The View from Cloud Nine

She Likes Ingrid!
I received these sweet pictures from my stepsister yesterday, showing Leonie with her new Ingrid dolly. Apparently, Onie decided right away that Ingrid needed a mommy doll and chose her Po Teletubby for the job.

You know how comedians and actors always talk about the high from being applauded and appreciated? Well, when something I've knitted "works," I am on Cloud Nine.

BTW, is not my niece one of the cutest little kids you've ever seen? 8^)

Better-than-Ribbing Scarf

And a run-down of Christmas gifts I couldn't post here until now.

Now that Christmas has passed, I'm finishing a scarf out of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran and am really pleased with the pattern I came up with. It's essentially a garter stitch with stockinette running up it in narrow strips.

>Better-than-Ribbing Scarf

Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran, 3 skeins

Cast on 25 stitches.

Row 1 (RS): Knit across.

Row 2: K 4 , Purl 1, PM. **P 1, K3, P 1, PM** Repeat between ** two more times. P 1, K 4.

Row 3: Knit across.

Row 4: Knit straight, to one stitch before and after each marker, both of which should be purled. Everything else is knitted.

This sets up a pattern that looks like wide ribbing, except more interesting. Repeat rows 3 and 4 for the rest of the scarf, and then bind off and weave in ends. Wet or steam block, allow to dry, wear (or gift) happily.

This scarf is for DD#1's novio's madre, as DD is headed tomorrow to Chiapas to spend the rest of her break with her beloved and his family.

I made this little hat for Baby Colletti , not as a Christmas gift (he's not due until 1/12/09), but because his daddy's family is quite proud of their Italian heritage. Our school social organization, called "Sunshine," held a baby shower for Monica and Chris just before the vacation, and I knitted this as part of the school gift. (If you are looking for some kickass baby shower gifts that are NOT knitted, check out the etsy merchant, iSew, where I got the bibs that rounded out the gift.)

Here is another smaller hat that I've not actually given his parents yet for him to wear, out of KnitPicks sockweight yarn. I'm getting pretty good at knitting using the Magic Loop method for small things--a great skill for all sorts of reasons!as well as a hat for Big Brother Max, almost matching. Max's is Cashsoft Aran in three colors that I think belong together. I have said before that I LOVE Cashsoft as it is so non-itchy and, well, soft. I think nothing should be worn around ears, necks, and faces that might be itchy. As for the elongated hat, think 2x2 ribbing and the natural stretch it gives. Max does not have a cone head!

And Super Secret Project #2 has been finished and gifted to DS for Christmas--it's a wrap/scarf in Rowan Soft Tweed. It's Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf, easy as pie, and though the color values are too peachy here, and it's more like its color (Bramble), I was really happy with the way it came out, and with DS's pleasure on receiving it.

Here is a little pouch I knitted and felted for my young friend Adele. I experimented with different ways to make the strap, and the best one was two strands of brown and one of beige, braided the old fashioned way, knotted at both ends, and felted. Then I attached the ends to the inside of the purse. I put a few surprises inside it for her. I have that tendency! Here is the hat I knitted last summer and gifted to Adele's DS Luisa, after sewing on some fancy buttons.

And here is a scarf I've worked on here and there for about a month--it's easy, soft, and my favorite color. I think it will be mine. ;^)

Meet Ingrid the Doll

I have been knitting my hands in knots, but I've not gotten anything posted. Here goes!

First, let me introduce you to Ingrid, a "dwarf" from the Waldorf knitted toys collection. The instruction booklet is not available anymore, as far as I can tell, but similar ones are online. Ingrid was fun to make and addicting to accessorize. Here is her knapsack (with a note inside it for introductions when she is received).

I'm especially proud of her hair, which I did in Fur Real Silver Fox. She is a gift for my 3-year-old niece, Leonie, may she love her well. It was actually hard to put her in the box for mailing (Express Mail, yes, I'm right up to the wire, ain't I?) as my inner child wants to keep her and hug her.

But it was also a great experience to embark on because I found that this doll pattern wasn't that hard. I could have done a better job on things, but I still think it came out well. 8^) Here are a few more pics.

Ingrid's ID tag in case she is lost 8^(
and another shot of her in her adorableness:

Can't really say why "Ingrid," but as I was putting the finishing touches on her last night, while crafting with DD#1 (bliss!), I was thinking "Hester," but DD#1 protested that it sounded like Hester Prynne of Scarlet Letter infamy. Not that I think that's a reason to dislike the name, as I love Hester as the protagonist of that novel. But then DD suggested "Ingrid," after I asked her for something Scandinavian sounding, since I think of dwarfs, trolls, and the like as being from that neck of the woods, and she came up with Ingrid.

That ain't the half of it, though. I knitted up a cap for my bro-in-law from lovely Malabrigo that never got photographed, since I made it in a few hours, popped it into the mailing carton, and sent it northward. Maybe DS will take a photo of him in it when he opens it.

I've also done a bunch of other small things this month, but I'll have to catch up later. Friends coming to visit. It's the holidays! Hope you are all enjoying yours, whatever you celebrate.

That Ripping Sound You Heard

was me tearing out both of the sleeves on the Quidditch Sweater, which I was expecting to assemble and finish this weekend. When I laid it all out and did a quick check, I discovered that the sleeves were not wide enough at their widest point, not just by an inch or so (which the 2x2 ribbing would have "forgiven") but by . . . more than a couple. So then it was pick out the cast-off edge and rrrrrrrip, roll it back into a ball, and repeat with second sleeve.

Sorry DD#2. :^( My best guess now is Christmastime. I've got too many things to finish for school for the rest of today to even get started on it. But I will work on it in the coming weeks--one sleeve at a time, methinks. Even though there are great reasons to do both at the same time, I want to focus totally on what I'm doing and not have to fight the tangling separate skeins. No one can say I don't learn from my mistakes.

I've been working on a few other things that I'll show ya--
A 99 yd. skein of handspun becomes a neckwarmer--originally got this from Yarn Rescue. So pretty.

Here's a skinny scarf I'm doing in 1x1 ribbing with a skein of Colinette Cadenza that I got awhile back somewheres. It is so dang soft that I can hardly believe it's merino wool. Superwash too, if that turns out to matter to the recipient.

I can't get the color values right on this one--think watermelon, in a tweedy melange. This is Rowan Soft Tweed in Bramble. I used Yarn Harlot's One Row pattern and it's just so squishy. Sort of looks like a pink waffle from a distance! It's not long but widish, so that the recipient can wear it like a bit more of a wrap.

Here is the beginning of a dwarf--can you see the future red and white striped stocking cap? and a brown fuzzy beard? He will also end up with boots and arms if you were worried.

And here is the latest in stitch marker serendipity. These are sometimes on clothes nowadays, to pin the manufacturer's tag to the label. I started to collect them, as they open just like a pin does and can be used for marking right side or as stitch markers. They are about an inch in length. Cool, no?

In other yarn news, I bought two skeins of laceweight cashmere about three years ago from someone on eBay, to put away and use when I was a better knitter. What I didn't realize was that I was going to need to be a better general-all-around-person because I have been so frustrated. I was trying to knit with them, held together, skeins kept separate, but they were previously wound when I received them and I think something went amiss in the winding because tangletangletangle is the name of the very frustrating game. I have resorted to breaking the yarn at a few moments but mostly am just trying to persevere to the point where I have one ball wound with both strands. One of the skeins would happily let me finish out this process in ten minutes, but the other is a devil. I have thought of giving up more than once, but if I just come back to it when I have a little time, it is actually coming untangled. And I am becoming a better general all around person. ;^)

Now my plan is, when I get the #%?!* yarn rewound properly, to hold it with another yarn yet again and knit with them together, since the laceweight x 2 still doesn't do it for me. While I love the softness of cashmere, I think it needs to be married to something equally soft and almost as thin, so that it can be interesting to look at as well as soft.

In Hummingbird News . . . a few have come around this past week, when it's not raining, and I've seen at least two females and one male. No pics this time though.

In Cancer News . . . DH is traveling for work in the Far East, and he has his first post-chemo scans 12/15 or so. So we are doing our lives and focusing on what needs to be taken care of now, and will find out the status of his tumor growth when the time comes.

Happy knitting, all.

The Past Few Weeks

So I've been thrilled by Obama's election to the presidency. Someone made this last summer--a gorgeous scarf. Ain't it purty!Waa-hoo! What will it be like to have a president with an intellectual edge? I can hardly wait.

I've been watchin' the hummers watchin' me.

Knitting up Paco's scarf to keep him warm if he needs it.
Visiting Sonoma with our friends Greg and Connie on a weekend that couldn't possibly have come in the middle of November.
Autumn sure looks picturesque here in NorCal. We were at a Wild Pig party at the Michel-Schlumberger winery. The pork was OK, but the 2007 wild zin was even bettah.

As for the rest of my life, yesterday it was a baby shower for BFF Monica, who seemed to like the baby blanket ;^) (you can't tell it but she's going to have a little hatchling about Jan. 12):Work has involved a personnel crisis (now) resolved, always papers to grade, classes that go well, exams on which the students don't do as well as I thought they would, classes when we discuss a poem that kids "get" right away, meetings and more meetings, and one meeting or conversation after another with department members or administrators.

Fortunately there's time in the evening to watch John Adams with DH.

Am I knitting? Well, yeah, if it doesn't require my close attention. I'm making a "Bristol" a la Miss Woollyknits (thanks for the great idea!) with a skein of handspun that I got a while back from Lynnette at Yarn Rescue. Using the--get this--MISTAKEN RIB STITCH for the neckwarmer. I am nothing if not predickable.

More to come including pictures.

And thank you to those who have emailed me about the Santa Barbara fires, which are a few hours south of us, well beyond our region. The autumn always brings a spate of dry winds making the tinder go up in flames down south--blame Santa Ana winds. Here, in the SF Bay Area, we are all safe--at least until the Big One hits. ;^)

Happy knitting.

Not Nonpartisan Today

Please vote today. I like this candidate, but regardless, please vote. It's the gift of being a citizen in a democracy that you can have your say. Not using it is such a waste.

Reminds me of Mark Twain: "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." Same goes for political freedom.

All the Live-Long Day

"I've been working on a blanket just to pass the time away," which is of course typically avoidant behavior since I have work to do. And really that "working" was all done yesterday. Now I'm just blogging about this project, and after that I'll go back to working on teacher goals and student comments. NOTE: I doubt that you are reading this blog, BFF Monica, but if you are, stop right there. Go find something else to do. You have plenty on your plate, I know, since your play performs this week. ;^)


Ahem . . .
So my BFF Monica is expecting in January and I've been knitting on a blankie for the little guy (ultrasounds usually don't lie in this direction!). I've now got the blanket backed with polar fleece and sewn buttons on the PF side so that it will be nice and anchored when I sew the binding edge on. I also read up on doing this cleverly and found that many quilters/blanket backers glue the edges together before sewing the binding, so that it will not pucker or gather up weirdly. So I did that too. Now it's dry and I've trimmed the PF edge a bit so I can get around corners well. Last step will be to sew the sucker up. No, I forgot, the last step will be to wash it gently--I found a smudge on the ivory polar fleece after I'd already cut and pinned it, daggone it.

I hear the nursery is being done in a blue/brown combo, so this yellow/ivory blanket will not clash. The knitted side is one of those unbelievably soft boucle baby yarns, just done up in garter stitch since the lumpy bumpiness of the boucle doesn't lend itself to stitch definition. Here's a few pics of the process so far:

Knit mindlessly whenever there's time over several weeks. I don't know how many stitches I cast on or what size needles I used. Maybe 8s.

Cut polar fleece to match, pin down, and sew buttons to the polar fleece side. I chose matching ivory buttons, but that's just one way to go. I was proud of my ability to cut to measure, to fit it all together, and to measure for button placement, remeasure as I sewed, sew randomly from one end to the other so that it would be unlikely to pucker or pull, and then to trim a bit here and there for the final measurements.

I know--you can't see the smudge. But it's there and it's bugging me. Maybe I'll just spot clean it.

Then glue edges of the two blanket layers together and weight down to keep anything from moving around or shrinking up. The glue I used instructed the placement of aluminum foil along the glue edge but it was totally unnecessary.

Looks like a pale quesadilla, no? yum!

I'll post pics of the finished blanket, as well as the sleeves I continue to work on here and there. These require utmost attention because I am decreasing for the shoulder fit and don't want to get off the pattern. So . . . Singing Daughter, I know October has passed and we're into November now. I hope it will be done by Thanksgiving!

As promised . . . the finished blanket. Ahhh!

Stash Angels in Michigan

Live and learn . . . it's going to have to be my mantra for knitting. I was so close to finished with Singing Daughter's Quidditch sweater and then--wow, that's not much yarn left in the knitting bag--uh-oh, guess I'd better scramble.

Ravelry saved my bacon because I found nothing on eBay. First, the aptly named Hope in Michigan came through with a skein of the lovely shade of blue, called cerulean. Then I located two skeins of the chestnut with the right dyelot in the stash of Tina in . . . Michigan! Tina was willing to sell them to me as well. (Wow, I love that state! Even visited it a few times as a child.)

Both Hope and Tina were more than kind and happily mailed them (in Hope's case, before my check even arrived--nice to be trusted) priority shipping so I could get back to the project ASAP.

Tina's recent blogpost on why she always over-purchases for a project really hit home, in addition to the natural-consequences-type learning that resulted from my running out of yarn because I didn't do that.

Meantime, I knitted on several ongoing projects, including Super Secret Project #2,

[sorry, no photos of this super secret project!]

and a scarf I am making for World Saving Daughter's fiance, Paco. This is Bazic wool in two tones, and I just love the way they look together. Pattern is mistaken rib, one of my favorites!

I have also worked on one of my easy drop stitch scarves a bit.

This is probably the only shot I'll put up of Super Secret Project #3, which Kathy kindly helped me drum up the confidence for, as well as getting started with a simple pattern and the Magic Loop method. Nothing like a guide on the new path.

I will admit that I did all this knitting and yarn searching when I should have been grading papers. Sigh . . .

That is, when I wasn't taking photos of the hummingbirds that are now regular visitors to our feeder. That is an addictive pastime--just one more--this will be the shot of the century--etc.

Structured procrastination is supposed to be an admirable trait, one that is usually under appreciated. Time to stop with that technique, though, so I can hold my head up high.

Happy Knitting, all!

A Fun, Funny Mockumentary

Go here to watch a youtube mockumentary about "Wooly Bullies," the elitist attitudes of knitters, and the pain and alienation of the poor black sheep crocheter.

Thanks, cosymakes, for introducing me to this.

Yes, yes, still knitting sleeves. Two episodes of Law and Order (the plain vanilla version) last night saw me with another inch or two of sleeviness. Tomorrow is no weekend day at all, though, with our school's day-long "picnic," so I am going to be grading papers today. Sigh. Another longer sigh. Ah well, that's what summers are for!

Another Way to Get on Mom's Good Side

DD#2, one of the two knitters in my brood, just asked me to send her, ASAP, her knitting accoutrements, including a partly finished something (scarf? legging?) in gray and hunter green. Naturally I packed it all in a flat rate box, got some other little surprises, and sent it on its speedy way to Boston. She promises me that when she has her gear, she will take pictures of all her FOs. I smell a new convert!!!

This is DD#2 with her new baby, Samosa the Hamster.

There's a rodent on the loose!This afternoon, though it's 80 degrees today, I'll be knitting at the faculty meeting. Ahhhh. I can sit through meetings whether interesting or not (or uneven!) if I have something to knit on.

~Happy knitting, all!

Sleeves and Hummers

Here they are, DD#2, the sleeves are coming along! I am almost at the end of increases so will be able to knit steadily without pattern changes for most of the rest of them. I'm getting to it every day, at least for a little while. I know it's gotten cold in Boston, and I know you have a few other sweaters to wear, so while I'm knitting and finishing, I am pretty sure you won't freeze. 8^)

But something else, my blogging friends, is much more exciting to me today. DH recently indulged my whim and brought home a wrought iron stake/hook and a hummingbird feeder, as I'd seen so effectively employed in the garden outside the dentist's while I had my teeth cleaned. What a perfect way to calm nervous patients!

Now, my history of asking DH to do something in the yard for me is blighted with forgotten tomato plants and basil, the dahlias he put in planters, complete with drip irrigation, which died and didn't come back, and other such abandoned things. I would not have been surprised if he didn't want to carry out this little request, since feeders need frequent replenishing, etc. etc. But my theory about myself is that if I can see it, I maintain it. So we put it in full view of the French doors (with windows on each side as well).

At first it was a little ways out in the yard and to the left, in some landscaping, where we got to watch, if we were patient, hummingbirds coming to feast over and over. They swoop down out of the oak tree nearby, check things out for safety, and then dip into the nectar again and again.

A few days ago DH moved the feeder to just outside the window by the back patio. I was a little worried that too much movement inside might keep the little helicopters away, considering that we are walking past that window all the time (it's right off the kitchen too, lots of walking through). Not to mention the menacing felines which sleep . . .

(that's Kuh-LEo, with paws all folded sweetly under her chin)

. . . and stand . . .

(that's Kermit McDermott, a cat that watches the "movie" going on outside every day, but poses absolutely no threat to any critters, as he and his posse are all indoor-only cats)

. . . right near that window. Nope! I needn't have worried. If you put out nectar, they will come! This little green one, with a brilliant fuchsia throat, is just one type that I've seen partaking out there.

Here is one of the most exciting pictures I've ever taken in my life!

I have long said that I believe, in a superstitious sort of way, if I see a hummingbird something good is about to happen. I've also said it's lucky I live where hummers live!! Now, I guess good things are going to happen all the time. 8^)

Speaking of which, the Cancer Update: DH is feeling stronger and seems less worn out than he did for the last part of chemo. He's already underway with the Rituxin maintenance doses, but they don't cause him any side effects. Neuropathy in his hands and feet needs to go away now!! But he's back to traveling for work and recreation, and living life to the fullest.

Happy knitting, all!