Sunday, February 25, 2007

Latest Version of Not a Poncho

This is my latest attempt at doing Not a Poncho (Jane Thornley Knitalong). I like this version a lot better. I'm still getting used to doing color knitting, so my tension isn't all that great, but I'm very pleased with it so far. This is what I was going for!

Right now it measures 10 1/2 inches long and 14 inches wide. I'm not as far as everyone else, but that's okay!!! I started late and had multiple false starts . . . hey, sounds like an artistic reflection of my life in general, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Quit Lying to Myself

All right. This has to stop. This lying to myself. I am 5'3" tall and now officially 151.6 lbs according to the Weight Watchers scale. By all accounts, by all measurements, that is FAT. Even the jeans and long tops I wear can't cover it up. I am fat. I am bursting out of my size 12 jeans. I feel uncomfortable.

Dieting is not a whimiscal hobby that I can take up and put away when it's convenient. I can't afford to do that anymore. The lie: I watch my weight. The truth: I watch it go UP but I'm not really taking the steps needed to get it down to a healthy level. And the fact it, I'm at an age and a hormone state where I can't get by with eating candy, potato chips, potato salad, french fries, or a bowl of ice cream.

I don't each much of that stuff anyway, and I don't drink any liquor at all, yet I'm still fat. The truth is my body is so temperamental lately, that I need to watch everything I eat. To keep a food journal. To prepare my own food instead of constantly eating out. Restaurants are so convenient in my high-stress life. But I can't do that. I can't afford it anymore - either the expense or the weight.

I also can't afford to just go to Weight Watchers just when the urge (or the frustation level) hits me. I will go every week - on Saturday morning to the 8:00 meeting. There's a woman there named Cristina leading it who went from 289 lbs down to 120 lbs. It wasn't easy for her, it took a lot of commitment and it wasn't an instant success. It took a long time, but she stuck with it. She's darling. She's funny. She's Southern. And she is all about telling the truth to herself. I need to start telling the truth to myself, and facing up to the fact that I use food as an emotional outlet. It's just as unhealthy to overeat as is smoking, drinking and all the other bad habits I don't have and never have had.

So that's the truth. I'm fat, but I'm going to do my damndest to change. At 5'3", every extra pound really SHOWS. I'm going to start wearing my pedometer again. I need to somehow get in 10,000 steps per day - whether that's accomplished through formal exercise, or walking, I'm going to move more. At my job, I don't move at all which is part of the problem. I need to get out and WALK on my lunch hour. Now that spring is coming, I can probably do that again.

So that's the plan everyone, and feel free to remind me and hold me accountable if you don't hear about my healthy eating and exercising habits for a while - if I don't mention it, I've probably fallen off the wagon again and need to be hauled back on!!!! Seriously.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Projects in the Works

Here is what I'm currently working on knitting-wise. Back to the beginning on the Ocean Waves "Not a Poncho" project brought to you by Jane Thornley.

All week, I've been knitting and re-knitting the same beginning 5 inches of the "Not a Poncho." The problem? I can't find just the right shade of gray to begin the work. I either end up with yarn that is too light or too dark. Did you know how many shades of gray there are and how hard it is to find just the right shade?

The Spring Sweater on the list above is not anything I've started yet, but it's in my mind. I am going to eventually start a short sleeve Spring sweater. I have some yarn in mind . . . but that's a whole nother story. I'll tell you more about it once I start it and find the right pattern for it.

I've been doing a lot of reading on Jane Thornley's website. If you go to Jane Thornley's website (see link at right), you can not only learn more about her Knitalong with the Not A Poncho project, but you can also read about her coming Fall knitting trip to Italy. She calls the knitting adventure "Knitaly." And after viewing her details about the "Knitaly" trip to Florence in October 2007, I sure wish I could go!! It sound wonderful. Laura and I were pining about it tonight on the phone. Of course, we can't afford to go, but two knitting girls can dream, can't they?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Grumble, Grumble

Well, I'm in this MOOOOOODD (and it's not PMS either, by the way). Nothing is satisfying me. I feel discontent, restless, and dissastified with everything.

I went to knitting today, and it only made my mood worse. I saw Laura's "Ocean Waves/Not a Poncho" and it may me even more dissatisfied with mine - I don't like the "redone" version either. It looks too flashy and yes, I know I'm flashy, but I like Laura's much better. Her subtle, classy color selection is what I'm after. As much as I usually dislike blue, maybe I'm craving the boring colors, i.e. blue, white, etc. because I need calm in my life. It's hard to say.

I like Laura's. I may start yet a third time and try to stick with her color scheme - I don't like where mine is going. It's too un-oceanic!!! Then again, maybe I should just hang up the needles for a while and not knit anything. I'm in one of those moods where I feel unartistic, uninspired and just frustrated with everything I try to do. I think I need to go clean something - do some therapeutic cleaning. That's probably what I should do - sort out my messy house and wash some floors or toilets or something.

You can go to Laura's blog and see her current work in progress. It's really beautiful in person.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What A Difference a Redo Makes

Left: First Version I attempted
Right: Redone and at about the same point

What a difference a "redo" makes! I like the colors on the second version a lot better. The moon isn't as round and pretty, and the shaping isn't as even since I changed yarns a lot, but all in all, I like the second version better so far. I have knit 9" in length so far, and about 12" in width.

Last night I read somewhere in the directions that this is supposed to be 60" across before we stop increasing. I hope that isn't supposed to be at this point, because it's only a foot wide! I'm still a little unclear with many of the directions, but hopefully I'm at least sort of on the right track? Not sure. At least I like the way it looks better than before. If you want to join in this knitalong, you can go to Jane Thornley's website and click on "Knitalong." You'll have to go several pages back to find the beginning of this project. She started it sometime in mid-January, but I restarted this project on Valentine's Day, and I'm not too worried about falling behind. In fact, I like other voyagers being ahead of me to guide the way, because the sea is chopping doncha know!!

This is my first BIG dip into color knitting and Intarsia. I am taking a Sally Melville class in Lawrence at Yarn Barn on April 15th on Intarsia, but this project will be a good preface to it. I should get out my Sally Melville Knitting Experience (part III) where she talks about color so that I can figure out some of these color knitting bugaboos that I'm discovering here by trial and error.

Right now, I'm just using cheap yarns on this project in case it bombs - because I'm finding that when you're mixing all these yarns willy-nilly, and have bobbins of different yarns, you can't rip out like you can with regular straight knitting. Oh well, it's an experiment and a fun one!

Coming home to this creative outlet is my only sanity right now. Yes, I'm being melodramatic. That's me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just in Time for Valentine's Day - A Finished Freeform Vest

Not exactly your typical hearts-and-flowers Valentine's Day theme - last night I finished my Autumn-themed Freeform Vest.

This is the project I started in Alie's Freeform class in February of last year. So it's come full circle - starting and ending in February. I often do this - complete projects out of season! But then the nice thing about it is, I put it away in the closet and get it out again when the new season begins and I then feel blessed with something handmade to wear when that season finally rolls around.

I was just thinking the other day, with this cold weather hitting us, that I feel so soft, warm and comfortable in my handknit socks, scarves, and sweaters. That's why I've been selfishly knitting for myself so much lately. When I wear things I made, I just feel nurtured all day. Weird but true. It's a form of self-nurturing that is really reassuring. Now if I could find others who appreciate my knitting as much as I do myself, then maybe I'd start crafting more gifts. Ah well, here's a Valentine's gift for myself - a completed vest. I LOVE Freeform.

Here's a closer view of the scrumbles:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

To the Moon Alice!

Not much time to write - big snow/ice storm and Bob's driving me. But I couldn't resist showing you where I'm at on the Jane Thornley Freeform project.

I'm to the moon (remember Jackie Gleason's Honeymooner's show anyone?). I loved it.

I'm getting coaching on this project from Laura. She's the one who got me started on this. Blame Laura! Ha! I am at the 10 inch from the bottom triangle point (is that how you measure, from the bottom point of the triangle up to the top? I dunno). I haven't yet started my V's - I need to start those V's right away. I may end up starting over on the whole project if I don't get it jazzed up soon. I like something with a lot of "pop".
If you can click on the image, you'll see that I started off the very tip with plain grey worsted weight yarn, then moved to LB's Homespun in Edwardian, then on the third area, I mixed Homespun with two other boucle yarns in blue/green, but the effect is very subtle, then I threw in the moon in a Modea blue/white varigated yarn. It needs some "pop" and I'm getting ready to start the V's and get that pop going immediately - either that, or if it doesn't create the look I want, I'll start over. As Laura knows, I often rip out and recreate!
Have a good day everyone. It's cold, icy and snowy. I like winter. But I'd like it much better if I could stay home today and knit in front of the fire.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Charting the High Seas in Freeform

While still in the final throes of completing my freeform vest (only about 4 scrumbles left to go on that one), I have become enthalled by yet another Freeform project that my friend Laura from the knitting group has introduced me to.

This is a Freeform Shawl/poncho/not a poncho project with what looks like short sleeves? It is assymertical - going up high on one side and low down the hip on the opposite side. This is a knitalong project, and it's a kind of "knit as you go" type thing. I am about three weeks behind on getting started, but that's okay, because I make my own pace.

You can see a picture of Laura's "not a poncho" (NAP) by going to her website and looking here. She is doing hers in colors of charcoal grey, blues, greens and white. Charcoal and greens have always been appealing to me but blue and white are two of my LEAST favorite colors. I don't do blue. Period. But guess what? I was immediately drawn to her NAP and loved everything, including her colors. Maybe it is because it's January and even a winter-lover like myself is starting to crave spring? Her color choices remind me of the sea. What's funny is that she is inspired by an Iceland theme - so she has quite a different image of what she's making. Where I see a dark, stormy sea evolving into a warm, inviting spring/summer ocean, she sees Iceland. Go figure. It just goes to show that we each have a different vision of the same project.
For some reason the blue in this shawl/poncho thing is vastly appealing to me. I'm afraid I'm not very imaginative. So I asked Laura if she minded my copying off of her colors. She insisted that no, it was fine for the very fact that we DO have such a diferent vision of where we're going with it. So here goes - I'm off and sailing on an unknown course mateys (Warning: the designer of this project, Jane Thornley, talks in sailor's slang, and it is as infectitious as the project itself).

Here's a photo of the yarns I've chosen so far. At the top of this entry, you can see that I've just barely started, knitting only the beginning 5 inches. I'm starting with a Lion Brand Homespun yarn in the color "Edwardian" - it's a dark charcoal. But I'm going to soon be adding in blues, greens, maybe even whites? I'm not sure. Do you think lime would be too wild as an accent color? Not sure if that would mess up my whole color scheme or make it "pop" in an appealing way. Working with color is something I'm trying to learn more about through Freeform.

Here are my yarn selections thus far (I'd like to get a ribbon yarn or two in the mix), but my background color is a grey boucle.

I may do more varied yarns than what Jane is suggesting, because already I've picked out about 10 different yarns or more that I want to use. And should I go with Charcoal, green, blue and white? Or should I go with Charcoal, green, blue and lime (for accent). Not sure. Any thoughts, feel free to weigh in.

This project somehow puts me in mind of another project I wanted to make several years ago and never got around to doing, the Shardigan. It's not the same at all, don't get me wrong, but I think you could wear them in similar circumstances. It would be great for wearing as a wrap during cooler spring weather, or taking a walk on a cool summer night evening (preferably along the beach, right?), with a short sleeve shirt underneath.

If you are interested at all in participating in this Knitalong, go to Jane Thornley's knitalong page and begin on what is now page 4. It started around the middle of January, but you can join in at any time. After exploring her website, I already want to get her book when it comes out!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Who Says Cats Like Yarn? This Dog Does Too!

Case in point:

My dog, Domino, comfortably resting on my ongoing Freefeorm vest creation. If he'd only get up, maybe I could work on it!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Fun Saturday

Today started off with a visit to the dentist, routine teeth cleaning.

Then Mom and I shopped at the Studio and found a new yarn called: Boku by Plymouth. I think this must be designed to be similar to Noro. It's 95% wool and 5% silk and only $6.00 per skein for 99 yards (11 yards less than Noro). I think this would be a cheaper alternative - especially on large projects such as sweaters and coats. It gets 4 stitches to the inch on a size 7 needle according to the ball band.
I have been working hard on my Freeform Vest.
What started off (a year ago) can be seen here.

It is much farther along now. I love it! I am finished with the right side and am now working on the other. The whole project is going much faster now that I have the hang of it.
Since this project is made up of fall colors of greens, pumpkins, reds, golds and browns, just like autumn leaves (my favorite colors), I will probably finish the vest just in time for Spring! But that's okay, I'll put the vest away when I finish it and get it out again in September or October. Of course, with my red-headed coloring, I could wear these colors all year and be happy to do so.

I'm really, really happy with how this vest is turning out. It's one of my favorites of all time. Although, I've found that folks are either really into appreciating Freeform or they AREN'T. I've had some people longingly touch the original suede of the vest and say, "Why are you covering it up with yarn stuff?" It's like coffee, either you really like it or you curl up your lips in distaste. There's not much middle ground.

Today I went over to Sit, Sip and Knit on Saturday and saw Maenwyn, Lorena, Sherre, Carol and my Mom. We all sat around knitting (and crocheting) for several hours. Carol and Lorena showed me how to work on the crochet pieces I've been struggling with. For me, I'm afraid, knitting will always be MUCH more natural than crochet. Poor Carol has the patience of Jobe!!!! I kept not knowing where to put the next stitch. There are all those random little yarn holes, and I don't know how to read the stitches and which hole I should stick into etc. She spent a good two hours stepping me through a scrumble.

Lorena had a great idea for how I could do the jeans vest I want to work on as a "next" Freeform project, with Freeform collar and sleeves. She's very creative and just FULL of good ideas. I want to make a jacket similar to the one that Alie made that I featured on the top of my last post.
As far as Freeforming goes, I want to learn to do both knitted and crocheted scrumbles to get as many shapes/textures as possible in my work. Toward that end, I've been using a couple of Annie's Attic Crochet books. One is called FUN WITH FREE-FREEFORM CROCHET by Margaret Hubert. Another book is called FREEFORM: SERENDIPITIOUS DESIGN TECHNIQUES FOR KNITTING & CROCHET by Prudence Mapstone. The Mapstone book has both knitted and crocheted scrumbles in it. The Annie's Attic one is crochet only. I also have both Jenny Dowd Freeforming books. I really like those.

At knitting group this week, we missed Mary and Laura this week. I won't be at knitting tomorrow because I'm staying inside all day, relaxing and knitting. Here at our house, we're not big sports fans, so we won't be partaking of what my husband affectionately calls "the CEREAL bowl." Ha hum!

I'll report back with a photo when I have completed the vest.