Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter

Freezing rain is not my friend. I once spun across 3 lanes of I35 trying to drive home in the freezing rain. My neck still suffers the effects of the impact that stopped said spinning. If the words freezing rain are uttered in a forecast, I 'hunker down' and do not emerge from our cozy dwelling until necessary, and until the roads are safely navigable.
Monday's freezing rain, followed by bitter cold, brought the added pleasure of having to chip our way into the vehicles, fun stuff. Mental note- just because the doors finally come open doesn't mean the windows will open, this makes things awkward when attempting to grab some 'fast food', one more reason not to be buying fast food...

But the trees- they were a sight to behold. When the sun shone through it was like living in some magical crystal world, so amazingly beautiful, and so impossible to fully capture on film or video. The neatest thing about this week's freezing rain was the fact that the trees looked like this for days. I don't think ours melted until Thursday afternoon sometime, when it got to a balmy 20 something degrees. (Oh, and it did not make it up to 4 degrees on Monday, in fact it did not make it up to zero. I think we made it to 4 on Tuesday...)

And here we are with another winter storm in our neck of the woods (along with most of the rest of our state, and several others). We've got wood to keep the homefires burning, soup fixings to keep the crock pots busy, popcorn to pop, and a closet full of games to keep active minds occupied- another round of Set, anyone? Oh, and yarn. We have yarn, there is always something to knit around here.
Baby notes: At 2 months old tomorrow, baby Joseph is growing like a weed and has started aggressively sucking/gnawing on hands- my oldest had 2 teeth at 2 months, this could be the beginning of teething already. He is congested, but holding his own with the cold bug that has hit our home- a definite plus to late and large babies, they're hardy. He is a spoiled little sweetie, who definitely prefers sleeping in my arms to any cradle or criblike bed meant for babies. This has resulted in a further decrease in productivity for myself, as well as more than a few achy muscles, but he's cute, and this time goes by way too fast, so I'll continue to indulge him for a little while longer.
Enjoying the winter wonderland (though I could do without the nasty wind chills). How's the weather where you are?
happy knitting-


Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Bulky Thorpe

The Good- a fresh, and heavy, snowfall for the kids to play in.

The Bad- a band of freezing rain, with a severe cold snap on its heels. It might get up to 4 whole degrees above zero tomorrow. You folks who live in places where nobody's even heard of a thing called a "Wind Chill Advisory", let alone felt one on your face or tender extremities like fingers, toes, ears, or nose, count your blessings this week. The bright side? The need for warm knits like this-

The Bulky Thorpe

I had a few hanks of Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky- in an older, camo colorway, that I got at a discount after they discontinued the Duotones. This seemed like the perfect project to finally use it on. This yarn knits up at a 'super bulky' gauge- I got roughly 2.625 sts per inch on size 15 needles, and I'm a tight knitter, really tight at times.

Casting 4 sts on 4 short and chubby size 15 double pointed needles was a bit awkward, to put it lightly, but I was determined. Those first 2 rnds of increases were tediously tight with this yarn, but once I got to knit a stitch or two between those knit into the front and back increases, things went much better. It was so gratifying to see a finished object fly off the needles so quickly (I may knit with a lot more bulky in the future...) and even more gratifying to see a child thrilled to receive it!

I only increased until I had 56 sts and then adjusted the rest of the numbers accordingly. This boy has a pretty big noggin, and the hat seemed huge in my hands, even though the math seemed to work, but it fits just fine and he likes it, so we're all happy. This hat should fit most adults' heads, but if I were going to use this yarn again on another child (one with an average head size), I'd probably stop increasing earlier. 48 sts at the gauge I used would make approximately an 18" hat, which would fit most kids.

I handed it to him before putting on the braided ties, and he said he likes it just the way it is, so this way it will stay, at least for now.

My oldest son is hoping I'll use my other 2 hanks of this same yarn on a similar hat for him. When trying on his brother's, he noticed that the ear flaps are almost long enough to come together, and he's requested that they do so and button, hmmm, that could work. 15 year old son, requesting hand knits, it does my heart good.

Happy knitting

*One other mod- I left off the crochet edging, for 2 reasons. 1, I don't have a crochet hook that big, yet. 2, it really didn't need it. This bulky yarn makes a sturdy edging at the bind off, and the slipped st edges of the ear flaps give them a finished enough look.

**If interested, you can still find several of the Duotones colorways, discounted, at Webs.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm on a Roll

Time to make a hat for my 9 yr old (trying a Bulky Thorpe)- he's old enough to smile for the camera, even if he can't stand having things on his head, which he can, but it seems his wee little brother can't, and yet, I keep knitting baby hats, compulsively... I think I've knit 6 for this little guy, none of which have stayed on very long, but they sure look cute, even on these guys...

Gearing up for a sweater for myself- Eastlake, I'm thinking it would make a good January knit. Need to finish up a new kid's design I'm working on, and a simple scarf in the Brushed Suri, and the big Bulky Thorpe, and... well, we'll see.
Colds and sore throats are moving through the house. We're buying stock in vitamins and medicinal teas as we have 2 asthmatics, one of which has a very bad habit of ending up in the ER or even admitted in the hospital for a few days, every time a wee little bug turns into double pneumonia overnight... trying to avoid that this season. I think I'll be heading to town for a fresh chicken or two to make some good old fashioned Chicken Soup, a la Nourishing Traditions, though I'm not so sure they sell the fresh chicken feet at Cub. A regular ol' carcass will have to do...
I am beginning to succumb to the sore throat myself- time for an energizing hot bath, and an early and hopefully full, night's sleep.
Happy knitting-

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

If They Could Just Stay Little

If they could just stay little 'till their Carters wear out, and maybe their wool socks.

Would you believe that I am already weeding through things that no longer fit this baby? All those newborn clothes, anything that says 0-3 months, oh, and these-
I made him some tiny Garter Rib Socks to match mine. Those were the first socks I ever finished, not the first pair I started, but the first I managed to stay focused on enough to complete. It's rather a bright shade of blue, for the fun and spunky days I guess. Being the compulsive hoarder that I am, I could never bring myself to part with the leftovers from that first skein of sock yarn- I just knew I could use it someday, and I finally did. Now I need to finish another pair of socks so I can have some more leftovers, so the babe can have some more socks, ones with a few more rows to accomodate his growing feet... (I could also use about 24 more hours in my days.)

I still need to get Mercy's hat blocked, isn't that awful? (The crocheted edging has the tiny bit of flaring going on...) Okay, now that I said it (proving to the world my talent and skill at procrastinating) I simply have to get up and block that thing! I mean, this is Minnesota. It has gotten cold, and we finally have snow, which she actually likes to go out and play in, for a few minutes even. Sure, there is a hood on her snowsuit, but it isn't alpaca soft and warm.
I was a wee bit discouraged by her initial reaction to her lovingly handcrafted hat, though...

Kids. My sister may be right- just give them some gel pens and notepads from the dollar spot at Target and they're happy, spend precious knitting time on people who will appreciate it. She may be right, but then again she may be wrong, and my kids could grow up feeling neglected if I spent all my knitting time knitting for myself, I mean, for grown friends and family, ehem. I think I'll give the little buggers a few more chances, and probably some more pens and paper as well... I am such a softie, or is it softy?
Speaking of softies, and gifts, apreciated or not, I've got a book recommendation for this season-

The Mitten, adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett

"In The Mitten, a Ukranian folktale, a boy named Nicki loses his snow-white mitten. He can't find it in the snow... but the woodland animals do!"

A grandmother knitting mittens, white wool, a child playing in the snow, woodland critters- so cute, and I just love the very last illustration, the puzzled look on grandmother's face as she looks at the two mittens... so cute. It would make a wonderful companion to a handknit pair of mittens for a loved one in your life, and every knitting mother should have a handful of beautifully illustrated stories featuring our favorite handcraft, don't you think? Seriously, this is just such a sweet book. (Moms- Jan Brett has a ton of free printables on her site, like these adorable ABC flashcards!)

I've got quite a few projects up my sleeve at the moment, and my Ravelry Queue is getting out of control... No one could knit that much, well, maybe somebody could, somebody who didn't need to eat or sleep for several years, but not me, gonna hafta start cleaning that thing out- one of these days...

*Bonus dinner recommendation (I'm feeling rather random)- I made Meril's Kicked Up Mac and Cheese tonight, Emeril's Essence and all. This one's definitely a keeper- very fun and tasty meal!

Happy knitting-

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Holiday Yarn Winners

I know, I said Monday. I'm going with the 'I have a 6 week old nursing baby' excuse. It's a good excuse. Procrastination being my middle name (not to mention being very easily distractable), not such a good excuse, but also very much a reason for many a thing coming in a wee bit post deadline in my life... My 10th grade Biology teacher, once obviously impressed with my 15 yr old intellect, eloquence, charm, & charisma, told me I could be the first female President some day if I'd just stop procrastinating- I turned in more than one perfect paper late- I told him I'd get right on that, starting tomorow, or maybe the day after...

I realized I couldn't just pick the best sounding recipe, as a couple dear friends entered this time, and I didn't know if I could be trusted to remain impartial, and I can't just go around funneling yarn to my friends... so I had my 7 year old pick numbers, that was easy.

Our first winner, of the Cranberry Worsted, is AuntiEm, and coming in second, for the Sweet Potato Pie Brushed Suri, is Turtle. Congrats, gals! Send your snail mail address to, and I'll get those packages together and try to get them out the door this weekend.

Thanks for all the recipe ideas- I've definitely got some cooking with cranberries to be doing in the next few weeks, and I honestly do plan to try some sweet potato recipes soon too. I'll try to remember to work on my food pics and post my success stories, or if I'm feeling real brave, maybe even my flops- like the classic 8 hour bread, that was a good one... What? You've never heard of 8 hour bread? Well, maybe you will...

Back to the knitting-

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Designs for Blue Sky Alpacas

A running list of designs I've done for Blue Sky Alpacas-

Simple Baby Hat

Tie Sweater

Simple Raglan

Fair Isle Hat Set

Baby Cardigan

Eyelet Cardigan

Kid's Kimono

Fitted Tank

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