March 09, 2012

The Knitting Essentials

With Pinterest around, knitting has become the hot new thing to do again and I LOVE IT!  Knitting is so satisfying and a great way to relieve stress. Also, it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something while I'm sitting around, especially if you're like me and you spend many a night in front of the boob tube.  I was doing just that the other night when a thought crossed my mind.  How are knitters supposed to get started and know what they need?  I have a "kit" that stays with me any time I pick up my needles and I would be lost without it.  It carries absolutely everything I could ever need while working on a project besides my yarn and needles.  I'm still working on finding a pretty case for it, but in the meantime I'm using an old pencil case that I've probably had since middle school. 

What's in it, you ask?  Let me tell you! 

  • Various shapes, types and colors of stitch markers - Some are the locking kind, some are not.  It wasn't until recently that I really appreciated having such a variety.  If you have several different patterns going in a project, the different colors can help keep it all straight.  While the locking stitch markers are great for keeping track of row increases and decreases, or marking a specific spot in your project.
  • Various sizes of stitch holders - These are a must for sweaters and mittens.  These recently came in handy over the holidays when I was whipping up socks like I was in a sweat shop.  I ran out of a color and needed to order more but I had no time to waste and had to keep moving, so I put my socks on a small stitch holder which freed up my needles so I could start another pair in the mean time.
  • Scissors - An absolute must.
  • Various sizes of darning needles - Thinner needles for thinner yarns and thicker needles for thicker yarns.
  • Nail file and nail clippers - There is nothing worse than snagging a nail on one of your projects and not having the right tools to fix it.  
  • Lotion - Having dry, cracked hands and working with wool sucks.
  • Row counter - I have one in my kit and a free app installed on my phone too.  I would hate life without one.
  • Various sizes of cable needles
  • Various sizes of crochet hooks - I'm really not good at crocheting but these things are great if you drop stitches.  You can probably find some at a garage sale for cheap.
  • A pencil and Sharpie - Sometimes you need to write on a pattern.  And I love me a Sharpie.
  • Retractable tape measure - It doesn't have to be retractable, but things can get messy quickly if it's not.
  • Chapstick - Because I'm addicted.  If I don't have some within a 5 foot radius of me at all times, I freak out a little.

Am I missing anything?  When it comes to knitting, what can't you live without?

March 07, 2012

Aidez Update

It's been a little over a month since I started my Aidez sweater and I thought this would be a good time to give you all an update on how it's been going.  The back started off slow because there were some times where I did my cables wrong and didn't realize it until I had made quite a bit of progress.  This resulted in ripping out a whole nights work.  Twice.  Once I got started on the front panels, it was clear sailing.  Each panel took me about a week to finish, and the sleeves are only taking a couple days a piece to knit.  As of last night I only have 2/3 of my last sleeve to knit and then I can block it and seam it.  My goal is to have this done by my birthday on the 14th.  So far it looks like I should be able to do that, provided I don't run out of yarn which is an entirely realistic possibility.  Here's a few pics to show you my progress.

I have the back panel and two front panels held together with some stitch markers so I can get an idea of how it's going to fit.

Here's the sleeve I've been working on.  The pattern says to make them 18" long but I have a pretty long wingspan, so I upped it to 22".  Worst case scenario I will have to roll up the sleeves a bit.  Much better then having them too short.  I had every intention of knitting this in the round, but I didn't realize that I don't own size 11 dpn's.  Big time bummer.  Looks like I will be seaming until the cows come home!  I know it will all be worth it in the end though!

March 01, 2012

Eco Friendly Homemade Floor Cleaner

So I have two dogs.  Two dogs that love to lay on the floor, track dirt all over the floor and even eat off the floor.  We also don't have the best luck with dogs.  Two more have died at a very young age, one to a brain tumor and the other to lymphatic cancer.  I'm still a woman in my twenties so this is not a very good track record.  Honestly, it makes you think a lot about if you're doing something wrong.  Because of this, I'm doing everything I can to make my house as natural and chemical free as possible.  I should also add that I'm full-on obsessed with Pinterest.  How are these two related, you ask?  Because there seems to be a recipe out there for homemade everything.  Shower head cleaner, fabric softener, laundry detergent, dishwasher liquid.  The list goes on and on.  It occurred to me the other night that I have a little DIY recipe myself.  For the last 3 years I have been making an incredibly simple and "eco-friendly" floor cleaner.  Going back to the beginning of this post when I said that the mutts love eating off the floor (mostly because my husband insists on throwing the table scraps on the floor instead putting it in a dish, but I digress),  I realized that the chemicals that are in the store bought stuff are probably getting licked up while they are eating their food.  That can't be good for their system.  So I came up with the easy recipe of vinegar, dish soap and water.  Told ya it was simple.  You get the disinfecting qualities of the vinegar and if the dish soap is good enough to clean your dishes, why can't it clean your floor too?  I wish I had a better justification as to why I think this combo works so well, but I don't.

In a large bucket, I take about 2 cups of vinegar mixed with about 1 tablespoon of dish soap.  You may have to play with this amount depending on how big your bucket is otherwise you could end up with bubbles galore!  A good rule of thumb is to add the amount of dish soap to the bucket that you would normally use for a load of dishes.  Any ol' dish soap will work but I love using the Palmolive Pure + Clear.  Add hot water to the mix and you're good to go!  I've never used this mix with a mop, since I've always been a get down on your hands and knees and scrub it out kinda gal, but I don't see why a mop wouldn't work just the same.  I've never had an issue with residue on the floors and while the room does smell like vinegar for a bit, it usually goes away after a few hours.  Happy Cleaning!!