Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Roadtrip Knits all Mapped Out

Thanks to everyone who chimed in about how to tackle all my works-in-progress!  I have a plan now.
I've already cleared my work space by blocking 3 knits yesterday.  Thanks to sweltering summers, they are already dry and photo ready.  But I'll probably wait and photograph them on our upcoming camping trip because almost any natural scene beats refinery tanks as a background.

I'm going to put my yarn for Lonely Souls and Pomme de Pin up for at least a year until my body quits changing and until I can not feel annoyed with Pomme de Pin.  Poor Pomme.  I'll love you one day.

I blocked Gingerbread and miraculously the sleeves fit at regular length now.  I didn't even try to stretch them.  This yarn was weird.  But I'm thankful it is finished and cozy.

After the Summer Sweater KAL, I will look at undoing the bind off row on Hualpa and adding length to it.  Remember, I want a very oversized Kimono, so I blocked for width and ended up with a very wide crop top.  I'll also pick my Fire Opal tee back up then as a tv knitting project.

Cobblestone Pullover and True Friend will wait until the end of the Summer Sweater Knit-along, or else be an added as WIP projects I throw in at the end.  No sweat on Cobblestone, I've already decided to defer it for next Christmas.

That leaves me with two immediate projects:  Tommy Top (photo below) which I will seam and finish tonight, most likely, and Journey (top photo).

Journey will be my road trip knit.  I only have half of the yoke and the sleeves to knit, with hours of driving ahead of me.  Man, I love road trips!  My goal is to finish it before the Summer Sweater KAL begins so I can start Heritage, also by Alina Schneider, on Cast On Day.

Oh, yeah, and my Marley shawl will go on the trip too as a backup knit because... brioche!!  There will be many evenings around the fire, with no wifi, for all of this.

So, if all goes according to plan, and if the stars align just so....  I will have only 4 WIPs when August 1 rolls around.  And by Fall that should be a respectable number like 2 or something.  Because I gotta have some tv knitting and some knitting knitting.

Oh, and here's a cat:

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

BRK and BRP, Pwned

Brioche got served today.  It's been taunting me for 12 years, lurking in the back corners of my brain since I was a new knitter and tried to knit this Interweave sweater pattern.  It is an awesome design, but was not at all beginner-compatible.  It did, however, turn out to be rage-compatible.

tried again 7 years ago.  Same sweater, same doofy issues.  There was a flurry of needles and yarn, maybe an expletive, and somehow I ended up with a perfectly fitting Oatmeal sweater (by Jane Richmond) in 70's potholder colored yarn.  I got destroyed by Brioche, again. I keep meaning to dye that Oatmeal...

Then I took a Stripes class with Veera Välimäki.  If anyone could heal me of my brioche skills deficiency, surely she could.  I so wish I'd taken a pic of the knitted puke I created that day.  All I have is this photo of the humble set-up row, which looks normal.

Trust me, though, when I say it was bad.  Veera patted my shoulder and said, "It's okay.  You'll get it."  It's not her fault.  It's Brioche's.

All that is to say that I have finally arrived, my knitting friends!  I decided to set aside a whole morning/ afternoon/ some of the evening to figure out the Marley shawl pattern by Andrea Mowry.  She's got all these great patterns, but the hitch is that many require knowledge of this infuriating stitch.

So, I did it and I have these photos to prove it.  Of course, I did have to re-knit this beginning part two times after taking these photos because I still can't read my stitches well enough to fix mistakes.  But, brioche... brioche!

I read Andrea's directions over and over, watched a ton of tutorials and then checked this Briochestitch site, where it finally clicked.  I don't know why.  It pretty much said just what my pattern did.  Maybe it was a day full of stitch immersion that did it.  Anyway, now I am ready for all these "Hot Right Now" brioche thingies.
Bring it, Andrea and Stephen!

By the way, don't you love this golden snitch progress keeper from Owls on Dantes?  

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

20 Things About Me

I was tagged by Andrea on Instagram some time ago, but I thought I'd post it here because I should've been doing that sort of thing all along:

@theknitpicky tagged me for #20thingsaboutme like a week ago, sorry Andrea.  So... 1. I talk for my pets, constantly. As in each has a unique voice.  2. I read sci-fi and fantasy almost every night, after my Bible. 3. I'm a believer in Christ- God come as man to pay the price of our wrongdoing to each other and this world. Totally. 4. I catch and release moths. 5. I need chocolate. 6. I have wanted to hike Iceland since 11th grade Geology- maybe next year. 7. I hear music in my head all the time. 8. I rewatch The Closer and Firefly almost yearly. 9. I want to see Erasure in concert. 10. My first memory is climbing over a baby gate, then crawling down the hall. 11. When camping in Zion we found 12 constellations.  12. I need to run. 13. I felt very sick 2 years ago, but God has led me back to health. 14. Wind chimes can make the ugliest place seem pretty to me. 15. I switched from coffee to tea. 16. I want to do capoeira. 17. My second memory is walking on the beach holding my dad's finger, feeling dizzy as the tide rolled up to our ankles and back. 18. PJs will be my first sewing project. 19. I love working with other people to do something good. 20. I dream about rescuing kittens a lot. . . Your turn @canaryknits and @jentober only if you feel like it:)
A post shared by Michelle Carter (@mysocalledhandmadelife) on

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Collecting Myself

Will you sit with me a minute as I collect my thoughts and work on Gather?  I am missing my friend and am a little numb, so I'm going to show you photos of knitting and act like it's a healing therapy.
And you know that it is.  It's just not an immediate balm.  Gather is perfect "thinking knitting."  This is not a taxing stitch pattern.  It's easy to memorize, rhythmic and soothing.  I will probably associate it with this time in my life- and not in a bad way.

I am self-reflecting more than running through memories of my grandmother.  That surprises me.  I know I'm not the only person who re-evaluates their life after losing someone they love.  I have grieved before, but I don't think I've ever questioned the way I live my life like this at the same time.  I've spent the last week being quiet and listening.  Sometimes I leave home to walk, at least when it wasn't raining.  Otherwise, I go about my normal daily thing, only occasionally hit with the reality that she is really gone.  There's a split-second, deja vu of the moment the hospital called me and I feel sick all over again.  Then I come to myself and realize I've stopped knitting and have been staring off into space for quite a while.  I've been through this before.  I know how it works- that the rough edges of it will soften.

But something is different now.  An era is over.  Everyone from that generation, most of my mother's  family is gone.  What will a post- Frances and Oscar world look like?  Certainly it will be darker, less authentic.

So, I'm walking for hours, sitting in the yard, knitting with the dogs, and thinking.  I find that I am being more honest with myself than I had taken the time to be, previously.  It wasn't intentional, I just didn't have the time to consider certain relationships/ social circles.  I certainly didn't have the energy to change my involvement in any big way.  It's weird that continuing to do what is expected of me would be easier than doing nothing.  But I guess it seemed that way at the time.

Only, now I'm looking at those roles, in the light of loss, and some seem wasteful.  Have they contributed to mine or my family's lives in any measurable way?  Was it worthy?

Strangely, I feel something welling up inside of me, like a tsunami of discontent.  I'm not even sure if this is in any way related to losing a grandmother that was both mother figure and dearest friend.  Maybe it's just coming forward because I now have time alone with my thoughts.

And how have I spent my time, who have I been serving?  Is it time for a change? 
Maybe it's time to remove my presence, one that may barely be noticed, from certain groups or responsibilities.  Maybe I was just so in "servant mode," from caring for a loved one for a few years , that I took on those responsibilities or relationships without hesitation. 

I want to carefully consider where I spend my strength, a resource I now see as precious because it had been dwindling.   If my life is brief (I am 2 years older than my mother was when she died.) then I want it to be filled with fulfilling my calling.  Working a fundraiser while listening to hours of banal, ungrateful conversation isn't living life more abundant.  Neither is withdrawing emotionally to escape another person's anger.

 I want to pour myself into joy.  It is precious and if I find myself in company that squelches that softly glowing gift, I need to re-think my involvement.

In short, I don't want to waste time on unworthy things.  Maybe that's where my grandmother's life fits in.  Life on this earth is so short and precious.  I want to spend my life living as I believe.  I can only hope that it will be something like the blessing hers was to us.

(more on my instagram, ravelry, and flickr)

I'm really not having an Eat, Pray, Knit, Love moment here.  I mean, there is praying and knitting happening, but it's just the thoughts in my head right now. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Be My Accountability

I'm finally at a place where I don't want to cast on every thing I see and I need your help.  I want to finish up all of the lingering knits-in-progress and straighten up my crafting space.  That would be  my side of the couch and the floor around it, plus all of the little hidey holes I have for yarn around the house.  But, in a tiny house, every inch counts.

So what are these lingering projects, you ask?  I have dug up photos and posted them here for the record.  Could this work like a support group for those of us with Castonitis?  I confess my excesses and you rally around me to keep me clean?

Here goes.  My name is Michelle and I bite off way more than I can chew, knitting-wise.  There's no good reason for all of these needles being "in use" without actually being used.  I start sweaters that I love, but they got set aside for another sweater I love, or because I couldn't make a decision, or because... "brown."

I'll start with the one I'm mowing through right now. The Gingerbread sweater is a relatively new knit.  I posted about it a couple of days ago.  It only needed an hours worth of focus to join the neckline pieces and then it was 12 inches of stockinette.  There was really no excuse.  Now, I'm about to move to the arms.

Journey does need more of my attention.  I mean, look at all of that cabling.  But, then, look at all of that cabling!!  I'm really, really excited to wear this one, too.  It has some of my favorite things: mustard, cables, tweed, positive ease.  It's only waiting on sleeves.  That was me, sighing.

My second Fire Opal tee , in Blackberry colored Comfy Fingering, is a totally appropriate summer knit.  However, I set it aside for winter knitting.  I feel like that and the fact that it is my second time to make one of these tops earns me a little slack.  But, it will be finished.  I wanted this version to be more fitted than the last one.  Of course, it was so long ago that I have gained weight since then, so it may be too fitted.

My True Friend is another beautiful design that doesn't deserve to be wadded up in a bag for two years.  I should have waited to cast it on until I had the time to do it.  When I began, I knew it would take forever to be knit.  I was in the middle of several test knits but I saw Vanessa and Dani knitting theirs, so I caved and cast on like the follower I am.

Here's the thing, it's not long sleeves and it has a very adaptable shape, so there's no excuse not to knock this one out ASAP.  In Madelinetosh 80/10/10, it's not a summer-friendly top, but it is more wearable for our mild winter.

Now, this is the one I was mad at.  It's Pomme de Pin.  I was basically finished when I realized the oddness of the centered double decrease stitch wasn't going to be fixed with blocking.  I had knit it incorrectly...for the entire sweater.  There were no pomme de pins, just weird lace that would enrage me every time I wore it.  Needless to say, it is now two cuffs attached to two balls of yarn, stuffed in a sack with several other frogged balls, in a beautiful knitting bag that isn't seeing the light of day.

This one will need my brain to be higher functioning than it was, previously.  I will also need to swatch again to make sure my inconsistent gauge hasn't changed much.  But time has passed and I've mellowed, so I think I'm ready to look at all of those pommes again.  It is a classic.

Below is the beginnings of a Cobblestone Pullover.  It is the project that brings me shame.  It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, then a late Christmas gift.  Now, it just needs to be a This Century gift.  I have no excuse, unless the words "solid brown" count.  I'm actually onto the sleeves now, so it wouldn't even take a week to finish.  My poor son-in-law is patient.

For the next one, I really need your help.  What should I do with the Hualpa Kimono?   I knit it large and blocked it out to be the perfect width, but it's ridiculously short.  It looks like it would hit mid back on me.  I knit it so long ago that I don't know what I was thinking.  Maybe I planned to undo the bottom edge and add to it, if I couldn't stretch it both length and width-wise.  The pattern sample must have required extra balls of yarn, because no one who has knit it has gotten the oversized width with the same length as the sample.  Knitting at a larger gauge just didn't look good.  So, my options are to fashion something else from it, or add to the bottom, or put it back in a sack in the closet.  Adding to it would be difficult because knitting Fair Isle with this cotton kind of sucked.  What would you do?

Oh, and I need your advice on this one too.  It is Lonely Souls.  It is an awesome sweater with a horse silhouette, inspired by Twin Peaks.  It was frogged because my bottom edging was loose and floppy.  But I never re-started it because my body started changing again, this time losing weight.  I don't know about you , but I'm rolling my eyes pretty hard at this point.  At least the weight loss seems to point to my hormone crisis being over.  I lose, then hold steady, then lose some more, all with no change in my lifestyle.  Anyway, this sweater is one that needs to fit right, if knit as directed.

Guys, I haven't knit anything that needed to be fitted for two years, except for another sweater from the same Twin Peaks collection.  And now Cherry Pie totally hangs on me,  especially where my estrogen belly was.  So, you see I don't want to that to happen with this one. My options are to either modify it to be a more traditional straight shape that could look good fitted or oversized, or else wait a while longer.  I do have quite a bit to keep me busy.  What would you do?

So, it's all out there now.  The only undeclared projects are ongoing scrap and swatch blankets that will eventually merit their own post.  I actually do feel a bit lighter, like I'm leaving the confessional and ready to be a responsible adult by knitting for five hours straight in front of the tv.  Maturity rules.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Zombie Knitting

I have needed something easy to keep my mind distracted and help me breathe and relax.  It couldn't be one of the sweaters I have on the needles, so I started a new shawl from stash.  It's Gather by Andrea Mowry.  It's the perfect kind of project for tv, stress, or zombie knitting.

I'm finally using those oddball Dandelion skeins from Jimmy Beans' Outlet in Optic.  They were discounted for not quite being up to Madelinetosh standards, but I see no difference between them and the regular skein I already have.

They're parked with some Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye in Blackbird.  Good old Knit Picks.  Between the outlet price and using Knit Picks for the contrast color, this is a very affordable distraction.  My normal skein of Dandelion Optic is below.

I would normally be walking, a lot at times like this.  But with the rain, I'm watching season 1 of Veep (turned down really low).   I'm robotically plowing through this thing, waiting to feel somewhat normal again.  I have ginger tea, a project, and dogs with cabin fever to keep me company.


My best friends are together now.  I am happy for them, but I'm still sad for me.  I don't feel up to composing a post that is worthy of her right now, but I will say that she was a beautiful example of a loving, Christian grandmother, a mother figure to me after my mom died, and a lifelong friend.  I had some of my best times with her and am so very grateful that my children can say the same.

The amount of people that showed up to celebrate her life is a testament to how well she loved people, and was loved.  The fact that their ages ranged from youths to friends in their 90s spoke to me too.

I'm not even going to pretend I know how I will process this.  But I will, and I will let her live through my hands and voice as much as I can.  I am comforted by the thought of her and my Papaw together with my mother.  John 14:2 and 3 says Christ went to prepare a place for me there too.  After walking beside them, as they approached death, life doesn't seem all that long to me and death not as frightening.  I firmly believe I will see them again.