The Strutting Will Happen Later

Peacock Feathers Stole in-progress, knit by Cara Brooke (That Crafty Cara)
It’s interesting how much my mood changes based upon whether or not I’m sticking to the schedule I’ve laid out for myself in regards to making progress on creative projects.  Falling behind equals feeling gloomy, and checking every step off on the day they’re supposed to be checked off equals a little bit of swagger.  “Oh yeah, I am owning this spreadsheet!”

I’ve struggled to stay on track with the Peacock Stole since we’ve returned home, so I decided to slow down on its creation, opting to shoot for twelve rows a week instead of twenty.  Perhaps it will stay at this rate until it’s done; or maybe I’ll find a little bit of internal kindling in the future to step up the progress to its former level.

Close-up of Peacock Feathers Stole, knit by Cara Brooke @ www.thatcraftycara.com

I’m recovering from a new bout  of back pain which has me laid out on the couch for large portions of the day.  It’s been three weeks since it started up again, and I probably have three to nine more weeks of taking it easy and letting the discs heal.  It’s very frustrating, but I am thankful that I have projects that can move ahead  while I’m stuck on my back.

So, while I can’t literally strut over the progress I’m making on the Peacock Stole, I’m feeling rather proud of how well I’m doing in moving ahead on it.  Progress is inhibited by the necessity of taking some medications that make it hard to concentrate on reading and executing lace knitting, but I’ve been playing it safe and not knitting when I’m taking those medicines.  (Good news: Haven’t taken any medicines in that category in over a week.)  There was an evening where I was thinking I could probably handle knitting “under the influence,” but then I walked into a wall and thought that maybe I’d just play it safe instead.  Patience, patience.

Peacock Feathers Stole, Chart #6, knit by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

To date:  Row #100 on the second half.  At the new rate of 12 rows per week, I’m expecting a completion date in July.

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Peacock Pride

It’s already been a month since I last showed you some Peacock progress!  What?!  I’m quite certain it was only two weeks ago, but the blog doesn’t lie.  Time is flying.

So here it is, after three months of consistent attention.  I am finished with all but the last chart, and when that’s done I’ll pick it up and start all over again for the second half.  I’m pretty pleased with myself right now.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.  I don’t think people tend to use those words to describe my crafting, but they have to now, mwa ha ha ha.  Expectations, shattered.  Lookee me, I’m, like, responsible and stuff.

Isn’t Penguin so cute?  She was super happy to help “model” the stole for its photo shoot.  Her missing teeth on the sides of her two front teeth crack me up.  Growing girl.

I’ve reached the point where I am getting kind of tired of this project, so there’s no magical progress moments where I feel like knitting any extra beyond my daily amount scheduled.  However, I’m ridiculously pleased with the fact that this thing is growing, so I just keep knitting my pittance of rows five days a week and then rejoice over the stole’s progress.  Isn’t it funny how you can be absolutely psyched about something, but really not look forward to the work you have to do to make the cool thing happen?  I guess that’s what we call laziness, and it explains a lot of the problems we have in the world from time to time.

This section is brought to you courtesy of the month of October.

I’ve scheduled some time off from this in November, after I finish the first half.  When I put that break in the schedule, I wondered if it was wise, but now that I’m approaching the midway point, I’m so glad that I gave myself some time off guilt-free.  Just a week or two, but it will be needed.

Yay for slow and steady!

Another Peek at the Peacock

 It’s been three weeks since you last saw the proud little Peacock Stole-in-progress, and I’m happy to report that what you’re looking at is what this looks like at THE END OF CHART #6.

It turns out that Chart #6, despite being a whole lot of rows, was pretty much just a eight row repeat that was easily memorized, so I took to knitting up eight rows a day for the last two weeks, instead of the formerly-planned-on fours row a day.  As a result, I’ve finished up this chart two weeks early.  Today I will venture into Chart #7, which has some stitch symbols waiting for me to learn.

The stole is at Row #204, and there’s 304 rows per side, so we’re getting close to being done with the first half!  (Yep, once I reach “the end,” I get to pick up all those live stitches waiting on the lime-green yarn and literally knit all of this AGAIN.)

I love, love, love the peacock feathers part of this pattern.  The beginning charts with the diamonds were hard for me and I despised them, but once those are out of the way, this is such an enjoyable knit.  I really like the double yarn-over rows!  The peacock feathers are surprisingly simple and I still smile triumphantly each time another row of completed feathers emerge.  Pretty, pretty!

I talked to my granny (the $500 phone call that actually cost $17) after the last Peacock post went live, and she is beyond excited that this is finally happening.  She’s never bothered me about it not happening, and I’ve apologized profusely over the years about it not happening, but both of us were eager to see for it to happen, so we’re both just a little ridiculously excited that it is finally happening and not kicking my butt.  Yippee all around!

I’ve decided that I will not add beads to this project.  The idea has been swimming in my head for a long time, but I’ve decided that beads would just be a little too much.  Given also that it’s a long rectangle, adding beads on the ends will add weight to the ends and I think it will stretch and distort the lace pattern.  The pattern is fabulous without any extras added to it, so we’re going to stay the course and knit it as written.  Goodness, do I love the color.

Chart #7 is the beginning of a bigger pattern of peacock feathers, so next month I’ll be able to show you something new.  Yippee!

Fourth Time’s the Charm!

I schedule my crafts.  Honestly.  I sit down at the beginning of a new year and brainstorm all the things I’d like to make, keeping new babies, weddings, and the like in mind, and then I schedule my time and projects accordingly.  I’ve found that this approach allows me to finish the things that are important to me, and still allow me a little wiggle room if I finish things quicker than I had planned upon.
As you can imagine, I loaded my craft schedule pretty heavily with quilts this year.  January through May was consumed with work on the Storybook Hexagon Quilt because I wanted to be able to present it to my dear friend Rachel when her long sought daughter was born in June.  (Oh, what fun that was!  I still smile when I recall her shocked face when it was pulled from the gift bag.  That was a good day.)
And then I scheduled the summer for working on Junebug and Monkeyboy’s quilts for their bedroom, which I had planned to redecorate over summer break.  Alas, this was not to be because of the whole “let’s move to Australia” thing, but I did get a good start on their quilts.  Monkeyboy’s quilt parts have stayed behind in America; and, because Junebug is a little stinker and changed her mind about her quilt pattern at the last minute, I’ve brought along the pieces for her quilt because it’s all done by hand.  As I could not bring my sewing machine with me, having that big handwork project is rather perfect.
When I was sitting down with  my spreadsheet in January, figuring out what projects to plug into what weeks, the last halfof the year just would not schedule out.  I’d try to apply my brain to the task, but seemed to be thinking my way through a hazy cloud.  (This should have been my first clue that something out of the ordinary was brewing for our family this year…)  I wanted to do some cute Halloween crafts, begin a gorgeous Christmas quilt, maybe make a few new-baby items to stash away for when I’m inevitably surprised by one of my siblings having a new baby and I somehow missed the five months of announcements on Facebook.  But nope, nothing felt right in the September through December time slot.
I stewed on the predicament for days.  I don’t like leaving empty space in my schedule.  I know, from previous experience, that empty spaces in my schedule means zero progress on my projects.  I’m not a fan of that.
And then, a few nights later, as I was in that twilight doze right before true sleep, it came to me:  The Peacock Feathers Stole.
Perfection.  A big block of time, unencumbered with any other projects to distract me, all set aside to finally tackle and conquer this unconquerable project that has kicked my heinie three times already in the past five years.  I will knit this pattern.
And I am.  Finally:
I started working on it a week before we left the States.  My previous three attempts have never seen me progress beyond row eight, but here I am today, proudly waving  ROW 108.  I’ve never gotten even halfway through Chart #1, and here I am, firmly entrenched in Chart #6!  (Chart #6 is long.  I’ll be here for about another month…ugh.)
The secret to my success this time:  Going ridiculously slow.  This time around, I’ve scheduled myself for only five days a week, and a maximum of four rows a day.  (That’s just two charted rows, as each row is purled on the backside, easy peasy…except for those sneaky double yarn-overs that require a little concentration on the return row.)  This “only twenty rows a week” schedule boasts March 2015 as the earliest possible completion date, compared to my earlier efforts that would churn this out in two or three months.  But you know what?  It’s working, and that’s all that matters.
It’s for my granny.  When I was really starting to get a feel for more advanced knitting, we did a little online window shopping of pretty knitted things and I showed her this pattern because I thought she’d like it.  She most certainly did like it, and the proud little knitter in my heart saluted and opened my mouth to offer to make it for her.  Unsurprisingly, she accepted the offer, and I made myself busy with procuring the supplies.  Unknown to myself at the time, I was pregnant with Monkeyboy, a fact that would become known to me a day before I received the pattern and yarn in the mail, because I was suddenly so nauseated and tired that the only thing I could be was pregnant. 
Barely able to move, and super sick all day long sounds like a perfect time to hunker down and do some soothing knitting, right?  Wrong.
Because the thing about this pattern is that it’s intense.  It’s a ton of symbols, which don’t really scare me, but whoa, those pages are pretty black with ink, and it’s got funky little spots where you have to actually reposition your stitch markers in order to work the stitches correctly and then put the stitch marker to the other side of the stitch.  It’s not cool.  It kicks my butt.  Add the nausea on top of that, and yeah, Try #1 didn’t last long.
Try #2, after Monkeyboy had arrived, lasted a week.  My sleep-deprived brain couldn’t handle it.
Try #3 was destroyed by my adventuresome lad four different times in the first two days.  My nerves couldn’t take it, and I decided that I was not in a chapter of my life that could handle advanced lace knitting.
And here we are, with Try #4, and it’s going very, very well.  The Boy no longer chews on yarn, removes needles from projects, or grabs projects out of my hands and runs off through the house laughing like a maniac with yarn trailing behind him.  (All important factors to successful knitting.)  I have months upon months scheduled, thereby eliminating any due date stress.  There are no newborns or growing-into-newborns in my future, and I get my eight hours of sleep almost every night.  Perfection.

Beautiful peacock perfection.  I love it.

What I’ve Been Working On, Aside from Packing

Hello dear ones.

I fell victim to a little pre-moving anxiety last week, as showcased by last week’s post.  This week I’m in a far better frame of mind, now that we have visas, plane tickets and hotel reservations for all phases of the big trip.  THANK YOU so much for your “fast visas” prayers–it normally takes at least two weeks to get visas, ours came in less than a week.  Prayer works, period.  Thank you so much.

So yes, this is really going to happen!  I’ve waited for some email to arrive all this time saying, “Sorry, we changed our minds,” and it never materialized.  I’ve now re-focused that worry onto more productive areas, and we’re moving along at a snail’s pace in regards to packing, cleaning, and tying up loose ends.  (FYI–kind of a pain in the neck to get six months’ worth of prescriptions filled at once!)  As evidenced by this darling photo, our luggage arrived yesterday, and the kids found the event rather impressive.  I had a mini heart attack when I opened my door and found it partially blocked by the boxes, but I recovered quickly.  God bless our UPS delivery man…we’ve put him to work these past few weeks!

One of the nice things about all this prep is that I’m having to do a lot of waiting in random offices and other places, which grants me extra time to work on Junebug’s “Star Spangled Diamonds” quilt.  I’ve completed ten full diamond units, which means I’m about 1/7 done with the piecing.

It looks like I started working on this on May 20, so I’ve averaging five a month.  At that rate I should finish piecing this up in August 2015.  Hmm.  Oh well, the time will pass anyway, and I’d like to have a gorgeous quilt mostly pieced next August, rather than nothing.  Then there will be assembly, quilting, binding…I don’t see this particular quilt reaching its finish until January 2016 or thereabouts.  But it will be BEAUTIFUL and totally worth the time.

My knitting mojo has been returning, thank goodness, and I’ve put a little work into a few projects, and started THE project, my “unicorn” project that has kicked my butt three times over the past five years.  I’m going to take it easy, only allow myself a certain number of rows per week, and if it sticks this time, I should finish it up in March.  It’s a teeny little strip of knitting at the moment, so I’ll wait for something more impressive to show you a picture of in the coming weeks.  (I get a little jealous of the full-time crafters sometimes…a full workday to work on creative pursuits?  It’s almost enough to make me think about sending the kids to school…oh, how fun that would be!)

And then there’s the packing, of course.  Always.  🙂

By this time two weeks from now, we should be on the other side of the world.  That is weird to say.

Linking Up:

Peacock Feathers Stole Swatch


I was browsing through knitting patterns while I was staying at my granny’s house in Seattle and she really liked the Peacock Feathers Stole. So I offered to make it for her. (Ignore all the weird mistakes in the swatch–I do it on purpose, to make sure I understand the stitch pattern and to see if I could feasibly fix mistakes without having to rip back to them. Obviously, that will not work with this one.)

The swatch blocked perfectly to the preferred 5 1/2 by 5 1/4 inches. Excellent.

I’m using JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk #036 Juniper. I bumped up my needle size to US4 instead of the recommended US3 because I tend to knit tight.

I was going to try to be a super knitter and have it done for Christmas because, seriously, how awesome would I be if that happened? (And hey, Eunny Jang finished her Peacock Feathers Shawl in nine DAYS.) But after trying to stick to “the schedule” of completing eight rows a day for that to happen, I developed a perma-headache and a slightly nauseated feeling whenever I thought about picking up the thing again. In my book, that points to TOO MUCH. So, much to my knitting pride’s disappointment, I am mandating that this project be downgraded to “slow-and-steady.” It will be ready when it is time for it be ready. No more than 2-4 rows a day, with the occasional day off. Not as much bang for your buck, but it will still get done. Eventually. (Boring.)

Also, in beginning to knit this little darling I have come face-to-face with my worst fear: What if this truly is above my skill level? My knitting skills are definitely being stretched with Lil’ Ole Mr. Peacock here. It’s 109 stitches across, NINE DIFFERENT charts to follow, 304 rows…and that’s just half of it, you get to knit the other half when you get to that point.

Why keep on with the crazines and the mental exhaustion? Because it’s for my granny, whom I adore immensely and would do almost anything for. I have wanted to make something “big” for her for forever, and she has finally given me my head to do so and darn it, I’m going to do a spectacular job with it. I have created the odd knitted article here and there for her, but nothing that I would actually want her to confess to having been created by me. I made her a scarf when I was first learning to knit and I really wish I could somehow locate it and burn it–Fun Fur was involved. And then I made her a very nice Lopi Earflap hat–that was two sizes too big. This stole needs to be drop-dead gorgeous and as near perfect as possible.

I did have a great idea last night that kept me from sleep for many hours: BEADS. How gorgeous would this be if I incorporated beading into it?

So much potential for such unproven hands…