Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Challenge and An Acquisition

Today I presented by knitting class with a challenge. I've been having issues with some kids not staying on task and getting side tracked from what's really important in life...knitting. I challenged them to finish one of 4 simple projects: a simple hat, a harder hat, a washcloth, or a scarf. I figured these were all things a very beginning knitter should be able to do. The harder hat was the real challenger with decreases and ribbing. I told them if they finished the project by the end of the nine weeks (in 5 weeks) then I would bring them doughnuts, muffins, and juice for a breakfast party.

Seriously dude, it worked magic that can only be worked with middle schoolers.

Suddenly even the least motivated (and constantly complaining) member of the group was rushing to cast on. Suddenly there were 100 questions. Is this enough to start a hat? Can I use what I've already done? Can I make a baby hat? Why does mine look like this? It was great. And the best part was, I jumped in and challenged myself.

I told the kids I was going to make not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 5 baby hats. One hat a week. Not a hard task, unless you are 12 and just learned how to cast on. I think the fact that I was pushing myself showed them they could be pushed too. I was very excited.

Also, I'm acquiring a stash of sorts from an outside benefactor. The primary use of the stash (and needles and other tools that come with it) are for the knitting class. My question is, how do you view "stash passing?" I think it's very intimate, one knitter to another. This stash is coming from another teacher's mother. She never learned herself and her mom apparently has stuff just sitting around out of use. My stash will probably have to be written into my will but I can see how if my children (heaven forbid) never take up knitting I would want it to go to good use with another knitter. Or maybe I'd make them keep it for a possible knitting grandchild. Either way, I'm eternally grateful to this woman for letting me have her knitterly things.

Sorry there aren't any pictures for the blog today. I did start a baby hat last night but I never got around to taking pictures. Tomorrow though, there will be...me thinks...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Down

One yellow sock finished. One more to go. I think I did pretty good for my first (correctly gauged) hand made sock
My Kitchener stitch on the toe needs a little work. Right now the corners are a bit pointy.
Still, so awesome.
And look at the heel! The gussets, the short rows, the heel flap! And no hives on my part. Just, beauty. I owe this all to the Yarn Harlot and her simple socks recipe from Knitting Rules! Every instruction she gives is spot on. One thing I'm totally blown away about is how big homemade socks are. But so much nicer and warmer than normal store bought. Just hope I don't get second sock syndrome so I can have a cute pair.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yarn is a Souvenir

When go to a beautiful place...
Tybee Island

Visiting beautiful and historic places...

Fort Pulaski

Staying in a beautiful place...

The Steven Williams House, Savannah, GA

Drinking, um..., beautiful beverages (?)...

Kevin Berry's Irish Pub

You might pick up some very beautiful yarn as a souvenir.

Lumpy Bumpy Yarn in Grapes on a Vine for a bumpy and wooly hat (purchased from Wild Fibre).
2 skeins of Artyarns Ultramerino color number 154 (also from Wild Fibre).
And a baby-sized bunny hat kit from The Lamb's Wool from Twiggs.
All in all this has been a good trip. I got to see some old friends, got to learn some neat stuff about what I do everyday (the teaching bit), saw some wonderful sites, and of course, will be taking home some lovely new yarn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Road Blogging

I'm on my way to Savannah. kids. And yes, I'm blogging from the car. And no, I'm not driving. My package from WEBS came the other day so I have some yarn porn for you.

First, the new stash:
Cat trying to eat tag on yarn porn.
Classic Elite yarn in Beatrice. Some yummy color (sorry all the ball bands are at home).
Jaeger Roma for a baby sweater.
Rowan All Seasons Cotton.
1 pound of Texas Cotton in lilac for a tank top.
Gedifra Fashion Trend striping yarn.
Rowan Spray for a hat. Maybe one with earflaps.
Cat eating bag that some of the yarn came in (yes I stopped her, just not before I got a pic).
And I found out this morning as I was packing that the wonderful knitting tote doubles as a very comfy laptop bag. I could go on vacation for months now.

Monday, January 21, 2008


This blog post is not for the faint of heart. Please proceed with caution. If at any time during your reading, you feel dizzy or nauseous, please stop reading, put your head between your knees, and take a few deep calming breaths while chanting, "At least this didn't happen to me..." You have been warned.

The wonky sweater bottom got to me kids. I knew I couldn't let it go. I'm neurotic like that. I began searching the intraweb for some ways to fix a problem like this. And really, there aren't any. I began experimenting with a few ideas on some old gauge swatches (see they do come in handy). I unraveled from the bottom up. Time consuming but do able. I knit from the middle down. Thankfully this works because the sweater is all stockinette stitch. I cut. I sewed. I read more. The best advice seemed to be to cut off the offending part, re-knit, and then graft together. But since I can knit from the top down or the bottom up and get the same effect either way I didn't want to do any grafting. I'm anti-grafting. The following surgery was devised after a glass of champagne and a lot of positive self talk.

How to Fix a Wonky Bottom Half of Sweater:

Insert a lifeline where you want to rip out to. In my case it was the first correctly executed row of purl stitches.
Get out your Crayola scissors (I assume that other scissors will work, of course). Snip a stitch from a row below your lifeline. I cut this one several rows below but I went back and snipped directly below my lifeline and it worked fine. I just didn't want any more major problems. Better to error to the side of caution and all that.
Begin ripping out.
This took awhile because I had to find both ends of the yarn. The first row had to be carefully unpicked.
Allow your crazed cat to come and stand in the middle of your delicate operation.
Allow her to then lie on your arm so that you have to hunch over a half ripped sweater and continue to pull out your yarn.
Separate the good from the ugly (note that crazed cat hasn't moved yet and that you could also stand to get a better pair of socks).
Rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip...
Store ripped yarn neatly in a jug designed for holding yarn (this is optional, you could re-wind it).
Make sure you have ripped back to the lifeline. This may require more snipping and ripping. Insert a needle into the row with the lifeline. Pull out the lifeline. Knit on dudes.
It absolutely looks like nothing is wrong. Now I can re-knit the 9.5 inches until the bottom where I will add 2 inches of ribbing and then bind off. I slept much better last night knowing my sweater wasn't going to look like arse.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Of Snow and Pink Sweaters

Yesterday it snowed again. An odd occurrence here in Georgia.
Penelope found the warmest, most comfortable spot in the house and stayed there all day.
The Boyfriend and I braved the "fray" to go get some lunch. Hey, nice hat! :)
Lots of snow...
My neighbors and their kids had fun in the wintry weather. They really put a lot of thought into these snow people.
It was a good night for staying in since the temperature dropped to the teens. I watched Brit-coms on Public Television...
and worked on the pink sweater. This is where it gets kind of technical so if you just want to scroll down and look at the pictures feel free.
When I started knitting I taught myself everything. I think I did pretty dang good for someone who never asked another person what they were doing (What can I say? I'm stubborn and like to figure stuff out for myself.). Well, I taught myself to purl, for lack of a better word, wrong. On things where there is little stitch definition this doesn't really matter. However, with a large piece like a sweater with good stitch definition, it makes a difference. You can see in the following picture that the top half is done with purls executed correctly and the bottom with an "interpretation" of the purl stitch.
What I did was basically half a purl. This is how a purl should look:
Yarn wrapped all the way around from right to left between the needles. This is what I was doing:
Wrapping the yarn from front to back. That resulted in every other row (or every purled row) being "twisted" or half done. I debated with myself on what to do. Do I continue to purl incorrectly on the back of the sweater and fix it on the front? Do I fix it now on the back and make a visible change? Do I do the whole sweater with a wrong purl?
I believe that what we practice becomes habit (as I demonstrated). I don't like doing things incorrectly. I also don't want to rip back an entire sweater back that I started over a year ago. And this is a charity piece. I probably am going to send it overseas to a gypsy in Romania. And if you are gypsy in Romania sleeping on a park bench every night are you going to scrutinize the back of a sweater? Exactly. This is just practice. At this moment I'm very happy there are no "Knitting Police." I will never take this to a serious whack of knitters and show it off proudly (at least not the back). But if I did I would like to think they'd laugh it off as a beginners mistake. Here's the sweater back thus far:
A line...oops. Boy my hands are dry and gross looking...sorry. I still feel really good about the sweater. Good that I even started it when I knew little more than how to knit and how to purl (albeit incorrectly at first). Good that I have stuck with it. Good that I'm almost finished with it. Good that I know better now and good that the front will look better. Good that I shared a secret that maybe other first time knitters have experienced.
I'll admit that telling the knitting world that I had been purling wrong was a little tough. So, to make myself feel better I took a picture of Penelope basking the early morning light. She didn't laugh about me and my purl deficiency.

P.S. The actual temperature right now is 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius) and the windchill is 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius). Brrrr!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sour Puss

Yesterday I was seriously in a bad mood. I tried to think of the reasons why I was in a such a bad mood and I came up with the following:

1. I teach a knitting class in the mornings. There are 20 kids in there (including 5 guys!). 19 of them enjoy knitting and being in the company of knitters. 1 does not like any of these things. She complains everyday that she can't understand why anyone would find knitting fun or relaxing. She can't believe anyone would even think of inventing knitting. Thankfully everyone else just looks at her like she's nuts. Because, well, she is.

2. They painted my classroom and office last night. That meant that all during my teaching time I had to have kids pull things off the wall and move furniture. Words cannot describe the level of destruction my room was in.

3. While getting the room ready to paint I developed a massive headache.

4. This is the yellow sock:
I've seen denial and it's not just a river in Egypt. The more I looked at the sock the more I realized it was going to be way too big. So I started these:
Much better fit (always check gauge). However, there was a problem with the colors. Do you see how the pink is pooling. It kept doing that. I tried to knit looser for a few rows. Pooled in a different place. One side: nice stripes, other side: pools of pink. This new sock has gone the route of the yellow sock. Totally frogged.

5. Webs still hadn't sent my yarn from 2 weeks ago. I know they're probably very busy but I at least wanted to know what was going on. Side note: I got an email today that says they have sent my package. It should be here on the 21st. Just in time for my conference in Savannah. W00T!

6. I have been following a walking program to a T for the past 2 weeks. I don't diet well and had gained 5 pounds since Christmas so an exercise program would seem like it would work best for me. However, I haven't lost any weight. At all. Actually, I lost 2 pounds over the weekend but, don't fear, I found them again.

There was something good that happened yesterday though. Can you see it?
How about if I stick out my black sweatpants clad leg to show you.
Those are snowflakes on my leg there (sorry for the fuzziness). It snowed last night. Still had to go to work today because our county never closes for anything. I remember only 3 days that school was closed. Once when hurricane Opal hit the coast and there was tornadic activity throughout the entire state all day and then for 2 days last year when gas prices went through the roof and the government thought there would be a gas shortage. The four horsemen of the apocalypse could be riding through town and no one would blink an eye. Raise the gas prices a dime and watch the pandemonium begin.

I enjoyed the snow and it was nice to see it this morning on the ground. The room is back to normal(ish) and my office looks kickin'. Much better than before. Now if I could just get the kids out of here....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Falling Down on the Job (or maybe on the feet...)

There is a reason why I should blog everyday.

1. I get bored knitting the same old scarves everyday.

2. I start new projects on a whim.

3. In one day my new project goes from this:
To this:
Kids I'm going to have some knee high sunshine yellow socks. Doesn't that rock your face off? I'm excited that they're actually looking like socks and not like a tube top. They are going to be so long though but it's ok because I like funky, stand out socks.

And, again, I leave you with Penelope.
Can you tell I love my cat? She is the best knitting partner. She likes to hang out on my lap and watch Project Runway re-runs with me. Plus she provides picture fodder for me. Love her!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Knitting

Since I finished the hat and the zig zag scarf I needed something else to work on. I have the sweater but that seems daunting and time consuming and...yeah...it will get done...eventually.

I had the Bernat Softee Baby yarn and the Persian multi colored blue yarn that I was trying to do the Tiger's Eye Lace in but it wasn't working out too well. I then had the brilliant idea to do a spiral scarf using the yarn. So I found this pattern that I thought I would try. I cast on 110 stitches and then looked at the next line. Knit, yarn over... knit, yarn over. At this point I should mention that my needles were already packed to the gills with stitches. And the yarn overs were really tight and unforgiving. Then I looked down to see how many total stitches I would use. Do you see that? 873. What the crap was I thinking? There was no way all those would fit on my needles. Why, oh why do I never think of things like this? Why do I always think I'll be the one person who can pull something like this off? Needless to say I pulled the whole thing apart. Then I began searching for another pattern. I knew there had to be a better way. Then I found this. Unravelled to the rescue! Because I "don't own several very long circs and the endurance of a marathoner." This is perfect. And I can practice short rows for those socks I'll be starting any day now...

This is what I have so far of my spiral scarf:

Sorry the pictures are kind of blurry. The thing is pretty fuzzy but you kind of get the idea.

I also started a new zig zag scarf. I had the thought that maybe since the color scheme of the yarn zigged and zagged maybe it would look cool in a zig zag pattern.

Camera 1
Camera 2.

Pretty good so far. And it knits up pretty easily. Though I do have to keep track of what row I'm on. Not so much mindless knitting going on these days but I suppose that's how I keep my mind sharp and my IQ near genius level.

And finally, I leave you with a picture purely for the the cuteness factor and my own general amusement.

A rather sleepy Penelope laying next to me on the couch. Awww....