Christmas in August

I am not someone who counts down the days until I can put up my Christmas tree. I’m not eagerly awaiting fall and all things pumpkin spice. I love summer and would much rather be warm than cold. However, I do enjoy knitting for people I like, so I cast on the first Christmas gift of 2022 yesterday.

This will be a waffle beanie in Supernatural Yarns Fairy DK, color Amortentia. I’m pretty sure it will have a pompom, but I’m not sure yet if it will be a matching yarn pom or a coordinating faux fur pom. It partly depends on how much yarn is left! Which would you go for?

After spending so much knitting time on big projects, it’s a treat to knit something as small and quick as a hat. Here’s hoping they appreciate it!

Happy Sunday, friends!

Adventures with Malabrigo

While in Omaha last weekend, I happened upon some Malabrigo Arroyo in Lavanda, which just happens to be what I’m using to make my Riprap, the sweater with the unfortunate color change. I took a chance and bought the skein that looked the lightest, just in case I could use it to balance out the shift. In skein form, it looked lighter but once I wound it, I wasn’t so sure. Was it worth frogging over 4 inches of lace? Eh, what the heck, it’s DK weight and I knew the line would bother me forevermore if I didn’t at least try. So here’s where we’re at now:

As you can see, it’s not a huge difference but it’s enough that I’m glad I did it. At this point, I’m very glad this sweater does not have sleeves, and I’m looking forward to being done soon!

Happy Saturday, friends.

A Weekend in Nebraska

Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary and to celebrate we spent a long weekend in Nebraska. Our hotel was in Omaha, which is where we spent Saturday and Sunday. On Monday we drove to Lincoln for a few hours. We went to so many bookstores and record stores and yarn stores, plus several other fun little shops. We got confused with Omaha road signage and had several mostly mediocre meals, with a couple of exceptions (mostly the breakfast places). We turned off notifications and spent the days just enjoying the time together, and I felt very refreshed and relaxed afterward.

Now, I did not take photos of the yarn I bought. I kind of forgot but I’m also kind of embarrassed to show you the extent. I’ll just say, my stash is VERY well-fed this month. I went to four yarn stores. Five if you count the one that had a note on the door that said ‘We will be closed August 8th. We apologize for the inconvenience.’ Okay, fine, things happen, except this is the second time this has happened at this same shop. I won’t try them again. Thankfully there was a fantastic yarn store five minutes away that WAS open and was very happy to sell me lots of yarn!

My favorite yarn store was Wooly Mammoth in Omaha. She dyes yarn herself, lots of gorgeous rich solids and tonals, plus she carries indie dyers like A Whimsical Wood Yarn Co. and Cornbread and Honey. PLUS! She has a HEDGEHOG. Yes, a real live hedgehog, named Hank, and I got to meet him and pet him! He was prickly (shocker, I know). She offered to let me hold him but I was afraid I’d drop him.

Also in Omaha was Imagiknit, and that was a delightful store too. She had Emma’s Yarn plus other indie dyers plus some good bigger names too. It was a charming shop with great variety and fun little extras. I did go to one other store in Omaha but the vibes were off at that one. They had a lot of Koigu, Malabrigo, Madelinetosh, and Noro, and not much else. It was on the second floor of an art gallery, just tucked away on one side. It felt…strange. It felt like someone had decided to jump on the “knitting is trendy” bandwagon without really knowing the community. Anyway, I did find two skeins there but it didn’t inspire me so I didn’t take any photos.

Of course I found other things besides yarn — books mostly. I found fun things that made me laugh. The husband wants to get into leatherwork a little bit so we went to a leather store that smelled delightful and had so much gorgeous leather. I tried to convince him he could make project bags as good as Joji’s but I’m not sure we’re there yet. I’ll keep working on it!

We came home late Monday afternoon and spent our actual anniversary enjoying the peace and quiet at home. We marked the occasion by planting a Japanese maple and a purple hibiscus, and the husband cooked us a delicious dinner. I’m hoping we can do these short getaways more often now that we’re empty nesters — as long as I’ve got the boy to dog-sit for us!

A chip off the old block

Many moons ago, when my dad was a teenager, he got interested in photography. He worked for his high school paper, both writing and taking photos, and somewhere in there he got a camera. It was a Nikon F Photomic, and he had multiple lenses and two flashes and a fancy leather carrying case, as well as the hard case to pack it all in. When he died, it all came home with me. I knew I’d never actually use it, but I do like photography and I liked having that little connection.

This past summer, the boy took a road trip with his roommate. They drove out west, all the way to LA and back, and somewhere in there he found a vintage SLR camera from the 1970s at an antique store. He bought it and ever since has been talking about how fun it is, how cool it is. He bought film and took pictures during his trip and sent it off to be developed, but it takes weeks these days.

You probably know where this is going. Last night he came for dinner and after dinner I brought down the case so he could see my dad’s camera and equipment. We were all amazed at how well-maintained it all was, given that it was probably from the early 1960s. But that was my dad — he believed in taking good care of your things. We all had a great time poking through all the accessories and smelling the leather (that was mostly me) and trying to figure out how the camera worked. I even found a few rolls of film — we’re hoping those aren’t as old as the camera! He got one loaded into the camera and took a few shots.

It was a lot of fun, but the whole time, I kept thinking how much of himself my dad didn’t share. We never saw him use this camera. I don’t remember ever hearing him talk about it, or about the time of his life when he did use it. I don’t remember him ever doing anything with photography — he worked, a lot, to support our family of several kids and on the weekends he did stuff around the house and the yard.

But mostly I kept thinking about how much I wish he was still here to teach my son how to use the camera. I wish I could watch the two of them nerd out about cameras and photography. I think my dad would be absolutely delighted by him.

Of course I told my son to take the camera home with him. It never felt like it was mine anyway. I like to think I was just the caretaker, holding onto it for the right time and the right person.

You’d think I would know better

I’m disappointed in myself. Some of you may remember that I’m a big fan of Malabrigo yarns. Love their colors. I KNOW that they don’t do dye lots, that their yarns are kettle dyed in small batches. I KNOW that when you knit a larger object with multiple skeins, you really need to alternate skeins for a balanced color. I know all that and yet this is where I am right now:

Nothing subtle about that switch! I had four skeins of this, bought at three different times, and one skein is obviously quite a bit darker. Now here’s the thing: this sweater is knit in the round from the bottom up and then you split for the front and back and knit those individually back and forth. I did pretty well with the first side — I alternated skeins until the last inch or so of ribbing. One skein ran out and I figured I could get by with just the one color.

The darker color is there, but not quite as strikingly obvious as the other side. The problem is…well, the problem is me. I chose this pattern (the Riprap Top) because I could make it with just four skeins, but as I knit, I realized it was designed to be rather short. Oh, I can add a couple of inches to the length, no problem, I thought. And it probably would have been fine…if I hadn’t also accidentally made the front two inches longer. All of that means I now have one skein of yarn remaining, and it’s the disturbingly dark one. I don’t even know if it will be enough to finish the darned thing. Once I finish the back, all that’s left is ribbing around the armholes and seaming the shoulder closed, so those might not look quite as bad with the stupid dark yarn. I do have a small bit of a partial skein, so one option is to rip back those four inches and reknit, alternating as much as I can to at least ease into the dark and just assume that nobody cares what the back of my sweater looks like.

Another option is to buy another skein and try to color match the lighter skeins, but that defeats the stash-busting purpose a little bit.

The option I have currently chosen is to put it in timeout and work on something else. Before I choose either option for moving forward, I’m going to sort of try it on and see if I even like what it is so far.

So friends, if I have taught you nothing else, I hope I have taught you to alternate your skeins of Malabrigo if you didn’t buy them all at once!

It’s been a long time gone

I miss writing.

That’s not completely true. I miss writing for me. I write all the time now, for work. And I love it. But ever since I started my new job in January, I haven’t had the urge or mental energy for other writing-type things. My blogging motivation was gone completely. But the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling the tug to come back. I don’t know if it’ll last. I don’t know if it’ll be anything like it used to be. It doesn’t really matter — this space is mine, for me, and that’s the best thing about it.

So what’s happened in the last seven months? So much. The girl graduated college (magna cum laude!), got married, and moved from Colorado to Alabama.

The boy moved out. He’s renting a small house with a friend, still working hard on his music. He’s close by, maybe ten minutes away, so we get to see him pretty often still. We’re trying not to be needy or pressure him, and let him have his space to be independent, which I think he needed at first. But it’s been a few months and we’re starting to see him more often lately.

The husband and I are empty nesters now. And guys? I kind of love it. I miss the kids — of course I miss them; they’re delightful, fun people — but there’s also a calmness and peace about it being just the two of us. It was hard for the husband at first but I think he’s starting to appreciate it more.

Duncan had his second TPLO surgery in January and recovery was long and slow, unlike the first time around. He limped for months and we did two extra x-rays just to make sure it was still healing okay, and it was both times. He’s finally stopped limping and now we’re just trying to build up his stamina for longer walks again. He won’t ever be able to go on the super-long adventures that the husband took him on before, but I think he’ll be happy with shorter ones.

After almost a year of skin issues, Jack went to a doggy dermatologist and was diagnosed with a staph infection. After two rounds of a new, stronger antibiotic, his skin cleared up and he became even happier and bouncier than before. We even had lots of people in the house during the wedding stuff, and he didn’t freak out nearly as much as he used to! It’s very encouraging.

Grace, eh, she’s fine. Thank goodness knock on wood etc etc.

I’ve been knitting. Of course I’ve been knitting. I’ve made socks and hats and cowls and shawls and THREE sweaters (two of the same pattern). I’ve added 51 skeins of yarn to my stash and used up 52.

I’ve read 36 books this year, which is already four more than I read all of last year. I’m being more intentional about making time to read and picking up a book instead of my phone. It started as just trying to clear out my To-Be-Read shelves a little bit, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve got more new plant babies than I can count and I’m still obsessed with LEGO and it’s just super fun to have all these things in my life that bring me joy.

It’s also super fun to have a work environment that brings me joy. I don’t know that I have ever felt so at-home and comfortable in a job before. My teammates are funny and quirky, my boss is supportive and intuitive, and almost everyone I’ve met at the company is friendly and helpful. I get paid to talk to people and write several articles a month, and yeah it’s about banking so I don’t always understand it and it’s not sexy, but I’m learning about people and what they’re doing and what they’re passionate about. I mean, they’re asking me to write all the time, and they LIKE what I do write! So weird! It’s just kind of almost perfect, as much as a job can be.

So there you go. Maybe soon I’ll be back and tell you about my current WIPs! Thanks for listening, friends.

Afterthought: Happy Friday

I logged in today to discover that the post I thought I published Monday was still stuck in draft mode. Oops. I guess I’ve forgotten how to blog. Anyway, I’m learning a new knitting skill this year! I cast on for a Douglas cardigan and the pattern calls for afterthought pockets. Because I’m obsessed with my yarn choices and can’t stop knitting this, I’ve got my waste yarn and lifelines in (look down in the lower right part of the sweater), and I’ve moved on to separating the fronts and back. So far, afterthought pockets are super easy and I don’t know why I’ve avoided afterthought heels on my socks all this time!

Also, that yarn?? Omg. It’s Old Rusted Chair Squish DK in Bijou (purple), Offworld (speckle), and Ridin’ the Storm Out (charcoal) and it’s SO yummy to knit. This week I’ve also had something of an epiphany. I would like to read more, and I would like to not get bored knitting stockinette sweaters. Enter Libby, the library app on my iPad! I can easily and happily read while I knit simple and boring stockinette! This might be a game changer for me. I’ve already read four books this year (one was a re-read but still counts, right?) and have made so much progress on my sweater. I don’t think I’ll finish it before I go back to work next week, but I can get awfully close.

Speaking of next week, this guy will be having surgery on Monday.

Two years ago at this very same time of year, Duncan had to have TPLO surgery to repair a torn CCL in his left leg. Well, he started limping on the right leg on New Year’s Eve, and sure enough, we’re set for a second TPLO. And this time, since I’m in a new job, I can’t exactly just say “Hey I need to work from home for a week!” so we’ll be muddling through somehow. I will be working from home at least two days a week, maybe three, and I’m hoping my first week will be a little light. When he has to be alone, he’ll be contained in a tiny nook of the kitchen, doped up a bit with a mild sedative, and I’ll just have to check on him as often as I can. The boy will be around periodically too, so he’ll be able to help. Last time, I slept on a mattress in the living room with him because I felt bad for him being in a cone and contained so much, but I can’t do that again. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep doing that and I need to be able to function during the day. I’ll still feel bad, but he’ll be fine. It’ll be fine, it’ll all be juuuuust fine. Right? Right. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to visit the liquor store to stock up on essentials.

Happy Friday, friends.

Three months later

Here’s the weird thing: I haven’t really missed blogging, and I think I know why. I was doing a job interview recently and he asked about the blog and the knitting, if it was professional or fun, and I said I started it when I started knitting because I was looking for a community. I wanted to find my people. And, well, now I have. I have my wonderful fabulous knitting friends that I’ve found through this blog, and through those friends, and I have my work knitting friends, and maybe that’s what I needed and now the blog isn’t as critical for me. Of course, there’s also the fact that life and work has been super crazy and stressful the last few months and I haven’t had the time or energy. But I wanted to close out the year with a final FO post, and we’ll see what happens going forward.

But first, yeah, I mentioned job interview — I got a new job! I’m going to be a writer on an internal communications team of a regional bank chain, and I’m so excited. It feels fantastic for my career to become more closely aligned with what I love and what I’m best at. There were a lot of people at my old company that I’m sad to leave, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities I got there, but I’m very ready to move on … as soon as I know for sure I don’t have COVID. Because of course there are people who have symptoms and don’t say anything and don’t stay home, I’ve had a potential exposure and I woke up today with congestion and a headache. I’m vaccinated and boosted but I want to be cautious so instead of starting my new job on Monday, I’ll be starting the next week. NOT at all how I wanted to start with a new company, but it can’t be helped, and I’m glad they’re taking precautions to avoid future exposures. It also means I’m missing my sister’s wedding on Sunday and that sucks a whole heck of a lot. You can imagine how I’m feeling about that, and you’d probably be right. Better to miss it out of extra caution than infect anyone there. (Which is what everyone should do and if they did then maybe I wouldn’t be missing my sister’s wedding!!)

There’s no possible way I could catch you up on everything that’s happened in the last three months so I’ll just share my most recent finished object, the last one of the year. This is the Paramellowgram by Christine Parker. (That’s the Etsy link but it’s on Rav too.)

Isn’t it fabulous? I did mess up a little bit, and only did 10 rows of gray on each side instead of 20, so I blocked it out as wide as possible and I think it will work well as a wrap. I’m in love with the colors. I used two sets of the Capitol Rainbow minis from Marianated Yarns, plus a gray from LoloDidIt and a black whose brand I can’t remember.

Happy New Year, friends. Here’s hoping 2022 is a good one. And please, vaccinated or not, if you’re experiencing ANY symptoms of illness, please stay home if at all possible!

Knitting from stash

This is a never-ending topic for many of us knitters, isn’t it? “My stash is out of control, I’m going to knit from stash this year, I need to knit down my stash!”And now I’ve said stash so many times it’s lost all meaning and is just a noise. Anyway, for no apparent reason, I’ve been knitting random skeins from stash lately. I pull out a skein that’s calling my name and just go with it. I think I needed some quicker projects to balance out all my fingering weight shawls, so I’ve been working on worsted weight cowls. This one is the Zig Zag Cowl by Imagined Landscapes Designs, which I purchased on Payhip but now I can’t easily find the link. (It’s on Rav too, if you’re so inclined.) I love how it flares out, widening at the bottom, because my neck is always cold. It was a treat to do some lace with bigger yarn and needles, and it knit up so quickly — just 24 hours! And then I got done and realized my yarn was actually DK weight! Oh well, close enough, right?

The yarn is Souvenir DK from Destination Yarn and was a free gift from the yarn store in Eureka Springs, but it’s still a skein out of my stash. Depending on how I like it as I wear it, I might knit another one in a solid yarn to show off the pattern better, and maybe I’ll actually use worsted weight yarn. As soon as this one was done, I pulled out a skein of La Bien Aimee merino and cast on for another cowl, plus I’ve got a worsted weight hat going. And even with all that, I managed to finish a pair of socks today!

This is the Laurell memorial colorway from Hue Loco, such a gorgeous colorway for fall. Even though these aren’t my colors at all, I think this is beautiful yarn and I loved knitting with it … but I’m glad I can go back to my purples and pinks now! First my goal is to finish a pair of gift socks. These are for a non-binary loved one, knit in F*ck Your Binary from Dye Mad Yarns. They have small feet so surely I can get a foot done by the end of the weekend, right? Somehow it’s just so satisfying to cross off one more project before the end of the month.

Happy Saturday, friends.

A little bit of FOMO

I did not go to Rhinebeck this year.

I mean, I’ve never been to Rhinebeck, so this year isn’t really any different. I’m still seeing all the photos on Instagram of cool people meeting other cool people and wearing awesome knitwear and generally having a fabulous time, and it’s convincing me that I’m missing out big time by not being there.

But! I DID go to Iowa! Sarah had free tickets to a musical, and she knows I love musicals, so I zipped up the highway on Friday morning to spend about 24 hours with her. The musical (The Band’s Visit) was NOT our jam and we would have left at intermission had there been one, but we still had fun. Saturday morning we had a mini-reunion of our Wisconsin group (very much missing Alissa!) for a couple of hours of knitting, plus donuts that we didn’t have to wait in a long line for. So I basically had my own low-stress mini Rhinebeck, and saved a shit ton of money in the process.

Take that, FOMO!

Happy Sunday, friends.