August 19, 2016

A Simple Hat Pattern and a Very Good Cause

The Georgia Fiber Fest is upon us once again (Sept. 8-10), and this year we are welcoming the SSK Yarners podcast to the event.  These lovely ladies have graciously volunteered to do a podcast about the festival, and we are very appreciative!

But the best part about the presence of SSK at the show is that they are directly connected to the STAND DOWN group, which provides volunteer aid to homeless veterans.  The ladies of SSK will be bringing a donation box to the show and will be collecting handmade (knit or crochet) hats that will be sent on to this organization. I couldn't be more on board with this!

So, folks, in case you'd like to donate, as I know all crafters are happy to do, I thought I would share my super simple hat pattern.  I like to work up hats for charities in a wool/acrylic blend so that they are machine washable and don't require much in the way of care.  I'm giving you two different sizes because you may also want to make hats for children's charities at some point.  Winter is, believe it or not, on the horizon.

Simple Hat Pattern:

Yarn: 82 g worsted weight for an adult hat; about 75 g for a child's hat
Needles: US 8 (5 mm) circular (about 24")
Gauge:  18 sts x 24 rows = 4" stocking st
Sizing:  Elementary aged child (Adult)

Using a long-tail cast-on method, CO 88 (96) sts. Join and work in a 2 x 2 or 1 x 1 rib for 4 inches.  Knit the next 4 inches (24 rows).

Rnd1: *K6, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 2 and all even rnds through Rnd 12: Knit.
Rnd 3: *K5, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 5: *K4, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 7: *K3, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 9: *K2, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 11: *K1, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 13: *K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.

Cut yarn, leaving a 6" tail.  Weave through live sts. Remove sts from needles and draw sts closed. Secure yarn tail on inside of hat and weave in any remaining ends.

You could knit this in your sleep, I'll bet. I hope that you will get on the bandwagon and knit up a hat for someone less fortunate this year, even if you just knit it and hand it to someone on the street as you pass them by.  I'm sure it would be appreciated.

June 24, 2016

So much knitting, so little progress

The unfortunate thing about succumbing to the desperate urge to cast on for a large number of projects at once, no matter how good the intentions, is that, ultimately, it seems like no progress is being made on anything.  Right now, I have a baby blanket (Bounce), a pair of knee socks (Sockmatician's Toe-Ups), a pair of cable-y socks (Paragon Socks) that have only the cuff done so there's no point in sharing a pic of that, a cardigan (Hitofude), a cape and a vest for the book, and a lace scarf on the needles.  If I'm going to be totally honest, there's also the Pi Shawl that I cast on about 16 months ago that languishes in the car and the Two Hearts sweater that has been languishing for slightly longer. The only projects that I have finished in the last 4 months or so are two consecutive pair of All About That Curve, both of which I cast on and knit feverishly because I got bored with the million other WIPs, and a much-modified version of the Amiga cardigan for the Shinybees Rav group. To say that I have created a situation of overwhelming stagnation is an understatement.  Really, I've backed myself into a stressful corner, as nearly all of the projects on the needles have looming deadlines.

So here's how it's going.  Bounce is suddenly at the forefront, as I was misinformed and the baby it is intended for will be arriving at least a month sooner than I thought. I am committed to working one full 12-row repeat a day.  I only have 18 more gradient repeats to go.

The Toe-Ups are probably not going to get finished before the KAL that they are a part of ends.  So, let me just give my final impression of this new pattern here because my insane choice to knit wool knee socks when the temperatures are in the upper 90s-low 100s every day in no way reflects the pattern. I do want to show off the amazingly invisible increases that I am working on the legs.

Overall, I think that if you are a toe-up sock knitter, this is a great pattern.  I'm neither a toe-up fan nor am I a single-sock knitter.  This pattern is clearly written for both.  I just don't like the fit of a toe-up sock through the heel and ankle, and the thrill of finishing is somewhat diminished for me when working a sock in reverse.  Finishing the leg is more like "Sigh. Finally. Well that was anticlimactic." Finishing the toe is a downright thrill. The super cool thing about this pattern is that, if you own an iPad, the math is automatically calculated for you.  I don't know many knitters who love doing the math on their own, so this is definitely a plus.

The only difficulty I had was with the gusset instructions, which weren't particularly clear to me, and I had to rip back and re-do.  I did post some more detailed instructions on my Rav project page for anyone who knits this pattern two-at-a-time.  Otherwise, it's a good pattern.

Hitofude is like the blanket in the regard that I am trying to knit one repeat per day.  So far, I'm up to 8 repeats and only have 6 to go.  I am enjoying this pattern now that I have it memorized and it is working up quickly, which is a plus because the blanket is not.  This fingering weight Silk Sheep flies through my hands, whereas the DK wool in the blanket, though incredibly soft and squishy, does not, and it also makes my arthritic hands and wrists hurt to work a heavy fabric on large needles.  I think I have also re-activated my golfer's elbow thanks to this blanket project.

And I can't show you anything else because it's top secret book knitting. We've been exploring our publishing options recently, so I've had less time for knitting on these items than usual.  Also, my life this week has been in a total chaotic shambles, for most of which I blame the appocolyptically hot and dry weather and Chester, the stupid donkey who won't stay in his pasture despite barbed wire and electric fence.

Alright, well, I have livestock to feed and chores to do before I can get back to feeling like a human knitting machine.  Have a great weekend!

June 14, 2016

In Reverse

I think that we would all agree that I'm a pretty prolific knitter of things. And, I'm not going to lie, when it comes to knitting socks, I am a sock addict. You will find me with at least one, sometimes two or three, pair of socks on the needles.  If I don't have 20 other WIPs going at the same time, I can whip out a pair in about a week (unless they are for my husband).  But, I'm a top-down gal, and having only done one pair of socks from the toe up, and granted, the fact that I had to re-knit that pair 7 times until my husband was completely satisfied with the fit may be coloring my viewpoint, but I can honestly say that top-down is the only way my brain likes to work a sock because in reverse, the math doesn't make much sense to me.  And although I totally know how to work 2-at-a-time, toe-up, I pointedly choose not to do it.

Until now.

So let me rewind and explain.  There's a British video podcast that I thoroughly enjoy watching now that I've just recently discovered the video podcast scene.  The podcaster is Nathan Taylor, who is also Sockmatician on Ravelry and a plethera of social media, and although we do differ on some of our views, I have found a kindred spirit in the love of musical theatre, advancing correct grammatical form (does that sound as "English teacher" to you as it does in my head?), and sock knitting.  Only, here's the thing: he knits socks toe-up.  Recently, he wrote a sock pattern that is so awesomely and mathematically ingenious that I feel like it would be a disservice to sock knitting if I didn't at least try it.  I mean, when someone figures out how to create a pattern that allows you to input your base measurements and then automatically generates ALL of the numbers to custom-fit your foot as you knit (you have to have an iPad for that automatic part--sorry Windows users) ... well I appreciate a man who does the math for me, don't you? Not going to lie. That's one of the perks of being married to an engineer.

Now, I also have this new yarn base, Traveler, and I have been dying (no pun intended) to use it for a pair of socks.  Yesterday, I cast on for the Sockmatician's Toe-Ups. The pattern is great and the math is done for me, but ... it's backward.  My brain is really struggling with working the part of the toe first that I always so look forward to working last.  It's like the week before last when I gave everyone desert before dinner.  The kids were so befuddled by homemade pound cake (with homegrown, sliced peaches drizzled in blackberry sauce and topped with whipped cream) that they didn't know if they should eat it or it just look at it.  There were questions, like "What are we supposed to do with this?" and "Where's dinner?" and "What kind of witchery is this?" That's how I am feeling about working socks backward, especially since the toes, based on my experience, seem to be very narrow.

The amount of brain activity that it has taken for me to repeat two increase rows would astound you.  However, for as much as I have struggled with this, I really think that this sock pattern deserves a proper test because, if you can't knit it 2-at-a-time, it's not worth knitting.  Of course, the important thing is that my Guitar God colorway looks fabulous!

I will, as the Sockmatician says, "crack on" with this toe-up madness and we'll just see how it goes.

June 06, 2016

Random on a Monday

So Monday begins again and even though it's still early, I'm already feeling like the keeper in the zoo when all of the animals are out of their cages and going wild.

In farm news ... All of the lambs have finally lost their tails.  Frenchie was the last one and I am happy to report that after a touch-and-go last two weeks, she is finally looking and acting like a healthy lamb should.  Lennie, her pen mate, is just plain wild and ready to go out and show everyone who's boss.

In family news ... Scout 1 had a work-related accident on Saturday and is on crutches with stitches this week.  Although it appears to be less severe than the doctor initially thought, meaning no fractured ankle, having a 19 year old that can't do for himself has been a bit ... more work for the mama. This mama doesn't need any more to do on her list. Scout #2 has his first retail job, and he seems to like it.  He's saving up for car insurance, so until he has his car, I'm his personal driver. And Rocket went to basketball camp yesterday for her first sleep-away camp. She's at the University of Georgia being coached for three days by the entire Lady Dogs coaching staff AND the entire Lady Dogs basketball team.  The graduated seniors even stuck around for camp this week, which was a total surprise.  She's torn between being more exhausted than she has ever been in her life and being star struck.  She took pictures yesterday with her two basketball heroines and was on cloud 9, so good for her!

with "Patches" Roberts
In knitting news ... About a month ago, I got it into my head that if I cast on for a bunch of things at once, then I would be more likely to get them done because I could just rotate and never get bored.  Well, I have 5 new projects on the needles right now, and pitiful little to show for it.  Turns out, when I only focus a little on each one, I get the feeling that nothing is every going to get done and so all of these projects are now making me feel more overwhelmed than entertained.  Also, for the first time ever, all but one of my WIPs are in my own yarn.  Not sure how that happened because the stash bug bit and I have an embarrassingly large amount of yarn that has been added to the stash over the last 6 weeks or so with specific purpose--most Christmas knitting.

I have a new pair of All About That Curve on the needles (nearly half finished) in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Gypsy in the Electric Algae colorway.  I am REALLY liking how this knits up, too!

I have Hitofude by Hiroko Fukatsu on the needles in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Silk Sheep in the Veridian colorway. I put this down about 2 days after I started it, and returned to it last night.  Initially, it was one of those projects that I couldn't find a rhythm for, but when I picked it back up last night, it sailed across the needles.  I am going to find it hard to put this one down again.  I am planning to have it finished for the Georgia Fiber Fest in September, so I have some time yet on this one. (Why yes, that is a large Cedar Hill Farm Co. square-bottom bags in the photo!)

I have a new sweater vest design on the needles for the book I'm working on in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Journey in the Lerwick colorway.  This one has been floating about in my brain for a while and it only decided to come out on Saturday, which was a very inconvenient day for me to be compelled like a mad woman to get it cast on and start on the writing of it.

I have a new Serendipity scarf on the needles in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Gypsy in the Iris colorway.  I've worn the original down to something not quite good enough to display at shows, so it's time for a new one.  Purples aren't usually my thing, but I'm quite drawn to purple lately, and that's probably a direct result of my lingering grief over the death of Prince. I was hit unexpectedly hard by that one.

I have Bounce by Tin Can Knits on the needles.  I'm making this as a shower gift for my husband's step-daughter from a previous marriage in a new line that won't be released in the shop until Fall, 2016.  This is a super wash, SUPER squishy DK that hasn't been named yet.  I did gradients in two main colors, teal and canteloup, and then cream, her other color of choice is the border color.  Two colors in 11 gradient shades each.  I hope this turns out to her liking.  I've had a very difficult time trying to decide how to place the colors, and I finally decided to do dark to light, from the edge to the center, for each color.  To me, these colors just don't jive well with one another in a "baby" fashion, so to avoid the risk of it ending up ugly, I'm just taking that safe route.  There is much more work to this blanket than I anticipated, and this is another of those projects where I haven't found a rhythm yet. But, like the Serendipity Scarf, Hitofude, and the two book projects, I have until September to cast off.

It's beginning to sound like September is going to be FO madness.

And lastly, the ever languishing sea of stocking stitch that is evolving at a snail's pace into a hooded cape for the book is on the needles.  This is one of those projects where, despite the fact that I knit like the wind, you get to the end of the row and feel like there should be a prize for having just finished the row.  Right now it's at 334 stitches in a worsted weight Cascade 220 superwash.  And I'm knitting it in the summer, in Georgia, in temperatures that suggest we live in the Sahara Desert instead of in the Appalachian foothills.  So, yeah, every row deserves a celebration.  I put this down for quite a bit because also I can't find a rhythm.  I've tried to make a deal with myself to do three rows a day because this really does need to get done and there will be so much embellishment work that the body is going to seam like a breeze. It's day 4 of that deal and I'm mostly on track so far.

Well, that's what I have going on as this week begins. Hope your week is a great one!

May 26, 2016

All About That Curve Ankle Socks

There's a new ankle sock pattern in town and it's kinda uni-sexy!  Introducing All About That Curve Ankle Socks! Written to include three foot circumference sizes (8", 9" and 10"), this two-at-a-time, top-down sock pattern is EXACTLY what you've been missing in your life. Exactly.

Designed for use with Cedar Hill Farm Company's Gypsy (light fingering weight Australian merino yarn), this ankle sock is completely different from anything out there right now. It utilizes the Sweet Tomato Heel--which is sheer genius so thank you Cat Bordhi--and a round toe design that is customized for this pattern.  I've always been a mid-calf kind of gal, but these ankle socks are perfect for wearing to bed or padding around the house.  Because the weight of the yarn is so light, they'd also be pretty great in a pair of tennis shoes.

 If you have never worked a Sweet Tomato Heel, no worries.  In addition the the step-by-step instructions, there's also a link to a video tutorial. The round toe is a modification of the traditional decrease for working in-the-round, so no worries there, either.

Although this pattern is written for use with a single circular needle, it can be worked with two circular needles or DPNs if that's your thing.  If you aren't into working socks two-at-a-time, you can simply follow the instructions for Sock A and then repeat for a second sock.

And did I mention that there will be a kit for this pattern available in the very near future that includes stitch markers that have been specially designed for this pattern?  Oh yes, indeed! You'll want to make sure to be signed up for my newsletter so that you are the first to know when the kits become available.

Now, the fact that this pattern can be worked for both men and women is significant.  I know that there are a growing number of male knitters out there who like to knit socks.  I also know that there aren't that many sock patterns for men out there that don't look all kinds of girly.  I know that this sock pattern is completely unisex simply because the husband, who will only wear plain socks in neutral colors, said as soon as he saw them--even though the test knit was pool-y and not at all neutral in color--"Now that's a sock I'd wear! Make me some."  So, there you go. Officially endorsed by the pickiest male sock wearer on the planet. Now you have to knit up a pair. The husband has spoken.

You can get a copy of the pattern on Ravelry, Craftsy, or from the online shop.

May 25, 2016

Back on Track

You may have been wondering where I've been.  It seems like 2016 and time for blog posting has been like oil and water.  There's just been so much going on that something has had to give.  Well, truth be told, quite a few things have had to fall to the wayside. The husband and I had our first date night this past weekend since December.  That's how crazy it has been.  We have been just that completely enslaved to the farm projects.

First, it was that I needed to put in the garden--and then it stopped raining altogether and the weather got very unseasonal--and an insane amount of work has had to be done to keep everything alive, though the tomatoes have been a drama and I've lost nearly all of them. It still isn't raining ... except for the first day that the roofers showed up to put OSB on the barn a couple weeks ago, which was also when the farrier was finally able to come to do hooves, in which case the sky opened up like we were in the midst of a hurricane, not once, but three times.

The *%#!# barn has also sucked all of the time and energy out of my spring and everyone else's in our little family. In the course of three weeks, and under a deadline from the bank, we had to build 31 roof trusses (16 ft high by 40 ft wide) one-at-a-time on the second story of the barn (very hilly here and not a lot of flat ground to work with), lift each one off of the second story with a 42 ft forklift, and set it in the stack.  When we had 31, we had to set them ourselves, one at a time, beginning at the part of the barn that is 24+ feet off the ground.  I have a SERIOUSLY DEBILITATING fear of falling. I can't see how, with having to stand at the edge to set every truss, and then that little accident that involved the dropping of a truss from 20 ft in the air on top of me early on in the process, I didn't end up in the psych ward.  But here we are, on the other side of it, with hopefully a stronger family bond and a very clear understanding of our limits.  Basically, we can do just about anything, the five of us.  And look what we did, all by ourselves except for a little block work and roofing:

It's large enough that our house could actually fit inside of it with room to spare.  No joke.  It's 36 ft x 60 ft with 2 stories (each one 12 ft high) and a partial basement.We rock.  I think we also have the largest barn for miles around. And I could not be more grateful to the guys from Team Roofing in Athens, Georgia who came out, were the first company to ever give us a fair price in this barn endeavor, and were completely insane enough to climb up and down that roof with grappling hooks and a rope or two. That, my friends, was my limit. I don't do roofing.

And then there was the sheep drama, which continues to make me cranky and tired.  Blanche and Stella got pregnant in December, which is late, because I knew from the Farmer's Almanac that this would be an unseasonable cold spring and I also knew that there was no chance that we would have the barn finished and lambing pens set up in it by the beginning of April.  So the ladies were due in May.  Stella surprised us all by being a week early and quietly having triplets.  One of them was a little puny (Frenchie) and it took a good 24 hours to get her to feed correctly.

Blanche, on the other hand, the world's worst mother, was two weeks past her expected due date and created serious worry that she would deliver stillborn lambs.  Nope, she decided, while we were roofing the barn, to also have triplets.  Because she is the worst mother ever, she forgot the last two that she delivered and had to be coerced to clean them.

Then, she flat out refused to accept the second-born (Lennie).  He had to be a bottle baby and I have had to go out to her pen and feed him every 4 hours for the last two weeks.

Yesterday, doubtless because Frenchie has some pretty sharp and snaggly looking teeth that have just come in, I realized that Stella had officially abandoned her and that she was so weak from not having been fed enough that she could barely stand.

Because Mother Nature has replaced our Georgia May weather with weather found in Minnesota or Michigan, Frenchie had to spend the night in a cage in the laundry room and is now living with Lennie in the dog pen so that I don't have to chase them both down at feeding time (which is still every 4 hours). Did I mention that I make their formula from scratch because what you get from the feed store, based on last year's experience, is crap? Sometimes, for just a second or two, I think that all of this is not worth producing a few skeins of yarn.

Speaking of yarn ... Any day now (I'm thinking tomorrow), I'm going to be dyeing up a whole batch of it and getting back on track with the online shop.  Most specifically, I'll be dyeing more Gypsy because I have a new two-at-a-time ankle sock pattern called All About That Curve (more on that tomorrow, but you can check out the pattern today on Ravelry or in the online shop) that was designed for that line of yarn.  I'm going to be doing a kit for this pattern with that yarn and some pretty exclusive and awesome stitch markers, so more on that next time, too.  I'll also be dyeing up a new yarn line, Traveler, which is a fingering weight 75/25 Superwash BFL/Nylon blend.  It's very close in its composition and durability to my discontinued Rocket Sock Medium (there's still a bit of that left in the shop if you want one last skein), but it's a little lighter weight.  It's also going to be a series of eye-popping tonal dyes that you aren't going to be able to live without.  So also be looking for the post about that.  Of course, if you subscribe to my newsletter, you will also get a note about it in your inbox.

And there we are.  A little bit of normalcy--well for about 5 seconds because the kids are suddenly out of school for the summer--has returned to my life and I'm looking forward to having time to write a blog post or two once in a while.

April 13, 2016

Sweater Evolution

I began knitting another Amiga cardigan in March as part of the Shinybees Rewind KAL.  I have been putting off making this sweater for literally ages and ages. Not because I didn't want another one, but because I just wasn't sure which yarn wanted to be this sweater. I am happy to report that it is officially an FO, with only the bath and blocking left to be done.

The road to finishing this FO was a challenging one.  I had 2 skeins of the original Touch Possum yarn in my stash that were as similar as two skeins of any natural, undyed yarn can be. (Now they blend it with silk and such, but mine is just New Zealand merino and possum.) I have had these in my stash for at least 4 years with the expectation that I would save them until I was sure that whatever I knit with them would be a treasure that I would wear all the time.  Well, turns out that I saved these treasures so long that the yarn is now discontinued and there is no more. Anywhere. On the planet. None.  I was even assisted by the people at the Touch home office in New Zealand in my search for just one more skein, and even they came up empty-handed. No one is willing to give up or admit that they have any ... which should tell the people at Touch that THIS is a yarn worth producing, right?!

So what did that mean for this project?  It meant that I couldn't just order another skein if I ran short.  It meant that from the cast on I was playing chicken with this yarn for any sweater project that I chose.  Having worn out my other Amiga cardigan (repairs are coming shortly, as I have just discovered the lost "extra" skein I saved just in case), I decided that this pattern was exactly what I wanted to use my possum yarn for, and it did turn out quite lovely.  EXCEPT.

If you are familiar with the Amiga pattern, then you know that my FO looks more or less NOTHING like the one pictured on the pattern.  There had to be a few adjustments to accommodate my limited quantity of yarn and the way the yarn lay as a fabric.  None of this did I have in mind until I had cast on and had worked my way through the yoke and realized that there was a very distinct possibility that I would run out of yarn without having finished the sweater.

Spoiler Alert! I had this much left when it was all said and done:

Modifications abounded with this pattern. First, I had to knit a longer raglan seam for the yoke to accommodate my bust size, and that used more yarn than what the pattern required. So then, I knit to the end of the first skein which, to my sheer amazement, took me to within 4 inches of where I wanted the sweater length to be.  At this point, I put the body on some waste yarn and started work on the sleeves. There was absolutely no way that I could figure out from the original pattern how much yarn would be used for each of the remaining parts of the sweater.  From this point on, it was a total guessing game!

I decided that it would be a good idea to do a shorter sleeve than on my previous Amiga.  The pattern calls for a 3/4 inch sleeve, but I knew that the sleeves would roll at the cuff because of the yarn and the straight-knit arm.  To save yarn, I tapered the sleeves by 12 stitches over 48 rows to the inner elbow and then I knit a 4-inch 1 x 1 ribbed cuff.  The sleeves fold up nicely at the elbow, which is perfect for both wearing over a tank top in the summer and for wearing over a long-sleeved shirt in the winter since I tend to push up the sleeves anyway.

I had a little more than half of a skein left at this point, (60 g), so I divided it up, leaving about 55% (33 g) for the collar band and 45% (28g) for the remainder of the body.  I added 4 inches to the body, including a bottom band so that it wouldn't roll up, and a miracle happened.  I had yarn left over!

I took the leftovers and added them to the collar yarn that I had set aside: 44 grams!

There was a good deal of splicing of this yarn to avoid having to weave in a bunch of ends on an airy fabric--you would have been able to see those ends on the RS as well as the WS in the right lighting.  I used the Russian Join method, not just to join the ends of the leftovers, but throughout the sweater. The one thing that this yarn was infamous for was knotted joins throughout the skeins.

The miraculous result was that I finished with a 5-inch, 1 x 1 ribbed collar band in the end.  That's enough to bridge the gap across the chest and close with a shawl pin if necessary or to wear as pictured, with the collar folded over.

I had approximately 1.5 yards of yarn remaining.  I will put this tiny bit of treasure in the safe just in case a repair has to be done in the future.  (Not joking.) I am so in love with this sweater that I know that I made exactly the right choice for this treasure of a yarn. I hope that your spring knitting is bringing you this much joy, too!

March 30, 2016

On the Other Side of the Crazy

I've managed to come out on the other side of the back-to-back yarn festivals a little worse for wear.  The first (Spring Fling) was a piece of cake and a fairly short commute--only about 90 minutes each way. The second (the Carolina Fiber Fest) was a grueling turn-and-burn that more or less took all of the fun out of the Easter weekend. The extra 90 minutes each way thanks to A) 60 miles of road construction and very bizarre road planning in North Carolina and B) the not-quite-steady-rain that blurred the windshield but was only really enough to make the wipers squeak for 6 hours on the night-time return trip did me in.  There was only one hectic day between traveling.  I came home to a house needing a good clean-up, Easter dinner to cook, and a huge yarn order for Rainy Day Yarns in Seattle to tackle. (Note: If you are participating in the Seattle April yarn crawl, you will want to go to Rainy Day Yarns first because the yarn I dyed up yesterday is so absolutely gorgeous that it won't be around but for about five minutes. Just sayin'.)

The thing about me and traveling is that I can't sleep in hotel rooms with any degree of comfort.  The air/heat is always just musty enough to send my allergies over the top and the beds are always disagreeable.  I never get any sleep when I travel because I always feel like I might as well be sleeping on the floor. And so, 4 days later, I still feel pretty wiped.

But, here we are on the other side of the crazy and I have two lovelies to share. The first is my Arboretum Shawl, which I designed in 2014, submitted to Knit Edge Magazine for publication in 2015, and just now am seeing in print in the April, 2016 edition.  After a series of changes in editors and production staff that just seemed to be on-going, Arboretum is finally in print.  It is also on Ravelry if you want to check out the details, though you have to purchase the magazine, I believe, to get a copy of the pattern.  Or, you can wait 4 months until August when the rights come back to me and buy the single copy then.  I sent in oodles of pictures because they didn't want to have to schedule their own photographer, but in the end they went with the submission photos from my laundry room.  WTH? (Can you tell that I am less than impressed with Cooperative Press?)

Arboretum is knit in my Rocket Sock label.  This color way is Wild Blue Yonder, though the dye lot a bit darker in this picture than the lot currently in the shop.

The second lovely is this WIP that I am working on for the Shinybees Rewind KAL.  It's coming along very nicely and I was able to work on it a bit at the Carolina Fiber Fest.  I've left the bottom edge on waste yarn with the hope that when I finish the sleeves there will be enough yarn left for the collar band and also to put a matching band across the bottom.  The very kind people at Touch Yarns in New Zealand have made a search for one last skein of this discontinued Possum yarn, but with no results. With all of the calculations and alterations to the pattern I've made, I'm still afraid that I won't have enough.  There isn't even anything close to it that I can find that I could sub in as a contrast color for the bands. I've searched and searched.  I guess it's just me vs. the yarn on this project, and I intend to use every last bit of this AMAZING yarn.

I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but the thing about this yarn that has me just over the moon is that it is an oatmeal color but, if you turn the fabric slightly on edge, there is a coppery halo of possum fibers that covers the entirety of the fabric.  In person it's like looking at the knit fabric through a coppery haze. LOVE IT!

There's only been one thing that has gone wrong with this WIP and that is the consequence of just abject stupidity and watching the Sockmatician podcast instead of what I was doing.

The odd thing about this possum yarn is that it has an almost felted texture.  It's a bit sticky in a way that I cannot begin to describe.  It's not felted, but it does kind of stick to itself once you've knit with it like it is felted.  Anyway, I was putting the body stitches on waste yarn and when I went to tie the ends of the waste yarn together, I inadvertently yanked the working yarn in place of the lifeline end very hard, apparently and tied it to the other end of the lifeline.  The result was that, not only did I manage to pull about 30 stitches and muck up the lifeline, but they pretty much felted themselves together.  See those stitches? They became one in a fraction of a second.  It was a 20-minute mess to fix. Stupid, stupid!  I recommend that you don't do this at home.

Although I have other projects on the needles, and the March Socks will not be finished before March comes to an end because of this WIP, I am up for a good challenge and am committed to finishing this by the end of next week.  My other projects are getting a bit lonely, I think.

So, how about you? What are you working on as Spring rolls into town?

March 14, 2016

In other news ...

I know that it has been more than a little while since I've posted.  I also know that the posts have been pretty sparse in 2016.  I can't believe how insanely busy I have been during these last few weeks!  I'm not doing for myself, except for getting ready for two shows, but I sure am doing for the kids lately!  You know it's spring when you have to start juggling pick up times among the kids for one activity after another.  I also wanted to leave the post about the Fish Lips Heel up a bit longer before a new post.  I hope that you contributed to this good cause.  It seems like every time I turn around, someone that I know has discovered that he/she has cancer.  It's very disheartening!

So, in other news ... I've just cast on yesterday for a new Amiga Cardigan as part of the Shinybees Rav group's "Rewind KAL".  I don't normally get involved in KALs because I always feel more stressed about working on a project when there's a deadline, even if it's three months away.  But, this year I decided to do something different from the annual make-a-resolution-and-forget-it tack.  I actually heard about this on two different British podcasts that I follow, and what it is, really, is genius.  You choose one word that represents the ball park of what you want to get out of or put into the new year, and that's your word for the year.  It's like a resolution but without all the guilt and rules.  So, my word for the year is REALIZE.  There are many things that I would like to make happen on a personal and professional level this year.  REALIZE means to me that I am going to consistently work toward realizing a whole slew of goals and expectations that I have for myself.  One of those goals happens to be to knit a new Amiga Cardigan.  The last one that I knit, which was at least 4 years ago now, has been worn and worn.  Unfortunately, this winter it had a considerable accident and I have been putting off trying to repair it until I am able to realize the goal of new shelving in my studio.  When I have the shelves, I'm going to be able to better organize my stash, which is in boxes and cabinets and closets throughout the house. When I realize the stash organization, I will find the leftover skein of the yarn that I used to knit the first Amiga Cardigan. This is starting to sound like one of those 360 degree games, isn't it?

This new cardigan for the KAL hits two birds with one stone because another thing that I intend to realize this year is to start knitting from the stash instead of just hoarding the stash.  I've had this amazing possum/merino in the stash for several years, and I keep meaning to knit a sweater with it.  So, I've joined the KAL--and if there's a project that you've been putting off or a KAL that you missed and you wish you hadn't, then join this one by all means--and I'm using the possum yarn and I'm knitting the Amiga Cardigan, and that will be that. Check and check! Here it is with the yoke nearly finished.  Did I mention that this is mindless TV knitting at its best?

I've also been hard at work on a new sweater design.  I wanted to spend the winter knitting sweaters, and in my delusional knitting brain I thought I would be able to churn out two or three by February, despite all the Christmas knitting.  It turns out that the reality is that I was able to churn out one pullover, which I finished on Saturday.  It's a new design and the pattern is fully written, and I will probably release it, but I have mixed feelings about how it looks on me after the fact.  I loved the sweater design on paper, and I even liked it while I was knitting it; but now I think that maybe I've made it too long and I can't quite decide if I should rip it back to a shorter length or not.  I tend to think of myself as being more on the side of the slim runway model, though the reality is much different. Of course, it's March, so winter sweater season is completely over and I won't get to wear it until next year.

I think that I am going to stick to the sweater knitting plan, though, and try to churn out a few more before sweater season rolls around again.  Certainly, I want to knit a yoke sweater, as that has been on my bucket list for a while and I have most of the yarn already.  I also want to knit a cardigan that I worked up on the CustomFit website last autumn, and I have the yarn for that one, too.  It would also be amazing if I could finish the cabled sweater that has taken a full year plus to get a back panel done. This sounds like a plan and I hope that I can stick with it in light of all the knitting/designing I still have to whip up at a crazy hectic pace for the book I'm co-authoring.

It's also only a few days until Spring Fling 2016 in Atlanta.  Last week I dyed the weight of a first grader in yarn for this show, so I hope you're coming if you can because, well, the yarn is pretty darned gorgeous!  I'm taking oodles of new color ways in Journey, Rocket Sock, Rocket Sock Medium, Sporty Sheep, and Silk Sheep.  I'm also bringing a bazillion project bags with my new (I'm so excited!) label on them.  I just love seeing the label on the bags!  It makes me feel like I've suddenly turned a corner with my business.

The next weekend, I'll be hanging out at the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh so, again, I hope you are coming to that if you are able.  I'm totally going in blind to the Spring Fling show, as I have never been there before and who can trust the appraisal of the organizers, right?  I have been to the Carolina Fiber Fest, though, and its return to Raleigh is sure to draw a crowd. Fun times, fun times! It will be stressful doing back-to-back shows, but at least I'll be able to get out of Dodge for a while.  I feel like I need to see other horizons, even if they aren't very exotic, to re-energize the batteries.

So enough chit chat.  I need to get back to churning out a sweater.

February 25, 2016

Pay It Forward

It is rare that I take the time on my blog to promote a total stranger's efforts.  I know. That sounds awful, doesn't it? I think it's because this isn't one of those blogs that interviews people and reviews products.  I like to keep it simple around here.  With that being said, I have to tell you, whether you knit socks or not, to go to Ravelry and buy this pattern: Fish Lips Kiss Heel by SoxTherapist (Rav ID).  First, if you don't knit socks, you are going to want this pattern because it's inevitable that if you knit, you will learn to knit socks.  Second, if you already knit socks, then you know that knitting the same 'ol heel is tedious. People ask me all the time about this type of heel that they have heard about from somewhere in the sock classes I teach. It's $1. Your reference library needs this.

But most importantly, I want you to buy this because SoxTherapist has stage 3 breast cancer and this is her way of raising money to get all of her family together one last time before things get any worse.  I hope that she survives, but in the case where she doesn't, buying this pattern is the least any of us can do.  It's $1.

This is not the type of pattern that can only be used once for one sock pattern.  It's just like a Dutch heel or a French heel or a Short Row heel ... substitute it for the heel that bores you.

I can't imagine that there's one of us out there that hasn't been affected in some way by cancer.  Cancer is the new "6 degrees of separation". Everyone in my family dies of cancer--well, except me because I have decided that I will not and I believe completely in the power of the mind over matter.  I've also lost irreplaceable friends to cancer.  I've lost co-workers to cancer. I've knit blankets for friends whose loved ones were dying of cancer or who was going through chemo and could never get warm enough. And now I'm buying a pattern.

You should pay it forward and buy one, too.

February 17, 2016

I'll Tell You What

Man-oh-man this has been a rough start to 2016!  It came in with a vengeance in the illness department, I got a week of "normal", and then I spent, well the last MONTH trying to get over the flu followed by a second round of bronchitis.  Add to that the crazy weather that has made farm life a real pain in the derriere as far as cranky, cold, and wet animals and people are concerned.  January was also all about the end of basketball season for Rocket--we are so glad there are no more games because each one was so incredibly stressful that I was sure either Honey or myself would end up with an heart-attack or an aneurism or something along those lines.  It wasn't a bad season for a group of first-time players, having ended with an even win/loss record, but it was hell on the parents!

So now we're halfway through February and we've had 3 wasted snow days for precipitation that never arrived. Tennis season has begun for Scout #2, just in time for his Eagle Scout project, the SAT, the ACT, and his midterms. I'm not even sure that, because we have a school system that becomes hysterical at the mere suggestion of snow within a 100 mile radius, there is going to be a spring break. Meanwhile, it's time to start planting the garden--inside the newly rebuilt green house, at least.  Mother Nature was pretty wicked this past autumn, and pretty much tore it apart.  I'm going to try the whole plant-by-the-moon strategy this year because ... well, why not? That's assuming that the weather holds up from here on out and that darned groundhog wasn't wrong.

At the same time, I'm trying to get geared up for two back-to-back shows that are happening the last half of March.  We should talk about these because everyone loves a good yarn show and well, you know, 'tis the season to be shopping for yarn!

The first show is one new to me, Spring Fling.  This show will be held at the Perimeter Marriott Hotel in Decatur, Georgia.  This is a relatively new yarn and fiber event, but so many of the really amazing artisans that I do other shows with are going to be there that I figured I'd toss my hat in the ring, too.  Unfortunately, I don't really know what to expect from this show, not having been there before, so I'm having a difficult time making a game plan.  For certain, there will be a series of color ways across my yarn lines that will be available first to this show before they go online.  

However, since I am going to be leaving one show, coming home for a few days for a breather, and then heading back out for the next show, the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, North Carolina, it may be that some of these color ways never see the online shop.  I guess that means that if you are in the neighborhood, you'd better either stop by Spring Fling or the Carolina Fiber Fest, huh?

The Carolina Fiber Fest will be held in Raleigh at the North Carolina Fair Grounds in the Governor Holshouser building, Friday, March 25, (1 pm — 7 pm) and Saturday, March 26 (9 am — 5 pm).

And if that's not enough crazy, I've talked Honey into having bees.  I'm going to come back from the Carolina Fiber Fest just in time to pick up my order of 3,000 honey bees.  I have no idea what I'm doing, and time keeps slipping away from me, so the learning curve is still quite a concern.  All I can say is that I hope Mother Nature has her act together this April and doesn't throw in 24 hours of near-zero temperatures, like she did last year at Easter, just to kill my bees for the spite of it.

I'd love to show you what I have been working on for the last six weeks in the knitting department, but it's all hush-hush and top secret.  Patterns are being test knit for the book I'm co-authoring like crazy and that New Year's resolution about knitting for myself for a while is pretty much dead and buried at this point.  Hopes are high that an e-book version of the book will be available by September with printed copies following shortly after that.  I make no promises.  Writing a book is hard, but test knitting all the dang patterns for the book is harder.

And, now it's back to the grindstone with hopes that your February is full of Spring and knitting!

January 21, 2016

Odd Bits

This year has gotten off to an odd start, don't you think?  Our economy is in a tizzy, the weather is nothing if not odd--at least in Georgia it has been--and my knitting has been nothing if not an odd collection of mismatched, random projects. Sales in the shop are way down over last year, even though January is usually one of the better months and I've introduced an exquisite new yarn: Silk Sheep. Also, my blogging has fallen to the wayside for no particular reason. I don't mind saying that I'm feeling completely out of sorts.  Truth be told, I feel like I am waiting for something to happen, something large and unsettling.

In an attempt to get back on track, here are the odd bits of knitting that I can call finished projects so far in 2016.

Gansey Hat

This hat was knit up in colors according to a mood board for a pattern submission that was a bust.  I'm not a fan of red, but the blue is pretty and this hat has certainly come in handy working on the barn and feeding animals through the past two weeks of unpleasant weather. I'm planning to knit it again in something much less dramatic and release the pattern in February.

Custom Order: 6-9 mos.
While we are on the subject of hats, I did this custom order for someone's great, great grandchild. I used 100% hand dyed baby alpaca that I had in the stash from when I used to sell this in my shop.  I'm afraid I have no pattern for you.  Mostly I just made it up as I went along to imitate the best that I could a picture of a crocheted hat, and I was in such a rush with this order that I just trucked through it without leaving behind any notes.

These are the first socks of the year. They are the ugliest socks that I have ever knit. They don't even photograph well.  When I bought the skein, I was wrongly deceived.  All of the very ugly fluorescent yellow was hidden inside the skein and I had no idea that there would be so damn much of it.  Yellow makes me crabby, and my stash is completely devoid of all things yellow.  It was a horror to knit through this pair because of that color, and they are so far from what I had imagined that they may not see much more than the sock drawer.  I know, some people love yellow and have commented on Instagram about how great these socks are so they are probably not as bad as I perceive them to be. The thing about these socks is that they seem to be completely indicative of how this year has begun: not what I wanted and with much less dazzle than expected.

Then there's the sweater.  I began this Two Hearts sweater in January of 2015.  I worked 4 inches and it sat on my desk, taunting me for an entire year.  I picked it back up and have made it almost to the finish line for the ... back panel.  Almost.  I was going to have this piece finished by last Friday, but life has gotten in the way like a defensive linebacker on the one yard line. I'll offer you this link, but as beautiful as this sweater is, there's not much on Ravelry for it. It comes from the book A Fine Fleece by Lisa Lloyd.

I can also offer these socks for January, though they are likely not going to be finished until February, which I have managed to knit so automatically that they are completely without a cuff.  They're just a MadelineTosh navy kettle dye with a lost label that I've knit straight-through in a 2 x 1 rib.  

I sure do feel like I just can't get my head in the game.  I hope February is more than a bit less odd.


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