A Knit Decision

Knitting in Oregon, with other stuff, too, such as crochet, cats, dogs, history, fashion, highly opiniated rants, reading, diabetes, church, life in general, etc. I like circular needles, prefer natural yarns, don't spin, choose small projects, and don't have any one favorite yarn store. I love them all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Wrist Warmers

I need a photo for this post. But I don't have it yet.

I apologize in advance if this post is a little spotty or has typos. I've got some sleep deprivation going on.

Susan, my One-Skein Secret Pal Angel from Hawaii, sent me my finished knitted item. They are fingerless mitts, knit is a lovely vivid blue or teal shade, with a spiral ribbed pattern. I'm not sure if that's right, my description of them, but I love them! She is such a fast knitter, and a dear one to rescue me from my exchange orphan status. I'm hoping that they'll keep my hands nice and warm this winter. I love the sensation of the wool hugging my joints.

We believe that the solar flares have affected both Dr. Parts and my vehicles at the same time. Very odd. Unreliable starts are one thing. Zero starts are another entirely.

I'll get a photo of my new wrist warmers in the next three days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

North Kiddo Knits!

North Kiddo found her way over to my house. We spent an hour together Monday evening knitting.

She learned the long-tail cast-on and how to form a knit stitch, continental style. Well, semi-continental style. She lets go of the needles and wraps the yarn around the right needle with her left hand. She's not left-handed.

She was not enthused about doing a knitted blob for learning. But she has promised some of her little friends scarves, so at least we've got some good learning projects to work on. A common wish-that one doesn't have to practice and that one's first work will be wearable.

She cast on tighter than English ivy and this makes her knitting hard to work. A common rookie mistake. She popped the entire remaining row off the needles at least twice. Once I rescued the stitches and placed them back on the needle. The second time she did it, and did it perfectly.

She was frustrated by her stitches tendency to twist around the needle, so that the ridge from the cast-on wandered. I showed her how to straighten that back up. I said that she just had to tell the knitting to behave itself. She split the yarn a few times-who hasn't?

She had turned one of the two kit skeins into spaghetti. I've since rolled it into a nice center-pull ball. Her bamboo needles are kid-grimy already. The book had some liquid spilled on it and some of the pages are stuck together. We just tore off the bottom edges-no lost words.

She has probably 20-30 stitches on her needles. She was beginning to understand how the fabric would form. We did just two rows before she needed to do something else. I suggested that she work at least one row per day. She was pretty excited when she left and planned to do another row that evening.

I'd say that was a successful session for a nine-year-old learning knitter and a first-time knitting teacher.

Monday, August 28, 2006

My Sainted Mother Vs. The Yarn Harlot

I just realized that I have a conflict with the Portland appearance of the Yarn Harlot. My mother and her husband will be arriving in town and staying at our house for a few days. Her first evening is the evening that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee will be appearing at Powells.

I find this conflict particularly troubling as these two women are some of my favorite women in the world. In fact, if you play one of those 'who would you invite to dinner if you could only have dinner with X number of women', I'd invite my Mom and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and then work the list from there.

I may have to go and hide in the closet for a week to decide what to do.

Since I am a westerner, with relatives in Seattle and Tacoma and environs, driving to Seattle, for her Monday, Sept 4 appearance is not out of the question. We westerners tend to drive waaaay too much, and we drive distances that others find astounding.

I could drag Mom along to the event. If I ask her she'll probably push me out the door and tell me to go and enjoy myself. Mom's not a knitter, at least, not much, and hasn't read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's delightful writing.

I've got to go and lie down in a darkened room now.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pssst-The Yarn Harlot is coming to Portland!

Powell's finally has a time for the visit of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee to our own little knitting world! 7:30 pm.

Hmm. How much time do I need to take off work in order to get there and get a seat??

She was impressed by Austin, Texas, and it's slogan of "keep Austin weird." I always thought the middle word in that phrase was 'Portland'. I wonder if Portland will impress her as weird.

I'm not sure what gifts are appropriate for the visit of a knitter and writer who I admire so greatly.

Car Trouble

My 1992 SUV has developed a problem. It won't start when the engine is hot. That means no more running to the store for every little thing, because one has to allow enough time (hours) for the engine to cool back down before continuing the journey. Dr. Parts is investigating. It may be a problem with the starter, although one website indicated that a hot no-start condition might be related to the fuel pump.

All I can think is, I'll have to make sure I have a knitting project in the car at all times. More knitting time!

North Neighbor has not come to my house this week, so no progress there. She may not want to learn to knit at this point. No problem. Knitting is not required. I do it because I love it. You may love what you wish. You don't have to love what I love.

I have sewn on buttons on three baby surprise jackets. They will be gifted to their recipients early next week. I'm thinking about the general rules for when the baby jacket should be completed by:

Ideal rule: The hand-knitted baby gift should be completed by the time the recipient is born.

2nd rule: The hand-knitted baby gift should be completed before the recipient outgrows it.

3rd rule: The hand-knitted baby gift should be completed by the time her parents get around to getting married.

Of course, that may not apply to close family members (grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc) where hand-knitted gifts can be given at nearly any point without legal repercussions.

I'm about this close to violating rule #1 for Dorothy. Her mom is ready to deliver, hooray! We'll keep praying for excellent health for all. I've gotta add ties for the Baby Kimono.

I'm about halfway finished with the white BSJ border. The attached I-cord buttonholes are, again, ideal. I may never make another buttonhole in a baby sweater ever again.

I think tonight I may take some skeins of yarn and turn them into balls of yarn. So I can knit more baby jackets. Shall I do another EZ Baby Surprise Jacket? Or shall I do Sally Melville's Baby Albert jacket?

And I need to finish the project for Kim, for the One Skein Secret Pal exchange. I sure hope she likes it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Yarn from Hawaii!

Aloha! Here is the yarn that Susan sent me from Hawaii. I know, it's supposed to be a secret, but hey, let's not pretend. It is Knitpicks yarn in a Blueberry shade. Delightful. Susan also sent me a very funny New Yorker cartoon postcard.

I can't wait for her to arrive in Portland so I can get to know her in person. I'm not sure what I'll do with this fabulous wooly yarn. Susan suggests mitts, and I do have an idea for some simple ribbed fingerless mitts. This yarn would be great for that.

The yarn is nestled in the leaves of our Gerbera daisies. They have all made great leaves this year, but only one has put up flowers.

I did sew on the buttons on the Hippy Baby Jacket and the pink & green one. Now I've got to finish the I-cord edging on the white one and sew its buttons on. I finally found my size 6 DPNs, so I can do that. I have to get gift bags and package up the sweaters to give to the victims-ahem, I mean recipients.

And now, since it is August 22, I MUST create a finished project to send to my One-Skein Secret Pal, Kim, who lives in Illinois. She went to Stitches, lucky gal. I'm thinking of the fingerless garter(stitch) mitts. They would be a good gift because they're a Leigh Radford design from the One Skein book. They would also be a good gift because I'm nearly done with them. I do want them for myself, and I'm very happy with the yarn and beads that I chose. What better gift to give than one you want yourself? The project knits up quickly and it would be simple for me to create another pair for myself.

North Kiddo has not yet kept an appointment to spend time with me, so it may get put off until next week. This is one of the features of being nine, if my recollection serves me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Yarn Packages

I did sew on one set of buttons on the baby surprise jackets this weekend. I also did the final row of knitting on the white one, so I'm ready to proceed to the I-cord edging. Hooray for me! Progress!

North Kiddo did not make it over on Friday night, but she plans on coming over on Monday evening. The nice ladies at Tangle , where I sat on Sunday afternoon and sewed on buttons, offered some excellent help and advice for teaching kiddo to knit. They suggested that I have her start a learning knitting blob (hey, isn't the yarn harlot also knitting a blob?) and then start a garter stitch scarf as a first project. Cool. We have enough needles for that. Also at Tangle I met Amanda who blogs at Bulldog Knits. Cool again. Her gloves look much better in person then in her photos.

And Dr. Parts reports that I have two packages waiting for me at home, one from Florida and one from Hawaii! They're both yarn packages! One is Lorna Laces sock yarn that I acquired from Ebay. The other is my delightful OSSP angel's stuff. She's in Hawaii, but only until she moves to Portland. I can't wait to go home and see and touch the yarn!

And sew on buttons for the pink & green sweater. And the Hippy Baby Jacket. No, really. I mean it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Teaching North Neighbor Kiddo to knit

So, North Neighbor's kid comes over a few times a week, ostensibly to help with her homework, although she prefers to play boardgames. This is supposed to, on my side, limit the amount of unscheduled time she wants to come over to our house by imposing structure on it, and in theory, improve her life, by letting her be exposed to another version of normal, that is, different from the normal life at her household.

North Kiddo hints a lot, which is something I hate, as my mother squelched that habit out of us at a very young age. "Ask or ask not. There is no hint," to paraphrase the Yoda.

Earlier in the year she hinted that I could teach her to knit. I let that comment sail on past, but I did begin collecting knitting supplies and stuff for her birthday in August. I bought a this book & kit from those great folks at Klutz. I acquired a cute kid-sized tote bag, pink & brown, very chic. I bought a little zippered bag at Goodwill. I bought some cheap notions or pulled extras from my knitting bag. I put in some of the free yarn that I won from the Naked Sheep Knit Shop (look, fall class schedules, yippee!).

And I dropped it off around her birthday. She turned nine.

She plans on coming over tonight and we may begin the learning knitting process. I'm scared to death!

She has average to above-average intelligence. She has average to low-average attention span. She loves pink. A pretty normal kid, whatever normal means.

The Klutz kit comes with nice denim blue skeins of yarn (without laundering or content labels-how annoying), which I must make into balls for her. This may involve using the swift which came from her household for a ridiculously low amount of compensation. Yes, I feel guilty.

Math is a challenge for her, when it's math on paper. The knitting may be good for her and her math, since, when we knitters want to create just the right thing, we will do the math required to make our knitting projects come out just so, even though we might not sit down and do a worksheet just for fun. She's a great reader.

I may start out by casting on for her and doing some practice garter stitch pot holders. Or maybe we'll use the free pink yarn and start a practice garter stitch scarf she could wear this winter. Maybe I'll let her be inspired by leafing through the Knit Stitch book.

Gosh, I hope this goes well and that neither of us gets frustrated & gives up.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Angel

Just one day after I wrote a whiny, self-pitying post about being an exchange orphan, I get an email from this nice lady in Hawaii. She's my One-Skein Secret Pal exchange Angel. She's really cool, and chatty, and has doggies, and seems to be planning a move to live in Portland.

What fun! I like her a lot already. Gosh, if she only sends me emails, never mind yarn, I think I'm still ahead of the game.

And I still didn't sew on any buttons.

Twig suggested and Judy seconded the bribery method of motivation. Sew on a button: buy more yarn. I may be going with this. At least it's better for my health than the baked goods or ice cream method of motivation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Exchange Orphan

So, the One-Skein Secret Pal organizers at Interweave Press recently put out a plea for angels to resuce their ten "orphans" of their One-Skein Secret Pal exchange. I am one such orphan.

Great. They had nearly 400 persons sign up and almost all of them successfully gifted their pal. Mine did not.

Well, I wish her the best. I imagine that terrible and unavoidable complications of life have presented problems to her that have prevented her participation. I'm sure she would have participated and kept her commitment, had she been able to do so.

I'm trying to put the best face on this. To my pal (the one who got fab yarn from me-Lorna's Laces & Blue Moon), I described it as a lesson in 'tis better to give than to receive'. And usually, I'm okay with being the gifter and not the giftee.

But maybe I'm just having a down week. My feet hurt. I have to sew on buttons (dammit). I'm not having a peak knitting experience. I'm nowhere near finishing my gift to my pal, which I should finish and send to her in August. Yuck-only a little time left in August! Maybe I need more meds.

So, if you're out there, and are thinking about being a One-Skein Secret Pal angel, please remember me. I could use a hug this week. A nice wooly sock-yarn hug.

Dratted buttons

Again, I am stymied by the buttons. I must have a lot of resistance to sewing on the buttons. I can tell, because I haven't done it.

Am I hesitant to give away the baby sweaters? I don't know. I haven't touched the knitting much, because I told myself that the next thing that I should do is to sew on those buttons. I know. I'll feel better once I just sew the stupid things on and get it over with.

And yet, I don't do it.

Human nature.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Little Brown Setbacks

The cute little doggie chewed off the imperfectly sewn-on buttons from J'meer's baby sweater. They were wooden turtles. The dog decided that they were a threat to the continued existence of the universe and had to be destroyed. She did so efficiently. She is such a good protector. Usually it is the cats who recognize such threats, often veiled in the guise of African Violet plants.

Earlier this week, the dog took out my project for my One-Skein Secret Pal to examine it in greater detail. She took the thing off the needles. Now, I would understand if this were on yummy wooden or bamboo needles. But it's not. It's on vintage green metal needles, the kind that are going shiny at the points and are going to get all scuffed at the shoulder. I bought a set on Ebay to give me a good range of needle sizes to choose from.

This project is from the Mason-Dixon book and is made of linen. (Can you guess, now? Can you?) I find it to be rather difficult, as I cannot see the pattern that I'm supposed to be seeing. I can't even tell how many repeats happen across the project. The Ann & Kay suggest that you mark the borders, but I might do better marking every square.

The dog removed it from its metal needles, which I thought were safe, and chewed up the counter I was using on it. Now, I knew that it was not the best counter for the project. It was one designed to hang off circular needles and was too big for these straights. But still. Why destroy an innocent row counter? I think that I counted correctly. I know I picked up the stitches correctly, eventually. I suppose I'm in the mid-stage of the project, where I hate it, I don't understand it, I doubt my ability to produce it successfully, and wonder why I ever chose this thing. I worked several more rows on Saturday night while sitting on the Zoo lawn, waiting to hear Pink Martini.

A nice young knitter sat next to me. Young, I say. Ha! She was undoubtedly old enough to order her own liquor. She expressed the opinion that she always trusted knitters-see, she is young-and told me about her green beret knitting project. She's having some trouble with tension and tight stitches. She and her girlfriend had the coolest little chairs I've seen in a long time. Not that Dr. Parts and I could rise from such chairs gracefully in public. I was the only one I saw knitting on the lawn, but I did not wander around that much, to spare my feet.

So, now I have to re-acquire buttons for J'meers sweater, and, since I can't find the ones I recall buying, for Audrey's. Darn. I thought plastics were a greater threat to the continued existence of the universe, but they may be safer from the little brown doggy.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Buttons, Bags & Tiles

I don't like to sew on buttons. I don't think I'm doing it right on my knitted baby sweaters. I'll have to check my reference materials to see if anyone tells me how to do such a simple thing as sewing on a button.

I am going to have to seek Judy's help. I want to learn to do her magic cast-on and do a toe-up sock, knit two-at-a-time on two circular needles. I hang out at her blog (a lot) and have read her instructions on her magic cast on, but so far, have not managed to do it successfully. So, in the meantime, using dishcloth cotton yarn, I'm practicing other styles of toe-up cast-ons, making drawstring bags to use to store dominos and other game parts.

I'm a big fan of having the board game pieces stored in wonderfully appropriate bags. You should see the Scrabble people. They have such rules about the bags for storing the Scrabble tiles. See this link for a fabric bag (look, it's just like a sock toe!) . BTW, I love the Scrabble people. They're a little nutty, but I fit right in. And no, I don't have all the two-letter words memorized.

And, the thing is, the rules work! If the bag prevents you from cheating, you can focus on the game without worrying about whether you saw the tile, 'brailled' the tile, or chose a tile at random appropriately, and you can stop worrying about whether your opponent will either.

So far, my tile bag sucks, I think because I placed my increases randomly around the bag, so I have corners. Corners can hide tiles. Maybe this bag will be for RummiKube or dominos.

I may have to stalk Judy again by hanging out at Tangle and getting her to show me her cast-on on person. Or maybe I can keep practicing and I'll figure it out myself.

I have buttons to sew on, in the meantime.