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FO Friday: Mix Tape Cowl

My Mix Tape cowl is done! I actually finished this earlier this week but didn’t have time to unpin it and take photos until today.

I accidentally repeated a stitch pattern but it was in a different color and I know nobody will ever notice it when I’m wearing it. This was a really fun, addictive knit and I can see being tempted to make it again with different colors!

Thanks to the Australian Open, I’ve made good progress on a couple of other WIPs this week too — I’ll share those soon. Happy Friday, friends!

It never fails

I feel like I do this every year: I cast on ALL THE THINGS in January and I’m so excited about all the variety … and then I get toward the end of the month and feel like I’m not close to finishing anything because I’ve just been flitting about between all my different WIPs. Progress this month was also slowed because I got kind of obsessed with my sock yarn scrap blanket. I guess I shouldn’t say progress was slowed, because I made great progress on that blanket, and I do want it it to continue, but now I want to resume progress on my main WIPs.

This weekend I hope to be watching some tennis so simple projects will be the best. I think I’m going to focus on my Turtle Dove II (still in increase phase) and my Scottish Highlands Shawl. I didn’t realize how much garter stitch this one had because my eye was so entranced by the lace border, but I have at least one more garter section to get through before I get to that.

The birthday dinner with my mom last night was very nice. She seemed to have a wonderful time, loved the margarita and queso, and the company of course! I also treated myself a bit yesterday and bought tickets to see KT Tunstall, a Scottish rock musician I love. You’ve probably heard a couple of her songs – Black Horse & the Cherry Tree, or Suddenly I See, from The Devil Wears Prada? I’ve listened to her for years and can’t wait to see her live. The closest she’s coming is Des Moines, which is only about 2 1/2 hours away from me. But she’s from Scotland — who knows if she’ll ever come this close again?? I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go. Life is short, friends — do the things that bring you joy! Live music does wonderful things for my heart and soul. Anyway, I’m not sure yet who will be my date. I’ve asked a friend but if she can’t come, the husband said he would. Even if the seat next to me is empty, I’ll be there!

I’m looking forward to a lazy weekend. The only thing I want to accomplish is go to the library to pick up a book for my book group (Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. So not excited about this one but I’ll give it a shot.) and maybe wash my sheets. Other than that, it’ll be knitting and tennis all day long over here. Hope you all have the weekend you want, too!

Happy Saturday!

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today my dad would have been 79 and I love him so much and I wish he could have lived forever.

Welcome to grief, where every so often, a day can still kick you in the ass. Almost 11 years on, it’s better than it used to be but the ache is still there and the pain flares up periodically. It seems so strange to me that so much of who I am now, what my life is now — he wasn’t a part of. I’ve moved, gone through two career changes, become a dog person and a knitter and someone who sometimes rocks purple hair. I’m on my second new car since he died and man, would he have loved Bella.

I’m taking my mom out to dinner tonight. Mexican, because that was his favorite — after steaks. She likes to honor the day like this and so do I, partly for my benefit and partly for hers. And then hopefully tomorrow I can wake up and the feelings will have receded and I can think of him with fondness, but not tears.

WIP Wednesday

I have so many WIPs that it was hard for me to pick which ones to include! Okay, I’m lying. It wasn’t hard at all — I picked the ones close at hand for photos or that I already had a photo of. Once I’m settled on the couch for an evening, especially with good tennis on tv, it takes a lot to make me get up. And really, these have been my favorite WIPs the last week or so.

I’ve had some really good blanket mojo. I think I’ve added something like 20 squares so far this month. I’m going to roll with it as long as it lasts, since experience tells me I’ll get tired of it soon enough and it will go back into hibernation.

My Mixtape Cowl is going well too. After that misstep with the second stripe, I’ve done three correctly. It’s easy to get a stripe done in one evening and I’m only planning to do nine stripes total, so the finish line for this one is within sight. That always motivates me to work more on a project.

Over the weekend I focused on my gray Turtle Dove II. I frogged and started over with the bigger needle for the neck and I’m well into the yoke increases, even farther than this photo shows. It’s growing quickly and I’m loving the feel. If I were smart, I’d focus on this so I’m able to wear it before spring!

I must stop now — Jack says it’s time for pets! Happy Wednesday!

Sunday Sweater

No, the sweater’s not called Sunday, though I think there is a sweater pattern called the Sunday Sweater. I’m just working on it on Sunday. I decided yesterday I was ready to start my Turtle Dove II. As you remember, I was pondering whether to knit the gray first or the teal, and I went with gray since it will be such a nice backdrop for all my purple shawls. I wound the first skein, gathered up all the needles, and prepared to swatch.

That’s a good swatch, right? Yes, since it starts with the neck, and is designed to fit loosely, I threw caution to the wind and just cast on! The pattern says to go down two needle sizes for the turtleneck, but based on advice from a friend who’s made a couple I went down just one. This morning, I put it on waste yarn so I could check gauge of the stockinette section and, more importantly, check the fit of the neck. I don’t want it TOO snug.

Results were mixed: my gauge is good, but the neck was a tad more snug than I’d like. Because I want to love this sweater and wear it all the time, I’m going to frog and start over, going up one more needle size for the neck. And see, this worked out well, because a gauge swatch never would have told me how I felt about the neck size, so doing it this way killed two birds with one stone! And it’s Aran weight yarn that knits up quickly, so I’m not losing much in the way of time.

Disclaimer: I do normally swatch for sweaters! Swatching is good and important. Except when you get better data just by casting on.

Happy Sunday, friends.

Come on, let’s twist again

You’ve all seen the instructions, I’m sure: “Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.” Duh. Obviously we’re going to be careful about that every time, you don’t have to tell us! And yet.

We had tickets to the symphony Saturday night and I needed a mindless knitting project. The Litmus Cowl has been on my queue for ages so I downloaded the pattern (free on Rav, can’t find it elsewhere), pulled out a skein of gray and a set of six mini skeins from Show Me Yarn (from DEEP stash), and got to winding. I even split each mini skein into four tiny 5g balls, to make for the most mindless of mindless knitting. I did my provisional cast-on, joined, and knit three rounds before putting it away into its bag for the evening.

That night, I pulled out it as I waited for the show to start, and guess what? You got it — I had twisted my stitches when I joined! ARGH. I had time to pull it all out and pick up the first row back on my needle before the show started, and then I think I got a row and a half during intermission. But since the show was rousing enough that I wanted to give it my full attention, I went home with a smaller project than I started with. Sigh.

At least it was a phenomenal show — celebrating the music of the Harlem Renaissance and featuring both male and female vocalists as well as a tap dancer. Ella Fitzgerald is a favorite of mine and the female vocalist had worked with her and shared a couple of stories, including one where Ella was nervous before a show because she was afraid the audience wouldn’t like her! Can you imagine?? Anyway, it was a delightful evening and I’m pretty sure the husband and I need to go see live jazz more often.

Happy Monday, friends.

Who can tell, anyway?

I pulled out my mosaic knitting Mix Tape Cowl the other night, and I think I was rewatching the Great Pottery Throwdown while I was knitting. The pattern is cool in that it gives you like 16 different stitch patterns that you can choose from for each stripe. I’d chosen number 3 for the first, and 13 for the second. I got to the last mosaic row and realized it didn’t look like the picture. I checked my pattern, which I had displayed on my iPad, and it was showing the instructions for 3, not 13. Somewhere in there I’d gotten things moved around, so apparently I just invented my own stitch pattern.

I briefly — very briefly — thought about ripping back, but decided it definitely wasn’t worth the bother. Nobody but me would ever know, and it looks fine. Still, I do hope I can do the rest of the stripes correctly!

I also recently got yarn for another new project. I got a bit of money for Christmas and decided to get a sweater quantity to make a Turtle Dove II sweater (the pattern is free on Rav). I found a fantastic sale on Cascade Aereo that allowed me to get TWO sweater quantities and I can’t decide which to do first.

I’ll wear the heck out of the gray one, but the teal one will be more fun to knit. Which would you knit first?

My third new project

Surely at some point I’ll run out of new projects to share, but I’m not there yet. My third new cast-on for the year is the Curiosity Cowl (I only found it on Rav). The main reason I had to make this is because of the nifty little drawstring which I’ll probably never use but looks super cute and reminds me of hoodies. The pattern calls for two colors of sport weight but I didn’t have that and we all know DK is basically the same thing so I’m using Bamboo Pop from deep stash.

It’s a little slow going at the moment since you basically knit each row twice, once in each color, but so far I’m finding it interestingly unusual rather than fiddly and/or annoying. Still, right now I find myself just wanting to work on my Scottish Highlands shawl! With five WIPs, it’s going to take forever to finish one, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday, friends.

A new shawl project

Time to share another one of my New Year’s Day cast-ons! I’ve been wanting to start the Scottish Highlands shawl for a few weeks, since I saw it on Instagram. It calls for two skeins, and I got a skein of yarn as a Christmas gift that was absolutely perfect for the main color. Stash diving produced a nice contrast for the lace, and I was off to the races!

The purple is Gnarled Paw Frida Helix, which is a deliciously yummy merino blend with 10% cashmere and I’m absolutely loving it. The white is sock yarn from Honey Girl Farms but it feels nice and squishy. So basically this project is just making me very happy. And I needed something happy tonight because I had to go back to work today and I forgot my laptop at home so I had to drive back and get it plus I had to talk to people and I got out of the habit of that over the holidays. Thank goodness there is knitting, that’s all.

Happy Tuesday that feels like Monday.

Mix Tape Cowl

Yesterday I managed to cast on five new projects! I didn’t get very far on any of them, but they’re ready to go when I want them. The one thing I realized is that they’re all a little more involved than I expected — not all that difficult, but none of them are easy mindless knitting. I’ll definitely need to add another project to my list for that purpose. Today I worked on my Mix Tape Cowl by Carissa Browning. It’s mosaic knitting, which looks so much more complicated than it really is, and this pattern is super easy to customize, with different stitch patterns you can choose from. I’ve got my first stripe done.

I definitely have to pay close attention to this one, because one mistake can throw off the whole pattern! It’s really fun, though, and I can tell it’s going to be addictive with those short, differently colored stripes! Did you cast on anything fun so far this year?

Happy Monday, friends.