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Archive for the ‘In-Progress Projects’ Category

Guilty Pleasures – Twilight

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My husband must really really love me.

He is voluntarily entering a lair of, I quote, “the piercing squees of a thousand ‘tween and teenage girls obsessed with being bitten by a hot vampire” this Friday on my behalf.

Aww, twue wuv.

It feels like such a guilty pleasure admitting that I read the Twilight series. I’m not the most main-stream girl to begin with, but for some reason this latest interest of mine feels a bit embarrassing.  At first I told myself I was just curious to see what the buzz was about. Then I read the first book, and was a little shell-shocked. For some reason the over-the-top melodrama and obsessive longing (emo much?) of the main characters didn’t make me want to hurl, so I quickly sped through the rest of the series. There’s just something about the characters that gets under your skin. They feel very familiar, and the writing style is intimate.

So in honor of the new movie I’m writing a pattern for the mittens that Bella wears in Twilight. They appear to be soft and warm, and while the pattern isn’t difficult it is fun in that they are so very long, going almost up to the elbows.

Its hard to see the details of them even when enlarged, because the grey stitches don’t exactly pop out at you. I’m pretty sure that there are ten repeats of the main pattern on the top of them though. I’m writing the pattern as I make them, so I should have it up soon!


Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

November 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Humor, In-Progress Projects

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Orangey Goodness

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I am seriously digging the color orange lately, and I think its because it reminds me of my kids. They both have that lovely reddish-orange colored hair, and it just makes me feel warm when I wear orange.

I finished the body of Jamie’s Pumpkin Sweater, and made a few changes to the pattern as I went.He’s a very long baby, so I extended the length. I’m already knitting the 12 month size and he fits into 9 month clothes easily. Hopefully with the extra length on it, he can wear the sweater all winter long. My kids are tall but not very roly-poly Gerber-esque.

I also tried something new on the shoulders. Instead of binding them off and seaming them together later,  I left the stitches liveon top and kitchener stitched them together. I’m not sure if I’ll like the effect once its worn, but for now I’m loving the abilty to avoid a lumpy seam.

I stopped in at Knit’N from the ❤ on Saturday and picked up some more Happy Feet sock yarn. This time I’m making myself a pair of socks, and the way its gotten cold so quickly this winter has only made me wish more often that I had a stash of handknit socks. No time like the present to get started on that, right?

I immediately gravitated towards this lovely colorway in orange and reds. The picture really doesn’t do the colors justice, as usual. I know I should be all avant-garde and pick a fancy sock pattern, but I know I’ll get more use out of a plain stockingette sock. Although I wonder if a waffle-stitch sock would be too much work…I’ll have to get back to ya.

Tomorrow I’ll post the first part of my Bella’s Mittens pattern. Stay tuned!

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

November 16, 2008 at 11:36 pm

Fall FOs

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It’s finally my favorite season! Going back to work has been really difficult, and it’s already been a month. It feels like I’m burning the candle at both ends, but what can you do really? Hopefully we can fall into some sort of routine soon so that we aren’t all so exhausted.

I finished the RNC socks for Aidan, and RNC booties for Jamie a while back and never got around to posting about it. I took some pictures with our crappy camera today, and wanted to throw the damn thing off of the balcony. Come payday I’m buying a Canon PowerShot A590 IS. I originally had wanted to save up for a DSLR, but with the economy the way it is, and how we’re struggling just to pay for necessities like groceries and gas, I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. They’re only little once, so I want to actually get a few pictures that are in focus before he’s a toddler!

RNC Booties
Plymouth Yarns Happy Feet
Needles: US 1 circular

Notes: Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a picture of a baby’s feet that doesn’t blur? This pattern is great as long as you catch the errors posted below. Supposedly they are guaranteed to stay on, but Jameson inevitably kicked his off. I did put a pair of socks on under them one day, and they stayed on pretty well though.

This yarn is a joy to work with, and the colors are very vivid even in the dark colorway. I haven’t used a lot of sock yarn, so I don’t know if this its normal for it to fuzz and pill up so much. I shaved the pills off before taking these pictures, and he’s only worn them a few times. The way the colors alternate so frequently is gorgeous though, and almost worth it. And isn’t the baby quilt my MIL made awesome?

RNC Socks
Yarn: Plymouth Yarns Happy Feet
Needles: US 1 circular

Notes: I love this pattern! So easy to follow, so well written! These were my first cuff-down socks, and I liked the logic of the heel better than toe-up. It just seems to go faster. I did knit the second sock in a bit tighter gauge, but I figure they’re going to stretch out and be washed anyways. Plus, Aidan is 7 years old. It’ll be a miracle if he can wear them longer than a few months before outgrowing them.

I’m currently working on a pumpkin hat and sweater for Jameson in time for our yearly Fall family trip. I’m using Cascade 220 for the first time, and I love it! I can see why it’s so popular with the lovely stitch definition and lack of pilling. I searched all over for a cute pumpkin-themed sweater, but there aren’t really any. I’m thinking  of designing something with fair-isle vines when I have some time, but right now I just want to finish the sweater before next Friday. This is what I have so far, and I really like the way the sweater is designed so that you don’t have to seam the back and fronts sides.

Pumpkin Sweater (aka Garter Ridge Baby Cardigan)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Orange
Needles: US 5 circular

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

October 10, 2008 at 11:45 pm

5 Commandments of Sock Knitting

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Yeah yeah, I know I make too many lists. But its fun, so if they bore you, you’re reading the wrong blog!

5 Commandments of Sock Knitting

1. Do not select a complicated or lacy pattern for your first socks. It just gives you a headache on top of all the other techniques that you have to learn for socks.

2. Do not select an extremely stringy yarn for your first pair of socks. Learning the sock techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take time. It’ll just make the whole project seem harder than it really is if you have a ridiculously small gauge. Had I known this, I would have made Worsted Weight socks for my first go for more instant gratification!

3. Do not use a combination of lacey sock pattern and brightly variagated yarn. You’ll end up losing your pattern in the rainbow of colors. Solid colors work better for lacy and cabled patterns. Variegated colors work better in simple stocking socks.

4. Do not expect to finish a pair of socks quickly, just because they are a small item. You are basically knitting with toothpicks, and the gauge takes time no matter how fast a knitter you are. When you throw in using the magic loop method or dpns for the first time, you are going to end up reknitting many parts over and over again until you get it right. Let’s not even talk about Second Sock Syndrome.

5. Do not attempt to knit socks without moral support from knitters and non-knitters alike. Friendly knitters should be consulted frequently for advice and problem-solving. Friendly non-knitters should bring you beer and chocolate whenever you throw your sock across the room in disgust. In fact, let’s just make an addendum of “Thou shalt not knit socks unless you hit a two beer minimum.”

That being said….I broke each and every one of those rules, and it shows. It took me 8 months to finish these damn socks, and they are definitely not my favorite FO to date. I ended up hating the yarn texture/weight, even though the colors were what drew me to them. And I now know that my gauge was horribly, HORRIBLY off. So please, gentle readers, learn from my mistakes.

Widdershins Socks
Yarn: South West Trading Company TOFUtsies
Needles: US 1 circular

Notes: I actually did these both at the same time on one circular. I didn’t enjoy working with this yarn, and I think that made the project more tedious. Its a beautiful yarn, but really really thin and stringy. I wish I had used sharper pointed needles than my addis.

The finished sock was much warmer than I anticipated, but less stretchy as well. I added a band of elastic in the cuffs, and made it an ankle sock since I got bored with making them. They do wash up really well and I even tossed them in the dryer with no problem. Unfortunately they are a bit loose, but not bad for a first-time attempt.

I am now attempting my second pair of socks, and am much much happier with the results so far. Using the right yarn for the right project makes all the difference in the world. This is going so fast, that I anticipate being done with them by the end of the weekend at latest.

Please note that I have not yet fulfilled the addendum. Hence, I shall strive to find a second beer posthaste.

I also stopped by “Once Upon a Child” today, and found the most adorable swing. $40 for a hardly-used swing that retails at $100. The complimentary baby ain’t bad either.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

August 28, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Woe is me

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Excuse me while I have my own private little tongue-in-cheek pity party. The summer is becoming a blur, and I feel like I can’t fit everything in.

5 Reasons I am not posting all the cool stuff I’ve finished/working on:

1. My poor boobs are decimated from nursing a squawking (but cute) piglet of a child. And everyone knows that you knit with your breasts. Duh.

Mommy says Im just big-boned.

"Mommy says I'm just big-boned."

2. The sleep deprivation from having a 6 week-old has gotten to the point where I’m not really sure if I’m awake or asleep. I’m not even sure if I’m really posting this right now.

3. The cats have revolted because the new baby is getting more snuggle time than they are, and have taken my laptop hostage.

Pet me or suffer the consequences!

"Pet me or suffer the consequences!"

4. My husband politely reminded me that it’s been quite a while (wink wink, nudge nudge), and promptly locked me in the bedroom with a gleam in his eye.

5. The camera is chock-full of “baby’s first…” pictures, and the memory card can’t hold another pixel. All I’m saying is if you hear rumors of “Baby’s First Stink Eye” pictures, I plead the fifth.

* * * *

But seriously, my maternity leave is winding down pretty quickly, and I’ll be going back to work in a couple weeks. I’m trying to squeeze as much quality family time in as I can before school/work start up again. We spent last week in Milwaukee visiting my parents and it was nice to see everyone and have so much help with the kids. Plus it’s always so much fun seeing my parents enjoy their grandkids.

I’m so proud of how Aidan has adjusted to being a big brother. He’s been nothing but happy and helpful since we came home from the hospital. He’s always offering to help, and asking questions about how babies learn things. Everyone kept saying how he’d have such a hard time adjusting, and I really resented the implication. He’s such a sweet-natured boy, and nearly 8. Sibling rivalry doesn’t really sting as much with that sort of age difference, in my opinion. Plus, we make a big effort to give him lots of one-on-one time with each of us. I’m really lucky to have such a great little boy! Sniffle sniffle…

Tomorrow Aidan and I are having a “Super Special Top-Secret Fun Mommy and Aidan Day”. We’re going to go to the zoo, the playground, school shopping, and have lunch together while Andy and Jamie snore away the day at home. I may even get some time to knit at the playground! Joy!

I’m currently working on the February Lady Sweater, and was sooo close to starting the lace pattern…when I realized that I screwed up my number of stitches at some point. I held it up to me, and it didn’t look like it was going to be roomy enough, so I ripped out the whole thing and started over.

Luckily I didn’t have any trouble staying at the correct gauge, which is rare for me. I tend to knit a bit loosely, but I’m getting better at adjusting my tension. This is my first knit sweater (baby sweaters don’t count!), so I’m using an acrylic so that I don’t spend a fortune on something I probably won’t master the first time around. I’m learning more and more as I go though, and I’m glad that I knit the baby sweaters that I did, first. They taught me all sorts of things that apply to an adult-sized sweater, but with less work involved. If I’m lucky, I may finish redoing the yoke again tomorrow.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

August 25, 2008 at 2:27 am

Nesting Syndrome

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In breaking knitting news, my friend Shannon <3’s her birthday purse. She even made a point to dress in  plummy purples today so that everything color-coordinated with her purse…Gotta love someone who appreciates a handmade gift!

I also was this close to sewing up the floor pillow o’ doom last week and then when I pulled it over the pillow form I had bought, I couldn’t help but notice this:

Umm, yeah….that puppy obviously needs another four inches in length. It was depressing to undo the bind-off and cast it on again, but really, it’s only a little bit more. I worked on it a bit at work today, and if I keep at it, it should be done tomorrow night.

Sooooo, it’s been 8 years since I had my son, and I had totally forgotten about nesting syndrome. It’s like this primal urge to have everything tidy and organized right fucking now. Its not unlike how many of us have our little routines and quirk when it comes to knitting. The yarn has to be positioned just so, measuring and remeasuring each schematic of the item at regular intervals, grafting/felting the ends together to a certain criteria, washing the finished project in a certain scent before blocking. Whatever floats your boat. I’m really just trying to convince my pregnant mind that I am not crazy, and knit philosophy somehow validates that.

Granted, I’m not exactly what you would call the Donna Reed of housekeeping, but even I have my standards. I do hate clutter, so I frequently toss crap we don’t need/use and I don’t allow random junk to be brought home. I really got the spring cleaning bug a couple weeks ago, and decided I couldn’t stand the overflowing craft stuff all over the place. We had to get some new furniture for the boys’ room, so I gave up my trusty sewing cabinet as a storage option. I bought it for $15 when I was in college and just added some baskets to organize my material and sewing odds and ends. When I became obsessed with crochet and then knitting, I just tossed my yarn into an old basket I had….boy that didn’t last for long. Pretty soon I had yarn and needles and patterns and books coming out the wazoo. You couldn’t walk 10 steps in our apartment without tripping over something.

So we spent all weekend in intense decluttering and cleaning. It can be a constant battle getting my husband and son to admit they don’t like/use an item. Hopefully this little twerp will be more like mommy. I’ll save you the boredom of looking at the dust bunnies we scraped off of the ceiling fan in the dining room and skip right to the good stuff.

We finished the nursery!

This may not seem like a big deal to most folks, but we were so broke when we had Aidan that we couldn’t afford to spend money on anything, much less decorative touches. It felt nice to make the room comfy and cheerful. Plus, I was able to reuse and buy used for many of the items! The bouncer was $12 at Once Upon a Child, and it looks like brand new.

The bedding is new, but I got this solid wood crib for $100. I’m guessing it was $300 new. Also, all the wall hangings we bought at Target from the bargain bin for $2-3 a piece. The large pieces are actually tiny area rugs that we stuck sticky velcro to so they would hang on the wall. Voila, instant nursery artwork!

I gave up my beloved sewing cabinet, but I have to admit it looks rather nice in there with the baskets and Andy’s teddy bear bank from when he was a child.

Aidan and Rawry insisted on being in this photo. More wall art from Target, and a string of monkey lantern lights from Home Goods. Its a jungle theme in case you hadn’t figured it out.

And lastly, a little reading nook near the closet for him to cozy up in. I’m thinking about getting a bean bag chair to put over there. Something that matches the floor pillow I’m finishing up. It feels good to be prepared in some fashion for when the baby comes home.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

April 22, 2008 at 3:35 am

Now is the winter of our discontent…

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So I may have mentioned that I live in Minnesota. I wasn’t born here, and I didn’t grow up here, but it’s a nice state. Friendly people, beautiful landscapes, lots of history. That being said…

I am so freaking jealous of every other region of the country right now. It was supposed to be 70 degrees today, so I thought I would haul my pregnant ass outside for that bright yellow ball of gas that is rumored to exist in the sky. I work in downtown St. Paul at a bank-that-shall-not-be-named, right next to the Mississippi River. It’s a gorgeous view, and there are walkways and parks all along the shore. I figure, a little walk, a little sun, a little knitting, what could be better?

I stepped outside and was blasted by nearly 50 mph winds that just about knocked me over. It’s a miracle I got any pictures without hair in the lens. We had 8 inches of snow last week, and even though it has melted now, the grass is that ugly, yellow-brown color that makes you think of death, not rebirth.

Sometimes it feels like Minnesota has something against spring, as it frequently jumps right from winter to summer. Even so, I am lucky to have such a great view of the city from work. The architecture is interesting, and we’re only a block away from Harriet Island, a little park area that has tons of festivals such as the Taste of Minnesota and the Winter Carnival

I always look at this lonely little shack atop the water locks and wonder if it is actually functional. In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen the locks activated.

Oh well, at least I got some knitting done today. I’ve been trying to find creative ways to use the yarn I have so that I can start a new project in good conscience. I had about a ball each of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in a heathery pink and a dark plum that needed a home. Neither color really is very interesting on their own, but stranded together they are lovely, indeed!

My friend Shannon’s birthday is this weekend, so I knitted up a cabled purse from a free pattern on Ravelry. I thought it would be fun to try felting, so I knitted it until I ran out of yarn, and then attached it to the bamboo handles that I bought at Joann. The handles are too delicate to go into a washing mashine, so I went ahead and handwashed/felted it in a little washtub in the bathroom and then hung it up to shape/dry.

I have no idea what will happen next, but it didn’t seem to shrink very much. I’ll be lining and sewing up the sides tomorrow, so stay tuned for a more detailed picture in the daylight to see the results!

I’ve also been working on my very first pair of socks. I must have restarted these damn things about 40 times in the last year. The yarn is Tofutsies and beautiful, but it’s so tiny! It probably would have been more practical and less frustrating to knit a pair in wool for the winters around here. And although it is tempting to just do a simple stocking, I want something to show for the time and effort put into my first pair. So I went ahead and used the Widdershins pattern from Knitty Summer 06.

It’s really frustrating trying to cable on such thin thread, but I have to admit I like the way it looks. And the twists are only every 8 rows. I think tomorrow I’ll be able to start on the heel. Admittedly, the most exciting thing about this project is that I’m knitting both socks on the same circular at once. Am I the only one who thinks that TOTALLY rocks?! I am so looking forward to trying this method for mittens. I always end up altering the shaping or length of mittens, and inevitably forget what I did on the first one by the time I get to the second. This makes it so much simpler!

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

April 16, 2008 at 5:50 am