Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hooray for the big guage!

I'm back in action once again. We went to my sister's for the holiday and had a nice time. We came back a couple days ago, but this is the first chance I've had to post to the old blogorooni.

Before we left, we had some MIL drama - she was kicked out of her ALF for jumping the fence. The gate was locked and she wanted to leave. The fence was about 3 feet high. She's 55 and has dementia, but is otherwise pretty healthy. High cholesteral and a missing thyroid are her next runner-ups for medical issues. She got where she is today (the US) by being pretty feisty, and the feistyness probably isn't going to end anytime soon.

My SIL got in touch with the matchmaker-socialworker and got a lead on another place in our price range, this time secure. We checked it out, and I think the plan is to move her in sometime around the 1st of the year.

But for knitting news......I only brought DH's scarf, my scarf, and the shrug with us on the trip. I got my scarf done. It's cute. I'll get DH to take a modeled shot sometime. I think I have enough yarn to make a little hat that coordinates. I made a good dent in DH's scarf. It's now from my hand to just past my opposite shoulder. Didn't really touch the shrug at all.

And...since we got back I whipped up a pair of mittens for my aunt. I used the Waverly Wool, and I really liked knitting with it. I was able to use size 10 DPN and they went really quickly. However, I don't know if they'll fit. If they don't fit her, they should fit her son, who is a little younger than my monkey. I used the monkey for a model. We'll see. The color is more of an ocean or royal blue. I think the guage was about 3 1/2 stitches per inch, but I didn't really measure. They start with 28 stitches cast on (9,10,9) 4 rows of stockinette, then 7 rows of a 1x1 rib, then 4 rows of stockinette, then thumb increases in the middle of the 10-stitch needle, every round until there are 16 on that needle. Put the middle 8 on a spare needle or stitch holder, cast on two stitches in their place, so that you're back at 9,10,9 on the three DPN. knit away until the fingers are almost long enough. Knit the two in the middle of the 10-needle together, so now you have 27 (or 3x9) stitches. On the next round, knit the last two of the needle together. Do a knit round, then do the decrease round, until there are 5 stitches on each needle. Then skip the knit rounds and do decrease rounds until there are 9 stitches left altogether. Cut the yarn and run the tail through the circle twice and secure. Pick up the thumb stitches. Should end up with the original 8 + 5 or 6 more. Knit rounds until there are 16 rows from the bottom of the thumb (where the original gusset started). *K1, k2tog*, then the next round k2tog around, cut a tail, run through and secure. Make another.

OK. I think we're off to KMart to do my last exchange and pick up some last refills for MIL before Medicare Part D kicks in. I was going to check out the new ALF on the Medicare site, but all circuits are busy. Were they prepared for all of the last minute Part D enrollees??? No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Yarn is not Cursed!


The yarn I originally bought for Clapotis, but got stymied, then tried to wing it on a couple other schemes (one with short row shaping, one that was feather and fan with about 5 or 8 repeats across)......I was ready to give up and just make a felted bag from it.

Now it'll be the Bell Sleeve Shrug. It is gorgeous so far, and it's a delightful mindless knit. I'm marking the decrease rows with a loop of Target yarn. I just finished my third decrease row. I'm knitting it in the round - cause I don't think I could stand to do that much back and forth stockinette. It's gorgeous. It's nearly mindless. I think it'll fit. What could be better?

My game plan is to knit in the round 21"then switch to back and forth, then hopefully switch to "in the round" to finish it up. Hopefully, I get the transitions in the right place. I'm planning to err on the side of caution, so that there might be minimal seaming, but not so much.

So much for finishing up one of the scarves before starting something new. But this shrug was not so much speaking to me as shouting impatiently, in the voice of my three year old. Oh, and I priced some yarn on elann, and I can make the shetland triangle for $18. I'm really having trouble not ordering the yarn. There's some tempting yarn on KP for another wrap, but it'll be about $50 for the other wrap I want to make. Maybe Elann has something suitable.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pattern for Mom's Mittens

These mittens were adapted from a Leisure Arts pattern leaflet (from 1981) and from the mittens chapter of the Joy of Knitting Companion by Lisa R Myers.

Size: fits me, and I wear a women's size L in gloves.

Yarn: MC = Cascade 220 superwash in 812
CC = Lion Brand Jamie in Lemonade (although Cascade 220 would have worked better).

Needles: size 4 and 5 DPN (US), sets of 5 needles.

Cast on 44 stitches over 4 needles with main color on the size 4 needles. Join, knit in K1P1 rib for 4 rounds. Switch to CC, continue in rib for 3 rounds. Switch back to MC, continuing in rib pattern for 3 rounds. Pick up the CC and work in K1P1 rib for 3 rounds, finally switching back to the main color, working in K1P1 rib for 4 rounds.

Begin using the larger needles and work 8 rounds in stockinette.

Thumb increases: knit 21 stitches, place marker, increase, knit two stitches, increase, place another marker, continue round. Next round (and even rounds) - knit. Odd rounds - continue pattern of increases by increasing just after and then just before stitch markers. Do this until you have 12 stitches between the stitch markers, ending section with an even round. Put the stitches from between the stitch markers on a holder. Knit the next round until you get to the gap with the marker. Cast on two new stitches, then continue the round. You should have 44 stitches on the needles again. Continue knitting rounds of stockinette until the mitten covers the top of your ring finger. You may want to knit another round or two, cause the decreases happen pretty fast.

Decreases: K1 K2tog on first needle, K through 2nd needle, repeat first & second needles for third and fourth needles. (so decrease would happen at stitch 2-3 and stitch 24-25). Now you have 42 stitches on the needles. *K4 K2tog* for one round, *K3 K2tog* for the next round, reducing by 1 between the k2togs until you are left with 7 stitches on the needle. Cut a longish end, thread through needle, and run through the remaining stitches twice around, snug it up and secure it.

Thumb: Take two needles and pick up the stitches on the stitch holder, take a third and pick up about 6 needles from all of the little loopy parts you see. It may help to turn the mitten upside down (but not inside out) for this process. Knit the thumb in rounds of stockinette until you're pretty close to the top of your thumb. Decreases: K1 K2tog around, next round K2tog around. You'll probably have about 6 stitches on the needle. Cut the long end and run it through the 6 stitches, two laps. Secure and weave in. Weave in any loose ends.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Just a quick update

I finished the second mitten! It only took the weekend to do - kind of amazing how fast the second one goes once you figure out what the plan should be. Just have one little end to weave in, some photographs, and some wrapping paper.

My folks got here last night. It's really nice to see them. I had my mom try on the mittens. I think they'll work fine. I saw the scarves that I made for them about 5 years ago. They must use them - cause they sure are tired looking. So, added to my queue. I had my dad pick out some stash yarn. He picked a nice green that came from his mother's stash. That's kind of nice, isn't it? And I've been trolling for scarf patterns. I think Mom's is going to be seed stitch and dad's will be one of those funky ribs - where it works through the magic of the least common denominator and the remainder. Or, I'm thinking of adding in a second color and making a sideways scarf. Or that zig-zaggy one from scarf style. I'd need to add a second color to make that one look right too. Probably will just do the fancy rib, though.

I'm having trouble settling down to figure out what to work on next. Here's what I've got:

On the needles: Scarf for me, scarf for DH. I really want to get these done, otherwise they will fester on the needles, hogging up perfectly good needles and knitting bags until next winter.

To Do: mittens for aunt, scarf for cousin, scarves for Mom and Dad, wrap/shrug for me, and LaLa has put in for some yellow mittens. Plus it'd be nice to work in some charity knitting (Dulaan, Linus, etc) Oh, and blankies for my neighbor, my sister, and a college buddy. Two boys and one unknown.

I think the game plan is to finish the two scarves, then mittens for the aunt, then the three scarves, then the three blankies. I've booked us an Alaska cruise in June. Is it wrong to start thinking about the airplane knitting already?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Four words for you: Long Term Care Insurance.

Although this is generally a knitting blog, and an occasional "Isn't my baby cute?" blog, today was a pretty big event. Today we moved my MIL into assisted living. Come back this weekend if you want knitting - I should have finished my mitten by then, I've only got a little bit of thumb left, then we can start on Mitten_2 and try to figure out how to make them the same size and wishing I had taken notes on the first one.

My MIL is 55 and has pre-senile dementia. She's lived with us for about a year and a half and has had the diagnosis of dementia for just over 2 years. There's a lot of stuff swimming through my head, and I've written quite a bit so far and deleted it. I'm having trouble figuring out what I want to say about it and what's the important part of the story. In the two years she's lived with us, she's gone from wanting to go and find a job, where in a 20 minute meeting with someone, we thought no one would believe that she was demented, to not being able to get the words out of her mouth - she says "Yes" and that's pretty much it.

I want her to be well cared for, even though she wasn't a very good mother to my DH and his 5 brothers and sisters. However, I don't want to give up any of the things I want to do with the kids (and DH doesn't either) - we want to be active in Boy Scouts, to go to the playground and Target and beginning band concerts. I feel a little bit like a failure for putting her in an ALF, although I know in my rational mind that (a) they'll care for her without the predjudice that I had [I can't shake my anger at what a bad mother she was to DH! How do you treat the people who came from your body the way that she did???] and (b)this way we can take better care of the kids and (c)MIL might even be happier there. She didn't want to come home from daycare yesterday.

Anticipating the move has been making me anxious. The drive down there was hard - not quite as hard as when the nurse handed me a bag for my clothes and told me to change into a gown when I went to have LaLa, but hard. Now I feel that post-SAT frazzle, and I still have to do work today. There are a lot of things that I'm looking forward to - a shorter commute home, not having to buckle her in to the car, not having to hold her hand when we shop, but this step makes me feel a little guilty and a little sad. Maybe it's a mourning process, this transition. We'll see.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Birthday LaLa!

My LaLa is three today! She's such an amazing little girl. Somehow she tries my last nerve and melts my heart at the same time. Not sure what her secret is. We had a fun birthday - she helped make cupcakes this morning, funfetti. We had her cousin, who's 7 months older, and her parents over. The plan was lunch, cupcakes & ice cream, presents and make gingerbread houses. What really happened was: lunch, little girls play with toys, open presents, daddy and uncle assemble toys (an embarassment of baby doll equipment, a few games, Mr Potatohead, a story, a bucket of musical instruments), little girls play with toys, cupcakes and ice cream, little girls play with toys, Sesame Street Uno (everyone 11 and over) while little girls play with toys, gingerbread houses (everyone 11 and over) while little girls play with toys. They really didn't do much mischief either - there was some jumping on the bed, and they did feed one of the babies play-doh, but that was about it. Last week we saw my niece too, but the girls didn't get to play together and LaLa was hugely disappointed. I think she feels better now. Then fried eggs for dinner, bath, a game of Cooties, and falling asleep watching Cinderella. Life is not so bad.

In knitting news, the mittens are coming along. I, um, frogged them back to the cuff again and reknit them (again). We had gauge issues. The bigger needle size made them way huge. I got through the increases for the thumb and I had room for a couple extra fingers in the hand part. Not the look we were going for. So, I went from a 7 down to a 5 needle and did it in stockinette instead of garter stitch. The stockinette in the round goes really fast. I like that. Now I'm up to the top knuckle in my pinky, only a few more inches (I have long fingers). At this point, the second mitten should be a breeze.

Krista - if you're interested, the pattern I had was written in the flat - it depends if seaming is wose than DPN. I would be happy to drop it in the mail to you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Knitting!

Well, I ripped out mom's mittens and started them over in the round. I showed DH what I had done "so far" and he asked, "Where's the first one?" Heee Hee. That was the first one. He did agree that it looked neater. I'm back up to working on the thumb gusset. I'm going to have to look up in my good SP5 reference book to see how I should continue. Also, I didn't have a set of 5 DPN in size 6, so I bumped it up to size 7. Hopefully, they're not too "lacey" for Connecticut winters.

I got Christmas lists from my family who lives near where Norma's daughter goes to school. They asked me, who lives in FLORIDA for a supersoft scarf for the daughter in navy, black, or white (who's going to college in Oklahoma) and mittens for the mom (any color). Perhaps they are asking for handknit gifts???? I happen to have some Caron Simply Soft in a very nice Navy in my stash - that I was using for a baby blanket, but it's no dye lot color, so I can always get more. I'm thinking it's a good yarn to keep in my stash - it's very useful and nice to work with. I have some royal blue yarn that is some kind of wool, but doesn't felt that I got in the sale playpen at my LYS on my first venture there. [The tag on it reads "Brown Sheep Co Mitchell NE, 4 oz, color 7111. Went to the Brown Sheep web site and it looks like it's Waverly Wool, which is intended for needlepoint but knits nicely at 3 sts. per inch on size 10 needles.] One hank, perhaps enough to make mittens, maybe I'll have to do a "contrast" cuff, but the yellow LB Jamie that I'm using in my mom's cuff should work with this too, or maybe the navy Simply Soft. It just tickles my heart that they're asking for knit Christmas gifts.

My folks are driving down, so I figure I can always send these things back up to the great white north with them on their way home. My mom has been going out to the metropolitan Whitesboro area pretty frequently to help take care of her mom.

For some reason, I'm able to cast thoughts of my shrug aside and prepare to race through these two new projects. FWIW, I think I'm going to do the bell sleeve shrug or the one that's Anthropologie-inspired, but leaning toward the bell-sleeve one, esp since that's written for a yarn that's similar to what I'm using for it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I meant to post yesterday

But I got caught up in pattern lust. The new knitty was out, I got IK in the mail....then started looking at the wraps I've been contemplating from WrapStyle [I really wished I had a pretty wrap or shrug to wear with my fancy Christmas Party dress, cause my puffy winter coat was dorky though warm], then froogling yarn, etc, etc, etc. All of a sudden it was almost 11pm. Otherwise, yesterday was a pretty productive day. I got half of the Christmas cards done and in the mail, I got a couple packages in the mail, and I made a comprehensive December to-do list. This month has and will continue to be crazy-busy. Both kids' birthdays are this month, there are more potlucks than you would care to shake a stick at, most of my family lives out of state - which means shopping early enough to ship, and to top it all off - a big deadline at work, my fast dev machine spent most of last week under the knife, and DH called a half hour ago to say that La-la had a fever and we need to pick her up from school.

To add to the list, I think we found a good place for my AD-MIL to stay, a 6-person ALF in a converted house in a regular neighborhood in SW Orlando. She's currently staying with us and going to daycare at an ALF that's kind of on the way to my work. So, this is all good, except that it means that we need to do the paperwork and figure out all the logistics for a December 15 move.

To get to the knitting, though.....I've made a dent in the mittens, and some progress on some of the other projects. The mittens are, sadly, knit in the flat, although adapting them to the round doesn't sound too hard, and I think I'll try that with the second one (is that bad? I'm really tempted to rip out the first one and roundify it, now that I see what's going on, plus I'm not real happy with how I've joined the yellow and teal for the cuff stripes. It's dorky.

I got some rows done on the IK Laptop Bag, but it's still a long way off. At this point, if I felted it, it'd turn into a clutch. I've gotten some rows done on DH's scarf and my scarf and a washcloth I've been working on at work. One of the disadvantages of the mitered square way that I was knitting is that if you overestimate the number of starting stitches, you may not have enough yarn to finish the washcloth without buying a second ball of yarn. Which is what seems to be happening. Luckily this kitchen cotton is not going to break me.