Friday, August 28, 2009

UFO Friday - Another finish!!

Yay, photos work today!!!

So, Monday last, I found some yarn and a pattern, and started to make a smoke ring for myself (the pattern, "Silken Smoke Ring" by Angela Ho and Flora Yang, is free over on Elan. Since it's made with my usual garish color choices, I'm calling it "Rainbow Mist" instead of a smoke ring. Anyway, here's how it's gone so far, in photos:

best shot of actual colors




Thursday close-up




... and it fits!

Yep, it's done, and in under a week! Yaaaaaay!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yarn on Thursday: Little Cotton Sweatbands...?

This week, instead of photos, it's all about Links for a change (and because various computer components are making photos difficult this morning). This was going to be a bedsock pattern, but I realized that the photos & drawings I have don't look terribly good, and if I make it All Spiffy(tm), then I can actually put it out on Ravelry as a free download. (Plus, there's that whole "can't upload 'em right now anyway.) So, a wee bit of waiting on that. Instead, it's going to be about...

Knitted Sweatbands.

Yes, you read that right. Having knitted my husband a scarf, a hat, and a pair of bedsocks, he decided that I knit him things, and what he really needs is a bunch of sweatbands for working out, since he keeps losing his, or they disintegrate in the wash. Terrycloth pleases him not. So, after a brief shout-out on Twitter, the answer came back - "Cotton." This got me thinking - didn't CAT & Eric do a "which cotton holds up best and is most absorbent for dishcloth-making" episode over at LetsKnit2gether? They sure did, the Discloth Face-Off! (It's not on YouTube yet, or I'd just embed it here. Totally worth watching, though!)

So, I watched the episode again. The yarns carefully tested for absorbency and durability were Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn, Herrschner's Village Yarn Craft Cotton, Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille, Knit Picks Shine Worsted, Peaches and Creme, and Lion Cotton. All these yarns are easy for me to obtain, and are the ones I'd be most likely to pick up.

There was a clear winner!!

So, having decided on the yarn based on their recommendation and test (no, I'm not telling you, watch the episode, it's fun!), it was a case of coming up with a pattern that wasn't too floofy. Ravelry to the rescue! First up, The Reformed Pirate's offering - skulls & checkerboard. Not floofy at all! Another designer Synnoves (Finland, I think...) has a Pirate Headband, too. Happy Yellow House has a basic crocheted ribbed band, which is a definite must to try - one of the models on Ravelry is out of camo-yarn. That's not floofy! Sandy Montag's Simple Double-Knit Headband (Ravelry link) is a definite go, since it would work great with Sport Team Colors. So, lots of possibilities for a sweatband-type thing for my husband.

Of course, while I was looking, I also spotted some things I'd like to try - this Nordic headband by Heidi; this Argyle headband by Lady Spankington; Mollie's Radical Headband (I must track down some Dalegren Falk Neon yarn!) - although this would work for me or my spouse, depending on which neon colors were employed; Michele's Entrelac Ski Band would also work for either of us.

Have fun clicking through the links, and hopefully, the photography option will be restored by tomorrow!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A really STARTLING shade of pink, with chrome!

I just have to share these shoes with you. No, I did not buy them. But they'd match my new smoke ring.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Other Crafts Tuesday: Quilting!

So, this weekend, in between Waiting for Friends and Driving to See Friends (and amazingly adorable baby), I found myself looking at a shelf I'd forgotten I had. There were projects on it. One of them was a red/gold/green marbled-fabric chessboard, hand pieced, hand quilted. Or, rather, it would be hand-pieced and hand quilted, if I'd ever gotten around to finishing it.

When I had last put it away, I had carefully laid out the pieces, in order (remember, this is sixty-four small squares), and rolled up the paper towels. Since I had various blocks sewn together, more or less, in groups of four or more, I used two sets of towels, marking one "RIGHT" and one "LEFT".

(I even blogged about it, which I'd forgotten.) See, before, I was just carrying around some quilting needles, a small bag of fabric squares, and some embroidery floss left over from other projects that wasn't quite enough to use for anything *but* hand piecing, because it wouldn't last long in a cross-stitch project. (Maybe a TW - sometimes, you just need a few stitches in a particular color.) So, when trying to make sure that Block-of-Six-A didn't have the same colors side-by-side as Block-of-Four-B, I could give myself kittens.

This time, when I unrolled the paper towel, I could see which seams still needed to be done, and as long as I made note of which corner would be "up" and "left" of the seamed set, I was fine. Everything went swimmingly - so, I did a few seams Friday, a few Saturday, a few Sunday, and the FINAL ONE on Monday.

Then I needed to find some batting and something for backing. Now, I know these things are in my house. I even have a pretty good idea *where* they are in my house... they're just completely inaccessible at the moment. For a while, they weren't - I had the batting and such out in the main room, just in case I suddenly needed to quilt something, or stuff, say, a small knitted rabbit. Oh, and some binding. Something shiny and festive. And the gold thread I was going to use to quilt the design on would be nice, too, and the vanishing marking pen for the drawing thereof... all these things, and I can't reach any of them, but I really COULD finish this thing before the end of August! So, what did I do?

I ACTUALLY FOUND IT! I was able to reach, from the doorway of the craft room, both a roll of batting (the kind I actually wanted!) and the cloth I got at the 2008 Quilters' Expo. Of that cloth, there were two bundles of green, and of the "less olive-y" bunch, there were two almost identical pieces, so one of them is the backing - you can see it around the pieced board above. Really, it's a miracle I was able to find ANYTHING when I needed it in my craft room.

Anyway, I commenced the actual quilting, with the help of the right-sized set of Q-Snaps (ALSO FOUND!!!!), and just need to pick up some shiny gold binding on Saturday morning, and I think I'll FINALLY have one of my quilting UFOs off The List!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Masters Monday, Week 11 - Delaying Tactics?

Hrm. Well, last week didn't quite go as planned. I never did quite get around to weaving in my ends, but at least I figured out why: I've got the identifying tag for each swatch attached via the tail that needs to be weaved in. So, I really need to get going on making my tags first, it seems. So, this morning, I made up a set of labels for each swatch for the "back side" of my cards. I opted for large, brightly-colored index cards as my tags, since the information I needed to put on my "Basics, Basics, Basics" tags barely fit on the tags I had - and I need more information on there this time around!

I also churned out Yet Another copy of what I needed on each tag, swatch by swatch. Cast on, rib, pattern, increase, decrease, cast off. That sort of thing. (Yes, that is what I knew I needed to do last week, but didn't.)
ID tag:


Actual Informative Tag:

Y'know what? It would've been SOOOOO much easier if I'd just made up this tag template first. This tells me what references I'll need for each swatch, right there, in an easy-to-not-panic-about format. I can look at my swatch, see what I did, and jot in the reference(s) I used for each thing. By the time I've gone through the references for my tags, I'll have 70%-80% of my questions done as well. Why, oh why, didn't I think of this at some time other than "Monday morning, at work, when I can't possibly look at my knitting?"

In addition, I noted that it says, specifically, that swatches should be in TOP-loading pages. I got some side-loading pages, since I thought that would be safer - but I've heard again and again that if the directions say to do X, do X or else! So, I'll use my lovely side-loading pages for my questions, etc., since it doesn't say that *those* need to be removed easily.

I was also bad - I renewed my library books. I now have two more weekends with them, and THIS time, I'm going to get everything done!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The UFO report...

Um, well, some things are getting done. Since I finished absolutely NOTHING in July, I'm hoping to get a really high number of finishes in August. So far, I've got the Floofy Bed Socks with Flower:

The Dream Swatch Head Scarf, which, as you can see, was finished on the trip to Ohio:

Simple Flat-Knit Bedsocks (pattern will be up next week):

... and I accidentally started a smoke ring on Tuesday. (I had to - it was the Let's Knit2gether August knit along, but I didn't realize it was until Monday, and trust me, it was SOME GIANT THING to actually be able to find yarn and needles in the stash room believe me you it was NOT EASY to start this project really it wasn't!) It's in very "me" colors, and not anything resembling any sort of smoke I've ever seen.

(I'm pretty sure if you see smoke that color, you're supposed to hold your breath while running as fast as you can in the opposite direction.)

I also pulled out a quilting project (a small Christmas-colored chessboard) tha I haven't worked on for a while, a cross-stitch project I packed to take to my sister's wedding last June, and it lived in the suitcase until I packed for the drive to Ohio, and looked - frequently - at my hot-pink merino shawl project, but never quite took it out of the bag.

But hey: three finished projects so far in August does NOT suck!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yarn on Thursday: Contemplating (briefly) the Tennis Sweater

So, before everything went all higgeldy-piggledy in August, I caught this in the local Ralph Lauren Polo window:

It's a tennis sweater, but NOT a tennis sweater. See, I know tennis sweaters. In my life, my parents had a matched set of Tennis Sweaters which they wore to - gasp! - play tennis. Even in Atlanta, in the summer. Because that was what one wore to play tennis. Example: Here's Actor Robert Taylor in 1937 (photograph by Rex Hardy, Jr.).

That, my dears, is a proper tennis sweater, properly worn, as it was since my great-granddaddy's day - and I know this, because In his blog, Properly Askew, Ralph DiGennaro has a piece on why this particular fashion statement became popular: King Edward VIII, back when he was Prince of Wales (and long, long before he became the Duke of Windsor. Google what happened if you don't already know). If you think about it, the then-Prince was one of the, if not THE, megacelebrities of his day. If he wore something, it was automatically The Done Thing, and everyone copied. Since my great-granddaddy shares a birthday with the Duke, I can make the "since his day" comment. So there. Anyway, this is what I grew up with:

And, since I was a teenager in the early 80's, I got a copy of The Official Preppy Handbook (OMG, was it really only $4.95???). I'm pretty sure I laughed myself silly reading it, since I dressed prep to school, but definitely didn't have The Attitude - and had alternate clothes stashed in my locker most days. Thankfully, my mother never figured this out - or if she did, she let me "get away" with it. (This is the same woman who made an unholy fuss about me having different colored nail polish on every nail, knowing I'd then spend an unbelievable amount of energy finding every color of nail polish I could, and hours making sure my nails were perfect. Instead of getting into a million other sorts of trouble that, you know, she might actually *care* about. Crafty, she is, like a FOX.)

Left un-shrunk so you can read some of the cover...

Tennis Sweaters are a subject to study, believe me. I'm pretty sure I had this, or something close to it:

I at least wore a skirt with mine. Or possibly Chinos.
And yes, it had shoulder pads. IT WAS THE 80's.

What this all means is that, at some point, I'm going to haul out some orange yarn and two high-contrast colors (think "navy" and "white") and make myself one hell of a tennis sweater. I'm thinking.... 2015?

Okay, it may more properly turn out to be a "football" sweater - but it will LOOK like a tennis sweater. Go Broncos!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ohio: There and Back Again

So, weekend before last was a long, long drive up to Ohio for the funeral of my husband's longest-surviving grandparent, his dad's mother. (I've been out of grandparents since the last millennium. No bets as to which - me or him - will live longest, it's already pretty clear. Yes, I'm a touch macabre just now.) A really long drive - I finished something on the way up, which I should've worn to the funeral, but didn't think of. (Thankfully, my MIL had a pretty pink scarf she loaned me.)

The service was lovely, with lots of weepy hymns. My husband was one of the pallbearers, along with his brother and our brother-in-law, and three others who are probably related to me. (My family? Five people, me included, and I only know where my parents are - I've lost a cousin and an uncle. His? BIG. And spread all over the country.) After the funeral mass and the graveside service, we went to his uncle's house, and all the kids found the pool:

shot through a screen to protect tiny identities
not that the resolution on this camera is so good that I was actually concerned

It was hot, and we hadn't brought anything but fancy clothes with us to the church, so we wandered back to the hotel and nap. While wandering (okay, there was a bridge out, and we got a little lost), we found this, which won as Coolest Gadget Ever. We were wondering why we don't see them on the east coast, but after being back in the DC traffic for a week, I realized that the drivers here would just drive through anything they didn't have to worry about killing. Anywhere, here is the cool thing:

Once we found our way to roads I recognized, we made note of a 5 Guys (Best burgers. Ever.) and, of course, a Michaels. Once we woke up, we went to both. Here's me in front of the 5 Guys:

... and here's me in front of the Michaels. Can you tell the sun was (a) setting and (b) really, really strong?

I'm not used to this "see to the horizon, ooo, look, the earth curves!" stuff. There should be mountains between me and the sun at all times - cuts down on this "ow, sun in my eye!" thing. (Yes, yarn was purchased, more on that later.) We also hit the Rite Aid, which had two cool things. First, our NASCAR guy (Clint Bowyer), plastered all over a product. Now that he's not the Jack Daniels guy, we'll be seeing more of him in our local supermarkets and drug stores.

Clint Bowyer, #33

Second, this aisle is pretty much what I eat. I'm all about "I can carry it to work and reheat it in a microwave and eat it in the five minutes I have to prep food before someone finds me to do something."

The hotel was spiffy; it was odd to be in a place where everything was labeled in English and French (as opposed to Spanish) again. Odd, but nice to see I can still read basic survival French. And still recognized all the French cuss-words that the cleaning crews were tossing back and forth - they weren't fans of the way most patrons left their rooms. There was some really, REALLY cool fused-glass art in the halls of the hotel. I even found a gryphon (sort of):

We managed to dodge a LOT of weather by napping during some really impressive thunderstorms and leaving the hotel at 4am. When we got to the rest stop at the state line, they had a nifty little screen-update widget running on the wall of the McDonald's. (Yeah, I know, I should've used a better camera, so you could see shots of a screen in a rest stop you'll probably never have to go to.) Also discovered that there are hotels near Kennywood (roughly exit 57) - for a trip sometime in the next few years.

You can see Pittsburgh here.
But not the giant storm we were about to drive through.

Also, finally saw a fully-restored 1940s Fire Chief's car at a Hardee's in Pennsylvania. I really wish I'd had the good camera for this one, it was gorgeous!

The Hardee's itself had this picture of Zebra Dreaming of the Blue Mountain... which I think might have been in the Hardee's near where I grew up. I saw it, and instantly felt eight years old again, so I think it triggered something. (Hardee's was The Big Treat when I was little. We didn't have a McDonalds anywhere nearby, but there was a Hardee's! I report, sadly, that THAT particular Hardee's... is now a McDonalds.)

Yeah, there was a lot of knitting happening, and yarn was purchased - but I managed to get you to scroll through my "vacation" photos anyway. The yarn stuff will be mentioned later. Nyah!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sock Summit Solidarity Socks

The saga of my Sock Summit Solidarity Socks fits nicely on "Other Crafts Tuesday," since they're crocheted. Sock Summit, if you somehow missed it, is this wonderfully huge gathering of teachers, designers, spinners, dyers, writers, vendors, knitters, crocheters, etc. etc. etc., all of whom deal with some aspect of sock creation (or are just interesting in seeing what all the fuss is about - the catchphrase is "Taking Sock Knitting Almost Too Far!"). It was an amazing success by all accounts, and I'm looking forward to trying to get to one some year. But, since I couldn't go this year, I decided, by gum, I was gonna make a pair of socks while it was happening!

To this end, Thursday night, I created a working copy of Cookie A's "Rick" socks (yeah, I bought another knitting book), and Friday morning, I attempted to find some sock yarn in the craft room. This should be pretty easy, right, since there's a LOT of sock yarn in there?

WRONG. One of the bins-of-tote-bags had slid off its stack, and wedged itself between the shelf behind the door and the door in such a way that the door opens approximately eight inches. (My toes will fit in. The rest of me won't.) Since I had about three minutes to find something, I grabbed what I could reach: some Bernat Soft super-chunky yarn I'd scored at the local Dollar Tree, and managed to find my big Crystalite crochet hooks. Thus, crochet was gonna happen. With three skeins of big, chunky soft yarn (two purple, one pink), it spoke to me - screamed, really - and said I WILL BE BEDSOCKS.

Okay, bedsocks it would be. Here's the yarn, Friday morning, when I arrived at work:

I was going to knit them using the Ribbed Sock pattern, but I ended up winging it way more than that. Basically, I crocheted a big rectangle, then seamed it to include a heel. (I have a knitted pair of Laura Ashley bedsocks from the 80s that did something similar.) By Friday, at lunch, I had the foot part of one sock:

... and about halfway home on the train, I'd finished the second one. Yeah, about 40 minutes of total crochet time there, what with the chunky yarn and getting my hands to re-learn what they were supposed to be doing. So, here they are on the train home:

It was time to put on some sort of cuff so they'd stay on. I went with picking up one stitch per "ridge" (see Linda's pattern, linked above, for what I mean by "ridge"). Here are the socks at the Metro station at the end of the trip:

I did the cuff by dc-ing around four times, then folded the cuff over and chained it down. Here are shots of the socks with cuffs,
Friday evening, later:


They were missing something, though, and I still had a lot of pink yarn left. So, I decided to make some flowers. Something big, and floofy, and daisy-like. I completely winged it on these, and was gonna write down the pattern while I still remembered it, because I kinda like how they turned out - but that so didn't happen. So, by Friday evening, later than that last photo, I had some floofly little flowers:

... and by Friday evening, really, really late, I had finished bedsocks:

So, bedsocks in one day, and I'm pretty sure I was asleep by 2 am. (This is only 11pm Sock Summit Time, so I didn't stay up all that late.) If I'd know for sure that I'd be headed to Ohio for a funeral shortly, I probably wouldn't have stayed up so late, but it was nice to have some toasty warm bedsocks in the strange hotel outside Cleveland!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Masters Monday: Week 10 (with nothing done weeks 6-9)

Thanks for the good wishes to the family, folks.

Getting back on track with my work on the Masters, finally. Tuesday before last, I had to hit the allergist (I had a mild, but odd, reaction to an Unknown Trigger), and afterward I went to the library between the allergists' office and home as a treat. I found the following bonanza of knitting-related research materials:

This is June Hemmons Hiatt's much sought-after book. As in goes for INSANE amounts on eBay. (I should note that rare knitting books don't tend to disappear from the library system, because a "lost" book means you pay the library whatever it costs THEM to replace the book. Usually, it's much cheaper to get it yourself!) The library copy is much-loved, annotated (NOT officially), dogeared, and clearly much-used. I pored through it that afternoon, marking page after page with Post-It notes, so I'd have yet more reference sources for my Answers. This book says things others don't - like what, exactly, the ratio of rows to stitches for various patterns are likely to be!

I also got my paws on this:

Vogue Knitting can be a trip to find. I have the Quick Reference Guide, and was planning on using it as a reference, but I'll be looking through this book as well. Since I have both for a limited time - two more weeks - I decided I'd best get hopping so I'd have time to double-check my references while I still had the books at hand! (Since I've been on the list to get Principles for a whole lotta months now, I'm not counting on being able to get it back before I'm ready to turn everything in!)

It was hot, hot, HOT in DC this weekend, but we had to make up some time/chores from being in Ohio, so the plan for this week is to stay indoors at lunch & after work, and drag out all my swatches. Time to read the instructions for each One Last Time, and weave in all the tails, and commence blocking. I mean, really. It's been a MONTH now since I've done anything (although the last three weeks, kinda understandable, what with a bad allergy reaction, funeral out of state, and recovery from it all). So, today, I brought my Bag of Finished Swatches with me:

Sixteen swatches and a pom-pom-less Hat

Now, to print out ANOTHER set of instructions, and figure out what I need for my reference cards (aka 'what I need to make sure I did correctly on the swatch')...!