Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good Night Moon

Bedtime, with a little person, is one of my favorite times of the day. That is time when Little Clover and I have our best talks. It is our time to connect and it is the time of day when we have each other's full attention. Our conversations can be very trivial, but sometimes, they can revolve around some serious topics. The other night, we had one of our soul searching conversations. We talked about bugs.

It began with Little Clover and I discussing the state of the housekeeping and how he decided that the next night, we would clean the house. I had no idea that he was this involved in the state of the kitchen floors. He told me that he and Italian would take care of his bathroom counter where his microscope was cirrently residing. Evidently, he thought that the dead spider he and Italian had been examining was too much for me to bear. I told him I didn't mind dead spiders, it was the live ones that bothered me. Then he asked me what my favorite bugs were. We talked for 15 minutes on which bugs we liked and which ones we didn't and I really began to hope that when he is sixteen and going through his teenage stuff, he will still talk to me at bedtime about whatever is on his mind.

I mentioned that I liked butterflies and moths. Then he looked at me with a very serious expression. He said, "You only like moths when they are outside. Inside, they might eat your yarn."

I smiled.

I have actually been getting quite a bit of knitting and spinning done. I'm headed out of town to Minneapolis for work and I am pushing myself to finish Anniversary Sweater Part II before I leave. This will be my first time to be someplace cold during the winter since the age of 5. I'm concerned I may have become too Southernized (if that is possible). I think there is even this white stuff called snow on the ground up there.

Tonight, I will go out, hunting for the perfect thank you gifts for the Hometeam Huddle fundraising drive for Habitat. Be on the watch for pictures tomorrow!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Colts vs. Bears

You're Invited!

To the Habitat for Humanity Hometown Huddle!

For football fans and friends/relatives/spouse of football fans, a very important day is quickly approaching. Sunday, February 4 will be a day of merrymaking and celebrating. It is Super Bowl Sunday! Habitat for Humanity is asking community members to take donations during the half-time production for the Super Bowl. While you watch Prince, you can also help a family in need build their own castle. Since we are not hosting a Super Bowl party, but we still want to help out, I've decided to host a virtual Hometown Huddle here on my blog and you are invited!

To participate, please click on the donation button in the sidebar and leave whatever amount is comfortable for you. Your donation will go towards my local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to help them provide families with a home. I've built one Habitat house in my community and the experience was amazing. The house was for a family of three, a mom and her two kids. I will cover as much of the PayPal fees as I can so that all of your money goes to Habitat. Of course, my goal is to have a ton of donations, so much that I won't be able to cover all of the PayPal fees. My goal is to raise $3,000 for Habitat. To entice you, there will be yarn! I'm on the prowl for some yarn to send out to random lucky donors.

Habitat provides families with a decent home, which is hard to find for more and more people. For more information on their mission and activities, please visit their website. If you help provide funding, then consider donating some of your time and help build a house in your community.

PayPal applies a fee of up to 3% and $0.30 to every transaction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Entrelac Socks

When I first saw the entrelac socks on Eunny's blog, I knew I they looked fun and challenging. They would definitely be on my needles sometime in the future. The more I looked at them, the less I wanted to wait, so I went in search of pattern. I found one on the Townsend Socks Yahoo! group, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Like most knitters, I saw the pattern and immediately began thinking of ways to change it. Below is the pattern I ended up creating.

Size: Women's small-medium (I wear a size US 7.5 shoe. The circumference of my foot at the ball is 8.5 inches. My foot length is 9 inches)

Gauge: 8 stitches per inch

Materials: Trekking XXL 104, 5 bamboo DPNs in US size 1 (2.25mm)
Note on Trekking:
Some Trekking yarns will make a beautiful entrelac pattern without any planning or forethought. You can just pick out the yarn and start knitting. To do this, make sure you use a colorway with very long color blocks. Other Trekking yarns with shorter color repeats will create stripped entrelac squares. The other option is to use two solid colors of sock yarn and alternate.

Worked toe-up with a short row toe and a short row heel. I use Wendy's pattern as a reference.

Begin by casting on 32 stitches using a provisional cast-on.
Knit across cast-on stitches. Purl back across.

Begin short row toe:
Row 1: Knit to last stitch, wrap last stitch with yarn in front as if to purl, slip last stitch from left needle to right. Turn work, slip first stitch (the one you just wrapped and slipped) onto right needle.
Row 2: Purl to last stitch, wrap last stitch with yarn in front as if to knit, slip last stitch from left needle to right. Turn work, slip first stitch (the one you just wrapped and slipped) onto right needle. You now have one wrapped stitch on each end of the needle.
Row 3: Knit to stitch before the wrapped stitch (second to last stitch), wrap stitch with yarn in front as if to purl, slip wrapped stitch from left needle to right. Turn work, slip stitch (the one you just wrapped and slipped) onto right needle.
Row 4: Purl to stitch before the wrapped stitch (second to last stitch), wrap stitch with yarn in front as if to knit, slip wrapped stitch from left needle to right. Turn work, slip stitch (the one you just wrapped and slipped) onto right needle. You now have two wrapped stitches on each end.

Continue repeating rows 3 and 4 until you have wrapped 8 stitches on each side and have 16 unwrapped stitches in the middle. Now you will begin picking up the wrapped stitches, beginning with a knit row.

Picking up wrapped stitches and make a toe box:
Row 1: Knit across 16 center stitches to the first wrapped stitch. Pick up the wrap, knit the stitch, pass wrap over knitted stitch. Move yarn to front as if to purl. Slip next stitch, turn, slip stitch back to right hand needle, purl to first wrapped stitch.
Row 2: Pick up the wrap, purl the stitch, pass wrap over knitted stitch. Move yarn to front as if to knit. Slip next stitch, turn, slip stitch back to right hand needle, knit to wrapped stitch.
Continue repeating rows 1 and 2 until all wrapped stitches have been worked. You know have a toe box and have just finished a purl row.

Knit 16 stitches onto your needle, pick up a new needle and knit the next 16 stitches onto the new needle.

Unzip the provisional cast on and place these stitches onto two needles, distributed evenly. You may need to pick up one stitch. Knit across these 32 stitches. You now have a total of 64 stitches on your needle.
Knit one row even.

Next row, decrease 22 stitches as follows: k2tog twice. (k1, k2tog) repeat 20 times. [42 stitches on needles]
Knit one row even.

Entrelac Base Triangles:
Each base triangle is worked across a total of 6 base stitches. After each row, turn the work.
Row 1: (RS) K2, turn
Row 2: (WS) Slip 1 stitch purlwise, purl 1, turn
Row 3: (RS) K3, turn
Row 4: (WS) Slip 1 stitch purlwise, purl 2, turn
Row 5: (RS) K4, turn
Row 6: (WS) Slip 1 stitch purlwise, purl 3, turn
Row 7: (RS) K5, turn
Row 8: (WS) Slip 1 stitch purlwise, purl 4, turn
Row 9: (RS) K6
Repeat these 9 rows across the remaining stitches. You will end up with 7 triangles. Distribute triangles across 4 needles. Needles 1 and 2 will be the instep stitches. Each will have 2 triangles. Needles 3 and 4 will be the heel stitches. Needle 3 will have one triangle and needle 4 will have 2 triangles.

Entrelac Squares Set 1
With wrong side facing, pick up 5 stitches along the side of the first triangle, starting at the tip and working down to the base. Purl 1 stitch from the adjacent triangle. Turn. This section may seem very awkward, but it will work out.
Row 1: Knit 6, turn.
Row 2: Purl 5, p2tog, turn.
Continue repeating two rows until all 6 stitches adjacent triangle have been purled. Pick up 5 stitches down the side of the triangle. and repeat Entrelac Square Set 1 until all triangles have been consumed and you have 7 squares.

Entrelac Squares Set 2
With right side facing, pick up 6 stitches along side of entrelac square. Knit one stitch from lefthand needle. Pass the 6th picked up stitch over the just knit stitch. Turn.
Row 1: Purl 6, turn
Row 2: K5, slip 1 stitch from lefthand needle to right, psso. Turn.
Continue repeating two rows until all stitches from left hand square have been consumed.
Continue alternating each set of squares until the sock length is approximately two incehs shorter than your foot length, end by completing Set 2.

Purl back across 6 stitches.
Pick up 5 stitches purlwise, purl 1 stitch from left needle.

End Triangle:
Row 1: Slip 1 stitch knitwise, k1
Row 2: Slip 1 stitch purlwise, p2
Row 3: Slip 1 stitch knitwise, k3
Row 4: Slip 1 stitch purlwise, p4
Row 5: Slip 1 stitch knitwise, k5
Row 6: Slip 1 stitch purlwise, p6
Row 7: Slip 1 stitch knitwise, k6, k2 tog
Row 8: Slip 1 stitch purlwise, p6, slip 1, p2tog, psso
Repeat across needles 3 and 4. You will have 6 square stitches and 24 end triangle stitches. Put all 30 stitches and on one needle. You will also now have 2 squares on needle 1 and 1 square on needle 2. Now you will begin the short row heel by repeating the process for a short row toe.

After making a short row heel, pick up 5 stitches purlwise down side of adjacent square.
Work Entrelac Squares Set 1 across the three squares on needles 1 and 2. Contine and consume the first 6 stitches off the needle containing the heel stitches. If there is a gap before the 6 stitches, pick up 2 stitches and k2tog them together on row 2 of entrelac square.

Now you are at the heel stitches.

Base triangles:
Row 1: P2tog, p2tog
Row 2: Slip 1 knitwise, k1
Row 3: P3
Row 4: Slip 1 knitwise, k2
Row 5: P4
Row 6: Slip 1 knitwise, k3
Row 7: P5
Row 8: Slip 1 knitwise, k4
Row 9: P6
Repeat base triangles three times.

You have now knit all the heel stitches. Rearrange needles if you need to.
Continue in entrelac until leg is the desired length. Knit a set of end triangles all the way around the leg [56 stitches].
Knit 1 round, increasing 8 stitches evenly.
K2, p2 rib for 1-2 inches. Bind off loosely.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Yay, Yarn!

First and foremost.

Happy belated birthday to Grand Ma Clover! She is an independent woman who speaks her mind with grace. She has been an example of a strong lady and I am very happy to call her my grandmother. Happy birthday, Grandma. May you have many, many happy years before you.

Secondly, yay! I have yarn!

This is my very own handspun that I made with my new spinning wheel. I love the colors. The only thing I would do differently is I would have made it a three ply instead of a two ply yarn. I still need to work on my consistency, but overall, I'm pretty proud of it. To give you and idea of the size of the yarn, I added a US dime for scale.

On a final note, I have had some request for the entrelac sock pattern. I used a pattern as a reference and did some major tweaking. Unfortunately, I didn't write it down, but, I will write out the pattern and work on it this weekend. With some luck, I'll have a pattern to post next week. Please check back soon. I'll let you guys know when the pattern is up. Thank you for your compliments and your interest. They have been much appreciated.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hey, what's that thing?

Italian recently changed jobs and had to turn in his old company car, leaving us down to one vehicle. Since we both work on opposite sides of the city and our city has no viable mass transit, we decided to look at Hondas this weekend since we have had an incredible experience with our six year old Honda Civic.

We researched online, then found a manual at the Dealership. We hoped in and checked out the interior and found it was well designed and thought out. The car had tons of storage areas, including one compartment hidden in the dashboard by the driver's side and one above the rearview mirror. We drove the car around the parking lot (I was a bit nervous driving a car I don't own on my city's streets).

After driving the car, we hopped back into the Civic we've been driving for six years, and began our discussion on our dislikes (there was only one) and our likes (there were several). I mentioned how I liked all the storage, especially that little compartment thingy by the steering wheel. As I said this, I reached down to the part on the dash of the Civic where the compartment was on the car we test drove, and...

Lo and behold! I had one, too! Italian just stared at me, and then he laughed! At least I still add joy and mirth to his life.

Italian gave me his first FO of the year. He made it out of walnut with some figured walnut as an accent on the front. The clock is battery operated and the face and hands are brass. He used the same walnut stock as the jewelry box he gave me one year, making the clock even more special.

I've begun working on knitting FOs 2 and 3 as well. Both of the items on my needles are socks. One will be a pair for Xavier Guy in Trekking.

I've gone down a needle size to a US size 0, simply because I wanted to try out my KnitPicks DPNs. The needles are heavier than the bamboos and I was surprised that the difference was noticeable. The points on these needles though are fantastically sharp. They are by far my sharpest DPNs and much, much sharper than Addi Turbos. I also like how the yarn is knitting up on a lower size. I'm getting a gauge of 10 stitches per inch on size 0.

The second sock is my first experience with Socks that Rock, and any praise that you may have heard is true. The yarn is the softest sock yarn I've ever touched. The yarn is sproingy and squishy and yummy. The colors are beautiful and the pooling for the colorway is lovely. The colors fade and then intensify instead of pooling in blues, greens, and violets. I'm trying the Widdershins pattern for the first time.

Now, even though I am very impressed with Socks that Rock, I'm not joining the sock club, so someone on the waiting list will become very happy. The reasons I'm not joining the sock club have to do with the patterns and the colors. I have enough sock patterns to keep me busy for a long time. Plus, I prefer to knit patterned socks with solid yarn and to keep patterns simple if I'm knitting with varigated yarn. That's just my personal preference. I'll definitely order more STR in the future. One more warning, if you plan on knitting with STR, use any KnitPicks sock yarn you may have. I have some KnitPicks sock yarn left in my stash and it just doesn't make me as happy as it did before I met all the other sock yarns in my life.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The first of many

(Well, what I hope is the first of many.)


I'd like to introduce the first Finished Object of 2007!
Elly Cardigan
Tah dah! As never seen before, the Elly Cardigan from Rowan Classic Baby Book Four! This amazingly beautiful cardigan is knit in luscious Rowan Cashsoft DK in Lavender. This lovely baby sweater is designed to fit a newborn. It's lovingly handknit raglan sleeves gently sweep up the shoulders, allowing plenty of space for all the activities a newborn could dream of! (Ooooh! Aaaaaah!) A stunning crocheted border edges the cardigan, adding to the elegance!

Hey, who gave the infomercial copywriter my password??? Get out! Go get your own blog.

Sorry about that. That pesky copywriter has been lurking around Clover Field for a while, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

Have I mentioned how much I love my LYS? Last knit, while finishing up the Elly Cardy, I looked at the pattern and began hunting for a size E crochet hook. I had a C, an H, two Fs, a J, a K, a mucho long afghan hook, but no E. It was 8:45 at night. It paniced and called the Shop. The Spin Meister was there and confirmed that she had a hook. I spend to the shop and was thankful that it was knit-in night and the store would definitely be open late.

Not only did she have a size E hook, but she had a wooden Bryson hook made from palm wood. This hook is beautiful in it's simplicity. It feels extremely perfect in the hand and it works wonderfully. I've tried the Brittany hooks in the past since I prefer wood to metal or plastic, but I've had a problem with the hook dropping the stitch halfway through. I didn't have any problems with the Bryson at all. If you need a hook and like wood, then definitely go for the Bryson.

As for the cardy, it is super easy to knit! It's all stockinette. The raglan shaping is very easy and due to the small size, you can complete this project with just a few hours. One thing I found interesting about the project was the author's choice of decreases. For the right leaning decreases, the pattern says to use a K2tog. Pretty standard. For the left slanting decrease, the pattern says to use a K2tbl, which according to EZ is not the reverse of a K2tog. I did notice that the K2tbl makes a much more pronounced pattern. I actually like the way it looks. It puffs out the stitches a bit more. I just need to find out how I can puff out the stitches on the right.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Did I say no resolutions???

I may have lied about resolutions. Well, lying sounds a bit harsh. I may have forgotten a resolution. Because I have a ton of free time between working full-time, being a mom, being a wife, being a homeowner, and being a knitter, I really should fill up that free time with relearning Korean. Let's face it, the fact that I cannot speak my first language is rather sad. I owe it to my mom to learn Korean.

Last night, I took a first step. Every night, Little Clover likes me to tuck him in. As part of that routine, we lay down for just a minute while I tell him how much I love him and how awesome he is. Then, he will ask me to sit in the rocking chair by his bed until he falls asleep. I usually take this time to listen to an audiobook or podcast while I knit. Last night, I read my copy of Teach Yourself Korean and listened to the native speaker as I read along. It's not much time, but it's ten to fifteen minutes more than before.

I must say, finding any decent materials for learning Korean has been very, very frustrating. The type font for the Teach Yourself books is rather poor. Their romanisation of the characters is also rough at best and their English word examples of vowel sounds is way off. The words they picked to represent vowel sounds are words that are pronounced differently across US regions. The authors could have picked more region nuetral words (picking the word "father" instead of "bat" to as an example of an "ah" sound).

I've also go the Berlitz set of tapes and books. The Berlitz format may work well for languages with letter based alphabets, but for Korean, which has a character based alphabet, wowzers! My head nearly popped and I sent the first 5 years of my life looking at words formed by characters. If anyone out there has any advice or suggestions, please send them my way. I've got my eye on the Rosetta Stone language course and I think if I'm still working through my Korean Lessons by my mom's birthday in March, I may get it.

All is not lost on the knitting front. I am still knitting. I just have to find some new time throughout the day. I've managed to finish the back, two cardigan fronts, and a sleeve for a baby sweater. I've casted on for the second sleeve now and with any luck, I can finish it tonight since the mommy of the baby will be induced tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

If you give a mouse a new t.v...

I don't really have any resolutions. My life is pretty darn good and there isn't much I'd like to change. I'm rather fortunate and lucky that way. Instead, I have a ton of goals. Resolutions and goals are very similar in meaning, but the connontations are different to me. A resolution seems to imply a drastic measure to alter one's life permanently, while a goal is a concrete thing to achieve. For 2007, my goal is to revamp the house.

Well, it won't be a complete revamping. We won't do any major renovations or anything too drastic. Instead, I'm hoping to get a lot of little and medium sized things done. This all started with a new t.v.

The t.v. we had was a wedding gift and we have been married for a while now. It still worked fine once you got past the 30 seconds of the shrill tone emitting from the t.v. every time you turned it on. The tone started as just a little beep and has been growing in duration. We just figured this was the t.v.'s way of welcoming us back.

We had been waiting for just the right time for a new television, and let's just say, this was the right time. Of course, the new t.v. doesn't fit in the entertaiment cabinent. Italian will have to build a new stand for the t.v. The old one will move to the spare room, which now needs to be put into a usable state as a guest room/play room. That means that Italian will also have to build some sort of media storage, the closet needs to be organized and cleaned out and logically, the office will have to be organized as well. The office needs bookshelves to hold the overflow from the spare room, so Italian can just build those while he builds all the other stuff. If we are going to re-do the spare room, we might as well organize the office closet and make better use of that space. Since we are going to do all this work, we should just go ahead and paint the rest of the rooms in the house. We can't just paint in the bathroom though. The ceiling in one needs to have the texture removed and I might as well do that while I paint. Plus, the other bathroom has wallpaper and while I've got the light fixtures down to take off the wallpaper and paint, I might as well replace the fixtures. Oh, and while Italian is in the garage building all the other stuff. I asked him to build me a sideboard for the reading/dining room.

I feel like I'm stuck in one of Laura Numeroff's books. At least there's no more high pitch shriek, and Scooby Doo never looked better.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Final FO (and Happy New Year!)

I was hoping to post two FOs before New Year, instead, I only have one. I finished these on Thursday, but am just now getting around to posting them. They are the completed entrelac pair in Trekking. The pair took me over a month to complete, but the actual knitting of each sock takes only a couple of hours. They are fast to knock out once you get the hang of the entrelac pattern. The best thing about entrelac is that it grows really, really fast. Of course, there are a few things I would change. The next pair will only have entrelac on the instep of the sock and not the foot. I'll keep the entrelac all the way around on the leg part. Also, I think I may try an afterthought heel. Next time, I'll write out the pattern, too. The only tricky part was turning the heel and picking up the entrelac again.

Happy New Year! May 2006 be filled with happy memories and 2007 hold amazing possibilities!