Collector or Hoarder?

This post isn’t really about yarn. While I do have a substantial yarn stash, I’m a collector of many things, including pens. Not just any pens. Fine pens, mostly. Beautiful, well-made, unusual, not-cheap pens. I have a particular fondness for fountain pens. My collection has outgrown its current storage solution, which to me only means I need more storage. But I’m also starting to question myself. I’ve been collecting mostly based on looks, but lately I’ve been using them enough, and getting a wide enough variety, that I’m starting to develop strong opinions about how they write. Now I have a couple of pens that I think are beautiful, but I don’t love to write with them.

While I recognize intellectually that it makes no sense to keep a pen you don’t like to use, there’s that collector/hoarder part of me that wants them to stay in my collection. Partly it’s a money thing: I hate to sell things for less than I paid for them, and I don’t think these pens are valuable enough to make me a profit. And partly it’s that I’m selfish and want ALL THE THINGS to be mine, especially pretty things.

Maybe I need to focus on a different perspective. If I sell them, even if it’s a little bit less than I paid, I’m still getting some money back, and I’m reclaiming some space in my collection for something that might be delightful both to look at and to use.

Like I said, my brain knows what I should do. I’ve even done it before with yarn, sold beautiful yarns that weren’t meant for me for whatever reason. I still have a large yarn stash, but they’re all yarns I love and want to use eventually. Why am I struggling now? Not sure. Still, I think I’m on the way to being able to let go. I just need to write with them some more to make sure.

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Do you have something you struggle to let go of, even though you know you should?

Two Finished Gifts

I feel like I’m running in place with my Christmas knitting. I finish projects but I still have ones waiting in the wings, so I don’t feel like I’m getting ahead. But still, I did finish two projects the other day, and that’s a relief. The first is the pair of Lightning McQueen mittens, the project where the first mitten came out too big and I had to frog it and reknit it. My second try was much more successful.

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Hooray, two matching mittens! These are actually a birthday gift that I’ll give today, so here’s hoping they actually fit the little boy they’re for. Pattern is World’s Simplest Mittens by Tin Can Knits.

My second FO is a pair of Christmas-gift socks, the Strutting Peacock socks that I’ve had on the needles since mid-November. (Feels like longer.) This wasn’t a fun knit for me. I don’t think I like the Knit Picks Chroma for socks, at least not for socks with twisted stitches. The colors are pretty, and the final socks do feel dense and warm, but the yarn sticks to itself a lot, making tinking and frogging difficult. I bought more colors in the big sale, so I’ll try another pair with a simpler pattern and see if I like it better.

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I do like the look of the pattern. It took a little while for me to memorize, but I was able to do the second sock mostly without the pattern. My only modification was to do a stockinette foot rather than carry the pattern down, to make for faster knitting. I think I’d like to try this pattern again with better yarn.

Last night was a band concert, the girl’s last District Band concert. She played beautifully, they sounded wonderful, and I had lots of knitting time. I chose the simplest of knitting so that I could watch her while I listened and knit, and made good progress on my Scrappy Cowl.

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This is a pretty fun project. I think I’m going to like this cowl a lot! But for now I’ve set it aside because I need to focus on more gift knitting. The boy has a girlfriend, and he would like me to make a cowl for the girlfriend. I like the boy, so I will do my best to complete that along with the other two gift projects on my list! Are you done with your gift knitting yet?

Thrift Store Treasures

Do you like thrift stores as much as I do? I forget to go very often, and I don’t find good stuff every time, but when I do? Man! It’s so much fun. Today was a GREAT day. I found two sturdy plastic bins for dog toys, a cheap blanket for the dogs to lay on, two sweaters, and two bags of assorted craft supplies. Those two bags are the best part, and that’s even after I set aside the old ugly spools of ribbon and small ball of scratchy acrylic yarn. Let’s start with the first bag, shall we? I grabbed it as soon as I saw the DPNs.

IMG_5342For $4.99, I got these treasures! YES! Those are indeed Addi Turbos! How about that?? The bamboo straights are a duplicate for me, but at that price, who cares?IMG_5343

Here’s the second bag. You can’t see the tag very well, but it was a whopping $3.99. And you can probably see why I snatched it up without even looking to see what else was in there!IMG_5340That’s right: another set of Addi Turbos!! Again, the size 9 bamboos are a duplicate, but the rest aren’t, and are great additions to my needle collection.IMG_5341

I’m pretty pleased with myself, guys. What’s the best thing you’ve found at a thrift store?

Knitting Gone Wrong

I found out recently that one of my nephews was in need of mittens. I’d made him a pair a couple of years ago, but somehow one got lost, and plus he’s grown since then. Aunt Knitter to the rescue! He has a winter birthday and a pair of mittens would be a lovely gift. He is currently infatuated with Lightning McQueen so that was my inspiration. I had just the right colors of Knit Picks Brava Worsted in my stash, I chose Tin Can Knits’ World’s Simplest Mittens, and cast on. How could I go wrong?? (*dun dun DUN* This is called foreshadowing.)

Wow, the first mitten went fast! Just a couple of hours over two nights and I had a finished mitt. I thought it looked kind of big, and the proportions seemed a little off, but the length measurement matched the pattern specifications, so off I went onto the second mitten.

From the start, I questioned myself. It said to cast on 28 stitches. That number seemed wrong. I didn’t remember casting on that number the first time. But oh well, I’m getting old, I’d slept since then, whatever. I kept going. This mitten went even faster than the first; I finished all but the thumb in one night. Woohoo! Yay me, right?

HAHA. No. I held the first mitten up to the second. The second mitten was MUCH smaller. Not really shorter, but the body was a lot narrower. I counted stitches and discovered I’d cast on 32 stitches the first time. No wonder 28 didn’t sound familiar! Somehow my eyes had landed on the stitch count for the child size in DK weight the first time, and the second time I actually did it correctly. Sigh. At least I have one mostly-finished mitten in the right size. I spent the rest of my knitting time last night frogging the first mitten so I could reuse the yarn. Waste not, want not, right? And I’m grateful that it’s small, so I have time to get it finished before the birthday party this weekend! #mustknitquickly

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This is the “bad” mitten

Have you ever had a disaster trying to make two things the same size?

Weekend Knitting, plus Yarn

Thanks to my girl and her band activities, I got to spend the entire day Saturday knitting. Well, at least as much as my hands could tolerate. I had to take breaks periodically, of course. But I was focused on one goal: finish this second sock, which is a Christmas gift. I got pretty close.

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Since then I’ve gotten farther, and I only have about an inch left before starting the toe. This one will be a FO before you know it!

Her competition was out of town, which meant a LYS stop for me. We went to True Blewe Yarns in Columbia, MO and I found lots of really pretty yarns. Lots of yarns I appreciated, several I picked up and carried around, but it was the strangest thing: most of them weren’t calling my name. I didn’t feel like buying yarn just to buy pretty yarn. (GASP! Am I feverish??) I want more sock yarn, but I want self-striping, and I want more colors, not just purple. I have quite a bit of purplish fingering weight, waiting to be made into shawls, so I didn’t really want to get more. I don’t know, I guess I just wasn’t really feeling it that day.

Okay, that’s not completely true, because you KNOW I didn’t walk out empty handed. I thought about the pieces I’ve wished I had to wear, and chose these accordingly.

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I’ve used the super bulky Spuntaneous and LOVE it, but hadn’t seen the worsted version before. I’ve wanted another neutral gray cowl, so I’ve got enough here to make a lovely long one to double.

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I don’t have a lot of blue clothes in my closet. I don’t like blue things in my house, really. So why have I been drawn to this vivid royal blue lately?? No idea, but I decided to give in. This one is already on the needles and on its way to becoming a Squishy Soft Cowl, like the dark green one I just made.

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I’ve bought this Wonder Woman yarn before. I made a gorgeous cowl, put it on Etsy as a showpiece, thinking it would never sell, and it sold! So I had to send it away, and that made me sad. Now I can make something for myself to keep.

I have one more new project on my needles. This is a Be Simple Variations with my new green Classic Elite Magnolia. I’m already loving it.

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Hope your weekend was as productive as mine!

 

Oy, that dog!

Okay, so let’s get back to Duncan. My not-so-little terror. The one who was leaving messes in the house when we first got him about three months ago. Want to know the good news? Of course: no more accidents! After about a month, he got used to holding it and it’s not an issue. Hooray!

Want to know the bad news? He eats things. First it was little things, like paper we left on the kitchen table. He chewed up the remote, but that only cost $20 to replace, no biggie. Grace had left a hole in our leather couch back when she was going through her destructive phase, and he discovered that and thought it was fun to pull stuffing out and make the hole bigger. When we covered up that hole, he made two new ones. When we covered the couches with scat mats to keep him off the couch, he made a hole in the arm of the couch. He discovered tasty things like the corners of our wooden chairs, or the wooden railing, or the corners of the TV stand. He pulled several books off shelves and ate them one very bad day, after which we closed the doors to the sitting room where the books are located.

Every time something happened, we talked about our options. For a while, we tried to cope by limiting what we left within reach. When it was obvious that wasn’t the solution, I tried playing with him more in the morning, giving him more time outside before I left, giving him extra toys, saving toys only for when we were gone. We subscribed to BarkBox, and our first box was fantastic. We talked about closing them in with doors, but didn’t want to run the risk of them scratching the vintage pocket doors. We talked about gates and crates. I don’t like the idea of crates, no matter how many times people tell me the dogs like it. Personally, I think they get used it, and maybe they like it for short durations and/or when they’re stressed or scared, but you’ll never convince me that a dog actually enjoys being in a crate for 6-8 hours. (Please don’t try. It won’t work.) So in my mind, that’s a last resort. But friends, we’re almost there.

I recently decorated for Christmas, and put out my large Santa collection on the sideboard. (You can see it here.) I thought for sure it was high enough and far back enough that Duncan wouldn’t be able to get to it.

I was wrong. The next day, a bad day, Duncan got into the Santas and destroyed three of them. Thankfully, they were not my favorites and didn’t hold great sentimental value. But it was enough for us to know we needed to be doing more, that our morning play sessions in the yard weren’t enough for him, and we decided to add more activity. One day the husband took him running before work, one day he went to doggy day care, and the next day I took him for a walk in the morning. That day, after his walk, after the previous day at day care, he got back into one of the couch holes, chewed up a reusable grocery bag, and destroyed a small box of post-its. He may still need a lot of activity, but clearly the activity alone isn’t enough to curb his destructive tendencies. And, get this, we just got new couches, because I couldn’t live with the old couches anymore. I mean, these holes were BIG. And looking at them every day was so depressing. (I know it sounds crazy. But in my defense, we ordered them when it looked like the scat mats were going to keep him away from the couches completely.)

So now we have gates, and the dogs get to stay in the kitchen while we’re gone. Friday was the first day we tried it all day. I latched the gates, put the scat mats in front of the gates, and also closed the doors to the living room. Even if they get past the gates, they can’t get to the couches. The husband is afraid Duncan will still be destructive, just in a smaller area. That is a valid concern, and if we see signs of that, then the crate will be next. But I couldn’t do the crate without knowing I’d tried everything else first, especially since I can’t afford five days a week of doggy daycare. Anyway, so far, so good. They were still safely in the kitchen when the kids got home from school, and nothing was destroyed. And we’ve done it again for shorter periods since then, and it seems to be working. (Knocking on wood and crossing fingers here!)

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Sorry, Duncan moves a lot, so he’s blurry. Yeah, he’s a handful. He’s now a whopping 90 pounds of muscle, orneriness, and sweetness. I can’t help it; I still love the big old blockhead. Grace chewed things up for a good two and a half years, just on a smaller scale, so I’m holding on to the hope that he’ll grow out of most of this eventually. If we have to do the crate, I will do it knowing that it’s what’s allowing us to keep him in our home, rather than taking him back to the shelter. That’s not an option for us. So I can get him a super big crate, and fill it with a blanket (that he’ll tear up, which is why I’ll get it from the thrift store) and toys (that he’ll probably destroy) and he will be safe and my house will be safe and maybe we can all live happily ever after.

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It’s Easy Buying Green (Yarn)

The other day I had to leave work early for a doctor’s appointment. It took a while, so there wasn’t really time to go back to work afterward, so I got a bit of fun time. I went and visited my youngest nephew, who I don’t see enough. After that, I wanted to go to the yarn store, but I was going to be good and go get a passport photo taken, since Missouri doesn’t have the Real ID yet and we would need passports to fly starting in January. And in January and February, it’s time for music school auditions. At least three of the girl’s colleges are far enough away that we’ll have to fly. Thus, I needed to get this passport process started ASAP.

As I was driving away from the yarn store neighborhood, I was flipping through radio stations and landed on one I never listen to. It was news, which I never listen to on the radio. But as I listened, the story switched to one about the Real ID, and how Missouri had just gotten an extension through October. I didn’t have an urgent need for the passport photo after all!! If any of you are like me, you know exactly what I did: I turned the car around immediately and drove to the yarn store. It was a sign.

I came home with a single skein of green Plymouth Grande Glow Baby Alpaca, which immediately became a Squishy Soft Cowl within two days. It’s such a lovely pattern, simple and mindless yet not boring to knit or look at. It’s especially nice that you don’t have to keep track of the rounds; no stitch marker needed!

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I love this yarn so much, especially the little bit of sparkle woven through. I haven’t decided whether to keep this one or gift it.

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My other purchase that day was three balls of Classic Elite Yarns Magnolia, which is a luscious merino/silk blend, in this gorgeous green. (I know: green?? No purple? I can’t explain it. I was apparently in a green mood that day. Christmas spirit, maybe.)

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I think this needs to be a shawl/scarf type thing that I can wear during the holidays when I’m feeling festive. But I won’t add any red, because I don’t want it to be exclusively Christmas-y. I’m thinking I might choose the Be Simple Variation for this yarn.

Best thing about these yarns? They were both from the sale section! I walked away spending only $25, and that’s pretty darn good. It probably helps that Christmas is coming and I always hope for a bit of yarn.

This morning I’m home waiting for a couch delivery (more on that soon) so I’m going to take advantage of the time to pull out my yarn and needles! My tender finger is feeling better but I don’t want to rush it, so I’m going to save socks for the weekend and work on something else today. Maybe a Be Simple shawl??