I Like Big Shawls and I Cannot Lie

Did you have a good weekend? I hope so – I did! It wasn’t super eventful, just a collection of happy things. We went to the symphony Friday night and heard Mahler’s 4th, we walked to our little downtown area Saturday morning for an art show and farmer’s market, and I spent the rest of the weekend watching tennis, knitting, and reading. If only we could have had another three-day weekend!

I got so much knitting done. I made it to the next-to-last repeat of the first houndstooth section on Back to the Fuchsia. It’s very addictive but not something I can work on while watching tennis, or anything really. So for my tennis watching, I cast on two new shawls: a one-skein Be Simple Variations (free on Rav) with a skein from my Iowa trip and the Cupcake Crescent Shawl (on Lovecrafts) with my most recent new yarns.

I’m not 100% sold on the green one. I like it, but I’m thinking I want that yarn to be something lighter, airier – maybe lace. So it’s on hold for the moment. But the Cupcake Crescent?? I’m obsessed with that color combo, so much that I’m going back to buy another skein of the purple variegated. The pattern calls for somewhere around 450 yards of each color but it’s very customizable so I figured I’d adjust the sizes of each section to use my 400-yard skeins. But now that I see how it knits up? I want to make it full-size! I might want to add another section! I just want options, and I won’t be mad about having leftover yarn. (This is Kim Dyes Yarn, Sourdough Sock, in Shamrock and Tropical Daydream.)

Other things I’m loving: I’m watching Friday Night Lights. I know, I’m VERY late to this particular party, but the idea of football always put me off. But then when I loved Ted Lasso despite not liking soccer, I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s not too much football, I love Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, and I’ve always been a fan of serial dramas. Even the husband is enjoying it and he thought I’d lost my mind when I started watching it!

Books I recently finished that I loved: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (romance among scientific researchers), The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell (little bit of magic, little bit of romance), and Happy Place by Emily Henry (estranged fiancees must pretend to still be together). Apparently I’m in a romance-heavy phase with my reading.

Okay, better get to work – let’s do this thing, friends! Happy Monday.

KT Tunstall in Iowa

You may remember a few months ago I bought tickets to see KT Tunstall, a Scottish folk/rock singer/songwriter whose music I’ve loved for ages. She wasn’t coming to my city, but Des Moines was close enough – less than three hours away. My local concert buddy had plans already but the husband said he’d join me even though he’s not really a fan. Then a couple of weeks before the concert, he wasn’t able to take the time off work anymore. No worries, I have three friends in Iowa, surely one of them could be my date! Well, one had plans and the other two weren’t interested. I briefly considered not going because who wants to go to a concert by themselves? But I quickly decided I’d regret it too much if I didn’t go – and thank goodness for that because I had a blast.

It helps that I’m an introvert who enjoys being alone … a LOT. I need regular alone time to be happy. So two days mostly on my own ended up being a treat! I drove down Tuesday morning and spent a couple of hours puttering around Valley Junction, an adorable downtown neighborhood. I visited the yarn shop, the pen shop, the bookstore, and several little antique/gift shops. I had a burger and a cider at a tavern. Then I drove out to another independent bookstore and hit a nearby record store too. I checked into my hotel, rested for a little while, then got ready to meet two of my Iowa friends for dinner. We had a great time and I made it to the venue with plenty of time to visit the merch table – gotta get the concert tee! – and get a glass of wine. It was held at Hoyt Sherman Place, a historic building that used to be a family home. It was gorgeous – beautifully restored and maintained – and I wish I could have toured the whole place.

But the show, the show was the whole reason for this trip, and it was so so good. I was in the fifth row of the center section so the seats were perfect. I got goosebumps when she came out and started singing just from the thrill of hearing the song in person. She was funny and chatty and her voice sounded fantastic. Plus it was just her on stage, no band or anything! She had two guitars, one acoustic and one electric, plus an amp and a looping machine. (I don’t know what it’s actually called, sorry!) She’d record a couple of seconds of beating her guitar with her hand for percussion, or singing a background vocal, and it would just repeat during the song. It was impressive. My only complaint was that the show was too short! It was a co-headlining show with Martin Sexton (I hadn’t heard of him before but he put on a good show) and he and KT each did about an hour of music.

So was it weird or awkward to be there alone? Honestly, not really. I had a couple of moments where I felt self-conscious, but once I got seated, it was no big deal. Would I still rather go with someone else? Yeah, it’s nice to have company, someone to chat with before the show starts, someone to rehash the show with after it ends. But I think I enjoyed the show itself just as much as I would have with a date.

The next day I visited another yarn shop before dropping in for a quick chat with Sarah. She wasn’t feeling well and I was both tired and ever-so-slightly hungover (oops) so I didn’t stay long, and I was on the road home by lunchtime. Sadly, I didn’t think to take a photo of my stash enhancements before putting them away, but you can probably imagine – there was plenty of purple along with a bit of teal and pink. Three skeins have already been wound so I can cast them on soon, so you’ll see them soon enough.

Hopefully I’ll remember this experience the next time I feel weird about doing something alone – and I do it anyway!

Back to the Fuchsia!

I know I said I had four new things to cast on in June, but I’ve only managed to get one on the needles so far. I know – it’s early yet and I have a whole weekend in front of me!

I’m doing a KAL of this Back to the Fuchsia shawl with Marilee and I’m super excited about it. It’s my favorite type of color work: mosaic knitting! And I love the combination of black, white, and pink. Well, mine is closer to charcoal, cream, and pink because I wanted to work mostly from stash. The cream is Malabrigo Sock, I think, and the charcoal is a silk/merino blend from Julie Spins. I’m going to be cutting it very close with this two so fingers crossed I don’t run out! The pink is La Jolla from Baah Yarn that I got in Iowa — I haven’t told you about Iowa yet but I will, maybe tomorrow!

I’ve gotten halfway through the first houndstooth section and I’m really enjoying this knit! I have to look from a bit of a distance to see the pattern but I know once it’s done and blocked, it’ll be great. Can’t wait to get to the first pink section!

This past week has been a long one, even though it was only four work days. I slipped on a floor wet from dog slobber (Thanks, Grace) and bent a toe. It hurt like a mother all that night and bruised up nicely, but now it’s just a little tender. I also got to take the husband to the ER for some stitches – he fell on his run and cut his brow bone. I have to say, his bruise is much more impressive than mine! I’m just glad he wasn’t hurt worse. So I’m glad to see the weekend and relax with some knitting and the French Open!

Happy Saturday, friends.

FO: Kitation Shawl

I finished my Kitation shawl over the weekend. This was Casapinka’s pattern for Local Yarn Store Day, free with the purchase of any two skeins of fingering yarn. I was buying two skeins of Malabrigo Ultimate Sock anyway, so I thought, what the heck – let’s use it for this pattern! Well, this shawl felt like it took six months, not one. This was not one of my favorite projects.

I can look at the photos and recognize that it’s attractive, though for me that might be more about the colors than the pattern. So why was I not a fan? I had to carry two yarns throughout, which just got kind of annoying, but it’s not a dealbreaker. The first half of the pattern was almost like a stitch sampler separated by stockinette sections, which I kind of liked – it kept it interesting at least.

Then we got to the second half. It was mostly made up of four big sections that were basically the same: one side of vertical columns made with slipped stitches, one side of horizontal stripes, and each section alternated sides. As a concept, it looks cool. Knitting four sections of it got really boring. Like, REALLY boring. Plus, they recommended going up a needle size because of the slipped stitches, which I totally understand but then it made the stockinette sides looser than the previous stockinette sections. I noticed that more after blocking, and it’s admittedly a minor thing that I probably just noticed because I was already irked.

And then, after getting through all those boring sections, I made it to the “Garter Border”. Yay, the border, that shouldn’t be too long, right? Haha, wrong! The side to the right of the CDD had to go from 38 stitches down to 2 stitches, with one decrease every other row. I’ll let you do the math (mostly to prevent embarrassing myself in case I do the math wrong). Suffice to say, it was a much longer section than I expected a “border” to be and I was already so ready to be done with this shawl!

Finally! It was done, I blocked the sucker – which was its own challenge thanks to the unusual shape – and tried it on, both on myself and my mannequin. It was … meh. It’s awkward to style, because one side is so much longer than the other.

Now I’ve got a stupid shawl I probably won’t wear, so it will go in a bag of donation shawls for when I figure out where to donate shawls.

Oh, the pattern? Yeah, it’s apparently only available on Ravelry, even though Casapinka has a Payhip page. So if you can use Ravelry, and you’re still interested in this pattern, here’s the link.

I feel like such a grump with this post, but not all patterns are for all people. Who knows, one of you might love this design. And tomorrow is a new month and I have FOUR new projects all ready to cast on, whee!

Progress Update

Progress on what? Me, I guess – life in general. I haven’t taken any photos of my WIPs to share, though I did buy some new yarn today, as well as some fun little treasures from a new stationery place, May Day Paper & Post, which just happens to be a couple of blocks away from my favorite yarn store. I’ve been focusing on my Kitation shawl and really hope to have it done by the end of the month. With a long weekend in front of me, I think my odds are good!

Other than that, I’ve mostly just been aiming to get from one day to the next lately. Warning – I’m going to share a bit about Grace’s cancer progression, so if you need to stop reading now, I totally understand.

Duncan’s limp has gotten better but he’s lost a lot of stamina. Our walks have been significantly shortened because he has to stop and take breaks – which is fine with me – but I don’t want to overdo it with him. He’s due for his annual exam soon anyway, so I can get the vet’s input then. We’ve been watching a little growth on Jack’s rear leg for months now, and noticed some redness that concerns me, so he goes to the vet on Tuesday. I’d like to have it removed for peace of mind – lumps on dogs worry me more than they used to.

And Grace, bless her little heart. She’s still in good spirits and doesn’t seem to be suffering. She’s lost a lot of muscle mass and has gotten pretty bony. After the initial shrinking when we started the prednisone, the tumor has resumed growing and has gotten quite large. Her breath is awful because she’s a perpetual mouth breather at this point, because the tumor makes the skin of her muzzle protrude so much. A few days ago she went off her kibble, but she was enthusiastic about the canned food I offered instead. Then she decided she didn’t want to eat as much of that. Something upset her system – probably the wet food? – so we were waking up to puddles of poo in the mornings. And the gas – OMG. Honestly, it was an awful couple of days and it made me wonder if we were close to the end.

But then she perked up. Why? Who knows. Maybe she ate something she wasn’t supposed to outside. But she’s happily eating her kibble mixed with wet food again, and still can manage a walk. She’s on a new med and a probiotic which should help with the diarrhea (and hopefully the gas too!). We have so many dog meds going that we keep detailed notes in the kitchen just to make sure we both remember everything.

It’s a lot, friends. I was reading Whit Knits’ blog, and she’s dealing with something similar with one of her cats, and her most recent post ended with this:

I’m also trying to give Ren as much lap and cuddle time as he wants, because he’s clearly fading, but that ends up making me feel a little bit trapped in the Poang chair, which is where he most likes to sit in my lap, and it also makes me just…sad, because I know what’s coming, and it’s not that I want it to come sooner, but this dragged out process of dying, of waiting for him to be doing badly enough that it feels right to ease him gently out, is just emotionally really tough.

And that’s exactly it. I don’t think I can say it any better than that. This process is heartbreaking and slow and I don’t want her to go but I hate watching her fade away. I’m grateful for everything that balances this out – my family, my knitting friends, my work friends, good books and good knitting projects and good TV shows.

If you’re still here – thanks for listening.

Sock It To Me Monday

Hooray, I finished a pair of socks for the first time in ages! This is only my second finished pair for the year, which is not typical for me. I actually cast on socks with this yarn on January 1. I was going to knit some paw print socks with some purple Araucania Huasco Sock Kettle Dyes, but it was slow going and then I gave up and decided to knit some simple socks instead. THREE MONTHS LATER, I have finally finished these simple socks. I’m not thrilled with them either.

On the first sock, I dropped a stitch and didn’t realize it until many rows later, so I used a crochet hook to bring it back up, but it was so many rows that it puckered the yarn a little bit. Maybe that will loosen up in the wash? And then, LOOK. They are not the same length. I know it won’t matter when I wear them but it bothers me nonetheless. These have now been tucked away in my sock drawer for fall, when I will pull them out and be happy to wear them because they’re such a pretty color and I will have forgotten how annoying the process was.

Anyway, how’s your sock knitting going?

FO: Classic Beanie

This has been kind of a strange week. It’s been a good week at work – I’ve been productive, felt confident that what I’m doing is good, made good connections. But at home, Duncan has been limping for about a week now. He went to the vet on Tuesday, and the vet said the motion of his knee (both knees have been surgically repaired) looked good and his bloodwork came back perfect. She said to give him an anti-inflammatory twice a day for two weeks, cut back on food to get his weight down, and keep walks slow and calm. I gave him two walks after that, and both times it clearly aggravated his knee to where he could barely put any weight on it at all. Duncan’s not a complainer so he wasn’t whining, but it was obvious he was uncomfortable. I talked to the vet again yesterday, and she said there was a chance he’s tweaked something so we’ll skip walks for two weeks and give him a chance to rest and heal. I’m really hoping that helps.

I also finished another donation hat this week, the Classic Beanie by Woolly Wormhead. It’s a simple, free pattern and just what I was looking for, but when it was done, I was a little worried – it looked like I’d knit a hat for a conehead! Thank goodness for blocking.

And I found my way back to sock knitting this week too, after a long hiatus where socks just weren’t doing it for me. I was working on my turquoise shorties with my fancy Signature DPNs, and it was fine, but then a couple of days ago I pulled out a purple sock, a second sock on my Knitters Pride SmartStix, and it just felt so comforting! I think partly it’s color (PURPLE) and partly it’s how the yarn feels in my hand (wool/nylon vs cotton/nylon/acrylic). I can’t tell if the needles make a difference. I do feel like I grip the Signatures more tightly, but I need to test them on a wool sock yarn to make an accurate comparison.

I hope to finish the purple sock this weekend – along with some house cleaning. I’m looking forward to a house guest arriving next Friday and I want to make sure she doesn’t know how we actually live, haha! Having company is always a good incentive to clean house, isn’t it?

Happy Saturday, friends.

Still Not a Dickie

It took three days but my Not a Dickie is finally dry and I got a good photo that shows it is indeed not a dickie!

Not only would this not fit right underneath another top, why would you want to hide this pretty lace? I’m very pleased with how it blocked out and am actually very glad I skipped one of the lace repeats.

Happy Monday, friends!

Local Yarn Store Day 2023

I wasn’t planning on celebrating this year. I have no need of new yarn (though that’s always true), and my favorite LYS is half an hour away, and I do love my lazy weekends at home. But then Trish at Yarn Social kept posting fun photos, and I had a wee bit of FOMO. Plus I hadn’t been there in ages, and the husband has been out of town for a few days so I had no one to tell me I shouldn’t go. (Not that he would say that anyway. But this is the story I’m telling myself.) And so, yesterday morning I found myself at the yarn store.

It was quite busy so the little shop was full and not easy to navigate at all times, but it was fun to be part of the mix. I spotted a couple of local knitters I follow on Instagram but was too shy to say hello. (I KNOW, I KNOW – knitters are typically lovely people and I should have just done it. Whatever.) Overall I feel like I restrained myself with what I purchased. I had the cutest little pink canvas project bag in my hands and managed to put it back by reminding myself of my collection of Joji bags.

I came home with two skeins of Malabrigo Ultimate Sock. Again and again, Malabrigo proves to be my favorite. Those colors, you know? And by buying two skeins, I also got a code for the special Casapinka yarn store day pattern, Kitation. I couldn’t resist casting on almost immediately. I also got two 50g skeins of Goosey Fibers in a lovely purple/black colorway just because, plus a little sheep pin and a teeny-tiny pocket knife! It opens and everything and you can use it to cut your yarn! Trish had hers on a chain around her neck but I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with mine.

I’m glad I went, and I’m glad I went early – by the time I was driving home, the traffic heading downtown for the NFL draft was building up. Because it was sunny and warm, I decided to stop at Home Depot for potting soil and a few new pots. Several of my plants had outgrown their pots but I was waiting for good weather to repot them outside. It really was a perfect day for it – sunny and 70. I repotted probably 10 plants and they look so much better in their roomier homes.

Then, since I was already grubby, I decided to give Jack a bath out on the deck with the hose. After that, because I am truly crazy, I gave Grace one too. She doesn’t enjoy the water but we got through it, and now both dogs are so soft and fluffy. I ran out of energy to bathe Duncan – he hates water more than the other two combined and I wasn’t ready for that tussle!

By then, it was mid-afternoon and I was pooped, so I spent the rest of the day with knitting and Bridgerton. Since almost everything I’m currently watching is something the husband and I watch together, I needed something new to watch while he was gone. It’s a frothy, addictive show, isn’t it? I’m enjoying it! Alas, the husband is due to come home this evening, so my Bridgerton watching will be limited to times he’s not around, because it’s definitely not something he would enjoy.

Yesterday was also Independent Bookstore Day, which I did not celebrate in person. I kind of celebrated, though, because my copy of the new Emily Henry book arrived, which I ordered from bookshop.org, a site that supports independent bookstore! Close enough for me.

Now, I’m off to enjoy my last few hours of solitude! Happy Sunday, friends.

Saturday Storytime

Have you heard of the Loose Ends Project? They match unfinished projects from loved ones who have passed away (or otherwise unable to finish them) with volunteer finishers. They offer the service for any number of crafts – knitting, crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch, spinning, weaving, and so many more. I signed up a couple of months ago to be a volunteer knitting finisher. It was quick and easy, and you can specify what types of projects or technique you love or want to stay away from. (Needless to say, I stated I could not do color work!) They try to match projects with finishers who are relatively close by, and I got an email earlier this week offering my first project – a pair of mittens needing thumbs.

I reached out to the submitter and discovered she lives just a half-mile away from me, so I was able to walk down to her house yesterday to meet her and pick up the project. She was an older woman, friendly and chatty, and seemed so pleased that I was going to finish the mittens. Her aunt had started them years ago for a child in the family. Now the children are all grown, but I’m going to finish the mittens and make a little hat to go with them, and hopefully she’ll find a home for them.

The thumbs were quick and easy. I started with size 7 needles but the stitches were too small and didn’t match the original, so I pulled them out and started over with size 8, which was perfect. Now to knit a hat!

Oh, and I did celebrate Local Yarn Store day – I’ll have to show you my treasures tomorrow! Happy Saturday, friends.