Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pressing forward


has become this:

I still have a couple of inches to go, but it's coming along nicely.  I am hoping to get to the split part of the body by the weekend, which is rather optimistic.  I still think I'm making great progress, and will have this sweater done for the middle of next month.  I have been alternating between this and this:

I read the first one last year, and watched the first season (it was a Christmas gift) and I have been looking for this book ever since.  I was able to find it at the local library, and I hope to finish it in the next 2 weeks.  I haven't read as much as I hoped so far, but I will be able to finish it soon.  I have a goal of reading 20 books this year, and I am not including children's books in that.  I have finished one, The Great Gatsby, so far.  I am surprised that I had never read it.  I have two other books that I have started.  One is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and the other is Written in My Own Heart's Blood.  I received the first for a Christmas gift, and the second we got because it's written by one of our favorite authors.  I say "we" because my husband loves to read, and enjoys Diana Gabaldon as much as I do.

Unfortunately, he's been struggling with his eye sight the past few months.  Before we moved, he was told during a routine eye exam that he had small cataracts.  He thinks they have gotten worse rather quickly, but until he can get an appointment, we won't know for sure.  The problem with getting an appointment is insurance.  Our new vision insurance will start in May, and we have to pay for it all on our own.  This doesn't sound like a terrible thing, and it might not be, if he weren't working a $10/hour job while I stayed at home.  Insurance is only one of the many obstacles we are overcoming with this flip in lifestyle.  Fortunately, good friends and family help facing these obstacles a little less daunting, just by being there and supporting us.  God is still good, all the time and all the time, God is good.  He has blessed us in many ways, and even though we struggle and have problems and get frustrated, we know that "all things work together for the glory of God."  When you change your perspective, it doesn't change your circumstances, but it does change your reaction to them.  Sometimes that's all you need - a change in perspective.  Have you had one lately?  Please share.

Friday, March 18, 2016


I have been diligently working on my new sweater since Sunday...well, as much as I can.  I've been trying to speed up the knitting by attempting one inch per day, which according to the directions, would take me 15 days to reach the split for the arms.  It's worked from the bottom up, and this plain stockinette stitch allows me to do other things while I knit - talk, watch TV, supervise children, etc.  These plain knitting projects are a beautiful thing.  However, in all large projects (anything that takes more than one skein) requires joining a new ball of yarn.  Before when I've done this, it was not a big deal, because I was using a wool yarn.  Even a wool superwash gives a little leeway when joining.  The natural fibers of wool like to cling to each other, so even if your join isn't perfect from behind, the front can look flawless.  I usually use one of two different methods when joining wool: the Russian join or duplicate stitching.

The second method, duplicate stitching is probably the easiest to explain.  Basically you overlap the two yarns, old and new, about 3-6 inches (depending mostly on the weight of the yarn) and knit with both yarns until the old one runs out.  You may have to weave in or tighten a loose end when you're done, but it stays extremely secure and surprisingly is not bulky (most of the time).  Here's a quick picture for you:

Just hold the two strands together for a length and knit with both strands as one

The first method mentioned, the Russian join, is also one that works really well with wool I have found.  You take a tail of about 6 inches of the old yarn and thread a yarn needle, fold it back on itself and weave it back into the strand to create a loop at the end.  You then do the same with the new yarn, making sure that the loop interlocks with the old loop.  Here's a quick picture for you of this one:

These aren't woven into the strands, merely wrapped, but you can see the loops that link

There are several websites that explain these two methods in detail, and I may later on provide a video for you, but that's the quick and dirty explanation.  The only problem I have is that I'm not working with a wool yarn.  I have a linen/cotton blend.  This complicates things.  Linen and cotton fibers do not cling the way wool fibers do.  They are much smoother since they are a plant fiber and not a protein fiber.  So, I have been looking into other ways to attach the new skein.  Some suggest a knot (heaven forbid!  So many will tell you NEVER knot your knitting!), others suggest the Russian join or duplicate knitting methods I described above.  There is also a braided join, which splits a length of each yarn (about 3-6 inches again, depending on the weight of the yarn) and braids the plies together.  This I think works best for an acrylic yarn, or one that is plied and tightly spun.  The braid should wind up about the same diameter as the plied yarn, and virtually undetectable when knit up.

The other issue I ran into is that most tell you to join at the end or edge of your knitting.  Problem one with that: it's in the round.  Problem solution: use the underarm/marked side seam of your knitting to join.  Problem two: I hate wasting that yarn.  Problem solution: well, unless I get over not wanting to waste the yarn, there really isn't one.  I am one of these crazy insane people that wants to use every inch of yarn I have bought to really get my money's worth.  Even cheap, squeaky, tacky acrylic yarn will be subject to my unnatural need to use every inch.  I don't want even a single millimeter to go to waste.  I keep all my ends, never throwing them away, to use as filler when doing a stuffed project.  That's how far I will go.  I guess it's a tribute to my grandparents, who were products of the Depression era, and never wasted a thing.  My grandmother would reuse aluminum foil until it had holes in it.

Here is what I finally decided to do: I just knit with the two strands held together.  I can tug at them and get it to look normal, so as I now knit it up, I won't waste any yarn and it's less time consuming than another possible option.

About 4 inches of the sweater knit and ready to join the new skein!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Cleaning

It's almost spring time!  I have yet to finish my sweater.  I don't know other than the socks that I just finished that I've finished anything this year.  However, I think I am suffering from spring cleaning fever or something.  I really want to hurry up and finish things, getting them off my needles.  I also want to organize everything.  I keep planning to get a clear plastic container, so I can then bag up my yarn with potential patterns, and put it all together.  I would love to organize the whole stash, but I don't currently have the entire stash here.  Part of it is still in storage.  My hope is to organize what is here, and then it will take up less space, so I can bring more of it here and organize that as well.

I did manage to start another sweater, for myself.  And the great thing is, there are NO modifications!  All I had to do was adjust for my gauge.  I am using a worsted weight yarn (light worsted, in my opinion) instead of a sport weight.  The pattern I'm using is this one that was just published:

This is how far I've gotten on it:

I just started it Saturday night, rather late.  I worked on it a bit yesterday, and a little today.  Size 5 needles make things go very slowly.  But it is knitting up beautifully.  I'm using Nashua Creative Focus Linen, which is no longer made.  The color looks like it is just a purple, but the color is called Phlox, and it has a bit more pink to it.  This shows the color better.

I am hoping to finish it by mid-April.  The other sweater I was working on for me found here will be finished after this one.  The sad thing is that I'm almost done with the body, and would only have to do the sleeves and collar on it.  I haven't ordered the yarn yet for Little Man's sweater.  The weather has turned, and it's getting too hot for a sweater.  So, even this will be put on the back burner until later.  I can work his up during the summer, after the Littlest Princess' birthday sweater is done.  Once I finish this one, provided my timing is right, I can start hers, for which I already have the yarn.  Then I can order Little Man's yarn, crank his out, finish my Iced, and then start the Princess' sweater.  I think the Littlest Princess' sweater will be either crocheted or knitted, and I will be making up the pattern as I go.  I may look at Ravelry and see what I can find, but more than likely, I'll just make it up as I go along.  How about you?  Has spring hit you yet?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Birthday Sweaters

I normally knit birthday sweaters for my children.  I'm already behind a bit, but some of it is a translation issue.  I still have to order the yarn for this one:

But I'm also working on the translation.  The pattern is free in French, and I have to translate it, as my 8th grade French class did not cover.  I have also decided to make ME a birthday sweater.

My Iced sweater is going to be my birthday sweater.  Now, I probably will be jumping from this to Little Man's, to the youngest's sweater, and working on my Etsy store stuff in between as a diversion.  I have had a slow month, meaning I've been a bit slow.  But I think I'm coming out of the fog now, and starting to pick up speed.  Everything has slowed down, and that's not normal for me.  Maybe it was just the winter blues, or blahs, and now that the weather has warmed up a bit, I can shake them.  How about you?  Have the winter blahs hit, or are you just barreling through it all?