Sunday, August 7, 2016

"Checkerboard Slippers"

Apparently there was this thing called Phentex. From what I can gather, it is an ugly plasticky rug and slipper yarn that was popular in the 80's and it was used to make many many many pairs of "checkerboard slippers." The pattern is free on Ravelry, but it's not really so much a pattern as it is a handed-down explanation of how to make these apparently "super soft super squishy, and super cozy slippers." The comments on the WELL-LOVED Ravelry pattern are simply chock full of people exclaiming their love for these slippers growing up. Women saying, "My aunt/grandma/nonna/nana/nanny/grammy/auntie/whoever made dozens of these slippers and gave them to all us kids for Christmas!" or "These slippers are why I learned how to knit!" or "When I knitted these slippers and gave them to my adult siblings they cried remembering our grandma."


I don't have grandparents anymore... Out of the four of them, I only knew one and there was a language barrier that meant we never held a conversation...Whatever- I'm grandma_status. I have acclimated to the grandma status since I was 14 years old and first picked up knitting needles.

I read those tales of these Phentex Checkerboard Squishy Slippers and I had an immediate desire, nay, a destiny: I must become like these Nonna's, these Grammy's, these aunties, these women who lived on after death as the fairy knitted godmothers. I decided right then and there that I would pick up some of my old Red Heart Super Saver that has sat collecting dust for years, and I would knit Phentex slippers for every kid in my family. And there are A LOT of kids in my family. My sister has 6 kids, and 3 of them have 2 kids each. My brother has three kids. I have 2 kids, and of course I had to make some for my mom and for my dad and for my in-laws, and my nieces and nephews on my husbands side because you can't forget them, even though half of them are in their teens and probably wouldn't be too keen on acrylic hand-knit slippers.

I picked out two colors to start with and began.

The pattern is easy and portable, but honestly very very boring. At least it was very squishy, I thought. I kept on, knitting all day until, with achey fingers from the sturdy acrylic, I completed the first slipper. I sewed up the top and tried it on.

Terrible! I can't even put my finger on what was wrong with it, but it was definitely not what I expected after all the comments! I can't imagine having fond memories of a slipper like that.
I am not knitting a pair for everybody in my family. In fact I'm not even knitting the second slipper! The RHSS has gone back into hiding, and I have picked up my sweater again.

Phentex Slippers. PAH!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sweaters are slow

This last month my husband and I have been lucky enough to save up some money, and we decided to go for a few long drives. One, to Yosemite, which we had never been to as adults despite it being only an hour and a half away. Second, to Dillon Beach, which is about  two hours away. My husband loves going for drives because it means he gets to drive and listen to music. I love going for drives because it means I get to knit. I worked on my sweater both times, and it is slowly getting near completion. I was truly hoping to finish this sweater by the end of July but the way work is working out (and home life- we may be moving again soon) I really don't think that's going to happen.
Here is a VERY attractive photo of me wearing the sweater before the trips.
Messy Hair Don't Care
As you can see it was just above the belly button. I added about 8 inches on to the length and had one of those especially triumphant yarn chicken moments when I thought I was going to run out of yarn during the bind off and have to add on another ball mid-bind off. Now I don't know about you, but I HATE doing that, and would actually much rather tink back an entire row in order to avoid it. Thankfully I had just enough yarn. I had to take a picture and then wait until we were back in an area with cell phone service to post it online. I was that triumphant.
Serious Yarn Chicken
So now the long haul is over: the body is done. I picked up the sleeves and started working on them during the drive home on the Dillon Beach trip, but unfortunately got a bad wave of carsickness which demanded I put the knitting down. Still, some progress is some progress and here is how the sweater is looking now.
I really don't think it's IMPOSSIBLE to expect it to be completed by the end of the month, but it's probably unlikely since we are most likely going to have to move out of our apartment and into my folks' house in a desperate attempt to keep the house in the family. I really hate moving. For that matter I really hate not living in my own place, too... But if it is necessary to keep my mom in the home and comfort that she requires and desires, then I must set aside my own ego and loathe for boxing items and make peace with possibly killing my fish during the move and Just Do It.


TOTAL SIDE NOTE/DERAIL
I see a lot of memes that say "adulting" is hard. And then a lot of comments where people claim that the first step to being an adult is to not call it "adulting" because it's a sign of a childish mindset. But you know what? Adulting IS hard. If it takes proper grammar to not make it childish, then I'll phrase it this way: "Being an adult and making adult decisions is difficult." It seems like every time I come to terms with where my life is at, and start making ends meet, something happens that just throws a wrench in the gears.

I remember when I was in first grade our class talked about our fears in front of the class. Amid the fears of spiders, snakes, and heights, little dark-haired Cecilia stood in front of the class and admitted her fear of her parents getting a divorce. Awkward moment, let me tell you... Now, over 20 years later, it is finally coming to fruition and amid thoughts of (honestly) "Finally," and "But why NOW?" there is a little part of me that feels like the world is coming apart at the seams. A little part of me that's like, "Adulting is hard."

Obviously, I can't let the house get sold. We built a clubhouse in that backyard. I live in an apartment and my son spends most of his leisure time watching TV because we don't have a yard and there is just a slab of concrete outdoors. Him having a backyard to play in would be soooo good for him, and though we try to save up for a house so far it's not been working out for us. Taking over the bills and everything wouldn't be So much worse than we are already at now, in a tiny apartment. But it feels tainted to move into my family home during these circumstances. I feel like, yes of course I have to take care of my mom, who couldn't make ends meet on her own. But I feel like that would be disloyal to my dad. Which is a totally insane and childlike thought. And my brother still lives there too, so it wouldn't really feel like home anyway.

Meanwhile, I continue to go to work, I have been asked to step up as manager of the store I work at- I still pump milk during my breaks, I don't know why I feel like that's relevant to all this-and it's just... I want to go back to coloring under the covers and talking to my best friend on my walkie talkie!!! And I have to go to work in an hour, but I thought I would update you all about the sweater, because that's something I used to do and would normally take pleasure in, but this all came out instead.

And my niece is having a baby on Friday and I have work. I feel like work is just taking over my life. Which, of course it's apt to do. But jeez you would think if you work full time you could afford to not have to save up for a mop, for instance. I just breathe in and tell myself everyone is struggling. They're just not talking about it.

Maybe.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

After a long hiatus...

It seems that between working full-time, going to school full-time, and having a baby took its toll on the knitting blog. Still, I'm happy to report that SOME knitting is still being done. Penelope is now 7 months old, and is clapping and smiling and eating solid food. My son is on summer vacation from school and preparing for the first grade. I'm somewhat going crazy what with breastfeeding and work and home responsibilities. Still, one stitch at a time we are getting through the days.

So, some of the knitting projects I have finished lately:





Empire Strikes Back Dress

All About Love Shawl


Lovey Dovey Two Toned Mitts


And the one I am currently working on:



Now getting into July, I find myself thinking often of Christmas, of knitting, and of Getting It All Done. Quite honestly I've fallen into a pit of being broke and hungry and overworked and perhaps what I need is just to take a big breather and sip a cup of tea and cast on for a sock. Knitting, however, never got the housework done, and it sure doesn't pay the bills... It does do wonders for your mental state, however.

And truly I have missed the blog, and working on projects until they are done and not just abandoning them halfway through. I am over-stressed, it's true. This blog used to be a place where I could go and it never really had deadlines and it never became an obligation and I could always come and go as I pleased and I never sought to explain myself after a long break. I never did the "sorry guys!" type of post because it always seemed lame and cheesy when I read such a post on other blogs. But today I feel the need to explain that yes, things have been knit since the Antler Hat. Yes, my life has continued and there has been knitting that I have not shared with you. And perhaps most importantly yes I am still here. And by "I," I don't just mean the accounting student who is flailing to keep up with deadlines, and I don't mean the mommy who has sung "patty cake" over 20 times today, and I don't mean the Assistant Store Manager of the corner pet store who covered yet another shift. I mean the me who loves being creative and sharing some of the wonderful fantastic things about being on this planet- being able to make sweaters out of sticks and string, and talking late into the night about which needles are the best or which yarn to avoid next time. I think it is important to remember that "I" exist. Not you- not whoever may or may not be reading this blog after more than half a year went past with not a word from me- but myself. Perhaps many of you are mothers too, or have otherwise slipped into an identity that is not allowing you to grow personally. Maybe this small deviation from my normal content will serve as a small reminder to do the things that you love sometimes. If not, then perhaps at least I will have reminded myself to take pleasure in the things I love to do. Knit. Write. Draw. Take a step back from deadlines, and hop on the blog to say a simple hello! I am here!

Anyway. Hopefully the next time I post I will have more sweater to show you.
There is no pattern, just a top down raglan with a center pattern and some cabling down the sleeves. It's fun but not too complex, and easy but not quite mind-numbingly boring.
It's almost 9 pm here and I am going to have a sit-down with my needles and tea. Tomorrow is a 10 hour work day, but I think I have earned a little knitting time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A quick project or two

I've been dying to try Madelinetosh yarns for, well, pretty much ever. So when we went to a little yarn shop in the bay area, I asked my husband to pick out a color he likes for a hat. I picked Tosh DK, and the colorway he picked was called "Pecan Hull." We perused patterns together and he chose Antler, a free pattern by tincanknits.
This pattern was very easy to knit, fun but not too complex, good and portable, and I think it came out really nicely. I did, however, skip the very last repeat when I tried it on his head and it seemed like it was going to be too long. I also doubled up the brim.
The yarn... I have to say I was expecting more from this company. I've just heard SOOOO many good amazing things about it, and I don't feel like it really performed as nicely as it could have. For instance, I crossed a cable incorrectly and I had to drop the stitches to fix that section and the yarn just looked shaggier afterwards. It tried to fray a little bit, and I'm just like, seriously? You're expensive yarn! How can you not endure one simple little frogging of less than 5 rows? But it feels nice and smooshy and it smells good, so... I won't NOT knit with it ever again, but it just wasn't exactly the amazing yarn I was hoping for.

So after I finished my husband's hat (I still don't have a picture of him wearing it unfortunately) I was deciding what WIP to finish next when my son suddenly dropped a request on me. Now, my son loves the fact that I can knit for the sole reason that it means I can create toys for him on a whim in less than a day. He has never asked me for a garment, a hat, a scarf, anything wearable: only toys. So imagine my shock when he says that he wants mittens to wear in the morning at school because his hands get cold. I cast on immediately. (Sorry Penelope- I WANT to finish your coat, but what's the point when you're still hanging out in my tummy anyways and Vyvyan has cold hands!?)
He was thrilled with them. He wore them to school (and didn't lose them, I might add- an amazing feat considering he's 5) and even asked for a matching hat! The pattern is a basic kids mitten pattern, available for free. It was an easy pattern to follow, and they are really a great fit. I used the 4-6 size. I shared this picture on Facebook and my cousin asked if he could have a pair too. He sells handcrafted candles at Apple Hill-basically a big Christmas craft fair- and it gets very cold out there. I'll have to make him a pair asap, because I'm sure he will trade me for a homemade candle and his candles smell GREAT! The yarn is wool-ease, just acrylic and wool. Soft and easy care, perfect for a little one's hands. Now I'm working on his hat- just a basic stockinette beanie out of the matching yarn. After that, I should really get to finishing Penelope's coat. I just don't have any buttons yet, and for some reason rather than finishing knitting the second sleeve and then dealing with the fact that I don't have buttons I just stuffed the whole thing in a bag. I mean, ok we also moved into a new apartment and maybe I don't exactly know where it is. And not to mention I'm 38 weeks pregnant and I just don't feel like digging around tight spaces looking for it. But after the hat, I'll look for the coat and finish it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A baby coat

I've had this pattern, Baby Tiered Coat and Jacket in my queue forever, yet after 7 new nieces I still never bought the pattern. Now that I'm 33 weeks pregnant and finally purchased the pattern and started working on it. The pattern is simple, the design is adorable, and I am almost mad at myself for not buying it earlier and making one for each of those nieces. The only thing keeping me from feeling mad is the fact that 100% of those nieces were born in summer.
So I bought the yarn at an adorable LYS in San Mateo, CA on October 10th. 3 skeins Cascade 128 superwash, knowing that since I'm making the smallest size (0-3 months) I will very likely only need 2, but getting that extra ball as insurance. Wound the wool on October 11th and then finally cast on for the neck on October 12th. I knit the collar through separating for the underarms in one go as my husband napped nearby.
I got tired of sitting, and took a 30 minute walk. When I got back my husband had woken and we decided to watch a movie.
During the movie (Tremors 5, which has a 99 minute run-time and was totally worth it) I almost completed the body.
At which point I put it aside and went to sleep.
Today was busy- on the go for most of the day and when I finally was able to sit down and would have had ample time to knit, my hands and feet were swollen and it was all I could do to just sit on the couch with my legs elevated. I did manage to knit one sleeve and after that I weaved in all of the loose ends that had added up, which means I'll only have two ends to weave in later.
That small ball of yarn in the corner is all that is left of the second skein so rather than deal with an extra set of ends to weave in I just wound up the third ball and will knit the second sleeve with that. I plan on using the leftovers to make a little matching hat and maybe little booties too if I can find a good pattern for it. I swear that if I wasn't pregnant, I would have had this done already! But then again if I wasn't pregnant, I wouldn't be knitting this to begin with...
In other news, I have an ultrasound on Thursday, during which I really hope they don't tell me they were wrong about the gender. Because this little coat is too freaking cute for me to find out I'm having another boy after all!
Oh well. I still need to find some buttons, too.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finished Object: Etude In Stripes Cardigan

I finally finished my sweater, 5 days too late to enter it into the KAL I was thinking of entering it in. (Knitting Expat's September KAL)

Oh well.

It is loose but still cute, slouchy but not too slobby, big enough to wrap around my entire baby belly (I'm thinking once I have the baby it will look cute belted), and most importantly incredibly amazingly excruciatingly warm.

I am the first one in my house to feel the cold- my husband likes sleeping with the fan on year-round, and I like snuggling under the covers even in the summer. During the winter I try not to stray too far from the fireplace, and will often wear MANY layers- a cami, a fitted tee, a long sleeve shirt, a larger shirt, a light sweater, and a jacket on top sounds great to me and that's in my backyard in California. Let's not even entertain the possibility of going to the snow! This sweater will probably cut out the need for like at least half of my layers, it is so warm.

The alpaca does shed a little, and the contrasting color is actually a mohair blend as it turns out so that sheds a little bit too, and it's not itchy which is a relief. In the photos I'm wearing only a spaghetti strap under it and it feels surprisingly comfortable.

My favorite thing about this sweater is that it was made with 100% stash yarn! That is a great feeling, for sure. I can't wait to pick out my next project. Something about my life now (probably how busy I am!) has transformed me into a mostly monogamous knitter, which is very different for me but also really cool because it seems like things get finished faster. I'm sort of torn between something else for the baby (I have some beautiful purple Simply Soft that I could use), a Plum Blossom Tee for which I have the pattern and yarn already but which simply won't fit until far into next year and why even work on a tee when it's going to be winter!?, or something using my giant pile of Cascade Ecological Wool, or maybe using up the thick black cotton that I bought ages ago which is the softest thing on the planet and wants to be a sweater which would be boring to knit but great to wear. I'm just not sure what project will jump out at me, but either way I have to weave in the ends to my sweater first!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cardigan Progress

I thought I'd share my failure so far.

1) Knitted a sleeve for about seven inches, tried it on and was shocked to find it was far, far too wide.
I fought with myself for a little while, but ultimately decided it was time to frog.

2) Started the sleeve again this time completely ignoring the instructions and decreasing much sooner and much more frequently.
It looked a lot better upon trying it on so I decided to keep going and worked all the way down to the color change before putting it away for the day.

3) Finished the first sleeve and tried it on yet again, only to find that it was actually STILL pretty freaking huge, and the fact that it seemed so much improved probably reflected more upon the fact that the first attempt was ginormous than that the second was actually decent. I stared at myself in the mirror thinking, "I could deal with it... no I can't. Yes I can. No I can't."

I told myself, "It's supposed to be an oversize sweater! I imagine myself wearing it in Apple Hill, with leggings and boots- oversized is good!" and I responded with, "IT IS SAGGING AT THE PITS! THIS IS NOT OVERSIZE- THIS IS JUST NOT COOL!" And I replied with, "Well, I'm sewing up the sleeve seams, and I'm going to tuck in the excess fabric and we'll see. If it's still terrible we can frog it, and if it's decent, it's decent and I can start the second sleeve."

and

4) I'm starting the second sleeve- I managed to tuck in the excess fabric quite nicely and you can no longer tell that it once sagged at the pits and was not cool at all. Of course, with my luck I will knit the second sleeve, sew it up, finish the body, work the border, try on the completed garment and then... decide to reknit the sleeves again! Fingers crossed that it won't happen, but we shall see.

As a side note I rather like the Filatura Di Crossa multicolored alpaca blend that I'm using as the contrasting color. I think it will be rather nice once it's all tied in together with a border at both sleeves, on the body, and the border band. More pictures upon more progress.