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?

Opinions wanted

Really.  I need input here.

Puppies?  Fine.   I’m very comfortable with puppies, colts, kittens and chickies.  But babies of my same species?  Help!! 

I have two baby blankies to knit in the next few weeks.     The first is for the expected sister (I STILL insist it’s a red-haired boy in there, but see above – what do I know?!) to the owner of the blanket shown above.  Her father still thanks me almost weekly for that blankie (Ravelry link), so they’re definitely knit-worthy. 

I’m thinking Tofutsies, which for those of you unfamiliar with the yarn, is a fiber made in part from chitin.  Now, this is where the advice comes in.  I love this yarn because it’s light, drapes well and is machine wash/dry, which is a must for the 2nd baby on the way household.   It’ll make a fantastic summer blanket, however the whole chitin – from shrimp and crab – gives me pause.  I mean…  I have a dog who is allergic to just about everything except potatoes and rabbit, so am I being too sensitive?  There are no seafood allergies on either side of the baby on the way’s family, and I know her great grands AND more of her second cousins than she’ll be able to identify for several years.

There’s even a baby blankie pattern written for this yarn, so clearly, I’m not alone in thinking it has great potential, but for those of you with more experience… weigh in please!?

Hot Green

Project:  Lily Cloth

Pattern:  Muguets Cloth, scroll down on the left, but I hear some of you have trouble with the website.  I really liked this.  It was an easy knit, and reminded me of the Lily of the Valley that grew against the house of my childhood.  (And the French name reminded me of Mugsy, which is always a good thing.)

Yarn:  Sugar ‘n Cream’s Hot Green.   It is very vivid, but I like it!  The yarn isn’t my favorite cotton; it’s hard on my hands, but it was worth it for this hue.

Needles:  Crystal Palace bamboo #6.  I like them a lot.

Verdict:  Will likely make more of this pretty cloth.

I hope you like “hot green” too, because there’s more!

That’s my Tofuchief

Pattern:  Silk Kerchief.   A quick and easy shawlette or triangular scarf, written for Noro yarn.  It’s a great travel project, as it’s all garter stitch with a few yarn overs every other row, and a color change every two rows.  My version blocked to 51 inches wide rather than the 30-something in the pattern, but this was mostly knitted at the firehouse, so I just kept going and going and wondering how wide it had gotten…

Yarns:  Tofutsies, in a “hot green” and a variegated pink.  I chose the colors because they’re bright, happy and they won’t show dirt too easily.  I went with Tofutsies because it’s machine wash and dry, plus it’s a great blend of wool, soy and chitin, so it will serve me well through all four seasons at the office.  The colors above are pretty accurate.

Needles:  Knitpick Options, Harmony tips, USA #3 for everything but the bind-off.  I used a #5 for that, to give a nice, stretchy edge.

Verdict:  It was intended to be a utilitarian shoulder and/or neck warmer, and that it will be.  Visually, I don’t find plain garter stitch shawls too appealing, but it will be perfect for the job I had in mind when I started the project.

I’m thinking about finally getting around to my first ballband cloth next, but I’m also eager to try the lizard ridge cloth.   Actually, by cast on, bind off math, I’m now three patterns to the good, right?  So I could cast on for both of those AND something else…

Waiting on those humans...

Waiting on those humans...

We have a family reunion this weekend, and that’s about it.  Otherwise, we’ll be at home with the fur-girls, making up for all the time we didn’t spend with them this week.

What’s on your agenda?

Which way did it go?

Pardon me, but have you seen my weekend?  It was here, and then I blinked and it was gone…

The Knight was in class all weekend, one of those boring but required things where he learned what Federal form to fill out when during a BIG, ugly disaster.  Yay for him.   

10616038Saturday was Vera day girls’ day out.   MJ, Sis and I ventured out for some shopping and lunch.   We all came home with a little (some, a lot) Vera.   Sis did get a few items in Hope Garden, and MJ got quite a collection in Pinwheel Pink, but I ended up with Mod Floral Pink.   I love the new Lisa B bag, and I discovered the Taxi Wallet is best-suited for my phone and ID.  I like the look of Lisa B, but I haven’t carried it enough to bond with it yet.  For now, it’s my daily bag.  I can’t carry a camera in it, but my phone has a camera, and it sure is nice to have a light bag.

Last night I made dinner for the crew, had a meeting, and came home and frogged the scarf I’d worked on most of the afternoon.  (Note to self:  ripping back and picking up stitches isn’t as easy as it sounds at midnight.)  I’ll be casting on again tonight, because I’m loving the Argosy pattern and the Silk Garden (#203) colorway.  It’s too soon to tell about the square needles.  They’re fine; I love palmwood, but the tip isn’t pointy enough for a love affair, and I haven’t sat and knitted for hours on end with them yet to know if they really do help with hand aches and pains.

Along those same lines, I had a couple of FOs over the weekend.  We’ll start with the socks.

Not-so Summer Socks

#1

#1

Pattern:  Um…  #1 was an altered version of Summer Socks.  #2 was the brainstorm for what will become my own pattern, but I noted the most obvious changes in the project page on Ravelry.  I’m not kidding when I say I had to ask THREE other sock knitters to help me interpret the original pattern (at the heel/cast on 24 part), and then I didn’t like the ridge that section made when I pickted the stitches up, so I took Gmarie‘s advice and used the afterthought heel method on #2, only it’s not for the heel, it’s for the leg/cuff section! 

In short, I liked the CONCEPT of this pattern, but the pattern itself left a lot to be desired.   A couple of friends are going to test-knit my adaptation and I’m going to knit a second pair so I can provide step-by step photos, since the construction is a bit unusual.

I *do* have ankle bones; I have my foot cocked sideways.

I *do* have ankle bones; I have my foot cocked sideways.

Yarns:  Well, I loved the Heart & Sole so much I wanted to use it all up and make a pair for me, but I didn’t quite have enough.  The first sock weighed 40 grams and I had 35 remaining, so I cast on with a similar Tofutsies colorway and used that for the toe and heel on #2.  I like the colors together so well that I bought one more skein of the Heart & Sole and will do a simple, stranded stripe with both yarns at some point (2010, since I’m knitting socks from my stash this year).

Needles:  Addi Turbo #2, because I wanted to make the fabric a little more open than I normally do for socks.  40″,  because I Magic Loop all the way now.

Verdict:  I wish they matched perfectly, but they’re to be house socks, so it’s all good.  I allowed myself more freedom to try new things than I ever have before, and a pattern I hope others will find an easy, introduction to toe-up socks was born.  I’ll be knitting another pair in *MY* version just as soon as I find my cotton sock yarn.  (Hem, hem…)

Oh – and just so you know, they’re heel huggers.  That awkward looking heel cups the foot and the picots just skim the ankle bone.

Phew!  That’s enough for one post.  More on the rest of the shopping and the other FO later.

How was your weekend?

Creative Knight

Don’t worry.  This post is rated G. 

After emailng the instructions for building a PVC niddy noddy to the Knight twice, showing him Anita’s designer version and pouting, Thursday’s rain somehow moved him to action.  Now, keep in mind that while he works with PVC daily, our business uses larger diameters than what the instructions suggested.  Rather than send someone to town for supplies for a non-work-related project, he put on his thinking cap and pulled out some 1/2″ pex pipe.  It’s a bit flexible, and he’s concerned about that, but what I like is that the bugger’s portable!  It’s literally a snap to assemble, and I will nab a jumbo rubberband to hold it all together Tuesday…

There’s no end to his ingenuity.  Yesterday, we went shopping for roses for the Garden (still no definitive name), and I grabbed stitch markers, but not enough, and not big enough for the needles I was using.  He first offered keys (yes, he probably did have enough on that ring to do for the project), but no thanks.  I was trying to soldier on without them, when we stopped for lunch.  Turns out a Taco Bell straw is precisely just big enough for #7 needles.  Thank goodness he always carries a SHARP pocket knife with him. 

I love that it coordinates with the yarn, that Tofutsies is tough enough not to mind the slightly rough edges on some “markers”, and I know the recipient will love that the Knight had a hand in the project, so even though I’ve been home for several rows, they’re staying in place for the duration.

That wad of lace is what I was very literally obsessed with casting on at 6am or so yesterday.  I’ve gone from not being able to knit to NEEDING to knit, and not being able to get my fingers/needles to fly fast enough to satisfy my inner knitter.  I awoke with the knowledge that I must frog a project, set aside another newly started one I want to crank out in a hurry, and start THIS, right NOW.  It is for my aunt with colon cancer, so it needs to be ready to go ASAP, so she has it for her hospital stay next week.  I’m about half-way, and I know that because I am modifying the pattern to work with the one skein of Tofutsies I have.  (Shush.  Of course I have dozens of skeins of Tofutsies and even at least one colorway with two skeins, but this is a limited edition colorway, and it’s perfect.  Also, auntie wants a shoulder shawl, so again, one skein is perfect.)  You see, it had to be Tofutsies.  She loves the beach as much as I do, so the chitin in there will make her smile.  Plus, I can’t expect her caretakers to fuss with handwashing and blocking.  They do iron for her, and auntie first taught me to knit a LONG time ago, so she’ll see to it that it gets pressed into a pretty shape after washing.

And of course, Grace’s Comforting Heart (see link above) is the perfect pattern.  This yarn won’t show the pattern to its fullest, but auntie and I will know those hearts are there.  She’ll also know that for every heart on the shawl, wrapped around her as she heals, there’s someone praying for her. 

Now that I’ve had to shove my fists in my eyes, let’s talk about the other WIP I started Friday evening.  If I you Rav-stalk me (and I know some of you do; turnabout is fair play after all), you know I’ve been clicking on just about every top-down sweater ever knitted, and a few not-that-style sweaters too.  So don’t act all surprised that in a fit of frenzy on Friday, I purchased the Plath Cropped Cardigan.  Then, I came home and stole some pretty, bright blue yarn from what was going to be the Knight’s firefighter afghan.  (I justified that by the copious reviews on how Cotton Fleece bleeds.  That won’t do on an afghan with no fewer than eight colors!)  I actually swatched, cast on, and know I want to finish this in a hurry so I can enjoy wearing it immediately.  However, there was a little heart-tug moment here too, when I was putting the project in my Ravelry list and realized the color is called My Blue Heaven.  Miss you, Muggums.

And the frogged…  Shawl pattern #2 for the lovely blue alpaca laceweight that will become a wrap for someone very special bit the dust.  The Blue Jay pattern wasn’t working for me.  So, once I finish the Comforting Hearts, I’ll decide whether I have time to push that one through for the deadline I have in mind, or wait and crank it out for Christmas.  Third time’s the charm so they say, so I’m very hopeful that Julia  will indeed be the pattern that works for this yarn and me.

SoXperience

Well, here we go.  Grab a beverage, a snack, and settle in somewhere comfortable, when you have more than a few minutes…  I didn’t take photos.  I took my camera, but I was too engrossed in my classes to even think about it!

Saturday morning, I headed northwest to Carodan Farm for SoXperience.   I’d signed up for both of Edie Eckman‘s classes, Motif Crochet (for Knitters), and the Blue Ridge Sock with Flower Inset.  When we checked in, we got a great little goody bag.  The yarns are much prettier than this photo shows; deep, dark jewel tones, and so very soft to the touch.  The yellow wad is Post-Its, which I think most of us use in one fashion or another while knitting.

HERE is the link to Edie’s teaching schedule.  She’s going to be teaching five or six (I can’t recall which) classes at Stitches East, and I sure hope at least one falls while I’m there.  I stongly encourage you to take a class from her if you get the chance.  I really wasn’t excited about the Motif class when I signed up, but figured I’d approach it as a learning experience.  Ha!  I am now chomping at the bit for the August release of said book!  I might become a happy hooker after all. 

So, the Motif class. 

I made that.  ME!!!  (You’d really be impressed if I’d blocked it.) My very favorite part of the first class was the super-cool cast-on Edie taught us to avoid crochetintheroundholeitis.  See how tight and closed my motif (ME!  I did it!) is in the center?  Squee!  That alone was worth the price of admission.  Now I can crochet chemo caps in a few minutes, because I’d cast them aside when I couldn’t close the dingdang hole at the top.  I can read crochet charts now, and boy are those things logical.  What you see is what you get, and it doesn’t get any better than that.  I think Edie had all of her swatches (from the cover shot anyway) for her new book with her, and let me tell you…  If you drooled over the colors and shapes in that measley photo, again, you owe it to yourself to see Edie and her swatches in person.  The colors are so contemporary and vivid, and it was so helpful to see the same swatch done in solids vs. contrast, or the three circles done in the pattern I did (ME!), but with three different borders/edges.  I don’t visualize well, so actually SEEING the differences in person was impactful.  I now truly feel that with patience and dropped shoulders (just in case Edie does read this), I can crochet most anything.

The afternoon brought another motif and a sock.  I’d actually done one of these suckers about five times (if you count how many times I did part of the pattern before even “don’t frog” Edie suggested I go back to the point of non-mess-ups), but it was in DK weight, and y’all know I’m a fingering weight gal.  So, thanks to blogless Margaret from RCK (my knitting guild – Judy and Carrie were there too!) and her D-hook, I produced one motif on my second try, and took off on my sock, on a size #3 circ, which was then frogged at home after I tried the sock on.  I’ll show progress shots later this week, but with my trusty size #1 Addi, I’m making a sock that fits.

The yarn was a custom-dye by Claudia for SoXperience, Blue Ridge Blue.  The DK weight seemed a little deeper and darker, and one gal in the afternoon class said that the first sample she saw was MUCH darker, which would match up with my idea of the Blue Ridge Mountains better than what I have, but I still like the yarn and the colors.

After the class, Edie made good on her offer, and with just the Magic Loop booklet and my feeble explanation of what I thought might have gone wrong on the heels of my first attempt at two socks on one circ, I am quite sure I will have complete success on my next try.

I also grabbed some of this month’s Tofutsies special yarn, Bandstand.  It’s very lovely, and I’m curious about this knit flat cuff that starts the pattern that goes with it.  That might be next on my sock queue…

So, my question is, does this count as knitting in public on WWKIP Day?  I mean, I wasn’t at home, but I don’t think we opened any non-knitter eyes as we were back on the farm…

 

Butterfly Away

(That’s the desk the Knight and Uncle Bobby share in the background…)

Well, it’s done.  My ever-faithful model MJ is sporting the Butterfly Lace Stole, from the current Knit ‘n Style.  I love this photo of her.  She says her eyes are closed, but it’s just because she’s really smiling hard.  Photos of happy people make me happy!

Pattern:  This pattern is getting a bad rap on Ravelry.  I loved it.  It was as close to mindless lace as it gets.  I knitted on it at our retreat.  I hung my GypsyKnits bag on my left wrist and knitted on my feet while I played with Sissy and Mugsy in the yard.  I knitted at the S ‘n B.  I did 44 repeats, 3 fewer than the sample for the pattern, but I do believe it will fit its recipient perfectly, and she is 4 inches taller than MJ, with much longer arms.  On me – 5’3″ with fairly short arms – once blocked, it hit below my fingertips.  I think it will be the perfect lightweight wrap for my mother.  (Shhh!  I think it’s embedded enough that even if she does read my blog she won’t notice!) 

It also turned out to be a great lace project to learn how to fix otherwise frogthewholedangthing mistakes.  Thanks Grace for the coaching!  When I was showing the shawl to MJ, *I* couldn’t even find the fixed booboo.

Yarn:  My beloved Tofutsies, in colorway 847.  Yes, this yarn splits.  I found it split less with the bamboos than with the Bryspuns, but I’ll talk about that more in the needle section.  However, it’s machine wash and dry, which makes it great for gifts.  Tofutsies blocks well with just a steam iron, which is what I did this time.  I would have liked to wet block it, but it had to get in the mail. 

Needles:  I started with #6 Bryspun straights, my lace needle of choice.  Everything was going swimmingly until Sissy seriously chewed the tip on on one needle.   I can report that Pampered Chef Kitchen Shears will hack through Bryspuns, not that the average gal needs to know that.  I then used the remaining Bryspun for the knit/lace rows, and a wooden needle from Peace Fleece for the purl rows.  That system sucked, as the point on the wooden needles was too dull for the K3togs.  The Crystal Palace Bamboos I picked up in town were better.  The points were fine, but if I ever use these suckers again, the Knight will have to sand on them; there were a lot of invisible rough spots that grabbed constantly.  I did notice that the Tofutsies splitting was less of an issue with the bamboo though, so that’s something to consider.  I tested some more Tofutsies with Addi Bamboo dpns last night, and there was no splitting to speak of.  For me, matching the right needles with the yarn and pattern is another key to happy, pretty knitting.  That’s why you’ll see me use dpns, circs, straights, metal, whatever my Bryspuns are made of, bamboo and wood, in all kinds of combinations. 

Again, I really was pleased with this project, although stoles do seem to go on and on forever.  I don’t think I’d make it again, but that’s just because there are so many lace wraps and so little time.

I haven’t forgotten my tea blog along  post this week.  I’ve taken a couple of photos, and will likely blog tomorrow, since I forgot to bring my camera to work today.  Today’s a busy day.  We dropped Sissy off for her spaying this morning (should be complete by now… I’m sure the vet will call soon!), and Mugsy is in the office for a change, so that when we pick her up, he can get his annual shot(s).  Sissy’s also getting micro chipped while she’s under.  We didn’t chip either of the boys, but since we’re headed to the beach several times a year, it seemed like a good idea.  Needless to say, this will be a quiet weekend for us as we try to keep the wild woman calm!