Friday, October 25, 2013

The Year Long Scarf

A co-worker, who is also a knitter, and I were in the kitchen at work heating up our lunches yesterday.  I noticed she had a project with her and we got to talking about what we are working on, what we bring to work and so forth while waiting for our food.  She mentioned that she had seen a project on Pintrest where a knitter had knit one row of a scarf a day to match the color of the sky.  We both thought this was an interesting idea for a project and then she said "or you could do a color to match your mood that day."

I think this is a brilliant idea.

Her birthday was yesterday and mine is in a couple of weeks so we both decided that we would start the scarf on our birthday and it would document this year in each of our lives.

Luckily, I have a little time to plan the color scheme (she was going home last night to see if it was even going to be possible).  I will predetermine what color corresponds to each emotion/mood and at the end of the day I will grab the appropriate color and knit.  However, unlike the project that inspired this idea, I think I will knit more than one row.  I haven't yet determined how many, it will probably depend on the weight of yarn and needle size I choose to use.  Maybe the number of rows will correspond to the intensity of the mood.  Well, I don't want to make it overly complicated.

Should be an interesting year.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Because One Crafty Obession is Never Enough

I blame the website Craftsy.

I was first introduced to the website with an e-mail about the online knitting classes.  It looked interesting so I signed up.  I "brought" a couple of free classes to see what it was like and loved the format. I've watched as the site offered more and more classes.  Then this past July they had a really good sale and some very interesting free classes available.

Its like the drug dealer that says the first one's free. . . I was hooked.  I grabbed a free class on sewing tote bags, and a drastically discounted class on how to design and make A-line skirts.

You see, my mom and aunt are quilters and have been sewers most of my life.  In fact, in my childhood my mother made most of the clothes. Both have tried a number of times to introduce this skill to me.  I've had an interest, but never enough to actually take the time to sit at a sewing machine and learn.

It took Craftsy and Doctor Who to push me over the edge.

I have wanted to make something Doctor Who related and decided that a tote bag would be ideal.  I found great fabrics available at Spoonflower, but they are high quality and therefore fairly expensive.  Not ideal for a first project.

Enter Joann's Labor Day sale: 50% off most of the items I would need (my husband already had a sewing machine) and additional coupon for 15% off the entire order including the sale items.  I packed the husband and the daughter into the car and off we went.  I found very quickly that if not monitored I could spend hours looking through fabrics just the way I can with yarn. All the colors, patterns and textures were delicious even with the cheapest of fabrics.  After about an hour in the store I had everything I needed (and some extra) to make my first attempt at sewing.

The project was a reversible tote with boxed corners and a pocket.  Mostly just a lot of straight line sewing, which sounds easier than it it when you are just starting out. The results were far from perfect and that is fine with me, because I had fun.


With my tablet and Craftsy class queued up, I took over the kitchen table (the only space in my house large enough to tackle even the smallest of sewing projects).  I cut the fabric and with a bit of trepidation, began sewing the pieces together.  The outside went together quickly and easily.  It was the reversible lining where I ran into issues.

Before sewing the two panels together, you have to sew the pocket together and then attach it to one of the panels.   The pocket gave me no issues other than not getting an even seam around all sides.  However, my first attempt at attaching it was a failure.  How could it be a failure?  Did it fall off?  Did I sew it closed? Nope . . .I sewed it to the wrong side of the fabric.

Out came the seam ripper.  This is where I discovered that I did an excellent job of back stitching and securing the pocket.  It took my husband's help to get the pocket off.  My next learning curve problem hit when I went to sew the two panels of the lining together.  I didn't have enough pins securing them together and the fabric slipped while I sewing the bottom causing about an inch different in how they lined up.  This was the second seam ripping, and much easier than the pocket.

The final moment of understanding came when I realized that the seam allowance on the outside was more than the seam allowance on the inside, which meant that the reversible tote was bigger on the inside.  As a Doctor Who fan this made me smile, as a someone trying to sew the lining in it made me frustrated.

I managed to make it work and completed the project in only 8 hours (which includes shopping and stopping to have dinner).  Not bad for a first attempt and good enough to get me hooked on the creative process of sewing.

Just to make sure my two crafting obsession get along . . .this tote is now housing the yarn and needles for an upcoming knitting project.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Knitting vs. Husband

The kids are gone for the weekend.  The house is quite.  It's overcast.  It feels like a lazy day.

My dog's version of a lazy day!

The husband and I talked about going out and doing something fun, and yet all I can think about is sitting and knitting.  It's not that I don't want to go out and have fun, I just feel the call of my projects sitting downstairs waiting for me.

Normally, I would just take a project with me, but there are a couple of reasons that doesn't work right now:

  1. The point of the husband and I going out without the kids is to spend time together, and generally I bring knitting along to have something to keep me amused/occupied while waiting in lines or watching the kids run around wildly.
  2. I don't really have any knitting projects on needles that don't require repeated attention to a pattern.  When I travel knit, I like the pattern to be one I have completely memorized.
Of course, it's early enough that I might be able to get in just enough knitting time before we go out to satisfy me until we get home. 

Sounds like a good plan!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How Many Projects Can I have Going at Once?

The answer to that is . . .a lot!

I know I am not alone in this as most knitters have multiple projects on needles at one time.  However, I was looking at my Ravelry project board and realizing that I have a lot of projects that have been languishing for many years.  I finally put some into official hibernation on the site.  I do have every intention of finishing them . . . just not right now.

That being said, I started yet another project.  This one uses a yarn dyed exclusively for my friend's business, Yarnover Truck.   It is Anzula Haiku in Minty Unicorn. So far I love this yarn.  It's so soft and slides easily through my fingers.  It also highlights the stitch pattern well.

I know, I just recently started the Seascape Stole, but I have come to find that project takes a lot of concentration and I needed one that didn't.   I needed some easy TV knitting.

Enter the Vicissitude Tank and Cowl by The Sexy Knitter.

This project is knit in the round and the first part of it is 14 repetitions of 7 simple rows.  I'm making the large which has 224 stitches in each round so it does take a while to get through (I'm not a very fast knitter), but that is kinda what I love about it.  Once I know the repeating pattern for the row, I can just keep going until my marker comes back to me.  I take a short break, memorize the next row and off I go again.

My husband was fascinated watching me knit in the round.  I realized I haven't knit many projects in the round, and never anything this large.  All the sock knitting I have done is either on double pointed or two circular . . . it just doesn't look the same to a non-knitter as knitting rounds on circular needles.

I've made a promise to myself that I will finish at least one of these recently started projects before starting any other knitting project.  Of course, that doesn't stop me from starting a sewing project.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lifelines: you hope you never need them, but you always want to have them

In my last post, I talked about getting back to knitting I have to think about.  The pattern I'm currently working does take thought, the repeat is 43 rows long and not possible to memorize (at least for me). However, it is a fairly simple pattern in that it is mostly simple stitches (the hardest one being a double decrease where two slipped stitches are passed over a knit stitch.)  

At first I thought, I've got this, I don't need a lifeline.

Then I ripped out the first few rows three times because I wasn't paying close enough attention. So . . . after I got through the two row repeat at the start of section A (which is a total of 32 rows) I thought, I'm not doing that again, it's lifeline time!

As previously stated, it's been a long time since I knit anything where a lifeline would even be a consideration . . . actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I ever really used a lifeline before this project. I'm sure I have done projects that could have used one, but at this moment I cannot remember ever using one.  

Anyway, I started looking around for an appropriate waste yarn to use, but everything that I had readily available consisted of a fiber that I was sure would end up felting and not being removable.

Enter the dental floss; It was the perfect solution.  It's synthetic, designed to slip between surfaces easily and found in any household.  The flat design of the floss I had on hand fit neatly through the eye of a small needle without any effort.  The one caveat is that dental floss sometimes has a powdery coating on it.  I made sure to strip that (mostly) off before inserting into the stitches.  Another side benefit (at least to me) is that my knitting smells minty fresh!

Withing a few rows I was glad I had inserted the lifeline.  One again, not used to knitting and thinking, I had to rip out the first few rows of the next part of section A two times.  The lifeline save me (and my family) from the temper tantrum that would have occurred had I needed to rip out the knitting any further back.  Now that I have completed section A and the first time through section B (only 5 or 6 more repeats of that to go), I will insert another lifeline. 

Luckily, in between my other lifelines the only mistakes I made were (an easily fixed) missed yarn over and coming across some inexplicable twisted stitches. 

I'm really enjoying this pattern and it is moving relatively quickly (of course having 5 days off from work gave me lots of time to knit).  The color pooling in the yarn just increases my feeling of a deep sea at sunset, which is appropriate given the name of the pattern is the Seascape Stole.

So, here's to lifelines . . .may you never need them, but always have them (just in case)!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thinking and Knitting at the Same Time!

I started knitting the Seascape Stole a couple of days ago.  Well, to be honest, the first cast on was a couple of days ago and then the re-cast on was yesterday.  (I almost always have to re-cast on with a project like this, because my first attempt is WAY too tight.)

It's been a while since I've done any lace knitting, or more specifically any knitting that I've had to actually think about.  I forgot how maddening the first few rows are until the garment has enough weight to keep the stitches orderly.

I'm really in love with the yarn I'm using, SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Lace in spruce.  This is the first time I am using yarn from this company, and I already know that I will be seeking more projects suitable to trying out their other lines.  Not only does the yarn feel good on the needles and slipping through my fingers, but the color is also pleasing to the eye.  The vibrant, green-blue reminds me more of the deep sea at sunset than a spruce, but I can absolutely see why they chose the name they did for this colorway. 

The pattern calls for a mohair based yarn to give the stitches a halo effect, which I agree is really pretty in the photos accompanying the pattern and gives the stole an airy appearance. However, I want to actually be able to wear the finished product and mohair is not my friend.  Thankfully, this is a popular pattern, with over 1400 projects on Ravelry, and I was able to find enough pictures of non-mohair stoles that I know this yarn should produce a fine garment.

With a nice, long, 5-day weekend starting I hope to get through quite a bit of the pattern.  In fact, I'm off to start knitting right now.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Car Knitting

Yesterday the family took a trip to the San Diego Safari Park.  The drive was approximately an hour there and back, the perfect opportunity to do some car knitting.



I'm working on Wingspan right now, which is a simple, garter stitch pattern with no-wrap short rows.  This is about the complexity I can manage while riding in a car.  Anything too much more than some simple garter stitch (or an easily memorized pattern) and I have to look at the pattern or stitches often enough to make myself thoroughly car sick.

I'm using Knit Picks Chroma in the Midwinter colorway.  I like the feel of the yarn and the way the color changes through the pattern.  I do find myself splitting the stitches a little too easily, but that is not uncommon for a singe ply yarn like this.  The pattern is incredibly easy, which makes not only good for car rides, but also for intense TV/movie watching.

I thought about bringing the knitting into the Safari Park with me, but reconsidered when I thought about all the dust and dirt.  I don't mind it getting on me, but the thought of it getting on my WIP was not OK.

I'm just about at the halfway point in the pattern.  Hoping to be done with it in the next week.  I'm trying really hard to finish one project before I start another (yeah, not really sure that is going to work out in the end).  Really, I want to get back to the project that I borrowed this set of needles from so that I can finish it.  My coin lace stole has been sitting around too long unfinished.  Unfortunately, I discovered a number of mistakes that will drive me nuts, so I have to frog what I have done and start over.  Oh well, such is the knitter's life.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Yarnover Truck Launches

A new mobile retail truck hit the So Cal scene yesterday, The Yarnover Truck. It's your local yarn store on wheels.  Think food truck, but with yummy yarn, which is a deadly combination for those of us that love yarn.  No longer do you have to drive to the yarn (although you absolutely should still support your brick and mortar LYS), the yarn comes to you (well, if you happen to be at one of their events). 
 
The truck is the the creation of Maridee and Barbra*, two long time yarn enthusiasts who met at a knitting group a few years ago.  The launch of the business is the culmination of 8 months of planning and many years of dreams.  And the launch was a great success!

 It was a warm day at Johnny Carson Park, and the weather was perfect for sitting around with fellow knitters, crocheters and even some spinners.  It was a good thing the weather cooperated, because as you can see from the picture, the girls had a long line out the back of the truck (whose name is Debbie, in honor of the fact that she used to be a Little Debbie snack cake truck). 

Once you walk up the cute, wooden steps, Debbie greets you with floor to ceiling white, wood, yarn cubbies full of such soft yarn in such vibrant colors!  (Although by the end of the launch party the cubbies were not as full as when they started, and they had almost sold out of one of the trucks custom colors.)  The added skylight provides natural light showing off the beauty of the yarn.

Just like wandering into any good yarn store, it's hard to not say, "I'll take one of everything!" If only we all had the pocketbook to support that statement.  Alas, I left with far less than that, but what I left with is wonderful and I can't wait to start projects with it.

If you are lucky enough to live in Southern California, keep an eye out on the roads . . . you may see the bright, blue truck in your area. (Of course, you can always go to their website to check out a listing of upcoming events and even make suggestions of places the truck should go.)

*full disclosure: Barbra is one of my best friends.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Dreaded "E" Word

 I hate this word so much that I am having a hard time starting this post.  Fine, I'll just say it . . .

Exercise! (whew)

Along with knitting, almost all other activities took a hiatus while I was in school. . . and I mean all.  I basically became a couch potato, except it wasn't the TV I was occupied with, it was reading text books and writing papers. Could I have found time, 10 minutes here and there, to move more than I was . . .absolutely.  I recognize I used school as an excuse.  Now, I am paying the price.

Not only did I gain back all the weight I had worked hard to lose, but I get winded easily and my RA is worse.  Although weight loss seems like it would motivate me, it just doesn't.  Don't get me wrong, I want to lose weight, but that in and of itself is not a motivating factor.  It's really much simpler than that.

I want to feel better.

When I was working out every morning before getting the kids ready for school, I had more energy and I felt happier.  The more I moved, the less my joints hurt.  I want that back in my life.  If I lose a few pounds in the process, great.  If not, fine by me.

As of today, I am rededicating myself to moving everyday for at least 20 minutes.

I started this morning with my stability ball.  I hate that even the beginner routine had me huffing and puffing.  I'm a competitive person by nature, and I did not like that the women on the TV were not even breaking a sweat as I continually wiped my forehead.  The desire to make it look as easy as it should be is enough motivation to keep me going for now.  Furthermore, I am the kind of person that believes the Universe puts signs in front of us to point us down the right path.  Today, my daily affirmation site (LouiseHay.com) said the following:
"I lovingly take care of my body. I am in tip-top shape."

Thanks, Universe. I get it.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Two Year Break

Well, my year of no new yarn turned in to two years of no new blog post. (insert an emoticon of your choice).  This does not translate into two years of nothingness, although I didn't get much knitting done in that time.

A year and a half ago I decided to put my social life on hold and go back to school to get my MBA.  Today, I am officially done.  Yes, with two kids and a high pressure job I decided I didn't have enough on my plate and added school.  Don't ask me how I did it, I really don't know.  I just put my head down and pushed through it.  I do know that I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends, and I am eternally grateful to them.

So, now what?  I have spent every day for the last 18 months (minus a couple weeks during the holidays each year) logging hours of researching and writing.  I'm not sure I know how not to write on a daily basis. 

Maybe that is a good thing.

I know that some of my time will go to knitting again. I can't wait to sit, knit, and not feel guilty that I should be working on a paper.  ( I put a comma after knit because I am so accustom to academic writing it does not feel natural anymore to remove it.)  Reading for pleasure is certainly a must do.  I'm half of the way through A Storm of Swords and have been for over a year.  Getting out of the house on the weekends with the family is time I will treasure. (I've only seen 4 movies in the last two years.)

But I will miss the writing. 

Not the dry, academic part (although I'm sort of a nerd that likes that stuff), but the act of writing. The sound of the keyboard as my fingers put words to page, and the feeling of searching for just the right word, the one with the right flavor.  I guess that's why I'm writing this post.  Does it mean I'm going to start blogging on a regular basis . . . maybe.

I guess I'll just have to see what the world puts in front of me next, and what inspiration I take from it.