Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Update

You might have noticed that there have been mostly knitting-related posts lately. Well, that's mainly because, for the past month, I'm been doing almost nothing but working and knitting, and there's not much exciting to tell about work on this blog. Fortunately, the big pressure at work will be off by Christmas time so I'll be able to enjoy the holidays with family!

However, life is going on for the rest of the family. Julia has been continuing with figure skating and the local track-and-field club this fall and is busily studying for her December exams. (She is sitting next to me right now, reviewing history notes on a Sunday morning.) She has been doing well in school and having fun with her friends too. She and a friend went to see Twilight yesterday and highly recommends it.

Kate got a brand new half-size violin earlier in the fall and is the midst of recital season now. She is with the junior division of the youth orchestra again. They participated in a fundraiser concert a couple of weeks ago and have their first major concert of the season next week. Last weekend, she played in a solo recital (Bach Gavottes from Suzuki Book 3) and just yesterday, she participated in her string school's Christmas concert. It seems like the violin is permanently attached to her these days!

Todd has been doing more business travel and playing guitar when he's at home. He took out this gigantic book of "Guitar Hero" sheet music from the library yesterday, perhaps in an attempt to lure Kate and Julia into his studio to play along with him. He still hopes Julia will get back to piano or keyboard sometime.

So life is good ... but busy, busy, busy!

Speedy Cable Beret Pattern

May 28, 2009 update: It seems this pattern has been very popular on Ravelry, with 111 projects so far! However, a good number of people have said that the pattern fits more like a beanie than a beret. The one I made for Julia seemed beret-like on her, but variations in gauge, head size and yarn might account for the differences. Fortunately, most of the knitters were still happy with the results, but this is a warning that your beret might turn out not so beret-like. I suggest you browse the project photos on Ravelry to get an idea of how the hat looks made up in different yarns. (Note that you need an account on Ravelry to see them.)

Dec. 2, 2008 update: there is now a matching cowl pattern.

Julia asked for a beret to match her legwarmers, so I decided to experiment with some Sirdar Big Softie yarn I had available. This stuff is super chunky yarn and it took me just over an hour to make the beret. I've included the pattern below. If you make it, keep in mind the headband is fairly loose, so the beret looks appropriately slouchy.

2 skeins Sirdar Big Softie
8mm and 10mm knitting needles

9 stitches and 12 rows over 4-inch square using stockinette stitch.

M1: Make an additional stitch by working into previous row between current and next stitch.
C4: Place next two stitches on a cable needle and hold in front of work. Knit next two stitches on left-hand needle. Then knit two stitches from cable needle.
K2tog: Knit two together.
P2tog: Purl two together
SSK: Decrease with a slip, slip, knit.

Using smaller needles, cast on 49 stitches.

Start ribbing.
Row 1: *P2, K2*. Repeat from * to * until last stitch. P1.
Row 2: K1. *P2, K2* Repeat from * to * until end of row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 once.

Switch to 10mm and repeat rows 1 and 2 of ribbing again.
Increase for main part of the hat.
Next row (RS): *P2, M1, K2, M1*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1. (73 stitches).
Next row (WS): K1. *P4, K2*. Repeat from * to * to end of row.

Start cable pattern.
Row 1: *P2, K4*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1.
Row 2: K1. *P4, K2*. Repeat from * to * to end of row.
Row 3: *P2, C4*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1.
Row 4: Repeat row 2.
Row 5: Repeat row 1.
Row 6: Repeat row 2.

Repeat rows 1 to 6 of cable pattern.

Shape crown.
Next row (RS): *P2, K2, K2tog*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1. (61 stitches)
Next row (WS): K1. *P3, K2*. Repeat from * to * to end of row.
Next row (RS): *P2, SSK, K1*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1. (49 stitches)
Next row (WS): K1. *P2, K2tog*. Repeat from * to * to end of row. (37 stitches)
Next row (RS): *P1, SSK*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1. (25 stitches)
Next row (WS): K1. *P2tog*. Repeat from * to * to end of row. (13 stitches).
Next row (RS): *K2tog*. Repeat from * to * until one stitch remains. P1. (7 stitches)

Cut yarn, leaving long tail, and draw through remaining stitches. Pull tight and sew seam.

Note: Minor correction was made to pattern on Dec. 2, 2008. Second row of crown shaping originally had a *P4, K1* repeat. This was changed to *P3, K1*. Thanks to the knitter who spotted this error.

Note: Another correction made on Jan. 19, 2009. Changed second row of crown shaping to have a *P3, K2* repeat. Sigh ... can't seem to get this row right!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Legwarmer and Wristwarmer Patterns

I finished Julia's legwarmers yesterday and as soon as I presented them to her, she said, "I'd really like some wristwarmers to go with those." Fortunately, there was enough yarn left over from the Elann sample pack. Patterns are provided below.

Materials: These materials were from a limited edition sample pack of medium-weight yarns but can be bought separately. They are enough for both sets of legwarmers and wristwarmers.
1 skein Elann Peruvian Highland Wool in Tapestry Blue, 1321 (colour A)
1 skein Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal in Colony Blue, 2163 (colour B)
1 skein Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran in Thistle, 1688 (colour C)
1 skein Elann Peruvian Pure Alpaca in Limoges Blue, 1424 (colour D)
1 skein Elann Peruvian Uros Aran in Antique Blue, 4148 (colour E)
1 skein Elann Incense in Denim, 08 (colour F)
1 set of 4.5mm needles

Gauge: 30 stitches in K2, P2 rib, unstretched

Size: Teen or Women's Small. Length of legwarmer is 17.5 inches, and circumference is a maximum of 15 inches when stretched fully. Length of wristwarmer is 7.25 inches, and circumference is a maximum of 7.5 inches when stretched fully. Increase circumference by adding stitches in multiples of 4 and length by adding stripes as desired.

Instructions for Legwarmers:

For each legwarmer, cast on 62 stitches loosely.
Row 1: Repeat (K2, P2) to last two stitches. K2.
Row 2: Repeat (P2, K2) to last two stitches. P2.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 using the following stripe pattern. Note that the pattern is the same going forward and backward so that you don't have to worry about the orientation of the legwarmers when putting them on.
Stripe pattern: 4A, 4B, 2C, 6D, 4E, 4F, 2E, 8B, 4A, 4C, 2A, 6D, 4E, 6D, 2A, 4C, 4A, 8B, 2E, 4F, 4E, 6D, 2C, 4B, 4A.
Cast off loosely and sew seam, weaving in ends into the seam.

Instructions for Wristwarmers:

For each wristwarmer, cast on 30 stitches loosely.
Row 1: Repeat (K2, P2) to last two stitches. K2.
Row 2: Repeat (P2, K2) to last two stitches. P2.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 using the following stripe pattern. Note that only three of the six colours are used and can be carried up the side loosely if you want to reduce bulk in the seam.
Stripe pattern: 4D, 4F, 2E, 4F, 2D, 4E, 2F, 2D, 2F, 4E, 2D, 4F, 2E, 4F, 4D.
Cast off loosely and sew seam.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Latest Obsession

I could have used the alternate title, "Where I've Been Wasting My Time," ... except the time is not really wasted. I finally joined If you're a knitter or crocheter and you actually like spending time on your computer, you need to join this community. Go to the site and request an invitation. They are letting only about 1000 people in per day, so that they don't put too much stress on their systems. If you sign up now, you'll get an invitation in less than a week.

The site is mind-boggling, and you're hearing this from someone who is not unfamiliar with large on-line communities. There are over 200,000 participants. Who'd have thunk there would be that many knitters/crocheters with computer access in the world? Knitting was such a solitary activity for me for decades. I never minded this much, but I'd had no idea so many people loved this hobby. I was astounded the first time I went to the K-W Knitters Guild about a decade ago, as I entered a large room packed with knitters of all ages (and not the "dozen little old ladies" Todd anticipated I'd see), but I thought this was just because I live in a particularly fibre-friendly city. That might still be true, but clearly there are knitters lurking everywhere.

So back to ravelry. It's like Facebook, but even better. There's the social networking aspect, including a multitude of groups. I joined some (e.g. fans of Philosophers Wool yarns and designs) and was simply intrigued by others (e.g. "Hockey Knit in Canada"). The main attraction for me, however, is the extensive database. You get easy, visual ways to record all your projects, stash, tools, books and to keep track of projects/yarns you'd like to have in the future. You then put the information about projects and yarns into the main database. The result is that, with the pooled information, you have access to photos and details about thousands of patterns (many of them free) and yarns. So if I enter "Needful Yarns London Tweed" into the search box, I can find a dozen ideas, with pictures, of what I can do with the stash that I'd bought last week.

On ravelry, one of the largest groups, with over 2000 members, is one celebrating geekdom. They raise the unnecessary question, "Are ravelers inherently geeky?" Here are people who spend hours on the computer, enjoy "social" on-line interaction with total strangers and are obsessed with meticulously cataloguing every yarn, needle and pattern in their possession. Um, yeah, I guess we're geeks. If you knit or crochet, please join and be my friend on ravelry. My account name is paulinaknits there.

Sunday Craft Update - November 16

It's been a while since I've written an update on all my crafts, and I've got plenty to report. I've been doing a little bit on Jill's Christmas ornament every evening for the past couple of weeks and it's almost finished now. Can't wait to post the photo but it'll have to wait until January, after I present it to Jill in Singapore.

Life has been very busy lately, with major work deadlines and loads of school and extra-curricular activities for the kids. When life's stresses increase, I knit ... and knit. The past couple of weeks, I finished a hat/scarf/mittens set in Plymouth Royal Llama wool and a Peruvian-style hat with yarn from Mount Lehman Llamas. I'll get photos posted eventually.

The bad news is that one of my favourite yarn companies, Needful Yarns, appears to be going out of business. The good news is that their stock has been showing up at, sometimes discounted by as much as 75%. I bought 2 10-skein bags of their London Tweed last week, along with 2 6-skein bags of Elann's house-yarn sample packs. I'm working on leg warmers for Julia with one of these bags. I'm told they're still in style, and they're in the fall collections of a few of Julia's favourite shops. I can't imagine the return of this trend will last for much longer, though. Too bad. I used to think of legwarmers as mostly useless and only slightly decorative fashion accessories. However, we've discovered that they suit very well teenage girls in school uniform (i.e. skirt) standing at a bus stop every morning in the cold Canadian winter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Before and After

On the weekend, Kate had her long hair cut off, and she is donating the 9-inch ponytail to a charity. I think she looks rather cute with the new haircut!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Joe Turns Forty

My brother Joe turns 40 today! We all wish you a wonderful day, Joe! You can read about the surprise party that Jill had arranged on Joe's blog. This photo of Joe and his son Oliver is from their visit earlier this year.