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A Three Hour (LYS) Tour

Sunday, the last day of the LYS tour, dawned with appropriately sunny glory.  Perfect for a three hour (or so) tour. I know I am completely dating myself with that reference, but I couldn’t help thinking about “…The Professor and Maryanne…” going out for their three hour tour.  We only went to three shops and somehow it felt like a bit of a whirlwind to me, though a fun one.  How do people do the whole tour?! 5 days, 26 shops. Fun, but crazy exhausting.  You know you’re old when that much running around sounds like a lot of fuss instead of a great excuse for a party.  My friend Troy (pictured in front of NW Handspun Yarns on the far right) and I, with our monumental stashes, conferred ahead of time and decided that we would not buy anything unless it was supremely special or something needed for a project.  I’m proud to say we stuck to our guns and were pretty successful, not that I wasn’t tempted by all the Madelinetosh gleaming from the stacks.

First stop after a sensational breakfast at The Calico Cupboard was Wild Fibers in Mt. Vernon, where I was sorely tempted by the Trapper Cowl sample knit in buttery soft Manos del Uruguay Maxima.  Luckily, I couldn’t find any color combos that needed to jump into my greedy little fingers, but I’ll admit to some excessive fondling occurring while in the shop. Repeatedly.

After that we headed back north to NW Handspun Yarns where my steely resolve crumbled in the face of more Manos; bargain bin, silk blend, a good contrast color for some other yarn I’d been gifted. Realistically not good rationalizations, but perhaps I was feeling woozy from a lack of specialty coffee and the profusion of yarn fumes.  Did I need it? No.  Did I like it? Yes. No sense dwelling on it now. Time to put that yarn to work!

Our last stop was Apple Yarns, where we were greeted by a flurry of activity and friendly faces.  This is the shop I frequent most often and here, they actually know my name. On the other hand, they know Troy at all the yarn shops :)  I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t make the rounds (or chat much).  Too much temptation.  Plus, it’s been clearly proven that if you talk to me while I’m shopping, your interest in me will result in my feeling it necessary to spend money in your shop.  I’m a sucker I am. And a good one to boot! Anyway, I did pick up two bargain bin skeins of Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Coral Rose for a future somethin’ somethin’. Best part? I had a gift certificate from last year’s Stash Buster Sale at the shop and I only spent a whopping 30 cents on my two brand spankin’ new skeins of awesome.  Not too shabby.

I’m too lazy to photograph the acquisitions; sorry but you’ve all seen yarn before.  The big news now is that Stash Dash 2015 starts tomorrow!  And unlike my friend Knitting Up North, I have not really sat down and laid a plan for my Dash success.  I assume I’ll be working toward a 5K (5,468 yds) though there is potential to push it to a 10K (10,936 yds) if I’m really motivated.  But with only 1.5 weeks of school left, I’m assuming knitting time will be greatly reduced as I adjust to the summer schedule and trying to find ways to fill our time.  Then again there are karate lessons and park visits which, so far, have resulted in extra knitting time. We shall see.  Stay tuned for some Stash Dash updates to come!

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Drinkin’ The Kool-Aid

IMG_1907So my good friend at Knitting Up North has been talking about the Knit Girllls Stash Dash a bunch lately.  If you haven’t read her blog yet, go check it out. Seriously. Go now.  I’ll wait.  Are you back?

She never fails to make me laugh and constantly inspires me with all her awesome projects. I don’t listen to the Knit Girllls podcast like she does but I love the idea of the Stash Dash.  So I’m drinkin’ the kool-aid and joining in.  I’ll be an unofficial entry though.  It seems a little fakey fake to join the Ravelry group just for the Dash without really knowing what the podcast is about or even having plans to check it out (I’m not really a podcast kinda person). But it will be the perfect excuse to drag out some UFOs that need finishing and maybe clean the slate a bit while having a little fun and challenging myself.

I’m on my way to completing my Freshman year of Loopy Academy and though I thoroughly enjoyed my first Camp Loopy last summer, I think I need a break from “mandatory fun”.  You know, activities that are designed to be “fun” but really leave you sweaty and stressed and make you want to fake a violent illness so you can get out of them.  Management likes to call these “team building exercises.” Right.  Anyway that’s not totally fair since Camp Loopy and Loopy Academy have actually been really fun, but I’m a little burnt out on the structure and the fact that you have to buy new yarn for each project.  I’m ready to work on the stash and finishing some things. Hopefully that will mean I’ll be ready for my sophomore year of Loopy Academy when it starts in the fall. ‘Cause I’d really like to continue.

Oh crap.  I clicked over to The Loopy Ewe blog to copy some links for the stuff I just wrote and they have posted stuff for Camp Loopy – Safari Edition already.  How can I resist those adorable lions and giraffes in colored socks? Here, you try:

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Tell me that wasn’t just a little bit hard to resist…..

Right now though, I’m having fun combing Ravelry for all my old projects I’d like to finish and things I might like to knit from stash for the Stash Dash.  I’ll post soon with photos and progress reports.  Oh and that thing up at the top?  That’s my kick a$$ ceramic toadstool posing with a dishcloth I’m working on as a request from a fellow Raveler for the pattern I used in my very first knitting project. I’m actually more excited about the toadstool.  I’d love to have a little army of these in different sizes scattered throughout my front garden.  Awesome.  Makes me smile just thinking about it.  Hope your day is smiley too!

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Swatcha Doin?

*The title for this post must be read in Isabella’s sing-song voice from Phineas & Ferb to achieve maximum effect (if you don’t have a 5 year old boy in the house at the moment, check out this link).*

Yep, you guessed it.  I’m swatchin’. Swatchin’, and dreamin’, and hopin’, and prayin’.  O.k., not really prayin’.  If all does not swatch well, there are always more fish in the yarn stash to choose from.

Yarn & Patterns from Left to Right:

  • Misti Alpaca Worsted in “Berry Melange” for Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (Knitbot)
  • Jakobsdals Bahamas in Red for the Conestoga Tunic by Heather Zoppetti (in Everyday Lace)
  • Laines du Nord Mulberry Silk in “Sky” for Green Apple Tank by Amy Palmer (in Knitscene, Summer 2015)

And there’s more in the works (it’s going to be a long summer of swim lessons & karate lessons!).

But what about you?  What new projects are you excited about as the days turn towards summer?

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Make Socks Your Favorite

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Everyone has their favorite comfort knitting.  Something that you can pick up any time you want, take a few stitches, and know that it will relax you, fulfill the tactile desire for fiber, and be waiting for you whenever you are ready to pick it up again, with no knit shaming involved (Where you been, huh? How come you cast on something new? Don’t you love me anymore?).  For some people this might be a hat, for others socks, or shawls.  There are even “sweater people”, believe it or not.  Me, I’m a blanket person.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe it’s because they are practical, one-size-fits-all, and typically mindless.  But seriously.  How many blankets does one household really need?!  I’ve made two for my son (who adores them but doesn’t use them) and have at least 2-3 more in progress. I bet you quilters feel my pain.

Time for a new favorite.

Did you now that April is Sock Knitting Month at Interweave? That got me thinking.  A good look at my stash would make you think I am planning on outfitting a small army of oompa loompas with self-striping socks someday in the future, with a few cabled ones thrown in for good measure. I thoroughly enjoy knitting socks, yet rarely do I sit down to do so. Somehow the gauge issue, rationing of yarn (if top down) and measuring gets me all kerbobbled and I think, “maybe another day.” Not comforting or relaxing at all.  But why shouldn’t it be?  Why should I knit fancy cabled laced and tasseled confections when I could knit plain vanilla and be (probably) just as happy?  Damn, I actually love vanilla! I could certainly use socks more frequently than another blanket. I’ve wanted to try knitting an afterthought heel for a while now, so I’m going to start with this pattern and see where it takes me. If I like it enough, who says I have to ever knit anything else?  I could just knit vanilla socks with afterthought heels until I run out of stash or my fingers fall off.  I don’t care if other sock knitters will think I’m lame.  Right? Right. That’s what I’m gonna keep telling myself.

Just like this clip from one of my all time favorite movies (Elf), I’m going to make socks my new favorite!

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Jogless Near Seattle

I love love love stripes!! Always have, even before they became a thing. And as soon as I made my first striped project in the round, I learned to knit jogless stripes. In fact, I’ve never knit anything striped without working jogless stripes. Yikes. The whole idea makes me break out in an itchy scratchy rash. Why? Why?! Why would anyone knit stripes with jogs? Especially if you can avoid it so easily? Ugh. My eyes bleed just imagining the epic fail. But even I, who am no stranger to knitting jogless stripes, just got schooled by a simple cowl (with a little help from Interweave Knits).

This is the method I have always used for knitting jogless stripes: knitting one round with the new color and then at the start of the second round, picking up the old color from the stitch below and knitting it together with the new color, creating an elongated stitch. This works fine for pretty much most things I’ve ever knit. However, while knitting my Duotone (above) which is knit at a loose-ish gauge on slightly larger needles to accentuate the drape of the yarn, I felt dissatisfied with my trusty technique. Not enough to really do anything about it (I’m kinda lazy that way) just vaguely critical of the way the stitches were lining up before and after each color change.

Then one evening, while waiting for my son to quit goofing around while taking care of business in his bathroom (seriously, the kid can make an epic journey out of potty time or toothbrushing; he’s the consummate dawdler) I picked up an old back issue of Interweave Knits and started thumbing through it. This is often the only way I can keep my head from exploding when he’s in there singing away, oblivious to the ginormous mommy volcano building pressure outside. And whaddya know, there’s a whole article about new ways to knit jogless stripes in the round (Interweave Knits, Volume 14, Number 2, Summer 2009. “Beyond The Basics, New Methods for Jogless Stripes in the Round”. Techknitter. Pg 28-30). I fully admit it. I skimmed. I didn’t really want to know why, just how. Bad Knittymuggins!! But it was enough to get me on my way, and now I know where to find it again when I finally decide I want to know why it works that way. Just kidding. You know I’ll never come back and read it when I could totally be knitting.

Anyway, I settled on a combination of my usual method above for the thin stripes, and the Stationary Slip-Stitch method for jogless stripes from the article for the wider stripes. It looked better and I was pleased with the change. And then I finished the cowl and the funny bit at the end of my graft was bugging me so I rearranged the cowl a little to make that annoying nubbin disappear inside the cowl. And guess what else ended up “hidden” inside the cowl at that point? The stupid jogless stripes I’d agonized over the whole time I was knitting. And do you know who is now the biggest dumba$$ in the universe? Yeah. That would be me.

But at least my neck will be cozy.

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If You Can’t Knit ‘Em, Swatch ‘Em

I have always viewed swatching as a necessary, but unpleasant task; the boring opening act you have to suffer through before you get to the main attraction, the one you spent all that money on and have been dreaming about for months.  But I think I may have – wait for it – become a bit of a fan.  Yes, a swatchy groupie.

It all started with a fever. And not the kind of fever that just needs more cowbell. We’re talking, the kind that single-handedly immobilized the 2000 jigowatt energy of a 5 year old boy. When Knittymunchkin only wants to curl up in your lap and have you sing The Beatles’ “Blackbird” to him over and over, you know something’s up. The fact that he is sitting still for more than 5 seconds is worry enough. I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until exactly one week later when I woke up with my head throbbing, a fever, and every single muscle in my body spasmodic with pain. Yes, even though we were both vaccinated, we had the flu. I mean the real deal.  After 2 weeks of sickness and self-imposed quarantine, a doctor’s appointment that resulted in no less than 4 prescriptions between the two of us, way way way too much tv (pretty sure Knittymunchkin’s brain will never recover — BAD MAMA!), I think we are finally on the upswing.

But back to the swatching. Over the years I have come to realize something about myself. I used to think that I just couldn’t sit still for long. Not short attention span issues, and not hyperactivity, just an inability to sit for longer than 5 minutes doing what I perceive to be “nothing”. No wonder I can never relax!! But over the last year or two I have started to think of this quirk more in terms of an intense dislike of idle hands. As long as my hands are busy, I am content to sit still and do “nothing”. While attending to a sick Knittymunchkin and during my own recuperation I have eased my idle hands syndrome with knitting. But, unable to concentrate on a complicated pattern I needed something simple. I worked on my Duotone a lot (in fact it’s just waiting to be grafted and it will be finished) but I wanted something even simpler. Something requiring no counting and no real concentration, just needles, yarn and busy hands. Behold the beauty (yes, I said beauty) of the swatch. Mindless knitting, incredible portability, and the added benefit of actually being useful! I’m hooked.

Swatching……. I never thought I’d say this, but I think I love you!

 

P.S. I’m kinda loving this new theme too.  It was about time for a change!

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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 Happy Valentine’s Day bloggy peeps!

Of course it wouldn’t be a true holiday if I didn’t create some kind of fiendishly stressful deadline for myself by deciding I needed to make a gift for everyone in Knittymunchkin’s preschool class.  And never mind how, in the spirit of love and kindness, Knittymunchkin asked me to include everyone’s siblings as well.  How could I possibly shy away from showing him how much fun giving can be just ’cause I’d rather be doing something much more glamorous than crocheting 25 heart pockets out of dishcloth cotton?  Just kidding.  You know I totally love doing it. Why else would I suddenly be wondering what the hell I’m going to do with myself when he goes to kindergarten and I can’t possibly expect to actually make gifts for each kid for each and every holiday.  Heaven forbid I find an actual household chore to accomplish with my free time!

We filled these little heart pockets with a mini bag of m&m’s and a paper valentine that Knittymunchkin had picked out a couple weeks earlier.  Leave it to my son to eschew the Spiderman, Ninja Turtles, and even Phineas & Ferb valentines in favor of cute puppies and kitties.  But that’s Knittymunchkin for ya.  I actually think it’s pretty sweet.  And many of the parents thanked us after the school party for including the siblings in our gifting.  I don’t know about Knittymunchkin, but I felt pretty warm and fuzzy spreading the love around this Valentine’s Day.

Hope you and everyone you love is having a wonderful day today too!!