Monday, October 30, 2017


...And just before the deadline for the Brooklyn Knitfolk Hipster KAL, I finished my Cumberland.  I love it.  The end.

You wish I was that brief.  No, I have to post too many photos and lots of "loves" and "reallys".  At least I know myself well.  So, lets get on with it.

This pattern was a surprise to me.  I found it in my Rav library one morning, a gift from Jennifer, the designer.  It's hard not to indulge immediately in surprises like this, but I held out until my sweater project was finished, like a responsible adult.  In the meantime, I considered color combinations as I dug through all of the yarn I have purchased and hoarded.  I mention this to flesh out your perspective of me as responsible.

It took about 9 days to knit this.  I didn't have as much time to myself to knit as I would've thought I would have.  Guys! My son's senior year is kicking my butt ("We don't say dis.")  Between soccer mom stuff, new responsibilities in BSF, an upcoming Eagle Ceremony, settling my grandmother's estate, and working on scholarship fundraising I am spreeeeead thin.   I keep chanting November 13th to myself, as that's the arbitrary day that I've decided things will slow down... until Christmas.

Anyway, 9 days is still a pretty quick knit.  Quick is something I love.  Easy to memorize is also something I love, and this pattern proved to be that.  Add to that stripes and garter, and Baby, you got a stew goin'.

Details:  I used Gynx Yarns singles in the Lavender Tea and Charcoal colorways.  I am drinking Lavender Earl Grey at this moment, which isn't important but shows how appropriate this color is for me.  It feels good to finally find the perfect project for these skeins.

I'm thinking I used a US size 5 needle on this.  I cast on and mowed through it so quickly, I never logged the info onto it's Ravelry page.

Mods:  My only mods were to add about 4 lace rows to the last lace section and 4-6 extra rows to the last garter section.  I was hoping to compensate for any length lost because I was using a lighter weight yarn.  It wasn't necessary, as you can see.

This type of shawl is probably the best for my climate.  It rarely gets cold where I live, but it would be heavy enough on our few cold days.  If you sit by the water at that one restaurant we have by the water, it is chilly in the Spring.  So this would be really nice around my shoulders.

I didn't find using fingering weight yarn made the fabric less substantial.  The colorways weren't high contrast, but after blocking, the stripes are lovely and the lace is open without being too airy.

More Appalachian Knits shawls I want to knit are Old Rag and Allegany, which you've heard me say before.  I bought 4 skeins of Kaycee from Mountain Meadow Wool specifically for Silvermine , but I had the yardage wrong, so I might can use some Valley Yarns or something that will work instead.  I look forward to those little bobbles!

Appalachian Knits has also released some new sweater patterns that are so wearable.  However, I'm still thinking about the Roan cardigan.  It will be in my closet one day.  Now, this really is the end.

The other post on this shawl is here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Heritage, designed by Alina Schneider, is complete!  Stitches were ripped and compromises made, but I did it and the fit is perfect.  Like the other designs I have knitted from Alina, this pattern was very well written.  And the finished sweater was intriguing enough to keep me going, even after I realized I was running out of yarn.

I love the unusual, geometric look of ribbing at the sides.  I envisioned mine as being a little more oversized than it appears to be, but I haven't blocked it for width yet.  An aggressive block could probably get it to swing out a little bit at the ribbing.  I wanted to see how I liked it "as is" first, and I really do like this fit.  Honestly, it looks better without schleppy jeans like these, but whatever, this is what you're getting.  If you want to see more, or less, fitted versions, check out the projects page on this design.  It looks great both ways, but I prefer loose.

Here's my sweater story:  I used US size 2.5 needles to get a slightly wider gauge and Madelinetosh 80/10/10 sport in non-superwash.  It is the Heron's Wing colorway, a nice tonal grey  I got sick of looking at it after I had to re-knit the body, but now that it is finished, I magically love it again.

Originally, I was knitting the medium size and it would have produced a very oversized version of this sweater.  However, once I was almost finished with the body, I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn for sleeves- not even three-quarter sleeves.  I debated for a day or so, then ripped it all back and started over, knitting a size small.  Since my gauge often loosens, as I work on a project, I let it loosen and figured it would give me enough ease.  It did.  This is comfortable and loose, with the ability to be blocked even looser.

Modifications:  My only modifications were to use one less stitch than was required for the I-Cord bind offs and I knit three-quarter length sleeves.  I might could have eeked out full sleeves, then stretched them with blocking, but it didn't seem worth the bother.  Also, that grey was wearing on me.

Here's my photo story:  I got to visit my daughter and son-in-law last weekend.  We were all so wiped out from our various school, work, volunteer activities that we just hung out and ate a lot of good food together.  No trails and such this time, but that's alright with me.  I miss them so much that good conversation was just what I needed.

If you haven't knit any of Alina's designs from her shop, The Gift of Knitting, you gotta get on that.   She just released a collection with Junko Okamoto for Moeke Yarns that is fantastic.  This sweater is part of that collection, as is Wheat.  I want to knit Wheat pretty bad, but am holding out for some of that rustic Moeke yarn to do it right.

This is my third finished knit for the Brooklyn Knitfolk Hipster KAL, which is about to end.  I actually think I'm going to finish four projects for that one KAL, but two were just quickie hats.

Other posts on this knit: like mythology and a giant sigh of relief.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


This all started about a year ago.  Things were calming down in my life after a long spell of crisis.   My daily schedule was starting to look like a normal mom's and I was getting a decent amount of sleep each night.  We had also successfully integrated a found kitten into our family, which already included a dog and another semi-feral cat.  So, why I felt overcome with the need to answer a red alert at the animal shelter is beyond me.

You know those posts they put on Facebook with the faces of all the animals that will be put down that week if they aren't adopted?  It was one of those that my daughter would share.

I feel for those animals, but I can't respond because I have a responsibility to my own family and current pets.  I mean, we need to be able to care for ourselves adequately before we take on more.  We also already cover most of our furniture, dorm room style, and I rarely sleep through the night without a cat waking me for something.  We didn't really need more strange routines to counteract pet hair/ claws/ behavior.  We also wanted to be free to travel more, as our lives allowed, without too many needy beings left behind.  But there they were, the doofiest looking eyes stared at me out of a slightly mangey coat.  I knew I was supposed to get her.

I'm not someone who says "I feel like God wants me to do this" about acquiring things.  I don't see my whims as that important in the scheme of things.  Maybe I'd think that about acts of service or difficult tasks, but not when it comes to just getting stuff.  I could easily see myself thinking, "God does not want me to do this."  I usually hold my own desires at arm's length for a long time, considering and testing my motives for wanting to fulfill them.  But it is as clear to me today as it was then.  I was supposed to do it.

Some perspective on how odd this is: I do love animals, but saving them wasn't high on my list of priorities.  I had just seen the end of my grandfather's life after a long battle with the overwhelming symptoms of dementia.  I was still caring for my grandmother and straining under the responsibility.  I didn't know it then, but she would be joining him soon.  People, people who are part of my soul, were on my mind at this time.  Whether or not I had the fortitude to walk alongside another loved one until the end, was what haunted my thoughts.  Hashing out why meds weren't being delivered on time, talking at great length with her about why this or that treatment was necessary, going to doctors, wondering how I could possibly get supper on the table before 9:00 at night, or just finding myself wasting my free moments of the day staring straight ahead in a stupor- these were a normal day's activities.   Dogs and cats were comic relief, that's all.

But, within a week, Ella (I think they give every other female this name) was in our house as a foster, with a chance of adoption.  When I say in our house, I mean only barely.  She was bouncing off the walls of our house.  It groaned at the studs to contain her.  Good grief, she was 2 and had had a litter of puppies.  How could she be this high energy?  Apparently our old lab, Mo, was unusually chill.  The two relatives whom he constantly tried to mount might beg to differ, though.

Anyway, she came to us having recovered from the parvo that killed all of her litter of pups, but one.  After the shelter got her, that little one soon died and she slowly recovered.  She'd been there for over three months with no prospects of adoption.  She still wasn't spayed, might have hip damage from being hit by a car, and had heart worms to boot.  That was a whole uneccessary ordeal with a vet I don't normally use who didn't explain low cost heart worm treatment very well and didn't inform me that the shelter would handle her spaying.  Needless to say, I cried thinking my husband wouldn't want a shelter dog that was $1000 out of the box.  Why had I felt so sure I was supposed to do this?

We got it sorted out, though.  Heart worm treatment wasn't prohibitive.  The hip, though once hurt, was probably only acting up because she kept jumping in and out of the old claw-foot tub if the bathroom door was left open.  If my husband still had concerns, they were dispelled after a few nights of her curling up in his lap, if a 50 pound dog can do that.

She was actually a very pretty dog, now that her coat was filling in.  She looked, and acted, all chocolate lab, except for a head that revealed she was a German Shepherd mix.  She was also better at communicating than the average dog.  She could distinctly whine, "I'm bored" better than any idle  child.  She continues to crack us up, daily.

But those were difficult months for me.  I devoted all of my free time to getting her used to our cats and disciplining any tendency to race towards them.  She spent a lot of time in a giant cage we set up in our living room.  It was the focal point of our decor for many months.  It's okay, I didn't have time to entertain guests and, like I said, we have mismatched covers over everything anyway.

Walks became a dragging down the Iditarod.  It was exactly like you could expect walking an unsocialized lab to be.  I had to walk each of my dogs separately because their combined pulling force was just too much for me, but exercise was important to get her crazies out for better behavior in the home.  This took up many evenings when I would have been trying to catch up on my rest.  The whole process just took time, to the dismay of visiting relatives.  Pieces of furniture were seen as springboards for her never-ending game of parkour.  I remember a period of a few weeks where the only thing that seemed to calm her constant restlessness was the sound of the t.v.  Every night became a Netflix marathon night.

During the day I kept rolled up newspapers, affectionately called boppers, in every room for swatting if she lunged toward the cats or got too wild.  Every day, we put her on lead and let the cats loose to integrate them for a time.  Instead of focusing on restoring my own physical and mental well-being for the next crisis, I was spending lots of quality time with animals, all of which we had saved from some poor fate.  God really does know what He is doing.

Redemption became the theme.  It was in the background of all of my thoughts, all of my personal doubts and hopes.  Through that whole period of training that wild beast, I was considering the cost of my freedom.  I was watching her grow, but I was growing beneath the surface too.  To quote my sister: Ella was completely comfortable with herself at all times- more than any animal or person I have ever seen.  She was redeemed, and she was owning it.

Our real breakthrough came after she was spayed.  She was doped up for a couple of days, too drugged to scooby-doo all over the place.  Finally, our cats could come and thoroughly inspect her.  From that point forward, everything became easier.  She's not jumping on people, has no desire to bolt through any opened door, and doesn't require a cage at all.  Once she got out of our yard and came right back because we are her people.  She is a true companion animal, the only one of our pets who always loves affection.  She also tested heart worm free a couple of weeks ago.

The icing, in all of this, was last Monday when she graduated from Novice Obedience class and won second place in the "trial."  Yes, this was after a tie for first, in a group of only four dogs, but she did really well.  (Actually, I made a mistake that may have cost her first place.)

I don't now if anyone will even read this far in this post.  It's very pet-centric, but I wanted to have this here for me to remember this redemption-as-therapy that helped me during a difficult time.  I like thinking that I, too, have been redeemed from a poor fate.  And that redemption cost God something.  How will I live my life to own it?

Tonight I will be taking both of my dogs, at the same time, for a peaceful stroll.  No more pulling my shoulder out of place.  No need for The Bopper in my back pocket.  We are now a team, a family.

(on instagram and flickr)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Giant Sigh of Relief Project

Cumberland is my palate cleanser between sweater projects for the Brooklyn Knitfolk Hipster KAL.  I realize I won't finish both Heritage (below) and Feya before it ends, but the point is that it has motivated me to begin something that's not a Fade, not that I bear the Fade trend any ill will.  I knit Find Your Fade and  I loved wearing it that one cold day.

I am so relieved that Heritage is off the needles.  It was a fantastic knit, but I had yardage and personal gauge issues that meant I almost knit the whole thing twice.  So I was kind of sick of the Heron's Wing colorway by the cast off round.

Pulling out these two skeins of Gynx Yarns (in Charcoal and Lavender Tea) that I've been saving for a two color shawl, was so satisfying.  Even though my knitting time was limited, just knocking out the first stripe section last night erased all the frustrations from my mistakes on the previous pattern.  This was one of those times when people sitting next to you can visibly see the difference knitting makes in your well-being.

Cumberland is the perfect thing to help me switch gears from sweater re-knit mode.  It involves easy lace, stripes, and yarn that I love.  Like Heritage and Buckalope, it is designed by a Ravelry/ Instagram friend whom I love.  I know that it was just released by Appalachian Knits, and so hasn't had time to accumulate a ton of FOs, but I really wanted those stripes and it has less than 30 FOs, so I'm entering it.

The Hipster KAL includes lots of new patterns from new designers, that's part of the charm.  But it has sent me digging through old pattern books from when I first began knitting 15 years ago.  There are a ton of dog-eared pages with great designs on my shelves.  A Ravelry search on them often pulls up nothing, or maybe a bare page with no image.  These were pre-Ravelry and pre-Instagram patterns, back in the days when mamatronic sounded like a good email address and/or username.  There was no constant visual reminder that they existed and needed to be knit, like we have online today.  There was none of this visual fervor that pulls me along, like the sheep I am, to knit what I see all the other knitters around the world knitting right this minute.  But I want to remember these older designs, especially if they were the ones that first inspired me to pick up my needles.

I'm thinking maybe I should interject some of them into my queue, every third project or so.  It would be a "coming full circle" kind of experience..somehow... and freshen things up.

(more on ravelry, instagram, and flickr)

 What is your Giant Sigh of Relief project right now?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Blog Plans vs Planned Obsolescence

It doesn't matter how we stagger our device purchases, they all seem to become outmoded for our needs at the exact same time, every one developing issues that can't be totally addressed without addressing another's issues first.  It's like an obnoxious riddle that someone tells you to feel clever but you can't stay interested long enough to remember the beginning of it by the time it's finished.   So why would you bother trying to solve it?  This leads to a birthday gift of headphones becoming a gift of headphones plus a new phone that allows them to operate correctly.  Apparently we like to go "all out."  It also leads to many nights of googling fixes for our weird damaged program/ storage/ migration problems on our desktop.

I've been trying to squeeze another year out of my Mac but it is running like something the Professor rigged up with Gilligan to pedal as power.  Point is- since my declaration to blog more my son has hogged the computer each night for college admission stuff (that's all good) and then I've been trying  to migrate files from one hard drive to another so I can clear the photos from my phone and get an upgrade.  I love it when my computer tells me the estimated transfer time is "about a day."  Cute.  And then it still doesn't work.  I'm mentally shaking a fist at Apple.  

So here I am typing very gently, and very slowly, so as not to overwhelm my computer and cause the little pinwheel to run for eternity, which is the technological equivalent of rocking back and forth in fetal position.

All of these late nights of googling things have ruined my little bit of craft time.  My Heritage sweater is something from ancient myth.  I add rounds and rounds each night, only to wake up and find I still have the same number of inches to go.

My husband and I did head to Galveston to "get away" for a day, if driving 4 hours and waiting in a ridiculously long ferry line feels like a getaway to you.  I knit and he drives, so yeah, it's a getaway for me.  We ate lots of good food then walked along the beach, then he fell asleep for an hour or so while I took pictures of his open mouth as part of the Galveston skyline and knitted some more.  I don't think he felt better rested, but I'm sure it was nice just to get outdoors because he has been working a lot.  I think I actually see progress on this sweater now.  This is progress despite having my project notes partially consumed by one, or both, of my dogs while I was not around.  Thankfully they left the very most important scrap of the page for me to remember where I was in my increases.

In other important news- not really, unless you know how much we love our animals- our newest dog Ella, most likely the culprit of the digested knitting pattern, was declared heart worm free after one year of treatment.  So she is well!  Doofy, but well!!!

(more on ravelry, flickr, and instagram)

I sound gripey.  Sorry for that, but I am not daunted by the technology woes and I am very relieved about our dog.  I hope something unexpected and wonderful happens to you or those you love today!!!