Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brazos Bend Bike Ride

It's a challenge to get outside for a trek in our part of Texas during the summer, because it is usually very hot and humid. Tuesday we were surprised by a break in the heat and actually found a little time to take the bikes to Brazos Bend State Park for ride after supper. The Trek-along socks came too.

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Trekking (XXL) Color 115

This is my first attempt at short row heels and short row toes. I'm using the Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts method. She claims that this technique allows you to knit plain socks mindlessly (even when brain-dead). I had my doubts about that, but now I'm convinced! As soon as I'm finished with these I'm trying short rows on a pair for me.

We biked the 40 Acre Lake Trail and then the Elm Lake Loop Trail. These are two of the most popular trails in the park. These trails see a lot of traffic on the weekends, but were nearly empty this time of the week. Alligators are a common sight here. We saw several, but didn't stop to take pictures. Next time, I promise. The goal was to get some exercise and I didn't want to keep stopping.

Brazos Bend is only a short drive from our house, but the scenery is completely different. Where we live is open farm land, but the park is a mix of woods with huge mature oaks, swamps and lakes. Wildlife is abundant and birds are plentiful. And this day, the sky was beautiful!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Market Bag

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I learned about this reusable shopping bag from Debbie. It will work great for this purpose, but I can think of some other uses too. How about a poolside tote for carrying your towel, sunscreen, book, etc.? A bag for children's toys (as long as they are big enough not to fall through the holes)? Another container to store the overflow from the yarn stash? I bet you can think of more.

Pattern: Market Bag designed by Robyn
Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream, 100% cotton worsted weight
Needles: 16" circular in US 10 and straight needles in the same size

I used just barely over 2 ounces of yarn for this bag. The variegated colors of Sugar'n Cream come in 2 ounce balls. The solid colors come in 2.5 ounce balls. Each cost $1.27 per ball where I shop, so this is a very economical project to make.

The handles of this bag are knit in the round and the body is knit back and forth. I originally thought that I could use a circular needle for the whole project. However, the wraps always seemed to slide over the stitches when they were on the cable part of the needle and I spent a lot of time repositioning them. It was frustrating and time consuming. I changed to straight needles and it was smooth sailing from then on.

This pattern can be easily modified to suit your tastes.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Watermelon Set

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I'm on a roll with preemie hats this week. This cute watermelon hat is from Ann Norling Pattern #30, More Kids Caps. This pattern sheet features instructions for a basic rolled cap and six specific designs including watermelon, sunflower, crayons, lace, sport helmet, and checkerboard with stripes.

I made my watermelon hat smaller by casting on 56 stitches, which gave me a hat that will fit a 6-8 pound baby. The yarn used is Lion Brand Cotton-Ease (worsted weight) and the needles used are US 7 dpns. This hat is simple to make and you could come up with your own version easily without a pattern. I think the hardest part is deciding where to place the "seeds" and then being satisfied with the results. Maybe I should add just one more...

This set will be donated to The Preemie Project.

The pattern used for the booties is a variation of this one, of course.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Black and Gold

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Not the usual colors for a baby, unless you are a baby at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. This hospital is supported by The Preemie Project and is located on the UI campus. To kickoff the Hawkeye football season, The Preemie Project will be donating black and gold spirit hats and booties this fall. The hat pattern I used was written by Marcia. I think it's just perfect for this project. If these colors remind you of a bumblebee, then check out Libby's creation. It's really cute!

Striped Hat
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft worsted weight (black and lemonade)
Needles: US 6 dpns
Finished Size: 3-5 lbs

Michelle's Booties
Yarn: Same as hat
Needles: US 5
Finished Size: 3-5 lbs

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bathing Beauties

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Pattern: Fiber Trends Bathing Beauties, Ribbon Lace Washcloth and Soap Sack by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: Rowan 4 ply 100% cotton
Needles: US 4 straights for cloth and dpns for sack

These cloths and sacks are fun to knit, take only a small amount of yarn and make a very nice gifts. On this particular set, I used a provisional cast on for the first time. Trying a new technique on a small project is a good way to learn. The pattern sheet from Fiber Trends includes instructions for three cloths with matching soap sacks. Each set requires approximately 115 yards of fingering weight cotton. The washcloths measure about 7"x10" and the soap sacks measure about 3"x5". I'll be making more of these.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Trekking in Utah (Day Three)

This is the last of my Trek-Along hikes in Utah and the start of a brand new sock. Here I am on the Lake Mary Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon working on a sock for my husband, John.
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John went with me on this hike and we were both humbled by the altitude. The beginning of the trail was just too steep for us flat landers who are used to living at sea level. Where did all the oxygen go! After some huffing and puffing we decided to turn back and take an easier trail.

So, back to Silver Lake where I had been with Margene just the day before. I didn't mind going back at all.
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The trail around the lake is a boardwalk for most of the way. It is flat and easy to walk. John just happened to have his fishing rod in his backpack and of course I just happened to have yarn and needles. So while John fished, I worked on the sock.
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Trekking XXL (#115)

The weather was perfect and we had a great day walking, fishing, knitting and taking pictures. I know we will go back next time we visit Salt Lake City.
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Sunlight Through the Trees

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Pussy Willows At Silver Lake

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Trekking in Utah (Day Two)

The weather was perfect for Saturday's trek. Clear blue skies and cool temperatures. As planned, Margene picked me up at the hotel and we drove to Big Cottonwood Canyon for breakfast at Silver Fork Lodge. It was our first time to meet in person, but it was nothing like meeting a stranger. Conversation came easily and we enjoyed our visit. Talked so much in fact that I forgot to take pictures at the restaurant.

After a delicious breakfast (I had the famous sourdough pancakes), we drove the short distance to Silver Lake for our trek. It a beautiful place!
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No wonder it's one of Margene's favorites.

Here's Margene showing off her Trekking sock.
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And here's one of my socks.
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You probably can't tell, but we're using the same colorway (#133). I happened to win my Trekking yarn in her birthday contest. The question I answered correctly was to name her favorite weekend breakfast spot. So it seems only right that we would eat at Silver Fork and then take this trek. I had a great time!

Later on Saturday

On Saturday afternoon I met Marcia and her lovely daughter in Salt Lake City at the Gateway Center. This was the first time we've met in person. I know Marcia from the Lucy Ladybug Knit-Along. This charity knit-along provides burial clothing to hospitals in Utah for premature and full term babies. I am a volunteer and Marcia is the founder. She (along with friends) started this group in memory of her niece, LucyBug.

We browsed the knitting books in Barnes and Noble and spent time visiting over ice cream at Ben & Jerry's. Later Marcia's sister joined us and we visited some more. Both ladies are just as nice as I thought they would be and I'm really glad we had a chance to meet! I had my camera with me, but forgot to take pictures. I was able to deliver this donation in person though.
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More pictures and pattern details here.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Trekking in Utah (Day One)

This past weekend I tagged along with my husband on a business/fishing trip. We arrived in Salt Lake City on Friday to be greeted by rain, thunder and lightning. Not good for fishing or trekking, but we headed for the Heber Valley anyway hoping for a break in the weather.

Though the sky was stormy...
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And the trail was wet...
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And the water was too swift for the fish to bite...
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We still enjoyed the beautiful scenery...
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And the Trekking socks? They made the hike just fine.
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Retro Rib Socks designed by Evelyn A. Clark
Interweave Knits, Winter 2004
Trekking XXL #133

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Knitting For The Babies

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It's been a while since I've shown you a hat or a pair of booties. Knitting for the babies has taken a backseat to graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and life in general. I did manage to knit a few things for The Preemie Project though:

Lavender Hat: Pattern from Oneskein. DK yarn, size US5 dpns, CO 54 sts = 3-5 lbs.

Variegated Hat: Variation of this pattern. WW yarn, size US7 dpns, CO 48 sts = 3-5 lbs.

Blue Hat: Variation of same pattern above. DK yarn, size US5 dpns, CO 72 sts = 9-11 lbs.

Booties: A new pattern for me. I really like it. DK yarn, size US5 straights = 9-11 lbs.

Now that things are getting somewhat back to normal around here, I think I'll have more time for the knitting I enjoy the most. This arrived from Donna the other day all the way from Australia.
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It's true that knitters are the most generous people around. Thank you Donna for this lovely gift. Your package went in the mail yesterday. I'm excited about trying the patterns in these books. Donna made these hats from the Cleckheaton book. This prompted a comment from me which led to the exchange. Aren't they adorable? The best thing is that all the designs in this book are also written in preemie sizes! The yarn she sent is fingering weight which is perfect for tiny hats and booties and hard to find where I shop. This is just the inspiration I need.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Feel Like A Cheater

Trek-Along With Me is off to a great start. There have been some beautiful pictures posted of scenery and socks. Some treks have taken place in the city, some on the beach and some in the wilderness. The one thing I've noticed that they all have in common though is that all the socks are in the very early stages of being knitted (or crocheted). Most people are casting on or still in the pattern selection process. There are a few socks that have been knitted past the cuff, but not many. So call me a cheater if you must, because my socks are finished. Obviously, most everyone assumed the start date was June 1. That part wasn't clear to me, so I asked and was told I could cast on anytime. So technically I didn't cheat, it just looks that way. Perhaps all will be forgiven when it's learned that this is just the first of two pairs I'm making for the trek-along. The first trek for these socks is planned for this weekend in Utah. I'll save the pattern details for then, but I will show you a sneak peek photo now.
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Recognize the pattern? Any guesses? No cheating allowed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Contest Winners and Totals

Today the Preemie Project Contest comes to an end. Thank you to everyone that participated. You guys have really been busy! I'm happy to say that in only one month's time, the total number of hat/bootie sets donated through this contest were 123 (71 sets were sent to Michigan and 52 sets were sent to Iowa) and the total number of blanket squares made were 142. I appreciate all of you so much. Because of your generousity, 123 families will be helped during a very difficult time.

Now it's time to announce the contest winners. The winners were chosen in the traditional low tech way of drawing a name from the hat, or more precisely, a Ziploc bag.
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Winning 10 skeins of Basics Stop Print in the Michigan drawing is Debbie.
Winning 10 skeins of Cotton-Plus in the Iowa drawing is Marcia.
Winning 10 skeins of Crazy Cotton in the Blanket Squares drawing is Patty.

Congratulations, ladies! I'll mail your prizes just as soon as I receive your mailing address.

I hope everyone enjoyed working for the little babies. For me, there is joy in doing good for others. I hope you experienced this too. Your contribution is important and makes a difference. For a little inspiration and encouragement, listen (or read the words) to this home recording of the song, Little Babies, written and sung by my husband.