Monday, July 25, 2011

Enchanted Tiki Room socks

My final pair of socks to accomplish my goal of 6pairs of socks knit in 2011!  These were in a KAL for the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry for June, the challenge that month was to knit self striping sock yarn in a pattern that would show off the stripy effect.  For my self striping yarn I chose to use some Felici fingering in the tiki colorway (and I even bought extra to make sure Lil' Miss could have some socks in this great color too), and yes, when I first saw the name I had the theme song to the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland running through my head.  I have already promised myself to get a cool picture of my socks at the attraction at some point soon!

I really wanted to do the Jaywalkers pattern, but the way the chevron pattern is created would be too tight over my high arches based on other knitters comments.  I suppose I could have tried to make them, but then when they didn't fit after all that work and me loving the look of the pattern so much I probably would have cried.  So I kept looking until I found Topographical socks by Katie McEwen which gives the chevron look, but has columns of purl stitches and lacy yarn overs that give the sock a bit more stretch.  That said, they are still rather snug on my feet.  

I didn't really modify the pattern much, I just knit the leg to 3" before starting the heel flap, as that is as much leg as I like, and then for the heel I did a regular heel flap and gusset combo rather than the short row heel in the pattern.  Again, I made this decision to change the heel construction due to the high arches.  For the toe I followed the pattern exactly.  It was a really easy pattern to memorize, the chart only had two rows on it and it was an 8 stitch repeat, so they went really quickly.  

I am happy with the pattern, but not so sure about the colors, they are kind of bright.  I am beginning to realize as much as I love all the crazy colored sock yarns I don't know that I am quite ready to wear them.  And now that my small project bag is empty it's time to fill it up with holiday knitting.  Starting Executive Funk for Chatty-Cathy next, yea, something other than socks for awhile!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finally learning to quilt

To be honest I have kind of quilted before, but it was a Hawaiian applique style quilt so not quite the same thing as a pieced quilt.  A few friends of mine quilt, Crafty Auntie and The QuiltMaster, and their beautiful projects have finally inspired me to get started on learning this craft myself in spite of being terrified of having to cut a very straight line.

Since I often suffer from startitis, to force myself to get my act together and get the fabric ready by a certain date I set up a crafting party for this weekend so I can get help cutting out all the pieces in preparation for sewing it all together. I could ostensibly cut them out myself, but the chances of them beign square if I do it with my limited supplies is slim to none.  The QuiltMaster offered up her rotary cutter, board, and whatever fancy rulers she has to help me get everything cut out.

For my first project I decided to make a really basic quilt for Destructo Boys' crib, well now it's a toddler bed since we pulled the drop down rail off about a year ago.  I think it would look so much nicer with a quilt on top instead of just a sheet.   I found some free patterns online and the one that most caught my eye was the Big Block quilt from Claudia's Quilt Shoppe.  It looks simple enough for me to get some instant satisfaction, but enough different with the borders to keep me interested in it.  Best of all it should give me some instant satisfaction so I can learn how to put a quilt together rather easily so I can make more!

Since I went out and got my fabric for the blocks, sashing, and borders I should be all ready to go for this weekend.  I found some great prints with hot rods and woodies at the beach for the blocks and a really pretty mottled blue to use for the sashing and borders that seems to have all the blues that are in the other fabrics in it.  For the lining I am waiting until I have more time to go through the less expensive flat folds at my local fabric store, for some reason spending $30 on the back of the quilt just makes me sick,  It is great fabric, by Hoffman, but that is still a bit pricy for me.  I suppose I should pre-wash the fabric already purchased to make sure if there is any shrinkage it happens now and not after the quilt is all assembled. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kudzu shawlette

The main reason I decided to even make this shawl (beyond the whole, ooh pretty knee jerk response) was to get my mind back into the lace knitting mindset before I started on a wedding veil for Crafty Auntie.  Kudzu was the KAL for the Beginning Lace Knitters group on Ravelry for June and as soon as I saw it I added it to my favorites thinking I would get to it some day.  Then I realized I was planning on making the veil out of kidsilk haze which I hear is a rather difficult yarn to knit with so thought maybe working on something that gets me back into the place of mind I need to be to work on lace just might be a good idea.  Then of course Knit Picks went and had a summer sale, I was a goner I tell you (yes, I bought much more than just the yarn for this shawl, darn their sales)!

The pattern is really easy to follow and is both written out and charted, I loved how I was able to memorize the short repeats in no time at all, which was nice since the rows were incredibly looong!  There was a time halfway thorough where I though I'd never get done but that feeling went away pretty quickly thankfully.  I think the yarn is a pretty good match to the pattern too, it's KP Comfy sport in the honeydew color, of course it wasn't on sale, but the yellow yarn that was the backup color I ordered was which will end up being a top for Lil' Miss someday.  It is so soft too, definitely feels like your favorite cotton t-shirt as some have commented, I just want to cuddle up with the thing!  The nice cotton/acrylic blend is perfect for wearing here in sunny So Cal on those days or evenings when there is just a hint of coolness in the air.

I have now decided this crescent shape is my favorite for shawls, I have a rectangular shawl that I barely wear and did try on the various triangular ones I made as gifts last Christmas but this shape is definitely best for me.  Since it has a nice curve to it already it tends to stay put much better, which is my main complaint with shawls I hate how they fall off the shoulders, when I put something on I expect it to stay where I put it, I don't want to have to repeatedly mess with my clothes.  Apparently The Momster likes it too, she was seriously coveting this shawl over the weekend at a barbeque we had.  I think I know what her Christmas gift will be, now just to settle on a pattern, maybe Indian Feathers but with heavier yarn...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Easily pleased

That would be me.  I find it rather sad in a way that at 37 I am so excited to be able to finally ditch our motley collection of tupperware* that was given to us by my Pops in law when Mister Vonkysmeed and I set up housekeeping almost 10 years ago.  The lids had finally begun to crack from use so I decided we needed a nice new set.  Now mind you, I have wanted a new set for quite awhile now.

After doing a lot of research online I settled on the Premier line by Rubbermaid.  The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and the few complaints I found were for things like the swirly pattern on the containers (which I happen to like), and that the lids recess into the container when put on (I think I can learn how full to fill them after the first spill).  They are microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe, but best of all they are supposedly stain resistant.  I am also quite happy that they are BPA free, having recently retired our collection on Avent baby bottles I am aware of the dangers of this chemical.  If glass didn't break I'd probably just get glass containers instead of the plastic, but with two little ones around it just seems to be asking for trouble.

Now, just to clarify, our old containers did NOT go straight to a landfill.  First they will traverse through the garage for Mister Vonkysmeed to see if he can use any for storing various nuts, bolts, screws, etc.  After that they will go over to the local thrift shop to do service in another home.  Hopefully once they break they will be recycled to begin life anew, but it's kind of out of my hands by that point!

So far I am loving these new containers, they do everything they promised and look cute to boot.  Best of all my cabinet where they live is no longer a huge mess!  We don't have many yet, but what we do have are stacked up nice and neat.  I plan on getting more, but only as we need them so we can get the sizes that will work best for our needs. 

*I know that's the brand name not the product name, but like Kleenex gets used to describe all facial tissue, around my house tupperware has always been how we refer to food storage containers whether they were made by tupperware or not.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Cardigan is out of time out...and finished!

I originally blogged about my frustration with this Nantucket Red sweater a few weeks ago and have now finally finished it, yea!  I went up in needle size to a US 6 and am much happier with the result.  To be honest it totally sucked to have to rip out almost an entire sweaters worth of knitting but the results make the effort worth it.  It went much better the second time around.  The fabric being knit actually has some give to it so I was hoping it would fit, if anything I thought it would probably be a little loose at the end of the day! 

It seemed to be going both slower and faster than the first time around.  Slower because since I had already done it once I was having a hard time working up the excitement to get working on it, faster because I had already done it and knew what I needed to do next.  Another change I made in addition to the needle size was to add in some extra stitches to accommodate my bust when working on the fronts since I am not a huge fan of the pulled tight across the chest look.  That is how the sweater is designed, but looking through the finished projects it looks just as nice not pulled quite so tight.  Although I did this it is still pulled a bit tight across the front but seems to look pretty good anyway.

The collar went much smoother the second time around, I managed to do a better job of picking up the correct amount of stitches this time.  I did make a change here again, I decided I didn't like the short rows on the collar as the pattern calls for, it was looking funny to me so I pulled out the bind off and redid part of the collar for a third time.  The collar looks much better now, I am actually really happy with it.  I was very apprehensive with the sleeves as I was deathly afraid of them being too snug, so I decided to cast on a few extra stitches, 4 to be exact.  The sleeves ended up being very close fitting but not uncomfortably so by adding in the extra stitches, I can't imagine how they would have fit without those extra stitches!

Mostly I am just so happy to be done at this point with a finished cardigan as a whole that fits okay since I did not want to have to knit this thing a third time!  If it still wasn't fitting right I probably would have shoved the whole mess into my yarn stash boxed and worked on something else.  I had started knitting this when Lil' Miss began the spring session of her ballet class and in the modeled pictures I am wearing it at her recital at the end of the class, about 9 weeks total from start to finish.  That is one heck of a long knit for me, I hope my next planned cardigan, Lilas by Hilary Smith Calis, goes much smoother.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day today having barbeques, making ice cream, and watching fireworks.  I always get a little choked up every year thinking of how proud I am of the nation I was lucky enough to be born in.  Sure, we have a host of problems, but I am a patriot and love my country nonetheless.

I am reminded of a blog post I read a year ago regarding the Declaration of Independence (although for the life of me I can't remember who or where I read it), in it the author cited a tradition that has fallen to the wayside, a public reading of the Declaration of Independence that would occur at every celebration.  Try as I could, I cannot locate anything to verify this as truth.  Oh, I found a number of blog posts and articles on the internet that assert much the same thing, that it is an old tradition that should be revived, but I could not locate anything that cited any actual references.  Well, I have my own reference that I am sure will amuse the heck out of all you reading, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Lil' Miss and I have been working our way slowly through the series and in her book Little Town on the Prairie she talks about going into town to celebrate the 4th of July, the first celebration of it in the new town.  She specifically recalls a man reading aloud the Declaration as one of the big events of the day, so I can say pretty surely that in the late 1800's at least in South Dakota it was being read aloud.

With two fairly young kids I don't know how far I will get through the Declaration, but I will certainly try to read at least some of it to them.  It is the document which announced the beginnings of our country and thus is vitally important, they should be aware of it from an early age.  How about you?  Will you at least read the Declaration to yourself if not aloud?
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