Yarn Along:: Happiness in Progress

Last week I was reading and knitting a lot at my sister’s house.  On the needles was another attempt at Little Sister’s Dress, this time for Baby M in Be Sweet Cotton Candy.  More on that project another day…

On the nightstand was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  This was a fun and inspiring read, one that motivated me to give my life a little look-see to see where I could increase happiness.  Inspired by Rubin’s 12 Personal Commandments and Secrets of Adulthood, I came up with my own.  Some of my personal commandments are:

Be myself, Tell the truth, Don’t keep score, Let it go, Pack a snack, Don’t let it fester, Keep my word, Show love and gratitude, Be present, Ask for help.

One of the little tidbits in her book that has really stuck with me is this: if it takes less than a minute to do something, just go ahead and do it now.  Keeping this in the back of my mind has helped keep some of those messy piles at bay, like laundry, dirty dishes, paperwork to file, etc.  It may seem silly, but clutter and feeling like there’s something to clean or do gets me down; by taking care of these things before they get out of hand, I can increase my happiness in small measures.

For this week’s Yarn Along, I’ve returned to a favorite author and a longtime work-in-progress.

I first read Lisa See a few years ago when my book club selected Snowflower and the Secret Fan.  This was a classic case of reading something I wouldn’t have normally chosen to read, and loving it.  Since then See has come out with two more works of fiction, and they have both been on my reading to-do list for some time.  So when I saw Shanghai Girls at the library, it was a no brainer.  Set in the 1930s and spanning two decades, this is the story of two Chinese sisters caught between the traditions of the past and the opportunities and confusion of modern life.  I’m  just starting out on the adventure with May and Pearl, but already I am hooked.

My knitting is chugging along; I’m on the last repeat of the second chart for Hamamelis, which is the main body of the shawl.  As you can see, it’s doing that typical scrunched up lace trick, where it doesn’t look like anything very impressive yet.  History reminds me that as soon as this beauty is off the needles and given a nice bath and a firm blocking, it will transform into something else entirely.  I’m trying to keep that in mind as I work steadily on it in an attempt to finish this month.  Which reminds me: happy June, everyone!

What’s on your nightstand or in your project bag this week?

Conundrums.

When working within the confines of one’s stash, certain accommodations are often made. Material choices are limited and quantities are fixed. This can make the search for the perfect pattern and yarn combination all the more thrilling and challenging. I thought I had lit upon another good pairing with the Little Sister’s Dress and my Cascade Luna. Indeed, they go very well together. But something went awry…could it have been that wicked beast Gauge?

I decided to knit the 12 month size to accommodate for the reported roominess of the pattern, figuring it would be just right to fit an 18 month PB this summer.  After separating the arms and body, however, I had a feeling that this might end up being too big.  That’s okay, I thought, she’ll grow into it. In hindsight, I realize this was the precise moment I should have listened to my knituition and ripped back.  Would have saved me a lot of time.

Then there was another issue.

Partway through the increases on the skirt I realized I was going to run out of yarn before it was actually a length befitting a dress. A conundrum. I could certainly purchase a 3rd skein of the yarn and finish it off according to the pattern. But I’m trying to knit from the stash and not buy new yarn, so that didn’t feel right (although isn’t there is a loophole where yarn acquired to finish a project does not technically add to the stash?). Instead, I decided to test my luck and modify this to be more of a tunic. I did less increases and started the purl ridges for the bottom hem a few inches sooner than suggested.  Then I knit faster so I wouldn’t run out of yarn, as one does, and bound off with about a yard to spare.  I felt quite triumphant until I popped it onto PB; the armholes are way too big.

I don’t think she was very happy with it, either.

Is this the elusive "smize"?

Now I’m left with deciding what to do with this piece.  Rip back and reknit? Wait and see if she grows into it? Either way, it’s going to a quiet place to think about what it’s done, and hopefully a little time apart will do us both good.

Yarn Along:: Shopping the Stash

I’m joining Ginny at Small Things for another Yarn Along, sharing my knitting and reading pleasures.

This week’s book seems to fit right in with my goal of knitting from stash. The plan was to work my way through the cotton blends I bought last spring and summer, and so far I’m doing just that. On Sunday I cast on for the Little Sister Dress and have been knitting on it here and there. There’s a lot more purling than I realized; glancing at the pattern photo, I assumed it was a garter stitch bodice. The colors in this yarn are fresh and watery, and even though it’s 100% cotton it’s pretty nice to knit with. My left hand does start to ache after a few rows, so I’m trying to knit on it in small bits to avoid getting knitter’s thumb again.

Anyway, back to the book. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping was an impulse get at the library. I was looking for vegetarian cookbooks when this caught my eye. In it, Levine shares her experience as she gives up all “non-essential” purchasing for an entire year.  She even forgoes entertainment like movies and concerts which I certainly see as essential. I’m still in the first half of the book, but so far it’s a pretty interesting read as the author combines her personal narrative with facts about economics, consumer emulation, and the psychology behind why we buy what we buy. Reading this book certainly gets me thinking, and that’s always a good thing.

What are you stitching or reading this week?