Monday, April 28, 2008

SAL Update, More Yarn & A Book

So I frogged the sock again this weekend. Just to before the heel. I was using the Cat Bordhi technique to hide the wrapped stitch and since it was my first try, it didn't look as good as I hoped, so I needed to try again. Much happier now.

Went to my favorite LYS, Far North Yarn Co., on Sunday and bought some South West Trading Company Bamboo, to knit a Lotus Blossom Tank in The Best of Interweave Knits pattern book. Bought the book at Barnes and Noble since it wasn't available at Far North. Jenny and Nicole from Stash and Burn talked about this tank on Episode #20 and then I visited the Ravelry project page and decided I really like this tank. Now, just when will I have time to get this started. Going to Vegas at the end of August, so maybe I'll set the Vegas trip as the due date.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shoes For Knit, Socks, How's My SAL Going, New Diva Shoes

Went shoe shopping today. My goal was a cute pair of shoes to show off my knit socks and a pair of UGG Espadril's that I'd seen at Christmas time, but weren't available until February. Mission Accomplished! (Not like the president!)

I ended up buying the Croc Malindi's.

It's more of a ballerina slipper than a Mary-Jane. Picking a color was tough. Lot's of real cute colors to choose from, but I ended up with the silver, since I might have a better chance of matching them with my socks. Not sure if they'll match with my current project, but they do seem to go with the rest.

SAL update. Frogged the socks back to before the start of the gusset. Two reasons, After listening to Cheryl's podcast Diva Knitting, Epsiode 11, where she gives great sock advice, I realized I probably didn't need a gusset. This was reconfirmed when I put the sock on when I finished the heel. Too loose, plus, I had extra stitches that I'd have to get rid of before I could get back to the pattern for the top. Too much work! The other reason was, Cheryl has a technique for knitting the wrapped stitches in the short-rows that leave neater looking heel. I'm going to give that a try, too.

And, yesterday I was wearing flip-flops. Yesterday, I was thrilled to see the mud in my yard was drying up. Yesterday, I bought a few things for my garden. For the last two days we were over 60 degrees. Shorts weather by our standards. Today, my dogs feet aren't getting muddy, because the mud is under a few inches of snow, I'm wearing clogs and socks, I had to scrap snow off my car, and there's no way I'm touching my flower bed today. Weird April! Winter was a little late this year, so I guess it decided to stay longer at the end. Not sure I've ever seen it snow like this at the end of April. Tomorrow, is the Boyscouts Pinewood Derby Race's, at the Park Strip (outside, I'm the den leader, and I have to go) and The Heart Run (I'm too lazy), and from the way it's snowing right this moment, I don't think it's going to melt away overnight. Should make for an unforgettable Saturday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SAL-Starting heel tonight

Okay, starting with a confession. I did not do a gauge like I'd planned when I blogged last time. I went ahead and started with size 1 needles and quickly realized the toe was going to be too small. The yarn I'm using is a light fingering weight yarn. Ran out and bought a set of #2-40" addi lace Turbo Lace needles at the LYS, plus another skein of the Rabbit Ridge Camo for my SIL's fetchings, hopefully, to be started soon. Spied some yarn that I'd like to use for another project I'd heard about listening to Stash and Burn. More on that another time.

So, got started using the Magic Cast-on. Very easy and I like the results a lot. I've been knitting the sock at work and I ended up knitting too much and had to frog about 2 inches of it so I could start the gusset. Following the pattern, it seemed the sock was getting too long before the heel, so I changed the pattern slightly, by adding stitches every row after the first 8 (16 rows) following the pattern. I'm know doing the heel, using a short-row heel, instead of the heel in pattern and I'm crossing my fingers the sock will not be too big. If so, I can frog back to the start of the gusset and do the adding of stitches on every row.

Other news, I have some very eager knitters at school. A couple are crocheting, but I've taught a few to knit and a couple are know doing a decent purl. I'm hoping to have them knitting hats in the round by the end of the year. Just need the right needles for them. I think a few would be able to purchase circulars, themselves, but not sure if that is the case for the whole group. I think I might have some non-turbo's I could donate. Or maybe even DPN's they could use. Now that I'm doing Magic Loop, I think I might not have quite the need for them.

Well, it's a beautiful, sunny day. It's 7:30 and still gorgeous out. I think we may have even gotten over 60 degrees today. Hooray! I did hear chance of snow on Thursday, but it's really hard to believe it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Getting Ready for a Sock-along with Diva Knitting

So, as I mentioned earlier, I'm going to be doing my first sock-along, with the Diva Knitting Podcast group on Ravelry. This is going to be a Toe-up sock-along and it just so happens that I've been studying up on a few toe-up patterns and was leaning towards the Toe-Up Jaywalkers pattern by Natalia Knits. It's a variation on a very popular pattern called Jaywalkers, that I've been hearing about frequently on Stash and Burn and it's one of the first patterns you see when your on the log-on page at Ravelry.

Reading through the Toe-up version, Natalia leaves the type of cast-on and heel up to the knitter. It just so happens that Cheryl's Diva Knits Podcast goes over several cast-on options and will be going over heel variations. She talks you through the Magic Cast-On, which I'd like to try. She also goes over the short row heel, which is what I used on the Boyfriend socks.

Now, for the yarn. I'm using sock yarn I recently purchased from Maui Yarns to commemorate my wonderful vacation in Hawaii. The yarn is a Hand Dyed 100% Superwash Merino Wool. The color is called Ripe Pineapple, and is 100G/440 yds. It's considered a light fingering weight yarn (7-10 Sts. on US 1-3).

To get ready, the first thing I did was turn the hank into 2 separate balls of yarn, using a scale to hopefully get two same size balls. Did that this afternoon, after work.

Next step is to get a gauge, which I hope will be done tomorrow while I'm at work. Once I get the gauge, I'll figure out the proper numbers on casting on, etc.

Lastly, I've was teaching 5th and 6th graders to knit at work (my kids school) today. I'm teaching them to "pick", since it seems to be a faster technique. It was a lot of fun and, somehow, I've even started teaching a student to crochet, though, I'm not so good at crocheting but I can at least get her started. I suggested she get on the internet and look-up crocheting patterns.

The scarf is done, and the Diva Cap brim is also almost done, but I'm going to finish it at work so the kids can see how to bind off.

Two Almost Finished WIP's

Just a quick update here. Almost done with my SIL's Diva Cap, just need to add the brim, which I'm working on today. The cashmere scarf is pretty much done, just need to bind off. Both are gifts and I need to design fingerless gloves for the Diva Cap and, for the scarf, I'd like to make a matching hat.

Looking forward to blocking the scarf because the cashmere becomes so much softer. My personal scarf made from the Plymouth Royal Cashmere is significantly softer now that it's been hand washed a couple times.

My next post will be about a Sock-along that I'm starting with Diva Knitting's Podcast. It will be my first time doing any kind of knit-along. Very excited.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two Different Worlds

It's so hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago we were snorkeling in Hawaii. Now, we're back home and the boys were skiing at Alyeska today. Feeling pretty fortunate on a day like today.

Monday, April 7, 2008

What's On My Needles

I'm still working on the Cashmere scarf that I cast-on at Tunnels Beach in Kauai. I've got just another foot and a half to go on it and then I'm going to design a matching hat with the remaining 3rd skein. Here's a few more pictures of me knitting my Cashmere Scarf in Kauai.

Note the ipod in my ears on the last picture. I was very much enjoying listening to Sticks and Stings with David Reidy. This was on our last day and while I was listening to his into-music,a butterfly fluttered by, matching the feel of the music perfectly.

Also, I'm still working on the Boyfriend socks. I had so much yardage with the Pagewood Farms Denali (450yds) that I've been able to knit very long socks. I've actually been knitting these at work. Yes, at work! While listening to David at Sticks and Strings, while on vacation, talking about knitting while working at school and talking about public knitting, I decided to give it a try at work. Now, my job at work is basically being a hall monitor, though, we all prefer to call it Roving Aide, here. I walk the main corridor at school and I also, help out teachers. Good kids. Boring job! Luckily, it's just a part-time job. David had mentioned that he keeps yarn in his pocket and knitting as he walks. Well, I figured as long as I'm not looking down the whole time while I walked, why not knit. It might also help that the principal is a knitter, too. The kids love it and several have asked me to show them how to knit socks. Maybe we'll get an after school class started. One of the teachers even plans on setting up knitting stations out in the hall so I can assist kids with their knitting. Even the little ones are very interested. And, when one of the boys asked me it I sell them, we used it as an opportunity to do some math to figure out how much I'd have to charge someone using an hourly wage plus cost of the yarn. $232.00 Too expensive, was the conclusion.

So, the last project on needles is a Fair Isles Hat, from Hats On, that I've only managed to only do 4 rows of. I'm using a borrowed set of circulars and starting to feel guilty about it. I think I may have to recheck at all the LYS's for a set of my own and return these needles to my very generous friend.

Future projects include a Diva Hat and Fetching, using the same local yarn from Rabbit Ridge Designs, in I used for my Diva hat. I now have 2 more skeins of sock yarn coming in the mail from Maui Yarns, so pretty sure that between the 4 different sock yarns I purchased on Ebay last month and these 2 new skeins, I'll be starting a pair of socks soon. I'm really leaning towards doing a set of Toe-Up Jaywalkers. Just have to figure out if I can knit and walk while doing these. Seems like everyone at Ravelry has done a pair, or at least they get talked about a lot in Podcasts.

Well, that's it for what's on my needles. I might post more about the Kauai trip, or maybe I'll finally have a finished project to share!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Kauai Farmers Markets & Uncle Juan

I'm a big fan of Farmer's Markets and, turns out, there was one on the first full day we were in Kauai. Living here in Alaska means fresh local produce choices are pretty tough to come by during the winter. Your pretty much stuck with carrots, potatoes and green house tomatoes. So, I was really looking forward to getting some real fresh produce while on vacation. It appears that most the grocery store's produce in Kauai is the same well traveled, well aged produce that we get up here. Not too tasty!

So, my mother, myself and my eldest son, Vince, hit the Farmer Market in Hanalei on that Saturday am. It's the same day that I went to Strings and Things.

The reason my son was with us was because he had $5.00 that he wanted to spend on a necklace. The $5.00 was bribery money for the flight to Kauai the previous day. The boys usually are pretty good air-travelers, but I think they were too excited on this journey and on the flight from Anchorage to Seattle, the younger son, Ian, must of asked how much longer, at least 10 times. It was driving me crazy! I offered to give each boy $1.00 in quarters and that it would cost them a quarter to get an answer to any variation of this question. Of course, both immediately said "What the heck can we buy with a dollar?". Yeah, they were right, so I upped the anti to $5.00, $1.00 per question. Worked like a charm! They actually figured out on their own, how to find the answer, without disturbing me.

Okay, back to the Farmers Market. It was refreshingly raining while we shopped. There we several local artists selling their hand-made items. Glass, shells, photos, paintings. All of it beautiful. Then we came up to a table with hand-made necklaces. The artist told us how made all his beads. The bamboo beads were made from bamboo grown in his yard. Vince loved them. So did I. They were more than the $5.00 so I put in the extra $20 for him to buy it. Better than buying one made in China or Taiwan at the ABC Store.

We also bought the beautiful fresh picked lettuce pictured at the top. I had to try a fresh cold coconut. it needed some rum and pineapple juice, which I was sure to add later that day. We bought a chino (?) (some kind of round kiwi-ish fruit that has a cinnamon-sweet taste), pineapples (of course), papaya, a grapefruit/orange hybrid, local honey (amazing) and the best avocados, this ex-californian has ever tasted.

When we got back my younger son, Ian, loved Vince's necklace and we ended up taking him to the Farmers market on the following Tuesday to get his very own necklace.

Then, the next day, the boys and I stopped in Kapaa on our way to Costco, in Lihue, and somehow, ended up in Larry's Music Store. So we're in the store looking for an item Vince needed for his guitar and the clerk says to us "Did you get those from Uncle Juan?". Turns out, Uncle Juan comes by every Tuesday morning to sell them eggs. The clerk told the boys how hard Uncle Juan works on these necklaces, explaining again to us how the beads are made. I don't think Vince has taken his off since.

There's more to come......

Here's a picture taken this am. Once again, we got a little to excited that winter was over. The good news, though, is my dogs aren't tracking in mud today. It's been horribly muddy in our yard for the last few days.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Casting On in Paradise***Caution, Contains Nudity (not Me)***

You'll have to look further down the page for the nudity.

Okay, now that I have your attention, I'll continue..... Both my son's and I arrived in Kauai around 8:30pm, which was about 10:30 AK time, and were greeted by my brother, mother and my 6 year old niece Kayla. They had come in much earlier in the day,from San Francisco, with the rest of my brother's family, and decided to meet us at the airport. I'd planned on just driving out to the house that we were all staying at on the north shore, using a map I'd printed up, but my brother was very concerned that we'd have trouble finding the house, way over on the north shore. Very nice surprise. After picking up the luggage and my rental car, a very cute white Saturn Vue, I followed my brother to the house. It was well after 10pm by the time we arrived at the house and all were exhausted. The next am, I decided to round up my cashmere and get ready to cast-on out on the Lanai(porch).

Turns out, I'd left my size 7 circulars (addi turbos) on the airplane. As mentioned earlier, I'd been using them for a cable needle while working on my socks. Bummer! I guess I'd have to pay a visit to the only knitting shop on the whole island of Kauai. Can you believe how lucky I was that this shop was only about 3 miles from us, in Hanalei?

So after hitting Tunnels Beach for a few hours in the am, I jumped in the car,with my eldest son, age 10, to Hanalei.

The shop is called Strings and Things, and is a combination knitting store and Ukelele Shop. I was able to find/replace my needles with exactly the same needles. Very happy I didn't have to buy straight needles. I have been using circulars several years, for most of my projects. I find it much more comfortable to knit this way.

The shop very charming and had a great selection of yarns, none local, though. Also, the owner was very helpful and friendly. Somehow, I left with only my needles, oh, and a cool guitar pick my son picked out. He'd brought his guitar along to Kauai, so he could learn some new songs with his uncle.

So, a little later that afternoon, I was all set to cast on. Everyone was eager to get back to the beach, so grabbed my knitting and headed off with the family. Turns out, there were several women at this public beach going "European(topless)" at the beach. One of which even decided to do the "Full Monty", that butt-naked for you non-movie goers. As Americans, we tend to be on the prudish side. And, believe me, the kids really thought it was funny. So, here I am having a discussion about how the human body is nothing to be ashamed about, as my boys giggled away.

After snorkeling for a while, I decide to cast-on at Tunnels and have my mother take a picture of me with the Na-pali coast in the background (picture at top). No sooner had she taken the first picture, when these ladies decided to take a dip in the ocean. How could I resist? I had my mom take a few more pictures of me from the opposite direction, which was where the ladies were. They're over my head in the first two pictures. I guess I'll have to add the next picture for full affect.

Now, just for the record, this was a very public beach, and in the USA, it's illegal to sunbath topless or nude, in a public setting. I, myself, have visited the South of France and sunbathed topless at a private beach, and I really didn't mind that these ladies were at Tunnels. But, how could I resist taking these photos. I mean, really, it was my first day in Hawaii, I was taking pictures for my blog and it was a public beach. So here's the last photo I took of the ladies.

Thank you ladies, whoever you are, for giving the whole family many hours of giggles during the rest of the trip. Can't say it was the highlight, but definitely memorable for all!

I'll be posting more about the trip soon....

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Knitting on The Plane

I'm a sucker for the little touches. Lei's on the napkins, cups and even the plane(not a real one), so cute. Oh, and the free Maitai wasn't too bad either.

As I'd mentioned in a previous blog post, I decided to knit my Boyfriend Socks while traveling on the plane to Kauai. I'm not one who likes to pack a lot of carry-on items with me when traveling, and put a lot of thought into what I was riding along with. I decided to take theses socks and, just in case I finished them on the plane, I'd take along one skein of my cashmere along with the pattern for the Cabled Scarf from Plymouth.

Now, one thing both these patterns have in common is......cables. So, as I listened to Diva Knitting on my Ipod, I reached into my project bag to get my cable needle. It should of been in there, after all, I'd been using it while working on my 1st sock the previous day. Nope, nada, negative. Sigh!

My guess it that I must of left it at school while I was knitting during my break, in the library, with the most gorgeous view of the mountains.

This isn't the first time that I've had my knitting plans changed due to my forgetfulness, when I fly. On another recent flight to the lower 48, I was traveling alone and looking forward to knitting and listening to a real good book I'd downloaded from Audiobooks, Water For Elephants. Well, I'd forgot to lock my ipod and it had been playing in my purse. When I took it out to listen to, I only had about a quarter of the battery life left. Since then, I've been very careful to lock my ipod before putting back in my purse.

So, back to this trip, I decided to use my mechanical pencil to hold my cable stitches. That worked horribly slowly. Then I realized that I had the size 7 circular needles for the scarf that I could use and just slide the stitches through to the other side. This worked much better and I proceeded to knit away on my sock.

As I got near the length of my first sock (these are toe-up socks), I realized I still had a lot of yarn left. Being the clever person I am, I had used a scale to weigh my yarn as I knit the first sock and was supposed to stop when the unused yarn was 2 oz. Very clever, if you used the scale right. Not so clever, if you don't. Well, I must of done the later.

I decided to knit the 2nd sock to the same length of the first sock and then proceeded to make to even sized balls of yarn with the remaining yarn. I had to cut my yarn using the mechanical pencil, since I didn't have any scissors. I knit the 2nd sock even longer, then did the 10 rows for the cuff, but once again, still had way too much yarn. By then, I called it quits. We were landing in Kauai!

More to come.......

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back from Paradise (Kauai)

Just got in this afternoon. Our flight from Kauai left at 10:30 last night and I've slept a total of 4 hours during our long return home. So, I'll have to share my knitting and vacationing adventures with everyone when my brain isn't so foggy. I did knit and I have pictures to share, just need to get my unpacking done and a good nights sleep. The picture above was at Ke'e Beach on the North Shore. In addition to the beautiful sunset, I swam with a huge turtle at this beach (no picture, just a great memory).