Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trying New Things

It's Sunday and I didn't write anything all week, so it must be time to say hello to whoever is out there reading. Not a great deal of knitting happened this week, thanks to having a lot of other stuff to do--and that is a good thing, of course! Much of my time has been spent doing things with my spiritual community, where we are looking for ways to connect outside of weekly services. So far, so good!

One of the things I have tried is a new group that meets at my church on Saturdays to create things for Project Linus. I haven't done any of that before, since I always have so many other projects to do, but since I am still feeling bad about offending people at the yarn shop and really missing the folks there, I can turn that energy into something positive. Seems to be a thing to do!

So, I went to the meeting and discovered that other than me, everyone else is a quilter. Oops. Yes, I certainly have made quilts (and have one unfinished waiting for me to find a place to put the sewing machine), but while I love choosing patterns and colors, I don't particularly love sewing. I stuck around, since I do like talking about quilts, and they invited me to stay. One woman said she'd bring knitting next time, since she envied the fact that I knitted during the meeting, and the others all said they'd like knitting workshops every so often. One or two even wanted to learn to knit. Hey, I like to teach knitting! So, maybe a new door is opening.

I started a project for a toddler size blanket. I found a few errant skeins of Red Heart worsted (100% non-natural fiber!) that I hadn't given away yet and figured I could make a mitered square blanket. Here are the first three squares:

I figure I will make a square a day, then work on my other stuff, until this is done. The yarn does feel a bit plastic-like, but it is not as horrible as my exaggerated memories make it. I even went and got a few more colors, since I need to make it 6 x 8 squares to approximate the right size. I'll keep using this yarn until it runs out, but think I will switch to good ole Vanna's Choice or one of the Caron acrylics that are a bit more supple in the future. Ah well, this will certainly be a sturdy, washable blanket and make a child happy.

The Litla Dimun shawl has made progress and is a lot bigger--it's just slow going. I love how it is constructed, though. I will wait until next week to share another photo of it, though. I am oddly enjoying the feel of the rough yarn.

I hope you are enjoying your winter knitting. Feel free to share any of your favorite charity knitting patterns. I have enough simple things memorized that I can do quite a few (ripple, granny square, etc.) but ideas are welcome.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Nice Border on Litla Dimun

It has been a bit of a roller coaster this week, with lots of good possibilities for future knitting fun, but not a lot of job action...who knows what is going on with potential employers who say they are sending email but aren't...or keep canceling phone calls. But, I am in no hurry, since I still like what I am doing and my fun and funky coworkers.

One thing that has kept me centered is that the Litla Dimun shawl has been going fine. I did make a couple of boo-boos, but this yarn is a little easier to un-knit than the previous stuff I was working with. The Shetland wool is really "sticky" and hard to unravel, which also means that the stitches that are off the needles don't go anywhere. I could just pull out the yarn and stick the parts that were still correct back on. They did not unravel further! So, here's to burly, rustic Shetland wool!

And here it is:

I am through the lace border around the shawl's bottom. From now on, there is lace just going up the back "gusset" area, with the rest of it garter stitch. There is some subtle decreasing going on that looks like it will nicely shape the shoulder area and make it stay on really well. What a nice, simple pattern.

I am happy that there are a lot fewer stitches on the needle now. The shawl should move along quite smartly from now on. And I will also get back to working on the two lovely pairs of socks I have going (speaking of socks, I was looking for something else and found a pair I only knitted one of, so old it isn't even in Ravelry--guess I better finish them!). It's just that, for some reason, that warm, "sheepy" yarn really comforts me.

Thanks to all who posted supportive comments, and I wish you all good knitting, friendship and fun!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Dance on Someone Else's Account

I found out today that the project I test knitted for my friend out of the Knitivity sock yarn in the Koi colorway will be in Knitty! Of course I can't share any more details, but I could not be more happy for my friend. I had fun technical editing the pattern--always nice to work on something on a topic I actually LIKE. I think you will enjoy the pattern as much as I did, so keep an eye out for it, though I am sure I will be providing a link as soon as I can!

More good news, I got two calls about jobs today. None long lasting, but I'd at least know when they begin and end. I think I could probably also keep doing some stuff for the folks I now work for (whom I like very much)--hope so--that job is independent contracting, so it could happen.

I am through the first section of the lace border on the Litla Dimun shawl, and I hope I can get more done this evening--been having lots of meetings in the evenings this week, and it won't let up soon. Most are meetings where knitting can be done, which is great! Plus, I have the advantage of working on a project that has shorter and shorter rows rather than longer and longer ones. Ahh.

PS: My coworker and I were looking at very sad images of Haiti before and after the earthquake. The docks were especially difficult to look at--they were there one day, not there the next. That can't make delivering aid easier. I hope all of us around the world can put aside our differences and help the innocent families in whatever ways we can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Free to Blog (little knitting content)

In a small amount of knitting news, I had a nice "knit and chat" with my friend Deana on Monday night, and got through all the plain knitting parts on my new, so-far intact Litla Dimun shawl. I have gotten through six rows of the lace border and it looks quite nice--a bit airy but should be warm and rustic looking. The yarn is so rough it actually CUT me, though, so I will be sure to wash it well!

I look forward to some good knitting times with my friends soon, and will tell you about it all when it comes. I hope to start going to the Saturday spinning days at Yarnorama, too, if they will let "just a knitter" participate! I have plans! A life!

And hey, thank you to those of you who wrote such kind comments on my last post, including the Facebook readers. The kind to unkind comment ratio was heartwarming, and I appreciate all the acceptance and understanding--I want to extend that to all of you AND to anyone else as well. We all have bad days and over-react sometimes, not just me! Like one of my friends said on Facebook, having gone through some rough patches with friends can make friendships stronger!

See, here I am looking happy in something I knitted. Thanks.

About Blogging

I was reading an old friend's knitting blog this morning, and it really hit home. Here's the post, if you'd like to check it out. She talks about blogging with boldness. In her blog, she quotes another blogger thus:
Instead of being hung up excessively on what others are going to think of me when I blog this, say that, do whatever, I can finally stand firm, not giving a rip if my well intentioned words are still twisted by someone with nothing better to do.
(Note that this blogger's perspective is much different from mine in many ways, but she makes a good point here.)

Even though this is my knitting blog, and not my political, religious or advocacy blog, I have still been very timid about saying what I think about things sometimes. I just want everyone to like me and everyone to get along, I guess. After all, peace IS one of my favorite non-knitting topics.

Still, I think I am doing my own self a disservice by not mentioning things like being hurt by unkind comments from people, or upset with bad service in a shop, or disappointed in a pattern...whatever. I am going to try from now on to be a little more forthcoming (no, not going out on the attack--just not omitting anything potentially controversial--after all, people still love the Yarn Harlot and she says things I think but would never say!)

What Made Me So Wimpy in Blogging in the First Place?

(No, I will not go into what made me so wimpy as an individual--lack of time and space there!) When I had been blogging a couple of years, in the personal blog that preceded this one and still exists for those who ask its address, I got a reader who had an agenda and began reading all kinds of hidden meanings, innuendos and messages in posts that I had never intended, or even thought possible. I went back in and addressed all these things, and today I don't think I'd do it. I think you can misinterpret almost anything if you try!

There are always people who are irritated with you in some way and looking for ways to interpret things you say negatively. You can't stop being yourself, saying what you think, or sharing your stories just because one or two people might not like it. Sure, you don't slander people or blatantly lie. But, you can share your perspective and do your best to treat others as you would like to be treated--and apologize if you screw up. Perhaps I go overboard apologizing (as in my last post), but I am not going to stop sharing with readers, either. That's my perspective.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crushed Blossoms

(Skip this blog post if you don't want to read about someone sad about how things have turned out and beating herself up for her flaws. I won't mind if you do.)

Yesterday may well go down as one of the worst days of my knitting life. For so many reasons, but primarily for this. I was at the LYS, and after chatting, having some banana bread and such, I reached into my knitting bag to pick up the Rosebud Shawl. I was pretty happy to have finished the center panel of rosebuds and got a start on the borders, with correctly placed markers to get the corners right. Then, I saw what you see below.

I don't know what did this. I have a couple of guesses--one marker was not a smooth, wonderful Entrelac marker, but was one with a dangle on it. The yarn had gotten caught in that, but when I removed the one strand in there, it seemed to be fine. This hole has at least three strands of broken yarn in it, more like something cut it. No clue what could have done it. One idea put forward was moths, but if that were the case, I would have seen it sooner--there was no hole the day before.

I was surprised and dismayed at how sad it made me to see that irreparable hole in the shawl. It flashed through my mind how many mistakes I had fixed in it, how hard it had been to unravel those rows and get the lace back on the needles, how carefully I'd had to re-attach the two dropped stitches that I had found. Through all those trials, I still was able to use my skills to keep the project going. But, there is nothing I can do to fix the hole, which was in the FIRST repeat of the lace pattern.

Worse is that I reacted really poorly when it was suggested that it was just knitting, nothing really important. My gut reaction was that, yes, it WAS something important to me. I now realize that I was so upset because knitting was pretty much the ONLY part of my life where I felt like I had a bit of a handle on things--that I was competent enough to control and have some mastery over.

As you may know, I have had to deal with a series of employment situations where no matter how good I worked, I had to leave and find something else. I'd really not expected the most recent one--no matter how well I have been doing or how much my coworkers like me, circumstances beyond my control reach out and bop me on the head. This has now happened 4 times since 2006. It's been the same with relationships--I'd trusted that my ex would take care of our family so that I could take the risk of being an at-home parent, and tried so hard to be a good wife and mother, even taking up my husband's hobbies and losing a bunch of weight. But still, I could not be someone else, and I was left to try to figure out another future. I had tried really hard to set up a safe environment in the job I had for over a decade, but again, I could not control things and protect myself and others, leaving me to try to figure out a new career in mid life.

These are the kind of thoughts that have been going on in my mind the past few months. That I am sort of adrift with no plan and no security and nothing I can do to help it. I am so glad I at least have my husband, who has employment and still does care about me--but I worry something could happen to him. Great. None of this has a thing to do with knitting, but when I lost control of that, all the sadness about all the other things welled up inside me. I really got upset, handled the huge rush of sadness very poorly, and now I figure I'll never be welcome at the yarn shop again.

I hadn't cried in months other than a bit when my son went off to college. I'd been trying very hard to remain optimistic and up-beat when I could, and neutral otherwise. Some folks can be sarcastic, snarky and pick at people for their flaws and others just chalk it up to "that's the way she/he is." I know that has never worked with me--any time I have let negative stuff slip out of me, I have paid for it and paid for it hard. This is no exception. I got all my pent-up stuff out of me yesterday!

I need to surround myself with people who can listen and understand that once in a great while I might get upset, who can accept apologies that are sincere, and who can try to understand when something really is important to me. So, I'll be moving on. I really AM sorry I over-reacted and upset people. No one wants to publicly embarrass themselves and upset others, or to lose any chance of friendship with people they like a lot. For me, it just confirms my already not-so-hot self image, to top it all off. But, it's not about me, really. I just don't want to make other people feel bad, so I am not happy with myself at all.

The reason I am sharing this stuff is that I want to once again apologize for not living up to my own standards, and to ask any local folks who read this and want to stay in touch to please be my Facebook or Ravelry friend and remain in contact. I'd love to do stuff with any of you who want to remain my friend!

And now, back to knitting, which helps keep me centered, and will always be my friend, even though unforeseen circumstances can cause knitting heartache!

Move on Breathe, and Regroup

Because of not being able to work on the project I'd thought I'd spend the weekend on, I did manage to finish one repeat of the Flaming Desire socks. This is a GREAT pattern, as far as I am concerned. It is hard enough to keep my interest, but easy enough to not need a huge amount of concentration. I think it will look more like flames once I have completed the second repeat. I still like the Pagewood Farm Chugiak yarn and will enjoy knitting up the other skeins I have. I am not a fanatic about it, but I like the stitch definition and the variety of semi-solid colorways.

After that rather overwhelmingly unpleasant experience with trying to re-start a hibernating project, I decided that I would not get back to work on the Maelstrom shawl, but instead start something comforting and more easy. You may remember that a few months ago I bought some naturally gray two-ply laceweight yarn from American Shetland sheep. I had thought of making a Faroese-style shawl from it, so I looked through my resources and picked the Litla Dimun (Ravelry link) shawl from the Folk Shawls book by Cheryl Oberle. This shawl starts out from the long edge and grows smaller. Thus, what you see is a bit of the long edge. So far, it is just garter stitch and some decreases. After 12 ridges, a lovely lace border begins. It feels good to work with the yarn, which is called Natural Shetland Rustic Lace. It is indeed rustic, crunchy, even. This is, of course, what you expect from Shetland yarn.

Depending on how big this shawl turns out to be, I might just add a border to the edge. It is a bit small when made to gauge, which I think is what I am doing. With size 4 needles I am getting about 4 stitches per inch.

I may not post much for a while--I am feeling pretty vulnerable, sad, and like maybe I am not really a part of the knitting community. I will continue to read other people's blogs and such. I enjoy hearing how others are doing too much to not read! Thankfully, my work does start again tomorrow, so that huge amount of stress and worry will lift.

Happy knitting and remember the Golden Rule.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rosebud Re-Blossoms

I know, the suspense was killing you, except for maybe Susan, who I told yesterday at the yarn shop. Anyway, the project I am resurrecting is the Rosebud Shawl from Heirloom Knitting. I apparently started this project in June 2007. I took the photo below in October, so I think I was going slowly even back then:

The photo shows the center panel of the shawl and the yarn I am using, which is Makalu Yarns Fine Wool Cashmere, a very close cousin of the Jade Sapphire wool/cashmere laceweight yarn. It is soft and thin. And bouncy. Really feels good, and looks like it will stretch out a LOT when blocked. This is definitely one of those lace projects that will look pretty yucky until it is blocked!

So, why has this project been sitting in a bag since October 2007? Why do good projects go dormant? For me there is usually a good reason, and for this project there were multiples. First, I got engaged and all excited about knitting a shawl for my upcoming wedding. That makes sense. Second, I was using one of the original Addi Turbo Lace needles to do the project. It was a bit too sticky for the yarn and everything kept bunching up. But worse, the brass needle smelled AWFUL. Whenever I worked on the project, I kept smelling this bad metallic smell, and after I worked on it, my hands continued to smell funky even after I washed them. And third, the yarn is so squishy that I had issues doing some of the stitches, including, oddly enough, K2tog.

So, I decided to make a few changes when I re-started, and that included immediately switching to my KnitPicks Illusion needles for the knitting. That has taken care of the smell and the flow of the knitting. And I figured out that if I tug on the stitches, the K2togs go more smoothly. So, that's better, at least.

But wow, it can be a pain in the brain to re-start an old project. I had quite a few frustrations getting re-acquainted with the pattern. First, I started knitting away, only to realize that I was knitting 4 border stitches that weren't really there. I was knitting squares that were just part of the border of the illustration, but not in the pattern. That made me have to rip out 4 rows that included slip 1, K2tog, PSSO. Those are a real bear to undo. Then the yarn itself got tangled, due to the outer end crawling in and twining up with the inner part of the skein. The way this yarn sticks to itself, well, it got all sticky, so I spent a bit of time straightening all THAT out. Sigh.

Yesterday, due to not having any WORK to do, I was at the yarn shop "helping" the owner deal with a virus (it's in quotes because I did not actually fix it)and knitting away with the correct pattern and my happy new needles, when I stretched it out to look at how nice it will be blocked. There, many rows down was a free stitch, waving at me. This happens to me nearly every time I un-do rows of lace with double decreases--I tend to miss one putting them back on. And I don't notice, because my stitch counts are right. I quickly did some weaving and fixing and it looked OK. Then, oh no! I saw ANOTHER one! So, there is an area of the shawl with some extra yarn in it. I tried to duplicate stitch to make sure plenty of yarn is in there holding those stitches where they should be. At least the stickiness of the yarn will help in this case--once I block it, I am betting it will glue together forever and not come loose again. Of course, I spent quite a bit of time checking for additional little darlings sticking up, all unattached. I remember the same thing happened on the Aeolian after I had to take out a bunch of rows. Grr.

I must remember to check carefully after I do the last row to be sure everything is where it should be! Un-knitting in laceweight is not my best skill, apparently. So, I am trying very hard to not mess up any more. I have just 3 more repeats and the center square will be finished. I look forward to the next section, which is a gorgeous lace border. I do love these Shetland-style patterns!

Well, I will now wander off into the cold and see what's up at the yarn shop. I have applied for all the jobs I can find, and if someone needs me, they can call!

Monday, January 4, 2010

When I Concentrate...

...I can finish a pair of socks! Yes, I knitted the whole second Angee sock over the weekend. I did not diverge to anything else until I was done with it. And look how nice the socks look in the sun (appreciate this picture, because it is COLD outside).
It also looks nice in the shade. You can see the variations in the yarn a little better in this photo, I think. And wouldn't you know it, I finally got to where I could go through a whole bunch of pattern rows without moving my marker, which considerably sped up finishing these. I hate having to stop to move the see-through tape so I don't get lost in the instructions on complex projects like these. It ruins my knitting rhythm. On the other hand, these socks are worth it. Navy blue socks go with jeans, so these will get a LOT of wear, I predict. I hope the Chugiak yarn is as sturdy as it appears!

Now that these are done, I am going to cast on the Flaming Desire socks, using this same Pagewood Farms Chugiak in the reddish orange "Fruit Freeze" colorway I bought just a few weeks ago.

Speaking of buying yarn, the LYS is having a sale. Right now there is not much for me to buy there, but I saw some handspun that they'd had a long time ago sneak back on the shelves. I didn't let it sit there long. I wish they'd gotten some more of this vendor's yarn--it is spunky. I think I will make some of my favorite fingerless mitts for myself out of it. That will happen when I make those alpaca gloves--AFTER the next project. Sorry for the quality of this photo, but I got lazy and took it on my phone.

You may be wondering what I am going to knit next that is not socks. Well, I will go back to last year's resolution and work on finishing a previously unfinished project. Which one? Well, answering that will give me something to blog about tomorrow, won't it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Greetings with Socks

New Year's greetings to all of you! I rang in the year at a small gathering of friends, most of whom I had been with to ring in 2000, so it was interesting to think of all the changes we had been through. I am lucky that I still have my knitting, my constant companion, to keep me on an even keel. I know many of you find knitting a real help in your life--it keeps us from ever being bored, it calms us in times of stress, and most important, for me at least, it provides us with a way to meet new people and make some wonderful new friends. So, to start the year I would like to thank everyone who is hanging in there and reading this blog for being there. I am glad to know many of you in person, and I feel like I have gotten to know many of the rest of you through your own blogs, Ravelry, Facebook, e-mail, etc. Our connections with others are precious, and I think it's pretty cool that an "old-fashioned" thing like knitting cam combine with new technologies to bring people closer. I will keep knitting on, hoping it leads to some small measure of peace and understanding among people everywhere!

Oh, and I finished an Angee sock. Look how pretty it is hanging on a red wall in our media room. I think these are going to be a wonderful pair once the other one is done.

The pattern is not bad to do, but it is one of those where you need to have the chart in front of you at all times, so I can't work on this as quickly as I would like--there are lots of places where I knit where I can't hold on to my pattern easily!

On the other hand, I can knit these socks for my sister just about anywhere, even though I think I am going to add a little twist to the leg. I'll show it to you when there is more of it. At least I got a photo of the sock in progress, finally. I've named the socks "Bruce" because I was watching Bruce Springsteen on a TV program while doing the heel, as you can see.

I am liking the yarn a lot. It is definitely black for the most part, but I like the white and tan striping. I hope it is what my sister is looking for. If not, I will certainly take them! These are not in your face or overly exciting, but they are nice, interesting socks. I will enjoy finishing them.
Well, I am from the southern part of the US (Gainesville, Florida), so I have to go cook some black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread, because that is what we eat on New Year's Day. I will help Lee take down the Christmas decor and other holiday stuff, too. Then, I'm going to start that second Angee. If I can get another sock done this weekend (and that should be quite possible), THEN I will start another project...probably those gloves I mentioned. Then I have to figure out whether a Shetland shawl or a sweater I've been wanting to make for a long time is next...stay tuned.

Let's hope for better times for all of us.