Sunday, March 31, 2013

Can You Be-Leaf It?!?

Yesterday was a landmark day in the Knit Whimsy household.  Why, you ask?  We finally raked the leaves in the back yard.  That's right, I finally got motivated! 

Ignore the leaves around the bags.  No, seriously, ignore them...

Fifteen bags (yes, that's 15) later and I am too sore to move.  The Husband and I did get it done in one day, which normally never happens.  Good thing we hit it up early.  Now maybe my dogs won't be bringing quite as much of the outside, inside.  Plus, my daughter dusted and swept for me yesterday and so life is decidedly good. 

On top of all this, I received some yarn in the mail that I had ordered from a company called Tanis Fiber Arts.  A week ago I ordered a couple of skeins of their 100% superwash merino lace – Pink Label Lace Weight in Sweetheart and Charcoal.  I wanted to try a lace project in something that is not as fuzzy/hairy as the Cascade Alpaca Lace I'm currently using.  Here’s what I got:

TFA is a Canadian company and this is my second order with them.  I am very happy with the time it takes from ordering to receiving my yarn – honestly they are faster than some American companies I’ve ordered from – and I love their colorways.  I have some beautiful fingering weight yarn I ordered a while ago for a specific project, but then decided I wanted to use another yarn from my LYS, so I have this skein of Blue Label Fingering Weight in Pink Grapefruit just waiting on inspiration for a new project.

What shall I become?

Now to what I've managed to accomplish in the last few days...

I have been working away at my second cast on of Spider Silk.  Everything was going beautifully until two nights ago.  I somehow managed to mis-count again and was trying to tink back when I dropped a stitch (again).  Fortunately, I had begun using a lifeline after my last lace tragedy.  Unfortunately, when I looked down at my lifeline, I realized one end of it had worked it's way out of around 2 inches of the shawl.  Seriously?!?  I was ready to cry.  Or scream.  Or both.  At this point, I had around 40% of the shawl done.  I resisted the urge to rip it all out and throw it in the back yard and I held my breath as I strained to see where to re-run the lifeline.  The stitch is garter stitch and it's in fuzzy alpaca, so it was not so easy to see the right path.  Once I got it back in, I held my breath and ripped back then picked up the stitches that were left, counted the stitches, and can you believe it - I had exactly the number of stitches I was supposed to have for that row AND they were not a twisted mess! 


As therapy in between my struggles with lace, I cast on a pair of Athos socks.  I'm using Kaleidoscope by Blue Ridge Yarn, in the color Air Force.  As you can see, I haven't gotten very far but I'm looking forward to completing my first pair of hand knit socks!

Happy Easter everyone!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Storage Woes

I have a storage problem.  You’ve heard of “Storage Wars” on A&E TV, yes?  Well, I’m having a storage war of my own that looks nothing like the TV show and I am decidedly losing.

It’s the buttons, you see.  They seem to be appearing everywhere.

On top of my desk:

In my completely chaotic desk drawer:

A few in my “notions bag” which is really a converted makeup bag that I wasn’t using when I took up knitting:

There are also random bits of waste yarn sitting around:

And how about those yarn labels?  The little blue index card box in the picture is full of them.

Yes, that IS a giant plastic toothbrush you see.
No, my mouth isn't that big.  It was a gift.

For the record, I hate little bits of paper with notes on them.  I have all of my yarn for projects and my stash yarn updated on Ravelry.  So why, I ask you, do I feel the need to keep these labels?? 

Remember the “Unruly Pile O’Stuff” on my dining room table?  I cleaned it off several weeks ago, but I still manage to have two FOs and a pile of yarn from my recently frogged cardi.  And let’s not even go near the mess my closet is in with my yarn stash.

If you Google “yarn storage” you’ll see all sorts of nifty ways people store their stash: 

Re-purposed coffee cans or a wine rack;

You can find the source of these pics here.

This is interesting:  

Also very nice:

A knitting and sewing blogger friend of mine, Michelle over at tres bien ensemble, shared a very clever way she found to store her fabric stash.  You can see it here.  

All of these ideas are great, but I’m afraid my problem runs a bit deeper than just needing creative ways to store my stuffs.  I simply don’t have the room for any of these.  My house was already packed full with the various necessities of life before I added my knitting things.  What to do?  What to do?

I think the answer is obvious.  I need a bigger house.  Or at least an additional wing room that would be...

"Mine!  Mine!  All mine!!"

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Monday, March 25, 2013

No Grace with Lace

“Insanity runs in my family, practically gallops!” – Mortimer Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace

Tigger and his shadow,
both in dire need of grooming
It’s a beautiful sunny day here on the Gulf Coast, although a bit chilly.  I won’t complain though, since I know my family up in Ohio and Indiana got at least 3 inches of snow overnight.  I’ll take the chill, thanks.  My dogs love when it’s sunny out and one in particular spent the morning appreciating the sunshine – by attacking his own shadow.  Not kidding.  The dog is weird.

I really don’t know why he’s so fascinated with light but he has been ever since we got him as a puppy.  Whenever he is chasing shadows or a shimmer of light, you could bring a dozen pit bulls into the yard and he’d barely notice.  

He becomes completely single minded, which is what I should have been while working on my lace project with my pink Alpaca Lace

Unfortunately, I was not paying as much attention as I should have been on row 54.  That’s right.  Not row 6 or row 12 or even row 22 – bloody row 54.  There was nothing spectacular or difficult about row 54.  I simply had to count 26 knit stitches in a row.  Apparently, this was too much for me, because I managed to knit 27 stitches, then did some lace pattern work and ended up a stitch short in the sequence.  I’m not really sure how I managed what happened next, but as I was tinking back to fix it, I dropped a stitch. Not a simple knit stitch either.  I dropped something while trying to un-knit a s2kp with lace weight fuzzy alpaca.  Suddenly I had a hole where there shouldn’t be one.  Not a pretty lace hole but rather an, “oh crap, it looks like I cut the thing” hole.  I didn’t recognize any of the stitches below the hole to even try and pick it back up.  Great lamentation ensued, and then…

I ripped it all out.  Sigh…

Whoever said 6th time’s a charm??  Uh, wait…nobody.

Believe it or not, I am more determined than ever that I shall NOT be defeated by lace.  This is either an incredibly brave and admirable thing to do, or an incredibly masochistic, insane, and sick thing to do, but either way, by golly, I refuse to give up.  Yes, I’m just that stubborn.

Yesterday evening, I cast on the same pattern, Spider Silk by Holly Chayes, which is actually a very easy pattern if you’re actually attentive enough not to make idiot mistakes.  This time I used my black Alpaca Lace, just to make things interesting, and also because I’m totally hacked at the pink lace at the moment for chipping away at my sanity – I’m sure it was intentional and personal.  I’ll show that pink lace…

Back in Black

I’m back up to row 35.  I am paying attention.  I am in need of therapy…or arsenic.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Ode to Gloria Gaynor

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”

Yes, I grew up during the disco era and Gloria Gaynor and I sang I Will Survive loudly and proudly in those days.  When we were teenagers, my best girlfriend (known her since I was 4 years old) and I used to sing together at local festivals and other silly little events in our small-town area of Ohio and believe it or not, we actually performed this song.  It was the unplugged version:  two voices and a mediocre guitarist (me) trying to be hip and sing disco.  We were stylin’, baby…or so we thought.  Reflecting back now, it just seems really nerdy.  Not much has changed, at least for me.

Why the ode to Gloria?  Because I did indeed survive the dreaded root canal yesterday morning (woot) and her classic song kept floating through my post-stress mind yesterday afternoon as I waited for the right side of my face to feel normal again.  Let me just say for the record, my dentist rocks.  I made my appointment first thing in the morning so I wouldn’t have all day to talk myself out of the procedure, and I was home a little after 10 a.m. sporting a temporary crown that I must say looks better than the old permanent crown he had to replace.  I nearly did talk myself out of the whole thing on Wednesday, but the only thing I dread more than having to do something I really don’t want to do is prolonging the inevitable and having to do it down the road when I could have had it over and done with.  As long as I can remember, if there is something unpleasant to be done on my list, I’ll do the unpleasant thing first to get it out of the way.  The exception to this habit is cleaning my floors.  I will prolong that agony until someone else in the house can’t stand it any more and cleans them for me, or until I have more leaves on the inside of my house than in the backyard.  At this very moment, I’m working on quite an indoor leaf display.  Forget it, you can’t shame me or guilt me.  I hate cleaning floors that much…

Owlie Sleep Sack in Malabrigo Worsted
On the knitting front, I managed to fit some in yesterday after I slept off most of the Novocaine.  I worked a little on another baby sleep sack that a different friend has been wanting and although I didn’t commit to doing any embellishment on the thing because of my aversion to cabling, I couldn’t stand the thought of Baby C not having something cute on her sleep sack so I did the cabled owls anyway.  I’m also going to attempt to do an open bottom on this one instead of making it tapered and closed so that diapers can be changed without removing the entire thing.  

Now I’m just down to the rounds and rounds of stockinette to make it long enough which is a nice mindless distraction to turn to here and there because I also began another attempt at a lace weight project (sixth time’s a charm, right?).  I decided to use a different pattern, this time a simple one by Holly Chayes whose shawl designs I just love.  The pattern is Spider Silk and was going to try it in black but the pink lace weight yarn kept beckoning me, so I’m using that instead.  Yes, I know spiders don’t weave pink webs but they don’t weave black ones either, so there…  So far so good:

Cross your fingers...

On Wednesday night I finished and blocked my Glam Shells Shawl in Shibui Sock and I absolutely love it.  It didn’t expand as much as I was expecting, but it is large enough for me and I really enjoyed the pattern. 

I’ve decided I’m in love with fingering weight yarn.  It is SO much easier to work with than lace weight, but you can still do some beautiful lace patterns with it, plus unlike everything I’ve knit in DK and worsted weight yarn, this stuff dries from wet blocking in no time.

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What are you working on?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thwacking Is NOT A Dirty Word

Last week was quite the week.  On Tuesday, my dentist confirmed what I already feared:  I have an abscessed tooth.  How thrilling.  This of course means that I need a root canal and since the tooth in question already has a crown on it, I also need to replace said crown.  Crowns are not free.  In fact, they are quite pricey.  My wallet tells me just to have the affected tooth pulled.  My vanity tells me to pony up the dough.  Vanity wins, in spite of my irrational fear of root canals (never had one before).  My appointment is Thursday.  Today is Monday.  I need drugs already…

The week didn’t get much better.  After my diagnosis, my dentist put me on antibiotics to clear up the infection.  They’ve done a marvelous job but have made me consistently nauseous.  Then on Thursday morning, I managed to come down with a mild case of food poisoning that didn’t feel so mild at the time.  I spent Friday with the now familiar nausea and an all-day headache which made the nausea worse.  Yep, it was a banner week.  The good news is, I am perfectly able to knit while dealing with an abscessed tooth as well as nausea and a headache.

Thankfully, I felt better Saturday because I had a baby shower to attend for the sweetest young woman on the planet who is expecting twins on her first go around.  She’s having a boy and a girl and so I knit these:

The hats aren't as weird as they look

I used the Owlie Sleep Sack and Owlie Hat patterns by TeresaCole and used Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Cinnabar and Jewel Blue.  The hats look slightly weird in this picture (you can see my picture taking ability has not improved any as of yet) but these actually came out well and my friend liked them very much.  These reminded me how little I like doing cables, but the results always make me glad that I pushed through with them. 

On another subject…

Have you ever made something for someone and then looked at it and thought, “This doesn’t look like them at all”?  That’s what happened with the lacy project I made for a friend.  If you recall, I had attempted to do something with lace weight yarn five times using four different patterns when I decided to make a lacy item using a heavier weight yarn that did not threaten my sanity.  I accomplished that but now the project looks like something perfect for a different friend and not the originally intended friend.  I’m not posting a picture of it yet in case I change my mind yet again, but I’ve decided to have one more go at a lace weight project for the gift I need in April.  Stay tuned for the outcome, whether good, bad, or ugly…  :-/

In the meantime, I’ve made a bit more progress on my GlamShells Shawl by Marisa Hernandez.  I did have to insert a lifeline after unsuccessfully trying to tink back a row to fix an error and thankfully, the lifeline was true to its name.  I think I’m going to really like this shawl.

Shibui Sock in colorway Dragonfly

Speaking of really liking something, a couple of months ago an independent dyer out of Texas posted a picture on Twitter of some merino sock yarn she’d dyed that made me drool.  Her name is Laura Jinks Jimenez and I finally talked myself into ordering three skeins of this:

I'm in love with these colors.  Seriously...

I have to say, it did not disappoint when I received it!  This yarn is soft and springy and the colorway, Rinoa, is absolutely gorgeous.  I have no idea what I’ll make out of it yet, so if you have any ideas, leave me a comment.  It is fingering weight and I have 1200 yards to work with.  For now, I’m content to just stare at it…

I have just one more thing to fill you in on today.  The first sweater I ever made was a KAL the ladies at my yarn shop were doing – a Terra Linda Cardigan by Romi Hill.  It came out fine, but I found that it just sat in my drawer.  The neckline was a little too large for my scrawny chicken neck plus I found myself annoyed at the ¾ length sleeves (I didn’t think about my aversion to ¾ length sleeves beforehand).  But the yarn I used is totally yummy – Malabrigo Rios in Aguas – so I didn’t want to just tuck it away somewhere and I couldn’t bear to give this particular yarn away.  After asking the ladies at my LYS about options, I got up the courage to frog the entire project and thwacked the yarn so I could reuse it (Don’t know what thwacking is?  I found instructions here).

What was once this:

Not lovin' it...

Now looks like this:

There's more, but the rest is still drying.

It looks just as good as the day I bought it and so now I’m hoping it will eventually turn into the Agua Rios Vest by Kristin Omdahl which I will indeed wear.  I can feel myself about to go on a vest kick.  The thought of no sleeves makes me happier than a pig in…um, happy as a clam.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

"You're finished! Finished, I tell you!"

At long last, I am happy to report that The Husband’s sweater is finished!  That’s right, the one project that held within its power the ability to suck every ounce of joy out of the knitting process is done!  Here it is:

The Husband after I'd posed him 4 times in various places

It came out fairly well, after all the trouble.  The neckline that looked confusing was actually pretty simple.  The biggest challenge, besides all of the endless moss stitching, was setting in the sleeves.  This was due to the fact that the body was knit seamlessly in the round.  The other times I’d had to set in sleeves, the body was knit in pieces and the side seams were sewn after the sleeves were set in which is a lot easier than the contortionist positions I had to use in order to get the thing to lay properly so the sleeves wouldn’t go wonky on me.  The best part about this project?  Never having to knit another one…

Once the sweater was done, my knitting joy returned and I found myself able to make great progress on some other things.  I had some Nuna yarn left over from the sweater and it is very nice yarn so I whipped up a hat for The Husband, seeing as how the first time I tried one for him it came out small enough for a child’s doll. 

Vegetation Mode

I used Stripes for Spring by Moa Maria and it was an easy knit.  I still have enough Nuna left to possibly knit a nice hat or cowl for me. 

Aaaaannnnddd…I also managed to finish the project I’ve had you guessing about.  And the project is…(drum roll please)…a WOOBIE!

Part blanket - part elephant

It came out much better than I expected so it will actually be gifted to the newest baby girl I know.  I got the pattern in an e-book I bought a while ago, the Woobie Pattern Collection – Series 2 by Kris Carlson.  It contains patterns for 8 different woobies which I thought were adorable.  I will likely make another at some point.

I also made another Baby Hat in Little Basketweave by Lenore English for my mother-in-law to take to a baby shower in April but I forgot to take a picture of it before I shipped it to her. 

Staying in productive mode, I cast on the much-anticipated socks with my Shibui Sock yarn.  I chose a simple pattern – Basic Ribbed Socks by Kate Atherley.  After I started, I began to get concerned about being bored with the k3, p1 pattern that runs down the whole sock, and was thinking about ripping it before I got too far to try a more challenging pattern, when I noticed a bigger problem:

Too freaky for me

The yarn is slightly variegated and it turned out the shades were pooling in a wholly weird and unattractive way, as you can see.  So after much deliberation, I decided my first pair of adult socks would have to wait for a different yarn and I frogged what I had and cast on this:

This is the Glam Shells Shawl by Marisa Hernandez and I’m just hoping I have enough of the sock yarn to finish it -  it calls for just a tad more than what I have.  The variegated color looks really nice in this and the pattern is easy but not boring.  Even if I run a little short, I think I should be able to modify it so that I come out okay.

And finally, I’ve also cast on and made progress on the lacy gift for my friend that I need done by mid-April.  I’ll not post pictures of that until after I’ve gifted it on the off chance that my friend pays this blog a visit. 

So, yeah…this post seems a little boring in spite of the progress I’ve made.  I’ll close by telling you that all of us at my LYS who are doing the mystery KAL are still at a loss as to what we’re making.  Here’s what it looks like after two more weeks of instructions:

Which way is up?  No idea...

Yep, pretty much just a bigger version of the picture I posted before.  This wasn't as fun this week because I managed to drop stitches on the end no less than three times.  It will definitely not be among my most stellar projects.  The best guess so far at what it might be came from fellow knitter Deidre who said, “Aerosmith is going on tour soon and Steven needs his microphone flair finished!”  I think she may be on the right track.  :D

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