Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lace, anyone?

I've been wanting to try lace knitting for months! I even started a scarf a couple of times, but always ended up unraveling it. I was way too critical of my work and thought my yarn overs were uneven and ugly. But since then, I've discovered that lace really doesn't look at that great until it's blocked. I decided was the day I was going to finally start a lace scarf that would actually get finished.

I posted to a knitting list, and a member told me to try a feather and fan pattern at The pattern is located here, along with some basic tips about knitting lace. So I printed off the pattern, and moved on to picking out yarn and needles. :)

A few months ago, I hand-dyed some merino lace weight yarn from Knitpicks. I decided to use it on this project. I dyed the yarn using Black Cherry koolaid mix. It came out a nice burgundy color. But, unfortunately, while it was drying, the baby got ahold of the hank of yarn. And, it turned into this tangled mess:

So, needless to say, that yarn sat in a bag for a few months. I didn't want to have to sit and untangle 800 yards of yarn. LOL. But tonight, I finally did it. Now it's in 2 nice round balls, instead of a big knotted lump. :)

And here is my progress so far:

So far, so good! Wish me luck! I want to finish this simple pattern and then move on to more advanced patterns until I can tackle knitting a lace shawl. :)

If anyone else also wants to work on learning to knit lace, feel free to join me in knitting this pattern...then we can work up to more advanced projects. Just email me, or leave a comment....we can chat by email, or put up a KAL blog.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Winter Scarf Knit Kit Exchange

I set up an exchange on Swap-Bot that I think sounds fun!

For anyone not familiar with Swap-Bot, it's a website where you can join in on all sorts of craft exchanges. You do have to sign up to join swaps there, but it's free and there are lots of different types to try. Everything from writing letters, to making homemade postcards to yarn and craft swaps.

For the knit kit swap, we will be exchanging a "Knit Kit'' containing:

At least 2 servings of hot drink mix (coffee, tea, cocoa, hot cider, etc)
A mug
A scarf pattern
Knitting needles to make the scarf
And, enough yarn to make the scarf

Swappers are urged to be creative and have fun! Make a decorated box for the kit, or include a notecard you make, or whatever you want to do. Give it a winter theme. Maybe valentine's day. Whatever you want -- just have fun!!!

If you go to Swap-bot, and look up the current swaps under "knitting'' you can see the swap information and sign up if you're interested. Or, there is an "email me'' button in the left hand margin of this blog, just drop me an email if you want more information.

Signups will close January 31st, with the exchange beginning on Feb 1st.

Email or leave a comment if you have questions, or are interested in signing up to swap! :)

NOTE: To bad swappers.......and you know who you are. TAKE HEED. All of us good swappers who send nice packages on time and don't leave our partners sad without receiving anything, will be VERY upset at you if you join this exchange and don't send your partner their swap package. And we do keep lists of people who haven't fulfilled their obligations elsewhere. All bad swappers will be chucked from this exchange!!! And those who disappear and don't send in this first Knit Kit swap, will not be allowed to sign up again. Period.

That being said, life does happen sometimes. The above statement doesn't include those who had unforeseen problems and mailed exchanges late, or for lost packages, etc. I've had that happen too! The above statement is only for those who join exchanges and receive items, and then disappear without sending, or send boxes of useless, dirty, broken junk. I have NO TOLERANCE left for that sort of thing.

For all those great swappers out there that I have the joy of knowing, or will soon know, THANK YOU for being so much fun, and for making your partner's exchange experiences so much fun!!!!!! YOU ALL ROCK!!!! And for new exchangers just joining in -- WELCOME!!! We're glad to meet you, and hope you have an absolute BLAST exchanging with us!!

Knit on!! Come and join us and get in some warm and fuzzy scarf knitting this winter!!!! (Or summer for the coming winter if you're down under or other warm places!)

Hugs! Juli

Thursday, December 28, 2006

THANK YOU to my Secret Pal!!

This afternoon I was surprised when the UPS man dropped off an Amazon. com package for me. I wasn't expecting anything.

I opened the box to find a pretty gift wrapped package. It contained "365 Knitting Stitches a year Perpetual Calendar.'' I LOVE IT!!!! My SP9 partner sent it to me!

I was so surprised! This was listed on my Amazon Wish List. A big thank you to my SP9 pal for being so thoughtful!!!!!!! :) I'm peeking at all the dates to see all the really cool stitches!

Gee, I really gotta get all those UFO projects done so I can start on some new ones!!!!! Not many to go now that I got the cabled sweater vest done!


All Done!!

The cable sweater is finally done!!!!!! :) I went to Walmart this morning and bought the buttons for the front, and sewed them on. Wahoooooo! It's done!

The sweater is for my MIL. She just came and picked it up, and it fit perfectly! I am so happy! Pictures of her modeling it are below the big picture. ;)

Here it is from the front:

And here is the back:

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Almost Done!!

I've made great progress on the cabled sweater vest since the weekend! :) After a year of being on the needles, this project is nearly completed!!! :) One less UFO on my To-Do list!

I made use of the dining room table on Saturday night to block, with some help from Joshua. Everyone knows that Hot Wheels help the blocking process. :) Josh was a great helper!

It definitely took up the entire table. My husband supplied me with foam board, and we watched A Christmas Carol on TV while I stuck pins in. I wanted to block it before I finished the front bands and the arm bands so that I would be sure I made them the right length.

Since this is my first attempt at a sweater, I was a bit nervous about the seaming. But, after blocking, when I found that all of the seams were the right length and everything matched up, I started feeling a lot more confident in myself. :)

Last night I stayed up late and finished the moss stitch front bands and seamed them. I also sewed the side seams. This morning I knitted the moss stitch bands for the armholes, and I just finished seaming the last one a few minutes ago.

As I'm typing, the pockets are blocking. Once those are sewn on, all I have left to do is go buy buttons and sew them on. I'm searching through my button box first to see if I have any wooden buttons. I don't think that I do.....or if I do, I don't have 6 that match. But, checking to be sure....I might get lucky and save myself a trip to Walmart. It's still a ZOO with all the after-holiday sales.

So far so good on my first sweater and first Aran project. I'm definitely hooked on cables! And all the little spots that I thought looked funny tightened up in blocking. Down to the finishing touches! :)

And, I've made great progress on my UFO list. For those who read my blog regularly, you might remember I posted a list in June of all my unfinished projects. And I said I would not buy any new yarn or start any new projects for myself until I had them all done. Except for some sari silk I bought myself as a Christmas present and a scarf I'm working on, I have kept my promise. Here's the list, and my progress:

UFO List - All Crafts

Knitted diagonal pillow from Family Circle Easy Knitting - all done!

Cable sweater vest - Started a year ago. Will be finished tomorrow!

Sequin applique/embroidered Christmas tree skirt -- about half done. I'm going to trim off the sections that aren't finished and make a smaller applique pillow from this. It's on my list for after I finished the Cable sweater.

Kitten latchhook kit - started 1999. About 1/2 done. Packed up for a move -- never got unpacked. Did some work on this....still ongoing.

Scraps of Beauty crocheted afghan -- started 3 years ago. Color change every two annoying. But very pretty pattern. I've made great progress on this! I estimate I can finish it in a week after I get the cable sweater done.

Baby scrapbook - scrapbook stuff bought, and pictures/baby stuff in box marked "scrapbook''. That's as far as I got. LOL. Gotta get this done before joshua is 27. No work on this yet. Scrapbooking just doesn't appeal to me.

12" square afghan to join - I have a pile of 12" squares that need to joined into an afghan. When the Scrap afghan is completed, I will get them out and crochet them together.

Knitted scarf - in LB wool from Scarf Style pattern book. I pulled this off the needles, and plan to use the yarn for something else.

Branching Out scarf - I pulled this off the needles and will try it again once I have more of the older projects finished.

Ankle Socks - pattern from Bernat site.One sock done, one to go. Pretty knitpicks variegated sock yarn. 2/3 done. This will finish up quickly once I get the cabled sweater vest done.

So, I'm getting closer to being able to buy yarn again!!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Survey

I'm taking a break from sweater knitting to blog this morning. My fingers are tired! :) So here's a holiday survey!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Both! I have eggnog flavored coffee creamer this year too...mmmmmmm. :)
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Presents are wrapped! Gotta have that suspense!
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored! Although I do like the look of all blue lights.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. We have a toddler and cats....and I read that mistletoe is poisonous. Hubby and I need no excuse to snog. ha ha.
5. When do you put your decorations up? My son and I always put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving....but we were way late this year. Didn't put it up until last week.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? I really don't have a favorite. Christmas for us really isn't food oriented like Thanksgiving. We're going to the local Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner this year.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Memories of sharing the holiday with my family, before they all started disliking each other. Now my older siblings don't even speak to each other. Gee, they're wierd. Now I live 1,200 miles away from the feuding, and celebrate Christmas with my husband's family.
8 . When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I learned about Santa after I got in a fight with another kid on the playground in 1st grade over whether he existed or not. After I made the kid eat dirt for saying there was no santa mother told me the truth. GRRR. I had to go back the next day and apologize. Boy was I mad! :)
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, we open one gift on Christmas Eve. This year I let my teenager have his early present especially early. I figured he and his friends would enjoy playing the video game I got him, rather than making him wait several more days to get it.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Ecclectic. I have some ornaments that my family used when I was a child, some my son made at school, some handcrafted ones from friends, some crocheted fans made by hubby's grandmother, some I've bought over the years and some I've made. Hodgepodge!
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I love snow....but now I live in the south. One flake and everyone freaks out. They don't know how to drive when it snows. So....when it snows, I stay home and enjoy it. No sense braving idiot drivers to go anywhere.
12. Can you ice skate? No, I'd kill myself if I tried. lol.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? When I was 6 I got a red wagon,a big container of lincoln logs, and an inch-worm I could ride on for Christmas.....that was the best Christmas for me. :)
14. What's your favorite thing(s) about the holidays? I absolutely love to get surprises for my family. I really work hard to get special things for everyone. Then I have such a hard time waiting until Christmas day to let them have them!
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Peppermint ice cream!
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Putting up the Christmas tree.
17. What tops your tree? Nothing this year. I need to replace our angel.
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I'm going to be honest and say BOTH! I'd be lying if I said I don't like to get presents. :)
19. What is your favorite Christmas song? White Christmas by Bing Crosby and Silent Night in Gaelic by Enya.
20. What is your favorite holiday book? A Christmas Carol by Dickens.
21. Candy canes yuck or yum? They're ok....not yuck, but not yum either.
22. What's number one on your Christmas list this year? A sewing machine. I'm getting a rainchceck from hubby, but he will get me one soon!

Friday, December 22, 2006

January Colorswap Survey

I joined a new colorswap exchange this month! Ranee is my partner, and I'm having fun planning her January Box. For January, we are swapping metallic/sparkly yarns! :) Bling, Bling!

Here's my survey for the exchange:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you? I love to work with natural fibers (wool, mohair, etc), but I also use a lot of acrylic and cotton. I'm not really a yarn snob.....I prefer nicer yarns, but I don't have to use high end yarns. And I have a mix of both natural, acrylic, and blends in my yarn stash.

2. Do you spin? Crochet? I would love to learn how to spin, but it's not something I can teach myself (like I did with knitting and crochet), and I haven't had time to take a class yet. I do crochet. I crocheted for 15 years before I learned how to knit.

3. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? I love to paint metal miniatures, although I've been hard pressed to find the time for it lately.

4. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? Worsted wools like Cascade or Lamb's Pride are great. Fuzzy mohair yarns with a bit of sparkle like Trendsetter Dune. And lace weight wool blends in pretty colors. :) Boucles and cotton worsted are wonderful too. :)

5. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Plasticy overly-bulky acrylics like the Pop'n yarn walmart used to sell -- just too rough and stiff to knit with! Boa or eyelash yarn isn't my favorite, but I don't hate it. And I have scads of Fun Fur in my stash with no idea what to do with don't really care for Furry yarns either. ;)

6. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? I want to get into lace knitting SO bad....I have patterns and the yarn......just need to get some unfinished projects done so I can start some new ones!

7. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Scarves, socks, kitchen stuff like dishcloths and potholders. And, after I've lost weight, I want to start making myself sweaters!! :)

8. What are you knitting right now? A cable aran sweater vest for my MIL. A scarf for myself using a strand of purple Cascade along with a strand of purple/olive varigated Trendsetter Dune. Just love it so far! :)

9. Are you a sock knitter? Yes! I adore sock yarn!!! But I can't stand 100% acrylic sock's just too hot on my feet. I prefer blends, or wool sock yarn. :)

10. What's your favorite color? I like jewel tones, or autumn colors, especially ocean or teal blue. Also love purple. :O) The only color I don't like is light pink. Fuschia is great though.

11. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, there is a link to my Amazon list in the left hand margin of my blog.

12. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.) My teenage son and I are VERY allergic to cigarette smoke. It makes us ill. Please, if you smoke, air out the yarn or spray with Febreeze and put it in plastic bags before shipping. Thanks! :)

13. Do you have any religious prohibitions or restrictions? I don't have any restrictions/requests. But, please NO Jehovah's Witness or Mormon pamphlets. Other than that, no worries.

14. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Patchouli or Cinnamon. :) Please no floral scents. They make me sneeze and give me a headache. Lavendar is ok though .... that one doesn't bother me. Strange, eh?

15. Do you burn candles? Yes! All the time! And we use incense, too.

16. Do you have a sweet or salt tooth? I am on a strict diet, so please no snacky foods or candy. I do allow myself a cup of cocoa in the evenings, or flavored coffee though.

17. Do you drink coffee, tea or cocoa? Yes, I do. :)

18. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I am married. 1 husband (ha ha), 2 is 16 and the other is 2 years old. We have one dog...a pomeranian/Jack Russell Mix named Buddy. And 5 cats -- Fooful, Frenchie, Grover, Elmo and Kato.

19. What are some of your favorite things? I love yarn, knitting patterns and anything crafty. :) I enjoy reading and have lots of books. I also enjoy board and card games. And I love talking/socializing with friends.

20. Is there anything that you collect? Interesting glass items, farm animal magnets and items for my kitchen. Hello Kitty stuff.

21. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween (fall/harvest) are my favorite holidays. I enjoy decorating and having friends over for both!

I'm sending to Ranee in the exchange, and I'm receiving from Karla! This is going to be fun gals!!


Down to the Wire

Well, I successfully joined the shoulder seams on the cable sweater this morning. It was the first time I used the 3-needle bind off. I like the look....much neater than a sewn seam. At first, it seemed a bit awkward, but it got easier as I went along.

I'm a little unsure if I did everything correctly. I had 16 active stitches on the front and back of each shoulder. So when I lined up the stitches to do the 3-needle bind off, I had active working yarn on both sides. I used the yarn from the back needle to do the bind off, and cut off the working yarn from the front needle with a 6" tail to work in. Is that what you're supposed to do with it??? All the example photos I could find of 3-needle bind off only showed one working yarn, but if you're binding off active stitches from both shoulders, each has active working yarn, not just one side. Was I right to cut the other one off??

I'm a self-taught sometimes I have to ask strange questions. :) This is my first sweater project, so it's been trial by fire. So far so good. **Crossing fingers** Hopefully all goes well and I don't have any problems with the finishing work.

Glad to be one step closer to finishing up this project. My MIL came over to try it on for me. Looks to be the perfect size. One less thing to worry about! So far so good. Now I just have the front bands, armhole bands and pockets to make. I'm going to get busy on those tonight. Maybe I can get it completed by Christmas. I'm not going to hurry, but it sure is nice to see the end approaching. :)

Here's a view of the front:

Almost done!!! :)


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Almost finished!!

Ever had a project that you just got sick of working on?

My first cable sweater has been on the needles for more than a year. The neverending The pattern isn't difficult. I just got tired of doing the same rows over and over and over again and the poor thing got put on the back burner for months.

On the upside, I did get LOTS of practice with front and back cables, and front and back twists. I love the honeycomb effect of the twists. I have an idea for an aran scarf forming in my head while I'm finishing up this sweater. I think I'll have 3 skeins of the yarn left over -- I might just have to get started on that idea once this sweater is all done.

Making great progress now though! The end is in sight!

Last night I did the armhole decreases for the back panel. Just a few more row repeats and I can do the BO and decreases for the neck.

Then I'll just have the finishing touches -- blocking, front bands for buttons and buttonholes, armbands to finish up armholes, two pockets, and, of course, seams.

I didn't use fancy yarn for my first cable project. It's for my MIL, and I didn't want to make her anything that came with complicated washing instructions. Plus, I didn't want to make a huge investment in yarn in case it turned out badly (great confidence in my knitting skills, eh? lol). I used Bernat Berella 4. It's acrylic and not expensive, but it's been great to work with. It's not stiff or plasticy, and the sweater isn't overly bulky or heavy. I will tell my MIL to wash the sweater separately on delicate, and to air dry.

I know I won't have it done by Christmas, but at least I can tell her that it will be done soon. :) She's been patiently waiting for a long time!

Is this when I should start worrying that it won't fit??? LOL

Sunday, December 10, 2006

That Darn Cat!!

Well, the annual Cat Wars with the Christmas tree has already begun in earnest. I can tell I'm going to have to get a spray bottle and squirt water on at least one of our furry babies this season. Kato just can't keep his paws off the tree. And no matter how innocent he tries to look, I have the pictures to prove it!

After you knock the branch off the tree, any good cat knows that you have to give it a good bite, and make sure it's dead....

And then you're free to chew on it at your leisure.....

Someone furry is on his way towards a spanked bottom. lol.

Gee, what's he gonna do when there are actually decorations on the tree???

Sigh. DC!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gearing up for the holidays here. I finally got around to having the boxes of holiday decorations brought inside from the shed. The livingroom looks like a box and crate store exploded.

The Christmas tree has been assembled. And, I have decided that this will be the last Christmas for our fake tree. It's been through a lot. First the plastic base broke and we had to make it fit in a stand meant for a real tree. And then 2 years ago, the boys accidentally snapped off the bottom of the pole while assembling it. So, it's a good foot shorter than it used to be, and there's a big wad of duct tape at the bottom to make it still fit into a tree stand. It leans slightly to the left, and every year it looks more like a bottle brush and less like a tree.

So......this is it's last huzzah.

I'm going to wait until the holiday stuff goes on sale at all the stores and buy us a nice new tree for next year.

And since I'm replacing the tree, it's time to take ornament inventory as well. I have TONS of Christmas decorations. I love the holiday season, and I inheirited lots of old decorations from my parents when they downsized their holiday collection. I love them all -- such wonderful memories. But.....they're looking a bit worse for wear. Which is understandable some are 50 years old or more.

So, I have decided that I'm going to weed out the decorations that are beyond repair and throw them away, after taking off any recyclable bits. And, the ones that are just a bit worn or tarnished looking, I'm going to repair and refurbish to be used on our new tree next year. That ought to keep my creative side going for a few months. :)

And I'm going to tackle a project I've been putting off for a long time. I have a box of antique glass tinsel ornaments that my grandfather's family brought from Germany in the early 1900's. They are absolutely gorgeous -- but in dire need of repair and cleaning. This year is the year. I bought the supplies needed to clean and restring them.

Not only will that make our holiday decorations special and beautiful, but it will also meld my family traditions and my husband's together. :) I look forward to it!

On the knitting front, I got two new knitting books! I finally got my copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting, and ordered a copy of Scarves and Shawls for Yarn Lovers.

I have yet to start anything from MDK -- I'm still reading through it to decide what to make! :) Scarves and Shawls really isn't anything new pattern-wise. The patterns in the book are very simple. It's more about mixing yarns for certain effects. I'm making a scarf using an idea from the book, and so far I really love the look! :)

This is just a simple garter stitch scarf -- CO 12 with size 15 needles, holding two strands of yarn together, then K across over and over and over again. Yarn choice can really make something simple look special though! I had some purple cascade and two skeins of Trendsetter Dune in Color 85 (purple, olive, lavendar) in my stash. Knit together they are really making a gorgeous slightly sparkly scarf with just a hint of mohair soft fluffiness!

Here's a bit closer:

I really love the 2 yarns together! :)

Onto other things..... I had a great thriftshop find this week! I had a ghost story anthology book for years that I really loved. I reread the stories all the time because it was just such a great collection of well-written and famous stories. After several moves though, the book was either lost, or I gave it away. I never thought I would find it again, as it was a book club edition from way back when I was in middle school. But, lucky day!! I was at the local thrift a few days ago, and lookie what I found!

Not only is it the same book I had, but it's in perfect condition with its dust jacket! :) I am a happy camper!!

And, last but not least.....I have a question for the any tea experts who read my blog. :) I was sent some very nice tea related supplies in an exchange box a couple months ago. But.....can someone tell me what this is for???

I asked my husband what he thought, and he had a rather rude, yet funny, suggestion that had to do with aliens and probes..... I'm thinking maybe it's to clean out the spout of a teapot?? Clueless here! Help!??