Friday, November 30, 2007

How not to unravel a sweater...

I've been wanting to give sweater recycling a try for a while. I have this sweater I bought a few years ago in Ireland...very big, very nice, very, very hot. I hardly ever wore it because it was so darned hot. Despite that, I managed to somehow put a hole in it, so I decided this year I'd use it as my test piece for unraveling a sweater and reusing the wool.

Yeah. Well. Clearly, this was not a good choice. I mistook the "Made in Ireland" tag for "HANDMADE in Ireland," and assumed I could just undo the sweater much as I could any sweater I'd knit myself. No. Not happenin'. This one clearly had been serged, because every row unravels into it's own little strand of very curly yarn. :::sigh::: That pile accounts for only half a sleeve.

I'm thinking now how I might be able to be creative with it and still get some use from it. I wonder if the body would felt as is and I could then turn it into a bag or something? The yarn is supposedly 90/10 wool/silk. I don't know if that would felt or not. At this point, it probably can't turn out to be any bigger a mess than what I've already got, right?

Live and learn.

(Wish I'd seen this before I started.)

Friday ponderings and pictures... is not fair that Kevin took today off work and I ended up having to get up early as a result. In case you never got the memo (as my husband apparently did not), Friday is my self-appointed sleep-in day. I'm up with the kids doing school all week, Saturday I work and Sunday is church. Friday? My day to sleep a little late. Unless my husband takes the day off, goes out to get new tires on his truck first thing in the a.m., and calls at 8:15 a.m. to ask if you can bring your credit card down to the tire place as he seems to have misplaced his. Grrrr. Consider that I did not go to bed until 3 a.m. because I was up and being productive. This would be the equivalent of me calling him AT 3 a.m. and asking him to come bring something to me somewhere. Yeah. He'd be really happy about that. Just as I was. Again...grrrr. Oh, I did it. I got up, went out into my cold, cold car, drove the 45 minute round trip...but I was not pleased. Oh, no. I was not pleased.

...from yesterday...what I was doing until 3 a.m....organizing my yarn! is cold down here in my little office/studio. I could build a fire out in the woodburner, but I pretty much suck at building fires. I would have made a terrible pioneer woman. My family would have starved and frozen to death. Thus I am using this teensie little space heater my son loaned me before he left for basic training.
It doesn't do much to heat up the room (kind of like spitting into the ocean, frankly), but at least my right side is slightly less frozen than my left. I'm not sure if it is completely within the recommended operating guidelines to tilt the little thing upward like I have it, leaning against the corner of my love seat...but the back doesn't get hot, so I'm hoping it's ok, because I use and exercise ball for my chair at my desk, and I'm thinking that overheating the rubber of this ball could have its own ill-effects. sad little Sony.
I love, love, love my big, beautiful Canon 400D, and I happily use it anytime I want to take good quailty photos. It's excellent for my needs in that way. But sometimes, it is just easier to grab my little point-and-shoot Sony and take a fast photo. However, I cannot do that. I have not been able to do that for months. Because I've misplaced the cord and cannot recharge it. :::sigh::: I was certain that once I went through all of my piles and boxes that I was cleaning out down here, I'd find it. I'm 80% through all of that stuff, but still no cord. It's an old camera, and while it still works, I'm not going to spring for a replacement cord. Just really hoping to find mine somewhere. this...

This is a stool my dad sat on for as long as I can remember when he was downstairs at his workbench. It originated at the University of Pittsburgh, where my dad worked in the machine shop. I guess they were getting rid of it at some point and he brought it home. The wooden top has clearly been worn over the years and years of use, but right in the center, you can still see the identification that was stamped into it:

If you can't quite make it out, it says "Physics Pitt". I love that! Mainly because it makes me wonder...just how many world-renowned physicists actually sat their hienies on this very stool? Some great physics-related discovery could have taken place while some guy in a lab coat had his Ph.D. butt on my stool! Isn't it cool to think about? :)

It's amazing...

...what a little late day caffeine will do for you. Got a major second wind this evening and proceeded to clean out my entire scrapbooking stash, which then allowed me the storage space to completely organize my yarn stash! You have no idea how exciting this is, as my yarn stash has been squished into my bedroom closet over the past year. (That said, this time last year I didn't *have* a yarn stash, as I was not yet a crazy knitter.)

So, the goodies to share from my last post are all waiting for eager takers. And I can now see all my preeeeetty, preeeeetty yarns at a glance, which can only be helpful for my creativity, right?

Oh, and on top of all of this organizational productivity, I also loaded all of my favorite Christmas music onto my iPod tonight. Yee-ha! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cleaning house..., studio.

I've got way, way, way too much scrapbooking stuff. There was a time when I didn't think that was quite possible, but guess what? It is. Too much of a good thing. Too much stuff for too little storage space.

In an effort to get my scrap stash under control (and make more room for my yarn stash, which is ever-growing these days), I need to unload some things. I've got cardstock. I've got stickers, rub-ons, chipboard. I've got Heidi Swapp and Karen Foster and 7Gypsies (ok, that would be a lot of people here in my studio office...really, I just have their products!). I've got too much to name. I've got it, and I want you to have it.

If you're interested in receiving a package of scrapbookin' lovin' from me, please leave a comment here. Once I get it all sorted out (in the next few days), I'll draw names and send happy packages to those folks. Please help me clean out my room! :)

NEW NOTE! 12/8 - Ok, I realize I did not specify a time zone (my bad), but it is now 1 a.m. here on the east coast, and considering how many dozens of replies I now have, I'm going to say that the time's up! Thank you all for offering a good home to my scrap stash! (If I've contacted you and asked you to send your mailing addy, please still do that as you're on my list of people to send things to.)

NOTE ADDED 12/7 - If you are commenting and wanting some scrap stuff, PLEASE leave your e-mail address in your comment! Blogger is not, for some reason, linking e-mail addresses to people's names, so unless you have your e-mail address in your blog that I can connect to, I'll have no way to contact you! And that would be sad! Because then I could not give you any scrap goodness! If you'd prefer not to post your e-mail addy here, you can e-mail me directly at lmbwrites AT comcast DOT net instead.

ALSO - I never expected such a big response to this! I'm going to send stuff to as many people as I can who comment by midnight tonight and who give me their e-mail addresses so I can contact them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New eyes...

As I get older, I find I'm get somewhat less vain. It takes too much energy.

True, I still get my hair colored every six weeks, not just to camouflage the gray but because I enjoy changing up my appearance. It's fun. I'd make a great chameleon. However, when it comes to other things -- like wearing my glasses -- I've put up a lifelong fight.

I've worn contacts for 28 years now, only reverting to my glasses at home, and only when I'm feeling too lazy to put my contacts in. Wearing them in public is not something I choose to do unless I have no other option, and even then, it's with a bit of teeth gnashing. I never feel as if I can see as well out of them, but more than that, I just don't like how I look in glasses. I have a hard time even convincing myself that they're a fashion statement of any sort (and with the vast array of glasses out there today, from the classic to the funky, that could be a compelling argument).

However, things change. In recent months, I've had a recurring issue with my eyes becoming horribly red -- red enough for friends and strangers alike to comment on it. I assumed it was just my contacts drying out, so I used drops more and more, but it didn't help. Finally, I went to the eye doctor who said a) infection and b) possible over wear. I don't wear my contacts 24/7, but I am a night owl, often not taking my lenses out until 2 a.m. after they've become terribly dried out. Thus, "b" seemed as likely as "a" might be.

Two rounds of antibiotic/steroid drops later, it seems to be better, but I'm afraid to push my luck. As much as I hate having to wear my glasses, I hate having red, unsightly eyeballs even more. So, I've been trying to wear my lenses only when I have to go out and then wear my glasses at home.

However, I decided to splurge on a new old ones were a bright gold, which clashed horribly with my highlighted hair. (I know, someone is thinking, "My gosh, what a diva! Heaven forbid her glasses don't match her hair! If only that was my biggest problem!" Yeah, yeah. The other frames have been around for a while, so I was due anyway, ok? Geez.) I figure if I have frames I don't hate, maybe I'll even wear the glasses :::gulp::: in public on occasion, giving my eyes even more of a rest when needed. We'll see how it goes.

Gifties underway...

So, Christmas knitting is underway. (Note to self: start Christmas knitting way earlier next year. Like, January.) The pirate socks are for my kids and possibly my niece, if I get that far. They aren't particularly difficult, just time-consuming, as socks can be. I'm doing all three pairs with different main colors to keep things from getting boring. But then I think what if I don't get them done? Or what if I only get one and a half pairs done? What then?

Enter the mitts. I love fingerless mitts and have finally started making them. Everyone on my list might end up with a pair of mitts this year, frankly. Even the kids. And that way, if the socks don't make it, there will be something knitted under the tree! I'm enjoying knitting the mitts more than the socks right now, though, so you know which one I'm working on most. (The mitts pattern is from One-Skein Wonders and is called, appropriately, Fingerless Mittens.)

Then there is my m-i-l's white shawl. Oh, lawdy, if one more person requests an all-white knitted item from me, I may have to use my DPNs as weapons. To keep it interesting, I chose a complex lace pattern to do...and about 60 rows in, I realized something important...I really don't like knitting lace that much. Yeah. Hm. I mean, it's pretty, but what a freakin' pain if you make a mistake. (Ask me how I know.) So, just another 135 ever growing rows to go on that one. Must start dedicating some serious time to that project daily if I want to have any hope of giving it to her on the 23rd (when we're doing Christmas with that end of the family) and not have it still on the needles with a note promising to finish it.

Then my husband came to me the other day and said, "You know how you always want to know what you can knit for me?" And I am, because he won't wear sweaters, or scarves, or gloves/ mitts, and the socks I started for him just aren't happening for some reason. Just not feeling inspired on those. Anyway, he handed me some obscure outdoorsy catalog with a picture of a headband-y thing through which the beak of a baseball cap fits. That's what he wants. Okaaaaay. I've never seen such a pattern, but it shouldn't be too hard. I'm envisioning circular knitting, short rows (to make the top and bottom at the back wider than the rest of it) and a big bound-off buttonhole of a thing in the front. I'm probably envisioning it far more complicatedly than necessary, actually. I usually do.

And then there are the people on my list who I have no knitted item planned for. I wonder...will they care? Will the be disappointed? Feel miffed? Perhaps a few extra pairs of mitts will be added to my list for that purpose. Hm.

At least I can say, now that I've finished my harvest pullover, I am being very good and not doing any of my own personal knitting. I really, really want to work on my Malabrigo sweater, but that will have to be my reward for getting through the Christmas knitting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day musings...

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always my mom's holiday to host. She loved it. I can remember her making the stuffing the night before, helping cut up bread into cubes and then toasting it (which I never understood why you'd do that if you wanted moist stuffing) and eating a few of the squishy cubes along the way. I've got vivid memories of our kitchen in the hour or so prior to the big meal, my mom and her cousins' wives all in there taking care of last minute preparations. Flo always -- always -- brought her special hand potato masher to use, because the mashed potatoes wouldn't taste right being done any other way. Someone would hold the pot, and she would mash them into white, fluffy goodness. Sometimes we'd play some sort of game that lasted the whole day. One year, it was the safety pin game...everyone got a safety pin, and if you were caught crossing your legs, you lost your safety pin. Somewhere, I have the funniest picture, taken at dinner time, of Wilma peeking under the table cloth during the meal, trying to catch someone off-guard and take their pin.

As we kids got older, got married and had kids of our own, it was no longer feasible to continue the same hosting arrangements for the holidays. There was more extended family to be considered and to share the holidays with, and so things changed. Unfortunately, they changed the same year my dad died, which made things even more different that year. No dad. No big family Thanksgiving. Life goes on.

A couple years later, though, I found myself in my mom's place. Thanksgiving became my holiday to host for my mom and step-dad and my in-laws. Some years we had as many as fifteen people here around our table. The only year I didn't cook was the year I was pregnant with our second child and due within the week. I vividly remember our first Thanksgiving was the first year my husband and I were married. My son was eight. I remember that morning, all three of us cuddled in our big bed, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, late autumn sun streaming in through the windows. Later that day, I remember my husband carving the turkey that had cooked overnight (that's how Mom used to do it, as she said it helped cut down on the mess later in the day), standing in our chilly kitchen, that same soft gold sun shining through the bare branches of trees and into our kitchen resulting in shadows and light that will always be a part of my memory of that day. It was so special.

Now here we are, fourteen Thanksgivings later, and things have changed again. My mom and step-dad moved to Florida last year, and while they came back for Thanksgiving last year, they aren't doing so this year (they'll be here for Christmas instead). I miss my mom's presence. I had to bake the pumpkin pies this year. That's what she always brought. I realized, as my daughter and I were mixing the filling yesterday, that I don't even own the right spices for pumpkin pie filling because I never needed to make it before. (We improvised. Hopefully they'll be edible.) I just spent a half hour on the phone with my mom this morning, talking about our day ahead (they'll be celebrating with some friends down mom hosting the meal) and other things of little consequence. Just the talking is nice, though. Thank God for unlimited calling plans.

And this year, my oldest son is also missing from our Thanksgiving picture. He'll be celebrating this day at Parris Island, with the drill instructors and 84 other recruits in his platoon at basic training. I keep hoping he might get to make a call home today, but I'm prepared for it not to happen. Or for it not to be to me, anyway, as he does have a wife who is higher up on the call list. Either way, I miss him. He's a third of the way through his training almost, so I just keep thinking about his graduation in January and seeing him then. But it is still going to make today (and Christmas) feel strange.

I might feel a little blue today because of the changes that have happened this year, but it doesn't make me any less thankful. I know I am blessed...with love and family and health and a home and food and more material things than I really need. More than anything, I have the promises of the one who provides these blessings, the one who says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

And so I give thanks...for everything.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


I've made it my goal this week to finish the UFOs that have been laying around (not the ones in the box under my bed...the more recent ones that I've just been lazy/procrastinating about). I'm making progress!

So far this week, I've...

...blocked my Red Scarf Project scarf, which was supposed to be mailed off last month (guess it will either wait until next year's project to go out, or, if I need it to, it will turn into a Christmas gift).

...sewn the zipper in the baby sweater I made for friend's new baby (who isn't quite so new's hoping it will still fit said baby).

...finished my Seesaw Scarf I started a couple weeks back (and I wrote up the pattern for it!).

...finished my daughter's little black shrug that I just started last week (so she can wear it to church this Sunday...a week late, but hey).

...both started (yesterday) and finished (today) an impromptu neck warmer...actually, it's being blocked overnight, then I have to sew on three buttons, but that's it. And I will sew on the buttons tomorrow! It will not languish!

I'm trying so hard to not cast on anything else new until my finishing is...well...finished. But I've got ideas, you know? And pretty yarn.'s so hard not to cast on when you're feeling inspired! :}

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shrug This

My altered version of the Shrug This pattern from One-Skein Wonders. I added long sleeves, lace detailing and a little extra length in the bodice. It fits my 11-yr-old daughter perfectly, and she's pretty slender. I have no idea how this shrug is meant to fit an actual adult woman. You'd have to block the bejeebers out of it, is all I can think! But it will be perfect for her to wear with these winter dresses designers insist on making short-sleeved.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Pattern: Seesaw Scarf

In the midst of a lot of time consuming knitting recently, I felt the need to create something bright and fun that would finish quickly. I had some odd skeins of Noro Kureyon sitting around, their colorfulness just screaming at me to do something with them. Thus, I came up with this scarf pattern. It's a pretty easy knit, even for newer knitters.

Seesaw Scarf

This scarf is built from a series of garter-stitch short rows that create wedged sections of fabric that alternate in direction. Once you understand the wrap and turn technique, this will be a fairly quick and easy project. I loved how it turned out with the colorful Kureyon, but due to the design the pattern creates, it also looks nice done up in a solid.

Yarn: 2 skeins Noro Kureyon (220 yds.)

Needles: US 9 needles

Gauge: 4 stitches/inch in garter stitch. Getting gauge is not critical to this project. Just be sure to use the correct size needles for whatever yarn you choose so that you get a fabric that is pleasing to you.

Finished size: approximately 5” x 54”. Note that this pattern will not result in a rectangular-shaped scarf. It will either be an isosceles trapezoid (if you work an odd number of pattern repeats) or a parallelogram (if you work an even number of pattern repeats). Do whichever pleases you.


W&T – (Wrap and turn) Move yarn to the front (between the needles, as you would to purl), slip the next stitch, move yarn to the back, return the slipped stitch to the left needle. Turn work around to begin the next row.


Cast on 20 stitches.

Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K18, W&T.
Row 3 and all remaining odd rows: Move yarn to back (between needles), knit across.
Row 4: K 16, W&T.
Row 6: K14, W&T.
Row 8: K12, W&T.
Row 10: K10, W&T.
Row 12: K8, W&T.
Row 14: K6, W&T.
Row 16: K4, W&T.
Row 18: K2, W&T.

Repeat rows 1-19 for the remainder of the scarf, either until you’ve run out of yarn or you’ve reached your desired length.

After finishing your final pattern sequence, ending with Row 19, repeat Row 1 once more.

Bind off loosely.

Block or don’t block. Your choice.

Seesaw Scarf in Noro Kureyon.

Sample swatch of Seesaw pattern done in solid.

© 2007 Lisa Beamer, a.k.a. Fibernymph ~ This pattern is free to use and share for personal use only with this copyright notice attached.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Stash Math

For you fellow yarn stashers out there, this could be a sensitive subject. After all, stashing behavior has a touch of obsession/compulsion mixed in with it, I believe. And those of us who share this sickness don't always really want to admit just how much of a problem we have. The idea of quantifying one's stash can, to say the least, be daunting...or perhaps downright frightening.

However, in my newfound obsession with all things Ravelry, I've been both counting and photographing my yarn stash so I can input the info in my "stash" database on the site. Currently, I have :::deep breath::: 160 skeins of yarn logged. One. Hundred. Sixty. That be a whole lotta yarn.

The database then offers to show you your stash in either thumbnail photos, in list form with all pertinent details visible or it will allow you to download it to Excel. All of this greatly decreases one's ability to be in denial about just how much yarn one has stored in the closet, under the bed, and/or in bags and baskets around the house.

I should note that this tally does not include yarn being used in current projects nor yarn that has just come into the house in the past week. :::sigh::: Keeping an accurate stash count could be as difficult as keep count of rabbits...or hamsters...or other quickly propagating things.

I haven't even tried to log my needle collection yet. Like I could even find them all. Sheesh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I am a self-confessed bibliophile. If my the size of my house allowed it, I would have bookshelves in every room, and they would be filled to the brim. As it is, I have bookshelves in my bed room, dining room and office...and they are filled to the brim. I also have boxes of books stashed away...books I'll probably never read (or read again), but I'm not ready to purge them from my collection just yet.

Along with novels and various topical non-fiction, I always manage to amass huge collections of books aligned with the topics of any hobbies or passionate interests I develop. My scrapbooking obsession? Yeah...dozens and dozens of books on that subject. Photography? A respectable shelf-full. Christianity and religion? Stacks, which include at least a dozen different Bibles.

And so we come to knitting. I only went whole-hog on knitting last January, though I had a couple books around before that. Since then, though? Thirty-six books. Thirty-six. That is an average knitting book purchase of 3.6 books per month. And I can tell you that working at the knitting shop has only furthered this habit because now I see all the new, pretty books as soon as they come in. And I can buy them at a discount. Dan-ger-ous.

I was adding some of my books to my Ravelry "library" today, and it very coolly then also links the books to any patterns you've used from them. I only have about 2/3 of my books listed there because of the way their book system is set up currently, but of those 24-ish books, I was surprised to see that I've only used five of them for a total of seven patterns (two of which I made twice). That hardly seemed right! I've done a ton of knitting this year, and while I've gotten some patterns online and bought others at the shop, I'm always looking at my knitting books, so it seems I've had to have used them more than that!

Then it dawned on me...even though I don't use the book patterns as much as I think I do, they do offer me scads of inspiration. I get ideas from them. I learn techniques from them. I glean from them and then use the information in different ways.

Not to say I don't have a list a mile long of patterns from books that I'd like to make some day. I definitely do. But I think it's cool that isn't the only use for them. And in some instances -- like, The Natural Knitter -- the books have such beautiful pictures in them that I love to just flip through them and gaze lovingly...especially at the sheep. :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sweater Surgery Pending

So. Current project: the Harvest Pullover. Raglan. A lot of stockinette. Brown stockinette. But then there were the sleeves. The pretty, pretty sleeves, which were the whole reason I wanted to make this sweater to begin with.

Ok. So, start knitting. DID A SWATCH. GOT GAUGE. Proceed to begin the sweater. Made it to the first sleeve. Knit, knit, decreased, lathered, rinsed, repeated. Finally -- FINALLY -- got to the first pretty, pretty colored section. Did the red. Did the orange. Did the yellow. Got into the green and instructions:::...realized I misread and had to rip back 30 rows of sleeve. Recovered from the setback, continued on in the correct manner, and ended up with a lovely, lovely sleeve, as seen above.

With only one sleeve and the bottom of the sweater still on circs, it wasn't possible to try the thing on (yes, too lazy to put the sweater on waste yarn at this point), so I slipped my arm in the sleeve to model it. See how the cuff hits right below the wrist? Yes. This is how I was hoping it would actually fit once finished.

Fast forward a couple days, add the second sleeve and then energy to try the thing on the correct way. Hm. Okaaaay. Sleeves come down to my fingertips. Not good. But! The neckline was not yet finished, and that, I surmised, would right this wrong and pull everything up to where it should be.

Took the sweater with me to work today and opted to finish up the neck before finishing the rest of the body of the sweater, just because I couldn't shake this uneasy feeling about the length of those sleeves. Lo and behold...the crew neck as it is now only pulled the sleeves up to about mid-finger length. Bonnie -- my boss and knitting extraordinare -- went on to outline my various options for fixing this. One choice: rip back the sleeves, rip out two inches of brown and reknit the color work. So not going to happen. Seriously. I could probably do it in my sleep at this point, having the color pattern memorized as I do, but there is just no way in hell or any other afterlife location I'm redoing those sleeves. No. Way.

The most palatable option she offered me was to CUT the sleeves just above the colored sections -- yes, CUT, as in SNIP SNIP -- unravel the brown the two unwanted inches and then graft the two sections together, which should result in it looking like nothing untoward had ever happened. This sounds like a much happier choice to me. I like grafting. I like not reknitting 180 rows of sleeve. The thought of the cutting aspect? Has me a little freaked. Ok, a lot freaked. But, it's the best option I've got, and Bonnie said I could bring it in and do it under her supervision, LOL, so that's probably what I'll do.

Oh, and the swatch? That told me I was getting gauge? It lied. And I know why it lied. Because I knit my swatch straight, which means I threw, whereas the sweater is being knit in the round, which means I'm knitting continental. (Why do I knit English when I knit straight and continental when I knit in the round? I don't always, but I do when I'm doing mind-numbing amounts of goes faster. And I suck at purling continental, so that's why I don't knit that way if I'm doing more complicated stitch pattern work in the round.) My gauge is always looser when I knit continental. I KNOW this. I just totally forgot this. And so I suffer the consequences. :::sigh:::