A cone of Alpaca

My thanks go out to White Horse Farm (http://whitehorsefarm.net/) for this gem.

Isn’t it stunning?

I danced all the way home.

My husband’s reaction was disappointing (it was a smaller sized cone than he was expecting). What does he know? My Jake was excited … or maybe he just liked the smell of it.

I will use it to knit up the full-size version of a “Shawl for Barbie” (http://knittedgems.blogspot.com/2007/04/shawl-for-barbie.html). First things first, it’s gauge time!

Other knitting news: As you can see, I am halfway done seaming the sleeve into the body of the striped sweater. It’s starting to look like a real sweater now and not like a vest-gone-wrong.

Grudgingly, I have also started to knit the right sleeve. I haven’t made much progress, but I knit better when there is a baseball game going on. Thanks to the Phillies crazy schedule, there is indeed a baseball game tonight.

The funny story behind this sweater (ignoring the story that I ripped it out once and then once again) is that the person who has agreed to model it for me just announced she is pregnant. As if I wasn’t already dedicated to finishing it before the dog days of summer, I have to be now! There is going to come a time when she’s not going to fit into it.

Business news: I sent in my very first order of business cards. For shame, I should have done this 6 months ago, but I was trying not to put the horse too far ahead of the cart. Now that I have started to increase my marketing budget, it only makes sense to get them printed. I plan to put my very first card on the fridge. I’ll refrain from framing it … for at least a week.

Gardening news: I just want to say that I am SICK AND TIRED of raking up the seed pods the two sweet gum trees sent down this winter. I have already taken 6 trash bags full to the curb. I can easily fill two more. Plus, I recycled a bunch of them. The recycles are being used as mulch beneath the trees while the soil lays dormant. I ripped out all the grass last fall. Later this spring, I will plant Creeping Phlox in its place. (This was hubby’s special request. He hates trying to mow beneath the trees because the roots always muck with his mower).

One Sleeve Down

While I was watching the Phillies win their game against the Marlins (OK…OK… so we pulled it out in the bottom of the 9th, but, hey!, a win is a win), I finished the left sleeve. It’s done! No pics please, though. It hasn’t been blocked or the ends weaved in or sewn to the sweater body. It’s not a pretty sight, plus my cam is on the fritz again. Hubby took the good cam with him and left me the “Sometimes I’ll work, sometimes I won’t” cam. You can guess which one it picked. Nothing but a black screen. Arg.

Back to the joy of finishing the sleeve: I even managed to save some brown yarn in the process. There are now 7 tiny balls of brown yarn ready and waiting for me to continue knitting the right sleeve. Oh, I suppose I have to at least try. I’ll wait to start until Monday. Monday is a good day to tackle sleeves that may or may not have enough yarn to complete, right?

I simply can’t do it this weekend. I have a left sleeve to seam together with the body. More importantly, I have a new quilt to start. I have decided to make my sister and her husband a wall quilt for their kitchen. It’s never too early to start making Christmas presents. (Every year I start all my Christmas projects earlier in the year in the hopes that I won’t be staying up past midnight on Christmas Eve trying to finish everything. It never works! This past year, on Christmas morning, I was still stitching up the matching doll pajamas for my younger niece.)

Here is my inspiration for my new knitting project: Ode to Quilting. (Many thanks to my good friend, Jen, for giving this to me as a Christmas present!)

This basket is filled with Lion Brand’s Wool (100%). I plan to use as many of the colors as I can to make an afghan in true quilter’s style. It will be an afghan that can use up a knitter’s leftover balls of yarn from previous projects. Shapes (mostly squares and triangles) will be knit up, then sewn together to form larger squares, and then these squares will be sewn together to make the afghan front. Lastly, the front will be seamed to the back. Minor details still have to be ironed out, such as what the back should look like. I’m giddy to start the gauge process. This project will combine two of my favorite hobbies: knitting and sewing/quilting. (I suppose true quilt lovers wouldn’t lump sewing with their hobby, but since sewing came first for me, I still have a fondness for it).

My other accomplishment today was building a wall around Big Brother (the biggest of my Weeping Japanese Red Maple saplings).

I’d like to see my husband mow him down!

Enough Brown Yarn?

I have rescued all the brown yarn from my gauges. It only gave me 6 mini balls of brown yarn. I still don’t know if it will be enough brown yarn. Thus, I do what I always do in such situations; I procrastinate. I stick it in a drawer and I try to pretend it doesn’t exist.

My only hope is that a little green elf will come in and knit the right sleeve for me. Then, when I am within an inch of finishing the sleeve and I run out of brown yarn, I can’t lose my mind and run off the nearest bridge.

The left sleeve is progressing quite nicely. I am 12 inches complete with only 5.5 inches left to knit before I get to the cap part. See for yourself. A Phillies baseball game will be on tonight (they play at 7:05 pm EST). I should be able to make some more headway on the left sleeve. Once I get to the cap section, I plan to completely switch over to the turquoise yarn. With a little luck, I will be able to salvage yet more brown yarn.

Jake is breathing loud sighs in the hopes of getting my attention. True, it is almost play time. Yet, what he doesn’t know is that it is raining already. Here I was hoping to lay bricks around Big Brother (the largest of the Weeping Japanese Maple saplings). Little Brother has not fared quite as well between my husband mowing him down and Jake peeing on him. I am determined that Big Brother won’t suffer the same fate!

More design ideas: a summer dress for a wee one done in lime green and bright pink. The skirt will be a smattering of rectangles while the top will be all pink outlined with a green border. Then, a women’s jacket in two styles: a-line and wrap-around. The final challenge: a sweater that a man wouldn’t hate wearing. Why are men so difficult to design for? I did make my husband a sweater once. Come to find out, he’s allergic to the lanolin in wool. It took me months to make that sweater and now it sits in a tote in the cedar closet. Once I stop weeping over it, I’ll make it into a pillow covering. It has been five years now and I still can’t bear to cut it up. Maybe I should rip it out and reuse the yarn. What to do?

A shawl for Barbie

After many alterations to my original shawl pattern, I finally have a design I am satisfied with. My original design was going to be an homage to King Tut’s collar. The yarn had other plans. What came to be is an interchanging pattern between an open lace technique and beaded chevrons. I think my compromise is both feminine and elegant. To showcase the pattern, I knit up a miniature version of it. As you can see, I borrowed my niece’s Barbie for a model. For more pictures of the shawl, please see my Flickr album. (There is a link to my album on the right hand side).

The shawl is knit with 100% alpaca wool, made in the USA. The alpaca yarn seen in this picture is from Rich-nes Alpaca Farm. I used 13 yards of alpaca and 39 different colored beads in this miniature version. Thus, I approximate the adult version will use about 700 yards of alpaca, excluding the amount needed for determining the gauge, plus 320 beads. The goal is to have it finished by November 1st.

I don’t want to talk about the striped sleeves right now. The ever dwindling ball of brown yarn worries me.

On a completely different subject, I am happy to report that I have finished cutting down the hedges in my backyard! Everything is at least one foot or shorter. Some of it was so dead, I could just lift it out of the ground. I think, all told, it took me a month to complete this ambitious plan of mine. It sure doesn’t look pretty right now, but in 2 years time, it should be healthy and bushy. I will never let it get so tall again. (It was taller than my husband! – who is 6 feet tall … on a good day, as he would say).

Yesterday, I started to divide my hostas that were outgrowing the garden along our walking path. Since we have several bald spots underneath our pin oak tree (thanks to our family of squirrels and Jake), I used the divisions to hide the lack of grass. Unfortunately, there is still more to do. There is also no lack of dead spots in our lawn.

So, today, my gardening plans include dividing more hostas and trimming my Transfer Bush. This is a bush (sorry, I don’t know the type of bush it is) I moved from the west side of my house to the east side in the hopes that it would get more sun. The lower branches on it have died back, but I gawked today when I saw how much new growth it had on it. I think it just might be happier in its new spot. One could hope…

Have you seen the Phillies? We won 3 straight games in a row. I’m beside myself. We are no longer the worst team in the National League. It all started with Moyer’s great start last week. We’ve been slowly gaining our confidence back ever since we had that win. I can’t wait for tonight’s game!

Phillies won, but my sleeves lost

Yay, the Phillies won their game today!

Yet, I am no further on my sleeves. Ask me why.

Well, since you asked, it’s because I made a small error in my pattern. I was increasing the stitches EOR (every other row) when in fact I should have been increasing them every 4th row. Good thing I caught the error last night before I finished the sleeves. I would have had sleeves 2 times too large. What a sight that would have been! I’m even more grateful that I caught the error before I posted the pattern in my Etsy store.

So, I ripped out all the increase rows. This morning I was back to where I started from on Monday (a quarter of the way done). I have made progress on the right sleeve as I was knitting during the baseball game, but I still have the sinking feeling that I took two steps back. Well, I know what I will be doing tonight.

There is another sign of trouble in my pattern, but I don’t want to talk too much about it. It might jinx me. (I am running out of brown yarn!)

Of course, first things first, time to garden with my trusty companion, Jake. Then, I have to run up to the grocery store. I’m out of heavy cream again and one simply cannot make good alfredo sauce without heavy cream. The broccoli is sure to cross out all the unhealthy attributes the heavy cream brings to the table … or at least that is what I plan to tell myself. =)

Knitting sleeves on the way to a baseball game

I didn’t think the traffic was that bad last night. My husband disagreed. I should mention that he was driving to the Phillies game while I was knitting in the passenger seat, but I can’t see how it matters. I made good progress on my sleeves during the drive. So good, I will be winding skeins of yarn into balls tonight. (I ran out of yarn on my left sleeve!)

The ride back home was quicker, but that didn’t help our mood. The Phillies’ record is 3-9 (3 wins out of 12 games). It’s so painful to watch. I hate to admit it, but the pitching isn’t good. My boys, Myers and Maddog, aren’t pitching well at all. Chutley, Rowand, and Ruiz are not hitting well. Howard isn’t seeing the ball. Yet, Howard’s saving grace is that he is keeping his walk numbers up. Jimmy, Vicky, Hamels and Geary are doing fine, but can’t seem to drag the rest of the team with them. It’s maddening, I tell you! Maddening!

The design for the shawl is coming along at a fast pace. I am in the gauge phase. There will be two different patterns used in the shawl and thus two different gauges. I plan to incorporate beading and maybe some glittery yarn (Rowan’s shimmer line, I think). I’ll see how the gauges come out.

I am tossing around some sewing projects too. One is a message board (using a cork board for the base) and one is a star pillow (just to prove my knitted star pillow design can in fact look right at home in a teenager’s room). They are both in the “sleep on the idea” stage of the planning. I love that stage!=)

My sister called this morning with more Disney plan information. Kail, my 3-year-old nephew, was the cutest. He had to get on the phone twice to talk to me. Once to tell me that he hurt his knee. Then to tell me that he was “all better now”. He’s such a ham!

Well, I’m on to knit for the last half hour before I take Jake out to garden. (He eats the sticks that I trim from the hedge. It’s a good system).

Happy Winding!

Knitting Sleeves

Now that the pillow is done (both the star pillow and the pattern to make it are listed in my Etsy store), I have no excuse to ignore my striped sweater. I have tried to implement the policy that if one dedicates a few minutes to a project everyday, at the end of the week one has dedicated a full two hours to it. Of course, at this rate, this warm wool sweater will be finished just in time for the dog days of summer. Clearly, I need to step it up a bit.

Another bit of advice I tried to implement was the following: one should always knit sleeves at the same time. This advice seemed logical. It even seemed like it would save me time by not having to count rows and measure every few minutes. I’ve decided it is not advisable when working with more than one color. The colors keeps twisting around each other. I have spent more time untwisting the balls of yarn than I have spent knitting. I caught myself wishing I could burn the sleeves this morning. When one starts thinking such wicked thoughts, it is time to conquer and divide the sleeves.

And, so, I have done just that. Well, I divided them. The conquering part still waits to be seen.

Can I boast that I am a quarter of the way done?

With no baseball to watch tonight (Phillies have been postponed again due to all this rain), I hope to make some headway on these sleeves.

Supper time! Potato soup … mmmmm. On a cold, wet day like today, I think it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Happy Knitting!

Phills lost, but the pillow won

The Phillies lost. Lee murdered us with all his home runs. This season isn’t starting well at all.

Some good did come of it. I finished my pillow while watching the game. And here it is.

(Yes, I stole my husband’s camera!)

Woo! The pillow is posted on my Etsy store. The pattern still needs some fine tuning. It won’t be posted until Monday. As a reward for all my hard work, I get to dedicate myself to all my painting projects this weekend. I have a dresser drawer to finish painting white. It’s the last one. Then, there is the frame around a mirror that needs to be painted dark brown. Lastly, I’m on to practice my stenciling skills. Having never stenciled before, I imagine I’ll be plain awful.

Pillow lining

The pillow lining is making its way through the wash right now. I tested it in the knitted pillow and it fits like a charm! Since I’m having leftovers for dinner, I should have the pillow completed tonight. I’m always looking for a mindless project to do while the baseball games are on. (Go Phillies!) This should fit the bill.

The only trouble is – my camera is on the fritz. I managed to take a pic of the pillow lining as you can see, but I lost the rest of the pics I took earlier today. I really wanted to post a pic of my golden retriever. He is so handsome. =) I hope to have better luck later. If not, I’m stealing my husband’s camera from him.

Pillow Lining

I even made some progress with my hedge today. I’ll estimate that it is 75% completed. My speedy progress is mostly attributed to my neighbor’s kindness. He let me borrow his heavy-duty pruners. It makes mean work of the hedge! I think I have to get me a pair. I would hate to be the neighbor that never returns the tools. What is that show where they chatted about that problem? Tool Shop? I can’t remember.

Cooking tragedy

Well, last night I tried to slice off my finger. It wasn’t by one of my knives as you might think – my knives wouldn’t dream of doing something so traitorous. No, it was my vegetable peeler. I think it might be getting dull. I was having trouble peeling an Idaho potato (for potato soup), so I pulled harder. Well, it cut the skin off of the potato alright and then took a nice chunk out of my finger. Thankfully, it’s the middle finger on my left hand. Typing is a little uncomfortable. Knitting is a little uncomfortable, if it wasn’t for all the years I learned to keep my left hand perfectly still while knitting so I didn’t jab the person next to me on the train. Oddly enough, washing my hair was the biggest challenge today. =)

I did start on my pillow lining. With a little luck and motivation, it’ll be finished for tomorrow morning. This blog acts as a huge motivation factor. It’s as if Big Brother is looking over my shoulder making sure I complete exactly what I said I would.

It’s miserable looking out today. I was hoping to get more of my hedge row cut down. The whole row is leggy, not to mention half of it is dead. The goal is in two years to have a nice, bushy hedge. We’ll see who wins: the hedge or me!

Happy knitting (or sewing or quilting or cooking)!