Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where the heck have I been?

1) September 7: closed on my new townhouse
2) September 13-16: moved a lot of stuff
3) October 5-9: Rochester, Minnesota for the annual meeting of the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association
3) October 12-14:  Breckenridge, Colorado for a friend's wedding
4) October 14-17:  Lubbock, Texas for the annual meeting of the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association
5) October 17-22:  San Antonio, for a little vacation (after all, I was already in Lubbock, only an 8 hour drive away!  And my chauffeur was another knitter!)

And then I did next to nothing (except move more boxes around and, oh, yeah, go to my regular job on a daily basis) until.....

6) November 18-19:  Sister and brother-in-law visited on their way to Mom's for Thanksgiving
7) November 21-24:  Thanksgiving at Mom's!

And now -- since last Saturday, the 25th, I've been in Chicago for yet another conference.

As you can imagine, I still have boxes to unpack, but I have finished some knitting projects, including finishing a pair of much-needed and long-languishing gloves for myself.

It's really hard to take a picture of your own hand!

I also worked a bit of conductive thread into the tips of the right index finger and thumb, so I can use my iPhone while wearing them. It really works!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One of these bees....


One of these bees...


is not like the others.


One of these bees...


just doesn't belong.

On the other hand, it DOES look better than it did when I pulled it out of the dryer!


As you can tell by the presence of the crochet hook and the stitch marker, this was not immediately after I pulled it out of the dryer -- it was after I had started to lay it out to take pictures and noticed that one of the 21 bees on this blanket was missing a wing.

I can't figure out what I did to make this happen.  I first tried to re-knit it in pattern, with absolutely no luck.  So then I tried just to knit it back up. I did a little better then, but it's still not perfect.  This is a gift (obviously!) and I considered not giving it, but then I decided that, out of 21 bees, less than half of one was a mess.  My friend can just position some baby body part over that one bee, and it will be fine!

Right?  (I'm right, right?)

The pattern is the Buzzy Bee Baby Blanket, knit out of Knit Picks Swish Worsted.  Ravved here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Oh, Hi!

Sorry for the blog silence.  Despite the fact that I am knitting a baby blanket for a baby due this week, there really hasn't been much knitting.  The non-gender-specific blanket is the Baby Buzzy Bee Blanket.  I bought the kit from Knitpicks, because it came with Swish, such a great baby yarn.  The pattern itself is a tiny bit problematic. English is not the designer's native language, so some things are a little quirky (to quote someone on Ravelry!).  For example, charts are called "schemes," and borders "planks." There is also one big error in the pattern, which is pretty obvious if you're an experienced knitter -- in one place, it says all wrong-side stitches are knit. This is not true, and the instructions later on are correct -- you "knit the knits and purl the purls" on the wrong side.  Nevertheless, it's a very cute pattern, and I'm about 2/3 done.

I've been slowed down somewhat by the summer heat -- it was 105 here one day last week, which is hot anywhere, and particularly so in Iowa.  But my main obstacle to knitting has been the fact that I am in the midst of buying a townhouse!  It's brand-new, and should be done at the end of the month. I expect to close and move in mid-August. So I'm starting to pack up and imagine window coverings.  Luckily, this move is less than 10 miles, which will be much easier (and cheaper!) than my last move from San Antonio!

Next time -- knitting pictures!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This and That, part 2

Read THIS!  I spent the weekend reading Ann Shayne's new novel, Bowling Avenue.  It was wonderful!  It's full of great characters -- I identified with almost all of them, even the ones I didn't particularly like--with an equally great story, a flood, and even a little knitting subplot.  It's simultaneously funny, sad, and bittersweet.  You know, I'm a medical librarian and the word "self-published" strikes fear, or perhaps just derision, in my heart, but I guess Ann's self-published book proves that I should be a little more open-minded (although I'm still not sure about self-published medical texts....).   I bought the Kindle version from Amazon, but it's also available in print from Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com (there's a Nook version, too).  And if you have a favorite independent bookstore, they can order if for you.  If you're not sure, you can read the first chapter for free -- if you're like me, you'll order it even before you're done with the chapter.  Go do that now, and then I'll tell you about some knitting.  I'll wait.

Now, quickly before you start reading Ann's book -- remember long ago, at the end of my last post, I mentioned THAT gorgeous Tussah silk yarn I had ordered from DyeForYarn in Germany?  I ordered it especially for Fragile Heart (Rav link, which seems to be the only link available) -- it was the yarn the designer used.  The yarn is gorgeous, and a really good buy (about $35 for over 750 yards of lace-weight, and only $5 shipping!)  I will definitely order from them again.

The pattern was well-written, too, and I really enjoyed knitting it.  If you knit lace, it was both interesting and easy, if you know what I mean.  I was never bored (except during the picot bind-off!), but I was never frustrated, either.  The shawl is beaded, which slowed me down a bit, but it was worth it.  I used size 6/0 clear A/B beads that were lined in copper.  The designer, Boo Knits, has several other pretty shawls that I may need to knit, too.

Fragile Heart

Blocking, rather unevenly....

Fragile Heart

Closer up, although it's still hard to see the beads.

Here's my Ravelry post, if you want more details.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

This and That

I wouldn't say I exactly have startitis, but I have started several new projects recently.

Back in March, during the Honey Cowl craze, I cast on for one, using two colors of madelinetosh pashmina -- Betty Draper's Blues (the same color, although different yarn base, that I used for my sister's Saroyan) and Mica.  I haven't gotten far on it, but I'm going to a conference soon, so I need some straightforward knitting.


One of my problems is that I'm not sure that it wouldn't look better with the colors reversed, so that the lighter blue (Mica) is at the edge.  Part of me is pretty sure it won't make much difference!  I'd be happy to hear opinions on this....


I've also cast on for a pair of socks.  I'm taking part in Anne Hanson's Bare Naked Knitspot.  I will say that I am not good about knitting the pattern of the month with that month's yarn.  But I cast on immediately in April for the Waffle Creams socks with the natural merino/alpaca yarn that came with the pattern. (No links yet because it's the latest club project.)

Usually, I knit socks on size 1 needles on around 66 stitches.  These were 68 stitches, but the fabric on size 1s was too loose, so I frogged and switched to size 0 needles.  The fabric was beautiful, but when I got almost to the heel, I tried the sock on, and although I could get it on, it was too small, and I knew the instep would be an issue.  So I frogged again (although I wish I had taken a picture first -- the fabric rally was gorgeous!) and cast on for the next size up, 76 stitches.  The good news is that I definitely have the cable, over 7 stitches with a twist in the middle, down pat, even without a cable needle!  This will be another conference project.

The yarn is actually a little more tan than this....

And finally -- a while back I ordered a skein of silk lace yarn all the way from Germany.  It's Tussah Silk from DyeForYarn and the yarn-maker was in Fuerth, a suburb of Nuernberg (Nuremberg).  Eons ago, I was an Army wife, and we lived in another Nuernberg suburb.  The big PX and commissary for our region was in Fuerth, and I spent much time there. Obviously it was meant to be!

But I think I'll wait until next time to show you more about this one....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another finished object!

I know -- you are all amazed at this!  This one has actually been finished since April 9, but it was a gift so I had to make sure it was received before I posted.


The same day that Simon went to kitty heaven, Home Ec Workshop had their anniversary party/sale.  As you have probably figured out, I'm on a real madtosh kick right now, and while I was fondling the tosh dk in Betty Draper's Blues, it occurred to me that my sister would love that color.  The friend standing next to me suggested that I really should knit something for her, sort of in Simon's memory, so I bought two skeins, not really knowing what I would use it for.

Looking at my Ravelry queue, I realized that Saroyan has been there for a long, long time and would be perfect for the yarn, especially since the size is easily customizable for the amount of yarn you've got.  This was a fun, quick knit -- there was enough stockinette to make it go fast, but not so much to bore me.  And the leaves were really fun to knit!  You can see the details on my Rav page.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Imperfect FO

As soon as I saw Jared Flood's Juneberry, I knew I had to make.  I knew it had to be red.  A while back, I bought 3 skeins of madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Amber Trinket.  Amber Trinket is an interesting color -- if you go through a lot of Ravelry stashes (sorry - link will only work if you are a Rav member.  But why aren't you?), you'll see the sometimes it looks red, sometimes it looks brown or orange or copper.  Mine was definitely a deep red.  Eventually I realized that Juneberry and Amber Trinket were made for each other.

I cast on on New Year's Eve and finished a couple weeks ago.  I do love my Juneberry, but if I had to do it over, I would definitely use size 7 needles, not size 8.  The fabric, which in places is supposed to be very open, is a little TOO open.  And even though I had 600 yards of yarn for a pattern that called for 480, I ran out.  (This is because of my incredibly loose knitting - it's not a problem with the pattern.) Because Amber Trinket is such a unique and unmatchable color, I didn't even try.  Instead, I used madtosh Vintage in Trodden, which is composed of shades of tan and light brown, with the occasional rosy smudge.  It goes well with my version of Amber Trinket, but I'd rather I didn't have to use it!  I keep thinking about how, when I used to cross-stitch, errors were said to "make it your own."  But I think this is just a little too much "my own"!

This WAS a fun knit, though! I enjoyed the many, many bobbles, and even learned how to knit backwards so I didn't have to constantly flip my knitting over for each bobble.

Please excuse the unwoven ends that are VERY noticeable in these pictures.  
Also, after I looked at these, I went back and re-pinned the points to make them more even!




Ooh!  There's some sort of stain on my blocking quilt. Sorry!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy and Sad

First, the Happy:

I can finally share my stealth-knitting project, Wool Leaves.  I really love how this turned out!

Wool Leaves

The yarn is Madelinetosh tosh dk, held doubled.  The color is called Calligraphy, and is a gorgeous neutral -- sort of parchment with hints of tan and grey.  The blanket is for Bezzie and her new baby girl.*  I wanted something kind of girly, without being pink (which I realize is weird for me).  I'm really happy with how this turned out, even after knitting it the equivalent of twice -- first, I knit half on size 10 needles, which was too tight, then almost half on 11s, which was too loose.  10.5's finally seemed just right, though!

And now the Sad:

I'm sure many of you remember Simon, who lived with me for years, first while my sister and I lived together, and then after she got married. Simon and my Harley were the best of friends, so we didn't split them up until I moved from San Antonio to Iowa City.


Anyway, at the ripe old age of almost 18, after having been on heart meds for at least 12 of those years, Simon succumbed to old age on Friday.  This wasn't a real surprise, but was still heart-breaking for both my sister and me.  I'm glad I got to spend some special time with Simon at Christmastime.

*  Just in case you wondered, I don't knit for every pregnant blogger I read.  I met, and knitted with, Bezzie during her brief time in San Antonio.  In fact, we even worked on the same campus!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Couple FOs

I spent the last week at my mom's. She's doing really great and I could see her doing better and better daily. I knew she was feeling better on Friday, when I found her in the kitchen, mixing up a batch of cookies. No big deal, she said -- they're bar cookies! Today, she started cardiac rehab and also got to start driving again, so that really makes things more normal for her.

Being at Mom's gave me time to knit a couple small, much-needed projects.

First, Thor got his sweater.  Here he's sitting on my mom's lap -- much to my niece's chagrin, Mom is his very favorite person!

It's a little big. I think I may have to make him another one in a non-acrylic yarn that keeps its shape better. The patter is Little Penny and the yarn is Caron Simply Soft. I adapted the pattern to better fit Thor's neck, shoulders, and chest which are all just about the same size. The shawl-style collar helped with that. I also trimmed the leg holes with a couple rows of single crochet in navy blue. Details here.

And after washing a few dishes, I realized that Mom desperately needed new dishcloths.  She likes the Ballband Dishcloths I've made for her, but hers are in tatters, so I whipped out a new one Friday evening/Saturday morning.

Ballband Dishcloth

Details here.

And -- the stealth project is blocking right now!!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

What I've been up to

Sorry for the long silence!  Life has been both boring and hectic.  Boring because in winter, there is no way I can get a decent picture of my knitting anywhere in my house, so I feel dumb posting knitting pictures posts without photos.  Also, I've finished a major stealth knitting project.  Once it's washed, blocked, and mailed away, I'll show y'all some pictures (although they may very well be dark and gloomy, for the previously stated reason).

And hectic because I've been back and forth between my mom's house and mine (220 miles each way) several times in the last couple weeks.  On February 15, Mom had open-heart surgery to repair two leaky heart valves.  She had a triple bypass plus mitral valve repair in 2003, and really felt fine.  But she went to a new cardiologist (her original one died of cancer a while back, and she didn't like his replacement, so this is HIS replacement) who saw something wonky with her mitral and tricuspid valves.  He said she's in such good physical condition that they weren't bothering her yet, but would be.  He was afraid that the mitral valve might have to be replaced, but the surgeon was able to repair it instead.

Since her surgery in 2003, Mom has been going to the gym three times a week.  For the most part, her recovery this time has been much faster, and I think it's because she's in such good shape.  We heard from more than one person in the hospital that they really couldn't believe her age.  Her only problem this time is that her heart wants to beat really slowly.  It was very slow for the first few days after surgery, then sped up to a more normal rate (low to mid-60s).  But this week, it has slowed back down to around 50, causing her to be tired and have a horrible headache.  She may yet need to have a pacemaker, but that is very minor surgery compared to what she's had.

So -- I'm at Mom's right now, and will spend the week here.  After I get home, I'll block the stealth project, and show it to you.  And since I have knitting with me, maybe there will be pictures of that, too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Catching up

Mom, my brother, my niece, and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's in San Antonio, at my sister's.  I got to see my family and a few friends, and ate quite a lot of Tex-Mex. (Yes, we have Mexican restaurants in Iowa City.  Some of the owners are even Mexican-American.  No, it's not the same.)

On New Year's Even we went to Pico de Gallo for dinner.  They had decorated for the holidays with rows of silver papel picado alternating with strings of colored lights.  It was so amazingly sparkly -- I may have to do something like it next Christmas!

Silver papel picado at Pico de Gallo

Silver papel picado at Pico de Gallo (and Sarah)
That's my niece, under the papel picado.

These pictures really don't do it justice -- too much sparkle!

They also had a beautiful Dia de los Muertos-themed tree:

Pico de Gallo's Christmas tree


I almost called this post "Cat Tales," because I've got two great stories, including one with pictures!

Pictureless story:
One night last week, I woke up around 4:00 a.m., because I thought I heard kittens.  Once I was awake, I didn't hear kittens anymore, but I did realize that neither Harley or Alice were in bed with me.  Although Harley comes and goes, Alice always sleeps with me, usually in a manner that makes it impossible to move my legs.

So I went downstairs -- two floors -- and as I stepped into the living room, I saw Harley scurrying away from the laundry room door.  Alice loves the laundry room, but isn't allowed in it -- she has to back out from behind the washer and dryer, and I worry that something might happen.  She's pretty good about staying out, although she always watches me closely while I'm in there.  I guess she had slipped in as I finished up my laundry the evening before.  Sure enough, I opened the door and she darted out, and ran across the room to Harley, who rather frantically licked her head.  It was so cute -- Harley acts like she doesn't like Alice, or at least that she's too energetic for her, but apparently she had been worried!  In fact, we all went upstairs, and in the morning, instead of hanging out with me while I put on my makeup, Harley was sacked out on the guest room bed.  I think she had been sitting in front of the laundry room, worrying, all night!

With pictures:
Despite not being a kitten anymore, Alice still like to chase her own tail.  Here she is, chasing it across the back of the couch.

Alice chasing her tail

And finally -- not a story, just a picture.  I know a lot of you remember Simon, my sister's cat who lived with me in San Antonio (that's him as my avatar over on the right).  Simon is almost 18 years old, and has had a bad heart since he was about 5.  He's definitely become an old man kitty and spends a lot of his day asleep.  However, the smell of chicken still perks him up!  Here he is, trying to get a bite of my Taco Cabana chicken fajita bowl --

Simon would like some chicken

Maybe next time I'll have some knitting to show you....