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We are Familia FIG. We are a bi- lingual, blended family. Belalu was diagnosed at 9 months with hypochondroplasia.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Prairie Home Companion: Winona, MN TONITE

Listen in, folks. A Prairie Home Companion will be broadcast live tonight from Winona State's auditorium. And we will be in the audience. Yay!!

Warm Heads Are Good

I really, really wanted to knit Juan a hat in brioche stitch. But I could not, for the life of me, do it. I searched the web for days, found video instructions on Youtube, consulted all my books, and ended up throwing the yarn and needles across the room. That's when I decided that winter would eventually be over before I figured it out and Juan's poor head would remain bare. So, I decided to knit him Center Square. The doubled yarn pattern was a bit childish, so I adapted the pattern for single Aran yarn. The grey yarn is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran and the black is from a Japanese company. Between the two, they are a combo of cashmere, silk, and merino wool. No itchy yarn for Mr. Juan. When I told him I needed a pic with the hat, he directed his own photoshoot with the Mac cam. So, here it is:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More gifts to showcase

I was thinking I was almost done with the Christmas showcase (considering it's the end of February, I'd say it's about time). I am still waiting on Meridith to give me a picture of her in her swing jacket, but I haven't posted Julian's presents yet either.

I started a sweater for him this past summer, using his favorite shade of blue. I knit the Sherwood pattern from Knitty.com. The only modification I made was to do ribbed sleeves, rather than continue the cable pattern there, too. I ran out of yarn and so it sat around for a while until I ordered more. (This is where the "haha I never have to use math again" victory dance on graduation has come back to bite me in the butt). When I washed it, the yarn got really soft and the sweater got wider as the ribs expanded. This also stretched out the neck too much, so I had to sew it together at the ends to avoid the flashdance look, which just doesn't work with a 7 year old boy. All in all, I like the pattern and how it turned out. I was pleasantly surprised at how soft the yarn got, as the itchy factor was a concern. It was Nashua Creative Focus Superwash wool, by the way. Of course, with Mr. Julian there is no way I'm going to get a still shot of him in the sweater.The sweater doubles as a floor mop. It's very versatile like that.Vanessa, I'm too busy playing with the cats to pose for your silly pictures.Aha! Got one when he wasn't looking :)

I also made a present for Julian for Christmas. As he is deep into the pirate obsession phase, I knew who I would be knitting it for when I saw the We Call Them Pirates hat pattern on Ravelry. This is a super fun hat to make and not nearly as hard as it looks.A close up of the skull and crossbones.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Knitting Saga Returns: The Case of the Purple Yarn

I don't currently have a way to take digital pictures- our camera is on its last leg of life and on the last trip out East somehow we lost the cord to connect it to the computer... so, all I have is the internal camera of my computer. Which is why I have not been doing knitting updates, as they are more fun with pictures. But I do have some pictures for you, nevertheless, because I am resourceful like that. I hit a streak of knitting bad luck upon returning to Winona, but it seems to have turned now and I can once again talk about knitting without throwing yarn and needles across the room. A warning for non-knitting fans, this is a heavily yarn-centered post, so you might want to just skim the photos and be done. For those who do knit, you might have a similar story and be able to sympathize.

I ordered some yarn from Webs soon after Christmas during their blowout sale. One of the yarns I purchased was Classic Elite's Alaska yarn (50% alpaca 50% wool), which came in 25 yard balls. For those who don't knit, yarn usually comes in at least 60-something yard balls, while some come in 200-something yards. It usually depends on the thickness of the yarn- the thicker the yarn, the less the yardage, because they are usually 50g or 100g balls. So, in order to knit a particular project, I needed 13 balls of this 50g-25yd yarn. The project was a sort of last-minute, "oh they have a free pattern online for it and there's going to be a KAL in ravelry, I should make it because the yarn's so cheap," sort of affair. Thing is, I didn't do the math. My sister did, because she was going to make one, too. In the same color. It's the Best Friend Cardigan from Twinkle's Big City Knits. And she figured out the yardage in this yarn for a small, which is what I usually knit. But I often lengthen the sleeves and sometimes the waist, too. And since this pattern called for bobbles, which take up a lot of yarn, I figured I would have enough extra to lengthen it. It would be close, but do-able. I would have bought an extra ball or two, but there were only 26 balls left and since we both wanted the same color, I could only get the 13. So I did. And then I looked at the measurements. A small was supposed to be 28" around at the chest. Yes, the chest, not the waist. That's when I knew this would be interesting.

When it arrived, Mobi confirmed for me that it was soft and nap-worthy.The sweater knit up very quickly, and I did get an extra inch or so for waist length, because there was no way I was going to have a cropped bulky sweater. Ok, that was fine. Then I got to the sleeves. Using every last possible scrap of yarn left, I knit the sleeves as long as I could, several inches longer than the pattern called for. I was sure I would have enough length. Then I sewed them on. And they were a good two inches, maybe three, shorter than I would want. I thought maybe I could make them stretch, so I wore it one day to work to try it out, without buttons because I hadn't bought any yet. And I came to the conclusion that it just wouldn't work. On a thick, warm sweater I need sleeves that cover my wrists.Now, at this point I was faced with a decision. I could order more yarn, because even though the Alaska was long sold out, they were still selling Aspen, the same yarn but in 50yard balls. I would therefore spend another $20 on yarn and still need to buy huge buttons, which probably were going to run me another $15 at least. Or, I could frog the whole thing and make what I had really been wanted to do since I got the Rowan 42 magazine, which was the Alpine Shrug.
Surely 13 balls of this could make something that didn't even have sleeves. And that would save me all the extra money to finish this cardigan and the money I would have used to buy yarn to make this shrug. So, that's what I did. I frogged and frogged and frogged and then knit and knit and knit, and then ran out of yarn. Before the shrug was done. I had just received an email from Webs giving me a coupon for free shipping, and I knew what I had to do. So, $20 and 2 skeins later I had enough yarn to do one more repeat, which still wasn't enough, according to the pattern. It was certainly big enough, however, once I got it sewn up. Almost too big. I wore it around town this weekend and I swear it stretched out. Juan called it my turtle sweater because it really looks like a turtle shell. But it's so big, the bottom petal can't be seen, it's just folded underneath. And no, I didn't do gauge. Because it was a shrug and the yarn called for #19 needles, and I just figured it would work. I swear this yarn had led me to so many bad decisions, I'm starting to think it's cursed. So, I am going to have to adjust this somehow if I am going to wear it. I could reknit the whole thing on #17s, or I could try mildly felting it. While I'm really really tempted to try the felting, if I screw it up, there's no hope for the yarn's recovery.
Anyone who is still reading this had experience with alpaca/wool yarn and felting? What do you think? Is it worth a shot or a really bad idea? Any suggestions, ideas, sound advice would be welcome. Because I have a $70 shrug I'm not thrilled with right now. I'm actually considering re-doing the Best Friend Cardi now that I know I'd have enough yarn to finish it. This is the state of my head right now people.

PS This is not the only knitting drama around here lately, but I'll save the other one for the next post.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sometimes it's the Little Things

I walked out of the house today in a wool sweater and down vest with fingerless gloves and no hat. The temperature was 15 degrees F. Thing is, it seemed balmy out there. And it was, compared to the 10 degrees below zero that greeted me on the way to work the other day. Now, I'm normally a person who overdresses for the weather. So I couldn't believe what the thermometer said when I got in the car. Could I actually, possibly, finally be toughening up and facing my Northern-born fate? Nah. Second time I left the house this morning, I put on my long down coat and my wool hat.