Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This week in snow, sleet, rain and knitwear

first snow on patio chairsIt was Monday morning. As is his habit, Nik stood on my chest long enough to wake me and make known his desire for his 4 a.m. feeding. He does this every morning, like I'd forget or something. Not bloody likely after 13 years. I'm a creature of habit, too, buddy. I know how it goes.

I glanced upward from my bed out through the slightly open blinds. It seemed so light out that I figured I really had overslept, leaving poor starving kitties to struggle for themselves well past 5 o'clock. I swung my legs over the side of the bed, squinted at the clock on the night table and saw that it was only 1:48 a.m. In my vast experience of such things, the only reason for the softly bright night sky was snow. The first real, stuck-to-the-ground, more-than-a-dusting snowfall of the pre-winter season. And me, caught with my needles down.

Chic Knits Super CupcakeWhile it's true that I already have a beret and cowl under my belt, I want more. It wouldn't hurt to have another cowl or two, with matching chapeaux, mittens or fingerless mitts completed. I won't go so far as a sweater or lacy shawl because these things, while quite lovely, require the kind of patience I do not possess.

Watch out for sticky fingers with this one! She is called Super Cupcake and she will be mine this winter. Bonne Marie has come up with another practical, sensible and versatile knit to battle the wind and the wet. I have just the worsted in mind, too: 3 or 4 skeins of Lorna's Laces in the Vera colorway that's been marinating in stashland for quite some time.

Perhaps I need to put the baby dress aside and gear up for more suitable woolens. My original plan called for the dress to be finished in time for baby's first Christmas. Well, like the man says, plans change. I hear there's a bonafide winter storm headed our way by week's end.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Orange Eye Candy

Painted pumpkin
For Samhain, Dia de los Muertos and Halloween

Nikita at 13
For familiars everywhere, whether orange or otherwise.

+ + + + +

See you on the "other side"
scary karen b.
...of the weekend.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Must be the season of the...

Ceiling Cat.* First I see evidence of the long-secret plan unfolding over at Chris' place. Now, Rocky has apparently received his marching orders.

Felidae, Ceiling God
"Yes, overlord. She's here but cannot comprehend."
What's a caretaker to do?

*apologies to anyone who may be offended. it's humor. really. don't tell the cats I said so.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mommy's Alright

Nikita's portraitNikita, working that beauty shot, says, "We're All Alright" (Cheap Trick. Holla!)
As you might have guessed by the lack of posts, I'm not crafting. And since this is a primarily a knitting blog, I generally try to keep it light and focused. See, my current life is a series of struggles with impersonal bureaucrats in a large insurance company, figuring out how to pay unexpected bills that keep popping up (failing appliances, water damage) and which doctor to see next.

Meanwhile, I've taken up water aerobics to strengthen my body as I search for things to occupy my mind other than the aforementioned. So why not knitting, you ask? It seems I've lost that feeling of intensity and desire to have my heart and hands working to create. I am literally surrounded by projects but they do not call to me.

One day, perhaps, they will. I did, after all, take a very long break before and came back with a vengeance to learn new techniques and work with all kinds of new fibers and colors. Waxing and waning and waxing again. That's life.

Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away, ay, aaaaaaaay.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009


Nikita licks the yogurt spoonFriends - true friends - weave a
Tight web that keeps you afloat
Though you feel done in.

More precious than gold,
This bond's strength depends solely
On how you tend it.


What else do friends do? They let you lick the spoon.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

FO: Simply 17

When I was in my early teens, my friends and I would go downtown to the movies. Any remaining money we had would be pooled to buy munchies and drinks at the corner snack shop. I always remembered this place because it was a remnant of a bygone era, with its huge neon sign above the door in cotton candy colors, surrounded by blinking marquee lights proclaiming "17."

Today's project put me in the mind of that place because it was also made possible by leftovers. Say hello to "Simply 17," a striped garter stitch scarf:

FO: Simply 17 modeled by Rocky T. Cat
"Am I a super-model yet?" - Rocky*


Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky (approx. 1/2 skein) in South Shore (MC) and Lilac (CC)
Needles: (2) 9 US / 5,5 mm bamboo dpns

1. Using MC, cast on 17 stitches
2. Knit MC back to RS edge
3. Pick up CC and knit up and back, creating one ridge
4. Repeat 2 and 3 until piece measures 36" / 92 cm, ending with CC row at RS edge.
5. Pick up MC and continue for another 14" / 36 cm. Bind off and weave in ends.

You'll end up with a petite scarf that is two-thirds subtle stripe and one-third softly variegated (or solid, depending on the yarn you choose).

FO: Simply 17 garter stitch scarf
By the way, Rocky's first turn on the granite catwalk lasted an entire 3 seconds. Harrumph! No cat pants for you!

FO: Simply 17 no longer modeled by Rocky T. Cat
"Whaddya mean I won't get paid in tuna???" - Rocky

*Thanks to Monica for the suggestion that Rocky needed a scarf and to domesticat's crew for showing him how it's done.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogging? No. Busy? Yes!

I may have had a major case of timorous writers block, but I certainly did not get bottled up on the crafting front. Hats, neckwarmers, a scarf - even a New Year's trip to Toronto - they all kept me busy. There are a couple of other items in the works but this will do for now.

ThorpeThorpe by Kirsten Kapur

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in South Shore and Lilac (trim)

Once you get past the clumsiness of the 4 stitch cast on, the pattern really flies off your needles.

Instead of braiding the ties, I went with I-cord and mini poms to finish. There's a matching striped garter stitch scarf in progress.

Leftovers Hat and CowlLeftovers Hat by Karen Boykin (Ravelry link)

Yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in Natural and Malabrigo Chunky is Dusty Rose

Why “Leftovers”? Because this hat was created from the yarn that remained after I knit the November baby jumper and socks.

This hat is paired with the Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta in the same colors.

Anne in BSA PoppyAnne by MK Carroll

Scarf is crocheted in Blue Sky Alpaca's yummy cotton in the Poppy color.

Admittedly, I simplified the pattern a bit by repeating rows 2-3 instead of proceeding to row 4. Get the pattern. You’ll see.

Columbia BeretColumbia Beret by Sarah Pope

I made a few small modifications to this well-written pattern. Since I used a slightly heavier weight yarn and size 9 (5.5mm) needle, I cast on 72 instead of 84 stitches. I also did 7 increase rows instead of 8 and grafted the remaining 12 stitches at the top.

I opted against the large bow in the pattern in favor of a small crochet chain twist bow. I also used purple ribbon to decorate the garter stitch brim.

Almost Ruffled by Laura ChauJust Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau

My friend Lisa Mendez gave this beautiful fade-dye turquoise to grey yarn. I've been waiting for the right project for at least 2 years when along came Ruffles.

Although you'll be working 3600 stitches by the time you finish, you'll be so pleased with the result, you won't care. Mostly.

KB at Lettuce KnitSpeaking of Laura Chau, I actually met her during the Boxing Day sale at Toronto's Lettuce Knit. Only problem is that I didn't realize the person ringing up my two skeins of Fleece Artist was, in actuality Ms. Chau. I even had her call a taxi for us. It was not until we drove off that my friend bellamoden told me what was what.

Yikes! did I feel like a goof. I thought about calling to apologize - not for being mean or anything because I was not. Just like, "Hey, I love your patterns. Sorry I didn't recognize you."

Hmm. Thank Jeebus for second thoughts. Pathetic fangirl decided it was best to leave well enough alone.

Now, for this feline interlude.
"For me, every day is boxing day!" - Rocky

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!
Who wouldn't love a paper or plastic chomping, lamp tipping, door / cabinet / drawer opening, stubborn, sweet, curious, loyal orange and white neurotic kitty like you?

You may be 12 years old now. Maybe you can't jump on the counter nearly as often as you used to. And yes, you've gotten very picky with your food choices of late. But you still manage to find your way into bed and snuggle next to my head, then my feet. And you still manage to wake me up at 3:45 for the morning feeding. And I still manage to love you to bits, my belly boy Nikita!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mail Call and Miscellany

Let's review.
Mea culpa, y'all. I have been remiss in sharing a few of the goodies that arrived at my door over the past few weeks. Let's start with the new books and wind up with a couple of gifts.

Gaughan Vol. 3 and Malabrigo Book One
I'm not sure how, but I was able to find the somewhat elusive Volume 3 of Norah Gaughan's (offsite) design series for Berroco (above, left) shortly after it became available to the public this summer. Just as she's done in other collections, Ms. Gaughan has managed to innovate in a space that has become a little bit too "same this, same that."

Some of my favorites of the 16 designs in Volume 3 include the Eastlake Sweater and the Assemblage cardigan, with its deeply textured collar and cuffs. For me, Strawberry Hill is the one sweater that has me wondering how the heck Gaughan even conceived of this design. It is both structural and fluid, while retaining quite a bit of visual interest. I'll never knit it but snaps to Gaughan for the eye candy and inspiration!

Malabrigo, Book One (above, right) seems to have a different mission altogether. According to Malabrigo's Tobias Feder, designer Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton named each of the 17 designs after Uruguayan cities and towns. While they do not achieve the level of high concept design, the very approachable sweaters, vests and accessories do a decent enough job of showcasing Malabrigo yarns.

Finding publicly sharable photos of the designs has proven a bit difficult, but if you're a Raveler, you're in luck (Ravelry links). Carmelo, the design pictured on the cover, is a heavy favorite within Ravelry. I tend more toward the hat-scarf-mitten combos myself, with Mercedes riding my fave wave. I also like Arapey, the one lace shawl in the book, with its faint arrowhead motif.

One thing I noticed is that almost all of yarns used in Book One are solids or nearly solid. While Malabrigo certainly has a respectable depth in solids, I think some attention might well have been paid to their rich palette of painted multi-color yarns. It's hard to find designs that do justice to handpaints - especially in garments. Perhaps these yarns will show up in a future folio.

I wanted to embrace this book as something special because I'm such a fan of the yarn. Sadly, nothing "blows my hair back." Color me disappointed with the freshman effort.

Treats from a sweetie.
Gifts from a friend!
You know how it goes with this online knitting community. We met in person just last month, though we found our way to friendship through blogging long before then. KnitPastis said something was on the way but gave no hint as to what it might be, except to say that it was handmade.

I opened the pink tissue paper and fell instantly in love with my Amy Butler fabric knitting project bag. I'm totally digging the pale and darker striped blue background with the brownish gold leaf motif scattered here and there. Enough for me? Most definitely. Not for this petite person who believes in having dessert everyday. My "icing" was two balls of Crystal Palace kid merino in a lovely shade of deep pinkish red. Such an unexpected, but completely appreciated, gift to brighten the day.

And then there came a giant thud!
I haven't been making the blog rounds lately. It's not because I've taken a sudden dislike to crafting. Oh, no. The reason is much more self-serving than that. I can't open Bloglines without feeling the pull of temptation.

I don't watch network or cable news, so I subscribe to several national and international sources to fill my news junkie needs. Unfortunately, the nasty business of presidential politics has become too extreme for me, with the lies, accusations and seemingly willful ignorance of too much of the voting public. Lately, I've become so infuriated with each story I read that I have called a halt to its constant consumption.

My thoughts (and my stomach) are churning, churning. I have this low hum of irritability and agitation that is not conducive to my well-being. So instead of reaching for another antacid and a sedative, I think I'd best let sleeping cats lay and stay away from the political cacophony.
Nikita, Sleeping On A Sunny Afternoon
Pax wobiscum

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Karen See, Karen Do

This week's thunderstorms and tornadoes (and the resulting power loss) showed me that I had a few kinks in my emergency system. For one, I had no cooler to load with ice and possibly save the contents of my refrigerator. A trip to Target was in order.

Now, I do not frequent Target. Nothing against the store, mind you. That just means I was a bit disoriented when I walked in. It must've been fate that led me to the SmartyKat ScratchScroll! I saw this the other day on Stumbling Over Chaos and thought it was adorable. Who knew I'd be headed to the store within days and that would be the first thing my eyes landed upon.

The tag says you should let your cat discover the lounger on his own. Maybe Rocky's real name is Christopher Columbus?

Rocky and The Lounger
Next time, I think a couple of book reviews are in order. Hasta luego!

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Friday, June 20, 2008


I was just cruising along on the Moderne baby blanket, absolutely determined to hit the finish line this weekend. Sometimes, in a rush to complete a project, you consciously or unconsciously overlook things that are less than quality. "Oh, I can block that into shape. It won't be a problem." You know what they say about denial.

It's just that, after nearly 3 inches of this crap, I couldn't let it go any longer. No amount of squishing, stretching or looking at it sideways would change the facts. The stitches had to be undone. Thankfully, I had a willing helper.

Tangled Up In Pink
"Let's see what happens when I grab this..." - Nikita
Seeing his antics as I ripped out my early morning work made the undo much less painful. I'd rather lose a couple of hours work than hand over a gift, knowing that it was less than my best.

By the way, I was only 4 inches from finishing the blanket.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Something Is Afoot

Hail, hallelujah and a chorus of angels! I have finally finished something after a what? Three, four month drought? It's a good thing you don't stop by here for the finished items as a good friend recently said because you'd be darn thirsty.

In any event, I thought I'd start small and achievable as I mentioned in late April. Here we have my version of the purl bee's Pom Pom Peds; not on my feet because a) the skin on my legs looks weird and b) the cats take crap pictures due to the opposable thumbs issue. Leggy Creations sock blocker model shot:

Pom-pom Peds - tennis socks
Sportweight Louet Gems in grape and willow; 2/3 skein each.
No mods and super easy, these peds required almost no commitment to complete. I asked my mother if she wanted a pair but she declined, instead requesting leg warmers. Perhaps these feet could use some peds?

On Little Cat Feet - cropped
Meanwhile, I've got another stash-busting idea I need to try out. If it works out, I'll most definitely share it here.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Weak Excuse

Linen Stitch sock cuffWhat do a partial Monkey number 2, the beginning of another sock and about 5 inches of a red raglan cropped sweater all have in common?

They all spell a weak excuse for at least two weeks worth of knitting. Sure, I started new projects despite my protestations on too many WIPs which, by the way, I totally appreciated your thoughts on getting those under control. Then I decided it was less about "too many" and more about feeling listless about the whole creative process. Starting anew has really become a symptom of my attempt to feel the rush again. It takes more and more to feel less and less and it makes me sad and somewhat disconnected from you. Will you still embrace me as one of your own, even if I don't produce?

Cropped Red Sweater
I no longer look lovingly in my overstuffed yarn closet and think, "Shawl, sweater, socks, socks, socks, coat, jacket, felted bag." I see too much yarn and too much work to get to the end result. My mojo is not just on vacation. It's in a flipping coma or something.

I was reminded very recently that bodies at rest tend to stay at rest; that they need deliberate action to get into (and stay in) motion. Sometimes, one needs to go through the motions to get moving again. I suppose that's what this knitting represents. My "going through the motions" of calculate, cast on, knit! Do I feel inspired yet? No, but I'll keep hacking away at it for now. Just a warning though: this kind of glacial pace equals goods that won't be ready until the next ice age.

Perhaps by then, Nikita will have warmed up to me interrupting his precious nap.
Can't you see I'm sleeping?  Away with you!
Away with you and your camera!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Siberian Express Cometh!

If you live anywhere in the midsection of North America, you'd best pull out all your woolly gear and bundle up, because the frigid cold winds of the Siberian Express are here.

ice on tree budI heard them whistle into Chicago last night as my neighbor's giant wheeled trash cans were tossed about his yard. I heard them in the branches of large trees as they scraped against the side of our glass building. And I thought about the two scarves sitting on my work bench that remain in the WIP pile, and I cried, "Why aren't I a faster knitter?"

Thanks to pain meds, I was able to complete one miserable 32 row repeat of the ZigZag scarf. Hopefully, with some caffeine for fuel and the howling winds at the door, I can make some serious headway. Too bad it's not in time for the deep-freeze. Best advice? Cuddle up with someone warm!

By the way, I can't thank you enough for your enthusiastic support of the efforts of me and my collaborator in design, Rebecca. I also need to give a special shout-out to Monica, who has agreed to be my hands for the finished submission. See, none of us do this alone for which I am most grateful.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Home Improvement

Mom's handsAside from a little spiff-up at Chez Métier, my body also continues its quest for self-improvement. Of course, when I think of it, none of this would have been possible without my caretaker's hands.

These hands support me as I sit or stand. These hands cook and clean for me. These hands change the dressing on my incision. These hands comfort and reassure when I get a little whiny about this or that.

I know I jokingly referred to my mother as "The Warden" (and she can be a tough taskmaster at times) but I know full well that every admonition is meant for my own good. Except for that little misunderstanding about the knitting ban, but we've worked that out. I've actually knit half a mitten since Saturday. I know that's a snail's pace so just be quiet, OK?

Flowers Brighten Any Decor
Once again, I am the lucky recipient of a beautiful get-well bouquet. This time, however, I know from whence they came. Too bad the smell-o-vision plug-in is on the fritz because these are a delight for the senses, with the rich perfume of the red roses in nose-to-nose competition with the sweet notes of the bluebells for my olfactory attention.
Mary sent get-well flowers
The question is, do cats like flowers as much as we do? Let's see:
Rocky and the flowers
Rocky in his "What? I'm not doing anything" pose.

Rocky bites the flowers
Seconds later, Rocky is so busted as he is spotted sampling the rose petals.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Foliage, Part 2 and a Birthday

I wanted to thank you guys for your support in my quest for a physician who'll work with me on this shoulder thing. Sorry for the vitriol of the post itself, but I'm not sorry about the hat that came out of it! Speaking of my version of Foliage, a number of you asked for details so here we go.

The original pattern for worsted weight yarn calls for you to knit the crown using size 7 US dpns. I used size 8. I then worked rounds 1 - 19, per pattern.

Once the crown is complete, you are instructed to work 3 repeats of the 12-round leaf pattern on size 7US circular needles, whereas I used size 9US. I knit one leaf pattern repeat in the variegated yarn, then 12 rounds of stockinette, alternating variegated and solid yarn, then one last leaf repeat in the solid. The change in needle size is why my version bells out slightly from the crown.

The last change I made was to eliminate all but one row of the p1, k1 ribbing. I used it as the bind-off row in the variegated yarn.

FO: Foliage Hat Modifications
Lastly, I lightly fulled the hat in the kitchen sink with a bit of Soak, hot water and scrunching to get the finished product.

Birthday Boy
The other thing I forgot about in all my righteous indignation was my baby Nikita's birthday. He looks pretty good for an 11 year old, doesn't he? That's my tabby boy, my buddy, Nik.

Nikita, reclining in shadow

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Friday, September 21, 2007

No Knitting, But One Amazing Cat!

I've been sneaking a few rows in here and there but still nothing significant to show here: a partial sleeve, a baby hat awaiting matching socks. The usual slow-knitting fare.

This, though, is a story I have to share. All I'll say is that Oscar is one amazing cat (link found via Yummy Yarn).

I'm going to keep icing my back in an attempt to recover from a hellish spinal injection. In the meantime, y'all have a fabulous weekend!


Monday, July 16, 2007

There Is No Knitting Here

There are thoughts of knitting; plans and dreams and schemes of knitting - especially birthday gifts and baby clothes as I have discovered over the weekend that there are not one but two women in my complex due late this fall. Ah, sweet baby caps, bootees, and my poor, neglected Forest Canopy Shawl to which I've added but one 7-row repeat in the past week. It'll never get finished at this rate!

It's not that I've been stepping out on my ever patient WIPs. I haven't cast on for anything new as I am usually wont to do. Oh no! Mr. Ennui cuts a wide swath across Bloglandia and even I am not immune to the "mehs." So, while I sort out what to do and where I might find a cheap airfare to the land of excitement, I thought I'd share how the kitty boys stay busy.

Nikita, batting at a toothbrush.
Nikita does battle with a toothbrush in the guest bath.

Rocky, busy looking cute.
Rocky doing what he does best: look real cute!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Nikita and the Birthday Bouquet
My phone rang shortly after 9 a.m. I could see from the caller ID that it was coming from the front entrance.

"Hello?" says I.

"Birthday surprise for you!" replied the delivery man.

A few seconds later, he was at my front door with a bouquet and a balloon. A bouquet of cookies.

"It is from...let's see...Debi! Just for you. Happy Birthday! Sign here."

Just as he was handing me the cookies, Rocky took the opportunity to run down the hall. He loves doing that, just so I come after him and carry him back like a babe in arms. Meanwhile, Nikita took my brief absence as his cue to taste test the frosting on one of the cookies. Naughty boy!

"Cookie, cookie, cookie is for me!"

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Flying Footlets!

What do you get when you mix a one skein of cashmere-soft yarn with the need for instant gratification? Flying Footlets!

Flying Wings footlet
(Flying Wings Footlet)
Why "flying?" Because the Flying Wings pattern is featured on the cuff and they virtually fly off your needles. It would have gone faster had I not stopped to pet the sock as it grew out of Cider Moon's Glacier yarn in the "June Carter" colorway. "Soft" seems inadequate to describe this yarn. Here are some of my favorite alternatives from Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition:
comfy, cottony, cozy, creamy, cushiony, cushy, delicate, downy, ductile, feathery, fine, fleecy, fluffy, satiny, silken, silky, smooth, spongy, squashy, squishy, supple, velvety, yielding
Yes, Glacier is all that! Since I'd purchased only one skein, I decided to maximize its sock potential with these footlets.

First, I split the 110 gram hank into two equal portions using my handy iScale. I had already worked out a method for adapting the 6-stitch Flying Wings pattern repeat for knitting in the round. This was necessary because the Barbara Walker Treasury primarily chronicles flat knitting.

With two size 4 US Addis at the ready, I did a long-tail cast on of 60 - L (48 - M) stitches, distributing on the two circulars as follows: 27 /33 (21/27)

Place marker to indicate beginning of round, then begin the cuff detail:
Flying Wings cuff detail
Round 1: K(nit)
Round 2: P(url)
Round 3 - 4: K

Round 5: Skip first 2 stitches and knit 3rd stitch on left-hand needle. Next, knit 1st and 2nd stitches, then slip all 3 from left needle. Slip 4th stitch to dpn or cable needle, holding the stitch in front of your work; knit stitches 5 and 6, then knit stitch 4 from the dpn. Repeat to end of round.

Round 6: K5, *skip 1st stitch and k 2nd stitch on left-hand needle. Knit the skipped stitch and slip both off left needle; K4. * Repeat * to * until last stitch of round, then K1.

Repeat Rounds 3- 6 three times, then knit 2 additional rounds to set up for heel.

Redistribute stitches so that each needle holds half of the total number of cast on stitches. Begin your heel of choice. I used a standard slip stitch heel flap and gusset, knitting the rest of the footlet in stockinette and capping it with a (mostly) rounded toe decrease. Easy, peasy!

What of Forest Canopy?
I have not abandoned this fun and easy lace project. Nay, verily I say unto you that I'm about one-third of the way done with the shawl - that is, if I were planning to knit it to pattern. Since I have approximately 450 yards of Diaketo Diamusee Fine (color 116) to work with, I plan on enlarging the shawl from 52" x 23" to 70" x 35" or until I have just enough yarn to bind off or my shoulder gives out. Either one.

I would've done a progress shot, but as I was stretching out the lace blob, I pulled some of the stitches off the needle (grrr!). I opted for fixing, rather than photographing, the lace. I'm sure you understand.

Nikita and RockyLast, But Not Least
I give you the gratuitous sleeping kitties shot. Rocky opened his eyes long enough to give me that "get outta my face with that thing" look.

OK, boys. Over and out.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Just 15 Inches

Nikita in my lapCuriosity is often a trait associated with cats, and rightly so, as anyone who's spent any length of time with felines can attest. Mister "up close and personal" Nikita here was quite intent on finding answers to the mystery of my latest bout of furious knitting -- thus the decision to hop into my lap for a look-see.

I'd been hurtling headlong toward the toe of Sock Hop number two when yesterday I realized 1) it was March already and 2) my neighbor turns 11 on Tuesday. Good night! What could I make quickly that would meet with pre-teen approval? Say hello to my little friends: Manos del Uruguay and Malabrigo. The Manos just arrived the day before and the Malabrigo had been (shamefully) marinating in a suitcase for the past year or more. Together, they make a perfect pairing for a felted mini-messenger bag:

Manos and MalabrigoJust 15 inches to go before that hot bubble bath.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

All The Pretty Little Horses

"Lullaby and goodnight.
Go to sleep my little baby;
When you wake,
you'll have cake,
and all the pretty little horses. "

When I was a little girl, I used to think about horses quite a lot. I drew them. I sought out toy ones and stuffed ones. I even dreamed I was a golden palomino who would run, play and fly. I'm sure Freud would have a field day with all the pretty little horses.

Nowadays my distraction of choice is yarn and the pretty things I came make from it. While cruising my RSS hangouts, I came across something so wonderfully textured and visually captivating that had to start one myself. It is the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts - a book I had but a pattern I'd ignored. At first I resisted, knowing full well that I already had two socks in progress along with a sweater and tweedy jacket. Once I clicked through Ashley's site to the Flickr group and saw the other Chevrons in the works, my resolve melted into a colorful puddle of goo.

LMKG Chevron ScarfI spent Thursday night clawing through stash to find complementary sock-weight yarns and woke Friday morning to cast on with Scout's "Harlot's Mums" and Dani's "Dragonfly". My first thought was to pair a handpaint with a nearly solid but I thought, "Ah. That's so safe." Since the pattern called for two painted yarns, I dug deeper to find color similarities (purples, greens) and tonal differences (yellows, blues) that would work together. It's not a pat little pattern that's emerging but I like the undulating colors nonetheless.

Chic Knits RibbyIn the past week, I finally ripped out the swatch I did for ChicKnits Ribby Pulli, and cast on 216 stitches to get the short sleeve version underway. The original plan was to do long sleeves but by the time I'm done, we'll be into warmer weather. Hey, at least I'm honest about it. At this point, the sweater is mostly ribbing but it's starting to take shape.

Rocky paws in shoesFinally, I thought I'd share my latest shoe purchase with you. As you can see, Rocky beat me to the punch by trying them on for size as soon as I took them out of the box.

Share and share alike, I 'spose.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Smells Like Team Spirit

January, 1986. It had been years since Mom had a television in the house. She was a reading specialist who did not believe in the curative, babysitting power of The Box. We were forced into growing our brains the old-fashioned way: reading, listening to music, making things. But this year, something was different. You see, the Chicago Bears were in the Superbowl (or Superb owl as my spell checker would have it). She bought and she watched and I learned that my mother loves her some football!

This (along with some serious celebrating on Division Street) is my memory of that day.

February, 2007. She still has that same television and it will be tuned to Miami and the Bears triumphant return to the big game. The love of this hardscrabble Midwestern team is something she and my older brother have in common. Whenever he takes me to physical therapy, I make note of the team caps he has lined up along that little shelf in the back seat of his car. Brother has become a super-fan too.

Inspired by The Player, I created my own version for my brother since it appears he is not too keen on other hats I've made in the past. I call this "When Lorna Met Debbie," since the only pure orange I had left in stash was Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock in the "carrot" colorway. The navy wool is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, left over from these hat and mitts.

  • I used two size 5 US circulars with the fingering weight Shepard Sock the only yarn held double.
  • Since I used smaller needles and essentially thinner yarn, I cast on 104 stitches instead of the 76 stitches called for in Bonne Marie's pattern.
  • I used much the same navy-orange striping sequence, but omitted one round of the orange.
  • To give the orange rounds a bit of added visual interest, I created a right-leaning vertical ridge where the purl stitch would have fallen in the K3, P1 sequence. Here's how I did it:

  • Player stitch detail K1, then knit next two stitches in the front and back of the loop, making 6 stitches where there were 4. Place the last stitch you made back onto the left needle and K2tog as normal. Lift the stitch that precedes the K2tog over the decrease you just made. You should have 4 stitches in the sequence once again.

    Sounds fiddly, but it goes really quickly (if you're not dealing with skinny, doubled yarn like I was).
  • Since I increased the number of cast on stitches, I had to accommodate that in the top decreases while still maintaining the 4-point star patterning on top. I ended up doing 24 stitches between K2tog decreases instead of the 15 stitch intervals in the pattern. Here's a view of the top detail:
Player top detailAll in all, a success I think. Hope my brother feels the same way.

It may be warm in Miami but baby, it's cold outside in Chicago. Since it's gotten so very chilly in these parts of late, I think I'll leave you with a shot of the kitty boys cuddled up in my office chair. Stay warm, y'all!

Nik and Rock sleepingNikita and Rocky

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