep going even though I am pretty icked out by the product. I keep thinking how awesome a cotton blanket would be for the camper, and if it's really fugly then I won't mind throwing it on the ground to sit on at a campsite or what have you. Also - it can go right in the washer and dryer when I am done - so there is that too.

I confess - I had the thought that maybe I should make it into a Dog blanket. Our dog loves her little blankets and curls all the way under a blanket at night. (She has her own bed and own blankets.) So in the back of my mind I have that little thought process. I also have the thought that I can always bleach the crap out of this and mute the colors quite a bit. Some of the cotton yarn is very soft though - so I fear it would destroy that yarn a little.

Anyway, It's been a fun experiment. I wish crochet didn't hurt my wrist and shoulder so much. It's really addictive how fast you get product (It's 27 inches long by 16 inches deep right now) and I could really get into it if it didn't hurt my body so much!

I think my next crochet project will have to be something pretty like the blanket that Knitting Nix is making. I love her happy colors and how NOT ugly her end product is. I have a lot of stash just begging to be used.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Things are getting done!

About a month ago I started the Figurehead Shawl by Alexis Winslow. The body was very easy to work but the border was a real challenge. That's a knit scallop edge! The design is really really clever - but I hated working on the border. Of course now that it is finished I am in love with it and thinking about other colors and yarns I would like to work this in. It's really cute!

I worked my version in Brown Sheep Prairie Silk yarn - Which is now discontinued. I really love Brown Sheep Yarns. I used just over 1 skein of each color - a lavender and a grey. REALLY love the results! I originally wasn't going to put a button on the project, but after I blocked this out I got more length I found that I could. The way I am wearing it in the picture below is with it buttoned under my chin and tucked under the bulk of the shawl. It was really windy when I took these pictures and the shawlette really kept my neck from feeling the wind!

I have been wearing headbands a lot lately and have been looking for simple headbands to knit. I found this pattern on Ravelry called "Cool Cotton Headband". I knit it up and it took 27 yards (15 grams) of cotton! A perfect use for those left over balls of yarn from knitting washcloths. This is a free pattern on Ravelry and I was able to knit it up in about an hour. (I think it took a little longer than that but I was surfing the net and drinking coffee....) It's still a little thicker than I would like for everyday wear - but I think it would be a perfect headband to throw in my make-up caddy for wearing at night when I wash my face. Would make a great instant gift or stocking stuffer too. I knit this with Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton. (I could make three of these out of one skein and still have a little left over yarn!)

And I finished my Sari to Drop-In Scarf knit out of Frabjous Fibers Millefiori yarn. (The recycled Sari yarn.) The pattern I used was Barb Bettegnies Drop-In Scarf pattern from Creative Knitting, Fall 2010: Accessorize with Style. I had made this scarf a couple years back in ribbon yarn and loved the pattern. It's really fast and easy and the results are quite pretty! This was another stash buster for me and I am very pleased with my results!

Not much progress on my vest this week. I have had a lot of insomnia and I won't work on that project when I am tired or lacking focus. I don't want to mess it up!

In other news - We are breaking records for our warmth here this weekend. It is just amazing out! Yesterday it was 67F  - our normal average high for this time of year is 37F! That's a huge difference! I saw kids biking outside the house in shorts and t-shirts! Amazing! I will be out in that garden before I know it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Swatch of ill repute

So I have finished blocking out my swatch and it's measuring about 19 stitches over 4 inches on size 7 needles. Sadly this yarn is STILL harsh! So I am leaning toward mittens (with a liner) and bags. If I had a loom I would make this into wool rugs in a heartbeat as I think this would be excellent rug yarn. It's REALLY scratchy. So I guess that's good to know.

I have been making progress on my Well Named Vest over the last week. I am a quarter of the way through the color work on the bust area. I love how it's turning out and I love that it's looking like an actual vest! I am still praying it fits when I am done. I have discovered that I can only work a chart when I am focused. That ripping back color work is poopy. And that as big of a pain as it is - I don't like the look of long floats on the back of a project. My first row of this has long floats and I almost ripped it back and re-did it. But lazy won and I just kept going with floats only carrying over 2 or 3 stitches for the rest of the color work. You can see some of this peeking out from the inside of the vest. I am not sure what proper carrying technique is for carrying floats in color work - I am not very experienced with Fair Isle or Intarsia. I just know what works for me.

In other news - it got into the 60's here today. That is INSANELY warm for us. After my workout today I went outside to fill our bird feeders in my t-shirt and Capri's (work out gear) and felt really comfortable! It's just so crazy! LOVE IT! I think I am destined for a warmer climate when I get older. I love Minnesota - but man the winters here really get me down!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Swatch it!

When I was new to the knitting world I purchased a fairly large quantity of yarn on eBay. Almost all of what I purchased came from the same vendor and was 100% New Zealand Wool in various weights and colors. I purchased A LOT of this yarn. I mean a HUGE quantity. I decided recently that I should really use some of this yarn. So I grabbed out a ball in Bright Orange and started making a swatch.

I decided to use this as an opportunity to really try and understand gauge and swatching, and found a few useful links online I thought I would share. The first is on Knitty.com and is an article called "Swatch it!" Really good article on how to swatch and how to read your swatch. After I read this article I decided I would cast on 50 stitches and pretty much knit a washcloth in the wool yarn to get an idea of how it works up. I am knitting this on size 7 needles because the notes I have on this yarn tell me it's a DK/Worsted weight. My notes also tell me I have 2lbs 6 oz of this yarn, that it's 2 ply and that it comes in at about 1100 yards per pound. I decided that I wanted to understand a little more about what yarn weights really mean and found a page by Spinderella on yarn weight. Really interesting! This told me that a worsted weight is 900 - 1100 yards per pound and that DK is 1000 - 1400 yards per lb. Neat. So I can see why this comes in at DK/Worsted Weight.

I am knitting it up and I am feeling like it's close to Cascade 220 or perhaps Lion Brand Fisherman's wool in weight. I will be curious to see if this yarn blooms at all in the wash and block stage of this yarn. I will also be curious to see if it gets any softer as this is the scratchiest wool yarn ever created. Seriously rough! If it comes out of the wash and block process and still feels like it could remove a callous from my foot I will have to think about how I want to use this yarn. (Probably slippers, handbags and rugs rather than sweaters you wear against your skin.)

It's feeling good to pull some of this yarn out and think about what it could be used for. Also, if I can work it with some cascade 220 or fisherman's wool in various projects that could be really fun. I am anxious to see what the stitch per inch count comes up as when I am done swatching.
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