Sunday, August 30, 2015


The shawl is done!  It's not quite as big as I wanted, but frankly I was so tired of knitting all those SSKs in the fourth section of the pattern that I wrapped it up early.  Thus, I did not do the 2 extra repeats I was planning on for that section and knit the ribbing about 3 rows shorter than listed.  My only mod was doing an extra repeat of the 1st section when I was bold and bright with excitement (and the rows being much shorter I'm sure had nothing to do with it.)  The photos above are of it fresh off the needles; now it's having it's bath while I write this post, and as soon as I'm done here I'm off to block it.  I am curious to see how this 50/50 cotton/wool yarn will bloom.  My hope is it will fluff up a bit, but we'll see.  The wing span measures out at 80 inches by 30 inches deep.  The castoff method I employed was one I got from this book called Sarah's Favorite Bind Off for 2 x 2 Rib.  It adds a backward loop every 4 stitches, but is otherwise a standard bind off.  I thought it would give a clean look, but still be stretchy.  In actuality it has the clean look, and while it is stretchier than a traditional bind off it's still a bit on the firm side for my taste.   Of course there is no way I'm undoing the original 381 stitches, not to mention all those added backward loop stitches, so it will have to do.  All in all I really like the look and I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out it when the weather cools off again.  Because, in true Minnesota fashion the weather has changed abruptly again and is headed for the high 80's.  Oddly enough this unpredictable constantly changing weather is one of the things I love most about living here.  Don't like the weather today?  Wait until tomorrow it'll change.

I do have Fall weather on my mind these days so I cast on for this poncho.  Now, you may be asking what happened to this poncho?  Well, the yarn was bugging me so much it was really taking the fun out of knitting it and as you all know life is too short to knit with yarn you don't like.  So, the poncho was frogged, the yarn rewound and put up on my Stash "will trade or sell" page on Ravelry.  Hopefully, it will find a new home with someone who loves it.  Anyway, the new poncho I'm going to knit using this yarn from my stash, paired with this yarn I just purchased.  It's a bit of a bold mix, but I wear navy blue like most people wear black and my thought was the blue would help tie it into my wardrobe better.  My current plan is to simply colorblock the poncho with yellow on top and blue on the bottom.  This would make it very easy to use up all my yarn, but I am toying with the idea of a few stripes to blend the transition a bit.  Any thoughts?

Thus, we end the week with Year of Projects list - 0, and Random Patterns and Projects - 2.  Ah well, there is lots of the year left to get those on the list done.  Right? To view other Year of Projects contributors check them all out here.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What to Say...

Even working diligently away on my distraction shawl I have very little new to report.  I'm about 2/3 way through the 3rd section (out of 5) and according to my pattern notes that means the shawl is at  60% completion.  In the beginning of a triangle shawl you progress so quickly, as the rows are short, that it pushes you to knit on, but as those rows lengthen it gets to become a bit of a slog.  We are now in that very slow section of the shawl.  I really want to finish it though, so I am going to try and be a monogamous knitter until it's done.  We'll see how that goes...

I usually don't put down what I'm reading for Yarn Along, because frankly after reading aloud to my son each day I'm kinda done reading and would rather knit with my free time.  But, then I got to thinking you might be curious as to what books a nine year old boy finds interesting so here goes.  We have just started Gergor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.  It's a fantasy series where a boy falls through a grate in his apartment building's laundry room and finds himself in a new world filled with giant bugs, bats and rats.  He learns he is part of a prophecy which might be the key to finding his missing father.  Thus far, it's good and engaging with a little bit of gross humor thrown in for good measure (seriously all you have to say is poop and my son starts rolling with laughter - I so don't get it.)

I'm leaving you today with a photo of my son taken at the MN Landscape Arboretum where we visited this week.  The butterfly sculpture in the background is not pixelated but instead is composed entirely of Legos as were 12 other sculptures on display throughout the gardens.  They are part of a traveling show and if they come through your area they are definitely worth viewing.  Each one lists how many Legos were used along with how many hours to complete - it was fascinating and so fun for kids.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Distractions, the Good Kind might have noticed the above photo is of a completely different project than my mother's sweater.  Well, you'd be right.  I got tired of the stockinette, even though I am only 1 sleeve away from the color work, and cast on for a unplanned for shiny new project.  It's the Campside Shawl by Alicia Plummer.  I've looked at it many times before, but thought I didn't have the right yarn for it in my stash.  You see my stash is pretty much made up of yarn already earmarked for certain projects with only a few odd ball skeins, which often makes it hard for me to imagine using the yarn for something else.  The weather here has turned unseasonably cool and I find myself wanting a warm, yet still summery shawl, which got me to thinking that a cotton/wool blended yarn would be the perfect choice and I actually have such a yarn tucked away.  It's Chesapeake by Classic Elite Yarns in the caramel colorway.  Even though it's sold as a worsted weight I would classify it more as a DK, making it a perfect choice for this shawl pattern.  A match was made and a new project cast on!

Campside only requires just under 800 yards to make, and I have about 1400 yards of this yarn so I am attempting to make the shawl bigger to use up more yarn, and because I want a shawl I can really wrap myself up in.  The pattern consists of yarnover holes that get progressively closer together as the shawl gets bigger until it pretty much makes a lacy lattice pattern.  Then it is finished off by a ribbed border.  The shawl is constructed in 5 sections and I am modifying it by increasing in the first section by 1 extra repeat, the fourth by 2 extra repeats and lastly the 5th by making the ribbing longer than specified.  Making modifications is pretty new to me and it is a little tricky to figure out where in the chart to start the next section, but this has been made easier by a fellow Raveler who drew up line by line written instructions that include stitch counts for every line.  So, I have been able to find my stitch count when starting a new section and begin there, repeating as necessary.  I'm really enjoying the pattern and am already through the first and second sections and just started on the third last night.

There is one other reason I want to knit this shawl - I want it to wear to a knitting retreat I'm going to at the end of September.  It's my first knitting retreat and I'm really, really excited about it.  It's only a hour and a half drive away in Downsville, WI and was actually affordable.  Have you ever noticed that many knitting retreats are quite costly due to location, teachers and whatnot?  This one is run by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who I simply love, and focuses on knitting smart, speed and efficiency and sock construction.   Of course wearing knit wear to a knitting retreat makes perfect sense right?  Well, most of my knits are for cold winter wear and I have very few items for the coolish yet still warm weather of an early Midwestern Fall.  So, I'm bringing a couple of socks, my color affection shawl, my marin shawl and hopefully this Campside shawl for walks in the surrounding woods.

Well, I'll be adding one more item to the list this week instead of crossing one off.  Ah, maybe nect week it'll go the other way.  If you want to visit the other Year of Project contributors check here.  Wishing you all a great week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Slow Progress

The thing about knitting a sweater is it takes a fair amount of time and while progress is definitely made it seems slow due to the size of the project.  My mom's Blaithin sweater is coming along nicely, but it's the slow stockinette "things don't look too different" phase and I'm a bit discouraged.  To help alleviate this feeling, I decided to take a break from the sweater body and start a sleeve as that is the next step in this sweater's construction.  And since I still have troubles knitting with double pointed needles (I discovered my pulling the yarn too tight is what is causing the ladder effect), I purchased a 12 inch circular needle from Chiaogoo so I could seamlessly knit in the round.  Well, let me tell you it's awesome!  I knit the above 10 inches of sleeve yesterday with ease and their are no ladders to be seen.  Yay!  I've tried 9 inch circulars for sock knitting in the past and my fingers cramped up quickly, but the 12 inch seem to be fine in that regard.  So, I think I am a convert and will be knitting my in the round sweater sleeves like this in the future.  Ah, more needles to collect :) 

I'm not reading anything presently, but I'm thinking of getting this book to help conquer the mess which is my house.  It has pretty good reviews and being from Japan with their small housing spaces (small by western standards) I think it might be a good match to our own tiny home.  Many western De-cluttering books have solutions for your home office, but not your home office/dining room/computer gaming room which is how our house functions.  It's not our living room.  It's our living room/ craft room/ exercise dance space/ music room.  See where I'm going with this?  Well, I feel it's at least good enough to download to my ipad for a read as the wait at the library is some 600 requests long and I certainly don't want to buy another book to add to the clutter ;)

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

YOP Update - The Scots Won!


My debate with myself as to which cardigan to cast on last week, the one for myself or the one for my mother, was a tricky one, but I decided to go with casting on Kate Davies Blaithin for my mother's Christmas gift.  The Scots won out!  I say this because Kate Davies is Scots as well as my mother so they make a good pair I think. What tipped me to that verdict?  Well, I have been really digging the idea of getting all my gift knitting done by Fall and then having uninterrupted selfish knitting time all Winter.  So, onward with the gift knitting!  You can see my progress on Blaithin in the first picture.  I finished the pockets and am onto the boring stockinette section.  It's a cardigan that's knit in the round and then steeked up the middle which is marked by my little flower stitch holders.  The yarn I'm using is Jamieson's discontinued Soft Shetland some of which was leftover from a previous sweater of mine and the rest I purchased from another Raveler.  All have been in my stash for about 2 years.  Thus, it will be really nice to finally get this stash yarn knit up and the sweater in use.

Because I am on the boring stockinette section of the sweater I find myself wandering over to Ravelry often to give myself little breaks from the monotony.  Maybe that, coupled with looking through my stash, is the reason I cast on for something completely unplanned for - a poncho.  Growing up in the seventies my mom and I had matching ponchos that she knit us and I really loved mine.  It was for mainly wearing outside as it was pretty thick and came down to my wrists , but this model is knit in sport weight yarn and is shorter making it more of an inside garment.  I think it will be a chic way to dress up my boring turtlenecks this coming winter.  The yarn I'm using is one I purchased online here and sadly it was rather a disappointment.  It was purchased it in a effort to buy more environmentally responsible locally sourced yarn.  And it fit the bill being 100 percent alpaca grown and processed in the US then dyed with marigold flowers that were grown on the same farm as the alpacas.  The color is fantastic, but the yarn is a bit rough and has lots of neps that I have to keep picking out.  Also, it was also supposed to be DK weight not sport. Well, I probably should have returned it, but I just didn't have the heart to do so.  This poncho I think will be the best use for this yarn since it's not next to the skin and the alpaca's natural drape will only add to the style.  Since the size I am knitting takes about 1000 yards it will be some time before I see the results.  

The last photo is of some yarn I purchased yesterday with my son for a pair of felted slippers.  He actually asked me to knit him something!!!  This is very thrilling for me.  You see, a couple of years back he told me he didn't want me to ever knit him anything and said he hated sweaters (proving this point by wearing only short sleeved t-shirts all winter long - brrr!) as well as hand knit hats and mittens.  Oh, the knitter in me was very sad that day.  So, of course I have to jump right on this project when he asked.  He wants simple navy blue slippers like the ones my husband and I have which I knit from this pattern.  The only twist is he wants a Minecraft pixelated squid face on them.  If you've heard of Minecraft (which is a video game) you might have heard of iBallistic Squid who is a Youtuber Minecraft personality.  I'm going to create the squid face out of colored wool felt sheets which I'll cut into squares and then stitch onto the tops of the slippers.  Sam's feet are as big as mine so he is out of children's footwear sizing and all the fun slippers they make for kids.  And, being only just 9, he is still very much a kid and wants something fun to wear on his feet.  I'm really hoping I can make these slippers to his liking and then maybe, just maybe, he'll ask me to knit him something else.  Ah, a mother can dream...

With these unplanned for projects popping up I think I will make an "Additions" section to my Year of Projects list.  That way I can still see my original intent at the end of the year and can better gauge my progress.  To check out other YOP participants check here.  Enjoy these last couple weeks of summer everyone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another Gift Bites the Dust

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Yup, I'm in a good mood this morning.  I finished my husband's wool socks last night before bed, which means another gift gets crossed off the list.  Happy dance!  The toe up sock pattern is one I used many times before so not much new there.  Cast on with Judy's Magic Cast on 24 stitches, followed the pattern for the large size, and cast off using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  The only bummer about this project is the socks don't totally match color wise.  Not a big deal when you think they will be stuffed into boots while my husband shovels snow this winter and no one will see them.  But, as I've said before, I'm kinda a matchy-matchy gal so it irks me a little.  Probably couldn't be helped when I was working with 1 full skein and 2 partial skeins to create these socks.  Of course the last word on the matter will be my husband's and I already know he won't mind one little bit.  So that's that.

Now, I should go to my YOP list and see what I want to knit next, but I went looking at the new patterns on Ravelry the other day and heard the siren call (think mythology not ambulance.)  Yes, a new Thea Colman Baby Cocktails pattern called Mezcal jumped off the screen and shouted "KNIT ME!!!!"  There is even appropriate yarn in the stash to begin knitting it right away.  Thus, I swatched last night, and yes, I make skimpy swatches and leave them attached to the ball so I can reuse the yarn as I'm pretty frugal (or at least that's what I call it) and got gauge.  Now, I just need to decide whether or not to start a completely new unplanned for project or knit something off my list.  Not quite sure which way I'm going to go yet.  The other main contender is the Blathin sweater for my mother.  If I knit that sweater I would only have 1 more Christmas gift to knit (a vest for my husband) and could do selfish knitting all Fall and most of Winter.  That has an awesome appeal as I have never been that prepared for Christmas.  Maybe another cup of tea will help me decide.

I thought I'd leave you with a picture of my son Sam who turned 9 this past Sunday.  He wanted to go to Bryant Lake Beach with his Dad and me on his birthday to celebrate.  Dad usually only makes it to the beach once during the summer on the 4th of July for the family celebration his mom throws every year.  But, this year Sam had a really bad biking accident the night before the 4th tearing up his knee, hands and spraining an ankle so needless to say there was no swimming the next day.  Of course his wish was fulfilled this Sunday and we all had a great time.  Sam and Dan went swimming, we all played in the sand and the boys finished off the afternoon with a paddle boat ride while mama packed up.  Then later that night we had a Nerf gun battle with a couple of neighbor boys in the park, ate some cookies and took turns swinging on the swing in the backyard.  All in all a pretty great day. 

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

YOP Updare - Christmas is Coming

Yes, I said "Christmas is Coming" or at least you'd think so at the rate I'm knitting gifts.  The fact that they are smaller projects that finish quicker I'm sure has nothing to do with it.  So, on to those gifts.  I jumped right into making a matching hat for my mothers felted mittens that I mentioned in my previous post.  It came out rather well I think even though the pattern calls for a yarn with drape, a quality which my sheepy sticky Shetland yarn definitely does not possess.  The striped brim, that I lined with angora yarn, ended up being a bit over three inches in order to fully cover my ears and is quite snug, then the body of the hat is loose and pulled down in the back.  My mom, most days, wears her hair in a ponytail so having this looser shape accommodates that hair style.  Sadly, I still have leftover yarn, but it's a small enough amount to relegate to the scrap bin.  As an aside, I really wish Ravelry had a "scrap" category for the stash section.  That way you would still have the yarn info. if you ever figured out a pattern to use up all your scraps, and it would free up your active stash yarn list to only full skeins.  Maybe someday...

With the mittens and matching hat now completed, I moved on to knitting another gift, but this time for my husband.  It's a pair of wool socks knit out of DK weight sock yarn from ONline.  It all started last year really when I knit his younger brother a pair of socks with this yarn using up a skein and a half for the pair.  Which left me with, you guessed it, a half of skein leftover - what to do?  Because of course, I had to do something I couldn't just let it lie.  Well, then I got to figuring all I needed to use up this yarn was to purchase another skein of it to knit a second pair of men's wool socks.  And, since my husband admired the first pair it seemed obvious that he should be the recipient.  Knitting a big pair of men's socks could be quite a challenge, but knitting up this pattern in DK weight yarn on US size 3 needles has been a breeze.  They are knitting up so fast I am already done with the first sock and I only started them 2 days ago, which makes me a very happy camper.  The fact that at this rate I will still be able to count them for Stash Dash makes me happy too.

Finishing all these gifts rather quickly, has me thinking about how I downgraded my mom to mittens (and now a hat too) for her Christmas gift.  She'll enjoy them and get a lot of use out of them I'm sure, but she really does need another sweater as many of hers are getting too worn to wear out and about.  So, I will give her these gifts for her birthday in October instead, and I'm going to try and challenge myself to knit her a sweater for Christmas.  I think why I was so quick to cut her sweater from my YOP list was I didn't want to knit the pattern I chose.  Instead of the Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern I originally planned on I am going to knit her another Kate Davies Blaithin.  This is a good switch for many reasons:  the yarn I earmarked for her sweater is enough to knit Kate's pattern, I really enjoyed knitting the 1st one I knit her, she loves the A-line styling, I think I can do a much better job on the stranded knitting section this time around (last time I knit it a bit tight and had to block real aggressively to get it to shape) and lastly I'll be using more of Jamieson's Soft Shetland yarn which can take the hard wear my mother puts her sweaters through.  Enough said.

Here's an update to the list as it now stands:
Elijah the Elephant by Ysolda Teague Finished 7/29/15
Baby Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman Finished 7/27/15
Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Soho (Knit Sweet and Simple Baby Hat) instead Finished 7/28/15

Cowls and Scarves:
Classic Cowl by Purl Soho knit in handspun  Finished 7/6/15
Dudester Scarf by Jana Pihota 
Dryad by Jared Flood

For the Home:
Sock Yarn Braided Rug by Martha Lazar
My Oluffa Doorstop by Lucinda Guy
Cozy Coasters by Joelle Hoverson
Hot Out of the Oven Set by Knit Picks Design Team  (making the square pads) Finished 7/25/15
Out of the Frying Pan by Amy E. Anderson  Finished 7/18/15

Taylor's Orange Toe Up Socks by Jasmyn Cunningham

Sweaters and Vests:
Blaithin by Kate Davies
Ground by Veera Valimaki
Glen Moir Vest by Luise O'Neill 
White Russian by Thea Colman

Astonish Top by Katy Banks 
Jordan by Wendy Bernard

Mittens and Gloves:
Connnectivity Gloves by Mari Chiba
Nordic Mittens by Beth Brown-Reinsel
Double Knit Mittens by Sue Hedgecock
Felted Mittens by Joan Sheridan Finished 8/4/15

Michele by Sarah Punderson Finished 8/6/15
A Family Tam by Beth Brown-Reinsel

Thanks for checking in.  To see other Year of Project participants check here.
Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Frenzy Continues...

The felting frenzy continues at my house with another pair of felted mittens that are earmarked for my mother for Christmas, or maybe her birthday in October so she has them before the weather gets really cold.  I used this same pattern as I did for the pink pair with a few modifications:  I cast on only 38 stitches instead of 44 and made the child size for the inner cuff instead of the adult which seemed like it would be too loose.  My hopes were that having fewer stitches would prevent the belling out that happened on the cuff of my first pair, but alas it did not.  The purl rows I think are to blame and if I were to make a yet another pair I would omit them.  The yarn used for this set was leftover from a sweater I made my mom about 2 years ago and I have been meaning to make matching mittens for her ever since.  It's Jamieson's Soft Shetland, which, you guessed it, is 100% Shetland wool.  It felted quite differently from the Lamb's Pride used for the pink mittens.  It ended up being not as thick making it  easier to bend your hand and less clumsy, and oddly lots of fiber came off loose in the washer during the felting, which unfortunately clogged our washing machine.  Thus, if you felt yourself putting your items into a tied pillowcase would be a safeguard against this happening, which I knew but didn't heed - sigh.  The mittens were very fuzzy when I took them out of the washer so I gave them a judicious trimming for the smooth look you see above. 

This marks the end of the all the felting I think.  Now, I'm onto making a matching hat for the mittens as I still have more yarn leftover.  This is the pattern I'm using (the less slouchy version), but I will be knitting it with some mods that I used previously for this hat.  Namely, I'm lining the brim with angora yarn so it's double thick over the ears and then continuing with only the Shetland yarn for the crown.  I figured the hat should be just as warm as the mittens don't you think?

Now, I haven't forgotten about casting on for my sweater vest that I'm really excited about, but I'm equally as excited to finish my Christmas gifts by the end of Summer.  It's a bit of a push pull between the two.   But, I think the Christmas gifts are winning.

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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

YOP Update - More Gift Knitting

It was a good week for me in the knitting realm.  My baby gifts were finished and given to the recipient to much fanfare and applause.  The last minute knitted stuffed Elephant was the biggest hit as apparently there was an elephant in the movie Inside Out that her kids adored.  I may have to make a couple more for them or at least pass on the pattern to their mom who is a fellow knitter.  

With those projects being crossed off the list (and yes I added the elephant to the list just so I could cross it off as I'm like that) I moved on to finishing more of my Christmas gifts.  In the toy making yarn stash I had a lot of pink colored yarn.  Now, I personally am not one for pink being of a ruddy complexion it only makes me look redder in the face, but I have one friend who is a pink color fan.  I decided to try and make her some felted mittens from this pattern that I've had for some years now.  As you can see they start out huge, but after 40 minutes of felting they are more like actual mittens.  Have you noticed the color change?  The yarn I used for knitting toys was all plant dyed and my guess is that the laundry soap I used to help felt the mittens must of had enzymes in it which changed the color.  Some plant dyed colors are really stable like weld yellow and indigo blue, but others not so much.  I don't care for the resulting shade as much as I did the previous color so I'm going to show them to some friends tonight at my monthly scrapbooking meeting to get their opinions.  What do you think?  

The mittens are also a bit more stiff and clumsy than a traditional knitted pair, but they should be killer warm in the subzero temps we get here in Minnesota.  The inside cuff is knitted in an angora/wool yarn that will keep out the drafts while keeping the mittens from falling off the hand.  I want to knit a pair for my mother, but I'm not sure if I should adjust the pattern and narrow down the wrists some as they bell out a bit. 

In the midst of all this I was breathlessly waiting for the mail to deliver the yarn I ordered from Knit Picks.  It finally arrived on Friday and I wound up a ball and started swatching right away.  After I finish my mom's mittens I believe I will cast on and get chugging away on this sweater.  Who knows maybe I can finish it just in time to use it when Fall hits.

Check out the other Year of Projects participants here.  Have a great week everyone!