Flamingo Scarf for me

Working through the stash…now I can be honest about this.  I’m furiously trying to work through the yarn I have WITHOUT buying anything new in order to skim the fat from the top of my stash so that it will fit in storage when we move onto the boat come July.  Got to, got to, got to slim it down.  Actually, right now, I’ve got it pretty slimmed down already — but there are several small project amounts that I want to use up before we move.

So here was another one!  The Flamingo Scarf, from Morehouse Merino again (my favorites) and another past Christmas present from Patrick and/or Drew.  If you’ve ever been in my classroom, or had to share a dorm room with me in college, say, then you know that I really do like these awkward birds.  It started because of Fantasia 2000 — the yo-yoing flamingo:

One of the friends I went to see the movie with thought this lovely little purple flamingo was just like me — it became a karaoke nickname, Madame Flamingo, and then turned into a little side-obsession after that.  Now I have stuffed flamingos, flamingo artwork, flamingo ornaments, and even flamingo bookends in my classroom — all very tastefully done, I assure you.  But what was I missing?  A flamingo scarf, obviously!

But not any more!  It was lots of fun to create — you start at the beak, then work down the neck to the body and then the legs are made separately and sewn on.  It was fast, and cute, and is a perfect funky addition to my wardrobe.  Ta-da!  Take that, all you line-dancing, conformist flamingos!  Ha!


Maxi Cape, Failure, and Tidal Wave Socks for me

Ah, knitting.  You wonderful little microcosm of life.  I turned 31 this year, and it seems like more things bother me these days — my step-dad used to say, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down,” but it feels like the turkeys are multiplying at an alarming rate.

But knitting is always my comfort — until failure strikes.  I bought the yarn for a Maxi-Cape from Morehouse merino farm with my birthday money, and when the yarn came, I was so excited.  It’s like rope — bulky, thick, a wonderful shade of oatmeal brown — and I couldn’t wait to start.  So I did.  Knitting and knitting and knitting, row after row — it was a big project.  Then sometime in November, I realized I wouldn’t have enough yarn.  Being frugally minded, I waiting until 2 weeks ago to reorder two more shanks.  When they came, I finished it up in a snap.  Imagine my dismay when I sewed on the buttons, wove in the last little ends, and put it on.  I looked like the Pillsbury dough boy, but did not feel like giggling.  It was bumpy and lumpy, and “we were not amused.”

Knitters, Crocheters, Craftsfolk, lend me your ears. I come to bury this cape, not to praise it.

But this does happen to me every now and again.  I get very excited about a project, I imagine it one way in my mind, and the end result is far from my ideal.  It can be difficult, especially after a long haul like this cape, to keep your emotional bearings about you.

This was the noblest yarn of them all...HA!

What’s that, you say?  Poor Liz, conquered by her own knitting, wrapped up in a knotty mess?  No, my dears, no, no.  This turkey will not get me down.  No, sir.  I ripped it to shreds, debasing it into its former evolutionary state as 11 odd shanks of yarn.  I have plans to make this yarn pay, and pay it shall.  Someday it will be my Retro coat — I’ll mark the date I conquer it for you.  Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war…this yarn’s day will come.  I will bide my time. (Can you tell I’m teaching Julius Caesar right now?)

My socks doth bestride the yarn like a giant Colossus.

I did, however, finish my Tidal Wave socks which have been in the making for6 years now.  They were a Nevada day project with my Mom and Aunt Jane.  I think both of them finished years ago.  I finished ONE sock at the time, and have let the other one languish until now.  So this year, for Christmas, I will have “Socks de Triomphe” to wear.

Maybe that is what I like best about knitting.  Not the steady pace of it, or the concreteness of a repeating pattern.  Not the beautiful colors or the pride of making your own clothes and accessories.  The feeling that, no matter what else in your life is outside your breadth or your control, yarn is always ready to be conquered.  It can put up a hell of a fight — but I will always emerge victorious.


Fingerless Basketweave Mitts for me

I have been an ANIMAL at knitting lately…or really, I am successfully making it look that way on this blog.  Actually, the truth of it is that I have been working on many projects at the same time, and not finishing any of them until…right now!

Modeling my mitts while smiling like an Anime character over drinks at Tommy Bahamas

When my mom (hooray for mom!) came to visit, she was making these little mitts, and I thought they were super cute.  Not to mention that they only take one DK weight skein of yarn, and I have plenty of yarn sitting around waiting for its purpose in life.  Perfect!  They are just the right amount of warmth for your hands on a cooler Las Vegas day – or really, on a super windy Las Vegas day.  I’ve found that they’re perfect for evenings or afternoons, but are still a little too cool for mornings, when my fingers need more coverage in order to shift without chattering their teeth.  They only come up to my wedding ring, but they go down below my wrist.

The yarn is a DK weight cashmerino from Debbie Bliss — dreamy.  I have a feeling these will see a lot of action, and will turn quickly from a lovely creamy shade of eggshell to a little dingier shade of grey.  But they will still be awesome!

Amanita Hat for me

For my birthday this fall, I got an awesome present from Drew — a Concertina.  That’s right — a Concertina.  So now I too can join the ranks of sailors who shanty about sea-wise.

I also got….CASH!  A great birthday present!  So what did I do?  I visited my favorite yarn website — Morehouse Merino Farms.  Their yarn is so awesome, and their patterns are unique and fun to make.  So I got two things — one which is almost done, but for which I need at least one more skein of yarn — it’s a cape, actually! — and the other, the Amanita Hat.

The Amanita Hat was designed to look like a mushroom from Wonderland.  The sample on their website was in bright red and white, making it loot EXACTLY like this:

But since I had just bought the Cape too, I thought I could color-coordinate it a little better, and got the yarn options called Henna and Sand.  While in Taos, NM for Christmas, I had ample knitting time (hooray) thanks to the heroic grandparenting done by Beth and Steve.  So the hat went fast!  One week and blam-o!

There it is!  It’s cozy and warm and I love the slight cloche feel to it.  The yarn is soft but hardy, like all the Morehouse yarn.  I think this hat will see a lot of wear, whether with my Cape or with my Coat — it matches perfectly with a pair of Sherlock Holmes mittens I made in college.  Another one to add to the winter wear!

I got to wear it during our New Year’s in Ventura, CA, too.  We always try to stay at hotels with balconies, because then after Patrick goes to sleep, we can hang out on the balcony, enjoy a bottle of wine and chat it up.  We didn’t have this mountain view on New Year’s — an awesome marina view instead — but the view from Beth and Steve’s house is breathtaking.  Whenever I see I picture of it, I always wish I was looking at it right then and there.  Beautiful!

Knitter’s Tank for me

We moved into an apartment recently…well, recently as in three months ago.  Recent enough.  When we moved, I went through all the yarn I had, which took up most of a closet in our house.  I had saved every little scrap from every project, just waiting for a moment when I might need only three yards of Noro Kureyon #348.  So I was able to throw away all the unusable scraps, clearing out more space than I knew I had.

But amongst the small, shapeless skeins and unattached labels, I found a tiny treasure trove of unfinished projects.  Scarves one fourth finished, waiting on a stitch holder.  Sweaters completed except for the sleeves.  Yarns hugging each other tightly, waiting for the time when I would make them into the promised shawl or poncho.

So I created a new Yarn Resolution — no buying more yarn unless it is for a gift project.  I’ve only broken this resolution once since May, which isn’t too shabby.  And this project marks my third completed Yarn Resolution project.

I had finished the back of this top and about a third of the front.  I had comandeered this yarn from another intended project years ago, and so I was just a few yards short of the necessary amount.  But a quick check of the stash showed a white that proved a nice contrast to the tan, and held up well with the sparkly novelty yarn.

It was easy to jump into a project partway through — the only trick is finding where you left off.  That was a little bit of a hurdle, but soon I was knitting away during Patrick’s naptime, watching Battlestar Galactica with gusto.

The next trick came when I had finished the front.  I sewed the two together, and saw that the armholes were like to gaping maws, ready to show off your bra to any casual observer.  With some of the extra white, I did two rounds of single crochet around the edges, and voila!  No problem.

We’ll see how often I wear this top — only time will tell.  Knitted tanks, although fun and quick and easy, languish in my dresser for longer than they deserve.  They stretch out after too many wearings, and don’t stand up well to cleaning.  But the yarn I used for the base here is DK Comfort Yarn by Berroco, which is washable.  I may try it.  Otherwise, I’ll just camisole it up underneath, and solve the problem entirely.

It’s not a color I wear often — light tan, or really, light ANYTHING.  But it’s always good to change it up, try something new, and attempt a new adventure in wardrobe!

Sushi Scarf for me

Sushi Scarf!  Sushi Scarf!  I was so excited to make this one!  And I am SUPER pleased to find that it is long enough and warm enough to be a winter-time scarf — it wraps twice around my neck and still criss-crosses in front.  LOVE IT!

Okay, backing up — this was another part of my Christmas scarf extravaganza.  This is another Morehouse Merino knit kit (bless them), and I started this one IMMEDIATELY.  I brought it with for our Christmas trip to Minnesota, and began rolling out some sushi.  Luckily, this sushi didn’t need any special equipment.  Inspired by Guy Fieri, Drew makes a Pork “sushi” roll that is a headache just to watch him make.  (Yes, I am lucky, and hopefully I say thank you enough for all the gourmet meals that come out of our kitchen.)  He has to use a bamboo mat to roll the sushi up, and sometimes it works beautifully — other times, I hear “Sailor Drew” cursing Neptune and his trident from behind the island.

These sushi rolls were a piece of cake.  It was just a long strip of garter stitch with changing colors.  Once it was long enough, I just rolled it up in a spiral and sewed the loose ends through it to secure it.  Easy peasy AND Japanesey.

I only had two issues with this scarf.  One was that once you finish the sushi rolls, it’s just garter stitch the whole way — bo-ring.  That’s why it took me so long to finish it — boredom once the sushi rolls were done.  (or “udon.”)  The second is that the knit kit I received for it did not include enough of the “rice” white yarn — so I had to substitute.  It doesn’t show, though, which is good.  I wouldn’t want it to look like I switchd to brown rice sushi partway through my scarf.

So, here are the pictures — enjoy!   Now I’m looking forward to cooler weather so I can wear this scarf and get some oohs and aahs.  And maybe some free wasabi.

Nano Scarf #3 for me

Insert your own witty clue here.

One of my favorite things about marriage is creating a new conglomeration of traditions.  He brings some, I bring some — it’s fun.  My favorite tradition that Drew brought to our little family has to do with Christmas gift tags.  Instead of writing “To Drew From Liz” on a little sticker with a smiley Santa, you make the “To/From” into clues.  A few Christmases ago, I took this clue writing to the extreme and placed a present under the tree with the tag, “To Dr. Teeth From Fozzie.”  Drew puzzled this one out for a long time.  A LONG time.  He had all kinds of good guesses — by the shape, you could tell it was a book, but what book?  Something about the Muppets, obviously.  Turns out, in my quest to write an indecipherable clue, I had written the worst “clue” ever.  (It was actually a biography of Hunter S. Thompson, called “Gonzo.”  Esoteric at best, I know.)

So, this PAST Christmas, it was Patrick’s turn to join the tradition.  Nevermind that he was only 7 months old…he still “wrote” some wonderful clues on my gift tags.   One of my presents said this on the tag: “To Big Feet From Little Feet.”  I was pretty sure it was a knitting project, and I wracked my brain thinking of every possible sock pattern Drew might have found online.

At least I didn't have to knit in nano size.

When I finally opened the present, I laughed.  It was this Gecko Feet Scarf, that I had been hinting at for months, ever since my birthday.  There’s a wonderful yarn website called Morehouse Merino, and they get more creative by the minute.  This scarf was based on a nano photograph of a gecko’s padded feet — hence the clue!

Love it! Thank you, Little Feet!

To make it, I had to keep changing between size 17 needles, the approximate diameter of a chair leg, and size 6, the diameter of a green stalk of basil. It was a pain, and I am glad it has turned out so beautifully, or I would have been a little peeved.  It’s made with Morehouse’s lace yarn, one in a variegated blend, and the other in a pastel yellow.  I can’t believe how much it looks like the nano picture.  Pretty cool.

I have two Morehouse scarves left to go from my Christmas 2010 stash.  I’m almost finished with the second one, and boy is it cool.  Don’t worry — I won’t spoil it for you.  Although my loyal readers have already seen me working on it, so who am I kidding?  Here’s your Christmas gift tag clue: “To Unagi From Wasabi.”  Any guesses?

One last close-up of the scarf so you can compare it to the nano photo.  It was soft, light yarn, so perfect for summer work.  Thank you again to my nano baby!

Morehouse Merino has a new line of scarves and shawls that they just introduced.  Instead of nano photographs, these pieces are based on satellite photographs of large, distinct land features, like the Bahamas Tide or the Susitna Glacier in Alaska.  I’ll be checking my Christmas gift tag clues very closely this year!

Swing Pullover for …Me!

My sweater after a shrinking wash.

This was my Christmas money!  Added to a wonderful gift certificate to my favorite yarn store, Alamitos Bay Yarn Company, from my wonderful Aunt!  We had the opportunity to go back to Minnesota for Christmas this year.  It was a fantastic, holly jolly time, being Patrick’s first Christmas and all.  But kudos to our Minnesota clan — they gave us easily transported gifts, like….cash!  Cha-ching!

So my cash was spent on bulky yarn for a sweater.  I went to a yarn store here in town, figuring that a Las Vegas store would OBVIOUSLY have bulky yarn in a fiber other than wool.  Who’s wearing wool sweaters in Las Vegas?  Joke was on me.  Shelf after shelf of beautiful yarn…all bulky weight…all gorgeous colors with depth…all wool.  Durr.

There's my yarn! Right there on that rock!

The yarn I used is Classic Elite Yarns Sprout and is 100% organic cotton — perfect for the climate I live it.  It’s not like it doesn’t get colder here, it’s just that “cold” here means 50 degrees down from 110.  Feels cold after you’ve been sweating all summer and early fall.  The color I chose is called “Galapagos Green.”  There are few things as wonderful as yarn names.  I believe I could have had a successful career naming yarn shades.  There’s a few options — it can either be EXOTIC PLACE NAME followed by BASIC COLOR, or EXOTIC FOOD NAME followed by ESOTERIC COLOR.  Like “Easter Island Head Grey” or “Pad Thai Mauve.”   Cool.  Now I want to knit something in those colors.

There's my yarn! Popping out of the soil!

This pattern came from a magazine called Knit Simple.  Their patterns are, as you might suppose, simple.  Which is a nice change every now and again.  I love a complicated pattern to keep my mind fresh and flexible, but an easy pattern you can memorize and fall into it is just as refreshing.

While I was knitting this sweater, Patrick was becoming more and more mobile, making me happy that I had chosen a pattern that was simple — easy to throw down if he suddenly fell from standing at the coffee table — and also a pattern that used bulky yarn — fast progress in a short amount of time.

I delayed this post too long, so now I’ll be updating soon with my next yarn project.  Hint: it’s even more St. Patrick’s Day themed than this sweater!  Shenanigans!

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