Grinch-mas

Life’s Stash:

The holiday hustle and bustle is here with a vengeance this year!  I managed to catch the nastiest of colds right before Thanksgiving and it held on through last week, so I feel as though I lost a couple of weekends of preparation.  Luckily my husband ant the kids picked up some of the slack and I’ve let other things go (more on that below)  Most of the gifts are purchased though and my husband has done a lot of the wrapping.  Now it’s just sorting through what’s in my closet where I hide gifts and finishing up the last of what’s needed.

I’m also hoping to bake some more cookies this weekend.  Somehow I never feel like we have enough cookies!  I did an epic cookie baking weekend last weekend as a fundraiser for the school.  We baked 680 DOZEN cookies – sugar cookies, spritz, peanut butter blossoms, Russian tea cakes, and turtles.  Now I just need to make bourbon balls (a favorite of some of my co-workers) and krumkaka.

What I’m Knitting:

I’ve been doing a lot of crocheting lately.  I agreed to make 20 mug cozies for my oldest daughter’s class.  Every year the 5th Grade creates a business for the Christmas Concerts.  Their job is to create crafts, market the items and sell them during the concerts.

I’ve also been working on a reversible hat from Interweave Knits Gifts for the same daughter.  The Stashbuster Hat is worked from the top down, then you switch yarns and work a second hat from the brim up.  I found yarn in my stash (deep, deep in the stash) for this hat.

Just yesterday I decided to try to whip out a couple of boot toppers for gifts.  I know it’s crazy talk to start a project the weekend before Christmas and expect to get it done, but these really are fast knits.  I’m not going to stress too much about whether they get done or not.

What I’m Not Knitting:

Sometime around Thanksgiving I made the decision to not knit with a Christmas deadline in mind.  I realize that this doesn’t make sense because I just said I was knitting the hat and boot toppers (plural?).  However, the intent was to knit for pleasure, not stress out about a deadline.  I’ve been that person knitting frantically in a bar with family on Christmas Eve trying to get the present done before the next morning.  That’s not what I want this year.  I want to just enjoy the knitting this year.  The other motive behind this is to not knit for people who will not enjoy receiving the items.  If the recipient is not “Knit-worthy” then I’m not knitting for them this year.  I’m also not knitting for several people that are appreciative of my knitting just because my time is at a premium.  Sometimes it’s a matter of not enough time in the day.

I’m also not knitting a couple of projects that I had started earlier this month…. more on those a different day.  They just took a backseat to the mug cozies and now to the other items I’m knitting.

Knots & Tangles:

My knitting has been behaving very well recently.  I mostly was making up the patterns for the mug cozies, so while there was some ripping of patterns that didn’t work out, it wasn’t anything that was too traumatizing.  It was a really good way for me to learn some new crochet stitches on a small canvas.

Loose Ends:

Let me know what you think of this format.  My Boss is pushing me hard to start a podcast.  I’m contemplating starting a podcast.  If I can get all the details sorted out, then I may give it a try.  Several years back I bought a recorder and headset to record with.  Unfortunately the time to podcast was always slim to none in those days.  As it is, I tend to write the blog while the kids are playing in the background or late at night in between putting kids to bed and tucking them back in two times.  What I’m trying to say is that my house is not quiet or completely conducive to podcasting.  The timing is just something I’m going to figure out.  So tell me, would you listen to my very midwestern/up-nort accented voice talking about knitting?

Building a Cabin

I was reading a book for our book club last month that revolved around a community of women during the Civil War.  The women in this community were making quilts to send to the soldiers.  The beginning of each chapter had a description of a quilt.  I’ve always been fascinated by quilts, even though I don’t really sew.  As a kid I would pore over my grandma’s quilt books when I visited her.  She bought me graph paper and colored pencils for me to draw out my favorite patterns.  I spent hours coloring in quilts on that graph paper!

As I read the chapter on log cabin quilts, I started to think about all the sock yarn scraps and mini skeins that I have.

  • What would it look like if I started a log cabin blanket using sock yarn scraps?  I know that worsted weight would be faster, but I don’t have lots of odds and ends of superwash worsted laying around.
  • What would it look like?
  • Would I stick to a monochrome color pallate?  Probably not feasible with the wide variety of sock yarns I have.
  • Superwash?  Definitely.
  • How would I attach each rectangle and would I want to weave in all those ends?
  • How long would this epic sounding project take me?!
  • I love looking at all the ways you can put together a log cabin quilt.

I took out all my superwash sock yarn mini skeins and leftovers and sorted them into darks, lights and reds.  Red is a traditional color for the center of the square – it represents the hearth as the center of the home.  There is some neat history about the log cabin quilt here.

Still in the somewhat thinking about it stage, I drug out all my sock yarn mini skeins.  The reds went into one baggie to use for the centers.  The darks and lights went into gallon size bags.  I have one large ziplock bag of each.

This might be the crazy talking, but I’m going to do it.  (Did you really have any doubt?)

I will be making half the square with dark colors and half the square with light colors.  When the quilt is finished, I’ll match up the lights next to the lights and the dark side next to the darks.  This can either be arranged into diagonal stripes or crosses.

Whoosh!

My knitting has been in a bit of a funk lately.  Call it boredom, call it the ho hums, call it ennui.  (great word, ennui, even if I have a hard time pronouncing it!)  I just don’t see a pattern that is really firing me up.  My knitting is just “eh.”

I love the yarn I have in my stash.  I take it out (pet it a little) and look at it and troll the pattern search on Ravelry to find new patterns.  I have spent hours looking for that “just right” project.  I’m just not finding what I want.  Since I can’t even tell you what I want, it might be hard to find what it is that I want to knit.  Something simple, but not so simple that I will get bored 1/3 of the way through.  Something classy.  Something that ideally uses part of my crazy large stash of amazing yarn.

I took knitting on our trip to Florida with high hopes of knitting on the plane, in the conference, on the buses, and while waiting in line.  I did knit at the conference and on the plane, but I really didn’t get as much done as I would have hoped.  The extreme heat and humidity might have had something to do with this.  The general awesomeness of Disney World might have had something else to do with this.  For the most part our waiting in lines was minimized by some strategies I used and even if we did have a wait there were too many fun things to look at.  Most nights I was too tired to do more than one row on a shawl.

I need inspiration.  I need to fall in love with a pattern.  I need a pattern that brings the sparkle to my eye and makes me say, “ooooh!”  I need help.  What patterns are you in love with right now?  Leave me a comment – help a sista out!

 

Where Did Who Go?

September snuck up on me. You know how some months seem to completely fly by as though you missed an entire week somehow? Well that’s how August felt. Like the very obscure line from Top Gun, “Where did he go?” “Where did who go?”  The month of August flew by like a fighter jet and September looks to be going just as fast.

I’ve been slowly working on my August Camp Loopy project, the Siren’s Hymn wrap. The challenge was to find a color that makes you happy and to knit something that takes 800 yds. I flew through Project 1 and 2 without a real problem, but Project 3 seems to be a struggle. Part of the problem is that I did more driving than passenger-ing in August. That seriously cuts down on my knitting time!

I realized I was down to the wire on this project with a week and a half to go in the month. I counted the number of sections I had done, then divided the remaining days by the number of sections I had left to do. I would have had to knit 16 sections per day. On a really good day, where I didn’t have to work or do much meal prep, I could do 9 sections. Um…. Houston, we have a problem.

As of August 31 when I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30pm, I had 72 rows to finish. The only thing keeping me motivated to finish this wrap is knowing how nice it will be to have on our trip in October. Whether wearing it as a scarf or wrapping it around my shoulders on the plane, I think it will be great for over air conditioned locations.

That means only 3 sections per day to get it done by October!

 

Bitten by my Knittin’

There are days when my knitting just doesn’t seem to cooperate, and then there are entire weeks where the knitting just doesn’t go as planned.

 

One of my favorite podcasts, the Knitmore Girls, does an entire segment every week about this.  They call it, When Knitting Attacks.  Well my knitting certainly attacked this week.

 

It started with weaving in the ends of Lily’s sock.  I’ve been carrying the sock around for awhile just waiting for a few minutes to weave in ends.  I finally was sitting on our new patio enjoying the evening (everyone else was gone for the night) and I took out the sock.  Although it was really nice to sit quietly for a bit, it was also strange and a little lonely.  I was weaving in the ends when I started getting texts.  In a stunning display of brilliance, I clipped one of the yarn ends.  Not the end that I had just weaved in and clipped, but an end that had not been woven in yet.  I suspect I’ll be reknitting that toe sometime soon.

Then, I started a new pair of socks for my hubby.  We picked out suitably manly yarn from my stash with contrasting colors for the heels and toes.  The main yarn is Socks that Rock in lightweight.  I measured his foot, packed the yarn and headed off to a convention six hours away.  The toe looked large.  Actually, when I laid it on my leg it seemed extremely large.  I kept going, measuring as I went.  After all, I didn’t have a size 13 foot to measure it against.  When I got home and compared it to the other pair of socks I have knit for him, I discovered it was, in fact, extremely large.  Then, I measured gauge.  Oh…. was I off.  I’ve ripped it out and gone down two needle sizes.

Just slightly larger than the pair of socks.

I’ve since ripped the second toe out and gone down one pattern size as well.  I’ve at least had the sense to be trying this one on my hubby as I go so that I don’t get too far before ripping it out again.

Finally, my Camp Loopy shawl.  Yep, that bit me too.

One of these rows….

One of these rows is not like the others.  One of these rows just doesn’t belong.  That lovely tan row near my needles was actually ripped out twice all ready because of counting mistakes.  I guess the third time really is the charm!

I do like the pattern, Sirens Hymn, but the going is definitely slow.  I love the colors individually and think it will look really nice with a shirt the color of the darker turquoise.  The tan is a little more subtle than what you see above.  I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have this done by August 31 in order to beat the Camp Loopy deadline.

But then again, why should I expect it to go any more smoothly from here?


Sandshore Cardigan

I now have a mannequin; actually I have two in my house.  A store that is going out of business is selling off the mannequins and I decided I needed one for myself.  The second is actually for the school for our dinner auction.  I’m just storing it at my house for the moment.  Because I’m too lazy to bring it into the office.  Because the closet in my office needs to be rearranged.  Because I haven’t found a place I’d like to keep it yet.  I don’t know which one to store!  Well, I’ve got a whole list of excuses why I have the two mannequins still hanging around my house.  The funny part about the mannequin is that my husband came home from work one night to find two necked mannequins in the living room.  He just looked at them and said, “oh, you got a mannequin,” in a bored voice.  I’m somewhat disappointed at such a lackluster reaction!

The mannequin arrived just in time to model my partially completed Sandshore Cardigan.

 

The Sandshore Cardigan is Project #2 for Camp Loopy.  It needed to be a project that reminded us of our favorite place to relax or vacation.  I absolutely love the shore.  Whether it’s the shore of Lake Superior, the beach at the cabin, the sandy shore at Sanibel Island, or any of the other shores that I have visited.  I love watching the waves and having my toes in the sand.

 

Sandshore Cardigan

Yarn:  Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Worsted in Beaches

Needle:  Size 8 – I went down 2 needle sizes for this.

Modifications:  I did a Make 1 instead of a yarnover at the raglan increases because I didn’t want the holey look at my shoulders.  I also made the sleeves full length because I think I’ll get more wear out of the sweater this way.  3/4 length sleeves just don’t seem very practical for Superior.

This sweater is perfect for chilly nights on any shore.  It’s great over a dress when the air conditioning at a restaurant is kicked up a little high.  I haven’t even blocked the sweater yet and I’ve worn it twice!

Back to the mannequin, I think I need a name for her.  I’d really not write another post with the word mannequin in it 30 times.  Do you have a suggestion as to what I should name her?  Post it in the comments below!

Cold Spring = Warm Feet

The nice thing about being a knitter is that there is really no good reason to have cold feet.

Weather turned a little chilly?  AC cranked up too high?  Put on some socks.  I’ve been known to “try on” one sock for long periods while I’m knitting on the second sock.  It’s probably a good thing that I only do this in the privacy of my own home!

Finishing up my Camp Loopy sweater with one full week to go before I can cast on for my July sweater means that I can finish up a few projects that had been lying around.  I love the feeling of finishing projects!

This week I went to lunch with my co-workers.  Our server looked at me and said, “how many socks do you knit in a week?”  Ummmm… well usually it takes me a couple of weeks to finish a sock.  ”Wow, cause you were knitting on a blue sock last week!”  ”And you’re almost done with this one.”

I like to think that I only stood out because I was with The Boss.  It couldn’t have been the quirkiness of the knitting, was it?

I wouldn’t have 2 pairs of socks finished this week if these weren’t the socks that I carry around with me most of the time.  I knit while at some meetings, while watching online training webinars (not often anymore), and in restaurants.  It’s a rare occasion that I don’t have my knitting with me.  I get a little twitchy if I don’t have my knitting with me – you just never know when you’re going to have an opportunity to knit.

In fact, this weekend I plan to sit with my toes in the sand, a margarita at my elbow, and some knitting in my lap.   And since an Official Complaint has been lodged by the Littlest Knitter in our household, there will be no getting out of bed at a particular time this weekend.  The Littlest Knitter informs me that this is in fact SUMMER BREAK, and there should be no official wake up time every day during summer.

The Littlest Knitter

 

 

 

 

I Might Be a Bit Excited….

Would you like to guess where we’ll be going?

I’m pretty excited.  I’m reading everything I can and being slightly obsessive compulsive about planning the trip.  All of the big details are nailed down – where we’re staying, food, flights, etc.  Now it’s just planning the fun stuff.  If anyone has any ideas/tips/tricks/etc about Disney World, let me know!

Oh Boy!

I deserve a smack on the forehead for this one.  Or a knitting Time Out?  At the very least a severe reprimand to myself.

I was merrily working on my Trieste Cardigan for the Loopy Ewe Camp Loopy.  I needed to make a project with 400 yds of yarn that I had bought from the Loopy Ewe.  I found wonderful yarn – Shalimar Yarns in Zoe Sock – that was 450 yds.  I planned on using yarn from stash for the colorwork.  This would be acceptable in the rules as I read them as long as the stash yarn was something that was also found in the Loopy Ewe store.

Here’s the kicker.  In my head I was making the 6 month size of the cardigan for a yet to be born niece or nephew.  (The flavor is yet to be determined, but the baby is due in July.)  I had the neck down to the armholes done as well as one sleeve.  I was making tracks!  Then, my friend Knittymuggins mentioned that she was probably going to be short of yardage to make the 400 yd goal.

That’s when it hit me.

3 Month Size

 

The sweater called for 410 yds in the size I was making (which was actually a 3 month size).   Since I was using a stash yarn to do the color work, it wouldn’t actually count towards the 400 yd minimum.  Plus, this couple’s last baby grew fast so I wanted a larger size anyway.  To the frog pond it went.

Did I mention that this sweater has to be completed, photographed and uploaded to the Ravelry group by June 30?  I’m knitting like the wind to get this done in time.

The Frog Pond

 

I know that this challenge seems rather silly – after all, who cares if you use 399 yds of yarn or 450?  But put a challenge in front of me and I’ll do it.  I’ve always been that way.  In fact, it’s probably the same reason I’ve entered into a No Sugar Until the Other One Gives In challenge with The Boss.  Neither of us is allowed to eat refined sugar (with a couple of “let’s keep this realistic” exceptions).  So far so good with the challenge – neither of us shows much sign of giving in any time soon.  We’ve both shown remarkable restraint in the face of brownies, cake and other sweets.  It probably helps me that my hubby has no sweet tooth what so ever.

So one little 400 yd sweater?  It’s nothing compared to staring chocolate in the face.

I’d Like Some Wabi-Sabi with That

Wabi-Sabi, that’s a fun one to say too!  While innocently shopping at a the Yarn Bank in Taylors Falls, MN where I didn’t really intend to buy much of anything I found this cool pattern and yarn.

It’s cotton but it feels like linen or paper while you’re knitting with it.  It’s kind of an odd feeling to knit with this, yet fun as well.  It feels very fragile (although I can say without a doubt that it is not).  I can’t wait to see how the yarn will bloom and change when I block it.  The photo on the pattern looks like a completely different yarn even though this is the yarn that is called for.  The scarf is very slowly growing into a long triangle shape.  I say slowly both due to the shape and due to the lack of knitting that has been happening.

My friend, Maryanne, convinced (ok she didn’t have to twist my arm too hard!) me to join her in the Camp Loopy 2014 this year.  It’s a virtual camp that takes place over June, July and August.  You are given a theme for each month and need to complete a project related to that theme before the 1st of the next month.  The first theme is based on our favorite book, movie or TV show and needs to be 400 yds.  I chose Harry Potter (which narrowly won out over Game of Thrones) because I found this fantastic Sprout colorway and the Trieste cardigan.  It’s my first real steeking experience.  Although on the surface it doesn’t look very magical, I can just imagine the vine twisting out from the cardigan to tie someone up.  Or the Wholloping Willow branches picking up a car to toss as far as it can.  Plus, it reminds me of my college days spent in the greenhouse above the Biology department grafting potato plants.  I think I would have gotten along very well with Professor Sprout and the students in Hufflepuff.