Feb 26, 2014

Persistence Pays

I've stepped away from knitting and picked it up again a few times over the past few years. This time I've been more focused, concentrating on finishing the things that have languished and fulfilling obligations. This project falls in the second category.

Stinkerbelle asked for new fingerless gloves ages ago. I can no longer recall when but she's been telling people that I was going to make them and talking about the pattern we settled on. Mostly she's been waitinf patiently because other stuff was more pressing or - lets be honest - exciting.

But, as I mentioned, I've been trying to fulfill promises lately so I unearthed the yarn and pattern from my stash and cast on. I can't say that it was my favorite project.  This pattern looks cool but the large spaces of color necessitate some long floats. I really dislike long floats. They prevent my from developing a flow.

The results speak for themselves. They look great. The main color is a variegated purple/blue/gray and the contrast is navy blue. Those are totally Daria's colors.  So the skulls and colors really work for her and she loves them. I did tell her to take good care of them though, because if it took her this long to get these made it could be a really long time until I made a new pair.

Feb 25, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - I Feel...

It's kind of a roller coaster ride around here lately. There are warm days like we had over the weekend where I go around in flip flops and no jacket and they're followed by days like today where I wake up to snow and an urge to bundle up. I can have a day full of joy and laughter with my girls that is followed up with a reminder that my life is not all that it could or should be. So talking about how I feel is kind of a mixed bag.

Here it is, the good and the bad because these days the two are intertwined. These days I feel...

  1. Excited - this weekend my daughter and I shopped for a prom dress and we found one. It was much easier than we expected and, most importantly, she is thrilled with her choice.
  2. Joyful - when I watch Miss M learning and growing it fills me with joy. This is good because she is challenging me in ways my older daughters never did.  Crayons on the windows and walls - check. 
  3. Frustrated - I'm still jobless and it's been much longer than I ever imagined. I never had trouble like this before but this economy is different. Then again, I'm also older than I was.
  4. Old - I have aches and pains that are new and really unpleasant. But the clearest sign are the reading glasses that are my constant companion.
  5. Hopeful - at my core I am an optimist and I feel like something better is just around the corner.  It has to be.
  6. Accomplished - After a really long knitting drought I've finally picked up my needles again and it's so nice. Even better, I've finished a lot of projects - old and new - and they've turned out well.
  7. Satisfied - I've read some really good books lately. There have been a few stinkers too but most of them I've enjoyed. It also feels good to be doing something that is occasionally thought provoking.
  8. Lethargic - It would be more accurate to say that I feel out of shape. I know that I need to just get out there and raise my activity level and I've started a few times. It turns out that I'm better at stating than continuing.
  9. Proud - My girls are surpassing all of my hopes and dreams and expectations and it's such a great thing.
  10. Apprehensive - sometimes it feels like things are moving just a little bit too fast and I wish I could slow it all down a bit. 

Feb 20, 2014

Challenges in Knitting And Beyond

I really love the idea of an Olympic Challenge. Aside from being a fabulous excuse to sit and watch the actual Games it's nice to challenge yourself.  Maybe the level of difficulty doesn't quite rise to the level of the giant slalom or skeleton (yikes!) or figure skating but a well chosen project that goes a bit beyond what you've done before can be every bit as daunting.

This year I decided to knit a sweater for Miss M as my challenge. It turns out that choosing the pattern was the most difficult part of this knit. It was complicated because I wanted to knit a rainbow and I ordered a set of rainbow yarn that I then tried to match to a pattern. Should the rainbow be at the yoke? Should it be everything but the yoke? Colorwork? You can see the problem.

After weeks of sifting and sorting patterns on Ravelry I finally found Lillian Lucy by Ann Molvik. The simple body was perfectly suited for a rainbow and I loved the sweet ruffles at the cuffs, neck, and bottom. In this case the rainbow was not just bright, it was practically neon, so I tried to balance it with soft grey for the ruffled bits.

This was such an easy knit.  Once I figured out how many inches each stripe ought to be I flew through the knitting on the body. Then came the sleeves and not only did I have to figure out how wide each stripe should be - I had to make sure I had enough of each color.  Because I was so nervous about it I weighed each remaining ball of yarn and kept doing so as I knit the sleeves. In the end I had plenty of each color.

I really love this sweater. It all came together so smoothly that I finished in one week flat. That includes the blocking, the installation of the zipper, and the covering of the inside of the zipper with pretty ribbon. It's a new personal best for me.  I guess I'll have to reach higher next time.

Feb 18, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Thoughts on the 2014 Winter Olympics

Have you been watching the Olympics?  It's been a constant backdrop here and I've been knitting very productively through most of it. There is something about watching all of the athletes competing for their countries that is inspiring. It's especially so in the team sports and there is nothing better than hearing our anthem and seeing our flag waving as they stand atop the podium.

Anyway, I have a few thoughts on this year's games.

  1. Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir - I would never have chosen then to do commentary but they are brilliant. It's not just that I don't mind their commentary - I welcome it. They are definitely adding to my enjoyment of the skating. When they explain stuff it just makes sense and they do so in a way that's accessible and colorful. And then there are their coordinated outfits which are colorful too. I'd love to see more of them next time.
  2. Ice Skating - it's such a treat to watch the skaters in their sparkly, feathery, and sometimes quite weird costumes skating. They are so graceful and they make it look so easy. I can almost forget for a minute what I look like on the ice which is the opposite of graceful.
  3. Good Sportsmanship - as the parent of a child who plays competitive sports this is a big deal to me. It stinks when players on other teams are nasty or, even worse, their coaches are. We've seen great examples during these games of athletes being gracious in their defeat. Look at Shaun White who shocked us all when he didn't medal but he behaved in a way that still made us proud.
  4. The Pageantry of the Opening Ceremonies - every 2 years the games are held someplace new and the host city/country gets to show off a bit and tell us a little about themselves. It's always interesting but this year it didn't quite do it for me.  It was grand but it was also a bit off.  You know what I mean - Right? 
  5. The Parade of Countries - this is always my favorite part of the opening ceremonies. It's fun to see the athletes in their matching outfits. They always seem so energized and happy to be there.  This year you could see so many of them with their smart phones out taking pictures of the crowd and taking selfies. It all seems so innocent.
  6. Sochi, Russia - Like most of the world, I knew nothing about this place before the Olympics. Sadly what I'm taking away from these games is that it was a really poor choice for the Winter games. The summer games might have been great there but holding the Winter games in a place where jackets aren't necessary and the ice and snow don't come naturally seems foolhardy and wasteful.
  7. The Extremeness of the sports - I really don't know how else to put it.  When you see the acrobatics of the skiers and snowboarders doing those flips and twists as they race downhill it is amazing.
  8. The US Team Sweaters - Ugh, just ugh. They just seem so corny, like the most obvious interpretation of the American spirit. Don't tell me that we couldn't do any better than that.
  9. The Colorful, Patterned, Walls and Backgrounds at the Venues - I really like them. There is a patchwork quality to them that makes me smile.
  10. USA Hockey - Go team.  Our men's and women's teams are killing it over there. I can't wait to watch them in the medal games.  It's strange because I'm not big on watching sports on TV usually but the Olympics are different.  

Feb 11, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Things that are Red

I'm sitting in my house writing this as I watch the figure skating and wondering why more skaters don't wear red.  An old friend of mine loved it and called it a power color and I'd have to agree. Red is not a color for the timid.  It says "Here I am!" There is nothing restful or boring about red. It's alive!

So where to start this list of fabulous things that are red? How about a little wool?

1. Red yarn - maybe a little something like this.

2. Barns - I love driving along rural roads and seeing a dilapidated barn out in the middle of a field. It's weirdly charming.

3. Strawberries - just the thought of strawberries makes me smile and think of summer.

4. Red skies at sunset - I really love when the red streaks color the evening sky.

5. Cars - I had a red car once and I loved it. Now my daughter has one but I hope it doesn't inspire her the way it inspired me... to go fast.

6. Crayons - as long as they're being used on paper - not my walls.

7. Apples - I especially love apple pie.

8. Nail polish - I love a nice deep red on my toes.

9.  Cranberries - I love cranberry sauce at the holidays but I love dried cranberries year round. Dried cranberries on a salad are my favorite.

10. My daughter's hair - Stinkerbelle's hair has been red since birth and I love it. This is a bit of a throwback shot and I think her hair is on fire in it.

Feb 10, 2014

Inspired by the Olympic Spirit

Look, it's a rare Monday post. I usually can't get it together enough to post on a Monday but today I'm feeling kind of inspired. Getting a good start on a project will do that for you and Friday night, as I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games I started my own challenge. This time I'm trying to make a new rainbow sweater for Miss M from start to finish during the course of the games.

I knit through ski jumping and snowboarding and lots of figure skating and before I knew it the body and one of the sleeves were done. I'm working on the second sleeve now before I join it all together and move on to the yoke of the sweater. It's a really good thing that this sweater is moving fast because Miss M can't wait to wear it.

It's rather surprising that the Olympics inspired all of this productivity because I'm not really a huge sports fan.  It's true that I love to watch Stinkette play softball but I'm not big on other sports - especially on tv. But the Olympics inspires a similar sense of pride to that which you get watching your child play. I get so drawn in to hoping that our athletes win because they're out there giving they're best shot for all of us. When they win - we all win.  Go USA!

Feb 6, 2014

The Rainbow

Some yarn arrived recently. It's exciting for me, just as any new yarn arrival would be. But for Miss M it's irresistible. She really wants to touch it, feel it, smell it...taste it. She just can't stay away. And when she heard that it's destined to become a sweater for her, the excitement became even more intense. I've got to keep it tightly locked down or it might become part of her collection of stuff.

Happily, I've only got one more day to protect this stuff because tomorrow night, during the opening ceremonies I'll be starting a sweater featuring this lovely rainbow. So I have about 24 hours to make a key decision. I don't think that I have enough rainbow yarn for the whole sweater so I've got a dove grey to compliment it. But how?

Do I use the rainbow up at the shoulders?

Do I make the yoke grey and the balance a rainbow?

If it helps any, I think that I'll be making Olearia by Georgie Hallam. I think that the details at the top might be obscured by the rainbow and enhanced by the grey. But I could be wrong. Either way, Miss M will wear it happily.

Feb 5, 2014

Tis the Season For Cowls

Any day that begins with knitting success of any kind has to be good, and so it is. This morning I opened my email to find that I won a copy of the new Through The Loops pattern, Reynard and I can't wait to start it. But I have so many projects lined up that it'll have to wait a little while. It's good to have something to look forward to.

It's been a period of self doubt and angst but, among other things, my knitting is one of the strongest threads that pulling me through. I feel inspired and determined to make things happen. Among the things that are happening is a return to old, unfinished projects like this cowl that I started last January and abandoned as the weather turned warm and the impulse to wrap ourselves in wool faded.

Here's my daughter peeking out from the double-wrapped cowl. Can you tell how much she loves it? She should since it was knit at her request from a pattern that we chose together.

Here's a close-up of the texture.  I'm not sure how well you can see it but this pattern is constructed to that it's the same inside and out. That'll make it much easier to wear since it's huge and needs to be double wrapped. If it twists there is no wrong side.

And of course there is the yarn too.  I started initially with a variegated Malabrigo but it was too busy and you couldn't see the pattern at all. I switched to Shepherd's Wool in raspberry. It's a marled yarn so it's got a little more depth than a flat solid.

I think she likes it. On to the next UFO.