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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Finn

Unfortunately Finn had some post surgical complications that are major under optimal circumstances. Since Finn went into the surgery weak from being sick and then had 6+ hours of surgery because there were complications on the surgical table, he just wasn't strong enough to endure the additional issues. We made the decision to put him to sleep tonight. Logically we know we made the right decision for him, but we are all very emotionally battered and bruised right now. These last couple of weeks have been very difficult for our family, but I truly appreciate each and every one of you who have taken the time to leave a comment and even those of you who didn't comment, but kept us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Finn

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts and prayers and condolences when we lost Ramius last week. Each of them was deeply appreciated and I thank you for taking the time to think of us.

I had fully expected to be back to the blog this week at least a little bit (I have been knitting), but we've had a bit more drama around here. The day after making the difficult decision to put Ramius to sleep, Finn got sick. We thought he was grieving (even though his relationship with Ramius was very one sided) and we and the vet treated him with that in mind. This week he was showing no real improvement so we had tests run, which led to more tests, which possibly indicated some really big problems (possible liver cancer). The radiologist got back to us this morning after thoroughly reviewing everything (bloodwork, X-rays, and ultrasound) and she saw no sign of cancer or any other big issues - his liver and other organs look great. What she thinks she sees is an intestinal blockage. It seems that Finn, the walking stomach, ate something he shouldn't have. He is at the vet's right now preparing for exploratory surgery to remove the whatever that's blocking him up. Our family would really appreciate any prayers for Finn and the vets as they work on him (there's a second vet who's coming in on his day off to help with the surgery). I realize that an intestinal blockage isn't usually good news, but compared to what we thought was happening, we're feeling pretty happy right now.

I hope each of you has a wonderful weekend and I'll update the blog with news about silly Finn. Thanks.

ETA: Finn is out of surgery. He's spending the night at the emergency vet so they can monitor him as he wakes up. He spent about 5 hours in surgery and we're not out of the woods yet, but hopefully everything will heal properly with no infection. We're exhausted here but feel better than we have in over a week.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ramius

We had to put Ramius to sleep this week. He was ready to let go, even if we weren't. I'm going to take some time away from the blog for a bit. I'll be back when I'm ready to talk again. Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mohair Loop

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I've gotten about 3/4 of the way through the Mohair Loop. It works up very quickly on such big needles (US 10.5/6.5 mm). I'm thinking that I should be able to finish it this week but we'll see. Once I do finish it, I'll weigh it and weigh my leftover ball of yarn. I'm still thinking that one ball of this (Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkmo) will do two Mohair Loops. This might be helpful to those of you out there contemplating Christmas knitting.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

White Tea

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The White Tea Cardigan is coming along nicely. I'm about halfway through the yoke (I'm calling the yoke everything north of where you separate the sleeve stitches out from the body stitches). I love this yarn! It's so soft and bouncy and feels great in my hands. It doesn't split and it's easy to knit on autopilot. The alpaca is blooming some as I knit it which adds a lovely haze to the knitting. I'm definitely going to want to use this yarn again.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Metro

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Here, it is, all finished! I love the way it came out and I think it will be getting a lot of wear when it gets a little cooler around here. I can see the cables (on the left front) clearly in real life but I had to tweak the color of the photo a little to get them to show up here. I knew when I chose this yarn for this sweater that the cable details might get lost in the black yarn, but I decided that since there were only a few cables, I would go ahead and knit it. I don't regret my color choice, but anyone else who chooses to knit this sweater (or any other cabled sweater) in a dark color needs to know that cables will get lost in dark colors. This is probably why so many of us think of ivory yarn when we think about traditional cabled sweaters - light colors show off the cables better.

Anyway, the pattern is Metro from Fall 2010 Twist Collective. I used Jaegar Shetland Aran yarn in black (it's been discontinued for a few years). I knit the 33 1/2" size and I love the fit. The pattern is very well written and easy to follow. I would rate the difficulty of it somewhere around the medium level. It's not hard to knit, but you need to be comfortable with several different knitting techniques to work this pattern. Now if only the temperature would drop a little, I could wear it!

(Please ignore the hair malfunction here. I have layers and clearly some of them got caught in my hair clip funny. Just look at the sweater and ignore the hair.)

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

White Tea (with a side of unexplainable drama)

Metro is now blocking (which is to say it's laying on a towel drying, but blocking sounds so much more technical; drying just sounds like laundry). Anyway, I am, right this moment, without a single cardigan on the needles. (Oh, the horror!) However, my stash being what it is, there are other cardis waiting in the wings, so fear not - I've already picked the next one to grace my needles (dramatic, relieved sigh here).

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I will be using this yarn, Berroco's Ultra Alpaca, which is a 50/50 blend of alpaca and merino and comes in a whopping 215 yard hank at a reasonable price. I am using the Winter White color, which is a lovely, creamy ivory color. I expect to actually be able to see what I'm knitting in this, unlike the black yarn I used for Metro, which was mostly knit by feel. But what will I be knitting? Well, since you asked, I will be knitting the Tea Leaves Cardigan. I have been in love with this design since it came out about a year ago (here's a Rav link, if you'd prefer). This will be my White Tea Cardigan, which is, interestingly enough, also my perfume. Casting on will commence shortly!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Metro

Thanks for all the wonderful complements on Coraline! I'm very happy with the way it came out and I've already worn it once.

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This weekend, I finished the sleeves to Metro. (I realized after I was uploading the pictures that I didn't do a great job of arranging the sweater before I took the picture - the wrinkles on the left front - on the right side of the picture - are purely my own fault for not laying out the sweater right, they aren't really there in real life, the sleeves fit perfectly.) At this point, all I have to do to finish Metro is to finish the collar in the back, weave in some ends and block the whole thing. I'll get it all finished up before I show it again on the blog, but I'm hoping to get all the finishing done and the blocking started today! Two sweaters in two weeks!

We did discover something new this weekend - Finn is scared of bunny slippers. Mickael has some Bugs Bunny slippers and he put them on the other night because his feet were cold. Finn freaked out! I realized that while Mickael has has these slippers for years, Finn hasn't seen them before, because Mickael has been wearing other slippers. Poor Finn had no idea what to do about the silly things on his Daddy's feet. Right now he's wagging at them a lot and avoiding direct eye contact - you never know with bunnies.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Coraline

Once Coraline had dried from it's blocking, I grabbed some of the little safety pin kind of markers and put it on to decide button placement. There was a question the other day about buttons and yes, buttons (and buttonholes) are usually decided when the front bands are knit, but this sweater uses button loops which are added anywhere and are added after the sweater is finished. The front edges are finished as you knit. This gives lots of options and you can really customize your button placement to work with your body type (genius!).

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The first thing I tried was "buttoning" it just below the bustline. This is pretty flattering on most figure types (mine included) because it pulls the garment in at one of the smallest parts of the body (even if you don't have a waist, just below your bustline is usually smaller than the rest of you) and it gives you a V shape below the button and an inverted V above the button - V shapes are slimming. I liked it there, but it wasn't quite right. Then I tried adding buttons all the way up the front in the way that cardigans have been buttoned for ages - classics are classic for a reason. I liked that too, but it made the cardigan a little too classic and somehow less interesting. (I'm totally in love with classic pieces, but for some reason, maybe the nature of the handspun yarn, it's just not quite right for this sweater.) Then I decided to try it the way it's shown in the pattern - just a few buttons at the yoke - BINGO! It just looked right that way. I think it could have worked with the under-the-bustline trick if I had worked the additional short rows for the neck shaping (compare the neckline in the pattern - jewel neck - versus my neckline - more of a ballet neck), but with the open, wide neckline, it just didn't quite work right.

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All the details: Coraline by Ysolda Teague (Ravelry Coraline link) knit in my own handspun yarn. I did not work the short rows in the yoke section (there's a lot more information about working the short rows vs. not working the short rows in the Ravelry project pages for this design), giving me a ballet neck on the cardigan. I used 3 - 1/2 inch shell buttons to close the yoke section. Except for adding an inch to the sleeve measurements for my long arms and adding a few more rows to the yoke section to compensate for a row gauge that was different from the pattern, I made no changes to this design. The pattern is very well written with nicely finished edgings that I really like. It's a simple design with lovely details, which is probably why there are over 500 of these on Ravelry. I'm very happy with the way it came out and can see myself getting a lot of use out of it!

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Metro

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Ask any knitter what the most challenging part of seaming up a sweater is and they will almost always answer "setting in the sleeves." Getting a set in sleeve into the armscye properly takes time, patience, and a little bit of juggling. It's the same in sewing. If set in sleeves weren't so flattering and comfortable to wear, we could just ignore them (and some people do), but not everyone can wear raglan sleeves and most of us occasionally prefer a better fit than what we get from dropped sleeves.

Metro has a unique approach to the problem - set in sleeves that are worked in as you go! I first saw this technique in Custom Knits. (I think there are some cute patterns in this book, but even if none of them appeal to you, it's worth having in your library just for the construction details and design techniques.) I thought it looked interesting, but I had never tried it out. Metro uses this technique, or a similar one, to knit the sleeves and attach them to the body of the sweater in a single step. I haven't gotten very far yet, but it seems like something someone should get an award for. I already have the top of the sleeve cap area finished and it's sitting properly in the armscye! I'm so excited about this, I can't wait to see what the whole sleeve looks like! My only problem is that with Metro, I can only knit things-I-have-to-pay-attention-to during the day since it's black yarn. Kind of limits the knitting time.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Change of Topic

Today's blog post was supposed to be about Metro. Metro's sleeves to be precise, but something happened yesterday to pre-empt that blog post. We will return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts on Wednesday.

Yesterday Caleb was home sick. He wasn't super sick, just sick enough to feel puny and be off his food, and its sometimes hard to decide how sick someone is the first thing in the morning. He's better now. The problem with being sick on Monday is that I do grocery shopping on Mondays. Short of hospitalization and/or loss of limb, grocery shopping on Mondays is pretty mandatory. So Caleb got drug along to the grocery store. I had been meaning to get him to the store for a while now so he could pick out a deodorant. I have been asking around to other mom's who have boys older than Caleb and the consensus seems to be to start your son wearing deodorant before they need it so that by the time they really do need it, they are already in the habit of wearing it. Most agree that sometime around 4th grade is a good time to start. Caleb is in 4th grade this year, so I decided he could start wearing it as soon as I could get him to the store to find one he liked. So we toodled off to the Men's Deodorant Section to find him one and started sniffing deodorants. We got all the way through the Old Spice scents (great commercials) and the Degree scents and he didn't like any of them. At this point I realized there might be a problem because there are probably only 4 or 5 scent families in men's deodorant anyway, and we had sniffed at least 10 different products. In an effort to figure out what was going on, we had the following conversation:

Me: What kind of scent are you looking for here? Maybe we can narrow it down.

Caleb: Cookies.

Me: Remind me when we get to the snack aisle, let's focus on deodorant now.

Caleb: No, cookie scent. (He's completely serious. He's looking for cookie scented deodorant.)

Me: Honey (trying not to laugh), they don't make cookie scented deodorant.

He thought about it for a minute.

Caleb: What about barbeque?

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Coraline

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I've just about got it finished! I finished the knitting yesterday and got all the ends woven in. What you see here is a very wet Coraline blocking as it dries. Finn helped me lay it out on the towels (he's always up for anything that might involve wet wool) and then he looked at buttons with me. In the pattern, she shows just a few buttons in the yoke area and lets the rest of the cardi swing free. I'm thinking I might put buttons all the way up the front so I can close the whole thing or only do a few buttons and let it swing. When it's all dry, I'll try it on again and decide what I want to do. I've already tried it on a few times when I was checking the neckline and it fits just like I wanted it to fit. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Finn and I chose a dark, iridescent shell button with blues and greens in it. I thought it might be too dark at first and was planning on a regular, light shell button, but the darker ones look better in person. I tried to get a picture but it's photographing very silvery and not showing the colors. You can't see much of the stitch detail on the yoke picture either, but I took these last night and had to use flash, which washed out the details. I will do one more post for this sweater and try to get some daylight shots (and maybe some modeled ones) of it all finished with buttons!
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