Sunday, March 29, 2009

Always Learning

I watched Lucy Neatby's Gems 2 DVD about colorwork and I was amazed at how she broke down the process. I have been making a huge carrying and stranding mistake. I tried her way as soon as I finished the DVD and the difference was astounding. I have not been stranding and carrying my yarn consistently. I finished the Warm Sipalu bag - all but the strap. I am telling you iCord is not my friend. I have only knit half of the strap on the first bag, knitting iCord makes my nose bleed - I hate it. Anyway, I digress, the simple step of always keeping your background colors to the right or top and you dominant colors to the left or bottom makes the finished product a thousand times better than stranding willy nilly. So I could not wait to start another bag, handling the yarn correctly. I cast on a Sipalu bag in the Main color selection/charts in the Cool palette. I am so anxious to see the bag knit "correctly" I cannot wait to finish the side panel and first welt. As advised, I wrote on the pattern and charts which would be the dominant colors and which would be the background colors.

I made myself put the bag down for a couple hours while I work the Glenesk swatch. I made center pull balls out of each color in the kit. There are a couple of colors that are so close that a strand taped to my color chart is not enough to see the difference with the naked eye. I am going to knit small 6 row x 10 stitch squares of each color in the kit for the chart. Then I will knit the Chart B Swatch using the "correct" carrying and stranding method. For this record, I want the dark colors - the blues and greens to be dominant so I will make those my left hand yarns. I want the reds, oranges and golds to be the background colors so I will carry those in my right hand. I will wrap every third stitch when stranding four or more stitches in a single color.

In other news - I finished the cuff of my sock and 20 rows of the leg, and I knit another section of the Aguona Laptop bag. I finished The Face by Dean Koontz, not very good, not a title I would recommend. I finished listening to Phantom Prey audiobook, again, not one I would recommend. Richard Ferrone absolutely cannot do female voices and more than half the characters were women. I was ready to tear my hair out by the time the last track played. OMG, never again will I buy an audiobook read by him. I finished Dexter Season 1, Serial Killers of America, and watched Deadliest Catch Season 1 AGAIN. I am currently reading one of the best books I have read in a while The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver. I have always LOVED computers but I was unfortunately born about 10 years too late. Personal computers were not released to the public until a year after I graduated from college. This book is quite old, I wish I had discovered it sooner - I have read many of Deaver's books, I don't know how I missed this one. To age it - the computers still used floppy disks. But I am loving the hacker talk and the acronyms and the Silicon Valley locals. It is hard for me to pay attention to the serial killer they are tracking, I am so into the geek speak. Awwww, to speak DOS and UNIX again!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Almost Done

My four day weekend is coming to a close. I got through most of my TO DO list. I did my taxes and e-filed them. I reorganized and cleaned out my closet, my desk and my cabinet. I did my filing. I finished the Sipalu bag in the warm color palette, except the strap. I knit through row 60 of 91 on the Blue Aguona Laptop bag. I cast on some self striping socks. I am currently working on the Candle Flame Scarf in Wollmeise, I knit 26 rows last night. I logged all of my yarn from the Starmore Kits into Ravelry. I spent some quality time with my pup. I cut all of the cardboard boxes up for recycling. I went through half a dozen Quilter's magazines and cut out my inspiration photos and put the rest into recycling. I finished David Baldacci's The Hour Game audiobook, and I am half way through John Sandford's Phantom Prey. I downloaded several free books to my Kindle2. I feel surprisingly rested, probably just because I was sleeping until 7:30 instead of getting up at 4:45. Although I did win $10 on a Scratcher ticket, I did not hit the Lottery so back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tick Tock

I am a clock watcher now. I am so disconnected from my work, that all day I am looking at the time. Waiting impatiently for 4:00 to roll around. I watch the calendar too - always looking forward to Friday. I don't hate my job, most of it is not even annoying. But I am a knitter now. I find my job a waste of really good knitting time. When I was a crocheter I did not have this problem. I would go through the day, commute on home and hook several rows before bed. The irony of it - the Chicks With Sticks group I joined here at work are responsible. They insisted I pick up knitting again, after all one high school scarf to go with my letter girl uniform could hardly count as knitting. They brought patterns upon patterns, e-mailed links to online sources, we took a field trip to the yarn store. It was a plot and I did not see it coming. They made me one of them, a knitter. I have passed the virus on, I have taught another to knit. Why are people worried about pod people and aliens, we have been invaded by knitters.

I received a partial order from Virtual Yarns, my Henry VIII small/petite sweater kit and my Lismore Sweater kit box 2 of 2. I am thinking they may need bigger boxes so they don't have to send so many. I am hoping the other boxes don't come today, my roomie is going to be in and out all day. I have slightly revised my Starmore Sweater knitting plans. Henry VIII is the ultimate so I will knit that one first, making sure I have enough of all the yarn colors. Then I will knit the Glenesk Cardigan and last I will knit the Lismore. The folks on Ravelry have me paranoid about yarn kit amounts. I bought the zip lock bags with the zipper tab and white label on the front so I can keep each colorway separate and marked. There being only one yarn tag per several skein group means I need to do the labeling myself. I believe one of the knitters who complained about running out actually mixed up two of the colors. Several of them are very very close, that is why the blending works so perfectly. I am also cutting the Leo Scarf in half. Even if the model on the pattern card is a mere waif, that scarf is huge. I am only going to do 4 pattern repeats instead of 8. Oh, and I got the bags with the zipper so I can unzip a corner and work with the yarns directly from the bags, tangle free. I found making a hole in a bag smooth enough for lots of yarn pulling is not all that easy.

I finished the welt and the first 3 rounds of the back panel on the Warm Sipalu bag. I will get as far as I can on it tonight. Tomorrow night I will get as far as I can on the Blue Aguona laptop bag. I am going to frog the STR Leafling socks, I don't even know why I am trying to force myself to knit those. I still haven't frogged the Kenobi Jacket - not sure why; I meant to weeks ago. This four day staycation I am going to reorganize my closet. My yarn bins need to be checked, I killed two moths last weekend. I have fresh lavendar so I am going to hang new sachets. The rest of the time I plan to finish the Wollmeise Candle Flame Scarf and the Sundara Tiger Eye Scarf. Sunday we are having company, our dear friend who lost her Mom last week is coming over for dinner, and my Sister and Brother-in-Law are coming. My Sister is picking up her new computer. I did not open or check it - don't want to risk computer envy.

I better get to work, since I don't have any knitting with me - and it's not even 9 o'clock yet. Sigh. . . .

Monday, March 16, 2009


I totally forgot to snap a picture of the Aguona Laptop bag. I hurriedly tried to find something to stretch it across so I could quickly take and upload a picture. I BROKE MY NEEDLES, just as I was getting the left edge of the bag over the box I heard a snap. I now need new US Size 4 Harmony tips. Geez, I tell ya . . .

I tried to replace the broken tip with the Options tips, but the screws on the cable I was using were too big. I don't know if others have experienced that or not, but some of the cable screws are larger than others. I try to keep them matched up with the tips that have unscrewed from other cables. You can actually see the difference in size - so it is just a matter of using the right combination. Unfortunately the only cable I had available that fit the Options tips is 47" long, I will have to magic loop it until my new tips come.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Picture Day

Warm Sipalu Bag (front)

Cool Strapless (so far) Sipalu Bag

Starmore ~ Virtual Yarns
Leo Scarf Kit, Patterns and Books
Glenesk Sweater Kit

Knit Picks Kits: Red Aguona Laptop Bag and Andean Chulla Hat
& New KP Tools

Wollmeise Sock Club

My Kindle 2

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ups and Down

Life has so many peaks and valleys. Monday was a very deep valley. Three women who are all like sisters to me each lost members of their families. A Mother An Aunt and A Cousin. Every four hours I was receiving news of their loss. It was a very hard day and evening. My best friend was losing her third Aunt this year - devastating.

Most of us crafters make things for different reasons, many of us find great comfort in the sound of knitting needles clicking, the fluid motion of chains sliding off and on a hook, the satisfaction of centering wordart just right on a page, finally finishing the top of a quilt. None of the ladies I spoke of above are crafters or have the types of hobbies or pasttimes that offer comfort. So me, my Mom and my Sister are here to listen to hug and to bring food and prayers.

On the up side, it was Sister's and Girlfriends day and I sent the usual chain-email and got lots of them back. The snail mail I have received this week has been outstanding and mostly International. I received copies of Tudor Roses and Scandinavian Knitwear. My Wollmeise Sock Club Spring package came. My first Virtual Yarns order came, the yarns for the Leo scarf are gorgeous. The book, The Collector's Item is comparable to Tudor Roses. The photography and patterns are stunning. Apparently the rumors are true, several colorways of the 2 ply yarns offered by Virtual Yarns and the kits that contain them are being discontinued in the very near future. Some colors have already been depleted. Whew, no buyers/knitters remorse this time. I ordered what I really loved before it was gone forever.

Life is too short. . .

I bought a Kindle 2 solely because it can read the book to me when I need to stop reading the text myself. I can try new authors without having their books sitting on my shelf if I end up not liking them. And, lets face it I am out of space for books, DVDS and yarn - go figure. SO being able to have 20,000 books on a single little handheld works for me.

I have had to stop reading some, actually most of the forums on Ravelry. There is so much drama going on in some of them I think folks have completely forgotten it's a KNITTING and CROCHETING community. I miss the days when it first started and all we ever talked about was YARN and patterns, and knitting and crocheting. Now it's just too much off topic chatter and personal information. Many have forsaken their blogs and put all their business on Ravelry. So since I go there to obsess with others about needlecrafting ONLY, I have just removed all but four of the forums from my list. This is my forum for the personal stuff, with lots of the needlecrafting obsession thrown in.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Almost There

I have completed the Sipalu bag in the cool color palette (alternate charts). I have to knit the I cord strap then block it. I am going to do the linings when I finish all 4 bags in the set. I cast on and knit the side panel, welting and first round of the first bag in the warm color palette. There are some really interesting colors in this sampler. The side panel pattern is more distinctive, it has more contrast. The welting is starting to really bother my wrist. Holding the two needles together to knit a stitch from each, without any other stitches falling off is - well frankly, a pain. The end result is worth it though.

I am almost ready to start my Glenesk Sweater swatch; Chart B 6x6". I did all of the preparation for starting the sweater. I reproduced the charts in excel so I could color code them and made up a color sample chart, with bits of each yarn. Once I started winding the yarn into balls I realized that there are some colors that are very close so I will need to be extra careful when starting a new ball. There has been a lot of talk on Ravelry about the non-tagged hanks of yarn. I used my electric ball winder and wound up a ball of each color. I weighed each ball on a digital scale. I am keeping track of how many grams I have of each colorway. Several people ran out of yarn from their kits. I tackled this problem in a couple of different ways. I created the chart to track colors by weight. I ordered more kits with similar colors in them. There will be some overlapping, hopefully it will all even out and I won't run short on any of my projects.

Starmore acquisitions:
I bit the bullet and bought a copy of Tudor Roses and Scandinavian Knitwear by Alice Starmore.
I bought the yarn kit from Virtual Yarns to make the Lismore sweater in the Celtic Collection.
I ordered the Leo Scarf kit, and Jade Starmore's book A Collector's Item.
I ordered the Seaweed Wrap in Crotal mostly to be entered into the contest on the web site.

I ordered the Henry VIII kit in small and x-large because there is very little ease in the finished sweater and it is a pullover. For some reason their designs taper down to a narrow waist. My mid section goes out not in - so I know I will need to adjust the pattern. This is the kit I was most worried about not have enough yarn for so I just ordered two. The pattern is in Tudor Roses and errata and an update is included with the kit. This pattern exemplifies why I am endeavoring to be a skilled Fair Isle Knitter. It looks like fine Tapestry. It does not look like something a mere mortal can knit. I must have one and so far I have not found any volunteers to knit it for me. :D

What prompted this flurry of buying, RUMORS!!! There is a buzz going around that many Starmore kits and colorways are going to be discontinued very soon on the Virtual Yarns site. Also, the exchange rate is pretty good right now.

I ordered two books by Toshiyuki Shimada from the site; Knit Concerto and New Style of Heirloom Knitting. His patterns are amazing, although they are only available in Japanese. There are many screen shots of the photos inside the books and the charts on various websites, I feel confident I can get through the patterns. I have a Cousin who has spoken fluent Japanese since Junior High - I can enlist her aid if needed. There are photos of finished items on Ravelry that made my mouth water. Marsha White, The Needle Arts Book Shop has a superb article available online titled For the Adventurous Knitter Interpreting Japanese Knitting Patterns. It is excellent. I have learned a little German during Knit Alongs, maybe now I can pick up some Gaelic and Japanese.

What else did I buy? A car for my Mom a Honda Accord EX 2006 and a Dell Slim Tower Desktop Computer for my Sister. Why - because I love them and they needed them. I paid the balance on our June Birthday Cruise. If you know of any cozy used bookstores or yarn shops in any of these ports please send me an e-mail. Ooo, and I also love crab and lobster, so any restaurants for lunch would be great too.

Baltimore, Maryland (06/19 & 06/27)
Rockland, Maine (06/21)
Saint John, New Brunswick (06/22)
Halifax, Nova Scotia (06/23)
Bar Harbor, Maine (06/24)
Boston, Massachusetts (06/25)

It is too late and dark to take pictures. . . . coming soon.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Troop 1390

On My Honor I will try to do my duty to God and my country to help other people at all times and obey the Girl Scout laws. It's amazing what I store in memory. Every Thursday at 2 pm at St. Peter's on 19th Avenue my Troop #1390 met. I won a trip to camp for selling the most cookies when I was 10 years old. And I have 26 girl scout badges on my sash.

How many boxes of Girl Scout Cookies did you buy this year? I bought two, Shortbreads and Samoa's. I stayed away from the Thin Mints because I just inhale those. Unfortunately, it's true what everyone says, they are not good anymore.

They don't taste anything like the cookies I sold, you get two rows less for $2.00 more. Sad turn of events. The skills and sense of community I got from Girl Scouts is priceless though. My Troop leaders were CREATIVE. Mrs. Brotten took us to a Hockey game. Mrs. Salens taught us acrylic, watercolor and oil painting. Mrs. Baer (Mother of the President of the SF Giants, Larry Baer) took us to the Circus at the Cow Palace. We also had camping trips to learn to swim, start fires, ride horses and make smores. Our troop was active and well run. I hope the Brownie I bought my cookies from gets half as much out of her experience as I did. I can be counted on to be prepared, I always have a safety pin, bandaid, vaseline, alcohol, aspirin, water, kleenex, small flashlight, swiss army knife, emery board, bobby pins and rubberbands. I have replaced personal time with charitable donations though. My Parents taught me to be honest, trustworthy and dependable, which also helped me be a good Girl Scout.

I think I'll buy a box of Thin Mints, just to check the current quality.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Finished Bag Back

I completed the back of the Sipalu Bag last night. This bag has an old world tapestry charm. That is one of the the things that has always attracted me to Fair Isle Knitting, it looks like something from another century if done well. I recently purchased a couple of colorwork/stranded knitting books and was disappointed that there were no fair isle patterns. Real fair isle blends your colors and there is a background and forground pattern. The patterns in the books I bought are almost mosaic. There are two colors per row, but no blending rows. I am going to cast on a Sipalu Bag in the Warm Palette after I pick up the 320 stitches around the top of the bag tonight. Luckily I received my replacement 47 inch 3mm/US 2.5 needles from Knit Picks yesterday. Those folks are so wonderful. I don't know if I mentioned that one of my new needles had a broken tip. One e-mail and a new one was rushed out to me - and I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that I spend 10% of my paycheck with them every month ;D They are nice to everybody!

I cannot wait to work with the warm palette colors and see how they blend. Kerin wrote a magnificent pattern for the yarn samplers. I am going to knit the primary pattern this time. Eventually I will knit all four bags. The Aguona laptop bag is very bright. I don't think I was expecting the white to be so dominant. It felt more blue in the photos. It is a little strange switching between the two projects. Knitting with Telemark on size US 4 after working with Palette on size US 2.5 takes some adjusting.

The Kenobi Jacket is still on the needles, I have not frogged it yet.

I watched The Sorcerer's Stone while finishing the back of the bag last night. I kind of miss Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys. If any of you know of another series of books like HP that I might enjoy please leave a comment.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Aguona Laptop Bag

I cast on and knit the first 16 rounds of the Aguona Laptop Bag. I still cannot visualize where the steeking will come in. I have not purchased the zipper yet, but since there are over 70 rounds left to knit, I will worry about that later. This is another stranded colorwork practice project. I am aiming at April 1st as the cast on date for my Starmore Glenesk Sweater. I think my floats are pretty even now and I am definitely in the groove reading the charts.