Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dream Swatch

This is another project I started in the airport during my recent trip. I used the Dream Swatch Head Wrap pattern from the Knit and Tonic blog and my single skein of Noro Sakura . You can find the free pattern on the sidebar of her blog. The pattern is very easy to follow and make great use of a single skein of yarn. And it knits up quickly.

The yarn was interesting to knit. There are thick sections that are kind of spongy. These thick sections seem to be yarn that has been wrapped by extra fibers. These sections created an interesting texture where they appeared.

Now I just have to decide what to knit using my stashed away Sakura. I'm not opposed to a sweater or shawl. The yarn really doesn't seem scratchy or uncomfortable next to the skin.

Although, the yarn seems to be in "techno color". So I'm not sure I'd really want a sweater as brightly colored. I'll have to swatch up my remaining color and see how it is. A shawl m be a much better solution.

Project Info
Pattern: Dream Swatch Head Wrap by Wendy Bernard
Yarn: Noro Sakura; color #6; one skein
40 grams and approximately 133 meters
Needles: addi TURBO -US# 5 (3.75mm)
Dimensions: 3.5 inches wide/ 44 inches long
Pattern Modifications: none
Time to knit: approximately 3 evenings (including blocking)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fiber Friday - Dream in Color

Today I'm sharing one of my souvenirs from my recent trip home. I bought yarn of course and a good portion of it was sock yarn. This sock yarn is from a company called Dream in Color. The yarn is 100% Australian Merino and is superwash. The skein is 4 oz / 450 yards and the color is called Wisterious or for the less creative #240.

The company web site says they have a unique process for coloring yarn that they call veil dyeing. they say that this yarn won't pool or "landscape" as they call it. I wasn't able to find out what makes their process so special, but I love the results they get with color.

It's funny how much sock yarn I'm accumulating in my stash. It seems as though I have given myself the go ahead to buy any skein sock yarn I want. Sock yarn is one of those yarn purchases that even if you only get one skein; there is a project you can knit. It seems to me that if you have to add to the stash, another skein of sock yarn won't hurt too much. Although I'd like to finds some one skein projects for sock yarn other than socks. I'll have to take a look around. Do you have a favorite one skein sock yarn project other than socks?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yarn on a Plane

I'm back from my trip home. I was able to get some knitting done while I was gone too. The hard part was determining the best project to take. I had to think about all the places that I might get the opportunity to knit. With all those places in mind, I decided that I had to have something that was convenient to carry and easy to pick-up and put down.

So, I decided to take some skeins of Kureyon and get some more squares for Lizard Ridge Afghan I started at the end of last year completed. I was able to knit up seven squares while I was gone. I was pretty please with that progress considering all the other stuff that was going on around me. Plus I've never been a good knitter in a crowd. I always sit my project down and end up talking more that knitting.

I had no problem taking my knitting needles on the plane. I didn't try to take any other notions, scissors, or yarn cutters, just my addi Turbo needles and yarn. Apparently my unopened bottle of water was more of a threat than pointy metal sticks. I had to throw the water away - but the needles were okay. I took an envelope and postage stamps with me just in case they tried to make me throw the needles away too.

I didn't realize how much I spread out at home when knitting until I tried to take the show on the road. I have "knitting" chair and little table at home. All my stuff gets spread out everywhere. But on the plane I had to keep everything close and tight next to me so I didn't disturb my seat mate. That was kind of awkward at first. But I am glad to be home and have my "space" back.

Getting these squares going again was great. Now I really want to get this afghan finished. I'm getting very close. I only have four more squares to make before I'll begin putting them all together. I'm going to to have to decide what color to use around the edging - but I'll probably wait on that until I can lay all the squares out and arrange them. I'll get a better idea of the overall color that way.

One of the most fun things about my trip was getting my mom interested in knitting again. I got her some yarn and the pattern for some felted clogs. She was already in to the second one when I left. I can't wait to see them finished. I've also have a couple more things from my stash to send her for future projects. It's fun having a new knitting friend.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fiber Friday - Noro Sakura

This was an impulse purchase because it was on sale and I just loved the colors and texture of the yarn. It is Noro Sakura. Each skein is 40 grams and approximately 133 meters. The yarn content is made up of 36% rayon, 28% polyester, 18% nylon, 11% silk, and 7% lambs wool.

It kind of sounds like a kitchen sink type thing - just throw a little of everything in and see what you get. The result is really colorful and it has an interesting texture and feel in the skein. I'm really interested in seeing how it feels to knit.

I only have one skein of this color. It is color #6 by the way. But I do have several skeins of a couple other colors set aside that I was thinking of using for a sweater and a shawl.

Monika over at Smoking Hot Needles has written a lovely shawl pattern for Sakura that she calls the Sakura Cherry Blossom Shawl. It is a lovely free pattern she has posted on her blog. Check it out; it is beautiful. She has come up with some great sock patterns too!

I think I'll use this skein to swatch up and get a feeling for it. It does have some thick sections that Monika refers to as "pool noodles" and she's right. It kind of feels thick and spongy like that.So I think playing around with this first skein will help me decide what to do with the rest of the Sakura I have stashed away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Butterflies Everywhere

This is a picture heavy post because I'm out of town visiting my mom so I don't have a lot of blogging time this week. Last weekend my husband and I visited the Fourth Annual Butterfly Bash at the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

One of the museum's exhibits is the Magic Wings Butterfly House. It is a beautiful conservatory that is kept at 80 degrees F year round. It is filled with tropical plants and hundreds of beautiful butterflies from different locations around the world.

The butterflies just fly around everywhere and if you are lucky, they will land right in your hand. It is really quite a beautiful thing to see. On Saturday and Sunday they release new butterflies into the conservatory. We didn't see that this time.

There are benches to sit on in and little feeding stations set up through the exhibit. So there are plenty of opportunities to get close to the butterflies.

The tricky part was as soon as we went inside, the humidity cause my camera lens to fog over. I'll have to prepare myself for that better next time. I wasn't really pleased with the photos I got. This time it was an issue of skill of the photographer because plenty of opportunity existed. I'm definitely going to have to try this again.

The museum had some interesting exhibits inside as well as a nice playground area for kids. They had some black bears, red wolves, and lemurs in an outside exhibit too. There is a wetland exhibit and they are putting in some radio controlled sailboats this spring. My husband wants to go back and try those.

They also have a small area with farm animals. They had a Belted Galloway cow, who doesn't like a striped cow? They had some pygmy goats and of course some sheep. I had to take pictures of the sheep. It was the closest thing we saw to yarn all day long.

It was a nice day, but next time I'll visit on a day without all the hoopla going on around the butterflies. If you go to visit, I'd suggest going early in the morning before a large group gets there. I hope to be able to go again and try for some better pictures of the butterflies.

We are planning a day trip sometime this summer to the local zoo. I thought it would be fun to try and get some pictures of all the animals. But it did take a little work to convince my husband to go along. He just really doesn't like to see animals taken from their natural habitats and caged in somewhere. but I'm optimistic it will be a fun trip.

One of my goals this year is to visit more local attractions, like museums, you know - soak up the local culture. Hopefully I'll find some good things to share here along with my knitting.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fit or Frog?

I've finally gotten to the point in the pattern that have instructions for separating the sleeves from the body of the sweater. Separating the sleeves was easy enough. I was more worried about trying it on since my gauge was tighter than the pattern stipulated. So once the sleeves were separated, I took the whole thing off the needles and onto scrap yarn to pull over my head and see were I stood.

Well it seems as though i got lucky this time. It seems like the sweater will actually fit well enough for a first time sweater. So no trip to the frog pond for me this time. That is pretty good since I didn't really knit a proper gauge swatch. This has me feeling a little lucky, but I'm just hoping that I don't get in the habit of skipping the step of checking my gauge. I do understand that it could have been a really time consuming decision.

I am pretty excited to be knitting something that I might actually wear. It's kind of like knitting socks for the first time. There is some personal satisfaction that comes with the idea of knitting a garment that fits.

What is worrying me about this sweater is the speed I'm going through the yarn. I'm knitting the largest size and that called for 1100 yards for a long sleeved version. (each skein is about 100 yards) The picture on top shows me starting my sixth ball of yarn for the project.

I did buy a couple extra skeins just in case I needed it. Now I am worried that I won't have enough to knit the long sleeved version. I do think that i have enough to finish at least a short sleeved version though. So I'll keep going and I'll see how far I get.

I'm glad the color swirling stopped at the collar. Now the color seems to be making more random color splotches. Although when I look at the top picture, it makes me kind of think of a crazy colored zebra. now I just have to get this sweater back on the needles to continue knitting.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fiber Friday - Koigu

I couldn't resist temptation and bought this Koigu KPPPM from the April sale at Yarnzilla. As I'm writing this post, there are still a few skeins of these colors left. I was really happy with both colors when they arrived. The colors are even better than I expected.

The pink skein on the left is color P155 and the yellow skein on the right is color P620. I got two skeins of each color. For those that have never tried Koigu, each 50 gram skein is 100% merino wool and approximately 175 yards. It takes two skeins for a pair of socks. I have made socks with Koigu before and the socks have survived both the washer and dryer.

When I ordered these skeins last week I thought that each color would probably become a pair of socks, but now that I've held them together I'm thinking I might make another chevron scarf with these colors when the first one is finished. If I do make another chevron scarf, I'm thinking of using the pattern modifications that Elizabeth at Trailing Yarn decided to use for her scarf.

By the time I actually get to this yarn though, it is completely possible I will have another idea on how to use it. Right now I'm just going to enjoy the nice spring pinks and yellows in these skeins.

In other knitting news: I'm still working on Wicked. I am almost to the point where I can separate the sleeves from the body and try the darn thing on for the first time. We'll see what tempting the gauge gods gets me. I'll post pictures of the outcome.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Wicked - Cross Over Collar

I have made a little bit of progress on my first sweater. I have the cross over stitch collar finished and since taking these photos, I'm part way through the increases. Notice how the color swirls around the collar? I'm glad that didn't continue down the body of the sweater. I'm pretty sure that stripes swirling down the length of my torso wouldn't be a good look. But I'm sure as the increases are added that the color pooling will continue to change.

I did a bad thing when starting this sweater. I only halfway did a gauge swatch. I tried knitting a swatch in the round on US#7's and my gauge was way too tight so I didn't even try blocking the swatch. I cast on for another swatch on size US #8's and then decided to just cast on for the sweater and see what happened.

My gauge still is a little tight, but not too tight I hope. I'm hoping that if the sweater is too tight the first time I go to try it on that I can add another increase or two, but if that doesn't work I'll frog it and start over. That will be my punishment for not working out the whole swatching thing in the beginning.

So far I have followed the pattern as written except for the first row. I could not get the cross over stitches into the ribbing in the first row because my cast on was just a little too tight. So I just did the ribbing without the cross overs for that first row only. I like the cross over stitches. For some reason the pattern calls for the cross over stitches on the collar and the sleeve cuffs, but not the waistband. I'll probably go ahead and add the same detail to the waistband too.

So far I really like knitting with this yarn. It is soft and not scratchy at all. I get the feeling that if the sweater does eventually get finished and turns out to fit that I will like wearing it a lot. I am curious about using the yarn for socks. I would think that it would make very soft socks, but I have read that socks made from Supermerino don't wear very well. I wonder if that is also true for Ultramerino as well.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

My husband and I dyed Easter Eggs for the first time since we were kids. All the Easter displays in the stores got me in the mood to do something. I saw a cute cake pan shaped like a bunny, but I decided we have had way too many sweets lately and we still have a lot of caramel popcorn left. I decided to come up with something not so sweet.

I have a bunch of paste type food colors on hand so I decided that we'd dye some eggs. A little hot water and some vinegar and we were set to go. Neither of us are great fans of hard boiled eggs or egg salad. We used raw eggs for dying and I've decide to use some of the eggs up to make a quiche later this week.

The paste dyes created some nice deep color for the eggs, but it does need to be dissolved to get a solid color egg. I didn't get the pink dye completely dissolved and that is how I ended up with the speckled egg above.

I bought some white and brown eggs to see the difference when dyed. The white eggs definitely ended up being more brightly colored than the brown eggs.

The three eggs in the top photo and four of these blue eggs started out white. The three blue eggs that are a deeper tone are the brown eggs. I love the deep colors that the brown eggs created but my husband prefers the bright colors from the white eggs. Whatever you do to celebrate Easter, I hope you have a great day

Friday, April 06, 2007

Fiber Friday -
Something Wicked This Way Comes

Guess what I'm going to knit next. That's right - Wicked by Zephyer Style. And I'll be using Artyarns Supermerino in color number 114. Each hand painted skein is 100% superwash merino wool, weighs 50 grams, and is approximately 104 yards.

I tried to be good and pick something from my stash to use for this pattern and almost decided on some Noro Silver Thaw that I purchased quite a while ago.

But after hemming and hawing over it a couple days I decided that it might be a little too itchy next to my skin.

So I went looking at all the sales and ended up deciding to use the Supermerino that the pattern originally lists.

I've never used and Artyarns before, but it seemed that every reference I read about it was a positive if not glowing review. So I found a color combo that appealed to me and ordered enough online.

The yarn arrived yesterday and I was really pleased with the colors and texture of the yarn. It actually feels pretty soft and I'm expecting that it will get even softer after a couple of washings. I downloaded the pattern last night and am prepared to swatch today.

The pattern reads simply enough and seems like a good choice for my first sweater. I really like the fact that there is really no seaming involved and it is a simple design overall. Now I just have to decide about sleeve length and that front pocket.

I'm leaning towards long sleeves and no pocket. I bought enough yarn for the long sleeved version and if I actually wear this in the winter I can't imagine not having long sleeves, especially in our freezer they call an office. I'm just not feeling the pocket yet, but should have enough yarn if I decide to add it at the end.

Oh and the book? It really doesn't tie into the sweater, except for the title, but I did read it. I'm a big fan of the Wizard of Oz. I did like the story of the witch. I tried the other books by the author too, but this one was the best.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Photos from Geddesburg

The nice thing about spring is watching everything come to life again after a cold gray winter. The trees are starting to bud out and the Dogwood and Redbud trees are blooming everywhere.

I also noticed that the Japanese Cobra Lily I planted last year has made it through to it's second year.

The plant actually dies completely back to the ground during the hot summer months, so it has been awhile since I had actually seen it.

This means that I didn't kill it and the deer didn't eat it. I was really excited about this. With all the deer around - I'm learning to live with small garden victories. And this is one I'll take gladly.

I love having a few unusual plants sprinkled throughout the garden. This little oddity is planted among some more common hosta.

The deer are actually fighting me on the hosta. Apparently they think hosta are a tasty treat that I plant just for them. Every single host I have was eaten to the ground last year. It looks like many of them are coming back already this year. So now I have to try something to keep the deer away. Any suggestions on deer deterrents?

Another item of note is that there are new colors for the Project Spectrum assignments. The colors for April and May are pink, green, and yellow. So most of my time went to searching out things of those colors for pictures. I knew there would be no shortage of green because of the spring weather. I was actually surprised at the amount of pink and yellow that was out there too. I put this mosaic together from the best pink, green, and yellow shots of the day.

Oh, and if you are wondering what Geddesburg is, it is actually our house. My husband has always been a big fan of assigning names to things. So when we started building our house several years ago, we had to give it a name. The name we came up with was Geddesburg. The name has stuck - for us. We are the only ones that call our house by name. There aren't any signs like you see at fancy beach houses. But if you are listening in to us talk and we mention Geddesburg, now you'll know we are talking about our house. Do you name things too?

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Treats, Less Knitting

I probably spent more time in the kitchen and working around the house this last weekend than I did knitting. We spread some mulch outside and planted a couple tomato plants. I cleaned the house and caught up on the loads of laundry that had piled up. After all that work, We wanted a sweet treat, but we were a little tired of the cakes and cookies I had been making recently. So I pulled out my grandma's recipe for caramel popcorn and decided to make a batch.

I love caramel popcorn but it is something I rarely eat. I don't buy it. The store bought just doesn't taste the same as homemade. It is really easy to make. It is tasty, but it is loaded with sugar. Here's the recipe if you want to make your own. It makes a lot so be ready to share.

21 cups of popcorn
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cups of butter
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoons baking soda

Mix salt, butter, sugar, and corn syrup in pan on stove top. Heat to boil and simmer five minutes. Take pan off stove and stir in baking soda. Pour over popcorn and mix well to coat all popcorn. Place uncovered in a 200 degree oven for about an hour; stir every 15 minutes. After taking out of oven, spread out and cool on waxed paper. When cool, store in an airtight container.

The popcorn should be made with an air popper and free of any salt, butter, or oil. I don't really measure the popcorn I make two - three batches with my air popper. I've never tried microwave popcorn, but I don't think it would work very well. When cooking the caramel mixture, use a large sauce pan. When the baking soda is added at the end, the caramel will expand. I use a large deep roasting pan to put the popcorn in the oven.

You can add peanuts or toy surprises as you wish. And as you can see, this batch turned out just fine; just ask my taste tester.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Flash Your Stash - 2007

Well it is time again for the Knittyboard Flash Your Stash. Last year I dragged out all my yarn and took individual pictures of each variety and created a slide show to show it all off. This year I went up to the closet in the spare bedroom where the yarn is stashed and much to my shock - the stash had grown.

I wasn't sure what to do. Part of me wanted to get out all the yarn and just sit and look at all the pretty skeins, hanks, and balls of yarn I've amassed in my relatively short knitting career. I thought it would be fun to pile it up all around me and set the camera on the tripod and use the timer to get a portrait of a knitter and her stash.

I could have spent all day just going through everything, handling all the yarn, and dreaming of all the projects I want to knit. I'd probably still be up in that spare bedroom if I had opted for that course of action. So instead, I opted for a mosaic of some of my favorite yarn and pictures that I've taken recently. If you want to see more pictures of my stash, view my flickr set.
Although, I think I'll have to try the portrait idea for an upcoming Fiber Friday.