This was my first week in my new job (which I LOVE), and it was just half time, as I spent the other half in my old role to help them transition. There was so much new information, so many new tasks, that my brain sort of got tired. Every night I’d come home with grand plans to knit after dinner, and almost every night I’d lose steam after a few rows. I’m hoping that with a little time, things will balance out, but in the meantime, I just have a wee bit of sock progress to share.See that bit of brown there? Yep, that’s the progress made on this Monkey sock since I last shared it. I managed about five rows one evening this week. But it should grow more pretty soon because I’m almost done with this Madtosh Mapleridge sock:This represents the bulk of my knitting this week. Last weekend I got the heel and gussets done, so this week I’ve been working on the foot during lunch breaks. Just an inch left and I’m ready to decrease for the toes! I’m saving this for next week’s lunch breaks, and this weekend I’ve started a new project. I received some yarn to review, along with a pattern, so of course I had to cast on for that immediately! Here’s a little black & white peek. The pattern is simple so I’m hoping it goes quickly. It’s perfect TV and movie knitting, and I have several shows to catch up on this weekend. And books to catch up on, and chores to catch up on…weekends need to be longer than two days!
Archive | March 2018
A new job!
I have no new knitting to share, but it’s for a good reason: I have a new job! I have moved from Administrative Assistant to Communications Specialist. I’m at the same company, which is delightful because I love what they do, and they have great benefits and awesome people. And I don’t have to completely leave all my buddies in the labs I supported–I can go visit them whenever I want. Bonus: now I get to do a job that’s perfectly suited for me! I’ve been waiting a long time for that.
When I graduated from college with my English degree many moons ago, I went straight to work at my mom’s used-book store. I was officially the manager, and I loved my time there, but if I’m completely honest, I did that because it was the easy route. Hunting for a “real” job was terrifying, especially since I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had the job with my mom waiting for me, and I did love the store and the book business, so it was just simpler to make the safe, comfortable choice.
I was happy enough for three years, but then my parents moved out of state and by then we’d had the girl, so I became a stay-at-home mom, and that was my job for a few years. When I started going stir-crazy, I got a part-time retail job in a clothing store and mostly worked when the husband could be with the kids. And I loved it. I loved feeling smart and useful again. I loved overcoming challenges and learning new things and being around fun adults again. I was good enough, and liked it enough, to be promoted twice, until I was the store manager of the district’s newest store.
I had to be an effective communicator, especially when I was a trainer, but mostly it didn’t involve any of the things I love (especially any writing/editing). And by the end, as store manager, I didn’t like it so much. I didn’t get to do the parts of the job I’d loved, life had gotten hard at home, and I didn’t like being the head honcho. Or maybe I didn’t like being head honcho because life was hard at home, I’m not sure. In any case, for a lot of reasons, it made sense for me to quit and stay home with my two almost-teenagers.
I loved staying at home this time around. It was less stressful with school-age kids than with infants/toddlers, and I had a lot more time to explore my interests. That was when I learned to knit, finishing writing a book, started a blog, started my Etsy shop–all these awesome, fun, creative things. I loved having so much creative time. Alas, it didn’t make any money. And when the girl got her driver’s license, I had to admit it made sense for me to go back to work.
Okay. Well, I had an English degree, a four-year gap in my work history, experience in retail management, and no desire to go back to working in retail. I started the whole job-hunting thing and it was hard and scary and not fun at all. I wanted something relevant, something in communications or writing-related, but everything required more experience than I had. Yep, I applied anyway, and got nowhere. I used the connections I had, and got nowhere. And then I got the interview for the company I’m at now. They seemed nice enough, I knew I could easily do the admin assistant job, and it was a paycheck we could really use.
It didn’t take long to feel comfortable. I like keeping things organized, and I got to proofread and edit things every so often, but it didn’t challenge me. As much I loved my teams and the company, I wasn’t sure it would be a long-term fit. But then this Communications Specialist position opened up, and I wanted it. A lot. Everyone says internal candidates have an edge but I wasn’t convinced this was a slam-dunk for me. I had multiple interviews, and worked hard to convince them that I had the skills they were looking for, but all along I was afraid they’d find some young person with a communications degree and tons of social media experience, someone they could pay less. So when they offered me the position, I truly felt like I had earned it.
It’s funny how life works out, you know? Here I am, 20 years out of college and only just now starting the first job that really feels like ME. I don’t regret the path I took, but I sure am glad I finally found my way here. And if I have a little bit less time for knitting and blogging for a while, well, that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.
Working on WIPs
I’m actually knitting things other than socks right now, can you believe it? I mean, yes, I do have two pairs of socks on the needles right now, but I also have two other projects! One is my brainless knitting, and it’s appropriately called Easy, by Martina Behm. I had two skeins of gorgeous Madelinetosh DK and I wanted to be able to appreciate the colors, and enjoy the feel of it as I knit along in garter stitch. I’m maybe halfway through the first skein; this is what I pick up at night when my brain is tired but my fingers want to knit.
When my brain isn’t tired, I pick up my Arya wrap, which is more complicated with lace color changes and repeats. It’s not difficult, but I do have to concentrate. I love the shape of this one, asymmetrical with pointy ends.
This yarn is Bamboo Pop and the cotton/bamboo means it will be the perfect wrap for late spring, and cool summer nights. Plus, in black and white, it will be striking and versatile. I’m a little bit concerned that it will be shorter than I want, because the pattern is telling me to start the decrease sections now, but it doesn’t seem long enough. I know blocking will help, but I’d hate to knit the whole thing and then not be happy with it. What do you think: trust the pattern, or try to modify for extra length?
While I ponder the Arya problem, I have a second sock that’s coming right along and is just about ready for a heel flap. These have been my lunch break knitting and I’m eager to have them done for spring.
Yarn is Madtosh Sock in Seaglass (LOVE!) and pattern is Mapleridge. I think I can get the heel and gusset done this weekend so that they’re ready for easy foot knitting next week.
Happy weekend, friends! I’m looking forward to lots of knitting and laundry! (Okay, no, not looking forward to doing the laundry. But looking forward to an excuse to stay in PJs, and having clean clothes.)
Always with the socks!
Every time I have a FO lately, it’s socks. Today is no different: I finished my (Not) FlexiFlips Socks the other day and they’re so cool!
These are the ones I started so I could test the new FlexiFlip needles. I didn’t love the needles, though, so they were mostly knit on DPNs. I love that they’re fraternal twins, not identical. I didn’t even try hard to make it happen; the yarn did it for me. The stripes are the tiniest bit non-matching, and one sock might be a hair smaller, but you can’t tell unless they’re right up next to each other, and how often does that happen? Never, I tell you!
The pattern is my favorite, the Vanilla Latte, except I realized I’ve been doing them wrong all along. The pattern says to alternate the rib row with a plain knit row, and I’ve never done that. I always just do all ribbing. One of these days I might try it as written, just to see if I like it as much.
The yarn is Diversity by Plymouth Yarn, and I really enjoyed knitting with it. It’s mostly acrylic with a little polyester, but it’s smooth and silky, unlike any other acrylic yarn I’ve ever worked with. It felt good in my hands, slid along the needles nicely, and wasn’t splitty at all. And it’s machine washable, which is perfect for socks! (Am I the only one who waits forever before washing their handknit socks??) Plus the stripes knit up nicely and the colors are bright. I’m looking forward to knitting the other skein of it in my stash!
Once I finished those, I felt free to cast on more things, as one does, so I’ve got two new shawls on my needles and I hope to get some photos to share this weekend. It’s a busy spring, partly because this happened recently:
Yep, the girl is 18 now. Mind-boggling, I tell you. We’ve been in the midst of parties and dinners out and all the spring concerts, so there are things happening pretty much every weekend. I just keep telling myself to appreciate it, because pretty soon the weekends will be empty!
The Sweater, She is Done
I officially finished my second handknit sweater, and it turned out so much better than my first! (You can see my Harvest cardigan here) This one actually fits, and fits well! I adore it, and I know I’ll be wearing it a lot and making at least one more.
The pattern is Joji Locatelli’s Textured Pullover and I made the size large. I think it’s designed with enough positive ease that it fits just how I like it, not too tight and not too oversized. I liked knitting a pullover in the round, rather than a cardigan back and forth, so I see more pullovers in my future.
My gauge was just loose enough that I feel like I need to wear a layer underneath for modesty, but it’s fine because I can do a tank in warmer weather, or a long-sleeved tee when I need to bundle up, and the extra layer doesn’t affect the fit.
The stripes and texture were great, and really helped keep my interested throughout the project. I only lost steam at the second sleeve, which seems pretty good for me. So I’ve learned that when I make sweaters, I can’t just do miles of stockinette or it will take me years to finish.
The yarn is acrylic, Loops & Threads Value Pack from Michael’s. It’s nice and soft, but it does fuzz up quickly, so I’ll need to get a fabric shaver soon.
And now I think I have totally earned the right to buy a sweater quantity of good yarn, like Malabrigo!
Not My WIPs
We recently conquered our attic. The attic is finished, with two rooms up there. One is the girl’s bedroom, and the other had ended up as a storage room/dumping ground. It was a mess and a waste of space. The girl had mentioned wishing it could be a music room, so when the kids and I had a snow day a couple of weeks ago we decided to tackle it. She had important other stuff to do (scholarship apps and homework) so the boy and I started without her.
He packed up Legos and Star Wars toys while I bagged trash and carried a bunch of pieces of wood down three flights of stairs. Once his part was done, he helped me with some of the stuff going in the trash, and then I was on my own. I sorted, filed, tidied, and organized the space, and by the end of the day, the girl had her music room. She was delighted!
Anyway, amongst all of the assorted stuff the girl had discarded in that room, I found yarn! And needles! And…knitting?? Yep, back when she was still interested in knitting, she’d cast on five projects, and they’d all been discarded in various stages. I rescued everything yarn-related and relocated it to my craft room where I could keep it safe, and assessed the projects in front of me. One was a lace cowl with just a few rows, and she had no idea what pattern she’d used. That one got frogged and I’ll make something for her out of the yarn. One was a fingerless glove, and the rest were hats. I like knitting hats. I miss knitting hats. So the glove got set aside and the hats came downstairs and added to my own pile of WIPs. Last weekend when I needed a break from my own projects, I picked up and finished two of hers.
This one was a simple striped slouch hat in acrylic. It felt like Red Heart super saver, and if it hadn’t been so far along, I might have just frogged it. But I liked the colors and it was ready for decrease rounds, so I went with it, and it was done in about an hour.
I’m pretty sure this yarn is Manos del Uruguay Maxima; I love it. She didn’t know what pattern she’d started, and after the ribbed brim I saw two rows of stockinette, then one row of k2, p2. I could work with that. It ended up as a great beanie with a waffle pattern and if she doesn’t wear it, I might steal it.
This last hat WIP is a Sockhead, and it was maybe two inches into the 4″ brim, so I’ll save that for when I need truly mindless knitting, like concerts or movies, things like that. Obviously she’s in no rush for any of these! If you look closely, you can see where I picked up. She’s a very tight knitter, and I am not.
Have you ever finished projects for someone else?
I’m making progress on my FlexiFlip sock, but I can’t call it that anymore. I made it a little over halfway through the foot before giving up. I really wanted to make it through the whole sock, to give the needles a fair shot. They felt super awkward at first, then I kind of got used to them, then once I got past the heel and into the gusset/foot, it got awkward again. Well, more uncomfortable than awkward. Maybe I was doing something weird, but knitting with them made my hands feel tight and cramped, and it hurt to knit very long. I found that I was dreading knitting them just because of the needles, and that’s never okay. One should not dread her knitting! So the sock has been transferred to my favorite bamboo DPNs and I am much happier with it. Anyone want a set of size 1 FlexiFlips??
We had a day-trip on Monday, with about four hours in the car, and I made good progress on my Textured Pullover, even if I did get super bored of knitting it. I was smart and wove in all the other ends as I finished each section, so finishing will be quick. I did make a wee error, but I think it’ll be fine. As I read the pattern again for the second sleeve, I realized there were supposed to be decrease rounds all through the sleeve that I completely missed. So my sleeves won’t taper. Oh well. I’m totally okay with that.
Since taking this photo, I’ve made it over halfway through the second sleeve and just need to find the motivation to power through the rest. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! I just need a good movie marathon to distract me. How do you motivate yourself to finish a lingering WIP?
The best news of the week is that the girl is now all done with her auditions for college! Now we wait for two more result emails, and final talent scholarship offers (fingers crossed) and then it’ll be decision time. I think we’ll all be relieved when it’s all said and done and we can focus on moving forward.
I don’t have a FO to share today. I can share some progress on my sock, my FlexiFlip sock. It’s going well. I’m getting used to the needles and they’re not feeling as unwieldy as they did at first. They’re still not as fast as DPNs for me but I think I’ll get there pretty quick. I am loving this yarn. The colors are fun, and even though the color changes are different than I was expecting, I like it a lot. I mean, look how cool the heel turned out!
It’s smooth and slick, almost slippery, from the polyester, and maybe you’d think acrylic/poly sock yarn, what is she thinking? But no, seriously, it feels good, kind of cool (literally). It’s a nice switch from the wool/nylon yarn, though I’m sure that’ll always be my primary sock yarn blend. And it’ll make lovely spring/fall socks, I think. So yeah, these are zipping along.
My sweater, however, is not zipping along. I’ve got most of one sleeve done and I’m trying to work on it at night, but it’s boring and I keep having to adjust it as I go around the little sleeve and I’m ready for it to be done so I can wear it. We’re taking one more short road trip on Monday for the last music school audition, so I’ll take that and only that with me and force myself to work on it.
Edward went to the shop and spent a few days there getting a new front bumper and some new shields or something, and it went through my insurance so I only had to pay the deductible. We timed it out so that they could work on it while I was out of town with the girl last weekend, and then the husband and I carpooled on Monday, so I didn’t even have to pay for a rental car. So overall that whole experience was much better than I was expecting, and they did a fantastic job and even detailed him perfectly so that he looks almost brand-new and I love him.
Grace has adjusted wonderfully to her meds for Addison’s disease. I even gave her the injection myself last month! And we were able to lower her steroid dose so she’s not quite as thirsty and ravenous as she was at first. Her energy level is up and she’s very frisky and loves to play with Duncan again. She and Duncan are buddies; Jack kind of gets left out but also I think he feels threatened by Duncan at times. He’s usually pretty happy to hang out with his people while the other two go nuts.
Duncan hasn’t gone into any trouble lately (knock on wood) and keeping them in the kitchen when we’re gone seems to be working well. I don’t love it, but it’ll work until Duncan gets a little older and hopefully outgrows his destructive tendencies.
The girl has received acceptance letters from two of her four schools and I am delighted and super proud of her. We’re still waiting for a decision from one school and like I said, we have the last audition Monday, so we probably won’t have a final decision for another few weeks. We’re very lucky that she’s received automatic academic scholarship offers from all four schools, and a music scholarship from at least one, but even with those, and her college savings account, there’s still a lot of financial ground to make up. It’s scary, and it’s not even my college life! But we so want her to have a great experience, to have the education and flute professor and opportunities that she wants to have. I’m excited for everything that is ahead for her.
At the same time, though, we can’t just pay for it. It’s not feasible, and we can’t take on huge debt for it either. College is scary. If you have kids, start saving yesterday! But we’ll figure it out with a lot of little things. We’ll help a little. She’ll probably have to get a part-time job, a small student loan, and with luck, several of the private scholarships she’s applying for. I know it’ll work out, I really do. But I’m a mother, and a worrier, and those things together are rough when it’s time for college! Life is stressful in my house quite often these days, but there’s still a thread of excitement that comes out just when we need the encouragement.
Sorry this turned out so long; I didn’t mean to ramble. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for your patience!
Addi FlexiFlips: First Attempt
I was super excited to find the Addi FlexiFlips on my road trip. I love knitting socks, and I prefer to use three 5″ DPNs, with a fourth as a working needle. I’ve tried 9″ circs and the tips are just too tiny to be comfortable to hold. I haven’t tried magic loop yet because it looks fiddly and weird and I resist trying strange new things. So these seemed like a great combination of DPNs and circs. As soon as I finished my current sock WIP, I grabbed the FlexiFlips and some sock yarn, and cast on.
Or rather, I tried to cast on. I got the needles on the first needle just fine. Then I split them evenly onto two needles. But then I couldn’t figure out how to join them like I would on DPNs. I fiddled for a little while before turning to the experts on YouTube. I found lots of videos on how to knit with them, but they all showed socks with several rows already started. I couldn’t find any that showed how to cast on and join in the round with these particular needles. But I’m not a quitter, so I knit the first row, slid two completed stitches to the next needle, and joined in the round that way. It was awkward, but I think it worked.
Once I got going, I realized it was going to take a bit to get used to them and to figure out how I wanted the needle not in use to behave. It took several rounds before I decided I liked to bunch the stitches onto the cable portion and bend the back needle so it was kind of out of the way. After that I was off and running!
One of the interesting features of these needles is that that have different tips. On each needle, one tip is more pointy and one is more blunt. That’s very versatile for different preferences…except it means I have to pause and make sure I’ve got the pointy tip each time I switch needles.
So far, these make for slower knitting than my DPNs. I can’t tell for sure yet, but I think my gauge will be a bit looser than with my DPNs, and I’ve got to be more careful about laddering, though I think that’s more about the learning curve and getting comfortable with the needles than with the needle design itself. I do like the metal, and it makes me want some Signature DPNs even more. And I like how they fit neatly in a project bag with no worries of stitches falling off! All in all, I wanted to love them, but I don’t. However, I like them enough that I’ll keep going with them through at least one sock and see if I’m comfortable with them after that.
Have you tried the FlexiFlips yet? What did you think?