Sunday, November 1, 2015

YOP Update - Mittens, Pokemon and Corn

This week has me getting no where fast on my Year Of Projects list, but my knitting inspiration is running at high speeds!  Yup, that's right, nothing has been started, knitted on or finished from my planned year list of knitting projects.  Instead, I am being inspired by Kate Davies Seven Skeins club yet again this week.  My friend's "Baffie" slipper socks are now completely done (blocked too!) and all ready for their trip to Washington DC. 

While they were drying on the blocking mat, I launched right into another of the club's patterns (they are available to everyone come January 1st on Ravelry) called Kokkeluri - a stranded pair of mittens with a flower design on the back and a twill pattern on the palm side.  The flower reminded me so much of sunflowers that I had to knit them in yellow.  Kate's 7 skeins of Buachaille yarn does not include a yellow so I used her natural grey called "Haar" for the background and purchased some Jamieson's Double Knitting in the Scotch Broom colorway for the flower line drawing.  My goal is for the mittens to match my Michele hat that I knit a while back whose matching double knitted mittens are languishing in my WIP basket.  The double knitting was just getting too tedious and boring to knit, but these Kokkeluri mittens - they just beckon you to keep going.  The only sad thing about these lovely mittens is they are a little short for my long fingers.  The pattern talks about blocking them "vigorously"by pulling them down over the tall end of a sock blocker, so I am putting my trust in those directions that in the end the mittens will emerge the right size for me.

Even though I'm getting better at stranded knitting through these projects, it still is a bit tiring for me.  Thus, for something completely different, I started on a project for my son.  He is back into loving Pokemon again and requested some Pokemon mittens.  Here is what I came up with using this hat pattern as a jumping off point.  They are pretty straightforward with changing colored yarn and a bit of duplicate stitching being the only oddities.  The mitten came out a bit long and slim looking, but it fit my son just fine (me too actually.  He's only 9 and our hands are almost the same size! Sigh.)  Now, I just need to make the second one, which I think will be pretty quick, so I can get back to finishing my own mittens.  Although, I do think I may surprise him with a matching hat as I have plenty of yarn left over.  We'll see...

This week I am leaving you with a photo from today of my husband and son who attended the Sever's Annual Corn Maze.  It is a humongous maze cut out of a corn field with a different design each year.  This year it was a firefighting truck.  It was their first time going and boy did they have fun!  Pig races, a large bouncy play area (think bouncy castle without the top and make it the size of a baseball field), zip lines, giant slide, petting zoo, you name it. They also have a corn pit you can dig, play or in my son's case bury yourself in.  Yup, my guess is this is on the Fall "to do" list for next year.

If you want to visit the other Year of Projects, or YOP for short, participants you can head on over to Ravelry and find them here.  Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dark Days = More Knitting Time!

The days are getting darker here and with daylight savings time beginning this weekend it'll be dark by 5:30 pm each night.  In December it is dark by 4:00 pm.  And while this bums me out a bit, it is the best time for knitting and boy am I back into my knitting!  This week I finished the Kate Davies Cochal cowl to match my Baa-ble hat and mittens.  I modified the length to only 10 inches high (was supposed to be 15), to keep it from covering up my whole face.  It's circumference is only 21 inches so it is a snug cowl.  There is one blue contrast row of honeycomb cells where I used that scant 3 grams of Jamieson's Shetland Heather Aran yarn I had leftover from the Baa-ble mittens to help tie it in to the other pieces.  Now, I'm all set for the cold and hopefully some good sledding when we get snow.  

The next knitting project I'm tackling is another pattern by Kate Davies from her Seven Skeins Club called Buachaille Baffies.  Basically, they are what I'd call slipper socks.  They are stranded knit in two colors and while I plan to make another pair in the Buachaille yarn they are designed for, this pair I knit in an angora gray yarn and a black merino wool.  I wanted to make them extra warm (angora is 7 times warmer than wool as it's a hollow core fiber) as they are meant for a very good friend of mine who is going into the hospital for major back surgery.  I thought they'd keep her feet nice and toasty while she's in the hospital and home recovering.  I don't know what it is about hospitals but I always find them to be cold places.  

She lives in Washington DC and I will be flying out to help her during her recovery for about a week.  She's single and very independent, but I convinced her she will need help as they don't completely know what they are going to find that is causing her so much pain.  When I told my son I would be gone for a week and that his dad would be home with him (we homeschool so Dan has to take vacation time to cover for me) he got this huge smile on his face which he then quickly tried to hide and said "That's too bad Anna doesn't feel well.  I hope she feels better soon."  Uh, huh.  What was really going on in that little brain of his is PARTY with DAD!!!!  It will be Mac 'n Cheese, computer gaming and guy fun for a whole week.  I feel no guilt in leaving them.

I will be sad though to miss our story time each day as we are currently reading a great book series called The Blackwell Pages.  The first book was Loki's Wolves and the second, which is the one we are currently half way through, is Odin's Ravens and the last is Thor's Serpent.  They are written by Kelley Armstrong and as you can probably guess by the titles they are based on Norse Mythology.  My son really likes the Norse Myths and of course young kids being descendants from the Gods who have to save the world from Ragnarok - what could be better?  Or, as my son would say "It's so epic Mama!"  They are indeed. I like them too because of the myth history as well as that there are both strong girl and boy characters who need each other to succeed.  Which I feel is true in real life as well.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

YOP Update - Inspiration Strikes!

In last week's post I was rather down and out and had been for quite a while, but oddly enough soon there after a turn around occurred.  I cast on for yet another project (I think my current WIP count is 14 - yikes!) trying to bring back a spark of excitement to my knitting.  This has been my tactic all month, but this particular time it actually worked! Yes, inspiration has struck!  I started on the ever popular Baa-ble hat pattern which Donna Smith wrote for Shetland Wool Week 2015.  I loved it the moment I saw it, but I didn't really need another hat thus I let the pattern languish in my favorites section on Ravelry.  Then, early this Autumn I realized I had two of the four colors of Jamieson's Shetland Heather Aran I needed and on a quick search through Ravelry stashes I found the other two colors.  I purchased them thinking it will be a fun project to start someday, maybe after Christmas. 

Now, I'm not sure why I pulled out this pattern and started, but I am so glad that I did.  It was as if the hat knit itself it went by so fast.  After finishing the hat I really wanted mittens (I love matchy matchy sets of things) and upon weighing out my leftover yarn I thought I'd have enough.  So, I plunged right into to knitting mittens following Donna's chart and making up the general pattern as I went along.  The coolest thing happened - I had just, and I mean just enough yarn to finish with a scant 3 grams of blue Highland Mist leftover.  I simply love it when that happens!

I now have this lovely new hat and mitten set and all that is lacking is a scarf or cowl.  Well, I was pulling out the yarn I purchased from Kate Davies Seven Skeins Club (another attempt at bringing on some inspiration as the yarn come with 7 corresponding patterns) and what do you know?  The green and cream skeins match the green and cream colored yarn used in my hat and mittens.   Can we say new project?  Yes, we can!  I started Kate Davies Cochal honeycombed cowl pattern yesterday and am hoping to finish today.  We'll have to see though, as the house and laundry are in a bit of a state since my knitting has taken over again.  Maybe I'll achieve balance one day ;)

My Year of Projects list is growing instead of getting smaller, but I am just too pleased to be inspired again to mind much.  If you want to see the other YOP participants you can find them here.  Have a great, and hopefully, inspiring week everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

YOP Update - Stages

I've been unsettled this past month with my knitting and blogging.  You may have noticed an absence here as I've let my twice weekly blog schedule slide.  I derail from projects very easily.  Usually all it takes is missing the deadline for a single blog post or setting down a knitting project for another.  But, under the general malaise the cause I believe was the knitting retreat I attended.  It was a wonderful experience to be sure, but while I tweak my knitting style to be more efficient, knitting seems a bit more like work than fun.  Knitting is simply harder right now as I try to lose old habits and gain new ones.  I think that along with having a lot of obligation knitting (2 scarves, 1 sweater, mittens, and a vest.  How did I ever think my gift knitting was almost done?) hanging over my head has really dampened my knitting mojo if you will.  

I managed to push through on a project, steadily work on another (slowly) and of course add yet another project.  The finished project is the hat Tensfield by Martina Behm.  It was knit from some yarn I won in a giveaway and is destined for my friend Amy's charity which provides hats and shawls for those undergoing chemo therapy here in the Twin Cities Area.  The hat is all garter stitch with clever short rows to give it it's form.  Being densely knit made the going slow, but the end result is very pleasing and hopefully very warm.

Next up is a scarf for a friend of a friend which is my slow and steady project.  it has become my morning ritual to sip my tea (Irish Breakfast with cream and maple syrup - sooooo good) while knitting a few rows.  The pattern is His (Birthday) Scarf by Monika Steinbauer and it's putting my new Norwegian purl to the test.  It's going to be tight to get a 60 inch scarf out of my 5 skeins, but hopefully the yarn will relax some in blocking. That is when I finally get to the blocking stage.  Sigh.

On to the new shall we?  Yes, let's!  You may remember the yellow yarn I was knitting a poncho out of - Purl Soho Flax Down?  Well, it shed quite badly which I thought would continue to annoy me in a poncho, but wouldn't be so bad in a cowl.  So, I frogged the Hugo poncho, sold all but one skein of the yarn (the skein from frogging), then paired it with a leftover skein of Tilli Tomas Raw Silk to get the yarn up to a bulky weight and voila we have the beginnings of an Arika Cowl by Jane Richmond.  It's hopefully going to be a quick project being knit with US 10 1/2 needles and only using about 200 yards.  We'll see if I get distracted yet again...

Lastly, I thought I'd leave you with a few pics of my son Sam and the Mighty Mississippi River.  We went on a home school field trip riverboat ride last week on a beautiful, albeit very cold, Autumn day.  We caught the paddle boat at Harriet Island in Saint Paul and took a leisurely 1 1/2 hour trip down to Historic Fort Snelling and back again.  We met some new people, learned a bit about the river as well as river boats and had a good time all around.  

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Picot Sock

Having always knit socks toe-up after my 1st and 2nd pairs ran out of yarn on the second sock toe, I find myself knitting cuff down for the first time in years.  The class "Grok the Sock" taught by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is the reason for this switch.  It was the heel technique she used in class that swayed me as it would fit my instep a lot better then the short row heel socks I've been knitting as of late.  The class also has me back into using DPNs in lieu of 2 circulars mainly due to this technique Stephanie taught for getting rid of ladders.  Seriously simple.  It really is a first, or near first, time for many things with this barely begun pair of socks:  I'm knitting in the picking style (continental some call it),  using a formula and not a pattern, using a picot trim instead of ribbing, DPNs, knitting cuff down, ladder ridding technique, I will be knitting a new to me heel flap and lastly I plan to decrease like you would for a hat for the toes.  All this means I'm progressing at a mighty slow pace.  Well, that and I'm knitting these at 10 stitches/inch (crazy I know, but that's what this yarn looked best at and a denser knit sock will last longer.)

As for books, my son and I are now reading Loki's Wolves by Kelley Armstrong.  It's about the modern day descendants of the Norse gods who happen to be young kids (middle school aged) and how they must band together to prevent Ragnarok - the end of the world.  My son really loves Norse Mythology having read D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths last year as well as some graphic novels on Thor.  The book is very action oriented with a fair amount of fight scenes, but still brings up the Norse myths, their characters and meanings. 

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

YOP Update - Back and Forth


Hi everyone.  Well, it's been another week of bopping around like a ping pong ball from project to project.  Recently, I won a skein of yarn from the Great Outdoors KAL hosted by Knitting Butterflies and it arrived in the post this week.  It's very lovely and dyed by a fellow Minnesotan, but not quite my colors so I decided to knit it into a hat to donate for my friend Amy's Charity Group.  The yarn is a soft and squishy superwash merino so very well suited to a Chemo hat.  I choose a Martina Behm hat pattern that I've knit before that's garter stitch based to help me practice my new picking technique.

Speaking of new techniques, I also learned a trick at my retreat to do away with the ladders I get when I knit socks with double pointed needles.  You simply wrap or pick the yarn up having it cross over your needle in the opposite direction.  Normally I pick the yarn up from below to cross over ontop the needle.  So instead, on that first stitch of each needle I pick up the yarn from above to cross over going downwards.  This helps because it makes a shorter length of yarn in the stitch.  Does that make sense?  It also puts that first stitch on the needle twisted so you need to knit that stitch through the back loop to correct it's position.  As you can see I am only slightly into this sock so I can't say for certain how its working yet, but I'm excited to hopefully solve this long standing problem of mine.  

But, since socks are not on my year of projects list I felt I should get back to one of those projects and picked up the Dudester Scarf again.  This knitting project is the bane of my existence.  The pattern is super duper simple and yet I find myself making mistakes and having to perpetually tink back and re-knit.  I'm not sure what the hang up is but after an hour or so of frustration I decided to cast on for another project.  You see I have yet another scarf to knit for Christmas for yet another of my friend Anna's friends (as an aside don't ever make knitting commitments to others while under the influence of alcohol.  You feel good and magnanimous and forget that scarves aren't like cowls and take forever to knit.)  I was going to knit this pattern, but in the essence of time I chose this simpler one instead.  I'm knitting it with Zealana's Kauri worsted weight yarn and I really like the look; the possum hair makes a beautiful halo.  But, after purchasing this yarn it dawned on me that they kill the possums to get their hair and even though they are an incredible pest problem in New Zealand it does bother me so as I probably will not buy this yarn again. 

That's my knitting progress for this week.  I'm hoping the next one will have more focus and maybe a completed object - ah time will tell.  If you want to check out the other Year of Project participants you can find them here.  I'll leave you this week with a photo of my son and husband at the MN Renaissance Festival.  We're waiting for the jousting to begin and Sam is showing off his purchase of a dragon that can wrap around your neck or wrist to keep you company.  It was a wonderful day.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Retreat.  I took a couple.  A retreat from blogging for a week and I attended a knitting retreat as well.  The blogging retreat was out of frustration with lack of progress and general trouble I'm having with my current knitting projects.  Not voicing them out loud I hoped would make them go away, but alas they are still here.  So, not a fun retreat; more of the duck and cover kind.  Now, the knitting retreat, well, that on the other hand was absolutely, positively FABULOUS!  It was with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee the Yarn Harlot herself and wow, I learned more in those couple of days than I've learned in the past 7 years of knitting.  Really.  The woman is a positive font of knitting knowledge.  Her classes were Knit Smart, Knitting for Speed and Efficiency and Grok the Sock.  If you ever get the chance to take one I highly recommend it.  They will rock your knitting world.

The first night was the lecture style class entitled Knit Smart.  Stephanie gave us the general history of knitting and clued us in to all sorts of tips and tricks.  By far my favorite is the tip that you only have breasts on the front of your body.  Sounds silly, but she says you should measure your front chest from the middle of your side, across your breasts, to the middle of your other side then double that number.  This is the size you should knit for the "front" of your sweater.  Then do the same measurement across your back and double it.  This is the size you should knit for the "back" of your sweater.  Knit either the front or back sized sleeves - whichever is more accurate for your measurements.  Seriously this tip bowled me over.  So very simple and logical, but yet I've never heard it or read it anywhere before.

The whole next day was dedicated to her class titled Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.  We learned the 3 basic styles of knitting:  picking, throwing, and lever knitting.  You may have read in this post that I knit kinda strange.  Well, I found out I'm really a picker who is making it harder than it should be and my purl stitch is just wicked crazy.  Now, I'm picking without all the extra movements, albeit very slowly, and have learned the Norwegian Purl stitch.  I feel like a new knitter!  The lever knitting was by far the trickiest to learn, but is also considered the fastest knitting style.  It originates in the Shetland Isles.  Basically, you keep one long needle stationary either with a knitting belt or part of your body (like your armpit) and then you work the second needle with your left hand while carrying your yarn in your right hand.  I'm very, very slow currently, but I am quite enamored with it.  So much so that I ordered a belt and 40 cm long dpns from Scotland (you can't find them is the US, or at least I couldn't) to really dive into this technique.  

The last class Grok the Sock took place Sunday morning   It was a class on everything you need to know about the construction of knitting a sock without a pattern.  We made wee little socks (that were supposed to fit a baby although, as you can see mine came out much too small for that at a gauge of 10 stitches/inch!) to solidify the concepts as we knit them.  I have been a toe-up advocate, but after learning more about heel construction I might start knitting cuff-down again.  

Well folks that's it.  This was supposed to be a Year of Projects update, but since I have no noticeable progress on any of my many knitting projects to show you I updated you on my learning instead. I'm even thinking of starting over on a few projects and beginning again using these new techniques learned over the weekend.  Really my brain is still spinning trying to assimilate it all.  If you want to check out the other YOP participants check them out here.  Have a great week everyone!