Monday, January 30, 2006

Me and My Panta

I finished up blocking and seaming my Panta this weekend, and even wore it out for a walk. It was in the upper 30's but breezy, so definitely perfect Panta weather.

Project Notes: "Panta," free pattern posted on Crafster.
Knitted in Frog Tree Merino, color #31 (I think) on US size 4 needles.

This was a easy little pattern that results in a very useful and cute headband. The Frog Tree merino yarn is interesting. It is barely spun and feels almost fleece-like rather than yarn-like. It does have a tendency to split due to its lack of twist, and also will break if you put too much pressure on it (like I did when I tried to seam with it). As a merino, it's incredibly soft and feels great against the skin. Except for the splitting, I really enjoyed this yarn and the finished fabric has a nice sheen.

In other headwear news, here is a photo of my turquoise hat:

Turquoise hat went rip rip rip. Although it came out slightly better than the one made from the Color Waves yarn, it still looked too bulky. Hmmm....bulky yarn + head = bulky head! Guess it shouldn't have been a surprise. Instead, I decided to use the giant ball of cream SteinbachWolle to start a seed stitch beret. The pattern is one that my Grandma cut out for me from Woman's Day magazine:So far this seems to be working out well...gauge spot-on, size seems to fit, plenty of's making me nervous! Let us all do a dance to the knitting gods that my knitting curse is lifted! ;)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Knitting Curse

I seem to be under a cloud this week when it comes to knitting, so I don't have much to show. First, I tried to start a Trellis cardigan for my co-worker's soon-to-be baby (his wife is due in March). I used a big ol' ball of Steinbach Wolle Jumbo yarn that I found on sale at yarn store in Connecticut. It is 80% acrylic and 20% wool, and machine washable which seemed perfect for baby clothes. However, this yarn was just not happening for gauge, so I ripped out what little I had done. The pattern calls for Rowan All-Seasons Cotton, and I actually have some in my stash, but it's hand washable only. Hand wash baby clothes? This seems like more of a curse than a gift! I'm starting to think about just contributing to the office pool for a gift instead!

Then I tried to knit this hat pattern using some Lion Brand Color Waves yarn. This is what the hat looks like now:

Yup, ripped it. It came out WAY too big! I looked like I had a big mushroom on my head. I really like this yarn despite being Lion Brand, it is quite soft and with very pretty sunset colors. I think I might just make a simple soft scarf with it instead.

Last night I cast on for the same hat pattern but using two strands of Lion Brand Homespun:

I'm not sure if this is going to work either. I couldn't find the yarn the pattern calls for. The good news is that this hat only takes an hour or two to make, so if it comes out bad I haven't wasted too much time.

I forgot to show the new book I received in the mail last weekend: I'm so excited about this book! I have been wanting to get this for the last year, so I took advantage of the Barnes and Noble gift card my mom gave me for my birtday to finally order it. I love almost every pattern in it, but here are some of the ones I'm considering doing first:

Cherie, which is the dark tweed-y boatnecked sweater.
Collette...the striped panels are done in lace patterns. I might pick different colors if I do this one. Salina, a very pretty basic pullover. I really want to do something in tweed yarn, can ya tell? I think this one is called Beau. G and I both looked at this book separately. Afterwards, I told him I really wanted to make him this one and he actually liked it too (this is a rare occurrence). It's also done in tweed yarn.

I'm going to mail order some yarn tonight, so I'll probably get yarn for at least one of these. I know you're all on the edge of your seats wondering which one I'll pick!

Here's one last picture, which I took while I was visiting a site for my job. Can you see the little track of mouse prints? I think that snow bank must have seemed like Everest to him! Have a good weekend everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Introducing Twist

Twist is done! I am quite pleased at how this came out, despite my extra-long sleeves. You can see how I have them folded up in this photo, but I don't think they look all that bad.

Pattern Notes:

"Twist", pattern available from ChicKnits. Knitted in Cascade 220, color #9545 (Purple Heather) on US size 6 needles.

I really enjoyed this pattern. I had some difficulties but they were definitely my fault, not the designer's! Cascade 220 is a wonderful yarn--very soft and reasonably priced, with a huge color selection. I see more Cascade in my future. I think this pattern would have been a quick knit had I not made all kinds of mistakes. I started it in early November, ugh I am slow!

Here is a photo of the cardigan when it is open, and without a flash: I also spent this weekend knitting up a spiral scarf in the Berrocco Optik I wound last week. I used a pattern that was posted on the Knitter's Review Forums. The pattern was very simple:

Use 150 to 190 yards of yarn on Size 11 or 13 needles. Cast on 90 stitches. *Knit one row. Next row, knit into the front and back of every stitch.* Repeat between *'s two more times. Knit one row. Bind off.

Unfortunately I can't find the thread anymore, and I don't know who posted it, so hopefully whoever it was won't be upset that I posted it here!

This may not have been the best yarn for this pattern, but I like the way it looks...very crazy! For some reason it makes me think of Jimi Hendrix, heh heh. I am going to give it to a friend who likes lots of color and texture in her clothes, so I think it should go over well. While I was in Bangor, I bought two more skeins of this yarn at half price (in a different color) so I can make one for another friend's birthday. I think I am going to make each of them a hat too, plus a hat for myself with some Lion Brand Homespun I picked up this weekend. I forgot to take pictures of the new yarn, oh well!


Friday, January 20, 2006


While I was working today, I looked out my window and saw this landing: An Army helicopter! It landed on our grass helipad, which is used in the summer by various state helicopters. An Army chopper in the middle of winter is definitely something new. It's amazing that enough snow has melted that it could even land there, most years there'd be two feet of snow. I can't figure out where it could possibly be coming from or going to, either.

Here are some cool pictures of it taking off:

In knitting news, we now have buttons, button holes, and the beginnings of a collar on the "Twist" cardigan:

The button holes weren't too hard, although I did spend two hours practicing different sizes and styles to determine what would work best with the buttons. The buttons are shell, and have a purple-ish, iridescent sheen that makes them blend in with the yarn (when the camera flash isn't making them glow that is). I am going to try to finish the collar tonight, so maybe by Monday I will have a completed photo to share.

I also wound two balls of Berrocco Optik last night:This will hopefully become a spiral scarf for a friend's birthday, but I am not sure this type of yarn will work for the pattern. Should be fun to try...if it doesn't work I'll make a different kind of scarf. This stuff could be kind of a pain to frog, though.

I heading down to Bangor (AKA "The 'Gor" or "The Big City") on Saturday, and I have a few planned stash enhancements. If all goes well I should have some photos of some new yarn on Monday too. Have a good weekend, everyone! :)


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Whole Lotta Knittin' Goin On

Well the weekend was a wash, weather-wise (Sat and Sun nights had minus 30 degree windchills). Since I was pretty much stuck inside, I got quite a bit of knitting done.

Just in time for the cold weather, I present:

Labrador Diamonds Mittens! Pattern is from the book "Favorite Mittens" by Robin Hansen. The yarn is Fisherman two-ply from Bartlett Yarn, colors: Rust Heather and Natural. Here is a photo of the palm, which is done in a pattern called "Salt and Pepper":

Here is the wrong side of the knitting. The strands of yarn that are not in use get carried along the back and make it look like a photo-negative of the front.

I washed the mittens (Bartlett yarns are notoriously dirty--I had to rinse it a few times to get the water to run clear) and they dried just in time for me to wear them to work this morning. They were nice and warm, though I wish I had made them just a teeny tiny bit smaller. Hey, no big deal though.

Once I finished the mittens, I decided to start another small project. I'm joining the crowd and making a Panta (headband). Here's a photo of it in progress:

I am making it in a nice soft merino, in a blue-purple color (this picture makes it look a bit more vibrant than it really is). I am almost halfway done already. I'm hoping this will be good for skiing, especially when it's too warm for a hat but I still want to keep my ears covered. I think mine might end up a bit smaller than some I have seen because I am using size 4 needles. Maybe I will make a bulky version later.

Besides these two projects, I also decided to dive into the task of finishing "Twist" (and thanks for your nice comments on my last post, by the way :)

On Saturday, the pieces were dry and I started to seam them. I'd never done set-in sleeves before, but they turned out to be much easier than I was expecting. Once I got it seamed, it was time for the moment of truth...would it fit? I raced upstairs (where the mirror resides) and put it on. And guess what, it didn't look too bad! My fears were mostly unfounded. The one thing I screwed up is the sleeves, they are about an inch too long. I will probably end up folding up the cuff when I wear it. The reason for this problem is that I tried to figure out how long they should be by holding up the knitting to my arm as I worked on it. I guess that's not a great method to use. At least now I know exactly how long my sleeves should be, for next time.

Last night I picked up the stitches for the left front button band and knitted it. Here is the seamed garment with the button band, ready to be bound off:

It's hard to see the stitch definition due to the flash, but hey, it was 10 PM. I am pretty pleased at how this is coming out, although I've already thought of four or five things on it that I'd like to do better next time.

Up tonight--the buttonhole band on the right front. I haven't done buttonholes before, so hopefully they won't be too hard. I might even get to start the collar, which is the last part to finish.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Ahhh...the Weekend is Upon Us

Another balmy day...about 40 degrees. So warm that I actually walked back to work after lunch (yes, I get to go home for lunch). The best part is that I am on the brink of a delightful, wonderful, much-appreciated three-day weekend! Ahhh yes...Too bad the weather doesn't look good though. It is supposed to rain all day Saturday and then start snowing Sunday and temperatures will drop. I guess I should really get cracking on those mittens, since it looks like our winter repreive is almost up.

The good news is that Twist's pieces are blocking:

Here is a view of the cables on the front pieces:

The bad news is, I'm nervous about whether this thing is gonna fit me. The pieces seem really big; I think the sleeves might be too long; the sleeves seem like they're different widths...I need to stop this negative thinking now! Hopefully I am just being the worrywart that I tend to be. Anyway, if it turns out bad, it'll just be a house sweater.

In the interests of science and of bettering myself this year, I kept a food diary for the last 8 days. I was mostly just curious what my average daily calorie intake was, and lo and behold I was right on target for my size, gender, and activity level (my activity level is "low", but I'm trying to change that). I did have one really high calorie day (2,494 cals!), but it was the beer's fault, dammit! Anyway, it all balances out over a week. I was really surprised at how well I eat, but this is one benefit of living in a place where you can't get any good takeout. I guess I also would not recommend this experiment over the Christmas holidays, ha ha.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! If it stops raining, I'm gonna try to go x-country skiing and get that activity level up to "moderate."
Oh yeah, and I just have to put this funny picture in for National De-Lurking Week. I doubt I have many (or any) lurkers, but just in case--Come on out of that shell and leave a comment! :)


Thursday, January 12, 2006

This is a Boring Post

I finally started knitting again last night. I took a few days' break just to make sure my wrists and elbows were OK. I don't usually have pain from knitting, but I think knitting on those DPN's screws me up somehow. I seem to get all tense and grip the needles too tight. I need to force myself to relax when knitting on them.

I worked on the final sleeve of the Twist cardigan. I probably would have got most of it done, except that our neighbors called to see if we wanted to come over for a beer. Which we did and had a good time with lots of laughs. Our neighbors are pretty much the only people in town who are our age and who we have things in common with. Most of the other people our age are either alcoholics or have about three kids already. Or they've left town altogether for greener pastures. So we are lucky to have these neighbors. We made plans to go out for a drink this Friday and then go see G. play music with his group.

Anyway, I didn't take pictures of my sleeve progress, since it would have just looked like a blob of purple.

I did, however, take some pictures of Quincy playing in his "Kitty Cannoli" (Quincy is the filling!):

The best is when you drop the feather into the hole on top of the tube, and his little head comes popping out, snarling and shark-like (right picture). So cute!

It is, unbelievably, about 40 degrees out there today. It feels so balmy and nice. Nothing like what January here normally feels like (10 degrees with -20 deg. windchills). Of course, now that I've written this we will get into a horrible cold snap!

Monday, January 09, 2006


It snowed today! We only got four or five inches, but as you can see from the photo, it is really starting to pile up. At one point it was snowing so heavily I felt like I was in a snow globe.

I bought cross-country skis on Saturday, which I have been wanting for the last two years. G and I went skiing that same day and had a great time. I fell three times, and I discovered how hard it is to get up on those things. I think it is the long poles, it's not easy to pull yourself up with them like with downhill poles. I am so out of shape that I spent yesterday stiff as a board. My hips especially, from trying to get up after falling. I think I really need to get in the habit of exercising more!

I didn't get much knitting done this weekend. I almost got up to the fingertip shaping on my second Labrador Diamonds mitten and realized I had made an error in the design about 14 rows earlier. I ripped back and got a few rows in, but my wrist started hurting so I decided to take a break. You can see all the yarn I ripped out in this hoo!

I also had to rip out half a sleeve of Twist on Friday night because my gauge was all off (again). I think the problem is switching between knitting on DPN's and knitting flat. I think I tend to knit tighter on DPN's, and when I switch to flat knitting I carry over that tension. Maybe I should stick to one project at a time...

I have seen some interesting discussions about and photos of other knitters' yarn stashes. Last night, I cleaned up mine and put it in boxes and took a photo of it. This is what I came out with:
Yup, two lowly boxes. Each box is about a 1 foot or 1.5 foot cube. I call it "The Econo-Stash"...for knitters too poor and/or without the space for a normal stash!


Friday, January 06, 2006

Goodbyes and Hellos

Today my sister moves to Europe (she will be commuting between Switzerland and Germany). Here we are, circa 1980, spiffed out for Easter in my Grandma's backyard. Notice the awesome knit cap my grandmother made for me! I also seem to have lost my shoe.

My sister and I have lived quite a distance apart for the last 10 years, but when we get together, it's funny how we can fall right back into closeness with each other. I guess when you grow up with someone you will always have more in common with them than not.

One of the best things about my sister is that she is a great story teller. I'm pretty sure if she had lived as part of a primitive tribe, she would be the "Keeper of the Legends," the one who memorized all of the old stories and told them as the tribe gathered around the fire, adding her own embellishments and making the stories better than before. I can't tell the number of times I've tried to tell a friend a story that my sister has told me, and it doesn't come out anywhere near as funny or interesting. I usually don't even try anymore!

Anyway, to my sister, good luck in this new stage of your life, even though I know you'll do great. And of course, I am dying to hear some new stories!

That was my "goodbyes," now onto "hellos"...we got a new neighbor in our apartment building. She seems like a very nice lady, but I already can't stand her because she smokes. This wouldn't be a big deal except for our forced hot air heating system. Even though each apartment has its own system, the air intake must suck in some of her air because every time the heat starts blowing I can smell cigarettes! Ugh! My throat is starting to feel all scratchy in the morning and G. couldn't even fall asleep last night because of it. Anyone know of a way to solve this problem (besides moving)??

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Warm Wool for Cold Hands

Now that winter seems to have permanently set in (at least until May), I really need a pair of warm hand coverings of some sort. I have a couple of store-bought pairs, but they're not the greatest. As such, I started a new project over the long weekend:

These are a version of the "Labrador Diamonds" pattern from Robin Hansen's book Favorite Mittens. I am knitting them in Bartlett Yarn Fisherman's Two-Ply. The color is a delightful salmon-y pink, which is a wonderful thing after slogging through G's dull green and gray pair that I made (guys pick the most boring colors). I started this mitten on Friday night and finished it Saturday during our drive down to Boston. I should have the pair finished by the end of this week, I hope. It's been quite cold!

New Year's in Boston was OK. It was a pretty small party, as many of the "usual suspects" had other commitments that prevented them from coming. As such, I didn't get to go wild this year...hmmm...on second thought that is probably a good thing. Last year, my flailing arms came dangerously close to permanently destroying one of our friend's beloved UConn bobbleheads. That was a little embarassing. Maybe I just need dance lessons?

We drove home Sunday night kind of late, and listened to the Dr. Demento show's top 25 songs for 2005, which I've never heard before. This show is definitely a weird little slice of nerd culture. If you've never heard of him, Dr. Demento plays funny, joke-y, spoof type songs. Most of the songs were pretty cheesy, but there was one hilarious one called "My Cat is Afraid of the Vacuum Cleaner" by Power Salad. I could not stop laughing! (Disclaimer: Not sure if this song is really funny, it may just be my strange sense of humor. Or maybe I was really tired. Or a combination of the two).