Yarn Tasting

Last Thursday, a new local yarn store in my area had a “yarn tasting”. It had been postponed until now because it was originally scheduled during the amazingly often snowstorms of the last few months. Cascade Yarns sent a representative, and had samples of their yarns for us to try out with sample items (small) knitted up so we could see what they would feel like all knitted up.

Here are some pictures of me and my friend at the event.

Beautiful table of Yarns to try

Beautiful table of Yarns to try

My friend and I "toasting" the yarns!

My friend and I “toasting” the yarns!

The cool thing is that we each won a door prize – she chose a fair isle hat kit and I got what turned out to be sock yarn and a sock pattern. I also bought some yarn to make my youngest’s anemone hat and some really nice plush yarn to make my grandson a little teddy bear thing. I probably won’t make the socks, but I might find a one-skein shawl pattern (or run back for some more in that color).

All in all, a fun idea. I wish more stores had these kind of promotions. It was nice to be able to sample yarns before buying them.

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Updating My Patterns Page

Just a quick note to announce that I changed my pattern page links. I added the two patterns that I have here to my ravelry account. I added the American Girl Doll slippers pattern that I have on my ravelry account to my patterns page here. So, now you can download all three of my patterns from ravelry.

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The Lines are Our Friends

Early morning musings on what I learned about myself yesterday.

After one day of working on the felted bag

After one day of working on the felted bag

Here is my first day’s work on the felted bag I’m doing as an informal KAL with a friend of mine. She’s almost through with the first half of hers, and since I didn’t have any new projects yet, I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and start. It’s a Lion Brand free pattern, using their LB Collection Pure Wool. I’ve never worked with 100% regular wool before and the gauge is smaller than I usually work with. Also (here’s where you get a hint of why I’m writing this post), this is the second non-Greta pattern that I’ve used in years. (The first being the anemone hat, but I changed the pattern to include ear flaps.)

The first thing I did was to make a chart of the instructions. There are 32 rows in the pattern, but the instructions are rather convoluted as most of the rows copy the first few ones. My friend has had problems keeping track, and, since I have ADHD, I knew a visual chart would help me keep track of which row I was on and what to do next. Turns out when it is charted , the stitch pattern is very simple!

So, I started off. It’s got cables (which I’ve done before) and lots and lots of knitting and purling (which I’ve done before). I had a ton knitting time yesterday because not only did my daughter have her 2 1/2 hour acting class time, she had a 3 hour Valentine’s dance at church. Five hours for knitting?!?!? I figured I might get the first half of the bag done (maybe).

As you can tell from the above photo, I’ve not even finished with the first iteration of the pattern stitch. Why? Because it totally stresses me out. My shoulders started to cramp after a few rows. I stopped every 4 rows or so to read something, walk around, or generally wish I hadn’t started. Is it the cable pattern that was stressing me out? Was it the wool and how it slips more easily off my nickel-plated needles? Is it the smaller gauge? Could be.

Then, after the dance, my husband took me to see The Lego Movie for Valentine’s Day.

Lego Movie

Lego Movie

Not only did it make me want to run out and get enough Lego to make a huge, tiny metropolis in my basement, it made me realize why knitting was stressing me out when it should be the most relaxing, peaceful thing I do during the day (hence the name of my blog).

In the movie, the hero is someone who always follows the instructions. Then he finds a talisman that leads him to a group of characters who live outside structured environments and never follow instructions. Together they eventually thwart the villian (no spoilers for those who haven’t seen this charming movie). The way they succeed is to follow the instructions. Ah, ha! Light bulb moment!

Instructions! I’m used to making up my own or rearranging existing ones to be new and/or exciting. I haven’t tried to follow a pattern as written since I made my husband’s sweater the first (two) years we were married. I’ve always had a hard time matching gauge, and, with my ADHD, making up my own patterns, or adapting ones I like, help me keep the excitement in the project so I can stick with it enough to get it finished. That’s important with ADHD. (see any posts I’ve made about washing dishes!)

Also, it appears, I may have a little of the anxiety that plagues some members of my family. In the back of my mind, I’m worried that even if I do everything exactly right (never my strong suit), it won’t come out looking as good as the picture. I’ve never felted anything before in my life, and that is another big worry. What if I felt it and it sticks together so I have a nice wall hanging instead of a bag? What if it shrinks to a size that is useless for what I may want to put in it (most likely it will turn out to be a stunningly fancy knitting project bag … but I digress) What if the natural wool picks up some grime or dirt from my fingers and I end up with a spotted bag before I even use it? After all the time I spend making it, what if I toss it into my car and I accidentally get car grease on it from putting oil in my car, or some such activity. and forget to wash my hands afterwards? The list seems to go on and on.

I’ve come to a decision:

This is the ONLY felted thing I’ve ever been interested in enough to actually spend the money on the yarn and supplies to make. My KAL friend loves felting and I can’t wait to learn how to do it. Even if I never felt anything else again in my whole life. I actually like the feel of 100-% real wool and may convert to using more natural fibers (what I’ll do with all the acrylic and acrylic/wool blends in my stash I don’t know …. wait. Never mind). So, I will keep pushing the envelope and knit my way through my ADHD/anxiety barrier to finish this project, even though there’s a tiny, beginning knitter voice inside my head screaming that I can’t do this.

Also, I’m going downstairs, right now, and finding a chunky, acrylic/wool blend to make me a few more hats for this insanely cold winter. Maybe a garter stitch scarf, too. Then I can alternate a few rows of bag with a few rows of hat/scarf. That will make my ADHD happy.

 

And my head warmer.

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Cut Off Short

In my last post about knitting, I mentioned that I had cut off the cuff of the cottage sock I had knit for myself because it was too tight. I also mentioned that I had started an  anemone hat by Cat Bordhi for a little girl in my church.

I finished the hat and gave it to her mom, who pronounced it “so cute”. I don’t know the little girl well, so I don’t know if she liked it or not. However, here’s a blurry picture of it. I added the ear flaps and braids.

Anemone Hat

 

Then I decided to finish the cottage socks. What with the fact that I really didn’t want to attach a whole ball of yarn to the sock just to knit the cuff a little bigger, and I really, really wanted to start wearing these as soon as possible because of the super cold weather we’ve been having, and I’ve been wearing my yoga pants to bed to keep warm, the knee-high socks wouldn’t fit under the pant legs and I didn’t think they’d be comfortable over the pant legs, so …. I decided to make them into “mini” cottage socks the height of the gym socks I wear to work (and to bed before the cottage socks were done.)

No sooner said than done, and I frogged back to the ankle, knit a new cuff and started and finished the second cottage sock in record time.

I’ve been wearing them now for a few days and I’m totally in love. I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off and it works wonderfully. Here’s the proof:

Two happy feet!

Two happy feet!

 

Close up of the sock

Close up of the sock

 

I will eventually make me some knee-high ones, but for now, these are perfect!

But once again, I’m without a knitting project. My daughter wants an anemone hat, as well as does a co-worker. I’ll probably work on those as soon as I find some super wash yarn in the colors they want. Then I’ll be itching to start a completely new project. Probably writing up the cottage sock pattern and getting it ready to publish.

OH! I almost forgot! I used Judy’s Magic Cast-on for both socks which are knit toe-up. However I didn’t like the square-ish lump on the toe that occurs on the first round after the cast-0n. The one side can be adjusted by pulling on the long tail, but the other side has the little bump (see the left foot above). On the second sock, I decided to just slip the first stitch on that side on the first round instead of knitting it, and VOILA! I have a beautiful curved toe. I’m going to do that from now on in all my socks.

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Reading instead of Knitting

OK, I know this blog is about knitting, but this past week, I got caught up in reading … at least it was books about knitting. Wednesday, I decided to read (finally) one of the Yarn Harlot’s books. I’ve read her blog for a couple of years now and I’ve watched all the videos on you tube I could find of her. I figured I’d really better read some of her books. Also, she mentioned a pattern from one of her books and I thought it sounded interesting.)

So I went to the library (I do this for all books – check it out; see if I like it; buy it if I want to read it again.) And there wasn’t just one of her books, but three! So I checked them all out.

And read one a day until I finished. They were funny and touching and I learned some things about knitting that I needed to learn. I’m now a fan of her books too. She announced the 10th anniversary of her blog this week – wow. I’m so glad she’s been writing that long. I can’t wait to read her other books. I am putting the one I thought I wanted on my birthday list – Knitting Rules is not only funny, but really useful too.

Because of this, I haven’t done any knitting as of this morning. That makes me cranky, because I have this hat that I need to finish. And a cottage sock to finish and then make the other one in the pair. So I took the hat to church with me and worked on it. Turns out that I  was farther along with it than I thought, so I’m now in the process of making the crown which, if I watch enough movies this evening, it should be done soon. Then all I have to do is knit the ear flaps and braid a bunch of yarn at the end of those!

Off to find something to watch while I knit.

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Cutting off the Cuff

So sad.

I had the first cottage sock finished Sunday, but didn’t get a chance to try it on until last night. Since my son’s cottage socks were already sliding down his legs (I had to stitch some elastic thread into the cuffs over the vacation to help them stay up), I decided that I needed to make the cuffs a little tighter for mine as I hate socks that bunch around one’s ankles. So I decreased 4 stitches around the top before doing the 3 inch ribbing. “It’s only 1 1/4 inch smaller and this yarn stretches” I said to myself.

I pulled it on yesterday … Oh. My. Goodness! The circulation to my toes was immediately cut off as soon as I pulled, with difficulty, the socks up to my knee.

So, as all knitters do, I sighed, got out my scissors, and cut off the cuff and attached the remaining ball of yarn to the top of the sock in preparation to make the regular sized cuff. BTW, I used the braided Russian join again, a little looser than last time – I love this join! No ends to weave in! Just ends to clip off.

I also started knitting a hat for a little girl in my church congregation who is losing her hair because of chemo. I’m making her an anemone hat by Cat Bordhi. I’m adjusting the pattern to add ear flaps with braided hanging “ties” because she likes those kinds of hats. I’ll let you all know if it works.

Pictures to follow.

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A New Year for More Knitting

It’s been a week since we came back home and I’m settling into the new reality of having only one teenager at home. We miss Kimberly, but know that she’s having new and fun experiences with her brother’s family out in Oklahoma.

In the knitting department, the choices are wide open, with the Christmas knitting being finished before Christmas (What??!!??! How did that happen?). So, it’s time, as they always say, to knit something for me!

Being the knitter that I am, I took a new project with me on my trip to Oklahoma. I decided on only one in hopes that I might actually make serious progress on it. (silly, I know. What was I thinking?) But it turned out that it was OK to bring only one project, because I didn’t do a lot of knitting in Oklahoma itself. You see, I was mostly holding the baby while I was there.

The project I brought with me was one that has been waiting, not too patiently, for me every since I finished the cottage socks for my son and daughter-in-law back in June: MY cottage socks! But by June, I knew I was having my first grandson, and, let’s face it, knitting for baby was more important than making knee-high, incredibly warm slippers for myself. (that and I was a little tired of knitting with super thick yarn by then).

But now I have no obligations to make anything for anyone, and the cottage socks were started.

Cottage Socks for Me!

Cottage Socks for Me!

I’m currently decreasing towards the knee ribbing – should have the first one finished soon (“soon” being a relative term). The color is dark reddish-purple (Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick “Galaxy”) with a sparkly thread added. (I love sparkly yarns, I really, really do!)

Here’s a close-up of the color – it’s a bit brighter than the true color because of the flash on my camera, but you get the idea:

Close up of the beautiful color and sparkle

Close up of the beautiful color and sparkle

I tried a new way of making a short-row heel - Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel. It looks a bit different than my “normal” short-row heel of the “wrap and turn” variety. That said, it fits to perfection on my foot and I’m totally in love with this heel. I may make all my cottage socks from here on out with this heel. I really recommend using this in sock patterns. Even with the big chunky yarn, it is wonderfully easy to do, and there are no “eyelets” like there has been in the past in my cottage socks (which I closed up with a little stitching when weaving in ends).

I also tried a new way of adding in the new ball of yarn. With most slipper patterns, you don’t have to worry about that because slippers cover your feet and maybe your ankles. But since these go up to your knees, a second ball per cottage sock is necessary. In the past, I just added a new ball of yarn and wove in the ends after I finished the sock.

This time, I tried a braided Russian join. (Here’s a video of it working with two colors of yarn). I wanted to use this way of joining because, although I wanted to use the knot version that I read about on the Yarn Harlot’s blog, I didn’t want any knots in my cottage socks, so I tried this way. I probably make the knitting too tight at first, but then I loosened it up so that the braid looked to be the same “gauge” size as the yarn. So easy. And no ends to weave in!!

After I finish these cottage socks for me, I am going to write up the pattern and then try to find some beta-knitters to test it for me. I’d like to have the pattern ready for sale by next fall when people will be wanting to knit quick slippers for the impending cold season.

After that, who knows what I’ll knit?

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