Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Unoriginal Surf & Turf Hat

I've been planning to make this hat for awhile now. I love cables and had the perfect, chunky yarn with me here in Seattle. I wanted a quick project to knit between socks and this fit the bill perfectly. Made to match my Flippy Scarf and took only one evening to knit up, start to finish. Couldn't have been easier. =) And I should have enough of that yarn left to knit up a pair of matching fingerless gloves too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Toe-Up Socks!

This is definitely a practice pair of socks! It's been a looong time since I knit a pair of socks, so I'm basically starting from scratch again and learning SO much along the way. After a couple tries with a couple different methods, I ended up using the magic cast-on method and cast on 10 stitches per needle (20 total) on US size 2 dpns.

I worked increases every other row (kfb) to 56 st, then began working the foot of my sock.

For a better fit, I worked increases in the foot to 64 st and the length within 2" of my heel, then began my short row heel.

I worked my short row heel in this method (10 st each side).

After a few rows of stockinette, I began a 2x2 rib for the cuff and bound off just a hair past 4". I would have made them a bit longer but I was getting nervous that I wouldn't have enough yarn for the entire second sock from this skein and I was approaching the point in the pattern repeat of the yarn where I'd be starting the second sock so I just bound off. That's what I get for having big feet, I suppose. heh I'm ordering a small scale so I won't have to eyeball it after this. One sock down... one to go! =)

Changes for next pair: cast on more for a wider toe and decrease less for a wider heel

And no worries, I won't be subjecting you to a ridiculous number of sock photos after this. Just so excited to be knitting my second pair of socks after so many years. =)

Tito's Cool Greens Sweater

As usual, I like coming up with my own dog sweater patterns so when a friend got a new dog before Christmas, I knew I wanted to come up with something cute for him. They live in Seattle so it didn't need to be super warm. I went with wool though since it stays warm even when wet. We all know Seattle gets wet. haha After finding some great self-patterning wool, I decided to try a blanket style sweater in stockinette stitch to take full advantage of the pattern of the yarn. Here's what I came up with:

Simple design, knit all in one piece and shows off the pattern of the yarn nicely.

Not sure I'm in love with the front. Actually, I know I'm not. I'll change that the next go-round. Maybe stockinette with ribbing just at the edges? This works though. And just a simple graft at the front to avoid seams.


CO 54 st. Work 2x2 rib for 1".

Work stockinette for 3", slipping first st each row (knit-wise on RS, purl-wise on WS), ending on a WS row.

Turn your work to the RS and add on 26 stitches (I used the knit-on method), placing a stitch marker before the added-on stitches.

1) Right side band row: (k2,p2) 6 times, k2, slip marker, k to end of row

2) Wrong side band row: slip first st pw, p to marker, (p2,k2) 6 times, p2

Button hole row - (k2,p2) 6 times, k2, slip marker, k until 4 st left on left needle, YO, k2tog, k2

Repeat band rows 2 & 1 until belly band measures 2", ending on a WS row.

Repeat button hole row.

Repeat band row 2.

Next row, bind off in pattern until you reach the st marker (54 st remaining).

Continue in stockinette until you have about 2" past the belly band, ending on a WS row.

1) RS neck band row: Sl1kw, k15, *p2, k2* 5 times, p2, k16

2) WS neck band row: Sl1pw, p15, *k2, p2* 5 times, k2, p16

Repeat neck band rows 1 & 2 twice.

Next row, sl1kw, k14, BO 24 st, k15.

You now have two sets of 15 live stitches each to begin the front portion of the sweater. Transfer half these stitches to a stitch holder. It doesn't matter which side you choose to work from. The front band will be worked from one side and then grafted to the live stitches on the other side.

I worked a 2x2 rib on this sweater, but a simple garter stitch would work just as well. My next sweater will more than likely have a stockinette stitch front with a few stitches of garter stitch at the top and bottom edge to prevent rolling. Or I'll do a 2x2 ribbing lengthwise. The choice is yours.

My front band measures 5" unstretched. If you have the dog you're knitting this for handy, try it on him/her for a good fit.

After knitting the front portion to an appropriate size for your dog (end on a RS row), graft the two sets of live stitches together. I used the tutorial here.

All that's left is sewing the buttons to the belly band. I love that there's absolutely no seaming! I avoid seaming at all costs. haha

Yep, I'll definitely choose another pattern for the front of the next one. This works, but I think one of the other methods might look a bit more polished. I've never been a huge fan of garter stitch and this is just too close. I'd change it if I hadn't already woven in the ends and had it ready to give away. Next time... =)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Getting my yarn fix.

Ahhh, gotta love getting back to my favorite yarn shop in Seattle. Here are my wonderful finds from the bargain baskets. I started with the three big cakes of tan wool. The manager did the burn test on it to be sure it was all wool since I intend to use it for a felted project. Then, I just had to fill the bag since it was $7.50 no matter if I just got the three cakes... or filled the bag. =) I got a couple balls of cotton (I can always use cotton) and some random balls of wool and a few mystery yarns that I'm not totally sure of the fiber content. I even found three balls of a pretty silver yarn - plenty for a nice lacy scarf or wrap. Some are smaller quantities that will need to be used as trims, but others will happily combine and be plenty for a whole project. Heck, 18 balls/cakes/skeins of yarn for $7.50? Can't beat that!

Then, I moved on to the shelves of donated yarns to search for awesome yarn. Found several great cakes of sock yarn to feed my new love of knitting socks! The reddish/yellow is hand-dyed wool/nylon blend - one cake is more muted than the other, but each easily has enough for a pair of socks. The awesome, bright cake is a superwash merino/nylon sock yarn called lemonade twist. Can't wait to knit that up into crazy, bright socks! I have a nice pattern in mind for the eggplant sock yarn. There are a couple of variegated yarns that I'm not exactly sure what they will become, but they were too fun (and inexpensive) to pass up. The whole reason I went to the yarn shop yesterday was to get yarn for a pair of felted clog slippers (yarn bottom right). =) The soles will be a dark olive green and the tops will be a pretty, purple-y heather. I ended up buying two of the wrong color though so I had to head back this afternoon to swap out one purple for another green and have them wound into cakes. SO nice that they'll do that since my swift and ball winder are, what, 2,000 miles away? haha They wound the sock yarn for me, but I forgot to ask about the slipper yarn since I added it to the pile last.

I'm gonna miss that place when this project's over. =(

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back Knitting in Seattle!

I'm back in Seattle at last! I headed onto the plane with three WIPs to keep me busy. =) I finished Tito's dog sweater (other than finding buttons) and had mostly finished the scarf on the plane. I like the look of ribbing, but geez, that's a lot of 1x1 ribbing! It is finished now though.

Not so sure I'm loving this yarn though. It's Moda Dea Tweedle Dee. Seems like it might pill badly and look kinda ratty rather quickly. Too bad. It's so pretty. I have another skein of this yarn too.

The socks have made it past the heel finally! Took a few tries to get it right, but I finally got the hang of the short row heel. Had to try a couple different methods to find one I liked the look of. I'm now about an inch into the ribbing for the cuff. =)

So, that's where the sunshine in Seattle went!

Seen on my neighbor's door at the hotel in Seattle, WA:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

FREE Suze Orman Book Download

Free download for one week only: Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan
(exp 11:59p CT Jan 15th, 2009)

How many do I need?

Just how many WIPs do I need? Apparently, FOUR. heh

There's a ruffly scarf that I ended up frogging last night. (Soon to be replaced on the needles by a cabled hat to match... this scarf:
Sort of. The yarn's the same, the pattern doesn't really match, but whatev. =) Different ruffly scarf pattern from the first, turning out better due to a more appropriate yarn choice. I'll definitely try that first pattern again... with completely different (much less droopy) yarn. =) Then, there's the dog sweater that I still need to finish:
Kinda stalled on that one a bit. I'm about up to the shoulders and need to figure out how I want to do the front portion. I'll have to go in search of buttons in Seattle. Luckily, there's a yarn shop just half a mile from my hotel!
And last, but not least (def. the one I'm most excited about!), my socks! Here's my second (much better) attempt after frogging the first. It's actually an inch or so longer than in this pic now. =) I'm starting to get the draw of socks. It's fun knitting round and round and seeing something wearable come of it (that's not a hat)! And so small and portable too! I see many socks in my flying future...
Love, love, love the colorway! It remains to be seen how many of these will need to make the trip to Seattle this weekend to be finished. The socks, surely. The sweater, possibly. The hat, probably. The scarf, doubtful. =)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Staying Sane

I used to laugh when people said knitting helped them keep their sanity in stressful situations. Now, I chuckle because I know exactly what they mean. Three solid weeks at home with my mother is resulting in multiple new knitting projects. Right now, I have four projects on needles and another ready to go - needles, pattern and yarn at the ready. I think I need the distraction of a new pattern. I have my toe-up socks, the dog sweater and two scarves (plus a hat ready to start). I get it now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sometimes, this happens...

I was knitting away on my toe-up sock, working my increases (way too often as it turns out) when I decided I just really didn't like how it was coming out. Thus, the beginnings of my secnod pair of socks...

...turned into this:

haha It's actually sorta satisfying to rip it out when it's just not working. My next attempt will be better. Stay tuned...

Toe-Up Socks!

I decided I wanted to knit a pair of socks this year. No time like the present! =) I'm using the tutorials from Denise Powell to learn toe-up socks. (The advantage to toe-up rather than the reverse is that you don't need to swatch to determine gauge or try to guess at the amount of yarn you'll need to finish the sock and run the risk of running out on the second sock... or having way too much left over. You could split the ball in half by weight and just knit until you run out of yarn!) After a few attempts working from the cast-on on her site, I tried out the Magic cast-on from knitty.com (16 st, 8 st per needle) and stuck with that one and I'm using the right/left twisted loop increases for the toes. I'll have to play around with the different increases to see which one I like best for the future, but this one works for now. =)
These will be only my second set of socks ever. My first pair was knit cuff down with variegated Red Heart acrylic. I still have the first pair, but they're definitely more slipper-sock than sock-sock. haha

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Starting off right - Healthy Minestrone Soup!

Seriously, this couldn't be quicker or easier to make and it's so healthy and so very yummy! The best part is, it's a perfect recipe for hotel cooking (well, if you have a stovetop, that is). =)

Fast Minestrone

3 cups vegetable broth
1 14.5-oz can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup uncooked small pasta
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-oz pkg frozen Italian-style mixed vegetables
2 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp marjoram
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
(recipe from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wow. 2009, already! How the heck did that happen?! Time has flown by the past 6 months. I suppose living out of a suitcase in a hotel, feeling like you're always on vacation doesn't help. It all just blends together. I've been home nearly two weeks now for the holidays. Oddly, I feel more at home in a hotel than in the place I pay way too much for just to call it home - maybe because I have more space in most hotel rooms... or maybe it's that I'm alone in the hotel rather than sharing the space with someone who's constantly cranky (to put it mildly). Ahh, can you tell it's been a loooong two weeks? Yeah, ready to head back to Seattle to my nice, quiet hotel room. I saw my sister over the weekend. She wants me to move down to Kentucky and get a place with her. Not so sure it would be a great idea to be tied down with a 6-12 month lease in KY though. I kinda have another plan in the works. It doesn't include another (expensive) move in the next couple months.

It's resolution time! There were lots of changes last year, some expected, some not so much. So, what's in store for this year?
  1. Cook more often and choose healthier foods. I've been eating out and buying junk way too often! I usually have a kitchen in the hotels, I just need to use it more often! New, healthy recipes will be popping up here...
  2. Exercise! Again, the hotels nearly always have a mini gym... I need to get back to using it again!
  3. Knitting! Lots more knitting! haha Yeah, I was gonna do that anyway. But I will be sticking to knitting things I want to knit and for those I know will appreciate it. No obligatory knitting!
  4. Along the knitting vein, I plan to knit my 2nd pair of socks and my first (non-infant-size) sweater this year!
  5. Stash containment - I will contain my stash to only what will fit in the suitcase I'm currently using for yarn storage (not including the yarn in storage across the country - yarn I can't get to without a plane ticket doesn't count!).
  6. Save, save, save! Money, that is. I have a vague plan I'm working on. I need to prepare. Paying off my debt last year and getting decent paychecks will help this plan along. =)

It'll be another year of big changes! =)

Happy Birthday to Me!

Okay, so my birthday's not until Monday, but I already know what I'm getting... and it's something I want! haha There's a first time for everything! My mom finally listened to me. I had to order them since my mom doesn't do that sort of thing (and that's a really good thing, honestly). I ordered my ball winder (yay!) from Jo Ann Fabric on a decent sale and with a free shipping coupon... and I bought a wooden yarn swift from a seller on etsy.com. *sigh* Sadly, I won't get them until after I get back from my next trip to Seattle since I'm heading back this weekend. I've waited this long though, I can wait some more I suppose. =) So excited!! What a nice way to end 2008...

This year has definitely seen it's ups and downs with lots of changes along the way. I began the year as a full-time photography student, completely broke, living in a mobile home (the first place I ever owned) in Spokane, WA. Part way through the year I decided I was sick of being completely broke, took a new job that required nearly constant travel, moved back to my mother's house in Indiana and sold the mobile home. It took 6 months of basically living out of a suitcase in hotel rooms in various parts of the US, but I'm once again debt-free (woo hoo!!!) and contemplating more changes for the new year. I know I won't be where I am right now at the end of 2009. It remains to be seen however just where I will be...