Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Knitting and Sugar

So I have finished the Laminaria is still in it's unblocked, lumpy lace state. I still like it, even though it is mistake ridden and unblocked. The reason I picked this shawl was because I liked the look of the lacy edging, but after knitting it I have fallen in love with the star pattern in the center of the shawl. That star pattern is definitely aiming to be in something else I knit.

I have also knitted a little pig for my brother's kitty. She apparently loved the mouse toy I had made Jack, so I went through my stash to find a female kitty yarn color. Pale pink is perfect for a little girl kitty, right? Only after I finished it, I realized that instead of looking like a cute pink mouse, it looks more like a pig. So I curled up the i-cord tail for a cute piggy photo. (I apologize for the poor lighting. I didn't get all the photos before the sun went down.) Even with my limits on knitting time, it was a pretty quite project...only 90 minutes (a day and a half for me).

I am starting to work on a neckwarmer made out of some lovely hand painted spun silk purchased at the local weaving guild sale. It is from Coloratura Yarns, although I cannot find the yarn type on their website. Isn't it the most gorgeous blue?

If only I could have counted right for the first row I was doing...I think I have cast on for this about 5 times. I've finally gotten farther than the first row, so hopefully everything will go swimmingly from here. I hope I can find some gorgeous buttons for this; I'm knitting it flat with buttonholes because I'm not exactly sure how far the 160 yards will go, and I want a decently tall neckwarmer. If I like how this turns out, it may have to be knit again so a decent pattern could be written.

So I, like many others, preordered some of the Sock Summit Dye for Glory colorways from Three Irish Girls. Just so you know, they are running crazy behind where they thought they would be. I think Carolyn got a bit miffed at me for emailing to ask about the status; I just wanted to know if I should expect it this month or the next, or sometime after that, since I hadn't seen an update anywhere about how far they were through their orders. I wasn't trying to annoy them or insinuate that they weren't working hard (which they are...12-14 hour days 7 days a week per Carolyn's email, which is way too long for anyone to work). I was particularly worried about the neighborhood dogs getting into the package while no one was would be a nightmare going around trying to find salvageable yarn if several dogs had ripped the package to shreds. It makes me cringe to think about it. So apparently I should be getting yarn this month, which is exciting. I just hope no one there is too ticked off at me. Blargh.

On another note, I have also been baking. I made these cookies for our Christmas Goody Day at work. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them, but obviously they didn't look quite as pretty as the one in the magazine. I totally burnt the first batch, and I think the others were burnt around the edges. Who would have thought the bake time would be 6 minutes or more less than suggested? They seemed like an awful lot of trouble, especially when they didn't taste as spectacular as I thought they might. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely tasty, but they took forever to make, so I'm not sure the time/taste ratio was enough in favor for these to become a part of my repertoire. I was super excited, though, to find out how to candy citrus peel. I ended up cutting the peel off of my morning grapefruit and candying it. Then dipping them in chocolate. What can I say? (Here they are getting ready to go into the fridge so the chocolate can set. This might be a dangerous addiction...hide your citrus!)

If you find the peel missing on your citrus, look for the candied variety to appear in a day or two!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Computer=Regular Blogging?

Thanks to the fact we have a new faster computer that doesn't leave me wanting to kick it down the stairs, I hope to become a more regular blogger.

A few personal updates first. Hubby and I are trying to figure out where we really need to be, since there doesn't seem to be any available job opportunities for him in the area right now. Unfortunately (or fortunately, whichever way you see it), I really do like where I work and the people I work with. Boo on highest unemployment rate since I've been born. At least I have a job though.

In knitting notes, it has been long enough that I actually have a decent amount of FO's. I particularly like this shawlette (Fountain Pen Shawl).

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Snail hat is a little silly looking when someone is wearing it, especially when it is bright orange. But I have to admit, it is warm.

I also did a very modified version of the Shopping Tunic, which I have already worn several times. It does require a camisole beneath it, since the armholes are a little gappy. By the way, isn't that just a lovely example of bathroom mirror self-portraiture? Note the artistic angle, which gives it just the right effect.

On the needles now I have Laminaria. I have unfortunately made quite a few mistakes on it, and hope that no one is so bold as to point them out to me if I do decide to wear it. Only about ten more rows to go on this shawlette, and I am not frogging it to go back and fix the mistakes. I can live with them. At least, I hope I can. If not, Laminaria might reappear in a different color later in the blog.

After Laminaria, I'm going to use some fantastic silk yarn to make a neckwarmer. The yarn is from the local weavers guild annual sale and is a lovely watercolor sky blue. Just the thing to spoil oneself. I hope that I can find some fantastic buttons to go along with it as well. If it turns out, I might just write a little pattern for it. We'll have to see.

Now, it is already past my bedtime, so anything else must wait for a later date.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In which there is much disscusion of future projects

So it looks like about once a month is about as good as it is going to get posting-wise until next year. Things have been pretty busy with lots of travel (Minneapolis, MN; Clanton, AL; Chicago, IL) and more coming (a trip to Germany, hurrah!). We may also have some interesting news on the job front for DH, but we'll know for sure if it all goes through by the end of next month.

I do, in fact, have a finished object to share....the new hedgehog for Caryn and Randy's girl.

Isn't it cute? I love doing these hedgehogs for kids in bright colors.  I just confirmed that my boss is also having a baby (boy), so another one of these is in progress.  I hope I don't find out that anyone else is pregnant in the next six months, because I want to knit something else!

Then it will time, however, to do a little bit of me knitting. On the needles I have EZ's Snail Hat (Vogue Knitting Winter 2008 bonus pattern) and I plan to start on either Delphine (Interweave Knits Spring 2009 bonus pattern) or the Fountain Pen Shawl (the same issue of IK). All of these are using stash yarn, thank goodness, because I just went and bought this. The winner of the watercolor catagory in Dye for Glory, Georgia Peach. It is so beautiful I want to cry, and I bought 5 skeins so that hopefully, I will be able to make whatever I want out of it and not be stuck with just one skein of an amazing yarn trying to find a small project to do it justice. I know, socks would be perfect for one skein, but socks and I are not the greatest friends still after the RSI incident. That and DH misplaced the socks I started for him. They are somewhere in this house, but I know not where. When they are found, I will continue them.  Or maybe he will finish them, seeing as he has started knitting a garter stitch square that is still growing.  ;)

I am quite excited about how the Snail Hat is coming along, and I like the color even better than I thought I would. This is especially interesting because both yarns I am using are inherited stash (from MIL). However, orange is currently my happy color, which might have something to do with why I like the Georgia Peach colorway so much right now.

I have some doubts about how my Delphine will turn out. I do have the 4 skeins of the appropriate yarn that is called for, but I have it in four colors. I hope grey on the bottom with the white and green in color block sections on the top will look okay and not ridiculous. It is a super nice yarn (Blue Sky Alpaca Silk), the one called for in the pattern in fact and some of my oldest stash (that wasn't inherited).

My goal is to have two projects going on at the same time, but I am not sure how that is going to turn out since I can still only knit every other day for about 60 minutes. It is better, but still frustrating to go so slow, so I might put Delphine on the backburner until the Snail Hat is done (and maybe another hat). Quick knits will save my sanity, but all the light lacy projects are very, very appealing.  Perhaps the Fountain Pen shawl will not be too difficult for me to bring to Germany; I certainly hope so, because it will take up the least space of anything I'm interested in knitting currently and I don't think I can go 10 days without knitting when I am physically able to do it.

In an attempt to fulfill my need to craft when I am unable to knit, I have decided that quilting is another acceptable outlet that minimizes hand usage. There are a few problems with this. First, I do not have a sewing machine, but this will be remedied as soon as I can convince my mom to bring her old one to me. This may be several months yet. Second, whenever I have tried to use the sewing machine in the past, I have failed miserably. I hope this can be solved with a little education on my part. I really like this pattern, but it seems like circles might be difficult. It'll probably be a month until I start on anything, since it will probably take at least that long to procure the needed supplies.

This was an extremely word heavy post.  Hopefully the next will contain more photos!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Knitting and RSI

My long blog silence so soon after starting is due to this an injury that at any point in time any knitter has feared: repetitive strain injury. It sounds so innocuous and a little silly to those who have not experienced it, but it can be truly frightening.

After my attempt to join the sock a month club at the LYS, Knitty Couture, I did manage to get a pair of socks done for February after many retries and knitting right down to the deadline. My forearms were hurting me a little, but I thought that after I finished that pair I would just slow down and I would be fine in a week. First bad decision: knitting even though it was hurting.

So, I slowed down. A lot. In fact stopped for the first two weeks of March. Only problem was, my forearms weren't feeling any better, and I was having problems holding and squeezing things. Each day it became worse, probably because I use my hands so much in the lab and for typing at work. I was finally at the point when even if my hands were still, I was in pain. Out to the doctor I went, and after four days of wearing a fiberglass brace on my forearms, I could pick up and squeeze out my own shampoo (thanks to my dedicated, loving husband I did get clean every day my arm was in the brace). My poor muscles were not as swollen, but this was not the end of the issue. I saved all hand movement for my job activities; since my husband was about to graduate with no job in sight, I did not want to go on disability as the primary earner. Slowly, the pain disappated. After a month, I decided that I would try knitting again.

I could feel it, the first few times I tried to knit again. The pain was coming back. Something was not right. I searched and found people whose doctors told them to take 4, 6, even 8 months off knitting. I did a lot of crying, thinking that I would never be able to knit again, never be able to follow through on my design ideas and be able to do the thing that had brought me so much joy. I had to go see a specialist, an orthopedic surgeon, a hand doctor.

The doctor told me that he thought I had radial tunnel syndrome. It is like carpal tunnel, just a different nerve/spot on your arm. He prescribed physical therapy. For those that don't know, carpal and radial tunnel occur when there is a repetitive motion that causes damage to the nerve. Normally, the nerve can heal itself after a day or so; however, I had done enough damage that the nerve couldn't heal itself, and it was causing my muscles to turn into a bunch of knots that were very painful and did not help reduce the constriction on the nerve or my ability to hold items, since the muscles were already engaged.

The first thing was to get rid of a majority of the knots and bring the muscles back to baseline/resting, which took about two weeks. Then I did strengthening exercises to build up new, smooth muscle so the scarred tissue wouldn't damage the nerves as much. It turns out that I was much, much weaker than I should have been for the amount of work I do with my hands. Turns out the rest of me was also much weaker than I should have been for my age/gender. I went to the physical therapist for a month, and then got the okay from the doctor that I was good to continue physical therapy on my own for the next month. My advice to all: exercise regularly. It will speed recovery for many injuries that you might obtain when you are stronger all over.

After doing physical therapy on my own for a month, I tried knitting again. Very little, 10 minutes a day. After about 5 days of this I began to get knots again and freaked out a little. Was it starting over from the beginning? I went back to the physical therapist, who told me to take care of them like I had before, and to make sure I treated knitting like weight lifting, so I had a day of rest or two in between. So I began again; 15 minutes every third day for the first week, 20 minutes every third day for the second, increasing as I went along.

The project is one I've done before, a huggable hedgehog for a new baby. It is going slow as slow, but worsted weight makes it faster that the laceweight shawl I'll start soon. Ideally, in a month and a half I will work up to an hour every other day, although I have been warned that no more than an hour a day should be spent knitting.

This makes me sad that I will not be able to do anything associated with knitting full time (at least anytime soon). However, I am glad that this injury has inspired me to take better care of myself through both nutrition and exercise. I never thought I would be able to do 20 pushups (real, military style pushups mind you). I never thought I would be back down to my 'skinny' high school weight (which I must say, was not that small but smaller than I started off at the beginning of this year). This will lead to some rethinking of the sweater I was planning, which will take some of my knitting interest time and put it into not actually knitting (good until I can knit more regularly).

Overall, it has been scary. Scary, but it has helped my balance my life better. I thought it might be helpful to share this experience, so people would realize they are not alone and they can recover, although it is a long process and may not be smooth. It is also a warning to the rest of the knitters out there, to pay attention to your body. You've only got one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The gift scarf, and, A sock a month for 11 months?

First off, here is a photo of the gift scarf while being blocked. It didn't turn out quite as long as I would have liked (apparently I overestimated how far 440 yards would go on size 0 needles). It is definitely wider than I thought it would be as well...thank goodness it came out okay after blocking. I thought it was going to be ridiculously short. It still is on the verge of needing a shawl pin, and I might still get one before it is gifted. Next time I think I'll used bigger needles; maybe a size 2 or 3. Overall I am pleased with the result and am amazed at the power of blocking.

The LYS, Knitty Couture, is having a pair of socks a month knitalong this year that I decided to join midway through February (of course I would, it is the shortest month!). After knitting this sock to the beginning of the toe and deciding that it swallowed my feet, then starting over and somehow casting on one to few multiples of twelve and having to rip this out after the heel turn, I started over on my first sock. On the 19th. My first sock was done on Saturday the 21st, and I finished the second sock just in the nick of time on the 28th. I probably would have been done sooner if I had been able to continue at the same pace, but my hands were hurting and I took a few days break. I can't figure out if my hands hurt because of the yarn, or because I was using dpn. Either way, I love the result.

I just love the rainbow heel. DH picked out the yarn for me, and it is a super happy yarn (Ripples Craft, Carnival colorway). The pattern is the Rib Fantastic from the book Knitting with Handpainted Yarns. I think my sock posing turned out rather well.

Somehow yesterday I got conned into making a pair of socks for my husbands size 14 feet when we were in the yarn shop and he was looking at the blue sock yarn. In order to make sure that one sock is not significantly higher than the other, I am starting my first pair of toe-up and two at a time socks. Right now this only covers three of his toes.

I really love the is certainly a lot softer than the previous sock yarn I used. Knitting with this yarn with the two circulars doesn't bother my hands as much either. Thank goodness for that. I don't know if I will do a stockinette foot or start a 2x2 rib on the instep that will be continued up the leg. I do want to try a short row heel, which will be another new experience for me. My goal is to have this pair done within four weeks, so I will have some time to start the next pair (for me) before the end of March. Don't worry, that is allowed. I also want to work on a hat pattern that I would like to submit to Knitty, but I will probably post it here if it doesn't make it. I'm also working on trying to figure out my first cardigan; hopefully some progress will be made before winter rolls around again. So, all in all, there is a lot on my knitting plate. Oh, that I had stayed a monogamous knitter!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fat Feet, or, Are my arches really that high?

Recently, I decided that I wanted to make socks. This may or may not have anything to do with the twelve socks in twelve months knitalong that the local yarn shop has going right now. (If it is because of the knitalong I am already woefully behind...I started the first sock of the year yesterday.) I had previously made one pair of socks from More Sensational Socks by Charlene Schurch I believe. The book was really more of a set of guidelines based on your foot measurements and your yarn gauge. I had heard good reviews for the Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarns, and when I saw a demo sock in the LYS, I bought the Best of Interweave Knits Socks (or something like that). I was planning to knit the sock I saw as a demo, but the number of stitches to cast of seemed really small, using the same needles and same yarn with which I had made my previous sock. So I went back and counted the number of stitches that I cast on for my first sock. Definitely 18 more stitches. This is when the measuring tape came out, and I measured my foot circumference.

Since I normally wear US 6.5 or 7, I think of my feet as smaller than average. My foot circumference was 8.5 inches, and my feet are 9 inches long from heel to toe. The pattern I was planning to knit was for a foot circumference of 7.25 inches. Big difference. I figured, maybe it is just the pattern. I mean, maybe this was a kid's sock pattern. And so I begin searching for a pattern that has a suitable foot circumference. What do I find? The patterns that have larger sizes...those sizes are labeled mens. And are longer than my feet by an inch. Apparently my foot circumference is man-sized, and I have fat feet. I have enough issues with the rest of my body without worrying whether my feet are fat. Then I remembered when I was trying to buy boots a month ago; they were tall boots, and I couldn't get my feet into the US 7. The saleslady said I should try an 8. I never wear an 8. The 8 fit, and the saleslady explained that people with high arches usually had to go up a size with this shoe.

So, my feet aren't really fat. I just have high arches.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old FO's

So, because nothing particularly interesting is going on in my knitting (a scarf on size 0 needles moves very slowly), I decide to post some old finished objects. Below is a double knit hat I made out of some leftover yarn using the Fake Isle pattern. Because it is double knit it is super warm and reversible!

I also made an afghan when my cousin and his now wife got married last year. I found the pattern as the lace and cable afghan, but later discovered it was also called frost flowers in one of Barbara Walker's treasury books.

I'll be going in to work tomorrow; I hope everyone who takes the day off has fun!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy Christmas and New Year!

We certainly had a good Christmas here in St Louis with both families visiting. It was a full house with both sets of parents, an aunt and a brother, but it was a lot of fun. I now have some new woolly goodies to bring inspiration (thanks Sweetie!):

(Lorna's Laces Shepard Worsted)

(Three varieties of sock yarn)

And I got a knitting pattern book that will probably result in a sweater. I've also started a potential birthday present for someone to be left nameless (Jack was keeping me company in a blanket made by Eric's mom).

It was nice to have so much time off around the holidays. Much progress was made and new ideas if I could just have another week off!