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?