Kick in the butt

This post nor this project is either big, nor fancy, but writing it is meant as a personal kick in the butt or more politely said, motivation to get MOVING with this adorable project. The always alluring patterns from Tiny Owl Knits are just that, alluring, worked up or just admired on the printed page, the forest themed animals always call to me. This is my very first shawl (and likely last) but that owl . . . could not resist her and will be a lovely addition to the set of forest creatures growing in my hand knits . . . bear (yes, I made two), fawn, and snake (look for cabling around the hem).

Now, to get GOING!!!  Look at how adorable!

Gift yarn to boot!

21 feathers, I need 44.

and, body is coming along. . .

Let’s see if writing about this project is the kick I need to finish it!

Bear(s)

It began with wanting to knit my daughter a Christmas present.  Not being a fan of surprises, I did not want to present my daughter a knitted garment she hadn’t seen. Having to start somewhere in the investigation of what to knit for her, we began with patterns I had saved over the years.  Our tastes are different as are our lifestyles, so I did not think she would actually choose any one of these yet I did think these patterns would lend some inspiration.  Well, I was wrong.  The bear sweater by Tiny Owl Knits stopped her dead.  In my queue for a few years, she fell in love with it and visualized hers to be in the colors that are seen in the pattern.  I found a great visual to help with the face.

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A DC Opportunity Leads to a Knitter’s Reflective Moment

As Grandmother, I was recently invited to the DC area to babysit grandchildren while very intent parents set up house for their temporary move.  (no photos because I never knew how to take care of young ones and be a photographer at the same time)

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Little Red Wagon

I recently heard someone say of her house, “This is not a house of yarn.”  She and I were looking to repair a knitted hat and she was fearing she did not have yarn or supplies we could use.  With that criteria one would say that this home is a house of yarn.  And, I am always looking for new, functional, and creative ways in which to store it.  And, the projects.  And, the works-in-progress.  And, the knitting tools.  My goal:  convenience, cleanliness, free of dog destruction, least amount of space, variety, and attractive.  I love perusing yarn rooms and often talk to knitters about their space.  When you google yarn rooms or craft rooms, you see oodles of shelving either lining walls or mounted on walls.  I do think shelving is handy however, I was recently in a local yarn shop, Raveloe Fibers and quickly became inspired by how the yarn shop owner displays her new yarns.  She uses antique suitcases, here and there, some opened, some stacked, some vertical, some horizontal.  Something about the juxtaposition of old (antique) and new was very appealing to me and I felt added an artistic appeal to her shop as well as variety in storage.   The suitcases drew me in to want to investigate further their contents, I would think the goal of her shop, any shop.  I’ve written about organizing yarn and supplies before here, here, and here and being a kind of organizational geek, I continue to tweak a ‘system’ that works for me.  Here is what is working along with some added features, ideas that may work for you.  Hang tight, this is a three room tour!

Knitting Tools to Enhance Knitting Space (aka Our Living Room)  

My shelving bin is working beautifully for my works-in-progress.  We have found an out-of-the-way spot, away from sunlight, near where I knit for easy reach and my projects are free from dirt, dust, and dog.  I’ve added a few things to make this space even better.

Likely, you’ve thought of sewing caddies for knitting supplies.  But, did you ever think to ‘borrow’ from your hubby’s fishing supplies . . . those little boxes for holding lures are working perfectly for all my little knitting tools such as row markers, stitch markers, and the like.

Purchased from an office supplies store, a 3 ” binder is ideal for me to store round needles and is easily placed on a book case, an inconspicuous spot.   From the kitchen, I’ve pulled a ceramic pitcher as it makes a nice, decorative holder for my straights.

Another kitchen item I find useful are trays.  I think I purchased these from Joann Fabrics a few years, back.  I use a tray for each project to hold the tools I need specific to each project.  There is no running around losing time and adding frustration.  If I have more than one project going at once, which happens now on occasion, there are multiple trays.  They also make for easy, quick pick-up and fit easily into the shelving bin.

++++++++++

Finished Projects Space (aka Guest Bedroom)   

Moving to the second room, the space and shelving that holds my finished projects is nothing more than industrial shelving.  Sounds awful but is working so ideally, I’ve doubled it in size replacing an old shelving unit.  Together these utility shelves offer these qualities:  keeps hand knits clean from dust and sun, can see all garments, easy access, piles of sweaters not falling over, and tucks behind door.  The flatter bins can store those speciality projects such as my Hoodie Glam providing the air and space they need to keep their shape and elegance.  I keep just one project or two in them.

Hoodie Glam as seen on Ravelry

That space can fit about 100 projects from super bulky to the finest of yarns due to those bin sizes and the room is not altered at all for its other multi-functional purposes.  Yeah!  Oh, and by the way the shelving is lightweight, easily movable, can be folded up and stored away (I’m talking about the shelving) and was put together in about five minutes by me only and the entire idea including all of the plastic bins and their covers came in under $200.00!

++++++++++

Yarn Stash Space and Yarn Room Space (aka office/yarn room)   

And, the third room on this tour is my piece of heaven.  Of course, I am no different and utilize book cases for office supplies and yarn bundles of remnants put together and projects I could not get to during employment.

Yarn room tools ~  Sweater racks lean against the wall in storage, come out for thorough drying after blocking, and of course, what yarn room wouldn’t be complete without a yarn winder and swift? Having ample table space allows creative energies to flow.

Sewing supplies  (a must for knitters) ~  I’ve asked for the closet door to be removed for quick, easy access.  That’s a fabric shoe holder hanging from the clothes pole.  It makes perfect storage for all kinds of sewing supplies.  A thankless job is to sort those buttons.  I’ve worked through about half of them.  The container below the tray has dividers separating size, color, style, etc.

Your more typical yarn containers are here.  Those Guild bags are ideal for sorting and holding projects.

Hubby was so thrilled when his Brooks Professional saddle arrived and I was so thrilled with its box!  Perfect for yarn scraps!

I had in the back of my head that inspiration of antique suitcases.  Not an easy combination, creativity and function, however when I was in Dick’s Sporting Goods recently, I saw this wagon.  It stopped me dead.  Yes, a wagon meant for hauling sports equipment or camping supplies, my mind went immediately to THIS!

I love the concept of the traditional red wagon.  I love the concept of its sports-like nature.  Somehow  its attitude brings my interest of health and wellness into this space and I appreciate it even more.  Just look how this newest addition fits in against the wall!  Keeping open to using containers not necessarily meant for knitting has given my space a unique feel unto itself.

I do enjoy organizing and am always interested in new and improved solutions in the handling of this knitting ‘obsession’.  I work hard to capture the beauty of the process but at the same time want to  be respectful to the space of others.  Share and share alike if you have any ideas that are working particularly well for you!

 

 

 

Spring version of Renaissance Tunic

Well, I do keep my word.  Today, we had a redo photo shoot of my Renaissance Tunic, designed by Teva Durham.  Now, make no mistake as to how much I love this sweater as evidenced by its wearing this winter.  My love of this tunic is probably why I wanted to bring it to you, again as I wasn’t sure the first photo shoot did it justice.  However, this idea does add pressure to an already stressful activity.  That is how I feel with these photo sessions, pure stress.  Many reasons.  You see, hubby, who wants so desperately to please is not quite as flexible and energetic as he once was and the model is getting older.  Both get cranky and both want these photo shoots to be successful, at least in our eyes.  Also, a redo moment takes twice the energy to ready our ‘get-up-and-go’ and we (or at least, I) have high hopes of capturing some good looking shots.

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The Winter of Wind (and no snow)

Howling in the morning
blowing in the afternoon
Winter of blustery wind
I will remember you

I listen for the rhythm of breathing
as it informs a runner’s endurance
unable to grasp its contents
as Mother Nature has taken over

Her noise becomes the norm
tree tops dancing, daring to snap
unsuspecting and
interrupting the family’s every move

Howling in the morning
blowing in the afternoon
Winter of blustery wind
I will remember you

The dog lifts her head,
tense body on alert
jumps at what is enveloping her
to catch the invisible play

Layers are a must
double here and vested there
Don’t forget to zip up
Frost bite is ever near

You say you cannot sleep?
When will the blasts of cold air stop?
At least it is not snowing
dumping two feet at the stair.

Howling in the morning
blowing in the afternoon
Winter of blustery wind
I will remember you

Mitts Update

“Mikey Likes it!” You may remember a slogan from a commercial some years back where kids push off the then-new cereal, Life to Mikey, who was too young to realize the product was being touted as healthy.   Ends up that Mikey’s happy so the older boys accept that the cereal might have good flavor as well as nutritional value.  As the boys were in anticipation of reaction, I was in anticipation of feedback whether my daughter liked her hand knitted Hedgehog Mitts.  And, I indeed heard word that ‘Mikey likes them!’  I believe the exact words were, “They are perfect!”  (Keep in mind we are serious animal lovers, here.)  And, in fact, she is seizing the opportunity with her now retired Mother requesting that every gift from this point on (from me) be hand-knitted.  Smart girl.  And, by the looks of things she is not the only one finding some bit of humor and joy in them.

ok, now I am getting silly . . .

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Hedgehog Mitts as Wearable Whimsy

I am not a knitter of mittens, in fact I believe this was my first pair.  I saw this kit, yes kit, complete with Morehouse Merino 2-Ply and pattern, a Morehouse Original.  It came with a little scrap of the darker brown for the noses as well as the four beads for the eyes.  I believe this was also the first kit I’ve ever knitted.  I was taken with the mittens’ cuteness.

I don’t quite know how to size for mittens.  Should they hang loose or tight?  The pattern did not include ribbing at the cuffs, now in retrospect do I wish I had added ribbing?  Is the thumb too long?  Are the noses the right shape and in proportion with the body?  Am I being too critical and likely the answer  is yes and of course, all of the answers are up to the individual knitter.  I knitted these for my daughter and I am hoping she likes them.  I think that when I knit for someone again, I may take the mystery out of it as it has added a certain stress, an unnecessary stress, in the process of making.  The surprise can be the finished garment in and of itself.  Isn’t it interesting that I just came across this article from Amy Herzog about knitting sweater gifts.  Check out Tip #5!

I just have one tip for making these mittens.  Watch this video! The quill stitch is time consuming and takes patience.  Another knitter, Kimmyz from Ravelry, who also took on this project made a video as the quill stitch is multi-step and the directions a bit unclear.  I attempted to interpret the pattern and then watched the video and it acted as a second opinion and validated what I thought.  And, of course there is always a certain comfort in that.

Photos were taken at the Buffalo Zoo on a chilly, but bright and beautiful day.

If my daughter doesn’t like these whimsical creature-mitts, I would be more than happy to ‘take them off her hands’ for my birthday (coming soon after Christmas)!

Almonds? Nipples? They are Short Rows!

Sock yarn, miles and miles of stockinette, short rows, pattern directions about 12 pages long, and an odd shaping of the garment are the hallmarks of this project, designed by the talented Atelier-alfa from Ravelry.  And, when you think you are finally getting somewhere, you hold up your beautiful project and notice OH, NOOO!  My sweater has nipples!

Let me go step by step and explain.  Sock yarn.  That means you use yarn that typically is used in knitting socks … gauge of 25 sts and 36 rows stockinette = 4″ x 4″ (10cm x 10cm).

yarn bands

Well, this garment is 30 inches from side seam to side seam (meaning 60″ around total) and hangs fairly long in the back which leads me its odd shaping.  It’s almost more poncho-like in shape with something like 64 stitches at first around the neck with a continual increase along the shoulders to near 600 stitches in ONE round as you work towards the hemline.  And, then there are these skinny sleeves sticking out done in rib with an interesting detail along the side.  You would think you would die with all that stockinette, but the striping and the very fun short rows keep you engaged, or at the very least, entertained.  And, with the garment being so boxy, you don’t need to be so fussy with the gauge.  It is the technique of short rows that gives you the decorative color patterning of the stripes.  If you’ve ever researched or have taken on short rows, there are a myriad of different directions on the how-to.  This pattern gives a website with a variety of those ways and I must admit, contains the easiest way I’ve tried, yet.  Easy because you are accomplishing all of the steps of the short row in ONE row, rather than in two.  The technique worked beautifully and will be my way of short row from now on.   Website:  http://www.socktopus.co.uk/2011/02/short-rows-shadow-wraps/

Interestingly, it was not the pattern that caught my attention to knit this.  My inspiration came  from Stacy, a fellow knitter whose project is below and I think is so pretty.

I fell so much in love with her color scheme that I knew I needed to use a bit of that neon in mine.

tipped in neon

When the body and sleeves were complete, I thought whew… done!  What is there to a neckline and hem?  So, I picked up the stitches for the recommended i-cord bind off…. neck way too loose.  Rip and repeat.  Too tight.  And, I also noticed that on both occasions, the neckline was not symmetrical.  Where the short row “almond” was, the knit fabric was pulling.  Problem.  And, when I think problem, that means shelf space  rather than wardrobe (not worn).  What could I do?

So, rather than i-cord, I picked up the number of stitches between the number of stitches that was too loose and the number that was too tight and believe it or not, continued in stockinette.  By doing this, when the knitted fabric came off the needles, it would curl naturally looking like the i-cord but would also naturally fill in and create the symmetrical neckline I so wanted.  Perfect.  The hem had the same issue so I resolved it in the same way… rolled stockinette and the knitted fabric now naturally flows where there might have been a gap making it hang and look symmetrical to the eye.

Certainly this piece needed to be photographed in a place to show off its coolness.  And, if you’ve seen my Fashionscape, you know that I am always looking for just-right places around town.  Staying in tune with local newspapers gives us location ideas.

Following such a tip, we scouted out this fabulous op-art wall alongside a coffee shop that we never knew existed in a nearby town.  Just look how the graphic lines in the sweater and hemline curve as do the lines in the mural.  Even hubby was excited during this photo shoot.

We loved the wall!

So perfect for this garment

So perfect for this garment.

I want a cup of coffee with the photographer!  OH, and the nipples?  When the sweater was finished, I laid it between two damp towels, flattened the knit carefully, and they blocked right out.

Top Ten reasons why Retirement is Hard WORK

TEN:  Imperfections of the house are staring you in the face . . . at all times.

NINE:  There IS time for exercise.

EIGHT:  Coffee breaks are not alone but with your pooch who needs your ‘watching’.

SEVEN:  You think there is more time than there is.

SIX:  Even your own grooming needs self-direction.

FIVE:  You can’t sleep in because your internal clock from years of work won’t stop.

FOUR:  Hubby mentions to you that you are annoying.

THREE:  There is no job description given to you of duties and responsibilities of your new position as retiree.

TWO:  The house becomes LESS organized as you move from one activity to another.

AND ONE:  All your friends have gone back to work.

 

Dog’s Day During Allergy Season

snore snore snore

lick lick lick lick
scratch, sniff, sneeze, slurp slurp slurp

pant pant pant
pant pant

clammer, clink, clunk, clammer, clink, clunk

pound pound pound

lick lick lick lick
scratch, sniff, sneeze, slurp slurp slurp

crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch
lap lap lap lap lap

jump run jump run

run

run

run

pee

lick lick lick lick
scratch, sniff, sneeze, slurp slurp slurp

run

run

run

lick lick lick lick
scratch, sniff, sneeze, slurp slurp slurp

jump
sleepy
sleepy
sneeze

snore snore snore . . .