Thursday, February 28, 2008

First Heel Done-Whew!

Took two tries and a fix at the end, but I managed to get my first ever wrap and turn heel done. The first time I had way too many stitches left on one side, the second time I was only off by one so I foo foo'd it. Don't think it's noticable. Then I started knitting the first few rows of the sock in the round and realized I had holes at the heels. Frogged it back to that point and then did what was suggested in the first row and grabbed a row from the heel, which eliminated the hole problem.

Started working yesterday at my boys school and haven't managed to get much knitting done on my breaks. Only have a half hour lunch and when I have to choose between getting my stomach to stop growling or getting some knitting done, the tummy over-rides. Thought I'd knit during one of my breaks, but ended up spending time in either of the boys classes, instead.

The boys both went to see the Jimbali Acrobats as field trips with school and seem to think they can replicate what they watched. No tears just yet, but expecting them any minute. My red dog, Arlo, couldn't resist licking dinner reminants of my younger son's face while they were attempting a move. Guess he won't need a bath tonight. Yuck!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Snow Cave in our Front Yard

Wow, it's been a gorgeous sunny weekend. Actually perfect weather by Alaska standards. Sunny and just enough below freezing to play in the snow without getting wet. Yesterday, my husband and youngest went with their boyscout pack up to Glen Alps (above Anchorage) and built snow caves and went sledding on a fast mountain side. Today was another beautiful day and the boys and their dad finished up the snow cave they've been working on in our front yard. Last year, we didn't quite get enough snow to build one, but not so this year. It also help that the street snow blower came by and left a nice hardpacked pile of snow for them. The boys went right out first thing this am to work on it. Even the dogs joined in on the fun. Betty (my blue girl) especially loved running through the tunnels, barking away. What a difference from the previous two weekends.

And, to top it all off, my son's Religious Exploration Class at our church (Unitarian Universalists) raised over $250.00 for the Malawi School with their "Soup Sunday".

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Learning Magic Loop and Figure 8 Cast-on and I've Got A Job!

Since my last blog post, I have learned a few new things with my knitting. It all started when I was at Far North Yarn Co. to check out yarns for some projects I have in mind. I have been seeing so many great sock yarns at the Ravelry site and was looking for something similar to the Socks that Rock yarns. I think I may have found something close. It's a Hand-dyed sock Yarn by Pagewood Farms. For some reason, the color for the picture is a bit off. I'm sure it may have something to do with the camera.

While I was winding my new yarn at Far North Yarn, there where knitters sitting around the project table, talking knitting. Someone was mentioning their frustration with double points and a discussion began about the Magic Loop technique. I decided to jump in to the conversation, eager to learn more about it. Turns out one of the ladies working at the shop actually teaches a Magic Loop class. She went ahead and showed me what it was. Magic Loop knitting is when you use long circular needles instead of double points and your project is split onto the 2 needles instead of 3, like with most dpn knitting. Needless to say, I ended up leaving also with a new set of addi Turbo Lace circulars #1 (32 inch). The tips are shaped a little differently then regular Turbos. After my quick lesson, I was told to come back with a pattern for my new yarn and she'd help me get started.

I had added the Boyfriend Sock Pattern to my favorites picks at my Ravelry site and decided to pick this one after noticing in the first few lines that the pattern was written with Magic Loop technique in mind. Another reason I liked this pattern was that it is a toe-up pattern and we'd had a conversation at Far North about toe-up patterns. That was enough for me to decide this it.

Well, I went right back to Far North with my new pattern, eager to get started, cast on the 24 stitches, with my usual long tail cast-on and was not sure what to do next. As I was asking for some help, I noticed the pattern mentions a figure 8 cast-on. "What the heck is that?"' I asked. Turns out that despite having 5 other knitters in the shop, no was exactly sure what it was. The closest we could find in any of the books, was the Turkish Cast-on, which may even be the same thing, but since I really wanted to do this one right, I decided to go home and look on the internet.

Found two websites that explained it, but after about 45 minutes of trying this over and over, I realized I was doing something wrong. Based off some of the comments about this pattern I'd read, I knew it couldn't possibly be this hard to figure out.
I googled Figure-8 Cast-on Magic Loop and found a very helpful site. And, as I suspected, it's very easy to do. Plus, it make a lovely seamless toe end.

Started knitting, happily, that night. It was so nice not to have dpn tips getting caught on stuff. I've almost gotten to the heel and I'm a little nervous to do this step. It's a short-row heel. I've done short rows before for felted mittens, where leaving a hole wasn't a big deal, but a little concerned about having that happen with a sock.

Now about the job. The principal of my children's school approached me last week and offered my a job at their school doing an all day indoor supervision/teachers aide position. I think the timing was just right for this. I have to admit that after 11 years as a stay at home parent, it can get a little monotonous. I'd been throwing around the idea of getting a part time job, but was trying to figure out how to work that in with getting the kids to and from school everyday. My husbands job doesn't work out well for either of these duties. I'd fantasized that I could work for Kay over at Far North while my kids were at school and leave just in time to pick the kiddo's up. Imagine getting paid to knit. I also imagined that I'd have to turn around and give the money all back to the shop for the yarn I'd be hoarding every week. Not what I'd call a negative, but maybe it would be to my husband. So, when I was offered this position, it made sense to seriously consider it. I'll be working 3 days a weeks until the end of the school year and actually getting paid to be at my children's school for a change. Figure I'll get some knitting done during breaks and at lunch time. Oh my god! Lunch time. I usually just forage through the fridge and cabinets for a so-called lunch. Now I'll actually have to put some thought into it. Should be interesting jumping back into the work scene.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Okay, I was complaining about the cold weather a week or two ago, and now it's too warm. It's been raining on and off for the last few days, which means that all the beautiful snow we got last week is melting away. The roads are a mess. They're either full of puddles and potholes or super slick.

My neighborhood is super slick. Wished I'd bought studded tires a few times today as I ran errands around town. The puddles were gianormous. I feel so bad for pedestrians. Saw one guy get seriously sprayed with filthy puddle water. Here's some video of a pedestrian getting splashed.

I finished my niece's cap last night. Took me a little longer than I planned because the hat ended up being too small and I had to knit a few rows at the bottom, which I found out after binding it off, made the hat lose some of it's elasticity. I had to do another modification today to the hat so it will, hopefully, fit my niece. I took scissors to one of the loops in the binding, put 3 loops onto a needle. Weaved the ends of the clipped yarn in and then using a new piece of yarn, ran it through the loops loosely and then weaved the ends into the hat also. Four rows up is where the hat originally was cast-on and I think that to the untrained eye, it's hardly noticeable that I knit 3 more rows to it. The hat now fits both my boys, so I hope that means it will work for her, too.

I've also started working again on my Fair Isles Hat, and also working on getting my stash on Ravelry. I like that I can see what projects others have done with the yarns I have. Lot's of real great ideas.

I thought I might have yarn for the hats and gloves my kids both want, but I don't. Bummer, I might have to hit a few LYS's in the next day or two. I'll let you know what I end up coming home with.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Birthday Weekend

My weekend started out with going to see the live Broadway production of Hairspray at the Performing Art Centers with my Bunco friends. It was a lot of fun and the music was great. Several of the ladies weren't familiar with Hairspray and were seeing it for the first time. While we were at intermission I got to see how well dressed Anchoragites can be despite the un-cooperative weather. I actually saw several women with beautiful open toed high heels on. How do they do it? I opted for a suede boot with a heel, and, though my toes were toasty, all I could think as I walked along the icy roads was, I could fall any second and end up in an emergency room, baby step, baby step, baby step. I guess these ladies were more willing to make a great sacrifice for the sake of fashion. One of the ladies in our group was up visiting from Portland and actually thought we are better dressed up here. Not sure I believe it. We like our fleece and gortex too!

Saturday, (my birthday), I decided to skate ski while my boys were at Jr. Nordic. I discovered that I've been knitting too much rather then skiing when the boys are out skiing. Boy am I out of shape. That's going to have to change.

I finished my Single Cable fingerless gloves for my niece later that day and I'm almost done with the hat. Which could mean that I can use 1 Skein of the Malabrigo Merino Worsted Weight for the whole project. I should know for sure tomorrow if it can be done.

I saw the boy hats that Tiennie has made and both my boys are interested in them, so may be getting started on those, if I have the right yarn and get the pattern. The boys are also really wanting a pair of fingerless gloves, similar to what I've made my niece. Still haven't working on my Fair Isles hat since I did the cast-on. Maybe I'll work on that next or maybe I'll start a new pair of socks. So may project ideas, so little time!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day! The boys had a real good time at school. One son's class made "healthy" popsicles and had a party. The other made pizza's, decorated cookies and then went outside for Iceskating and sledding. Don't thing they did much learning today. Lucky....

Didn't do any knitting last night because I went out to dinner with some friends, to Kinley's, and had a real nice dinner. I was very impressed by this restaurant. We had a Lobster Ravioli Appetizer that was fantastic. Also had a Thai Chicken Curry Soup that was real good. Great dinners all around. The Scallops were our favorite entree. We somehow had room for dessert (okay, we always do) and not only were all our choices delicious, but their presentation was beautiful. We'll be back again soon.

My friends bought me the funniest Birthday cards. So funny I had to share them.All three of us have or had cats , and, we each could possibly be one of these divas in about 25 years. We're afterall, a brunette, a red head and a "blonde".

Inside the kitty card it says, It's your Birthday, Pamper yourself. Inside the other says, Good Friends never change. (Hair color doesn't Count!)

I did get some knitting done today, despite going back and forth to the boys school a total of 4 times for the different goings on at school. I finished the first fingerless glove for my niece, and will go ahead with the 2nd, despite not really liking the cable as much as I thought I would.
Then I'll start a hat with this skein. My son posed for this photo and was working on his pinewood derby car, and thus, had paint and ink all over his hands. Boys!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fingerless Glove Design

Did I mention how happy I am to be done with "those" socks. I still haven't picked out a new sock yet, but in the mean time, I've decided to try and design and knit fingerless gloves to go with the "Diva" Cap I've knit for my niece. I found a pattern that I've changed to use the same cable that's on the Cap and I've downsized my needles 2 times to hopefully have a glove that will fit an 8 year old girl. I'm using the Malabrigo yarn again, but a new skein that, despite being the same lot number as I used on my sweater, has a lot more pink in it. I had started to use this skein with my sweater finished last month, but noticed after a few rows that it was obvious that it didn't really match the rest of the yarn I'd used. Luckily, I had purchased too much yarn and had more to choose from. I'm hoping I can get both gloves knit and have enough to knit another Diva Cap with it. If not, I'll just use the hat I've already knit.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snowy Morning!

Woke up to 4 inches of fresh snow. What a great surprise! I had stayed up pretty late last night working on my lace socks and it was not snowing when I went to bed. It actually was still snowing outside this am, while I was getting the boys lunches ready. An added bonus with new snow is that all the "yellow" snow in my yard is gone, at least for a few days. Yeah, that's a gross image, I agree, but it's a reality when you have two dogs.

On to knitting. I finished my socks tonight and I'm so happy to be done with these things. The lace pattern seemed to never be quite right, despite me counting my stitches, working carefully, rechecking all my stitches, almost every time. The good part about this is that I learned very well, yo, ssk, and psso. All new stitches to me a year ago when I started these. I've done several projects in between these two socks and feel very comfortable with these stitches now. I'm looking forward to doing another pair of socks, just not these ever again. Just to make sure I'll cross this pattern out in the book it came from. If your reading this and some day I even mention doing these socks again, please do whatever you can to stop me. I mean it!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Chilly Saturday in Anchorage

Well, not much knitting going on today. Took my youngest to Jr. Nordic at Kincaid Park. Temperature outside was around 4 degrees and not sure what the wind chill was but it was bad. Some kids came back early and I saw one girl with a bright red cheek with a quarter size white spot on her cheek. Frost bite. I told her to make sure her parents know about it. They were probably out skiing, like most usually do. Lots of parents also came back early from skiing too. Seems its been pretty windy at Kincaid Park and the trail are icy in some areas. Glad I listened to my inner chicken and didn't venture out.

Didn't get much knitting done then because my knitting project requires me to be paying attention to my knitting and I was talking with other parents too much to do that.

Going out with a friend to a Dinner, Dessert and Wine Auction and I'm sure I won't be knitting tonight. I'm looking forward to getting the socks done so I can move on to some of the great socks I've been seeing on Ravelry.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What a Heel!

Worked on my Lace sock tonight and after two attempts at the heel using the pattern, I remembered that when I did the other heel, a year ago, I had to use a different pattern. Used my trusty Mid-weight Sock pattern #242,from Knitting Pure and Simple. Also this other pattern seems to never work out right and I always end at the wrong stitch. I really suspect that besides the heel, there are other mistakes in this pattern. I will get this second sock finished, but I sure do look forward to moving on to my next pair of socks. Not sure what I'll pick but I did see some cool socks on Ravelry. Another possibility is doing the sock of the month in my day to day Stitch and Bitch calendar, given to me by my non-knitting friend who's alway seems to appreciate hand knit items.

I ended up having to set this sock down for the night, before I really start to hate it. Cast-on for my Fair Isles Hat from Hats On. Going to make the Medium size hat and see what happens. It may end up being a gift or even an auction item for my kids school. I donated a couple hats for the last auction, two were the Lillehammer Pattern from Cider Moon and the 3rd was the Peruvian Cap from Vogue Knitting Caps & Hats. I see a child at school wearing this last hat all the time. Don't see the other two much, which is a bummer because one of them I had actually knit for me but ended up throwing it in Pink themed basket (I used pink as the contrast color) and figured I'd bid on it. I did and I lost. I'll eventually get around to knitting myself a new one. Maybe I'll end up liking the Fair Isles Hat even better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wow, what a night!

So, went to the Alaska Democratic Primary in Anchorage, and there was a record turn-out. The traffic was insane, parking difficult, weather well below 0, but still people came. It was truly inspiring. People can because they wanted change, over 75% of the people were there to vote for Obama. My district had 80% for Obama and I was able to be nominated as a delegate for our State Democratic Primary (in Palmer at the end of May)to cast my vote for Obama. Plus, I'll get to help make decisions for our democratic platform. I've always voted in every single election. I guess that makes me a "super voter", but know I'll get to do even more. I'm very excited.

Okay, on to knitting, as I'd mentioned yesterday, I didn't have much time to knit. My knitting buddy and I decided to not bring out knitting with us last night to the cascus. It was very crowded and we got separated, but turns out we're both in the same district. When I got to our room, where do I find my knitting buddy? Sitting next to a lady knitting a scarf and needing some help. We had a good laugh about that one. Maybe we could of knit for about 10 minutes, but the rest of the time we were standing around and probably would of ended up stabbing someone with a knitting needle. We need every democratic vote in the state and I'd hate to have been responsible for causing the loss of any votes.

I'm hoping to get working on the heel of my sock tonight and start up my Fair Isles hat since another knitting mom at school has lent me her circular needles. Looking forward to this hat. I'm using 5 colors of sport weight alpaca that may or may not go together but I'd like to use because my New Years Resolution was to try and use my yarn stash all year, trying to not buy more yarn. Blew it once already, and sure I'll cave a few times more. I've got a serious addiction!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Tuesday- Caucus in Alaska

Don't expect to get much knitting done tomorrow. Busy day at school. Driving for a field trip, with 1st and 2nd graders, to the Eagle River Nature Center to study Alaskan animals and hike down to a beaver pond. It's expected to be in the negative numbers tomorrow,so I'm planning on being wrapped up like the Pilsbury doughman to stay warm. Once we get back to town, I'll have a little time to get home and take care of the dogs, drive back to school to pick up the boys, and, shortly after, what I'm real excited about is going to the Democratic Caucus. I have quite a few friends that are going also. And we're all supporting Obama, so it should be a good time.

I have a Fair Isles hat the I frogged last week because I should of used smaller needles, but unfortuantely, there seems to be a shortage of size 3-16 inch circulars. The hat is in 5 colors and I really don't think I'd like to try it on Double Points. I was speaking to another knitting mom at school about my dilema and she's offered to let me borrow hers. Yeah!

Also, while at school today, one of the moms had her chihuahua wrapped up in her jacket and I mentioned I'd love to knit a sweater for her little dog. She'd made one with a sweater sleeve, but really seemed excited when I made the suggestion. I'm bringing a few patterns I have plus some fun colors of Lambs Pride for her to choose from. Her cute little dog is so small that I don't think it will take much time at all to knit.

And, lastly, I have finally started the heel of my 2nd sock for my Lace Sock Project. Can't wait to finish it and move on to new socks. Thinking I might join a sock of the month club, but seems to be a lot to choose from on Ravelry.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Great Game! Plus, finished hat

What a great game! Especially, if you picked the NY Giants. My husband and I are actually 49'er fans, having both grown up in San Francisco. We moved to Alaska in 1990 and it seems that the longer we've lived away, the worse the team has gotten. Oh well. I ended up picking the NY Giants because they were the underdogs. DH did because he felt they'd played real well the last few games.

My 10 year old picked the Patriots and bet his friend. Loser had to go out and roll in the snow. Did I mention it's -9 outside? He ended up running out in boots and a t-shirt and rolled around in the snow a few times, with chilly results. Should of listened to his father.

As for the hat, I finished just before the 2 minute warning. Had to fix a dropped stitch from about 7 rows down on a cable. That was interesting. I have a tendency to get a little over confident once I've knit a pattern a few times and end up always making some time consuming mistakes. Urgh!

I ended up making the brim just a little smaller on this hat, as I may end up giving to my niece for her birthday. Tried it on my 7 year old and it fits him perfect, so should fit my niece, whose only 2 weeks older. Her birthday is in March, so I have a few more weeks to make a decision. Going to check at my favorite LYS for some other interesting colors of Merino Wool, worsted weight yarns.

Superbowl Project-Finish another Newsboy Cap

So, my goal, while watching the Superbowl, is to finish this hat without getting honey bbq sauce, cheese dip or crumbs all over it. I'm using the same yarn as the sweater in yesterdays post. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Sweater Saga

So, let me tell you all a little story about how I ended up knitting a sweater twice and still don't quite have it right.

It all started with a pair of mittens, a year ago, that I knit with a beautiful and soft kettle dyed pure merino wool by Malabrigo. I feel in love with this yarn and decided it deserved to be more than just a pair of mittens.

I spent many days and weeks looking for the perfect pattern that would work with this yarn and finally found a pattern that I liked and would worked with this yarn. The pattern I used was from Berrocco and called Camille.

Now, I have a bad habit of not really getting a gauge on projects and with this one I forced myself to really carefully do a whole swatch. I even measure my arms and torso to determine what size to knit.

Once done with this part, I quickly started the front piece with the cables. Got through the front and back rather quickly, but had to put the project down for a while to get hats knit up for my son's Cub Scout Den. I then got distracted with more hat requests from my boys. The longer I delayed the less driven I was to get the sleeves done. Well, then it was summer and for some reason, knitting a sweater in the summer is just too much of a reminder that winter is always just around the corner when you live in Alaska.

In the fall, it was time to try and focus once again on my sweater. So, I got one sleeve done, then the second sleeve done. I decided to try it on before I seamed it up and found it was way too short. So I did the only brave thing I could thing of at the time and I frogged the whole thing. Yep frogged it!

Well, know it was time to focus on getting all my Christmas knitting done. I knit 4 pairs of felted mittens and 2 hats. Kept the load a little low this year ('07) as last year I tried to knit 6 of the Tiny Heart Sachets from the '06 Holiday Interweave Magazine, plus 2 cabled scarfs, and 2 pairs of socks. All in November and December. Despite they're small size, they were rather time consuming and I had a numb spot on my right middle finger for weeks after, from those hearts.

So, just before Christmas, it was time again to do this sweater. This time I started with the sleeves and would do the fun part last. I'd read this tip somewhere in a magazine and it definately worked for me. I stayed focused the whole time because I couldn't wait to get to knit the cabled front section again. Cabling is so addictive.

Sweater was knit in a larger size in about 3 weeks. So now it was time to sew it together.

Another bad habit I have is not blocking and, that's just what I didn't do before I did the seams. BAD, BAD, BAD! I'm not that great at seams yet and it took me about 5 hours to put this sweater all together. And what do I have? A sweater that should of been blocked and doesn't quite fit right.

I suppose if I was an 18-25 year old girl, it would be a great sweater, but when you've birthed two kids, and are now a 40 something, a little skin isn't a fashion statement in a sweater.

I took the sweater with me to my knitting group and got several suggestions on how to fix it, among them cutting the bottom row off and knitting more length at bottom, blocking it now, slouch more or wear a longer shirt under it.

I think the right answer is the first suggestion, but way too scary for me. I already slouch enough as it is so I'm going with blocking it and wearing a longer shirt underneath for a while. Eventually, I'll just have to break down and do the right thing, but with knitting friends around to hold my hand.

Oh, here's a picture of our neighborhood bull moose, who was across the street just as my son and I were headed out to take the sweater picture. Unfortunately, he headed to the neighbors backyard before we could safely pose with him in the background. This bull was wandering around a few weeks ago with only one antler left and it must of felt real awkward walking around like that. Oh, and the dumpster behind him is there because my neighbors pipes froze last week (when it was -7) and flooded their downstairs while they weren't home. They know have a system set up at the house that will call their cell phones if the house ever goes under 55 degrees and a light on the front of the house that will flash red, too. We're going to invest in this phone system if we ever leave the state during the winter.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Can't Wait To Teach This Course Next Year

So, it was a success! There are now 5 new little knitters here in Anchorage. All five have family members who can help at home and I've asked the kid's to practice a bit, if not more, every day as "homework". I'm thinking we might also start an after school knitting group, meeting once a month. We have a lot of knitting older kids and parents and I think we could all share our knowledge with the little newbies at school. Plus, it's always fun to knit with friends!