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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Trying to Turn "Humbug" into Christmas Cheer

Pattern: Variation on the Tin Can Knits Rye pattern
Yarn: Regia Hand Dyed Effect in color 06551
Favorite Christmas Book: This version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Anyone else struggling to really get into the Christmas spirit? Other than our Advent activity each night, nothing about this Christmas is exciting to me currently. I don't why. Maybe that time of the month? I always seem to blame that....

We put up Christmas decorations last night. We waited until after my daughter's 13th (!!!) birthday party this last weekend. I think part of my bad mood was the desire to have things looking "just so" versus having my children "help". We opted for a compromise, making me wonder how other mothers get their homes to look so wonderfully decorated this time of year. Oh well. It isn't like decorating has ever really been my strong suit. 

I planned an Advent activity weeks ago, wrapping up Christmas books with a scripture about Jesus Christ written on a card inside of them for us to open each night of Advent. Pictured is our pile of books we've unwrapped so far and the basket full of what is left. It is amazing how many Christmas books I've accumulated over the years once I went looking for them in the house. I only had to buy 7 to have 25 for Advent. I am really enjoying reading these books with the kids each night. When you only read them once a year, they always seem new. One of my best finds was this Rudolph book from my childhood. On Amazon a used copy was $15. But I found one in my local used book store for $4 so I was very excited. I just love the pictures. It was my favorite book as a child. I wish I could have found the bigger one my parents have but settled for the little golden book.

I am making pretty good progress on husband's Christmas socks. I needed to knit 2 inches a day but yesterday I only did 1. Last weekend I knit a lot though and then started to have some carpal tunnelish pain. I've never experienced that before. It got me a little worried but after a quick google search on "knitting yoga" and other knitting stretches/injuries it is feeling better now. It is kind of funny to think of a knitting injury, makes me feel old. But I found a few things that helped decrease the pain.
  • Knit with hands close to the lap
  • Knit with wrists as straight as possible 
  • Sit up straight with feet on the ground    
So there you go, some little knitting tips for the day. 
Have a great week! Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

One Knitted Present Done, One to Go, and a Lesson on Budgeting

Yarn: Malabrigo superwash merino in Lettuce and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Orange, White, and Coal.

Pattern: Variation on the Tin Can Knits Rye pattern
Yarn: Regia Hand Dyed Effect in color 06551

I finished the fox hat! Super excited about that. The duplicate stitching was not difficult at all. Two great tutorials for that on Craftsy and Purl Bee. I like how it turned out. Though I want to practice with my color work so the tension is more even. I blocked it but that can only do so much for the tight tension on those foxes. Oh well. It will fit my daughter and I think she will love it. I got distracted watching Elf with my boys and knit too much before starting the decreases for the crown so it is a little slouchy of a hat on top.

I now have only one knitted Christmas present I am trying to finish. I was going to make a tiger stuffie for my daughter but have postponed that until Valentine's day because 1. her sister is giving her a fox stuffie from IKEA and 2. she is already getting more gifts than the others. I normally don't make the number exactly even but no sense in stressing out to rush and make another when it isn't needed.

So I am trying to finish my husband's Christmas socks. If I knit 2 inches a day until Christmas I will finish them. I started this plan on Sunday and so far it is working out. We will see. I am kind of using the Rye pattern with a few variations.

  • I used finger weight yarn instead of worsted, casting on 64 stitches and including 18 in the garter stitch column.

I am not a super fan of this yarn. I like the colors but it isn't a really tight twist so it splits a lot. I have dropped a few stitches and they are a PAIN to pick back up. I dropped one and didn't realize it for several inches. I almost threw my knitting against the wall while trying to fix that mistake. I am getting use to it though and I think the husband will enjoy them. I gave up keeping this gift a secret and am just knitting it in the open, pretty much the only way to have time to knit 2 inches a day.

The Book

I started working a few months ago as a business manager for the White Coat Investor . It is interesting work and I am learning a lot both as a business manager and from the personal finance posts that I now have to read and prep for publishing. The editor published this book and I recently finished reading it. We are on a quest to pay off our student loan debt from my husband's graduate school and are pretty intense about budgeting to make that happen as quickly as possible. What I liked best about this book is the way it makes you think about spending your money intentionally. For instance, the author says that financially successful people live far below their means, saving 20-30% of their income.

After reading that I went back and figured out what % of our income we had been paying on our student loans this year, 22% and we saved 4%. But after reading this book we decided that we would take 30% of our income to pay off our loans and try to live on 60% (after 10% goes to tithing). So far it is working great and our debt is decreasing nicely.

The financial education journey, that we have been on the last two years since Dave Ramsey gave us hope it was possible to get out of debt, as led me to know that when we are financial wise with what God has given us by living within a budget and getting/staying out of debt, AND being generous with our means to help His children, He blesses us immensely. I have seen this in our lives the last 2 years. As we have learned to be wise and generous, our income has increased to pay off our debts.

Have a great week! Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Foxy Hat Part 2

Yarn: Malabrigo superwash merino in Lettuce and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Orange, White, and Coal. 
Book: Hope Runs

So I am making good progress on my foxy hat. I'm super hopeful it will be done by Christmas. Only problem is that I am not sure it is going to fit. :( I tried so hard to knit the color work at an even gauge and keep my floats loose but not too loose. But it is kind of tight. I am not sure what kind of magic I can work with blocking. I'm not going back though. I've come too far to frog it. Someone will get a fox hat for Christmas. It just might not be the recipient I had in mind. I still need to do the duplicate stitches for the eyes, nose, and mouth. It should be interesting. I've never done it before. 

I found this sweet handmade pottery bowl at our local thrift store. It isn't a yarn bowl but I'm using it as such and it is working great. Super thrilled to find it for $1!!

I am really enjoying Hope Runs. I love these inspiring stories about people making a difference in the world. They inspire me to want to make the world around me a better place. Hope is such a powerful thing. It is to desire with the expectation of obtainment. Hope is motivating, to continue to work towards your hearts desire even when faced with challenges and failures. 

I have been thinking a lot about hope lately as I have a child that is feeling very hopeless about her ability to interact nicely with people around her. It is sad and frustrating.  In a moment of despair last night dealing with this child, I began to think it would be better if she didn't have Christ's gospel in her life because it is just giving her expectations for behavior that she is not able to achieve and thus makes her feel terrible about herself. So guilty and horrible that she can't behave better. Which leads me to feel like a bad mother, that my parenting is making her feel like she is worthless. It was a bad night.

But this morning, I had this thought, we can't do it by ourselves. Trying to live up to the standards of Christ on our own is impossible. We would fail and feel full of guilt. And that is exactly how my sweet child feels. But we aren't suppose to do it on our own. Christ paid the price for our sins, failures, pains, heartache, etc so we don't have to carry those with us. He can take those away and make up the difference for when we fall short. And all of us do. Accessing the power of Christ's atonement is the only way we can become who He knows we can be. As a parent it is my job to teach my child this. Not an easy task but with God nothing is impossible. 

"Through the Savior's sacrifice, we have the hope, opportunity, and strength to make real heartfelt changes in our lives." - Elder Robert D. Hales

Have a great week! Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Foxy Hat

Yarn: Malabrigo superwash merino in Lettuce and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Orange, White, and Coal.

I finished my fetching mitts out of my merino/silk handspun. Yay! I really like them. Now I am dutifully working on 2 Christmas knitting projects. We will see if either gets finished my Christmas. I've been spending my evenings online finishing Christmas shopping instead of knitting. But I am done now! So hopefully I will get this hat done this week. 

One of the Yarn Along-ers suggested this book a few weeks ago. I am sorry I cannot remember who. But I picked it up from the library and I am really enjoying it. It is sad as it recounts the discrimination against the German-Americans during WWI but the history and the characters are interesting. I highly recommend it. 

That's all for today. I am off to make rolls and pies today. We are hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow with my brother and another family of six, friends of ours from our undergraduate days at Brigham Young University. It will be fun but busy exhausting hours cooking before that. Happy Thanksgiving to all those celebrating this week!

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 

Sharing with Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea

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!

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