Browsing Tag

Knitting

On the Precipice of Something

Have you ever come to a place in your life where you pause and realize you are on a precipice? All you have to do is leap, although where you will land is unknown. Uncharted. Maybe it will be greatness.  Perhaps it will be an utter and total flop. There is no choice but to jump and see what comes.

Or, if you don’t launch up into the air, you will never find out.

That is how I have been feeling lately, at least in terms of the knitting in my life. It’s been simmering on the side now for so many years. Don’t get me wrong, it will continue to proceed at a snails pace for quite some time into the future, as far as I can tell. I am doubly certain my knitting foibles will continue–the pattern designs that don’t always manifest on the first (or third) attempt, the dropped stitches that unravel faster than the stock market, the finished objects that take four months to knit and still don’t quite fit right.

It’s all part of it.

My knitting atmosphere just feels so super charged right now. Little ionic particles of wool (and perhaps alpaca blends) sparking and shimmering all about. I am so excited about the cowl design I have been working on. I was tempted to stay up to all hours last night to finish the final rounds, but I knew I would regret the sleeplessness in the morning.

I have also recently discovered Craftsy, which makes me super excited in a way not dissimilar from being provided with a plump slice of moist chocolate cake. There’s is whole new realm of online knitting resources and choices beyond my dearest Ravelry, I have been discovering. I loved Craftsy so much that I became an affiliate*, but more on that soon. (I will be sure to make a Big Announcement in the near future with all the deats.) In the meantime, I am itching to cast on my new Architexture Scarf Kit*. I ended up with the lavender heather colorway, which feels absolutely perfect for a spring knit.

Architexture scarf kit from Craftsy

At the same time, I aspire to make progress on my Bucket List by finally and formally taking an online colorwork class, which is a step above and beyond my typical method of stabbing-and-poking at random You Tube videos. I can’t decide between two colorwork classes: one offered with Melissa Leapman* or another one taught by Anne Berk*. Argh. Decisions. Decisions. Have you taken one of those classes? Advise me!

When it comes to knitting, I have always leaned toward the determined end of the spectrum, especially since Reed was born. I felt a responsibility to make it work, and I have (mostly) enjoyed the weight that has brought to my life (in a non-caloric kind of way). But lately, that I feel Even More Determined. Maybe it’s fleeting. Maybe I will regret it someday. All the energy I put into something that was just a phase in my life and an immeasurable blip in the cosmic realm of the ever-expanding (shrinking?) universe. Time petered away on a mere hobby out of control that could have been applied elsewhere with more successful results.

Who knows. I don’t. And I try not to doubt.

In the meantime, here I am. On my precipice. Ready to jump. I can only hope there is a big pile of fluffy wool at the bottom to cushion the landing, should the fall be a long one.

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and reading All the Bright Places.

 

On A Mission

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I am a knitter on a mission. Focused. Driven. Determined. To finish this cowl. It’s all I want to do, knitting-wise. I love how the pattern is shaping up, and I can’t wait to share it with you. (Even though BOTH times I cast on my 300 stitches, I accidentally twisted before joining…so now it’s a true infinity loop. Yarn destiny, I suppose.)

And this yarn! Oh! It’s Woolfolk Sno. Soft as a new lamb. So soft it doesn’t even feel like wool. As my cowoker says: It glows.

It really does glow.

I have set aside all my other 501 knitting projects and 301 blog-related tasks. None of that sounds good now. They must wait, but their time will come soon enough. I promise I have a lot of exciting projects in the queue, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I am over hear. Wishing I didn’t need sleep.

 

 

Essential Knitting Accessories

Essential knitting accessories that will truly improve your Knitting Quality of Life (KQL).

Oh knitters.

Yesterday on the way to preschool, Reed and I were listening to a children’s story podcast about a little girl having an adventure in the forest. The little girl just happened to be wearing a scarf. When the story was over, Reed asked:  Mama, will you knit me a scarf?

My heart pretty much cracked wide open.

Yes, my dear. I will knit you a scarf.

Like many of you, I reserve the large majority of my meager knitting budget for yarn. It just can’t be helped, and I won’t deliberate the matter further. I know you understand.

That said, now and again I come upon a knitting accessory that I covet but continually pass up. Because $XX for a (swift, ball winder, cute stitch markers, blocking mats, blocking wires, FILL IN THE BLANK HERE) could be allocated toward nice yarn. I can’t wear blocking mats, but I can wear socks.

Right?

Right.

I knew things had to change a few weeks ago when I caught myself stuffing a my cowl-in-progress in a paper grocery sack on the way out the door. A paper sack can serve many purposes, but it was a clear sign of desperation on my part.

We all hit rock bottom sometimes.

Lately I have made a few exceptions to my Knitting Budget is For Yarn Only Policy, and they have been game changers. Worth every penny. I am forwarding my discoveries on to you here, in case you also might enjoy the little knitting delights I have stumbled upon of late. (Note anything with an * is an affiliate link, which I wouldn’t include if I didn’t swear by the product and the competitive price whole-heartedly. Thank you for being you!)

Essential knitting accessories to truly improve your Knitting Quality of Life (KQL).

Knitting Pouches

I spontaneously bought my new favorite travel pouch from this Etsy shop  after seeing it on another blog. I had browsed Etsy before for such an item but quickly drowned in the zillion billion gatrillion options. I LOVE this pouch. It is beautiful, it is lined, and it will fit a mid-sized project. Probably not a full size sweater. Maybe a nicely rolled tee without the extra yarn. Definitely a shawl. I no longer need a paper sock for my knitting projects.

I also just invested in this small Go Knit pouch (mine is red!) for my sock projects. I aspire to learn to knit and walk. So far, I have only tried it once. It went okay, but it was in the early morning and my fingers basically froze off. I hope to have more luck with this in the summer when I am less likely to lose a digit to frostbite. That said, this pouch is perfect for play group when I can be quickly be up and down and have my sock in hand (or rather, on wrist) while simultaneously semi-supervising my child. It also lets me keep my knitting on my wrist and off the ground/table/bench without fear of a child impaling themselves on my size 2 needles if I were to unwisely leave my knitting in the wrong spot.

Needles

I have a very random assortment of needles. I hope to someday soon by a set, but I honestly can’t decide on which set to buy. I started swatching my Woolfolk with an older pair of bamboo size 3 (size 3.25 mm)needles. I knew right away it was going to take FOREVER an upgrade was required, so I picked up a new pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles. Typically when I need to buy new needles, this is my go-to brand, as I have found them to make a big difference. I estimate I at least doubled my speed. Seriously. Go get some.

More Accessories

I haven’t bought my swift yet (soon!), but I have my eye on this one. The price is competitive (lower than WEBS), and the reviews seem mostly positive. And as soon as I buy my swift, I want to invest in some stitch dictionaries. I have seen some positive comments floating on the web lately about this Japanese one, which I think is fascinating (although EXPENSIVE).

What knitting accessories have you stumbled upon lately that made a big difference for you? Please share!

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and STILL reading The Japanese Lover.

When Blocking IS a Good Idea

When blocking is a good idea and basically rescues your project from certain death.

Call me a hypocrite. I know. I can’t even follow my own advice on the matter. I didn’t want to block this cowl because I feared the honeycomb stitch would wither flatly away. Before blocking, it was so plump and dimensional. And I loved that.

When blocking IS a good idea. A compendium to a prior post on why blocking is NOT a good idea.

I developed this cowl in a big, fat loop because I wanted to avoid grafting. While I have FINALLY done enough grafting this past year to remember how to do it without re-watching the YouTube tutorial every stinking time, it’s still not my favorite thing to do. It requires a lot of concentration. I know myself well enough to know that my brain is not currently capable of such undivided focus.

My big ol’ loop construction created a problem. Of the devastating variety. My simple ribbed edges were folding in on one end, and the cowl was rolling a bit on the other end. The honeycomb was so luscious, but my cowl seemed fatally flawed.

I thought for sure it was going to require scissors. Or something drastic. Again.When blocking IS a good idea. A compendium to a prior post on why blocking is NOT a good idea.

I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I didn’t want to do much. I sat with it for a week or so, picking it up now and again to ponder. I felt lazy. I didn’t want to cut the darn thing or unravel the cast-off. I just didn’t.

So I blocked it. Come as it may. What the hek.

I hereby offer this post as a compendium to my former opinion.When blocking IS a good idea. A compendium to a prior post on why blocking is NOT a good idea.

I was EXTRA careful to wring out all of the water before laying it flat to dry. I hoped this alone might spare my beloved stitch.

It didn’t. My plump honeycomb wasn’t quite so voluptuous. BUT my edges were behaving themselves and my cowl was rescued for a perilous fate as a cat blanket. Good thing too, because it’s a cashmere blend (Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in Dried Rose).When blocking IS a good idea. A compendium to a prior post on why blocking is NOT a good idea. Now that all the drama is over and I’ve  come out the other end all smiles and sunshine, I love this cowl. It’s long enough to loop twice perfectly. The worsted yarn gives it enough heft to stand firmly in front of my neck, showing off what’s left of the honeycomb luscilicious with just the right pizazz, snuggle, and warmth.

I am happy.

Which just goes to show, sometimes you can be standing on the brink, fearing all is lost, drowning in the dark morass of knitting hell.

And then you block, that magical formula of wool and water that, with a bit of luck, has the uncanny ability to make all right in the realm of yarn and needle.

Knit Early and Often

Things that make me grouchy:

  1. Not being able to knit every day.
  2. Not being able to walk or exercise every non-working day.  (I just spontaneously bought this GoKnit pouch to finally try walking and knitting socks. I believe this might fall under the category of two birds with one stone. Or, a future broken ankle. Remains to be seen.)
  3. Not enough knitting time every day (yes, this is different than #!).
  4. Lamenting that I don’t have more time to knit, wondering how I can swindle more time to knit, and feeling hopeless that there is no possible way I can come up with more time to knit (also different than #1 and #2).
  5. A lack of a second pair of hands (so I can knit two projects at once).
  6. Lace that unravels explosively just when you are almost finished knitting a long and complicated lace section (I promise to tell you all about this soon). It’s tragically amazing how quickly the light at the end of the tunnel can extinguish into a bleak, miasma of tangled yarn.
  7. Spending eight months working on a top and then the final two weeks fretting that it looks too long (or too…something).
  8. Five active knitting projects on the needles (or close to the needles), all of which are in various stages of incomplete and not quite right. My only upcoming hope for minor knitting success: toddler socks. One must find redemption wherever one can. Even if it is knitting a dish cloth. Or stockinette hat. There is no such thing as a knitting project that is too easy, as long as it is finished.
  9. Insufficient levels of sleep, chocolate, and quiet time, which often lead to failure to correctly read a pattern such at K1, P3 can easily become P1, K3 for 30 rows until you (uh humI) have realized your (my) fatal error.
  10. Not being able to knit every day (yes, this is the SAME as #1 but was worth repeating, in my opinion)

Can you tell I am trying to figure out how to rework my life to wiggle in more time for knitting? So far, it’s looking bleak.

I know self-driving cars are quite controversial, but I really do hope they figure them out soon in a super safe and affordable sort of way. That would add a minimum of six hours of knitting time to my life. Now, that is something I could get behind.

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On the upside (because I am forever the optimist):

The swatch is for my Rosemont Carigan office knit-a-long is complete. My coworker has a head start and is already approaching the arms! Eep! I swore to myself that I had to first finish my Waterlily Tee (this weekend ???) before I can cast on another top. I loved working with Quince & Co. Lark during swatching. So squishy! I am really looking forward to this project. I have already decided that I want to use Lark to knit a second (and properly sized Kitty’s Chemise).

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In the mean time, off I go to prioritize my knitting projects. Time to make some lists. Just soon as I can find my sparkly pink gel pen. Because what knitter doesn’t feel inspired by a sparkly pink gel pen?

Exactly.

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I am proudly joining Ginny’s Yarn Along. Reading Where Did You Go, Bernadette: A Novel (which I absolutely can’t put down…even at 3:00 a.m.)

Valentines Mitts…For Me!

Simple

Happy Valentines Day to me! Happy Valentines Day to me (and you)! Happy Valentines Day dear knitters evvverrrrrryyyywhhhherrrreee! Happy Valentines Day to me (and you!)Simple mitts anyone can knit!

I don’t know how I get side tracked on these tangent knitting projects, but I do. Somehow instead of working on all my other “important” projects, I decided to knit another pair of these mittens from Susan B. Anderson. Except this time I didn’t fret about the color (Malabrigo Worsted in Orchid) being too bright because I like bright.

So there. Simple mitts anyone can knit.

This is a super simple mitten pattern. Definitely a great first-time-ever knitting mittens pattern. Or, my best friend’s birthday was yesterday and I totally need a special gift ASAP pattern.

Whatever works.

I mostly knit these in the car and a dimly lit hotel room. They basically knit themselves. This time, I chose to knit the smallest size because my hands are, uhm, petite.  Simple mitts anyone can knit.

What says Valentines Day more than pink orchid mittens?

Exactly! That’s what I thought too.

I have decided that is perfectly acceptable to give yourself gifts for special (and non-special) occasions. Especially if you make them yourself.

Additional items beyond knitting included in the category of Acceptable Self Gifting: cake (especially varieties involving chocolate or lemon), chocolates (although that’s a bit of work and requires the use of a candy thermometer, which I always find stressful), jewelry, clothing, plants from the garden nursery, and gift certificates for house cleaning conducted by someone other than you. Simple mitts anyone can knit.

As soon as I knit myself new mittens, we had a heat wave. Fruit trees are booming everywhere I look. I even planted the spring garden with little Reed the other day. Peas, spinach, onions, garlic, kale, chard, cauliflower and three distinct varieties of broccoli. This will be good luck for my mittens, however. This happens every year when the weather warms up mid-winter. I jump the gun thinking we have survived the super cold days and go plant the early garden. Then we promptly get an ice storm and two straight eerily dark weeks months of freezing rain and snow.

There’s hope for these mittens yet.

Knit Your Way Around the World

Knit your way around the world!

It looks like a bomb went off, but we are home, complete with dirty laundry exploding from every which way, suitcases tossed aside precisely where they don’t belong, and and a fridge that offers only mustard, almond butter, and stale sour cream. The return landing may not be pretty, but it was worth the pain.Knit your way around the world!In cased you missed it, we road tripped down to Monterey, California, visiting the aquarium (twice!) and enjoying the perfect beach weather. It was a LONG drive with two adults, one toddler, an elderly dog, a tricycle, and a scooter crammed into one dirty Subaru with a reasonable amount of luggage.

Like any obsessively addicted knitter, advanced research led me to Monarch Knitting, which happens to be a flagship store for the Quince & Co. yarn. It’s part of my plan for the year to knit up a bunch of patterns from Hannah Fettig’s cruelly brilliant  Home & Away: Knits for Everyday Adventures. Somehow I swindled a coworker into promising to knit the Rosemont Cardigan with me.

Miracles. They do exist.

I called ahead to make sure Monarch Knitting wouldn’t freakishly be closed for some sort of renovation and resolved to stop in to select my Rosemont yarn and touch Quince & Co. wool for the first time ever in Real Life (so far, I’ve only worked with their linen).  Knit your way around the world!I wasn’t sure when exactly I would be able to jaunt into Monarch Knitting, so I lugged my copy of  Home & Away with me everywhere we went in my backpack.

Some random beach? It came along.

Aquarium Day Two? Yep.

Better to heft the extra weight than risk arrival at the target LYS without the pattern. I believe that would have fallen under the category of Knitting Blasphemy.  Knit your way around the world!Ultimately, I did make it into Monarch Knitting and selected my Quince & Co. Lark colorway (Wasabi!) in under ten minutes (it was one of the handful of colorways they had with the required ten skeins in stock), along with a spontaneous acquisition of two skeins of new-to-me Woolfolk’s Sno in White/Silver. This yarn is 100% merino wool and is so stinking soft that it just blows my (over-caffeinated) mind. All I want to do lock myself in a (well lit) closet and knit myself some kind shawl/stole/wrappy thing that I snuggle in all day, every day. I am basically going to pet this yarn incessantly until I can finish some projects and allow myself to cast on.

Pet. Pet. Pet. Woolfolk Sno yarn.

Along the way, I did accomplish a respectable amount of car knitting, making progress on my man socks and Valentine’s mittens. There was an unmentionable incident involving a pot hole and an airborne double pointed needle that is now forever lost in the slot between the passenger seat and center console. On the upside, at least it didn’t poke out my eye.

Right?

Right.Woolfolk Sno yarn. So soft! All this travel knitting really got me thinking: wouldn’t it be amazing to knit your way around the world? To venture off here and there (Italy! New Zealand! Borneo!) and whip up this and that along the way. Discover yourself. Discover the world. Pack some yarn from home (just in case) and find some new yarn along the way.

When Elizabeth Gilbert did her whole Eat, Pray, Love bit, she really missed out by not including a section on stopping over somewhere and learning to knit. She could have done the knit journey first and fixed her life right then and there–no Italy, India, or Bali needed (although you might as well visit those places, too…since your suitcase is already packed and no one is expecting you home anytime soon).

Given the three-year-old in my life, I imagine it will be a while before I knit myself around the world. In reality, it is just as difficult to knit while traveling as it is to knit at home. Stolen moments here and there when everyone is sleeping or cleverly strapped into a five-point harness system.

In the meantime, the dream lives on. Maybe you’ll join me.

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along. I just finished reading You Should Have Known and really enjoyed it in a real page-turner way. Now I need a new book.

Knit Dispatch From the Road

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It has been a beautiful, busy weekend, with much more to come. We’ve left the drippy weather up north and headed south in search of sun, arriving in lovely Monterey, California. There has been a bit of car knitting, a bit of knitting by the dim lit morning light of the hotel window while the rest of the family dreams on, and a little bit of Knit Tourism with a quick, quick, quick stop into Monarch Knitting  where I was able to touch my first Real Life Quince yarn. Such a lovely shop, bright and airy and full of all things dreamy and woolful. Husband lingered in the car with the sleeping babe, so it was just a quick in and out for me. Onward we traveled to the sunny, warm beaches with silky white sand that seemed to go on for ages, interrupted only by the craggy rock ledges of the California coastline. The adventure continues tomorrow, with the promise of more car knitting and sunshine. Knit on. image

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Denial in Knitting–Let’s Face It!

What to do when you are ready to overcome denial and admit your knitting project isn't quite right.

This may be ill-advised, but I have come to the realization that denial is a fairly essential part of life. At least my life.

As in:

  • No, my pants are certainly not tighter today that than they were a weak ago. (And no, the cookie I just ate that was as big as my face had nothing to do with it…why do they even bake cookies so incredibly big???)
  • I am absolutely positive I can make it home without my car running out of gas.
  • Surely my bank’s online checking account statement is just, well, off a bit.

Like that. Denial. Pure and simple.

The good stuff.

Denial is also a vital element of my knitting life. The way I tell myself a new project I am working on will turn out GREAT–the best cowl/mittens/hat/scarf ever knit in the entire knitting history of humanity. Despite a flaw. Not the kind of mistake you can tink back and fix, either.

I am not talking about a dropped stitch or a missed increase. I am talking about a Design Flaw.

Design flaws lend themselves to a particular flavor of denial. When ready (deep breath!), the knitter can be brave, honest, and ultimately put aside the rose-colored glasses for the knitty-gritty truth and see the options for what they really are.

Options Available to Knitters Who Have Been In Deep, Deep, Deep Denial

  1. Frog the whole project. Set down the needles. Unravel. Wind the yarn. Start a new. This isn’t so bad if you haven’t gotten so far yet.
  2. Scissors.  I know it sounds scary, but it’s possible. A slight pain, true. Scissors are a better option when your project is quite far along and the fatal flaw is closer to the cast-on edge.
  3. Morph your project into something…different. Sweater too big? Make it a robe. You made two right-handed mitts (I do this every stinking time!!!). Make two-left handed mitts.
  4. Decide denial is really the best path forward. Bury project as-in in the back of the closet, behind your wedding dress. (So far, it hasn’t come to this. Yet.) IT NEVER HAPPENED.

I have this sinking feeling that I am heading straight for Option 2. Again. You think I would have learned the first time. I could have sworn I had found a solution. An improved design approach.

I didn’t. I just made a slightly different mistake.

My cast-on edge just isn’t jiving with my itty bitty honeycomb pattern, and their is a fold in my cowl. I won’t know for sure until it is off the needles (see, I am STILL in denial!), but I don’t want a fold in my cowl. The fold didn’t look so bad at first. (They never do…) As my project has grown, my design flaw is becoming so apparent that even the strongest form of denial (and it is strong, I assure you…) can no longer hide the situation. My design has a, well, issue, and I need to fix it.

Bam.

Honeycomb stitch.

I love the rest of my project. The yarn (Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted) is particularly soft (cashmere blend!). The color (Dried Rose) is divine. I can’t quite let go of the entire thing. Even though I am tempted to frog 250+ meters and start all over. To make it again, perfect from the outset. Two weeks of solid knitting down the drain.

But I just can’t.

Honeycomb stitch.

The last time I used scissors, I had to rescue 136 stitches. This time: 248.

Looks like I better stalk up on wine and chocolate. I am going to need it.

Linking up with Ginny for the Yarn Along. Just started reading You Should Have Known.

Best Shoes for Hand Knit Socks

The good news:  I finished these socks. This means there are now three pairs of hand knit socks roaming around my sock drawer.

Bad news: my shoe situation is shameful. It’s been years since I purchased non-sneakers. YEARS. Apparently I am not a footwear addict. I have a strong, loving relationship with my cobbler. But it’s time.

My conundrum: which shoes to buy? I think I have mused on this topic previously and received several comments that Keen shoes were tops to pair with hand knit socks. I hate to say it, but the Keen shoes just aren’t doing it for me (although I do own a couple of pairs of Keen boots).

For some reason, I have my head stuck on loafers. Even though I don’t own any. (And, can you wear loafers with socks? Or is that dorky?) Last week, I ordered these loafers from Amazon in the color black. They were affordable and had two-day free shipping.

Ick. Return. Some things just aren’t worth free shipping and affordable prices.

I want shoes that will compliment my knitted socks and not overly wear away at them. Is that too much to ask?

I also haphazardly started a Pinterest Board for shoes for hand knit socks…but I didn’t get too incredibly far. And note, none of the shoe models are wearing socks with the shoes! Very loafer based, and many styles out of my price range…The cheaper the better, although under $100 would be nice.

Typically my non-sneaker shoes that I wear to work have a bit of a heal to mitigate the fact that I am SHORT. Lengthens the legs. Or so I hope.

So knitters, this is my query: which shoes should I buy??!?!?!?!!?!?

Linking up with Ginny.  Reading Wishes and Stitches. Might as well finish the cheesy knitting trilogy…

 

 

 

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