Cross-eyed Knitting in the Dark

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Last weekend, I started a new project:  the On The Road shawl by Janina Kallio.  I’m in a bit of a money crunch again lately so I needed to find yarn from my existing stash that would work for this pattern.  I decided on this:

Etsy 001

I picked Madelintosh Tosh Merino Light in the colorways Norway Spruce (bottom) and Composition Book Gray (top).  The shawl is primarily knit in garter stitch, so I’m whizzing right along with it and as of now, the shawl is about half-way complete.   I can’t wait to see it blocked.

Last weekend was a fairly busy one, and I got a lot done.  I had a work-related event Friday evening, and then Saturday I did more job-related work at home.  I got yard work done, and shopping, and I started my new shawl.  Sunday, I went to see my mom for Mother’s Day, and spent most of the day visiting with her and my sister and nephew.  I brought the shawl along since I knew I would have down-time there.  As the evening approached, a storm was moving in, and I headed home, trying to stay ahead of it.

I had some new cargo on the way back:  an old cedar blanket chest that I purchased at a local resale shop for $20.

Etsy 001a

Etsy 007

I’ve been searching for an old cedar chest for around two years now.  I have mentioned before that I enjoy knitting-related antiques and vintage items, and I have been hoping to find a cedar chest that I could use for storage of my wool yarn and woolen knits.  Natural cedar repels moths, and it smells wonderful.

I have seen a few old chests over the last year or so, but none of them really spoke to me, or were exactly what I had pictured in my mind.  About three months ago, I stopped at this resale shop in town to find a small curio cabinet, and as I made my way to the back of the shop, I noticed this chest.  It was in pieces, but I realized that it was cedar, and it had the rustic, simple appearance that I was looking for. 

I talked the proprietor down from $24 to $20 and took it to my parent’s house, where it has been since then, so that my dad could repair the lid which was missing some wood.  My plan now is to refinish it for use in my home.  As you can see, the outside is a little rough-looking, with scratches and white paint spatter, but the inside is just lovely!  I so prefer the look of natural wood.

Etsy 001b

So I finally brought the chest home last weekend, and the storm rolled in about 30 minutes after I got the chest in the house.  I was looking forward to my evening, and to unwinding for a few hours in preparation for the work week.  I hoped to get my laundry done, and do a bit more knitting.

I had just started the first laundry load when the brunt of the storm hit and knocked the power out.  I had to take the dogs and relocate to the basement in the dark to the sound of tornado sirens outside.  The storm was intense, and it flooded my street.  As I sat on the floor of an interior room of my basement, I realized that water was seeping in along a crack in the wall.  So much for a relaxing evening!

Wet dogs wearing rain coats.

Wet dogs wearing rain coats.

After a few trips out into the pouring rain to address the cause of the seepage issue, and three phone conversations with a dismissive power company representative, I finally decided that my evening was toast.  The house was hot and humid since I couldn’t run the AC without electricity, I was going to have no clean laundry for the next day at work, and the realization of these things was making me increasingly irritable. 

In an attempt to save some part of my evening, I decided to try to knit by lantern light.  I really wanted to get through a few more rows of my shawl, and since I couldn’t work or do laundry without power, trying would at least make me feel like the night was not a total loss. 

The LEDs in the emergency lantern were making my eyes strain as I tried to see my stitches, so I tried to add candle light, which didn’t really help.  Then I tried to employ the use of a strategically placed book light.  I spent three hours knitting, nearly cross-eyed, in the dark.  It made me realize that I need to be better prepared for events like this.  The power was out for five hours.

At work on Tuesday, I decided to check out the Internet for a weather radio and some high power emergency lighting.  In my search, I actually found a store called the Weather Radio Store!  They sell only weather radios and emergency preparedness supplies.  I found this fascinating.  I made an order for some essentials, but I think it would really take a head-lamp (which the store also happens to offer) to knit in the dark without going blind.

I’m hoping to have a more relaxing weekend this time around.  I’m picturing knitting by visible light while wearing freshly laundered clothes above a dry basement.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Have a great weekend and happy knitting! 

It’s In the Mail

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As I pulled into my driveway today after returning from work, I noticed this peeking out of my mailbox on the porch:

Silver Package

It’s my very last installment of wonderful yarn from the Knit Love Sock Club 2012.  I’m sad that there will be no more surprise yarn showing up at my door, but I was excited to see my silver package.  When I opened it, I was even more delighted to see that it included a bonus skein of yarn in this delivery, and it is spectacular!

I am supposed to wait at least a month after the yarn is sent out before posting about it so as not to spoil the surprise for anyone who might be reading this blog who is still awaiting their yarn, but this yarn is so sweet, I just can’t wait to show it off!  I think it’s my favorite yarn from the sock club this year:

Yarn!!!

The purple skein is called Sugar Plum Fairy, and it is merino wool sock yarn.  The green/blue skein is the bonus yarn – a cashmere blend – called Spruced Up.  Both are just in time for the holidays!  They even look pretty together, don’t they?

Sadly, there will be no Knit Love Sock Club for 2013 due to some major life changes going on for the business owners involved.  I didn’t actually knit any of the patterns that I got as a club member this year since my time was committed to Camp Loopy and some other knitting exploits, but there are several patterns on the list that I fully intend to knit up, likely after the first of the year once the holidays are over.  I’ll be all set with amazing yarn and patterns for the winter!

I SO love this cashmere yarn that I expect it will be on my needles soon.  I would love for it to be mittens.  My winter mittens are looking pretty raggedy.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Rayures Cowl

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Rayures Cowl 1

I finally got a few shots of my completed Rayures Cowl.  It was done in Plucky Knitter Primo yarn (merino and cashmere) in fingering weight on size 5 Addi Turbo Lace circular needles.  I used five colors, as you can see, and they are detailed on my Ravelry page.  I really love how it turned out, both in how it looks, and in how functional it is.

In the photo above, it is shown worn doubled-up on Frenchie, my new dress form/mannequin.  I’m so excited to finally have a dress form model!!!  I have been shopping around for the right one for easily 8 months now.  I picked up Frenchie this afternoon and she is already earning her keep.

Here is the cowl worn like a scarf, without doubling it over the neck:

Rayures Cowl 2

It is so soft and cozy.

The pattern can be found by clicking HERE.

~Happy knitting!

Focus!

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I’m having a bit of a hard time getting my focus back.  Now that all of the summer challenges and fairs are over, I am falling back into my old ways of project hopping.  I just don’t feel like finishing anything, and I have a million ideas for new projects that I want to start.

Erg.  I’m not sure if I hate this or love this about myself. 

I could have easily finished my Rayures Cowl in last few weeks.  It is only rows and some grafting (and some blocking) away from being complete.  An extra incentive on that one is that I could be wearing it in this chilly fall weather we are enjoying.  But alas…

Here is what I picked up on a whim last weekend, and a little bit again this weekend:

It’s my second, adjusted pair of Chivalry Mitts. 

Last weekend, I finished the first one, and now I am half way through mitt #2.

It would make perfect sense then to spend my knitting time this weekend finishing the second mitt, since again, I am knitting these with plans to wear them for driving.

Instead, I started this:

It’s another cotton dish towel from the Leftovers Towel Pattern.  I made one last spring using KnitPicks cotton Dishie yarn (see the towel HERE) and it turned out to be my favorite and most useful one.  I knit a little loop on one corner so that I could hang it from my pantry door in the kitchen, where I often need a towel.

I’m making this one from Peaches N’ Cream Cotton Stripes yarn that I bought last summer at good ol’ Walmart.  There is a remote possibility that I will finish it this weekend.

I shouldn’t even mention the fact that I have yet another incomplete towel — this one about one-quarter of the way done — that has been sitting on top of my printer in my home-office since last spring…

Project schizophrenia strikes again.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Woodland Turtle Cowl

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About a week ago, I finished my Woodland Turtle Cowl.  It has been blocking ever since.  I have been impatiently waiting to post some photos, but it took over 5 days for the cowl to fully dry after I pinned it out on blocking mats.

The pattern is a design by Meg Myers and can be found on Ravelry HERE.  I knit mine using The Plucky Knitter 50/50 silk and merino wool blend yarn in the colorway Skimming Stones.  The yarn is a light, worsted weight, and I only had 230 yards of it, so I had to knit an abbreviated version of the cowl.  I used Addi Turbo Lace 16 inch circular needles  in sizes 5 and 7.

I am quite happy with how it turned out, and I wore it for the first time today to our knitting group and a local fair.  I am hoping to knit another once I decide on some yarn.

~Happy knitting!

Drama Drama

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Woooh lawdy!  There is drama around here lately.  Luckily for me, something about this time of year helps me to keep my peace.  I just lit every apple-cinnamon and pumpkin spice candle that I own, and I’m getting ready to work on one of my latest knitting projects.

I am taking a teenie break from my dream cowl to knit another, smaller cowl from this Plucky Knitter silk/wool blend in the colorway Skimming Stones that I purchased from someone’s destash page on Ravelry:

I’m knitting the Woodland Turtle Cowl.  I love the ribbed, turtle neck component of it.  I am through that part, and about 3 pattern repeats into the lace section.  I’m really hoping it turns out the way I envision it, because I would like to be able to wear it.  I can already tell I won’t have enough yarn to complete the entire pattern as written, but I will just keep repeating lace rows for as long as I have yarn to work with.

I could have been done with the thing this evening, but so much family drama is invading my weekend that I finally had to draw the line and cut two different phone conversations short in last three hours.  Boundaries, people!  Boundaries (as my therapist used to say…) are essential to keeping people from getting ‘all up in your peace’ (as a favorite ex-boyfriend used to say…).

Speaking of knitting on through times of crisis (see my last post), my work day tomorrow will be cut short by my appointment with an endodontic specialist.  I’m not entirely sure what all will be involved with that, other than the fact that there will be root canals.  Yay me!  It distresses me a bit that I will likely not be able to knit through the root canals.  I will find some other means of coping.  Xanax comes to mind…

In other news, my birthday was last Thursday, and I attended one of those 31 parties where a rep and a hostess (my friend Mindy) sell products from the line which include various personalized bags and organizers.  It was so much fun, and I was glad I got to have some fun with people I like on my birthday.  Mindy’s sister brought her dog along and Squeak and I hung out for much of the evening. 

There were all sorts of fall-style goodies like pumpkin flavored coffee and desserts.  I did a bit of Christmas shopping, but I also bought myself a personalized (it will say Always knitting) utility tote (this one) that will make a GREAT addition to my knitting bag collection.  I’m so excited to get it!  More fun things to look forward to!

The fall weather has been so chilly that I have already sported my fluffy, wool, bed socks, a hat, some mittens and my Breath of Fresh Air Scarf at various times in the past week.  Yes!  I just love using my hand knits.

Back to laundry and cowl knitting for me. 

~Happy knitting!

FO: Fluffy Bed Socks

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Last weekend, I knit these socks.  I have so many ideas in my head lately, for so many projects that I would like to knit, that I often lay in bed at night and think “I wish could be knitting __(fill in random project idea here)__”. 

Friday night, I decided that I really wanted to use up some of the yarn that I bought last year from Freshisle Fibers, so I knit these worsted weight, cozy, Suffolk wool socks.

This lightly processed wool from Suffolk sheep is naturally machine wash and dryable.  It gets loftier and softer with every washing.  The yarn is processed without chemicals, and it still contains some lanolin along with bits of straw and organic material.

I thought it would make a nice, cozy, hard-wearing pair of bed socks for this winter.

I knit these on size 4 bamboo DPNs, following a modified version of the Watermelon Vines Socks pattern that is meant for Freshisle Fibers self striping watermelon yarn in the same weight.  It has cute lacy details that work well with the fluffiness of the yarn.

The pattern was a new adventure for me since the entire sock construction was different from any sock pattern that I have knit before.  This pattern called for knitting the sock in a tubular fashion, all of the way to the toe, which is then decreased and grafted with kitchener stitch.  As you knit past the area where the heel should be, you actually knit onto some waste yarn (shown here in red), and then keep on moving.

Once the toe is grafted, you remove the waste yarn at the location of the heel to liberate the live stitches.  A heel is then knit in and again grafted closed with kitchener stitch.

Kind of interesting.  I have never knit socks without short row heels, and I have to say that I like the result of the short row heel much better than this method.  A sock with this construction really benefits from a good blocking to enforce a nice sock shape.  Here it is on the blocker.

You can see how the heels work out with this construction.  After blocking, I ran the socks through the washer and the dryer once to make them even fluffier, and to remove some of the lanolin and straw that remained in the wool.  The socks are cozy, and should work great this winter.   

I like them so much that I plan to knit another pair in the same wool but this time with a more conventional sock construction.   Nothing but toasty toes for me!

~Happy knitting!

Super-stitch-ous

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I am SO looking forward to the upcoming long weekend!  I will have some work to do since we are beginning a new term next Tuesday at the college, but even so, the extra day will be well appreciated.

The last two weeks have been busy, and even though I managed to stop all caffeine intake for health reasons, I had to break down on Monday evening and start up again for fear that I would never be able to complete everything that I need to get done this week.  Sigh.  On the bright side, I did notice that it seemed to remedy a slightly grumpy attitude that I had been suffering from, though.  It’s funny how that works.

I have managed to keep knitting in the midst of it all, which really improves my stress levels.  I started a new project this past Saturday with this:

Here it is all wound up:

I will post project details soon!

In honor of my upcoming birthday, I also recently acquired this:

It is sort of becoming a new little, private tradition for me that I add a new pair of antique sock blockers/stretchers to my collection each birthday.  I am over-the-moon excited about this set because they appear to be really old.  I mean REALLY old.  I still have yet to find a good resource on the history of these things, but this pair does not appear similar to those that I own that were used in early factories.  I have not seen any resembling the form of this set before, which was part of what excited me about them.  Maybe they belonged to some past household.

The seller told me that he acquired them from an estate sale, and that the estate owner’s son told him that the blockers were in the family for as long as he remembered being alive. 

I don’t tend to be superstitious, but I have to say that these blockers feel like there is a presence about them, and I have had the thought on a few occasions since I purchased them that they are good luck.  I can’t explain it any more than that, but there it is. 

So I’m rather fond of them, even though they smell like a crawl space.

In a previous post, I mentioned that our knitting group hung out again this past Sunday at the Grindhouse Cafe.  It was a super time, and we had our best turn-out yet, with me and Chris H (the regulars) as well as two more group members, and my new friend Lois who I met on the Allegan Fiber Festival trip.  She brought me a pattern that she knew I had been wanting, which was so extremely nice of her, and I was happy to be knitting with her again. 

Lois has been on a baby sweater kick, and she was working on a navy blue one on Sunday.  Chris H, who loves to crochet, was whipping out these sock monkey cup cozies:

She makes them with wool so that they insulate the drink and wick up any condensation that forms on the cup.  She was nice enough to let me take a photo for the blog so that you all can see how cute they are too.

This evening, I just finished grading a stack of laboratory reports, and now I plan to go eat some dinner and do some pre-slumber knitting.  Tomorrow is the last day of the term at work, and Friday will be taken up with faculty meetings and some continuing education (and some knitting if I’m not too exhausted).

Have a great night, and happy knitting!

FO: Ruby Red Heart Hat

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I’ve been a busy little knitter lately.  Not only did I finish my Cladonia Shawl two weeks ago, I also finished a hat.  I mentioned this hat in my previous Stitch Red post.  I fell in love with the pattern and the yarn (and the cause!) while I was shopping the vendor hall at Stitches Midwest a few weeks ago.

The pattern is the Ruby Red Heart Hat by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich.  I knit it with the intended yarn, which is Classic Elite Magnolia, a wool and silk blend in the Ruby colorway.  Trust me when I tell you that it is heavenly.  I used size 5 DPNs  and 16″ circular needles for the ribbed band and the decrease rounds.  I used size 7 DPNs for the main lace pattern of the hat.   The pattern requires approximately 1 and another 1/4 ball of Magnolia yarn.

After the pattern is knit, it looks like a stocking hat.

Then you soak it carefully in order to block it into shape:

Meanwhile, you find yourself an 11 inch dinner plate which will work perfectly for blocking the hat.

The hat slips over the dinner plate like so.

The hat is allowed to dry over the plate.  This will shape the hat into the intended ‘slouch’ style.

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A view of the back of the hat:

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~Happy knitting!

FO: Cladonia Shawl (Camp Loopy Project 3)

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As mentioned in previous posts, I finished my Cladonia Shawl on August 19th, but I haven’t been able to post it as an official finished object since it has been a rather busy shawl, on display at the Will County Fair for the last 5 days.  I have been waiting for a chance to get some decent photos of it, and even though the sun was already going down this evening, I decided to give it a shot.

Here is a blocking photo (with the shawl stretched and pinned out to open up the lace), the night before the fair:

I knit this shawl from 3 skeins of Madelintosh Tosh Sport:  2 in the colorway Sequioa and 1 in the colorway Twig.  It was knit on size 8 Addi Turbo Lace 32″ circular needles.  The pattern is Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur. 

This shawl was the Best Of Show winner in the hand knitting division this summer at the Will County Fair.  It is also my final project for this summer’s Camp Loopy (project 3).

I love it because it is soft and warm and the colors work well together.  I already have plans to make another one.

 

You can double-click any of the photos for a closer look.

~Happy Knitting!

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