Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cabling with or without a cable needle

I've been switching back and forth between the two ways of doing this, and I think I've decided that my cables with a cable needle are much more neat. Maybe I just need more practice with cabling without a needle. I'm using Grumperina's approach of grabbing onto the the stitches as they hand in midair which helps with my overall blood pressure, but the tension just seems a bit wonky without the trusty cable needle. Sorry about the horrible picture, it's a dark, dreary day today. I'm making an executive knitting decision today as well. I have 2 more scarves and another set of spa washcloths on my list of things to knit before Christmas as gifts, but I'm clearing them off the "to do" list as of today. A friend of mine who I used to work with has been emailing her friends and family to pray for her neice, who was in a devastating car accident about a week ago. Things are not good. I've decided to knit a prayer shawl and give it to my friend. I'm going to let her decide who needs it the most. I've got 5 skeins of Light n' Lofty in a beautiful purple and blue color that will work very well. It's machine washable, soft, and will be light yet warm. I just feel that this family needs to be knit for more than some of my friends, who would be just as happy with something else.

The long arm of Blackberry

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Have you ever been obsessed with a pattern?

So much so that you can't stop knitting it until it's complete? Well, I had that experience with the Esther Williams hat. I LOVE this pattern. It's easy, but has enough interesting parts that it kept my interest. It's a small project and so I was able to finish it quickly, and I think it will make a fabulous gift for my SIL who will be freezing up in Denver this winter. Now, I realize that I haven't been all that organized when reporting on my knitting. I'm more of a big picture, large concept kind of girl. I'm not what you might called, "detail oriented." What I've learned by reading different blogs is that a lot can be learned by these details. I've learned a ton from Laura, Kathy, Becky, Margene, Siow Chin, and countless others. So I'm working on the detail thing. In that spirit, here are the project specs. Pattern: Esther Williams Hat by Laura of Poor Miss Finch Materials: 1 skein of Plymouth Encore in a buttery yellow Needles: Size 10 16"circ and DPNs, Size F crochet hook Time to complete: About 10 hours over 4 days What I learned: Well, I'm the slowest crocheter on the planet. The crochet edge took me forever, but I'm glad I hung in there. The edging really makes the hat special. I really like working with Encore as a acrylic/wool blend, although it did get a bit splitty with the crochet portion. You can't beat it for gifts for people with wool sensitivities. I know my SIL won't be itching. I'm also getting much more comfortable using DPNS. I think I'm ready to get my solid socks on the needles now with the further DPN practice. I just read on Laura's blog that she completed an Esther Williams in about 5 hours. I can see how making these hats will go faster with practice. Near the end, I had committed the pattern repeats to memory and whipped along much faster. In other knitting news, I'm starting the sleeves of Blackberry. I'm going to do it without Bobbles, I think. The bobbles just beg to be pulled upon by my kidlets. I'm also going to cast on my solid socks this week. Now the real question is, do I start another scarf or my last spa washcloth set for Christmas gifts? Ugh... Also, a fun contest is being run over at Just.Sew.Crafty. She's collecting pictures of knitters, knitting "in the wild." The best pics will be put up after the first of the year for voting. Fibery prizes will be awarded for the best pics! Go check it out. Oh, and for you beading enthusiasts, I have a bead project burning a hole in my idea notebook. I'm keeping it super secret to see if it will work out. If it does, I may try my had at submission again. If not, I'll post about it here. It does involve using Fireline though!

Don't worry, I'm not taking up fishing. This is for a secret bead project. Shhh....

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A completed Esther Williams

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Esther in progress

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Recovering from the Turkey Coma

Thanksgiving was a success, which is a relief. It was my first year making the turkey, and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. We made all the other dishes as well. My refrigerator is stuffed with leftovers that will last a few days. Ah, Thanksgiving leftovers; it's enough to give thanks for that alone. Much knitting is being accomplished during this long weekend as well. I've gotten pretty far into knitting the Esther Williams hat. I'm using the acrylic/wool blend Plymouth Encore as my SIL is sensitive to wool. The yarn is a pretty yellow cream color. I'm thinking I'm going to need to make one of these hats for myself as it is turning out so cute. I also finished up a scarf and a couple sets of spa washcloths. Blackberry in the Lamb's Pride Bulky is moving right along as well. I finished the back and the fronts. I'm thinking of getting a big chunky button to fasten the front. We'll see what I can come up with at my LYS. You might have noticed that I haven't been reviewing movies on DVD lately. I haven't mostly because we haven't seen anything of note. We've also been watching TV series on DVD. Lost Season 1 is excellent, and The Wire is pretty good too. Movies we've seen include The Skeleton Key (not so good), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (just creepy), War of the Worlds (again, not so good), The Devil's Rejects (gross, and bad dialogue). So you see, I've really nothing of note to report. Tonight we're watching Cronicas, so I'll let you know about that one if it's worth talking about. You can bet I've knit through all of these movies, and will be knitting through the one tonight. I think there may be subtitles, but that's not stopped me before. I understand some Spanish, so I think I can fill in what I miss by listening. Hope Thanksgiving was bountiful and joyous for all of you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I've got some good news, some bad news, and some ridiculous news...

What do you want to hear first? I'll get the bad news out of the way first. I swatched away with the Jamieson's Chunky in the lovely Neptune shade to see if it would work with Blackberry. No joy... I just couldn't get gauge and create a fabric that I thought would look nice. By the time I got close, the knit was way to lose. I was officially bummed. Here's the good news, and it far outweighs the bad. One of the positives of having a substantial stash, is that you almost always have something in there that will fit a pattern you want to make. Luckily I had 5 skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Khaki that did knit up to guage with some finagling of needle sizes. I'm halfway up the back, and have to say the yarn is working up quite nicely. Lest you think the Jamieson's will feel no love, I have the Rowan Cork Collection book, and I realized that the Jamieson's will work up to the same gauge as the Cork. Yeah!! Ok, on to the ridiculous news, I joined another KAL. I couldn't help myself, and since I got the kidlets stockings done for the Stockingalong, I had to do it. Now, if my mother is reading this (and she does, Hi MOM!) she's shaking her head. You see I've always been someone who overjoins things and then kills myself to get everthing done. She's got stories, lots of stories of me overbooking myself in order not to miss out on any excitement and then get really sick and or crazed from what I've done to myself. However, in my defencse, it's a fabulous pattern and is going to make my Sister-in-law a nice warm hat, since she and her new husband just moved to Denver. What KAL did I join? I joined the Esther Williams KAL (Synchronized Knitting). Laura, of Poor Miss Finch, designed the cutest hat, and is hosting a clever KAL for it. The KAL started yesterday and goes to December 16th. We are to be literally knitting the hat together, thus the synchronized knitting. The hat is so cute, and I've got plenty of stash yarn to make more!! Lastly, please sign my Frappr map! I've got almost 10,000 hits on this blog, there are more of you out there! Please sign, it's fun to see where everyone is from.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Blackberry for Christmas?

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The stockings

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RAK package

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I made my deadline... Whew!

I've been industriously working on my kidlets' Christmas Stockings these past few weeks. I wanted to get them done by Thanksgiving, so we can hang them when we decorate the house the weekend after Turkey Day. I made my deadline!! They're both done! I still need to put their names on the stockings using the duplicate stitch, but I'm allowing myself until after Christmas to do it. You know what that means... I get to start a sweater!!! Yessssss.... Today I will be swatching for Blackberry using my Jamieson's Chunky in the Neptune colorway. A sweater for Christmas? I think so! I also want to post a couple of thanks to two very sweet people! Thanks to Xanthia from the knittyboards for sending me a Hello Kitty RAK package. You can see what she sent in the picture sans the gum. We devoured the gum almost before the package was unwrapped. Also, thanks go out to Caitlyn for sending me two balls of gray knitpicks essential sock yarn. I think I will using this yarn for my contribution to the Solid Socks KAL. Now that I've completed the stockings, I'm much more brave about knitting socks for real feet. Also, if I haven't blogged about it before, I want to thank Elisabeth for sending me a lovely spun cotton. It's in a tangle, but I've got ways to make it behave... If you haven't already done so, please place your pin in my Frappr map! I'm enjoying seeing where everyone lives and knits!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Now all the cats want a turn at the blog

Ashe and Hazel cornered me this morning and gave me a piece of their feline minds. Apparently they are upset that Wiji has been the only cat featured on this blog. Needless to say, there may be a post from each of them in the coming weeks. I'm feeling much better now; thanks for the well wishes! I think the picture of the thin piece of cardboard covering the yawning hole in my floor that was an air register confused some people. You see, we've been having furnace trouble. In the midst of diagnosing our furnace with a bad motherboard, we were also informed that there our ductwork was unsealed and that we've been pulling in air from our garage and under our house. This actually explains a lot considering that we've all had wicked allergies since moving into this house almost a year ago. So, to make a long story long, we paid a ton of money for our ductwork to be cleaned, sanitized and sealed. It took an entire day. Those of you with small children know how tiring this is considering I had holes in my floor and ceiling all day and a very loud Hepa vacuum and high power air hoses at work most of the day. The good thing is now we have clean and sealed ductwork. I hope to see a cut on our energy bills. Oh, and another reason I'm happy the ductwork is not sealed, the guys who did the work found 3 dead rats under the house. The thought of pulling in air from under the house is just that much grosser. I did finally pick up my knitting after the kids went down for bed and got much further on little girl's Christmas stocking. I'm also plugging away at the spa washcloths. I got to tell you though, I'm getting really bored. After little girl's stocking is finished, I'm making plans on a sweater. I also HAVE to hurry up and pick a pattern for the Solid Socks KAL. I want to do something more exciting than a basic sock, but I'm just not sure where to start looking. I think I'm going to spend some time with the Sensational Socks book and see what strikes me. I've decided to follow the crowd and get my own Frappr map, so please check out my sidebar and tell me where you're from!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hello, I'm Wiji, Craftylilly's Cat

One of them anyway. There are two others, my brother and the little shrimp. They aren't the focus of today's post. Can I tell you a secret? I think Mom's trying to poison me. You see, a couple of weeks ago she took all of us to the Vet. None of us appreciated it. Well, at this Vet visit, we were told that my brother and I needed a teeth cleaning. Because of my heart murmur, I have to have antibiotics for a couple of days before the procedure. Anyway, last week, Mom gives me some which made me really sick. I haven't totally forgiven her. Well, yesterday, she tries to give me some more. Now granted, this stuff tastes different, and I dont' feel sick after it, but I still don't trust it. It's orange. I don't trust orange things. I've fought back. I dont' take this kind of treatment laying down (contrary to my picture). I've got teeth and claws and am not afraid to use them. Let's just say I've got big plans for when she tries to get me in the cat carrier tomorrow. Mom is having a bad day all the way around. That second picture you see? Those are the open holes in the floor and ceilings created when you get your ductwork cleaned. The little girl has been in her playpen all day, and the boy is stir crazy. The vacuum they are using is really loud and scary too. Mom says she feels a migraine coming on. I haven't seen her pick up her sticks and yarn all day. Ashe, Hazel, and I have conferred and decided she's going to lose it today. We've got our assigned hiding places figured out.

I only look sweet and innocent.

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One of the reasons I'm insane today.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Swaps and new KAL's

I just love knitting/crafting swaps and KALs. I've met so many wonderful people through particapating in them! I've joined two new groups/KALs as you can see by my sidebar. I learned about the Sexy Knitters Club through Amy. Anyone can join the group if you consider yourself a sexy knitter. Come on, you know you do! Join up! There will be an official KAL starting in the New Year. I also joined the Solid Socks KAL. Knitting the kidlets' stockings has awakened the sock knitter hiding deep inside. This will be my first sock KAL so I'm quite excited. I just got some Knitpicks Essential sock yarn in a dark hunter green and am searching for a suitable pattern now. If you have a suggestion, send one my way. In swapping news, my handmade journal Swap partner left a comment saying she's working away on it! Yay! I also received a book from the Knit the Classics book swap. She sent me Born Free which I've never read but always wanted to. I've just mailed off the book to my pal today. The Knitty SP5 is also wrapping up this month. I'm putting the finishing touches on the final package for my pal. I hope she likes it. Last knitting news of the day, I'm putting up the pattern for the Double Happiness felted bag on my sidebar today. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Here's the Boy's Christmas stocking. I think I'm could work up an addiction to knitting socks...

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My blog friend Sally sent me this little package from Chile! Thanks Sally!

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One Christmas gift done: washcloths that I will pair with nice soap.

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If something's marked clearance shouldn't it be at a significant discount?

So I went to my local Michael's yesterday, expecting just some cheap retail therapy, and ended up getting really irritated. Not good. I found a section of books marked "clearance" up in front of the store, so I started to go through them. I found a book published by Leisure Arts that looked to be in fairly decent condition. The publisher's price read $19.95, but the front cover had a big discount sticker on it. Of course, I pick it up. So when I go to the checkout and the clerk starts scanning my items, I notice that the "Clearance" book comes up full price. I ask the clerk about it, she gets confused and goes to talk to the floor manager. I'm fully expecting her to come back and say there's a mistake, and the book is actually $10 or something. Oh no. Turns out the store manager needs to clear out some stock room so put the books up marked as clearance, but is really still selling them at FULL PRICE! WTH? I, of course, tell the clerk I'm not interested in the book. She leans in and says she understands. That just seems like false advertising to me. If something is marked clearance, it should be clearance! OK, enough ranting and complaining. I finished the Boy's Christmas stocking and am in the process of casting on for Little Girl's. I also got one knitted gift done, and am working on a Sophie Bag for another gift. I'm feeling good; I'm on a roll. I'll post pictures later today. I did find out that I need to bring a Christmas themed white elephant gift to the Boy's preschool Board's Holiday get together/meeting, so the next gift I make should probably address that. I've got two balls of Sugar and Cream in Mistletoe and a book full of dishcloth patterns to take care of that one though. There's also an interesting conversation going on at Kerstin's blog about women and the ideal of the 50s housewife. Interesting stuff. I've thought about the topic many times since I started work, then had a family and made the decision to stay home. Check it out if you're interested. The posts are interesting, and the comments are really intriguing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Knitting Meme

Siow Chin tagged me with the knitting meme. It's interesting to take a moment to consider where I am knitting wise these days. What is your all-time favourite yarn to knit with? I love Koigu. I've enjoyed working with Koigu in the three projects I've made with it. The yarn is gorgeous and feels so wonderful to knit with. I also really like Cascade 220 and Lamb's Pride. I'm new to many of the "nicer" yarns, so I'll probably come up with some new favorites as I continue to experiment. Your favourite needles? I love working with bamboo. I do like the two Addis circs that I own. I'll work with pretty much any needle though. The worst thing you've ever knit? I knit a basic garter stitch scarf with Jiffy Thick and Quick that I look at and think, "Boy I've come a long way since then. The scarf itself still looks ok, but my stitches are way more even now, and the yarn itself pills quite a bit. Your favourite knit pattern? If we're talking lace pattern, I really love Charlotte's Web. The pattern is not that difficult, but the results are beautiful. My favorite sweater pattern that I've made would have to be Lara from the first Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk book. Lara uses an interesting construction, and it fits me pretty well. Most valuable knitting technique? Hmmm... Well, I've been using a lot of short rows lately for collars, heels, sleeves, and whatnot. It's a pretty handy technique that makes for nice professional looking results. Best knit book or magazine? I've used Melville's the Purl Stitch many times, and the Vogue knitting quick reference. Those two books are very well written with clear instructions. I enjoy Interweave Knits as a magazine. I've yet to make a pattern out of one of the magazines, but I've got many earmarked for future projects. Your favourite knitalong? I'm really enjoying the Fall Cable KAL that I'm cohosting right now. It's been a lot of fun to see what cable projects others are working on. It's expanding my knitting horizons! Your favourite knitblogs I've go too many to count. I don't really feel comfortable mentioning just one. Check out my sidebar for the link to all the blogs I do read. What I like about knitblogs in general, is that I feel connected to the many other people world-wide who enjoy knitting. I get to see their work, read about their challenges, and learn a little about their lives. It's been fun to share. Your favourite knitwear designer? I don't really have one. I've knit a lot of Stephanie Japel's designs. I'm drawn to many of Jane Ellison's designs as well. Teva Durham designs some interesting things. The knit item you wear the most? I wear many of my scarves a lot. Hey, I live in CA, not known for the extensive sweater weather. I have been wearing my Bulky Mini-Cardi a lot these days. Who to tag? How about Elspeth, Jenn, and Jess

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pickford languishing on my purse

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Pickford choker

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Well, I heard back from Knitty about my Winter submission and

it was rejected. It's ok. I'm just getting started in this thing called knit and beading design. It's been a big step for me just to submit designs to Beadwork and Beadstyle magazine, and Knitty. Yes, this is my third rejection. I do have several more good ideas in the noggin that I want to work on. Also, with every rejection I get, I offer up a new pattern in my free patterns section of the blog sidebar. So, here are the details on what I submitted. The project is a knitting with beads choker pattern using Paton's Grace and size 6/0 glass seed beads with a shank button centerpiece. I call her, Pickford. It's a fairly simple pattern to do if you are familiar with knitting with beads and makes a quick fun gift for the holidays. I will have it ready for all of you on my sidebar by tomorrow morning, so if you don't see it, check back. In happier news, Danielle of No-No Kitty yarn fame received my handmade journal (she was my buddy for the swap). She likes the journal and put up a pic of it on her blog. Go check it out! This is a very fun swap to be involved in. The next round will start in February for those interested.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Pictures there are not, knitting always...

We couldn't fight the power and ended up watching Revenge of the Sith a couple of nights ago. I'd have to say, I'm disappointed. I didn't think Phantom Menace or Clone Wars were any good either, though. Sure, several things are explained in this movie, and it is certainly better than the last two, but I still feel it lacked something. Good dialogue is one, I know it lacks. As far as knocking down my holiday knitting lists of doom, I'm doing pretty well. I got my handmade journal completed and mailed off to its recipient. I forgot to take a picture of it before its departure, so you'll have to trust me when I say I'm quite happy with it. I'm almost done with one spa washcloth, and have started on the Boy's stocking. I don't know if I'll be able to only knit on holiday items, as they are all scarves and spa washcloths, so I made a deal with myself. When I get the kid's stockings done, I'm going to cast on for a sweater. It'll be either Kepler, Blackberry, or Twist. We'll see. I'm a bit bummed as it's the holiday season which means gift buying, and we've run into two rather hefty bills. Two of my cats need their teeth cleaned, and our furnace needs some service and our ducts need to be sealed and cleaned. It's time to tighten the money belt once more. Ouch...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Snow White

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The Craftylilly kidlets. Batman sported a handknit "kittyville" hat that doubled as bat ears. He wouldn't put it on until we were out of the house.

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The Christmas Stocking Adventure Begins!

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Holy Butterflies, Batman!

When asked last week what he wanted to be when he grew up, my son exclaimed, "Batman!" As you can guess, that is what he dressed up as last night for his first night trick or treating. Little girl was a butterfly. Good fun was had by all! In all the excitement of the day (I worked at the Boy's school where we had a Halloween party), I was only able to get one not so greatly lit or modeled shot of the sweater I'm dubbing Snow White. I wanted to design a little short sleeve, cropped sweater using the four balls of GGH yarns that I had in the same pretty cream color. I'm pretty happy with the results. I used almost two complete balls of GGH Savanna for the bottom ribbing, collar edge, and sleeve ribbing, and two balls of GGH Joy for the bodice area. Both yarns are fun to use although I think I enjoyed the Savanna a little more. It's a really dreamy wool, linen blend that just felt great to work with. The Joy was a bit harder on my hands, but the final fabric drapes well and is so soft! I used size 9 Denise circs for all of the knitting. The Denise's are starting to grow on me. I also decided to put more of a mini collar on it, instead of the traditional V-neck and I'm glad I did. It adds more snuggliness up against the neck. It's a sweater that I'm wearing a tight tank underneath, as it is cropped. (Hello, two kids=stretch marks from hell.) I think I'll get a lot of wear out of it this holiday season, and hey it only took 4 balls of yarn! In other knitting news, I started the kidlets' Christmas stockings one day ahead of schedule! I'm making the Rustic Lodge Christmas stockings from the Knit Christmas Stockings! book. I'm using the yarn recommended, Lopi in Fire Tweed and Spruce Tweed. The Boy's will be Green with Red Trim, and Little Girl's will be Red with Green Trim. The stockings will be my first socks so wish me luck! I joined the Stockingalong to help me get these done for Christmas decorating after Thanksgiving! Lastly, the movie report... Still watching Lost which is great, but Netflix takes a while to get the discs out to us, so we're waiting for Disc 3. Rome was on again on Sunday, Yay!! Oh, and Mr. Crafty put some movie called Samurai Fiction on our queue. It wasn't very good. Next week should be a better review because hopefully we'll be seeing the latest Star Wars...