Shades of Gray

It’s always a bit gray in the Puget Sound in the winter. Oddly this weekend and past it has been sunny, but my knitting starts haven’t. They’ve been gray, gray, gray.

I’ve been slow to post because I’m traveling a lot. And because I’ve returned to the road, I need small projects to take on my trips. My last pair of socks, two-at-a-time, toe-ups, were a perfect airplane project for two consecutive trips to DC and India.

This week I cast on the yarn Felici Stormy Sky from Knit Picks that I recently purchased at Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco. Right now they are barely more than the Turkish cast on I learned at the event. But with all my international trips on the horizon, they will be socks soon enough!

I also cast on a hat for myself I call Greywurm. I’m using the Wurm pattern and two Sublime Yarn baby cashmere and silk grays—Skipper and Tittlemouse. Since it is a quick knit, it’s not a great travel project. But I’m dying to use these beautiful yarns I won in a Woolful drawing also want a “get ‘er done” project I can feel good about in the way I never do with socks or larger projects like the next one I started just last night.

The last project is another Squares Throw in Cascade’s Tivoli; color: Fog. My mother has been trying to get me to knit her an afghan in bright aqua, but I was drawn to this project because of how beautiful the brown one that sits at the end of my bed looks—and that this one was already in the queue (not that I stick to the queue order—ever).

This said, it will go great in the spare bedroom and it will make an excellent “lap” project for the car and ferry commutes to and from Orcas Island.

Though I always think I should knit summer things in winter, it just never turns out that way. All I can think about is getting and staying warm.

How about you? What’s your go-to winter project?

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It’s the Big Stuff

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”, my mom’s favorite saying. And it is projects for her and lots of big projects dominating my knitting.

Domestic projects are still ruling the day. Mainly because they are simple and square. That’s about all I can handle right now.

And as I come to the end of another simple squares throw, I’m eyeing my next BIG project.

My mom has put in an order for a long bathmat and a chenille afghan. I let her pick out both colors from online and when they arrived, the gold of the cotton bathmat seems too subtle and the turquoise chenille of the afghan seems—LOUD. Just look at this Ice Yarns mountain!

I think I’ll do the bathmat first, because it will be quick and easy.

With the afghan, I’m hoping to use up a few more of my odds and ends; some dishie my husband didn’t like for kitchen towels and some sparkly stuff that grandma had in dribs and drabs.

And for my next trick?

Well, I’ve fallen in love with Purl Soho’s Shadow Study Throw. I found some Louet Gems on sale and though my first order didn’t quite work out, I think I’ve got a good plan for what comes next.

 

Weekend Knitting Double Header

You can get this cool quantum t-shirt at Zazzle.com

It’s been a CRAZY spring. I’ve been burning the candle at all three ends.

And what happens the minute you slow down—you get sick of course! And while I really dislike the brain fog and lost time of working on my teaching materials, I got a lot of knitting done while I was confined to bed with a nasty cold.

The good news is that I had several easy projects on the needles and lots of time where I could only really do mentally passive activities—simple knitting among them (TV watching being the other—reruns of The Expanse anyone?).

I finished another bathmat–this one for the island house bathroom, I’ve taken to called “Jeff’s bathroom” due to it being across the hall from the bedroom where the inimitable Jeff Dozier spent time with us during his knee convalesce. And a very simple mock turtleneck sweater design by Adrienne Vittadini  from an old Vogue Knitting Magazine. Vintage yarn for a vintage pattern.

I’m hoping my brain function returns soon, but for now, there’s nothing like knocking off a twofer of simple WIPs in my project queue.

Back to Square One

I did an Internet search on the topic “Knitting in the Dark”. Among the things I found were:

I, of course, immediately purchased the flashlight. And with good reason.

It so cold was this past winter, I started a “simple squares throw” for my bed–which seemed practical and easy. I chose this pattern not only for it’s simplicity, but also because I had made it previously and loved the look. Lately, I’m so mentally tired from overworking, when I pick up my needles it needs to be restful. IMG_3824

I thought I would be able to knit, not think. Except–that’s an oversimplification. I failed to think of another problem–that not only was I knitting in the dark with a dark yarn, but that sometimes even simple projects aren’t so simple when you are tired.

You know how they say that driving tired can make your reaction time slower–even more than if you’ve been drinking? The same appears to be true with knitting. You lack good judgement and just assume everything will be okay. After all, you tell yourself, “I’ve been knitting forever! Right?”

In this case, I would pull the project out of the bag and just knit whatever direction seemed right. And sometimes I got it wrong. So I created short row holes in the middle of a blanket that needs neither holes or short rows.

Earlier this week in the bright sunny light, I laid it out to survey my progress. I was so proud of how much progress was made on such a big project (it’s about 8′ across). I was about a 1/3 done (up about four squares). That’s when I noticed first one hole, two and then three. At first I tried dropping down 80 rows to an affected stitch and that’s when I realized how unfixable it was–I didn’t find a dropped stitch, I encountered a loop!  :-/

So tear, tear, tear it out I did, some 90 rows on a 8′ wide piece. /sigh!

It took a couple of days of ignoring it for me to come back around and reconsider it a worthy project. And now I’m, well, back to square one.

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Less is Not Enough

You know the saying, less is more? Well with yarn, more is still not enough.

It’s got to be stress, because another big box of yarn just arrived. I’m like “What???”

IMG_7262And yes, I ordered it. Between developing an online class on machine learning and keeping up with my busy work, and busier husband, I’m definitely on a retail therapy kick. I’ve begun to hate Amazon for showing me exactly what I cannot resist. ‘If you buy one more pair of funky leggings, young lady…’

I’ve expounded, at great length, the copious amounts of yarn I’ve got, but it was hard not to smile when this sunny box of brightly colored cottons arrived. Ever since I won a knitalong drawing for my George Hancock sweater from Woolful, Knit Picks has become my online standard when I’m not buying local. Cheap and high quality, what’s not to love.


These are for bathmats for here there and everywhere—including my parents house in Idaho.

But until I get around to knitting it up, I’d better find a place to store it.

UFO Sister- and Brotherhood

Aliens? No. Not that kind of UFO. There is, sadly, no abduction involved. Though sometimes I feel like my ever increasing stash of wool might carry me off.

Last time I talked about giving myself permission to have more than one project going at the same time. And I’ve done it—gotten over my head in projects. And as I look around at these works in progress (WIPs), I feel a little weighed down. It is as if they are all staring down at me saying, “Do you really think you’ll get back to me?”

If it isn’t obvious, I’m a perfectionist. Everyone that knows me, knows this is true. Whether I’m preparing a lecture or I’m knitting a pair of socks, I can literarily give myself an ulcer worrying if it isn’t just so. And this is, by and large, the only source of unhappiness for me, given my life is busy, full, and downright good!

Body image, learning new skills, investment for retirement, these are all sources of my endless frustration of coming up short of an unrealistic ideal—heaven forbid I read the news! And Nick, my dearest love, even posted a photo of me and my parents (the Joneses) with the tagline “Are you keeping up?” for most people that wouldn’t be an accusation. For me…? Hmm.

Unless it is a competition to have more WIPs than anyone else, I’m just keeping my head above water. And you know? I like it that way. That jolt of tension? It’s a good thing.

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My little surprise of joy today was finding that I’m just a couple of inches of easy knitting away from Nick having another pair of socks. The trip to Santa Fe with my parents, well, I must have gotten in more knitting time than I remember. If all goes well, he’ll be taking two pairs of my “lurid” hand knit hoof covers on his UK trip to “inspect” Margaret and Peter (his parents).

And with a glass of house Chardonnay from the Lower Tavern—I raise my glass in a toast to all of you with UFOs (unfinished objects) of all crafts and kinds.

Satisfying Simple Home Knits

After more than a year of one-project-at-a-time knitting, I now have four(!) WIPs with several others in the ideation phase. And though I’ve always been told that more projects can create time slicing and delayed gratification of finishing, I’m going for it

I  realize, I’m putting at risk, the prickly one that made me rethink my serial knitting rule. But it had me so frustrated, I didn’t want to pick it up, which meant NO KNITTING AT ALL. So it was time to dig into my growing queue of items that were easier to tackle–some quick, some not so quick.

My guest bath has long needed a bathmat. So, I found a simple and free pattern called Tender Foot Spa Bathmat. And I’m finding the 100% vintage Bernat yarn Cajun Cotton is soft cuddly and absorbent—just perfect for the pattern! The spot for it is fairly small, so I’m narrowing the pattern a bit.

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I love my modified simple Squares Throw from the Erika Knight’s Comforts of Home. Erika’s pattern alternates between stockinette and reverse stockinette, but I like having an edge that lets it lay flat.

The last time I made this throw I used a seed stitch border and worsted weight yarn. This time I’m matching the yarn to the pattern (bulky) with a garter edge. The thing that will be the same is to knit it as one piece, so I don’t have to sew it together.

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And though this is not a weekend project or all that portable, it’s easy and I know that the final project will be beautiful. And the Trivoli I got on sale—60% wool and 40% silk—looks rough, but is actually very soft to the touch. And I love the chocolate color with bright flecks of blue in this nubby yarn.

I’m really loving the diversity and ease of these home projects. And when I finally come out the other side with work and teaching, I’ll have more room in my brain for trickier projects. Then I’ll go back to the sweater that was making me have kittens.

Meanwhile, my house is getting “dressed” with simple, home-crafted knits.

Give Yourself Permission

I’m feeling very stressed at the moment. Everything seems due all at once. Knitting is usually a relief from the fray, but I found myself feeling guilty about that too. First, because I’m still doing it when I’ve so little time. Second, because I’m hankering for an easy project.

Lately I’ve been limiting myself to “good girl” projects; knitting for others, using up stash, learning a new technique, etc. I was also limiting myself to finish projects before starting another–because I’m trying to stick to a “no UFOs” rule.

I’d planned a trip to San Diego months ago to visit dear friends and escape from winter for this past weekend. I hadn’t realized that so many things would be so pressing. And rather than try to catch up, skip the trip, and push through, I realized the best thing for me was to go, have fun, and see the sun.

But what to take along for knitting? The current project that has hit a thorny spot? It was stressful just thinking about packing it.

Instead I told myself to take a simpler and more portable one–a  pair of stockinette socks. And since socks are not a favorite project, on my return I cast on another—a simple squares throw—mindless and easy.

I don’t know what order I’ll finish, which I’ll pick up or whether I’ll cast something else on. And that feels… amazing, freeing and joyous!

Go ahead!

Give yourself permission to just do a project you’d love to do. A fun dishcloth or baby booties or whatever you might enjoy. Pick up that special yarn you are craving to knit. Make something for yourself just for the pleasure of it.

And until the pressure lets off… that’s just what I’m going to do.

In From the Cold

It was a rare sunny day—cold and crisp yesterday. I spent it scraping the dense moss off the roof of our shed and discovered the weather vane atop it had fallen. Probably knocked down by the unusually strong winds of late or perhaps the recent (standing dead) tree removal by our neighbors that I’m glad to see gone–else they crush my garage. Either way, it felt like some of the charm of our little home was lost and I was in the doldrums.

The shed is old, smells of gasoline (used to be mower storage, no doubt) and full of spiders. It’s also slated for demolition once we get around to it. So why clean the roof? It got me outside and though I probably should have demossed the grass, I was too lazy to drive to the island hardware store for lime.

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I came in feeling cold with my hands unscrubbably dirty (no knitting for me!). I donned my George Hancock while pondering knitting another. What weighted me down was thinking of all the yarn I’ve purchased for things I want to make, meanwhile I’m still buried under my grandmother’s stash.

Yarn Collage
Just a fraction of the yarn from my stash

I’ve donated the bulk of it to various good causes, but there always seems to be more, and more, and more. And, in spite of having this load of yarn, I keep buying more, and more, and more yarn that I want, though not all my purchases have worked out. For example, a few years ago I bought 5000 (not a typo; 2 X 2500) yards of variegated lace weight yarn. What was I thinking!

Enter Stephen West—a warm, wonderful character if you’ve not had the pleasure. I’ve bumped into him in various knitting venues—not that he’d remember, or that it matters. The upshot is that he’s a force of nature and one cannot help but be buoyed just thinking about him and his knitting designs!

So what perks up a PNW gal on a gray Sunday? A free knitting pattern called Garter Squish for a warm blanket he describes as “eats delicious yarn in no time at all, leaving lots of empty space in your yarn box or cabinet or room to fill with new wooly acquisitions.”

I queued two of them—one for an easy-care acrylic throw and another for wool—all of the yarn from grandma’s stash.

I have drooled over this pattern for ages–since he first he published it. And now I see its immeasurable value—busting the winter blues, making yarn quickly and easily disappear, and creating warm wooly throws for our little house. Stay tuned for upcoming photos.

Who knows, I might just be able to use the lace weight yarn with his Marled Mania Leggings pattern.

So many problems solved!

Bring on the Spring!

I’ve been off on work travels for 2 1/2 weeks in India and I fell love (all over again) with the clothes, colors and food. Since getting back, I’ve been missing the sun and heat of Bengaluru and Chennai.  With all the dark, cool, and rainy PNW, I’ve never struggled so much to get over my jetlag.

The taste of sunshine and bright colors has made me impatient for Spring. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled with Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of a long winter.

To counteract this unfortunate prediction, I went yarn shopping for spring colors–many of which were on close out (yay!). To chase away the pacific northwest gray days, I arranged them as a spring flower and a Japanese maple.

 

Now if only I could find time to knit!

How are you planning to get through the long winter?