Monday, April 30, 2012

Magic Treetop Bag

I realized I've been pretty quiet lately on the blog front.
Fact is, my phone is dead. Completely kaput: the screen is cracked from my son's tantrum in the line at Michael's, the cord input is misaligned causing it to beep erratically about a low battery in spite being plugged in, and I'm just not sure if it's going to make it. I'm probably going to have to buy a whole new phone and the reason I bring this up is because I use my phone to take pictures for the blog.
I have the webcam, but the little camera on my phone is of much higher quality and I really miss having it around. :(
I have finished a few objects I'd love to share, but what's the point of mentioning them if I don't have the means to show them to you!? Then suddenly I remembered I have a camera! I dug around for a while to find the little $30 digital camera I bought myself for my birthday (it was hidden under a pile of make up and mittens in the furthest drawer from my mind) and then I rummaged further still to find the camera cord so I can present to you:
The Magic Treetop Bag!

Size US 15 (10mm) needles, circular for bag portion and straight for flap and I-cord
Cascade Ecological Wool, held doubled

This project was so quick! Seriously, I decided to cast on when my son started to nap. I watched the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox and the bag portion was done. A few hours later and I had the flap and just needed to add fringe, felt and sew! I tried felting by hand first, and the little leaf felted quickly.
But I found myself annoyed with the felting process (as usual) and just threw it in the dryer.
While searching for a nice button to affix to it, I ran into a little owl patch I bought on a whim. I said hello and asked if he would like to perch on my magic bag. He agreed, and he is keeping a watchful eye.
 Attached with the leaf is a little key a friend gave me, some beads I bought at a pow wow last year, and a little skull from a bracelet that my son broke.
I have a whole baggie full of the yellow and orange beads, and I thought I would add a few more to the fringe (because the fringe reminds me of dreadlocks and I would like to hear the beads click together while I walk) but I would need to use glue to secure them, and I'm not entirely sure where I could find some in my house right now...
I am henceforth on the lookout for a good button to put in the middle as well, but for now this project is DONE!
I have a few other FO's to snap pictures of, so you can expect to hear from me again soon. ^_^
I still miss my phone camera, though...

Friday, April 27, 2012

FO Friday: Red Cabled Pullover

The last sweater before summer: warm wool, and svelte cables.
...stitched into reality from a dream...
Yarn: Paton's Classic Wool, 3 Skeins, colorway "Bright Red"
Size: 34" (2" negative ease)
Needles: Size US 6 (4mm)
Pattern: I fell hard in love for this Orange Cabled Pullover from Untangling Knots and worked the magic math until I got something like it. Though she worked hers from the top down, I took the reverse approach.

I truly love love LOVE this sweater. It makes me so happy, and so proud, and yet so... self conscious! Seriously, I have nothing in the closet at all to wear with this sweater, and I am not generally the kind of person who wears cropped sweaters anyway. So you might wonder why I decided to make a sweater that I was pretty sure I would rarely, if ever, wear.
Answer: I am a true process knitter. I wanted to make those cables, and I wanted to see if I could take a picture of a lovely sweater and duplicate it without a pattern. It's really truly not perfect, and I had a lot of trouble getting this finished object but now that it's here? I'm going to go and buy a dress that makes it look AWESOME and wear it all Autumn long! Luckily, I have all summer to find such a dress.
For now I'm going to block it (the shoulders need special attention) and leave it to dry, and you can expect to hear more about this sweater soon. ^_^
(before blocking)
See more finished objects with Tamis Amis.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hour a day

I have seen a lot of bloggers do these hour a day posts. They usually make me sort of envious, both of their interesting days (lacking diaper changes and temper tantrums) and of their photography skills. I decided to follow myself around with a camera and see what came of it. I just kept my eye on the clock and snapped whatever was happening on the hour. Don't worry, I didn't take a picture of a diaper change, though I can assure you there were many.

8 am.
I woke up, as usual, with a foot in my face. Vyvyan twists and turns during the night and always ends up sideways. He finds it especially fun to dig his toes into my ribs early in the AM.

9 am.
We decided to put on our cool slippers and stomp around the house singing aroostasha. (This is probably an opportune moment to inform you that I am sick and have completely lost my voice. Singing and stomping around the house, however, was still a necessary part of stay-at-home-mommyhood)

10 am
The mail carrier drops off a special package as well as the usual junk brochures.
(My dad ordered A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns from Barbara Walker for me for no reason at all except, apparently, love.) I spent quite a bit of time flipping through it. I'm already a huge fan and want all the rest!
 11 am
Outside time.
Usually we go for a walk, but since I'm sick we stayed on the porch and blew bubbles and drew our shapes and letters. I bought Vyvyan this really cool automatic bubble blower that he can operate by pressing a button and it keeps him amused for about an hour!
 12 pm
Temper tantrum.
Always at LEAST one of these in the day.
This one was superficially about a laptop toy that he couldn't open, but it was really because I wasn't cooking fast enough.

1 pm
Free time.
This means Vyvyan gets to play with his trains and I get to play with my yarn. He is pretty good about playing by himself at this time of day, though he will occasionally bring me a book to read aloud. (Today we read "Diego's Dinosaur Adventure," which never explained how exactly Diego and his sister Alicia went back in time.) While he played quietly, I worked on the border of my huge blanket. (*note: the astute among you will notice that I already finished the aforementioned huge blanket. I actually wrote this post a long time ago but somehow forgot about it until now. It's still a pretty accurate representation of a day in my life, though, so it stands. If you want you can substitute "giant shawl". That's what I was working on today.)

 2 pm
At about this point I realize that kid needs a nap or he's going to explode in a giant snotty crying fit and then my own head will explode what with the crying and all.
So we head to the bedroom and curl up together for an episode of Dinosaur Train which, I admit, I am quite fond of. It TOTALLY explains how exactly dinosaurs from different time periods can interact, which other shows about dinosaurs always neglect. (In case you're wondering, there's a Time Tunnel.) I know, I know, I shouldn't think too hard about it, because it's a kid show that features dinosaurs talking to eachother and riding trains, but somehow I care. Also I recently found out that it's produced by the Jim Henson company, which did a little to alleviate my guilt for liking it. Also, I'm learning a lot about dinosaurs. Which is totally useful knowledge.
3 pm
Dose myself with Theraflu (usually it's Earl Gray) and relax in the knowledge that I am my own human being who can go to the bathroom without a little boy coming in and saying "YUCKY POOPOO!" when I'm going pee, and then who says "FLUSH!" and then says "WASH HANDS!" like I don't already know the drill. Believe me, I love my baby, but nap-time is a heavenly time.
Especially when I'm sick and need to rest my voice.

4 pm
I decide to bust out the sewing machine for some practice. After all, I'll never finish that ski sweater if I don't cut the armholes and I'm never going to cut the armholes if I don't learn how to use my machine. Inspired by the "Sewing Studio" Craftsy course I enrolled in during their 75% off sale, (Dude. 75% off sale. You gotta keep up with these things, cuz their classes are totally awesome when they aren't $60) I went ahead and sewed a real, live, actual, almost-straight line!!!
And to think, I'm always so scared I'm going to clog the machinery or break a needle or something.
Oh yeah.
Then I broke a needle.
BUT!!! I then replaced the needle, which usually I would have just cried about what a terrible match I am for sewing. And then I clogged the machinery. Then the needle wouldn't go in the stupid hole and then .... I ate a few cookies.
5 pm
I went back to what I'm familiar with until the kid woke up.
(He woke up saying, "Hey dude! Hey dude! Hey dude!")

6 pm
Feed Mr. Fishy, our pet goldfish. (Mr. Fishy had a companion Dr. Suckerfish, but unfortunately the good doctor has passed on.) Mr. Fishy lives in the dining room, so it's always easy to remember that he needs to eat the same time we do. Sometimes we eat fish in front of him, and I feel kind of bad. Not today though. We ate leftover ham.

7 pm
We don't usually have dessert, but today I cooked some sweet potatoes to go with dinner but timed them wrong so they were late enough to be considered dessert. I just added a little butter, brown sugar and walnuts: Yummy, healthy food that is NOT photogenic at all. Me and Vyvyan each had our own fork but dug into the same bowl as we sat on the kitchen floor. We don't usually do that, either. OK we do sometimes. I like sitting on the floor. ;)

8 pm
Um. I didn't do a picture. Damn.
But basically Vyvyan probably headbutted me for an hour while I tried desperately to read enough books to put him to sleep.

So I'm sure you can see why I haven't done one of these posts before: My life is really boring!
If you've ever wondered how I have so many finished objects, well, this is why. It's generally me and Vyvyan all day every day, playing games and watching trains. This particular day was more relaxed because I'm sick, but even in general I don't leave the house very often. Like, we might hang out in the backyard, or go for a walk to the local safeway, or Big Lots, but we just don't do a whole lot. I just talk and talk and talk and he listen listen listens to my thoughts about the world, the things I think he needs to know, or just whatever comes out of my mouth.
He gets plenty of social interaction when we visit my sister's daycare, but me? Hah. I gots the interwebnets.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Short post for you today...
Three things:
1) I have started (and frogged and re-started) the first sleeve on my red cabled pullover.
2) I got a haircut
3) I think Paton's Classic Wool is softer than Cascade 220, and that's before I've blocked it.

That is all.

Check out more WIPs with Tamis Amis!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


So I realized yesterday, as I lay haphazardly on the sticky leather couch, that it is beginning to get a bit warm here in California. I'll be honest, last night my brother was laying on the couch wearing only his boxers and I was jealous because I had to wear shorts AND a tank top. Which, actually, is utterly unfair because I think technically having boobs makes you sweatier but I digress.
The fact of the matter is, it is too hot to knit with wool.
I have done a quick count of my works in progress, and out of the 14 I can think off the top of my head, 11 are either 100% wool or a wool blend. (One of them is even alpaca!) And let's face it, those other 3 are not exactly thrilling projects. (Acrylic garter stitch scarf, cotton socks in stockinette, and a cotton dishcloth I started last night when I realized with a pang that the idea of trying on my wool pullover to check the fit made me want to peel my own skin off.)
So, now I need to go through all of my works in progress and figure out which ones are still workable in this weather (like the socks, all the socks are ok) and which are going to need to go into deep hibernation and perhaps have the needles torn out of them for use on other things. (Alpaca sweater, I'm looking at you!- same goes for the wool pants. No. Way.)
Luckily I do have some cotton hiding in my stash, and even a few summer-style projects I've been saving. These include:
1) Empire Strikes Back Dress
2) Baby Corn
3) Baby Cardigan (I hopped onto Beyond Rectangles the second it went on sale)
But even with this lineup, and plenty of fingering weight for when the weight of a cotton dress is too much, I fear that the lethargy that summer brings will kick in and I will get little done.
I mean.... it was pretty hot yesterday and it is the middle of April. It was 91 degrees in the house, and that is NOTHING compared to the temperatures coming in July and August. And um... we don't have an air conditioner. So I might have plenty of tiny cotton dishcloths to share with you in the future.

Just a warning.

Friday, April 20, 2012

FO Friday

In an unfortunate turn of events, it seems I have only one finished object to offer you this week and it is not pretty. Or impressive. Or even large.
See...I wanted to make a frog to celebrate Save the Frogs day with my son. So today I share with you, my failure of a frog.
The state of the thing is embarrassing: his eyes protrude from his face shamefully, his legs flail wildly and worse still, he is hopelessly flat.
So, yes, this is my sole knitted object this week. A frog that looks like he has had an unhappy vehicular collision resulting in increased depression. Literal. Depression.
I tried to fluff him up a little, give him some life for the photo shoot, but well.. his flatness remained.
Let's face it: I made a roadkill frog. His only consolation is that he snugly fits in the smallest pocket of my purse and so I have decided there he shall remain. Flat though he may be, he is a frog and my son quite likes hopping him around and going "ribbit!"

I used size 0 dpns and got the free pattern from Frogs Vs Fungus. I used some leftover Cascade Heritage Silk (I thought it was cute that the project it was leftover from was a sock project called "Tadpoles") and he worked up in an hour or so. The frogs in the picture are much more plump, and I highly suspect that the designer stuffed them although there is no mention of it in the pattern. I really should have thought to do it myself, though. (He is so utterly flat.)

Regarding the pattern, I think there was a mistake in the increasing (or was it the decreasing?) but I wasn't paying a world of attention so perhaps not. I did like the clever short row eyes, but the legs were wholly unsatisfying. I had originally intended to make quite a few of these frogs, but after this one... well... Let's just say I wouldn't want to participate in Save the Frogs day if they looked like this!!
So, the next frog I try (Yes I'm still set on making a frog) will be this crocheted tree frog.
This FO Friday is a double failure because my mom's Mara is still unfinished and her birthday is Monday! (EEK!!)

So head to Tamis Amis to find -hopefully- some more successful projects!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Plain ol' heel

Plain ol' toe

 One down, and one to go

Needles: US 1
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too Crock O Dye
Pattern: So. Much. Ribbing.
More projects (less ribbing) at Tamis Amis

Friday, April 13, 2012

FO Friday

I was wringing my hands wondering how I was going to finish anything by Friday when suddenly I realized, I DID finish something this week!
Easter Sweater
I bought the yarn and cast on for this sweater on the morning April 5th, and finished it in the evening on April 7th. Not bad, considering I basically designed it from scratch.
I definitely took inspiration from this pattern, which deserves all the credit, but I did make a few changes so I'm quite proud of myself.

Yeah I'm wearing plastic pearls, what of it?

Yarn: Gala Mixed Fiber (AKA unknown acrylic from Big Lots), 250 grams (5 balls)
Bust measurement: 32"
Needles: US 6 (for the stitch pattern) and 8 (for stockinette portion) 29" circular needles
Gauge: 3.5 stitches & 5 rows to the inch

I made a swatch and did some calculations. At my gauge, if I would have followed the pattern (which didn't give a gauge) I would have had a 45" sweater. I decided, rather than worry about bust increases, I would just do the ribbing on small needles and that the stockinette was probably stretchy enough to accommodate my bust. Then I knit for a while until I decided I'd rather have a V neck than a round neck, started that and then began the armhole shaping.

(Information for the armscye shaping and V-neck was found in The New Knitter's Template, a book I bought on a whim when KnitPicks had one of their 40% off sales. It has come in handy more than once, and will, I hope, continue be very useful in the future as I start modifying more designs to fit my body.)

After I worked some short rows to shape the shoulders (thank you Paula Ward!) and grafted them, I picked up and worked the sleeves top-down. Which was pretty fun.
I really like how sweaters come together when constructed like this.
On the whole, it was a very pleasant knitting experience, because I was never quite sure if it was going to work out! It was nice to be able to try it on easily (Definitely better than when you do a sweater in pieces and have to pin the whole thing together!) and it served very well on Easter morning...

Oh, and I knit the cabled band separately and seamed it as I worked. I actually knit two pieces, because I didn't want the cable to be upside down on one of the fronts. I grafted them at the back neck. I used mattress stitch to attach it as I worked so that I didn't accidentally end up having to work in any extra length.

Of course, now that it's done the yarn kind of obscures the neat cable pattern on the band anyways, but oh well...
At least the YO's in the band double as buttonholes. (sort of)

I kept thinking about what Maggie Righetti said in Knitting in Plain English: How she traveled to Mexico and stayed with women who "instead of using a pre-written pattern, they began with pictures clipped from European fashion magazines, yarn and needles, a few measurements, and a pencil and blank paper. They finished with glorious, beautiful, well-fitted creations."

I maybe wouldn't call my creation "glorious," but it sure was a new experience for me to knit from a picture rather than a pattern. I wish I had used a smaller needle on my purl rows, though, because it looks really ratty with every other row loose. Plus it's not exactly the greatest yarn in the world. (Though it is REALLY soft) Still, I have my notes and could easily make another with better materials.

Unfortunately, I didn't wash my swatch so I have no idea what will happen to it when I inevitably wash it.

That's it for me!
Well I sort of almost finished my crocheted blanket but I have some more plans for it.
It is technically a blanket though, and therefore belongs in this post ;)
It's purdy big.
Check out more FO's with Tamis Amis.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


So about my sweater....

I had a bit of an issue with the armhole shaping; I got quite upset because it was not "perfect." I actually did a video blog about my frustrations, but when the solution posed itself so elegantly, I decided I'd rather not post the video....especially since said solution was also the most obvious one. 

I also had a dye lot mishap. Let's just say that I freaked out, and the sweater is on time-out for scaring me.

I would just pretend the sweater's coming along smoothly, but then I'm afraid you might want pictures of it's progress... So just so you know, it's on time-out and I'm working on a nice pair of socks instead.

Because actually?
Just as my issue with the armhole shaping was utterly solvable, my dye lot mishap was actually non-existent. I freaked out and cried a bit, absolutely convinced my sweater was ruined. I presented my sob story to everybody in the house, (none of whom actually cared) and made a big deal about how I was going to have to frog The Whole Entire Thing (as if that was a first). I even posted a pity-me status update on Facebook! And then! I started a stash search on Ravelry begging and pleading with innocent knitters to please trade me my bright red yarn for their slightly darker bright red yarn. All this, BEFORE I checked my own stash for more yarn of the right color. And yeah, there was totally more yarn in there.
That's right. I freaked out over nothing. Needless to say, I felt really really dumb.

So now?
Now there's thunder out, I'm wrapped up cozy on the couch with my kindle (Great Expectations) and I'm knitting a plain ol' 2x2 sock. I'm turning the heel, it's great fun, and it makes me feel smart.
So there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I know I wasn't supposed to cast on this sweater until after my mom's shawl is complete...
Me and the shawl had a long talk, and we decided it's really for the best for me to pursue this spicy little red sweater first.

I'm about halfway through the bust increases, and it's coming along nicely.
This sweater is going to be based on Andi Satterlund's Orange Cabled Pullover. By based on, I mean I'm going to try to make it as identical as possible considering my yarn is red and I'm working bottom-up instead of top-down. So far it's looking good, but I didn't do the double twist at the bottom of the center cable. I really like the way it looks on her sweater, but the way my gauge works out I don't think I'll have enough space on my short torso to do it.

Actually the more I look at this picture, the more I regret this decision... Perhaps that full twist is what drew me to the sweater in the first place. So, do I rip? Do I decide later and snip a stitch and work downwards? Can I do that with cables? Can I just swap them, back twists for forward twists and vice versa?

Hmm... I guess I'll just keep knitting because it's awfully good fun and then worry about it later. That's also my plan for the armscye math and for solving my uneven stockinette stitch issue. (I plan on using "trick three" from Techknitter's article on the subject)

Anyways here's a sort of weird picture of me trying it on for fit (I promise I will never wear this sweater with jeans)
So that's what I'm working on while the shawl does it's penance for being boring. (It seems to be a repeat offender.)
Check out more WIPS with Tamis Amis, and hopefully I'll see you again for FO Friday. Something's gotta get done over here or I'll drown in WIPs!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

We woke up and got all dressed up so we could run around outside.

Hid eggs, and found Easter baskets on the front porch.

Then we blew bubbles,

and ate our eggs.

All in all, it was a good day. It was nice weather. Warm, in fact.... Too warm to wear a sweater.

But you bet I wore it anyways.
Happy Easter from my family to yours!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mini-sweater update!

The sweater is done. It will be warming my shoulders while I go Easter egg hunting tomorrow!

I decided to be lazy and, instead of crocheting loops for button holes, just use the yarn-overs imbedded in the cable pattern.
The buttons, you'll notice, are nothing special. I'm just lucky I found 4 that match! My button collection needs a makeover, that's for sure.
But the sweater fits, it is really warm and soft, and it looks good with my dress. I'll be sure to post some pictures with better lighting soon!
I have about one ball of the Gala left over.
Unfortunately I have no idea how many yards this took, as the skeins were unlabeled. I used up about 5 balls and some of the yarn was unusable: Some bits looked chewed up and other spots were too thin, but there were probably only a few yards total of unusable yarn and on the whole I am satisfied with $1 a ball for this yarn.
Speaking of yarn, I also got a wonderful package in the mail today! No, I didn't break my online buying diet. Remember my Some Cloudy Day legwarmers? We did a knit-along in the Tiny Owl Knits group and one of the prizes was a skein of Pigeonroof Studios Cassiopeia DK.

It's a wonderful and squishy yarn, in the colorway "Electric Violet" and it's a merino, silk, cashmere blend. I just know it wants to be a hat, but I'm not sure what one I should make. I was thinking about Voleur, but there isn't quite enough in the skein. Please share if you have any suggestions! I'll post a picture tomorrow because right now my son is running around like a maniac. Like. A. Maniac. It's the cherry pie we had for dessert, I just know it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Something New

No, the blanket isn't done.
But after the slipper failure I decided to quit hooking for a while and pick up my knitting needles. You know, brush the cobwebs off...
Thing is, I went out and bought myself an Easter dress (yeah, because I'm 10) and I want a nice shrug/ mini sweater to wear with it.

So I hit up Big Lots again (It's the only store within walking distance of myself- I go there a lot) for some worsted weight acrylic.

I dug around on Ravelry for a pattern but didn't really find anything I like. I was quite set on this sweater, but
1) there is no gauge given
2) it is only in a size 36/38
3) it is knit in pieces and then sewn up
4) no schematic

So I made myself a swatch and found that if I followed the directions as written the garment would be almost 10 inches too big for me. So I decided I might as well re-vamp the whole thing: knit it all in one piece to minimize seaming, employ the top-down in-the-round sleeve technique, and make it a V-neck.

So far it's going along swimmingly.

 And the back view:

I'm not sure how the V neck will turn out... Especially since I intend on doing the band separately and then sewing it on, just like in the pattern. If that fails, I think an applied I-cord will looks just fine. I still haven't decided how I plan on closing the sweater when none of my buttons match the yarn, the dress, or each other.
Here it is clasped shut with stitch markers. I needed to stretch it a bit, but hopefully the button/neckband will provide the necessary width.
So yeah! Not bad for 1 and a half days of knitting/designing!
I have high hopes it will be done by Easter. My hopes are so high that I'm taking a gardening break!