Archive | December 2017

Knitting, but not Socks

After my Christmas sock-knitting frenzy, I’ve needed a break. The other night, I wanted to binge on the last three episodes of Big Little Lies, and I wanted some knitting to go with it. But I didn’t want to work on socks. I’ve made a lot of socks, I like to make socks, and I’ll keep making socks. But I needed something else. So I poked through my stash and pulled out two skeins I’ve had for over two years. I love the yarn but was never able to find the perfect pattern for it. It was time to decide on a pattern, perfect or not. After perusing Ravelry for a while, I finally settled on the Urchin Cowl and cast on. I modified it slightly so I wouldn’t have to purl as much, so mine doesn’t look much like the example It knit up quickly and I finished it the next night, and I’m quite pleased with it.

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The original was designed so you can wear it over the shoulders as well, and I suppose mine could be, but I prefer it as a big, fluffy cowl.

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I used two skeins of Plymouth Yarn Wilde, an acrylic/alpaca/wool blend that’s lightweight and airy but still warm and snuggly. I’m so glad I finally bit the bullet and cast it on.

That was so satisfying that this morning I pulled more yarn from my stash and cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts. I chose Cozy Thermal Mitts and paired it with my silver Cascade Yarns Spuntaneous Worsted. Since I’m fighting a cold and there was a Harry Potter marathon on TV today, I was able to get them all done, and they’re perfect.

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Okay, not quite perfect: they’re a bit big for me, but still wearable and perfectly warm and cozy. They were so fast and easy to make, and I love that the palms are stockinette. And they really are the same size; the right one just looks bigger because I finished it first and wore it while I made the left one!

Now I have two days left in my holiday weekend and a skein and a half of the Spuntaneous left. Think I can get an infinity scarf done in that amount of time?

Holiday Recap

Oh, Christmas. I do love spending time with family, and I love all the food, and of course I love presents. But the holidays are also stressful and busy and exhausting, and I have to admit I’m a bit relieved it’s all over. Now if only I could get someone to take down my decorations for me! Apparently I was very good this year; I was quite spoiled by my family and received lots of delightful gifts, many of them yarn-related. People even got brave and picked out yarn on their own for me (and did very well, I might add). Why, just look at all these treasures!

I’ve already put some of it in use too. One set of needles is holding a new sock with the Biscotte Gryffindor yarn, a simple stockinette sock for me. Another set of needles is holding the second sock for the husband that didn’t get done before Christmas. And one skein of the pink Malabrigo Rasta has already been turned into the best cowl ever, simple and warm and cozy and gorgeous. And I used every last bit of yarn too, which is quite satisfying.

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I used the Feedback pattern as the base, but modified the number of stitches cast on. I haven’t decided whether the second skein should be a pompom hat or this adorable bag, so it’s set aside while I ponder.

The holiday provided so much knitting time that I was able to finish the Seattle Seahawks hat for my friend’s husband too. She was pleased with it, and thinks he’ll love it. I hope so! I really like that bright stripe of green.

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All the knitted gifts I made were well-received and seemed to fit well, and I really loved gifting socks. I’m thinking I’d like to do more next year, but we’ll just have to see how that goes!

 

 

 

Someone wants a hat!

I finally finished this pair of socks. I started them over six weeks ago, which is a really long time for me. But these got set aside for some gift knitting, so at least there’s a good reason. Still, it was a relief when I wove in that last end and called them done. They don’t quite match exactly, but I’m telling myself I’m okay with it.

IMG_5503So it has a longer section of gray at the toe, what’s the big deal, right? This way I didn’t have to get into the second skein of purple for two inches. The important thing is that the socks are soft and cozy, and they’re the same size. That’s pretty good!

With the socks done, I could move on to new projects without guilt. A friend asked for a hat for her husband, and I was delighted. I do love making hats, and I’ve overwhelmed the rest of my people with hats, so it’s a treat to have someone who actually wants me to make a hat! Within two days I’d whipped up this simple red and white striped hat, which could be considered festive but is secretly Huskers colors.

IMG_5502And that was so much fun that I decided not to stop there. Ask for one hat, get two, apparently! I pulled these out this morning and cast on with the navy already. IMG_5504(These are Seahawks colors, just in case you’re like me and don’t follow any sportsball stuff.) I’m improvising my own pattern again; casting on 88 with size 6 for the ribbing, then switching to 8s for the body. I’m doing a different stripe pattern; hopefully it comes out like I see it in my head.

I’ll close with two bits of good news: a while back I made pombe yeast hats for two new people in the lab at work, and they received them on Monday. Both of them seemed to be genuinely delighted, and they both wore them around most of the day at work yesterday. That really made my day; I work with such awesome people.

Finally, Grace is doing so much better. She’s clearly got more energy, isn’t sleeping as much during the day. She was even playing outside with Duncan this morning, which she hasn’t done in a few weeks. Her appetite is back and she wants to eat everything…except the kibble we’ve been feeding them for ages. But that’s fine, we’ll look for a different food at the store today and hopefully find something tasty that won’t break the bank. Feeding three big dogs gets expensive! We’re being pretty generous with her, giving her some chicken when we cook it, and extra treats here and there, so that she’ll gain back some of the weight she lost. It’s such a relief to not be so worried about her!

That’s all for now. We’re all taking a vacation day today and in a bit we’re going out for a Family Fun Day, at least as soon as I can get everyone motivated to get out of bed and shower. There’s probably a visit to a bookstore in my future, a trip downtown to see some Christmas lights, maybe a lovely dinner out. Here’s hoping your holidays are equally delightful!

Pupdate on Grace

Grace spent most of the day at the vet’s yesterday, getting blood work and urine tests and other tests, and the good news is that we found out what’s wrong with her. She has Addison’s disease, a disorder of the adrenal glands that means her body isn’t getting the hormones it needs, and it throws her whole system out of whack. The not-good part is that it’s chronic, but with regular medication she’ll be able to have a perfectly normal long, healthy life.

So she’ll get a daily pill (small, we can easily hide it in peanut butter or cheese) and a monthly injection (which we can learn to administer at home if we like). The injected medication isn’t exactly cheap, but we can manage it, and she’s definitely worth it. She got her first doses yesterday and started perking up very quickly. She’s still not 100%, and her appetite isn’t really back yet, but I’m optimistic and encouraged that she’ll bounce back within a few days. I know Duncan will be happy; he keeps trying to get her to play with him and is quite befuddled that she keeps rebuffing him in the gentlest of ways. And that means Jack has been taking the brunt of Duncan’s energy, and I do believe he’s getting a bit tired of it.

I also got some good knitting done yesterday while I was sitting and fretting, so I’ll be sure to share that soon. Best part: I’m done with gift knitting!

Knitting as Distraction

This is why it’s hard to have puppers: one of my dogs is sick. Grace is lethargic and not eating and we don’t know why, and it breaks my heart. She was at the vet yesterday, no fever, no obvious answers, so she got some medicine and soft food. Today she’s refusing the soft food so she’s back to the vet today to get some blood work done. I’m kind of a mess, partly because I’m worried and partly because it brings back bad memories. We lost a very special dog at this time of year four years ago, and it feels too similar. I know it’s not; the symptoms are different. But it’s still triggering some powerful stuff, and I’m struggling, if I’m being honest. Winter is tough for me, emotionally, and it’s been a stressful few months for everyone in my house, so I think I’m already worn down. Thankfully, I have wonderful bosses who are understanding when I need time off, and lovely friends, and my knitting. Always my knitting! It can be a good distraction at times, and when not a distraction, a comfort.

I’ve been doing some Christmas knitting, though not as much as I wanted to be doing. I made some very cute mitts for my youngest nephew. The white glows in the dark, so maybe that will be a fun surprise for him.

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These were so fast to make that I think I need to make some for my boss’s twins, who are even smaller than my nephew, so those mitts would take no time at all! And I could use up some leftover yarn bits too. Win for everyone, right?

I’m almost done with a pair of socks, too. These are my second pair of Petty Harbor socks, though this time I just did a stockinette foot rather than carry the pattern down.

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I’m almost out of the purple, and I’m debating about just using the gray when I run out. Why not have a longer gray toe? I do have a second skein of the purple, but then I’d have more ends to weave in. And if I just use the gray, I can plan ahead and get a whole pair of short socks out of the second skein of purple. Really, I’m just kicking myself because if I’d done gray heels like I’d planned, I’d probably have plenty of purple to finish. Oh well, that’s kind of the nice thing about socks: they go into your shoes and it’s all right if they’re not perfectly matched. So I’m going to take my little sock and go sit with my sick pupper until it’s time to go to the vet, and cross my fingers that we get good news.

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?