Solution to Too Many Scraps: A Leftovers Cowl

In our house, I am the primary consumer of leftovers.

I attribute this to at least an extra ten pounds of, well, squish.

Reed won’t even LOOK at leftovers in the fridge. The thought of eating something two days in a row is unfathomable to him, lest it be cookies or cake.

This leaves me with two options: eat it myself or share it with the chickens.

It kills me to see all my hard work in the kitchen and expensive organic groceries/home grown veggies go to waste, so I of course eat the leftovers myself.

Being a mom is hard work.

Leftovers aside, I have spent the past three days subsisting solely on Kozy Shack* chocolate pudding in a bowl with a banana. Usually I do the chocolate-berry combo, but I am still on a banana kick after Panama (where the bananas actually taste like bananas and not cardboard) and thus am pretending the imported bananas taste better than they actually do. The chocolate helps.

Would it be so bad if I fed Reed chocolate pudding and bananas for dinner every night too?  This would save me so much cooking time!

Hmmm.

You wouldn’t judge me, would you?

When it comes to yarn, I realized I suffer from the same overwhelming urge to Use It All Up.

And thus arrived the day when I realized my stash had three skeins of new yarn alongside three baskets of leftovers.

It was a little disproportionate.**

(Also disproportionate: my exercise time to knitting time ratio.)

On the bright side, I’ve done a reasonable job keeping the scraps organized and labeled, like with like. (Extra chocolate pudding as a reward for me!)

I gathered up my large Ziploc of Madelinetosh Pashmina worsted, collected from a handful of projects over the past couple of years, and decided to knit a cowl.

I never would have actually bought these colors to knit into the same project. I’m no color mastermind, but I don’t think they coordinate particularly well and better choices surely could be made for a colorwork project.

You know what I thought to myself?

Good enough!

Good enough it was! I just started knitting and making stripes! Easy peasy. I wish I would have transitioned the first big blue chunk differently into the first big rosey red chunk, but my vision adjusted as I knit.

Here’s the thing: I love this cowl. It is so stinking soft and snuggly and knit from one of my all-time favorite yarns. Who doesn’t need a wool-silk-cashmere blend cozied up around their neck?

I mean, seriously!

I have been wearing this cowl day in and day out. I even wear it when I do house work or the dishes (which is like 85% of my life).

Other project pluses:

— I finally learned how to knit stripes in the round.

— I switched up cowl shapes…usually I knit thin and long cowls, so they can be looped and twice. This time I went with the narrow and tall shape, which I almost prefer.

— It didn’t cost me (an additional) penny!

And….it used up all of my scraps! One bag down. Another half dozen or so to go!

 

*Have you tried this stuff?!?! The container boasts it is gluten free and kosher, two important qualities in any dessert. (Wink of sarcasm…)

**Scrap yarn blankets have absolutely NO appeal to me. ‘Nough said.

Dispatch: Panama

Of all the joys that come with vacationing somewhere warm in the dead of winter, my favorite was spending so many consecutive days uninterrupted with Reed. No work for mom. No school for him. No just as soon as I finish the dishes. Or, yep, after as I switch the laundry…let me feed the chickens first…heavens, have you seen the state of our TOILET?!?!

Nope.

It was just Reed every day, all day.

Which was mostly amazing.

I wish there was a job where I could travel around the world and knit. With Reed, of course. Although I don’t think he’d like that job quite as much. I could tell two weeks away from home was a bit much for him. He was ready to head back to the dreary north long before I was.

There are few things I enjoy more than traveling with my knitting.

I packed three projects and finished nothing.

I did knit a bit almost every day, but not like I would have if I were at home, staying up late binging on TV while everyone else slept. Our schedule was different than it normally is at home, and we were all crammed into a single hotel room the entire trip. No late nights alone for mom.

I guess I exchanged yarn fumes for sun fumes.

And a few cocktail fumes. But nothing too boozy as to cause errors in my stitch count.

Reed had so many firsts. First time on a horse. First time jumping in waves. First time riding a boogie board. First time snorkeling. First big boat ride. First time out of the country.

He was one lucky kid-o!I loved all the sunsets and sunrises and tried to catch them all. I had hoped to see more monkeys but was only lucky enough to see two. I guess Costa Rica has Panama beat on the monkey front.

It was so amazing being WARM all the time. My fingers felt great! I am destined to live somewhere tropical. If only they can get rid of all those horrid tropical diseases first…
I was struck by how undeveloped so much of Panama is, at least the parts I saw. There are so many miles and miles of, well, not much. Just Panama. Fields with cows. Beach towns waiting to boom. Waves.

And lots of sea shells. Reed and I collected our fair share.
I will admit it’s nice to be home. As much as I delighted in two plus weeks of not cooking a SINGLE meal (rejoice!), eating at restaurants got old. Since I’ve been home, it’s been such a blur of long work days that I STILL haven’t cooked anything (except pancakes and such for Reed), but I know it will happen soon.

Also happening: ten loads of laundry. Sheesh!

Yes, I still have my knitting projects to finish (you probably already got bored of seeing them over and over again on Instagram while I was gone…), but I know they too will get their turn. Soon, I hope.

Dispatch: Daien @ Beloved Yarn

Given I am currently preoccupied with my own little vacation in paradise, and FURTHER GIVEN this is the Year of the Indie Dyer, I have brought you a guest post from a knitter, dyer, and fiber artist after my own heart. Daien dyes her Beloved Yarn in –wait for it– Hawaii! She already knows I am moving in. I have espoused  previously in this space my not-so-secret desire to move to Hawaii and open a yarn shop. (When I casually mentioned this idea to the purveyor at my own little yarn shop, she gave me one of those YOU ARE CRAZY looks…)  I am glad (jealous!) Daien has found a way to make yarn and Hawaii work! Her yarn is thoughtfully crafted, and I am proud to be able to share her story with you in this space. Enjoy!

This passionate, all consuming, devoted obsession I have with knitting and yarn, when did it start? I recall a fascination with twigs and leaves that began in childhood, coupled with a curiosity that led me to explore the far reaches of gardens and fields, as well as the dusty cobwebbed corners of attics and basements, always looking for, and usually finding, unexpected treasures. Then one day I discovered an unfinished pair of argyle socks hidden in a box found tucked away in my grandparent’s garage. I remember running into the house to find my grandmother, and asking her if I could keep them. She let me have the entire box, with all it’s contents, and I felt as if I’d been given the Crown Jewels. From that moment on I was completely and utterly enchanted with knitting. The thin bone needles and gossamer yarn appeared as magical allies, inspiring a love of the craft that has deepened into amazing realms over the years, present today as a deceptively deep and completely encompassing meditative endeavor.

An avid reader as a girl, my young mind fell in love with traditional practices; shepherding, woolgathering, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting. It become apparent that there was a time when learning a craft or art was as easy as asking a grandmother or grandfather, or someone nearby, to ‘teach us how.’ In many parts of the world this still happens; time honored traditions are lovingly passed down father to son, mother to daughter, so on and so forth. Although she didn’t knit, my own grandmother was an extraordinary seamstress, and taught me how to sew on an old black Singer sewing machine. I can still see her hands helping mine guide the fabric under the presser foot, as I learned how different weights of fabric called for different weights of thread, and sometimes even different needles. Over the years, under her loving and patient tutelage, this translated into being able to discern the proper tools for different tasks, even those that seemingly had nothing to do with fabric and fiber. She wove life lessons into her sewing instructions, and through her gentle kindness she helped to soften my fiery nature.

 Later, as I pursued a university education, I fell back on my love of knitting to fund my way through school, working in a knitting and needlepoint shop selling yarns and fibers, designing sweaters, and teaching weekly knitting classes. It never occurred to me to take this up as my primary occupation until years later. After raising children, I had a brief opportunity to raise two sheep, a mother and daughter, delighting in their comic adventures. The raw wool they provided led to learning how to clean and card from the members of a local hand weaver’s guild, where I also fulfilled a long held desire to learn how to spin yarn on both a spindle and spinning wheel. Using some beautiful purchased wool and silk, I spun a gossamer lace yarn, dyed it to match mosses and ferns growing in the back yard, then knit it into Carol Feller’s Trousseau shawl for a beloved friend in England. From start to finish, a childhood dream come true!

Today, when I take a moment to contemplate the magical role of thread and yarn, it becomes apparent that even though we no longer need to engage in the traditional crafts of our great grandmothers and grandfathers, doing so can provide us with many surprising benefits. When I pick up an antique bone crochet hook, or a pair of highly polished stainless steel knitting needles, start my wheel spinning, or warp a loom, there is an immediate connection with another craftsman. Pick up a skein of natural fiber yarn and we’re looped into the land. Cotton and linen root us to bountiful plants. Wool, alpaca, cashmere, angora and camel connect us to animals who are loved and cared for, who walk the land under a vast sky, providing us with rich and beautiful fibers to clothe and warm our bodies. For me, all of this serves to slow my mind and bring me into the present moment, as I find knitting, weaving, spinning and crocheting to innately be deeply meditative endeavors.

 Over the years I’ve taught many a person to knit, and have always loved the connections made, the joy experienced, and the outstanding hand-made items produced. But there is more that goes on than meets the eye, and for me that is where the real magic happens. As with all ancient arts, these traditions and skills have a silent language, power, and potency that are mystically veiled, and only revealed through years of practice. As they should be. Many initiated knitters, crocheters, weavers and spinners know whereof I speak. But in the everyday world, these things aren’t spoken of; they’re revealed slowly over time, and through experience, until they’ve been woven into our skin and bones, and are simply known.

This is most visible to me when I’m working on a project and then suddenly realize that something is wrong. The stitch count is off, or it’s obvious that even though I thought I was paying attention to the  pattern, it’s equally obvious that I must have been off with the faeries. Knitting in hand, there is the opportunity to gaze at the past by examining the stitches, to see motion and intention made visible by the trail of yarn locked into interwoven loops and whorls. Then, doing what isn’t possible in the everyday world, I can undo the past, destroy and uncreate my mistake, and rework it up to perfection. I often think that this corresponds to some area of my life, some karmic pattern or habit that I’ve been able to absolve through my love and practice of knitting. Needles and yarn drop me into a place of mystery, allow me to tap into the amazing world of shared ancestral wisdom and joy, accessing that which in reality cannot be taught, only willingly caught.

Readers’ Choice: Indie Yarn Dyers

I hate to gloat, but if you’re buried in snow, pelted by sleet, drug down by the Dark, Dark, Dark days, or just generally cold…well, I am living it up somewhere warm and sunny.

And I just might not come home. #endlessvacation

Because for the first time in WEEKS, my hands are finally warm and don’t ache.

Among other benefits.

(Hey River Nights by Knitley Road)

Don’t worry. I didn’t abandon you entirely. I have left you with a fabulous Yarn Shopping Opportunity. (I have yet to meet a knitter who doesn’t love to shop for yarn…)

Thank you to everyone for your fabulously supportive responses to my Proclamation that 2017 is the Year of the Indie Dyer. I am glad you all are on board.

(Worsted Merino Chartreuse by Allison Barnes Collection)

Many thanks to readers who were kind enough to chime in with their favorite indie dyers! I have compiled everyone’s input into a list (below, in no particular order) with hyperlinks to webpages. Shop away!

There is also a second list of some of the yarn dyers I have made connections with and hope to collaborate with later this year. Please check out their sites as well!

(Blood Orange Superwash Sock by Dye Monkey Yarns)

Reader Suggested:

Long Dog Yarn

Fiber and Hue

LoloDidIt

Supernatural Yarns

Hobbledehoy

Moonlight and Laughter

Kindred Red

(Unicorn Sprinkles by Fiber and Hue)

My Peeps so Far:

Allison B Collection

Knitley Road

Beloved Yarn

Simply Ewe Fiberworks

Dye Monkey Yarns

(Pink Champagne Lace by Simply Ewe Fiberworks)

**NOTE: All photo credits revert back to the indie dyers and are used here for positive promotional purposes only. Please consider supporting these fiber artists next time you are buying yarn. Shops are listed in random order. I have not yet tried any of these yarns but very much look forward to doing so soon!

Getting Ready to Launch

The year has been off to a crazier-than-normal start–a flurry of work, remodeling and painting up to my eyeballs, and, now, packing.

It’s kind of like I am picking up in the middle of a hurricane, leaving the mess in situ, preserving my disastrous life like a time capsule of chaos. At least until I get home and the storm resumes. Paint, fix, work, and maybe sleep.

Knitting?

Well…it’s been quieter than normal here, which is a bit ironic considering I have BIG PLANS for this space this year. But, they’ll have to wait a bit. My New Year just might start…in April, I am guessing (hoping!).

Thanks for sticking with me.

I have, however, PACKED my knitting. I’ve got 1,600 yards (1,463 m) of fingering/sock weight yarn to keep me busy for the next 2 1/2 weeks. That should be enough for at least one light pink cowl (hopefully two), a pair of stripy socks, and a pair of orange Emergency Socks, in case I actually make it through the first three skeins. Or, in case I lose/break/ruin a knitting project.

Best to be over prepared.

My toe nails are freshly painted and bags are (mostly) packed. Reed keeps sneaking all his worldly possessions into his own little suitcase, out of fear we’ll never come home. Thus, I am unpacking at a rate not dissimilar to the rate at which I am actually packing.

Otherwise, I am behind on pretty much everything.

Returning calls? Nope (sorry, Grandma).

Cleaning the house? (Dirt? What dirt?)

Saying something to my child other than No, Did you pee?, Did you eat?, Did you wash your hands? I am counting to three and that’s it!, I said NO!!!

Also, no.

Like I said, it’s a hurricane here in this mad-dash out the door to the airport.

I so look forward to that finally making it onto the plane (a red eye, no less), settling into my seat, closing my eyes, and waking up somewhere warmer.

(Did I mention I LOATHE winter weather?)

The good news is I did manage to figure out a REAL Provisional Cast On for the first time ever, after having borrowed a crochet hook from my dearest knitting friend (I possessed known of my own). I goofed the first try by twisting my join (of course) and was off to a slow start. I still question the number of stitches I decided on (always! why?!?!), but I am moving forward anyway. Nothing will stop me now.

As to where I am going…

Keep your eye on Facebook and Instagram for clues. It’ll be like Where’s Waldo for Knitters.

I will give you a few hints, because I suck at keeping secrets. It’s warm (duh), there are monkeys, and people will be speaking Spanish/Espanol.

I have a couple little tidbits of knitting joy lined up for you while I am gone. Otherwise, it’ll be quiet around these parts. Just know I will be thinking of you as I sip my tropical cocktails and commune with monkeys. (I only hope the monkeys don’t scurry off with my knitting…)

Knit on, dear friends. Knit on.

Year of the Indie Yarn Dyer

We all must lift each other up.

‘Cause no one else is going to do it.

If economic statistics hold true, there isn’t a single person who will read this post who is wealthy in any sort of real sense. In fact, most of you are broke, in debt, and possibly a paycheck away from not being able to pay rent. Or the mortgage. You buy your groceries with a credit card. Sometimes.

Or all the time.

A handful of you are lucky. You’re in the middle. Life is okay. Maybe you’re even retired or actually making ends meet comfortably.

Here’s the deal.

It’s a dog eat dog world out there. And it isn’t getting any better. In fact, the math is straightforward on this issue.

It’s getting worse.

Every day, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

And that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. You’ll be spending the next decade of your life trying to decide what to pay first: the electricity bill or the yarn bill.

(I say go with the yarn bill…)

Since I am the dictator (Duchess sounds better, actually…) of this very small corner of the world/Internet, I’ve self-declared 2017 the Year of the Indie Dyer.

Across this country, and probably across many others, there are women and families who have turned their kitchens, garages, yards, and who-know-what-else into yarn dying studios.

Because they like yarn.

And color.

They have passion. Talent.

They’ve started fledgling businesses.

To make money.

Because they NEED money. As do we all.

Some of these shops have taken off. It’s working. They are actually selling yarn.

Most of them are fledgling, obscure, and lost in the morass of Etsy and Instagram, waiting to be discovered. Growing slowly, but likely too slowly to pay any bills in the meantime.

We MUST lift each other up. Knitters, let’s support these yarn dyers!

Am I still going to buy yarn from brand labels in my favorite yarn shops and online?

Yes.

They’re great businesses, many of them promoting amazing ethics and choices I support in this ever-globalizing economy.

However…

I am also putting intention behind supporting indie dyers. The very meager bit of economic fuel I inject into the nation’s yarn economy probably won’t make much of a difference.

But all of us together?

Well, together, we’ll make a slightly bigger difference.

So far, I’ve been buying all of my sock yarn from Etsy shops (says the knitter who just cast off a pair of Knit Picks Hawthorne socks earlier today…). I’ve literally gone on Etsy, searched for “sock yarn,” scrolled around a bit and picked a random shop.

Is it hard not to feel the yarn and squish it?

Yes.

Do I hate paying for shipping?

Absolutely.

Was my first skein of yarn soft enough?

Truthfully, no.

It’s been a little hit and miss with the quality, I’ll be honest. And I wish the Etsy shops I’ve browsed have been more upfront about what they are using for a base. It is front China or domestic sheep? Are they buying white yarn from Knit Picks and dying it, or is there something more going on? I do not know.

But I wish I did.

In the end, you know what? They’re socks! My feet are going to be okay.

I’ve also made a point to collaborate with indie yarn dyers** as I develop new patterns this year. I’ve made good connections with several talented dyers so far, and I can’t wait to introduce you to them soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Have you discovered a great indie dye shop online that you LOVE? Soft yarn, good colors, and great folks? Please share in the comments!

Year of the Indie Yarn Dyer. We all must lift each other up!

I just stumbled upon this skein of 100% merino fingering* from the Iria Yarn Company. It’s their Great Pumpkin colorway. Who doesn’t need orange socks? I mean, seriously!

Gotta jet, knitters. Etsy browsing is calling my name!

*If you are an indie dyer and would like to collaborate on a project or other such adventure, please be in touch!

**Sock knitters, what’s the scoop on nylon in sock yarn? Do you like it or not? I thought the yarn I was buying wasn’t soft enough because it was a nylon blend…But then I bought a skein of Knit Picks Stroll, which also is a nylon blend and is SOFT. So now I am just confused on nylon and its potential impact on that buttery yarn feeling that I seek.

My 2017 Bucket List of Must Knits

A knitter's seriously awesome bucket list of must knits for 2017. Carefully curated for your entertainment pleasure by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

I’ve been such a hot knitting mess lately! In the last few days, I’ve made so many mistakes!

  • I’ve spend an absurd amount of time picking out a frogged mitt, stitch by stitch, wondering why it was taking SO long before I realized I was trying to unravel the WRONG end of my mitt.
  • I also knit up an entire heal flap with an extra four (maybe six?) stitches stolen from the non-heal flap stitches before realizing the error in my ways. I thought about ripping back but decided hek no! It’s a sock for goodness sake. And, no, the socks aren’t identical as a result. The incongruity adds character. Or evidence of incompetence. Hard to say.
  • Oh, and I knit a cowl that wasn’t supposed to roll, fold, or in anyway misbehave in all those aforementioned ways that drive me nuts…but, despite my carefully selected knit/purl strategy, the darn things still rolled AND folded. It’s blocking now, so perhaps I will be saved by the water. Or perhaps not.

I figure if I haven’t jabbed my eye out with a knitting needle, all is well.

I’m determined nonetheless and newly armed with a worthy  bucket list of must knits for the upcoming year, mistakes or no. You can’t have fun if you don’t play the game.

Here’s what’s on my bucket list for 2017. What’s on yours?

Indulge Myself and Knit a Tee (or Possibly Three?!?!)

I have two knitted tees that fit well, and I wear them a ton. I’m keen to work a third one into my wardrobe. I have my list of potential options narrowed down to these five, although I already swatched Riverton with my stashed yarn of choice (Swans Island fingering). In classic form, the gage didn’t match, so really I am down to four potential candidates…or I have to buy more yarn.

Drool Over Texture by Hannah Fettig

I still haven’t finished knitting every.single.pattern from Home & Away (but I will), but that isn’t going to stop me from buying Hannah Fettig’s new book, Texture (available for pre-order now), if only to look at all the pretty pictures. I don’t buy too many knitting books (does anyone?), but I will buy this one. I am still determined to knit Lesley this year!

Use My Scraps

If for no other purpose than to declutter my hall closet, my scraps will be put to good use this year. I keep my stash to a minimum, yet it has been taking up an extraordinary amount of space. I have come to realize it is all scraps. I’ve parted with the undesirables and spent a bit of time bagging them up by weight or like yarns. My collection of Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted (including frogging a design-fail TRIO of mitts…I of course knit two lefts before knitting the right…whoops) doesn’t exactly scream coordinating shades for a colorwork project, but I’ve decided to knit them all together into a cowl anyway. Pashmina Worsted is simply too luxurious to let linger in the hall closet any longer.

My 2017 Bucket List of Must Knits by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

Knit Something White and Sparkly

Given I’ve sworn off grey for the new year, I’m left to seek new neutrals. I’m very drawn to white and cream of late, which is of course a horrible idea because (A) I have a four year old and my entire life seems to be coated in a layer of butter and jelly (B) my project will likely be stained and dirty before it even comes off the needles and (C) if I do manage to knit this to-be cowl without smudging the thing in grime, it will surely be smattered during its first wear.

And I thought I was an optimist.

Note this project is further doomed (yet still irresistible) because my skein of Isager smacks dangerously of LACE WEIGHT even though it is technically fingering. Further note I have sworn off lace weight. I asked the yarn store owner if my lace weight would become fingering when I worked it up with the second sequin skein, only to hear the reply: [punctuated pause] well, light fingering. With significant emphasis on “light.” But seriously…there’s sequins, people!!! Who can resist a little sparkle? Given I am that nearing 40, adult woman who wishes I could wear a glitter tee from the little girls section of Target EVERY DAY, surely you can understand how the sequins just HAVE TO BE.

I will further note here that it is dreadfully ironic that I selected the WHITE shade of Isager given the gorgeous color pallette. (Reminds me of the shades from Quince. Quite classy). Yet I passed them all up for…white.

My 2017 Bucket List of Must Knits by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

Knit Reed Another Sweater

This one might be a bit premature, given the first sweater is happily tolerated but not requested. I really enjoyed knitting Reed’s first sweater. It warmed my heart. And it came out so CUTE! I don’t have another pattern specifically in mind, but I know one will grab me soon enough.

Learn Brioche

Last year, my goal was to learn colorwork. I wouldn’t say I “learned” the discipline, but I tried it and worked up my first colorwork projects. This year, I have brioche on my list. I will probably be signing up for this Craftsy class when I am ready to expand my brain. I don’t have a particular pattern in my queue, but I am sure you’ll give me lots of hot tips for beginning brioche projects in the comments.

More Socks

I really enjoy knitting socks during those in-between times where I need something easy for the ten minutes I steal here and there. This year, I am making a point to grab my sock yarn from indie dyers via Etsy and similar sites (minus the two pairs of Knit Picks socks I am currently working up…eh hem…). I plan to espouse more on this whole Year of the Indie Dyer bit soon enough, so stay posted for that forthcoming oratory. In all honestly, I’ve been knitting up one vanilla pair after the other, but I do hope I can make it through some of these free patterns this year as well.

Designs of My Own

I’m still hard at it, oftentimes ending up with more misses than hits. I plan to continue designing this year, working with some of my favorite (and new!) mainstream yarn brands as well as developing partnerships with indie dyers (look for more on that soon!). I also plan to start systematically going through my earliest patterns and revamping them to be up to snuff with my current standards for pattern releases. Slow and steady…that’s me!

In case you missed it, the 201 6 Bucket List of Must Knits is here.

 

Reed’s Sweater: Locksley by Emily Ringelman

Locksley by Emily Ringelman. Knit by Andrea @ This Knitted Life in Swish Worsted DK (Knit Picks).

One of the many things about having kids is sometimes they make you surprise even yourself. As in, you’re out the door, gracing your back yard with your p.j.-clad presence shortly after 7:00 a.m. to send your son shooting down the normally gently sloped back yard on his sled, laughing as he chants at tremendous volume, Go Super Reed! Go Super Reed!

Whereas normally, you’d be (a) still in bed or, worse case, (b) calming sipping perfectly concocted early grey tea from the warm and dry locale of the living room sofa.

To Reed’s defense, we don’t get snow often where we live, so it is quite exciting and special when so much as a mere inch (2.54 cm) accumulates.

Locksley by Emily Ringelman. Knit by Andrea @ This Knitted Life in Swish Worsted DK (Knit Picks).

I had this pattern (Locksley by Emily Ringelman via Knittin Little) in my queue for more than a year before I finally got around to it. This is the first sweater I have knit for Reed (bad mom!) and my first venture into colorwork (brave mom!).  After a month of solid knitting, I was well on track for a Christmas sweater to gift my darling child who still kicks me all night long (we often still sleep together), demonstrates highly selective hearing anytime I ask him to do anything that doesn’t involve receiving a yummy treat, and throws fits every time I utter the word “no.”

Kids. Gotta love ’em.

I chose to knit up the Size 6, which seemed to be working out perfectly. I had a hunch the sweater would be big enough for room to grow but not too big to be unwearable. This required purchasing 8 skeins of Knit Picks Swish Worsted at around $35*  (plus the two skeins of random sock yarn needed to bring the total up to $50 to qualify for free shipping). (And I had enough yarn left to knit up a corresponding hat! Stay posted for future pom pom, forthcoming shortly!!!)

Like I said, everything was going perfectly.

Until I ran into one glitch.

Because there is always a glitch.

I hit sleeve #2 (fully engrossed in a horrible case of Second Sleeve Syndrome) and ran out of the main color. I wasn’t even close to finishing the sweater.

Problem.

Now, I will admit I didn’t keep particularly close track of my yarn for this project. It went places with me. It made various appearances for photo shoots and such. It was stored in the hall closet which is about half as organized as an over-cluttered Good Will.

I had a Strong Hunch I had indeed bought enough yarn but couldn’t seem to FIND my last skein.

I think.

I asked Reed if he had it, because he has an odd little habit of taking things he deems might be IMPORTANT to you and storing them in odd places. Like his backpack.

Except, thanks to the generosity of three sets of grandparents, he now has not one but THREE backpacks, each well stocked with various four-year-old necessities.

So I did what any wise mom would do: I searched all three backpacks.

No luck.

I scanned the hall closet as best as my anxiety level could tolerate.

No missing skein.

I triple checked my knitting bag and checked on top of the fridge (you never know).

Still nothing.

For all I know, that skein of yarn is rotting somewhere along the side of the road in some remote corner of Humboldt County.

Could happen.

This left me no choice but to order a Replacement Skein,which wouldn’t have been a big deal ($5 or so USD)…except I then felt Completely Compelled to also purchase an additional $65 of yarn** from the Knit Picks site to qualify for free 2-day shipping and meet my Christmas sweater deadline (which I did ultimately achieve!)

Not the most cost-effective choice. But worth it.

Locksley by Emily Ringelman. Knit by Andrea @ This Knitted Life in Swish Worsted DK (Knit Picks).

(If you are noticing that odd strangulation mark under Reed’s chin, it’s not because I lost my temper. I swear. There was a collision between Reed’s head and a piece of furniture during an indoor scooter riding session. Truly.)

I’ve already let go of any expectation of keeping this sweater neat and clean. Reed managed to snag it (big time) in under an hour. I do remove it before meals but otherwise expect it will quickly be covered in odd, sticky substances and quite possibly littered with holes. I can tell the single ply Swish Worsted is going to pill and shed like crazy (it’s barely been worn and is already FUZZY), which may inspire the much needed purchase of a gleaner.

Now that I’ve finished this first sweater, I am itching to knit him a second. They’re just so cute! Send pattern suggestions my way, please!

*I hadn’t knit with Knit Picks yarn before and will admit to feeling a little snooty about it whenever my Knit Picks-loving friend raved about her latest score from the well-priced site. I am pleased to say I quite LOVED the Swish Worsted  and would use it again any day. It was very soft to work with.

**If you’ve done the math here, you will note I somehow managed to spend $120 to knit a $35 sweater. (But I will someday enjoy two pairs of socks a something big and colorful in Swish DK.)

General pattern notes: this was a great pattern! I was able to follow it without mods and didn’t screw up too much. The sweater is knit in the round, bottom up, before separating for the front and back. The collar is knit last by picking up stitches and working some short rows. I was weary about this but followed the instructions and seemed to have survived mostly unscathed. It’s super cute, although I have to remind Reed to “make a fist” with his hands when I pull it on/off so he doesn’t snag the strands in the sleeves (which are numerous.)

I hope to see you over at the Yarn Along this week. I am still reading This Must be The Place and like it…although late night knitting has infringed on page turning. Sigh.

Knitting in the New Year

Knitting in the New Year. Resolutions for knitters from Andrea @ This Knitted Life.

A new year means new knitting projects. As it would happen, I just happen to have found myself BETWEEN projects at present. Reed’s sweater is done and I don’t have solid plans for much else. Although I have a pair of vanilla socks on the needles that have been getting loads of action.

This must be why some people plan ahead.

I did spontaneously work up a swatch of fingering last night, hoping the yarn I had in mind for this tee would do the trick. No luck. It wasn’t a match unless I want to do a bunch of math or take a leap of faith. Neither has much appeal.

I had harbored some aspirations (delusions?) of designing a color work cowl. I swatched up My Brilliant Idea last night only to conclude the result looked like an Easter egg gone awry.

It wasn’t pretty.

Trust me.

Not even a cool Instagram filter can make my pastel swatch seem hip and knit-worthy, let alone an entire cowl. (Even the Easter Bunny would have seen this swatch and quickly hopped the other direction, offended.)

I am not afraid to admit some of my ideas truly suck, convoluted somewhere between the Idea Stage and the Implementation Stage.

Future colorwork is officially on hold. At least until I can pick out yarn In Person. The computer screen just isn’t working for me right now.

Not only am I out of Immediate Projects in my queue… but… (gasp) I am kind of out of yarn. I have bags and bags of scraps and a spare skein of sock yarn. My hall closet is bursting with half skeins of this and that, sealed in Ziploc bags and not at all enticing.

I guess this means I didn’t do half bad on last year’s Resolution #1: Knit the Stash.

Three cheers for me.

Sadly my other resolutions from last year didn’t come to fruition, which means I can just add those back to the list for this year and forego the exercise of coming up with new lofty knitting goals that I may or may not achieve.

I’m keeping it simple.

For the time being.

(I give myself a solid week…)

In the meantime, here I am on New Years Eve with some gradient worsted (Spincycle Independence) from the last of my stash, my favorite stitch dictionary, and an extra sharp pair of needles. I am not yet sure what I am casting on. Maybe it will knit up to something fabulous. Or, as it sometimes goes, it will knit up to something dreadful.

There’s only one way to find out.

Happy New Year, my dear knitters.

May 2017 find you healthy, surrounded by those you love, and brimming with nice wool.

And Here We Are


The final days of the year.

2016.

Nearly over.

My child. Newly four.

My hair. Increasingly grey.

I have never been a super crazy holiday person. I recall being irritated by Christmas songs even at a young age. The monotony of Jingle Bells getting on my nerves, practicing such simple lyrics over AND OVER again for grade school pageant preparation.

I don’t overly decorate our house. There is no wreath making party. No mantle for hanging holly. No mistletoe. We boast nothing more than  a simple tree decorated only with birds and a few modest snowflakes (…there were a few fish, but Reed broke them in his redecorating efforts…) and a menorah painstaking placed out of reach of fire hazards and Reed (tricky to find a qualifying location).

I do enjoy gifting but found it daunting this year, even the store bought variety. Unlike years past, I only gifted a couple pairs of socks that I had manged to knit up during the summer and tucked away. There was no frenzy of stitching. No sleepless nights for the last minute mittens.

Done that. Been there. No thanks.

I’m no grinch, but if there was a Grinch Assistant, I just might qualify.

Except for Reed.

Maybe it’s just that magical age, but Reed LOVED the holidays this year. Loved them! And not just for the pile of gifts tucked under the tree at an elevation not dissimilar to Mt. Everest (all for him) but because of cutting down the tree in the crisp, cold air with his dad before decorating his timbered haul, which he nearly did all on his own (as evidenced by all the birds hanging upside down on the branches instead of nestling atop the branches…). He repositioned each ornament just so NUMEROUS times, his exacting commentary endless throughout each maneuver.

And it wasn’t just the tree.

It was the lights, hung askew on all the houses, so magical to him while tacky to me.

It was the gingerbread house window stickers gifted to him (please no, I thought), which he precisely stuck to each and every window in the house, electing not to group them all onto a single window, as I had so wisely recommended. Instead he spread the joy evenly throughout the house, applying his finger prints to each and every window without discrimination.

Or the god-aweful elf hats (think: Santa hat with giant elf ears), one of which he proudly wore to his pre-school holiday concert. Reed: delighted. Me: wondering where in the heck I was going to hide those things after Christmas. (They are still splayed about his bedroom floor…)

You know the worse part of it all?

The Christmas music.

Now, think ill of me if you must, but I am that person that groans when I hear holiday music overtake the radio stations each December. I IMMEDIATELY change the station and find few things worse than those days right before Christmas when it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a carol-free station.

Reed, displaying a genetic variant clearly not from my own bloodline, LOVES Christmas music.

Emphatically so.

He quizzed us on the plot in Rudolph the Reindeer and demanded to know all the reindeer names (I had to Google…Cupid? Really? For a reindeer name?)

He requested it be played whenever I was listening to normal music. No mom. Play RUDOLPH.

Seriously.

And, as a testament to my love for his grimy little fingers, I played Rudolph. And barely even minded the intrusion into what might otherwise be considered a musical offense.

That’s the thing about a spark. It lights up everything around it.

As for knitting…well…

Reed’s little sweater is done. I still need to get photos for you guys! I made him wear it to our family holiday dinner on Monday, and he had a snag half as long as his arm in under an hour. I need to fix that! The good news is it fits and probably will fit for another year or so (room to grow but not too much room). I had a little issue with loosing a skein of yarn, but I will tell you about that later.

I’ve used the left over yarn to knit up a corresponding hat, which I plan to block tonight. I hope it fits. I reduced the number of cast on stitches at the last moment because it “looked too big” even though I had done the gauge math to the contrary. I should have stuck with my math. As always.

I finished a pair of socks and started another.

(All the photos are over on Instagram if you want to keep up…)

And I’m plotting. I was so focused on knitting Reed’s sweater that I hadn’t done much thinking about my next project. Although I think it will have lots of colors.

Because I am dreaming of a Bright New Year.

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