Wahoo-wah!

Okay, so I *AM* a closet UVA fan, especially for basketball, and if you aren’t a college basketball fan, you might not know we’re having a banner year.   One lucky, expectant UVA friend will receive this FO (finished object) this week.

Oh — and UVA fans are Wahoos.  I’m really not sure why, but evidently, I’m not the only person in podunk who makes up words and then inserts them into her vocabulary.

UntitledProject: UVA Kickbag.  This is the second time I’ve done this pattern, and the third kickbag I’ve done.  One friend has already asked for a second bag for …B3 (her second child, and I won’t explain why I’m calling it B3 for privacy’s sake), so evidently, these sacks are functional, so they’re my new go-to-knit for my fertile friends.

Pattern: Kicking Bag for Babies is a very straight-forward, simple pattern.  I love the baby cables in the ribbed top, and after that, it’s mindless knitting in the round with a three-needle bind-off.  I’ve only done this pattern with self-striping/patterned yarns, so it wasn’t mind-numbing.

Yarn:  Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Team Spirit, from The Loopy Ewe.  Yummy goodness, and machine washable too.

Needles:  Knitpicks #3 Rainbow (wood) fixed circular in 16″ length.  (Anyone have the Caspian version?  I need more needles like a hole in the head, but this nature-lover is also a blue-green lover!)

Verdict:  I’m wondering how quickly I could do some for the TWO friends expecting TWINS in the next 45 days or so…  which is to say I really like this pattern.  It’s going to keep a little Wahoo snug as a bug this chilly spring at her first baseball games!  (I’m pretty sure her mom doesn’t read my blog and doesn’t have time right now even if she normally does…)

Now, if  you’ll excuse me I do have TWO baby blankets to finish/start, so back to the knitting.

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FO #1 of 2014

UntitledDon’t look now, but for the first time since May, I’ve finished knitting something other than a cotton dish cloth.  At least, that’s what Ravelry says.  It’s not as lush as my cashmere scarf for my now far-away friend, but it’s pretty, it’s for me, and it’s complete.

UntitledI’m not at all sure the two yarn companies in question would be thrilled with my cross-pollination, but I am.  Meet the Kudo Cascade Cowl.

Pattern:  Cascade’s Tangier Cowl is a very basic, happy pattern.  It’s beginner-friendly, but it has enough of a pattern to stave off boredom.  Six simple rows make a repeat, eight repeats make a cowl.  I’m not a fan of “baby cables” and these are especially lame up close, but from the distance, it’s just great.

Yarn: Plymouth’s Kudo is a fabulous mix of cotton and rayon with a splash of silk to make it feel luxurious, but at 198 yards, I cut it too close to recommend anyone else trying it, unless she’s willing to play chicken and risk tinking back almost 150 stitches to bind off.  It doesn’t have much “sproing” so once I stretched the cowl to slide over my shoulders, it wasn’t excited about slimming back down, but I’m sure a little mist and a scrunch would restore it.Untitled

Needles:  Bryspun (acrylic) #7 circs.

Verdict:  I have more Kudo and could easily go wind and cast on for another one, but I have babies to knit for.  One is due in April, so time is wasting!

Have you finished anything exciting lately?

What’s your favorite baby knit to make, give or receive?

Carry Her Back…

Virginia’s state song used to be Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.  We are without one right now, but nonetheless, it inspired the naming of said project.  You see, a dear friend of mine is moving and we are quite hopeful that in two years when her husband retires from his military career, they will move back here.  That should put the rest of this finished object report in perspective.

UntitledProject:  It Better Carry Her Back…

Pattern:  Knitspot/Anne Hanson’s Fruit of the Vine.  I chose this pattern because I wanted a scarf that could alternately be used as a stole.   It was perfect, because it was an Anne Hanson pattern (she’s a favorite lace designer of mine) so that means it was well-written with both charts and text, but it was also just what I wanted… a pattern that spoke volumes about our friendship and her time here in The Commonwealth.

Yarn:  Filatura Di Crosa Superior is probably my most favorite luxury yarn.  It’s cashmere and silk, and I have to presume it is what knitting with whipped butter would feel like.   I knew from the moment I decided to knit for my friend that I had the precise yarn in my stash; I was fortunate that Ms. Hanson’s pattern was easily adapted for the fuzzy, soft laceweight yarn.

UntitledNeedles:  Gretchen’s beloved rosewood #6 straights.  Yes, larger than recommended, because the yarn is fuzzy and I wanted to make it stretch as far as I could.   (Long-time readers might recall that baby Gg nibbled on one of these needles as a wee puppy, but the Knight saved the day – and the pricey knitting tools – by sanding the teeth marks right out with a VERY fine grade of sandpaper.)

Verdict:  I wish I’d happened to have two balls of said yarn to make it longer, but I know it will be appreciated and quite functional as-is.

What are you knitting?  I need to cast on for something new.  Something baby, that I can finish in oh… 10 days.  I have a very important baby shower on the 8th.  What do you knit for summer babies?

Bearable!

photo.JPGOr… she sewed, and found it bearable, making a mock-up Bearables Bear.

But first, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that we had another great report on Sissy’s only eye yesterday.

Several of you know that I want to learn to sew.  Well, last weekend, I sewed.  I am most definitely still learning, but I have a finished object to share and Gretchen Greer has a new beloved that smells very much like Mama and some other unknown to her things.

photo.JPGFirst things first… the disclaimers and credits.  Bearables are a tool in a program through our local Hospice.   We learned of it when they applied – and received – a grant from the Junior League of Charlottesville to fund bear making supplies  -these cute tags, stuffing and such… the fabric comes from the Hospice patient.  (Fall 2012 grants were announced late in 2012 and haven’t been posted to date on our website, but trust me… they got a grant.)  The tag images shared are the property of HoPVa and the Bearables program.  If you are inspired, please follow the link(s) and ask permission.

To become a sewing volunteer, one attends a training (check) and learns about the program, why the bears might have embroidered eyes and noses, but never a mouth, how to care for the fabric for said bear, etc.  Then, she makes a practice bear (check) and someone from the program inspects her work.  (No check, by mutual agreement.)  As a JLC member, I have two options, if ever I am comfortable with my own craftsmanship.  I can either work directly with HoPVa and get on the bear-maker list, or I can let the JLC coordinator know that if ever there’s a call for a group of bears to be made, I’m comfortable getting together en masse (read: with moral support and technical assistance available) to make bears together.

square_125-7eb084ae31c4d5d65bf5f7346a38cdd2c634a6caRight now, my plan is to get better acquainted with my sewing machine (Singer Promise 1409) and then attempt another practice bear on fabric that means nothing to anyone.  Then, due to the regulations of the program (fabric cannot be washed or exposed to pets), I will most likely only offer to participate in a JLC-run program where one of our members whose pets do not rule the roost would be responsible for picking up the fabric and keeping it and the finished bear safe until it arrives at the HoPVa.  Yes, I have the pattern and a PDF copy so I can in theory, make as many practice bears as I need to.

I have also purchased the Colette Sewing Handbook, and will try to use it.

DSC03254Anyway, without further ado, meet Gg’s Mr. Grey.  He’s not symmetrical, he has several hand-stitched spots where I didn’t manage to sew through both layers of fabric AND the interfacing, but Gg doesn’t mind and thinks he’s a nice pillow.  She doesn’t care that Mama took the ladies who were helping me too seriously and paid little attention to seam allowances and failed to tidy up the edges where the four pieces of fabric/interfacing weren’t precisely (or anything in the same ball park) the same…

Again, each seamstress is encouraged to personalize the bears.  The League member showing us the way does nice embroidered eyes and a nose, then ties a pretty ribbon around the bear’s neck, while the most prolific of the bear-makers never does eyes or noses, but always finds an extra to make each bear special.  It might include lace from the special item of clothing, a knapsack accessory or a pocket, but she lets each source fabric – an item of clothing belonging to the deceased, selected by the grieving family member – inspire her.  Gg likes Mr. Grey unadorned…  I’m sure of it.

While I do confess that I’ve sewn with a sewing machine before, this is the most success I’ve had as an adult.  I’m pretty sure there was something seriously wrong with my former machine, as it definitely wanted a lot of tinkering and adjustments, right out of the box.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have returned it… if I hadn’t bought it on super-clearance at a going out of business sale some nearly 20 years ago.  Hem.

My little machine is listed on the Singer site under “very basic”.  Well, duh?!  That’s just what I need.  I can’t imagine I’ll ever want more, but then if we revist my first posts on spinning… well, let’s not and move on, eh?

DSC03255

There’s Mr. Grey’s back.  I’m actually happier with my hand stitching than anything else.  Can you even tell – without enlarging the photo; let’s be realistic here – where he was left open for stuffing purposes?  More candor; if I may be so modest, while I am no seamstress, I have cross stitched and embroidered since my single-digit years.  Oh, and I stuffed him well too, I suppose; he does sit upright all by himself, with only a little encouragement (think bend his head to his knees).

So, I sewed.  I liked it enough I snagged a thread box, a neato pin cushion bottle thingee and new scissors that same night.  Now, I need more fabric, interfacing (the iron-on kind), thread if the fabric isn’t a lot white, and…  ??

But first, I think I’ll re-cover the Knight’s favorite pillow.  If I actually learned anything, I measure, add generous seam allowances all around, cut, pin, sew, shove, hand stitch closed…. right?  It’s a weird, dense pillow that I believe my mother made so long ago we’ll assume it’s a lady pillow and not discuss its age, okay?

Any and all advice is appreciated, because I know several of you are accomplished seamstresses yourselves.

While we’re on the subject – sorta’ – I’m going to make a case for craft-stashes, inspired by Alison’s post.  No one thinks it’s hoarding when a painter has extra brushes and colors, and in fact, we’d all likely find it strange if a baker only bought precisely the ingredients/amounts she needed and never had an extra can of evaporated milk in the pantry, right?  So why are knitters and sewers made to feel like hoarders when they “collect” supplies they know they’ll use eventually?

Granted, all things are relative.  This former sock knitter has an insane amount of single-hank/ball/skein inventory.  Good thing my younger friends are having a baby boom, eh?   Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts… whether they related directly to this post or not!

2012 Recap

ElvisHappy New Year!  Did you do anything exciting to ring in 2013?  We went to dinner early with friends, then watched Tooth Fairy with the fur-girls.  Cute movie, with a sweet reminder that adults are flawed and need to be forgiven sometimes too.

2012 was a productive year.  I managed to read 68 books, which far surpassed my mostly unshared goal of reading at least 52 books.  Thanks Basically Blogless Susan and gMarie!  A few others shared books with me too, and I truly appreciate them all.  My favorites from last year were the Southern Cousin cozies (better known in my mind as the Elvis Hound-dog series) and the Wine Country mysteries.

Two books remained unfinished; Don’t Know Much about Mythology and The Reservoir.   … Mythology is a decent book, but I *DO* know much about the subject.  I’ll keep it on my i-stuff, in my Kindle library as a reference book, but if YOU don’t know much about mythology from any given culture, check it out.  …Reservoir got good reviews, and it has a rather local setting which normally is a win for me, but I guess Hawthorne is the only “ancestral guilt” author I enjoy?

August 2012 001I knitted  completed 14 projects last year.  I knitted *ON* several more.  A couple were frogged (unknitted and abandoned) and a couple more (give or take) remain unfinished for a host of reasons.

  • 3 baby hats
  • 2 baby sleep sacks
  • 2 completed baby blankets
  • 2 headbands
  • 1 toy
  • 1 infinity scarf
  • 1 scarflette
  • 1 adult hat
  • 1 cloth

While I was really happy with all of my finished objects this year, I think the owlie sleep sack was my favorite.  I hope Baby was able to use it with some of the cool days we’ve had recently.  (Baby is now five months old…)

But I’m most proud that we’re over halfway through my first year as League president, and the fur-girls and I continue to log 20++ miles weekly.  I’ve also maintained my weight loss for roughly 18 months now.  It fluctuates more than Weight Watchers allows its life members to do, but since I didn’t get squat for reaching my goal and maintaining as an online subscriber, I dropped my membership and made up my own rules.  My clothes still fit (and in some cases, I’ve gone done a size since reaching my goal), and I know that my body is really into retaining fluid and such, so…  *I* say I’ve maintained and I thank WW for their fine assistance, but for me, staying within 2 lbs. of my goal is crazy-making.  I refuse to be a slave to the scale, and I’d like to thank the shoddy manufacturing practices AND vanity sizing for assuring that I have a WIDE range of numbers that are quite normal in my  clothing sizes too.  (Has anyone else noticed that her bra size has changed with some companies, even though “the girls” have not?!)

March 2012 006I’m also very happy that we’ve maintained Sissy’s right eye for another year.  Assuming we stay the course for this year too, next year this time, I’ll be holding Vision Vet to her probably off-the-cuff comment roughly two years ago that *IF* we could get Sis and that eye to age 6, maybe then we could breathe a sigh of relief.  We’re also holding our own with her food allergies, ear infections and with Gg’s environmental allergies.  I suspect Gg has also developed food sensitivities (grains?) too, but she is okay when we stick to Sissy’s diet pretty closely, so… we do, most of the time.

What I’m not pleased with is that the blogs remain my only writing outlets.  I also miss singing in a choir, but since I’ve signed on for an unprecedented second term as JLC president, some things just have to wait.  However, I am taking a sewing class on Saturday, so there’s one for the bucket list!

What were your successes in 2012?  Anything noteworthy on your 2013 bucket list?

Hounds Unite

Or, part 2 of yesterday’s post…

Happy Thorsday, little friday, Thankful Thursday, 3rd day of Christmas and more.   Gretchen has a cute little post up today about some of her favorite parts of Christmas thus far…

So, today’s post is really a finished object report, but first, the hound connection.  I met Kari through blogging.  Her departed Fred, a bloodhound, had food issues too, so bonding wasn’t hard to do!   Kari  lives in Texas, so when she announced she was expecting, I knew just what I wanted to knit for her…

It had to be lightweight and easy-care, because I’m pretty sure Haylie – the beautiful chocolate lab – thinks Kari is just the incubator for HER two-legged baby.   Enter the Tofutsies Blanket.

DSC03246

The fur-girls had to make sure the blankie really was suitable for Mini-K.  Long-time readers might recall that baby Sissy had a SERIOUS problem with Tofutsies as a pup.  Maybe even then, she was trying to tell us she needed a fish kibble?  (If that sounds crazy, just keep reading.)  

Pattern:  Stringtown’s Tofutsies Baby Blanket.   What a FABULOUS, simple pattern!  Look out friends…  I have a ton of Tofutsies (and a friend with a yarn shop that stocks it), so more of these might be coming.   It’s a car seat/stroller sized blankie, and it’s just light and lofty.

Courtesy of Ravelry & SWTC

Courtesy of Ravelry & SWTC

My only modification was to use “scraps” as Tofutsies skeins are nice and large so I generally have enough left over to do a pair of footies or something.  I was inspired to transition between colors by the Tofu Tee, which is also knit with Tofutsies, holding two strands together.

Yarn:  Duh?  Tofutsies in assorted colors.  I love this yarn because it’s the easiest care light fingering weight yarn ever.  It has loft -gets light and fluffy – so it’s great for blankets and baby clothes yet still does great socks and shawls too.  It is splitty, but that doesn’t bother me.  I just don’t use pointy tips with this yarn.

But what you REALLY need to know is that it is a blend of superwash wool, “soysilk”, cotton and chitin – made from shrimp and crab shells.   (Hence baby Sis’s fascination with the yarn!)

Needles:  US #8 circs

DSC03244Verdict:  Well, I’ve already said it; I see more of these in my future!  It was a quick, fun knit and I know it will serve baby Mini-K well, without causing her parents any trouble with special care needs.  I just hope Haylie doesn’t love the yarn as much as baby Sissy did!

Obviously, I’m thankful for Tofutsies, but I’m also thankful for all the wee ones coming into the world right now.   Several of my friends who have had or are having babies have had a few more challenges than some on the path, so that makes the babies all the more treasured.

Thankfully, both of our local friends who had to have surgery are doing okay.  One is back home even!

I’m really thankful though for all of our doggy-bloggy friends.  It cracks me up when I think about how I started a blog just so I could participate in a swap, and now Chanknits is barely accurate, as Chan doesn’t knit much at all these days…

What are you thankful for today?

Finally a Handspun FO

DSC01391Oh, I have knitted with my own handspun, but it’s been a while, and it’s been ridiculously infrequent.   While I don’t have a photo of the fiber or the yarn in a hank, it appears I spun it in the fall of 2009 on my first wheel, the Heavenly Handspinning Bellus

It seems I never reported on the fiber to yarn process, so let me capture some of that now too.

Fiber:  Gypsyknits BFL, c/o Gypsyknits  Pure heaven.  If you haven’t spun with BFL, do.  It is a GREAT novice spinner fiber.  Its staple length (the length of each single hair from the sheepy-sheep) is long enough to not be too hard to spin, soft enough to be worn next to the face or neck, and even in a novice’s hands, it has sproing and a touch of loft.

Yarn:  Over-spun, under-spun, but roughly DK at 15 wraps per inch.    In reality, it ranges from laceweight to worsted.

Plying:  Navajo plied… the only way I ply unless I’m using an accent thread or something.   In plainer language, it is a 3-ply yarn.

Verdict:  For my first “real” effort with “good” fiber, it’s pretty impressive.  I’ve come a long way as a spinner, but this is nothing to be ashamed of.

Now, for the finished object report.

photo.JPG

Paws to observe…

Project:  Handspun Tea Cozy Hat

Pattern:  Wooly Wormhead’s Tea Cozy Hat.   A great, simple pattern, designed to “vent” a high ponytail out of the top of the hat.

Yarn:  See above, but note that this photo is the most accurate on my monitor for the hues…

Needles:  Body of hat, US #8 16″ bamboo circular.  At least a size too large for most of the yarn, but I like a hat that breathes, so it suits me just fine.  #6 metal dpns used for crown decreases and i-cord. 

photo.JPGVerdict:  This hat will work for the ponytail-less too, but unless you have a long enough mane for a HIGH ponytail, this probably isn’t the design for you.  I’ll get plenty of use though because when my hair isn’t a in ponytail (generally a lower one) for dog walks, it’s in a clip of some sort, and those  don’t sit well under most hats either.

Yarn verdict?  I’ve dragged out more of my handspun still in my stash and I’m going to knit with it more often!  I do regret that I didn’t use but about half of the ball for this project, but luckily, I have a friend with two little boys who is willing to care for an extra-finicky handspun handknit hat.  If I knit it this year for the eldest boy, the two of them should get lots of wear out of it, right?

Now, to find the right projects for more of my handspun…