Knitting the Light Fantastic

Knitting, spinning, dyeing and other crafty goodness

Archive for December, 2007

2007 in Review

Posted by notthatkat on December 31, 2007

(For details on all my FO’s for 2007, check out the FO 2007 page. Links from this post lead to pictures for the most part)

So as the door closes on 2007, I wanted to take a moment and review what I’ve accomplished, fiber arts wise, over the year. Since I only started blogging in late April, I’m afraid that’s as far back as my record goes. I know I knit prior to that, but frankly, I’m having trouble remembering the specifics. I know there were some socks and other small items, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you without checking out the sock drawer if my life depended on it. So…

Since April I have completed 32 knit items, not counting a couple dishcloths that didn’t quite make it onto the blog. Eleven of these came in the form of socks, including my first hand spun socks, 2 (of 6) of the Rockin’ Sock Club kits for 2007, Math Whiz socks for my Sockapalooza Pal (I also got a great pair of socks from my upstream Pal) and assorted other socks as a yarn or pattern struck a chord with me. I also designed and published my first sock pattern (hopefully not my last), and so far the reception has been very favorable.

I also knit four pair of fingerless mitts and a pair of fingerless gloves. All of them were different, and I loved making each of them. All but one pair now belong with various loved ones, and I hope they help keep them warm through the winter months.

Several long smoldering UFO’s got finished over the year. Some were part of the crazy 5-day-in-a-row FO marathon in June (what was I thinking?), but the one I’m proudest of is the christening blanket. Not for nothing did my friend Christine rename it “monster lace.”

I made two shells and a winter sweater over the course of the year (I know I didn’t manage a sweater before April). There was a flurry of Christmas knitting. I chose to stick with accessories and other little knits for Christmas presents, and everyone loved what I made them.

All in all it was a good year for knitting for me. The spinning… I am not, and doubt I will ever be, a production spinner. My output in finished yarn is sporadic at best. That being said, I do think my spinning has improved dramatically over the last year, and I have taken on some challanges and big projects on the spinning front. I am pleased with my progress as a spinner.

Coming up tomorrow, my fiber plans for the New Year.

Posted in knitting, spinning | Leave a Comment »

Merino Dreams and Snausages for All

Posted by notthatkat on December 28, 2007

Lucy

Hope you all had a very Merry. I had a good one hanging out with Lucy and the rest of the family. The hand knit gifts got a very good reception. I think the biggest hits were the sweater for Lucy and Patrick’ s pirate hat.

Lucy Sweater Back

Lucy wore her sweater all day, and seemed to like it rather well. (If she doesn’t like a sweater, she will rub and roll and pull until she gets someone to take it off.) Patrick wore his hat for a while during the day as well, but it was too hot to wear indoors for very long. While I think it could have been a tad longer, Lucy didn’t seem to mind its slightly cropped nature one bit.

Lucy Sweater Side

Isn’t she a character? My sister keeps talking about maybe getting a second dog, but I’m not sure how Lucy would feel about that. She is used to her pampered lifestyle and tends not to play well with others (dogs). So far, Marie has resisted the urge, but I think every time she goes to the local pet store and sees the adoption dogs, she is tempted.

Merino Lace Socks

I finished my Merino Lace Socks on Wednesday night, then stupidly forgot my camera to do a lunchtime (daylight) photo session at work yesterday. The joke was on me, because it rained buckets today, so I had to do indoor photos anyway. Not that I’m complaining. We so desperately need the rain, it can rain as much as it wants to.

Merino Lace Heel

My favorite feature is (still) the heel, with the lace patterning extending down the flap. I’m not sure how it will do in shoes with backs, though, so these might need to be reserved for clogs and other backless shoes. These were fun to knit, and not hard at all once the lace patterning was established. These will almost certainly be my last FO of the year, as I don’t see completing any of my other OTN projects in the next few days.

Colortweed Socks

I cast on these socks once I finished grafting the others. This is Meilenweit Colortweed – the yarn was a gift. This is my first time using it. The colors are not my typical colors, but they are working up nicely. I did a picot hem at the top à la Claudia. Otherwise I am doing a simple stockinette stitch sock. Will probably do the usual heel and toes, but I’ve been wanting to try a band heel for a while, so maybe I’ll do that instead.

Thermal Sleeves

Thermal is back in rotation, with the sleeves growing a fair bit early in the week. I’ve done 11 increase rounds of 17, so maybe about 2/3 of the way to the underarm divide. The tape measure agrees, as I’ve got ~13 inches out of a recommended 19.5. I think my modifications for row gauge are working out swimmingly so far. I think the real test will be the sleeve cap shaping, though, so I’m not celebrating too much yet.

I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to jump back into this project at this stage after being dormant so long, but thanks to good notes and markers (note the safety pins up the side of one sleeve) it didn’t take long at all to find my way again.

Alas, my poor Bee Fields hasn’t had a stitch worked in recent memory. Maybe this weekend, or New Year’s Day. I’m off to Atlanta to visit friends this weekend. See you all on the other side!

Posted in animals, Christmas, Merino Lace Socks, socks, Thermal | 1 Comment »

Christmas Preparations

Posted by notthatkat on December 23, 2007

I’ve been feeling a distinct lack of excitement about the Christmas season this year. I don’t feel Bah Humbug about it, so much as just not getting into it. I suspect this ennui where the holiday is concerned stems, at least in part, from the extremely un-winter like weather we’ve had until recently. The last week or so, we have cooled down (as well as getting some desperately needed rainfall), but last week we were having temperatures in the mid 70’s to low 80’s. There are also some other factors that come into play, but I don’t want to get into them at this time. Hopefully things will work out for the better in the near future.

Ice Queen

I did manage to finish up Ice Queen for my Mom on Tuesday and gave it a gentle blocking. My love for this pattern remains strong, and I highly recommend it. I will be making more in the future.

Ice Queen Mirror Shot

Here’s a (slightly blurry) mirror shot. It can be worn around the neck, like I’m doing here, or pulled up around the face like a hood.

Beaded Picot Bind Off

I especially like the beaded bind off around the bottom. This really gives the edge zing.

Lucy Sweater

I cast on for Lucy’s sweater on Friday evening. (I didn’t knit more than a couple rounds on my current Sock-in-Progress in the interim) . This is where it was last night, just before placing the leg holes.

Lucy Sweater

I finished it this evening, although I still have a few ends to weave in. It is an original design I came up with on the fly. It includes a central braided cable, flanked by two OXOX cables. There is a simple 4 stitch cable running down the chest. The sides are in reverse stockinette. It is pretty similar in basic construction to the one I made her last year, but I changed the cables. I chose to do this since last year’s sweater fits her so well.

Leash Hole

One of my favorite touches is a small opening at the back of the neck, just big enough to slip a leash clasp through.

I braved the mall yesterday to get some last minute shopping done. I don’t actually mind being in the mall, even with all the crowds. The part I object to is the parking. I wouldn’t even care about hiking in from the back of beyond, but getting any parking space at our local mall this time of year is next to impossible. I literally had to circle a good section of the lot for a good 20 minutes before I found a space at all.

Once in, I got the necessary shopping done, then decided to do a bit of shopping for me. I needed a nice outfit for some upcoming functions. I tried on lots of pants and skirts along with tops and a few suits, and was about to give up on finding something that I loved, in favor of something that would do, when I found a great pant suit. It fits well, and is flattering, and suits my needs perfectly. And it was a roaring bargain at 65% off. The only downside is that the suit required the addition of new shoes to the wardrobe, as nothing I had would work quite right with it.

Mary Janes

I wandered over to the shoe department and picked out these. They work fantastic with the suit, and I love, love, love them. I’ve always had a thing for Mary Janes, which I can’t entirely explain. I have no vivid childhood memory of wearing them, or of wanting and not getting them.

Mary Janes

These are basically very grown up Mary Janes. (Those are the pants from the suit in the photo too). They are surprisingly comfortable, given the height of the heel, especially since I rarely wear heels over about an inch and a half. They were deeply discounted as well, although not quite as deeply as the suit. All in all a great shopping excursion for someone who is often ambivalent about shopping in general.

I doubt I’ll be posting over the next couple days, so I hope that those of you who celebrate it have a very Merry Christmas.

Posted in Christmas, Ice Queen | 1 Comment »

The Story of Bear

Posted by notthatkat on December 19, 2007

 

Bear 4 weeks

Shortly before Thanksgiving of last year, an older couple brought a young puppy into my office because they were concerned that his eyes had not opened.  He was 4 weeks old at the time and not much more than a little ball of fluff.  When I checked him out, I could tell that while his eyelids had opened, he did not have anything resembling normal eyes behind those lids.  He was blind, and would be for life.  The couple immediately wanted to put him to sleep, but I convinced them to let us have the puppy and try to find him a home.

Bear 8 weeks

As the weeks went on, he grew as puppies are prone to do.  We (I) named him Bear and showered him with love.  While he occasionally bumped into things, he got really good at finding his way around.  He could be a bit clumsy, but so are a lot of sighted puppies at that age.  Since he was blind from birth, he knew no different.  (Dogs that lose sight later in life adapt very well also.)  He went home with one client for a week, only to be returned when she decided that raising him was more of a challange than she wanted to take on.

Bear 12 weeks

He was vaccinated at the appropriate times and made as ready as possible for placement.  As time went on, I began to think that we wouldn’t find a home for him, and he would probably come home with me.  (The local rescue organization I work with was no help.)  I am generally particular about the homes I place animals in, but in Bear’s case, I was especially so.  Since he is blind, he needed to be an inside dog, and when outside on a leash or in a fence.  But I didn’t want him to be a yard dog, even in a fenced yard.

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, a couple came in our office, asking if we knew of any kittens for adoption.  We gave them a couple contacts for kittens.  Then as our usual, we let them know that we were looking for a home for this blind puppy (the more people knew about him, the more likely someone would know someone that would give him a good home).  It turns out they had recently (6 months earlier) lost a dog of similar bloodlines to Bear (we suspect he comes from German Shepherd and Collie).  They immediately fell in love with him, and took him home.  He came back for neutering and has been in a couple times for boarding.  They take him to work with them on a daily basis and shower him with love.  I could not have imagined a better home for him.

Bear 14 months

He is staying with us this week while his owners are out of town.  At just over a year, Bear is a normal happy dog.  He is still totally blind, although his “eyes” don’t appear abnormal unless you look really close.  He is able to navigate our yard with ease, including a fairly steep set of steps out the back door, and rarely bumps into anything.  He feels with his nose and also throws forward his front feet if he is unsure about his environment.  He loves to have his  neck and chest scratched.

Bear will always have a special place in my heart.  I could wax lyrical about animals not needing to be perfect to be good pets, or being more accepting of deformities and physical problems than people.   But instead, I think I’ll leave you with my all time favorite picture of Bear, taken by his owners at about 6 months of age.

Bear Chillin'

Posted in animals, work | 4 Comments »

Christmas Knitting in Full Swing

Posted by notthatkat on December 14, 2007

The mad dash of Christmas knitting continues. While I deliberately chose not to knit any big items (sweater, big lace, afghan, etc) for anyone this year, I have made little things for everyone in my family.

The clogs were finished Friday night. At least the knitting was finished. Before felting they looked like this (my size 8 foot added for scale):

Unfelted Clogs

After about 20 minutes in the washing machine, they had shrunk down to the proper size:

Felted Clogs

These are the Felt Clogs from Fiber Trends that practically everyone and their brother has knit (at least it seems like practically everyone in the knit blogosphere has knit them at least once or twice). These are quick and easy and come out just great. That Bev Galeskas, she’s a genius, I tell you.

These are for my Dad. I was going to give the bottoms a non-stick treatment, but I think I’ll wait and make sure they don’t need to be felted down a bit more before doing so. I erred on the side of possibly being a smidge too big on the theory that they could always be shrunk down a bit more if need be.

Dashing

Then on Saturday, I started a pair of Dashing mitts for my brother-in-law. These are a quick and easy knit, and look so nice. They are knit out in Moda Dea Washable Wool in Taupe. I shortened the cuff by a cable repeat (10 rounds) as I felt the length of the cuff as written wouldn’t appeal to the recipient.

Dashing

I made a dog sweater out of this yarn last year and was surprised by how much I liked it. It has a soft hand, a nice drape, and holds up fairly well. The cabled construction makes stitch work show up very well. And machine washability is an important consideration in my sister’s household. Big thanks to Khebhin for his input on color and letting me use his arm for sizing on Saturday.

Merino Tencle Lace Weight Redux

At my fiber guild meeting on Sunday, I started the second bobbin for my merino tencel lace weight. (This is the yarn I’m spinning for Spun Stitches, if you’re new or don’t remember.) I enjoyed the break I took from it, but I’m looking forward to getting this yarn done. This is how much I managed to spin over the course of the three hour guild meeting. I haven’t managed to spin any more. Hopefully I will make more progress over the weekend. However, no matter how much I want to finish, I still have a ways to go for this. I am not a production spinner in general, but spinning this fine takes extra care and attention and the first bobbin felt like it took forever. Here’s hoping I can get the second one done more quickly.

Alpaca Cloud

A bit of stash diving turned up some lovely grey Alpaca Cloud and I found some nice beads to pair with it. They are clear, but black lined and although I’m not sure they look as good in the picture as in person, they look so great with this yarn. I have lots more of this yarn and might have to use this yarn/bead combination again. On Tuesday night I cast on Ice Queen for my Mom.

Ice Queen

She is almost done. I’m adding a bit of extra length (16 rounds) as she seemed a bit short when I had completed the main part as instructed. I know she’ll grow once blocked, but I’d rather have her a bit on the long side than too short. I am making the garter stitch version, mostly because I like the bead placement better for that one. When I make one for myself, I might make the stockinette stitch version, but use the bead placement from the garter stitch one.

Ice Queen Closeup

Here’s a close up of the beads on the lace. It’s a simple feather and fan pattern and it has gone pretty fast. I love this pattern to an embarrassing degree and could see making several more down the road.

Once Ice Queen is done, I will have only one more item remaining in my Christmas knitting queue – a sweater for my sister’s family dog, a Jack Russell named Lucy.

Lucy

This is Lucy modeling last year’s Christmas sweater (the one made with the Washable Wool) I make her a sweater every year for Christmas, of original design. I started several years ago when Marie commented on how difficult it is to find sweaters or coats to fit her. Typical of her breed, she has a very deep chest relative to her length. Sweaters that fit her chest tend to be too long, while those that fit her length tend to be too tight. This one was a big hit with both Lucy and the family. I have some more of this yarn in Raspberry for this year’s sweater, but I haven’t even begun to think about what I want to do with it. Oh well, I have a bit over a week to figure it out and get something worked up.

Then it’s back to my neglected Thermal and Bee Fields. They have been patiently waiting their turns to come around again. Soon, my pretties… soon.

Posted in Christmas, Dashing, felt, Ice Queen, knitting, lace | 2 Comments »