Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I finished Skelf yesterday.  Okay, technically I still need to block it and sew on buttons, but all the knitting is finished!  Yay me!  This is the first "grown-up" sweater I've completed.  I did make a top-down raglan when Spud and Chloe had their knit-a-long a couple of years ago, but this is my first REAL adult sweater.  Like with written out directions for each size and no math required.  It was terrific.  I love the pattern - Ysolda writes them so just about anyone can follow them.  The directions were very clear (even if I didn't read them very well the first time around).  I did add some to my project page, and will finish adding notes later.  Here are a few pictures before blocking:

My only problem now is where to block it?!  I have hardwood floors throughout my house, except the bedrooms, and I work during the day, so I have to block things either at night or early in the morning - when half the people in the house are sleeping.  Sometimes more, but at least half.  That leaves few possibilities.  First, there is the ironing board:

As you can see, it works GREAT for Little Man's sweater (now it's not scratchy).  The sleeves dangle, but I'm not as worried about them.  The problem for my sweater - it's wider than his.  This means that either a) I could only block half of it at a time, or b) it might stretch funny.  I can use a drying rack, one of those old wooden dowel zig-zag racks to cover it, but again, it might stretch funny from the spaces in between the dowels.  I would just go get some of those puzzle mats from the exercise section of a local big box store, but I really don't have even the $20 to spend at the moment (payday is Friday and we're watching our pennies for Christmas).  So, I have to decide how to block it.  In the meantime, Hubby helped me pick buttons for it and we decided on these:

Aren't they lovely?  They will add just a little sparkle to the top of the sweater.  I had planned on using these terrific ceramic buttons I found at an antiques mall, but after looking between those and these, these buttons won out.  Oh, and once Little Man's sweater is dry,

he's going to shine! :)  What are you working on?  Anything new?  Anything finished up?  It's going to be a great day, so let's get started with a lovely chat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


1. I want to dye my hair pink. Like shocking pink. But I think work might complain.

2. I am having this undying urge to start something new, and yet I resist.

3. I have several WIPs that I’m trying to get through, and I am surprisingly strong at resisting the urge to cast on another project.

4. This is an odd feeling for me, as I usually cast on like crazy and have multiple projects going on at once.

5. I am also in the baking mode – as in bake everything I have and could possibly ever want to eat.

6. This is not so unusual, as I usually get this way in the fall.

7. I’m incredibly tired and horribly out of shape (yet again).

8. This is mostly due to work, and I know that, and plan on starting soon to get back in shape.

9. I have an unending list of things to do, and feel like I can never make progress on them – ever feel that way?

10. I totally stole this idea from the Yarn Harlot, but I think she’ll forgive me.

11. We’re cool like that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finishing up something

I am near the end.  I am resisting the urge to cast on another project, knowing I have so many "in progress" already.  Here's the latest on my Skelf:

As you can see, I'm done now with the body.  Not too shabby for having to rip back as far as I did.  It really is a fast knit.  I'm picking up for the neck edging, and will hopefully get that done this weekend (if time allows).

I'm extraordinarily tired, and it's due to work (not anything else - don't get any ideas.  We're not there yet).  Work is incredibly stressful, which makes me tired.  If I can't sleep, I eat (my body is searching for energy).  I really need to get back into my diet and exercise routine, but it's just getting started.  That's always the main problem - getting started.  Part of me really wants to, while the other part wants to sit and knit and escape.  If I do start working out again, then I lose knitting time.  However, if I do work out, I gain some of that knitting time back in energy.  It's a delicate balance.  I just have to break the cycle of tiredness, and then I can get back into it.  It's slow, but it will come.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sundays Upside Down

I know it's been a bit quiet around here; not as quiet as it has been in the past, but quieter than I'd like it to be.  This week in particular has been extremely stressful.  Hubby hurt himself on Saturday, and then we had to run to Toccoa for a funeral on Monday.  Since he hurt himself, I spent most of the week basically as a single mom.  This meant that all housework, food prep, and most of taking care of the kids fell to me.  It wore me out, so this weekend we've laying low.

One of his aunts passed away on Friday, and the funeral was set for Monday.  Me, being the spouse of the relative, watched the kids during the funeral and at the family lunch.  I loved being around the family, even if it was for a sad reason.  However, one of the big things at a Southern funeral is the food.  This time, it was honestly not that good.  There was mediocre fried chicken, canned green beans (yuck) and no cornbread to be seen.  And this was from a Baptist church!  Honestly, it was sad.  Baptists usually have really good food, and this one was a complete disappointment.

Speaking of food, we're baking our way through some science and math.  Fractions and chemistry - easy peasy.  I chose 6 different chocolate chip cookie recipes, and we're slowly but surely baking through all of them.  Each week, we're making one dough, baking half of it, tasting it and writing down our observations.  We are currently in week #3, but I thought I'd go ahead and comment on the first 3 recipes we've made. Our first recipe was from Savory Sweet Life, and is entitled "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER," so you can see why it had to be first.  Here's the resulting cookies:

These cookies were good, but I don't know I would consider them "the best."  They were kind of thin, but good.  I should have spread them out a little farther, but all in all, a decent cookie.

The next one we baked, I chose, and it was Alton Brown's "The Chewy."  To me, these were actually the best, and I over-baked these.

These were definitely chewy, so they were soft (my favorite way for cookies to be).  They also puffed up, and gave good height to the cookie.  I didn't refrigerate the dough like I should have before baking, and so the normal baking time for them was actually a little long.  The interesting difference in this recipe is that you weigh the ingredients.  It makes for a more accurate measurement.

The one we just baked today was Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by the Brown Eyed Baker.  She put some measurements by weight, and others simply by volume.  These were #2 in my book; they baked up nicely, slightly crunchy on the outside, while retaining some softness on the inside.  They are very similar to cookies that you find in a bake shop, or coffee house.  They are meant to be big, and they really are.

We still have 4 more recipes to bake through (I found another one for a cast iron skillet and I think this one will be our last one, when we bake all the others).  Thanks to the ladies from the Luvinthemommyhood Summer Sweater Knit-a-long for all the recipes.  They were instrumental in helping me find them - each one of the recipes is a favorite of someone from that group.  Thanks so much ladies!

Knitting updates will be given more next week - pictures will abound!  And, as I leave you today, I just want this to be the last vision you have:

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Busy, busy

Well, it's been a busy week.  It's also been a busy day.  This morning, I canned my apple butter, folded 3 loads of laundry, cooked rice for lunch, fed my kids twice (and myself), and it's only 1 p.m.  I also cleaned the shower - I cleaned the sinks and toilets last night.  I've been incredibly busy today. It's been a good day.  I've also been working on Skelf, a little here and a little there.

I'm also going to decorate for Halloween today, or at least start them.  They take a while sometimes - inside and out.  I'd love to take a nap, and maybe I will get to that today as well.  In any case, the weather is cooling down and fall is on the way.  Hopefully I'll have a picture of Skelf soon - at least where I am on it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Keeping up

I have so much going on - where to start.  So I had to rip back on Skelf, and it's back to about here:

It's a little farther along than this one, but I did rip back to row 8 on the tree.  I also started on yet another Christmas gift - only 83 days left until Christmas! I know, I'm insane for even keeping track, but every year I feel like it sneaks up on me, and it's here before I know it.  So this year, I'm trying to keep track of it and work on Christmas a little each day.  I'm also working on Halloween early (already planned out my costume, which is rare because I hardly ever dress up since I'm the one at our house passing out candy while Hubby takes Little Man and this year Princess around) and Thanksgiving won't be a thrown together event either if all goes as planned.

We're on some austerity measures around here, which actually works out well for me.  I have TONS of stuff to work on already; I just need to work on it.  Not spending means not going anywhere and that means time to work on stuff.  We have a massive deep cleaning spree to take on, and staying at home helps.

In other news, we're homeschooling, and science is great.  We decided to start baking our way through science, and a little bit of math.  Fractions can be taught with baking, and science is fun when you get to eat your experiments.  This was actually week 2; week 1 resulted in this:

I chose 6 chocolate chip cookie recipes.  This was #1 and the results were good.  Little Man voted it a 10 out of 10.  I take that with a grain of salt, as it was the first batch we made.  We just made the second batch tonight, and we used a different recipe.  I'll post more about these later, as we do them. For now, we're just enjoying the end result.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Wrapping Up

So, technically, the KAL for Luvinthemommyhood ended yesterday. I had pretty ambitious goals for it, and here's where I am on my goals.

Goal #1: Big Blue Sweater for Little Man: Finished.  This one was the first sweater I wanted to make for my Little Man; and it turned out nicely.  It was actually easy, considering I was basically winging it.  I took some measurements, looked at a chart, followed a formula, and voila! a sweater for him.  I still have to add the stars to make it like the Coraline sweater, but all the knitting is done.

Goal #2: Finish Playful Stripes: Not Finished.  This one I had hoped would be easy enough - all I had was the yoke and button bands, seaming and finishing.  Then, when I went to put it together, it wasn't all I had hoped it would be.  I do plan on getting this finished before too much longer, if for no other reason than to wrap my Princess in some love.

Goal #3: Pink for myself: Frogged.  Skelf: Not Finished.  I tried, I really did.  I knit like a madwoman on this one, and still, no sweater finished.  I have 2 sleeves and a part of a body.  More up-to-date pictures will be made soon.  But, I learned a LOT of lessons while working on this sweater, and I think that may be more important than the actual sweater finishing itself.  Here are some lessons I learned about me and knitting while working on this one:

Lesson #1: Sometimes it's not you, it's the pattern.  No, really, no matter how hard I tried to make Pink work for me, it just wasn't.  So, I abandoned the pattern.  It's not that it was a bad pattern, but it didn't work for me.  It's like that one teacher in school that's a great teacher, but when you're in their class, everything is turned upside down and you would understand the lessons more if they were taught in Farsi than in English.  We've all had those teachers - really great, but the teaching style doesn't suit us.  Same thing here.

Lesson #2: It really does help to wash and dry your swatches.  It gives you a real sense of what the fabric will be like, and if you're going to go through all the trouble of making a gauge swatch to begin with, and also if you're going to go through all the trouble of making a sweater, you want it to fit.  Do it right.

Lesson #3: Pay attention to your pattern.  It sounds like it's a no-brainer, but the directions are usually very specific, and you need to read them very carefully.  Small words mean a lot: more, for example.  When a designer tells you to follow the directions 8 more times, it means 9 times total.  Don't just jump to conclusions.  Read carefully and thoroughly.  Several times.  You may miss something.

Lesson #4:  Find a pattern that teaches you new techniques.  I learned a couple on this sweater, like a tubular cast-on, and how to cable without a cable needle.  These are things I might never have learned on my own, but this sweater taught me those things, and I am a better knitter for it.

Lesson #5: Trust your instincts.  I think sometimes I rely too heavily on this pattern, but I say this for myself in the area of something's wrong.  Throughout this sweater, I sometimes followed blindly (and incorrectly) the pattern, and I should have gone off to a quiet secluded place and double checked myself.  Instead, I forged ahead, and created some issues, that now I have to fix.  I missed a couple of decreases for the waist shaping, and in doing so, threw off the yoke.  So, I had to rip back, like 2 skeins worth of knitting.  It was slightly painful, but in order to have the sweater right, and fit, I need to fix it.  I also tried to get out of not adding more rows in the waist section, but when I got to try on the sweater, it wasn't as long as I want it to be.  We're talking about 4-6 inches too short.  I should have trusted my gut and added the rows.  But I was worried about yarn.  If I have to, I can go get another skein.  Although it will be a different dye lot, it's another new skill I can add - mixing dye lots.

Lesson #6: There are some beautiful sweater patterns out there.  I now have a queue a mile long in Ravelry for sweaters.  Every now and again, I plan on simply seeing what's out there, what's new, and what's popular right now.  You can find the most amazing patterns from new designers that you've never even heard of or seen before, all by doing a random search.  Thank you, Ravelry.  My budget is now overdrawn for the next 10 years. :)

Lesson #7:  There are some amazing knitters out there.  When you start searching on sweater patterns, start looking at finished projects.  Some people keep meticulous notes on their projects, and you can really learn a lot about a pattern or designer, by reading the notes or comments on a pattern. You can also see if people have modified the pattern - like adding sleeves, or taking them out, scaling the pattern up or down, changing the button bands, etc.  Not only that, but I met some incredibly wonderful knitters through this knit-a-long.  These women are incredible, competent, fast, inspiring, warm, and just all around fantastic.  They freely share advice, help, encouragement, love, hugs, and terrific recipes. :)  I feel that I have grown as a knitter (and cook) by knowing these lovely ladies.  Their advice and support were incredibly helpful and I don't know if I could have made it through without them.  They gently pushed me through, and I finished.  There were times when I wanted to quit, thinking there was no way I'd make any sweater in the time given.  But I did.  This KAL taught me a lot more than I would have learned on my own.  So, to all the Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long, thanks.  You are wonderful, bright, and amazing.  I am better for knowing you.