Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Sweater for Miss J.

Here are some finishing photos of my cousin's daughter, sweet J's sweater.

Upon blocking, I realized that the front and back pieces were each four inches too wide! I consulted the knowledgable ladies at my knitting guild, who informed me that I would have to *gasp* cut the sweater. As luck would have it, the topic of the guild meeting was steeking. So I got to watch it in action before actually doing it. But first I had to sleep on it.

The ladies assured me that "all" I needed to do was to sew a line just inside where I needed to cut to reinforce the stitches. I carefully measured from the center of the sweater out, drew my line, and put my sewing machine to work.Ok, that was easy enough. Now for the cutting. Haven't you heard? It's all the rage. Amanda did it just this week. Steady, girl.
When it came time to the actual cutting, I was surprised to find that it was kind of fun. Tres risque'. And the best part is, nothing fell apart or unravelled. I felt very bold throwing the excess pieces in the trash, as if it was no big thing, as if I did it all the time. An added bonus was that I didn't have to weave in ends!

Then came the tedium of sewing the pieces together. I won't bore you with any pictures of that. Remember, I'm a knitter, not a seamstress.

And what have we here? A finished sweater, my pretties! Specifications:
Pattern: Off-to-Class Guernsey Pullover from Hip Knits, child's size 10
Yarn: Bernat Cottontots, 100% Cotton, 5 skeins Sunshine, 1 skein Wonder Dreams
Needles: Size 7 straight
Modifications: Mom preferred a longer contrasting ribbed hem and sleeve cuffs rather than the same color garter stitch edge called for in the pattern.
The sweater fits me perfectly. If little Miss Thang ever grows out of it, she can hand it down to me!
I want to tell you why knitting this sweater meant so much to me. Sweet J. is the daughter of my favorite cousin and the granddaughter of my favorite uncle. My middle son was named after them. I never got to see Miss J. in person until we gathered together in Arizona for my brother's memorial. Her daddy looked so handsome in his Marine dress uniform, and sweet little J. looked pretty as a picture in her little dress. When I first laid eyes on her, she looked just like my uncle, whom we lost years ago. She was shy at first and I tried to give her time to warm up, but it was hard because of her resemblance to her grandfather, and because I was missing my own little Girlie at home, who is just about her age. And I was very, very sad about losing my brother.

Between the funeral and the reception I lost it. It's quite a story, but one for a later time. I made my way to the ladies room, collapsed on a chair, and cried and laughed and cried again. Miss J. was there in the room not quite sure what to make of this hysterical girl whose size sometimes makes her seem more like a child than a woman. With some urging from her dear mom, she made her way to me and put her arms around me. It was like being held by an angel.

Then during the reception they started showing pictures of my brother's life on a screen. I felt myself start to lose it again, when a sweet voice from the chair next to me pulled me out of my reverie with one question. An innocent question that reminded me of a simpler, carefree time. Miss J. asked me what I was for Halloween. One little question that doesn't seem like much, but it was enough to pull me out of the darkness back into the light. I answered her that I had been a princess, and wouldn't you know it? She was too. An instant bond was formed then and there. From that moment on until she had to leave, we were inseparable.

When her mom (whom I adore) asked me to knit J. a sweater for her birthday, I was honored. I didn't quite make it in time for her 8th birthday, but I tried!

To me, this is not just a sweater. It represents my expressions of love and thank you to an angel who helped me get through one of the saddest days of my life. I will always remember your sweetness on that day. I love you, little princess.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

SP10 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love cashmere blends (who doesn't, right?) I'm big into sock yarns these days. Blue Moon Socks That Rock, Sunshine Yarns, and Ruby Sapphire are some of my current favorites, as well as anything from the Loopy Ewe.
I'm really moving away from novelty yarns that don't show much stitch detail.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I store all of my needles together in clear plastic Iris drawers. I'm always on the lookout for cute little bags to carry my knitting projects or gadgets in.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I would say I'm a strong intermediate. I've been knitting in earnest for about 4 years. I learned to knit about 8 years ago when my sister dragged me along to a class. The rest is history.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, the link is here and always on my sidebar.

5. What's your favorite scent? vanilla, coconut, pink grapefruit, jasmine, gardenia, rose.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Chocolate. Chocolate is good. I also really like Lu's Le Petit Ecolier ("the little schoolboy") tea biscuits/cookies.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I don't spin and don't really have the time for it, despite all the best efforts from many good friends. Maybe someday, but for now, not so much. I also do beadwork. My favorite beads to work with are 4mm swarovski crystals, just about any color but orange or brown.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I'm a child of the 80's, and therefore love 80's music. I'm also a big Elvis fan. Musicians I've been really enjoying lately are The Fray, Keith Urban, and Little Big Town. I am MP3 compatible.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love purple of any shade far and away above all other colors, from periwinkle and lavender to deep dark purple and anything in between. I also like pinks, blues, and greens. A combination of any or all of those colors would be fabulous.
Please no orange, tan, or brown. Try as I might, I am just not a fan of those shades.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I am married with three children (daughter, 9; son 4; baby boy 1). No pets.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I love long scarves and prefer gloves to mittens. Ponchos are ok. Hats just look really dorky on me, I'm sorry to say.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Right now socks and scarves.

13. What are you knitting right now? Socks, socks, and more socks and a sweater or two with the odd scarf thrown in.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Absolutely.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? It really depends on what the project requires. I prefer metal knitting needles to all other materials. For double pointed sock needles, I'm partial to Crystal Palace bamboo.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes. My kids call it the spiderweb. No need to go to the extra work of winding any balls of yarn for me.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? A couple of sweaters, going on a year now.

18. What is your favorite holiday? I really like them all.

19. Is there anything that you collect? Besides yarn? Any and all knitting gadgets, cute sheep for my bookshelf, and tea cups and saucers. My day is not complete without a proper pot of English tea, usually PG Tips, Lifeboat, or a good darjeeling. Earl Grey or fruity herbals are not for me. And I love me some Jamba Juice!

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? Sock patterns are always welcome and desired here (hint, hint)! I subscribe to most knitting magazines (Vogue, Knitters, Interweave, Cast On). I would love to get my hands on a pom pom tree.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I'd love to learn how to make two socks on two circular needles. I've got the Cat Bordhi book, but haven't mastered the technique yet.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I am most definitely a sock knitter. I wear a size US 5 shoe.

23. When is your birthday?
March 26.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sock Madness

Remember how much fun I had during the Sock Wars? Even though it pretty much ended with not a bang but a whimper? One of the biggest flaws in that war was lack of involvement and moderation from the organizer.

Now there is this:Sock Madness is only accepting 128 participants (64 novice knitters and 64 experienced knitters). The distinction between novice and experienced is in the amount of pairs of socks that you've completed. If you've completed less than five you're considered a novice, and more than five makes you experienced. Unfortunately, even though I don't consider myself terribly experienced in sock knitting (I'm more of an advanced beginner), I have technically finished seven pairs of socks, even though three of them were the same simple pattern on DK weight yarn for the Sock Wars. (The other socks being 2 secret pairs for KnitPicks, that beautiful pink pair for my darling niece Stephanie, and the Mock Croc socks, which were my very first pair).

I'm kind of shaking in my boots because the experienced knitters are going to compete with complicated patterns involving fair isle and intricate charted designs. The novice category would probably be a better fit for me, but rules are rules, and I choose to look at most things as a learning experience.

This will be a tournament style competition where two people are competing with each other, and the first to post pictures of their competed project (no mailing involved!) advances to the next round until one winner is declared fair and square in each division. This is where the slackers are not rewarded for dropping the ball, as was the case in Sock Wars.

One really cool thing is that the competition is using original sock designs never before used, and only competitors will have access to these patterns.

Sign-ups are still open at the moment, but once the number reaches 128 they will close. If you want to play with me (and I would love to have someone I know to root for in the competition), go check it out!

Good luck!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Cuteness

If you can stand it, I'd like to share more boy cuteness today.

Here is Sproutie's new favorite position to play and watch TV: It's a rare photo of him being still, so enjoy it while you can. What makes it even cuter is when he bends his knees and brings his feet up to dangle in the air. What a cutie pie.

And here is a picture of a phenomenon that's been slowly starting to transpire around here: The beginnings of cooperative play between brothers. Some days are better than others. I do realize that most of their relating time will be spent wrestling and rolling around the floor as they get older (if they're anything like their cousins Nate and Tim), so it's nice to capture the calm moments of play.

Before I had kids, my sister told me one of the sweetest sounds I'd ever hear is that of my children laughing together. She was so right.

Now lest you think I'm not a knitting fool, I've got evidence to the contrary: This is the front of a sweater for my cousin's daughter J. I had been hoping to get it done in time for her birthday last week, but try as I might, I just couldn't get my fingers to fly. And this pesky business of sleep--why did it keep trying to interfere with my trying to knit all night?

The front of the sweater is done, and the back is close to completion. Sleeves to follow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Sproutie Should Never Be Left Alone in the Kitchen

What do you get when you cross award-winning raspberry freezer jam and a busy 20-month-old? This face!I thought that when I laid him down for a nap upstairs, that's where he would stay. After all, Girlie and ZimDee would at that age. But not my adventurous, curious Sproutie.

I was busy working on my computer downstairs when in he walked in all of his glory. Note the innocent look on his face:
I think he's honestly trying to figure out how I knew that he'd been doing something naughty.

To answer my own question, what you get when you cross raspberry jelly and a busy baby boy is a huge, much-needed laugh for mom.The extra work involved in cleaning up the kitchen and my little son is clearly made up for in future showings of these pictures to Sproutie's own children.

Just when I thought I had this child-raising thang all figured out, my third child turns everything upside down. And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. I was a third child myself, so I know all the tricks. My days would probably be quieter, calmer, and less messy, but they would also be infinitely far more dull without this sweet little spirit in my life.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

These Are the Days

I've picked out my yarn for February/March Project Spectrum, for which the assigned colors are blue, white, and grey. How perfect is this:
It is the Cha Cha colorway from Perchance to Knit. This was a colorway made available to SP9 participants. I bought it back in October, and it was waiting for an occasion such as this to be knit up.

Except it still has to wait just a little bit longer while I finish up some other projects. This yarn is destined to become a pair of socks, though I haven't quite decided which pattern I will use yet.

And look who I caught napping in their natural habitat this weekend:
My biggest and littlest boys. They fell asleep to a kung fu karate chop movie while I knit quietly in the background. These are the days I will always remember. To quote the Van Morrison song that I borrowed this post title from, "There's only here, and there's only now".

My love to all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Secrets and Sock Yarns

I can finally share with you a snippet of a super secret knitting project I've been working on. Does it look like a pair of socks? That's because it is. I wish I could share more, but then someone might have me...disappeared. Here is a picture of my sweet Girlie to tide you over until I can share more details about the socks. She's getting very good at this ball-winding thing. Not too fast, not too slow. That's a'girl.
The yarn is the Sangria colorway from Dani at Sunshine Yarns. No, she doesn't have any more right now. I wasn't sure how I would like the color combination of wine and yellow in this yarn, but I do, oh, yes I do. Though I'm just teasing myself with having the skein wound into a ball. The Lord only knows when I'll have the time to knit with this golden wine-y goodness. Why must I torture myself in this way?

And look what the gals at Ruby Sapphire cooked up. A yarn called Trina. To this day, that's what my family still calls me. I guess if I were a skein of yarn, this is what I'd be. Multicolored sock yarn in happy colors.

My love to all.

Thank you, Tracey!

I must share with you what my SP9 pal Tracey sent to me in her final reveal package. There were heavenly Godiva chocolate bars and hot chocolate, a relaxing spa set of lotions and soaps, adorable heart-shaped measuring cups and frying pan (which Girlie thinks are just for her--she has already confiscated them for her cooking set that her Grandma got her for Christmas). There was also a set of size 7 noble needles with rainbow dyed wood toppers. Tracey said they are supposed to help me knit happiness back into my life. The needles were held in the most adorable purple polka dot (!) needle case. Tracey also sent the most yummy skein of purply sock yarn from Fearless Fibers. I can't wait to knit a pair of socks (Tracey said they must be for myself) with this yarn.But that's not all. Included in the package was a beautiful Thomas Golding spindle and fibers to experiment with. The smaller white bundle of fibers is an angora blend, and the pink and purple fibers are silk, baby. Tracey said to save those for when I've got more experience with spinning.
You would think that would be enough, but no. You're not going to believe what comes next:The most gorgeous Forest Canopy shawl knit in deep purple Kidsilk Haze. Here it is modelled by Girlie in her pajamas. Tracey said she knit it with prayers of comfort, peace, and God's love. She said she hopes it will comfort me always. I will wear it with proudly and think of my super sweet secret pal when I do.
Isn't it lovely? Tracey, I am overwhelmed by your generosity and kindness. Thank you for making SP9 such a fun, therapeutic experience for me. You are the best!

I signed up for this a while ago, but am just now letting you know that I am officially participating in Project Spectrum this year.

Here are the color schemes set up for the next coming months:

February / March
Blue, White, Gray

April / May
Green, Yellow, Pink

June / July
Red, Black, Metallics

August / September
Brown, Orange, Purple

I'm going to personally challenge myself to find skeins of yarn that have all three colors in them already and knit a project (most likely socks) out of those. Project Spectrum 2 officially started on February 1st.

I wanted to share a picture with you of how big Sproutie is getting. He's in desperate need of a haircut at the moment, but he hasn't been cooperating in the barber chair lately. Here he is sitting and knitting with me in my natural habitat (notice the stitch marker in his hand). He will just sit very close to me and "knit" right along with me. I love that.If I look a little tired in the picture, ok exhausted, it's because, well, I am. But my babies don't mind. I get sloppy wet kisses whether I'm well-rested and put together, or in my sweats and jammies knitting to Law & Order. What a life.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More Snow Pictures

Yeah, I know I'm a little lame posting these snow pictures now that the snow has come and gone, but snow here in Portland is still a magical thing and brings out the kid in all of us.

Here is the Count sitting in our back yard with the bundled boys while Girlie busies herself making a snowman:Some fun on the sled. Powdery snow like you see in this picture is very unusual for the Pacific Northwest. One end of our street:And the other end. I just love how the evergreens look white with snow:A closer look. Is that guy trying to cross-country ski there in the background? Okey dokey then.My bundled babies on the sled:
And I really like this next picture because when the Count took down our perfect Christmas tree after the holidays, I wasn't quite ready to give it up. I asked him pretty please to put it on the deck where I could see it from the kitchen window. He looked at me like the crazy person that I am, but he did it. Just in time to get flocked by real snow. To me it was like a gift. (Don't mind the awning--it had to be tipped down so it wouldn't collapse under the weight of the snow).And finally our creek surrounded by wintery white. I'm happy to say that I can see my tulips starting to sprout up now in the back yard. But the snow was such a fun, special time here.

I have more pictures to show very soon of my SP9 reveal package (Tracey spoiled me but good! Thanks, Darlin') and snippets of some knitting and such for you to see. Until then, my love to all.