Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Finally... GAA on display!

Happy Christmas to me... I have been wanting to buy a quilt rack for a long time...

I did not have a rabbit motif in mind, but I kind of like it...

It's a shame that something that entailed so many hours of work... was sitting in a bag in a closet for so long...

Finally, my Great American Afghan is on display in my home.
This is not the spot where I planned to keep this quilt rack. Once Christmas is over, the rack and afghan will fill the space currently occupied by our Christmas tree.

Friday, November 25, 2011

No Time to Knit

No time to knit. The Thanksgiving Weekend has had me too busy.  This week, I am off of work Wednesday through Saturday and I am making the most of it.  Working like MAD to get things done so that I may relax and enjoy the holiday season.  My son drug out the Christmas Tree Box and erected the tree we've used for the past 19 Christmases.  After putting up the tree (just the tree!), my son lost interest.  He and his Pop went to go play tennis and I stayed home.  I strung up the lights and hung the ornaments while they were gone.  On the very top of the tree, my favorite ornament!  My mom made this (crochet) and it includes a photo of my chubby baby boy, who is now nearly 15 years old and a string bean now in comparison.
I love hanging ornaments. They all have memories for me. When did I get this ornament, what does it mean to me, where did I get it, or who gave this to me?  This lovely wooden ornament is a gem.  It's just a few inches across but the detail is amazing.  A coworker was showing me things he made with his scroll saw; he talked about how his hobby was his sanity... his respite from his crazy, stressful job.  I told him I thought a scroll saw would be a very fun hobby and that I could relate to the meaningfulness and importance of a good hobby.  He showed me some patterns he was considering and I admired this one in particular. Several weeks (maybe months) later, the coworker gave the ornament to my family for our tree. 

So simple! My tree is decorated with a number of these pine cone ornaments. One of our favorite places in Colorado is a little town with a little lake called San Isabel. 
We've gone there countless times in the past 19 years we've lived in Colorado. One year, I collected a bunch of pine cones.  At home, I sprayed them very lightly with metallic gold paint, affixed some brass wire at the top, and attached narrow red ribbon. 
I like these ornaments a lot.

A Thanksgiving Weekend Tradition!  I decorated the tree while my Christmas cookies baked (each tray has to be in the oven for about 17 minutes so it's a long process). These German cookies are a family tradition on my husband's side of the family.  My mother-in-law taught me how to make them several years ago. Believe it or not, this is just ONE batch of cookie dough (the recipe calls for five cups of flour, so it makes a lot of cookies!)  The dough has a million ingredients (some of which are quite unusual), they are very labor intensive, but they are worth the effort.  I love having a connection to the past like this.  These cookies are made at Thanksgiving time because they actually get better as they sit a few weeks. 
A little extra baking!  I made these muffins, too. They are super healthy and super good (despite the big mistake I made).  I will post about them soon on my other blog.  Click HERE for the link.

Oh yeah, it was Thanksgiving so I made a Turkey Dinner, too! 
Imagine that!  Our Turkey Dinner was a snap thankfully since no one here cares for many of the traditional side dishes. Pumpkin pies, however, are MANDATORY.  They are just a memory now...

Finally... on Thanksgiving night, I iced the cookies.  I think these cookies are quite photogenic, don't you?

Yay, today I addressed my Christmas cards, too!  The boys were up in Colorado Springs for a tennis tournament.  I got a lot done while they were gone.

Now... time to put up my feet and KNIT!

Monday, November 21, 2011

From January 14, 2011: Things to do... Update.

On January 14, 2011, I posted the following about my knitting goals for 2011.
I thought it would be fun to see how close I got to meeting my goals for the year.

Here's what I posted:
I have been pondering New Year's Resolutions since mid-December.  When I joined the Ravelry group called "12 months=24 hats" it got me to thinking about setting goals for my knitting.

With these goals in mind, I've been inventorying my stash of yarn.  I have yarn to complete all of my goals and then some!  The only exception is yarn suitable for the Wrapped in Care project. I have some yarn in my stash but it might not be suitable.  When I did an inventory of my yarn today, I gathered printed patterns and skeins of yarn and made up kits to make the following projects. Drum roll, please... here they are!
  1. Pismo sweater in Cascade 220 Superwash in a lavender color.
  2. Clapotis in Noro Silk Garden (sock weight).
  3. Modern Classics Christmas stockings in blue and white (a kit from Knit Picks)
  4. Point Gammon Pullover in Berroco Weekend in a tan color.
  5. Beaded Scarf in Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton (chocolate brown color with great beads).
  6. Hemlock Ring Throw in Cascade Eco Wool in an off white/natural color.
  7. Enough yarn to make 9 pairs of socks (various brands of sock yarn).
  8. Enough yarn to make 15 chemo caps with Berroco Comfort DK.
  9. A ton of Queensland Bamboo Cotton (am not sure what to do with it).
  10. A ton of Nancy (discontinued) cotton/rayon/acrylic/silk blend yarn (might make a shawl).
  11. A ton of acrylic and acrylic/wool blend yarns (not sure what to do with all of it but some is being knit into stockings for soldiers and some is being knit into hats for babies).
  12. Two kinds of lace yarn in different shades of pink to make a scarf and a shawl (maybe)
  13. Several skeins of Berroco Comfort Chunky in an off-white color (might make Rosamund's Cardigan but I am just not sure?).
  14. Some bright yarn to make these Christmas Ornaments (a crochet project).
Believe it or now, I have much, much more yarn.  We'll have to revisit this post in December (and throughout the year) to check on my progress.  I am feeling a tad overwhelmed. I better knit faster! 

What projects are you planning to make in 2011?
Update:  As of November 21, 2011....

How did I do? I did well on my charity knitting projects.  As for the other goals... it's a mixed bag.

Since November 2010, I made and donated 50 chemo caps, five Snuggles (blankets for the Humane Society animals), two blankets and 18 caps for an NICU in Arkansas, one shawl for Wrapped in Care, 32 Christmas stockings for Operation Holiday Stockings, and three pairs of fingerless mitts for Mitts of Steal (and a partridge in a pear tree).  Oh, sorry... that's a different list!  Ha, ha.   I would have liked to have made more stockings for the soldiers (I certainly have the yarn!), but got distracted by some other knit-worthy causes.

As for goals labeled #1 through #14. Well, it seems like most of these things will be on my list for 2012.
  • No progress on goals #1 through #4. 
  • Goal met!  I did complete the beaded scarf #5.
  • I am just now working on Hemlock Ring Throw #6. 
  • I did not make much progress on #7 sock yarn but am more motivated to do so after perusing the book called "Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders".  
  • I put a good dent in #8 Berroco Comfort DK yarn for chemo caps, but I still have some left (it will NOT go to waste!).  I bought more Berroco Comfort yarn throughout the year... doh!
  • Still contemplating what to do with yarn in #9 and #10.
  • #11 goal met!  I used up a TON of acrylic yarn on the Snuggles project.  Yarn goes quickly when you hold two or three strands together at one time.
  • #12... ugh! Lace.  I started and stopped two lacey stolls/scarves/shawls.  Another day...
  • #13... yay! Used up all this yarn on my Wrapped in Care Shawl.
  • #14... maybe next year.
As the year is coming to a close, I feel so incredibly blessed by a number of things... I have an amazing stash of yarn and so many projects I am excited to make.  Making  knitted things and giving them away gives me a sense of purpose and a sense of accomplishment.  Knitting has also introduced me to a lot of new friends... at my local knit shop and also on Ravelry.  My goal through this past year was to NOT buy new yarn.  I did not do very well... I fell off the sheep!  I acquired quite a bit of yarn this year.  For some reason, I felt less guilty about buying new yarn if I cast in on right away. At least I was using it, right?

I am working on my Knitting Goals for 2012.  I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Operation Holiday Stockings

Operation Holiday Stockings

My stockings for the year (a total of 32).  These are for U.S. Soldiers deployed overseas.  Last year I made about a dozen stockings. This year my goal was to make 52 stockings (one for each week of the year).  I fell short of my goal as I was distracted by so many other knit-worthy and crochet-worthy causes.

The stockings are filled with all sorts of goodies... toothpaste, candy, drink mixes, lip balm, and so on...

Yes, you can fit 32 stockings into a shoe box for a size 11 men's shoe.  My baby boy has some big feet!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Hats

Despite coming down with Startitis recently, I was able to finish up two caps on Sunday and here they are!  I don't know the actual name of this hat pattern.  I saw this hat pattern in a friend's magazine (the 2011 Holiday Edition of "Love of Knitting") and I quickly jotted the instructions down on a scrap of paper (I feel a bit guilty doing that... I should go out and buy the magazine!!!)  The gals at knit shop were Oooohhh and Aaahhhhing over ALL of the projects in the magazine, but I liked this one best.  In the magazine photo, the model had long hair and she actually had her hair spouting out of the top of the hat.  The hat is basically a tube of k3,p2 ribbing (for about 8 1/2 inches) and then there are some decreases (for the crown), followed by a row of eyelet (where you weave in some ribbon, I-cord, or, as in my project, some braided yarn).  After the eyelet, there are some increase rows and then of course you bind off. 

I made my version of the cap in Bernat Mosaic yarn in a colorway called Calypso.  The yarn is acrylic but very, very soft.  I was considering making this for myself, but decided to donate it as a chemo cap (since I recently started making chemo caps for teens and younger children).  A very cheerful cap indeed and I can picture a young lady liking the style and the vibrant colors.

I also finished up an Odessa hat (I've made this hat so many times, I've lost track... it's a great pattern). This time, I left off the beads.  The yarn is Berroco Comfort DK in my favorite colorway Rosebud.  I love how the decreases make a nice swirly design at the top of the cap.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


It was just a matter of time I suppose before I came down with the all-too-common affliction:  Startitis.  Of course “-itis” is a Greek or Latin medical terminology suffix which means “inflammation or infection”… as in tonsillitis or bronchitis.  Perhaps you are less familiar with “Startitis”; however, my research on the subject reveals it a terribly common disease among crafty folks and it is highly contagious.  The symptoms include the uncontrollable urge to accumulate new yarn, new patterns, and “start” or cast-on new projects when you already have gobs and gobs of projects on the needles. 
I am 100 percent certain I contracted my recent case of Startitis at my local yarn shop.  Lately, each time I visit Grandma’s Beads and Yarn (in Canon City, Colorado), a group of knitters are gathered at the table in the center of the shop.  I may have contracted my case of Startis from one of these folks, but I have read conflicting research which speculates Startitis can also be contracted from handling yarn on the shelves at yarn shops.   A few weeks back, I think I was coming down with a case of Startitis, but I was successful in fighting it off when I took the time to organize the space where I keep my current works in progress (the space next to my chair where I knit in my living room).  I was determined to keep just a few projects there, but it’s all gone to hell in a hand basket (that’s an odd expression, isn’t it?) and I am currently working on the following projects:
·         A pony tail hat in Bernat Mosaic.
·         An Odessa Hat in Berroco Comfort  DK.
·         A Sockhead hat in Knit Picks Felici.
·         A Hemlock Ring Throw in Cascade Ecological Wool.
·         A drop stitch scarf in Berroco Metallic Sox.
·         A pair of baby pants in Lion Brand Sock-Ease.
·         A pair of socks for my son in Bernat Jacquards.
·         A pair of breasts (yes, you read that right…. more on this in another post).
Of course, there are more works in progress which are sort of hibernating in my closet out of view… a baby sweater, a small blanket, a crochet purse/bag which will be felted… someday.
So there you have it, a full blown case of Startitis.  I would say six of the projects listed above have been cast-on in the past 10 to 14 days.   I think I need to contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to alert them as to my condition, as I seem to have been afflicted with a highly virulent case.  Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may wish to investigate the possibility of putting warning labels on yarn to caution folks about the highly addictive quality of the product they are about  to consume.   
Hopefully I will recuperate from my condition soon so that I can finally COMPLETE something… ANYTHING… and I can share it with you here.   But in the meantime, be careful out there folks!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chemo Cap #50

I started making chemo caps in August 2010.  I did so at the urging of a friend, Kerri, who suggested we could make chemo caps as a sort of "Knit Along (KAL)" for an organization such as "Head Huggers".  At that time, I knew no one who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.   Sadly and suddenly, people I knew were diagnosed with breast cancer... the owner of my former local yarn shop, two gals at work, and a family member who is near and dear to me.  When folks you know are going through a tough time, sometimes if feels like there is nothing you can do to help, but when you are a knitter and you learn a lady may be going through chemotherapy and may lose her hair... well, you grab yarn and needles and you get busy making caps. 

I was excited to realize this week that I was very close to cap #50.  I've actually made a lot more than 50 caps since August 2010 (crazy, huh?!), but 50 have been made specifically as chemo caps.  The cap pictured above and the cap I posted earlier this week called "A Winter Solstice Hat" are specifically made for children undergoing chemotherapy.  Most of my caps have been adult sized, but lately I've been experimenting with new patterns and I had some caps which turned out much smaller than I had hoped.  I was frustrated and discouraged by this, but just the other day an e-mail arrived in my "in-box" and I learned about a group called "Kaps for Kendall"... SERENDIPITY... they need caps for children undergoing chemo therapy.  That's just how things work for me in my knitting world... I make what I want and then, as if almost by magic, a recipient reveals itself.  Small caps... great for children.

Of course, the thought of a child being diagnosed with a disease such as cancer makes me sad, but making these caps specifically for children this week has been very fun.  I can picture a girl maybe 10 or 12 years old seeing his cap and finding it special.  I tried so hard to make it one-of-kind, funky, cheerful, cool, and colorful.  When I was making this cap, I thought of the really fancy fondant decorated cakes you see on programs on the Food Network.  Wild, fun, wonky layered birthday cakes. 

I learned so much making the cap called "A Winter Solstice Hat"... my first real effort at stranded color work.  I used what I learned from that pattern and just went crazy from there, adding bobbles, and bold stripes.  I was also inspired by some of the caps I've seen by Susan B. Anderson... she makes great stuff for kids.  Everything she makes is adorable!

So I share with you today... Chemo Cap #50!  Yay, I just did a little cartwheel in my heart!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October is my Knitting Anniversary

The first thing I ever knit...

Is it funny that I can tell you the exact day I "became a knitter?"  I can.

October 18, 2008.

It's a long story and I like to tell it so I guess I'll back up a bit

I took two trips out to visit my Mom and Dad over two subsequent summers (it must have been during the Summer of 2007 and the Summer of 2008) and my mom kept TRYING to show me how to knit.  During the lesson in 2007, Mom showed me the knit stitch… I just did not get it.  It was awkward, I was all thumbs, I thought I'd NEVER get it, I was not all that interested, and I never thought knitting would be "my thing". 

During the second session in 2008, Mom showed me the knit stitch and the purl stitch. This time around, I was a little more intrigued and interested; she gave me a kit to make a scarf which included some plastic/acrylic needles and yarn, as well as a pattern.  I remember jotting some verbal cues on a scrap of paper to help me to remember where to insert the needle (if knitting or purling), when to have the yarn in the front or the back, etc., but it was just so awkward.  My mom is left handed but she does lots of things right handed. She was teaching me to knit with the yarn in my right hand and the motion of wrapping the yarn around the left needle with my right hand seemed ridiculously cumbersome to me.  I felt like each time I went to wrap the yarn, I had to shift my hands all around, resulting in lots of fumbling and no good tension on the work.  I also remember having the hardest time pushing my work up the needles as I got farther into the row.  It was a struggle, but I was determined to give it an effort because... after all... my mom had given me the kit to make an actual project!  I had everything I needed in my great kit!

My folks dropped me off at the airport after our visit and, as I was waiting for the plane, I sat there trying like mad to remember what she had JUST taught me. I really struggled.  I could look at the basic knitting instructions in the pattern, but the two dimensional drawings just did not bring it to life for me.  No help!

Several weeks later (October 18, 2008), I was at my son's football game; a beautiful Autumn day in Colorado!  Another family we knew showed up to watch a later game, and Dawn parked herself next to me in a lawn chair and proceeded to cast on the cutest baby sweater in a fine, soft white yarn - a gift for someone who was expecting.  I sat there mesmerized as I watched Dawn cast on using the long tail cast on method!  I was captivated... I had to ask,"What is that?"; I had NEVER seen anything like THAT before.  It was this amazing cast on technique.  I was sold.  I said to myself, "I have GOT to learn how to do THAT?"

October 18, 2008, was memorable for another reason.  Within about an our of Dawn sitting down next to me and casting on the baby sweater, one of my son's team mates was seriously injured when he was tackled in the football game.  Initially it seemed like he was okay but he began to have a seizure on the sidelines.  He was rushed to a local hospital and then later rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Denver for emergency neurosurgery (bleeding in the brain, severe swelling and trauma).  It was an incredibly scary time for the family.  The other families on the football team rallied together, providing meals for the family, providing transportation for the family... we had bake sales, pizza party fundraisers at the middle school, a sloppy joe supper at the Elks Lodge.  One family on the team had us come to their house to harvest their wine grapes and all the proceeds went to help the family of the injured boy.  Never in all my life had I felt such a strong sense of community and unity... it was small town living in America at it's very best.  Thankfully the injured boy recovered; he's still one of my son's classmates and all is well.  So my desire to learn to knit and this scary incident will forever be linked.

After this big day in October 2008, I remembered my mom had given me another knitting instructional kit years prior (I did not even have a DVD player at the time). This kit contained two DVDs of video knitting instruction.  I sat down with my yarn and needles in front of the computer... play, pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind... over and over.   I was hooked!  I haven’t stopped knitting ever since.  Look what you started, Mom! See… Mothers do know best!

The videos helped me learn the long tail cast on... so very cool!  I still find the look of the long tail cast on to be rather hypnotic.  The lady in the video taught knitting using the Continental method where you hold the yarn in your left hand (if you are right handed).  I never did figure out how to wrap the yarn around the fingers on my left hand, as traditional Continental knitters do, but having been a crocheter for years, I found myself throwing the yarn over the right needle with my left hand just like I throw the yarn over a crochet hook when crocheting.  It's all wrong but it works!  Through October and November 2008, our family was busy with fund raisers for the injured boy's family, but when I went to football practice or otherwise had some time to relax, I sat there with my yarn and needles and eventually ended up with a scarf-shaped object. I stopped when when I ran out of yarn.  The scarf rolled something awful when it was done; I crocheted a border in single crochet around the perimeter of the project. 

So there you have it... the story of how I became a knitter three years ago.  And I don't think I'll ever stop.  More than any other hobby I've ever had, it feels to me as if knitting is endless.  I never stop learning new things in my knitting and I continue to find new things I love about knitting.  I had a brief, fleeting moment just a few weeks ago where, for the first time, I recall getting the slightest bit frustrated and... dare I say... disenchanted! with my knitting... but for the life of me, I can't now remember why that was.  I love knitting... I love everything about it.  So many great patterns, so many beautiful yarns, so many things I want to make, so many challenges ahead... and I will continue to share it all with you right here.

Thank you for joining me on my journey ADVENTURE!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Winter Solstice Hat

Cap modeled on a butter nut squash... hee, hee.

A Winter Solstice Hat is a design by my friend "Colorado Mom" on Ravelry.  The designer's version is made with black, cream, sage green, and red, but I used dark brown, pale blue, and red since I had leftover yarn in these colors (Berroco Comfort).  This is my first real attempt at a stranded color work and it turned out pretty good (if I can say so myself!)  The pattern link can be found HERE and this is a free pattern. 

I was a few rows into this pattern before I realized I was supposed to be knitting flat!  Duh! I was knitting in the round!  I carried on in the round and altered the pattern a bit as I went (I changed the decreases since I was knitting in the round and added an i-cord at the end instead of a pom pom).  This is a great pattern and I am thinking I might just have enough yarn left over to make another cap, altering the color combination here and there.  This cap is for "Kaps for Kendall"... a knit-worthy cause I recently discovered.