Thursday, February 10, 2011

A hat that is more than a hat

When someone is ill, more so when terminal, most people wish they could do something. A casserole is standard, but when one is suffering through cancer and chemotherapy and can't eat then ideas can run a bit thin.

A few months ago I received a skein of hand dyed yarn. I tried making a few pairs of socks but nothing turned out. Then I found a pattern and quickly knit up a hat. I mailed it off to my husband's aunt who was undergoing cancer treatment and recovering quite well.

It had been just long enough that I started to wonder if she received the hat when I got a beautiful 'thank you' note in the mail. I was glad to have offered a little comfort to someone so deserving and, of course, received the gifter's thrill of knowing your gift was really appreciated.

The day after I received the note I got an email explaining that his aunt had recovered from her stomach cancer and subsequent intestinal complications wonderfully but the back pain which had been plaguing her was more than back pain. The cancer came back near her pancreas and this time the only treatment is to extend her life a few months by undergoing more chemotherapy.

She had requested that anyone who wanted to visit do so before she started treatment again since she will be vulnerable to infection. I called to set a time and she explained to me how much she loved her hat and that she wears it every day as she's been trying to continue walking for health, that it was the perfect color, perfect fit, but that it fell out of her pocket and was lost. She asked if I'd make her another one and insisted on paying me for it.

I had just enough left from the same ball and set to work on the twin hat. It was done just enough to give it to her during our visit. She smiled broadly which was payment enough. I explained to her that this was meant to be her hat. I had tried to make other things with the yarn but those projects did not work out. I told her that her loving the hat was so fulfilling for me and I couldn't accept money for a gift.

While it's only a small gesture I'm glad that I found some way to show how much we care for her.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I went by myself to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival since my good friend was ill. It was crowded and muddy and cold and pretty fun too.

I looked at each booth before purchasing anything (thought I ended up going back to the very first booth that caught my eye).

I really wanted to find a shawl pin but didn't see anything like what I envisioned. I've seen some on etsy which I really like. I did see some solid gold and sterling silver ones but I wasn't willing to shell out $75 for them.

After visiting all the booths, most of them twice, I settled on 3 fibers: one batt of superwash wool, one natural white merino roving, and one roving of corriedale. Since I'm brand new I thought it wise to try different fibers so I can get a feel for them.

They were $5 a piece so along with my Burgerville lunch this was a pretty thrifty day.

I enjoyed being able to go without the kids too. It was nice to get to concentrate and think only about myself for a few hours.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The featherweight is finished...for now

So it's done but I don't have a picture because I'm not wearing a bra. No one wants to see that and I'm too lazy to put on a bra today.

I'm thinking of adding a decorative edge to the collar but that will need to wait since I'm going to the Flock and Fiber Fest tomorrow and wanted to be able to wear it.

It's rather perfect. Light weight and just barely there.

It's perfect that I'll forgive how awfully large the arm holes turned out to be and how I had to put it down for 3 weeks while I came up with an action plan to fix it.

Next I'll need to decide whether to rip out and completely reknit the last sweater I made or to see if the washing machine and dryer can help me adjust the too large size.
It's a conundrum.

Ok, here is a terrible picture taken by my 8 year old. I think there are smudges on the lens. She took about 10 pictures but none in which I'm actually smiling or looking at the camera.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Christmas stash has begun

I finished a simple pair of socks that is going into my gift bag.

Very simple toe-up pattern that I winged. These are made from Berroco Sox which is a washable wool so these are a good choice for gifting.

Last night just before I finished the socks I ran across this

and I just couldn't help myself. I bought the pattern.

I've already got some yarn that I bought for a great price from Smileys that has just been waiting for a project. I considered Anhinga

but ultimately decided that this is more of a cardigan and it will get more use than a sweater, though I'd still like to make the sweater (I'll just have to save up before I can buy another sweater quantity of yarn).

I'm working on the gauge swatch today for the Dramatic Lace Top Down Wrap Cardi (and I need to think of a shorter name).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's too damn hot

but I wanted to share these lovely socks.

After a lovely evening at Jacob's partaking of Sangria, Absinthe, and incredible company I got Absinthe on the brain and decided to finally dig this one out of the queue and make it happen.


KnitPicks bare fingering hand dyed by me using Wilton's Cornflower blue and citric acid
size 1 for the foot and ribbing, size 2 for the leg
August 18-24

The first time through the instep chart threatened to turn my brain to mush. I think my main problem was that some of the symbols were too small to clearly see. And some of the symbols had abbreviations that I'm used to seeing another way. For example, the pattern called for SK2P which despite my 8 years of knitting I've never seen abbreviated that way. Because I'm not a chart knitter it required a little bit of fiddling every now and then to make sure I was interpreting it correctly.

The second sock went much faster. As far as cabled and charted socks go these were really fast.

I just cast on a nice plain toe-up so I could practice that method with a single 40" circular some more (and also not have to think too hard). I'm thinking I might like to do Skew after this sock.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dreams of the purple fairy


This sock has been an exercise in patience.

First I dyed the yarn which was lackluster and just plain boring. I let it sit around in the back bathroom for a few days while we stubbed our toes on the casserole dish it was sitting in. Then I decided that crockpot dying was the way to go. It really couldn't look worse than the washed out, uneven colors with which I started.

I popped in the crockpot with a ton of dye and some citric acid and put it on the high setting for 6 hrs and then it switched to warm for the next 3 hrs. I was rather impatient as I pulled it out of the dye and ended up burning myself but really it was worth it. The color has depth and shine now. Even though it was a hot day I couldn't wait so I put the yarn in my dehydrator to speed along the drying process.

After I finally cast off what should have been a really easy hat I pulled my dyed yarn out of the drawer already caked up and ready to go.

I've been trying really hard to knit from my queue so I picked Absinthe. I've looked at and admired this pattern for a while but hesitated to begin something that took a lot of concentration and focus as I have little of that in my life with my 3 small children.

With some trepidation I cast on. This pattern has not been without frustration for me as I'm not a chart reader. This is not how my mind works. I've had to fudge a few parts because damn if I'll frog and reknit cables mixed with increases!

These socks are only for me so I don't care if they are not perfectly perfect.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Projects and mishaps

I really don't keep this up mostly because I'm not sure anyone reads it but also because there are so many other fabulous resources for keeping up with knitting, specifically my knitting, than this blog. For now I'll pretend I've got at least one reader and update a bit.

May brought to our family many significant days. Mother's Day, of course, on which I now get the red carpet treatment and the birthdays of both my mother and my mother-in-law among several others. My mother was celebrating both her 50th birthday and her divorce finalization which was indeed a celebration in her case as it began the chapter of her life in which she has begun to find herself and live her life for herself. I wanted to do something special to commemorate that date and as a knitter that of course means knitting.

I wanted to make something that she would wear (I'm not sure she wears either pair of socks I've made her other than perhaps around the house) and that really seemed like it was "her". I decided on the Featherweight Cardigan in a heathery green color.

This did break a few of my own personal knitting guidelines as I had to buy a pattern which I generally avoid if I can find something I like as well that is free as it keeps the budget open for more yarn. But this also meant I was knitting a garment sized piece and in 3 weeks in lace weight yarn. I'm a pretty dedicated knitter and thus I worked on this project and this project alone during that time. I started on April 2 and finished on May 6th, certainly longer than the 3 weeks I'd allotted. It took so long in fact I didn't block it. I sent it to mom with a soap sample and instructions on how to block. I severely underestimated her confidence in herself to wash and care for this garment though.

She was very touched and appreciative though. I overheard her on the phone showing it off to coworkers and telling family about it which certainly made me feel good that I had made her so happy.

Yet still, it's not blocked and has not been worn.

Because of that I don't have a picture to show you. I will call mom soon on a day off with blocking instructions.

Enter Featherweight Dos.

I decided I loved the way this barely there cardigan looked on women of all ages and I wanted one. I had 3 skeins of lace weight in the same brand but a different color than the one I made for mom but I needed 4 for the largest size.

I searched on Ravelry first only to discover that this was a discontinued color. Luckily I turned up 1 full and 1 nearly full skein and got a great deal. My $10 cardigan was up and running. I wound and wound those lace weight balls and cast on. Things were groovy until I separated for the arms and then I started getting an inkling of doubt that this might be too big. I looked at the gauge and I looked at the sizing and reassured myself.

Once the sweater body was complete I started considering different collar options. I wanted something different. I considered a ruffle, some pretty lace, and poured through "Knitting on the Edge" by Nicky Epstein. I was so eager I scrapped all those fancy plans and did a 1x1 rib. That's when I took a closer look at the sleeves. They are HUGE.

Crappy camera phone at night pic:

I posted on Ravelry about my problem and was given solutions such as to rip out and reknit (not going to happen), make a dolman sleeve (that only makes me look fatter), and that it really doesn't look that bad.

It really does look that bad. This sweater has been sitting, hibernating on my knitting basket for 9 days now. I figure my options are to finish it and see just how bad it really turns out or to give it and the remaining yarn away to a larger friend and let her finish it.

One poster on Ravelry did suggest that the largest size was probably too big for me. I think I might agree now though according to the pattern this should fit me. If I ever get brave again I might try knitting another in a smaller size. I really do love the look of this beautiful, skimming cardigan that seems perfect for all seasons.