Tuesday, February 28, 2006

And the winner is...

So, here's the final picture of the poncho. My Olympic feat. Sorry, Vicki, but this is the only pic you get until I get back from Puerto Rico and wrap it. This isn't something I can just send home with our courier.

And for this,

I earned this.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tonight, we fringe.

I'm almost done. As long as I don't break an arm or acquire a life-threatening virus between now and Sunday, I will complete this Olympic challenge. That's right, kiddies ... I cast off the poncho last night and tonight I start the fringe! I wish Vicki were home instead of on vacation so she could watch this project come to an end. Had I not suffered that bout of knitter's fatigue last week, she might have been able to take it on her cruise.

A victory pic will be featured here when we are fully complete, but for now, spectators should be content with this:

Once the fringing is done, I will be free to chase other pursuits -- like finishing a pair of socks (I just haven't been able to dedicate the time it takes to turn a heel on a toe-up pattern) and spinning up the remainder of the superwash roving I got a few weeks ago from my local yarn store.

Speaking of my yarn store, can I just tell you how WONDERFUL they are there? The owner and I had a deep philosophical discussion yesterday about spinning wheels. Well, I admit that I'm not sure if it was deep OR philosophical, but it was nice to know that I didn't walk out with a spinning wheel. I had my eyes on a Babe Pinkie, but wanted more info -- not to mention feedback on when and where I might actually TRY a wheel before buying one. Can I tell you that she offered two options -- 1) She's going to be working on setting up a class for those of us who are hand spindlers and ready to move to a wheel without having to learn how to card and comb a fleece OR 2) She volunteered to set up a floor model one day and get it moving so I could sit down and play. Is that good customer service or what? Had she simply been a pusher, I probably would have walked out with an Ashford Traveler under my arm. Now there's good salesmanship -- I was ripe for the picking and she recognized that it would be a disaster to my spinning career if I got home with a wheel, tried it wrong and hated it and ended up leaving it in a corner to dry out and get dusty. Not to mention an unsuitable fate for a work of art.

After the Olympics, I'll post some of my newly spun yarn. I'm getting better.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Round and Round I Go

I've been fast at work on Vicki's poncho since my last post ... going around and around ... straight knitting with four yarnovers in every other row. Progress is being made ... and believe it or not, I only have about three more inches to go.

That's good news, considering the fact that I only have about four more days left before the Torino games are over.

And now a little Olympic commentary. Can I just tell you that I just love Chad Hedrick and Shaun White? I don't know why, particularly, I just do. And they medaled for us, which makes it all the better. And Kimmie Meissner's short program yesterday was just too much fun to watch. So enthusiastic -- and that triple-triple combo was to die for. Of course, she hails from a town about 30 minutes from me. Gotta root for the home-town girl.

Keep those medals coming, Team USA!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Olympic Update

As of yesterday, the US was ahead for gold medals in Torino. And here's where I was on the poncho:

I have about 14-15 inches done, so I suppose I'm about halfway to where I need to be. Not bad for being less than a week into the project. But I'm definitely going to have to go out at lunch and get some longer needles ... the reason it looks so "skinny" is because everything is squeezed on the circular.

In non-Olympic news, I'm nearly done the first crazy stripe sock. Not sure I'm going to cast on right away for the next one. I don't know if its the color or the pattern I chose, but I'm just not digging it this week. For some reason, I'm having flashbacks of my "Great Shape Barbie" and her legwarmers (incidentally, the same color combination). I wasn't a big fan of the 80s.

Also, I got some more alpaca spun this weekend. I continue to stand behind my assertion that this stuff is heaven on a spindle!

Friday, February 10, 2006

And we're off!

The games have begun. For me, and for my fellow FOUR THOUSAND KNITTERS around the globe. I came home tonight eager to cast on to get started on my poncho, and have been knitting furiously all night. I made the decision to stop once the United States was announced in the Parade of Nations. So I did. And here’s where I am so far. Right now, the poncho looks rather like something from the lingerie section. Vicki, don’t panic. I'm not knitting your cruise bikini.

I also appear to be making massive progress here in this first pic … but rest assured this will slow once it grows in width.

So far, I’m feeling good about this year’s Olympics. And so is my son … who was totally inspired by the pre-ceremony recaps of training runs for the alpine downhill (along with his fabulous imagination!)

And so I depart this evening … Citius, Alitius Fortius.

Here they come!

Well, the Knitting Olympics begin in a little more than 13 hours. My yarn is balled, the needles are ready, and at 8:00 p.m. tonight, I'll get started on my Harlot Poncho. That's good news for Vicki, for sure ... and also good news for my aunt, who I'm starting to scare with my spinning, LOL.

Expect regular progress pictures ... with some occasional sock progress tossed in for sanity and good measure (plus, the sock is way more portable than a poncho and they just live in my purse waiting for an opportune moment).

Not quite sure how I'm going to concentrate today. At least this challenge is starting on a Friday night ...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More spinning...

OK, so now I'm a beginning spinner. But my first yarn was overspun and (I think) unusable. So I set out at lunchtime today for some expert advice. I head over to my local yarn shop. The owner was a TREMENDOUS help and promised to stop by the blog and look at my first try.

While I was there I picked up an Asford top-whirl spindle (for some reason, all the beginner demos use those, rather than a low-whirl like the one I already have) and some new roving. Chris recommended ALPACA (I'm feeling very luxurious tonight) and it damn near killed me to get through the rest of the day. I couldn't wait to get home to give it all a try.

So, after my children were legitimately impressed by the fact that mommy was spinning "llama hair" into yarn, I got to it. And I'm much happier with the results.

I'm honestly not sure whether it's the practice, or the fact that I think I have the process a little more under control, or that alpaca is extremely loose and airy compared to the wool, but I think this is more uniform and less overly twisty. I might actually make something out of this...

Just how much yarn will 3 oz of alpaca give you, I wonder ...

Oh, and before anyone thinks that the socks were abandoned, here they are completed:

The spindle is posing next to it because that alpaca is just so very photogenic. I actually finished the socks on Monday ... and then cast on another pair to squeeze in before the Olympics. Already turned the heel on #1.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

And the first skein... voila!

I'm hoping that Annie May will stop by and comment on my first attempt at spinning.

Last night, instead of spinning tons of roving only to set the twist and find out that I did it all wrong and made a great big mess, I decided to do a small bit. And here it is:

It's messy. It's bumpy and lumpy. But it isn't a bad first try. I tried a little more today, so I'll keep at it until I have something thin enough to ply and actually use ;)

Saturday, February 04, 2006


OK, it's official. I'm out of hand.

I went on eBay this week and ordered a drop spindle and some roving to give spinning a try. It arrived today. The roving is absolutely gorgeous -- soft and fluffy like a cloud and a fine hunter green that this picture just doesn't do justice to.

So ... after a short time of reading the how-tos and whatnots (and trying to figure out why my new yarn wasn't automatically winding on the spindle -- duh, that part's manual), I had managed to make this:

It's lumpy and bumpy ... and really, really thin in places, but it's handmade. And it's my very own homespun! A special thanks to Annie May for this wonderful new toy -- and to Wendy's helpful advice in response to my questions about hand spinning.

And now for the really funny part -- when my husband asked what I was doing and I told him (and pointed out that I imagine this would be much easier with a wheel), he pointed out that a spinning wheel could go in our basement. To top things off, our friend Larry (if you read past entries, he's an "appreciator") pointed out the same thing. They're both genuinely impressed, methinks ... and while I think it's great, it could be some very subtle attempt at mind control (if they agree I should get a wheel than I'll follow reverse psychology and NOT get one). I'm not buying it. But they are definitely getting way ahead of my own obsessions.

Spinning is fun ... but getting hooked on it before the Fruit Stripe socks are done and before the Olympics could very well lose me points in the competition.

Random Entry

The countdown to the Knitting Olympics has officially begun for me. They are now six days away (counting down in days seems to be less pressuring for me ... I think if I were to do hours and minutes, I'd go crazy ... you see, I'm trying to get a pair of socks done before I cast on for Vicki's poncho). And I'm making progress and don't want to jinx it.

That's right -- one Fruit Stripe sock down, one started and moving. This year, I am determined not to suffer from SSS -- second sock syndrome. In fact, I cast off yesterday morning before work and immediately began the provisional cast on for the second. There was NO DELAY. If I continue with the same progress as the first, I should have no problem getting it finished and proudly wearing them on Friday during the Opening Ceremonies.

Now, speaking of socks and the Olympics, I have to say that I'm absolutely in love with knitting socks right now (and with Opal sock yarn). I don't want to stop. Which means I'm in a bind ... because I think I want to follow the Yarn Harlot and keep a pair on the needles at all times. They are fun to knit, easy to knit, and very practical (I mean, who DOESN'T need new fun socks all the time??) Everyone who sees me putting one together is intrigued ... and I'm getting more than one look of longing from passersby. There are plenty of feet in my life to cover up. So I'll keep a pair on the sticks through the Olympics. I find them both soothing and extremely portable.

Now for something fun: a word cloud!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The "Fruit Stripe Gum" Socks

I've been derelict about posting pictures about these socks, maybe because they are going very well and I don't want to jinx them. I'm nearly done the first one.

A little background. I was browsing the yarn on eBay one day and this caught my eye from a seller in the Netherlands. Apparently, it's a test dye lot, but it's oh so pretty, as you can see.

It came in the mail about two weeks ago and I admired it for a solid week from afar before balling it up. I cast on this past Saturday, but recast the next day when I realized it was WAY too big. I downsized on Sunday morning and got with it.

Now for some reason, I've been taking this sock back and forth in my purse to work every day. I don't quite know why I've been doing this, because I really don't have time to knit at work. But on Monday, a few girls and I went out for lunch and I pulled out my sock and got a few rows done while waiting for my food. One of the girls pointed out that the colors reminded her of Fruit Stripe gum ... and I think she's right. They really are quite a bit of fun.

And I love the wool ... I think Opal is my new sock yarn of choice. It knits up quickly and it's easy on the hands. I've already made it up to start the cuff.

And now it's time to start my day. I sense that I just might finish this one tonight and start her match...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

And a word from our sponsor ... the sock recipent himself

My socks turned out FANTASTIC! I am wearing them right now, on February 1#,2006, the day before February2#,2006, groundhogday.right now mommy"s really happy. I LOVE"Em,you know, the socks she made for me.

Blue Sox, Blocked Sox, Finished Socks

So, I sewed up the socks and fixed their inappropriate holiness and then had Son #1 try them on. And he couldn't get the cuff over his heel. Being the good sport that he was, he complimented me for making them and, being the boy that he is, promptly forgot about them.

So this morning, I decided to put them on a form of sorts -- two kitchen glasses (I didn't take a picture, sorry). And now they are a bit stretched out, but he can fit them over his heels. I think he's happy with them (see guest blog above). And I think they're kinda cute!

But they certainly are stretched. I wonder if they'll shrink back if I wash them again?

I suppose I am happy with them too, given that they were my first attempts at toe-up socks, and my first experience with Sockotta yarn. I can't say I'm thrilled with it ... while I'm sure it's very durable, it's awfully thin and nylon-ey. Oh well. I've moved on to Opal yarn, which I'm LOVING. I figure I can pound out a pair of socks before the Knitting Olympics begin.

I have to find a way to get my local yarn store to carry Opal. I want a ball of the Rainforest "Zebra" pattern ... but it seems there are no YS in MD that carry it. I'm now on a mission.