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Jun. 30th, 2008

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*brushing off cobwebs*

Holy cow. It's been nearly 3 months since I last updated here! *hangs head* Darn me for getting so caught up in American Idol. LOL

Well, just because my keyboard hasn't been busy here doesn't mean my knitting needles have been stilled! Far from it, in fact. I've actually been doing a ton of charity knitting. While my knitting group hasn't exactly taken off like I had hoped, it has at least given me the motivation to do quite a bit of knitting for charity. When I started, I had never before knit for charity. Now I've completed several projects for it!

To date, I have knitted:

* 3 prayer cloths for a charity called "Prayers for Soldiers"

* 4 squares for Warm Up America

* 4 washcloths to sell at a local event called Festival of Caring (proceeds to go to charity)

At the suggestion of the lovely Steph, I have been knitting washcloths to sell. I have been very, very happy with them. I've basically been using the prettiest cotton yarn I could find and just knitting a simple pattern with a garter stitch border and a stockinette stitch body. The nice thing about making these washcloths is that I can knock off a washcloth in just a few hours, which has allowed me to be fairly prolific in making them. I'm already in the midst of making another one.

I still have quite a bit of yarn left over from the washcloths I've already made, so I'll probably make more from them. I'm thinking that for the rest (meaning the ones where I'm reusing yarn), I will switch from stockinette stitch to either seed or moss stitch. Just for a little variety. The woman I showed the washcloths to (who told me about Festival of Caring in the first place) was very impressed. They do look gorgeous, thanks mostly to the yarn! (Who knew good old Lily Sugar & Cream put out such beautiful colored yarn?)

Funnily enough, the charity knitting is not the real reason I felt compelled to return to my humble knitting abode. It's... wait for it... SOCK YARN.
Specifically, NEW sock yarn.

If you subscribe to KnitPicks, you're probably already seen the e-mail that trumpeted the new sock yarn: Imagination. Hand-painted sock yarn. Superwash Merino Wool, Alpaca, Nylon. BEAUTIFUL colors... and just $5/hank. Yes, folks, I am in love. I Covet this yarn. (I still love sock knitting, yes!) Take a look-see here: http://www.knitpicks.com/Imagination+Hand+Painted+Sock+Yarn_YD5420173.html

And then there's KnitPick's new kettle-dyed colors of its Essential sock yarn. I've never bought any KnitPicks yarn, including Essential. I'm thinking this really ought to change. You can't argue with the prices, and I've heard lots of good things about their yarn. Especially now that I've seen these new colors. My goodness, they're gorgeous. I think my favorite is the Soot Kettle color--it's this gorgeous, inky blue-black color. Here are the new Essential colors: http://www.knitpicks.com/Essential+Kettle+Dyed+Sock+Yarn_YD5420175.html

Of course, I still have to use the new sock yarn given to me by my beloved Steph. (BTW, I meant to tell you this long ago, but I actually got the courage to try winding the greenish yarn into a ball. I put the hank around my knees, and believe it or not it went much more smoothly than did the first one!) I've finished one of the socks I was recently knitting. I may take a little break with those socks just to start knitting with one of these balls. They are calling to me. They sit on my computer desk and give me their siren song. You knooooooow you want to knit me... just look at my beauuuuuutiful colors... remember how sooooooooft I am? Yes, yes, YES! I remember. I've been trying to resist. I don't think I'll be able to resist much longer. Especially since... ahem... I went to JoAnn's the other day and bought 3 new sets of sock needles. Yes, I now have free sock needles. (Yes, I now also own 5 sets of sock needles. I haven't discounted the possibility of insanity.)

Apr. 7th, 2008

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Finished stuff, charity knitting, and other knitterly things

Ah, and already my title is misleading. I have no photos of "finished stuff" just yet. I'm just gonna blab about 'em. Sorry!
Let the blabbing commenceCollapse )
All right. I'm done blabbing. This post has gotten completely out of hand. I should probably cut it. Yep, done!

Mar. 31st, 2008

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Some FPs

I've actually had some of these FPs for quite some time, but only this morning got around to taking photos of many of them.
Click Here for finished projectsCollapse )
I may have already mentioned that Eric's socks are done. I just have yet to snap a photo while they are on his feet. The first time he wore them, he said they were really uncomfortable (probably because they're cotton and hadn't been washed, so they were still fairly stiff). Since then they have been washed a couple of times, and he seems to like them better now.

That concludes today's installment of "projects I have known." ;)

Mar. 4th, 2008

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Too many WIPs / My New Knitting Group

I am sad and sorry to say that I think I'm becoming That Knitter Who Starts Too Many Projects.

I now have the following WIPs:

1) Kiersten's Pinwheel Sweater. I have only one sleeve left to knit. You'd think this wouldn't be such a hardship, but I can't seem to tear myself away from socks enough to start (and finish) that sleeve. I ought to do it soon, though, before Kiersten no longer has a need of a sweater!

2) Eric's black socks. At least I'm able to see the finish line on these. I'm on sock no. 2, we're past the heel, and we're working on the foot. (Look at me, writing "we're" as if there's more than one person knitting these socks. Guess I have a mouse in my pocket?) This is my go-to project at church.

3) My black-and-yellow socks, also known as my bumblebee socks. ;) I finished sock no. 1. Sock no. 2 will be started once I finish Eric's socks.

4) Gryffindor-colored drop-stitch scarf. Why did I start this?? *sigh* I'll tell you why. I had the Reynolds Lite-Lopi yarn, right? 2 or 3 skeins gifted from Steph (I used to know how many, as I just recently did a little re-organizing of the stash, but I've already forgotten!) and 2 more I purchased during our Columbus yarn crawl. I decided to use it for scarves for a couple teenagers at church who are exchange students from Taiwan and South Korea. These teenagers were raving over the Gryffindor mittens I made for my sister for Christmas, and it made me want to make them something Gryffindor colored also. Sooo... the trouble with this yarn is it's EXTREMELY rough and scratchy. Fortunately I read on Ravelry that if you soak it in water mixed with hair conditioner, it will soften the yarn and make it much nicer. So that's what I did. I skeined the yarn (that was fun!) and soaked each skein in lukewarm water mixed with some heavy-duty hair conditioner for 20 minutes. Then I hung each skein from a clothing hanger to let it dry.

Once the yarn was dry, it suddenly became irresistible to me. And I just HAD to start knitting with it. It really does feel quite nice now, and I love the way it looks in the drop-stitch pattern. I got this bizarre idea that it would be a "quick knit," and while it will undoubtedly be quicker than either the sleeve for the sweater or any of the socks... it's not like I was finishing it in an hour. DUH, Nicole.

5) Another set of socks for a birthday gift. We'll just leave it at that as far as the recipient. As to the yarn... oh goodness. It's Lana Grossa's 100 Meilenweit Fantasy yarn. I purchased it from the LYS a couple weeks ago after we received our income tax refund. I also purchased a couple more skeins of sock yarn (yes, I am definitely addicted!)just for the heck of it. I love the Lana Grossa colorway. It's a self-striping/self-patterning yarn with the colors of navy, white, and dark grey. The white is part of a white-and-blue variegation that looks like Fair Isle when it's knitted. Then there are stretches of navy and grey alone that turn into gorgeous stripes. I am SO in love with this yarn and this variegation that I may have to buy tons more in the future. I know, not what I need LOL...

So. That's a total of FIVE WIPs. I know that for a lot of knitters that's not a lot. I've heard of far more. But this is an all-time high for me. I don't like the way it feels... oh shoot. I just remembered...

6) A Praying Hands washcloth. This is actually being knit as a Prayer Cloth for an overseas soldier. This is my current charity project. My first-ever charity project, I might add. I'm very happy to be knitting this. It is not only my first charity project, but it's also what I knit when my brand spanking new knitting club meets at church. (That's another topic that I will address shortly.)

So correction: a total of SIX WIPs. It feels like entirely too many. It didn't feel so bad when I had the sweater and one pair of socks. I felt a little silly adding on a second pair of socks, but I rationalized that alternating between pairs of socks was a good way to keep from getting struck with SSS. The charity project, I had no trouble with--how awful would I feel, showing up at a Knitting for Charity group knitting a pair of socks for my hubby or a sweater for my daughter? The scarf and the second pair of socks were probably completely overboard. However, the birthday socks were begun was because I realized the deadline for completing them was sooner than I thought.

I guess the only thing that was completely irrational to cast on was the scarf. There was really no good reason for starting that project aside from a desire to use the newly softened yarn.

Ah well... you live, you learn, I guess. I definitely won't be casting on for anything else until I've completed at least two of these projects!

Now then... my knitting group. I am so excited about it. As I mentioned in my "life LJ" and may have mentioned here, I decided to start a knitting-for-charity group at my church. Number one, I really wanted to start knitting for charity, and number two, I thought it would be fun to get people at church involved. I was certain that there were knitters at church who weren't quite as brazen as me (always knitting in the nursery during the Sunday school hour, LOL!) but who would enjoy using their craft for God's glory.

At my first meeting there were only 2 people aside from me, and both of them were teenagers. Both of them had also never knitted before. (I told the congregation when I made an announcement that I would be happy to teach anyone who wanted to learn to knit.) So... I taught both of them how to cast on and how to knit. It was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. I was actually a little nervous about teaching, as I had never done so before. But it was so much fun.

The next meeting, which was just this past Sunday, one of the two girls from last week came back, plus her mother. I had helped the girl knit a second row (she had managed to knit one row herself during the intervening week) during church, and she was on fire. :) I then taught her mother to knit. She was a crocheter, so she caught on very quickly--and was adorably rather surprised at catching on so fast.

At both meetings I had an established knitter come by on her way to another church event and express a desire to join our group, and I encouraged her to do so. Meanwhile during the second meeting another teenager (who was there for youth band rehearsal, which Eric runs) came by and told me she thought knitting looked like fun and wanted to learn. I encouraged her to come to the next meeting, and she said she probably would.

I never thought it would be so much fun to teach people to knit, but it's been an absolute blast. I'm also excited about getting these people to start knitting for charity, which they also seem interested in. I think this is going to be such a fantastic group. :)

Feb. 5th, 2008

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Sock Binge

I'm gorging myself on socks.

I've finally finished sock no. 1 for Eric. (Sorry, no picture. And not for lack of effort either. My camera phone evidently hates me at the moment. I'll have to ask him to model the sock--I might get a better pic.)

I'm happy to report that he really, really likes it. Not only that, but he really seemed to appreciate the effort involved. He was examining the lace panel and saying, "This looks so complicated! Wow, this must have really taken a lot of work!" As is my wont, I demurred, saying things like "it wasn't really that complicated" and "I just followed the pattern" and "it was just a simple 4-row pattern repeat." (You know how that kind of praise embarrasses me.)

He examined the sock before he tried it on, saying, "It looks kind of big." My heart stopped. I said, "No, no, no... it can't be too big. If it's too big, I'll cry." He laughed and said, "Oh, no. I'll have to lie." But then he tried it on, and it fit perfectly. He thought it would stretch more. I said, "It's cotton/nylon yarn. It doesn't really stretch that much."

So he really likes it. *cue dancing* I'm so excited. I can't wait to make the second sock. Except...

... that I also couldn't wait to start using some of my new sock yarn. So... yes. I'm weak. Instead of casting on for Eric's second sock, I cast on for the yellow-and-black striped socks I'm making for myself.

In my defense: Eric encouraged me to "make something for myself."
In my rebuttal: This was after I had already cast on. (Admittedly, it was also after I wound up frogging the whole thing because it was too small... more on that later.)

The conversation went something like this:

Eric: I really like that sock you made.
Me: I'm so happy you like it! That makes me want to start the second sock.
Eric: No, you should go ahead and make something for yourself first.
Me: Technically I already have. I did make the fingerless gloves for myself.
Eric: True... (fades off)

So, being a basically selfish person (*sigh*), I went ahead and cast on this morning for the sock, again.

I'm a bit worried about this sock. I shouldn't be, at this point. I've made enough socks to think that I should be able to finagle my way around socks, even if the pattern is a bit wonky. And this pattern (from Charmed Knits) is... well, I shouldn't say "wonky." It's just that the sizes seem a bit inflexible. Medium and Large sizes are for feet that are 7 1/4 inches and 9 1/4 inches long. My feet are actually about 9 inches long. (Except that the feet of the socks I was wearing yesterday are 8 inches long... but they're not too short... I don't understand????) My calf circumference (the bottom part of my calf, about where the top of the sock would land) is 8 inches. Medium and Large? 7 and 8 inches. So I was already figuring I would make the size Medium, since that was shorter than my foot and I really don't want my socks to be too short (I figured I should be able to eyeball the foot length anyway), but that would make my socks too narrow around the leg. What to do, what to do... ?

I decided to take a deep breath, go with the size Medium, and hope for the best. I was hoping for the best using size 2 needles instead of the size 1 called for in the pattern, because my size 1 needles, as you know, are teeeeeeeeny and too flexible and prone to breaking. (I guess I could get some bamboo size 1s, but you know, I wanted to start my socks NOW.) I figured that, at the least, perhaps knitting the Medium size in a size needle larger than called for would (maybe, hopefully) add a little to the sock's circumference.

Alas, it was not to be. I finished the ribbing of the sock only to think, repeatedly, "This sock looks WAY too skinny." I thought I would check my gauge, but the gauge instructions are for stockinette stitch. Checking the ribbing gauge wasn't likely to do much good.

So I kept on. After 1 inch of ribbing, I started my first yellow stripe. I knit 4 rounds of yellow, then was ready to check my gauge. "32 stitches = 4 inches," the pattern said. Having not quite mastered the art of measuring gauge in a circularly knitted piece, I did the math and came up with 8 stitches to 1 inch. I took a deep breath and measured.

9 stitches to 1 inch.

Was I actually using too small a needle??

Okay, fine. If I'm going to do this thing properly, I'll do what needs to be done. The yellow stripe and black ribbing were frogged. Out came the size 3 needles. (Why does size 3 look so much BIGGER than size 2?) I began.

I got maybe 2 rounds done before I came to the realization that this was just not going to work. Using size 3 needles with this sock yarn hurt. My hands were cramping. My teeth were clenched behind my effort to poke my huge honkin' needle through the itty-bitty sock yarn stitches that seemed still itty-bitty despite being made with size 3 needles. I couldn't do this.


(An interesting note: Firefox does not consider "frogged" a misspelled word. I love that. Is there another use for this word, that is, more in the general population, that I'm not aware of? May have to consult dictionary... )

Geez. No wonder I'm not getting any work done.

Anyway. So about 2 hours of sock knitting, and nothing to show for it. Never mind. I'd attack the sock with fresh perspective in the morning.

I didn't think "in the morning" would mean "a little after 1 a.m." But... this is what may happen when you have a baby or toddler. Sometimes you keep odd hours.

I finally decided to try the size Large. Again, could always adjust for the foot. It seems to be the right size now. I'm truckin' right along again. Nearly finished with black ribbing; nearly ready for first yellow stripe.

I'm very sorry now that I did not take a picture of Eric's ill-fated original First Black Sock before I frogged it. It would have made a most amusing Ravelry entry, for sure! Gosh, in retrospect I am even gladder I did not attempt to feverishly knit a second sock before Christmas. Eric would have been stuck with the very unpleasant and thankless task of trying to show appreciation for socks that sucked. I can't believe I ever thought that monstrosity would have fit him. He thought the sock I just finished knitting might have been too big? I can't imagine what he would have thought had he seen that. "Hm, Nicole thinks I have the legs and feet of an elephant."

Wonder if you can delete projects from your Ravelry page? I'd now like to forget that particular sorry thing ever existed...
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For leftygirl02: Top 5 Projects, Patterns to Knit, and Steph's Projects

Top 5 Favorite Knitting Projects
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Top 5 Patterns I Want to Knit
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And, finally... Top 5 favorite leftygirl02 projects
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x-posted to lovewrite

Jan. 22nd, 2008

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New Stashy Stashy Stash!

Hee. Yeah, I'm still a bit loopy after Steph and my Yarn Crawl yesterday.

What fun we had! And what money I spent! (Actually, I didn't spend that much, but sometimes it felt that way! Most of my money was actually spent on books rather than yarn.)

First purchase was some sock yarn. I still have that black Patons Kroy yarn hanging over my head that I feel compelled to knit up. After deciding that attempting to knit more solid black socks would be pure folly, I thought I would make some striped socks, either yellow-and-black or white-and-black.

I wound up buying both. The yellow yarn: Lang Yarns Jawoll Superwash. ClickyCollapse )
The white yarn: RegiaClickyCollapse ) Next up: fighting the urge to cast on striped socks! ;)

My next purchase was needles. I bought a set of DPNs in size 8 and size 9. Both were metal. Combine these tools with the fantastic Steph's contribution of an aluminum 29-inch size 9 circular and my own 40-inch size 9 Addi Turbo, and I will be good to go in knitting up my mother's Pinwheel sweater in Vanna's Choice.

At our last stop of the day, I went a little bit crazier with the yarn purchases. (I blame the shop--the entire store's inventory was 25% off. How could I resist???) First, there were 2 skeins of Reynolds Lite-Lopi in Goldenrod.  ClickyCollapse ) A little explanation is probably necessary here. A couple at church has 2 girls staying with them as exchange students. One is from Taiwan, and the other is from South Korea. Anyway, they are very sweet young ladies who adore my children (so they're awesome already in my book! ;) ). One day while I was knitting in the nursery, they came to help with the childcare. They saw my knitting--I was working on my sister's House Mittens--and they went crazy. "Gryffindor colors! Harry Potter!" they squealed. Yes, they were Harry Potter fans. (More reasons to love them!) So I chatted with them for a bit and discovered that they adored the Gryffindor colors--and only Gryffindor. So it got me to thinking... wouldn't it be fun to surprise them with some Gryffindor-colored handknits? Steph had gifted me with Reynolds Lite-Lopi in Cordovan (a gorgeous burgundy color) several months ago. I thought, hey... combine that with a golden-yellow yarn, and I have the makings of some nice gifts for the girls. I found a dropped-stitch scarf pattern in my binder a few weeks ago (again courtesy of Steph--I swear, half my stash and patterns came from her!) and thought that would be the perfect quick-knit and fun gifts for the girls.

Finally, I decided to ask Kiersten (who came with us, as did Elena) if she would like to pick some yarn for the Fetching she is longing for. I tried to encourage her to choose one color, but she insisted on both blue and pink. She wants the cuff to be one color and the rest to be another. *sigh* I am a sucker, so I indulged her! (I also thought, "hey! Leftover yarn for socks!) She wound up with two balls of Plymouth Galway in a soft blue and a bubblegum pink. ClickyCollapse )

By the way, Kiersten and Elena were absolute angels. :) Kiersten did have one moment when she needed a little talking-to at one shop, since she was getting a wee bit rowdy; Elena had a moment herself when she had a bit of a meltdown at our final yarn shop (she was getting sooo sleepy). Other than that, though... they were outstanding. I was so proud. :)

I also purchased another copy of Charmed Knits, as my original copy got wet, then moldy. Ick!

If you'd like to read all about our yarny adventure... daily_fiber posted an account of it here. And very entertainingly, I might add. :)

Jan. 15th, 2008

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Currently knitting...

Hm. I see my last post was a week ago. For some reason I had forgotten that one and was thinking I hadn't posted in a few weeks. Oops. Oh well!

So... a few days ago I decided to quit fighting and gave in to the urge to begin my own Fetching. I'll happily blame my fellow members of Ravelry's At Home Moms group. They started a "Hands Off, It's Mine!" KAL, and I decided, down with guilt, I was gonna start a project for myself! I hasten to add here that I have never, ever knit anything for myself; every single one of my knitted items have gone to someone else. So I decided, the heck with feeling guilty, I was going for it.

I'm using the yarn I begged Mom to let me keep from our shopping excursion last week--Classic Elite Bazic Wool in Wintergreen. I love, love, love this yarn. I love how it feels, I love the color, I love how it looks on the needles, I love how it feels zipping through my fingers and my needles. The color always reminds me of celery, for some reason. It's such a sweet, happy, springy green.

I have just 4 rounds to go in the "18 rounds of k4 p1 ribbing," so I'm getting close to the finish line already for no. 1. I do love this pattern. For some reason it just doesn't get monotonous for me at all. I enjoy doing the cables, but I also enjoy just zipping along with the ribbing. Having only 1 purl stitch for every 4 knit stitches really seems to make it go more quickly and smoothly than your average ribbing.

Haven't given up on the Pinwheel Sweater for Kiersten, though! In fact, I'm on my last color. I'm thinking I may stay in this color (Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Blush Heather) until I run out of yarn. That will make a rather large last stripe, I know, but I may need the length. It still seems kinda short to me. I don't know... guess we'll see. I should ask Kiersten to let me wrap it around her again when she gets home.

I think it's going to have to be a while before I start this sweater for my mom. Well, for starters, I'm going to need the needles, lol. (Hey Steph, if you don't find anything in your area, maybe I'll find some at a YS if we go to Columbus!) But also, I'll definitely need a breather from the Pinwheel Sweater once I'm done with Kiersten's. I had forgotten how truly monotonous it can be to do the garter stitch edging. It's just... purling that many stitches makes me twitchy! To an extent I don't mind stockinette knitting (at least in the round!) if I can do it quickly. You know, if it's something that I can completely do mindlessly, without thinking about it, and hey, there's a round done. I can't really do that with purling. I'm not as fast a purler as I am a knitter, which is funny because back when I threw instead of picked, I purled quicker than I knitted! But my knitting has sped up to the point that purling seems almost agonizingly slow in comparison. Go figure.

I'm actually thinking that after I finish the Pinwheel Sweater I may try the Animal Crackers hat. The yarn is taking up so much of my stash space, lol (not that I'm complaining--many kisses to you, Steph, for sending it to me!!), and I really would like to try my hand at something with a chart. Since I'm still idly thinking about making that Red Wings sweater for Eric.

Of course at some point I need to return to the Lace Panel Socks. *sigh* I really hoped that the combination of the interesting pattern and the pretty yarn would help me with my sock knitting aspirations. But so far it hasn't. Well, that might be partially because I seem to keep screwing up the lace pattern. I probably need to rip it back and start over--and then pay closer attention to what I'm doing!! Also, I need to get more comfortable with the itty-bitty sock needles. They still sort of weird me out. Well, I guess it doesn't help that I actually broke one the last time I worked on my sock. (That might have something to do with my reluctance to return to the sock, now that I think about it...)

Finally, I saved the most interesting bit for last. I've been idly thinking for ages about starting a knitting group at church. Why a knitting group at church, when there's one that meets at the LYS? Oh, I dunno... I guess it's because I feel comfortable at church, and since I'm a very shy person, I thought it might be easier to get to know people at a knitting group held at church than at an LYS. Anyway, I've never done anything about it but idly think. As you know, I've also been thinking (a little more than idly) about how much I would love to knit for charity.

Well, while I was sitting in the church nursery this past Sunday, knitting my Fetching and thinking, it suddenly struck me--why not combine the two? Why not have a "knitting for charity" group at church? That would make it not only a group in which to gab, but a group that also does good works. I could (hopefully) help people who didn't know how to knit but wanted to learn; I could find out about some charities/groups/organizations in this area that would accept donated knitted items; I could even work with the LYS, which I believe has a yarn for charity program, whereby you can buy yarn, knit something to be donated to charity, then return the knitted item to the LYS and receive a refund for the yarn you bought (while they donate the item to charity). And, of course, then we could (hopefully) enjoy fellowship together and feel good about giving back to God by using our talents for people in need.

I happened to mention this idea to a couple of people who work in the nursery (a lady and her teenaged daughter), and their reaction was, "Cool! You could teach us to knit!" Hee. I ran it by Eric to see what he thought, and asked him if he thought it was crazy. He said, "Yes." I said, "Do you think it's not worthwhile?" He quickly responded, "No, I didn't say that. Anything undertaken for God's glory is crazy." (He has a point, and he knows of what he speaks--he started a teenagers group at church for kids who want to rock out in a Christian way!)

Now I just have to work up the nerve to ask our pastor about the feasibility of this idea, and work up the energy to go through with it. I am such a lazy person, it's really rather pathetic. But maybe this could be a way to change that... who knows?

Jan. 8th, 2008

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Yarn Shopping with Mom

So today was an interesting day. As you may recall from my previous post, my mother requested that I knit her a sweater like Elena has--in other words, the Adult Pinwheel Sweater. I suggested that she come here today (her day off), and we could go shopping for yarn.

Since my mom was pretty stymied as to what colors she wanted for her sweater, I thought I would have her take a look at the sweaters made by Ravelers. I thought that might give her an idea of what sorts of colors she might like for her sweater. She looked at 6 pages of photos of a variety of sweater color styles, only to decide that what she really wanted was a sweater that was as close to Elena's as possible!

We headed off to the local yarn shop. I had told her that the pricier yarns were there, but that we could go to JoAnn's if she preferred. Her response: "That's quite all right. This is going to be an heirloom knit--might as well splurge for the best!" (An heirloom knit? No pressure here! I thought.)

In we went. Now, on Saturday I was at the LYS to scope out various yarn possibilities. I had a list of possible yarns that were wool or wool-blend, that had a wide variety of colors, and that were worsted- or aran-weight. I had my list ready when we went in, but it was immediately apparent that there were two problems. One: Mom had decided on pastels, like Elena's sweater, and few of my choices had a steady "diet" of pastel colors. Two: Mom said she absolutely did not want a sweater that had to be handwashed. Those two caveats immediately cut down the yarn choices.

There were other difficulties. The pastel colored yarns that she tried out weren't "bright enough." I could kind of see what she meant even though it sounds strange to say "these pastels aren't bright enough." The colors of Elena's sweater were light, airy, springy. The pastels she had chosen from one yarn brand were rather muted, almost as if they were covered by a light grey mist.

We then decided not to stick with one brand for all the yarn; it just wasn't going to be possible to get the colors she wanted from one brand. So we went back and forth amongst the wool and wool-blend yarns (not cotton, because that would be too heavy, as I explained to Mom), picking out the colors she liked. Then I discovered another problem: yardage. Some of the skeins did not have the necessary yardage, so I had to do some math to figure out how many skeins of some of the colors we needed to get the proper amount for the sweater. (I discovered later that even after doing this math, I underestimated the amount of yarn needed. If you can't divide the yardage of your yarn by the total yardage required evenly, you need to go up a number. I, however, did not. *grumbles about sucky math skills*)

Finally, finally, after long last we found enough yarn for every color Mom desired for her sweater. It was going to pricey, I knew... but I had no idea how pricey until all that yarn had been rung up. It was over $132!! Now, perhaps some knitters are perfectly accustomed to spending such astonishing coinage on yarn for a sweater. Me? Not so much. Even my previously "spare-no-expense!" mother faltered a little at the total. But she bravely handed over her credit card, and out we went with the yarn.

On the way home she admitted she had not realized the yarn would cost so much. She thought, maybe $80 at the most. I was thinking about that amount myself. We talked and talked, and I could tell she was really unnerved about having spent so much for yarn. Finally I asked her if she wanted to go to JoAnn's and at least see what they had. I assured her we had plenty of time. She finally admitted she would like to see if she could find an alternative to all this terribly expensive yarn, and so off we went.

I led Mom through all the yarn aisles at JoAnn's, and her eyes were continuously drawn to the Vanna's Choice yarn. I must confess that until this point I hadn't realized that I had started to become a bit of a yarn snob. I was thinking, "Not the Vanna's Choice. Please, please, not the Vanna's Choice." Why? Really, there shouldn't have been any reason. It's not like this cardigan was going to be all that kept my mother from dying of exposure to extreme cold, for instance. So it really wasn't a big deal for her to get acrylic yarn for the sweater.

Finally she made her decision. This yarn looked every bit as nice as the yarn we had just purchased, she said, and it was a heck of a lot cheaper. This was the yarn she wanted. I had to admit that based strictly on looks, this yarn was indeed just as nice. The price was absolutely cheaper--even at regular price, it was half the price of most of the yarn we had purchased at the LYS, but it was also on sale, so it was even less.

The price tag for this yarn was certainly more reasonable--just over $37. Mom clearly was much happier about buying this yarn. And I then realized that I was a lot happier as well. Even though it is, perhaps, more fun to work with wool, I really did feel dreadful about Mom spending so much for yarn. I mean, how often was my mother going to buy a $132 sweater? Not often--I'd daresay not at all.

She asked if we could go back to the LYS so she could return the yarn; I told her sure. But I did suggest that I take a peek in the bag and see if there was any yarn I wanted to keep, just for myself. (I know, I'm awful.) Mostly I was embarrassed about buying all that yarn and then returning it. I really love the LYS and like to support it as much as I can, so I felt like keeping a small portion of the yarn would make it a little better. Mom told me I could keep some if I wanted, but that she had no qualms whatsoever about returning all that yarn. Thank God--the thought of returning it all really made me queasy!

I took a look in the bag, and the springy yellow-green balls of Classic Elite Bazic Wool caught my eye. Immediately I thought, finally--something to use for my very own Fetching!  Green is my favorite color, and these balls were such a light color of green that I knew the cables would show up nicely. Now I just have to fight off my urge to cast on immediately, lol!

I did tell Mom that I would need some new needles. I had all the sizes of needle I would need for the project, but they were nearly all wood. I've already learned that wood needles + acrylic yarn = misery (thank you, Twisted Pumpkin Hat!). I explained that I needed to buy metal needles so that the yarn would slide along more easily. She told me she would pay for my needles. Of course, JoAnn's didn't carry what I needed (ugh!), so I decided to check my KnitPicks and Patternworks catalogs when we got home.

Finally I returned Mom to the LYS so she could return the yarn. The LYS employee was very nice about taking it back, but there was a problem when she went to process Mom's refund. She pressed a wrong button on the cash register, evidently, and although it got straightened out with the help of a phone call to the boss, she couldn't print a receipt. There was no copy machine available to copy the original receipt, so that wasn't an option either. Finally she hand-wrote a receipt after Mom insisted she wasn't leaving the store without one. She plans to call her bank when she gets home to make sure the transaction cleared!

So there you have it. Nicole and her mom's Exciting Yarn Shopping Expedition. Who knew yarn shopping could be so adventurous??

Dec. 31st, 2007

HP Knitting icon

Better Late Than Never

(Or: A Final Update on Christmas Knits)

My final knitted Christmas gift was completed a few hours ago. LOL Yeah, unfortunately I was a tiny bit late with the towels. I finished one towel for my mother-in-law, one towel for my father-in-law's mother, and was frantically attempting to finish my mother-in-law's mother's towel on our way up to Michigan yesterday. Sadly, it was not to be. I had to tell her while everyone was opening their gifts yesterday that she had a gift coming but that I had run out of time to finish knitting it. She was very nice about it and told me it was no problem. I promised her I'd have it finished before we left Michigan!

If I had been able to knit on Thursday, I probably would have finished the last towel. Unfortunately I had terrible stomach pains on and off all day Thursday, and they exhausted me so thoroughly that I spent most of the day sleeping or at least lying down. So I didn't do any knitting that day.

I'm happy to say that my mother, sister, and father all loved their gifts. I actually cut it a little fine with Dad's slippers because I suddenly realized on December 23 that I still needed to felt them. It took about 6 trips through the washing machine to get them felted fully. :o All day Sunday and all Monday morning I washed those slippers again and again. Finally I felt they could be safely placed into the dryer. They shrunk a bit more in the dryer, so that by the time they were dry there was no stitch definition remaining whatsoever.

I figured then that I could attach the skid-proof bottoms to the slippers on the way to my parents' house. This was before I realized that they were not adhesive, as I thought for some reason. They had to be sewn on. :o I knew I couldn't sew them onto the bottoms of the slippers on the way to Mom & Dad's house, so I just tossed the bottoms into the gift bag with the slippers and figured I would tell Dad I would sew them on later. Dad actually tried on the slippers without the skid-proofs, and they were way too long. That kind of concerned me, but Dad laughed it off and told me it was fine.

Astonishingly enough, after I sewed the bottoms on? They fit perfectly! I have no idea why, but I was thrilled. Dad left me a voice mail the day after Christmas raving about them. He said, "I got up at 1:30 in the morning, had cold feet, so I put on my slippers and went downstairs. My feet were nice and warm, and I didn't slip at all going down the stairs. And they fit my feet like a glove. And they're beautiful, too." :D I happened to hear this message right after a very trying trip to JoAnn's with my little darlings, and did that ever put a smile on my face!

Danielle loved, loved, loved her socks and mittens. Mom loved, loved, loved her Hip House scarf and socks. Danielle raved to me a few days later how nice and toasty her socks were and how they didn't get damp the way her other socks had a tendency to. Both Mom and Danielle went wild for Elena's sweater, and they have both requested that I make the same sweater for them. Mom has even offered to buy the yarn for me.

Unfortunately, I can't really say Eric was thrilled with his knitted gifts. I was kind of prepared for this reaction, but I still felt a little letdown because I really wanted him to at least like the socks. He said his feet were sweating in the socks. I said "it's wool (well, partly wool), they shouldn't sweat," and he said, "Wool makes me sweat." *sigh* Steph, I think I'm starting to understand how you feel with your sister. I can't say Eric doesn't appreciate the work I put into the gifts, but he certainly has yet to get excited about them. I'm still determined to make him something he'll love.

So: what do I do now that Christmas is over? Keep knitting, of course. ;) I was going to start knitting Kiersten's pinwheel sweater, but at the time that I finished the grandma towel, someone was using the computer, and my copy of the pinwheel sweater pattern had become so dilapidated by the time I finished the last sweater that I threw it away when I was finished. So I decided to start another pair of socks instead. (Hee.)

Today we went shopping, and when I saw that Lion Brand Wool-Ease was on sale for $2 a skein, I bought enough (hopefully) to make this sweater, Jenora. (Notice the name of the designer, and her blog: I had to write to her via Ravelry when I found a post on a forum thread by her. She shares my name and is nearly my age, how cool is that?) I decided to use good old Heather. I haven't had a beautiful grey sweater in a long time, and I think this sweater will do nicely.

I also decided to try my hand at sock yarn once again. This was a total whim. Technically, the yarn I purchased isn't even sock yarn: it's Bernat Cool Crochet yarn. I purchased 3 skeins in Ebony and 3 skeins in Chocolate. I thought: a pair for Eric, a pair for me. (I'm not giving up on socks for Eric!) What I love about this yarn is its slight sheen; plus, the Ebony has this gorgeous greenish glow. It is a cotton/nylon blend, which (I hope) means Eric's feet won't sweat, and it won't be as stiff and inflexible to knit with as cotton on its own usually is.

In addition, I decided to purchase a sock pattern book. The pattern book helped me decide how much yarn to buy for a pair of socks, and it also gave me a "lace panel" sock pattern to try my hand at. I hope that an interesting pattern plus really pretty yarn will equal socks that aren't quite as mind-numbingly monotonous to knit.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a very happy New Year!

ETA: I forgot! I forgot to mention my very favorite Christmas gift, which was from Eric. He bought me a knitting tote! With wheels! And a telescoping handle! And a roll-up needle and working yarn case! I love it. It's big enough to carry all my patterns, all my needles (well, the needle case isn't actually big enough to contain all my needles, but it does hold all my straight needles and several of my DPNs. I put the rest of my DPNs and my circs in a couple of zippered plastic pencil cases that were only 99 cents each at Meijer), my scissors, my knitting notions, and several skeins of yarn. I can just stick my tote by my feet in the van, open my roll-up case, and work on my current project. I will still use my little red bag as a portable project bag (I don't really want to take the tote into churches). I love my hubby!!

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