Sunday, April 30, 2006

New blogs

Well, I've been a very busy blogger today. I've launched two--yes, two!--new blogs.

First, there's Spiritual Bookworm, which features mini-reviews of books I've read, links to books I'm currently reading and, coming soon, a list of books I want to read. There will be knitting books, to be sure, but also plenty of spiritual non-fiction and good novels.

Second, is Spiritual Decorator. What's so spiritual about decorating, you ask? As the subtitle says, "Because beauty can be divine." Decorating has long been a hobby, and some friends and family who have sought my amateur advice have suggested that it might someday be something I could do for a living. I think I'll stick to keeping it a hobby for now. Visit to check out the new pendant lights that are being installed in my kitchen as I type.

Be sure to put the whole family of "Spiritual" blogs on your bloglines! (How's that for branding?)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

(Un)felted fortune cookie

Ta-da! I finished the first of what I hope to be many Felted Fortune Cookies (the above is pre-felting). You've never heard of knitting a fortune cookie? Well, expand your horizons: Knitting blogger IndigoMuse has created this awesome pattern, which is basically a circle, knit in continuous pie-shaped wedges, which you then felt and fold like a fortune cookie. Brilliant!

Although she recommended 11-12 wedges, I did 18 here for the large size. I used Lion Brand Wool in Winter White just as a sample. I didn't slip the stitches on the outside edge, as she suggested, so we'll see how that looks post-felting.

For those of you who know my husband and I are adopting a child from China, you might be able to guess that I have this grand idea to make a bunch of these to use in some way when she arrives. But this did take longer than I thought it would (maybe I should have stuck to 11-12 wedges). May need to call on Grandma for help if I expect to do a bunch.

Half a teddy bear

You're not going to believe this: I ran out of yarn again. I had to buy a whole skein of this Lions Brand Watercolors (a really pretty boucle) to finish off the booties to match the cute baby sweater and hat I made (see "So close..." below). So I decide to use the leftover yarn to make a matching teddy bear, using this Blue's Big Hug Bear pattern from Knittering. But I did one half and was just finishing the head on the second half . . . when I ran out of yarn again.

I know there's a lesson here: about planning ahead, or maybe about being OK with not always knowing what you need but trusting that you will always be able to get it. The universe (or Joann's Craft Store) will provide!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stitch 'n' Miss

On the way to a job fair at Northwestern University (I'm hiring, not hunting), I saw a sign in the windoe of my LYS (Local Yarn Shop) advertising Debbie Stoller making an appearance on Sunday April 23 at 4 p.m. Stoller is the author of the famous Stitch 'n' Bitch and Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation books. Her latest is Stitch 'n' Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. Unfortunately I'll miss this, as I'm heading off to Florida for a combo work/write/rest week.

Yarn shopping

I went yarn shopping over Easter. The store was my mom's sewing room and the cost was $0. This (above) is four skeins of Berroco Lavish (wool, nylon, acrylic and polyester) and a skein and a half of Berroco Quest (100 % nylon). Both are really pretty metallics. They'd be pretty scarves, but also might look cool mixed with something else. Not sure what they'll be yet.

My mom gave me two patterns for socks (my goal is to learn how to knit socks this summer). This is some stretchy sock yarn in bright colors in sport weight.

This is a bunch of Bucilla "Spice-Sport" (but looks more like worsted weight) sock yarn that my mom had acquired from my grandmother, who didn't knit much but liked to shop for yarn! I'm thinking three pair of small women's socks. I'm not sure what I'll do with the one skein of pumkin-ish one, but I like that color. (It's the color of my bathroom.) This yarn is 77% acrylic, 6% wool and 7% acrylic.

This is the prettiest cottony yarn in a bright royal blue with flecks of pink, turquoise, orange and green. It's called "Poesia" by Filatura di Crosa, Color #123. It's a viscosa/cotton/polyester blend. I think it might make a nice shawl (need a pattern) for Ed's mother. She looks good in bright colors.

I also acquired eight skeins of Bernat Sesame in "Dapper Green" (a sagey green). It's definitely vintage! Looks like my grandma paid 90 cents a skein on clearance. I had hoped it would be enough for the Einstein coat from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch. My mom wound and measured a skein and it was 118 yards x 8 skeins = 944 yards. The sweater in small calls for 1100 yards, but I'd need to do some shortening. Should I risk it?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Help! Big boo-boo

This is felted purse #2, made with Patons Classic Merino Wool in Deep Olive. This yarn felted totally differently than the Cascade. Even though I used the same pattern as the pink purse below and felted it for the same amount of time, it ended up 16 inches wide by 11 inches tall. The three accent yarns turned out pretty cool, in three wide bands across the purse. The bottom one is more burgandy than it appears in the photo.

While photographing this, I realized a major mistake: I attached the handles wrong, going across the purse, rather than to the side. I'm not sure how to fix this. Could I cut them at the top and reattach to the right one? Could it be refelted? My husband suggests a button at the top. Not a bad idea. Another option would be to remove the handles altogether and somehow attach a different handle. This is a major bummer, as these both turned out so well. You live, you learn. Hopefully I won't make this mistake again.

Felting before and after

The miracle of felting can be seen in these before-and-after shots. This was knit on Size 11 bamboo needles with fuscia Cascade, I believe. The accent yarn is Lion Brand Fancy Fur in "Flaming Fuscia" with the black fur. I made the smallest tote of the Fabulous Felt Totes from Fiber Trends and put it through three cycles in my mom's washer. It turned out about 10 inches wide by 12 inches tall.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Teddy bear patterns

Here's one that looks simple.
This one has no photo and looks kind of complicated.
Another simple one.
This one has a scarf.
This is a more 3d kind of bear.
So is this one.
These are mini ones.
This guy is pretty cute.
This poor guy has no face!

A very knitty Easter

I just returned home from Easter at my parents' in Wisconsin with two finished felted purses(Thanks for the use of your washing machine, Mom!), lots of yarn that Mom unloaded on me, and three sock patterns. I didn't get much knitting done, but Mom and I did do lots of catching up about our projects. I also helped her launch her own knitting blog. Since she used to teach desktop publishing, I'm sure her's will soon out-shine mine. Thanks, Mom, for all the goodies. They will keep me busy. I'll post pictures of the purses and some new projects tomorrow.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

So close...

See those needles, the ones with 9/10ths of a bootie on them? I need literally only a few yards of yarn to finish this whole set. So after I buy another ball, I'll have enough for something else. Maybe a matching teddy bear. I've been seeing so many cute knitted toys on knitting blogs. (Aside: I'm almost sure those Size 8 needles are Bakelite, given to me by my mom. They're actually not that easy to knit with, despite making me feel very retro while using them.)

The yarn is Lion Brand Watercolors in Aqua. It's a wool-blend boucle that does sort of resemble a Monet painting. I bought a few skeins at the Joann clearance sale, then bought a few more at full price to do this "One-Stitch Baby Sweater" from a free patttern on the Lion Brand site. I especially like the pocket detail. This is my first set-in sleeve sweater, and initially I sewed them on way too tight. Then it sat for a month, but one enterprising evening I decided to undo those sleeves and sew them on more loosely. In the meantime I also made a matching hat and started the booties, also from a free Lions pattern.

Despite this being "craft store" yarn, it's really pretty, and I intially thought I was making this sweater for my daughter, whom my husband and I are adopting from China (expected arrival date: next January or February, roughly). But I quickly realized the sweater was more of a six-month size, and our Sophie will be closer to a year when we get her. As I was knitting the hat and booties, I decided it would be for a friend who is expecting. I may knit Sophie a pink one in a larger size.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mitten accomplished!

I finished one of the felted mittens out of the pretty purple (Color #13)Galway yarn. Just had to post 'cause I was cracking myself up with the pun title. This mitten took about 2/3 a skein, so I will need two to do the pair. (I buy Galway on ebay usually for about $5 a skein.)

Last night I fixed the Lions Watercolors sweater, my first sweater with set-in sleeves. My first attempt at attaching them was less-than-perfect; they were too tight and it showed. So last night I took them out, resewed them on, and put on the perfectly matching buttons. I've already finished a matching hat and am now trying some booties. Will post pix when the set is done.

I tried my mom's cold remedy last night: drank a shot of whiskey in hot water with lemon and honey, then rubbbed Vicks Vapo-rub on my feet and put on wool socks and went to bed. I do feel a little better today, though still haven't gotten my voice back. I may have to try it again tonight.

Monday, April 03, 2006

My lucky (Doris) Day!

I'm home sick today with a nasty cold but lucked out with a Doris Day marathon on Turner Classic Movies. Right now I'm watching "Tunnel of Love," which is, coincidentally, about infertility and adoption, but in 1958. I don't know why I'm such a DD fan. I guess I just love everything retro, even if it is so obnoxiously anti-feminist. Trivia: Her real name was Doris Kappelhoff. More trivia: My paternal grandmother's first name is Doris, and it's my sister's middle name.

While confined to my bed, I've made progress on the Purple Galway felted mitten I started in South Bend. May even start #2 today. That's the thing with mittens: Just when you think you're done, you have to knit another one.

Next up: "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," which I've seen about a half dozen times. Maybe I'll take a nap after some chicken soup.

Cough, cough.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Free felting patterns

What a lazy day. I've been surfing knitting blogs all night while my husband watches the Final Four. I should be writing my essay about the White Privilege Conference for the National Catholic Reporter. There's always tomorrow...

Here's some free felting patterns: a hat, slippers, Christmas stocking. I think I might try some coasters. Would make a nice gift.

Have felting projects, will travel

When my husband and I moved into our condo in Chicago's Lincoln Square, it was the first time I'd lived in a place with my own washer and dryer. I was so psyched. No more schleping downstairs at midnight to get my undies out the dryer. Tucked into a closet off our kitchen is a lovely GE washer/dryer combo, an upgraded model with a front-loading washer on the bottom. Unfortunately once I started felting I realized what a liability that is. So now I have to save up my felting projects for whenever I visit my parents, sister or anyone else with a top-loading washer!

I'm planning to head to my parents' for Easter so I'll get to do some felting there. I have two purses (see sample swatches above): one out of fuscia Galway with some Lion's Fancy Fur in black and fuscia worked in; the other I'm trying this Paton's Classic Wool Merino in "Deep Olive" (3 skeins) and worked in three different accent yarns, two that I ordered on ebay from Turkey (a burgandy loopy yarn and a tri-color gold, green, burgandy flecky kind) and then some olive Patons Allure. We'll see how those all felt out. But not for two weeks.