Blog Archives

Clearing Up

Happy New Year to you!  I hope that you had a wonderful break from your normal routines.  We sure did enjoy ours.  It was very full of baking, travel, and spending time with good friends.   Now that it is over, I can feel just how good it was to take a break from the everyday work of our regular lives.  We really needed that physical and mental break!

Also, now that I am not a crazy person who bakes every moment of every day, I have really enjoyed revisiting my other hobbies: quilting and knitting.  On the quilting front, I was able to get my charity quilt for do.good.stitches organized for machine quilting.  I’m doing simple straght-ish lines because my machine is really basic and doesn’t really do free motion quilting that well.

I do really love all the blocks that came in for this quilt.  I’ve got all the horizontal lines done and just need another afternoon or two to get the vertical ones done as well as the binding.  The only trouble is that I really need to do the quilting on the dining room table in order to be able to have enough space to move it around.  Unfortunately, the dining room is also the most used space of the house!  Well, maybe I can convince the boys to go somewhere else to work for a day or two if I give them enough chocolate!

This week, I also took an afternoon to take a hard look at all my knitting projects and my yarn.  I took out every work in progress and asked myself if I really liked the yarn and wanted the finished product.  After ripping out three projects, I was left with a few that I felt could be finished rather easily and quickly.  A couple of dedicated knitting evenings meant that I had a handful of things that needed a bath.

Clockwise from the top right are: Fraxinus from Ysolda’s 2016 club, Mareel from Knitworthy3, an 1898 hat that I gave to the husband for Christmas, a cowl that I made from a blanket strip from Blanket Statement, and in the middle is a really old Andean Chullo hat that just needed its crown finished.

I’m really happy with all of these, except for the Llama hat.  After blocking, it turned out too big for anyone.  I started that hat years ago and let’s just say that my stranded knitting skills have greatly improved since then and I am not happy with how uneven it looks.

My happiest finished object of the bunch has to be the cowl I made from the unfinished blanket strip.  Oh, how I love blankets, but Oh, how I hate to knit them!  I thought maybe a club knit along atmosphere would help me with that, but alas, though the spirit was willing, other projects were just more interesting.  As I was holding it in my hand, wondering if I should rip it out, the thought of turning it into a cowl suddenly came to me.  It was just the right length.  Eureka! Fifteen minutes later, I was sewing in the ends and giving it to my older son who expressed an interest in it.  I just love it when things like that happen.

With my Mareel shawl, I was able to use the new blocking pads and wires that the husband gave me recently.  They worked like a charm!  Blocking shawls is not always my favorite thing to do, so anything that makes it faster, more accurate, and easier is great in my book.  I especially like the fabric that has 1 inch grids that came with the blocking mats.  With that underneath the shawl, it was easy to make the points symmetric–something that is always challenging to do with a shawl.

Oh, and I almost forgot!  I did manage to finish a secret sweater project for the husband for Christmas.

I designed the sweater as I went along, but couldn’t really talk about it here because it was, you know, a surprise.  The most challenging part of the sweater was sewing in the zipper along a steeked opening.  I used a sewing machine, which has a tendency to push stitches along as it sews, so even though I basted in the zipper, I had to redo it to make the colorwork pattern line up properly.

Also, I am worried that the steek will start to unravel as the garment is worn, even though I reinforced it with two lines of sewing–time will tell!

Overall, I am happy with it, though there are a couple of things I would do differently if I were to do it over again.  The collar does not quite come up far enough and it is also a bit tight when fully zipped.  He’ll just have to go for a casual, partially zipped look when he wears it!  The important part is that it fits, which is always a worry when one is knitting a surprise sweater.

What about you?  Have you been doing any organizing or clearing out?  I’ve got some more to do in my sewing room, but that will have to wait for another day.  I’ve got a little startitis to work through.

Ready to Go

Today is the first day in over a month that feels normal to me. It’s not necessarily a good day or a bad day. I am not getting any more or less done than usual, but there is a slight shift in my brain that feels better somehow. It’s a nice feeling to be here and feel like I have some coherent thoughts to share with you. I guess my mind has been feeling overwhelmed and scattered the past few months, which has made blogging difficult. This new clarity of mind may not last long, but I will take advantage of it while I can!

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I can show you some things I have finished in the last few weeks. First up is this cashmere shawl from the Bare Naked Knitspot Club. This shawl is so soft and light, it is like wearing a cloud of warmth. I made a sort of medium size and now wish I had made the biggest size because I just want more of that soft warmness around my neck.

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Next, I have been quite taken with a new series of patterns by Ysolda Teague called KnitWorthy. For just a few dollars, this is a collection of 8 patterns to make as gifts for yourself or for those whom you think are worth of knits. A new pattern comes out every other Monday. It started back in September, and there will be new patterns until the first week of December. Anyway, the first one is this hat, which was fun to make and quick, too.

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And the second one is a shawl that starts out like this. There are cables and short rows and later I will have to pick up stitches to knit the body. I do love a project with lots of variety and different techniques.

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As of today, there are four patterns and I have to say, I love each one so far, which is really rare for me. The fact that I am interested and engaged in these more complicated projects is also a good sign to me that my foggy brain is clearing. It’s just in time, too, because the New York Sheep and Wool festival, aka Rhinebeck, is this weekend and I will need all my mental faculties present to enjoy that!

It’s Coming

For many, this winter has seemed interminable and never ending. We have had more than the usual number of winter storms and some unusually cold days for our area. Many of my friends and acquaintances and even random people at the store have expressed some despair over this cold, wet winter we have been having. For me, this winter has been one of the most pleasant in recent memory. I always feel that cold weather without snow is a waste and I have not been disappointed in that respect this year.

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We’ve had multiple snowfalls and a couple of ice storms, which turn the world into some sort of glassy wonderland. If I am going to be stuck in the house because of the temperature, I like to be able to look at some beauty outside as well.

Despite all of this, I can sense that Spring is coming. The days are getting longer and the sun seems a tad more intense. I am thinking more about spring colors than deep, rich tones or grey shades.

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The other day, I made these cute little pin cushions using this tutorial (oops looks like their server is down. I will add the linky later). Isn’t this a fun little project to get into the mood of spring?

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In the process of making these, I used these little clover clips for the first time. Where have these been all my life? I love them! So much easier to use and lays flatter than pins. I think I need about a hundred more! Seriously, if you sew or knit, you need some of these. They come in different sizes and I plan to get them all.

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I’m also finished with my hoegaarden cowl, which goes with the hoegaarden mitts and hat that I made last year. Whoa.

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This is my first ever completed set of accessories that all match. Usually, I look a bit like that lady who can’t find matching sets of anything, so she goes out with five accessory items that all clash, but at least she is warm.

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Now, I will look like I have it all together, which I SO totally don’t, but that’s ok, because we all know that looks are deceiving, right?

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And now, it looks like I will have to cast on something new. And pink. Because spring, it’s coming.

Progress at Last

It’s been ages since I’ve posted any knitting progress, mostly because things have been so busy with other things that I haven’t had much time for knitting. That, and I was bouncing back and forth between projects because there wasn’t one that seemed especially compelling. The great thing is that all those rows here and there do eventually add up and become measurable progress, except for that sweater that had to be ripped out entirely, but we won’t speak of that now. Right now we will focus on progress.

All my pieces for blumchen are finished and there’s just some seaming to do.

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I am a little apprehensive about this one. The pieces stretched more than I was expecting after their bath and I think it may be too long for me now. I’ll get back to you on how that turns out.

The mystery shawl knit along is also finished. This one was a weird one to block. I redid it three times and then finally had to embrace the ruffley edge and declare it good enough. It’s my first ruffley edged anything, so it took awhile to get use to the idea, but I think I like it now.

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The shawl looked like a pile of scrunched up yarn before it was blocked, so I am pleased with how it blocked out, especially since the yarn was so thin in spots that I was worried it would break while blocking. There were no disasters (that have been discovered yet), so I am pretty happy all around with the results.

Now, I am one to the next series of projects by a new to me designer, Romi. She’s just started a series of patterns called the Great Oddments Knitdown, which is a collection of 15-18 projects using about one ball of yarn each. I am hoping it will help me use up some leftover yarn balls and bits from past projects that have multiplied around the house. Plus, it might give me some instant gratification in my pile of long-term knitting projects.

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So far, I am off to a good start. The first pattern came out on Friday and I was finished with the knitting before the weekend was over. All it needs now is a little blocking and a big pom-pom. I also managed to finish an old multicolored quincy hat that had been on the needles for a couple of years and the first of a pair of socks. It was a productive knitting weekend for me. I am looking forward to a nice long holiday weekend full of knitting progress. How about you?

Stitchy Business

Here are some recently finished knitted objects. One is a fair isle hat/cap that I stuffed into the husband’s stocking. I knit it in the week up to Christmas while we were watching TV. We had a little scuffle over it when I was done because he wanted it, and, even though I made it for him, I did not want him to know I made it for him, so I had to pretend it was for me. Somehow, I do not think he was fooled.

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He was so pleased with the hat that he took me to the yarn store later on in the week to make sure I knew he was in support of my obsession hobby. Isn’t he great?

After that, I cast on for a hat that was supposed to be one to match a pair of mittens that I had made a few years ago. Unfortunately, something happened to my calculations or maybe it was the post holiday exhaustion that addled my brain. It did not turn out to be quite the right size for me.

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But, it is just right for my younger son. I am not sure he deserves to own this hat since he managed to lose the last one I knit for him, but he is the only one in the house that can wear it.

I also managed to finish a pair of socks that have been on the needles for over a year. This pair of socks is riddled with mistakes. I knit the first sock with some decreases in the leg that turned out to be in the wrong place when I was done. They are also a tad too short for me. You can see the decreases in this picture. I also had a bit of trouble with the heel, which required using two strands at a time. I kept getting them mixed up and tangled. Ugh.

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Discouraged, I vowed to rip the whole thing out, but first, I decided to knit the sock again and reknit that first one later. This time, I followed the directions, but I got so bored and irritated with the project that I put it away in favor of other, more gratifying projects. I managed to finish this sock last week while I was in my “lazy” knitting mode.

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It fits much better. That’s when I decided to be done. No way did I want to knit this sock pattern a Third time. Nope. This pair of socks is just going to remain imperfect, slightly ill fitting, and non matchy. Like I tell my kids with their school work: sometimes it’s better that it is done than perfectly done. Sometimes, you just need to move on, you know?

That’s just what I did. Now, I have another pair of socks on the needles. This time, there is no fancy pattern; just plain, plain knitting.

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This is how much I got done while watching the first half of The Hobbit. Movie theater knitting can be tough. It’s dark in there and, if it is an action movie, it is difficult to keep track of things. Halfway through the movie, I thought I dropped a stitch, and there was no way I could take my attention away from the movie, so I put it away. Otherwise, I would have been able to do a couple more inches.

Lastly, I have been chugging my way slowly through my sprossling sweater. So far, I have two sleeves, a back, and part of one of the fronts.

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Like the movie socks, I would be a couple of inches farther along on the front if I had not made a mistake while my attention was diverted by Downton Abbey last night. Oh well. The net progress was positive, so I’ll not complain too much. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish this sweater before the series is done. That’s my unofficial goal, anyway. Of course, I could always get distracted by some other project.

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