Friday, August 19, 2011
The reason Len was knitting such big yarn was because he had really bad cataracts and couldn't see. Then he had surgery and suddenly my stash of sock yarn was in immediate danger of being poached. Shelley and I got him some lovely blue/green sock yarn of his own as a present. And now Leonard has a fabulous sock, that fits, and is technically his forth sock. He's still counting them individually... silly man.
The punch line of the joke is, he's over on the couch casting on his second sock and is grumbling and swearing because he's having trouble with the join and I go over to help. As I lean over in my very skimpy nighty to see what's wrong he sits there and counts stitches and examines his joining technique and not once does he do the descent thing and look down my cleavage. He has now graduate to full knitter status!
Thursday, August 4, 2011
|Leonard, me and Ryan at the Seattle Aquarium|
Since the last time I blogged I have babysat for my Mom. Had Ryan and Jarret for a while. Jarret went home to his Dad's but Ryan stayed. We had a good time. We processed a ton of cherries and ate a ton more. We baked. We painted. Ryan filled an entire sketch book. We did some illustrations for Homeward Pet. If you go into the shelter you can even see one of the "Staff Pick" signs up on the bulletin board.
|Knitting at the library|
As far as knitting goes it's been a low knitting month. I'm almost done with the pink summer socks. I've finished the sock monkey for Teresa and most of the baby sock monkey too. The baby monkey just has arms and a tail yet to go. That's it. I haven't worked on any other knitting.... sigh. I do have some funny things to say about knitting with babies but that's going to be another post.
|Steampunk brooch for Ryan. Cold riveted and hand sewn on an old button.|
On my birthday I like to think about all the stuff that has happened in the last year. Most people do this at New Years but I never have the time around the holidays to think of anything but baking. So here's my year in review:
1. Had several months of major health challenges, followed by abdominal surgery. This pretty much took up my year until February.
2. I knit a large and industrious amount of bibs, baby sweaters, and toys.
3. My Mom adopted a newborn baby girl, giving me a new baby sister and someone to foist off all the knitting goodies on.
4. Len adopted a new cat from Homeward Pet.
5. John went and adopted a cat from them the next month.
6. The next day I started as a volunteer. I work cats and reception. They like me enough that they haven't fired me or anything.
7. My iTunes library has expanded to over 10GB.
8. I'm finally getting a divorce, yeah!!
I love knitting. I love life. I love my family. Next year is going to be better. 38 was ok. 39 is going to be lovely. 40 is going to rock on toast. I think I'll do a recap post every year on my birthday.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
|Ryan petting baby horse.|
Cherries had just come in while we were there so we spent a couple hours picking some. We came home with two 5-gallon buckets of cherries. One bucket of Rainier and one of Van, Van's are dark and sweet just like Bing.
We also went thrift store shopping and came back with some cool milk glass and another cast iron skillet, like Leonard needs more. One shop had the coolest chandelier. This picture doesn't do it justice.
All in all a fun trip. I wish we could have stayed longer. Once we got home we had to wash and pit and freeze all those cherries. We've actually just been eating some and I gave a couple gallon bags to the volunteers at Homeward Pet. Between the trip and yard work and general business I haven't had much time for knitting. I got one sock done and cast on for the other one. And I started the sock monkeys for Teresa at Country Yarns.
|Let sleeping Bosco's lie.|
|Two year old Tango.|
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Here's the story. My fifteen year old daughter, Ryan, got invited to Pump It Up for her friend Shelly's birthday. Pump It Up is basically a big gymnasium with inflatable toys on a grand scale and party rooms for after you bounce, slide, and tumble your way to exhaustion. It's actually a lot of fun. The grow-ups are encouraged to play too and some really smart person even put a drinking fountain in each room. Ryan beat me on the obstacle course.
One of the things they do to make it even more fun for the teenage crowd is turn off all the lights. They give each kid, and adult, a glow stick necklace to wear and then turn on one lonely overhead black-light. Then the music gets louder and the laser show starts and you can't see much. More to the point, you can't see well enough to knit. This will not do. But I am a clever knitter and if there is a way I will find it.
They'd given me a glow stick too. I broke the seal, shook it up and made it into a necklace. It didn't have a lot of light but when I lay it right over the top of my needles I could just make out the yarn. I was knitting socks. My double points were Knit Picks Harmony size 2, not a light color it turns out. The yarn was better, it had flecks of white in it so some of the black-light glow made it easier to see. First I hung my glow stick over my wrist but that was to far from the tips of the needles for me to see. Then I hung the glow stick of off the needle I was working on. That was better but I dropped a stitch while I was knitting around the glow stick and it was like having and extra needle in the way. I had to go out to the lobby to pick up the dropped stitch. Eventually I landed on a solution. It was elegant and ridiculous, but it worked. I put the glowing necklace in my mouth. I had to lean a little closer to my hands but it put the light just where I needed it. You couldn't actually see the needles, you had to go on faith that they were there. I finished half the foot and started the toe decreases. Ryan's friends and the other parents think I'm crazy.
I am happy I got some sock knitting done.
|Yes, the cat really is trying to pick his teeth on my double points.|
Ryan actually tells me that her friends like me a bit because I'm nuts and paint and knit and bake. She sometimes feeds them my cupcakes and spent a good part of yesterday experimenting with my acrylics to make Shelly's birthday present. I'm so proud.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I've started volunteering at Homeward Pet, a no-kill animal shelter here in Woodinville. I love it. I do laundry, answer the phone, feed cats, clean litter boxes and pet more cats. It's just like home! Some day I will graduate to walking dogs. I love kitties. I've always wished I could do more for the ones that don't get adopted. All our pets are rescues. So, now I go in two mornings a week and help out. The staff and other volunteers are very welcoming and friendly, and they do me the enormous honor of eating the cupcakes and cake I bring in after a bout of stress baking. This is a much better thing than having me and my diabetic family eat it all.
Now for the cute cat pictures, here are mine.
|Bugaboo stalking the driveway.|
|Pixel on the cat tree.|
|Annabelle does not like having her picture taken.|
Bugaboo was part of a litter of five kittens my daughter Ryan rescued from the parking lot of our apartment complex four years ago.
Annabelle and Temperance are both from Homeward Pet.
Bobbie, our ever patient three-legged dog is from PAWS in Lynnwood. He's always happy to have his picture taken with my knitting.
|Temperance is only 4 pounds at two years old.|
|Bobbie under lace wash cloth.... thinks his Mom is nuts.|
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
2. Never knit anything grey in the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is not just for neurotic middle age women. Why stack the deck? If you live in a cold, rainy, northerly place the absolute last thing you want is a giant pile of more darkness in your lap waiting to become a sweater.
4. Knit something small. Working on a small project can give you a sense of accomplishment when nothing else you're working on seems to be going anywhere. I like interspersing my big projects with baby bibs, booties, dish rags and cat toys, really anything you can pick up and finish in a couple hours is fabulous.
5. Listen to music while you knit. Sing out loud. Some people like background noise, some people don't, I like a bit but not an actual conversation that I have to pay attention to when I'm feeling blue. But I find it impossible to sing and be depressed at the same time. I can listen to Machines of Loving Grace all damn day and still be in a rotten mood but singing off key to the radio perks me right up, and the cats never complain about my lack of singing skill. The extra bonus is you can sing and look at your knitting at the same time.
6. Don't drink and knit. Alcohol is a depressant. This is bad. And when you sober up and see all the mistakes you made on that nice lace scarf you'll feel even worse.
7. Find other knitters. Even if you don't knit in company, even if you have trouble leaving the house, other knitters are a godsend. They will laugh with you, cry with you, and above all understand you when you get teary over a cashmere blend yarn that your dog got ahold of and buried in the yard.
8. Knit for others. Some days it's hard to get motivated to make something for yourself, so make something for someone else. I don't actually use knitted wash clothes, or bibs, and I have plenty of hats. I do have a growing pool of folks to foist off my quick pick-me-up projects.
|Pixel under the Icelandic Lace Shawl|
10. Life is to short to knit with yarn you hate. Don't do it. If you hate the color, the texture, or if it's just hard to work with, then don't do it. Sometimes you have to fight your knitting, don't fight your yarn too. I don't care if it was a gift, if your five year old picked it out specially because it's their absolute favorite color and they will die with out it, or the wool fumes at your local yarn shop got to you and you bought it on sale, take your crap yarn and give it to Goodwill. Some one there will love it and it will take up less space in your house.
|Bobbie thinks his Mom is nuts for putting knitting on him to take pictures.|
Seriously though, depression sucks, and I joke and make light of it because that's how I deal with uncomfortable subjects. And this isn't just about knitting, and this isn't just about dealing with depression. Humor is a weapon I use every day to fight depression. I also knit. Making things makes me feel better. So go out there and knit, and feel better. Maybe life will surprise you with cashmere.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
And you know what? I don't have enough. I only have three skeins of Socks That Rock, and one skein of Socks That Rock Silkie. That can't possibly be enough to work such a fabulous yarn. I know me. I've done four pairs of Opal socks and still haven't gotten Opal out of my system. Colinette's Jitterbug is very nice, and Fly Dyed Monarch works up with a similarly lovely hand but it's not the same. I've gone over to knitting some Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Shibui to ease the pain of not having enough Socks That Rock but I still want more. It's like chocolate, more is better.
My housemates have said that that is quite enough and that I don't really need more sock yarn. It'll take me hours to put it all up on Ravelry and if I buy more it'll take even longer. John says I can buy more when I've knit up 105 pairs of socks. I very carefully explained to him that some sock patterns actually require more than one color of yarn, in the case of fair isle, and that some knee high socks actually use several skeins of yarn. And would he really want me to suffer from not having soothing cotton/bamboo ankle socks in summer, and warm merino superwash fair isle thigh highs in winter? Of course not. I even use my sock weight yarn to make other things, gloves, mittens, baby clothes. I even keep all the little balls of leftover yarn for turning into an afghan later.
Just because my sock yarn now takes up an 18" x 18" x 3' bin plus 2 really large baskets does not mean I have to much yarn. My other yarn takes up 7 more bins plus a basket, several sweater bags, a couple boxes and thats not counting the roving. I have not yet reached the critical mass of more yarn than I can knit in my lifetime. I divided up the sock yarn into projects and at my current rate of sock knitting, about a sock a month or so, it should only take me 4 1/2 years. I'm only 38, that's plenty of time.
In fact, it may even be time to get more sock yarn...
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
And if you think this picture is a big ol' mess you should have seen it before. I hate when things get disorganized, it makes me grind my teeth.
On to more knitting topics, much more fun. I've started to preliminary drawing for Teto, the fox-squirrel from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I have the yarn all ready to pick colors. I'll be using Lamb's Pride for the main body and then some Crystal Palace Whisper in cream for the fur ruff around the neck. This should make the neck ruff super soft and fluffy.
Oh, and one more Bootie pic! I just can't seem to get enough making booties. I'm averaging a pair a week. My Mom was talking about hanging them from the mobile. Yeah, a bootie-go-round. That just sounds so wrong.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
One fine Saturday I was looking for a very specific yarn. My favorite local yarn shop had just closed a few months ago and I needed some Black Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted to start a new project. Lamb's pride is one of my favorite "work horse" yarns for felting and making stuffed animals. It's soft has lovely stitch definition when not felted and is rugged enough to take the abuse toddlers dish out to there favorite toys. It even gets a lovely fuzzy halo. And the shop I always got it at was gone!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
So I was reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's blog yesterday after five hours of killing plants in my yard and it got me thinking. OK, mostly I was thinking, gosh my back hurts, and when did the bypass lopper get to be so heavy, but she was talking about how she juggles her crazy life and how family and knitting is more important than housework. And I thought, "Wow, I would much rather be spending time with my family and a good sock pattern than pruning the damn bushes." And then I thought, "How do I really spend my time?" I'd never really thought about it from that direction before. How are my days and hours divided up? Do I really spend that much time doing laundry? So I sat down and really thought about it. It was like Poo Bear in Winnie the Poo going "think, think, think."
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Over the years my Mom has given me some very valuable advise, which I have promptly forgotten or ignored, and taught me some fabulous life lessons, sometimes on accident. I love my Mom, and in honor of Mother's Day, and as an apology for having to raise me, I dedicate this post to her. Gods help us all.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
So, I'm working on some Felted Fuzzy Feet for John, and a pair of ankle socks for my self and thinking really deep thoughts when the most amazing thing occurred to me. I've just finishedthe first sock on both of them. How cool is that?
Friday, April 29, 2011
King of the Forest Pattern
The Really Big Totoro
Designed by Robin Zillman Jacobson
Here is the exact pattern I used to knit this giant sized Totoro for my daughter. One of the things that most bothers me about many of the knitting patterns in magazines is a lack of consistency. If you follow the pattern to the letter and knit every stitch as written then you should get something that looks just like the picture, right? I took notes the whole time I was knitting this and I can promise that if you can get gauge, and use the same yarn, you'll get a big fluffy Totoro just like in the picture.
Skill Level: Medium
Finished Height: 22"
Finished Width: 25"
3 skeins of Homespun from Lion Brand (98% Acrylic, 2% Polyester; 185 yds/169 m) in color 312 Edwardian, and 1 skein of Homespun from Lion Brand in color 300 Hepple White (5)
Small amount of smooth black yarn for embroidering eyes and nose. (I used Lamb's Pride Worsted in Black)
Size 8 (5.0 mm) 24" circular needle, or size to obtain gauge.
Size 8 (5.0 mm) set of double point needles.
4 stitch markers.
3 - 20oz bags of Fiberfill.
Gauge: 16 ½ sts and 24 rows = 4" in St st.
Note: The yarn Ryan, my daughter, chose is a fluffy, very soft, boucle' yarn in a bulky weight. It is knitted at a very firm gauge so the stuffing doesn't poke out, but this yarn is a little difficult to work. It splits like mad and has no give at all. For an easier to knit version I would try Lamb's Pride Bulky by Brown Sheep.
CO 20 sts on circular needle. The bottom is worked back and forth in Stockinette Stitch.
Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2 (RS): K1, M1, Knit to last stitch, M1, K1.
Repeat last 2 rows until you have 48 sts.
Work in St st 14 rows ending on a WS row.
Turn to right side.
K 48, PM (this marker will become to beginning of the round, Marker 1), Pick up and knit 14 sts along strait edge and then pick up and knit 28 sts along edge of increase rows, PM, Pick up and knit 20sts, PM, Pick up and knit 28 sts along edge of increase rows and 14 sts along strait edge, PM. (152 sts)
Knit for 13".
Round 1: SSK, K to 2 sts before 2nd marker, K2tog, slip marker, K to 3rd marker, slip marker, SSK, K to 2 sts before 4th M, K2tog, slip marker, k to end of round.
Round 2: Knit all sts slipping markers as you come to them.
Repeat these 2 rounds until 24 sts remain between 1st and 2nd marker. (116 sts)
Nose decreases, to be worked at the same time as head shaping. After the 4th marker, K 22 sts, K2tog, SSK, K 22. (110 sts)
Decrease 2 sts every round 12 times, until 20 sts remain between Marker 4 and Marker 1.
Switch to double point needles when necessary.
Continue rounds 1 and 2 until only 2 sts remain between markers 1 and 2. (44 sts)
Place 22 sts on each of 2 double points. Stuff the body, you'll need a lot of stuffing at this point. Kitchener stitch the head closed. Weave in ends.
CO 16 sts. Divide sts 4 per needle. Join in the round.
Knit 4 rounds.
*K1, M1, K6, M1,K1*, repeat. (20 sts)
Knit 1 round.
*K1, M1, K8, M1, K1*, repeat. (24 sts)
Knit 3 rounds.
*SSK, K8, K2tog*, repeat.
Knit 3 rounds.
*SSK, K6, K2tog*, repeat.
Knit 3 rounds.
Continue decreasing in pattern until 4 sts remains. Using a tapestry needle, thread through sts, BO.
Sew ears to top of head over the points left by Kitchener stitching the head.
Hint: This yarn is a right screaming pain in the arse to sew with. You might try using a smooth yarn in a similar color for sewing the arms and ears in place.
CO 32 sts. Divide sts evenly on to 4 double points. Join in the round.
Knit for 6".
Round 1: *K1, SSK, knit to last 3 sts on next needle, K2tog, K1.* Repeat.
Round 2: Knit.
Repeat these 2 rounds 3 times. (20 sts)
Then repeat only round 1, 3 times. (8 sts)
BO by passing tail through all sts. Weave in end.
Stuff lightly and sew in place on body, about an inch below where the decreases start for the head. Exact placement is less important than making sure both arms are at the same height.
In white, CO 20 sts on circular needle. The tummy and eyes are worked back and forth in Stockinette Stitch.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: K1, M1, K to last st, M1, K1.
Repeat these 2 rows 5 times. (30 sts)
Row 1 & 3: Purl
Row 2: Knit
Row 4: K1, M1, K to last st, M1, K1.
Repeat these 4 rows 5 times. (40 sts)
Knit 10 rows.
Row 1: K1, SSK, knit to last 3 sts on next needle, K2tog, K1.
Row 2 & 4: Purl.
Row 3: Knit
Repeat decrease rows until 30 sts remain. Then repeat only rows 1 and 2 until 20 sts remain.
Next row: P1, P2tog, P to last 3 sts, P2tog, P1.
Repeat Row 1. (16 sts)
Sew tummy to front of body placing the bottom edge 1" above the base of the body.
Using dark grey, duplicate stitch the chevrons at the top of the tummy piece. Work 3 chevrons in the top row and 4 chevrons in the next row.
Note: Sounds simple enough to do right? Not so my friend. The stitches are hard to see and the yarn does not lend itself to embroidery at all. What I did was draw on my chevrons freehand with a water soluble marker in a light orange color. I had to wash off the chevrons a couple of times before I had the proportions I wanted and then I went about doing the duplicate stitch. The edges ended up a bit jagged and it didn't come out a smooth a texture as I would have liked but I'm happier with the look of it than I would have been if I'd tried to use a different yarn. You might try a satin stitch to fill in the outlines of the chevrons instead. I would have but my satin stitch is even worse looking than my duplicate stitch.
Note: I knitted the eyes and they came out a little thick and look a bit like Gir from Invader Zim. This may also be due to a lack of skill at embroidering on the pupils.
You may consider cutting out a piece of felt in white for the eyes or embroidering them on using satin stitch. Here is the knitted version.
CO 4 sts.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: K1, M1, K2, M1, K1. (6 sts)
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: K
Row 5: P
Row 6: K
Row 7: P
Row 8: K1, SSK, K2tog, K1
Row 9: P1, P2tog, P1
BO last 3 sts.
The eyes form a very slight tear drop shape, sew them on point side down on either side, and slightly below the point of the nose.
Using a small amount of black yarn embroider pupils in center of the eye.
Totoro's nose is more of a sidewise oval than a typical cat nose. Using black yarn satin stitch a 1 ½" wide by ¾" high oval across the tip of the nose.
Embroider a small circle for the mouth between the nose and the top of the tummy.
Have every member of your household pose for pictures with the big cool stuffy, including your cat. Enjoy.