Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ribs & Ridges

Here's the current "big" project I'm working on. It's the Ribs and Ridges sweater from the Summer 2004 Knitter's. It's a Jean Frost design.

Now, I found the exact yarn to purchase, but I decided that I wasn't paying $125 for a sweater. I found an appropriate substitute from Elann, used my $50 shopping credit with Elann and basically got the yarn for free! I like to have a neutral pull over to wear all winter with a variety of things for work and play. My current collection of neutral cotton type sweaters is looking pretty poorly. So a new one is in order. I've adjusted the pattern a bit because I needed it just a hair bigger. But I felt confident in making adjustments since I participated in the FLAK project last winter. (No, that sweater isn't done -- it's marinating.)
I liked the pattern on this sweater because the sleeves are more fitted. For us more ample folks, drop sleeves aren't the most flattering. The basic stitch of the sweater is a broken rib. One of my favorite stitches. I have made socks with this pattern, hats, scarves. It's simple to do on auto-pilot, but enough interest.

The yarn is a microfiber. So, it's machine wash, tumble dry. I even did a couple swatches and washed and dried them. (good girl!) As for progress, the back is done. And I've completed one ball of yarn on the front. (It should take about five balls for the front in total.)

I did order some yarn from KnitPicks this week. More of the FiberTrends felted clogs are needed. My kid finally is showing an interest in not having ice cubes for feet and has requested a pair in yellow and purple. I'll be needed another blue pair. I practically live in these slippers three seasons of the year. (I wear the bottoms right off of them.) Recently on the KnitList there's been a discussion thread about these slippers. And some were recommending KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes as a good, economical yarn to use. In the past, I had purchased some bulk yarn from Elann that worked well. But they're out of it and I though I'd give the Wool of the Andes a go. There's also some varigated yarn coming (Yukon colorway) for a felted purse called Landscape. It's an interesting pattern where the varigated yarn is used to create the pattern. I've always liked that kind of challenge. (Remember the counted cross stitch sampler made with varigated thread? That was back when I could see without a magnifying glass and a 500 watt light.)

Well, I have lots of transcript work to do. Things on my emergency pile are floating to the top to I guess I'd better get typing!
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pine Cone Soup

After moving back to the northern clime from sunny Florida after 17 years, one learns heat, properly applied is a good thing. If you've never experienced it, South Florida in the summer ain't what it's cracked up to be. Anyhow, we have a fireplace and we enjoy using it. And over the past five years I've perfected the art of making a lovely fire in the fireplace.

One ingredient that is most helpful is my homemade firestarters. A friend of mine explained how she makes them. And since I have a huge collection of pine cones, it came naturally. Over the past ten years of making live pine wreaths, I've found what cones work and which ones don't. I use a lot of douglas fir in my wreaths, but douglas fir cones aren't very pretty. But they make great fire starters.

All that is required is to dip them in melted parafin. I have added some crayons for color, but you really can't tell. I have a double boiler set up that is only used for firestarter production. I just pop the cones in the melted wax. Cool them off on newspaper and fill up a basket. Two or three of them in among the kindling and the fire takes off like a charm. Plus they make a nice Christmas present to family members who also build fires.

Makes a nice place to knit by!
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Monday, January 15, 2007

Before Christmas I ran across a KAL that featured the knitted Gnomes of Alan Dart, and I just had to get my hands on the pattern. After much searching of the internet, I discovered that the KAL was done by folks primarily living in the Scandanivania countries, and that the pattern is virtually not available in the U.S.

So, here's the deal. Alan Dart is a prolific designer of knitted (and some sewn) children's toys. There's an extensive line of dogs and cats, as well as fairy tale bunnies, Dicken's style mice, penguins, and Santa's. There are kits and there are patterns. He is also frequently featured in the British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting.

The Gnomes were featured in a pull out of the magazine. It is often available on E-Bay and is highly valued, since it regularly goes for over $25 plus shipping (just for the pattern!) Don't get me wrong, I really like the gnomes, but I have a problem paying that much for just the pattern that is being resold. Also, the magazine has a note on their website that they will ship you the pattern if you send them money, and they'll take the currency of your country. So, back on December 8 I shipped them off a check in US Dollars that was actually more than what they were requesting. And now I'm sitting here waiting with my fingers crossed. The check hasn't cleared the bank yet, but I'm hopeful. They say they'll ship out the pattern within twenty days of receiving your request.

So, in the meantime, I did pick up this kit on E-bay. It has the pattern and yarn to make Santa and just the pattern for Mrs. Claus. I've never made a knitting doll before and I thought it might be fun. At least I have plenty of time to work on him before Christmas rolls around again.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me that the Gnomes pattern arrives.
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Sunday, January 14, 2007


The Fetching fingerless gloves found at Knitty, seem to be the project du jour. You'll find them all over the internet. So, of course, I had to try my had at them. My first attempt was done with black Red Heart acrylic (gasp) and I carried along a ladder yarn. Actually I thought the ladder yarn greatly improved the Red Heart acrylic. However, knitting them on size 6 double points made the end product pretty stiff, and it hurt my hands to knit with it.

The second attempt which has since been frogged was done with some Elann Baby Silk (double strand) and a carried along ladder yarn. Much more comfortable to work with, but the ladder yarn really covered up the cables. Plus the DD really wanted black and the Baby Silk was a lovely plum color.

So, we wound up with black Red Heart acrylic (gasp) as the final product. And honestly it turned out pretty good.
The DD likes them, but I can't see her wearing them too much. I mean, I can't hardly get her to wear more than a sweatshirt to school on mornings when it's 15 degrees. But then again, the cold weather really hasn't show up yet here in Central PA -- there's hopes for this week. So, maybe, just maybe she'll wear them. It does help that her friends think that her mom knits some cool things. And at age 12 cool is the name of the game!

I know that I haven't written much for months and I'm going to try to do better. Much has happened since August in my life and just now the dust is clearing and we're looking forward to some normalacy.
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