Snickerdoodles

Oh, snickerdoodles. How I detested thee as a child. 

My sister, Rachel, used to make them a lot, I suspect because it took basically the stuff we always had on had, meaning they were incredibly cheap to make. There were only flour, eggs, butter, sugar and other bakey stuff that lurked in our cupboard that was always there. There was no chocolate in them, baking or chips or anything; no peanut butter; no caramels; no nuts of any kind; nothing to make them seem ... interesting. I hated snickerdoodles. They were the Anti-Cookie. Rachel, of course, was fine with that; she got to eat them all.

I discovered snickerdoodles again when I was looking over AllRecipes.com for something else, grilled lamb chops. I never found any grilled lamb chops. Instead, I found Grandma Ruth's Snickerdoodle Cookies.  I looked over the recipe and found it oddly satisfying, because I had everything to make them already, hmmmm ... and, they looked really really really easy to make, even for a one-armed cookie maker like me. 

What the hell, I thought. Rachel, you must be giggling with glee from beyond this earthly plane to see me making snickerdoodles!

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The only changes I made to the recipe was using 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup Splenda instead of using 1 1/2 cups of sugar, because I have diabetes and it sucks. Use sugar if you can. I would have used my monkfruit sweetener instead of sugar, but it is so expensive ... I only use it in my coffee and tea. Everything else in the recipe is the same.

According to MyFitnessPal, and using 30 instead of 36 servings (my servings were a bit larger than in the recipe, oops!), each cookie had only 4g of sugar, yay! And 2g of protein, hmmm ... must have been the eggs and butter. And 112 calories, of course. Eggs and butter. Sigh. 

Snickerdoodles. After forty years, how I love thee. Stop yer laughing, Rachel!

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Enjoy this sunny day!

 


Day 5 and 6 and a Few More Hours ....

I worked on getting the neckline and front bands of the Beekeeper Cardigan over the last week, and it took about 5 or 6 hours. Then I knit the left sleeve on Saturday, and I knit the right sleeve on Sunday. It took me a whole day to knit one sleeve! Like from 9 in the morning to 10:30 at night! I need to get faster.

Anyway, I succeeded in completing my Beekeeper Cardigan in about six and a half days.

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I finished it just in time. This is it, hot off the needles, with the ends hanging out, unblocked, like a newborn baby, all wrinkly. Blocking will help it considerably, as well as weaving in the ends.

This KAL was the biggest one that I have ever been a part of. More than 1181 people endeavored to knit the cardigan in four to eight days, depending on their size (my size required 5 days, oops). So what is the big deal? Why did so many people sign up for this?

  1. It was billed as the "4-day KAL" to make a whole sweater with DK weight yarn in a textured pattern. It was intriguing, it seemed impossible, yet Marie Greene assured us that it could be done. People had done it last year. Before the KAL, Marie Greene and another test knitter did it to prove it could indeed be done. And, in the end, lots of people knit this sweater in four days. One knitter even knit four beekeper cardigans in the duration of the whole KAL, which was a little over two weeks! 
  2. It is thrilling to watch so many people helping each other to be their best, to find that they could do something that challenged them. I challenged myself, and it felt good. It also felt good to help others.
  3. When you are part of a group all working on the same project, you feel dedicated to achieving the end. You cheer each other on, you commiserate, you make friends. You want to do it again after it is done. 
  4. It is good to use Facebook to do something that enriches the world in that way, to actually look forward to posts and find success stories and to cheer each other on. 
  5. I learned a lot about sweaters and how they are made! I learned that knitters can and will knit full  sized gauge swatches with different needles, as hundreds of knitters in this KAL did! I learned that blocking makes a ton of difference in the finished sweater! 
  6. I saw beginning knitters who had knit only a little while and who had never ever made a sweater, knit this sweater with the little bee pattern and they succeeded! Wooooooohoooooo! I was so proud of them!
  7. I got a glimpse of what Marie Greene did to organize a huge KAL like this one, make it run smoothly, make everyone feel good about themselves .... all while she was putting the finishing touches on a book that she has written about sweaters. She was pretty amazing. I pre-ordered her book.
  8. I miss knitting the little bees.

Day 3 and Day 4 Accomplishment

Hey everyone, it's the crazy bee lady buzzing in again! I knit all day on Saturday and Sunday, and I finished the length on the body:

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On Saturday I got about halfway down, and finished the body on Sunday. Sorry my picture is a bit fuzzy. I took it about 11 last night, and I was a little fuzzy too. 

So, I just have the ribbing on the collar and front bands (about 1.5 inches) and the two sleeves. I don't think I will make it in five days, but six days should probably cover it. I'm good with that! As Marie told us, it isn't about meeting deadlines, it's about the friendship and being supportive of everyone in the group. I haven't had any problems knitting this adorable little sweater, but I have loved seeing everyone's progress on their project and commenting when I can!! 

Speaking of the group ... holey moley!! There are 1130 projects for the Beekeeper Cardigan on Ravelry! And on Facebook (because not everyone is on Ravelry, and vice versa) there are 2394 members! This BeekeeperKAL is HUGE. Huge and really fun!

Marie has said that blocking your sweater is really important, that it makes such a difference to the fit. I agree. Look at this:

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On the top is my Swans Island Washable Wool DK coming off the cake that it is wound into. I knit with that. On the bottom is my cast on tail that has been "relaxing" as I have knit the cardigan for the past week (well, I only knit 4 days, but it has been a week). I am amazed at how much it bloomed just lying there! It seemed, when I did my Little Bee swatch, that the knitting was a bit loose, but I got the correct gauge with size 7 needles and DK yarn, so I trusted the designer and went with it. I am so glad I did. Some people went with a smaller gauge and a larger size because they didn't like the looseness of the knitting on size 7 needles, even though it was the correct gauge. I hope their knitting doesn't bloom out of control when they block it! 

 

Happy Tour de Fleece for those participating in it! I was going to do that this year, but I got waylaid by a huge swarm of bees. Maybe next year!


Day 2 Accomplishment

I made it to the sleeve divide. It's beginning to resemble a sweater! 

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Yayyyyy I finally made it!

Now I will buzzzzzz down the body making only bees and NO MORE RAGLAN SLEEVE INCREASES! Do I sound bitter? A bit. Those increases and figuring out how to place the bees took lots of brain power, and it was hot out, very hot. It seemed to take me forever to figure out how many stitches to cast on for the underarm to get the bees to line up properly. I was putting in a stitch, then counting and counting, but every time it came out wrong. (Knitting with literally half a brain after my stroke is annoying sometimes.) Finally I did it correctly, and the raglan increases are behind me now!!

I love my little bees; they make me happy.

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Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I'll knit Day 3 and Day 4 on the weekend, and Day 5 the following weekend. Marie Green, the designer of the 4-day KAL, said it was easier to spread the days out instead of doing them all together, and she is right. You keep the excitement of the project, and you never lose your mojo because you are tired of it. Hmmmmm, I should try doing that with my regular projects! I see a scheduling app in my future ....

 

 


Day 1 Accomplishment

It isn't much, but it's a start!

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I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get further on it. I wanted to get to the division of the sleeves, but I am about 20 rows from there. Did I mention that this sweater is knit from the top down, there is no seaming, and no buttonholes and buttons to frig with? Yayyyyyyy!

I had to take a nap. I went up to northern Maine for my brother and sister in law's 50th Anniversary on the weekend, which was fabulous! But I was more tired than I thought when I got back, and I simply fell asleep for most of my quality knitting time in the afternoon. It was so nice, on my porch, sun streaming in, not too hot (it only got to about 70°F I think) .... nice napping weather. I do not regret it.

Day 2 will commence tomorrow. Oh, did I mention that I can pick any 5 days that I want to knit? They don't have to be consecutive. I'll take a break today, knit tomorrow, take a couple days off, knit on the weekend, then see how much I have left to do. Knitting the whole sweater in four days would be awesome, five days would be great, but even if it takes more time .... I still have a sweater!

 


It Beegins.

Hehe. 

I finished knitting my Tor Grass shawl; it needs to be blocked:

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So pretty ❤

And I knit 95% of a sweater for my nephew's son, but it needs to be blocked before I can sew it together and knit the neck to finish it:

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Tommy loves tractors! This time it's a Farmall :)

And I knit the beginning of a shawl/cowl thing called  Clarissa by BullyWoolies for someone's birthday that has already gone by:

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Happy Birthday Lynne!

The yarn is Marrakesh, 70% silk/30% Camel from Handmaiden Fine Yarn, a wonderful Canadian company that I adore! (Happy Canada Day a bit late Canada! ) Pictures really don't do this justice. It is gorgeous. The color is called Tourmaline, a beautiful blue green that looks just like the ocean. 

However.

Everything came to a  screeching halt at 7:00 this morning as I started my Beekeepers Cardigan!!! 

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Pattern: Beekeeper Cardigan by Marie Green. Yarn: the unbelievably luscious Washable Wool DK by Swans Island, 100% organic, hand dyed merino wool. So soft! So squishy! I don't usually get wool that is superwash for my sweaters, but Marie Green recommended it because the pattern requires superwash or a silk blend for getting the correct fit after blocking. This yarn feels so incredible! It is a joy to work with. I am a happy BeeeeeeeeKeeper!

The color is called Sunlight, and it is a perfect soft yellow which I really wanted. Who doesn't need a little sunlight on a gloomy day, or any day?

I have 5 days to knit this (my size is a little bit larger than the 4-day sizes). The clock is ticking. I'm crossing my fingers (except for when I am knitting ... or typing). We will see how it goes!!!

Note: Nothing will explode or otherwise disappear if I can't get it knit in four or five days. If I do get it knit in five days, Extreme Gleefulness and Possibly Ice Cream will occur. 

Other note: Blocking. It has to be blocked to fit. YIKES!


Fleas

I thought I would be done my Tor Grass shawl by now, but I am not.

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One reason is I fought with a skein of brown 2-ply wool from Christopher Sheep Farm to knit these mittens:

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The yarn seemed really thick, and I had to struggle to knit every stitch. I thought it was because I needed better needles with more of a point, so I went to Heavenly Yarns up in Belfast with a friend one day and stocked up on a couple sets. (Heavenly Yarns is a fabulous shop; you should go!) 

I got the needles home, and they helped, but the yarn still fought me. Anyway, I finished them and put them in a sink full of hot water to block them. 

Wow. I found out why the yarn fought me. Lots -- I mean, LOTS -- of brown, greasy stuff oozed out of the yarn. It wasn't dyed, because this particular yarn is not a dyed color, it is a natural color, it was just really dirty. It felt kind of sticky when I was knitting with it, actually, but I thought it was just the lanolin. I had to wash it three times to get the water to run clear! I knew I had had the yarn for quite a while. The natural colors of that wool have more lanolin in them, the dark brown especially, and I think it had hardened up with age. The resulting mittens are soft and lovely and warm though! I like them very much. But I spent way more time knitting them than I thought I would: two weeks instead of three or four days. 

The other reason is fleas. Pogo has fleas. Well, she almost always has fleas, but they are usually kept in control with FrontLine or something, and I brush her several times a day because she loves it, even though she is not a long haired cat. 

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 This year, for whatever reason, the fleas suddenly and vehemently overtook the earth, notably Pogo and my house. Medication, both applied to the cat and sprayed on surfaces, has had some effect, but it's like the Boss Flea is laughing in the face of modern medicine, saying, "Bring it on, I will eat it up!" So, I have been cleaning. We washed every mat, blanket and pillow that Pogo laid on (and she has a lot around the house; she is pretty pampered). Mostly I have been vacuuming and washing the floors daily, through the whole downstairs.  Daily. And it is not easy for me, but it is getting easier with repetition, lol. It takes time though, lots of it, so my shawl suffers. However, better that my shawl suffers than poor Pogo.

Luckily, after a week of daily vacuuming and washing the floors, they are safe for Pogo to walk on, but I still have to keep it up, because this year the fleas are winning. So it continues. 

I have about 80% of Tor Grass complete. There are only about 21 more rows to go and then bind off. Of course, there are over 500 stitches per row, so I can only do about three or four rows a day, but it is slowly getting done. I was hoping to get it done in time for the Beekeeper Cardigan KAL that I will start July 2 or so ...  if I am not done by then, Tor Grass will have to wait for me to get the Bees done! It should only be 5 or 6 days though. That is what they say. I live in hope. 


The Big Soft Cuddly

Sadly, I could not find the second skein of the black fuzzy yarn anywhere. It disappeared into the gaping maw of my yarn room and could not be found. So sad.

But it is ok. I found leftover yarn from a scarf I had made, using Rowan Kid Silk Haze Stripe in a mostly gray color called Chiarascuro. Sadly it is discontinued now. It added a touch of moonlight to the edge of my shawl:

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This picture is pre-blocking. After I blocked it, it looked like this:

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I am so pleased with my Line & Shadow Shawl! It is light and airy and big and warm and soft and cuddly, and I am wearing it right now, until it becomes 76° out and I am forced to take it off. I love it! 


Nothing That Hard Blocking Won't Fix!

Well, this is a sticky wicket! I got 97% of my Line and Shadow shawl completed, down to the very last stripe of the black fuzzy contrast color ... and reached the end of my ball of black fuzzy yarn.

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I literally have only 8 rows left to knit, 2 rows of which need the black fuzzy yarn. I know it is in my house somewhere ... I just need to find it. The problem is, it is upstairs and I still need help getting there, so it will wait till this weekend. 

This shawl is HUGE by the way. You know that picture where the woman is holding it out with both hands and it looks so pretty? Bet you didn't notice how big it is! Most of the time, while I knit on it, I wore it wrapped around my neck, and it was so warm and soft and luscious. It will be a nice size to wrap up in this fall, as it is almost blanket sized, but it is light and airy feeling and I love it. And it is almost done!

So, while I wait to knit those last 8 rows and bind off, I started knitting another shawl from The Knitter magazine, Issue 123. I love The Knitter; it consistently has wearable garments, interesting articles, and really wonderful photos. It is a British magazine, but while I would love to go to the UK to buy it, I don't; I bought a digital subscription on Amazon

The shawl is called Tor Grass, by Anniken Allis, and I fell in love with it when I saw it. So pretty! Ooooh! 

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The yellow dress is lovely also, sigh. I will never be that tiny, hehe.

The shawl is knit in Rowan Denim Lace. What?! Denim lace??? Damn, I had to see that ... WEBS had it! I liked all the colors, but Erin Green like the one that is pictured stole my heart. I succumbed to the yarn fumes once again.

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The yarn comes on cute little cones of happiness. They do not all come with Pogo tails. This was the start of what I feel will be a beautiful friendship! Denim Lace is made of recycled denim and is available in 6 colors. Each 50g cone has 400 meters of yarn.

Knitting with Denim Lace is great! It is like most lace weight yarns, it is thin, but it has more weight than other wool lace weights. Other lace weights sort of hang in the air, they 'float' more, but Denim Lace has oomph. Light, airy oomph. Like silk, but more cottony and more grabby. 

I'm babbling. This is where I am at now:

Denim Lace Start

This is such a beauty!

I notice that the selvedge edge seems a bit tight. I hope that warm water, soap, and hard blocking will take care of it! 

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Hmmmmmm ....

I am trying to talk myself either into or out of a thing ... a thing that is both magnificent (if it works) and brutally awful (if it doesn't work) ...

A 4 Day Sweater Knitalong!!!!!

It seems impossible, but that is what makes it desirable. I kinda want to do it. I've knit a couple sweaters in two weeks before during the Ravellenic Games, but never in only 4 days, or even 8 days.

It is offered by Olive Knits. I like her 4 Day KAL she did last year, the Stillwater sweater. It looks totally like it was not knit in only 4 days. Yet, it was!

The sweater in question for 2018, the Beekeeper cardigan, is a DK weight (it's not even chunky or bulky weight! madness!!) adult sweater that is an open front cardigan (no buttons, but you can have them if you wish -- she gives you the option) with an all over texture (not stockinette! gasp!!) with 3/4 length sleeves, though you can make them full length if you want. 

From Ravelry's pattern page: "The KAL begins July 1st and runs through July 15th with a sliding timeline for different sizes (up to 8 days). Pick and choose your days (they don’t have to be consecutive)."

I believe I will see how Olive's test knitting of this year's sweater goes, and if she survives, I'll buy the pattern. Who is with me?? 

:::Think of it like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but it is really NaNoWriWe (National Novel Writing Week). Or NaSweKniWe (National Sweater Knitting Week) :::


Kinky

Don't worry, this is not Fifty Shades of Knitting.

I'm doing charity knitting when watching TV shows in the evening, and I had a skein's worth of lovely alpaca from the Maine Alpaca Experience, all in little balls, the biggest of which I unraveled from a piece of knitting from the vest I knit for my husband (turns out he wanted it to be a bit longer). I was too lazy to make it into a skein, wash it, and dry it. I tried to blame my handicap on that, but really, I was just too lazy. So I knit it up into the DK weight hat that I posted the pattern for here

The yarn was kinky. It didn't look so bad until I ran out of yarn and joined a ball of nice, smooth yarn and kept going. 

Wow. It looked really different.

 

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Yikes! So, maybe washing the hat would solve the problem? I washed it and it took three days to dry ... either it is really foggy here on the coast of Maine, or the alpacas soak up lots of water.

This was the result:

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You can still see the difference, but it is not so bad.

The only problem with knitting for charity is, I want all the hats!! And I never wear hats! At least they will go to people who need them when they are cold! ☺


DK Weight Ribbed Watch Cap

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DK Weight Ribbed Watch Cap

Size 5US/3.75mm 16"circular and double pointed needles

300 yards DK weight yarn

Gauge: 9 sts and 6.5 rows per inch measured over ribbing pattern lying at rest after washing

This will appear to be really skinny, but it stretches a lot!

Cast on 112 sts. Work in k2, p2 rib until piece measures 11 inches/28 centimetres. It will seem too long, but that is ok.

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Decrease for top:

Row 1: *Work 12 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 2 - 12: Work around with no decreases, keeping pattern as much as possible.

Row 3: *Work 11 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 5: *Work 10 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 7: *Work 9 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 9: *Work 8 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 11: *Work 7 sts, work 2 together* around. 

After completing Row 12, you can eliminate the even rounds in between the decrease rounds.

Row 13: *Work 6 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 14: *Work 5 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 15: *Work 4 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 16: *Work 3 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 17: *Work 2 sts, work 2 together* around. 

Row 18: *Work 1 st, work 2 together* around. 

Row 19: *Work 2 together* around. 

Cut yarn leaving a 6 inch end; pull the end through the remaining stitches secure it. Weave in ends. Fold up a 2" brim and wear proudly.


Mary Jane Is A Star!

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I finished my Pine Star hat. Mary Jane Mucklestone designed it, and, as usual, did a terrific job. It came out really lovely! I like the way the top decreases; very easy to knit it, and it is beautiful. 

Mary Jane is participating in a  new thing, Knit Stars, a thing that shows promise. It's a retreat with lots of cool designers and other fabulous people from around the world, and you can go without ever leaving your home. I think that is a great idea! Unfortunately Knit Stars for this year is closed, as demand caused it to fill up very quickly, but there is hope for the future years!

In other news, I got another foot of the blanket done; it is now three feet wide.

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The rows are getting longer and the blanket is getting heavier and the temperatures are getting warmer. I noticed that it took me a lot longer time to get the third foot done than the other two, and there is still one more foot of width to knit before I start making it longer instead of wider .... but at least I won't be adding stitches to it! Onward and upward!

I knit two whole rows on my Line & Shadow shawl and loved it. Not worth a picture though. Maybe next time.

 

 


Finish A Shawl, Learn Something New

Somehow I got some steam up, and working well into the night -- well, 10:00 p.m. -- for several nights, I got my Beachcomber Shawl done! (Usually I'm in bed at 7:00. I am a total wuss.)

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This shawl is HUGE, and it is beautiful!

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I love the drape and feel of it.

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I love the lace sections. I love the picot bind-off ... kind of a pain to do, but those little points just make me smile.

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I love doing origami with my shawl!

Since this shawl was knit with a cotton/linen blend yarn, I wove the yarn in by piercing the purl bumps on the wrong side, because I thought it would hold the yarn better and keep it from unraveling. That got me thinking about doing a Russian join on the places where I ran out of a color and had to start a new ball with more of the same color. I could just cut the yarn on the edge, but I thought that this yarn would be the perfect place to use a Russian join.

I never did one before, but I thought one day I would; it just looked very cool, something to file away for a day that I needed it. Then, I had a stroke, and I thought that I never would be able to do a Russian join without my right hand. I was bummed. Like most things that I "can't do", it simmered away on my back brain burner. I decided to try it, and voilá, it worked! A perfect Russian join! (I like iknitwithcatfur's videos. Subscribe! :)

 


March Marched By Me, Now It Is April!

Happy Easter and April Fools! Two for one holidays! 

Sorry for not posting in a while. My very dear mother in law, Arline Collins, passed away on March 8, and I wasn't much into paying attention to my blog (sorry), but now I am back. Arline was truly a great craftsman.

I finished the Close to You shawl by Justyna Lorkowska that I was knitting with Lynne. She finished hers first! We didn't take a photo of them together, silly us. Here is mine:

Close to You

I like how it came out. I wear it a lot!

I started an easy cowl pattern after Arline died, one that was all knitting with just little eyelets. It is the Still Waters Cowl from the Swans Island Design Team, and I used Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Fingering to knit it. It feels so soft and wonderful! It feels like cashmere, but it is merino. 

Stillwaters Cowl

That is the only photo I have of it so far. I finished it March 29 and wore it every day until April 2 ... then I spilled blueberry jam all over it, and it has been in the wash ever since (we are temporarily out of Eucalan). It is indigo blue, so at least the stain matches!

I have four WIPs going on right now. Four is not many for some people; heck, I had up to thirty WIPs in progress at one time, pre-stroke! Now, I like to keep my WIPs  to two or three. Four is borderline crazy.

First of all, my turquoise zebra blanket (pattern: Make A Long Story Short by Wanda Sowizdrzal) is languishing. It is still in the same place; I haven't touched it in about two months. I love that blanket, and I yearn to work on it, but I can't seem to do it. It bothers me, but I have got to get other things done first.

Secondly, I started Mary Jane Mucklestone's Pine Star Hat with some leftover blue and white worsted weight yarn. I started the hat a while ago, but haven't finished the ribbing yet. Sigh. This hat will be soooo much fun to knit! But I feel I must get some things finished first. I started it in a fit of startitis, overcome by the yarn fumes of excitement, but I managed to save myself.

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Thirdly, I started the Beachcomber Shawl that I was lucky enough to receive as a Christmas gift! I love the colors of this shawl. It is a Knit Picks yarn called Cotlin (70% Tanguis coton, 30% linen), DK weight, which means it knits up quickly on size US8/4.5mm needles! I like the drape of  yarn; it feels soft with the cotton, yet has the heaviness and fluidity of the linen. I will be able to drape it and feel elegant and beautiful. The pattern Beachcomber is by Chelsea Berkompas and it's available on Ravelry.

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I figure it's about 45% done.

I find that there are a lot of ends to weave in, so I started right away to weave them in as I go. That way when I  finish it, it'll be well and truly done, and I won't have a week's worth of end-weaving to do!

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Ends


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Ends Woven In

 

Finally, my Line and Shadows shawl is 49.98967% done ... it is almost halfway! I knit and knit and knit on this shawl, but it seems to never make any headway. I love to knit it though, so that is okay.

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Line and Shadows by Elizabeth Elliot; Swans Island Sterling Collection fingering in Amethyst, and Filatura Di Crosa Superior in Black.

I'm almost done the decreases on the black "lines" side. Then somehow I begin reversing the shaping, and starting with a few stitches of the black lines, growing them inch by inch until they overtake the "shadow" columns entirely.

This shawl feels very light and airy and dreamy. Swans Island yarn is so soft and luscious, and Superior is cashmere, silk, and a little merino all fluffed up together, so that you don't knit with it so much as direct it into place neatly. 

I love all my knitting projects. I just wish I could get something done! Partly because the projects that I have waiting in the wings are soooooo fabulous! But those will have to wait til I start them :))


Diving In Again

My stealth knitting is over for the moment, so I am diving into my Line and Shadows shawl again! This is how far I have got over the last few days:

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This is how far I was when I put it down:

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So exciting! This is a lovely pattern, and it is easy enough to be TV knitting; I just have to remember one increase and one decrease every other row, and the contrast color every four rows. Both of my yarns are beautiful. I am pleased with it. 

After all the stitches in the stripes section are decreased, I will swap the shaping and work at making the stripes section longer and longer, and the plain columns section shorter and shorter, til the plain columns section is all gone. Simple! Easy! Beautiful! 

How is your February knitting going?

 


5 Shawls in 5 Days??

I finished my secret knitting project just in time to do the Aroha Knits '5 Shawls in 5 Days Challenge'. It was a blast! Five itty bitty shawls, shaped perfectly! And each one took less than an hour to make. This is what I made:

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I learned about shaping shawls, so there may be a shawl in the offing. My creative juices are flowing!

I also learned that you need to bind off really really really really loosely on the square shawl. With the Pi/circle shawl, I bound off with crocheting 2 stitches together, chain 8, just to make it lie flat! The loops are cRaZy. I pinned it out before I had my coffee this morning. 

I'm off to do a gauge swatch for another secret knitting project, so it may be awhile before I post again.  Don't worry! 


Poking My Head Up

I haven't done much knitting that I can talk about -- I am knitting, but it is for a yarn company, and they neeeeeeed it, so that has been what I have been doing. 

But, in the days since my last post and before the stealth knitting began, I worked on the Turquoise Zebra Blanket, which is now half as wide as it should be:

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Line and Shadow was zooming right along:

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Last February, Lynne and I went to Spa Knit & Spin in Freeport. We went shopping at Mother of Purl Yarn Shop in Freeport and saw a shawl there that we both liked. So this year, we both started this shawl together:

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This is Close to You by Justyna Lorkowska, a simple knit with gorgeous yarn. We are both knitting it with Schoppel-Wolle's  Crazy Zauberball  in color Frische Fische (Tropical Fish). It was knit in the same color and yarn in the shop, and it was beautiful. It has a really cute tag for the yarn: 

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Nicky would be proud. 

 


Of Endings and Beginnings

My brown Norderny is done!

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I've already worn it twice. and it fits perfectly. Good thing we have had some warmish weather this week, because it is only 25% wool and the rest is acrylic, so it isn't very warm ... just stylish :)

Theodore loves his new hat:

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My turquoise zebra blanket is coming right along:

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So far I have one and a half feet of the width out of a total of four feet. This blanket is going to be a monster ... a warm, cuddly turquoise zebra monster.

I started the KAL for Elizabeth Elliot's designs in the Unique One group on Friday. I am knitting Line and Shadow shawl which looks like this when it is finished:

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©Gale Zucker 2016

I am using three skeins of Swans Island Sterling Collection fingering yarn in Amethyst (I know. Purple.) and Filatura di Crosa Superior in black:

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After a day of knitting I did this:

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It looks Victorian. I was going for classy. Maybe it will be classy Victorian. 

I also started a year-long knit along in the Beginner's Knit-Along Group (hey, we are all beginners at something!) to make a 2018 Colourwork Scarf. I have a lot of fingering weight scraps and odd 50-gram balls in various colors (well, hmmmm mostly purple) to use up, and this seemed like the perfect project for it! You get a new chart every month and knit merrily along. Some people bought two colors of yarn for their project, and others like me are using up odds and ends. Then, just in time for Christmas, you have a pretty scarf to give away!

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A little handspun and some scraps of fingering weight yarn

I plan to knit six inches a month and that will give me a five foot scarf, though it could be longer. This first month is a pretty simple design for beginners. I'm using it as my TV knitting, so that is fine with me!

Did you see the Challenge tab on your projects page in Ravelry? It's new. I have filled mine up with 30 projects so far. My brain might explode!


Brrr! It's Cold!

It was -4°F this morning! But it will warm up this week; by Friday maybe the temperatures will hit 40°F --- woohoo! 

 

So, while it was bitter cold, I made a little hat for Theodore:

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I felt warmer knitting it :) The pattern is in Robin Hansen's Favorite Mittens book (and in Flying Geese & Partridge feet also). I used scraps of sunny gold/yellow Hauk from Dale of Norway and orange that was leftover from my handspun Orange Maluka.

I got a sleeve done on my brown Norderny sweater:

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Actually the sleeve is all done, and I have about three decreases done on the second sleeve ... but I am too lazy and cold to get up and take a picture of it. It will probably be done for my next post. 

 Stay warm everyone! Keep knitting!

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Resolutions

I used to  make resolutions in the new year: lose weight, exercise more, get a grip on my life, etc. You know what they say, better be careful what you wish for? Does the story of The Monkey's Paw come to mind? After I had my stroke, I had all the time in the world to knit; my life is much, much, to the point of being horrifying, simpler; I lost 60 pounds; and I walked about 10.000 steps a day (until I didn't; I should get back to it). Now I live a lot closer to the moment, so my resolutions are not as far ranging. They will involve knitting, because that is one thing I can count on. 

My Resolutions for 2018

1. For everything that I knit for myself (to give away or keep), I resolve to knit one or more items for charity. The homeless veterans that my friend Marie helps every December deserve so much; the least I can do is give them a warm hat or socks or mittens. As the wife of a veteran, I am appalled that our veterans don't get what they need, but that has always been the case. I am still appalled. Also, as I knit for the wonderful children in my life, I also know that other kids are without the warmth of a hand knitted hat or mittens to keep them warm when they play outside in the winter, and that is something I want to lend a hand in. There is a local school to which it will be very good to give little hats and mittens. My sister Rachel taught for years, and she always loved to get mittens and hats for kids who needed them. She knit for classrooms after she retired, so I will carry on the tradition.

2. Be happy. It's always a struggle. But, a happy knitter is a better knitter!

It's a pretty short list, but short lists are easier to achieve!

My brown Norderny is about 60% done:

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I bound off the body last night, and I will start knitting the sleeves today. I love this sweater!

I knit one hat for a veteran, and I am about 80% done a second one. They both look like this:

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The pattern is Barley from TinCanKnits and the yarn is Paintbox by Knit One, Crochet Too, now discontinued. TinCanKnits has so many wonderful free patterns! 

Nancy Howard, a valued Unique One employee, dropped off a bunch of yarn at my house. It was mostly on cones, and a couple  gigantic cones were sport weight acrylic, black and turquoise. I was thrilled at the black and turquoise, but not so thrilled that it was acrylic. But,  I twirled them together with a ply of sport weight wool in natural, et voilà! Visions of turquoise zebras danced in my head!

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Behold my Turquoise Zebra blanket! It's soft and cushy, and while it would be warmer if it were all wool, still, it is some good against the cold. I think I have enough yarn for two or three 4' x 6' blankets. The pattern I am using is Make A Long Story Short by Wanda Sowizdral. It is a free pattern and is written for fingering weight yarn, but my turquoise zebra yarn is on a US10.5/6.5mm needle, so it is bulky. I'll just knit it until it is about four feet up one side, and then I'll make it straight til it's about six feet, and then I will finish it off. Simple geometry. Bulky weight makes things go so much faster! 

Finally, here is the picture of  Sidney wearing her purple Aran coat. The grin is priceless!

 
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Brown Study

I hope all of you had a good Christmas! It was snowy here in Maine, and we had a quiet Christmas. I got a lot of knitting done, though.

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This is what I was working on. I started this sweater back in June, and got sidetracked doing other things, but after I got the purple Aran coat done, I brought it out of hibernation. It is knitting up fairly quickly.

The pattern is Norderny by Isabelle Kraemer.


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It is knit from the top down, with a simple little pattern up the front, and a plain stockinette back and sleeves. Easy peasy. I only had about 5 rows done on the back when I started, and I am already over 40% done with it just since I started in again on December 19th.

The yarn is Webster from Wildwood  Yarns, which I got from WEBS, a fabulous yarn heaven. It is a machine-washable DK weight yarn, 75% acrylic and 25% wool, which I got because it was too good a deal to pass up. I don't really love acrylic yarn, but this yarn feels ok --- still acrylic-y, but it doesn't squeak when I move in it. I sold a ton of Plymouth Encore from Unique One, and this is similar. Webster is on sale: 300 yards for 1.49??? I'll take it. My whole sweater would only cost me about $7.50, if I bought it today. In orange or green, the colors that are left. They are having  closeout.

WEBS is having a huge year-end sale at the moment, so if you need yarn, now is the time! Also, I heard that Over the Rainbow is having a going out of business sale too, so if you are in the Rockland, Maine area, go buy yarn! 


Ta Daaaa! It's Finished!

My purple Aran Coat for a special little girl is done! I think she will like it, don't you?

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I still have to steam the collar; it refuses to lie still without flipping up, something that I have always had problems with.

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The color of it is a pretty, dark, eggplant-y purple, not lilac as shown here. But the lilac shows up the pattern very well, so I left it!

Also, happy birthday to my sister-in-law Pam! Have a happy day!


So Close ....

I got the yarn from WEBS the day after my last blog post, and thankfully, it was the same dye lot. Thank you WEBS!

It was a bit tricky to knit and to sew together, but here it is:

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Now all I have to do is knit the button bands, sew everything together, weave in the ends, take out the millions of cat hairs, and steam block it. Probably be done in another six months. 


Well Damn

I ran out of yarn three rows before starting the border around the collar on my little Aran Coat:

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I saw that I was running out when I started the collar. But the thing is, I had no idea what shape the collar was going to be, nor the size of it. The pictures in the book didn't show it, nor did the schematic diagram show the collar. Upon reading the directions, though, it was clear that the collar was a sizeable piece of intricate knitting, so I went ahead and ordered another skein of yarn. I hope that WEBS still has the dye lot, but if they don't, oh well -- it will just mean that the border around the collar and the button bands will be a slightly different shade of purple!

I usually order an extra skein of yarn when ordering a sweater amount, but for some reason I didn't this time, and it bit me in the ass. Lesson learned! Even though you think you know what you are doing (I mean, I used a calculator and everything), always order extra yarn! The bonus is, I'll have purple for my scrappy hats! Yay! My purple yarn should be here today or tomorrow.


The Unique One Knitting Group

Back when Unique One was open, there was a knitting group, and it was a lovely thing which brought people together. I thought it was about time for me to start one up on Ravelry because I missed it, and there may or may not be something in the offing in January which will necessitate having a place to talk together. 

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At the end of August a designer named Elizabeth Elliot put out a notice that for a few days all her pattern sales would be donated to Hurricane Harvey relief, and I bought a few patterns, and a couple people expressed an interest in some sort of a Knit-along of her patterns for fun in January. I have been thinking about resurrecting Unique One's knitting group and thought, well, we need a place for the knit-long, so why not do it now? So I made a group. People started to show up.

If you  would like to join in on the Unique One knitting group, or if you know anyone who would, just send them to Ravelry.  Click this link to join the group, and that's it! You're in! You can say a lot or a little, or just sit and watch for a while, much like the real Unique One knitting group. But this one has the advantage of being virtual, you can be anywhere in the world, visit the group when you want to, and I even included a chat room if you want to converse with people. (I don't really know how to use  a chat room, but it sounded good. Hey, maybe for football Sunday we could use it to knit and yak and watch football together? Cool. Anyway.) 

You do have to join Ravelry and have a username, but it is free. All you have to do is sign up! Let me know if you have any problems getting a Ravelry account and I'll try to talk you through it.

 


Score!

Need a quick, simple counter that runs in your browser? Check out Scoreboardz! Designed to keep score for several people, it's a gaming device, but I used it for counting my increases on the sleeve of the little purple Aran Coat that I am making. I bookmarked it too, so I can use it in the future. It probably would not be my counter of choice for a whole project, because it may get deleted or the cat may step on the keys and increase the number astronomically. But for something simple, it's nice.

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It can keep track of 12 people (or increases or decreases or whatever) and it has 10 backgrounds to choose from. Pretty cool, I think. Anyway, just thought I would share that with you. I'm putting it here in my blog so I can find it again in the event that I lose my bookmark!


Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is behind us and we are starting to get into the spirit of good will and cheer. I finished the Christmas stocking that I was working on:

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It's so pretty! I didn't buy the colors specifically for a Christmas stocking, but they work. I mostly used Arne & Carlos' Christmas Stocking, but I added Mary Jane Mucklestone's book 200 Fair Isle Motifs (#110, snowflakes) and Renée Kies socks pattern O Dennenboom for the Christmas trees.

I also updated the look of my blog. The flowers were looking a bit too flowery, so I streamlined the look, and made a new banner. I used a fabulous free font for the title: Kingthings Needles by Kevin King. There are lots of cool things on his site, and more fonts too. Go check him out!


Oh Hi There!

Whoops! It is November already! I've done stuff!

Stuff I Made:

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Purple fingerless mitts. Pattern: Sally Roger's Reading Mitts, by Sally Rogers. I used Jo Sharp DK wool. These would make a good Christmas gift! They were quick to knit and they look fabulous.

Next, I made some baby things for a baby who is about to be born. 

 

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The baby blanket didn't have a pattern, but it was made from Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton DK. The sweater  is Oat Couture Victorian T-shirt by Annie Dempsey, and I knit it from Katia Mississippi 3 Print. I started to knit it right before I had my stroke, and I finally got to finish it! The socks are knit from Yankee Knitter #29 Classic Socks for the Family by Melinda Goodfellow, out of scraps from my sheep socks. The adorable booties are Little Eyes by Inma Gijón, and I knit them out of fingering weight cashmere that I believe was once something in a kit, but I am not sure what. Couldn't be cuter than those booties though!

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I made a pair of adult socks too, from Yankee #29, but they were from Tofutsies yarn that was in my stash.

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I've made six hats, but I only used two patterns: Storhedder, by Mary Jane Mucklestone (the two mostly pink hats), and Stash Slip Stitch Hat by Renée Rico (the green/yellow/black/white one). The others were just ... hats. All were out of scrap yarn! I have been on a hat kick lately, and I have a pile o' knitting ahead of me to use up. Remember the Mousies of Doom from a few years ago? Well, this is the same thing, but with hats. And no catnip. 

Stuff I Am Doing Now:

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The Aran purple coat keeps getting interrupted by other things, but it is moving steadily along toward the finish line! The back and right front are done, and the left front is about half done. I have bagged the idea of using old-fashioned techniques to knit it, in favor of snapping pictures of stuff that I need from the book and making a spreadsheet to keep track of the rows. Blame it on Pogo. She kept sprawling across all the lovely paper that I needed to use to knit, so I had to go to the screens. They are vertical.

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This is the beginning of a Christmas Stocking for the two year old who got the sweaters. It is based on Arne & Carlos' Christmas Stocking (go check them out on YouTube and on their blog, they are a hoot! They have tons of useful and entertaining information too!). I have added pattern #110 from Mary Jane Mucklestone's 200 Fair Isle Motifs, and the Christmas Trees from O Dennenboom (socks) by Renée Kies

Stuff I am Not Doing:

I am no longer knitting my Daily Mindfulness Blanket; it was turning out too heavy for a blanket and what I finished is now Pogo's daily mindfulness purring and kneading mat. She loves it. I think I will start it again in lighter weight yarn, not scrap yarn -- something DK or sport, with gradual color changes like Noro. That would be pretty as well as giving me a good project for mindfulness. 

I unraveled my Ka'ana Shawlette too, for similar reasons. I was using a hairy, sturdy Aran weight yarn and the resulting fabric was too stiff and bulky and itchy ... I really couldn't see anyone cuddling up in it. The yarn is perfect for hats though! Woohoo! I'll use a different yarn for Ka'ana, something silkier and softer; it will be a joy to work with. I think I have something in my stash, in fact ...

Nanowrimo. Sigh. I finally got an incredible story idea, something big and broad and mysterious and delightful yet a bit scary, but I got the idea on October 31 (and it isn't a Halloween story either), which meant that I didn't have time to do any research but hey, that is life. Unfortunately the power was out, but I wrote for one day on November 1, and then my iPad died. And my iPhone died. And my computer died. It took a week for power to be restored ... so I decided that it was a higher power who decided that I should do the research and get my spiffy new idea good and ready for next year! So I will be all set for Nanowrimo 2018!