Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hats and Stuff...

As I said, I am posting pictures of the hats and the headband I'm now working on.

(left is for Kid #1, right is for Kid #2)
I took them off the blocking board and they're just what I wanted. I think each kid will be pleased with them, and I think each colorway reflects the appropriate kid.

As I worked on Kid #2's hat, I figured out some things I would change, which were then implemented in Kid #1's hat. In the picture on the pattern, the braiding looked "beefier" and more masculine. In Kid #2's hat, it's a little skimpy, even though I used EXACTLY the yarn and number of strands they specified. Maybe, if I do this again, I'll beef it up myself.

So for Kid #1, I did I-cord for the ties and braids at the top. And the downside of that I-cord is that the braids were easier to attach! I also contemplated a picked-up I-cord border, but when I was at that point, the LYS was closed and I couldn't even get The Google to show me how to do that!! So his edging is the same. I am afraid he will just have to live with it.

Here's a shot of what the crown of #2's hat looks like. I like the fact that the blue bands pull out the blues in the variegated yarn. I am not completely pleased with the "jog" in the color changes, but the next time, I'll have time to work on the "jogless join" technique.
Frankly, even though the pattern said "easy" I wasn't completely sure how long these would take to make. Honestly? Even though I'm somewhat of a slower knitter, they took me less than a month, which means for a knitter who is at "normal" speed, probably 2 weeks if you have a full-time job and knitting gets stuck in where you can. For the speed knitters, perhaps a long weekend? I'll never know that! LOL
So here's a shot of the more subtle colors for #1. The grey/cocoa color doesn't really pull out any of the variegated tones, but it all blends nicely. Kid #1 is kind of quiet; he prefers subtle. Kid #2 teaches high school, so you know he's got to have a "larger" personality! I have enough of each of the variegated + the other colors to do sideways scarves for each kid, too. I'm not sure if men do matchy-matchy, but I figure I have to use up the yarn somehow. I can also make the wrist warmers they've been asking for.
Or, I could do the hats, just reversing the colors - and give them to charity. The yarn is Cascade Superwash, and if I had my knitting notebook here, I'd give you the colorways. Just suffice to say that Cascade Superwash is great stuff. It's not overly bulky, but it'll be very warm for them. And if it gets tossed in the wash, it won't be a "Barbie hat" -- they do their own laundry, and sometimes things get a little confused! (Pink jockey shorts, anyone??)

Here is the "hat" or headband I'm making for the GF too. It's out of the yarn from The Sweater...but a different color. She's a light blonde, so this will look very nice on her. (OK, as a side note, WHY is Blogger switching my settings every time I post a picture? It's VERY annoying!!)
The green color is springy - this isn't a winter hat. It's more of a headband and it showcases a provisional cast-on (that blue part at the bottom. You work this part to about 9.5" and then do the shaping, adding an I-cord. Then you pull out the provisional, and pick up the stitches to shape that side. At first, I was a little boggled, but it occurred to me that it all made sense about 2 a.m. one morning. Yeah, I know - I really need a full night's sleep sometime soon!

The headband is in a nice rice stitch, and the side detail is interesting. For the RS rows, WYIB, you slip 3 stitches, then start your K1, P1 row. For the WS rows, WYIF, you slip 3 stitches, then start your P1, K1 row. Always slipping the stitches purlwise works out to this lovely rounded border you see. This yarn is hand washable, and as long as she doesn't wear globs of goop in her hair, it shouldn't be something that needs to be tossed in the washer or the Woolite every week. I may actually get her a bottle of "Soak" and put that in the gift bag. Soak is what my LYS carries instead of Eucalan. Same principle: soak the stuff, wring and block or lay flat. No rinsing required. And the Soak comes in several nice scents.
One thing for sure, this project is working out nicer than The Sweater. I love the touch of "sparkle" in with the spring-ish tones of the greens. It will stripe, but then, it's not like anyone ever said, "Oh, horizontal stripes on my hat make my head look fat!"
I have the afghan squares at work; I decided that they would make a great "lunch" project, and frankly, work will be the only place I actually get them done. I have to lay out what we have already and figure out what we need and also if we're too heavy on some colors. It's for elkhound rescue, so if it's a lot of grey - what can you say? They're grey dogs!
After the headband, I can start one of the sweaters or one of the shawls I have planned. I talked it over with Hubby, who's now *almost* aware of the extent of my Stash (yeah, I know - but we're cool with it because HIS stash of electronic equipment staggers the mind). Anyway, we thought that it might be good to just pull one project and work it from start to finish, regardless of how long it took. I was aiming toward "work on a project for a month, then pull another one out of stash" -- and I can still do that if it looks like it's going to take longer than I'll be alive to get a dent in The Stash. Like one of my quilter friends said, "I have enough fabric for now, said no quilter - ever." Substitute yarn for fabric and you've got me covered!
Well, I'd better get myself to work and clear off a spot on my desk. I'd rather be knitting. But I have to pay for The Stash somehow!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THREE More Off The List...

The bolero is DONE!! And it FITS!! And I wore it last night. Whew.

So it's Knit One Crochet Too cotton, and I did it in a different colorway than they specified. I'd love to do another one in a solid color, maybe in one of their wools. The pattern is Yin Yang Bolero, and you can find it at your LYS or on Ravelry.

Here's the "pile of color" that was about the mid-way point. The colorways were similar, and I was looking for a "beachy" feel to it. Remarkably (why am I surprised?), this garment is HEAVY. Cotton weighs a ton and I can see why the Blueberry t-shirt I've got on the needles will be interesting to wear - I think I'll have to have a tank or camisole under that one!

The garment knitted up very quickly, even with a couple of additions insofar as adding some additional rows on the bottom to get a tad more length, and adding a few more rows at the shoulder to widen up the arms. The T-construction is quite simple, and once I got the hang of the weaving, the seaming up the sides was quick. A little quirky at the "rounded" part of the armhole, but I can't figure out how to do it any other way. I'm sure there is another way, but I wasn't going to futz with it.

Here's the completed bolero, front and back. I wore it with khakis and a white t-shirt. I have a purple shirt that kind of resembles the "heather" look of the purple on the bolero, but I thought it would pop better with the white. I guess that I could also wear it with black, and of course with a long-sleeved shirt, too.

I need to work on my posture... I like the way the blues and blue-greens blended here. And you know I'm a purple-nut, so it was nice to see the frankly purple areas and the more subdued periwinkle tones. This was pretty straightforward, mindless knitting in a plain stockinette pattern. The yarn did the work, and I just had to pay attention to some increases and decreases, plus areas where you cast on at the end of the row. Doing it again, I'd probably use a cable cast-on, but for this one, I think I did a backward loop.

Here's a shot of the fish button. The vertical buttonhole works marvelously, just have to remember to go "tail first" with the button so it lays right. All I did for that was run two lengths of yarn through the buttonholes separately and knot them in the back.

I'll be uploading a few of these pics to my Ravelry page, and I'm so tickled that I can "cross this off" and move on to some of the other patterns I've been itching to start. Patience, right? My friend Sue is fond of quoting "Patience obtaineth all things." But she's one of those quirky crocheters who only works on one piece at a time, and doesn't have a stash! She calls me a "yarn snob" but that's ok. Her only real fault is that she's a White Sox fan...I can live with that, though. LOL

Oh, and I guess I should mention that BOTH earflap hats are done. No pics; they're on the blocking board, so I have to get that taken care of in the next day or so. For Kid #1, he has I-cords. Kid #2 got braids. Honestly, I do like Kid #1's hat better - the colors are subdued. What I did wrong with them is that I picked up too many stitches around the earflaps for the edging, so they kind of "bow" out a bit, but I don't think it's a huge deal.

So now I'm just working on afghan squares. I need to pull out the headband for Kid #1's girlfriend; that should work up quickly. And the sweater that was originally for me? I'm so scared that it won't even go together that I may shove it in a bag, stick it in the yarn closet and let it marinate till I have more courage to face my obvious screw-up. Sometimes, you just need to let things get space and perspective. Right off the needle, the thing may have ended up in the trash. I spent a good chunk of money on it, so I'm hoping it goes together. But right now, I don't think I could tolerate it if it doesn't work out right. Perhaps a bit of meditation over my most expensive hank of yarn. Some deep breathing. Some prayer and definitely a plea to the Knitting Godesses...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

So Now? Go Get Involved!

I stayed up way too late watching Bill Clinton's speech. He was his usual mesmeric self, but then I got to thinking.

Here's the YouTube of Bill's speech (click on his name - I've provided the link there) if you haven't seen it. Take a look. Forewarning - he went well over his 20 minutes (who set THAT time limit?), but it's 48 minutes worth of facts, outlining what successes President Obama has had, and dismantling the lies of the Republican Party's platform, as well as a reprimand on the "we don't need no stinkin' fact checkers" plank in the Republican platform -- it's not actually a plank, but it's apparently the nails holding that platform together.

I love the fact that it's "arithmetic." In my planet, 2 + 2 = 4. It always has, even after my advanced Finance courses, where you were given multiple reasons why 2 + 2 "doesn't necessarily" need to = 4, given certain circumstances. Which is why I hated those Finance classes!

Anyway, after outlining the case for President Obama and the need for a second term, including the statement that "no president, not me nor any of my predecessors, could clean up the mess President Obama was left with in 4 years," he went after and explained all the garbage the Conservatives tossed around in Tampa. And he also explained in a clear and cogent manner some policies which confused academics - people that study this stuff - not to say that it also would confuse the average voter. Big Bill brought it to a sensible, level field where the policy wonks got their groove on, and the average American who doesn't study white papers as a matter of course could understand this stuff without feeling belittled.

So now what? Yeah, Michelle Obama was stunning. Elizabeth Warren? I swear, if she doesn't get elected, Massachusetts needs its collective head examined! (And may I admit that I had to double-check that'd think being from Illinois would mean that I'm ok with weird-looking names for states...)

But Bill ruled the night. And now WE need to do something. There was an overwhelming feeling that Clinton's speech "clinched" the election - even some Republicans admitted that. But his speech alone won't do it without us voting and participating.

Please don't sit on your laurels (or whatever you sit on) and think, "Ok, this is a no-brainer - he'll get in." Because he won't - without work. There are still states repressing the vote. There are disenchanted voters who need reminding of where we don't want to go. There are populations who need help getting to the polls.

Do something to help get the word out and Get the Vote Out.... Volunteer to be a poll watcher; go door-to-door or make phone calls. Write letters to the editor. Help register voters where you can. Remind people of early voting if it's available in your area. Just DO SOMETHING and don't sit on your rear end thinking "someone else..." We can't win if we don't vote. We can't win if people sit at home assuming "Someone else will be voting, volunteering, doing." That someone? It's YOU. Y-O-U.

Paraphrasing the Big Dawg, "it's a long, hard road." We all have to work hard to get where we need to be. As a nation, we didn't do it ourselves. We did it together. And we will still be the "greatest nation" if we continue to do it together.