Scarves for Las Vegas friends

Leaving Las Vegas was just as difficult as the Sheryl Crow song makes it sound.  Although neither one of us had any kind of gambling addiction, so I guess not quite as bad.

But we made some wonderful friends in Vegas, people whom we hope to keep in contact with for years to come!  For some of those folks, I was able to make scarves before we moved, so those are the scarves I’ll share here.  All of the scarves were made from yarn straight from my stash, and most of the patterns were ones I had either been waiting for the right time to try or were patterns I already knew would be perfect.

First there was our favorite family, the Wiks!  Jenn was my “neighbor” at Liberty, and was the first person I met when I was new.  She was (and is) one of the most hospitable and genuinely friendly people I’ve ever met.  She also has a fabulous sense of style, so I wanted to make a scarf for her that would hopefully go with outfits she already had.  It’s called a Golden Threads Boa, and I made it with a black ribbon yarn from Berroco, black Fizz yarn and black sequined thread.  The pictures don’t do it justice — I think it turned out very elegant, and it had a great drape to it.

Then for Josh — the funny man and all-around friendly guy.  It’s always tricky to find a pattern for a dude, but luckily I had just bought a new book called One Skein Projects, and the book had some really nice simple cable rib patterns that would work well.  I used a yarn made from camel hair that was soooo soft and lovely to work with. I had two skeins of the yarn in two different colors — teal and white — and thought rather than trying to create stripes that were evenly spaced, I’d just split the scarf in two colors — right and left side.  Sort of a wrong-colored port and starboard. The end result is the scarf I think I’m most pleased with.

Then for the Wiklets!  Gavin has been Patrick’s buddy in daycare since they were born, so I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to make for him, and Emma has been Patrick’s little “momma,” so she needed a scarf that would be glamorous and delightful.  Here’s what I made for them:

Gavin got a Gator Scarf.  This is one of my favorite scarves ever — a Morehouse Merino pattern that has so many different options to it!  This one is made from a green wool blend, perfect yarn for a little kid.  I also took out a couple rows of scales to make it a little shorter. 

Then Emma got a scarf made from acrylic yarn with fun little kernels of color in it.  The base kernels were pink, so I thought that would appeal to a lovely lady like Emma!  The pattern is meant for bulky alpaca yarn, but I think it works pretty well as a working kid’s scarf.  Sturdy, washable, and ready for a chilly day!

After making scarves for the Wiks, I made this scarf for “Auntie Ro-Ro.”  Ro-Ro is a waitress at Amore’s Taste of Chicago, the best pizza place in Vegas, but she was so much more than that to us.  We’ve known her since we started going to their restaurant on Friday nights, and she was so excited for us when we became pregnant.  And Patrick loved her so much — she lavished attention on him!  She would always threaten to bite his cheeks someday — which is a tempting proposition, seeing how apple-y they are.  But she helped organize his baptism party at Amore’s, always brought him his own soup in a little bowl, and treated him like the special little guy he is!  We already miss seeing her once a week, and will be sure to visit her when we are in town. It’s a horizontally striped scarf in red and white Lily Chin wool with an extra stripe of red sequins.  I really like how this one turned out — no pattern here, just cast on for about how long you want it to be, and then knit like crazy in garter stitch!

And last, but not least, is a scarf for someone who has been a mentor to me in many senses, but most as an ELL teaching guru — Connie!  I have missed her when she got transferred to another school, but now I’ll miss her even more when I’m in another state!  She was so helpful with all of the applications to grad school, and with great ideas for teaching, and also just for life in general.  For Connie, I made the Golden Threads Boa also, but you’ll see that the effect is very different.  I used black Fizz again, but for the base yarn, I used a novelty ribbon yarn with some really pretty colors in it.

We will miss all of these friends and more dearly, but we are so excited to be starting up again here in California!  I’m already on the next project — it’s a big one, so go ahead and start feeling the suspense now!


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.


Reversible Frog and Turtle for Godson

It was so thoughtful of my awesome friend, Emily, to have a baby this time last year so that I could make a toy for his first birthday.  I’m sure that was her motivation. 🙂

So, happy birthday to my beautiful, wonderful, happy godson!  He has the best parents ever, and I knew he needed something special to celebrate his first year of life!

This Itty Bitty Toy book I have by Susan Anderson may be the best knitting book ever.  The projects can be a little putsy, but they are the cutest things EVER.  This little guy is no exception.  It’s a reversible frog and turtle.  So you start off by making the frog’s body, then his head, and then you add his spindly little limbs and then give him a cute little face.  All along, you sew the pieces together as you go, so it really is like the toy comes to life as you make it.

Then you rinse and repeat for the turtle — make the body, make the head, make four little stubby legs, and a short i-cord tail.  THEN you get to make all the little squares and shapes for his shell — the top of the shell makes a super cute flower pattern.  If I made this one again, I might consider using scrap yarn and make a little rainbow flower on the top instead of sticking with the mono-chromatic style.  But I have a feeling that my godson has the one and only toy like this in the world — or at least, the only one made by me!

Then you sew all the shell pieces onto the body, which took a little time.  Enter the adjective “putsy.”  But it was a great thing to do while Patrick’s Grandma was in town for the weekend — he played with Grandma, and I sewed a turtle.  Ha!  And then lastly, you make the turtle’s sweet little face — always a little smile on a toy, I’m told!

Then, the grand move — you crochet them together.  This part was much easier than it sounded.  I am not a crocheter, so I don’t know exactly how to use each stitch to my advantage.  I had read these particular directions several times, but never felt like I understood…but when I actually did it, it wasn’t as confusing as I’d anticipated.

So there they are!  A smiley little frog and a happy turtle for a very special, happy little guy.  Happy 1st birthday!  Hooray!

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.

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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