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July 2015

July Reads

The end of July! Already! Yikes!

It has been such a busy month–the best kind of busy. Days filled with grazing the tomato patch, watching cucumbers vine up their trellis, and trying to catch a squirming two-year old to apply sunscreen.

Also, can you ship cucumbers through the mail? I have plenty to share. So many cucumbers need a home ASAP. I guess that is why the powers that be invented pickles. Sigh.

Okay knitters, it’s time to share July reads.

The second best thing to knitting is reading about knitting, right? I had’t read any of Stephanie’s books yet, but after reading At Knit’s End and following the Yarn Harlot for quite some time now, I am a HUGE fan. I plan to read all of her books. Basically, I plan to read every single word this remarkable woman has even written. At Knit’s End was perfect for me to pick up and read whenever I had a few minutes to spare here and there between toddler tooth brushing and loads of laundry. If you need some good chuckles in your life, go buy this book!

I loved Eight Hundred Grapes. A great summer read. Light but not too froo-froo. Plus it is set in Northern California, and I love reading books about places I know.

  

I never would have bought The Invention of Wings because historical fiction doesn’t typically appeal to me. This book caught my eye on a whim at the library, so I grabbed it without much though asr I chased Reed down en route to attack the children’s section. This book was amazing, and I just couldn’t put it down. I haven’t read The Secret Life of Bees yet, must I most definitely will be reading it soon. This lady can write.

   I have all kinds of parenting books in my queue for August. I need to get my Mom Game going. Otherwise, I will need to find a military reform school that enrolls 2 1/2 year olds. Know of any? (Just in case…as a back up…) Please post any and all parenting tips below.

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I Think It Is Going To Be Too Small

This is my first week participating in the Small Things Yarn Along!  So exciting! I can never get it together on Wednesdays, but this week I planned ahead. Take that, World.

 

Kitty’s Chemise is nearing the home stretch.  I am on the sleeves.

But I have this sinking feeling: I think it is going to be too small. At least in the bust. I had a itty bit hunch this would happen when I cast on, waffling between which size to go for. I need to learn to listen to my instincts better. Apparently they are right more than I am willing to admit.

I will let you know soon, possibly between bouts of sobbing. One of my teeny tiny girlfriends might get very, very lucky next week.

P.S. I am reading The Little Paris Bokshop: A Novel. More on that soon.

Know When to Stop


Each week, I spend a bit of time working on Waterlily. It’s a fairly brainless project at this point. No increases. No decreases. Stockinette in the round, although my stockinette for this project is not “proper” and happens to include all twisted stitches, but more on that another day.

I pick up Waterlily when I have just a bit of time, unable to consider any other type of knitting might require thought. As straightforward as it may seem, mistakes can still happen.

It took me a while to notice. Three rows back. A stripe of fifty or so stitches.

Untwisted.

I took pause. To fix or not to fix? I knew no one would notice but me.

Probably.

No, definitely.

I recalled a post I had read a few weeks back about a galloping horse test, or something like that—if you wouldn’t be able to see the mistake from the back of a galloping horse passing by, it’s fine. Leave it be.

So I kept on. For another four rounds.

I got to thinking. That whole galloping horse thing is a load of bull. I wouldn’t see anything from the back of a galloping horse. I wouldn’t even notice if the people I was galloping past were wearing clothes or palm fronds. I would be too busy squeezing my eyes shut, praying.

I considered my options.

Option 1: Lifeline and unravel. Nope.

Option 2: Tink back 1,000 plus stitches. Nope.

Option 3: Proceed and leave well enough alone. I should. But nope. I just couldn’t. It was bothering me the way my husband’s dirty socks on the living room floor bother me. I just couldn’t ignore the affront.

Option 4: Unravel each column seven stitches. Fix the stitch and re-do the column. Maybe.

I tried just one column. Breath held. Knowing this is how it starts. This could be the doom of me…where it would all unravel if I liked it or not.

But it worked.

So I did another column. And another.

An hour and a half later, I am nearly two-thirds complete. But let this be the lesson: if you see a mistake and it is eating at you…and you are TRYING to ignore it but deep, deep down you know you just won’t be able to let it go. Just stop there. And fix it. Or take a break and then fix it. Because it is so much easier to redo three stitches in each column than seven. So, so much easier.

 

These Summer Days

  
There was a chill in the air yesterday morning, so much so that I dug out a pair of knitted slippers from my sadly unorganized tote of knitted accessories that dwells in the bottom of my closet. Fall was trying to creep in. Just a bit. All tricky tricky.

I am just not ready.

These summer days have been so perfect. Hot, but perfect. The fleeting moments of poolside knitting while Husband and Reed take the requisite afternoon nap. The patch of sunflowers, nearly done blooming. (Should I plant another round? Yes!) The long hours of daylight that warms my soul forever and ever and ever, my absolute favorite. The blackberry picking, nearly done for the year.

Or days like yesterday, an afternoon spent on the Trinity River, ever weary that a shovelful of sand may be flung my direction at any moment. I spent an in ordinate amount of time trying to convince Reed that the turtle basking on a rock wore the same type of sunscreen we did (Babyganics SPF 50). He didn’t buy it…Too smart, that one. (How do you get your little ones to wear sunscreen?)

I know we have another month or more of afternoons passed swimming in the pool or at the river, but I also know the water will grow a bit crisper each occasion, just like these cool mornings. Only a bit. Until one day, I will gasp when I plunge into the water and dash for my beach towel just that much quicker. And swimming will be over for the year.

I am trying to stay present. In the moment. Not mourn a season that isn’t even over yet. Maybe this is my reminder. To treasure it all. Each hour. It’s going to be over soon. Too soon. The summer knitting. This special time with my young, playful, willful, adorable, insanely messy son. My favorite peach tree (already eaten, every last fruit) and my most yearned for crop of seedless green Himrod grapes. All of it. Just like my sunflower patch.

There is so much on my summer wish list I know just won’t happen. Again. Little things. My hanging flower baskets on the front porch look lackluster this year still. They need plant food. More water. More care.

Next year.

But today—this summer day—I will cherish. All of it. Even though I have caught Reed’s cold and feel not-quite-human. And even though my living room floor is covered in an array of primary colored plastic building blocks (I am pretending not to notice they have also been cleverly stuffed between the couch cushions). Even though my kitchen sink is overflowing with yesterday’s dishes, left abandoned as we fled out the door to the river.

Today will be a great summer day. Each warm moment, wet or dry, Knit or unknit. Mess or no mess (probably a mess).

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Yarn Review: Classic Elite Villa

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Hey! Wanna hear about a great yarn I recently used? I thought you might…

I used Classic Elite Villa in the Emerald colorway to knit Dolores. This was my first time using Villa, and I really enjoyed the experience. Previously the only other time I had knit with a Classic Elite base was when I knit a toddler hat with Magnolia, which I also really liked.

I first chose Villa while browsing my LYS because I was really drawn to the Emerald colorway, and the lace weight fit the gage specified in the pattern. Villa is an alpaca (70%) -bamboo (30%) blend. Alpaca is always such a treat to knit with, and the blend worked well overall. I was a bit nervous that the lack of give in the yarn might aggravate my wrists the way cotton yarns does, but I didn’t have any issues.

My finished sweater is such a treat to wear. It is not itchy and is perfectly soft. I feel like a million dollars when I wear it…not because I did such a fabulous job or because I suddenly look extra gorgeous…but because Villa’s fabric is so luxurious. It’s light weight and snuggly with great drape. I am truly a huge fan.

Villa is available in eight colors. I also have a hankering for a future project in Bud Green. I am drawn to the more saturated colors at present. Classic Elite has so many bases available…many yet to try.

Have you used Classic Elite yarns? Which ones? Any favorites or opinions in general?

Camping and Knitting

DSC_0042DSC_0022 DSC_0024 DSC_0029 DSC_0033There’s usually some point when I am packing the family up for a weekend camping trip that I ask myself: is it really worth it? 

The hours to pack, plan, and drive (four hours!)…the lugging of stuff (oh so much stuff!) to the house from the truck…from the truck to the campsite.

The setting up of the tent. I really hate setting up the tent. Why won’t the tent poles ever stick together when you are trying to thread them through their nylon tube? Target tents, be damned.

There’s Night One when poor little Reed starts to vomit in the tent in the middle of the night. Me, screaming frantically to my husband. Help! Help! (He of course is irritated at me for “overreacting” until he catches on.) There we are, chucking our most precious little boy,head first, out into the cold, dark of night onto the dirt to vomit elsewhere.

But we are too late.

The night continues like this, until morning, when poor Reed seems empty…a little off kilter but generally pumped to go fishing again.

Then there’s Night Two. I am exhausted from an afternoon of naughty, partially sick toddler antics…the very same naughty toddler who spent too much time bouncing on the air bed (I warned him!), which subsequently deflates every two hours and must be re-inflated on the same schedule. All. Night. Long.

The cycle repeats. We awake. Laughing at the ridiculous of it all. Repack. I hate the tent poles even more. Everything goes back into the truck, albeit dirtier than when we arrived, seeming to have expanded two-fold with dust alone.

And here I sit. Surrounded by loads of laundry. Mountains of dishes. Grime. Reed is so worn out that he put himself to bed at 6:30. I assure you, that never happens. I stink. Like, really stink.

Camping is so much work, but it is worth it. And not just because I brought my knitting along and was able to sneak in a couple hours here and there.

There’s something about the stars at night. So bright. And watching Reed delight in all that is new and different from the monotony of home. The rocks to climb (be careful!)…the fish to pursue.

Oh, the joys.DSC_0047

FO: Dolores

  

   Pattern: Dolores by Dawn Catanzaro, size small

Yarn: Villa by Classic Elite (alpaca-bamboo blend) in the Emerald colorway

Skeins/yards: The pattern called for 1,326 yards (1,212 meters), but I only used less than 1,000 yards and have two plus skeins left. This always happens to me…yarn overbuy because I don’t want to run out at the end. I am sure I will put the extra skeins to good use come the holiday season. Now what should I knit with the leftovers?…Probably 500 or so yards, if not more.

Time on the needles: Two months plus of dedicated, hard core knitting!

Mistakes: Many, particularly here, here, and here.

Construction approach: The pattern calls for two identical sides that are seamed together.

Modifications: I left an extra ten stitches on each shoulder for the three needle bind off so the neck opening wouldn’t be so wide. Otherwise, it would have slipped right off my shoulders and been a skirt with arms.

Seaming notes: Here. If I had it to do over, I would have seamed from the wrists to the waist instead of the waist to the wrists to hide more of my seam flaws under the armpits where they might have been less visible. The arms seams could look better…they are a bit bunchy in places. Definitely hand made (AKA flawed).

Future modifications: I like the shape of this top and would knit it again someday, although I would modify it to knit the body in the round and save on seaming to the greatest extent possible.

Blocking notes: I didn’t block my swatch (gasp). The piece grew a bit but not too much. The biggest change was in the arms, which went from 3/4 sleeve to an inch longer than the wrists! I wasn’t expecting that much growth in sleeve length, but it worked out just fine.

Overall: I love it!

Well, I may have knit it up the hard way (as always), but I finished. And it came out great!

Kitty’s Chemise

Monday? Monday. Monday!

No wonder I feel like I am chasing a freight train. Or do I feel like I have been run over by a fright train? 

Hard to tell…

I all but abandoned Waterlily to focus on Kitty’s Chemise over the weekend.    

The pattern is from Jane Austin Knits…not typically anything I am drawn to, but you have got to love Ravelry….the price on the whole ebook has been reduced down to $6 from $14. (This morning I notice it has been further reduced to $2.99 over the last week…just my luck. Humph.)

   

The finished work is supposed to look like this:  

Photo source: Jane Austin Knits 2014

I chose this pattern because of the shape and structure. I am hoping it might possibly flatter my figure, which always appreciates a little waist accentuating between my bust and hips, both of which are, ehem, curvy.

Knitting in worsted is awesome…going so quickly compared to those itty bitty stitches of a thinner lace yarn. At first I was disappointed in the Dream in Color Classy yarn…not the softest or most touchable and perhaps lacking a bit of stretch. It knits up plenty stretchy, however, and I do enjoy the color.

Mostly I just hope I chose the right size. Otherwise, one of my itty bitty friends will be receiving a very nice gift. 

Humph.

Waterlily Progress

Waterlily is on the needles. After four hours of knitting, my wrists were starting to hurt. I almost didn’t buy the linen yarn because I feared it would cause my hands to hurt as cotton often has…and I was right. I should have trusted my instincts.

But I just couldn’t resist the color, and I was eager to try knitting with linen for the first time.

I am tempted to scrap the whole project, give away the remaining skeins, and start the pattern over with a stretchier wool yarn that will be more forgiving on my aching wrists. For now, I think I will take it slow…maybe a few rows per weekend…and plan to finish next summer. If I am lucky.

In the meantime, I have switched gears and cast on a new wool-based project to ease up on my wrists but keep the needles twirling. This marks THE FIRST TIME I have knit more than one project at a time.

It is getting crazy around here.

Waterlily is Underway

Uhm, did you know you can defrost a frozen banana in the microwave?

It’s true.

I tried it for the first time this morning.

I was frantically trying to whip up waffles from scratch (eh hem, Super Mom!) so Reed would have something to eat for breakfast in the car (…he has to wake up extra early on pre-school commute mornings because we drive for an hour…We live in the middle of nowhere!…so I feed him bacon and waffles in the car…basically my car always smells like a diner and a bear is likely to set up residence any day now…) and our only bananas were frozen (I only recently started freezing bananas that were about to be overripe when I ran out of steam to make banana bread instead…), so I held my breath and stuck the darn thing in the microwave on defrost, half expecting it to explode and send gooey banana shrapnel everywhere…but it worked! Waffle success.

In more relevant news, I am ready to start knitting Waterlily by Meghan Fernandes in Quince Sparrow in the eleuthera colorway. This is my first time knitting with linen. I am not sure I like it. It is kind of like knitting with…well, straw?!?

I am also slightly ashamed to admit this is the first time I have soaked my swatch to allow it to dry before doing a final gage check. I probably would have skipped this step, but when I mentioned my soak-skipping plan to my coworker, she shot me one of those oh no you don’t looks.

See. Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing.

So, the swatch is done, my needle size is selected, and I have completed my cast on.

Now all I have to do is finish weeding the garden, wash our windows, lose five pounds, figure out a Plan for My Life, and kick back and relax.

Ta da!

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