Saturday, January 31, 2009

Double-Pointed Needle Case

Last weekend, I had an inspiration for a way to keep my double-pointed knitting needles organized. I have enough pairs now that it was getting to be cumbersome to keep them in the little plastic sleeves they come in so that I knew what size they were and so that I didn't loose one of the five needles. I was inspired by a jewelry case my sister gave me from China, and by a notebook I have that has sleeves for colored pencils to go along with it. I didn't write the idea down and luckily I found the time today to try out the idea before it was long forgotten.

The basic plan is that there is a inside fabric (purple stars) with quilting batting behind it. I took another fabric that is half the backing height and sewed to it at the bottom and sides. I started with my smallest needles and made vertical pockets for each pair, leaving room for the sizes I don't yet have. I may eventually use a fabric marker to label the sizes on the pockets.
I was using fabric scraps from my collection which is why I ended up with two different colors of the velvety upholstery fabric for the pockets. After making the inside, I pieced together quilting fabric in stripes for the outside, and sewed the layers together with ribbons coming out the right side.
The long rectangle rolls up starting with the smallest needles, and ending with the largest and then a few extra slots I made with the extra space.
Now all my double-pointed needles are now safe and sound in one case.

Monday, January 26, 2009


We ventured out into the yard as the golden yellow sun was waning on Saturday afternoon. I love the cool blue shadows and warm orange lights created by the setting sun. The snow is deep, you can see it is up to the first rail in the split rail fence. There are a variety of animal tracks across the snow. I used some pseudo-snowshoes to keep from sinking in to my knees, leaving behind tennis racket sized tracks. Here's a view of the garden, the rounded mounds and the pole for the electric fence are all that hint at the beds below. I read other gardeners' blogs who live further south and are beginning spring planting. We've still got a long way to go.
The remains of my brussels sprouts that I didn't pulled before the snow came.
Warm temperatures the day before brought compacted snow and ice down off the roof. My husband got this shot of the upside-down icicle. It reminds me of a stalagmite.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Boatneck Sweater Progress Update

This sweater is taking much longer than I intended because other projects took precedence over the holidays. However, this past week I finally finished the front and back of the body. Earlier this month I'd taken this sweater along to a Saturday morning meeting and knit the whole front of the sweater from the armholes up, only to figure out when I got home that it was supposed to be ribbed. So I had to take out a lot of work and start on the section from the armholes again.

Now I'm working on the first arm. I'm knitting them in the round until I get to the armhole shaping. I'm enjoying using a new pair of knitting needles that I got from Grafton Fibers this week. They are the lovely Darn Pretty bubblegum stripe, with colors of blue and pink and are so smooth to knit with. I heartily recommend their needles.

It's time to devote more time to this sweater so I can finish it before winter's over. After knitting the quick top-down Shalom sweater on a larger gauge this past weekend, I think my next sweater will be with larger needles and yarn so that the project moves more quickly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shalom Sweater

I had this wool/nylon blend yarn that I bought a few years ago on sale at Jo-Ann's. I though it was gorgeous and I thought I might make a sweater out of it so I bought 7 balls. Last fall I decided I would make a sweater. I wasn't experienced at finding patterns and matching them to yarn but I found a simple sweater that called for 7 balls. I knit the front and the back of the pattern on size 5 needles, but as I finished the back, I found I had only one ball of yarn left and had not yet done the sleeves. I knew one ball would not do it, and the yarn was long gone from Jo-Ann's. It turned out the sleeve requirements were listed seperately. So I stuffed the front and back of the sweater in a drawer in the craft room until I figured out what to do with it. I moved on to knitting socks and other things.

This year I decided to try again at my first sweater with the boat neck pattern and by ordering the yarn based on the pattern not vice versa. The pattern has been slow going since it is on size 5 needles, but the front is finished and the back is about 20 rows away from being done too. However, I wanted something more interesting in my current knitting.

I found this pattern for a Shalom sweater on Ravelry. It is knit top down on larger needles with large yarn and so everyone who made it remarked about what a fast knit it was. I entered the yarn from last year's sweater into Ravelry and found that I would have plenty for this sweater. So I unravelled last year's unfinished sweater into two balls and began knitting on Saturday night. I've been knitting every free minute since and finished the sweater on Tuesday night.

Now for the details. I used size ten and a half needles. The only modification I made was to increase the number of stitches cast on after you bind off for the tops of the arm holes. I cast on an extra ten on each side. The pattern said that the sweater would be long, but I think my gage was running small because I did all 115 rows.

I'm very happy with it and look forward to wearing it after I wash it to even out some of the stitches.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Seeds for 2009

The seed catalogs have been rolling in ever since Christmas. I finally broke down last night and ordered some because there were two things I really wanted for my garden in 2009: golden beets and red dragon carrots.

I looked through the catalogs and decided to order from Peaceful Valley because their packets were $1.99, and they the price if you order more than 5 packets, and if you only order seeds, shipping starts at $2. It seemed like everything was meant to be. They had golden beets and dragon carrots from Seeds of Change in the catalogue. I picked out a few other things and then went to order online. Would you believe, that both golden beets and dragon carrots were out of stock! I checked on Seeds of Change, but their note on the dragon carrots says that there is no seed as of 12/31/08. What a bummer.
After seeing the dragon carrots on Dan's site this summer I really wanted to plant them next year. So I paged through the other catalogs at my fingertips and found some Purple Haze Hybrid Carrots, and Burpee's Golden beets. They were more expensive and shipping was more, but I really wanted these two things.

Here are my new seeds for 2009:

Burpee Golden Beet
Purple Haze Carrot
National Pickling Cucumber
Blue Lake Bush Beans (oops, I meant to order pole!)
Freckles Lettuce
Yellow Chard: Pot of Gold

I'll be using these seeds left over from 2008 (and years past)

Bright Lights Rainbow Chard
Dark Green Bush Zucchini
Chantenay Red Core Carrots (though they didn't have a red core)
Danver's Carrots
Oak Leave Lettuce
Longstanding Bloomsdale Spinach
Romano Bush Beans
Lacinato Kale
Santo Cilantro
Bouquet Dill
Ruby Queen Beets
Cherrybelle Radishes
Catskill Long Island Brussels Sprouts
Sugar Daddy Sugar Snap Peas
There maybe more seeds in the jar that never made it on my list and I'll find them tucked in there come spring.

Also this year I saved seeds from my marigolds and nasturtium. I also saved a few tomato seeds from some heirlooms from the store but I'm not sure I have the set up to start them properly. Maybe I'll give it a try anyways. I do plan to have tomatoes and a few hot peppers, but will need seedlings. I'd like broccoli too but probably won't start it from seed either since I only have room for a few plants. The garden plan is still very much up in the air.

P.S. In writing this post I looked back at
Dan's site, and he said he found them on Seed Savers Exchange. I checked there and they are available on that site, but I'd already placed my other orders. I don't really need purple AND red carrots in addition to the orange varieties still in the refrigerator from last year. So I guess Dragon Carrots will have to wait for another year.

Monday, January 12, 2009


It has been wonderfully wintery lately with plenty of snow and chilly temperatures. We've had fresh snow every few days since we returned from our Christmas holiday. I've received many seed catalogues in the mail, but otherwise nothing is happening on the gardening front. Instead I'm enjoying the new snow by cross-country skiing whenever I can get away from school right after the students leave. There's a short window since students leave around 3:30 pm and the sun sets around 4:30 pm. Luckily this week we start our winter sports program with the students and I'll be taking a group cross-country skiing Wednesday afternoon. I don't get quite as much exercise this way, but it is still a lot of fun.

On the craft front, I'm trying to get moving on my sweater I started back on the fall. I thought I was close to finishing the body. Instead,it has been a many rows forward and a many rows back lately. I missed a line in the pattern to start ribbing and so knitted all Saturday morning during a training, only to figure out that evening that the 50 rows had to be taken out. I already have my eye on another sweater pattern I'd like to try, but I need to finish this one first. I've also started a scarf for myself. The last scarf I made myself was sometime back in 2003. I'm over due for a new one. I'll post more about it when I'm a little further along.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Koolhaas Hat

I decided this Fall that after Christmas knitting projects finished it would be time for a new hat and scarf for myself. On our journeys over the Christmas holiday, we stopped in a Tuesday Morning store in Georgia. As we browsed, I found two skeins of lovely purple angora and wool yarn by Elsebeth Lavoid that was half price. I scooped it up.

After adding it to my stash on Ravelry, I looked to see what projects others had made with the same yarn. I found an intriguing pattern called Koolhaas with a waffle like pattern on the hat. I had to wait until we returned home to start the hat since I didn't have the right size needles along. As soon as we were home, I cast on the pattern. Today was a snow day so I got to finish it up.
The first time I knit through the ribbing and decided the hat would be too big. The last hat I made for myself doesn't fit snug enough and so I don't wear it. So I tore it out and started again with 88 stitches instead of the 104 in the pattern. I also used size 7 needles instead of 8 because I didn't want to go out and buy another set of needles. The pattern called for 4 repeats of the waffle pattern for women, but I made 5 because I really wanted to make sure that the hat could be pulled down to cover all of my ears in cold weather. The pattern is a slow knit because of all the cabling, but I'm happy with the way it's turned out. Best of all, it covers my ears!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jaywalker Socks

Ever since I joined Ravelry back in April, I'd had the Jaywalker sock pattern down as one that I wanted to try. I just needed self-stripping sock yarn for the pattern. After making 9 pairs of mini-mittens, I had most of a skein of green, white & grey self-stripping sock wool left. As I knit the foot, it seemed baggy to me after making so many of the Francie socks, but it turned out just fine. The sock pairs turned out similar in their pattern because the yarn happened to be close in the pattern repeats when I started the second sock.
The past a pair of socks has taken me about a month. I started these on Christmas day, and finished them less than a week later, on New Year's Eve. I knit them so fast because we had lots of time sitting and visiting with family, and traveling in the car. In fact, I've finished up all the knitting projects I brought along and we haven't made it back home yet. Next Christmas I'll bring more knitting.

Here is a detail of the zig-zag pattern.