Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

I have been working on the dragon hoodie.  In some respects, it seems to be going faster than before.  Maybe it is like going home from somewhere new, that always seems faster than going there because you didn't know the way.  The front still isn't close to being done. 

I think with a little blocking, things will lay flat and smooth.  I can kind of push and pull them that way now, so if I wet it and block it, it should be fine.  I think.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Adventures in Intarsia

The front for the dragon sweater has intarsia knitting in it.

This is my first real experience with this technique, and it's been a little more difficult than I had anticipated.  I have started it about 3 times now, and it is much better this time.  The biggest thing is having multiple skeins of yarn attached.  It makes for a large bundle when knitting, unlike socks.  But the effect is great.  There is no more pulling or puckering.  This is fabulous.  I am enjoying it now.  Adding more is better in this case.  It makes it easier (provided you keep all your strands straight) and the fabric comes out better.  It is surprisingly faster as well.  Have you tried it yet?

I think I may start trying a new technique once a quarter, just to broaden my knowledge base in knitting.  I also hope to start the Master Crocheter's course this year.  And if things go really well, I may even get to the Master Knitter's course.  That would take a miracle though I think.  This past year has not been so great, and I am hoping that this next year will be much better.  How about you?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Finishing the Year

All Christmas presents were finished on time, and now on to birthday presents.  I am behind on the kids' birthday sweaters - I missed this year completely.  I have all the supplies, but have lacked the time.  I am hoping to whip out 2 blue sweaters for Little Man, a hat/scarf/mittens set, and a dragon for his birthday.  I don't know if I can get it all done by the 19th, but I'm feverishly working on it.

The hard part for me is I am chasing down little things.  Like yesterday - I wasted about 2 hours looking for toy pieces instead of doing laundry and cooking and knitting.  I can't keep up with all the little pieces to all the new toys all three received for Christmas, and so I waste a lot of time.  I don't have storage, or a lot of storage room for them.  Hopefully the current place to store the new toys will be corrected by this weekend, and the storage room overall will be corrected this next year.

In 2015, Hubby and I set some goals and had a word for the year of "Intentional".  That worked well for us - it was the year we moved up here, put our house on the market (it technically sold this year), and changed our dynamic.  This year, we didn't do anything like that, and I think the year reflected it.  This coming year, in 2017, we are going to set more goals and use the word "Purposeful" for our focus.  There's a saying about reaching for the stars and not hitting them is more than most people do, and at least you are among them even if you don't reach the one for which you are aiming.  I could look it up and give you the exact quote, but it's late and you still get the point.  The new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh and be focused.  I already have some crafting goals in mind, as well as financial, business, and personal goals.  I will try to share them, and have you hold me accountable throughout the year.

Do you have big plans for next year?  Have you already thought about goals?  To be honest, growing up, I never did much for goalsetting.  It was an abstract concept and I usually knew what I wanted or where I wanted to go, and just worked for it.  Most of those goals also were not very long term goals.  This stage of my life is different though.  I have goals that take longer than a few weeks to reach.  It may take me years to reach some of them (yarn shop!) but working towards it is a daily, weekly, monthly set of steps to take.  Writing them down and keeping them in focus is important, as it helps me not be sidetracked.  How about you?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Crafting for home

I think I have had a revelation this week.  I have been trying to work frantically on items for Christmas, and have made some progress, only to have it undone because I didn't double check.  Eh, such is life.  So I will have to knit a little longer.  But here is what I have started thinking about - instead of trying to start a business, or work on a business, while homeschooling and trying to live with my in-laws, I should start working on my home.

About 20 lifetimes ago (or what seems like 20 lifetimes), I received a copy of a pattern book for a quilt with cross stitch squares.  At my ambitious 16 year old level, I decided that I was making that quilt before I got married.  Yeah, that didn't work out quite the way I thought.  I still have that pattern, and all the materials to make it.  Or at least make the blocks.  The rest of the quilt needs to be purchased, but if I can get all the cross stitch squares made, I'll be doing good.

I also started this quilt earlier this year.

I have most of the blocks cut, and am hand sewing them.  I am not using a machine, not to be old fashioned, although I like that idea, but mainly because my sewing machine doesn't work well and getting one out that does work well is too much trouble.  I have this picture in my head of a large basket full of handmade blankets under a table in my house.  I love the idea, and plan on this next year working towards that.  I have tons of yarn to knit or crochet a few, and I also want to use up a good bit of my stash, if I can find it.  Working through all the stuff we have in storage is a large job, and one that I need to devote more time to, if I can get some assistance.  Unfortunately, that assistance isn't always easy to come by.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Oh wow

This past week has been filled with...well, let's just say it's been full.  Nothing major here on the homefront, but since Tuesday everyone has been tense.  Wednesday provided even more tension, and it continues.  I am not a horribly political person.  Don't get me wrong - I care.  I vote.  However, I have never been one of these who watches with bated breath any speeches, addresses, or takes a proactive role as a citizen, other than voting.  I will voice my opinion when asked, but usually keep it to myself, as I have friends of all leanings and I like to keep it that way.

The thing that shocks me the most is the complete shock of everyone.  No one has ever seen the underdog take the lead?  Isn't that where most great stories get their plot?  I am not comparing Donald Trump to a superhero, make no mistake.  However, this should teach everyone a lesson about the media that we all say, but few really believe.  You can't believe everything you hear.  Did we all forget that lesson?  I guess we did.

Something that bothers me is how much people are bemoaning this whole situation.  I see so many people on social media lamenting the choice that was made.  More than that though, I see people fearmongering the whole thing.  As if in 4 years under one man's leadership will turn the clock back 200 years and start slavery again, take the vote away from women, and stop people from expressing themselves.  That is a bit extreme.  Do we want unjust, devisive attitudes to end?  Of course we do - but that includes the devisive unjust attitude that he will be a poor leader.  Do we want to quell the freedoms that we have so richly enjoyed to end?  Of course not - but that includes allowing everyone to express their opinions as we express ours.

I just got through with a discussion on Facebook with a friend about racism and people expressing it.  His point was that racism is wrong, and cannot and should not be trivialized, as if it were no more than a flavor of ice cream.  I agree with him.  Racism is wrong on multiple levels.  However, my point was that the freedom of speech that is in the Constitution and has been defended throughout our nation's history includes those who would express such sentiments.  Unless it encroaches on another's rights, or endangers them, then those who are narrow-minded and unjust have the right to say it and make known their idiocy.  I wholeheartedly agree that you should treat others as you wish to be treated, and that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all (which is the main reason I keep my mouth shut a lot of times).  However, not everyone follows these rules all the time.  Do you?  I know I don't, despite my best efforts.  Sometimes I get angry and say something I shouldn't.  Sometimes I don't put myself in someone else's shoes and I do something I shouldn't.  That's being human.  But those people who say inherently mean things to others still have that right.  They do not have the right to harm them, or harass them, but they do have the right to hold an opinion and express it, and should be able to do so without fear of some police force breaking in and putting them in jail.  To do so then inhibits all our freedom of speech.  Once you start with "no racism" speech, then it becomes "no sexism", "no ageist", "no anti-anything" speech.  It is a slippery slope once you start down that road.  I am still not defending the attitude or the actions that usually accompany it, but I am defending the right of everyone to be able to speak their mind, as we all do, whether anyone else agrees with us or not.

And you know what?  Silencing them isn't going to stop their attitude.  All that does is breed hate and resentment, knowing they cannot express their feelings.  This is how shocking things happen, like Columbine.  Instead, we should have a dialogue.  Don't rail against those negative attitudes - instead, ask why.  Why does that person feel that way?  What caused them to think that about a group of people?  Sometimes what people really want is some attention and some understanding.  I'm not advocating a "touchy-feely, everything is permissible" environment, but I do think sometimes just as a small child will pitch a fit in a store, sometimes we get so busy we ignore people and signs of cries for help.  On Facebook, it's called "trolling" - when you say something to get a rise out of someone and see who will take the bait.  In my day (man, that makes me sound old), it was called "being stupid" and usually got you punished by your parents (in my case, that was a spanking).  But now we are surrounded by so many things reaching for our attention, we don't focus on the people around us, but the technology.  And at the end of the day, everyone just really wants a bit of attention from someone else (I have seen a lot of behavioral issues in children dissapate when someone pays them more attention and makes them feel important - I think adults would respond *mostly* the same way).

As for the election, we all can agree that the system doesn't work the way we'd like.  Pitting "us" against "them" isn't going to solve any problem.  Realizing that is the biggest solution.  Was either candidate perfect?  Not hardly.  Personally, watching the campaign trails was like watching a farcical satire of our political system.  I thought only a playwright could create such caricatures of people - but it looks like we as a nation can create them as well.

Let me just say - I did vote, but I did not vote for either major candidate.  Therefore, I have nothing in this fight.  The Yarn Harlot wrote a post here about this and I think she is right - realize that just because someone voted for one candidate or the other doesn't mean they agree with everything the candidate said.  Maybe it was one issue that a person voted their conscience on and couldn't imagine voting a different way.  Maybe someone voted simply in hopes that history would be made (it was, no matter which direction you voted - unless you voted for a third party).  Maybe it was along party lines (there are still those who will only vote for a certain party, unless the candidate isn't viable to them, in which case they don't vote at all - I know of at least one person like this).  The point is that instead of blaming or bemoaning the way things turned out, make your world a better place and not wait on the POTUS or the government to do it for you.  Reach out to someone in need.  Show love and mercy to all you meet.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  Stop blaming and screaming bloody murder, and speak kind words.  And if you can't think of any, then just don't say anything at all.

On the knitting front, I have almost completed one Christmas gift.

The pictures weren't great, as they were inside.  It's getting chilly these days!  I love it.  The cable needs to be stretched out a bit on these, but I like it.  The yarn is English Ivy by Sweet Georgia Yarns, in Tough Love Sock and the pattern is based on Sea Wall from the Cascadia book by Tin Can Knits. 

Once I am done with this pair, I have 2 more pair to knit up and a vest to make.  I may make a 3rd pair of socks, but we'll see how timing goes.  I hope to get each of the other 2 pairs done in a week each (super fast knitting!) and the vest I hope will get done this weekend, or shortly thereafter.  I was hoping to get some sweaters done for the kiddos, but I don't know if I will have time to get them done as well.  If not, the sweaters will follow just after Christmas for them.  It is already getting cooler and we may be in for a colder winter.  Have you made enough to bundle up in, or are you still working on your woolies? 

Friday, November 04, 2016

Moving along slowly

I really want to spend my time doing nothing but crafts.  Unfortunately, my little ones are not yet self-sufficient for me to spend as much time as I would like doing that.  And that's okay, because these days will fly by all too quickly.  I started on the front of Little Man's sweater, and I think I am getting the hang of the intarsia.  I lock the grey yarn around the blue yarn one stitch on either side of the design.  It seems to be working to keep holes from showing up.  It also helps keep the yarn loose enough that it doesn't pull.

The socks are also coming along well.  I have finished the leg and heel flap of the first sock, have turned the heel, and am now decreasing the gusset.  I also tried them on my sock sizer, and they fit well too.  I think he was a bit jealous, as he asked if they were for him.  Little does he know that I have some yarn waiting in the wings for him for Christmas.

I am also trying to look forward and prepare for this month a little along.  I have some things happening at church this month, and next, and am trying to plan things out so everything gets done with plenty of time.  The only thing I am behind on is food at the moment.  I had hoped to get some baking done before now for the 13th, and only have one thing done.  I still have more time to finish up, but I don't want to be in a hurry.

Sorry for the lack of pictures today.  The past week has been horribly busy, which has made me horribly tired, and sometimes I can't get it all together.  Next time I promise!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Patterns to update

I just started looking at some old patterns that I had written, and realized that all I really need to do is clean them up a bit, put in some good pictures of the finished objects, and then I can make them PDF files and upload them to Ravelry for sale.  Not too shabby, really.  I also have to find the finished objects to take pictures.  Or, I could just follow my own directions and make those items again and test my own patterns.  That might work too.  And since I'd be working on designing, I might get inspired to design a few more things, and write better patterns.  There - now I have a goal for next year.  I wish I had time to do it this year, but unless I stopped cooking and cleaning and sleeping and taking showers, I don't think I'll have time to do that plus all the stuff for Christmas and daily things.  But then again, who really needs sleep? *grin*.  Here is a picture of the back of Little Man's sweater:

I have actually finished this, and started on the front.  I also have made a little progress on the socks.  It is slow going, as I don't make as much time as I should to knit.  I am going to have to change that, as the holidays are quickly approaching and time is running out.  If I don't make more time, the gifts won't get done.

Speaking of gifts, I have been racking my brain about what to do for my father. I have made him gifts in past, but I never get any feedback.  I wish he would tell me that things worked or didn't work for him, but I don't hear anything.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Should I continue to make him something, or just buy him something?  I know some of you don't knit for gifts for the holidays, but I am at a loss for him.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Happy Halloween!

I finished the poncho on Tuesday, except for the details.

I have to weave in the ends and add buttons, but one Christmas present done!  Other progress to be shown:

Little Man's birthday sweater back.  I have done the shaping for the armholes, and am working towards the neck and shoulder shaping.  It has been a long time since I did a sweater in pieces.  I like the speed that you feel like you make once you make it so far on one piece.  Then you realize that you have another half to do, plus the sleeves, and suddenly you don't feel so great anymore. *grins*

Ah, the Christmas socks for my brother.  I don't know that this comes through very well, but the color is English Ivy from Sweet Georgia Yarns.  It's in their Tough Love Sock yarn, and I love the rich green color.  The patter I am using is Sea Wall from the Cascadia book, but I have modified it.  The pattern originally calls for a 1x1 ribbing all around the sock.  I don't think my brain can handle that much right now, so I made the back of the sock stockinette and kept the cable.  It's much faster for me, and my brain can handle it.

There are more socks to make for Christmas, but for now, these are the ones on the needles.  I have at least 2 other pairs, and a vest, so hopefully I can whip them out in the next few weeks.  At least one of the pairs of socks will be plain, so that will be easy and fast.

Life is crazy at this time of year, but I hope you make time for yourself and your loved ones.  Enjoy the season and the beautiful weather.  Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Crochet, my first love

I learned to crochet ages ago, when I was about 8.  My mother handed me a book, some yarn, and a hook, and I proceeded to read the directions and teach myself.  I haven't always crocheted; I had a time when embroidery was my thing.  Mostly that was due to a lack of access to yarn and patterns.  What 10 year old wants to crochet a baby blanket with whatever acrylic yarn could be found at a big box store?  I didn't want a large project like a blanket, I wasn't going to have a baby at 10, and the patterns all were rather boring.  Fast forward about 13 years, and I started looking at sweaters in stores.  I loved the knitted fabric, and couldn't stand to pay the prices for them.  I could make one, I thought, if I only knew how to knit.  I had taught myself to crochet, so surely I could teach myself to knit.  And I did.  But I still love crochet.  There is something immensely therapeutic and meditative about the rhythmic hook and twist motions.  I have since discovered better yarns, and worked on a larger hook, they drape very nicely.

This is the poncho for the Princess for Christmas.  It is missing the collar, which has been terribly troublesome.  I love the way this looks and feels.  I used a worsted weight yarn, and an H hook, which is normally big for that weight of yarn.

The yarn is Encore, and it's nice.  I know it's relatively cheap, and that is partly the point.  The poncho is not only seasonal, but also a fashion piece.  And it's for a child who is growing like a weed.

I splurged a bit more on the birthday sweater for Little Man.

This one is Cascade 220.  I like traditional workhorse yarns for the kids' sweaters.  It helps them hold up.  Not that my kids are rough on clothes...they really aren't.  Staying at home most of the time provides that luxury of not usually having worn out knees or elbows.

Speaking of yarns, I think I would like to start a new endeavor.  There are a lot of farms up this way, and I know of a couple of alpaca farms.   I need to see if there is a mill up this way, and see what I can work together.  It might be fun to create a new yarn.  If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crochet and more

I am feverishly working on Christmas and Etsy store items.  What Christmas and Etsy store items, you ask?

This is my own design, for an earbud case. I have several colors, and all will be listed soon (like in the next 2 days or so).  I am also working more on this project:

This is the front and the beginning of the back of the Little Girl's Poncho pattern from the Crochet Winter 2016 magazine.  The magazine is from the Crochet Guild of America, which I joined this year.  I am surprised that this project is not in Ravelry.  I will add it, in my notebook, but I'm not sure that any of the Crochet magazine patterns have been added, which is a shame.

I hope to get the Master Crocheter's program, and get that going just after the holidays.  I would also like to start a crochet guild up where I am, as it appears there are lots of crafters around, but no guilds.  It's not like you have to have one; most of us crafters do just fine on our own.  However, it would be nice to see the demographics from around the area.

I finished the Speckled Scarf from Purl Soho yesterday, and had a model for it.   I'm a bit biased, but I think she's one of the most beautiful models in the world.  She also wanted to knit, and tried desperately with needles and yarn, but wound up drumming with the needles instead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Making more with less

I am in a mode to use what I have, and use it up quickly.  I want several items finished by Christmas, but realizing that I still have to cook (because my littles like to eat multiple times a day), clean (because after a while the bathroom really does start to smell), run laundry (no one likes smelly, dirty clothes), and other necessary activities, I may not be able to get all the projects done by then.  So, some of it will take some planning and re-thinking.  First off, this one may not be done:

I have it started, and have found that I need another skein.  I can get it, so that is not a problem.  I think it might even be the same dye lot (praise be).  I'm going to work on it still, but I have a back up plan for all the kiddos - hats and mittens.  There is nothing better than a warm wool hat and mittens for the cold weather.  I know I have enough for 2 of the 3, and I think once I am done with one gift, I will have the yarn for the 3rd one.  I have also started this project:

The front is done, and the back is on its way.  I still have to finish the Speckled Scarf, and am winding that one down as well.  I will probably have enough left to make another one, which will be after the first of the year.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Craft for thought

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed; crochet is getting better.  Really – the patterns are getting MUCH better.  I fully support looking at a craft in a new light and exploring the options it holds.  I believe Stephanie Pearl-McPhee said something to the effect that every skein of yarn holds infinite potential (I’m paraphrasing here, so bear with me).  But the idea is this – each skein of yarn can be something, anything, that you want it to be.  Whether it’s knit or crochet, lovely and light or thick and heavy, it’s destiny is up to you, the maker.  Using thinner yarn and a large hook, crochet can be lovely and lacy, like a halo waiting to grace the top of an angel.  Using a thicker yarn and a smaller hook, crochet can be thick and armor-like, ready to face a winter in Antarctica.  You can make the same pattern twice, and have two completely different items.  The same generally holds true for knitting, but knitting is usually less armor-like as the stitches are thinner by nature.  There are items that work better in knitting, and some that work better in crochet. 

I wax on about crochet, because I don’t think it gets its proper respect.  I think a lot of people (crocheters included) hold crochet in an inferior position to knitting.  It’s not better or worse; it’s simply different.  It has different uses.  Think of it like a fork versus a spoon.  You can’t say one is better than another, but you can say one is better at a task than the other.  A fork works better with steak; a spoon works better with soup.  You can eat soup with a fork, although it’s ill-advised and horribly messy, and you can eat steak with a soup, but it’s an awful lot of work. 

The reason I say that even crocheters hold crochet to be inferior is because I’ve watched how crocheters react to nicer yarns or to paying for patterns or taking classes.  Some of what I’ve witnessed is limited, but I have friends who work in yarn shops, and they relay back to me some of the attitudes and actions of these crafters.  I am sad that people who crochet don’t think their craft is worthy of the best they can afford – they only want cheap.  Now, I am all about saving money, and getting a great value for what you do spend, but I also know you get what you pay for.  I’ve used (and still do) all kinds of yarn – from alpaca to wool to mohair to angora to acrylic to nylon – whatever works best for the pattern and project.  For example, there are lovely sock yarns out there, and you can make BEAUTIFUL things in knit or crochet with them.  You can actually make more substantial garments with crochet from sock yarn than you can with knit.  Why?  The stitches are thicker.  Don’t discount yourself just because you want to make only blankets.  Make a blanket out of lovely wool sock yarn – it’s not scratchy!  And it’s super durable – think about the pounding your socks take on a daily basis.  Do you really think that’s less than what a blanket would get?

Take a class!  I say this not because I teach (although I will admit some of my encouragement comes from that side, but not as you think – more on that later), but because it’s fun.  Learning something new helps your brain function better.  You stave off mental diseases and have a sense of accomplishment.  Having someone to guide you through a new craft or technique gives you a resource right there to ask if you don’t understand.  My encouragement from the teaching perspective is not for the money of it – that’s nice, but that’s not really why I teach.  If that was the only reason I taught, trust me – I wouldn’t teach!  I don’t get paid nearly enough to sustain me, even if I could teach every day all day long.  I encourage people to take classes because I enjoy teaching.  Really – I do.  I love explaining something to someone, having them try it, and watching as the light bulb turns on for them and they “get it.”  This is exciting to me.  It thrills me.  I get a rush of adrenaline when I can do it.  I love treating my students as well.  Usually when I teach, I bring my students gifts (generally food of some sort).  It’s my pleasure and privilege to teach.  I love having a good time, and teaching to me is like throwing a party.  I get to meet new people, learn about them, have them learn about me, and we eat and have a good time.  Ask someone who’s taken a class with me before.  I love each and every one of my students.  I don’t do it just for the money.  As a matter of fact, I’d even do it for free (and have before), but when you pay, you give more attention.  You have something invested instead of just your time.  Think about when you were in school – you just really wanted to play outside and rarely cared what the teacher was saying when you were 10, did you?  Think about if you had to work a paper route, save your money, and then go to school.  Even at 10, you’d think differently about school.  Most college students don’t think twice about it, but as an older adult who’s gone back to school, I see how most college students waste their time because (for some) they don’t pay for it.  Their parents, or loans, or the state does.  If you have to work and scrimp and save to go, and no one foots the bill for you, you are usually a more serious student.  Same principle here – if you don’t pay, you probably wouldn’t even bother showing up or paying attention.  But paying means you WANT to be there, and you WANT to learn.  So, I say, take classes. 

I hear from a lot of knitters that they just don’t “get” crochet.  It doesn’t “work” for them.  I think that’s a cop-out.  You can – it just takes more work on the front end.  It’s new, and it’s different.  It uses different motions.  Think of it like this: crocheting is like driving a car, and knitting is like riding a bicycle.  Both are modes of transportation, and one can go faster than the other, but one takes more experience and you have to work a little harder at it.  I know I’m going to make someone mad with that, but it is what it is.  Knitting goes slower – the stitches are smaller, it takes less yarn, it uses two needles, and there are TONS of patterns out there for it.  Crochet goes faster – the stitches are thicker, it takes about 30% more yarn, it uses one hook, and there are still TONS of patterns out there for it, but not all of them are good.  There, I said it.  There are BAD patterns in crochet.  And there are a lot of them.  But I’m telling you – sift through.  Get specific on Ravelry with your searches, and you will find lovely crochet patterns.  TRY THEM.  Don’t be afraid – you can rip back.  And you know what?  Unlike knitting, when you rip back, you don’t have to rip back the whole thing and then pick up a whole bunch of stitches.  You only work one stitch at a time, so you only have to pick up one stitch.  Easier! 

I know a lot of crocheters don’t like to pay for patterns.  Why?  Do you think it took the designer any less time to work on it?  It didn’t – as a designer, I know what goes into pattern making.  There’s a lot of work that goes on.  You should seriously support the designers.  Don’t just scour the internet looking for a “free” pattern and then use it instead.  Again, I wholeheartedly agree that we all have to watch our budgets and carefully consider our purchases, but look at it this way: if you spent $5 on a pattern and made it twice, then the pattern cost for each item is only $2.50.  You spent WAY more than that in time making the item than you did buying it.  Even if you only made one of the item, you still spent more than $5 of labor (unless you would only pay yourself $.05 per hour to crochet or knit something) to make it.  I currently have no patterns for sale, so by advocating for purchasing patterns, I make no profit.  I have no ulterior motive for this one.  I have several patterns in my favorites that I will pay for, when I get ready to make them.  Like you, my budget can only stretch so far, and I have to carefully weigh my purchases, so I usually don’t purchase a pattern online until I’m ready to use it.  I know that a magazine is a “better value” for patterns, but I have also heard that designers don’t get nearly enough from a publication to make it worth it, other than the publicity.  I will make the disclaimer that the previous sentence is all hearsay.  I have not had a magazine publish a design, so I don’t know how they pay designers.  I will say however, that many people are self-publishing patterns now, because magazine or periodicals aren’t purchased like they once were, and the submission requirements are usually tougher, and it can be difficult to get a pattern published.  So, people skip the middleman and publish them personally.  It’s not hard to do, and it can get someone’s work out much quicker than going through someone else. 

So, here’s my goal for the next 6 months: I want to create some classes to help you learn to crochet or knit.  Let me know what you want to learn.  Is it simply a matter of practice?   Is there a technique you want to learn?  Is there some burning question that you’re just dying to ask?  What about sweaters in crochet?  Or combining knitting and crochet?  What about just the basics?  Need some practice ideas?  Have trouble with tension and need help getting that under control?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Long time, few knits

I have been knitting, but everything I have been knitting has been going awry.  Ever have that?  Some of it is my fault, I know.  I'm either not paying close enough attention, or I'm not doing the math beforehand.  I recently purchased this pattern:

It's the Weekend Wrap by Cocoknits.  It is a fast knit, provided that you knit it according to the pattern.  Because I can't leave well enough alone, I haven't been knitting it from the pattern.  I started to, but when I tried it on, it wasn't as long as I wanted or as wide as I wanted.  So, I increased the stitch count and row count (given in inches).  Since I was halfway through it, it has been taking longer.  I had to take it all out, and then start all over.  And then I found a hole.  Then after the armhole my stitch count was incorrect.  So, it is a simple and wonderful pattern.  I just kept screwing it up.  I plan on doing this again, actually, as a Christmas gift.  There are so many projects I want to do, but I find that I have seemingly less time now than ever.  I think because I don't make time anymore.  I always wait until I'm done for the day, but I'm never really done for the day.  It's the curse of being a stay at home mom.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The things we do

It never ceases to amaze me at what I will agree to when one of my children is involved.  My middle child, ever the girly girl and on the go, wanted a blanket for her dolls.  I had been gifted some acrylic yarn, and thought this would be a perfect use for it.  I have a pink, yellow and eggshell color that is from the 1970's.  I plan on making the blanket pink (because what other color is there?) with white daisies.  A pillow has been requested as well, and another blanket for the guest dolls.  Yes, this doll has a guest bed in her house and her friends sleep over all the time.  Five year olds have great imaginations.  I hope to finish this and my sock while hubby has surgery and doctor appointments in the next couple of days.  He is going for the first cataract surgery tomorrow, and the second will be in a couple of weeks.  Positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

August is called the "dog days" of Summer.  It is usually hot, and with nothing to celebrate, the heat makes the days drag.  I am trying to take full advantage of it, by trying to complete something.  I have a sock and a half, and hope to finish it within a day or so.  The sooner I am done with it, the sooner I can move on to another project. 

The front of my sweater is done, but I need to get started on the back.  Then I have the mittens for Christmas, at least 2 pairs of socks for Christmas, and the birthday sweaters to do.  Think I can get it all done?  Yeah, I don't think so either, at least not this year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


I have been thinking about my projects, current and past, and the ones I want to attempt in the future.  I have 3 currently in progress, meaning that I'm actually knitting on them actively.  The first is the My Cup of Tea socks, which I tried on last night and they are a bit tight.  Which means that I will probably rip them out and just knit a pair of plain socks for myself.  I could possibly adjust the pattern with some math, but the pattern won't stick in my brain for whatever reason, meaning that I have to keep a piece of paper in front of me.  That sort of defeats the purpose have having traveling knitting.  I want something that I can memorize or I don't have to think about and can pull out at a moment's notice to work on.  I may just "create" my own pattern - use a simple stitch repeat like the Bee Stitch and just get going.  I like something that I can stick in my purse and pull out when I have a spare moment.

I have fewer and fewer of those these days, as I am becoming my husband's personal assistant.  It's not really all that bad - he is just having a lot of doctor's appointments and I am the one who has to coordinate them all within his work schedule.  He's having cataract surgery in August, which is rough because he has to have them one at a time and each eye requires a week off of work.  Most people don't think that's a big deal, but it is when you don't have sick time or vacation, and if you don't work, you don't get paid.  We have to carefully orchestrate everything, and I get to be the conductor.  It's not as exciting as it sounds, I promise.

My 12 Days of Christmas garland got sidetracked, because the color combination wasn't quite what I wanted.  I got about 2/3rds done, and didn't like it.  Fortunately, it's small, so it wasn't that much work.

My sweater is still in progress, but working on the other 2 things means the sweater goes for TV knitting.  And since I haven't been watching much TV these days, there's not much progress on it.  I have split it for the front and back, and am working now on the front.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Midway through

I am just over halfway done with the purple sweater again.

This picture of the first time around is close to where I currently am on it - although the bottom does not curl like it does here.  That should have been my first clue, and at least part of this could have been avoided.  

My Cup of Tea socks are coming along - I'm almost to the heel of the first sock.  These are going slowly, since I'm only working on them for a couple of hours on Tuesdays.  Surprisingly, with the help of a handy little sticky flag, I make few mistakes and remember where I am in the pattern.

I am planning a couple of new things to knit, if I can make my fingers work faster.  First up is this:


I'm trading out sport weight for the fingering it calls for, which will probably make them a little larger, but so much the better.  This is going to be a knit-a-long, not just online, but also through Bumbleberry.  Several of us who go on Tuesday afternoons are planning on knitting these mittens together.  I'm looking forward to it.  

I also think I have a couple of girly sweaters in my head as I have missed birthday sweaters this year.  I picked up some Eco+ in pink yesterday (on sale!) and I think the Littlest Princess will get that.  Princess will get a cardigan from pink and steel grey Sublime I already have.  I'm dying to use it up, as it's really pretty and I don't want it to go to waste.  I still have to work on Little Man's birthday sweater.  I haven't really started even looking at the translation of the pattern yet.  But all things in due time.

I'm already thinking ahead to Christmas as well.  I think I have 3 people down - socks for them.  There is a fourth who might get socks - I don't get any feedback from him on these things so I'm not sure how much he uses or appreciates them.  I think I'm going to do plain vanilla socks for everyone.  First of all, they are easy to knit.  Rather boring, true, but also easy while watching TV or talking.  Having a pattern distracts and if I keep it simple, they won't get messed up.  Also, they go fast because there is no pattern on the sock.  The simple pattern, or lack thereof, also lets me pick a really beautiful yarn to showcase.  I can probably knit a pair of plain vanilla socks in a couple of weeks.  This is great for time saving.

How about you?  Are you already planning ahead for the holidays?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Cardigan?

I am not known for cardigans.  I don't think I've ever really had one.  I can't remember having any in high school or college, and now I've knit the body of one.

The picture is courtesy of Little Man (I think this next year we'll do more in photography with him in art, and you may see more of his photos).  It hangs low enough, and seems to be big enough around, before the collar.  Also, here's the purple sweater:

I am on the first new skein, having knit the first 2 of 4 from the body.  I will alternate the old and new skeins for length.  I may get by with only one, but I have an extra just in case.  I thought there were 3 skeins left, but I must have used 8 skeins instead of 7, so there were only 2 extra.  That's okay - I think I can still make it.  Here's the other project I've been working on:

It's My Cup of Tea socks.  I'm using my birthday yarn, Madelinetosh sock in Wilted Rose (hubby knows how to pick good yarn).  These are going slowly, mainly because I only knit them on Tuesday afternoons while at the local yarn shop.  The yarn came from there, and I feel weird about using yarn bought elsewhere when I'm in the shop.

Do you have those kinds of reservations?  I never had an issue where I used to live - I bought a good bit from The Whole Nine Yarns, since I had more money, and it was about 5 minutes from my house.  It was so easy to drive by there on a Saturday and stop in or head over there on Tuesday night and pick up something.  And I did, frequently.  So knitting with something I bought there wasn't a problem.  I usually wanted to knit on the yarn I had just bought anyway.

The yarn shop that's closest isn't that close.  It's a good 30 minutes away, in another town, and it's not as convenient.  And then there's the issue of money.  We have a LOT less.  Like one third of what we had before.  Granted, we no longer have a house payment, but still - it takes a lot of money to support 3 children and 2 adults.  If you had a reduction of your income by two thirds, you'd spend less too, mainly because it just isn't there to spend.  I'm a huge believer in using what you have too, so that's not a complaint, just an observation.  Hubby has bought me a lot of yarn over a couple of Christmases, so I have a large stash, and I like working from it.  Hence the purple sweater.  But I didn't get that yarn at that store, so I feel odd knitting on it there even though it would be the easiest to knit with a group.  And the group here is MUCH smaller than at TWNY.  And I mean MUCH.  This group averages about 5-6 a week, where TWNY averaged about 15-20 each week.  Hey, another third.  In any event, I haven't had the resources to purchase from Bumbleberry (the local shop) like I have The Whole Nine Yarns.  So I try to use what I buy from there, to knit there.  Those projects go slowly, but that's not all bad.  It's actually kind of nice.  How about you?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Back to the beginning

I'm back at the beginning of the sweater.  I had left about 3 rows intact, only to find it got twisted.  So, out it went and I started ALL OVER again.  Seriously.  However, the bottom now does not roll.

This picture from MARCH shows about where I am now.  If I work really hard, I might get this done in about 4-6 more weeks.  Ugh.  But I do enjoy the plain knitting.  It's wonderfully cathartic to me.  It seems that when I have something like this, life starts to get crazy, driving me to knit more.  It works.  When I pick a complicated project, life still gets crazy, and then the knitting drives me crazy, and it's a bad spiral.

I have been looking at shawls, which is odd, since most of the ones I have made are much shorter than I'd like them to be, and so I don't wear them as much as I would like.  I keep looking though.  I guess I think that it's the patterns that I choose, or the yarns.  Oh, and I still have to finish Iced.  I should seriously finish it, and I will, as soon as I finish this sweater.  I think.  Maybe.  Okay, once I feel like knitting on large needles, I will.  And I just might tonight.  What are you knitting?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Forward and backward

I took some pictures, but not quite like what I had hoped.  I honestly forgot to take pictures until I had already started taking out the sleeve.

It fits, but it's too short, the bottom rolls, the neckline is too wide and gaps, and the sleeves are a bit snug.  It sounds like there's so many problems, but the exciting thing is that it fits in the right places.  You have no idea how exciting that is.  I do know that I could just take out the sleeves, undo the neck, and fix that, and then pick out the bottom and add some length.  Instead, I took the longer route.  I undid basically the whole thing.  I left 2 rows on the bottom.  I know, it sounds insane.  And I know it's the harder road.  However, I enjoyed the knitting.  I enjoyed the endless miles of stockinette.  It was great mindless knitting.  It was terrific for watching TV and watching the kids outside.  So, I did it.

I finished the Multnomah shawl.

I haven't blocked it yet, because I'm having issues with it.  All the shawls I make turn out too short.  I keep hoping they will be longer, and I keep hoping in vain.  Maybe the next one I make I need to make out of bulky yarn and double it.  Or maybe it's the patterns I'm using.  Do you have a suggestion?

Friday, May 13, 2016

All excited

I live in a small rural town these days, and there's not much here, especially when it comes to food.  Those of you who know me, know I love good food.  We have exactly 2 Mexican restaurants and 4 Asian restaurants in our town.  Two of those Asian restaurants are "Chinese", one is "Japanese" and one just claims to be Asian.  I use quotes because they are American versions of ethnic food.  So, I have been on a search for ethnic recipes.  I found a knish recipe and made up my own filling.  It's not too bad.  I think the filling still needs some work though.

It's almost summer, and that means sweet tea.  We have some mint plants, and if you want them to be healthy, you have to pull some mint leaves off every now and again.  What to do with them?  Brew them with your tea!  I started cold brewing some iced tea with mint leaves, and then adding a simple syrup for a sweetener.  It's wonderful!  I'm going to attempt some other tea with spearmint and chocolate mint!

I am sure this keeps growing, as the ball of yarn does get smaller, but it feels like it takes forever.  I know a lot of that is the length of the rows currently.  The pattern (found here) says to do 10 repeats.  I still had a good chunk of yarn left, and I don't want that much leftover.  So I'm currently working on repeat #11.  I think I can get at least one or two, possibly 3, more repeats, and still have enough to bind off.  I am attempting to finish things that I have already started.  I still have to start a birthday sweater but I'm lazy this year.

I have found that if I get up earlier and get moving, not only can I get more accomplished in the day, but I have more energy.  I guess it's that whole principle of "an object in motion stays in motion" in play.

Summer is just around the corner!  As a matter of fact, today is the last day for the kiddos' school.  Then it's summer vacation time.  Oh summer - the plans I have for you.  How are your plans going?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Almost all better

I am almost over my cold.  That's good.  The shawl is not moving as quickly as I'd like, which is bad, and I'm also about to embark on a new project.

I received a lovely skein of MadelineTosh sock in Wilted Rose for my birthday, and since I am still recuperating, I think I need a little "me" knitting.

To be honest, I have knit more for myself this year than ever.  I have also broken more needles than ever this year.  I don't know that it's a coincidence or just a bit of bad luck.  It doesn't happen on every project, and it's not only on the projects that are for me.  I think it's more just about time I broke a couple of needles.  I think I'm up to 3 or 4 now in the past 10 months.  I have another birthday sweater to knit as well, and I have more than enough yarn for it, but no pattern.  I think I may wing it.

My apologies for the terrible pictures - I was lazy and didn't want to go outside (flaring of allergies with the remnants of a cold don't mix well). Indoor lighting isn't as good as outdoor.

In other news, I have at least one new project to start this summer.  Jolie posted something about Amish puzzle balls, and since I have a toddler who loves to be kept busy, I think it will work well.  I can add it into a busy box for the fall while the older two children do schoolwork.  It's going to be a busy summer.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Then it hit me

I finished the sweater, I washed it, and blocked it.  I even wore it.  I discovered something - it's shorter than I want, and the modification I did to the neckline stretches it out even more which is a problem since I don't want to wear a tank under it.  It does fit, which is lovely.  I just need it to be longer and I need the bottom to not curl.  Neither of these things will be corrected by hanging it, so it looks like I have to undo most of it and re-knit it.  And that is rather discouraging.  I would have taken pictures, but as I finished the sweater, I started getting sick.  Not horribly so, as a matter of fact, I thought it was just a sinus thing.  And then it hit me.  It's worse than a sinus thing.  I can handle those - I have them often.  This is a cold, and quite frankly, I don't get those often.  When I do, they manage to hit me a bit harder than expected (probably because I expect them to be a sinus issue and it's worse than that so I don't prep enough).  In any case, I'm about halfway done - I have gotten over the sneezy, nose drippy part, and am on to the "I can't breathe out of my nose" part.  So I should be about halfway done.  I think.  It has definitely slowed me down and I haven't taken pictures yet of the sweater that must be redone.  Once I am better, I will take pictures, frog back, and start again.  On the bright side, I still had 3 skeins left (note to self - trust your gut and when you have 3 skeins left know you didn't knit enough) so I can add length to the body easily.

I still wanted something to do with my hands, so I picked a shawl back up.  Shawls are terrific summer knitting (I would say spring, but that only lasts about a month here before the heat hits and it turns into summer).  The other item on my knit list is socks, which are another great summer knitting item.

I had to rip back on the shawl, as I had a stitch that wasn't caught properly, and I tried to drop down, but it just wasn't working for me.  Hopefully, I can knit on this while I recuperate and then when I get ready, I can charge forward with the sweater again.  

It's no fun being sick on Mother's Day, but if you are, here's to being able to stay in bed, watch great movies, and knit.  That's what my day has been.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Digging in the Garden

I promised pictures of the sweater, so here is where it stands:

I'm not sure if it's because I'm watching Game of Thrones while knitting, or if I just can't count, but I'm having the worst time with the second sleeve.  I had a hard time with the first one, and I thought it was because it was the first sleeve.  Maybe it's because I'm a little cocky where knitting this is concerned, and I'm not paying attention like I should.  In any case, I keep having to re-knit rows.

I finished this embroidery piece as well:

It's for a friend from half a lifetime ago, and I can't remember if she wanted it in a throw pillow or just framed.  What would you do?  I plan on sending it to her as soon as it's finished, as a surprise, so I'd rather not ask her.  I think it turned out well though.

We started a garden last month, and I had to wait on the seeds to sprout before planting them.  But here's a look:

Some of the seeds sprouted before the others (top and middle pictures) and so I moved them to slightly larger pots.  The bottom is a store-bought chocolate mint plant on the right (who knew such a thing existed?!) and some moonflowers that were started from seeds.  I hope to transplant all the larger plants to the garden patch this week.  Speaking of the garden patch:

Our garden currently consists of 3 strawberry plants and purple basil.  We get visitors in the morning - sweet little bunnies that like to nibble on the fruits.  That's okay though - we still get most of what is produced.  What are you spending your time doing these days?  Any ideas about the Tigger?