Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boxes of Happiness: part 2

Remember when I complained about that awful Impeccable yarn and said Mister Vonkysmeed agreed for me to order some new yarn?  Well, it got here the same day we returned from our mini vacation to the mountains, hooray for WEBS!  I think the box may have been handled by Ace Ventura however as the top and side were completely crushed, so bad the UPS delivery person asked me to open it to verify the contents were alright before he would leave.  Upon opening it the dear Mister Vonkysmeed informed the hapless delivery person he thought one of the skeins of yarn was broken, showing the guy the contents of the box who actually broke into a smile for us. 

Almost the entirety of this box is intended for others, but I get to knit with it so it's all good.  Starting at the left and moving clockwise here's what I got:
  • Sugarloaf by Valley Yarns, rose pink
  • Encore Tweed by Plymouth, hunter green
  • Soya by Sublime, ginseng
  • Amity by Elle Rae, aquamarine
  • Lamb's Pride Superwash by Brown Sheep, shane's red
  • Itata Multy by Araucania, tropical sunset
  • Itata Solid by Araucania, light orange
  • Select Worsted Merino Superwash by Plymouth, lichen
  • Itata Multy by Araucani, green/gold
Best of just about everything was on sale so I got it all for almost half of the regular price, yea!  I just couldn't resist the Itata being half off so got enough to make two small shawls for gifts and two shawls  for myself.  I'm thinking Aeolian for me with some of the tropical sunset Multy (and beads, must have beads!), and Saroyan with some for Missus Gordon, Annis with the solid for the Momster, Gail for me of course with the green/gold Multy, they are all gorgeous patterns.  You have no idea how hard it was to stop there, the colorways of this stuff is gorgeous!  And it feels lovely too, can definitely feel the crisp dryness of the silk even though there isn't much in there.

The Amity will make a cardigan for Lil' Miss, probably the Mi Escuelita by Rosi Garmendi  from Knitty: Fall 2009.  The color is lovely, it does have a bit of a scratchy feel, the 25% wool content coming through I guess.  I hope it washes up a bit softer, but the price is great, and I may be ordering more to make a Tomten (Mister V just ordered Knitting Without Tears for me so he could get free shipping from Amazon, hooray!) for Destructo-boy.  Lest you think he got the short end of the stick he did get something out of the box, the Encore Tweed will be used for a Pembroke vest by Kristen Kapur from Petite Purls: Summer 2009 that I intend to have ready for Thanksgiving.  I just love that pattern and think he will look adorable in it!  The Soya is also for him, I am thinking the Gentleman's polo by Kate Oates for next summer would be prefect out of it.  I will wait a bit before starting this one to verify his size a little closer to the season.

The Select Worsted, Lamb's Pride, and Sugarloaf are all to make hats for family members this Christmas.  I have not completely decided on the patterns yet, but am leaning towards the 3AM cable hat for the Barbarian Lord, Palindrome for the StepPops-in-law, and Brattleboro for the Momster-in-law.  Boy have I got a lot of knitting to do to be ready for the holidays!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend away

We were lucky enough to have the use of the Pops in law's condo up in the mountains this past weekend for a little time away from home.  It was a much needed break that we all enjoyed.   We spent our time with some short hikes, 0.5 and 0.7 miles, relaxing at the condo, and playing at the lake (yes, even though there are no pictures we did go swimming!).  Both munchkins did very well on the hikes although Destructo-boy fell down on both, scraping up his knees all to heck and getting a nice faceful of dirt in the process.

walking the Interpretive trail in the Children's National Forest
Lil' Miss finds her Christmas tree

Keller Peak Fire Lookout, 7882 ft

Why do I always choose to go to whatever building is the tallest in the area when I am afraid of heights?  It took a good ten minutes for me to climb up there, I had to stop halfway because my legs just got so weak I had to take a few minutes to gird myself for the final climb.  Then once up there I couldn't stop shaking.  I wasn't even able to go outside to take pictures of the incredible view.  I did get a card certifying me as a member of the Honorable Order of Squirrels for managing to get up there!

Although Lil' Miss found the acorn in the middle of the path I did make her put it back down.  We had a nice little discussion about how if everyone took a little of the forest with them then there would be none left for anyone else to enjoy.  I explained we would take our memories and our pictures with us but no actual objects.  She understood too well as the 'Mommy, please take a picture of insert object here' began!

view of the high desert

Yes, Lil' Miss is sniffing that tree.  The trail guide suggested we do so, so the entire family leaned in for a good whiff to find out what it smelled like.  Of all things it smelled just like vanilla, yum!

requisite arty photo of a Mantilija poppy

See, I even got some knitting in!  I finished off the second skein of my Woodland shawl, finished Grumpy's Christmas present and started on one for my niece, surprisingly productive weekend as knitting goes.  The rugrats were happy to get back home but definitely want to go back.  Hopefully we will get up there this winter while there is still snow on the ground for some wintertime fun!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Impeccable is not flawless

As a matter of fact this yarn has made me veer directly into yarn snob territory.  The yarn I speak of is the newish Impeccable line by Michael's craft stores sold under their Loops & Threads label.  I am using this crap yarn to make a Fresh Picked Color cardigan for Lil' Miss to have for her first day of school in a few weeks.  We picked this yarn (I say we meaning I pointed out colors I liked and she hugged those she liked as well) because it was the best color in a worsted weight yarn that Michael's had in stock the day we went shopping.  I don't think I can quite find the words to express my dismay at using this to make an actual garment but I shall try.  Don't get me wrong, each yarn has it's purpose in life, I have used it successfully for a hat and a few amigurumi toys (most notably my crochet fortune cookies), I just don't think this yarn is a good match for clothing.

the buttons are my favorite part of the sweater

It is so stiff and unyielding it is like knitting with crafters cotton which I normally only use for crochet work as it is just so hard on my hands.  There is no give to it as there is with wools, blends, or even the nicer cottons I have used, it doesn't seem to stretch at all when you hold the yarn between your fingers and give a little pull.  Thankfully it isn't 'squeaky' for me as other Raveler's have complained of, I think because I use only wood needles (the clicking of metal needles is kinds like nails on a chalkboard to me, not soothing at all!).  The fabric coming off of my needles seems rather stiff as well, not the soft, flowy feel of a little girl cardigan I was going for.  Here is to hoping this softens up a LOT after washing.  One positive thing I can say about this yarn is that the stitch definition is quite nice so far.

Someone is happy with it at least!

 After getting only about 2 inches knit over a few days (I kept abandoning it in favor of other wips just so I didn't have to touch that yarn) I decided to put on my big girl panties and just work on the darn thing to get the misery over with.  Lil' Miss wanted her sweater done in time for school so I better get cracking right?  Much to my surprise I got it done in just a few more days, apparently using yarn I don't like makes me work faster, who would have guessed?  Happily after being run through the washer and dryer it has softened up considerably, I am actually rather surprised at how soft it came out.  Now the garment flows and moves like I had imagined the fabric for her finished cardigan should.  I still will not use it again for garments due to the experience of knitting with it.  I knit to relax, so I don't kill people or yell at my rugrats so using distasteful yarn doesn't really augment the experience of knitting for me.

Working with it did convince me of one thing, the act of knitting should be fun and enjoyable for me so even if I am making something for the kids I will no longer buy the cheapest stuff I can find.  I realized that my favorite sweater for Lil' Miss cost $25 from Carters three years ago, so it would make sense for that to be a guideline for the cost of the yarn to make them something (we won't even go into labor costs as that would just be silly!).  Thus I won't get the uber fancy stuff like say, Madelinetosh Tosh dk (will drool damage my keyboard?) but I can afford to purchase good quality yarns from Knit Picks or fancier yarns that are on sale or clearance instead of the bargain yarns at the local craft superstore.  The best part of this decision is that Mister Vonkysmeed is on board with the idea and already approved my recent spending spree at WEBS (ooh, can a virtual credit card melt!?).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tiny Dancer

What is it about little girls and ballet?  Like many little girls her age Lil' Miss loves ballerinas, in fact at her preschool graduation being a ballerina is what she proclaimed was her future profession.  I think it may have started with the Angelina Ballerina cartoons that air on PBS.  We watched them every day for at least 2 years, and there aren't that many episodes, only 39 fifteen minute episodes according to Wikipedia.  Yes dear reader, I know most of them by heart as does Lil' Miss of course!  She may have moved on in her viewing choices but she still loves ballet.

Her summer ballet class at the community center just ended and all the parents were invited to watch the final class.  This class is not a parent participation class (like the one we took while I was pregnant with Destructo-boy, nothing like a heavily pregnant woman dancing ballet let me tell you!), we adults get the fun of waiting in the lobby while the girls dance except for the final day.  They were unbelievably cute, about 18 little girls in leotards and tights, almost every one had on some sort of flowy skirt, a few with tulle skirts, and all running around like little terriers hopped up on espresso.  It was quite a sight to see, and damn if my camera battery didn't die after 5 minutes!

They all showed us they had learned how to do first position, and displayed some other basic moves.  I love how the teacher, Miss Kim, gets them to do some of the basic ballet movements including running, jumping, galloping, (don't know the proper terms, I never got to take ballet) by turning it into something fun.  All the girls in the class had so much fun showing off what they had learned for their parents, and the paparazzi were in full force as they did so.  The best part was at the end of the class when each dancer was given a chiffon scarf to dance with and they all went running around the room waving their scarves in the air.  Amazingly there was only one crash accompanied by tears, it wasn't the only crash, a few others made impact but they got up and just kept on running.  I didn't notice if anyone other parents were quite as amused as I, but I chuckled away through the whole song.

I think we really lucked out in finding Miss Kim, and best of all she actually owns a local studio that teaches dancers up to the high school level so if Lil' Misses interest continues we have someplace local with a supportive environment for her to go.  As long as she has an interest I will find a way to pay for her lessons, she deserves nothing less.  Plus something about seeing her all dressed for class with her hair pulled up in a sweet little bun just pulls on my heartstrings, I actually teared up the first time I got her ready for her class.  Good gracious, when did I become such a softie!?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Having wisdom teeth pulled is...

great for my knitting time!  While hiding out from my at times exuberantly loving kids (really didn't want any head-jaw impact you understand!) I was able to make some really great progress on my current wip.  The Central Park Hoodie is complete and has already been worn.  I had been obsessively knitting on it prior to the surgery but just wasn't able to get it done, I had this deep seated fear that I wouldn't wake up from the anaesthesia, weird I know but there it is.  I spent the day of surgery (we were home by 11am) knitting all afternoon on the sleeve, finishing it on Thursday and then finished the buttonhole and button bands on Friday.  I washed up the sweater on Saturday morning and laid it out on a towel to dry, enduring the wet dog smell in my room for two days, blech.

I wasn't sure how much I'd like the Peruvian wool, but after being washed the yarn has bloomed (check out my newly learned yarny term!) beautifully and doesn't seem as scratchy and dense.  Although it will be great for outer wear I don't think I'd want to use it for anything against the skin, I'll stick with the merino wool fibers for that.  We'll see how it holds up to me and my kids long term, but for the cost of $22 I was able to make a cozy, warm cardigan for myself in time for fall, even though I am wearing it now with the morning chill in the air (welcome to the summer that wasn't!).

I even got my first semi-compliment on it at Lil' Misses ballet recital.  After the baby seated next to me kept poking her finger through my sleeve cables the following exchange occurred with her mother:
"That isn't what you've been knitting is it?" (I worked on it at every class while we waited in the lobby of the community center for the girls to be done with class)
"Why yes, it is."
"Wow, that was quick!"
So at least I know my knitting speed is impressive to non-knitters!  Not that impressive to me, but hey, you take what you can get right?  Now that my cardigan is done I am working on one for Lil' Miss for her first day of Kindergarten.  I am making her the Fresh Picked cardigan by Lion Brand, but I will make it with full length sleeves and full length body instead of cropped as in the pattern.  She is terribly excited about it (I so love knitting for an appreciative audience!) and hopefully I will have this ready for her to wear on her first day of school next month, in 3 1/2 weeks yikes!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

While I recuperate...

from having a pair of wisdom teeth pulled on Wednesday ( thank gawd Mister Vonkysmeed can stay home to help with the ankle-biters!) why don't you enjoy some yarn p*rn!  This was a pleasant surprise from The Momster who won it at her Bible study group last week and gifted it to me.  Thanks Momster!

This is a skein by Fleece Artist of hand dyed baby alpaca, in the wine colorway I do believe, it is a 50/50 blend of alpaca and merino wool fibers.  Now what to do with 360 yards of bulky weight boucle yarn?!  Hmmm...

Monday, August 2, 2010

On the needles

What am I currently working on?  Well, not losing my mind mostly!  Knitting-wise I currently have two projects going on, a Central Park Hoodie for me, and a Woodland shawl for me, notice a trend here?  I really should start something for someone else soon so I don't feel guilty about all the me me me me me that's going on!

The fronts and back knit in one piece

The second right sleeve

I am really enjoying knitting the hoodie, it is my first time making a larger, long sleeve sweater like this I have only made a short sleeve cardigan and a short sleeve pullover before, Hey Teach! and Silken Scabbard.  I can't wait to get it done, especially with the weather going the way it is!  With it being August and still chilly in the morning half the time I actually could wear it in the mornings and possibly in the evening despite it being summer, and this in spite of the fact that it is made out of Wool of the Andes!  The only problem I have had so far is having to knit 3 sleeves, yes 3.  I decided to do them in the round so I don't have to seam and my first attempt was both too tight and too short so I frogged that sleeve and tried again.  Luckily the second time seems to be working well so far, and the yarn has held up really well to being knit, ripped, and then knit again. 

The shawl is my first attempt at beading, I am using a bloody tiny crochet hook to get the beads onto each stitch which is extraordinarily time consuming, but well worth the effort in my opinion.  I hadn't know what I was going to do with this yarn, I ordered it on a whim just to try out the Palette yarn you see.  Then on one of my crafting get-together days with friends Chatty-Cathy brought her beads and she had some that perfectly matched the color of the yarn, so she insisted I take them and use them with the yarn (they had been purchased by her on a whim as well while she was shopping in Little India).  I had to order a third skein of the Palette yarn as I think just the 2 won't be quite long enough and at $1.99 per skein I'd rather have too much than not enough!  Now of course I envision wearing this with the perfect summery white/ivory dress so will have another project of sewing a dress for myself next...
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