Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Flurry of FOs

Every morning heralds the approach of November with a grey, gloomy sky and a chill that keeps me huddled under the flannel sheets and extra quilt for as long as possible (not long with two small children clamoring for the day to start).

This is the weather to make things quickly.

Things like sheepy hats with high wool content and giant Baa-bles.

And wee baby mittens in delicious shades of autumn morning grey (though the pattern is called (delightfully) Bleak Midwinter).

And of course, little cowls that look like bandanas.  I used the same pattern and the same modifications as when I made this in red for Silas.

There have also been a couple of dishcloths.  With all this winter knitting I have made the executive decision to leap from the dishcloth bandwagon (unless Knit Picks puts out a pattern that I can't resist), so these may be the last couple this year.

Weeks Irrelevant

Pumpking Dishcloth by Teresa Gregorio
Knit Picks Cotlin DK, Clementine and Peapod

I'm a sucker for all things pumpkin. If it says pumpkin spice on it, you already have my money.

Campfire, by Marjorie Dussaud
Peaches & Creme, Rosemary

This was the first Dussaud dishcloth that I have enjoyed in a while. It was fast, fun, easy to memorize, and the drape is delicious.

I'd like to be the kind of person who makes my kids' Halloween costumes, but not yet.  I have always been the kind of person with really good luck at thrift stores, however.

Ezra is sporting a dragon coat and a sparkly jumpsuit found at the bargain shoppe.  Silas wore it for his two first Halloweens.

This year Silas is Thomas the Tank Engine, courtesy of Once Upon a Child.  This should fit him for many Halloweens if he's agreeable, because it's completely open-sided, which also means that he can wear it no matter the weather - even a bulky winter coat will fit under it without disrupting the effect of the costume.  This year wasn't too bad, he's just wearing his Thomas rain slicker (and his new rain boots, which he was one hundred times more excited about than the costume, and which he is still wearing).

Ryan reprised last year's cowboy costume.

Everything out of his own wardrobe, basically.  I'm a fan of men owning cowboy hats - it makes for very easy costumes for Pioneer Day when you're in school if you can just raid your dad's closet.

I should have gotten a picture of my entire outfit, but you'll get the gist.  I went for fall spirit/Mother Nature/wood Elf, etc.

Sparkly green dress courtesy of Goodwill, 2006.  Fall garland courtesy of Wal-Mart clearance sale, 2014.  I was going to wear this last year, but it turns out that dresses you could wear when you were 19 will not fit you when you are 9 months pregnant, no matter how forgiving you think that A-line is.

Here's a pic from 2013, the second time Silas wore the dragon costume, where you can see a bit more of the dress (generic princess that year):

Now just imagine it with 12 feet of fall foliage draped around it, and you'll get the idea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

YarnAlong: With Time Travel

Silas calls this book LlamaLlamaLlama!  We read it a lot.  It goes back to the library on Saturday, and I think it's going to end up under the Christmas tree this year.

I started another Cedar Shakes hat, this time for Ezra.  The Paton's Kroy is considerably thinner than the yarn that I used for Silas' hat, so even though I cast on for the same size (toddler), it's turning out rather smaller and with a slightly open fabric.  I'm debating whether or not to start over with smaller needles and working the child size instead.  The outcome might be the same.  Ezra at 10 months already has a head the circumference of the average child's, an issue we ran into with Silas as well.  There are some baby clothes that we literally cannot get over these babies' mammoth heads, and their little caps fit for about fifteen minutes.

Silas hat, made with a heavy fingering yarn that still had a substantial fabric on the 4's, still fits him two years later.

Assuming this kid IS actually the child in question.  Where did my little chubby-faced baby go?

Two years ago. Never mind where the cheeks went, where did the time go?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Loose ends

I've been in a finishing mood lately, though I would have thought I'd had enough of endings.  There's something to be said for closure, at any rate.

I finished the twined mittens I started back in February.  I need to take a better picture so I can upload it to the pattern page.  The technique was a lot of fun once I got the hang of it.

I made myself a hat:

It's the Star-Crossed Slouchy Beret that's so popular on Ravelry (13000+ projects - so viral I would have avoided it except I saw one in person and fell hard in love).  I had to make some mods to get it to fit my head, mostly just adding stitches and then adjusting for the increases and decreases so the cables still worked.  I love the colors in this yarn (Knit Picks Chroma in Hollyhock).  Purple and grey may be my new grey and pink.

I've also caught up on a few dishcloths.

Zig Zag dishcloth by Faith Schmidt

Simple Lines by Chelsea Berkompas

Orbital Dishcloth by Stacey Winklepleck

And my showstopper:

Petticoat Dishcloth, by Kendra Nitta

This dishcloth is just a little crazy.  You start at the outside edge and cast on 200+ stitches, knit a bit, and then on a separate needle cast on another ridiculous number of stitches and knit a bit and then join the two pieces together, cast on a third piece, knit, join, and finally knit down to the center.  Were I designing this I would have started from the center, worked out, and then picked up the stiches for the second and third ruffles so everything was worked in one piece, but perhaps that isn't as simple or neat as it sounds in my head.

The yarn is Cotlin DK.  I started this thing in April, all that ruffling in light yarn took this long to finally finish.  As long as it took, and as frustrating as it was to try and join so many stitches on a 16" cable without twisting, it was really a lot of fun to knit.  I can't even imagine using it as a dishcloth.  Right now it's sitting on my bathroom counter collecting bobby pins and hair-ties, kind of a fiber-happy take on the those catch-all bathroom trays that I've noticed we're selling in the Domestics dept. recently.

In other news, it's officially footie pajama weather.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yarn Along

I haven't been reading much for myself lately; when I reach for my Kindle it's usually to play Candy Crush. My attention span when grieving is basically nonexistent. I still read to Silas, though.

Silas will have outgrown the last sweater I made him by this Christmas, so I've started a Sherwood for him. In fact, I've started it about six times now. The irregular rib and the odd charts threw me for several loops, and then I managed to twist the cast-on when I joined. Oy vey. The yarn (Plymouth Yarns Encore) is a wool/acrylic blend similar to Wool-Ease. The book is Harry the Dirty Dog. I wasn't familiar with it before Silas got it for Christmas, but my sister-in-law implied it was a favorite in my husband's family.

This post is linked up with Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Warm hands . . .

When my mom called on Thursday to tell me that Dad had been moved to a smaller room on a more hospice-like floor of the Veteran's Home building, so that he could receive more frequent oxygen treatments, I felt the old familiar chill of worry creep into my chest, that terrible feeling of helplessness and foreboding.  When she said that his hands were cold, I thought, "This at least I can fix."

I spent the next couple hours exploring my yarn bins and Ravelry, trying to find the right combination of soft, warm yarn and quick pattern so that I could have a completed set of fingerless gloves when I visited him on Saturday.  I decided that I was going to knit him lots of fingerless gloves, nice ones, historical patterns that he'd appreciate not only for warmth but for their origins as World War II artifacts, but for now I'd stick with a fast, easy pattern in bulky yarn.  I had a tiny amount of blue yarn with alpaca that would be perfect trim; alpaca for extra warmth, blue for my dad's favorite color.

I worked on them for the rest of the night, eschewing laundry, dishes, cleaning, and forgetting to eat.  When I told my slightly exasperated husband why, he immediately understood.  Here was the one small thing I could do for my dad - keep his hands warm.

I went to bed late that night, and late the next, trying to finish them.  I had to rip out the end ribbing on both gloves and knit fewer rows, because I ran out of the blue yarn right before the cast off.  I finished the gloves but for the ribbing minutes before we were out the door for the long drive to Marshalltown.

I wove in a couple ends while we ate lunch with my brother, but there were still several left when we paid our tabs and headed for the Veteran's Home.  I was confident I could finish them up during the course of the visit, and Dad would be able to wear them before we left.

Nothing went as planned.

Afterwards, they told us that it must have been very quick.  He couldn't have suffered - he was almost certainly gone before he hit the ground.  His heart just gave out, unexpectedly, suddenly, and sometimes these things just happen.

It's cold, cold comfort to the children who found their dad lying on his bathroom floor, to the son who tried vainly to give CPR, to the daughter who ran screaming for the nurses whose station was only a few feet away from his room, then held tight to his icy hand and prayed for him to wake up.  Those prayers didn't seem to leave the room.

The chill that settled into my chest when the nurses asked us to step away was familiar, though not the same one from before.  This was a chill I had felt while lying in a dark radiology lab, watching the silent screen of the ultrasound and its flat white line.

I felt my heart turn to stone again.  My brother fell apart and I envied him the release of tears and oblivion, but I clung to the cold, hard feeling in my chest like a pillar, and it kept me standing.  I followed directions, I called my mom and told her what was going on with remarkable coherency, I calmly thanked the nurses when they brought us water and tissues.  I took care of my brothers, I made Phillip call his fiancee.

When the nurse told me, "I'm sorry, he's gone." I said, "Okay, okay," and thanked them again.  I told Phillip, I called Mom, and I was infuriatingly unable to allow myself to cry.  If I could have had a moment to myself, the tears would have come without effort, but instead I comforted my brothers, I made phone calls, and I wove in ends, and had to stop myself from laughing, because it was such a futile task, but I couldn't leave them unfinished now, and I had to have something to do with my hands.

They're finished, and I suppose nothing I could have done would have allowed them to be finished in time to actually warm my dad's hands, but I tucked them beside him when we said our last goodbyes, before they closed the lid and draped the flag over him.

My dad was buried with full military honors, because he was a veteran who loved his country, and he was buried with a pair of grey and blue fingerless gloves, because he had a daughter who was a knitter and loved her dad, and wanted him to be warm.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My dad died today.

I was knitting gloves for him, because my mom said his hands were cold.  I had them finished but for weaving in the ends, and I was all set to have him try them on and do the finishing while we visited him today.

Nothing went as planned.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Weekly (whatever) Dishcloth

In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I am still managing to output some washcloths.  "Weekly" may be a gross misnomer at this point, but they are still trickling in.  It's just that I'm very slow to do things like weaving in ends, taking pictures, blogging . . .

Week 24
Square Check by Marjorie Dussaud
Peaches & Creme, Hippi

This was what I'm beginning to think of as a very typical Marjorie Dussaud dishcloth - disproportionate garter stitch edging around a needlessly complicated stitch pattern.  They're nice enough, but the repeats are often too large; I hate having to keep referring to the pattern to find my place.  A chart would be incredibly helpful.  I left off one repeat because I got bored of it, and 3x3 seemed like a nice route to go.  I made several mistakes while I was at it.

Week 25
Pinwheel Dishcloth by Allison Griffith
Sugar'n Cream, Red, Hot Green; Peaches & Creme, Ecru, Bright Blue, Bright Pink

This dishcloth was a lot of fun to knit, I loved the swinging rhythm of the short-rows and the resulting drape of the garter stitch.  I hated weaving in the ends.  So many ends.  I'd like to try this one again in a variegated yarn to see the effect (with fewer ends).

Week 26
Angkor Wat by Allyson Dykhuizen
Knit Picks Cotlin, Canary, Surf

This is a typical Allyson Dykhuizen dishcloth pattern; dk weight yarn, applied-icord edging, difficult-to-pronounce name derived from architecture that has nothing to do with the stitch pattern but leads to interesting Wikipedia searches.  I ditched the icord edging after several aborted attempts and went with a (poorly executed) single crochet border instead.  It was so much faster, if not quite as pretty.  I think the icord would have worked better if I had slipped the edge stitches to make them easier to pick up, though it's the first time I've ever seen directions for an icord edge that first required you to pick up stitches all the way around the border instead of picking them up as you go.  The end result is on the small side; I'm thinking it's going to be a baby washcloth instead of a dishcloth after all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Not enough time in the day

Drive-by Yarn Along post . . .

Good news: finally got around to starting the Star-Crossed Slouchy Hat that I have been desiring to make for ages. (Yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Worsted, Hollyhock)

Bad news: Can't get dpns big enough to get proper gauge.

Good news: I can do math, cast on more stitches, go on my merry way.

Bad news: Didn't figure this all out until well into the hat, had to frog and start over.

Bad news: Stepped on reading kindle, totaled it.

Good news: Kindle Fire working again!

Bad news: Carrying tablet kindle around at work much more nerve-wracking than carrying the reading Kindle, as the former seems more likely to be stolen than the clunky old one.

Good news: Reading "Villette" by Charlotte Bronte

Bad news: Bit dry so far.

Good news: It's Charlotte Bronte, I have no doubt of things getting interesting.

Good news: Took a picture of knitting!

Bad news: Terrible picture.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Workhorse Washcloth

It was near midnight, the house was dark and muggy, and I was zoning out watching YouTube videos.  I tried knitting on an acrylic afghan block, but in the high humidity it felt like my fingers had a light coating of pancake syrup.  I needed something mindless, something breathable.  There was some dishcloth cotton yarn and straight needles at hand, so I picked them up with a notion of knitting a basic corner-to-corner Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth.  Somehow I cast on 46 stitches instead of 4.  It was late, and sometimes when you get going with a long-tail cast on you just forget yourself and keep cranking out loops until something draws your attention back to your hands, like remembering what it was you were trying to make.  I thought about it for a minute, then dropped a stitch back off for a more easily divisible 45 stitches and took off with a vague shape of pattern in mind.

This is as simple as it gets.  Knit a few stitches, purl a few stitches, lather, rinse, repeat, stop when it's big enough (or in my case, when your remnant of a skein runs out).

Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream, yellow, 54 yds
Needles: US 9
Gauge: 4.5 sts/in

CO 45 sts

Row 1: (K5, P5) 4x, K5
Row 2: (P5, K5) 4x, P5
Repeat these two rows once.  This creates the first row of blocks.  The next rows will reverse the directions, to alternate the purl and knit blocks from the first row.

Row 5: (P5, K5) 4x, P5
Row 6: (K5, P5) 4x, K5
Repeat once.

Start again from the beginning, and repeat this sequence of 8 rows 5 times or until washcloth reaches desired size.  BO all stitches and weave in ends.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekly Dishcloth, loosely defined

I know I've been afk for a good several weeks; I developed a thrush infection that has made nursing a nightmare, and when the thing you're doing every two or three hours around the clock is excruciatingly painful, it kind of takes over your life.  I seem to have it mostly licked now, though, so I'm getting back to some kind of normal.

I counted, and I'm actually on schedule dishcloth-wise, thanks to the extras that I made for swaps and holidays and whatnot, despite my month-long hiatus.  I'm hoping to crank out a couple more this week ('cause I'm nothing if not full of delusions of productivity).

Week 18-21 (Knit Picks Week 19)

Fishbones, by Marjorie Dussaud
Lily Sugar'n Cream, Daisy Ombre

I love this happy yellow and white colorway.  The dishcloth pattern is easy to memorize and mindless without being too boring.  It made for great knitting in the car.  I don't know how practical the floats will be with use and washing, but I'll let you know.

Week 22

Gingham Dishcloth
Peaches & Creme, Forest Green, Rosemary, Ecru

More tapestry crochet, oy vey, the single crochet . . . I do like how the gingham is translated.  I fell in love with gingham in my tweens, because instead of the Spice Girls and Britney Spears, my idols were Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables.  I lived a sheltered life, what can I say?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Weekly Dishcloth: Stripey FOs

Week 17

Sherbet Stripes, by Gillian Grimm
Peaches & Creme, Bright Orange; Sugar'n Cream, Red

This was a gloriously fast, simple knit, utterly mindless in the best way. The only thing is, it's tiny. It's only supposed to be 6" x 6" on size 5 needles, and I barely got that on size 8. Incidentally, you work it up on two dpns to facilitate the slip stitch pattern; a short circular would work, too (so would a long one, for that matter, but you would have a longer distance to slide it).

I also finished my pence jug.

It's another quick knit, and a delightful bit of Victorian fiddle fiddle. It makes me wish I had a larger collection of British coins.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for...


I don't believe in astrology. I blame it on being a Leo.

However, my favorite manga draws its central conceit from the Chinese zodiac. (We're in the year of the Sheep, by the way, may the fleece be with you)

Fruits Basket.

The story of how an exceptionally ordinary girl helps the most dysfunctional family in the world stop turning into animals. It's about love, forgiveness, acceptance, and onigiri.

Patterns I love that start with Z:

Zeb the Zebra
Zip Off Color Block Yoke Sweater
Zelda Cloche

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for...

Yarn Along.

It's a rare thing for me to actually get a Yarn Along entry out on the actual Yarn Along day, but I have Wednesday off for a change, and it feels like kismet that it's Y day as well. It may also be cheating.

Ginny of the blog "Small Things" hosts a Yarn Along every Wednesday for like-minded bloggers to show off what they're making and what they're reading. It's a great way to find new blogs, pattern and yarn inspiration, and things to add to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.

Pence Jug, as interpreted by Franklin Habit from a vintage pattern by Frances Lambert, in Lana Cervina, Plum Jacquard Forever.

I've been voraciously reading No Idle Hands: the Social History of American Knitting. It's a bit like a Ken Burns documentary, heavily relying on letters, diaries, and anecdotes. I've already found a dozen ideas for a YA historical fiction novel, though I bought the ebook originally to see if it had any useful notes on Victorian era and pioneer knitting for my new blog, Ma's Needles, in which I will be knitting and crafting my way through the Little House books. Because I have so much free time.

Patterns I love that start with Y:

Yub Nub Scoodie - celebrate your inner ewok (free!)
Yarn Basket ornament  (free!)
Yggdrasil Afghan (free!)

X is for...


Do you know anyone who gets worked up about the abbreviation Xmas? Their fears are unfounded. Its use isn't an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas, it's more like when my mom writes bday on the calendar. In Greek, Jehovah starts with an I, and Christ starts with an X.


Personally, I'm not even a fan of bday, but sometimes needs must.

Xmas-y patterns I love:

Bitty Beady Christmas Tree
Holiday Mice (free!)
Good Grief! - an iconic little tree
Julevotter Adventscalendar - advent calendar of tiny numbered mittens (free!)
The Nativity Collection - no one does knit amigurumi like Alan Dart
Stjärna - star-shaped ornament with nifty construction (free!)
Praying Angel Ornaments - crochet (free!)

My Christmas board on Pinterest has a few yarn-unrelated ideas as well

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

W is for . . .

Weekly Dishcloth.

Well, really, what were you expecting?

Week 16 (or something like that)

King Charles, by Marjorie Dussaud
Lily Sugarn' Cream, Red

I feel like this pattern could have benefited from a chart.  It's a 12-row repeat, and I didn't find it at all intuitive.  There was a lot of ripping back as I lost my place in the written directions.

Those keeping track will note that this is technically last week's dishcloth, as I missed one two weeks ago.  I'm absurdly optimistic about getting another dishcloth out this week, despite being unable to decide on a color scheme.

Patterns I love that start with W:

Watermelon Purse (free!)
Welcome to the Flock - baby sweater with wee sheep around the yoke
Weeping Angel Statue - before I knew what a Weeping Angel was I thought this would be a nice memorial ornament for Gabriel.  I still might go that route  (pattern is free!)
Westering Home - beautiful cabled jacket
Winter Twilight Mitts (free when you sign up for the Knitting Daily newsletter)
Well-Dressed Bunny
Wingspan - insanely popular shawlette

Monday, April 27, 2015

V is for...

Vehicular knitting.

Don't knit and drive
More and more I'm appreciating the value of keeping a knitting project in my car. Just in the last week I've gotten a lot done while waiting for the line to move in a drive-through, waiting for the pilot car at a stretch of road construction, and while waiting for my husband to bring me a jug of coolant when my car overheated just outside of town. I wished my friend had some knitting in her car while we were stuck in the parking lot for an hour at work waiting for the all-clear from the fire department, but she isn't a knitter (yet). If our purses weren't locked in the building with the gas leak, we might have gone to the lys and I could have remedied that pretty quickly, but then, if I would have had my purse I would have had some knitting.

Of course, if I'm not the driver, I can get prodigious amounts of knitting done in the car, so I almost always bring two projects if my husband is driving, just in case I finish the first one, as I did this weekend when we were driving all over creation to celebrate two birthdays on opposite sides of the family. Of course, I forgot to bring scissors or a darning needle, so I still haven't officially finished the first project, but the knitting at least is done, so it will be my W post today or tomorrow.

Patterns I love that start with V:

Vauvan Sukka - textured baby socks (free!)
Verde - reusable shopping bag (free!)
Viburnum - lacy moebius cowl (free!)
Viceroy Butterfly Shawl - crochet
Victorian Lace Scarf
Vintage Hankie Washcloth - knit washcloth with lacy crocheted edging (free!)
Violet Beauregard - crochet skirt
Vivian - stunning cabled jacket with hood

Saturday, April 25, 2015

U is for...

Undeniably ubiquitous UFOs.

Knitting UFOs.

I have knitting ADD, unable to resist the siren call of something new before I finish what I'm already working on. I may go back and forth between the new and the old for a while, but eventually the old project is relegated to the UnFinished Object bin. I return to these neglected projects in time, but they are becoming legion.

Here are a few:

This will be a Marigold slouch hat when it grows up, but it just couldn't compete with twined mittens and dishcloths.

My Faberge kerchief got off to a roaring start, but stalled when I joined a few swaps last summer.

This was going to be my new purse two years ago. I suppose technically whenever I get around to finishing it I will have a new purse...

And I don't even know why I ever start blankets

Friday, April 24, 2015

T is for..

Time Warp.

Wherein I blog about something I missed the first time around, or finished before the blog existed. Such entries are usually made on Tuesday, but whatever, I need to catch up.

I always have such grand plans to make stuff for my dolls, but it's frustratingly rare that I ever do. I was stuck home sick one day, though, and the AG group on Ravelry was having a contest, so I whipped out my crochet hook and actually made something!

The pattern is called Off to Bath, and it's to match a girl-sized capelet of the same name. Both are from "Austentatious Crochet".

The shells are made up of elongated double crochet stitches that are a bit of a nuisance, but it's just three rows and then the collar and ties and you're done. I used Red Heart Soft, which is a decent acrylic, more substantial than Caron Simply Soft.

There isn't much to the piece, but I like how it goes with the red velvet dress.

Patterns I love that start with T:

TARDIS Tissue Box Cover (free!)
Tea Time Colonial Dress for American Girl - speaking of doll clothes...
The Teddy Bear that Saved Me - the designer knit these to sell while he was homeless
Theodóra - Icelandic doll knit from Icelandic yarn
Through the Woods... - cabled neckwarmer with hood
Travelling Gnome (free!)
Tudor Rose - ruffled, beaded cuffs
Twinkle Twinkle Baby Blanket