There is knitting, too, I promise….

Allow me to pour us a beverage and explain. I’m having wine, what will you have?

After my nap, I sewed and then sewed some more, then I ripped out some stitches of misplaced hexies, and went back to sewing them in the right place…darned hexies. I was also sent home disgustingly early on Christmas Eve which left my bank account weeping a bit more than expected this year. The snow arrived early this year, which is better than late, when you are not driving home in it too early on Friday night as well….Alas, let’s get back to the sewing I went right back to with the extra time I now had on my hands. I still had tweaks to sew, hexies to place and part of a border to attach….as well as a letter to type and print which would be delivered explaining the quilt top.

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Jamie…wondering what he might do with a planetarium (it’s science, he’ll be fine…).

Where’s the super-secret quilt top? What a great question, I’ll get right on that. About 4AM Christmas morning, I put the quilt top in a huge box with some batting choices, the letter and a small, wrapped package of chocolate and popcorn. The child shouldn’t walk away empty handed,after all. As my dear niece, Jessica, worked to undo all my pretty 4AM wrapping, she guessed there was a dress in the box. Unless it was a ball gown replica (one I’d shown her back in October), it wouldn’t have needed such a large box. It was a good guess on her part, and perhaps success on my part. (I have sewn her dresses before, mostly when she was younger). Once she got the box opened and began to lift the quilt out, I had my sister in law step in and assist with the unveiling and handed Jessica my camera. Forgive the photo, I often forget to direct when I’m not behind the camera. Besides, most of my subjects are cats, dogs, and yarn…they have ears only for food, and the yarn, doesn’t listen at all, much like the cats.

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The reveal….there’s more to go….but here’s what I’ve been working on forever….or the last three years…if that isn’t loving someone more, I don’t know what is;-).

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That being said, the quilt top is still a wee bit unfinished and my dear Dad was the first to point out the holes left in the quilt top. (I wanted to shout, “You should have seen them yesterday!” I didn’t, I was good.) He suggested the holes were arm-holes…you see them…clever, but not quite. I’m quite aware I have more work to do. But once it was unveiled, and I returned to work Monday to double my normal hours this week, including an extra Tuesday, I decided it was now okay to take a slight break from the quilt top. Besides, there is still more to update.

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Said quilt top…Spindly legs, and all…spindly term courtesy of Jessica…

I also presented the cable socks to Lizzie(the younger niece), that I’d been working on for much of fall semester. I promised feet photos and forgot them. I’m torn between you have to wait until my pair is done or I’ll have her pose her feet next time…then we have to figure out the best way to photograph someone else’s feet….

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Future footwork…(it’s not as if I have three or more of these irons in the fire;-))…

I also meant to unveil mittens to my dad. They did not get finished, not even the first one. Hence why I was on the naughty bench all week, in addition to the quilt top–’When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.” –Mae West.

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Where the mitts are this week….(they didn’t fit…). I’m glad I got the “alternate” gift…perhaps one day, I or Lizzie will love them;-)….

Luckily, I’d received a generous surprise gift card and snuck off the the J-store (Jo-Ann Fabrics) to purchase some last minute gifts….(yes, I know better). While dear James’ journal came in before the big day, he still appreciated the simple hard-cover journal of a similar size I procured for him which may travel better.

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The journals….his is much better–the leather one on the right, but mine travels easier….

Then I presented my dad with his “alternative” gift, a simple Star Wars calendar. I proceeded to test his reaction to the wool I was using by thrusting the entire skein into his hand. If it made him itch, I’d have a positive and he could wash the itch off quickly. I showed him the right mitt and had him try it on. Turns out, it’s better suited for my hand than his, which I feared. He was not fully aware of the mittens, so this gift was not an entire bust, thankfully. I might be able to get off the naughty bench for this year. I’ll be sure to join you ladies (and perhaps some gentlemen) right back there next year!

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Bubble gum filled Naughty socks….the Nice sock was hidden in the bottom of the snowman….

Now that the big reveals are done and my nephew enjoyed his bubblegum filled socks… presented naughty one first (because the kids really are a chip off the old aunt block….don’t tell them I admitted to anything near old, but the block is old!), I’ve considered reflecting on the past year, but with all the deaths of legends, whether the returned home as the K theory in Men In Black suggests or they are simply gone, we’re begging for a kindler, gentler 2017, and thinking of sending 2016 off with a big bang…or one heck of a salute. It won’t matter to me, unless the big bang is in the gaming hell where I will hopefully be dealing a Carnival game rather than Black Jack.

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My happy break from work(except when I’m talking knitting with a Georgian(U.S.) knitter working on a Detroit Lions cowl before a tournament she attends once a year;-). (Squee moment from work).

Enough about work…there’s a reason Londoners, or Englishmen, in historical novels call it a gaming hell, and I’m not really done being naughty, and therefore am absolutely not prepared for reflection…February will be cold enough for that…. Plus, I’ve picked up some “shelved” projects and had others thrust upon me or requested.

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The other side of the socks….I still love this color.

Dear James had to fill my stocking after all, and when he got home from his last minute traditional shopping trip to my local yarn store, he reminded me that I’m expensive and told me he got me a new project…well, the yarn for it anyways….

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Dear James told me I didn’t have a matching scarf, hat and mittens…half acrylic…Now I’m left searching for a matching pattern….any suggestions?

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Reveal of the second sock for the kid willing to wear my Naughty or Nice stocking hat…;-)

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Must Knit Faster

December 1, 2016

The third of four socks is done, but I chose not to cast on the fourth sock. I think I will take a break from the purple for two reasons…1) I wish for a simpler pattern and 2) I need to get a gift done. I should be careful about this, as it is a Christmas gift, but I don’t have to say who the recipient is and I’m not sure they’ll guess…I hope.

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Zeus, snuggling me while I knit…

Stop me now ladies and gentlemen…we all know these are famous last words. But They’ll still be a mystery while I’m knitting them up and I likely won’t photograph them completed until both are done…P.S. I’m still not sure I can get them done in time. We’ll find out.

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Side project…I finished half a repeat and have begun the increase for the gusset.

I cast them on last week once I cast off the purple socks. I’m wishing I’d left them on the size 2 needles, but then I’d be casting on another sock before Christmas. Time does not allow. In fact…I need this gift to be done before Christmas. Hint it’s not socks; still it is knit in the round. I’ve got another inch to go on this first knit 2, purl 2 rib…I want it done. I also have to get a good amount of sewing in.

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Shh…the sewing I was talking about…yes, it’s bright.

In addition, I’m still writing another paper this weekend and revising one, perhaps two. The second revision will depend on a Monday afternoon meeting. In the meantime, wish me speedy luck with recycled denim on aluminum needles. I’m really wondering if I would be further ahead to cut this off and re-cast on the size 2 needles. Oh, the conundrums.

Early Halloween Activities

October 21, 2016

This week, I actually accomplished a good amount of knitting, but I also worked in some Halloween activity with my little as well. We went to a haunted house that is not at scary…Not at all. I’m not scared, repeated the 8-11 year old boy who just isn’t scared by the haunted house. (I didn’t get his name).  That is, until the guide sneaks behind a panel as you’re going on about not being scared, and jumps out at you unexpectedly. The effect: “I almost peed my pants.” Made my Tuesday night, especially since I’m a helper, and I’ve taught, and I realize what it takes to keep a big group of kids happy for more than five minutes, even when they’re all supposed to be working on something (but you have limited supplies)…like inflatable ghost balloons and decorating pumpkins, abstractly.

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My second favorite part of the socks…the periscope look. My favorite part is sewing up the toe (Nevermind, it’s wearing them–but these are for a gift.)

I don’t think I got a single photo of the ghost balloon, but you’re welcome to click the link above. If you’d rather jump in both feet first, don’t say I didn’t warn ya;-). You take a water bottle, cap off and pour in one-half cup of vinegar. Then you take a funnel, cap the bottom with the white balloon, and fill the balloon with one tablespoon of baking soda….Oh, oh, oh…you draw a ghost face on the balloon first…with a sharpie of some sort (preferably not the smelly one we used). So, now that you have a ghost face balloon with baking soda added, and a water bottle of vinegar, you are almost there….Most of you can likely see where this is going, right? Oh, you didn’t do this as a kid? Drat…well, stick with me, it gets more fun. Now, you take your parts, and slowly put them together…first you put just the band of the balloon(the end you tie), on the water bottle lip/edge/mouth(whatever you wish to call it today). Then you pinch the area you will tie off. Next, you slowly let the baking soda fall into the vinegar and watch your balloon inflate.

Where was this idea when we were huffing our lungs out blowing up balloons for birthday parties? My mother refused to pay for helium, even when it became semi-affordable. Alas, there was knitting, I promise. However, I have to make an extra trip to get photos…drat. There was also applique, and I might be able to get photos here…pending the camera….

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See, it looks like a cross between a periscope and an alien face!

In the meantime, I need to check dinner–chicken parmigiana, made lighter (I think–though its mostly the way I’ve always made it…perhaps I just bake more), and get some progress shots of the socks…

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My latest applique Quilt…It will pop soon, I promise…Not that I want it to literally pop…but…

The socks are coming along well…I’m starting to get excited (at least for the purple ones)…for the pink ones, I’m not quite ambivalent, but I’m cautiously excited, so perhaps I am. I’m ambivalent in that I love seeing and quantifying progress…but as I get closer to the heel, I realize I’m going to have to do four cable row repeats instead of two with two knit repeats….Have I lost ya, yet?

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The toe-up Terpander socks….the other side is simply knit right now…though I get to start bringing the cables in Sunday(I’m not likely touching these before Sunday).

Allow me to explain. I’m working from the toe up, and the foot is generally easier to knit as the bottom is knit only. This pattern, when it gets to the ankle and leg is a cable all the way around creating an eight stitch rib on each side. The rib is the easiest part of this pattern. There may come a time when these socks become solely holiday socks, so I can focus entirely on the cable patterns. They get a little intense. But in the meantime, I shall enjoy the knitting of the feet.

 

The knit beginning

February 1, 2013

As a child of 8 or 9 years old, I watched the women of my family crochet. Sometimes, my aunt Maryal still makes me crocheted wash clothes for gifts when I mention how much I enjoy them. My mother would sometimes attempt to crochet, but she only had one go-to stitch and the yarn and the project would often disappear before she finished it. I don’t know what happened to it. I never saw a finished project, but every once in a while the yarn or new yarn came out, and she tried another project.

I was fascinated by the art of crochet and demanded to be taught. I learned how to chain and could create long beautiful chains that we could laugh at as we strung them around the Christmas tree. When I attempted the “double crochet” stitch which I later learned was a “half-double crochet” stitch, my tension became too tight and I could no longer fit the hook into it. Frustrated, I would rip out the stitches and either start over, or call it another chain. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, these were my first lessons in tension. Unfortunately for me, no one I knew of that crocheted nearby knew how to fix this. I would create chains and leave it at that, for that time.

When I was 10, we had moved from the quiet, small town of Haslett, Michigan to a rough area of Lansing, Michigan. We had found a suitable duplex that was a major improvement over some of our interment dwellings. We had a neighbor who tolerated three rambunctious kids ages 10 and under pretty well. She had adopted a collie, husky, malamute, shepherd mix she’d named Bozo. I’d visit them (and was more tolerated due to being a relatively quiet girl). Plus, I showed an interest in her knitting. She told me about it and began to teach me, but moved within a month of beginning my education in knitting and we got the dog, but I did not pick up knitting at that time. We renamed the dog Bear, and I was soon lost to Bon Jovi and boys.

I went through my teen years knit-less, and occasionally crocheted a border chain for our 12 x 14′ living room. My parents were no longer impressed by this feat, nor amused. I gave my attention then to sewing partly due to interest, partly due to a 9 week course in home economics where I found I was a natural with a sewing machine. However, we did not have a sewing machine at home and I didn’t visit the aunt who did once I turned 12. So, I hand-sewed when I could get my hands on fabric to sew. My dad declared me the best button sewer he knew of and refused to pay money to have a button sewn back on, since I’d been taught how “professionally.” However, since I wasn’t big on the recycling theme that’s so prevalent today, getting my hands on fabric was easier dreamed than accomplished. My teen years and college years were spent pursuing college and the money to pay for it.

Once the money for college ran out, I joined the Navy to help pay for it. Out of boredom and due to missing my family before I learned what “underway” really meant, I began sewing again. I had some spare cash and access to fabrics and thread. I began sewing a quilt as a gift for my best friend and I sewed my niece and nephew fleece and flannel blankets for their birthdays. The feeling of the fabric and the simple act of creating calmed me. I even went on to sew dresses to show I could. I made one for my two year old niece and a civil war style work dress for myself. However, this is not a sewing blog, even if I do consider myself an accomplished seamstress.

So, how in the world did I become a knitter if I never learned and sewed for some time. I’m getting to that, I promise. Mostly, I think it was sheer curiosity and book. I’d read about characters knitting as a relaxation. In addition, while searching Goodwill one day, I found a bundle of knitting needles wrapped together in a rubber band for an affordable price. I bought them and proceeded to Jo-ann’s Fabric and Crafts where I found an interesting book called Knit Stitches & Easy Projects. I looked through this inexpensive red & white book and its stitches, liked the photos and the descriptions and decided to buy it. I also found a beautifully soft burgundy yarn, which would make a great scarf. I bought the yarn and the book and went home to begin knitting.

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By this point in my life, it had been suggested that I could have ADHD. I have never had this confirmed, but I’ve never had it confirmed that I didn’t. I thought my symptoms were related to anxiety, which I knew I had. I couldn’t have it. But then I ‘had’ to research it, and learned I did have symtpoms. I decided to apply some suggestions that worked for people with ADHD. One of the problems I had was that I would start 15 new projects of various mediums and I might finish 3 of them.  I reminded myself that finishing could be its own reward, but I had to get over that hump from “the beginning” to “seeing the end of this tunnel.” In addition, I needed a system.

I decided to write each project I was working on a 3×5 card and post it on a card on my fridge.  I also decided to create a rule that I needed to finish a project before I began a new one. Then I decided to be brave and set up some goals including organization and included them on my fridge. I’m still working on the organization. Some days, I’m not sure there are enough shelves in the world. But how are these note cards and organization items related to knitting? I had to learn about me, and how I worked.  I had already been shown the stockinette stitch and held some of it in my memory. I just had to access it. I also realized, if it was too easy, I’d grow bored with the process. So, I needed something that engaged me, like reading a book and you keep reading so you can find out what happens next…. I had to find out what happens next in knitting and I leafed through my booklet to find a pattern and a project with a simple twist that would keep me focused on the item I was creating. Yet, I had to be careful not to overdo it, as I’m good at overdoing it.

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I found a 63 stitch scarf with a pattern that repeated every four rows called “Little Shells.” It was pretty and would make a nice scarf. I got out my burgundy yarn and two matching needles and began to knit according to the pictures. I decided this scarf would be for me as it would likely be full of mistakes, which it was. As I knit, I also discovered that my stitches tended to increase until I remembered to count them and realized my tension was almost non-existent, and all over the place. Even with the scarf’s imperfections, the yarn was beautiful to me and the pattern remained engaging. I completed my first and began another. Since it was too wide for a scarf in the end, I thought about making it into a shawl or part of a small blanket. I then finished a second ‘panel’ as I had begun referring to them and somewhere in there found http://www.knittingparadise.com which led me also to Debbie Macomber’s books-specifically the Cedar Cove and Blossom Street Series.  They still remain two of my favorite series ever, and though I do not re-read many books often, I have read and do recommend Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber to anyone who wishes to read a book of inspiration.

I did continue knitting the little shells pattern with a different yarn, a variegated brown with turquoise I loved, but was later disappointed that it didn’t quite match the burgundy, so the blanket would have to wait.  During this process, I learned about double-pointed needles(dpns) and knitting in the round. I’ll save that for the next blog.