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Monday, February 22, 2010

Regina Mittens - Bobbles and Bobbles of Fun!

I started my 2nd 'ravolympic' project a few days ago.  I wanted to knit up some of my Lamb Silk in a purpley-orchid color.  I was looking for mittens or gloves, and came across Regina Mittens.  The original pattern is for fingerless mitts, but I will be finishing off the thumb and working a full mitten top. 

This yarn knits so nicely - 50% extra soft merino and 50% super shiny silk - warm and soft all at the same time.  The interesting thing about this pattern is the bobbles.  I've done other lace projects that have 'knupps' - which are bobble-ish, and look pretty nifty when done, but they are difficult to work, at least in lace weight.  This bobble, on the other hand, is very round and easy to do.  You knit 5 stitches into 1, turn, purl all 5, turn, slip the first 4 over the last stitch, and then knit off the last stitch and continue on with the row/pattern.  Brilliant.  The finished bobble is very round and compact.  I'm not sure I'd like them in a bigger yarn, but this size is great, and I'd do them in place of a traditional knupp in lacework for sure.

I also changed the cuff from a traditional ribbed cuff to my favorite picot edging.  The yarn is so luxurious that I thought it needed a daintier edge.  I hope to finish off the first mitten in the next 2 days so I can complete both by closing ceremonies of the olympics.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Opportunity to Change Lives

Each of us living in the states have so much to be thankful for - roofs over our heads, food on the table, access to healthcare, and a free education.  Even in this recession when things are very hard for so many, we really are very blessed in comparison with much of the world.  When I travelled throughout Peru in 2008 with my son, Tyler, this was brought home to me in so many ways.  I met wonderful people who were living in circumstances that were hard to imagine - people who worked very hard for very little, and have no real opportunity to improve their situation. 

Tyler is in college now, and he and his new wife (America) are going to El Salvador May through August of this year for humanitarian work. Tyler has been appointed one of the Country Directors, and will be coordinating the volunteers in country for HELP International. HELP In'tl provides assistance in orphanages, garden plots, health and hygiene programs, and medical assistance to impoverished nations. America is graduating in April as a linguistics major, so she will be coordinating and teaching english classes and assisting Tyler with the admin tasks as a volunteer. Tyler is working on his international healthcare degree, and working with this non-profit is another step towards their planned future in humanitarian efforts abroad and at home.

As college students, they are poor (aren't they all??), and need help raising funds for America's travel and a portion of her living expenses (Tyler's are covered), as well as service project-related funds. They need to raise about $3,500, and while a private grant foundation may be covering a portion of this amount, they still need about $1,000 for the rest of their travel/living expenses. Any money over and above that amount that is raised before they get to El Salvador goes directly to the cost of the humanitarian projects on the ground.

We are so proud of these kids, and would like to help them raise funds for this very worthy cause.  If you would like to donate, this can be done through the HELP International website.  Donations in any amount can be made via the link above on the Donate tab - and should be earmark for 'Tyler and America Nelson' in the memo field. Any donations raised above the actual travel expenses needed go directly to the HELP project funds in El Salvador.

Monday, February 15, 2010

One Skein Wonders

For those who don't knit, you might not know about Ravelry. Ravelry is an online forum for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and yarn dyers.  I find most of the patterns that I use on Ravelry, and am always inspired by the projects and yarn art posted there.  Ravelry is supporting the winter olympic spirit by holding the ravolympics.  I'm not much of a 'joiner' - but decided to join a team at the last minute to challenge myself to complete several knitting projects in the two weeks the olympics run. 

My first project was a 24 hour sprint:  Leafy Cabled Scarf by Grace McEwen.  I found Grace's designs on Etsy and Ravelry, and think they are really beautiful.  I'm always excited to find great knits that can be done quickly with a single skein.  Art yarn can be expensive, and while most people can splurge on a skein occasionally - but it's not always easy to find a single skein pattern that is exciting.  I recently dyed some DK superwash in a winter multi-colorway that I wanted to try out.  I used Kathee's DK in Winterscape, and ended up with this:

I thought at first that the colorway might be a bit too busy for the pattern, but as you can see, the design is quite distinct and the leafy pattern shows well.  I modified the pattern just a bit: I eliminated the cables on the neckband so that it would lay open wider, and put a slit on one side so that one leaf cluster would feed through the slot and the scarf would stay closed on its own. 

I am so happy with the way this DK superwash handles and will be carrying it on a regular basis. 

I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing for my second project - it's a toss up between nordic stranded mittens or lacy cabled mittens.  Spring is not quite here in the Pacific Northwest, so there's plenty of time to enjoy mittens and scarves.  Take a look at the rest of KnitChickGrace designs - there are several fantastic one skein wonders!