Monday, April 30, 2012

LAST DAY! Take Steps, Be Heard for CCFA

Final day of the fundraiser!

We're at nearly $400, not too shabby!

Still have those 10 prizes to give away, doesn't matter if you're the first to donate or the last; any donation earns you an entry into the drawing!

So donate.



Did I mention donate?

If we don't raise $500, Dory will go to jail:


Just kidding. Kinda.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Take Steps, Be Heard--final days!

I know, you're sick of hearing about it.

But the good news is, it's almost over! Today, Sunday and Monday are the final 3 days of my fundraiser for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

The bad news is, we're only about halfway to our goal.

But the even more good news is, the number of donors is relatively low, so if you donate, you have an excellent chance of winning a prize.

Like this:


Or this:


Or this:


Or one of seven other prizes!

So if you've been waiting to donate, wait no longer. Do it today!

Friday, April 27, 2012

On ancient artifacts

Approximately 77 years ago, or possibly on September 1, 2010, I started knitting a Deep V Argyle Vest. I had every intention of finishing this vest on or about November 30, 2010.

Needless to say, that didn't happen.

Otherwise I wouldn't be writing this post, would I?

No, other life events cropped up, other more pressing knitting, and the vest was pushed aside. It's spent the last . . . 16 months or so in this project bag:


But I still really want to own this vest.

For starters, I love Eunny's design.

And I adore the colors I picked for it.

And I like vests.

So I have every intention of finishing this vest.

Even if, today, it still looks like this:


And I'm not even certain exactly where I left off.

The vest pattern includes something that strikes fear in the heart of every knitter--steeking.

With that in mind, and having recovered from wasting my time with a steeking class at Rhinebeck last year, I signed up to take a class on steeking at Fibre Space this past Tuesday.

The class covered both handsewn steeks (useful on non-wool yarns) and crochet steeks. Crochet steeks were what I was most interested in, and worried about, given that most days, I can barely remember how to do a single crochet.

Way back in September 2010 when I was planning for my vest, I knit a swatch--in the round, with vertical stripes for the steek, for practice. And then left it sitting in the bag with the rest of the vest. This seemed like a good time to pull it out, so I brought it with me to class.

The instructor ooh'd and aah'd over my swatch and color choices, and that made me feel special. Yay!

But then, the hard part came.


It wasn't really that hard.

I did a somewhat sloppy single crochet along two separate columns of stitches, and then sliced the swatch open.

Easy peasy.


(The instructor didn't measure off enough yarn for one of the rows of crochet, so that top corner is unraveling, but since it's a swatch, no biggie. I'll be certain to measure off more than enough yarn when I do it for real.)

You can see the crochet is holding the yarn nice and tight, no reason to worry.


She even went over how to pick up stitches to do whatever finishing you're going to do--picking up stitches is a little awkward in the middle of the piece of fabric, so I appreciated a lesson on that.

I left the class feeling confident about steeking, while simultaneously hoping I'll still remember everything we did months (years?) from now, when I'm finally ready to steek my vest.

And now that I've steeked ONE WHOLE TIME, I'm thinking about putting together a little tutorial for the blog.

Because if I can do it, anyone can.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On movin' on up

We did something awesome yesterday.

We bought a house.

Well, to be more accurate, we signed a contract to buy a house, assuming it's not leaking radon, infested with dementors, or dissolving into a sinkhole.

Look, here it is!

A little obscured by the tree (look at all that shade! Bet it keeps the front of the house nice and cool in the summer), but this is it. 

It's awesome.

The master bedroom has a "sitting room;" I've already taken to calling it my yarn room. It has a big, beautiful window where I plan to put in a window seat and knit away.

It has a lovely kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a squillion cabinets, and an island.
(Well, it will be lovely after we paint it; it's currently BRIGHT PURPLE. What are people thinking?)

It has a finished basement where CP can play all the video games he wants without their obnoxious repetitive sound effects annoying me.

It has a woodburning fireplace, a flagstone patio in the backyard, and more than enough space for a veggie garden. And hydrangea bushes. And lilacs!

And it's a five minute walk from a very dear friend of mine.

It's not perfect. Our commute time will likely double, and it has one of those nitpicky home owners' associations. But those are things I'm willing to live with to have a gorgeous house in a quiet neighborhood (and still an easy drive to D.C. when we want a night out on the town).

No more crazy upstairs neighbor flooding our condo.

No more doors and windows rattling every time someone drops the dumb bells on the floor in the gym.

No more hauling our groceries through the garage, into the elevator and down the hall, raining grapes along the way.

Mail delivered directly to us instead of being entrusted to front desk staff who promptly lose it.

Walking right out the back door for some fresh air.

I know the time will fly by, but I feel like moving day can't get here fast enough!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory

Dory really doesn't like snuggles. But I do!

Let me preface this by saying, last night I caught Dory trying to play with a bit of the design on the rug. So she may not really be all there, mentally.

Dear Dory,

I've tried and tried, but my cat just refuses to learn her name. I call for her and it's like she doesn't even hear me. What can I do? If she remains nameless, she might have an identity crisis!

Ignored in Illinois

Dear Ignored,

Trust me, your cat knows her name (and she likely hates it). She probably understands every word you say. But we do things on our own schedule. If you wanted a pet that comes when you call, you really should've gotten a smelly ol' dog.

If it's really essential to you that your kitty come when called, try calling her while holding a can of tuna.Voila!

Have a purrrrrfect day!


Well, wasn't that insightful? Another problem successfully resolved by the world's crankiest cat.

And don't forget, cranky or not, Dory still wants to see some more donations coming in for the CCFA! Don't miss your chance to win delicious yarn and other prizes, donate today!

Nelly's less irritated. Or just not fully awake.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On accidents

I had a bit of a, um, yarn "accident" this afternoon:


I didn't intend to do any yarn shopping, but we got a call asking for a showing of the condo, so we had to make ourselves scarce for about an hour. What better way to do so than to visit Fibre Space??

I came away with just this, which I think shows at least some restraint. Sort of. Although with MD Sheep and Wool in just 2 weeks, I know I really shouldn't have bought anything.

Oh well.


I also wanted to give you guys a peek at the latest shipment I received from the Madelinetosh yarn club:


This is the new (I think?) Tosh Mo, a blend of superwash merino and kid mohair (70/30). I'm not usually one for mohair, but I don't find it scratchy or unruly in this blend. The yarn is soft, and the color is gorgeous, a silvery/sage/cream. Ravelry has it listed as a DK, but after knitting up a swatch, I definitely think it's a worsted. I'm hoping to turn it into a short-sleeved cardi, possibly this one (with, you know, short sleeves, obviously).

And last but certainly not least, these arrived in the mail, soon to become some new designs!


For someone hoping to move soon, I certainly am accumulating an absurd amount of yarn. 

Which brings me to another point: just over a week until my fundraiser for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America comes to an end! Now is the time to donate--you'll be entered to win a prize, and I'll be able to mail the prizes out, giving me one less thing to pack up and move. Do it today! We've got $350 to go until I reach my goal--so spread the word. Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry, tell everyone you know--small donations add up, and every bit counts!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesdays with, er, no one


Dory's too tuckered out to answer any questions today--our condo is finally on the market, which means strangers are tramping in and scaring the bejeezus out of her on a regular basis, so extra napping is required to recover.

(Actually, I'm stuck in a meeting all week and don't have the brain power to come up with any clever kitty advice today.)

So instead, here are some random photos from my life:

This distracted us from work for a few minutes this morning:


This was pretty awesome to see yesterday:


Plugging away at Terry's Pullover for my dad:


Here's how we spend Easter in my family: blowing each other up


Popcorn with Old Bay--a winning combination:


And a new design in the works:


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory

Don't waste your money on a cat bed, 'cause here's where I'm gonna sleep

Dear Dory,

My very dear friend has cat allergies, and just can't stand to be around my kitties. I don't want to shut them up in a room when she visits, what should I do??

Lonely in Lewisburg

Dear Lonely,

There's no such thing as cat allergies. Your so-called friend just hates cats and wants us to suffer.

Cut your losses and make new friends. Or adopt more cats.

Have a purrrrrr-fect day!


As you can see, Dory's not too sympathetic when it comes to human suffering. What do you expect, she's a cat! But she IS in favor of making donations to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, especially when it means you could win a knit-y prize!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Taking Steps, Being Heard

A quick update, we've had some very generous donations rolling in recently (YAY!), but we've still reached only 1/5 of our fundraising goal! So don't forget, you have until the end of this month to make a donation and be entered to win a fun, knitting/crochet/spinning-related prize! All the details are over here in my original post.

Every little bit helps!

Just in case you've forgotten some of the prizes . . .



Thursday, April 5, 2012

On close calls

It seems that 2012 might be the year of Squeaking Out Projects with Just Enough Yarn.

I already had a close brush with my Norie hat, and most recently, I nearly ran out of yarn to complete the Juneberry Triangle.


Ravelry link

I had 4 skeins of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes on hand to complete this shawl, which is 440 yards. The pattern actually calls for 480.

I think I stopped breathing as I neared the final few inches of the edging.

I even ripped out my gauge swatch.


Somehow, the yarn gods intervened, and I'm now the proud owner of this rustic looking shawl.

I believe this is my first "real" lace project. Of course, it's not knit in lace weight, but it has patterning on both sides, and a knit on edge, so in that sense, it's more lacy than any shawl I've completed before.

It looks quite bright in these photos, but is darker in person, the shade is "Hollyberry."


It was amazing to watch the lace patterns grow and flow into one another. I don't know that shawl design is in my future, it seems impossible.

I needed to have this finished for the HPKCHC on Saturday, so sadly it had to be blocked before my new blocking wires arrived. It doesn't look too shabby, except for the crooked top edge, which I hope can be fixed with my new wires and a spritz of water:


I didn't realize until well into the shawl that I'd been doing my bobbles wrong, so some of them don't quite pop, but I'm still pleased with the overall look.


I might just submit this for the Maryland Sheep and Wool garment competition . . .

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory

Dory is researching lace stitches this week

Dear Dory,

I have so very much leftover yarn all over my house--a quarter skein here, a few yards there. It's taking over! It seems like I ought to be able to use it for something. Any ideas?

~Suffocating in Springfield

Dear Suffocating,

Once again, I must remind the hoomins: think of your kittehs! Even small amounts of yarn can be used to make cat toys! Most patterns require 50 yards or less. Try this one. Or this one.  Or these little guys. And don't forget the catnip!

If you don't have enough yarn to make toys, I've got a great idea that will amuse your kitties, and help wildlife! Gather up yarn scraps and leave them outside for birds to use in their nests! If you put them in something like this:

and hang it near your house, your kitties can watch happily as birdies fly by to pick up your scraps. Be sure to avoid including acrylics and other materials that won't break down naturally.

If you insist on using your yarn for yourself, you can use scraps to stuff knit toys or Hexipuffs, rather than spending money on "real" stuffing. You can also make dryer balls. Or even, mini skein Christmas tree ornaments!

There are a few ideas to get your started. Whatever you do, DON'T THROW YARN AWAY. Unless it's acrylic.

Have a purrrrr-fect day!


Monday, April 2, 2012

On perfection

You can stop searching, the world's most perfect sweater has been found.

It's not a February Lady Sweater.

It's not an Owls sweater.

Not even a Tea Leaves cardigan.


Not even close.

It's the Wildflower Cardigan.

Can you believe how comfortable, how perfectly fitting, how gorgeous this turned out?

I'm so in love with this sweater I barely managed to take it off all weekend.

I didn't sleep in it, but otherwise . . .

I had many fears about this cardigan, stemming from the sizing difficulties. The gauge called for is 7st/in. In sport weight. On size 5 needles. I moved down to size 4 needles and still couldn't get it. Knitting the whole thing on size 3 needles seemed out of the question--particularly as it would mean using size 1 and 2 needles for certain portions.

So I did a little math.


I plugged in my gauge--6.5st/in on size 4 needles--and determined that following the directions for the smallest size (32") at that tension would result in a bust around 34.5".

But we all know the dangers--incorrect math, lying liar gauge swatches. Anything could've happened.


But apparently I'm not a total math failure, and my gauge swatches told me the truth for change. My finished sweater has a 35" bust and couldn't fit more perfectly.

(I won't bore you to death with excessive commentary about the pattern itself--we all know Alana's patterns are written perfection, nary an error or unclear instruction to be found.)


Don't I look happy? And kind of over-caffeinated?

I was also thrilled to be working, once again, with madelinetosh yarn. The pattern calls for Pashmina, but in addition to being a bit pricey, I couldn't find anyone carrying it in a color I wanted. I envisioned the sweater knit up in a gray/blue, and finally settled on Well Water, which I was able to find in Tosh Sport--and which is, coincidentally, a little more affordable. I purchased 6 skeins, and have at least 1.5 left, so I estimate that this sweater used 1200 yards (and I never mind having extra madelinetosh lying around!).

I'm now pondering the clothes in my closet, wondering if I have a spring-y dress I could wear this over for Easter.

Because with so few cool weeks left before summer creeps in, I plan to be wearing this thing as often as possible!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Warblers now available on Ravelry

My Warblers pattern, previously available only through the Knit Picks website, is now available for download on Ravelry!


A spring-y fingerless mitt, the Warblers pattern  uses two contrasting shades of fingering weight yarn. The weather may be warming up, but in no time workplaces, grocery stores and movie theaters will be over-air conditioned and frigid. Keep your hands warm and your fingers free with these bright mitts!


Also good for reading Harry Potter while sitting by an outdoor fountain--who doesn't do that every weekend?

You can find a link to Warblers, as well as my other designs on my patterns page.