on the needles

Friday, September 29, 2006

What I've learned & what I haven't learned

Knitting back backwards.

Knitting back backwards enables you to not have to turn your work in order to purl back. This technique is very useful when knitting short rows, doing entrelac, knitting something narrow that requires constant turning or knitting something massive and huge that you don't want to have to turn and readjust at the end of the row. Therefore - this would be very handy when you are knitting a Log Cabin Blanket!

Actually, I am practicing the technique on the Log Cabin Blanket because I want to get started knitting Lizard Ridge from the latest Knitty - yep, another blanket. It's a sickness. Also, I have tons of Kureyon and Silk Garden in the stash (remember the all Noro shelf?) - that's right! I'm going to use stash yarn!!

Knitty has an excellent tutorial on Knitting Back Backwards so I am not even going to attempt to explain it, I'll just say it's really easy to learn. However, I think it would take me awhile to master because I found that it really altered my tension, making it quite a bit tighter. So I went back to knitting the usual way since I didn't want such a huge change in tension halfway through knitting my Log Cabin. Maybe it won't have so much effect when I try it for short rows rather than an entire, massive row.

So that's what I learned. Here's what I didn't learn:

Swatching. When oh when will I learn my lesson with swatching? The sad answer is probably never. I'm stubborn and lazy I guess.

I took a break from knitting the Log Cabin and started the baby blanket I'm designing. It has a simple lace pattern and so far has been very fun to knit. Except for the fact that I had to frog and cast on for it a total of three times before I got it right. Once because of gauge issues (should have swatched) and once because I miscounted the cast on stitches (shouldn't have been trying to watch tv at the same time. But I think I have it now and it's zipping right along. I need some more yarn so I will probably knit up to the end of the skein I have and then go back to the Log Cabin while I wait for the other skeins to come. Maybe I'll get lucky and the yarn will arrive quickly!

Hope everyone else is enjoying the cooler weather bringing thoughts lovely wooly winter knitting!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Holy Yarn Stash Batman!

Ow - my head hurts. I just finished updating my yarn spreadsheets. Yes - I am compulsively organized. But I am convinced that it is only the orderliness of the spreadsheets (complete with photos!) that keeps my home and family from being eaten by the massive yarn stash. Besides, if I don't write all of this stuff down I will forget what project I bought what yarn for etc.. So now I have nice-and-tidy, up-to-the-minute spreadsheets. Too bad that it doesn't magically organize the actual yarn as well - because right now I'm a little bit afraid to go into the craft room. I could be engulfed in an avalance of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed or step into a quicksand mire of Silky Wool! At least it would be a good way to go. :)

Okay - gotta get off of this computer and do some actual knitting (at warp speed!) to try to catch up with the stash. I think I'm taking the night off from the Log Cabin Blanket to knit....a baby blanket. But at least it's smaller and my own design and NOT garter stitch!!! Yay!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Log Cabin ....

... otherwise entitled "I do actually knit up some of the massive yarn stash"....

Log Cabin progress has been halted this week since I've been feeling pretty ill. I have a chronic problem with my stomach/entire gut system which really knocked me down for the past couple of days. I haven't been able to do anything except lay on the couch melting my brain with TV because doing anything but laying down just hurts too much. Can't even sit up to knit!! Anyhow - I don't really blog about my illness because it's a real drag and who wants to hear about that? So - on with the knitting!

Here's the last progress shot I have of the Log Cabin Blanket I am making for my son:

It's slow going at this point since each row now has around 200 stitches! It also makes it not the most portable project. I wasn't too happy with the way the colors were working out together at first but I like it a little better now that I have worked it up more. It's still not my favorite but I like it well enough. I think I am going to do 6 more logs - which is one more trip through the whole colorway and then add a border and call it a day. That should be enough to make a nice snuggle up and watch tv sized blanket for my son - at least I hope so! I really want to move on to some other project. I've been practicing knitting monogamy for my last few projects and - while I admit that it does help move a project along - it's starting to suck. I think blankets ought to be exempt - it's just too much monogamy to commit to!

Close up of the stitches & colors:

Yarn Stores Part 3 - Getting Lucky

As if my yarny life could possibly get any better....

Yarn Stores Part 3 - Getting Lucky (in which I get lots of yarn without going to any yarn stores).

Lucky! That's me!

Awhile back I tried to convince my Mom that knitting socks was no big deal and that she too could handle working with five double pointed needles with ease. I definitely did use all of my powers of persuasion because my Mom really is a talented knitter, I knew she could knit socks - plus she travels a lot, and you gotta have travel knitting! But really I think she caved because of all of the fun self-striping yarns she was missing out on. Long story short, she gave it a try and hated it. Too teeny tiny for her. Bonus to the story - she gave me all of her sock yarn.

Seriously - ending up with the yarn was not part of my evil plot all along - although now I am considering adding this to my arsenal of evil plots. :)

The yarn is all Lana Grossa - I'm too lazy to go down and dig it out of the stash to list the numbers - if anyone really wants to kow, email me & I'll do it especially for you. :)

At this point I have so much sock yarn there's no way I'm ever going to knit that any socks. I think I'm still fairly slow at sock knitting for one thing - and for another, I hardly ever wear socks! Every winter I resist wearing socks until a real threat of frostbite sets in and even then I will only wear them as long as I have to - shedding socks along with shoes as soon as I come back inside.

So what to do? Well - since there were a few days of my vacation during which I was knitless (!) I started a sock yarn blanket:

I think I am going to do large blocks of different sock yarns in strips and then sew the strips together. Needless to say - this will be a long term project - but really good when in need of mindless knitting.

And finally -

Here is a picture of the Koigu that Karyn gave me:

I don't know what I'll do with it - maybe a purse for my little girl? Or maybe I'll just put it in a glass box and keep it forever with a little placque commemorating my first yarny gift given to me by another knitter in real life. :) Thanks again Karyn!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yarn Stores 2.2

When last we saw our intrepid knitter she was already staggering under the weight of tons of newly purchased yarn - could she possibly carry any more?? Tune in now for:

Yarn Stores 2.2!

The second time we went to The Black Sheep I went crazy - (stop snickering you guys!) and bought an Ab Fab kit from Colinette. Actually, I can only afford that yarn when my Mom is around with her credit card. :(

I don't know why the bug struck but we both got caught up in looking at all of those colors and textures and before you knew it we each had a kit. I actually took one of the kits the store had put together and had them sub out all of the mohair yarn. Just can't handle the mohair!

In rows from left to right & top to bottom we have:
Super Hairy, Eyelashy, Tapey
Tie-Dyed Tapey, Chenilley, Tapey With Frayed Edges, Plain Tapey
Shiney Thick and Thiny, and two more Tapeys.

Yep - that's how much I know about Colinette. I usually never even look at it in stores because I can't afford it and it just pisses me off. :)

Don't know when I will get around to knitting this or what I will do with it but it sure was fun putting it all together.

I also talked my Mom into making the Fair Isle jacket Maggie out of Summer Tweed that was in Rowan 39. We worked out a color scheme with pretty much the same colors as the model but with a few blues and yellows thrown in. I have the yarn for the same jacket so it was good that we did a different color scheme for hers - don't want to be matchy matchy! ;)

I personally really loved Rowan 39 - although so many people seemed to have hated it. I especially liked the men's designs. Everyone of those was a winner in my book. So I wanted to find the yarn to knit Cheiftan Sweater for my hubby but The Black Sheep doesn't carry All Seasons Cotton - gasp! - so that was a no go. Sorry hubbs! Instead I consoled myself with getting the yarn for the women's version Cheiftan Coat:

Here are the colors of Summer Tweed I chose.

The original version I thought would look a little too circusy on me (or possibly on anyone except some sort of Rock Star) so I stuck with a more earthy but still vibrant colorway. Clockwise starting with the dark green shade I got: 523 Legend (I'm pretty sure this is the color - the tag has been lost), 502 Morning Glory, 531 Chocolate Fudge, 536 Torrid, 533 Puff, 540 Orient, 515 Raffia, 524 Cotton Bud, and then the two in the middle are: 530 Toast and 529 Denim.

Taking photos of this yarn really really made me want to jump in and get started on this - but I've GOT to finish my Log Cabin Blanket for my son. And I have a few more projects lined up after that so it will probably be a month or two before I can cast on for this lovely coat. :(

Taking photos of this yarn also made me think "Holy Shizz! I bought a lot of yarn!" AND I was lucky enough to be given some yarn as well.....stay tuned!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yarn Stores - Part 2.1

Okay - I finally took some - hopefully better - pictures. So now it's time for:

Yarn Stores Part 2.1!

The store my Mom likes best is called The Black Sheep. It's a few blocks from the beach in Encinidas California. It was really interesting to me because their selection of yarn was very different from what we have here in our LYS. First off - there was no wool yarn. Really nothing. And they didn't carry very much Rowan - just some Summer Tweed and a bit of Calmer. Instead they had a huge selection of what I call "funky yarns" (different from novelty yarns which usually - to me - means something really gross). The Black Sheep had bunches of the newest Gedifra yarns - at 25% off no less! I got some Fiocco Oro

to make this design from Gedifra 061. Couldn't find a better picture of the pattern - sorry!

Here's a closer look at the yarn:

It's shade 6602.

I also got the two other Gedifra pattern books, 062 (which didn't have anything in it I immediately wanted to make but I got it anyway, and the latest Moments which I have previously had a hard time finding. (Of course this local online store has it - now that I went to Cali to get it! Urgh!).

Gedifra makes quite a bit of "funky yarn". I generally tend to like most of their yarns and designs - although I think Gedifra patterns are very tied to their yarns to achieve their effects. Know what I mean? I think most of their creations would not look anywhere near as interesting if they were knit up in an alternate yarn. And that makes a problem if you can't find Gedifra yarns! There is just no substituting them and I have yet to find a yarn shop that carries an extensive selection of Gedifra. Quite a large number of their new yarns each year never make it to the USA at all. Totally frustrating - especially because with "funky yarns" you really need to see and touch before you buy. Some yarns that look pretty online look horrid in person - and something lackluster online can be quite beautiful in real life. It's not like wool where you can generally make a pretty accurate prediction of what you are going to get.

Also - I have tried to knit from their patterns in the past - when I was a super newbie knitter - and found the patterns rather difficult to follow. I'm hoping that I will discover that my trouble was all due to my inexperience and that I won't feel that way this time around!

What are your thoughts on Gedifra yarn? Know any good sources? How about their patterns - has anyone knit something successfully?

Come back next time for: Yarn Stores Part 2.2 - The Return to The Black Sheep.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Mighty Miter

Here's the start of my Lorna's Laces mitered squares blanket.

Color is off a bit again in these photos - sorry, it's been so darn grey here the past few days. But anyhow - this is how the Watercolor colorway works up. My plan is to just knit however many squares I can get out of a skein - so far it looks like it will be either 3 or 4 per skein. I've got five skeins of each color (only four of Vera) so hopefully that will be enough for a blanket. If not I'll just get some skeins in an additional colorway.

I didn't use the exact formula for miters found in Mason Dixon Knitting. Since I am using sock weight I had to cast on more stitches in order to get a good sized square - but the rest of the process is the same as in the book. I'm looking forward to knitting some more on this as soon as I finish the Log Cabin Blanket I'm working on.

Update on the Log cabin Blanket & more California yarn haul to follow....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Yarn Stores Part One

I am actually doing this posting thing backwards (what's new?) because this was the second yarn store I visited in California - but I managed to get photos for this post first so here you go!

About halfway through my trip I managed to slip away to check out a yarn store called Common Threads. This is a mother and daughter run shop that looks small on the inside but is an Aladin's Cave of Wonders on the inside. My excuse for going to this store was that I needed some mindless knitting for the road. (What I had brought along originally didn't work out. The colors didn't work together the way I had hoped they would. Lesson learned - try to actually start a project before taking it along as your only knitting for a month or you may be stranded with nothing to knit. Fortunately I was stranded within easy distance of two great yarn stores. ;) I had been wanting to make a mitered square blanket a'la Mason Dixon Knitting. I only had limited time to shop because we were on the way to Disneyland and you can only tax the patience of a five year old on the way to Disneyland so far! So I had a game plan - speed shop! My two requirements for yarn were: pretty yarn & must be washable. I ended up with these Lorna's Laces sock yarns in (from left to right) Purple Iris, Watercolor, Uptown, Irving Park and Vera.

I also picked up these skeins of Koigu because they were staring at me and lookin' so pretty! The color is really off in this photo but from top to bottom - 314 Tan Lavender, 624 Orange (strangest name ever - this yarn is mostly pink!), and 446 Marine Royal.

No special plans for the Koigu - maybe just long term collecting for a blanket or coat or something.

And I also got some Austermann Step which I hadn't seen before:

In color 15 & 12.

I loved the store and the "staff" (I think it was the mother who owns the shop who helped me) was really nice. My only criticism of Common Threads is that their yarn is arranged by color. I find that system to be very overwhelming in terms of browsing through a store. I could tell that they had some really neat yarns in there but I just didn't have the time or mental fortitude to sort through it all. Luckily, they had their sock yarn sequestered in a separate section - still arranged by color, which DID make it easy to choose the shades of Lorna's Laces for my blanket but I still think that was because it was a very small section and I already knew what I wanted. So if you are in the area and just looking for a skein of this or that - stop in! - it looked like a great place to pet yarn. At least from what I could tell - it was all such a blur! I have to say - given that I was speed shopping I think I did alright. :)

So - what do you guys think of the "by color method of yarn store arrangement"?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Little Yellow Chick

Remember Chick # 1? Who later became known as the yellow chick?

Well - this is what she looks like now:

A bit blurry but at least you can see her colors. Isn't she gorgeous?! Yellow back, dreamy lilac chest and an (surprise!) an orange head! It looks red in the photo but I am pretty sure it is orange. I thought she would have either red or black like her parents but instead she turned out to be even more beautiful. Isn't it amazing how much difference just a few weeks made?

Her brother (at least I think he is a boy) is still wearing the same dull chick colors. I can see just a few bright electric purple feathers hiding on his chest but that's about it so far.

So - now what to name her? I've got Minerva, Rowena and Rosmerta so far. Any suggestions for other female names to be found in Harry Potter?

Still working on getting photos of the yarn haul....

Monday, September 04, 2006


I'm finally back from vacation. I actually got back a few days ago but I needed a few days to unpack, clean house, put my life back in order and just generally decompress. It's been a pretty big task - especially because both of the kids are starting at new schools tomorrow. When did back to school get to be so difficult? I'm pretty sure my parents just threw some pencils and lined notebook paper at me and shoved me out the door sometime near September first every year. Sheesh.

Anyhow - the trip was a good one despite it ending with a bunch of strange and not so good things happening. I'll give you the quickish run down.

1. We drove all the way across America in our brand new RV. It took us 3 1/2 days with a day off in the middle to visit friends in Tucson. We stopped along the way at Luray Caverns in Virginia (big underground stalagmites & stalactites kind of thing), and the Nashville Zoo. Other than that we drove and drove and drove. The kids we real troopers and everything went really well, despite the fact that we discovered early on that the dvd player in the RV wasn't really working right. I'm not sure we would have knowingly attempted an across country drive with two young kids and no dvd.

2. The first day at my Mom's house she backed the RV into a huge rock and broke one of the taillight panels off. We ducktaped it back on. Fortunately the taillight still worked.

3. We spent a day at Legoland. My son actually levitated with excitement when he saw the Lego statue of Darth Vader. I thought he was going to go crazy in the Legoland shops but actually he was very restrained and only bought two kits. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he already had everything else there. :)

4. My Mom and I dropped the kids and hubbys off at the beach. I don't do the beach because I have really really fair skin and I have yet to find a sunblock that doesn't make me breakout in a rash. It turned out to be quite a handy excuse anyway since my Mom and I hit the yarn stores - twice! Woohoo! I will do a post later on what we did at the yarn shops - brace yourselves!

5. I finally got to meet another blogger! - Karen from NoeysMommyKnits. She and Noey came down for the day and met up with us at Balboa Park. We toured the San Diego Natural History Museum and took the kids to ride on the carousel. The museum had a kickin' exhibit called Dinosaurs: Reel and Robotic - we were given the guided tour by Noey since she had already seen it. The carousel was awesome too because it still had the brass ring!! You know, where if you grab the brass ring you win a free ride. I've never seen a carousel that still had the brass ring - so cool. Karen and Noey were just as nice as I thought they would be - and my daughter really liked the idea that now she has a friend on the west coast - she wants to send Noey some mail. (Do all little girls love mail as much as mine?) She and Noey got along like a house on fire and were walking along holding hands by the end of our visit. I gotta tell you - it was really cute. Plus Karen gave me some really pretty Koigu KPPM in blues (my favorites!). I've never used it before so I have to figure out something special. It was super great meeting you guys!!

6. The next day we went to SeaWorld. We signed up ahead of time to get to "interact" with a dolphin. My daughter was too young to get in the water to swim with them so the interaction option was the next best choice. We met a dolphin named Dottie. We got to pet her, toss fish into her mouth (my son didn't really want to touch the fish so he tossed Dottie ice cubes), and we gave her signals to do tricks. At the end Dottie did a swim by and soaked us from head to toe by shoveling water at us with her tail. It was kind of gross - not the world's cleanest water. But it was awesome to touch a dolphin - she felt like a wet river rock, smooth and cool.

After that we saw the Shamu show. It was not as interesting as I had thought it would be - probably because we had just gotten up close with the dolphins. But the end of the show where the really really big Shamu came out and did his jumps was cool. He was impressive.

While watching Shamu I did this to myself:

That's me the day after SeaWorld. Did I mention I have fair skin and refuse to use sunblock? Well - let this be a lesson to you. I'm sure the sight of me scared many a child into life long devotion to sun protection. This picture in no way conveys how horrible of a burn I got - it was ten times as red in real life. I wore that pink and beige tank top the next day as a sort of camouflage. What do you think? It must have been pretty effective because no one mentioned how hideously burnt I was until the second day at Disneyland when some guy in the elevator said "Good Lord! What happened to you?!" (Thank goodness I did this to myself the day AFTER I met Karen. I would have scared the dickens out of poor Noey. And I can imagine their car ride conversation on the way back home, "And THAT is why you wear sunblock Noey!".

7. We went to Disneyland. We were there for three days. There were rides, there were parades, there were Disney Princesses galore, there was shameless commerce and consumerism, plus there were fireworks every night. I still haven't recovered. But I'll be damned if Disneyland ISN"T the happiest place on earth. :) Somehow, every notion of being a normal sane person just flies straight out of my head when I enter the American Nirvana that is Disneyland. I don't bat an eye at grown up's wearing Mickey Mouse ears and paying $80 for a Cinderella costume and sure what the heck kids - go right on ahead and spend $20 on that twirly whirly thingy with lights and Tinkerbell on it. I don't do amusement park rides - that's Dad's job, my stomach can't hack it - so to while away the time I amused myself by squashing a few pennies in the penny squashing machines. By the third day it had become a mania. I had a list of every machine with every squashed penny in the park. I had a little souvenir book to put them all in. I made it to every machine in the whole darn park and got every penny there was to get (except for the machines which were out of order!) so what if I broke my back lugging around massive amounts of coinage to feed the machines - I was a woman on a mission. That's the Disneyland effect folks and it ain't pretty. I finally knew it was time to get the heck out of there when I found myself silently lamenting that I didn't have an extra thousand dollars lying around to spend on an Armani statuette of Tinkerbell.

I made it out alive - but lots of people I know will be getting Disney stuff for Christmas.

(Pssst - if you have any squashed pennies where you live send me some, apparently I am collecting them now.) :)

Okay - this post is super long (guess I lied about that quickish post thing - sorry!)and if you've made it all the way thorough you must be a trooper! I'll blog about yarn shops as soon as I take some photos of the haul. :)