Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Simply Playing Podcast - Episode 1 - Pleased to Meet Me


Hi!  This is Ann or simplyplaying on Ravelry and Instagram.  Welcome to my new knitting podcast called Simply Playing.  I'm so glad your could make it! 

Playing with Sticks and String (or current knitting projects):

Perfectly Plain Vest by Julie Gaddy from the book Guy Knits the best of Knitter's Magazine.
Using Valley Yarns Stockbridge in the Light Gray colorway.
Knitter's Pride Interchangeable Wood Needles in US 4/3.5 mm and US 6/4 mm.

Felted Tote Bag by Yvonne Eyer (not sure where this pattern is available as I received it as a class handout)
Using Cascade 220 worsted in Navy, Straw, Lemon and Natural colorways.
Clover US 13/9mm bamboo fixed 32 inch circulars.
Clover US 11/8mm bamboo 9 inch straight needles.

Show and Tell (or finished objects):

I mention The Knit Girllls podcast and upcoming Stash Dash.

Snapdragon Tam by Ysolda Teague
Using Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Candlewick colorway.
Chiaogoo US 4/3.5mm and US 6/4mm 16 inch circular needles.

Forgotten Toys (or languishing works in progress):

Toe Up socks using a 3 x 1 rib over 64 stitches.
Afterthought Heel Socks pattern by Laura Linneman.
Using TurtlePurl's Turtletoes in the OM colorway.
Chiaogoo US 1/2.25mm 16inch circular needles (2 circular sock method)
Boxy Bag project bag by ZigZag Stitches.

The Toy Box (or a visit into the stash):

Clara Yarn CVM/Romeldale 2.0 fingering weight 2 ply yarn.
In Aborio (cream) and Rye (oatmeal) colorways
About 425 yards/388 meters per 100 gram skein.

I hope to knit Joji Locatelli's Baby Garter Stitch Kimono, Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap by Gro and some as yet to be determined baby booties for my immediate neighbor who is having a baby in October of this year.

Ooo SHINY! (or yarn and pattern distractions)

First off WEBS anniversary sale.  Need I say more?  Yikes!

Liberty Blanket by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines book.  It uses Berroco Ultra Alpaca worsted weight yarn which is in WEBS anniversary sale for such a good price.  I would have used the Indigo Mix (navy blue) and Winter White (cream) colorways.  Sigh.  Knitting a blanket in the summer - who am I kidding!

Qwist Mitts by Melanie Berg - vickyness' version of gloves!  Very dreamy.
I'd use Malabrigo Finito in the Anal colorway exclusive to Amazing Threads in Maplegrove MN which I actually have in stash.  (I don't know if "exclusive" means they are the only ones in Minnesota or in the US)

Bye! Bye!

I hope you enjoyed watching me work my way through my knitting past, present and future.  If there is anything you'd like to hear about let me know at annATsimplyplayingDOTnet.  Thanks so much for taking some time out of your day to spend with me.  I greatly appreciate it.  Bye! Bye!

Note:  Title Please to Meet Me is in reference to a Replacements album - an awesome Minnesota band from the 1980's.  Yes, I've just dated myself ;)  Give them a listen and rock out a little.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Long Hiatus

Knitting myself a new felted purse.  Can you tell I have a navy blue crush?

Hello.  I am back from a long unexpected hiatus.  You see sometime back in February during the cold Minnesota winter I injured myself while shoveling snow.  At least I believe that's what started the bout of tendonitis I am currently experiencing in my forearms.  I was shoveling our driveway when my arms shouted "enough already!".  Figuring I probably overexerted myself I stopped shoveling,  but I didn't give much thought to my arms other then noting they would probably take a few days to recover.

Well, my arms didn't get any better.  I managed to deny anything was really wrong for weeks until both my arms got worse to the point where they hurt badly while I was knitting.  Again, still thinking this was simply a case of overuse I took a week off from knitting anything at all.  Doesn't sound hard right?  Well frankly, I was in tears by the end of the week and my arms still hurt.  All the advice I got both professional, internet and friendly was to not use my arms to give them time to heal.  And I tried again not knitting or doing anything non essential with the result being more tears and still aching arms.  

Since I have pretty serious depression I go to counseling regularly as part of my management program.  As this not knitting regime was affecting my mood so significantly it came up during session. I not only found out my counselor also has tendonitis in her forearms, but she has an active way of managing it with massage therapy.  She promptly gave me the name of her massage therapist who I rapidly made an appointment to go see.  

My visit was very beneficial.  The therapist agreed it was a pretty classic case of tendonitis and proceeded to give my arms a massage.  This was not a pleasant relaxing massage.  On the contrary, it was rather a painful experience.  But after a few days of feeling very sore I started feeling notably better to the point where I could knit again.  Not for very long at first, but with each subsequent visit to the masseuse my knitting is feeling better and better.  It has been such a relief I tell you.  I was starting to wonder there what the heck I was going to do with my time if I didn't knit.

I'm not back up to my regular knitting speed/endurance yet, but at least now I can feel the improvement happening.  Which has me back to doing some planning (Stash Dash anyone?) and now blogging as well.  I'll catch you all up on everything next post.  

Have a great week everyone! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

May The Force be With You

Being a Star Wars fan since the original movie was released in the 1970's I simply had to knit The Force Awakens Hat pattern by Mrs. Luedeke when it popped up on Ravelry.  It's a free pattern, but I would have paid for it.  It's a fair isle stranded knit hat with a band of Empire Tie fighters, a band of wording (which I left off as my husband didn't care for it) and a band of crossed light sabers and Storm Trooper helmets.  There was also some fair isle patterning in between the motif bands which I left out or replaced.   You can see my mods and notes here.  It's a fast knit which I found very enjoyable.  My husband loved it and has seriously been wearing it ever since - even inside the house (hmm, maybe I should turn up the heat?)  He has a Star Wars buddy a work who oddly is not another computer geek like himself, but a woman in the HR department (now, that might seem a bit sexist of me, but really the odds are clearly in the computer geek sector don't you think?)  Anyway, she flipped when she saw the hat, and since it's a fun fast knit I told her I'd make her one too.  She did give my son an R2-D2 kitchen timer after all ;)  So, the gray version is my hubbies and the blue in progress one is for his Star Wars buddy.  Now, my son Sam wants one too to match his dad.  Good thing I like the pattern huh?

As for books, I'm on to reading book two of the Percy Jackson series The Sea of Monsters to my son.  We're really enjoying it thus far.  This time around instead of stopping a World War Percy must save Camp Half Blood, the only spot on earth safe for the half blood children of the gods.  No small task.  This week I'm even squeezing in some time for my own reading and since my interests are turning towards Minimalism that's exactly what I'm reading about.  Minimalism, live a meaningful life by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  I like parts of it and not others.  To risk sounding sexist again it's a little bit single male in tone, but they are guys without wives or kids so what do I expect? Actually, I'm noticing a lot of minimalists seem to be men.  Not sure why, but now I'm on the look out for some Minimalism books by women.  If you know good one leave the title in the comments would ya?  Thanks and I hope you're all having a great week!

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Wee Break

I needed a break from my Banded Turtleneck as the sleeves are giving me trouble and thus annoying me to no end.  So, I turned to my bin of WIPs and picked out one I thought I could actually complete in a short time and came up with the above Arika cowl by Jane Richmond.  It's very much like wearing a poncho without all the bulk.  There are two yarn strands used to "create" a bulky weight yarn in my version as I had no bulky yarn that the pattern calls for when beginning this project.  The first strand is Flax Down by Purl Soho which consists of Alpaca, Merino and Linen fibers and is so light and s-o-f-t.  The second strand is Tilli Tomas's Raw Silk 100% silk sport weight yarn. The effect of the two shades of yellow I find very pleasing as it creates more depth of texture.  Tying on all the fringe was fun and it does go all the way around the back in case you were wondering.  A very satisfying knitting project, but oddly too fast as I am not ready to go back to my sweater just yet.  Maybe it's time to go back to the WIP pile or cast on something new?

As for reading my son and I are still enjoying The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan.  It's the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series and it really does hook you in as a first book should.  I'm hoping to finish reading it today to find out who was the instigator behind it all.  As for adult reading, I have been reading mainly on lots of blogs/websites lots about Minimalism.  We are wanting to downsize to a smaller home and as I go along in the process of shedding possessions I need some inspiration to keep me going.  Theses guys are my favorite.  I'm writing about our process to live better with less on my other blog called Small Simple Dreams.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Turtleneck With a Capital "T"

The past few days have me cruising along on my Banded Turtleneck sweater by Kathy Merrick.  And, when I say turtleneck I mean TURTLENECK!  Wow, did it come out big!  Even when I made it a whole two inches shorter than specified in the pattern.  What do you think?  Is it too much?  I'll definitely be warm wearing it and with the sub zero Fahrenheit temps we've been having in Minnesota I better hurry up and finish it.  The body and neck are completed and I only have the arms left to knit.  Will see how it goes, but so far it's slow as increasing while keeping in pattern I find a bit difficult. 

I noticed something while knitting the arms that I find dismaying and humorous at the same time.  Look at the above swatch and see if you can see it.  In the first row of blue there are squares of the oatmeal colored yarn and on the top blue band there are dashes.  Now, the first is correct and the second is not.  So, which row style did I knit the whole sweater in so far?  The dashes of course!  Yup, I just glazed over that row in the chart over and over and over again.  There is really nothing wrong with changing the pattern, but I do prefer the look of the squares to the dashes. With so much already completed though, the dashes with continue on the arms as well.

My son and I finished the Blackwell Pages' last book Thor's Serpents by K.L. Armstrong and have moved on from the Norse Gods too reading about the Greek Gods in the hugely popular Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan.  We are on book 1 The Lightning Thief and enjoying it thus far.  It's a bit sillier, faster paced and more humorous than the Blackwell series which I think I preferred, but it's a bit too early to judge.  I gave my son the DVD of the movie based on this book as a treat to watch after we finish reading the book.  What books are you reading now?

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along

Monday, January 4, 2016

Endings and New Beginnings

Ringing in the new year with a new knitting project!  Banded Turtleneck by Kathy Merrick from Vogue Knitting Magazine Fall 2010.  Using Jamieson's Shetland Aran and Clara Yarn Shetland 1.0 yarn and loving it!

This time of year has many of us acessing of how the previous year went and how the new year will move forward.  Which got me thinking I'd do a little recap here on my knitting in 2015 while sharing my vision for future knitting in 2016.

Year of 2015

Knitting Projects - 42
Yards Knitted - 19,734
Yards Spun - 1564
Ending Stash Yardage - 27,566

It was quite the bonny year for finishing knitting projects.  The Knit Girllls Stash Dash really motivated me to finish/fix a couple of my husbands' vests while also getting a lot of my gift knitting done for Christmas.  Stash Dash 2015 ran from the middle of May until the middle of August.  I completed 19 projects during that time.  It was a fun challenge, although I didn't get a lot of gardening and house projects done last summer since I was pretty much solely focused on knitting.  That really was the only downside.  

I toyed with not buying yarn and didn't do too well at that, but I did do a lot of yarn stash assessment.  After attending this retreat run by Stephanie Pearl - McPhee (I know I keep mentioning it, but it was such a game changing event for me) I learned a lot more about yarn, and figured out what qualities are most important to me.  My number 1 quality I want my yarn to possess is durability as I really want what I knit to have a long life.  Now, lots of things factor in durability, twist, strength of fiber, length of fiber etc. etc.  But basically yarn marked "wool" and not a specific brand of wool such as "merino" are usually more durable as they are a mix of many wool fibers.  Shetland and other long wool breeds are also more durable and less likely to pill as the fiber has more twists per staple length than a short hair cashmere would.  So, I really looked at my stash and sold off what wasn't durable to my standards and added in more yarn that was, namely a lot of Shetland found it's way into my stash.  I'm feeling a lot more content with what I have and since softer less durable yarns are what is popular now their siren call isn't affecting me as it once would have. 

Year of 2016

My main goal for this coming year is to be more mindful.  More mindful of what pattern I am knitting, what yarn I am using, and the when and during time that I am knitting.  Sometimes I switch to auto pilot or get too caught up in what is coming next to really enjoy the current moment.  So, I'm going to slow down and focus more on quality versus quantity this year.
My project goals for the year 2016 are to knit another sweater for my mom, a vest for my husband, and 2 sweaters for me.  Anything more will be grand, but I'm not going to plan so extensively this year as I feel it pushes me along at too fast a pace.

My stash goals for the year 2016 are to make it smaller.  That's why I thought I'd keep track of yards in the stash which I can track through my stash page on Ravelry.  I have all of the yarn for the above projects so I don't need to purchase more, but I won't come down on myself if I do add in a few skeins.  Knowing myself as I do, I think another idea to help me not purchase more yarn is to not go to any festivals this year.  I get wrapped up in the moment and can't help buying.  And really, I still have un-knit yarn from the last few festivals I went to last year.  So, a year off seems prudent as I am the type of knitter that when I have too mush stash gets overwhelmed and bogged down.  I like some stash, but too large a stash and guilt overtakes the fun.

I have no spinning goals for the coming year as I haven't really been in the mood to spin for a while now.  Thus, I'll just wait and see how the year pans out.

General goals for the year are to get more home improvement projects completed, focus more on my son's homeschooling and focus more on doing things together as a family.  I'm really looking forward to the year ahead of me and I hope you are too.  

Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2016!

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Finishes and Frogging

I had a swarm of finished objects here at the end of December.  Most were gifts for Christmas and one was a just languishing project. The gift knitting was not coming along as I wanted it too, but I did rally managing to put aside my Fair Isle Vest for the time being.  First up were the two scarfs for my friend Anna's friends, who have now become my friends (don't you love it when that happens?)  The one was a lattice design using a thick aran weight yarn, the other was simply textured in a luxurious angora/silk yarn.  When I finished those two knits I quickly wrapped them posting them just in time for Christmas.  Phew!  Then comes my biggest accomplishment - I finished my mothers' cardigan sweater.  Wow, I just love how it came out.  The best part is the colorwork was much looser this time around (I knit this same sweater for her 2 years ago and my stranded knitting came out pretty tight) so it was a breeze to block into shape.  The collar lays down much better too on this version, as I made a few discrete decreases in the last couple rows.  It is a touch big on her, but she really loves it and that's the main point.  

After that project I whizzed through making some felted slippers for my son.  He asked for them way back in September so I'm a bit late getting to them, but now they are done.  They are Minecraft themed after a famous Youtuber iBallisticsquid who my son watches.  His Minecraft character is a squid and this is what the face looks like.  You see my son already has the same size feet as I do (US sized 8 1/2 Women's) at the mere age of 9 so the "fun" slippers for children don't fit him anymore.  And being only nine he of course wants fun slippers. Thankfully they were a hit.

My last completed object is a pillow of a chicken for myself.  It's the Oluffa doorstop by Lucinda Guy.  I have no use for a doorstop, or a pillow either for that matter, but I adored this pattern the moment I saw it.  It was my Christmas Day knitting and I finished her in just a few days.  We're still thinking up a name for her - any ideas?  The only tricky thing is there are some very long floats, but I did a bit of duplicate stitch in some areas to get around that.  All in all it's a very fun knit with embroidery added and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  

I was hoping to finish my White Russian sweater by Thea Coleman as it was already about 1/2 done, but sadly I frogged it instead of finishing it.  The sleeves were really, really big and I tried to fix them twice, but decided it is ultimately a flawed design for my body shape and desired fit.  I have a large bust, but average sized arms and with a top down raglan the only way to enlarge the bust is to enlarge the sleeves as well.  After reading more about sweater designs I am going to go back to a bottom up pieced sweater with set in sleeves.  You really have lots more control over sizing when knitting all the pieces separately and seaming afterwards.  Thus I frogged it, re-skeined the yarn and gave the yarn another bath so it will be all smooth and fresh with which to knit another sweater.  This is the sweater I'm planning on with an added turtleneck.  It will be my first Custom Fit Amy Herzog sweater so I thought I'd keep it simple.  

Today I'm swatching for a fresh knit to start in January.  My first choice is a Fair Isle turtleneck sweater for myself and second is this cabled vest for my husband.  I really should do my husband's first as he did not receive a knitted gift this year for Christmas, but oh the colors for the first are fabulous!   What are you working on?  Planning for the new year or just winging it?  I'm loosely planning to knit a mix of new and old projects, taking my time and knitting only things that I really love.  Happy New Year everyone!

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.