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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ponchos, Socks, and Parenting...

 Pattern: Very Harlot Poncho

Yarn: Crazy Zauberball, color: 1564

I returned from my California trip for the memorial service of my friend on Sunday evening. It was an amazing, wonderful, sad, and healing weekend. And I returned emotionally exhausted but so glad that I had made the trip. It was great to catch up with old friends and share memories and tears with our dear friend. The sadness is still overwhelming when I stop and think about the loss, not so much for me, but for his wife and son. So I try not to think about it....

My New Book

I'm still plugging away on the poncho. And reading a new book. Some ladies in our neighborhood are starting a book club for parenting books and this is our first one. I am about 20 pages in and so far it is intriguing and I think will be helpful. It was a rough parenting morning. I was told that my daughter hated me and I was ruining her life because I got her up early to do the chores and homework she didn't do yesterday. Pretty stellar start to the day. Ah, the joys of parenting...

Works in Progress

I cast on this amazing Crazy Zauberball for my trip. I am knitting some vanilla latte socks. Zauberball is my favorite sock yarn. Just such fun colors and really comfortable to knit with. I visited a new local yarn shop, Wool Cabin,  in January. They had their socks yarns on sale for 20% off for the month. I went specifically to get a zauberball with my Christmas money. But I walk in and, of course, went straight to the sale table to check it out. I saw this purple/orange yarn and carried it around with me for awhile. It didn't have any information on it except the price. I asked the owner about it, who said that it was shipped to her just like that. She had no idea what it was made of, how many yards, etc. I decided to stick with my original plan and put it back. When I was purchasing the zauberball she gave me the purple/orange yarn for FREE! Isn't that so generous! She said she wasn't really able to sell it because of the lack of a tag and I should just go for it and see what I can make. I am not sure yet what it wants to be. I'll knit up a swatch and see. But with that type of kindness I will definitely be shopping there again!

So I finished two projects last week and cast on two this week (I'll show you the other one next week), keeping me at 9 WIPs. My new years goal wasn't to not have any WIP, it was to not have the SAME ones at the beginning of 2015 as at the end of 2015! :) When I finish my next project, I want to cast on a pi shawl from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitters Almanac. I bought this book for $5 from walmart, shipped to the store for free. I was pretty excited about that find. And I'm already to cast on... as soon as I finish something...

Joining with  Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Are Ponchos Totally Out of Style?!?

 Pattern: Very Harlot Poncho
Project Bag Pattern: Knitmore Girls modifications

Thank you for the kind words concerning my dear friend that passed away. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers. This weekend will be emotionally as I head to California to celebrate his life with friends and family.

If you follow me on instagram you know that I have a few finished projects but first I will show you one of the WIPs I am planning to finish this year. My Harlot Poncho. I love this yarn but was concerned about whether I would like wearing a poncho, especially with such a loose gauge. So I put it on scrap yarn so I could try it on and I do really love it, so I am plugging away at the stockinette. It is a lot of stockinette... I am almost done though and need to decide if I will finish it with a few rows of garter stitch to match the top or with a simple lace border. No fringe for me. I may put in a life line and do the lace pattern and see if I like it. Then I can rip back and put in a garter stitch border easily if I don't.

I LOVE this project bag. My sewing machine makes these amazing embroidery stitches and it makes me happy every time I use it! I made one for me and one for my mother for her birthday. It was pretty simple and I plan to make more.

I saw Ruth's Journey at the library and had to read it. I love Gone with the Wind. This is, of course, not as good as that, but still interesting to read about the beginning of the lives of the characters in that classic. I felt like this author tied it all nicely in with Mitchell's story. It is a pretty simple and quick read.

 And on to my finished objects! The fox mitts were a pain but are so stinking adorable. My daughter LOVES them. The foxes were all done in duplicate stitching this time and that is not so much fun. But totally worth the results.


And I finished my Kai Mei socks with Candy Skeins yarn in the bombpop colorway. Once I got going on that lace pattern I really liked it. It was pretty simple and fast. I could see myself knitting this pattern again in a solid color but probably wouldn't do all that ribbing....

And I finished spinning all my alpaca singles. A very productive week....

Joining with  Ginny, Nicole, and Andrea

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Word of the Year: Compassion

Well, I had intentions of writing my New Year's post long before the last week of January, but life happened. Some bloggers write through the challenges of life. But I find that when life gets stressful it feels better to take a short break from blogging. My little family of 6 came down with the flu. It seemed like for about 10 days straight someone in the family was truly sick and everyone else was either coming down with or getting over it. It was pretty all consuming but everyone is healthy again.

Sadly in the middle of this my dear friend passed away. We have known each other since high school and he married another good friend I've known since grade school. They have an adorable red headed one year old son (I'm partial to ginger babies). He has been battling colon cancer for a year and when I visited them in October before my cruise he thought the cancer was beaten. But it sadly came back and took his life 2 weeks ago.

His death has really rocked me. It is hard to understand why a 36 year old father of a one year old needed to be called Home. I am trying to trust in God's plan for this little family. But I am grieving the lose of a friend for myself and also the lose of a husband and father for my dear friend. I have shed so many tears for her! The one positive is that I will be returning to California next week for his memorial service along with ten friends from high school. Along with his wife, we've all played soccer together since junior high. It has been a very long time since we've been together so the weekend will be full of joy and sadness.

On a happier note, I finished this cute handspun hat pictured at the top over Christmas break. I cast it on on Christmas Eve, since all my Christmas knits were finished! It is my navajo plied mystery handspun from Alaska this summer. It is very thick and knit incredibly fast, like 2 days. I love how it turned out. I wish I had made it a tad longer, but not enough to rip it back. It fits great with my hair down but a little less so with my hair up. The brown is a Plymouth Encore chunky tweed yarn. 

As far as New Years goes I have chose a new word of the year. Compassion. My scripture this year is:

"And of some have compassion, making a difference."  -Jude 1:22

I feel like compassion, love, and unselfishness are all things that I am struggling with concerning my walk with Christ. In last year's post, I shared that I was focusing on mindfulness -- trying to enjoy the moment, being still and knowing God is in control and I need not fear or worry. I feel like I spent a lot of time reading my scriptures, praying, and worshiping in our temples. And now I see that I need to put that spirituality into practice by loving others. As I prayed about what my word should be I debated between those three, compassion, love, and unselfishness, and felt that learning to show better compassion to others will encompass the other two. So I am going to focus on seeing the needs and suffering around me (especially my own children!) AND making an effort to alleviate the suffering.

(Alpaca roving from Blue Moon Ranch on my new chopstick spindle 
with a Filipino coin whorl the husband made me for Christmas!)

Aside from that personal focus, I have a few knitting related goals. I am thrilled with the patterns I was able to publish this past year. Especially that I followed through with my previous goal of  submitting pattern ideas to magazines and companies, which provided me with yarn support for my Contrary Cabled Cowl (Thank you Dyeabolical yarns!) But this year, with my new job as business manager at The White Coat Investor I am not planning on publishing much. That job requires that I spend a lot of time at the computer so I don't want to spend even more time writing patterns. I feel like my children already think I neglect them for the computer. Which also means I will be posting on the blog, hopefully, just once a week on Tuesdays or Wednesday. I am cutting back on social media but instagram is my favorite so I post pretty regularly there, let me know your instagram user name so I can follow you.

My fiber goals for 2015 are:

Spin 15 minutes per day. I am participating in  #spin15in15 on Instagram and the #spin365 group in Ravelry. To check out my daily progress follow me on Instagram. I want to spin fingerweight yarn this year that I can knit into socks. So far all my handspun is pretty chunky.

I am going to finish or frog my 9 current works in progress. These mitts are one of them (Malabrigo worsted yarn). They are for the fox hat owner, I just need to duplicate stitch little foxes on the back of the hands. I am also going to finish or frog a work in progress before casting on a new project, EVERY TIME. This has been REALLY hard so far this month.  I have wanted to cast on three different projects but I am dutifully knitting away on current ones. 

And lastly I am going to knit ONE sock a month. January was a little of a gimmy because my Kai Mei WIP socks were already on to the foot part. The yarn is Candy Skeins, bombpop. Probably not the best yarn and pattern match up but I cast them on long ago....and I am now almost done with February's sock too....

So that is it. That's what I am hoping to accomplish in 2015. Rump is a fantastic book I read with my daughters for the county library mom/daughter book club this month. I mean it has spinning and knitting in it. How could it not be amazing!?! :)

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Showing off my Christmas Knits

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

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

Yarn: Dyeabolical Aran Singles Yarn, King of the Pond

I finished three knitted gifts for Christmas but I didn't get a chance to share those last Wednesdays because we had family in town and we were off having a grand time in the snow. I am very excited that I finished my husband's socks. With size 11 feet that is no small feat. I swear that after thought heels are a lot faster than heel flaps now and I think I am convert. Joel noticed right away that these socks were constructed differently than the normal pairs I knit him but he said that they fit even better. I used Laura's after thought heel pattern but just added an extra row or two before the decreases. I can't wait to cast on a pair for me and see how I like wearing this heel. 

Maeve loved her fox hat. I knew she would. She has worn it to school and almost every day since Christmas. This is the child who thinks I should give up knitting because it takes too much time away from her. But she actually said after Christmas that this was the one time she was glad that I knit! I am working on some matching mitts for her now. 

And I knit my Contrary Cable Cowl for my oldest daughter for Christmas so after I finished the pattern I stashed it away in the Christmas box. I chose this color when asking for yarn support specifically for her. It looks great with her red hair. She is excited about it and has already worn it skiing. This last ski trip reminded me that I need to knit one for me! And check out my sweet mom knitting in the background of that photo! She finished this pretty pink twirly scarf while she was visiting. She use to knit before I was born but picked it back up since I became obsessed with knitting. It is fun. 

I want to share some New Years goals and my Word of the Year with you but since I missed the Christmas gift posting last week, I will save the New Year's post for next week.

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! With school ending and our schedules slowing down the Christmas spirit has come into my heart. Yay! Happiest of Christmases to you. May this Christmas bring peace and joy into your heart as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

One heel to go on the Christmas socks... a Christmas miracle!

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