Wednesday, January 28

A Funky Wave Scarf

Always remember when you design something to write down how you do it! I thought I had kept good notes on how to knit this scarf. I really did. Turns out when I needed the pattern to knit a second scarf, my notes weren't that clear.

So, after re-engineering this pattern, I am offering it as a free pdf download through Ravelry. You can find the pattern for A Funky Wave Scarf by clicking on the underlined pattern name.

I originally knit this scarf as part of a hat and scarf set for a friend in January 2008. She loved it so much that she requested a second version in a different color. That's when I discovered that my pattern notes left a lot to be desired.

I had fun knitting this scarf. It's soft, flirty, and a little twirly. What's not to like?

This project is a good use for some of that novelty yarn that I know you have lurking somewhere in your stash. For the pink scarf I double stranded Hobby Lobby's Baby Bee Sweet Delight in Boo pink with Yarn Bee Featherwisp in Sassy. It took about 230 yards of each on size 11 needles.

Featherwisp is an interesting 2 ply yarn. One ply is a soft eyelash yarn and the other ply is a shiny flag/railroad type of yarn. Together they form a fun yarn with a little shine and a fuzzy halo. Paired with the sport weight pink yarn, it makes for a cuddly soft scarf.

I'll try to get someone to model the scarf so I can post a better picture. I don't think my cats would be very cooperative models. LOL!

Wednesday, January 21

Fun at the retreat

My fiber arts group held a day long retreat on January 17 from 10 am to 5 pm on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. This was our first time to try an all day event.

Chris organized the event and I helped her out where I could. There was a lot of details to handle. Next time, we'll recruit more help to share the work. Chris didn't have time to knit a stitch at the retreat. I only got as far as demoing the cast on for the shawl class. So much for packing my knitting projects with me. :-) We're not complaining though, we had a blast!

About 14 members of our group braved the weather. Even though it was still cold and snowy, it was much warmer than it had been the previous two days. Once inside, you completely forgot about the cold and snow outside.

The first order of business was checking everyone in and handing out goodie bags. Here's the table with the fun stuff. Everyone got a canvas tote bag. We're working on transfer for the bags. The weather played havoc with getting anything done in the week leading up to the retreat. I whipped up some beaded row counters and packaged up some favors with treats and surprises. Carol contributed some de-lish chocolate covered pretzels with almonds and M&Ms she had made. And, of course, we had to have a skein of novelty yarn for the bags. What's a goodie bag without novelty yarn? LOL! Though we gave everyone their choice from the pile on the table.

We had two vendors. Jenny from Winterhaven Fiber Farm was there to sell felting kits, spinning fiber, and hand dyed yarn. That's her spinning on her Majacraft Little Gem wheel. (She's my spinning wheel dealer.) Nancy from Oak Meadow Alpacas had alpaca products such as socks, woven scarves, and spinning fiber. Several people purchased alpaca socks. And do you think I could stop myself from indulging in some spinning fiber and yarn? :-) Both vendors donated a door prize for our drawing.

Sandy in my group was selling the cutest little knitting totes she had sewn. See the pic? It's 6" high and 5" along each side--just the right size to carry a small project. It even has a pocket inside. The handles are a long loop and a short one. Slip the long one through other one to close the bag. You can slip the long loop over your wrist to carry it. It's reversible too so you can show off the pretty fabric inside. Of course, I had to buy one. (Want one for yourself? I don't blame you! Go to Sandy's blog and ask about them or find her on Ravelry as Moonlightserenad.)

Lunch in the dining hall was included with our admission fee. It was fabulous! The food was all-you-can-eat with little stations for all kinds of different foods. I don’t think I saw all that was on offer even though I went back a second time. Everyone’s trays were groaning. We all were too after eating lunch. LOL!

Then back upstairs for some fun classes in knitting backwards, weaving on a triangle loom, and a shawl class for my new (and yet to be released) shawl pattern. That's Jess standing up showing all of us how to knit backwards. Too soon it was time to give out the door prizes and wish everyone goodbye.

Seven hours seems like a lot but it flew by quickly! Everyone had a great time and were all asking as they left when we were going to do it again! We'll wait until warmer weather before the next one.

Sunday, January 18

Coldest week of the year!

I can't disagree with that statement! Thursday our low was -19 and the high was -3. Staying inside was the only option. To keep my feet warm in the house I had on wool socks, wool Dzonba slippers and a pair of regular slippers. A shawl to keep my shoulders warm was necessary as was the afghan covering my lap as I worked on it.

Here's a picture of our thermometer from Thursday morning. See in the lower right corner that the outside temp was -18 at 9:57 in the morning?

I've created a photo montage of the snow of our patio table. Left to right are Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. How much snow have we had? I've given up measuring.

Today, the sun is peeking out and the temps are in the 20's. The roads are melting for the first time in a week and we're starting to see a little bare pavement. Hey, two tire tracks down the road get me excited after a week of snow and ice packed roads.

One thing we've been doing this week is looking at seed catalogs. We'd like to get our garden seed order in soon. The Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog arrived on one of the coldest days this week. A friend told us about this company. They carry lots of heirloom and open pollinated varieties (no hybrids). We'll definitely be ordering from them. What other seed catalog do you know that has 3 pages of eggplant seeds to choose from; carrots in white, yellow, and purple; 10 pages of summer and winter squash, and 8 pages of melons from uncommon bitter or snake melons to common water and muskmelons. How about vegetables grown by Thomas Jefferson or beans brought over on the Mayflower? I'm enjoying reading the descriptions of each variety as I choose varieties we might like. I look for flavor, productivity, and disease resistance. Our garden is always colorful though this one may rival any past garden. I do know that the veggies we will grow this year will be much more colorful and flavorful than any you will find in a commercial supermarket.

It's been a relief to look at something other than snow. While read these catalogs, I'm dreaming of warmer weather. Hubby has already plotted out where things will be planted in our veggie garden this year.

Someone posted a comment asking how we deal with this weather? We are used to it being cold and snowy in the winter. Though it's been 9 years ago since it was this cold. We've been spoiled the last few years with less harsh winters. (It was a nice change!) In January 2007 we had no snow and temps in the 50's (F). It felt odd. Even though the calendar (and my body) knew it was winter, the temps and outdoors looked more like fall. Shortly after the Martin Luther King holiday winter kicked in with a vengeance. It was short that year. Normally, our winter weather kicks in at the end of November around Thanksgiving and lasts through February. By March, things are improving. This year we had a 70 degree day in early November before we slid directly into winter and have stayed there ever since. I have to say that we've had more ice this winter than I can remember. One ice storm a season is more than enough. This year, I've lost count of the ice, sleet, and freezing rain we've had. I'll take snow over ice any day!

Heavy coats, wool hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and boots help us get through this. A down comforter on the bed at night helps too. If the roads are too bad I stay home. I can drive in these conditions. It's other drivers who continue to drive as if the pavement is clear and dry that worry me. I don't want to be their target when they can't stop on a dime. Though a foot of snow on the ground won't close our area down. We know how to deal with it. I like the change of seasons we get here though I am more than ready for spring to arrive.

Wednesday, January 14

A picture tells the tale

My younger brother's birthday is today. (Happy birthday, Terry!) His birthday always seems to fall during the coldest week of the year. This year is no exception. Last night, the low was zero; tonight below zero, and it will continue this way through Friday. Highs will be in the teens or single digits. It has been snowing for days with more on the way.

We were under a blizzard watch yesterday. It's the first time I've ever heard of such a thing! Today we're under a lake effect snow warning. With 12 inches of snow already on the ground, we do not need more. The only positive thing about all this snow is that it will help insulate the plants. One year when it got bitter cold, we only had a few inches of snow on the ground. That spring, my forsythia bloomed only where the branches were under the snow. It was odd seeing yellow flowers blooming near the ground but not on the rest of the bush.

Here's a pic through my patio door. Brr!! See that mountain of snow on the table? That's Pookie sitting there looking forlornly out the window. He's wishing for spring so he can go outside to run and play. Boo is in hibernation mode. He's given up on the weather getting better. He loves to burrow under the down comforter on our bed. It's much too cold and snowy for kitties to go outside (or to lure me into leaving the warmth of our home). A seat near the dancing flames in our wood pellet stove with knitting in my hands is the best place to be on a day like today. I feel for the birdies and other critters who live outside when it is so cold. Birds perch on chimneys trying to stay warm or hide inside evergreens where the snow on their branches may help insulate them from the wind and cold. Hubby filled the bird feeder before he left for work this morning. Between the birds, squirrels, and the deer, it was empty.

The scrap hexagon blanket is coming along. It is now big enough to keep my legs and lap warm as I work on it. I've put it aside to work on some warm weather gear for me. Recently while visiting a local yarn shop, the owner ribbed me for wearing a purchased hat and gloves. That's bad when you are a knitter! Last night, I finished a pair of fuzzy mittens just for me. I used the Mittenz pattern by Knitting Nonni. These sideways garter stitch mittens use a unique construction method. They remind me of Elizabeth Zimmermann's patterns. (How do they ever come up with these things? LOL!) I used about 110 yards of Mission Falls wool (worsted weight) and a carried along a fuzzy nylon yarn. They were a quick and easy knit. The downside was all the seaming. If I make these again, I may experiment to see if these is a way to avoid some of the seaming. There is enough of the Mission Falls yarn left for a tam/beret. The pattern is all picked out and waiting for me to cast on. I'm hoping to get it finished to wear to my fiber art group's retreat on Saturday.

Yes, we're having an all day retreat on Saturday. My friend, Chris, organized it. I get to go play with my friends all day to knit and spin. Happy dance! Lunch and a choice of several free classes are included in the admission charge. I'll be teaching a shawl class featuring a shawl design that has yet to be released for sale. This is the first time our group has tried something like this. I have my fingers crossed it will be the first of many to come!

Friday, January 9

Another scrap blanket

I should have a new shawl design to be released later this month. It is currently out being test knitted.

Winter's hand continues to have us in its grip. We did get a few sunny and snow free days after Christmas. This was a relief after so much bad weather.'s back at it again. The forecast is for 3-6 inches of snow by Saturday morning. Early next week could bring an Arctic front with below zero temps and more snow. Alaska is generously sharing some of their bitter cold. Brr! I can't wait for spring and warmer temps. For now, I will have to content myself with looking at seed catalogs and putting together a seed order for our garden.

I've been on a use-up-the-scrap acrylic yarn binge and crocheting afghans. This has the added advantage of keeping my lap warm as it grows. :-) The one I am making now is from the January/February 09 issue of Crochet Today (pg. 26) called a Fireside Throw. It's a simple 3 row hexagon, join-as-you-go blanket. No sewing up to be done at the end. Though I did run into a problem---I could not get the third row to lay flat. It ruffled. :-( So I am doing one less dc in each space and shell in the third round than the pattern says. (Maybe I could have got it to work if I had gone up several hook sizes than recommended though this may well have made the rest of the hexagon too loose.)

The joining instructions are both written and charted. It took me some time to wrap my brain around them. After doing a few joins, I realized that I was getting unacceptably large gaps. (If you look closely at the picture in the magazine, you'll see what I mean. You don't want holes large enough to stick your big toe through! See my thumb waving through the gap in this pic?) My advice---skip the chains at the corners and work a sc into both neighboring corners before finishing the corner shell. (See how this method looks in this pic? Click if you'd like a closer look.) Also snug up your other sc joins. This makes a much more secure join at the corners with less of a gap. Otherwise, as heavy as this blanket will be, the joins will stretch making even bigger holes.

This is working up slowly as it takes time to choose colors for each round. I make a bunch of motifs with only 2 rounds, choose a color for the 3rd round, and then join a bunch at a time. (Please remember to tuck your yarn ends as you go. Believe me, you will be saying lots of bad words if you wait to do this at the end.)