Friday, December 30, 2005

Home Stretch

I am so close I can taste it. This week has seen me coming home from work, being Mama til PumpkinBoy goes to bed, and then feverishly working on the next step towards Butterfly's completion. Here she is with the body complete, shoulders grafted and steeks still uncut:

I threw caution to the wind and did not sew the steeks. This yarn is very, very wooly and grabby, and I had utmost faith that it would not just unravel on me. My early experience trying to frog my initial cast on proved how grippy this stuff was - I couldn't even undo part of it and it is still laying in the box with all the yarn.

TA-DA! Neckband done! I picked up for the left front band last night. Right band with buttonholes and sleeves remain.

I also ordered my buttons yesterday from ButtonDrawer.com - they have a whole Celtic Collection that is very pretty (and affordable). I think they'll work very well - a pretty 5/8 inch silver jobbie:

I am very pleased with the timing of this project. Ringing out my first full year of knitting and ringing in the next with this particular project is a nice marker of the progress I have made and my goals for next year. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and fulfilling year to come - it has been so nice getting to know you all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Looking Back, Looking Forward

via Stephanie and Felicia:

Top 5 for 2005

1. New Technique: Pretty much everything I did this year was a new technique to me. That said I would say its a toss up between lace knitting and socks, with socks slightly in the lead for practicality's sake.

2. Favorite Finished Object: Rogue. I wear this all the time and just love it. My Flower Basket Shawl would be a very close second.

3. Favorite Knit Along: I think Knit Unto Others was the best of the year - a wonderful idea, and it got me to do some charity knitting which I probably would not have gotten around to otherwise.

4. Favorite Shop: I'm an online shopping kind of gal, as I rarely have any child free shopping time, and toting a toddler into a yarn shop does not make for a pleasant browsing experience. My favorite online shops are Webs, Elann and The KnittingZone.

5. Favorite Tool: My wheel. I am amazed that I am spinning. I thought all you spinners were a little bit loony (and still do). I truly believed that I would not find it enjoyable, but now find myself a loony spinner in very good company.

Resolutions for 2006

1. Spin new fibers. I've only had my hands on wool to date, and am looking forward to expanding my horizons to alpaca, silk, bison - whatever, bring it on!

2. Knit a really intricate aran sweater for myself.

3. Get set up to be able to do some good dyeing. I'm working on this, but would love for this task to become a little easier for me than it currently is.

4. Knit from stash. I have way too much yarn right now (yes, it can happen), and need to force myself to knit from stash. I have at least 5 sweaters worth of yarn, to say nothing of my burgeoning sock yarn stash and all the odds and ends, plus I am regularly producing my own yarn now. I'm running out of hiding storage space.

5. Spin enough of one thing to make myself a handspun shawl. I was going to say sweater, but a) see #4 above and b) I want an achievable goal!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


The Pumpkin Family had a wonderful Christmas - enjoying a relaxing time with family all weekend. Santa was good to this knitter, I have several new books on spinning and dyeing thanks to my Mom, as well as some gift certificates to buy yarn from both my dear husband and my brother and his fabulous wife. And of course there's the wheel - even though I've had it since November, that was my main giftie this year.

Speaking of my brother's fabulous wife - it is time to let you know what that big pile-o-gorgeous-red-stuff in my last post is for. Carole guessed right, it is for another Rogue sweater, so she gets a prize. I will be knitting it for my sister in law, so Mini gets an honerable mention for guessing that part. I must say, there are few people for whom I would knit a whole sweater, and this lady is on the top of the list. I am very pleased to be knitting Rogue again, and even more pleased to be knitting it for her.

I stayed up late last night so that I could finish the body of Butterfly. I am so excited, I cannot even express it in words. There is still a fair amount of work to be done: graft the shoulders together, cut the steeks and the not so small task of doing all the picking up and knitting for the neck band, armholes and button bands. I hope to make good headway into those tasks before I cast on for Rogue, but I'm not sure how long I can wait.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry, Merry!

First one to correctly guess what will be made with the middle photo gets a prize. I've alluded to it a couple times, but only very vaguely.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Holiday Sox Swap

I've been waiting patiently for my Holiday Sox Swap and have been rewarded:
My Secret Soxer was Carry over at FairieKnits. She had a wonderful little sock envelope and a realy pretty tree ornament that I think is hand made. These are the Conway sock from Knitting on the Road, in Lornas Laces Tahoe. Just divine and they fit like a glove.

Thank you Carry - you did a wonderful job, these are just stunning and I adore them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Who Knows?

From Kathy's (aka Grumperina) Latest Entry:
How about you? Who knows about your knitting and your knitting blog, and what are your reasons for revealing (or not) its existence to these folks? Don’t just leave me a comment – rather consider this a meme and answer on your own blog ;).

My family knows about my knitting blog - although the only one I think who reads frequently is my younger brother (Hi Mark!), and perhaps his lovely wife (who will actually have a role to play in this blog soon - more later). He has sent me comments once and while via email, even though I've given him "permission" to comment freely - telling him he needn't be a knitter to voice an opinion. He is a clever man, and keeps his own blog over here where he discusses primarily soccer and sausage-making.

My parents stop by here occasionally as well, but I don't think dear husband ever does, even though he certainly knows it exists.

My fellow knitter-sister-in-law (husband's brother's wife) also pops by sometimes, at least I am led to believe she must, because despite not having spoken directly to her in some time, she managed to know I had now taken up spinning, and included a copy of Spin-Off in my Maine Christmas #1 stocking that I opened last weekend.

I share the blog with my family because my family is important to me, and having them not know of my blogging would feel like hiding something from them, which I don't think I have ever done in my life (barring teenager years).

Except for one or two people, work does NOT know of my knitting blog. I make a pretty large effort to keep my personal life just that. Many people know I knit and now spin, but I really am not interested in having regular conversations about my liesure time with my co-workers. My free time is just that - MY free time, and I don't like work polluting it. It helps that I work in IT, so most of my co-workers are men an probably couldn't care less anyway.

My desire to keep work and life seperate are also why I am only PumpkinMama (at least in anything I publish here). I have no illusion of real privacy (hell you can look at my blogger profile and see the blog I keep for my son, and that is a lot less anonymous) and if someone I knew stumbled over here and started to read regularly, or read the 100-things list, they would most certainly know it is me, I just don't want to be that easily google-able.

Friends know of the blog for the most part and just ignore it - my relationships with them don't revolve around fiber-y things, so its not really part of our dialogue, and I'm pretty sure none of them come here regularly.

I'll be curious to read everyone else's reasons!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Treading Water

With my holiday knitting and shopping complete, and my project list down to two items, I've manaaed to make rockin' progress on the Butterfly vest. I'm done with the armhole decreases and approaching the addition of the 4th and 5th steeks - for the front and back neck openings. After arriving home from Christmas #1 in Maine, I was itchin' for some knittin'. I had packed the Jaywalkers for car knitting, but alas, we took the wrong car - I can only knit while in motion in our Trooper, but we were in our little Toyota Echo, and I quickly got nauseated and had to put down the needles.

Once back home with peace and quiet, I picked up Butterfly and got myself settled. I had left her at the front center steek - ready to change colors for the next row. Look at chart, see what color is next, what!? I already have that color on - I used it for the last two rows. OH, SHIT. I knit two entire (200+ stitch rows) with the wrong color. My lazy, procrastinating first response took over, and I said "Screw it, no one will notice" and knit a half row further as is. Then the new process knitter in me (the budding perfectionist?) whispered "But you will know, and it won't look quite right, even to the untrained eye. This is a very lovely vest, and you know you want it to look lovely when you're done, so why not take the time now, because if you go any further, you know you'll just leave it then fret about it in perpetuity from here on out."

To my own amazement, I did just that. All my knitting time last night was spent tinking those now two and a half rows back so I could do it the right way. I tinked, because I am still terrified of full-blown frogging - I cannot ever bring myself to take the needles out and pull, unless I'm pulling all the way to the end and starting from scratch. See last night's work (crappy photo taken by sad, exhausted knitter at night):

I was able to stay up long enough to re-knit the two rows I lost, and one more, so I made a little progress at least. That, and I'm very proud of my own new-found knitting maturity!

On another note, the wheel as been still lately. I just have not had the uninterrupted stretches of time that I need to get spinning. Below is the last thing I spun - some of my hand-dyed from the plain roving that I got with my wheel lesson. I have another 2oz batch of that (but different colors) waiting next to the wheel for me, so I'm hoping to have some time this week.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Jaywalker #1 done

Half of my pair of Jaywalkers is done. This yarn is a color departure from my usual picks, but I like it. Its got a cool limey-brown zebra thing going on. I'm in the process of casting on for the 2nd one, so I will have some drive-time knitting, as we head up to Maine for Christmas #1 (of 3) this weekend.

On foot:

On tree:

Happy weekend everybody.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Technology Post

There seems to be trend of knitters talking about technology these past couple days, so I guess I'll join in.

Nope - not gonna talk about feed aggregators for your blog reading fix - those two up there have it covered. I am going to talk about browsers. It recently came to my attention that my blog looks like shit if you're using Internet Explorer. My first instinct is to say "Hey, serves you right, switch to a real browser" and let it be, and the UNIX-lovin' freaky geek BOFH inside me might decide to do just that, but for now I'm just feeling bitter about spending and inordinate amount of time getting my sidebar positioned correctly when viewed with IE, and the result is that now my blog looks good in IE, and half-good in the real browser that I use. And that pisses me off.

But I did it for you dear IE users, as I know some of you don't care to get all technical and stuff and do things like install new browsers, and some of you will cry and say "but its the only browser they let me use at work, and what else am I going to do at work all day but read knitting blogs?" And, because about 60% of my readers use it - BAH, come on people!

For those of you a little curious about a better browsing experience - go here to see your choices. You'll love whatever you choose, I promise. Plus you'll be a whole lot safer online, and us geeks who help try to keep the internet safe and secure will love you because of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Knitting Complete

With the deepest apologies to those of you still in the thick of the holiday knitting frenzy, I present to you my completed Christmas knitting:

Project Specs:
Recipient: dear Gram, my husband's grandmother
Pattern: Knotted Open Work Scarf, by Wannietta Prescod
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere, color Parchment, exactly 2 balls
Needles: Denise #8
Notes: A lovely, soft, drapey end product, but very boring to knit. I would do it again though because its so nice.

Project Specs:
Recipient: PumpkinBoy - this will be his Christmas Stocking from here on out.
Pattern: Holiday Stocking, Mary McCall
Yarn: Malabrigio merino worsted color "Forest" main color, 1 skein; Noro Cash Iroha color #33 contrast color, scraps
Needles: Denise #8 (magic looped)
Notes: Very quick and simple pattern. My first time with Malabrigio - OH.MY.GOD. this stuff is soft - softer than the Cash Iroha thats for sure. I'm fantasizing of a very close fitting pullover and and no shirt underneath. I am smitten with this yarn and must have more.

My WIP list is down to socks and the Butterfly vest (which needs a good stretch of uninterrupted time from me.) I have another large sweater project on the horizion - one that I'm very excited about, but its not for me. I'll tell you about it soon.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Armistice Day, not V-day

The Brioche Helmet Hat has been knit into submmission. Like I said yesterday, I would call it a truce, rather than a victory for either of us. I think I figured out why I was having trouble with the pattern in the round though - a yarn over before a p2tog. I've always had trouble with purl-wise yarn overs - I rarely have used them, and when I have I think I've done them wrong, and I think that was where my pain came from, not the pattern itself. I'll have to research furhter.

Anyway - just in time for our first "big" snowstorm (the one that was supposed to come when I first spoke of this hat never actually materialized, so I still have my timing right for this hat) here it is:

(isn't it amazing how quickly they learn the forced smile?)

Project Specs:
Pattern: Brioche Helmet Hat, Kelly Bridges, Interweave Fall 2005
Yarn: 2 50g balls Plymouth Baby Alpaca, one red, one bright blue
Needles: Susan Bates 16" #6 circular
Notes: Even though I knit this flat, and the pattern was written for in the round, I was able to follow the pattern exactly as written (i.e. decrease rows needed no messing with). This hat fits just how I had hoped, although I think I could have made it about an inch longer. Despite careful cranial measurments, and holding the hat half done in place as I approached the end, for some reason I always underestimate this kid's head. I think blocking will help give me the smidge of extra room I'd like. Does running around getting sweaty-headed in a hat in a snowstorm count as blocking?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wheel Assembly and Ass Kicking Hat

A question answering post:

Several of you have asked how the battle with the Brioche Hat goes. I did email Cate, and she informed me that her ever fashion-conscious 3 year old nixed the idea of ear-flaps for her hat, so Cate's brioche hats were her own creation, using tips from EZ's brioche hat in Knitting Without Tears. Which is knit flat. So, the Brioche Helmet Hat and I called a truce, and I am knitting it flat and it is going swimmingly and looks quite nice.


Rosa asked me a very good question about my wheel assembly process:
"Did you set up your unfinished wheel and test it out before you stained it? The staining seems like a lot of work, and there are an awful lot of parts to set up, test, then disassemble, stain, and reassemble. I've read other blogs where their Louets had issues and had to be sent back for new ones."

I did think to do this, but I am a horribly impatient person, and it was hard enough for me to stomach the thought of waiting several days while I stained and finished. I am also not terribly wise, and didn't even think to ask the question of Adrian. Future buyers might want to get an answer to the question "will you accept a wheel for return that has already been finished by its owner" before deciding how to proceed after reading my opinions below.

So, I did all the finish work without any pre-assembly at all, trusting and hoping that my time would not be wasted. The thing is, you would not be able to disassemble this wheel once put together with any ease at all. There are steps that have you gluing wooden peg fasteners, and several bits of hardware that are pretty permanently attached in places.

If you pre-assemble this wheel, I would say you'd be stuck putting the finish on it as it stands whole for the most part. While that is far from an impossible task, I know I always find it much easier to get an even and professional-looking finish on each piece as it lays flat, not having to worry about getting any finish on hardware bits or dabbing into corners where two pieces meet.

Hope that helps all you "louet S17 kit" google searchers out there too (I've been getting tons of hits on that these days!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shoot me now

I consider myself pretty adept at knitting. I know I am still but a newbie (1+ year of "significant knitting" under my belt) but I have yet to come across a technique or pattern that has really stumped me for any length of time.

I have now had my ass kicked by a hat. She who happily chose a Jade Starmore pattern for her first fair-isle, she whose first cabling experience was an 8-stitch braided cable on teeny-tiny sock needles has had a can of whoop-ass opened upon her by a freakin hat. Serves me right, I am coming up this week on my one year blog-birthday (sorry, I hate the word blogiversary) so a bit of come-uppance is due I suppose.

The hat in question is the Brioche Helmet Hat from this falls Interweave Knits. Here is my 4th attempt:
The hat is worked back and forth in short rows to create the ear-flappy parts, then joined in the round and continued as usual. Once I join it in the round is where the ass-whooping begins. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, but I just can't seem to get it. I'm remembering to change to the instructions for working the brioche in the round (different from back and forth), I am counting correctly, I just have NO FREAKIN CLUE where I am going wrong. Attempt #4 above is still in the back and forth stage, and I am tempted to just knit the thing flat and seam it. I love this hat - I want this hat for PumpkinBoy's head, we're getting a snow storm tomorrow, and in the time I have spent on this one hat I could have knit him four in a different pattern by now.

I may email Cate, who just finished a couple of these for her beautiful babes, or I may even see if I can email the designer. I am feeling like I need to beat this hat just because at this point. Oh, I didn't mention in my countdown list that I'm a tad stubborn? Only time will tell if I get a victory post or have to publicly admit being beaten by a toddler hat.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Red Rover, Red Rover...

Send a working wheel on over!

Ready for assembly:


In a brief ray of natural light, looking glorious, I might add:

And she works! I (very poorly) Navaho plied some stuff I had sitting on Adrian's wheel to free up her bobbins so I can return it this weekend. It looks awful, and I have much to learn regarding that technique, but here it is:

I am not usually a "namer-of-my-stuff" type person. Spinners out there seem to say that a name for their wheel just materializes magically in their brain as they get to know it, and I was highly skeptical that this would happen to me. However, once I settled on the stain color (an orangey-browny-red color called "Spice") and the whole time I was working on the finish, all I could think was "Red Rover". I think it fits her, don't you?

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I'm groovin' on the latest meme after I saw Carole's list.

TEN random things you might not know about me
1. I can be extremely silly
2. I can pick things up with my toes
3. I drink at least one Dunkin Donuts Large Iced coffee per day (usually 2)
4. I like tequilla
5. I love big storms
6. My eyes change color from gray/green/blue depending on what I'm wearing
7. I was suspended from school 2 times in Jr. high
8. I have a tattoo
9. I swear too much
10. I owe my husband 7 years of laundry (he did it all when we lived in an apartment and had to use a laundromat on the condition that I'd do equal time when we had a home with a washer/dryer) I'm currently in year 5. Years are not pro-rated due to the addition of another person to our family. I still think I got the better deal.

NINE places I’ve visited
1. Maine
2. Arizona
3. Florida
4. California
5. Bequia
6. Mexico
7. NYC
8. Tennessee
9. Georgia

EIGHT ways to win my heart
1. appreciate me
2. cook dinner
3. give me yarn/fiber
4. surprise me
5. send me flowers
6. laugh at my bad jokes
7. rub my feet
8. give me a hug

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1. Visit the Galapagos Islands
2. Charter a boat and sail the carribean and/or south pacific
3. Live on Martha's Vineyard for a couple years
4. Go skydiving
5. design and knit my own sweater
6. make a living doing something creative
7. travel to Greece with my husband, and listen to him tell me all about it (he was a highly-enthusiastic classics and history major)

SIX things I’m afraid of
1. losing someone I love
2. bungee jumping
3. making small talk
4. not being a good mom
5. being at fault in a car accident where someone was badly hurt/killed
6. where our country is headed

FIVE things I don’t like
1. Crowds
2. Bananas
3. Shopping
4. a whole laundry list of bad driving behaviors
5. being cold

FOUR ways to turn me off
1. be a hypocrite
2. talk incessantly
3. micro-manage me
4. be irresponsible

THREE things I do every day
1. Knit
2. Change diapers
3. Tell PumpkinBoy I love him

TWO things that make me happy
1. My Family
2. My knitting/spinning

ONE thing on my mind right now
1. This will by my 4th day posting in a row - maybe a record for me?