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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Damn! Damn! Damn!

I'm kicking myself for not crocheting the damn string between them. I kept saying I would do that, and I never got around to it. Grrrr!
The worst part is that it was me who lost them. It happened in the midst of my chaotic effort to wrangle two big coats, a scarf, my keys, two newly-created drawings from the school day, a screeching toddler and the mittens to the car.

If they come back to us, I swear I will attach them permanently to my son's coat.

They were good, irreplaceable friends and everyone around here is feeling low.


Friday, January 26, 2007

BRAVO Wendy Bernard!

Two things make Sahara the most gratifying sweater I've ever knit. One is that nothing, truly nothing, is more delicious to touch than Malabrigo yarn (except maybe cashmere itself). I read on someone's blog recently (it was late, and I was in a daze so forgive me for not remembering whose) that it's impossible not to enjoy knitting a sweater when you want to have sex with the yarn. She was referring to Malabrigo.

As you may be able to discern from my in-progress pictures, I have acquired one hank of a somewhat darker and more solid blue (shade Azul Profundo) for the lace bits. I wanted a more solid color right next to my face and I thought it would be a better choice (less busy) when knitted into lace than the many-valued Oceanos shade that I'm using for the majority of the sweater.

The second thing that makes this sweater a dream to knit is the pattern. It's filled with customization tips that allow the knitter to make the waist more or less fitted, the hips fuller or narrower, the sleeves any length desired etc. It's clearly and thoughtfully written and the top down design is so great. I am loving the way it fits so far and I'm thrilled because this is the first time I've been successful making something for myself that fits so well.

I made a few changes which you may have already noticed. I shortened it by about 3.5 inches. Without the drapey yarn, I thought this length would be more flattering, plus I'm fond of showing off my belt. I also skipped the shirttail shaping, as I thought it would be goofy on my now shortened sweater.

My only complaint is with the graphic design of the pattern itself. Is it really necessary to cram information, instructions, tips and diagrams onto every available centimeter of the page?
It's crowded and cumbersome to find information easily. I wish they had gone ahead and spread it onto the 8 pages it needs. That aside, I am extra pleased.

Next, I begin the sleeves. I'm making them long. Then the lace panel up front to cover the boobies and voila. fini.

Thank you Wendy Bernard, for designing a beautiful sweater and writing a terrific pattern that can suit almost anyone. If you ever find yourself in my neighborhood, I'd love to invite you in for a super good cup of coffee and some knitting.


Monday, January 22, 2007
Sweet Talk

I wanted to take several pictures of this little sweetheart to get just the right shot. I kept trying to capture the pure chalky whiteness but I couldn't stand it anymore and I ate it. This little white heart represents my first Project Spectrum effort. You can read about project spectrum here. In February and March I'll be celebrating and capturing the colors blue, white and grey.

Yes. I know it's not February yet. I just couldn't resist a teeny beginning. I will show more restraint hereafter and begin my official color celebration in February.

Where did I get that delicious sweetheart, you ask? Why, it was sent by Emmy, my lovely KMKS partner and it came along with all kinds of things that filled me with delight.

In addition to the classic Necco Sweethearts, she sent:
It was fun, fun, fun to open and I can hardly wait to make myself some flip-top mittens with the blue yarn.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Emmy! I'm giddy.

My Sahara Sweater is coming along FAST. I'm just finishing the lace edging at the bottom of the main sweater. Then, all I have to do is sleeves and the lace panel up front. The freakishly cold winter we're having is serving as great inspiration to knit constantly. This is going to be one warm sweater.

Sewing has been consuming my thoughts ever since I finished the KMKS bag. My yearnings sent me to the bookstore last week, where I indulged in Amy Butler's In Stitches and Sew U by Wendy Mullin.

The next thing I'd like to sew is Amy Butler's Weekender Travel Bag.

I saw this FANTASTIC example made by the very impressive Elliphantom Knits, and I knew I HAD to have one too.

I am filled with creative ideas these days and I can't seem to stop making stuff. The unfortunate downside to that is that I am not sleeping much.

Extremely ironic, since the baby is finally sleeping like a superstar.

Here's to short, deep sleep. cheers!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Welcome Baby Julian!

Pattern: Adapted from Hats that Fit by Nancy Lindberg
Source: Hats that Fit pattern leaflet
Yarn: Araucania Atacama, 100% Alpaca shade 502 (aqua/turquoise) part of 1 ball
Needles: US 6 straights

Modifications: I used the formula in the Hats that Fit pattern to determine an approximate number of cast on stitches and I followed it's suggestions for the depth of the hat. Thereafter, I departed from the pattern. I used a simple 3/2 rib so that it would be really stretchy and I decreased gradually and carefully to maintain the ribs. I knit it flat and seamed it because I couldn't find appropriate circulars. I added a cute little tassel.

Unstretched, the hat is teeny, tiny. Without the cuff, it was a perfect fit for the almost one and a half year old, with plenty of stretch leftover. The four and a half year old could wear it comfortably, except it wasn't deep enough to cover his ears.

I sent my KMKS package out on Tuesday the 16th - r
ight on schedule. It's heading all the way to Cambridge, England so I hope it gets there in a reasonable period of time. I am hoping that my pal still doesn't know who I am and it is therefore safe to share these pics of the package I sent.

The bag was inspired by this one. I used interfacing to give it lots of body and I lined it with fabric from a super-soft felted lambswool sweater. I was mostly happy with the result. My only complaint are the smallish openings at the top. They make it impossible to pass anything larger than a tennis ball into the bag. The overall size of the bag is small, so I'm hoping that small openings will not cause her much heartache. I think I'll make a much larger one for myself.

Here's a peek at the whole package. This was especially fun because my giftee lives overseas and was hoping to get some American loot. I sent lots of regional goodies.

On the other end of the swap, I've had the nicest correspondence with my gifter. She has been extra gracious and sweet in all her messages and I'm looking so forward to my package! Thanks in advance for your thoughtfulness "Knittingsurprise"!

So far, a really rewarding first swap experience.

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Monday, January 15, 2007
Great news: the baby sleeps!

We are exhilarated (and a little surprised) to find that the baby can sleep for several hours without interruption. One might expect that with all these newfound nighttime hours, I would be getting to bed at a reasonable hour to enjoy long stretches of blissful sleep. Instead, last night I stayed up knitting until past 1am. It was so enjoyable and I was so surprised at not hearing a peep from the other room, that I just kept on knitting feverishly until my eyes were crossing and I was drooling from delirium.

The best part: following that, I curled up and enjoyed 5 straight hours of sleep. That may sound lame to someone who is accustomed to 8 or 9 hours of sleep, but for me it was delicious.

Part of my frenzied knitting was owed to my excitement over this:

The Sahara Sweater by Wendy Bernard. Ignore, if you can, the extremely thin model and imagine it on someone a little curvier. Nice huh?

I spent last week repeatedly trying on my Malabrigo Mama and feeling big doubts. It was just looking like a shapeless tube and it drew a visual line right through the middle of my bust. Not a good look for me. After a little agonizing, i decided that it would never be flattering and it would break my heart to use such luscious yarn for something I would never want to wear. So I happily ripped out all my progress and felt no regret.

The Sahara sweater is designed for a beautiful drapey silk yarn. I am using Malabrigo knit on US 6 needles (to get gauge), so my Sahara will be dense and not at all drapey. I know it's not what Wendy Bernard had in mind for her sexy, swingy Sahara, but I'm taking a chance and I think it will be perfect *fingers crossed, breath shallow*.

This picture was taken yesterday before my thrilling 5 hour knitting marathon. It now almost reaches my belly button.

I love that it is knit from the neck down and in one piece! I've tried it on many times as I make progress which is giving me big thrills.
Right now I'm asking myself why anyone would ever knit a sweater any other way.

After waiting almost three months for my LYS to get me more yarn for the infamous dad scarf, I finally gave up and decided to order it online. Two skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, color chocolate, were delivered this weekend. I'm happy to see it, especially since this is the coldest winter on record, the scarf is a birthday present and dad's birthday was May 7.

I'm filled with shame.

Yesterday, I finished a nifty little knitting project bag for my KMKS pal.

I was so deliriously happy to be sewing again, I almost didn't mind that my glorious new Bernina is mysteriously not working. I struggled with it for awhile but finally gave up and dusted off my old Montgomery Ward sewing machine. I've had the Montgomery Ward since I was eleven and it has many annoying quirks. I was reminded what a fine machine my new one is (thanks dad!)

I had fun, nonetheless, and I remembered how very much I love sewing.

My KMKS package was so much fun to compile, especially since my pal lives overseas and covets American chocolate and yarn.

It ships out tomorrow and I will post pictures of the whole pile as soon as it's well on it's way.

This just in:
Exuberant congratulations to my dear friends Marcie, Dave and Jasper who welcomed baby Julian into the world yesterday morning (January 14th). I know they are way too occupied by more important things to ever read this, but I send the message with love anyway!

I will surprise them with a BSJ soon. (If you are Marcie, Dave or Jasper don't click that link).


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Sunday, January 07, 2007
Two baby things

: One Piece Baby Kimono by Christina Shiffman
Source: Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarns: Araucania Nature Wool, shade 26 (orange) part of 1 ball
Rowanspun DK, shade 734 (blue) part of 1 ball
Needles: US 7 Addi Turbo
Knitting Time: 4 very late nights. Far longer than
anticipated for such a wee sweater.

Modifications: This sweater was a gift for my cousin's baby daughter who is due in early February. I wanted it to be woolly warm for the season, so I opted against the Peaches & Creme cotton called for by the pattern. Also, I added six-stitch cables to fancy it up a bit. I regret a little that it will only fit her for about 5 minutes, but I just didn't have time to knit something practical and fabulous.

And for when she grows bigger:

Pattern: adapted from the Dougie Dog Hat by Lucinda Guy
Source: Handknits for Kids by Lucinda Guy

Yarns: Araucania Nature Wool, shade 26 (orange) part of 1 ball
Rowanspun DK, shade 734 (blue) part of 1 ball
Needles: US 6 straight
Knitting Time: One weekend at the in-laws, and a couple after-bedtime hours.

Modifications: I must begin with a confession. This hat was originally intended for a baby boy. But, my yarn substitution gave me a vastly different gauge from Pattern's and I didn't compensate for the difference as well as hoped. I wound up with an excellent little hat that fit my own head. This was a bit tragic and I was filled with loss for about five minutes, then it hit me! I'll FELT it!
As many of you know from experience, felting is a rarely a clean, simple solution to a knitting gauge disaster. The hat felted very little in width, and too much in length. The two yarns felted at different rates, turning the previously snug little cabled brim into a ruffle. A lot of the sweet faux-cable stitch detail was lost. I pulled on it like hell to bring the length back, and then I made a nice little i-cord, cut little slits right in the felt to thread it through and VOILA! A swingy, girly little thing.

My cousin was thrilled with the gift, and I was disturbed by my feelings of yearning each time I saw another adorable baby sleeper.

Now I'm off to knit something boyish for my still-pregnant (?) Seattle friend.

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Monday, January 01, 2007
Have you heard?

Record breaking snow has filled everyone in these parts with glee. There is nothing like falling snowflakes to fill you with hope and comfort.

We built snowmen to greet the cars driving by. We skated down the middle of the road on our boots. I blathered on and on about the many virtues of wool. Rufus and Bargy were positively covered with snow and still did a damn fine job keeping little fingers warm and dry.

On a productive note, I have been madly knitting a little hat for a soon-to-be-born baby boy in Seattle. His mommy is an excellent friend who came all the way to New Mexico after my second kiddo was born and who pretends (for our benefit) that her guest quarters is actually named for my family. I have big knitting plans for this special little guy, but his birth has snuck up on me (and is landing too damn near Christmas). I will send a hat now and something more worthy of his cuteness soon, soon, soon.

And speaking of excellent knitted gifts, I must show you one of my very favorite Christmas gifts. A pair of sweet fingerless mittens knitted just for me by my gracious and wonderful mother-in-law. She knit them with Goddess Yarns Julia and they. are. yummy. Not to mention, cute. I love them.

Happy New Year!

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