Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Episode 4: On Mission

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog: http://www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife: https://www.instagram.com/mysocalledhandmadelife/
On Ravelry as mamatronic: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/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: www.canaryknits.com

Great Northern Knits: www.greatnorthernknits.com

My Muddlings Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/user/anneofjulie

The Rose and the Wren on instagram: @roseandthewren
and on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ROSEandtheWREN?section_id=21549790

Very Pink Tutorials- www.verypink.com

Stitch N Bitch- Debbie Stoller: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/stitch-n-bitch-the-knitters-handbook

The Year of Less- Cait Flanders: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Less-Shopping-Belongings-Discovered-ebook/dp/B0767XNB47

All You Knit is Love Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdUK767mQ3-ReQU36daxHKg

Wild Handmade Shop on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WildHandmadeShop

Peppermint Mocha sock yarn- Sweet Sparrow Yarns: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetSparrowYarns

The Slow Home Podcast: https://slowyourhome.com/the-slow-home-podcast/

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Lagoon_(geothermal_spa)

Sk√≥gafoss Falls, Iceland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sk√≥gafoss

The Cocama Project: http://www.cocamaproject.org

Water for All well type: https://www.waterforallinternational.org

More photos of the trip on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BfhRivNg9GE/?taken-by=mysocalledhandmadelife

The Story Cloth: https://store.imb.org/bible-storying-cloth-scarf/

Fair Isle, the place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Isle

My WIPs:

The Edge- Gift of Knitting Designs: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/the-edge

Weekender by Andrea Mowry: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/the-weekender

Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter- https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/sunset-highway

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: http://www.myso-calledhandmadelife.com
On instagram as mysocalledhandmadelife: https://www.instagram.com/mysocalledhandmadelife/
On Ravelry as mamatronic: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/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: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/stitch-n-bitch-the-knitters-handbook
- Big Sack Sweater- Jenna Wilson: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/big-sack-sweater
- Go-Go Garter Stitch Scarf- Debbie Stoller: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/go-go-garter-stitch-scarf
- Chinese Charm Bag- Sylvia Mahoney: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/chinese-charm-bag
- Meema's Felted Tote- Meema Spadola: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/meemas-felted-marsupial-tote
- Hot Head Hat- Alex Zorn: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/hot-head

Stitch N Bitch Nation: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/stitch-n-bitch-nation/patterns
- Newsboy Cap- Shannita Williams: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/cabled-newsboy-cap---headline-news
- Fairly Easy Fair Isle- Kate Watson: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fairly-easy-fair-isle
- Lucky: Clover Lace Wrap- Melissa Wehrle: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lucky-clover-lace-wrap

Stitch N Bitch Superstar: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/stitch-n-bitch-superstar-knitting
- Saxon the City Stockings- Julia Frank: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/saxon-the-city

The Happy Hooker: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/stitch-n-bitch-crochet-the-happy-hooker/patterns
- Granny's No Square bag- Diana Rupp: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/grannys-no-square

Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/fitted-knits-25-designs-for-the-fashionable-knitter/patterns
- Airy Wrap-Around Lace Sweater: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/airy-wrap-around-lace-sweater
Alexandra Ballerina Top: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/alexandra-ballerina-top
- Cropped Cardigan w/ Leaf Ties: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cropped-cardigan-with-leaf-ties
- Cozy V-Neck Pullover w/ Deep Ribbing: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cozy-v-neck-pullover-with-deep-ribbing
- Back to School U-Neck Vest: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/back-to-school-u-neck-vest
- (my version): https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/minas-tuxedo-vest

Her Glam Knits:
- Textrurized Tweed Coat: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/texturized-tweed-coat
- Deep U-Neck Tunic Dress: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/deep-u-neck-tunic-dress
- Zigzag Lace Wrap: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/zigzag-lace-wraparound

Knitting Without Tears- Elizabeth Zimmerman (The Best): https://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Without-Tears-Easy-Follow/dp/0684135051/ref=sr_1_1_sspa/146-2671738-9668756?ie=UTF8&qid=1517600719&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=knitting+without+tears&psc=1

52 Weeks of Dishcloths- Knit Picks: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/52-weeks-of-dishcloths-2014-pattern-collection

Kid's Chainmail Coif and Hauberk- Kim Brody Salazar: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/kids-chainmail-coif-and-hauberk-chain-mail

Dwarven Battle Bonnet- Sally Pointer: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/dwarven-battle-bonnet

A Maker's Pilgrimage with The Knitting Monk: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYvJZr2oy6aZFawzQizjpuQ

The Thistle Hollow Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzLEkx1THL8vtNSQyDeKWHg

Those Holla Knits Daze:
- Umbre Lovre- Allyson Dykhuizen: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/umbre-lovre
- Lady Bat- Teresa Gregorio: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/lady-bat
- Henri- Ann Leachman: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/henri
- Bombshell Shorts- Katie Canavan: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/bombshell-shorts
- Cedar Glen Mitts- Katie Canavan: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/cedar-glen-mitts
- Scallop of the Sea clutch- Katie Canavan: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/scallop-of-the-sea

My WIPs:
With Ease- Sylvia McFadden: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/with-ease
The Edge- Gift of Knitting Designs: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/the-edge
The Weekender- Andrea Mowry: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/mamatronic/the-weekender

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

- Fullmetal Brotherhood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist:_Brotherhood
- Oathbringer- Brandon Sanderson: https://www.amazon.com/Oathbringer-Book-Three-Stormlight-Archive/dp/076532637X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517601416&sr=8-1&keywords=oathbringer