Thursday, November 30, 2006

I celebrate my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo

it's quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
you're my reason to get out of bed before noon

Her name is Shirley and she's been a long time coming. I first got the Knitted Babes book probably three weeks ago, and dropped everything and started knitting with some brown lamb's pride I had hanging around. Well, I misread one word in the pattern and everything went horribly wrong. I knew the pattern was flawed as I read it, but I thought I would have faith and see it through, but in this case the results were not pretty. I ripped it out and went to bed. The next day I didn't go to the gym at lunch, instead I walked over to the quilt/fine yarn shop and combed through the yarn they have scattered from room to room. The only yarn I found that was remotely acceptible was an oatmeal coloured skein of Silky Wool, a 65% wool/35% silk blend that was heavenly to the touch. That night I knitted the new babe top down and in the round, like a sock, on size 3 addi turbo circular needles. Then I stitched on her hair, the same brown yarn I'd frogged the night before.

I was procrastinating the eyes until I had a good block of time without my daughter around, so I worked on other related projects, making her first a bathing suit, and then working diligently on a hoodie. For being a doll item, the hoodie has been taking far too long and I'm tired of it already, but it still needs one more sleeve and a hood.

On Saturday, my daughter had a guest, and I had time to myself to work on the dolly. I initially cut out the eyes directly from the pattern in the book. Yuck! She looked like a vampiric owl. I trimmed and snipped the eyes down to a better size and sewed them on. I was horrified. She was hideous. I emailed a picture of "frankenbabe" to Ember and bawled to her about my disasterous babe, and how I'd done my very best and it wasn't good enough and I couldn't expect to do any better. I was ready to throw out the entire project.

Then I girded up my loins, oh yes I did, and went back to my room and ripped off not just her face, but her hair, too! I realized that her hair was on crooked, and therefore I couldn't put the face on right. I made several versions of the eye until it finally looked right. I really wanted to use a nice grey/hazel coloured wool felt I had, but those eyes never looked right, so I finally ran downstairs and found some fleece in a good eye colour and used that. Since those eyes looked okay, it turned out that the babe has blue eyes.

Once I had a face on that looked okay, I felt alright about proceeding with the project. Next up I started on the dress, only knitting top down, so I could decide how long it should be. What a fiasco! The pattern was difficult to understand. My first version was knitted according to the pattern, only with a needle 2 sizes larger than what the pattern suggested. It was soon obvious that the dress would never ever fit on the babe. The next night I tried again, knitting a back waist into the dress. After a few rows, it was obvious it was too big and just awkward. That night, lying in bed, I finally had a flash of inspiration that allowed me to understand what the pattern was intending. The next night, I started again, adding some increases into the bodice. By the time the increases got the bodice the right size, the bodice was too long. On the FOURTH night, I frogged back yet again, removing several increase rows, to keep the bodice short, and finally finding the perfect width for the bodice. Finally I was happy and proceeded! Today I had a great deal of knitting time, as I used my comp day to sub for my husband, and I knitted in class all day. I finished the dress, and it turned out fabulous!

Here are the changes I made to the dress pattern: I started top down, and knit each strap in a separate colour, so I didn't need to break and rejoin any yarn. I followed the pattern in reverse until the point where I would have increased to 19 stitches. Instead of casting on 2 and 2 stitches, I created those extra two stitches by knitting into the ends of the straps, making the cap sleeves while adding the stitches. After knitting 4 rows at 19 stitches, i started increasing (knit into the front and back of the stitch) one stitch from both the beginning and end, alternating an increase row with a knitting row. I did this until I had knit 12 rows from the cap sleeves, and then took up with the pattern again, increasing as it said to decrease. I always made sure the increases happened when I was knitting on a right side row. Once the skirt was long enough, I bound it off with a crochet hook, by crocheting one stitch, then * crocheting a 3-stitch chain, then crocheting to the next 2 stitches, repeat from * until the end of the row, ending with a crocheted stitch. It gave it a gorgeous little edge.

quick gym notes

I finally made it to the elliptical trainer on Monday and Tuesday, but the rest of the week has not been conducive to gym stuff. I won't make it water aerobics tomorrow, either.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gym Notes

Sunday was one of those memorable autumn days, where it's clear and crisp, but just warm enough in the sun. I watched my kids play in the leaves at a downtown park, and then while they were playing with friends, went for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood park. It was a nice hour long walk.

Monday I was home with a sick girl, and Tuesday I forgot my gym bag. Wednesday was another lovely autumn day at the park with some friends, but not much exercise. Today, after our non-traditional Thanksgiving feast deluxe, we took a lovely walk around the park again, with a little stop for the kids to romp the playground, until we parents got too cold. With the gym closed for the rest of the week, I'll have to enjoy these sunny autumn days for my exercise.

American Girl Hat and Scarf

I started these a while back, but finished them tonight. I used Andes handpaint, the remnants left from my felted bag experiment. I wind up spending a lot of time thinking about that two-toned yarn, trying to figure out how to get the most of out it. I really put a lot into that felted bag, though the results were less than spectacular. The colours seemed to knit up nicely for the doll clothes, though!

The set is intended as a Christmas treat for my daughter and her best friend. They play American Girl Dolls all the time, so one of the sets is to give to the friend. My daughter already knows about them, and is genuinely pleased with the set. She made the pompoms. Well, she wrapped the pompoms, I finished the first, she nearly finished the second.


While I tried many reversible cable patterns, none of them looked good with that width and that colour pattern, so I just knit it in garter stitch, 6 stitches per row. I used a size 9 needle. When it was long enough, I added a fringe in red to give it a finished look.


I wanted 2 matching hats, so I made more of a beanie than the toque I was planning, and just barely finished them, with only 2 yards of yarn left. Knit on a size 9 Addi circular needle, at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch. The hats came out roomy, too.

Cast on 69 stitches. Join without twisting: Pass last stitch over first stitch, then start knitting on the first stitch. (68 stitches)

k2p2 ribbing for six rows

k for 4 rows.

k6,[k2tog,k5]4 times. k6,[k2tog,k5]4 times. 60 stitches.
k for 2 rows
[k2tog,k4] to end of row. 50 stitches.
k for 2 rows
[k2tog,k3] to end of row. 40 stitches
k for 2 rows
[k2tog,k2] to end of row. 30 stitches
k for 2 rows
[k2tog,k] to end of row. 20 stitches.
k for 2 rows
k2tog to end of row. 10 stitches.
k2tog to end of row. 5 stitches.
Pull yarn through stitches, pull tight. Weave in ends securely.

Add a pompom if you'd like.

I plan to leave about 4 rows between the decrease rows next time to make a toque.


These were finished and mailed to the recipient about a week after her birthday. I haven't yet heard if they arrived. Just before putting them into the mail, the temporary librarian told me they were way too small for adult hands. Just like her. I made them just a little too small for me, because I wanted them to fit her snugly. I hope they're not truly abysmally small, that lady says a lot of things so I don't take it too seriously.

I knit them cuff up using size 4 needles. The cuff was a 2x2 rib, and then the mittens were knit in a faire isle pattern. I used Karabella Aurora 8 and Schoeller & Stahl's Limbo. The thumb was done in the style of a planned afterthought heel, leaving live stitches so I could come back and put in the thumb afterwards. I had troubles picking up the stitches and that got a little messy. I should have made notes immediately. I think I knitted the cuff with 56 stitches around, and then increased to 64 for the hand.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

This week's gym escapades.

Monday, elliptical walker, 1,88 miles.
Thursday, elliptical walker, 2.35 miles.
Friday, water aerobics.

I didn't work out all that much longer on Thursday than Monday, I wonder if I really pushed it harder or if the two machines are just callibrated differently.

On Friday, instead of the really cool teacher who is older than me, who's there to work out and even if no one shows up she'll do the class because she likes the work out, there was a substitute, a spunky young college student, who asked if I really wanted to do it, since I was the only one. As tempting as it was to just go home, I really knew I should work out, so I went ahead with it. She stood on the edge of the pool and told me what to do. As I'm hard of hearing it was extremely uncomfortable for me because she cranked the music and I was straining the entire time to hear her instructions. She probably got paid for the class whether I stayed or not, so I made her work for her fee. It was interesting to experience another kind of class, though. I also told her to make it 45 minutes instead of the hour, which was nice.

The college had a health fair, and you were entered into a drawing if you filled out a health evaluation. So I did. The dang thing scolded me for not working out enough. As I feel like I'm making great progress, I was pretty miffed! It also told me to run, not walk, to a doctor because I was at risk for pre-diabetes because I had a baby bigger than 9 pounds and I only work out 3 times a week. Huh? I'll ask at my next pap exam.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I have a copy of The Memory Keeper's Daughter on my desk. It's being added to our collection, but because I was looking at it and had dropped it on my desk, it didn't get catalogued when the rest of the books in its set did. So it's still awaiting the next batch of cataloguing and processing. I can't really check it out until it's processed, but I've been taking it with me on my breaks and reading. While reading, the breaks go by way too fast. The book is entrancing. I'm probably about 40% through it. I hate to put it down. I'll have to catalogue it soon so I can bring it home and stay up too late finishing it. I have to do it very soon so I can justify reading and not feel guilty ignoring another impending school paper.

Homework galore

Well, I stayed home from work, sick, on Thursday, so I didn't get any gym time that day. Friday was my comp day, and the entire day was spent on my 550 group project paper, being my turn to write. I finished it at midnight, and the other group members tidied it up and submitted it Saturday. I had intended to do water aerobics on Friday but was so caught up in the work that I forgot. I worked Saturday and then in the evening went to a lovely dinner party. Today I worked all day on my 567 project, in which I marketed library services to pregnant and parenting teens. It's due in an hour and I'm ready to turn it in. I really shouldn't keep doing this last-minute thing, but it keeps turning out that way. Part of the problem is that last year, I did most of my school work during lunch hours and breaks, and this year, I'm going to the gym, and sneaking off to knit during my lunch hours and breaks. In September, I was going to the media room during my lunch hour to watch Cary Grant movies and knit, which was really fun, but it did suck to have to turn it off when my clock said my time was up, and I really am glad to be going to the gym when I can.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gym Freak

Monday: 25 min, elliptical walker
Tuesday: 30 min, water jogging
Wednesday: 27 min, elliptical walker (2.1 miles--I have never paid attention to this number, but I think it was higher today than it ever was. I was pushing it really hard because it felt really good to)

I have never been a very athletic person. Growing up, "athletic" meant "good at ball games". And with my visual disability, I couldn't see well enough to develop any skill at ball games. When I think back, I realize that ball games were justifiably terrifying to me: I couldn't see the ball until it was quite close, and so balls would tend to just come out of nowhere. By the time I had my surgeries when I was 12 years old, the damage had been done. I hated ball games so much that I didn't want anything to do with sports of any kind.

So this urge to go work out every day is surprising and foreign to me. And while I have little faith it will last, I start going more and more often. Maybe it will last!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fiery socks, once again

I tried to take a better picture of the fiery socks, because I really do like that yo-cable pattern.


The mittens are making steady progress. I made them to fit slightly small on me, presuming that would properly fit a less overtall individual. I pondered making the two mittens match perfectly, but after careful consideration, decided that in this case I preferred them to be non-identical. In socks, I generally really prefer that the two halves match.

it's a tough life

Sleep. Eat. Kill a beanie baby. Rinse. Repeat. No wonder she's exhausted.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Swap-y Thing-y

I spend quite a bit of time strolling through knitting blogs, well, for many reasons. It certainly is really enlightening to see what other people are doing. I've seen swaps, and decided that I would try one out. I joined a mitten-kit swap, because its timing is good. I won't have to pull something off while in school, but can put it together over the holidays.

So. I have to post a questionnaire thingie. Here it is. A Questionnaire thingie.

What are your favorite colors?

I like purples and greens. Blues, too.

Are you a new mitt knitter? How long have you been knitting mittens?

I have knit 3 pairs of mittens. One of those 3 is presently in progress. The other two were for my kidlets, and were knit 3 winters ago.

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn?

Yes, and yes. I'm in love with colours. Solids can be so gorgeous. But I'm always sucked in by multi-colour yarns. I really like stripes, stripes that are more than a row or two before changing colour.

What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn?

Natural fibers. Wool.

Where do you usually knit mittens?

I'm a highly mobile knitter. I knit them at home in front of the tv or in front of an online-lecture. I also knit them at work in the break room, or when I'm on a walk. Or in the car. Or in a box. Or with a fox.

How do you usually carry/store small projects?

If I'm not at work, they're tucked in my cargo pockets. But at work I have to be all work-dressy-lady, so then they get stashed in a project bag and taken along.

What are your favorite mitten patterns?

I've never used a pattern.

What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques?

I make a sock with no heel and a hole for the thumb. And make it hand-sized. A little shaping between the wrist and the cuff. That does it.

What new techniques would you like to try?

I'm open to whatever comes my way.

What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens?

Addi turbos.

What are some of your favorite yarns?

I knit a lot of regia self-striping yarns, and Trekker XL.

What yarn do you totally covet?

Whatever yarn I see/touch/glimpse in the yarn store. I really dig hand-dyes like Manos del Uraguay.

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object?

Meg Swanson's Frost Flowers and Leaves from A Gathering of Lace. I started this once, but I really needed to concentrate on smaller projects.

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)?

I am hooked on circs. I get Addis when I can, I've not found any other needles that transfer from cable to needle like they do. I've never tried the knit picks needles, though.

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be?

something stripey, chunky, and woolen in purples and blues.

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack?

dark chocolate!

What’s your favorite animal?

owl. bear.

Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts?

super warm.

If you were a color what color would you be?


What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature?

celestial bodies.

Do you have a wishlist?


Anything else you’d like to share with the group today?

If I think of something I'll edit it in.

faire isle mittens

I've started a fabulous pair of mittens. I'm not going to try to post a picture. I've been discouraged with the quality of my camera's pictures. I cannot seem to get anything to show in detail.

I actually finished the fiery socks earlier this week. I tried to take a picture with a camera at work, and the socks were equally lacking in definition, so I wonder if it's perhaps my photo-taking techniques. The yarn-over cables look cool. The socks do not fit my son, but I have faith that one day they will.

The mittens are in honour a friend's birthday. The bday is today, which means, of course, that she won't get them on time, because I'm still on mitten number one. However, I'm very proud of the mittens. It's a variegated Limbo, in autumny colours, paired with an olive green merino. They look gorgeous, so hopefully I'll be able to get a half-decent picture before I mail them off.

water aerobics

I've been to the gym four times this week. Last night was water aerobics. I was the only student, so I had a pretty intense one-on-one session. The teacher was very nice. I've ordered books for her, because she's an English teacher. She told me that water aerobics were great because they don't hurt, but damned if I don't ache like madness today.

Friday, November 03, 2006

gym notes

Monday and Thursday were my days for the elliptical walker. Both times I'm walking harder than before.