Monday, October 24, 2011

It's almost like I went somewhere.

Last week I had an opportunity to do a little volunteer work at a local non-profit called Family Scholar House. Their mission is to help single parents complete their college degrees. They provide housing and childcare in addition to quality-of-life kinds of classes like cooking, crafts and aerobics. I was there as part of the Mayor's Week of Service, along with a few others. We spent the evening organizing Halloween costumes for the kids as well as all kinds of donated kitchen goods for the families. It was a productive night!

As I had gotten there early, and the building wasn't open, I took a little time to check out the neighborhood. It turns out that Family Scholar House is just two blocks from St. James Court, a lovely bit of Old Louisville, where they have a gigantic annual art fair. I generally make a point of avoiding crowds, so I have to admit that I've never been to the art show. I couldn't go this year because I was taking a test, but I wouldn't have gone even if I didn't have something else to do.

Anyway, the evening I was there, it was raining a little, but there was enough light that I could get some nice photos of all the grand houses. Or I could have - if I'd had fresh batteries in the camera. I got exactly one picture taken before the battery died. Damn. I went back Saturday afternoon and there was lots of great light and color. There were also lots of squirrels foraging, though none of the little buggers would hold still long enough for me to take their picture. I got plenty of photos of the houses, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites and hope you like the architecture as much as I do.

In knitting news, I finished the second Cascade cardigan - even the buttons. I can't wait to give it to its intended recipient! This pattern knits up so quickly that it seems like you have a finished object in no time at all. I definitely recommend this one if you need a baby gift in a hurry.

Since I finished the other cardigan, I started another, this time it's the Provence Baby Cardigan, by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. I'm knitting this on in some Rowan Revive DK, the same yarn as I used on my Peasy & Vesper. This is a seamed cardigan, which is a departure from my usual top-down raglan cardigans, but the back of the sweater is moving fast and I'll probably be able to cast on for the fronts tomorrow or the next day. The nice thing about a baby sweater is that the seamed areas are tiny, so it's not so bad as doing an adult-sized sweater. I hope I get this one done in time, as I think this baby is due any day now.

Well, I guess that's it for tonight. Until next time, Friends.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My favorite gloves are about to bite the dust.

I'll have to darn them, so I can wear them until I can knit myself another pair. I knew this day was coming; the last few times I'd worn them last season I noticed that the fingertips were showing quite a lot of wear. Today a hole appeared in the thumb. It was small this morning when I got on the bus, and when I put them on this afternoon to go home, the hole was about the size of a dime. By the time I got to Stitch 'n' Bitch, it was the size of a quarter.

These gloves have gotten me through two winters and they are the warmest freaking gloves I've ever owned. I'm not kidding. I only ever want to wear gloves like these for the rest of my life. According to their Ravelry project page, I started them in mid-October 2009 and finished them on Novermber 1. It took a mere two and a half weeks to knit the gloves that have served me so well.

The pattern was Rococo, by Julia Mueller, which I purchased from the Fall 2009 issue of Twist Collective. As soon as I saw the photos of the gloves, I knew I had to make them. The complexity of the cables was the big draw, as well as their color. I couldn't wait to cast on! I ended up knitting them two at a time through the fingers, then did those one by one with double points. I'm sure I'll knit these gloves again, but not with the same yarn. I have some Canopy fingering by The Fibre Company which I think would knit up with better stitch definition to show off all those gorgeous cables.

The yarn I used for the gloves was Great Northern Yarn's 70% mink/30% cashmere DK weight in jet black. I know now that it was sheer lunacy to knit cabled gloves in black yarn that blooms. I've learned my lesson. The thing was that when I knit them, I had no earthly idea how much more the yarn would bloom after I started wearing them. After just a short period of time, it looked like the hands of a silverback gorilla were at the ends of my arms. These gloves are seriously hairy, but I keep wearing them because they are the warmest. freaking. gloves. Ever. I think my next pair of mink/cashmere gloves will be plain stockinette in a light color. I'll be checking out the Great Northern Yarns website posthaste.

Well, that's all I have this time. Next time I hope to be able to show off a completed baby cardigan. Until then, friends!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I didn't get to go to Rhinebeck.

So I won't be writing about the awesome time I had at the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival. Or how I met all the knitterati and bought tons and tons of yarn. Nope, this weekend I stayed home, did a little housework, organized my craft room and did a little knitting. Today I even mailed out a bunch of gifts I've had in the craft room that I just organized. I couldn't believe that there were only two people in line in front of me at the Post Office. It will never happen again.

The knitting I did was mostly on another Cascade cardigan, this one for my friend Jaarad's daughter. She's something like 4 months old now, so I'm a little late on her gift, but to be fair, she decided to be born a little early, so it's not entirely my fault this gift is late. Anyway, I'm knitting the 12 month size for her, in the hopes that if it's too big for her this Christmas, maybe she can wear it next year.

The knitting has gone pretty quickly - I cast on yesterday and all that's left are the sleeves and the button band. That's what I love about knitting baby stuff in worsted weight yarn: it's fast! The construction is a simple top-down cardigan with kfb increases for the raglan shoulder. The only tricky bit is getting the leaves right, but, in the end, not really difficult. The only trouble I'm having is that my gauge seems to be tighter on the sleeves than on the body, so I've been conscious about watching for that and compensating accordingly. Another evening or two and I should be able to call it finished, so I can start on the next project for my expectant friends. Organizing the stash helped me identify which yarns I want to use for the next few projects, so now I just have to find the right projects for the yarn.

Well, that's all for tonight. Good night, friends!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fridays are for finished things!

I have two finished projects this week: the Big Snowy Owl from the Purl Bee and the Schmidt vest I started about six weeks ago. The owl was probably about seven hours of actual knitting, although it took me a week to finish it, due to a variety of factors. The first was that I didn't have any polyfill to stuff it with, so I had to make a trip to the craft store for that. Then I didn't have any size 15 double pointed needles to do the eyes with, so I had to borrow some from a kind friend. After that, I had to wash the eyes because the grey yarn I used had so much spinning oil left in it that it smelled bad. Finally, when the eyes were dry, I was able to sew them on then knit the beak! I think I may make a few more of these owls, but I might just size them down and do them with worsted- or fingering-weight yarn. I think some tiny owls would be fun. They might even make nice Christmas ornaments. I'll have to let that idea marinate for a little while.

The Schmidt vest finished up much faster than I expected, but it probably helped that I was stuck in traffic for about an hour a few nights ago. You see, I thought it would be no big deal to go across the river to Indiana and back to buy some needles. It's only a mile across the bridge to Jeffersonville and the buses were running every half hour or so, so it couldn't be that bad, even with Shermageddon. Or so I thought. The flaw in my plan was that there was a Taylor Swift concert that night at the Yum! Center, which happens to be located right next to the bridge. So not only was there the usual rush hour traffic trying to leave downtown, there was additional traffic trying to get downtown for the show. It was gridlock. There were people (in heels! and sassy pants!) actually walking across the bridge faster than our bus could cross it. What should have taken an hour, at most, took two and a half. But that worked to my advantage, as I was able to knit the armhole and the collar while I was on the bus. I was even able to weave in all the ends. Once I finally got home, I gave it a good, long soak in some Eucalan and laid it out to dry. I think it looks pretty good with the Barbara Walker braided cable I used. I just hope it fits my brother in law. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

In WIPs news, I've begun knitting the little flowers for my Hydrangea bag. The pattern calls for plenty of them, but they knit up very quickly and it doesn't take much effort to weave in the ends. If I put in a little effort this weekend, there's a chance I could have the better part of them done by Tuesday. I may decide to to save that for my commute, though, as I'm feeling like I should do a little more on the striped intarsia socks that are taking me forever to finish. We'll see how that goes - I might also decide to cast on another baby project such as the super-secret one I have in mind for my friend Molly. It's going to be awesome! And I hope no one tells her what it is. It's a surprise for her baby shower. I sure hope I get an invitation.

Anyway, that's all I have for tonight. I hope you have a nice weekend, Friends!

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Friday and I haven't really finished anything.

Unless you count the Kusha Kusha scarf that I got so sick of seeing unfinished that I knit another inch, then bound off. It's probably not quite long enough, but it'll just have to do. I expect that I'll felt it this weekend and decide after that what I'm going to do with it. I still have a whole cone of stainless steel yarn and about half the cone of merino left, so I might look around on the Rav to see if there's anything else to do with it. It might be a good, long while though.

In other news, the rest of the yarn for my Hydrangeas bag arrived this week. Three of the colors were exactly as called for in the pattern, and the fourth was a little darker. At first, I wasn't sure if it was going to work, but after seeing it in daylight this afternoon, I think it will be alright. I'll likely wind up the yarn so I can knit all the fidldy bits of flowers on my bus rides to and from work. I still have to get the bag handles and a zipper, but I have plenty of time for that.

As for the Snowy Owl, I've completed its ears and have closed the top. My friend, Mary, loaned me her size 15 double points, which made it easy to finish up. All I have left to do is knit the eyes and the beak and it will be ready to be loved by a special little kid. I think I have enough yarn left to make another one, so I might get to have one for myself!

I've also made a lot of progress on the Schmidt vest; the front shoulders are nearly done, which means I'll soon move on to the ribbing around the neck and the arm holes. The project continues to get admiring glances from folks on the bus, which is nice. I love that people show an interest in knitting as well as appreciation for hand knit goods. Most people mention that they had a grandmother or an aunt who knit and how they liked the stuff they made. Maybe they'll decide to pick up some needles themselves. It's possible.

Well, that's it for tonight. Until next time, friends.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This project-starting thing keeps happening to me.

I can't stop starting new projects. It seems that I'm compelled to make new stuff. In the past few days, I've started a felted bag and a stuffed owl. I've thought about starting some baby booties. I've also thought about starting a baby hat. I feel like I've exercised a great deal of restraint having begun only two new projects.

The felted bag is a Noni pattern by Nora J. Bellows, Hydrangeas. I bought the pattern at least two years ago, but probably more like three, when I was on vacation up in Michigan. Back then, I didn't have the skill level to complete the project, but I knew that I would definitely want to make it someday, so I shelled out $8 for it. Of course it called for 5 different colors of Cascade 220, none of which ever seemed to be available in any yarn shop I'd ever been in. I tried to buy the yarn for it at Broad Ripple Knits when I was there last weekend, but there was only one color that was even close to what was specified in the pattern, so that's what I bought. I ended up ordering the rest of the yarn from Webs, which should be arriving any day. It doesn't look like much, yet, but once it's felted and the flowers are added it will look awesome.

The stuffed owl is a total impulse start. I was goofing off, looking at my friends' activity on Ravelry, when I saw that one of them had favorited the Big Snowy Owl pattern from Purl Soho. The pattern called for Blue Sky Alpacas' Bulky yarn, but I happened to have a bunch of Cascade Lana Grande leftover from when I made Jared Flood's Umaro blanket last winter. I cast on yesterday afternoon, and by the time I realized it was bedtime, I had knit all the way to the top of the head. I stuffed it this afternoon and expect that I will do the ears tomorrow night at Stitch 'n' Bitch. This is a fast, easy project. I may even have enough yarn to make one more, which might take care of some of these baby projects.

The other projects I've considered starting are from Ysolda Teague's Whimsical Little Knits, which I bought last weekend. I've had Tiny Shoes in my queue for ages, and I've been thinking I might also want to make myself and Ishbel, since everybody (& their brother) on Ravelry seems to have made one. The baby hat I've been considering in another Little Owl Baby Hat by Irina Poludnenko. I made one last winter for my friend Kate's little girl and I think it's high time I made another. I think I'll make it in Rowan Lima again, but this time in brown & natural.

Well, that seems to be it for tonight. I hope to have a finished objects post soon, so keep your eyes peeled, y'all. Until next time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A travelogue of the Teal Dear variety. You've been warned.

It should have been easy. Get in the car, drive to Indianapolis, scope out the test location, hit a couple yarn shops, watch my nieces' marching band, drink beer with in-laws. A nice reward after all the studying I did for the exam. If only things had turned out that simply.

The trip started off well enough, I got the oil changed, grabbed some drive-thru, and hit the highway. I was prepared for some congested traffic as soon as I crossed the Ohio River into Indiana, as the bridge for westbound drivers was closed and the detour took them along the same route I was using. What I wasn't prepared for was stopped traffic 35 miles north of the river. I-65 wasn't much better than a parking lot for about 5 miles, and the only maps in the car were for Tennessee and Michigan. After thirty minutes and a couple phone calls to find out I was out of luck, traffic finally got moving again and was mostly uneventful the rest of the way to Indianapolis.

This is not what the road looked like when I was on it. Image from Wikipedia.

Once in town, I made my way to IUPUI to try to find the building and the classroom where I would be taking my exam the next day. I'm sure every University thinks their campus is easy to get around, but what I mostly found were permit-only surface parking lots, side streets torn up for repaving and one-way streets that took me away from my destination. The good part about this was that I was finding all this out the day before the test, rather than the morning of the test. After a couple laps and figure-eights around the campus, I finally found a parking garage for visitors. After crossing four lanes of traffic, I found an entrance to the correct building and made my way to the classroom, which, it turns out, is very conveniently located next to the pedestrian walkway over the street that connects the building to the garage where I had parked. It seems I always find the hardest way to do things. At least I took the easy way back. I think I'd been parked in the garage for less than 30 minutes, but it cost me $2.50 to leave. At least it was free on Saturday.

This is the walkway, but there weren't this many people using it when I went across. Photo courtesy of IUPUI's website.

Since my test-related scouting trip was completed, I thought I'd check out  a local yarn shop I hadn't yet visited: Broad Ripple Knits. It's located on Guilford Avenue in a cute little house not far from Broad Ripple Avenue. Years ago, when I lived in Indy, I used to spend plenty of time in the neighborhood, so it was nice to be back, even if for just a little while. The owner of the shop, Karen, was very nice, told me all about the yarns she carries and offered chocolate-covered almonds. It felt a whole lot like our dear, departed Knit Nook, with a lot of ambiance and many of the same yarn brands. There was even a group of regulars knitting around a table full of newly-arrived yarn (Madelintosh fingering weight & worsted!). I was looking for some Cascade 220 for a specific project and then after a lap around the shop I also got a couple balls of Rowan Lima and a copy of Ysolda Teague's Whimsical Little Knits. Not a bad excursion and if I hadn't been trying to get to my in-law's house, I'd have brought in my knitting bag and hung out for awhile. It's definitely worth another trip.

A ball of Rowan Lima!

Once I left, I thought I might check out one more yarn shop on my way north, but as I was waiting to turn onto Keystone Avenue a considerate fellow driver let me know one of my tires was pretty low and that I should take a look. As soon as I made the turn, I noticed a tire place and decided that would be the perfect place to stop and look at my tire. Not only was it low, it was completely flat, and I had driven on it long enough that it had to be replaced. I'm not sure how it was that I didn't feel it in the handling of the car as I was driving it, but it didn't matter, at least I didn't drive any further. The tire place couldn't get to my tire for two hours, so I grabbed my knitting and walked the few blocks to what used to be the Glendale Mall, which is now called Glendale Towne Centre (I think), and settled in at the Panera for the duration of my tire repair. Notice I was too flaky to think of grabbing my study materials for some last-minute cramming for the test. Nope, my first thought when I found I had two hours to kill was to grab the knitting. Anyway, two hours and $115 later, I was on my way to Westfield, to hang out with my sister-in-law Susan, her husband Arron and their daughter, D.

The yarn shop is a few blocks to the right of this intersection, across the canal. Image from Wikipedia.

Once I got there, we decided at the last minute to go to the high school football game where our nieces Sarah & Maddie would be in the marching band at halftime. Our mutual brother-in-law, Terry, Sarah & Maddie's dad, would be working the concession stand, so it would be a good chance to say hi to everyone. We got there with 2:30 left in the first half of game, which was just as well because the Shamrocks had the game well in hand and it was too damned cold to sit in the stands all night. As the band took the field, we found Maddie easily, as she was helping move equipment. Sarah was a little tougher to find as she was actually on the field marching and all those kids were dressed alike, wearing those ridiculous hats you have to wear when you're in a marching band - they even had those awful vertical feather things on the top. As soon as the band finished performing, we went down to say hello to the girls. D found Maddie pretty quickly, yelled hello at her, to which Maddie responded with a clipped response and a look of worry that we might keep talking to her and embarrass her in front of her friends. I could see from Susan's face she really wanted to, and I was tempted myself, but D wanted some popcorn & hot cocoa, so we went on over to the concession stand to get some. We'll have to remind Maddie about this when we see her at Christmas.

After that we went back to Susan's where D & I played Scrabble Flash until her bedtime. I stayed up for awhile longer drinking some good beer and having a nice visit with the grown-ups. But eventually I had to get some sleep since I had to get up early to head back downtown for the test. Everything else went uneventfully: I got to town, took the test and felt pretty good about how I did. I definitely felt more prepared this time and I am cautiously optimistic that I'll pass this time. I had an uneventful drive home and arrived in time to have a late dinner with my husband. All in all, an alright road trip.

Maybe next time I'll have some knitting to show, hopefully a nearly-complete Schmidt vest and maybe the start of the next baby thing for one of the eight pregnant people I know. Until then.