Tuesday, April 24, 2007

G is for Guardian Angel

And Grandmothers

3rd year of Letter People stitching continues for the two Kindergarten classes I volunteer for.
42 x 26 total this year.
7 X 42 letters remain.
Not doing the math.
Better if I don't know know.

During Round 3 of Sock Madness I mentioned finishing that pair while watching the Maine college hockey team at the Frozen Four. Sadly they lost. But the saddest news of all we learned the following day. Coach Whitehead's mother-in-law was killed in a car accident on her way to the game from Ohio with her husband. They didn't tell the media until after the game.

Coach's little boy is in one of the Kindergarten classes I do the Letter People for.
This week his class receives letter G. Working on them brought tears to my eyes more than once.
G is for Grandmother.
But this week that breaks my heart.

Meanwhile, our own Guardian Angel worked overtime this week.
  • A mid April snowstorm left the roads a mess. Tom was on vacation but we spent most of the first half of it trying to control water coming into the basement. 3 sump pumps going steady at times, still had all they could do keeping up with the flow.
  • The Jeep Wrangler had a date with a mechanic to install new shocks on Monday, but the trip nearly ended in disaster as Tom decided to save gas and not use 4-wheel drive during our freak blizzard. Following him to the garage in order to give him a ride home gave me a front row view as the Wrangler went out of control and swerved from one side of the road and back again; headed straight for a row of giant maples before finally regaining control. If any cars had been in the other lane he would have broad sided them. Twice.
For the record: screaming, "Tom, you're panicking!" in wide-eyed terror. Probably doesn't help. As he got into my Jeep - the one in 4-WHEEL DRIVE! - I suggested I get him home so he could change his drawers. And no more saving $3 of gas while risking thousands of dollars damage. Men.
  • By Wednesday spring arrived with temps in the high 60's. We set off in the Wrangler for Ellsworth for old book shop/Antique browsing. I drove. We pulled in at the gas pumps on the outskirts of Ellsworth and as Tom went inside to pay I decided to move out of the way. The brake pedal went all the way to the floor. With a squishy sensation I was pretty sure was a bad sign. I rolled to a stop and got out to look. Sure enough brake fluid was leaking out onto the ground. A wrecker and $180 later could not diminish the good fate of losing brakes while at a standstill. Minutes before we had been traveling 50 MPH and minutes later we would have started a long downhill route towards the busy downtown area.
Extra precaution has been taken for the remainder of the week.
Our Guardian Angel has been busy enough.
No need to press our luck further.

In knitting news:
  • I started a second pair of Mad Color Weave socks from round 4. Savoring the process a few rows at a time, rather than knitting steady with 3 hours of sleep seems to be working out just fine. I hardly need the pattern, although keeping notes on where I am remains tedious but vital. Someday I hope to be able to tell exactly what row I'm on just by looking!
  • Zipper has been applied to baby sweater. It lays perfectly flat one minute and then little waves appear when moved. I think it's a symptom of plastic zippers more than my technique.
It's what I'm telling myself.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sock Madness - out on Round 4

Not fast enough

Looks like Sweet Sixteen is as far as I go.
Round 4 of Sock Madness patterns arrived in our mailbox a little after 10:30 am on Saturday. Things were off to a shaky start, with a little confusion for several of us. "Wrapping needle twice" was not intended to increase the number of stitches and for those of us trying to do just that, nothing that followed made much sense.
Luckily the designer hung out with us on the Flickr Discussion board and got us straightened out pretty quickly!

I finished these socks in just under 48 hours, but not fast enough to move on to the next round.
I'm out, darn it!

This pattern had long looped stitches that got dropped and left hanging in mid-air 3 rows down, while you swapped stitches around or knit the 2 next to it and then came back for them. Now they would slant. First one way, then the other.

What actually got the better of me though was the long rows of Right & Left Twists.
My Left Twist technique went very badly! Everything came to screeching halt every time I came to a Left Twist - and there were a lot of them! It would take a minimum of 4 or 5 attempts to get this stitch to cooperate, without popping off the needle unworked. Leaving me right back where I started from. Didn't help much that the more I dreaded each one as I approached it, the tighter I knit; the tighter I held onto the needles, the worse it went. I added a few choice curse words to my technique as each one went by. For good measure. Didn't help.

Original 128+ Sock Madness knitters will be down to the Final 8 and I'm not one of them.
I have Sock Madness Sadness! At least I get the next 2 patterns. This one was pretty awesome so I suspect the last two will be spectacular. I would do this one again - with a few changes perhaps. I would stick with a shorter heel, a more basic heel turn across the bottom & a rounder toe. And only RIGHT TWIST braids down the sides!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One Million Blogs for Peace

Find and post a photo of the Iraq War

"The demonstration, which has remained peaceful, was being held at the urging of militant Shiite cleric Moktadaal-Sadr." slide show here

Photo: Hadi Mizban/Associated Press - New York Times

Many of the same arguments against leaving Iraq were used at the end of the Vietnam war.
Our occupation of this country should end.
It's what their people want as well.

Shame on every politician who got us into this mess.
The guilt of it should haunt you every day

I hope it does.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hooded zip-up Baby Sweater

Minus the zipper

I said I wasn't going to knit socks anytime soon, after the last round of Sock Madness.

Gee, I wonder who cast on the latest Six-Month-Sock-Along pattern?
But it's Harry Potter socks, so how could I resist?

During the latest down time of Sock Madness I did try something different, though.
My sister-in-law is about to give birth any day now and up until now I've not felt the urge to knit anything baby. Superstitious? Maybe.

But I had grabbed up a skein of Bernat Softee Baby yarn with a 50% off coupon from ACMoore's to make a pair of baby booties for husband's co-worker shower gift a while ago.
There was a lot of yarn left over. I cast-on without a clue how far the skein would go.
Foolish optimism is a wonderful thing.

The sweater I had in mind was given to me 24 years ago as a baby shower gift. It had a zipper in the back and I remember it as the best invention EVER for getting on or off a sleeping baby. Even if it meant tag-team cooperation between the inexperienced parents we once were. I knew it was still around somewhere, turned over to the girls for their Cabbage Patch Dolls long ago. Wondered where it was...

I took my memory of the sweater to the internet search engine and tried finding a free pattern. What I found was this. It's not very well written for a first adventure in baby sweaters. And the picture of the zipper installation is appalling! I've changed the pattern to include cables and rewritten it in terms I can understand.

Because that's what a Foolish Optimist does, right?

I've knit my first baby sweater!* In about 5 days of casual knitting. No crazy non-stop Madness Knitting. I can't believe how quickly it knit up once I figured out how to increase for the Raglan Sleeves. (Pile of raveled yarn proof of several attempts at figuring out "increase, place marker, increase" instruction. Without freaking holes of ginormous proportions.)

With one sleeve left to go, there was question whether or not there would be enough yarn to finish. I suggested to Tom I might need one of those booties back! In the end there was yarn left, rolled up about the size of a golf ball.

(If anyone wants my changes, let me know. It probably needs a second test knitting though to see if I deciphered my scribbles correctly. I did find the sweater, still on the doll! Looks like 58 stitches cast on instead of 78. It's only slightly smaller although I used size 7 needles on my version. )

* Technically, I knit a toddler sweater for Sara when she was little. The neck opening was so tight there was probably an element of child cruelty involved getting it on & off. She only wore it a couple of times. She would have every right to continue holding the entire experience against me, should she jot down her Mommy Dearest moments at some point later in life.

(Plus I kicked her arse at Scrabble yesterday ~:)

Pocket Constitution in honor of One Million Blogs for Peace. I'm joining.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sock Madness - Round 3 complete!

Painted Madness

Keep this up and I may not knit socks for a long, long time. Another pair of less than day and a half socks. Ugh. I might be suffering actual Sock Madness symptoms at this point.

(And Maine's hockey team was winning until I finished my socks during the 2nd period and got out of my comfy chair to take photos. 3 adults in our household now accuse me of being the jinx and are demanding a public written apology. I'm sorry we lost? sniff)

Pattern arrived for Round 3 a little after 10:30 am Wednesday. It started out very unusual with a strip of points and then 66 - 72 stitches were picked up and knit along the edge. I still have mild panic attack as I approach just a few gusset stitches to be picked up. After all the socks I've made it's still the place that freaks me a little.

To top things off for this round, it snowed nearly 2 feet and we lost power this morning for almost 3 hours. I had just started the second sock when things went dark. Knit by candlelight. That's how bad my madness has become. Lost cable & internet most of the afternoon and wondered idly how far I might have to drive in order to download proof of finished socks, should it become necessary.

Luckily, it did not!

Yarn used is Bernat Sox - Hot Tamale.
Size 2 needles for cuff; 1's for rest.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Look what the Easter bunny coughed up?

There is just way too much pastel in the this (almost) Lala Scarf for its own good. I didn't follow directions. That may go without saying for most things I do. The original pattern is found in Greetings from Knit Cafe and it's very lacy. Lots of YO's and wrap yarn around 3 times.
Too lacy perhaps.

I first saw an almost Lala scarf at Rainy Day Goods, rolled into a pretty pink bouquet. Not sure why I felt compelled to knit it during the off time, before round 3 of Sock Madness begins. I finished the Ripple socks that went on hold when round 2 started and I didn't feel like starting another pair of socks just yet.

So I decided to knit a scarf. Without following directions.
Yarn used is Cherish Minty Moda-Dea along with Cherish Baby Print variegated for the picots. It seemed like it would work. In a not so pink kind of way. I used size 7 needles and just knit until it measured 14 inches in the middle. Directions call for 14 x 33 inch scarf - 95 stitches.

Yeah. Too pastel?

I didn't actually read the part where it suggested there would be 95 stitches until I was at 14".
I had 175. And there was still 4 more rows in which we would double the number of stitches twice. Picot trim if knit as instructed would bring scarf to 380 stitches. I was up to about 700 stitches when I started the picots from hell.

Oh. My. @##@##@. Word.

And it's not that I don't swear (way too much)...for some weird reason it feels wrong to type swear?

Stephani has allowed she would wear it if she were feeling particularly girlie. I suggested she wear it and the first person who shows any sign they aren't repulsed by it - they get to have it.
Except it's more likely a guy takes notice and in all likely hood owning a pastel ruffled scarf is not what they're interested in.