Just Like Me, They Long to Be…

Well, I finally got a chance to make a yarn run for the first time in a long time this week! I was able to make it to my local Walmart Supercenter, my first time setting foot in it in about 6 months (we’ve been going to a Walmart Neighborhood Market for groceries in that time period, which unfortunately does not carry yarn or books), and I went there because our air conditioner (which was repaired last week) needed some new filters (and as far as I can recall, our Neighborhood Market doesn’t really carry air filters, or at least the ones in the size we needed, 18″ x 18″ x 1″). So, while I was there, I also made the opportunity to pick up some yarn and add a couple of books to my collection (one cake of yarn and the books were bought with my own money; the other skeins only added about $10 to the grocery bill, not a huge dent).

So first, the yarn (which you may have seen in a layout version on my Instagram).

I got another cake of Lion Brand Mandala, this time in a colorway called “Mermaid”.

(Apologies for the bad lighting here; you’ll get to see a better picture of it a little later in this post.)

I knew as soon as I had started my Unicorn shawl that I wanted to knit a shawl in the same yarn, but in another colorway. Oh, and I love that this colorway has its own emoji as well, 🧜‍♀️.

I also picked up some more Red Heart Super Saver for Rock Me on the Bias, which is still very much in progress and nearly approaching the halfway point (but I think I’ll hold off on posting a WIP pic for that one right now). Again, apologies for the bad lighting.

The solid one is Soft White (which I’ve been using as an accent color here). The pink variegated is called Tourmaline, and then the purple and orange one is a Red Heart Stripes in Flamenco Stripes. You may see more of these in a future post.

(And you are not seeing things: that is a Bobblehead of Curt Schilling, a Buddha, and a Hawaiian hula dancer on my windowsill. The Buddha is there for financial good luck, as supposedly he is at his most powerful on a windowsill. Okay, I’m superstitious, and I will readily admit to that.)

Now, I do have a WIP on the needles, and it is a knitted shawl pattern called “Close to You” by Polish designer Justyna Lorkowska. Her pattern (whose Ravelry page I am linking to) is available as a free download on Ravelry, but if you’re in the position to where you’re able to buy patterns, I strongly suggest you at least check out her pattern store, where she has all sorts of shawl and hat patterns available for purchase. Her original pattern uses fingering weight hand painted yarn (The yarn for the shawl shown on her pattern page was actually hand-painted by her own husband!), but several Ravelers have used Lion Brand Mandala and larger needles to a very nice effect in their own projects. I’m using U.S. #6 circular needles (4.25 mm, as these are Boye needles) and I’m already into the second color on this cake, which goes from dark blues to light blue to white to gray to lavender back to the dark blues.

The bottom pic here shows the transition between the first color in the cake and the second (which is a darker blue).

I am a handful of repeats into this one, which calls for 19 repeats of the edging (a 12 row pattern repeat that I already have memorized, and I only cast on for this yesterday) before a picot bind-off, but if the wingspan (for those of you non-crafters, this refers to the length of the shawl from end to end horizontally) is a little short for my liking, I do have enough funds available for a second cake of Mandala if needed. The structure is basically an asymmetrical triangular shawl knit from end to end, a structure I have never knit before. (For comparison, the Unicorn shawl was a triangular shawl crocheted from the center out, and I have knit a few shawls in this style in the past as well.) I’m a bit excited to see how the gradient plays out with this one (especially since it’s being knit in a completely different style, direction, and structure from the Unicorn Shawl)!

I also bought two more books for my collection, although I won’t be reading these immediately. I am still in the midst of A Farewell to Arms and have Lord of the Flies, Catching Fire, and The Fountainhead to read before getting to these books, but I’m still glad to have added these two to my collection. I teased at these on my Instagram feed as well.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I am familiar with John Green, but not in the way that most people are used to. I discovered the Crash Course series of videos on YouTube a couple of years ago and have watched or attempted to watch several of the video series on there, including (but not limited to) the Astronomy series (hosted by Phil Plait), both World History series, and all of the Literature series (those series being hosted by John Green himself). It has introduced the phrases “…and it’s not cursing if you’re referring to a donkey…” and “…unless you’re the Mongols…” to my lexicon. I first heard of John Green’s books through their film adaptations, The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns (though I haven’t seen either film), but I had never read any of his books. I’ve found out that Looking for Alaska was Mr. Green’s first novel. I’ve been assured by Cassidy of A Raisin’ in the Spun (via Instagram) that it’s a good place to start, and I’m gonna have to take her word for it, as she is a huge John Green fan. I’ll see if this leads to me wanting to read all of his other novels.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This one is more of a wildcard. If my memory serves me correctly, this book was in a Recommended list on Goodreads because one of my favorite genres I had selected was Historical Fiction. This novel revolves around a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy and their unlikely bond in the midst of World War II. I had never heard of Anthony Doerr before seeing this book pop up on my list, but the plot overview interested me enough that I added it to my “Want to Read” list. I think these two books should round out the reading list for the year pretty nicely, and perhaps if I come into enough money, maybe I’ll be able to make a whole new haul for next year.

If you didn’t get the reference in the title, it’s the title line in the chorus of the song “Close to You” by The Carpenters. I’ve had this song playing over and over in my head since starting the “Close to You” shawl, both in The Carpenters’ version and in the style done by (the now husband and wife pair) Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis in character as Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart in an episode of That ’70s Show (in a fantasy sequence where when he sings during a dinner party the line, “In your eyes of blue”, she corrects him by saying, “They’re brown!”, and he replies with, “I know” in time to the music). I tend to associate a lot of things with music, if you hadn’t caught on to this blog by now. Have a great day, everybody!

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Motivation Lost and Found

So, you may not have seen much yarn work on here lately, and I do actually have a few good reasons:

  1. I haven’t been able to get to my local Walmart Supercenter lately to get more yarn, as I’ve been doing most of my grocery shopping at another Walmart, a smaller Neighborhood Market, which obviously doesn’t carry yarn. Even on a grocery trip, when I go to the Supercenter, I can usually pick up one or two skeins of Super Saver without breaking my grocery budget (and sometimes the occasional cake of Lion Brand Mandala).
  2. I mentioned previously that I was dealing with pain in my lower back that took quite a bit of wind out of my sails. To remind you what was going on, in late February I developed excruciating pain in my left lower back after, of all things, unclogging a toilet. The first couple of days I could only walk at a snail’s pace and bending over was next to impossible. My walking speed returned to normal after a couple of days, but the pain itself remained at somewhat the same intensity for about two weeks until it finally shrunk down to just a small knot of pain in my left lower back (not enough to mess with me, but just enough to let me know it was there). I had a couple of days where I had spasms in my lower right back, but they went away relatively quickly. Sleeping in my parents’ bed did not help much to alleviate the pain (it’s an old bed, and I sleep in it on nights when my dad works so that my mom has someone there to alleviate nighttime anxiety associated with her condition). It wasn’t until my dad took a preplanned week off from work at the beginning of April that my pain was finally able to completely go away. During that week, I remember thinking: Hmm…my back doesn’t hurt anymore. Okay! I have no clue what actually caused it in the first place, and I have no clue if my weight was related to it. It took about a month and a half for the pain to go away, but it finally did.
  3. Finally, I just had a general lack of motivation when it came to yarn stuff. My patchwork blanket isn’t gonna go anywhere project-wise until I can get more yarn. But I still had plenty of yarn left over from La vie en rose et violet to try and start something. So late last month, I picked up one of the partial skeins and my size 10 1/2 needles and decided to cast on a few stitches to see if I could stick with a throw knit on the bias, each partial skein’s section separated by a stripe of white. I am currently on my third color (not including the white), and this is what it looks like so far.

It’s a little bit crooked because of the stitches being bunched up on the needle. I have maybe a foot and a half of edging here (doing 2 increases per right side row and knitting the wrong side rows straight), and I have not started shaping the third side or top yet, as that will depend on how many stitches I can fit on this needle. Using size 8 or 9 needles, I could fit around 350-400 stitches on a circular needle this length, so it’s really a case of increasing until I get to the size I want along the edge, or if I run out of room on the needle, with a decent length edge I could probably still make a rectangular throw to fit over an armchair if I wanted. I’m kinda flying by the seat of my pants on this one!

The project doesn’t have an official name yet (because I believe every work of art, even if it’s yarn art, should have a title), but I am thinking of calling this one Rock Me On the Bias because when I posted the first picture of this to Instagram last month, I couldn’t help but sing “on the bias” to the tune of “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco. (Those who know me well know of my love of ’70s and ’80s music, and that song was one of the few Neue Deutsche Welle/German New Wave songs to become a hit here in the ’80s, along with the likes of “99 Luftballons” by Nena, “Da Da Da” by Trio, and “Oh Yeah” by Yello.) Do you think that’s a fitting title for this project?

Finally, I am almost finished reading Fahrenheit 451 and have just a handful of pages left to read (well, of the actual novel; my edition has at least 100 extra pages of supplemental material, some of it written by Ray Bradbury himself, which I may read through at a later time), which I hope to finish either tonight or tomorrow. It took me a little time (and some help from some of the ladies over on Ravelry) to figure out which book I’ll be reading next. And I’ve decided to step away from dystopian fiction for a little bit and go in a completely different direction. The next book I am taking on is: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway! I barely remember reading The Old Man and the Sea in high school, so I consider this my first serious attempt at reading Hemingway. I don’t know whether this will turn me on to more Hemingway or push me away from him permanently. Anyone who has read his work, feel free to give me your thoughts on him in the comments! I may also write a bit on my experience reading Fahrenheit 451 here soon if the inspiration strikes me.

And of course…here’s the song. Until next time, and cross your fingers in the hopes this project will stick!

The First Signs of Fall, a Work in Progress, and Remembering

The calendar reads October, and although the autumnal equinox happened nearly a month ago, it hasn’t felt much like it here.  Save for a few drier days with highs in the low and mid 80s F following Hurricane Irma, the heat that has defined the Florida summer has stuck around all the way into our Tenth Month.  Some of the leaves are only now starting to get the signal, and the weather has started to dry up.  Autumn doesn’t come in an instant in Florida…it’s a transition.  And the biggest sign of that transition will be coming shortly.

Later this week, we will have our first cold front approaching the area.  Albeit, this will be a weak cold front, but it will pack the first punch that will finally knock the summer heat out of the atmosphere over Florida.  We may be seeing some of our last 90s F for the year.  (I use the Fahrenheit abbreviation because I do have some followers that live in metric countries that use the Celsius scale, so the Fahrenheit abbreviation is there to avoid confusion.)  After rain associated with the front clears out, the daytime temperatures should go down to the low 80s F, and nighttime temperatures will remain comfortably in the low 70s F.  There could possibly be another cold front approaching next week and knocking our overnight lows into the upper 60s F, which is close to sweater weather here.  Even though I was born and raised here, I’ve never been a fan of the heat and humidity that comes with the Florida summers…but the autumns and winters here make it worth staying here.

Now, you know by now I am never not knitting, and the sign of a true knitter is that one almost always has something on the needles!  This one is no different.  I started working on the Wonder Woman Wrap about a week or so ago.  I initially cast on in Red Heart’s With Love in Peacock, but I knew there wouldn’t be enough there to finish the project.  So when I went to the store, I was hoping to find another skein of it.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to.  So, I decided to start again, this time in a different color, and I decided to pick out Red Heart’s Super Saver in Burgundy, which I figured would pair well with the Soft White I already had in the stash (which I decided to use because I am not a huge fan of yellow).  I should let you know that the resemblance to Santa’s outfit 🎅🏻 is not intentional.

Up to this writing, I am almost finished with the Lower W portion of the Wrap, with about 4 rows left to go before I begin the first of the two Side Stripes.  I don’t have any circular needles longer than 29 inches, so the stitches are completely bunched up, but you can get an idea of the size of the wrap.

Casting on…
First stages of the Lower W
Showing off my work while preparing to Stitch & Pitch (knit and watch baseball)
Halfway through the Lower W section
Four rows left in this section, right in the middle of the Lower W. Note the short row triangle worked below it in Burgundy.

And now the Remembering: I realize I’m a bit slow to this, but two weeks ago, we had one of the darkest days in recent history.  That Monday morning, I awoke to the news that the deadliest mass shooting in American history had taken place, surpassing even the death toll at Pulse just a year ago.  Nearly 60 people were killed and about another 500 were wounded.  My heart breaks for those victims and their families, even two weeks later.  And then later that day came the news that one of Florida’s most legendary musicians, and a man whose song I had just featured on this very blog two days before, had died.  I am, of course, referring to Tom Petty.  Petty was a musician who I think just about all of Florida would be proud to claim as their own, despite the fact that he spent most of his career in California.  Despite that, Petty always kept some sort of connection to his Southern roots in his music, be it in twangy guitar riffs, maintaining a drawl in his singing voice, or his band incorporating thumping drums or swampy, melodic harmonicas into their songs.  His partnership with The Heartbreakers was one that seemed poised to stand the test of time, and his collaborations with his fellow Traveling Wilburys were the things of legends.  Tom was taken from us suddenly and way too early, and two weeks later my heart 💔 still breaks for him and for his Heartbreakers who have lost their dear leader.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs of his, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”.

I hope to be able to share with you all about my brother’s wedding soon, as it will be taking place this weekend.  Next time I write, I shall have legally gained my first-ever set of in-laws.

While I Was Away (Or, Ermahgerd…Finished Objects!)

In case the title didn’t give it away…La vie en rose et violet is finally complete!


I actually finished this baby on September 6th (and I know this because I wrote the date down in notes I was keeping for the blog in the event of a much longer hiatus).  She turned out to be a thing of beauty.  It took me almost 6 months to finish, but I love how it turned out.

Name: La vie en rose et violet / Pattern: My own, improvised pattern using the mitering technique / Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in various colors: shades of pink, purple, Black, and Soft White / Needles: US #9 29-inch circular needles (5.25 mm diameter, and that is not a typo as these were Boye needles, whose #9 needles are manufactured slightly smaller than the industry standard diameter of 5.5 mm for this particular needle size)

My “knitting void” that resulted lasted all of about an hour.  Then inspiration struck me.  I noticed there were a couple of mostly full skeins of some shades of purple left over, and I got the idea (💡) to begin a garterlac throw, one that you could sling over the back of a chair.  And so I started to cast on.

Here is my current WIP, Orchid (named after one of the shades of purple Red Heart has, or specifically “Light Orchid”, which is the lighter shade here, which I would normally call “lavender”; the darker shade is officially called “Lavender” by Red Heart).

You’ll notice I have two different colors of circular needles in that picture.  This is because I am actually using two different styles of garter stitch in this project.  With the exception of the base triangles, all of the dark tiers of blocks are being worked in purl garter stitch (almost every stitch in every row is purled, and the tiers are joined in this set of blocks with a purl 2 together; I use this stitch because I am starting on the wrong side of the work when I work each block, as picking up the stitches for each block results in a right side and a wrong side), and for some reason I tend to purl somewhat looser than I knit (I have very uneven-looking flat stockinette for the same reason, and I have to use two different-sized needles when I work flat stockinette, with the purl rows being worked with the smaller needle).  In order to compensate for this, I am actually working those darker tiers with a smaller needle (a US #7 circular needle, which the lighter-colored needle in the picture) to keep the fabric from looking too loose.  The lighter tiers of blocks are being worked in standard knit garter stitch (every stitch in every row is knit, and the tiers are joined with ssk decreases: slip, slip, knit), which uses my standard needle for afghans, my US #9 circular needle, which is the darker, green needle in the picture.  I was in the process of slipping the stitches from the smaller needle to the larger one to begin the next tier, and decided to take the picture while the slipping stitches process was at the halfway point so it’s not all bunched up.  I hope to be able to share much more of this project as I go.

Finally, I decided to dip my toes back into crochet a little bit, and thanks to a YouTube video, I did my first little experiment in amigurumi.  It’s nothing too complicated…just a little ball.

I had no fiber-fill, so I used old yarn ends to stuff it instead.  See?  I actually do crochet!  Actually, Red Heart and Lion Brand have both recently released gradient self-striping yarns, and I’m tempted to crochet a shawl with either one of them at some point.  I’ve also found a couple of patterns that I’m tempted to knit in the near future, the Wonder Woman Wrap (I finally watched the movie with Gal Godot and my current celebrity crush Chris Pine during the hiatus, and it was awesome…probably the best movie adaptation of a DC comic since The Dark Knight), and a cowl pattern I found through Tumblr called the Pine Sway Cowl, although I probably wouldn’t make it in green.  I think either black and gray or charcoal gray and a soft white may be a better combo for my tastes.  Both of those patterns are available for free, by the way (I obviously can’t afford Ravelry’s paid patterns, so I am always on the lookout for quality and well-designed free patterns).

So that’s what I was up to with the yarn while I was away.  Obviously, there is an elephant 🐘 in the blog here, Hurricane Irma.  Honestly, Irma deserves her own posts, and yes…I did say posts.  The Irma Saga will be a two-parter.

Hope you enjoy the pics, and have a great day!

WIPs: The Hard Part is Almost Over!

So, the last time I left you with La vie en rose et violet, it pretty much looked like this:

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Well, it’s been about a month or so since my last major update, and I can show you that it now looks like this:

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Yes…the hard part is almost done!  I have an area of 8 rows and 5 columns left to work on this blanket before I start on the border.  40 squares.  That’s all that remains…just 40 squares.  I remember when this looked like a giant backwards L.  It has come a very long way since then.  I had guessed that I would finish this by the end of October, but now I think the date of completion may be closer to the end of August or the beginning of September.

Here are a couple more pictures of the more recent sections that I’ve worked on.

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I don’t know which project I’ll do next just yet.  I have my eyes set on a couple different wrap patterns, but I’m also looking at possible crochet projects to do.  I haven’t made my mind up just yet.  But what I do know is that I hope to be able to share a finished project with you very soon!

WIPs: 6/14/2017 (or, An Update on La vie en rose et violet)

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Detail from La vie en rose et violet

It’s been a while since I posted some actual knitting updates on here, mainly because I’ve been working on one big project instead of several smaller ones.  As you’ve seen before, I’ve been working on an afghan since March that I lovingly refer to as “La vie en rose et violet” (which is French for “Life in Pink and Purple” and a reference to the legendary song by Édith Piaf, “La vie en rose”).

The last time I wrote in depth about this project, I had been working on the sides to make the dimensions for one large, square afghan.  Since then, I’ve been slowly filling it in, churning out a few shapes in the span of a day or two.  According to my calculations, I will need to make the equivalent of 324 small squares to complete this afghan.  I am nowhere near that at the moment.  However, the 25 small squares I recently added in a checkerboard pattern does put me under 300 total small squares to go (and then some, considering I’ve already completed two side edges of it, equivalent of 18 small squares per side).

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The checkerboard!!!!1!1!!
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The checkerboard and immediate surrounding areas.

I also started a little bit on the lower left side of the afghan, and will probably start filling more of that in next.

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Portion of the lower left side of the afghan; the left edge of the checkerboard can be seen on the right side of the photo.

I hope to get more done soon, and once I have another sizable portion worked here, I’ll do another update.

Until later, and happy knitting (or for my non-knitting followers, happy reading)!

Why I Knit and Crochet, and WIPs 4/12/2017

 

(A preview of my Work in Progress in the photo above.)

I touched on my motivations for knitting in my debut post here, but I’d like to write a bit more about how knitting has touched my life.

I consider myself ambicraftuous, as in I can do both of the major yarn and needle crafts, knitting and crocheting, with relative ease, and this is not always the case with knitters or crocheters.  Some crocheters don’t know how to knit or knit sparingly, and some knitters don’t know how to crochet or crochet sparingly; a great little piece on this is the Yarn Harlot entry “Hooking Because I Have To”, where she talks about dipping into some crochet skills to help out her knitting.  Though I do tend to knit more than I crochet, these days, I don’t believe in being a “yarn snob” or a “knitting snob”.  I’m not going to stick my nose up at crocheters because there are amazing things out there that can be made with just yarn and a crochet hook.  I look on in sheer awe every time I see someone who’s crocheted an amigurumi figure or used the amigurumi method to come up with their own creations.  (I was never quite able to master amigurumi as a crocheter.).  Really fine thread and the skinniest of hooks can make incredibly intricate doilies and tablecloths.  Even with some cheap worsted weight yarn and a J hook, you could make a functional scarf or a colorful afghan.  I’ve crocheted a stole for The Lady Bryan’s mom and helped my maternal grandmother crochet granny square style afghans all the way back when I was 8 or 9 years old.  I’m not going to tell you what kind of yarn you should be using because there are yarns for just about every budget and need these days.  I am perfectly okay with using cheap, acrylic yarn.  I would love to be in a position where I’d be able to get wool, but being a homemaker at the moment, it is just not possible.  So acrylic it is.  It takes a little extra care when it comes to washing items made from it, but other than that, I don’t mind it at all.  In fact, my current Work In Progress (known in our crafting community as a “WIP” and pronounced like “whip”) is being made with acrylic yarn.  I will get to that WIP shortly.

Why do I craft?  I craft for many reasons.  I craft because I’m shy and sometimes have trouble socializing, and when people ask me about my projects, it serves as an icebreaker.  I craft because I can’t draw or paint very well.  I craft because it calms my nerves when I feel anxious.  I craft because when I feel upset about something, it helps me take my mind off why I feel so upset.  I craft because I’ve been inspired.  I craft because I need something, be it a sweater to protect me from cold winter winds (and we do get those down here in Florida) or a case for my crochet hooks (which I have done before using Star Stitch).  And most importantly, I craft because I love the act of crafting.

Okay, my WIP.  Over the years, I have made a number of patchwork and quilt-like afghans using the mitering method of creating knitted shapes.  Basically, mitering works like this: you cast on an odd number of stitches onto your knitting needles (and depending on the shape you want to create, you can cast on multiple sets of the same odd number of stitches: one set makes a small square, two makes a rectangle, three an L shape, and four a large square which I would normally work in the round), knit a wrong side row (purling the center stitch in each section), and then begin working the right side row in your chosen stitch pattern (I normally use garter stitch because of its simplicity), working a centered double decrease (slip 2 together knitwise, knit 1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch; this puts the stitch you purled in the previous row on top and makes a lovely stockinette column in the center of each section).  Work across the row, turn, work the wrong side row (purling the center stitch of each section), turn, lather, rinse, repeat until you’ve decreased to one stitch in each section depending on the shape you’re working.  Cut your yarn, leaving a tail for weaving, fasten off (if you’re working a small square) or secure stitches like you would in the top of a hat knit in the round, weave in ends.

This one I am working on is for nobody in particular; I started it with some scrap yarn I had on hand from an old Frankenball of yarn I had made from some leftover Red Heart Super Saver (the light pink L in the corner that you’ll see and some variegated purple and some solid black).  I only got two skeins of Red Heart yarn the last time I went to my local store (Dark Orchid, which is the solid dark purple, and Panther Pink, which is the pink and black variegated), but the next time I go, I plan on getting another three or four colors, depending on budget.  By the way, I used up every single scrap of the Panther Pink in this project.  I played yarn chicken trying to finish an L piece yesterday and just barely succeeded.  I had a short tail to weave in, but it wove in!  Here is a collection of pictures from my project so far.

I give you La vie en rose et violet, whose name is a take on a favorite song of mine, “La vie en rose” by Édith Piaf, and its name is also a reference to its color scheme, pink (“rose”) and purple (“violet”).

I hope my experiment with adding photos and links has gone well.  And most of all, I hope you enjoy the pictures that I’ve shared with you here.  I can’t wait to see how this afghan turns out, because I am having a lot of fun knitting this one so far!  Until next time…