Monthly Archives

June 2015

June Reads

How is it that June has come and gone? Do I look older?

I feel older.

Way older.

I just had one of those parenting fail moments in Target where Reed refused to sit in the cart or hold my hand, stripped clothes from hangers every time I turned my back for a millisecond, and then proceeded to run from me through The Entire Store.

Not to mention the yelling.

Oh, the dirty looks. All I wanted was a cheap pair of sunglasses because I somehow managed to lose my other two cheap pairs of sunglasses this month.

I would have just left, but I have been trying I get to Target for a month. Oh, the joys of living in the middle of nowhere.

And how is it that out of a hundred pairs of cheap sunglasses, I couldn’t find a single pair that was remotely flattering? I finally settled on a pair that are so ugly that they almost qualify as cute. Almost. Mostly they are just So Ugly. And twelve bucks.

I am never leaving the house again. Not until Reed is four. According to the lady at the Thai restaurant, that is when things supposedly get better.

It’s only online shopping from here on out…

I made it through three books this month. I was inspired to purchase Judy Blume’s new book, and the other two were randoms from the library.

    

Leaving Time was my favorite. I couldn’t put it down. It took kind of a weird turn toward the end that I wasn’t expecting. I could have done without that. Otherwise, I was really absorbed. It was the first time I have read Jodi Picoult. I understand she has quite the following.

I was excited for the new Judy Blume book. It was good but not amazing, and I am still not quite sure what the point of it all was. But are we ever sure of the point of anything?

I jut started a new book that I just can’t put down, but I will tell you about that next month. The intrigue…

Madelinetosh Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to Madelinetosh and all who participated. The winners have now received their yarn. Congratulations and happy knitting.

     

Remember earlier this month when I professed my unwavering love for Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light?

My yarn crush continues.

Big time.

The fabulous team at Madelinetosh Hand Dyed Yarns was kind enough to sponsor three skeins of their Tosh Merino Light to be gifted to three lucky blog readers.

I know, right.

Super fabulous.

I LOVE the colors they sent. The soft grey is Smokestack, the gentle pink is Rose, and the light beige is Antique Lace. I have fallen deeply in love with Smokestack in particular and will definitely be buying a few skeins to knit up a nice top…Although it probably won’t be until next year at the rate I have been going on the projects I have slated for this year. Smokestack, Rose, and Antique Lace really go well together…in case you are in the market for three shades to work into the same piece for a little colorwork.

This is the thing about Tosh Merino Light:

1. It comes in 89 colors. Yes, 89. And every color is so STUNNING, which is of course what spurned my love affair in the first place. If I was stranded on a desert island with just Tosh Merino Light (endless supply of all the colorways) and no other yarn whatsoever, I would be happy. Additional requirements: rum, mango tree, and sun block. Oh, and fresh water. Knitting needles too. Obviously. And my family. Double obviously.

  1. It is so soft and touchable. Like yarn butter. But not greasy. When I shared my love for Tosh Merino Light last time, a fellow knitter commented that the Pashmina is even softer. I can’t wait to try it. And that’s the thing about Madelinetosh Yarns: there are so many different blends! How will I even knit them all?!?

  2. I love the weight of the yarn. It creates a perfect fabric. Not too heavy. Not too light. Just knitted heaven.

I know there are so many great yarns available these days (high quality, responsibly sourced, beautiful…), and I can’t wait to try them all. That said, if you haven’t had a chance to try Tosh Merino Light, please do.

You can thank me later.

I will gladly be shipping these three beauties to three separate lucky winners at random. To enter, please leave a comment below. Limited to residents of the US and Canada. (Yes, I am adding a little international shipping to the mix…why the hek not…).  Deadline to enter: midnight, Friday, July 3rd, Pacific Standard Time.

Good luck knitters.

Life Dispatch, Vol. 1

Oh knitters, life has been so crazy lately. Like crazy crazy. Good things. Less good things. Just life. I have been trying to stay present (not always my best virtue) and savoir every moment. I only get this life once, and these days spent with my young child already feel so fleeting. Each day I aspire to be My Best Self. It’s my new thing.

Some days I do better than others.

I am starting a new series of blog posts (weekly? monthly?) that are about, well, life. Not necessarily a hum drum log of journal entries or anything heavy like that. More like a spattering of the random things that go zigging and zagging through my brain, my days, and, generally, my life.

Welcome to my world.

Mwah ha ha.

1. A friend of mine recently taught me to rim my bloody mary’s with kosher salt muddled with fresh thyme. Apparently this is a big thing at a famous bar somewhere in New Orleans (I forget where, of course). THIS ROCKED MY WORLD. I will never go back.  YOU MUST TRY THIS. Luckily, I have oodles of fresh thyme growing in hanging baskets on the front porch…AND I just picked the first tomato out of the summer garden, like, five minutes ago. Any guesses on what I am having with breakfast tomorrow? And to think, some moms bring iced tea to Friday morning play group. Shame.

2. After wandering around with unpainted, pathetic looking toe nails for two weeks, I finally took five minutes to sneak into the bathroom, lock the door, and bust out a rather pitiful toe nail paint job. Better than nothing, right? They were almost dry when Reed stepped on my big toe. His toe print is now immortalized on my right foot, at least until I manage to repaint. (I always aspire to paint my finger nails…but I have learned I do far too many dishes and much too much garden digging for that to be a worth while endeavor. This, however, does not stop me from drooling all over all the pretty nail polish colors every time I have to dash into the drug store. Because, yes, a woman does need twelve different shades of magenta polish, thank you very much.)

3. All I do is garden. For those of you who don’t garden, all gardening really is is pulling weeds. If anybody ever tells you any different, they are lying.  Despite my non-stop daily toil in the Weed Irradiation Department, there are still SO many weeds. All the same, the lavender is happy and the pomegranate bushes are blooming like crazy. I love that I live somewhere where we can grow pomegranates, olives, pineapple guavas, kiwis and other weird fruits. You just can’t say that about Alaska, now can you.

On the flip side, we don’t have any moose. (Remind me to tell you about the time I moved to Wyoming, saw a moose, and proceeded to spend the next two hours wondering why on earth there was a camel living in Wyoming.)

    Above: these are the pomegranate flowers, in case you are wondering…

4. I have never been a big Taylor Swift fan, but recently I have found I can’t stop listening to the Taylor Swift Pandora station. I don’t know what inspired the switch, but now I just can’t get enough of all that cheesy pop/country girl music. Maybe this is my way of pretending I am younger than I really am. Denial manifests itself on multiple fronts.

5. Remember mix tapes? I keep wanting to make one for all my girlfriends filled with all the pop songs (see #4 above) I can’t get enough. As if I had enough free time to curate such an endeavor. There must be an app for that now, right?

6. Summer TV always sucks. Why is that? Luckily I have so little time to watch much anyway, and I just can’t bring myself to pay extra for HBO and Showtime. I’ve been getting my entertainment fix from old fashioned Netflix DVDs…binge watching House of Cards and Masters of Sex whenever I can. The final season of The Newsroom arrives tomorrow. I CANNOT wait.

7. Reed started pre-school this week. Apparently when you are 2 1/2 and your parents are paying good hard cash, the school year can start in June instead of after Labor Day in September. He was so excited and waved me away on his first day. I’m fine mom. Pick me up later.  I spied on him through the classroom window, balling. My little baby is all grown up.

8. Reed and I just finished watching Tarzan.  We were all curled up on the couch, just the two of us. Best date night ever.

9. I keep telling myself I need to up my exercise regime. Even though knitting should technically count as exercise. I think: it is not too late to be in the best shape of your life.

It is too late.

10. Do you ever take pause in your life and ask yourself: how in the hek did I get here? And then you reflect back on all the little (and big) choices you made along the way and piece it all together…the story of your life? That’s the trippy thing about life. You can’t go back. Only forward. Cliche but true. At what point, for example, is it too late for a major career change? (Oprah would probably say: never!)

The Great Unraveling

I must have jinxed myself when I was getting all excited to begin knitting Waterlily before I completely finished Dolores.

There I was, stitch 100 out of 105 on the three needle bind off stitches for the first shoulder, when I noticed a bind off stitch wasn’t quite perfect. To be honest, it was good enough. No one one would have noticed except me. But I went all Super-Knitter and figured it would be no big deal to tink back a few stitches to fix the goof and make the bind off seam PERFECT.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Ha.

The laugh was on me, because this happened.


In case you can’t tell from my crap photo, that is a thorough and complete unraveling. It happened so fast. The lace went POOF on me. After thirty minutes of tinkering, I knew I was doomed. It was over. Gone.

Done.

That night was sleepless. I knew I had only one option. A life line.

Two life lines, in fact. One for each half.

I made my peace with it early on, stayed relatively calm, and cried only intermittently. I didn’t even cuss.

And that is saying a lot for me.

In the end, I knew it was a good thing. There were a couple of spots in my lace that I wasn’t entirely happy with. I knew I could do better. This was the universe’s way of giving me my second chance after all.

Here is another piss poor photo of my life lines. There is just no way to make a life line look pretty. It would be like photographing a corpse for a cover shoot on Vanity Fair. Just. Not. Happening.


Now this is the first time I have been so desperate that I had to use a life line, and I won’t boast that I was able to pick up all the stitches from the same row.

I didn’t. Close, mostly.

I liken this to how seriously I have been taking my knitting lately. The dedication. The pursuit of… Hek, I don’t know what I am I pursuit of…a little freakin’ peace and joy in my life.

So, yes, I was desperate and used a life line.

Much like a sailor in a sinking boat dawns a survival suit and hopes for the best.

Or at least that is what I told myself.

And, truth be told, four or five hours later, I had my life lines in, yarn unraveled, stitches untwisted and back on the needles…all accounted for. FIVE HUNDRED AND TEN stitches.

Mercy.

Not five hours after that, I had the first half relaced and complete…and in another four hours or so, I estimate (pray) the second half will also be done.

My husband was so sympathetic and concerned about my plight. He made me tea, read me poetry to soothe my nerves, and offered to take care of Reed for an entire afternoon so I could catch up with my knitting.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Ha.

He didn’t even notice. Bless his heart.

I hope to finish next weekend. For reals this time.

Getting Ready for Waterlilly

Monday?!?! Already?  I am fresh off a weekend of camping that included exactly one hour of knitting time.

Tears. So many tears.

But, the scenery was great. And little Reed had an awesome time. (Yes, I just started once sentence with but and the next with and.  I think that is a thing now.)

We camped at MacKerricher State Park in Ft. Bragg, California. I highly recommend! A long four hour drive for us but worth it! Husband was in charge of the itinerary, so I didn’t get to go to the Mendocino Yarn Shop.

Don’t even get me started.

I am not quite done with Dolores…still need to seam and block…and assess the over all outcome. Could be great. Could be mediocre. There are a few places in the lace where it is not quite perfect. Gulp. Plus: will it fit and flatter?

(Does anything ever fit and flatter? Ha!)

All the same, I am getting ramped up for Waterlily. The yarn is out! I had hoped to swatch over the weekend, but alas it didn’t quite happen. DSC_0018

I did buy and read the pattern…actually I had to buy the entire Pom Pom Spring 2014. I was happy to see there were a couple other patterns in the issue I would also love to make.

At this rate, they may have to wait until My Next Life. What do you think the odds are that I will be reincarnated as a knitter? I can only hope…

 Source

Once I cast on, it looks like straight knitting to the Latvian braid that marks the lace transition. No waist shaping. I am looking forward to some simple, brainless stockinette and major Netflix binging.

The Secret to Counting Large Numbers of Stitches

<Congrats to Kristen for winning the giveaway. Kristen, I have sent you a message via Ravelry for your address…>

After infinite failed attempts trying to count large numbers of stitches…invariably foiled by a husband that urgently needs to know where his car keys are Right This Second (on stitch 353 of 355, no less), a toddler that has to go potty Right This Second, a phone ringing while said toddler is sleeping (I swore I turned that ringer off!), or simply my own wandering brain (grocery lists, bills to pay, places to someday visit when Husaband finally agrees to get on an air plane), or, of course, slipped fingers…

I have figured out The Secret.

It is quite simple, really. I don’t know why it took me so very many years to work out A System. There are only two steps. 

1. Don’t drink and count. Water is okay. Vodka is not. Especially if you are a light weight like me and feel the stresses of life lift off your shoulders three sips into a mild mojito. 

First count. Then make a cocktail. Seriously. This alone works wonders. 

2. Place a stitch marker every 50 stitches. Not the cute stitch markers that we all want to but off Etsy in droves…little lambs on loops, etc. 

None of that. 

Use the ugly cheap stitch markers that clasp. Or if you have cute stitch markers that clasp, fine. Just make sure they clasp. 

  
Count every 50 stitches (although you could adjust to count every 20, 30, what have you…depending on your total stitch count and mental acumen for the day…let’s be honest…some days are worse than others). Then clasp a marker around your needle. Count another 50 and repeat. (I don’t do this while knitting the row, although you could if you wanted to get tricky.)

This way, when your significant other suddenly needs to find the remote control because the game is about to start…and it is apparently too much to ask that this significant other (a) find the remote him/herself or (b) wait five minutes for you to finish, all hope is not last. Instead of starting from the beginning, at most you have to recount from the last marker or 50 stitches (better than 359 stitches). 

Or, if, heaven forbid, you reach the end and do not the have the correct number of stitches (I HATE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS!), you can recount each segment and narrow in on the error. 

When you are satisfied the remote has been located and you have the correct number of stitches, you can unclasp the stitch markers from your needle and carry on.

You’re welcome.

Also, I always count in twos. But you probably already knew that.

  

A Giveaway

 
Sunday evening already! 

I think Sunday night sleeplessness and anxiety is a real thing. I hate Sunday nights. Poor sleep. Pre-thinking about work. Why??? 

Too much stress. The planet is going to crack under all the pressure. 

I wish I were Super Mom and could pre-cook a work week’s worth of nutritious dinners on Sundays. That would make life sssoooooo much smoother during the week. 

But wait.

I am the mother of a two year old. It doesn’t matter what I cook. No one will eat it. I just pretend to serve balanced meals to alleviate the guilt and prove to myself That At Least I Tried. 

It could be worse.

Really I am just going to turn dinner into choclate pudding with raspberries every night. That is all I want to eat anyway. Occasionally sourdough toast with butter, but mostly chocolate and berries. Less dishes. No pots and pans. Everyone else can have frozen pizza.

In my dreams.

Also in my dreams: someone to clean my car (inside and out), someone to deep clean my fridge (can be the same person…I really don’t care as long as it isn’t me…), and someone to rub my neck. Ideally the neck rubber would be my husband, but I already know that is not happening.

Where is the love?

Speaking of love, I have some goodies to share either you. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a skein of Spud and Chloe sock yarn in a nice eggplanty shade of purple and a skein of Berroco Seduce in a pretty icey blue.

Now that we know I will not be offered the job to name shades of lip stick and nail polish, I wish you the best of weeks. May your knitting time be bountiful, uninterrupted, and without dropped stitches.

Same winner receives both goodies. Limited to US shipping only. Sorry. I will add international shipping options just as soon as I win the lottery.  Deadline to enter is this Wedsday, June 10th, 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. 

Madelinetosh, I love you

Now this may sound a little forward, considering we have never met. But Madelinetosh, I love you. Or rather, Amy Hendrix AKA The Force Behind Madelinetosh (TFBM), you rock.

In the past year, I have knit with nearly 13 skeins of Madelintosh Tosh Merino Light. That’s 5,460 yards, minus the leftovers below. Basically, with the exception of one large project, two skeins of the heavier Tosh Merino DK, and a random hat or two, I have ONLY knit with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the past year.

  
When I went to buy my yarn for my upcoming year’s projects, I prohibited myself from buying more and instead made myself buy other types of yarn…just to broaden my horizons.

It hurt.

I am not quite sure what got me hooked on Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light to begin with. I think I read about it on a few blogs, and I was curious. Then I saw some skeins in a couple of the local yarn stores. And I bought. En masse.

Then I went back for more.

I love all the colors. I swoon.

It knits so soft. Like yarn butter. But not greasy.

Obviously.

I did knit a Twist Shawl in the heavier DK (Williams Morn colorway). While I liked the DK, it wasn’t as touchable as the lighter Tosh Merino Light.

I didn’t even know until this week that Tosh Merino Light was superwash…Although, I must admit here, I have never machine washed anything I knit with superwash. I am too afraid. What if something bad happens? And I just can’t go back? Once it’s felted/shrunk/sad…it’s gone forever. I just don’t have the guts. That and I can’t keep track of which hand knits are superwash and which are hand wash…so they all get handwashed only.

Another example of my life devolving to the least common denominator.

My favorite colorway was Opaline. I used a few skeins for a Featherweight cardigan. I had a leftover fourth skein (I always overbuy…why?!?) that I used for my Twist Shawl pattern development and a cute little baby hat for a BFF.

I also bought four skeins of Alizarin. Three went to my Nanook, which came out a little too large due to my gage incompetence.  My fourth skein (of course!…more overestimating yardage requirements) went to my Nikita shawl pattern (now free on Ravelry!).

There was the skein of Golden Hickory for the two Twist Cowls. It’s not in the photo because I used every single last inch.

I purchased two skeins of Grey Garden at Websters in Ashland, Oregon, most of which went to my Super Easy Winterspun Shawlette pattern, also free on Ravelry. I have some leftover that will become someone’s cowl this holiday season. Never too early to plan.

The skein of Alabaster became my lacy delicious Tatianna fingerless glove pattern (free on Ravelry). Another skein of Tart was specially selected for my mom’s cowl. My mother is drawn to those rich jewel tone colors. The balance of both skeins are also dedicated to holiday projects.

Over 5,000 yards later. Here I am. A big fan.

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