Yarn Cake

Honestly, I want some real cake instead. A chocolate one, with just a bit of icing (I’m not really into icing). I could have spend my day making a cake instead…. But yarn cakes will have to suffice today. Ah. Chalk it up to missed opportunities.

My kids are 15 minutes away, RV camping with my parents (who have been following guidelines!). Which means time to do all the stuff. Just kidding. It means get delivery from the Jamaican place (which was enough food for dinner yesterday AND today), eat dinner in front of the TV, listen to loud music with child-UNFRIENDLY lyrics, and watch Muppet Treasure Island. I didn’t get any knitting or crochet done today (yet). I wove in the ends of a pocket scarf, but need to actually sew on the pockets.

Instead, I wound 30 hanks of yarn into cakes. Yeah THIRTY. I think I worked on it for about 3 (or 4) hours total. 6000 yards (6600 m) of yarn, all ready to go. This is some of my deepest stash, I think I will be more inclined to grab it for upcoming projects.

I wound sweater quantities of 3 yarns: Shalamar Yarns Equus in Mephisto Waltz (a black blue) that I purchased at a Studio Open House back in 2017, Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed in color 925: a lilac/mauve tweed (discontinued) purchased sometime between 2009 and 2012, and Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (in discontinued color 03- gray) that I purchased in late 2019. Other fun treasures: an Alpaca spun and dyed on a farm we visited in 2016, Miss Babs Yowza in maybe Newsprint? (I think that was the name… I don’t have the ballbands) that I purchased from MD sheep and wool in 2013, Haute Boheme Fibers Mimi DK in Apo purchased at the Frederick Fiber Festival in 2018.

From bottom to top: Haute Boheme Fibers Mimi DK in Apo and Knot House Yarns La Di Da DK and Grey Gatsby. I’m thinking colorwork cowl.

Additionally I decided to finally re-ball from when I frogged the “Clap” (the Clapotis) I was making for my mom back in 2008. Yeah, 12 years this yarn has been languishing. It was a beast to ball! For SOME unknown reason I hanked the yarn from my frogged project held double. Really me of the past, not smart. I wound one by hand, and one on my skein winder then re-wound the ball into a cake for consistency. I have 3 total cakes now, my Ravelry project page says I had 4 skeins of South West Trading Company Bamboo in Red. I have 3… a mystery is afoot.

A mess.

I think I officially have every commercially spun yarn (that came hanked) wound into cakes! This leaves a dozen or so hand spun hanks for another day. Rejoice!

Contains: Some Assembly Required Sweaters and other coziness.

So balls? Cakes? Skeins? Interchangeable nomenclature? What do you call your center pull cylinders of fiber-y goodness?

Too Much Fun

Even during a pandemic, I am feeling TOO BUSY with “summer” stuff. The kids aren’t going to their friends houses 3-5 days a week; right now its zero play dates a week. We didn’t take a vacation. No summer camps. I’m not teaching classes at my local big box craft store. Spouse isn’t on a zillion and one work trips. What gives?!?!? Without all the usual stuff, I still feel like I can’t complete all the knit and crochet tasks I want to complete!!!

So many freckles…. and their crappy cousins, sunspots.

I guess trying to keep the kids occupied and not letting them watch 12 hours of TV a day, and keeping them imaginative, and active is time consuming. I think we have gone swimming more times this summer than any summer past. Our local Y has a summer camp location up in the mountains, 35 minutes away, that has limited swim reservation availability. I’m not sure if members have always been able to use this pool, or just this year because things are “weird”. There are 5 family spots available per reservation block. The reservation block is 1.75 hours ( just outside the reapply guidelines for most sunblocks). There is social distancing. Masks outside the pool. The lifeguards disinfect all the surfaces between sessions. We also nab the first reservation block of the day on weekends at noon: and we show up! Today we were the only ones there. To be fair, it was supposed to be rainy and not too hot today. The kids are getting way more confident in the water! And since they are non-swimmers still, I need to be in the pool with them AT ALL TIMES.

Three additional masks I made myself out of prints I’ve been hoarding for 6 years.

I’ve also tasked myself with making a BUNCH of cloth face masks. Seriously, my sewing machine hasn’t gotten this much work ever. Let me say, I’m so excited spouse splurged and purchased me a new machine this past Xmas.

More fiber related posts coming this week!

Unbirthday Productivity

Awesome hat. Awful lighting. Its pouring down rain currently.

The other day, I was telling you about my new design project, the Merry Unbirthday Hat! I’ve finished version 1.0 with my super amazing AT Haynes House Yarn‘s Haynesville Fingering in It’s Nobody’s Birthday. This yarn was pure joy and magic to work with. The colors are vibrant and the hand is so soft and PLUSH. Just because this colorway is gone doesn’t mean you should pass on Terri’s other amazing colorways, you WILL NOT be disappointed!

And since I loved my first version, I decided to jump RIGHT INTO a SECOND version with some random stash. Its not as soft as the first version- but not all stash is created equal. The thick rib texture gives it a really bouncy feel, its going to be warm without being weighty. I’m using Premier Yarns Serenity Sock Weight in Violas paired with the leftovers from my VERY FIRST pair of knit socks from 2003(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). This might be my oldest stash. I have long since lost the ball band, so I have no idea what yarn it is. I know its a wool/nylon blend and I purchased it at Rosie’s Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia during my last semester of undergrad. I remember the conversation I had with the woman at the shop regarding sock knitting, and her giving me an easy basic free pattern. Her advice about trusting the pattern in regards to turning the heel with short-rows was 100% SPOT ON.

Merry Unbirthday: Brooding birthday version 2.0

The dark combination is really cool! Giving the project a bit more “seriousness”. Some people like somber winter garments. For me personally, the more whimsical the better! I enjoy being a bright spot in the bleak grey days of winter. If I manage to make someone, anyone, smile with my crazy clown colored winter accessories, I’ve done my duty.

Dark and Light. Same hat two very different vibes.

Stay tuned for an August release! I’ll be putting out a testing call this weekend. If you are interested, please contact me (using the form at the bottom of the main page) for details by Tuesday August 4th 2020. Or find me on Ravelry, Instagram, or Facebook. Its your favorite fingering held double and a 4mm needle!

Magic Yarn

So much PRETTY POWER!

Have you ever purchased a yarn so beautiful and bright and squishy that you couldn’t wait to find the perfect project? Back in June, AT Haynes House Yarns had a limited edition colorway called It’s Nobody’s Birthday (in the Haynesville Fingering base: 100% Superwash Merino, 415 yards). It was so beautiful that I NEEDED to purchase it, so I did. Immediately I started thinking about what I wanted to create. Something that will be visible in wear. An interesting visual stitch pattern. Nothing too complicated to execute. And that will use virtually all of a full skein.

Inspiration told me a HAT would be the perfect canvas. But what stitch pattern. Not a cable. Too…. not what I wanted. Back in January, I crocheted a hat that used a puffy v-stitch. I love that hat. When I crocheted the Wintery Mix Slouch Hat, I wanted to try to do a knit version as well. This was my chance!! After some research, I found the wheat stitch. It isn’t EXACTLY the same, but the stitches are similar. Its a modified rib, so its WICKED stretchy!!

I cast-on the design project on July 27th. After 2 days, I’m getting ready to start the crown! I used my new favorite hat cast-on: the tubular cast-on with waste yarn. The first couple pattern repeats were pretty tricky. But by the 3rd time I needed to drop down and pull-up a yarn, it was really obvious.

I can’t wait to share this pattern with all of you! I know I frequently sing the praises of AT Haynes House Yarns- but for real, all the praise is worth it! I don’t get a kick back or anything, I just want to promote the heck out of a REALLY talented dyer!

Today’s Body Acceptance and Positivity

As a (middle aged) woman I’ve got a TON of body image baggage. So I wanted to share some positivity and acceptance wins from today. I love working out and being active and strong and all that stuff. I don’t have a body that screams gym rat, even though pre-COVID I was at the gym 2-6 days per week. But with the shutdown of gyms, I’ve had a really hard time staying motivated to keep up my training. My workout motivation is definitely of an external locus nature! Getting the kids involved is a crap shoot. They are slow hikers. They complain on normal walks. They don’t pedal their bikes fast enough for me to elevate my heart rate. And after a single one-mile run, they REFUSE to try again. My gym, the YMCA, is currently holding outdoor classes. I feel they are pretty low risk for disease transmission (so many safety precautions). I went back last week for the first time since March! It might be hot and SOOO soupy humid, but it still feels good to move with intense purpose. Spin and Body Combat for the win! I haven’t added in strength training, its too hot to lift.Summer is my least favorite season because of the heat and humidity. But I’ve logged 6 days of workouts in the last two weeks. Tomorrow is a rest, then back to it Friday. Saturday and Sunday the kids and I have pool reservations and then its more classes next week. I’m feeling mentally more myself- quick and feisty.

With all that said. I’ve got some thick thighs, they make me self-conscious, regardless of my overall size. But today I had a win moment with them: a single thigh stably held my tea with plenty of room to spare. Take that skinny legs, you can’t handle the tea. So today I embraced my large thigh circumference for practicality.

Pookie

The Owlbear Snuggle Beast

Pookie the Owlbear Snuggle Beast

Worlds Collide

Owlbear Inspo

I’m pretty new to actually playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). During my last D&D session, my adventuring party was given a slightly magical Owlbear Snuggle Beast by an NPC (non-player character). When the DM (Dungeon Master) put up a (picture of a) vinyl figurine of the Owlbear, I nearly hyperventilated from squeeing so hard. That was when I decided I NEEDED to translate this super cuteness to a crocheted amigurumi.

Owlbear Design Sketch

I started with a search for patterns that already existed. None of them were exactly what I wanted, I already had a vision in my head. There are a TON of cute sewing patterns, BTW. So I drew a sketch of what I wanted to make.

Use Resources Wisely

I frequently use inspiration from many sources. So while my design was inspired by a D&D session, the materials used were inspired by the Girl Scouts. “What?? That seems a little incongruent”, you say. One of the tenants of the “Girl Scout Law” is to use resources wisely. For this project, it means using materials on hand: stash yarn, using up scraps of yarn, AND using up scraps of fabric for stuffing.

Yeah. This lil gal is STUFFED FULL of fabric scraps. I’ve been making masks for our local Blessings in a Backpack. Which means TONS of fabric scraps. I have a habit of saving little squares and strips of fabric. For what, I don’t know. Maybe just to save the fabric from going directly to a landfill. I didn’t have enough from my recent mask making endeavors, but with my stashed scraps, I had JUST enough to stuff my amigurumi! Using fabric instead of fiber fill means two things: no worries about the fiberfill shedding out of the holes (because I used a G hook which is still pretty big for amigurumi) and its REALLY weighty. She weighs in at 1 pound 9.6 ounces. Practically a door stop!

Let’s backtrack to the yarn.

I used handspun Llama from Lone Oak Llamas (sorry, I can’t find a website to link). This yarn was gifted to me by my spouse for Xmas 3-5 years ago. Its from a Llama named Apache. I used almost all 4 oz, or about 200 yards for the body, feet, tail, and ears. Llama is not renowned for its soft hand, it is a bit rustic and scratchy. Even after a post crochet bath, its still not something you would want to cuddle up with. The wings are crocodile stitch with Mirasol Yarn’s Hacho. I have one skein of this I purchased 8 or 9 years ago. I still have most of the skein left. This yarn was nice to work with, its really PLUMP! This yarn seems to be discontinued; not matter am already planning on adding it into a hat in the near future. The face is a random dye on some random yarn by me from 2008/2009. I think its a sport weight. No idea regarding the base, since it took dye its obviously a wool/blend. Face features are out of scraps of previous projects. The eyes are from my Deep Winter Cowl and the beak is from my Faire Stripes Sweater.

Construction

I made 4 feet (with the back 2 larger than the front), a folded circle for the tail, 2 incomplete rounds for ears (only did 3/4 of the 3rd row), rounds for eyes, a folded shell for a beak, a face that started round and the final round with DC instead of SC at the top and some added triangles at the bottom, the body is somewhat turnip shaped, and crocodile stitch “wings”. Then I just attached all the pieces by eyeballing the placement. Its a bit wonky, but that just adds to the charm!

I have no intention on writing this into a pattern, I honestly don’t think there would be any interest. It was a fun and satisfying challenge: taking a project type I’m not overly familiar with (amigurumi) and creating a finished project that almost completely aligns with my vision, and finishing it in less than 2 weeks. My next game is this Tuesday, so I finished with time to spare, WINNING!!!

Pookie enjoying the morning sun.

Chasing Perfection

I belong to a few crafting groups on Facebook. I am consistently struck by two themes in these groups: 1.) Am I good enough/is my work good enough? and 2.) You need to fix that small error that no one will notice, not even you, once you finish up the whole thing. And circuitously both of these things are the same: How do I get my knitting/crochet/dying/spinning to look like a machine made it?

I want to scream: You can’t. No amount of “new techniques” or fancy finishing will alter the fact that a human being created an item. This means the occasional mis-stitch, a skipped row, a cable crossed the wrong way, uneven tension, a woven in end that isn’t quite hidden, color jogs, mis-matched dye lots, weird color pooling, and (GASP!!) edges that are properly executed but not PERFECTLY EVEN.

Call the Crochet Police! I didn’t put a border on this blanket and the edges aren’t PERFECT.

Its not just that people want their work to showcase the level of their talents; that’s amazing and striving to do the best you can makes you feel good. But when an experienced crafter picks apart a novice’s work? I cannot abide by that! The number of unpleasant and toxic people who comment on a beginner’s first swatch: You need to work on the tension, its not good enough. You need to fix those stitches before you can move on, as if an error in a learning piece is the reason to scrap the whole thing. As if nothing is WORSE than an error or imperfection. I invite my beginners to embrace the learning process, with all its imperfection. Creating a fabric with some yarn and a hook or needles is practically MAGIC! Why does it need to be perfect too?

More hand-knits that don’t look machine made.

(And here is where I get on my soapbox) If people are looking for something to criticize your work about: you don’t need their negativity in your life.

As a creator, I find myself internally agonizing over minute details. Not just in my individual projects, but in pattern formatting, pictures, my blog content, and in my teaching. Sure, I frequently talk about how its “OK to make a mistake, that no one will die” in knitting and crochet. Yet, I seem to approach my own work with that same fear of errors. I am human. I make errors in my creative endeavors, ALL THE TIME. I fix the easy fixes and leave the stuff that no one will notice.

There’s an error in the photo, and I’m 100% NOT fixing it.

I’m still trying to establish myself as a designer, so I do all my own tech editing. When its a formatting issue, I agonize over them and make myself miserable over them for weeks (I’m still embarrassed over some formatting I had to fix in a pattern a few months ago). No one brought it up, or commented that I am a rubbish pattern writer. Maybe no one noticed. It wasn’t the end of the world, even if I did feel embarrassed.

We are human. Chasing perfection in our creative endeavors can squash the desire to create. Projects on indefinite hiatus because we can’t easily fix an error or the thought of ripping back 1-100 rows fills us with dread. Maybe we should should embrace the nature of our handmade fabrics or mistakes we don’t immediately catch? A blanket with an “uneven” edge will keep us just as warm as a blanket that is meticulously edged. Asking stockinette or single crochet not to curl is like asking a tiger to change its stripes.

Bandwagon Crochet

No. I’m not making “the pocket shawl”.

IRL, I’m not a joiner. I don’t love large group activities (my local knitting people may remember how I dug in my heels about not attending “Stitch n Pitch”). I avoid (consciously or subconsciously) the Popular “thing” (current best selling books, fitness fads, fashion trends, pop music). Maybe its part of my nature to go against the grain. Or I think it’ll make me “edgy”, unique, or counterculture cool?

From Thursday

I digress, my bandwagon project. Now that everyone has moved onto the next big crochet pattern, I feel free to explore the Virus Shawl. Don’t laugh, I FINALLY decided to tackle this project. I’ve been going back and forth between the Virus Shawl or the Lost Souls Skull Shawl. I also recently purchased myself a cake of Scheepjes Whirl (60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic: 1000m) in Salted Caramel Matcha– a yarn that has been experiencing a moment. The yarn was the deciding factor on which pattern to make. I decided I wanted to make the Skull Shawl in some kind of obnoxious PINK shade, irony and all that.

I’m about 3/8 through.

Last week, I took the kids up to visit with my parents for a few days. They hadn’t seen each other since Mid-December (2019). It was time, we’ve all be practicing social distancing and taking the proper safety precautions. My dad has even embraced technology and started doing grocery pick-up! We had a nice visit for a few days, the kids rode bikes up and down the driveway, played with my old Barbie stuff (a couple pieces actually belonged to my mom when she was a kid), and even slept in the (new to them) 1995 RV my dad has been fixing up since spring.

This means I was able to make some headway on my shawl. The yarn caught my mom’s eye, and she really likes the “open” stitches. Which means she will be the recipient upon completion. She has an animal fiber sensitivity, so the cotton/acrylic blend is great for her. The chart is hand-drawn, so some of the rows need a bit of close inspection the first couple times through. Honestly, once you work the first 11 rows, you just work rows 8-11 until you are done. Super easy, but it LOOKS difficult. I’m using my Furls Odyssey Hook (H/8) The hook has a bit of heft, which is nice with such a light weight yarn.

So, if you are one of the 3 people who crochet (who hasn’t done this shawl), I highly recommend it. It is a minimum effort, maximum effect project. I may choose to do another one in the far future with a thicker yarn. Fingering weight yarn is not something I regularly crochet with, so I feel like I’m moving at a snail speed. I like the yarn itself and will use it again in the future (maybe a knit sweater)! I like that it has a twist to the ply, that makes it easier for me to work with. I made THIS out of a similar concept yarn, Lion Brand Wrap Star (which I think is discontinued), the untwisted ply was a bit annoying and splitty.

Deadlines and Rambling

Arbitrary deadlines to stress about to be exact. I’m participating in a Ravelry based challenge in one of the Stash Down groups. It runs from May 1st to July 15th. I initially had 5 projects. PlumBody to Love (still procrastinating on pictures and wrapping up pattern writing), Faire Stripes Sweater (also procrastinating on pattern grading, pictures, testing, writing), Wide Garter Stripe Shawl (actually finished), the Afestos Shawl (from the lost knits file), and my Say Yes to Pie Socks (smaller size). I also added 6 additional projects. 2 adult sized crochet blankets and 4 hats. July 15th is coming up SOOOOOON (like 2 days). And my old WIP is still not QUITE done (it’ll be its own post). There are no consequences for not finishing my projects. No one is going to flagellate me or take away my maker license. There are LITERALLY NO CONSEQUENCES for bailing or failing. Conversely, there are no prizes or awards for succeeding either.

Stalled.

When I started my socks on July 4th, I was feeling REALLY confident about my timeline. I finished that first sock in a couple days, I immediately cast-on that 2nd sock, worked through to halfway through the ribbing (of a toe-up sock) and got distracted. Seriously. I had less than an hour of ribbing and the heels to do (3 total hours of work). And then, I got distracted. Of course I did. Because finishing isn’t my strong suit. It isn’t just fiber arts. My spouse gets on me about my procrastination ALL THE TIME. The errands, folding the laundry, my assignments when I was in grad school. It NEVER takes as long to do or be as obnoxiously complicated as I have in my mind.

I got side tracked by a post July 15th project. A crochet granny square blanket/afghan. I usually do a boring basic granny square. But this time: I have other ideas. I’m reinventing the wheel friends. Or rather I’m starting out with a wheel and finding the best way to square it… because I don’t know if I want to seam octagons.

I’ve scrapped this outside edge and have a second circle with the lavender center.

But I Digress!

Two feet. Two socks. CORRECT SIZE!!!!

My socks. They did get finished on the 11th. My kitchner on this pair is ON POINT too. This coming weekend, I’m going to try and get my spouse to model the larger size sock for me. I tried months ago, and he wasn’t feeling it. Having a too big sock on my foot isn’t that attractive. If all else fails, I can a.) put on a hiking sock as a base layer and put the big sock over top or b.) fashion some sock blockers to model them (which I should do anyway). With the limited amount of work left to do on the pattern (continuity and flow editing, pictures) I am looking at a release by July 25th! Stay tuned for that official announcement.

Now, I’m off to watch Warrior Nun on Netflix (I love watching borderline cheesy shows) and make some progress on my (slightly modified) Afestos Shawl.

Knitty Pile! Knit until I’m out of yarn or there are only a few stitches left. Whichever comes first.

No Raygrats

OK, maybe one regret.

I stayed up WAYYYYY too late last night. I HAD TO FINISH my giant Randclaw Blanket. I was so close, that I just wanted to have it done. Yeah, I wove in the ends and sewed them down to secure them. Me from last night had no respect for me of this morning. See our kids are completely incapable of “sleeping in”. I’m not talking about a 10 am wake up, no. My kids are completely INCAPABLE (seemingly) of sleeping until 7 am- ANY DAY OF THE WEEK (and the later they stay up the earlier they wake up). I’m tired today. Not exhausted, but impatient and easily annoyed.

Batman and LOL doll for scale.

There are too many toys on the living room floor for me to spread out this monstrously huge blanket to measure it properly. Its so fluffy that it doesn’t fold neatly. When I hung if over the banister in the world’s tiniest “foyer”, it cascaded down the handrail. It weighs about 5.5 pounds (2-ishKG). My best guess, using myself as the measuring tool, that its 67″ by 63″ (not having done the conversion I’m guessing its 1.8 x 1.7 m give or take .25 m).

The Blanket

This blanket is a variation of my Randclaw Blanket, a rather giant version of it. I chained 100 stitches, then followed the pattern from there. I used 7 total balls (1540 yards) of Bernat Blanket Yarn. 5 of the Baby Blanket Stripes in Mulberry Bush (discontinued) and 2 in Vintage White. I brought out my trusty P/10mm Furls Streamline Hook for the job.

Furls Crochet Hook Virgo Streamline Swirl Hook in P/10mm

This stitch made a super dense, highly textured, snuggly warm blanket. It would look equally great in a solid, short repeat varigated, or striped yarn. You could substitute the Bernat Blanket for Lion Brand I Wanna Make a Blankie, you would need to purchase 4 balls. A “t-shirt” tape yarn of the same weight and equal yardage could also look good, but it will be REALLY heavy!

How to Modify for Different Dimensions

The chain can be any even number. Easy, right?? Now you know the secret to modifying the Randclaw Blanket.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate marketing liks. I make a small commission for purchases made from links contained herein at no cost to you.

Shabby, Not Chic

My shabby looking chair.

The year was 1999. I was a college freshman. It was Fall. I needed a chair. I went to Ikea, picked out an inexpensive chair and a coordinating cover. The cover was a pale pea green. It moved from apartment to apartment. My first, second, third. A brief move back in with my parents. My next apartment. Then out of state, to two more apartments. I dyed the cover Purple in my bathtub. I was afraid to use dye in my apartment’s tiny stacked washing machine- it was strictly prohibited in my lease (to use dye in the machine). 7 years ago it made a move into our current home. It has been in my office (RIP). The (finished) basement. My bedroom. In 2015 we purchased a new undyed cover and proceeded to dye it orange. It matched my daughter’s room perfectly. Once she moved from a toddler bed to a twin a few years later, the chair moved into the living room. Where it has become my favorite spot to sit. Its still comfortable, after 20 years of heavy use. The legs are a touch wobbly, but as long as you don’t plop or scoot the chair, you would never suspect.

Just knitting a sock and drinking some tea- Like I do.

Lately I’ve been thinking about replacing it. I’m not sure how many years it still has in it. There is a part of me that wants to just run it into the ground. How many years will that take? 3? 5? 17 additional years? Just HOW LONG can I use this chair? Before it gives out. Honestly, I throw a leg over the side. I can sit cross-legged (criss-cross-applesauce-style). BUUUUT, its looking a bit frumpy these days. I’ve been eyeing $2000 leather armchairs from West Elm and Joybird. But I just can’t bring myself to make that purchase. Like somehow I’m not adult enough to own an expensive piece of furniture. I abuse this chair, could I let myself sit comfortably with a cup of tea in a chair that’s 10x the cost?? I’ve also thought about replacing it with the same chair from Ikea, but new. I will be disappointed if I don’t get AT LEAST 20 years from my next chair, regardless of how much I pay for it!

Fiber Related Content:

I’m “approaching” the heel placement row of my “Say Yes to Pie” socks in 24 +/- rows ! I can’t wait to get this pattern released! Its so much easier to write a sock pattern than a sweater pattern- much less grading involved! My contrast color has enough remaining to become at least one additional pair of socks! Talk about getting great mileage from a couple of skeins of sock yarn!

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