Saturday, February 27, 2010

FO: On The Road Pullover

This one is for my darling husband (also known as He Who Finances the Wool Habit). Like most guys, he wanted a plain, simple, dark pullover. Since I totally bailed on the sport weight, plain black stockinette, cashmere turtleneck I promised him two years ago (he did finally get a commercially-knitted one for Christmas), I decided to put the lovely Beaverslide I got on sale to use and made him this one instead. The knitting of this took less than two weeks and was mostly completed on the way to and from Lake Tahoe--hence the name.

Pattern: My own. Knitted bottom up, in the round to the chest, then flat, with a three-needle bind off at the shoulders. Sleeves were knitted separately, top down, flat for the first two inches to fit into the modified drop shoulder armscye, then joined and knitted in the round to the wrist. One of the things I love about top-down sleeves, especially those knitted in the round, is that it is easy to correct the length once the whole sweater is put together. In this case, once the whole sweater was put together, I decided to add an inch to each cuff. It was simple to take out the bind off and add a few rounds before binding off again. The body of the sweater is plain stockinette, with twisted 1x1 ribbing at the cuffs and collar. The chest and upper back are done in 4x2 ribbing for interest.

The collar was an inspiration. My husband likes rolled necks, but all the sweaters I've done for him have roll necks and I wanted to knit something different. A zip neck got the thumbs up for this one. I've never done one, so I worked it out as I went. Originally, it was going to be just a straight-up collar with a zipper the whole length. But as I knitted it, that seemed too floppy, so I decided to try turning the collar in on itself to make a double-thick, stand up collar.

I had to special order the zipper once the knitting was done and I could get an exact length (thanks again, Zipperstop!). I used a jeans zipper with metal teeth because I wanted something substantial to complement the rustic yarn and manly style. I'm very happy with the end result. For the record, I pinned the zipper so that the top end was halfway up the collar, sewed it in place by hand, then rolled the collar over and sewed it down. It took a few tried to get it pinned in right, but once that was done, the sewing was straightforward.

Size: 46". My husband has a 43" chest, so I thought this would give him plenty of ease, but I neglected to factor in his really buff shoulders, which take up a lot more room than I figured. So this is a more fitted sweater than I intended, but I still like the fit. More importantly, he considers it "perfect."

Yarn: Beaverslide merino/mohair in Natural Black. This was labeled 2-ply worsted, but I would call it an aran-bulky weight. My gauge was 16 stitches to 4 inches in stockinette on size 8 needles. This yarn was on clearance because it had an unusual amount of straw in it, even for a rustic yarn. Picking it out was a pain, and even after multiple pickings, I didn't get it all out. I expect we'll be picking it out for years to come. But the yarn is every bit as gorgeous as every other Beaverslide yarn I've tried, and bloomed into a soft, blurry, dense, warm fabric. This is the sort of yarn that gets better and better with age and wear and washing and lasts for years.

Needles: KnitPicks Options cirs, sizes 7 and 8.

Thoughts: Straw aside, I really enjoyed knitting this. Even though the design is simple, the yarn made the knitting a pleasure. I may have to buy some more Beaverslide in another color to make him something else!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Noro Jag

Ah, Spring. The time when a knitter's fancy turns to thoughts of Noro...or is that just me?

I'm on another Noro jag. Happens every once in a while. Remember last year's must-have Noro Giant Granny Square? This year it's the Noro Log Cabin Blanket. The need to make one of these (Rav link) bit hard while I was in Lake Tahoe. And thanks to the internet, even though I couldn't make my intended pilgrimage to Jimmy Beans Wool in Reno (seems some of the males in my household don't see the necessity of driving two hours round trip to visit a yarn shop from which I can order yarn online in a matter of seconds--party poopers, all of them), I discovered that Noro Yuzen has recently been put on clearance by a number of my favorite yarn pushers...uh, suppliers. I ordered mine from WEBS here, but it's also on sale at Little Knits.

This is a round about way of explaining that I bought a blanket's worth of Noro last week. Wanna make somethin' of it?

And here's the current progress:

I started two days ago and have discovered, despite all the other projects on the needles, that these little squares are a lot like potato chips: I can't have just one. In fact, I'm not sure anything else is going to get done until I've turned my entire supply of ever-changing Noro colorways into log cabin squares.

(Don't mind the wonkiness. I haven't blocked any of them yet.)

I bought two hanks each of ten different colorways. Each hank makes one 11-inch square on size 7 needles at 18 sts/4 inches in garter. Don't be fooled by the gauge listed on Noro yarns. It's always wrong. I don't know whether yarn gauge is measured differently in Japan or whether it's just a Noro thing, but I find the yarn is always at least one size larger than listed; in other words, this "dk" weight yarn is really a worsted/aran weight yarn.

In case anyone is of a similar mind, these squares are wicked easy to make. After the first one, you don't need anything resembling a pattern to whip them out, and you may not even have to look at your hands, if you can resist staring at the color changes.

I worked this one sitting in Younger Son's academic awards ceremony today (honor roll-yay!).

He's the one on the far right. Congratulations, Goober!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where I Want to Live

Dogs are my favorite people, but I could put up with the orangutan, too.

Click here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

As Promised... are blocking pics of The Enchanted Wood shawl!

We got home last night. After unpacking, doing laundry, reorganizing the storage room so we could get in to put away the ski equipment, and getting all the gear and clothing put away, I took a few minutes to soak and block this. [I sometimes read about people spending hours blocking lace, which leads me to believe I am less than particular about my blocking, because it never takes me more than a few minutes. But I digress.]

The pictures are, as usual, not great. The guest room, where I do my blocking, has poor lighting, and it's a grey day. That will soon change (the lighting, not the day, but more about that in another post), but for the time being, this is the best I could do.

Modeled pics coming soon!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My husband tells me it is high time I put up a new post. Alas, we are on vacation this week in Lake Tahoe and I am without camera cable. (Brought the camera and the charger--forgot the cable. Natch.)

I can report, although without corroborating pictures, that I have finished The Enchanted Wood Shawl! It needs blocking, which won't happen until I get home, but I think it turned out really well.

I am also most of the way through a new sweater for my dear husband, which I started about a week and a half ago and neglected to mention here. It is a zip neck pullover, mostly in plain stockinette, with modified drop shoulders, made from the Beaverslide merino I got on clearance recently. I love the yarn. Love. But it was on clearance because it had an unusual amount of straw in it. Unusual is sort of an understatement. When I wound the yarn, straw flew everywhere. When I knitted it, I got a lap full of straw. I have been picking straw out of the finished knitting as I go. And there is still more. I'm not sure it was worth the savings. If I ever get it all out, though, it will be a beautiful fabric. I will probably finish in before I get home, so I should have some modeled pics soon.

Younger Son is standing over me, snowboard-ready, so it's time to hit the slopes. Back in a few days!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Still Enchanting

These aren't the best pictures, but I wanted to show you I am still working away on the Enchanted Wood Shawl:

This picture was taken after I finished clue 3; now I'm about halfway through clue 4 and coming up on the finish. I think there is only one more clue left. The yarn is gorgeous (once again, my camera fails to do it justice) and the beads are a delight. I only wish I had started with the opposite color. I really wanted a shawl that was more green than blue, but since this is a mystery shawl, I had no way of knowing that the pattern was heavily weighted in favor of the starting colors, with a much smaller portion of the later colors actually used. Ah well. Live and learn. The blue is lovely, too.

In the closeup, you can see the pretty beads. They're really iridescent, with blue, purple, and green, just like the yarns. Once I get it blocked, I'll get some better pictures...I hope!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"My Favorite Birthday Party EVER!"

Younger Son is 10 today! Happy Birthday, Noodle!

Since today is Super Bowl Sunday, we had his birthday party last Sunday. Being a typical ten-year-old boy, his idea of birthday party nirvana was a paintball party at the local Marine Corps base. And this ideal party included every member of his family playing on his team--including Mom.

From left to right, that's Younger Son, Older Son, Oldest Son, Mom, and Dad. (Please ignore my shaggy grey hair. I haven't been to the stylist in a while.)

I would dearly love to show you the great picture of our backs, but I can't because they have our last name on them and my dear, paranoid husband won't let me display them on the internet. They also each have an individual number. From left to right (youngest to oldest), the numbers are 00, 97, 85, 69, and 57. Any guesses what they represent?

The shirts were Christmas gifts from Oldest Son, who had them made for the whole family. I just love that he did this. Even if I never play paintball again (and let me tell you, I won't if I have a choice), it's so cool to have family team shirts. It's cool that he thought of it in the first place. And the younger boys are so proud of their "real" paintball jerseys!

The party was awesome. The kids absolutely loved it. The title quote is from one of the boys' friends who had never played before. The paintball park is boy heaven. There are multiple fields and hundreds of men and boys in camouflage--some of them waaaaaay too into it, too, let me tell ya--and lots of mud and paint and running and crawling and shooting. All day. From 7:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. What's not to like? (I mean, other than the camouflage, mud, paint, running, crawling, and shooting all day.) I think I saw a couple of other women, but I'm not sure. They might just have been small, chubby men. It's hard to tell under all that mud and paint.

The saving grace, for me, was that my husband wisely scheduled us as a private party, meaning our group played on its own field instead of in the general melee of the walk-on fields. At one point, I looked over at a walk-on field and saw two groups of about 40 people each running at each other and shooting. It looked like something out of "300". People were screaming and falling right and left. It wasn't pretty. Our group was much, much smaller, and involved a lot more strategy. After the first time I got shot in the body--as opposed to the face mask, hand, or gun--which left a black and purple bruise the size of a tennis ball on my hip, my strategy mostly ran to hiding behind things and waiting for the time to run out. As a matter of fact, at one point, of...fell asleep behind a bunker and when I woke up, everyone was gone!

By lunch time, the crouching, crawling, running, tripping, shooting, and getting shot had taken its toll. I was sore, stiff, and bruised, most of the skin was worn off my knees, and I was covered in paint and mud. While the troops were enjoying their pizza, I quietly used my cell phone to call and schedule a chiropractor visit and spa massage for the following morning. That was a good decision, considering it took me three tries to get out of the car when we got home. And even though I went to bed at 8:30 that night, my kids still think I'm a stud for playing paint ball, so it was worth it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Little Changes...

...make a big difference.

Last year, my best friend gave me her old outdoor dining set. She had recently moved, and it didn't work with her new yard. The original marble top had been broken in the move, so I bought a round of plywood and had a hole cut in the middle for a drop-in propane fire pit. After a couple coats of paint, it made a nice tabletop. The chairs are an odd shape, so they have custom cushioned seats. The seats were sturdy enough, but the fabric was several years old and pretty drab and stained.

I didn't do anything with them last summer, because between caring for the puppies, getting the pool remodeled, building the deck, replanting the yard, and refurbishing the table, I just ran out of steam. But last week I brought the chair cushions in before a storm and decided I couldn't live with them anymore. A few minutes and a little online clicking later, I had new fabric on its way, and this morning I recovered the chairs.

An hour and a half and $14 later, they went from this:

To this:

I love the fabric. It is a Waverly outdoor fabric which is supposed to be resistant to water, sun, mildew, etc. Red is my favorite color, and I use this particular dark red as my main accent color in the garden. The beige tones match my umbrellas and the cushions on my lounge chairs.

On the off chance you've never done it, recovering seats is super easy. You just cut a piece of fabric large enough to wrap around the seat and use a staple gun to fasten the fabric to the wooden seat bottom, sides first, then ease the corners, like wrapping a package, and staple them. Cut off any excess fabric, and you're done!

And check this out:

Huge difference for my outdoor dining area!