Spike Strikes Again!

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This is a story about a beloved scarf. Several years ago (pre-blog) my sister put in a request. She wanted a bright pink scarf. That was all she requested. The design was up to me. I purchased two skeins of KnitPicks Bare in worsted weight, along with some pink dye. I hand dyed the yarn and got a gorgeous bright pink with just slight color variations throughout the yarn. Then I held the yarn doubled and knit a scarf with a drop stitch pattern, adding tassels to each end. I ended up with a nice, thick scarf that was still open and let some air circulate. It was nice and long, too. In fact, this is a close up picture of the final product:

My sister has continued to wear this scarf each winter (I gave it to her Christmas of 2007) and she reports often that someone stops her and asks where she got her scarf or comments on it.

In early spring, my sister and mom moved back in together. Last week, they decided to go on vacation today to Florida. I fed their cats while they were gone. A few days after they got back from their trip, I got a call from my sister telling me about her beloved scarf. Seems Spike found an end of it. It was hanging in a spare closet with her winter coat and they weren’t aware that it was hanging down enough to be in danger.

Now, for those of you unaware of what danger I am talking about, let me point you to this post. Take a moment to read that post and you will start to understand that a hand knit, wool scarf could be in danger.

This weekend I visited my mom and sister. And my sister brought me the scarf, wondering what the heck we could do with it. The first several feet were fine, but the last foot and a half or so? It almost brought me to tears. See? (Sorry about the crappy cell phone pictures.)

You can click to make the picture bigger to get the scope of the damage.

So, we put the scarf in a bag and I brought it home to see what I could salvage. I was able to unravel the scarf, although I had a lot to throw away at the end. I did felt the ends together on several longer pieces to minimize waste, but some of the pieces were just tiny and not worth even trying. I am now hunting for a cowl pattern to see if I can give my sister something else she will love just as much but with a bit less yarn. And my sister is on the hunt for a safer storage space for her scarf!

So…

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I know, I know. My poor blog is looking rather neglected lately. After my end of the year crafting, things sort of went south. My apologies.

We have had a rough winter in the Momknitter household. We have had the flu, strep, bronchitis, the stomach bug and numerous colds make their way through the house. With two kids in school, it is nonstop. And just as we were looking forward to the promise of spring and opening windows, we got snow yesterday. And did I tell you the kids are on spring break this week? Yea, Mother Nature missed the whole “spring” part!

So, I’ve done a whole lot of this over the last few long, snowy winter months:

A cup of tea and my knitting – so cozy!

So, what have I been doing crafty? Well, because of all of the illness, not much. I have managed to do a bit of knitting. I knit a pair of socks for myself. I really love them, although I bought this yarn a long time ago and can’t remember the name of it. Sorry! Here they are:

I used the book Socks a la Carte 2, Toes Up! for the pattern. This is a great book for toe up sock knitters since it gives you several cast-ons, toe options and heel options. Even if the patterns themselves were less than inspiring, the rest is great to have. These used the Turkish cast-on, a standard toe, a simple yarn-over heel and a Perle De Cotes cuff. The stitch pattern is the I Be-Leaf stitch pattern.

My other knitting came in the form of very tiny knitting. My daughter got her American Girl doll for Christmas. I made her a winter coat and my daughter asked for a pair of mittens. I had to oblige! I used a free pattern from Hazel Rose Looms. I also knit her a scarf. It was a basic knit two, purl two scarf. I will admit it got rather boring, but the end result was cute!

(And yes, I still need to do a post on all of the American Girl clothes I have made! Hopefully we will get better weather so I can take some proper pictures soon!)

So, that is about the extent of the crafting I have done this year. I am hoping things will pick up soon. In fact, I am feeling rather inspired to head to the sewing machine right now.

Now, does anyone have any ideas on how to photograph feet without them looking like stuffed sausages? Still haven’t figure out how to make feet with knit socks look “right”!

Something Worse Then The “M” Word?

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As a knitter and someone that loves working mainly with natural fibers, one of the scariest words that can be uttered around a yarn or hand-knit stash is the “M word” – Moth! They are well known for their love of wool, eating through fibers, leaving small holes in the fabric or spots in the yarn where it is either broken or weakened enough knitting becomes nearly impossible. Knitters have dedicated time and research into what to do if they take in acquired stash to keep their own stash clean, how to eradicate the pesky things and what to look for to make sure their stash is safe.

I have been lucky so far and have avoided having the “M word” show up in my house. And I was feeling pretty good about it. Until I found something far worse than the “M word”! It is the “S word” – Spike!!!

No, I am not talking about spikes that may catch your knitting. Yes, those cause issues, but I am referencing one Spike in particular:

Yep, that little guy there. Now, don’t let that cute face fool you! He is a cutey. He is my mom’s baby, in fact. A year ago, he was born under a hosta and abandoned by his mom because she was scared off by workers around the house. My mom and her husband picked him up and took him in. He was hand raised by them – even bottle fed. He is spunky and silly. And he has a thing for my knitting!

Our first clue was the day I brought a bag of knitting to the house when I came to visit. My mom and I walked out of the house to do something and when we came back in, a ball of my yarn was strung clear across the house, from one side to the other. It was wrapped around chair legs, under the couch and we finally found it under the bed. We laughed and thought it was hysterical.

Then it warmed up and I didn’t knit much, so I didn’t bring much to the house. But then fall hit again. My son wore his hand-knit sweater to their house and Spike would often be found dragging it off, or the sweater would be in a strange place when I finally located it. One day, at home, my son put the sweater on and I noticed a large hole in the sleeve. It covered 4 rows and 4 columns of stitches! I couldn’t figure out what my son had caught it on to cause such a large hole, but I patched it up and forgot about it.

Then I decided to wear my hand-knit sweater when we visited. I took it off and left it in a dining room chair. Suddenly, we heard a noise and my sister started laughing. Spike was attempting to drag off my thigh length wool sweater! He managed to get a sleeve under a bed before we rescued it. But, it was too late. In the cabled cuff of one of the sleeves, he managed to make a hole. In the picture below, you may notice that the hole is right at the intersection of the cables. Yea, right at the crossover.  The sweater came home with me and was put away. I have yet to deal with the hole. I’m not really sure how to deal with the hole!

Of course, I didn’t learn my lesson. I wore a hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-knit scarf over one day. My mom walked in the dining room where the scarf had been stuffed in the sleeve of my coat and found Spike trying to drag off my scarf! He had managed to get into the coat and pull it out, even though the heavy coat was folded over and the sleeve was hidden. I walked in and he was walking down the table with the scarf in his mouth. I tried to get it away from him and he gave me a warning cry. He was determined to keep that scarf! My mom finally managed to get it away from him, but he was NOT happy about giving it up! We immediately inspected it and found a hole in the bottom. It was about then that I realized what actually caused the hole in my son’s sweater.

I have yet to mend the scarf. It is a different stitch pattern that also would prove difficult to mend. Since the damage is near the cast on edge, I am thinking of simply frogging the whole thing and starting over (one of the perks of being a knitter!) I wish I could reknit the cuff of my sweater, but that just won’t work. So, I will try to mend it and keep hand knits away from Spike!

(Oh, and in case you are not aware of it, giving cats yarn is NOT safe! I know we often see those images of a cute kitten with a ball of yarn, but cats can eat the yarn and get long strands tangled in their intestines. It can be deadly for the little ones! I have only tried knitting at my mom’s once since she got the cat. Since then, I leave my yarn at home! Don’t want to mess with my knitting or put her baby at risk!)

February Accomplishments

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It is so hard to believe that we are heading into March! Where has this year gone already?

I can say I haven’t been around much because of being busy, but really, I am not. I just haven’t had any good craftiness that I can share with you, until now. I am being crafty, but I am also in the middle of some larger projects and sharing pictures of half knitted sweaters or half sewn curtains are not my idea of good blog fodder.

But did you catch that? I have a finished object!!! Finally!

Last year, I knitted each of my kids a sweater. My daughter’s was less than stellar, but my son wore his constantly. It helped that it had an orange stripe across it – orange is his favorite color – and it had a hood. He insisted on wearing that sweater this fall, too, even though it was getting too short and it looked ridiculous when he put the hood up. I planned to knit the kids new sweaters, trying to have them done for spring so they would have something to wear on the days it wasn’t quite warm enough to go without another layer, yet too warm for coats. I ordered the yarn some time ago, but put off all of the knitting until I was through with Christmas knitting. I finally picked up the yarn for my son’s sweater a few months ago and started working. I finished it up, adding snaps and buttons (more in a moment on that) a few weeks ago. I want to add pockets, but those can wait and he is very happy with the sweater as is for now.

I used the Childhood pattern from Knitty in the 3-4 year size. It fits my boy great, although I worry it will be too short by the fall! However, the garter band on the bottom may make it easier to add some length by picking up stitches, so I will be holding on to that idea. I used Knitpicks Wool Of The Andes in chocolate and orange. This pattern was simple and fast knitting. Having all of the stripes made it easy to count and seemed to make it fast moving, and the best part was that, because I was able to just hold the yarn up the sides, there weren’t a ton of ends to weave in! As the pattern suggests, I decided to use snaps to make it easier to put on and take off, plus I didn’t want to mess with button holes. However, I already had some puppy buttons in my stash that my son adored, so I sewed those on top of the snaps to add some interest and detail to the sweater. Here is my son’s new sweater!

In other crafty news, I have been bitten by the sewing bug again. I think it is in reaction to Christmas knitting, although I didn’t do as much this year as I have in the past. In January, I volunteered to help sew pillows for my daughter’s school. Every year they sew pillows (the kids stuff and sew them closed and the parents sew the actual pillows) and donate them to Children’s Hospital. I ended up sewing two dozen of the 499 pillows made. They were definitely interesting since they were patchwork pillows made from donated fabrics. Definitely not my taste, but OK for little kids, I guess! I received a bag with strips of squares already sewn together. I had to join four strips into the front of the pillow then sew on the back. Easy enough. Here are some examples (the larger squares are the backs):

I also returned to the quilts I started for the kids. I had intended them to be for Christmas, but they obviously didn’t happen. I now have my daughter’s quilted and only the binding is left. My son’s has been assembled and the quilt sandwich has been pinned together, but I need to quilt it next. Both are large (they cover the top of my California King bed) and made with flannel, so they are rather bulky, but oh so cozy!!! I can’t wait to see them finished – if I can get over my fear of binding them! I know once I do it I will be fine, but cutting the fabric to make the binding and getting the quilt squared has me a bit nervous! Once I get them done, I will certainly post pictures, along with the new body pillow cover and small pillow case I made for my son. I also am planning to make a quick and easy valance for his room. It is finally time to upgrade him from baby room to big boy room (even though I am not ready yet!!!) and he chose Cars as his theme. So, he will be getting a black and white check valance.

Oh, and one more thing. I failed miserably at my first attempt at the Knitting Olympics. Not only will I not metal, I won’t be asked to compete again, I am afraid! I decided to pick up a sweater vest I promised my husband many Christmases ago. I got the front started (not-quite argyle) and it was going well, but I became overwhelmed when I realized I needed to knit 18 rows a night to get it done – after knitting for 2 hours and only getting 10 rows completed. However, now that it is started, it will be added to my WIP bin and hopefully I can complete it in the near future. But first, I have to knit my daughter a sweater!

More Christmas Crafting

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We are enjoying true winter here right now. It is currently hovering around the 10 degree mark. Brrr!!!! What a great day to stay in and craft, huh?

I wanted to show a few more of my Christmas gifts. I actually did not do as much crafting this year for Christmas as I have in the past and very little of what I did do was knitting. I just think I have knitted something for everyone now and have no great ideas, except for the two items I did make.

The first you have already seen – well, at least a glimpse of it. I knit my mom a sweater. The sweater she picked was an easy knit and knit up fast. It had all that I love in a fast garment – almost non-existent sleeves, no seaming in the end, and a large gauge. The sweater is the Juliet pattern from Zephyr Style. The original calls for a bulky yarn or holding two strands together throughout, but Mom wanted a lighter weight sweater. I used one strand of worsted weight yarn knit on large needles to give me the correct gauge. The sweater was light and airy. My only issue with the finished garment was that it was that it didn’t have the fit I really wanted, but that was more due to a stubborn mother who refused to give me more measurements than she was a size medium. This was, of course, the sweater I messed up big time when I used the wrong yarn halfway through knitting it. I didn’t get a picture of it on Mom, but this is how it looked after blocking it (all pictures can be clicked to see larger):

I would have preferred to have a proper measurement for the length of the top section, but what could I do?

The second knitted item was a pair of socks for my sister. I hesitate to knit socks for people but only because I know how amazing hand knit socks are and they never want just one pair! But my sister asked! I used Knitpicks Stroll Tweed Sock yarn in Masala. It was my first time using it and I really liked it – which is good, since I bought some for myself! I used the Embossed Leaves pattern from “Favorite Socks” from Interweave. The pattern was pretty easy, but I found that I eventually did better if I turned the chart into written instructions – which is backwards from what I normally do! It just saved me counting the squares on the chart over and over.

I finished the first sock quickly. The second sock almost was the victim of SSS – Second Sock Syndrome – and wasn’t finished until about 3 AM Christmas morning! It was a fun, easy pattern, but other crafts sort of got in the way. So, here is the sock (and has any other fellow knitter noticed it is nearly impossible to take a sock-in-action shot without your ankle or foot looking HUGE?):

The second photo is a shot of the stitch pattern so you can see the leaves.

Finally, my big project! I had planned this one for some time, but didn’t know if I could pull it off to the degree I had hoped. I finally decided to just give it a go. I will say that I was highly inspired by Melissa Crowe (Checkout Girl) and her beautiful felt pictures. The first time I saw them I was in awe and so inspired, yet I also felt totally out of my league with her work. But, I gave it a go and I am very pleased with the results!

My mom got married in February to a man who hates to receive gifts. So we are always trying to come up with ways to give him gifts that he can’t complain about (usually by gifting them to the two of them.) My husband had taken many of their wedding photos and I was inspired by one in particular:

The happy couple! I actually had several similar shots so I sort of compiled them to get the best shot of each. I used craft felt and embroidery floss for the whole picture and sewed it onto linen. Here is the final result:

Details:

The roses – these are done in 3D.

Mr. & Mrs. B. (The blue you see above was a banner that was later removed due to framing issues.)

The whole picture turned out to be 8×10. I was able to frame it in an 11×13 frame, but I had to take the glass out because of the 3D roses. I am pretty proud of my work! I hope they like it, too. It took me quite a long time to do, but I enjoyed seeing the details emerge as I stitched.

I had several other things planned for Christmas that just didn’t get done. Hopefully they will be completed in the near future so I can have some blog posts for January!

Mystery Solved

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Well, I hate to admit it, but the mystery stripe in my sweater has been solved. I was showing it to my husband tonight and touched the stripe. I noticed the yarn was rather rough compared to the softer yarn of the darker color. That was when it dawned on me.

When I ordered my yarn from Knitpicks, I also ordered yarn for my son’s new cardigan. His sweater will be in orange and brown. I ordered 7 skeins of Swish Worsted Superwash in Truffle for my mom’s sweater:

Along with 3 skeins of Chocolate Wool Of The Andes:

And while they look different in the pictures here, when you look at them in the box, in a darkened office lit only by the computer screen, it is easy to mix them up. And obviously that is exactly what I did!

So now I feel really dumb! It wasn’t an issue of non-matching dye-lots. It was the fact that I used a completely different yarn!!!

I think I will work on socks for a while. I can get a whole sock out of one skein of yarn, so at least this problem won’t occur with those!

Christmas Stress

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In the past, I have planned way ahead and knitted many Christmas gifts for family and friends. This year, I decided to take it easy. I have been enjoying sewing more, especially since I got my new sewing machine, so I have notbeen knitting nearly as much. But, my mom wanted a sweater. I haven’t made her a sweater yet, so I agreed. And she wanted one that was short sleeved, so even better! My sister requested socks. Easy enough. And my husband found gloves that were missing the thumbs and forefingers so you can wear them and still use your iPhone or Touch. Not too difficult, either.

I bought the yarn for my projects and started on my mom’s sweater. We agreed on the lovely Juliet sweater from Zephyr Style. She wanted it in brown with one button at the waist. It is knitted top down with no seaming. And, even though I am not double stranding and using worsted weight yarn, it is knit on size 10 1/2 needles, so it knits up quickly. It took me a while to really get into it, but I am finally only about 6 rows from binding off! I was so excited and today I decided to spread it out and take a good look at it.

Today has been our first really sunny day in a while. And our lighting at home stinks. So seeing the true color of yarn can be tricky. But today? In the sunlight? What I saw made me want to cry!

No, that isn’t a trick of the light or my camera being crappy. That is what the sweater actually looks like. And it is not supposed to be striped, either! Somehow, I missed that one skein of my yarn was a different dye lot. Usually I don’t have an issue with that when I order from Knitpicks, so I didn’t even bother to check. I was in too much of a hurry. And look where it got me!  That section was about 2 skeins of yarn back. I started it on the second lace repeat and I am now on the 7th. While the pattern is easy and fairly quick, it will still take me a while to rip back and restart. Thankfully, I ordered an extra skein of yarn and they seem to match the main yarn perfectly. It is just that one rouge skein.

We have a Christmas party with my husband’s family tonight. I have been making food for that, plus baking Christmas cookies for cookie plates to give to friends and neighbors. I have more sewing to do. Not sure I will get it all finished in the three weeks left before Christmas, but I will try my hardest. I do have a few finished items to share, but will wait until I am over the sting of my latest setback.

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