Sunday, November 22, 2015


It started as a personal challenge....
But first, the backstory.
Years ago my mother and I each bought a Rosemary kit from one of my local yarn shops, which - come to think about it - is kind of weird because we've never done the matchy-matchy thing.  I knit mine up first, and while it was beautiful and I did wear it a few times I ultimately decided that the style aged me too much.  Mom tried it on, and voila...perfect elegance!  So I gave her the finished sweater, and she gave me her unused kit.
My new kit then sat around for a really, really long time.
 Knitting my Mesmeric sweater this summer was a game changer for me.  For so many years I'd knit sweaters for everyone BUT me, but having completed that beauty I wanted more.
However, I also didn't want to spend any money on yarn, as I've been very firmly committed to using my stash this year.

So I turned to my stash....and this yarn was the perfect candidate for my next sweater.
I knew from my experiences with Rosemary that this is a yarn that needs a very basic pattern.  It pills dreadfully, and isn't the softest yarn in the world.  There's no sense wasting time on details like cables or lace that could be potentially obscured in fuzz and pills.  It needed something quick and easy to knit up, preferably in a classic pattern that would work for years to come.
 Which is where Ravelry comes into the picture.  Goodness Bless the pattern search page, which allows you to set the parameters of the search as tightly as you possibly can....including limiting it to patterns in your own library.
 After spending several days searching, I found this gem in my Interweave knits library, and after a quick swatch I knew it was the right one.
Of course...I ran it by a couple of friends who have better fashion sense than I just to be on the safe side!
 The details:
Gooseberry Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Interweave Knits Weekend 2009
Anna's Yarn - now by The Unique Sheep - in Natural Saxon Blue Indigo
the kits were sold by weight, and the tag had worn I'm sorry to say I have no idea how much yardage I had.  I got lucky.  I had enough for the sweater with a small ball left over for repairs.
Addi Turbo US 5 - 3.75 mm - 32 inch and US 4 - 3.5mm - also 32 inch
October 19 - November 8, 2015
 In case you are wondering -

Yes, that's an incredibly fast knit!
As I knew it would, the fabric relaxed in the wash, and blocked beautifully.  It wound up being a smidge smaller than I'd wanted....but as my daughter pointed out I'll, "grow into it, " because my size is still changing. 
I'm absolutely delighted with the finished look of this sweater.  It's exactly the classic look I wanted, and the fabric has an interesting weight and a gorgeous drape to it.  The drape is the best part really, and I wish I could somehow convey that through the screen.  As I can't....lots of pictures!  I have no doubt this will be a wardrobe staple for years to come.
The one kicker....and I knew this would be the case, so it's not a surprise.
It's the darn itchiest sweater I've ever owned.  This is most certainly not a yarn I would ever buy again, and in fact a part of me wishes I'd known better from the get-go.  Having said that, though, it's absolutely fine over a long sleeved, higher collared shirt like the one in the picture, and so all things considered it will be just fine.
And now that this challenge has been successfully completed...
I'm back to the stash to figure out the next!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wedding Socks

So I have these dear friends...
 And the wedding was kind of a big deal, and I love them very much!
 So I made them matching socks in their wedding colors!
* The pattern is (not a surprise) my standard Ann Budd basic sock pattern.
* The turquoise yarn is Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, and the purple is Dream in Color Smooshy...I forget the name of the color and can't find the band.  Both yarns were tucked in my stash and were perfect matches for the wedding colors!
* The needles were KnitPicks Harmony DPN's in 2.25mm
* I was fast....I started on November 9th and finished on the 20th!
* Each pair was made to fit!
 They are super-fun socks, and I had a blast making them!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crop Circles

 Scarf With Crop Circle Pattern
Haapsalu Ratt
by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi
Knit Picks Shadow - 4 skeins Opal Heather - blue/grey
Addi Turbo, US 4 (3.5mm), 32 inch circular
May 18 - Aug 9, 2015

Modification:  My original intent was to knit an Estonian lace shawl in the traditional manner, but after knitting 3/4 of the edging (which was a total slog) I decided I most certainly did NOT want to deal with the hassle of having to sew miles of that stuff onto the main body.  I absolutely adore Estonian lace, but if I do another I'll come up with a way to knit the edging directly onto the shawl.  The idea of all of that seaming fills me with dread...and makes me worry about what the finished piece would look like.
A fun note - I'm the first Ravelry member to make this piece, so I get to add it to the database.  I shouldn't be so excited about that...but I am!
I do adore Estonian lace design, and I fell in love with this piece because it was so very different than anything else I'd ever seen.  Plus, there are no nupps in the center....which made it a faster knit than one would expect.  I can't wait to wear it this fall!

Monday Meanderings

This is the first skein of handspun I made when I got back into spinning.  It's just under 500 yards of a delicious merino/tencil blend.
It's a rainy Monday morning, and I actually have things to talk here goes!
  • I have 3 (!!!) finished project posts to share with you this week.  It's VERY EXCITING!!!!
  • As you know, I've been working really hard this year to use up what I have instead of buying more...and one of the three projects happens to be particularly exciting because it falls into the stash busting category. 
  • I'm actually quite pleased with my stash busting this year.  I'll share stash before and after pictures in December. 
  • I'm totally planning on continuing that in 2016.  It feels GREAT! to use up what I have.
  • Remember the year where I made most of our Christmas gifts?  Yeah, there's not going to be a repeat this year.  I really loved my handmade Christmas, but it was just sooooo much work.
  • There is currently only one handmade gift planned.
  • And it's a doozy.
  • Insert self-satisfied, smug smile.
  • Have I mentioned lately how much I love running?  I've gone over the deep end into full-on obsessed.
  • I knew I was in trouble when I started bringing home books and magazines from the library and began listening to running podcasts....
  • I never have been able to go half-way into anything. 
  • I've signed up to run my first half-marathon in the spring, with a potential for two more in the fall.  I do a LOT better when I'm actively training for something....and I'm really looking forward to the challenge of longer runs. 
  • I'm going to have to get a job to pay for all of the races I want to run...
  • My favorites are my Sunday morning runs.  I like to go to my favorite park after sunrise (it's a popular, safe don't worry), and it's just so beautiful and peaceful.  That time alone is very centering, and I always come home with a smile. 
  • My new running 'thing' is that I now try to take at least one picture/run.  Mostly I take pictures of my beautiful surroundings, but I also like to take post-run selfies.  Oftentimes I find myself shooting into the morning light, unable to actually see what's on the screen, only to come home and find that I've captured a bit of magic.  It's added another layer of pleasure to the experience. 
  • I continue to follow my allergy plan - 7 months of full compliance and counting! - and while fall still kind of sucks I'm in a better place that I've been in for a very long while.
  • In fact, I see some change in the next year coming because of the phenomenal improvements I've been able to make in my health. 
  • Of course, I'm also going through a curious vain phase...and I've NEVER been a vain woman.
  • I'm not used to liking what I see in the mirror...or enjoying shopping...or truly wanting to make myself look good before I leave the house. 
  • Confounds me a bit. 
  • I'm still obsessively watching the X-Files.  Took a break for most of October because I love to watch all of the stupid scary movies on tv that month, but I came roaring back with a passion a couple of days after Halloween and blasted through seasons 6 and 7 in about a week.  Decided to watch the last 2 seasons - even though they are universally hated - and can honestly say that while I don't hate them, season 8 at the very least commits the grand sin of being pretty darn boring. 
  • I want to be Dana Scully when I grow up. 
  • I am way more excited about the 6 episode special run of the X-Files in January than someone my age should probably be....
  • Reading, though, has taken a hit.  That's ok.  Once in a while I go through a bit of time where I just can't seem to settle into any books. 
I have things to do today, so that'll have to be it for now.  I'll leave you with some grand pictures from my run yesterday morning.  Have a great week everyone!


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Books!

1.  Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo - I absolutely adored Bardugo's first Grisha trilogy, but there are always some nerves when a writer starts a new series.  Will it live up to the last?  I'm happy to say that the answer is a definite yes.  In fact, Bardugo is now one of my favorite writers!  In Six of Crows she chooses to stay within her Grisha universe, but she moves to focus on a new cast of characters in a completely different country some time after the events of her first trilogy.  This time around we get a band of young misfits and criminals, who are the sort who do really bad things but you can't help but love anyway.  One of my favorite parts of this book is how beautifully Bardugo seamlessly weaves in the backstories of her characters throughout the novel.  It's definitely the first in a new series, so be prepared to be annoyed a tad that you have to wait for what comes next....but at the same time, it's a book that can stand on it's own.  A note:  It got a starred review on Kirkus, which pointed out the diversity of our main cast of characters in ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.  I hadn't thought about it before, but that is one of the things that makes this book special. 

2.  Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall (audio) - A perfect book to listen to during solo runs!  I'm a sucker for a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, and with the bonus of a reader that really gets into the story it was a lot of fun.  Never in a million years would I ever have suspected that a sports book would be so entertaining!  Gave me a lot to think about as far as the biomechanics of running are concerned - specifically when it comes to how our feet work.  Probably won't be taking up barefoot running anytime soon, but I may be checking out a couple of the books that are recommended to learn better running form. 

3.  Train Like A Mother, Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea - The follow up to Run Like A Mother, which I read last month, this time around the authors focus on specific training plans for races of various lengths.  It was a pretty quick read, in large part because I did skim the training programs.  I *might* actually purchase this one in order to have a copy of the training programs to keep for myself.  They looked pretty good...although, truth be told you can get a million training programs for free online.  Occasionally I get tired of the author's brand of humor and their POV, but I'm willing to say that part of my problem is me overdosing on their books and podcasts.  

4.  Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon - A brand new YA book that was a BOTNS recommendation.  I was intrigued by the idea of a girl with 'allergies' so bad that she had to live in a completely isolated/sterilized home.  It was a delightful book.  I checked the ebook out from my library's digital services and then devoured it in a single afternoon.  It was absolutely lovely, and the ending did surprise me a bit. 

As you know, for the last several years I've enjoyed a month of "scary" books to celebrate Halloween.  As usual, I took to Facebook to ask for recommendations.  (This is NOT my normal genre, so I need help!)  This year I had the excellent question of what, exactly, was I in the mood for?  My response was that this is an exploratory month for me, and that I care more for quality of writing than I do for actual subgenre.  Makes for a more interesting month!

Unfortunately, the month turned out to be a bit of a bust for me.  I didn't find any new books that truly stand-out, and my generally experimental attitude went up in smoke.  Ultimately I realized I wanted Gothic...and I couldn't find anything new that fit the bill.  (I don't think it's in vogue right now.)  I'm seriously considering rereading some Gothic classics in November instead....

Anyway, here's what I read - or tried to read. 

1.  Through The Woods, Emily Carroll - The friend who recommended this graphic novel said it was so scary that she drove it immediately back to the library because she didn't want it in the house.  Sounds good to me!   It was a super-quick read, and while I didn't find anything new in the stories contained within, I did find them to be beautiful interpretations of familiar old scary stories.  Very nice!

2.  Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury (audio) - First of all, the audio narration is lovely.  I'd never read this book, despite it being considered a classic.  It is wonderfully atmospheric, and it does take advantage of one of the great tropes of the horror universe - the spooky traveling carnival.  Problem is, it's a quasi adventure story about young boys and a dad, and I've never been much of a fan of that type of book. I find it really hard to connect with such boy books, and honestly didn't care about the characters one way or another.  I gave up about half way through.  (Ok, in part the audio was wonderful to listen to because of the melodic reading...which unfortunately didn't have any tension to it and had a tendency to leave me wondering what, exactly, was it that I'd just listened to?  Super hard to focus)

3.  Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix - I'm only sorry that I've never been to an Ikea store - or even seen their catalog - because that would have made this book even more fun.  It's basically a haunted house book that reads like a movie script.  (Oh man, would this be fun on the big screen.)  I loved the humor, and I loved the crazy cast of characters.  The style of the book adds a lot to the fun - with employee reviews and product descriptions sprinkled throughout.  While it wasn't as scary or as haunting as I'd like (although there were some gross moments) it was definitely a great book to read this month.  This was the one clear winner of the month. 

4.  The Hunt, 5. Prey, 6. The Trap Andrew Fukada -  The first book was recommended by a friend, and I wasn't even half way through it when I put the second and third books on hold at the library.  I'm a sucker for a good, original concept, and while the idea of a world that's been overrun by vampires isn't entirely new this spin on it was definitely cool enough to draw me in.  Part Hunger Games, Part Daywalkers (the movie), the first book was amazing.  Unfortunately, Fukada isn't a good enough writer to carry his ideas through an entire trilogy.  The second one was ok, and the third...well, let's just say I think he wrote himself into a corner and then couldn't figure out how to get out of it.  There were also some clear slip ups in the details of his world, and some plot holes so big you could drive a semi through.  So much promise....Oh well.  I wound up listening to them in audio, and as they were short (33 hours all together) and could be listened to at 1.5x speed (bringing it to 22) it went quickly enough.

7.  The Woven Path, Robin Jarvis (unfinished) - I wanted to love this book because of the set-up and because it was recommended by a friend.  I had a really tough time getting into it.  The author suffers from a surfeit of adjectives and adverbs, which comes across as not-so-great, completely overblown writing. 

8.  Salem's Lot, Stephen King (unfinished) - I hate Stephen King.  I think he's a total hack.  I don't know why I bothered trying, except that I thought maybe his older work would be better.

The following I explored because of Random House's Scary Sixteen Bracket.  They were the only books on the list I hadn't read....

9.  Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk (unfinished) -  The set up should be awesome.  A novel told in stories, a group of writers at a secret writing retreat....until I read the first story, which was a total gross-out and that is soooo not my thing. 

10.  The Ruins, Scott Smith (unfinished) - I skimmed it.  I've seen the movie.  It's weird, and eh. 

11.  Infected, Scott Sigler (unfinished) - By this time I had given up.  I skimmed a bit and called it good. 

Friday, October 23, 2015


Seriously people, the black strand of yarn/thread is made of SILK AND STAINLESS STEEL!!!!!!

The green is a super fine merino. 

The scarf is the Kusha Kusha Scarf, designed by the folk at Habu Textiles, who are the mad geniuses who decided that it would be a good idea to make a yarn out of stainless steel.  

I will admit, though I had heard plenty about both the yarn and pattern online for a long while - you can't be a knitter and NOT hear about such an interesting concoction - I had no intention of actually knitting one myself until a blog friend of mine made one about 5 or 6 years ago.  I was truly impressed with how beautiful it was...but I still wasn't willing to actually track down a kit for myself. 
Apparently, randomly stumbling on one while on a trip to visit my brother was an entirely different story, though.  The cute little shop in Chicago had the kits on the shelf, and so home with me one came.  

Best of intentions...other projects which took precedence...yadda, yadda, yadda. 

I finally decided to start my Kusha Kusha this week while I was waiting for my new sweater swatch to dry.  Fortunately, the good people at Purl Soho have free instructions on how to interpret the pattern.  (Japanese style charts only...something I don't have experience with.)  So with pattern, explanation, and needles in hand I set to work.  

I'm not sure what, exactly, I expected.  

It''s weird. 

You would never guess that there's metal in the yarn, in part because it's so very fine.  It actually feels quite soft to the touch, and is easy to work with.  BUT, it does make a fabric that - even when knit in a super-loose gauge - has a definite shape and body to it. You make a stitch, and it stays put....that simple.  

I'm looking forward to finishing this one up so that I can see what the finished fabric does.  I'm not sure that I'll ever knit with this yarn again, but I'm very glad that I'm knitting with it now.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I Could Get Used To This Knitting For Myself Thing

Having finished my gorgeous Mesmeric Cardigan (I will show it off soon, promise.  I'm still looking for buttons.), I set myself the challenge of finding a pattern that would work with yarn from my stash.  This is, ahem, harder than you'd think.  I have a BUNCH of sweaters that I'd LOVE to make for myself....but I don't actually own the right yarn for any of them.  Instead, I have a drawer full of yarn from my random yarn buying days, and I'm fairly committed to NOT BUYING ANYTHING ELSE until I've used up at least half of it.  My goal for the year was to work down my stash, and I'm sticking to it!!!  Or Else!!!*

Now, the truth of the matter is that at least three sweater-quantity batches of yarn in my stash are being saved for something special once I my body settles down to a size it likes.  I'm not there yet, so that yarn is just going to have to wait.  At least three other batches are variegated (shudders....I know, I know...past mistakes that will have to be made right...).  It's a motley collection at best, and it's going to require some creativity.

I could have started more socks, or a shawl, or something else from the stash...but darn it, I wanted to start another sweater post-haste!

So I turned to the one option that made sense.  Years ago my mom and I bought kits to make Anna Zilboorg's sweater, Rosemary.  The yarn - Anna's Yarn, now produced by The Unique Sheep - is a hand-dyed wool/mohair blend that works up beautifully, but pills like a son-of-a-gun under regular wear.  I actually knit my Rosemary, and I wore it several times.  It was pretty, but ultimately I decided that the pattern aged me.  Several years ago I gave it to Mom...and was delighted when she tried it on because on her it was an elegant, lovely thing.  (I admit, this was a tad annoying....)  In return, Mom gave me her kit so that I could make something else for myself.

Over the last week I've had several sessions with the pattern search on Ravelry.  I narrowed the search as much as I possibly could, and ultimately came up with three or four options from my own library which I knew would work.  The big trick was in finding something that was simple...but that would look good and wouldn't be boring to knit.  The fact that I had worked with the yarn before, and knew both how it would knit up and how it would wear, was a huge influence on my decision.

The winner is Hannah Fettig's Gooseberry Cardigan, from Interweave Knit's Weekend 2009 Special Edition, pictured above.  (Bonus points to me for using a magazine I've been hanging on to for six years!)  It's a perfect, timeless cardigan to add to my wardrobe, with a little bit of waist shaping and top-down construction that will help me get a great fit.  At the same time, it's a shape that will be forgiving if my size continues to change!

My swatch is perfect, and so the fun begins!

*I don't know actually know "or else what."  I do know that my continuing health journey has left me in a position where any extra money I have has to be spent on actual clothes right now.  Seriously.  I cleaned out the closet last week.  There's not much left.