Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Sweater - Just in Time for Summer...

The Husband’s sweater is complete! 

I think he likes it.  He may, however, have had a mild heart attack when he figured out how much the yarn for it cost.  I was working through our financials yesterday when he saw it listed in our expenses.  I should have told him that the labor was a lot more expensive than the yarn. :o)


By the way, that picture on the wall behind him is a photo TH actually took himself at New Orleans' Audubon Zoo when we were there last year.  He got several really good shots that day, but this was a particular favorite so we had it printed on canvas and hung it.  

I found a great shortcut for blocking this thing.  Just so happened that our weather was fabulous over the weekend after I’d finished it and while it normally takes days, sometimes a week, for wet woolens to dry in the house, the Mississippi sun does the job in a fraction of the time.  


Of course, then it took better than a week to get TH to try it on and pose for pictures.  Whatever…

I also finished a baby blanket for a friend who’s expecting, but will keep that under wraps until it’s gifted, and I started a sweet little bit of something for my granddaughter who will be a year old next month.  Time flies.

This past week, I was thrilled to receive my first Jimmy Beans Wool Big Beanie Bag (not a paid endorsement).  I signed up for the neutral palette last month.  


Every knitter loves getting yarn in the mail and this is an affordable way to try out some yarns, make some cool accessories, and feed my yarn craving enough to keep me from buying huge piles of yarn when someone has a sale (a particular weakness of mine).  You get a pattern, yarn to make it, and some other goodies.  

Lisa
xoxo


PS - The cauliflower pizza crust I mentioned last time?  Yeah…not remotely close to the real thing.  O.o  I’ve decided when I need a pizza fix, I’ll eat celery all day until pizza time.  Real pizza is totally worth it.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Various Stages of Incomplete

That’s where my knitting is right now.  Most of it is because I’ve had less time to knit (and less time to blog) due to my commitment to eating healthy and working out that I mentioned in my last couple of posts.  You remember those.  From a couple of MONTHS ago?  Uh…yeah.  Working out takes more time than you'd think.  Somehow my recommended 30 minutes takes me nearly an hour.  After working all day and then coming home to cook and clean up before I even begin to exercise, the night is over before I know it.  

The good news is, I’ve actually lost 8 pounds and am only 2 away from my target weight!  Woot!  I’m fitting back into clothing that I never thought I’d wear again and I’m actually not starving (most days).  Having given up a lot of foods that were not good for me, I’ve come to realize which food I wish had zero calories and was so healthy for me that I could eat it every day.  Can you guess?  Chocolate?  No.  Ice cream?  Nope.  Fried chicken?  Close, but not that either.  The one food I miss the most --> PIZZA.  Not even kidding.  I didn’t even eat pizza that much before, but now that I’m counting calories and carbs, I want it almost more than I want to feed my yarn stash.  So, armed with a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust, I hope to satisfy my craving in a way I don’t have to feel guilty about.  We shall see.

What?  Knitting?  Oh yes, that’s what this blog is about.  Or should I say, it’s about my lack thereof.  

The Husband’s sweater now has one sleeve.  After I quit procrastinating, it was just a matter of figuring out what type of sleeve would look best.  If you remember, I seamed the front and back and decided to knit the sleeves on from the top down because I HATE sewing in sleeves (mostly because I’m terrible at it).  The pattern called for a straight knit set-in sleeve with no sleeve cap shaping.  I thought that might look a little weird, so I decided to start one sleeve using short-row shaping for a sleeve cap to see how it looked.  I found how-to instructions here, and went to work using exactly that method, but I had weirdness around the armhole where I did the short rows.  There were just gaps.  Witness:

It looks...weird. So does the color in this picture.

Thought I must be doing something wrong, as they were worse on one side, so I tinked back and tightened up that side.  No matter - still gaps.    Then I decided I would take a step back from the short row sleeve and start the other sleeve by just picking up stitches and knitting with regular decreases (the in-the-round version of what the pattern called for).  Once I got down to about elbow length on that sleeve, I had TH try it on to see if it was bulky under the arm.  He said it wasn’t and it looked good on him, so I finished the sleeve last night.


"No!  It wasn't me!  It was the one-armed man!"

Totally tubular, man




I used a tubular cast off for the first time.  Hadn’t thought about that when I decided to knit the sleeves top down, but my handy little “Cast On, Bind Off” book got me through it.  So I pulled out the short rows on the other sleeve and started one to match the other.  After that’s done, just the neckline to do and finally something finished.





I still haven’t done any seaming on my little jumper (tunic) that I had to knit twice.  If I’m faced with limited time and a choice between seaming or knitting, I’ll go for knitting every time while my pieces sit in a neat little pile on my dining room table.  

Anything that needs that many stitch markers is evil...
Another unfinished project that is starting to complain really loudly is the Midsummer Aran pattern that I’ve been ignoring for at least a year.  In fact, I had to look back at Ravelry page to see when I actually started this beast.  It was TWO flipping years ago.  Sad thing is, the only part that still needs to be done is the yoke and neckline.  But here’s the thing:  that’s exactly where all of the different lace charts converge to make one big pile of “I can’t figure out which stinking chart I’m supposed to be on”.  Word.  But the beast is getting whiney enough on a shelf in my craft room that I can’t ignore it much longer  Besides, I really would like to wear it someday.  Once I muster the courage to begin again, I’ll just have to figure out where in the heck I left off.

Oh, I forgot, I did manage to finished my made up mosaic pattern socks.  Behold:


The only things I didn’t execute very well on these were the sides where I went from one needle to the other (used magic loop method).  The tension was too tight and you can tell the socks have less stretch on each side and a kind-of “line” where there shouldn’t be one.  This is also the first sock I’ve knit using an afterthought heel.  I’ll be honest, I don’t care for it, but I understand the need for the technique so, there you go.

I'm out.

Lisa
xoxo


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sleeveless in South Mississippi

It's not that I don't want to finish The Husband's sweater.  Really, it isn't.  I have the front and back done.  All I have left to do are the sleeves.  Easy peasy.  But here's the thing:  I really hate sewing in sleeves.  Really, really hate it.  So I got the idea that I would seam up the front and back of the sweater and then pick up and knit the sleeves in the round, top down.  I've been assured by a trusted advisor from my knitting group that this is indeed possible.  And yet...no sleeves.

Something's missing here

The Husband is trying to be patient.  After all, this is South Mississippi and spring is in full gear which means daytime highs of around 80 degrees.  There's no way he'll wear this thing before next winter and he knows it.  But still, the yarn is beautiful, the pattern is nice...his anticipation is understandable.   I can't say I'm afraid, exactly.  I just want to make sure I get them right.  The difficulty comes in with short rows.  I'm getting better at them.  But I've never done shorts rows for a sleeve before and I'm a little unsure of myself.  And I might be lazy.  

Speaking of spring, things are greening up around here, largely due to the rain we've had.  This past weekend was very rainy.  

They're aliiiiiiive!
The two pots you see at the bottom right are two of my Japanese maples trees we planted last year in the yard that I thought we'd lost.  With our yard made up of 99.9% hard clay and with us being novice tree-planters and all, we thought we'd killed them last summer.  I decided to dig them up and plant the pathetic little sticks in some potting soil in pots and hope for a resurrection.  To make a long story short, both little saplings are budding now even though we were sure they were dead.  My willow tree has leafed out as well and I'm hoping the Eastern Redbud comes back too (but I'm not holding my breath on that one).


Indoors, one of my orchids is blooming again:


I've also decided to try a little horticultural experiment.  This past weekend I put up some avocado in the freezer (for how to do this neat little trick, click here - it actually works), and I wondered if I could grow an avocado tree from the seed of an avocado you purchase in the grocery.  Turns out, according to Google it is possible, and so I set up four seeds to see if I could at least get one or more started.  

Number 4 is by a different window

I know, strange, right?  I find myself amazed by the miracle of growing anything from a seed - although my previous experiments have not been all that successful - and so I figured, what have I got to lose?  I'm sure you'll be on pins and needles too (or not), so I'll keep you updated.

In other knitting news, I've just completed my Trapeze Tunic for the second time and just need to seam it.  If it doesn't fit well this time, I'm going to take it out to the street and run over the thing a few times with my car.  It will fix nothing, but I may feel better for a moment or two.  

I'm still on track with the healthy eating and daily exercise routine.  I managed to lose a couple of pounds, so that has been motivation to keep going.  I can honestly say I feel better.  Unfortunately, the workout time has cut into my "sitting in front of the TV and knitting" time each evening.  If only knitting burned more calories than aerobics.  I'd be golden...


Casting off, (cute, right?)

Lisa

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Certain Level of Maturity

It pains me to admit it, but I seem to be dealing with the real effects of...ahem...maturing. There have been several clues in my everyday living that are pointing in this direction, not the least of which was when last week, after looking back over my last few blog posts, I realized I had titled two blog posts exactly the same.  Within two months' time.  Um...yeah.  




There have been other signs as well, but most have been subtle enough that I just pretend they don't exist. Like the fact that I've progressed from forgetting why I walked into a particular room to forgetting why I just got up from my seat.  My train of thought derails that quickly.  I'm sure it's because The Husband distracted me with something ridiculous, you know, like breathing.  






And there's the "Grandma Naming Syndrome".  I call it that because my maternal grandmother manifested this from time to time, scrolling through several family names as she called for me before she landed on my actual name:  "Hey Linda...um, Lori...er...LISA!"  I am officially a grandma now, so I suppose it was inevitable.  But since I only have one grand baby so far and she lives in another part of the country, my syndrome affects the 5 dachshunds in the house that I keep in an almost perpetual state of confusion, as they are all aging too.


The absolute worst part of this process, however, has been the putting on of weight around my middle.  Aside from the obvious problem this creates - no longer fitting into my existing clothing - this has put a serious kabosh on certain quantities of yarn I purchased prior to the weight gain.  I no longer have enough for that sweater I was going to make (eventually) out of that yummy merino or that lovely summer top out of the gorgeous cotton-linen blend that I found at the bottom of a sale bin and will never find any more of again EVER.  I suppose it serves me right for procrastinating on those projects.  Then again, if I'd knit them then, they wouldn't fit now anyway.  

"I will always buy extra yarn. I will not try to tempt fate."
- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

And so, after over 6 months of ignoring the weight and waiting for it to drop off on its own proved futile, I decided to do something productive.  I have begun a new exercise regimen and have started tracking what I eat and choosing healthy foods, watching my portions, and cutting down on snacking.  I've been at it a week and I've lost a whopping ZERO pounds (not that I'm impatient or anything). Every muscle in my body is sore and I now hate my virtual workout instructor and tell her so on a regular basis.  But...MERINO.

Some things are worth the pain...

Lisa
xoxo

Sunday, February 14, 2016

In Which I May Not Have Been Paying Attention


Sometimes you just need to knit something simple.  No fancy lace patterns, no counting knits and purls in a crazy texture - just mindless row after row of stockinette with a little ribbing thrown in to keep you from going to sleep.  That was the idea behind my choice to knit the Trapeze Tunic/Dress.  It was a free pattern from Tahki Stacy Charles and I wanted something to wear with my first ever pair of leggings.  The actual choice to purchase a pair of leggings was edgy enough at my age*, so the companion piece needed to be something easy and quick.  And it was.  Maybe too easy because it seems that there were possibly a few moments when I wasn't paying attention.


I could fit four arms in there
Like not noticing how incredibly deep the armholes had gotten.  And maybe that they were made even deeper when I blocked the thing (I SWEAR I measured).  Or that the number of rows of ribbing below the armholes on the back piece didn't match the number of rows of ribbing under the armholes I'd knit on the front.  The ribbing was already weird because apparently in order to spice up the relative ease of the construction of the dress, the pattern writer inserted random stitch counts for the size I was making that actual planning and logic played no part in.  So rather than steady k2, p2 ribbing, I found myself forced into p2, k2 with a random p3 slipped in on either side which I decided in a fit of complete denial that neither I nor anyone else would notice at all.  This proved untrue.

The good news is, I DID eventually notice all of these imperfections and, once they came to light (read: once I realized I was not going to be able to pretend they weren't there), I commenced to reworking the problem areas, starting with UN-SEAMING THE ENTIRE DRESS.  That's right friends, my denial had remained strong clear through actually putting the project together.  It wasn't until I was wearing this mess for which I have no good excuse in front of a mirror that I got the first painfully clear picture that things did not work out as I had planned.  

Trapeze Tunic - Deconstructed

I plan to pay more attention to v2.0.  Yarn used and a few notes are on my Ravelry project page.

On a happier note, it is Valentine's Day and while I think the holiday is a tad overrated, I always welcome the chocolate The Husband gets for me each year.  In return, I cooked him breakfast (which is rare) and have supper in the crock pot for this evening.  The REAL proof of my love is still in the works.  Behold, it's even in a lovely shade of red:

Chocolate and yarn - Yay!

This is definitely real proof of my affection because after the last sweater I made for TH - the one HE picked out that was done completely in moss stitch in a sport weight yarn (which, incidentally, grew with use) - I wasn't sure that either my love for him or for knitting could convince me to attempt another one.  Love for both won out.

Tubular and gnarly, man...


I made a significant yarn investment for him, choosing Madelinetosh Pasmina Worsted.  Okay, it wasn't just for him - I mentioned before this stuff is dreamy.  I gave him a few pattern choices (none of them in a weight lighter than worsted, thank you) and he chose Jon's Sweater by Sarah Wilson.  I am going all out for this project, even using a lovely tubular cast on for the bottom ribbing and sleeves which looks so much nicer than a regular cast on.  




True love


The back is complete and I was halfway through the front piece when I decided I need to make more of an adjustment for my dear hubby's manly girth (read: his over-40 gut).  I haven't quite decided how to adjust the mid-section.  I'm considering either short rows in the front, or simply knitting the next size in the pattern for the front, keeping the row count the same as the back.  Do you have any advice?  Anyone?



Happy Valentine's Day!
Lisa

*The Husband keeps telling me I'm not old.  He may be right, but I am not a young woman either.  I'm old enough to have realized that while young women choose leggings because they look adorable in them, women my age choose leggings hoping they'll look adorable, but we really just care that they're comfortable.  I mean, have you tried these things?  Super stretchy + One Size Fits All = they're brilliant!  I may never wear anything else.  Now, I'm off to eat some chocolate...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Steampunked

Happy Monday!

Quite some time ago, I finished a sweater project, the Steampunk Pullover by Julia Farwell-Clay.  Two weeks ago, I was finally disciplined enough to put the thing on and have The Husband take some pictures so I could share it with you.

Please ignore the ridiculous facial expression.
On both me and the dog.  It was sunny.

I like the sweater, and you can't really tell from the photo, but the yoke construction is just…well, weird.  It is knit bottom-up, and after the sleeves are attached, the whole thing is knit in the round with a series of decreases that create a rather strange shape.  In fact, if I hadn’t been able to block the odd shape into something passable, I’d have had to rip the whole yoke back and do something different.  It still feels a bit off while wearing, but the look is acceptable and who wants to rip back stitches if they can get by without?  I’m not THAT much of a perfectionist. 

I extended the sleeves because, call me old school but, elbow-length sleeves over a long sleeved blouse (which is how the sweater was modeled in Knitscene, Fall 2014) just makes me cringe.  Yarn used was Claddagh by Good for Ewe that I picked up at a yarn store in Indianapolis a few years ago.  I like the yarn and it is toasty warm.  I know this because I put it on during a cold snap here in South Mississippi.  It was exactly what I needed to stay comfy while running around that day.

My daughter's dog, Sophie.  She only
sits next to me when her master is at work.

In my last post, I meant to share with you the way I found to join a new ball of lace weight yarn.  I spent many days avoiding working on the lace shawl I shared last time simply because I was paralyzed by fear at the thought of trying to join a new ball of yarn.   I turned to Google (as usual) and found a method called “spit-splicing”.  It does, in fact, involve spit.  You can find an excellent video tutorial for it here.  You may think this is a disgusting way to join yarn, but believe me, it works like a dream and when you are desperate (as lace knitting made me), you will do what it takes. 

Current WIPs include a tunic (otherwise known as a jumper to us American mid-westerners) that only needs to be seamed, a pair of “I-made-this-pattern-up-because-I-like-it” socks for which I’ve completed one entire sock - minus the afterthought heel, and I’ve started a sweater for The Husband.  He will likely not get to wear it until next winter, as the weather is already turning warmer and the days growing longer, but it has been a joy to work on as it involves a particularly lovely shade of Madelintosh PashminaWorsted (Tart).  If I could afford it, I’d use Pashmina for every scrap of clothing that touches my flesh.  Too creepy?  Sorry.  Let’s just say it feels like I imagine heaven would feel like…

Lisa

xoxo

Monday, January 25, 2016

Victory!

A proclamation of astounding joy and happiness I share with you all:

THE LACE HAS NOT DEFEATED ME!

That’s right!  After all of the struggle, tears, maddening setbacks and after having cast on at LEAST four times (I kind of lost track), the Summer Blooms Shawl by Susanna IC from Interweave Knits Summer 2012 has become a reality. 

Voila:




After all of the trouble getting through even the first 10 rows of lace (hence the numerous cast ons), it finally came down to my picking the thing up, doing one, maybe two rows (mind you, the lace rows were over 400 stitches), then putting it back down and leaving it until the next wave of courage hit me.  Of course, it took quite a while, but I was determined to get through the thing without another mistake.  Incidentally, I learned that tinking back with fuzzy alpaca lace is about as difficult as I imagine climbing Mt. Everest would be. 




Will I attempt another lace weight project?  My Ravelry library is full of them.  What can I say?  Like with childbirth, it would seem the pain is totally worth it.  Besides, I have some lovely 100% silk lace beckoning me from my stash.  Now if I can just screw up enough bravery to actually wind it…

Lisa

xoxo