To Spin of Not to Spin?

Lately I've been toying with the idea of taking up spinning.  I figured after 24 years of hard work, I would splurge on a retirement gift – something that I could carry with me into retirement and provide me with a new learning experience.  I talked to the nice lady at our LYS who offered to let me come in and spin on several different wheels to get a feel for them.  I talked to several friends who are spinners and I spent time cruising the internet looking at different wheels.  My decision?  Not to spin.  First of all, I don't need to take up something completely new and I figured anything that stood between me and casting on a new project would only cause me frustration.  And there are so many beautiful yarns out there that I still want to sample, I don't really need to create my own.

Instead, I'm going to look at getting a good, high quality SLR camera.  I love photography and would love even more getting good at it.  This is also something that I can share with hubby and something that I can integrate with what is becoming a passion almost as great as quilting and knitting – digital scrapbooking.  I just bought some CD's with three years of back issues from Scrapper's Guide and have been having a blast learning new techniques in Photoshop Elements.  Here's my latest page:


So, if any of you photography buffs out there have any suggestions for a camera, please feel free to chime in!

I've continued my baby sweater obsession and have completed two more:


I decided that I needed to make some little boy sweaters, but when I dived into my Encore stash, this is what I found:


Do you think having granddaughters has skewed my color wheel?  So I had to go out and buy some blue.  While I was there, my local pusher had to show me some new yarn that had just come in, and of course, it jumped right into my basket and made its way home:


This is King Cole "Splash".  Although I usually avoid 100% acrylic, I loved the colors in this so much and it's very soft and not at all "squeaky".  This will be Ivy's Christmas sweater – a simple cardigan from "Top Down for Toddlers".  In the picture, it is actually upside down – the garter stitch area is the collar.  This is DK weight and I'm finding it a rest for my fingers from the worsted.

Today when the mail came, I received a surprise – my Embrace the Lace shipment.  I had entirely forgotten about it!  I think many of us were just a little disappointed with the first shipment, but this one made up for all of that:


Included in the shipment were notecards, two cute heart boxes with beads and a stitch marker, a heart box full of candies, a heart tape measure, a sample of a yarn soak, a highlighter pen, luscious cashmere lace yarn from Mama Llama, a great beaded scarf pattern by Sivia Harding, and a cute bag to put it all in!  Definitely a winner.

And speaking of winner – I won Sonny and Shear's monthly trivia contest!  Woo Hoo!  I hardly ever win anything.  But I now have $25 gift certficate to spend in their store.  Now I just have to decide on what sock yarn to buy.  Thanks Kris!

Babies and Bears

The Babies and Bears juggernaut plows on!  I finished the third and have cast on for the fourth:


Several knitters have expressed interest in the pattern, so I thought a critique and some suggestions might be in order.  The construction on this is most of the fun.  You start at the sleeve edge and knit one half of the sweater.  A small front band with a pattern is then knit on and the first half is set aside while you knit the second half.  Another front band goes on that and then a back band goes on only one half and is then kitchenered to the other half.  Neckline stitches are picked up and a hood knitted on.  The pattern calls for the hood seam to be kitchenered, but I did a three needle bind off, which I think gives more stability and a nice, neat finish.

The last step has you putting held stitches from the left band, across the bottom and right band on one needle and knitting a front/bottom band with buttonholes.  It is at this point that I think a break from the pattern is in order.  The sweater, knit as instructed, is too short.  I tried several different ways of dealing with this.  On the first, yellow sweater, I did short rows across the bottom. 


This helped some, but I still think it's too short.  On the next sweater, I tried another method of short rows, but this came out even shorter.  It really escapes me exactly what I did, but since I don't want to do it again, that seems a moot point!


On the third sweater I hit pay dirt.  Before picking up the last set of stitches, I put only the bottom stitches on a needle and knit 10 rows of garter stitch.  I then put all of the stitches on one needle and finished as instructed.  This does give two more ends to weave in, but I think the finished sweater has much more pleasing proportions:


This also gives a very pretty back:


Probably the biggest disappointment I have with the pattern is that it is technically only written for one size.  It was advertised as fitting from newborn up to 36 months.  But in order to do that, you have to change the weight of yarn.  A fingering weight will fit a newborn, but for a three year old, you have to use bulky weight.  I do understand that the construction of this sweater has limitations.  Like the baby surprise jacket, it does not easily lend itself to proportional adjustments.  Cottage Creations has come out with an adult size (I believe without the hood), but child sizes have been more elusive.  But for the purposes for which I intend it, as a charity knit, it fits the bill perfectly.  And I do think it will become my "go to" baby shower gift.  If I want a hoodie sweater for a child, the Wonderful Wallaby has any size you could possibly want, and they have recently come out with a cardigan version with either a zipper or buttonholes and a hood or a collar.  Oh, and the Babies and Bears only takes two skeins of Encore, so it is quite an economical gift as well.  And have I mentioned – no seaming!!  Once you've made a couple, you'll have the pattern memorized, so it's a good on-the-go knitting project.

I think now, though, I need to give my fingers a rest.  Although I plan to keep on churning out little sweaters, I think I'm ready to pick up my Cookie A socks, which are feeling totally neglected.

Have wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  Remember the men and women who have made sacrifices for our freedom.  Hubby is driving in the Memorial Day parade and will be carrying a Pearl Harbor survivor.  And our weather is supposed it be picture perfect!!

A Mad Social Whirl

The past two weeks have been so busy – with one social obligation after another.  It's so difficult to be popular!  I have managed to have a little down time, but when faced with the decision to blog or to knit, knitting won out.  On the positive side there is now something to blog about.

Our road trip was a lot of fun and very successful.  The drive over the Cascades is always beautiful with snow capped mountains on every side:


Graduation brought back some wonderful memories and knitting was accomplished at the ceremony, by both the attendees and the graduate:


My sister-in-law actually got a photo of herself knitting during the ceremony, but I don't have a copy yet.  I think the other graduates thought she was a little strange, but they're young so we'll have to give them a little latitude.

After many years of hard work Debbie has earned her Master's Degree and we are very proud of her!  Her boss posed for photos with her, wearing the handknitted socks she made for him:


The road trip provided almost 12 hours of concentrated knitting time.  I finished one little baby sweater and started another, which I finished shortly after arriving back home:


This is the Babies and Bears Cardigan from Cottage Creations.  I don't know when I've had so much fun with a pattern.  It is truly addicting!  I've started another one:


These will all be for charity.  My sister belongs to an organization called Eastside Baby Corner.  They are a clearinghouse which coordinates getting donations to the appropriate organizations that can distribute them to those who need them.  Irrationally, I was feeling a little guilty about knitting the same thing over and over, but I'm not sure why!  I'm having fun and I'm doing something that's needed.  So I may just knit a dozen!!

Saturday was the Third Annual Spring Tea at my house.  The teacups waited patiently for the guests to arrive:


We had about 20 honored guests:



Maggie was in doggie heaven because the girls attending spent a lot of time outside playing with her.  Hubby said she crashed big time afterwards, only rousing herself briefly to eat dinner.

After the party was over, my sister and I did a quick clean up and headed off for the opera in Seattle.  Yes, I overbooked myself!  We saw "The Marriage of Figaro".  It was wonderful!  The cast did a great job with the comedic portions and the arias, especially those of the Countess, were awe inspiring.

So there you have it!  The Mad Social Whirl.  I think I'll go back to work tomorrow for a bit of a rest!

Road Trip!

It just occurred to me that hubby and I have a road trip coming up at the end of the week and I need to get my knitting ready!  We're driving over to Pullman for WSU graduation.  My sister-in-law is receiving her Master's Degree.  Way to go Debbie!!  She doesn't have a blog, but her Ravelry ID is "waitingtoknit", so pop on over and give her a congratulations if you're so inclined.  We'll be staying at the same bed and breakfast as last year.  I think the trip will be fun and bring back a lot of nice memories.

Anyway, I have some decisions to make – at least 12 hours on the road provides a lot of knitting time.  Of course, there are socks:


The black speckled is a plain Jane sock that should be easily finished in no time flat.  And then there are the Cookie A socks that I put aside for other projects.  There is the last sleeve for hubby's Torgier:


That, too, could be easily finished.  Or should I take something new??  I got a case of startitis this week and cast on for a baby afghan for our Pregnancy Care Center.  It's for charity, so of course that justifies anything – right? 


The only problem is that I used size 8 needles because my size 7's were engaged with another charity baby afghan.  I've decided that 8 is my breaking point for needle size.  Regrettably I think I am developing arthritis in my right hand.  I've been having a lot of pain in my index finger knuckle and have trouble gripping things.  This week hubby put in a lever type doorknob on the door to the garage because I was having trouble opening it.  Anything larger than a size 7 is really hard on my hands.  But on the positive side, lace knitting on teeny needles does not seem to be endangered.

The baby afghan on size 7's is also presenting its own set of problems:


Yes, it's lovely, but I can't tell you how many times I've ripped the dang thing!  The pattern is not that difficult, but I keep getting off on my stitch count.  Part of me says to just rip it and start over, the other says that I will not let a simple afghan defeat me and I must press on!!  The yellow one will be frogged to be started over on smaller needles – any votes on the fate of the the little hearts?  And while we're at it – any suggestions on your favorite baby afghan pattern?

We had a new little visitor at our bird feeder yesterday:


I know that squirrels are considered a real pest at feeders, but we get them so seldom and I'm inclined to think that they deserve a little snack now and then too.  We'll see how fast he goes through sunflower seeds.  He didn't seem too shy and let me get pretty close for a picture.

Two birthdays this week – Isobel turns 4!!!  How can that be?  And hubby turns the big 60.  How can than be??  I'm close behind him and find it hard to wrap my mind around that.  Neither of us feels 60 – except when trying to grip size 8 needles.  So – how old would you be if you didn't know how old you were??