Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Knitting Olympics

Okay, I give...I'm in.

What I am getting myself into? The "Cables in Chamonix" sweater from The Yarn Girls' Guide to Beyond the Basics. I recently was given this book as a gift from a co-worker who bought it and did not like it. [Yes, Amy, when I am done with the sweater, you can borrow it! : ) ].

I want a wearable, washable (this means, yes, indeedy, acrylic) turtleneck sweater. I have a nice chunky navy blue Bernat Softee Chunky in the stash which will be just right. I'll be making the small size, but due to the slightly heavier weight of my yarn versus the GGH Savannah shown in the book, it will be just a bit larger which is my goal anyways.

It is the pink sweater shown on the front cover.

I've never knit an adult-sized 16 days? Good thing that I have a week of Winter Vacation in there! The perks of being a teacher!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Inherited Stash

I give you...

The completely dry and finished felted bag. I added the sage green ribbon threaded through small slits cut with scissors in the cream stripe and tied in a bow on the side for some added girly-ness. I am a total girly-girl, I admit it. The bag turned out lovely, and I cannot wait to use it.

Next up, this baby sweater designed by Cari . I am knitting it for friends who just had a little girl. It will be knit up in Patons Canadiana (acrylic, yes...but washable) in a medium pink color from my new stash that I received from my mother-in-law.

My super understanding mother-in-law recently sent me an enormous box full of yarn from her mother's house. Grandma is now in assisted living and can't knit due to arthritis and dementia, so I inherited her stash. Most of it is acrylics, but the nicer ones, and there is some wool, and some really nice wool/mohair blend. And it isn't all elderly colors either!

It is fun to have new stuff in my stash, but sad too. I wonder what Grandma had planned for the white, sparkly acrylic that she has 8 hanks of--a baby blanket or layette set? Or the teal mohair/wool, lace-weight--a shawl? I don't have a daughter, will my stash someday fall into the hands of a granddaughter or a niece or a daughter-in-law who will wonder what I planned to do with those 12 hanks of cream merino/cashmere that I haven't used yet because I am saving it for something special?

Maybe the special occasion is today.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Truth is in the Felting

Felting in progress:

The finished product. It felted up gorgeously! The cream actually felted even better than the hand-spun did. Next time, I will knit a bag at a looser gauge, because I just read online that you should. Ooops...but it seems to have turned out fine anyways. It is know drying on top of the washer, which serves two purposes. One, it might be dry enough to sew the straps on and add the trim I plan on adding tonight so I can take it to work tomorrow to show some knitting co-workers. Two, being on the washer as it is, I can't do any laundry today, now can I?

Completely finished product tomorrow. I am already planning my next one!

Moment of Truth

So...I've been knitting this for awhile now:

Clueless? How about this finished shot?

Yup, its going to be a felted bag, at least--that is my intention. I am a bit nervous about the cream colored stripe at the top. I know that pale colors, especially whites and creams, don't always felt well due to their bleaching process. This is knit in Paton's Classic Natural Merino, and I've heard from friends that the brand felts very nicely, but I am worried about the color. I did knit up a swatch and hand-felted it in the sink, and it felted up, so I am hopeful. The pink is more of the homespun, hand-dyed that I received as a holiday gift from my friend Amy.

I've got my fingers crossed that it will work!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Impediments to Creativity

One of my family members who reads my blog, commented to me at the holiday dinner table that although my subtitle mentions "writing", there isn't any actual discussion of my writing currently on the blog. To which I replied, sheepishly, "I know." The thing is, I started another novel over the summer. ("Another" to distinguish it from the countless others I have started and set aside for myriad reasons in the past). This one was going along swimmingly...until it wasn't. And I hit a wall, and set it aside--just for a few days to get some perspective. Well, then life happened and September came and school started and I had to actually work every day, and well, I just haven't gotten back to it yet.

Which makes me feel badly, because I have had my main character sitting on a porch in Saratoga Springs waiting for someone to come out of a house since...let me see...August 11th! She must be pretty freakin' cold right about now...after all, it has all of a sudden decided to be Winter here in upstate New York and I didn't even give her a scarf! But, the point is...I am not good at keeping up with all of my creative endeavors. Too many things get in the way.

Hence, my Most Wanted List. The list of the Top Ten things that steal all of the hours and minutes of my day and keep me from exercising my Creative Genius:

Do NOT attempt to apprehend any of these suspects as they are armed and dangerous in their own ways...
Dishes...why don't they ever all stay clean? Has anyone ever had no dirty ones in the bottom of the sink? This is a mystery right up there with "Where do all of the second socks in a pair hang out?"!
Cooking. Do three young boys and a grown man really need three meals a day? Wouldn't two just shave off those two or three pounds we all put on over the holidays?
My arch nemesis. Superman has Lex Luthor, Batman has the Joker...and I, well, I have a Maytag Heavy Duty. I live in a house, like most of you I am certain, where those of the male persuasion (read--everyone but Daisy, the cat, and I) seem to function under the misguided and incorrect fallacy that the Laundry Fairy visits us each and every night, delivering fresh, clean, sweet-smelling clothing to their drawers. With five of us, I average about 7 loads a week.
Cooper. Our neurotic chocolate Lab. He is a nut and quite fickle. He wants in. He wants out. He wants in. He wants out. He wants to sleep on furniture he is not allowed on. He wants a bit of whatever we are eating. He wants to be treated like a real-live boy, because after all, he IS a people, not a d-o-g, right? He wants to bark at the neighbors who have called Animal Control on him twice this year. He wants in. He wants out. He wants can smell what I'm steppin' in. He drive me NUTS!
#5 and #5 and 1/2
Les chats.
Tiger (pictured here looking innocent next to my small project knitting bag)and Daisy. They have a thing for my yarn and my needles and often, if I am not vigilant, and sadly, that is often, they will take one of my shiny needles and bat it around on the kitchen floor until it is lost forever in that nether region known to mankind as "under the stove" or its companion black hole "under the refrigerator". One word for that...eewww....This is why needles are relatively cheap and easily replaced.
Work .
A.k.a. that thing I do eight hours a day at work, then come home and do some more. The next ignorant fuck who comes up to me and says something like, "Oooh, you're a teacher! How wonderful! You get the whole summer off and get paid for it!" will suffer a swift kick in their stupid ass. We don't get paid over the summer. We can have our pay stretched out over the summer, but most of us can't afford to do that. We work countless hours at home grading, planning, and more grading. Writing tests, lesson plans, memos, minutes to committee meetings. So don't give me that paid vacation crap! We are a hopelessly underpaid profession. Do you know anyone else who has a Masters Degree in their field and a starting salary of about $32,000.oo?
No? Shut your stupid cake hole then!
Apparently 90 essays on the novel Lord of the Flies from my 9th graders and 26 Regents Practice Essays from my 11th graders have made me cranky this weekend, I apologize.
But only a little.
Oh, and don't let the elegant, refined, faux croc Liz Claiborne bag in the background fool you--grading is an evil, insidious beast, no matter how nice you package it!
My husband--pictured here innocently reading to The Bug. He looks harmless, but inexplicably and with an attitude!, expects food when he gets home at the end of a long tense day at work after he has worked 12 hours of unexpected overtime this week. And he'd also like, perhaps, a little somethin'-somethin' after dinner, if you catch my drift...
An almost thirteen year old who has suddenly become a complete and utter mystery to me and speaks another language altogether these days. He usually needs help with Math homework. He totally disregards the little fact that his mother is actually a Language Arts teacher...and for a reason! I swear, I had to go online this week to help him with Greatest Common Multiple and Least Common Denominator because I couldn't remember which was which!
An eight year old who had his Pine Wood Derby for Cub Scouts this weekend. (He placed 9th out of 32!). He is also an extreme perfectionist (sort of like the apple didn't fall too far from this tree, eh?). Nothing is ever good enough, and so this usually produces some intense drama around the house, with tears and self-denigratory statements like "I am so stupid!" and "I suck!" which Mom has to soothe and then stroke the fragile ego back into shape.
Oh, he also has his first crush on a girl! God save me!
And last but not least...the biggest Time Thief in my in fact the wee-est.
The Bug. Also known as Mr. Terrible Two. I know, it's a bit early--his birthday is February 17th, 2006, but like all of us Chez Finley, he is an overachiever. Anyone who has a toddler or has ever had a toddler knows of what I speak. "Mommy" has become his favorite word, and if I had a dollar for each time he utters, whispers, states, shrieks, or yells it a day, I would not have to have a #6. All I can say is, thank goodness it passes.
And Thank God for Little Einsteins a.k.a. Toddler Crack.
This entry is, in fact, brought to you, courtesy of The Little Einsteins: Our HUGE Adventure video...62 mintues of uninterrupted quiet time while he is mesmerized and drooling in front of the tv.
Oh, and a bowl of these:

I stopped feeling guilty about the fact that he only eats "feesh" as he calls them and "frensh fries" a long time ago. So there!


There they are...the completed pair. I have to say, I have worn them every day this week to work and not just my students, but also a fair number of my say, "hipper", colleagues find them as funky as I do. I might even knit a couple pair up for Holiday gifts for next year. Hmm...

I had enough yarn leftover for more fun. So I made a matching headband, ear-warmer type thing:

My husband, Alan, was impressed with my cabling abilities. It was cute actually. He turned it over and over in his hands and kept saying, "How did you DO this?" as if it were a mystery of the universe. He is going for his Nuclear Engineering Degree and works in a (Shh!) very secretive, nuclear-power type thingy, so Fiber Arts, are indeed a mystery to him. But, I love him anyway because he lets me buy myself things like these, and doesn't take it as an accusation that he hasn't bought me any in ages:
They are very similar to ones I carried in my bouquet on our wedding day...See?: really can't, I guess, but take my word for it. They were very similar. These are more yellow and mine were Peace roses, but close enough to make me happy just looking at them!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Half of a Whole

Well, this is what I've been working first project of the New Year. They are cabled wristwarmers. My hands are always cold, but I often need to use my fingers and end up holding my gloves in my teeth while I use my fingers and then putting them back on. This should solve the problem! The pattern is from here, with slight modifications. I changed the 1x1 ribbing that it called for to a 2x2. I also picked up 18 stitches around the hole left for the thumb and knit a thumb gusset in 2x2 rib for six rows, then on the seventh, did a k2tog all around, and finally, bound off on the eighth row. The next time I make a pair, I will also add a 2x2 ribbing on the arm end of the warmer to make it a little tighter there. Just five or six rows worth, I think will do it.

The yarn was a holiday gift from my awesome friend Amy who knows that "pink is my signature color" (Steel Magnolias, anyone?) It is home-spun and hand-dyed. It was called Raspberry and is an awesome wool. It has the most vivid little flecks of red and purple in it. I love it! I will finish the other one, and then make either a matching hat or cabled ear-warmer type of headband. Thanks Amy!

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Brand New Year

The very last of the holiday knitting...a garter stitch scarf for one of my friends at work who surprised me before our vacation with a holiday gift. I hate being surprised when I have nothing to give in return, so I spent the past week, in between every single one of my family members having the flu, knitting her a scarf. She had been admiring all of the young ladies at school who are wearing the new "it" color combination of pink and brown, so I focused on those two colors, although, it seemed a bit much for me, so I mixed in some cream to lighten it up a bit.

Now, the new knitting can begin. I have some yummy new pink homespun and hand-dyed wool that my excellent friend/knitting compadre Amy gave me for Christmas. I think I am going to make a cabled hat and cabled wrist warmers out of it. And, I will be trying out the Magic Loop for socks finally too.

And then, it might be just about time to start the holiday knitting for next year already...dontcha think?