Sunday, December 30, 2007

Felting fun and New Year's Resolutions

I’ve been slightly obsessed with felting Fuzzy Feet and other things. I’ve received so many complements on the slippers I’ve made that are so easy to make. The fuzzy feet pattern from is just like making a sock on Size 10.5 needles. They seem to knit up fast. Where socks knitted on Size 2 needles can frustrate and bore me to no end, these seem the opposite. I can make a pair in about 2-3 days.

Now that Christmas is over, I can again make some things for me. I started some fuzzy feet slippers for me in Red, my favorite color, at this time. Red is so bright and alive and lovely. A very warm and passionate color. After knitting these up I perused some of my felting pattern books. In the book Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas, I found a pattern for an oven mitt. It calls for Bulky weight yarn. I had some blue and red Patons Classic Wool (worsted weight) left over so I doubled it and knitted up a mitt.

After I put them into the machine to felt, they came out great.

My sister-in-law has been staying with us over the holidays and I asked her if she wanted me to make her some. She wanted a baby blue color. I made a trip to Michaels to get some yarn, but to my dismay, they didn’t have the color I wanted. They did, however, have some off white, so I decided to buy 2 skeins and dye it myself. I used some Createx liquid dye, mixing Blue Marine with Turquiose, in the immersion pot, and came out with the perfect color I wanted.


This year, I am making a commitment to using up my stash and reduce my UFO’s (unfinished objects). My New Years resolution is to either reduce my 20+ UFO’s to half in the next 2008 year. I am either going to finish them or frog them. This will be very hard for me, as I tend to get very sentimental and attached to some. It’s hard to think about all the work one puts into a project, just to rip it all out. I suppose as I’ve gotten older, I am realizing that life is just too short and I need to start “cleaning house” and make my life simpler.

Priority UFO’s to Finish

Walter’s Blue Cardigan
Branching out scarf
Crocheted Mocha Roca
Adult Surprise Jacket

UFO’s to Finish
Started % Completed Name of Project
Apr 06 80% Tropical Acrylic Shrug
Feb 06 60% Blueberry Ice wrap baby sweater
Feb 06 60% Yellow Baby Blanket
Mar 06 90% Crayon colored stripe sweater set
Pre-2000 50% Rasperry Fair Isle Mittens
Pre-2000 99% Robby’s Piano Socks
Jun 05 60% Natural Wool striped scarf
Pre-2000 99% Off White Aran Afghan
Dec 05 40% Knit Picks Multicolored FairIsle Vest
Jun 07 60% Lace Anklet

Think about frogging

Jan 06 40% Red Chenile Capelet
Pre-2000 50% White Cotton Sampler Vest
Pre-2000 80% Mohair Scarf
June 05 50% Black/Multi color Handspun sweater
(I can’t even remember what this looks like??)
Jun 05 25% Philosopher’s Technique Fair Isle Sweater
June 05 75% Cotton Flag sweater (Would probably bleed after the first wash anyway)
June 05 50% Blue Cotton crochet vest
Fall 05 50% Color Fair Isle Wool sock (?) Second sock syndrome
Pre-2000 50% Diamonds Woman’s sweater
Pre-2000 75 % Bulky Vest
July 07 10% Handspun Tencel Dog Paw’s Shawl
Oct 2007 30% Dad’s tofusies socks

Think about giving away to someone who can sew it up together or finish
Pre-2000 80% Baby Granny Square Blanket

Wow! I’ve already reduced the number of projects in half, at least in paper only, the real work will be much more difficult emotionally.

A frogging will I go…..A frogging will I go…Hi Ho the merry-oooh…a frogging will I go. ; D

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Glorious Family Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas day! A lot of fun and food from dawn to dusk. I managed to cook breakfast and dinner for about 15.
A summary of the days activities:

7:30 All my sons and friend, grandchild and her mom, came over to open stockings. A very happy time. Grandaughter, 16 mo toddled about, opening her gifts and pulling the ornaments off the tree. She’s loosing her baby fat from all her non-stop activity.

9:00 Breakfast buffet cooked: Menu Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Potatoes Obrien, French toast, Muffins, Juices, Coffee and Egg Nog. Everything was very yummy.

10:00 We opened our tree presents. Youngest son plays Santa Claus passing out presents. Knitted gifts fit recipients perfectly. We vegetated and enjoyed our presents for a few hours. My son gave me a great book, The Field Guide to Knitting and I also received two Zimmerman DVD’s The Knitting Workshop and Knitting Around. My new Ipod nano will allow me to see videos as well as audio podcasts. Below are some knitted Christmas presents I made for friends and family.

This year my husband planned a "12 days of Christmas" treasure hunt for my middle son. He had to search for a DVD clue that lead to a clue. On the 12th day he found his Christmas present. It was fun watching him look for all the clues.
The other night while I was dozing off I decided to listen the Lime & Violet Holiday Podcasts. The music was hilarious. I laughed all the way to dreamland. If you haven’t heard it, you must check it out. It is 50 min and hilarious Christmas music to knit by.

1:00 We had six of us break up into two teams of 3 for the Christmas Scavenger hunt. We had to take pictures of as many landmarks and items within the city, on a list, within one hour and be back to the house. This was a lot of fun. Each team had a member familiar with the city. One was the driver, one was the navigator and one was the picture taker. What a sight to see this 50+ old lady run up the street taking pictures of street signs and Christmas lawn decorations. Although, it was a lot of fun, I kept hoping the house owners would not sic their dogs on me taking pictures. We reviewed the pictures to validate the items on the list and our team won by two items. Our prize was a beautiful gift basket filled with gift cards to the movies and restaurants, assorted candies, nuts and limeaid drinks, which was donated by family members.

4:30 Dinner buffet of honey-baked ham, seasoned potatoes, vegetable, fruit, rolls and assorted desserts, candies and cookies. Greatgrandparents arrived, and uncle and girl friend arrived to share in dinner. After dinner we sang Christams Carols and my middle son played a special Christmas solo on piano. More presents opened and dessert and goodies were yummy.

10:00 This grandma is very tired and ready to collapse. It was a good family day. I count my blessings and God’s goodness that we can share Christmas together.

What’s next? Planning for the New Year’s Knitting resolutions……stay tuned.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Feeling of Christmas

This year the feeling of Christmas is different. Everything around seems to add to the excitement and feeling of Christmas. I wonder how and why it is different this year as compared with others. Here’s my list of reasons that may have contributed to the feeling of Christmas.

Department stores started putting out Christmas merchandize before Halloween this year. This is earlier than ever before. This definitely got people thinking of Christmas shopping early this year.

The local radio stations started playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. What a joy to hear “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” in November. I never get tired of hearing Christmas music all year.

Tragedy always seems to foster hope and giving. Southern California was devastated with humongous fires in the fall and the community stepped right up to help. Although loss is hard to take, I think perhaps that sometimes God uses (allows for) tragedy to get our minds and hearts on the right track. Instead of selfish self-centeredness, we offer compassion and giving. Isn’t this the real meaning of Christmas? Just as the innkeeper gave housing to Mary and Joseph in time of need, so we, too, can give in different ways.

Starting with Thanksgiving the weather has turned colder and stayed rather crisp. The feeling of winter, of bundling up in warm sweater and hats, makes it feel like Christmas. It’s been snowing in the mountains. We’ve had some very needed rain, hoping to relieve the drought we are experiencing across the nation.

Listening to the knitting pod casts talk about starting Christmas knitting in July started me thinking what I could make as presents this year. It did seem ridiculously early to be knitting warm things when the temperature is over 100 degrees, at least here in California. But what the heck, let’s distress your life. Why put off tomorrow, what you can do today?

And oh my gosh! What interesting new projects ideas where available, especially with the introduction of Ravelry. Creative minds can now support each other. We had some online help and advice at the touch of a keyboard. What a miracle of miracles for us isolated knitters. We will never be lonely again.

My family is much more involved in Christmas preparations. We have opened our home to whoever needs a place to go for Christmas. We are having my son’s friend come on Christmas. We have invited my brother’s girlfriend’s 18-yr old daughter join us too. We are making Christmas stockings. My middle son is planning a Christmas Scavenger Hunt and preparing a large gift basket for the winners. My youngest son is extremely happy to have an income to buy and give meaningful Christmas presents this year. My husband is making a Christmas treasure hunt with clues for a special member of the family. And I have knitted so many things to give as special gifts this year.

Finally, I am just extremely grateful to see all this Christmas excitement flow through our family with love and admiration. Thank you God for a special family. My hope is that you will experience the same “Glow of Christmas”, which may last all year round.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Stockings & A New Knitting Friend

I spent the weekend relapsing with a cold. This has not been my year for being healthy. On the other hand, it has forced me to take the time to rest and do something quiet and relaxing… knitting. This year I’ve finished a few more knitted gifts as Christmas presents. I finished another pair of felted slippers, some wrist warmers and am working on a quick hat. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I love this holiday!

Years ago, when I was an “at-home mom”, raising my young sons, I had more time to prepare for Christmas. Many happy traditions were started, making Christmas a special time for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. One of those traditions was making Christmas stockings for family members. One year I made simple felt stockings for my three sons with felted Christmas scenes telling the Christmas story of Jesus birth. The boys loved these stockings and refused to have me purchase new ones, even though silverfish and moths slowly showed their work in nibbling small holes in the felt. This year, I just couldn’t bear to display these stockings any longer, and decided to remake the scenes in new stockings just like the originals. This also gave me an opportunity to add a few stocking scenes for our new members of the family. Below are some of the results. I mentioned that we would be having a guest for Christmas this year. One of my son’s friends will be joining us for Christmas as her family vacations in Mexico. I wanted to make her a stocking. I asked my son what color of felt I should buy? He said she likes black, grey and white. I was a little taken aback. Not black for Christmas! Black is not a happy color. I can’t make a black stocking! What kind of scene can I put on a black stocking? The more I thought about it, slowly an idea came to mind that would definitely depict part of the Christmas story. Below is the result…… She came over the other day and had a chance to see it. She loves the black stocking and says she really likes the scene. Something to warm this mom’s heart. But this was not all…... Lo and behold, she asked if I had some extra knitting needles and yarn because she wanted to knit something. DO I HAVE YARN!!!???

What a joy to behold….a person who knits!!! I was in heaven! How could I refuse her anything? I proudly showed her my stash and had her pick out some straight needles and yarn. She picked out a purple colored wool/acrylic yarn (WoolEase). She said she learned how to knit from her “Nana” but she did not know how to cast on, so I showed her how. She started a scarf. She was a little embarrassed about her skill but I gave her as much encouragement as I could. Everyone starts the same way. It just takes doing and practicing to get better. I hope she continues to learn and practice. I am so thrilled to have someone to talk about knitting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fuzzy Feet

I finished the second slipper of the Knitty “Fuzzy Slippers”. Believe it or not I was about 2 yards short of yarn on one skein and had to use a little of the second skein.

Today I felt them in the washer. I put them in a garment bag with a towel. I added some detergent and hot water on a fast cycle. Every 5 minutes I checked the size until it reached the size I wanted. The slippers came out great. It will probably take a few days to dry completely, but they look very promising for the perfect slipper.
I usually don’t like knitting socks but these seemed to knit up fast. I may try to do another pair before Christmas. The next pair, I may try some stripes

Sunday, December 9, 2007

In Search of the Perfect Slipper

I am on a quest for the perfect slipper pattern. With Chrismas in a few weeks, I am wanting to make something handmade for someone. I was thinking this would be a quick project. I bought a few balls of acrylic bulky Mon Dea Yarn Indigo Run color and found an easy pattern.

As I searched the Internet I found an easy looking pattern called “Knitting Pattern for for Short Row Slippers by Beth Stambaugh. I knitted one for a size 7 or 8 shoe. After knitting up one slipper, I didn’t like it. It has the right amount of springiness but I didn’t like the holes in the short rows.

So I searched for another pattern. By accident a came across a Slipper boot on The Knitting Fiend blog by Lucia. This had a slipper calculator that given the shoe size or length desired, it created a pattern, calculating the stitches needed at each step in the pattern. This pattern from the start seemed like it would be nice, but it became very complicated and I realized that this yarn just wasn’t going to bounce and stretch like this pattern called for. My slipper came out a little larger than anticipated and didn’t look at all like the nice snug shapely boot in the picture. Perhaps if I used a different yarn, it would be better? So the search went on.

Well, so far I have two single slippers that I have no desire to repeat and finish making the mates. I was searching under “knit slippers” and found a pattern for Fuzzy Feet by Theresa Vinson Stenersen on Knitty website. I had some Patons Classic Wool and started this pattern for a gigantic anklet that is intended to be felted to fit. Now, socks patterns I have done before so this seems easy, so far. The challenge will be felting it to fit, which I haven’t yet done.

One slipper is done and I am progressing to make the second one. The slipper is HUMONGOUS! For a slipper that I hope will fit a Size 7 foot, I had to make it 12-13 inches long. Right now it would fit a small GIANT! I think I have to put the two slippers together in the washing machine because I want them the same proportion of shrinkage. I am hoping that I will have enough yarn on the one ball to make the second slipper with the remainder of the skein.

Stay tuned......

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Seeking Christmas Knitting Inspiration

I’m sitting here staring at my blog, trying to get some inspiration to write…….Nothing…..well, maybe something……

I've been trying to get into the Christmas spirit. Christmas music is playing on the radio. I love Christmas music. We got our tree and it has lights, but haven’t had the energy to put any ornaments on it yet. Keep wondering if I should buy some new ones. I’m kind of bored with the old ones. Or made I need to makes some. My husband got busy and put up the house Christmas lights. I think he’s more into this Christmas Spirit than I am this year. Of course, he is planning a special gift hunt with clues for someone special in our family this year as he has done for several years now.

I’ve been wanting to give handmade gifts but the projects I’ve started are going to take time to finish, and I may not complete them in time. So I’ve been thinking about what quick and easy gifts I can make. I started another scarf and some slippers. I wish there were more creative ideas for simple knit gifts, especially for men. It’s not cold enough for men, at least here in California, to wear knit hats. It’s too warm. We need more guy knitters in this world to give us more ideas of what they like.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Birthday Poncho

I didn’t quite finish the baby poncho I was hoping to give my cousin’s son for his 1st birthday. I did however, take it with me to work on. This family gathering was one made up of sons and daughters and children of cousins whom I haven’t seen in awhile or rather infrequently. Picking up my knitting was the ice breaker I needed to get some conversation started. It was also a warm task on a very cold day. The main party was outside, but I spent the majority of time inside to avoid any chance of relapsing into sickness from over exposure to the cold. Once I got home, I work into the wee hours of the night and early in the morning to finish it.

I realized midway that I would not have enough grey Jiffy yarn from my stash and was hoping at least to complete to poncho part with the grey. To my dismay I was about 6 rows short. I had already decided to knit the hood and pocket with another color I had partial skeins of.

What was I to do about the grey? I looked in my stash to see if there was any scraps left of Jiffy grey to no avail. Even a trip to Michael’s was disappointing, no dark grey was to be found. I did, however, find a Wool Ease worsted that I could double for bulky weight and bought it. It worked out great and the missing Jiffy and substituted Wool Ease is on the back side of the poncho and the colors are close enough meld into the fabric.

Here are the results…….

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December Project Update

Can you believe it? It’s December! Twenty five days till Christmas. Another year almost done. I thought I’d give you an update on all my latest projects on my needles.

My favorite right now is a Hooded Baby Poncho. I saw this pattern on the LionBrand newsletter and was intrigued that it was made with 3 types of yarn, not all on one poncho but knitted separately with Jiffy, Organic Cotton and Homespun. What a great stashbuster! It is amazingly easy. I am feverishly trying to finish one for my cousin’s son’s birthday today. I started it yesterday. I don’t know if I’ll make it but I’m trying.

Walter’s Work Cardigan

I love this color of blue. It is all stockinette stitch. I have almost knitted to the armholes. It has become my mindless knitting since it is straight knitting, I don’t even have to look at it while knitting. The blue has such a calming quality. I am trying to finish before Christmas. The weather has turned colder and my husband, ,having lost a lot of weight recently, seems to feel the cold much more.

Crocheted Mocha Roca Cardigan

Since I bought the book, Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan, I have been itching to try some of the patterns. I have always admired the crocheted sweater sold in Department stores, but have resisted buying because I thought I could make my own. Needless to say, I have searched for patterns with no success, until I found this book. I finally started the pattern and about 6 inches into the pattern, I realized I did something wrong and had to frog back to Row 5. I had increased where I should not have, dramaticly changing the shape and fit. As I tried to correct, I realize another mistake and decided to frog it completely changing the size of needles. I think I am finally on the right track and am determined to get this done. The patterns look easy but can fool you if you don’t pay close attention. I would have preferred more diagrams to help, because missing one shell pattern can really make a difference. I would not consider this an easy book to follow, but I know once I master this one, the other patterns will be easier.

Branching out scarf

This is coming out beautifully. I love the pattern, which is not too difficult but since it is lace, takes some concentration without distractions. It is soft and fuzzy, yet you can see the lovely leaves pattern.

Adult surprise jacket

I love the different natural handspun fibers in this project. Changing the colors keeps all the garter stitch from becoming too boring. This will be my catch as I can project.

Alan’s Christmas project

This has somewhat stalled temporarily but I will pick this up again soon to finish for Christmas. This might be the only project I get done for Christmas.

Tofutsies socks for my dad

This has definitely stalled. I don’t think I like the yarn. It seems cold, more for summer socks and I’m craving things that are warm to touch. I’m sure I will eventually pick them up again, but socks were never my cup of tea. For some people, they are easy, but for me, using Size 2 needles they are somewhat boring.

Candlelight scarf

I still love this lace pattern, but it is on hold for now, while I work on other projects. It also takes a lot on concentration.

In the frogging bin are the cream sweat pants and the Laptop computer cover. The sweatpants fit a little too tight for my son’s comfort, so I have given up trying to fix them and will unravel them for another project. My son seems OK with this. I really wanted to knit something he will wear. He is very particular and I knew if these did not fit right, he wouldn’t wear them.
The yarn I’m using for the Laptop cover is not working like I thought it would. The Bulky Berkshire wool yarn just does not seem to define the cables very well to my liking. The original pattern calls for worsted and so I think I will unravel this again and save the yarn for another project. Maybe a felting project would be better for this yarn. This yarn is left over from my Rib Warmer. I heard an interview with the Yarn Harlot recently, who said she doesn’t knit for “Inanimate Objects” because they can’t appreciate the knitted gift. It got me thinking why am I using this beautiful soft and warm bulky wool on an inanimate laptop when an acrylic would do just fine on this type of project.