Sunday, April 29, 2007

Body complete!

Finally! I finished the body of my Sahara and it looks fabulous!

It takes forever to add the beads but I think I like it better with the beads worked into the pattern than just randomly placed as they would be with prebeaded yarn. I also really like the diamond lace rib. It looks almost like regular ribbing on the inside of the sweater.

The next decision is whether to do the sleeves (which the pattern says to do) or the neckline next. Maybe I'll comprimise and do one sleeve then the neckline then the other sleeve! Who knows?! Who cares?!
I love everything about this pattern! I think top down sweaters are the way to go since they can be tried on and adjustments made as they are being knit. This was how I determined to make more increases for the hips and it fits like a dream!

That's it! No kitty photos this post! I'll make up for it next time. I promise!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gettin' There!

I can't believe that I have finally gotten to the lace trim on the hem of my Sahara! Granted I still have to do the neckline lace and the sleeves, but the body of the sweater is done and it fits like a charm! My quandry has been how to do the beads. The lace pattern is as follows:

Row 1: P2, yo, k1, yo
Row 2: P2, k3
Row 3: P2, k3
Row 4: P2 k3tog TBL

Two repeats of the lace pattern are done for a total of 8 rows. Someone told me that they added the beads to the middle K stitch every other group of 3 k stitches on row 3 only. That makes sense but it wasn't enough beads for me. I added them to the middle k stitch every other row on row 2 then to the alternate groups of 3 on row 3. This created a slight zig zag the way the beads lie. I'm not sure if I just should have done it to every group of 3 on one row only or not. I'll be able to tell when I finish the lace. I have finished 4 rows for one repeat of the lace as you can see in the photo:

The next question for me was how to actually knit the beads in. I've seen a lot of different techniques but I decided on knitting the first stitch, bringing the yarn in front with a bead, slipping the next stitch as if to knit, then bringing the yarn to the back and knitting the next stitch. This way the bead is centered right in front of the stitch where you want it and it won't slide to the back of the work. It is rather time consuming, but the result is nice. I wasn't sure how this yarn would work with the beads, but it is holding up well.

These beads are Miyuki size 5/0 triangle beads with a color core (in burnt orange) and clear glass outer layer. I used a dental floss threader to string them on the yarn. These are handy little items. I happened to have a pack of them because I use them to thread my serger loopers. I'm so glad I remembered that I had them! I only strung enough for one repeat of the lace so I will have to cut the yarn and string more. I counted the beads used in the first repeat so at least I know how many to string this time.

The pattern has you do the sleeves next, but I think I will do the neckline lace so that I can actually try the sweater on and see how it really fits. It's so open without the lace panel that it's difficult to gauge the fit.

I used my new KnitPicks needles for the lace. I like the points on these needles and find them excellent for lace knitting. The cables are odd to me. I'm so used to my Addis which have some spring whereas these cables are rather limp. Also, the Addis at this length (24") have a curve where the cable connects to the needles which I like. There is no way I could've done a k3togTBL with the Addis though--at least not without a great deal of frustration.

Maryland Sheep and Wool festival is next weekend. I have to plan accordingly. It's so easy to go overboard and get stuff for the stash which isn't how I like to buy yarn. I prefer to purchase yarn with a specific pattern in mind otherwise I end up with odd amounts that I can't use for what I like. I have two patterns in mind: Stephanie Japel's Cable Down Raglan from the Spring IK and the Stitch Diva Simple Knitted Bodice. The Cable Down Raglan needs a plain merino or blend worsted weight. The Simple Knitted Bodice needs a drapey yarn. The sample is done in Tilli Tomas Plain and Simple with her beaded yarn for the lace panels. Tilli Tomas will have a stand at the festival so I can actually look at this yarn which I've never seen in person. I won't buy it unless it is discounted because I don't see myself knitting this pattern any time soon. They carry this yarn on Kpixie and send out coupons periodically so I will wait for that otherwise. I've learned to walk through all the vendors before buying yarn because as soon as I see something I like, I can almost count on finding something I like even better later. So I scout it all out first and only purchase something if it is a one of a kind type of item. What I'm really in the market for is some undyed yarn to play with. I have two skeins of Bare merino from my Secret Pal and I would like to get some other fibers. Earth Guild sets up there and they have everything imaginable for dying so I can get the dyes and chemicals from them. Friday I will be taking an all day cabling class. Apparently they will cover every type of cable imaginable! I have to watch the funds as Bird's 21st birthday is the following week!

Of course I have to show kitties. Greg was sloppy this week. Usually he manages to crawl under the bedspread without mussing the bed, but I went upstairs the other day and found this:

I'll have to have a serious talk with him about that. Meanwhile, that night Harley was the one who was hiding.

I drape my bathtowel over the edge of the whirlpool to dry and Harley gets in the tub and tries to hide under the towel! Often he will pull it down into the tub and walk in a circle until the towel forms a bird's nest type of structure in which he sleeps the entire night! Go figure!

For once, Mikey's acting like the normal one!

I have to get back to finishing my lace so I can take it off the needles tonight!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Making progress!

I've been working on my Sahara sweater for the knit along. I haven't done too much this week, but I have gotten to the waist and I'm starting the hip increases. Being someone with a fair amount of "junk in the trunk," I'm adding a few more increases since the pattern has the hip and bust measurements being the same. Believe me, my hips and bust are far from being the same measurement--and they probably haven't even been close since I was about 5 years old! Here is my progress so far:

I finished the mid month dishcloth KAL. I like the mid month ones because they are pattern stitches instead of picture cloths. I learned something though. I've learned that you can't talk to someone while knitting lace patterns. I made a boo boo on this one which you can see if you look closely. I realized it at the time, but decided against frogging the row. I find frogging stitches which have yarn overs and decreases to be a mess so I figured I'd live with it. It is a dishcloth after all. It will end up with spaghetti sauce all over it.

I like doing the dishcloths because they are small and allow me to try new stitches. The knit alongs provide some diversion from my larger projects since they only involve knitting about 9 rows a night! I had a kitty helper when blocking this one. I typically block my items by pinning them down on a blocking board then steaming them with my Rowenta Euro steamer. I had done this last night and left the cloth to dry all night. When I opened the sewing room door this morning, a little black and white fuzzy thing ran out and I found all the pins --there were about 30 of them--were removed and lying flat on the blocking board! I think a certain feline made a bed out of my dishcloth! Samantha has a habit of running in the sewing room when I'm not looking and then she hides. Sometimes I go in there and she's spread out comfortably on my sewing chair or the blocking board!

Speaking of kitty helpers--they've discovered the construction in the dining room!

Notice how the party kept growing! It started with 2 then increased to 4! I can tell you one thing--black cats and drywall dust don't mix! I think they have devised a little plan in their little feline brains. They all love to be brushed and whenever they get dusty, they get groomed. I think they've figured that out. Harley especially can't wait. Whenever I'm brushing one of the others, he pushes his way in to get his. He can be in a different part of the house and he just appears out of nowhere!

Harley--doin' the cow! (again!)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stash Enhancement

The postman helped me out with my stash enhancement efforts today! Keep in mind, however, that there is more than one type of stash! For me, there are basically three types: Fabric, yarn and shoes! My fabric stash is definitely the largest. In fact, I would say that I could probably clothe all the inhabitants of a small nation with my stash! I am starting to get rid of the fabric that I don't think I'll ever use. The problem is that I only buy quality stuff so I hesitate to just donate it to the thrift store. I have some lovely quilting cottons which I may end up donating to Project Linus so that it will be put to charitable use.

My yarn stash is still manageable. I don't buy random skeins of yarn. I usually buy yarn for a specific pattern. I do have one container with felting yarns and one with cotton yarns for dish cloths but everything else has a purpose! I've been planning to make Annie Modesitt's Corset Tank Top so I purchased the yarn for that.

This is the exact yarn used in the pattern photo. I found this yarn, which is Artyarns Regal Silk, on sale at Sarah's Yarns for $11.75 per skein! It retails for $21 so this was a bargain! I had hoped to get some to make the Simple Knitted Bodice by Stitch Diva, but Sarah was out of all the colors I wanted! I ended up only getting the two skeins of the dark green from her. I quickly put in an ordeer to Fabulous Yarns. For those who haven't purchased yarn there, I highly recommend them. Judy, the owner is very friendly and accommodating. They discount their yarn--10% off for purchases under $50 and 20% off for purchases over $50! Their prices are already cheaper without the discount. This yarn is $18.50 there so with a 20% discount, it ends up being $15! Still a lot cheaper than the 21 bucks!

Speaking of Annie Modesitt--Is anyone else as excited as I am about her new book, Romantic Hand Knits as I am? I love the curvy model on the cover! It's nice to see knit garments on curvy women who aren't afraid to show off their curves! Check out this page of her blog to see some of the designs which will be in the book. Scroll down and check out the olive green lacy top! I am so making that!

I still want to get something for the Simple Knitted Bodice. The pattern features Tilli Tomas which is pricey. I don't mind paying for it, if it ends up being what turns me on. The problem is that I've never seen this yarn in person! Fortunately, I see that Tilli Tomas will have a stand at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, so I may end up spending my "allowance" all in one place!

My third stash was also enhanced today!

I saw these shoes in a magazine last summer and fell in love with them. I checked them out at the Cole Haan store in Boston only to find that they were $190 which was more than I wanted to pay. Last week a pair in the bronze appeared on Ebay for a fraction of the original price which I seriously considered buying, but I decided to check out the Cole Haan website which, much to my delight, had them on sale for even less and in the color I liked! They are an interesting silver striped leather and the soles are made by Nike Air. They feel like you are walking on a cloud! They will be perfect for work since they have enough height to wear with my long jeans and they are so incredibly comfortable!

Here's a closeup of the leather!

My day started off with a surprise when I went into my classroom and found a surprise on my desk! My friend Pheelya left me a little box with some beaded stitch markers that she made!

Look! They're kitties! Pheelya knows me all too well!

Speaking of kitties--Mikey seems back to normal. For those who don't know, he is diabetic. He's been on twice a day insulin injections for about 3 months now. His last two blood tests showed normal glucose levels so he doesn't have to go to the vet for a few weeks. He was somewhat lethargic for weeks but I've noticed that he is getting playful and lively, rolling around with his "scratch my belly" cry.
He was actually chasing Greg yesterday which is great because they both are little fatties and need the exercise!

Another kitty quandry here is Bar who sleeps like a cow. I've mentioned this in previous posts. With all the cats I've known in my lifetime, I have never seen a cat sleep this way! Usually when they sleep on their tummies, they keep their head up. Bar stretches his out and sticks his elbows out like a cow!

Bar, doin' the cow!

And now, for the aerial view!

Rumor has it that spring has finally sprung! It will be the kind of weekend which invites one to work in the flower bed! Wikth mother nature having PMS this year, I'm a bit leary of putting tender annuals in the garden before mid May. My urns would look lovely with pansies overflowing, so that's what I will do! Oh and I must sit out on the deck with my latte while working on my Sahara!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nothing much to blog about today. The Sahara is coming along nicely, though I dropped a stitch and I had to figure out where it was! I was able to get that straightened out fortunately. I received a lovely sympathy card from our vet. That was a surprise and I thought it was quite considerate! Last of all, I have to include a kitty photo:

That's Greg helping me unpack my Easter basket goodies! Better in the bag than the Easter basket!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Then there were four

We've had 6 cats for 6 years now. We got Peanut in 1990, then Cosmo in 1996. Harley and Samantha joined us in 2000 and Greg and Mikey rounded out the bunch in 2001. The number dropped to 5 when Ems moved out just before Christmas and took Cosmo, AKA Mokey the fashion show kitty, with her. Now we have 4. As much as I hated to, I had to take Peanut AKA Deke to be put down on Friday night. Thursday night he could barely move his legs, he was weak and would appear to cry for food, but wouldn't eat. I know it was the merciful thing to do, but I still feel guilty. I guess the guilt comes from taking him to the vet's which is an unfamiliar place to him. I've read that there are vets who make housecalls for this, but ours isn't one. He was purring the whole time and the vet was extremely kind, making sure that he was looking at DH and me and that he was comfortable. He was down to 5 and a half pounds. He typically weighed about 11 pounds when he was healthy. I took these photos afterwork on Friday.

I dug out some photos from a past Christmas about 12 years ago.

He used to sleep in the town square of the train board, knowing that the kids couldn't step on it to get him. This inspired us to create the following insert for our annual Christmas card:

I miss him sitting next to me on the couch and crying for cheese when I go in the kitchen. He is buried under the grape arbor with our little angel kitty lawn ornament over him for now. He will get a nice garden stone with his name on it.

People who don't have pets often don't understand how us pet owners can grieve so much over an animal. They are family members to us. They depend on us to take care of them and in return, they bring us joy and unconditional love. Deke did that for 17 years. I only hope our other kitties live such long lives. Meanwhile, I am flanked by Harley and Mikey as I write this, so I won't be short on kitty love. I still feel Deke's absence and will for some time. Time will heal that.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again!

Today was day 3 back at school! Surprisingly I've been able to get up fairly well which is surprising for me. I even went in a half hour early today for a meeting. I still prefer sleeping in if given the choice. The kids have been pretty good too which won't last long. I suspect the resurgence of winter has a lot to do with that. Once we get a stretch of spring weather, things will change! Once the spring fever sets in, the behavior goes down the tubes fast!

I ended up having a lovely birthday. I cooked dinner since it was Easter and I had bought a ham. DH and Bird had an ice cream cake for me. We did do a special birthday dinner on Thursday night at Timbuktu's which, in case you are unaware, has the best Maryland Crab Cakes on the face of the earth! I don't care what others say--you cannot get Maryland style crabcakes anywhere but Maryland. Period! I've made that mistake. You know--you're on vacation and see it on a menu somewhere in another state and make the mistake of ordering them thinking you will have a little taste of home only to be disappointed. I have learned to accept the fact that truly excellent crab cakes can only be purchased in Maryland!

DH gave me a nice little surprise for my birthday!

I have always wanted diamond hoops! These are gorgeous! The photo just doesn't do them justice!

I have been working on Sahara and I'm loving this Great Big Sea yarn by Handmaiden.

The sheen that this yarn has just doesn't show in the photo. It is simply gorgeous and I think it will feel heavenly against the skin. Notice the stitch markers! I made special ones with kitty photos! You can see pictures of Harley and Mike!

I am playing with the beads to use on this sweater. These are size 5/0 triangle Mizuki glass beads in an assortment of oranges. Some have silver cores and they all look quite different. I will string a few to see which ones I like best.

Speaking of kitties--Greg has been really clingy since I returned from Chicago. I guess he's afraid that I'll leave him. He still insists on getting under the bedspread. He does it so well--without messing up the bed. You just walk in the room and see a lump in the bed!

Peek a boo!

The sudden return of winter has Bar (real name--Harley) sleeping by the radiator again!

I think I will have to take Deke (real name-- Peanut) to be put down. I didn't realize how bad he was until this evening when he was having trouble moving his legs. He got off the couch and his legs just went out to the sides and he couldn't stand. It is just so sad. He is very weak and has stopped eating. It's just so sad. I have to tell myself that it is the merciful thing to do. It's just not fair to let him suffer anymore. It's something I've never had to do before, but I think it is time. I'll post some favorite photos as a little memorial.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

WoW! My birthday is tomorrow, but it is starting early! First and foremost, I must publicly thank my secret pal who calls herself Magic Loop. I went to the post office to pick up the mail and there was a package waiting for me there! Being like a little kid when it comes to presents, I couldn't wait until I got home. I used my ignition key to work through the shipping tape and opened it right there in the car! I never understood those folks who could get a present and take it home to wait until another time to open it! Nope! No can do! I must say that my secret pal must have really read this blog because she outdid herself! I'm sorry I didn't take a photo of how nice everything looked in the box--all wrapped with spring green tissue and tied with grass green rickrack! First of all, she enclosed a kitty card!

Then there was a lovely beaded mesh and lace bag with a lavendar sachet and a sample of Eucalan wool wash.

Then there were natural pressed flower stickers and a neat folio made out of handmade paper with flowers which opened to reveal an pad of handmade paper!

It just keeps getting better! My secret pal got me one of my wish list books, "Dying to Knit", along with 2 skeins of KnitPicks worsted weight merino in Bare for hand dying! I so want to play with hand dying! I had seen this book at Cloverhill and resisted buying it because my yarn tab was already too high! I am waiting for the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival to visit the Earth Guild stand to get some dyes. I may get some other natural yarns in different fibers so I can do a lot at once! Nothing like a nice spring day on the back deck dying yarn!

Notice the little ponytail band with the Fimo button that ties the bag closed! My secret pal spares no attention to detail! And last, but certainly not least, she gave me a chocolate bunny! Not just any chocolate bunny, mind you, but a Lindt dark chocolate bunny! I simply must indulge myself in dark chocolate everynight with my coffee! Now of course the quandry is--Do I start with the ears or the tail?

Thank you again, Magic Loop! You are the best!

Of course no birthday celebration is complete without a new pair of shoes. I went into DSW this week and stumbled across these fabulous open toed, nosebleed height pumps that were incredibly comfortable. I got them in black though I would have preferred a color. They are definitely the highest heels I have, yet they are really comfortable!

I had a ball playing Easter Bunny! I went to MOM's to get goodies for baskets and got some good stuff. I hope the kids and DH love them. I found these little thingies:

They are really good! Thin, crispy with a lot of flavor! I may have to try some of the other varieties. I got Ems some Kamut with Rosemary which sounds yummy!

That's it. The taxman cometh which means I need to go get chummy with Mr. TurboTax!