22 January 2007

Back to the old grind

Things have been great for me the past month or so and now it's back to normal life again. I went to visit my family for Christmas which was lots of fun. I got to meet my cousin's baby son, who is absolutely adorable and sings "Merry Christmas to you" (with the help of his amazingly drunk Aunt Grace, my mom).

At Christmas I finally got to give away all the presents I've been working on. There were a million and one soap sacks (which I think I already posted a picture of) with homemade lemongrass soap. The soap was a total success. I'm very happy with how it turned out and have been using it in the shower and next to all the sinks since it's been cured. The soap sacks are another story. While they looked beautiful and made a pretty packaging, they were unfortunately not so practical. Of course I didn't find this out until after I'd given it to all the woman in me and my husband's families. The soap sacks were being finished right up until Christmas Eve, nothing like some last minute knitting. The soap was made about 2 weeks before Christmas, but would need to cure until January 1st before anyone could use it. Not a big deal, I just had to warn everyone to wait a week to use the soap. I thought the problem would lie in the soap. It was my first batch of soap ever and I didn't know if it would actually lather up or clean things. It does both quite well and as an added bonus it is much more moisturizing than ny store bought soap. So, you're wondering what the problem is, aren't I good at building suspense. The problem: the cotton that I used for the soap sacks does not dry in 24 hours! You shower in the morning and use the soap in the soap sack then your supposed to be able to leave the soap in the sack come back the next day and repeat. However, you come back the next day adn you have a mushy bar of soap in a gross wet cotton thing. I came up with a solution: remove the soap from the sack and use it as a washcloth that can be well wrung out after every shower and almost dries. It works, but without the bar of soap in the sack it's pretty small and flimsy for a washcloth. So I came up with a new solution: knit a bigger washcloth. Which I did for myself I love it, but then I came across problem number 2 which is hopefully just a problem for me since the lovely people who lived in our house before us were horrible do-it-yourselfers. My soap dish, which is attached to the shower wall, is crooked. The front tilts up and traps a puddle of water in the soap dish which, yep you guessed it, doesn't dry out in 24 hours. So I still have mushy soap. It's making me go through my soap at a very very fast rate. I've never had this problem because I've always been a body wash kinda girl and just discovered the joy of soap thanks to my home made stuff and my friends Erica and Jan who taught me how to make it.

OK, onto the next present, with considerably less problems. I've already posted pictures of this as well, it's the pink felted bag for my niece. I was worried it would be too long or too short since it had been a few months since I saw my niece and she's growing like a weed. It turned out to be just right so I'm very very happy about that.

Now onto some new things with pictures (so much more interesting when there are pictures involved). First a hat for my sister. It's the Odessa hat from Magknits. I love it! I made this for my little sister, a newly recruited knitter thanks to the Reinbeck Festival.
Here's the hat:

Pattern: Odessa
Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft, color taupe
Needles: 16" circular sizes 4 and 6
And here's a detail of the stitch pattern:

I think she liked it. She called me a few days ago and left a message saying that she was wearing it. She has a green jacket that I think it would go very well with. Plus she's got a new job at a hospital and has to look all spiffy at work and I think this is a nice sophisticated looking hat. I also made one for my friend out of a reddish color. She just moved from NY to Minnesota and I think she'll need many more cold weather accessories! I'm a little tired of the pattern now, but once I'm ready to tackle it again I may make one for myself, althought my husband says that I look like a Flapper in it. I don't mind that at all though.

Next project, a keyhole scarf for my mom. I forgot to get a completed picture, but here it is in progress, almost done:

Pattern: Keyhole Scarf
Yarn: Blue sky alpaca Brushed Suri, color: whipped cream
Needles: size 13
And here's a picture of the detail:

It's a herringbone stitch which was lots of fun to do. Again this is a project that I want to make for myself as well. And given that I got 2 skeins of yarn and only used one to make this I will be making one for myself as soon as possible.

I made out like a knitting bandit at Christmas. I got a knit item from my older sister (see below) and some beautiful yarn that she hand spun. I need to find a project for the yarn. I think one will just come to me soon enough though. My mom got me a ball winder and a swift along with yarn from when her and my sisters went to Reinbeck in NY and another festival in NH and some cedar shavings and muslin to make moth away satchels (which I desperately needed, again, see below). She was way too good to me this Christmas, but I'm not gonna say I didn't deserve it, I am the best person in the whole world!

My current projects are an irish hiking scarf for myself made out of a yarn I got when I was in New Zealand. I got the yarn long before I was aware of the proper storage and treatment of wool. I has been ravished by moths and I feel like I'm doing a felted join every few rows (it's not really that bad, but it is very frustrating). I'm making this because: 1. it's about time I made a nice scarf for myself 2. it's about time I used this yarn that I think I've had longer than any other yarn and 3. my older sister made me a great headscarf (calorimetry from Knitty) that will match this scarf perfectly! My other WIP is a sweater for my husband. The front piece is some ribbing on the bottom, then 15 inches of stockinette stitch before I do any shaping. That's 15 inches on size 6 needles. It's so incredibly boring!! I'm getting there though. I refuse to keep a tape measure with me until I actually get close because I was measuring every row and nearly ran myself through on a sharp needle after I knit 2 rows and it somehow shrunk. I'm just too impatient. Well I don't know exactly how long it is now, but it's about the length of the sheet of paper the instructions are printed on from the cast on edge. Lots more to go but I've got plenty of time before next winter.

That's the other thing that was fantastic this past month. My husband came home for a visit! He has been in Iraq for 6 months and I haven't seen him in 7 months. He had 2 weeks of leave and I was able to take the whole time off and spend it with him. We had lots of fun. We mainly just sat around the house and watched movies, which is how we normally spend our down time. He got to meet the new dog and seems to like him very much even though he barks all the time and is very high strung. The other dog remembered him and wouldn't leave his side the whole 2 weeks. It was adorable! We also went to a BBQ, had a BBQ (the weather was in the 70s despite it being the middle of January!), went out to dinner with friends a few nights, went to an art museum, went to a maritime museum, and saw Night at the Museum. Quite a museum filled 2 weeks! We had tons of fun but it went by too quick and he's already on his way back to Iraq. We're hoping he'll be home in another couple of months, but he may be staying a whole nother 6 months.

I'll post pictures of my headscarf from my sister and my current projects soon.