Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Red Alert: It is Gift Knitting Season!

Sheri at Loopy Ewe brought this to to my full attention with her post about gift knitting on September 11th. It is only 86 days til holiday time. Egads!

It is time for the gift knitting list. Now, mark my words, I am usually six months ahead with gift planning, in fact, last year I started my gift knitting with a rousing round of Ravelympics projects in August. This year, not doing so well. In fact, I have not even written the gift knitting list...OMG.

To remind myself that, yes indeed, it is time, I stopped last week on my way home from the shop where I teach and took this picture of the fall colors that are getting brighter every day.

With this in mind, I began my list today. I won't be knitting for everyone this year because there is not enough time. However for those who I know will appreciate and use my efforts regularly I will be knitting handy warming items to help them get through the cold winter ahead. I ahve been sifting through my pattern collection to find the things I will need to buy yarn for. May get some of it at the upcoming Taos Wool Festival.

I am sure some will ask where do I get my ideas for gift knits? My favorite places to date are Ravelry and the Loopy Ewe - I ordered patterns for cowls and handwarmers (ssssh) that are beautiful, take about a skein of yarn to complete both items and let me practice some lace knitting techniques in the round.

My other favorite gift knitting inspiration is the One Skein Books. I own at least four and find them to be full of ideas that I can either change up what kind of yarn to use or find an item that most folks would not think to knit for themselves.

I love the ideas for spa baskets and lingerie drawer sachets, ipod and cell phone cozies, hats, mittens and all manner of scarves.

So now I am ready to knit gifts. I hope all of you are finding fun ways to show your loved ones that you care!

Friday, September 25, 2009

FO: Visored Beanie is "Really Hip"

Last night I put the final touches on the visored beanie hat sample. It was a fast knit and turned out really cute. I knit it out of Vanna Baby Choice and from the pattern "Reasonably Hip" from the blog A Mighty Good Yarn. I found it through Ravelry.

It is very well written. I will be making one for me this week and trying a larger size. Duckers was nice enough to model it for us and he waves Hi in one pic to let you know he is really under there.

These beanies would make very good charity giveaways as described by the Yarn Harlot from her 2009 calendar on September 22nd. She says that "knitting lends itself ... well to the concept of microcharity." Instead of knitting up a bunch to give to a group to hand out, just knit a few and have them with you so when you see someone that looks like they need a hat you can it directly.

This idea reminds me of the backpack I gifted to a panhandler in Portland in August. I had just replaced the bag with one that better suited my knitting needs and had no plans to haul it back on the plane with me, so when approached by someone asking for a money handout I offered the backpack instead. I think that was more appreciated than any coins I could have offered - which is not my style anyway.

I hope everyone has fun projects on their list!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Update: Visor Beanie on My Needles

I am knitting it with Vanna Baby Choice in Sweet Pea green. As of this morning, I have into the decrease rows at the top. It is a fun knit and the seed stitch patterning for the top of the hat gives it a bulkier look.

I am interested in the brim construction and attachment process. The one size fits all is not going to work for me. It is knitting up to a 19" circumference which is too tight for a hat that I will wear. This one will make a good shop sample.

I will be doing some adjustments to the one I make for myself. At least I have a gauge to work with from this one. On 7s I knit this 4 stitches to the inch. I can either adjust it by knitting it on a size 8 or add 8 stitches to the cast on (have to remember to keep it an odd number because of the seed stitch).

Otherwise this is a fun knit. I hope everyone is working on something that they find exciting!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last Day of Summer

and only 2,424 hours left until the New Year. For me that adds some perspective to my world. We are expecting a cold day, with possible snow in our area. Tomorrow is the first day of Fall. The leaves have been turning gold about 3 weeks earlier than usual.

With that said, I have been busy making stitch markers and double point holders for a shop owner in southern Colorado. And this morning I am digging through my stash looking for some fun yarn to cast on a visored beanie. I found a very cute pattern I am going to try (I love free patterns off the Web :-) and the path to them - Ravelry).

I found this cool green color in Baby Vanna so I will cast this on this morning and see how it knits up. It starts with the brim and works into the hat. It looks like a fun knit.

I hope everyone is ready for Fall and have fun projects going!

Note: I have learned that a visored beanie is also called a Newsboy Cap.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Snack Projects

A snack project is something that fills the craving to knit or craft and does not take too much time or yarn/materials to accomplish it.

In the yarn category, I have found that these include: preemie hats, hand warmers or cuffs, beanies, sachet bags, coffee cup cozies, neckwarmers/cowls, headbands, bookmarks, IPod cozies, and even I-cord to be used for hair ties.

These all make good gift ideas or items for charitable giving. I keep a supply of small items like the headbands, coffee cup cozies, bookmarks for quick I-need-a-gift giving. Patterns for most of these items can be found by either googling or on Ravelry.

Happy snack crafting!

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy mateys! It is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. I plan to take full advantage of this even though I did not get enough stuff together this year to do in regalia. I am living vicariously through the Oregon Life blog out of Portland where they are hosting a full blown celebration complete with re-enactment actors. Wish I was there, I am thinking about going next year.

Brief history about how this got started provided by Wikipedia:

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon,[1] who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.[1] For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with "Hello," but with "Ahoy, me hearty!" The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy.

So this pirate wench is off to tackle some mainsails, do some swashbuckle knitting and maybe "lift a noggin of rum" later. I hope everyone has at least one "Aaargh" moment today and none of the "walk the plank" fear.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fast and Fabulous Friday

Just a fast post as I run out the door to teach a class on the February Lady sweater. I received my purple kitty wristlet from friendywendy this week. It is adorable. And, as pictured, it is reversible which adds a lot of fun and versatility to it. I can hardly wait for the opportunity to use it in public.

Yesterday I found a great sale (thanks for the tip, Mom) on the Serenity Sock Yarn by Premier Yarns from the Deborah Norville Collection. I got 4 sets of colors and will be making more than socks with them. I am a big fan of patterns that call for fingering weight yarn and can use the lovely variegated combinations that come in sock yarns.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous Friday. And don't forget: Talk Like A Pirate tomorrow. Aaargh!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another FO: Earflap Hat

I finished my version of an earflap hat with cables last night. I really like the way this turned out. Now I am going to write up the pattern and make some changes to the design to give it some more interest.

It will be a very warm hat and can be worn with either earflaps tucked inside the hat or down and tied. Next idea is to knit a couple to send the girls in Germany for this winter.

Duckers was a willing model this morning even though he was completely engulfed in the hat.

I hope everyone is happy with their project progress!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Update: Termination Dust and Birthday Bash

Fall has arrived in mountains with the leaves changing very fast and about 3 weeks early. It was interesting to see how much more gold was showing in the trees on the drive to Cripple Creek on Saturday when we went to see the play Godspell at the Butte Opera House. The play was great and supper at the Colorado Grande was yummy.

By Sunday morning the Peak had a mantle of early snow, or Termination Dust, as we call it, signalling the offficial end of summer and portending the winter to come. The view is from the parking lot at Nuts and Bolts and taken when I arrived there for the big birthday bash.

The party was wonderful and the turnout more than they expected. There were make and takes in progress. I had needles and yarn for knitting practice and lots of sample to look at. I met the new knitter that won my Knit O Rama class and we discussed what kind of project she would like to work on.

There was lots of fun new fabrics and displays to look at and the cake was beautiful as well as delicious.

I got pictures of spontaneous modeling of some of my samples. And one of a freshly finished quilted piece called Mojo Rising Out of the Pumpkins that was made for tribute of someone's favorite cat, Mojo Rising.

I also had to take pictures of someone's award winning dolls that were brought in to display.

All in all it was a great day with lots of well wishes for continued success for Woodland Park's premier quilting with other crafts store.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget!

Lesson Learned: Using the Right Tool for the Job

Recently I bought supplies to make some fun row counters that I will use as gifts and may sell a few. I got all the parts out and started trying to put them together and realized that 10mm split rings are not easy to open and slide the other slip ring into.

So I looked through my jewelry tools and nothing I had was going to work. So I went online to see how to manipulate split rings other than wrecking my fingernails. Guess what I learned? There is a such a thing as split ring pliers.

So now I own a pair and they work like a charm. My fingernails thank me. I created a test model to try on my own knitting and I like it.

I will be making some more with a little larger split ring which is the part that rides on the needles. This is a great row counter idea for scarf knitters because when you get to the split ring you have to do something with it, not like the barrel style or clicker row counter which you have to remember to pick up at the end of a row and do something with. With scarves you are not knitting that many stitches across and can get to knitting row after row and forget to count.

I hope everyone has all the correct tools to do what they love!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Progress Report: Socks on 2 Circs

I received the Hiya needles in 16-inch length, size 1s and have been using them through the gussett decreases on Bilingual Sock. Today, I did the last decrease row and am ready to reset the stitches so that all instep are on one and bottom of foot on other. I am told that this will make it easier when I get to the toe decreases.

I can say that using the 16-inch length needles is making the knitting easier. It does not feel as cramped. One of my friends have suggested that 24-inch lengths were suggested in the pattern and knitting technique for a reason. I will take that on advisement since I am searching for a needle type and length that will pass TSA without incident, question or conflict.

The next hurdle will be when I cast on for the next sock of the Bilingual. My experience has been that the cast on is the one part of knitting that you do not get lots of practice on unless you purposely do it.

I hope everyone is making progress on their favorite projects!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Combining New Techniques: Channel Island Cast On

I found a basic pattern for an earflap hat with cables. I was planning to use the Thorpe Hat pattern however it has me stymied because of its top-down construction. The cast on begins with 3 or 4 stitches on 3 or 4 dpns which is very tough to hang onto. I have found a cast on that will work however I want a hat NOW. So I will save that pattern for another time when I am not is such a hurry to get a finished product.

I started this hat on Saturday and I am down to the last cable pattern repeat. I wanted something where I could use the Channel Island cast on. Since this cast on is very fussy about not twisting it while you cast it on, I chose to do it on a straight needle then knit the first row off onto the circular that I would use to knit the hat. It worked like a charm. Next step was to start the pattern and mark each pattern repeat with the very simple and pretty markers that I have recently made for sale on my Etsy shop. These I am using will fit up to a size 7 needle which is perfect for my hat projects.

Then I added a new version of row counter jewelry to the edge of the hat instead of hanging it off the cast on tail. It works much better and I plan to make some of these to sell as well.

The knitting is going very fast and I hope to have it done and ready to display on Sunday at the big birthday bash at Nuts and Bolts. My plan for finishing is to add I-cord and braid tail to the top and braids to the bottom of the earflaps.

I hope everyone is finding fun projects to start the Fall season!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weekend Update: FOs = Flying Objects and Finished Objects

I had the free entertainment in my yard this weekend at least one morning. The Annual Balloon Festival was fogged out for two mornings, but tomorrow they got to fly. It was a beautiful lift off around 8 a.m.

And one even landed in the parking lot across the fence from where I park. It was a colorful morning with crisp temps, reminding me that Fall is on the way.

With fall comes more knitting and cooler mornings for the Pirate Prince and I to spend some time on the porch. I take my coffee and a book out while he explores his world from the end of his leash.

This morning he watched all the balloon activity from behind his favorite bush. Then talked to the little birds that were flying around the yard.

In the afternoon I worked on finishing the shop samples that I want to have on hand for the birthday bash this weekend. These samples include the Reversible Vest and the Prairie Boot. I am also working on an Earflap Hat with Cables and a Hat in the Flat for display.

I also worked on some beading projects and planned some marketing for my Etsy shop. Otherwise it was a labor-free day.

I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Did I Learn New This Weekend?

I have been renting and viewing Lucy Neatby's DVDs from the library to determine which one I will need to own first. Hers are like having a long class that you can replay anytime you need to refresh your memory on something you don't do over and over. And for the cost of the DVD that is a bargain. You can order them online and, yesterday, I found some on sale at my local Joann's store.

From Neatby's Sock Knitting Techniques 1 I finally learned the Channel Island Cast On. Up to this point I had seen it explained in books and on patterns but never found a way to learn it on my own. The video was very clear in its explanation and showing of the technique. I recommend to start out learning it on worsted weight yarn so you can see what it is supposed to look like before trying it on fingering weight for a sock.

It creates a lovely little knotted, picot-looking edge which runs into the ribbing, blending it magicly. I can hardly weight to use it on the top down sock project or the new cable ear flap hat project that I am making for a shop sample to see how it will look in the finished piece overall and not just on an inch of cast on fabric.

I hope everyone is finding new ways to do the things they love!

Note: I borrowed the picture from one of the best tutorials that I found on this cast on.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Knitting Nemesis: One-Row Buttonhole

For the last couple of weeks I have been struggling with accomplishing a buttonhole for the Prairie Boots by CocoKnits. The pattern is great, well-written, however it uses a two-row buttonhole that I find to be sloppy. Granted, in the heavy fabric of this boot it will not be that noticeable, but I wanted a neater, cleaner look.

Yesterday at my Knit O Rama class, the gal that is making the Prairie Boots and I tried again from the instructions that I had found at Knit Picks for the one-row buttonhole and we still had problems with it.

I had seen Lucy Neatby do this buttonhole on her Knitting Essentials 1 video. I had looked all over the Internet to find a version but until today had not been lucky. I finally found one at YouTube and practiced along with it to be sure it works. It does! and here is where you can find The one-row buttonhole.

One more knitting nemesis conquered. My weekend is going good now. I hope yours is as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sock Progress: Monkey and Bilingual

When last you left this sock knitter I was working on two socks, one - the mate to the Monkey socks on dpns and the other - a plain ribbed sock done on the newly learned Socks on Two Circs method.

Here is where we are now: Monkey sock is into the heel turn and the two circ sock, I am calling Bilingual, is into the gusset. Bilingual is knitting up much tighter than Monkey. I am knitting on size ones in both cases and with similar fingering yarn. The only thing I can think of is it is because I can keep a tighter tension on the circs versus changing dpns every lace pattern repeat over 4 needles.

I am going to try the Bilingual's mate on a 16-inch circ instead of the 12-inch circs I am currently using to see if there is a difference there. I really like the feel of the circs. I think they will make a much better travelling sock project because I feel more secure knitting on them. No chance of flipping a needle across the plane. I do have to find out if HiyaHiya makes these needles with bamboo tips instead of metal. That will prevent a standoff with TSA.

I hope everyone is making progress on their favorite projects!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How To Mix Knitting and Reading

Prior to my current knitting schedule (craze, obsession) I was an avid reader. Like movies, I will read anything with a preference for thrillers and mysteries, as well as travel memoirs. Once I took up knitting in all my spare, and seemingly, leisure time I found that I could not knit and read a book at the same time without dire results in the fabric.

So I took up audio books. There are some downsides to this like availability in anything but the most current releases by the most popular authors. As a matter of fact, I am number 110 or 132 patiently waiting for the release of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol which is the sequel to the Da Vinci Code, in audiobook at my library. Obviously, it will be a while. I usually "read" while en route to and from work, my commute is about 25 minutes. Then I also "read" in the car at lunch while I knit on my portable projects, as pictured above, currently this is sock projects. So, I can get a book read in about a week of commute and lunch time. Also, I have books loaded on my Creative Zen player that I can listen to while traveling or cleaning house. Those take longer to read because I usually clean house to a favorite, much watched movie that I do not have to actually watch, just listen to.

In the evenings at home I knit while watching movies. As I have said in the past, for some movies I have had to put the knitting down to watch the action so not to lose my place. Most of the time I can watch, listen and knit simultaneously without a problem. I love my Netflix membership. It is my well-spent entertainment budget every month.

Recently I made a command decision that there are some books I really want to read and have not found on audiobook, like Julie and Julia. So my evening schedule changed a bit to accommodate that wish. I knit and watch a movie. When the movie is done I put down the knitting, turn off the TV and read a chapter before bed.

It is working very well so far. I am really enjoying the book. It is all a matter of organizing your time to fit all the things you want to do into the finite amount of time we are given each day.

I hope everyone has all the time they want to do the things they love!

Note: Tinkerbell bag was purchased at WalMart; Hot sauce bag is a Sock It Suzie wrister bag designed by Wendy Sloneker and purchased from her at Sock Summit. This is the handiest bag for sock knitters that I have found. And for those of you who know me, I am the bag queen. :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Smoke Haze Knitting

This is what it looked like at my house at sunset yesterday evening. It was really murky, grubby air looking around here with the smoke haze coming in from the BIG fires in California.

Even though the weather was cool I did not open the windows when I got home, just turned on a little AC to stir the air, did not want to bring that grunge in the house. I really feel sorry for those having breathe that stuff in CA.

Pedro begged to go outside and did not really like the air either, just laid and looked around for a few minutes before I said he had to come back in the house.

He thinks he is the king of his domain on his concrete version of Pride Rock. In reality, he never gets off his leash to prowl outdoors and does not realize that he is a cat.

Once we came back in and got settled for the evening I picked up the Reversible Vest and made some more progress on the right front of the project. As the picture shows it has been divided into the parts that you have to knit.

The front sections go very fast because you are only knitting across 25 stitches for the small size. The back will take a little more time because it is over 41 stitches.

I plan to use a three-needle bind off on the shoulder seams with the seam showing in two colors to add a little more interest to it.

Once you get the pattern technique down, this is a very relaxing knit. I can hardly wait to try it on a hat and some handwarmers for myself.

I hope everyone is finding fun ways to relax!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Days to Celebrate

This month we will start with the reasons to celebrate nationally something for the whole month. Here are my favorites for this month: Chickens, Pianos, Rice, Sewing and School Success.

Did you know that Mary Had a Little Lamb was published in 1830? You do now.

Labor Day is being celebrated later than usual this year on September 7th. Get out your favorite childhood friend on September 9th to celebrate Teddy Bear Day. The Teddy Bear was named after the U. S. President, Theodore Roosevelt (Teddy for short). President Roosevelt liked to hunt, but a cartoon in a newspaper showed him refusing to shoot a bear. This stuffed animal toy soon took on the name of Teddy.

On September 10th you can celebrate TV Dinner Day. Swanson's sold the first one on this day in 1954.

And, please take a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. Yes, it has been eight long years.

On September 12th you can slurp up one of these to celebrate National Chocolate Milk Shake Day. Then plan to celebrate National Grandparents (grups) Day and Scooby Doo's birthday.

September 15th is Make a Hat Day. I think you will also have to wear it to show off your handiwork or it does not count.

Then help the world celebrate Lance Armstrong's birthday and National PlayDoh Day.

My favorite day of the year is finally here - Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19th. I think this one should be celebrated for a least a month. There is a two day celebration planned in Portland, OR for all things piratey. Wish I could be there.

After you have aaarghed for a couple days you can celebrate Miniature Golf Day, followed by the First Day of Autumn on September 22nd. And, did you know, the US Post Office opened in 1789.

To wrap up the month we have National Bluebird of Happiness Day on September 24th, Crush a Can Day on September 27th and on September 30th many years ago the safety pin was invented.

I hope everyone finds some reason to celebrate this month!