Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Very, Very, Very Rewarding

Christmas was everything the commercials say it should be! Family flew in from Chicago, GKs couldn’t wait to open gifts (had to be subdued with an opening on Christmas Eve), GD#2 watched with me as GD#3 sang and danced across the stage in Chronicles of Narnia, and everyone laughed, talked and ate too much. All fourteen of us took up a row in Church on Christmas Eve for the candlelight service. I love that!! It has become a tradition for all of us to go together. Then we come back to the tree and gifts and resume the eating, laughing and talking, before falling into bed for a long winter’s nap. Probably not too different from thousands of people across the country. It’s the American way.

The photo is of Irish dancer, GD#2 (No. 5 in world competition) in my new Le Slouch. The pattern is by Wendy Bernard. It’s free, and can be found here on Wendy’s blog, Knit and Tonic. She liked the hat so much that I had to knit her one while she was here. Since she is from Chicago, and is a diehard Bears fan, I had to knit the hat in navy and orange, and add a Bears patch from the NFL store.

The Christmas knitting was a success. I’ll post a picture in the next few days of all the men in their Jayne Cobb hats—the hit of the century.

I hope all of you had as wonderful a Christmas as we did! It went by fast, and the New Year is approaching the same way. Soon we will be writing 2007, and the rest will be history. Life is good!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Do You See What I See

I never thought I would see it! When my grandson asked me if I could do illusion knitting, while we were watching Knitty Gritty together one day, I said, “Sure, I can do that—how hard can it be?” Then he told me he would like to have an illusion lizard scarf for Christmas.

I joined the illusion knitting group and asked if anyone knew of a lizard chart. Bless Crystal, who sent me one immediately. However, I found the knitting tedious, due to the small chart. I was going blind counting stitches on the teeny-tiny chart until DH sat down over the weekend and converted it to written instructions. He put everything on an Excel spreadsheet, increased the font to 16 pts, and presented all 14 pages of written pattern to me with a kiss. I love that man! The rest is lizard….
This is what the scarf looks like just hanging around—black and olive stripes. I think it will be a hit with the young man. It was not, however, a knitting hit with me! As I said, I found it mind-numbingly tedious, and when the pattern is finished, straight-stripe knitting is not my idea of scarf knitting. Give me lace, give me seed stitch, or k1, p1 ribs, but straight knitting for 60 inches is worse than ho-hum! I am having to switch knitting sessions with an interesting lacey, skinny scarf for DIL in a chocolate wool with a copper thread running through. I also took time to cast on for the last Jayne Cobb hat in the middle of a l-o-n-g straight-stripe knitting session last night.

I’m beginning to believe that I will finish the Christmas knitting a week early this year. It’s going to happen! Life is good—and Christmas is magic.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just Sayin....

I received a nice complement on another blog a few days ago. Someone wrote that my bind off on the “Fetching” mitts was very “neat.” I looked at the picture again and considered why it looks so neat. And so ensues yet another of my off-the-wall theories, and even more off-the-wall advice.

When the pattern says, “Bind off in pattern,” as this pattern does, I mostly ignore those instructions—across the board! I did try to bind off in the rib pattern, and it didn’t look right to me. Due to the comment about the bind off being “neat,” I realized that there are two ways to look at this subject:

Whenever I want the pattern carried all the way to the end of the knitting so it is decorative, I bind off in pattern. But when I want a nice clean line that doesn’t wave, curl, or generally get in the way, I bind off straight as I did with “Fetching.”

Another tip I might share is always use a size larger needle to bind off. Then there is no tight edge to your mitts, or hat, or whatever. I also cast on with a size larger needle to give stretch to the edge. Just sayin….

I can’t stop without sharing my latest FO’s which are, or course, TA-DA—hats. Am I in a rut, or what? These are legal though—I said I wasn’t going to make any more hats for me. These are Christmas gifts, so they don’t count among the umpteen thousand I have made for my finally-growing-hair head.

I made the green hat using the old standard Jayne Cobb pattern. I am also making four in the original orange-beige-burgundy Jayne hat colors. I will package them with a card bearing the quote from Wash in Firefly, “A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.” Can’t wait to see the reactions on Christmas morning!

And, so goes the knitting. I plan to make more frequent postings a New Year’s resolution. I hope it goes better than most of my resolutions go!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Never Say Never

I said I wasn’t going to make anymore hats, but when you have as little hair as I have right now, and it is beginning to get cold outside (This is Texas—60’s is cold to me), what do you do? You make hats. This one is done in a strange soy yarn called Wick, and while pretty with its bright blue, and gold variegated colors, it is not warm. This yarn would make great summer tanks and tops, but I can’t think of much else it would be appropriate for. Don’t try it for gloves or mittens (or hats!). On second thought, it would make great gloves and mittens for people who don’t find 60 degrees particularly chilling. While you are still laughing at me for wearing hats and gloves in 60 degree weather, I’ll explain that when it is 102 degrees outside and I am working in an air conditioned office, I wear fingerless mitts and a sweater. Yup, it’s sweaters for me year-round.

Speaking of fingerless mitts, here’s a pair that I just finished for a Christmas present. I love this cute cable pattern from called Fetching, and have made two other pairs of these mitts for myself.

I am also working on a “slew” (that’s more than one, and less than a dozen) of cammo hats for the paintball crew in the family—who are many! I was going to edge them in orange, but the men all chimed in to say, “No! You can’t put orange on the hats. That will make us targets.” I guess what I know about the game of paintball you could put through the eye of a tapestry needle! Of course, none of them know the difference between dpns and circs.

Back to Christmas knitting. That orange yarn is calling out to me. Hmmm, maybe an orange pompom….

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tip Of The Day

A Comfort Zone customer gave me a great tip today. RB in Massachusetts said she wears Gold Toe socks under her hand knitted socks. It makes them wear longer, and I would bet they are warmer as well. She also said that Macy’s has a store brand named “Hue” that works as well. I’m talking about light weight, white socks that are smooth and comfy under your knitted socks, and take the impact of toe and heel abuse. I’ve never tried that, but I do reinforce the toes of all my socks—sometimes with reinforcing thread, and sometimes with fingering or sport weight yarn in a contrast color.

Another long-life tip for knitted socks is washing them in Eucalan. That is miracle stuff! It smells good, makes your knits feel soft, and you don’t rinse it out, but leave it in your woolens for conditioning and long wear. All too often knitted objects are beautiful for only a short time, and with any wear and tear are too soon no longer useful. I have socks with reinforced toes that have lasted for three years now. Others, without the reinforced toes, have gone bye-bye in less than a year. So why not do everything we can to preserve our precious knitted objects.

Regarding miracles, even better than Eucalan, I received word yesterday from my Neurosurgeon that my latest MRI shows that the blood left in my head from the subdural hematoma has redistributed or absorbed. That means I will not have to have more surgery right now! We will watch it for the next six months to a year, but for now I’m home free—literally! Thanks to all my friends who sent good wishes and for all the prayers. They worked! Life is good.

BTW, the Nasturtium socks are finished.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's Official

I am making it public record that I now have too many projects started and it will be well into 2007 before I finish them. I finished the felted mittens, and am finishing the second Nasturtium sock. Then I started the blue top-down sweater—the one that used to be Debbie Bliss’ Classic Jacket until it morphed into a top-down sweater while sleeping in my knitting basket. Then I decided that I need at least two more pair of warm, worsted wool socks for winter, because my feet are already cold. So, I cast on for the socks with Paton’s Classic Wool in olive. Before I could count all the projects and "get a grip," I was bitten by the hat bug again and started another one with a 50% soy yarn called Wick. AND I am still working on DD’s Buttercreme Shawl. Now I am jumping from one thing to another, hoping I will eventually decide that one of them is a priority.

Do you ever flit from one project to another? I know knitters who knit one thing at a time and stick with it until finished. I have fallen asleep in the middle of projects like that! I guess I am easily bored, so the jumping and flitting keeps me awake, and makes knitting interesting. I do like to finish things, but I also like variety. I have decided that I am going to knit two socks at a time from now on. I don’t use circs or magic loop, so I will have to have two sets of dpns going at once. The way I have it figured, I will knit the ribbing on both, then the leg on both, then the heel—and so on.

The worsted wool socks are my old standby pattern of cast on 48 stitches, knit four inches of K4, P2 ribbing, then start the heel. I add a second color to the toe with lace or fingering weight yarn, to both reinforce and add contrast. I think I will use yellow on the olive socks. The blue sweater is a standard top-down pattern that I am making up as I go along. I will do a sketch and write down the pattern as I knit, so I can share later.

When I think about it—what could be better than having too many knitting projects? It means that I’m going to have to spend a lot of time knitting, and less time on other, not so pleasant things. Life is good!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Felted Warmth For Christmas

This is one humongous mitten in its present state, but it is going to be felted as soon as its partner is finished. These are a Christmas present for a family member who shall go unnamed because my family reads my blog. Pretty-felted-periwinkle-mittens. Go guess, all of you, until Christmas. These are another of my knit-in-an-afternoon projects. I seem to be caught in a cycle that is productive, but leaves longer projects like my socks and sweater projects unattended. Good or bad—I don’t know. It does, however, get Christmas knitting started with a bang!

Ahhhh Christmas knitting, or Christmas shopping of any kind. Is there anything in the whole world that is more fun and more of a pain at the same time? I certainly have a love/hate relationship with the planning and buying of Christmas gifts. Does it ever seem to you that the thing you want to buy for a certain person, that thing that you know is perfect, and that special person MUST have, is never received with the same enthusiasm with which it was chosen? I confess that I am a failure—a total flop at buying gifts. They say (you know, the infamous “they”), that you should choose the thing you want to give the other person, and it will be perfect. I don’t think it works that way—at least it doesn’t for me. Therefore, I have to set about ferreting out what the person really wants of Christmas.

“Honey, what do you want for Christmas.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Just anything.”
“Surely there is something special you want.”
“Uhhh, I can’t think of anything right now.”
“Will you tell me when you think of something?”
“Oh sure! If I think of something I will.”

They never do! I’m doomed to failure for another year. But Christmas is wonderful anyway, and life is good.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Warm Heart

I don’t know about the warm heart part, but my hands are always cold. I have a drawer full of fingerless mitts, mittens, and gloves. Muffs are next—right after I finish this oh-so-cute pair of cabled mitts. These are from a pattern on that I have been eager to try. So, before I start the Debbie Bliss Classic Jacket, which mysteriously turned into an in-the-round raglan sweater in my knitting basket, I thought I would do a quick knit on the mitts. I have had an infatuation with knit-in-an-afternoon projects for the last few weeks. Now it is time to get back to serious stuff like socks and sweaters.

I’m still working on the Nasturtium socks. Sock number one is approaching the toe. The hats, followed by the cabled mitts, got in the way of sock knitting for a time. I can hear the poor neglected little things crying in the knitting basket at night. So this morning I worked on the first sock until I was ready to start the toe, and then cast on for the second sock. That should make them happy.

I, on the other hand, am not happy at this moment. I have cast on for the raglan sweater twice, and had the stitches twisted when I joined them both times. Is there some easy way to make sure that doesn’t happen? The last time I put the stitches on the circular on the table and smoothed them carefully until I was sure they were not twisted. After four rows of k3, p2 rib I could see there was something wonky—240 wonky stitches! I cried! I hate to be beaten, so I will try again, but I’ll tell you something—it does take a brave heart to tackle a troublesome project like this for a third time. Like I said, I don’t know about the warm heart part, but it is certainly brave!

Friday, October 06, 2006

That Will Do

I am far from being a perfectionist. As the mother of six children I learned early that “okay” would suffice, and “perfect” took entirely too long to accomplish before one of the kids had to be at baseball or dance practice. This position has been reinforced by my recent surgery. I’ve gone from “okay” to “that will do.” I hate to admit it, but this transfers to my knitting. I mentioned the “out of kilter” ribs on my current sock, and my feeling that frogging it was just not something I wanted to do. AND since the socks are under my jeans and the tops are not often seen, “that will do.”

I liked the lace-edged head hugger hat I just finished so much that I took an afternoon to knit another out of leftover STR Lemongrass yarn. When I say “leftover” I mean the tiny amount that is left from a whole pair of socks for my size 10 feet, which is not much I’ll tell you! I looked at the tiny skein and said, “that will do.” So I knit and I knit, and when I got to the decrease rows for the crown I had a ball of yarn the size of a walnut left, and I said, “that will do.” I did the decrease rows, tied off, and the picture shows how much yarn was left. Yes, I know, I was lucky, and I don’t think I would try that again. However, it was exciting to race against the end of a skein of yarn and win.

The hats are so much fun to wear that I decided I had to make another one. Somebody stop me! This one is in red Simply Soft--not the world's greatest yarn, but fun to knit with because it is so soft. I made up the pattern as I went along, but I didn't write it down. So, I had to make another one so I could capture the pattern and post it on the Knitting-On-The-Go website. And h-e-r-r-r-e it is....

Four hats! (counting the first blue hat). I'm in a serious hat knitting rut here! At least my head won't be cold this winter. That will do!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Quick Like A Bunny....

Don’t you just love projects that knit-up so fast that you want to knit another one as soon as you finish. I just finished one of those. It’s a little blue cap to warm my bare head. I have peach fuzz growing, but I think it will be a long time before I go out without either a scarf, hat or wig. This little cap took all of six hours—and I’m a slow knitter. I found the pattern here, and it’s free. I have several friends who are just starting chemo, and lots of left over sock yarn to knit colorful caps. Life is good!

I am also knitting socks with yarn a friend told me about. This is great yarn, running a close second to Blue Moon’s STR—actually a lot like STR at a comparable price. It’s Lace Wing Sock yarn, Super Wash Merino Fly Dyed Monarch yarn. I ordered Violet and Nasturtium, and though the colors are a little bit off from what I was seeing on my monitor, they are still gorgeous. I am using size #2 needles with good results, but a problem has arisen. I am using a neat little twisted rib down each side of the sock, and I must have gone to sleep during three or four of the twists and ribs, because they are a little off kilter. I have the leg seven inches long now—am I going to frog it? I don’t think so. Who is going to notice it under my jeans anyway? I’ll try to do better with the second sock. Just keep on knitting!

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Kip, You Kip, We all Kip....

It took me weeks to decide between the Jordana Paige knitting bag, which is gorgeous, and the Knit Picks KIP (Knit In Public) bags. Then I had a dream of taking my shawl out of the bag and putting in my sock project; then taking the socks out and putting in the scarf project; then taking out the scarf…well, you get the idea. Five bags for the price of one—that sort of answers the question. So I bought the KIP bags and after arranging each with a project and realizing that the “purse” bag fits inside of each of the other bags, as well as clips to the outside, I knew I had hit a home run! Now I grab the project that I want to carry with me, already nestled within the appropriate bag, slip in my purse bag, and off I go. I’m not so thrilled with clipping the bags together, or the purse to the outside of a larger bag, but it’s a nice concept, and I might use it on some occasion. But the bags—ahhh the BAGS—they are roomy, have tons of little pockets (and big pockets) inside each one, and a utility bag for all those little knitting accoutrements we must also carry. There is also a chart holder to match, which doesn’t come with the bags, but is worth the $10. One last very neat thing, the big one is a great overnight bag, as I discovered when DD grabbed it to pack some things to bring to me in the hospital. She had a bunch of stuff in that bag, and it would have held more.

On the knitting front, I am about to finish DD’s “blob” skinny scarf (as they say in Texas, “fixin’ to finish”), and I am so pleased with it. It is surely one of the prettiest things I have ever done. It looks like it has small roses blooming all over it. The Canadian stash is turning out to be as exciting as I thought it would be! I am also working on a pair of pink Cascade socks for DDIL (darling daughter-in-law). Her tiny little Asian feet make for a fast knit sock, although, I must confess to not enjoying the Cascade. It will never be one of my favorite yarns.

So, I think things are getting back to normal around here. I’m doing more, feeling stronger, knitting more, and definitely enjoying life more. It doesn’t get better than that!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Yarn From Over Yonder

Here is my Canadian stash. Look at all the wonderful stuff DD brought to me from Canada. Why is it that ordinary yarn you could buy right here in the good old US of A, seems so much more exciting when it comes from another country? I dumped this bag out on the table and instantly realized that there are lots of good knitting projects in there. There are camouflage hats, an interesting scarf for DD from the royal blue with pink, gold and green slubs, and then there is one of Annie Modesitt's gorgeous corsets in the mix—the mint green silk blend, which I think I will edge with an eggplant color. Perfect for one of my girls for spring! Isn’t it fun to look at yarn and know what it is crying out to be?

I think the excitement of pawing through a big bag of gift yarn is that there are so many skeins that I would never buy myself. I’m a very practical yarn buyer—Blue Moon STR for socks, wool or cashmere blends for sweaters, sport weight wools for scarves, etc. Most of the time, like other knitters/artists, I have a good eye for color, and the ability to choose the right yarn for a particular project. Oh wait a minute, at least a dozen gone astray, totally wrong, what-was-I-thinking projects that were thrown into a basket and never touched again, just came to mind. Anyway, it is pleasant to find myself with a pile of yarn that stretches my mind and soul to choose the right project for the yarn instead. Knitting in the months ahead is going to be great fun! I hope the same for all of you.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thank You, Thank You

Let me begin with a special thanks to everyone who commented on my last post, with cheers, good wishes, and kind thoughts, especially Stingdragon, who offered good advice on not lifting anything heavy. I was told when I left the hospital that I should not lift anything heavier than a gallon jug of milk. I couldn’t even guess how hard that would be! Everything is heavier than a gallon of milk—my 12 pound dog who comes in from the rain with wet feet; laundry detergent sitting on the floor by the washer; my purse, yes we even had to weigh my purse because I generally carry more than 5 pounds in it. What do you take out of your purse so you can carry it? I need it all!
In addition, a big thank you to my Sockapaloooza pal who sent these beautiful beaded socks with get-well wishes. Ina, you are an angel! She also sent a potato, leek soup mix—our dinner tonight as it happens. I can’t wait to dip a spoon into that yummy mixture. Thanks Ina for the warm feet and thoughts.

I am finally down to the toe on the second STR Lemongrass sock. DD will be able to wear them to work tomorrow. I’ll take a pic in a couple days, as soon as I figure out the problem with Kodak Easy Share. It just decided to stop working on my computer. It does, however, like my DH’s computer, so I have to download pictures there and put them on a CD. Whatever it takes!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Things I Have Learned The Hard Way

What I'll be wearing for the next three to six months.

I’ve learned a lot over the past two weeks. There I was bopping along—worries, stresses, too much work, not enough down-time, and wham-bam life was turned upside down, to the point of not even being recognizable. About two week ago, I started having serious headaches. My Doctor thought it was a bad sinus infection. I bought into that until the headaches started getting worse. You know how they tell you that when you can honestly say, “I have the worse headache I’ve ever had,” you should go to the emergency room immediately? Well, I didn’t—at least not immediately. The result was that I ended up being transferred from one hospital to another by ambulance, rushed into surgery, and given a tres chic haircut, (translate shaved head) and two drains coming out of my head to relieve the pressure from bleeding in my head. It’s a blessing that I don’t remember any of it, but I do remember some things that will be with me in the years ahead:
1. When you are flat on your back in a hospital bed, there are no faces you want to see more than the loving, smiling faces of husband, children and grandchildren, all saying, “We love you,” and “Come on Mom you can do it!”

2. When my head is wrapped, mummy-style, in bandages I look a little like Charlie Brown—you know, the kid with the round head. Don't want to do that again!

3. Nothing is more important than living a stress free, calm, relaxed life. I was a workaholic, and now I realize that the importance of work just doesn’t compare with the importance of being happy and enjoying life

4. I have staples zig-zagging across the top of my head, and I keep waiting for the little train to come out of one ear and zip across to the other ear. From this I learned that when incapacitated I’ll use almost anything to entertain myself.

5. Nothing can stop me from knitting! I was concerned that I might not be able to focus my eyes on knitting for weeks or months. When I discovered that I could knit without any problems I was a “happy camper.” My best advice is to do what makes you happy, and if knitting does that for you, as it does for me, don’t let anything prevent you from it.

6. Bald is beautiful! Except for said train tracks on the top, my head doesn’t look half bad! I think we can get used to almost anything when we consider the alternatives.

7. From now on I will take life one day at a time. One day’s problems are enough for anyone to handle. In addition, when I contemplate problems for the first time, I will do it with a smile and a feeling of “whatever.”

I have new life plans: I plan never to let things overwhelm me again. I plan to look for the best in every person and every situation. I plan to maintain this attitude in any way possible, and to always, always remember that LIFE IS GOOD! I've learned all the life lessons I want to for a while.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm Still Here

Sorry to be gone so long! I have been recovering from surgery and a hospital stay. I will post in the next few days and give you all the details. Surgery hasn't stopped the knitting. I have been working on a pair of socks and making preparations to cast on for the Canyon Fire Shawl.

Be back soon!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Business Is Good, But I've Been Bad

I have been bad about posting lately. I have been bad about doing anything except working—that has been non-stop! The Comfort Zone ad was in the new issue of Interweave Knits (look for us please on page 151), and it brought a heap of orders in. It has been fantastic, and I hope it doesn’t stop anytime soon. Thanks to all of you who have helped spread the word about Comfort Zone dpns. We also have worked hard to get the word out about CZS, and how wonderful it is to knit with them. This is the icing on the cake!

On the knitting front, I received four skeins of Canyon Fire lace weight yarn from Knit Picks to use for the Rectangular Square Cover Shawl. I said I wasn’t going to knit a lace tablecloth, but I didn’t say anything about a shawl. I tried lace once before and didn’t do so well. In fact, I was lousy at it. After frogging it several times, I just gave up and decided it was one of those things at which I was never meant to excel. Well, I’m going to try it again. I figure that if I can knit lace tops on socks, I can knit a shawl. I hear you all laughing! BTW those are Knit Picks new circular needles that I am giving a test run.

I hope the lace shawl goes better than the first three tries at the lizard illusion. Yup, three trips to the frog pond, but it seems to be going well on this fourth try. What I did different is amazing—I followed the instructions. Another thing I am bad at. I always think, “Maybe it would work better if I did it this way.” It never does. Follow the instructions and things work out better every time! I have finally learned to appreciate the streamlined nature of charts, and the simplicity they bring to knitting. I was always one to look for the row-by-row instructions for any project. Recently I find myself picking up the chart and launching into the project. It helps that I bought a board with magnets that help me follow the lines on the chart. Good tools make good knitting experiences.

I am still working on STR Lemongrass socks for DD. The picture is about a week ago. Now I have one down to the toe, and the other with two inches of ribbing completed. They are not as lime green as I wanted, but very pretty anyway.

All of this going on, and Macy still wants to play….

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Life With Illusion

So he says to me, “Grandma, I would like you to knit me one of those illusion scarves for Christmas, with a lizard on it.” Whoa! Where did that come from? I didn’t expect my 13 year-old grandson to ask for something that I knew nothing about. I didn’t want to admit to him that I have never done illusion, or shadow, knitting, but I try never to lie to or otherwise deceive my grandchildren. I am what I am—which is far from being all knowing. For an instant I contemplated the amazing fact that he even knows what illusion knitting is. Then I replied, “Sweetheart, I have never done that, but I bet I could find out how, and if I can I will surely knit you a lizard.” I said I try never to lie or deceive—not that I know my own limitations! I’ve always been a sucker for the grandkids, and I have always thought I could do more than it turns out I can. Dancing With The Stars is out, but illusion knitting I think I can conquer. In that effort, I joined an illusion knitting Yahoo group, and told them: this is who I am, that I’m totally uninformed about illusion knitting, and does anyone out there have a lizard chart. Thanks to Krystal, who had just charted a lizard (what a surprise!) I have yarn, pattern, and determination. I can do this!

Before moseying into unfamiliar territory, however, I decided that I should maybe, sort-of, kinda, try the process and see if it is one of those things that I think I can do, but fall short on some unforeseen talent or ability—like Dancing With The Stars. I can’t dance. I spent Saturday trying my hand on a heart dishcloth, and wonder of wonders, it worked. It took me about ten rows for the light to dawn, but from there I could almost knit without the chart—almost. The resulting dishcloth isn’t great, but not horrible either. Then I started the lizard scarf and will keep you posted. At least I know that I am still capable of learning a new skill. Who knows, I may try a lace tablecloth next. N-a-a-a-a-h, I’d rather play with Macy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Merry Christmas Jackie O.

It all started when I couldn’t find an eyeglass case big enough for my big, black Carolina Herrera sunglasses. They are my signature accessory. I wore big, black sunglasses before Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis made them famous! Since I’ve knitted cozies for everything else in the house, I decided to try one big enough for the glasses. This is the result, and I am so happy with it, I’m making more of them for Christmas gifts. After all, as DD pointed out recently, “Gee Mom, big sunglasses are popular right now. You are finally in style.”

I wore my first pair of big, black sunglasses when I was a teenager. They weren’t in style then either. For years some of my closest friends called me “Bug Eyes.” Imagine what my non-friends said about me. Then it happened…the worst thing that I could possibly conceive of…my Jackie O. sunglasses were gone. I laid them on a counter beside me as I wrote a check in a store, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man’s hand pick them up. When I turned around there was no one standing there but my husband, who swore that he did not take the glasses, and didn’t see who did. Sounds suspicious to me even now, as it did then. But then the sales clerk said she saw a man pick them up and she didn’t say anything because she thought his wife had left them behind and sent him back for them. See what trouble you get into when you take a man shopping—that’s a whole post in itself!

Anyway, suddenly I couldn’t find anymore Jackie O. sunglasses. They were not available. None to be had. This picture represents many years of sunglasses gone wrong, in an effort to find a pair that would make up for my dreadful loss. None of them worked, and now that I’ve finally found a new pair of Jackie O. sunglasses, I want to protect them at all costs. I did get a case with the glasses, but it is so bulky that I can’t find a place in my bag for it. I plan to attach a clip to the knitted case so I can attach the glasses to my body, and dare anyone to take them. Take my car—take my purse—take my shopping bag, but if you try to take my Jackie O. sunglasses the resulting brawl will not be pretty.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Little Fishy

My friend Wendy, of Wendy’s Intertwinements, sent me a gift sock fish. I love it! It is It is perfect for a skein of sock yarn. He will hang on my jeans belt loop or ride with his head sticking out of my bag, and carry my current sock project, which always goes where I go. He also has pockets under each fin for sock knitting accoutrements or glasses. Wendy made “Sock Fishy” from a pattern she got here. I went to the site, and immediately fell in love with the great row counters, among other things. Take a look.

I have been struggling with stash storage. Could it be that I have too much yarn? Frankly, I never considered that possibility. What, exactly, is too much yarn? Is there such a thing as too much? I have friends who frequently divest themselves of “extra” skeins of yarn. They trade yarn or, and this is the mind-boggling part to me, OR they give it away or sell it. MY BABIES!! How could I sell my babies? These are skeins that I have stroked and nurtured for years. I might someday knit something from them, but that is not essential to the purchase of yarn (some of it that is). Which brings me to the realization that, for me, some yarn purchases have very little to do with the probability of use. I do buy certain yarns for specific projects, but just as often I buy yarn because it feels good, is soft, is a pretty color, and/or speaks to me (see previous post). I know, I know, that’s just plain crazy. I try hard not to do it, and may succeed for months—okay, weeks. I’m hopeless.

Now I have to pay for my impulsiveness by wondering what I will do with all those cute little skeins of yarn rolling around my knitting room. Once before I suggested the possibility that they are multiplying in their various baskets and containers, but that didn’t impress DH, and I don’t think it will work here either. So, I bought that little pink thingy in the picture, but it doesn’t hold nearly enough. I think I need a trip to Ikea for shelf units! BIG shelf units! My hubby would say, “Just stop buying yarn.”

That doesn’t work for me….

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It Was Irish All The Time

I guess you all know what this is. Yup, a frog pond! I have to admit that I am not a good frogger. I hate frogging, and will go to great lengths to make a project work just so I don’t have to “rip-it.” It spells defeat to me—a lack of understanding of where the project is going. It means that I never had a clear vision, or worse, that I made unalterable errors in both execution and judgment. But not this time. This time, it was all the fault of the pattern and the fiber. (Really, I had nothing to do with it, ha-ha-ha). The two conspired to make me look like a knitting amateur. The "Twisty" pattern, although lovely on a much heftier fiber, was just not appropriate for the fingering weight, cashmere blend—even though I doubled it so that it came close to worsted weight. Yeah that’s it—it was the yarn’s fault. I will admit to having a hunch at the beginning that this yarn was destined to be an Irish Hiking Scarf. You know how the yarn speaks to you. If you listen, it will tell you what it wants to be. I have found it to be true more times than not, that the yarn knows the way, and we must follow. Note to self: LISTEN!

I have had some success in the last week. I finished Simply Red. What a great little sweater. I can’t wait to wear it, which may be a while (even though it has short sleeves), because it is in the 100’s here in Fort Worth. It is hard to knit sweaters, knowing I may not be able to wear them for, ummmm, ever. We had no winter last year to speak of. I don’t think I wore a coat more than once or twice last winter, but maybe it will be perfect for a pleasant winter day in the 70’s.

I have cast on for DD’s STR Lemongrass socks. I plan to use the same lace-rib that I used for Peaches and Cream. She told me she needs lime green socks to go with a scrub shirt she has. She works in the ER of a children’s hospital, and the kids love the bright colored scrubs. She adds crazy earrings (lizards, clowns, lifesavers, etc) and wild socks that draw the kids’ attention away from what’s happening around them. I am also ready to cast on for the Debbie Bliss sweater jacket that I’ve heard is both a classic and a stinker to knit. Why oh why do I do these things to myself?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Red, White and Going Fast

Friend Kim of Socks for Soldiers had the idea that I should put together some “Patriot” Comfort Zone needles—two red, two white, and two blue. This appealed to me, especially since, crazy me, I knit with different colored needles all the time (red, blue, green, yellow, and orange-one each). If you have visited the website lately, you have seen the Patriot needles advertised for sale. And, they have been flying out the door! We have been fortunate that CZs are becoming so popular, but nothing we have done has compared with the popularity of the Patriot needles. I received an email from Donna T., a longtime, repeat customer. She said, “I've been knitting with the Comfort Zone needles and I absolutely adore them. They are as flexible as the casein without the nasty taste when I hold one in my mouth! I also love the sharp points. I've never been a fanof blunt needle points and that was the one thing about casein needles that I really did not like. Also, the fact that they come in sets of 6 is a bonus!” I’m just wowed by the love for these needles! Okay, enough about CZs.

I finished the Peaches and Cream Fleece Artist socks. Such an easy pattern too.
Cast on 60 stitches:
Row 1: k2, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo, k1, repeat around.
Rows 2 – 4: knit

How easy is that? So pretty too. I loved this yarn, but it’s not Blue Moon STR. I have an absolute obsession with STR. I have to force myself to knit with other yarns. I acknowledge that this is my problem, and there is nothing wrong with Fleece Artist, Regia, Jawoll, Lorna’s Laces, Cherry Tree Hill, etc., I’ve used them all, and keep coming back to STR.

Also OTN is the pink cashmere scarf. I’m not sure about the “Twisty” pattern. I probably should have opted for a nice neat cable. I could have even done an Irish Hiking scarf. If it doesn’t start looking a little more polished in the next few rows it may take a trip to the frog pond, and become Irish in the process. I don’t know—what do you think? Knitting a project often requires a committee!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Knitting Thoughts

July 4, 2005:
…knitting reminds me of all the high and low points in life. We put it together, stitch by stitch, and there are a lot of boo-boos, flub-ups, do-overs, but for the most part it’s just “head-down data entry.” How’s that for knitting philosophy 101?

The above was from my first blog on July 3, 2005. There I was, just starting out in a new venture with Comfort Zone dpns, blogging about all things knitting related, and already over-thinking the simple things. It’s the story of my life! The first year has been fun, educational, filled with new friends, and moments of joyful fulfillment. I guess any year we live that doesn’t include tragedy (we’ve had a few in our lives, like the passing of our youngest daughter at the age of 29), health problems (had a few of those too, like most people), or business obstacles, is a great year! I’m thankful for that, and so much more. Life is truly good.

Happy July 4th, and here’s to another great year ahead….

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ghost Horses

I was hanging out on the patio, just knitting on BBS and turning the heel on Peaches and Cream. It’s cool out there in the early part of the day—a nice breeze aided by the position of the patio (away from the sun). So, I’m sitting and knitting, and when I looked up I noticed the horses in the pasture behind our house, grazing in the wildflowers. That field is so overgrown that I think the horses are going to get lost in there, sort of like that cornfield that everyone wanders in and out of in the movie Field of Dreams. They will become the ghost horses of Texas, showing up when we least expect it, and scaring the stitches right off my needles. Okay, that little flight of fancy is over!

I have accomplished a goal that has been hanging around my neck for months. I have finally cast on for my first Big Black Sock, for Socks For Soldiers. I have about three inches of the required four inches of ribbing—although I saw pictures of some BBS that were ribbed for the whole 12-inch leg. I don’t like ribbing that much. I think I will start stockinette after the next inch of ribbing and finish the leg the easy way. I say if you have to knit with black yarn, take the easiest path. This is some of the most important knitting I have ever done. My DH reads blogs of soldiers in Iraq, and many of them talk about receiving socks and other gifts from home. They feel so special when they get goodies from home, and socks are really special gifts to them. They surely deserve everything we can do for them. The sacrifices they make everyday are awesome! All you sock knitters grab your Comfort Zone dpns and some black yarn and get started. You can join here.

I’m headed toward the toe on Peaches and Cream. I’ll post a picture of them when I finish, which should be in the next day or two. And the knitting goes on....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sleigh Bells Ring....

…are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening…. Whew, it’s 100 degrees outside and I’m in my Christmas groove. I ordered this Baby Cashmere from ole favorite, and I am so happy with it. It will make Cider Moon’s Carpathia beautifully—actually, it will make two of them. OR, there is enough to make Carpathia and, if I double the strands, a pair of cashmere socks. What luxury! In reality, this is not totally cashmere. It is a merino wool and cashmere blend, but so soft and cuddly it will be a joy to knit with and heaven to wear.
I have started trying to hide my Christmas knitting from prying eyes, specifically DD and GD#3. Last year I had to put up the “Christmas Central—Do Not Enter” sign on the knitting room door early in September. GD#3 had a fit, because she loves to go in there and play with the yarn. (I’m starting her yarn appreciation training early). She especially loves to use the ball winder when I have yarn that needs winding. She is not going to be happy when I put up the sign in July. I’ll explain to her that I have to start early this year. I darn near killed myself with the Christmas knitting last year—knitting far into the night on the eve of Christmas Eve to get everything done. Now, because DG#1 reads my blog from time to time, I will also have to start making veiled mention of knitting projects that might be of interest to her. My nerves are jumping already. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Christmas is so much fun--twice as much fun if you start in the middle of the year. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

BBS Therapy

I agreed to make a pair of socks for Socks for Soldiers, an internet group that knits, well, socks for soldiers. The group is moderated, run, supervised, and generally mothered by Kim who is, without a doubt, Superwoman. Kim not only kindles a flame in the hearts of sock knitting Americans, managing to harvest great crops of BBS (big black socks) for our military men and women, but she also runs a business, is a student with a 4.0 GPA, and the biggest job of all, a Mom! How could I say no to at least one pair of socks? So here is a pic of the Opal Uni that will further damage my vision. My only salvation will be to knit with bight colored CZs. I’m taking a poll--which color should I use?

In other knitting news, I am working on the first sleeve of Something Red. I picked up the sweater on Saturday, after weeks of doing nothing with it because I felt it wasn’t going anywhere. No matter how much I worked on it, it just did not get—finished! I measured the back and bottom ribbing, which needed to be 25 inches long. It was 22 inches. “Okay,” I said to myself. “This can be done.” Then I sat down and worked on it for 2 hours, after which I measured it again. It was still 22 inches long. Now I ask you, where did all those stitches go? This sweater is killing me. Cute design, but demon possessed! I worked on it all Saturday evening, and there wasn’t even anything good on TV. I watched a bad movie and something on the History Channel, and when I couldn’t knit any longer I measured it again. It was a-l-m-o-s-t 25 inches. I bound that puppy off faster than you can say, “Holy Toledo, why did I ever start this sweater?” Now I am about half-way through the first sleeve. One more sleeve to go, and two inches of ribbing around the front and neck—maybe another week? Two? Who knows? I’m telling you this sweater has a mind of its own. But I will not let it beat me. I WILL finish it. Don’t know if I’ll ever dare to wear it though. It holds potential as a horror movie plot…”Sweater Possessed,” or “The Unspeakable Red Nightmare.”

Monday, June 12, 2006

Utilitarian Art

Okay, stand back people, I’m going to get all introspective on you! I don’t know about anyone else, but I consider those who create (knit, crochet, weave) from any fiber to be artists. They create color and texture blended into wearable art. For centuries, utilitarian artists have been considered second-class citizens. Early weavers and knitters were commissioned to create intricate, beautiful designs in fabrics, but were not considered worthy to associate with those who were called “genuine” artists. Well whoop-de-doo! Knitters unite. Join me in the revolt against snobs who think knitting is “cute.” I’ve heard it called, “a nice pastime, a good hobby, an enjoyable diversion, a total waste of time, AND a relaxing way to control anxiety (well, maybe that last one is true). But art? No one ever calls it art!

Art is meant to evoke feelings and images that touch our souls. I look at Alison’s pink Crinkle sweater, and I envision ivy and pink roses growing on trellises; I see Tanya Ilnicki’s beaded knitted bags and I think of Lalique jewelry. Last night when I cast on using Fiber Artist Peaches and Cream wool and orange needles, I thought of peach cobbler and ice cream (food always touches my soul). What we are doing is art at its best folks! All of my knitting partners are the crème de la crème of the art community. No second-class citizens here. I think we should all demand to be called artists—for that is what we truly are. We may be in various stages of expertise, but isn’t that true of every artist whatever the medium? Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned knitter, whether you knit lace or potholders, it is, nevertheless, art. I salute you my fellow artists.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

Failing eyesight—it happens to everyone, although DH swears that his vision is as clear as when he was 20. If that’s true, then he was having trouble seeing at 20. Mine is getting fuzzier and fuzzier as the years go by. My Mother used to say her arms weren’t long enough as she popped on her reading glasses. Now it is my turn—I have those little “tip-of-the-nose” glasses stashed everywhere: in the car, in my purse, knitting bag, workout bag, on the bookcases, in dresser drawers, beside the chair where I read the newspaper…. DH says we have spent enough on reading glasses in the last year to take a nice vacation. To Paris. Add to these the computer glasses, which are essential or you would be reading gibberish, and I have to admit I am aging. Getting old enough to be a grandmother is great fun. Being able to clearly see the sweet faces of my grandchildren--priceless!

It has come to my attention that I can no longer see knitting patterns printed in smaller than a 24-point font. The mistake in the picture (see little black circle) would not have happened otherwise. But, will I frog it? Nay, nay I tell you—it’s a silly dishcloth. I don’t think DD will stop while wiping off countertops and say, “OOOh there is a mistake Mom made, she must need glasses.” Then again…she knows me pretty well!

This dishcloth is made from that wonderful, cheap Sonata I ordered from, using the pattern by Vaunda Rae Giberson shown here. My favorite thing about knitting dishcloths is that I can finish one in an evening. They are an easy, mindless TV watching activity, and easy to pick up during long client phone calls. The problem is that one day everyone I know will have enough dishcloths (we are reaching that point now). I guess it’s back to socks….

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This Just In....

Yessiree, we have made the big time! Here is the photo that will be used in our ad in—hold on, here it comes—Interweave Knits August ’06 issue. It’s just a three-inch ad in the Resource Guide under Accessories, but it sure seems BIG to me. And WOW! (I know, I know, I’m using too many caps and exclamation points), Their design staff did a terrific job of capturing the Comfort Zone essence, right down to the lavender color from our website. I would show you the whole ad, but if anyone reads this and looks for the ad, I don’t want it to be a ho-hum experience. I know it won’t be for me. I sent the proof to DS-I-L, who manufacturers them, yesterday. He said lovely things to me about all my work for CZ. Life is good!

Oh, and knitting, I really am doing some. Stuff like the above bites into my knitting time, but is well worth it. I am knitting the toe of Ruby Slippers STR socks with the lace tops; I have just cast on for the Fleece Artist Peaches and Cream socks. I think I will make them with a picot-edged top and maybe some gentle ribbing on the legs that will maintain the lovely color variations. I am also working on the butter crème shawl for DD. Yesterday the Postman brought me a bouquet of colorful cotton yarns from It was on sale for some ridiculously low price. Since my family thinks the dishcloths and facecloths that show up in their stocking each Christmas are mass produced by Santa’s Elves, I thought those Elves better get started. The poor little guys are so busy this time of year!