Tuesday, February 28, 2006


the hat.

That would be Eric modeling. Note the post exam beer in the background.

It came out pretty well, the only thing I wish I could improve is the lining. The top looks a bit lumpy in spots because of the thick seams, but I never claimed to be good at sewing - hence the Olympic nature of the project. I took it to my knitting group tonight and a guy sitting at the coffee shop said that it was a cool hat and that he would buy it. I was torn between elation that some random stranger liked my work and despair that I didn't have my camera to take his picture.

In other knitting news, it feels great to be knitting with something other than Peruvian Highland. The Suri Merino for Blaze is just heaven in comparison. It is growing, more slowly than surely, but I haven't had much knitting time lately.

Jaywalkers are also progressing nicely, now that I am on my third attempt. The first was too large all the way around and I bit the bullet before I got more than a few rounds into the pattern. The second attempt, I apparently did not learn anything from the first attempt as I cast on even more stitches and started again. Obviously, this would be a classic case of knitter's denial. Luckily, the third time's the charm and by going down a needle size and casting on the same number of stitches as attempt #1 (the larger size in the main pattern), it finally seems to be working. At the last try, it fit over my heel.

I will most likely not be posting until next week as I am heading out to the funeral on Thursday morning.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gold all the way!

Whoo Hoo!! I have beaten my enemy - the sewing machine - into submission. She has been conquered. The hat is completed. I finished hand stitching in the polar fleece lining during the closing ceremonies. I will have pictures of the intended recipient wearing the hat after exams.

This is a picture before blocking and sans liner.

(After blocking it looks much less nipply.)

Here are pictures of the decreases at the top while it was blocking this afternoon. Not too shabby for winging it. As you can see in the picture above, it does flare a bit at the bottom. I think if I had gone down a needle size for the hem it would have worked better. I am in the process of writing up the pattern and will be adding a sidebar link to my own patterns.

Yesterday involved much cursing (or as much as you can reasonably approximate with a 3 year old in earshot) while I tried to create a liner for the hat out leftover polar fleece. At first it was too tight around. Okay, cut out the seams and add a new section. Crap - more sewing. Thankfully, the machine has the stretchy stitch selection, cuz well, polar fleece has give.

Then came the time to figure out how to make the tube close at the top with a tich more elegance than just sewing a straight seam across the top. (Next time - no stinking liner) So, I attempted to create 4 , um, lobes, for lack of a better word, by sewing from the top down to the side in a curve on 4 separate seams. Crap - even more sewing. *Have I mentioned how much I hate sewing?*

Needless to say, this process nor the result were recorded. Mostly to salve my ego, because there is no way I am letting the world see pictures of such mediocre sewing skills.

All in all, I am happy with the results. I think I will knit this again sometime, but the rest of the the Elann's Peruvian Highland is definately going into the felting stash, it is waaay to itchy for me to wear next to my skin.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A quick note

Final arrangements still have not been made, but this article was in the local paper and seems to sum him up so well.

Hugo Jan Huss, conductor and music director of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1993, will be remembered for recruiting more talented musicians and improving the orchestra’s performance. Huss, who died Tuesday in La Crosse at age 72, tried to convert an amateur orchestra into a more professional group. He expanded the geographical pool of musicians, drawing quality musicians from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the region.

He was one of 13 conductors since the orchestra formed in 1898. Amy Mills, who replaced Huss and is in her 11th season as the orchestra’s conductor and music director, awarded him the distinction as conductor emeritus during the orchestra’s 100th anniversary season.

Mills said Huss laid a strong foundation for her to continue building the orchestra’s artistic quality.

“Hugo worked very hard and was significant in bringing the orchestra to a new level during his time with the symphony,” Mills said.

Huss, also a violinist, became known to La Crosse area music lovers in 1977 when he won the national conducting competition held in conjunction with the Symphony School of America in La Crosse.

He was a noted conductor of the Arad Symphony in Romania and is on Romania’s list of prominent citizens.

In 1968, Huss received the highest cultural arts honor from the Romanian government after conducting major orchestras in Europe. He also was music director and principal conductor of the Guadalajara Symphony in Mexico.

He fled Romania, which was ruled by a dictator, in 1968 because he said he could not conduct his life as he wanted.“I got a passport to go to a music festival in Paris. I just didn’t find my way back,” he said in 1990. “All they needed was to let me out once.” His wife, Mirella, left Romania legally four years earlier because her father was born in the United States.

Huss also had a master’s degree in business administration and worked as data processing manager for Mathy Construction Co. in Onalaska, Wis.

Dawson Strutt, Onalaska High School’s band teacher, played second trumpet for Huss. “His legacy will be that he brought in better musicians, and he had a vision and passion for the orchestra,” Strutt said.

Virginia Strauss, a Luther College violin teacher and the orchestra’s concertmaster, said she appreciated Huss’ programming of classical music and symphonies. “He had a wonderful concept of the elegant, refined sound for classical music,” Strauss said.

Steve Bina, a tuba player and supervisor of fine arts for the La Crosse School District, said Huss brought his strong European training to the orchestra and selected great classical repertoire.

“At one rehearsal, Hugo smiled at me, and said, ‘Steve we have too much tuba,’ and I replied, ‘That’s impossible,’ and he laughed,” Bina said. “He had a great sense of humor.”

His last wish was to be buried back in Romania, which is causing the delays in the funeral arrangements.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A tinking we will go

I seem to be in a knitting slump lately. What I have on the needles is just not inspiring me of late. I am melancholy waiting to hear when my friend's father's funeral will be as I would much prefer to be with her, but I have other things tying me down here at home. But, on a knitting note, I thought I was finished with Eric's hat. See above.

He tried it on and is worried that it will be too short with the added bulk of the polar fleece liner. So, I am going to be ripping the decreases back for a fourth time. ARGH. I will be making a couple of changes, but nothing major. Overall, I am pretty happy with how it came out.

The major challenge was how to preserve the ribbing all the way to the top. I did not want a stockinette section at the top. I will post all of the details once I have it all written out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Going to be scarce

I will not be around much in the next week. I will make the Herculean attempt to finish the hat - I have no idea why this is so hard, knitting a stinking hat. A very dear friend's father passed away and I will be heading out of town to attend the funeral.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Having a bad day Mr. Button?

This is just a quick post on the sly at work... I was watching the women's figure skating short program Tuesday night and was incensed by the comments from Dick Button. He was snide and snarky throughout the entire evening. Normally, he is quite nice to listen to because he usually manages to come up with something nice to say about everyone. However, there were a few girls that he just ripped to shreds. All I could think was that they will watch these tapes someday and hear how they were disparaged which will just magnify the disappointment that they felt. I have to believe that each of them tried their best and if they aren't Sasha Cohen, so what. They tried and that is all that matters. What about Olympic Spirit? What about giving them credit for having the guts to get out on the ice knowing that they have no chance of winning a medal? What about if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all? On a knitting note, I think I finally figured out how I want to do the decreases on the hat. No pictures today. I hope to have some tomorrow, but the piles of laundry on the dining room table are starting to overwhelm me!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Change of event?

Maybe I should have picked staying with one project as my KO goal. Just 1 week into it, I have already jumped ship. The hat is going well, I have started the decreases.

I did something here I almost never do. Yep a lifeline. Since I'm not following a pattern, and my goal is to maintain ribbing intact all the way to the top, I thought it would be wise to put in a lifeline before I started the decreases, in case I change my mind redesign at some point. Hmm, planning ahead. What a concept.

Unfortunately, this grabbed my attention.

This is one of the 2 yarns that I got from my mom last weekend. She definitely trends towards bright colors, which is soooo much fun. These are destined to be Jaywalkers. I haven't been able to get the gauge specified in the pattern. I am at 9 st/inch in st st. Grumperina was kind enough to write out additional sizes, so I am hoping that one of them will accommodate the tighter gauge.

Because Eric is heading into exams this week and next, knitting time has been scarce. In addition, we seem to have hit the terrible threes Chez Knitter. Caleb is beyond defiant, beyond sassy and beyond contrite for both. Here he is at a minor league hockey game yesterday with some friends from school. He had so much fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We interupt our regularly scheduled knitting

for a freaking blizzard! We got about 6 inches of wet snow today. Eric and I shoveled for at least 6 hours today, if you total it all up. BLECH! I am stiff and sore tonight. Here is a picture out of our front door this afternoon. This was after I shoveled for almost 2 hours, see all the snow on the driveway again. Hmmm.... me thinks Florida sounds good right now.

On the knitting front, we finally have progress on the hat! I started over swatched a minimum of 4 times. Eric then said tonight that it would probably end up too small. As he way laying on the couch next to me, I threatened to poke him in the ear with my size 4 if he kept it up.

As it is, I finally have the knitted hem done. I really wanted this because I am going to line the hat and I don't want any stitching to show on the out side. Here is a pretty clear picture of the color.

Here's hoping that the endless rounds of 2x2 ribbing don't drive me batty. Make me wish for a bit of stockinette.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's day to everyone in Blogland. Here Chez Knitter, the adults are not celebrating as Eric is embroiled in learning all about acid neutralizers and blockers - scintillating dinner conversation to be sure. Caleb, however, celebrated in grand style at school today with my not so crafty contribution to his potluck. Look closely at picture number 2. Notice anything a bit funny? I hadn't until I had most of the darn things on the cupcakes. While I love just about everything about Latin America, I was taken aback to see that the candy hearts were in Spanish. (I majored in Portuguese in college, and studied Spanish extensively.) I thought it was hysterical that I sent his cupcakes to school with Spanish language candy hearts on them. No real progress on the Olympic hat. Right now it is in about the same state it was in before I ripped it out the other night. Feel free to scroll down and see what it looked in yesterday's post. I did find this cute link on the Knitting Curmudgeon's blog. Only having 8 characters can be limiting...

Tonight is Knitting at Starbucks - whoo hoo - I might actually get something done on the darn hat.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Day 4

Yep, still no real progress. I have gotten to the point that I am ready to turn for the hem, but am not liking anything about this project. I bought the wool before I realized that I didn't really like Elann's Peruvian Highland. I think it would be great for felting, but I think it tends to run a bit thin for worsted and I can never get anything close to the recommended gauge with it. Then tonight Eric casually asks if I the hat I am working on is his. I confirm for the upteenth time that it is and that I am making it to matched the cabled scarf. He mentions that he thinks this might be too girly to have cables on a hat.

So, back to the drawing board. I'm not really all that heart broken because I discovered that when I first started knitting that I had purchased a LOT of really cheap Susan Bates needles. I don't mind them in 24" or longer, but that thick cable on the 16" is killing my wrist. So, I am reswatching to do a simple ribbed cap. It will still have a hem because I will be adding a polar fleece lining to counter-act the itch factor with this yarn. Here's hoping that the size 5 needles will produce a fabric I am happy with.

As promised, here is a picture of the socks that I have my mom for Christmas. These were knit from Schaeffer Yarn's Lola, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. For some reason every picture we took of them came out a bit blurry. She loves them, and I am happy because I got 2 pairs worth of yarn from Mom to knit into socks for her. As if I need more projects on my plate.

Well, I'm off to watch pairs skating and swatch AGAIN!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The KO - Day 1

Friday, I received this gift from a dear friend at work. Each item was labled with it's intended use.

Candy bar: "For when you knit right through lunch and forget to eat." No-doze: "For the endless nights and the last minute knit for the Gold." Water: "Athletes stay hydrated" VK: "For February 24th - when you finish 2 days early - something to pass the time" CD: "Music to jam with - KNIT KNIT KNIT!

What more could a knitter ask for in a friend? As you can see by this picture, not much has been accomplished. I have cast on for Eric's hat several times, but each time, I am not thrilled with the result. So, I broke down and am swatching - ACK. Unfortunately, this just isn't working well for me. I am going to change needles sizes again and see how it goes.

Today while visiting my mom, we went to one of the most unusual yarn shops I have ever seen and unfortunately I forgot my camera. The place is called Christa's Yarns, it is located about 45 minutes north of LaCrosse, Wisconsin and is well work the long drive. You could hardly walk there was so much yarn everywhere. The woman who owns the shop is in her early 80's and is originally from Germany. I was a bit nervous that what I would see would be either all acrylics or super-scratchy wools. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I have never seen so much yarn in one place in my life. Yarn covered each of the long walls in the main room from the floor to the 12 foot ceilings. Keep in mind that theses long walls were about 35-40 feet.

One wall was all acrylics - but not a bit of Red Heart to been seen, this were the nice stuff that you would actually want to use for your little ones. The other wall was also full of yarn, there was some Berrocco Cotton Twist amongst others. But, I couldn't get close enough to that wall to see what else was on it because the aisles were full of yarn. Down the center of the shop there was another set of shelves that stand about 7 foot high full of yarn on either side. Here she had her sock yarns (Treking XXL, Lana Grossa, Sockatta amongst others). She has Cascade 220 Superwash for $8.50 a ball. But was I was most impressed with was a huge number of hand paints, most notably from Rio de la Plata. She must have had 8-10 colorways that I could see (mostly because I was trying not to step on them). I cannot wait until I come back this way in April, because I am most certainly bringing my camera with. Just a note of caution, to help keep her prices low, she does not accept credit cards, but will accept a personal check.

I was able to pick up the Cascade Superwash for a cabled sweater for Caleb. I was thrilled by the price.

Just across the street from this shop is a local artisan’s cooperative. A local woman runs it as a consignment type shop and there was everything from handspun yarns to braided rugs, to hand knit sweaters, to oil and water paintings. My mom who is a professional quilter and former weaver will most likely be selling some stuff there. I might try to as well. I would have to show a portfolio of my work to the owner of the business. Who knows where it could lead.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This is the scarf that Kris knit

Looking back through my knitting notes, I realized that the scarf that I am going to base Eric's new hat on was knit in 2001. Today I was looking it over to just confirm the pattern when I realized that he had worn a hole in the garter stitch edge. Unfortunately, it had already run for several rows so it was a pain to darn and not all that pretty either. But, I think it will hold. This picture shows the color pretty well. This one shows the cables. It is done over a K2P2 rib so that it is reversable. This is the yarn that I will be using for the KO to make the hat that almost matches. Because of the tendonitis, I haven't swatched yet, but we'll see how it goes. I think the challenge will be the decreases to keep the ribbing as intact as possible. I am traveling to visit my parents this weekend and see the sock yarn that my mom got. It's normal to travel with a bag of yarn and a full compliments of needles, both circulars and dpns, right? I mean, who knows if I will just have to cast on for a pair of socks and I will need to have the correct dpns. Since I haven't swatched the hat, I have to bring all of the needles to match that wool also. I don't see any problems with how I am packing. Although, it's good that Eric isn't coming with Caleb and me, he would need his own bag.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

KO update

In light of the fact that the tendonitis is not getting better any time soon, the Rowan Magpie sweater is out for my KO project. I am switching to a much more manageable cabled hat for hubby, to match a scarf that I made for him several years ago. The original yarn is long forgotten, but, he picked out the color for the new hat and I will attempt to match the cable pattern. On a lighter note I did find the following safety instructions for the Knitting Olympics. If only I had heeded her advice, I might not be trying to sign up for the Knitting Para-Olympics. Yesterday, a co-worker dropped this magazine on my desk, he is a mechanical engineer and I am terrified of math. I had to laugh because my first comment was that it looked like nice and expensive yarn. I didn't even look at the article, as I was completely entranced by the aforementioned yarn. This weekend I also received this pattern from my next door neighbor. I am guessing it is from the late 50's or early 60's, the original price was just 25 cents. If you leave off the daisy's and the lattice colorwork, it's pretty nice. I like the cut of the sweater, if there was a little waist shaping, is what I really mean. But is is a bit hard to get past the weird pose she is in. To be honest, I always wonder what happens when an elderly knitter passes away and her family and friends don't knit. What happens to all of the patterns she has stashed away over the years. My guess is that they all end up in the local landfill. Personally, I love all of these old patterns, many times more than ones I see on the news stands. I can't honestly be the only one out there collecting vintage patterns just because I don't want to see them distroyed. Am I?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Knitter Down

Hopefully not for the count. This weekend Bubba decided to climb over me while I was kneeling on the living room floor. Meaning, he stood behind me, and climbed over my shoulders. Of course I lost my balance and caught myself with my bad wrist. Now, it hursts to do anything with that hand at all, knit, type, what have you. Here's hoping that a few days off will help. The back story on my wrist is that I simply knit too much and I have a desk job with lots of computer use. I think it is simply a repetetive stress type injury and if I were to stop knitting - as if - then it would get better. Icing it last night and not knitting helped a bit, so I am hoping that if I take it easy that I will be able to do the KO. Musicknitter asked about Blaze. I am using Plymouth Yarn's Suri Merino which is 55% Suri Alpaca, 45% Extra Fine Merino and 100% heaven. I am knitting it up on size 4's, but am getting the same gauge. I think it is the difference in the yarns. Like most Knitty patterns, this one is very well written. I haven't seen any errors yet. The cable pattern is very easy to memorize and every even round is a knit 'em as you see 'em round. That said, I have zigged when I should have zagged more times than I can count and with this pattern, the result is tinking back. I find it too hard to keep my place when I pull the needles out and rip back completely. By this point though I am looking forward to the endless stockinette of the Magpie sweater. I have unofficially joined the stashalong. Unofficially because I started the blog after the closing date for the -along, however, I am offically on a yarn diet. This was spurred by a few too many Stash Enhancement eXpeditions. Who can argue with Shaefer's Little Lola (which in my head I keep calling Lolita) at 50% off? This colorway is called Snoopy's Crayons and became Mom's socks. I will put a picture of them up after I visit the folks this weekend. I loved knitting Lola and can't wait to start the next pair of socks with this yarn.

Monday, February 06, 2006

More about the Rowan Sweater

The KO sweater will indeed be my own design. I happen to have an unnatural significant difference between the circumfrence of my hips and my waist. I'm talking close to 14". So, combined with a frightful concerning shortage of yarn, I have to design this baby myself. Having never done this before adds quite a wrinkle to the deadline. The cast-on and the shaping up to the arm-scye doesn't phase me at all. However, I've never done a sweater with set-in sleeves much less designed it on the fly. It should be interesting to say the least. At the moment, the plan is to have about 10% negative ease for the body. Since it is an Aran weight yarn and the swatch (washed and blocked, thank you very much) knit up very quickly, I am hoping that there is a chance for this to come together. To speed things up, I am doing the body in the round. To ensure that I don't have sleeves of different lengths, I am planning on picking them up and knitting them down (at the same time) until I run out. Hopefully, I get close to at least 3/4 length sleeves. My actual goal, given that I am going out of town on the night of the Opening Cermemony is to complete the body by the time the games are over, anything more than that is icing on the cake. Oh yes, lets not forget the other hinderances challenges to the process:
  • Working full time
  • A very active 3 year old boy
  • My dear husband who is in the middle of his second year of medical school and not much help with Bubba* (the preschooler) or the house.

*Names changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Here's to insanity, thy name is Knitter.

Here is a picture of Bubba in his prime after a visit to the local children's museum. Can you guess what the craft project was? The crumpled yellow bit above his left eye is a flower. Obviously.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blazing Sweaters

This is the one piece I MUST finish before the Knitting Olympics. Granted, there are others that linger in the knitting basket, but lets just pretend they aren't there.

It is Blaze from Knitty.com. It is beautiful in all of its purply goodness. But given that I live in Wisconsin, I had to lengthen the sleeves. Otherwise, the window of opportunity to wear this sweater would be about 2 weeks a year. Here is close up of all of the increases.

I'm quite pleased with how it is all coming together. There were a few mis-adventures along the way, we just won't speak of trying to do 2 sleeves on 2 circs all while cabling without a needle. It is just flying along now that I am back on my set of 5 dpn. Here's hoping that I get the second sleeve done before the opening ceremony. I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I've Found a Victim!

Today I received the sweetest words a knitter can hear. My mom and I were talking today and she said, "you know the yarn store here in town is having a Superbowl sale. If I buy some more sock yarn, can you knit me some more socks because I love the ones you made me." What could I say besides "be sure to buy superwash unless you want hand wash your socks." It seems like a match made in heaven, I love knitting socks and she likes wearing them. It helps that she has normal sized feet too! I decided to start this blog for a couple of reasons.
  • First and foremost, I would like a way to record all of the knitting I do. I seem to underestimate what I can accomplish in a year. Besides, it is pretty hard to include all of the pictures in a paper journal.
  • Secondly, I decided, somewhat foolishly, to join the Knitting Olympics and a blog just seems like the right place to record the progress, or lack thereof, I make.
  • Thirdly, a recent post on the yarnharlot got me thinking. I often feel the need to knit that goes far beyond the simple act of creating a garment or object. To me it is quite often a meditative process, one that calms my spirit and revitalizes me for what comes next.

I have 7 skeins of yumminess to knit up into a sweater for the KO. Here's hoping I make it. Of course the yarn is discontinued, so it has to work.

The color is a bit more pumpkin-y than what shows up here, but it is truely a delight to knit.