Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain)


So I have been having a whirlwind of changes happen in my life over the last couple of months! You can always tell when life is overwhelming me, as my Blog becomes neglected! So here is the quick and dirty version of what has happened over the last few months.

I don't think I have mentioned much about this in my Blog, but I was laid off from my job this summer. I won't go into a ton of detail, but I had been in my last company for over 12 years, and it was quite a surprise. They gave us about two months notice at the job and then I was out of work about two months before I started my new job. So that was all very stressful on about 14 levels. My new job is fabulous and I am REALLY happy there, but it's a huge change for me. I went from retail to a hardcore business environment. Change to how I dress (no more jeans!), and my commute (half the distance!) and my parking (what do you mean I have to PAY to park?!?!), and I could go on and on here. But now here I am, in my new job, in a company that I REALLY love, with wonderful wonderful people. Very happy on that front and so pleased to be finishing out 2014 in a job that I  love and with potential for me to grow in.

I also decided to take a break from school. I was actually in classes up until a couple weeks ago, and I finally decided I was just to overwhelmed and I wanted to take a break, focus on getting up to speed in my new job, and then reevaluate what I want to do with my education. So I withdrew from my HTML class a couple of weeks back, and am just focusing on my job at this time. It is strange to not be focused on my studies! I had been in some form of school for the last 2 years - so it's just like hearing the silence after a storm. Strange!

So! In terms of crafty stuff, I have been getting some knitting done. Most of what I have completed since I last wrote has been for Pine Ridge. I found a group on Ravelry called "For the Children of Pine Ridge" and I have been working on hats, scarves and mittens for a school on the reservation.

Here is what I sent over the last month or so:

My First box included 7 knit hats and 4 crocheted scarves.I am not overly skilled at the crochet yet, so this was a good way to practice and do some good as well. The hats I made using 3 different patterns I found on Ravelry.

1. Erich's A&F Knockoff Hat by Eboni A. Johnson

These knit quick on size 15 needles and the yarn was Lion Brand Hometown USA that I had floating around. My notes on these can be found HERE if you want more detail. They were fast and fun - and this pattern is a staple for me. Works on almost everyone and it's fast and easy.

2. Basic Hat / Radiant Hat by Lion Brand Yarn

 An easy pattern and free from Lion Brand. Used Hometown USA again and size 15 needles again. My notes on this hat can be found HERE if you want more detail.

3.The Vermonter by Abi Gregorio

Same yarn as the other hats, but we switched it up and went with size 11 needles on these babies and I opted to skip the pompom's. My more detailed notes can once again be found HERE if you need more info.

The next box I sent out had three scarves, a pair of mittens, and a bunch of stuff my mom contributed.

The scarves I made were crochet stash busting once again:

 And the mittens were made following one of my favorite patterns:
Warmest Mittens by Kris Percival.  
These were knit with Farmhouse Yarns Andy's Merino that I had had in my stash for years. If you want more details on how I made these, head HERE once again. (I always try and take good notes for my Ravelry Project pages!)

So that is what I have been getting done on the knitting front. I am going to work on getting blogging back into my life as I really missed it! Hope this finds any and all readers out there in good health. 
Happy crafting people!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Finished Object: Fall over you

Needle: Size 4 40" circular {Magic Loop with afterthought heel}
Project Name: Fall over you
Yarn: Patons North America Classic Wool Merino in Colorway Harvest - 1 Skein

These knit up super fast! Just over two weeks and they are complete. Love how fast they were and they are really thick and warm - so I suspect I will be wearing these when I am shoveling snow this winter.

These are an amalgamation of several patterns I have used and kind of a standard pattern I use now.

I prefer magic loop at this point with one long circular need, top down, one at a time.

Since this was worsted weight yarn and knit it on size 4 needles I knew it would be dense, so I cast on 48 sts over two needles, removed one needle, and then began the ribbing.

I did the ribbing for three inches, then five inches of stockinette before placing the waste yarn.

Here is a photo that shows the waste yarn knit in. The first time I chose a yarn that blended with the socks a little too well, so I got smart and found a higher contrast yarn the second time.

I always make my heel before I get to the toe, so that I can try on the sock and fit it perfectly as I go.

For this sock I added the heel after I had knit about five inches past the waste yarn, then I try on the sock and see where it is sitting on my toe area. I generally like it to be around the top of my pinky toe before I start my decreases.

I take notes as I go through my first sock and try to duplicate it on my second. I do not count rows, so my socks are not a perfect match ever. But I get close and the notes help make it so my heels are not funky. (Although I have indeed made socks and accidentally put a different heel in the second sock. Doh!)

I am really happy with these socks and I have already ordered a pair of liners for (Fox River Wick Dry Coolmax Liner Socks off of Amazon) so that if my feet sweat when I wear these the liners will wick that sweat away and keep my feet warmer.

I am pretty sure I will be turning to these this winter when I am shoveling all that Minnesota snow.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Finished Object: Tropical Feet Wave

Pattern: How I Make Worsted Weight Socks by Susan B. Anderson
Needle: Size 4 double Points
Project Name: Tropical Feet Wave
Yarn: Mountain Colors Twizzle in Springtime (MC) & Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Worsted in Bud Green

I am in love with these socks! They knit up so fast on size 4 needles with worsted weight yarn. I love the silky feel of the Twizzle (85% Merino, 15% Silk content) and I think the Nashua (75% Wool, 25% Alpaca) is a nice contrast texturally to the Twizzle. This was my first time knitting a contrast yarn on the ankle/heel/toe

The ribbing on the ankle is Knit 3, Purl 1, which is different for me and I really like it. The socks are snug - but in a good way. Comfortable and not bunchy.

I had never used this pattern before and I found it was more of a guide than a tutorial. Meaning - I followed it along with her How I Make My Socks pattern (which is for fingering weight rather than worsted) and I also used my go to Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,
and my own sock knitting experience thrown in to boot.

I am just happy as a pig in mud about these socks and I suspect they will get much wear this fall and winter. They are dense and warm and modeling them in 80°F temps was sticky and unpleasant, so I know when the fall weather arrives I will be seeking these out.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The urge for Christmas Socks

I want to knit a pair of Christmas socks. Not really sure why, but I just want them. I want to knit them. I want to wear them. So I went in search of Christmas Sock Yarn. I checked GnomeAcres first as I really like that shop and she has some wonderful Halloween yarn. But when I watched her podcast she said she was not going to make Christmas yarn for awhile - and since I am a pretty slow knitter I guess I will not be buying any Christmas yarn from her. Unless I want it for the next season.(Boooooooooooo!)

So then I went to Etsy and started searching for Fingering Weight Christmas yarn. After some digging I was able to find LolaDoodles shop and she is selling a yarn called Christmas in Vermont. This looked like a winner!

The price was reasonable and the shipping was also very reasonable. It showed up in just a couple days with a nice note. The colors where much more muted in person than I was expecting, but I am still pretty happy with what I got. If I am being really honest - I want the colors I saw on my computer screen a lot more than the colors I got - but I know that is the risk of buying yarn online. And also why its good to buy a single item from a new vendor, you get to test the waters and see how true their portrayal of their product is.

So overall I am pretty excited. I think this is more of a winter colorway rather than a Christmas colorway, and I am not sure if it will cure my need for Christmas Socks, but I suspect I would wear this all winter and not just up to Dec. 25th!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Finished Object: Don't tread[mill] on me Socks

I finished my Don't tread[mill] on me socks!

: 235 yards of Knit Picks Felici Sport Self Striping in the color "Depths". 
Needle: US 2 - 2.75 mm
Pattern: Loosely based on Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee with an afterthought heel.
With all the mistakes and craziness of these socks I was thinking they would be shoved in a sock drawer and forgot about when I finished them, but when I tried them both on together I found I actually really liked them! They are cozy and comfortable and even though they are kind of a mess, I am thinking they will be great with jeans this fall/winter.  

I did some of the ribbing and most of the knitting on the treadmill. I think I figured out at one point I was getting about an inch and a half of knitting done in a session on the treadmill, and I walk fairly slowly, so about three miles of walking for an inch and a half of knitting. 

I am learning more and more about sock knitting and am getting better at picking up the stitches for the afterthought heel. The first sock I did pick up the wrong leg of the knit stitch all the way across the foot. It was really hard knitting and it twisted the stitches across the ankle .

And I don't know what I was thinking on those toe decreases, but when I put them on they felt good and they are really comfortable, so I guess all the weirdness is forgiven. I learned a lot about sock construction and what works for me, and got a bunch of miles on my treadmill to boot, so I guess it's a win win!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My Three Socks

I currently have three pair of socks on the needles all in various states of doneness and all in different yarn weights. So I thought I would post about my progress a little bit.

1. Don't tread[mill] on me

These are my Sport Weight socks and I have knit them largely while walking on the tread mill. I knit heels and toes when I am sitting comfortably somewhere with good light and Internet access. I still need directions for the afterthought heel and suspect I always will. I am finished with sock one and am inserting the heel on sock two at this point. It looks a hot mess - but I have a system. Since I cast on the heel before I do the toe, I take the working yarn (on the toe end) and ball it into the sock and hold it there with my working double point. Then I work the heel with a circular needle using magic loop. This works really well for me. So once I finish the heel I will try it on for length, and then knit the few more rows I suspect I will need to do and then I can try and duplicate the very odd toe decrease I did on the first sock. 

This is knit with fingering weight yarn and, just like the last sock, I had a standard heel in it and ended up ripping back and going with an afterthought heel. When I did the frogging on this sock I ended up keeping the circular needle in it and have been knitting this magic loop ever since. I am getting close to where the toe needs to be placed, so I will need to insert the heel so I can get the toe placement right. I know I need to be about 5½ inches past my life line in order to get the toe right, but I never trust my measurements and prefer to knit to fit (try on try on try on) to be sure. I think partly because I am knitting so many socks in different weights and I am still fairly new to sock knitting. 

This is still sock 1 and I have been knitting this on the treadmill as well. At this point I think I have done all I can on the treadmill with this - so I really need to insert the heel and measure so I can finish it up and move on to sock 2. 

And this is my worsted weight sock. Singular. As in - one down one to go. I have to say I am super in love with this sock and am anxious to finish these up. This is the first time I have knit socks with a contrast color for the toe/heel/cuff and I really like it. I like the look and I like the yarn I chose. The only bugger was more ends to sew in, but small price to pay. I think these will really keep me warm this winter. 

So that is my sock status. I make progress on one or more every day right now as I am hitting the treadmill every day. I thought I would have plenty of time at time for heel and toe additions, but I am backing up in that department. I am thinking rather seriously about casting on another pair. I am almost done with the blue socks, I have a lot of toe/heel work to do on the green ones, and I am not really keen on knitting the worsted weight socks on the treadmill for some reason. I knit those while couch surfing and while grilling in the yard - so it seems wrong to get them involved with the treadmill for some reason. 

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Finished Project: Socksocksocksocksock

I finished another pair of socks! YAY! This is the second pair I finished this year. GO ME!

Pattern: Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Project: Socksocksocksocksock
Cast on: June 15, 2014
Bind off: July 30, 2014
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Building Blocks (288 yards)
Needle: Size 2 Double Points

Am in love with them. This yarn is great and I love striping socks and I love the colors in these socks. I wish this yarn had not been discontinued! The only bummer about this project is that the second skein of yarn had dye speckles throughout the skein, so there was some sort of heathering/speckled look. Kind of tweedy.

The above picture shows what I mean. There was dye splotches through out this skein. Annoying - but I didn't notice it until I was well into the sock and I was NOT going to rip it back at that point!

As much as I love these socks, I am even more in favor of doing an afterthought heel in self-striping yarn. The heels look fine (I did Eye of Partridge), but I really like how an afterthought works with the striping yarn. You don't get the thin stripes around the ankle like you do when you work a more standard heel. But all in love, I consider these a success and am quite pleased!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't tread[mill] on me - UPDATE

 I thought I would talk about the progress I have made on my "Don't tread[mill] on me" socks. And by progress I really mean I want to talk about how to rip out a heel! Yes. I decided to rip out my heel on these socks and go with an afterthought heel. 

Part of the reason for this is that I am knitting these socks in Sport weight yarn rather than Fingering weight yarn, so I cast on 56 stitches rather than 64 stitches. All fine and dandy, but when I got to the heel area I got a little confused about counts, took poor notes as I went, and realized after I finished the heel that duplicating a "lets just wing it!" heel on a second sock a week or two later would be a bit of a challenge. Especially if I want the fit and look to be similar. So here is my journey to Frog Town. 

Above is the heel completed. I went with eye of partridge for the heel - which I think is very pretty and I like the weight of it. I also think the eye of partridge heel is a bit easier to pick of stitches with. 

I grabbed a circular needle one size smaller than my working needle (a size 1 in this case) and a couple of rows below the heel I went around the entire sock picking up the right leg of each stitch.

And here you see all stitches picked up on the circular needle. It looks a bit messy with the double points still in, the circular needle, and the line of yarn, but it will look a lot neater in a minute! 

Here is a close up of the picked up stitches before the frogging. The legs on the needle are right slanting and there were no gaps. If you see a gap in the stitches as you pick up you want to make sure you didn't miss a stitch. I also count all the stitches when I am done to make sure I have the correct amount. It should match your cast on count unless you increase or decrease for fit or a pattern.

Here we see the Double Point needles have been pulled out and the frogging has begun!

 And here is my frog pond (pile of ripped out yarn) and my frogging stopped at the stitches I picked up on my circular needle, which acted as a life-line. You will see I use the plastic clip from a bread bag as a bobbin for my yarn left over from my cast on. This keeps the yarn from tangling and fuzzing up while I am knitting my sock, and when I am finished I have a nice length to weave in.

At this point I measured the length of my stockinette section to see if I was at a distance that would be easy to duplicate on the second sock. I was at a nice even four inches, so I was good to insert waste yarn for the afterthought heel.

I found a contrasting color of yarn in the same weight (there is no yellow in this sock) and knit on half the length of the stitches (cast on 56 / 2 = 28 stitches) and then I started knitting at the same spot I picked up the first yellow stitch from with the sock yarn as though I never knit that yellow line. 

This picture is a little blurry, but you can see the blue line of stitches I knit right over the top of the yellow stitches. You just keep knitting like normal from this point until you reach your toe decreases. Which means I have several inches of stockinette to knit on the treadmill! Yay!

I think afterthought heels are the way to go for treadmill knitting - as you just have to insert a piece of waste yarn at the spot you want the heel, and the bulk of the knitting is stockinette - no messy picking up stitches. I can knit like a crazed beast, and then do the toe decreases and the afterthought heel at night before bed for my "down time". I also really like how afterthought heels look with striped yarn. 

I did place the yarn back on the double point needles I was using since I wanted my sock to be the same tension throughout the sock, and since I used a circular needle one size down from my double points to pick of the stitches. 

Now I am ready for the tread mill!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Don't tread[mill] on me

I am a fan of knitting on the treadmill. And over the last year or so I have become a bit obsessed with knitting socks. You see where this is going don't you???

So I started knitting these socks on the treadmill. I cast on and got the ribbing started, then I hopped on the treadmill and ribbed until I thought it looked like enough ribbing, and then switched to stockinette.

Session 2 was just knit knit knit - walk walk walk. I think I can get one more treadmill session in the ankle before I will start the heel.

I can't see myself making the heel flap and picking up stitches while walking on the tread mill, so I think after the next session I will have to knit the heel when I am couch surfing, and then when I get the heel done I can get a couple more sessions out of these on the treadmill before I make the toe.

Since I have to have the socks out of treadmill rotation while making heels and toes (at least until I become a sock knitting ninja), I think I will try and have a couple pairs of socks going so I will always have something I can work on while walking.

And yes - I have sweat dripping off my elbows while I am knitting. Because my arms are bent, the sweat never hits the socks or yarn. Satisfying to be knitting away and dripping sweat! And I walk longer because I am enjoying the knitting and not as focused on the time or the miles. I am not seeing a downside to this!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Progress report - Socksocksocksocksock

I am trucking along on my "Socksocksocksocksock" socks. I am trying to knit a stripe a night while unwinding before bed. I think I have another stripe or two and then I can make with the toe decreases. Happy to be making progress!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Project name: Ghoul School
Pattern: Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock
Yarn: GnomeAcres Sparkle Gnome Fingering/Sock in “Smell My Feet”
(You can find Gnome Acres shop HERE)
Needles: Size 2 (2.75 mm) Double Points
Start Date: August 25 2013
Finished: July 6 2014

So much went wrong with these socks - honestly I am just happy to have them done.

♦ Lost notes for Sock one - so had to largely eye ball sock two. YIKES.
♦ I kneeled on one of my needles - so I had to knit a large portion of sock two with one bent needle.
(see the bent needle there? It felt WEIRD to knit every round with one needle bent!)

♦ The yarn on sock two started to feel brittle about two inches past the heel. My feeling is that it was over-dyed and I am a little concerned it will wear poorly.
♦ I forgot I did eye of partridge heel on sock 1 - and did a standard heel on sock 2. Yup - these socks have two different heels. Nice.

♦ The pooling on sock one is vastly different from the pooling on sock two. Is it because I knit these over a year? Is it the yarn? Is it my heel snafu? No idea.

And the fit is just a tiny bit looser than I like.Which is a bummer as I actually did a swatch and did math to get the right fit - debated the needle size and then let the math decide to go with a 2 rather than a 1. If I knit these again in this yarn I would probably use a size 1 needle just to get a bit snugger fit.

I am not in love with these - but have a sense of relief that they are off the needles and finally completed. I wanted a pair of fun socks for fall and Halloween - and I think these fit the bill.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I have been knitting! YAY! So right now I have three pairs of socks on the needles. I thought I would talk about this pair today. I named the socks "Socksocksocksocksock" because when you cast on a third pair of socks, you know this is the chant running through your head. Obsessed much? Naaaaw.

So the pattern I have been using is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock. 
I love this recipe - it's well written and it's my go to sock pattern for a good, basic sock. 

The yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Building Blocks. Sadly this is discontinued - but it's a great yarn! I stocked up on it when it was clearanced out.  

Needles: US 2 - 2.75 mm double points.

I cast on 64 stitches over two double points held together to give it some room. You don't want a tight cuff! Then I knit 2x2 rib back and forth for two rows before joining in the round. This allows for the join to not get twisted. For some reason I struggle with joining socks in the round. Not sure if it is the ribbing or what? When I am done I just use the tail to join up that little gap.

I knit the 2x2 ribbing for 1½ inches and then knit 3 inches in stockinette before I hit the heel. 

For the heel I am favoring Eye of Partridge, I think it looks nice and I find the stitches are a bit neater to pick up when I use that heel. On this pair I knit 32 stitches before I start the heel stitches on the last 32 stitches remaining. I did this partly because the blue stripe I was knitting when I got to the heel was only two rounds in, and I wanted one more row of that stripe on the sock to make that stripe a little more substantial.

 So this is where I am at. I dropped a stitch when I was working the heel - so the pattern is a little funky, but I am OK with such things. I really love this yarn and I think I am going to love these socks when they are finished.

I was able to knit a little bit of them on the tread mill which I find really exciting as well! I don't think I would try the complicated bits, like picking up stitches or decrease rows on the tread mill, but I had no problem with the ribbing and the stockinette portion while I was walking, so that is happy news. Knowing I can work on portions of my socks while walking may mean an increase in sock production!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stormy Weather

I live in Minnesota and we have some pretty crazy weather here. This past winter was one of the coldest and most miserable.  This June we are full of floods and heavy rain, and it looks like we are going to have our wettest June in recorded history.

Last night after yet another round of heavy rain blew through we had the most amazing pink sunset and this huge Rainbow was out in the sky. It was actually a double rainbow - hard to see the second one in these pictures - but it was just amazing. I stood outside, swatting mosquitoes the size of dump trucks, and tried to capture the magic on my camera. It was so pretty!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Monarch Butterfly

FINALLY I have gotten to do a little gardening. Not much  - lack of funds and lack of time and too much rain have made it a challenge, but I have added a few things and made myself happy with how things are looking. I was popping some flowers in my bird-bath garden and found a few monarch caterpillars on the milkweed. Nice to have the garden support butterflies AND birds. And since the milkweed showed up courtesy of the birds - it's kind of cool. Circle of life and all that.

All the rain means we have lots of REALLY big mushrooms in our yard right now. We have lots of varieties and they are all over the place. They seem to pop up over night and you can see them from inside the house. They are big and I wonder if smurfs will show up next?

So nice to be out in the yard again!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Shepherd's Harvest Festival 2014

The Shepherd's Harvest Festival is an annual event held at the Washington County Fairgrounds near Lake Elmo, MN and I have gone for the last four years. It was me and my mom hitting the festival again this year. I like to get there when it opens on the first non-class day so I get to see the most amount of yarn and wares from the vendors. (Greedy little yarn diva that I am - I don't want to miss a thing with building up my yarn stash!) 

This year we decided to start in the last building first as that building tends to get high traffic and is hard to maneuver, and that is all because of the gentleman above who graciously welcomed me and my mom when we walked in the door. That is StevenBe who is also known as The Glitter Knitter and he is just the warmest, kindest person. He is doing a tour this summer across America with Stephen West and my head kind of explodes to even think of that level of awesome combining. (Ok - Enough with the fan girl!)

So the festival this year had three buildings set up for vendors rather than four, so it did feel a little scaled back to me. This is also the first year that they charged for entry, so I thought that was interesting. Frankly I think they should have charged all along as it is such a wonderful festival, and anything that they can do to sustain it is good with me!

There were spinners here and there, like this gentleman from the Blackberry Hills booth. So fun to watch! This was a busy booth and is you can see behind where he is spinning, they had some gorgeous handmade shawls for sale along with their other items. The shawls were just beautiful!

This is another example of a vendor booth. So much yarn and fiber goodness! This was at the entrance to one of the buildings and had great light and you pretty much just walked right in to an explosion of color and fiber fun when you walked into the building. So awesome.

Although I am not much for fleece, I do appreciate what it gets turned into, so that makes me like the fleece even if I have no use for it. (I WILL NOT SPIN! If I keep saying that it will be true, right?) It was pretty much impossible to walk buy a bag of fleece and not plunge your hands into it.

Here is a picture of me holding the reins of Lonnie the Llama. Lonnie is about 8 years old according to his human and he was so majestic. We were walking across the fair grounds and I spotted him and had to go meet him. My mom snapped this shot of me grinning wildly up at Lonnie. I just wanted to hug him and take him home!

After meeting Lonnie we headed over to the critter barn and got to see some llama's and alpaca's. It is always so fun to get up close to these guys and see them in touching distance.

Next we were off to the Sheep shearing which was just impressive. This gentleman can shear a sheep in no time and we watched him shear several breeds of sheep and learned a lot about the sheep as well.  Really neat!

So I managed to control my splurging this year better than years past. This is the haul I came home with. Some ridiculously reduced price yarns at one booth - like the Boku and the Nashua yarn. The white skeins are 100% alpaca from a vendor that I search out for at this festival every year. Really nice guy and the yarn is like touching heaven. Am quite pleased with my stash enhancements this year and also proud that I controlled myself a little bit.

My other bit of wonderful I picked up is this mug. Both me and my mom got the same mug and I use it all the time. It makes me smile every time I see it and it's just a fun addition to my festival memories.

All in all it was just a wonderful time. I love going to this festival and it was great fun spending the day with my mom and touching fiber and talking yarn and eating deep fried egg roles while sitting in the grass and watching the people with all their hand knit items being worn (quite a fashion show!) while they walked the fair grounds. I look forward to this every year and it's just something special.
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