Friday, July 28, 2006

Glorious Vacation

We are having a wonderful time here in the Pacific Northwest and I just couldn't resist sharing this photo with you. The kayaks were so colorful and you can see in the corner they also had these adorable ones that look like crocodiles. Master JET really wanted to go in one of those. I have also had some time to do some knitting that requires more attention. I recently came across this Barbara Walker Mosaic Knitting and I found it intriquing. You create all sorts of geometric patterns but rather than having spools or switching yarn often as you do in Fair Isle you instead use only one color for two rows and then the other color for two rows. That way you just carry the yarn up the end and don't have to stop and start yarns all the time. Here is a sample of a very simple pattern. It is fun and fairly easy so I think I will do more mosaic knitting. We'll see though as you really have to pay attention to the chart. Definitely not mindless knitting!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Joy of a 10 hour car ride

It used to be that the thought of sitting in a car for 10 hours with three children was enough to drive me to drink (or at least to drive me not to drive) but now that I have found knitting I actually see long drives as a unique opportunity to make some serious knitting progress. Such was the case on Monday when we headed up to Oregon for vacation. What you see here is the status of my Runabout bag at the start of our journey. I worked away knitting happily until we got to the Black Bear Diner in Shasta and it looked like this: Then finally we arrived at our destination and I had finished the outside of the Runabout bag. Now mind you I could have knit more except for two things: First - I had to drive part of the way and I make it a strict rule not to knit while driving (I know - silly rule), and second - I ran out of yarn! Yes, I knew I didn't have enough of the skein I was using for the entire purse and I had planned all along to do the inside piece a different color but I didn't think to bring that skein with me in the front of the car. Now thankfully I do have it with me but I didn't think my family would take kindly to my suddenly shouting, "pull over - I'm out of yarn! I need to riffle through ten tons of luggage packed in the back to find a ball of yarn!!" No instead I quietly put aside my Runabout and worked on a baby blanket. One the way home I'll stock more yarn!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gone Knitting - Make your own Dinner

My daughter went to Granny Camp this week. This is basically where my kids go one at a time to visit my parents and get spoiled rotten. My Mom cooks their favorite foods, they go out to their favorite restaurants, they sew, shop, play tennis - I WANT TO GO TO GRANNY CAMP! Anyway, while she was there my daughter decided to rat me out. She told my folks that (i) I wouldn't let her buy mouthwash because it is too expensive, (ii) she needs a filling but I'm too busy to take her to the dentist, and (iii) that she needs toe surgery but I can't be bothered to make that appointment either! Can you believe it??? Now let me set the record straight - I NEVER EVER told her that either she couldn't have mouthwash or that it was too expensive. Mouthwash? Too expensive? Only if it cuts in to the yarn budget. Now the dentist part - well there is some truth in that. See she had an appointment that I spaced on and missed, and well the receptionist there is very mean and I don't really want to face her after that, and, and, and But the toe surgery is absolutely not true. After the surgery she can't swim for 2 weeks and I sort of thought that it being summer and her being on swim team and all that maybe it should wait a while. I guess now that she's home I should make sure that she knows I have time for her and make some of these appointments. I will - really - right after I'm done knitting.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clever Girl

My SP8 is Gr8 as I have told you before. I'm so impressed with how she figures out the perfect gift. First and adorable bag that I have to fight my daughters for. Then handmade stitch markers with dragonflies - my favorite. Now a cute dish towel with a hydrangea flower because she noticed one in my photos. Yes I love them and have lots. She also sent the wonderful Wendy Knits book. There are lots of great patterns in there that I can't wait to try. How did she know I didn't have it? Brooke - you are the best! Now a brief update on my bag for the Bag Along, I used Lions Brand Cashmere which I really like and the self lining bag pattern from their site but I didn't follow the striping pattern. I was so busy making up my own stripes that I didn't realize the bag was supposed to get smaller towards the top! So when I got done it was sort of floppy and the handles holes didn't exactly appear in the right place. I also wasn't crazy about the handles in the pattern so made up my own. Then I sort of pulled in the sides to make it better at the top. I like the way the stripes turned out but overall am not thrilled with the bag. Oh well - on to the next project!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Sun is Up

I awoke Sunday at 7:15 a.m. to the sound of a thundering herd of elephants coming down my hall. How is it possible for a 40 pound child to make so much noise? Next thing I know there is a little face shoved in mine saying, "Mama! The sun is up - it's time to get up!!!" Yes, the son is up so there will be no more rest for the weary. Thus we began the Sunday morning ritual TV watching. However the son surprised me when he asked to watch Dinosaurs. Now you might ask why I would actually be happy to watch The Land Before Time for the umpteenth million time but it turns out it was a nice respite from crocodiles. You see ever since we went to the Camden New Jersey Aquarium he has had nothing but crocodiles on his mind. And then it dawned on me - it's sort of like knitting (isn't everything?) You see first there was his love of sharks - it was all sharks - all the time. It's sort of like when I first started the Irish Hiking Scarf - I loved the pattern, loved the yarn and even bought the yarn in several colors so that I could make IHS for all my friends. I swore to always love the Irish Hiking Shark. But then - the clapotis dinosaur caught my eye. I forgot all about the Irish Hiking Sharks. I was in love with the clapotis and just wanted to knit those. I even bought yarn to make many different clapotis (sounding familiar?) and the Irish Hiking Sharks just lay quitely in my knitting basket. Every now and then I would play with them but not nearly as much as I used to. Then just when my toychest was full of yarn to make clapotis - I learned about the felted crocodile - so many patterns for felted bags, so many yarns . . . well you get the idea!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Flash Frenzy

My SP8 Hostess has asked us to "Flash our knitting bag" so here it is. What's in the bag? Well there is still the Circular Mitred Square blanket as I have a few more ends to tuck in on that puppy. Also there is the navy and light blue knit person I am making for Bag me Along. The turquoise Irish Hiking Scarf - I love this yarn, I love this scarf but for some reason it is taking me forever to finish it. Even longer is the Here and There Cables scarf from the Scarf Style book. I really love this scarf and the yarn - serengeti - but have been working on it for a VERY long time. The colorful scarf at the top is my "Not Entirely Entrelac" scarf in Karaoke which I just started the 4th of July weekend and is knitting up fast. The blue/green is another baby blanket out or Lorna's Laces Worsted superwash and finally at the bottom is my Cozy out of Cherry Tree Hill silk/merino blend in Birch. I love the color on this one and the design but am having a really hard time whenever you have to k2 through the back. I bought some Addi Turbos (never tried them before) which I'm going to switch it to and see if that helps. Also the yarn is thin and it's impossible to memorize the pattern so progress is S L O W! Not pictured (because it's too big for the basket - is my prayer shawl/throw that I am making for Horsey Girl in Lion Brand Homespun Magenta. That's a mindless knit so I take it on car trips but it is getting to big even for that! Now Yarn Yenta has asked us to tell you WHY these items are in the bag. I really don't know how to answer it - they are in there because I am working on them (or hoping to start working on them again) and I love to knit!

Next - my good friend Bonnie (yeah Bonnie - you helped me figure out the hyperlink!) has asked us to FLASH OUR FREEZERS! So here is mine. It is clear looking at this that we live only on frozen junk food and there is no real food in here. From reading what's in Bonnie's freezer vs. what is in mine it is clear she is a good mother who cooks real food for her family and I am a slacker who orders way too much take out! Oldest item - frozen chicken breasts in a ziplock - wonder how old those are! Best surprise - I have LOTs of margerine - don't have to buy that for awhile. Worst surprise - there is nothin but junk in there!
OK - now it's your turn - flash your basket or your freezer and let me know!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Circular Mitred Square Blanket

I have finished the baby blanket and am calling it a "Circular Mitred Square Blanket". I am very happy with how it turned out. I couldn't get the photos to show the colors very well but you can get the general idea. I made it with Lions Brand Microspun and I love this yarn. It drapes really well and is very soft. Plus it can go in the washer and dryer which is a big plus for a baby blanket! I now need to try to block it because the edges are curling up a bit. Several of you have asked for the pattern so I'll give it a shot. I've never written a pattern for others to use so please let me know if you have any questions.

So here's the pattern. This blanket is worked in the round from the outside in so you start with A LOT of stitches on the needles. I wanted my blanket to be about 28 inches wide so using a size 9 circular needle I cast on 128 stitches per side for a total of 512 stitches! Basically you need to do a swatch with your yarn to figure out how many stitches per side and add 3 per side. I cast on 128 stitches, placed a marker and did that 3 more times making the last marker a different color so I knew where each round started. Then you join being careful not to twist (I twisted and you should have heard the explatives!)

Round 1 - *knit 125 stitches, knit 3 together* repeat from * to * to the end of the round
Round 2 - knit
Round 3 - *knit 123 stitches, knit 3 together* repeat from * to * to the end of the round
Round 4 - knit

Keep this going with all of the odd rounds decreasing by 2 stitches.

Then when you get towards the end - for me it was 12 stitches per section - I started decreasing every time I went around. Then when I was really near the end - about 12 stitches total - I cut the yarn long and used a needle to thread through all of the remaining stitches than pulled it tight light a hat but being careful not to let it pucker. At what point you need to start decreasing every round and then pull together will vary depending on how thick your yarn is. The thicker the yarn the sooner you'll need to do it. The thinner the yarn the closer you can get to the end. You just need to watch it so you don't end up with a stem!

A note about stitch markers - I used them and it really helped because I didn't want to have to count each row but on the rows when you knit the 3 together you move the stitch marker one stitch to the right so it will be in the right place the next time. For example - if it is knit 121 then knit 3 tog - you knit 121, slip the marker off, slip one knitted stitch to the left needle, slip the marker on and then slip the knittied stitch back to the right needle and then knit your 3 together. Why only one stitch over when the sections are decreasing by 2 each? Because you are losing a stitch on each end of the section. Hope this is helpful and not confusing!

Thanks to Helen for pointing out I forgot to say how much yarn I used! I used 2 skeins each of 3 colors but I had some of each color left so probably no more than 5 skeins total yarn. A lot will depend on how many colors you choose to use and how you stripe it.

Bury the ends. That's it! You can stripe it however you want. If you want to know the stripe count I used or if you have any questions just send me an e-mail at lahamltAgmailDOTcom. This pattern is copyrighted by me - please use it for your personal enjoyment but not for profit. Have fun and if you do knit one of these I'd love for you to send me a photo.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mitred Square Bag

I'm so excited - I have finally finished my mitred square tote for my Tote Exchange partner. It was a lot of fun to knit the front and back mitred squares. I chose this pattern because I've always wanted to try mitred squares but until now I was afraid they would be too hard. They couldn't be easier! And the fun part is that they get smaller every other row so the knitting goes very quickly. Now the band - well that was another story. You knit two identical squares - one for the front and one for the back. Then you knit "the band" which started with the orange side, went up to become the strap and then became the blue side and the purple bottom. The knitting went on FOREVER! I even shortened the handle from what they said to knit but it still went on and on and on! That is the one modification I'd make if I do this again - I'd make the handle shorter and possibly double the yarn when doing the handle to make it thicker. I think I will make it again because I really like how it turned out. I used Cascade 22o and cast on the 125 stitches the pattern called for but boy was this sucker big! Both of these photos are taken on the same hammock to give you an idea of scale. To bring it back from the Land of the Giants I felted it a lot and it shrunk down nicely. It's still on the large side - more of a tote or knitting bag than a purse - but I like it and hopefully my pal will too. Here it is being modeled by the lovely Miss K. It hits her fairly low but then she's not that tall yet. On me it hits perfectly if you sling the strap across your body and a little on the low side if you just put it over your shoulder. I'm hoping if my pal thinks it's too long maybe she could fold the top and put a cute pin on it to make it shorter. Anyway - I can't wait to see what my secret pal sends to me!