Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Knitting

A few photos of knit Christmas presents!

Brandy requested a kitty hat, modeled here by me:

Cabled Cat Ears Hat (mine ravelled here),
knit in Loops & Threads Cozy Wool, Granite colorway

These seemed to go with the hat:

 Cat Wrist Warmers (mine ravelled here),
knit in Knit Picks Mighty Stitch in Ash and Cascade Heritage Solids in Pink

I gave a couple of presents from this post, the Gummy bear socks and the Turn a Square hat. Deanny looks awesome in the hat.

Turn a Square hat (mine ravelled here),
knit in leftover Noro Silk Garden in colorway 252 
and Knitpicks Swish Worsted in the Cobblestone Heather colorway

And then I went on the Book of Faces and saw this!


Holly's wearing her hat and cowl (and I'm going to believe she's wearing her mittens, too). I love love love seeing photos of knitting in the wild. It's great to see people wearing knit gifts going about their day-to-day lives.

My nephew went shopping with us one day and picked out yarn he liked and requested a hat. When a junior in high school requests knitwear, you can be sure I'm going to oblige. I can't predict how long this will last.
Squarshy hat (mine ravelled here),
knit in Loops & Threads Facets

I hope you had a Merry Whatever, too!


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Three Gatekeepers

Let me start by saying this isn't written passive aggressively. I have a nice family. Andrew has a nice family. Nobody is intentionally a jerk to anyone else, and everyone pretty consistently works to get along.

That being said, holidays can be trying. We have expectations of how they should be, and those expectations are unreasonable (or at least mine are). We are spending time with people who we love and yet may think in really different ways than we do. They may have different political views--and holymarymotherofgod I'm praying we can avoid all political conversations over the holidays because it will be very hard to contain my rage if someone says something stupid-- and religious views and views about how we should be living our lives.

So, for you, but mostly as a reminder to me:



Let's practice!

"It is incomprehensible to me that she remains married to that asshole."
True, but not kind or necessary

"I don't mind that there's bacon in those green beans."
Kind, but not true or necessary. 
(I don't have to apologize for being a vegetarian. 
I don't have to make a big deal of it either.)

Here's a tricky one:
"Your sugar-crazed, monstrous, spoiled, banshee children are destroying Mom's house and ruining Christmas."
No. Just no.

However:
"Your children are setting fire to the centerpiece."
True, necessary, and not unkind.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Let's be our best selves out there... 
and forgive ourselves when we fail.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Festival of Trees

The Indianapolis Historical Society is celebrating their Festival of Trees. They have 70 decorated trees throughout their building. They're sponsored by different nonprofits, companies, colleges, and families. It. Is. Awesome. Here are a few highlights.

I adore this robot ornament.


In their Stardust Cafe (excellent grilled cheese, BTW), they have a stunning tree.


See the garland?


This one celebrates comics.


And this one is from the Indiana State Teachers Association. We have a typewriter like the white one at work that we still use. If I could turn back ti-ime...


This one is made of books and called Santa's Library. They had a similar one last year, but this year is Bigger and Better.


I was fascinated by the use of Lunaria (silver dollar plant) both in the main portion of the tree and as its topper.


This one is done by my alma mater, Franklin College! The topper is the steeple from Old Main, one of the primary buildings on campus. The tree skirt was made of overlapping FC pendants.


This one is where I nearly lost my friend forever. They had mushroom stools for you to sit on so you could play different versions of Mario that were IN THE TREE. As I only had an Atari growing up, I wasn't nearly so enthralled. It's a cool tree though.


This one would have been in my top 3 if it didn't have the terrifying Santa face at the top. That Santa will kill you with his eyes. Ignoring that though, it's beautiful. The garland was made of slips of paper on which the store's customers had written what was special about an Indiana Christmas. (I saw one that said it was the snow on cornstalks, for real.) The ornaments were all vintage--tons of Shiny Brite.


I applauded this one's dedication to their theme. They're a restoration company, so their tree was Frozen and included metal pipe nestled in the boughs as decoration.


The atrium of the Historical Society has this gigantic clock hanging in it. Do you see what's at the 4?


I don't have designer trees at home. I prefer mine with its popsicle-sled ornaments I made as a kid and the ornaments Andrew and I have bought each year that we've been together. That being said, I loved walking through the Festival of Trees and seeing the beautiful things people had done (and the few fails). If you're in Indianapolis between now and December 30, I highly recommend a visit!

I wish you could click on all these to make them bigger. Sadly, when I uploaded them they all rotated oddly. I had to re-upload from a different source. Sorry about that.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hankies

I am very fortunate to have a lovely mother-in-law. In fact, Andrew's whole family is delightful. We care enough about one another not to talk about things like politics, which is the mark of a truly caring family.

Last year, my m-i-l had a surgery that went badly. In the days after, she was hopped up on lots of drugs, completely high, and yet she still was delightful. She was caring, asking (admittedly repeatedly) about other people--"Did so-and-so's son find a job? He had an interview."-- and generally not being horrible. I have a fear that if my filters were out of commission I'd become a swearing, vile bag of rudeness. Many of the things I say in my head are not for public consumption. Let's hope it never comes to that, or, if it does, the only people who witness it are those few who would not be shocked.

My m-i-l is nearly completely recovered, but she still has a couple lingering effects. One of them is that one eye waters a lot. She's taken to carrying a handkerchief in her purse for this reason. I see this as a crafting opportunity, and one of her Christmas presents this year are these:


They're a small gift in appreciation of her kindness... and the fact that she gave birth to and provided half the genes for my very favorite person.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Santa Mouse

It's been a long time with no posting. The longer I go, the more I begin to doubt whether I should still blog, or whether anyone reads it, or whether I need to catch up on All The Things.

That's silly. Let's just talk about something fairly recent.

I made a Santa Mouse.

Santa Mouse (mine ravelled here),
knit out of random bits and bobs

Family lore has it that my oldest sister checked out Santa Mouse, Where Are You? from the library as a first grader. From that point forward, Santa Mouse has been a tradition in my family. Because I am a pusher, it is now a tradition in Andrew's family and in one of our little circles of friends. Remember?

Santa Mouse travels with Santa in his sleigh. In the book, he accidentally falls from the sleigh, and he is able to make his way to a home to wait for Santa because he sees that home's Christmas lights glinting off a yellow ribbon on a package. As an expression of his immense relief at being rescued, he now leaves tiny packages nestled in the Christmas tree, all tied with yellow ribbon. Not gold ribbon, mind you. YELLOW. This is important. Do not screw up the Santa Mouse ribbon or a hole will develop in the space-time continuum and you'll find yourself playing the accordion in a pizza parlor for the rest of your life.

I briefly had thoughts of knitting Many, Many Santa Mice to give away at Christmas. Then I realized they were fiddly and not all that fun. December is too stressful and busy to be knitting projects that are fiddly and not all that fun. This Santa Mouse is nestled in our Christmas tree, and I'm glad he's not lost in the snow as in the book.

I hope your traditions bring you happiness, too!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Some Times...

Some times call for comfort knitting...



...pictures of our sweet rescued dog, Dexter, who's been with us 10 years and is probably 15 years old,...


...and pictures of Nocturne, our adopted cat who's been running our household since 2007 and clearly cannot find a comfortable place in our house to rest.


 This is one of those some times. Hold on, kids. It's going to be a rough ride.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Embarrassment of Riches

A portion of my excitement over Persian Dreams is that I can use up a smidgen of my scrap sock yarn. I have a lot.
That may or may not be all of it. Don't judge me. 

I think epic knitting projects like this one benefit by a Come to Jesus conversation with myself. It went something like this:

This is a blanket knit out of fingering-weight yarn. It's going to take a long time. Pause and make sure you can accept that.

Accepted? Lovely. This is a blanket knit out of fingering-weight yarn in stranded colorwork. Pause and make sure you can accept the additional crazy.

Ready to proceed? Good. The pattern as written uses 14 different colors. Stop and think about the number of ends that is to weave in and the amount of yarn changes that is. Do you want to do this?

...No, I do not. 

Line thus drawn, I went to the stash and pulled out self-striping possibilities. As you all know, I love me some stripes. The stash reflected this.


Then I pondered the stripes. Some had very distinct colors, and some were so subtle as to almost lose the striping altogether.


I put all the strong stripers on the bottom row, the ones that had brown (plus sad Christmas) on the second row on the right, and the ones that I worried were too subtle on the top and second row left. There are 24 pieces to the blanket, so I decided to use the strong stripers and do 3 pieces in each color.


I started to knit.

Persian Dreams (mine ravelled here)
knit in Knitpicks Palette in black and Knitpicks Felici in Gummy Bear

After I knit a piece, I realized I wouldn't have enough scrap in any color to do 3 pieces. I got another opinion about the colors, decided to try to incorporate some of the subtle stripers, and plunged ahead. I should be able to figure out pretty quickly if I like the mix of subtle and not-subtle pieces.

And if I don't? I have options.

I feel a little embarrassed about how much Felici I own, but just a little. 
Certainly not enough to actually get rid of any 
or not buy more when it comes back with new colors.
Know thyself.



Friday, October 7, 2016

Persian (Day)Dreams

You know how sometimes you're just surfing the Internet, minding your own business, when you see something so beautiful you forget about everything you're currently doing, should be doing, and have planned to do for the foreseeable future?

Yeah, I had one of those recently over this:


I love this. Look at this one. Gorgeous.

I just received my--wait for it-- $8 check from the Indiana State Fair for the second place I won for the Knitsonik mittens. I used that as my excuse to buy the Persian Dreams pattern and its expansion pack.* Today I ordered 11 balls of Knitpicks Palette in black, which, as an unanticipated bonus, was on sale as part of their Halloween shenanigans. The black will be the background, and the foreground will be in

scrap

sock

yarn.

This is going to be awesome.

*You read that correctly. Expansion. Pack.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sad Christmas Socks

The Sad Christmas Socks are finished and dry.

Sad Christmas socks (ravelled here),
knit in dyed-by-me Universal Yarn Ready To Dye 

They photographed better than they look in person. The red is stronger in the photo. They're not terrible by any means, nor are they what I wanted. Gift knitting!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Happy Christmas Socks

Well, it's been awhile since I've posted. Rather than get bogged down by what I haven't posted about, I'm just going to post what's happening now.

And what's happening now is HAPPY CHRISTMAS SOCKS.

Happy Christmas Socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Cascade Heritage Solids in 5656 Christmas Green
and Knitpicks Stroll Tonal in Gypsy (discontinued, 
which seems dumb since it's a lovely red)

These are Happy Christmas Socks, as contrasted with Sad Christmas Socks. Those bad boys are still drying, so you'll just have to imagine a striped sock with gray, a too dark almost wine-y red, and a light green. Very sad. Luckily, my mom likes them, so I'll give them to her.

The Sad Christmas Socks are knit out of yarn I dyed myself. I'm currently 4 classes into a 6-class yarn dyeing extravaganza. Self-striping yarn is a pain in the ass to dye. Now I know.*

Sad Christmas Socks are actually attempt #2 at making myself Happy Christmas Socks. The first attempt was equally terrible.** It, too, had colors just off enough to make me yearn for someone who understood that Christmas is bright red and bright green and has nothing at all to do with the color salmon.

Nothing happy has ever had even a passing acquaintance with the color salmon, in my opinion.

The answer, which was obvious as soon as I stopped being lazy, was to stripe it myself. And so I am.

Third time's a charm.

*As if I needed another reason to buy Felici. I have a sickness, and it is stripy.***

**Poor Mom got those socks, too. I wonder if she's just too polite to agree with me when I say I've knit really unattractive socks.

***Oh, for the love of wool, they're having a sale on remaining Felici. I cannot allow myself to order more. I'm two balls away from Crazy Yarn Hoarder.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Socks, socks, socks!

This weekend I finished the requested Hanover socks for a friend's kid who is headed to Hanover as a freshman. When I washed them, I threw another couple pair I finished this summer that are going to be gifts. 

The Hanover socks are 6-row stripes. The leg and top of foot are 3x1 rib.

Hanover socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Opal 4-ply in 5180 and 5188

A friend requested navy socks. The solid color let me play with a lace pattern I've been wanting to use.

Rose Ribs socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Cascade Heritage Solids in 5623

Whenever Knitpicks comes out with a new round of Felici colors, I set some aside that I think specific people will like. I think Holly will like these (and I bought some of the same colorway for myself--I'm no dummy).

Baker Street socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Knitpicks Felici in Baker Street

These are also 3x1 rib. The difference between these and the Hanover socks is that I did a round of k1, sl1 each time there was a color change on the leg and top of foot. It just adds a little more interest, both to the knitting and to the finished socks.

So, does anyone remember back in January when I wrote about being more intentional and allowing myself to not get things done? I'm not going to lie; I don't feel like I'm doing very well at that. I did the Knitsonik mittens, which was a project that took some intention and planning, but I don't feel like I've been successful at addressing my Crazy besides that. I do not lie fallow well. I don't give myself very much space to just be, and I think I'm doing myself a disservice.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a huge problem. It's better than a crack habit, for example. I am a work in progress.

And friends get some nice socks as a result.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gnomes

We had some insane storms yesterday, so I spent a bit of time moving from place to place at work, watching the radar and staying away from windows. Everything turned out just fine for me, although there were some tornado touch downs in other areas.

When I finally did get home--after staying late because a second cell of storms was coming through right over our heads--I realized I'd forgotten my knitting at work. Last night we planned to watch the final Inspector Lewis, so I went to the yarn guest room to pick something to work on.

I remembered that a friend showed me a picture of a knit gnome and gently hinted that she and another friend would both adore them. I dug out some scrap yarn, size 3 needles, and some poly-fil from the linen closet. Today, Gnome came to work with me to do a little exploring.

He hung out in my plant.



 He approved of a flower left from an event we had here.


He approved less of the bird. It alarmed him a little bit.

Travelling Gnome (mine ravelled here)

He's about 4" high. I have no idea what yarn I used. I just searched for the correct colors. I converted the pattern to knit it in the round, and I used black French knots instead of safety eyes. I knit the beard together with nine stitches of a round in the face color instead of sewing the beard on. The little guy took about an hour to make.

Today when I got to work someone had set my knitting bag on top of my desk. I'll now go back to my regularly scheduled knitting.

Gnomes

We had some insane storms yesterday, so I spent a bit of time moving from place to place at work, watching the radar and staying away from windows. Everything turned out just fine for me, although there were some tornado touch downs in other areas.

When I finally did get home--after staying late because a second cell of storms was coming through right over our heads--I realized I'd forgotten my knitting at work. Last night we planned to watch the final Inspector Lewis, so I went to the yarn guest room to pick something to work on.

I remembered that a friend had shown me a picture of a knit gnome and gently hinted that she and another friend would both adore them. I dug out some scrap yarn, size 3 needles, and some poly-fil from the linen closet. Today, Gnome came to work with me to do a little exploring.

He hung out in my plant.



 He approved of a flower left from an event we had here.


He approved less of the bird. It alarmed him a little bit.

Travelling Gnome (mine ravelled here)

He's about 4" high. I have no idea what yarn I used. I just searched for the correct colors. I converted the pattern to knit it in the round, and I used black French knots instead of safety eyes. I knit the beard together with nine stitches of a round in the face color instead of sewing the beard on. The little guy took about an hour to make.

Today when I got to work someone had set my knitting bag on top of my desk. I'll now go back to my regularly scheduled knitting.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ravellenic Color Affection-- Anyway

Quite awhile ago, I wandered around Simply Socks, holding skeins together trying to find three I liked for a Color Affection.



Then I set the three skeins together on a shelf and walked away. The Ravellenic Games were a good motivator to get this knit. It's a lot of garter stitch and not a lot of counting, so it worked well to knit while watching the Olympics.

Color Affection (mine ravelled here),
and Cascade Heritage Solids in 5648 Strawberry Cream

I was surprised when I ran out of the dove-colored yarn. When I looked at the label, I realized why it had happened: Yellow Label is DK. Rookie mistake.

It ended up fine anyway.


Then, many, many rows into the third and final section, I realized I hadn't read the pattern carefully enough and hadn't increased two stitches on the end every fourth row. I had just increased one stitch.

It turned out long enough anyway.


I thought for sure I'd left enough yarn for the bind off. Of course, I ran out with a few inches of stitches left. I used dark scrap yarn to finish, and it looks great anyway.

On one hand, I feel ridiculous I made mistakes I could have avoided if I'd just read a little more closely and been a bit more cautious.

On the other hand, I like it anyway.


While I'll try to learn from this and read more carefully before I begin knitting, this project didn't turn out to be a cautionary tale. It turned out great, and I hope to wear it a lot this and future winters!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Protection

You can protect yourself from misfortunes sent by Heaven,
not from misfortunes that you bring on yourself.
-Zen practice

My Buddhist tear-off calendar recently displayed the above quote. I kept it on my desk for a few days, then recycled it. This morning, I dug it out of the recycling bin.

Today, I know that my brain is creating problems that don't exist, judging people who need to be shown grace (including myself), and generally being a jerk.

I haven't had much success getting my internal self turned around so far today, but I am going to reread that quote throughout the day and remind myself how much power I have over my own experience. And when negative thoughts arise, I'm going to do my best to acknowledge them, let them go, and move on.

So say we all.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

State Fair

I hadn't been to the State Fair in years and years. I went last year because the Indigo Girls were on the free stage, and I had a great time. The weather wasn't too horrible, and neither were the crowds. Plus, Indigo Girls AND an elephant ear. Excellent.

I also really loved walking through the exhibits, especially the quilts and the knitting. Because I knit, I could really appreciate all the work that went into each item. Because I once knit that quilt that only had 90 degree angles, I could marvel at the skill it took to craft the quilts with intricate patterns.

And don't even get me started on the quilts that were entire hand-quilted. Rock on, quilters.

So, this year I decided I'd enter some knitting. I remembered that I didn't agree with all the judging decisions last year based on what I could see in the display cases, and so I didn't get my hopes up. I don't know what the criteria is for judging, but there has to be some subjectivity. I entered three things I'd knit during the year.

Falling Stars got an honorable mention. 
That's code for "doesn't get a place, but is still fancypants."

Sidere didn't get anything.

Knitsonik mittens got a second!

 Most importantly, I got this the evening I went to see how I did:


I'm really happy with how my items did. I'd never, ever knit something specifically For The Fair, but I'm happy to enter stuff I knit for another purpose. And if nothing strikes me as something I should enter, I am always happy to go admire other people's work... and eat an elephant ear.