Giddyup!

Today I have a cute, quick knit to show you.

This is Spark’s Pony Pattern made in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. It was a birthday gift for The Bookworm who is turned 12 this week.

Let me tell you, The Bookworm was thrilled. She carries it around on her shoulder! I love when I can put smiles on my kids’ faces with a bit of wool.

Three things about this knit.

1. This pattern is written for worsted weight yarn, but I wanted something smaller so I used fingering on size one needles. It is small, but I was hoping for even smaller. I probably should have whipped out some lace-weight and my 0000 needles. Oh, well, there is always next time. I also think that next time I will try the other head option for a smaller, more normal looking noggin. I did the big one this time because that is what the kids like, but I think it looks ridiculous.

2. I got this pattern almost immediately after it was added to Raverly’s pattern database, so it was brand spankin’ new. I got the “virgin” version and I felt the pains thereof. After I was about 2/3 through, I received an email containing the revised version from the talented designer and all was well. I still can’t figure out how the legs were supposed to be sewn together, but it worked out okay in the end.

3. The pattern did not explain how to do the eyes. For that I just went back to the Etsy shop where I bought the pattern and closely examined the pictures of her finished ponies. Then I did what I could with the felt bits I had left over from my calendar. I am pretty surprised by how well they turned out.

All in all, it was a good knit and so quick that I think I could do it again. The only downside was the amount of yarn used up on hair!

Maeva

I had an epiphany. Are you ready? This one might blow your mind, not because it is particularly clever or new, rather because it took me so long to realize it.

Why do I knit socks with long legs when I clearly have a preference for ankle socks when I buy socks at the store?

How many times have I knit a pair of socks that take twice as much yarn and time as an ankle sock (which is what I’d really rather wear). And isn’t that the point of making socks? To make the perfect sock for me?  I mean, I don’t wear turtleneck sweaters, therefore I don’t knit turtleneck sweaters. I don’t wear long johns, therefore I don’t knit long johns. So, I made a decision mid-sock and knit a pair of socks that I would love to wear (fortunately for me, it was a toe up sock, so I could make that kind of a change).

Introducing my “Natalie Loves Me” socks (so named because this yarn was a baby shower gift from my knitting buddy who knows what makes me happy).

Maeva in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, Foliage

Three things about this knit –

1. This yarn does what it does well. I am not saying that it is my new favorite, but for a pair of socks I think it will do just fine. I love the color and the way that I magically (and without trying at all) started each sock at exactly the same point in the colorway so that the semi-striping is perfectly matching. I love the sturdy feeling these socks have.

2. I learned many new things while knitting these socks, the least of which was the epiphany mentioned earlier in this post. I learned how to do Judy’s Magic Cast On, a truly wonderful trick. I learned that while toe up socks are fascinating, I would much rather start at the top and work down. I also learned that I actually do enjoy working socks one at a time (rather than both at once) and that knitting the second sock doesn’t have to be a painful chore (because this second sock was just as fun as the first). I guess you could say that these were educational socks.

3. I made many mistakes. Many. I mean it. A lot. I crossed cables willy-nilly with no thought to the way they were actually supposed to cross. I increased haphazardly. I decreased when I felt like it. I totally faked the heel flap without even peeking at the pattern. All of these mistakes are tiny, and really, (really) they make no difference (at all. whatsoever). I keep telling myself that I don’t care. But I do. (But not enough to frog them.)

Also, these socks are kinda baggy, which is weird because I have huge feet and every other sock I ever knit for myself has been tight. Maybe I can shrink them up a bit in the dryer. (note to self – next time do a smaller cuff)

All in all, a satisfying knit and a new pair of socks in my drawer. It’s been good week.

Fibery Goodness

Cosymakes Falkland Fiber Club, March 2012 “Fresh”

Family Pendragon Mystic MCN, “Inner Wild”

Corriedale from Wildcard Fiber Arts, natural

Looks like my spindle is going to be busy for awhile. As a matter of a fact, I don’t even want to knit with all these luscious wools calling to me from the stash cabinet.

Oh, and check this out. This is totally cool.

When I told Kaylan at Wildcard Fiber Arts that I was a beginner and didn’t know much about the various spinning fibers available, she graciously sent a bunch of little samples to me. I have been fondling and sniffing and playing. This little bunch of bits is just the coolest thing and it perfectly compliments my current night time reading.

I am usually a very fast reader, but I am taking this book slowly. There is so much information packed in and I know almost nothing going in so it is a little overwhelming. But I am learning and loving it.

Oh, and there is knitting happening here, too. More on that tomorrow!

Party Planning

I love planning birthday parties for my kids, so this year when The Bookworm asked for a slumber party, I got really excited. The planning is usually the best part for me, but this time was an exception. We had an absolute blast! And I had just as much fun partying as I did planning. So, just in case your daughter (or son, because most of this is gender neutral) wants a super awesome slumber party, here is the quick rundown of ours.

Decorations –

I have two words about party decorations – Dollar Store. I spent $10 and got streamers, balloons, bowls, napkins, spoons, cups, and a table cloth. Sure, they were just plain pink and yellow, but a 12 year old doesn’t need cartoon characters right? The above picture is the living room ceiling, and below is the table, which leads me to the next item –

Treats –

Instead of a cake, we did banana splits – I spent about $40 on ice-cream, banana’s, and toppings. And look at those toppings! Whoppers, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanuts, and (of course) cherries, plus chocolate, caramel and strawberry syrups.

Games – 

For game ideas, I visited the NBC website for the game show “Minute to Win It” and picked out a bunch of really fun challenges. In the above picture The Bookworm is trying to drop pennies into a baby bottle that is submerged in a gallon jar of water (it was a lot harder than it looks). We also tried to keep three balloons aloft for a whole minute, blew purple ping-pong balls off a plate while leaving the red ones on it, stacked marshmallows on our foreheads, played ping pong tic tac toe, and many other zany, laugh-inducing challenges. Once we had run through those, I sat the girls (and The Boy) all down to play Catch Phrase while I got the craft ready in the kitchen.

The Craft –

For a craft, I purchased candy melts, molds, lollipop sticks and bottles at Joann’s crafts ($35), and we made some candy. This was really fun and the girls (and The Boy) all did a really good job. We also threw in the left-over toppings from the banana splits as our creativity soared.

More Games-

We then played a few rounds of Reverse Hide and Go Seek in the dark – we turned out all the lights and one person hid, then everyone had to find and hide with the person who was “it”. As it got later and we needed to quiet down (the little girls were now in bed upstairs), we played Hide the Thimble (I talked about this game before).

Settling Down-

At about 10:00 we put on our jammies and spread out the sleeping bags for a good movie. I had three movies rented for the occassion and we held an election to see which one we would watch. “Ella Enchanted” won out over “The Muppets” and “Hugo”. At midnight we turned out the lights and went to sleep. (It is a little ironic that, while the girls all went right to sleep, my baby, who has been sleeping through the night since she was two months old, kept me up for most of the remaining hours of the night.)

Bright and Early – 

One of our guests had to be ready to go at 8:15 am, so we were up and eating breakfast at 7:30. Breakfast was scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls. After breakfast, we all got cozy in the living room and watched “The Muppets” so that I could snooze a little longer.

Sum-up-

For less than $100 we had a fabulous slumber party. We giggled and created and we were entertained and we were challenged.

And now my daughter is 12 years old. Wow!

Oh, Dear. I Think I Deserved That

Knitting disaster strikes me from time to time, and I guess I was asking for the latest one when I bragged about how easy that hooded scarf was.

This, My Dear Friends, is the kindle cozy for The Bookworm.

Strange, right? This is what it was supposed to look like (photo swiped from the pattern):

Now, a part of me wants to claim ignorance (“I don’t know what I did wrong!”) and maybe blame the designer (“What a stupid pattern!”), but I really do know what happened. All I want to say is this –

Next time I plunk down beside you at knit night and I wonder out loud how this thing thing on my needles is magically going to turn into a usable item, and then I say that I think that I have the pattern memorized after only three rounds please, someone, for the love of wool, SLAP ME!

Something Inspirational

Inspiration is everywhere. Here are a few things that have inspired me recently (the following photos are not mine, but are taken from their respective websites).

A Wee Mouse in a Tin House

Pocket Bear

Blossom Mama and Her Baby (and really all of the toys at This Cosy Life)

Miffy and her Balloon (I think this is my favorite)

I guess I am in a toy making mood today!

That Was Easy

A new creation just flew off my needles with only one frogging on the path to success.

Three things about this knit.

1. It doesn’t get much easier than this. A garter stitch scarf on large needles, picked up 32 stitches along the center of one side, kfabbed in each stitch on the way back, then worked a blown up version of the Stella Pixie Hat over 64 stitches, grafting the top together with some kitchener magic. My only difficulty was determining the amount of stitches to pick up, so I did have to frog it once, when I realized that it would only fit someone with a freakishly small head.

2. It doesn’t get much easier than this. My daughter’s smile was all the reward I needed. She is so easy to please and though I hate this yarn, it was worth it.

3. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Even the photo shoot was short and sweet. I’ve got a great knitted item on a beautiful model just as the sunset cast a beautiful pinkish tint to the world. That is a formula for fabulous pictures.

Oh, and the remaining 20 yards or so of this yarn went in the garbage. That was easy, too. 🙂

I Can Take a Hint

When your daughter rigs your yarn cabinet to drop that yarn that you promised to make into a hood for her right on your head, it is time to fulfill that promise. So this is what I was doing this weekend.

Some time near the dawning of this knitting obsession of mine, I ordered 5 balls of Knit Picks Suri Dream to make a baby sweater for a friend. You read that right. I ordered FIVE balls for a newborn sweater. I had never heard of Malabrigo or Madelinetosh or anything other than what was available at Joann’s Craft Store. Knit Picks was my first mail order yarn experience and I fell in love with the furry softness of Suri Dream right off (it is purple, after all). I am sure that you know how the story goes. The baby sweater used less than one ball, so I made a coccoon for that same baby (to match the sweater of course), and still had over two balls left.

Not too many months passed before The Bookworm asked me for a scarf. Out came the Suri Dream and the big needles and I very smartly whipped out a luscious, fuzzy, purple, garter stitch scarf.

Now a few years later, that last ball of Suri Dream was still taking up space in the stash. I hate that yarn now that I have tasted of finer yarns, and it’s fuzziness (which I once thought of as charming and luxurious) drives me absolutely batty.

Inspiration struck me a few weeks ago when The Bookworm complained of cold ears while she rode her bike. Her scarf needs a hood. I have more of that yarn. If I were to make a hood for that scarf it would use up all of the Suri Dream and I would never have to knit with it again. I got a little excited about this idea and I told The Bookworm of my plans. She approved and it went in my mental queue.

Alas for the poor hood-to-be, I am about as fickle a knitter as any you’re likely to meet, and I promptly forgot about this idea as I moved on to other things.

Enter the yarn cabinet booby-trap that changed the course of my knitting (for this weekend, anyway). So, like a good mother/knitter, I am doing what I said I would. I am slogging on with this horrible furry yarn out of sincere love for my eldest daughter. But I have learned one thing.

I need to stop telling the kids what I am going to knit for them next. That and to watch for falling yarn when opening up the stash cabinet.

The Enabler

That’s me, much to the chagrin of every husband whose wife knits with me.

Case in point – Yesterday my Knitting Buddy was here and she used my computer to place a Mr. Yarn order. Her goal was some Malabrigo Sock in Archangel (that’s example number one. She knew she wanted that because she saw this in my yarn cabinet).

Malabrigo Arroyo in Archangel, slated to be Saffron for The Munchkin later on this year.

Apparently, archangel is a popular color, for it was already out of stock there and at Eat.Sleep.Knit. That was when I swooped in.

“Well,” I said, helpfully, “What about Finito?” This was partly selfish – Finito is a new yarn and I want to get my hands all over a ball of it ASAP. “Or,” I continued, “You could make sport weight socks. Arroyo is what I have here.” I pulled out the skein to remind her. “Or, you know what? You could…”

And on it went, and I don’t even remember now what she decided. She did end up with some archangel in some base in her cart.

Now she was going to check out (and I am sorry about this) but there was only ONE ball of yarn in her cart and I just couldn’t keep quiet.

“Is that all you need?” I started with need.

“What else am I going to need yarn for?” She wondered out loud. She really is a good girl. (Note to her husband – it is all my fault.)

“What about just getting some inspiration yarn?” I ventured. “You know, yarn that has no plan, but is just yarn for the sake of yarn?” I handed her a skein of Handmaiden Casbah. I know, I know. That isn’t fair. I am ashamed of myself.

“What are you going to make out of this?” She asked, and I think she may have swooned a little.

“I have no idea,” I replied cheerfully. “That is inspiration yarn. I bought it because it is gorgeous and maybe someday I will make something with it. But for now I just pet it and enjoy it for what it is – a skein of very beautiful yarn.”

She thought about this for a second. I could see the gears turning. But then, “No” she said, handing it back to me. “I need to have a plan. What else do I want to make?”

I let her stew a minute longer before trying again. (I told you that I am bad)

“You know,” I spouted philosophically, waving the Casbah in the air as I spoke (I tend to talk with my hands), “Yarn is not really ‘material’ for me. It is more of a collection. People collect spoons, and no one ever says, ‘Why don’t you ever use all those spoons there on the wall? Why are you buying another spoon when you already have hundreds of spoons on little racks in your dining room? You don’t even use the spoons that you already have.’ Yarn is my collection, and I don’t think it needs to have a purpose…” I trailed off, letting that idea sink in.

She ended up with four balls of yarn in her cart at check out.

Ahem.

I just realized something. I am doing it again. While I am telling you this story about what an enabler I am, I keep flashing pictures of gorgeous yarns with links to those yarns making it so easy for you to fall in love and have it in your hands for a small monetary sum and a few days wait.

Whoops! There I go again. (That happens to be Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Select in the Dusk colorway, available here. Heeeheeeheee)

Yup. I am an enabler. Maybe you should hide this post from your husbands…..