Climbing Out of Winter

The view from my kitchen counter offers a glimpse of green fields and mountains with less and less snow each day.  (You’d be able to see it out that brightly shining back door if the sun wasn’t shining so brightly!)  The temperature rises as the weeks go along, and this weekend we’re waiting to see if the weatherman had correctly predicted the 70 degree (F) weather we would so very appreciate.
 
My back is climbing out of its little funk.  All the bed rest has mandated much knitting, so as to keep my wits about me.  I churned out the Chudnovsky Pi Shawl at the beginning of my prison sentence, and then took a moment to whine on one of my favorite message boards on Ravelry when I ran out of the yarn.
 
One of the results of that little whine session, besides the outpouring of encouragement and commiseration from my fellow online knitting chums, was that a British knitter wrote to me and offered me yarn money to help ease the burden of being stuck on my back and inwardly raging over my predicament.  I trolled about online yarn shops, my gifted yarn funds burning in my pocket, and came across this brownish-gray color and, despite not really ever having noticed a single thing in that color EVER, I took a liking to its solid drabness.
 
I searched through my patterns on-hand and came across Juneberry Triangle, which had been gifted to me two Christmases ago by my dear knitting friend, Kit.  Gifted yarn, gifted pattern…I liked how it all went together so nicely.
 
Most of the knitting has been accomplished on my back, on the couch, while I watch old episodes of Frasier.  (Goodness, I loved that show while I was growing up!)  Any time I pick this up, I start remembering Frasier funnies, which is entirely awesome to me.
 
I started knitting with the fifth, and final, skein of yarn today.  I have about six more repeats of the edging to go and then this will be ready for a soak and a block.  My back has improved to allow for less couch-lounging and more standing, so my knitting has relocated to the kitchen counter.  The counter is higher than any of the tables in the house, so it makes for a good surface to rest my knitting–I don’t have to stoop down to pick it up, and I don’t have to support the weight of the project while knitting because it rests on the counter.
 
 
So I stand, knitting away while gazing out on the blue sky and the fresh green of the fields, knowing that spring is on her way.  The washed-out brown color of this yarn reminds me of tree bark at the beginning of spring–weathered and muted from months of cold and drizzly weather, while new life throbs within, waiting to burst forth in flowers and fruit.  My back is building up strength, and I’m looking forward to a fresh spring, full of possibilities and made better with the love and service from family and friends, just as this shawl is the more dear to me due to both the pattern and the yarn being gifted from knitters who care.
 
It’s funny how a little brownish-gray shawl can hold so much symbolism to its creator.  But not really, when you think of what lies within each of us, and how the gentle coaxing of a Creator’s hand can cause beauty to bloom, even in our most humbled and weathered states.

Chudnovsky Pi Shawl

 
All the forced rest of the last two months has seen a lot of knitting happening.  I finished up a few random projects, and then finally allowed myself the indulgence of knitting up this little Pi-inspired shawl, which I saw being knit in a yarn shop in Calgary two summers ago.  Penguin, whose favorite color is green right now, made an immediate claim of ownership during the first hour of knitting.  She has watched, anxiously, ever since, and inquired diligently as to when “her” green shawl would be finished.  I finished this a while ago, but it took forever to get weather fine enough to allow pictures.
 

 
PatternChudnovsky Pi, by Kourtney Robinson

YarnCascade Yarns Heritage Paints in colorway #9882 (1 skein), Schulana Kid-Seta in colorway #45 (2 skeins), Knit Picks Stroll in Forest Heather (~ 0.2 skeins)

Needles:  US 10 (6.0 mm)

Modifications:  None, except some creative license with the edging, color-wise, when my original yarns ran out.

Look at that deliciously fuzzy halo!

This shawl is super soft.  Ridiculously soft, like a baby unicorn belly.  Bluebird wants a “mohair shawl” for herself now, too–so much that she gave me the last of her birthday money to purchase enough fingering-weight and mohair laceweight to make another one of these for her, but in blue.

A handful of knitters who have knit this up have complained that the yardage listed “is just plain wrong.”  Seeing how I ran out of both of my yarns, I’m going to have to agree.  I substituted in some Knit Picks Stroll in a dark green when I ran out of the Cascade sock yarn…it worked pretty well until the mohair ran out as well, leaving me with a stark strip of dark green, previously softened by the bright green of the mohair.  When I knit up Bluebird’s “blue mohair” shawl, I’m going to go down a needle size and see if that helps–the printed pattern listed a US 10 needle, whereas the Ravelry pattern page lists a US 9 needle.  I’ve contacted the designer about this discrepancy and she has responded saying that she looks forward to seeing if the needle size-down helps the problem.

I was still in the first skein of mohair when I started the ruffle.  I ran out of the second skein before the ruffle ended.  The ruffle is a yarn-inhaler!  Regardless, I loved the no-brainer aspect of the ruffle.  I’m actually looking forward to knitting the ruffle on Bluebird’s shawl.  Mindless, mindless, mindless.

It’s a good scooter shawl, don’t ya think?  Penguin loves it and wears it with pride, lovingly folding it and placing it back in her drawer with the shawl pin placed amongst its folds.  The shawl is technically mine, but I’m OK with “lending” it to her for safe keeping.  (Let’s be honest, I’ll probably never get to wear it.  Ever.)

Conclusion:  Easy knit, oh-so-soft, watch your yardage, yarn-eating ruffle.
(And please ignore the wonky formatting–I don’t know what is going on with Blogger today!)

 

Raspberry Ropes Cardigan

Junebug finally has a handknit sweater to call her own!  She’s pretty happy about it, mostly because she picked out the best buttons ever–according to her, they are the reason that this sweater is better than all the other sweaters in the world.

Pattern:  For the most part, I made this baby up!  The cable pattern is “Overlapping Ovals,” from The Harmony Guides: Cables & Arans, edited by Erika Knight.  I also spent some quality time with various cabled yoke sweater patterns around the internet to get a feel for how they went together, notably the “Cabled Knit Pullover” found for free on the Patons Yarn website.

Yarn:  Cascade Yarns 220 Tweed in Color 7608.  (Junebug calls it the “Minnie Mouse Rainbow Yarn.”)

Needles:  US 5 for the ribbing, US 6 for everything else.

Notions:  Six 1.75″ gingerbread buttons from JoAnn.  (The buttonholes are enormous!)

Obviously, I’m proud of this sweater.  🙂

Lessons Learned
Knit the top yoke up to the neck and then start the neck ribbing.  As you can see in this picture, the ribbing and top yoke grew because of the pull of the horizontal cabled section.  I now understand why almost every yoked sweater I saw had a vertical cabled top yoke–cables don’t tend to stretch like plain knit stretches.  However, I still like it and she’s going to grow into more over the next year or two, so I don’t consider it a failure.  Just a design element…yeah.

Junebug will change her mind about everything if you give her the chance.  When we first started planning her sweater, it was going to be “aphid green” with “dark grass green” trim and little handknit ladybugs stitched all over it.  I drew up a little sketch, colored it in and we set off for the yarn store with our idea on paper.  When we stepped into the yarn store, she immediately changed her mind to a black and red sweater with ladybug buttons, to a brown sweater with gingerbread man buttons, to the final “Minnie Mouse yarn with rainbows in it” yarn–with white polka-dot buttons like Minnie Mouse.  I put off buying the buttons when I bought the yarn, and when we went to the JoAnn store to pick out buttons, she was immediately swayed from her polka-dot buttons to these giant gingerbread man buttons.  If I was the sort of person who required everything to match, it would bug me.  However, I think that kids should be allowed the freedom to completely design something for themselves every now and then, so I’m not bothered by all the decision-changing.  (And it was rather amusing to watch her give herself whiplash in the yarn store…)

Sweet girl, growing up so fast.

Enjoy your Minnie Mouse sweater sweater with gingerbread man buttons.

In Which the Socks Bite Me

I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago, that I had a feeling that Michael’s socks were “going to bite me in the butt.”  Turns out I have Sock Knitting ESP because they did do just that.

I was knitting along on the second sock, all happy with myself for being on the second sock, when I looked at the remaining (hand-dyed) yarn in the skein and had a thought–“Is there enough yarn to finish the second sock?  I’m not sure that there is enough in the remainder of this skein…”

So I had Michael take the first sock to work to weigh it on their super fancy digital scale.  The skein of yarn weighed 127 grams, which meant that if the first sock weighed less than half of that amount I’d be OK.

Half of 127 grams= 63.5 grams.

First Sock = 80 grams.

Awesome.

I hope my tetanus shot is up-to-date.

Yarn Along: "The Giver" series & Knits for the Family Unit

I now know that it is a cold that I am battling, not allergies.  (Which, in a funny way, is really awesome–no allergy attacks this autumn, so far!)  Penguin succumbed on Monday, followed by Michael and Monkeyboy on Tuesday.  Here we are on Wednesday–a big bunch of sniffling, coughing sickies, too worn-out to get much done at all.

However, there was a perk to this illness:  It only made you want to die for about two days.  Days Three and Four are mostly just about being tired, having a nagging headache, and having too sore of a throat to accomplish anything that requires you leave your bed.  And now that I’m on Day Five, I’m feeling like I’m gaining ground against this nasty little germ, and that I may just survive this yucky little ordeal.

But you saw that, right?  Two whole days of being able to sit up.  That translates into reading and knitting.  Big time.

How many of you read The Giver, by Lois Lowry, back in the day?  (And if you haven’t–tell me your secret of how you managed to avoid all the hoopla surrounding that book.)

Yes, I read it myself, sometime in middle school.  A few years ago, I found out that there were other books that followed The Giver.  I was intrigued, but was also expecting another Brookelet at the time, so the information never really gained enough hold upon me to necessitate tracking down said books for reading.

Well, I happened to stumble across that information again last week, AND found out the fourth (and final) book of the series was being released this week.  So I figured I’d indulge and read the middle two books and be prepared for the arrival of the fourth.  Books Two and Three (Gathering Blue and Messenger) were devoured on Sunday, and Book Four (Son) was consumed yesterday after it arrived upon my doorstep.  [insert blissful sigh here]  I enjoy receiving a book the day it’s released and then spending the day reading it cover-to-cover.

I think I will assign some or all of these books to my children for school.  I especially like The Giver for its ability to talk about agency at an appropriate age-level, Messenger for its symbolism of the Atonement, and Son for its treatment of the topic of evil and love/Satan.  I like Gathering Blue for its beauty in describing colors, and I guess it would prove valuable in discussing the value of human life and how imperfection didn’t automatically denote lack of value.  Actually, now that I think more about Gathering Blue, the more topics come to mind–it touches on quite a few, so I didn’t come away from the reading with as much impact in only one area as I experienced with the other books.

The knitting this week is all centered on my own family unit, with progress made on Junebug’s cardigan, and that pair of socks that I started knitting for Michael nine months ago.

I am pretty stinkin’ pleased with how this cardigan is turning out.  Aside from the cable pattern, I’ve come up with everything for this pattern on my own.  I’ve crunched so many numbers, knit a fair share of gauge swatches, and then just sort of threw it all out there and hoped that my calculations were correct.  It makes a person feel like they are freakin’ amazing to sketch up a pathetic rendering of a idea in their head, measure the way stitches line up in a 4″ x 4″ knitted square, do a lot of math and then use all that information to create a tangible object that does indeed look like (well, honestly, looks much better) than those scribbled drawings.  Fuh-reakin’ ah-mazin’.  All that stands between this little cardigan and its aspiration to be a finished little cardigan are two button bands and some buttons.  Oh, and grafting two little seams in the underarms.

Of course, in order to knit up those two button bands, I have to cut up the front of the cardigan.  But I’ve done it before on Penguin’s cardigan, so I’m not even scared of the process.  (I just added the emphasis to add a little spice to your lives, dear readers.)  Before I can cut the cardigan, I do need to sew some safety seams along the proposed cutting area, and that requires using my ill-tempered sewing machine, and I just didn’t have the stoutness of heart needed to embark upon any task requiring its frustratingly stubborn intent to sabotage anything I try to sew cooperation.  Perhaps, as I find myself in better health as the week progresses, I will shore up the fortitude required to patiently handle that tempermental piece of crap little machine.



The socks that never end.
I gave ’em a little more attention.
It doesn’t feel like they progressed any further towards completion.

And yes, the Michael Socks earned a period of parole from their imprisonment on the second craft shelf in the closet.  (The second shelf is not a happy place for works-in-progress.  Very little stands between a project and frogging when it finds itself sitting upon the second shelf.)  I could frog them, but I have put a lot of work into them and at this point I’d just be throwing all that away.  A pair of relatively nice socks can emerge from all this, so I will continue forward with the sluggish progress.

I have a feeling though–these socks are gonna bite me in the butt in some fashion.  My gauge will be off or the yarn will do something weird–something’s not right, but I’m going to push forward with it anyway, which is insane.  I guess I’m just too curious about finding out what exactly is wrong to stop knitting.  We’ll commisserate and laugh about it together, when they’re finished.  (And no, that’s just the first sock.  I’m not even halfway done with the pair.  Gah.)  But, on the bright side, Michael says that they are very nice to wear, so far.  They’re bunching a little at the back of his ankles, and the heel is a touch too narrow, but he insists that they feel pretty good.

Hopefully next week’s post can feature a finished object?  Hmmm?

Yellow-Green


 
I complained last week about how everything I was working on was pink or purple, and realized that the exact opposite of said colors was yellow-green.  As luck would have it, I had purchased a skein of very yellow-green yarn only a few weeks ago, and figured it was a great time make use of its much-desired colorway.

The original intention was to make Penguin a new hat, but the girl owns numerous hats AND she is bumping up into number of Bluebird’s outgrown hats this year as well.  Penguin doesn’t need another hat.  I asked her what she did want and she suggested mittens.

I’m not much of a mitten knitter.

However, the yarn was a bulky-weight (Lamb’s Pride Bulky–85% Wool, 15% Mohair), and a quick pattern search pulled up Susan B. Anderson’s Outsider Mittens, which looked pretty cute (and free!).

Once I cast on, I was a woman possessed.  I finished the pair in less than twenty-four hours, and I’d really like to some more of these quick little cuties.

What’s analogous to yellow-green?
Oh.  That would be yellow…and…green.
 

Purple and Pink

It’s all I see right now:

Lavender Baby Hat–finished and gifted away.

Junebug’s Cardigan–pretty near completion, just waiting for me to locate my 16-inch circulars
so I can decrease the neck.
Then it’ll be a quick steek and some button bands, and we’ll be done.

Echo Flower Shawl for ME–This grows here a little, there a little.

Hat for Bluebird–Because I wanted to make a cabled hat.
Waiting for me to purchase 10.5 DPNs so I can finish decreasing.

Fingerless Mittens for Denise–Because she asked, and she had already bought the yarn,
originally intending it to be a beret.
However, the beret pattern and I did not get along.
It’s looking like the fingerless mitt pattern and I do not get along either.
Somewhat ironic, considering I get along with Denise better than almost anyone else in the world.

You know how you just get tired of every single one of your projects en masse?  I am totally there.  Everything is either waiting for new needles or I just kind of don’t want to look at them anymore. 

What’s the opposite of pink and purpleGreenYellowYellow-green?  🙂

I have some yellow-green yarn…but need the aforementioned 10.5 DPNs in order to finish the project I have planned for the yarn.  🙂

Sigh.

County Fair Suspense

Penguin is a nervous mess.  We submitted her little knit hat to the County Fair on Monday, judging was yesterday, and we’re hoping to go sometime today to see if she won a ribbon.

She planned her outfit for today last night, and has repeatedly asked me if she looks “County Fair-ish” enough.  She’s gone back and forth on her choice of earrings.  She thinks I should do her hair…but then she doesn’t, because it’s just going to get messed up when she rides ALL the rides.

She asks me how much longer until the Fair opens, once every twenty minutes or so.

Bluebird, in her funny little way, is trying to prep Penguin for the reality that she may not win a blue ribbon by saying confidence-boosting things such as , “You know, a third place ribbon is better than no ribbon at all.”*

Whenever someone wishes Penguin good luck on her entry, she beams and says, “Thank you!  And remember to keep hoping that I win the blue ribbon!”  She is dreaming big and there is no squashing of her dream.

We’ve driven past the Fairgrounds twice today already.  (The first drive-by granted us the memorable experience of witnessing two Carnies beating each other up with pipes in the parking lot.)  Junebug and Monkeyboy will not settle down for their naps.

Oh, I hope this girl wins a ribbon…

*  Bluebird has also been offering me sage advice in the attempt of keeping my hopes diminished as well, with such gems as “I bet you MIGHT win third place with that one,” and, in response to my statement that I did not know how many ribbons I would win because I knew who I was going up against and they were very good:  “Yeah, especially if you’re going up against Kit!  She knits waaaaaay prettier stuff than you!”

Penguin’s First Knit!

She’s done it!  The first Brookelet to begin and complete a knitted project!  She’s been working away on it diligently while listening to read alouds, and while we’re driving in the car.  It’s supposed to be a hat for Monkeyboy; but, figuring she’d be a loose knitter like Bluebird, I miscalculated how many stitches she’d need because she’s turned out to be an extremely tight knitter.  (It’s now a Christmas present for a soon-to-arrive baby in the extended family–sssshhhh, don’t tell!)

The yarn is that Lion Brand Hometown…something, in colors…something green and something red.

She’s going to enter it into the Utah County Fair tomorrow, and she has big dreams for winning first place, even though first place does not come with a trophy…or a green ribbon.  She’ll settle for blue.

Her next project?  I’m thinking she’s going to take the plunge and try out a Knitted Monster.  I’ve had the pattern book for ages now, and she and her sisters actually read it as a bedtime story.  They pine for knitted monsters of their very own.

Good job, Penguin!  You’re a knitting rock star!