Monthly Archives

November 2015

Goodbye to the Fall Days

Reed turns three in a week and a half. It is a very exciting time for him. There is lots of discussion about his party and all that it will mean to be three. 

There’s a lot to cover.

He was was drifting off to sleep the other night when he asked dreamily, On my birthday, will you bring cakes to school? All the other kids bring cakes on their birthdays.

Yes my dear child, I will bring cupcakes to school on your birthday. Fear not.

It seems as if Fall has passed and Winter has set in. The leaves have drifted from their branches, ready to rejoin the earth. Our kiwis, last of the winter fruit, have been harvested. Collected by tiny fingers and lugged indoors for ripening by one little person, determined to do it all by himself. The first hard frost has come and gone, promised to return again tonight.

We bundle up for our walks now. A heavier coat. Yesterday there were even mittens. Those of you in northern lands may think us overreacting to such a mild cold. We do garden in Zone 8 after all. There are worse things.  

I try to get into the spirit of winter, I do. Before Reed was old enough to be mobile, I would light candles here and there once the sun set. Now I don’t out of fear that he will burn the house down. Accidentally of course.

I am constantly overhearing myself mutter I hate winter. I am not sure if am more concerned with the fact that I am talking to myself a lot or my chronic negativity on the matter. There just isn’t enough knitwear to warm the insides of my bones. I feel like I am always cold. Especially my hands.

These are the times when I fantasize about my tropical knitting colony. An isle of knitters sipping lime fizzes while listening to waves lap against the sandy shore.

It gets me through the hard days.

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Holiday Mittens Anyone Can Knit

Perfect holiday mittens anyone can knit

Okay, be honest with me. Don’t hold back.

Are these too pink?

Perfect holiday mittens

I kind of think they are too pink. And I like pink. I mean, I would wear pink all the time, anytime. It’s a good color for me.

My best girlfriends? Maybe they don’t feel quite as passionate about pink… I just don’t know. Is this a color respectable women in their mid-30s actually wear, besides me of course?

As far as yarn trends go, I have been more inspired by a muted pallet of late. When I ordered this Malabrigo Worsted (in Orchid) via WEBS a couple weeks back, I swore it looked much, well, mellower online. Then I opened the package and bam! reached for my sunglasses. Such is the drama with online yarn shopping. Oh, how we suffer. I almost sent it back, but the yarn was just so SOFT that I decided to give it a go.

The pattern, however, was perfect. I enjoy Susan B. Anderson’s blog, and I was happy to try one of her patterns. The mittens knitted up quick. One day for each hand. Nice and simple. No major mistakes or drama, although I still need to weave in ends. This means there’s a chance I could poke my eye out with a darning needle.

You just never know.

Potential vision loss aside, I do recommend this pattern for a quick holiday knit. There’s still hope for you (me?) yet. My favorite thing about this simple, perfectly understated mitt is that the left and rights hands are the same. Nothing to keep track of. Two identical mitts.

(I have this thing with right and left, but I will save that for another day.)

Do I knit another pink pair or resort to a more subtle, possibly more wearable color (as in: beige)?

Linking up with Ginny and STILL reading Outlander.

 

Knitted Socks for a Toddler

My cutest knitting project yet. Note to mention, I used scrap sock yarn and a free pattern.

There was something about knitting these toddler socks that made me feel like Super Mom. All my parenting wrongs evaporated with each stitch.

That time I snapped at Reed a bit too loudly in the grocery store when he was insisting on grabbing a glass jar of barbeque sauce off the shelf?

Didn’t happen.

Or when it is bed time and I am EXHAUSTED and I say a bit too harshly: Go to sleep NOW.

Erased from the universe.

Going two days in a row without brushing his teeth.

Who needs teeth?

We’ve got socks!

I can’t wait to give these to Reed for his third birthday in a couple of weeks. I think they will fit…perhaps with a bit of room to grow.

I imagine he will be more impressed with his new play-doh trucks, balloons, and cake.  I know the socks will probably fall by the wayside. An unimpressive gift if you are turning three.
But someday in the not-too-distant future when he will inevitably taunt me with you don’t love me, Mom (when I have limited his cartoon intake, perhaps), I will pull up this blog post and remind him but when you were three, I knit you socks.

And that’s love.

Even though, yes, I knit the better part of one sock while sitting at a bar drinking a bloody mary. In the middle of the day. Because sometimes, my dear child, mom just needs a break. (To my defense, it was a slow day at the office and Reed still had a couple hours of preschool.)

I used this free pattern and my leftover yarn from my first pair of socks (Madelinetosh Sock in Shire). Project notes are here.

I have visions of knitting Reed many more pairs of socks…so handy to do with the leftovers from knitting adult socks. What better use for leftover yarn?

Handspun Holiday Stockings

Stash-busting holiday stockings from a free pattern. Put that random yarn in your hall closet to good use!

I just can’t stay focused…so easily side tracked onto new projects. Somewhere, buried deep  in the inexplicable recesses of my brain, I thought it would be awesome to knit holiday stockings. Our current stockings are left over from my own childhood, likely purchased at WalMart in the empire’s early days, and lack sentimentality in every possible way.

I can’t even explain how it happened exactly. It just did. Somewhere this random, minor thought garnered some traction (it is possible this blog post had something to do with it…), and before I knew it, I was rooting around in the hall closet.

I knew exactly what I was after.

A friend had delivered a giant bag of handspun a year or two back. At the time, I said thank you beaming with joy, admired with glee, and then off into the stash it went.

I didn’t realize exactly how much yarn this friend had gifted. Unwound skeins are so abstract to me. Especially when it comes to handspun. I just have no gauge for that type of thing. A little? A lot?

It was a lot. Two strands woven together. One light. One dark. Twisted. From her own flock, no less. Six big fat balls of yarn. Six!

I don’t know how long it must have taken her to spin all this yarn, but I am thinking it is somewhere along the lines of Forever.

Oh, and it isn’t the least bit itchy. Bulky weight. Size 10 needles for me.

It didn’t take me long to pursue pattern options on Ravelry. I narrowed by needle size because I wanted to use my shorter size 10 circulars and decided on this pattern in less than half an hour.

It is really just a sock pattern. The math is nearly identical to the toddler socks I just finished for Reed…just a different yarn weight. I am about ready to start my first heel flap. They knit up quickly enough due to the bulkier weight, although the yarn texture isn’t the quickest stitching on my Addi’s. The handspun bites the needle a bit, and each stitch does take a bit of work.

I think Santa will be proud.

All the Pretty Blues

My knitting bag may be a giant, disorganized jumble of random needles, loose stitch markers, and bits of torn paper containing invaluable (illegible) pattern development notes, but at least it’s color coordinated.

Blue.

There’s the multi-toned blue sock that was going to be a holiday gift. Except it came out too small. So now it’s my sock. I have small feet. Maybe someday it will have a mate. My broken needle just might have been an omen?

And the toddler sock for Reed. I really want him to try it on to see if it fits and bask in the adorability of it all, but I am going to wait until his birthday in a few weeks or even possibility Christmas. If I can stand it. I am using my leftover Madelinetosh Sock in Shire from my first pair of socks. I love (hate?) that I can buy a skein of sock yarn and invariably have enough to knit myself a pair…and then knit my child a pair with the “leftovers.” And still have yarn left.

I am nearly done with my final test knit for an upcoming (one can only hope…) fingerless glove pattern (Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in Well Water)…pretending to ignore my row of twisted stitches. Head in sand. All is well here.

Except it’s not. Rip. Rip.

(My Waterlily Tee is blue too, but I took it out of my knitting bag over the weekend, having faced the facts that it would be on hiatus until next year.)

So far I have accomplished next to nothing in terms of holiday knitting. One toddler sock. Waa waa. At least I can give myself a gold medal for being a good mom. On most days, anyway.

(If your holiday knitting is also in need of some K-CPR (that’s Knitting CPR, in case you are wondering), I have just the patterns for you!

Mostly wishing my pesky ol’ life wasn’t getting in the way of my knitting time. Good grief!

Less typing! More knitting!

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Nicole’s Craft Along. Still reading Outlander. Slow going.

There’s Hope For You Yet–Perfect Knitting Patterns for Holiday Gifts

Dear fellow knitters,

If you are anything like me, you are glancing at the calendar and thinking surely that can’t be right.

But it is.

Just a month of holiday knitting left to go, taking time for shipping into account.

My holiday knitting so far has been a bust. I have one managed to finish a single sock that came out too small for the recipient (my mom). Now I have new socks (okay, one new sock, but the mate will surely materialize sooner or later) and my mother has no socks. Hurumph.

I haven’t thrown in the towel, and you shouldn’t either. This situation can be salvaged.

I hope.

I am going to make this a little bit easier for you and spare you billions of hours perusing Ravelry for just the right pattern. They are all right here. In this one single blog post. Hooray!

While I do charge a modest fee for these patterns, I do offer other patterns I have designed for free. Please check those out as well if you are feeling a bit broke this holiday season. I can surely empathize with that as well!

Coon Creek Fingerless Gloves ($3.50 USD) are my favorite fingerless gloves so far. They have great texture and are fun to knit. You mom/mother-in-law/best girlfriend/favorite aunt will love these.

If you are ambitious and are willing to commit to a little more yardage, the Twist Shawl ($5.00 USD) just might be for you. If looks could kill. Or something like that. A simple technique of twisting stitches leads to fabulous results. This will be a gift sure to impress anyone. It’s one of my personal favorites and is also available in multiple languages, should that be your fancy.

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If you like the affect but want a smaller project, might I suggest the Twist Cowl ($3.50 USD)?  I have knit a handful of these for some of my favorite friends, and they were all well received. This is a fun cowl, easy to knit, and very chic. Simple but more than interesting.DSC_0032

The Annandale Shawlette ($5.00 USD) is a perfect beginner knitter project…or perfect for TV/social knitting. There’s an appealing drop stitch border along a simple triangle shawlette/scarf, depending on how you chose to wear.

The Spring Leaf Shawl ($5.00 USD) is another great triangle shawl with a lovely lace leaf botanical border. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

And if hats are your fancy for a last-minute knitted gift, my most recent pattern Samoa ($3.00 USD) is stunning and knits up quick in a DK weight.

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Or, the name says it all. The Best Hat Ever ($3.00 USD) is another winner for those short on time (like me!). It also is a quicker knit with a DK weight.

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There you have it. Seven great patterns for your choosing. Look no further! Now all you need is yarn, needles, and a bit of free time (this seems to be my limiting factor these days…).

Wishing you all the very best in this (panic fueled) holiday knitting countdown!

XOXO,

Andrea

Perfect patterns for gifts (or selfish knitting, if the case may be...)

 

Just When Everything Was Going So Well

Granted I was feeling on top of my game. Superwoman, in fact.

I’d just spent the day putting up a couple dozen jars of Kalamata and Sicilian olives that I spent two days painstakingly harvesting from our very own olive trees. Relishing Zone 8 gardening and thinking “take that suckers” to everyone suffering through gardening in the northern hinter lands (yes, that’s you…loving wink) First time ever I have actually done something productive with our olives…Fending off fantasies of growing olives for a living. You know, in case life as a knitwear designer didn’t pan out. Always best to have a Plan B.

And I’d only recently picked and scrubbed bazillions of bright orange carrots recovered from the last of the summer’s garden, washed and lovingly tucked into the fridge.

The kid was fed.

The house was mostly cleaned, if you ignored the (homegrown) garlic peels all over the floor…worse things than your child using one hundred heads of garlic for building blocks…

Admittedly, there may have been a glass (and a half) of (local, organic) pinot noir fueling my confidence as I neared the toe of my sock–a holiday gift, of course.  My spirit buzzed knowing Reed would be off to bed soon (no nap today), and surely, barring unforeseen circumstances, my sock would be finished by night’s end.

Life was good. Real good. Amazing good.

Then this happened.

That, my dear knitters, is what happens when sliding too tight stitches as you inevitably reposition your size 2 magic loop sock knitting needles.

Bam!

You could cry, but instead you laugh. Because this is how things always go in your life. The worst luck. Nothing ever easy. You’ve made peace with the fact that you must have been a schmuck in your last life and ended up with crappy karma.

Or something like that.

Onward. Transferring to double pointed and hoping for the best.

And maybe just one more glass of wine. To ease the pain.

Maybe.

Here a Sock, There a Sock

I honestly don’t know how I got hooked on sock knitting. I never thought it would happen. It leaves me worried that there are other addictions in life to which I never thought myself susceptible…but now, I just don’t know.

What if I also end up addicted to exercise? All the sweat? Mercy!

Or drugs? Do they allow knitting in rehab?

Skydiving? Couldn’t be…

There are so many dangers in life from which I have comfortably thought I was safe.

Above all that.

In control.

Staying in my lane and not making any dangerous maneuvers. Everything I thought to be true is now out the window.

Anything is possible.

Or, maybe this is just “A Phase”, and I have nothing to worry about.

My second pair of socks is off the needles.  Meet Blueberry Waffles #1 in Malabrigo sock yarn (Indecita colorway). They have a few imperfections, but all in all, I am pleased and my feet are warm. I learned a few lessons along the way (never do size 3 needles, I prefer magic loop over double pointed, watch for loose ladders between needles, picking up gusset stitches after turning the heel can be tricky but not impossible…proceed with caution!).

I have since cast on a third pair of socks (heavens!) which will be a holiday gift (NOT for my husband by the way…thank you for all the input on that matter...knitting his socks has been postponed indefinitely, at minimum until I source yarn that can also go in the dryer).  I am trying Crazy Zauberball sock yarn for the first time on a whim (the dangers of shopping online at yarn.com). I find the color changes thrilling, but the wool is more on the rustic end of the spectrum…a bit coarser, trending toward itchy but not quite. Based on my previous trial and error, I am hoping the yarn will be a good match for the Blueberry Waffle pattern (AKA Blueberry Waffles #2).

I have this sinking feeling I am going to come nowhere close to meeting my holiday knitting goals and should face the reality that I need Plan B for core family/friend gift giving.

I hate Plan B.

I don’t even know what that might be.

And, I am considering returning yarn to Yarn.com, which just feels kind of wrong to me. To return yarn?!? As if there is such a thing as a bad skein. But the colors just don’t feel right to me…always a bit risky to select colors online when the posted color photo doesn’t quite match the real color photo. I tried some Malabrigo worsted. My first time. I love the feel of the yarn, but the colors are just so Bright in a 90s fluorescent kind of way. Not my vibe lately.

Maybe I just need a different lens.

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Frontier Dreams. Reading the first Outlander book on the advice of a friend.

Five Free Holiday Knitting Patterns Just For You

Okay knitters. This is your reality check. It’s November. Early November, so the panic level should be at yellow (light yellow). But it’s time–time to start knitting for the holidays.

Start your needles.

You are probably scoffing at me and rolling your eyes because you are more organized than I am and started your holiday knitted the day after Christmas (or Hanukkah) last year.

However, in case you are a little bit more like me than you care to admit (overly ambitious, perpetually behind schedule even though you used to think you were an organized, on-the-ball type person before you had children, suffering from chronic sleep shortages, and generally not as high functioning as you wish you were), this is your lucky day.

I have five free knitting patterns to share. Just for you.

Ravelry is so amazing. So many (free!) patterns to choose from. You can search for eons to find just the right one. And, you can easily become lost in that one little (huge!) website for hours. Pleasurably so.

Let me spare you some time. Here are five knitting patterns developed by Yours Truly that I offer on Ravelry for free. They are yours for the taking. Two shawls, two fingerless glove patterns, and a baby hat. I enjoyed developing each of them, and they all turned out great.

Nikita Shawl

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Super Easy Winterspun Shawlette

Quince Fingerless Gloves

Tatianna Fingerless Gloves

 

Maple’s Wish Baby Hat

These patterns were developed in my earlier designing days before I got all fancy with photography and graphic design, but the nuts and bolts are all there. Even if the font is just Times New Roman. There are worse things. As always, you can always email me with bugs and glitches if you get stuck. My email address is on all the patterns, and you can always find my contact information here. I would love to see how your finished projects turn out. Send photos!

With that, I will leave you in peace to knit away. There is no time to waste. Chop chop.

free knitting patterns

Finishing and Plotting

I am sure you already know this…but…it’s November.

You know what this means?

It’s panic time. Holiday knits?!?

Uncork wine. Deep breaths. Or, chamomile tea (with extra honey). Xanax? Yes, please.

Consider just making cards this year. (Too tacky to simply send post-it notes? Emails? Text messages?) No hand knits. Every knitter needs a year off sometime. The pressure alone is too much. Surely this must be why God invented Target, right?

If your deadline is Hanukkah, the crunch is really on. Just 5 1/2 weeks! For you solstice lovers in the bunch, a mere 7 weeks…Even Mother Earth can’t help you now. If Christmas is your game, you’ve got a bit more time but not much: 7 1/2 weeks. Put Santa on notice.

Big time.

Unless you started your holiday knitting back in June when a smart knitter would have started (not me!), you can join me in the Up A Creek Without a Paddle Club (UCWP). Membership is free but not desirable. Like prison, but different.

Okay nothing like prison. I don’t even know where that came from.

I finished one Blueberry Waffle sock…making my way well along the second at this point thanks to an early bed time last night for my little mini (never mind the 2 1/2 hours he was awake in the middle of the night, claiming thirst, wet sheets, needs to pee {more}, not tired, read me a story even if it’s 3:00 a.m.!).  The first sock came out good minus a couple of minor glitches, but I should have stuck with the size 2 needles. Why do I always question my knitting instincts?
Also on the queue this week, I hope to finish a new pattern I have been fiddling with for a while now…some fingerless mitts (Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in Well Water scored on clearance and no longer available…such amazing yarn…I knew I should have snatched it all up at the clearance price…Again, WHY do I not trust my knitting instincts?!*?!).  Notice how I lost yarn chicken a mere eight stitches shy?

Clearly I have bad knitting karma for some unknown reason. Perhaps not enough hats for charity?

Speaking of pattern development, thank you SO incredibly much for all your support (and purchases!) of my two latest hat patterns: Samoa and the Best Hat Ever. I am just so tickled.

Is that too dorky to say?

I am unfathomably curious to hear how they are knitting up for everyone! If you were bold enough to purchase one of the patterns, please do drop a note and let me know how it’s going…or puddle together a quick project post on Ravelry. I can’t wait to see how all the hats are turning out! Gah!

Meanwhile, my online yarn order has been placed to source all my holiday knits–mostly plans for mittens and socks with lofty aspirations for a cowl or two sourced from The Stash. More on all this soon. And don’t think I didn’t miss the irony that WEBS sent me a taunting email announcing their new 70+ shades of Madelinetosh sock yarn the DAY AFTER I placed my super huge Madelinetosh sock yarn order. Seriously. Perhaps fewer choices is better anyway. Less overwhelming. Still, WEBS, must you torture me so?

After finishing the Blueberry Waffles and mitt pattern, it’s full on Holiday Knitting. I have even decided to put my Waterlily Tee on hold until after the holidays. I am at good stopping place…finished with the stockinette and ready for the Latvian braid and lace yoke. I am at peace with the delay, even though it’s not my style. I think. Mostly I just hope I pick it back up before 2020.

That’s me: finishing some projects and plotting for more!

Linking up with Ginny and her lovely Yarn Along this morning as well as Nicole and the Craft Along. Reading Luckiest Girl Alive.

 

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