My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Isn't this a picture? Doesn't it make you want to just run outside & bask in all of the glory of nature?

Bright gleaming sunshine...

Snow-covered Chugach mountains...

So idyllic, no?

Okay - here's a few more photos to tempt you into the great outdoors of Alaska:

This photo was taken from my front doorstep while I was facing south:

Doesn't the blanket of snow just make everything look so clean, so inviting?

Perhaps you may want to reconsider:
No - this is not the work of photoshop. This is what our thermometer read this morning at 9:58am (disregard the time displayed - the clock is set by the atomic clock & doesn't account for Alaska Standard Time). Yes - it was -14.6°F this morning. And yes - our heater is having to work overtime to keep us warm - I think the heat had been on all night & only reached 61.7°F upstairs. Unless you are a serious die hard, used to bone-chilling, skin-freezing, snot-solidifying temperatures, this is just plain COLD, COLD, COLD!! I took these photos soon after showering & my hair actually froze during the short time I was outside. Yikes! So yes, going outside with wet hair is just plain dumb & I don't recommend it.

You learn early living in the 49th state that clear, sunny skies during the winter months = cold temperatures. Anchorage temperatures don't usually bottom-out like this, however. These are temps usually experienced by Fairbanks - approximately 360 miles north of here.

Click for Fairbanks, Alaska Forecast

Wow!! It's -29°F right now in Fairbanks. Okay - makes the current temperature of -11°F seem more tame.

We were supposed to go out to my parent's cabin yesterday, but the extreme weather changed our plans. It was -20°F at the place where we leave via snowmachine. The cabin is about 2 hours by snowmachine from Deshka landing. With high winds in the forecast combined with negative temps - good sense prevailed & we opted to stay home. Too bad - I was really looking forward to spending time with my parents & enjoying relaxing & quality knitting time. Perhaps we'll be able to squeeze in a trip before the winter vacation is over.

So - let's look at warmer things, shall we? Like a couple of Christmas knitting finished objects:

Danish Earflap Cap in Dimond High School colors

Yarn: Cascade 220 in Maroon & Gold
Pattern: Danish Earflap Cap from Hats On!

My hubby - such a good sport to stand outside to model his new hat. The 'earflaps' are more like cheek warmers in the large size.

Elka Icelandic Sweater from Best of Lopi

Yarn: Lopi Icelandic Wool
Recipient: My stepmother - she'll have to wait to receive it as they are at the cabin & we're not.

The yoke detail.

I was very glad to finish this project. While it was a fun & relatively fast knit, the amount of finishing - knitting separate button bands & sewing them into place, sewing on 6 buttons, weaving in ends, kitchner stitch the underarms, knitting collar & sewing in place was a bit taxing. Overall - I'm glad with the result. I felt the button bands pulled on the stitches a bit, so I'd like to improve on that the next time I tackle a similar project. There was no time to block the sweater, but since now we're not heading out to the cabin, I might set it in the tub for a good soak.

Okay - thanks for sticking with this long post. I think we're off to brave the cold & check out the ice sculptures downtown. Then back to knitting for me. Next up: the Druid Mittens from Vogue knitting.

Stay warm!! Ciao~

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Ready for the Big Man's Arrival

Only 1 day left until "The Big Day" - the day when the jolly man in red pays the youngsters of chez Arcticknitter a visit. They have been good boys this year (for the most part - they are kids...) and are anxiously awaiting his arrival. The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, gifts are wrapped and under the tree. All that leaves is baking the annual Christmas cookies for Santa.

Of course - not just any cookie will do. No - can't just make a quick batch of drop cookies & be done in an hour or so. No, no, no - we dig out the cookie cutters, chill dough for 2-3 hours, make butter cream frosting & then turn the kitchen into a virtual Christmas bakery. Let's see... 3 hours later and DH is doing the dishes. (Have I told you how much I love that man??)

Here's the trouble with 'self-portraits' - you can't tell if the younger son is making a nice photo face. At least it captures his personality quite accurately. Hmm... perhaps a little lipstick is in order here. Winter weather = pale, pale, faces...

The kids want to know how many cookies Santa eats in one night. (They've estimated somewhere between 500 and 5,000,000 ) Is he skinny the rest of the year & fattens up as he travels around the globe delivering presents? Does he put some of the cookies in the freezer & eat later? Does he share the cookies with his elves and Mrs. Claus? Inquisitive children want to know!!!

The weather has warmed up a smidge - it's about 20°F right now. Snow is falling too! Yeah - while I know snow can pose a serious danger & inconvenience to areas unaccustomed to significant snowfall, I just love the stuff. Well - as long as I don't have to go anywhere & can just stay home to enjoy it. Oh - and as long as it doesn't fall in significant amounts during the high school outdoor soccer season. (That seriously irritates me...) I even enjoy the shoveling to a certain degree.

Well - off to make dinner & do some knitting. With the laundry & baking today, not a stitch has been formed thus far. Not good if I'm going to finish hubby's hat & the Icelandic sweater in the next couple of days.

Come on Santa - we're ready!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Flurry of Finishing

While much of the lower 48 is being inundated with snow flurries (okay - that's a bit of an understatement; more like blizzards) - there's been a flurry of Finished Objects around chez Arcticknitter the past couple of days. Drum Roll please....

The Amanda Hat II

Cast-On: December 13, 2008
Cast-Off: December 21, 2008

Pattern: The Amanda Hat

Yarn: Left over Peace Fleece from Amanda Hat I & Cascade 220 remnants. I thought I would run out of Peace Fleece (after knitting 2/3 of the hat), so I frogged & restarted using the Cascade 220 superwash, held double, to maximize the Peace Fleece. Of course - I over estimated & still have yarn left over.

Recipient: No one in particular. This hat may go into the winterwear box.

Welted Fingerless Mitts


Cast-On: December 19, 2008 (evening)
Cast-Off: December 21, 2008 (morning)

Yarn: Manos Silk Blend in colorway 3019

Pattern: Welted Fingerless Mitts - A free pattern w/yarn purchase from Churchmouse Yarn & Teas. We visited this shop on Bainbridge Island, WA during our summer road trip. There was a knitted sample that I thought was soooo cute. This is a fun, quick knit!!

Recipient: A great friend...



Cast-On: December 21, 2008 (evening)
Cast-Off: December 22, 2008 (morning)

Yarn: Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande Paint

Contrast Yarn: Mission Wool 1824 - remnant from the Koolhaas project (which I did finish - just no new photo to share....)

Needle: US 9

Pattern: Thorpe by Through The Loops

Recipient: No one in particular while I was knitting. I've now decided I'm keeping it!

Wowza!! This is a great pattern made with a fantastic yarn. I've oogled this yarn several times while visiting Far North Yarn Co., thinking it'd be perfect for this pattern. I wasn't mistaken. This hat is knit from the top down & the size large uses every bit of yarn. I think I had maybe 1 foot left over. Perfect!!!! The Alpaca is sooooo soft & warm. I purchased another skein in a blue colorway - that will become a hat for DH. I think I now know what I'll knit for teachers as late holiday gifts. (as fellow teachers I'll hope they'll forgive my horrible procrastination & understand why they weren't done prior to holiday vacation).

Those of you with astute observation have probably noticed that none of these projects is a finished Icelandic sweater. Ahhh - the art of procrastination - I have mastered thee. The sweater is out of my room & in plain view so it can't be ignored much longer. I also purchased thread today so I can attach buttons. So - buttons, button hole band & collar to do. I have until the 27th to finish, so I think I'll be okay...

Ciao! For those of you under the newest blanket of snow & ice - knit on & stay warm!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Progress

Seriously now - where does the time go? I can remember thinking about my holiday knitting list earlier in the school year with nary a worry. How did it get to be Dec. 9th already - only 15 knitting days left (if you don't count knitting in the wee hours of Christmas morning)!! Sorry for those who didn't want such a drastic reminder. Yeah - it's time to wake-up & read the calendar - the days are ticking away.

I had planned to make hats for Orion's teachers (x 2) and perhaps a pair of mittens for Iain's teacher. Mittens only because she received a hat when she was Orion's teacher last year. Yeah - what's the likelihood that I'll knock off a pair of mittens before the end of next week? Especially when I thought I'd knit these. Yup - that's what I thought too. I guess there's always teacher appreciation week. (By the way - teacher appreciation week occurs in May - who doesn't need a pair of wool mittens in May??) And let's not forget I coach H.S. soccer which begins in March. Okay - time for a reality check; the mittens might have to wait until next year. I'll have all summer to get them done. Note to Self: Procrastination isn't getting the knitting done. (I'll be sure to write that down later...)

So - here's what I do have done:

1) Pair of socks (Jacobean)

2) Hey, Teach! sweater for my sister. (She doesn't read my blog, or know that it exists for that matter, so I think I'm safe in listing her gift here) This originally was for me, but is too small. I've more of the same yarn (knit picks swish) in the stash, so I'll knit another for me very soon.

3) Hat for my 6th hour teacher aide (Tam from Hat's On)

4) Hat for my 4th hour teacher aide (The Amanda Hat)

The link takes you to a photo gallery of lots of Amanda Hats. Great, great pattern & a fun, QUICK knit. Did I mention it was quick? A 4 row pattern repeat + some garter rows & viola - you are done!!


Yarn: Peace Fleece in some blue colorway...
This was some stash yarn I received in a swap last year. 4 oz - looks like I'll be able to knit another of these hats. :0) The yarn band says the yarn will blossom & soften up w/some washings. We'll see... it isn't too scratchy, I think I'd be able to wear it on my head w/o trouble. Anyhow - just took a couple of evenings to knit.

Needles: Size 9 Addi Turbo (big needles = quick projects!!)

Works in Progress:

1) Koolhaas Hat for the student who isn't officially my aide, but comes in every 5th hour to see if I need help (she isn't skipping a class - she's an aide for another staff member who doesn't have anything for her to do...). She is fantastic and deserves a fantastic hat. Here's where I am so far:

BrooklynTweed has done it again!! The pattern is found in the 2007 Holiday edition of IK. The hat for the photo shoot was knit using Yak yarn - fresh out of that, so into the stash I went. I surfaced with some Mission Falls 1824. I'd forgotten how much I love knitting with Mission Falls 1824. So soft, so sproingy....

Word of caution - this pattern incorporates cables. In fact, the 1st row & 5th row of the 8 row pattern repeat cables every pair of stitches!! So.... I highly recommend you a) use some fantastically pointy needles like knit picks options and b) learn how to cable without a cable needle. Fortunately, I knit most of my Central Park Hoodie using the cable w/o a cable needle method, so I am familiar with the process. You can find a great tutorial here or here. Unfortunately, I don't have a knit picks needle on a small enough cable (16" or 20") so I'm using an Addi Turbo size 8. Not quite as pointy as I'd like, so dropping the stitch toward the back is a bit tricky. However - still way faster than having to pick up a cable needle 52 times in one row. Just thought you'd like to know.... All in all, I'm loving this knit - fun & still pretty quick. I think I'll make one for me during winter vacation.

2) Icelandic Sweater for my stepmother. This is pretty close to being done - need to tack down button band, knit button-hole band, knit collar, kitchner under arms where the yoke and arms were attached. I think I'll tackle this after school let's out for break.

So - off to finish Koolhas and work on The Amanda Hat #2. Details about the icord bind-off for my CPH next time - need to make dinner & hit the needles.


Friday, December 5, 2008

19 knitting days left...

While I was visiting PDXKnitterati's blog, I came across this:

You Belong in London

You belong in London, but you belong in many cities... Hong Kong, San Francisco, Sidney. You fit in almost anywhere.

And London is diverse and international enough to satisfy many of your tastes. From curry to Shakespeare, London (almost) has it all!

Curry - Yum!!! Yes, I *love* London - since my first visit as a high school senior back in 1988, I've visited London 5 additional times. It's great... I'm hoping to visit again soon, next time with my kids.

It'a 6:00 and 30°F now (it's warmed up since last weekend) and dark, dark, dark. Just had to go and put on my CPH.

Have I mentioned I love this sweater?

Okay - back to knitting. Courtney has reminded me that Christmas is only 19 knitting days away, and of course shorter if I'm going to give any knitted gifts to my children's teachers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stick a Fork In It!

And call it done! I've finished sweater #3 - the ever popular Central Park Hoodie from the 2006 Fall edition of KnitScene.

I purchased this yarn from WEBS over a year ago with this sweater in mind. I know - it looks suspiciously like my other sweater, the Not Your Average Sweatshirt - just in cardigan form. I guess you could say I'm a sucker for cables.

Loved, loved, loved this knit. Relatively fast and fun. Pretty standard construction - knit the back, knit the two fronts, knit sleeves, pick up stitches for hood, pick up stitches for button bands, and then seam the whole shebang together. Piece of cake...

I have to give tons of props to Ravelry. If you haven't made use of this resource yet, you are missing out. While this pattern has been out for 2 years, I've found it certainly pays to wait a bit before jumping in. Then - I read the forums in Ravelry and learn from other knitters' experiences. Such as...

Running the double cable up the hood. The original pattern calls for a basic stockinette hood seamed together at the center. Not only did I continue the cable up the hood, but I tried (rather unsuccessfully) to do some short row shaping to make the hood less pointy. It is less pointy than my other hoodie, but still - I look like a gnome when the hood is up. I figure I won't wear it up much anyway. The other hood modification was to kitchner the sides of the hood together rather than do a traditional bind off and seam it up. Looks pretty good.

The next mod: Knitting a larger sleeve. Many knitters mentioned the sizing of this sweater runs a tad bit small. So - since I'm not a teenager with toothpick sized arms, I chose to knit the sleeves in the next size up (the medium, rather than the small size). Turns out - that was a fabulous idea - the shaping for the arm was perfect - no wrestling needed to set in the sleeves & I have plenty of room to wear a long sleeved shirt underneath. Yup - worked out just dandy.

The last modification was to pick up all the stitches along the fronts and the hood at once rather than do one half at a time as per the original pattern. I ordered a 60" cable from knitpicks (LOVE my options set!! - great gift for a knitter, hint - hint) and then spent the better part of an entire day picking up 300+ stitches and knitting a 1.75" k2p2 ribbing. I chose not to add buttons, so no button holes either. I figure I wouldn't button the sweater anyhow, so decided not to add any holes. Also - another suggestion from Ravelry - chose to do an i-cord bind off. Wow - that took a lot of time. Knitting three stitches for every one stitch bound off - but, the effort was worth it.

Bottom line - I.LOVE.THIS.SWEATER!!!

Dirty Details:

Size: Small (36")
Yarn: Donegal Tweed from Tahki Yarns (the suggested yarn for the pattern) 6+ skeins
Colorway: Can't remember - some purple color.
Needles: Size 6 & 8 from Knitpicks

Now... on to holiday knitting with a gusto!

ETA: Please pardon the crazy dark photos with the dreary dirty kitchen background. Getting good lighting for photos in December in Alaska at 9:00pm is a pretty tall order.