Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mush-Free Reflections

Okay, lots of folks get reflective at the end of each year.  I don't really do resolutions, and since menopause has reared its ugly head, I don't like to do mushy either because quite frankly, I cry enough at stupid things like puppies and don't even ask me about this new TV commercial from Apple where the granddaughter finds a recording her grandma made for her grandpa when he was away at war. I get misty every single time.  I'm a dork.  I embrace this.

That said, there IS something entirely natural at the end of the year in looking back and seeing what was total rubbish, what was great, and what could be done better in the next year.  So I decided to take a little stock myself and throw it into a blog post.  

This last year had many, many difficult moments for me.  There have been various health problems and some serious questioning regarding my vocation, along with the realization that I'm rapidly heading toward the end of that magical decade between 40 and 50 that causes most people - women especially I think - to carefully consider how we actually want to spend the rest of our lives.  Not to be morbid or anything, but the truth is, I'm old enough now that I have absolutely no desire to spend time on anything that's not really important to me.  You know we humans are silly creatures that tend to spend our youth majoring in the minors and that way of thinking changes as you age.  You start to see the ridiculousness of so many things you've birthed gray hair over.  I think that's why older people are said to grow in wisdom.  The wisdom of age is certainly not something centered around how much you know.  Rather, I think the wisdom of age is realizing how very little you really know.   Ideally, you stop sweating the small stuff.  I'm still getting there...

That said, this year has had some incredibly lovely moments as well.  Of course, I'm still floating with the news that I have a grand baby on the way.  But there have been other things as well.  Time with friends and family.  Many positive answers to prayer.  Blessings abound, they really do.  Not to mention all of you who have stuck with me and this blog through my fairly absentee year.  There's something special about people of the wool.

As for what could be done better, I think the key to having time to do what I love - tend my family, knit, & write - is going to be to focus on simplicity.  On "de-cluttering" my life and letting go of those things that are not in any way redeeming*.  

And of course, more yarn.  There has to be more yarn...

Happy New Year!


*Netflix and football do not count.  I can totally knit while watching either.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Toe-Up Update

Throughout the excitement of the baby news over the holiday, one thorn continued to poke me in my side - toe-up sock knitting. Frankly, I was ready to give up after a second pattern I tried ended up again looking incredibly wide. While I was frogging this latest attempt, I was pondering how I might get through an actual pair of these and somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered that one of my favorite designers, Sarah Ronchetti, released a toe-up version of her Scott Base Socks. I made a pair of these cuff down already and absolutely love them so 1) I wouldn't mind another pair, and 2) I thought if anyone could guide me through a pair of toe-up socks, it would be Sarah. Her patterns are incredibly well-written. I immediately downloaded the toe-up version and went to work.

These socks are awesome no matter which direction you knit them.

Lousy pic from my Android phone - totally not a true color

Not only am I well into the foot of the socks but they actually look normal-sized (for me). I am knitting the adult small. I've read ahead to the instructions for the heel and they are concise and easily understood. I think I just might make it through this pair! Woo hoo! Thanks, Sarah!

My week off of work is coming to an end, although I only have to work 3 days this week.  We will likely stay at home and watch movies for New Year's Eve again this year, which is absolutely okay with me. Maybe I'll make some tasty snacks.  We usually eat junk food but my ever expanding waistline is telling me I may want to make another choice this year - at least to avoid the pre-packaged stuff, if not all the calories.  I've discovered a food blog that I am really enjoying called South Your Mouth.  It's written by Mandy Rivers and not only does she have a wonderful sense of humor, but we tried out a few of her recipes for our Christmas dinner this year and loved them.  I hate cooking, so that is really a ringing endorsement.  I encourage you to check her blog out!

What are your plans for New Year's Eve?


PS - Any recommendations on the best graphic editing tool for making a banner for this blog?  I spent over an hour fooling around with trying to do a new banner.  I haven't liked the current one since I put it up.  Recommendations more than welcome!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

In Which There Was Much Joy

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I enjoyed the holiday very much this year. My son, daughter-in-law, and my mother came down for a few days, and along with The Husband and my daughter, we ate and shopped and ate and shopped and then we ate (I am gonna have to use a gift card to buy some bigger jeans). In keeping with holiday tradition in my family, we played a few card games which I lost by a ridiculous margin and I personally set a new record for the world's worst score in Phase 10. Loved every minute of it.

And then there was this:

Best. Gift. Ever.

That's right! I'm gonna be a G.R.A.N.D.M.A.!!!!!!! Of course, you realize this changes everything, including and especially my knitting queue...

There was some yarn inside that cup when they gave it to me and I'm already half way done with my grandbaby's going home outfit. I'll share it another time, as I'm not revealing what I'm knitting to my son and DIL just yet. I'm already spending tons of time adding patterns to my Ravelry library. Of course, I don't know yet whether the wee one is a boy or a girl, so the possibilities will expand exponentially when that is revealed. All I know is that this baby will not want for love or for wool.

My cup (or yarn bowl) runneth over...

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

From The Tips of My Toes

The Husband and I were down with a stomach virus last weekend and I missed work this past Monday because of it.  I blame it entirely on him - he started it.  In all fairness though, he got the worst of it.  I did manage to use the time to work on a new sock design.  Which brought me to toes.

After much swatching (I know, you can’t believe it either, can you?) it became clear that one part of the stitch pattern I’m working with will only look right if I knit from the toe up.  The pattern would be upside-down if I used it cuff-down.  Yes, I did reverse-engineer the pattern but for whatever reason, it just didn’t look right.  In theory it should have been perfect.  It wasn’t.  Since I love the particular stitch pattern in question (it was the inspiration for the project in the first place) it became obvious that I would need to learn what I’ve been putting off ever since I started knitting socks - working from the toe-up.

I’ve played around with toe-up before, but never seriously.  Part of the problem is that Judy’s Magic Cast On (which is awesomely superior to any other method) works best using Magic Loop and since I’m generally a die-hard DPN user (ironic if you know my history with them) and averse to anything that makes me uncomfortable, I successfully avoided the whole deal.  Until now.  I really love the stitch pattern.

After searching to find Judy’s instructions once again and digging out my 2.5mm 40” circular that I bought the last time I thought I would become a Magic Loop expert, I began with some scrap yarn just to see if I could get through the cast on and the toe increases.  What do you know, it worked!  I won’t say it was “magical” because after having cast on with Magic Loop a few times now, it still feels weird and cumbersome, but do-able.  I press on.

My next challenge will be getting through a heel.  I attempted to work through one with a basic toe-up heel flap recipe I found online, but the instructions seemed ambiguous (or I’m just a doofus) so of course, I muttered under my breath and pulled the thing out again.  I then decided that I should just make a pair of toe-up socks from a pattern in my queue to get the process into my head.  After all, even though I was avoiding toe-up sock construction, there are lots of beautiful toe-up patterns out there that I’ve saved under the mental category “Someday”.  

They are wider than the yarn cake.  O.o
I’ve had these socks in my queue for some time and decided to make them a reality so I cast on and have worked away at them using a skein of Tosh Sock I had on hand but I’m afraid these won’t make it to the heel.  My cables are wonky (again - see this post here), which wouldn’t be entirely off-putting since wonky in varying degrees is a part of my every day life, but the sock is just too wide.  I’m knitting what the designer calls the “cosplay” version - or ladies version - and without blocking I’m producing a foot that’s 4” wide.  That may work for lots of people but I have long, skinny feet (picture short skis) and these just won’t do.  I love the Tosh Sock too much to use it for a sock that I won’t wear and I earmarked the yarn for moi, so these will have to go.  I could try and adjust the pattern and stitch count, but I’m not sure I’d be happy with the resulting modified pattern.  So there you have it.  I’m back at square one.

Before I sign off, let me ask you sock knitters about heels.  When I knit cuff down, I have always used a heel flap construction and I’m happy with that.  I think it gives the heel much-needed reinforcement.  I’ve seen the alternatives - fish kiss, afterthought, etc.  Which heel methods have you used?  Which do you love, which do you hate, and why?



Sunday, December 14, 2014

It. Was. Ugly.

Remember way back here when I mentioned having waited months for some Tosh Sock yarn?  Remember how excited I was about the colorway?  

Yeah, well…

Okay, so I still love the colorway but the journey from wound ball of yarn to socks has been a rather unattractive one.  My first instinct was just to knit a basic pair of socks.  I should really learn to trust my first instincts.  Instead, I got the brilliant idea to use a simple spiral stitch pattern.  And this, my friends, is where it got really ugly.  I mean UGLY.  You’ve been warned.  Behold the monster:

See?  Really, really ugly.  What’s sad is that I went all the way through the heel flap before deciding it was ugly.  I mean seriously, was I in a knitting coma?  I kinda get nauseous all over again when I look at the picture.  Blech…

And so, we ripped.  And we were glad.

Pooling? What pooling?

Take two:  basic socks.  **LOVE**

Now, if I were more dedicated to my craft, I’d have done all the maneuvers necessary to carry my stripes evenly through the heel and ankle.  But yeah, considering I’m grateful whenever I manage to finish anything these days with my day job sucking all of the knitting life out of me, I’m happy to live with the pooling at the ankles.  Don’t judge me.

I’m itching to cast on a sweater for myself and have one picked out but will share that with you another time.  I’ll be waiting until after Christmas to begin it anyway.  I’m so grateful I get to see my son and daughter-in-law and my mom this year who are all making the trip down for a few days AND I have actually managed to score the week off of work.  Yay!

In the meantime, I’m working on a sock design and some smaller projects that I can get off the needles quickly.  I completed one a couple nights ago.  It’s a Minion hat for my boss’s son.  I used Cascade Pacific Chunky (which I really liked) for the body of the hat and then various bits I had around for the embellishment.  The eye looks wonky but I never claimed I could crochet worth a darn. 


P.S. - What’s the ugliest thing you've ever made?

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I am so grateful to all of you who left such kind comments on my last post about Grandma Eva.  She was laid to rest yesterday.  Breathing Life said it best - that I can “remember her with every stitch”, and I most certainly will.  You all are so gracious, thank you.

Saturday morning and it’s literally freezing here in South Mississippi.  For two nights we’ve had temps in the low 30s and when I got home from work last night, I actually chose to stay home and cook rather than go out to eat because I didn’t want to go back out in the cold.  It takes a LOT to entice me to cook if I have an option not to.  While I don’t like the cold, I have immensely enjoyed The Husband making a fire in the fireplace and I have thanked the Lord for wool this week more than once.  And then I wished I had more.  Wool, that is.  Is that wrong?

Last Friday The Husband and I got together with Lady L and her husband, David for dinner.  I’ve not seen her much since her retirement from my LYS but we had the nicest evening and I told her later that I was so inspired just seeing her that the very next day, I finished two projects and have been plugging along on the lap blanket I’m donating.  I think this is an excellent argument for going to dinner with them more often, no?  

The lap blanket was here:

Then went to this:

And now looks like this:

I still have a ways to go but I’m optimistic I’ll get it done on time for the December 1st deadline.

The two projects I finally finished last weekend were the vest I started for my mom ages ago and the shawl that needed to be blocked.  I won’t share any pics of the vest just yet since I’ll give the vest to Mom at Christmas but you’ll remember I only had to seam the shoulders and then finish the neckline and armholes which took all of a couple of hours.  I’m pleased with the results and hope Mom likes it.

I’m also very happy with the Morgaine shawl.  I’m not the best at blocking in the world and since I only own two shorter flexible blocking wires, I had to use a thicker, stiff wire to try and block the middle of the curve on the crescent, but it worked out okay.  I love fingering weight yarn, especially when it comes to blocking. It dries so quickly.  Believe me, in the moisture-saturated South, getting anything to dry naturally is a challenge.  It’s humid even when it’s cold.

Colors are truer in this photo

I’ve already worn this shawl and I love it!  I’ve said it before, this yarn is absolutely dreamy.  I hope LeiLani and Heavenly Fiber are at next year’s Magnolia State Fiber Festival again so I can snap up some more of her heavenly yarn (<—see what I did there?). 

I suppose somewhere in the midst of knitting this weekend I’m going to have to break down and do some cleaning, although it’s against my better judgement.  Meh…

Have a wonderful weekend,


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Passing

Beautiful Grandma Eva
Today is a sad day in our household.  I suppose it is strange to be sharing anything about a personal loss with all of you, but tonight, because she was one of our particular tribe, I think it is appropriate.  

Today we lost Grandma Eva.

Some of you will remember my sharing about The Husband's precious grandma.  Ninety-six years of love and grace and blessing.  I'm sorry that I only knew her for 15 of those years.  She was a delight.

Grandmothers are special people.  I don't have any grandmas by blood anymore.  I lost my father's mother when I was just a child - around 6 years old as I recall.  We were visiting when it happened.  I was hastened into the next room when, in the blink of an eye, she was gone.  Then, many years later but several years ago, my maternal grandmother passed, although the grandma I knew had been gone for some time.  But when The Husband and I married, I gained two grandmothers-in-love.  Love indeed.

Grandma Eva, this beloved, petite, wisp of a woman was stronger than you could imagine.  She knew the heartbreak of the loss of a child and the loss of a husband.  She knew the joy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  And she knew the joy of knitting.  To many it may sound silly, but you...I know you all know exactly what I'm talking about.  

That got me to thinking...

While we are mourning her passing from this life into eternity, I realized there has been another passing.  A passing on of all that she was to those who knew and loved her.  And that was a lot to pass on.  Our lives are all richer, fuller, more complete because Grandma poured herself into us and into everyone she encountered, even strangers.

Grandma volunteered at the local hospital for 25 years.  And her craft?  She didn't keep it to herself.  In fact, I can't remember seeing her work on a project that she didn't give away.  I think of all the love she spread in the form of yarn:  decades of newborn babies whose little heads were covered with her love in the shape of a hat or a blanket; aged knees warmed by the product of hands that over the years became aged themselves - a bit stiff, but still determined to share.   She was still knitting a few weeks ago.  

Knitting was a part of her.

Until a few years ago, I wouldn't have understood.  But I do now.  And I hope and I pray that I continue the tradition.   Here's to you, Grandma Eva.  I love you.  I will miss you dreadfully.  And I hope to make you proud.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Swatch Out!

It is frigid here in South Mississippi this morning - down in the 30s in early November.  Yes, having come from the North, I know that’s not exactly frigid, but hello?  South Mississippi, y’all.  The neighbor said it was supposed to be another cold winter.  I never thought I’d say it, but I’m okay with that this year.  The Husband started the first fire in the fireplace last night - which I always love, I broke out a pair of my hand knit socks I’ve been waiting to wear, and unlike last winter, we actually have the yard fenced now so I don’t have to escort our Dachshunds outside in the cold. 


I spent a good portion of this past week trying to get caught up on my blog reading (a monumental task lately that I made a very small dent in).  The knitting blogosphere is filled with kind and incredibly talented people who always inspire me.  If you read my last blog post, you'll know that inspiration is exactly what I need and there is no better place to find some than looking at what others are doing with sticks and string.

Seeing so many wonderful creations from designers I love as well as the projects others have chosen to make - along with drooling over all of that dreamy yarn - has stirred up a desire in me that I normally NEVER have:  swatching.

I know, I know, only a foolish knitter never swatches.  I DO swatch when starting a project that needs to fit, like a sweater, but honestly, I do the bare minimum in order to see if I'm at least in the neighborhood of the correct gauge and that is the end of it (feel free to remind me of this the next time something I make doesn’t fit).  But seeing so many beautiful WIPs
with very lovely stitch patterns led me to pull out my two lone stitch dictionaries and thumb through them.  

I have no idea why this picture is blurry.  Seriously.
The original is crystal clear.

This made me realize two things:  1) I need more stitch dictionaries, and 2) I should really try some of these lovelies out for myself.  In the past, I have mostly just dreamed about them and don't bother getting off my fanny to go get some yarn and needles and start actually finding out which I like and which I'd like to forget. 

Did I say in the past?  That’s not entire accurate.

Must. Knit. Faster.
I'm still sitting here on my fanny.  The only thing I've managed to work on over the last week besides blog reading has been the lap blanket I'm making for donation.  Since it's a simple garter stitch blanket, I decided to practice my Continental knitting technique.  I've played around with it before, but this time it seemed to go a bit better since I have such a lot of garter stitch to do and plenty of fodder for experimentation.  Only problem is, my tension is hit and miss.  I've never been particularly good at using my left hand for anything meticulous (or even not so meticulous) and this is no exception.  I've Googled every knitter and their sister's way of holding tension and tried most of them.  I'm hoping to get a bit better at this but time will tell.

Oh yeah, back to swatching.  I haven’t.  At all.  But I do feel a bit more inspired.  And that counts, right?


P.S. - My preview of this post looks weird.  So I apologize for any weirdness.  Blogger has turned against me - blurry pics, weird layout.  I lament...

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Autumn is upon us and before we moved South, it was my favorite season.  In Ohio, the maple leaves turn such beautiful shades and you seem to be able to actually smell fall in the air.  Here in South Mississippi, the only way you can tell it’s fall is that it gets below 60 degrees overnight.  We’ve still been hitting the upper 70s and lower 80s all week during the day.  There are very few maple trees here and even those don’t turn in the same brilliant colors as trees in the North. I’ll be thankful I don’t still live in Ohio come December through March, but right now, I miss it terribly and I think it’s affecting my creative mood.  

Ever have spells where you completely lack inspiration to do any knitting?  I’m so there.  It’s not really that I don’t want to knit.  I do.  A lot.  But I can’t seem to settle on anything that can hold my attention for more than a few minutes.  Even the thought of casting on another pair of socks can’t motivate me to actually do it.  Boo!  

I did finish the Morgaine shawlette I was working on…except for blocking.

Colors are truer in this photo than the other

What will it look like blocked?  We'll find out, eventually.
I really enjoy making items with lace details - not that I’ve been all that successful using lace weight yarn in the past.  I like shawls and shawlettes a lot because they are usually quick knits.  Morgaine was no exception.  It was really fun and the yarn was a dream to work with.  This will be a sweet little addition to my wardrobe once it’s blocked.  Maybe next year some time unless the Blocking Fairy shows up in the near future.  If only there were such a thing.

I'd better get crackin'
In the meantime, I have been working on an easy garter stitch lap blanket for a friend of mine in New Orleans who is working with the Veteran’s Home there.  They are looking to provide VA residents with new hand-knit or crocheted lap blankets for Christmas.  

Their goal is 155 blankets and they need them by December 1st.  If you’d like to contribute, message me on Ravelry (knit-whimsy) or Twitter @knitwhimsy and I’ll get you an address to forward your blanket.  Requested size is 3’ x 4’.

Aaaand, that’s all I’ve got.  What’s inspiring YOU?


P.S. - In case you were wondering, here’s a short update on the Lacy Beast.  I managed to do one row since my last post, actually attaching the sleeves to the body.  Just one row.  I have refused to count the total stitches to see how much I’m off, and therefore have done absolutely nothing else on it.  Now it looks like this:

I really AM trying to care...

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Two blog posts in two days?  That’s my life.  Feast or famine.  In that spirit, feast your eyes on this:

This is the latest in what will likely be a long line of projects designed to help me avoid working on the Lacy Beast.  The pattern is Morgaine by Natalie Servant and I’m using some yarn I picked up at this year’s Magnolia State Fiber Festival.  It’s Heavenly Fibers Stardust Fingering in color way Biker Chick.  I love pink and gray/black and knew when I bought this that it wouldn’t be socks.  I found the pattern after much agonizing on Ravelry and think it will work.  The picture is the lace edging that is knit tip to tip and then stitches are picked up and garter stitch short rows complete the crescent shape.  The yarn is dreamy.  Good stuff!

My Scott Base socks are complete!  I love these socks.  They were interesting but simple enough that I could pick them up and knit anywhere without having my head stuck in the instructions.  And of course my favorite yarn, Madelinetosh Sock, is always a winner - color way Rain Water.

Next in my sock future are some basic socks made from another skein of Tosh Sock in color way Turtle.  I saw someone on Google+ making a pair with this color way and fell in love!  My LYS recently became a Madelinetosh retailer and I waited literally months on this skein but it was SO worth the wait.

What’s on your needles?  No, really, I want to know!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wait...what? What month is it?

In the name of all that is yarny and good, I swear it was September 1st just a few days ago.  Nearly two months since my last post.  How sad is that?  Don't answer.  

It's S.A.D.  But...

I actually have been knitting during that time.  First, baby things!!  Woo hoo!

My friend T gave birth to beautiful Baby S on September 21st and I actually managed to get the stuff I made for her across the country to her in time.  I made a little sweater that I'm sure she may have worn for half a second:

The pattern is Gidday Baby by Georgie Hallam.  I liked the pattern, even though I had trouble with an underarm.  This is routine for me, I seem to always have difficulty picking up enough stitches and closing the gaps under the arms tightly enough.  For this project, I had to completely pull out one sleeve and start again because it just didn't look right.  It doesn't lay well in the picture either, but that's because it's (dun, dun, duuuuh...) acrylic yarn.  Euro Baby's Babe, which feels lovely but it's um, acrylic.  Great for baby stuff (washability) but not so great for behaving itself.   I'm sure I'll use this pattern again though.  

Um...what color work?  I can't see it. 

I also knit a little hat with the same yarn - although I subbed a cream color for the contrast instead of the green which was in hindsight a mistake, but I thought I was out of green (found some more of it after I sent the stuff to T).  The pattern is a freebie:  Two-Colour Infant Hat by Paulina Chin.  I actually love this pattern.  You get the satisfaction of color work without the headache of a major project.  Unfortunately, the cream with the pink kind of muddles together.  

And finally, the item I had the most fun with and that I absolutely love is a Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot.  The pattern is easy but not boring and I am in love with the yarn I used:  Knit Picks Comfy Worsted.  This stuff is like knitting with a cloud and the color choices are great.  I chose pinks and greens (I'm on a pink and green kick at the moment) with some white mixed in.  

Baby S!  So sweet...

I knit another baby blanket for a co-worker who is expecting a little girl but unfortunately, I was down to the wire with the deadline for the baby shower so I got no pictures.  I used another freebie pattern called Summery Diagonal Blanket by Lion Brand Yarns.  I used Bernat Baby Jacquard Florals in Morning Glory.  It is an easy knit that produces a pleasing, reversible blanket.  It was a hit at the shower.

Have another baby on the way to knit for (another co-worker) but I have a few months before it’s needed so in the meantime, I finished my Scott Base Socks.  They are still drying from blocking but I’ll post pictures in another post.

Sweater?  What sweater?
I’ve also returned to the Lacy Beast.  After having finished the first sleeve and blown through the second one, I am at a complete standstill with this thing simply because I’m going to have to use brain cells to continue and those are in short supply these days.  The sweater is bottom up and is seamless which makes for a construction that’s different than any that I’ve done previously.  It splits for a v-neck and then joins the live stitches from the sleeves to the body as you knit.  I know I’ll do fine once I get started but I’m dreading moving on.  There are several comments on Ravelry from other folks who have knit this pattern (those who didn’t throw in the towel) that indicate I’m going to have to fiddle with where I begin my round or I’ll be in trouble.  Plus, I’m unable to visualize exactly how the sleeves are joined properly.  And so, I’m avoiding.  

Speaking of sweaters that don’t exist, I need to knit one using some yarn I bought over a year ago in Indianapolis.  It’s Malabrigo Worsted, which is one of my favorites, but I don’t really know what I was thinking when I picked up a sweater’s quantity of this:

It's not quite as bright as this pic indicates.

It’s in the colorway Oceanos.  It’s lovely, really.  But finding a sweater pattern that will work with such a variegated yarn?  Sigh…  My only thoughts are possibly the Hepburn Pullover that I’ve had in my queue for a long time.  Do you think it would look okay?  I realize that some of the stitch detail will get lost in the yarn.  Any other ideas?


P.S. - To anyone who reads this blog who also has a blog that I follow, please accept my apologies.  I am SO behind on my blog reading.  You’re all still on my list!