Owls for Eleanor

My grandniece Elly suffered a medical misadventure a couple of weeks ago that landed her in the ER with a badly cut and mangled finger. Wouldn’t you know it, not only was it badly cut, but the bone was also broken. The next morning she was taken into surgery for the repair and ended up with a purple cast. Sad, sad day.

Heading into surgery
Here she is heading into surgery…
After surgery
and here she is afterwards. See the purple cast?

The cast comes off in about a week, and I decided to make her some little purple fingerless mitts to wear as a little padding for that hand. She is into owls in a big way, so of course the mitts had to feature knitted owls.

Elly3_Cropped
Here they are, ready to fly to California. Hope they bring a little TLC to that finger!

These were a fast knit. I cast on 28 stitches and got started Friday and finished today. I used a bulky single ply yarn from Crystal Palace and size 7 and 9 needles. They go into the mail Monday, and I hope that she will like them. ūüôā

Elly looking at her mitts on the blog.
Elly discovering her mitts in the blog this morning. Look Mom! I’m in a blog!!

Morning update. I texted Elly’s mom this morning to let her know about the finished mitts and the blog posting. She likes them!

Knitting in the Key of LIfe

‚ÄúNow, let us all take a deep breath and forge on into the future; knitting at the ready.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Elizabeth Zimmerman, The Opinionated Knitter

The last four weeks have been terribly hectic for me. I’ve been fighting a chronic condition for some time now, and in May it decided to get ugly.¬†My wonderful doctor ordered a huge battery of tests, and wouldn’t you know it, I tested positive for an autoimmune condition. “Good to be diagnosed, but also a shame,” my doctor tells me. Things have been busy¬†for me as I’ve completed batteries of additional tests, visited new doctors, driven to new clinics, and started new medications. Huh. It’s like I’m starting a whole new life.

How best to respond to a body blow like this? Obviously the thing to do is to stay calm and knit! I have knitted though all the crisis of my life. I knitted a new sweater the week that my mom died, made a pair of socks while sitting in the ICU with an ill son, and created an afghan while recovering from surgery. Stranded in an airport for two days? No problem, I have knitting! Knitting can sooth and center me in a way few other things can. I feel calm, hopeful and pleased to be creating something of beauty and purpose during the process. Cheapest therapy around!

So, I made a pair of socks for my sister’s birthday present the week I was diagnosed. ¬†I then started a big project for one of my friends (a cushy vest that she can wear to Colorado Avalanche hockey games), ¬†and bought the yarn to make little purple mitts with owls on them for my grand-niece who just had hand surgery to repair a badly mangled finger. Still, I needed more. I needed to make… a cat!!

My cousin loves all things cat. We saw this meme that has been making it’s way around Facebook that shows a box of kittens with the ¬†“Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit” stenciled on the side. ¬†Of course she asked for a starter kit of¬†her own. Of course I started looking for a cute pattern to knit a cat. This pattern¬†by Kath Delmeny fit the bill.

Knitted Kitten
First kitten in the “Starter Kit” crate. We’ll have to get a larger crate as I add kittens!

Here it is. Cutest cat ever! I finished it today (on her birthday) and I couldn’t help posing it all over the yard. ¬†I’m so pleased with how spunky it is, and can’t help but imagine that it will be a little rascal that gets up to no good once it’s at her house.

Kitten in Flower Pot
Doesn’t this look like a kitten that will break house rules?

Why do I knit? Because it makes me feel wonderful!

That’s the best medicine ever.

‚ÄúKnit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ Elizabeth Zimmerman

 

Elephant Walk Socks

Every year, as soon as my taxes are filed, I head to the nearest yarn shop. I mean, how else am I going to recover from “I have to pay HOW much money this year?!” It’s kind of a ritual now. I buy yarn and needles that I don’t even have a project for; the whole point of the outing is get some joy and to feed the stash. That way I drive home happy, excited and¬†looking forward to some productive knitting. Taxes, what taxes? ūüôā

Elephant yarn.
Yarn I bought at a favorite yarn store on my way home from doing the taxes.

That’s how I ended up with this yarn (Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn). It’s kind of a happy yarn, don’t you think? I thought that it would make up into something fun for my sister. These are more her colors than mine, and I had plans to make her a little shawl in time for her birthday.

Well, all I can say is that the stash ate this yarn. I put it into the drawer with the other sock yarns, and I never thought about it again. Then, out of the blue, I saw a pattern for socks (Water for the Elephants by Rose Hiver) that I just loved, I dug in the stash for some crazy yarn and pulled this out. Sorry Sis. This yarn is meant to be patterned socks with elephant details. Who knew?

Yarn on the inside of the skein. Hmmm... what will this look like knitted up?
Yarn on the inside of the skein. Hmmm… what will this look like knitted up?

The reason why this yarn seems a little crazy is, no matter how I try to visualize what the final knitted piece will look like, I get surprised. I looked at the end of the skein, and I was pretty sure that I was looking at orange, green and some golden tan. The sequence looked promising, so I cast on.

Not matching socks
Well, who knew these socks would only look distantly related when finished?

Well, the socks turned out great. I just love the little elephants in the Turkish pattern. They fit perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Except… they don’t really match all that much. They kind of complement each other, so that is just the way it is going to be. Knitting, the great adventure. I wonder what this pattern will look like in fingerless mitts? I think that I will put the little elephants onto the palms…

Socks and Noro yarn.
The yarn that I used (Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn) made the two socks have very different colors.
Top and bottom pattern of the sock.
I just love the pattern in this sock. The pattern on the sole is pretty nifty, too.

UFO Rescue: Week 3. Hell hath no fury like an unloved sock…

OK, this was hell week. I took these cute, cute, cute lace socks out of their storage bag and decided that I would finish them up this week. The needles in the sock are a set of my new square double-pointed ones, and I really kind of wanted them back. I had the first sock worked all the way through the heel, and it seemed like it wouldn’t take that long to get them done.

Twisted Flower UFO
Here is the UFO as I took it out of the bag. Once I had figured out where I was in the pattern I was ready to start knitting.

These socks are the Twisted Flower pattern in Cookie A’s book knit.sock.love. I loved the socks as soon as I saw them in the book. The pattern is really interesting, and the design is cleverly laid out to make the pattern flow onto the heel and down the foot. The chart and directions are extremely clear. Fun! I couldn’t wait to get started on these socks¬†again.

Oh, boy. It wasn’t long before I remembered why these socks went UFO in the first place. The problem was¬†the yarn. I had bought this hand-dyed Bluefaced Leicester yarn at a local shop as I thought that the color was really nice. ¬†Once I got into the pattern, however, it displayed some truly unsavory yarn qualities. It was¬†a 4-ply fingering weight yarn, and should have been round enough to show off the pattern well. Well, the yarn was¬†round, but something ugly had occurred in the dyeing process (I think) and it had¬†the sullen¬†personality of garden twine. ¬†There was¬†absolutely no bounce in this yarn at all! It was¬†stiff and slippery; at every opportunity a stitch slipped¬†off a needle and unraveled down three rows in the blink of an eye. The individual ¬†plies of the yarn kept springing apart from one another and I kept splitting¬†the yarn with my needle.

This sock pattern has tons of personality and detail.
This sock pattern has tons of personality and detail.

Then there was the beautiful pattern designed by Cookie A. ¬†This¬†pattern involves¬†lace on every knitted row, cables, twisted stitches and a partridge in a pear tree. You need to read the chart forwards and backwards while manipulating the (slippery) little stitches. There was no way I could watch television while knitting; every bit of my attention needed to be focused on the chart and the sock. Normally this isn’t an issue as this type of knitting has a zen-Iike meditative quality, but things weren’t working out for me with the demon yarn. I¬†had to¬†use five¬†double-pointed needles and a cable needle while working; ¬†I tried four¬†different cable needles trying to find one that wouldn’t slip out. Yeah, right. The cable needle that I needed doesn’t exist. ¬† I began to pull on my hair and refer to socks as THE HELL SOCKS. ¬†More than once they came very close to entering orbit and becoming true UFOs!

Knitted Sock
Too cool for shoes. These babies will be my reading buddies next winter.

Beautiful socks. Wrong yarn.¬†I’m thinking now that I should have washed this yarn before using it to help it recover some of its life before I¬†started knitting. ¬†Oh well, lesson learned.

Tomorrow I am washing these socks to see what will happen. They are beautiful, but I am never putting these babies into shoes. They will grace my feet with their beautiful lace on cold nights while I am reading and remind me that art never shows how long it took, only how good a job you did.

 

 

 

UFO Rescue: Week 2

For the second week of rescue knitting I picked up a shawl that I had started last fall. It fell to the wayside when the weather got colder and I started working on Christmas presents and socks for the winter. Ignored and forgotten (and wearing some of my favorite stitch markers!) it  ended up getting stuffed into the back of the yarn stash closet.

Princess Shawl
UFO shawl and pattern the day I pulled it back out of the bag.

Poor thing! Hard to remember why it was abandoned in the first place.¬†¬†It’s kind of a cool pattern, the lace was pretty easy to learn once I was past the edging, and I like that¬†hand-painted pink yarn (Malabrigo Arroyo). ¬†I only had about a foot of the shawl knitted, so this was a¬†little bigger project than the ones I did last week, but still not too bad. I thought I should be able to make a lot of progress on it in a week.

English Rose
Princess Alexandra of Kent rose in my garden.

I took the shawl¬†out to work on¬†in the garden, and there it was. One of my new roses was blooming, and the color was¬†close to that of the shawl. ¬†The name of the¬†rose is ¬†‚ÄúPrincess Alexandra of Kent‚ÄĚ, and the colorway of the shawl yarn is¬† “English rose”. Wow! Synchronicity! Obviously¬†this UFO was meant to be rescued at exactly this moment.

Knitted Shawl
The finished shawl in my garden. I just love how international it is. The pattern is Norwegian, the yarn is ¬†from Uruguay, the yarn colorway is “English rose”, and I’ll be wearing it here in Colorado.

I named the shawl project “Princess Alexandra of Kent Shawl” on Ravelry and got to work. I knit like crazy all week, and the shawl was finished today. Time to prune the rose and to dive back into the UFO pile to find a project for the rest of the week.¬†I think that I’ll do a sock next…

UFO Rescue: Week 1

Monday I waded into the pile of UFOs that I had located in my big hunt last week, and pulled out two projects that I thought I could finish fairly quickly. I’ll be honest: I was motivated by needle recovery more than anything else. These two items are pretty easy to knit, so I thought I would be able to¬†work on them while watching television. ¬†Here they are.

Ugly MItts

I really liked this yarn when ¬†bought it. It’s a single ply yarn that is soft, soft, soft. I liked it so much that I ¬†bought two skeins and cast on to make a pair of mitts right away.

Yarn for the mitt
Malabrigo Worsted yarn in the colorway “Deja Vu”

The mitts did not show off the yarn very well. I knitted one mitt thinking that maybe the next one would look better. Nope. Not so much. I lost heart and quit about halfway through the second mitt.

Mitts with ugly yarn.
I decided that the yarn on these mitts was just too ugly to go on.

Well, enough is enough! Time to face the UFO pile down! I made myself a nice caramel latte, put some cookies on a¬†plate by the latte mug and¬†then pulled the mitts out of the storage bag. There, that wasn’t so bad. I¬†finished knitting the second mitt while reading (so it wouldn’t be too painful), and then took them out for their picture. Funny, I was wearing a pink top and some moss green pants, and the mitts actually looked kind of nice. I’m thinking of maybe keeping the second skein of yarn and might make a cowl from it. It sure is soft yarn…

Finished Ugly Mitts
Finished mitts. They aren’t all that I hoped for when I bought the yarn, but they look better to me now than they did. ūüôā

Bronco Baby Booties

I started these booties using yarn dyed by Luna Grey Fiber Arts in Denver Bronco football colors a few weeks ago, and then put them aside while knitting some fun socks for myself. The trouble is that the booties use the same size double-pointed needle (2.25 mm) as most of my socks. Since I just finished those origami socks (June Beetle), I decided to complete the booties while the needles were free. These are square needles, and I just love them as my hands never get tired and the stitches come out looking really even.

Baby booties made from the family pattern in Denver Bronco team colors.
Baby booties made from the family pattern in Denver Bronco team colors.

I kind of like knitting these booties as they remind me of my grandma, and I got them done this morning while it was raining outside. Yeah! Two UFOs moved to the finished objects pile.

Only 14 more UFOs to go…

If anyone else has been inspired to attack their UFO collection, let me know what you are working on. This is kind of fun. ¬†ūüôā

UFO Hunt

It seems like all of my stitch markers have gone missing, and there are several empty knitting needle holders in my needle drawer. This is the point where I have been known to go out and buy more needles, but today I decided to take my courage in hand and to go on an UFO hunt.

Pile of UFOs
Here they are! This is the pile of the 16 UFOs that I located in my stash and craft room.

UFOs are, as every knitter knows, UnFinished Objects. Those knitted works in progress that fell out of favor one day and were pushed to the bottom of the knitting basket or the back of the stash cabinet. Basically, they are kind of unloved and abandoned. It happens for a lot of reasons: the knitted fabric wasn’t what was hoped for, the color was icky, the fit seemed unflattering, a difficult pattern caused headaches, a disheartening knitting error, and so on.

Mitts with ugly yarn.
I decided that the yarn on these mitts was just too ugly to go on. UFO status was instantly obtained!

Well, I tore the craft room and the stash closet apart and recovered all of those UFOs. Wow! This is what I got:

  • 4 sweaters
  • 3 shawl/scarfs
  • 2 vests
  • 3 socks
  • 1 baby bootie
  • 2 mitts
  • 1 lacy wrist cuff

Good grief! Sixteen UFOs! No wonder I don’t have any more stitch markers in my knitting bag.  I organized the UFOs into groups and made some decisions.

Sweater and hat partly knitted.
Some items I just don’t like but the yarn is worth saving. I’m going to rip them out and get the yarn back.
Pink UFOs
Some items were abandoned because they were demanding too much attention. I’m going to suck it up and finish these!
Scarf and Mitt
This scarf and mitt are really nice, but the yarn wasn’t working right in the design. The mitt will get a different finish at the top and the scarf will be re-knitted in a leaf lace pattern.

The biggest UFO of all was this Alice Starmore cardigan/coat that I have had packed away for over 15 years. I think that the Hunter Green color went out of fashion and I quit working on it. What was I thinking of?

Sweater detail
Beautiful Starmore sweater left to languish in the back of the stash.

This definitely needs to be finished;¬†I was doing the decreases at the neckline when I packed it away! The steeks at the armholes look almost large enough for the sleeves. I don’t even know where the pattern is at anymore, but I must have it somewhere. Another hunt! ūüôā I packed the sweater away again to save for the winter and cold weather knitting. In a perfect world I’ll have it done before the end of the year.

Today I started on the ugly mitts as I want to get those needles back. If I just do one UFO every week or two I should have most of my needles and stitch markers back by the end of summer. It’s a plan!