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Monday, December 30, 2013

Slouchy Leftover Hat

This hat was knit up rather quickly as a potential gift.  I had my doubts about its acceptability which turned out to be correct!

The hat was knit on 16" US 11 circular needles holding two strands of Bartlettyarn (which is worsted weight/heavy worsted weight) together throughout.  You could use a bulky yarn.

Cast on 64 stitches and knit in K2, P2 ribbing for 3 inches.
Knit one round plain, increasing 5 stitches evenly.
Knit plain (knit every stitch in every round) until you are ten inches (or a little more) from cast on edge.
K4, knit 2 together around.
K3, knit 2 together around.
K2, knit 2 together around.
K1, knit 2 together around.
Knit 2 together around. If necessary, continue this final decreasing until you have only 6-8 stitches left on needle.  Break yarn leaving plenty of tail to go through stitches, pull tightly and secure. Finally, weave in ends.

This is a very sturdy and somewhat slouchy hat.  If you want it slouchier, use softer yarn, perhaps some which is already bulky weight.  I carried one color throughout, adding new colors as I ran out of the previous color.  A pretty quick knit, but next time I will use metal needles instead of bamboo as the bamboo did what they do best, stick to the yarn do it does not slip off needles!

Since I rather like this hat myself, I may be wearing it out in the cold soon!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Knitting Journal--Day Six

The day has finally come:  I have completed the Christmas knitting for the grandchildren for this year...with the exception of one pair of regular mittens in dark gray and white.  Yay!  My target for getting the "foreign" gifts into the mail was tomorrow and I have gotten there!  A big weight off my mind.

Last night I worked on the gloves-with-mouse-faces-on-the-fingertips for a couple of hours finishing both cuffs, beginning of hands and all the fingers on one glove.  Today I was able to complete the remaining fingers and thumbs.  The pattern I started with  was Grinch Gloves.  I used some really lovely variegated yarn in grays, pink, lavender, purple, blue, and green. 

The pattern was very easy to knit and there were NO HOLES between the fingers to sew up.  Susan Anderson is a wonderful knit designer from the perspective. I have never knit a pair of gloves yet that did not have major holes to repair, no matter how carefully I worked them.  The only glitch on the fingers was that when I looked at the pattern numbers, they were never the same as on the gloves.

Glove with Mouse Face on Fingertip!

Finally I have a pile of completed Christmas knitting ready to go!

Most of the Christmas Knitting 2013!  Ready to mail out...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Knitting Journal--Day Five

Last night I awoke shortly before midnight after a nightmare and was still awake when the power went off just after 1 AM.  (That was NOT the nightmare...!)  Since I would then not be able to sleep I got up, found my headlamp and went to the pantry to take down a battery-powered lantern from the top of the freezer and thus being prepared, went to the Upper Regions where all my knitting doodads are located. I picked up the second convertible mitten and started on the thumb.  When that was completed I began the fingerless glove insert.

Around 4 AM the power came back on.  Time to hit the hay!

When I leaped out of the bed (well, "leaped" is a bit of a stretch...!) to answer the telephone, I discovered that Grammie-services might be needed in the afternoon.  Yay!  One of my best times.  I love spending time with the children.  They are such a delight. I wish more of them were close so we could develop a stronger relationship.  Well, from my end, I feel very close and adore them all.  From their end, they have very little opportunity to know me and their grandfather except through conversations.

Anyway, back to the subject!  I spent some time working in the kitchen then more time organizing my knitting needles, especially the short glove double-pointed needles, which I put into labeled snack bags.  The ones I needed for the remaining knitting projects I placed in my take-along tool bag.  That was very satisfying.

It turned out that the Grammie-service was not needed this afternoon, and a major snowstorm put the evening potentiality out of the question...so, home for knitting.

The first project was to throw the stegosaurus into the washing machine to felt.  After twenty minutes the major part of it was beautifully felted.  Unfortunately a lot of the stuffing moved into part of the tail, giving the tail are rather pregnant appearance as well as not felting properly.

After pulling out much of that "tail stuffing" I put the stego back into the washing machine for another ten minutes of felting.  This time:  same thing!  So, I pulled out some of the unsightly bulging, trying to shove some of it back into the body which is now rather depleted so the stego looks like it is going through a bad spell food-wise.  I decided that this guy is going to have to be it as I don't have materials to make another one and I don't have the time.  Perhaps this creature will be loved, even if it is at the end of a starvation cycle.

Next I put some Red Velvet Cookies in the refrigerator to chill for two hours and picked up the last convertible mitten and went to work.  At shortly before 11 PM I finished weaving in the last end.  These mittens are adequate but I am still not satisfied.  I may try to perfect the pattern with my knitting, but some other year.  I do have one orphaned convertible mitten....the prototype, which I may finish sometime, but now...on to the gloves-with-mouse-faces-on-the-fingertips...but that is a project for a new day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Knitting Journal--Day Four

So things are moving right along, and so is the calendar!  Having lots of  sitting and waiting hours on Wednesday made much of the Christmas tree project seemingly fly by.  Yesterday that was completed (plus lots of laundry washed and dried, dishes washed and dried, food cooked, wood brought in for the fire, etc) and it was on to the Stegosaurus.

The Stegosaurus is from Jacob Haller on Ravelry.com.

Thinking to make it larger, I started out knitting with three strands of Barlettyarn on size 15 needles.  It was immediately obvious that I did not have enough of the same color scheme for a whole stegosaurus with that set-up so I tore it out and started again with two strands (which is what I had originally planned...!) and size 9 needles.  It went better.

Due to a friend of our family, but mostly Dear One, I went to the upper regions and camped out on the couch with my music stand to hold the directions and Life(from BBC/Planet Earth/The Blue Planet) to keep me company while Friend and Dear One had a nice visit.  I got to the row with 67 stitches just one side of what I thought was the halfway mark then went to bed.

This morning I awoke something after 3 AM, could tell I was not going back to sleep so I made some fake pecan sticky buns and finished knitting the body around 7:30...whereupon I went back to bed!  Still have feet, back plates, stuffing and felting to go.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Knitting Journal--Day Three

The second major project:  Christmas Trees for Cardboard Cones has been started.  Christmas Tree number one in green is heading toward completion.  This green tree is being knit with the Purled Christmas Tree pattern.

This project is on its second iteration:  the first one was with just one strand of yarn on size 3 needles.  The needles I picked from my needle stash were lace needles and quite pointy which, added to the smallness of the size, caused enough pain to start again with two strands of yarn held together and size 8 needles.  One strand is a green synthetic with a gold thread running through it.  The second strand is my favorite: Bartlettyarn.
Green purled tree completed on cone

A dear friend had given me two wonderful cardboard cones from some coned yarn she had previously used up, and which cones she had saved for a purpose to be determined...don't we all do that...save stuff we know we will need "some day"?  Anyway, she generously gave them to me.  Sadly, this Christmas tree was going to be way too big for those cones...would have worked great as the pattern was written, but not as I am making it, so I went to Joann Fabrics and Crafts.  When I finally found the styrofoam cone section there were only TWO left!  Just the number I needed. I said a quick silent "thank you" prayer, purchased them, and walked out of the store very very happy and encouraged.

Red and green purled tree completed
Once Christmas tree number one was completed, it was on to Christmas tree number two, which isin red and green--still the Bartlettyarn in green, and the synthetic yarn with a gold thread running through it, though red this time...and here it is above! A delightful project and very easy, just time-consuming.  I think a forest of these trees in several different sizes would be lovely Christmas decorations.  We shall see...but definitely not THIS year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Knitting Journal--Day Two

This post has been a few days coming!  Sadly, there are other things to do besides Christmas Knitting!

Since the previous post lots of things have happened/been done.  A hat and cowl sample have been knit for Joann Fabrics and Crafts.  A scarf sample has been started for Joann Fabrics and Crafts in the worsted weight yarn and needles listed on the pattern.  Since I was trying to complete it in time for the Open House last weekend and realized it was not going to happen, I found some bulky yarn and started a second sample with Lion Brand Hometown yarn.  Neither of them got much further than twelve inches in length but were a good sample of using the same pattern and getting very different results...thus a very good selling point for knitting a gauge swatch!  I delivered them for the Open House, still on the needles.  I have not received any feedback either way but have now picked up the samples and will complete them once the Christmas Knitting is complete.

As far as the actual Christmas Knitting project, I have completed the Bartlettyarns pair of convertible mittens using Ramona Flowers Fingerless Gloves pattern as a starting place.  These worked out somewhat  better than the previous pattern, though the glove part is still humpy under the convertible mitten part which I created myself.

Fingerless interior of Convertible Mittens
To make the RFFG into convertible mittens, I knit up the pattern as written, with the exception that I did a simple knit two, purl two ribbing instead of the fancier ribbings Ramona created.  (Another time I think I will try one of them but in the interest of time, I went the cheap and sure route! )  After knitting the glove as written I picked up stitches on the back of the hand, plus two on each side of the palm then cast on the same number of stitches on the palm that were on the back, minus the four extra picked-up stitches.

Back of Hand with Conversion Bag showing wrong side

Once the original number of stitches were on the needle (I used the Magic Loop method of knitting these convertible mittens so I could knit them both at once!) I started knitting around.  My plan was to knit the back of the hand stitches in stockinette stitch then knit the palm stitches with a little ribbing for three or four rows.

Back of Completed Convertible Mitten...notice the garter stitch band and the stocking stitch tip!
Well, I did knit the palm (cast-on stitches) in ribbing but instantly realized I had botched it when picking up the back of the hand stitches, so to sort of recoup things--you know, like a kitten who is walking along the back of the couch and falls off, the minute she hits the floor does a quick flip and goes off on another project as if that is what she planned to do all along--I did my own "quick flip" and knitted in garter stitch for a few rounds, then turned the work (creating a small hole which I sewed up at the end...) and began in stockinette stitch to finish up.

Palm side of completed mittens with fingerless mitts covered by conversion bag.
The final additional change I made to Ramona's pattern was to close up the top of the thumb. I thought as I was doing the final convertible knitting that I would make a matching convertible thumb top, but in the interest of sanity and time, I just added four rounds of knitting and closed it up.  Fine!  The mittens are done, and don't look too awful.  They are a tad large for the recipient, but she will grow, plus she is a heavy-duty player-in-the-snow so I think she will find them perfect as her hands will stay warm for a very long time with this Bartlettyarn.

So---convertible mittens pair number one, DONE!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Garlic Raising Project at Home!

While we were in Maine (Rangeley Lakes) in October for a vacation week, I was able to attend a garlic-raising lecture at the local library.  It was very interesting and encouraging. I love garlic!  The thought of raising it ourselves had never previously occurred to me.  As a byproduct of the lecture, all participants (nearly 20 people, many of which were garlic growers already!) received a bag with four or five garlic bulbs to plant in our own gardens!

When we got home from Maine I still had work to do to clean up the kitchen garden, which I finally did.  It was now ready to prepare for spring, AND ready to plant garlic which is supposed to be planted in October or November in this area.  That was good news as we had not passed the garlic-planting deadline.

Earlier in the fall there had been a note on our town's ListServe with someone offering $10 loads of composted goat manure.  I dredged into the recesses of my brain and remembered the name so I was able to go back into the ListServe archives and find that message.  Contacting the goat farmer was an easy thing and he agreed that he still had a pile of "compost" so I headed out in the truck.

The trip was a nice trip though the final trip up a steep and VERY narrow driveway was a bit nerve-wracking for this gutless driver.  When I got to the top into the yard the farmer told me to turn the truck around and drive it up to the compost pile cross-ways of the road.  This entailed getting VERY CLOSE to the edge of the road and a very very steep drop-off.  My heart was fluttering and my stomach was clenching, and that was before the farmer got there with his tractor and bucket to load the truck.  Well, he did a good job and gave us a nice load on top of that tarp that I had so smartly put into the bottom of the truck bed so we would not have compost forever impaled in the ridges of the truck liner.

Once home Dear One and Dear Daughter-in-law unloaded the compost (which was much LESS compost-y that I had envisioned, but which will still add good stuff to the garden) onto the garden. I was worn out from the stress of the loading up so I put off shoveling it around (with our new square-pointed shovel!) until the next day.

Finally we were ready to plant the garlic.  I gave three of the bulbs to Dear Daughter-in-law to plant in their garden, along with about a third of a bale of straw for covering it to protect it over the winter.  It was so great to get that garlic in the ground.

Heavenly Father helped things along nicely by giving us wonderful gentle fall weather, unusually warm for an extended period.  Here in mid-December the ground is still not frozen, though I think that is coming soon.

Here is the kitchen garden with a straw-covered garlic patch...with a straw-covered chive clump as well!
Straw-covered garlic, and chives, too!
Without the extended mild fall weather this would not have happened.  Now we get to wait until spring to see if anything is actually happening under the straw.  If all is well with the garlic, we should have some nice bulbs come July next year!  That would be wonderful.  These are German Extra Hardy Hardnecks.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Knitting Journal, Day One!

The title of this series of blog posts is sort of like the Creation story in the Holy Bible...day one does not necessarily mean it was all done on THAT day, just like all the stuff done on Day One in the Creation was not done in one day, but in one period of time, whatever Heavenly Father's period of time happens to be.

So, each year  I knit for the grandchildren and give them at Christmas.  Usually it is mittens but this year I decided to ask what they would actually like to receive.  This is the list:

G: convertible mittens in light green and light blue
A: convertible mittens in light blue and dark green
L: gloves in pink with some purple and mouse faces on the fingertips
T: a Christmas tree to go on a cardboard cone
A-2: a Christmas tree to go on a cardboard cone
J: a felted dinosaur
E: mittens
C: mittens
L: mittens
B: mittens

Three of the last four sets of mittens are already completed since I knitted them in January to get a head start on Christmas knitting.  The rest of the process is why I am writing this Christmas Knitting Journal....the other parts of the Christmas knitting have already been taxing in the extreme.

Having some Hilda Yates' Farm Bartlettyarn which is wooly and very thick and warm, I knit a prototype convertible mitten to see how it would go.  I found a pattern on Ravelry and knit it up true to the pattern. Her mittens/glittens are absolutely beautiful.

Sadly, this pattern did not work very well for me.  At least, I thought it was way too humpy and armour-like.  Kathy Cochran, the designer, said she had used DK weight yarn for years but had started using worsted weight yarn with the same needles which only made the glittens a little bit larger.  All her glittens were so promising but when  I used the Bartlettyarn  I was unhappy with them.  Here is the prototype I made with that yarn:
Bartlettyarn glitten closed

Bartlettyarn glitten showing fingerless glove interior of mitten

Maybe I mentioned above that the glitten feels like chain mail armour, or at least, how I imagine it would feel. I am a bit claustrophobic, so this is a problem for me.

Since this failed for my liking, I purchased some Cascade 220 Superwash in DK weight to try again.  VERY similar results!  SO...obviously the problem is with me and my knitting. Kathy's glittens are stunningly beautiful...

DK weight glitten backs...

DK weight glitten-palmside

DK weight glitten - palmside showing fingerless glove
Things I have already learned on this project to this point:

1.  The intensity of the yarn colors matters.  If you are going to go to the work to do a somewhat complicated pattern, there should be a vast different in hue so the pattern will show clearly.  No bragging rights if you can barely see the design.  Sadly.

2.  Even following a pattern exactly will not necessarily give you the results you are expecting.  This does not make the pattern wrong.  Expectations may need to be readjusted!

3.  Sometimes it is a good idea to have some kind soul try on the glitten to see if it fits on a hand more closely approaching the size of the hand of the recipient grandchild.  This can be encouraging.  Diana was kind enough to try on this DK glitten and found it comfortable and fine.  She suggested that the ribbing on the palm was the only flaw...should have been tightened up some, so when I make the second glove insert I will do it differently.  At least, I hope to do so...


Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Health Find...infused water

Last Sunday Debbie asked me if I had ever tried infused water.  Since I had never heard of it, I said so.  She said to take a nice 2 quart glass bottle and put a very thinly sliced apple of any kind (I used a Pink Lady since that is what I had) in the bottom of the jar.  Toss in one stick of cinnamon, fill the jar with water, cover and refrigerate. In an hour, pour yourself a glass of lovely lightly flavored infused water.  I loved it!

You can refill the jar three or four times.  By the time the apple slices begin to brown you might want to remove them and start with a new apple and cinnamon stick...

Since I love lemon, I tried putting a sliced lemon in the bottom of a jar along with about an inch of finely sliced fresh ginger and let it refrigerate.  That one was really good, too.

If any readers have suggestions of other good flavors of infused water, send comments!

Thanks.  And thanks, Debbie, for a treat that will most likely be a rest of my life sort of thing!