Saturday, January 26, 2008

My friend is a busy bee...

The other day, I had the most fun helping a friend of mine teach a spinning class to a whole whack of third graders. I love this age. They were so excited to learn about sheep and fiber, and how to make their own yarn. They kept asking, "When I'm done, can I knit with it?" Sure, says I, it's your yarn! It was a neat thing to watch, though we were really hopping around from one spindle to another, helping with overspinning/underspinning/dropped spindles. Arleta, another mom and I were showing technique, then the teacher dived right in with helping them draft, which was very sporting of him, as I don't think he had any idea what to do when he started. He's also very much a "sports" man, so I was doubly impressed that he got into the drop spindle. Here's some pics:

The lovely Arleta

A classful of potential spinners

Did I mention there were two classes of third graders?

Kudos to Arleta for volunteering to show this technique. It was pretty nerve-wracking for her, it being her first time and all. I have a feeling, though, with my kid going into third grade next year, she'll be asked to teach for the class again =)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Magician's Trick

Yesterday I took a class at our LYS. It was on double-knitting, and I just have to say, I love taking classes. I've been knitting since I was, oh, about 13 (though, since I'm only 20, that's just 7 years - heh heh). I've knit a lot of stuff. I've done fair isle and intarsia, set-in seams and raglan, button bands and rolled hems. In fact, I've knit about everything but a car cozy. Oh, and a double-knit headband. I missed that one, too. I love classes, with other knitters that have been doing neat things I've never seen. Firstly, I learned how to do a provisional cast-on. I've read about them, understood them, even tried them once or twice. But I really learned how to do them yesterday, and even though my hand was bent funny afterwards, and I might have had to tug at some split yarn a couple of times, I learned it. Never again do I have to think my way around that part of a pattern.

The double knitting, however, that was the trick. You do two separate skeins of yarn, two separate needles, after the provisional cast-on. Then you knit one stitch from one needle with one color, then purl one stitch from the next needle with the other color, then back and forth until all of your stitches are on one needle, but you have twice as many as usual. Then you continue back and forth, knitting and purling, from one skein to another every other stitch, around and around. It takes forever. If you're brave and not ascared of tinking, you can throw a pattern in there. See?

When you're done with the whole kit and caboodle, you separate them back onto two needles, and kitchener them closed. I'm not ascared of the kitchener, either, but that's going to be a lot of weaving. Still, you end up with a twice-as-thick knitted garment, and it's really neat. I know it has an element of magic, because I keep stopping and feeling it, seeing that the two sides are separate, even though they look like they should be intermingled. Very cool. And even though it will take forever, I want to make my daughter a hat like this. All last winter, she wore two hats, one on top of the other, so we're either to the felted garment point, or double-knits for her chilly little head. The temperature is down to single digits right now, completely different from two weeks ago and the springlike rain, and it's bitterly cold outside. This is the ideal knitting inspiration.

I spent all week putting off projects, waiting for the yarn to arrive for the husband's sweater. Then, at the last minute, I caved. I cast on for felted mittens, inspired by the Noro pair I made for my friend, RikiTiki. I want warm hands, too! Then I started the double-knitted headband, and of course, that's the day the yarn arrives. The manly blue color is inappropriately named Sapphire Heather. I have to say "inappropriately," because my husband says he can't tell all the boys the name. It's just "dark blue." Still, it's calling to me, and I have to finish at least the headband first. I don't mind having lots of projects on the needles, but it's hard to complain about the mess laying around the house when so much of it is mine.

So while I keep on with my inner magician, here's a picture of the "dark blue" yarn, waiting to be made into this. Happy knitting your own selves, and for goodness' sake, put on a hat before you step outside. Brr!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Fuzzy Winner

Thanks, everyone, for your New Year's Resolutions on the blog. I left my camera outside for the night, so it was cold and frosty when my husband brought it in. We didn't realize that it's like you're wearing glasses, and come inside. They fog right up. So the pictures are foggy, but this is my niece, who spent the night, drawing the name from the many commenters.

Lovely, sleepy looking fuzzy picture. You can still tell I'm not wearing makeup, dangit. Niece looks good, though. And here she's drawn the name!

What? You can't read it? Heehee. Sorry about that. The name is CarrieK, from My Middle Name is Patience. Her resolution was to get a start on Christmas, starting now. Well, this will help! Two skeins of Christmas-y, self-striping cotton yarn. When you knit it up, it looks like this:

Ah, a clear picture =) Congrats, CarrieK, and thanks for being such a good reader and commenter. We get commenting threads going back and forth and have a whole conversation. I love it. All of the other resolutions are quite enjoyable to read, also, if you have a moment.

Now, for a funny knitting picture. I'm felting a pair of mittens for my friend and commenter, RikiTiki. When I get done, she's going to cut my hair, which it badly needs. This was knit from Noro Kureyon, color 102 Y. Look how big it is! I've got to get my mom to felt them down to the appropriate size, but with the necessary felting, these should be really warm. Your hands actually sweat in these felted mittens. The pattern is from this book, and it's easy and fun. These mittens spring from the needles with hardly any effort at all, which is fun.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mission Possible 2008

Ooo, a knitalong! I do love a good knitalong. I can really get behind this one, too. You knit from your stash, one project a month, for the year. I can do that. Heyyyy, I've already done that! Do my daughter's hat and mittens count as one project or two? Probably one, unless I get desperate at the end. So, one down! My stash isn't huge, believe it or not. Something about a one-income house, five people.... it kinda makes me control myself, or they'd wonder why we were eating so much pasta while Mom's knitting away. =)

Actually, I think I've dodged the Kauni cardigan for now. My husband agreed that this was a beautiful sweater, from Knitting Daily. I just don't feel up to stranded knitting right now, but there's a lot going on with this solid color sweater. I'm ordering a deep blue yarn that may or may not remind him of the sea, but he likes anything he can relate to the earth, colorwise. Browns, tans, creams, greens - and he decided, since I wanted to knit a blue sweater, he could include the blue of water. So yay for knitting a new project! I'll still be knitting and spinning while I'm waiting for the yarn to arrive, but it will just be for-the-duration knitting, until my winter project arrives. I'm very much anticipating this one.

Oh, and two more days to leave your post for the Resolutions contest. Any old resolution will do, and I'll have whatever kid is sweetest to me that day draw a name from a hat and send the recipient some yarn! WooHoo!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First FO of 2008!

My daughters had a sleepover over the Christmas holidays, just to break up the - well, the boredom, at the end there. I think it's because the first part of break is filled with visiting and wrapping, then opening and eating and playing... then the next week, after New Year's, there's so little to do. Mom wants to rest, but the kids are circling like vultures, looking for something to pick over. So we had a sleepover, lots of girls - seven, including mine. That's only four girls invited over, but all in all, it felt like a lot of girls. I told them with seven girls in one place, we ought to be able to change the world. All we needed was a lever... Anyhoo, my husband and I thought we'd back carefully out of the room when they started watching movies (Aquamarine was one, and that is the most preteen, hair-flipping movie I have ever had the pleasure...). After all, kids at slumber parties should get a little space to play truth or dare and giggle over cute boys, agonize over Hannah Montana or Miley, et cetera.

I should be honest here. We had a child monitor placed in the hallway. Shhhh.

But I was very pleased and surprised when they asked me to come down and watch Indian in the Cupboard with them. I mean, I guess nine years old is a pretty good age, when it's still cool to have your mom in the room. But since the holidays were over, I was without knitting, so I grabbed a random ball of wool and made some mittens. The ball of wool I grabbed happened to be orange, but it was just an extra pair of mittens, possibly to be given to the school. If they were warm, the odd color didn't matter, really. (Can you tell I'm not into orange so much?) But when I got them done the next day, my youngest loved them. "They don't have bumps inside," says she. The decreases in mittens drive her crazy - because, you know, I needed another obsessive personality in the house. Don't you hate it when you rub off on your kids?

So I couldn't just let orange mittens happen. They have to have a hat. (Oh, OCD, you are a friend of mine) So the next night, I cast on for an earflap hat from this book, wool stripes this time, to cuten things up. "Cuten" may not be a word. And the next morning - voila! All patterns should go so quickly. It might have been the stripes, but I finished it fast, stuck it on her little head, and let her pose. Sorry about the not so perfect picture, but posing meant laying on the bed, pretending to be asleep. My kids seem to love this pose more than any other.


How cute is that kid and her bunny??? And here's a pic of what he's given us, which I now have no idea what to do with.

Neat, ay? Other than thrummed mittens, though, which are great, I'm not sure what else to do with the wool. I don't have any carders to mix it in with another wool, so I'm just saving it, until I learn more. I'm sure I'll be glad that I did. It is really the softest stuff. However, as soon as Dot (the bunny) saw the wool, he started crawling all over it. I don't know exactly what he was thinking, but it may have been amorousness. (I'm really making up the words today!) See all the hands holding him back? So we scooped him up quick and put the wool away. Funny how picture ideas don't always go the way you think, isn't it?

Final pictures, and I'll let you go! I'm spinning up some sock yarn, and had to show the progress. I think this is just so pretty. The wool is from Copperpot Woolies", 70% merino, 30% viscose, 4 ounzes, colorway 46. I've been wanting to make sock yarn for awhile, and I can't wait to see how much I end up with. By the by, the artwork for the backgrounds of these photos was done by my bunny-hugging middle child. Jackson Pollack, watch out!

A quick aside - Don't forget to leave your New Year's Resolution in the comments of this entry. I'll do a drawing this Sunday and send the winner some Christmas colored dishcloth yarn, to get an early jump on next year's holidays!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

As I stumble to the blog...

New Year's kicked my keister, folks! Too much partying, WAY too much. Speaking of too much, I'm realizing I'm overextended over here. With the New Year, I'm realizing all of the things that I juggle. I have Sunday School to teach (that's fun), and a home business (needs me more), teaching drama to our elementary school (way fun), being a mom (wheee!) and -- well, gosh, now that I look at it, that's not that bad. Surely I'm forgetting something, because I seem to be busy all the time, but scattered, scattered. So my New Year's Resolution is to take up Yoga, and I'm surely not the only one. When I was buying supplies at Borders (where so many good things come from), the salesman said, "What's up with the yoga sales today? Everyone is buying it." So there. Everyone is doing it, and I am, too. Do you know how rarely I'm doing what everyone else is doing??? Yes, mom, if everyone was jumping off a cliff, I'd be standing in line.... heh heh.

No, really, I'm excited about the yoga. I'm looking forward to getting more organized (heehee), since I really want to be that person that has got it all together. It's funny, though. The first afternoon the kids and I did yoga, we fell asleep on the floor. All of us. After the meditation, which I may not have been doing right, since I fell asleep. I find this all kinds of funny.

So someone else is probably doing this - I haven't been able to read any blogs since I've spent days sick from alcohol poisoning. But leave your New Year's resolutions in the comments, just for fun, ay? Don't type anything too embarrassing, because I'm going to do a random drawing in a week and give away some Christmas-y self-striping dishcloth yarn, in the hopes that someone else will get a jump on the holidays next year! And I'll post the winning comment/resolution up on the blog on the 13th. Happy New Year's!