Sunday, November 18, 2007

Keeping Busy Knitting...

I finished an entrelac scarf a few weeks back but am just now getting around to posting pics of it. I was really intimidated when I began this project, but my motto when knitting is to always try something that seems a bit too hard for me. At least that way I know I will learn something along the way. This scarf is from and was designed by a man. I LOVE it when guys knit, and I LOVE telling my students that this beautiful scarf is man-made. Heehee. Mine is woman-made, but you get the idea. Turns out that entrelac is FUN! I added a little splash if pink to keep it interesting. LaTijera is knitting one in class, so I will post pics once she finishes.

Last weekend I was at Banana Republic and saw this hat:

I instantly fell in love then checked the price tag. $49.50 for a ribbed hat with a garter stitch border sewn on and a button that is purely decorative? Hey, I said to myself (I might have said it aloud, since I was getting some stares as I stood there in the accessories section), I could knit that. I took a few stealthy photos with my iphone and wrote out a pattern.

Here is my first attempt:

I hate how pointy the top is and the band is a little too tight, so I tried again.

Their hat, on a model:

My second hat, on me:

I still need to add the decorative button, but you get the idea. I think I solved the pointy top issue, and the pattern is very cute and flapper-like.

Here is the pattern, sort of:
size 8 straight, dpns and circular needles
worsted weight yarn (I used Bernat Satin)
tapestry needle

CO 100 sts. Join in the round and knit 1x1 rib for 25 rounds. Place a marker every 25 sts (I use a diff. color for the first marker).
Decrease row: *k2tog, knit to 2 before next marker, ssk*, repeat around.
Rib one round.

Repeat these 2 rounds until you have 5 sts in each section (total of 20 sts).

Cut yarn and pull through the 20 sts and cinch up.

Brim band:
CO 110 sts (straight needles).
Garter st for 2".
Bind off loosely, leaving a really long tail once you tie off the last st. Use this tail to sew the band to the edge of the hat (I used a whip st). Be sure to line up the sts from the ribbing (stretch the ribbing a bit) to the sts from the garter st. The band should overlap itself for about 2". Sew on a matching button onto this overlap.

Short week at school this week, only 2 days, but I hope to have some more finished projects to show you soon. The kids are starting to think about holiday gifts. My next project is bracelets. Lots of bracelets.

Have a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 04, 2007 favorite holiday ever!

I took a week off from blogging to get ready for my favorite holiday of the year, Halloween. I love everything about it: candy, costumes, pumpkin-flavored stuff, trick-or-treaters, and candy corn. Here are some highlights from our Halloween this year.

Our pumpkins are all "funkins" a foam pumpkin that you can carve like a real one but keep for next year. Mike does such intricate carving that we decided to "invest" in these fake guys so that we can save them for years to come. Cheesy, i know, but this is the one holiday we go all out for. We had hundreds of trick-or-treaters come to our door for candy and a look at our newest Halloween addition: a front yard graveyard. I made the tombstones with styrofoam and gray spray paint. Pretty easy!
Charlie Brown as a pumpkin.

Igor from Young Frankenstein.

Here is my costume. This year I was Amy Winehouse, complete with tattoos and huge beehive hairdo. I had so much fun putting this costume together.

Here is another picture of me with a few students at school. Paul is a paparazzo and Brittney is Lindsey Lohan's arrest photo. Fun stuff!

Had a few more cooking classes in the past few weeks. Here are some of the things that Andi and I made.
Salmon and tamatillo salsa. This salsa was so good that I made it again that weekend for our pumpkin carving party.

Vietnamese chicken salad. This was so delicious and not too bad for you. The palm sugar dressing was the best.

Tonight, for more practice (I guess it is like doing my homework, right?) I am making a tri-tip, roasted beets and roasted potatoes. The tri-tip is from the butcher at the Original Farmer's Market on 3rd and Fairfax. Awesome guys behind the counter, they really helped me pick out the perfect cut of meat.

My Marine Biology students turned in a fun project last week. In groups, they had to bake and decorate a cake to represent a cell. Here are a few of their creations.

And, on to knitting.
I added another dinosaur to the herd. This is a Brachiosaurus. Next up is the Triceratops.

A few days ago someone posted a link to an EXPENSIVE bangle that was cabled. Here is my take on that, for about 3% of their price. I love these!!!

Amanda, one of my knitting students, has fallen in love with making toys (a girl after my own heart). She recently completed this pig wearing pants. Her next project is caterpillar finger puppets. I taught her how to knit with DPNs and she is finishing up the puppet. Photos next week.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another Dinosaur and CRAFT MY RIDE!

Hey everyone. It has been a long week and I spent many nights crafting my heart out, and I am proud to unveil my "Craft My Ride" submission. A set of three re-usable grocery bags covered in graffiti. They roll up and all 3 fit into a carrying bag that stores in the glove box or the door pocket. It was so much fun designing these bags and drawing the graffiti was amazing. I had students guide me with the graffiti and I really learned a lot about how tough it is to do.

OK, back to the classroom. My speediest knitter, Irina, has finished another project (last week she made 8 baby hats). This week's project is a scarf that she designed herself. I tell you, this group of knitters is blowing me away with their ambition! Next week I will post a dog sweater that one kid is finishing up. Pretty!

Coming off of my own needles this week is a companion to the T. Rex...a Stegosaurus! This guy is too cute!

Friday night, my best friend Andi and I took a cooking class in Culver City. SO MUCH FUN!!! It is at the New School of Cooking and it is a 4-week course. We learned soups and salads. Here we are with our creation. So proud! Next week we learn seafood and chicken. Yummy!!!!! Tonight I did some "homework" and made a spinach and white bean soup and a california chopped salad with roasted beets. Almost everything the recipes called for I found at the Larchmont Farmer's Market this morning.

Hope everyone is safe and out of the way of the fires. Have a great week!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Pidge and a T.Rex!

I saw the cutest patterns in the Holiday issue of Vogue knitting! Yeah, there are some wonderful sweaters to dream about knitting, but I was immediately drawn to the dinosaurs from I went to their website and purchased the dinosaur pattern set. The patterns arrived Saturday afternoon and I dove right in. Today, I have a T.Rex.

Really easy and I think it turned out pretty cute! I sure hope the little kids on my X-mas list like dinos! There is also a stegosaurus, brachiosaurus, and a triceratops left to knit. I used worsted weight wool for this guy, about 80 yards did the whole thing. His face is sweet. If you like DPNs and lots of shaping, then these are the patterns for you. Fairly straight-forward pattern.

I also knit another Pidge. This one is Misti Alpaca bulky. So soft and warm! Love it and it will be a x-mas gift for someone.

The kids were busy this week as well. Baby hats were due on Thursday, so as they came in I took pics before they were donated. Notice that they all have Stitches From the Heart tags on them, ready to be shipped off to deserving new babies!
This is Anastaysia. Very pretty hats.

Here is Irina. She has made 8 hats so far. This girl is ADDICTED to knitting!

Johanna and her baby hats. I love that her nails match a hat. Perfect!

Natalie made these hats. Awesome!

One of our boys, Nick. He donated 3 hats. Way to go!

Sinai (continental knitter) is getting really fast at making hats. Watch for more to come.

Next up for the kids is to make something they want. A gift, a toy, a purse, whatever. If any of you have suggestions for the kids, post them in the comments.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My So-Called-Pidge

I initially saw the Pidge Scarf listed on SnBLosAngeles and realized I had to make one. The $275 price tag made me want to do it cheaply as well. Everyone was buzzing about this simple neck scarf with two wood buttons, so I figured I would try to make my own version. I used the stitch pattern from "my so called scarf" and did some basic measuring to come up with my version.

Here is the pattern I used:
60 g Cool Wool (bulky)
size 11 needles
Finished length: ~22 inches, but you can measure on yourself for the best fit. Button holes should be about an inch from one end.

Cast on 22 stitches, or any even # +2
Row 1 (RS): K1, *S1, K1, PSSO but before dropping the slipped stitch off the right needle, knit this stitch*, repeat from * to *K1
Row 2 (WS): P2 tog but before dropping the stitch off the left needle, re-insert the right needle into the first stitch (of the 2 purled together) and purl this stitch by itself, then drop the 2 stitches from the left needle (leaving 2 new stitches on the right needle). Repeat this across the remaining stitches.

Repeat these 2 rows until you reach the point where you want to add the button holes. I did my button holes toward the beginning, figuring if I messed up, I could start over without wasting too much time.

Buttonhole row:
On the WS, repeat pattern stitch twice, then bind off 2 sts, repeat pattern st 5 more times, bind off 2 sts, then repeat pattern st two more times.
RS row that follows: K1, S1, K1, PSSO and K into the slipped st, S1, M1 onto right needle, PSSO and K into slipped st, M1 onto right needle, K1 from left needle, PSSO and K into "made stitch", repeat pattern st 4 more times, S1, M1 onto right needle, PSSO and K into the slipped st, M1 onto right needle, K1 from left needle, PSSO and K into "made stitch", S1, K1, PSSO and K into the slipped st, K1

Bind off once you reach the desired length. Add 2 fancy buttons and wear with pride (and keep the $275 in your wallet)

Not sure how "easy" this is to understand. I read the stitch directions a bunch of times before I figured out exactly what I was supposed to do, and I worked this buttonhole row at least 5 times before I finally got something that sort of worked. I know some people were tossing around the crochet button hole and I am curious how that turned out for people.

I am currently knitting another Pidge with Misty Alpaca bulky. Yummy yarn.

My students are knitting maniacs and I have lots to show you from this week's classes. First, Lesly is assembling our 6" squares into a pretty cool baby blanket.

She is a really fast knitter who has already finished her baby hat assignment and was looking for something to do while waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. Gotta love it when a kid asks for more to do.

Here is one of my "advanced" knitters from a past semester, LaTijera. She soared in the beginning class and decided to come back for more. Here she is with the Elbac scarf from winter '06. She just learned cables last week and is making some real progress on this piece. I admire her skill and patience with so many cables!

Here is Halie, another returning knitter from last year. She is knitting the final leg for Sheldon, a turtle we love from I made many Sheldons last Christmas and Halie couldn't wait until she was "good" enough to do one. Little do any of them realize that you just have to think you can do it and you probably can. She picked up the DPNs and jumped right in. We will assemble this guy on Tuesday, so look for more pictures of her finished turtle next week.

Here are more knitters. Johanna and Sinai are furiously knitting. Sinai is a crocheter who picked up the knitting needles and taught herself to knit continental. I love watching her zoom through rows. So elegant!

This is Cristen, who is a bit wacky, but that fits right in with most of the knitters I know, so she feels right at home. She made this baby hat that is for a pretty big baby. For some reason, my kids are obsessed with the pom pom maker, so much so that I think I need to invest in a few more. They like to put pom poms on everything!

Here is Delyla, showing off the purple yarn that I wound into neat little balls for the kids. I bought pounds of worsted weight yarn and used my new ball winder to make center-pull balls for the kids to knit with.

And finally, our most recent donation to Stitches From the Heart. 5 baby sweaters, 4 dolls, 30+ baby hats, 10 scarves and 25+ purses and other teen-related items. I dropped in to Stitches Friday afternoon and was reminded how wonderful it is there. I really recommend you get yourself there to enjoy the people, yarn and always at least one good cookie on the big table. Friday I met a new grandpa who just learned how to knit so he could make stuff for his new granddaughter. He was chugging away on a scarf, then he put that down to show me the doll he is kitting for Hannah (I also saw the album of pics he carries in his impressive knitting bag).

I had a fun little adventure with my best friend Andi this afternoon. We went to the Museum of Natural History here in LA to hear one of my marine biology idols, Jean-Michel Cousteau, speak. His 2 hour lecture was on the state of the oceans and how we can change what we do to help the earth. His father taught him many things, but the most resounding message he learned from Jacques Cousteau was this: "People will protect what they love. We must show them how to love the ocean, the earth and all of the inhabitants, then they will care to save it." Here is a small, grainy picture of him up on stage answering questions following the lecture. My iPhone to the rescue!

Before the lecture, Andi and I toured the museum. Here she is in the Kid's section, standing in front of a really tall polar bear. Watch out, Andi!!

Next up for me is to work on the Scion Craft My Ride project. I have a super-secret idea in the works and I promise to reveal it once I have submitted my entry. Is anyone else out there entering this fun contest? Tell me what you can about your entry.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Local Dog Attacked By Gator!

I have officially finished my first Christmas present of the year. Mike's sister went to Univ. of Florida and loves all things alligator-related. I knit this gator for her son, Christopher. I think mom and son will have a fight over who plays with it.

I found the pattern in a knitted toy book I bought online (i'll post the name in another post, forgot it at school, sorry). I like the cute animal patterns they have, but everything is knit flat then stitched together. I would prefer to knit something like this in the round, and stuff as you go. There is a really cute dog that I might try to rewrite before I knit it. For me, knitting in the round makes so much sense, less finishing at the end (my least favorite part of knitting).

Here is Charlie, patiently posing with the gator. Charlie is so funny. When I try to get him to pose for me, he won't. But this time I just brought my camera and the toy over to him and put the gator on him and he was like "OK, but hurry up".

Charlie was investigating the gator jaws and teeth. Be careful, boy!

Finally, the gator attacked him. Poor Charlie Brown.

I have a few more Chrostmas presents coming soon. I really want to reduce my stash this year by knitting presents. The Pidge scarf will be happening one of these days.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back To School, year 3!

YES!!!!!! The Yarn Harlot was in the house! Ellene and I went to see the woman in person. The blue arrow is pointing to my head, Ellene is sitting to my right. (photo borrowed from SPM's blog) We had a blast, laughed a lot then had a surprisingly good lunch at the Downtown Library cafeteria. We ran into Ellen Bloom who helped me convince Ellene that Pinkberry is the world's best food. Period.

Stephanie (I feel I can call her that now that we have been in the same room together) asks for hat donations at her speaking events. I have been experimenting with fair isle, so here is the hat I donated. A friend of mine had tagged it as hers, so I think she will be upset when she finds out I gave it away. Sorry, Andi. I'll knit you another one.

I have picked up the needles again after taking a month off this summer, and have finished the Baby Surprise Jacket. Here it is before the surprise...

and here it is after the folding. This is such a fun and challenging sweater to make. I am hoping my more advanced knitters will be up for the challenge. I did this one in a lightweight cotton that has a great drape. Now someone I know needs to have a baby boy. Come on, girls! Get to it!

In my science classroom, we are currently finishing up a unit on the properties of water. I took some white roses from our garden and put them in food coloring. Capilary action! Adhesion! Cohesion! So much science, but I am posting it because the flowers turned out so pretty. Pretty is a bonus!

A generous friend handed over some awesome Dodger tickets a few weeks ago. Here are my best buddies enjoying the game. Sarah, Chris and Andi.

School has started again and I am beginning my 3rd year teaching knitting at Pali High. My 5th class full of eager, new knitters. This crop of students is one of the best so far, and they are all knitting away. Here are some pictures from our last class together.

This is Rebecca wearing a sweater she made herself. She is an advanced knitter (self-taught!!!) who is zipping through my assingnment patterns. I see great things in her future.

Jordan is trying so hard!!!! I am really proud of his determination to get the stitches right. He isn't the fastest knitter in class, but he has the most heart...and that says a lot.

Evan (nicknamed "Evan the Pro" by the girls who sit around him) is a natural who takes his knitting home to actually work on it overnight. Expect wonderful projects from this guy. The girls LOVE him and he likes to help them fix little problems as they come up.

A big group of happy knitters. Their smiles tell it all. These kids enjoy our time together, probably as much as I do! It is the highlight of my day!

Another big group. This is typical. Once I take roll, the kids move around the room and sit with their friends. They think they invented "stitch and bitch" but I informed them that there are groups of knitters meeting weekly all around LA doing the same thing. I hope to get some of them to SnB meetups some day.

Cathy and Johanna. Both girls have been in my science classes in the past, but they are new to knitting. Making great progress so far. Keep it up!!!!

Diana and Elvira. Also from my past science classes. I am glad to have them in knitting class this semester.

Finally, my boy, Charlie. He is lucky enough to get to go out all day with his friend Keith (human) and a group of dogs including Ghetto (seen here cuddling with Charlie). Keith takes them all over LA: hiking, walking other dogs, exploring, etc. Charlie comes home exhausted at 4pm and won't lift his head until 6 or so, when he hears the food hit the bowl. Keith is amazing and we thank him every day for giving Charlie such a great experience.

I am currently knitting an entrelac scarf that is so cool! I can't wait to finish it so I can post pics of it. Up next? Probably the Dark Mark scarf (for a special Harry Potter fan I know)

I am off to the Thai Cultural Festival at Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood, to enjoy good food and some much-missed Thai culture. You might not know this about me, but I lived in Thailand for 3 years while in the Peace Corps. I have always felt a special kinship with the Thai community and try to go to their events around LA. Plus, I get to speak Thai again, which doesn't really come up that much in my daily life.