Boy Socks

I have made lots of socks for myself, several pairs for the girl, a pair each for a couple of SILs, and a pair for the husband. Somehow the boy has never gotten a pair, maybe because he was still growing? Maybe because he’s a teenage boy and sometimes their feet are…well, I’m sorry but sometimes they are a little gross, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to put good yarn on them. But he’s a good kid and I love him so I decided he needed a pair of socks.

He asked for a basic color, and I got him to agree on blue. But not a bright blue! And no stripes. No variegation. Just blue. I had resigned myself to pretty boring socks but then he agreed to a gray cuff and toe, so that’s something at least. It took me a while to get going but yesterday I needed a break from my huge endless Dotted Rays shawl so I picked it up and made it past the heel.

The yarn is Seven Sisters Arts Meridian Tangled Up in Blue and man, it’s a lovely yarn. It’s knitting up snug and dense and it feels soft in my hand but nice and durable in the sock. And the blue? I thought it would be boring but it’s gorgeous! I’m kind of glad that the boy asked for short socks–I’m hoping to get some shorties for me out of the skein too! He has long feet, though, so it may not happen.

Today I’ll go back to the Dotted Rays while I’m watching the US Open. I’m on wedge 13 of 15 but each wedge takes forever. I don’t mind the loooong rows if I have tennis to keep my brain busy! We had some family in town so the last couple of days have been a little chaotic and crazy at times, so I’m looking forward to a quiet, peaceful day at home today.

Brown Sheep Co. Stratosphere

What draws you to a yarn? Is it color, weight, texture, variegation? Or maybe you shop by project rather than by inspiration? I’m a color person. The color has to draw me in, invite me to touch, and then the touch has to be pleasing. But when those two things go together, I’m a happy camper. And Brown Sheep Company‘s new yarn, Stratosphere, goes a long way toward meeting both needs.

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When I was offered the opportunity to review the Stratosphere, I wasn’t sure at first because it’s a DK weight, and I’ve been heavily focused on fingering weight for socks and shawls lately. But then I looked at all the bright solid and gorgeous kettle-dyed colors, and I felt that itch: I wanted that yarn. It was hard to pick, but finally I chose Eclipse (black), Cosmic (raspberry), and Zephyr (gray).

When it arrived, I was pleased: the colors were just as gorgeous and vivid as they looked online. I wound it immediately and cast on for a simple Michigan Avenue wrap, wanting to highlight the colors, and was pleased again. The yarn, made from fine-grade wool, feels smooth, full, and bouncy in the hand. It feels sturdy and durable without being rough like some other basic yarns. There was no splitting, just lovely garter stitch that I could do while watching TV or at knitting group without having to watch the yarn.

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On my size 7 needles, I got a reasonably dense fabric that should make this a cozy, warm wrap for fall. This would be amazing yarn for sweaters; I kind of wish I’d bought extra and made one with this yarn! With it being superwash, it would be perfect for kid sweaters. It starts around $14 for a 260-yard skein, making it a tempting and affordable option when you need a lot of yardage.

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This pattern didn’t need much in the way of blocking, but I washed it to see how it fared. I put it on the delicate cycle with cold water then laid it flat to dry. It came out softer than before with no fading or pilling. I wouldn’t have any doubts about washing a garment multiple times with this yarn; I think it will hold up really well. And if you like to knit cables, I imagine the stitch definition would be fantastic.

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I did find two knots in one of the three skeins, but overall, I was very happy with this yarn, and when I’m ready for my next sweater project (for me or the girl? Hmm…) this will be one of my top options.

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The other thing I like is the company itself: Brown Sheep is a family-owned business in Nebraska, and I love supporting independent businesses, especially ones in the Midwest like I am. Their mill also employs sustainable options like recycling 70-90% of their waste water. Cool, right? And, even better, you can get a free pattern just for signing up for their newsletter here. If this all sounds pretty good to you, you can find a Brown Sheep retailer here. Maybe you’ve got some at a LYS near you!

A special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and the Brown Sheep Company who generously sent me 3 skeins of Stratosphere ($42) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Bijou Basin cowl

Have I shared my Bijou Basin project yet? I can’t remember, but I’ve made progress in any case so I’ll show that too. This is the pretty pretty yarn I started with:

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It’s Llahsa Wilderness by Bijou Spun for Bijou Basin Ranch. It’s 250 yards of yak and bamboo and super soft. It’s sport weight but for some reason I thought it was fingering weight, so I picked a pattern for fingering weight, the Lace Eyelet Cowl, and it’s working out just fine.

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I can’t wait to get it done and blocked; I think the lace is going to open up beautifully!

Waving the white flag

Can I whine just a little bit? You can skip this post if you like, it’s fine.

We had the A/C repairman out this week. Again. We might have been their best customer this year: I believe we saw them four times between May and now. We have two units, so it was two visits per unit, but still, I find that excessive, don’t you? And thanks to one of those visits, we had to replace a heat pump with a furnace and do some other expensive crap. It was great. (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

It’s just been a stupid expensive year. We started off with some insulation to try to keep the winter temperature in the house above 62. My car needed body work, and then new brakes a couple of months later. The girl’s car needed some repair. We had our own A/C issues, plus a repair at our rental property. We had to redo two sets of wooden stairs outside once one rotted and broke, as well as redo the concrete work and build a new retaining wall. A dog got sick and along with vet bills, we added an expensive monthly medication to our vet expenses. We had to replace two tires on the husband’s car.

It just keeps coming and coming. We try to plan for projects that need to get done, but then something else falls apart and the other stuff never happens. I keep thinking things are looking up and we might get to turn this ship around, and then bam, something breaks and we have to pay for it. And this is all on top of all the senior year/off to college expenses.

I’m tired, friends. And just a little frazzled.

I know it will be okay, and we’ll muddle through just fine. I keep telling myself all the “cheer up” things I can think of, and in my head I know they’re true and sometimes they help. And yet, I worry, and it’s been hard at times to manage my depression/anxiety crap. It ebbs and flows, and I really do think I might be on the upswing, as long as I can keep the house from falling down around me!

Plus that’s what I have my knitting for, right? (Well, and meds too, thankfully.) My knitting has definitely been therapy for me the last several months and right now my Dotted Rays shawl is my favorite. It’s so soft and squishy and soothing, garter stitch over and over…

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When it’s done, it’s going to be the coziest shawl ever, I do believe. Yarn is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20, which only seems appropriate. I need some zen in my life!

You know, every time I write posts like this, I worry that they’re too honest, that I’m sharing too much, and maybe I should just journal. But…whatever. It helps me to write them. And maybe it helps others to know they’re not alone, or to show those who haven’t experienced it that depression isn’t always a “cure it and it goes away” kind of thing. 

All the socks

I cast on a new sock yesterday, giving me a total of four sock projects. They’re all relatively plain socks in varying stages of completeness. Commitment issues maybe?

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Yarns: Knit Picks Stroll, Mountain Colors Twizzlefoot Sock, Ancient Arts Sock, Biscotte Yarns Bis-Sock.

I’m going to commit to the newest sock, which is that pretty blue/green second from the left. It’s a new yarn for me, Twizzlefoot Sock Yarn from Mountain Colors. It’s super squishy and fun, a slightly different texture than I’m used to. I’m not sure if these will be for me or the girl!

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Along with those four sock WIPs, I have three other WIPs on my needles: two shawls and a lace cowl. I think that might be more than enough for me. Now I need to buckle down and start finishing some things!

Shawl progress

I chose poorly. Not the yarn, not the pattern. Both are heavenly. But I’m trying to modify a 5-color shawl to 3 colors and it’s not going as well as I wanted. I’m talking about my Dotted Rays shawl with the gorgeous Zen Yarn Gardens Serenity 20.

Somehow I missed where the pattern suggested approximately 1400 yards for the Large size. I just saw the yardage for the Super Large and thought 1200 yards would be plenty for the Large. (Note to self: read patterns carefully!) So I knit with color A until I had about 40 grams left and did one wedge alternating colors A and B. I didn’t want too much of the cream at the expense of the green and purple, and since I was at wedge 10 of 15, I thought surely I’d have plenty of yarn. But those later wedges get BIG, guys. Long rows, even doing short rows. After one wedge of all green, I’m down to less than 40 grams, which makes me think there’s no way I can make it through the remaining four wedges with just a bit of green and one full skein of yarn left.

There are a lot of options. I could just end it when I run out of yarn, but I really really want the chevrons at the end. I could frog back to where I stopped alternating the cream and green, and add in the rest of the cream. But I’m not sure it’s worth having to frog and reknit. (It’s definitely not.) The best option in my mind is to add another color. Currently, it’s Speckle/Solid/Speckle, so I should be able to end with a coordinating solid purple and it will be perfect. I have a couple of choices in my stash (purple yarn? Of course I do!) but I’m going to wait until I get close to running out of the purple speckle to pick. It might depend on how much I need.

I don’t think I’m a “wing it” kind of knitter. I think I like having all the information to work with up front!

Vacation Yarn

It’s a thing, vacation yarn. Or souvenir yarn, some may call it. Though I tend to think of souvenir yarn as like one special skein, and I bought…more than that. We left town Thursday and I didn’t even get to a yarn store until Saturday, and by then I was getting a little anxious. Fortunately I found Spindles, Shuttles and Skeins in Boulder. It was a little tricky to find, since it was on the second floor of a strip mall, but it was a nice big roomy store with a good selection of yarns. Still, my favorite part of that store was their shop dog, Nula. She was a good dog.

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Sunday was our day to explore Denver and I went to Fancy Tiger Crafts and OMG it was a wonderful store! It had other crafty stuff besides yarn, like fabric and I don’t know what else because Yarn. I had plenty of fun there. And then our last day we made a special trip to The Loopy Ewe because no trip to that area is complete without a visit there. Plus it was their new location, which was better than the original if only because it was easier to find! I had even more fun there than at Fancy Tiger. Let’s see my haul, shall we?

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These were all the random single skeins that I couldn’t resist. I tried to only get yarns I couldn’t find back home, but that one multicolored skein of Manos on the far right was just impossible to resist. And that Anzula on the far left? It’s sparkly! Then there’s this:

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This will be a fade shawl, maybe another Stephen West pattern. It all started with that speckled yarn (second from left) and I built from there. These yarns came from all three stores, which pleases me. I’d still like to find a solid purple to go with it, but I think it would be good even without it.

Finally, here’s my favorite selection. A while back I read The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb and loved it SO MUCH. It’s a continuation of The Little Mermaid story, and the descriptions of the ocean water were so vivid and clear that I felt like I was right there, seeing it all with her. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to make an ocean shawl, using the colors she described. I found what I was looking for at the Loopy Ewe.

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*shivers* I love this so so much. I just need to pick a pattern. I think it needs to be a semi-circular shawl (maybe this Karakorum?) but I’m not sure if I should start with the deep water (the dark purple-blue) and work out to the seafoam, or the other way around. Originally I thought I’d have the seafoam be the outer edge, but then I found this awesome Degreenify pattern and I’m not sure. What should I do??

So yeah. Colorado was definitely a success for me. And I can’t afford to go back to visit the girl for several months!