Monday, May 29, 2006

Felting batch

Happy Memorial Day. How sad to hear of the deaths of the CBS news guys on this day for remembering fallens soldiers. As a journalist, it shocks me that between 94 and 120 journalists and media support staff -- including drivers and translators -- have been killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003.

Like most Americans, I spent this weekend kicking off summer, with barbecues and picnics. Since our new decks are not yet finished, we joined some fellow condo owners in our parking lot to barbecue on Friday night. Yesterday my husband and I took the train to the 'burbs for a cookout with my sister's family.

While there, I used her top-loading washing to do a batch of felting, which you can see drying on my bedroom window ledge. I felted a pair of purple mittens, one of my signature pink purses and my first sample for the fortune cooking project. The mittens turned out great (Galway wool felts so well). The purse felted well, too, but I wasn't happy with the magnetic clasp I put in. I thought it would felt in more, plus it's just too magnetic (it says a strength rating of 8 out of 10 on the package), so it's hard to pull it apart. I think I'm going to remove it. I don't know if they come in less-strong versions. Does anyone have any experience using these magnetic clasps on felted purses?

The fortune cookie ended up bigger than I expected. It's about 6 inches in diameter, and I was thinking it would be more like life-sized. I used the large-size pattern. I think I'll try the small one.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Baby blues

While in France, I worked on this baby sweater for a co-worker. This nice top-down pattern was offered free on the website of my LYS but is no longer online. I've knit it twice for other baby gifts, but out of cheap-o acrylic yarn. (There are two schools of thought on this: #1 Babies are messy; knit with washable yarn and #2 If you're going to hand-knit something, use good yarn!) As I don't have kids yet, it's hard for me to say if the #1-ers (including my mom) are wrong, though I guess I would tend toward #2. What do you think?

This time I'm knitting this sweater out of Patons Katrina, a stretchy rayon/polyester blend that is knitting up rather nicely and will be nice for this summer baby. The light blue color ("Dawn") is perfect for a baby boy. It's a bit expensive but I bought a bunch when JoAnn Fabrics was moving, so I think I paid less than $5 a skein. I'm knitting on #5 metal needles and have already made a boo-boo. I put a buttonhole in early, but I think I can sew that together when I finish it. That's what makes nit homemade, right?

While knitting this in France, I had a mini-breakdown because I started thinking about how many baby sweaters I have already knit for other people--and god knows how many more I will knit--before we get our daughter, whom we're adopting from China. The wait for adopting from China has at least doubled, if not tripled, and our agency has told us to expect to wait 18 months from when we got our paperwork in (which was late February). So we're looking at next fall. After a year of infertility treatments, this is really hard to take. And I'm not getting any younger! Next week is my 42nd birthday, and I really hoped to have my first child by 42. Plus, if one more friend/relative/stranger tells me they're pregnant (especially without noting that it might be hard for me to hear), I might just lock myself in my bedroom and do nothing but knit and watch decorating shows for the next 18 months!

Luckily I have a very understanding and compassionate husband, although he's definitely grieving all this, too. He suggested I stop knitting baby sweaters, and I did take a break. But I really want to finish this one for my coworker, who's due in August and leaving next month. But maybe I do need to knit a few things for our daughter now (her name is Sophie). I'm also in the very beginning stages of organizing a charity knitting project for babies in orphanages in China to help me focus on something else during the wait. I talked to my agency about it yesterday and will be doing some more research in the next weeks. So look for that soon!

(Looks like Katrina has been discontinued. Can't find it on the Patons website. Good thing I have about five skeins in a nice sage green. I'm going to make a sweater for Sophie, though I need a different pattern for 12-18 months.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Spiritual knitter on books

If you haven't already visited my book blog, Spiritual Bookworm, you might want to check out yesterday's entry, which has a knitting connection. Many knitters know Molly Wolf as co-editor of the KnitLit series. I reviewed one of her other books for a spirituality website and post the link here.

Those interested in things spiritual and religious also might be interested in my co-worker's blog: Catholic to the Left, which is quite frankly one of the best Catholic blogs out there. It's full of breaking news, well thought-out opinions, occasional outrage and even a sense of humor.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tricot en France

That's me: knitting on the train in Provence in the south of France. My husband and I just got back from a 10-day vacation there, which explains why the blog has been kind of quiet lately. We spent two days in Paris, two days at a monastery at Taize in the Burgandy region, and then four days in Provence. It was a great trip all around, although I didn't do as much knitting (tricot, in French) as I expected.

I don't know about you but I always overpack yarn. For this 10-day trip, I brought four projects: a baby sweater I had just started (2 skeins), a mitten I had also started (2 more skeins), 2 skeins for a second set of mittens, and a skein for a scarf. That's 7 skeins for those of you keeping track.

Even though I had tons of free time on my hands, I only used one skein: about a half skein on the baby sweater, and another half skein on the first set of mittens. So that's 6 skeins of yarn I brought but didn't need. Luckily, they were light and didn't take up much room in our suitcases (which, btw, didn't make the transfer in London so I'm hoping they will be delivered tonight by American Airlines).

Spiritual lesson: Pack light, whereever you go.

My mom said to buy French angora there, but I didn't do any yarn shopping. I was too busy climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, lying on the Mediterranean beach, and drinking wine in cafes. I also did lots of reading (check out my book blog soon for updates and reviews on the books I read while on vacation). But mostly I just relaxed, reconnected with my husband, and enjoyed soaking in another culture. C'est bon!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spring green

In honor of Project Spectrum, I decided to record all the green I saw on my walk home from the train. Happy Spring!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

O say can you see

It never ceases to amaze me what can be knit. Here's a pattern from Mind's Eye Yarns for an American flag. I prefer to "support our troops" by protesting to bring them home, but in case I need a 4th of July decoration, this could come in handy. I'm sure someone has designed a yellow ribbon pattern out there somewhere.

For a future Flyer

Too cute. Free pattern by Sunflowerfairy is on Craftster here.

Just bead it

This is my first felted purse, which I decided to jazz up a bit, even though I carried it all winter the way it was. The accent yarn didn't really show very well (as you can see in this photo from "My first felt.") So yesterday I hand sewed on a these pretty purple beads, while watching Judgment at Nuremberg on AMC. It's a three-hour movie, folks, and it took me that long to sew on a whole package of Bead Heaven Amethyst Glass Spacer Beads. I really like how it turned out, but now I think I'd like to line it, both to hide the threads from the beading but also to add some more color and pattern.

Spiritual lesson: It's never too late to go back and fix something.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mistake handled (get it?)

The knitting lesson for this week is: the nice thing about felting is that you can refelt. To recap for those who are just joining us, I knit two really cool felted purses, which I felted over Easter at my mom's. Once home, I realized I had attached the handles incorrectly--going across the purse rather than along the same side. Drat!

To fix them, I cut the handles near the middle (where they would be resting on your shoulder), then stitched them to the other half from the correct side (are you following me?) and refelted that little section by hand in my sink, using boiling water and two wooden spoons to "agitate." It's not perfect, as you can see from the closeup, but it does the trick and salvages the purse. Otherwise you really couldn't carry them.

The spiritual lesson from this project: Life doesn't always turn out the way you thought it would, but there's usually some way to make things work if you're willing take the risk.

It's easy being green

Turns out that I have a lot of green yarn. I pulled all my green from my stash in honor of Project Spectrum. Seems like I tend toward sage-y greens, in part because it's a hot decorating color (Our study/future nursery is Benjamin Moore's "Weekend Getaway"), but also because I like a sage-y, minty green for unisex baby things.

I also realized how many green things I've already knit in my short knitting career. There were my sister's forest green felted mittens, my sister-in-law's chunky army green scarf and hat, a supersoft army green blanket for my friend Michelle's little boy Alex, and a sage green blanket for my friend Kassie's baby Maeve.

I think for Project Spectrum I'm supposed to knit something green this month. In addition to finishing the teddy bear, I plan to do some do some mittens with some acquired and leftover Wool-ease that I can give to charity next Christmas. I'll be sure one pair is green.

My Project Spectrum partner for this month, Rae at Tales of a Knitter's Life has some cool green stuff on her blog, too. Check it out!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Project Spectrum

Well, this is my first month of belonging to "Project Spectrum," a group started by Lolly Girl to inspire knitters with color. May's color is green, so we're all supposed to knit something green, post cool green photos on our blog and send green postcards to our matched blogger. Mine is Rae at Tales of a Knitter's Life. Hi, Rae! At my conference last week I learned how to post a button, so I'm going to try that tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'll be on the lookout for all things green!

Free vintage patterns

A member of the Patterns of the Past Yahoo group pointed me to the A Good Yarn site, which has a whole bunch of free vintage patterns. They also sell lots of cool yarn. My mom swears by vintage patterns, especially of baby sweaters. Perhaps I'll try some of these out and let you know how they go.