Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now that Upstream and Avonlea are done...

...and out of my hands...
I spent yesterday writing up another design proposal.  I finished this baby blanket back in September, but forgot to submit it for consideration...probably because I gave it to my niece right away.
 The name is "Evellyn Anne", after the recipient of the blanket.  I'll never forget the way she grabbed it and laid claim to it, before her mom (my sister) could say a word!
So I sent the design proposal to Knit Picks yesterday.  I explained that the reason I did stripes was because I didn't have enough of either yarn to make the whole blanket, and that I think it would look better in one solid color.  I hope they like it.  I think it has a good chance; there aren't a lot of patterns out there for lacy baby blankets knit in-the-round.

Monday, November 29, 2010


It's been a few days.  I've been really busy since my last post, and have hardly had any sit-down time at all.  Consequently, I haven't done much knitting.  I started yesterday on a test-knit for a friend, but have only gotten about one inch done so far. (Sorry, Sincero.  I'll focus on it more, and get it done.♥)

Anyway, I've been cleaning, organizing, decluttering, moving furniture, and putting up Christmas decorations.  Hubby and I have decided to rearrange some of the rooms in our house.  What has been the "living room" for the past three years, but not had much "living" done in it, is not going to be the "living room" anymore.  The "family room" has almost no furniture in it, and what is there is delapidated and old.  We're planning on getting some new furniture soon, probably right after we get our new floors(which has been postponed until after New Years).  But in the meantime, I'm moving furniture around, to make better use of the space.  I made the mistake of lifting with my back while moving an incredibly heavy piece of furniture on Saturday.  But I was alright after a few hot salt baths and a bunch of Advil.  I kept working, despite the pain, remembering that my back hurts less when I'm using it, and it actually helped.  So, now the front room is mostly clean, and the Christmas tree and Nativity scene are up.  The family room still needs a lot of work...there are currently two overflowing baskets full of clean laundry on the floor, and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff scattered around.  I swear, I want to just chuck most of the STUFF we have.  We have way too much, especially compared with people around the world who have so little.  Of course, when I say "chuck" I don't mean throw away, I mean give away whatever is worth giving.  But a lot of it is just junk that isn't even worth donating anywhere.

Anyway, that's why I haven't written anything over the weekend.  I was busy.  Busy like crazy. ☺ Maybe things'll settle down somewhat...haha, who am I kidding?  It's going to get crazier!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I was inspired by a friend of mine to post a real and honest list of what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving.  I could post the typical, sappy I'm-thankful-for-everything list, but to tell the truth, this year I'm just feeling a bit off.  Can't figure out why exactly; things are going well in general.  But I'm just not in the mood for the Norman-Rockwell-painting, everything-is-perfect fakeness.  So here's my honest, real, half-serious, half-humorous, all-true list, in no particular order:

I am thankful for my dishwasher; I grew up without one and I was the dish washer(or dryer, some days).  And being part of a big family, there were a lot of dishes to be washed.  So I'm thankful that most of my dishes can go straight in the dishwasher, and all I have to do is load and unload.

I am thankful for my library; I love to read, and have since I learned at 3 years of age.  I wish I had wall-to-wall bookshelves all throughout my house, and could afford to fill them with books...lots and lots and lots of books. (None of this silly e-reader stuff, but actual books, with actual pages)  But I don't, and I can't.  So I'm thankful that my city has an expansive library system, and I can request almost any book that I'd ever care to read.  Currently, my book bag is filled with knitting books(big surprise, that, I know).

I am thankful for my washer and dryer; yeah, I know this one kind of goes along with the dishwasher one, except that we did have laundry machines when I was a kid.  I would just hate to have to do all that laundry by hand.  On the same note, I'm thankful that I have a dry-cleaner just down the street a bit, so I don't have to do all the ironing; I just drop it off and pick it up.

I am thankful for yarn; it calms me like nothing else.  There's just something so relaxing about the repetitive, mindless motion of drawing loops through loops.  And there's something so satisfying about conquering a challenging design, or mastering a new technique.

I am thankful that my state is homeschooling-friendly, and doesn't over-burden parents with requirements.  I admit, there are days when I wish I could send my children away all day, but I can't, because I don't trust the government school system.  So I am thankful that I have the option to homeschool, and to teach my children the important things that the schools let fall by the wayside, and ignore the junk that the schools seem to think is so important when it really isn't.

I am thankful that God gave me a creative mind; I love to make things, and be creative.  I'm not as good with words as some of my friends are, but I am able to express myself through my arts: knitting, sewing, building, etc.

I am thankful that I live in the USofA, where I have freedom.  Granted, the government is always trying to encroach on our freedoms, but that's a subject for another day.  We have the freedom to worship God, or to worship whatever or whomever else we want; it's so easy to take that freedom for granted, and forget that in a lot of the world, it isn't that way.  We have the freedom to protect ourselves and our families.  We have the freedom to speak our minds, even if what we say is stupid and makes no sense(I won't name any names).  We have so many freedoms.  Let's protect those freedoms, so we don't lose them.

I am thankful for my family; even though they drive me crazy a lof of the time, I'd be awfully lonely without them.

I am thankful for the internet; so much information, just a few keystrokes away.  Most of my friends are internet friends, and the ones that I know in person, I keep in contact with online as well.  Specifically, I am thankful for the Bunker, and the BunkerBabes (and the one BunkerDude).  They have been my lifeline to sanity the past two years. ♥ you all, Babes(and Dude)!  Along the same lines, I'm thankful for Facebook, which has allowed me to re-connect with old friends, and stay in close contact with my parents and siblings, even though we live almost a thousand miles apart.

I am thankful for my refrigerator, which should be able to hold all the Thanksgiving leftovers.  Because we like to have a lot of leftovers.

I am thankful that my husband has a good job and is able to provide for our family, so I have the option to stay home and raise our children.  Even though said children drive me nuts.

I am thankful that God loves me, and always forgives my shortcomings(a nicer word that means the same thing as "sins).  I am thankful that He never gives up on me, no matter how many times or how badly I screw up.

I am thankful that my oldest daughter knows how to cook simple foods, and is capable of making lunch, so I don't have to.  Speaking of which, I need to get her to start on that.

So I'll just stop here for now. ☺ For what are you thankful this Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Avonlea is on its way!

I've finished my Avonlea scarf and pattern, and both are on their way to Knit Picks today!  I did a photo shoot(photographer: Angel) on Saturday, which didn't go exactly as I'd planned, but turned out alright.  I had planned to wear a terrific dark green silk blouse, which would have looked awesome and Christmassy with the red scarf, but I could barely get it buttoned, and it showed every bump and bulge, so that one went back into the closet, on the lower bar with the other clothes that are just a little bit too small and will fit when I lose about 10 pounds.  Then I had to take a look at my other clothes and find something that would work.  I realized my super-easy, casual wardrobe, while being perfect for my homebody lifestyle, isn't right for modeling.  Even though it's only modeling my own designs.  Most of my nicer tops are red or pink, because those are great colors for me, but they wouldn't work with the red scarf.  I would have picked navy blue, but I only have that in t-shirts.  So I went with this gray-green, slightly-nicer-than-a-tshirt knit top.  I think it worked well enough.
 That first one is my favorite, since I cropped out my backside, and I don't look quite as chunky as I do in the following pic.

 And of course, here's the pic of the scarf being modeled by someone much more photogenic than myself: my deck.  Haha.  Just kidding.  Kinda.  I think the deck makes an awesome background for pictures; it's interesting without being distracting.  Once I get the deck stained, it'll be even better, I think.
Anyway, this scarf is headed to Vancouver today, after we have our geography lesson.  We're learning about Alaska, and watching "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is part of it.  ☺ I love homeschooling!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to read a knitting chart

I'm a very visual knitter, and I love charts.  As a matter of fact, unless it's very simple, I can't follow instructions for cables or lace without a chart.  I need to be able to see the design in black and white, and then I can knit it easily.
But I realize this isn't the case for everyone.  Some of my friends work better from instructions, and aren't sure how to make heads or tails of charts.  So I thought I'd do a little tutorial, for any of my readers who would like to work from charts, but don't know how.
First of all, knitting charts are read from right to left, and from bottom to top, because that's how we knit.  I'm using the chart from my most popular pattern "Laura" as an example.  You'll notice the row numbers on the right side of the chart, and that they are only odd numbers.  The reason for this is that the even numbered rows are the wrong-side rows, and they are meant to be simply purled across(which is stated in the pattern).  Each box in the chart is one stitch.  The key is important, so that you understand which symbols mean which kind of stitches.
So, looking at Row 1, which is the bottom row, reading from right to left, there are four empty boxes, which are knit stitches. Then you see an o, which is a yarnover, then a left-leaning \, which is a slip,slip,knit decrease.  Then there are four more knit stitches, before you come to the bold vertical line.  The vertical line denotes the pattern repeat.  So you will repeat what is between those bold vertical lines for as many times as the pattern tells you to.  Okay then, inside those bold verticals, still on Row 1, you have two knit stitches, a yarnover, a slip,slip,knit and four more knit stitches.  This sequence would be repeated until you come to the last seven stitches. Then you would finish out the rest of Row 1, with two knits, a yarnover and ssk, and three more knits.  With the first row completed, you would purl row two, before going on to the next row in the chart.  You just work one row at a time, using whatever method you like to keep track of which row you're on.  Just a quick look at Row 3, still reading from right to left: knit 2, k2tog, yarnover, knit 1, yarnover, ssk, knit three..then the repeating part: k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3...then the last bit when you're down to the last seven stitches: k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k2. Row 4 would be purled, then on to Row 5...
Now, when you come to Row 7, you'll see that those bold vertical lines shift to the left by one stitch.  The reason is that it's easier to read the lace motifs, if they aren't split.  If the line went straight up, it would split the yarnover and ssk in row 9.  It wouldn't have any effect on your knitted piece; it's just for readability's sake.  Really all you need to remember is that what's between those bold lines is what you repeat.
I hope this makes sense; if anything is unclear, please leave a comment, and I'll do my best to clarify.  For the whole pattern for "Laura", go here: http://christineolsonoriginals.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-first-pattern-laura.html

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Woohoo!  Knit Picks likes my Avonlea Scarf design!  I am shocked, because it's such a simple design.  But I'm thrilled, because they like it! *doing the happy dance around the family room*  So now I need to get the scarf finished and write up the pattern!  I'm nearly done with the scarf, though I have hardly started on the pattern.  So I'll cut this post short, and get to work! Hooray!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How To Recycle a Sweater

I like to recycle sweaters.  Not just for the sake of being "green", but for the sake of being frugal.  I can find nice big cotton sweaters for $3 at my local thrift shop, and get a whole lot of yarn from taking them apart.  Recently, I've had several friends ask me about the process, so I decided to do a little tutorial about it, in case anyone else is interested.
So, first of all, a few general pointers...when choosing a sweater to recycle:
the bigger, the better
stick with solid color sweaters(stripes and other colorwork are a pain to unravel)
check the seams; if they're serged seams, skip it(I'll explain in a minute)
I usually only use cotton sweaters for this, because of wool's tendency toward felting
And now, on to the tutorial!  Here's the sweater I chose: an Eddie Bauer, men's size large, 100% cotton, cream-colored ribbed sweater.  I washed and dried it before beginning to take it apart.
 Okay, I know this next one isn't a great picture; my camera wouldn't cooperate on such a close-up...but this is me checking the seams.  If you aren't sure what the difference between a serged seam and a simple, stitched seam is, go look at a basic t-shirt.  T-shirts are generally made by cutting and sewing knitted fabric.  To keep the edges from fraying, they're stitched with a serger, a machine that cuts the fabric close, and stitches over and over the edge.  If you attempt to take apart a sweater with serged seams, you'll end up with lots of short bits of yarn, not long enough to use for anything.  Trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way.
 Now then, on we go: the seams on this sweater are perfect.  Most commercially-made sweaters are not seamed using mattress stitch.  Which is a good thing when you want to take them apart.  The seams on this sweater are done like a crochet chain.  So you just need to find the end of the seam that was the finishing end, undo the knot, and pull.  The sweater will magically(or it seems so) come apart at the seams!
 Here are all the pieces.  Except the little bit of ribbing from the neck opening; I decided that tiny bit of yarn wasn't worth the effort.
Now that the pieces are taken apart, it's time to begin unraveling.  I picked a sleeve for the first bit.  I didn't take a picture, but I think y'all can figure out how to undo the bindoff edge and pull the yarn.  I wound mine  around a chair back as I unraveled it, so that I could measure it as I went.  This chair is 38 inches around the back, and the yarn from the sleeve went around it 495 times, so...495x38 divided by 36 gives me my yardage: 522.5 yards of fingering-weight cotton, from one sleeve!
 After it's wound around the chair and measured, I wind it with my ball-winder.  You could wind it into a traditional ball if you prefer that, but I like center-pull balls better.
 And here's the finished ball of yarn!  Now you just do the same with the other sections of the sweater!
I like to store my recycled yarn in ziploc bags; I can write on the outside what the fiber content is and how much yarn it is, in case I forget between winding the yarn and using it.
If anything is unclear, or you have any questions, please comment, and I'll try to answer them!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Got a pic!

I was finally able to get some good pictures for my Upstream pattern!  This one is my favorite.
I've come to the conclusion that I almost like the way I look when I'm wearing makeup.  I think I'll continue wearing it. ☺ I've been so busy lately, being "Mommy", that I've forgotten to be myself.  I've lost my separate identity.  Or at least the appearance of my separate identity.  If I'm going to be modeling my own designs, I need to work on that.  I'm tired of looking like "Mommy".  I said that I almost like the way I look...I need to lose some weight and get fit, then I'll like it more.  I'm about 60 pounds heavier than I was at my most confident.  I'd be happy with losing 50 pounds, because it's not likely at my age that I'd lose all 60.  I exercised yesterday and can hardly move today; my hips are killing me.  I feel about 20 years older than I am.  I'll be 30 in less than a month.  I should not be unable to move a day after exercising.

So.  This picture is not only my pattern picture for Upstream...it's my "before" picture.  I'm going to start exercising regularly, and cut back on the fatty foods and soda and alcohol.  I want to lose 50 pounds.  By April, if possible.  Yeah...we'll see how that goes.  Wish me luck...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cabling, cabling, cabling...

I've finally finished my Upstream scarf!  Now I just need to get the pattern finished and send it and the scarf off to Knit Picks.  I hope they accept this pattern too!
 I tried to get some good pictures of myself modeling the scarf, but I didn't end up with any that I really liked.  So I basically wasted an hour, putting on makeup and fixing my hair, then another hour taking pictures.  Oh well.  Hopefully, Knit Picks photographers and models will have better luck.
And now I'm off and running on the next design...
This is my Avonlea scarf, and I just sent the design proposal to Knit Picks on Monday.  I hope they like it!  I might not hear back about it for a couple weeks; they're a bit backlogged on patterns, from what they told me before publishing my second pattern last week.  Anyway, I'm using Knit Picks Capra yarn in "Scarlet" that I got from a friend in a swap. ☺ I am in love with this yarn!  I want to design a bunch more patterns using it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

My latest pattern is up!

"A Girl's Best Friend" is finally available on Knit Picks!  The download is $1.99, and I highly recommend Knit Picks yarns. ☺

Here's the pattern link: http://www.knitpicks.com/patterns/A_Girls_Best_Friend_Fingerless_Mitts__D10656220.html

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hey, politicians, can you hear us now???

I stayed up really really late last night, technically really really early this morning, but whatever.  I was watching election returns, naturally.  I know, I don't talk about politics much, but that's not from a lack of interest or a lack of knowledge.  I am very interested in politics, and make a point to educate myself on the issues.  I spent several days googling all the candidates on my local ballot, to make sure I voted my conscience.  In the past, I would have just voted a straight party ticket, all the while wishing I knew who the heck these people were and whether they deserved my vote.  This year, I decided I wasn't going to do that any more.  It's too important to leave to chance.
All that said, I am THRILLED with the results of the elections!  Yes, a few races were disappointing, including several I really thought would turn out well.  But in general, the "good guys" prevailed, and I am happy.  I'm wearing red today, to celebrate.
And now the hard work begins.  We need to make pests of ourselves, never letting our representatives forget that they work for us.  We hired them and we can fire them.  They need to keep their focus, and not sit down and whine about how bad things are.  Yes, things are bad all over, but now it's time to get to work fixing them!  I have a list of things I want congress to do, but it's not like they read my blog, so I'll just leave it at that, for here.  I'll be contacting them directly, often.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I said something about getting more pumpkins, didn't I?

Well, the girls begged again....and I really did want to get more pumpkins anyway.....so I let them each pick one.  Kitty picked a tiny one, and Angel and Princess kept picking different ones, both trying to get the "biggest".  Finally I told them to just pick, and it turned out that Princess's was the biggest.
 I cut them all in half, and let the girls scoop out the seeds themselves, which they enjoyed, for the most part.
 We ended up with less pumpkin, about 5 cups...
 And more seeds; this is only half...
We took a bunch more pictures, but I'm going to have Angel blog about the whole project in the next few days, and she doesn't like it when I blog something before her....so don't tell her.  And check her blog soon to see her "How To" post about roasting pumpkins. ☺
And just a reminder: Get out there and vote! Unless you're a democrat.  Y'all already screwed things up royally.