Sunday, February 26, 2012

Always On My Mind

Sorry Willie Nelson you’re not on my mind - family is. This week my mom, a couple of aunts, and my grandmas in particular. I finished up my mom’s mittens by soaking them in my favorite softening formula: Eucalan and Aveda’s Smooth Infusion hair conditioner. I just fill one of those little pink tubs you get at hospitals with warm water, a teaspoon of Eucalan, and pump of conditioner. I swish the mixture around while the tub is filling then add my knitting. I soak for 30 minutes or so, then rinse lightly, just enough to remove any clumps of conditioner that didn't dissolve. If only life’s rough edges could be softened with wool wash and salon hair conditioner, sigh. Enough philosophizing, back to blabbing, I mean blogging.

Here’s a picture of my mom’s cabled mittens. Isn't the color great? Click here for pattern and yarn info.

This weekend I was able to deliver both the mittens and the socks I made for one of my aunts. I borrowed a pair of footies from her this past summer and replaced them with a hand knit pair of socks. She says she got the better end of the deal. I enjoyed making them for her.

Here’s a picture of my aunt’s socks. Click here for pattern and yarn info.

My current project is a pair of socks for my only aunt on my dad’s side. I lost my grandma (her mom) this past Fall. I’m using my grandma's sock yarn to make the socks for my aunt. I’m also using this occasion to write my first sock pattern. I'm writing as I knit, so I’ll post the pattern as soon as I test it by knitting the second sock. I’m thinking of calling the pattern: “Grandma’s Slouchy Ribbed Socks.”

Here’s a picture of my first sock so far. Click here to follow my progress on Ravelry.

And, to complete the family circle, I picked up some goodies from my other grandma (my mom’s mom) this weekend. She passed away in 1992. I still miss her and think of her often. Among other things, she taught me to how blow bubbles with bubble gum, shop for dresses, make Christmas cookies, and respect my elders. My grandpa out-lived her by a number of years, and my mom and her sisters are finally cleaning out their home, which is sort of like stepping into a time machine. Having lived through the Great Depression and World War II, my grandparents saved everything! While I was delivering my homemade wares, my mom and aunts let me take a set of vintage sheets and some costume jewelry. The sheets bring back fond memories of staying the night, and they’ve been well-cared for so they’re in great condition. Although, if they’re now vintage and I slept in them, am I....? Never mind, let’s not go there! I’m excited to take apart the jewelry and create something crafty with it. My grandparents were the ultimate recyclers, meaning they reused everything from milk jug caps (cat toys), to Kleenex boxes (Barbie cars), to banana peels (garden), so I know they’d approve of my up-cycling the beads.  
Here’s a picture of my new to me goodies :)

I’d love to hear about your adventures with yarn, up-cycling, crafting, or otherwise. Please share and thanks for reading! Christina

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happiness Is... Beach Sand in the Car in February

Soaked up some vitamin D with my youngest daughter today at Lake Michigan’s beautiful shoreline. She's off to college in the fall, so when she asked if I'd go to the beach with her I jumped at the chance. Couldn't talk her into walking to the beach, but we easily could have. Still, I'll take what I can get of the sunshine, the beach, and a happy teenager. We laughed, walked the beach, and ended up with sand in the car. I am loving this non-winter Michigan winter!

Here’s a picture of my daughter: The Thinker. Mittens and scarf by yours truly. The hat, well...

Despite working a couple 13 hour days this week and being sick, I managed to finish up a couple of projects. I found buttons for my Noro Silk Garden Jenny Watson sweater and finished a pair of mittens for my mom.

Here’s a picture of my new buttons. Click here for pattern details: Ravelry.

Speaking of mittens, the mitten factory is closed! I’ve just finished my 6th pair of these cabled mittens for family and friends. This is a great pattern, however... 12 mittens later... you get the idea...

Here’s a picture of 3 pair of the mittens. For pattern details click here: Free Pattern.

The pattern calls for a chunky yarn that’s been discontinued and size 9 needles. I did some research on Ravelry and many knitters commented they ended up with massive mittens, so... I used Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed and size 7 or 8 needles, depending on the giftee. I have a small to medium size hand (size 6 ring on the ring finger) and size 7 needles makes a pair that fit me perfectly. Three skeins of yarn will get you 2 pair of mittens at roughly $15 a pair. 

Here's a picture of the yarn I used in purple. The color of the knitted mittens above is most true. See my Ravelry project page for specific colorways.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of beautiful Lake Michigan at Grand Haven’s City Beach. Not sure I could ever live farther than walking distance from this Great Lake or an ocean.

If there was wonderful weather where you live today, I hope you had the chance to enjoy it :)  Thanks for reading ~ Christina

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Don’t You Just Say What You Mean?

I’ve heard the knitting term selvage before. And, to be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to it. Until now. I just finished knitting a pattern that called for decreasing at each end of every 8th or so row. Being the literal person I am, I either knit 2 together or slip slip knit, depending on which way I wanted my decrease to slant, the first or last stitch of the appropriate row. This works out just fine... except... when you need to seam. I couldn’t get a straight line for a seam as every 8th row the line moved. This left a very crooked and unacceptable seam. See below.

Here’s a picture of my bad seam before ripping out and re-sewing 900 times.

So... rip out, sew, repeat - until you get something that looks better. In desperation, I googled, and I discovered the importance of selvage. When increasing or decreasing at the end of the row, you should do this inside of the selvage. An apparently implied direction that would have been helpful in print form. Why, oh why, doesn’t a pattern just say that if that's what is meant? Anyway, after ripping out my seam and some of my hair, I did manage to salvage my sweater in spite of lacking the proper selvage required for seaming.

Here’s a picture of my sweater before buttons and its Eucalan bath.

This really is a cute little sweater knit from Noro Silk Garden. If you want pattern information follow this link: Ravelry. I am looking forward to picking up some spectacular buttons to draw attention away from my less than perfect seams. Now onto knitting a pair of mittens for my mom whose birthday was in January. Thankfully she’s a patient woman, and we’ve had a mild winter!

Thanks for reading. And, if you're a knitter, I hope I've saved you some possible frustration and spared some of your follicles by sharing my mistake ~ Christina

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who Me Speechless?

Well, I’ve been putting off writing this week because I feel like I’ve nothing to say. This will come as a surprise to those who know me personally, as you have at one time or another longed for a moment of silence in my presence I am sure. I’ll just let my fingers babble away at the keyboard and see if I can’t come up with something mildly interesting or at least a passable post.
I finished up a couple of projects this week. I made a baby earflap hat for my friend, Carrie, who is expecting. I’ve included a picture of the adorable baby on the pattern, as it is the baby who sold me on the pattern.

Here’s a picture of the adorable baby. Who could resist?

Since the sex of the soon-to-be owner of the hat is a surprise, I chose neutral pastel colors. The pattern is titled “Serendipity” and is by Brandy Fortune of Pixie Purls. It’s available for a few bucks on Ravelry, should you have an adorable baby in your life to knit one for. Note to my English teacher friends - I don’t like ending a sentence with a preposition, but it just seemed to work. The yarn is Chunky Mochi by Crystal Palace; it feels like I imagine one of those cotton/sheep-shaped clouds would feel like, if I could actually touch it. 

Here’s the hat I made. It will look much better on an adorable baby no doubt.

I also made a coca leaf bag for my friend, Julie, who wanted a little bag for her iphone and earbuds. As Julie so eloquently put it - she needed a low tech carrier for her high tech gadget. This little bag works perfectly. See my December 29, 2011 post or Ravelry if you want pattern details for this project. 

Here’s a picture of Julie’s bag, which looks a lot like mine only better as it’s my second go at it.

How many times, I wonder, will the library let me check out this pattern book before there is a note on my account directing me to Amazon? I’m on my 3rd check-out, all with renewals, of course. The library is a great source for patterns, by the way. I knit from library books if I only want a pattern or two and can finish them up before the due date. Being the angel I am, ahem, I never violate copyright law.
My Noro sweater is coming along nicely. 

Here's a picture of my sweater after its complimentary steam/spa treatment.

I steam-blocked it lightly, as the pattern called for the neck to be attached then sew the side seams. Once it’s finished, I’ll wet block it to bring out the best in the yarn and shape it. I do have the side seams completed. They are challenging as the sides increase in stitches every 8 or so rows. I have one seam that is decent and one that simply will not do. Ever the perfectionist, I’ll keep ripping out until I like what I see. Next, I’ll move on to sew the raglan sleeves, which are on a diagonal. Yikes! 
Well, for someone who thought she had nothing to say, I have managed to prattle on for about 550 words or so. I’m no Charles Dickens, but I think this will do. I'd love to hear about some of your projects - of the yarn variety or otherwise. ~ Christina