Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pillow Talk

Thank you all for your input on my UFO wips this week. It has been really helpful to get others thoughts. Even when you have the same thoughts yourself, it can be so hard to actually make a *gasp* decision!!!

So here's what I've come up with as an answer to the Entrelac pillow question. I'm going to make a stockinette back. Here it is started already (see how quickly these things can be done, once the decision has been made!).
I am even using stash yarn to finish this up. The big ball of brown is Cascade Eco-Wool, leftover from my Noro Blanket, and the Tonalita is obviously leftover from this pillow's front. I'm striping them, 2 rows each, and think there is enough of both to make the whole back, but if not I have this.......
...little ball of silk. The colour kind of works with some of the shades in the Tonalita. I'll use it to make the button-hole bands for the back. The back will be made of two parts (lengths to be determined) and they will fasten with buttons. I like to remove the pillow forms so I can wash the covers.
Here's a closer look at the knitting I've done so far.
We are preparing for our Thanksgiving trip to NYC/CT today - we leave in the morning. Not sure if I'll get to blog on the road, which could upset my 'posting every day' this month. Oh well, we'll see.

Happy Saturday y'all ;0)
disco xo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Harry Potter

Here's some Friday night fun for y'all.

Did you get your copy of the final Harry Potter movie yet? We got it release day and watched it right away - such an awesome movie. One of the things I LOVE about watching the Harry Potter films is seeing the British actors, some of them familiar faces from waaaaaaayyy long ago. I dug up video clips of some oldies, but goodies, for your enjoyment. OK, mainly my enjoyment, but you can join in too :0)

Mark Williams aka Arthur Weasley.
This is a clip from "The Fast Show" which was a HUGE comedy sketch show in the 90's. Added bonus: Johnny Depp. You're welcome ;0)

Dawn French aka The lady in the painting
Here's a classic sketch from Dawn French and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, who you may know from another very popular show.

And last but not least, Emma Thompson aka Sybill Trelawney.
The Young Ones was a classic from the 80's. Aaaaahhhh, the 80's, the best of times.
Added bonus: erm, everyone else in the clip ;0)

Do you recognise any of these shows?
Happy weekend
Disco xo

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WIP - Mission Falls Blanket

Thanks for all your input on the Entrelac pillow yesterday. I think the consensus is a plain stockinette back. That would be my preference too - a bit of easy, mindless knitting and not too much of a yarn investment required. Decision made - phew! :0)
The next UFO, has also been waiting on a decision. I started this blanket (more than) a couple of years ago. It's a log cabin construction, made with Mission Falls cotton. The pic I have up on the Ravelry project page has a couple of positive comments/likes, so I guess it has something about it. And I do still like the colours.
The decision I have to make is whether to invest in more yarn to make it a viable project. The yarn is discontinued, but there is a good amount for sale/trade on Ravelry. I would have to buy 2 or 3 balls of the pale green to balance out the squares themselves, plus a good amount of a contrasting colour (dark gray?) to edge all the squares.
So, wise ones, should I invest in the extra yarn and finish the project? Or frog the whole thing and put the yarn up for sale on Rav?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Entrelac Pillow

Before the end of the month, I hope to post about a few long-term UFOs I have. Usually they are that way, waiting for a decision to be made. Please feel free to give opinions, to try to help with those decisions.

I think it was Stitches West 2009 that I took an Entrelac class with Margaret Fisher. It's one of those techniques that looks fancy and complicated, but with a clear set of instructions is actually a breeze. Isn't it like that with most things in knitting?

So, I came home, found this beautiful Trendsetter Yarns Tonalita yarn and set to making a pillow for our family room couch.
Fast forward more than 2 and a half years, and here we have the pillow, one side completed. Now, my problem is that I have neither the yarn, nor the will to make a second, matching side. So, what to do, what to do?
I searched my fabric stash for something that might work with the greens and browns, and this is the only thing that even comes close. It's a wood grain.
I have no idea how to even begin attaching knitting to fabric. Maybe I should knit a plain back to the pillow, in a complementary colour instead? Chocolate brown?

So, I see the options to choose from as:
1. Bite the bullet - search out more Tonalita and make a matching back. I have some paypal $ to do this, but no time til after Christmas to even start making the back.
2. Machine stitch the fabric to the knitting - possibly shop for different fabric, although I do kind of like the 70's woodgrain.
3. Knit a plain back to the pillow. This option leads to another decision: which yarn/colour.

Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lofty Scarf #2

Here's the second scarf I recently completed in Kollage's Lofty yarn. The pattern is called "Megan's Hiking", again by Kathy Zimmerman. I used the same colour as the Shawl Collared Cowl from this post, a beautiful teal.The pattern has a zig-zaggy cable up the middle......
....and cabled edges. I like this design feature a lot - it doesn't curl like stockinette and is more interesting than garter.
The 3 skeins called for, give a nice long scarf that can be wrapped around the neck a couple of times - super warm. And pretty, huh? :0)
disco xo

Monday, November 14, 2011

BeeKeeper's Update

Here's where we're at today. 19 "flowers" completed. I had to stop making the 'petals' and make some more colourful centres. It made a nice change to not be knitting yellow or grey. Not that I'm getting bored with the colour-scheme. I still heart it ;0)I've been contemplating how to arrange the two colours. Here they are striped - one row of yellow, one row of grey. What do you think of that arrangement? I think I need a lot more flowers before I'll be able to tell.
Some highlights of this past week or so's hexes are: these four, made with the Miss Babs Yummy Toes I showed you here;
and, these two made with Socks That Rock lightweight. Left is Hoofle Foofle and right is Festival of Lights.
Disco xo

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Boys' Current Favourite Song

I kid you not, the boys ask for this every time we get in the car.

Deserves a quiet Sunday night.
disco xo

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Little Love Affair

I have been having a little love affair this summer. With a guy called Erik Larson.

It started with his book "The Devil in the White City", a thrilling tale of construction, murder and deadlines in almost-turn-of-the-(19th)-century Chicago. Two stories run parallel - one chapter tells of a psychotic con-man who builds a deadly hotel. The following chapter will tell the trials and tribulations of construction of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. The murder story will creep you out - truly chilling evil, while the story of the building of the fair will entertain and inform you. You'll learn about new products introduced at the fair, some of which we still use today. One of the high-lights of the fair was the first ever Ferris Wheel. I could not put this book down, as they say, and got that sad feeling when you finish a book you've enjoyed.

I immediately bought another of his books "Isaac's Storm". The chronicle of the deadly hurricane which deluged and almost destroyed the town of Galveston, Texas in 1900. Isaac was the local weatherman, he's one story. The other story is the hurricane. When the two stories meet, the trouble starts. In this book, the author builds tension by describing how a storm starts and develops. He then goes on to describe warning signs for this big storm and how they were ignored, with deadly consequences. The descriptions of the storm hitting Galveston are incredible, sad and will keep you turning page after page.

The third of his books I read was "In The Garden of Beasts". This is the story of the American Ambassador to Germany, during the years leading up to WWII. Again, two stories intertwine - sensing a theme yet?. The story of the ambassador and his family and the story of the rise of Hitler's power. Again, an interesting read - we all know the subject matter, but the author shows us a smaller story, within that much bigger part of history.

The last book to be read was "Thunderstruck", finished in a fit of insomnia this morning. It should have been another quick read for me with two interesting subjects: Marconi "inventing" wireless communication, and Dr Crippen's murder of his wife. Marconi's invention helped in the pursuit and capture of Crippen. The book did seem to drag. There was a lot of, too much, discussion of Marconi's experiments - many of which were the same. However, a good bit of the action is set in London, in many streets and places I know - they even dine at a restaurant I've eaten in myself! So it wasn't a total bore. Altogether, I'm glad I read it.

So, I am done with Erik. I know he's working on a new book and wonder what his next 2 subjects will be. I'll be reading them, whatever.

Next up, Suzanne Collins and her Hunger Games.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The winds of change

We have these trees throughout our neighbourhood and I take delight in them every day of fall. They have a deep colour that ranges from peach to scarlet, depending on the light. Sadly, they are mostly on the ground, after yesterday's rain. But change must happen, and look what comes next....This morning, I noticed these beauties, popped out just in time to replace the fall tree leaves. Can't you almost taste Christmas? :0)
In other news, I just bought this dress, in honour of Wovember. Boiled wool - and not an online exclusive, I got it in the mall. It is the coolest thing I've bought in forever, it fits great (all that running may be paying off after all) and I'm excited to wear it soon. Perhaps on our Thanksgiving trip to NYC - only 9 days til we leave :0)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I-Cord Friendship Bracelets

I wonder if the "Treasure Box" is a peculiarity to the South Carolina elementary school system, or is used country/world-wide. My boys' classrooms both have these reward systems, which I would call an excellent concept, were they not filled with plastic rhinoceros, sticky balls and party bag slinkies. All destined to go in the junk box half an hour after arriving home.

In an effort to reduce said plastic-tat consumption, I made a ton of i-cord friendship bracelets. Hopefully they have a better chance of actually being used, and will disintegrate into the landfill they'll ultimately occupy, a couple of hundred years before their plastic compadres.

To make, you will need:
  • kitchen cotton yarn - the funkier the colours the better
  • 2.25mm dpns, or size to suit your yarn - I found this size gave a nice tight fabric.
  • 2.25mm crochet hook, or size to suit your yarn
  • a button
  • a darning needle
  • a small person to model

  • Cast on 3 stitches.
    Make i-cord until it fits around your small person's wrist.
    Cast off til you have only 1 stitch left on your needle.

    From that 1 stitch, chain 8 stitches with crochet hook. Cut yarn & secure through last stitch.
    Secure the crochet chain to the main bracelet, to form a loop.

    Using the cast on tail, sew a button onto the cast on edge.
    Darn in tails. After securing with a couple of stitches, you can hide the ends inside the i-cord tube.
    Make more.
    Send to school.

    Here's a bunch I made. They were well received by both kids and teachers.
    Disco xo

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Busy Day Chili

    It's a super-busy day for me here, and I'm looking forward to 6 o'clock when I can drive down to Charlotte for a solo dinner and knit night.

    I had to rustle up a veggie chili this morning - we have a teacher appreciation luncheon each month where parents supply the food. This is my version:
    The dish consists of the following ingredients:
    FRESH: onion, mushrooms, carrots, garlic;
    FROZEN: pepper strips, peas;
    CANNED: chopped tomatoes (2 large cans), red kidney beans, pinto beans, corn.
    And of course chili powder and a little olive oil. I swear I could eat this dish for lunch and dinner every day for a week.

    What extra things do you put in your veggie chili that I'm missing out on?

    Disco xo

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Swatching! Lessons Learned

    I'm swatching for Kirsten Kapur's Wood Hollow Vest. I don't usually swatch. Most of the things I make are small - socks, hats, scarves. Accessories, as it were. They are so small, they are almost swatches in themselves. Either gauge doesn't matter, or if they don't fit you, they become gifts :0)
    But when you make actual garments. That have to fit your body. That's a whole lot of time investment to get gauge wrong. So swatch we must. Here are a few of the things I learned from my swatch.

    1. I learned to read the pattern. Not just the written pattern, but the actual pattern in the fabric I was creating. I can tell just by looking at the fabric in the few rows before, which direction my next cable is going to travel. This means less time reading the written pattern.
    I already knew how to read stitches, but this swatch was like a practice session for these particular cables/travelling stitches. When I cast on, I'll be hitting the floor running.
    2. Having multiple, superfluous charts on a page is a distraction. Some patterns you can cut & paste on your computer. But not this one. So, I cut out the necessary charts and taped them to a clean sheet of paper. Crude, but it works. I now won't look at the "Large" chart, instead of the "Medium" chart and waste 30 minutes tinking back and trying to work out why my stitch count doesn't work. Again!
    3. Spreadsheet the chart row numbers. This pattern has 3 different cable charts. None of which are numbered the same. So while I'm knitting row 16 of chart 1, I'm knitting row 4 of chart 2 (for the 4th time) and row 8 of chart 3 (for the 2nd time). Who can keep that straight in their head? Not me, so the spreadsheet was the answer.

    4. I've really got to tighten up my transition between knit and purl stitches. There are ladders between these stitches, where the yarn is very loose. I came across this phenomenon when I was researching the TKGA Masters I did a couple of years ago, so this is no surprise. See the stitches on the right of this photo? Slightly bigger/looser than the stitches to their left.

    5. Use small stitch markers. I think this one may have contributed to at least one of #4's ladders.

    6. Washing and blocking really can help you achieve gauge. Before I washed this sucker, it was approx. a whole inch off the width for the stitch count. After washing, I blocked it out to the size I needed it to be to match that magic stitch count. I saw that the fabric stretched out and the stitches lost none of their integrity - still just as pretty, and the fabric is nice and drapy.

    So, to cast on this evening. Wish me luck on this journey - I hope I remember to alternate balls of yarn!
    Disco xo

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Lofty Scarf #1

    I'm catching up on my FO's here. This little beauty is called Twist of Fate by Kathy Zimmermann. Love the ridges and the twisted stitches. They take a bit of manual dexterity, but are satisfyingly quick to perform. The scarf blocked out nicely, with no curling edges (don't you hate when a scarf curls?!).It works up super-quickly in the bulky Kollage Lofty yarn I used. This colour is called Tawny and is a neutral beige, perfect for pairing with all sorts of other colours.
    I could see this pattern making a great infinity scarf too, although the bulky yarn would make it suitable to, maybe Alaska only. In a lighter weight it'd be pretty as a picture though :0)
    Happy Monday y'all.
    Disco xo

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Stocking Stuffers?

    We're big fans of the crayons in this family. So I may just wander out and get some of these for Christmas...

    Is it really Sunday night already?
    disco xo

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Fitness 2011

    I posted in September about the (super-sprint) triathlon I'd completed. Well, I've also been working on other fitness issues this year.

    I joined my boys at TaeKwonDo class and have been loving it. On Friday night, all three of us tested for our 'green' belt, that's the 4th belt. Here's a wee video of me breaking the wood at the end of the test with a "sliding side kick".

    Full disclosure: I did edit out the first 3 kicks which saw me breaking more of the instructor's fingers than the wood. I tried to upload a video of the boys' kicks, but their video file wouldn't play, sorry. They are infinitely more amusing :0) I may try facebooking that video later.

    No rest for the wicked, this morning I was up an at 'em, running a 5k in one of our more hilly neighbourhoods. Boy, was that a difficult course. Those golf cart paths almost killed me. I had to walk a bit, but still made a great (for me) time of 35m 20s and came in 79th out of 105.
    When I posted about the triathlon, Bezzie had asked where I found the time to train. Well, I am a SAHM, so that's a good bit of the day to train in. During the school year.

    I actually started training though, during the summer when the boys were out of school. I would get up super early (a benefit of my sometime insomnia) and go run then. The weather was cooler and the boys were either still asleep, or they are generally capable of amusing themselves now. Anyway, I'm not the only adult in the house capable of occupying the boys for 40 minutes.

    Hope y'all have at least gone for a stroll on this beautiful Saturday.
    disco xo

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    One lump or two?

    All through this year, I've been reading about the controversy of whether to use one space or two after a full stop, or 'period', as it's called here in the US (a UK 'period' is a much crampier affair). I'm firmly in the two space camp. 'Cause that's what we were taught in typing class at school. So it MUST be right. Right?

    Well today, I was listening to NPR - my new favourite radio station - and heard them refer to their facebook discussion on the subject. I hopped on over straight away, always eager to hear a discussion on the subject. That led me to a link to the NPR website (so much clicking, people!) where Farhad Manjoo, a writer for Slate magazine, and a person who seemed pretty reasonable, gave the following argument:

    "Two spaces is wrong. ... The reason two spaces were put into practice was because of the manual typewriter. And there was a type of font on the manual typewriter called 'monospace font,' which means the space between every letter was the same, and the width of every letter was the same. So in that type of font, it looked slightly more readable to have two spaces between sentences than it did to have one space. But when we switched to computers, we went back to using the kinds of fonts called proportional fonts. With proportional fonts, every letter has a different width that corresponds to what it is used for. Because every letter has a different width, the space after a period has its appropriate width when you use just one [space after a period]. So that's how many you use. ... The two-space rule is really a holdover from typewriters. The reason you were taught it in school was because your teachers learned to type on typewriters, but we no longer type on typewriters."

    Although the first statement made me feel defensive right away, his argument for one space is so reasonably explained, that it's almost undeniable. So here you have it, a blogpost with single spaces. Enjoy!

    What's your stance on this subject?

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Manly Virginia

    Today I give you..... the Virginia Cowl. Only this one is not so much cowl, as short scarf with button fastening. As soon as I saw the pattern, I wanted to make it, but those chunky cables spoke to me of man, not woman.

    I had some perfect yarn in the stash, that I'd been meaning to make my husband a scarf with, so that was an easy choice. Mirasol Ushya is a chunky yarn that's plied with what looks like a crochet chain. It's a pretty cool construction, that I've never seen before - it makes the strand thick, but airy.
    The buttons are another SAFF find. Very manly, eh!And here he is in all his wooly, manly, buttony glory. Should keep my husband warm this winter :0)This was a nice easy pattern to follow. Garter stitch and cables. You can't go wrong. Well, you could, but that's another story, right.
    I'm loving this rash of blog-posting everyone's doing for NaBloPoMo. It's so good to catch up with all the incidentals people post during this time.

    Happy Day 3.
    Disco xo

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Shawl Collar Cowl

    Here's a little neckwarmer I couldn't resist. The Shawl Collar Cowl is a pattern from Never Not Knitting. It's a cowl, it's a scarf, it's a collar. All knit in cozy Kollage Lofty.

    Mmmm, squishy garter stitch shawl collar.
    I picked out the buttons at SAFF. They were made by Carol Parsons of Original ArtWorx. This was a quick project and took just over a skein of the bulky yarn to complete - stashbusting for Christmas gifts, anyone? The pattern was pretty easy to follow - the shawl collar is made with short rows. The body of the 'cowl' is subtly ribbed.
    Happy Wednesday, peeps

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Brooks Farm Yarn - Trio

    For your delectation and delight, here is some more of the prettiness I picked up at SAFF a couple of weekends ago. These beauties are Brooks Farm Yarns Trio, a worsted weight blend of wool (70%), baby alpaca (20%) and silk (10%). The skein is a generous 420yds.The yarn is wonderful to work with, very soft, springy and smooth.I'm making it up into a granny square pillow for the grellow room. This will likely be my first FO for that project. I love how the crochet goes so quick :0)
    And here's a quickie of my cuties in their 2011 halloween costumes. Getting their transatlantic on as "Big Ben" and the Empire State building. .
    This may be our last year making our own costumes. Matthew fell, knocked the top off his Empire and declared "Next year, Mommy, I want to be a ninja. That's much easier."
    Amen to that, Matt!