Monday, January 29, 2007

The Power of a Heart

I have a friend and colleague who is very sick. She has been out of school since we returned from winter break and her illness has been a mystery. She is currently in the hospital for the second time and I have been at a loss for what to do for her. She does not feel like reading much and although she is a knitting friend of mine, I know that she also doesn't have the focus to sit and knit. I've brought her homemade chicken stock and written cards and have generally been feeling inadequate in the support arena. But then I came across this pattern for a heart-shaped sachet knit out of mitred squares. I had never knit mitered squares and knitting with size 2 needles freaked me out a bit (nope, never made socks...), but I knew this was it. I was going to knit my friend these hearts until she got better.

I have now completed my first sachet and am on my second, but let's just say there was a big learning curve. I misread the pattern, I didn't understand the pattern, I saw things in the pattern which, on second reading, were not actually there. Much frogging and reknitting occurred. Through my frustration, the perfect nature of this project suddenly was clear. I couldn't really visualize how this thing I was knitting was supposed to materialize before me, just as my friend was on a long journey with no clear purpose or endpoint.

But how about this: Yesterday we found out that there is a current prognosis for her illness and it is treatable, and today I finished my first heart. I'm making a second (and probably a few will become Valentines for others) because as far as I'm concerned, this little heart worked some miracles.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Shrug That Stole My Sanity…

…or how to make knitting-for-pleasure more annoying than your day job in 20 simple steps.

1. See pattern for shrug in Interweave Knits. Instantly fall in love with the idea of knitting a shrug because it will be “simple” and not require as much knitting and piecing as a sweater.

2. While visiting LYS in search of suitable substitute yarn for Interweave’s $800-a-ball used for shrug, fall in love with Cascade Pastanza no. 028 (teal). Be happy about this because of your extensive use of Cascade 220 and feel secure in the knowledge that this yarn will be a pleasure to knit up. Know at that moment that shrug MUST be knit in no. 028, no matter how difficult it may be to determine correct gauge.

3. Purchase all of the yarn that the shop has in 028 (3 balls.)

4. Sit yarn aside and go crazy making holiday gifts.

5. January! Make tea, pop in a Netflix, and sit back to start knitting shrug. Realize that Cascade Pastanza is not 220 yards of yarn (like Cascade…um…220) and convince boyfriend to join you on a rainy day excursion to LYS, praying that they have miraculously found three more balls of your yarn in the appropriate dye lot.

6. Search you LYS for more 028. Ask for help, pull other colors of yarn out of shelves hoping that some 028 fell down in the back.

7. Purchase 3 balls of Cascade Pastanza in 072. When boyfriend “helpfully” inquires about whether this will be enough yarn, stare fixedly at him and mutter “oh yes….it WILL be enough.”

8. Prepare to knit shrug. It is VERY important that at this point you do not check the web for shrug pattern errata.

9. Knit shrug with new 10.5 buddha needles that you have been dying to play with. When your cast on stitches barely fit on said needles, knit with them anyway because the buddhas are just so FUN. Continue knitting with short needles even after you have doubled stitch number after increasing for sleeves and now have to force stitches down on the right hand needle in order to complete each row.

10. Finish about ¾ of the back of shrug. Realize that you do not have enough teal yarn (even though you knit the ribbed hem in brown to save teal.) Really really really think that you’ve only used 2 of the 3 balls of teal yarn and rip house apart looking for the missing ball.

11. Decide to use brown yarn to add a stripe through the middle of the back, thus saving more teal. Measure carefully a number of times to determine how much of the back to frog, how big to make the stripe.

12. Frog. Knit stripe. Go back to knitting in straight teal…approaching the end of the back. Run out of teal yarn.

13. Measure back and realize that it is currently (in its unfinished state) 13 inches. Stare for a long while at pattern which says that back should be 10” finished. Consider just having a very big, baggy back to the shrug but realize that you don’t have enough teal yarn anyway.

14. Re-convince yourself that you are missing a ball of teal yarn and search house. Finally deduce that the shrug ATE the extra ball of teal yarn while you weren’t looking.

15. Reassess where you will need to put the stripe, frog 10” of knitting and start again. Finish knitting back and start on ribbed cuff. Misread pattern and convince yourself that you have screwed up the length at the very beginning of the shrug. Check web for listed errata.

16. Learn that what you had misread was actually correct (because you, um, misread it) but that there is a different part of the pattern that was incorrect. The mistake would have had you increasing stitches on BOTH sides of the sweater in the (what else) beginning of the shrug.

17. Freak out. Employ patient boyfriend to hold knitting in various positions so that you can decide if one side is actually longer than the other. Do not listen to his opinion that the shrug is, in fact, OK. He doesn’t even know what the hell a shrug is, anyway.

18. Accuse boyfriend of pulling one side of shrug too taut so that you can not get a correct measurement. Decide to sew seams together anyway because you are so flipping tired of knitting this shrug.

19. Realize that measurements were correct, you had luckily misread the misprinted portion of the pattern so all is fine. Prepare to finish piece by knitting sleeve cuffs.

20. Decide to forgo the girly lace cuffs for a slightly flared, ribbed design and settle in to make this final part of the shrug up because a slightly flared rib cuff will just be so much EASIER than a lace cuff…

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Yup. That about sums it up today.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My first etsy sale arrived at its destination safe and sound! I suppose the miles of bubble wrap helped to ensure this. I have been in such a great mood all day because this first sale was so great. Bolstered by the good feedback from this first sale, I felt motivated to pull out the beads today. I've been kicking around the idea to do something red for the upcoming v-day, but truthfully this necklace was made with my first sale in mind. So, this one is in honor of a great transaction and hopefully many more to come!

The shrug is also coming along nicely. I'll post a photo soon. I've worked in a brown stripe to hopefully save some of the teal yarn and now I just think the back and sleeves are going to come out a little wider than they should have. Why, oh why, even when I count everything out do the measurements still get wonky?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

My First Etsy Sale

Woot woot! My first etsy sale occured today and this crummy little photo (it's nowhere near Good Photo Takin' Time) shows the package ready and waiting to be shipped out. Andrew thinks I'm going a little overboard with the bubble wrap and bubble enveloping, but hey, this is my first baby heading out and it needs to be safe! Thanks, L! I hope you love your necklace! And here's the First Sale Necklace if anyone wants to see.

Monday, January 8, 2007

OK, I don't really have anything interesting to post today but I had to put a new photo up so that I didn't keep seeing myself larger than life when I opened my blog. Eep. I've recently pulled the large tote bag above and one of the little pouches from a shop that I was consigning them at...I thought I'd give them a go over at the etsy shop. They'll be up as soon as I am home during daylight hours (!) to take some good closeups. The bags themselves are constructed of new materials, but the flower designs on the front are some vintage embroidered napkins and table runners that I found at a yard sale this past spring. The embroidery is really beautiful - - a nubby little stitch that looks like a bunch of French knots (the entire design is worked like this!) and I just thought they needed a new life.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

I got my clips from matthea yesterday. They rock. I got these sweet little matryoshka clips and a set with little bubbles. I'm a big fan of hair clips and these will be worn often. Thanks, Matthea!!

In other crafting news my current knitting project is at a crucial point. It's a long story, but a common one (only so many skeins in the shop, fell in love with the color and thought that I could magically stretch the yarn into extra yardage or something,) and now I fear that I won't have enough teal yarn to make the body of the shrug. Oh, did I mention that it was a shrug? So I'm going to have a bunch of the brown left and I thought I'd put in a sporty stripe. Of course, the stripe needs to be in the middle and I'm a good bid past the middle (my delusions of making the yarn last longer than it really could...) so I'm going to need to frog. I need to be in the right mindset to frog and this, my friends, is the delicate balance between me and my knitting projects. The shrug is teetering precariously close to the edge of turning into a UFO and yet I really, really want a teal and brown shrug. Tonight, I shall frog.

In other news I just started rehearsals today for the current community theatre production I'm in, My Favorite Year. I love the beginnings of shows. So much energy and excitement and renewal of friendships...which is all well and good...until the sleep deprivation hits and we all get a little nutty. That, of course, is when the REAL fun begins:)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Critter hair clips are up in the shop! I've made some clips with sheep and these are the frogs. Have a look!

In other news, it's a balmy 75 degrees here today when it should be in the 30s. We got some gardening done (?!) and felt motivated to do some spring cleaning. I suppose that, like the ferns that are popping up in our yard and the forsythia blooming, we can't help being influenced by the weather. Oh well, now that the gardening is done, I'll go take down the Christmas tree....

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Here is the latest crafting adventure. Yesterday was spent making about 50 little shrink plastic critters which will become some hair clips for the shop, some buttons for my donation to the Sampler this month, and some thank-you magnets for any orders I get in the shop. I love seeing the rows of these little guys - birds, frogs, sheep. I also like that the birds look like they seem to think that they are a little bit better than all of the other animals. This view is actually of the underside of each critter, from the top they look like they were set in resin or something because you look through the clear plastic to see the image on the bottom. Unfortunately, I noticed that I photographed the underside after rushing to get a picture in with the waning light. Not to mention my batteries died at the most unhelpful moment. So tonight I'll get out some toxic E6000 and finish these all up...then stick 'em in the shop. I think I just heard the birds telling the sheep that they think they'll be sold first...

made. by k.d.