Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Can Hear You Calling

I have been pretty productive lately, knitwise. The gargantuan sleeve is still in the bottom of my knitting bag, but I cast on the Stained Glass Bag, which is a lot of fun. I have one more row to finish before I start the bottom and I think I can finish it this weekend.

That being said, I also have three sweaters, a pair of socks, a pair of mittens, and a stole on the needles that need to be finished up. That's not including the jacket-gone-wrong. Which brings me to the Blue Heron yarn.

Ahhh, the Blue Heron rayon metallic. I hate rayon and I'm not a fan of metallic yarn, but as soon as I saw the Blue Heron, I wanted to touch it. As soon as I touched it, I wanted to buy it. It's so soft and just has a hint of gold running through it. The colorway I bought looks like a peacock feather, with dark green, purple, and gold. I'd put up a picture for you, but pictures don't do this yarn justice. I spent more on one 550 yard skein of Blue Heron than I've spent on any other single skein of yarn I own, and I still think it was worth every penny.

For two weeks, the Blue Heron has been sitting in the basket in my office. I can hear it calling to me. It wants to be made into a clapotis shawl. I've been working very hard on the stained glass bag, but every day I've spent just a little time reading up on the Clapotis. I looked at a lot of different finished Clapotis shawls and read about modifications. I looked at all the Clapotis shawls people made with Blue Heron rayon metallic and read all of the comments. I printed out the pattern from Knitty and some notes from Ravelry projects discussing the modifications I want to make.

I started bargaining with the Blue Heron. First, I promised it I would make the Clapotis once the stained glass bag, circle jacket and socks were done. The Blue Heron was not amused. Then I offered to cast it on as soon as the circle jacket and bag were done. The Blue Heron just laughed mockingly and turned away. Finally, I begged the Blue Heron to consider waiting until the stained glass bag was done. The Blue Heron simply ignored me and kept up its siren call.

This morning, after a long struggle with my conscience, I decided that I could cast on the Clapotis this evening. I reasoned that the stained glass bag was almost finished, and I decided I would give the Clapotis to someone as a Christmas gift in order to justify starting yet another project.

I took out the skein, untied it and held it in my lap for a while. It is so beautiful that I started to wind it by hand just so I could touch it for a while. I quickly realized that even the beautiful hand of of Blue Heron rayon metallic was not worth winding for 550 yards, so I pulled out the ball winder and got it set up. I even convinced Lily to help me by turning the winder handle while I held the skein.

I am firmly convinced there is a knitting goddess. I think the knitting goddess would like me to balance out my selfish desire to knit things for myself with my selfless desire to make things for others. I think She is unhappy with the recent spate of projects I've made for myself. I think She totally knows that, even though I promised myself I would give the Clapotis as a Christmas gift, it's probably NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. In other words, you just can't fool the knitting goddess.

Several things happened as I started to wind up the Blue Heron (which was cheering me on, by the way). First, Jim cut his finger pretty badly and asked me to look up his injury on the internet to see if he ought to go to the ER. Second, while I was in the office looking up Jim's injury, Lily helped me out by winding some of the Blue Heron. The knitting goddess smiled somewhere. When I came back into the dining room and told Jim he should probably go to the ER, I saw this on the dining room table:

I worked on unwinding this knot (which is in the middle of the skein, by the way) from 3:30pm until 8:00pm. I stopped only to serve the kids dinner and to vacuum up the mess afterwards. At 7:00pm, I gave up and cut the yarn. I will end up with 3 skeins of this yarn -- the part on the ball winder, the tangled part, and the bulk of the yarn that was left in the skein after the knitting goddess struck me down. It is still not untangled. I was planning on casting it on tonight so that I would have something simple to work on when we have company tomorrow and Monday. I now think it quite likely that I will not finish straightening out this mess until well after our company has gone. As a result, I will be casting on the second sleeve of the circle jacket and working on that instead.

Jim did go to the ER and he's fine. He just needed a little super glue to fix up his cut. Of course, it took Melrose-Wakefield Hospital 3 hours to come to that conclusion. He would have been better off going to the walk-in clinic at MGH, even though it's farther away. I guess we both learned a lesson today. Jim's lesson: Unless it's an emergency, take the extra time to drive into Boston for medical care. My lesson: Don't mess with the knitting gods, you selfish bitch!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I've Been in a Terrible Knitting Accident

This incident is something I have to blog about, if only to get over the sick feeling I get in my stomach every time I think about it.

I have been knitting, on and off, for more than 35 years. Don't you think that should mean something? And yet, during the last seven months of really concentrated knitting that I've been doing, I seem to make more rookie mistakes than someone who's been knitting for less than a year. Sigh.

So, about my terrible knitting accident. I have always admired the Sunrise Circle Jacket featured in Interweave Knits (scroll down the linked page a bit to see the pattern). Not wanting to buy the pattern, I put the jacket in my Ravelry queue and moved on to find great free patterns. I found enough patterns to give most of the people on my list some kind of handmade Christmas present. Awesome.

And then one day, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from Knitting Daily advising me that the Sunrise Circle Jacket and several other patterns were going to be offered for a free download for 1 month. I immediately downloaded the patterns and put them in my home computer pattern archive. From that moment onward, it was like I could hear the jacket calling to me. I would imagine it in different colors and yarns before falling asleep each night. I looked up every single project on Ravelry to see what other people used. I found myself looking at yarn with that project in mind every time I went yarn shopping. After about a month of fantasizing about the jacket, I broke down and bought some beautiful tone-on-tone variegated yarn in cranberry red.

I next spent three days measuring myself and working out how to alter the pattern to fit my measurements. I rewrote the sleeve/front pattern to make a wider upper sleeve, which required a calculator and math (ugh). I ordered two skeins of backup yarn just in case I had underestimated the yarn requirements. I checked and rechecked my gauge, and then I cast it on.

Even though the pattern is primarily straight stockinette stitch, I had a lovely time knitting. The sleeve went so fast it practically knit itself! My rewritten increases changed the width of the upper sleeve perfectly. There was only one problem. I saw that if I continued with the full number of increases, the sleeve was going to turn out much longer than the pattern called for. Since the width was already looking fine, I cut out the last two planned increases. In all, I modified the sleeve width by only 6 stitches in width (about an inch and a half).

And then I got into a terrible knitting accident. The sleeve measured exactly what the pattern called for when I stopped the increases. When I held it up to my arm, it seemed a little short. My arms are longer than average, so I thought "I'll just add two and a half inches in length to make the sleeves nice and long."

Once I added to the sleeve length, I started on the circular front. It, too, was a lot of fun to knit and I enjoyed myself. I had, by that time, read some of the blog entries about the pattern and picked up some good tips to fit the pattern even better. Many entries mentioned that the sleeves were too long.

I had been noticing the extreme length of my sleeve with growing trepidation for some time. The yarn I'm using is part mohair, so I thought "The mohair is stretching the piece a bit -- it will shorten up when I wash it and block it." I found myself frantically measuring the piece against my arm every two rows or so. I tried holding the work in my lap so the sleeve couldn't "grow" anymore, but the sleeve got longer anyway.

Last Monday, I took it out to knit the final rows before starting on the front edge hem. The sleeve was gargantuan. I laid out my favorite sweater on the floor and then forced myself to lay down the sweater sleeve/front on top of it for comparison. I literally fell down on my knees when I saw the two together. The sleeve of my jacket is at least 6 inches longer than the sleeve of my favorite sweater. AT LEAST. I may be in denial and unable to truly see how much longer it really is, but I know for sure it is at least 6 inches. Were I to wear this jacket as knit, the sleeve would hang down completely covering my hand and then some! It reminded me of something a Dr. Seuss character would wear. When I held the sleeve up to my leg, I realized it could double as a capri pant leg.

I took it to knitting night and showed it around. Nobody told me I was imagining things as I secretly hoped. Everyone was simultaneously amused and horrified. I put the monstrosity into the bottom of my knitting bag and cast on something else to work on while I figure out what to do.

I've talked it over with other knitters. I've looked on the blogs and other resources. I am going to have to put in a needle to hold the live stitches, CUT a stitch in the sleeve and RIP OFF a good 6.5 inches. Then I'll just knit the 11 rows required to make the fold and the hem. Easy, no?

For some reason, the thought just makes me feel awful. I'm getting over it, though. I'm ready to take out the jacket and try to finish off the left sleeve/front tonight so I can cast on for the other side. I'm not going to add any length this time, though.

If I can make myself do it, I will post a picture of the gargantuan sleeve. Until that time, here is a great picture of the beautiful (and normal sized) jacket front. Pretty, no?

My Etsy Store, Let Me Show You It!

I finally registered my business and put up an etsy shop! It only took me a year.

I am only offering stitch markers right now, but I have big plans to expand over the next few months and offer handmade magnets, earrings, note cards, knitting patterns, and hand dyed wool and sock yarn! This, of course, assumes that I can find the time to be creative and make these things whilst simultaneously running two kids around all summer to the beach, school and play dates!

The creation of my new shop explains my lengthy absence from posting. Being the anal retentive lawyer type that I am, I did a lot of research into operating a business and all of its attendant requirements before setting up shop.

You can access my shop by clicking on the little widgety thing in the side bar. It will feature a picture of one of the items currently for sale in my shop! If you are local and you want to purchase something, let me know and I will be glad to remove the shipping costs for you so I can hand deliver it.

Check it out! I can make earrings in the same style as the stitch markers, too. I use sterling silver hoops. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Kids Amuse Me

Sorry for the radio silence lately, but after two weeks of adult only time, I'm now in North Carolina for a week with my parents, after which the kids and I will fly home. It is as hot as Hades here. Seriously. I do not kid, it's been about 100 for most of this week. Thank the powers that be for air conditioning.

But...I digress. The kids seems so much older after two weeks away, especially Jack. My dad took him to the barber. I told my parents to get him a "little boy cut" because we didn't have time to go to his usual barber before he left on his trip. My mom called to say my father had taken Jack to the barber and his cut was very short. I said "As long as it's not a 'high and tight.'" She said, and I quote "Oh, it's not, but it's a lot shorter than it was before." When I got to NC, I immediately saw that Jack was sporting a high and tight, contrary to my mother's claim. He looks like a miniature marine. Fortunately, the cut is very cute on him and I'll probably keep it that way until the fall. It also makes him look older.

The kids have been getting up to all kinds of shenanigans at Grammy and Granddaddy's house. My father has a giant Peanut M&M figure that shoots M&M's out of it's side (forgive me, but it is very hard to describe) if you crank its arm up and down. Lily "pressured" him into buying M&M's for it (she asked once) and the kids love getting a treat. In order to keep the candy consumption to a reasonable level, my father took to hiding the Peanut Man and telling the kids he had gone away. Lily somehow interpreted this to mean that the Peanut Man periodically goes away to the M&M Ball. Jack isn't as fanciful and just started hunting for Peanut Man and quickly located him in the closet. My father now hides him behind some boxes.

Now that Peanut Man is sometimes AWOL, Jack tries to get him to come back by holding his hand up to his ear and telling my father "I think I hear candy!" For some reason, this cracks me up. Lily, on the other hand, was happy in the thought that Peanut Man was having fun at the M&M Ball until yesterday, when she caught my father carrying him into his office. She ran out to the living room and told me "Peanut Man hasn't been at the M&M Ball! Granddaddy has been hiding him and moving him all along!" She was very indignant, and immediately left to confront my father. I don't know what he told her, but today she said he was at the M&M Ball again. Ah, to be a child again. Any time one of the kids discovers that Peanut Man has returned to my father's office, they run out and tell us that he's back. It's really funny.

In other big, big news, Jack suddenly started to use the potty four days ago. My mom bought him some big boy underpants and showed them to him when he first arrived. Fast forward to the day I arrived. Jack asked me to give him a lolly. I told him "You can have a lolly if you pee in your potty." He carried on and whined and then went away to play. About four hours later, however, he told my mom "I gotta pee!" and ran into the bathroom. To our surprise, he peed into his potty for the first time ever! He got his lolly, and then he told my mom "I wanta wear my big boy underwear." She let him put them on, but he refused to put pants on and asked to have his shirt off. He ran into the living room wearing only the underwear and said "Ta-Da!"

He's been using the potty one or two times a day ever since. He's also been wearing his big boy underwear for most of the day without incident. Unfortunately, he still usually insists on wearing ONLY the underwear. He did grudgingly allow me to dress him the other day when he got too cold from the AC. He still comes out and says "Ta-da!" when he first gets them on. In order to encourage his potty training, I supplmented the baseball themed underwear my mom provided with Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. He is very serious when he picks out which pair to wear and discards two or three options before settling on a design. It's hilarious!

I'm knocking on wood that this self-training will last and become a permanent habit. I never thought he'd train this early. I feel like singing and dancing with joy, but I hold it in because I fear the potty training gods will smite me and send him back to the diaper. I'll keep you all posted. Send good potty vibes to Jack.