Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yarn Along

I'm writing from my special place, which has been taken over by knitting only for the purpose of these photographs.

I'm knitting the second sleeve on a baby sweater for my friend's church's mission. It's the mission's suggested pattern, only I modified it for sport weight yarn instead of worsted, and it's coming out a little bit small.  Okay, a lot small.  So a needy family is going to get a sweater that their new baby can only wear for a max of eight weeks, but it's something.  Right?  Right?!

Maybe next time I'll switch back to worsted, or find a similar pattern that's a tad less boring in its endless garter stitchiness.

The yarn is Knit Picks Organic Cotton in Marshmallow, and you can contact me for the mission's pattern (please consider making one for the Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot -- it's making an impact in my community!)

I'm still reading The Eighty Dollar Champion and I'm loving every second I savor the words and the story.  An amazing pick by my mom.

In case you missed it, yesterday I wrote an update post on our 2012 Stash-busting Challenge.  Check out a few views of my stash and see what I've knitted from it lately -- and link up your own stash-busting projects and WIPs.  I hope to post an update each month, so stay tuned for the next one!

Happy Knitting.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Stash-busting Challenge Update and Link up!

It's time for a stash-busting challenge update!  I hope you've all been making some progress on your stashes and coming up with some really creative projects.  To link up your latest stash-busting projects, use the linky list at the bottom of this post.  There's still plenty of time to join the 2012 Stash-busting Challenge (after all, the year is still young) -- to learn more about the challenge and sign up, visit this post.

Okay, here's my update:

Earlier this month I spent a few minutes organizing my stash.  This did wonders for my creativity!  I organized my yarn by weight (for the most part) so I can better plan my projects.  This also got me reacquainted with my stash -- now I really know what I'm dealing with here.  And now I have all kinds of ideas on what to do with it all!  Which is why I promptly cast on three different projects this past weekend -- haha!  I'll get to those in a minute.

First, a glance at a few important sections of my stash:

My sock yarn drawer

More sock yarn plus sportweight cotton for baby sweaters for charity

Fingering weight wool plus straight needles

Baby yarn and WIPs (you'd be surprised how many baby WIPs I have in progress, as if there's no deadline for babies!)

Worsted weight and DK weight yarn (I love these canvas bins with the labels on the sides -- I have one for my bulky wool, too.)

More worsted weight yarn.  You'll notice some acrylic that had been gifted to me and I don't have the heart to get rid of it...and thanks to the way it makes my hands feel when I knit it, I don't have the heart to knit it, either.  I'm working up the nerve to make some tough-wearing baby blankets for charity with it, but maybe they'll be crocheted instead of knitted.

Onto the knitting!

Behold my Spilly Jane Cupcake Mittens, which I started last winter and made quite a bit of progress on the second mitten this month:

And then there's the Dale baby sweater I found in the baby yarn/WIP basket that I picked back up for the first time since Nathan was an infant.  (He grew faster than I could knit -- figures!)

I'm still making progress on my winter shawl now and then and a cotton baby sweater for charity.  And of course there are the three projects I cast on this weekend -- only one photo, I'm afraid.  One is a swatch for a pair of felted slippers I'm designing for Nathan, one is a knitted pear for Nathan's kitchen set (the free pattern is from Natural Suburbia!) and the third is a secret for now because it's a gift.  I look forward to gifting it and the sharing with you -- it was a really fast and fun knit.

So what have you been up to?  Please link up, or share in the comments section!

Thanks for joining in on the stash-busting challenge.  I can't wait to see what you create!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just for Me

This week I created a little place in my bedroom that's just for me.  Near the side of my bed I have a simple three-shelf bookcase with some of my favorite books, journals and idea notebooks, and on top I placed some pretty things to look at.  A pitcher of dried flowers, a photo of our little family and a very functional basket of moisturizers, lip balms and pens and pencils, perfect for hiding from Nathan's curious (prying?) fingers.

This little space might not seem like much, but it's a small relief to carve out a little space for myself in a house that increasingly feels like it's no longer mine.  It seems decidedly Nathan's, with all my of breakables and low decorations and artwork stashed away or placed high up where I can't enjoy them as well, and the books I love most hidden in a room with the door always closed.

This space is relaxing to see before I go to bed at night and when I wake up in the morning, and it's a useful place that I think I can actually keep clear (I'm known for stacking piles of laundry folded laundry on my dresser).  It's something I can maintain that's just for me, which feels good, especially after having my house stripped for toddlerdom and spending the last five years continually trying to make our living space work better for me and my family.

A few more views from around the room:

Note that Tennis For Dummies is not among my favorite books -- lol -- I still need to sort through these and personalize this private collection to include my very favorites and let go of the books I no longer need.  Maybe I'll do a follow up post on some of the books I've added to this special collection -- it'll include knitting book recommendations, gardening books and some quick but satisfying fictional reads, as well.  A bedside book for every mood!

Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yarn Along

As always, I'm linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along on Small Things on Wednesday.

Today marks one month on my winter shawl, and I'm not done yet.  (I thought I had a chance, okay?)  With less than half of the edging left to go, it should only be a matter of days at this point.  It's Aestlight Shawl in Knit Picks Chorma Fingering in colorway Midwinter, and I'm still loving the pattern and the yarn.  (And I'm excited that I'll have a bunch of Chroma leftover to leave in my stash -- more than one and a half balls!)  I can't wait to block it and show the power of blocking through photographs.  I know, I know -- am I a knitting geek or what?  But really, until you've blocked something lace (or a shawl), you won't truly understand how amazing blocking really is -- I didn't!

My other projects did derail me a bit, but it was worthy derailment, as Nathan needed a new hat and we just happened to have a few inches of snow over the weekend that he was determined to play in.  For hours.  Although the hat is perfectly servicable, I don't love how the top of the hat looks so I'll rip it out and reknit it soon.  I'll show some action photos when it's done and the top no longer looks like a nipple.  Yeah, I really goofed on that one.

My sample Sneaky Snake scarf is coming along quickly (it looks more tangly than it really is), and it's making me want to write a little colorwork tutorial or write up some colorwork tips, at the very least.  This project is great for someone new to stranded colorwork, and I love how the vertical stripes don't leave you with tons of ends to weave in like horizontal ones do.  I'm thinking about adding some of the tips to my Sneaky Snake pattern, so all this good info is in one place.  If you've already bought the pattern and can use some help, stay tuned for the tutorial!

Also, stay tuned for an update on our 2012 Stash-busting challenge.  I promise to have an update soon with a linky party -- get ready to share what you've been working on from your stash!  Thanks for joining in.

I thought I'd also mention how much I love reading your comments, especially on Yarn Along days.  I look forward to reading them throughout the day.  So thank you for reading and commenting.  It's great knowing I have such knitterly friends out there!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Waffles and Cookies Kinda Day

Even before I knew there would be [a small amount of] snow this weekend, I was ready for spending the long haul at home this weekend -- my car has been in the shop since Wednesday night.  I get cabin fever readily, thanks to working from home (both a blessing and a curse, especially when you enjoy participating in adult conversations from time to time) and spending the rest of my time with a toddler (ditto -- I'm kidding.  Really.).

Those of you who live near stores and shops and other convenient places to go on foot will probably never know just how stranded one can feel without a car or mass transit in a rural area, or when the winter weather is bad for weeks on end and driving somewhere for recreation doesn't seem like a sane thing to do.  This is when rural living can really start to wear on me.

So I had a [loose] plan to combat the cabin fever.  Bake and play in the snow and eat grilled cheese for lunch.  And it was a pretty good day, if I do say so myself -- even if it started with Nathan waking up two hours earlier than usual.  Homemade waffles in the waffle iron, the kind with the egg whites folded in at the last minute (recipe here; it's the best one of the three I've tried so far).  Two bouts of playing in the snow and pulling Nathan in the sled with homemade sugar cookie dough chilling in the fridge, awaiting our return for baking.

Recipe is from Betty Crocker here; I only made 1/3 of the recipe because I don't need 96 cookies in my house all at once, thank-you-very-much.

Tomorrow I hope to have the energy to bake some bread.  We'll see.  The snow will have lost its appeal (to me, anyway), but I'm sure I'll have to endure it again for the sake of my little one. 

I'm a little wary that I won't keep my sanity through Sunday and Monday... Just thinking about it is making me want to go somewhere.  Anywhere.  Today we had a hankering for juicy hamburgers for dinner, but we don't have a car that all three of us can pile into to go out to eat.  Oh, man, I still want that hamburger!  I'm starting to wonder if writing this post was a mistake.... wish me luck keeping the stir crazies at bay.

Oh, and happy weekending!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yarn Along: Better Late than Never!

My yarn along post is way late, if you ask me. I've been battling yet another sinus headache, and last night wasn't the time to be squinting at a laptop screen.  That said, I still have the headache, but I'm front of my computer now for work anyway, so I might as well bang out the post real quick.  Sorry it's so brief!

Nathan's new hat (and a small amount of Sneaky Snake scarf knitting) has derailed my progress on my winter shawl.  The edging is going slowly, partly because I'm not able to memorize the 16-row pattern repeat and partly because if I'm too tired at night I'm afraid I'll mess it up....so I'm going rather slowly (for me). 

But the hat has turned out great!  All I need to do is run a tapestry needle through the stitches in the icord stem (I can't seem to knit a child's hat without an icord stem), weave in the ends and slap it on his head to see how the decreases have worked out. 

It's my own design that I'll save for when I write a knitting book...someday.  It's a large hat that he'll grow into, with an interesting stripe pattern that stays the same how matter how you fold the brim over a little or big(ger) head.

Happy Knitting, everyone!

Monday, January 16, 2012


By now I'm sure just everyone knows that my goal this year is to knit from my stash for as long as possible, but does anyone remember my goal for 2011?  It was to knit one pair of socks per month....and I'm proud to say that I did it!

Here's a look back by month, with pattern and yarn for each pair:

Pattern: Butterfly Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Blue Yonder

Pattern: Lace and Cables Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Deep Waters

Pattern: My own Birds in Flight Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Blue Yonder

Pattern: Ribbed Ribbon Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Springtime

Pattern: my own Ice Pop Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Afternoon

My little munchkin seemed so much chubbier back then!

Pattern: Midsummer Night's Dream
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Canopy

Pattern: my own Birds in Flight Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Blue Yonder

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Handpainted in County Fair

Pattern: My own Raindrop Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Handpainted in Playtime

Pattern: My own Thermal Textured Socks, featured in the winter edition of Rhythm of the Home
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll in Jackrabbit Heather

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Woodsman's Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Squirrel Heather

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Squirrel Heather

What were your knitting or crafting goals last year?  Did you reach them?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pin It and Do It!

I've been itching to do a craft lately (you know, other than knitting), but for some reason I don't have any great ideas (how did this happen?). So with some inspiration from Allison at  Little Lovelies (one of my favorite blogs), I turned to my Pinterest boards.

Allison at does a weekly feature called Pinned it, Did it and she's inspired me to take a closer look at my pins and actually make something.  The only problem is that I haven't pinned very many things (doh!) thanks to my dwindling time spent surfing the web and pinning what I find.  And some what might seem like excessive knitting.  (It's not.)

Truly, I'm not a pin-aholic.  I don't think I use Pinterest the way I'm expected to.  I don't search through the pins and get addicted to Pinterest -- I just use it to pin things I want to make in the future.  You know, like a real bulletin board.  And I'm pretty selective about what I want to and think I'll actually make.  Just like in my real life, I'm minimalistic in my online life, too.  (I'm the type who has an urge to save papers and tear things out of magazines only to have them sit around for a long time and then eventually get thrown out.  So now I just cut to the chase and throw things like that away as soon as I'm done with them--which is why I think Pinterest is so great....keep my clutter on the web!)

I had hoped to make something quick and easy tonight to get back into the crafting thing -- after all, my crafts are one of the main reasons I started blogging in the first place -- but I didn't have all the supplies I need. 

This is what I want to make, except on a really tiny scale.  I recently found the cutest little pinecones I've ever seen!

I also want to make this:

Pinned Image

(source: Grow Creative)

I guess they'll just have to wait until I have time to buy the supplies.  I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to actually use spraypaint, anyway!  lol  Probably never, but one can dream on Pinterest, right?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yarn Along

As always, I'm linking up with Ginny on Small Things on Wednesday. 

My winter shawl is coming along swimmingly.  I still love the pattern, and I hope to start the edging tonight.  The edging!  Do you believe it?  Even I don't believe how quickly this fingering weight shawl is going on size 5 needles.  I think I'll always remember that I cast on this project on Christmas afternoon with yarn I "found" in my stocking that morning... hopefully I can say I knitted it in less than a month!

Unless I get derailed by.....

A Sneaky Snake Scarf I'm knitting as a photo sample for Knit Picks.  I'm considering selling this one in my Etsy shop, but if anyone out there wants dibs on it, let me know and I'll create a reserved listing for you when it's ready.  kelly (at) kocommunications (dot) net

...or maybe a new hat for Nathan will set me back.  I thought he'd be able to wear last year's hat, but that noggin of his just keeps on growing, so his new hat made with yarn from the depths of my stash is at the top of the list.

And now I remember why I don't like knitting with black yarn.  Even though the whole thing will k2p2 ribbing (which I can do with my eyes closed), I still have to look down each time I stop and start to see where I've left off, and it's such a strain on my eyes.  Time to break out the craft light!

I'm still loving The Eighty-dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation and it's getting better and better.  As a writer myself, I either have trouble getting through some authors' work or I get hung up on the craft as I discover and admire the authors' techniques.  With this book I find that in between all the admiration -- especially the parts where the author breaks down technical (and correct!) information on horses and horsemanship -- I'm getting lost in the story and it's wonderful.

In case you missed it, yesterday I launched my latest and most favorite pattern yet, Handsome Men's Slipper Socks.  Please take a look if the men in your life have feet that need to be kept warm this winter!  Or just have feet.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pattern: Handome Men's Slipper Socks

I designed these worsted weight socks to be my brother's Christmas present, but I couldn't think of a name for them until he put them on.  And when he did, I nearly gasped.  They're really handsome.

Meant to be worn as slipper socks, perhaps over a pair of regular cotton socks, these toe-up socks knitted up quickly on U.S. Size 7 DPNs.  The diamond cable pattern on the front and the braided cable up the back are separated by smart ribbbing that's easy to work, easy to remember and makes a snug, stretchy, comfortable sock.  (Seriously, after I worked the charts once I didn't have to refer to them again -- the pattern is that easy to memorize, but still really fun to work.)

 The pattern calls for two 50-gram balls of worsted weight wool yarn -- I used Knit Picks' Swish Worsted for its machine washability.  (I don't expect a man to handwash socks...do you?)  You may want a small amount of a third ball if you're knitting for big feet or want to make really tall cuffs.

Happy Knitting!

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