Lost my Mojo - Xmas gift 2 (girl)

Pattern: "Urchin" by Ysolda Teague, available free here or as a nice, free downloadable pdf on Ravelry
Yarn: Spinning Wheeler (006D)--this was a hand-spun/hand-dyed single skein my mom picked up at the "First Mondays" flea market in Canton, Texas. It's a 2-ply merino, alpaca, kid merino blend with an intensely thick-and-thin texture and a million different Monet-esque colors (primarily sage green and lavender)
Needles: US 10.5 circular (worked flat YET seamless)
Size: large (with a slightly tighter gauge)
Mods: picked up stitches around the brim and added three rows of k1p1 ribbing. Bound off with a US 13 needle so it would fit a human head.

Plus: Despite being a "novelty" yarn, this was an absolute joy to work with; each stitch was a fresh combination of shade and shape. However, I could always see what I was doing, something I can't say about most novelty crap. The pattern construction is rather inventive as far as hats go, and it was fun to watch it take shape.

Delta: I really hate it. I'm not going to bore you with all the sad details of how I tried to save this hat, but let me assure you I ran through every trick I know. Part of it is probably in the knitting/blocking skills. Part of it is my large head which looks good in very few hats. Part of it is the overabundance of colors. I know it's not this bad, but I keep thinking of those god-awful Ozark Llama Barf Hats. Oh well. Maybe it will fit and flatter someone else. Meanwhile, I'm just feeling discouraged.

To brighten my world right in time, I got a cute little mini-skein and pattern from Eat.Sleep.Knit (aka The World's Coolest Online Yarn Store).

Pattern: "Mini-Sweater," available as a gift to Yarn Marathoners at the 5K mark
Yarn: The Unique Sheep Sushi Sock (Spunky)
Needles: US 2 dpns (worked seamless in the round)

Plus: It's adorable AND versatile!

Delta: Just a TAD fiddly....

I already fashioned a paper clip into a coat hanger to make it Christmas Tree ready! Wheeee!!!!


Mmmmmanly - Xmas gift 1 (boy)

Pattern: "One Row Handspun Scarf" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, available free here
Yarn: Handmaiden Fine Yarn Lady Godiva (Ebony)
Needles: US8 straights
Size: CO 26 stitches; 3.5 inches wide and 7.25 feet long (from one skein, suckah!)

Plus: I am totally psyched about this FO! The color is subtle and masculine. The pattern evokes pinstripes on an expensive suit. The fiber is lusciously smooth on the neck thanks to the silk, while the merino mutes the finish to a warm velvet (rather than a girly, lacquered gloss). I thoroughly enjoyed working this pattern, even if it wasn't riveting--just clever enough to make me smile, just simple enough to keep my hands busy while watching a great movie.

Delta: Umm...this yarn ain't worsted weight. It's DK. No one can convince me different. I would have switched to size 6 needles for a sturdier fabric, but I wanted to milk this expensive skein for all the length I could get.

Two more afghan squares. As you can see, I'm starting to get into the funkier, colorwork squares. This was my first attempt at embroidery, so go easy on me. Actually, what you see below is my second attempt at embroidery. The first version was cut out earlier today after much sighing and excuse-making. This still isn't perfect, but I'm going to pretend that the "rustic" look makes it charming. The square above was also my first foray into bobbles, which were surprisingly easy and fun. I'm glad my knitting group pals urged me to give that square a try, despite how intimidating it seemed.

I've had quite a few minor knitting failures lately, mostly linked with my determination to knit a pair of fingerless mitts for both my mom and sister in time for Xmas. I started Susie's Reading Mitts in some handspun mom bought at the Canton Flea Market, and they looked bizarrely huge and "rustic" in a very, very bad sense of the word. Jake walked by as I was trying one on and commented that they look like an ax-wielding executioner's gloves. RIP. I cast on some Rhineback Mitts in Lorna's Laces sport; half-way through I realized that, even though I was concentrating so hard steam was coming out of my ears, the pattern was totally screwed up. And the gauge was off. RIP. Yesterday, Mom and Bec told me they didn't want mitts at all, but rather these capelet/ponchette thingys they had checked out at TJ Max and taken pictures of for me. SO, drafting out a pattern for those now. Que sera, sera.


Ruby Hand Slippers

Pattern: "In a Twist Wristwarmers" by Claire Compton, available in The Knitter's Bible: Knitter's Accessories
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted (Amoroso)
Needles: US6 circular (worked flat)

Plus: Malabrigo is knitter's crack. Ruh-diculous. I'm not sure whether this cable is much more simple or if I'm getting smarter, but these were way easier for me than the "Princess Mitts." Also, I'm super-duper proud of myself, because I took this opportunity to finally teach myself the mattress seam, and I think it looks pretty smooth. I didn't even hate seaming them.....that much.

Delta: Why, oh why, Ms. Crompton, create this pattern to knit flat?! I was so tempted to rewrite it for seamless construction, until I decided to seize the day and learn the aforementioned and much overdo skill. Still. Stupid. Also, I was disappointed by how these fit. I had selected the yarn and project as a Xmas gift for Mom, but these came out a bit short and tight, particularly in the thumb. However, when showing off the first mitt at knitting group last week, my dear friend Shelley tried them on and immediately gasped with delight; she had never found a mitt that fit her tiny, freakish hands so perfectly! I grudgingly admitted that the color also matches her new scarf to a T. So...new mitts for Shelley....coal for Mom.

In the TMI department: the doc and I had a long talk about my steadily increasing pain and our similarly mounting fertility frustrations. We came up with a great plan. Go get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to determine whether or not that left tube truly IS blocked. If it's not, try harder to get myself knocked up (e.g. IUI, clomid, charting). If it is, abandon the baby track for a while to go on Lupron, a medication which would actually fight endo by basically forcing me into a false menopause (fun). In the meantime, we could try to surgically correct Jake's issue.

Well, apparently, when God closes a door, he also shuts all the windows and jams the remote for the garage. The tube is definitely blocked. My insurance won't pay for Lupron. Jake's particular issue is evidently genetically linked and doesn't respond to surgical therapy. In short, we're screwed.


Happy Knitaversary to Me!

One year down. Who knows how many more before restlessness or carpal tunnel overcome my new passion?

To celebrate, I bought myself my very own ball-winder and swift. Cuz I'm hardcore now. And hardcore knitters don't drape skeins of yarn around their knees to wind it around their thumbs like some kind of ANIMAL! NO! They whip that sucker into a tight, little cake in 10-seconds flat and keep right on knitting.

Perhaps that sounded unreasonably macho. Blame it on the fact that I've spent about 8 hours today swimming through the bizarre land that is a 6th grade mind. Roaches negotiating peace treaties between people and magical forests; secret underground lairs that contain creature-making machines; Santas that morph into Hannah Montana only to be slaughtered by an anthropomorphic banana; Man-Cow-Bird blend creatures who wreak havoc on the pharmacy section of Target; pet chinchillas who solve crimes while their masters are out; dinosaur eggs discovered by zoo employees in a pile of Rhino poop....it's been the weirdest day at my desk EVER.

New afghan square:


Red Fish Blue Fish...finally!

Pattern: "A Recipe for Fish" by April Broken, available free here
Yarn: Shibui Merino Worsted (Chinese Red and Dragonfly)
Needles: US8 dpns (worked flat)
Mods: added an i-cord bind-off around the edge, which I think looks very clever

Plus: This was a piece of cake, instantly memorized, and supremely portable. The yarn is surprisingly soft for a superwash and even smoother after a gentle run through the machine. I love that the hand-dyed merino gives the blue a "watery" quality, enhanced by the natural ripple curve of the fish. I also love that this fits the nursery theme so perfectly, one could LITERALLY die of cuteness once the blankie is actually placed inside this room. Yikes! Be careful!

Delta: I suck at seaming, and this obviously requires a lot of seaming. I know that lots of people used a mattress seam on this, but I thought that would defeat the purpose of those nice selvedges (not to mention the fact that I don't know how to do a mattress seam). So I used all the attached tails and sewed each fish pair along the selvedges with a running stitch, then wove in the ends for at least 6 stitches. Well, we can see how that turned out in the previous post. Maybe running stitch was a stupid choice on my part, but give me a break. I'm learning! I went back and repaired holes and reinforced seams with every last scrap of yarn I had, and I'm praying HARD that this won't fall apart any further.

Also, another afghan square:


I shall build an army!

I have been waiting and hoping and saving up to reveal my newest FO, Red Fish Blue Fish baby blanket, for quite a while, and guess what? We'll all have to wait a bit longer because this morning I pulled it from the washing machine after a cold wash/rinse/low agitation cycle to find this:

Oh, the horror!!! I don't even want to think about how this will fare further washings. I will try to repair this the best I can and offer the mother free hand-washings to stave off future unraveling. I can't even say how or why this happened, except that I have always sucked at finishing a piece. Totally bummed.

Also in the "I don't wanna" pile:

It's absolutely adorable and a quick, pleasurable knit. I've grafted the shoulders together, and now all that remains is setting in the sleeves and seaming up the sides. Blech. I think I have some laundry that needs folding instead....

So, I've accidentally started a knitting club. A few of the girls at school have marveled over my meager handful of knitted clothing and accessories and many have asked for me to teach them, to which I always answer "of course." Now, that cycle of swoon--question--answer has repeated uneventfully for several months, but one dear, pushy child, C, showed up in my room during recess with itchy fingers. A delightful lesson took place, and we agreed to meet up the next day. That recess rolls around, and sweet M scurries in to join C and me for knitting. As we leave my room that afternoon, D and S spy our armfuls of yarn and request a lesson next. The next day, C, M, D, and S all knit happily while H and A drift in saying, "Oh, I learned to knit once. I'll come tomorrow, and you can reteach us." So now my hands are full with 6 chatty, uncoordinated, but earnest tweens, oohing over each other's bright plastic needles and pink-swirled acrylic yarn. They're knitting at lunch, cheerleading practice, in the car, standing over the toaster in the morning. It's causing so much attention and buzz, random 5th, 7th, and 8th graders have started coming up to me asking, "So, I hear you're starting a sewing club?"