Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Thrill of Victory...The Agony of Defeat

Memorial Day Weekend....something adventurous always happens. Last year my youngest daughter ran her hand through the glass of the front door while packing to go on our camping trip. So I breathed a sigh of relief as we got ready to go and headed to O'Bannon Woods State Park with little ado.

We brought along an extra teen for my son to hang out with and we put them in their own tent. They got privacy and theri own adventure while we got more space in the camper and less pestering of the sisters! This turned out to be a great plan for everyone!

We even bought a new bean bag game as well as new sleeping bags for my daughters. We were living the high life!

We canoed on Saturday on the Blue River. The river was shallow so we drug bottom a lot. Until we got to a deeper place where the boys found a tree complete with swinging rope and little blocks of wood nailed in as foot holds. It was really a piece of pure happiness for them, climbing a little higher each time and jumping farther while more and more young men (and a few young women) joined in the fun.

I even got a little knitting done!

We spent Sunday at Holiday World, one of the cleanest, tree-filled amusement parks I've ever visited. We all agreed that the new Voyage roller coaster might be the best one we've ever ridden on! We returned to the campground tired but happy.

If only Monday hadn't ended like this:

"Eldon" of Charlie's Towing Service was as nice as can be expected while taking away our only source of transportation and leaving us at a state park with 4 kids, most of the food gone, and all of the weekend campers heading home. The park got really quiet. We discovered that there is a whole culture of people who stay late to drive around and see what they can glean from the empty campsites. Being of a mind to explore and with not much else to do for several hours, I found an abaondoned wrench at a campsite. Most everyone else was picking up firewood.

My father-in-law came to the rescue as night was falling, and we learned that 7 people can ride fairly happily for 4 hours in a Crew Cab and that after being stranded away from home this seems like a good thing. We got home between 1-2am and were REALLY glad to be home.

(Big thanks to Jamisyn for watching River Knits that day so I could join my kids in a much needed day off!)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Turning to the Dark Side.....part 2

Or, My Own Method for Preventing Alzheimers
As if loving socks on two circs wasn't enough.....I've taken another step to the dark side of fiber arts.

Yes, that's crochet. Crochet! What is the world coming to? (See how confused the cats are? Almost as confused as my children were when they saw me doing it.)

I said on the Gaea Creations blog a couple of days ago that I was in a slump. After finishing so many knitted projects over the last few weeks, nothing interested me. So, I came to the conclusion that I needed to try something completely different.

Other than the occasional provisional cast on or the cuffs for the Granddaughter Socks, I haven't picked up a crochet hook in years. I certainly haven't worked on any 100% crochet projects since I learned how to knit. And I am. This is one evening's worth of work. It's going really fast. It already measures 22" across.

This is the Lacy Leaf Cocoon designed by Annie Modesitt for the Spring 2006 Interweave Crochet magazine. Here's a closer look at the center:

A year ago, I was gushing over this garment. It's so pretty. But I was very disappointed that it only went up to a 38" bust circumference. Come on, Annie, you aren't a small lady either! You should know that us Big Girls like these types of jackets too! But, I digress. The point is, I decided yesterday that I needed to have this jacket. I'm a smart girl (if I do say so myself), so I think I can figure out how to make it bigger. And I'm considering leaving out the sleeves, sort of like the Cha Cha vest from Berroco. We'll see. If I get to that point and decide to add sleeves, then that's what I'll do. Or maybe I'll leave the sleeves off for now, and add them this fall. That's an idea.

At any rate, I'm having great fun working on this garment. The yarn, by the way, is Plymouth Shire Silk. Very nice. I wasn't sure I would like the tweediness with this pattern, but it works somehow. It's not as crisp and smooth as the original garment (which called for Cascade Pima Tencel), but it has a certain charm to it. A little more rustic, but the silk is wonderful.

Another project that has jumped out at me is the Larger Than Life bag from the current issue of Interweave Crochet. It didn't really jump out at me at first, but then I saw Jamisyn's version and revisited the one in the magazine. I think it might be next on my list. The only part I'm dreading is the sewn fabric liner. But, Maybe I can get my mom to do that. She used to be an amazing seamstress.

So, this is my turn to the dark side of fiber arts. But even Darth Vader turned back to the light in Return of the Jedi. So, I think there's hope for me too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Preventing Alzheimers

I was just telling Amanda how Dr. Andrew Weil says in his book Healthy Aging that you should learn new things to keep your mind agile to prevent Alzheimers. He says it's not enough to just do the same old thing every day (Doing crossoword puzzles or seeing if you can beat the contestants on Jeopardy for example). Dr. Weil says you need to do the equivalent of changing your computer's operating system. Just when you are comfortable and are in a routine and know how to do things, you should shake things up and make it all different so you have to learn something new and create new pathways in your brain.

So this is what I decided to do:

I signed up for Amanda's Granddaughter Socks class (yes at River Knits!)

This is how it looks so far!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Turning to the Dark Side

Last night, I finished these socks:

The yarn is Lana Grosa Meilenweit Cotton Stretch. The pattern is my own design (coming soon to River Knits!) Last week, I posted on the Gaea Creations blog about some of my design process for these socks. I love them. I love how they fit. I love the yarn. I just wish it were a little cooler out so I could wear them. Even cotton socks are too hot when it's almost 90 outside.

But, let's talk about these socks for a moment. Those who know me know that I went through a long period of sock resistance. As much as I loved wearing handknit socks, I didn't like knitting them. At all. Then I discovered the wonderful Crystal Palace bamboo double pointed needles. My knitting life changed. I suddenly enjoyed knitting socks. I swore by those needles for a long time. Still do. But....and I hate to admit this...I've found another technique I think like just as much.

Knitting socks on two circs. (Shhhh! Someone might hear you!)

I resisted it for a long time. Then I tried it a few years ago and hated it. I mean really really hated it. When I started the socks in the picture above, I knew I had to give two circs another try. The heavy patterning just called for fewer needle changes. So, I pulled out two sets of size 1 Susan Bates circulars and went to town. Or tried to go to town. It was more like limping and tripping to town. I found myself fighting with the needles. They didn't want to allow the stitches to move freely from the cable to the needle tip.

When I mentioned my dilemma to Elizabeth and Michelle, they both told me I needed to try Addi Turbos. I had my doubts that it would make that much of a difference, but I was willing to try. Off to RK to buy two sets of 24" size 1 Addis. After some deliberation, I decided to get the Turbos, as opposed to the new lace needles. The turbos have a slicker surface, and I felt that would be more appropriate for the yarn I was using.

When I got back home, I swapped out the Susan Bates needles for the Addi Turbos. Within one row, I could tell a difference. And it wasn't a small difference. It was like doing an entirely different craft. Like going from welding to flower arranging. Here's why:

Can you see the difference in the join? It's sort of difficult to see well because the cable on the Susan Bates is clear. But, if you look closely, you can see that the Addi join (left) is smooth and almost imperceptible when you are knitting. The Susan Bates join (right), on the other hand, is like trying to move the stitches over a mountain of metal. I don't think I'll be using these needles again.

Now, with the Addi Turbos in place, I was going to town. The socks flew by. Before I knew it, the first sock was done! Within a few days, the second sock was done. Amazing!

I'm not going to say I'm a convert. I will still use the wonderful Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs for simple socks--the ones that don't have a lot of stitch patterns. But, I must say that I could fall in love with knitting socks on two circs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Basket o' Scarves

I'm making some pretty good progress on my Basket o' Scarves. In case you don't remember or are new to Tales From the River, I am knitting several scarves, which I intend to arrange decoratively in a big basket. I will take the basket home with me for Christmas and let friends and family choose a scarf.

All of the yarns used and many of the patterns are available at River Knits Fine Yarns

You can't really see the laciness of this one, but this is "A Lacy and Warm Scarf" from A Baker's Dozen of Warm Scarves by Cottage Creations. I used Ultra was wonderful. I love, love, love this yarn.

This is one of Amanda's Seven Single Skein's called the Simple Seed Stitch Scarf. I used Plymouth Alpaca Brush. It knit up really quickly and was wonderful to feel the yarn. It didn't hurt that I was also using Lantern Moon ebony needles!

Another from Amanda's Single Skein collection...the Manos Cowl. I had never used Manos before...I will definitely be doing another scarf using this yarn!

You all may recognize this scarf from a previous post...the "heel" has been removed. This is the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf using Noro Silk Garden. I like this pattern a lot, and have another edition (below) for the basket...this one using Noro Kureyon.

But my favorite so far, is Elbac...Elbac is a reversible cable pattern. I really enjoy cables, but hesitate to use them in scarves because the wrong side looks so this reversible pattern hit the spot. I originally cast on for this scarf using some Ultra Alpaca, but felt like the cable pattern was lost in the color I had chosen. I like this pink much better, and love Lamb's Pride, but almost feel like this scarf requires a softer yarn.

I'm well on my way!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Startling discovery

Oh this isn't one I like to tell about....I was just packing up my things getting ready to leave for the day. I saw two Denise needle tips sitting on my table next to my knitting chair. They are the ones I used when doing the aforementioned swatch. At least they are some of the ones I used when doing the aforementioned swatch. If the pair I thought I was using is on the table, what is in the project? The smaller ones, which gave me too tight of a gauge are currently IN the project that is very far into the front of the top. The pair I thought I was using is sitting on the table.

I think this is a serious Frog Pond event in the making. I think all visions of wearing this top to TNNA just went bye bye!

Monday, May 21, 2007

He's Paying Attention

My husband has of late made 2 comments which imply that he is paying more attention than I realized.

1. While wiping something up in the kitchen with a handknit discloth he said, in an almost indignant tone, "You didn't knit this!?" As if to say, "If you didn't knit it then where on earth did it come from?!" I asked him, "How do you *know* I didn't?" I was puzzled. He stammered for a second and then said, "You just didn't!" Does he watch what I knit that closely? Can he distinguish a piece of *my* knitting from someone else's? I guess this should be comforting. In case some evil genius has a plan to replicate me and replace me with a copy, my husband will recognize the switch when the copy starts to knit!

(The dishcloths were a silent auction find at the River Knits retreat. I love having a couple new, clean dishcloths that I didn't have to knit myself. If you were the knitter--thanks! But you'll never fool my husband!)

2. Saturday night I was ready to commence a new project, the Simple Scalloped Edge Pullover from Vermont Fiber Designs. I said aloud, but mostly to myself, "I think I'll just do a swatch tonight." My husband replied, "Oh you used to do that a lot, but you haven't done that in a long time." Blink. Very long silence while I absorbed this comment.
A) He notices that I knit swatches? Or furthermore, that I don't? Wow.
B) Do I really not knit swatches anymore? Did I used to?
C) Does "B" have any impact on the flagging success rate of recent garments which shall remain nameless?

Is it possible that *I* should be paying more attention?

7 Things About Heather

Yikes! How to limit it to just 7 things?

1. I love Bob Hope, and brought "Son of Paleface" to work today to watch on my lunch break.
2. Joe and I only dated a few months before we got engaged, and we've been married for 17 1/2 years.
3. I credit my Grandma Alvy with instilling the love of "making things" in my life...starting with embroidery, latch hook rugs and little potholders. She used to cut my grandpa's socks into loops when I ran out of the loops we'd buy at the "Dime Store".
4. I love and miss Nebraska. It's spiritually renewing for me to drive down I-80, weird as that sounds.
5. When I was a senior in high school, I was accepted and awarded a scholarship to attend Trinity College in Deerfield IL...but switched to nearby Kearney State College, because of its reputation as a party school and proximity to then-boyfriend. By the last semester of that year, I had stopped partying and lost the boyfriend. But Joe was at Kearney State, so it worked out fine.
6. My new job is making me soft. Caring about things all the time makes it more difficult to be scary.
7. I love to play Pit and sand volleyball, but can't ever find people to play with me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Boot Camp for Socks Mission Report

Beginning at 10:00 hours the troops reported to River Knits Base. Cars were camoflauged so that Corporal Wenig and Sergeants Dogget and Gill could engage in surveillance to detect incoming allies and targets.

An influx of allies began arriving to collect requisitioned materials such as Tofutsies, for the manufacture of appropriate foot gear. Instruction manuals were obtained.

Major Ogden provided training before engaging in KP duty on a deployment to the Golden Arches for MRE's.

The final objective of the day was a gathering of the troops for inspection. Corporal Shumar received special commendation for her contribution:

Please note that civilian support was given from Ms. Cook, who begins a dual training program Tuesday and may soon be enlisted.

In the final analysis this sock mission reached its objectives. Troops and allies left well armed.

Colonel Ladd

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Seven Things about Me by Michelle

Elizabeth tagged me. I suppose if you read the blog you already know that since we share it with Heather and Amanda. I don't know about tagging other people myself. I think everyone I know has already been tagged
Here goes:
  • I was on the speech team in high school for two years. I did Oratoical Declamation. Here is a wiki about it I did Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on self-reliance and one on political correctness taken too far in the form of a re-write of Little Red Riding Hood. Yup, I was a snotty know it all teenager. (still am possibly any comments on that )
  • Larry, my hubby, and I knew each other for 6 years before I was convinced he really did want to seriously date me. (I could be hard headed, possibly)
  • I am a coal miner's daughter
  • When I was in high school some of the senior guys thought it cute or funny to call me Sister Christian (that's my maiden name) I could never decide if it was an insult or not. What the hell is "motoring" any way and were they really singing about the young nun that was in their video or something else. To this day I can't stand the song.
  • I loath REO Speedwagon and I don't want to talk about it
  • My family (meaning my parents, sister and I) have a great love of catsup. Mom buys it by the gallon at Sam's. I was so happy to find it was good for me. It has anti-oxidents in it. ^..^
  • The last one...hmmmmmm. In junior high I was on an undefeated softball team for two years in a row. I played left field. They seriously hoped the ball was not hit in my direction.

Okay, that's it I am so out of here.

Hoping to have some finished projects to post on the blog soon.

After re-reading this I realized I say seriously way to much. Like totally.

Tag (Not the Body Spray)

I've been tagged by Jamisyn.

Every person who gets tagged is to list seven things about themselves. They are to write on their own blog those seven things and then list the rules. You also need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog as well as leave a comment on their blog to let them know they've been tagged.

1. I like to eat chocolate chip cookie dough (the real thing; not so much the ice cream)
2. I learned to knit in a college Deep Ecology class; our final project was to develop a project that we thought would make a difference. I showed the class my first project, a baby sweater, and said that I thought learning to knit was a way of learning self reliance and keeping a dying art alive. Who would've guessed then that knitting blogs would ever exist?

3. Although I have never dyed my hair, I have worn my hair like two Stargate SG-1 female characters.

4. I had a poster of Rhett Butler in my bedroom when I was a teenager.

5. I sneeze when I look at the sun; I have a Trivial Pursuit card that tells me this is known as Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome (ACHOO).
6. I used to avidly make music with the clarinet in marching & concert band but I played the tenor & alto sax in jazz band and even played the marching French Horn (or Frumpet) one summer because we were short on brass instruments. It was a lot more fun to be in a section that actually had boys in it!

7. I am an avid Carrie Newcomer fan so I really loved it when she came in River Knits one day to buy Recycled Silk to finish a shawl for her daughter!

I don't really know 7 bloggers to tag who haven't already been tagged, but I'll tag Michelle & Heather, of this blog!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Retreat Slide Show

Brent put up a retreat slide show which is linked from the River Knits homepage. It is just everything that came off of my camera from the retreat. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


That would be Put Sam In Pink, for those not in the know. And, yes, I'll contribute to that cause with these. The yarn is Galway Paint in the lovely pink/purple/green colorway. The pattern is my favorite standby toe-up method from Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy. I had to purposely make these socks in a size that will not fit Victoria because the minute she saw the yarn, she wanted the socks. I suppose I'll have to get another ball to knit her some socks too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Leave the Rocks Alone, or, Show Me Your Socks!

Did you ever see rocks screaming louder to be messed with?

This picture comes from Davidson Fields, where Josie plays soccer (she's really should all come watch her)...every time we pass it, Joe and I have to laugh at the decorative bossiness. We knew that we had to do something with the rocks. We knew we could not leave them alone.

We had also been trying to think up a creative arrangement for the "Show Us Your Socks" challenge that was thrown down many weeks ago. Josie had suggested a picture of me rolling around in the socks, as if they were dollar bills. Joe thought maybe a picture of himself, on the bed, covered in socks and holding Cheetos, with the title "These are a few of my favorite things..." He thought he should be naked. I thought that might not be quite right.

But then I remembered the rocks...

You can't really see the socks too well on the pile of rocks, but know that the rocks have been messed with. I felt very sneaky and evil, since I took the picture in the middle of a weekday (no soccer games) and the parking lot was roped off, so I had to leave my van on the road and climb over the rope. Very satisfying.

Here's a better look at the socks...

Since all I knit, it seems, are seemed like I should have more to show for this picture...until it was pointed out to me that in 2006 alone I gave away 11 pairs of socks. You can see from the picture that I love Trekking, and I highly recommend the Wisconsin Winter Socks (4th from the left on the bottom row). I used Ultra Alpaca and a strand of Regia. These are Joe's...I can't wait to make myself some.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Reluctant Entrelac Experience

I finished something. And I have a confession to make. I really avoided learning how to do entrelac.

A) Because I thought it looked fiddly & fussy to do all those little short rows & all that picking up of stitches.
But mostly
B) Because it was really nice to be able to say "I don't know" when someone asked me how to do entrelac!

My list of things I haven't ever tried is getting smaller & smaller. I was stubbornly hanging on to entrelac. Now that I've jumped that hurdle what is next? Crochet?!?

In response to my earlier concerns, it's really not all that fiddly & fussy after all. Once you learn how to knit & purl back backwards, that eliminates a lot of the fussiness of entrelac. Thanks to Amanda teaching me how to knit back backwards for the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf, I was able to make the mental jump needed to learn how to purl back backwards too for this project. Doing this eliminates the need to repeatedly turn the work and makes for a much more fluid experience. For me the myth of "fussy entrelac" has been BUSTED!

Since I am publicly admitting to having finished an entrelac project, I will forever give up the luxury of claiming ignorance when asked about this technique. Was ignorance bliss? Not really. I was sorry not to be able to give very useful help to at least two people making this very bag. It still isn't a technique given to a quick explanation on the fly though. It's one that I think most people have to sit down and just DO to fully understand.

Now that I've tried it, I can say that it had a very attention-holding fascination. Each little square held its own satisfaction, keeping me interested and rewarded every time I finished another square. When I finished 12 squares then I had the even bigger reward of having finished another tier. I think this must be what gamers feel like when they get to go to the next level! This particular project also had one of my favorite knitting elements - each tier of squares got smaller and smaller, making the knitting go faster and faster as it progressed, which felt like an ever quickening race to the end! This is why I love knitting a seamless raglan or Lopi sweater. This is also why I think that top down knitting takes a lot of the fun out and leaves the boring part to the end. (But we'll talk about knitting sweaters that fit some other time, ok?)

Anyway, all in all I give the entrelac Market Squares bag serious merit points for being simultaneously interesting and relaxing as well as being a great looking finished project. Originally published in Knitter's Magazine #63 Summer 2001 this pattern was also reprinted in the XRX book, Bags A Knitters Dozen. Mine is knit almost entirely in Cascade 220 with the multicolored squares knit in Plymouth's Galway Paint. If you look in the book or magazine you will see the original has a different handle treatment. I'm a grommet fan so I went with grommets for mine. While this project is definitely good enough for new yarn, it might also be a fun stash buster project for using up oddments of feltable wools. If you've wanted to try entrelac (or if you've been avoiding it like I was!) this might be just the project for you!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It is Complete!

I just finished my Paprio Cotton top. Check it out:

For more details about its construction, yarn, etc., visit the Gaea Creations Blog.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

River Knits Retreat Recap!

Twenty-nine knitters from around Indiana, and even one from out of state, enjoyed the weekend at Camp Tecumseh for the 2nd River Knits Retreat! We had time to mingle, time to relax,

time to play games, time to laugh,
and time to learn! We had plenty of good food, including decadent cakes & chocolate shots from the talented Lisa.

We started Saturday morning off right with Knitters' Excersices led by our very own Iron Woman, Sheryl Krohne.

I was really surprised by my own lack of flexibility when trying to place the back side of my hands on the table. This seems like an important one for me to work on!

Then we made beaded stitch markers with Amanda.

Plenty of people were heard saying, "Just what I need--another hobby. But this is FUN!" Amanda taught us how to make several types of simple stitch markers and even a more complex row counter for keeping track of pattern rows. I think this is something I could do again...

Next JoLene Treace showed us some of her impressive sample garments knit in Black Water Abbey Yarns, before telling us about the history of knitted counterpanes and guiding us through the creation of our own counterpane square. Mine is knit in Reynolds Saucy Sport, although traditional counterpanes would have been knit in much finer yarn or threads. I really love the color of blue and found that it looks really fabulous in my bedroom. I wonder if I could really make enough of these to make a bedspread?

Saturday evening Jamisyn won a challenging round of "Name that Yarn" and received a Louet Dyeing Kit as her prize. Who says there aren't perks for knowing how to distinguish yarn by brand and type?!

Later several night owls entertained ourselves with games like "Three lies & a Truth" and composing a "Shatner Letter" to crocheters where each person added one word to the "letter." We amused ourselves very well, wrapping up the evening with a sheepy tale from Wallace & Grommit.

The evening also raised over $500 for Youth Underground, a youth community center that is part of the Community and Family Resource Center! Everyone brought auction items and the generous knitters tried to see who could outbid whom in a silent (and sometimes not so silent) auction. People left with yarn, books, magazines, even finished projects. I nabbed two super handy cotton washcloths and a little cap I'll donate to charity. So that is a charitable gift that gives twice!

The BEST part of the night was the carrot cake & chocolate shots from Lisa! Anyone who was there will back me up on that one. I sure hope I think of many more opportunities to engage her services. Her treats are FABULOUS.

Sunday morning we got an introduction to Kumihimo from Brian Doggett. Kumihimo is an ancient form of Japanese braiding that was used to hold the samurai armor together. Now it is used to make beautiful and useful cords for bags, closures & decorations of all types. This is the one thing I learned this weekend that I have actually felt energetic enough to do so far this week. It is both easy to learn and fun to see the progress as the cord emerges through the disk. I hope to try other colors and fibers too. My sample is in simple cotton floss.

One of my daughters enjoyed trying this with me when I got home. I have heard a lot of other attendees saying they have already taught others already too!

Amanda even finished a gorgeous top at the retreat. It is made of Super 10 Butterfly Cotton, one of my favorite cotton yarns.

After a fun weekend, I managed to fit the remaining items from the onsite "store" into my little "Ravi ShanCar"--fortunately the knitters liked being able to shop at the retreat!

Like all good retreats, it was great to be away from the normal routine. And like all good trips away, it was great to get back home!