Sunday, April 13, 2008

Catching up, again

It's been pointed out to me (by several people) that I haven't updated my blog in nearly a month. Who knew you guys actually*read* this. :)

So what's been going on? I took a break from sewing and too much typing because I was having carpal tunnel-type symptoms. The doctor and I are trying some things to fix that. Meanwhile, my wrists felt a little better after resting them, so I was able to get this Dear Jane block done:

It's K-8, Springbrook Park. The rows are lettered and the columns are numbered. The name is the one that Dear Jane author, Brenda Papadakis, gave it in the book. I'm now up to 58 blocks, 18 triangles, one corner and 1804 pieces. I have a couple more triangles and at least one more block that are very close to complete, but I've been slacking a bit.

Here's why: after years of telling myself and my knitting friends that I don't need another hobby, I decided to take a knitting class. It's all Sarah's fault. :) She sent me the url for the Yarn Harlot's blog back in January (see the archive for January 19, 2008) and I started reading the rest of her blog. It's *really* funny. At first I was substituting "fabric" for "wool" or "yarn" and "sewing" or "quilting" for "knitting" and everything was fine. Then I started borrowing Yarn Harlot books from the library (see recently read list), and the idea of knitting planted itself in my brain and started growing. Mrs. Craig taught me how to knit when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, but since that was decades ago, I decided a class was in order.

The sample above is the "finished" product of my learn to knit class. It's kind of hard to tell, but the bottom ~3" is done in garter stitch (knit all rows), followed by maybe 1" of stockinette (knit 1 row, purl one row). Then there's an inch of ribbing (k2, p2), another inch of stockinette, then a couple of rope-y cables and few more rows of stockinette. Who knew cables were that easy to do? I mean, if I can do them, anyone can. Very cool!

I bought some really nice silk and alpaca yarn intending to make a scarf out of it. This is *not* it:

That, my friends, is a skein of good old-fashioned Red Heart acrylic that I decided to use to make a ribbed scarf. The variegated colorway is helping me quite a bit because it's easy to tell if (when) I mess up. I figure once I get the hang of it, I can donate this scarf to somebody and move on to the good stuff. I'm already improving and no longer telling John that I suck at knitting. :)

And being the gadget girl that I am, I'm already stocking up on goodies. I bought a cheap set of acrylic needles, but I think I've already decided that I don't like them much. Maybe more pricey plastic/acrylic needles would be better. I'm wondering if I can wax them or something to reduce the drag. The needle you see above is my circa-1976 aluminum needle, which I don't mind, but this pair is a bit long. I also bought some bamboo needles (too big for this yarn), stitch markers, point protectors, a pair of cable holders and a cool stitch counter. Oh, and yarn. I now have 4 balls of cotton to make washcloths/dishcloths, 2 skeins of Homespun, 2 skeins of Wool-Ease that came in a kit, and several odds and ends that I picked up here and there. I'm thinking I might go get some more of the Homespun, while I can still get the dye lot. I'm sure there's a limit to how many hats and scarves I'm going to want to make, and the label says that I'd need 3 of them just to make a kids sweater (in size 8). I'm definitely bigger than that....

I think knitting is going to more difficult to "stash". With quilting, if you don't have enough of a certain fabric and you know early enough in the process, you can usually improvise by adding another, similar fabric in some of the blocks. This makes it look like you planned it that way. Knitting is a whole different animal. Dye lots apparently *do* matter and if you don't get enough, you're out of luck. Or making a striped sweater. And some of us don't need horizontal stripes. So when buying yarn, it seems like you have to have a pretty good idea what you want to do with it when you buy it.

Finally, the other cats were getting tired of Emma getting all the publicity, so here are Max and Runt in their favorite spot - on the back of the couch:

Max is almost 5 and is Emma's littermate. Runt is 11 months old and has lived up to her name. She's a good 3 pounds lighter than her littermate, Blue.

My mom and dad came up this afternoon and Runt hid behind the chair pretty much the whole time they were here. Naturally, about 10 minutes after they left, she came out to see what was going on. Max and Emma were very social. Emma really liked "Grandpa's" lap and Max wandered from lap to lap, looking for attention. Blue didn't do any lap time, but he was playful and let everyone pet him.

More later this week, I promise!

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