Friday, January 03, 2014

Knitting Rules

I have two rules of knitting. Only two. But they are very important, and breaking them results in heartache. And usually, lots of cussing.

  1. Don't panic. Think something's wrong? Take a moment, breathe, maybe put it away for 5 mins or a day or a month. Then come back and reevaluate. Very often, this has helped me avoid ripping--or forgetting this rule has caused massive rippage.
  2. Read the directions. Yes, really read them. No, don't just scan: read them. All the way through. Now read them again.
These two rules have helped me avoid much pain. Conversely, ignoring them... oh, the sadness. Simple rules. Obey them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Starting over

I haven't blogged for quite some time, but felt the need to write down what's going on in my life.

I'm aiming my life toward being more active and eating better. My former therapist once said, "I don't make resolutions; I make decisions." Last year, I decided my watchword of 2011 would be Simplify. This year, in the spirit of recycling, I'm using the same watchword. It worked well for me last year to make my life less complex when faced with a decision.

My doctor told me last week that exercising 5 or more days a week reduced one's risk of heart disease by 60%. I have been getting up at 6 anyway, but not really doing much. So starting last Tuesday (Monday being a holiday), I got up, put on exercise clothes, and turned on the Wii. I have Let's Dance 2, DDR Ultimate Dance Party 2, Wii Sports, and Wii Play. Lots of options. I exercised 5 out of 6 days. I'm keeping it up this week.

I also got hooked into the 100 Days of Real Food blog. I not only want to eat better, but I want to buy less prepared food. I got three slow-cooker cookbooks at Christmas, and made up a menu on January 1 for the next week and a half. Drew up a shopping list, showed up at Trader Joe's... which was dark. Bleah. Had to shop at Safeway, and was astonished at paying $95 for basics (NO prepared food of any sort). That included a bulk pack of chicken wings for an astonishing $2.99/pound. (The soup recipe called for 10 c of chicken stock, and the book included a recipe to make the chicken stock in the slow cooker, so I tried it out. It was ok... but I'm not sure I saved any money!)

I did a week of recipes out of the 100 Days blog last fall, and most were well received by DS. The whole-wheat biscuits were not--I failed to take into account that they would not rise much, and they were pretty much like thick pieces of cardboard. But I'd like to steer that way in general--whole grains, preparing foods at home, and bringing them for lunches at work. I also want to freeze a fair number of them to keep on hand for last-minute meals instead of something instantish.

We're well on our way, I think.

My menus:
I got 3 cookbooks for Christmas, and my son was reminded that he has the Emeril Lagasse kid's cookbook--and that he says he wants to make 3-4 dinners a week.

Monday--Spaghetti & Meatballs (Emeril), make chicken broth, turkey meatballs (Italian)
Tuesday--Turkey Meatball & Escarole Soup (Italian, but using chard instead of escarole)
Wednesday--Lasagne (Emeril)
Friday--Yellow Lentils (Indian, but using the red lentils I have and cumin seed for the carom seed that I don't have)
Sunday--make white bread to use in meatloaf, Top Ramen soup with lots of vegetables
Monday--Green Lentil & Rice Porridge with lowfat yogurt (Indian)
Tuesday--Slow Cooker Meatloaf (Slow Cooker Revolution)--I made this over Christmas break and it's YUMMY
Wednesday--Chicken Enchilada Casserole (make with canned sauce) (Revolution)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bicycle basket liner

I bought a front bike basket for my bike a few months ago. The main idea was to have a basket in which my little dog, a Chihuahua/Pug mix, could ride. The first one I bought had wires with significant room between them--but was nearly half the price of the Topeak basket that I've linked.

When I went to put it on, the directions were confusing... and I found it had to be permanently mounted. If I wanted to remove it, it would require screwdrivers and wrenches. No, thanks.

The Topeak basket was a b*tch to install, and required some creativity for how to attach a bike light in front, but it's been great. It's not too heavy, not awkward to bike with (I was afraid that it would prevent me from seeing road hazards), and removes easily. The one thing we learned quite quickly was that its mesh is nearly exactly the size of my Chug's nails--that was a painful, bloody lesson. :(

I went Googling, and found a series of bike-basket liners that folks had made. This was my favorite, but unlike others, it has no pattern. I mused and pondered, and today I made a paper pattern.

My son and I have been watching Project Runway, but we rarely saw people make patterns--the show is more likely to show people fitting, sewing, cutting. They mention pattern-making, but don't show much of the process.

I'm here to tell ya: It's hard! I was lucky to have some newsprint from a recent Campmor shipment, but holding it in place inside the basket and making a pattern was definitely a trial-and-error (and mostly error) process.

Then I went looking in my fabrics. I don't have a lot (thank God--I do, however, own 31 miles of yarn), and rediscovered some lovely flower-print fabric that I'm newly enthused about making into curtains. But I did have a good-sized piece of some lovely gold-patterned fabric. I don't know what I'd intended it for (and it now occurs to me that I'll have enough left for pillow covers--new look for the couch!), but I'm using it for this, now.

I have patterns for the base of the basket liner (to be stuffed with fiberfill or with batting, for comfort) and for the outside. I'll put the seam at the back of the basket, and add some sort of stiffener inside. I'm torn between stiff interfacing and plastic mesh. (Opinions welcome!) I do want to include a pocket or two for his leash and maybe my phone.

I can't wait to have a liner--my deadline is June 5, the next Family Ride (scroll down a bit and click on Family Ride). We did the May 1 one and had a blast, but my makeshift basket liner slipped and poor Chester did get his nail caught for a bit--I managed to free it before he injured himself, but it was tense for a moment there.

I'm not sure if it'll be fine as is, or if I should add ties or some sort of magnet-tie-that-sticks-to-itself thing.

Really am looking forward to my basket liner, though!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun meme

A meme I spotted elsewhere (no one tagged me)--

Out of the top 50 yarns on Ravelry (by number of projects):
Bold the ones you’ve used and would use again,
Cross out the ones you’ve used and would not use again,
and italicize the ones you’ve never tried, but would like to.
Add comments as desired, and then pass the meme along to 5 knitters/crocheters.
Link back to this post and to the person who tagged you.

(Comparison to 2008: The only yarns that stayed in the same place were #1 Cascade 220 and #26 Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.)

Ready? Here’s my list:

1, Cascade 220 Wool, 69497 projects – I like it, great yardage, good colors, could be softer.
2, Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted, 61991 projects. Never used it, but I've felt Mmmmmalabrigo in the stores, and am a little afraid of loving it. Spendy!
3, Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids, 56976 projects I wouldn't necessarily choose it, but sometimes it's a necessary evil.
4, Caron Simply Soft, 51663 projects One of the nicer acrylics, a friend introduced me. This one gets to stay.
5, Lily Sugar’n Cream Solid, 47378 projects I do like making dishcloths, even though this hurts my hands a bit.
6, Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Solids and Heathers, 40658 projects
7, Patons Classic Wool Merino, 40223 projects – Love the sweater I made with this. A little too many short fibers for my taste, but the price is right.
8, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Solid, 38033 projects I have some of this in my stash, but haven't knit with it yet. Seems soft enough, and the price was right.
9, Noro Kureyon, 30153 projects I've used Kochoran, so I know how enchanting the colors can be. But I also know weird plasticky fibers will be mixed in! Bleah! Plus, spendy.
10, Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted, 27181 projects Ugh. The mohair makes me crazy.
11, Cascade 220 Heathers, 26893 projects Got some of this in my stash.
12, Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, 25755 projects
13, Noro Silk Garden, 25585 projects If I find it on sale...
14, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, 24959 projects Seems scratchy to me. My sister has some.
15, Lion Brand Homespun, 4296 projects Yuck.
16, Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc Peaches & Creme Solids, 22560 projects
17, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, 22225 projects
18, Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombres & Prints, 22139 projects I love my dishcloths out of this.
19, Cascade 220 Superwash, 21386 projects Seemed even softer than regular 220 to me. Plus, it has a soft spot in my heart, as it's the first yarn DS ever bought me!
20, Patons Classic Wool, 21006 projects Classic Wool Merino is up there at #7. Why are there two entries? Neither has much, if any, merino, IIRC.
21, Plymouth Encore Worsted, 3573 projects Affordable, washable, and soft enough; this one's a staple.
22, Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc Peaches & Creme Ombres, 18685 projects
23, Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky , 17260 projects
24, Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM), 5094 projects Lovely stuff, but way too pricey.
25, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock – Lightweight, 3723 projects Too rich for my blood.
26, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, 16850 projects Hate the low yardage in all the Debbie Bliss yarns.
27, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, 2286 projects Maybe some day, but maybe not.
28, Knit Picks Palette, 1765 projects Wish I could bold it twice. LOVE Palette. Pleasant to knit with, wonderful for stranded projects, lots of colors. My two small peeves: they keep discontinuing colors, and it felts.
29, Malabrigo Sock, 15036 projects
30, Red Heart Super Saver Multis/Ombres, 14548 projects
31, Rowan Kidsilk Haze, 3203 projects Yes,I know why it's called Cracksilk Haze.
32, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, 3751 projects
33, Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica, 14030 projects Some odd colorways. Not crazy about the price/yardage.
34, Malabrigo Lace, 13692 projects
35, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi, 13534 projects
36, Knit Picks Swish Worsted, 12397 projects
37, Dream in Color Classy, 1838 projects SO spendy!
38, Knit Picks Stroll Solids, Heathers & Tweeds, 11834 projects
39, Zitron Trekking (XXL), 3348 projects I have some in my stash. It's really fine. Knit on size 0s? Gad.
40, Berroco Comfort Solids & Heathers, 11771 projects
41, Noro Kureyon Sock, 11661 projects I have some in my stash. Super thin and sometimes uneven. But the colorways, oh the colorways.
42, Dream in Color Smooshy, 11601 projects
43, Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash, 11598 projects
44, Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, 11473 projects
45, Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca, 11351 projects
46, Bernat Satin Solids, 11148 projects
47, Cascade Ecological Wool (Eco-Wool), 11107 projects Not the softest stuff, but the yardage is great, and the new colors are amazing.
48, Colinette Jitterbug, 2090 projects Beautiful colorways, but absolutely crap yardage, especially for the price.
49, Red Heart Soft Yarn Solids, 10851 It is really soft. For my friends who would felt something made from Cascade 220.
50, Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn! Solids, 10741 projects. I might knit with this, but we have no Hobby Lobby.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I love kid socks

I think this is the fastest pair of socks I've ever finished: 9 days. He loves them, and while I was knitting on them yesterday and showing him my progress, he asked me to finish them (1' of cuff ribbing in contrast color) so he could wear them today. I had to weave in a number of ends, but it felt great to lay down the pair on the chair by his bed at the end of the evening!

The yarn is from my friend Rabbitch, and I got it from her at Stitches West this year (along with some other riches). I made a full pair of socks for me, and G asked for a pair "just like yours"--except not: without the patterning, just a generic sock but in the same yarn. Fortunately, the skein was a generous 430 yards, so even after finishing the pair, I have several yards left over. I had thought to knit up the calf as far as I could go and then finish off with the grey, but once I got as high as it was, G said that was long enough.

I used the toe-up sock with heel flap pattern from Charlene Schurch's first "Sensational Knitted Socks" book, which is a little Chinese-menu-ish (For XX stitches, do this; for YY stitches, this; etc.), but most of it is pretty straightforward. The transition from the heel flap to the gusset stitches was a little challenging, as it required switching the yarn and then picking up stitches in an order different from theirs (as theirs didn't have contrast heels), but it worked out.

I also got to finally implement an idea that's been bumping around my head for a while: the use of a marked poker chip to keep track of sock-toe increases and of heel decreases. I started using it on the first sock's heel, so I marked one side "K" and the other "dec" with little pieces of sticky notes. Then, when I was on a "K around" side, I had the "K" side up, and as I got to the back of the heel, I just flipped it over. This way, when I got to the other side, I could just glance over and know that this was a dec round--and not end up with extra, undecreased stitches on one side and not on the other, which always seems to happen.

I used it again when I started the (patch) toe for the second sock: one round has M1 on the 2nd stitch in from the edge, all around; the other round is just a K round. It meant that the increases were even, rather than ending with 12 stitches on all needles but one, which had 9 or 10 (this always seems to happen, too). I love this new method. And when I walk away, or knock it off, I can carefully study my knitting to know which side to put up, and then don't really have to think much for the rest of the toe (or heel).

Oh, here's my socks from the same yarn. The bottoms of the soles are the same pattern as his. I love the pseudo-stripiness. The yarn is between an aqua and a teal, if the color seems a little turquoisey. They're called "Percy Jackson socks" because the pattern is Poseidon by Elinor Brown. If you don't fully get the reference, read "The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan.
Percy Jackson socks

Monday, February 22, 2010

Long time, no writing about knitting

I've decided to start up writing about my knitting again, rather than publish 140-character comments.

I'm currently working on Alice Starmore's "Henry VIII" from "Tudor Roses," and it is a challenge... but apparently one I'm up to. I'm on row 30, which is great except when you realize I need to be past row 64 and well into the second set of 64 rows for the Knitting Olympics/Ravelympics. Well, at least it all looks good, and the worst mistake I've done lately is to knit two 10-stitch sections wrong, an action that was easily undone in the next time around.

Henry, row 30

The body is steeked (I didn't end up including it in the photo) so as to make a cardigan, and the openings for the arms will be steeked soon, in the second repeat of 64 stitches, I think. I made a tea cozy for me with steeks to give myself some practice. (No whiskey needed.)

Next on my queue is a smart scarf for G's teacher, for an end-of-the-year gift. I've chosen my Rowan Wool-cotton for it that I got on some sale or other. It's a sort of steel blue.

Coming up are some more fingerless mitts for my mom, who suffers from Reynaud's syndrome. Her fingertips go completely white sometimes. My theory is that if I can warm the pulse, the warm blood might help avoid some of the Reynaud's. I have a silk/wool size S sweater I'm going to unravel, retwist, and knit with.

And then, another sweater. I got some nearly-kelly-green yarn from Herrschner's in a bumpy, tweedy blend. I'm hoping it'll do nicely for a Rosemary's Swing Jacket.

I could go back and list the projects I've done since I last blogged, but I'm choosing to move forward on this. I'll try to update on projects and thoughts for the future. For now, I'm really enjoying what I am working on.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Phew, it's done

Finished the tea cozy (felted, steeked, buttons and i-cord applied) and gave it to Mom for her birthday. She seems genuinely pleased. (I'll post a finished picture of it later.) It is still too large for her teapot, but does look nice, really. (Glad I felted it down!)

I had her try on the stranded sweater I had been making her, to prove to both of us that it was way too big. Yeah, by about 7". She does want it to be big, but it's ridiculously big. I unraveled it to the start of the stranding and will try again with size 9 needles, and see if I can still get gauge.

The other projects going on are
  • iPod cozy. This started out as a project for using up leftover sock yarn, and was to be a cover for purse-sized tissue packs. Then I needed a cozy for my new iPod, which was being protected by a cotton ankle sock. Finished it and it works great. (I still have another ball of that yarn and will make a tissue cozy for it. Unfortunately, Ravelry has no tissue cozies written for sock yarn!)
  • Birch from Rowan. I'm definitely getting on to the end, but still have more than 10 sections between stitch markers, so even though they repeats are getting faster as I have fewer stitches, it is not really racing to the end line. No matter; I've finally memorized the pattern and can do it anywhere. Still loving the Smoke-colored Cracksilk Haze.
  • Square for a love quilt. Lovely Witt passed away and we're making a love quilt/blanket for his partner. I struggled with it and forgot the wool at home (because I couldn't bear to think about it, I think) and bought a ball of blue-green Cascade 220 Superwash at a Portland yarn store. Found a neat heart-shaped cable pattern in a Melissa Leapman book, but the swatch is already too wide and I lost my place as to which line of the pattern I was on. *sigh*
In other news, I've worn my Swallowtail nearly every day, as despite the warmer-than-usual weather most days, the house is still a bit chilly, and Mom is averse to turning on the heat or making a small fire in her woodstove. I love that the alpaca is so light yet so warm.