Yarn Along:: Dragons and Crocs and Knitting, oh My!

From Small Things: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

Welcome back to blogland!  I took a little break to enjoy the holidays with my family, and look forward to sharing some highlights with you soon.  I have been knitting and reading quite a bit, so I thought I would rejoin the Wednesday Yarn Along crew and tell you about it.

The past couple of times PB visited me at the shop, she would pull the new Yarn Harlot book off the shelf and take it over to a small stool to read.  Whether it be the book’s small size or deft humor, something appealed.  And so I decided that I had better see what all the toddler fuss was about and finally bought my own copy of All Wound Up.  With her signature wit and wisdom, Pearl-Mcphee delivers some great essays and stories that we as knitters and parents can definitely relate to.  At first, I had a hard time shaking the feeling that I had read some version of many of the stories on her blog; but she settles in and I decided to accept that there may be some overlap.

Swamplania! is a recent acquisition I made after hearing it reviewed on NPR.  It’s an insightful and quirky coming of age story about a young girl and her family’s business of running a gator-centric attraction in Florida.  They hit an unlucky patch and their livelihood and identity is threatened with extinction.  I am really enjoying the descriptive and insightful writing, and look forward to seeing where the young female narrator will go next.

And for the knitting…this is a project I cast on for ages ago when I needed something simple to work on during a long car ride.  I made it through the ribbing, then it got set aside in favor of other projects.  I picked it back up over the weekend when I again needed something simple to work on while I avoided picking up and knitting the sleeves on my Oatmeal Pullover.  The yarn is a Luminosity Project colorway called Dragon from Pigeonroof Studios, and it is indeed luminous.  So many deep and shimmering shades of green and brown!  Loving the Cream and Sugar Cowl pattern with its wide cables, though it is going a bit slowly with so many stitches on fingering weight yarn.

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

 

Let the Games Begin!

After waffling and wavering, zigging and zagging, I have decided to make the commitment to join in on the Olympic Knitting fun.  Getting any knitting done around here is a daily challenge, so my project goal will be relatively simple: a hat.  After that is finished, I plan on getting back to a pair of socks I started in January.  If things are going really well, and I finish those (I have about 2/3 of the second sock left to knit), I will pull out Juliet, a project which has been languishing since I had to pull the needles out for another project.  It’s a plan which starts out modestly and ends being fairly ambitious.  I figure that however it turns out, I will have fun along the way.

The pledge/guidelines, as per the Yarn Harlot

The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, do hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I’m supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success….
but on my trying.

Let the games begin!

Will you be knitting along to the Winter Olympics this year?  Are you a Knitting Olympian? A Ravelympian?  An armchair Olympian?  What are your plans?

An Unoriginal Circus

Here’s one of the projects I used to procrastinate distract me from my Ravelympics socks. This was an extremely fast knit (2 or 3 hours), and the vibrant yarn was a blast to work with. I look at it and think sophisticated clown. Or eccentric Connecticut knitter. Whichever.

  • Pattern: An Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • Yarn: Crystal Palace Iceland in Circus
  • Needles: US size 10.5 double points
  • Mods: I used much bigger needles and did an extra row of k2tog to get the closure down to 8 stitches before cinching it closed.

Not much else to say, really. I think I am burned out from the push to finish my socks this weekend. My initial plan was to take Sunday off from knitting completely to give my mind and hands a rest. By evening, however, I was feeling that itch to pick up the needles and knit! You can’t slow me down, apparently.

And after I finished this hat, I went right up to my craft room and started a new project. It’s a never ending cycle, this knitting of mine, and I love it!

Ravelympic Rebellion

As the Olympics are winding down, so too is my enthusiasm for my Ravelympic knitting project. What started out as a fun, exciting way to participate in an international knit-along has turned into something that feels a lot like homework.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of a knit-along, or even the project I chose. In fact, I had fun sharing my ideas and progress with others at first. I just don’t think I am up to the task of knitting under a deadline, even a self imposed one.

The first week (and sock) was great fun. But as I finished sock one and forced myself to cast on for sock two, I found myself lusting after other projects. I wanted to stay monogamous, but as you can see from my last post, I faltered and fell into bed with some instant gratification knitting. I kept telling myself that when I finished the first sock I could knit a neckwarmer. A little incentive never hurt, right? So I did the neckwarmer, and when I finished I was happy to work on the sock for a little bit.

Then yesterday I didn’t really want to knit on the sock at all. I took it to knit with a friend over coffee and couldn’t focus on it, in part because I was having such a good time chatting, but mainly because I don’t think I care about finishing on time anymore.

So I started a new project. It’s fun, fast, and most importantly it’s not a sock.

The pattern is the Unoriginal Hat by the Yarn Harlot in Crystal Palace Iceland wool.

Something tells me that as soon as the Olympics are over and I’ve finished the hat that I’ll have no problem going back to the sock. This is my rebellious streak coming out, I suppose. That’s something my friend and I were discussing yesterday: what does your relationship with your knitting say about who you are as a person? What does it mean if you are a knitter who enjoys starting multiple projects, or works on one project at a time faithfully? What about those of us who plan out our projects for a long time before casting on versus those of us who spontaneously jump into projects? Are you a monogamous knitter or do you have a harem of projects?

What, if anything, do you think knitting says about your personality? Please share your thoughts on this one; I am dying to know what other knitters and crocheters think!

For now I’ll stick to knitting what makes me happy while pondering the deeper meaning of my knitting habits…

A Beautiful Day for Knitting

Yesterday was a wonderful day for knitters, and this knitter in particular (since I am the star of this blog).

It started out with me putting way too much thought into what I was going to wear to the event. One naturally wants to show off some handknit goodness when going to an event where hundreds of other knitters will be present. We each have to show our proudest achievement, a characteristically knit item. Since I haven’t knit anything I can actually cover up my main body parts with, I opted for my most interesting store-bought knitwear on top. And of course, I wore my most recently finished socks, too (see previous post).

That’s me, unable to contain my goofy excietment just before entering Webs to shop and meet Stephanie.

Sweetie and I got there about 1/2 an hour before the book signing was scheduled to begin. There were already dozens of knitters trolling the aisles for beautiful yarn. Sweetie was kind enough to hold my place in the signature line while I did a little shopping. I know, those were two things I was going to try to refrain from doing, but something came over me. There was such excitement in the air, so many pretty things to look at, that in the end, resistance was futile.

I went with a list of potential yarns for 2 projects I had in mind. I’m happy to say, I found yarn for both pieces, and they were on sale! And, because I am me and it was 25% off, I also bought some sock yarn for later. You know, in case I run out sometime in the next year…

So many of the knitters there were out in their finest creations. I saw several sweaters I recognized from Interweave Knits, as well as many other beautiful hand made pieces. It was very inspiring!

After I purchased the goodies, I took my place in line and got a little knitting done.

It was at this point that an inexplicable giddiness overcame me, and I was all smiles and sweaty palms. I have never sought out someone’s autograph before, not even when that’s what we’re all there for like at Debbie Stoller’s book signing. I am usually pretty calm and cool around famous people, wanting to impress them by how unimpressed I am, I guess. But I simply had to meet Stephanie. I had to thank her for writing Knitting Rules, and her blog, and for providing laughter and validation to knitters around the world.

When it was my turn, I stammered out an in-eloquent “Thank you for writing this book. It has liberated my sock knitting!” It was here that I thrust a needle into the air like a guerrilla knitter proclaiming victory. She didn’t laugh. So I said “Yeah, so I don’t even need a sock pattern anymore, it’s great.” And she said “No, people don’t need a pattern,” and handed me my book back.

We shared an awkward pause, after which I said Thank You and faded away. I’m not saying she wasn’t friendly–she totally was, and she gave everyone their moment to interact. It was a pleasure to meet her.

And that was only round one!

The Sweetie and I had plenty of time to grab some lunch, stroll around downtown, and get great seats. I should also take a moment to mention out kick ass parking spot, a mere 100 feet from the front door of the theater. We went there straight after the book signing to scope out the location, and lo! There was this beautiful parking space just waiting for us.

Inside, we found a seat right in the center of the front row in the balcony. Which was just fine with me, because it was a madhouse down on the floor.

The next few pictures were taken in a very dark auditorium; please excuse their wonkiness!

Word is that over 1,000 people pre-registered for the event. The collective power of all the knitting going on in that room could probably have powered the city for the 2 hours we were inside!

Sweetie and I passed the time with our respective hobbies:

NY Times Crossword + Diagonal Cross rib socks = dynamic duo!

I’m so thankful that I got to go on a knitting field trip with such a supportive partner. She stood in line for me, took photos, didn’t judge me when I bought more yarn, and even found herself laughing a few times during the talk.

After the Webs owners raffled off some awesome prizes, it was finally time. The Yarn Harlot herself was in the house, and the first thing she did was take our pictures with her sock.

And then she spoke for about an hour, reading from an essay she had written about how smart knitters really are. We are changing the way our brains work (for the better), strengthening our minds, buiding relationships with other knitters, feeling relief from stress, anxiety, attention issues, and even depression, all while practicing this activity which others view as simple or boring. I think we all know that knitting is neither simple nor boring! It affects who we are, and that is a wonderful thing. I know that for me, knitting has saved my life this past couple of years as I have struggled with health issues, depression, and adjusting to living in a new state. I don’t know how I would cope with life in general if I didn’t have my knitting to focus on and comfort me!

One of my favorite quotes was a story she told about a friend of hers who was knitting while waiting in a doctor’s office. A stranger actually said to her “I’m glad I’ve never been bored enough to knit.” Whoa. Her friend, who is more clever and brave that I think I would have been in the moment replied: “I’m grateful I knit. And I’m glad I’ve never been bored enough to insult a stranger in a waiting room.” Save that one in case you need a witty reply some day!

It was a wonderful day, and I’m so glad I took the time to go. I feel more connected to the knitting community and to this passion I have. We are not alone! We are not silly for being so devoted to our craft. It is a valid way to spend time, and we should all be proud to say that we are knitters.

Another One Down

  • Pattern: Embossed Leaves socks from Favorite Socks
  • Yarn: Oceanwind Knits merino in Shiraz (it’s washable!)
  • Needles: US size 2/2.75mm
  • Modifications: I knit a regular 1×1 rib on the cuff using the long tail cast on, then a plain stockinette toe with Kitchener seam.

This pattern was a joy to knit. The leaf motif involves traveling decreases and yarnovers, so it’s interesting to work on without being too challenging. When I finished the 2nd sock I immediately had to put it on the blockers for a photo shoot!

I LOVE the Oceanwind merino sock yarn. This looks like a solid color at first, but as I knit with it I could really see the subtle variegation in color, from pale peach to a raspberry shade. Simple and beautiful.

For those of you keeping tabs on my progress, that’s 6 projects down for the month, 2 to go. I’ve already cast on for the 2nd Diagonal Cross-rib sock and have knit up a couple of inches.

My goal now is to finish this sock by the end of the month (that’s Wednesday–eep!). If I finish that up, all I have going are my swatches for the TKGA master level one, which is a long term project.

What I’m leading up to is this: I’m heading up to Northampton, MA on Sunday to see the Yarn Harlot read (event info). Northampton is the home of the temptingly well-stocked WEBS yarn store, this event’s sponsor. I know I said I wasn’t going to buy yarn for the month of April, but come on! This knitter doesn’t make it up there very often, and they have the best selection of sock yarn I have ever seen. Plus, I’d like to get some yarn to make the Lelah top for my next project…

The Harlot will be in the store signing books before and after her reading, so it might be a competetive shopping experience. Since I’m not that into getting autographs, maybe I’ll be able to skirt around that line and do my shopping… We’ll see how it all shakes out.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sister Scarf

Cascade Tuscany Grande super bulky in Celedon and Sunrise.

This is some interesting yarn that I picked up with no idea what I would ever knit with it. While my sister was visiting in March, I blodly told her she could look through my stash, pick a yarn, and I would knit her something with it. She chose this. I fiddled around with a couple different things before deciding a simple garter stitch scarf on size 10 needles would be the best way to highlight the varigations of color and texture.

The scarf started out with purple as the main color. Every 10 rows I threw in a couple of green stripes for added interest. Then, when the scarf got to looking about halfway finished, I transitioned through some more stripes to make green the main color.

This has been a great improvisational project to work on in between more complicated patterns. The colors are fresh and cheerful, the knitting easy to work while watching bad television. But it had been languishing in my knitting basket playing second fiddle to the lace and sock projects. Well no more! It is finished, dear sister, all except for weaving in the loose yarn ends, and will be on it’s way to you soon!

Knitting Probation stats:

  • 5 projects down, 3 to go
  • 12 days until I can buy yarn or cast on a new project!

In other news, I ordered the new Yarn Harlot’s book, Things I Learned From Knitting…whether I wanted to or not from Amazon this week. I think it was listed for $8.75 or so, plus $3.99 for basic shipping. I was anxious to get my hands on the book, but didn’t want to pay extra for expedited shipping. So, I clicked, paid, and resigned myself to the 7-10 day wait.

Then, 2 days later, a little surprise was waiting in my mail box! I love it when patience it rewarded quickly.

A Call to Knit in Public

Inspired by the Yarn Harlot’s recent post “Inexplicable Knitter Behaviour“, I wanted to get silly with knitting out in the open yesterday. I carried my knitting and camera around with me all day and tried to capture some moments.

The Harlot says,

“Just like a bunch of knitters partying in a yarn shop, or travelling to a knitting event, taking over a coffee shop or filling a bookstore, it was inexplicable knitter behaviour. Next to the stereotypes, it’s probably the biggest thing that knitters face. They can’t define us, so they can’t understand us, so they ignore us, or stare.”

Anyone who has taken their knitting outside the safe confines of home has probably experienced some attention from non-knitters. At my knitting group, which meets at Starbucks, we often have people openly staring at us while they wait for their lattes. Sometimes they approach and admit that they too are knitters and wish they could sit and knit with us. Others just go ahead and stare, never saying a word.

Sometimes I’m brave enough to knit out in public alone. This was a big step for me: how would I handle those penetrating stares? What might people think or say to me? Mostly I keep my eyes on my knitting to discourage unwanted remarks, but every once in awhile I get a knowing smile from someone, a sort of code between us saying “I’m one too.”

Yesterday’s mission: to knit in public and take pictures while doing it. I started out trying to take pictures of myself knitting in my new craft room (oh yeah, we bought a house 2 weeks ago!). This is an interesting challenge when you are alone except for Mario, the plumber who is working on the bathtub downstairs. I got out a stepstool, fiddled with the automatic timer, and tried to get some shots in before Mario came to work on the upstairs bathroom. Here is what I managed to get:

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Look at that scarf grow!

 

 

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New Project Alert: I started a Kittyville hat (from the 1st SnB book) for a friend of mine who’s turning 2 in a couple of weeks. More on that later…

After working at the new house for a little bit, I decided to take a break and go to Borders to pick up the Harlot’s new book and knit a bit. Sadly, they didn’t have her book. Don’t they know there are crazed knitters out there who feel compelled to buy these books the day they are released? I was so thrown off by this snag that I returned to the car, completely forgetting that I had wanted to sit and knit in public! Ah, I guess a parking lot is technically public…

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Two knitting sessions, and no truly inexplicable knitting behavior. Shoot. But then I remembered: the Sweetie and I were planning on going to see the movie 21 that night. And this hat is stockinette on circular needles, so it’s perfect for knitting in the dark!

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Don’t take my popcorn!

The movie theater was packed, so I’m sure plenty of people noticed the annoyingly bright flash go off, and in turn saw me knitting. Mission accomplished.

The Spirit of Spring

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

Easter weekend was beautiful here in New England. It was still very cold, but the sun was shining through bright blue skies, promising that the warmth of summer will return. All that sunshine went to my head, and I thought it was time to buy some spring flowers and cast on a new spring colors knitting project.

First, the flowers I purchased. It’s still too cold to leave them outside overnight, so they are brightening up my house in the meantime.

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White hyacinth

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Purple & white pansies

Next are the flowers that have been brave enough to show themselves through the old fall leaves and frosty ground in my garden:

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I think these are called snowbells…

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Purple crocus

I find these spring bulbs so heartening, little promises that life goes on after the harshness of winter. They are little bright spots in my day, and I find joy in discovering the new life popping up in gardens all over town.

Spring has not only brought new flowers and longer days, but the urge to cast on new knitting projects as well. I have fought this urge back a few times in the past couple of weeks. There was a time when I wanted to start a bamboo tank top, or a skirt even. But I convinced myself that those garments were a little too optimistic. After all, the sun is shining but it’s still freezing out there!

And so I decided to cast on a simple drop stitch scarf in a new yarn I love. It’s the Jitterbug superwash sock yarn I got a few weeks ago. I have been eying it daily, admiring its freshness and colors that echo the new flowers in my garden.

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The pattern is Morning Surf Scarf by Jackie Erikson-Schweitzer. I cast on 66 stitches instead of 76, hoping to stretch my one skein of yarn into a good length scarf/wrap for myself. It’s a pretty easy knit so far, which is exactly what I need. My more complicated projects have been languishing in my knitting bags.

Yesterday I decided to challenge myself to NOT look at any knitting-related websites all day. I have fallen into the trap of doing more reading about knitting than actual knitting lately, and while that has been a pleasure, I need to get back into the practice of daily knitting. So, whenever I thought to myself “I should look that up on Ravelry” or “I wonder if Yarn Harlot has a new blog post,” I made myself pick up the scarf. And it worked: I got about 4 inches done yesterday!

My next tactic is to allow myself to only check these sites once a day, instead of twice like I usually do. And finally, I am going to try to alternate working on this drop stitch scarf and my 2 pairs of socks in progress in a way that will allow me to finish them as soon as possible. I have yet to establish this master plan, however…

How do you manage your unfinished objects?

What is your strategy for completing projects?

Across the Finish Line

Two finished objects to show off this week!

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  • Pattern: Basic Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Peacock
  • Needles: Size 2.5 dpns

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This close up of the heel gives a better idea of the amazing color variations in this yarn. I bought this yarn because I loved the colors for myself. But as I continued to knit them, someone else started to fall in love and I had to give them up. These turned out to be a fabulous pair of socks for my sweetie, which works in my favor since I can now knit another pair for myself!

After seeing Becca’s finished Tudora neck-warmer at my knitting group on Monday, I was overcome with the desire, the need, to cast one on for myself. I had about 1/2 a skein of Malabrigo worsted weight leftover from the cabled hat project, and thought it might be enough. And it was! This was a quick knit, done over the course of 2 evenings while watching such stellar TV programs as Beauty and the Geek, America’s Next Top Model and American Idol. Ugh…I can’t believe I just admitted that! Wait–I’ll blame the writer’s strike for forcing me to find alternate programming these past few months. Yeah, that’s it…

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  • Pattern: Tudora by Cheryl Marling
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Weight in color 192
  • Needles: Size 8 circular

I still had a couple of yards leftover after sewing on the button. I can’t seem to get rid of some yarns, no matter how hard I try. This reminds me that last weekend I decided to do a mini reorganization of my stash. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have had a major influx of stash, between my trip to Webs and the SnB cruise. During this purge, I was finally able to actually throw away little balls of yarn that I know I will never use. I did save all my sock yarn remnants, still holding on to the hope that one day I will make one of these sock monkeys.

The way I see it, I finished 2 projects, so I can start 2 new projects, right? I have startitis, and will probably start yet another project this weekend. I have no idea what it may be, but if the weather is dreary it will probably be bright. My sister and her husband are arriving from Idaho today for a week-long visit. It is my secret hope that she will ask me to show her to knit. During her visit last year, she knit several inches of a cotton rectangle with fierce determination. Maybe if I show her my stash, then Ravelry, she will be inspired to pick a pattern and work on a project…I will bring her over to the dark side!