Thursday, December 21, 2006

Subscribe for free!

I added a RSS feed for the blog, so now you can subscribe to it. Lots of fun knitting content delivered to you as soon as there's a new post. The link allows you to subscribe using lots of different subscription methods (Bloglines, etc.) so you can easily add me to your other subs.

I really know nothing about RSS feeds, and I did not code this one by hand. I did it using Feed Burner, and it's up and I was able to subscribe, so I hope that equals sucess. As it is, I am busy not doing all the things I really ought to be doing, because I'm fighting holiday burnout. Or it might be the fact that I'm still not at 100% from the Ick, and the impromptu company, and I have upcoming trip paralyses....but let's not even go there.

I remembered last night as I was trying to sleep that I still have a couple of Christmas gifts that need completing. My dad's scarf, while it is finished being knit, still needs the fleece sewn on to the back of it. He's pretty sensitive to wool, and I figure backing the merino and binding the edges in fleece will make it very warm and non irritating to the neck. Number Two, Sarah still needs her yarn dyed. She's getting a learn to knit kit which at this point includes a pair of Addi Natura in size 7 (I wanted 8, but the LYS was pretty picked over in the Natura and that's as close as I could get.), some hand made stitch markers and two skeins of the Anne Shirley merino yarn dyed in a special colorway just for her. Plus, a bunch of links to great learn to knit sites and knitting lessons as needed from me. But as yet, she's got ecru yarn and no links. Number Three, I still need to finish Mr. N's hat. I suppose creating your own hat pattern which involves intertwining cable design (which I have never done before) is not a good choice for last minute knitting. That and the fact that I think I have decreased a bit too sharply, and I'm not sure if it's going to fit like I want it to. He has a very broad, flat head at the top and so it's a bit tricky to get the shaping right. I'd try it on him, but it's a surprise and so that's right out. I'm thinking of not finishing off that top so if I need to, I can rip and reknit the top if needed. Oy.

I'll let you know how the floor mopping, diaper washing, vacuuming, Yarn of the Month ball winding, packing and wrapping of presents goes. I should get started on that now, but that would mean stopping on the hat knitting.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Felties: slippers for the whole family

Felties - slippers for the whole family!

Introducing Felties – cozy, buttery soft slippers designed to keep your toes toasty warm during the cool weather! This cushy, felted, boot-style slipper is great for cold weather. Pattern includes sizes for the whole family and includes instructions for both worsted and bulky weight yarn. This is a great pattern for using up odd balls in your stash. It knits up very quickly!

Make payments with PayPal - Download with PayLoadz


* Bulky: 2.25 stitches and 4 rows per inch on US size 10.5 double pointed needles.
* Worsted: 2.75 stitches and 5 rows per inch on US size 10.5 double pointed needles.

* Worsted: MC – 1 (4 oz., 230 yd.) skein, all sizes. CC – 1 skein, all sizes.
* Bulky: MC – 1 (100gram, 110yds) skein (NB-Large Child), 2 skiens (Small Woman – Man). CC – 1 skein, all sizes.
* 1 Set US Size 10.5 double pointed needles
* Tapestry needle

(Newborn, 3-6months, 6-9months, 9-12months, Small Child, Medium Child, Large Child, Small Woman, Medium Woman, Large Woman/Small Man)

I use KnitPick's Sierra for the bulky slippers and Yarn Love's Anne Shirley for the worsted weight. Since this item is felt-to-fit the gauge us not critical. I do highly recommend diving into your stash for your yarn. Odd balls and leftovers will make some wildly striped slippers to keep your feet cozy through the year.

Felties are knit from the top down just like a giant sock, with some special shaping to get the cuff to turn down just right. For a funky detail, knit the cuff flat instead of in the round as given in the instructions and add a button and loop closure.

For a custom fit: choose the size that best describes your recipient. Measure their foot from heel to toe. Knit the pattern as written for their size, and when you get the the foot, knit the foot to equal your recipient's total foot length and then start your decreases. I find that this turns out just right. Be sure to keep a ruler handy as you felt - measure that heel to toe length so that it comes out the right size. I do one round in the washing machine with like colored clothes, and then pop it into the dryer, measuring through out the cycle. Personally, I like the option of machine drying these super thick slippers so they can speedily be sent to their new home.

Not the ick

The Ick has come to live at my house. More specifically in me. That last minute Christmas shopping that Nick and I did at the mall on Monday I'm pretty sure is the culprit. We never are able to go shopping together, unless we get someone to watch the kids, and my mom was kind enough to take them. So we got the Christmas tights, and the Christmas shoes for the girlies, and bras for me. I was down to one after the untimely death of my black and white Felina lace bra. A girl can't only have one bra. And we got Mr. X a leapfrog fridge toy, and cousin RayRay a magna doodle and the next morning I was sick. Chills, body ache but luckily no puking. I didn't eat anything, but I wasn't throwing anything up, for which I am extremely grateful.

December is my Yarn of the Month turn and I'm scrambling to get things done. More than 50% of the participants placed their orders late, which prevents me from dyeing in advance of our trip. Anyway, between the holiday gatherings, baking and shopping I've been dyeing like a mad woman. Tonight Nick's very good friend is coming into town - unexpectedly. We found out last night. Then we're gone for nearly a week over Christmas, and when we get home a good friend of mine is coming into town. Thank goodness the 1st is a holiday and I can use it to get some packaging and shipping done!

I still am working on a hat for Mr. N. It's a top secret project, which I can only work on when he's not around. The Ick put a serious dent in the progress, and I hope that I can still get it done in time. It's a cabled, close fitting cap of my own design - pretty easy to do. I'd like to offer it as a free pattern, but after the Christmas season! I'm working it up in a hand dyed navy on Anne Shirley - my super fabulous, last forever, terribly soft yarn I get from a small spinnery.

Hope you all are enjoying this time of the year in a relaxing and stress free manner. If you're waiting for a Yarn of the Month will be in the mail!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My UnWrapped Short Row Technique - Circular Knitting

I wrote up this techinque well over a year ago, and posted it at a knitting board. For some reason it occured to me today that I should post it on my blog too. So here it is, the never fail, no gaps, not fussy, easy as pie, short row wrap technique. It combines all the best of the wrapped technique and the Japanese short row technique without the typical gaps of the first and the fiddly pin business of the second. It's fast, it's easy and it just plain works!

This tutorial is written for those who are knitting circularly and will knit in both wrapped stitches from the right side. If you're knitting flat, see the Flat Knitting UnWrapped Short Row tutorial.

I've been playing around with how I handle the wrapped stitches of short rows. (Can you believe someone else is bringing it up again????) Anyway, I've found a great way to hide that second wrap - so much so that the wraps are pretty much invisible even on the back side. I discovered it by accident and have been using it ever since.It's never failed me, and I want to know if it will work for others, too. So try it and tell me what kind of results you get! I think it's pretty easy to do, too!

UnWrapped Short Row Tutorial

As you work your short rows, wrap the stitch as normal. When you get to your first wrap:

You have now knit back to your FIRST wrap:

1.) Slip the wrapped stitch off the Left needle & gently pull the wrap off the stitch. (I use my right needle to do this.)

2.) Place the original stitch back on the Left needle. Place the wrap on the Left needle as well.

3.)Knit the wrap and the original stitch as one stitch. (Like K2Tog)

I've found that it really doesn't make a difference how you slip the wrap onto the needle - it becomes invisible by the next round. In this picture of the backside of the wrap, the wrap is really loose, so you can see it. Normally, it's virtually invisible.

Knit as usual until you reach your second wrap. For the SECOND wrap:

This is worked the same way, except you reverse the position of the wrap and the original stitch.

1.) Slip the wrapped stitch off the Left needle & gently pull the wrap off the stitch. (I use my right needle to do this.)

2.) Place the original stitch on the Left needle. Then place the wrap on the Left needle After the original stitch. (This reverses the original order of the stitch and wrap.) Simply pull the wrap untwisted across the back of the work.

The original stitch and the wrap back on the Left needle.

3.)Knit the wrap and the original stitch as one stitch. (Like K2Tog)

The backside of the second wrap. Original stitch in blue, wrap in orange.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Baking Day - the itinerary

I'm making this a separate post so that all of you afflicted with Holiday Stress Disorder like myself can skip my stressful musings and get straight to the chocolate and "holiday cheer".

Baking Day 2006

This Saturday is Baking Day. It's the Christmas version of Pie Night. Pie Night takes place the day before Thanksgiving, when all my brothers and their families come to my parents house for a pie feast. Every gets their own pie. A whole one. All to themselves. Flavor of their choice. So we have a soup dinner and pies galore. It's fabulous fun, even if it does require baking 17 or more pies in a single day. So imagine that only Christmas. Oh, and different family members.

Baking Day, in the grand tradition, involves any female family members that we can think of, bringing the stuff for three or four different Christmas goody recipes of their choice, baking them for 5 or 6 hours and then piling every available flat surface in my parent's house full of the goodies for diving and packaging. Oh, yes. It's really that grand. Several aunts, cousins, sisters in laws, etc. are there. Usually there's enough chocolate to feed an army for a Russian winter, not counting the other cookies, candies, treats and cakes. It's dessert heaven and so much fun. Last year, I just stopped packing buckets of treats into my car when I hit 8. Really, I wouldn't want to be excessive, now.

This year's menu for me includes: Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes, Katie's World Famous Booze Balls (They used to just be rum truffles, but have now expanded into rum, coconut rum, amaretto, Irish Cream, Kahlua and any other liquor that I might take a fancy to that year. The flavors vary according to available booze, prep time and my taste at the moment.), Mr. N's Favorite Snickerdoodle Cookies, and if time allows Orange Cranberry Scones.

Other items of interest from family members:
* Sarah's Baclava
* Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
* Haystacks (chocolate dipped low mein noodles)
* Big Round Sugar Cookies
* Scotcheroos
* Spritz cookies

Now if you are counting, that's at minimum 9 full batches of goodies, plus scones if I get there. And those are only the ones that people listed on the Evite invitation. I know for a fact that all the women genetically linked to me will add at least 1 more recipe to their line up when they go to make out their grocery list. They'll hear that overpowering voice warning them that someone might not be able to come and then we'll be short and wouldn't one more thing help alleviate that situation? Plus, if they are able to come one more thing won't be overwhelming.

Oh, yes. I know this well. So who's going to send me their address so I can spread some Christmas Baking Cheer their way?

Oh, and I nearly forgot that I also have a Christmas Party the evening of baking day. We're going because it involves nice wine, hors d'ourves and no children. That's a rarity around here. Adult conversation...imagine! For that we're taking champagne and a homemade, decedent, chocolate smothered Kahlua laced cheesecake with shortbread crust. mmm.........

It's official. I'm nuts.

This meditation probably does not come as a surprise to those of you who know me. I might looks normal, but underneath is some not-so-deeply-disguised craziness. Not of the actual mental illness kind, more the self inflicted oddities that make you go "hmmm!" in a reflective and puzzled tone. Besides having three children within an 18 month span of time (twins and the X, the second and third of whom were a LARGE surprise to me) I have set up a crazy schedule of business dyeing and present knitting during the very, very, extraordinarily busy months of Novemeber and December. I should have known. Really I should have, but things seem so innocent when you're blithely scheduling them in a vacuum. The vacuum where your kids are sleeping peacefully and you honestly think that they will not interupt your work during the day because they aren't right now. Mhm. All you mothers and fathers laugh with me now. Oh, and the thought that my twin two and a half year olds would hit the dreaded "Terrible Twos" stage during the scheduled craziness us just icing on the cake.

So it's Yarn of the Month for me this month - 50 extra skeins of dyeing, or 12.5 pounds of mohair yarn if that sounds more impressive. And NOT surprisingly all the sweet YOTMers are busy too, which is delaying their color choice....which of course means that I cannot dye their selections as they're being placed because they're not being placed.

The Yarn Love Ebay store has been doing well, and people have been placing orders without provocation. Really. They're just finding me and placing orders. For the past 5 out of 6 weeks, I've had to have auction style listings in order for people to find the store listings. They're not as easily found during regular searches and so they sit if I don't have other auctions to get people to them. Now, people are buying stuff from the store without any auctions being active. The marketer in me is rejoicing, "They're coming! They're here! All the keyword research and auction style planning has paid off! Yipeee!". The shipper and inventory manager is going, "Oh, dear. That wasn't supposed to sell! I didn't plan on that and now I must dye more. eeek!"

General holiday frivolity is reigning. It's one party after the other around here. Which is great, and fun and fattening due to all the baking taking place. However, it's eating into my weekends which is further reducing my dyeing time. Oh, well. At least I'm receiving a steady stream of dessert calories to eat my way through my stress.

Travel - we have a 10-11 hour car ride at the end of next week with all three children to get to my in laws. They are so overdue for a Christmas visit, it's not even funny. We were there our first Christmas as a married couple, and for the next three years I have either been too pregnant or the kids have been way-too-small for the car ride and the visiting. I am not taking my dyeing with us, so take that week out of the schedule.

My long lost friend, Lisa is coming!!! Lisa and I were roommates in college and we don't see each other very often at all. I am so excited that she is flying in to see us. It's so sweet of her to come and I've been missing her. All phone conversations generally end abruptly by one of my children screaming, so catching up will be great. She arrives the day before we get back and will be here for several days after.

Sigh. It will get done. Right after I stop panicking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh Christmas Tree

It's Christmas time in the bungalow! Well, at least it's Advent, the season of preparation for the feast of Christmas. I am very proud to report that my Christmas knitting is done. And when I say done, I really mean done. The kind of done that means if for some heinous reason Christmas actually came tomorrow, I could hand over the knitted items to their recipients without a regret. The kind of done that means the finishing work and the end weaving wasn't left for 6 or more weeks because I moved onto another project. It's a good feeling to be done.

I must admit that the reason I was done with my Christmas knitting by December 10th this year is because I set my sights very low. In fact, I think I've done less knitting this year than I did last year. Last year the girlies were 19 months old, and I had a two month old. Little X was (and still is) very mellow, so I was able to camp out on the couch and knit. Now he's starting to walk, and well, the house is more chaotic. But, I have accomplished all my goals and have been setting some new ones. I'll get those done if only my yarn arrives on time.

So far this year I have knit two Totoro hats from the free Hello Yarn pattern.

I knit one as written, and the second I reversed and knit from the top up. I had a bit of trouble with the row gauge - it was way, way off, even though I was using a heavier yarn than called for & it should have turned out longer than needed. The first hat was knit and ripped out three times before I got it to be long enough. I do completely detest (and suck at) the figure 8 cast one, so I knit it from the bottom up and kitchenered the top. It took me much less time. I also added ear flaps and ties to the hat so that it will stay on my wiggly girls heads. Oh, and I knit it big and fulled it for warmth and ease of embroidery. The pattern is great - I just rearranged things per my personal preference in knitting. Misses E & G are enamored with the Totoro movie and I know they'll love the hats. What a clever idea.

I knit them "matching" pairs of mittens. The grey base yarn is the same as was used for the hats, and then I used a skein of Noro Silk Garden for the colored stripes. I loved working with the Noro. It was my first time using it and the color gradations are incredible. Lots of fun to watch it develop in my hands as I knit along. I had less than a yard left over after I finished the last mitten. It was a close call. Not too bad, if I say so myself. The merino that I used for the hats (incidentally the same stuff I used for my dad's scarf) just lasts and lasts and lasts. So I got both hats and all the mittens out of 6 ounces. I used one 50 gram ball of the Noro, color #87.

My dad's scarf is the Open Cable Scarf which I highly enjoyed knitting. I do have a few cables that crossed the wrong way, but shhh! No one will notice if I don't point them out. It was a great pattern for a scarf. Complex enough to be interesting, but easily memorized and knit while watching Lost. The scarf is fairly long - my dad is 6'2" and I got his scarf out of about 5 1/2 ounces of the same merino that I used on the girlies' hats. If you're looking for some, you can find it in my ebay store as Anne Shirley. It's great stuff. A pleasure to knit with and it lasts forever. mhm. I kettle dyed the yarn, and it's very pretty blues, greens and olives. The picture is making the olive look much more mustard than it does in person. It has a nice blending quality in person that is just lost on my digital camera.

Now if all goes well, I still plan on knitting some cotton face cloths for my mother in law, a hat for little X and a hat for Mr. N. We'll see if I get it done. I dreamt both hats up last night as I was laying in bed awake, and the face cloths late last week when Mr. N casually mentioned his mother would like something hand knit for Christmas. I'd whip her up something really quick, like a hat, but she's allergic to wool, so I have to send out for the yarn. Hopefully some pretty, pampering face cloths will be just the thing. Fast enough to get done and conveying lots of love. I'll post on my progress with the hats. I'm planning on combining the cable from the Open Cable Scarf pattern with a simple 6 X 6 cable and decreasing in the purl stitches in between. We'll see how it goes, I guess!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Who stole November?

Seriously, I woke up and it's December already. Ugh. It always happens this time of the year. November is a very important month for me (and my family). My birthday is in November - the 12th. X's birthday is in November - the 7th (even though his due date was Halloween. I was so bummed, as I wanted a Halloween baby. Our friend's daughter's birthday is on Halloween and she has so much fun! Plus, I started getting a bit cranky when the third child was a week late. Just a little cranky. I'm a pretty nice pregnant lady.)

My parents left for Rome the day after X's birthday and were gone for 10 days. We see them at least two times a week, and all the kids are very, very attached to them and of course they were missed exceedingly. Luckily, my mom is so attached to our kiddos that she called everyday just to hear their happy little voices.....ok, and actually a lot of crying and carrying on over who was going to talk on the phone RIGHT NOW to Mama (grandma).

And Mr. N's sister, her husband and daughter moved into our area from the great state of Colorado. It's been really nice to have them around and get to spend time with them. Their little girl is right in between our girlies and X, so they all play together and have great fun. The girlies are so funny. If their cousin has been here the night before, they get up asking for RayRay because they're convinced that she must still be here and is just waiting for them to come play. It's too precious. I love the outlook that kids have on life. It's simple and fresh and unexpected.

I have got to get spinning again. I've been so busy knitting and dyeing this fall that the spinning is really neglected. My poor wheels - I'm sure they're lonely! Am I crazy that I spun like mad over the summer and now that it's winter I've given it up for knitting? It wouldn't be mad if I was actually using the yarn I spun over the summer for the fall knitting, but alas I've been using purchased yarn. It's very nice stuff, but not my handspun. I'm still a little bit scared to use handspun for a large project because I'm convinced the gauge will be all off. I am currently enrolled in the Spin Me a Treasure Swap, so I am looking forward to spinning for that. Yay! The swap partners were supposed to go out the 1st, but technical difficulties have prevented it, so I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for it. I don't know if they'll be another swap - this one is already closed - but you can check it out here. The forum is both in French and English, so don't close the window if you see something you don't recognise.