Gemini Top

I knit this tank top using the Gemini pattern, written by Jane Richmond. You can find the pattern on Ravelry or on Knitty. I modified this top by removing the sleeves and shortening the torsos bit because I am petite. Normally the things I knit are not things I would wear but I really like how this turned out and can see myself wearing it in the summer. Naturally, this is the first chilly weekend of Autumn so I will likely not wear this until Spring.

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Life continues on. Work is great, then it’s stressful, then it’s great. The city I live in continues to become more and more dangerous. I am so pleased to have finished knitting something. I did not accomplish much this Summer, things just kept being postponed.

I hope all of you have a lovely Autumn. I am thinking that Darby might need a new sweater because the house is chillier than my apartment ever was.

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Clara

Well, it has been a long while since I last posted. I have not been writing patterns, living in this hot climate means that Darby rarely needs sweaters and work and travel has kept me quite busy.

I found some knitting that I have not posted about on a camera that was somehow not stolen when we were robbed a couple months ago. I was very fortunate that much of my jewelry was at my place and not Bill’s so that I still have it. My laptop and ipod and some jewelry at Bill’s were not so lucky. You really feel violated when the place you feel safe in has been ransacked. All my pictures are gone, that part really hurts.

Anywho, I saw this awesome advertisement in a knitting magazine and wondered for years what the pattern was and where to get it.

It is beautiful, right?

As it turns out, the pattern is by Isager and is only available through their website. In Danish. For 66 DKK, which must mean probably 80 or 90 US dollars.

I yearned after it for years.

Finally, our knitting group went to Stitches West, a knitting extravaganza held once a year not overly far from where we lived. At Stitches west was Isager, selling their yarn and if you bought enough they would give you a free pattern. Finally, I was able to get my pattern for Clara.

Clara comes in two sizes and I chose to do the larger as many Ravelry members who had knit it noted that the opening for the head is way to small to actually put over the head of a baby. In turn I made the opening in the back larger and added an extra button to close it. Usually I give my knitting away, I just like making things. This however, I am keeping in my knitting hope chest just in case I ever have my own little girl to swaddle in handmade love.

My Favorite Things About Summer

As a teacher I love summer. After 9 months of pressure and stress (this year I got lockjaw, hives, and muscle spasms from the pressures of teaching at my two schools) we finally have a chance to sleep in and do all the things we dream about. So far I have read 5 novels, visited Yosemite and Lake Tahoe and have finally finished a gorgeous piece of knitting named Clara (ravelry link, login required).

Clara

Besides being an absolutely adorable little dress the pattern in interesting. First, it is very difficult to find. You can only order it through Isager with the purchase of yarn. Secondly, the pattern has been used by three generations of knitters. I think it is wonderful that we can still appreciate a pattern that is 60-90 years old and view it as fresh and still in style.

Being out of work without the promise of a job to return to is stressful. When I thought that they would bring back the Art program and rehire the art teachers I felt very secure in my lack of a job and wasn’t worried. When I finally got the message that the school district had decided to bring us back I was relieved. Then I learned that the district did not intend to bring back ALL the art teachers, only 1/3 of them. This secured my position in the unemployment line and I totally freaked out. I had been talking about how great and stress free my life would be and how I could use unemployment until I found another position but I was totally full of false bravado. In reality, losing my job is terrifying. I look at every penny I spend and question when I will have a paycheck again.

Here is a picture of Fallen Leaf Lake, in Tahoe, to get our mind off of my woes.

Another gorgeous evening at Fallen leaf Lake

I feel better, how about you? I have gone for the past two years to Tahoe with my friend Jen. This year we were joined by 5 2 week old kittens. Jen found them right after school got out for the year, left in a ceramic pot in the garage of an abandoned house across the street from her school. She found an adorable little black kitten the day before that had one of it’s ears cut off by some mean-spirited (just plain evil) person. So 4x a day Jen and I (mostly Jen) helped the kittens potty and fed them.

Jen feeding one of the kittens.

While in Tahoe I cast on my newest project, a cardigan I hope to have done before I leave for the United Kingdom next week (cough, not going to happen). It is the Windsor Cardi from Knitscene Summer 2011. I like the grey but am still using up my stash yarn and have some very nice heathered blue with putple to use up.

Tomorrow I have a job interview, which is a miracle because with so many art teachers out of work I did not think I would be able to even get interviews. Wish me luck! Hopefully my new favorite part of summer (besides Europe) will be finding a fabulous new art job for the Fall!

Almost Finished, or Why Buttons are the Hardest Part

Below the pictures is my writing about suicide and grief, above the second picture is all about knitting, just so you know which part you are looking for.

Buttons add so much character to your sweater. If I choose moose buttons my sweater looks like it came from Montana (or somewhere else with moose in my much geographically challenged mind). If I choose plain buttons then they need to match the beautiful red-burgundy of the sweater, the color of rich red roses rather than cheap boxes of Valentines candy. Going to the craft store involved combing through a whole aisle of buttons, glass, plastic, polymer, metal, and many, many more plastic buttons. I looked at green ones, brass ones, pewter ones, wood ones. After much consideration and back and forth I chose these claddagh buttons, likely because I was feeling romantic and thinking about our summer plans to go to the United Kingdom.

Claddagh Buttons

I also am sewing ribbon onto the placket so that there is more stability in the button band. I haven’t done this before and now know that I should have bought the ribbon first so that it would be the same size as the button band. It is slightly thinner and as such may show a bit on top but now that I am basting it on much more loosely it looks much better. This will also help ensure that my buttons are secure. I read a tip on the Berroco site saying that the best thread for sewing on buttons is embroidery floss but I keep all mine at work (art teacher) and will just use red thread for now.

Button band

Today is a mental health day for me. I thought it was a vacation day and scheduled some appointments to meet with different mental health professionals today. Since it wasn’t actually a vacation day and I had appointments at the doctor and dental offices I chose to take a sick day rather than reschedule all three appointments. I’m telling you, dear reader, all this because I lost a brother to suicide 4 years ago and have finally decided to start dealing with all the grief and anxiety that comes with that. It is not easy to talk to people about this. Nor is it easy to find people who support people like myself. I don’t like to burden other people with my problems and so I tuck it away. The person i spoke with this morning says I need to talk to people about it and wanted to know if I have grieved properly.

What exactly is grieving properly? Can anyone do it? I have always felt like (and have even had people tell me) that I should be better by now and that it’s time to move on. No one can tell when it is time for anyone to be “finished” grieving and I think that when you lose someone to suicide that the grieving never really stops.  Attached to my grief is the loss of my stepmom and the guy I was engaged to leaving me, and all of it in 9 months. It makes me afraid that all that can happen again, at any time.

Now, I have a really great life. Or, to rephrase, I have a really great life now. But letting go of what’s happened in my past to my family has become a huge way of how I identify myself. It is beyond time I let that go. I’ve found a local group for people who have lost family to suicide and I even called and left a message and may go to a meeting because going to a regular grief or loss group they may not understand the tangled web that is loss to suicide.

It feels good to finally put my foot down and take steps to heal. I don’t know if anyone who ready my blog has ever been in this position but if so, I hope that you have already taken steps to heal or in reading this maybe I can encourage you to do what has taken me so long to begin to do.

Year-End knitting

The end of 2010 was so busy that knitting time was limited. Bill’s sister-in-law’s sister-in law (I know, a convoluted explanation of someone not related to me) had a baby just after Thanksgiving and upon realizing I would be seeing them over Christmas I knew I had, absolutely had, to knit their new baby girl something.

With less than 48 hours and absolutely no trips to the yarn store or time for poring over patterns, I pulled out something I love. I made little ladybug booties.

These booties are designed by Lucie Sinkler and can be found here or on Ravelry as Mary Jane Booties.

After finishing these and discovering I didn’t have any ladybug buttons for them (I had super-cute ones last time) I went back to the same craft store to get more only to discover that, gasp, they didn’t carry them any more. Now, for any knitter trying to finish a project 2 days before Christmas, this is a tragedy. However, a helpful lady came along. She was scouring the button racks for fish and while looking for my ladybugs I started looking for fish buttons for her as well. Neither of us being successful in our hunt we went our separate ways when I heard her call “Miss?” She had found different ladybug buttons over in the tie-dye and puff paint section!

Now, Christmas wasn’t the magical sparkly time I expected it to be, but I did enjoy it. I got to see family I had not seen in a couple years, drove a couple hundred miles, learned more of my family history and even got a real live tree. I did not get to meet the new little baby who so needed lady bug booties but I am hoping to see her some time this year.

My first project of the new year is the same project I have been working on since fall break in early October. Originally designed by Wendy Bernard in her book “Fitted Knits”, my version is really a heavily modified Wicked made into a cardigan.  I love the MIssion Falls 1824 wool and am disappointed to learn it has been discontinued.

My concern at the moment is that the ball you see in the picture is the second to last one. I don’t ‘know if I will have enough for sleeves, also, without the placket the sweater is very tight. I know it is supposed to be very snug, but I’m slightly concerned. I suspect that my 4 month investment may take a turn into the frog pond and then be reknit into something on slightly larger needles so it’s a little more drapey. Actually purchasing Ms. Bernard’s book may be in order, she has really beautiful stuff. Also, then I won’t run out of wool before sleeves are made any more.

In order for the new year, I have a personal goal that I don’t want to share but really want to share. Anyway, I’ve been dating the same sweet fella for 2 years and after a year a girl my age starts thinking seriously about things. After a year and a half a girl my age starts looking in windows at white dresses. At two years I started looking seriously at the calendar. At two and half years maybe it’s time to start looking at shotguns. If that isn’t a hint I don’t know what is.  My other goal is to use up the fabulous bulky alpaca yarn my sister sent me. I have 880 yards of it and high hope that will be enough to make a sweater before all the cold weather leaves for the year. Another goal for the year (since I’m sharing) is to lose 10 more lbs. Last summer I (with dr. support) lost 25 lbs or so and am thrilled at my fab new physique. But I also have hips that pop and a teensy bit of arthritis creeping into my 31 year old bones, so my goal is to take more weight off my hips so I can keep them for as long as possible. I don’t yet know why my hips like to pop out of socket, they have done it for 10 years but I am doing exercises to help hold them in place and am looking in to why they do it.

Hopefully next time there will be more knitting content. I hope you all enjoy the link to the Mary Jane Booties, as they are a free pattern!

Granite Circle Scarf

Granite Circle Scarf

While at the mall with my friend Robin watching her admire the scarves for sale I said “I can do that.” How many times have you done that, my knitterly friend? Having said that, she then said that her birthday was coming up that very month, the next week even.

With a mission in mind I headed home and raided my stash and stitch pattern book. 3 days later I had a foot of lacy scarf and no more yarn.

Having lost time knitting something that couldn’t possible work I started again, this time with 3 skeins of Bernat Roving and size 10 1/2 needles. 2 days later, I was ripping it out again.

With all this drama on and off my needles again and again I returned to the mall to check out the scarf competition again and I saw the most beautiful, smooshy, delightful, gray (my most favorite non-color) thing. It was at Gap and it was a cowl or a circle scarf or just amazing.

Gray Gap Scarf

I apologize for taking someone else’s picture, so I cropped it to hide her.

I want one just looking at it. I examined it in the store, took measurement guesses, examined the stitch (most likely just a moss stitch) and said “I can do this.”

Granite Circle Scarf

Materials

approx 360 yards of Bulky yarn (I used Bernat Roving,almost 3 skeins)

10 1/2 needles straight or a circular at least 18″ long

needle

Pattern

Row 1: k1, p1 across

Row 2: p1, k1 across

Row 3: p1, k1 across

Row 4: k1, p1 across

Gauge:

Gauge isn’t hugely important, but I got about 3 1/3 stitches to the inch.

This scarf comes out to be 12 inches wide and 4 feet long before it is sewn together.

Instructions

Cast on 40 stitches (or any even number of stitches around that). Follow  pattern as listed above until scarf is about 4 feet in length. Bind off. Fold scarf in half and sew the ends together (meaning the cast on end and the cast off end. Otherwise you would look like you were trying to put a giant straw on your head). Wear gloriously.

About sewing the edges together, I looked online for the best method of sewing the ends together and finally, just kinda sewed it up.

Praying for rain, sorta.

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Knitting and a Baby Bear

It has been so long since I have blogged on here that it’s almost like starting over. I am still knitting, albeit slowly. Darby does not have any new sweaters, she uses only 1 that I’ve made and I have lost many of the rest.

Currently on the needles I have a sweater inspired by Wendy Bernard‘s Favorite Cardigan. Rather than buying her book I thought I could do the sweater without using a pattern. Naturally, I was completely wrong. Upon realizing that I needed help in figuring out how to make a sweater, again, I went though the patterns that I do have and settled upon the Wicked pattern by Rachel Bishop.  I started with a smaller size than I normally would because the Plymouth 1824 wool I am using is a teensy bit thicker. Also, because I have lost some weight and have gone down a size or two. I cast on the number of stitches required and did the ribbing for the neck , turning and going back rather than connecting and knitting around. For the cables, I picked up a stitch dictionary and picked something that looked nice. I also elected to not add the cables on the arms because, well, I didn’t want the arms to be tight and look like sausages.

Here it is thus far. I am planning on doing some waist shaping at some point, maybe in the next inch or so. I’m petite, so the torso on most patterns needs to be shortened.

I have also been working on a scarf for a friend. We were out shopping and she was looking at scarves and I said something along the lines of  “I could make one of those.” Thanks to my big mouth, I am making her a scarf, but really, it’s because I love her and she is a great friend. I have so so so much yarn I didn’t want to go out and purchase more so I went through the various bits of  my stash squirreled away in various cubbies of my itty bitty apartment and found some nice smooshy yarn left over from a baby sweater. I figured a ball and a half would be nice. I started with a cabled design from my head but quickly realized the scarf would be the size of a handkerchief, so it was back to ravelry to find something quick, easy, and lacy to make a scarf as long as possible with less than 200 yards of yarn.

I chose the Diagonal Handspun Lace Scarf because it was a simple repeating pattern and could really stretch the use of the yarn. I’ve been working on it daily since Saturday and am pleased at how quickly it progresses. I worked on it at Bible Study, for which I should be ashamed but it helps me loosen up and participate more.

The yarn, Samoa, it delightfully smooshy and doesn’t seem to pill either. If this scarf turns out too short, which I suspect it might, it will be back to the stash to find something else. Sadly, the yarn shop in my town has closed so I would have to go to one of the chain stores to find yarn unless I want to go out of town to find nice yarn.

One of my coworkers brought me a bag of yarn and needles from a deceased relative, the yarn is all different acrylics, which is great for the kids, but better yet, were all the needles, a great big handful of 8’s, 9’s and 10’s. There are enough there to teach at least 10 kids to knit.

I went to Lake Tahoe with my newly wed friend Jen over the fall break. I have been to Tahoe a couple times since moving to Northern California but had never seen a bear there. Finally, on this trip I got to see a mother bear and her cub feasting on spawning salmon.

We also baited a trap to catch crawdads, which are amazing little things. I imagine them to be miniature little lobsters.

Darby came with, she stayed in her little pupsack when we were hiking and roamed the cabin and next to the lake when she could.