Spinning Day Lilies

Sundays are for spinning. It is a most relaxing way to spend my Sabbath – especially when I am navajo plying.

I started spinning this gorgeous South African Fine Merino from the Spunky Eclectic Club a couple of weeks ago:

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February 2013 Club Day Lily

Because I was spinning it super thin, and because I also spent a lot of time knitting and mothering, it took me a long while to get this four ounces to look like this:

IMGP8915This is probably the thinnest that I have spun yet.

Navajo plying has got to be the most relaxing activity there is. I just love it. I love the yarn that it produces, too.

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I got about 415 yards of fingering weight yarn out of the one braid. Then I sold my other two to a fellow Raveller because, while I love this yarn, I have no idea what I would make with 12 ounces of it.

IMGP8918As it is, I have no idea what I am going to do with 4 ounces! It is very pretty and I am happy to let it ruminate in the stash for awhile. Maybe socks? Maybe a baby thing? We shall see.

As for me, I have moved on and already have a bobbin full of this months’ Spunky Fiber, a gorgeous BFL that has me completely over the moon (and not just because it is purple)!

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Asking Too Much?

Is it too much to ask that one skien of yarn make three pairs of socks? Apparently it is. Meet my latest finished knit, the Asking Too Much Socks –

IMGP8868It’s a good thing that I like contrasting toes!

IMGP8871Asking Too Much Socks in Family Pendragons Armor Superwash Sock, Purteal, with Knit Picks Stroll Kettledyed, Eggplant
Ravelry Project page here

Family Pendragon Yarns is no more (a moment of silence, please……….), and so I really wanted to stretch the last few yarns that have from Melissa.

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I could rip them both back and make the toes the same length. I could work at it and make this pair of socks more pleasing to the eye. But, they fit well, I don’t care that much, and I am glad to be done knitting them so I am leaving them be. I will be wearing them with shoes anyway, right?

IMGP8867All in all, I think I did pretty good. I had already used this same skien to make some Turkish Bed Socks for a swap back in December, and The Bookworm got a slightly smaller pair of the same for Christmas.

IMGP8874It may have been asking too much, but I did get three pairs of socks out of one skien of yarn. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

 

 

 

 

Learning to Love Monogamy

This week seems to be my week for finishing up languishing knitting projects. For some odd reason, I am in the mood to be monogamous with my knitting, and even though I have only four WIPs, that many unfinished works has been nagging me to distraction. This one took an exceptionally long time for a few reasons and I am mega-releived to have it off the needles, blocked, and ready to be worn.

IMGP8835Panda Silk DK Shawl in handspun BFL/silk from Spunky Eclectic, September 2012 Club, Pheasant
Ravelry project page here

Reason number one that it took me so many months to finish knitting this relatively simple shawl: I stink at estimating yarn requirements and yardage of my own handspun. After running out of yarn once, I ordered and spun a bit more. I kept back some of the fiber that I ordered the second time, thinking that I would love to see this yarn navajo plied. The I ran out of yarn again. Again, I pulled off a piece of the new braid, spun it up and kept knitting. And then I ran out of yarn again. Sigh. The top rail of the shawl is knit in Knit Picks Palette because I refused to spin up any more of that gorgeous fiber for this shawl! As it worked out, the black looks great and I still have one and half braids left to navajo ply. Win-win.

IMGP8837Reason number two that this shawl took me so very long to complete: all of that running out of yarn, spinning up more yarn, running out again, etc.. really killed my excitement in the knitting process. So with each setback, I became more and more reluctant to continue. Fortunately, the yarn is amazingly gorgeous, the knitting was boring enough to do while watching movies in the evening, and I really wanted to see the finished object and so I kept going, albeit with long breaks throughout.

IMGP8838Reason number three that it took and eternity to get to the end of this shawl: morning sickness. ‘Nuff said.

IMGP8836I am extremely happy with this knit. I love knitting with my own handspun and the finished work means that much more to me knowing that I took a lump of gorgeously dyed fibers and turned it into a useful and beautiful work of art.

Now I am off to finish another of my WIPs and get one step closer to being the monogamous knitter that I never knew I was.

 

Death By Monkeys!

After putting together an amazing chore chart, I was accosted by six adorable short people who all wanted their very own knitted mini monkeys. So, yesterday I knit monkeys all. day. long. Seriously.

IMGP8827Sock Monkey Miniature for Blythe in various sock yarn scraps
Ravelry project page here
Though there are only five shown here, I assure you that I did knit six!

Each kid got a new, teeny-tiny monkey in his/her own favorite color. 

These monkeys have been played with continuously since coming off the needles – block houses have been built for them, blankets have been wrapped around them, and they are already filthy. The Fraggle has already misplaced hers. Happy happy kids. 

IMGP8822And the chore chart is working out pretty good, too!

 

 

People Say We Monkey Around

I just created a super wonderful chore chart and put it into action this morning. It may or may not inspire the crew to get their chores done, but it sure is adorable. (Ravelry project page here. Because I knit and crocheted elements of it)

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The monkeys were knit following this pattern and the vines were a spur of the moment crochet experiment that actually worked. I used wool felt for the leaves and flowers and I watercolor painted a poster board for the background.

IMGP8820The idea is to have the monkeys climb up the vine (there are seven leaves, one for each day of the week) as each days’ chores are accomplished. The envelopes hold the chore cards – the left envelope is the chore to be done, the right is for when the chore is complete. When a monkey reaches the top of the vine, that kid has earned his reward (Sunday is “movie day”). There are a few other little rules, like what happens when you miss a day, and how to earn extra climbing, but that is the basic run down.

IMGP8819The only problem that I have so far is that everyone wants to have their monkey to play with. So, today I will be knitting some more of these cuties just for play. They are so quick, take the tiniest amount of yarn, and make my kids extraordinarily happy! I confess, they make me happy, too. I think I want a purple one.

 

 

Knitting for The Dancing Queen

“When do I get another sweater?” The Dancing Queen asked me a few weeks ago. And she was right. She was way overdue. I had the yarn in the stash and the pattern already downloaded to the iPad, so it I told her I would start it soon. She immediately retrieved “her” yarn from the stash and wound it into cakes right then and there.

I cast it on about a week ago, and she says to me, “Mama, can you hurry up? I really want to wear my new sweater!” (These people think I can knit faster than a speeding bullet!)

I bound off the ruffled edge, and she says to me, “Is it done, yet?”

I tell her it still needs sleeves and she says, “No, it doesn’t need sleeves.”

Then The Man pipes up with a great point. “If you leave the sleeves off, she can wear it this spring. You could always add sleeves later when it gets cold again.” At this remark, The Dancing Queen’s face almost exploded in delight, the prospect of getting her sweater sooner rather than later too wonderful to comprehend. In the back of my mind a little voice said, “If I don’t do sleeves, I can be free from the nagging eight year old….”

So, I knit a few rows of garter stitch on each sleeve and bound off. She was practically salivating while she watched.

I added i-cord ties to the front while she sat bouncing in delight on the couch next to me

I wove in the ends as fast as my needle could fly while she giggled in gleeful anticipation.

This girl! I tell you! When she is delighted her entire body radiates with joy! And her delight at her new sweater made my day. (Ravelry Project page here )

IMGP8810You may recognize this pattern. It is Saffron, the same pattern that I used for The Munchkin’s sweater last fall (which, incidentally, has already been passed down to The Fraggle. Man! These kids grow so fast!). It is a great pattern, well written, and comes in many sizes. I used Malabrigo Rios this time, which is a worsted weight, so my gauge was off (the pattern calls for sport weight, I believe). To compensate, I knit one size smaller than I needed and it fits perfectly. This yarn is fabulous. This is the second time that I have used it and I am just as delighted as I was the first time. I did alternate skeins, though, to compensate for differences in the saturation of color. (The first time I used it was for a Contented Cardi for my sis-in-law)

IMGP8815I have the perfect ribbon for the ties, but can’t find it anywhere. As I said before, The Dancing Queen was in no mood to wait, so i-cord ties will have to do. I hope to find the ribbon soon, though, as it will look so much better.

IMGP8811When I do knit the sleeves, this sweater will have used up less than 2 1/2 skeins of the Malabrigo Rios. That ruffle is a yarn guzzler! She wants 3/4 length sleeves, and the sleeves will have the same ruffle as the edge of the body.

IMGP8812Another happy knit. Another happy kid.

If you read this blog often, you know that I knit a sweater for every kid each year. This is The Dancing Queen’s 2012 sweater (as I hang my head in shame). Up next is The Bookworm’s 2012 sweater, and then I can get started on everyone’s 2013 sweaters! Pregnancy really takes it’s toll on my hobby’s! HA!

Mama is a What?

Season passes to the zoo are wonderful things. We can pick up some In-and-Out and then go watch the giraffes for an hour while The Fraggle pushes her stroller around in circles and into passers-by. Going to the zoo for an hour or two is much more doable than spending an entire day trudging around in the hot sun trying to see everything and get our moneys worth. As it was, two hours did me in and this old pregnant body reminded me of it for days. But we had fun, and that has been in short supply since the pregnancy began, so at least I went to bed that night feeling like a good mom for the first time in a few months. 

So, there we were, looking for a parking spot so that we could spend a couple hours at the zoo. I always drive right up to the entrance first, you know, because there might be a space waiting for me right by the gate. It happens. This time, however, it didn’t.

“I don’t know why I always do that,” I remarked to the kids. “I always think there will be a spot open this close. I guess I am just an optimist.”

After a brief pause, The Munchkin piped up from the back seat, “Mama! You’re not a octopus!”

And that is why everyone should have kids. They keep you smiling.

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Neon Fireworks

When I firsts saw this colorway on the Mosaic Moon Facebook page, I knew I needed it.

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Mosaic Moon Neon Fireworks on Aran Tweed with Dark Purple trim (I got two skeins of colorway and one trim. It was all that was available)

Okay, so “need” is a strong word. But that didn’t stop me from snatching up the first two skeins I stumbled upon on Ravelry, regardless of base. Fortunately, the base turned out to be Aran Tweed (very like Licorice Twist), which is perfect for a baby thing.

Ever since my early knitting days I have wanted to knit a sleeper for a baby. I always knit soakers, longies, shorties, and bloomers, never quite getting around to covering the entire baby with the knitted love. Well, that all changed this week. I didn’t have a pattern, but I do have a pattern for a onesie and I figured I could just add legs to, right? Well, this is what became of my logic.

IMGP8800Now, keep in mind that it isn’t exactly finished. The legs will have snaps to make for easier diaper changes and I am still shopping for the perfect buttons for the top.

IMGP8801I am probably going to get some really girlie buttons and some really boy-ie buttons and put them on when baby tells us who he/she is.

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Rear view showing the short row bum.

This ended up very different from the pattern that I bought (why do I keep paying money for patterns if I am not going to follow them?). I started with the pattern (All-In-Onesie), but it morphed into something else as I went, and I even went back to pull out the collar and do that differently, as well. So, the only part that follows the pattern is the stitch count for the raglan increases and the sleeves. Well, I didn’t knit the sleeves as long as it said, so…

Modifications:

I wanted the button placket at the neck to be knit in the trim color, so instead of casting on the placket, I ignored that direction and just knit around it. Then, I went back and picked up the stitches, knitting the placket in seed stitch to match the cuffs and collar. I put in three button holes.

When I reached the short row section, I stopped following the pattern and knit my own longie pattern from that point on, including my own short rows.

The gusset is of my own making, as I would normally knit for a soaker.

The legs were knit back and forth and the stitches picked up along them for the snap plackets.

After I finished the legs I returned to the top and pulled out the collar to reknit it to match the seed stitch cuffs.

I knit the sleeves an inch shorter than recommended.

When I picked up the sleeves, I realized that I had missed the directions to cast on more stitches when the sleeves were separated from the body, so the body turns out to be several stitches narrower than supposed to be. This is not a modification, it is a mistake. 🙂

I had anticipated my gauge to be off because my yarn is thicker and my needles larger than the pattern calls for. This was fine with me, as baby isn’t even here, yet. As it worked out, I got perfect gauge (mysteriously!). So my 3-6 month size should be close.

And, since I bought two skeins of this fabulous colorway, I have enough for shorties, too! See? (and there will still be some left. Baby will be bedecked in Neon Fireworks!)

IMGP8804There has been some argument here about the gender specificity of this colorway. Some of the kids think it is too girlie to put on a boy. Some think it is to boyish to put on a girl. The Bookworm thinks it is too girlie for a boy and too boyish for a girl (can’t win with that girl!). The Man says it doesn’t matter. I like it for either. What do you think?

 

The Wisdom of Mrs. Jo

Each evening we all sit down together and read a chapter of some book. Currently we are a few chapters from completing “Little Men” by Louisa May Alcott, and we are loving every chapter.

Some books that we read are educational, some uplifting, some humerous. This one is inspirational… at least it is for me.

Mrs Jo Bhaer and her husband, Fritz, run a boarding school for boys and the book chronicles the antics and adventures that occur where a group of rowdy yet well meaning boys (and a couple of girls) reside. I love how Mrs. Jo responds to the situations that arise. I love her creativity in discipline, her sense of humor, and her kindness. But what I find most inspiring is her approach to schooling.

The book doesn’t go into it too much, as a run down of the boys’ curriculum would be dry reading indeed, but the glimpses are inspired. Take the chapter that we read last night, for example, entitled “Compositions”. Each child was called upon to report on something that they had observed during the week. One boy had forgotten to prepare and read a letter that he had written to his grandmother, one child had observed moles and reported on what he could remember, and one boy had caught a small owl and shared all that he had learned about it. Each child was encouraged at his/her own level, whether that was to write notes or just recite from memory, and the atmosphere was one of laughter, acceptance, and fun. In a time before TV this was a highlight of their week, a time to learn, laugh, and be together, sharing with each other the richness that they had observed in the world around them.

So, in the spirit of Mrs. Jo, I sent all of my kids outside this morning on a mission. Find something interesting. Watch it, touch it, learn about it. Later today I will help them write out what they observed. Maybe the older ones will get online and expand their understanding. Then, tonight they can share it with the rest of us.

That is far better schooling than the dry workbook pages that we struggled through this morning.

Thanks, Mrs. Jo!

A Handspun Sweater and Three Years of Wool and Chocolate

When this fiber came in the mail, I knew that I wanted to wear it.

I wanted to wear it all the time. Day and night. Night and day. The colors were so “me” that I wanted to frame it and roll in it and write sonnets about it. And, as I have mentioned before, the Romney wool is new and exciting for this still beginning spinner.

So after I spun it up, I made this.

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A sweater of my own design, (Ravelry project page here) in Spunky Eclectic March 2013 club, Lightening Strike on Romney (Ravelry stash page here).

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A sweater made from a bit of fluff.

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I only had 12 oz to work with, so it has narrow fronts and 3/4 sleeves, both of which suit me just fine. I added a bit of shaping at the waist (which is totally lost on my currently more rounded form) and used up nearly all of the fabulous, 2 ply, worsted weight yarn.

IMGP8785 I love it, love it, love it! And it is just in time. As you can see, today is looking mighty dreary, wet and cold. Just the right weather to try out a new wool sweater!

But that’s not all! That’s right, folks! Three years ago today, I acted on a whim and started blogging. It took me awhile to get some momentum, to develop my style, and to figure out what it is that I want to say. I have met many interesting folks, both knitters and not, and learned a whole heap of new stuff. Thank you for reading my (sometimes) drivel. Thank you for commenting on my rants. And thank you for coming back for more.