Friday, December 21, 2007

I think I'm going to make it!

I am still suffering under the delusion that Christmas will still somehow come together. Despite the fact that I am nearly manic, I think this is normal.

The great Clog Capade of 2007 is finally over. I had the foresight to take a picture of all of them together before I started wrapping

Okay, technically they still aren't wrapped and this picture doesn't include my husband's since he was wearing them at the time and I try not to rip things off of people's feet for pictures. It so seems like there were more than 12 pairs. As you can see from the picture though, that's all there is. Wow, so glad that's over. Now if only I had a pair for myself.

I removed my mom's scarf from the list. Don't worry, she's getting other things instead, like the homemade sugar body scrub I made for her and my grandma this morning. While baking cookies. What? I think it's perfectly normal to have about 18 things going on in your kitchen at once. I am making dinner, blogging and baking right now. So what?

I think I must get that from my mother since I was at her house last week to help her get her baking done and we had about 6 different kinds of cookies and dinner going at once.

I did end up adding the other two flame hats but I don't want to spoil surprises so I won't post a picture of them but the second one is almost finished so I think that's gonna be okay. I also finished this:

What's that you say? Why would you go to all the trouble of making a purse for a gift when you could find one almost exactly like it at the store? Well, here's why.

The purses from the store don't have cute little piratesque skull and crossbone linings. The lovely young lady to whom this will be gifted is a teenager and going through a bit of a goth phase. I thought a purse that looks nice and "adult" on the outside and had a little bit of a "surprise" inside would be appreciated and her parents wouldn't object. Despite issues with my sewing machine in which it very nearly took a nice flight through the bedroom window since I couldn't get the tension right, I finished this and somehow managed to finish my niece's care bears blanket done as well.

I didn't take a picture of the dragon picture (which is finished, framed and wrapped) but I will try to remember to get a picture when it is opened.
So to recap; the only things left to knit are to finish the flame hat and finished my dad's socks. (I've barely started the second one) I still see glimmers of hope.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Things are looking up

So, things have vastly improved since my dismal Friday post. I have gotten better about almost everything. I have a nasty skritchy throat and I think it may be a cold trying desperately to get it's hooks into me, but I am fighting hard with a sock around my neck at night and some nice hot tea. (Don't tell me you've never heard of the sock/neck thing. You take a long, old sock and wrap it around your neck and pin it with a safety pin while you sleep. It helps to insulate your neck and makes me feel infinitely better in the morning. I sometimes put a little Mentholatum on my neck first but they don't recommend this.)

I have finished and felted my little niece's clogs
Shown here lounging on a standing and as-yet undecorated tree. My husband wants to help and he's off tomorrow so we will do it then. I had a little trouble getting the top to felt at the same rate as the bottom so I had to do a little hand-felting in the sink. I think they will be okay though. (The white sticking out is a plastic Wal-mart bag I stuffed inside to help keep their shape as they dried.)
With the completion of these, (for my older niece) I think I am done with this pattern for awhile. (I will not say for sure because I know what will happen if I do. I will be back at the needles with it.) I love this pattern. These are the Fiber Trends Felted Clogs but I have knit it about 12 times this year and I'm so burned out on it. These have a date with my washing machine later today. (I am felting the children's ahead of time so they don't have to wait to wear them and also so they can have a design of fabric paint painted onto the bottoms for non-skid reasons.)

I am apparently on a roll because these are done too.
They are for my mom's friend Teri who is like a second mom. I think she will really like them.
I am currently working on some yellow "daisy" colored dishcloths for my sister-in-law and when I have finished them, I will be using the needles for more flame hats. These are too boring for pictures though so I will spare you.
The fate of the branching out scarf has been decided. It's been frogged and I have a date with the yarn store on Friday to get more. It's last on my list though since I have other gifts for my mom and she would understand if she didn't get a scarf.
Back to the grind.

Friday, December 07, 2007

In Which, I try

So, I try to be a better, more organized person. I rarely succeed but I do try. The following are the ways in which I try.
1. I try not to be addicted to caffeine.
Success Rate: Snowball's chance in hell.
Why: My family is huge for coffee drinking. Like by the pot coffee drinking, I have never gotten big on this bandwagon. My mom will drink a cup of coffee directly before bed. I don't know how she does this except that maybe she has built up such a tolerance to it that it no longer affects her. Who knows. My issue is that I tend to have a little trouble sleeping. Okay, that's kind of an understatement. I have enough trouble right now when I can pretty much sleep whenever I want to. I hate being tired and try to get enough sleep each night. This means I will try to go to bed at a decent time and I have resorted to setting the sleep timer on the TV so it can play long enough for my brain to be distracted and let me relax. (Please don't lecture me on this, I know it's bad but I don't know what else to do.) So, this week, since I have been spending much time at home and I have been drinking some coffee. For me, this usually means a cup or two a day. I have a smallish kind of unique pot and I make a bit and drink it. Yesterday, I exceeded this "bit" by about 4 cups. I felt like I was flying yesterday afternoon. Luckily there were no illegal drugs involved or I'm sure I would have been one of those people that jumps off the roof because they think they can fly. I am now hopelessly in need of coffee, despite it being 2:00 in the afternoon. I need to stop, I know this, I have. (I only drank 3 cups today) I feel the need for caffeine. I'm hopeless

2. The scarf for my lovely mother.
Success Rate: Pfffft. I don't want to talk about it.
Why: The scarf I wanted to make was this one: Branching out I think it is lovely but the yarn was not cooperating with me. I knit about 5 repeats of the pattern and decided that the only way I should continue with a yarn that I wasn't particularly fond of was to block it and see if it was as gorgeous as it should have been. If it was, then I would continue and ignore the whiny part of my brain that says the yarn isn't nice. I blocked it on the needles. It didn't look good. Oh, the lacy part was fine but the bottom had this little swoop that didn't block out. I didn't like it. The only thing I could think that might hide it was fringe and I don't think fringe would look good on this scarf (I think it would cheapen a very nice lace pattern) So I frogged it. Sigh, back to the drawing board.

3. Knit Night
Success Rate: In the dumps
Why: I make these plans. "I should make more knitting friends. The lovely lady at the yarn store is getting to know me by name. I should go to knit night. It is this week after all and wouldn't it be nice to make some friends who knit (in real life)." I tell my husband I'm going to go. (He goes over to a friend's house on Thursdays so he doesn't care.) He encourages me to go. Then the day arrives. I think, I'll get these socks to a point where I don't have to pay attention to what I'm doing and I can visit. Then I don't get dressed very well (my ratty sweatpants and a comfy t-shirt that does not match.) So I would have to change in order to go (at least the pants) Then I get self-conscious because I don't know the people. Then I think about driving 20 miles one way for two hours of knitting and the fact that I want to buy yarn if I go to the yarn store (especially since the yarn for my mom's scarf is not making me happy.) I am trying to save money for Christmas gifts so I am trying to be better about buying things. This strategy will not work. I decide to stay home. I watch more Law & Order (still) until I'm pretty bored and kinda paranoid. Then I go to bed upset with myself that I didn't go. (I think the majority of it is that I don't know the people and I get totally shy.) Well, there's always the next knit night.

Enough with my dissapointments in myself for today. I drew a pretty nice dragon picture for my stepsister last night so all that remains is to color and frame it. we'll see how far that gets today, right now the socks are calling my name. Later.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Law & Order Overload

I don't have much to say today. Due to the recent snow and the money spent on Christmas gifts, I have been spending much time at home. This means that I am drinking more coffee than is probably wise and am getting a little bit stir crazy. Luckily, tonight is knit night at my LYS. Uniquely Knit. I am probably (my shyness sometimes prevents me from going to things like this where I don't know people) going to go. This means I should probably stop drinking coffee or I will be shaking too much to knit.
I would also like to thank the lovely people at USA Network for their Law & Order: SVU marathons yesterday and today, it's making for lovely knitting time. While I am enjoying it, I'm starting to think of everything in terms of criminal investigations. It might be time to change the channel. Probably not though.
I am trying to work on the radioactive pink scarf but I'm not thrilled with the yarn. It's absolutely not stretchy at all, worse than cotton. It also kinda flattens out on the needles, making it difficult to knit. I am still working on it, but I can tell I don't like it since I cleaned the spice rack instead of knitting it. This makes sense if you understand my unusual household cleaning style. I put off cleaning the bathroom for two weeks because I didn't feel like it. I knew no one else would do it and it had to be done. I finally did yesterday, I even washed the bath mat. I will suddenly get an itch to clean and will rip something completely apart to clean it. This is especially true if I am avoiding doing something else. Or I'm bored. With all the knitting, I usually don't get bored that often. That would explain the state of my home.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What am I nuts?!

So, apparently I am hopped up on Merino because I am trouncing through the Christmas list. I have these to show for it

They are Rotating rib socks knit for my brother-in-law TJ. I am so thankful these wretched things are done. The yarn (2 skeins Knit Picks Essential in Terrain Twist) was lovely but the colors were not what I thought they were when I originally ordered and so I was kinda disappointed. I knit them anyway and I think he will like them as he's very outdoorsy and hunterish and these are fairly close to camoflage. I am sick, sick, sick of the colors though. Please also note how the rib rotates the opposite direction on the socks. So symmetrical.
I also knit the cutest thing ever:

These are both Fiber Trends Felted clogs in John Deere colors for a dad and son. The son is only two and after completely burning myself out on this lovely pattern, I have to say I love the child's size. It's so small and quick that you barely notice it and it's done. Super cute too. I know I am breaking several rules about what colors men wear and also what colors men wear on their feet, but since they are their favorite farm equipment's colors, I think they will accept. Only time will tell.

I am also over half done with the socks for my mom's friend Teri who is practically a second mom to me. Here is my proof.

The reason I only have one set of socks on the needles which is pretty unusual for me is to be explained by this:

Does this look like a happy set of dpns to you? Thanks dear hubby for sitting on it and breaking it. I could try knitting the other socks on 4 instead of 5 dpns but I don't really like to do that. It usually gets laddered for me so I will share one needle between the two or wait until this one pair is done to start the other. We'll see I guess. I think I will get impatient with only one pair on the needles.

What's that? I'm getting close to done you say?
No, I ran into town today for another skein of black to finish the endless parade of felted clogs and got this. I don't know why it looks radioactive in this picture but it's really a bright fuschia yarn that is supposed to be a scarf for my mother. (That's her favorite color) Now I'm adding projects? I don't get it. I am this close to Christmas and I'm getting cocky? Help me please.
I'm also thinking about adding another flame hat or maybe two to my list. What is wrong with me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pattern for the Flame Hat

It was requested of me to make a pattern for the Flame Hat so here goes.

Double-Knitted Flame Hat
Notes: You could just knit this as fair isle, but its intended recipient, works outside so I wanted it to be extra warm and double-knitted it. You could also use other colors if you are so inclined. I was thinking about knitting a Black and Blue one for my hubby who loves Blue.
Materials: 1 ball Patons Classic Wool Merino Black, 1 ball Patons Classic Wool Merino Red, 1 set of 5 dpns in US size 7.
Setup: Measure the intended recipient's head or guess. There are lots of resources out there for average head sizes. Then knit a swatch and determine what gauge you are getting. Do the match and figure out how many stitches you will need to cast on. (I needed a total of 70 stitches. Therefore I used the whole chart twice. You can use only part of the chart or more if needed.)
Cast on double your total number of stitches. I used the Long Tail cast on loosely, but you could use any loose cast on that you like. (The double is for the double-knitting, see below for double-knitting notes) Divide stitches evenly onto 4 needles. Join into a round, being careful not to twist. At this point I worked one complete round in black because I wanted it to start totally with black. Then I attached the red and continued, following the chart. (I did not include a folded brim on this hat so if you want that, you will have to work more plain rounds before starting the chart.)
Work the whole chart and then work in solid black on front and red on back until the work measures about the length of the recipient's hand from heel of hand to tip of middle finger. Then it should be long enough to do decreases. (If you made a folded brim, work until it is this length folded so it isn't too short.)
I was worried about the two sides pulling together too much so I did one round with red on the outside and then one back to black and then did the decreases.

Double-Knitting Notes: When double-knitting what you are essentially doing is creating stockinette stitch on both sides of your work. You have one side facing you and one side facing away. You have twice the number of stitches that are on the chart. (I actually had 4 times the number since I worked the chart twice on each round of the hat) One of them is the front of the work and one is the back.Therefore the first stitch will be knit and the second purled this is true throughout the whole work. With two colors like this when you begin you should have every other stitch black and the others red. This is because where you see black on the chart, you will have black on the front and red on the back. So you will knit a black stitch and then purl a red stitch for each stitch on the chart. For example: The first round is black so the first stitch is knit black and the second is purled red. Continue around. Then the next round, you want the outside of what you are working on to be red so you knit the first stitch in red and purl the second in black. (Essentially at this point you are changing all the stitches so if it's red, purl it black; if it's black, knit it red.) Then change them back for the third row which is black. Now it gets trickier. You have to follow the chart and change the stitches as shown on the chart. If you just remember that the knit is what is facing you and the purl is what is away and each stitch on the chart has two stitches on your needles, then you should be fine.

(I do not take credit for the double knitting ideas. I found resources online and that's how I learned to do it. If you are new to it, you may want to do a swatch to get used to it. It's pretty easy once you get going though.) One resource I found helpful was : Stitch Diva Studios go there to learn from a pro.
Decreases: Pick a number that divides equalling into your total. Since it is 70 stitches for me, I chose 10. I worked 8 (16 in the double-knitting) and then knit two together(Ten total used). Then purled two together for the inside.
Work one round plain then decrease the number worked plain by 1 (so work 7 plain and then knit/purl two together.) Continue doing this until you are knitting/purling two together all the way around.
Break yarn and thread through remaining stitches pull tight and weave in ends. (I did this twice. Once inside with red and once outside with black so that I could have a solid black top on one side and a solid red top on the other.
The Black/Red version

The Inside (When you are knitting it) Red/Black.
If you have questions please feel free to email me. It has not been test-knit from this pattern.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Birthday relive

Yes, I did have a great birthday, thanks for asking. Since my incomprable hubby was at work all day and my mom gets down if she doesn't get to see us for our birthdays, I went down to my mom's house in the morning. I went and ate large quantities of Chinese food for lunch with my mom and brother for which he insisted on paying even though we didn't expect him to. Then we went back to my mom's house and I assisted her in getting the Christmas gifts ready. Not my own of course. I frosted the cupcakes that my mom had baked for me. Then my dad came home from work and when he started driving us crazy we went to town to the store so I could help her plan how to make an air conditioner cover for a friend of hers. Overall, it was a pretty good day. Not much knitting accomplished though.