Friday, June 29, 2007

FO: Lingerie Twinset Tank

Pattern: Retro Ribby Twinset Tank from Knitting Lingerie Style by Joan McGowan-Michael

Size: 34 1/2" finished chest

Yarn: About 4 balls Laines Du Nord Giunco (100% superwash merino) in color 512 (on sale at WEBS for $2.99 a ball)

Modifications: I made the body 1" longer (2" would have been better). The pattern called for making the center band that gathers the bust together twelve stitches long. I ended up making mine 36 stitches long just to reach around the center part of the bust. Also, the straps ended up being about 2" too long for me, so I sewed them in place inside the back and cut off the excess (we'll see if it's true that wool won't unravel when cut).

Other thoughts: If you decide to knit this, bear in mind that the bodice is very stretchy. I would recommend knitting it with about 3 inches of negative ease. Mine has about 1" of negative ease, and it is pretty loose. I'm a little afraid to bend over while wearing it. I am considering knitting this again in a solid color. I like the variegation, but I think a solid color would show off the gathering at the bust better and be more versatile. (Note how the slight pooling at the waist makes a sort of faux belt. I generally don't mind pooling, because I think it is fun to watch the weird shapes that emerge--it's like looking for pictures in the clouds.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'd Like To Thank My Agent...

Kathleen at Quail Hill Knits named me a Rockin' Girl Blogger! As I understand it, this means I'm one of her favorite bloggers. (Which is way cool.) And even better--I get to name five of my favorite bloggers, who also get to add this button to their blogs:

I've noticed that some of my favorites have already been named, so if I know you've already gotten the nod, I won't pick you. I'm naming (in random order):

5elementknitter: because she is quirky and prolific, two qualities I admire!

A Few Things to Say: because I am always impressed by moms of young kids who have the energy to shower, much less blog, knit, garden...

beckyknitstoo: because she's funny and self-effacing and I love her felted postal bag disasters.

No More Sweaters!: because...well, if you've read her, you understand. She's sharp, hilarious, and her car (Tina) robbed a bank. Her bathroom is covered in Jesus postcards. She keeps a clock in the freezer. And she made me aware that there is such a thing as a "Tapioca Bar." As in, pudding. Oh, and she's an intern at Vogue Knitting. Enough said.

Green Apples: because her knitting is absolutely beautiful and elegant and she always has something new to share.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, words, pictures, and lives. My life is richer because of you. Now, go pick five of your favorites and spread the love!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Knitting, Anyone?

Yes, I have been trying to distract you so you wouldn't notice the recent dearth of knitting in my posts. I have been knitting; I just haven't been knitting anything interesting. Icarus had a bit of an accident while I was at a SnB, and I only just tinked back and fixed the errors. Nothing new to show you there. The new jacket is not pleasing me. I'm just not loving the texture of the fabric. It's in timeout in the yarn closet and may not see the light of day again. (I knew I should have given it a name. I just can't get attached to something that doesn't have a name.) The twinset from "Knitting Lingerie Style" is going reasonably well, but with only the front completed, there's not much to show.

So how about some yarn pics?

Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in "silver sage," for this (it's worth clicking over to see, and there's a link to the free pattern):

More Cotton Fleece, this time in "teddy bear," for this:

This is "Grecian Plaits" from the new Knitter's. I think this is the first pattern from Knitter's that I've ever wanted to knit, and I want to knit it in a BIG way. The only thing that's kept me from casting on is the nagging suspicion that I would never actually wear it. I did buy yarn for it, though, so it will probably get made.

And Sea Silk in Lily Pond, for Swallowtail:

I've been coveting this yarn for a while. I'm not too sure about the colors. I bought it online, and from the picture it looked like just varying shades of green, but there's actually a lot of pink and blue in it, too. It's a little pastel-y for me, but I'm thinking the lace will probably blend it all together anyway. What do you think?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A New Low

Yes, people, I've hit a new low. Last night (Saturday night, to be exact) I was up late (11:00, to be exact again), and I got hungry. And somehow, I found myself standing in the kitchen with a cereal box in my hand, arguing with myself over whether it was okay to have a bowl of bran flakes before bed. Excuse me? Is this what I've been reduced to? My guilty "late night" snack on a Saturday night is a bowl of bran flakes?

What happened to Ben & Jerry's at 3 am? What happened to all-night chocolate binges? This is a family-oriented blog, so I won't even mention the other things that used to get consumed in large amounts when decent people were long-since sleeping.

I have accepted, with limited grace, some of the inevitable blows to my identity that have come with growing up, raising kids, and getting older. I drive an SUV instead of my old sports car, I wear reading glasses now, I have to get up at night to pee, and the grey hairs on my head have formed a union and started agitating for health care and prescription drug coverage. But I think I may have to draw the line at being titillated by sneaking bran flakes at night in the kitchen while the kids are sleeping. Enough is enough.

All of this got me to thinking about all of those moments in life when one's self-image comes into conflict with one's real life. You know: the homecoming queen who finds herself scrubbing floors to pay for college; the up-and-coming executive who buys a minivan when she has a baby; the older new mom who gets mistaken for her baby's grandmother. These moments must happen millions of times a day to different people. I started wondering what little events have stopped other people dead in their tracks and made them reconsider their understanding of themselves. So what do you say? Anyone want to share a (harmless) little anecdote about their own "new low"?

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Five Second Rule

Have you ever wondered what three pounds of Jelly Bellys looks like if you drop the container on the kitchen floor? Me neither. But trust me, three pounds is a lot of beans.

Most people I know adhere to some form of the Five Second Rule: you know, if you drop food on the floor, but you pick it up within five seconds, it's still good. Around here, we generally follow this rule more of necessity than by choice. If you drop food on the floor and don't pick it up within five seconds, a dog will get it, and the choice is no longer yours. Sophie is enjoying the beans I missed under the edge of the cabinets.

So here's the dilemma.

The beans that are still in the container never touched the floor. They are, by any standard, uncontaminated, and they pose no moral or dietary question. The small pile of beans on the right is clearly contaminated. These are the beans I fished out from under the refrigerator, or behind the door, or the ones that had an unacceptable amount of visible dog hair stuck to them. They are already in the trash.

But the pile on the left is causing me some trouble. These are the beans I picked up off the middle of the floor (which happened to be freshly vacuumed, but not mopped), away from the edges of the cabinets and refrigerator, where all things hairy and disgusting tend to accumulate. I can attest to the fact that they were not licked by the dogs, because they were within my sight at all times from the moment they hit the floor until the moment I scooped them up and placed them on the counter. They do not have any visible dog hair or other identifiable ickiness on them. To truly understand my dilemma, you must also understand that I love Jelly Bellys with an unreasonable passion, and that they are not cheap, as candy goes. Also, this was a brand new four pound container (oh, yeah, like you've never downed an entire package of Oreos at one sitting), and only about a pound now remains in the container.

So what do you think? Does the five second rule apply, or have I revealed a truly alarming lack of gustatory discretion and personal hygiene?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Amicable Separation

I thank you all for your words of concern regarding my decision to remain monogamous toward the baby blanket until it is done. I, too, had qualms about publicly declaring my intentions, especially since it is not true love. Not really even true like. Which, of course, is why it took five years and a desperate ultimatum, but I'm happy to announce:

It's done!

The more detail-oriented among you may realize that I waited to commit to knitting monogamy until I was only a few inches away from finishing, but seriously--did you really think I could keep it up for any significant amount of time? There is Cotton Fleece in the stash! There is Sea Silk! I am going on vacation in a couple of weeks, on a plane, without kids! What kind of fool would tie herself to just one project in the face of that sort of temptation?

And so, it's over. The baby blanket and I are officially separated. I don't know about the blanket's plans, but I'm going to fondle some silk.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Anyone Have a Baby I Can Borrow?

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, an old friend who lives far away just had her third baby--after neglecting to mention that she was pregnant for the entire previous nine months. This is the second friend who has done this this year--don't these people understand that I need time to knit?

Ordinarily, I would whip up a baby sweater in a couple of days and mail it off. But since it is summer in Georgia, where they live, it occurred to me mid-cast-on that a fuzzy, hooded sweater might not be all that useful. This is progress for me, since I usually only realize such things during the bind off. "No problem," I thought, "I'll make a sun dress." Several fruitless hours of internet- and library-searching for a pattern ensued. Finally I decided to just cast on and see what happened (this is code for "throw logic to the wind and deny everything I know about my knitting skills, then blame the yarn/needles/stars when the project doesn't work out").

This is what happened:

I don't hate it. It does look a little like a pastel lampshade, but I'm telling myself it's baby retro chic. I have no idea whether it will actually fit a human baby, since I based it on my own shaky recollection of the general size and shape of a new baby. It's been a few years since I've had one of my own, and I don't have any nearby friends with new babies. So unless I can find a baby to borrow, I'll just have to wait until it reaches its intended recipient. It's also a little heavy. Maybe a little more than a little heavy. The yarn is worsted weight cotton that I've had in the stash for long enough that I've forgotten how long I've had it. I know I've had it at least since my friend was pregnant with her first child, about five years ago, because I found this in the stash, along with the yarn:

This is a baby blanket I started for her first baby, but what with one thing and another, life and all that, I never quite got around to finishing it in time for her first child to use it. When she announced she was pregnant with her second child, I thought, "Great, this is the perfect opportunity to finish that blanket," and I pulled it out and worked on it some more. But, what with one thing and another, life and all that, I never quite got around to finishing it in time for that daughter either. So now, with the birth of a third daughter, I am convinced that the fates are giving me one more chance to redeem myself and finish the damned thing already.

I am plugging away at it--a task that is complicated by my having, somewhere, sometime, lost the pattern I was working from. It turns out that I have actually gotten good enough at playing with string that I was able to deconstruct the fabric and figure out the pattern. And since I have roughly enough of this horrid, heavy, pastel cotton to outfit every baby in town, there's no way I'm going to run out of yarn before I finish. I have made a deal with myself. Not a deal so much as an ultimatum. Until I finish this blanket and mail it off to its new owner, I will not knit anything else. Not a stitch of Icarus, not a row of the twinset, not even a cast-on for the two lovely summer projects that are just waiting for my attention. Not one thing.

Give me strength.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Still Here

I am still here, I promise. This is what I've been doing during the few hours that I haven't been herding large groups of small children, running ice cream parties, organizing end-of-year activities, chaperoning field trips, packing PTA stuff, making scrapbooks for teachers, and driving all over town looking for gifts, supplies, and last minute necessities.

I have managed to do some knitting, and I even have an FO to show you, but it still needs blocking. Maybe tomorrow...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ten Short Years

From this:

To this:

Happy Birthday, Boo!
I love you forever.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And Just Like That...

WIPs are everywhere!

I commented last week that one must have WIPs to have FOs. At the time, I had no WIPs to speak of, since I had just finished three projects. But now? Well, those WIPs are gearing up for a coup.

First, we have Icarus, of course. Moving along nicely. (Or at least, it was until this morning, when I tried to work on it during the first-ever meeting of my new SnB. While I have sufficient brain-power to talk, or to knit lace, I evidently do not have enough to do both at the same time. Icarus is now awaiting tinking back to figure out just where I started making yarnovers one stitch too early.)

Next, we have the new, as yet unnamed, jacket. I really love the colors and sparkle of the yarn. I'm not really loving the finished fabric. It's kind of heavy and inflexible, and the metallic thread makes it a little scratchy. There may be frogging in its future.

Then, there's this:

This is the the beginnings of this twin set from "Knitting Lingerie Style" that I felt compelled to cast on last night.

And this morning, an old friend called with the news that she just gave birth to her third child. (She's 43 and now has three kids under the age of five. Can you imagine?) I didn't even know she was pregnant, and I'm feeling bad about that, so I think a baby sweater is in order. I'll be casting that on later today.

My new books and yarns are due to arrive today and tomorrow, so I'm thinking this frenzy of casting on is far from over. Fortunately, I have a limited supply of needles, so I'll have to stop eventually. Or buy new needles.

P.S. If you haven't seen this yet, take three minutes and watch it now. It will brighten your day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stitches In Time

Why am I not knitting? The kids just won't stop growing. Here's what I've been doing instead:

Two new pairs of karate pants: check.
Four new hems: check.
One incompetent seamstress with sore fingers: check.
19 patches carefully removed from the old pants and transferred to the new ones: not quite.

It's no secret that I don't like to sew. I like mending even less. I only sew by hand, so this task is taking FOREVER. It's really cutting into my knitting time.

I have managed to make some progress on the new jacket (no name yet, sorry). After the dk weight Orange and the laceweight Icarus, I had almost forgotten how quickly heavy worsted knits up. Here's the back:

Maybe not the best choice of background. It doesn't really look like a bad tv test pattern in person.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Crack (Me Up) Saturday

This one's for you, Sophanne. (Be sure to scroll down for the picture on her blog.)

Me, circa 1983. Yes, I was in high school ROTC. No, that's not a perm.

Whadda ya say? Can anyone top this?

Friday, June 8, 2007

How I Spent My Day

June is always my hardest month. The end of school is rough. There are so many activities to plan, coordinate, supervise, or attend, it seems like I'm at the kids' school every day. Add Father's Day and my son's birthday into the mix, and it makes for one busy and stressful month. (Especially when my son forgets to hand out the birthday party invitations and the party is less than a week away. I'm trying to remind myself that it's not the end of the world, while simultaneously picturing a lonely and forlorn little boy, all alone at his own party.)

Today was "College Field Day." Our school is called the "No Excuses University," meaning there is no excuse for not being ready for college, academically, financially, whatever. We are a low-income school with lots of recent immigrants, so for many kids, there is no family history of going to college, and little emphasis at home on education. Our philosophy is that every child can and will work and learn and take responsibility for his or her own future. Our school has been incredibly successful at teaching at-risk kids--so successful, in fact, that our test scores are among the highest in the state, and we regularly have visitors from all over the world to tour our school and learn about our program. We were recently featured in a book about turning around failing schools (sorry, the link is currently missing from the school website, which is under construction). There are even eight other schools that have instituted our program so far and re-named themselves "No Excuses Universities." Not bad for only a few years.

In that vein, almost every activity we have ties into the college readiness theme. Each of our classrooms adopts a particular college, wears that school's colors, has that school's banner on its door, cheers for its sports teams, etc. Today, the kids got to compete in several exciting events for their schools' honor, including:

Kiddie hurdles...

Potato dropping...uh, relays...

And my personal favorite, tricycle racing.

I logged laps for the Jog-A-Thon, handed out water, and supervised the injured. It was my fifth school event for the week. Next week should be easier. I only have to help pack up thirty years of PTA files, supplies, costumes, property, and junk for storage while the school is being remodeled over the summer. How hard could it be?

I Couldn't Stand It

Yes, I did order new yarns and patterns. But it will be at least a week before they arrive, and the only thing on the needles is Icarus. I lasted almost a day before I raided the stash for something new.

I bought this yarn from the DeStash website a couple of months ago, and I've been looking forward to doing something fun with it for summer. It's a lot different than my usual yarn choices, but I couldn't resist the colors and the gold thread running through it (oooo...sparkly!). No existing patterns jumped out at me, so I decided (with only five minutes to go before "So You Think You Can Dance?" started) to do a little drapey jacket. I'm thinking a slightly cutaway shape at the front, three-quarter sleeves, in plain stockinette, with a ribbed or garter stitch edging all the way around and a narrow shawl-like collar. I'm not sure exactly how much yarn there is--the yardage is less than usual in this gauge, so I think I'll work the body and then make final decisions on the edging, sleeves, and collar based on how much yarn I have left. This could, of course, be a recipe for disaster, but that's what ball-winders are for. One of my favorite things about knitting is, no matter how badly things go wrong, you can always rip it out and start over. Wouldn't it be great it life came with a ball-winder?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Yarn Over...and over and over and over...

Thank you all for your comments about Orange. I've decided to leave it the way it is, since that seems to be the weight of opinion, and I do love it. I have learned, in the most difficult possible ways, that if something is working and you're happy, it's best not to mess with it. Change is not always improvement, and more is not always better.

Sometimes, though, more is simply necessary. Case in point:

Icarus is coming along swimmingly. After ten thousand repetitions, I have finally stopped making mistakes (oh, I shouldn't have said that). I'm guessing after another ten thousand repetitions, I will probably be knitting this in my sleep. And you know what? I love it. Why did it never occur to me before that knitting a shawl means no button bands, no sewing, and maybe four ends to weave in? It's as portable as a sock (for now) but with only one circular needle, and this pattern is as mindlessly relaxing as plain stockinette, but less monotonous. How cool!

Unfortunately, it occurs to me that posting picture after picture of Icarus in progress ("Here it is at six inches; now it's seven inches; look, eight inches!") could get a little boring for you guys. So, just for you and with absolutely no selfish motives whatsoever, I ordered a new pattern yesterday. And two knitting books. And some handpainted blue faced leicester. And some Sea Silk. See the lengths I'll go to for you? But since none of it has arrived yet, I can't show you. Does that make me a yarn tease?

(And Maureen? Yeah, hubby cooks. Sometimes he even cleans. That might be because I told him that foreplay to me means he does the dishes. Works for both of us.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sweet Orange

Here it is: my sweet Orange. And I love it. I loved it when I chose the pattern, when I bought the yarn, and all through its miles and miles of dk weight stockinette, and more miles and miles of garter stitch on size 3 needles. I didn't love it quite as much while I was sewing up its many seams and weaving in its many ends, but the course of true love has its bumps in the road. And now? I love it all the more.

I am having significant trouble getting a decent picture of it, as you can see. The yarn has some silk in it, which keeps reflecting and turning it into an orange blob in pictures. And that weirdness on the right side of the collar? That's not the sweater. That's my twisted neck. I must have moved. The above picture is the best I could persuade my husband to take (but then, he was making dinner at the time). You should see the ones I rejected.

Here's a mirror shot, which doesn't add much, but does give a slightly more accurate image of the burnt orange shade. It is burnt orange, not pumpkin, as it looks above.

Pattern: "Plaza" from Rowan Classic Cafe book one

Yarn: Queensland Uruguay dk (merino, alpaca, silk) in color #06

Size: 36

For once, I made no changes to the pattern. (Well, except for the yarn.) But here's where I need your advice. I think the cardigan is beautiful as it is. It is classic, fitted, and quite elegant. The pattern, however, actually calls for a kind of funky edging. See?

Initially, I thought the pattern was really cute, except for the edging. But over time, those curlicues started to grow on me, and I was looking forward to doing them. Now that it's done, though, I really do like it the way it is. So what do you think: curlicues or no curlicues?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Lace Lessons

I'm not going to claim victory over the yarnover, because that would be just asking the knitting goddess to smack me down hard, and I have way too far to go to risk that at this stage of the game. But look!

There is noticeable progress, and as far as I can tell, there are no remaining mistakes. (Ripping and re-knitting six times will do that for you.) I just finished Chart One--for the first time. I now have to repeat it five more times. And then there are three more charts. But I am still proud.

I am also in denial about the eventual edging, which looks way more complicated than the simple yarnovers and decreases that have befuddled me thus far, but that is a discussion for another day. For now, I'm going to celebrate by petting the angora I have in mind for my next project.

Friday, June 1, 2007


I decided a little break from the lace knitting might be in order. Maybe knitting lace is one of those things you need to sleep on for a night or two to give it time to soak into your subconscious.

My faithful Orange is benefiting from this timeout. Here it is, blocking out nicely on the kitchen counter:

And here it is, getting its left button band/collar.

This design (scroll down to find it) calls for the stitches for the button band to be cast on with each front section, knitted for a few rows, then placed on a stitch holder while the rest of the front is knitted. Then you go back, slip the stitches onto a needle, and knit the rest of the button band, increasing into a shawl collar. Finally, you have to sew the whole thing onto the sweater. This is not how I would have done it, had I the patience and foresight to read the entire pattern in advance and figure out how the thing was to be finished. I'm sure there's a good reason for doing it this way, but wouldn't it have been a lot easier to just knit the button band as part of the front and work short rows for the collar? That's how I would have done it. But maybe the designer likes eight-stitch rows and forty eight inches of sewing to attach the collar. Any way you slice it, it's still a vacation compared to the lace.