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November 30, 2007

Maybe

Maybe when your day, week, month has a been a difficult one and you can't beg, borrow or steal some time to knit, maybe what you're needing most is a manicure (OPI "Suzi Loves Sydney") and an eyebrow wax.

While the knitting time hasn't materialized, the ideas are flowing. I now have a better vision of the direction of some unfinished business. I'm learning to make the RIGHT connections (literally and figuratively) and going with my gut rather than embracing each new thing. With rejection comes refinement. I always seem to skip that step, but now I'm tuning in to the inner voice that tells me when something is not right. There's not enough time or energy for the "not right."

It's exciting and rewarding to see my clothing options shrink (yes, you are reading that right). Until the right things come my way, I'm okay with my limited options because I'm feeling good about what I have! I'll just knit the accessories as my options increase. One of the gifts I'm giving this year is permission (to my loved ones) to do the things for themselves that they wouldn't normally do -- the things they sometimes do for me as an act of generosity. Really. Do them for yourselves. You deserve it. Buy that amazing handbag for yourself -- or the perfect shoes. Your sharing with me how good they make you feel is the best gift.

I went to a baby shower last night and got to meet the sweet baby for whom the "Strawberry Latte" hat was intended (but alas, no photo of the recipient -- just this bear):

Baby hat on bear

I decided at the last minute not to add a pom pom It's still a little bit big for Malley, but she loved it (if sleeping through a baby shower is a sign of approval, she approves!). And I loved knitting it! Heads don't come in pairs like feet . . . or hands . . . so you knit one and you're finished. You don't have to knit a matching "other hat." I've knit a lot of hats, but this epiphany -- it is just now coming. Apparently I'm slow.

Erica leaves Sunday to go back to Florida and a job at Toni & Guy. It's exciting and very "her." My mom leaves shortly after that. I'm feeling prepared for the holidays and excited about my purchases and decisions. Bring it on.

November 27, 2007

Baby knits are fast

Even with a few false starts (I started knitting these booties but they were turning out too big), I managed to knit a baby hat over the weekend.

Baby Hat for Malley

For the baby hat, I used 2.5mm double-pointed needles and the basic hat guidelines in Knitting Rules. I use this book so much. I love how Stephanie's advice is sprinkled throughout the book -- "when in doubt, knit longer. A hat that's too long can be folded up, but a hat that's too short will be annoyingly tugged on for years to come."

My favorite: "Teenagers do not wear hats except in summer, while skateboarding, or as a fashion statement designed to humiliate or annoy you."

As for the yarn, I don't know if Claudia uses a different base yarn now, but it feels like an improvement over the two skeins of her yarn I've purchased in the past -- both in softness and color saturation. I still want to knit the booties and am fantasizing about de-stashing by knitting baby items.

I worked on Friday when the Claudia's Hand Painted Yarn arrived. The "Strawberry Latte" (above) and "Lipstick" were the ones that wanted to come home with me.

Claudia Hand Painted Yarn "Lipstick"

I'm stashing the red sock yarn and will knit a pair of socks for myself after the holidays. That should give me plenty of time to figure out the perfect pattern.


November 23, 2007

Speaking of thankful . . .

Surprise in the mail yesterday

It feels like I've been far away, but I've been here -- just incredibly busy. My mom and my daughter are both here for a long(ish) stay and Erica and I had to take care of something hugely important last week -- the second of her two exams to be a licensed Cosmetologist in the state of Texas. She passed her written exam without incident last spring, but wasn't able to be here to take the subsequent 3.5 hour "practical" exam -- the one she does at a testing facility in front of a proctor who grades her on all the required steps. She needed a live model for the facial and manicure (me) and in spite of several issues outside our control, she not only passed, she got an excellent grade. It was a hard-won success and I don't know which one of us was more nervous. When she gets back to Florida, she'll start her job as a colorist at Toni & Guy and begin the process of transferring her license to Florida (which, oddly, doesn't require a "practical" exam -- only a written one).

And thanks to a "what if?" moment at the beauty supply store ("it's only hair, it's only hair") two days before her exam, we "experimented" with bleach and toner and now I have some really wild highlights. So if you see me before it's fixed, feel free to acknowledge the . . . RED.

Obviously, I have NO knitting to show because I've not knit in several days. In the rare stolen moments, I'm browsing Flickr, answering emails (but not nearly enough of them) and visiting your sites. I love seeing all the lovely things you're working on and I'm grateful for living vicariously through my favorite knitters.

Click the photo above if you would like to see more details about the gorgeous Diakeito Diamusee Fine yarn that Chawne sent me (along with the neatest Moo card).

I was also able to finish my oldest son's socks almost two weeks ago:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Jeans

He's worn them several times and loves them! There's really nothing quite as awesome as seeing everybody wear the socks I knit for them.

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

RussellFamilyMealVintage.jpg

Even though this vintage photo wasn't taken on Thanksgiving, it's always been a fascinating photo to me. It's my husband's family, but only the men appeared in the photo (even though the women were responsible for the meal).

I try to be thankful everyday -- not just this one day set aside as an American holiday. So whether or not you celebrate this holiday, I wish you a wonderful day.

November 12, 2007

Jojoland Melody Superwash

Have you experienced Jojoland yarns yet?

Jojoland Melody * Fraternal

I sent these two balls of Melody (Superwash) to Chawne and look what she cast on as soon as she received it: Socks of KIndness. The fingering weight Melody and the lace weight Harmony have been flying out the door of the shop where I work. Several knitters are using the laceweight to knit the Jane Sowerby (Knitter's Magazine, Fall 2007) "Ruffled Fichu" shawl. Here is a beautiful Fichu in progress. (A Fichu is the bit of a lacy shawl arranged in the bodice of a Victorian-era blouse - as in the Manet portrait. You and I have learned a new word today).

As for my own knitting progress, I've been swatching some sock yarns and evaluating my in-progress knits to see which ones need my time. Some projects just aren't good knitting when I'm feeling "scattery." When I'm trying to work through real life things, I often pause and go through my patterns and yarns. I find things that need to be frogged and I make good use of my ball winder and swift. Nothing huge is weighing me down, but a lot of little things. At times like this, the best project for me is often a plain sock. And music. And deep breaths.

November 07, 2007

Comfort Zone DPNs - My Review

Comfort Zone

Since trying the Comfort Zone double-pointed needles, I'm convinced there is a needle for every knitter. While I wasn't pleased with the way they worked with sock yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock), they might be a good DPN in the larger diameters. These small needles are a bit too sharp for me and the taper is too shallow for sock knitting.

But the biggest negative for these needles (which might in fact be a positive for other knitters) is that they are TOO flexible. I discovered that I prefer a heavier, rigid needle for knitting socks. I love that you can color code your DPNs and choose the colors you want in each size. Each set has SIX needles (rather than the typical 5) and I think that's a definite plus -- there are times when you might want an extra needle to pick up stitches or to replace one you lost in your sofa or car. If you're able to knit for long periods of time (I'm not), then the flexibility factor would probably help prevent aching joints. I don't have the luxury of uninterrupted, marathon knitting sessions, so I had no way to test this feature.

If you're curious about these needles, I'll be happy to send them to the first person who comments and expresses an interest.

Bonus vintage photo after the cut:

Janet July 1965

Milestone: Guess who's about to reach 2000 comments?

November 06, 2007

Knit Picks DPNs - My Review

Bluebell Rib

Vanessa was kind enough to send me a surprise package a few weeks ago - two sets of Knit Picks metal DPNs -- 2.5mm and 2.75mm. Until yesterday, I'd never knit with any Knit Picks needles and although I was intrigued by the idea of metal, I hadn't planned to buy them to try out. (Oddly, I'm not at all interested in the Harmony wood DPN's). I decided to swatch with a pattern that had some yarn overs and frequent K2tog's in order to test the features of metal over wood. Typically, a K2tog or SSK with a small diameter wood needle will make me really nervous. I've broken wood needles (Brittany birch and Lantern Moon Rosewood) and nothing is more frustrating to this sock knitter than needle breakage. So, the biggest delight for me yesterday was the feeling of the total absence of worry about breakage. I chose a yarn that other knitters had mentioned was a bit splitty, but after knitting for several rounds, I was giddy about both the yarn *AND* the needles.

Aside from the fact that the needles won't break, the other positive features are the pointyness of the needles along with their longer tapered tip (a positive feature for stitch manipulation purposes). I also like the weight of the needles and the fact that the stitches on the needle don't "roll" like they tend to do on my Crystal Palace DPNs (my usual DPN of choice). I definitely enjoy them enough that I'll buy the 2.00mm and the 2.25mm ASAP. I'm curious to see if these affect my usual sock-knitting gauge and will eventually try them with Lorna's Laces to see. Bottom line -- I'm sold.

I almost forgot to mention what made me smile so big yesterday -- the pleasant sound they make when two needles touch. For some, it's not a desirable feature, but for me, it was.

For more reviews and viewpoints, check out Grumperina's post and Wendy's post about the undesirable heavier weight. But Stephanie has a great post about these also.

And please don't miss these two videos: Very Pink's Sock Knitting Style and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Sock Knitting Method.

A big thank you again to Nora for the yarn and Vanessa for the DPN's!

November 05, 2007

Malabrigo "Intenso" Stocking

:: Intenso ::

Hooray for one-skein, one sock projects! I started this sock Halloween night while I was waiting for darkness and trick-or-treating. And the following two days, this served as my waiting-in-the-car-rider-line project. It was a quick knit and counts as one of five socks I worked on during Socktoberfest.

I've started working with a skein of Shokay Shambala, and in spite of swatching it several different ways, the best-looking fabric was a humble garter stitch:

Shokay

The fiber itself feels dense and substantial and I think it will make a luxurious neckwarmer (one skein is not enough for a full-length scarf).

And since I'm the queen of one-skein projects (self-titled of course), I have to share this little bit of news -- Mary-Heather's capelet is a featured pattern on Ravelry!

MHCapelet.JPG

I've knit FOUR of these capelets from the pattern I purchased at Knit Cafe. Now it's a free pattern on her website. You can wear it several different ways -- and it's incredibly lightweight (yet warm).

capelet.jpg
Rowan Kidsilk Haze "Jelly"

<capelet2.jpg
Rowan Kidsilk Haze "Liqueur"

Tomorrow's post will be the DPN review that I promised. We've been hit with two stomach viruses this past week -- the knitting has taken place in between taking care of two miserable boys.