Knitting Updates: Slug Time

Gosh. Life has really been clobbering me lately. My systemic sclerosis (a type of scleroderma) has become more active this month, and as a result I have  been laying around like a slug thinking about the slugs in my garden and posts that I should be writing. (As a special type of irony this is Scleroderma Awareness Month. I’m encouraged to take a pledge to explain about scleroderma to at least one other person. Fabulous. When I feel better I will do that! Post to follow in the near future, or at least before the end of the month.)  Predictably I haven’t done anything about the slugs, but I have been collecting pictures and notes for posts. As soon as I start to feel better I will be posting like crazy. 🙂

I am not, however, feeling too poorly to knit. I mean, let’s be serious here! Knitting is Life!! Since I have been carefully rationing my energy expenditures the last couple of weeks I devoted some time to shopping the yarn stash and getting going on some great projects. Say hello to my new companions while binge watching Netflix (how is it possible that I never watched Orange is the New Black before? If I was incarcerated would they still let me knit? If I sent Piper some cute fingerless mitts would she wear them while fixing electrical equipment? See where my mind goes while I’m living the life of a slug? OK, enough of this. Back to the topic at hand…)

June sock
I got started on the June 2015 sock (Petal Socks by Rachel Coopey). Here are the project notes on Ravelry if you would like more details.
Finished sock.
I finished the first June Sock last night. This is the right sock; the left will have the lace details on the instep reversed so that the finished socks mirror each other.

What can I say about this sock? It was pretty easy to knit. The lace for the legs divided evenly on three needles and the chart had a 6 row repeat, so the pattern was easy to manage. When I got the heel turned I switched to two cable needles which worked really well and kept the lace on the instep (which has more stitches at this point) easy to manage. This sock fits my foot well and is nice and high on my leg which will be welcome warmth this winter. 🙂 The lace pattern doesn’t show well with this yarn, but it is so cute I’m over it.

Joker and Thief Yarn
Yarn to knit the second The Joker and the Thief shawl.

When I originally put together the yarns to knit The Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg I struggled to make up my mind. I ended up packaging together two sets of yarn. I already finished the first shawl  a few weeks ago and am really happy with it. This week I also cast on and started the second Joker so I could see how the colors look together. What do you guys think?

Shawl.
The start of the second Joker. 

Some of my knitting friends are turning out summer tops like crazy. Every time I go to knitting group on Wednesdays at my favorite yarn shop there is a new top being shown off. I am inspired! I am motivated! I am drowning in knitting projects, but since when did that ever stop me? I found a cute tee in the current Interweave Knits Magazine, located 10 skeins of Linen Jeans yarn by Borroco in my stash, and cast on.

Knitted top.
This is the start of the Clove Hitch Tee by Courtney Cedarholm.

I may not have enough yardage for the sweater as shown, but since it is knit from the top down I figure I can knit until I run out and then cast off. Hey, it’s a plan.

Time to go lay down again. Have a good week knitting everyone.

 

Cats, Hats, and a Book called “Cats in Hats”

Fasten your seat belts: here comes cute! I struggle to understand how this happened, but I guess one thing just led to another and before I knew it I had spent a week wallowing in, stitching and knitting the cutest little projects ever. It was a great break from my usual production knitting and the perfect counterbalance to a week of rain, hail and tornado warnings. So, with no further ado, here is the week of saccharine on my needles.

Cute kids hats.
The last time I went to my favorite yarn store there was a display of these darling kids hats. How could I resist? Hats for all the grandkids and grandcousins!! The kits are from DMC and only cost me 9 dollars each and knitted up in a flash. ! I have one more giraffe hat to still make for a grandnephew…

While I was knitting hat cuteness I also worked on the parts for a knitted cat for my cousin during odd moments. I knit the cat pretty tightly so the little hats were nice breaks from the finger crushing tension of the cat. 🙂 Finally last Thursday I finished knitting all the cat pieces, steamed them flat and considered sewing them together. Gee, there were an awful lot of loose ends connected to the pieces… Obviously I needed a thread catcher!!

Opened thread catcher
Here is the thread catcher in its opened state: a nice little fabric cup waiting to catch cut ends of yarn.
Collapsed thread catcher
When you are done sewing (and catching threads) the cup collapses into this showy twisted disk that is only a centimeter tall. Pretty slick! Did you notice the cute cat fabric?

This only took me an hour to make once I had assembled all of the materials. The best part? This cost me nothing as I already had everything that I needed on hand. I first saw this on Sharon’s blog called Creativity and Family and was struck by how useful it was. (OK, thread catcher envy definitely occurred and I was helpless in its grip. I mean, look at how cute it is!!) This excellent video really made it easy to make my own.

Well, once I had the thread catcher made I had no excuse to put off stitching together the cat. I worked on him all weekend during odd moments, and by this morning he was done. Ta-daa!

Knitted cat
Here he is already getting into trouble. To be frank, I had promised him to my cousin Ruth Ann last February, but he decided he was a spring kitty. Later this week I’m driving him up into Colorado’s mountains to meet her. This cat thankfully won’t meow the whole trip up there. 🙂

This is the third cat that I have made from this pattern which is Four Knitted Cats by Kath Dalmeny. I’m thinking that this is the last one as it is really hard on my hands to do the hand-stitching. Good thing he is soooo (do I need to say it?) CUTE!

Yesterday I stopped by the bookstore to check out the new knitting books, and what do I find but this gem.

Cats in Hats book
MacKenzie just can’t wait for me to get started on this. Doesn’t he look like he’s thinking, “Wow! I just can’t wait to get one of these on my noggin!!” <Not! He’s actually hoping that I torture Yellow Boy with these babies!>

I was helpless in the face of the book by Sara Thomas. I mean, isn’t this the poster child for the word of the week? Yep. It is dripping in cuteness. There is a kitty hat with reindeer antlers. A hat with a Mohawk. A hat shaped like a pumpkin and a Santa Claws (see what I did there?) hat.

I did put this book on the bookshelf to incubate for awhile. It is time for me to bid cuteness goodbye and to move on to some more serious knitting. This afternoon I kitted up the yarn, needles and directions for a couple of shawls that I am just chomping to get going on, and of course there are the June socks. Productions knitting, here I come.

Still, it was fun to take a detour into cuteness for the week. Hope you all find a way to channel some cuteness for yourself this week. 🙂

 

 

May and June Socks

I am really trying to keep up on my New Year’s resolutions this year. If you’re not keeping track of them (what, you have a life?), one of the big resolutions this year was to knit a pair of socks each month using a pattern from one of my (many, many) sock books and stash yarn. Sadly the end of May came and I only had one sock done for the month and the start of another. It’s not my fault. There are so many cute patterns and yarns out there that I keep getting distracted by a shawl or knitted hat. I guess I could stay off Ravelry and out of the yarn stores, but that is so not going to happen. Let’s be realistic here!

So I have a few projects lined up. I seem to be spending time in the craft room playing with yarn, beads, fabric, and organizing different projects. Lots of ideas; not enough time to get them done.  Yesterday I ignored the craft room, settled down by the television and binge knitted on the May socks for most of the afternoon. I was approaching the toe when I ran out of steam, so this morning it was pretty easy to get them done before lunch. Here they are!

This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from hr book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
Here is the sock the day that I started it. The pattern is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from her book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
Finished socks
Ta-daa! The finished socks.. The lace pattern on the ankle and foot are switched between the two socks, and it is also different on the ankle portion of the sock (the front is one lace, the back the other). I used two 16″ cable needles to keep the patterns separate while knitting. The color changed a little as I knitted the second sock, but they are still cute!

So, I went into overtime a little on this one, but I am ready to dive into the June socks. I thought the Rachel Coopey sock was so cute that I selected another pattern by her (from a different book!) and matched it with a blue-ish yarn. Here it is.

June sock
It’s the end of spring. Obviously “Petal Socks” (found in the book knitting wizardry by Amy Clarke Moore) are appropriate to knit this month. The yarn that I am using is Becoming Art Yarns Cielo fingering in the colorway “Thunder”. Perfect color: there is a thunderstorm almost every afternoon this time of the year. 🙂

I have several little (excessively cute) projects to get done before I start on these socks. More knitting!! Must knit faster!!

Hello Joker!

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done! OK, this shawl has been going on for weeks. I worried and worried about the colors choices, finally got started knitting a couple of weeks ago, and have been just consumed with knitting on this Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg for the last 10 days or so. I finally finished the knitting early Monday morning, blocked it yesterday, and today I did the finishing and took it out for pictures.

Cat and shawl.
I first tried to take a picture of Joker on a chair. Nope. My cat MacKenzie just was just not willing to let me do that. He was just positive that this was a new game for him. Here is what it looked like between chomps on the shawl.
Finished shawl.
Knitter’s response to cat action: I tacked the shawl to the wall of the house. Here is the Joker in all it’s cat free glory.

Wow! I am happy, happy, happy with this! I have been wearing it around the house all day and even took a little nap wearing it.  The yarns that I used are Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light and colors from two packs of Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

While working on the Joker I also finished up another shawl (3S Shawl by Amy Meade) that was easy take-along knitting to wear with a new green top that I bought this winter. Here are the Ravelry project notes and finished shawl:

Finished shawl.
Aren’t these colors great? This is Becoming Art’s Theia Fingering in the color New Moon. Merino/cashmere/silk yarn. Yum!

Two shawls finished this month; I’ve been a knitting ball of fire!  Actually it has been raining almost every day this month (it has rained 20 of the last 24 days) so it has been cool temperatures and prime knitting weather. My poor yard is suffering as it has been two wet to weed the gardens and to make things worse there was a killing frost two weeks ago that froze all the leaves on two of my trees.

Frost damaged tree.
Here’s the frost damaged ash tree. Poor baby. It’s leaves had been out for only a couple days when the temperatures went into the 20’s overnight.

Today was a good day, however. After getting the pictures of the Joker shawl I took a good look at my sad little tree. There, on the ends of the branches, were new leaf buds and even a few leaves had burst out. Yeah! Looks like the tree may make it after all.

New leaf on tree.
Look! That little green structure at the base of the dead leaf is the new one! Go tree, go! If we don’g get a severe hail storm before the tree can leaf out again there is hope. 🙂

This afternoon there should be more thunderstorms. That’s OK. I really didn’t want to weed the gardens today anyway. I still have to get the May sock finished and I am running out of month. More knitting!

 

Starlight, a Joker and OMG: Empathy Cards!!

Wow. It has been really, really rainy here. I had three inches of rain in the back yard bucket (my very-low tech rain gauge) before there was a downpour with hail this afternoon. Needless to say I have been making good progress on my knitting this week. Here’s what has been going on.

I got the Sidere Shawl by Hilary Smith Callis finally done and blocked. (Yep. There was another battle with the cats during blocking. This time they totally outdid themselves. One of them THREW UP on the shawl and then tried to bury the mess by raking damp shawl parts over the evidence. I love my cats. I really, really do…) I think that it turned out nice.

Info about the stitch
The shawl used a new stitch to me called Starlight Stitch (Sidere is Latin for starlight) that really made it have strips of interesting texture.
Shawl in Tree
Here is the finished shawl hanging displayed by my ever helpful ash tree. The rows of Starlight stitch open to one side of the asymmetrical shawl. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

As I was finishing up the shawl I realized that it was now May. Time for another sock!! (As one of my New Year’s resolutions this year I have been knitting a new sock each month using a pattern from one of my many, many sock books and some yarn from the stash. So far I have been good and only used yarn from the stash. Notice I haven’t mentioned whether the stash is growing or getting smaller at this point…) Monday I dug through the sock yarn and here is what I settled on for the May 2015 sock:

This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from hr book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from her book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock Yarn in the colorway Grenadine. Since the sock is divided into two distinct halves with different patterns I decided to knit it using two small cable needles instead of  my usual (and beloved) square double pointed needles.

Now that the Sidere Shawl is done I jumped right into knitting the first Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg. Woohoo!! This one is a keeper for sure, and is lots of fun to knit. Here’s where I am on it right now. The shawl and the sock are knitting up fast, which is a good thing as I have an awful lot of knitting going on.

Joker and the Thief Shawl
The navy yarn is the “Thief”, and the color gradient yarn is the “Joker”. This shawl is fun, fun, fun to knit. The sections of garter stitch are separated by stripes of criss-cross stitches. It is going to be really nice and squishy to wear. Here are the notes on Ravelry if you want the yarn details…

This week has been one of reflection for me as I knitted along in the gloomy rainy days. Tuesday was the anniversary of my mom’s death from ovarian cancer. What a difficult time that was for all of us in the family. Now I am exactly as old as my mom was at that time, and I also am struggling with a serious condition. I’m noticing again some of the things that we dealt with during my mom’s illness: friends and family saying hurtful things, distancing themselves, and trying to make the illness seem trivial. If anything is said at all, it is so superficial or cliche that it reveals a total disengagement. What is up with that? It’s almost as if they are lacking in… empathy.

OMG!! Guess what hit the market this week? Empathy cards! The exact cards that call to the heart of every person struggling with a serious illness, and the life preserver for every person who just doesn’t quite know what to do or say. I can relate to these cards totally! These cards are created by Emily McDowell to fill that huge gap that too many of us are aware of where people of good heart and intentions struggle to acknowledge unhappy truths (some of us will never be old…) as they try to express their concern and support. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Empathy Card
I would love it if someone gave me this card. I would love it even more if that person really would punch someone for me! 

See what I’m talking about? One visitor told my mother that her terminal illness was a “remarkable opportunity” as it gave her the chance to plan the end of her life. I never allowed that person to come visit her again. People who say everything happens for a reason are smugly assuming that somehow your illness was something that you deserved (and they didn’t), or that it will somehow make you a better person. That is just wrong, folks.

Lemon Card
This happened to me! Not nice! 

I bet you want some of these cards too. Here’s Emily McDowell’s blog about these cards and her store where you can buy your own. Emily is a cancer survivor and definitely understands the problem and the need for these simple vehicles to scaffold caring and meaningful communication of support for others dealing with a hard time. I know that people do care. We all need help sometimes to know how to show others how we feel.

So what other empathy cards should there be? I personally am tired of people telling me that they are glad that I’m so much better. (Say what??! I look better right now because I’m between naps and between crisis…) or that they will pray for me (Thanks! I appreciate that! What I really need, however, is someone who is willing to do some grocery shopping for me or even take me to my next major medical testing appointment of the gastroenterology torture chamber variety…) What about the times when people tell you that at least you don’t have __________ (some other disease that sounds worse to them), or ask if you have your will made? There has to be a great card using these comments!

Lots to think about while knitting on a rainy day.

 

 

I’m Knitting as Fast as I Can!

I just love this new pattern on Ravelry that was published a few weeks ago. It is just fabulous!! It’s called The Joker and the Thief (by Melanie Berg), and it required 6 yarns that form a color gradient (this would be the Joker…) that is anchored by one color that is the Thief. I immediately went on the hunt for color gradients in my yarn stash, ended up making two trips to my favorite LYS, and moved yarns around and around until I finally settled on TWO color combinations for this shawl. Yeah! They are both fabulous and I have finally decided to make both of the shawls. Why do something if you can’t overdo it? See, this is a motto that all knitters can get behind. 🙂

Joker 1 Yarns
Here’s the yarn for the first Joker shawl (hereafter called Joker 1). The Thief will be the navy blue above the gradient. The Joker yarns (magenta and golds) are all Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat. The Navy is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (Colorway Ink)
Joker and Thief Yarn
This is the yarn for the second Joker shawl (AKA Joker 2) The Joker is more Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat, and the Thief is the gold colored Knitted Wit Fingering Yarn.
MacKenzie and shawl yarn.
As usual my cat MacKenzie is chomping at the bit to get started on the shawls. He was a big help as I was winding the yarns, making the color keys, and kitting them up in plastic snap top (and moth proof!!) boxes.

I’m all ready to get started on the shawls except… I already have three projects going and one of them is on the needles that I need to use to knit the Joker. I thought about going to buy more needles. (No way! Who would do something like that???) I considered taking the shawl-in-progress off the needles so it could hibernate for a few weeks while I knitted the Jokers. Yeah, we all know what would have happened to that shawl.  It would have hibernated in a corner somewhere for a few years. Nope! I decided to suck it up and knit like the wind until it was done. This shawl is beautiful, and I will commit to finishing it in a timely manner! Feeling very self-righteous I began working on this shawl (Sidere by Hilary Smith Callis) again.

Marked up pattern.
Self-righteous can take you only so far. This pattern is requiring very close attention to the details which are all written out. I’m marking up the pattern like crazy while I work. This type of attention means that I can only knit when I have a big chunk of time open and sleeping cats.
Shawl
Still, I’m making good progress and the shawl is starting to look fantastic! I can’t wait to get this off the needles and blocked. Here’s the project notes on Ravelry if you would like more information.
Shawl
I’m also making this dark green 3S shawl as simple take-along knitting. The yarn is Becoming Art Fingering Yarn. I love the yarn but this shawl is going a little slowly too. 
Knitted Cat
I’m also working on a long-overdue knitted cat for one of my cousins. This one I knit on during news broadcasts. Here’s the pattern for the cats (it’s free!!!) on Ravelry.

So there we are. I’ve got two more projects all lined up and I’m dying to get started on them. I’ve been knitting as fast as I can for over a week, and I still haven’t gotten anything finished. The weather is warming up and I need to start tending to the lawn and gardens outside.

Stay tuned folks! I think that it may rain this weekend, and I’m hopeful to get at least one of these off the needles. 🙂

Jokers, here I come!!

 

Yarn Fest Report

Last Saturday I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado with my friend Margie where we met up with other friends (AKA fiber addicts). I’d been looking forward to this outing for weeks, and had organized myself with specific shopping goals. Yeah, whatever. This is one of these deals where it is best to not over think things. Still, here’s what I hoped to accomplish.

  • Find yarn for some specific patterns. Specifically, I was on the prowl for yarn to make Red Rock Canyon (by Rosemary {Romi} Hill) and The Joker and the Thief (by Melanie Berg).
  • Hunt for some great gradients or ombre yarns that I could use for shawls.
  • Buy unique yarns that I probably won’t see in my LYS.
  • Make arrangements to visit the paco-vicuna Gulliver who is a resident of Jefferson Farms. I have 6 ounces of his very expensive roving that I want to spin up for a lacy shawl. OK, this is one of my New Year resolutions.  I’m also terrified to start on this project without some lace spinning lessons. Maybe I can make arrangements for a class while I’m there…
  • Score some great new patterns.
  • Run wild with my friends!!

With every intent of exercising some self control I entered the marketplace with Margie and stopped dead at the first booth. OMG! Yak yarn! Dyed by Ms. Babs in a colorway called Red Rock Canyon.  The exact colors of the national parks in Moab, Utah. Oh my goodness, I just love Moab, and I really love those colors. Here it is.

Tibetan Dream Yarn.
This is Tibetan Dream yarn (by Bijou Basin Ranch) is 85% Yak Down, 15% Nylon sock yarn. These are the colors of one of the best vacations I’ve ever gone on. To touch this yarn is to be in heaven (dreaming Tibetan dreams of course!) How can I put this on my feet? Say hello to my next little shawl.

What wonderful, soft yarn. This is yarn that a person can fall asleep while clutching in happy exhaustion at the end of the day (true story). Out came the credit card and this yarn was mine!

In a booth nearby I met Chris Switzer and learned that she was teaching a class on how to spin camelid fibers this July. I had to wait until Monday to sign up for the class, but I did. The class is July 18th, so I still have time to make sure my spinning wheel (which was sadly dropped last year) is in working order again.

Other yarn acquisitions included:

Yarn
The perfect yarn to make the Red Rock Canyon shawl. This is merino, silk and cashmere yarn from Western Sky Knits located in Montana. Beautiful yarn!
Yarn
This Japanese yarn looks like paper but is made of cotton. It knits up crisp and crunchy. I had to get it!
Ombre yarn.
The cutest sparkly ombre yarn was obtained from Wolly Wonka.
Yarn
The perfect scarf/shawl to make for a Christmas present. There’s purple in that Kauni yarn too.

After hours of gabbing, playing with fiber and catching up with friends we called it a day. I didn’t get much more yarn, but there were some other great finds. These included:

  • I met the owner of Jefferson Farms, which is the home of Gulliver, the paco-vicuna that I have fiber from. She is happy for me to visit him and to facilitate our meeting she is transporting him up to the Denver farm this week. Look forward to a post about paco-vicunas and Gulliver!
  • I never did find a great yarn gradient, but boy did I find a great pattern to use color gradients with. The pattern is called Beyond the Pale, and it is from Wolly Wonka. I saw it knitted in three different color combinations, and it is stunning. I already have it in the Ravelry shopping cart, and I’ll be buying it tomorrow.
  • I love to knit cables. Really, I do! There was a booth with the most wonderful patterns with Celtic cable work from Black Water Abbey, which is located in (gasp) Aurora, Colorado not far from my house. I bought several patterns. The most wonderfully soft tweed yarn (Brooklyn Tweed) that I have ever handled was in another booth. I’ll be buying some of that down the road to knit the patterns that I bought from Black Water Abbey.

You know, I did meet all of my goals for the trip. I didn’t get as much yarn as I wanted, but I made lots of connections and am inspired to get going on on many, many different projects.  How fun it was to be in a place where everyone was wearing a hand knit or woven shawl/scarf and carrying a knitting project. It was great! I was with my peeps!!

I can’t wait to go back to this event next year!! Continue reading “Yarn Fest Report”