Beginnings and Endings

When I last posted (which I thought was longer ago than it’s been), I had hinted about a new job and even some knitting-related work. Well, all of that has come to fruition. Two weeks ago I left my full-time job of 17 years, and this week I started a new job where I will be working from home, selling advertising and marketing solutions to suppliers in the library industry. I’m really hoping that this will give me more time to relax and fit in my knitting and other crafty pursuits while remaining engaged in meaningful work. Will let you all know how it goes!

I had secured a once-weekly job at a LYS, but that is now on hold for a few months. I hope it does happen, as this is something I’ve always wanted to do. In the meantime, I’ve been doing quite a bit of contract knitting throughout the summer. It’s fun and provides a very small extra income, but I want to make sure it doesn’t overtake my time and preference to knit for myself, my family, and my Etsy customers. So that will be another variable to watch this fall.

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After finishing the contract knitting, I went back to the Braided Gem Socks for my son. Finished last night, and they are beautiful. I love the pattern and the yarn, and I think they will keep him very warm when the cold Michigan winter inevitably arrives.

As soon as I bound off, I wound my next ball of sock yarn–a Socks That Rock Lightweight skein from the 2008 Rockin’ Sock Club! After this one, I have one skein to go from that club. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get through it–I guess I’ve had other sock yarn skeins sneak in between. I’m going to make Cookie A’s Monkeys with this skein–I wasn’t wild about the pattern that came with the yarn (a reason, along with my inability to keep up with the shipments, that I stopped renewing membership to this club), so I will do the Monkeys, a pattern I’ve been wanting to make for years.

To wind this yarn, I used my new and improved Royal Ball Winder. I think I had had my old one for 30 years and it was just “tired.” This new one works like a dream and the skein wound up in no time. A nice little treat for myself.

With college football and the NFL this weekend, I’ll have lots of knitting time and can make a dent in my current projects before my next round of contract knitting kicks in.

Hope to be more frequent with the blog posts now that I have all of this free time….hahahaha!

 

 

Latest Shawl: My Hope Brightens Rough Times

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Just finished the very fun-to-knit My Hope shawl, designed by KnitGirlll Laura Linneman. I sued some beautiful Schaeffer Anne yarn that I won several years ago (and sadly, is discontinued). I love the color combination–reds/pinks, coral, gold and bronzy brown. A group I wouldn’t necessarily have put together but really liked.I just bought a summer dress in that coral color and this will look great with it.

For the beaded bind-off, I used beautiful beads bought at EarthFaire–just enough color and glitz and the gold beads with coral insides look like they were made for the yarn. Also bought the Beadle Needle which made the beading fun and easy! Highly recommend!

I enjoyed the knitting of this project very much, once I got the hang of the Indian Cross Stitch–used Knit and Tonic’s video tutorial and her way of doing it rather than the way it was written in the pattern–much easier.
I also switched from Signature Needles to KnitPicks Nickel Plated–the join on the fancy Signatures was acting as a stopper that made it hard for me to move the yarn along during the cross-stitch sections. Worked much better after the switch to the inexpensive, but almost always reliable for me, KnitPicks.

IMG_1609The colors of the yarn and the rhythmic nature of the project have soothed me through a few tough weeks; work continues to be a challenge–but I may see the end in sight in the form of a new chapter on the career front. Hopefully by the time I post again after finishing my next project (either socks for my son or a tank top for my daughter), I’ll have good news to report. I even plan on having my new career path include knitting.

Transitions

As winter has FINALLY turned to spring, my husband and I have just returned from a fantastic trip to Spain, where we enjoyed some time with our daughter who is studying in Seville this semester, and spent some time alone in Madrid at the end of the trip. Spain did not disappoint on this, our third trip to the country. The food continues to get better, the people are warm and friendly, and the breadth of history never ceases to amaze.

My daughter couldn’t wait to point out a yarn shop she’s seen in her neighborhood–but alas, when we walked by, it was siesta time

and the shop was closed. I probably saved ImageImagemyself some money–but was somewhat surprised when it dawned on me that I hadn’t researched yarn shops in Spain before we left–something I usually do before any trip! I think I was too caught up in figuring out which projects I’d take with me!

I finished two projects on the trip–another striped cowl to replace the one I sold in my Etsy shop just prior to our leaving, and a pair of socks, the Sweet Tart Anklets (I made mine longer than anklets) that I’ve been working on as a secondary (or tertiary) project for a year! They are very springy and they may go to my daughter when she gets home.Image They were made from sock stash–a while different category–from a years-ago Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock club. ALMOST done with those skeins!

 

 

I also worked on the Riding to Avalon hoodie that I had started as part of my project to use my oldest stash and work forward. The yarn was Ella Rae Silkience in a beautiful pink shade–I had bought it in 2008! Needless to say, the design I was going to make with it doesn’t interest me anymore, and nothing–including the hoodie that I worked on throughout two excellent movies on the plane ride home–worked. The hoodie ended up being too big, and I was making the smallest size and using the smallest needles possible without making the fabric stiff. So I decided to sell the yarn. That was a very liberating feeling–sometimes a purchase just isn’t meant to be, and if the yarn goes to a good home, all the better! 

Today I started fresh by winding the NEXT item in my stash–that is a skein of Schaefer Anne (also discontinued), that I believe I won around 2008-2009. It’s a beautiful melange of earthy colors–bronze, gold, and a pinky coral. I’m going to cast on the My Hope shawl, by Laura Linneman, and have ordered beautiful gold/pink beads from my favorite bead purveyor, Earthfaire, for the beaded bind-off.

I’m looking forward to casting this on with the new Signature needles I ordered to reward myself for winning my office’s March Madness pool!

In the meantime, I’m working on the project I left home, the Wrap Me up, Buttercup! shawl from Dancing Leaf Farms. The goal of sneaking this project in is to finish something that I bought at last year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool before this year’s event comes around. I would like to go again with my sisters, but I may have a conflict with my kids’ comings and goings around that time. We’ll see. The shawl is a ton of fun–six individual yarns alternate to make a great-looking pattern–this will be a show-stopper once it’s done. Easy stitches and no shaping (it’s a big rectangle), so good mindless TV knitting.

 

I Love My Poncho!

I bought the yarn for the Easy Folded Poncho back in November, but several projects for kids, my Etsy shop, etc. got ahead of this in line. Since it’s a warm garment made from luscious 100% Alpaca from Juniper Moon Farms, AND it has a generous cowl neck, I wanted to finish it while the weather was still cold so I could appreciate its warmth. Well, Mother Nature has cooperated and it’s still below freezing here in NJ. I finished the poncho, including knitting and blocking the cowl, earlier this week, and am now ready to wear it into NYC for dinner and a show tonight!

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Since this project included 50 inches of stockinette, I thought I’d use it as an opportunity to try a bunch of different needles. Here is a quick synopsis of my thoughts on each (all were size 6 and none seemed to change the gauge of my work):

  • Signature Needles–I ordered the 5″ stiletto tips. These were my absolute favorite (and the most expensive!). I love them so much that I ordered another pair in size 7 and hope to start collecting them in different sizes. These are truly the Rolls Royce of knitting needles!
  • HiyaHiya Sharps–Love these as well. Nice, sharp tips, very light and flexible cord that would be amazing for Magic Looping. As these are at a much better price point than the Signatures, I may think about getting a full set.
  • KnitPicks Caspians–I have three KnitPicks Interchangeable sets already, but I fell in love with these green wood tips and green cord when I saw them online. The tips are sharp and work as well if not better than my other KnitPicks needles. Again, I might ponder a full set, just because!
  • Knitter’s Pride Karbonz–While these are great needles–perhaps a lower-priced version of Signatures–they didn’t seem worth the price for me vs. any of the others I tried. I will try them on another project and see if I change my mind and want to add these to my collection in greater quantity. The one plus of these over Signatures is that the cords work for any Knitter’s Pride needles, as well as for KnitPicks needles, so you get a very nice, high quality needle without having to invest in separate cords like you do with the Signatures.

Finally, I ordered one set of DyakCraft Darn Pretty wood needles, but alas, after several weeks, they still have not arrived. If I like them when they eventually get here, I think my best bet is to buy a set from someone on Ravelry, rather than wait the year for my own set. But then again, I have so many needles that I COULD wait….will decide when my sample arrives–hopefully within the next few weeks.

Now that I’ve worn the poncho, I’m ready for spring!

The Boyfriend Scarf

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I know there is that superstition that a girl shouldn’t knit a sweater for her boyfriend before they’re officially a couple, but I don’t think it applies to 1)the girl’s mother knitting for the boyfriend and 2) a scarf rather than a sweater! At least I hope not, because I just finished a gorgeous scarf for my daughter’s boyfriend, which I will add to a package of gifts she left for me to send to him while she is studying abroad in Europe this semester.

I am so happy with this scarf. The pattern is Christian’s Scarf by Agnes Kutas-Keresztes. There is a matching hat pattern on Ravelry also (both are free!). This was a wonderful, rhythmic pattern that was fun, easy and looks fantastic–no curling, just the right amount of texture. The Cascade 220 Superwash that I used was the perfect yarn–softened up with soaking (and a little spin through the dryer after blocking), very durable and just the right weight. My daughter chose the very rich, not quite black shade called Jet. I definitely want to make this scarf again. Can’t wait to see how the boyfriend likes it–I will mail it in a few weeks.

Another very successful part of this project was the use of the Inspinity Premium Blocking wires. I bought these a few years ago and they are fantastic. The set comes with a number of different lengths; they are very flexible (almost like threading a needle in and out of the rows and produce a beautiful result. I highly recommend them!

Hand Knits Are a Bright Spot in a Cold Winter

It’s been unusually cold here in NJ as well as throughout the US, as I don’t have to tell most of you. I was struck the other night, when I mustered all  of my motivation to walk out the door in sub-10-degree-weather and a foot of snow and drive to my book group meeting. When I walked in, our hostess asked me to take my boots off at the door, and when I walked into the meeting, where some of my fellow readers are also knitters, I was greeted with admiration about the number of hand-knits I wore and carried:

  • a hand-knit, mohair sweater (knit pre-Ravelry, so no photos or links!)
  • hand-knit socks
  • a hand-knit cowl and matching mitts from one of my favorite cold-weather yarns, Misti Alpaca Chunky
  • and I carried a hand-knit, felted bag, which contained my current WIP, a beautiful men’s scarf for my daughter’s boyfriend

It struck me that, although I hate the cold, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to wear so many of my knits at once and to know that they are the best antidote to being cold. My husband and daughter have been wearing their hand-knit socks every day during this cold spell, and my son, braving his first winter at college in Michigan, is grateful for the bulky scarf and hat I made him.

I even made a sale of a warm, bulky hat in my Etsy shop! This makes me want to drop everything and knit 24/7 (so does the fact that I don’t want to go outside!) This makes me even more determined to do something to make knitting more of a part of my life–and find a work solution that will allow me to devote more time to this craft that I love so much. I hope 2014 will be the year that I finally make it happen.

Stay warm, everyone!

Happy 2014!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted–I’ve been enjoying time with my children who are home from college, and have been putting regularly scheduled knitting projects on hold to make them some warm slippers to take back to school. Their friends are next. I really take a lot of pleasure in knitting for my kids and their friends–they appreciate the items and I feel like I’m enveloping them in love and warmth.

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In perusing my Ravelry projects page, it looks like I completed 16 projects in 2013–including an afghan for my son to take to college, several scarves and cowls, and a sweater for my daughter. I also knit several projects that were sold in my Etsy shop, although I would have liked the number of projects sold to be higher than it was.

For 2014, I am committed to taking some Craftsy classes and hopefully the Craft Yarn Council Certified Instructors program so I can begin to realize my goal of incorporating knitting into my next career stage. I had hoped to take the leap in 2013, and to devote more time to preparing over the holidays, but it just hasn’t happened yet. I’m not giving up–I’ll use this forum to keep me on goal and I’m committed to reporting to you, my readers, about my progress. Help me stay motivated to realize my dream if you can!

Wishing a Happy, Healthy, productive and peaceful new year to all.

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