Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Crazy times

Hey everyone! So another week has passed by and let me tell you it has been a crazy week around here.

Most exciting, S came home from Indiana for a visit. We had 11 days to just hang out and do alot of nothing together. . . or so we planned. Life of course always has a way of intervening doesn't it?

Friday I came home from work a bit early, around 3:45pm. Now the day before on my drive home I noticed smoke and the whole drive home wondered where the fire was. I got increasingly anxious as I got closer to home and realized that the fire was somewhere close by. No worries though, it was somewhere past our neighborhood (and I never actually did determine exactly where).

So Friday when I drove home and saw another fire, I just thought to myself, well this one probably isn't in the neighborhood either. I started to realize I was really wrong when I turned into the neighborhood and 1/2 a mile away people were out in their yards looking down the street. Yep, the fire was clearly on my block. As I got closer I could see all the fire engines and that the police had our block blocked off. I went to the next street over to park and could see over the houses that the fire was right where our house should be.

You know, adrenaline coursing through your body is not such a nice feeling. I kicked off my sandals and ran barefoot around the corner to our street. Big black billows of smoke everywhere. When I got around the corner I could see the smoke was right over our roof but our house was not on fire (of course the words in my head were "yet").

Apparently, a fire started near the alley of one of my neighbor's house. It burned their garage to the ground and then came into my next door neighbor's yard. The people next door lost two garages and everything in the back yarn (trees now black crispy sticks). Luckily for us, the fire fighters stopped the fire there. One of the garages that burned is within 8 foot of our house.

The good news here is that no one was hurt. Also good, it was only garages and yards that were lost. Scary stuff though to think about my four boys trapped in my house with a fire so close by! They were definitely a bit on the frantic side when we got into the house, but settled down after a few hours. Nothing like smoke, siriens, and lots of people to reassure animals hmm?

Needless to say, the rest of our Friday (and Saturday for that matter) ended up being fire-related. Neither neighbor had electricity so we pitched in to drag some extension cords down so they could at least have a light on at each house. We also helped our next door neighbors (who are in their 80s and were already talking about assisted living even before the fire) with contacting insurance and talking to all the people who show up.

Let me tell you, we have some great fire fighters here. They did a great job and were so very helpful even after the fire. At one point we had 6 trucks here. Which I guess makes sense since in my mind at least three houses were threatened (and damage happened on two properties). Did I mention that there was a large propane tank in one of the garages that exploded before I got home? Apparently that caused quite a noise and threw shrapnel quite some distance.

Nothing like a little excitement hmm?

This photo may give you some sense of what's left of the neighbors' yards (usually there would be a fence along the back there that would block the view of the alley and the yard and white wall of the neighbor across the way.

So after all that craziness, S and I decided we did want to relax a bit on Sunday and what would a trip to California be without a visit to the beach? So early Sunday off we went to our favorite beach destination, Crystal Cove State Park (no roller bladers and starlet-wanna-be-s here!).

This was the view when we first arrived.

Nope, don't adjust your screen ... you're seeing it correctly, overcast, foggy, cold. It was absolutely beautiful! The marine layer was dense and it was quiet and great for sitting in a chair with a sweatshirt on.

A few hours later, in typical southern California fashion, the clouds burnt off and we had beautiful blue skies and sun.

Can't ask for much more that an 80 degree day at the beach in October. =]

So S and I left the beach Sunday and he flew back to South Bend on Monday ... right into SNOW! Laugh ... yep quite the contrast. Sounds like the northeast has a bit of an early winter. I'll try not to rub it in, but I love being here where it will get into the 80s again today.

So has there been any knitting between visits and fires... a little. I started the bulky cabled cardigan by Stephanie Japel (see picture at top). I think I really don't like it. Why do I knit clothing with bulky yarn? It probably will be terrible. Somehow I still haven't decided to frog it yet though. I'm almost finished with the body now (only the body trim to do). I think I'll do one sleeve to see how that looks and then decide. Don't let me do bulky again, OK?

Friends don't let friends knit bulky.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cable Luxe Tunic done!

Call the press... throw a party ... the cable luxe tunic is done AND it fits!

This was a project that I was really skeptical about when I first started reading about it. Everyone (and I'm not exaggerating, every post I read about it) talked about the problems with the pattern. Nevertheless, I was literally compelled to cast on. It was the yoke and the cables -- I'm a sucker for texture and cables just do it for me.

So I started with the cabled yoke -- which is what initially drew me to this sweater. Love the garter stitch top and the cabled section. Once that was done it was down to the body. I loved the top but will admit I wasn't in love with the body as it finished up.

After a bit of a break, I picked the sweater back up and started on the sleeves. After at least one false start (maybe two, I've repressed the memories), off I went to sleeve island. The first sleeve was slow. You know the feeling (I know you do), you knit and knit and knit and you feel like you're no closer to the end. Then at knit-night, suddenly I was at least half way through the first sleeve and I felt the end was possible.

A dedicated weekend of knitting and one sleeve done! Now I love the sweater. Having that long sleeve just pulled it all together. The second sleeve came together in no time and Saturday I cast off and wove in the ends!

I had fun with this sweater and am pleased with the finished project. I made mistakes along the way (the slipped "stripes" between the cables -- see my last post), but also learned how to fix my mistakes. I made a few modifications to the pattern, based on the helpful hints I picked up online and am just tickled pink with the outcome.

Final verdict... a winner!

Cable Luxe Tunic (a Lion Brand pattern)
size Small
Cascade 220 (7? skeins)
Color 8407 (a greenish grey) Lot 0999
US 8 circular needles
Cast on May 14, 2008
Finished October 18, 2008

Quite a few.

I started with the cabled yoke which is knit flat from side to side and then seamed together. I next picked up stitches and knit the garter stitch top of the yoke. With these two parts I could try the sweater on as I went to make sure the fit was working. From this point forward, I knit the rest of the body of the sweater in the round. I picked up stitches from the bottom of the cabled yoke and knit the whole body of the sweater in the round. By knitting in the round I was able to fit another cable repeat under each sleeve (there isn't a stretch of filler as would be the case if knit flat and seamed). I also knit the sleeves in the round. With a little trial and error I simply started with the right number of stitches rather than doing the strange increase the pattern recommended. I also calculate the number to cast on so I could do an even set of cable repeats around the whole sleeve (again no filler stretches where the seam would be).

1st an errata from the pattern -- row 11 of yoke: p7, 3/3LC, 3/3RC, p7

Other changes... all found by checking out bulletin boards and suggestions given by others.

For the 3/3 LC Cable: Row 3 knit as a 3/3 LC after the center cable, Row knit as a 3/3 RC before the center cable

For the 4/4 Center Cable: Row 3 knit as 4/4 LC, K4; Row 9 knit as K4, 4/4 RC

For all sizes, the pattern indicates that you are to continue in pattern as established increasing 1 stitch in each of the center 14 purl sections every row 3 *2 more times*. I only increased once more so that I wouldn't end up with too much of a bell bottom to the sweater. It probably would have been ok in hindsight to have done both increases recommended, but I was cautious.

Last, the pattern did not specify how to do the slip stitches between the cable columns. After some trial and error I decided to slip knitwise with the yarn held in back.

Ravelry details here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I love free time!

Really! Not working on Saturday or Sunday is fabulous! And you know what happens when I don't have to work? I get to knit... yeah!!

So instead of short choppy sleeves on my cable luxe tunic, as previously promised, I get to show you a whole sleeve!

Don't you love how when I stand sideways like that you almost can't tell I still have one more sleeve to go?

Oops.. yep, not quite done [hehehe].

It's taken me awhile to get back to the sleeves on this little one (ok... not so little, actually a pretty big project). I took it to knitty group two weeks ago and again last week and that seems to have been the motivator I needed to keep going (well that and that amazing thing of unscheduled hours in the day). Thursday night at group, I pulled the one sleeve I was working on onto my arm and, wow, I realized I was almost half way done! OK... maybe this won't be a never ending sleeve after all, I though. Several dedicated hours later... yeah ... one sleeve done!

Here's an up close shot of the body. Now if you compare the body to the sleeve (or that picture to the one above or below) you might notice something unusual. The "stripe" between the cables looks different.

When I started this pattern, I was never able to see an up-close photo of the sweater. Compelled to knit it, I nevertheless plunged on. The stripe is made by slipping a stitch every other row and knitting it on the remaining rows. Of course the instructions never said whether you slip as if to knit, as if to purl, with yarn in front, or in back. These little things bother me. I picked a way and off I went with the pattern resulting in the stripe you see in the body above.

When I started the sleeve, I thought I did the slipping the same way, but apparently not. What I did was slip as if to knit with the yarn in back. I realized that this was the way that was probably intended. I struggled with whether I should continue in this "right" prettier way, or continue the sleeves in the old way (to match the body). After trial and error, I could not figure out how to replicate the old look (ok.. I didn't try that hard...but I did try a few times). I decided, who cares, and knit on with the prettier look.

After finishing the first sleeve this weekend and realizing that I really DO like this sweater, I decided maybe I needed to do something with the body to be a bit matchy.

Laddering up the sweater though? Was I ready for this frightening endeavor. Seems almost worse than steeking... no sewing there to hold the sweater together. I DO like this sweater though. I plunged ahead, starting on the back, figuring I only had to do a couple stripes on front and back to be good enough.

And you know what ... it was easy!

Here's the last stripe right before it was fixed. You can see that the laddered stripes to the left and right of the old version aren't quite as tight as they would have been if done correctly from the start, but I figure I can fix that with a good bath.

Joy... nice stripes all around the body and one sleeve done. Now I just need a few more dedicated hours for that other sleeve! Cold weather's coming and I want to wear this sweater!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It's easy being green!

Now isn't that a face to love? I found this guy in a thrift store a few weekends ago and just couldn't leave without him. Somebody put some love into creating this guy!

It's nice to have another smiling face around here (since I'm still all grumpy about the amount of work I have to do!). Want to see another one?

Foster kitty, Zinn ... well he's made himself right at home (and plumped up quite a bit from when we first took him in). This is what my weekend mornings often look like... me trying to read the paper and Zinn making himself comfortable in the center of things. It's so good to be the center of attention!


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Time meltdown ... and cowls

Don't let that calm face above fool ya ... things have been crazy around here.

Yesterday I saw a great photo on a blog of a clock spinning out of control. That's how my life has felt for the past two weeks. Time must be running faster than normal because I just can't keep up!

Work, the major culprit in my time management problems, has been insane. This weekend I spend all day Saturday and Sunday in the office trying to catch up (literally ... 9 hours saturday, 8 hours sunday). I'm pleased to report that some of the largest projects were completed. Oh yeah... did I mention that I worked until midnight last night as well? [sigh]

Nevertheless, all this productivity makes me believe that I've earned the right to take a short work break now to blog. After all ... it has been weeks!

So what knitting have I been doing since last we spoke? Well amazingly enough, despite all that work, I did finish two cowls.

Now I must confess that when cowl-wildfire was spreading throughout the blogosphere, I just didn't get it. They didn't look very warm -- not big enough to really cover up enough skin to be very helpful I thought.

Then I stumbled across this free pattern. Humm... a giant, squishy, warm looking cowl. Now that got me excited. Even more exciting... I had left over yarn from Fantine that I could use. Bonus! So I sat down one evening and ... unbelievably... a few hours later I had a cowl!

Well now that was easy wasn't it. Maybe I should try it again?

Version number 2 was finished later that weekend.

I cast on slightly fewer stitches for the second cowl so it wouldn't be quite as large and think it's a nice alternative to the really big and squishy cowl.

Both have kept me company this past weekend when I was trapped in the cold office, by myself, typing at the keyboard to earn a few cents [cackle ... cackle.. cackle .... do I seem insane yet?]

So looking for a quick project... want a big, squishy cowl ... this might be the project for you too!

I have been slowly making progress on the cabled luxe tunic ... maybe I'll show you my short stubby sleeves next time!

Hope time's treating all of you well.

Chunky Knit Cowl by Erica-Knits
2 skeins Lion Brand Jiffy Solid for each cowl
Heather (for the first cowl) & Black (for the second cowl)
US 17 circulars
Grey cowl Cast on September 24, 2008
Grey cowl Finished September 24, 2008
Black cowl Cast on September 25, 2008
Black cowl Finished September 26, 2008


For the grey, slighly larger cowl, I knitted 31 rows for my cowl resulting in a FO that’s 16” long (11” wide at top and 16” wide at bottom). It’s not long enough to be used as a hood, as the pattern calls for, but makes for a very warm, snuggly cowl.

I knit with the Jiffy held double to be comprable to the called for yarn (thick n quick).

For the black cowl, I cast on 10 fewer stitches than recommended by the pattern so it would be a bit smaller. I still knit 30 rows and the final cowl ended up 12” long, 10” wide at the top, and 12” wide at the bottom. Maybe I knit at a somewhat tighter gauge this time? It still a good size, just not quite as voluminous. The black cowl is also Jiffy, held double.

Ravelry details here.