Sunday, February 28, 2010

Maybe a little bit of research is in order

It's Sunday night. I'm sitting pretty comfortably with my tax papers stacked next to the computer, the NBC pre-show for the Olympic closing ceremony playing on the TV (which, I might add, is giving Chuck the fits; "This is such schlock! I can't believe they're making us watch this sappy footage; can't they just replay the event without the stupid commentary?!?"), my project bag is full of yarn for my next project, and a glass of red wine is at hand. All of the worries of my last entry have been alleviated. Amy received her baby blanket and my Ravelympics wrap is drying on the blocking board. I was able to complete both in good time, but if needed to voice complaints about both projects....

I ended up needing to cut Amy's baby blanket a few rounds short because I just plain ran out of time working with it. I wanted to give it a wash and lay it flat before giving it to her -- and ended up staying up until 4:30 Saturday morning just to do so. Yes, 4:30 am. This made Saturday suck rocks because I still got up at 7:30 to take Sylvain to his bus for his last ski trip of the season and to attend my 8:30 fitness class. After class, I stopped at the office to check on some samples I had starting running on Friday morning and to do just an hours' worth of e-mail and messages. Afterwards, I went on the hunt for the perfect box for the blanket. Originally, I had wanted to use a cute hat box that I had seen at Meijer previously. Of course, I found that they were no longer available, so I took a quick trip over to Hobby Lobby and found an even cuter box.

As for the blanket itself: even though this is the fourth or fifth time I worked this pattern, I made sure to correct something that had been nagging me on the previous blankets. For the attached I-cord trim, I cut the working yarn, used a crochet cast on (chained 7 or so stitches using a waste yarn, casted on 3 stitches into three of the center chains, allowing extra chain stitches to hang on either side) to being the I-cord. This provided me a very neat corner that I was able to Kitchener shut. Of course, I didn't think to take pictures of this. Maybe taking good photos will be the part I'll change for the next blanket, so somebody, hurry up and have a baby already. [Acutally.....maybe I'll have one come your way, Carrie, if I knew your due date....] The finished dimensions on this blanket ended up being 32" x 32". As for the yarn, it was a good one -- no issues with splitting or odd breaks in the skein. Overall, it was a pretty solid superwash wool. My only complaint is that the color changes were very short (1" to 1.5" long), giving the blanket a look that reminds me of those microwave cakes from the late-80s (you know, those cakes that came with their own little microwavable trays -- the "confetti" version). [If anyone remembers this particular food atrocity, please let me know -- it's killing me to recall the company and brand name of this product and my on-line searches are coming up empty.]

One thing that Amy and Andy did ask was what made the wool washable. I was at a complete and total loss as to really what to say and just replied that it was all in the way that the yarn was processed, forgetting that they are a very conscientious couple when it comes to chemical and environmental issues. Amazingly, it's never really occurred to me before to wonder what was really involved in making a wool washable, so I'm going to make it a point to find out and at least let them know. I'd hate to think that anything within the wool used to make this blanket would expose their baby to anything harmful. Usually when selecting a superwash wool for a gifted item, I'm concerned with making sure that the end product is as maintenance-free for the recipient as possible. Unless the recipient has a true appreciation for wool, they're not willing or understanding enough to care for the item in a way so that it doesn't shrink or felt (or both). Any suggestions from bloggerville on where to start in my fact-finding mission?

As for the Ravelympics Petals Wrap: my biggest complaint is that I'm not too sure about the crochet border. It looks even and the numbers worked out with what the pattern suggested as for stitch spacing, but on the mat, it just looks a little pulled in certain sections. If I'm really not happy with it, I just might end up ripping out the border and fixing it (really, it wasn't hard to do -- just a SC and CH1 with a bead inserted every 5th chain or so). I have a nice sized hank of the yarn left and a ton of beads. In fact, I have so many beads left over that I wondered if I did the edging incorrectly, but after re-reading the directions, found that I was right and there's just a lot of extra. If I were selling this kit, I would decrease the number of beads by 3/4, but that's just me. Maybe folks are using the beads within the pattern, which would be really neat, but involve more forward planning than I allowed myself for this project....

Well, I'm off to complete my taxes (yay, money!), work out the details with Chuck on our summer Southwestern USA extravaganza vacation, and get to knitting.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Somewhat out of panic

I've finally hit a new low. I'm sitting in my hotel room, full after having eaten some pizza, and am now knitting while watching TV. But, the knitting isn't fun and I'm trying very hard to not go into a bit of a panic over my projects. I'm woefully behind and can't seem to take decent enough photos just to show you how bad the situation really is.

The projects I'm working are a Rippled Baby Blanket out of superwash wool by Lonesome Stone Jelly Bean for my friend Amy and the Petals wrap out of Just Our Yarns Aziza tencel for myself (my Ravelympics project).

The "plan" is to have the baby blanket complete by the time I get home tomorrow night so that it can be blocked before I go to bed. The shower is Saturday afternoon; so, yes, I'm cutting it quite close. I have 2.5 more balls to go thru and the "plan" is to knit all but 1 ball, which would be reserved for an I-cord border.

As for the wrap, I had the most horrendous knot in my skein of tencel that it took the wind out of knitting on both Monday and Tuesday. I'm on the second arm of the wrap, so I'll need to finish it up, then crochet a beaded border. I'm not a strong crocheter and haven't worked with beads this way....And, with this being a Ravelympics project, the goal is to have this wrap completed by the closing Olympic ceremony, which is, what, Sunday night?!?

In addition to dealing with the fateful knotted wad of tencel, Monday night was spent sewing ribbon onto my Trapeze-line sweater so that it could be worn Tuesday. (Yes, I had sewn it once, but once side was uneven and still rolled inwards, so needed to be ripped out and sewn again.)

On the plus side, I have tonight, as well as several hours on the train tomorrow for the blanket; and Friday and Saturday night and all-day Sunday for the wrap. Wish me well and I hope to have a more positive message (and photos) next time....

Monday, February 15, 2010

Three annoyances

In case you're just joining us, let me warn you that I can be a particularly bitchy person. Hey! At least, I can admit that much....So, for your entertainment, I decided to dedicate this entry to three annoyances that I'd just like to get off my chest.


Yes, I'm sad to report that during my last dental cleaning and check-up, Dr. Watts kindly warned me that my gums are beginning to show the effects of me clenching and grinding my teeth (bruxism, if you will). Not only am I annoyed that I've developed this habit in the first place, but I'm particularly upset by the fact that now that I know I'm doing it and the adverse repercussions it poses, I find myself consciously trying not to do it. I must've ground my teeth pretty often, since I now find my jaw hurting out of discomfort in trying to stop myself. So, if you're talking to me and I start making faces, it's not you -- I'm just trying to not grind my teeth. Well, now that I read that last sentence over, maybe I should say that it could be you and I'm trying to not grind my teeth....

Jeans at the gym

I may not look it, but since mid-December, I've been working out at the gym 3 to 4 times a week for about an hour and a half to two hours at a time. This is amazing progress for me and I'm very proud to have been able keep this up as regularly as I have. I'm the girl on the elliptical and treadmill who is working hard and sweating like a pig. I'm in it to win it, folks. So, imagine my sheer annoyance at the crazy ladies who show up and have the absolute gall to take the machines next to me who are working out in jeans. I know that what they're wearing is completely none of my business, but c'mon! Were you elsewhere and totally forget your gym clothes? Did you just happen to drive by the gym and had the uncontrollable need to be on a step machine? This happened to me, not once, but one day....with two different casual gym patrons. Really, ladies, leave and let someone serious who is waiting to use the machine you're on get a decent work out!

Reading lace to fix a mistake

It is no accident that the Ravelympics challenge I joined was the "Lace Luge". (Go, Team Michigan!) Besides socks, lace is something that I'm not strong at. So, my project is the "Petals" wrap by Jeanne Abel. My hope was to have it done by yesterday, but that didn't happen. I somehow dropped a stitch and couldn't follow the pattern well enough to drop down and fix it without tearing out several rows. (Yes, I know that lifelines are helpful; and no, I won't use them.) My own stubbornness on that point, compounded by my weak lace skills are what have me very annoyed with knitting at the moment.

Thank you for listening. I'm on the train to La Crosse (via Chicago) and will update this entry with links and photos (of the "Petals" wrap, not my teeth) when I get to a real computer....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What the crap?!?

Hi everyone.

I'm still here and, for now, the stupid modem is still working. I've been meaning to update with all sorts of stuff....but the second I log on, the DSL connection would fail. Grrrr...Seeing how we've already established that I have a healthy amount of rage going on, it took everything I had to keep from ripping the wires out of the little modem box and flinging it across the room. When you see Chuck, please help me by asking him if we received our new modem yet. I've nagged him daily to contact AT&T and complain; apparently, that's what he did when the internet went down while I was away in January. AT&T did something or other and it worked afterwards with no interruptions. Maybe the trick is that I need to go back on the road for him to have to get irritated enough with this on his own to do something about it. Hmmmmm.........

Anyhow, I'll kick off with a gallery of the finished chemo caps that were donated at last weekend's Knit Michigan event. (Note that all of these hats were knit with Berroco Comfort in weights ranging from chunky to DK, as noted.)

  1. The chemo turban: (worsted weight) This was the project that was supposed to be 40" of 4x4 ribbing. I nearly quit this project because I found it to be excruciatingly boring. Just when I couldn't wait to be done knitting the main body, I found that I blew right by 40" and had 42". Of course, I was too lazy to rip out the extra 2", so just left it and finished with the pattern grafting. For Knit Michigan, I made laminated cards that were then attached to the hat so that whomever was to receive it could know the proper way to put it on, since that involved folding the piece over itself.

  2. The off-balance beanie: (worsted weight) This was a very quick and easyily knit hat. It was very nice looking when finished and blocked. The only hiccup was that I unintentionally knit the hat in the round, when the directions were written in the flat. This resulted in the hat "leaning" in the opposite direction from the original intent on the pattern. I was much happier to have not had to sew a seam, so it all worked out in the end.

  3. The Lotus hat: (DK weight) This hat knit up a little small in length, so I ended up increasing the number of cable repeats quite a bit -- from 3 to 8. My favorite part of this hat, though, had to have been the decreases for the crown. I love it when everything works out like this where the effect is quite stunning to see in person. Hopefully, the photo will give you a good idea of how neat it looks, but it really doesn't quite capture that effect fully.

  4. The Wavy Cable Lace hat: (DK weight) This was a fun and very quick little hat. I had no problems with it or the yarn, so don't really have much to report. I'm might make this hat again for a future chemo cap.

  5. "Ann's Hat": (chunky weight) I made the Adult medium size of this hat. While reading through the pattern, I noticed that the Child/Adult small and Adult large sizes called for casting on with an odd number of stitches (the Adult medium was an even number). This pattern is done in an every other row rib, so I’d think that there would be a traveling stitch up the back if an odd number of stitches were indeed used….So, if knitting either of those sizes, you might consider increasing/decreasing by one then adjusting back to the original cast on number in the purl row before decreasing for the crown of the hat. Other than that, this was another very quick knit. The funnest part of the hat had to have been working the flower, which involved knitting in the front and back of the casted on stitches. I've never done a flower this way before and found it to be a pretty easy way to work one.
Well, I have a ton more stuff to say, but this is a very good start after being muted for so long. I'm off to get ready to meet Sarah for coffee at a new shop that's opened up where Cappuccino Cafe used to be....