December 29, 2008

Knitting highlights of 2008

Knitting highlights of 2008, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

My main knitting goal for 2008 was to knit twelve pairs of socks, one for each month of the year. Even though I started out rather slowly, fearing that I had bit off more than I could chew, I met that goal back in September (with a burst of sock knitting energy during the summer) and I recently surpassed it by completing pair #13 for Alice on xmas day (it’s pair #30 overall).

This mosaic does not represent every pair of socks or completed project of 2008. There are many more. For 2009, I hope to fill a 6x6 mosaic with completed projects…although at this time I have no particular knitting goals in mind. Perhaps I have decided to go a little easier on myself during 2009…or to shoot more night shots…or to sell more t-shirts.

Please let me know if you have any questions about a specific project pictured. Feel free to contact me at anytime (heavydutydesign AT gmail DOT com).

Happy New Year!

December 26, 2008

I made a sweater in one day and you can too!

knitting t-shirts
raglan sweater tree ornament, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Over the years, I have been gradually converting the xmas tree into a showcase for hand knit ornaments. Two years ago my obsession was mini-socks and mittens. Last year I went cuckoo for mini felted oven mitts. This year, I have discovered doll-sized sweaters.

I’d been looking for a way to use leftover sock yarn and also commemorate and remember the beloved socks I have knit from the beloved sock yarn. So I researched free mini sweater patterns on Ravelry and discovered this lovely pattern.

knitting t-shirt

It seemed easy enough and the greatest thing about the pattern is the fact that it’s a TOP DOWN sweater – knit from the neck down. I haven’t attempted that method for knitting a sweater (although I have wanted to) and this was a great chance to familiarize myself with the technique in a miniature way. Sort of like a top-down sweater sampler.

Well the pattern is fun and easy and a great way to use up those bits of leftover sock yarn, beloved or not. I’ve been churning them out at a rate of about one per day. So what are you waiting for? If you start now, you too can knit a sweater in a day!

knitting t-shirts

[BTW If anyone has any advice about making the tiny hangers, from wire I think, I would love to hear your advice/tips.]

December 24, 2008

Happy Holidaze

Happy Holidaze, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

All of us here at alice thelma, as well as the staff of our partner blog, Portland at night, wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2008

Snowed in

Portland at night, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Like most of the country at the moment, we're covered under a blanket of snow. Seriously, it's like the most snow in 50 years. Last night I went out and took some night shots until my fingers and feet were frozen. Today, I put the chains on so I would be ready to pick up Max at PDX when he arrives this evening. Also, made it to the store and took P. to the Post Office.

So I've been productive to say the least.

obama-rama pillow

This weather's been best for knitting. I've been knitting a LOT. Finishing some projects and making good progress on others. Here's progress on the Obama-rama pillow and I also got my sock mojo back. Yes! I'm back on socks.

knitting t-shirts

And what have you been up to during this winter so far?

December 21, 2008

I love my sweater shaver

knitting t-shirts
recycled sweater, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Here is another sweater that has been too warm in the past but that I’ve pulled out of the trunk for the bitter cold weather we’ve been enjoying enduring lately. It’s a gorgeous LLBean model. 100% Irish wool and it wasn’t cheap.

My plan was to cut it up, sew it back together, throw it in the hot water wash and felt it thus transforming it into a lovely tote bag. Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to throw a $100 sweater into the washing machine and the recent frigid temps changed my mind, even if just temporarily.

The only problem with this whole scenario is that the beautiful sweater is covered in pills and oh how I hate pills. To the rescue comes my handy dandy sweater shaver that I recently purchased at Target for under $10.

knitting t-shirts

If I’m not knitting, or blogging, you can usually find me shaving sweaters…or socks…or anything covered in pills. Some of the pills on the sweater were too big for the battery operated sweater shaver so I’ve had to resort to an old standby: the disposable razor.

knitting t-shirts
Are there any other methods for removing pills that I don’t know about? Please share with me.

December 20, 2008

Score! Solid wool sweaters at the Goodwill

knitting t-shirts
goodwill sweaters, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I hadn't been to my local Goodwill in awhile and what a bounty I found there yesterday! I scored four 100% wool sweaters for $28. Here's a tip for all you bargain wool hunters out there: the best sweaters are in the men's department. Plus you get more bang for your buck - the men's sweaters are actually bigger!

So what will I do with these extra-large sweaters you ask? First, I will offer them to Max because he lives in the Midwest now and he may need them. I won't force him, but if he likes them and wants them, he can have them.

Next I may actually sew them up into tote bags, throw them in the hot water wash and felt them. It's something I've always wanted to try but so far have not been brave enough. Has anyone out there intentionally felted a sweater? Please share your experience with me.

knitting t-shirts

Lastly, I may unravel them and knit something new - perhaps a blanket. They're such lovely colors aren't they?

December 17, 2008

Urban Aran Cardigan progress

urban aran progress, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Because the weather has been so miserably cold (see my cold weater adventures here) and we've been stuck inside, it's been a good time to catch up on some projects I've been neglecting.

Jared Flood of, cleverly converted the Urban Aran (from Paton's Street Smart) into a zippered cardigan and I've been wanting to make one ever since I first saw it on his blog. I cast on and began the back months ago (on 9/30/08 according to my Ravelry notes) before I got distracted by holiday gift knitting.

The poor thing sat on the end of my couch, neglected, for months. Well I'm proud to say that I finally finished the back and, with the same needles, cast on the sleeves. Both.

urban aran cardigan

I'm knitting the sleeves simultaneously. Not sure if this any faster or more efficient but at least they will be the same length!

December 15, 2008


hope obama commemorative pillow
obama-rama pillow, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

Believe it or not, the stealth gift knitting is just about finished although nothing I can blog about for fear that intended parties will see their gift before official gift giving. Maybe the solstice this year? Or possibly Christmas eve? Whaddya think guys?

In the meantime, I have begun my official President Obama Commemorative Pillow, which I'm hoping to have finished by inauguration day, January 20, 2009.

The pillow is based on the pattern called Obama-rama by Laura Birek and when I showed it to my sisters on Thanksgiving they talked me out of the sweater version. Would I ever really wear it, they asked? I decided on the pillow version to proudly display on my couch year round. Who knows - it might become a collector's item.

The photo of the sweater was shot by kristi.nicole and I originally discovered this design through my favorite BC knitting blogger, flying pig knits. It's all based on Shepard Fairey's original poster.

I also changed from Vanna's Choice yarn to Lion Wool-ease which felt better in my hands. The cold snap we're experiencing has made it an optimal time for knitting. Are you taking advantage of freezing temps to knit something nice for yourself?

I'll have more to show you tomorrow. Stay warm!

December 14, 2008

I'm wearing it! I'm wearing it!

lopi sweater pattern, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I'm actually wearing the lopi sweater right now accessorized exactly like the model in the picture, with the jeans and denim shirt, except I look like an NFL linebacker. It's toasty warm though. Hope you are too.

December 13, 2008

How do you stay warm?

knitting t-shirts
lopi sweater, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I never thought it would get cold enough for this Lopi sweater but the time has come. Here in the Portland-Vancouver area, we are expecting the coldest temps in five years. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr They're even forecasting snow for tomorrow! Next week looks to be clear but frigid - down to the teens! - if you believe

I have never worn this sweater which I knit about 10 years ago because I'm always covered in sweat within minutes of putting it on. It was a fun and quick knit made from Reynolds Lopi in the EZ seamless yoke method. The other reason I never wear this sweater is because it's much too big. Because I'm such a relaxed knitter, I now size down, both in needle size and pattern size. So if I want to make a large, I cast on for a medium.

knitting t-shirts
Just something I learned in 28 years of knitting.

Last Fall I threw the sweater on Alice and she looked adorable.

Here's hoping that you stay warm and dry. Let me know how you're doing.

December 11, 2008

How do I get my sock knitting mojo back?

psycho socks progress, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

A couple of months ago, I was going gangbusters on socks with a personal goal of knitting one pair per month during 20008. Well I met that goal back in September but since then…well it seems that I have lost the lust for socks. Sock knitting that is.

According to my Ravelry project notes, I started the pair above on October 5 but they are sadly languishing on the needles while I decide on a heel. The socks are for Alice and she picked out the psychedelic color way (hence the name – "psycho socks"). Although they are rather plain and devoid of any stitch pattern, these were (are) to be my ultimate technique socks. I wanted to be able to knit two socks at simultaneously, from the toe up on magic loop. Now the question is heel flap or short row heel? A garter stitch short row heel was suggested to me last night at knitting night.

What do you think? What type of heel should I knit? How do I get my mojo back – just enough to finish this pair? Your suggestions are welcome.

December 8, 2008

What I'm making for myself

union square shawl/poncho, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

knitting t-shirts

What are YOU making for yourself? Tell me.

December 7, 2008

Grizzly socks

As I was updating my finished projects links to the right, I realized that I hadn’t blogged about this one:

spring forward socks
Grizzly socks, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I finished the Grizzly Spring Forward socks a couple of months ago (on Sept 22 according to my Ravelry project notes) sent them to Nell in Bloomington for her 21st birthday and then completely forgot about them. As I was tallying my socks for the year, and installing the links to the right – well that’s when it hit me that I had never debuted them here on the blog.

I call them “Grizzly” because they’re brown – obviously! – but they are knit from the pattern spring forward which can be found for free on knitty. Great pattern! Looks complicated but is easily memorized if you just keep track of the repeats like I do, with a stitch marker.

spring forward socks

And you know that brown is my favorite color. The yarn is KnitPicks Essential Tweed in INca Gold. A very lovely soft fiber to work with.

So that’s the exciting new for today. I hear that Nell likes them very much. Nell and Max are currently in Iowa…or maybe on their way back to Indiana. In any case, I hope they’re staying warm. 

How do you stay warm?

December 6, 2008

the further adventures of silly bradley

Some of you might remember my nephew Bradley from last July. The kid is not shy in front of a camera. On Thanksgiving Bradley showed me a secret talent of his. He is able to stuff his ear inside his ear and then squeeze it out – hands free!

An amazing magic trick I assure you.

Do you have an trick?

December 5, 2008

sad loss for the local knitting community

I just received this email from Martha Gioia, president of the Portland Knitters Guild:

"Greetings Knitters,

Last Sunday evening Linda Carter, Yarn Garden owner, friend and acquaintance to many knitters, died suddenly. A sad loss to her family, friends, and the knitting community at large, Linda will be remembered as the significant person who brought knitting to Portland, supported charities: red scarf and Heifer International to name just two, and provided support and encouragement to many knitters. There is hardly a knitter in Portland who has not at the very least passed through the Yarn Garden.

As a way to remember Linda our guild is making a donation in her name to Heifer International, an organization that provides livestock and sustainable farming practices education to poor families and an opportunity for a better life. Our gift will be a sheep.

A memorial will take place at the Yarn Garden with details to be posted on their website


December 3, 2008

who needs symmetry?

knitting t-shirts
asymetrical cable hat, originally uploaded by alicethelma.

I finished this little gem, the asymmetrical cable hat, a few weeks ago but couldn't find a suitable model until just recently. It looks adorable on my neice Juliana don't you think? 

The hat is a quickie knit from the book One Skein (by Portlander Leigh Radford) and if you love cables as much as I do, you'll have fun making this hat. The hat construction is straightforward - no dcreases. I used some Cascade Bulky that I bought at Close Knit earlier this year and of course I ran out so I made the pom pom out of white. Then I actually found another ball of pink in my stash!

The hat is really comfy and cozy and also looks pretty groovy on Juli's Dad, my brother Steve.

I'm back from celebrating Thanksgiving with family in the Bay Area. Here's the whole gang.

Only a few people missing but it's always a great feast at my sister's house. Many thanks to Karen and Jeff.