Archive | 2015

Going out with a Bang

I bought yarn yesterday. Not just “yarn”, but YARN!!! It had been so long since I’d been in a lovely big LYS that I kind of went nuts. The best part is that I actually have plans for almost all of it! That’s not how I roll most of the time, so this is a good sign of what’s to come in 2016. Maybe I can buy good yarn with a solid plan, and resist sale yarn just because it’s on sale…sometimes. Do you want to see my treasures? Yes, of course you do.

First up is two colors of CEY Chalet, a bulky chainette yarn that is so soft and lightweight it’s ridiculous. I adore this yarn, and at buy one get one 70% off, I decided to splurge.IMG_4663IMG_4664The shop had a sample of this Color Block Bias Wrap, and oh wow, was it amazing. But they’d run out of the third color, so I’ll be on the lookout for it, and then I’ll make my own cozy Chalet wrap.

This is a new-to-me yarn, Island Yarn Blackwater, but it’s a high-quality merino that feels a bit like a MadTosh or Malabrigo Rios. There was only one skein left of this silvery-blue…IMG_4665so I picked up a gorgeous Maraschino red as my second skein. To knit together or separately? I’m not sure yet. IMG_4666They also had a good assortment of Cascade’s Baby Alpaca Chunky, which is one of my most favorite yarns. With the help of my Knitting SIL, I went out of my color comfort zone and picked out a deep brown and a dark raspberry.IMG_4667IMG_4668It’s a bit brighter, pinker, than it looks here. These are going to become another Candy Cane scarf, although a bit thinner since I have less yarn. IMG_4670Malabrigo Rasta! Gorgeous dark blues and purples! For a Marian cowl for ME! I’ve used Cascade Magnum twice now, and I don’t like the feel of it. I think this will be a much better experience.

And finally, after ages of admiring, I bought my first skein of Anzula!IMG_4672This is Cricket in a lovely shade of green called Pesto. It was pricey but oh does it feel luscious. It’s probably the cashmere in there. I have no idea what to make with it. Anybody have a favorite one-skein project worthy of Anzula?

These were a spur-of-the-moment purchase. Acrylic, no plans, but pretty and sparkly and inexpensive. If nothing else, they could become fun Christmas presents for my nieces next year.IMG_4673Of course, I did find some purple yarn in the sale section, and of course I bought some. But I did put back one skein, so that’s growth, right? And it’s yarn I’ve used and enjoyed before, so I know it won’t sit in my stash forever. This is Mochi Plus, but in a solid. I’ve only ever used their lovely rainbow yarns before.IMG_4671It’s not a great photo, but they’re a vivid royal purple. I’m pretty sure this will become yet another Mountain High cowl.

All right, we’ve made it to the end. Just one yarn left. My mom recently asked me for a cowl. She’s never asked me to make anything for her before. I mean, sure, I’ve made her things, and I think she likes them, but she specifically asked for a longer multi-colored cowl, so I decided it needed a yarn worthy of the occasion. I think I found a winner.IMG_4674If this looks familiar, it’s because this is the same yarn I used for my first Hitchhiker. It’s Frolicking Feet DK by Done Roving Yarns, and it’s a joy to knit with. Let’s just cross our fingers that it will be well-received.

Aren’t they all marvelous? Now you know how I will be wrapping up 2015: winding all my new yarns! And tomorrow, I will get to start the new year on a high note, casting on an exciting project with luxury yarn. Seems like a pretty good start to me.

I wish you all a safe, happy New Year’s Eve tonight!

Time to Organize

Just like many of you, at the end of the year I get the urge to purge, organize, clean out and clean up. (Yeah, I also have the urge to not cast on for anything new until I finish some of my WIPs, but I managed to fight that one off.) I’ve already started with my yarn stash. It’s been organized by yarn weight for quite a while, but new purchases kind of got stashed willy-nilly and it was looking sloppy again. Plus, there were gorgeous yarns getting lost, hidden by yarns I bought only because they were purple, or they were on sale. It was time to make it more efficient and more attractive.

I started with the super bulky and began winding skeins into cakes. It made them easier to stack, but more importantly, it made more room. I went through seven shelves of yarn, winding lots of yarn and petting skeins I had forgotten about. I also pulled yarns I didn’t think I’d ever conceivably use, though I wasn’t too strict about it. Given the choice, I will always knit or crochet with soft, pretty yarns, so ones that are too scratchy or colors I don’t like can probably go bye-bye. But then I think, what if someone orders something someday and this is exactly the yarn I need?? So yeah, I kept some for that reason, as silly as it is. Then were several others that I moved into the Sell/Trade stash on Ravelry and stuck at the back of the shelves. I still have them, but I’ve got my better yarns in front.

Still, after a few days of work, I had shelves that were freshly organized. I discovered I have a whole shelf’s worth of Aran weight yarn, which surprised me. (Side note: why is Malabrigo Worsted classified as an Aran weight?) I have more DK than I expected, but given my growing fondness for shawls, I’m excited about that.

The best part of the whole thing: I realized I have not achieved SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy)! I have around 200 yarns listed on Ravelry, and if I use one yarn a week, that’s about four years’ worth. That’s nothing! Some weeks I’ll probably use more than one yarn. And that even includes some old scratchy acrylic that I’m only keeping for details on character hats/toys etc. IMG_4645

What to do but buy more yarn?? I’m off to visit yarn stores today with my knitting SIL. One of them is having a Buy One Get one 70% sale, and what knitter in their right mind would pass that up?

Emerging From My Cave

I feel like an animal coming out of hibernation, cautiously poking my head out to see if it’s safe yet. Christmas wasn’t right for me this year, and I had to keep my head down and just keep going one day at a time to get through it. Nothing major happened, there were just smaller things that sucked the holiday spirit out of me. We still had lovely celebrations, and I did enjoy spending time with family and seeing the kids’ joy with their presents, but it wasn’t the same glee that I have most years. To be completely honest, I’m relieved it’s over and I’m crossing my fingers that it will be better by the time next Christmas rolls around.

Let’s talk about the knitting then, shall we? Of course I didn’t stop knitting. The day I stop knitting will be a dark day indeed. I have no idea when I made what, so I’ll just start throwing photos at you and see what comes up. IMG_4643IMG_4644This is a textured multi-colored cowl made with yarn I got at the Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe in Columbia, MO. It’s a silk-merino blend, soft and drapey with good stitch definition. The pattern came with the yarn so I can’t share it with you, sadly, but I’m quite pleased with it. I might have to keep this cowl. Or at least wear it once to try it out, right? And please notice: it’s blocking with the help of my new Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers which I got for Christmas! They’re fantastic. IMG_4493These are brain slugs (from Futurama, I’m told) I made for my nephew. He saw my son’s and loved it, so of course he needed his own. I started with this pattern which made the baby one, and then modified it to make a bigger one. IMG_4568My son loved his Sherlock scarf (that’s his Benedict Cumberbatch face) so much that he wore it that day despite the 50 degree temperature! I made the girl a cowl but can’t find a good photo; it’s pretty cute. I’ll have to show you later. And I made myself a couple of things too. IMG_4507A fuzzy, furry white seed stitch cowl made from Lion Brand Angel Hair. I used one skein and it wraps twice nicely. But I wish I’d used the second skein to make it wider. Still, this has kept me warm the last couple of days now that the temps have dropped. IMG_4510IMG_4511This hat is for ME. I am going to become a hat person if for no other reason than I want to wear this hat. I used Cascade 220 Aran Splatter and I LOVE that yarn. Soft and thick and squishy, mmmm! I need more. This is another Slouchy Broken Rib Hat. Have you bought it yet? Seriously, it’s worth it.

Okay, down to the last project, and it’s a freshly finished one. I had one skein of Cascade Magnum Paints in purples, which I bought because the colors are so gorgeous. But every time I cast on for something, it didn’t feel right. I never liked it, and I frogged it every time. Finally this morning I gave in and decided to do the simple Marian cowl, which is a twisted seed stitch cowl. I had resisted because I’d made one before and wanted to try something new, but that pattern just works so well for the Magnum. I fought the yarn, and the yarn won! IMG_4641IMG_4642See, aren’t the colors pretty? But. I don’t like this yarn. I just don’t. It doesn’t feel good. It’s not soft at all; it’s stiff and fuzzy and itchy. But I’ve got it soaking in some Eucalan right now, and I’m hoping that will soften it up at least a little. It will probably go in my inventory because I don’t see it ever being soft enough for me. If you have any tried-and-true tricks for softening wool, let me know!

I have more to tell you; apparently I have been doing quite a bit while on my little blog hiatus. But this is enough for today, surely? I do hope I can get back into my blogging habit. I like it; almost as much as I like knitting. But first I have to get through New Year’s Eve. Sigh. Can I just go to bed early and call it a year?

Some Things I Made

Sorry, guys, I’m struggling with the blog lately. Life is tricky right now. Some things are good, some things not so good. I guess I just haven’t felt chatty recently. But Christmas is coming regardless so I’ve been making all the things, despite my insistence that I wasn’t making gifts this year. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately. IMG_4428Thomas hat. Improvised, Ravelry notes hereIMG_4468Turtle beanie/mitt set. From the TMNT Hat TutorialIMG_4499Christmas Ornament Hat, from the amazing Repeat Crafter Me. I mentioned to the girl (who’s 15) that I wanted to make a set for the four of us and take a family photo. She wasn’t crazy about that idea. Shocker.IMG_4483This is another Christmas cowl. I had issues with the yarn, clearly. But I got it all straightened out and this should be a quick finish. I’ve got 3 other FOs but can’t share them yet. Gotta wait until after Christmas! And now I am done with all gift knitting and crocheting and I’m going to make some FUN stuff. What about you: still frantically knitting or breathing a sigh of relief that you’re done?

A WIP and a FO

I switched gears from knitting to crochet to start a gift for a cute little boy. He’s a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan, so I’m attempting to make a Thomas hat. IMG_4421As you can see, I still have a ways to go. It’s not the right blue, which bothers me. And I’m not great at small details like faces. So no, I don’t think it’ll be perfect, but since he’s 3, he won’t be too picky.

Here’s my FO. I finished the Christmas cowl the other day and even though I haven’t had a chance to block it yet, I love it. I had enough yarn left over to make at least one more, so I think the next one will be slightly fewer stitches and a few more rows so it’ll be taller. But this one is still awesome and I ALMOST wish it wasn’t 50-60 degrees outside so I’d be able to wear it right now. IMG_4418And guess what else? Grace the destructo-pup struck again. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and I thought they’d only be alone for about half an hour, forgetting the boy had jazz band after school. By the time the girl got home, Grace (and maybe Jack too) had chewed up an empty egg carton and two plastic bags, knocked two balls of yarn on the floor, hidden a butter knife in a chair cushion, and decided my fancy Clover crochet hook with the rubberized grip was a great chew toy. IMG_4422At least it’s still usable; she just got the end of it. Needless to say, it was a good reminder to make sure everything is put away before we leave the house.

Today is five weeks since I broke my foot, and yesterday was my follow-up. It doesn’t look like the bone is healing too quickly, but I was given instructions to start walking on it, slowly working my way up to fully weight-bearing without crutches. I’m supposed to stay in the boot, so still no driving, but at least it’s progress, and it’s nice to be a bit more mobile. Fingers crossed that it will heal more by the time I go back in a month. And until then, I still have plenty of projects to keep me busy!

Purple Mountain Majesty Cowl

Despite some “help” from a furry friend… IMG_4381I finished my new cowl, now named the Purple Mountain Majesty cowl, just in time to wear it yesterday! The girl had auditions for all-state band two hours away and I couldn’t miss that. IMG_4397Sorry about that terrible terrible iPhone selfie photo. Usually I get better pictures than that, but at six in the morning, I figured that was good enough. The cowl is fabulous, I LOVE it and it will be even better once I get the chance to block it properly. The yarn is Purple Rain from Lolo Did It and the pattern is River Deep, Mountain High by mollygirl yarn and I swear I will post some good photos once I have the chance to take them.

We were in Columbia for a very very long day, so the husband and I escaped for a short time so I could visit the LYS, the Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe. They’re always so friendly and they have such lovely yarn and I always find something I HAVE to have. Yesterday was no exception. IMG_4401Sighhhhh. I love yarn. This is why I knit, truly. It’s partly the act itself, but mostly it’s for the yarn. Now see those three on the right side, the two teals and a gray? They will come together for a nifty striped cowl. The shop had one on display and the pattern came free with the purchase of the yarn. The purple sparkly I got because…well, because I love purple and I love sparkly. Maybe it will go together with that Cascade Aran Splatter (on the left edge) as a border or accent stripes or something, or maybe not. I just know that when I see purple sparkly yarn, I will buy it, no questions asked.

I also love Christmas, so the red and green sparkle called my name too. I’ve been itching to do some holiday themed knitting, so I’ll put these two with some ivory baby alpaca from my stash and make a Christmas cowl for myself. It’ll be striped, with the red and green being purl ridges.IMG_4402Can’t you just see it?? I can! I’ve got it all ready to go and that’s what I’ll be making today while I rest from the big day yesterday. The knee scooter is great, and I’m so glad I had it, but using it really tires the thigh muscles in the bad leg. Plus it was so crowded that I couldn’t elevate the foot much, which meant it got swollen, and today it’s cranky. So yeah, today I’m pretty much useless. Movies and yarn for me. Maybe I’m finally embracing my forced quiet time.

Sadly, the girl didn’t make it into the band. She did make to callbacks, the top 38 of the roughly 150 flutists from all around the state, which was a step closer than last year. It really is an accomplishment. But she’s been so successful with her band stuff that I think we all had really high hopes, and she was devastated when she didn’t make it. That’s one of the hardest parts of having older kids, when they get sad and there’s not a darn thing you can do to make it better. But she’s talented and strong, and I know she’ll keep doing amazing things with her music. And even if it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I still got to spend the day with my girl doing something she loves, and we had a great time. IMG_4398Happy Sunday, friends! May your day be as peaceful as mine is shaping up to be.

The Day of the Dogs

Sometimes, not very often, I question my decision to have dogs.

Yesterday morning I was coming downstairs on my crutches. Through the window at the landing, I saw the neighbor’s dog running freely down the street. Knowing I couldn’t run after her, or call our neighbor (I don’t have their number), I made it down the rest of the stairs and to the front door, thinking maybe I could call her and get her to come inside. Then what, I had no idea. Fortunately, my husband was outside cleaning frost off the car, so he let the neighbor know and helped look for the dog. And within ten minutes, another friendly neighbor had managed to get her on a leash and returned home. Whew, good news, crisis averted. Right? Right.

Or not.

Ever since we got our fence finished, the puppies love to be outside. Grace especially will spend hours out there if we let her. Our morning routine is for me to let them out while I have breakfast, Jack will come in after half an hour or so, and Grace stays out for another hour or so. Well, it got to be longer than that and I figured I better get her in. I opened the door and hollered at her. Usually she’ll pop up right away, even if she doesn’t come in easily. But not yesterday. I found my crutches and hopped out to the back deck and hollered again, and after a minute I saw here…on the other side of the fence. Seriously. She’d broken a picket and gotten out and thought it would be fun to go frolic with the neighbor’s dog. Yep, same neighbor. They have an invisible fence so Grace could just pop over and say hey, and she thought that was fantastic.

Still with the crutches, I hopped down the steep stairs to the yard. Neighbor came outside, put his dog inside and tried to catch Grace. She’s a wily little thing, though, and thought it was all a fun game so she ran all around his yard and toward the street and back toward our yard and then around again. With just a sock on my good foot, I hopped to the gate and opened it, keeping Jack inside at the same time, calling for Grace so she could ignore me. Poor Neighbor kept chasing the darn dog until I asked her if she wanted a carrot (they love their carrot treats), and somehow she ended up going back through her hole into the yarn. Neighbor put two big rocks in front of the hole and I herded both dogs up the stairs and into the house. I locked the door and collapsed into my rolling chair. My sock was damp and muddy , my foot was freezing, and I was shaking with adrenalin.

So remind my: why do I have dogs?? Oh yeah. This is why. IMG_4378Darn those dogs anyway. As near as we can tell, Grace was digging under the fence and broke the picket forcing her way under. The picket has been replaced and her two big holes have cement blocks in them. I know she’ll dig more if she can. So yeah, now I guess we’re going to look into getting an invisible fence as a second layer of protection. Until then, her time outside will be limited and have frequent supervision.

As for me, I recovered by knitting along to a Harry Potter movie marathon, and today will be more of the same, with a fervent hope that it will be a much less eventful day!

p.s. I had a knitting photo from yesterday to share but it’s not loading and I don’t want to fight with it. Maybe tomorrow.

A Yarn Pick-Me-Up

It’s easy for me to get discouraged right now. I fight it off most days, or at least I pretend to. Fake it ’til you make it, right? But sometimes good things happen that boost my spirits right up. Yesterday’s mail brought me something very happy: a single skein of lovely yarn that I impulse-ordered recently.

I follow a lot of yarn-dyers on Instagram because I’m a knitter, right? That’s what we do. I look at pictures of yarn and puppies. It pleases me greatly. Most of the time that’s all. But then on Black Friday, @_lolodidit posted a photo of this yarn, Purple Rain, on worsted weight, and said it was the LAST ONE! Well. Of course. Strike one: purple. Strike two: worsted weight, when so many hand-dyed skeins are sock weight. Strike three: last one?? That was just fate calling my name so sweetly. I immediately went to her Etsy shop and ordered the little beauty and yesterday it arrived. IMG_4340I immediately wound it into the most perfect little ball of yarn.IMG_4341I knew it would be something for me (and I mean it this time) but what? It would make a gorgeous hat, but I just don’t wear many hats. I like fingerless gloves, but I wanted something faster. That meant a cowl, and my favorite cowl has to be River Deep, Mountain High. I’ve made it twice and want to keep both of them, so I need one just for me. I cast on after dinner and today I’m ready to start the pattern portion. IMG_4372I just love this yarn so much. You should check out her Etsy shop, lolodidit, and her Instagram handle is @_lolodidit. She makes such pretty yarn, I can’t wait to order more! This came at just the perfect time, too, because I was starting to feel that tiny bit of discouragement. The good news is that I finished almost all my lingering commissions (except the ones that need yarn that hasn’t arrived yet) so I got to work on personal projects. Remember, I cast on for the Color Tipped Shawl, and I do love the style and the color combo I picked. (The third color is a dark teal.)IMG_4373But I don’t love the yarn. It’s Berroco Maya, a blend of cotton and alpaca, and while it feels nice in a cake, when it’s knit up it feels kind of…crunchy? Crispy? Not as soft as I would want in a scarf. So now what? Do I frog and find a different pattern for this yarn? I think I have to. If I wouldn’t wear this, I don’t know that I should continue making it. So that project went into timeout.

I do have another personal project that I started yesterday. The boy is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (of the Benedict Cumberbatch variety) and he got a dark gray peacoat this winter. What else would do but me making him an appropriate Sherlock scarf? I’m using Knit Picks Preciosa Tonal in the Captain colorway. I’m really enjoying this yarn. Lovely softness and gorgeous colors. IMG_4374I just can’t work on it when he’s home, so here’s hoping I can finish it before school lets out for the holidays!

And just so you all know: it looks like I’m knitting a lot, but I’m being careful with my arms, I promise! I’m wearing my brace on the left elbow and the supportive glove on the right hand, and I’m taking lots of breaks. I finished the Vanessa Diffenbaugh book (very good, if not as good as her first), re-read an old favorite (Theory of Relativity by Jacqueline Mitchard) and am now happily in the middle of The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. The balance is nice, even if there’s a part of me that would still rather be knitting all the time.

So there you go. Yarn is still saving me when I need it to. I go back to the doctor on the 8th for another x-ray. I’d like to say I’m expecting good news, but I’m not really. It will only have been 5 weeks then, and my foot is still achy/tender enough that I can’t imagine him giving me clearance to walk on it yet. But I’ll keep resting it and hoping for the best. That’s all you can do, right?

Still Here, With Yarn

You’d think I’d be posting more often, with all the free time I have these days, but it’s working the other way for some reason. I’m less compelled to write, maybe because I’m not as excited, not as eager to share? So this post might be more photos, fewer words.

I hope all my US friends had a lovely holiday. I managed to get out and visit my family despite the pouring rain. We had a delicious meal with my husband’s family, then we stopped to visit my mom and sister on the way home. The scooter didn’t fit in the trunk with all the food, so I was crutching it the whole way, and it wore me out big time! That left leg was so tired from all the hopping. I was glad we went, of course. It was so nice to see everybody. But more than anything I was grateful for my husband that night. True love is standing patiently outside in the cold rain, telling your wife that yes, she *can* make it up the stairs, just keep going.

The yarn is easier than the stairs. I am indeed still playing with yarn, tennis elbow be darned. I started a BRIGHT pink scarf on Thanksgiving and finished it two days later. It’s kid size, so it went quickly.IMG_4318

I’m working on some turtle stuff too, some special orders.IMG_4315Yep, even crocheted nunchucks!IMG_4317

And another order, a rainbow toddler hat!IMG_4316I’ve got these to finish plus three scarves to make but this morning I woke up with a twinge in my right hand and an occasional muscle twitch in that elbow, and it’s obvious my body is saying, “Bonny, so help me, if you don’t find something to do besides knit or crochet, you’re going to lose the ability to do it at all.” And that sucks and it’s not fair, but that’s life, right? So today I’m abstaining from all yarn crafts and instead I will be reading. I’ve got “We Never Asked for Wings” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I loved her first book, “The Language of Flowers”, so much that I’m eagerly anticipating this one. Here’s hoping it keeps me happy and distracted all day!