Archive | October 2017

Wonder Woman Wrap

It’s done it’s done it’s DONE! My beautiful Wonder Woman wrap took about six weeks to make, mostly because I had to take breaks from the long stretches of garter stitch toward the end. The pattern is the fantastic free Wonder Woman Wrap by Carissa Browning, and I used Malabrigo Sock in colors Ravelry Red and Ochre.

This was my first adventure with wrap and turn short rows, and I was apprehensive at first. But once I started doing it, I realized they’re actually super simple. (Seems like that’s true for all the things in knitting I think are scary.) Somehow I did end up with wrong stitch counts after each short row section, but it wasn’t enough to mess up the pattern. The first time it happened, I adjusted with an extra KFB or two, but after that I just kind of rolled with it.

Earlier this week I made it to the end of the last yellow stripe and realized how close I was to the end, and that gave me the push I needed to power through. Yesterday I took a sick day from work (remember I mentioned poison ivy? It’s all over my chin and it was oozing and hideous, and I was miserable and needed to go to the doctor anyway to get steroids to make it stop. It’s even on my FINGERS. Thankfully it’s just a few tiny spots and the steroid cream I got helped control the itch there so I could keep knitting.) and in between loads of laundry to get rid of all the poison ivy plague, I sat and knit, all day long. By the time the husband got home from work, I was binding off.

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This wasn’t my favorite thing to knit. I still don’t love short rows, and the long rows of garter stitch got a bit tedious. But then it’s done and it’s so beautiful. I love it so much. I want to wear it tonight when we go to the symphony. And every day after that. Forever. This will be my Halloween costume.

Efforts in Optimism

If you remember, I was recently freaking out about my falling-down fixer-upper old house. I was feeling overwhelmed and annoyed and tired of dealing with it all and wanted to sell it and move like, tomorrow. So we had a realtor come out and look around and give us her insight. It was good, and not so good. The good news is that the main body of the house looks pretty good; refinishing the floors and painting the interior will get us good to sell, and that part supports the selling price we need. The not so good is what I was afraid of: the addition on the back that needs so much work could make it hard to sell as-is. We’d have to find just the right buyer wanting to take on a project, and while it’s certainly possible, it’s more difficult.

That night was rough. I was disappointed and discouraged, and sure that we would either have to stay in that house forever or sell it at a loss, and neither option made me happy. But sleep and a brand new day made a big difference, and the husband and I started making plans to move forward. He made an appointment with a flooring company, and I contacted a landscaping service to clean up the back yard. We cleaned out some big trash that’s been hanging around the basement and the backyard, and that felt good. I cut down some tall weeds that have been bothering me all summer, and that felt good too. (At least until two days later when I got a lovely case of poison ivy…on my CHIN. OMG.)

So we have a plan now: in the next few weeks, we’re going to take out the old radiators downstairs, which will free up some valuable wall space. We’ll move the furniture upstairs, we’ll all move to an AirBnB house for three days, and then we’ll come home to beautiful shiny, freshly stained hardwood floors. We’ve been talking about doing this for TWO years, and I’m so excited that we’re finally doing it. I think that’s made a big difference, just making progress on something. And we’ve agreed to get a couple more bids on dealing with the addition, to see if we can find one that’s more affordable. We’ll do it ourselves if we have to, and that will be okay. I can manage to stay here another four years, I think, if we continue to make forward progress on the repairs. The husband and I just need to stay committed, and force ourselves to take initiative on starting projects. Just do it, right? Right.

And I’ll end on a high note: Duncan no longer has accidents in the house! And we’ve found a way to keep him from chewing up the couches while we’re gone! He might actually grow up to be a pretty good dog.

P.S. he already is a good dog.  

Gloves and Flowers

As expected, I finished the blue and gray fingerless gloves yesterday during our drive to the band competition. With an hour and a half, I even had time to weave in all the ends, so they’re ready to go to their new owner today. The base pattern is the 75 Yard Malabrigo Mitts, but I added the design element of the Twinkly Lights Cowl.

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It was a good thing I finished them before I got there, too, because once we got there, I didn’t really want to be distracted. The girl is a senior, you see, and this was her last marching band competition. She was a featured soloist in their show, a siren standing atop a pirate ship, and I’m always amazed and proud of her, but last night the finality hit me a little hard. Of course I’m so excited for the next part of her journey, but I can’t help but be sad that this part is almost over. I wasn’t a band geek in high school; I was a theatre geek. They’re actually pretty similar crowds, and I love the collaboration and camaraderie and commitment that I’ve seen in her bands. They’re good kids. She’s a good kid. Plus, I’ve discovered I love band music. I love watching marching band shows. Thank goodness I still have three years to watch the boy in marching band! Anyway, it was a lovely, emotional night, and the band did well, winning lots of awards, including Grand Champions in the field show category.

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With the gloves done, I wanted to finish up another small project before returning to my bigger WIPs. The knitting group at work makes bouquets of flowers for friends who have lost loved ones, and we had a couple to make recently. They’re a beautiful variety of flowers: some people make felt flowers, some ribbon flowers. I chose my favorite crochet flower pattern, added a green pipe cleaner, wrapped the stems with floral tape, and finished each one off with a pretty button. I think they’ll make a nice addition to the bouquet.

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Now that I’ve finished two projects for others, I think I’m justified in going back to some selfish knitting today. I was clever and did the grocery shopping yesterday, so today I can relax with my tea and yarn. Happy Sunday, friends!

Sunday Suggestion

This is such an easy way to give a little bit of help. I had one of her patterns in my library already, so I was happy for a good reason to go ahead and purchase it!

NothingButKnit

As I’m sure you are aware the world has been in a lot of turmoil lately. There have been hurricanes, floods, fires and shootings. Helping our fellow man becomes more important during these times. It is heartbreaking to see people suffer and difficult to know the best way to help.

One of our own has suffered a complete loss of all personal possessions in the fires in California. It’s hard to know how to help someone when they are thousands of miles away and really a stranger. Jensaid if anyone felt that they wanted to help her they could purchase one of her patterns on Ravelry. I thought this was a fabulous idea and did just that. I hope Jen is comforted knowing that she’s in my thoughts.

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New Gloves, Blue Gloves

The problem with having a lot of WIPs is that it takes longer to have a FO. I’ve been knitting, maybe not obsessively, all week, and didn’t finish a single project. I did cast on a new one. Counter-productive, I know. I made a hat and glove set as a donation for a silent auction fundraiser, and one of the fundraiser coordinators liked the gloves enough that she asked me to make a pair for her, so that’s mostly what I’ve been working on.

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They’re Aran weight on size 8 needles so they’re going pretty quickly. We have a band competition an hour and a half away today, so with any luck, I’ll finish the second glove today!

Furls Purple Odyssey

I feel like I have progressed to a new level of crafter: I purchased a Furls crochet hook! I’ve coveted their hooks for ages, those gorgeous colored Candy Shop hooks and the striking black and silver Odyssey hooks, but never gave in to temptation. Partly because of cost, but mostly because once I learned to knit, I wasn’t much of a crocheter anymore. If I didn’t crochet often, why buy a $30 hook when that money could go toward yarn?

Well. That all changed when I saw the ad for the pre-order of the new purple Odyssey hooks. I ordered one immediately and started counting down the days until it would ship. Lucky me, it shipped sooner than I expected, and I finally got to open it last night. It’s so pretty! It’s a darker purple than it looks here, but just as shimmery and beautiful. I pulled out some scraps to make flowers to test it, and found that it’s heavier than I expected, but not unpleasantly so. The shape was definitely comfortable in my hand. The only thing I didn’t love was that there’s no thumb rest, so when I picked up the hook I had to make sure I was holding it right to get the hook positioned, and sometimes as I worked, it would turn ever so slightly in my hand, putting the hook in a less-efficient position. I’m eager to try it on a bigger project and give myself time to get used to it. 

Anyone else use Furls hooks?

Back to Knitting

My socks and I have reunited, but our relationship isn’t quite as obsessive as it was a while back. I do still work on it when I’m on my lunch break at work, or if I need an easy travel project, but I’m on the same pair I started almost a month ago, and I’m not even halfway through the second sock. That’s slow for me. Still, I’m making progress, and I’m quite happy with how they’re turning out. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered something sad: some wool socks make my feet itchy. Especially when it gets warm in the afternoon and my feet get too warm. There were a couple of days when I had to get them off as soon as I got home from work because I couldn’t stand the itchiness anymore. A couple of pairs are worse than others, so I’ll probably give those to the girl. And otherwise I’ll just save the wool socks for the coldest days and hope for the best. I don’t want to stop knitting socks forever, and I do like wearing the fun yarn on my feet.

My other current project is just about as mindless, it’s the Chocolate Diamonds Cowl with my Fiber Arts Expression purple silk/wool. This is my luxurious knitting, all soft and squishy and…well, silky.  It’s about halfway done and growing quickly. I’m hoping that I’ll have some time in the evenings this week to get back to my Wonder Woman Wrap. I want to wear it soon, now that it’s getting colder. Plus it would be the perfect thing to wear on Halloween night, while I greet trick-or-treaters!

Fixer-Uppers Wear Me Down

Guys, I need to unburden myself. I have worries, many of them. I am afraid we made a colossal mistake when we bought this house two years ago. It was in the neighborhood we wanted, a price we could afford, the size and features we wanted, and we thought we had the time/energy/mental stamina to do all the work it needed. And it needs a LOT. More than we realized when we bought it. I’m not sure our inspector gave us a thorough idea of some of the bigger issues, and I’m not sure if he did and we ignored it because we were in a hurry.

So now we’re in a house with an old home addition that wasn’t done right to begin with, and probably needs to be torn down and rebuilt. When it was done, the rooms it added weren’t done as conditioned living space, so at least tearing it down doesn’t lose us any square footage. But spending the money to tear it down doesn’t really add to the value, so without doing a rebuild, we’re afraid it’s just throwing money away. And doing the rebuild in a way that adds valuable living space feels prohibitively expensive. (We’ve gotten two bids. Both daunting.)

It needs to be painted, badly. The pet-stained hardwood floors need to be repaired and refinished. The radiators and boiler need to be removed. The upstairs bathroom needs to be gutted and redone. The kitchen was redone, but with cheap materials, so it’s aging quickly. The front porch needs a new floor, and possibly joist repair underneath, plus new stairs and railings. The fireplace needs to be redone. The landscaping sucks. There’s not good storage. And on and on, with a myriad of smaller jobs that stare me in the face day after day.

Add onto that the unexpected projects that have come up since we bought it: the existing chain-link fence was too short and needed to be replaced with an attractive picket fence. Raccoons in the attic and wall. A small tree losing limbs and needing a trim. A large tree losing a large section, and probably needing to be removed. A dishwasher that died. Insulation that needed to be added.

It all wears me down. Wears me out. When I first saw this house, I loved it. I loved the traditional style, the hardwood trim, the pocket doors, the high ceilings, the wraparound porch. I think I still love those things, but they’re overshadowed by everything else. This house has a lot of potential to be stunning. I can almost see it in my mind’s eye. I just don’t know if we can be the people to get it there. Aside from the money, I think about the hassle of renovation. We have three big dogs; taking away their access to the backyard, even temporarily, would make life really difficult. We have two kids; taking away access to the kitchen for weeks would be annoying. One of our dogs is not friendly to strangers. He doesn’t bite, but barks. A lot. Managing all the workmen coming in and out would be stressful. My husband and I manage home repair jobs in different ways that have resulted in conflict in the past, and I don’t want to be fighting for the next five years.

And then, as weird as it may sound, I have emotional connections to my homes, and my connection with this one has soured. I broke my foot in this house. My husband and I struggled more than we ever have while living here, partly because of how we went about moving here. We’re doing all right now, we’re fine, but now it’s connected for me. It’s like, with the old house, that’s where I lived when we lost my dad, my father-in-law, my husband’s grandfather, my dad’s dog. Moving for me felt like a fresh start, a clean slate. So now, with all that’s happened just in two years, I don’t love this house anymore. I don’t love it enough to stress us all out to fix it up. I don’t love it enough to pour a ton of money into it, when that money could go somewhere else.

So what do we do? Right now, the husband is more flexible than I am. Big renovation doesn’t scare him off, although he does want to make sure we could get our money back when we sell if we rehab. Me? I want to move. I’m ready to go NOW. I could pack up and walk away without a second thought, if we could get out what we paid. I want a newer house, one that won’t need huge home repair jobs in the next five years. One that’s built to have a big TV in the living room. One with good-sized closets. One with a functional kitchen and a laundry room. One with modern windows that don’t whistle with every cold wind.

I don’t know what’s next. We’ve reached out to a realtor to explore our options, and I’m doing my best to be open-minded. Of course, I’m also online looking at houses for sale, but that’s to be expected, right?

Sigh. Anyone want a house?

Nerd Girl Field Trip

I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic indie dyer only thirty minutes away: Nerd Girl Yarns. Her colorways are exactly what you’d expect (Doctor Who, Harry Potter, superheroes, and much more), the colors are gorgeous, and the yarn is always a treat to knit with. In the recent past, she’s been primarily an online seller, without a brick and mortar retail location, but she’s in a new space now and had a Grand Opening this weekend. Of course I had to go, and I haven’t gotten to hang out much with Knitting SIL lately, so she joined me. We weren’t disappointed: the new location was beautiful!

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The wood glass-fronted cabinets are stunning, especially filled with yarn. She also carries a bit of tea, so we saw tea accessories too. When you first go in, you see a cabinet full of crystal teacups and flasks, each holding yarn.

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But as pretty as it all was, we were there mainly for one thing: yarn!

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Her selection of already-dyed yarn is limited, but it’s all tempting. There was pima cotton in bright pinks and oranges and yellows, plus plenty of merino in a variety of colors. There were also tie-dyed sock knitting bags, which I resisted (It was hard), and dyed wool for spinning. (Is that called roving? I don’t know.)

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There was plenty more bare yarn, and if I dyed my own yarn, this would be the place to go, since she had all different weights, plus some with sparkle!

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So what did I get?? This was my little impulse purchase, rainbow scissors up by the register. Love them!

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This is merino worsted in a color called Too English to Say Anything. I think I want to look for a solid or two to go with it.

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Originally my goal was to only buy one skein. But then I found this one, a fingering weight called Queen of the Amazons, and of course it had to come home with me.

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It was a fun little field trip in an otherwise busy weekend. I’m glad we were able to squeeze it in!

Stupid Hat

I had plans for the weekend: I was going to go to Nerd Girl Yarns’ Grand Opening at her new studio. Then I was going to go to a band competition and out to dinner with the mother. In between all those things, I was going to finish a proofreading job. Well, I can make plans all I want, and then life happens.

I’m closing my Etsy shop, as I mentioned before, and have everything marked down to cost, basically, to clear stuff out. These are things that have been hanging around for a year or so, packed up in bags in my craft show supply tub. I sold a hat last week, and in a hurry before work one morning, I packed it up and sent it out. Last night, I heard from the buyer: the hat had a big hole in it. What?? So now I’m embarrassed that I didn’t check it, worried that either I didn’t do a good job finishing it or I have moths, and disappointed that I sent out an inferior product to a customer, regardless of the price. Of course I’m replacing it, but I don’t have more of that yarn, so that means an emergency trip to my LYS to get the yarn, and then emergency hat knitting to make a replacement hat. And all of that means I will probably lose money on that sale. (If you’re interested, check out what’s left here. Low prices and free shipping!)  BUT. It’s the right thing to do, and it doesn’t matter that I’m closing my shop, I’m still going to do the right thing. But. Sighhh. At least it’s a quick pattern in bulky yarn, and I do love to knit hats. This can be my band competition knitting tonight. Gotta look for the silver lining, right?

I’ve been doing some service projects instead of selfish knitting, so not too much knitting to show. I actually switched to crochet this week. We’re working on a Welcome Blanket at work, with several of us making squares that we’ll sew together into a blanket. The blankets will go on display for short time and then distributed to refugees. You can read more about the project here. I’ve got four squares done; our theme is black plus a bright color. Of course some of mine had to be purple!

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I’ll be sure to share a photo of the finished blanket! It’s due by November 4th, so we’re trying to work fast. What’s your favorite service project?