around n round she goes

A blog for my knitting, spinning, quilting, violin-playing, or whatever else floats my boat

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Location: Texas

Friday, July 28, 2006

Installment update

Pockets are finished on the installment sweatshirt jacket. They definitely 'make' the jacket. Now I'm committed to spinning up the remainder of the 'old' roving before I start the sleeves. In order to keep color placement even (and not run out of yarn) I'll have to put both sleeves on the same needle and start from the cuff. It's a bit of a shame, because I really do like to pick up stitches and knit from the shoulder to the cuff in the round (and that's what the pattern calls for). I've got about 2 1/2 ounces of the lighter roving left - I'm not sure how far that's going to go.

Thank goodness I've got a full 8 ounces left of the Black Welsh Mountain top - plenty to finish the tops of the sleeves and the collar. I'm even fairly confident that I've got enough of the lilac Shetland yarn that I spun earlier to match the body stripes on both sleeves and collar and may even have enough to crochet the front edges (where the zipper will go).

No, I'm not going to attempt the Siamese sleeve thing that Anne did on her fair isle (although you should go see Marina's Siamese sleeve sample - she's done a lot of work to evaluate the technique). Both sleeves will be on one circular and I'll knit them flat, like I did for Mom's sweater earlier this year. It means seams to finish but I don't really mind that.

I feel wonderfully like a geek right now - I finally figured out how to put links on my blog's sidebar. A small victory for me, especially since this template didn't come with that already included. I freely admit that Blogger Help was actually a help this time.

I was surprised how many links I needed to put in there (and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch - to be added later).

quote from a Chinese fortune cookie - 'Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.'

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation.

Ok, so a 4 day weekend doesn't necessarily count as a summer vacation, but it's best I can do right now. After all, at least we got out of town, if not out of state.

Day 1 - Drive from Dallas to Houston. Get there mid-afternoon, then veg out the rest of the day (loop 610 is terrible even in the middle of the day). On TV, watch a high-speed chase through parts of south Houston that lasts for hours, is followed faithfully by many helicopters and is finally and safely resolved after the police puncture the guy's tires and he ends up in the bayou.
Eat dinner at the IHOP.
Knit on Fearless Fair Isle.

Day 2 - Go to the Houston Arboretum and walk around the paths - sweat a lot and leave.
Go to the Galleria mall - eat lunch, walk around a lot, watch the little kids learning how to ice skate and leave.
Go to a nearby antique store, admire all the old stuff, don't buy anything.
Go to a totally cool bookstore and spend lots of money!
Eat at an overpriced seafood restaurant and spend lots of money.
Knit on Fearless Fair Isle.

Go to a wonderful production of Smoke on the Mountain, starring Lewis Case, my violin instructor from Fiddle and Bow. Have a great time. Don't take any pictures, but here's the program. My teacher is the guy with the banjo.

Day 3 - Drive from Houston to Dallas. Get there mid-afternoon. Watch another high-speed chase on TV (which turns into a low-speed chase) that lasts for hours and ends after the police puncture the tires and shoot out the engine block of an eighteen-wheeler.

What's the deal here, folks? Is everyone just crazy from the heat?

Knit a pocket for my installment sweatshirt jacket. Start the second pocket and run out of yarn.

Day 4 - Goof off. Go see the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Decide it's not as good as the first one.

Spin more yarn for my installment sweatshirt jacket.

Day 5 - Go back to work.

Somehow, this vacation doesn't compare to Dipsy's trip to Cyprus.

Oh, and here's a picture of Sock #1 with the cuff of Sock #2 on the needles.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Owned by a cat

Like most people with cats, we don't really own Emy, we are owned by her.

Most people would not have taken on the task of taming a feral cat that had lived out in a park for the first 1 1/2 years of her life. She's been with us for the last 1 1/2 years (she'll be 3 next month) and you wouldn't necessarily know that she started life as a feral. Emy's very friendly with us - loves to play, doesn't mind being picked up and cuddled a little bit - but she's invisible when strangers are around and she's not a lap cat.

Last night I had turned on a movie and was getting ready to ply some yarn for my installment jacket when I looked around and saw Emy huddled on the couch. She usually doesn't get up there unless one of us is there too. I sat down on the edge of the couch, picked her up and put her on my lap. Her head immediately tucked under my arm. I pet her and she purred but otherwise stayed huddled up.

About 45 minutes later, DH came home from playing chess with a friend and she was still on my lap, although by this time she had curled into a ball with her chin pointing up at me. When DH saw her peacefully sleeping on my lap he disappeared into the bedroom so he wouldn't disturb her. Near the end of the movie, he came out and sat on the couch with me. By then, she was stretched out on my lap, with her rear end hanging off my knees (she was only staying on because my arm was supporting that part of her).

After a total of 1 1/2 hours, she casually got up, stretched, and jumped down. By then, my left heel had gone numb and my right arm was shaking from holding up a fluffy cat rump.

Now, most people (non-cat people, anyway) would have felt that that was a waste of an evening. Both my DH and myself feel ourselves lucky when Emy deigns to treat us like mattresses. She's gone from a terrified, sick, underweight feral kitty to a relaxed housecat. Since she is feline leukemia positive, we live with the very strong possibility that we may not have the joy of having her in our lives for very long.

BTW - if you are interested in taming feral cats, this is an excellent book on the subject. We didn't get the book until late in the process, but we were doing almost the same things she talks about anyway. We were fortunate that Emy had had some human contact. There was (and is) someone taking care of the feral colony - feeding them and getting as many of them as possible spayed, neutered and vaccinated, and capturing and placing the kittens. We are the only ones I know of to take on one of the adults - most of them are totally untouchable.

Here's a semi-current picture of Emy - we'd have taken a picture of her in my lap but that might of disturbed her.

Knitting content will resume next week - we're going to see my violin instructor perform in a musical this weekend. Hopefully, much knitting (and maybe spinning) will take place also.

In answer to sillyewe's question about my violin playing - I don't perform anywhere, although I was in an ensemble for awhile (mostly for our own enjoyment). I'd love to know which orchestra you play your oboe in, though! Us Dallas knitting musicians must stick together!

Monday, July 17, 2006

next time, I knit the sleeves first

That way I won't have to dread the prospect of knitting them. I always enjoy knitting sweaters, but for some reason by the time I get to the sleeves I'm just tired. Knitting two long sleeves is the equivalent of knitting another sweater back. I'm also definitely wanting to try that Siamese sleeve thing that Anne did for Erin.

Some progress was made on the Fearless Fair Isle. I'm about half-way through the sleeve itself, although there will still be cuff ribbing to do after that.

No knitting on the installment sweatshirt jacket, although over the period of 3 evenings I did eventually spin enough for a 50 yard skein. It's hanging in the tree out back - although it was probably dry 30 minutes after I put it out there. It's supposed reach about 104 degrees today. Can I come stay with you guys in Toronto? On second thought, it's pretty hot there, too, and not everyone has air conditioning (after all, a/c is probably not needed very often). Never mind, I'll just sit and sweat here.

Look! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's almost a sock! There's a reason this sock is done in two colors in the book - you can't squeeze an entire sock out of one skein. You've heard of gold toe brand socks? These will be gray toe socks.

As I'm approaching the end of my first Fair Isle project (and as much as I've griped about it, it has been a lot of fun) my brain has been over-heating on new Fair Isle ideas. I charted out a few motifs several months ago, but have been re-thinking them. That's the fun of designing your own stuff - you can play with a bunch of different ideas before you start knitting and then can change things around if they don't work. You've just got to be willing to trash it and start over if the vision in your brain doesn't translate properly into your chosen medium. (Wow, that sounded almost scholarly, didn't it?)

Every time I've created something from my own ideas it has taken much longer to become a finished object, but I've been much more satisfied with the result. It will probably take a while before I've got this new Fair Isle charted out and it will probably change ten times before I start knitting (and may change a few times during knitting, too). Even if I never get around to knitting it, designing is half the fun.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I need more time!

By the time I get home from work each day it's usually after 6pm. Then an attempt at cooking (or we just give up on that idea and go out for dinner). By the time I get to sit down and start knitting it's usually after 7pm. That's only 2-3 hours a day for knitting and spinning if I'm lucky (assuming that I don't have other housework-type things to do - housework? what's housework?). I really need at least 2 more hours a day to do all the crafty things I'd like to do.

Have you ever been to the Gutenberg Project? They have 18,000 free books online. One of them is Beeton's Book of Needlework! This is a classic from 1870 and has basic instructions for all kinds of needlework (including knitting, of course). If you decide to download or view this book be sure to use the html format - it takes extra time to bring it up but that way you get the 600 engraved pictures. There's a work-bag in there that I'm just dying to make - if I make it long enough it'll be great for knitting needle storage (It's #200 in the book). You use applique embroidery on the outside and quilting on the inside and cardboard for stiffening the rolled up form of the bag. (I was going to include a picture of the work-bag but even though these are free books, I'm not sure I can do that....)

The chances of me actually stopping the knitting long enough to make this? Poor to none. See? I told you I need more time.

My Fair Isle sleeve grew a little bit last night.

And here's a progress shot of the installment sweatshirt jacket (that's what I got done this weekend). As you can see the body is almost complete.

Monday, July 10, 2006

what to do, what to do....

This is the problem with having several projects on the needles at the same time - sometimes I just can't decide what to work on next.

The railroad stitch sock - I picked up stitches around the heel flap and am now decreasing for the gusset. I'd love to get that part done, so it gets back into the mindless pattern repeat down to the toe.

The Fearless Fair Isle - It's been a week since I touched it (I know you die-hard Fair Isle fans will be aghast!). I need to pick it back up and get going on that sleeve. It's not that hard (except remembering when to decrease). I'm using Wendy's method of knotting at the color changes and after knitting the body, it doesn't seem to take that long to do each round. Oh, as far as remembering when to decrease - a very sophisticated method (yeah, right!) of pencil check marks on the chart is being employed.

The installment sweatshirt jacket - I admit that's where most of my knitting time went this weekend. The front is a few rows from being finished, but I need to spin more of the darker top in order to finish that section.

Decisions, decisions..... The sock is a very dark color and is hard to work on at night (my house has notoriously bad lighting). That eliminates one project for this evening. I'm so close to finishing the body of the sweatshirt jacket, but I'm not sure I'm feeling like spinning tonight (even though it's very low energy spinning - I sprawl on the couch with my support spindle and about 6 feet of roving at a time. The only thing that gets a workout is my left arm). Guess that leaves the Fair Isle. (Hark, did I hear cheers from Marina, Lorraine, and Brigitte?)

I promise progress photos tomorrow!

Friday, July 07, 2006

heel, anyone?

Proof that a few stitches at a time does eventually result in a knitted object. I have finally reached the heel on this puppy! There is hope that a pair of socks may be complete by the end of the summer.

I tried to load this picture of my Fair Isle sleeve earlier this week and it absolutely refused to cooperate. It works fine now and is still a current picture since I haven't worked on this sweater since then. I'm using a 16 inch circular Addi Natura and it seems to work fine. I'll switch to dpns when that gets too tight.

Plans for the weekend? Beyond the usual chores (laundry, grocery shopping, mowing), I'd like to have enough Black Welsh Mountain top spun up to finish the front of my installment sweatshirt jacket. I've got a 47 yard skein hanging in the tree already ... another two skeins that size should probably do it.

This pattern calls for picking up stitches and knitting down for the sleeves (a method I really like, btw). I'm thinking I should probably knit them cuff up together on the same circular instead to make sure that I'm going to come out right on the color changes. That means I'll probably need to spin up more than just a skein at a time like I've been doing. I'm debating, too, about the color of the big sweatshirt pockets. They probably need to be the lighter brown rather than the dark brown I'm working for the top of the sweater. (sigh) That means probably spinning and knitting the pockets before the sleeves, to make sure there's enough of the old roving left.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

and more of the same

The 4th of July became a knit-a-thon for me. I had a bit of a headache (from the weather change) and just sat and knit all day long.

My Fearless Fair Isle has gained part of a sleeve. Have you been over to Anne's site lately? She's knitting both of her sleeves steeked together! What a great idea! She's also got the link where she got the idea. Of course, I didn't see this until after I had started mine the traditional way (cutting the steek, picking up the stitches, and knitting down). I'll definitely keep this in mind for the next one though.

As soon as I figure out how to add things to the sidebar, I'm going to join the Fair Isle web ring. I also want to put up regular links to the people I visit all the time (that list keeps getting longer and longer). Of course, I could just ask my husband - he's an IT person, after all ...

Speaking of the DH - he never looks at this site, although I tell him what I've got in here. I was trying to tell him the other night how much fun it is to communicate with people all over the world about the things I love to do. He looked at me and said 'It's like having pen pals, isn't it.'
You know, I never thought about it like that ...

The sweatshirt jacket had that 60 yard skein (spun this weekend) knitted into the back yesterday. I'm only about two rows from finishing that section. Out of yarn, so it's time to spin once again. Brigitte had some very kind comments on her site about this project - thanks! Brigitte is working on Ophelia right now (Lorraine's beautiful design). She also put up a link to Garnstudio's free patterns ... They've got over 1300 beautiful free patterns. It'll take me forever to just look at all of them, much less knit any of them (and did I mention that they're free?).

I'm still chugging away at the railway stitch sock, too. Since it is relegated to work/lunch/travel time only, it is going rather slowly.

Monday, July 03, 2006

button, button, who's got the button?

Just me, apparently. The comments from my post the other day have revealed a disturbing trend ... missing buttons! I thought I better get these sewn on as soon as possible before I, too, succumbed to the temptation of just leaving them off.

Fortunately, the Woolie Ewe (one of my lys) did still have these in stock - I had 8 already and bought 4 more (doesn't hurt to have a few extra).

Of course, while I was there did I think about needing shorter circular needles for the sleeves of this thing? Obviously not! I don't see myself trying to knit those sleeves with dpn sock needles (my only other size 3s) so I'll be making a trip to Yarn and Stitches (my other lys) for yet more circular needles.

Ok, all you Fair Isle afficiendos - I need help. The edge of my neck band and my button band wants to curl up (even though I bound off in k2, p2 rib to match the corrugated ribbing). Will this fix itself when I block? I was going to baste the button band closed along the edges before it goes on the wooly board. I've thought about lightly steaming it with the steam iron, too. Any ideas? (I've pinned the edges down for the photo, otherwise you wouldn't be able to see the buttons at all.)

I used to do a lot of charity quilting (lots and lots of baby quilts) for Parkland Hospital. Parkland is the teaching hospital (and charity hospital) down here and an incredible number of babies have been born there. Lots of preemies and high risk babies, too. They're always needing blankies, hats, and other going-home stuff. When I started quilting I made a deal with myself - for every quilt I made for me or my family and friends I would make one for the hospital (the hospital ended up with more than that).

I didn't make that kind of commitment when I started knitting again, so now I'm trying to make up for it a bit. This is the Five Rectangle baby sweater. I resisted 'tweaking' the pattern since I'm using this one as a demo for the ladies at work. Earlier this year, I taught 7 or 8 people the basics and I want them to see that with only that knowledge they can make sweaters, baby hats, and baby booties. I'm hoping to send a box to Parkland in the next few months. This little sweater took about 6 hours (didn't really keep track of that) and one skein of Cottontots yarn (one of the bigger skeins). It's really lavender - the photo looks more blue. I'll whip up a matching hat and booties later this week.

I also spun up 60 yards of the Black Welsh Mountain top yesterday. That's about as much as my little support spindle can hold. Plied it, washed it, hung it in the tree out back. Forgot that the sprinklers would come on at 3 am. Wrung it out a bit this morning and left it hanging in the tree. As I was driving to work noticed that it was starting to rain. That's going to be the best washed skein of yarn I've ever made.