Love in a Body and Two Sleeves

Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool

Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool

I work on finding balance every day. After a major work push and some frustrations it seemed like I needed a break in my knitting. I still have to do customer service and all the other aspects of my job, but at least my knitting time can be my own for a while.

One of my problems with Fibromyalgia is that I spend a lot of time (I think, perhaps too much time), focused inward. I have to self-assess multiple times a day. What is my pain level? How much energy do I have? Can I get my list of things done today, or do I need to scale it back? It’s exhausting.

So I really wanted to knit something for someone else. To knit my love and appreciation into something for someone else. So I’m making Amanda a sweater. You may recognize Amanda as the model who isn’t Ysolda from Little Red In the City. If you’re in the yarn trade or affiliated with the industry you probably also know that she’s the cheerful voice on the other end of the phone when you call Lorna’s Laces. She is also the best hugger in all the land.

IMG_20150218_093251So I’m making her a sweater. If I make you a sweater you know I really love you. I make sweaters for family and adopted family only. One time I made a custom fit, fingering weight, black sweater for a sister. THAT is a serious act of love.

It’s nice to get to work on someone else’s pattern. To not have to keep track of 7 different sizes for each portion, and to only make a single change (the length of the sleeves). It’s a break for my brain.

The pattern we decided on is Poolside by Isabell Kraemer. The yarn is Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool in a beautiful olive-toned green that’s been really hard to capture in varied light. The lace pattern is intuitive and engaging, and I applaud the use of short rows to shape the top-down raglan construction. One of the biggest problems with top-down raglan construction is that the front of your body and the back of your body are not the same length, so having a longer back is imperative to a good fit.

IMG_20150221_154832I’ve been posting progress pics to Instagram under the hashtag #DispatchesFromASweater. They’re like little postcards to Amanda from the sweater keeping her updated. Follow along if you’d like.

Who do you knit for? Are there some people you simply refuse to knit for?
M

Dalliance Shawl

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Dalliance1
The Dalliance Shawl is a simple and easy-to-work knitted garter stitch body that shines when edged with an intricate crocheted lace edging. Work it in a single yarn, or work the edging in a contrasting color. This shawl shines no matter what fiber you make it in. The 2-color version is worked in a silk/linen blend and the single color version is a wool blend.

Dalliance4
Yarn: 800 yards total of Fingering Weight yarn. 2-Color version shown in Anzula Breeze (65% Silk/35% Linen, 755 yards per 115g) in Emerald (MC) and Lenore (CC); single color version shown in Indigodragonfly CaribouBaa (100% Superwash Merino Wool, 435 yds per 100g) in Already Frogged. 2-Color Version uses about 650 yards for the body & 150 yards for the border. If you are cutting these yardages close, consider adjusting the size (see notes).

Gauge:18 sts & 36 rows = 4 inches (10cm) in garter stitch after blocking, 2 repeats, plus 1 dc of Edging pattern in 4 inches (10cm) after blocking.

Needles & Hooks: 3.75mm (US 5) 24- to 34-inch circular needle for flat knitting. 4mm (US G/6) crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Finished Size: 68 inches (172.7cm) across the wingspan, 30 inches (76.2 cm) from neck to bottom point. Notes include instructions to adjust size either larger or smaller.

Techniques Used: Knitting; knit, kfb, kfbf, slipped stitches. Crochet; chains, slip stitch, double crochet, single crochet, working into chain spaces, 2dctog, picot.

Dalliance3

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It’s also available on Craftsy :)

2015 Goals

I know I’m halfway through February (so it feels a bit odd talking about my goals), but every time I spend some time away from the blog I find it hard to come back. I get in an insular rut and it starts to feel weird to talk about what’s going on with the internet.

charlotte-new-years-eve-2015

So let’s talk about goals. I think it’s really important to keep your goals manageable, but still challenging. The first two have been carried over from 2014, but the rest are new.

1. Make a soufflé.
I have been watching Cynthia Nims’ French Home Cooking class on Craftsy, but I need to try it out with gluten free flour so that the Dude can eat it. I might give a gluten free chocolate soufflé a try for Valentine’s Day.

2. Make my own cheese.
I’ve watched classes, I’ve made farmer cheeses, but I want to make an aged, hard cheese. I just need to do it.

3. Keep Playing Guitar.
I started it in 2014, but I really need to keep going. Only practice will make it stick.

4. Sew Underwear.
I’ve been hoarding any jersey scraps large enough to cover my bottom to make a hybrid version of my 2 favorite underpants, but I’ve been thinking about expanding this goal to include bras. The Watson Bra pattern from Cloth Habit seems like it would be super comfy and I’ve been eyeing the kits for it from Blackbird Fabrics & Grey’s Fabric have me sorely tempted. I’ve also signed up for Beverly Johnson’s Sewing Bras class, so I feel pretty sure this will happen this year.

The pile of books I culled yesterday

The pile of books I culled yesterday

5. Declutter Office.
This one is actually close to done. I want to make the space usable and not the location of all the crap that I haven’t found space for. I need to put up the high shelf (which I mentioned in yesterday’s post), and build a sort of shipping station in the closet for all of the shipping supplies I keep around. I also want to do some more fiber/yarn destashing to help clean up the space. I’m also going to go through the bookbinding supplies and cull. Look for more info on these culled things shortly.

6. Scan new papers instead of filing.
I spent the end of December and a bit of January filing a backlog of about 6 years of papers. I had been stashing them in bags and boxes and shoving them all into the office closet (this was a big part of the office clutter problem). I have started a file for them to keep them in one place until I have time to scan them, and I am going to put a shelf in the printer table that makes it possible to keep the scanner out and usable. So I could scan once a month and not get too backlogged.

And FYI, if you’re thinking of taking a Craftsy Class to help you achieve your goals this year, they’re running a sale from yesterday through Monday. All classes are up to 50% off. Check it out! You can do anything when you give it some focus.

M

Tidying Up

notebook stack

My stack of notebooks. Bullet Journal on top, Morning Pages, then my lined and unlined design notebooks.

I’m not sure how much I’ve talked about it on the blog, but the Bullet Journal system has really changed my daily life. I love it. I love the flexibility of it, I love the way I can keep track of things all in one place. Once I think of something I can write it in my Bullet Journal and then I can relax knowing I won’t forget it because I have the written note to remind me and I can come back to it when I have the energy, or when I have the time. This is Year 2 of my Bullet Journaling and it’s fantastic.

I keep track of my weekly (sometimes for more) meal plans, so I can make my shopping list and avoid extra trips to the store. I track progress on new patterns and keep a list of the video tutorials I want to do. I keep track of my yearly goals (which I’m gonna talk about tomorrow), and my monthly calendars. I’ve modified the system a bit with a small notepaper that keeps track of things I want to do in the upcoming week or two but don’t want to move from day to day just to keep track of them. So I write them on the small notepaper, which is stuck inside the notebook with washi tape so it won’t fall out.

On Feb. 1st I started writing Morning Pages. Sometimes it’s been easy to fill 3 pages, sometimes it’s been hard. But I always find something I’ve been ignoring floating around inside my head flow down onto the paper. It’s also been helpful to keep track of how I feel in the morning before I get all involved with my daily tasks.

I’ve also been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And I’ve got a crazy list of organization/decluttering projects building in my Bullet Journal (the big one right now is the plan to put up high shelves above the door in my office to take advantage of the tall ceilings for storage space. So this year I’ll be talking a lot about organization and decluttering along with my other goals.

I have to have concrete things to work toward, but I know that Jasmin (of the Knitmore Girls Podcast) picks a theme for the year to keep in mind. What are you goals for this year? How do you pick what’s important for you to focus on?

M

Gift 1 Pattern, Get 1 Free

It’s that holiday time of the year. I am finishing up my gifts and mailing them out around the country. I’m also dreaming of the unencumbered knitting I will get to do when I’m finally done with the gifts.

I’m going to be warping my loom on the Solstice (Dec. 21), and I like to start a new project with the new year, so I’m making all sorts of crafty plans. To help you with your gift list AND your crafty plans, from now until the end of the year (Dec. 31, at midnight Mountain Time), if you gift one of my patterns via Ravelry (maybe to someone in your knitting group or to your favorite forum moderator), then send me a PM (to mimknits on Rav) and tell me what pattern you would like for yourself and I’ll gift it to you. Gift 1, Get 1.

Gifting ImageIf you’ve never gifted a pattern, just look for the box with the purchase and download info. See the little present in there? It allows you to send the pattern as a gift. Just click “send as gift” and fill in the recipient and message. Share your favorite pattern, or give a pattern that your knitting friends have been eyeing. For every pattern you gift, you can get one for free. So go nuts :D

And another hint… If you click on your friends’ profiles, you can view their queue or their favorites list to find patterns they might be wanting. :D

Happy Holidays (aka Cookie Time)!
M

Granny Log Cabin Blanket

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GrannyLogCabin1
Knitting and crochet fit together perfectly, with the bounce and thickness of garter stitch balancing cushy granny squares. These motifs are fun to work and a wonderful way to play with color. Adjust the number of squares to alter the size, or try making them in a larger yarn with larger hooks and needles.

GrannyLogCabin2
Yarn: Fingering weight yarn. Shown in a mix of Anzula Squishy (80% superwash Merino/10% Cashmere/10% Nylon) & Dreamy (75% Superwash Merino/15% Cashmere/10%Silk). Samples uses colors Seaside (C1), Lipstick (C2), Rootbeer (C3), Olivia (C4), Prudence (C5), & Aqua (C6). Each block took 14g of yarn.

Gauge: 23 sts & 56 rows = 4 inches (10cm) of garter stitch, 7 shells & 14 rounds in 4 inches (10cm) of Granny Square stitch.

Needles & Hooks: 3.5mm (US4) circular or straight needles for flat knitting & 3.5mm (Size E) crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Finished Sizes: Each block is 6 inches (15cm) square (each 5-round granny should be about 3.25 inches (8.25cm)). Finished afghan is made of 56 squares, laid out 8×7 with a finished measurement of 44 inches (112cm) tall & 50 inches (127cm) wide.

Techniques Used: Knitting; knit, purl, slipped stitches. Crochet; chains, slip stitch, double crochet, single crochet.

Tips & tricks for this pattern can be found here.

GrannyLogCabin4

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It’s also available on Craftsy :)

Tips for Granny Log Cabin Blocks

GrannyLogCabin4

1. If you’re new to crochet, I recommend checking out the series of articles Amy O’Neill Houck and I have been writing for knitty.com. Specifically this one on Granny Squares. Keep in mind that the version of a granny square you’re working in the pattern is slightly different, but the techniques are the same. This one on joining might also be helpful.

If you’re more of a video person, you should check out Kim P. Werker’s Craftsy Class. It walks you through all the beginning and intermediate crochet techniques with Kim’s signature charm.

2. I’ve got a handy video for picking up stitches on my YouTube channel..

Remember to pick up your stitches with the back side of the granny square facing you to get the pretty chained edge on the front.

3. If you’re finding that your granny squares aren’t laying flat, try working your corner chains a little looser. It can make a big difference.

4. Remember that your tension with a hook and your tension with knitting needles can be very different. I used a hook the same size as my knitting needles, but that is not necessarily the case for everyone. Try making your granny squares with different sized hooks until they meet the size requirements listed in the Finished Sizes section.

Bow River Pullover

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Bow River 5
Bow River is a fitted long sweater, perfectly cozy for nippy fall days, or layered with a top underneath for deep winter. Casual enough to pair with jeans, or dressed up with a skirt and a pretty belt, Bow River will become a wardrobe staple. Bow River features darted waist shaping for a subtle and feminine fit.

Bow River 4
Yarn: 970[1100, 1230, 1350, 1470, 1600, 1730] yards (890 [1010, 1125, 1235, 1345, 1465, 1585] m) of DK or sport weight yarn. Sample shown in Lorna’s Laces Sportmate (70% Wool/30% Outlast viscose, 270 yds per 100 g skein) in ‘Waistcoat’.

Gauge: 22 stitches & 32 rows in 4 inches (10cm) square in stockinette stitch, after blocking.

Needles: 3.75mm (US 5) circular needles, or size needed to obtain gauge. You will need a 16- or 20-inch (40- or 50-cm)circular, a 24-inch (60-cm) circular, and your preferred method for working smaller circumferences for the sleeve (see note). For the larger sizes, you might also prefer a 32-inch (80-cm) needle to work the majority of the body.

Notions: 4 stitch markers, plus 1 that looks different for the beginning of round; scrap yarn or holders to hold live stitches; tapestry needle to weave in ends.

Finished Sizes: XS[S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X] corresponding to bust circumference of approximately 30 [34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54] inches (76[86.5, 96.5, 106.5, 117, 127, 137]cm). For specific measurements see schematic.

Techniques Used: knit, purl, k2tog, ssk, kfb, short rows with instructions for the Shadow Wrap method, use of markers, m1, working stitches tbl.

BowRiver1

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It’s also available on Craftsy :)

Happy S-Oc(k)tober 1st!

IMG_20140918_185342Last week saw the first of the series of storms that usually brings our cold weather on, and it was so lovely to wear boots for the first time in a long time. The only thing that could make it better was the addition of hand-knit socks inside the boots.

I have a whole drawer (albeit a small drawer) full of handknit socks, some that rarely get worn, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my sock knitting should be for other people. At least for a little while. I’m making the dude a pair of striped socks, and meanwhile I’m coveting yarns from gynx and Spun Right Round for imaginary pairs to grace the feet of the people I love.

I also ran across this stunning sock again on Ravelry today and wanted very much to cast on a pair for myself even though I have 3 WIPs on the needles right now, and entirely too much to knit before Christmas.

To celebrate my deep and abiding affection for the humble handknit sock, all of my sock patterns are 15% off through my Ravelry Store (and this site which uses Ravelry’s cart system). Just add the patterns to your cart, and check out. No coupon needed, the discount will be automatically applied.

Mrs. Crosby & Broadwyn Giveaway

Satchel GiveawayMrs. Crosby is lovely, as is her yarn. Satchel, which I used for the Broadwyn Shawl, is a buttery Superwash Merino Wool Fingering Weight. It was a difficult decision which color to pick for Broadwyn, but in the end, I am a sucker for gray, and it would photograph well. So I chose Greystone.

But Mrs. Crosby’s yarn fairies were kind enough to send me 3 skeins of Satchel in “Green-Tailed Grackle”, a deep and glorious mix of greens for a giveaway! I’ll throw in a copy of Broadwyn (for you or for a gift if you’ve already bought the pattern) to make the giveaway complete.

So… here’s the deal… leave a comment on this post telling me where you would wear Broadwyn and I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday, September 26.

Yay! Looking forward to hearing from you!
M

Update: Out of 56 comments, the Random Number Generator picked #12, which is Sara! Congrats Sara! I sent you an email! :) Thanks for participating, everybody!