Ahhhhhh Silk

My, aren’t they pretty?

I LOVE silk! I love to wear it, I love to sew it, but I’ve never KNIT with it before. For some reason, though I was drawn to these.

These are some yarns that I got on my Montana trip. They are incredibly soft and have such a lovely sheen that I’m almost afraid to knit with them! If you’re not a maker you may not understand, but it’s that thing where something is very beautiful and has so many of the attributes that you enjoy you’re afraid to mar it in some way by altering it’s form. Afraid you’ll ruin it.

And besides – what would I make??

Hats – a possibility, but it would not be an especially warm hat as these are fingering weight yarns… But, since I have so little hair I could make some summery hats.

Mittens/gloves? Um… no. Probably not durable enough for that.

Socks? Probably not. They would feel wonderful but again, see above.

Sweater/top? At ~400 yds each not enough for anything like that. At least not to fit me! 🙂

Which leaves the shawl/scarf category. That’s what my Ravelry friends are suggesting. And it seems like at least one of these will wind up as a shawl, it’s just – how many shawls does a girl need? Of course, how many knits does anyone need (outside of socks – you can never have enough hand-knit socks)?

I suppose Hitchhiker would be a pretty one for the pink… But it calls for more yarn than is in that skein. Hmmmm. That’s usually my problem, though. I like big shawls that I can wrap around myself. I wear a shawl if I’m cold – not as a fashion statement. In fact I completely pass over pretty much ANY pattern that has ‘-ette’ at the end of the description! Shawlette? Give me a break! I couldn’t wrap most of those around my left arm!

I’ve already selected Skein of Geese for the blue one from Raven Ridge. It reminds me of the patterns that geese make as they fly though the autumn sky. I like that triangluar eyelet detail.

Then there’s the blue from Mountain Colors. That’s a bit heftier than the ones from Raven Ridge – those might be okay as house or bed socks. Three years ago I would never have said the words ‘Sock’ and ‘Silk’ in the same sentence and now I’m contemplating that very thing!!  But I have really tough toenails and, even though I keep them trimmed and filed the toes would be a major concern for me. (although I could do a turbo toe but, with the silk content I don’t know if it would be stretchy enough)

What should I knit with my silks? Or should I just pet them for a while and see what they say to me?

Good problems…. I like good problems.

 

The bright promise of new yarn

See those three pretties? Those, my friends are NEW YARN!

New yarn is like a new day – full of promise and excitement. Will it be soft on my hands as I knit? Will it work up into a lovely new garment? Will it be full of drama (not the good kind) as I wind it or tame as a goldfish (no – kittens and lambs are NOT tame, sorry)?

These are already destined for a project – a Drachenfels Shawl. It came as a kit from Craftsy. Ordered because Becky wants one and I thought I should test the pattern before I ‘go live’ with it for someone else.

Do I NEED a new project? Um… that would be a no. I have 8 projects currently on needles, four in hibernation and a further 44 in my Ravelry queue. So, no – I don’t need another project.

But… NEW YARN!

A Red Herring – or why I don’t like cables

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I have to admit it – I’m not a big fan of knitting cables. Don’t get me wrong – I love to look at them and I’d love to have an Aran sweater. But please don’t ask me to knit one!

Why, you might ask? When sweaters with cables and all manner of twisted goodness seem to be all the rage and the one thing most knitters aspire to?

I can sum it up in one word: fiddly. Cables are fiddly. Slip x stitches onto a cable needle, hold in back (or front), then knit x stitches from left needle. Then knit the x stitches from the cable needle – then do it all over again. Fiddly.

Give me lace, lots of lace under starry skies above…..

Well – I do like knitting lace. BUT – not Granny lace. I like it chunky – like this one:

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Pardon the dog hair… that was Max. I worked on this when I was dog-sitting.

I also like this:

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I love this one but all those Vikel Braids like to have killed me!

Or the one at the top – which I don’t really consider lace – just a simple net pattern. But it works, y’know.

I even knit lace on the legs of my socks.

Funny thing is – I didn’t realize it was ‘lace’ when I did the first one. I had made the foot of the toe-up sock and was looking for something a little more interesting to do for the leg than a rib and I just picked out a pattern from one of my books. Then, when I took it to my next sock class my instructor smiled and said something to the effect of ‘oh, you’re a lace knitter…’ and the appellation kind of stuck. To me its just a series of knits, yarn overs and purls – nothing complicated. I guess that’s why I don’t fear it. Especially once I learned to read knitting charts, then it all fell into place for me.

Also when my instructor ‘gave me permission’ to use markers in between the pattern repeats – can I tell you that was an ah-ha moment??  At first I thought it was a sign of weakness to have to mark your pattern repeats. The sure sign of a novice. Now I don’t care! Look askance at me if you will, but I love my markers. More than once they’ve saved me when I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

So, when I saw that pattern at the top – called Herring by Lori Versaci, and saw the bright red Malabrigo worsted in my stash it was, for me a match made in heaven. Chunky fishnet lace set off by a ribbed border – fun! And no need for markers this time because it’s just a two-stitch repeat!

And not a single cable in sight…..

I’m home for the holidays… but nobody else is

Its been a very bizarre holiday season for me. and it’s getting stranger by the day.

In November for Thanksgiving I went to Missoula, MT to visit Becky. We had a grand time, even though the elevation and dryness challenged my asthma in ways I didn’t know were possible. That and the fact that the lives on the THIRD FLOOR… 🙂 But it was all good and, in the end I truly hated to leave her.

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This is us at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. I’m a Park fan and I visit them whenever time and travel allow.

But, imagine my disappointment when, on a Face Time call with the family in Wisconsin I found that they were having their Christmas present opening on Thanksgiving Day. I have to say I was mighty bummed. I understand the reasons they decoded to do it, but I wish they would have told me. I could have sent my presents for the boys along with my brother and sister-in-law and I could have watched them open them over the phone. Not ideal, but that’s what you do when relatives are at long distance. You don’t just have the event and not tell them so that, when you see them opening their presents from Grandma and Grandpa you aren’t totally blind-sided.

Granted – I’m Great Auntie and, if I’m there or not the boys won’t remember, it’s just the consideration that I miss. It felt like slap in the face.

Okay – I said it and it’s off my chest…

But now Christmas Day is going to be weird, like I said. For some reason my brother decided he needed to go to Montana to spend the holiday with Becky. It’s her first Christmas out there and all. I get it. And that’s why they had the gift opening on Thanksgiving.

So that means that there’s no Christmas holiday this year. Oh, my sister-in-law is going up to see Nick and his family. She’s staying the whole four-day weekend, in fact. But she’d move in with them if given the chance. Honestly, I think she’d sleep in the basement if it meant she could see her grandsons every day. It’s like nobody else exists. And I secretly think that’s the reason my brother went to spend the holiday in Montana.

So, no dinner – I even offered to buy pizza but, no. No gift opening (I don’t buy them stuff – I give them money because, with two growing kids and a limited budget there are always things you need). No watching stupid holiday movies or TV Christmas specials. It’s just going to be Nick and I going to see the new Star Wars movie while Grandma plays with the boys.

Hence the gray toned photo. I don’t like this holiday season at the best of times, but at least I used to feel like I was part of something.

Not any more…

 

Crafting Small

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I finally have a little time for reflection after the craziness of my move and the push to get a working office and kitchen. Time to go through the rest of my boxes at leisure and sort, weed, organize and store a bit more thoughtfully. One thing that’s occurred to me was about my craft stash. Not yarn – that’s a completely different animal… But the other stuff.

Besides being a knittist and yarnie I also sew, bead, weave, paint and digitally scrapbook – and those are just the main ones! I also dabble in the occasional paper craft. All these activities has its own STUFF.

Sewing: sewing machine, serger, buttons, measuring implements, thread, needles (hand and machine), machine attachments, fabric, binding tapes, scissors…

Beading: beads (lots and LOTS of beads), beading wire, beading thread, tools (lots of different tools and all unique to beading), findings (if you’re making jewelry), bead looms

Painting: paints (yeah – lots of ’em), canvases, brushes, easel, paint knives, prep chemicals (don ‘t know what else to call them, gesso and that stuff)

Paper Crafting: I got rid of most of this (gave to my sister who does scrapbooks and cards) but I still have a few stamps and stamp pads, some paper

Digital Scrapbooking: scanner for the mountain of photos I have that are NOT digital, and said photos awaiting scanning.

So its time to pare down. Get rid. Donate.

I realized that I have 12 boxes of crafting stuff – not including yarn. That’s excessive – and compulsive. I like tools. I like gadgets. But nobody needs as much as I have.

I’m guilty of taking on STUFF from other people – like after my sister-in-law’s mother passed I somehow came into possession of a lot of her fabric, laces, buttons and basically stuff that nobody knew what to do with. This stuff needs to leave my place because I will never use it.

I’m guilty of buying a new thing when I couldn’t find the original thing (totally due to poor organization). Or buying a new thing because the old thing was somehow lacking – it was bent (although still usable), it was stained (yeah, like that’s going to affect how a tape measure measures), it’s paint had worn off (although the etched surface markings were still visible)… you get the idea.

Well, now I have a very different space. It’s large, yes, but I don’t want to have it swimming in stuff I don’t need/will not use. I want to be able to find what I want quickly – without having to dig through a lot of bins and deep storage pieces (like Yule/holiday decoration deep).

I have a large work table under which will nicely fit 3 IKEA carts. These will contain the sum total of my craft supplies (maybe 2 after I weed it down) with the exception of fabric, which will still need a bin. The aim is to tame!

From this:

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some of my craft stash

To something more akin to this (this is still a WIP, but it really is much better than it was. I also had a lot of duplicate spices!):

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spice and tool organization for a kitchen with wonky cabinets and drawers

Untangling

tangled yarn

Neon Birdsnest

This is how I’ve been feeling lately. Tangled. All mixed up. Confused. Also torn apart and depressed and unmotivated.

Why? Lots of reasons. I’m moving – the day is coming up faster and faster – yet I feel no motivation to pack my stuff. Not sure exactly why that is. Am I excited about the new place or not? Am I worried about paying the rent? Yeah, a little, but I know I can afford it so why am I so ambivalent? Why am I finding so stinking hard to pack? Maybe because I’m doing it all alone?

Like I will be pretty much everything from here on out?

That’s the reason for the depression, I know. One of the by-products of working from home is that I’m alone. I don’t go to an office, don’t interact with people. I’m here in my house with my cats – end of story. I’m turning into my mom – I no longer know how to make friends or where to do to do it.

And my best friend is leaving. The one person that I share so many likes and loves: we like (mostly) the same movies, she loves musicals, we like the same foods and we’re both willing to experiment. We love the outdoors – although is different ways, but we can relate to each others differences. We speak the same language on many different levels.

And she’s leaving the state.

And that makes me sad.

So sad…..

Time to catch up again…

Wow – it seems I can’t get up to date and stay there! It’s been furious these past few months with lots of knitting and activity, and very little time spent just reflecting and writing. Because that’s what this is for me – it’s my time for reflection.

So, on to the updates!

Alexander

My new Grand Nephew

This adorable little guy is my new grand (great?) nephew, Alexander William. Born on March 24th at around 9pm. His poor mommy had a tough time and he had to finally be taken by C Section, but everyone is doing just great now. He was just a couple days after what would have been Mom’s 97th birthday. She would have gone nuts over him! As it is his Gramma Cheryl is the conductor on the baby crush train.

There was a lot of this:

two color ribbing brioche

Learning new techniques – on the left is 2 color corrugated ribbing and on the left is brioche stitch. They are both for fun KAL’s (knit along) on Ravelry. Those can be really fun groups with a lot of people working the same pattern so there’s lots of support and encouragement.

By far my favorite group is Friends of Knitting Sarah. The absolute best, most supportive group of knitters short of my local yarn shop. They are funny, give great advice and share their experiments and success with gusto.

Undulation scarf

A tiny bit of designing. This is a scarf that I call Undulations. I had the pretty yarn and saw the pattern as I was flipping through a stitch dictionary. I figured out the repeats, cast on some stitches and whipped a little scarf to wear with my blue suit.

And of course socks…

becky socks

and socks…

dragonfly socks

and socks…

tracey socks

and still more socks!

VBM socks

And now I’m moving – yet again!! As my friend Ken says – fun times! So I may not have a chance to catch up again until next month – after the move has been accomplished. But I hope you enjoy the photos and – if you can think good thoughts for me as I pack up again.

Sometimes I think I should just put my furniture on wheels…..

Ode to an FO

Watermelon Sock

I like finishing things – I really do. Like that adorable little thing in the photo there. Its a sock. Just a little shorty sock – ribbed cuff, afterthought heel (more on that later), top-down stockinette – nothing fancy. But, ya know what? It gave me great pleasure to finish that sock. Not because I was bored with it or that I had fallen out of love with the yarn – ohhh no. But because I like to finish things.

I’m the opposite of the people who start a thing then move on to the next before the first is quite done. The ‘oh I brought it this far’ syndrome that leaves a project not quite ready for prime time. I work with someone like that. This individual keeps saying ‘give me more projects’ and ‘how are they ever going to trust me if you don’t let me work on things’. So I let them work on something – I outline the parameters of the project then let go. When I get it back its alllllmost done – but the reports are not final or approved. And there is no process flowchart. The files are not named in any logical or repeatable manner. All of the program design is haphazard. In short – left for me to finish and present to the client.

Now, I realize that I’m the supervisor. Its my job to make sure that what goes out is correct to both internal and external clients. But, when I assign a project to someone who’s been crabbing for months about getting the client to trust them, to be able to work on projects for them only to have it not completed I get a little testy. Which is probably why I’m blowing off steam here in my blog rather than talking about knitting.

But why can’t there be an intersection between work and knitting? A knitting pattern flows from one step to the next, in a logical, defined manner to its conclusion. Sure, you can knit the pieces out of order – so what if I want to knit both sleeves of my sweater on one huge circular needle? Nobody cares. It’s pretty much the same for process. Once the process is defined, tested and installed you can run the steps out of order (well, some of them) if you so desire. There’s more than one way to reach a correct outcome. But the process, like a knitting pattern, needs to be written and tested first. All the way – start to finish – taking into account things like repeatability, end user experience (or lack thereof) and desired result with Quality Controls. Don’t sell me a poorly written knitting pattern and DO NOT give me a half-assed attempt at a client project.

Wow – that went fast!

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Seems like just a couple of months ago I jotted down some thoughts, now I look and BAM! It’s been months! No excuses really, except life. It was a full summer, then I moved and now I’ve finally set up my Mac – lots going on.

And I have no real thoughts or wisdom right now either. Except that its cold. Like really cold. Like COLD! And I think the tires on my car are flat because I don’t drive it more than once a week or so. And Moon keeps jumping up on my desk – he wants something, I just can’t figure out what it is.

And I’m going to be a great-aunt! Nick and Liz are having a baby boy.

And I have a LOT of yarn! 10 IKEA bins full plus 5 sweater bags… I so gotta stop buying yarn and start knitting it, ya think? I didn’t realize how much I had until I moved and put my yarn storage in the living room – wow. I thought time went fast – so does stash building! That feeds into my resolution – no more yarn until at least 3 of those 5 sweaters is done and I knock down at least 3 bins. Its going to be a challenge, yes – but I’m up for it. No more buying patterns either. I keep looking for ‘that perfect pattern’ for me, but how will I know one if I’ve only knit one sweater? I need to make a few more, so I know what looks good on me and how to alter a pattern to fit better. I joined a KAL on Ravelry – a sweater in the month of January – that should help. Plus its being run by the designer – I’ll be able to ask questions right away and get answers – that’s kind of exciting.

And I need to shut the computer down and have dinner… toodles!

inspiration comes from everywhere

I was very happy with my sock pattern. I know it…well. In fact I pretty nearly have it memorized. Its a toe up pattern that I work on one circular needle, Magic Loop style. Which is my absolute favorite method for knitting socks. I can do 2 circs, but I hate the dangling ends. I can also do DPN’s (Double Pointed Needles for the uninitiated). I just prefer Magic Loop. With it I can….

But I digress…

As I was saying its a great pattern – written by Jennifer Donze, a Master Knitter and one of the instructors at Cream City Yarns. It’s also a personalized pattern and Jennifer includes all of the instructions for calculating a perfect, custom fit sock. You’ll find it on Ravelry: Custom Toe Up Sock by J Donze Knits. I’ve made several pairs of socks using this pattern. Normally I knit the foot and heel in stockinette then go wild on the leg. I use a lot of different patterns on the leg – usually from another book of mine: Socks A la Carte 2 – Toes Up. Its a very nice book that lets you pick and chose what toe, what heel and what leg you want. I knit one complete sock from this book and now really just use it for the cuffs and leg.

But I was reading my news feeds a while back and came across a review of a pattern from one of the books I own: The Knitter’s Book of Socks. She’s a blogger that I really like, so I figured I could do worse. If you want to read her review it’s here: Knitting Sarah – Turbo Toes.

Now, I’ve read The Knitter’s Book of Socks (how pathetic am I? I read knitting books…) but have never tried any of the patterns. I like my toe-up pattern. I know it and it has served me well but… but… Linen stitch toe and heel? What the heck is linen stitch? I have very rough toes and heels – anything I can do to make them stronger… And… AND – this is a toe up pattern! I’m not the only one who like her socks toes up! It was written for 2 circs, but that’s easy enough to adapt to Magic Loop. And I have that nice skein of Sheepish BFL in that nice orange…

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I almost felt like I was betraying a friend – Sheepish is Jennifer’s hand dyed yarn. But I reasoned that, if I was going to make socks in this pretty color and have them really last I should do everything I can to make a good sock, right?

So I made a copy of the pattern – I do this because I don’t like writing and highlighting in my books – highlighted my size every place there was a difference in count and cast on.

Sarah was right – the pattern is addictive. I couldn’t stop. One Friday I even did an all nighter -falling into bed at 5am with numb hands.

Now there was a client visit and a flight to Cleveland and back in there too. I worried about security taking away my Addi Sock Rockets, so I switched to a cheap pair of Knitter’s Pride Karbonz (I DO NOT recommend these – they have terrible joins). I knit happily away at that first sock until I realized, upon arrival in Cleveland that I needed my smaller needle – which was at home. That was all well and good because something was bothering me about that sock. It just didn’t look right.

I continued with it when I got home for a bit then it hit me – my linen stitch parts just weren’t right. I know the stitch isn’t especially stretchy – I got that from my swatch – but mine was all pulled in and crummy looking. So I frogged. All. The. Way. Back. I cast on again and this time I cheated and used a row counter to make certain that I didn’t get off count. That turned the tide – from there on my needles were singing. Sock one done:
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I’m much happier with this one. It looks like a real, live sock. Like something you would actually wear (and COULD wear) on your foot.

Now, I’d read this pattern when I read the book and it looked a bit over my head. I still consider myself a novice knitter, or maybe very early intermediate (like 4th grade…). I’d only really had 2 knitting classes – the first sock club and the Camp Hoodie. What business did I have knitting exotic patterns like this one?

And, if I hadn’t been following Sarah’s blog and saw her post about it I never would have. She gave me the inspiration to try something new and more than a little out of my comfort zone. Just like with the cowl I knit for the Ravellenic Games a while back – it was the little push I needed to try something different.

So, while I still love my basic toe-up sock pattern I feel ready now to creep out onto another limb. Maybe I’ll try those socks by Cat Bordhi next….