Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I should be writing about how I finished that sweater....

but I'm not. Well, I technically did finish Vesper that I talked about a few weeks ago. Notice that "technically" that I threw in there? Because the knitting really is done - I just have to weave in ends from 14 balls of yarn. In linen. In the round, so not in some inconspicuous side seams. Sigh. It's cute though, and I might actually wear it one day. I think I'm going to bring it to my knit group tonight so my friends can beat me down until I do the finishing on it.

But what I am going to talk about is the contest. I'm terribly excited when people ask me about it or tell me they have stuff to send me. It's amazing how small the internet makes the world & how supportive people from all corners of the world are.

Look at what is coming my way:

whipped this hat out (and if you visit her blog you will see the cutest little girl ever!)
Sherilyn hat - contest

Deedee from California (knitnurd on Ravelry) asked about where to send hat so I went poking around in her projects & found this hat that she made for the contest:
deedee charity hat
I love this hat & actually have this book - I hadn't even thought about it. I might have to make one because it looks like such fun!

So contest details here, still plenty of time - I won't be doing the prize drawing until May 30. Thank you everyone for your support - it really means a lot to me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does This Pattern Really Exist?

In a time that we can find anything we ever wanted to see (& lots of things that we never wanted to see on the internet), I find myself in uncharted territory. I'm knitting something that doesn't exist. There are no pictures on the pattern. There are no pictures on the internet. There is no mention of this pattern on Ravelry. There is no "designer" listed on the pattern, no copyright notes. So does it even really exist?

Well, I know for a fact that it does because I saw it in the wild. I bought this kit when I went to Stitches East in October last year. I was in the Ruhama's / Isager Knit booth & I saw a woman walking around wearing The.Prettiest.Shawl. I asked her about it & she said "I just bought the last kit" really snotty like. I was kind of sad but figured it was fate that I didn't get the last kit & moved on. Kinda. I kept thinking about it. It was just SO pretty. It would go with EVERYTHING. It was simple and classic. I thought about it for days. I finally went & asked one of people manning the booth about it & they would be happy to ship me a kit as soon as they got home. HOORAY!

Shawl kit

When I got the kit the next week I was so excited to see the pattern & remember what it looked like but...yeah, no picture, but I was ok with that. It did have a name, Sangre de Cristo Shawl. Last Tuesday night at about 11:30pm I had a burning desire to cast on for this shawl. (Don't ask me why I do this to myself but I have to tell you, every single time that happens I am so happy that I have a huge stash of yarn, swift/ball winder, & tons of needles at my house.) I started this shawl & now...I'm totally addicted. Wednesday I drug it with me to two knitting meet ups (yes, Wednesday is a really rough day for me, why do you ask?) and I had people asking me loads of questions about it.

* What are you making? Where is the picture? What do you mean you don't have a picture?
* But where can I find it online?
* Did you look for it on Ravelry (because seriously, every pattern known to knitters everywhere is on Ravelry, right? Apparently not.)
* But what is it going to look like?
* If it's a shawl shouldn't you be doing some increases or something?

It's like knitting a mystery shawl that isn't a mystery to me! It's a mystery to everybody else. It's a fun experience & I honestly can't believe how spoiled we have gotten to just pull up pictures on the internet or phone or put pictures on a blog. I have to assume that pre-internet there wasn't immediate information about every knitting pattern known to man. It's a new experience for me & for everyone I am knitting around. So here's a peek at what it looks like.


Now it's my personal mission to get this thing finished so it will exist in the world. And then everyone will know how beautiful & will have no doubt as to why I fell in love with it the minute I saw it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sometimes knitting makes we want to cry.

For whatever reason I became completely obsessed with making this Vesper sweater:
Flickr Photo used with permission of pipibird

I bought this Linen Isle on clearance with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it.
This yarn/pattern combination kept haunting me so I decided to go for it. I printed out the pattern, got out my yarn & needles, & knit a swatch. So far so good. Then I started reading the pattern. Cast on 432 stitches. Wow. And one Ravelry user had done some mods that I wanted to incorporate which called for that to be a provisional cast on. Wow. I almost just put the whole thing down & said forget it right there. But you know, I'm supposed to be pushing myself to learn new things this year, so I wanted to just go for it. I found a video at the Knitting at Knoon website & decided that was the easiest way for me. I sat through a 2 hour movie and STILL hadn't cast on all of those stitches. I just went with it until it was over & you know, it wasn't all that bad. This is definitely an easier method than other things I have tried. Now the issue is that I had 432 stitches on my needles & other than some short rows, I needed to knit all 432 of those stitches for quite while. So I did. And then I realized that I made a ridiculous stupid mistake - I hadn't done my short rows long enough & it wasn't going to be right. I re-read the pattern shaking my head wondering how in the world I didn't see the obvious instructions on that piece of paper!

There are 2 schools of thought on making a knitting project. Some people think you should read through each detail of the pattern & know what you are doing. Some people think you should never read ahead because it will just confuse you & you have to trust the process. I had read nothing but great things about how clever this pattern was so when I read ahead a little & it made no sense, I didn't trust myself. I told myself to just trust the process & when I got to the next part it would make sense. You know what? I'm a pretty smart cookie & I should have known. I should have trusted my gut when it looked like something was wrong. No, the pattern wasn't wrong, but the next step didn't match up with my fabric. Because I SCREWED UP THE KNITTING PART. One day I'm going to believe that I do kinda know what I'm doing & not continue down the path that leads to frogging all of my work!

I ripped back 10 inches of knitting 432 stitches & started over. Now I'm about 3 inches from being done with the body, I need to add a little length to the sleeves, and then knit the pleats around the neckline. I am really really hoping to have this finished so I can wear it to Disneyworld when I go on April 5th. I'd love to have a picture with Mickey and/or Minnie wearing something I knitted! How cool would that be?

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Contest Time Q&A - Headquarters & up to date prizes HERE.

A few people have asked me some questions about the contest so I thought I'd put them here. I'm also going to keep listing the up-to-date prizes on this post, so check back often - I keep getting new stuff!

Tell me the details again, please.
Knit chemo caps in any child's size to be donated to Children's Hospital in New Orleans in memory of Adrianna Cavanaugh. Email me at bijouxmasteratgmaildotcom & I will send you an address to mail your finished hats. Your name will go into a drawing for each hat donated. Drawing will be held May 30, 2010.

Do I have to use one of the patterns from your queue?
Absolutely not! Use whatever pattern you want or make up your own. I just know I get stuck sometimes & need a push in the right direction.

I'm not a knitter, I'm a crocheter. Will you accept crocheted hats?

Yes, please crochet some adorable hats.

What kind of yarn should I use?
Again, I really don't care what kind of yarn you use, but it needs to be something really soft & preferably machine washable. Some yarns that I like for this purpose (but you don't have to use these!):
Berroco Comfort
Rowan Calmer
Caron Simply Soft
Berroco Pure Merino or Pure Merino DK
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in any weight
Fiesta Yarns Boomerang
Rowan Classic Cashsoft - any weight
Lorna's Laces Worsted or DK
This is just an example of yarns I had in my stash that would work.

What are you going to do with the hats if you get more than Children's Hospital in New Orleans needs?
Well, I hope I have this problem. If I do, I will check withe Sloan Kettering which is another hospital where Adrianna spent a good deal of her time after her diagnosis. If I have more than they need, then I will check with local hospitals here in the Dallas area or send them to St. Jude - another favorite charity of mine. They will be distributed wherever there is a need! Send them on & I'll be sure they are put to good use.

Can I podcast / blog / post in my Rav group about your contest?
Yes, please do! The more the merrier - I'd love to be swamped with hats. You can email me or leave me a comment if you do just because I'm curious & will go check it out.

I really don't like to knit hats. Do I have to knit something to win?
Well, I thought about this one & you know what? If you'd prefer to make a donation to one of the charities that are special to the Cavanaugh family, I'm good with that. Your name will go into the drawing for every $10 donation you make to one of the following organizations:
Band of Parents Foundation
PO Box 335
Dewittville, NY 14728

or to
Children's Hospital, New Orleans, LA
Forward your receipt to my email & I will put your name in the hat. So to speak.

Are you knitting hats too?
Yes, in between all my other knitting I will be knitting as many as I can crank out. And for those of you that know me best - no, I'm not going to put my name in the drawing, though I'd like to because my prizes rock. (you know you were wondering!)

What can I win?
The ever changing prize corner

Wollmeise in the Vroni colorway
VM Vroni


Brooks Farms Acero in this great color - 2 skeins.
BF Acero


My sweet friend Dawn (of Knit Naturally Podcast fame & texaspurlgurl on Ravelry) has generously donated a Scentsy Full Sized System - you get a full sized warmer of your choice & 3 Scentsy bars. If you haven't tried Scentsy yet, it is a wickless candle system & I love mine to pieces. Go check it out.


Handgefaerbt Merino Extra Fine Superwash in Lord of the Vampires
Handfarts lord of vampires for contest
Graciously donated by Liz (aka happytexan) & I seriously want to steal this one, but I won't. I mean, she won't give it to me. LOL


Yarn Pirate in Hawt Pink
Yarn Pirate for contest
Graciously donated by Dawn (aka texaspurlgurl)


A Verb For Keeping Warm Organic Worsted Merino
Graciously donated by my friend Lyn (aka downwarddogfbrs)


Brooks Farm Primero
Graciously donated by my friend Lyn (aka downwarddogfbrs)

Prism Custom Dyed Lace Wool
Generously donated by Sherilyn aka Sherilyn on Ravelry.

Madeline Tosh, Tosh sock in Fjord. Yum. Bought this at The Loopy Ewe this weekend.
Tosh sock Fjord

I will be giving them all away to different people based on a random number generator.

If you have any other questions, email me or put it in the comments.
Knit on!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Contest time!

I'm having a contest!
Want to know what you are going to win? Well, YARN of course. Some fantabulous yarn. There will be as many drawings as I have prizes for and I can't give you a final number because no telling what I'll come up with by the deadline. These will be given away for sure.

Wollmeise in the Vroni colorway
VM Vroni

Brooks Farms Acero in this great color - 2 skeins.
BF Acero
(my disclaimer is that I am only giving this up because I will see them in April & this gives me a good excuse to buy more. Because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this yarn. Just sayin.)

My sweet friend Dawn (of Knit Naturally fame & texaspurlgurl on Ravelry) has generously donated a Scentsy Full Sized System - you get a full sized warmer of your choice & 3 Scentsy bars. If you haven't tried Scentsy yet, it is a wickless candle system & I love mine to pieces. Go check it out.

Here's what I want you to do. I am collecting chemo caps to send to Childrens Hospital in New Orleans in honor of my cousin's daughter Adrianna. You can read her story HERE. Bring your kleenex if you want to visit the site, but it really is an amazing story & this little girl touched so many lives in her short stay on this earth that it's unbelievable. That's really all I want to say about that.

I will be focusing on toddler sized caps, but you are welcome to knit any size hat that would be useful at a children's hospital. If you aren't sure what to knit & want some ideas, you can visit my Ravelry queue & I have a tab labeled "adrianna" with 20ish patterns in there (Tasha's queue). I link that but I don't want to hear any crap about how many patterns I have queued OR how anal I am about organizing it. Incidentally, I also have a tab labeled "chemo" if you ever want to stalk my queue for chemo caps in general. Or any other category, really.

What do you need to do? You can email me at bijouxmasteratgmaildotcom & let me know that you have hats to donate. I will send you an address to mail them to. Then, on May 30, 2010 I will have a drawing . Your name will go into a drawing for every hat you send me between now & then.

That's about it! You can email me questions or leave them in the comments. Get to knitting!

ETA: Just visited the site to make sure the link is working & realized that the day I posted this is exactly to the day 1 year since Adrianna was admitted to the hospital & they discovered her Neuroblastoma. This was pure accident if you believe in coincidence I suppose.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Olympic Fail - kinda

I had really high hopes for the Knitting Olympics this year.  For those of you who don't know, Knitting Olympics or Ravelympics is an event started by the Yarn Harlot for the 2006 Olympic games.  The premise is to chose a challenging project, cast on during the opening ceremonies, finish before the end of the 17 days of the Winter Olympics.
This year I decided to work on my languishing Works in Progress because well, I had a pile of them, as you know since I bared my soul last month.  In the meantime I dealt with a bunch of them, but I wanted to work on a few of them using a "balls to the wall" approach.  Sigh.  My plans have been foiled once again & I'll tell you why.

Triple S Shawl
I'm using this yarn:
Solo Silk for Triple S
My intention when I chose these colors was to go against what are really safe color combinations for me.  This was a stretch but I really like it & I was excited to see how it turned out.  I finished one strip of the shawl & I just have to say it - I don't like the brown & green skein mixed into the shawl.  It actually has some orange tones in it & I really really don't care for orange.  Everyone who has seen it assures me it is pretty so I thought I could push through.  I got about six more squares in & just came to the point where I know I won't be happy with it.  Brooks Farm will be at DFW Fiber Fest in April, so I figured I'll bring what I have up there & try to find another color that I'll be happy with it.  I put it to rest so guess what?  Disqualified.  No medal.

Noni Adventure Bag
Noni Adventure Bag
This stupid bag.  I put this down sometime in 2007 because my yarn was all tangled up.  What a wimp!  I literally only had to knit the i-cord handle, felt the thing, then do the finishing.  I finished the handle in like an hour on the first day of the olympics.  I needed to do the felting & have read that you really should put it in a zippered pillow case so that your washer doesn't get clogged up.  I wanted to take that step because well, I can't really have my washer screwed up right now.  So it took me about a week to get around to going to Big Lots & finding a washable sham that would work.  Have I felted it yet?  Hell no.  Don't ask me why - it's like I have a huge mental block about this.  Check with me in a few years - maybe I'll have it done by then.  (or maybe after the olympics as I seem to be rebelling against the deadline).  Disqualified.  No medal. 

Not So Striped Tee
This is the best picture I have of the way the yarn was knitting up. 
Not striped tee
I put this down because I was honestly just bored.  I picked it back up & knit about 4 rows on it then decided I needed to have a little talk with myself.  Would I honestly wear this sweater?  I like the sweater.  I like the yarn.  I wasn't really a fan of them together.  The yarn was striping a little more than I wanted it to, and I seriously don't need any horizontal stripes across my stomach area.  This yarn is great & I love it, but I think it is better suited for a shawl in this colorway.

This is actually how far along I was on it - sorry for the crappy photo.  I couldn't find my camera when I decided to tear it out but needed to click a quick picture for the committee. 
frog sweater

So I tore it out & ended up with this:
BF Willow

I really consider this a fail because I didn't end up with a sweater. did qualify for the Aerial Unwind event in the Ravelympics, so the act of tearing it out earned me this:
HOORAY!  I love a semi-happy ending.

This was a sweater that I started in March 2008.  I never thought I would wear this the way it was written since I'm not much of a vest-ish person.  I figured I could just add some sleeves & it would be a great spring sweater to wear over sun dresses & such (you know, since I wear sun dresses so often).  Well, I finished the sweater nearly as written.  The only change I made when I was knitting the body was to not do the gathered shoulder - I just did a 3 needle bind off which made the shoulder seam pretty long.  To be honest, I just didn't know how to approach adding sleeves.  I got stuck & put it down for nearly 2 years.  There really was not much actual knitting left to do, it was just a matter of sitting down with it & figuring out how to add some type of sleeve that would look good.  And I needed to do something about the fronts that were curling like crazy. 

I brought my problem child to the smartest woman I know, Alissa Barton (aka Knitting Fairy) and she helped me out.  For the curling she had me crochet all the way around the front & when that didn't fix it, I did a reverse double crochet around again.  That took for-freakin-ever because I'm a sucky & slow crocheter.  She also gave me some advice on picking up for the sleeves.  Well, let me tell you, that crocheting was a cake walk compared to the trouble I had with the sleeves.  I pulled them out..oh, I don't know...probably 3 times?  It was like Goldilocks - too many stitches, not enough stitches, just right stitches but the pattern looked like ass.  I finally settled on stockinette sleeves edged with the lace rib pattern that is at the bottom of the sweater.

I'm not entirely happy with the sleeve length - I had hoped that there was enough yarn for me to do do 3/4 length of long sleeves.  Somewhere in the past 2 years I wised  up to the fact that I likely won't be throwing this on over a sun dress & that a cotton long sleeve sweater in Texas would be useful.  I went so far as to weigh the yarn I had left & figured I would knit sleeve #1 until I was half way, then knit the other.  It hits me right below the elbow, which I suppose is acceptable, but I'd still prefer it to be longer.  Here she is in all her glory:
I thought about adding one button at the bust, but for now I'm going to operate under the assumption that I can use a sweater clip to keep it closed.
Ophelia earned me this medal:
WIP medal - Ravelympics 2010

After I realized that some of my projects weren't working out, it seemed that I was going to have more time to work on a new project.  I had been really stalking these colorwork mittens:
Deep in the Forest Mittens
I had some yarn in my stash that I thought would work for them
Deep in the Forest Mittens
Well, as it turns out, that ivory yarn was too thick.  I also had some ivory cashmere in my stash & I tried to use that.  Yeah, that didn't work out either.  So new last minute entry: Disqualified.  No medal.

What I learned about myself is really what I already knew.  I really don't like knitting on a deadline & I rebel against time lines.  This is my hobby & is supposed to be fun - this go round I wasn't having fun.  I did start something new I'll talk about another day & I'm happy to say that I only spent about a week in no-fun knitting land.  It's good to be back to normal.