Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Road Ahead

It's hard to believe we're almost ready to ring in the new year, and it's exciting to contemplate the coming year.

2014 was the hardest year of my life, so by comparison 2015 was manageable.  It's important to pause, and this past year I savored many moments along the way.   

It's always good to keep the road in front of you.  In 2015 there were still plenty of bumps and curves, but I never landed in the ditch. Sometimes we measure our accomplishments by what didn't happen instead of what did.  It's all a matter of perspective.

Who knows what this crazy world has in store for 2016.  Look ahead, keep your eyes on the road and enjoy the ride.  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No More Napping

I've made up my mind to be done with this lingering cold.  My endless stockinette stitch project has reached a point where I have to pay attention.  That means all the knitting I did while I was "resting" has paid off.

It also means now I can't nod off while I'm working on it.  I've reached the armhole edges, and it's time for a little I-cord bind off.  See arrow.  

I can't be drifting in and out of sleep while I do this.  Last night I had to rip out one row because I wasn't paying attention.  At that point I called it a day and went to bed.  This morning I'm refreshed and 
ready . . . ready for I-cord.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holiday Lull

I hope everyone had a delightful long holiday weekend.  We had a stress-free celebration with plenty of food, drink, sweets and presents. On Christmas Day I was cutting it close on some of the cooking.  By that I mean I completely forgot I had to cook some items for the main meal.  My daughters rose to the occasion and divvied up the work while I issued instructions.  Thanks to the girls, it all worked out in the end.

The cold I've had for two weeks continued to plague me throughout the weekend.  I had planned on a relaxing weekend with plenty of knitting time, but instead I did more napping than knitting.  I spent most of my knitting time with a stockinette project - perfect for nodding off 

This is what I really wanted to be working on.

It's a sweet little lace project.  I got it up and running only to realize that keeping track of the pattern was going to make my head explode. I scheduled a quiet work week between Christmas and New Year's Day.  This project will come in handy.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Cheer

More than once this morning I heard the phrase, "Mom, you still have a lot of work to do."  Yes, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes, the vacuum cleaner should be running on a continuous loop and the dining room table is buried.  

The kids scattered to all their various activities, and I'll pull everything together on the home front.  But first I took a few minutes for this.

These are for a couple of the post-holiday projects I have planned.  I could have wound more, but this is all I needed to take the edge off. Tomorrow when the dust settles, I'll be ready.

Holiday cheer to those who celebrate.  Maybe your festivities be merry and bright.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's a Start

This morning I've been making my last shopping list.  I have to venture out for one final run to the grocery stores.  I'm not looking forward to the traffic, the parking, the lines and the general chaos. Maybe after another cup of coffee I'll feel better about the situation.

When I went to bed last night, there was all sorts of activity in the kitchen.  This is the sight that greeted me in the morning.

My daughter was the cookie elf.  She got this whole baking thing started, and there's more in the works this morning.  I don't want to break the spell, so I'm just going to stay out of the way.  Now if only I could find a cleaning elf . . . 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last but Not Least

On Saturday I had my last event of 2015 - the Handmade Holiday Market sponsored by gather here.  It was a fun day all around.

Very soon gather here will be moving just a few blocks to the heart of Inman Square, and the market was held at the new store.  It's still a little rough, but you get the general idea.  The new shop is a great space with plenty of room.  This is an exciting time for the community that has grown with gather here.

Relocating costs money, and the shop has a Kickstarter campaign running to help cover expenses.  They've posted a really cute video. Check it out.

The Christmas holiday is upon us, and the last few shopping days are here.  

If you're at your wit's end and don't know what to get the knitter on your shopping list, I have gift certificates available.  Point your family members in this direction if you want one for yourself.

Today is the shortest day of the year, and we'll be decorating our tree. Embrace the dark, light a candle.  Happy Winter Solstice!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bouncing Back

I'm coming up for air after being under the weather for a good 24 hours or so.  Over the last couple weeks, I've been in contact with so many people who are sick, and I did my best to steer clear of the germs, but it was inevitable that eventually they would catch up with me.

Laying low definitely threw my schedule out of whack, and I'll be picking up the pieces for the next couple days, but the worst is over. In-between napping and feeling just plain miserable, I was able to knit a few rounds.  And that's all I needed to finish this.

3 Color Cashmere Cowl.  A quick bath, a little shaping . . . ready to go in no time.  This project was entertaining all around - mixing and matching colors, plenty of variety.  It was a good on-the-go project, and already I feel lost without it.

The yarn is Bertha Sport, colorways Cloud, Raven and Peacock.  The pattern is written for fingering weight, but I did a substitution and reduced the number of stitches.

A quick PSA.  If you're in the Boston area, tomorrow is the Handmade Holiday Market sponsored by gather here.  This year the event is in Inman Square at 1343 Cambridge St and runs from 11:00 - 6:00. They've put together a diverse collection of vendors, and I'm honored to be one of them.  Stop by and enjoy the festive fun.

For this week's color inspiration . . . 

A yellow spark.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Here's an Idea . . .

I've been struggling to find my holiday spirit this year.  The rush is on now, and I haven't lifted a finger to do any decorating or baking.  I had some help earlier in the week when my son and his girlfriend put lights up around the house.  We did get a tree yesterday, but it's still outside. I need to put clean and rearrange living room on my to-do list  to make room for said tree.  All of that is going to take a bigger block of time than I have available right now.

We celebrated one December birthday and have another one coming up this weekend.  That will involve more planning, preparation, cooking and shopping.  The kids have talked about baking on more than one occasion and I was hopeful it might actually happen, but so far we don't have one cookie in our possession.  I bought all the necessary ingredients.  Maybe I should put the recipes on the counter to see if I can jumpstart the process.

Clearly I need to make efficient use of my time if I'm going to pull everything together.  This is one step in that direction.

A Coloring Book for Knitters.

I got a few of these for the knitters on my holiday list.  Yes, I also got one for myself, but I put it away.  This is no time for distractions. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

SSK Revisited

Last week I mentioned I was having an issue with my left-leaning decreases.

This is the back of the offending project before I ripped it 
out . . . twice.  You can't see it here, but there are mirror decreases for shaping.  I was cruising right along, diligently doing my decreases. My left-leaning ones were a little sloppy, but I was sure blocking would help.  A couple more inches after this picture was taken, I had to admit that blocking wasn't going to miraculously fix the situation, so I ripped it out.

It was time to adjust my ssk.  For some time now, my preferred method for ssk has been slip, yank, twist, knit.  See the link for all the details.  This method has served me well, and I've been happy with the results.  But for this project, I was left with a sloppy, jagged line.  I think it's a combination of the yarn and the sharp contrast with k2tog which always leaves a straight, smooth line.

I did a little experimenting and reverted to one of my old ssk 
methods - slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to purl, knit them together through the back loop.  I got to work right away and knit up several inches with the ssk adjustment.  The left line was better, but it still looked sloppy when compared to the k2tog line on the other side.  I still wasn't satisfied.

Back to the drawing board.  I ripped it out again and did a little more research.  I stumbled across this post from Wendy at Muddy Sheep. She claimed that if you work that ssk stitch through the back loop on the next row, it will smooth everything out.  Depending on your pattern, this will either be a purl through the back loop or a knit through the back loop.  I tried her suggestion with my slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to purl ssk, and it made a noticeable difference.  

If you really want to get in deep, Wendy also mentioned this video from Cat Bordhi.  Cat recommends slipping a stitch in the row below the ssk to create a "hungry" stitch.  I tried this method too, but it didn't create the neat stitches I was looking for - maybe because I'm working back and forth, not in the round.  I haven't totally discounted Cat's method and will probably experiment with it some more.

For now, working that ssk stitch through the back loop has made my left-leaning decreases much neater.

Third time's a charm.

Here's a quick bonus.  Tin Can Knits is celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas by offering a free pattern every day from now until December 25.  Today's free pattern is Antler Mittens.  Check it out.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Color Puzzle

I've been working on an experiment with the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl. Instead of picking the colors before I cast on, I've been making my color selections as I go.  I'm working with Bertha Sport and started with Cloud.  When it came time for the second color, I debated but finally chose Raven.

I had plenty of time with the two grays to contemplate the third color. At first I was tempted to go with a red.  Then I briefly flipped to a yellow, but I've done a lot with gray and yellow, so I abandoned that notion.  

In the end I settled on Peacock.  It feels like I found the last piece to a puzzle.  I'm smitten with this color combination, and now that all the decisions have been made, I can put my knitting on autopilot.

The other day I took a short walk along the beach.  I enjoy these 
off-peak visits to the water . . . peace and quiet.  I came across a pile that had washed up on shore.  This week's color inspiration reminds me of some of my yarn messes.

A colorful tangle.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Off the Tracks

My day started with a visit from the appliance repair guy, and he completely derailed my morning.  The good news:  The repair guy was able to get the dryer running on a temporary basis while he orders a part.  The bad news:  Knitting pics will have to wait until later in the week.

Never fear, I do have something to share.  The world is full of so much destruction and devastation these days, but here's a glimmer of hope. Designer Bristol Ivy is donating 50% of her December pattern sales to charity.  Buy a pattern, spread the word, share the light.  

With that I'm off to get ready.  Today is my daughter's birthday, and we have a date this afternoon.  She has an extended celebration planned with more festivities this weekend, but today it's just the two of us.  I'm savoring the moments . . . 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Random on Monday

I'm starting fresh with a new day, a new week.  I fell off the Get To Work Book bandwagon a couple weeks ago, but today I'm jumping back on.  

This is what happens when I don't pay attention to my planning.  The dyeing schedule becomes unwieldy, yarn arrives and I don't know what it's for, I lose perspective on how many new booth samples I can really churn out between now and January.  I need to organize the chaos, and this handy book will keep me on the straight and narrow.

The swatch is for a situation I have with wonky decreases.  I'm digging deep to sort it out . . . one thing leads to another.  I'll report my findings.

Last call for Yarn Knot Socks.  

The December installment of the sock club will be shipping soon, and there's still room for a few more.  I'm excited with the 
base . . . something new and different.  Treat yourself or a knitting buddy.  Click on the link for details.

Friday, December 4, 2015

No Color Commitments

Gray is trending in my knitting world.

Usually I plot out my project colors before I cast on, but this time around I'm sorting it out as I knit.  

I started knitting with the light gray.  I thought I would be inspired before I needed the second color, but it didn't come together that way. A couple days ago I dyed more colors in this yarn base, and that generated some good possibilities for this project.  It was a tough decision, but I'm going with more gray.  I'll add another color to the mix, but I can wait before making my final decision.  I'm enjoying this process of no predetermined color commitments.

At the end of a gray day (or, especially after a series of gray days), a glimpse of the sun is a welcome sight.  My color inspiration for this week . . .

Sunshine breaking through at sunset.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Matching the Weather

This morning I woke up to a raw, wet, gray day.  I stopped in the kitchen long enough to retrieve a cup of coffee and quickly decided my duties as a scullery maid could wait until later.  Since I didn't have any pressing plans, I retreated to my knitting and an audio book.

This is just the beginning, and it echoes today's weather.  I need to add a couple colors and am still considering the options.  This decision is going to require some dyeing.