Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

May you and yours have a safe and fun holiday!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Ever since I started making hat, mitten & scarf sets for my crochet guild a few years ago, I have really struggled with sizes. Some of the patterns I have found on the Internet don't include gauge, so I'm not sure if the item is coming out the size intended. I don't have children, so children's sizes in particular are problematic for me. I know that when we knit and crochet for charity, there is a person out there for every item we make. But when I put individual items into sets, and all the pieces need to fit that person, then size does become more important.

So I had done some research and come up with hat and mitten sizes that I am happy about. (The Craft Yarn Council's Standard Body Measurements was a big help, although it didn't answer all my questions.) I really wasn't sure about scarf sizes, though, until Dee put up a really useful post a few weeks ago suggesting that we use the growth charts that doctors use and make scarves that are the same length as the height of an average child at whatever age. (Thank you, Dee!) This weekend, I finally had time to print out the growth charts, figure out the average heights, and then compare them to the estimates I had made a while back. The scarf lengths were definitely out of whack, so I have revised them. Anyway, here is what I have so far:

Toddler, ages 2-4
Hats - 16"-17" circumference, 6.5" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 4 1/2" palm width, 3 1/2" hand length
Scarves - 36" long

Small children, ages 5-8
Hats - 18" circumference, 7" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 5 1/2" palm width, 4 1/2" hand length
Scarves - 45" long

Medium children, ages 9-13
Hats - 19" circumference, 7" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 6 1/2" palm width, 5" hand length
Scarves - 55" long

Hats - 20" - 22" circumference, 7 1/2" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 7" - 8" palm width, 6" - 6 1/2" hand length
Scarves - 60" long

Hats - 22" circumference, 8" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 8" - 9" palm width, 6 1/2" - 7" hand length
Scarves - 60" long

I took the median height in each age bracket and used that for scarf size, just to simplify this a bit for my brain. Anway, I put this up partly for myself, to organize my thoughts, partly because I thought this might be useful for others doing charity work, and partly to see if any of you who are more experience than I am agree with the numbers or would like to tweak them. Please feel free to let me know what you think!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Early Birthday to Me!

I really needed a pick-me-up yesterday after Wednesday night, and when I got home last night, there was my package from Lacey, my October Birthday Swap partner, waiting for me! Of course I dug right into it, even though my birthday isn't until next week. And, boy, did Lacey spoil me! When I opened the box, the first thing I saw was the cutest tissue paper with spider webs and spiders all over it - perfect for a Halloween birthday girl like me.

And look what was inside the box! She sent 6 skeins of yarn - 2 skeins of Knit Picks Simple Stripes, 2 skeins of Cascade Fixation, and 2 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in pale green. So I should have enough yarn to make 2 pairs of socks, and I think I might make a scarf with the Silky Wool. That was the one yarn I listed on the original questionnaire that I would like to try but hadn't yet. Then Lacey included a set of size 2 dpns, an orange and a black pair of chop sticks, 4 postcards from South Korea and a birthday card, and 6 bars of chocolate! As if that wasn't enough, she also included a small box of Russell Stover candies with a happy pumpkin on the wrapper. She packed all of this in a beautiful bag that is barely visible in the picture with everything else piled on top of it! The bag is nice and deep, with a big pocket inside, and I am willing to bet that she sewed the bag herself.

So I am completely overwhelmed, and I can't say thank you enough. What a terrific start to my birthday. I still have the celebration with the parents on Sunday, and then hopefully my dh will do a little something on Tuesday, since we will be at home handing out candy that evening. I think something special for dinner at least! As always, have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bad Night Last Night

Unfortunately, I had a bad night at work last night, so I have nothing new fiberwise to talk about this morning. We had to tell a couple of teenage girls to leave the library because they were loud and using bad language, and this resulted in a major argument and them calling all of the library staff, but me in particular, racist. Of course, ultimately they think it's a big joke to make adults angry. It's almost scary how emotionally manipulative these girls are. So it took some time to decompress when I got home. Luckily, there was a pussycat waiting for me at home who needed a lot of cuddling, so that helped too!

Whenever things go bad, though, even if I don't pick up hook or needles right at the time, I am always grateful that I have my projects waiting for me to soothe me. I also realized last night that since I started blogging, I now have this terrific online world to turn to as well to make me feel better. So I want to take the opportunity this morning to thank all of you who read this blog for dropping by over the past 5 months, reading what I have to say, and for leaving me encouraging comments just when I need them the most. I really appreciate it.

Now, if I can just resist the urge to buy yarn to really make myself feel better!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

October WIP & KAL Roundup

Even though October isn't quite finished yet, I thought I would review how I am doing on all of my KALs and WIPs this month. I have to admit, it's a mixed bag, but I am accomplishing quite a bit.

1. October Birthday Swap - This one qualifies as a success. It was a lot of fun and a great experience for a first swap. Lacey has received her gift, and she has written to say that mine is in the mail. I will post pictures as soon as I receive it.

2. Soctoberfest - As it turned out, I had a lot of time to knit last Saturday, and I had only brought my sock to work on. So I am currently working on the heel. It doesn't look all that interesting yet, but I will post a picture when I get it a little farther along. I won't have the pair done by the end of the month, but at least I am working on a sock.

3. Fiber Freaks Bags - these I just had to bail on. I just didn't have time to make even one bag this month. Oh, well.

4. Think Pink Challenge - I got my scarf sent in and I received a lovely, handwritten thank you note back from Sydney. I mention this because she has decided to make this a permanent charity project. She will accept scarves at any time and send them along to a hospital whenever she has 20 or so scarves to donate. I need to make a few other things first, but I will definitely donate more scarves in the future. I am thinking about making one of those triangular scarves in pink, or possibly continuing to try to convert that pattern into crochet. I'll let you know what I decide.

5. Whoduknit - Time is marching on, and although I have until 11/15 to create a project for Needled to Death, I can't seem to make up my mind about what to do. None of the ideas feel right. So I might just skip this book and work up a project next month for the Hound of the Baskervilles. I already have a good idea for that book.

6. 25 Things for Charity, the Red Scarf Project, 60 Scarves in 60 Days & the Crochet Guild - these have all been languishing while I have been playing this month. However, the deadline for the guild's next donation, as well as hospital sale, is fast approaching, so everything else is going to have to be put on hold while I do some charity work over the next month or so. Luckily I have until January to get the Red Scarf Project finished, but I don't want to put it off that long. And by the way, if you haven't visited the Red Scarf blog lately, you should. The gallery of scarves is growing daily, and they are all beautiful.

7. Liesel Scarf - no, I haven't forgotten Liesel. She has become my lunchtime project, and she is growing! I am almost finished with the first skein. She is going to be a short scarf, but that is ok. Sometimes I like a shorter scarf. And she has really been a great practice lace piece.

Holy cow! I'm glad I wrote this post, because I had no idea I had so many irons in the fire! I think I had better go off and knit or crochet now, except that this morning I am actually attending a book discussion on the Hound of the Baskervilles. Have a great day!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Deadline Knitter (with apologies to Calvin Trillin!)

So we are back from the wilds of New York State safe and sound, and my gift scarf was well received. So now I can tell you the story of my scarf!

To start, I have been using a Leisure Arts leaflet from 1990 called "Fashion Scarfs to Knit" to make this scarf. I use the pattern for the triangular scarf pictured on the front cover (the picture on the lower lefthand corner is a different pattern). When I bought this in the mid-1990s, I could not get any of the fashion yarns used in the patterns even at the very nice LYS where I purchased the leaflet. How times have changed since then! Over the years I have made many versions of this scarf, and here are a few I have kept for myself. (The top one, in green, is actually a Fiber Trends pattern with a crocheted border.)

So last Sunday and Monday, I started in on my gift scarf, and after 2 days of hard knitting, I had used up the two balls of yarn I had on hand, and I had this:

Apparently, this pattern requires 3 balls of yarn. Despite having used this pattern 6 or 8 times before, I somehow forgot that it took 3 skeins and I had decided that 2 skeins would be sufficient. (I almost always use Reynolds Odyssey. If I use something else, I seem to pay more attention to yardage requirements!) So Wednesday morning, despite having a 10 A.M. dentist appointment, I made my way up to the LYS in Southbury by about 9:10 in the morning on the off chance they would have another skein. Since I had bought this yarn over the Labor Day weekend, I was doubtful, but what else could I do? Luckily, there were still 18 skeins in the same dye lot available, so my project was saved! It took until Thursday evening, but here is the end result:

I am glad that I got it done and that my SIL liked her gift, but I have to say that deadline knitting (or crocheting) is a tad stressful. I'm glad I don't have to do that all the time. Now when is that November deadline for the hat, mitten, and scarf sets? What do you mean, it's less than 3 weeks away!? Ack!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Welcome to Whoduknit Members!

Now that they have all been here and gone, I want to extend a welcome and hello to all the Whoduknit members who have been visiting the blog this week! We have a new challenge that involves sleuthing on each other's blogs. So if you wonder about the comments that I have received about being investigated, no, I am not involved in a police matter! Of course this would come up on a week when I didn't have time to blog, although that probably made the sleuthing easier. And watch out, because as soon as I have time next week, I am going to be out sleuthing myself!

It's been a busy week for me. I have accomplished everything I needed to, but I have decided I will blog about that next week, after I give my gift. It's a good story, so it should be worth waiting for!

Actually, one of the biggest issues for me this week was thinking about which project, if any, I would bring this weekend. Ultimately, it just doesn't feel right to travel without any project. I finally decided that I would take the sock I started the weekend before last, since it is still Socktoberfest and since I have been wanting to travel with a sock!

Finally, Stephanie asked where in New York State we are headed to this afternoon. We are going to a small town called Cincinnatus, which is located about halfway between Cortland and Norwich. Have a great weekend - I know I intend to!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Travelling Again!

I just thought I should warn everyone that posting is going to be a little light this next week. My dh and I have been invited to visit my BIL & SIL next weekend to celebrate all our birthdays. They live in central New York, out in cow country. So it's always fun to go visit. But we want to leave on Friday afternoon, so I need to start work an hour early on Monday, Tuesday & Thursday to get the comp time on Friday. That is seriously going to impact blogging time this week!

I will pop in at some point this week with an FO, however. My dh asked me yesterday if I thought I could make a scarf for my SIL by next weekend, and of course I said yes. I had the perfect yarn in my stash from my haul on Labor Day. It's Reynolds Odyssey in a red colorway. She wears a lot of black, so the red should look really great with most of her outfits. And this gives me a great excuse to sit and knit a lot today! Should make for a restful day off.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I have accomplished two important things this week. I sent off my scarf for the Think Pink Challenge on Wednesday morning, and I sent off my October Birthday Swap gift this morning! I list these as accomplishments because often getting things in the mail is the hardest part of gift giving for me. I don't know why, but very often I will procrastinate something fierce rather than go to the post office. But I was determined not to do that this time.

I have today off because I am working tomorrow, so now I need to decide what I am going to do with the rest of the afternoon - work on existing projects or start something new. At the moment, starting something new is winning, but I will see if I can be more disciplined than that!

Finally, did you all know that tomorrow is the start of National Knitting Week? I received an email from Patternworks this week informing me of that fact, but when I did further research on the web, it turns out that it is National Knitting Week in the United Kingdom, which might explain why I hadn't heard about it before. Still, I think we should all help our knitting brethren "across the pond" celebrate next week. I suggest we KIP*, or better yet, KIP on socks and celebrate Socktoberfest too! Have a great weekend!

*Knit In Public

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mystery Thursday

It's a good thing I accomplished a lot this weekend, because I haven't accomplished much since. Tuesday was a zoo at work because of the holiday on Monday. It's almost not worth getting the holiday off when we have to work so hard the following day! So I was too tired to craft Tuesday night. I was all set to work on something last night when I got home, but then the cat decided to mess with the glassware on the top of my hutch and the only way to distract him was to cuddle with him on my lap most of the evening.

So what's a librarian to do when she has no fiber news to talk about? Why, talk about books, of course! Especially when I actually had some time to read last weekend along with everything else. I finished up The Hound of the Baskervilles on Sunday and then plunged right in to Needled to Death, Maggie Sefton's second book in her Kelly Flynn series. I am a little out of sync with these books, because Needled to Death is the October book on Whoduknit and The Hound of the Baskervilles is the November book. However, out in the real world, my library is doing a book discussion series on Sherlock Holmes this fall, and Hound is our October book. (We're also reading The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr in November and The Beekeeper's Apprentice in December, in case you are looking for a few good books on Sherlock Holmes!) I'm not a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, but I did enjoy reading Hound. And I highly recommend Maggie Sefton. Her characters and descriptions are extremely enjoyable.

I had just finished reading Maggie Sefton's first book in the series, Knit One, Kill Two on vacation in September, and I have to say that it has been a study in contrasts reading Sefton and Doyle consecutively. Sefton's series is set in and around a yarn shop called House of Lambspun in Colorado (yes, another fiction book set in a real yarn shop), and her descriptions of the yarns in the shop are enough to make a knitter's head spin! Consequently, her books are full of color and texture. Doyle, on the other hand, at least in Hound, creates a monochromatic landscape with his words. In part this is because the book is mostly set on a moor (once the action leaves London), and in part because the story itself is fairly somber. So while it is very easy to come up with knitting projects out of Sefton's books, it is really going to be a challenge to come up with something from Hound. I have an idea that I am working on, but it's a good thing I have until December 15th to get it done! And I can definitely say that whatever it is, it will be made with black or grey yarn. I just can't imagine using color to represent anything in the book.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Soctoberfest Socks

So I managed to do one more thing this past weekend - Exhibit C as promised yesterday:

I cast on for my second pair of socks. Yes, I'm sure last week that it seemed like I was ignoring Socktoberfest after being so excited about it. But it seemed a little pointless to fill out Lolly's sock history questionaire when I have only made one pair of socks. Actually, reading Lolly's blog and visiting some other sites participating in Soctoberfest, I am realizing just how new I am to this wonderful world of socks! This yarn is Sirdar Snuggly, a DK weight nylon/acrylic blend. Yes, I am using my new KnitPicks size 0 dps, so it is going to be slow going. I have decided that I need to work on tightening my tension so that I can some day use fingering weight yarn, but I don't want to do that just yet. I just want to get some more practice with the various parts of the sock before I work on gauge.

So this morning should be fun. I am going to visit my LYS to buy yarn, but I won't be going off my yarn diet since the yarn will be for someone else. Yes, I have got to get busy and get my October Birthday Swap gift in the mail by the end of the week. As I suspected, October is flying by!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What a Weekend!

So my goals for this weekend were threefold - clean the house & get laundry done, help my dh do some yard work, and rest and recuperate from the cold I had been fighting since last Thursday. Amazingly enough, I met all three goals by seriously pacing myself each day - long periods of inactivity punctuated by brief flurries of activity. Unfortunately, something had to give this weekend, though, and that something was my crochet guild meeting. So I still don't know how to do modular crochet. Dee should have pictures of the workshop up soon, so I can see what I missed on Sunday!

The good news is that since I had so much down time this weekend, I actually got some knitting done. As a matter of fact, this was the most fun knitting weekend I have had in a long time. Exhibit A: I made a pair of mittens to complete this hat, mitten & scarf set for the Salvation Army.

I hadn't made mittens in a long time. At some point, I had tried to put together the best parts of several mitten patterns to make the perfect mitten, but the first mitten I made with that pattern was an unmitigated disaster and I hadn't made one since! The pattern still isn't perfect. I still need to adjust some of the numbers. But this pair of mittens came out much, much better and should keep someone's hands nice and warm this winter. The entire set is made out of Caron's Simply Soft in a raspberry color. I used a mistake rib for the scarf and the Addison Hat pattern for the hat.

Exhibit B: the Liesel Scarf.
This felt like a gift from the knitting gods! Not only did I find time to work on it, but it is the first piece of lace I have made that has gone well. I love the results the few times I have tried to make lace, but the process has left something to be desired. But this scarf is really fun to work on! The pattern is complicated enough to be interesting but easy enough to be enjoyable. I am using a Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora that I got on sale at Herrschners at some point this year. The only problem so far with the scarf is that every time I sit down to work on it, I find myself humming "The Lonely Goatherd". Although I'm not sure why, since "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" would be the more appropriate song for Liesel. I guess early exposure to The Sound of Music is something you never recover from!

I'm running out of time, so Exhibit C will have to wait until tomorrow! Have a great day.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Inspiration Part 2

I'm still thinking about inspiration after yesterday's post, and I remembered another aspect of it that I wanted to mention. I know that I have kind of been standing back and laughing at myself joining so many groups and "alongs" online. I laugh because what I am doing online feels so much liking playing. I really haven't had this much fun in years. The only odd thing is that I am having trouble explaining this to my family, who probably think I am a little crazy right now!

But on a more serious level, I find myself joining groups online for the same reason I join guilds in the real world. The contact with others doing the same crafts is both educational and inspirational. I really never used to finish anything until I joined my guilds. I still don't finish everything I start, but my track record is much improved! It also occurred to me recently that it has been a year now since I attended my last knitting guild meeting, and I miss them. Unfortunately my work schedule just doesn't permit me to make the meetings. So the contact online with other knitters is really important to me. I'm sure that I won't finish every project on time, but then neither do a lot of other people, and at least there aren't penalties online for not finishing! And in the meantime, I get to learn from others in the groups and be inspired by the projects they are creating.

So does this mean that I am considering joining a few more groups? Yes! I have found two more KALs that I may join this weekend - Warm Hands and My First Toe Up Sock (an offshoot of Socktoberfest). I fully intend to knit some mittens this fall for charity, and I really want to try toe-up socks, so both seem to be perfect for me and overlap things I am already doing. And if you wonder how I find all these KALs, there is a list that I check regularly to see how things are coming and what's new.

And as if I don't have enough going on, it occurred to me that my crochet guild meeting is this Sunday already. We are having a workshop to celebrate the group's 5th anniversary. Barbara Hillary is coming to teach us modular crochet, and to learn the technique we are each going to make a baby sweater that will be donated to charity. So add that to my growing list of October projects! Good thing it's a 3 day weekend!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sources of Inspiration

Inspiration comes in many forms, and I have been thinking lately about some of the blogs who are providing me with inspiration of one sort or another.

The first one is called Yarnstorm. I know this is a popular blog, but I had to mention it because her pictures are just so gorgeous. The light must just be better in England! I really wish I had that good an eye for photography. Her writing is terrific too, and I find I am fascinated, even when she isn't talking about knitting. I especially appreciate her take on British literature and the arts.

The next is a blog that I only just found in the last week or so. It is called Brooklyn Tweed, and I am just in awe. This man can knit like a dream, and then he takes incredible photos of his work. The site makes me want to work very hard to improve both my knitting and my photography skills! Looking at the photos makes me realize that I really need to take pictures when the light is better than first thing in the morning, especially now that the days are getting shorter. I also have to admit that I find pictures of knitted lace in particular to be very soothing, so this is a site I will turn to when I just need a brief time out at work.

Finally, if you haven't found them yet, check out What Not to Knit and What Not to Crochet. In addition to being hilarious, I find both sites to be what we call at work "oddly inspiring". You know how it is. You see incompetence promoted, or someone who writes dreadful prose gets published, and you think "if that person can do that, so can I". That's "oddly inspiring". So if someone can make money on Ebay selling full length knitted cat suits, then surely I can someday earn some income from this hobbie of mine!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Handpaint Country

I thought I would devote today's post to Whoduknit, since I am finally caught up on the September book and project! I know I promised you an FO today, and if you check out the Whoduknit blog, you can see what I have accomplished this week. It's not much, but it's something!

Back in August, we read The Tooth of Time by Sue Henry. The book is set in Taos, New Mexico, and some of the action takes place at a yarn shop called Weaving Southwest. The author also mentions a book called Handpaint Country by Cheryl Potter and has the main character knitting a ruana from a pattern in the book. Well, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look at the book and see the pattern for myself, so I put in an interlibrary loan request and then pretty much forgot about the book. I guess it wasn't easy to get hold of, because the week before I left for vacation, the book finally arrived on my desk. (I'm not complaining, mind you. My ILL people are wonderful and hard working. Sometimes it just takes time to get a book.)

I'm bringing all this up now because it is almost time to give the book back but I do want to talk a little bit about it. If you get a chance to read the book, take it! The book is a feast for the eyes and will appeal to anyone who does anything with yarn. The author and her photographer travelled around the country visiting hand-dyers of yarn, talking with them about their techniques, and photographing the yarns. Each chapter also includes 2 knitting patterns using the yarns to their best advantage. Some of the dyers are well known, such as Koigu, Cherry Tree Hill, Fiesta Yarns and Weaving Southwest. Others you might not have heard of. All of them are doing beautiful work, however. The book concludes with notes from the designers of the patterns on using hand dyed yarns and a brief tutorial on the techniques and terms used in the hand dying process. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to read the book as thoroughly as I would like, but even just glancing through it was a delight. And with so many handpainted yarns available these days, it was really interesting to see something of the techniques used to make them.

Well, I'm off to Borders for Coffee, Chat & Crochet with my guild. Have a great day!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Busy Day - Busy Month!

This is a busy day mostly because I am not the only one in this household born in October! Today is my dh's birthday. We had a family dinner last night to celebrate. We went to a German restaurant called the Eastside up in New Britain. If you want to share the experience, visit their website and click on the "Ticky Tocky" down at the bottom of their homepage! I'm only working a half day today, so I will be able to come home this afternoon and celebrate with him. This is probably a good thing, because on top of working the past 7 days (every day since we got back from vacation), he now has a cold that I brought home from the library, and he has just left for his 8 A.M. dentist appointment which he made before he knew that he would be off from work today. So far, this is not shaping up to be a good day, but I will see what I can do to improve things this afternoon!

This is a busy month mostly because I can't seem to stop joining things. I have been meaning to add some buttons to my sidebar for the things that I have already joined. Then, I wandered over to Fiber Freaks yesterday, just to check in with them. I really wasn't intending to sign up for anything, just see how the October KAL and CAL were shaping up. Well, both are focusing on bags this month, and as I was checking out some of the links I absolutely fell in love with this little beauty - the Isabeau purse. So I copied the buttons for both "alongs" and threw them on the sidebar too. We'll see what I get done. Then, along comes Dee this morning with a new challenge - "60 Scarves in 60 Days". Since I need to make some scarves over the next 2 months, I should be able to help her meet her goal. That's the only thing that is going to save me this month - at least some of the groups overlap!

And just so you don't think all I do is join things, I want to say that in the past couple of weeks, I have made 2 hats and 2 scarves. All I have to do is make mittens for each set and they will be complete. And I spent yesterday working on my September WhoDuKnit project, which is still only about half done. So no pictures yet, but I am getting there. No post tomorrow because I have an early staff meeting. So have a great day, and I will see you on Wednesday, hopefully with at least one FO to my name!