Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Beginnings

The eve of a new year. New challenges. New joys.

For 2009, I have a new challenge that will be a joy. The Riverside Knitting Guild has allowed me to be the program chair for the coming year. Well, actually they call it Vice President - Programs. That sounds too challenging. So, let's just stick with program chair. That sounds more like a joyous task.

One program idea that is swirling in my head is to hold a Block Party. Not the kind with your neighbors, but the kind where you review tips and tricks for blocking finished objects. Clearly, I might need to brush up a bit before blocking the scarf. It is only two-thirds done and I will need to clean off floor space or a bed for the blocking. You know what? Long is kinda - well - long.

It is growing, that's for sure. Unfortunately, as much as I love this one from Stefanie Japel, I'm starting to dream of bulky yarn and a size 11 needle. The whole thing would be done by now! More than done. Between this and the cardigan, I just might have to take a break and go out celebrating with friends.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! stay safe

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Free and Functional Stash Basket.

Working the lace for my Wild Blue Space Shuttle scarf kinda got to me. I just can't memorize the pattern, so I actually have to look at the chart every two rows. But it is OK because the scarf is working beautifully. And it should as it is a kit from Stefanie Japel.

A bit of rooting though the stash revealed the left over skeins from a recently completed sweater. There was just enough cotton/wool blend to crochet this quite useful little basket.

It measures about six inches square and even stands up and looks sturdy with just the edge folded down. This is single crochet worked over twenty-five stitches. Each side is twenty-four rows worked with an H hook.

I really like it. Free and Functional. Anytime a project can be completed using only the remains of other projects, it counts a free. Surely it does, doesn't it?

This will be quite useful for catching odds and ends like the extra phone charger that doesn't
have a special home. I might just have to make another one or two.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reflection and Celebration

A season of reflection - miracles - celebration. I am refreshed and restored.

We are fortunate this year to have the immediate family coming over for Christmas gumbo and a day of enjoying each other with expressions of love. And a fine gumbo it shall be - I can tell already. The roux was in the pot by eight 0'clock on the 24th and by ten we were sampling. Now it is resting in the refrigerator overnight.

There was one little mishap earlier. Well, when there are animals afoot little mishaps do occur. Know that my office carpet is amazingly clean. Sparkling and refreshed. I recovered from accomplishing an actual domestic chore (the carpet cleaning) by decorating another tree. Don't know if anyone will have the courage to eat it. But is matches the distant snow on the San Gabriel mountains.

I spent all afternoon working on the cabled cardigan. The back is finished and both fronts are on the needles with waist shaping under way. This one continues to bring me pleasure just in the making of it.

Oh, it was tempting to block the back as soon as it came off the needles. Just the back. 'Tis beautiful, I tell you. Absolutely beautiful. And the potential of pure perfection is waiting - just waiting for blocking.

But resist the temptation I did. Stayed content with working on the fronts. I always work both fronts (and both sleeves) at the same time. It keeps me organized, accurate in shaping and gives the grand delusion that a cardigan is composed of only three parts - back, fronts and sleeves. Far simpler to knit three things than five. Don't you think?

The pattern is quite specific that the left front should be knit first, and buttons applied before knitting the right and inserting the button holes. Call me a knitting rebel, but that would take 'forever' to do. I'll either very soon do a bit of math and figure out where to put the button holes or go buy a zipper.

My other joy this Christmas Eve is tracking the Man himself on Google Earth - courtesy of NORAD. Surely this service, my friends, is a valid use of tax dollars. Yes indeed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Decrease Dilemma

Where do you place your decrease stitches? And here, specifically, the dilemma is the decreases involved in an armhole. Of late it works best for me to place the decrease two (2) stitches in from the edge. That leaves two whole stitches on the outer edge and one is available for sewing in the sleeve. I can get the right 'look' when I do it this way.

Had to unwrap this cropped cardi to show you, and the photo is certainly a quickie, but putting the decreases in a few stitches results in a lovely line of pretty knit stitches that follow the armhole. This looks good to me.

One might presume that if it works on a gift, it will work on a personal item. Enter the current project. The cabled cardigan first introduced over here. Well, it is still twisting along easily. It is still shouting at me "this is gonna work!"

Groovin' and movin'. Flying along on a sunny Saturday. Going so great I never did put shoes on the whole day.

So, it was time for the armholes - -
bind off on the next four rows and then start the decreases. We've all done this. Not a problem. Until you start counting inward from those two (2) edge stitches that shall remain un-decreased. Yep, a bit of fore thought and counting revealed that if I did my current decreases, the last decrease would actually involve the first stitch of the first cable. Oh, NO. A huge NO WAY.

Clearly, the purl decreases had to be worked only one stitch in - Knit 1, p2tog. Simple enough knitting. Scary for the future. This means that there is only the one knit stitch at the edge for seaming and the seam will be smack
dab against one lone purl stitch that sets off the first cable.

You can see it better in this other photo on the right - but what happened to the color? The sun had popped through and made this great grey turn blue. Is it just me? Please forgive the photography.

Any way, the barely enough room left will cause me to review my seaming skills. There is sure to be video watching in my future. And precise blocking. Extremely precise. And patience. Loads of patience which is not my forté.

But since this is only the back and there are two fronts and two sleeves left to knit, I can worry about that on Scarlett time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unstrung By A Bird

Bert has really done it this time! Did he say "Ribbit" when he frogged the working sample? Silly me thought that he would never attack something warm and looking like a green bird cousin. What was I thinking - leaving that beak alone with temptation?!

Well, maybe he thought he was preening and wanted to share the joy. Who knows what goes on in that little bird brain? (and I say that in only the nicest of possible meanings as said bird is now sitting on my desk and uttering Hello over and over while hitting the phone)

I am thinking of teaching Bert to TINK. If he wants to be involved with knitting and thinks I have made a mistake, the least he can do is treat it with respect and bring me back a few stitches.

Frogging is for major repair work. As in rows and rows and humongous snafu. Not a few stitches.

As you can see, this will only take about 90 seconds and a crochet hook to repair. Working sample will be back on the needles and I can recount the stitches and the repeat. I think the pattern was working out when last I saw it whole and unblemished by That Bird.

At least, upon noting my disgust with his latest escapade, Bert did turn away and hang his head in shame.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sentimental Knitting Journey

Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease

Gonna make a sentimental journey

To renew old memories.....

Memories of knitting long ago. One reason to be truly enamored by all things yarn - spun, knit, crochet, woven - is that everything old is still wonderful! Witness this family treasure that I am honored to own. Knit by my mother's sister-in-law over 40 years ago. She was the only person in our extended family who knit.

"We crochet," was the way Mama explained it to me. As though somehow Aunt Lydia did not quite fit in the family because she used two sticks, and we only use one hook. Please know that at the time I was probably about ten - maybe twelve years old. We crochet. Got it. Francois family tradition. Crochet. Only crochet.

I clearly remember when I broke the family tradition of hooking (oh, get your thinking out of that gutter). It was a knit hat. Ribbed and knit flat then sewn. A festive white and bright orange. It was a gr
and experiment that almost got me demoted in the family because I flirted with the knitting arts. Oh, the shame of a daughter gone to the other side. Mon Dieu!

Isn't Aunt Lydia's cardigan beautiful? Time can't diminish the look, fashion trends return, and once again a Francois is wearing this beautiful red knit at during the holiday season.

Sentimental journey........To renew old memories.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Childhood Memories

Today I am in the glow of memories of holiday seasons long long ago in Louisiana. Yes, it is raining in southern California. Weather like this makes me feel at home. This is my comfort zone. It is hovering around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) with rain dripping and occasionally pouring. This is life. So as wonderful as this Monday is for me, it surely is different than my weekend.

A weekend spent enjoying sun, wind, alone time with the knitting and Jimmy Stewart's "A Wonderful Life." Not sure if it was the alone time (is one ever alone with two dogs for company?), the knitting, the sun, or a cherished movie. Maybe a combination of all. But it is really clicking for me today. Really clicking. Did the hand washing and blocking, did the normal washing, was focused on one meeting and actually looking forward to two more conference calls this afternoon.

I'm in my groove. Here is knitting from the weekend. (as always, click to enlarge)

Here is winter fruit from the weekend.

Here is my goofy self portrait from the weekend.

And I'm still grooving along.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why I Live In SoCal

Eunice, LA
December 11, 2008
My beloved home town

Contrast with:

Riverside, CA
December 12, 2008

Perhaps this is why I live in southern California

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friends Helping Friends

One thing to be absolutely adored about the yarn and fibre community is the whole friends helping friends thing. Today was one of those helping out days. A friend came over for advice on what to do with a much delayed project.

She had purchased a beautiful merino/angora with which to make a wedding gift afghan for her son. As these thing happen, the wedding was last summer. Afghan is not even started. So she was thinking it could be for the first Christmas gift. Afghan is still not started.

Seems the problem is the pattern she chose. It is a bit fiddly. Actually it is a lot fiddly with K2tog but leave stitches on needle and re-knit through first loop----or some such pay attention verbiage. Lovely finished texture. Just not what she wants to do right now.

So we played around with texture and how reversible could this afghan be (she wants total good looking on both sides) and came up with a pattern from decades ago. Something she knit back when a whole book of patterns cost $2.95. Not kidding. That's the price on the book. $2.95. Wow!

Here we are in the considering stage. You will note that tea is required when you really need to analyze and think and plot and plan.

All in all quite fun even if it did take over an hour to accomplish. But it was fun. Just plain fun to worry and fret over a project that I never have to cast on.

HMM. Perhaps I should find the iron and run it over that table cloth.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Twist and Shout

Every now and then a project really takes hold. Really fretted and fidgeted over a next project for moi. You see, I mailed off the washcloth/soap gifts for my committee members, wrapped up Rae's BF B'day knitted gift, and finished the diamond root all within two days.

That leaves a lot of free time. Even managed to toss off four more washcloths as stocking stuffers (shh, don't look). After all that fast knitting - well except for the endless stockinette of the Root - my brain was ready for something more interesting.

Enter the Cabled Cardigan from Classic Elite Knits. Wedded to Lily Chin Gramercy from the stash and voila!

This one will keep me busy.

This one will not be done in two days.

This one will not be a fast knit.

This one will be fabulous (I can feel it already)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Festive Is As Festive Does

Gloating a bit this week. My year long campaign to corrupt the men in my daughters' lives is finally seeing success. Both men left my slightly delayed Thanksgiving table vowing to return for the Christmas gumbo. A man and his bottle of Tabasco is a glorious thing to behold.

You can keep you goose, your clove studded ham and your turkey reprise. Give me day old gumbo filled with shrimp and crab and sausage and it is holiday time in the south. It just don't get any better. Slip in a skillet of cornbread on the side and the men line up like angels at the pearly gates - heaven awaits for sure.

The spirit of the season has taken hold. Earlier this week, my Dave & I had date night at Mission Inn. Mid-week is the perfect time to sit and enjoy the Festival of Lights here in Riverside. If you are in the area, or just want an adventure, it is definitely worth the trek.

Free entertainment. Plenty of photo opportunities; citizens proudly wearing Santa hats; even a scarf or two in anticipation of some inkling of winter. It's a grand display sure to melt Scrooge himself.

This morning was the beginning of the seasonal baking effort. Pumpkin bread with streusel topping for the
guild meeting on Saturday morning. Quite professional looking, don't you think. This topping is the standard flour/sugar/butter mix but with oatmeal, cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg added in. I'm quite proud of the result. And the whole house smells of anticipation.

Oh, and there will be gift exchanging at the meeting. Clearly my ability to wrap a gift is not on par with my skill with sticks and string. There aught to be some parallel. One would think there is the possibility of skill transfer. But, sadly, there is not. Thus, no photo of the exchangeable gift.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yo, Yo, Yo for Ho, Ho, Ho

Well, it is not gonna be your traditional holiday green, but the Rusted Diamond sweater is almost done. As in only eight inches, give or take, of the second sleeve left to knit. Around and around and around. Knit stitches. Nothin' but knit stitches with an occasional (and thus quite thrilling) SSK or k2tog. Over and over and over. Ad infinitum. Ad nausium.

Decided not to add in any diamonds on the sleeve because that would detract from the surprise side detail I thought up all on my own. Because this is done (just as the original Rusted Root from Zephyr Style) in the round, there are no side seams specified or faked. But I did add in one little bit of "ooooh" factor where the side seams would normally sit. Does this make me a designer?

As if my hips aren't spreading enough on their own, I decided to draw attention to them with bright shining white.

Yarn over! Simple eyelets with two stitches between. Yo! Yo! Yo! for Ho! Ho! Ho!

This extremely nonfunctional detail does require that that a marker, pattern placed at the under arm, be carried along row by boring row until it is time to put in the YOs. What row to begin - - any where you want based upon your own body, of course. I, as confessed, placed these quite low down so as to emphasize my holiday hips.

And, if you look carefully, you'll note that the YO eyelets continue through the ribbing at sweater's end.

I-cord to match the diamonds weaves and dangles like trimming on a tree. But I can also vision ribbon woven through for a more delicate look. Of course given that this sweater is cotton, it would need to be gross grain. Had the sweater been done of silk, a lovely gossamer would be quite elegant.

And here we admire the final product.

Woven and dangling

Ready for my hips

Maybe the casual observer will be drawn to the unique detail and fail to notice how far apart the two sides actually are.

Maybe the casual observer will fail to notice how far apart my two sides are.




Monday, December 1, 2008

Warm and Beautiful - It's done

The Collinette throw is totally done. It is perfect. Definitely worth blowing the budget on this one.

The single crochet edge. Hides a lot of sin.

On the bed. I love the way it perks up the gold color scheme. Yep, looks like a bedroom from the south. Cherry spool posts and all. But hey, at least the lamps are electrified!And it even looks wonderful in the living room.