Feb 27, 2006

Things to Do At Book Club (when you didn't finish reading the book)

This past Saturday was one that reminded me how great it is to be an adult - with kids - who still takes time out to socialize. I started the morning cleaning up from a girl cousin sleep over pajama jammy jam and got the girls ready to head to our friends' condo. We hung out by the pool with 2 other couples and my girl Kel. I was working on starting some dreadlocks for my friends brother, the girls were swimming out all their energy, and everyone else ate, drank, and got merry. As though that wasn't enough, that evening I went to my first Book Club meeting in months! Naturally I hadn't finished the book because the 32 hour day has yet to be invented that would allow such things. But my literary cohorts are ever so forgiving. They let me chime in with my blathering about the first 100+ pages and didn't scorn me a bit...funny how sharing June Bugs can make you so unpretentious. Hmmmm...

Here's a shot of the Book Club Babes:

Well...I'm hardly seen without my GoKnit pouch now, so of course I brought the Cotton Classic Jumper with me to make some progress. I also brought a bunch of stuff that I wanted our hostess to photograph for me (my friends are just so kind and talented!). Here a couple shots of current WIP (works in progress)...

Top Down Cardigan for Adachi:

My impending shrug in 3 parts:

Great intellectual conversation that digresses to the funniest levels of silliness at just the right time; yummy refreshments and just the right amount of spirits; surplus guilt-free knitting time and people who will tolerate you going on and on (and on) about it....what more could a woman ask for? Viva la Book Club!!!

Oh! And the book is a great read by the way (Wicked by Gregory Maguire)...maybe I'll finish it by the time the next Club meeting rolls around.

Today's Affirmation: I am the company I keep...and that's a good thing!

Feb 26, 2006

When In Doubt...Write it Out

It works for to-do lists, vows, speeches...and yes...patterns. I made some progress on the Cotton Classic Jumper for Meezee last night (during Book Club I might add), but I realized that I was really being slowed down by the pattern. A wise knitter on my favorite forum often says "trust the pattern". Not this one - this one is only a page long, and it was obviously written for someone at a level I haven't even glimpsed yet. Shortcuts, assumptions, and no row counts. If this were a food recipe I might end up serving catfish marmalade when it was meant to be chicken noodle soup! Anyway...I do better when I write things out. It helps to put things in perspective. So I decided to write out the pattern, row by painstaking row. Today's lesson? Putting things in perspective can sometimes be like a bucket of ice water on your head after you've been sleeping for hours. Here's what I learned...If my calculations are correct, this pattern is a little under 150 rows long (PER SIDE) to produce a 20" dress. So I will be knitting just over 300 rows. For those of you just joining, I intend to do this by Saturday March 11th. Yeah. I know.

I must say, as I wrote the pattern out, more and more of it made sense to me. Eureka! Although, there's still one area in the neck shaping that I had to type in bold red text. With yellow highlights. *sigh* We'll get there...that's a gagillion rows from now. Back to perspective...here's a shot of where I reached yesterday (February 25th):

No no - don't bother counting, I'll save you some time. That's about 41 rows. Four - one. Out of 300+.
With what I've added today at Row 57 (hmmm...back of the napkin math...add 7, carry the 3....) I'm 9% finished.

And you know what? I'm not nearly as bitter about that as I sound. The way I see it...I rescued myself from the worst fate of all today - quitting. Writing the pattern in a language I understand will at least get me as far as the bold red highlighted bits, and then , maybe I can run ziploc-in-hand to my Local Yarn Store and get it finished.
I wonder if they'll seam up a project for me if I fain tears?.

Note: This photo brought to you by my favorite Book Club Beautie, she who helps me blossom into my insanity.

Feb 23, 2006

On Your Mark(er), Get Stitch, Knit!

Just an afternoon quickie (cough, cough) to mark the start of a project that I am going to attempt to finish in 16 days. That's right 16 days....I am going to attempt to finish a Cotton Classic Jumper for my Meezee - she'll be 3 this month and I want her to have this to wear at her birthday party to match the butterfly princess wings I got at JoAnn's the other day.

  • Quick Stats (pictures to follow):
    Tahki Stacey Charles
    Cotton Classic Yarn in Lilac color (#3933)
  • Pattern: Cotton Classic Jumper Size 3 (from 3 Bags Full Knitting Studio in Northbrook, IL) - I will pdf this eventually
  • Needles: Size 6, 24" bamboo circulars I bought in a lot on eBay (no brand name)

Ahem...it must be said...I have to put all other projects at the bottom of the knitting bag if I mean to finish this (visions of seaming are already giving me hives), so forgive me if you have made a request...it is currently on hold. Unless of course the stockinette in this pattern makes me crazy, then I may sneak a stitch or too.

Off I go! Keep watching for updates...

Today's Affirmation: I don't have to be the best at something that I'm trying for the first time.

Feb 21, 2006

Purpose...Up Close & In Your Face

Just pausing for a moment of reflection and taking a short break from adventures in Knitting Land...

This blog is titled "Living My Why" because that sums up my life quest, to live my intended purpose...I'll let you know if I have an epiphany about what that is exactly. In the meantime, enjoy these shots of my greatest motivation to keep on keepin' on

Point of reference - these shots were taken while the girls were in the back seat of my car. This is the reaction I get when I ask "Girls!! You want to go with mommy to the YARN store??!?" *Sigh* Life. Is. Good.

Feb 20, 2006

Cuddleworthy (and the hats are cute too)

***more pics coming***

Celllllllll-uh-brate good times, come on! Whew! I'm nose deep in a sinus infection and trying to improve my spirits (life is 90% attitude, right? AAAAACHOOOO!!! Ewwww...Right.).

Just another quick post to shamelessly brag on our mini-empresses. The short of it (cuz typing hurts my eyes) is that Adachi started reading this week. Like, sentences! And Mizan...well she's doing all the "I'm about to be big girl" stuff that makes me grin - dressing and undressing herself, drawing pictures of things you can actually make out. It's a proud mommy week I tell ya.

Needle news...I was so tickled to find a simple mathematical way to make any roll brimmed hat with any yarn at Crazy Aunt Purl's blog, that I just had to put some more hat pictures up. Here are some shots of the girls in hats I've made for them...Enjoy! Oh, and you have my permission to gush incessantly over them as though they were your own!

My favorite part of knitting and crocheting for our toddlers is that they haven't a CLUE when mommy makes a mistake (like this too large hat I "designed" myself where Adachi could store nuts for the winter while wearing it...be sure to check your gauge before you begin...blah, blah, blah). My latent perfectionism won't let that excuse ride for long though.

Stitchin' on...

Feb 17, 2006


Here are a couple of things I've made that haven't made their debut yet...

The first is a ribbed "caddy" that I'm now using for my circular needles. The fact that my needle stash has grown to the point where I need a tote for different groups of needles by type...well, I'm dealing with that. This is actually my own original design. That is, if turning a length of ribbed knitting into a container can be considered design. If I'm to be honest, I would tell you that I really just needed the size 8 needles that this was sitting on, and I knitted it so long ago that I forgot what it was intended to be, so I did some crochet slip stitch on 3 sides and VOILA! The 4x4 ribbing makes it nice and stretchy, so it will double well as a bottle holder or a large calculator cozy too.

The picture on the right is a drawstring pouch I created from a pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson, the owner of Purl Soho in NY. This was one of my first projects knitted in the round (I'm sticking to my mantra "new project, new technique"), and I enjoyed using it - the cotton yarn was so easy to work with. Don't be too wowed by the stripes though, the yarn was actually died so that it makes that pretty pattern all on it's own - just the way we like it. This too is now a needle & notions tote, mostly double pointed needles in there and my guage ruler, etc. Notice the laptop backdrop? That's to remind me that if I want to afford more yarn to make use of these needles...I better get back to work.

Feb 14, 2006

On the Needles (For My Love)

Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like "Honey, your cardigan collar is finally done!"
I stayed up way too late last night getting my latest project back to a decent length (and that's not much). I'm making a striped cardigan for Adachi and hope to finish it before the "cool" weather here passes. The pattern comes from a charming boook called Top Down for Toddlers: No Sew Knitting from the stitching sisters at Cabin Fever.
This pattern is:
- keeping me on my yarn diet (I bought this yarn several months ago)
- relatively easy to follow so far
-helping me keep to my goal of trying a new technique/skill with every project (no seaming is right up my alley!)

Here's what I have completed so far:

The yarn is Classic Elite Provence in olors Rosa (pink) and Japanese Lilac (purple). It's just a collar, and it's maybe 5 1/2" long, but in typical toddler fashion...Adachi already loves it.

P.S. We don't actually celebrate Valentine's Day in the house, but I just can't pass up an excuse for a "themed" post.

Every Yarn Has a Tale

On our way to my favorite health food emporium one December afternoon, we were listening to an editorial on NPR. They always have such interesting commentary on there, you just never know what you'll pick up on. This particular speaker was a woman, addressing the issue of homemade gifts for the holidays. The short of her diatribe was that she wanted all her friends and family to know that homemade items for a gift is NOT the way to go. Apparently, she had been traumatized as a child by being forced to wear some homemade monstrosities out in public, and this made her certain that the best gifts should come with a label and a gift receipt.
I was somewhat put off by this because as most of you know, I'm a hand made (not homemade) gift junky. And those of you that put your hands to good works know the distinction between those two labels. Anyway, I resolved that the difference between me and that woman on the radio is that I employ the golden rule in this case "Give unto others as you would have them give to you". I LOVE receiving things that someone made themselves. I even gush when a person chooses to write their own sentiments inside a greeting card. And if I know that they put any lick of thought into something...it could be a painted rock...but it was painted for me. That counts for a lot. It was in this spirit that I decided to give a handmade Christmas gift to one of my dearest friends, Kelli (her own handy-work is featured in a previous post). For my birthday, she gave me a bag full of the most gorgeous, funky novelty yarns, and pattern books to use each one! I blended one of them with some black Sirdar Snuggly DK to make this plush wine cozy for her. The best part was, when we finally reached the health food store that day after listening to that editorial, the first aisle we passed was featuring a wine that Kelli loves...bought...knit...that's a wrap (or cozy).

Feb 13, 2006

Starting Early

I've read several stories in my needlework books and magazines about designers and crafters who began their craft very early in childhood, and what good memories they have of learning from a special family member or friend. This inspired me to change up the theme of our regular evening togetherness time. Instead of the usual story or game, I'm going to try teaching the girls how to knit. We've done it 2 nights in a row now, and like all new things they are both so excited about it. Adachi has an amazing memory for a 4-year old, so I taught her this rhyme I found in the SnB knitting book to help her remember how to do each step in making a knit stitch:

"Go inside, get your scarf, bring it back out, before the cat barfs". Here she is practicing it some huge size 19 needles and some Homespun Chunky yarn:

I can't wait to wear this....umm...scarf I'm guessing...when she's all done :-)

Feb 9, 2006

A Learning Link

I'm posting this link to a Knitting help site because I am just so impressed with what you can find free on the internet these days. There are explanations and really good, CLEAR videos on this site of some of the techniques that can throw beginners like me...well...for a loop. There are aslo advanced techniques and free patterns too. If anyone reading this has similar sites they would like to share to help others learn to love this craft, please post it in a comment or send me an email.

Here is it is, the Knitting Help Library site link:



Feb 7, 2006

Support Local Artists II

I want to brag on some more of my creative friends by posting their "handy" work here. The first photo to the left is of a shadow box frame that my bestest buddy Kelli made in her wood shop at home. I've had it in my office for a while now, and will soon find something worthy to display in it. The best thing about Kelli is that she just doesn't look like the Miter Saw type (think London runway), but that's only one facet of her well-roundedness. I know she'll turn redder than a ripe beet after reading this so I'll spare her any more gushing.

The next photo below is from a crochet newbie, Tanya - she and I have actually bonded over yarn. We used to do some show and tell at work, and she actually helped me to see the beauty of puttting some more pennies on the counter and getting MUCH nicer yarns. She knit some gorgeous Italian wool scarves last year, but this is a view of her first solo crochet project. This scarf just begs you to pet it (it's from a set of 3 gifts for her girls). I'm so proud of her courage to pick up the single hook and get busy!

Feb 6, 2006

Fresh off the Needles

The joy of making this latest hat is very close to the amount of joy I have in actually being able to post it here for viewing (finally!!!). This hat is called Mizan's star hat (because of the star like decreases made to cinch the top of it. There are a couple of stories behind this one: (1) I bought the yarn in New York from a store called Downtown Yarns. I asked for something that was unique to their shop (since I'm making yarn my new travel souvenir), and they said that this was hand dyed by a local artist (Jamie Harmon). The striping patterns are unpredictable and so much fun. Very soft wool & angora blend and pleasing to work with too. (2) Most of the top portion, including the "I'm running out of yarn!" olive green strip near the top was added at about 4:30a.m on the morning before my last trip to Chicago. Mizan had been really fussy and kept us both up, which wasn't doing much for my rest for a 9AM flight. After I finally got her to sleep, I kept thinking "tomorrow morning, she'll wake up and see that I'm gone..." So I stayed up until 5:45a.m, and finished the hat for her so she'd have it while mommy was away for a week. I just keep finding new reasons to love this hobby...

Not too long from now, I'm going to make one of these for Adachi as well to show how the hand dyed yarn stripes so differently from skein to skein.

My current WIPs are two items that are...dare I say it... for me! One is a shrug, and the other is a light tunic-style sweater. My goal with each new project is to either try a new technique (double pointed needles, and extra large needles on these 2) or to add something to a pattern that is my own design. More pictures of those as they come along.

Support Local Artists

One of the biggest treats for me since starting this blog has been checking daily to see what's new on Emerald Lane, a blog published by my friend Nancy. I want to highlight some of her latest seaming artistry by displayin a couple of her latest creations here:

This view of her Baby Sling shows just how comfy our wee ones can be when snuggled up close with mom or dad:

And for even more creature comforts...introducing "Lambie"...I think I want to put one of these in my laptop bag for company on those long plane rides!

Nancy says "I made it out of this great vintage fabric from my Grandmother that has been sitting in my stash of fabric. He has hand-embroidered eyes and nose and a violet, satin ribbon."

Check out more of her artistry at her Emerald Lane Creations blog.