Sunday, July 1, 2018

Crochet Dreams Coming True

I've had a love-hate relationship with crochet in the past. Reminiscent of toilet seat covers, rough acrylic coasters, and hideous holey blankets that you only use when your friend is over and you're desperate for blankets, crochet has sort of been a curse word to me. In 2012 I finally decided to pick up a hook and made a really cute hat. As time has gone on I have come to appreciate crochet for certain projects, especially toys and blankets. Knitting a blanket takes forever, but crocheting one is very doable. Another cute project that looks better in crochet than knitting is.... the bralette.

So, as a woman who had a 9 lb 11 oz baby, a bralette is not really something I see myself ever wearing. My postpartum belly has been a source of unhappiness for me for the last 8 years, and yet... I really really really really really wanted to make a crochet bralette.

Who am I to deny myself my crafting urges?


I seriously felt soooo accomplished when I finished this one! I have literally always always wanted to crochet a top like this. Of course I don't intend to actually wear it in public, but I decided to add some fringe to the bottom anyways to cover said belly and to pull down the little lacey bit to keep it from flaring out. I may or may not add beads to the bottom of each fringe so that it lays nicer. But, the yarn is a cotton/linen blend and I would probably have to use glue to keep the beads on which.. I'm not sure how much I want to add glue to this.


This project took only one tiny skein of yarn- only 85 yards! Including the fringe, I still have a little left over. The yarn is Berroco Cotton Twist Variegated in Colorway Pastel Multi. I'm not certain what size crochet hook I used because my hooks are not marked. But it's the yellow from this set on amazon. My husband got this set for me for Christmas last year and so far I've been quite pleased with them.

I'm seriously so happy with this and I even have another skein of the same yarn so I could make another one. And now that I know how little yarn it actually used I might actually make one with continued lace to cover my belly and have something I'm confident wearing. I'm so so so glad I decided to attempt a top like this. I can see more different and exciting designs like this in my future- hopefully culminating in one that I find wearable and flattering.

This top only took 5 days, and that's just in between my daily life of work, my new second job, kids, school, and housework. I sort of tried to follow the bikini pattern from Ready Set Crochet but it turned out my gauge was wildly different so I did some math to figure out the cups and then from there I just winged it, adding in some picot and some patterning from Crochet Edgings and Trims

Anyways, I am glad my crochet skills are expanding. Although I won't be making any toilet seat covers any time soon, I have added a few more crochet patterns to my queue.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I'm Back from Vacation!

I had such a good time going camping. I packed no less than seven projects to work on.
1) the Orchid and Fairy Lights hat, which I completed on the way to the campsite
2) my Akiko cardigan
3) my Plum Blossom Tee, which I haven't cast on yet
4) some acrylic yarn to teach my 8 year old niece to crochet with
5) some socks
6) a shawl
7) a slipper project

So... I had a lot less knitting time than I had anticipated. We spend a lot of the time at the lake, swimming. So the only thing I actually finished was the Orchid and Fairy Lights hat which, surprisingly, fit my niece perfectly and I might end up giving it to her for Christmas. The color just looks so good on her, and the slouch is just right. I didn't get a photo of that project because I have been absolutely obsessed with my most recent project:


I'm using the Cascade Quatro I found at the thrift shop last December, as well as some scrap worsted yarn to make an oversized, drop shoulder sweater with a fox on it. Why? Why NOT I ask you?

Well, actually there was a legitimate reason why I chose to do intarsia for this project. The yarn was from the thrift store and was already wound. There were 5 balls, which would be 1100 yards which would be just enough for me to squeak out a 42" pullover. However, I don't know if the yarn's previous owner used some of the yarn. They SEEMED like full skeins, but out of cautiousness I decided to put something on the sweater. At first I thought maybe I would knit some giant lips on it, think Rocky Horror Picture Show. I also considered a big pair of cat-eye glasses, but that wouldn't really take up enough space. I really, truly wanted to knit a big fat cheeseburger on the sweater too. But I unfortunately don't have any proper cheeseburger colors in stash, and for something like that you really need accuracy. And it's my year of Cold Sheep, so I can't buy any yarn. I looked in the stash and found my old Camelino in this perfect orangey color and thought I might knit a fox.

I found a different chart first, with two adorable foxes snuggled up together. Unfortunately I was unable to make that chart work. So I have this lonely fox instead. I do wish I had added in some cat-eye glasses for it to wear!

And yes my fox is missing its eyes. I'll duplicate stitch them in later. This project is going to be for the colors of fall 2018 knitalong. I cannot wait to finish it. Seriously. Even though it is definitely deliberately going to be super dorky. I'm excited.

I'm going to go binge watch netflix and knit now. Hope you get a chance to do the same! (ps it is 105 degrees F in my town right now, and I'm knitting a wool sweater. That's dedication to the craft!!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Finished Object- Textured (or not) Pullover

I am so pleased with my most recent finished object.
I finally seamed it all together and took photos on June 8th. In my part of California it has been quite toasty out, and so I had to take two sets of photos after I realized only a crazy person wears shorts with a sweater...oops.
The yarn is something I found super cheap at Big Lots in 2014. I believe I bought 10 balls at the time, because I like to take advantage of cheap yarn and apparently I thought my husband was a lot larger than he actually is. In 2014 I knit myself a hat and cowl, a saddle-shoulder sweater for my husband, a raglan pullover for my son and still had yarn left over. The yarn was enough to make this gorgeous pullover in a comfortable size for my mom. I think I'm finally mostly out of this yarn, which is great because I'm super sick of looking down and seeing endless swathes of stockinette fabric in this color.

The yarn is called Canan Baby Soft. A few ladies at my knit group asked, "are you sure it's canon and not caron? Caron is a yarn brand!" Nope- definitely Canan. It's 100% sport-weight acrylic which means my mom can wash and dry with no fear of felting, and it's actually incredibly amazingly soft. I actually really like this yarn's feel against my skin, which is impressive when you consider the fact that I paid $2.50 for a ball for 363 yards. I used size 4 needles for all of the sweaters I made, which meant that I only swatched once, which was the initial cowl I made. My gauge actually did stay the same over the last 4 years.

This pattern is by Amy Herzog and is called Textured (Or Not). Not only did I choose not to add the texture, but I also skipped the waist shaping. Although this pullover looks fitted and flattering on me-a fact that makes me very loathe to package it up and store it until Christmas- it will fit my mom with more ease and will be very easy for her to wear.



The only interesting thing I might add about this project is that I knitted each knit row with a size 4 but purled each purl row with a size 2. This was to compensate for my loose purl gauge and ever since I figured out this little trick it has completely minimized the "rowing out" that comes with stockinette projects knit flat for me. I would definitely recommend trying it if you struggle with getting your tension correct when knitting flat. I have also had success consciously purling tightly, but one can only be deliberate for so long before one slips back into old habits.

I am feeling quite in love with the idea of owning a simple plain pullover like this one. But not so in love with the idea of knitting another one! Right now I am preparing for a 4 day camping trip with my dad to celebrate both my birthday (30!!) and father's day and I'm having lots of fun packing yarns and projects.

I plan on casting on a shawl out of Malabrigo Sock in colorway Lotus. It's beautiful, beautiful yarn ranging from purples to blues and I think it will look super delicious in something simple like garter stitch. I'm looking forward to that project for simple social knitting.

I also plan on knitting on my Akiko cardigan on the way up to and home from the campsite- it is about 4 hours away from home and I am grateful to say that my husband is always happy to do the driving.

I might bring some socks to work on because, well, obviously one needs at least three projects.

I've got a little bit of time to finish my Orchids and Fairy Lights hat that I cast on last week and entirely expected to have done by now. Once the hat is done, I'm planning on starting my Plum Blossom Tee (finally.) I actually printed out the pattern so that I don't have to rely on internet or my phone. No service and no electricity! I'm excited for that freeing idea!

The hat is made of Valley Yarn's Haydenville left over from my textured make-it-up-as-you-go pullover.  I'm so sad to say that the pullover in question has met an unfortunate accident with a cup of coffee and due to the light (beautifully light) color, has stained in the front. I adored wearing that sweater, and the yarn held up to machine washing and drying very wonderfully. I think I will knit another sweater with this same yarn in perhaps a darker color. Still, for a hat, this yarn will do wonderfully. I think this hat is going to be a little bit on the smaller side, because I didn't swatch, but as it is a charity hat I'm sure it will keep someone warm and that's all that matters.

So before I log off and you go back to your day I wonder if I might brush on a slightly different topic... As I mentioned before I've been listening to the Yarniacs podcast at work (I feel I must insert again that it doesn't interfere with my work at all as I just do repetitive heavy lifting) and I just had this thought come to me yesterday about self-worth and knitting. I know that recently Gail from the Yarniacs acknowledged that she suffers from depression- an affliction I too have experienced as most of you may know. I guess I was just thinking about yarn, and Stitches West and the knitting community, and blogs, and photos, and sharing finished objects, and this whole separate existence I have as a knitter. Even in my most awful depressions, I have usually been able to churn the needles and make that magic out of yarn. There have been times where it felt pointless to knit and times where I derived no enjoyment from it. In the most recent episode I put the needles away for a while and sought professional help. But still, in spite of all the things going on in my life, there is knitting and it tends to soothe my soul. One day I was at school knitting on a part of the blue pullover and a classmate looked over and said, "Do you like doing that?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "That's weird," then watched for a few more moments before resuming attention to the teacher. I started to think, "is it weird?" Is it weird that I feel accomplished by taking something that is nothing and making it into something? That I have the ability to draw up a vision of what I would like to create, and then tweak that idea and work on that idea until I've created something I feel proud of? Even if I just follow someone else's instructions exactly doesn't it feel nice to know that I did it right? That it came out just like I planned? That I'm in control of SOMETHING! I thought too about how people have different roles in the world. Perhaps an accountant, or a police officer, or a teacher- and yet they may all go home and work on a few rows. And the Yarniacs- just these two friends who decided to start recording their plans and ambitions and their finished objects, their trials and tribulations and all of the wonderful decision-making processes that go into each project- they have become somewhat of knitting celebrities. These are people who have worth in our community! They provide wonderful entertainment, camaraderie in their ravelry group, and bring people together. Just by talking about their knitting! So, you know, I don't think it's weird. I think knitting is part of my identity, and the skills I've learned from knitting (both technical skills and the less technical such as patience and making sure you read the directions fully before you start something) have helped develop my sense of self-worth in this world. And that's pretty wonderful.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Work in Progress Wednesday

I'm apparently really bad at finishing projects.
Instead of dutifully seaming up my mom's pullover and then monogamously working on my new Akida cardigan, I cast on for a pair of socks.


This is knit with yarn from the stash (of course, since I'm still not buying yarn even though it's only like 10 days away from my birthday and I totally deserve yarn) called Serenity. This fingering weight wool/nylon/rayon blend is pretty soft, and it's been sitting in my stash for at least 9 years. An old boyfriend actually bought this for me so that I could knit him a dice bag, and I cast on for the dice bag with size 000 needles and immediately lost my will to live. The yarn was set aside, the boyfriend became an ex, and I hadn't really known what to make out of it until recently when a third ball, the black, was added to my stash. I made my husband a pair of socks with this same yarn and I bought three balls but only ended up using 2. I decided to stripe it with the old green and brown and gift this pair of socks to my brother who wholeheartedly deserves a pair of socks.

And then I felt guilty, of course, and so I did pull out the stupid pullover.
As you can see (or not; I never claimed these would be GOOD photos) I have completed all but one lousy seam of the darned thing. As of now, I have actually sewn up to about the second stitch marker from the bottom. Any progress is good progress, right? I am hoping I can pick up and knit the neck today and finally add this to my finished object pile.

Finally, here is a picture of the cardigan I started out of the yarn from Stitches West.

The yarn is, like I said in a previous post, not as pretty in this pattern as I was hoping it would be. Part of me knows that this yarn would have preferred to be in a brioche pattern or even just a simple seed stitch. But how boring would that have been!? Turns out, this cable repeat is pretty dang boring too. I do about two repeats and then it's just a yawn-fest. I thought this pattern would be a lot more exciting. And it cost $9! But, I really think the finished object will be wearable and lovely and I will definitely finish this project. The only thing is.... none of these projects are in a big hurry to be completed. The pullover and socks are to be Christmas gifts, and the cardigan is surely more of a warm weather knit...
And so

My little wheels are whirring. I'm thinking about cotton. I'm thinking about crochet bralettes. I'm thinking about shorts (!?) and I'm thinking about warm weather garments. So, the best thing about my knitting is that it's all self-imposed. Any deadlines I might think are sticky are actually a lot more flexible than I think. After all, it's all about having fun.... right?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The last of May...

This year is really getting away from me. I started out the year with pretty big knitting ambitions. "KNIT ONE MILE EVERY MONTH!" "NO BUYING NEW YARN!" "KNIT A CHRISTMAS PRESENT EACH MONTH." Yeah right.
I did pretty good for the January- 2,059 yards.
Then February was only 1216 yards.
March was about 340 yards.
April was ZERO yards. (that's zero yards of finished object, not necessarily zero yards knitted)
And now here we are in May and I've finished two tiny hats and a garter stitch blanket.
Boring.

Still, I think it's important to note that I did actually complete the knitting of my mom's pullover. Well, ok that's a lie. I finished knitting all the pieces and started seaming it but haven't finished seaming and haven't started the neck ribbing.
I did, of course, cast on for a new sweater. Because apparently I have knitting ADD and I like to cast things aside as soon as they get to the boring bits.

The new sweater is Akiko by Yoko Hatta and this pattern is the first pattern I have purchased since 2015. I'm so excited about the finished object though. I think it will be the perfect thing to pull on while I'm at my computer. It's like a cardigan slash shrug and it just gives off this really cozy squishy vibe. I'm using the Miss Babs Yowza I got at Stitches West last year, and the color is a little bit too variegated for the pattern but I really really wanted to use this yarn up and I really really liked the pattern and it is coming out ok.

As far as my goal of buying no new yarn, I have done amazingly. I haven't purchased a thing. Not one wee mini-skein. Go me!

I promise I'll put up a photo of the new sweater in progress soon. And hopefully now that I've admitted that I need to finish seaming my mom's sweater I will finish that and post a picture of that too...

For June I have a small break from school (until June 18) and so I'm hoping I can finish the Akiko before school starts up again. If not finish it, at least get the cabled portions done. I'm almost halfway done with the left front, and I have not spent a ton of time on it. The next thing I want to cast on is a pair of striped socks for my brother. I made him a pair in 2012 and he finally admitted to me that he lost one of the socks. He said that they are his absolute favorite socks to wear though, and that he keeps the single sock in hopes that one day the missing one will turn up. Poor guy! I'm using some stash yarn from Joann that is a really soft nylon blend, I think. They will be brown and green which I know sounds really ugly. And they probably will be really ugly. But, hey, it's using up that stash yarn!

Another project I'm excited about is the Plum Blossom Tee by Andrea Sanchez. This pattern I won a few years ago, and I have always wanted to cast it on with this beautiful lilac/blue linen blend I got in a tiny yarn shop Patterson. Now that the weather is warming up, I think it will be the perfect knit for summer. And aside from the lace detail it is mostly a pretty plain project so it won't take a lot of focus.

Final little update: I've been listening to the Yarniacs podcast and I'm really enjoying it. Right now I work at UPS in the middle of the night and it is a pretty boring (although quite labor intensive) job. While I work, I get to listen to one headphone and after the music in my phone got old I started listening to audio books before finding some wonderful knitting podcasts. If you have any favorite podcasts that I should tune in to, let me know in the comments.

I'll update with my mom's sweater soon!
Happy knitting.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Musing on Knitting

The first thing I ever knitted was a misshapen square of garter stitch. Using my grandmother's old blue aluminum needles, I followed directions in my room alone to cast on and knit. The piece was never finished, as I didn't know how to bind off and didn't actually have the patience to learn. The stitches were wonky, tight in some places, holey in others. I had somehow increased several stitches along one side and it was wholly imperfect... I loved it.

I tacked the swatch to my wall, where it hung in its variegated Christmas colored acrylic glory and I cast on for my next project right away. I was 14 then, and had no idea what life had in store for me. Knitting-like scrapbooking, jewelry-making, writing and drawing- was another phase I was going through. Or so I thought.

Through my high school years I continued knitting: hats, sweaters, scarves decorated with aliens and initials. I knit through college. Through the births of two babies. Through thick and through thin. I moved my boxes (and boxes and boxes) of yarn and knitting books with me 10 times, and moved on from stumbling along with designers to modifying designs and then to inventing my own.

I look back now at that misshapen square of garter stitch (Yes, I still have it) and wonder if I had any idea. I know I didn't. Anymore than I knew that the boy I was dating wasn't The One and that I wouldn't be able to drink normally or that I would always regret not paying more attention to algebra. I had no idea that knitting would be my constant companion. Knitting would save my life. Knitting would keep my spirit alive, keep me awake during boring college lectures, provide me with entertainment during social engagements, give me "free" presents when I was low on cash and even providing me with cash for my skills with the needles.

Sometimes I'm working on a sweater front and I'll smooth it out on my lap, admire its neat stitching, check that everything is in order, and then hold it up to myself. A practice in visualization, I can imagine every detail in the finished object. How wearing it will make me look sophisticated, or cozy, or sharp, or like a model leaning just so. It's a kind of magic that, as I pick up the work and continue on, keeps me going through the long torso, stitch by stitch.

That's the thing about knitting that I really love- or one of them anyway. Every thing you create is just made one stitch at a time. It's sort of like a metaphor for life. One day at a time, you follow the same steps and some day it is complete and, like my first object perhaps there are mistakes. Perhaps there are holes or it is misshapen or it ended abruptly but it is something you made and you should be proud.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hello Internet






I've been working on some things. There is a sweater I've started for my mom's Christmas present which is all done except the front. It's made with acrylic yarn leftover from the sweater I made my husband a few years ago. (Which he doesn't ever wear. Not that I'm bitter except I totally am because it's super soft and I would wear the heck out of it if it wasn't big enough for three of me but I digress.)

I still haven't finished my Norwegian mittens. It turns out that though I love the way the design is turning out, it makes me sort of anxious to think about knitting on those tiny little needles. I've been working at UPS for 6 months and my fingers are basically a constant state of peeling/blistering from wearing gloves and handling packages and pushing buttons etc. Hopefully I'll get another job soon and I can start getting back to small needles again.

As it is, I've joined a knitting group at my local library which knits for charity. It's a fantastic way to knit up scraps. Which I need to do. Because I may have entered a bet with my husband and my son. They are both betting that I can NOT go the entire year without buying any yarn. So far, I haven't. But I did buy a lot of knitting books second hand... but those don't count! I ONLY SAID YARN! Also they don't know about the knitting books because once they are added to my giant bookshelf they blend in with the tons of other knitting books I already have so... plus one for me. Part of me recognizes that technically the same thing would happen if I bought yarn because they have absolutely no idea what yarn I have already, but the spirit of competition would be lost if they did in fact win. Even if they weren't aware that they did.

So the charity knits. I cast on a garter stitch blanket for the local hospital. Again, acrylic.


Modeled happily by my handsome poocher, who I adore. Feel free to also adore him but be aware he will bark at you.

And then I picked up some old I Love This Cotton from my Hobby Lobby days and worked up a few little hats.


It's been really nice having those hours at the knitting group to get some reliable knitting time in every week. My mom is amazing and has been watching my kids, including picking up my son from school just so that I can knit with these ladies. I am the youngest in the group, but I don't see much difference between any of us at all! Well, except how most of them are retired which I am frankly just jealous about!

I've taken this huge long hiatus from blogging and normally I would probably say that it has to do with school or work or how I'm so busy, and it's true that I have been so busy. But it's more than that. I suffer from seasonal depression. And regular depression too I guess. I finally went to see a counselor and was prescribed medication and it is like night and day. I feel like I have a reason to live again, and so maybe I will have a reason to blog too. Perhaps there will be more of me around here. It certainly seems like there is more of me in general. I always worried about taking antidepressants because I thought it would change who I am? Does that make sense? Well, it turns out that what was changing who I am was having depression and constantly thinking negative thoughts and crying at work and just being generally miserable. With these pills I can smile again. I can focus on my kids. I can get a B on a test and not have a complete meltdown because I'm able to look at the big picture and see that it doesn't matter all that much in the long run. (I know. Crazy!!!) In the last few months I have crawled out of my shell and met people in my town. I have opened up and made friends at school and at work. I have started taking my kids out to the park, to the zoo, and to the library. I manage to get most things done...mostly. And it's OKAY. It's amazing for me, although it may not sound like much to anyone who has never suffered with depression.

So, anyway. This is me, saying hello again to you beautiful people.