Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It Started in December...

... and it's growing for myself and others. Let me explain. Back in December, Jane over at Yarnstorm posted about starting a ripple afghan. She isn't really a crocheter, but she chose to crochet this afghan. I was enchanted, partly because When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit has been on our summer reading lists and the title amuses us a bit - I mean, juxtaposing Hitler and a pink rabbit? Some day I really need to read the book. I just love the picture of the pink bear wearing the ripple afghan as a scarf. I wanted to make both a pink bear and a ripple scarf.

Then, by the end of the month, Jane finished her afghan. I immediately wanted to make a ripple afghan. How can you look at that afghan and not want one for yourself? And it would go a long way towards using up my stash of Simply Soft.

Then, Alicia started a ripple afghan as well. Kim over at CrochetMe called Alicia's afghan "the most gorgeous ripple afghan ever", and with the exception of Jane's, I am inclined to agree.

Now, this morning, I find that there is a crochet along for ripple afghans. I am so proud of the crocheters! This is one of the first CALs I have seen on the web (other than at specific forums).

So now the struggle begins. I need another project like I need a hole in the head! But I really want to ripple! I have had the book 200 Ripple Stitches on order at the library since December, and it hasn't come in yet, which will slow me down. I really like the soft ripple from the book. I don't want to find another ripple pattern. And using all those colors worries me too. What if I choose colors that don't look good together? And that is exactly why this project would be a really good exercise for me. I think and worry too much about things when I should just go for them. Rest assured, if I start riding the crest of my own wave, you all will be the first to know!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Not Much to Show

I don't have much to show from last week or the weekend, for once. I knew that I wouldn't get any knitting or crochet projects finished this past weekend, so I concentrated on finishing the 3 mystery books I had somehow managed to start lately. I actually finished reading 2 of them and came close on a 3rd last night. I need to clear the decks, because I am really looking forward to the March book for Whoduknit - Haunted Ground by Erin Hart.

The 2 books I finished are Bicycle Built for Murder, by Kate Kingsbury and The Dutch Blue Error, by William Tapply. Bicycle was a nice little English cozy mystery, set during WWII in the village of Sitting Marsh. (Does it get more English than that?!) I think I had read a previous book by the author, but I can't remember the title. Anyway, I enjoyed it and I have the next book in the series here at home to read.

I picked up the William Tapply book because I have heard very good things about him. Dutch Blue Error was the 2nd book he had written in the series, back in the 1980s, and I will have to try something written more recently because I can't say I was very impressed with this book. Tapply is a good writer and storyteller, but I just felt that Robert Parker had done the same thing only better. Still, I am glad I stuck with it and got the book finished.

So now I am working on finishing John Dunning's 3rd book in his Clifford Janeway series - The Bookman's Promise. I love this series. The detective is an excop turned bookseller, and the storylines are fairly involved and revolve around rare books. It just doesn't get any better than that for me! I will try and finish this book up in the next day or two.

Posting may be a bit light this week. I had a bit of an emergency with my mom last week. She had a bad nosebleed that took hours to stop. So we are now in another round of doctor visits and tests to see why it happened. Luckily my hours at work are somewhat flexible, but I will have to make up the time that I am out with her. I also have to send out the first crochet guild newsletter sometime this week, so I am going to be a busy girl for a few days here! Rest assured that I will continue to work on my projects, and maybe by the time I get back, I will have some FOs to show off!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What a Difference a Yarn Makes

Apparently, I've done it again. I have posted about a project without giving all the details. I just get so involved in what I am writing that I forget the important stuff! Mary Lynn left a comment yesterday about my hat, wondering if I could felt it to make it smaller. I have seen pictures of felted Fair Isle projects, and they look wonderful. You can really see the colorwork even with the felting. So I think that mosaic knitting would felt well, too. Unfortunately, I used Caron Simply Soft for my hat, so felting isn't an option. However, I am intrigued by the idea, and I think that felting mosaic knitting is going on my to do list now!

On Sunday night, after I had finished my hat, I started looking through my knitting projects for something else to work on, and I pulled out my Bejeweled scarf. I had started this scarf in January, and I have worked on it in fits and starts since then. I knew I wasn't happy with it, and on Sunday night I decided that while I like the yarn and the pattern, I did not like the way the two were working together. The scarf felt clunky to me, and a scarf called "Bejeweled" needed to feel light and airy. I gave it some thought and then pulled out some Plymouth Wildflower DK from my stash. The yarn is a cotton/acrylic blend, and it does have a tendency to split, so I have to be careful knitting with it. I also went down 2 needle sizes, and stopped increasing when I got to about 5 inches. I haven't gotten very far, but I am much happier with this version of Bejeweled.

Once I had determined that the new version of Bejeweled was working, I frogged the old version. One of the new members over at the Year of the Alpaca, Criquette, reminded me of a scarf pattern that I had been wanting to try but had forgotten about. It is the Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf. So I immediately cast on with the yarn from the old Bejeweled, Nashua Handspun's Ivy, and I am thrilled with the results of this experiment too! Ivy is an alpaca/merino wool blend with a silver metallic thread running through it, giving it just a little glitter - very fancy! I should also add that when my dh saw this scarf, he informed me that the stitch pattern would work well for a man, although obviously in a different yarn. Since the last scarf I made him is on the large size, I am now thinking about making him a narrower scarf in this pattern. And I think I might just have the yarn in my stash to do it!

So now, instead of one scarf that I was feeling so so about, I now have 2 scarves started that I am enjoying working on and will enjoy wearing. It has occurred to me, however, that I have at least 4 knitted and 1 crocheted scarves started at the moment, so I think that the next round of finishing up WIPS better involve scarves!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Slipping and Knitting

What a great weekend! I feel like I have played for 3 days. (Considering that I was spectacularly uninterested in doing housework this weekend, except for the absolute bare necessity, that statement is not far from the truth.) The basketball game was a lot of fun. UConn won and clinched a share of the Big East title in the process. I was a little disappointed with AC Mooore, but I still managed to find some yarn to buy! I also made up for it yesterday by visiting all of the craft stores in the area and finding yet more yarn to buy. Between sales and coupons, I bought a lot of yarn for not much money. I didn't take a picture because it was mostly acrylic yarn in baby colors for guild projects. You will see finished projects made from it eventually! And as far as my yarn diet goes, I guess this weekend I used my "get out of jail free" card. Now I really do have to be good until July!

On Sunday, I finished up a project that I had picked up again the weekend before last. I had originally started this one in November of 2005 - the pattern was in a magazine, making it easy to date. This was my first attempt at mosaic knitting. Mosaic knitting is a technique for adding color to a project while only knitting with one strand of yarn per row. The second color is brought up into each row by using slipped stitches. Consequently, the patterns tend to look rather angular or geometrical, like the tiles in mosaics (hence the name).

I realize there is nothing in the picture to give perspective, so let me tell you the problem with this FO. It is huge! There might be some men out there with a head big enough to wear this hat, but of course the colors are so feminine that giving it to a man isn't an option. Apparently, not only did I not check gauge when I started a year and a half ago, I actually went up a needle size - always a nono for me! However, I am not too disappointed. This was a practice piece so that I could learn the technique, and I have an idea for a class I might put together on mosaic crochet for my guild, so this will serve as an example of mosaic knitting for comparison.

Finally, I want to thank the person who left the anonymous comment reminding me that Connecticut does have a professional major league sports team - the Connecticut Sun, a WNBA team. I had forgotten about them, even though my dh and I are talking about trying to see one of their games this summer. I will add, however, that the reason CT has a WNBA franchise is because of our support of UConn women's basketball. The WNBA decided that it would be financially lucrative to build a team around former UConn stars Nykesha Sales and Asjha Jones, and so far, I think it is working out well for them. Especially since the team has been the Eastern Conference regular season winners for three years now.

Have a terrific Fat Tuesday!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Looking Forward to the Weekend

Despite only working 2 days this week, I am tired and really looking forward to the weekend coming up. The 2 days we did work this week have been among the busiest I have ever spent in 8 years at the library. Then there was the unexpected pleasure of coming home yesterday at lunch just in time to watch the plow fill in the bottom of my driveway again. I barely got my car in the driveway and then had to cut my lunch hour short to go out and shovel my way out to get back to work. I was not a happy camper!

Consequently, I don't have any knitting or crocheting to show for myself today. I do have a great day coming up tomorrow, though, and yet another 3 day weekend to look forward to. Tomorrow morning, I will go to Weight Watchers first thing. When I get home, my dh and I are going out to breakfast and then making our way up to Hartford to watch the UConn women's basketball team play at noon. I believe they are playing Pittsburgh tomorrow. If you don't live in CT, then it is probably hard to understand how exciting this is. We don't have any major league professional sports teams in this state, so we really support our UConn Huskies - especially the basketball teams. But that means that tickets to games are basically impossible to come by. Tomorrow is state employee appreciation day, however, and we were able to get tickets that way. One of the small perks of being married to a state employee!

We are also going out to dinner tomorrow night for a belated Valentine's celebration, but obviously we will have some time between the game and dinner. So last night my dh asked me if there is anything I would like to do on our way home tomorrow afternoon. I must have been a little slow on the uptake, because he persisted and said "AC Moore?" Well, duh, of course I want to go to AC Moore! As it turns out, there is a bookstore he would like to visit nearby, so he is going to leave me at the store for a while and then pick me up again. So I am going to guarantee today that I am going off my yarn diet tomorrow! I am a little annoyed with myself that I deleted my 40% off coupon this week, but I don't think that will slow me down much. What to buy will be the question that keeps me occupied today at work.

Hopefully, with another 2 days off after tomorrow, I will have more to show for myself next week. Have a great weekend, and a great President's Day!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Day Fun!

Yesterday was the perfect kind of snow day. I only had to go out once and shovel, about 4:00 in the afternoon. Otherwise, I had a very relaxing day. I found a "Project Runway" marathon on Bravo, and I was very happy crocheting along with the crazy designers. My dh and I got to spend Valentine's Day together. Under normal circumstances, we would both have been out until 8:00 last night. And our team won last night! Go UConn!

I finished up a hat and bootie set that I had been working on for far too long. I started the hat while I was on vacation in September! I don't know why it took me so long to finish. However, the baby is due in 2 weeks, so I knew I had to get my rear in gear and finish this up. I am giving it to a coworker whose daughter is rather unexpectedly pregnant again. The daughter's first child is 10 years old, and she really didn't think she would be going through this again. So I thought she would appreciate a little something handmade.

I also worked on the edging of one of the baby blankets, but it still isn't finished. It always amazes me how long it takes to finish some projects. I really need to keep this in mind when I get in a "starting" mood. Luckily I have been a "finishing" mood since the beginninng of the year. The only new project I have started in that time frame is the Lucy Bag. However, I think the older UFOs are multiplying on me all by themselves. Every time I go up to the yarn room, I seem to find more items that need finishing!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wednesday Ramblings

So I have no more FOs to show off, like I had hoped, but I am still working away on numerous projects. I had pulled out yet another bag with projects in it because I felt the need for some mindless crochet, and I have been working away steadily on those projects since last week. The bag contained 2 baby blankets and a child's sweater. Oddly, I started all three projects about a year ago, and all are pale green in color. I must have been in a green phase! I think all 3 projects will be donated to charity when they are finished, along with the pale purple baby blanket that still needs edged. Since today is a snow day, I will hopefully get something finished up.

I really do need to get busy, because February is half over, and I don't have much to show for myself yet. I did discover another knitalong that might help, though. It is called 40 Days for Others, and it will run from February 21st through Easter. I will admit, as a Protestant, I have never observed Lent, but I like the symbolism of this KAL nonetheless. If I can get some of my ongoing projects finished up, I would like to work on some preemie blankets, hats and booties, which is the next charity my crochet guild will be working on. So, wish me luck today and over the next 2 weeks!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

February's Charity Project - Chemo Hats

Just in case you thought I was neglecting my charity work, here is a picture of the 5 chemo hats I am donating this afternoon to my crochet guild. I intended to get more done, but I don't know where the time went. I've been trying too hard to get some UFOs finished! But some of them are for charity, as well, so I guess it all evens out.

Hopefully, I will be back on Tuesday with another FO!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hat Specs

Well, last night did not go as planned. I didn't get out of work until almost 7:00, so I just stopped in at the LYS and told them that I wouldn't make it to "sit and knit" night. I still needed to go home and feed myself and the pussycat, and the shop closes at 8:00, so I just wasn't going to make it. So my hat will have to wait for next Thursday night (when I might just get to "sit and knit" night on time) for its seam. Then, when I got home, I realized that I had completely forgotten that I was supposed to pick my mom up after work and take her to pick up her car from the shop! I called, and she was very gracious. We will get her car today on my lunch hour. There's just been too much going on this week (and none of it interesting).

In the meantime, I also realized that I didn't give you any specs on the hat yesterday. Allow me to rectify that now. The pattern is called the Waupoos hat and is found in the Mission Falls booklet "Quinte Scrapbook" by Mags Kandis. I used Mission Falls 1824 merino wool, and the only thing I changed were some of the colors in the hat. It was fun to knit, and the charts were very clear to read. I have to say that there are some other great looking patterns in the booklet as well. When I get a few more things finished up, I make one or two of them.

One more day of work, and then I have a 3 day weekend. Yes, I get Lincoln's birthday off. It's still a state holiday here in CT, so my dh (who is a state employee) will be off with me as well. I am going to try and finish a few more projects, but it has also occurred to me that I have 3 mysteries started, and I just got my hands on the new Deborah Crombie book yesterday. So I may have to take some time to read this weekend instead. And I have crochet guild on Sunday. So it's going to be a great weekend. Have a good one, everyone!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Maybe February Really is for Finishing!

Spurred on by a new KAL (that I haven't joined but am keeping an eye on for inspiration), February is for Finishing, I have been digging around in some of my UFOs and actually working on some of them! I found 2 baby blankets that I started about a year ago, and I worked on both of them at my Borders get together yesterday morning. They are nice, mindless crochet projects, which seems to be what I am in the mood for this week!

Actually, I think I have needed a couple of mindless projects to work on because my main accomplishment this week has taken quite a bit of thought and perseverence. On Sunday, I decided that it was time to finish up the Fair Isle hat that I have also been working on for a year now. I took the class last February, but then in March we closed on my mom's house with about 2 weeks notice. So I put the hat down and never got back to it. So here it is, almost totally completed:

It is pinned, but I still need to sew the seam. I might also block it first. I am going to take it to "sit and knit" night tonight for a second opinion (and to relearn how to sew the seam - this one is going to require a different stitch than I usually do). But it is so close to being done that I just had to show it off!

Monday, February 05, 2007

More Good News!

Two of the charities that I have been involved in came to an end (for now, at least) last week, and both far exceeded their goals! Behold the power of the Internet and of knitters and crocheters when the word goes out and they get motivated:

First up, the Red Scarf Project. I believe the OFA had a goal of 2,500 scarves. From Norma we hear that last week they had received 5,500 scarves and were expecting 6,500 by this past weekend! Holy Cow!

And from Dee, Save the Children had an event on Saturday to send the caps on their way, first to Washington, D.C. and then around the world. Again, I believe that the goal was 250,000. They actually received 282,000 caps! Again, Wow!

So, if you participated in either charity drive, or even if you helped out with another charity project, stand up and give yourself a pat on the back! You deserve it!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Not Much News

I don't have much fiber news today, but I wanted to pop in and relate some other very good news that I received yesterday. I made it to my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday morning and found out that I lost 5.8 lbs. this past week! I am still stunned by that news. I have never lost so much in a single week. And it really wasn't that much of an effort! So I am gungho to keep going this week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Afghan Squares and Project Spectrum

I don't know about you all, but I am finding myself in the mood to make afghan squares this month. I think this has to do with 2 new charity drives that I have run across this week.

The first one you may have already heard about. DIY Network is having a Knitty Gritty marathon on Sunday evening during the Super Bowl, and at the same time they are launching a year long drive to collect 7" x 9" squares for Warm Up America. They are encouraging their viewers to have a "Knit In" during the marathon and get started making squares. I have yet to successful complete a square the size that Warm Up America wants, but I am willing to give it another go! And having no interest in the Super Bowl, I am really looking forward to catching some of the marathon as well.

The other charity drive is actually a contest as well. The Lone Knitter is looking for 8' x 8" squares or full blankets in 3 sizes. Each item will give you so many chances in the drawing for some very nice yarn prizes. (The direct link to the contest isn't working this morning, but if you scroll down, you will find the entry.) I am contemplating sending her the baby blanket that is almost finished, if I ever get back to it!

I also want to point out that today is the start of Project Spectrum 2.0. I can't believe that it is February 1st already, but it's here, ready or not! I have to try and get organized this weekend and pull out some yarn or some UFOs that fit the blue, white and grey colors that we will be playing with until April.

Weather permitting, I am going to Weight Watchers tomorrow morning, at the ungodly hour of 7:45 A.M., because I am working on Saturday. I will try to post Saturday morning, but in case I don't make it, let me wish you all a terrific weekend now!