Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hello 100; Goodbye 2006

Is that cool? My 100th post on the last day of the year. Let me cut this into sections, 'cuz I have a lot to say. (Actually, I'll have to cut it into separate posts, because blogger is being stingy again.)

I never showed you my Christmas loot! Of course, I'll mostly show the knitting-related stuff.
Yes, that's the delightful Mason-Dixon Knitting (love the whole aura of this book), No Idle Hands by Anne L. MacDonald (which I am reading cover-to-cover now), Traditional Knitting: Patterns of Ireland, Scotland and England by Gwyn Morgan (a little history, some patterns--so good), Keri Smith's Living Out Loud (a play book for your creative soul), a Capercaillie CD, Ani DiFranco's Little Plastic Castle, the Basquiat soundtrack, a Jelly Belly dispenser (I luuuuv JB's), some pick-up sticks that look like real sticks, and there in the middle, yes, you see an Incredible Mom Pez dispenser. I love her--she's stretchy (not the dispenser, the mom). All these wonders were from Fred (the cutie in-house male model from the last post).

He also got me this out-of-print booklet, Scottish Knitting by Helen Bennett. It was published by Shire Publications in the UK and it's full of info on bonnets, stockings, shawls & lace, Sanquhar & Fair Isle. I'll read it all, as well--and don't you just love the Scot on the cover in his Kilmarnock bonnet lighting up his wee pipe?

I also got some of these shoes (beautiful and comfy), and one of these gift boxes, among other things. I love Origins ginger stuff!

I told you I would post a picture of our Christmas tree, but I could not. It was from the dark side or something--I tell you the thing would not have a full-body shot taken of itself. Take a pic of the top half--fine. Take a pic of the bottom half--also fine. Try to take the whole tree in one shot--blurry every single time, even from every different angle of the room. Fred tried and I tried. Daytime, nighttime, I don't care--the thing was evil. Evidence? You need more evidence? Do you see how the font in this paragraph is different from the rest of the post? I tried several times to change it, but no. The evil tree is causing this evil font! Even though it's bad, bad, bad--it was the most lovely, fragrant Christmas tree (a Noble Fir) we've ever had. Right now, though, it's sawed in half and lying out on the cold patio. I miss its evil self.

Okay, I'll look back on my 2006 knitting in another post. Stay tuned! And if I don't get back to you before midnight, Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wrapping Up

I thought I would be writing this post about four months ago, but as I've said too many times, I was kidnapped for much of the year with freelance designing. I've been working on these men's sweater designs for over a year now, and they are finally ready! Also, we got the 2006 gallery up--just in the very nick o' last! Go see.

First, meet Iain. I wanted to design an Aran in the shape of a hooded sweatshirt--something cool that even young guys would wear. I even did market research with some guys in some of my substitute classes, as well as moms of boys (since I have only girls). Iain has saddle shoulders and is knit in the round all the way. The hood is picked up and knit on, carrying the main front cable all the way up it. I merged the large cables into a basketweave instead of siding them with purl stitches. The unifier is garter stitch, which appears all through the design in different ways. I had fun doing this sample in Cascade Eco Wool. The thing is, this sweater works for anyone. I love wearing it, too. As you'll see on the gallery page, so does Sue the lovely, and Jane's daughter, also the lovely! I used the same garment construction for the Aidan in Cast On, but with totally different cables and filler stitches.

The Iain pattern may be purchased here. The pic in the link shows the back.

Another design long in the making is Sherrod. This one is named after Fred, because it's his middle name, his father's middle name, and his paternal grandfather's name. Plus, I just like it. Fred picked out most of the cables for this sweater. It is also knit in the round and has saddle shoulders and underarm gussets. The back and sleeves have an allover, irregularly-twisted cable--the large cables are only on the front. This sample was worked up in Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed in the highland color. This yarn is really lightweight, yet after wet blocking, very comfortable and warm. I recommend it highly!

The Sherrod pattern may be purchased here.

Fred also greatly influenced this design. He wanted a sweater with an allover, simple cable with mostly stockinette. He also named it, so meet Fionn! It's a simple, satisfying project--also knit in the round, drop shoulder, only seaming at the shoulders. This sample is made with Patons Classic Merino in the dark grey mix color.

The Fionn pattern may be purchased here.

Wow, that's almost enough for this post. I've got one more design that I didn't specifically tell you about. It's a baby set with bunting, blanket and two different hats--a bonnet and a cap. It is the Mairead, and you can see it here, even though I couldn't get a picture up on this post. The sample I made about two years ago is in Lion Brand Woolease in red. That's the reason I haven't posted a picture before now. I just could not get the red to look pleasing at all. Maybe I should add this Digital Photography for Dummies book to my reading list...ya think? Since it's sitting right here beside me on the bookshelf just gathering dust.

I'll tell ya what won't be gathering dust, and that's the books Fred got me for Christmas. I will show you those next time, along with some other goodies.

I hope you are enjoying "the week between," and are looking forward to some festive New Year's fun. Let me hear from you!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How to Clean Your Kitchen

(when it wasn't even on your to do list!)
Yesterday was one of those days that make you feel like all three Stooges wrapped up in one. I am in the very last stage of a sweater for a deadline, trying to honor my promise to myself to have it done before Christmas (deadline is Jan 2), but yesterday morning a couple of problems and another deadline had me running around like the proverbial headless chicken. I had an egg-white-&-mushroom omelet ready for my growling stomache (trying to be good this week in preparation for holiday yummies), and an important, ponderous, image-laden email trying to send itself out of Outlook. I dashed back into the kitchen to add some salsa to the omelet, took the mega-jar out of the fridge, shook it vigorously, and SPLASH! Yep, about three cups of salsa go violently plopping to the middle of the floor. As you can probably imagine, the lovely red stuff spread itself literally from one end of my galley-style kitchen to the other, and all over the face of the oven and both sides full of cabinets. The whole kitchen now has a thorough cleaning and I have to say an humble "you were so right, darling" to my husband. You see, I am always complaining to him because he has a penchant for screwing all caps on extremely tight--so tight that sometimes I have to ask him to get them off for me. I will from now on be screwing things a little tighter myself, ahem. I'm sure I didn't get it all. I'm sure I'll be finding mysterious red spots on the wall, the stove, the ceiling....

Anyway, so today I finish the sleeve of the mystery man sweater and start assembling. Then I can edit the pattern over the course of the next few days and send all the day after Christmas. I wish I could show you, but I will tell you that with this project, I had my first negative experience with Cascade 220. When the package came, the yarn was stuffed, all 10 hanks of it, into an 11 x 14 envelope, crammed so tightly that I had to let it sit for a couple of days before I could wind it up into cakes. Why would anyone who cares for fiber treat their fiber this way? It's almost a month since it arrived and the hanks yet to be wound still look squished. On top of that, this batch is twisting like crazy. I have only used one hank that did not twist. The twisting slows down my progress. Ugh. It is still producing a lovely fabric, though, so that's what matters.

Referring to the aforementioned email-sending, I had to email a magazine publisher because the submission I sent last Wednesday (the 13th) by priority mail still has not shown up, or at least I am getting no confirmation of such. Another one I sent the same day arrived on Monday. Not the 2-3 days they promise, but 4. I also emailed the USPS about this, but as reply. I may have finally had my first--EGADS!--lost-in-the-mail precious knitting catastrophe. Oh, dear friends, I know it happens to everyone, but please hope that I am spared losing the whole cable sock knit with Mountain Colors and the whole lace sock knit with Dalegarn Stork, and, gee the whole submission packet I knocked myself out assembling last Tuesday/Wednesday when I needed to be resting in bed. (I went to the doctor Thursday and had blood work taken and I feel better now, thanks. I still don't know what had me feeling so badly those two weeks. Weird. Maybe the lab report will reveal something. Probably not.)

So here we are on the eve of Winter Solstice, rapidly approaching Christmas, and I am dreaming of all next week to do as I wish. These are my hopes for that week: Finally tell you about six new designs we revealed over the past month or so, work on submissions, start (yes, start) my TKGA Master Knitter Level 1, get back to work on a women's sweater design for Figheadh, clean the rest of the house (now that the kitchen is taken care of), send boxes of goodies to my children & grandchildren (I donate to charity in their names for Christmas and send them stuff later) & enjoy some sock knitting! Think I can do it all? I always think I can. We'll see.

Okay, for those two of you (maybe) who actually kept with me all the way here, I'll reward you with a purty picture...oh no I won't because blogger won't let me! Argh! I think it's punishing me for not upgrading to the new thingy. Another task for next week!

Okay, how 'bout a couple of neat links?
Multidirectional goodies & wonderful Wooly Thoughts. Pics next time.

Back to the sleeve!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not gone with the wind

We're still here! We had a storm overnight that broke records--up to 69 mph winds near here. During last evening, the winds got pretty fierce, but we went to bed in our cozy upstairs bedroom buffered from all and slept right through it. As far as I can tell, nothing blew off the house. We didn't even lose power. No damage in our neighborhood, but all the schools are closed and I hear the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (the former "Galloping Gertie") was frightful! The Narrows turned into a wind tunnel during the night and they closed the bridge for a while. Of course, the waterfronts are littered with crashed boats and debris.

Disaster averted. The worst is over. We're just in for a good deal of rain (ooh--surprise!) and maybe a leeeetle snow.

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sick Day(s)

Please excuse my absence, but I was taken by some mysterious ailment off and on for the past couple of weeks. It's no wonder I don't submit to more of the millions of little germs and whatnot I must pick up from scooting around from school to school spending days with the little folks. (Knocking on wood) I do feel better today, thank goodness!

Some days I did at least feel like knitting, so I have finished all the pieces for the prototype of an accepted book submission, and have even gotten underway on the actual sample (which is worked in Cascade 220). The prototype, which I will be putting together today, is made with Katia "Scotch," a discontinued 65/26/9% silk, wool, rayon blend in a lovely tweed.

I have enough left to make a whole other sweater, which I should be able to show. Of course, the sweater for the book (and even its prototype) may not be shown until the book is published, and who knows when that'll be? I don't even know. It will be the fourth in a series for the author, though, so you'll see it sometime.

Also, I have been swatching to remake one of my designs, the Caitlin Cardigan. It has not sold any copies, so I thought I would pull it back and rework it to make it more knitter friendly. I may be about to learn steeks! I'll let you know.

This model is made with Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, which I love, but I want to try it with some wool.

I've been swatching with some of these colors, and some even more earthy color combos. I will show you swatches next time.

This is some Patons Classic Merino, and in the back, some of the new Lion Brand 100% Wool. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for checking in. Hopefully, I'll feel more like blogging for the remainder of the year and on. I haven't even shown you our Christmas tree! I'll save that for next time, too.

Happy Holidays All!