Thursday, September 30, 2004

Real Men Love Jesus

I was driving home from Michaels today, where I bought the yarn for my niece Madeline's Christmas poncho, and the car in front of me had the bumper sticker "Real Men Love Jesus". Now, certainly, this is far preferable to one I saw the other day that read "Show Me Your ______" (I'll let you imagine what goes in the blank), but still, do I need this kind of propaganda driving in my car? I have never been a fan of people trying to cram religion down the throats of others, and especially in such a non-convincing way. I mean honestly. To what audience does this sticker preach? Are there men out there who are going to read it and say "Golly, I'd better run off to church then, because I'm a real man?"

And what about the women who let these men have such stickers? If your husband or boyfriend's car is adorned with any such nonsense, I beg of you, peel it off. (Also if he wears sports jerseys with another man's name on the back, try to convince him this is not suitable for a person over the age of 10, but I digress.)

I don't know why this bugs me so much. And if you disagree, I'd be happy to hear your comments. On to more important topics.

I'm trying to design a poncho for Madeline. She's 8 and wears a size 7 girls clothes (or maybe size 8). I'm doing the two rectangle type, and I think we figured out to make the rectangles 15" by 22". I just wish I could figure out how big this will end up. As I've said, I'm no good at math. I tried to work it out on paper, applying the Pythagorean Theorem, but now I think that only applies to right triangles. I'm just going to knit it and see what happens.

You may be wondering how I could buy new yarn, given that I am grounded from the yarn store. The only exception is for Christmas gifts, AND it can't be expensive. So I got Lion Brand Microspun for $3.99 a ball and Patons Twister was on sale for $3.97. The entire project cost $20. Considering what I spend at fancy yarn stores, this is almost free.

Speaking of fancy yarn stores, I hear Jessica Knits opened in North Scottsdale. I am going to head up there to check it out next week with Kim, and I will not buy anything. I'm excited though because they have Rowan and Debbie Bliss yarns, and the reports from other people are that it's a great store and Jessica is friendly. I am asking for yarn gift certificates for Christmas, so maybe I'll get them there. I hope they have Rowan Kidsilk Haze – I just want to feel it and see if it's as wonderful as it looks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bags and blankets, and another project bound off

Ever since I completed my Oregon Tote, it has bothered me that the pink stripe was wider on the inside than it was on the outside. Yesterday, in a stroke of genius, I realized I just needed to turn the bag inside out and it would stop bothering me so much. (I know, I'm a little slow). So I've posted a picture of the bag now, and you can all see why my friend Carla calls it Grover.

Speaking of Carla, she was over last night and asked if I would teach her to knit. Yay! Another convert. I tried to convince her to come to knitting, but she wants a private lesson first. I'll have her make a square for the Pappas school blankets and see if she likes it.

I decided to start the hat for baby Vincent yesterday, and I went to get the size 7 needles out of my Denise Knits Interchangeable Kit. They weren't there. Neither were the 11s, 13s, or 15s. Could I really have that many projects on needles? Indeed I can, and I do.

The 7s were being held up by the J baby blanket for Jack, the unborn child who wakes me up in the middle of the night doing his version of the samba. Production has been halted on this blanket for a variety of reasons. First, I was about to run out of yarn. Rowan All Seasons Cotton no less, and I didn't want to buy any more. Second, the J is not centered in the blanket unless I do buy more yarn and knit for another billion rows. Third, it is the most boring project I've ever knit in my life. The entire thing is in stockinette stitch – knit one side, purl one side – for ever and ever. I thought it would never end.

So I made an executive decision and just finished off the blanket with the J floating way up near the top. I looked at it this morning and I don't hate it as much as I did yesterday, so maybe I'll just weave in all those ends and leave it.

As for the hat, I started it but I am going to have to rip it out. I should never do something complicated after I've taken Benedryl.

Grover, my first felted bag Posted by Hello

The blanket, finished.  Posted by Hello

See how cute the J is?  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Completed baby cardigan for Mac Posted by Hello

Another one done

The sweater for Julie's baby Mac is done! I ran out to Joanne's yesterday to buy buttons (I didn't foresee the need for buttons even as I was making the buttonholes. Hmmm.) One of the sad things about living downtown is the lack of good stores. I went to the one on Indian School and 32nd Street and it was pathetic compared to those beautiful big stores in the suburbs. Don't get me wrong, I love where I live. But any time I want to really shop I have to drive and drive. I like the Joanne's at Desert Ridge but it's a hike from here so I decided against it since I only needed buttons.

I have a new tactic for people who comment on my belly. I tell them I'm farther along than I really am. A sales girl asked me at Joanne's and I just said, "Oh, I'm 8 months, he's almost here." The truth is I never really know how far along I am anyway. It's maddening this pregnancy calculation thing. Gestation for a baby is 40 weeks. Except for the fact that the doctors just ADD two weeks for the hell of it so they can calculate better. So even though I'm almost 33 weeks pregnant, I've really only physically been pregnant for 31 weeks. I'm due in 7 weeks, which is almost 2 months. When I tell people that they are alarmed. But if I just say I'm 8 months pregnant they seem to think that's normal.

I want to start my dad's vest but I'm scared. I've never made anything that really has to fit someone before. He picked a simple pattern and really fabulous yarn, but I keep putting off getting it started. I'm going to make myself do it though, I've got to get the rest of these gifts moving.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Joe asked me yesterday if I was addicted to knitting. Of course not. Addicted is such a harsh word. He asked if I could stop if I wanted to. Why would I want to? Silly man. I am a little obsessed lately because of all the finishing that is going on. But I am no addict. Not me.

I have been learning so much lately it's exciting. Yesterday was the Three Needle Bind-Off, for under the arms of my sweater. I imagine this is a really great technique for a more tailored sweater as well, but with my yarn you can't really see anything so I don't think it mattered – I probably could have just sewed up the holes. Basically, you just knit the two sides together on a new needle for two stitches and then pass the first stitch over the second like a regular bind off. It wasn't terribly easy but I did get it to work.

And then last night I made button holes in Julie's baby's sweater. You just cast off stitches going one way, and on the way back you cast on the same number of stitches. I had to read about this in the Stitch-n-Bitch book, but it worked great. Progress on the sweater is slow, again I have to remember to read the patterns. I am making the second size of the cardigan, and when I went around to pick up all the stitches in front and make a ribbed edging I used the numbers for the first size and didn't have enough stitches on my needle. I had to rip the whole thing out. Very depressing. Picking up stitches is not that easy and I hated to see it all go to waste.

Now I think I'll do some research about casting on with waste yarn. We were talking about it yesterday at the sock workshop and no one has done it successfully.

Julie's cardigan is almost done! I just have to sew up the left side – this was a very piecey pattern so there is lots of sewing to do. But I did learn how to set raglan sleeves so it's probably worth it.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

My sweater is done!

I got home from sock workshop and finished the sweater. I can't believe it's finally done! And it's not meant to be a maternity sweater, but it actually fits because it's so roomy. Hopefully it will still be cute when I lose all the baby weight (keeping my fingers crossed for that day.) Now that I see my picture I realize why those women were calling me huge. This baby sure does stick out a lot!

I posted some pictures from the sock workshop as well. We had it at Kids Town – an indoor play place owned by one of our knitters Alison. It's such a cute place, you can see the little buildings in the background. Becky did a fantastic job putting together the patterns and the materials lists. She roamed the room helping people out and I think everyone got their socks off to a great start. She will be at Mama Java's on Friday if anyone has problems. I had to rip my socks out twice, so I'm sure I'll be there with questions.

Part of the gang towards the end of the workshop Posted by Hello

Kathy's teaching Nick about double pointed needles. Posted by Hello

Front of sweater Posted by Hello

Back of sweater Posted by Hello

One project finished, eighty million more to go.....

I finished a pair of socks for my mom last night and almost finished that old sweater I've been working on for almost 2 years. It's from the first issue, back when their projects didn't cost $200 each to make. I think the yarn is Bernat or some such thing – way before I'd entered a fancy yarn store and started spending $8-$15 a ball on yarn. The yarn for this sweater cost $20, and even though it's acrylic it is very soft and completely hides all mistakes.

The reason it's taken me two years is that I could never figure out the pattern. Granted, I was a brand new knitter when I started, but it still was pretty challenging. When I tried to get help at AZ Knit and Needlepoint they said something snarky about free patterns off the internet and how I should just stick with real patterns. Yarn women are so threatened by the internet it's amazing.

My biggest complaint about the pattern is the decreases. She says to decrease evenly around so many stitches, leaving so many stitches on the needle. But she doesn't tell you how often to decrease, so you have to figure out what "evenly" means. This is very hard for me (I'm not a math person) and I had to do it four times! Can't she just say "Knit 3, Knit 2 Tog"??? Would that be too much to ask?

I'm going to finish the sweater today, and Julie's baby cardigan. I have sock workshop at 3 though so that will just be another new project started! Luckily socks go quickly. I've got to get some of these projects completed so I can be ready for Christmas.

My father is doing much better. We're going up today to check on him and have breakfast, but I talked to him on the phone yesterday and he sounds like a new man.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Oh, you have to READ the pattern

I took my little sweater up to my parent's house yesterday to ask my mom about the sleeve problem I was having. I got everything out and started to look at the pattern to explain my issue with this particular pattern writer, and I saw a very crucial line. "Increase at EACH end of the 4th and following 8th rows." I was only increasing one end. Once I followed the directions the sleeves came out fine. I was able to knit both of them while I was watching over my ailing father.

The funny thing is, I had this same problem with another outfit I made for Julie's baby. I only increased one side of the row and ended up with an incredibly long leg for a pair of footed pants I made him. I had to rip the whole thing out once I finally figured it out.

I do think knitting must have been invented by a woman who had to take care of someone sick. It's hard to just sit there and watch someone be in pain. But having my knitting really helped keep me occupied. Especially in the ER waiting room – we sat for two hours with nothing to do. My dad was drugged so he just stared off into space, and my mom had some kind of snowman stitching thing she was working on. I finished the second sleeve. Now all I have to do is assemble the sweater, which looks a little bit hard.

On an unrelated note, I have a bit of advice to give the world. If you ever see a pregnant woman walking around and you think she looks bigger than she should, just tell her she looks great or healthy or something. Why would it ever be okay to exclaim "My god you're huge? Are you sure you're only having one?" I am not huge, I asked my doctor if I was bigger than I'm supposed to be and he said no. The baby is no bigger than normal. I am getting tired of people telling me I look big. I'm almost 8 months pregnant for crying out loud, what do you expect me to look like?

Friday, September 24, 2004


My father, who is 61 years old, crashed his mountain bike yesterday afternoon somewhere in the Arizona desert and severely fractured his collar bone. Joe's comment was "I think that injury is more common for younger people." True, very true. But my father doesn't act his age, ever.

So I'm heading up to my parent's house today to visit him and make sure he's okay. He had to sleep sitting up because they apparently tied his hands behind his back or some such nonsense. I will probably sit with him a while and knit on Anne's poncho. A perfect opportunity to get more done on it, although I'm still not convinced the pattern is going to work out in the end.

I did finish one sock for my mom last night while watching The Apprentice. I can't post a picture though because it is a gift and her snoopy little eyes may find their way to my blog someday. I will say they came out very cool and I love the Fiber Trends patterns.

Speaking of patterns, why do pattern writing people make it so difficult to follow what they mean? Kim called me two days ago to ask what I though a sleeve pattern meant. It said "Increase every following 6th and then every following 4th row." Does that mean every 6th and 10th? Or the 6th and then every 4th? Lucky for her she called Fiber Factory and asked them, I told her wrong. (It was every 6th and 10th). I'm having the same problem with the sleeve for Julie's baby's sweater. It says to increase the next 4th and following 8th row to a certain number of stitches, and then work until it measures 4.5 inches. By the time you work all the increases the sleeve measures way more than 4.5 inches. Ugh. I posted a picture of the tiny thing - who would have thought it would be this hard?

I love The Apprentice, by the way. I think Donald Trump is a genius, and he should have one an Emmy over that stupid Amazing Race show. Last night he fired the crazy women, thank goodness. I was worried they were keeping her around for ratings, which I know they did with Omorosa last season.

I have to run and finish cleaning the house so the house cleaners can come. I'm not obsessive or anything, I'm just really messy. I have to make sure everything is picked up so they can actually clean.

p.s. I posted a picture of Joe and the dogs so everyone can see them.

Joe, my husband with Guido the Beagle and Lucca the Miniature Pinscher Posted by Hello

Sweater for baby Mac, due November 7th Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004

SNB AZ meeting

Boy do we have a lot of bloggers in our group. I've just added the four to my links - I had no idea this was such a popular thing to do. We had our meeting at Mama Javas last night. I highly recommend the brownies - I had one and practically spoiled my dinner, but it was so good. I took some pictures that I will post - they are from a little later in the evening because I had to wait for the AZ Republic photographer to leave. They are doing a story about our knit-out on October 1st and I swear this guy took enough pictures to fill an entire magazine. He seemed to be having fun.

Since I can't knit on Anne's poncho at home it's the only thing I take to knitting these days. It is going to be beautiful, but it's not very exciting to knit. Just knit knit knit every row, over and over and over. At least I can talk and knit at the same time, so I did get quite a bit done. Now Madeline (who is 8) wants a poncho instead of a hat. Apparently she went to school and saw how fashionable they are, so she must have one. I'll have to find something else to do with all that blue wool I bought for her hat. Hmmmm. I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Joe read my blog last night and said he sounded cheap. He's not cheap, just more fiscally responsible than I am (which isn't hard, I'm about as fiscally responsible as a teenager with a trust fund). He's also the only man who can put up with me for long stretches of time. Our three year wedding anniversary is next week - I sometimes can't believe he's stuck around this long! So there you go Joe. You're not cheap, and you're the most wonderful man I've ever met.

No knitting today - I'm going to get fabric for curtains for the baby's room. Now that we have furniture we have to get the room decorated a little more. Luckily my mom will sew for me, as I have no sewing talent. In 7th grade I took sewing class, I ended up making a t-shirt with a seam down the front. I hated that shirt.

Illana, Kirsten and Michelle. Kirsten has a blog as well, check it out! Posted by Hello

Kim, our fearless leader on the left, Shannon making a poncho in the middle, and Latoya (I don't know what you were making, sorry!) Posted by Hello

Alison and Illana - Alison is on her millionth baby sweater and Illana is making a felted bag Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I hate swatching!

Don't get me wrong, I understand the need for swatching, I really do. I just feel like it's such a waste of time and good yarn. So this time, instead of cutting the tail I'm just going to tear the whole thing out and wind it back into my ball. I measured my stitches (for once, I had the guage correct, thank goodness) and now I'm going to reuse the yarn. I don't know if that's bad or wrong, but I just can't see that lovely, soft, $9 a ball yarn going to waste.

I'm in trouble with Joe for buying the sock yarn. I tried to explain that I needed it for the workshop, and that I just can't knit on icky yarn. He's not convinced. I've been placed on yarn-buying probation until I finish everything I'm working on. He does have a point. Here is my full project list as of today:

Very old sweater from the first issue of
Cabled blanket for couch in front room
Jack's baby blanket with a J
Socks for mom
2 ponchos
Vest for dad
Hat for baby Vincent (I know he's 5, but he's still baby Vincent to me)
Felted hat for Madeline
Mittens for Mary
Cardigan sweater for Julie's new baby Mac
and now, sock workshop socks.
And, if I have time, illusion scarves for Greg and Baby Vincent to match their hats.

Almost everything on this list needs to be completed before Jack gets here. My due date is 8 weeks away. Maybe he'll be late and I can get everything done. Luckily I have Knit - Out day on October 1st - 12 solid hours of knitting. Boy are my hands going to hurt after that!

Tonight is my Stitch-n-Bitch group gathering at Mama Javas. I love meeting there - it's so much closer to my house. Plus they have good iced tea. ( I know, caffeine is bad for the baby. blah blah blah). I'll take some pictures tonight so everyone can see what a fun group we have.

Sock workshop swatch Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Pixies Concert

Joe and I went to the Pixies concert at Mesa Amphitheater last night. I don't know a ton about the Pixies, but they did break up a while ago - via fax no less - and this is their reunion tour. Apparently it has been very successful because they are coming back to the Dodge Theater the end of October. We sat up on the grass out of the fray - I didn't feel braving a mosh pit at 7 months pregnant was such a good idea.

What does this have to do with knitting? Well, it cooled off in Phoenix for once and as I was sitting there I realized how nice it would be to have a lightweight poncho to wear. Alas I am not knitting for myself these days, so the poncho will have to wait (probably until they are out of style.)

Julie and I set out for Fiber Factory this afternoon to buy our yarn for the sock workshop this weekend. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn and size 6 needles. Hmmm. The only socks I've made are on size 2s and using sock yarn. I can't wait to find out what is in store for us at the workshop. Of course we found some fabulous (ok, expensive) yarn made of 70% New Zealand Merino and 30% silk. $9 a ball and we need three balls! Yikes. I just gave in and bought it though, because if you're going to spend that much time on a project, why knit with bad yarn?

If you go to Fiber Factory I highly recommend the Picnic Company next door for lunch. Great sandwiches and soup, just the right thing to get your strength up for yarn shopping.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Cable Blanket Posted by Hello

I love cables!

I wish I lived somewhere that required heavy cabled fishermans sweaters all year long, but alas I am stuck in the desert where such a garment would sit and collect dust most of the year. So I have to settle for the cabled blanket I'm making. Of course it's progress is on hold right now until I get the Christmas stuff done, but I love it just the same. The pattern is from the Rowan Winter Magazine and I'm making it out of Rowan Cork.

This is my first cabled project and I have to say I love doing cables. They keep the knitting interesting but they are not difficult at all. And the result is beautiful. For this pattern I think the cabling repeats every 14th row and there is a lot of fabric in between cables so you're not constantly switching needles.

Someday I'll brave a cabled sweater, but the tension and the patterns are more difficult to measure than on a blanket.

A Note on the Links

I've added some links to the side here and will keep adding more as well. I wish every yarn store would have a website. It just doesn't make sense to me how you can operate a business in 2004 without a significant web presence. How do you expect people to find you?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Welcome to my Phoenix Knitting Blog

Last night we had some friends for dinner and one of them was very interested in learning to knit. I realized how much information is available for new knitters and I wanted a place to direct people who are just starting out. So here it is, the brand new Phoenix Knitting Blog. I will create links for the local yarn stores (and some not-so-local ones that I just love), as well as tips for new knitters, and anything else I might find interesting.

My knitting group, Stitch-n-Bitch AZ, has just formed a committee and I'm in charge of education. So I will also be posting information about our meetings and workshops. We meet often as there is a lot of knitting to be done. We range from brand spanking new knitters to one official master knitter and everywhere in between. Our members are as young as 8 and as old as....well, we won't divulge ages here, but lets say there is a lot of experience in the group.

Right now I'm working on too many projects at the same time, and some I can't post in case curious eyes stray to the site to see what they are getting for Christmas. I've got a poncho for my sister-in-law made out of alpaca boucle that is fabulous to knit, some socks for my mother, hats and mittens for the nieces and nephews.....the list goes on. My brother is getting this great twisted rib watch cap with a skull on the front. I'll post a picture of that in a bit, as I'm sure he won't be cruising around reading knitting sites any time soon. The cap pattern came from this site: and the skull pattern I modified from here: I may try and illusion scarf with skulls based on the Alien scarf in the Stitch and Bitch book, but we'll see if I have time before the baby arrives in November.