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!

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Hippo for Patrick

Last project of the summer!  I finished this cute little hippo a few weeks ago.  He is everything I wanted him to be.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces — a donation from Aunt Jane — and I thought this would be the perfect yarn for a hippo.  Turns out it was the perfect yarn for a tiger, but rather than start all over again (lame), I named him “Tippo” and called it even.

He’s also from Susan Anderson’s book, “Itty Bitty Toys,” and, once again, I love that book.  So many fun patterns, so quick to knit up, and so satisfying in the end.

Instead of filling him with fiberfill only, I wanted to give Tippo a little more heft…he is a hippo, after all.  They are not known for being lightweight.  I tried to put some poly pellets in cheesecloth, figuring I would stuff that in his tummy and fill the rest out with fiberfill, but poly pellets are a mess and a hassle.  If I had known that, I would never have purchased a bag.

So there I sat, feeling defeated, staring at my little empty hippo tummy just waiting to be filled.  Then, Eureka!  Beans!  A few months back, I bought a bag of Pinto beans in a flash of excitement to make for Patrick.  After reading the instructions on the back of the bag, once I was actually home, purchased beans in hand, of course, the amount of time and work beans took to cook overwhelmed me, and they sat in our pantry, were packed up for the move, and have sat in the pantry here.  Waiting.  And waiting some more.

They worked beautifully!  You’d think others would have figured out that beans make great toy fillers — I’m probably the first one ever.  (Ha!)  So he has some beans in his tummy and beans are the filler for each hand and foot.  Everything else is still fiberfill.  It’s a great combination, giving him the heft and solidity I wished along with the lightness and flexibility from the fiberfill.

So far, Patrick hasn’t paid much attention to him…which makes me a little sad.  I’ve tried placing him in conspicuous places, hidden places, right in the middle of the floor…  A few days ago, he picked Tippo up from the coffee table, and gave him a big hug and kiss!  My heart soared…success!  And then he threw him in the toy bin with everything else.   

Here you can see Patrick ignoring Tippo to watch one of the cats get clean.  Maybe if I got a live hippo…

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!

Baby Afghan for…

well, I can’t really share the name of the lucky baby yet, but suffice it to say that he will have two of the awesomest parents ever, and he’s going to be born very soon.  Very.

I bought the yarn for his afghan at a shop called Alamitos Bay Yarn Company.  My aunt, Jane, introduced me to this store.  To our delight, she took Drew and I there over a quick weekend visit.  Jane is very smart — she knows that I love yarn shops, and Drew loves to look at sailboats.  So the perfect solution?  Visit a yarn shop in a marina.  Kudos to Jane…Now we return there for at least a quick visit every time we are in California.  It can’t be missed.

Anyway, this particular yarn had to be something special.  I spent my afternoon picking out one skein from the rainbow of shelves, then another, then another, all the time wishing I could get Drew’s aesthetic opinion.  But, while I browsed, he and Patrick were on a journey up and down the docks, looking at Hans Christians and Catalinas, and marveling in the salt air and creaking walkways.  There was little hope of tempting Drew away from a 44 foot ketch to be the token male in an overheated room full of fiber and females. The dilemma that lay before me was that this particular little baby’s gender had yet to be known — classified information.  So no blues…no pinks…green was a possibility, but it’s so hard to find the right green.

Eventually, after soliciting the advice of the owner, who has a greying pageboy haircut, wire glasses, but a Santa Claus smile, she and I decided on a variegated pastel rainbow shade of Comfort yarn by Berrocco.  It fit the bill, and they had plenty in stock, so I paid up and met my two boys on one of the docks, to travel up and down together for awhile.

At Alamitos Bay Marina...yarn mission complete.

I had planned to make my standard Heart afghan.  It’s a beautiful pattern, where you use simple increases, decreases, knit and purl stitches to create a row of hearts.  But, by the time I began work on this project, baby had revealed HIS secret to the world — a boy!  My yarn was still a perfect color, but hearts?  So — new plan.  I would make the afghan Jane had made for Patrick.  I’ve heard that this pattern has been in the family for a long time — it used to be my Grandma’s favorite, the one she would make for the new babies in her life.  But I had never made it.  A new baby, a new family…why not a new pattern?

My two "babies" with Aunt Jane's creation of this pattern.

My favorite part about making something for a baby is that they are usually larger projects, but the patterns tend towards repetitive and calming.  This afghan was no exception, which gave me ample time to think while creating.  I loved thinking about the two new parents this afghan was going to while I worked.  They had been my friends since high school, people I had known for so long, through all kinds of changes and craziness.  Band, theater, then on to weddings, then homes — I still remember how strange it felt to visit them in their new home for the first time.  No parents around, no “adults.”  The realization that we WERE the adults is still strange.  But my favorite part of our friendship (besides all the usual amazing stuff — support, love, you know) is that even though we’re all older now, it still feels like high school when we hang out.  Houses didn’t change that, age didn’t change that, and babies haven’t made a dent yet either.  It’s nice to be able to be yourself around people, even if you don’t get to see them that often.

The pattern breezed by.  Row by row, thought by thought, and suddenly, it was finished three days ago.  Now it’s ready to send, and just in time, because baby is due this week! Obviously, since it’s not sent yet, I can’t post a picture of it just yet — top secret for now — but as soon as it’s received and baby is cozy inside, I’ll post my picture of it.

I’m not a huge baby person, but I do love to see new families being born.  Especially to two such wonderful people.  And baby afghans may be one of my favorite projects.  They are so mellow, so reflective…I think they bring out the best in me as a knitter.  My feline babies keep hoping I’ll knit them their own afghans so they don’t have to share with Patrick.  They’ll just have to make do for now.

P.S.  Update!  The beautiful baby has hopefully received his afghan by now, so here’s a picture of it!  I really enjoyed working with this yarn…so soft.

Baby Afghan for Ethan

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