Another Sylvi Update and Other Projects

Sylvi is growing by leaps and bounds. The back is done:


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I have the left front done to just above the underarm:

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The black yarn on the side marks the increases, and the one in the middle marks what row I started the underarm on.

Pogo the astute feline inspector says they pass and gives them a paw print of approval.

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I started some bright, glittery socks just before New Year's Eve. 

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Everyone needs bright glittery socks What a wonderful world it would be if everyone wore them. The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Stiletto, purchased from WEBS, but it seems they are out of it. I did buy it in their big year end blowout sale. Anyway, the pair is half done, and I start the second sock tonight during my daily TV watching. The pattern is the one that I have pretty much memorized, Classic Socks for the Family by Melinda Goodfellow.

I got a knitting magazine (KnitsceneSpring 2017) and a skein of lovely purple Wildwood Arcadia yarn from my friend Lynne! I started the Ironwood shawl, and it is perfect for the yarn. I love both the pattern and the yarn! 

IMG_0155_medium2    Purple shawl

Happy knitting!


Sylvi Update

It's been a week and I really haven't worked as much on Sylvi as I thought I would have. I have worked on some other, more pressing things, but always Sylvi was waiting patiently for me to come back to her! I am now up to the underarm on the back. The rest should go pretty quickly now that I can focus on Sylvi and only Sylvi!

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The little green and orange markers around the bobbles are marking the stitches where I will pick up stitches and knit the flower petals.

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I haven't done three dimensional knitting like this before (or if I have, it was so long before my stroke that I have forgotten it entirely), so I am a bit nervous about doing it. I will try my hardest, and then I will either do it, or not. If I can do it, yay! If I can't do it, I will cry bitterly for a while and then meekly ask for some help. I really don't want to do that though, and I will try everything that I can think of to figure out a way to do it. The problem will be not with the knitting -- the petals are pretty easy to knit -- it will be holding the back steady with one hand (it is a large piece of knitting!) as I try to knit them with the same hand. Easy for most people, hard for me. I love a challenge! Stay tuned! 


Happy New Year!

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Christmas is over with! Let the rabble-rousing commence! Like swinging from the tail of an airplane! With a mushroom and a horsehoe! And champagne! I hope the olive branch means peace :)

I got a few things done for Christmas this year that I couldn't show you, but now I can. 

I made a couple sweaters and a shawl and a pair of socks for a lovely woman who married my nephew:

Black sweater   IMG_2317_medium   Yarma_medium2    IMG_2315_medium

The black cardigan sweater was finished. I neglected to get a picture of it though. Well, I thought I got a picture, but it has since disappeared into the ether that seems to make lots of my things disappear. It is quite magical how that happens, really. The patterns I used were from left to right, Anne's Sweater by Joanna Johnston, After the Rain by Heidi Kirrmaier, Wintersweet from Boo Knits, and Kethry by Spillyjane.

I knit a hippo for my husband, because who doesn't want a hippopotamus for Christmas??? Pattern is Hippo Knitting Pattern by Linda Dawkins.

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I knit my brother a pair of socks. I hope his feet will stay warm this winter!

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My Peace Project got finished last night, only nine days after the Solstice. I love it! It is so pretty!

Peace Project

So, now I am working on Sylvi. You remember Sylvi? I got the sleeves done and I am about a third of the way up the back:

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The picture is kind of squished on my needles. The markers show where I will pick up the stitches to knit the flower petals later. I am really loving this project!! In a way I wish it was on smaller needles; it's on size 13 needles for me, to get the gauge. But, you can really knit this baby fast on size 13 needles and bulky weight wool! The whole chart for the back is only 157 rows. I love it! It will be done soon, but I have lots of stuff to knit that will be just as much fun! 


Peace Project Progress

Happy Winter Solstice! Here is to the shortest day of the year. Let the advancing hours of daylight begin!

 

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How is your Peace Project cowl commencing? I am very happy with mine. The Wildwood Arcadia yarn is knitting up beautifully, and the pattern has a nice rhythm to it that is gentle, yet produces a look that suits my variegated yarn. I love it.

I got started late, so my cowl isn't finished; it's a little over halfway to being done, and that is okay. I love knitting it.

One of the things that slowed me down a bit was that I chose to start it with an I-cord cast on, which made a lovely little tubular edge that I like a lot!

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It took me a day to cast on all the over 300 stitches this way, but it turned out nicely. I plan to cast off with an I-cord bind off as well, making both edges match. 

I-cord Cast on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxNtbWYXrvg

I-cord Bind off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddBuZzYhkO0

I hope your Peace Project Cowl is giving you a bit of peace this holiday season!
 


Project Peace

Blogger Christina is trying to change the world, and I think she is succeeding. Her blog The Healthy Knitter is having a 21-day tips for peace during December, and it coincides with a "Peace-along" on Ravelry, with her free pattern for a lovely cowl. My Daily Mindfulness blanket has languished but it will still be there in January. I'm going to join her for the peace-along, and I urge you to join me too! 

Project peace

So far she has gotten over 20,000 people to read her peace tips every day and join her peace-along. That is 20,000 individual people whose lives she has impacted in  a good way, a peaceful way. 

"And we need peace…with turmoil, and acts of violence, hatred and anger occurring daily in our country and throughout the world it’s time to take action. Often I think "but I’m just one person" but maybe, just maybe with Project Peace we can spread ideas on how to choose peace. Perhaps then, we can slowly make some changes. We’ll never overcome evil but we must find ways to cope with it."

from The Healthy Knitter, November 10, 2016

So, what do you do? Here is what she said back in November:

Here's how you join in:

  • Download the cover page of the pattern on Ravelry
  • This is only the cover page; the pattern will come to you as an update on 11/28.
  • Read the information about the project requirements
  • Please click on "fav" on Ravelry, begin a project page for the cowl, and join the Healthy Knitter group.
  • Beginning December 1, read the blog daily for 21 days to receive the tip of the day on how to infuse more peace into your life.

Will you help me promote this?

Here are some ideas on how you could spread the word:

  • Spotlight Project Peace on a blog post
  • Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media
  • Include in your electronic or print newsletter
  • Provide a give-away to those that help spread the word
  • Tell all your knitting friends, clients, customers, readers, family.

Also, there is a World-wide Knit-in for Peace on December 21. Will you will knit for peace on that day?

I think this is a great idea! It is sort of like SETI, but instead of helping to locate alien signals, we will be promoting world peace! Using knitting needles! I can get behind that.

My project for peace will be Christina Campbell's cowl knit in Wildwood Yarns Arcadia in a pretty blue-pink-purple colorway. To me, it looks like peace. 

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Heck, whatever you do to be mindful and peaceful would work too! Whether you draw, crochet, quilt, craft, sew, doodle, whittle sticks or make baskets, just do it. Be peaceful, and help others be peaceful too!

 


Miss Stacy's Shawl and Sylvi

I have been busy knitting a shawl, Miss Stacy's Shawl from the book Green Gables Knits by Joanna Johnson.

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When I was visiting my mother in law one day, I showed her the book so she could see what the vest looked like that I was knitting, and she saw the shawl and said it was just what she needed, something to put around her shoulders for a little extra comfort .... and I thought: I'll knit it! I know that she could easily knit it herself, but lately her hands can't grasp knitting needles easily.

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I used three skeins of Brown Sheep Naturespun Fingering yarn and size 5 circular needles, and it took me about a month to do. The yarn was ok, but I think if I knit it again I'd use something with a little silk or cashmere, or maybe straight merino, something to make it a bit softer. Naturespun is pretty soft, but not really as soft as I would like her to have. But, it wasn't scratchy either. 

Old shale           Stockinette

The pattern was easy. It's basically an old shale lace pattern; do several repeats of it, then shift it to the right and do several repeats of it, and repeat the whole thing. The top was in stockinette stitch. It was a great pattern, and I would knit it again. Hmmm, maybe with a different lace pattern. And maybe with two colors at the top for some snazzy stripes. And maybe a button loop at the top with a cool button. 

In late September Wendy Ford and I started oohing and ahhing over a long, drop-dead gorgeous knit coat called Sylvi by Mari Muinonen

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Wendy and I dared each other to knit it, and when my niece said that she would like me to make it for her, I jumped at the chance. It is the sort of coat that should be seen and seen often, and since I don't really go anywhere, it would kinda be a wasted effort to make it for me. Dark gray was the requested color, and I ordered Eskimo from NordicMart.com early in October. The yarn came, and it was sooooo soft and luscious! It is an unspun, thick yarn like Lopi, and it's really soft and nice to work with. It splits a little, but that is to be expected from and unspun yarn. It is a bit thicker than Lopi, but squishy. I love it. I knit my gauge swatch right away, then set it aside to finish the above-mentioned shawl before embarking on the Sylvi journey.

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Then I started working on it on Saturday. This is how far I got:

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That is the cuff of a sleeve. Sunday I got this far:

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I actually didn't work on it much. It goes pretty darn fast. I'll do both sleeves first, and then I will be ready to tackle the back, the two front pieces, sew it together, and knit the hood. Then I have to knit those huge petals and figure out a way to make them lay flat and sew them down (I may need to enlist help for that). Then final blocking, and it will be done! I am doing NaNoWriMo in November, so I won't work on it much then. So, sometime in January it will be done! 

And, my Daily Mindfulness Blanket is right on schedule:

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(Pogo's butt for scale)

 


So Exciting!

1. I finished my Inspira Cowl that Lynne and I were making; it is a project that both of us got during the SPA back in February at Mother of Purl in Freeport, Maine. Lynne chose to do hers in a dark navy blue with glowing blue, green, turquoise and brown colors peeking through, and it looks like a cathedral window.  I, on the other hand, went with a riot of color. I chose to use 2 skeins of Lang Yarns Milli Colori Baby color 845 (Tutti Frutti) and a skein of Louisa Harding Amitola in color 845 Violetta. We both finished our cowls this week, and I am very happy with my result! 

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2. My Daily Mindful Meditation Blanket is coming along nicely. It is 13 days since I started. The project is openly shared on Ravelry so you can see it, but here are a few pictures:

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The blanket will be 10 diamonds across, and I'm thinking 15 diamonds high. We will see.

3. The yarn for my next big project is waiting at the post office! I'll pick it up today. I hope it is just right for what it is intended for. I'll tell you all about it later!

4. This is October, a fine month, laden with scary movies and chocolate. But the big news is that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is next month! So exciting!  This year I have my whole plot written out, so I know where I am going. I am ready! It should be fun!


One

Today I started a new project: a Daily Mindfulness Meditation Blanket. 

Square One

What is it? It's a modular knit scrap blanket to use up all the yarn scraps that I have accumulated. I am knitting one square a day, in the mornings, mindfully focusing my thoughts to create peace (in my mind) and healing (because I still am healing after my stroke six years ago).

I'm using a size 8 needle (5.0 mm), and worsted weight-ish yarn. I begin each square by casting on 36 stitches.

I am loosely using the Memory Blanket pattern that I found on Ravelry, but I am orienting the squares as diamonds rather than squares. I am weaving in all ends as I go. I will knit “Square One” squares until the blanket is wide enough, and then I’ll knit the rest of the diamonds as “Square Four” until the blanket is long enough. I will see how long it takes me doing one square a day to get a blanket!

In other news, I finished the Casu Cowl with my handspun yarn:

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Recognize the yarn? Hehe. 

I also finished a lovely vest for my husband:

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It looks better on him than it does on my laptop. The pattern is "Matthew's Vest", from Green Gables Knits: Patterns for Kindred Spirits, a Christmas gift from my dear sister in law. The yarn, an 80% locally grown alpaca from an alpaca named Riata with 20% bamboo added to it, is from the Maine Alpaca Experience. The bamboo gives it a nice drape. It is supposed to be worsted weight but it seems a bit thin to me ... however, it worked up fine (after I got it made into balls; what a nightmare! Thanks to Lynne who helped me untangle it!). It makes a lightweight but warm vest, and the yarn looks very classy indeed. 

Amy's Scarf is coming along nicely ... slowly, but nicely:

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There are a couple other things, but I can't show them til later. They are secret. Shhhh. 


I Won the Sweater Triathlon!

Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem

 I don't know what a sweater triathlon is. That is just what they call knitting a sweater in the two weeks over the Olympics. A real sweater triathlon maybe would be if you knit three sweaters: one seamed, one in the round and one modular ... that would be a hell of a thing, hmmmm...

Anyway, I did it. I finished shortly before noon on Thursday, three whole days before I thought I would. The ends are woven in, the buttons are sewn on, and the sweater fits perfectly. 

Pictures of the finished sweater:

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Now I can go back to knitting my socks out of handspun wool and my beautiful lace scarf of red merino and silk, and spinning lovely alpaca. And wearing my newly completed sweater! 


The 2016 Ravellenic Games

(Previously known as the Knitting Olympics, but we can't use that name anymore since 2012)

I am knitting a sweater for this year's games. Yes, a whole sweater. No, not a sweater for a doll, it is for me. I have 14 days to do it; I have to get the ends woven in and take a picture by the end of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

My Opening Ceremonies:

The yarn: 10 skeins Rowan Calmer, plum.

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The pattern:

Final Frontier Sweater, designed by Annamária Ötvös.  From the pattern description:

"Final Frontier is a top-down, seamless, boxy pullover with garter stitch panels and an interesting construction. We start the work with the shoulder saddles, they are worked sideways and joined at the center of the back neck. Then the stitches of the fronts and back are picked up along the edges of the saddles and the upper yoke is worked back and forth in rows. Shoulders are shaped with some short rows and the deep yoke is shaped with unusually placed invisible increases. After the front placket is complete we continue to work in the round to the underarms where the stitches of the body and the sleeves are separated and body is worked in one piece to the hem. Sleeves are worked in the round from the underarm to the cuff. Stitches for the neckband are picked up and knit in twisted rib."

Cast on during the Opening Ceremonies in Rio (counts as Day 1) and knit the left and right saddle shoulders that evening:

Day 1

 

"The most important thing in the Olympic [Ravellenic] Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."

— Pierre de Coubertin

Day 2: Upper Yoke Shaping, and Shaping the Front Necklines and the Raglans

Day 2

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

— Muhammad Ali, American boxer and 1960 gold medalist. 

Day 3. Finished shaping the raglan shaping, joined the piece into the round, and worked on the lower yoke shaping. It's beginning to look like a sweater!

Day 3 Ravellenic Games

“As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given.”

— Mary Lou Retton, American gymnast and 1984 gold medalist.

I have 7 more rounds of lower yoke shaping, and then I will put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn to hold them, and knit for 14 1/4 inches and do 3/4 inch of ribbing, and then the body is done. I have no idea how long that will take, but if I keep knitting, it'll get done.... and then there are the sleeves. Luckily there is just the typical sleeve shaping. 

B E L I E V E, and you can do it!

 


It Begins.

I love the old British favorite, Dr. Who ... the stories are fantastical, the characters are great, the actors are wonderful, the rubber-suited monsters are hilarious. But mostly, I love the scarves. 

NewWho_copy_medium    Tom scarf    Matt scarf
(All three scarves are available on Ravelry.)

 

Even more, I love all the fabulous knitwear that has been worn by the recent companions of the Doctor:

Rose's mitts    Rose's Boomtown scarf    Wilf's hat   


Little Amy's hat and mittens    Amy's Pandorica Opens scarf    Amy's Night Terrors scarf


And my favorite, Amy Pond's 'Vampires of Venice' scarf, which she also wore in 'Vincent and the Doctor':

Vampires of Venice  Amy and friends    Amy_s_Scarf_007_small2

So. It begins.

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I'm Back.

I took a little more than a year off, because I thought blogs are pointless, everyone is glued to the Facebook screen, nobody reads blogs anymore. And that is pretty much true. I quit Facebook, too. My cat Nicky had died, and his sister Nora died about a month ago. Seemed like things had come full circle.  

Two things made me come back. First, I had a couple people pining for my blog and I thought, okay. I could write it a little bit, so they will know I am alive. Second, my brain is bursting with new ideas for knitting and crocheting designs, story ideas, ideas about everything, really.  I found I used my blog as a kind of scrapbook for Remembering Things, recipes, things I had done, pictures, and of course my patterns. So, I just thought, what the hell. Let's crank this baby up and see if it will still go.

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That is Nick and Nora's baby picture. (Kevin took the photo). They were so cute! 

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That is Nora. She was a pretty girl. She liked to complain loudly about everything. I miss her squawking about supper every night. I just miss her. 

After Nicky died, we took in Pogo, who is also 13 years old, the same age Nick and Nora would be. Pogo has attached herself to me; she goes everywhere with me. She isn't much of a cuddler, though, she's just a constant companion. We make a good team. She is tolerant of my knitting, but she does like to sit on the keyboard if I use it too much!

Pogo

What am I knitting? I am knitting gifts for Christmas and birthdays, unfortunately, so I can't show them. I did just recently complete a cowl -- the Shetland Shores cowl by WendyGaal. I knit in some sparkly yarn from Knitter's Brewing Company in a color called Framboise:

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The kit came with a cute little Scotty dog!

In the last year, I knit a lot of things. One that I like the most is an Aran sweater called Wetherby by Martin Storey:

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It was a little bit tricky. I had to unravel about 9 inches of the front when I discovered I had twisted my cables the wrong way. You can bet I double checked them after that! 

Another thing that I knit was a pair of mittens. I finally made the Dog Mittens by Jorid Linvik, which had been in my queue to make ever since my sister in law got a Boston terrier:

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Her name is Persis and she is a sweetie pie!


Still Waiting.

I'm still waiting for Spring. The snow is still high and I am still grumpy. Snow doesn't seem as magical as it did around Christmas. It has become the adult version of the cute little puppy that has now turned into the Saint Bernard behemoth, taking over your bed, getting everywhere, chewing on the car. It is not cute anymore.

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So, big surprise, I am still knitting. I knit a lace scarf out of pretty peachy-pink Edna's Bounty from Good Karma Farm. Here it is, unblocked:

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It'll be prettier when it is blocked. Lace always looks prettier when it is blocked. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting's To Go series of books, Scarves Two, and the pattern is called Sheer Lace Scarf, by Lois Young. I think the book is out of print now, but you can search your local libraries for it (I love inter-library loan!). 

I am making some progress on the turquoise dress, too; here is what I've got so far:

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I had to take a break and get the scarf done before winter ended -- I guess I didn't have to worry, hehe. It is going pretty fast, now that I have started working on it again. I am getting through about a skein a day. The dress is supposed to use ten skeins, and I have used almost five skeins so far. I actually bought twelve skeins, just to make sure. I know, you are thinking it doesn't look half done, but it is. The skirt takes up more yarn than the body -- I started off with about three hundred stitches, after all. I decrease eight stitches every ten rounds, and I have only done thirty percent of the decreases so far.  Then you increase a little bit for the bust, do the yoke, and you're done! And then, of course, you must block it,  because lace. It's all cotton, though, so I might steam iron it lightly. 

Today I'm listening to the playlist "Driving with Dean Winchester" on Spotify. '67 Black Impalas are sexy. Keep knitting, people!

 


They Say It'll Get Warmer

That's the theory at least. Something called "spring" is in the offing, and there will be mud and blackflies and sunshine that is warm, and also there will be "grilling". At least you don't have to shovel blackflies. Mud, possibly.

I had a little girl here two weeks ago who expressed some interest in a pair of mittens that I made, and she wondered if I could make some mittens for her, so of course I said yes. I found the perfect pair on Ravelry called Mittens with Kittens by Natalia Moreva. They were a free download, even better! The thing is, the pattern consists of only a chart - no needle size or type and weight of yarn to use. I took a gamble that they needed size 2 needles and fingering weight yarn, and I just happened to have hot pink, cream, and orange yarn in my stash, which were the perfect colors. I think they came out the perfect size:

Kitten Mittens

Last fall when I was at my brother's camp up in Winterville, I asked my other great niece if she liked this dress:

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It's  DROPS 138-4 Jade, and it is a free pattern. I don't wear dresses anymore, and it is really young for me, but I wanted to knit it. Luckily my great niece is in high school and she is young and beautiful, and she said yes! She picked out some turquoise colored yarn, which I secretly loved and wanted to knit with. Did I mention she has good genes?

CROPS Muskat

That's DROPS Muskat #32 Turquoise. It's a beautiful Egyptian 100% cotton, with a long staple fiber, making it strong and wearable. It is mercerized, so it sparkles gently in the sunlight, and the color is a tropical color that just makes me feel warm.

DROPS 138-4 Jade dress

I cast on 306 stitches, knit 6 rows, and found it was twisted. Aaarrrgghhh! I started over, did NOT twist my stitches, and now I am zooming right along. This is a great pattern to knit for the summer. I am dreaming of beaches and sunshine (warm sunshine not winter sunshine) and tropical scents in the air. 

My husband wanted to know what I was knitting with muskrat droppings.

*sigh* Men. 

Lynne is coming over this afternoon to make Blizzard drinks with hot chocolate, Bailey's, Gran Marnier and something else, maybe chocolate liqueur. And we will knit, and laugh, and make mistakes and laugh at them before we rip them out. It will be fun :)


It's Winter, So Get Over It: Make a Cowl, Not a Scowl!

Everyone is crabby, because all they can see is snow, snow, snow and more snow. More is falling as I speak. When I was a kid, up in northern Maine, this kind of winter was typical. For the past number of years we haven't had a winter with all this snow, and it is hard to go back to it now. It's hard to drive in, it's cold, and it's boring. I hear on Facebook that kids are out of school and driving their parents crazy, and business owners complain that no one is out shopping because they're all holed up at home. That is true. 

Yarn shops that are lucky enough to be in a town with a sidewalk to their door are doing some walk-in business, and you can always order yarn in if you need to. I ordered a skein of Ontheround's Merino Wool Aran Weight when it was on sale a while ago, and over the fall I hugged it and petted it. It's so soft and squishy and lovable. The colors are a blend of green and yellow and white and blue and gray, beautifully dyed, and over this winter it has seemed like a touch of Spring. However, I needed something warm, so I invented a cowl that sits around my neck and shoulders, keeping me warm, and looking pretty. 

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I'm giving the pattern to you:

Stranded Cowl by Beth Collins

Ontheround Merino Worsted 
Size US10.5/6.5mm 16” circular needle

Gauge: 
15.5 sts and 22 rnds = 10 x 10 cm/4” x 4”

Finished measurements: 7" high by 28" around

Cast on 112 stitches (I like it loose; use 100 stitches if you want it tighter. Pattern is a multiple of 4.) Join, being careful not to twist the stitches.

(Knit a round, purl a round) twice. Begin Woven Stitch pattern:

Round 1:•K2, yf, sl2, yb; rep from • to end. 
Round 2: Knit. 
Round 3: •Yf,sl2,yb, k2; rep from • to end. 
Round 4: Knit.

Repeat these 4 rounds for pattern. Work in pattern for 7” or desired height. (Knit a round, purl a round) twice. Bind off loosely and weave in ends.

Abbreviations: 
k = knit 
p = purl 
yf = yarn to front 
yb = yarn to back 
sl = slip

(Pattern Stitch “Double Woven Stitch I” adapted from the Harmony Guides Knit & Purl, edited by Erika Knight, p. 76)

The center picture above shows that I had only a little yarn leftover, so if you want a higher cowl, you may want another skein.

I may have to knit another cowl with Ontheround's new DK weight yarn. She certainly makes wonderful yarn! 

I found that stranding the yarn across two stitches was a good way to show off the yarn; hand dyed yarn can be gorgeous in the skein, but sometimes it is disappointing knit up. Stranding really showed the beautiful colors as well as the thick-and-thin quality of the yarn. I love that.

Knitting needle Knitting needle

In other news, my Aran sweater is done. I took some pictures of it before it was whisked away upstairs to be worn today. It fits perfectly :)

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It looked better with Nicky sleeping on it, but this is pretty good :)





Be Thrifty!

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Stitch Craft Create has a new blog hop going, and I am in it! Their January magazine is FREE to you, dear readers. All you have to do is add the magazine to your basket and use the discount code SCCFREE at checkout!

This is a great magazine, and the theme for January is being thrifty. It includes directions for knitting a rug out of recycled old sheets, making your own clothes (dress making for beginners!), ideas for making an old sweater into something new and exciting, making an old dress into a stylish bag, or liven up your dry winter skin and outlook with a refreshing DIY body scrub! There is so much more in this issue. You could spend all winter doing things over, and before you know it, Spring will be here and you'll have lots of new stuff without spending a dime!

So. My yarn stash has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and I have accumulated a lot of odds and ends of worsted weight yarn -- not enough to use for anything, but too much to just throw away. This magazine came along just at the right time: there was a crocheted pillow that I could make out of yarn scraps! 

As I read through the directions, I could envision making it into a whole afghan project. I'd planned to do some kind of afghan with my scraps, but hadn't decided how to go about it, and now I had a place to start.

SCCcushion

This cushion top is made with nine squares of star stitch and sewn together, with three rows of double crochet done around it. I had to look up how to do the star stitch. I love learning new things!

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I made nine squares and sewed them together and started to crochet around the edge.

IMG_1636    IMG_1647    IMG_1654

 FullSizeRender (2)    FullSizeRender (1)

 

Now I just have to dig out ALL my scraps from where I have squirreled them away and continue to add them til it is afghan sized. This has been a fun, colorful project and I am so happy to see the piles of misery being eaten up by this wonderful afghan project! I love seeing the bottom of my knitting bag!

Bonus: If you would like to get more FREE thrifty crafting techniques from Stitch Craft Create, they have a free e-book that they are giving out to my blog readers for the price of an email address! Click here to get it!

 


The Colorblind Camera on my iPhone

I got a new iPhone before Christmas, a 6+. Where my old iPhone  made all my photos a strange shade of blue, the new iPhone leaves a pinkish hue to my pictures. Oh Apple. I hate you.

Anyway. The aran sweater I am knitting is about 60% done; I just have the front bit at the top to do, and the sleeves. I am getting there. I am knitting the Shire Aran by Glenna C and I am using Ella Rae Classic Heathers in Maroon Heather. Here are some pictures -- it really is not this pinkish brown shade, rather, it's a dark maroon. Apparently maroon is too complex a color for an Apple device to handle. The real color is beautiful.

SA1    SA2    SA3


SAbraided cable    SAring cable

I like to watch a little TV in the evening, but I have to have something simple to knit while I watch, so I started a pair of plain old socks out of Berroco Sox:

Sock1

I am quite proud of myself for Kitchenering the toe closed. I was having a devil of a time with the tapestry needle, and then I found Techknitter's site that told how to Kitchener Stitch with the knitting needles. It is much easier --the old fiddly bit is on the last two stitches, because the needles tend to fall out. And I have to weave in my dogears.

Toe

Techknitter has a really good tutorial for doing the new method of Kitchener Stitch; try it!

And lastly, I am making a cowl, because I had a little handspun purple yarn to use up, and my neck was cold. I am knitting a 2 x 2 rib until it runs out, with 100 sts for a cast on, US size 8 (5.0 mm) 16" circular needle. It's a worstedy-weighty yarn, spun from Indigo Moon batts, too precious to let it go to waste.

Cowl

This is how Nora is spending the winter:

IMG_1629

 


Here I am!

I am poking my head up out of the morass of Christmas knitting, which I can finally  talk about! Actually, the projects are not many, but I worked on them a lot. 

First is the tractor sweater that I started back in September. It's a small child size. The yarn needed to be the exact shade of yellow and green -- John Deere colors -- and the only place I could find both of those colors in worsted weight was Knit Picks, so I ordered it in superwash wool. It was a pretty quick knit.

Tractor_Sweater_2_medium2    Tractr_Sweater_4_medium2    Tractor Sweater

The pattern was loosely based on Vicki Square's Knit Great Basics, and the tractor chart is adapted from the sock pattern Tractorsockor by Linda Högström, which is a free pattern on Ravelry.

I of course had to make a tractor hat for my brother to wear while he plowed yards with his John Deere tractor:

Tractor_hat_medium2

In July, I started a lace cardigan out of pink fuzzy yarn that my sister had, and finished it in early October. I could have photographed the heck out of it, and I meant too, but in the hecticity (I love that word! Thanks Kelley!) that was Christmas, I forgot and sent it up to northern Maine un-photographed. But, here is a picture of it without buttons:

PinkLaceCardiDone_medium2

The buttons that I got for it are very cute silver heart-shaped buttons with a lacey filigree on them. It's a pity I forgot to photograph them; they looked perfect and adorable on the sweater. This picture is one I took in a hurry, in bad light, unblocked. If you squint, you can sorta get the idea of how it came out.

The last present that I finished was a skirt for my 4-year-old niece who is secretly a fairy princess as her alter ego. I used Elann's Silken Kydd in Ballerina Pink to knit it (it's like Kid Silk Haze by Rowan, only far less expensive). It was a bit tricky to knit with at first, but I soon got used to it. I dropped stitches because the 'halo' of yarn makes you think you have nabbed the stitch itself, but you haven't, you've nabbed the halo. After I got used to stabbing the center of the stitch, it went fine.

 

 

Pink_medium2

The pattern was Little Cloud by Monika Sirna. It was easy enough to knit, even with beads. I found the perfect pink beads with silver linings at Earthfaire. I loved the beads!! So pretty! I giggled a little every time I put a bead on.

Lc_medium2     IMG_1590

The final touch was the sequined, beaded sparkly bow that I found on Etsy that was a perfect match for the pale pink skirt:

IMG_1591

 

So. I knit the top layer of the skirt  first, with beads, and it went pretty fast. You know how Dr. Who has a Tardis that is bigger on the inside? Well. The bottom layer of the skirt was slightly smaller than the top later at first, and had no beads, so I was thinking that was pretty great and I was zoomng along. At six inches in, I had to increase a good bit, but that made it a little more than the stitches in the top layer, and I pugged away at it. But at eleven inches, just six inches from the final hem, I had to increase a lot of stitches -- making the total 576 stitches. Wow.

Knitting 576 stitches for six long inches was a haul. It took me about twenty-five minutes to knit one round. There were eight rounds per inch. All of a sudden I had an enormous time-sucking monster on my hands that threatened, like the Grinch, to steal Christmas! The cute little skirt for a four year old ate at my soul. I bitterly remembered saying to my sister in law lightheartedly, 'How long can a skirt for a 4-year old take??' and laughing. However, as I plugged away at it, the sparkle of the beads and the fluffiness of the airy fabric still made me smile, and eventually it was done in time for Christmas

The finished product:

IMG_1589

She loved the skirt and put it on immediately -- but I forgot to get a picture. Sigh. It was really cute on her, too. 

Anyway, by the time that Christmas had arrived I only had 30% done of the Aran sweater I was making for my husband -- but Christmas doesn't technically end til Epiphany, January 6, so I still have two weeks. I will keep knitting! 

 

 


Odds & Ends

Remember when I started my Haiku scarf a month ago? Well, I finished it in early November, but never got around to measuring its final size. It's 7 1/2" wide and about four and a half feet in length, an average size for a scarf. But, that is the resting length of this little beauty; as you wear it (or if you block it), the garter  stitch will lengthen enormously, doubling in length. 

Scarf 1

Scarf 2

I love how sheer it is. I love that it kinda floats in the air, but is very warm around your neck. 

To restate the pattern: 40 stitches, size 8 (5.0 mm) needles, knit every row, bind off when you are nearly done. That's it. Perfect. I knit it very lackadaisically, and it still was only two weeks to make. (I knit a ton of Other Stuff in the meantime.) A focused knitter knitting only this scarf could probably make it in three days -- I'm guessing here, but still. 

One thing about the yarn that you might need to watch out for -- like any fine mohair/silk blend, it is very difficult to tink back more than a few stitches, so while it makes good TV knitting, be careful you don't inadvertantly pull the wrong needle or drop a stitch and discover it four inches down, like I did. Let's just say, I had a lot of ends to weave in, rather than just the two I had planned on!

In other news, I am now on Ello, a new social media place to hang out in, with no ads and no creepy big brother watching over me, cough *Facebook* cough. You can read their manifesto here. Ello is still in beta, so that is why you need to be invited to join, and it still has that new car smell, sorta like Ravelry did in the beginning. If you want an invite, email me at yarndemon at gmail dot com; if you are there already, I'm at https://ello.co/yarndemon.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.~Nathaniel Hawthorne

  


Light N' Whispy Knitting

My Dropped Stitch scarf is coming along nicely:

Scarf

I love this scarf! It's just the right blend of fabulous hand-painted fingering weight yarn (Rowan's Fine Art) with a whispy bit of gorgeousness (Rowan's Kid Silk Haze Stripes). Paradise Fibers sells the kit for the scarf. I didn't really get how to do the twisted dropped stitch, or rather, it was too hard for me to do with one hand ('wrap the yarn around both needles and then around the left needle once more'), so I just wrapped the yarn around the needle twice. They may have gotten more length by doing it the way that was stated in the pattern, and I don't get the 'twist' by wrapping the yarn twice around the needle, but mine looks almost the same. I may do another one, wrapping the yarn three times around the needle. This scarf is addictive to knit! I absolutely love Kid Silk Haze Stripe. It makes me gaga with its beautifulness.

I decided to knit another garter stitch scarf with a skein of Haiku (60% mohair, 40% silk) that was in Rachel's stash. We had a model on display in Unique One that sold a lot of Haiku. I started it in a quiet moment at one of the Spa Knit and Spin shows, because the Haiku wasn't selling; after I started knitting the sample, people started buying it. I finished it after the show was done, and as soon as I put it up, bam! The Haiku was flying out the door.

Garter Stitch Scarf

(This color is called Rice Fields. The marker is placed to mark when I started today; I try to get 2" done every day.)

The pattern for the scarf is simple: Cast 40 stitches onto a 5.0 mm/8 US needle and knit til you almost run out of yarn. Bind off.  That's it. It's a little bit tricky until you get the hang of knitting such fine yarn on biggish needles, but trust me, you can do it! The resulting scarf is anything but simple; the colors are fabulous, the yarn feels luxurious, and it will be a gift (or accessory for YOU) that says "I am elegant!". I don't remember how long the scarf is, but it is long (I'll tell you when I finish my scarf). I had a customer who used to make two, shorter scarves out of one skein to give to friends, which actually would be very economical. Still, $24 - $29 for a skein of Haiku isn't bad. One skein of hand dyed sock yarn is probably more than that, more if it has as much silk as Haiku does.

Anyway. Have fun knitting! 


October

Fall colors ...

Fall Colors

Trees over the camp

I took these pictures when I was in Winterville at the end of September, but they were stunning and colorful!  I love seeing the crisp reds, the playful yellows, and the magnificent oranges.

I love reading, too, and one of my favorite books to read in October is Headstones and Monuments by Steve Ogden. 

HM

It's a delightful collection of scary ghost stories (but not too scary!) that will entertain you on the dark, windy nights leading up to Halloween. If you like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, you will like Headstones and Monuments. Remember telling ghost stories at night around the campfire? Yeah. It's a collection of that kind of really good ghost stories. And Steve's artwork is excellent!

I love new fall mittens:

MysteryMittebnsDone

Orange, my favorite fall color, and dark brown. Both are handspun yarns; one I spun before my stroke (the dark brown; I think it was Coopworth), and one after (the orange, which I got from Sharon in Nova Scotia; it's Romney, I believe), so they are blended together, the before and after, making a new whole. Like me!

The pattern, previously a Mystery Mitten Knit, is Soria Moria vott, and it will be featured in Tori Seierstad's mitten e-book coming later this autumn. Tori makes good mittens! Until the book comes out, you can join the I Make Mittens group on Ravelry, and follow Tori's progress.


Home Again

Look what was waiting for me when I got home!

Package

I got a package from Paradise Fibers! It is a skein of Rowan Fine Art Sock Yarn in purples, and a skein of Rowan Kid Silk Haze Stripe -- it's Kid Silk Haze that knits up in stripes!! I'll let that sink in for a minute. Just when I thought Kid Silk Haze couldn't get any better, they go and do this. Now, the only way it could get any more perfect would be if it glowed in the dark or was free. (Actually Paradise Fibers just did a buy four, get one free promotion on yarn, so I guess they already did that. I missed it, though; it ended Sunday the 21st.) The Kid Silk Haze Stripe is "Chiaroscuro", stripes of grey and purple, which goes fabulously with the purples of the Fine Art Sock Yarn in shades of purple. The Fine Art Sock yarn is a blend of merino wool, kid mohair and mulberry silk that has been handpainted, and it is is luscious to the fingers as well as to the eyes.  I can't stop squeezing it. 

I am going to make a Twisted Drop Stitch scarf  (by Nancy Kleiber) out of it, because the world neeeeeeds more pretty scarves! I never get tired of wearing them, especially in this house in the long, bitterly-cold winter. I glanced over the pattern last night; it seems to be alternating rows of each color in a dropped stitch pattern, and it is very lovely and looks like a quick knit, too. It is a free pattern on the Rowan web site, I think, if you sign up to be a member. I can't wait to get started! 


Still at the Lake

Lake

I took this picture yesterday, and today the leaves are even more colorful. It's so beautiful up here!

The winner of the Faux Taxidermy Knits book giveaway is Jean! She has been emailed. I hope you make beautiful things, Jean!

I have been busy knitting. I finished the first sleeve on my pink cardigan:

1st Sleeve

Sleeve detail

The sleeve was originally a three-quarters length sleeve, but I made it a full length sleeve. I just hope the sleeve won't drag and be annoying; it's a full, lacy cuff, and pretty, but may be a bit aggravating to wear. I tried to make it about an inch shy of the full length, though. I am currently done one pattern repeat of the three repeats for the lace cuff on the second sleeve.

These tractors tilled their way across the field of yarn as well:

Tractors

Keep on knitting!


The Lake

I'm at my brother's camp in Winterville Plantation for a couple of weeks. It is  very restful here, peaceful. 

Lake colors

It is pretty close to Eagle Lake, so it is right up there in Maine. The trees are already starting to turn. The camp is on St. Froid Lake, a little bit of heaven on earth.

Lake

Lake2

And what would Heaven be without a cat? Meet Belizaire ...

Belizaire

He is the fluffiest cat I have ever known! 

I have finished my blue socks and gotten the third clue done on my mystery mittens:

Blue socks done

Clue3

Now my needles are poised to attack the sleeves on my pink lacy cardigan! 


Leftovers

I thought I'd show you a picture of my cardigan so far:

Pink cardigan

The body is done, joined at the sleeves and the ends run in, which makes me happy, because that's one less thing I'll have to do at the end.  I have the lace pattern done on the first sleeve. So, it's going along. Rachel would like it, I think; it is her yarn, so I hope she would approve!

Pink_cardigan_medium2

This was actually my second project that I worked on with circular needles.

The first project with circular needles since the stroke is this:

AbstractCowl

This is the Abstract Leaves Cowl by Deb Mulder. (Hmmm, I wonder if she is the lost sister of Fox Mulder, who was abducted by aliens? Nahhhhh...). Aside from being a free download on Ravelry, it's wicked pretty. I decided to use leftover yarn from my Pueblo Stole - I am getting a lot of mileage out of that kit! The beads are size 6 beads inserted on the knit stitch between the two yarnovers in the pattern. The beads are leftover, too; I originally got them for this project, but realized they were redder than I wanted. Thus, I called it the Leftover Abstract Leaves cowl. 

I knit a couple rows, and admire it, knit a few rows, and admire it some more. Actually, it's pretty slow going, because I have to get the beads on with a crochet hook one-handed, but that is kind of fun. I drop them frequently, but I have a handy-dandy grabber thingy that lets me pick up things with ease. I'm halfway through the cowl. It seems like a timely thing to knit this autumn!

I mentioned before that I am taking part in a mitten knitalong by Tori Seierstad, but it's a mystery, so I will wait to post my pictures till the end. This is exciting because I am using handspun yarn - leftover brown (that is terribly underspun) that I spun before my stroke, and orange (that is much better) that I spun after my stroke, when I went up to Nova Scotia to see Sharon and Richard.

Torirot_Mystery_mitten_medium2

So pretty. I can't wait to show you how the pattern is coming out! Such a clever girl, that Tori. 

Don't forget to leave a comment on the blog post about Faux Taxidermy Knits by Louise Walker! The deadline to enter is September 22!


Book Review: Faux Taxidermy Knits by Louise Walker

I got the chance to review a wonderful book for the quirky, whimsical and curious: Faux Taxidermy Knits, 15 Wild Animal Knitting Patterns by Louise Walker. Face it, have you ever secretly desired a fox stole, alligator bag, or a tiger rug, but you don't feel great about killing the animal to have it? Well, now you can have it and no animals will be harmed! This book has 15 patterns for things such as a moose head mounted in traditional taxidermy fashion, a mink stole, hedgehog slippers and and owl tea cosy.

Mink 02 

  Mink close up
I love the way their beady little eyes stare up at you, with love and mischief, not like the dead eyes of a real mink stole that make you say EWWWWW. But that may just be me. I am not a big fan of zombie minks. 

2Owls 01

Isn't this tea cosy the sweetest thing ever? This book is a British publication, so it just had to have a tea cosy, as well as a badger head. 

You can buy the book at Stitch Craft Create, or browse the whole selection of books in their bookstore. Books that caught my eye in browsing were Edward's Menagerie by Kerry Lord, Craft Bomb Your Bike by Shara Ballard (mostly because the name sounds slightly dangerous yet with a heady sense of crafting), and Knit Your Own Boyfriend by Carol Meldrum ("And the best thing about a knitted boyfriend? He doesn't answer back!" LOL).

I decided to make a project from Faux Taxidermy, the very last one in the book: Bear Coasters. Here is a picture of them in the book:

Baby Bears

So cute!

You have to knit two pieces for each one, and a couple of ears.  (The last time you saw them, they were swimming in my sink.)

Pieces

Knitting them was easy. There were three mistakes in the pattern, all of which were probably an editing error, and none of them were so bad that I couldn't remedy them easily. In the event that there were any mistakes that were insurmountable, I think you could get a quick reply from the publisher -- they are great people, and crafting is clearly their passion. 

Sewing the pieces together and stuffing the head, legs and arms came next, which was the part that I was most worried about, since I am knitting with only one hand. But in the end, I got it done, and here they are, my own faux taxidermy:

Bear Coaster

I wished I had had a view of the coasters without a cup on them, so here ya go:

Front view

Back view

I love them! They were really fun to make, too. Each bear took me about 5 hours to knit. You can probably sew them together much more quickly than I can! 

Wolf 01

~:: FREE GIVEAWAY ::~

Thanks to the fantastic publisher, I have a free copy of the print book Faux Taxidermy to give out to one person who comments either here or on Facebook by midnight eastern standard time on September 22. Enter and you may win a free copy! 

There is a blog hop about the book too, so if you want to see what others are doing, click here to go see! 

Faux tax banner4

 

Wave bye-bye


Tangerine

I have been knitting a little.

Socks
I knit a pair of socks when my sister died; I had to have a small, portable project to keep my mind focused, to give me something to do, something to keep from crying all the time, and socks seemed to fit the bill. These socks are from Done Roving's "Tapping Tootsies", a heavy fingering weight made from 60% superwash merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon, in the color "Tangerine Twist". "Tangerine" by Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra was the number 1 hit the day that Rachel was born. It seems fitting, somehow. 

I have been working on the pink lacy cardigan out of some of Rachel's yarn. I fixed the tangling problem, but I was still struggling. There were so many stitches, the back and both fronts  (including the button bands) are knit together, and I don't have the luxury of using a circular needle, so all those stitches were crammed onto one 14" needle. I left it languishing on the table a lot (on the up side, I got a lot of reading done!). However, as soon as the lace border was completed, the stockinette portion was a little easier, and it is going along well now. 

Lacy cardi

It seem like an eternity of knitting, but I will be up to the underarm soon, and I'll be done the whole body of work; that's equivalent to the back and half a front done. The tops and sleeves should go quickly! I really like this pattern -- if it wasn't in mohair, it would be easier to handle. I would knit this cardigan again.

I am slowly coming out of my fog. It's hard to lose a sister as wonderful as Rachel was. Recently I looked through Ravelry at patterns and found a lot of projects I'd like to make, for Christmas, for myself, and just for fun. It's a good sign. I used to always knit Rachel something special for Christmas. Now I can knit for other people, with her spirit just over my shoulder, laughing at my many mistakes!