Friday, May 18, 2018

Episode 10: Icelandic Road Trip

After a few weeks of trying to squeeze in time to organize my photos, video, and thoughts on an incredible experience, here it is.  My words don't fully reflect my gratitude to have stood on ground I've wanted to stand on for 27 years?!  It didn't have to happen, I would've been fine.  But I'm really glad it did.

Episode 10: Icelandic Road Trip

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

My Question for you is still... how are you improving your quality of life by unplugging, getting outdoors, and/ or moving more.

Stuff I mention in Episode 10:

Marmot Pre-Cip Rain Jacket:

Cheaper Polarfleece jacket:

Kex Hostel in Reykjavík:
Blue Lagoon:

Snorri Sturluson:

Birch by Pam Allen:
knit in Patons Classic Wool:

Twas the Night Before Christmas socks by Dani Jorge:
Knit in Sweet Sparrow Yarns' Peppermint Mocha:

Foss Hotel, even if for just a meal:

Skaftafell Park:

Thingvellir Park:
History of the Althing:

Alafoss Lopi store:
The free Afmæli pattern by Istex Lop on ravelry:
or straight to pdf:


Lakigígar eruption:


the Sagas of the Icelanders:

Ultralight Hiking:

Innov-8 Roclite Hi-top trail runners:

Jobi GorrillaPod tri-pod:

Insight Guides Iceland book and ebook:

A Traveller's Guide to Icelandic Folk Tales:

Compression bags for yarn etc.:

Kelty Redwing Pack:

Tops Tanks and Tees Knit-along:

Zara by Dianna Walla:
in Lindy Chain yarn:

For anyone who actually read this list to the end, here's a cringe-worthy article about tourism in Iceland.  This is what I did not want to be:

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Episode 9: Ideal Self

More thoughts on living with less and doing, or not doing things, because of the "ideal self."

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

I'm on my blog:
Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
Ravelry as mamatronic:

Questions I have for you:
Are you finding ways to move and take care of your body that are compatible with the "simple life?"
How important is it to you to get outdoors regularly?

Stuff I mention in Episode 9:

T-shirt quilt ideas:

and here:

My Goldfinch by Andrea Mowry: in Gynx Targhee Dk

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion:

Our combined natural yarn links (Some of these companies sell both super wash and non-superwash):

A Homespun House Dale:
YOTH Father:
Quince and Co:
Brooklyn Tweed:
Baa Ram Ewe:
Swan's Island:
Elemental Effects:
Blacker Yarns:
Peace Fleece:
White Gum Wool:

Natural Yarns I saw at DFW Fiber Fest:

Independence Wool:
The Ross Farm:
Hill Country Weavers Naturals:
KidKat Ranch:
Wolle's Natural Creations:
and Wolle's Ravelry Group:

I plan to use some of this yarn for the Azulejo Shawl by Christina Danaee:
and the Polly Shawl by Trudy Fedorko:

The Ninja Chickens Episode that discusses superwash yarn:

Knitter's Review Calendar of Local Yarn Festivals:

Karmyn's DIY drop shoulder pattern inspiration:

Pammie's Timely Cardigan, by Libby Jonson:

My current WIPs are Birch by Pam Allen:

and The Bulky Easy One by Joji Locatelli:

Once more, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders:

Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson:

Nutritious Movement with Katy Bowman:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Episode 8: I'm the Neat One Now

It's true!  I have a few small areas of my house to tackle and the organization I have been lacking the last few years will be totally corrected.  Who knows what genius ideas I'll unlock in my less- cluttered brain.

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Questions I have for you:
Have you made the switch to non-superwash/ un-dyed yarns or are you transitioning?
What are your favorite sources for non-superwash sock yarns?
Any booth recommendations for DFW FiberFest?

Stuff I mentioned  in Episode 8:

The Sister Survivor Blanket Project:
hosted by Evelyn of The Thistle Hollow Podcast:

My square from Build-a-Block Blanket pattern by Lisa Carnahan:


Minimalist Budgeting to save:

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders:

TTV photos:

Roid Week:

Kon Marie method of coding clothes for hours:

El Cosmico:

Roswell UFO Museum:

Grand Canyon North Rim:

Zion National Park:

Angel's Landing:

Bryce Canyon:

Roclite Trail shoes:

Kelty Backpack:

My Bulky Easy One by Joji Locatelli:

Lumen by Fiona Alice:

From Amirisu 15:

To knit in Hawthorne Tonal Hand Paint (Grant's Pass and Silverton):

My Zida by Libby Jonson:

in Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn (Gentleman and Soft Romance):

for the Spring Shawl Wrap-Up KAL in Truly Myrtle Ravelry Group:

Laine Magazine, issue 4:

Specifically Kate cardigan, also by Libby:

and Timely Cardigan:

Latest Truly Myrtle Podcast episode that got me thinking about non-superwash socks:

Making Stories Socks 2018 Ebook:

Tim Silverwood of "Take 3 for the Sea":

Blacker Mohair blend:

Exchanging Fire Guide to Ethical Yarn:

Tanis Fiber Arts Pure Wash:

Mountain Meadow Wool:

Madelinetosh Ranch Wools:

for the Hazy Cloud Pullover by Andrea Rangel:

DFW Fiber Fest:

Roundtable Yarns:

Future Knits are Silvermine by Christina Danaee:

Larch by PamAllen:

in Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn, dark teal colorway:

and a Granny Stripe Blanket by Attic24:

in a Suzy Q Makes Fox bag:

using Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye, Poseidon:

And Hawthorne Tonal Hand Paints, Cully:

Some great viewer podcasts:

Aknitak Creations Podcast:

and Shauna Stitches Podcast:

Episode 7: Hygge on Crack

Sorry I forgot to actually publish this one until today.

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Episode 7: Hygge on Crack
Questions for you? 

- As you simplify your life, spending less and becoming more resourceful to meet your needs, are you finding new creative passions or skills you didn't know you had?

- "Financial security is important to a point."  What is that point for you?  Do you want to work forever?  Are you willing to take a pay decrease and cut spending to have more free time?

I'm interested.

Stuff I mention:

Sister Survivor Blanket Project:

Hosted by Evelyn of The Thistle Hollow Podcast:

The Thistle Hollow Ravelry Group:

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders:

Honest Money Podcast with Cait Flanders:

Larch by Pam Allen:

To be knit in Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn:

The Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

Knit in Cascade 220:

The Bulky Easy One by Joji Locatelli:

Easy enough to knit during Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And in case I'm not the only one who hasn't seen it:

Birch by Pam Allen:

Both knit in Patons Classic Wool:

The Commercial KAL with the Stranded Podcast:

My Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter:

My blog post on DIY wooden needles:

Ashley Martineau's thrift sweater recycling tutorial:

Truly Myrtle Spring Shawl Autumn Wrap Up KAL:

I'm knitting Zida by Libby:

in Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn's Soft Romance and Gentleman:

Coffee, Yarn, and Dinosaurs Podcast:

Monday, March 19, 2018

In Search of the Perfect Oversized Sweater

I have used the Commercial KAL on Stranded Podcast's Rav page to fuel my quest to re-make the sweaters of my youth.  Basically, everything I am knitting is huge.

I have wanted larger sweaters for a couple of years, but never seem to quite get my stuff to the right dimensions.  Years ago, everything I knit turned out too big, so maybe I have a sub-conscious hesitation about going larger.

My Sunset Highway is somewhat there, but it only has one commercial yarn in it and it feels too fine for a grungy backpacking trip.  This trip is the other reason I want more oversized garments.  In Iceland, I will only have my pack and what is on my body.  The sweater or two that I bring must be light, but warm.  Only, they can't be too warm because I will be moving around a lot.  They also need to be roomy enough for under-layers, but not too bulky for a jacket over them.  Suddenly I feel like the picky little girl that drove my mother crazy when shopping for new school clothes.

 The Edge was my first try for this fit with a commercial yarn in my stash, but it didn't turn out as big as I'd have liked, though I loved the fit.  I also gave it to my daughter, so it's out.  I decided to knit it again in a larger size with more Cascade Eco+. This one will be the perfect fit, I think, but with bulky yarn it wouldn't be great for under a jacket.  So, it will have to wait until I am home.  I am excited to use this Lichen colorway, though.  All of the little flecks of gold and reddish brown get me.

I have no problem using less expensive yarns like these.  I have heard some of the more expensive yarns are also more hard-wearing.  If that is true, I guess I am not in an environment where I am able to wear any wool enough to gauge it's hardiness.  I am, however, in an environment where wools like Patons Classic and Cascade are readily available and easy on my (now shrinking) yarn budget.  I do love hearing about how certain companies ensure ethical ranch/ mill/ dyeing processes.  That's something I haven't looked into much with the "big three" of my cheaper wool resources.  So, I can't speak to that here, at least not yet.

My next attempt at the perfect, oversized sweater was The Weekender by Andrea Mowry.  I knit it in the Cascade 220 stonewash colorway.  It is finished and just needs ends woven in.  I can tell it is definitely oversized, but wether or not it is my "perfect oversized" remains to be seen.  Stay tuned... It was finished by the KAL end, but I never posted it in the thread because I was covered in sweat and dirt every day this week and didn't feel up to wearing a sweater.

As I finished The Weekender, I cast on a Patons Classic Tweed colorway that I got it in a ridiculous Craftsy sale (Craftsy is my commercial yarn sale standby.  I am avoiding their emails right now to avoid temptation.) after years of seeing it every time I went into craft stores.

Since the rainbow flecks seemed to call for a simple design, I thought Joji Locatelli's The Bulky Easy One was perfect.  It makes excellent movie theatre knitting.  Even though it is dark yarn, after both sides are joined, it's just easy stockinette in the round that your fingers can manage in a darkened theatre.  I was able to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all the way through for the first time ever at the classic theatre while knitting this, without a hitch.

The Bulky Easy One is meant, as you may have guessed, for a bulky yarn.  My Patons is worsted, so I am going to do that thing I have seen done a million times on Ravelry and knit a really big size with smaller yarn, in the hopes of hitting the perfect size- a 3XL to approximate a medium, actually.  In my quest for ever-larger sweaters, I have been thinking I probably should have aimed for a size large instead.  Oh well, I have another oversized project on the needles that may achieve just that.

My last "big" attempt is Birch by Pam Allen.  Her Plain and Simple book is on my mind a lot lately.  Everything in it looks like something I would love to make and use, daily.  Since I tend to knit one thing from a book, then skip to another pattern book, we will see.  I have got a second one lined up from this, though.  Birch wasn't be ready for the end of the Commercial KAL either, but that wasn't really my point of joining.  I wanted the motivation to use older stash.

I actually had a few inches knit when I realized that my older skein of Patons Classic in Moss Heather was a little darker than my newer ones.  This is a bummer because I will need all of them to get this one big enough for my liking.  I hate to say it, but I am alternating skeins of Patons, something I never thought I would have to do.  I've never seen a difference in lots before, but that older skein was from my Owls sweater, made in 2011.  It is understandable.

Other than the annoyance of having to alternate skeins, this begins as an easy, bottom-up, stockinette, in-the-round sweater.  The two skeins at a time does make it better for knitting at home.  I am excited to get to the colorwork yoke that I will be doing in the natural Aran colorway.

So, I think I have roomy sweaters covered, guys.  Are you still knitting oversized, cocoon-like sweaters, or have you swung back to more fitted styles- because I know that's going to happen and I will eventually want more of them?

So far, oversized still seems to be having it's moment, like seamless and chunky once did.  Even when that fashion moment passes, there will always be a place for oversized stuff in my wardrobe.  I am semi-wedged in the past, which is why I loved the latest issue of KnitScene's 90's collection. Among other goodies, there is a thermal, an oversized stripe (like the ones I borrowed from my brother's closet through high school), cropped tops, and a very Delia-esque v-neck.  The dream winter wardrobe of my awkward years is well within my grasp, friends.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Episode 6: People Before Things

I've been so busy organizing I was late getting this out. At least I'm taking de-cluttering seriously :)

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Episode 6: People Before Things

My questions for you:

Are you finding yourself caught in a cycle of consumer culture?
What would you say is at the root of your mindless consumption?
Any tips for combatting mindless consumerism in the crafting community and/or in life in general?

Which do you think is the best forum for discussion: Youtube comments or a Ravelry group?

Stuff I mention:

The Slow Home Podcast:

Natalie Merchant's Ophelia:

My The Edge sweater by Gift of Knitting Designs:

Next one to be knit in Cascade Eco+:

Katy Bowman Nutritious Movement:

Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up:

Courtney Carver's Soulful Simplicity:

More La Leche League Maxims:

McMilne Shawl by Jane Richmond:

Bag by Rose and the Wren Shop:

Acadia National Park:

Sexy Vesty by Teresa Gregorio:

Saturate Shawl by Mara Catherine Bryner:

Photo overload of my Oh My Bear! by Tiny Owl Knits:

The Chimney Tops in Smoky Mountain Ntnl Park:

Humulus by Isabell Kraemer:

Birch by Pam Allen:

Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner:

My Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

My The Bulky Easy One by Joji Locatelli:

Both are for Stranded Podcast's #Commercial KAL:

Friday, March 2, 2018

Episode 5: The Slow Life

I realize I didn't give you guys much time to respond to any questions from Episode 4, or leave feedback in general, but that one took FOREVER to edit and upload.  So, I practically had a new one ready the next day.  Please leave any thoughts about either episode here or on in the comments on either episode in Youtube.

And don't forget, I'm giving away a copy of the sweater pattern you see here in this episode!!! Isn't it incredible?

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Episode 5:

My Questions for you:  Are you doing the whole slow living thing yet?  What does slow living mean to you?  How are you incorporating it into your life?

Stuff I mention:
The Edge sweater by Gift of Knitting Designs:

Photos of The Edge on my blog:

Alina's patterns on Gift of Knitting:

My Journey:

My Reindeer:
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders:

The Slow Home Podcast:

Kirsty Farrugia of The Art of De-Cluttering Podcast:

Annihilation without the commentary ;):

A Stillness of Trees by Sylvia McFadden:

Sol Alpaca Yarn:

Knitscene Spring 2018 90's Collection:

The Easy Bulky One by Joji Locatelli:

Humulus by Isabell Kraemer:

Birch by Pam Allen:

Durumi by Isabell Kraemer:

Treysta by Jeniffer Steingass:

Encircled Collection from KnitPicks:

Especially the Bistort Pullover by Courtney Spainhower:

Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Episode 4: On Mission

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

An abnormally long Episode 4 that you might want to watch in bursts:

Questions for you:  Have you joined the slow living movement?  What does "living slow" mean to you?  How are you making it a part of your work, home, and crafting life?

Stuff I mention:

Canary Knits:

Great Northern Knits:

My Muddlings Podcast:

The Rose and the Wren on instagram: @roseandthewren
and on Etsy:

Very Pink Tutorials-

Stitch N Bitch- Debbie Stoller:

The Year of Less- Cait Flanders:

All You Knit is Love Podcast:

Wild Handmade Shop on Etsy:

Peppermint Mocha sock yarn- Sweet Sparrow Yarns:

The Slow Home Podcast:

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland:

Skógafoss Falls, Iceland:ógafoss

The Cocama Project:

Water for All well type:

More photos of the trip on Instagram:

The Story Cloth:

Fair Isle, the place:

My WIPs:

The Edge- Gift of Knitting Designs:

Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter-

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Best Sweater Pattern Ever

I did not write this post title lightly.  I say this knowing that, according to Ravelry, I have knit 68 sweaters, many of which I loved.  I say that knowing I still have tons of really great patterns to work through this year.  But for now, if I consider both product and process, this is my favorite sweater pattern to have knit.  Guess why?

Giant. Bulky. Cables.  Did I have you at cables or bulky, or maybe giant?  If you removed one, or even two, of those factors, I'd still probably have wanted to knit this.  But with all three together, I couldn't resist.  When Alina asked if I'd like to test knit, I knew I'd be going away and have to rush it, but I could not resist.  Actually, it worked up so quickly, I had the body and a sleeve knit before I left.  When I got back, I dealt with a migraine for three days but still finished it by the release day, which is today Feb 25th.  I wish I'd been a better tester and had it done earlier, but I just can't regret getting to knit this.  It was my favorite.

Like I said, it is out now, so you can totally get this pattern today.  And you owe it to yourself to knit something so completely fun.  Even the sleeves were interesting because of the chevron stitch Alina added to the elbows.

And bulky. Bulky, people.  It knits itself through a few episodes of Dark.  This is a big part of the allure.  I've shared before that bulky knits on wooden needles put me in a happy, nostalgic frame of mind.  It is the solution to peace through many difficult situations I face.  For all I know, it could be the solution to world peace- picture Middle East Peace KALs.

Now, I'll tell you that I wish I'd knit a size up.  I knit the 41" bust and did block it out to that measurement, but when I put it on, the Cascade Eco tends to lengthen and I lose some of the boxy look that I love so much on Alina's version.   Maybe that's a fiber issue, but I've also decided that while my broad shoulders didn't affect sizing so much several years ago, they do now that I'm carrying extra weight in my upper arms.  My chest measurements would lead me to choose the size 41", but I think more width in the shoulders would have given me the full modified drop-shoulder effect.  I'm thinking this is why every time I go to knit an extremely oversized sweater, I tend to end up with just mildly oversized.

There's definitely a place in my wardrobe for mildly oversized too, so it's all good.  I feel great about this sweater and I did have just enough Eco to knit the size small.  I wouldn't have had enough for a medium.  I'm also feeling empowered by having figured out what I need to look for on schematics when choosing my size in sweaters and how I might be able to modify patterns for a better fit in the future.  I usually add to the depth of the armhole, but I need to keep the broadness of my shoulders in mind too.

Details: I knit the second size (small) with Cascade Eco and US size 6 and 7 needles.  It took only two skeins of Eco.  Two skeins!! When they are on sale for $11 each, that's not a bad deal for an intricate-looking hand knit.

Modifications: I added 6 stitches to each sleeve, as I often do to handle the disproportionate measurements of my chest and upper arm.  (What can I say- I'm ripped) As I said earlier, after knitting this, I think I should start knitting a size up due to the arms and the whole broad shoulder thing.

I love this as is!!  It feels comfortable and casual.  Please, please let us have some more cold weather so I can enjoy it without a sweaty upper lip!

As much as I love it, I want one in a size medium, immediately!!  I think I'd love all that extra billowy cabledy goodness, even if it did swallow me up.

(This one looks like a senior photo pose.  More on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

Another blog post on this sweater is here. And I mention it in podcast episodes:  Doing it with Ease and First Knits.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Plane Knitting

What an easy, relaxed knit!  I pull The Weekender, by Andrea Mowry, out when I want the ease of stockinette so I can just relax and chat or watch tv.  I think it'll be a good knit for my flights, too.  As I write this I'm reminding myself to go ahead and ball up the yarn so the people sitting next to me won't hate my guts.  But I have a feeling I will run out of time.  I'm scheduling a couple of blog posts like it's my job.  Meanwhile I need to water plants, write notes for my husband to remember stuff, and (most importantly) decide what projects I'll be bringing.

I've heard if your projects have already begun, airlines are more likely to let you bring them in in your carry-on.  I know things have relaxed in the last 5-7 years, since I last flew, but I'm still traumatized by that time Lima Airport's customs confiscated my Denise Needles.  I was too shocked to even ask if I could unscrew the cord and at least keep it.  I don't even use Denise needles anymore, but the pain is still fresh.

So, I'm taking Clover bamboo needles and packing a couple things in my carry-on and a couple in my checked bag.

This trip isn't the kinds where I'll be lounging about, knitting.  But I can't stand the thought of flying with nothing to busy my hands, unless my book gets really good.

This is a link to the Cocama Project website that shows the process we will be using to dig a well for a village in Peru.  Hopefully I'll have some good photos for you when I get back.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Test Knit, I Know I Know

I realize I said in my first podcast episode that I wouldn't be doing any deadline knitting projects, no gifts or test knits.  Famous last words.  When Alina of Gift of Knitting sent me these photos of a super cabled, bulky sweater, I could not resist.  Could you?

These cables are so addictive.  I hate that I keep getting distracted from them by silly things like people needing food and love from me.  Now, I'm leaving them behind for a trip because I don't think large projects will fit in my bag.  I''m going to the Amazon and this is my only real packing worry- what knits can I bring.

Well, I'll look forward to finishing it when I get home.  It looks fitted in images, but it should block out to have a nice 5-6 inches of positive ease.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, my podcast, and flickr)

This will be my first sweater to start this year.  I like that it's designed by a friend and the epitome of my favorite knitting scenario: bulky, major cables, and budget Cascade Eco that I happened to have run my stash when Alina messaged me about the test.  I don't think I could've done it otherwise.

It's called The Edge, so you can look for testers photos via instagram with #the_edge_sweater.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

With Ease

With Ease is my first project from Sylvia McFadden's Gentle Armour.  This shawl was exactly what I thought it would be.  It was interesting, but not so hard I couldn't indulge in conversation.  It also had me thinking about my life as I worked on it.  That's an unusual reaction to a knitting pattern, but this is from an unusual pattern book.  If you've seen the first two episodes of my podcast or my Vlogmas, you know I'm obsessed with Sylvia's book and all the designs in it.

Details: I used size US 6 needles and Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter (yeeee! first time and I love it.) in Faded Quilt to make this.  The only modification I made was to knit another pattern repeat as it looked kind of small.  Now, she instructs to block it aggressively, which I tried to do, but I had the yarn so I decided to add the repeat as a precaution.  One knitter on instagram told me she added three repeats to get a generously sized With Ease.  I decided to just add one, but was appreciative of her mentioning it to me because it gave me confidence to add on.

Now I need to say, one more time, how great Gentle Armour is.  The whole inspiration of the collection sounds, to me, like taking care of yourself- making healthy choices, creating good, gentle boundaries.

So, as I worked on this shawl, I considered what things I have learned to do with ease.  One of the biggies is saying no, and learning to live with displeasing people.  I don't think that happens too often, but it still can.  I used to want to make people happy.  I felt like if I was physically capable of doing something they wanted, I should.  As if my seeing the need was the equivalent of a calling to fill it.  It was like I was made to make other people happy.  When you're mostly around people who are decent and kind, that seems to work out great.  But, it can't always be a nice, safe, little bubble of like-minded sweethearts, you know?  What if they aren't satisfied?  What if they see me as a different sort of person than I believe I am?  The anxiety this used to give me was all internal.  No one would've known it was there.  (Hopefully, my children didn't pick up on it and carry a similar tendency because of it.)  However, it definitely impeded my happiness.  I couldn't totally relax if someone hated me.  How could I be happy if they thought I was... (insert a negative adjective).

That's when I really struggled with how difficult it seemed to get along with certain people.  I was okay with giving things like control of the conversation, access to my strength, more respect than received, etc.  But I was started to feel emotionally depleted, physically worn, and angry about it.  On top of that, it never really soothed anyone.  Eventually, boundaries had to be drawn.  It took me a while just to identify how unhealthy my attitude toward making others happy was.  I was created to make God happy, and last I checked, He didn't require the weird things that were being asked of me.  That's when my frustration that they wouldn't just be satisfied was exposed for what it was- too much focus on myself to avoid conflict.  It was actually prideful to think I could take care of things in such a way as to resolve conflict.  I mean, a true absence of conflict wouldn't leave me seething, would it?  So, I started stepping back and trying to look at scenarios through a balanced perspective- whatever that was.  Slowly, I started to see where I should and shouldn't act.  This was all accompanied by lots of prayer. It felt wrong at first, like trying to get de-programmmed from a cult.  It felt so awkward to know someone was annoyed with me and to do nothing about it.  I imagine people coming out of codependency feel much the same way.  After a few months, the change in my sense of calm and my clear headedness were undeniable.   I have tried to make sure I stay balanced and still be willing to "give in" when it's good to do so.  Maintaining this healthy boundary, one that is healthy for everyone involved, has gotten much easier since then.

The only thing I can add to all of this deep, pondering, is:  Look at this pretty yarn!!!!! You know a yarn is special when an 18 year old boy says flowery words like, "Yeah, that is neat." instead of the usually grunts from where his head is buried in his elevensies snack plate.

I love the little flecks of bright blue in it.  Isn't Faded Quilt just the perfect name for this shade of blue?  And for a shawl that wraps around me like gentle armour?!  It makes me think of a much loved, family heirloom that's been washed a lot, but still had some of it's old luster shining through.  Like a quilt my great-grandmother might have made, if anyone ever actually took it off the rack and used it.

I want to be Brooklyn Tweed's biggest fan, but I can't justify more until I knit through all of my stash of good, but budget, yarn.  I do have another few skeins for Quill's Arrow, though.  I think an entire sweater in Shelter or Loft would be so luxurious- in the way rustic, woolen-spurn wool can be a luxury.

(more on ravelry, instagram, flickr, and kollabora)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Episode 3: First Knits

Guys!  I have loved talking to you with my mouth, not just my fingers.  If you think of a reply to any of the questions I pose or have any thoughts that this episode brought to mind, please share here, or on youtube.  It makes it so much more fun.   Also link photos from your ravelry page, blog, instagram, etc. of your fledgling knits!  You know you wanna!

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.
On my blog:
On instagram as mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Episode 3 Questions for you:

What was your shameless first sweater or hand knit?
What website, book, community inspired you in the beginning?
Beginner's recommendations for a new knitter, if different?
What've you been watching or reading lately?
Anyone been to Iceland or  know of any must-see destonations?

Stuff I mention or show:

Debbie Stoller's books that got me started knitting:

Stitch N Bitch Handbook:
- Big Sack Sweater- Jenna Wilson:
- Go-Go Garter Stitch Scarf- Debbie Stoller:
- Chinese Charm Bag- Sylvia Mahoney:
- Meema's Felted Tote- Meema Spadola:
- Hot Head Hat- Alex Zorn:

Stitch N Bitch Nation:
- Newsboy Cap- Shannita Williams:
- Fairly Easy Fair Isle- Kate Watson:
- Lucky: Clover Lace Wrap- Melissa Wehrle:

Stitch N Bitch Superstar:
- Saxon the City Stockings- Julia Frank:

The Happy Hooker:
- Granny's No Square bag- Diana Rupp:

Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits:
- Airy Wrap-Around Lace Sweater:
Alexandra Ballerina Top:
- Cropped Cardigan w/ Leaf Ties:
- Cozy V-Neck Pullover w/ Deep Ribbing:
- Back to School U-Neck Vest:
- (my version):

Her Glam Knits:
- Textrurized Tweed Coat:
- Deep U-Neck Tunic Dress:
- Zigzag Lace Wrap:

Knitting Without Tears- Elizabeth Zimmerman (The Best):

52 Weeks of Dishcloths- Knit Picks:

Kid's Chainmail Coif and Hauberk- Kim Brody Salazar:

Dwarven Battle Bonnet- Sally Pointer:

A Maker's Pilgrimage with The Knitting Monk:

The Thistle Hollow Podcast:

Those Holla Knits Daze:
- Umbre Lovre- Allyson Dykhuizen:
- Lady Bat- Teresa Gregorio:
- Henri- Ann Leachman:
- Bombshell Shorts- Katie Canavan:
- Cedar Glen Mitts- Katie Canavan:
- Scallop of the Sea clutch- Katie Canavan:

My WIPs:
With Ease- Sylvia McFadden:
The Edge- Gift of Knitting Designs:
The Weekender- Andrea Mowry:

And if you made it this far, you are unique, and so will appreciate the strangeness of these recommendations:

- Fullmetal Brotherhood:
- Oathbringer- Brandon Sanderson:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Twas the Night Before Christmas

What am I going to say about the Twas the Night Before Christmas socks that you haven't already read or heard a thousand times?  It's everything you've heard- cute, interesting to even the most bored sock knitter, and able to entice non-sock knitters to try it.  It works with tonal or variegated colorways, and even stripes.  Yeah, all of that.

They were my Christmas Eve Cast On, but I was too busy to cast on the night of the 24th.  So, on Christmas Day, after our company left, I sat down to knit the first sock.  Wow, I just had a weird deja vu moment as I write this.  I vividly recall the feeling I had when I sat down to cast on and it was not at all the feeling I intended this post to invoke.

Okay, if I'm honest, it was a little blue.  I mean our Christmas celebration had been nice and I was so excited to see my daughter and son-in-law.  We had a lot of fun with them and at my father's house, but there was a spot in my living room where my grandmother should have been sitting, trying to pet my dogs with the back of her hand so she could be loving but still not get dog germs.  I'm not feeling sad or on the verge of tears or anything, as I write this.  It's just a fact that Christmas, after a loved one dies, isn't easy.  I didn't go on a crying jag or anything. I felt kind of numb and weird.  It was that unsettling feeling like I'd get on the first day of school, as a girl, only worse.  Everything was going to be different now. Every milestone, every event would feel different.

So, I sat there on the couch, after everyone had left and it was quiet and cast on Dani's pattern.  It wasn't a magical balm that made everything easy.  But it was rhythmic and familiar.  Dani is my friend, wether she knows it or not.  I keep up with her, her mom, her dog, and now her cat on her podcast.  It feels homey and comfortable, like knitting with a friend.  She dotes on those pets like my sister and I dote on ours, so I feel a kinship.

I concentrated on learning the cast on, a type I've only done once before, but love the look of.  Then, I focused on the subtle coloring of the Agave colorway as it slowly became the leg of a sock.  My mind began to clear and I was aware of every part of the making process.  Maybe it's in my head, but that yarn knit up to make a better fabric than I normally get with fingering weight yarn on a size 0 needle.

The repetition of knit one, purl one was soothing and it made the night easier.  I'm thankful for that.  So my memory of my first Christmas [Day] Cast On wasn't the kind anyone would necessarily ask for, but as far as strange times of change go, it wasn't that bad.  By the way, Dani's pattern is fantastic.

So let me tell you what I love about this pattern.  I've never knit gussets the way she directs us to, but it is absolutely the neatest job I have ever done on a heel flap-type sock.  I want to use this pattern as a template for all of my heel flap and gusset socks in the future.  I can always omit the trees and purl/knit/purl line that runs down the length of it.  Though, that last detail would work great with any vanilla sock.

Details: I used Peepaloo Fields' Sensible Sock in the Agave colorway and size 0 circular needles to cast on for a size small.  The colorway was a subtle one that I thought would go well with this lace pattern.

Sensible Sock is an 80% wool/ 20% nylon blend.  It felt more substantial than the average sock yarn.  I think it must be a tad more plump.  I tend to love sport weight for socks, and an 80/20 is a good fingering weight substitute.  I have now worn them several times and can attest that the fit is great in the heel and the yarn wears well.

When I think of this yarn dyer, I tend to think of delicate speckles, but she really has a wide variety.  Her dark totals are equally beautiful.  I will, personally, keep how much I loved using that base in my mind for next time I am wanting some sock yarn.  To be honest, though I'd love to buy more immediately, that doesn't need to be soon.  I have plenty of sock yarn to knit for the next year.  I am trying to organize my home and collecting more craft stuff only thwarts that goal.