ok, so i started writing this post a looong time ago! the only thing i can remember about january is that my kids and i were sick on and off pretty much the whole month!! i didn’t get on the internet for ANYTHING, much less blogging for weeks!! thankfully, everybody is better *for the moment, anyway…. you know how it is with school-age kids*. SO, here is the post i started writing after in the beginning of january.

something happened to me around the first of january. i never make new year’s resolutions…. it’s so pointless. i think it’s fake… in MY outspoken opinion, people act like they care, but only for one month *IF that*. FOR ME, new year’s is a time of reflection. i think about the year that has passed; what did i do or accomplish, was it a year  well spent?  what can i improve upon?

this year there was one glaring dissapointment in my spinning and knitting life. my lack of uncompleted projects. first, the danish tie shawl from spin-off- my first shawl EVER!! i definatley wanted to spin the yarn for the project but i also decided that i’d process my own fleece for it- a targhee! i had recently bought a pair of mini combs and i thought this would be the perfect first project to use them with!

i was crushed to discover how long it took me to comb a handfull of fluff into a tiny roving ball. especially since the targhee is such a fine fleece, it takes forever to get the neps out. i tried other options *which i’ve talked… or ranted…. about in previous posts at great lengths, i’m sure* nothing really gave me the preparation i was hoping for. the combed fiber was beautiful, of course, but looking back i wish i would have purchased full sized combs so that i could prepare more fiber at once. needless to say, i gave up on the shawl.

then there is my bambigi- otherwise known as gigi from knitty. this was another “first” for me, my first garment. yes, it’s true, for two years i’ve knit many accessories, but have always been a little skittish about knitting a piece of clothing. it started out hopeful enough, it was only the enormously long stretches of stockinette that finally bored me enough to stop knitting on it.

so my non-resolution, more of a realization, is that i will be going back to those projects and whole-heartedly trying to finish them. bambigi will not be hard to finish, i just have to barrel through the stockinette and try not to fall asleep while doing it!!

my solution for the shawl is that i’ll use the targhee fleece for another project, instead, i’ll raid my stash and see what kind of roving i can come up with for it. i’m pretty sure i have enough *without looking at the project specifics, i believe you need 18 ounces* undyed roving to complete the project. and actually, this project has taught me something that i will use for the rest of my spinning life. i’m impatient. *well, i’ve known that for a long time* but i can’t stand waiting  through processing a fleece to start a new project. from now on, i’m only using unprocessed fleece for novelty yarn, or any yarn that i want to be highly textured. for everything else, i’ll have to use processed roving. as much it pains me to say that!! i L-O-V-E raw fleece!!! i can’t pass one up in person without stopping to touch and inspect it. and i love the idea of creating something from the sheep up, but it’s just not for me. i’m heartbroken to admit it, too.

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oh, what a busy holiday. obviously the only thing i wasn’t doing was blogging!! hey, with little kids, you’re holidays are pretty much consumed doing stuff for them.

i did get some knitting done, however, and am happy to anounce my first FO for 2009!!! the beech wood cowl. originally i had cast on 124 stitches and was planning to knit the cowl extra long so that it could double as a hood. i was seeing all these really cute hoods on ravelry and thought it would be the perfect use for that velvety alpaca/bamboo yarn from kid ‘n ewe. after knitting for weeks, it was finally long enough to try it on! i put all 124 stitches on waste yarn *because i couldn’t fit the circular needle around my big dreads* and i ran to the bathroom. as soon as i saw it around my head… i hated it. it was one of those things that you see on other people and L-O-V-E, but on you it looks like absolute crap! i was pretty bummed, i still am.

since i still love the pattern, i decided to keep knitting it- as the cowl. i decided to keep it at 124 stitches, so that it wasn’t a complete waste of time and i didn’t have to frog the entire thing. i’d just have an extra-slouchy cowl.  i had to frog a little of it,  because it was already way too long for a cowl, but after that it was only a matter of knitting a few more rows of pattern stitch and then adding the border. and tada- here it is!

beech wood cowl

beech wood cowl

kyndra couldn't resist being a part of the action!

so, kid ‘n ewe 2008 was november 7th through the 9th and i’m just now getting around to posting about it? trust me, i know how lame that is! but with all the blog changes i’ve been doing and the holidays i’ve been pressed for time. not to mention my digital camera was MIA after taking it out at my dad’s house to take (what will become) a very embarassing picture for my son when he’s 16! *a mom never misses an opportunity like that!!!*  but my trusty digicam has just been returned to it’s owner! so, without further ado, i give you my kid ‘n ewe 2008 fiber haul!

from the fiber lady- (left) undyed bamboo and hibiscus color way (right) seconds and dyed hemp

from the fiber lady- (left) undyed bamboo and hibiscus color way (right) seconds and dyed hemp

all-but-the-kitchen-sink roving from ozark carding mill

all-but-the-kitchen-sink roving from ozark carding mill

beautiful grey alpaca and viscose. sounds weird, but it's soo soft!! like buttah!

beautiful grey alpaca and viscose. sounds weird, but it's soo soft!! like buttah!50/50 alpaca bamboo yarn from ozark carding mill

(orange and mint) cotton roving (raspberry and blue/yellow) soy silk

(orange and mint) cotton roving (raspberry and blue/yellow) soy silk

what i did in my dye class!!

what i did in my dye class!!

what i dyed at home after my dye class!

what i dyed at home after my dye class!

so, i mentioned on my twitter that i had cast on a scarf that i wanted to finish before the short texas winter comes to a close for…. myself!! that’s right! i said it before, this holiday knitting season, i made a pledge to myself that i wouldn’t be stressing myself out knitting presents for everyone else *well, i couldn’t resist the request for the kid’s hat for my dad’s angel tree family, which i finished by the way, and of course forgot to take pictures of* so i decided to knit my first ever christmas present for myself!! i wanted something cables and/or lace. i poured over a book of stitch patterns but couldn’t decide on anything, so i did some pattern searching on ravelry and found the perfect stitch pattern! a one row lace pattern! but it was a little plain for me as is, so i decided to flank it with a simple six stitch cable on each side.

to make it even more interesting- this would be my first cable project EVER!!! hard to believe since i’ve been knitting for a few years now, but cables have always intimidated the crap out of me!! i tried them once a very long time ago with a plastic acrylic yarn….. it was bad!! but this time i was determined to do it with style, so i taught myself how to cable without a cable needle using this tutorial. and here are the results:

cable-scarf-into-beech-wood-cowl1

ok…. wait…. what is that at the bottom? well, that’s what my scarf is slowly but surely turning into. you see, i’m so cheap, i told myself that i’d knit a scarf if i could squeeze it out of one skein of that lovely alpaca/bamboo yarn. i hardly ever buy yarn, i just think it’s so expensive, so this is a rare occasion and i want to get as much as i can out of those two skeins!! well, i ran out of yarn at about three and a half feet- which didn’t suit me. so, i went back to ravelry searching for a project that would eat up less yardage. i kept seeing cowls, and i liked a lot of them, but i wanted something that could be pulled up around my head. so what i came up with was my own “pattern” based on the beech wood cowl by ilga leja. i love the stitch pattern she came up with, it lends so much texture to the fabric. but to make it long enough to go over my head, i increased my cast on stitches to 124 and am planning on knitting the pattern repeat for around 21 inches. i’m playing it by ear, but i hope i come up with something i really like this time.

cable-scarf-into-beech-wood-cowl21

*progress*

in my prolonged absence, i finished the main body of the filet crochet piece i’ve been working on! it’s been really hard to remain faithfull to that project! my fingers are NOT used to crocheting and i’ve experienced all manner of hand and finger cramping and stiffness lately! but the recipient’s wedding was yesterday, the 20th, and unfortunately, their gift did make it to the wedding, hell, i couldn’t even go- a four hour drive and two kids? no thanks! not to mention, i still have to get the piece blocked and framed!! i’ve been procrastinating the blocking for weeks now *pretty much since the moment i  finished crocheting* and i’ve got to get it done soon!!! oh, and no pics until it’s absolutely finished!!!

funny story about the border of the filet crochet name doily: i went to the local library and hurriedly picked out the only book of crocheted borders they had. it was one of those books with the word “complete” in the title, so i was positive i would find something that perfectly fit my project. the book looked to be from about 1970  and i realized pretty fast that most of the borders in the book were extremely gaudy. nothing simple, nothing plain, nothing sweet. all 1970’s gaudy. and not only that, but the carefully taken pictures of each individual border were no help, either. all the crocheting had been done with yarn so thick that you couldn’t see any detail, all the dainty shells and little lacey holes were closed by the bulk of the cotton thread.

so i started picking the borders apart, page by page, seeing if there were any elements of one border or another that i could isolate and use by itself. i experimented and finally came up with a simple but pretty border that required only single and double crochet stitches and could be completed in a few rows. it was from a chapter called staggered squares, and i really like the look of it, from a regular viewing distance it looks like any lacy border, but up close you can see how ingenious the stitch really is. and best of all it took only a few days of working *only when i had the time* to finish it.

the link for this book on amazon shows a recently reprinted book with very nice examples of the work to be found within the pages!! uh, old ass library books! from the picture of the reprinted version’s cover, i’d actually be interested in looking through it again! that was my only gripe about the book was the pictures/ the way the samples were made.

and here is a last minute inclusion: a yarn i spun from teased cotswold locks and merino. this was a really fun yarn!!

sunset-cotswold-merino-yarn22

so, this year i told myself i was off the hook- there was no way in hell i would get caught up in the chaos and stress of giving everyone i know handmade gifts. my only current projects: my gigi, which is resting for the time being, waiting for warmer weather and then i started a new scarf, mainly because i couldn’t wait to knit with the yarn! it’s a most enexpected, yet scrumptious half and half blend of alpaca and bamboo in a rich chocolate brown. now if only my sister would have remembered to return my digital camera, i could post a pic….

at thanksgiving, my step mother asked if i could knit a hat for her daughter. but it didn’t have to worry about getting it done in time for christmas, so that was okay. then, on monday, she called me and asked if i could contribute some knitted hats for the children they picked off the angel tree…… how do you say no to something like that?!?!

the truth is, my husband and i have been so broke lately, that we had been unable to even buy christmas presents for OUR kids until yesterday!!! and then there’s the issue of time- they live in the next town over and would need the finished items this sunday! i don’t even have the time to finish my OWN knitting projects!! not to mention i’ve been wanting to make hats for my daughter and my niece, and i haven’t even gotten around to THAT!! but the truth is, if i didn’t do it, i’d feel terrible! i only wish they wouldn’t have waited until the last minute to tell me about it!

oh, and one more dissapointment: i’ll have to make the hats out of red heart super saver…… not my ideal choice of yarn, but there’s really nothing else i can do right now. and since i don’t have ANY hat-size circular needles, i’ll be knitting them flat and seaming them, basing the pattern on a design idea i had while reading the knitter’s almanac. i’ve finished knitting and weaving the ends on the first one *a girl’s hat* , and will soon start knitting the second one *a boy’s hat*. think: “fast knitting”……

 

yeah! my first post on my *new* blog!!! it’s taken me long enough, i know, but alot of time and effort was put into researching blog sites, signing up and worst of all, setting up the layout and scheme of the blog. that took around three days for the coding challenged blog administrator… *me. and then of course there was the delay of taking pictures but still feeling guilty for posting my first entry with nothing pretty to look at!! and two finished objects at once for me is such a huge deal that i couldn’t let the occassion pass without pictures!

 

momma's mitered mittens
 

woohoo! i finally finished my mitered mittens!! and shortly thereafter, my son became very jealous of them. so after 2 mornings of him guilting me into giving him my mittens, i asked him if he wanted a pair of his very own. he excitedly agreed and a trip was made to the local crafts store after school for him to pick his yarn. i would have liked to make his mittens out of (quality) 100% wool yarn, but since it’s already mitten weather here, we couldn’t afford the time it would take to order it online. but the lion brand wool-ease worsted wasn’t as acrylic-y as i thought it may be. he chose a very thrilling SOLID steel-blue yarn. i tried to coax him into a self-striping yarn or even a brighter color, but his mind was made up. 

these were a really quick knit. since this was my second pair, i knew exactly what i was doing, no frogging here! i did a gauge swatch and then multiplied my gauge (per inch) by his hand circumference for my number of stitches to cast on. the miters are worked the same way, and when i came to the thumb gusset, i only increased to 9 stitches. the crucial thing here is the recipient’s hand measurement: the miters are worked until the very tippy-top of the pinky and then you start the decreasing. the easiest way i found to fit the thumb was just to have my son try the mittens on until the thumb was a good length, instead of measuring his thumb length! and there you go- a child’s pair of mitered mittens!
 

layne's mitered mittens

 

sorry about the blurry picture, i can never get him to be still for picture-taking!

today was the first day he wore them to school and he was really excited! it’s so nice to see your child appreciate and enjoy something you’ve made for them- it warms the heart! this was the first knit that he “asked” me for.

i’ve been working my poor fingers to the bone lately, so hopefully we’ll have more FO’s to follow very soon! the date of my cousin’s wedding is coming up fast and my fingers are struggling to keep up with the crocheting. my yarn holding hand has been under lots of pressure lately!

i hope everyone’s having a fun, busy *as far as knitting projects go, anyways!* and love-filled thanksgiving weekend!!! i’m off to a celebration of my own!

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