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Knitting Confessions #9

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I’ll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting “no-no’s”. Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below.  

Confession #8: I have a track record of abandoning knitting projects.

I think we’ve probably all had the experience of finding a pattern or yarn, casting on a new project full of excitement and possibility, and then slowly (or maybe not so slowly) losing that “cast-on euphoria.” That’s when poor, hopeful knitting projects get cast aside for the next new and exciting project. I have one basket where my discarded WIPs usually end up. I dig through this basket often looking for a interchangable cable of a certain size or some needles sadly tossed aside with some project, but which I now need to start something new. Every once in awhile, I stop my feverish digging and actually look at the projects I’ve abandoned, things sitting unworked for months at a time. More and more lately, I find myself looking at what I started and thinking, “I kind of really hate this now.”
Sometimes, it’s the yarn I fall out of love with.
I started this cardigan with a bubblegum pink yarn striped with charcoal gray. I bought the yarn on sale from Knit Picks intending to use it for a sweater. And I even got the entire body finished, but then it languished in the basket of doom for a long time waiting for sleeves. Sleeves that never came. I finally came to terms that I probably would never wear a bubblegum pink stripped cardigan. Ever. 

So I frogged the whole thing and ended up overdyeing the yarn to create the pumpkin orange yarn that became my Peabody sweater, which I love and wear lots.

Other times, the pattern I chose just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

I loved Darcy as soon as I saw it, so I bought the book, I bought a lovely romantic wine colored merino wool, and I got started. But the continuous moss stitch was just not so fun to work, and after finishing the back and half of one front, it got stuck in the basket of doom. I pulled it out last night thinking it would be the perfect project to work on as a break from all my Christmas knitting. But I just wasn’t feeling the love anymore. It just felt chunky with the moss stitch and I didn’t like how the peplum was draping in the yarn I selected. So guess what? It’s getting frogged.

But I’m left with this deep red, wine colored yarn that I have no idea what to do with now. It’s not really a color I would typically choose, but it worked with the romantic, old-fashioned notion of Darcy. I was thinking of embracing the “old-fashioned,” traditional vibe of the yarn and go with afull on classic cable sweater. Or maybe embrace the romantic route with lace with modern twist. I just want to chose something that I will be inspired by and won’t end up back in that dreaded basket again waiting for me to dig it out and save it. Someday.

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Knitting Confessions #8

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I’ll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting “no-no’s”. Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below.  

Confession #8: I am a weakling for beautiful yarn.

This past weekend I had to go buy a single skein of yarn for one of my planned Christmas gifts. Something nice, but simple and relatively inexpensive. Because it’s part of a gift, I had convinced myself it wouldn’t be breaking my self-imposed yarn diet. And I had a plan: get in, get a single skein of yarn, don’t look around, don’t browse, keep your head down, and get out. 
But I was bad. I couldn’t help myself from looking just a little bit. My naughty eyes spied a beauty, my traitorous heart immediately fell in love, and my fickle brain immediately began rationalize buying it.

It’ll be my birthday soon, so I could say this is just an early gift to myself. Or a nice present from Andy, who loves me and would want me to have beautiful yarn. Everyone knows gifts don’t count toward yarn diets. It was just so pretty. I couldn’t help it. Sometimes you just deserve a lovely skein of yarn.

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Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian loves and to all of us foreigners who call Canada home (at least for now). 
Because it’s just the two of us crazy November-celebrating Americans this Thanksgiving, Andy and I are going to be having Thanksgiving dinner at the pub after a day full of knitting. It sounds like a great way to celebrate to me. I hope everyone else is having a lovely long, cool, knitting-full fall weekend. 

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P.S. Knitting confessions will be back next week! 

Knitting confessions #5

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I’ll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting “no-no’s”. Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below. 

Confession #4: This yarn.

I don’t know, but I just hate it. As the colors unfurl, all I can think of is some sort of yucky minty chocolate ice cream sundae that has been thrown into the gutter and stomped on a couple times. It just looks flat, dirty, and the brown is the most one dimensional, dirty (read as polite way of saying poopy) brown I have ever come across.

Why do I own this yarn if I seem to hate it so much? I blame yarn sale fever. I got this yarn when one of my LYS was going out of business and selling off everything. I saw it and thought, “I always want to work with Noro, but never do because of the price. Let’s give it a try.” And this was the only colorway left. For a reason. But I was lost in yarn euphoria (you know what I’m talking about… we’ve all been there and it makes us do crazy things).

When I got home I thought, well, it’s perfect for a hitchhiker, right? But as it grew, I hated it more and more. So now it lives stuffed deep, deep down in a basket, away from all light. Until today when I took it out for five minutes to shoot some photos full of regret and then immediately shoved it away out of site. Poor yarn.

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Pockets and shrinkage

Pockets – they seem such an uncommon feature of cardigan patterns. The notion of the pockets on my Clarity cardigan made my little heart happy. A teensy flash of blue when you lift up the pocket flap. Another lovely, playful addition to a cardigan that already had several fun and quirky details. But wholly moly, I could not get the pockets off of my needles fast enough. They just were really not that fun to actually knit. In the round. Attached to 500 lbs of sweater. On a day where the temperature was in the high 80’s. And I don’t have any air conditioning in my apartment.

It constantly felt like I was just wrestling with the sweater getting it situated for each round of the pocket without tangling it in the working yarn. But as they grew, I got more and more excited about the prospects of having them. And I knew they will get good use in this cardigan, so I pushed through and finished them – the last finishing touches to the cardigan – around 10:40pm last night. After a quick soak in the sink, I had dreams of a cardigan blocking overnight and awakening to a lovely finished sweater with bright blue pockets.

And then blocking disaster. It happened. I should not have teased the universe last week with my knitting confession because the universe has a cruel, but admittedly funny, sense of humor. After a soak, the whole thing had grown over 5 inches in length. (On Ravelry, people had politely declared the yarn tended to be a bit “drapey” after blocking. A bit of an understatement if you ask me.)

After laying it out on a towel, I thought it looked a bit amiss, but it wasn’t until I decided to go ahead and try it on – while still wet – that the hysterical laughter bubbled up and spilled out. The sweater fell practically down to my knees. Pockets at your mid-thigh and sleeves beyond your fingers are a bit less than useful. At about 11:30, I declared to Andy that I will likely be very angry in the morning.

And his reply, “Well, just stick it the drier.” Five words any knitter shudders to hear in the context of a woolen sweater. But it was just late enough. And I was just desperate enough to take the risk. It was either give it a try or undo the whole thing and knit it all again (which would not have occurred for a long, long amount of time until after my frustration abated, if at all).

So I stuck it in a pillow case and put it in the drier on low heat, checking on it every 10 minutes. By 12:20am I pulled it out and declared it much too late for this nonsense and if it wasn’t fixed by now, then it never would be, and good riddance.

But looking at it this morning, I think it may have worked. Mostly. I lost some of the beautiful stitch definition with the minor felting, but I would rather have a properly fitting sweater than all the stitch definition in the world. (Now, I just have to wait for it do dry, which is taking forever with the 150% humidity in my apartment currently.)

So, take that universe! You gave it a good shot. Looking forward to what you have up your sleeves next.

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Blogitty hopitty hop.

The always lovely Jenna over at Hard Knit Life nominated me for a little blog hop – so let’s hop to it!

  • What am I working on?

Um. I don’t know. I’m still a bit undecided about what I’m going to tackle as my next big project. And when in doubt – pick up some socks and stockinette to your heart’s desire. I’m hoping it gets some of those creative juices flowing and brings me some inspiration (… as in, I will get tired of all of the stockinette and finally decide on a more exciting and ambitious project to take on.)

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure I can think of specific ways I try to differ from other knitters or bloggers, but I can ramble on about what I find appealing or inspiring in my work. First, color! I love working with color and trying to find great color combinations. I have been trying recently to push myself to try new colors that I wouldn’t commonly find myself working with: greens, oranges, blues. Discovering new color passions can be very rewarding and inspiring. I also find that I am drawn to classic shapes or concepts, but done in slightly unexpected ways. I feel that many “uninitiated” people still think of knitting as old-fashioned or just a way to make a hat and a scarf. They don’t realize that the cool cropped cardigan they bought last weekend is an example of a knit – it can be coo,and hand knitting gives you so much more control over the style, color, pattern, fit, etc. So I try to play with those ideas and make things I think of as unexpected knits, but still stylish and beautiful. 

  • Why do I write/create what I do?
I first go into crochet and knitting because I needed a way to release stress in university. Now, I’ve been doing it so long, I feel incompete, like something is missing, if I don’t have a project going. I find the creative process to be a nice release and escape. I can’t worry about work deadlines or other stresses if I have kept my brain busy trying to master new techniques and push myself creatively. The activity itself is one driving factor, but let’s be honest – it feels great to accomplish something and have others appreciate the time, effort, and skill that has gone into a project. Some times if I’m wearing something I’m especially proud of, it takes a lot of effort to not just say, “Why, yes, I did make this amazing feat of human creativity.” to anyone who even just glances at me. I’ve discovered Facebook is a great place for a little ego stroking if you need a place for a little bragging. 

  • How does my writing/creating process work?
It all starts with that little spark of inspiration. Sometimes it’s the yarn, lots of times it’s the pattern. Whatever takes hold of me in that moment, I’m run with it. Even if I might be in the middle of something else. (Sorry WIP basket. I’ll get back to you… soon.) I firmly believe that the greatness of creativity is passion. Do what you are passionate about, in that moment. If I’m not working on something I love (or will love when it’s finished), it’s not worth my time and effort. So I jump in head first. Sometimes it works out (like teaching myself to knit one Sunday afternoon), a few times it doesn’t (frogged yarn is just extra loved because you didn’t want it to waste away in an obsolete project). But as long as I’m having a good time and pushing myself, I’m happy. That’s how the process works – stay happy. 

Now, who to pass the blog hop onto. I think it would be great to hear from Kylie @ LPOAS, Karen @ Pumpkin Sunrise, and Martina @ SnapShots and WhatNots

New old yarn

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in the past week I went just a wee bit dyeing crazy nuts cuckoo over enthusiastic. I basically tore through my stash looking for any white/cream/neutral colored skein of yarn I owned. And it didn’t stop there. I had already ordered some more wool yarn to handdye some sock yarn for myself, but it hasn’t arrived yet. So cool my jets and wait for the package of snowy, wooly goodness to arrive? Heck, no. A lack of undyed yarn can’t hold me back! I’m a dyeing maniac (if you misplace that ‘e’ in dyeing this statement has a completely different meaning…). Let me at all the yarns!

So I next raided the stash for any leftover or lonely skeins of yarn that could be overdyed. Overdyeing is basically taken a skein of yarn that is neglected or a bit color-ly challenged (we all have those ‘why did I buy this?’ skeins) and using the dye to transform it into a skein-of-a-different-color… literally. It’s like going to the yarn store and splurging on brand new yarn but you don’t actually have to go out and avoid eye contact on the subway.  And even better, it only costs you some food coloring and latex gloves.

So I had a bit of fun with that. I kettle dyed three skeins of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted (originally a dusky light purple) into variegated purple, red, and blue. I think those will become either a honey cowl or a lonely tree shawl this fall. I also dyed 1150 meters of Italian superwash wool that was originally a robin’s egg blue (a more grown up way of saying baby blue) with magenta and a quick swirl of purple to get a nice, bright berry pink and purple variegation. I really want it to become a shifting sweater, but a looking back cardigan could be nice, too.

Review: Crafty’s Knit Original Toe-Up Socks Online Class

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Craftsy and do receive compensation for sales made if you click my links. All reviews are truthful and I only positively review items I am actually satisfied with.

As you may have noticed by now, I like knitting socks. A lot. Especially now that the weather is warmer, socks are just a perfect for project for me: they are small, portable, and once I’m finished I can still wear them immediately.

But while I can follow sock patterns rather well, I felt like I still didn’t fully understand the process of sock making. Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but I like to understand why you do something rather than just blindly following along because someone said so. So when I was offered a free class by Craftsy I knew I wanted one that would help me hone my sock making skills, helping me to understand exactly how to modify patterns to make the socks fully customized for the best fit and wear for me (or whoever I am making socks for, but, let’s be honest, it’s usually me).

I decided on the Toe-Up socks course because no matter how many socks I’ve made, the gusset of toe-up socks still remains a mystery to me. I feel like every pattern tells me differently how to work the gusset, how many increases, when to start increases, ahhhh! It’s a socking mess! Plus, I really liked the option to learn new ways to work the toe and the heel (the course includes instructions for three of each) as I tend to learn one method and just stick with it because I’ve grown comfortable with it, even though it may not necessarily be the best for me.

So far I’m about half way through the course and I’m really enjoying it. Here are a couple of things I especially like about how Craftsy offers it’s online courses:

  • I can take this course on my own time. 

This means I can listen to one lesson when I feel like it, or power through a whole bunch. Craftsy even has an app for my iPad, so I can watch a lesson while in the tub with a glass of wine – this behavior would probably be frowned upon at your local yarn store or community college.

  • I can review single lessons as many times as I want!
  • And I own this class FOR-EV-ER (or until I forget my Craftsy password).
  • Receive one-on-one help from the course instructor and other students. 
This characteristic I like a lot. You can ask a question at any time using the Craftsy platform and this will be seen by other students as well as the instructor. And you can ask as many questions as you want, so go ahead, be that annoying kid in the class.
  • Tons of materials are included with the course.
Along with several video lessons, this course also came with a worksheet that helped you work through  everything you need to create your own perfect sock depending on your specific measurements and knitting gauge. You can then apply these values to the universal sock pattern to make perfect socks every time! It also came with a small stitch dictionary (!) and three different patterns. I was very pleased with everything this course included because I just assumed it would only be the video lessons (so it was like I was getting extra freebie goodies).
The few drawbacks to the course I’ve come across so far:
  • You have to have web access to watch the videos.
  • Not for knitting/sock beginners – you should probably have a basic knowledge making socks to get the most out of this course.
  • My favorite technique, magic loop, seems a little underrepresented in the patterns, but is covered in the videos.
  • A little costly for people on tight budgets.**
Overall, though I am very happy with the course so far and it is far more in-depth than I thought it would be, including advice for choosing yarn and colors for the stitch/sock you are interested in working, as well as a fun history of making toe-up socks. 
**HARK! All Craftsy courses are on sale (up to 50% off!!!) this weekend! So the sock course I took would only be $20. If you have been on the edge of taking online courses, here’s your chance to try one out. I have been thinking of trying one the cooking courses which look great, or perhaps a stranding knitting course for only $15. Decisions, decisions.

WIP: Boating socks


This week:

Knitting: My knitting this summer has become quite predictable. Yet another pair of socks are on my needles. This week I’m working on the Edwardian Boating socks with some handpainted Stroll yarn from Knit Picks. The long floats and linen stitch really make these a fun knit and make the most of the short color changes in handpainted yarns.

I have also cast on a simpler pattern for some socks for A who was dropping some not-so-subtle hints that he wanted another pair of socks. Picking patterns for him is always harder because I am apparently just drawn to patterns that are much too girly… but this is coming from the man who thinks even cables are too “dainty.”

Reading: I finally finished The Girl Who Fell Below Fairyland and Led the Revels There. It was such a fun read. I’m now starting on Miserere (I got lost in those ‘er’s) by Theresa Frohock which is a bit different than I thought it would be… but I’m only a few chapters in, so I’ll give it a chance.

Watching: I am in desperate need of some suggestions for Netflix viewing… I feel like I’ve watched everything, which I know isn’t true. If you’ve found something wonderful and have just been waiting to tell someone about it, here’s your chance – I’m up for anything!

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

Sangria with mango, raspberry, and strawberry – yum!

Another weekend, another reason for sangria. This is becoming a bit of a habit, isn’t it? At this rate, I feel like I should start a blog meme for Sangria Saturday.

For me, homemade sangria is a fun way to take advantage of in-season fruit. It’s still a bit early on in the spring up here, so there’s not a lot of local fruits available. (No offense, Georgia, but Ontario peaches are some of the best I’ve ever had.) Till then, I’ll just use whatever is on sale at the market. This week I thought I’d try a mango, strawberry, raspberry, and mint combo. Homemade sangria is so easy – in just a few steps you have something fresh and slightly inebriating (just how I like my springs/summers).

In a pitcher, add:
1. Fresh mint – smooshed a bit (I believe the technical term is crushed, but the action feels more like smooshing to me). I basically just use the bottom of a glass to smoosh it and release it’s awesome minty powers.
2. About half a pint of some fresh raspberries.
3. Some sliced strawberries – eye ball it.
4. Some diced mango… again, eye ball it. I like my sangria with lots of fruit. It soaks up lots of alcohol, but I can convince myself it’s good for me because it’s fruit, and you are always hearing you need to eat more fruit (it’s not my fault no one specified how I was to obtain this extra fruit).
5. Now the good stuff. I went with a bottle of Sauvignon blanc, but almost any white wine with a bit of a fruity taste will work. I also add in a bit of lemon-lime or grapefruit soda.
6. Ta-da! All done. It’s pretty, it’s yummy, it the perfect weekend drink for sipping and sharing.

Try your own fruity combinations and have fun! Be sure to share if you stumble upon something simply delicious (like there’s a sangria that isn’t…please.)