Saturday, December 31, 2016

Intentions for 2017

It's Friday night and I am home writing as I sit in my favorite chair, "Mama's chair" as it's called 'round our house.  Everyone respects this, well, everyone except for the dog that is, but she readily moves when I want my spot back so I forgive her transgression.  This is where I do most of my creative work, that being mainly knitting with a little writing thrown in too.  Blogging though has been far from my thoughts for some time now.  I tried a quick stint at video podcasting this past summer to perk my creative juices, and while fun it was quite a lot more work than I can regularly fit into my days.  It was an attempt to give myself some joy and something to look forward too.  You see, like many others I had a pretty stressful, awful 2016 where I just didn't have the wherewithal to share my joy of knitting with all that was going on in our lives and world.  Now that the new year is just around the bend I find myself wanting to put my intentions for 2017 into the world.  Figuring, probably naively, that if I set my intentions for the new year in print, give it my focus, they might actually come to fruition.  So hear goes.

I intend to make more family together time.  We have a very small house so we are usually all together within sight and talking range, but most often we are parallel playing as in we are each doing our own thing.  I'm wanting to add simple activities like read aloud story time, a movie night, a game night, family walk and park times where all three of us, four is you count our dog Easy, are focusing on the same thing.  Where I put down my knitting and my son and husband walk away for their individual games or books and we enjoy each other.  

I intend to be successful in my endeavors.  By this I mean slowing down enough to create items of quality in my knitting, house upkeep and homeschooling.  I often find myself rushing to finish, usually short-cutting some element or someone along the way.  2016 was a year of frogging most of my knitting, partially finished home projects and a lot of homeschool angst between me and my son.  So, I will slow down this year, take each thing as it comes and try my best.

I intend to take care of myself mind and body.  I do well about caring for my mental health and have a good support network set up.  But my body I abuse.  I simply don't move enough as my favorite activities of reading and knitting are sedentary.  This Christmas my back had had enough and my muscles seized up on one side landing me in bed on ice for much of the Holiday.   It was a bit of a wake up call.  I won't make any lofty goals, but will simply break up my day with stretches and try to get myself out walking more.

I intend to keep up with my friendships.  In general I have a tendency towards holing up at home as often going out seems too difficult.  This is an aspect of my depression where I need to push myself to go see people.  I will then have a lovely time with them, but the getting there can be hard.  So, my friends, bless them, might not see me for long spurts of time.  This year I will make a better effort of seeing them all regularly and not let excuses get in the way.

Really the underlying theme in all of these intentions is slowing down.  Which part of me finds funny as we're not exactly living in the fast lane, and yet we haven't learned to make time for stillness.  That resting and reflecting are just as important as action.  I use the word intention as I find setting a definite goal is an easy road to failure for me which leads to depression, which leads to everything going off the rails.  My husband taught me years ago that instead of saying "Today I will paint the bathroom." say "Today I will work on painting the bathroom."  Small difference, but in the first if I don't finish painting I have failed.  Whereas in the second if I do any little thing towards the painting of the bathroom I am a success.  So, I encourage you, if you're so inclined, to make "intentions" for the new year instead of "resolutions" or "goals".  Then, now this is the important part, pat yourself on the back every time you make some effort towards those intentions.  After all, we all need to be kinder and gentler with ourselves. 
Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Simply Playing Podcast Episode 2 - Where Sheep Take Over My Life


Hi this is Ann.  Welcome to episode 2 on my new knitting podcast called Simply Playing.  I'm so glad you could make it!

Playing with Sicks and String (or current knitting projects)

Pattern:  Cozy Coasters by Joelle Hoverson from the book More Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn:  Frog Tree Melange 100% Alpaca Sport Weight Yarn (held double)  (This yarn is discontinued)
Needles:  Knitter's Pride Metal US 9/5.5mm DPNs

Pattern:  Viajante by Martina Behm available as a Ravelry download
Yarn:  Madelinetosh Twist Light 75 % Superwash Merino 25% Nylon 4 ply Fingering Weight in Candlewick colorway
Needles:  Chiaogoo US 3/3.25mm and US 5/3.75mm fixed metal circulars

Show and Tell (or finished objects)

Pattern:  Felted Tote Bag by Yvonne Eyer (not on Ravelry but received as a class handout)
Yarn:  Cascade 220 100% Wool Worsted Weight (held double) in the colorways: Navy, Straw,  Lemon, and Natural
Used:  1 skein each of the Straw, Lemon and Natural and a skein plus some of Navy for a total of 1009 yards/922 meters
Needles:  Clover Bamboo US 11/8mm and US 13/9mm straight and fixed circular needles

Pattern:  Sheep! by Susan B. Anderson available as a Ravelry download
Yarn:  Shetland Oatmeal handspun, Cloudborn Fibers Highland DK in Charcoal and Oatmeal Heather and Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Candlewick
Used:  Fair Isle Sheep 75 yards/68 meters, Textured Sheep 66 yards/60 meters and Loopy Sheep 91 yards/83 meters for a total of 232 yards/212 meters
Needles:  Knitter's Pride Wood US 4/3.5mm DPNs

Forgotten Toys (or languishing works in progress)

Pattern:  Fair Isle Vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone purchased as part of a Craftsy Class
Yarn:  Cloudborn Fibers Highland DK in 9 colorways
  • Espresso Heather (dark brown)
  • Maize Heather (yellow)
  • Oatmeal Heather (natural)
  • Burgundy (red)
  • Navy
  • Sky Blue (very light blue)
  • Dolphin Blue (light blue)
  • Stormy Skies (medium blue)
  • Autumn Heather (orange)     
Needles:  Knitters Pride Wooden US 3/3.25mm and US 5/3.75mm interchangeable circulars
Project Bag:  Stitched by Jessalu Large Wedge in Star Trek 2 Generations Fabric

The Toy Box (or a visit into the stash)

Yarn:  Rimrock 70% CVM Wool 30% Kid Mohair 3 ply Fingering Weight sold through Etsy
Company:  Roubaix Wool Company
Location:  Winterwind Farm in Battle Creek, Minnesota United States

I also mention her amazing Goat Milk Soap

Ooo Shiny!!! (or yarn and pattern distractions)

Yarn:  Ovilab Yarns - handpainted and handspun yarn sold through Etsy's new pattern by platform

Pattern:  Shrug and More by Martina Behm sold as a Ravelry download
Yarn I'd Use:  Quince and Company's Chickadee 100% Wool Sport Weight

In Closing

You can find me on Ravelry and Instagram as SimplyPlaying or
email me at annATsimplyplayingDOTnet

Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to spend with me.  I'll see you again in a couple of weeks.  Until then remember to keep playing!  Bye! Bye!

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.