Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Curiously Clever Clogs Redux

Sorry for some of the cross posting from Crafster and Knitters Review forums. These are some of my more indepth observations and comments with regard to the pattern and my FO. If you don't have the pattern, a good bit of this isn't going to make sense:

More on the Curiously Clever Clogs. Here are a couple of finished shots of them:

Curiously Clever Clogs

Curiously Clever Clogs

Pattern: Curiously Clever Clogs by Stitch Diva

Yarn: (main body) 1 skein Patons Merino in Denim, (inner sole) 1 skein Cascade 220 off white, (outer sole) 1 skein Galway dark brown heathered

Needles: US size 13 Denise needles

Misc: clip on stitch markers, waste yarn, scissors, row counter

Time: 6 - 8 hours approximately

* IMHO, this pattern has a high fidget factor. I've been knitting for 20 plus years and have knit lace, fair isle, cables, etc. so I'm okay with fidgety patterns. That being said, the pattern is definitely worth fidgeting through. You will definitely feel more confident about short rows after knitting this pattern and the ktch and ptch stitches are so freaking clever. There is very little seaming which is an added bonus in my book.

* I flew through the sections of the main slipper body and inner sole. Where it gets fidgety is when you begin to attach the outer sole to the main slipper body. If I had been able to print it, I believe that the chart would have helped me with these directions but reading them on screen was just too hard for me. I also had a hard time envisioning how this pattern was constructed. There is a fair amount of written detail about it but I'm a very visual person and could not for the life of me figure out how the outer sole was attached to the main body (even though there are pictures of this too). It didn't help that my printer died and I couldn't print a hard copy of the pattern. After knitting the first slipper, I finally figured it out. Below are a few in progress pictures that explain some of the concepts that my poor brain couldn't grasp at the time.

Curiously Clever Clogs - attaching outer sole

Curiously Clever Clogs - Outer Sole attached

Curiously Clever Clogs - The flip side and the inner sole

Curiously Clever Clogs - Seaming the outer sole

Curiously Clever Clogs - inside out post seaming

Curiously Clever Clogs (with i-cord added) before and after felting

Needless to say, my first slipper is a lot more "special" than the second one. Unless I point out the issues though, you can't tell that its kinda twisted and wonky because felting concealed a number of the issues.

* I knit mine with a single strand of worsted weight yarn vs. the double strand that is recommended. Mostly because I didn't want to waste a ton of yarn on the first pair just in case they didn't turn out so good. I personally tend not to like hot feet and even single stranded, these babies are plenty warm and comfy. The sole is still nice and squishy (which is a value add that Stitch Diva promotes) and they're quite sturdy. I also didn't add the beads because I plan to needle felt designs on the tops of the slippers (though the beading is a very clever technique I plan to use on future clogs).

* I'd highly recommend that you knit a test slipper first (or don't be afraid to frog that first slipper) to get the hang of the ktch and ptch that you begin with the outer sole. It makes so much more sense to me now that I'm working on the second pair and I wish that I'd frogged the first slipper instead of plodding ahead.

* You can adjust the finished size by pulling them out of the wash sooner. After the first 8 - 10 minutes of felting, I could have easily blocked the clogs to fit my husband who wears a size 9.

* Use a row counter! There are several places where you go back and repeat certain rows and without a row counter, it can get very confusing.

* I would guess that you could get child sized clogs by knitting with DK weight yarn and using the same instructions for the regular clogs. I'm not sure that I'd try to adjust the pattern otherwise. Anyone else with the pattern have any suggestions?

I've cranking through these for holiday gifts and will post more on the needle felting once I decide what to put on each pair. The second pair that are pictured next to the first pair are made from Araucania Nature wool, Cascade 220 and Patons Merino. Can't wait to see how some of the others turn out. Best of luck!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Knitting while quarantined

We've been under a self imposed quarantine since last weekend. The stomach bug cooties invaded la casita de Muse, hitting King Thing first. He was out of commission for almost five days. I thought that we'd dodged the bullet but then Thing 2 got Montezuma's revenge on Tuesday. Needless to say, we decided that there was too big a risk of infecting our 80 something year old grandparents and decided to sit this Thanksgiving out holed up in SW VA. While my dreams of sitting back and letting Mom fix loads of coma inducing goodness were dashed, we did celebrate in our own slothlike way by holding the couches down with me knitting (more about this in a minute) and King Thing watching three endless days of college football. Oh yeah, we did absolutely nothing last week. I did cook a fitting Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us though we all ate in moderation, completely unsure of where Montezuma would strike next. I'm probably the only person on the planet who lost weight last week because I was afraid to eat. Thing 1 and I have (knock on wood) avoided having to pray to the porcelain. I continue to wipe the house down daily with disinfectant wipes and think seriously about living in a bubble until the wave of cooties ends in the Spring.

So today my house is empty, quiet and testosterone free for the first time in 10 days. Woot! Woot! As far as catching up, I've begun to set up a list of some of the hand remedies that you've suggested that I try on my sidebar. I'll gradually add links, etc. as I find them. I've got a few of them on order and will begin to review them as they come in. In the meantime, I'll review some of the hand creams that I'm currently using.

Now back to that Thanksgiving knitting. I finished my first pair of Curiously Clever Clogs by Stitch Diva.

Curiously Clever Clogs

These were my test knit pair to see if I liked the pattern. I think they turned out great even though the first one is a bit "special" and is slightly wonky. I decided to nix the beads in favor of needle felting designs on each pair (more to come of that very soon). I shoulda ripped it out after I figured out what I was doing with the second one. Alas, I was too bull headed and decided that I'd already invested way too much time to reknit it. The only other felted footwear that I've made are the Fuzzy Feet from Knitty. They were insanely easy. These are very fidgety. I'm going to blither about these in a separate post so I don't drone on forever in this one. I love the pattern and it is well written but for visual people like me, I needed more in progress pictures so I could understand what I was doing. Maybe the turkey clouded my head. Maybe I'm just a f**ktard. Now that I've figured out what the pattern is telling me to do, I'll be making several pairs as Christmas gifts this year. Just so you can see how huge these are before you felt them, here's a shot of the pair I finished knitting for my number my Grandma next to the first pair. Dayum!

Curiously Clever Clogs before and after felting

I've got tons o' crap to update ya'll on - birthday knits, FOs, test knitters wanted, patterns coming - but don't want this post to get too long. I'll probably post quite a bit this week as I won't be around next week (out of town working again).

If you've got a minute today, go give my knit bud Heaz aka Pixiestikz a big birthday shout out. She has brightened my life in many wondrous ways. H, your friendship rescued me from some seriously loneliness. For that, I will always be grateful :) Have an awesome day filled with lots of buttercream and love!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sorry, love no time for bloggin'

You may or may not recall that I am a huge techno geek and yet, I've refused to buy an iPod. I don't do Apple, never have, never will. All you iPod junkies, don't even bother to try to convince me of all the wonders of the iPod. Its like trying to convince a diehard Republican to vote Democrat or vice versa.

My new baby (thanks to King Thing and the boys) and final birthday prezzie is this dookie brown Zune from Microsoft, of course.

Been loading music and videos on this baby as fast as I can since I ripped her from the box. Can you guess what music went on first?

Anyhoo, I know I owe y'all some goodies, some knitting and much more but I've got many years of techno repression to catch up on and just a smidge of time to do it in. I wish I could blame all of my lateness on the Zune but most of it is work related. And in the last 24 hours, I may have inherited an exchange student for the month of January. And there's this crazy Thanksgiving thing coming up next week and holiday knitting. Needless to say I'm (happily) thrashing.

I am compiling your dry hand solutions and will post on that soon though not before Tuesday because I'll be out of town again until then. I have wonderful birthday goodies to share thanks to your suggestions and by Tuesday, I should have a FO or two using the fiber I purchased. I decided that I loved all of your ideas so much that I'm going to send all of you assorted chocolatey goodness from the newly opened Chocolate Paper. Send me your addy by email (and I know who the 13 of you are so please be honest) and I'll get the goodies out to you sometime between now and after Thanksgiving. Thanks again for helping me celebrate well over a month of birthday goodness. I've got a chick weekend planned with three wild crazy Costa Rican women. What have I gotten myself into?

BTW - for those of you in the Roanoke area, AC Moore is clearing out seemingly all of the KFI distributed yarns (Araucania, Alpaka, Cashmere, etc.) for great prices (30 - 50% off). Get it before its gone (there's not much left thanks to my crazy buying frenzy this morning)!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Helping Hands

I'll warn you, I have a hand theme today so work with me and yes, this does have something to do with knitting.

First, thank you (hear my hands clapping for you) to my fellow Americans and specifically my Virginian peeps for rocking the vote yesterday. We were not content to sit on our hands and instead braved the weather and long lines to exercise our privilege to vote. Now, promise me you'll do the same in 2008. Pulleeezzzeee?!?!?!

On any given Fall or Winter day, here's where you will find my hands when not clenched on some knitting needles.

Yes, they're firmly wrapped around my favorite mug that is filled with something so close to scalding hot that my lips usually recoil before I even turn the cup up. These days, its tea which is not my beverage of choice but I'm trying to cut down on my coffee intake because I am way too addicted to it. Tea does not make me exceedingly happy but it will have to do.

Observe the stubby dry nails that have become brittle from the cold. Note the sad grey color of my hands. My fam calls this "ashy" which means that loads of lotion, cream, moisturizer, cocoa butter, etc. are in constant need from October - May. Couple this challenge with wool yarn that sucks the moisture out of your body if you venture near it and what you have is seven months of dry hand misery. Now I know that I'm not the only one whose hands suffer when the weather gets cold. And yet, every year, I go through gallons of different lotions that claim to cure dry hands only to be disappointed time and again with their performance.

Here's where you can lend me and your fellow knitters a helping hand.

Send me a review of your favorite hand lotion/moisturizer either by email at indigomuse at verizon dot net or in the comments. In your review, please include the full name of the product, how much you paid for it, where you bought it and why you would recommend it to your fellow fiber fiends. I'll randomly select a different one each week for my own personal review (and your input too if you've tried the product)which I'll post here on my blog. We'll do some voting and a drawing in a couple of months for some post holiday prezzies.

I'll start this coming Monday. I can't wait to hear what y'all are using. I'm willing to try almost anything at this point.

My hands were busy working on the Double Top Secret Project last night while the election results sllloooowwwwllyy came in. It's almost finished. Sorry I can't show you more but I can tell you that I love how its turning out.

What I will show you are the latest additions I made this summer to my knitted friends collection. These pink cuties are modified Thrifty Critters.

Thrifty Critters with Mods

Body - 1/2 skein (about 35 yds) per critter of Moda Dea Cartwheel in Raspberries and Neopolitan
Eyes - tiny bits of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and Blue Moon Roving
Needles - Clover bamboo double points size 4
Time - not sure but probably 2 - 3 hours for both including detail work

Finished size
6" tall

I decided that mine needed legs and arms the same length though they have a varied number of fingers and toes. Since I don't crochet, I made a 6 stitch bobble for the eyes and embroidered the pupils using Blue Moon roving. The hair is also roving and I gave them each a braided rattail. To stuff the body, I crammed fiberfil into a stocking leg and then crammed that into the body cavity. I then filled their bums with rice so they'd sit up on their own before securing the stocking and cinching up the last few stitches.

This pattern was fun to knit, a tad fidgety but then again its on double points and a great way to use up bits of yarn. The cartwheel yarn feels great but because of its thick and thin nature, its hard to get a consistent gauge when knitting with it which is why I went down so many needle sizes. I'm thinking about making some with elf hats to give as Christmas gifts. They sit so nicely on the mantle that they're begging to hold a stocking.

One final hand note. There is this naughty bit that I had to share - The Ketchup Effect. I don't know what the movie is about but this clip is too funny for words. Don't watch it with the kiddies in the room. Enjoy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Musings

Nothing like starting the day with some retail therapy at The Fresh Market right as they open on a Monday. The shelves are stocked with fresh goodies, samples abound, peaceful music lilts through the store and the best part of all - very few shoppers. I return to my desk, refreshed, relaxed and ready to start the work week.

Many thanks for your kind birthday wishes. It has truly been a wondrous celebration. If my friends both real and virtual are any indication, then 37 is going be a VERY good year for me. Plus, predicts that the next year is going to be fab for Scorpios. I'm feeling the astrological love in a major way. Tonight is the finale with dinner for four at a friend's new abode. I'm looking forward to lots of laughs and the warmth of friendship.

As far as your entries in my mini-birthday contest, I'm having a hard time choosing from them because they're all so good. I did buy small prezzie - a pattern at Stitch Diva to make these cuties

cause I have more stash yarn than I know what to do with and I need to get cracking on holiday gifties. I'll be doing a quickie yarn crawl as I trek from one end of the state and back (for work) later this week. With your suggestions in hand as a "shopping list", I'll make some purchases and post the winners on Monday. I can't wait!

I'm almost finished with the double top secret knitting project (and cast on for another one to celebrate) and am very pleased with how this one knit up. I might flash you a peek when I'm finished. I found myself without my double points that I needed to finish a critical piece of it. I was sad, very sad.

Sad Muse when she's without her needles
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.

I always look forward to four hours of knitting time in the car and really wanted to finish this piece during that time. Suddenly, I recalled reading last week about double knitting in the latest issue of Knitty. I laughed to myself about how pigs would fly before I would try something like that. Well, let me tell you, there must have been some swine soaring over the skies of Virginia last night. Because I never planned to use the technique, I honestly didn't pay close attention to the article. But somehow, I remembered the basics and in no time was double knitting a circular tube without double points with much success.

I came, I saw, I DKed
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.

Now for those of you who know how to do this already, you'll laugh at me for not having tried this technique sooner. But for those who haven't, its so simple, so magical, so damned easy, a caveman could do it - LOL! Needless to say, I had to smurk the entire way home.

A slight non-fiber related rant for my fiber kindred in the US: Help me prove the political pundits wrong on Tuesday. Get off your arse and VOTE! I'm not going to tell you who you should vote for nor will you see me spout off about politics in general, but nothing makes me sadder than to hear that the expectation is that 2/3 of Americans will stay home tomorrow. Come on people, women in particular. Our ancestors worked too hard - and yes, many of them died - so that you and I would have the right to vote. Don't squander that beautiful gift. Your vote DOES count!