Sunday, December 29, 2013

On a Happier Note

On a happier note, how was your Christmas?  Did someone remember to stuff your stocking with something nice?

I got things that were whimsical,
 
 things that were practical
 

 
and things that inspire me.
 

 
 In putting away various presents I discovered, much to my chagrin because I had forgotten that I had it, that there was a hank of Lara's Creations Angel's Kiss Semi-Solid yarn in my stash!
Several failed starts later I think I have the beginnings of a wonderful shawl.  But, who can go wrong with a Baby Alpaca, Silk and Cashmere blend?  When I wound this and started knitting I was sure, absolutely convinced, that she could not come up with a better base yarn.

And then these arrived in the mail.

You have got to feel the Soft 'n' Single yarn to believe it! (It's the green and blue on the left, called Amazon if you are taking notes and getting an order ready.)  The yellow arrived just in time to be considered for one of the projects in the new BadCat KnitAlong. (It's Simplicity in Lemon Drop, again if you are taking notes.)

There is still time to join the fun over at the BadCat Group, follow the link above for instructions on how to sign up!

But, before I go, I have one more thing to suggest.  If you answered No to the second question I asked at the beginning of the post.  Assuming you are not driving shy like I am at the minute, take a little time and visit a store.  Pick up a few things that are in the after Christmas Clearance that strike your fancy, they don't have to be big, or many and when you get home, take some of those scraps of wrapping paper that seem to hang around long after all the gifts are wrapped and wrap them up.  Put them in your stocking now, and then when you put away your Christmas decorations put the filled stocking with them.

If you are anything like me, next Christmas, when you open the goodies you stashed away for yourself you will have completely forgotten what you bought!

Happy Knitting!

~M


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Well, I certainly didn't ask for that for Christmas



Enough said.

Except, everyone is a little shaken and will be very sore tomorrow but we are ok.

~M


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The End of the Countdown

Just a sprinkling of snow here this Christmas Eve, not enough to count for a White Christmas, which is good because those secret presents I was knitting were part of a wish for a Green Christmas.

As I have mentioned before, when you are putting together gifts for a bunch of people it can get very pricey in a hurry, and like many others this year for us is the year of Less is More...or as I told my kids, this year I am giving them my love, anyone who doesn't like that gift will not get any next year! (And, yes, there are physical presents to be given as well, but buying for teenagers who do not know what they want is difficult at best.)

But I digress, this post is about that secret present that I was working on.  The gift that TDQ assured me is the lamest thing she ever heard of!

Merry "Green" Christmas Bags.
Contents : 
One Empty Spray Bottle
One small box of Baking Soda
One small bottle of white vinegar
0.5 fl oz of Essential Oil  (If you are interested I got mine here, Lemon Grass for most as it is also an antiseptic and repels sugar ants!)
1 Hand Knit Dish Rag
 


Home cleaner directions:
For an all natural all purpose cleaner, mix together in a clean, empty spray bottle:
  • 3/4 water
  • 1/4 white vinegar
  • 1TB baking soda
  • 6 drops of essential oil

I had a lot to put together, here is roughly half the knitted dish rags.
 
No real pattern, just seed stitch with a garter stitch border.


Now there is nothing left to say except....

From my house to yours........May you have the Merriest of Christmases! 

~M












Sunday, December 22, 2013

Smug

It has been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks...we had snow and icy roads, followed by warm weather and flooding.  Kids with final exams that ended six hours before the bus could pick them up!  Christmas preparations to get rolling, and packages to be put together.  All the early Christmas Parties are over, one I had to sing at...TWICE! and I am really glad that we are down to only going to the things I really want to go to.  But even with all that going on the kids and I found some new Christmas music that we enjoyed.


But it is time for a reality check.... what day is it?  The twenty second?!?!??!?

And I am.......

As ready as I am going to get.

All the Christmas knitting is finished.



 Blocking shot of the cape that TDQ assured me would in no way be ready for Christmas!

I even snuck in an extra pair of mitts to go to a random gift exchange at one of the schools.  The mitts were to fool someone into thinking they weren't getting a full ten dollar gift (which was the rule in this particular game) but hidden inside them was a gift card to iTunes, which I am assured is a favorite of many teenagers...me too, I spent far too much money there getting music for my iPod.








TOB even got into the knitting act and knit a scarf for one of the many people who have the unfortunate job of teaching him.

All my employee gifts are packaged and even sitting in my office (or car in the case of one) ready to be handed to people the last time I see them before the official holiday. Pictures and stats for those will be forthcoming, just not yet!

Packages that needed to be mailed are in the mail.

And my kitchen seems to have been gutted, again!
 


But, all things considered, I think that this evening I am going to put a movie in the BlueRay player, make myself a nice cup of coffee, cast on something that has nothing to do with Christmas and enjoy some knitting time, all while feeling very smug.

I deserve it!

~M

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Day Late, hopefully not a dollar short

That is how the saying goes, right?  A Day Late and A Dollar Short, for whatever wonderful thing was in the offing yesterday for just a little more than you have!

I finally finished the last, I think, of the employee/coworker Christmas knits.  As fast as I have been knitting them I have been bagging and tagging, but...no spoilers on those yet.  (Side note, TDQ says they are the lamest Christmas Present she has ever heard of and she is glad she doesn't work for me!)

Speaking of TDQ her cloak is further along, but still not finished.  She is betting that it won't be done in time, but I am on the hood and that is only 8 more inches of straight knitting before the shaping so I am confident (smug?) that it will be done in time.

So confident that a bunch more fingerless mitts to hold gift cards just jumped off my needles.

No real pattern, just some superwash DK yarn (Patons if you are interested) sixe 5 needles, cast on 36 stitches and run with it.

We have yellow....

And blue....

to go with the grey that I already knit.

At least one more pair should be knit by Friday, when my kitchen project might be ready to be unveiled!

~M




Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prepping for The Holidays including New Years!

It is hard to believe that in the midst of Christmas Preparations I am thinking ahead to the New Year, but I am not the only one.

Get your needles and yarn ready because the Bad Cat has come out again to play, and you are all invited to knit along with her!  Knowing how overboard I went with the Summer Doily Project, knitting so many little pieces of lace all based on just a couple of patterns, I might have to order more needles. This time around we are going into it knowing there will be more than one thing to knit! And, I had better get some payment  t-shirts put  to one side, because my model (TDQ) heard that Andrea's model (Bad Kitten) gets paid in shirts and demanded equal treatment.

The group is already starting to talk about materials, but there is still plenty of time to join, so head over to the Bad Cat's blog and sign up!

But, before I can sort out yarn, payment t-shirts and needles I have some Christmas knitting to get done!

I am exactly half way through the monster addition I made to my knitting queue, but that is staying a secret for now, which doesn't mean I have nothing to show for my week.....just not everything I have knit is going to appear today!

First up we have the First of the Advent Knit Along Projects.

I changed it up a bit, used a slightly lighter yarn and bigger needles to get the look I was aiming for.

Some more mitts also jumped off my needles, very basic and boring but they will be suitable for holding the gift card that the teenager they are meant for will consider the "real" gift.

A little headway was made on the Invisibility Cloak, nearly to the neck which I am going to alter with some braided stitching and the big fancy button that TDQ says will be just perfect.

So, some knitting down, some more to go and plenty of snow on the ground to put me in the Christmas Spirit!  But I can say, I have had enough snow already, can we move right into spring?

~M










Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why do Knitters do this? Or am I the only one?

When last we spoke I was starting to let myself get a little smug about the whole Christmas knitting thing. Admittedly, I had severely culled my knitting list, or so I thought.  And then I had an idea.

A horrible idea. (At least TDQ thinks it is a horrible idea for a Christmas present.)

Every year I put together a gift bag for everyone on my team at work.  Individually there is nothing extravagant about the gifts, but multiplied out over the number of people I end up giving to when you include all my Special Duty Police Officers and back room partners, it usually ends up to be "a chunk of change".  Which is what led to the thought, along with being out of inspiration for something clever to cover up how inexpensive the (individual) gift is.

The down side, and this is where I have to ask if it is just me or do all knitters do this to themselves, the down side is that I will have to knit about 2500 stitches (not including cast on and bind off) for each gift and they have to be done before Christmas......(edited to add, I can't count...that would be 5000 stitches per gift, forgot to count the return rows!)

And......

I haven't finished TDQ's cape yet!

I did however finish another pair of socks, which brings us to a pair a week for four weeks.  Not too shabby as that wasn't the only knitting I was doing!

The Waffle Recipe strikes again, this time in Serenity Garden Yarn in the Crocus colorway.  Slightly smaller this time, only 56 stitches in the cast on, then decreased to 54 to have a multiple of six for the pattern.  My usual take half the stitches and make a slip stitch heel and it was pretty much done.

The kids are decorating their tree today, I threw a little of this and a little of that on mine...and added the scariest thing I could think of to the top (no not a picture of myself, although it is hard to tell in the picture!)



Do you think if I blink I can get just a few more knitting days before the holidays?

~M

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankfull

If you are American, today is a day of feasting and spending time with family and loved ones.  But it is also a day of reflecting on the things that you are thankful for.

Most people seem to have a stock answer when asked what they are thankful for this year...family, friends, job, home, or if they are just sitting down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, good food.

I am thankful for all those things too.  I wouldn't be much of a knitter if I didn't add that I am thankful for needles, yarn, patterns and the skill to be able to put those things together to make snuggly warm sweaters and socks, or pieces of lace that I am still not sure what to do with! (I got bit by the doily making bug over the summer!)

But Thanksgiving, at least in the US, also marks a milestone for knitters......the time when the smug can sit back and work on something for themselves and the rest of us scrabble to gather materials, patterns, needles (spread sheets if you are the Yarn Harlot, who is in Canada but she is counting down too so I include her in the list!)and start to quietly panic.

This morning I had 27 knitting days until Christmas!

But wait a minute, didn't I start things in the summer?  Don't I already have two out of the three required sweaters knit and packaged away? (Yup!)  Three pairs of socks have been knit in the past three weeks....

( This is the third pair, TDQ named them Waffles with Syrup Socks and there isn't really a pattern for them, just a basic top down sock with some slipped stitches and purl rows thrown in to stop me from having to count higher than 6! )

 and the next pair are halfway done. (Double Yup!)

 A hat,



 A very bad rendition of a new pattern from Andrea Jurgrau called Autumnal Bug.  It certainly shows that I haven't knit with two colors in a while and the hat still isn't blocked but I had a turkey to cook today!

 two pairs (so far) of fingerless mitts......

Hmmmmm, as I have culled my knitting list fairly severely this year, in a couple of weeks I might just be one of the smug ones, sitting by the fire with a movie knitting on a pair of socks for me!  But, I better not say that too loudly, we all know what happens when knitters start to boast!

~M

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not much to see here

There isn't much to see here this week at Chez Yarn Diet.

There should be more, after all there was a bank holiday at the beginning of the week and in an unusual turn of events I didn't spend half of my holiday from work at the Emergency Room!  I am certainly glad that is one "tradition" that we seem to have put an end to!

What did I do with my free time instead of sitting in the ER or knitting....I cleaned out dressers.  For the past few years I have been doing my best to get rid of "stuff" in my life.  Stuff that needs dusting, or Stuff that doesn't make me smile, Stuff that just seems to take up room, yet it seems no matter how much "stuff" I get rid of, more creeps in to take over the space, so every now and then I just get ruthless and donate bags and boxes of "stuff" to whoever will take them.

Not that no knitting got done, there was some, TDQ's Cloak is several inches longer, but still looks the same, a large, purple, blob that gets dragged around with me!

TFB's socks got started and finished.  Pretty soon he will take over from The Monster Man in having the biggest feet that I knit for!

Big enough that two balls of Patons Kroy are not quite enough to make him a pair of socks, so I added in some black for the heels and toes. (Don't mention it too loudly but the only black fingering weight yarn I could find has a sparkle thread running through it....no-one but us needs to know, he will be able to cover it up with his shoes!)

You can't really tell from the picture but I strayed from the simple knit around until you are ready to strangle someone and added some texture to these ones.  Just a simple slipped stitch here and there and some purl rows, but it was enough to break the monotony.

Next up are more socks, because I was reminded that it is tradition that Christmas Stockings hold socks, along with a few other small gifts, and it wouldn't be right not to have them.

That is one tradition that I plan on keeping for a while yet!

~M



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Finally She Knits Some Socks

Oh to have more time in my life for the things I want to put in it, rather than the things that have forced their way, unwelcomed through the door, or worse yet the ones that steal into my mind and have my thoughts spinning in never ending negative spirals.

Sometimes I feel like everyone is telling me to do the next thing, when in my mind I am screaming "But I wasn't done yet!" like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum about the last thing that I had on my list, but somehow, somewhere I managed to steal a little time for knitting.....

Socks!



There is something about self patterning yarn that captures my heart.  All I have to do is knit around and around and around and something special looking comes off my needles.  The match is not "exactly perfect" but certainly close enough!

And more fingerless mitts.


I might make a hat to go with these and throw them in a gift bag  The moss stitch and ribbing up the sides of the hands make them stretchy enough to fit me and someone with much bigger hands.  Very loosely based on Treads these knit up super fast, with nice long wrist bits to make sure that there isn't a gap between your coat sleeve and the mitt.  I think a teenager would love to stand at the bus stop texting in them!

I have made some small progress on TDQ's cloak,




This is the original picture and now it looks just like that but bigger!


And, although you can't see it here, enough yarn to keep me busy any time I am not busy doing something else.

Guess I am not doing so badly after all if I have FO's to show!

But as they say "Winter is coming" and where winter comes, Christmas can't be far behind......I have a lot more knitting to do!

~M




Sunday, November 3, 2013

What is the opposite of Green Sweater?

I mentioned a while back that I was working my way through my Christmas Knitting, starting early this year!  I am really glad I started as early as I did!

The First Brother's Red Henley is folded and waiting patiently to be worn.

The Other Brother's Green sweater turned into a nightmare!

I pretty much stick to the same recipe every time I knit a sweater anymore.  Start at the top, work my way down, try on periodically to check for sizing. But this time, actually both times in this instance, I started by (almost) following a bottom up, knit in the round to the armholes, knit the sleeves separately, pattern.

TFB's went well enough, a little snugger across the chest than I had planned for but he liked the fit, so all was good.

TOB's didn't go well from the start!  I cast on the required number of stitches for the front and back, joined in the round and knit many inches, all the while a little voice in the back of my head telling me "It's a little wide, don't you think?"  I successfully ignored that voice until it was time to join in the sleeves and start some raglan shaping, when I finally measured the thing.  TOB is  a bit wider than TFB, but not that much and a 50 inch chest size was going to be huge on him, so I frogged it all and started again using smaller needles and less stitches.

Body done, and the right width this time, I cast on for sleeves.  That little voice was whispering to me again, "A little long, maybe?" but I, again, ignored her and joined the sleeves in anyway, justifying that it had been a long time since I knit bottom up, I had just forgotten how long sleeves felt when they were knit without a body attached to them.

Having fudged the number of stitches around I had to fudge the neck shaping too, but after a few knit throughs ended with what I thought was a well shaped, fitted sweater.  And then I had him try it on!

Those sleeves were not a "little" long!  They were 8 inches too long!

Now as anyone who has knit ribbing knows, it only unravels in one direction, so just snipping the cuff and pulling out the knitting was not going to work at all.  After all the fudging and reknitting I was not about to unravel the entire yoke section of the sweater, so instead I carefully cut off the offending sleeves, picked up my stitches and worked in the other direction down to the cuff.

Success at last, or so I thought, until that little voice piped up again, "you might have cut too much, those sleeves look a little short now, don't they?" she asked.  Of course she was right and I had to snip and pull and pick up all over again!

For a really plain, boring to knit, 6 by 2 broken rib sweater there has been an awful lot of work involved in this one!  So much that I have to ask...

What is the opposite of a green sweater?

Maybe some red fingerless gloves?



 I am itching to find a new project, but inspiration seems to have eluded me!  Any ideas on what I should knit next?

~M


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Does Anyone Know What Day it is?

Looks like somewhere I lost a few days.....or maybe even more than a few.....could be I lost a few weeks! 

Good grief it has been nearly two months since I posted anything here!

Did you wonder if I fell off the side of the planet?

Or if I got lost on my way to some exciting destination?

Did you think that maybe a tall, handsome man in a strange blue box finally arrived and took me away from it all?*

Or maybe your thoughts turned to darker areas...like what if I broke all my fingers and couldn't type or knit.

Did I find a new drug of choice and give up yarn and needles entirely?

It was none of those things, just life got in the way of everything and just when things were supposed to slow down and get easier, instead they got busier and busier until I swore I would one day meet myself at the door as I was coming and going.

And then I looked at the calendar and realized that here it was the middle of Socktober and I haven't even knit a pair of socks in ....... well a really long time!  Maybe tonight I will, but I have had my needles busy clicking away, even if I haven't blogged about it.

But let's back track just a little bit....to September.

The kids and I went to Wool Gathering and had a really good time, so good that TDQ fell asleep in the car on the way home, totally exhausted, still holding the tail end of an ice cream cone in her hand!  Of course we watched the dog herding ducks, looked at all the yarns and spinning wheels.  Watched parts of some classes on spinning and demos on weaving.  I met up with a few people I only "virtually" knew and chatted with them in real life for once and got a bunch of compliments on the shawl I was wearing. (Sangria by BadCat Designs in a wonderful yarn from Lara's Creations.)We ate too much ice cream but missed out on buying any cheese because the minions were just too darn tired by the end of the day to do anything more than trek to the car and slump in their seats.
 
Andrea had a pattern published in a magazine that was issued just in time for us to see at Wool Gathering, so I had to buy a copy to support the company that supports the designer I love!  It is The Unofficial DownTown Abbey Knits and Andrea is responsible for  High Tea Cuffs and Jabot.
 
When I saw the pattern as a sneak peak to test knit I fell in love with the shawl pin she used and bought myself several from Sterling Simplicity that I have been using when I wear a shawl instead of a sweater for business casual days at work.


 
Then came the ColourMart Fall Contest.  I cast on for Antler in some merino/angora mix that had been marinating in my stash for quite some time.  I was a good little knitter and swatched, washed the swatch and then took into account that the swatch actually shrank nearly 20% but turned into the softest most cuddly swatch I have knit in a long time.

The boring parts of the sweater, namely the sleeves and body, felt like they took a long time to knit, but once I put those parts together and started in on the patterned yoke it just flew off my needles, although I still haven't got the snaps I want to put under buttons on it!

There was a brief interlude while I fell under the Yarn Harlot's spell and cast on, and off, several washcloths,
 
and a shawl
 
 before I headed back into Christmas Sweater Knitting.



 
And now here it is, Socktober and I still have not knit any socks!

What is any knitter to do?




Maybe something with these?

~M




Sunday, August 25, 2013

When Doilies Attack

As I mentioned last week Bad Cat Designs has a mini project for our summer knitting pleasure this year, rumor has it that Andrea was getting too hot working on the "Off to College" Blanket*she was working on for her daughter (BadKitten) and distracted herself with some little bits of cotton crochet thread and small knitting needles!  Of course the over-achiever in me had to take things one step further and turn the single doily chart into multiple projects!

Presenting : Harvest Doily a Study in Sizing.

All together I have 5 doilies. Two in sewing threads, one in tatting thread, one in worsted weight cotton dish cloth yarn and one in the crochet cotton that was actually suggested in the pattern!

Let's take them one by one.

Last week I showed you the jumbled mess that was the green sewing thread. It is 2.5 inches across and was knit on size 00000 needles (which is 1mm for those of you who use metric.)  The thread is actually designed for machine embroidery and kinked like the dickens coming off the spool. I probably have about 5000 yards of it left on the spool and truth be told I suspect all 5000 yards are liable to stay there!  I nearly threw that one out the window several times while knitting, the only thing that kept me going was that someone told me they didn't think I could do it.........a long time ago I read a book that stated :
"Do you know all those old folk tales where the Count tries to get rid of his only daughter's unsuitable suitor by giving him three impossible tasks?"
 "Yes..."
 "Don't ever try to do that with Miles. Just...don't."
 Simon and Ekaterin, A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold


Sometimes I am just as pig headed as Miles and can't let go of a challenge.  Of course, in the stories his results are usually better than that first attempt, so I had to try again!

Version 2 was knit with thread that was sold in the Hand Quilting rack. This time the materials used to make the thread lent themselves a little better to becoming a doily, nothing like good old fashioned cotton!  This time I went with a slightly bigger needle and crept up to a 000 or 1.5mm for the metric speaking people in the world.  My double points still found the thread super slippery so I gave in and magic looped the entire doily, which unfortunately led to some very obvious loop points, but it is recognizable as a doily. Off the pins it shrank a bit and ended at 5 inches across.

Version 3 saw me using size 40 tatting thread.  Man oh man was this stuff nice to work with!  All shiny and purple so I know that the young lady in my life who feels that everything purple is hers and everything else can be dyed or painted, is going to sneak it off my desk if I so much as blink!  Again I went with the 000 needles.  Needle size obviously played a large part in the sizing as it is only a half inch larger than Version 2, but significantly heavier.

Version 4 was knit the way Andrea intended!  Size 1 (2.25mm) needles and some Joanne's Sensations Crochet Cotton in a fabulous blue! At 7.5 inches across you would have thought I was through with my experiments in doily making, but I had one more I wanted to try.

Version 5 is a monster of a doily.  Coming it at 16 inches across and knit on size 7 (4.5mm) needles in a heavy worsted weight cotton she is the prettiest dish rag on the block.

For those of you who read The Yarn Harlot's blog, or are familiar with her at all, you will know that every time she posts about a pattern it flies off the shelves, along with the accompanying yarn, the projects on Ravelry explode and knitters around the world follow her trend.  Having broken into the worsted weight cotton I might have fallen into the same trap and spent some idle hours knitting away to be prepared for when the Zombies Come.

But what about The First Brother's Christmas sweater, you might ask?

Done!



Uh Oh, looks like I have nothing on my needles, I had better go find some more projects!

What do you have on your needles?

~M

*Andrea was working on a comforting blanket, while I sent Bad Kitten off to college with the most horrifying thing I could imagine!  I included some mirrored sunglasses in the Sending You Off to College Package so she could Blink!