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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.

 

How I Rescued My Hand Knit Accessories

It's not too late. Rescue your hand knits today.

Until last week, my hand knit accessories lived in a tangled, disorganized pile in a dirty storage bin in the bottom of the bedroom closet, chaotically disorganized amidst the non-knitted accessories. Plus a few old cottons tees.

I will pause while you gasp and then regain your composure.

It is criminal, I know.

A hand knit shawl should not smell musty. It simply cannot be.

Sadly our house is tight on storage space. The fact that we are minimalists doesn’t seem to comepensate.

The gravity of the situation hit me. Hard. I quickly freed up a basket and rolled the scarves, shawls, and hats just so. Tidy. Safe. Easy to find.

If only I can find a situable place to store the basket.

What struck me the most was this: after a near two decades of knitting, mostly accessories at that, this is all that remains. Of the zillions of mittens, scarves, shawls, and hats that I have created (some prettier than others), all I have kept for myself are the knits in this basket. Nothing more.

Except for the pair of fingerless gloves stashed in my purse for cold driving mornings.

And the hat knit in 1999 that resides in my car for emergencies. (Best not to be car-stranded without a good hat in the event Pure Survival is an issue. Be prepared for emergencies. Knitting just might save your life.)

Otherwise, it has all been gifted. Holidays. Birthdays. Babies. Just because. Such is the way of the knitter. And rightly so. How many scarves does one person actually need? Five? Less? More?

All this leads me to think of the hand knits that have been passed on to friends and family over the years. I cringe a bit to think of the particularly ugly ones…the leg warmers knit in too heavy a wool, gifted to the yoga teacher who surely buried them in the bottom of her own closet. At best. Some friends were luckier. They received nicer knitted gifts. Soft. Lacy. Pretty.

I hope they are well loved.

A knitter wishes the best for knitted gifts as they make their way to a new home, just as a mother frets and hopes for her children, even after they are grown.

Now, where should I put that basket?

Giveaway! Baby Yarn Galore!

   
 
I just got home from a 40th birthday party. On a Sunday night. With a band and food. A bar. Fully stocked. Half the (tiny) town was there.

Who does this?

Is this a thing now? Like having a wedding on a Tuesday because the venue is available or at a reduced price or whatever?

I just kept thinking: I have to get up in six hours and go to work. 

I am such a spoil sport. I ruin my own fun. When older adults look at children and say you are such an old soul, really what they are politely saying is you are a dud.

I am a dud. And proud. 

Can I get a t-shirt? 

Don’t get me wrong. I danced. And drank. And smiled as the mobs of pj-clad kids hopped about on the hay bales. I had my fun. In my bathrobe. (I swear I wasn’t the only weirdo who wore my bathrobe to the party…everyone did. It was the theme: bathrobe party. I promise. Actually it was pretty brilliant.)

Really I just pretend to be a Carpe Diem person. Mostly I am a get-eight-hours-of-sleep person. I am pretty sure that is two entirely types of people.

Now I eye the clock, wondering: should I knit a few rows? Or just go to bed? Do I dare? 

I dare.

In the meantime, this is a Giveaway post. The last of my stash-busting reorganization extravaganza. This time, it is the baby yarn. Babyboo galore. One lucky winner will receive both skeins pictured above for all their baby knitting delights. I have knit with both and have only positive remarks to offer. 

Here are the details.

Deadline: Friday, October 2nd, Midnight PST

Who: shipping to winners in the U.S.and Canada only. My most sincere apologies to the rest of the world. 

To win:max four entries per person. Four options: 1) comment on this post, 2) follow me on Instagram 3) follow me on Facebook 4) follow me on Pinterest. Use the side bar icons for social media links to This Knitted Life on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Each person can enter via all four options for up to four chances to win, max. 

Good luck knitters. May the force (yarn) be with you. 

Applesauce v. Knitter

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It is the time of year when apples simply drop off trees, like raindrops in falling from the sky in spring. I swore to myself I would ignore this phenomenon. Pretend it wasn’t happening. No need for apple preservation here. None. Zilch. I’d rather be knitting.

There’s still plenty of applesauce canned up from last year. No pressing need for more. Supply is less than demand. And sure, I could probably be dehydrating them. We have the world’s largest food dehydrator tucked into the hall closet. I am pretending it is broken even though it works just fine.

Seeing those laden branches drooping with perfect fruit…not even wormy this year…well, it just struck an inner cord. How could one let those perfect apples simply drop to the earth and rot, accompanied only by worms? A thought too tragic to entertain for long.

Before I knew it, the orchard ladder was up, much to Reed’s delight. He is overjoyed by any opportunity to encounter danger, cause me stress, and, well, climb. One after one, the wagon was loaded with bounty from the abandoned tree next door. Me picking, handing the apples down to Reed. Reed hurling them into the wagon despite my admonitions about bruising fruit. Then it was Reed picking. Me holding Reed, clinging to him as if I might possibly succeed in keeping small forever.

I ignored the full wagon for a few days on the back deck. Yes, they were picked, but preserve them I would not. I hope and prayed they would be abducted by space aliens. The whole lot of them. Apple-eating space aliens. The universe is so vast. Surely there is such a creature. Alas. No luck. I watched them out the window with disdain as I knit on. Undeterred.

Reed caught me off guard yesterday. Let’s pick more apples, mama. Really he just wanted to climb the ladder. Such a daredevil. Always seeking a thrill. Do little girls do this also?

I told him the truth: we can’t pick more apples until we deal with the ones we already have.

The peeling device was retrieved from deep within the cupboard, untouched since last fall. Cinnamon was put on notice. The bowls were set out–one for finished fruit and the other for peels and cores. Instructions were provided as to which was which. The large pot placed just so upon the back burner.

With great importance, Reed plopped the apples onto the kitchen table and turned the handle on the peeler ever so slowly, his little muscles not quite up to the test. Eventually he grew weary and wandered off to build with blocks, leaving ol’ mom to finish the job.

The applesauce is done now. It accompanies the remaining jars from last year’s effort. They are together, like lovers reunited from previous lives.

I like to think of myself as a knitter. But really I am just me. Picker of apples. Mother of a small child. Cleaner of messes. I find myself particularly sleep deprived today (another tale altogether). As I ponder which knitting project to pursue during this precious window of napping, I ignore the one I know I should finish and pick the easy one. The simple sock, heal already turned, gussets reduced…awaiting a few inches worked in the round without reducing or increasing. No counting. Just knitting.

Something I can do lying down on the sofa while watching House of Cards.

Knitters have suffered worse fates yet.

On Knitting in Fall

  
Fall is here. Not technically, but it is here. Our forest fire smoke has finally gone. Skies are again blue. Cool nights. Crisp mornings. Socks.

The days are already so much shorter. We are inside now by 7:30, wrapping up those tricycle excursions by the light of the setting sun. Afternoons are still warm. The most pleasant of temperatures. I have been lucky enough to enjoy a few mid-day nap sessions spent knitting out on the front deck, pleasantly still and quiet. The house is adorned with home-grown pumpkins, recently picked from the garden and lugged up to deck to await their Halloween transformation. The other day, Reed took to rolling pumpkins off the deck, thrilled by his own naughtiness as he watched them topple end over end across the lawn.

We had a little chat.

As I knit, I look at these (bruised) pumpkins and smile, noting the hint of color change sneaking onto the leaves. I know my afternoons of deck knitting are limited. In a matter of weeks, I will be forced indoors by the nippy air. Left to await what always seems like endless months until Spring, when I can again venture out to sit in the sun.

While I secretly find peace in the new fall season, I mourn summer. All that I didn’t quite get to. Long, bright days. Summer ended earlier than normal and without warning when the smoke arrived, literally overnight. We didn’t get to say goodbye to swimming in the pool and river gradually, as I prefer. It was abrupt. Harsh.

I had so many flower beds that I wasn’t even able to weed. Instead they were left abandon, so unlike Tasha Tudor’s garden. They stare at me now. Taunting. Weed me. Weed me. Give me water. Pansies. Something. Instead I turn a blind eye and knit. One must always prioritize.

This time of year, I usually plant a fall garden. Kale. Chard. More beets. Even peas. Not this year. I am done. I have been gardening since February. The weeds won. I concede. We’ve harvested much since spring, some of which made it to the kitchen. The chickens enjoyed the rest. Lucky chickens. I plucked the fig tree over the weekend, direct from branch to my mouth. Take that Tasha Tudor. The tomatoes and basil keep coming in droves. The freezer is filling. Preserved for winter when perhaps I will be more inspired to toil in the kitchen, warmed by the stove and oven, lit with sweet smells and perhaps even a candle now that Reed is older. Although truthfully he is just as likely to burn down the house as ever.

The other day I overheard friends mention they were starting to knit again, noting the change in the season. Fall. It’s here. I knit no more or no less in fall. I am obsessive. I knit year round with vigilance and passion. Gusto. Even what I knit doesn’t change too much with the seasons. Perhaps if I had more time and made it through projects more promptly, my knitting would be more appropriately seasonal. Instead, I have had the same three projects lingering on my needles for what seems like ages. I am ready to finish them. Move on to new endeavors. My fall knitting is delayed, awaiting the completion of my last summer tee. Even though it will have to wait a year before wear.

Soon, I tell myself. Soon.

 

Life Dispatch Vol. 2: August Bucket List

August. That final full month of summer. The last chance to get it all in. It’s cram time, knitters. Go big or go home.

In August, I want to be the best mom ever. I want to be patient and fun…Teach Reed his letters instead of letting him sneak in another episode of Paw Patrol just so I can get a few extra rows in. I want to take him to the river and let him dig in the sand to his heart’s content…maybe squeeze in one more camping trip even though they are so much work. I think I might be getting too old to sleep in a tent (is that possible?)

I want to spend time on the porch, after dark, looking up at the stars, just breathing. Being still. Not my strong suite.

Fresh flowers. I want to harvest my beloved zinnias and stick them in vases all over my house, which I will then refresh each week instead of letting the decaying flower carcasses linger about on the kitchen table like that is a normal thing to do. (Of course I have never before done that in my life!)

August will be my month to finish Waterlily and Kitty’s Chemise…and start a few patterns of my own for a winter line. Smaller projects. I had been hoping to get some new pattern designs out for fall, but who am I kidding. Fall is like…tomorrow! There is a reason Vogue Knitting sent out their Early Fall issue more than a month ago: they are far more organized than I am!

Also on the list: I want to get up early and jog while it is still cool. For the sake of exercise and time to myself…so I don’t feel too terribly guilty when I am sitting there knitting all of those hours, moving not an inch.

Happy hour! I want to make more cocktails. I told myself this would be the summer I would bring back happy hour. I have failed big time, although my lingering summer cold hasn’t helped. Cocktails just don’t sound good when I am leaking buckets of snot. Soon. Cocktails coming in abundance (but not too abundantly!) any day now. I hope. There is still time for redemption.

What’s on your August bucket list?

 

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.

You can use these links to find and follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Ravelry

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!

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.

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.

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