Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup and Knitting

Thanks to the World Cup, I have found out the nationality of my neighbors in the next house down.  I knew they were Hispanic and either from Central or South America.  My neighborhood has a fair number of Hispanics and the town seems to have a large contingent from South America.  My neighbors are from Paraguay.  I know this because after the match between Paraguay and Japan today, one of my neighbors came out cheering, grabbed the flag that was on their house and went running down the street.  I looked at the World Cup scores and found out that Paraguay won and is in the group of 8.  Funny, we Americans would rarely do that.  People at the Olympics will wave the flag at an event, but I've never seen people running through the streets waving the flag because a USA team won.  Perhaps, we've become too jaded with all the sporting events within the country.  Perhaps we no longer have a national sport, unlike many countries where football (soccer) is the national sport.  But it was nice to see this spontaneous demonstration of joy and national pride I saw this morning.

I have been watching some of the World Cup matches and not just the USA team's matches.  The crowd noise and the vuvusellas can be distracting, but I like watching the matches.  Maybe because my older brother played soccer while in college and did get a letter.  It and Yankee games are my prime knitting time.  I did get bored with all the seed stitch and jumped on the Icelandic Lace Group's KAL for a shawl.  It is the Lacy Shawl by Rowan.  I made it in Kidsilk Haze (the yarn specified in the pattern) in a color called Majestic.  It is the color of distant mountains, a hazy grayish lilac purple.  The color doesn't photograph well, but here are some of the finished shawl.  It took me about 2 weeks.  I used 5.0 mm (US 8) for it.  It really doesn't need to be dressed being knit in a fuzzy mohair.  Plus it is about 4 feet long at the center point.  I'm only 5'2" so if I stretched it out any more, it would definitely be too long.  I haven't decided if I'm keeping this one.  I have been thinking about sending it to my old college boyfriend's new fiancee as a wedding gift and peace offering.  What do you think?

I must be getting into a combination mood of wanting to finish things but I have startitis.  I went back to a drudge knit that I didn't think would be a drudge.  I was making a side to side top I found on Ravelry.  I chose a lovely bamboo tape yarn for it.  It was in stockinette stitch, mindless knitting, something I took to knitting group.  I started it in early April, I just finished the knitting today.  The thing just went on and on.  Now I just have to do the seams and crochet around the neck to finish it.  Whew!!  I have several projects waiting to be finished, a Goddess Knits shawl that only needs the edging completed, MMario's Mystery Shawl that's half done and the Moonfleet shawl.  But I want to cast on for a pair of socks.  I just got a kit from the Knitters Brewing Co for their Ravelry KAL of the Pink Ribbon Socks.  The KAL started in May, but is running through July.  I didn't get their Breast Cancer Pink yarn.  I got a teal yarn which is the color for reproductive cancers.  My knitting friend, Angela, has just completed chemo for fallopian tube cancer and so far, so good.  But I'm doing these in honor of Angela.  I may make them for Angela or make her a second pair.  Part of the cost of the kit is going to Susan G Komen so it's a good thing all around.  Or I could and probably should go back to the endless seed stitch and try to complete it for the challenge.  Choices, choices, what should I do?  Let me know what you would do.  Bye.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Is Here

It's finally starting to get hot here in New Jersey.  It actually feels more like August than late June.  And it has made me a bit lazy and changed my knitting habits.  Even though it is a summer top, I am really having trouble working on my ramie/silk moss stitch design for the Ravelry ColourMart group challenge.  I've put it aside and am working on the June KAL for the Icelandic Lace Yahoo group.  I think the light lacy mohair is just more appealing than the moss stitch design. 

In fact, I have several projects in wool and alpaca waiting to be finished.  One is a throw for my nephew that a blend of wool, alpaca and acrylic.  It's machine washable in cold water and can be hung to dry.  I wanted something warm for him and easily cared for because he has two cats.  I'm making the Sedona Throw that was in the Jan  2010 issue of Creative Knitting.  I'm using Schachenmayr Silenzio in a sage green.  It's a bit brighter than the picture here.  He has brown leather furniture and the cats are not declawed so I think there will be pulls and whatnot in it.  But I got the yarn on sale at Webs in January, so I'm not going to get stressed if the cats destroy it.  And my nephew asked me to make him a throw when I saw him at Christmas.  He has been very appreciative of the knitted things I have made for him so I made this for him.  He has also liked the socks I've made for him.  They do take a bit of time since he has size 12 feet.  But then, he is 6'4", so it would be weird if he had tiny feet. I told him I would have the throw completed for his birthday which is August 3.   So either I have to wish for a cold snap (highly unlikely), bring it with me to the TKGA conference in New Hampshire (and hope it's cold there in July), crank up the A/C (not very likely) or just suffer.  Perhaps, I'll take it to NH and crank up the A/C in the room that way, I don't have the electric bill and I'll have something to do in the evenings.

Speaking of TKGA, I have decided to do their Masters program.  I got the info and started it several years ago.  But the death of my mother interfered with completing Level 1.  I then got busy taking care of my father and never got back to it.  I checked on the requirements and can salvage most of what I did earlier.  So I will be taking part in the 'On the Way to Your Masters Day' that is being held on the Wednesday before the conference.   I'll bring my swatches along, because they asked attendees to bring the materials they have so far with them.  I have been stressing a bit on the swatches.  My knitting is good  except for the first stitch.  I knit continental (picking) normally and the first stitch is a little wonky, more like a knot.  I tried knitting American or English (throwing) but it didn't make a difference.  I did see some samples of the swatches on Ravelry and their first stitch is a bit off too.  I'm just hoping to get through the first level without redoing too many swatches.  I think it's because I've never had my knitting judged.  I've never entered the state fair.  Growing up, I don't think NJ had a state fair.  My county didn't have a county fair.  I lived in Passaic County while growing up.  It was too suburban to have a county fair.  Only counties like Hunterdon or Sussex, where there were farms, had county fairs.  The state fair is now held at the Meadowlands, not exactly the country.  Football hasn't started and basketball is over so there's a lot of parking and places to set up rides, but I think the race track is open.  I guess if the parents get bored, they can leave their older children and bet on the horses.  So wish me luck and I'll let you know how I do.  Bye.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Subway Series

Today I got to experience the phenomenon that is the Subway Series.  The Mets were playing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Actually, I have been going to Yankee Stadium since the beginning of the season as I decided to get partial season ticket plan.  I have very nice people around me.  However, at this game, the whole stadium took on a different complexion.  It was more crowded than usual and a lot of the more expensive seats were full, full of Mets fans.  I have never heard so much cheering for the other team at any other game that I've been to.  And I have now seen the craziest rally hat ever, the Mets rally hat.  They wear their hats with the back folded against the front and the bill standing straight up.  Only one half of their head is covered.  The Yankees won the game, stopping a 4 game loosing streak. It was interesting to see them flash a shot of Paul O'Neill for a between innings game they have.  Paul was broadcasting the game on the YES Network.  They caught Paul eating a slice of pizza.  If you've ever watched a game on YES when Paul is broadcasting with Michael Kay or anyone else, there are lots of comments about the food that shows up in the booth for Paul.  Of course, there's just about any food you may want at the stadium.  You can find hot dog and Cracker Jacks to sushi and barbecued pork to salads and veggie burgers.  And if you splurge on the front row seats known as the Legend seats, you have all the food and non-alcoholic beverages you want.  And that area has its own restaurant and bar, with anything: Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Kosher, a carving station, you name it.   It is a buffet, but one with fine china, silverware, crystal glasses and table cloths.  You can watch the game from any table because there many monitors in the place for you to watch the game.  Heck, they even pipe the radio feed into the bathrooms.  You don't miss a play.

As for my knitting, I'm still working on my top and the shawl.  I have learned that I might be able to bring my knitting into the stadium.  I think I may try to bring one of my charity projects in an inexpensive acrylic to test the waters.  I've been told that Gate 8 has allowed knitting needles in.  I always thought that the Yankees didn't allow needles into the stadium, so I've never tried.  But the Yankee fan group on Ravelry has said they do and several members have brought projects to the games.  I try to do something for charity after each project I do for myself or family.  Right now I have been doing baby items for an in-state hospital near Camden.  Camden is either the most depressed city in the state or second most depressed.  Many babies go home in diapers only.  Many people across the country support the hospital with hats, sweaters, booties, flannel sheets, isolette covers, buntings, sleep sacks and what ever a new born may need.  Here's a link to the Yahoo group supporting them, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CaringforCooper .  I also make helmet liners for the troops.  The ones the military supplies are not very warm for the winters in Afghanistan or Iraq.     There are two groups doing that.  One is  the old Operation Helmet Liners which is part of Citizen SAM now.  Here's their link, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CSAM_OperationHelmetliner .  The other is The Ships Project, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ShipSupport .  I know the wars we are currently involved in are not very popular. In fact, I don't believe we should have invaded Iraq the last time. However, that doesn't mean I don't support the troops.  They are doing a job many of us would not want.  They are putting their lives on the line so we can have freedom and rights that others don't have.  They deserve our support.

 My LYS has a yearly charity project centering around a bus trip they run to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  This year it was wash cloths for Haiti and two local women's shelters.  Most years, the project supports the women's shelter with gloves, hats and afghans.  A local group run out of a library also does charitable projects.  I think most knitters are nurturing and find various outlets for that part of their personalities.  If they have large families, they most likely supply everyone with hats, gloves, scarves and the like.  Others, like me, with small families, find other outlets.  We  do for others to spread the fruits of our labors.  So if you are inclined to doing good works and need a place that would appreciate your works, you can investigate the ones here or look for others, like Afghans for Afghan, Project Linus, or many others.  I'm sure they can use your help.  Bye.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Improvements

I live in a house that was built in the mid 80's. I am the second owner of the house. The first owners ad the house built and it's been interesting finding out all the weird choices they made during that process. The house is well designed with a large kitchen and master suite. It has a walk-out finished basement with three rooms, a utility room and two others, one was called the exercise room and the largest was used for a business they had. It seemed odd to me that there was no bath on that level. I know that if I had planned an exercise room, I'd have a bath close to it, one with at least a stall shower in it. But no, you have to go up two floors to get to a shower and one to get to a sink. They had extra heavy duty wiring run throughout the house. In fact, it's so heavy duty that the quick connects you find on sockets and wall switches can't be used because the wire won't fit. I do a little electrical work in my house, like changing wall switches, sockets and light fixtures. I've even changed circuit breakers in the main box. But then my dad trained as an electrician and taught me how to do those things. The master bath was finished very modestly. The bath is huge, at least 12' by 15'. But it only has a toilet and a combo tub /shower. The sink is in a separate area with a closet, a small dressing area. Over the years I've had it, since 1998, I've replaced the roof, some of the plumbing, furnace, water heater and air conditioner. Now I'm replacing all the windows and redoing the landscaping. I can see how the economy is still not that great. I use a website called Service Magic to find contractors for the larger jobs around the house. Within 15 min of finishing the request for contractors to give me an estimate, they were calling. So now I am scheduling people to come to the house and give me estimates. And I need to clean up.

On the knitting front, I couldn't resist casting on for something new. I casted on for the June KAL in the Icelandic lace Yahoo group. It's called the Lacy shawl by Rowan. The chart is horrible. It was unreadable in the original published form. One member, De-De, redid the chart, finding there was a 14 stitch repeat in the pattern. The chart did not address the end of the shawl, just stating to keep decreasing until there are 5 stitches left where you switch to stockinette stitch and keep decreasing to 3 stitches for the bind off, basically 4 rows of stockinette to finish. Plus it's done in Rowan's Kid Silk Haze, a fluffy mohair, that is horrible to frog. However, it does hold a stitch, so if you have some slide off the needle, you can easily get them back on without any laddering. I chose a color called Majestic. It's a grayed pale lilac that should go well with my wardrobe. It's knit as a top down single triangle, so I had 268 stitches to cast on a 6.0 mm (US 10) needle. I used a cable cast on because 1) it's very stretchy and 2) it doesn't require me to figure out how long a tail is needed. I just need to leave some tail, make a slip knot on the needle, then go. I don't have to rip it out because I didn't leave enough of a tail. I use the cable cast on when I need a stretchy cast on, like cuff down socks, and where I have a lot of stitches to cast on. It's very stable and easy to do. It's a good one to add to your repertoire. As for my challenge top, I did work on it and I've gotten all the armhole shaping done. It's down to below 100 stitches so it will move along quickly. And I shouldn't have to do any edging unless I want to since it's in moss stitch.

I think I glossed over something in my last post that's really important. That is a gauge swatch. I ALWAYS do a gauge swatch. It was instilled in me by my mother who taught me to knit at a young age. She always made gauge with the suggested size needles, even with a substitute yarn. But she always checked and so do I. It's especially important if you are substituting yarns. I also use a lot of yarns that are leftovers from knitting mills. These yarns are oiled for machine knitting but I hand knit with them. I need to remove the oil and let the yarn bloom before I can tell how it will look in the final garment. You also need to see the drape of the yarn at the suggested gauge. It might be too drapey or stiff for your liking. You then may want to rethink the project, change the yarn, change the pattern or change both. A good gauge swatch can help in so many ways. I used to do a 20 stitch gauge swatch because I never used to do anything other than a sport or worsted weight yarn. They were always between 4 and 5 inches, enough stitches to measure accurately. Now I make sure I have 2 pattern repeats at a minimum, unless it's a huge repeat, 30 stitches or more, or 4 inches based on the reported gauge on the label from the manufacturer. Then I add at least 6 more stitches to have an edge of 3 garter stitches and a field of 4" in whatever the gauge pattern states. I mean if the pattern gauge is in a lace pattern like feather and fan, you should use feather and fan for the swatch. If it's a 2 by 2 right cross over cable on a reverse stockinette field with 10 stitches between cables, then you use as many cables with 10 stitches in between as allowed by the number of stitches. If there is no pattern stated for the gauge, the default is stockinette stitch. Remember, ding a gauge swatch can save much frustration, many disasters, and trips to the frog pond. Until next time, Bye.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dangers of the Internet

I may be more curious than some others, but I think many of us wonder what ever happened to our 7th grade crush or the old college boyfriend. The advent of social networks has now made it possible for us to satisfy that curiosity. I recently joined facebook and have been a member of Classmates for several years. Through those two I have caught up with old friends and acquaintances. But recently, I have had the two most diverse reactions to my inquiries. I have been looking for my college sweetheart for the last 20 years. We did not have a good end to our relationship, but I was long over it. He was never active in the alumni association so that avenue was closed. I really didn't want to hire a detective to find him, so I tried some of those online services such as people search. That too was a dead end. I tried to find him through Classmates, but he wasn't there. After joining facebook, I thought I would give that a try, although I didn't hold out much hope. Lo and behold, he was there. I sent him a message and he responded. We had some conversations but it turns out that he really feels guilty about his behavior towards me back then. I had told him that I wasn't interested in picking up where we had left off, but I would like to be friends with him. I didn't hear back for a while and decided to check my friends list. He wasn't there any more. I was upset and thought he had unfriended me. He eventually answered me saying it was a computer foul up but he didn't try to refriend me when it happened. Unfortunately, it turns out that he can't deal with his past behavior and the fact that I had forgiven him. Or maybe it's that he's now engaged for maybe the 8th time to a woman who is young enough to be his daughter. ( He's 62 and she's 36.) That was the bad encounter. Now for the good one. I was searching for some names of old friends on facebook and found my old high school boyfriend. We had a nice conversation, laughing about the fogged windows in his old car and agreed to keep in touch now that we had found each other. As I get older, I find I want to reconnect with those from my past. It's like putting on that old sweatshirt, warm and comfy.

Now to the knitting. I have been plugging along on the ramie/silk top I mentioned in the first
episode. I have about 7-1/2 in still to go to the armhole bind off and shaping. I'm finding seed stitch a bit boring and am still on the back.

I have until July 20 to finish this. Any bets that I will make it? I think this is worse than lace. I did sign up for a KAL with Knit n Knag based on Norse mythology. I got some yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon (the recommended yarn) for it in a lovely green and brown shades. Unfortunately, the color is either retired or discontinued now. The first pattern clue comes out today. I will have to resist the urge to start it. I am so behind in so many KALs I don't know why I signed on for this one, except I love her designs. I haven't started the Winter KAL from Goddess Knits. Part of that was because I just found the right color beads for the hand-dyed yarn I got from my friend Wendy. The beads Wendy suggested looked too purple against the
multi-shaded blues . I've finally found a navy blue matte bead that looks good against the wool. I have the MMario MMystery KAL to finish. I'm more than half done with it, but put it away to do the Ravelympics. I also got the Moonfleet KAL from The Unique Sheep through EarthFaire. I bought a kit from Ellen that included the pattern, wool and beads. I did do the swatch for that shawl with the darkest color of the Eos gradience I purchased. Here's a picture of that. The second repeat has the beads while the first does not. I did a swatch for gauge because I have a finite amount of each of the 4 colors in the gradient. I wanted to be sure I would have enough to finish the shawl. But I normally do a gauge if one is given. I always do one when I'm designing so I know the finished product will fit and to plan the shaping of the garment. I have to know how many stitches I need to increase or decrease and how many rows I have to do it in. Well, I'm off for today. Gotta get back to my challenge top. Au demain (for the non-French speakers, Bye.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fanaticism and Addiction

I am a sports fanatic even though I don't play one, unless you count scuba diving as a sport. I love pro football, college basketball and Yankees baseball. Then there's Formula 1 racing, hockey (although I'm still not sure of some of the rules), college baseball and softball and Indy car racing. I even like boxing. But right now, the boys of summer have my attention. I grew up watching the Yankees and Mets on television, but mainly the Yankees, Dad was an AL guy. I would go to the stadium for games with my dad when my brother couldn't get a client to go to the game. I even went to Shea to see the Yankees when the old house was being renovated. Now I have a partial season plan for Saturday afternoons. I would get a full season plan, but the Yankees don't allow knitting needles in the park. That's just too much prime knitting time to not have something to work on. Plus, given the length of some of the Yankee games, I can't see me getting home at midnight or later. So I stay home, curled up in my big, old, comfy chair working on socks, my nephew's afghan or sometimes the never ending sweater and watch the game on YES.

The current project is sweater set I'm designing. So far, I've gotten the back up through the waist shaping. So it's on to the rest of the back. I haven't worked out the armhole shaping yet. But that will be tomorrow. I have a good idea on how I will do this. It helps that I have taken a few fitting classes over years. The classes at Stitches and the TKGA meetings are good resources for leaning on how to change a pattern to fit your body. It is imperative that you get your self measured and then use those measurements. It may not be pretty and you may hate the numbers that you see, but they are just that, numbers. A well fitted garment will make you look better and thinner. It can give you the illusion of a waist where there is none, play up your assets, change your proportions to be more balanced visually. What more could you want? OK, it can't take the 20, 50 or how ever many pounds you may want to loose, but it can hide a multitude of sins. You just have to look at the good parts to play up and NOT the parts you hate. We all have them, from Julia Roberts to Mary Sue around the corner. So take a class, get measured by someone you trust and work on showing off your assets.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Start

This is the first post in my blog. I've often thought about doing this but never actually sat down and did it. I will be writing about my life, my knitting and whatever crosses my mind. I suppose I should tell you something about myself. I'm a single middle-aged woman living in a upscale suburban town in western New Jersey. I live in the section of town that once held the maid, gardeners and stone masons for the large estates in the area, a section known as Italian Hill. Now a days, it houses immigrants who perform those tasks for the rich people on the mountain and regular working people. I spent 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry, making many of the medicines you've probably used. For six years, I was responsible for the Neosporin product line along with many other products. I was quite successful at my work. I left my job to take care of my parents in their last days. Both of them are now gone and now I find that I like staying at home. I did not have children so I have been either working or in school since I was sixteen. It feels good to be at home, doing the things I like and those that I don't on my own schedule. I have more time to do some charitable works I always wanted to do. I have time to start designing some knitware. I have time to investigate what will be next for me. Enough about me, onto the knitting.

I am participating in a challenge on Ravelry, in the ColourMart group. If you are a knitter and
haven't joined Ravelry, you should. It's free to join and has a massive repository of patterns. You can get advise and have questions answered about your knitting and other things. The challenge involves using ColourMart yarns for garments and accessories. The challenge categories are lace, sweaters, shawls and designer. It started May 20th and runs to July 20. So far I have made a shawl and am working on part of a twin set for myself. This is not a little knit since I am not a little woman.

Here is a picture of the finished shawl. The design is Threadfall by MMario. It can be found in his Yahoo group, MMario KKnits. I made it in a light laceweight from ColourMart. It is a 2/36NM cashmere in a color called Argent. If you haven't tried ColourMart yarns yet, you should try one of their sets on eBay. You get a lot of cashmere yarn for a very small price.
The second project in this challenge is a twin set. I am designing the set in a ramie/silk dk weight yarn. The set is a short sleeved, u-neck top with a v-neck cardigan. The top is made in moss stitch, otherwise known as double seed stitch. The cardigan will have lace panels on the fronts and back. The lace panels, button bands and edges will either be or include seed stitch. I am entering the top and cardigan separately. I've just started the top. I've made all the notes I need to be able to make this again since I have some more ramie/silk and a linen/silk blend for tops and cardigans. Of course I will check my gauge with the other yarns because I want my garments to fit.

I think I've come to an end. So far, so good. See you next time.