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.

Scoreboardz

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!


Odds & Ends, and Knitting Words and Their Lack of Digitality

After finishing my sheep socks, I had a lot of leftover yarn sitting in the bag looking balefully at me. Now, although I have a bajillion favorites in my "Colorwork" bundle on Ravelry, none of them sang to me. I just wanted something simple, something easily, mindlessly knit while watching NCIS shows in the evening. I am therefore knitting a children's hat with a couple stripes in it for interest. 

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It is going slow.

The pattern (yes, although this hat is drop-dead simple, I used a pattern; that is how pathetic I have become) is DROPS 12-37

My main project at the moment is the Aran Coat from Debbie Bliss in purple. Actually, this color deserves an exclamation point and all caps, it is a show stopper -- it is an Aran Coat in PURPLE!!

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Hehehe. Gotta love it. Also I love my awesome new bookmark that Lynne painted for me. It is of hollyhocks in pinks and purples that seem to go with the Aran Coat! 

This pattern is the Aran coat from Debbie Bliss Classic Knits for Kids, which was first published in 1994, and is now out of print. (Your library may help you to find a copy, and there are used booksellers too.)

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That was before the Internet really got going, so the book is really not digital in any way. I was kind of stunned at how dependent I had become on my computer when I knit. Usually I download the pattern, read it on some screen or another, keep notes in a sticky note on the screen, keep track of where I am with a line or a ruler that I can just move into place on the screen. But this pattern? Nope. 

It. Is. A. Book. 

Yikes. 

My first inclination was to put all the panels for the Aran in pictures on my iPhone, put them all into a .pdf document, and bam! But I didn't. I decided to do it the old-fashioned way.

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Also, there are  NO CHARTS. Ugh. Everything is written out. With words! Knitting words! 

I had forgotten how much concentration this way of knitting took. But the Aran Coat is going well and I am enjoying it, once I remembered all the skills that I hadn't used in like, ten years. It's coming out very cute. 

Because of the concentration required and the space it takes up on the table, I have also started knitting a shawl to use up some worsted weight that I had lying around. I am knitting the Ka'ana shawlette by Jennifer Weissman, which promises to be a lovely thing to snuggle into and it will be knit quickly too, since it is on size 8 needles. I am using white, oatmeal and pink and maybe dark gray, I don't know yet. But it'll be pretty.

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And it is really easy to knit!!!!!!!

 

 


Sheeps Socks, and a Wonderful Thing!

My sheep socks are done:

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Now it just needs to get cold enough to wear them! They are sooooo beautiful ... but there is a lot of end-weaving-in to do.

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I wove in the  ends as I knit, and I am glad I did.  There would be approximately 65 ends to weave in for one sock, and even for someone like me who doesn't mind weaving in ends, that is a lot. So if you are one of those people who has sweaters in the closet, all knit, just waiting to have the ends woven in, beware! You may need to find a weaving-in buddy that you can trade something with. Just sayin'.

My friend Barb and her husband Mark stopped by for their annual visit the other day, and it was great to see them. Look what they are lending me for a whole year:

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Five audible knitting books! It's a Wonderful Thing!! I am so thankful to have good friends. 

Here is my next project:

Purple yarn

This is purple yarn for an Aran coat sweater for a little girl who loves purple! I'll tell you all about it next time!


Sleepy Sheep and Decisions

I finally got some 3.0mm (2.5US) needles and started my Sleepy Sheep socks!

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That was when I just started. After an evening of TV knitting this is what I had:

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Things progress quickly when knitting sport weight socks! I think these socks will be my favorite socks this winter; a double thickness of sport weight yarn will be cozy! I say "double thickness' because of the stranding of the unused color which runs along the back of the work, which makes them really cozy feeling.

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The Norwegian sweaters with the patterned yokes around the shoulders were not just for decoration; the double stranding of the bulky weight yarn made them really warm, like wearing a shawl or cloak around your shoulders. Smart Norwegians. They knew how to take care of the cold! 

Now for the decision I'm trying to make.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming up in November. Usually I have an idea that I've been kicking around for a while, characters kind of formulated, a plot that is hanging loosely in my mind. This year? I've got nothing. I mean N O T H I N G. 

I've been told that I should write about my stroke and recovery. The problem is, for the most exciting part, I was in a coma. And I am still recovering. And besides, I think if I write anything about it, it will have to be a non-fiction book, something to be used by the people who most need it: stroke survivors. I don't think it should be a NaNoWriMo book. 

Which got me thinking about NaNoWriMo writing. I realized I just write NaNoWriMo books "for fun".  They are a way of filling Novembers up. I never do anything with them after I write them; I don't even read them again. Why would I want to read something so horrible?? I know, you are telling me that I should do all the stuff to edit them and get them published. The problem is, it is a lot of work to get something publishable. And I am really lazy. If I am going to work that hard on something, I want it to be something important, like working to walk without my brace or using my right hand and arm. Publishing a book seems not that important, especially a piece of fluff like my writing. 

I'll think about it further, but right now I am not very enthusiastic about it. Maybe I just need more coffee! Or an idea!


Back to School in Sweaterland

It's back to school time! Hope all the young beasts out there are appropriately joyful (or miserable, as the case may be.)

I knit some birthday presents for Georgia and Thomas and gave them to them last weekend. Thomas' should have been given much earlier, but late is better than never, especially when it comes to birthday presents!

Terrifying Thomas loved his "pirate ship" sweater:

Pirate ship sweater
Pirate ship sweater

The first photo is a truer representative of the color; it is a fairly bright blue. Not glaring, just bright. The second picture is of it as it was blocking.  The yarn is Valley Yarns Superwash, an extra fine merino that is easy care. The pattern I used was Hélène Rush's Sailboat Pullover. I made the 4 year old size, as Thomas turned 4. It fit him nicely and he loves it, but I don't think it will fit for long. He keeps growing!! 

Georgia loved her "back to school" sweater too ... I think she hasn't taken it off yet!

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I asked Georgia to choose the colors, and she picked bright pink, of course. It is Drops Merino Extra Fine UniColor that is superwash, so it is easy care too, but it is 100% wool so it should be warm. I can't believe how soft both of these sweaters were. You would never believe they were wool sweaters! The pattern I used for Georgia's sweater was Ewelina Murach's Flower Cardigan.  She also has nine other FlowerMotif things that she has written the pattern for, including a pullover, a t-shirt, a dress, and hats for kids, as well as a Flower pullover, cardigan, hats and a scarf for adults. And they are all seamless to knit ... no sewing involved! 

Unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of the back, so I stole one:

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It was a fun sweater to knit. 

I didn't start my Sleepy Sheep socks. I couldn't believe I didn't have a size 3.0mm needle (2.5 US). Dang it. But as soon as I get one I will do it!! 


Aaaaaand It Is September!

I've been doing a lot of knitting, some of which I have pictures of:

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Purple Reyna ... I love it! I had finished it before my last post, but this is a new picture.

Cresting Wave Shawl

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I was working on this on my last post. It is the Cresting Waves shawl. I blocked it (my living room is filled with the giant foam insulation board that I use to block things); blocking big, wet things is fairly hard to do with one hand and no magic, but somehow I did it. I love wearing this! It is soft and light and airy, but oh so warm! It is only 45°F here today on the coast of Maine, so I have it around my neck as I type. Sure feels nice.

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These are the Ainigma mittens from Tori Seierstad. They were a mystery knitalong that I did in the summer, and I had a lot of fun.  I may make them in different colors sometime.

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Another mystery knitalong that I did this summer was the Calendula shawl by Susanna IC. It is a beautiful design! I may make this one again at some point too. I love wearing it!

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I just finished these men's socks. I am using up yarn that was part of an afghan kit from long ago in grays and browns, not really my colors. It feels good to use up yarn!

I am using the beige wool to knit this at the moment:

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This will be a toddler cardigan for my great niece, who has a birthday coming up in November. The pattern is free, and it is a joy to knit: Liva, from Signe Strømgaard.  I just started it yesterday, and I am already dividing the sleeves off from the body. Amazing how quick it is to knit a two-year-old size sweater with aran weight yarn! The yarn is Naturally Aran 10-ply, which is discontinued, unfortunately.

Later this weekend I plan to start some socks that I have been dying to knit for a while: Sleepy Sheep socks from Drops.

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I ordered the yarn from Drops, too, in those exact colors, and they will be adorable! And warm! The yarn is Karisma, a 100% wool yarn, dk in weight. They will be fun to knit!

Elizabeth Elliot has patterns for sale on Ravelry; she is giving 100%  of the profit from them to Hurricane Harvey victims until midnight tonight. I got a bunch of patterns, and I am doing a knitalong in January to use a pattern or two. I like Line and Shadow and Northwest Passage. If you would like to join me in January to knit them, stay tuned!

 

 


It's the Middle of June Already!

Time goes so fast when you are not doing much at all! 

We watched The Wizard of Oz a couple nights ago. It was a fun return to my childhood. I remember that the whole family watched the little black and white television: Mum, Dad, a couple siblings and I. Everyone was all grown up but me. I was so scared of that wicked witch! I never realized that it was in color once Dorothy got to Oz; it was a nice surprise. Anyway, Dorothy says, "My! People come and go so quickly here!" In my case, it was time that went quickly!

So, what have I been up to? I was sooooo sick with a cold for about two weeks, but I am all over it, thank goodness. I rarely get sick at all, but this cold laid me low. During those two weeks I could just sleep and drink a lot of water and cough, a lot.  But I did get some knitting done after I got better.

I finished my Harpswell Inn Hitchhiker:

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I find that I wear it more than anything right now, and it is very colorful! I love it.

I have been bad about getting pictures of my finished projects, so you will have to use your imagination a bit on these. I finished Reyna out of some hand dyed purple fingering weight.

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This is the picture I got of it.

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This is the picture from the pattern.  It's a fun knit, fairly mindless, and quite pretty when it is done. It has gone upstairs to be blocked. No telling if I will ever see it again.

I knit a pair of purple socks; again, only one is pictured, but rest assured that I knit the complete pair!

Purple socks

That was my TV knitting for  a couple weeks. 

What I am working on now is a shawlette from the book MAINE knits, by Beatrice Perron Dahlen. It is called the Cresting Waves Shawl and is designed by Leah B. Thibault. 

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(photo from Leah B. Thibault)

I am using a skein of Meadow by the Fiber Company in the color Bellflower.

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It is a light fingering weight merino wool, baby llama, silk, and linen blend which has a lovely drape (thank you, linen) and sheen (thank you, silk) that feels soft and warm and luxurious (nods to the merino wool and the baby llama). I love this combo of fibers, and I have never seen it before. 

It likes to fight my needles a bit, as it seems to have its own mind, so at times I have to be forceful to make it go where I want it to go. (I suspect the linen is responsible for this.) Sometimes at first, it flew right off the needles when I wasn't paying attention! Twice! The first time I was only a few rows up so I unraveled it and started over, and the second time I said, "Shit!!" "Look, Mister, you had just better behave!!!" and I got it back on the needle. I learned my lesson, and it has been under my watchful eye ever since. I think when this lace panel is done and I am working on the plain stockinette part, it will be much better behaved. 

This yarn feels so good! I can't wait to wear it!! Here is what there is so far, after three and a half repeats of the lace panel:

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I wish you could feel it. It is so yummy.

Have a good day, everyone. Isn't this weather wild?? So hot and then so cold! 

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Despair, and Determination

Backstory: In 2010 I had a pretty bad stroke, and I probably should have  died, but thanks to a series of remarkably lucky events I stayed alive. I learned to breathe and swallow, eventually moving from my bed to a wheelchair and then to a brace and cane. I got the use of some fingers back and can pinch a circular needle now. In short, I have spent the last seven years recovering from my stroke, and I still have a lot of improvement to go, but I am working on it.

My stroke paralyzed my right side, and I was right-handed, which meant that besides all the stuff that I needed to learn how to do all over again like breathing and swallowing, there was the added trauma of learning to do everything in life not only one-handed, but left-handed as well. Sometimes life just sucks so much. But, I'm still alive. Gotta love it.

Thanks to the fact that it was 2010, technology made it possible that I didn't have to learn to write. My occupational therapist let me focus on my knitting, and it was a good thing that she did. With the exception of the very rare occasions that I have had to legibly sign my name on paper (I can count on one hand how many times it was) I have never had to write anything by hand at all. Handwriting schmandwriting, we can all just keyboard. Keyboarding is faster and easier and more legible than handwriting anyway! Yay!

But in the back of my mind, a frown was growing. A feeling that I was not doing something important to learn for my mind and my well-being. I spent a lot of time ignoring it, and spent the time walking and improving my knitting. My knitting now is exactly as it was before my stroke. I am pleased with that.

But the frown in my mind had not abated, it had grown and time had not made it go away. The dark, seamy side of What Can't I Do suddenly took on a name: I couldn't handwrite. Everything else in life, I had made progress on, significant progress. But I couldn't handwrite a story neatly and legibly. For someone who had taught penmanship to junior high students (at least a little bit), that really grated on my nerves.

I was always the woman in love with journals and pencils and pens. I loved to write, I spent many happy hours writing my journal and my stories. I loved the feel of the pencil or the pen as it moved across the paper. As I hand-wrote, I could think about what it was that I wanted to say. You could say that my mind poured out through my pen onto my paper.

I had set up a thing with my sister who had been a primary school teacher, and I would write her a letter every week, and it seemed to help ... but then she died and I quit writing again. By this point it was 2015, five years after my stroke. I searched the internet for anything about learning to write and was met with thousands of second grade level happy little worksheets. I did some of them, but you know. I was 55 years old.  I determined to get a notebook and write every day.  Sadly, no one ever needed to have anything handwritten anymore. I despaired and flirted with depression.

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That is what I wrote on January 6, 2015. It is appallingly bad, especially when you realize I wrote it agonizingly slowly. I was writing at my best. 

I wrote like that for a few months and quit. 

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That is from December 14 of the same year. My handwriting was even worse.  So then I really quit. Quit quitter quit quit quit. There was still keyboarding, thank God.

I got into coloring books, thinking that that would help train my fingers to hold a pencil, and to my surprise I could color without making a mess of things:

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But, it was so slow that it wasn't any fun anymore. I started a couple more pictures and I quit. Again.

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Time passed, two years went by, but the little frowny face in my mind was still there and fuming. It just rankled me that there was something that I couldn't do, something that I couldn't work on to make better. So back to  the internet I went. 

And holy pencils Batman! There it was!! 

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Handwriting for Heroes: Learn to Write with Your Non-dominant Hand in Six Weeks, by Kathleen E. Yancosek, Kristin Gulick, & Amanda Sammons. All the alphabet letters after their names mean that the authors are totally qualified in occupational therapy. These authors are gods. The bibliography in the book alone is impressive.

Handwriting for Heroes was originally written for people in the military who had lost the use of their hand which had been used for handwriting. It has grown to be used by stroke victims and many others: people who due to surgery or a short-term illness to their dominant hand have to write for their jobs, even people who just want to be able to write legibly with their non-dominant hand for the fun of it. I like it because finally I found something that made me handwrite, but without the hassle of going back to primary school.

For the past six weeks I have followed the course set out in the book. It is more like a workbook. There are various exercises in the pages to make me write every day, for about an hour. Yes, at first I had to take lots of breaks, and my writing really sucked. Right at the beginning of the book, at the top of the introduction, the authors say in big letters that you can't miss, in slightly more pleasant words, that your writing is gonna really suck out loud, that my hand will feel weird as hell holding the pencil, and this is gonna take a lot of time. 

My writing really sucked at the beginning when I set down my goals for the week:

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But bit by bit my writing grew to resemble normalcy:

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I can write again. My handwriting is still not perfect, not as pretty as it used to be, and it is not as fast as it used to be, but now I can work on it. Handwriting for Heroes helped me jumpstart my writing, and now I can work to make it easier and better and maybe, just maybe, I'll get back to the kind of writing I used to enjoy.

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Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!

My goodness, is it May already?? Wow. 

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I finished a couple things. The red Mystery in March shawl is done:

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It's more of a scarf, a decorative scarf I guess. I like it quite a bit and it used up the red yarn I had, and I actually have worn it a few times. I finished it on March 30 but didn't get it blocked and photographed for about a week.

I finally finished my six foot long Amy's Scarf!

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This has been in the works for nearly a year, though I sent it to hibernation for a good deal of the time to work on other things. It may turn out to be more or less than six feet long; I haven't blocked it yet. I absolutely love this scarf and the pattern was easy, once it clicked into place in my mind and I could just knit without any charts.

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 And yes ... it is more red. And the Harpswell Inn cowl was red. Everyone needs more red in their knitting! Remember when you were a little kid and your favorite color was red? Well, mine was anyway. What was your favorite color when you were five years old?

My project that is currently on the needles and going at a great pace, I might add, is a Hitchhiker Scarf made with Lang Yarns Jawoll Color Superwash that I got at the Harpswell Inn Knitting Weekend. 

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It is called "Hitchhiker" because in the words of the designer, "The name? Well, if you use a 150 g skein of Wollmeise 100% Merino for this, you can make how many teeth? That‘s right, 42. The answer to the question about the universe and everything, according to Douglas Adams‘ wonderful book „The Hitchhiker‘s Guide to the Galaxy“. So don‘t forget your towel, and happy knitting!" 

Pretty clever! But I am not using Wollmeise Merino, so I don't think I will get all 42 teeth on my edge. We will see. It is knitting up very fast and unlike Amy's scarf, it is all garter stitch and easy peasy to knit. I love it!


Harpswell Inn Cowl

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This cowl fits closely around the neck and is a really warm cowl. If you want it looser, you can make more squares or use a larger needle. Have fun! 

HARPSWELL INN COWL

(designed and knit at the Harpswell Inn Knitting Weekend, 2017)


1 skein Lamb’s Pride Worsted (MC)
1 skein Gina by Plymouth (CC)
(Two worsted weights, about 175 yards of MC and about 70 yards of CC)

Size 7 double pointed needles

16” size 7 circular needle  

Tapestry needle

OPTIONAL -- stitch markers, if you use a circular needle or two for Magic Loop method or two circulars method instead of using double pointed needles

Gauge: one square = 3.75 inches square

The cowl is made by knitting 2 tiers of 6 squares, each tier off-set by half a square to provide visual interest.

FIRST SQUARE:

With MC, cast on 60 sts on 4 needles (15 sts on each needle) OR divided into 4 sections with stitch markers and join into a round without twisting.
Round 1: Knit.
Round 2: *Ssk, knit to last 2 sts on the needle/before the st marker, k2tog.* around. (13 sts per needle/marker section, 52 sts in the square)
Round 3: Purl.
Round 4: *Ssk, knit to last 2 sts on the needle/before the st marker, k2tog.* around. (11 sts per needle/marker section, 44 sts in the square)
Round 5: Purl
Round 6: *Ssk, knit to last 2 sts on the needle/before the st marker, k2tog.* around. (9 sts per needle/marker section, 36 sts in the square)
Round 7: Purl
Round 8: Knit

Cut yarn; attach CC.

Round 9: *Ssk, knit to last 2 sts on the needle/before the st marker, k2tog.* around. (7 sts per needle/marker section, 28 sts in the square)
Round 10: Purl
Round 11: *Ssk, knit to last 2 sts on the needle/before the st marker, k2tog.* around. (5 sts per needle/marker section, 20 sts in the square)
Round 12: Purl
Round 13: *Ssk, knit to last 2 sts on the needle/before the st marker, k2tog.* around. (3 sts per needle/marker section, 12 sts in the square)
Round 14: *Slip 2 sts as if to knit, k1, pull the 2 slipped stitches over the knit st -- double centered decrease made* around. (1 st per needle/marker section, 4 sts in the square)

Cut yarn and thread onto a tapestry needle, and run through the 4 sts and pull tight. Weave in all ends. *Weave in the ends as you go or there will be a LOT of ends to weave in at the end!*

SQUARES 2 THROUGH 5:

With MC, pick up 15 sts on the previous square with your needle; using other needles/using st markers to separate sts, cast on with backward loop method 15 sts on each needle/each section marked off by st markers and join into a round without twisting. (60 sts).

Work Rounds 1 - 14 and finish as before, weaving in ends.

SQUARE 6 (COMPLETES THE FIRST TIER AND JOINS THE CIRCLE TOGETHER):

With MC, pick up 15 sts on the previous square with your needle; using other needles/using st markers to separate sts, cast on with backward loop method 15 sts on next needle/next section marked off by st markers; pick up 15 sts on Square 1 with your next needle; cast on with backward loop method 15 sts on next needle/next section marked off by st markers; join into a round without twisting. (60 sts).

Work Rounds 1 - 14 and finish as before, weaving in ends.

You have 6 squares done! Now for the second tier of 6 squares.

SECOND TIER

SQUARE 7:

Pick a point about halfway along the edge of a square -- you can line up the center of the square to do this. With MC, pick up 15 sts on the edge of the squares with your needle (make sure you have ended picking up sts at the halfway point of the next square); using other needles/using st markers to separate sts, cast on with backward loop method 15 sts on each needle/each section marked off by st markers and join into a round without twisting. (60 sts).

Work Rounds 1 - 14 and finish as before, weaving in ends.

SQUARES 8 - 11:

With MC, pick up 15 sts on the edge of the square just made; pick up 15 sts along the bottom edge of squares of the first tier with your needle, making sure that the sts end up about halfway along this square; using other needles/using st markers to separate sts, cast on with backward loop method 15 sts on next two needles/on next two sections marked off by st markers and join into a round without twisting. (60 sts).

Work Rounds 1 - 14 and finish as before, weaving in ends.

SQUARE 12 (JOINS 2ND TIER INTO A CIRCLE):

With MC, pick up 15 sts on the edge of the square just made; pick up 15 sts along the bottom edge of squares of the first tier with your needle, making sure that the sts end up about halfway along this square; using other needles/using st markers to separate sts, pick up 15 sts on the edge of Square 7; cast on with backward loop method 15 sts on next two needles/on next two sections marked off by st markers and join into a round without twisting. (60 sts).

Work Rounds 1 - 14 and finish as before, weaving in ends. Now you have two tiers of squares and your cowl is almost done.

ATTACHED I-CORD FINISHING:

Using CC, cast on 4 sts and then continue to pick up 100 sts around the edge of the cowl. Work attached i-cord as follows: *Knit 3 sts, k2tog; put 4 sts back on your left needle*. Repeat between *’s around the edge of the cowl. Sew i-cord ends together with a couple stitches and weave in ends.

Repeat for other edge.

 


In the meantime ...

I started to knit Sylvi on October 22 and finished it on March 22, so it took a long time to get it done. However, I didn't work on it the whole time. I took a few long-term breaks to knit other things. 

I knit the purple Ironwood Shawl that was in the KnitScene Spring 2017 magazine, out of Wildwood Yarns Arcadia in a pretty purple. The pattern called for two skeins of Madeline Tosh Sock, which has 385 yards and is about $25 a skein; I had one skein of the Arcadia and I didn't notice that the pattern called for two skeins. Arcadia has 394 yards per skein. I knit happily along, and about the time that I went to the Spa in Freeport I noticed that I was running a bit low on yarn, and that is when I saw that the pattern called for two skeins! I estimated that the amount of yarn I had would almost come close to finishing the shawl though, so I figured I would just put another color on whenever I ran out, something that would contrast nicely and look like I had planned it that way. When I got home, I rummaged through my odds and ends of sock yarns and found some pretty lavender handspun that I made eons ago, and set it aside.

But the ball kept going and going and going. It was a magic ball! Just two rows before the end of the shawl, I finally ran out of yarn. I knit the final two rows, bound off, and am quite happy with it. If I had forked out $50 for Madeline Tosh Sock yarn though, I would have been kind of mad that it had only required about fifteen yards of the second skein.

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Beside the shawl, I knit a couple sweaters that I can't show you or talk about yet, and a bunch of hats:

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Watch Cap by Michele Rose Orne


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Bayside Beanie baby hats by Stacey McCrea Warner


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Spruce Head Hat by Michele Rose Orne

Then I designed and knit a cowl at the Harpswell Inn Knitting Weekend with yarn that was provided. It came out pretty and I'll put the picture and the pattern up here when I get the pattern written; the cowl is blocking now.

Another thing that I knit (that is still blocking) is a scarf/shawl that I recently completed. It was the Mystery in March KAL (yup, I got it done in March), a lovely asymmetrical piece in a sampler of various knitting stitches, by Tori Seierstad. The yarn I used was originally used in the Mystery Sock IX: Crazy Quilt Socks, done in Old Number 8 in a dark red yarn. After working three clues, I thought I would never wear those socks (the pattern was perfect, they just were nothing I would ever wear. Sorry.) So, when I saw the mystery shawl commencing, I ripped out the sock and started the shawl. It was a blast to knit! Pictures soon. :)

So what is on the needles now? The primary thing is Amy's Scarf, which is reinvigorated after a long hibernation that started at the end of October. I started it back in July! I have to get it done. It is inspired by the scarf that Amy Pond wore in two Dr. Who shows, and I have wanted it for years, ever since I saw it on Dr. Who. I bought just the right skein of lovely red at the Spa in 2016, a red called Rock Lobster, in Mad Color Fiber Arts Sonatina. I'm about half done!

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C'est Finis!

Sylvi is finished! The petals are knit and sewed down, the buttons are sewed on, and it is as gorgeous as my niece Hillary is. As promised, pictures:

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These are abalone buttons, from a sweater kit I ordered loooooong ago. I told Hillary that I got them about 15 years ago, but in reality I think it was about 1994 or 1995. Anyway, I don't know what happened to the sweater kit, but it is gone. However, I kept the buttons but never found the perfect place to use them until now. They were actually too heavy for the mohair cardigan in the sweater kit. Sylvi will love them!

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The hood is kind of hard to photograph, especially one-handed. There is a little flower that is sort of wrapped around the top of the hood; it was pretty hard to stitch in place, but with a steady stream of not-very-nice words, I managed. 

This was a really fun thing to knit! I don't think I will knit another Sylvi, at least not right away, but I really love the cables on the back. It is a wonderful design, carefully charted out, well-written, a good production. It came out beautiful, and I am very happy with it! You can find the pattern on the Twist Collective website (Winter 2008) or from the designer, Mari Muinonen on Ravelry.com.  


So Much Fun!

I have had so much fun the last couple of weeks! 

First, the things I have knitted: not much, actually. I have my stealth knitting project almost completed. In fact, it will be finished this week probably, and I can go to Freeport at the end of the week with a clear conscience. I have, in addition, sewn up my Sylvi coat/sweater, woven in most of the ends, and am now working on the hood:

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It is kind of hard to knit because of the weight of the sweater and only having one and a quarter hands, but it is going slowly onward. I hope to finish it next week, after SPA in Freeport. At least Hillary will be able to wear it for a couple weeks before Spring!

Second is the goodies that I have bought.

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I pre-ordered MAINEknits by Beatrice Perron Dahlen a few weeks ago, and promptly forgot it, and then there it was! I wanted to get it when I realized that all of the patterns in it were in my favorites in Ravelry, which was a sign that the book needs to be on my shelf.  I was pleased to find that the book has really gorgeous pictures of Maine, a foreword by Pam Allen, and well-written essays by Sarah Kilch Gaffney, Julie Letowski, Samantha Lindgren and Beck Robbins in addition to beautiful, highly-wearable and desirable-to-knit patterns by fourteen excellent designers, including Beatrice Perron Dahlgren. 

The book is divided into three sections: Sea, Farm, and Wild, which is how I think of Maine too. I'm from Aroostook county, Maine, the wilderness was all around me in Portage where I lived, my father was a farmer, and now I live by the sea! There are five or six patterns in each section, totaling seventeen patterns in the book. Most of them are sweaters and accessories for women, but a few are unisex too, and one is photographed on a man and a child; that sweater can be made in children's sizes too. There is also a cowl in child and adult sizes as well. 

I also got some little colored stitch markers from Cocoknits.com. They are so pretty, I want to string them on a chain and wear them as a necklace! 

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I succumbed to pattern lust and bought the yarn to make these socks:

They are 173-45 Sleepy Sheep from Drops.

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They are so springy and pretty! I don't really need 450g of yarn to knit socks. I'll have yarn leftover, so maybe I will design something with Mary Jane Mucklestone's books that I have been looking over.

The best thing though is the fluff that I got from On the Round! It is soooooooo gorgeous! It makes me want to spin and spin and spin! 

Fluff

This fluff is hand dyed Corriedale top in a OOAK (One Of A Kind)  color. That means it is unique!  Rachel Jones does an incredible job of dyeing. Her colors are imaginative, playful, and creative while being harmonious too. It takes real talent to do that. I will wait as long as possible to start spinning this, but I think the beauteousness of the fluff will overwhelm me. It is sitting right beside my computer and I keep looking at it and sighing happily. I need to get a couple things done, but soon ... soon!

The third and final fun thing is ahead: SPA!!! Lynne and I are going to Freeport for the weekend (February 24,25, & 26) and we will have so much fun. We are staying at the Hampton Inn. SPA is a weekend of fibery goodness that is at three hotels in Freeport, but it really kind of takes over the town. It is like a convention of 1000 (maybe more) knitters and crocheters and spinners and weavers and felters and other fibery folk who show up for the weekend. Some people go for three or four days. Lynne and I will pretty much stay in the Hampton Inn; the vendor area doesn't really interest me much (see above) but there are many vendors and people who want their wares. Also Mother of Purl is in the area and there are a few things that they offer too this weekend, including an On the Round trunk show -- Rachel will be there in person to amaze and delight you! 

Pogo's Sweater

I haven't the heart to tell Pogo that the sweater isn't for her.


Wet and Crazy!

I decided after much dithering to wet block the pieces of Sylvi. My sister used to dither about lots of things, especially things she was afraid of doing. After a week of not sewing the pieces of Sylvi together, I realized that I, too, was doing what I used to give Rachel hell for doing. "Just do it already! What are you so afraid of? What is the worst that could happen?" I would tell her. So, I took my own advice and wet blocked the pieces. I had thought long and hard about blocking the coat all sewn together, and what a nightmare it would be. Blocking the pieces proved to be much easier and, in fact, enjoyable. 

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It is amazing how much wool changes when it is wet. These pieces were placed in the washing machine, which was then filled with water, set a while, and then spun dry. Easy peasy. When I started to pin them to the blocking board (really a slab of blue insulaton board, don't tell), it was magical how they were so easy to pull into shape! The en-even edges became even, the cable down the back that dipped down making a U-shape was easy to straighten out. I loved it! So that's where Sylvi is now: drying. It will be easy to sew together now, I can easily imagine it. The hood will be fun to knit (actually knitting this coat was pretty enjoyable), and the petals will be no problem to knit either, now that the fabric seems so flexible and pleasant to work with. The only thing that I am not sure of is sewing the petals down, but I feel that that is because I haven't done something like that since my stroke, but now I really feel like I can do it. 

My right hand (the paralyzed one) is waking up and getting more useful. I can actually hold a big tapestry needle with it, and kitchener the toes of my socks together using my right hand now! That is a big improvement. My fingers all open and close at my command -- slowly sometimes, but I will take it. I'm working on strengthening the muscles in my forearm to make it easier to lift my right arm, too. And I walk around the house quite a bit now without my cane. I walk like Frankenstein, but without my cane. I still have to wear the damn brace though. 

And now for the crazy part of my blog post!

Some readers may remember when Wendy Gaal had her first Mystery Sock Knit-along way back in 2009. I participated in it, making these beaded socks:

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Well, now she is up to Mystery Sock #9: Crazy Quilt Sock Knit-along! It started on Friday, January 27, but it is not to late to participate. You don't need to buy yarn or the pattern for the knit-along; the pattern is free, but only people who use Wendy's yarn will be eligible to win prizes in the end. The last clue will be posted March 10, and the winners will be among those who have knit one sock in one of Wendy's Knitter's Brewing Company Sock yarns

Wendy always challenges knitters with these Mystery Sock Knit-alongs. She also makes tutorials and videos that are really well done to help you learn the techniques involved, and there are tons of people to help out if you have any problems at all. Several people who have never knit a sock before at all are successfully knitting this. Wendy gives you a bit at a time and spoon-feeds you the very detailed directions with lots of hand holding if you need it, and she is the most patient person with these Mystery Sock KALS that I have seen.

I got the kit with Old No. 8 sock yarn in color BAC OTL from Wendy at Knitter's Brewing Company, and wound it up:

It came with a pretty little commemorative stitch marker:

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I don't use the stitch markers that come with the sock yarn in these kits because I am using double pointed needles, but I love them and use them in other things!

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I have done the first Clue, and let me tell you, it is really crazy!! It is a toe up sock, knit up at an angle, with a pretty cool little texture going on! 

I love it! I can't wait to see what the next Clue will be!

 Here is a picture of an ancient Egyptian picture of a cat herding geese, since Pogo wasn't in a posing mood:

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New Year, New Socks!

My New Year Socks are done! They are so sparkly and colorful! I feel like I am disco dancing when I wear them!

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(Beth laughs and laughs and then composes herself)

I have a Sylvi update, too. I have the right front done to the underarm :

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I'll finish the right front tonight, sew it together over the next two nights,  knit the hood for a couple of nights, and then there will be The Petals. Actually knitting them won't be difficult if I can get them started. I think I can do it. Anyway, the whole thing should be done in about two weeks, maybe less. It will be pretty.

I have some stealth knitting, to borrow a phrase from Wendy Johnson. It is my daytime knitting at the moment. I hope to show you at some point in the future! It is why I am only working on Sylvi at night :)

Pogo

 

 

 

 


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! 

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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:

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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!

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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!
 


Sometimes a Trip Down Memory Lane Can Be Pretty Horrifying

From McCall's Needlwork & Crafts Fall-Winter 1961-62:

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From McCall's Needlwork & Crafts Fall-Winter 1964-65:

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From McCall's Needlwork & Crafts Fall-Winter 1971-72:
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And now, a word from a sponsor:

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As an excuse, I can only say, it's cold. The frost has invaded my brain!

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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!

 


Whoopsie, Thanksgiving and All of November Went By Fast!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hehe :)

Sorry I haven't posted in a month; I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  I succeeded in finishing a 50,000 word novel ... well, it's really only a novella so far, but maybe it will be a novel someday. I got this: 

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In early November, I gave the cutest little 1-year old in the world this:

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It is Stella, by Linden Down, knit out of Knit Picks Comfy Fingering Weight yarn, a 75% cotton, 25% acrylic fiber. The color is called Hollyberry. It called out for some sparkle, so I added beads to the lace yoke and chose sparkly rhinestone buttons. It is very festive!

But, it almost didn't get made.   I started knitting it at the end of July, got down to the sleeves (it is knit from the top down), took the sleeve stitches off, and stopped. I decided at that point to look through the comments that other people who had knit it said. I expected them to say, "This is such a cute sweater!!!!!!" but no. Argggghhhhhh! Everyone said, "The neck is too big!"

I didn't really look at the neck, but once I did, I had to say, they were right. It was too big! Why didn't I read the comments before knitting so far? I really didn't want to unravel the whole thing and start over, even though I had time. Plus, I was mad for not reading the comments.  So I did the logical thing: I put it in a bag and threw it into The Chest of No Return, thinking it was a good color for socks maybe, after I got over being mad. I went on to knit other things, like an alpaca vest and a cowl. And while I knit, I thought about it, thought of different ways to fix it. 

I determined to set about remedying the sweater. I cut one stitch and unpicked the neck just above the increases for the lace yoke pattern (this included taking off the row for the top buttonhole).

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 I put the stitches back on the needle, and knit the buttonhole row on the first row of knitting -- k 2, yo, k2tog, k1, then k2tog across the row til the last 5 sts, k5. Then I did 4 garter ridges, and bound off. 

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If I had it to do over again, I think I would have done k1, k2tog across instead of k2 tog across. K2tog across made it a little bit too small and made the lace pucker too much, but it looks ok. It would look better with a few more stitches.

But, the sweet little girl and her mommy love it, and I love that it turned out okay!

Jacqui's cardigan

The Daily Mindfulness Blanket is waiting until I pick it up again. I haven't worked on it for the last month. I will pick it up again tomorrow, I promise.

                                    Sure You Will


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. 


The Magic of Coffee Flour

People who know me know that I love coffee. I adore it, I live for it, it makes me happy. So, I was pretty chuffed when I  heard about coffee flour.

Coffee flour is produced from milling the fruit, rather than the seed of a coffee plant. Usually, the fruit is a waste product, discarded as a useless byproduct that clogs up the environment. Imagine if apple  seeds were the only part used, and the apple part itself was discarded and left to rot. Pretty messy, right?

Well, Dan Belliveau, a former technical services director at Starbucks, along with other tech guys and engineers, figured that coffee berries were good for something else besides piles of garbage or rotting in the rivers. They milled the coffee berries into flour. They didn't expect to make it available on the retail market, but somehow it ended up on Nuts.com and voilá: my coffee world is complete.

Coffee flour doesn't taste like coffee. It has a deep, rich flavor that is sort of ... brown. Burgundy brown. I've heard that it is good in smoothies, soups, and sauces, and I will try that out, especially the smoothie part. A tablespoon has 34 little calories, 5 grams of dietary fiber (both insoluble and soluble so your tummy will love you), is rich in potassium and iron, and has more antioxidants per gram than pomegranates. It is high in protein and potassium. Throw in the fact that it is low-sodium, fat-free, gluten-free, is paleo and vegan friendly, and makes the environment better: coffee flour attains food nirvana -- and not just because it comes from coffee! 

I ordered it from Nuts.com, getting a 12 ounce bag for $6.99, just to try it out. I read that coffee flour isn't exactly like regular all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour, it is more like soy or almond flour. You should mix it with other flours, about 10% to 30% coffee to 90% -70% other. You have to find the right blend for you. In texture, it is kind of like cocoa powder both in color and feel, though cocoa powder is finer. 

The first thing I tried it out on was this recipe from allrecipes.com called "Apple Cinnamon White Cake". Pay no attention to the name. I used it as a base to make a loaf of apple bread. I chose it because it was low calorie, had the mix of apples, brown sugar, butter and flour I wanted. The mix of flour that I had on hand was milled einkorn flour, soy flour, and coffee flour. I baked it in a loaf pan, and it came out pretty good, as an apple bread sort of thing for breakfast. But it really didn't have enough taste. So I tried again.

This time I used a molasses cookie recipe from allrecipes.com that looked like a good recipe. I mean, how can you screw up molasses cookies, right? The first batch, I rolled into balls and sugar like they said in the recipe, but they didn't flatten out at all. Doesn't matter! They tasted great! They are like little molasses doughnut holes. The rest of the cookies I flattened out after I rolled them in sugar, so they looked better. And they still tasted great!

If you have coffee flour and soy flour and almond flour, you can make my version of Molasses Cookies too. 

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Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or any combination of butter and coconut oil)

1/2 cup Splenda (I'm diabetic, use 1 cup of sugar if you are not)

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

1 cup soy flour

1/4 cup almond flour*

3/4 cup coffee flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

about 1/2 cup sugar to roll the cookies in

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil, sugar and Splenda, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Press them flat. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks

* I only had 1/4 cup of almond flour. If I had had more, I would have used a cup of almond flour, and half a cup each of coffee flour and soy flour. Oh darn, I have to make more cookies!


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!