One knitter's battle to conquer the intended gauge . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One Handspun Fetching Mitt -- and a lot of vomit

My hopes of finishing my mitts fell through. I'm going to blame it on vomit. A. Lot. Of. It. Like the worse messes of my almost 13 years of motherhood. Cleaned it off the walls. Out of children's hair. Totally disgusting. And then I joined in the fun for a little while. Good times.

But I finished one Fetching Mitt with my 2 ply merino/silk handspun and I love it.  For a long time I thought fingerless mitts were silly. I mean what is the point if your fingers were just going to get cold. But now that I live in an old drafty house with the computer right next to a window I realize the benefit of wearing fingerless mitts inside! I wore my one for a bit while knitting in bed sick this week and my hand was so nice and warm. I can't wait to finish the other one. Then make another pair in sock weight yarn. I love the warm bulkiness of these but also want some thinner, more manageable ones.

Instead of a lot of knitting, I laid in bed reading, finishing 3 books. Two by Joan Bauer: Hope was Here and Close to Famous. I really like young adult fiction these days and I highly recommend these two. The characters are really likable, they over come great adversity, and you feel good after reading about them. I also finished Iceberg Hermit, which is the book my book group during my co-oping time at my daughter's school is reading. It was interesting. It is a story of a boy who survives in the arctic for several years, living on an iceberg.

I wish I had something more exciting or inspiring to share this week other than talking about vomit so I'll leave you with this scripture I've been repeating in my head a lot this week.

"Be Still, and Know that I am God!"
 -Psalms 46:10

Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Handspun Fetching Mitts

Pattern: Soon to be knit into Fetching Mitts from Knitty 2006
Book I'm reading this week: Hope was Here by Joan Bauer

Roman was very insistent that he needed to be in the photos. I kept trying to get him to move but that turned it into a game and made it even more fun to photo bomb my pictures. Oh Romey. We started chore charts and commission last night. Today was the first official day and by this afternoon he declared he wasn't doing his chores because he didn't need money. He gets enough for his birthday so why should he work? In the next breath he asked me to buy him "everything he wants" for Christmas. We will see if he changes his tune when the others get paid next Monday night and he doesn't. :)

I have a bad case of startitis. November is never a good time to have it. Not when I'm suppose to be dedicated to Christmas knits. But knitting is also suppose to be fun so I started something new anyway. I was hoping to get more yardage from this  4 oz roving. I was drafting it as thin as I could. Then I 2 plied it. I ended up with just under 150 yards. More than my last 4 oz roving, so I am improving, but less than I wanted. It is still thick and thin but slightly more consistent than the last yarn I spun. It is amazingly soft. I figured that 150 yards is enough for a hat or fingerless mitts. Since I am not really a hat wearer much I searched for a mitten pattern I liked that could work with this yarn and chose Fetching. I'm hoping by this time next week I'll have a new pair of mitts. Since my home is old and drafty, I plan on wearing them while I post next Wednesday!

Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Like Giving...Circle Socks

Pattern: Circle Socks
Yarn: Candy Skeins Yummy Fingering (in Colorway Bomb Pop)

I missed posting last week. It was a hectic week. My husband returned from his business trip to the Philippines and we celebrated his belated birthday. Then my sweet Jude turned 6 and we celebrated his birthday 2 days later. And 2 days after that was Halloween. Makes for a busy week for the mother who puts it all together! But a good time was had by all. Lots of candy consumed, silly games played at Chuckie Cheese by the cousins, siblings, and friend of the birthday boy, and a TON of gum chewed. 6 is a big deal around our home. It is the legal age for chewing gum. And Jude has had a piece in his mouth ever since he woke up on his birthday morning. Literally. You can see it in the Chuckie Cheese photo. He is enjoying smacking it and we are desperately trying to get him to chew with his mouth closed. I can't wait until the newness wears off.  :)

I finally finished my circle socks. You know the ones that my sister received for her birthday in July still attached to the needles? :) Here she is modeling them with her cute feet. She loves them. And they fit which I was excited about because they seemed a little big. I am not pleased with the pooling on the feet. I broke the yarn and reattached it in a different place on the ball thinking that might help but nope, still pooling. At that point in the knitting I wasn't sure what I else I could do so I just went with it. But I am steering clear of variegated sock yarns for awhile. At least for socks.

Okay here is the important part of my post! My book this week. I Like Giving by Brad Formsma is literally a life changer. Or could be if read in the right spirit. I randomly picked it up at the library. It was on display close to the check out desk and looked intriguing. I thought I'd just take it home and flip through it. That is why I love libraries. You can take a book home not knowing if it will be terrible or not without it costing you a dime. Well if you return it on time... :)

Anyway I flipped through it at home and didn't put it down for 2 days. Read the whole thing cover to cover. Then went to the website and read there too. There are some pretty remarkable stories about generosity in both the book and the website. From giving the shirt off your back to a complete stranger to buying your child's bus driver a vacation to Florida to recover from cancer treatments. It inspires you to want to be generous too. An interesting question is asked after explaining that being generous make you happier. It is "What if money can buy us happiness if we spend it in a different way?" Research confirms that spending money on ourselves doesn't improve our happiness all that much but spending money on others does.

I like this quote from the book,

"Every time I take a step in the direction of generosity, I know that I am moving from fear to love." 
-Henri Nouwen

The author suggests that when we feel moved to be generous that we don't think about it too much but just do it. Days before reading that I had felt prompted to send my friend that I roomed with on our cruise one of the new Mary Kay cosmetic bags I had in my inventory. She had expressed liking the one I used on the cruise. So I packaged it up, adding a skein of yarn from my stash for her daughter who is learning to knit, and mailed it to Alaska. And felt really happy about it afterwards. Thinking about how fun it would be for her to open the package. The author says that after finding a giving opportunity you should share it, not to brag but to encourage and inspire others. I don't think giving opportunities should always be shared as sometimes it is best to keep it anonymous. But I also see the value in share it to inspire others. I was certainly inspired by the giving stories shared in this book! I hope you'll check out the website and read the book and be inspired too!

Visit Nicole, Ginny, and Linda for more fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taking Annis on a Cruise

The Annis Shawl went on it's first cruise this last week...pictured here with my bunkmate/friend Erin and Latoya on her wedding day. We've been friends since junior high. Such a fun weekend!

Pattern: Annis by Susanna IC
Yarn: Malabrigo lace Silkpaca in Teal Feather
Beads: Size 6 purple seed beads
New Fancy Tool: Addi Capped Steel Crochet Hook size 0.6mm

Here are the brides with their sons. Aren't they adorable? The family looks so beautiful and happy. The boys were my dates on Friday night while their moms went out and their grandmother recovered from a red-eye flight from Alaska. We watched Maleficent on the big screen up on the deck as the boat left the harbor. One of them asked me my name the next day. I asked him why he didn't ask me my name while we were on our date the night before. His response, "You look scarier in the daytime." Lol. I love kids honesty. 

It was an interesting weekend for me. I love Latoya. She was one of my best friends in high school. I'd met the boys before but I just met Athena this weekend and she is wonderful. I am happy for them. I wanted to be there to support Latoya in something that makes her happy. But I also don't believe that same-sex marriage is right in God's eyes. I believe that "marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God and is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children." God ordained marriage and we do not have the power to change His definition of it. So it was sort of a weekend of contradictions for me. But I love Latoya and I am glad I was able to be a part of something that she wanted to have happen.

We sailed on the Golden Princess from Los Angeles, CA to Encenada, Mexico. This ship is freaking huge. As I boarded I got a little nervous about sailing. I asked the first crew member I saw about the number of life vests and life boats. She assured me there were enough for the 3100 passengers and 1000 crew members on board. :)

On our day at see, before the wedding, I knitted on my circle socks and finished reading The Lions of Little Rock while sitting by the pool. It was a very relaxing morning. I highly recommend the book. I really liked it. It inspires you to be more courageous in facing your fears and stepping outside your comfort zone. 

A cruise can be very relaxing but is also kind of a strange place. Did you ever see the movie or read the book Austenland? It is about a resort in England where guest come and live like they were characters in Jane Austen's books in the 1800's. So the guest are living in this fake world but all the staff are in the real world. The cruise reminded me of that. The crew never broke character, they waited on you hand and foot (which made me feel slightly uncomfortable), and I felt like I was in a make-believe world of gluttony where everyone was eating and drinking as much as they could, while the staff looked on in disgust. The crew never expressed any disgust, I just thought how could they not be? Most were from other countries, mostly eastern European, and they were serving a bunch of greedy, fat Americans. Me included. I ate tons. :) Anyway it is a weird experience. I had a wonderful weekend. So fun! I would probably do it again, with a group, maybe a family reunion or something where no one had to worry about hosting or feeding a bunch of people, but I won't be booking a romantic cruise for two anytime soon.

Erin and I were woken up on the morning we docked in Encenada to the barking of a 20 or so sea lions like this one. It was awesome! They were hanging out where the cruise ship was trying to dock so we got to watch them all jump in the water from our balcony. A few came back that afternoon before we sailed so we could take pictures.

We walked downtown to do some shopping. This man made name bracelets for my daughters. It was amazing to watch. He whipped them up in 5 minutes or less. It was super cool. But in Mexico is were the cruise ship atmosphere really became a little bothersome. We'd just been engaged in such gluttony on board and then walked off into such poverty. It was disturbing. People and children begging on the street, following us around trying to sell little junky trinkets. The contrast between the cruise ship and Encenada was just so extreme. I left feeling a little sick to my stomach. But I didn't put money in the cups held by mothers with babies on the street or buy the children's trinkets. I bartered for lower prices. I don't know. I couldn't bring myself to be more generous or buy junk. So my stomach sickness came from a little bit of disgust for myself. I'm trying to redeem myself now by thinking of ways to help those in need closer to my home.

Joining with Nicole, Ginny, and Andrea.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beaded Annis Shawl

First off I just had to show you a photo of a beautiful place we went hiking last week. Millcreek Canyon. Isn't it gorgeous?!?

Second. I FINISHED MY SHAWL!! And it is blocked and DRY. Are you totally impressed. Me too. I also finished the Divergent Series. I did a little knitting while reading. It was tricky but I managed it. I liked Allegiant.  It is sad. More people die. But the ending. It feels hopeful. Like the community will survive, recover, and thrive. I liked the ending. Much more positive than the Hunger Games.

I think this is my first crescent shawl. And I am hooked! Those short rows make it go so much faster. I still don't know if I will like wearing a crescent shawl but I will give a try at the wedding. Beading was so much easier than I thought it would be. I used the crochet hook method and it was fabulous! I tried buying a crochet hook small enough for the beads at Joanns and Michaels with my coupon but they don't carry anything near small enough. I purchase my new hook at my LYS, Blazing Needles.

Pattern: Annis by Susanna IC
Yarn: Malabrigo lace Silkpaca in Teal Feather
Beads: Size 6 purple seed beads
New Fancy Tool: Addi Capped Steel Crochet Hook size 0.6mm

And speaking of the wedding. I should be packing for my wedding cruise and finishing the mound of dishes that need to be done before I leave! :) But instead I am blogging and packing my knitting. Priorities! I am so excited to be kid free, I may be over packing on the knitting but I want to have choices! 2 socks: circle socks which are almost done and a new pair of vanilla christmas knitting socks. And 2 lacey works in progress. I am hoping to finish the circle socks for my sister and the I Heart Cowl for me.

And I'll leave you with a little spirit message. Our church's General Conference was the week before last and there were several messages on caring for the poor that touched my heart. I really like this quote. As a family we are trying to decide how we will answer this call.

Sharing with Ginny and Nicole

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Miracle of Spinning with a Silk Blend

I attended the Great Basin Fiber Arts Fair in August with my sister in law and purchased my first silk/merino blended fiber from the Fiber Addict. It is a merino/tussah silk blend (70/30) in the Jamaica colorway. I knew that I wanted to buy some fiber but I wasn't sure what type when I went. I was just looking for the most bang for my buck. And this fiber was it. The price was good. It is beautiful colors; purple, yellow, blue, green, orange, and white. I am planning to 2 ply it and hoping that doesn't muddy the colors too much. I'd be disappointed if it all turned out a little brown.

I am pretty sure that I always want to spin with a silk blend from now on. It drafts like a dream and is the thinnest that I have been able to spin.  Okay I don't have that much experience spinning other fibers than wool and maybe my alpaca roving will be just as amazing but I seriously love this silk/merino blend. It was 4 oz and I am shocked by how many yards I have been able to get out of it so far. Yay for spinning progress!!! Spinning is so meditative. If I can just sit for 15 minutes and spin, I get up in such a better place mentally. It is better than yoga, deep breathing, counting to 10, meditation, etc for helping me come back to a happy place.

I numbered my toilet paper rolls so I could ply the "bobbins" I spun first with the ones I spun last in hopes of getting a pretty even yarn even with the progress I have made in my spinning. I am not sure what I will make with the yarn. I will have to wait and see how many yards it really is. I didn't know how to do that with the singles without putting it on my niddy noddy or without a scale. So I just guesstimated on how much to put on each roll, trying to make it look even. We will see how I did when plying time comes.

I finished Insurgent. Frankly I kind of hate these suspenseful books that I can't seem to have enough self control to put down. It is annoying. I am a little tired of the dystopian young adult romance/violence novels. I decided after finishing book 2 that I was not going to read book 3. So I asked my sister how it all ended. She told me everything she remembered but that left more questions than answers so I picked up book 3 anyway today at the library. Dang it. I just need to get it all out of my system and move on. :)

Joining with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's Autumn Time, It's Autumn Time, The Leaves are on the Ground -- and I'm starting a Summer of Lace and Beads...

As a child growing up in Alaska, Spring, also known as Break-Up, was my favorite season. It was so full of hope and promise. When the sun was back bringing with it endless energy and the world was filling with beautiful colors again as everything bloomed. I still love spring. It was fun this last spring to see what beautiful colors popped up over night in our new yard. It was like a new surprise every morning. But Autumn time in Utah is starting to win my heart over. THE COLORS. My pictures just don't do it justice. I am in awe of God's magnificent creation.

The boys and I chauffeured for Maeve's field trip to Silver Lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon this last week. It was a beautiful place and the weather was fantastic. It was great to just be present without an agenda. We couldn't keep up with the class on the hike so we just played around after the guided nature walk around the lake, in which I learned that beavers are really, really important. Even if they keep flooding the homes up there.

On Saturday we braved a nasty rain storm to visit the Blue Moon Ranch alpaca open barn days. Holy moly alpacas are adorable. I am not an animal lover and I wanted to take one home with me. Except the one below with the leash. He was pretty much the terror of the herd. Chasing the others around and yelling at them. We were in the fields when it really started to rain and all the alpacas turned and ran for the barn immediately. Smart animals.

If I wanted to take one home with me, this little girl, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, wanted to to take the whole herd. She said we could trade in our lawn mower for them. She stayed out in the rain with the animals the entire time I was in the shop picking out my first bag of alpaca roving to spin. Maeve can't wait to come back next year and see her friends. I've been a little scared of spinning alpaca because people have warned me it is difficult to spin well but I am going to give it a try.

The Knitmore Girls do a Summer of Lace and Beads Knit-a-long. In the 5.5 years that I've been knitting I have never once had a desire to add beads to my knitting. But hearing little snippets about their KAL planted a seed and when I was looking for a shawl to where to a wedding next month I just became obsessed with adding beads. My friend emailed asking that everyone wear something teal or purple to the wedding, inspired by peacock feathers. It is a small wedding and she wanted everyone coordinating in the wedding photos. I just bought a black dress and thought a shawl would go well with it.

I chose Susanna C's Annis shawl pattern, replacing the nupps with beads, because lots of people said it was a fairly quick knit. But after this busy week it may need to knit itself to be finished in time. I totally miss calculated with the bead count and had to go back to the bead store today to buy more size 6 seed beads. Oops. I am half way done with the lace section. It is malabrigo silkpaca lace weight yarn (70% alpaca, 30% silk). In the teal feather colorway. I am super excited to wear it.

Starting to read Divergent didn't help the busy week. What an addicting book. I can't say I really liked it but I also couldn't put it down.  Did you read it? What faction would you have joined? Initially I probably would have said Amity (peaceful) but I'm having second thoughts after starting the second book. I know that if I had joined Dauntless (brave) mice, falling into an outhouse, and falling from a tall building would have been in my fear simulation/ladder thing. Bleh. I'd never survive.

Joining with Nicole, Ginny, and Andrea.