Friday, December 10, 2010

So I've Been a Little Busy...

IT'S ALMOST HERE!!! No, not Christmas (though it's causing me no little angst), but COMMENCEMENT.

I finished my final paper; the book is due on Monday from the publisher. Our presentation is Tuesday. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I can smell the diploma cover. This weekend, I'm taking the cap and gown out of the box and hanging it up to "unwrinkle."

2010 Ornaments
But lest you think I've been "all work and no play," I can tell you what I've gotten done for Christmas. My baking is woefully behind, but here are the ornaments I made for the nieces and nephews.  If you want an up-close view, click on the picture - you should also be able to zoom in a bit.

As you can see, the list is getting a little smaller. I'm still not sure if I'll do ornaments for my nephew's coming baby. The issue isn't necessarily the painting. It's the getting of the ornaments! I had to buy out what I could get my hands on, and it looks like, if I do decide that, I ought to go buy more. Luckily, we know it's a boy, so I could technically pick up 18 of the same thing and just vary the paint schemes. I usually try to do that anyway. See the little angel with the star? That's my niece's - she's gotten an angel in some format since I've been painting them for her. I can't always do that, so the kids get what I can get my hands on.

And of course, there's the knitting. Today I learned a new skill: double-pointed needles, also known as DPNs. It's kind of like wrestling an octopus. And not only that, they were size 3.... like knitting with toothpicks considering that the baby afghan is on a set of size 8s and my "foofy" shawl (still on the needles, by the way) is on size 10s.

Still on DPNs

I was at the LYS today and I needed the respite. I've worked a truckload of hours this week including the homework stuff, and I just needed my "fiber" today. As I was rearranging my office closet, which has once again, despite my best efforts, become Christmas Central, I found the baby alpaca hat I started what? Two years ago? I thought it was lost, but hey, there it was! It was in my "Sisters of St. Benedict" bag. As the pattern progresses, you go from 16" circulars to DPNs when necessary. I figured I needed expert help. I kind of got the hang of it right away. This shot shows the hat still on the DPNs.  You can see that I'm nearing the point where I can just pull the yarn through and quit. When I was at the LYS, we were looking at buttons. It's a lovely yarn, but the hat is plain. I thought a button that I could put off-centered on my head when I wear it would be a nice touch - or maybe 3 buttons in a cluster would be nice. I can bring it in next week and see what looks good. As I progressed, though, I think  something went slightly awry in the pattern. It was supposed to be a flat-topped hat. Well.... It's not. As you can see by this picture, there's a little "nose" on the hat. No phallic jokes, please!! I really don't even like tassels, but I figured this puppy needed some help.

Finished hat matches my snow jacket

Here are the yarn and pattern specs: I bought both from Chix with Stix, located at - you should check their website; it's awesome, and they have great specials. Anyway, my friend Sue hooked me up (ba-dum-dum) with them when we went on a little jaunt, so I figured I could get input into the stash. The store is in a lovely historic shopping district; the floors creak invitingly when you come in, and the staff are a friendly bunch. Too far away for me to make it my LYS, but hey - you never know when you'll want to take a drive to go play with yarn.

Well. I'm a "yarn snob" apparently! OK, I earned that.  So here are the details. The pattern is "Whimsical Hats" by Linda Niemeyer, out of Blue Sky Alpacas, - another great spot to explore on your web wanderings. The yarn? Come on, you can guess.  Blue Sky Alpaca, of course. Sport weight 100% baby alpaca. I was diving for the pale blue, wearing my blue & periwinkle jacket, when one of the Chix said, "Hey, that grape matches your coat." Which it did! In spite of the "grape" moniker, it is more periwinkle. Click on the picture to see it up close.

Baby alpaca, at least this stuff, is hand wash or dry clean only. Since the hat is for me, I'm fine with that. I can take care of my own stuff!! Each ball is about 110 yards, the hats take about 2 balls, and I used size 3 needles. The pattern is a cute one; you have the flat-topped hat that I somehow failed to make, and then 3 "lengths" of stocking cap. I can see myself making the middle-sized one for my Hubby.

 I can tell you that I think I screwed up the decreases. And I need to fiddle with knitting in the round more. I had a mental-pause and couldn't get my markers right. Also, I think I was a "tad" stressed, because as I progressed with the DPNs, the stitches got tighter. I'm not a tight knitter --- I think I was afraid I was going to drop something. As a hint, use bamboo needles your first time out. They "grip" a bit and you won't scare yourself silly.

I don't normally wear hats; I'm an earmuffs kind of gal. But THIS hat matches so well that I think I'll break tradition and use it often.

What's your favorite hat pattern? And how are your holiday plans coming?

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