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December 2006 Archive

Ancestors and Auroras

Posted on December 15, 2006 at 10:24 am, by knitwit
in Category Fun Stuff, Life

Sometimes, very rarely, I'm lucky enough to have a day that turns out to be truly spectacular.  Yesterday was one of those days for me.

My mom is a budding geneology junkie.  She also does not own…hold on to your pants….a computer *gasp*!
So whenever she wants to look something up on the internet she calls me.  Yesterday, she called to tell me that this website was having a free trial that allowed access to Ellis Island records, and would I hop on and look for some relatives.  I did, of course, and we decided to look for my Great Grandmother, Elise (or Elisa pronunciation and/or spelling changed after she came here).  We knew she immigrated from Germany, but had no idea when or if she came through Ellis Island.  Oddly enough, on my first hit, I found her!  It was amazing!  On the site, I was able to view a scanned image of the original ship's manifest.  Mom and I knew for certain it was her, because the manifest indicated she was traveling to a particular town (where my mom's family is from) in Iowa to meet her uncle Christian.  It was so awesome to just do a blind search having no real information except her name and to find a record of her.  My Great Grandma Elise must have been an amazing woman, to travel alone across an ocean in 1899 at the age of 22.  My mom and I laughed about how that adventurous spirit did NOT get handed down to either of us as we both can barely drive around the block without having an anxiety attack!  I'm sure many people are able to trace much farther back in their families than this but I know very little about my family.  So this was exciting for me. 

I was still feeling pretty excited by the whole experience when B came home from work.  He ran in the house to tell me that on the way home, he was able to see the aurora borealis.  He had picked up some sandwiches from Quiznos on the way home (what a guy) and we grabbed our food and jumped in the car.  One of the few benefits of living in  a small town is you are only about 30 seconds away from being in the country.  So we drove out on a gravel road (heh, heh, long time since I'd done that) and parked and watched the auroras shimmer and fade across the clear northern sky.  This is a rare occurance when you  live in South Dakota and last night was pretty impressive.  We only saw colors once, a spectacular band of green across the sky that lasted for a few seconds and was gone.  Otherwise there was a wide band of pale white light shimmering in curtains and rays across the horizon.  It was the first time I'd seen anything like it since I was a kid, and my Mom had done the same thing:  thrown me in the car and bombed out to the country to sit on the side of the road and watch the Northern Lights. 

All in all, a pretty wicked cool day for me.  And man have I needed it!

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KnitWit Before Christmas

Posted on December 10, 2006 at 11:44 am, by knitwit
in Category Fun Stuff, Knitting

T'was the Knit Before Christmas
And all through the house,
Every creature was worried,
Even the mouse!

The Knitter was was knitting
Christmas gifts with much care,
If you got in her way,
Non-knitter, Beware!

"Mom needs a sweater,
and Sis needs a hat,
Hubby wants slippers,
Can I finish all that?"

Her needles were flying
Make no mistake,
But she underestimated
How long it would take.

As the big day grew closer,
Her heart, it did swoon,
"I should have started knitting
clear back in last June!"


To be continued……


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Red Cardi: The details

Posted on December 10, 2006 at 11:03 am, by knitwit
in Category Knitting, Sweaters

Ok, I thought I would share with you the details on how I finished my Red Ribbed Cardi.

cardi in the round

Once all the knitting was done, and all the end woven in, I washed and blocked the sweater.  Be sure to do this before you prepare for cutting the steek.  If your sweater shrinks up or stretches during blocking, you could have a problem if you had already sewn along your steek stitches.

I then basted down the center of my steek with some contrasting colored yarn:

basting down steek

I used a 6 stitch steek, so I basted through the ladders between the 3rd and 4th stitches. 


I then hand sewed on either side of my basting with matching sewing thread.  Using a back stitch, I sewed 2 rows on either side of the basting, each row a half of a stitch apart.  I sewed my steek by hand because I just could not figure out how to send that sweater through the sewing machine.  I know a lot of tutorials say to machine sew, but I have not been able to figure out how to send a tube of fabric through a sewing machine and have things come out straight.  So I just sewed by hand.  It took a bit of patience, but I then had control over where every stitch went and didn't have to worry about the stitches being too tight.

Then I began cutting:

cutting steek

This is the part everyone is afraid of, but if you've sewn your steek you have nothing to worry about.  My stitches had gotten a bit fuzzy during washing and held beautifully when I cut the steek.  Nothing frayed or tried to slip out of the hand sewing or anything. 

cutting completed

Just cut slowly right along your basting, cutting one ladder at a time.  No problem.

Then, using my matching thread again, I folded back the steek stitches and sewed them to the inside of the sweater body.  This will act as facing for the zipper.  I could have machine sewn the facing here, but I didn't want my stitches to go all the way through to the front side (public side) of the sweater.  I used a whip stitch to sew the facing to the back of the stitches on the inside (non-public side) of the sweater.  It's very secure and non of my sewing shows through.

sewing down facing

The zipper was a bit trickier.  I had a difficult time finding a zipper to begin with.  I went to every fabric store and hobby store in my area and could not find seperating zippers in anything but black, green, brown, or white.  I looked for a 2 way zipper, but could only find them in very long lengths 26"-36"  My sweater is 22" from collar to hem.  I didn't want to have the zipper run all the way up the mock turtleneck collar so I just opted for a black zipper that was a bit short.  I found a tutorial for sewing shortening a zipper, here, but I was afraid that the zipper head would come off when you zipped up the sweater.  That's just my luck.

I sewed the zipper to the facing stitches (my sewing does not go all the way through to the front, but just though the facing stitches).  I tried to use small even stitches (easier said than done) and sew near the teeth of the zipper.

sewing in zipper

And here's how it turned out:

finished cardi

Side view of ribbing:

cardi side view

All zipped up:

zipped up

And it even matches my sweater style slippers!

goes w/my slippers!

All in all, I'm really pleased with how the sweater turned out.  It was the first time I had used a steek for a cardigan, and the first time I'd sewn a zipper into anything!  I learned a lot and will definitely do this again.  I'll know what to expect next time.  I think the next time I will add some of Elizabeth Zimmermman's applied I-cord to the body of the sweater on either side of the zipper.  Just to give it a little finishing touch.  I saw a beautiful example of this on the Zimmermania blog.  It just makes a beautiful finished edge and covers the zipper up nicely.  I'll try it next time.

added later:  I decided to change the name of this cardi to just plain Red Cardi to try to avoid some nasty spam that keeps coming up as a comment for these posts that I think may be related to the word rib-bing.  We'll see if this helps….

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Red Cardi: How do I love Thee

Posted on December 1, 2006 at 8:13 pm, by knitwit
in Category Knitting, Sweaters

Let me count the ways….


hubby and me


cardi front


cardi back

added later:  I have decided to try to change the title of this and the subsequent posts to avoid some nasty spam that always pops up as a comment for these entries. 

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Just a Bin Full of Woolease Helps the Feng Shui Go Down

Posted on December 1, 2006 at 7:52 pm, by knitwit
in Category Fun Stuff, Knitting, Life

My office/knitting room is a thing of beauty to me.  Seriously.  I love this room in our house.  It's warm and inviting and a lot of hard work went into making it so.  Don't believe me?

THIS is what it looked like before it was my knitting room:

pink nightmare!

Now I am not the parent of a teenager, and I do believe that parents should allow their kids to express their creativity, but dude, seriously,

pink nightmare part 2

my mom walked in the room and thought she was going to have a seizure.  It was the most hideous shade of pink, I can't even describe it.  And it's not so much that the room was pink, but EVERYTHING was pink!  THe ceiling (with blue glow in the dark painted stars!), the ceiling molding, the baseboards, parts of the carpet, even the light fixture was pink!

pink light

And there was pink paint splatters all over everything that wasn't painted pink!  I don't think we'd lived in the house for a week before I was off to the homestore to buy primer and check out paint chips. 

We spent literally the next year working on this room. 

pink room painting

Three coats of primer and 3 coats of paint later, at least the walls were better.  But we still had to strip the woodwork (a nasty job in January) and stain it; and while we were at it, we pulled up the carpet and refinished the wood floor beneath.  Ask Brad, it was enough to put us off any home improvement projects for a lifetime.  He shudders when we walk by the paint aisle in the home store and I pause at the paint chips.  No more painting for that guy!

But now, the room is so loverly….

Or so I thought. 

It's warm and inviting and all that jazz, but last night, as I was putting aside the swatch cap I had started (for EZ's aran cardi from this book)  I realized the pithy little TV tray I call an end table just couldn't take it anymore.  Not one more thing would fit, not one more knitting needle or swatch or ball of yarn! 

I awoke this morning with a feeling that the world was a bit off kilter.  Like my Feng had lost it's Shui.  And I knew it was because I have no work space.  For all the hard work I had put into my knitting room, I had no table upon which to disperse my knitting books and notebooks, my charts and graph paper, my needles and sewing notions and every other necessary item a prolific knitter needs.  I decided I would not rest, nor eat, nor shower, nor change out of my PJ's until this imbalance had been resolved. 

I set about dividing my UFO's into piles with the necessary yarn for completion.  No small task in itself.  I cleaned the room from top to bottom.  And found my desk!


I moved an entire dresser/secretary (I'd never seen one of these before B's aunt gave us one, it looks just like a regular chest of drawers, about 4ft high, but one of the drawers has a drop front which opens to make a desk and their are little cubbys in the "drawer" like in a roll top desk, very cool but was taking up too much space, though the rest of the drawers {write that word a few times and tell me it doesn't look weird} were really deep and good for storing yarn, but I digress) to our other spare room, and then set about in search of a table of some sort. 

Every house should have a spare end table right?  An old coffee table you don't use anymore?  Not this house.  I did find a small table on which to put my TV. It had been on top of the dresser/secretary deal, but it was hiding all the pictures on my wall.

TV and Sally

This is much better.  But still no work table. 

I spent the entire day dragging furniture around and analyzing every end table in our house to see what I could possibly scavange for my room, and this is what I ended up with….


A bin full of old Woolease and my sad little TV tray. 

But I did manage to get my bookshelf with my knitting books moved over by my chair and all of my UFO's organized and all is within reach of where I do my sittin' an' knittin'. 

So my Feng is feelin a bit more Shui but I think a trip to the furniture store is in order.


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