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Done with one… not so successful on the other

Done with one… not so successful on the other

We spent the whole weekend finishing up the living room.  I am thrilled with this room.  I feel like I’m in a totally different house!  Here’s a quick reminder of what it looked like before:

Note the DARK green walls, blue/grey cove, and dusty purple on the inside of the doorway.  Also, you can just see the edge of a weird section of wood paneling on the left.   What you can’t see in this picture is that whoever painted this house used flat paint.  So you can see every fingerprint, smudge and scratch from anything or anyone that has ever come near these walls.   No one had ever filled a nail hole and the window and base moldings don’t match the rest of the house.  
Here is that same corner in the middle of the re-do.  

Nail holes filled and sanded, moldings removed and wall partially removed.  Also, no more paneling!
And here it is as of last night at 9pm. 

New wall color is called Magnolia Spray.   It’s just on the yellow side of cream with just a touch of peach.  It is so bright and clean.  We had such a problem in here with the dark green paint, even with our big bay window it was always dark in here.  We had FOUR lamps in here and with them all on, and all the kitchen lights on, it was still not light enough to read or knit comfortably.  Last night I turned the lights off in the rest of the house and turned only two lamps on (and the new lights over the new breakfast nook) and it was totally bright enough to knit.  Not that I was knitting…

Which brings me to my confession.  I haven’t been knitting.  I have held it on my lap and stared at the chart.  I have held the first 20 rows and stretched and examined them.  But I haven’t knit a stitch since I realized that every 4th line should have a little cable twist over 3 stitches and I wasn’t doing them.  I am having such a hard time reading the chart, I don’t understand why the chart couldn’t be ONE BIG chart with all the stitches for the whole 36 row repeat.  I’ve never really done any cable projects before.  I did one pair of socks with a very simple cable over 4 stitches and I am currently working on a baby cardigan with a cable over 10 stitches.  I admit I am inexperienced.  But I am not dumb.  I can read a chart but why am I expected to remember so many repeats.  Is it so hard to print a complete chart?!   
See those sections of stockinette.  They aren’t supposed to be stockinette.  
For the past three days, I’ve picked up the first 20 rows of the shrug and stared at it.  Comparing it to the chart.  Deciding which I want more; a finished, perfect shrug or a finished in a week shrug.  I think I have decided.  This is the first large garment I am making for myself (or anyone for that matter) and I do want it to be perfect.  What’s teh point of spending $65 dollars on yarn, another $5 for the magazine/pattern and all that time if the finished product is shoddy at best?  I would accept a missed cable stitch in a sock.  I’ve looked past bigger mistakes than that, and generally I am a ‘make it work’ knitter.  But this is too much. 
I think at this point I have figured out all the possible problems I’ll have with this pattern and chart.  I think I have the knowledge now to rip back and start over.  I will start over with the confidence that it will be the last time I rip back and cast on for this project.  
I am disappointed.  But I am also sitting in my bright new living room.  So I’ll take the good with the bad this time.  
I’ll leave you with some more pictures of the finished (but mostly unfurnished in these photos) living room.  

Day 4

Day 4

Or is it?  Ok, right, this is day 5 of the Olympics.  So far I am not making good time on my shrug.  I am on row 9.  That works out to about one and a half rows or about 140 stitches per day since Friday.  Since there are 33,372 stitches (give or take a couple hundred) in my cabled shrug…  I’ll be finished in…  um… about 240 days… 

I cast on 103 stitches Friday night during the opening ceremony and worked the ‘set up’ row.  No problemo.  I moved on to row one and proceeded to cable my little heart out. I was just using the page right out of the magazine but I photocopied it so I could use my magnetic board to keep track of what row I was on.  Moving along the charts to about row 4 when I realize there are two pairs of symbols in my chart that look exactly alike.  But they have different descriptions.  I was totally perplexed.  I stared at the photocopied chart for too long and had no idea what to make of it.  So I picked up the magazine and looked closely.  The symbols WERE different.  My photocopy just hadn’t picked up the tiny little corners that were white on one pair and grey on the other pair.  In addition to that problem, I was not even sure which of the four symbols I was using where.

So I ripped and cast on again.
I wasn’t too mad or frustrated, but glad I figured it out before I got through one whole repeat of the 36 row chart.  I got up and got four different colored markers.  I filled in the four different symbols with four different colors.  I didn’t put too much thought into choosing what color markers to use for each symbol, I just grabbed four colors that would look pretty on my chart together.  Blue, light blue, turquoise and purple.  See where this is going?  

Here is my color-coded chart.   What?  you only see two colors in that chart?  yeah…  let’s not dwell here too long, the problem is obvious.  Well, now it is anyway.  
I ripped and cast on again.
So today I enlarged the big chart on the photocopier at work.  and also made two enlarged copies  of the smaller side chart (it goes on either side of the big chart).  I cut the charts out and frankensteined them back together in the orientation I would knit them.  I chose four VERY distinct different colors and carefully color coded my enlarged Frankenstein chart.  I made little notes on the margins reminding myself of the tricky little things I had discovered during the four times I worked the first 5 to 9 rows of the charts. 

So now I am home.  The Olympics are on tv and I am ready to give this new chart with the knitting equivalent of training wheels on it a try.  Because the fifth time’s a charm, right?  

I am not sure the 9 rows I have on my needle at the moment are correct.  Some little sections look like they are setting up to be cables.  There are other sections that look like I’ve been making stuff up as I go along.  I think I’ll try to follow the charts for a couple more rows and see if those rows start to make sense.  If not…  I’m going to have to call in reinforcements.  I don’t know who or what they’ll be yet,  so this color coded Frankenstein chart better help.
Cozy shrug for the Olympics

Cozy shrug for the Olympics

I had decided a long time ago, exactly 4 years ago, that I would try again in the 2010 Knitting Olympics.  I did not get a medal in 2006, so this year I have extra motivation to accomplish my goal.   My first idea was to make fingerless gloves.  The kind that also have a mitten part that folds back to reveal bare fingertips.  I couldn’t decide if that project would be too easy or too ambitious.  I guess I just wasn’t feelin’ it. 

There is a project in the very first knitting magazine I ever bought that I have always gone back to and oogled and oohed and aahed.  It has cables and requires quite a bit of yarn.  So I always had some excuse why I couldn’t make it.  Either I didn’t have the money to buy enough yarn that I would actually want to touch my skin (yummy wool perhaps with silk) or I didn’t think I could successfully read and follow the cable charts. 

A couple weeks ago it was really cold in my house and I couldn’t get warm.  I couldn’t keep a blanket on my shoulders and the one on my lap wasn’t enough.  In that moment I decided I had to finally make the Cabled Shrug from Interweave Knits Fall 2005.  And with the Knitting Olympics coming up, maybe I had a better chance of actually starting it AND finishing it.  And maybe even get to use it before it starts warming up this spring… haha, ok that last part is just funny.  I live in Michigan, I’ll still be using this thing in June.

Thursday afternoon I headed out to Knit A Round in Ann Arbor and used the gift card I got from my coworkers for Christmas.  I found a gorgeous 100% wool that is softer than any pure wool I’ve ever felt.  I couldn’t believe it didn’t have a bit of acrylic or silk or something in it to make it so soft.   I picked out a nice rich chocolate brown but there wasn’t enough.  After another 20 minutes of petting each color (there had to be 25 or more colors to choose from) I decided on a green.  Not quite sage, not quite celery, somewhere in between. 

As an added bonus, the yarn I chose was made in Michigan!  
And… I can’t leave a yarn shop without some sock yarn…  two skeins of Koigu.  This colorway is so NOT me.  I think that’s why I like it.  It’s all rusts and orange and gold with just a few bits of light blue and a scant bit of purple.  I’ve never used koigu before and have seen so  much of it on other blogs for years and years.
I can’t leave this post without an update on our living room remodel.  It’s not done yet.  Soon though. 
Kitchen wall:  now you see it…
Now you don’t!!!
Ryan is building a butcher block style counter top to go there and we’ll have a little breakfast nook.  I am SO excited.  I have the most amazing and talented husband! 
Hopefully this project will be accomplished peacefully along with the Knitting Olympics…  fierce competition around here. 
Pining for a lazy Sunday

Pining for a lazy Sunday

Our living room is still torn up.  I spent half the day yesterday with a palm sander, going over every inch of the old paint.  There have been so many coats of paint in that room and each one had a worse finish than the previous.  So many drip marks and bumps and places where it looked like they dropped the paint roller on the floor and kept painting, not caring that there were little bits of who-knows-what in the paint.  You can see a line around the whole room where it was poorly cut in.  So, we’re sanding every inch of the room.  Since we are painting a light cream color, every little bump and ding will be very obvious.  We are also patching a ton of holes.  I think we are the first owners in this house’s nearly 60 years of existence to ever patch a nail hole.  I am not a perfectionist, by any definition of the word, but you can’t just paint a room without removing nails and patching holes.

Because there is so much sanding and mess going on in there, we’ve cleared out pretty much everything except the dining room table and a couch.  The tv and stand got moved into our bedroom and everything else is now in the sewing room. 

Wish us luck, I hope to have this project done before Valentines Day…

It is a dark, cold, rainy Sunday here.  It is after 11am and I am still in bed; with my laptop, a book, knitting, and the tv all right here…  going back to the palm sander feels like punishment.

The rest of ’09 and looking toward ’10

The rest of ’09 and looking toward ’10

I’ve had some people prodding me for an update, so here it is.  Just a quick recap since October.


I’m a trucker and Ryan just got out of bed.  Bella is the doggy that had to stay home.

R to L is Ryan, Shannon, Daddy, me, Leah.  We stayed with my little sister Shannon in Chicago.  She and Leah cooked us an amazing Thanksgiving meal Wednesday night when we got there and then on Thursday we went to Maggiano’s for an amazing family style dinner where we gorged ourselves on crazy good bruschetta,  pastas, traditional thanksgiving faire and amazing desserts! 
Santa came
He brought us a Wii and Super Mario Wii, and Wii Fit Plus.   I haven’t been doing a whole lot other than playing Mario.  I am addicted and in less than a month have gotten to the Castle at the end of World 5.  I keep telling myself to slow down because if I beat the game this fast, then what am I going to do?!  But I just can’t stop. 
Ryan’s birthday is the day after Christmas and I planned a surprise birthday party for him.   It was great and he had NO idea anything was going on.
For his birthday I gave him a pair of (one finished but unfelted and one almost finished) clog slippers.  Here they are finished and ready for felting. 
The only other gift I made this holiday season are the cutest pair of baby slippers I have ever seen!  My cousin and his wife are having a baby in February.  Her shower was the first weekend in December, but the slippers weren’t done until the 26th.  So I gave them to her at our family Christmas.
I think Bella got more gifts than any of us.  She was due though, she was a good girl this year and all of her toys were getting worn out, her balls didn’t squeak any more and none of her stuffed animals had any fluff inside of them.  
As for 2010, January is shot.  We are in the middle of painting our living room.  As you can see in the “Surprise” picture above our front room is a dark forest green.  I’ve hated it since the day we moved in, possibly since before the house was ours.  The room is not very big, and we have a lot of furniture packed in there since it is a living room slash dining room.  That dark color on the walls makes it so dark even when the sun is shining through our large bay window.  We are going to work on it all week after work, getting it prepped for paint and then hopefully have it done by the end of next weekend.  After that is finished, my sewing room is an absolute mess.  A lot of the stuff that had to be cleared out of the front room for painting ended up in my sewing room.  And it was a pretty nice disaster before that happened too.  Things just keep going into the sewing room and never coming out.  So don’t look for any sewing projects to be coming out of there anytime soon either.
I’ll be knitting though…  if I’m not playing Mario. 
At what point?

At what point?

I have come to a stopping point in nearly ALL of my knitting projects.  Each one has it’s own little problem that I haven’t had the time, ambition or energy to tackle.

Problem One

I started this Cabled Raglan Baby Sweater (free pattern for subscribers to Knitting Daily) with Louisa Harding Kimono Angora yarn.  You’ll never guess where I got this yarn.  Tuesday Morning.   Yes, the TJMaxx-ish home goods store.  I found 5 balls of it, each marked 3.99.  For angora yarn.  There were others of the same kind there, but the colorways were particularly awful.  I just hope I have enough of this pink to finish the sweater! 
The problem with this sweater is fairly simple to fix, I think.  Each row starts with knit 5.  well, about 5 rows ago, somehow I purled 5.  so I have three rows that look like stockinette for the first 5 stitches instead of garter stitch.  If this were in the middle of a row, I would be able to easily (as easily as possible with fuzzy angora yarn) ladder down and fix those 5 stitches.  Since the problem is the first 5 stitches of the row, I’m having a hard time laddering down and rearranging the stitches so they look nice.  They got all stretched out.  So, I think my new solution is to rip back to before I screwed up.  But the problem there is that there are all kinds of increases for the sleeves through the middle of every other row.  I am not sure once I rip back that far if I’ll have the right number of stitches.  I really don’t want to unknit 5 or 6 rows one stitch at a time. 
When I am only about 20 rows into a project, can I/should I rip it completely and start over?! 
Why is there so much pain in knitting!?

Problem Two

I bought this sock yarn with a gift certificate that Ryan gave me for my birthday in 2008.  I held onto it for more than a year for some reason.  I went in May before the wedding to pick something out and decided I’d need a new pair of socks to start and take with me on our Honeymoon to Wilmington, NC.  It turned out I did very little knitting on our honeymoon, imagine that!  So, I’ve been knitting on this sock very rarely (see this post for part of the reason) and partly because it’s not easy 2 by 2 ribbing and actually requires I read a pattern.  
Last week I noticed that I have at least three pairs of socks on the needles and while I have TONS of sock yarn and can’t seem to stop acquiring more, I think I need to stick to one pair and finish it.  I also realized that this yarn is not superwash.  it is 100% alpaca.  I do not like to hand wash my socks and this yarn seemed to be making a sock that wouldn’t hug my leg and may be a tad droopy, which I really don’t like.  But I didn’t want to frog the little bit that I had started. 
I left the partial sock on the needles and didn’t break the yarn.  I started from the other end of the ball and started a scarf.  If I end up needing the whole ball, including what is started on the sock, I’ll frog it then, but for now, I can’t commit to the sock or the scarf.

Problem Three

 This is a Malabrigo sock yarn I bought in Chicago last month.  I love this colorway!  it is not as teal in person as it is in this photo.  Definitely more royal blue and charcoal.  The problem with this is that I may have cast on too many stitches.  It is a Christmas gift sock for someone. We do not have the same size feet, so I can’t use myself as a guide.  I really don’t want to start over, but I really don’t want to knit any further on this until I decide if it will fit.  
Problem Four – SOLVED!

I started these Lorna’s Laces toe-up socks at least a year ago.  Possibly TWO years ago.  The toe was fine and easy, I knit around and around for the foot until I got to 1-1/2 inches before the heel.  I tried the heel twice, from two different patterns.  Each one had it’s own issue that I couldn’t deal with (and can’t remember because it was probably two years ago, and I won’t bad mouth any patterns I used, because I’m not sure it was the pattern’s fault).  So, I frogged the heel twice (at least).  A couple weeks ago, I was perusing the knitting section at Borders and saw this book by Wendy D. Johnson (pictured with sock above).  It looked like it had great patterns and really great illustrations and step-by-steps.  So I thought I would give it a try.  It WORKS!!!  I have a perfect toe-up heel with no holes and no funky issues!  I am soooooo excited!  I have wanted to learn toe-up socks for such a long time. 

Since this is the only thing I’ve figured out among all the problems, this is what I’ve been working on.  Instead of the Christmas gift socks.  He’s pretty used to getting a box with one sock in it for Christmas though, what’s one more year.  Does three years of doing the same thing make it an official Tradition?

None of this has stopped me from looking online for yarn, or wanting to start another pair of socks.  And none of it has motivated me to do anything about any of it.