Friday, January 30, 2009

I'd Like One of Those in Big Girl Size, Please

This is the most darling baby sweater I have ever knitted. It is for a dear kindergarden teacher who taught 2 of my kids (so far) and just had her first baby. Her name is Wren. Everybody say "awwwww".

I highly recommend this pattern. It was very straightforward and well written.
And, now, of course, I really, really, really, really, want one in my size. I searched Ravelry for Feather and Fan sweater pattern and came up with Liesl (which is already in my queue--better get on that!) and then I also realized that Selda (Ravelry link) from Rowan 41 is also very similar. And what do you know--it's about 80% done! So I guess I'll be riding the feather and fan train for awhile.
Pattern: Feather and Fan Baby Sweater by Kimberly Conterio from 101 Designer One Skein Wonders (there are a lot of cute patterns in this book BTW)
Yarn: Sophie's Toes Sock Yarn in Crimson, one skein. Actually, it weighs exactly 77 gms so you have enough left over for a matching hat or booties.
Mods: none.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sweater Talk

I mentioned that I had joined the Ravelry Group NaKniSweMoDo. (Yes, I have to concentrate and sound that out every time I type it.) That's National Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathon.

Some people expressed concern that I follow my heart and knit what I want, which I fully intend to do! Knitting is a FUN hobby, and I intend to keep it fun. I was just organizing my thoughts. I mean, if I finished 8 sweaters last year, then I probably started 16 or 20. I have a LOT of half-finished projects lying around here and I'd like to clean that up a bit. At least 4 out of those 12 sweaters that I intend to finish this year are just sweaters that are nearly done already from last year. I would like to have fewer "loose ends" around here, so to speak. It would make me feel better.

That being said:

I cast on 3 sweaters already in January! Whoo hoo!

Let's get to the details.
First up: I started this Debbie Bliss cable cardigan sleeve (Cable Jacket with Hood from Debbie Bliss Number Four) last July, and after 6 months of staring me in the face, I decided it was time to go. The cable was just too complicated for me to do in small bursts of knitting and the lack of a chart made my head want to explode.
I still love the sweater and maybe I'll get to it someday when I'm not knitting and helping with 3rd grade homework at the same time. But, the yarn--Black Water Abbey Worsted in Forest-- was still whispering to me so I searched for a beautiful cable cardigan with easy-to-memorize cables.
Voila! Cassidy. The back is almost done. Love. Lots of cables make it look more complicated than it is. And if there is anyone here who still uses a cable needle then please, come over for coffee tomorrow morning and I will show you how easy it is to kiss that annoying cable needle goodbye. Otherwise, I am sure you could find a video on the web. It really makes it so much more enjoyable.

Next up: the Baby Suprise Jacket for Sophie. My poor deprived baby girl has only hand-me-down-handknits. Never a sweater especially just for her. She loves this one and wants one like it. I saw this gigantic ball of sock yarn and thought it might be a cute BSJ. (Actually - Girl SJ. I'm using the pattern for the Adult Suprise Jacket and sizing it down for a four year old.)

However. Can't decide if I love it or hate it. Usually that means I hate it but I'm not willing to give up the dream so I plow ahead anyway. Girlfriends say "love", so I'm keepin' on keepin' on. For now. Sorry about the crap cloudy day photo but I'm not sure it looks all that better in real life, anyway.

And lastly, this little nugget. I need a baby sweater for a super-special kindergarden teacher. Cast on Sunday night and by Monday morning it looked like this:

By Wednesday morning it looked like this:

Those babies, they're so dang tiny! Love that! This pattern is the Feather and Fan Baby Sweater from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. Yarn: Sophie's Toes (one skein) in Crimson. I'm hoping to find little heart buttons. I'm also hoping to finish it tonight-block it tomorrow-photograph it on Friday-and gift it on Saturday. I've got 2 episodes of 24 tivo'd up so that should be no problem.

You might have noticed that I started this post by talking about NaKniSweMoDo. The only sweater above that has the potential to be finished in January is the baby sweater and that won't count. This would be one of those months that I should take the opportunity to finish one of those from last year that just needs a little tweaking.
Anybody remember this? I started this last January. The Koigu turtleneck, modeled after my favorite tee shirt. I love it, but the neckline doesn't love me. I have tried it as crew neck and as turtleneck, and I'm not satisfied with either one. I'm currently thinking it needs to be cardiganized.
It would only take a day or two to rip off the turtleneck, steek it and knit some bands. And it would be perfect to wear right now.
Then there's the Chic Lace Hoodie (hold the hood). I love it, but the wide ribbing at the bottom doesn't love me. I really should have known better. I tried to block it out straight, but it is Cotton Ease and that didn't work.
I need to finish the sleeves and rip off the bottom ribbing and knit it longer in stockinette with just a one inch ribbing that doesn't pull in. Then button bands, and a collar....ok, so this one needs about a week's worth of work.
There's also Capri, which I finished but I hate button band. It is very sloppy and it really needs more than the one button, because it doesn't hang right. (The original sweater has big snaps, which I wasn't into, but I might revisit that idea). Otherwise, it is very cute.
And lastly, Hey Teach! Another one completely finished, but slightly wrong. It is just 2 inches too short. I need to take off the front bands, cut above the ribbing and unravel, pick up and knit down 2 inches and re-do the rib and front bands. Not really a big deal, but it's just hard to get started.

Well, that's it for the January edition of Sweater Talk. Anybody care to cast a vote on which one to finish up?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beautiful Week

Hello friends!

After those first couple busy documenting-and-mosaic-making weeks of January, I was ready to take on a nice, big project. Last week I wanted to spend some serious time with the television, soaking in everything I could about the inauguation. I wanted a project that would be meaningful to me, because you know how you look at something and remember what you were doing when you made it?

A momentous occasion calls for momentous project. Does that sound silly? Well, it's how I felt. I had a few (meaning: a lot of) sweaters on the needles but I didn't really want to make a sweater that somebody would outgrow in a year, or that would be out of style in a few years and be relegated to the bottom of the stack.

I wanted something that I would look at every day for the rest of my life. Is that too much to ask?!

Solution: the quilt I started last year. The great thing about it is that, since it's for my bed, the
"look at it everyday for the rest of my life and remember what I was doing" potential is there. And as an added bonus: it's red white and blue! Perfect!

I sewed many blocks while watching every last minute of inauguration day, from the long parade of V.I.P.s decked in hats and scarves, to the glorious entertainment, to the poem and speech that I have read and re-read, and found more and more meaning in every time. To the parade, the commentary, and every last ball.

I have many blocks now.

Here it is pinned up to my design wall and it's only 2/3 done. I have a little over 100 blocks and I need 144. I haven't made a king size quilt before and I'm here to tell you, it's big.

Thank you for all your comments on my 2008 production. You are all so sweet to me. It didn't seem like all that much at the time.
For those of you worried about me getting caught up in rules-don't worry! I have already cast on 3 new sweaters this month! I don't worry about following self imposed rules, but it is fun to make them.
And lastly, LaDonna, I added that baby blanket to my Ravelry projects page, so the pattern information is there now. Thanks for asking!
New sweaters up next. Stay warm!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Year in Review

I love those mosaics that everybody makes of their projects from the year. I've always really really really wanted to do one of those. I was determined that this would be THE YEAR. So I sat down on New Year's Day and started looking through my photos and listing out the stuff. It turns out, even though I feel pretty unproductive much of the time, I make a lot of stuff.
Lots of stuff that doesn't get blogged. Some stuff that doesn't even get photographed. Some stuff that sits in a bin for several months because I don't want to wear it until I get a pristine photo and get in on the blog. Ugh!

You know those people that blog every day and have those massive Flickr pages and everything is documented and perfect on Ravelry and they make it look so easy!? Like the ice skaters on the Olympics?! How do they do it?? It has taken me 2 weeks to get everything in order, for cryin out loud. But, I did it and I have my lovely mosaics (more than one because you can only do up to 36 photos per mosaic and I had more than that so I decided to categorize them) and I'm so happy!

And mostly I re-learned stuff that I already knew about myself but I did learn a new thing or two in the process and I made a couple of goals and I'm all about the lists and goals and so this is just great. And now that 2008 is organized I can finally move on to 2009! And thank heaven, because it's already January 16th! And I have stuff from 2009 finished that I need to start documenting too!

Here we go: The sweaters.
What I knew: Sweater knitting is my favorite knitting.
What I learned: If I would do slightly less flitting from one thing to another, I would have a sweater for every month. (Ok, maybe I did already know that, just in denial.)

Goal: A sweater a month for 2009 (Stacey made me do it. NaKniSweMoDo.)

2008 Sweater Mosaic, originally uploaded by emilyquilts.

Koigu turtleneck, February Lady, Chantal, Cable Cardigan, Beryl, Hey Teach, Bay Cardigan, and Capri, almost all of them on my Ravelry page, or ask me in the comments if you have a question. (I'm sorry, but linking individually to all 60 projects on this post might put me over the edge.)

Next Subject: Socks

What I already knew: I love knitting and wearing handknit socks.
What I learned: I finished more socks than I thought. And apparently I like green socks.

Goal: With a little more effort, I could make 12 pairs of socks a year.

Caveat: I tend to go on sock sprees. I either love knitting socks and it's all I do and I go through them like crazy, or I am not interested. If I sign up for a sock-a-long, it's the kiss of death for sock knitting for me for several months. If you notice me leaning toward a sock KAL, please say gently: "Lady, please back away from the sock knitalong." I thank you in advance.

2008 Sock Mosaic, originally uploaded by emilyquilts.

(I will devote a whole post to the socks and give details on the yarns asap.)

Next Subject: Scarves, Hats, Mitts, Etc.

What I alreay knew: I love these little projects. These are the delicious palette cleansers between sweaters. Also: I love my kids in cute hats, and they can't have too many.

What I learned: I really make a lot of this stuff. I could cut back.

2008 Hats Mitts Scarves and Misc. Mosaic, originally uploaded by emilyquilts.

Most of these are Raveled. If not, it probably is going to get its own post. Again, if you have any questions, ask me in the comments and I will answer in the comments.

Next up: Baby Stuff and Gifts

What I learned: I don't love making baby blankets. But I love the opportunity to be the maker of potentially a small human's favorite object. So it's worth it.

Goal: keep on keepin on.

2008 Baby and Gifts, originally uploaded by emilyquilts.

Next up: Bags
What I know: I love bags. I don't need any more bags. But I love them.
People love bags. Bags are good gifts. Bags Bags Bags.

2008 Bag Mosaic 1, originally uploaded by emilyquilts.

Most of these bags were for other people. Many of them I made from my dish towel totebag tutorial (see sidebar.) I will never stop making bags! BAGS!

Ok, now I get to the really pathetic department: Quilts.

What I already know: I used to be a quilter.

True confession: When I talk about quilts now, I feel like an imposter.

Goal: I need to make more quilts.

2008 Quilting Mosaic, originally uploaded by emilyquilts.

(Because really, the tree skirt doesn't even count as a quilt, but it is quilted, and I didn't have any other category for it.)


Make 12 sweaters per year.

Make 12 pairs of socks per year.

Ease up on the accessories already.

Gift knitting: good.


Make quilts.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Gifting Wrap-Up

Hello Blog! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break.
I will cop to the fact that our Christmas week started out very sluggish. In spite of my very best efforts to keep my heart and mind on the joy of the season I was extremely distressed due to the weather. It started with a bad snowstorm the week before Christmas that landed me and my van full of kids stuck in a snowpile on the side of the road (on our way to ring bells for the Salvation Army bucket--poor Sophie was so sad she bawled). Then we had another bad snow/ice storm that kept the kids out of school on their last day--the big Holiday sing/party day. Then the cold and snowy weather kept my mom from coming up the week of Christmas to do our baking/crafting/sewing with Grandma.
I know it was rough in many parts of the country. I know I was not alone in weather frustration! I feel bad for the people who had to brave the airports. I tried to relax and enjoy the staying-at-homeness of it all, but the worst thing was that I really wanted my mom to be here. She did finally make it up on Christmas afternoon (even with getting a flat tire on the way! Shout out to the lady that owned the bar that was open on Christmas day, and Angel, the tow truck guy who helped her change her tire!) Yes, truly. A tow truck guy on Christmas Day named Angel. Does it get any better than that?

So, thanks to Angel, we did end up having a wonderful Christmas with my mom on Christmas day and Dave's whole family the day after. A few days later, my Molly got her tonsils out so we had a quiet New Year and a nice quiet week full of R & R.
I did get a little sewing done: a big pile o' Christmas flannel jammies, and the tree skirt (at the top of the post) that I've been wanting to do for years.
I tried to keep the Christmas knitting to a minimum this year, still recovering from the November Advent stocking marathon, and not wanting to make myself too crazy. I made 2 presents, one for Dave and one for my mom, and they were both very happily received!

For Dave, who walks 3 long blocks from the train station to his office in windy downtown Chicago, a cozy scarf:
Pattern: A Scarf Askew by emily elizabeth knits
Yarn: Sophie's Toes Mahogany, doubled to make a worsted weight.
Notes: knit as pattern, no mods. What a nice manly pattern. It does have a tendency to curl in, but it is wide and cozy and so it doesn't really matter, I might give it a good steam now and then to open it up.
The one thing I'm going to remember about knitting this was that the day I was planning on finishing it up was the day we had a big snow day and Dave "worked" from home. Yeah, you know why I put in those quotation marks. Most of the time he was hovering, and the thing is, I knit on it anyway, and he was oblivious. I got in a good 1/3 of the scarf that day!

Is that an unfortunately placed bowl in the background or does he have horns? You decide.
For my mom. My biggest cheerleader for my yarn business, who has no hand knit socks. I dug deep into the bin labeled "Sophie's Toes Super Secret Special Private Collection." And came up with this. Hollyhocks.
It suits her perfectly! Here is is wearing them with her cute Mary Janes.

She kept commenting on how warm and cozy they are. I think she possibly knows how to play her cards right in order to get another pair. xo