Summertime

I think summer is here.  At least it was here last week.  The weather made it up into the high 80′s for 3 full days until it plunged back into the 50′s.  It’s a foggy balmy 55 today – light sweater weather.

One of those warm days we took the kids on a 4.5 mile walk down the Osaugie Trail.  By the time we got back the temp had hit 90 degrees F and the girls thought they were going to melt.  So we did what any good Northerner would do and left our un-air conditioned house and went to the air conditioned library.

My Little Reader

The kids found a stack of books to read and I found some cookbooks.  I recently found out that I need to follow a gluten free diet and so I’m reading everything I can get my hands on.  I’ll try to keep the gluten-free chatter on my family blog, www.poskozims.blogspot.com instead of cluttering it up here.  It’s not an easy change for me (oh let me list the things I miss!) but it has definitely made an improvement in how I feel.

While going from extremely warm to cold air conditioning, it struck me that what I need is a little light airy sweater.  Something like the Liesl that has been in my queue for.eve.er.  I even own a hard copy of the pattern.  Every summer I say I’m going to make a rainbow of these to go over tank tops and little sun dresses (of which I probably own 3).  Then fall comes around and I wonder why I would ever want anything without full sleeves.

But baby, I promise this summer will be different.

But first, I’ve got to finish my Lumen shawl (on the last 16 rows) and the HPKY scarf.  By the time I’m done with all that garter stitch I think I’ll be ready for some feather and fan action.  Hopefully there will still be a few days of warmish weather left to inspire me to knit a Liesl.

Focus

Malabrigo Lace – Vintage 2010

 

Do you ever feel like you’re running from one thing to the next, never really buckling down and finishing the first thing?  Never really sitting back and appreciating the feeling of accomplishment you get from finishing?  My Dad would have a somewhat coarse description of this that I won’t share with you.  Suffice it to say that a whirlwind is involved.

 

The kicker is that I have finished things.  I haven’t taken pictures yet, but I have finished things.

  1. I cleaned out the Ugly Room.  I need to find a new name for the computer/yarn/toy room.  Unfortunately it has a rather large stairstepper right smack in the middle of the room so I can’t really call it the Pretty or Beautiful Room.  It’s functional.  The yarn that was creeping out of control is now contained.  I separated out projects that have yet to be finished (yikes I have a lot!) from stash yarn.  I feel a lot better about the room and I no longer feel like I have to ban people from entering the room when they visit.
  2. I made 10 1/2 hats for the Optimist Club baby hat challenge in the last month.  I tend to knit these here and there as I have bits of yarn to use up or as a quickie project.  The half of a hat I am hoping that I can finish at lunch time today… during the Optimist Club meeting.
  3. I made cute little headwarmers.  Someone brought these into my office last week to show some other volunteers.  I copied the pattern and promptly cast on for 2.  One is for Addie and one is for myself.  I haven’t added the flower for myself – not sure I could pull that off.  Addie’s headband has a fluffy flower pinned on.  Lily has decided that she wants one to match the cowl she made, so that will be next.  It’s a super quick, one to two hour project.  I do need to block the one for myself a bit, it just doesn’t quite cover my ears.
  4. I finished the Ugly Blankie.  It’s blocked and drying right now.  I hope to mail it off this week.

 

I’ve also cast on for a Lettuce Pullover in the Malabrigo laceweight in the picture above.  This is part of a Knit a Long with Knittymuggins and Troy.  I’ve gone back and forth on whether this is really the sweater I want to knit or not.  However I think I’ve done enough cardigans for awhile and I really want a pullover.  I haven’t gotten much done on it since we cast on Valentine’s Day night (I know, not very romantic but my hubby worked that night).  You can probably guess from the list above why I haven’t worked much on it.

Life as I Know It

I love my job.

 

It’s a very entertaining moment when your boss tells you that you do not blog often enough, and that he knows this because his Mom told him.  It’s also rather entertaining when you try to explain to a group of your co-workers as you all gaze at calendars and try to hash out the schedule for the year that you’d really like to move a large weekend to a different weekend because that day also has a knitting convention in Frederic, WI and you happened to mention to your boss’ mom that perhaps you could get that event date changed this year.  Somehow my boss wasn’t willing to rearrange his weekend away for a knitting thing.  Go figure.  I’m not sure that the poor man knew what he was getting into when he hired me!  Perhaps I wasn’t clear that I was a Knitter with a capital K.

Today at lunch with several members of the staff I tried to explain what I had done with my July sweater last night.  It was around 11pm when I realized that I had put in an extra yarn over in several rows down.  I was tempted to rip back to the offending section, put everything back on the needles and then re-knit the whole thing.  However, making decisions at 11pm when you’ve had a long week is generally a bad idea.  Wisely I stopped myself from throwing it across the room and set it aside to go to bed.

This morning I looked at the sweater again.  The offending section was still there.  Darn!  I double checked to make sure tthe only mistake I had was the one extra yarn over.  I dropped the 5 stitches that comprised that repeat down several rows and started re-knitting the repeat.  I’ve got one row that seemed a little loose, but I think as I block the sweater it will blend in.

As I was explaining this to my co-workers, I realized they had no idea how tricky this was.  What to compare it to? Wine making?  No, not really any way to adjust that as you go.  Thinking on your feet when a key volunteer doesn’t show up at one of our biggest events?  Close, but knitting doesn’t involve quite the same amount of stress and adrendaline that running an event does.  Cooking…. maybe.  So I compare it to when you’re part way into a recipe and you realize that you don’t have enough of a key ingredient to make the recipe.  You’ve already put sugar and eggs into the mixer and all of a sudden you realize that you need self-rising flour and all you have is all purpose.  So you whip out the cookbooks and search the internet until you find that all you need to do is add baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Recipe Saved!

 

I’m not sure that my co-workers bought it.  But hey, the let me knit at lunch with them without being too embarassed by me, so they’re pretty cool.  And they really tried to understand my story.  Yeah, I love my job.

I leave you with a random picture of a baby hat I knit for a friend’s new baby.  Lily agreed to model the hat since she has the smallest head in the family.  She insisted upon having the picture taken while sitting on her bike on our front porch.  On one of the hotest days of the year.

Swatch-buckling

I confess, I am not the world’s most dedicated swatcher.

Most knitters know what a swatch is (it’s a sample size of how your yarn will behave with a certain size needle), but just in case here’s a little explanation of how to swatch correctly.

Back to the confession, because confession is good for the soul, right?  I tend to swatch for an inch or so, maybe as much as three, to make sure that I get the right gauge.  If my gauge isn’t coming out right, and it usually isn’t, I switch to a small size needle.  With me, I almost always know I need to go smaller.  I keep going smaller until I get to the correct gauge.  If I’m really feeling sassy lucky, I do the gauge swatch as part of the garment.  This works especially “well” with sleeves and sock cuffs.  Just cast on the number of stitches for the sleeve and away I go.  I measure after a few inches and then rip and redo if need be.

There’s just one teeny tiny problem.  Knitting tends to behave differently once it’s been washed.  Yarn blooms, the fibers stretch out, sometimes it acts completely differently from the yarn you think you had.  All of a sudden that perfect gauge swatch is big and floppy.  The sock cuff that fit perfectly is now sagging down around your ankles.  Not to mention what happens to a perfectly good sweater.  To get a completely accurate gauge swatch, you really need to wash and block your swatch first.

And that’s where I tend to cut corners.

As in I don’t do it at all.  Or at least I didn’t.  After my last two sweaters haven’t fit as well as I’d like, I am trying to turn over a new leaf.  I have swatched for my April sweater – the February Lady Sweater/Sweater on Two Needles sized for an almost 8 year old girl.  I’m also proactively swatching for my May sweater, done in fingering weight alpaca.

Wish me luck in turning over this new leaf.  I’m a little nervous about the sizing for the April sweater, but I figure if my gauge still leads me wrong at least this time it will fit my 6 year old instead of being given away to a much taller person.

It’s Good Y’all

Lily Times 2

I’ve managed to go an entire month without posting about my March sweater. It is moving right along, just as a good sweater ought to.  (It’s a good thing when a sweater behaves itself during the knitting.)  I do have to admit that I got a little nervous as I skeined up the last 110 yds. of hand painted yarn. I had Kool-aide dyed this years ago, so there was no hope of matching the yarn.  (and I tried to match it by doing some serious stash diving) I knew I’d have to knit fast to make sure I had enough yarn to get through.  I put the body of the sweater off to the side while I finished the cap sleeves.

There was enough yarn to finish the bottom of the sweater and there should be plenty to finish the neckline.  It’s currently soaking in my bathroom sink.  I have to block it to get the cute front pocket portion to lay correctly before I do the neckline edging.  In the meantime I’m swatching for April’s sweater.  For the first time I will be wet blocking my swatch.  I think experience is showing me that I need to wet block my swatches for accuracy.

There are no good pictures to show of the sweater in progress.  One of the pitfalls of Superior in March is that we have very few sunny days.  It’s tough to get a good picture on a grey foggy day.  Especially when I don’t normally have a moment to take a photo until 10pm.  So instead, I give you adventures in iPad’s Photobooth.

Autumn

The kids were having a ball with this yesterday.  As we drove home from my parents house I had one kid on the iPad reading books and the other on the Nook.  We’re such a techy family all of a sudden.  When Addie discovered the Photobooth icon it was clearly a new toy!  All I heard from the backseat was, “click, click, click.  Here take a picture of this.  Click, click, click.”  Addie’s favorite for herself was the twirl function, which just made her look like she had a sad birth defect.  I really prefer my children looking like themselves.

 

 

2 Minute Update

Velynda Cardi in Progress

I sure wish I had a finished sweater to show you.  It’s almost the end of the first week in February and I don’t have a finished January sweater.  However, I am close.  Thanks to two classes I took last week I am very close.  I’m finishing the ribbing on the second sleeve and just have the button band and collar left to do.  Not too bad considering that I started on January 5.

The great thing about the 12 Sweaters in 12 Months challenge that I laid out for myself is that it is MY challenge.  If I don’t get a sweater done every month the world will not end.  I will not get fired and my children will not care either way.  My husband will only notice because I’ll shove it in his face to admire and then take up most of the hallway with blocking the sweater.  It’s ok.  I make my own rules when it comes to knitting and the number one rule is that there are no rules.  Knitting. Is. Fun.

I’m debating what I’ll do for February, but considering that I’m not done with this one and that I’ll have a new little nephew any day now, I think he deserves some new knits.  Probably something in the newborn size so that I can get back on a semblance of a schedule.

Does anyone have suggestions on a cute newborn sweater for a boy?

Holiday Wrap Up

The Holidays have finally wrapped up and I am taking a moment to catch my breath before taking down all the decorations.  Or maybe I’m just trying to catch my breath from the cold and warm up.  The temperature is hovering in the -10 degrees F range with a wind chill of up to -25 degrees.  Suffice it to say, we’re not going outside unless we have to.  Good thing I made all these great knitted wool things for Christmas. 

Little Girl's Shrug

The first thing I made was a little sweater for Lily.  It’s the Little Girls Shrug from Knitting Pure & Simple.  (Ravelry Link)  I knit it in Plymouth Yarn Company’s Superwash Merino in Pumpkin.  Lily’s favorite color is orange, so I knew this would be a hit.  True to the Pure & Simple label, this is not a complicated sweater to knit.  Lily is small for her age, so I ended up knitting to her chest measurement and just adding length at the bottom in order for it to be more of a sweater than a shrug.    It took just over one skein of yarn.  The button is a wood grain one that I had on hand. 
The day before Christmas Lily started telling me that all the girls in her class have little sweaters with one button at the top.  She described the sweater and compared it to the shrug I had made the girls last year for a wedding.  Lily was very specific that a sweater must have 1 button at the top to keep it closed. 

Little Lily

It was so much fun to see the look on her face when she opened up the sweater.  She did mention that perhaps I could finish the sleeves for her.  You’ve got to love a 4 year old and their sense of style! 
Do you need a little reminder that it does actually get warm in this neck of the woods?  In fact, sometimes it’s warm enough to swim in the Big Lake. 
Lake Superior June 2010

Start Your Engines!

 I have a case of start-itis in the worst possible way.  I want to cast on for a ton of new projects.  There’s no rhyme or reason to this start-itis, I just want new new new.  I don’t want to focus.  I want to play.  Luckily I finished this little baby sweater (or almost finished) so I can almost justify starting another project.  I still need to make the little I-cord loop closures, but those will be done shortly.  I needed to block it first in order to figure out just how long the closures need to be.  And as long as I was blocking it, I might as well take a photo at the same time. 

Pattern:  Flower Cardigan and Hat Set from Itty Bitty Nursery. 

Yarn:  Pagewood Farms Alyeska.  One skein was perfect for this project.  I did have one big issue with this yarn.  I think it was a problem with this particular skein because I’ve knit with Pagewood Farms yarn before and never had a problem.  The yarn kept fraying and individual plys would break.  Because it was superwash, I couldn’t just spit splice the ends together.  I randomly added in bits of a pink and green ribbon yarn to jazz things up as per my Stashology class at Stitches.  Every so often I used an overhand knot to tie on a piece of the ribbon yarn.  I tried not to do too many rows of the ribbon yarn on the back of the sweater since I thought a baby lying on this wouldn’t like the feel of the knots too much.  Normally I wouldn’t tie knots in my knitting, but with the ribbon yarn it seemed like the only way to really get it to stay and not unravel.  We are getting some new baby cousins on my husband’s side of the family, so this sweater will go to one of the babies (we know it will be a girl).  The other baby is still unknown as far as which flavor it will be, so I’m going to wait to knit for that baby.  Both will probably be given lots of knitwear!

Rowan Lima

To reward myself for finishing a project, I decided to cast on for a sweater for myself.  It’s Solaris, a free Berocco pattern, made out of Rowan Lima.  I’m planning on doing a fairly big modification on this sweater, basing it on what someone else on Ravelry has done.  I’m done with one sleeve so far and I am absolutely loving the yarn.  It is making a beautiful fabric and it’s gorgeous to work with.  It may become my new favorite yarn!  Perpare to hear a lot about this yarn as I work on the sweater.  I just can’t help but pet the yarn and admire it as I go.  The yarn and the fact that I’m knitting something like this for myself feels like total indulgence.  I’ve realized that I don’t knit for myself very often and that maybe it’s time again. 

I also decided that Christmas is just around the corner and that I’ll need to knit a little something special for the girls.  I’m making this sweater in pumpkin orange for Lily.  She’s always asking me what I’m knitting for her, so I know she’ll love it.  Plus, orange is her favorite color.   For a four year old, she has an exceptionally long list of what she’d like Mommy to knit for her.  I’m debating about doing a heavily modified version for Addie.  I’m thinking about making it more of a full length cardigan with long sleeves.  It will probably be navy blue, since she’ll be able to wear that to school with her uniform. 

I don’t know if it’s the change of seasons that’s making me feel this need to start new things, or maybe it’s just coming off the high of Stitches.  Maybe the combination of wool fumes and the chilly nights are making me a little crazy.  Am I the only one who wants to indulge in fresh from the garden tomatoes simmered on the stove and a new project? 

Back in the Day

Sometime after I had graduated from a scarf (my first one was never finished) and a blanket (a pattern I was trying to make up as I went and again, was never finished) I started making matching hats and scarfs for my family.  I believe my younger sister will tell you that the hat I made for her more closely resembles a yamaka.  At least I was smart enough with those first few projects to use good wool (for everything but the blanket - I still have chenille yarn sitting in my basement from that). 

Athough I don’t remember exactly when I started knitting, I do know that this little shirt was made 6 years ago.  I made 2 of these little shirts.  One was done in green and yellow self-striping sock yarn for a friend who was pregnant at the same time I was.  The other was this one, again done in self-striping sock yarn.  I cannot believe that 6 years ago I was pregnant with my first baby.  In so many ways, it seems a lifetime ago. 

And can you believe that this little girl once fit into this shirt?

I no longer have the pattern.  I believe it was from the book, "Simple Knits for Cherished Babies."  We didn’t know if we were going to have a girl or a boy, so I chose this multi-colored patterned yarn in the hopes that it would work for either.  I do remember that each shirt seemed to take forever to knit and that I was very worried about the seaming.  I hadn’t really seamed anything before and I wasn’t sure about the "proper" way.  It all seemed to go together well though.  I know there were lots of patterns in this book that I liked, although I don’t know if I knit any others before returning it to it’s owner.  

Looking at this shirt 6 years later, I think I did a pretty good job.  Who would have guessed then that I’d still be knitting today? 

Olympic Overview

I had great intentions of taking pictures at the Olympic Closing Ceremony at Fabric Works on Sunday.  However, I was frantically trying to weave in ends and finish up my sweater.  Plus, the hockey game was on and you haven’t seen knitters until you’ve seen them screaming at a hockey game.  One of my Optimist Club members stopped by to drop off some hats and was shocked to see everyone watching the USA/Canada game. 

You might notice that my Slinky Ribs sweater is missing its arms.  I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to leave it as it is or if I’m going to knit long sleeves.  I wore it today under a black short sleeved shirt and solicited opinions everywhere I went.  I kind of like it as a vest, but I think a long sleeved sweater will have a more timeless look. 

As part of the Knitting Olympics, several Optimist Club members and other knitters donated 156 hats and 2 blankets to SMDC’s birthcenter.  I am completely blown away by the generosity of knitters. 

Now that my sweater project is in a lull, I’ve got a full blown case of Start-itus.  I’m trying to figure out what knitting I’ll take along on my trip next week.  In the meantime I’m trying to finish up a very old Unfinished Object (UFO).  I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging next week – it will probably depend on whether I take my laptop with me to Florida or not.  Right now I’m thinking not.  No worries though, there will be plenty of knitting on the beach and I promise to take pictures.