The Wandering Stitch

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beautiful Shawl

I've been meaning to share this for awhile, but school, family, and my new doggie have taken precedence over blogging. Will you ever forgive me? For today's post I get to share my first ever test knitting project. Michele Bernstein aka "PDXKnitterati" was looking for knitters to test her "Pacific Shawl" pattern. I so love Michele's designs that I asked if I could give it a try.

Over Labor Day weekend (yes, that long ago), I cast on using some stash BMFA lightweight yarn & away I went. I've never done a test knit before, so I was a tad bit nervous. Fortunately, Michele is such a great pattern writer & the pattern so wonderful that I was able zip right along.
As with many triangular shawl patterns, most of the first section is knit in stockinette with periodic increases to give it shape. Then came the fun "waves" lace pattern. Michele had included beads in the pattern & after my last experience with beads, I was a little reluctant. However - these beads are placed as you knit, using a tiny-weeny crochet hook - no pre-stringing required (Huzzah!)

Of course - beading is easier when you have the correct size crochet hook. I was down on the Kenai Peninsula with friends when I realized the hooks I had in my bag were too big. I was just going to forget about the beads (they are optional) when my ingenious friend created a mini-crochet hook using a twist tie. How clever is she?! She admitted that she really wanted to see the beading process & what the beads would look like against the yarn. I have to say - the twist-tie hook was perfect. So - if you ever find yourself in need of a teeny-tiny hook, you can save a few bucks & use a twist tie - provided you have one of those lying around. :0)


Pattern: Pacific Shawl by Michele Bernstein

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, "Beryl" colorway

Beads: Size 6 Triangular Seed Bead

Needles: US 6

Size: Small

Thanks for this opportunity Michele! :0)


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Welcome Lyra!

I've been scolded for not updating my blog introducing the newest member of Chez Arctic Knitter:

Meet Lyra:

We've been without a dog since we had to say good-bye to our dear, lovely, Joulee, last March. It took a while to get used to the quiet, not having to step over a dog in the dark of the early mornings, and not having a furry friend greet you with a head sticking out of the doggie door as soon as you pulled into the garage. Finally, about a month ago I decided we were ready for a new pup. Dear hubby was more reluctant than I, and it took that month to convince him that having a new pup would far outweigh the cons of being "dog-free".

I'd been stalking the ASPCA, Friends-Of-Pets, and the Animal Control Center websites trying to find another lab-mix. Last Saturday I decided to stop by the pound when I saw a photo of a black lab who was available for adoption. I finally convinced hubby that we should go and at least check "Jake" out to see if perhaps he was the right dog for us. To make a long story short, he wasn't. Poor Jake had already been in and out of 3 (yes, 3!) homes & had a history of destroying everything. While I thought he was certainly trainable, Wade & I decided that with both of us working during the day, we didn't have the time to commit to training Jake to be the great dog he could be. Too bad it wasn't the beginning of a summer vacation when we weren't traveling - then it could have been a possibility.

Enter "Louisa May". I noticed another lab also available for adoption earlier that day. I mentioned to Wade that there was also a chocolate lab available, but his reply was that he didn't "like" chocolate labs. (What that statement was based on, I don't know). I figured since Jake wasn't going to work out, perhaps we should take a look at "Louisa May". Funny, but Wade spent most his time at the pound hanging out around her cage. Turns out - she was the perfect dog for us.
She was picked up as a stray, so she had no history. After taking her to the vet this week, our vet estimated she's between 1 & 1.5 years old. We renamed her "Lyra" - the name Iain would have had if he had been a she. She comes. She sits. She loves to play fetch (whoever invented the "Chuck-It" ball thrower is a GENIUS!!). She stays. She is so completely full of love. She's potty trained (yup! only 2 wee accidents on her first days at home alone). But get this - SHE DOESN'T CHEW ANYTHING SHE'S NOT SUPPOSED TO!!!! What?!? Yeah - no paper, no couches, no shoes, no yarn, no needles (requite knitting reference) - nothing! I think she knows that she had to convince Wade that she's a good dog & we are a good forever home for her. The cat isn't convinced, but Lyra is certainly trying her hardest!

So - no knitting to share with this post. Iff you can, adopt a pet from your local shelter - you'll be so glad you did.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to School Sweater...

I'm baaaaaaaaack.... (think Poltergeist). I know - it's been a while & I'll use the usual excuse that I've been crazy busy as is expected with the beginning of a new school year. So let's just cut to the chase & share with you a F.O. I've designated as my "Back to School Sweater" well - because I wore it on the first day "back to school". And yes - the school year is going well; classes are large, but my students seem to be a great bunch, thankyouforasking.

Project Details:

Pattern: Kiama by Berroco. This was "harlotized" earlier this year & I was fascinated by the drape and construction.

Yarn: Origami by Berroco in the "Canteloupe Freeze" colorway (I think...) Very interesting mix of fibers - acrylic (!), nylon, cotton, and Linen. I've yet to officially block the garment, so I can't report on how well it softens up. I can say that while the yarn has a different feel than wool, it wasn't hard on the hands & the finished garment has a nice feel to it.

Needle: US8

Size: S/M

Overall - I very easy knit. You essentially knit starting at one sleeve, increase for the arms, knit flat for the back & then decrease for the other arm. Arms are seemed together up to the armpits & then stitches are picked up & you knit back & forth in a ribbed pattern for the collar & skirt of the sweater. Pretty easy even though I'm convinced I've made some mistake somewhere as the ribbing on the shawl portion goes in a different direction than the collar/skirt portion. I think it's a little too long in the back & the Yarn Harlots suggestion of doing short rows at a certain part of the pattern would have been a good idea. Love hindsight and all that. I figure that with standing in front of teenagers all day having a slightly longer sweater certainly isn't a bad thing.

I think it looks fine & I've received plenty of complements. It fits well & is surprisingly 'in style' - I've notices lots of similar type cardigans being worn this fall - full & drapey in the front.

Of course - since it's the beginning of the school year (or at least it was - the first day of school around here was August 18) I must include the requisite first day of school photos in front of the fireplace (I planned ahead this year - no last minute shots in the driveway before we zip off to school!)

First - My 3rd grader:
Pretty cute photo if I do say so. He is often uncooperative with photos - perhaps I threatened him this time? Can't remember...

Next - my 5th (!!) grader. How is it possible I have a child who is 10 years old?

He is more comfortable and cooperative in front of the camera.

"Hey boys - let's get a photo of the two of you together":

Grrrr.... Fortunately this was really all in jest & that most of the time the following photo best captures their true relationship:

I'm a pretty lucky mom.

I plan on less blog silence and more knitting (another wee FO & test knitting FO to share) coming soon.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Home Again...

Leave it to me to post about a finished sweater before I've posted that we've safely returned home. Oh well - such is the life of my brain. Of course, I also have more posts regarding our travels to share with you. But.... I thought perhaps I'd announce that Road Trip 2010 has officially ended - we returned home the afternoon of August 1st.

Overall our trip was wonderful. The van cooperated - even though we had the brakes replaced in California. It decided not to start making mysterious ticking noises until we were back in Anchorage, and the tire repair held up. The kids were troopers - good sports about long days (8+hours) in the car, constantly having to set up camp, sleeping in new places, and putting up with their older/younger brother 24/7. Wade and I still love each other (we celebrated our 14th anniversary on the road into Canada) in spite of long days in the car, constantly having to set up camp, and sleeping in new places almost every night. So - I think we can say it was a successful journey.

Road Trip Round-Up:

Total Miles Traveled: 11,456

I find this interesting as it seemed that we were driving a farther distance than that of the 2007 & 2008 road trips. I think the lesser mileage was due to traveling more direct routes for this journey.
Total Days of Road Trip: June 9 - August 1, 2010 (54 days)

Audiobooks Completed: (Membership to Audible was a good expense)
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Prey by Michael Crichton (lots of "f-bombs" - parental guidance certainly suggested!!)
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (GREAT children's book! - 1st of a series)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (listened when kids were engaged w/their DS games & audio limited to front speakers)
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson
  • This Immortal by Roger Zelazny (Wade's choice; I wasn't a fan...)
Actual Books I Read along the Road (on my Nook):
  • Teach Like Your Hair Is On Fire by Rafe Esquith (Good inspirational education book)
  • Healing Hands by Dr. Ben Carson (too much spirituality for my taste, but otherwise okay)
  • The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein (almost done)
  • The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (will I ever finish this book?!?)
Total Volume of Gas Consumed: (I don't even want to think about the size our our Carbon Footprint) - 561.134 gallons

Total Cost of Gas (I just added the US & Canadian totals - close enough): $1888.30

Cost for a family of 4 to fly round trip to Washington D.C. from Anchorage, AK: $4354.00 - So, I'd say driving, while certainly a longer journey to the nation's capitol provided a significant savings. In addition, we were able to have the flexibility and economical means of visiting much more of our wonderful country by driving.

States & Provinces Driven Through along our Journey: 27
Alaska, Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota,, Minnesota, Wisconsin. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon
Washington state, Washington D.C.

Road Trip Knitting projects by ArcticKnitter:
I'm fortunate that I can knit, read, draw, etc while in a car. Wade gets carsick, so he did the lion's share of the driving. I think maybe I drove 100 miles on this journey.

Kids' Highlights of the Journey: Visit to the Noah's Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI

Heather's Highlight of Journey: Spending birthday at Lake Tahoe

Wade's Highlight of Journey: RUSH concerts in Milwaukee and Toronto

It was a great journey and it's great to be home (despite the Alaska rain & cloud socked mountains). Would we do this again? Certainly - however I think we're reaching a time where the kids really want to be home & spend the summer with their friends and participating in soccer. Would I recommend long journeys to other families with children? Of course! Do your homework, know your children and your limits - overall, be flexible. We think we'll do one more summer long adventure next summer (Europe??) if the budget allows. Then - just shorter trips so we can enjoy the wonders of Alaska and perhaps catch up on the home improvements that are neglected in favor of family travels.

Well - I'll recap more of our Road Trip adventures (Toronto, family & friends, the Cassiar adventure) plus another knitted FO soon. Make it a great day!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Road Trip Sweater FO

As promised - a post about my 3rd Road Trip knitted finished FO, albeit much later than intended. We've been home for a few days now, but haven't had the weather cooperate enough for a photo shoot. So - when the skies finally "cleared", I grabbed my sweater, camera, and photographer and set out to finally get some photos so I can finally write this blog post.


Pattern: Mondo Cable Pullover by Chic Knits. Before our road trip I was looking for a pattern that would be an easy knit for the road. Luckily for me, my knitting/blogging friend at OneMoreRow shared that she was currently knitting this & I thought "That's Perfect!" (And it was!) Thanks HollyJo!

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Peru" - A blend of silk, angora, and merino wool. Total yarn yumminess! The yardage on the skeins of Peru are so generous (500 yds/skein) that I only used 1.5 skeins for the entire sweater! I think I used one skein for the entire body of the sweater & only dipped into the 2nd skein for the ribbed edge of the body & the sleeves. My knitting goals for the road trip knitting were to complete as many projects as I could (check!) and also reduce the stash. I thought knitting a sweater would be the perfect project to destash. So - it looks like to fully complete my goal I have to knit another project with this yarn. I'll share that project soon, I hope.

The Raglan Detail - My First!

Needles: US8 on my knit picks options (love them!) I only chose the 8 because it was the recommended size for this yarn & seemed to give me the gauge I needed for the size. After completing the sweater & blocking it, I think I could even have gone down a needle size. However - the size 8 created a nice drapey fabric - perfect for a sweater that I can throw on in a pinch, or pair with a nice pair of slacks or a skirt for a more dressy occasion.

Have I mentioned how much I love cables?!?

Mods: This was my first top-down sweater (!), so I didn't want to embark on any drastic changes. However, the original design is more of an "A-shape", and I thought with the yarn, perhaps a more fitted shape would be better. After searching ravelry for suggestions, I decided to do some decreases rather than all of the increases called for in the pattern. Then, as I neared the bottom, I increased again to help account for my hips. I think it worked okay, not perfect, but okay.

Overall - I think I'm going to get a lot of wear out of this sweater. It's so soft, comfy & warm. Can't wait until it's sibling project is complete. It was the perfect choice for knitting on the road & other than having to learn how to graft live stitches to a cast on edge (for the neck), I think I did pretty well.

Happy Day - more reports of our travels coming soon (I hope....)


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Holidazed on Holiday

Finally - I share with you FO #2



Pattern: "Holidazed" by Anne Hanson

Source: Rockin' Sock Club 2009

Yarn: BMFA Lightweight "Muddy Autumn Rainbow"

Method: Magic Loop

Mods: Toe up over 56 stitches rather than cuff down. Worked well except the Diagonal Twill Rib stitch count did not work evenly over 28 stitches per needle. So.... I just added a purl & knit stitches on either side of the 24 stitch pattern.

"Toe Pic"

Time Frame: Well.... Sock #1 was completed during our Thanksgiving Holiday to Hawaii last year. I started sock #2 while we were there, but then returned home, lost my sock mojo & the sock languished in a sock bag until our 2010 summer road trip. I think I actually finished sock #2 somewhere on I-80 in Pennsylvania.

Of course, I neglected to bring the sock pattern with me & didn't have the mental capacity to figure out where I was. So - my wonderful BKFF was also a member of RSC 2009, so she was able to email me the Diagonal Twill Rib pattern. I couldn't remember where I had left off last November (write it down - what a novel idea!), so just had to make my best guess. I don't think I guessed correctly, but oh well - I doubt anyone could really tell unless you were up close and personal. And.... if you're that up close & personal....

Diagonal Twill Rib Pattern Detail

Since this is supposed to be a blog about knitting and traveling, I hope I've upheld the knitting end with this little tidbit. While I'm posting this as FO #2, I think it's actually the 3rd FO completed on the road trip. I still have 2 more to share - as soon as they have their respective photo shoots. And when it's 90°F+, it's hard to put on wool & stand in the sun without looking like a wilted flower. Perhaps I'll suck it up before we drive off.

Until then - Ciao & Happy Travels!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy Birthday!!

Happy, Happy Birthday to my BKFF!!

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
- Anais Nin

I just thought I'd take some time to wish my dear friend a very, happy birthday. I'm sorry that I won't be there to celebrate your special day with you in person, but rest assured I'll be thinking of you as we travel north.

For her special day, I thought I'd share some photos of my special friend. Some are a few years old, but it's what I could find at the time. How embarrassing is it that I have more photos of yarn than of my BKFF? :0)

"What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies."
- Aristotle
(Our soul just happens to love cupcakes)

Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light. Jennie Jerome Churchill 1854-1921, Anglo-American Mother of Winston Churchill
(get it? It's the closest "friendship" quote I could find associated with Winston Churchill...)

My BKFF hob-nobs with the knitting elite!

My BKFF is not ashamed to knit in public nor wear slightly too large head gear.

"See you and me have a better time than most can dream of, better than the best, so we can pull on through, whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down, and if nothing can be done, we'll make the best of what's around."
-Dave Matthews Band

Happy Birthday Dear Friend!