6

The Things We Do For Love

Perler Beads!

 

My son has recently discovered Minecraft.  I’m ashamed to say that I do let him play it on my ipad from time to time.  His will be a tech savvy generation, no? But I seriously do not understand the draw. The graphics suck and it seems jerky and, yes I’m being judgy – pointless. Early on I tried to figure out how to play because he was so frustrated trying to figure out how to do things on his own and wanted help. I thought maybe I could assist.  Ha ha!  Silly Moo Moo (Uptown’s special name for me)! Did you really think you could understand?  Come on. But leave it to my kid to teach himself everything he wanted to know by watching Kids’ Youtube videos (good thing people like publishing tutorials).  How can you fault a kid who knows what he wants and then goes and finds the answers for himself? I almost feel like letting him play is teaching him something. Seriously, the kid is nearly 6 and he can do this?  Oy.

Unfortunately it’s become a HUGE obsession.  Rarely does a statement issue from his mouth that does not include something about Creepers, Steve, Redstone, Endermen, or what happens when lava meets water in Minecraft world. I feel he’s barely scratched the surface of what you can do with the game (which is fine with me) and already I feel my eyes glaze over when he starts Minecraft speaking.  But I have found a way to make the Minecraft obsession a little more productive and a little less boring for me. Enter Perler Beads.

During the holidays, one of Uptown’s advent gifts was a small Perler kit of a penguin. Immediately, he wanted to make more.  I don’t know what it is about junky plastic stuff, but kids just love it. But the awesome thing about this activity is the fact that he is working on fine motor control, distinguishing shades of color, and counting.  I’ve heard these can even improve hand-eye coordination. And guess what?  Pinterest and the interwebz are positively swarming with free Minecraft patterns.  Yesterday I set him up with a few (here) and he just kept wanting to make more and more.  Fantastic!  We can satisfy the love for Minecraft without even touching the iPad.

Of course today I find myself huddled over a giant vat of Perler Beads (22,000 to be exact) sorting, sorting, sorting.  Because apparently that’s how I roll.  Do not give me something that needs to be categorized or sorted out, or I will obsessively work like a little monkey until that sh*t is done. Ah, the things we do for love.

As for my socks, they are coming along nicely as well.  I treated myself to a new pair of needles with my Loopy Ewe end of the year credit and I’m so glad I did.  These are 40″ Chiaogoo Lace circulars, size 1.5 and they rock out with their socks out!  WAY better than the Knit Picks fixed Harmony circulars I was using prior.  The joins are super smooth and the cord has very little memory (unlike the Knit Picks Harmonys) which makes knitting magic loop so much more enjoyable. My knitting motto this year is: Socks for ’16 and I have a feeling these will get me there.

 

Los Monos Locos

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4

What’s Up 2016?

Monkeys & Legos

Ah, hello Day 2 of the New Year! Or are you no longer new now that you are 2 days old? No matter.  I am still feeling the brand new optimism that comes from the arrival of a new year.

Lists and plans are still a thing of the future today.  I’ve got time and I will get down to business when I’m good and ready.  Today I am working on my first project of the new year and cooking my Mom a batch of my Dad’s spaghetti sauce.  It feels auspicious that I am doing both these things on the second day of the year.

The holidays always remind me of my Dad.  We would wait for all our favorite Christmas specials to come on TV after dinner. Hurry! Charlie Brown Christmas is starting! Now it’s all on demand, but back then we had to make sure we were planted in front of the TV on the proper channel or we’d miss out.  There was something special about not being able to pause or rewind our favorite specials.  You had to be present both physically and emotionally.  I kind of miss those days.  But mostly, I miss my Dad.  He passed away in 2009 and sometimes I almost forget he won’t answer the phone when I call or give me a whiskery kiss and tell me not to take any “wooden nickels.” But I keep him alive making his spaghetti sauce.  He taught me his “recipe” many years ago and I almost never cook it, choosing the speedy cheater method I’ve developed over years of college and young professional life rather than the low and slow day long approach his recipe requires.  A couple years ago I didn’t know what to give my Mom for Mother’s Day, so I decided to dig out my handwritten recipe from the cooking lesson Dad gave me so many years ago, and I made her a batch.  My Mom, notoriously hard to please with gifts, practically shed a tear.  You’d think I’d delivered the moon and stars. Today, I’m giving that gift again.  But really, it’s a gift for both of us. We both get to start the year with my Dad.

As for the socks, they’re auspicious too. I knit a pair of Cookie A’s Monkey socks a couple years ago and really enjoyed both the process and the result.  My plan (as yet fully unrevealed) for 2016 is to knit a lot of socks.  That’s all I’m really committing to you see: a lot. No specific number, no limiting myself to only socks this year….. why stress? But more on that later.  Anyway, back to the Monkey thing.  The pattern I cast on for is a version of the Monkey socks, but toe-up and purl-less.  It’s called Los Monos Locos and has been in my queue since April 2011 (!). Though I loved the Monkey pattern and really want a pair for myself, I thought it would be more fun to work on my queue at the same time I work on my sock problem er, goals.  So I cast on and guess what I discovered while surreptitiously slurping photos for my Ravelry project page?  The Chinese Astrology Year of the Monkey begins in February.

How’s that for auspicious?

1

One Thing At A Time

There’s a lot to be said for multi-tasking.  Women are supposed to be Jedi Masters of this particular skill.  And of course it’s helpful to be able to accomplish more than one thing at a time. You get so much more done!  Except when you don’t.  I’ve begun to feel that in some areas of my life, multi-tasking has actually caused me to complete less of my to-do lists than ever before.  Because I do just a little bit of each thing, I don’t ever really complete any task in its entirety, leaving me feeling like I’m running in place all the time.  Which, personally, I think pretty much sucks. I want to be able to look back on this year and say to myself, Good job self!  You really did a lot of great stuff this year!, instead of wondering where all the time went and why I have nothing to show for it.

So lets start with the knitting.  I told you last time that I wanted to finish up some UFO’s and complete at least 14 new projects from stash/queue this year.  I finished my first project in four days!  And I credit all of that to monogamous knitting.  Well, that and the fact that kids’ socks in worsted wool are just about the fastest thing out there to knit.

rye socks2

  • Pattern: Rye by tincanknits  (Ravelry link here)
  • Yarn:  Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love  in “Espresso” & Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal (blue)
  • Needles:  Sizes 3 & 5 circulars for Magic Loop
  • Mods:  None

I thoroughly enjoyed this pattern!  It’s simple, easy to memorize, & quick, but isn’t boring.  I also love that I can use scraps of worsted wools in my stash to make a few more pairs of these for Knittymunchkin before next fall.  They are a bit big right now, but I’d rather have them be too big than too small. It’s cool enough here even in summer for thick socks sometimes.

And here we go with my second project of the year…..

ruffles caston

This is my cast on photo for Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau using Madelinetosh Worsted in “Foxglove”, a yarn I received in 2009 as part of the Magnolia Society when Madelinetosh was still a relative unknown.  In addition to working from stash this year, I’ve decided that this is also the year that I must.knit.all.the.pretties.  I always save the “good stuff” for someday in the future, when I really should be enjoying it now.  What good does it do sitting in a tub for the next 20 years anyway? So I plunged in and dug this out and I’m loving knitting it up.  Maybe that’s the key.  If you knit with yarn you love, you’ll more likely stick to a project until it’s finished instead of relegating it to the UFO pile.  Food for thought.

Next up, I dig through my UFO pile to find my first project for the year…

11

It’s Me, Knittymuggins…..

Are you there blog?  It’s me, Knittymuggins.

Did you think I’d fallen off the face of the earth?  It’s been a busy spring & summer, everything sort of a mingled blur of preschool events, playdates, appointments, and trying to fill up the long summer hours without the whole preschool routine to rely on.

But, as I stepped out of my car yesterday morning, I could smell it: overripe blackberries, crushed, damp, foliage, and just the hint of a chill.  The smell I long for every year that tells me Autumn is coming; the season I yearn for.  Cool mornings and afternoons of warm, honeyed sunshine replace the white hot glare of summer, everywhere there are pumpkins, and my mood turns to contemplation.  The perfect time to start visiting this space again and sharing all my projects and thoughts with all of you lovely readers.

And boy is there a lot of knitting to share!  I have been a veritable knitting machine over the last few months.  It’s satisfying and rewarding and altogether necessary to survive life with a three year old.  Anyone who tells you that the twos are “terrible” hasn’t lived through the threes yet!  At least not the way things are going in our household.  That’s not to say that Knittymunchkin isn’t an angel 99% of the time.  But that last 1% can really stick it to you when you least expect it.

But you wanted some pretty pictures, didn’t you?  I thought so.  Here’s some of my latest FO’s with the bare minimum of details (you can check out specifics on my Ravelry project page).

And believe it or not, there’s more FO’s that I just haven’t had the chance to photograph yet!  But I hope to share those soon.

Hope your summer has been wonderful and that you are as excited about this autumn as I am!  I’m happy to be back :)

6

Sock Summit 2011 Day 2: July 29, 2011 – Class & Consumption

Poor Jess.  She was still on her “home time” (2 hours ahead) and I kept her up late talking about yarn and life and me me me.  For a shy person I can sure talk about myself too much.  Sheesh.  She still got up before me and I expected to hear her getting ready for her 9AM class, but instead she left the room.  Gulp.  Was I so annoying that she had to leave?  Did I snore all night?  I worry about this stuff.  But no, apparently she was up early due to that time difference thing and, polite as she is, she actually did some work (that’s a four letter word, yo!) in the lobby before coming back to get ready for class so as not to disturb me.  Too sweet.  I was up by then working on my homework for my Saturday afternoon Cookie A. class and it was still only about 7:30 AM.  I thought I’d find the time to sleep in once or twice while away, but apparently I’ve got my internal alarm clock set to Knittymunchkin time and it doesn’t reset no matter how many miles away I get.
 
Jess and I met Troy in the lobby and it was just a mere half hour before Jess’ first class.  We’d talked about walking to Voodoo Doughnuts which we thought had to be fairly close due to the frequent passing by of that most glorious of pink boxes containing warm frosted doughnutty deliciousness (or so we presumed, but we’d be schooled later).  But with Jess’ class imminent, we just decided to go to Burgerville again.  As if it wasn’t enough to have an eco-conscious burger joint nearby, it had to be one that served breakfast too.  I have to say, I’m impressed with the place!
 
Jess headed for class and Troy and I headed for the marketplace.  “Let’s just look around” turned into “Whoopee! Let’s go nuts and buy some YARN!”  At least for me.  We were very curious about the big fuss over Goth Socks.  Word on the street was that her stuff was one of the major draws for the massive line snaking around the convention center the night before.  Turns out, I think those rumors were right.  We headed to her booth first and I asked her about her stock.  Apparently they sold out between the night before and this morning.  As in everything that she brought was gone except for two measly little hanks of self-striping sock yarn.  Wowzers.  I ended up buying a super cute project bag there with bees on it (Oh how I ♥ bumblebees!) mainly because, after engaging her in conversation and then planning on walking away empty-handed, I felt kinda bad about wasting her time and figured the least I could do would be to buy something.  I am such a sucker.  But hey, I’ll use it.  It’s already holding my little sock yarn scraps and all my tools to make The Beekeeper’s Quilt.  So appropriate :)  I heard a lot of talk about The Sanguine Gryphon and The Plucky Knitter being big draws too, and if you gauged that by the sheer amount of people pressed into each booth, not to mention the rapidly disappearing stock, then I’d say it was true.  It’s kind of fun wondering who or what the next best thing will be.  Personally, I was really interested in Stricken Smitten and Sophie’s Toes and expect to hear more of a fuss about these dyers soon.
 

Ms. Newton And Her Friend


 
My first class of the summit was today at 11AM.  It was a one-hour lecture about dyeing yarn with Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ Tina Newton (also one of the co-creators of Sock Summit along with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee a.k.a Yarn Harlot).  It was entertaining and enlightening, though without prior dyeing experience, I don’t think I came away with much useful information.  I did feel inspired but also a little dejected.  That part of me that thought it might be a wonderful idea to start dyeing yarn and maybe someday doing something with the yarn I dye, like, oh maybe getting paid for it, has apparently been high on yarn fumes all this time.  Dyeing is hard work.  And it’s time consuming, and you have to love it.  Not to mention, you have to be good at it or people won’t buy it.  It’s o.k. to have dreams, but I suppose they have to be achievable.  Maybe we’ll just sleep on this one for a while.
 
After the lecture I didn’t have enough time to go back to the hotel so I went on a huge shopping binge in the marketplace.  With no witnesses to stay my hand I powered my way through the booths in a shocking flurry of cash and credit.  And I won’t lie.  It felt good.  It takes a lot of energy to blow through so much money at once, so I needed to refuel before my 1:30 PM class and bought a sandwich at the little lunch counter inside the convention center.  It took forever so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are in dire need like I was.  Sandwich finally in hand, I headed for my next 3 hour class: Judy’s Magic Heels.
 
This class was a revelation. Seriously, I shit you not.  A flap heel without picking up any stitches or working any short rows.  Sheer genius!  Well sheer magic, really.  Judy was an excellent teacher. Friendly, knowledgeable, approachable and patient.  I highly recommend her class should you ever have the chance at another Sock Summit.  I, for one, will be most definitely trying these heels on the next pair of socks I start.
 
Troy met me in the conference room as class ended. He’d had a class himself during the same time frame, in a room just adjacent. We went back to the marketplace and texted Jess back and forth until we caught up with her.  We all had tickets to the Sock Hop which would be later in the evening, and decided that maybe we needed to have a little dinner first and that perhaps it was time to explore a bit further afield.  What would follow would be an epic struggle to find sustenance in a mysterious concrete labyrinth filled with sketchy-looking locals, firearms dealers, and forlorn shopfronts.
 
O.K.  I’m kidding.  Well, a little.  I believe Jess actually referred to it as “The Death March”.  We were most certainly not prepared for the trek we ended up having to take.  Guess we took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and got ourselves all turned around somehow.  I don’t know about Jess but personally, as a woman, I get nervous walking around places I’m not familiar with.  Especially as the more populated areas drop away and you find yourself in something industrial or when you see a sign that is clearly advertising pawn items and firearms.  Not to mention, when you are clearly not dressed for hoofing it, are carrying a knitting bag the size of Texas, and look really scared.  Which I was trying not to do.  Thanks to Jess’ map function on her smartphone, we finally managed to get turned around and happened onto the restaurant she had enjoyed the night before we arrived: The Farm Cafe.  It couldn’t have materialized at a better time.  We were hot, tired, and ready to end our journey.  I felt badly that Jess would be eating here a second time, but she seemed enthusiastic about the food and probably more than ready to eat too.  We all had pretty much the same thing.  Green Salad (two orders were enough to share between the three of us) and Goat Cheese Ravioli.  It was well worth the journey and the wait.  This was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had in my life.  And from the “mmm’s” and general hush at the table, I think Troy and Jess concurred.
 

The Farm Cafe's Goat Cheese Ravioli


 
Perhaps it was the company, or all the energy I burned learning, knitting, shopping, and walking today, but I actually suggested ordering dessert.  I never do this.  But it felt good to linger in Troy and Jess’ company and having something sweet is almost always one of life’s biggest priorities (in my book).  So we each ordered something different and then shared tastes around the table.  Jess ordered the Sunken Chocolate Souffle, Troy ordered the Marscapone Cheesecake with Pecans and Dulce De Leche Sauce, and I ordered a seasonal Rhubarb Crisp.  Heavenly.  All of it!  I savored each bite and the simple joy of being among friends sharing a meal and conversation.
 
Tonight’s final event was the Sock Hop.  It was already in full swing when we dropped in after the much shorter walk (going the correct direction this time) back from the restaurant.  None of us had costumes, though to give Troy and Jess credit, I believe they had each brought something.  Yet again we realized we’d paid for hors d’ oeuvres included in the price of our tickets.  But I don’t think a single one of us would take back our meal at The Farm Cafe to eat deli meats and crackers and cheese, no matter how nice those snacks probably were.  After a few minutes we decided to ditch the party and go back to the lobby of our hotel for some knitting and drinks.  None of us had spent much time knitting yet and it sounded much more appealing at the moment than checking out everyone else’s costumes at the hop, no matter how fun and nostalgic the music was.
 
We stayed up late, knitting, drinking and just hanging out.  It was a wonderful end to a jam packed day!

8

Growing

Though I woke to a blanket of snow the morning before yesterday, I sense the quickening of spring in the air around me.  I hear it in the song of birds returned, smell it on the softening breeze, and feel it in the sun upon my face.  The time for growth is soon at hand.
 
Knittymunchkin has most certainly felt it too.  He is walking like a professional and exploring his world from the moment he wakes, until the last minutes of the day, snuggled in my arms before bedtime.  He has learned his first word (“Mama”) and I think my heart might explode every time I hear him say it.
 

My sweet little man!


 
Renewed interest in my garden has swelled up from somewhere deep inside of me.  After an entire season of neglect, I have a lot of work ahead of me to get things back in order.  R. Darling insisted on buying me the composter I kept looking at, and keeps encouraging me to give it a try as I waffle over whether it was a good decision or not.  Growing up with a mother who composted the “cheap” way, I got a little grossed out by the piles of food waste that littered the yard in various locations throughout the years.  Though I couldn’t deny my mom knew what she was doing, I always felt there must be a better, i.e. cleaner, way to do the whole thing.  Lucky for me, composting is back in vogue and there are lots of options.  Perhaps next year we’ll put in the raised beds for vegetables that I’ve been wanting for a while and with a little work maybe the dahlias I’ve been craving too.  But for now, I’ve started some zinnia and poppy seeds in my upstairs bathroom window and I can’t wait to see them blooming this summer.
 

Birth of a zinnia


 
Perhaps you’ve noticed the array of socks being added to my Ravelry queue lately.  Maybe it was finally finishing my Jaywalkers, the fact that I’ll be attending Sock Summit 2011 this summer (are you going too? let me know!), or the fact that I still have 15 lbs. to lose and just cannot justify knitting a sweater for a weight I don’t want to be, but whatever it is, I have sock fever!  Good thing I’ve got a stash that’s fit to burst with fingering yarns.  I’m thinking a pair of Leyburn socks in Hazel Knits’ Cami Chic or perhaps the it’s time to jump on the Monkey Sock bandwagon.
 

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in "Cami Chic"


 
I decided it is also about time I take the leap into the unknown and put some effort into a dream I’ve had for many years now.  I’m going to start with something small and manageable and enter this writing contest.  I am, of course, fraught with fears.  What if no one wants to hear my life story?  Do I have a life story worth sharing?  What do I write about?  What if I suck?  What if I don’t win?  But worse:  what if I never even try?  I feel the opportunities to achieve what I want in my life becoming fewer and fewer as the years pass me by.  As Yoda would say, “Do or do not.  There is no try.”
 
So you see, I’m growing too.

13

Cursed Be Those Who Jaywalk In Stinky Love Socks

Arrrrrrrrrrrrr!  I feel like I should write the rest of this post in Pirate Speak.
 
The Jaywalker curse is over!  Man, it feels like I’ve been working on these stupid socks for forevah.  These have traveled with me to Vegas (twice, I think) and to my babymoon on Maui.  And they just never seemed to get finished no matter how hard I tried.  After their first visit to Vegas, I finished 3/4 of the first sock, only to find that it wouldn’t fit over my giant-ass foot.  It took a while (over a year) for me to suck it up and rip out round after round of those teeny tiny stitches that I had slaved over toothpick-sized needles to produce.  And after that, it took me even longer (another year) to work up the courage to cast on again.  My gauge was off the first time, and many more times, before I figured out the ideal combination of sizing and attractiveness.  I noticed that the yarn I used (Knitterly Things Vesper Sock) looks more pleasing when knit on a smaller needle, so I had to knit a larger size than I normally would to get it to fit right.  On this second go-round I also decided to knit my socks using Magic Loop and it definitely went faster once I got all the gauge bugs ironed out.  Now that I’ve learned Magic Loop, I’m a bit of a Magic Loop snob and fairly grit my teeth if I actually have to bust out dpn’s for anything.
 

 
This is my very first finished pair of socks made from Knitterly Things Vesper Sock Yarn.  See, up there I let you in on a little secret with that link.  Shhhhh….. don’t tell everyone!  Her stuff has already gotten harder to get now that she’s been featured in some of the big knitting magazines.  She does really small updates maybe once a week, just a couple hanks of a couple of her signature colors, and a sock club.  Lucky for me, I managed to collect most of the colors I wanted before I quit my paying job to become Chief Procurer/Entertainer/Cook/Laundress for the Overlord Of Cute (Knittymunchkin).  I did keep up with the yarn club though, so my collection is still growing.
 
Glamour Magazine has been telling me for over a year now that it’s cool to wear socks with your heels.  Since my fancy shoes never see the light of day anymore (not that they had much of a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing it before Knittymunchkin either) I busted them out for my photo shoot.  I couldn’t rock the socks and heels look in real life, but I rocked it even less when taking these photos.  You should have seen me stumping around the house with my sweatpants rolled up and my fancy shoes and socks on, trying to balance the mirror just so, in order to get that one decent shot.  I know, I should probably try to maintain my aura of mystery and tell you I photographed this in some glitzy cafe whilst twirling my glossy hair around my finger, sipping coffee and looking glamorous, but hey, I haz to keep it real, yo.
 
So, ta da!  Finally we bid adieu to another achingly ancient UFO….
 

 

  • Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina  (Ravelry link here; My Ravelry project link here)
  • Yarn:  Approximately 442 yds of Knitterly Things Vesper Sock Yarn in “Love Stinks (Yeah, Yeah)”
  • Needles:  40 inch Size 1 Knit Picks Harmony circulars
  • Mods:  None, except to work pattern using Magic Loop instead of dpn’s

 
OMG.  SO loving these socks!  I got all OCD and made sure the striping matched up when starting the second sock.  This required me to rip out my knitting several times and actually rewind the ball of yarn in the opposite direction.  But it was worth it because they are a perfect match.  The fit of these socks is amazing.  It really is a “snug droop-less” fit like she says.  The only thing I wasn’t super happy about was the toe.  I mean it looks fine and everything, but it feels a little uncomfortable.  Kind of binding for me.  Maybe something a little more rounded would feel better?  Something to consider for next time.  I think I might actually make another pair someday.  Be sure to look for that post sometime in 2015 ;)