Friday, May 22, 2015

Updates

Catkin WIP

I realize that restricted knitting time and project monogamy equals to a lack of blogging fodder, hence why it's been pretty quiet here on the blog. My hands and wrists are doing a lot better than they have in months but I'm still not back to my usual knitty self. I can now knit for longer periods of time though, as long as I remember to take frequent breaks and get up and stretch for a bit every time. There have been a few times in which I totally forgot - and I blame this on podcast binges (true crime podcasts are my weakness!) - and then wind up having to take a break from knitting for the following two days. 

Sock knitting is still not on the agenda and has been something I've been testing out here and there. Some days my hands can handle the tiny needles and I try to make that moment last for as long as I can, which is usually no more than five minutes at a time. I'm not going to push it though. I'll definitely take those five minutes over not at all anytime! Sadly, the socks I've been working on before my RSI happened no longer fit the Munchkin. I thought I was knitting them a little bigger than what he was at the time so that there was room for growth, but obviously I didn't knit them big enough. So now I'm stuck as to whether I should just finish them as is and gift them or if I should just frog the sock and knit myself a pair. I asked the Munchkin what I should do and if he would be upset over not having a pair of "Mummy made" hand-knit socks. He insisted that he was ok with this...but I can make it up to him by knitting him a sweater. But not just any old sweater. A Cowichan-style sweater. 

Oh dear.

My only response to that request so far has been: "we'll see". 

While I contemplate what I'm going to do about the socks, I'll keep plugging away on my Catkin shawl. This pattern has been quite enjoyable and I've worked on it enough now to be able to work on it with the Munchkin around and while the Mister chatters on about his day. I'm still on the first chart but can (finally!) see the end of that tunnel nearing soon, whereas last week it felt like I've been knitting for forever and a day and wasn't even close to being halfway through! I think the fact that all the rows are pattern rows is what makes me feel like a knitting slow poke. I was really hoping to have this finished in time to wear to the Munchkin's Parent Appreciation Tea event at his school but I highly doubt it considering that the tea is in three days and I have yet to even think about what kind of buttons would go with this pattern and my colour palette!

In other news, I'm not able to do much in the sewing department either. My hands still protest at even the slightest idea of holding a rotary cutter. This truly bums me out. I miss sewing and had my heart set on sewing up something special for the kiddo's teachers when the school year is over. For the time being I've managed to re-open and slowly update my Etsy shop with a few "as is" sale items (and a few regular bags on sale just for fun). I have plenty more drawstring bags to list and have dedicated next week to taking photos of them. Yay!! 

As far as I know next week won't be as busy as it has been these past few weeks and so I hope to squeeze in more knitting and more posts. Is it wrong of me to wish for a rainy day this weekend so that I can stay inside and knit and not feel guilty about the kiddo being stuck indoors? 


♥ 



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Knit In Progress: Catkin

TML - Steam Age & Baltic

Last month when I was able to start knitting again I thought I would be able to jump right back into the saddle with no problems. I mean, I knew from the get-go that I would have to limit my knitting time quite substantially but I honestly didn't think I would also have to limit what I was able to work on. In all my years and with all my previous bouts of tendonitis I was able to ease back into knitting with nary a hiccup. But not this time. Nope.

I discovered pretty quickly that my hands didn't like the idea of working with tiny yarn on tiny needles, but they were willing to knit with thicker yarns on anything bigger than a 3.25mm (US 3) needle. So I was able to (finally!) finish the knitting part on my PinkSand cardigan and then after realizing that I didn't have anything to work on that my hands could handle, I just had to cast on a few new projects. Yes, I HAD to. Heh...heh. One of them involves worsted weight yarn on 5mm (US 8) needles and the other was an experiment as to whether or not if I would be able to deal with tiny yarn on big needles. 

I've had the Catkin shawl pattern in my queue for over four years and even had a bunch of yarns and colour combos picked out to go with it. But I just never had the guts to cast on. I gave it a lot of thought and came to the conclusion that I didn't want to cast on because I just had too many options available to me and felt nervous that I would pick the wrong colours and would not wear the shawl in the end. I forced myself to get over it and since I already knew what yarn I wanted to use (Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, as recommended in the pattern) all I had to do was pick out colours that would go well with the general colour palette of my wardrobe. Initially I had wanted to use neutral colours, like black and grey, but I didn't have either enough or the right shade of black yarn in my stash. I'm not really on a yarn diet per se, but I've made it a goal at the beginning of the year to make an honest and true effort to knit more from stash (and to not just say that I'm going to knit from stash, then proceed to barely glance at all my bins and then quickly run to my LYS to buy something that I probably already have). Since I seem to be in a grey phase, I picked out a grey and went on a search to find the right contrasting colour to pair it with. 

TML - Steam Age

No, your eyes do not deceive you and no, this is not déjà vu. I really am knitting with Steam Age yet again. Steam Age is seriously one of my favourite MadTosh colourways. So much so that I think I had bought it in three different bases. I know, it's a total yarn piggy thing to do. I bought this skein of TML with no actual project in mind for it, but completely aware of how my brain works, I bought it knowing that I would either use it solo or in a group to knit a shawl of some sort. And here we are. But I'll confess: I did make a trip to my LYS to see if they had any TML in a blue that matched the blue in my skein. Bad news: they didn't; good news: I didn't have to veer off my goal and decided to just use a skein of Baltic that, once again, I had bought with no project in mind for. At first I hemmed and hawed over whether or not if Baltic was the right choice. I thought maybe it wasn't light enough and was too similar in saturation with the grey in Steam Age. There was only one way to find out - swatch. 

Normally I don't swatch for shawls (I know, I know...) but this time, aside from wanting to see how the colours looked knitted up together, there was something nudging at my gut and was demanding that I do a proper gauge swatch. I may not always trust my gut instincts when it comes to life matters, but when knitting is involved, I've learned that my gut has always been right. Whether I choose to listen to my instincts though, is a whole other story. This time, the voice in my head was really strong and loud, and experience has told me that when it's like this I should definitely listen. And boy, am I ever glad I did! 

Typically I'll knit a shawl in the recommended needle size and then hope for the best that a good, agressive blocking will sort out the rest. If I had done all that with this Catkin pattern I think I would have produced a very small, and probably un-wearable, shawl. My first gauge swatch was a little over half an inch too small in all directions! Yikes! BUT, I got to see that the colours really did look fantastic together!

Catkin Swatch
Photo ruthlessly taken from my Instagram feed

Would you believe that this is probably the first time in which I actually enjoyed knitting a swatch?!? And that I honestly didn't mind having to knit another?? It's crazy, I know! But how could I not enjoy it, just look at the swatch, it's so pretty! I 
whipped up another swatch and ended up having to go up two needle sizes. I'll say it again, I'm SO glad that I did a gauge swatch!

I wish I could say that since knitting the swatch that the actual knitting on the shawl has been smooth sailing, but it hasn't. I keep making simple mistakes, like not twisting my yarns at the beginning of each right side row (and then having to tink back two rows because I can't stand the long float along the edge). At one point I thought I had lost my knitting mojo because I had discovered an odd looking stitch amongst a row of garter. Something about it really bugged me and it took every fibre of my being to not drop down and try to fix it. Upon closer examination I noticed that the garter stripe that the stitch was a part of was wonky looking in general. To me it stood out from the other stripes and I thought that I had done something seriously wrong. Double checking the pattern instructions and then looking at other Catkin shawls on Ravelry, I saw that the garter stripe was suppose to look like that due to an increase row that happens right after. 

Hmmm.

Now, if I was smart and had read the entire pattern thoroughly before I started knitting and not just give it a quick scan to get the gist of it, I would've caught this oversight and made note to do the increase row a few rows after the garter stripe then I would have been able to avoid the wonky stripe action before it even had a chance to be knitted up. But who does that? Who reads over a pattern that meticulously before they start knitting?? What knitter makes their life that easy?

*ahem*

Anyhoo...

WIP - Catkin

I was too far ahead at this point to even think about ripping back to fix this issue, so I've left it. Shocking, yes. But I've also made it a goal this year to not be such a nit picky perfectionist. Especially when it involves knitting. Making and creating should be fun and stress-reducing, not the opposite! Surprisingly (after a few days) I've able to let this wonky stripe business slide and I've kept on knitting. A situation like this is when I really hope a good, aggressive block will do the trick in making things look good.

So far this pattern has been a nice knit. Last weekend I managed to finish the first section, which was easy and didn't involve too much attention (aside from remembering to twist those darn yarns if I don't want to weave in a thousand ends later) and now I'm onto the first chart. Judging from the swatch, I'm going to say from here on in this project will not be taken out of the house or worked on in a social setting. The charts aren't exactly difficult or overly finicky and there's no yarn overs to worry about (I always manage to miss yarn overs which completely messes me up), but the stitch pattern doesn't have a "resting row" and so each row has something different going on. Not familiar with the term "resting row"? It's a row in a pattern in which you straight up knit or purl. It's usually on the wrong side following a "pattern row", since the right side is generally where the design is worked on.

I'm sure that once I get going and I start to see the stitch pattern form, I could probably bring the project out to a knit night or something, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I would still find a way to mess it up somehow. So I think I'll stick to working on it at home. At night. When the Munchkin is in bed. Just in case. I get distracted too easily by shiny thi--

Ooohhh...Martina Behm has a new pattern out!

Oops! See? Mind of a magpie. That's me. Now where was I? Oh yes, Catkin. It's not leaving the house. But that's ok. My hands and wrists have been acting up this week and so I'm needing to take a little break from knitting anyways. It has been confirmed a few days ago that I do indeed have carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my hands. Luckily it's not severe and I don't need surgery. But to complicate matters more I'm also dealing with a super mild case of de Quervain's in both wrists AND metacarpal issues in my left thumb. Grrrr... I'm just glad that my doctors don't view my knitting as a cause of all this and have stated that I can continue to knit, albeit a teeny tiny bit at a time when my hands will allow it. They know and understand that knitting is my livelihood and what keeps me sane, and telling me to stop completely will mean nothing but mental anguish and sheer frustration. I just have to remind myself often to take more breaks.

So with that, I'm going to take a break from the computer and go sit in the sun while I eat lunch. 'Til next time...


♥ Happy knitting! ♥


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring Time Temptations

Lynai Yarns_

For someone who's currently temporarily limited in how much they can knit in day, I sure am looking at A LOT of yarn...and patterns. I'm not sure if it's due to spring and all the talk about starting fresh and new, if it's because I've been seeing so many knitting patterns go on sale in preparation for Mad May, or if this is just a case of Starteritis nipping at my heels but something is in the air that's making me want to knit ALLLL the things. I'm going to say it's all of the above. And maybe because I've been tossing the stash and handling each and every skein of yarn that I own. 

It kind of kills me to not be able to knit as much as I want to. Or even be able to knit at the speed that I'm used to. Not that it would matter anyways since I pretty much want to wear all the things that I've been eyeing up now. Some of the items on my list are hip length cardigans, which I know would normally take me at least 3-4 weeks to knit up IF it was the only project that I was diligently working on. Times this by the three cardigans that I desperately want to be wearing now...yeah, totally not feasible or even realistic. So really it's doing me no good to wallow on my current lack of knitting and speed when such things aren't even possible to do in the first place.

Then there's Mad May. For those of you not familiar with this event, it's Ravelry's Madelinetosh Lover's group's annual celebration of all things Madelinetosh. From the yarns to all the patterns that were designed using this brand, May is the month in which everything comes up MadTosh. The weeks leading up to Mad May is dedicated to "helping" (or as I like to call it, enabling) knitters in get ready for the event: designers put out discount codes for their patterns, makers of knitting notions and bags put on sales, and handfuls of KALs get revved up.

Due to my hands and wrists I won't be participating in any KALs but I have been keeping up on the sales. Which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because patterns that I've been eyeing but putting off on purchasing are being bought. Bad because I want to knit all those patterns up right now. It's such a vicious circle.

Skein

Regardless if I can knit at fast speeds or knit along or not, I'm still pulling out yarns from the stash and pairing them up with patterns in my queue and patterns recently purchased. Most of these yarns are fingering weight but I'm hoping to try knitting them up with bigger needles and seeing if my hands are ok with that. I had tried knitting on a sock last weekend and my hands had completely protested it. Thin yarn on tiny needles is just not in the cards for me at the moment. Which is sad because the two variegated yarns in the photo at the very top of this post are pegged to become socks. Socks that I'm just dying to knit up and am wanting to see how the yarns will knit up.

The yarn in the photo above? I'm trying to decide whether I want to knit it solo into a shawl or pair it up with a darker grey and make a two-tone shawl or cowl. Due to the typical spring weather that we have here on the island (where it's super nice and warm in the sun but absolutely bone chilling cold in the shade), I've got shawls on the brain to pair up with the layers that are necessary for island living. 

MT Pashmina 4

I think I would have been content picking out a pattern from my library but then last weekend Martina Behm came out with a new, ingenious reversible cabled shawl pattern called Braidsmaid that made me drop everything. My goal was to cast on for it over the weekend but I couldn't find any yarn in my stash that was suitable - unless I broke up a sweater quantity, which we all know I hate doing. A teeny tiny part of me was tempted to run to my LYS and pick up something fitting but I punched those thoughts right in the throat and stayed away from any place that sold yarn. I am determine to shop from stash only.

After much hemming and hawing, and yeah, a realistic talk with myself, I decided to break up a small lot. I don't think it was enough to knit a garment out of it anyways...or so I tell myself. Those 2 skeins of MadTosh Pashmina you see above? I think just might be destined to grow up to become a Braidsmaid. Oh yeah.

SweetGeorgia Superwash Sock

While trying to find yarn for Braidsmaid I stumbled on so many more yarny yummies that brought to mind some other patterns that I've been meaning or wanting to knit up. Like a few beautiful hanks of Wollmeise Lace-Garn for a Hitofude Cardigan and maybe a Veronika pullover (a pattern that was brought to my attention by Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts and her gorgeous version). A couple hanks of BFL sport weight for the newly released Naima cardigan (that peak-a-boo fair isle detail inside the pockets? Omg...be still my heart!), and handfuls of fingering weight skeins for shawls and a specific cowl.  


I thought I had sworn off knitting shawls for at least a year or so after last year's shawl frenzy in which I had knit four substantially sized shawls in a span of a few months for a school fundraiser and for teacher gifts, but after Braidsmaid was released I saw the other Martina Behm patterns that were in my queue and library that I still want to knit, as well as a few Melanie Berg patterns and well...it turns out that I'm not so sick of knitting shawls after all. Especially when I keep seeing all the great colour combos that were hidden deep in my stash - like the two skeins of SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash Sock that you see above. I've picked out pairings for numerous Endless Rainbow shawls, a Drachenfels (or two), a very typical me colour palette for a The Joker and the Thief, and an Assimilate

But then I spy the yarns that I had set aside years ago (cough...like in 2010 and 2011...cough) for shawls that, for some weird reason, I'm too scared to cast on for but so badly want to wear. I can't even think of a single reason as to why I'm scared and whenever I go over the pattern there's nothing there that actually intimidates me. Such odd behaviour!

Because I have quite the list of knits going on, I'm thinking for my sanity's sake I should stop looking at Ravelry's patterns page. I had told myself at the beginning of the year that I need to knit through all the patterns that I have in my library rather than accumulate more, and I have been doing a great job of that...until I was able to knit again. But let's not go there. 

Am I the only one who's feeling the bite of Starteritis? Anyone else have a lengthy list of knits they want to tackle? What patterns have caught your eye lately? Wait, on second thought, don't tell me! I better go knit on a WIP before I get myself in trouble...





Friday, April 10, 2015

It's Spring Cleaning Time

Spring Flowers

Like most people at this time of year
 I tend to give the house a major spring cleaning and try to purge as much excessive stuff that I can. I go through kitchen cupboards, hallway and bedroom closets, all drawers and shelves, bookcases, and yes, even the stash. Each new season I'm always amazed as to how much crap a family of three can accumulate in a few months. I've realized that a lot of it is paper related - random bills, reports, magazines, catalogs, receipts, random shopping lists, scribbled notes on scrap paper, and the Munchkin's art and school work. Most of these things I downright don't need and/or have learned to let go. A while ago when I had actually made it to a knit night a friend gave me a fantastic idea on how to organize the Munchkin's school stuff - it involves an expanding accordion-style file folder in which each year/grade has a designated pocket. Anything you want to keep from the year must all fit into that one pocket. Imagine having your child's works of art, report cards, gold starred essays, and test papers all in one handy (and tidy) spot. Perfecto, right? My friend's mother did this for her growing up and when she left home her mother handed her the file folder case as a keepsake. So awesome.

Anyhoo, then there's the kitchen. After years and years of working in coffee shops and restaurants the Mister and I have the FIFO method permanently embedded in our brains and without thinking I automatically put "death dates" on everything that we open. The cupboard that contains our mugs and jars though...well...I've admit it before: I hoard mugs. I'm addicted and can't resist buying mugs. If it's cute, if it's a souvenir, if it's knitting related...if I like it, I'll buy it. All.of.them. I'm weak when it comes to drinkware. And mason jars. I'm pretty sure my love for mason jars is a well known fact that's been documented several times on this blog. The Mister likes to joke that our house is a mason jar reserve. It's only recently that I finally agreed to recycle all the Atlas jars that our pasta sauce comes in, since the possibility is quite high that we will be buying more of it in the future. I've also convinced the Mr that I will not buy or bring home any more jars since finding 2 flats of unopened canning jars in the pantry. I totally forgot that I had them and now they're either being used as storage for all the bulk food items that I wasn't quite sure how to organize or patiently waiting for the local strawberry season to arrive.

Even though we're only 4 months into the year I think I've been doing a darn good job at not bringing any more stuff into the house. With every item that I contemplated on buying I've asked myself whether or not if I really needed it and what would realistically happen to it once I got it home. So far this little trick has worked and I'm happy to announce that not only have I not added to the piles of stuff around here but I also haven't bought a single scrap of fabric for my personal stash (even though I've been soooo tempted!!) AND I've even refrained from buying yarn!! Ok, I did cave back in February and bought some gorgeous yarn for socks but other than that, I've stayed away from all yarny updates and websites (I've even limited my Ravelry visits, that's how serious I am!). I'm sure that not being able to knit has helped in preventing me from buying more yarn as I didn't need to add to the stash when nothing was being knit up...which brings me to the spring cleaning of the stash.

Half of my stash is stored in the Munchkin's bedroom closet (seriously, how much closet space does a 6 year old need?) and the other half is in my side of my bedroom closet. A while back the Munchkin asked me when was he going to be able to have his entire closet back. I, of course, was speechless and probably looked like a deer in headlights. I knew this day would come in which I must either downsize or find a new place for the stash. I just didn't think it would be this soon. 

Crap.

I generally like to toss the stash once a season to refresh my mind of all the beauties that I have in my possession, and to make sure no bugs have decided to make a home in my precious yarn. During this time I also like to "cull the herd" a little in terms of pulling out any little cakes of leftover yarn or whatever extra skeins or balls that remain from a finished project and set them aside. Yarns that I no longer have feels for or once had a project attached to them but now don't due to a change in my style/tastes, get put aside too. This is usually a very rare occurrence but seeing how I need to reduce my belongings I gave everything a proper consideration. I'd like to say that I really did give it the old college try in attempting to downsize and while I did rustle up a small bin full of yarn I think I could have done a better job. It's just that in the back of my mind I can hear that little voice say "but it's yarn, it won't go bad...what if you need it?". You know we've all been there at least once. Don't deny!

A neighbour highly recommended to me that I read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, to deal with the stash...and the rest of the house. She claims the book and the KonMari Method described in it were complete game changers. After lamenting to the Mister numerous times over the period of a month about my frustrations with the constant clutter (even after a few so-called purging binges) I gave in and got in line to borrow a digital copy from the library. In the meantime that small bin of yarn will either get donated or destashed (I get asked about how I go about doing this at least once a season, so here's the link to to my guide/tutorial on Destashing 101), and I'll continue to contemplate each and every skein of yarn that's in my bedroom closet until I get my hands on that book. 

Have any of you read Marie Kondo's book? If so, did the Konmari Method work for you? If not, got any tips on small space living for a self-confessed packrat?





Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dusting Off

Knitting - Back in the saddle

So...this has been happening these past few days. Well, just the knitting part. Not so much the extravagant donut eating. Oh, but how I wish I was eating luxurious donuts every day! But the knitting, yes!! I've been knitting!!! I'm not getting too overly excited about it though, not getting my hopes up too much - just in case those hopes get dashed and I'm back to the miserable state of not being able to knit at all. Instead I'm relishing in the fact that I can knit at all! 

I still have to take it easy and not dive back into my usual ways and lengthy knit sessions. I'm only allowing myself to knit a few rows or rounds per day for the next couple of days and building up to a few rows/rounds per sit down. And definitely stretching a lot before, after, and between!! Since taking this photo I've learned that my hands really can't handle socks or tiny needle projects just yet. I experience mild tightness and rather than trying to grin and bare it, I've decided to just concentrate on knitting with bigger needles and thicker weight yarns...like my PinkSands cardigan project, which is just 2 sleeves away from being done. It's taking every fibre of my being (no pun intended!) to not just power through the sleeves and get this cardigan done already. I have to keep reminding myself that if I want to keep knitting I have to take it slow or I'll end up spending the next 3 months not being able to knit again. I seriously don't know if I can handle going that much longer without knitting!

In the meantime I've been ecstatic that I'm not feeling constant pain in my wrists any more and am SO incredibly thankful that the regular use of, and the nighttime wearing of braces has thoroughly helped in my recovery. Since wearing braces at night I've been finding that not only can I get some actual sleep but my sleep is restful and I'm not in that horrible state of being half awake, half asleep because I'm so aware of the pain in my wrists. It's totally cliché but it's amazing what a good night's sleep can do! And wow, I also cannot express just how good it feels to be able to knit again!!

I just have to remember to keep stretching...keep taking little breaks...move around, change positions. Speaking of which, maybe I should take this moment to do some stretches. And think about what I should knit next after I finish my PinkSands cardigan, now that my knitting game plan has to change to using heavier weight yarns for the next little while. Tell me, what have you been working on lately?




Friday, March 13, 2015

Hooked: Giant Granny Square Blanket


Whenever I start a fibre related project (which is usually knitting) I generally don't start up a project page in my Ravelry notebook right away. I typically wait a bit until the project is fairly underway before I feel like I can commit to granting the project its own page...and yeah, admitting that the project actually exists. You see, sometimes I get bouts of Starteritis and half of the time I'm casting on ALLLLL the projects that I want now, and the rest of the time I have no idea what I'm casting on. In cases like this I find it's the survival of the fittest - the project has to have the right marriage of yarn and pattern, the pattern itself must be enjoyable, and depending on my mindset the knit needs to have a certain level of speed to it. As in if I'm looking for instant gratification the knit should practically be knitting itself up or I need to see results within the first day. Or if the project has all the above characteristics listed and just happens to be a sweater, then that project just won the game and I'm totally up for ditching the other newly started projects and spending more than a weekend working on it.

If a project wasn't started due to Starteritis I still wait just in case things don't work out. For example, I could dislike the gauge I'm getting once the fabric gets bigger than my swatch and I get a better idea of how it will really look in the end, or I could wind up not loving the pairing of yarn to pattern. Yes, I know you can delete project pages on Ravelry if things don't work out but I don't want to have to do that. I'm weird like that. So I usually wait. Sometimes though, I wait too long and end up not creating a project page at all. It's rare, but it does happen.

As was the case with this non-knitting but fibre related project. Before my wrists and hands got really bad I was digging around my stash and came across a long forgotten project bag. Inside was a crochet project (I know...me, crochet??) that I had started many, many moons ago and had no idea why I stopped working on it, especially since the project was being worked up in one of my most favourite colour combos of all time. 

The project: a giant granny square blanket.


I'm just going to assume that I had stopped working on this project for two reasons: one, I most likely ditched it for a knitted sweater project; and two, it's crochet. Just so you know, I don't do crochet. I'm so not a crocheter. Don't take this the wrong way, I have nothing against crochet, it's just that I know nothing about crochet and it confuses me to no end. Most of the time I have no idea which stitch is which and where I should be sticking my hook into. Crocheters always make it look so incredibly easy and they whip up cowls in a blink of an eye or a blanket in a matter of a few days. But once I get my hands on a hook...a panicked frenzy ensues and nothing actually materializes or happens, unless you count the inevitable hook and ball of yarn flying across the room in sheer frustration as a form of progress.

This particular project though, I honestly cannot say much about it. I have no idea when it was started, why I thought I could do it...I don't even know what hook size I was using!! I literally left myself no notes as to what I was doing. Nothing. Zilch. The project bag contained a 20" square WIP attached to half a ball of yarn, 3 crochet hooks, and an extra ball of yarn. Since I didn't make a Ravelry page for this project I had to find alternative ways of gathering some sort of information about what was going on with this WIP. I searched my Ravelry stash page and discovered that I at least had the good sense to record the yarn and learned that I had bought 3 skeins of it at my LYS in the Spring of 2010. I have a feeling that's approximately around the time I had started this blanket. I didn't say why I had bought the yarn or what I had in mind for it, but I have a feeling that I bought it because it was pretty (I like to think I have since learned to make better and more wise yarn purchases). I searched all websites where I kept photos stored and aside from the stash photos only found the above 2 photos. That purple crochet hook that you see in the first photo? Yeah, it wasn't among the 3 hooks found in the project bag. Nice going Melissa, way to mess with yourself and practically guarantee that this blanket will never get done.

Before I forget to mention it (and before I get emails asking what it is), the yarn I'm using for this blanket is Noro Taiyo Aran. It's an interesting mix of cotton, silk, wool, and nylon that I'm not sure I would ever knit with (cotton always makes my hands hurt) but seems to be fine with crochet. I have a love/hate relationship with Noro - I absolutely love their beautiful and vibrant colourways, and while I like the idea of thick and thin yarn I'm definitely not a fan of knitting with it (I can't handle the uneven gauge). I've also been burned a few times too many in which a really thin part of the yarn (re: we're talking thinner than thread) had snapped in half on me. Then there's the whole issue with variegated colourways...if you know me or have been reading this blog for a while you'd know that I don't do variegated colours other than on my socks. I just can't handle not being in control of how the colours work up and when/where/how they will inevitably will pool or flash. Luckily a simple pattern like a granny square works magnificently with long colour repeat yarn like Noro.


My knowledge of crochet is so limited that I didn't even know what kind of stitch I was using. After perusing a few basic tutorials online and crocheting a few stitches with each of the hooks found in the project bag, I learned that I was hooking clusters of 3 double crochet stitches with a single chain between each cluster. From what I gather, I think this is typical for a granny square. Out of all the tutorials that I came across I think I found the one that I was originally following, due to the familiarity of the blog name and the instructions (it's over on Meet Me At Mike's, in case you're wondering), but I think I'll be referring to the Purl Bee's post for their version of the blanket (here, if you want to check it out) as I really like how clear their tutorials and photos are. But I think it's safe to say that what I'm doing is the most basic of basic beginner stuff and so finding help in case I screw up would b pretty easy.

I attempted to crochet a round (which took me f.o.r.e.v.e.r!!) and while I was making my way around the blanket I noticed that I had made a few mistakes. A couple of times I had made a solo double crochet stitch when it should have been a cluster, and I think I was screwing up with how I started the next round. One thing I like about crochet is that it's much easier to rip back than it is with knitting, so I ripped back to the first noted solo stitch and carried on. I really have no idea what in the world I did or what I'm doing wrong at the start/end of my rounds so I decided to leave them alone. It doesn't bug me and really, this is my first go at making a crochet blanket. I think I can give myself a break here.

The game plan, as you would've guessed based off of the title of this post, is to crochet a giant solo granny square big enough to fit on top of my king size bed. I only have 3 skeins of this Noro in my stash so most likely I'm going to have to find some more. I think my LYS no longer carries the yarn, at least I haven't seen a single skein of it in the shop, unless I'm totally blind and unaware (I wouldn't put it past me). So if anyone local has seen this yarn (in colour "1"...yeah, such a boring name for a beautiful colourway) please let me know! I think I'm going to need at least another 4-6 skeins!


Sadly I won't be able to work on this project until my wrists are better. I thought I could squeeze in some hooking here and there with my wrist splints on, but I discovered that the crochet motion is even worse for my wrists than knitting is. I also think I crochet like a freak of nature. Seriously. I look like I'm doing the chicken dance when I'm crocheting. My right arm flaps all over the place while I awkwardly try to hold onto the fabric with the left. I think I've raised a few eyebrows the last few times I've crocheted in public.

Even though I can't work on this project I thought I would blog about it anyways, cause who knows when I'll actually be able to work on it again...but when I do, I want to make sure I have some notes about it to refer to! Does anyone else do this? Start and work on projects and completely forgetting to write down anything about said project? I wonder what else I can find amongst my stash and crafting supplies? A part of me is scared to find out!  





Friday, March 6, 2015

Keeping Up With The Craftiness


I was really hoping that the next blog post I made after the woven blanket post would be about knitting because that would mean that I was actually knitting. Even if it was something super small like a few rounds or even a few stitches of a sock, just something that would indicate that I was at least knitting once again, you know? Sadly, much to my dismay, I have to report that my wrists are still out of commission. I had jumped into one of my project bags a bit too soon though and thought the 10 minutes of knitting (which was bliss) on a sock was ok and had honestly thought maybe I was good to go. Then the next morning I woke up and my wrists were burning up something fierce (which was hell) and I learned my lesson to not jump back into the saddle so soon - you'd think I would've known better by now.

So while I (impatiently) wait for my wrists to heal some more I've been delving into other areas of craftiness, like drawing (which can be awkward when wearing wrists braces), painting with acrylics, and cooking. Since both the Mister and Munchkin were sick of eating my baking I decided to give my (lack of) culinary skills a work out and try out some recipes that I've been meaning to make but never did. I'm always trying to find ways to get the Munchkin to eat more veggies (unlike most kids, he's not a smoothie in the morning type), whether it's getting him to try new-to-him veggies or sneaking it into his meals. I'm also always on the lookout for hearty soup recipes that just might have the power to change the Mister's mind about eating soup for dinner. Yes, he thinks you can't have soup for dinner...just lunch. He'll go as far as maybe soup as an appetizer but that's it. I've argued the case for stews or maybe he's just never come across a good, hearty, and filling soup. Nope. No dice. But he did consume several bowls of a vegan and dairy-free roasted cauliflower soup, and even the Munchkin enjoyed a small serving! I was so elated by this that I've made a crazy amount of soup and stocked up the freezer for future meals (in case you're wondering, I've use this Elana's Pantry recipe and please note: since the ingredient list is sparse the flavour of your stock has to be top notch).

Other crafty happenings: I made a crap-ton more dryer balls. The photo below is from my Instagram feed taken in the fall when I whipped up my first set. Since then I've been needing to make one or more balls every 3-4 weeks because one always goes missing or the Mister has told a co-worker, colleague, or friend about them and they wanted to try one out. I still can't believe that we had gone so long without trying them in our dryer before. We don't use those fabric anti-static dryer sheets because the Munchkin has super sensitive skin and I really don't like how clothes and especially towels feel after you've used them. I really do find that our laundry dries a little faster with these little balls of felted wool, but can't really say for sure if I've noticed a difference in static cling. Either way, they're more environmentally friendly than the throwaway sheets, they're fun to make, AND I've been able to use up the leftover bits of Cascade Eco Wool, Peruvia Quick, Cascade 220, and Patons Classic Wool that I always seem to have hidden in the stash somewhere.


In weaving news: I've finished weaving all the panels on my SeaGlass Blanket and now I'm waiting for my wrists to feel better before I attempt to sew the panels together. I'm super excited with how the last panel turned out and the second I cut it off the loom I had laid out all three panels on my bed to see how they looked together. It's quite obvious which panel was woven first and how off my measuring was compared to the other two but surprisingly I'm ok with the slight differences. If anything seeing the differences has inspired me to weave a plaid-like blanket next!

I'm also entertaining the idea of trying my hand at weaving with a simple frame loom but I just can't bring myself to dish out the $40-60 to buy one. So this weekend I'm thinking of stopping by a hardware store and seeing what I can rig up for a fraction of the price. But we'll see if I'll even get the chance to bring out the power tools (or even a hammer) because the Munchkin has a science experiment project that's due in two weeks that he needs to prepare and practice his speech for. I can tell you now, he's not looking forward to spending his two-week spring break working on a science project! It's a simple and fun experiment but unlike the rest of his class the Munchkin needs more time to prep, especially when it comes down to his "speech" since his speech delays forces him to work that much harder. I'm actually a little stressed out and nervous about his presentation.


Anyhoo, last week I bought myself a new set of my favourite pens (Paper Mate Flair, in case you're wondering) which has inspired me to start doodling again. Ah, nothing like brand spanking new stationary - and in rainbow formation! - to get you going!! Because of my wrists my writing has been somewhat of a mess lately (think doctors' notes!) but doodling doesn't need to be legible, so who cares? It's all good! I've forced myself to wear my wrist brace from time to time, even though it can be awkward, because the last thing I need is for doodling to unnecessarily injure my wrist even further. I've always been super private and self-conscious about my artwork and doodles, so don't expect a show-and-tell any time soon. I'm still learning to release the fear of showing others my sketchbook and have always admire those who have no qualms about it. I think I just need to grower thicker skin and because in my experience I've faced more "careless negativity" in terms of feedback. As in lots of people feel the need to put in their 2 cents without thinking it through and without realizing that their so-called harmless comment can be damaging ("this is nice but...", or "you should've done this to make it better", or "I did this ages ago!", or worse: "I saw someone do that exact thing but theirs was nicer because..."). Yeah, who needs that noise? Totally makes me shudder!

And because I know someone will want to know, the pen holder that you see on my sketchbook in the photo above was something that I had made years ago in university after spotting a graphic design student sporting one around a Chapters book store. Mine was made to fit a Moleskine notebook (hence why the elastic looks overly stretched out) that I had used as a day planner and colour-coded all my various activities. When I moved to Victoria I had ditched the pen sleeve and the whole colour-coding concept simply because my social calendar was never that active again. If it weren't for an old pen stuck to it, I would've never have found it amongst my pile of elastic while cleaning out my crafting supplies! The pen sleeve is basically a length of nylon webbing (just shy of the length or wide of a typical note or sketchbook) sewn to another length of elastic (that's about half on inch less at the ends to form a band, with a smaller width of elastic in the same length as the webbing sewn on top for the pens. I've seen beautiful variations of this idea everywhere - made out of fabric, ribbons, velcro; some had little pockets, some had slots for sticky notes. I keep meaning to expand on this but never got around to it.

These past few days my hands and wrists have been feeling a lot better but not 100% yet. I'm hesitant about diving into my knitting so I think I'll give myself at least another week before I make any attempts at picking up my knitting needles again. In the meantime I'm thoroughly enjoying the doodling, painting, and venturing into other crafty areas. Is anyone else trying their hand at a different craft? Any suggestions on what I should try next that won't be a strain on my wrists? 'Til next time...


♥ Happy Crafting!! ♥


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