Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Enegry Saga

Once upon a time, 1990 to be exact, I lived in the OC (Orange County, CA). In March of that year, something very special came into my life.

Heidi and I Spring 1990

She was named Heidi (Dad's idea) and she was a Norwegian Elkhound. She was my shadow and went everywhere with me. At the time, I was married to someone who was very insecure and emotionally abusive, so Heidi became a very important part of my life. She was very protective, and read my emotional and physical state very well.

That Spring, I received my issue of Vogue Knitting. At that point in my life, I really loved DKNY, and in that issue was this sweater:

The Energy Saga

I'll get to the torn page later. Pretty sweater. Knittable sweater in my eyes. The one thing I had plenty of was cotton.

Needles and Thread

For those of you who may suspect that this is crochet cotton, you would be correct. I started knitting this sweater with two strands of #10 crochet cotton on size 2US needles.

1991 rolls around, and in June the husband became an ex. Heidi and I were living with my parents, and she was loving all the attention that "Grandpa" was giving her. Always a very finicky eater, Dad took pity on her and made special gravy for her kibble. He also walked her twice a day and she was his barbecue buddy.

Over the summer of 1991, I reconnected with friends and started to figure my life out again. It was during this time that my best friend Chris introduced me to a very nice man who became a good friend. His name was Kevin. Chris and I had been friends since 8th grade, and he knew my weird crafting habits, so bringing some knitting or needlework with me when I came to visit was not unusual. I remember the sweater being in my car for those times I wanted something to pass the time. I remember working on it that summer.

In the fall, I was offered a job transfer to Oakland, CA. I fell in love with the Bay Area, having visited it many times previously in the year. I even took a week's vacation shortly after my separation and explored San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay. When the transfer was offered, I jumped on it. I wanted to get away from So Cal and all the bad memories. I put my things in order, and headed north. That was the weekend of the Oakland Hill's Fire Storm.

That Sunday the fire raged through the East Bay Hills. I had been looking at some rental units up along Broadway Terrace. They burned that night and in the days that followed. I sat in my hotel room in Emeryville, facing the hills and watching them burn. Living in north Orange County, I was used to wild fires. After a while, you can tell the difference between structure and brush fires. I knew that night that this was going to be a monster. I sat there, knitting on the sweater and listening to the news. My eyes kept scanning the hills.

I had been looking for a place with a yard so Heidi could come live with me. Since I was now competing with 3,000 families for housing, I was lucky to find a studio apartment 6 weeks later. Let me say this - no one should benefit from a disaster. Landlords took advantage of the situation and rents in the area saw a huge increase in the months following the fire. With the Tahoe fire raging these last few days, it is so hard not to be reminded of my first week in the Bay Area.

I was visiting So Cal about every 3 weekends. Drive down Friday night. Drive back Sunday night. On a good day - a solid 6 hours with two gas stops. Kevin, who had moved back to Idaho Falls to be with his family for a while, visited So Cal every once in a while too. His drive was 16 hours. Long story short, we "hooked up". Chris was behind the whole thing. He said that he had no choice with the first one, he was going to be damned if he was going to get stuck with someone he didn't like this time. Side note - at my first wedding in 1988, Chris was in the bridal party. He nearly fainted during the ceremony. We had to stop briefly. It was a sign from God that we ignored. Anyway, Kevin and I started a long distance relationship. On June 29th, I came home from work, and he was at my apartment. Surprise!! The 30th was my birthday, and he was my present. This Friday, we celebrate 15 years together.

Yes, this is going somewhere.

My lease was up in December, and we lived in that Studio apartment until then. A friend of ours, Damon, stayed with us for a few weeks while he was trying to find work and a place to live. I met Damon and Kevin, as well my dear friend Tammi, within a few days of each other in June 1991. Kevin and I started looking for a place in November, and we found a house, with a huge yard, in Concord. Heidi would have a lot of room to run around, smell and explore.

We visited Mom and Dad for Christmas, and prepared to bring Heidi home with us. Reminder - she had lived with Grandpa, aka "Gravy-man" for 15 months. She loved my Dad, as evidenced by this shot.

What? - It was Granpa's idea.

This was taken Christmas 2000, our last Christmas together at my house. The following year, my Dad's health started to fail, and he passed away March 2002. Heidi normally wasn't allowed on the couch, but this was Grandpa. By this point, we had another dog, Fen, and he wasn't allowed on the couch, even when Grandpa was here.

Heidi was happy to be with me again, but wasn't happy about Grandpa not being here. No more gravy, no more walks twice a day. However, she had a whole house as her dog house and a huge yard with grass, real grass. She was used to a cement patio and red wood deck since my folks lived in a canyon. She wanted to let us know she wasn't happy with everything - and most of the destruction was directed at me.

One day, we came home and my bed pillows were in the backyard. She had dragged them out there through the dog door. How she did it, I don't know. Next were shoes, stuffed animals, some clothes, whatever she could get her paws on. To me, this meant, "I don't like you anymore, you can live outside". The only thing she destroyed that could be associated with Kevin was the remote. She demolished the remote and we found pieces all over the living room. We took this message to be "stop watching TV and pay attention to me". Then I came home to this....

The Energy Saga

Yes, my dog ate my magazine. I salvaged what I could, and luckily she didn't destroy the back half of the magazine. She also took out a couple of 1st edition books. She eventually forgave us and life returned to normalcy.

The sweater went away for a number of years, came out for a short period of time, then went back into the Cave (the converted garage). Last year, on January 26, 2006, Heidi went to be with Dad. She saw her 16th birthday. I pulled out this sweater shortly after she had passed, but I couldn't do it. Seeing those ripped pages reminded me of those first few months of her life here in No Cal.

Earlier this month, I figured it was time to get it done. 17 years is long enough. So here it is.

The Energy Saga

The Energy Saga

A very over sized lace sweater, with some color variations and in doily cotton. The sleeves are a perfect length, and the drape is funky. I plan on washing it and seeing what happens. I might have to tea dye it. We'll see.

It may not be perfect, or the vision I had wanted to create, but the last 17 years of my life are knit into this sweater. If nothing else, whenever I see, or wear it (and I will), I will be reminded of my Boo-bear, of the beginning of my life with my wonderful husband, of good friends that wanted to see me happy, and my life in Northern California. That's a lot to pack into one sweater!

Walking On The Wild Tide - Cricket

Walking The Wild Tide - Cricket
Originally uploaded by solslett.

These are my April Rockin' Sock Club Socks. They started out as the designated Grasshopper socks, however, my brain had gas that day.

The pattern calls for a yarn over, purl 2 together pattern. Easy - no problem. Not for me when I started. I registered knit 2 through the back loop. Why? I don't know. Like I said - brain gas. I was at the gusset increase when it dawned on me, and this was after ripping it out 3 times (yes, the farting was a long, drawn out process), before I realized "oh, yeah, that would be easier". Did I stop? No. I'm stubborn that way. Besides, the ridges that were created were kind of cool. I also stopped the lace pattern at three inches and did a 1/1 rib for 1 1/2".

I call them Cricket. I like them.

Yes, I have cast on the real Grasshopper's in another STR colorway and am properly executing the pattern.

I like to prove every once in while that I am a true blond.

Yarn: Silkie Socks That Rock
Color: Walking on the Wild Tide
Pattern: Cricket (aka highly modified Grasshopper)
Yardage: 360 yds
Needle: 2.5mm

Monday, June 25, 2007

Up Next - Afghans for Afghans

Up Next - Afghans for Afghans
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Ok, so I'm moving on from Dulaan. This is my first officially dedicated item for Afghans for Afghans. I'm going to try to something beyond hats, but I'm sure they will still be accepted if all it ends up being is hats.

This is a sibling of two Dulaan hats made from Gjestal Naturspunn. I still have one skein left. I guess I have at least one more hat it me from this yarn.

I'll keep you posted.

Hip to be square

Hip to be square
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Well, they're not quite square. They are actually rectangles, but then the title would be awkward.

Warm Up America is another charity that I wanted to support this year, so that meant knitting lots of 7" x 9" blocks. Great way to get through stash (this is any ongoing theme - can you tell?), especially acrylic. Now, most of the acrylic I have is of a better quality than Red Heart, such as Paton's, but it's still plastic yarn.

Crafting for a Cause, one of the groups I belong to, has proposed a square knitting challenge. I love that. My competitive spirit rears up and demands immediate attention. So with the three I completed last week, I am at 6, which was the pre-qualifier to be completed by June 30th. Haha! In fact, I got up early today and finished one and started another.

Stats on these are slim. It is un-named stash. I am pretty sure it is Bernat or Paton's because it was destined to be part of a cardigan, and I since knitting my very first sweater, I have not purchased Red Heart for making cloths. (Yes, I've been a yarn snob for over 20 years.) Needles are 7US, and 40 stitches cast on, slip stitch garter (i.e., Mason Dixon burp cloths), knit for 9" and cast off. Quick, simple and they look nice.

I wonder how many I can get done?? How competitive am I??

A Loopy Sock

A Loopy Sock
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Just so we're clear - I have a problem, and addiction if you will. I must knit socks or die!

Not really.

I love The Loopy Ewe. Sheri, the proprietress, is totally awesome and I wish I could visit and fondle the yarn. But she is in Missouri, and I am in California, and our relationship will continue as it has. Namely, I stalk her site almost daily for new stuff. She sends me wonderful packages with little surprises, such as the Loopy Sock.

Only about 3" long, it is the smallest sock I have done, but it was totally fun and I will need to do this again. So, thank you Sheri for giving us wonderful sock yarn, especially is small surprises.

Buy sock yarn from Sheri. Your life will be better for it.

Yes - I Can Crochet

Yes - I Can Crochet
Originally uploaded by solslett.

I don't crochet as much as I used to. I've done granny square afghans and doilies and a few other things. My wrist starts to bother me after and hour or so. It is a wonderful way to eat up stash though.

Earlier this year, I came across something called Royale Lovebeads Crochet by JP Coats. It is a polyester/acrylic blend, so I figured it would make a nice bag. I bought 5 balls, at a whopping costs of $.97 per ball. How could anyone say no to that? On a G hook, I single crocheted myself through a 5 hour marathon session on June 22nd, and finished it in one shot. My hand was numb when I woke up the next morning. Sigh - the things we endure for our craft.

I have handles buried somewhere in the Cave (my converted garage that is the "craft room"). I need to find a button that will make a nice statement as a closure. I also plan on lining this, and have considered extending the lining over the top to add a 1" contrast border. I think that would look pretty neat. Yeah, I sew too. (side note - I've created 3 wedding dresses, with beading, and they were pretty damn fabulous).

When I find the handles, and line it, I will post an updated picture.

Destined for Dulaan Part 3

The hat destined for the Dulaan Project are done. Here is the last batch...

Destined for <span class=

Two hats made from Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick in the color Grass. Knit on 10.5US Needles, of the 108 yards in the skein, I had less than 2 yards of yarn left. One hat was cast on with 48 stitches, the other with 56. I knit them both on June 20th.

Then we had these.....

Destined for <span class=

Destined for <span class=
Yes, they are the same. Ah, the wonder of lighting and flash photography. Both were knit on 10.5US with 64 stitches. When I finished the messenger bag, I had three skeins left. I thought this would be a good use for the leftovers. It is Gjestal Naturspunn No. 1, 100% wool in color #203 dark green.

With these two done, I had this....

...and then there were 12

...and then there were 12 destined for Dulaan. They are in the box and I will be taking them to the post office later today. I wanted to complete 12, and so I did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Destined for Dulaan Part 2

I was a possessed knitter last night. The deadline for 2007 for the Dulaan Project is looming, and I wanted to get some of the bulky yarn knitted up and shipped out. Over the weekend, I finished three hats, as blogged here. I was pretty happy with the result, especially since I finished three in one night. But three hats was a small donation in my eyes, so I dove into the stash (ohhh, there's a happy thought) and searched for more bulky yarn.

Here is the result of this feverish pursuit of charitable knitting:

Destined for Dulaan Part 2
Destined for Dulaan Part 3
Destined for Dulaan Part 4

The yarn is Sirdar Denim Ultra, a Mega Chunky yarn that on 10.5US needles knits up at 2.5 stitches per inch. Using the Yarn Harlot hat recipes, I cast on 48 or 56 stitches and started the decreasing after 6" of stockinette. And, yes, I knit 5 hats last night. F-I-V-E!!!!!!!

Now I have 8 hats to send next week, but I have time for more.

While I was on a telephone interview this morning, I cast on for hat No. 9. I know there is some more bulky weight in the stash, so I'm diving in this afternoon to retrieve it. I think I want to complete a total of 12 hats. That is a respectable number.

My charity basket is overflowing. By the end of this month, I plan to ship the Chemo hats I completed some months ago, drop off the snuggle blankets to ARF, and send out the squares for Warm Up America. I wanted to finish some hats and socks for Afghans for Afghans, so I should get started on those soon.

There are two things that have made this so worthwhile for me - first is the satisfaction that I hopefully can give some comfort to another soul and second is yarn is leaving the house. That's what keeps me going, especially the yarn leaving the house part. De-stashing is very energizing, especially when it's for a good cause.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Watch Cap #1

Watch Cap #1
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Sometimes I just buy a skein or two of yarn to play with. I bought two complementary shades of blue to knit Husband a double-knitted hat. Maybe some other time. I found a great pattern for a Watch Cap, and cast on.

Husband and I were blessed with big heads, and I had to shorten this one a bit, so I will be donating it to the Ships Project. I have the other skein to work with, and have made some adjustments so the yarn will hopefully "stretch" to what I need to fit Husband's head, otherwise, off it goes to the Ships Project.

What I do know at this point is that I really want to make a sweater from this. It is soooo soft and wonderful.


Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft 4 ply (Merino, Microfiber and Cashmere!)
Color: SH440
Yardage: 197 yds
Needle: 3.25 mm

Destined for Dulaan

Destined for Dulaan
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Using directions from the Yarn Harlot, I made these three hats for the Dulaan Project with the yarn left over form the Big Blue Blanket. I made all three in one evening. I have been inspired to make more.

There are going to be three little heads that will be very warm!!

Green Snuggle

Green Snuggle
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Speaking of charity knitting projects from the lot of Paton's Canadian, here is another snuggle blanket for ARF. Finished size is 21.5" x 21.5" in garter stitch.

3 More Squares

3 More Squares
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Squares are so quick and easy. I'll post details on the yarn when I finish using is all, but for now it's Paton's Canadian 100% acrylic. The lot has been dedicated to charity projects, such as squares for Warm Up America and snuggle blankets for ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation). As I mentioned in another post today, it's been a busy week!

Chevron Scarf - Last Minute Gifts

Chevron Scarf - Last Minute Gifts
Originally uploaded by solslett.

Something so simple shouldn't be such a pain in the ass.

It is very rare that I don't use the recommended needle size for the pattern, as long as I'm using the recommended yarn, I'm usually dead on with gauge. On US5's the swatch was fine, the scarf was not.

I was 2/3rd's done, and I ripped the whole thing out. ARGH!!!!!! I moved up to US8's and knew that this was going to require some steam blocking. This is the Dr. Who scarf from hell. It is majorly too long and I can mummify myself with it. Still, I love the color combination, and in that sense, it is very pretty. A few months ago, I selected another colorway to produce another Chevron scarf. It is hot pink and black. It is loud, proud and awesome. I will take another crack at the Chevron scarf, now that I have "experience".


Yarn: Koigu KPPPM
Color: P200 and P428
Pattern: Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Gifts
Yardage: 175 yds per skeins, 2 of each color
Needle: US8

Big Blue Blanket - Log Cabin - Mason Dixon Knitting

Big Blue Blanket - Log Cabin - Mason Dixon Knitting
Originally uploaded by solslett.

I love Mason Dixon Knitting. I have made many projects from this, and have been inspired to create other things. This would be an example of that. Based on the Log Cabin Afghan, I made this Queen sized afghan. I used Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick. It's huge. It's heavy. It's very warm.

It all started back in January with 8 skeins of T&Q that I got on sale for $2.98 each at a Michael's that was going out of business. We had just returned from our yearly Christmas visit with my Mom, and when I saw these I thought "I can make a nice, warm blanket for us to use at Mom's". My mother believes in hypoallergenic everything, so we get to use this fiberfill duvet that retains no heat. And we sleep on an air mattress because the sleeper sofa is almost 20 years old and will render you unable to walk if slept on. I have offered to buy her a new couch, but after looking for almost 2 years, she doesn't like anything. So, in a nutshell, we freeze our what-its off sleeping on the floor. Did I mention she won't run the heat at night or use electric blankets? There could be a fire or we could be electrocuted. Can you tell this is an old gripe?

Where was I? January. 8 skeins......

I figured I would see how far I could get with a Log Cabin Afghan with these 8 skeins of Sky Blue T&Q. I got bored. I found some skeins of Wheat and thought a splash of cream would make it more interesting. Husband liked the way it was going and started putting his feet under it while I was knitting. I ran out of blue. I bought some more. I ran out again, the weather became too warm, so it was relegated to the corner and stared at me.

This past week, I was determined to get it done. I made a goal in April to finish a number of UFO's, and this was one of them. I finished it on 6/15/07. It ended up being 18 skeins of T&Q, and with the leftovers I made three hats for the Dulaan Project. Just turning it towards the end was an icky undertaking, and the weather had warmed up to nearly 100F. I picked a great time to finish this up.

Here are the stats:

Yarn: Lion Brand Yarn Thick and Quick
Color: Sky Blue and Wheat
Pattern: Mason Dixon Log Cabin Afghan
Yardage: 108 yds per skein - 4 wheat, 14 Sky Blue = 1,944 yds
Needle: 13US
Stitches per inch: 2.5

I am so glad to be done!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Muppet Self

I was visiting the Yarn Thing blog, and came across a Muppet Personality test. So, I figured, what the heck.

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgeable, you are the perfect sidekick.
You're always willing to lend a helping hand.
In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.
"15 seconds to showtime!"

Ok. That actually makes some sense.

Now, this didn't surprise me....

You Are Marge Simpson

You're a devoted family member who loves unconditionally.

Sometimes, though, you dream about living a wild secret life!

You will be remembered for: your good cooking and evading the police

Your life philosophy: "You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head."

When suffering from a very bad cold, or extreme hay fever, I can actually do her worrisome grumble quit well.

And since I don't have anything better to do today...

You Are a Beer Woman

You drink to have fun and let loose. Simple as that.
And you aren't picky about what you drink, though you can appreciate a quality brew.
Casual and down to earth, you can hang with the guys more easily than the girls.
You prefer to date a man who is manly, direct, and sure of what he wants.

Mmmhmm. Considering my best friend has been around since we were 13, and playing quarters was a favorite past time before we turned 21, this totally makes sense. I was speaking to him on the phone last night, and while we were catching up, I had the last two MGD's in my fridge. Some things never change, thankfully.

I really should go do something constructive now. Really.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summertime, and the living is easy.....

I love that song - great blues song. Find it on iTunes. You won't regret it

Summer has struck, all the signs are there. The temperature is rising. Racks of congratulatory cakes are out at Sam's Club. My allergies are still annoying. Plums not grown in South America are in the produce section. I'm not the only one wearing flip-flops. Children have that happy, "summer-break" look on their face. Parents have that "the kids are home for summer" look on their face. The surrounding hillsides are brown and looking ready to spontaneously combust. Oh, and we broke out the box fans.

As the end of the this month I celebrate yet another birthday, and the anniversary of something very special. I got my iPod last year for my birthday. Yes - my husband is amazing, and no - he has no brothers. What has changed in my life since this momentous occasion? Well, for one, I'm reading fewer books. I used to finish a book, on average, every 10 days. I think I have read 3-4 since last summer. Bad, very bad. Pod casts have replaced reading. Something else that has changed - I have been possessed by knitting and I have the stash to show for it. Who do I blame for this particular phenomenon? The sock yarn is the fault of Lime N Violet, aka, my crack dealers. These sirens of socky goodness turned me on to Liza Souza, The Loopy Ewe and Etsy to name just a few. There is the patron saint of knitting, Ms. Brenda Danye, that reestablished my faith is the rightness of knitting. Then there are the other pod casters out there that feed my knitting hunger. Thank you all. But, there is a dark side to this. My needlework has languished, hidden away and ignored like a red-headed step child. My scrap booking has had more attention, and that's not saying much.

In all things, a balance must be struck. I'll work on that. Soon.

So, this week wasn't a blow out. I didn't get that much done. I still am working on two pairs of socks, and I have another snuggle blanket in the works. I did finish three things though.

No. 1 - a seed stitch pillow cover which I have to sew up and stuff and no I don't have a picture of that yet since it really isn't done. (Now that is a bad sentence.) I used Lion Wool Ease in the color Wood. With the leftover's, I did No. 2.

No. 2 - a watchman's cap for the Ship's Project.

Ellen's Knit Hat

The pattern used was "Ellen's Knit Hat", which is a free pattern from Lion's website.

No. 3 - a square for Warm Up America

A Square

I am using Paton's Canadian for squares and snuggle blankets. I have way too much of this yarn, and figured this would be a good use for it. I am half way through another snuggle blanket and another square.

Last, but not least...

No. 4 - snuggle blanket for ARF.

Red Heart Snuggle Blanket

Made with one skein Red Heart Baby Soft in the color Key West. The finished size was 19.5" x 19.5" and was knit on size 6US needles ( I was nuts - it took for-ev-er). My charity basket is overflowing, and I need to ship stuff out this month.

I joined another blog this week - Save Cash! Use Your Stash! It's pretty cool. You calculate how much money you save by using your own stash to make something, instead of going out and buying more. The yarn I used for my completed projects this week came to $9.19. Not much, but it's a start.

I gave some attention to my Chevron scarf, which will need major blocking when it's done. I was 3/4ths of the way finished when I ripped it ALL out and started over with size 8US needles, instead of the recommended 5US. But, that's a story for when I am done. I am hoping this week.

I guess that's all for now. I'll talk with you soon!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Made My Day

I was reading a bit of Mama-E's blog, and came across a link that made my day:

Venka --


Sexually stunning

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Then I wanted to know what it said about my husband:

kevin --


A person of questionable sanity who starts their own cult

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Some of our friends might agree with that one.

Every time you put in a name, a different definition comes up. I'll stick with the first one I got. I put in the names of a few friends, and unfortunately Tammi is an alien, Chris is immortal (God help us all), Damon is Banshee-like and Tom is benevolent to a fault.

It was fun, go try it.

I also found this:
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Proof positive that I am truly unique!

Crafting for a Cause

Last month, I joined a group called Crafting for a Cause. The goal is to donate 3000 items to charity by the end of 2007. As of 5/30/07, 710 items have been donated.

I have a variety of items that I work on for charity. I have completed a number of chemo caps, but most recently I have been working on snuggle blankets for animal rescue charities. I had this 20+ year old acrylic yarn that at one point was going to be a cardigan for me. 1900 yards of bright, sunny yellow yarn. I still don't know what I was thinking when I bought that yarn. It must have been on sale.

The idea for these blankets came from the book Knitting For Peace. These are plain, garter stitch blankets that range in sizes from 11" x 11" to 28" x 28", and there are a total of 6 of them. When I was done, I had less than 5 yards of the lovely, yellow yarn. Yeah!

Here are the 6 blankets:

6 Charity Pet Blankets

I have been considering knitting afghan squares for Warm Up America. I participated in their Caps to Capital campaign earlier this year and donated 10 baby caps. I have a bunch of leftover yarn from 25+ years of projects, so knitting afghan squares would be a good way to get rid of a laundry hamper full of remnants. We'll see. I have about three afghans planned for charity knitting too.

I'm just happy that I don't have to knit yellow, plastic yarn anymore!