Monthly Archives: August 2012

Do you push yourself?

Do you push yourself when choosing what to knit? I spent years making easier garments like baby sweaters and winter hats. I might pick an interesting stitch, but honestly didn’t get out of my comfort zone.

Then I started talking with a friend of mine at work who has been knitting for a couple of years and makes beautiful lace shawls, intricate scarves and even writes her own sock patterns. She inspires me. When I told her I couldn’t do lace (never having tried it) she insisted it was really easy and I had to try. I’ve finished a beautiful simple lace scarf for my boss’ Christmas present last year. And currently am working on a my second lace shawl.

She also urged me to start the TKGA Master Knitter’s program. I’ve made 2 of the swatches, but found a lovely wool at Stitches Midwest that I have to use. The stitch definition is exquisite! Of course I didn’t buy it then, but today I ordered it from Unwind Yarn House. It is their “house” yarn – Timothy Street. Check out their website to see what they have to offer. Wendy is great to work with. (www.timothystreetyarns.com & www.unwindyarnhouse.com)

I also draw inspiration to push myself from other knitting blogs, magazines and the current book I’m reading. “Sweater Quest” by Adrienne Martini is the journey she takes during her  “year of knitting dangerously”.  Her challenge was knitting a famous Alice Starmore pattern; her Mary Tudor sweater. Hum, Fair Isle might be my next self-challenge.

In order to grow and learn, I have to move out of my blanket and sock comfort zone. It is almost September and I signed up for a mystery shawl KAL. It has beads (never used them!) and tiny lace yarn (it scares me!). That is my stretch for this year. January 1 will be my “time to get serious” date for the Master’s Program. No excuses like this year!!!

What do you do to inspire yourself and push yourself? Your knitting is art. Most of the time it is ok to do what you know and do it well. Once in a while, it is good to stretch your comfort level to the breaking point and do something you never imagined you could do. If I can do it you can too!

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Cup of Joe for a Joe

Knitting and writing are coming along better than expected due to my clumsiness last week. Doc said my sprain and pulled ligaments will keep me sitting as much as possible for the next 6-7 weeks. So that means many more hours of sitting in my comfy chair working on my girlfriend’s birthday shawl and polishing up the 3 completed PB I have hanging around waiting for a publisher to love them. Although, as delightfully fun as knitting and writing in evenings and on the weekend my sound, it has only been a week and I am going stir crazy.
My fabulous husband has been cooking, cleaning and waiting on me. If I so much as get up to retrieve a book from the shelves I am questioned like the man is auditioning to be the next Sherlock Holmes!
This has also allowed me more time to spend on the blogs I am following and time to post to mine. Not a bad deal if –  a) my foot didn’t hurt and b) it wasn’t so boring. I digress. I follow Marie McGaha, Publisher at Dancing With Bear Publishing. She is the mother of a Marine and had a link to a great project for our troups.
It’s called Cup of Joe for a Joe. For as little as $2.00 you can send a cup of coffee to one of our service members. Check out the website  http://www.greenbeanscoffee.com/coj/
It is so easy – here are the steps listed on their website:
Step 1: Choose Your Gift

Each $2 provides a different Service Member with a Cup Of Joe gift. Choose the amount you want to spend using the app at the upper right, then click the blue BUY button

Step 2: Write Your Message

After you push the BUY button, you’ll see a form where you can write your message that will be delivered with each of your Cup Of Joe gifts.

Step 3: Enter Your Payment Information

It’s simple, safe and secure. You can use a major credit card or PayPal.

Step 4: We’ll Deliver Your Gift

The message you write is delivered to our Troops by email and the freshly brewed cups of coffee are served at Green Beans Coffee cafes on the bases where they’re deployed. We’ll also give each Service Member a chance to respond – and most of them do, so watch your email for their letters!

How easy is this??? It is understandable that not everyone has a spare couple of dollars. But if there is a bit of extra cash around, this is a great way to show our troups we are thinking about them. The website has lots of emails that have been sent to thank everyone that is donating. I read some of them today – be sure to have some kleenex handy!

If you can’t participate, how about passing the info along to someone that might? Thanks!

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Accidental knitter

There are many reasons I knit and many more why I don’t. The main reasons I don’t are obligations that come first. Of course my family and their needs come first. Husband, sons, daughter-in-laws, my dad and occasionally some assorted aunts, uncles and cousins need or want part of my time, of which I happily (in almost all cases) give.

Then there is the list of not so fun things that keep me from knitting. Work (have to pay for yarn!), cleaning (have to be able to find said yarn) and grocery shopping (a woman has to keep up her strength to carry boxes of yarn in when UPS drops them off).

Once all of these have been attended to – I have a bit of free time. I can choose to knit, read, play on the internet, blog or work on my longer pieces of writing.

Often I choose knitting because it is relaxing, progress is satisfying and when I am done I often have gift to give someone I love (reference paragraph #1!). I take an easy project to work for break and lunch. The current take along project is the scarf I am making for one of my peeps for Christmas. It is not a challenging pattern so is perfect for working on during our lively lunchtime conversations. Check out my progress below:

 

My weekends are really full with fun and not so fun stuff so I don’t usually have more than an hour or so to work on the more challenging scarf pattern that I’ve been talking about forever. Accidentally, I now have hours to work on my scarf at home. Last Monday I somehow managed to fall down several steps. Nothing was on the stairs, the dog was not in my way. I dunno – I just twisted my ankle walking down the steps I’ve walked down thousands of times for no reason at all.

After limping around a day, and a sleepless night a trip to the ER was in order. A few hours, Xrays and crutches later, I was back home to ice, elevate and stay off my sprained foot. A trip to the doc later in the week confirmed the sprain and added torn ligaments to the mix. Minimal walking was prescribed for 6-7 weeks.

No cleaning, hardly any cooking and lots of time sitting in my chair with an elevated icy foot makes for a great environment for guilt-free knitting. So, I am a bit sheepishly happy to show the progress on the dreaded shawl. I haven’t worked on anything else on my list of projects other than decide to order some new yarn for my swatches for the Master Knitter’s Program.

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I had to reblog – this mom needs help getting her son’s surgery ASAP!

Remily Knits

Hey all — you may remember my mentioning Craftlit once or a dozen times over the last few years.  It remains one of my favorite podcasts — reading books! making stuff! — if it had reality TV and zombies I would marry this podcast.

ANYway, the hostess of Craftlit is in a tricky spot with her younger child.  He had some fancy surgery several years ago to fix an ear defect, and he needs a repair ASAP in order to ensure that he doesn’t lose his new ear. Ms. Craftlit has sorted out the housing and airfare for the trip (the ear surgeon is in CA).  To raise a “food and other emergency” fund, she’s having a bit of a sale.

If you are so inclined, you can hop on over to her blog and read more about the situation and, more importantly, the myriad ways you too can…

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WIP update

It has been a busy knitting, crocheting, reading and writing week. I’ve finished baby blanket #7 for Allison’s coworker this week. I am in love with the Brava yarn. This was crocheted with Knit Pick’s Brava Sport in the color sky. It works up soft yet great stitch definition. This is my yarn of choice for baby blankets these days.

I completed 2 everyday dish cloths. Each one took less than 3 hrs and 1/3 of a skein of yarn. I have enough to make 4 more, but that won’t be for a while.

I started he scarf in Bear’s colors that I got from Stitches Midwest. This was an addition to my WIP list, but I’ve made progress nonetheless. I was going to make it in a more complex pattern, but decided to let the yarn talk for itself.

The following WIP haven’t been touched this week:

The dreaded shawl

The Snowflake afghan

And I haven’t started the last pr of socks, my hat (but I did wind the yarn), the last baby blanket or worked on the Master’s Program. Now I might do my swatches again because my girlfriend and I discovered some great yarn from Canada, Timothy Street,  that is the house yarn for Unwind Yarn House.

  Yesterday I wound the yarn for the Fall Mystery Shawl group (green lace), the bison (hot pink and black (for some mittens for me I think). The alpaca I got on vacation in Oregon (for my hat) and the Bear’s yarn for the Christmas present scarf I started yesterday.

All in all, it feels like a really productive week for me 🙂

 

 

 

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Utilitarian knitting

How many of us knit something knowing that it is going to be plain, useful and probably scoffed at if talked about? Most of the time we see pics of projects they are made of lovely soft alpaca or warm wool. Friends oooh and ahhh over lacy shawls and complicated mittens, sweet baby sweaters and cabled hats. But whip out a ordinary garter stitched dish cloth (or dish rag as I fondly remember Grandma talking about) and they ask why you would waste your time.

I am proud to have grandmas that taught me to recycle and re-purpose items that I already have to save money. They also taught me that homemade items were better and lasted longer than store bought.

A few weeks ago my hubby was complaining that the sponges we were using to wash dishes with were stinky. Again. He was right. In the summer humidity, sponges get gross in a day or so. I’ve read that the amount of germs found in them is an unimaginable number. I’m normally not too worried about “germ reports” but it does stand to reason with sponges.

So I decided to make a few dish rags for everyday use. I got some great yarn – Tatamy Tweed – from Stitches Midwest last week. It is 45% cotton/55% acrylic and feels really good to work with. Within 3 hrs today I made a very plain, useful dish rag that is hanging under my sink right now waiting for me to do dishes.

You may think this was a waste of 3 hrs. I was watching a movie with my son and husband the entire time I worked on it. We chatted, I knitted and the morning was quite enjoyable. Washing dishes isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I’ll be a bit happier thinking that I enjoyed making this simple piece of utilitarian knitting while spending a Saturday morning with my family. Thanks Grandma and Grammie for instilling useful skills and values in me so very long ago 🙂

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Stitches, stash and progress

This has been a good week for my projects and knitting in general. Saturday I went to Stitches Midwest. I didn’t sign up for any classes or sessions because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to Stitches at all, so I was happy just to go and drool over all of the wonderful yarns, patterns and beads displayed. I though I used great restraint by purchasing yarn that I couldn’t get locally.

The shocking pink and black hank is bison, as well as the tiny colored twists. The  pattern is for tiny Christmas socks to go on the outside of packages for my girls.

The blue and orange (GO BEARS!) is for a Christmas gift – I found a great scarf pattern that I can’t wait to start.

The cotton in 2 shades of brown/beige is for simple dishcloths.

I also found some lovely topaz colored beads for the mystery scarf I am going to start next month.

My stash grew but in my own defense I am using it already, so it is only temporary. Speaking of stashes, I found a nifty way to store some of mine. I put the yarn and patterns I have in my queue in individual Ziploc bags. Then I used a marker to note the project on the outside. Next I used a wooden pants hanger to hang them on the rod in the closet were I keep my stash. Very tidy and easy to see what I have.

Now for a progress report.

* shawl – almost 1/2 way complete.

* baby blankets – yarn arrived, first one started. I am using a different pattern, Cloud Soft Shells from “Our Best Baby Afghans” by Leisure Arts.

* Snowflake afghan – 26 of 50 squares completed/4 strips sewn.

Below are a couple of pics of my project and the baby yarn for the blankets.

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Wooo whoo! Finally loving a shawl pattern

Lisa Gentry – I love, love, love your Sunny Day’s prayer shawl pattern that I found last night in the Knit Prayer Shawls pattern book! Finally I am rockin’ and rollin’ on a beautiful pattern for my girlfriend’s birthday next month. My progress is astounding considering I only worked on it a couple of hours last night. See pic below:

I have to increase stitches evenly the next row I knit. Uh oh, math. I know it should be pretty easy, but I want to make sure I have it right because I don’t want to mess up the pattern and have to start over.

It would take me forever to look in my library for the exact formula, so internet here I come. There are many online sites that give instructions. I had my pick  and I thought I’d share a couple of them with you.

First things first – I only care about flat knitting increases for this project, so I won’t confuse anyone (ok me) by mixing in the directions for knitting in the round increases.

You have to add 1 to the number of stitches you are going to increase. (I know, it doesn’t make much sense, but stick with me). To increase 10 stitches evenly over 100 stitches, you add 10 + 100 = 110 stitches. Now divide this total by the number of stitches you need to increase (11 – don’t forget that extra one) then divide the total number of stitches (110) by this number (11) – 110/11=10. The increase would be every 10th stitch.

That was easy – but what if you have a fraction? (my mind begins to drift at the thought…) Ok, suppose you have 110  stitches and need to increase the same 10 (11 really because we’ve added the extra one – don’t fight it, I can’t explain it either) and you end up with 120/11 = 10.9. You still increase 1 stitch every 10 stitches 9 times and the llth stitch the last time.

If I don’t overthink, this will work every time. (http://www.knitabit.net/wisdom/increaseevenly.htm )

Now that you have used your calculator and possibly fingers and toes to do all of this headache inducing math – I found an even easier way. Go to this website http://www.thedietdiary.com/knittingfiend/tools/IncreaseEvenlySpace.html (save it to your favorites if you want, you may be using it often!)  The Knitting Fiend Lucia has created a wonderful “plug and play” formula for all of us to use when increasing evenly.

At the top of the page, you plug in the number of stitches in your row. In the next box, the number of stitches you need to add, then bingo! the number of total stitches shows up in the box below. Now scroll down a bit and the written instruction for the row is there for you to use. Thank you Lucia!!!

Hope these sites help if you are unsure of your increases. Happy knitting 🙂

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Project updates

I don’t know about you, but I get bogged down in the details. Will the yarn be soft if I order it without the “feel test”? How about the pattern? I can look hours for the perfect pattern and still second guess myself. Sometimes the perfect pattern is difficult to obtain.

For instance, this week I found the cutest baby sweater pattern that would look absolutely fabulous on my adorable 6 month old cousin. I HAVE to have this pattern! The problem came in when I found it on a website that is entirely in French. Hum, that could be trouble for me, English only speaker. Good news is I can order the PDF in English. Bad news is I have to figure out on the website to actually order it. AND it wasn’t on my project list so I guess the list is growing instead of shrinking and it has only been a week!

Here are my project updates:

2 Baby boy afghans – The yarn is in the mail! Ordered wonderful KnitPicks Brava in baby blue, yellow and white. Haven’t decided if both will be all three colors or one will be all blue. Time will tell.
Snowflake afghan – 21 of 59 squares completed as of today
Pr socks –  haven’t thought of this project at all
Hat – ditto the socks
Shawl – this is dicey – if you’ve been following my blog, I’ve been messing around with this shawl for over a month. Still not all that happy, but will try and carry on.
Mystery Shawl – received the beautiful hand dyed yarn. Will wind it this weekend and plan to purchase the beads at Midwest Stitches next weekend.
Possible add in projects: the delightful baby sweater, a felted lunchbag (fast, fun and useful!) and a few dishcloths (hubby was complaining about sponges, so I am throwing all of them out and going with homemade)
Master’s program – neverending….
Now to step away from the keyboard and pick up some needles 🙂

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