Thursday, May 29, 2008

UFO week - epilogue

This is my last day for blogging about the marathon UFO week and I was reflecting on how it had gone. I am very happy to have 6/7 projects done, and the 7th project very near completion. The pile of folded and finished items is very gratifying (see picture minus the 2 first projects that have already gone to their new owners). My friend sent a thank-you for her shawl (#1) and said it will be a comfort to wear to her chemotherapy sessions, and she loved the colors. I can't wait to wear the sleeveless linen top when the weather warms up, and I don't know if I would have ever finished it without this binge of spring knitting. Besides needing about 5 more hours on the last row, the last shawl (#7) also needs more yarn (of course). Elizabeth (River Knits and Tales from the River Blog owner) is looking for a skein of Kidsilk Haze that matches. She is the best. I am very grateful that I didn't run out of yarn on other projects. I also only have 2 knitting injuries - a very tight and sore deltoid and a stiff wrist, both on my left side. I am blaming the unfinished shawl. I have renewed respect for lace knitters. I did stretch every hour - shoulders, elbows and wrists - and credit that for not having more injuries. I usually get tennis and golf elbow from knitting that many hours a day. My workroom is a mess (see picture), but I will clean that up tonight. The best part is 7 empty knitting bags to go and fill up with new projects! Happy knitting to all of you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Last Long (and fun) Day

Day 7 of UFO Marathon Week, Monday May 26 (Memorial Day)

Today I started knitting at 6:30 am and stopped at 10:30 pm. I didn't knit or work on knitting for only 75 minutes during the day. Those 75 minutes were to eat, brush my teeth, run the dogs on my bike, make 14 cups of tea, coffee, espresso, etc. and to go an equal number of times to the bathroom. At one point in the afternoon, when I was 8 hours into the knitting, my husband commented (I was slumped on the couch with barely combed hair, and my "Life is Good" yellow labrador sweats and t-shirt on) that all I needed was my Camelback full of my favorite beverage and I wouldn't even have to get up! I did look rather rumpled and slovenly, and certainly wasn't going to accomplish anything but knitting on this holiday day off work. It is also a good thing that he does most of the meal preparation, or I would have starved this last week.

I started the morning with 6 hours of work on the shawl border. It is the Ruffled Fichu from "Victorian Lace Today" by Jane Sowerby. I am making the sunset red version with a beautiful green/purplish silk I bought in San Francisco for the lightweight yarn and Rowan Kidsilk haze from River Knits for the fineweight yarn. I had finished the body of the shawl and picked up for the border a couple of months ago, with 6 inches of the silk left (whew!) after finishing the body. The border is described by Jane Sowerby as "a relaxing knit ... please don't count the stitches halfway through the ruffle...just think of the beautiful garment you will be wearing at the end." Well, that is good advice except if you are trying to finish it during marathon finishing week! After 6 rows of the 19 border rows, I knew I was in deep doodoo. The stitches increased from 233 to 840 by row 17. Each row pair was taking an hour, so that was 9 hours of knitting, just to get to the last row picot bind off. That row increased to 1401 stitches while binding off. I started the bind-off row at 9pm Monday night and calculated that it would take about 10 hours to finish the last row. I did not stay up. I finished 4/38 bells in the pattern during that last hour on Monday, and am working on it about an hour a day. I am also probably going to run out of yarn. It is a learning experience.

The toddler sweater for CIC charity went much faster. I had blocked it the day before, and it was still wet in the morning, so I put it outdoors on the picnic table. It was dry by 1:30pm and I knitted the sleeves and put it together. It was done by 5pm. The pattern is from the Knit Girls Kids book (same book as other toddler sweater), and the yarn is Colorado by Katia, bought about 7 years ago and left over from a vest I made for me. I really like how the baby sweater turned out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 6 - Clothes Encounters of the Third Kind

UFO Day 6 - Sunday May 25, 2008

Today I blocked the socks on my moose sock blockers – they are a beautiful wood with a moose cut-out at the top and are just my size. You can put wet socks on them because they are finished with a waterproof varnish.

I also got the neckbands finished on the linen top. I had to do the cast-off on each of the neckbands 3 times because it flipped out at the edge when I followed the instructions. I ended up doing K2tog every 4th stitch and then binding off and that decreased the flare. I had already dropped down a needle size and was binding off tightly. It looked much better the third time. This project was a total act of faith and I still don’t know at this moment how it will turn out. I just now threw the top in the dryer to see what the finished size will be. I bought the pattern and yarn 5 or 6 years ago. The pattern is “Elizabeth” (2002) from Louet sales and is written for the Euroflax heathers yarn. I had taken a class about “knitting to fit” and so swatched this project using the pattern stitch as recommended, washed and dried the swatches to figure out the correct needle sizes and then what size to knit. I used Addi turbos size 4.5 and 4.0 mm, which are a size smaller than the pattern. I usually knit pretty loose. Also, I was 10 lbs lighter when I started this top, and it is very fitted, so don’t know how it will fit me, even if it comes out like I planned. The linen yarn is also a challenge to knit with (although actually fun and very beautiful), and so I had lost faith in the whole project about ½ way through. However, since my New Year’s resolution (this year) was to finish my UFOs, I picked it back up in January, and decided it would fit someone. I will know the answer tomorrow when it is completely dry. It is recommended to wash in the machine, dry for 15 minutes at low heat and then finish drying flat. I will put the 2 buttons on the shoulder straps tomorrow, after it is dry, and I can see where the buttons should go. Time to finishing from starting on it yesterday – 2.75 hours. It will probably take another ½ hour to put the buttons on, although it may take hours to pick them out. Now off to work on the fichu shawl.
The pictures below are after removing the top from the dryer, and you can see it has gained 4.5 inches across, or 9 inches around (26 inches bust to 35 inches). I am 40 inches, but it is very stretchy (I hope)! The linen feels wonderful.

UFO Days 4 & 5 - Starting the long Weekend

UFO Days 4 & 5 - THE START OF THE LONG WEEKEND! – Friday was day 4 and I didn’t finish a project. The work day was really demanding and long, and I didn’t get home until late, although I had been planning to leave early and get the socks done. I did get a couple of inches done on the foot (1.5 hours) after dinner and a margarita (which didn't speed up knitting), and figured I could finish the socks and maybe the sleeveless top on Saturday. On Day 5 (Saturday) I was successful with the socks. It was the first day of the 3 day weekend, and between doing laundry, running with the dog, obedience lessons at the dog club and putting away tent and sleeping bag from a recent camping trip, the socks got finished with 2 hours of knitting in the morning and another hour on the toe during Prairie Home Companion in the evening. The patterned yarn looks pretty nice in the lace part and then striped in the bottom, heel and toe. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, color Flamingo Stripe, and the pattern is the Peaks ‘n’ Valleys in "Knit Socks!" by Betsy McCarthy (yarn and book from River Knits). It is a good pattern for short stripes so they don’t pool. These were knit using 2.25 mm 40” circulars and the magic loop technique. It takes a long time to finish socks for myself since I have such Big Feet! (And I’m a slow knitter) - 4.5 hours total to finish the foot and toe.
I also got a good start on the neckband of the sleeveless top on Saturday (day 5), but didn’t finish it. The yarn is Euroflax Heathers – a wetspun 100% chunky weight linen yarn. I can only knit with it for an hour or two at a time, because the linen is so inflexible and makes my hands ache if I work with it longer. The neckband is a very tight basketweave cable, and I messed up picking up the stitches, and then the buttonholes were wrong, so had to do the front neckband twice (aaaaargh!). Hope to finish it tomorrow.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Newsflash from Roswell - third UFO spotted!

There wasn't too much to finish on this afghan, and that was good because I didn't have too much time yesterday. I worked on it from 8 to 9:30 pm when I got back from work in Huntington. I was really freaked out sewing up the center seam because the instructions had suggested that I needed 30 inches and I left that amount of yarn at the start when I cast on for the project. It didn't look like enough last night. I had 2 inches left when the seam was done. The bears are enjoying it in the first picture on the left. (They have their own handknit sweaters). It looked like a blob before I cast off, and I used up almost all of the yarn. This project has been going on for at least 18 months, but I can't really remember when I bought the yarn. This is my wine drinking project (and sometimes tequila) since it is knit one row, purl one row, and all I have to remember is 4 increases every knit row. It may be the only project I have never ripped any part out. As with the rest of the afghan, I completed it last night while drinking a large glass of Merlot. I love how it turned out, and the beautiful mix of colors! It is very cozy and the yarns feel delicious. I can't wait to snuggle up in it, and with the cool spring, I don't think I will have to wait until fall. The pattern and yarn both came from River Knits and the yarn is the Lorna's laces bundle. This color grouping is Watercolor, Blackberry, Sage and Denim. There are several beautiful color groupings available and the yarns range from angora and silk to wool, mohair and cotton. It is really fun to knit

Thursday, May 22, 2008

UFO Day 2 - Toddler sweater finished!

I wasn't sure I would be able to post on the blog today, because I am working in Huntington. But we have a break at lunch, so here it goes, a new computer skill. The blogging is more challenging than the knitting part. Yesterday morning this toddler sweater was in 4 pieces and today it is on its way to the 3 month old baby it was made for. Forest was born in March 08, and his sweater was finished knitting in November, but not put together in time for his birth! Good thing it was finally sewn together yesterday. Before I would know it, it would be too small, although it is size 3. The yarn is a delicious lumpy bumpy stuff hand dyed by Charlene, 99% merino. The pattern is from "The Yarn Girls Guide to Kid Knits", a collection of quick and very cute kids and baby patterns that I bought at River Knits. It took 4,5 hours to finish yesterday, 1.5 hours sewing with the charity knitting group at noon at River Knits and 3 hours watching the Mets last night. Before leaving at 7am, I packed it in a little lamby gift bag, and gave it to my husband to deliver. I hope that his parents like it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A week of UFOs - day one

The first day of this knitting marathon finished successfully with the delivery of the shawl. I belong to a knitting group in Indianapolis
called the Knitwits (of course!), and we met last night at a restaurant in the Trader's Pointe area. One of the knitters will deliver the shawl to my friend who is also a member of the group. She couldn't make it last night, but will find out today what her treatment plan is for her breast cancer. It is the UFO that was started most recently (2 weeks ago) but needed to get done first. The pattern is the triangular shawl pattern from River Knits that works with the Cherry Tree Hill Boucle. I used another yarn from my stash to make the shawl this time. It is handpainted by Valentina Devine (America Knits Book), and is a boucle that I got about 6 years ago in New Mexico at a workshop she held at Ghost Ranch. It knitted up quickly on #17 needles and made a cozy shawl 74 inches tip to tip. Time to finishing - 80 minutes including working the ends in. Time for wrapping - 35 minutes (I am very slow and had to find a box, paper, bow, card, etc. you get the idea). I got up at 5:45 am and finished it before going to work on Tuesday and left after work to go straight down to Indianapolis for our dinner meeting. Lots of fun, but tired today due to arriving home at 11pm. 1 project done and delivered!! Blogging done, now on to finishing a toddler sweater, so that I can blog about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Week of UFO's: 7 Days to Finish 7 Projects!

--from guest blogger, Sheryl

This all started when I realized that I had way too many UFOs, and I wanted to start 2 new projects. There is no way I could have 11 ongoing projects.
I am working on the Mystery Shawl in Amanda’s shawl class and a pair of Norwegian mittens in River Knits Nordic Club, in addition to these other 7 lingering garments. Even for me, that is too many. Plus, the 7 projects that I am going to finish this week are all pretty close to the end and this plan seems very reasonable (at least it does in the middle of the night). The number of these UFOs, and their nearness to completion must have been working on my subconscious, because last week I woke up in the middle of the night with the answer – for one week, finish a project each day and they would be done - a UFO marathon week. Looking at the calendar helped the idea along, since I can incorporate the Memorial holiday weekend, giving me a three day weekend at the end of the week if I get behind on my 1 project/day schedule.
The photograph shows 6 of the seven projects – 2 shawls, a toddler sweater, one pair of socks (one sock unfinished), an afghan, and a sleeveless summer top. Another toddler cardigan is not pictured, since it is my charity knitting project and lives in the car. It is scheduled for later in the week. These projects range in unfinished age from 2 weeks to 4 years.
The schedule is: Day 1, Tuesday – Boucle shawl for a friend starting cancer therapy on Wednesday. Wednesday will be the pullover toddler sweater that needs to be sewn together – it is already finished and blocked. The afghan is scheduled for Thursday because it only needs a couple of rows and to be bound off and a small seam sewn up. That day is a long work day and so it will be a challenge to get anything done on the knitting projects. (Work can be so demanding of knitting time). Friday will probably be the sleeveless summer top, and that may run into Saturday. Saturday’s project is the ruffle on the second shawl. Sunday will be the toddler cardigan and Monday the second sock.
Well, now all there is to do is get started tomorrow! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I KNIT today!

I KNIT today!

What is so unusual about THAT you ask? Isn't this a blog about knitting? Don't you knit nearly EVERY day? Well, yes, usually. But not after getting stung on the hand by a honeybee.

My husband and I just embarked on a new project; installing 2 hives of honeybees at our home. Collecting the bees at the post office was really exciting. If you ever want people to notice you, I highly recommend this as an effective technique for achieving your goal! Installing the bees in the hives went pretty well too and we felt satisfied with our teamwork in getting the bees from the little screen box into the hives.

A week later we were supposed to check on the status of the bees, determine if the queen seemed to be laying eggs and install one more frame (upon which the bees build comb, raise brood and store honey) in the space that had been created by the separate little queen cage, which we removed. We did all this pretty well even though it required a more adventurous spirit than we realized it would! Brent was very brave at one point when he needed to reach his whole bare hand into the hive to pull out some stray burr comb. Later he got one sting on his hand, but he didn't seem too bothered by it.

When we were nearly done, I found one stray bee trying to crawl up my sleeve. I knew she was there and I tried to gently remove her but got stung for my efforts. I removed the stinger and wasn't too bothered by this event. We finished our job, refilled the sugar syrup that the bees feed on until they have created their own stores of honey, and called it a job well done.

But the story wasn't over. As the evening wore on I enjoyed watching the 40th anniversary musical performance of my high school swing choir. Sitting in the dark and hot auditorium I got more and more uncomfortable and realized my hand was starting to throb. By intermission I realized that my hand was beginning to swell. Being in a small town there wasn't a nearby open pharmacy but we called my aunt who left (her dog Roxie's) benadryl on the front porch for me. I took this and iced my hand but by Sunday it looked like this.

I was thoroughly miserable and needed help dressing myself and doing the simplest of tasks that I take for granted every day. I simply did not have the use of my fingers because my hand was so swollen that I couldn't bend my fingers much at all. It was surreal to see my hand look so much NOT like my hand. (The astute might be wondering what happened to Brent's hand; if you recall he also got stung once on the hand. What happened? Nothing at all. Life can be so unfair!)

I finally went to the Immediate Care Center on Monday evening because I was losing patience with the whole process. The doctor there defined my response as a severe localized response but not an allergic reaction (which would be characterized by hives, swelling, possibly difficulty breathing etc, throughout my whole body; not just at the site of the sting). He suggested Zyrtec, and prescribed antibiotics and prednisone. I took the antibiotics and Zyrtec but not the prednisone since it was to be taken in the morning. I felt so much improved by Tues. morning that I skipped the prednisone all together. I could begin to use my fingers although I still had noticeable swelling.

One of my daughters thinks I should give up the bees. Tomorrow Brent will refill the feeders by himself. I will be surfing the internet for something like this:

But today--today I KNIT! That marks the moment of true recovery! Life is back to normal now and I am really enjoying everything I do with my hands that I had previously taken for granted.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Out of the Slump

In the last two weeks, I've hired an assistant, trained her and interviewed 17 candidates for my camp counselor positions. By the time I get home, I'm exhausted and crabby from having to be so friendly all day. I go home each night thinking, "I just need to put a good movie in and knit until I can't stay awake anymore." Then I sit and my arms feel so heavy I just can't's a bad feeling.

On Saturday night, I managed to pull the basket of sock knitting from the end table to my lap. I even frogged a couple of first socks, just to get them out of the UFO files. I also found a lot of first socks that had no mates...
And on Sunday, I had enough energy to cast on mates for all of them...

That's a better feeling...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New Blog

I guess it's been kind of slow at "the River" lately. I really am knitting something--Amanda's socks. But those are in the "top secret" category right now so they don't make for good blog pics!

My DH started a blog a few days ago called The Big Good. Yours truly posted yesterday and since that post is tangentially about knitting, I thought you might want to check it out. It'll give you something to look at until we get a real post here again anyway!