Today I Decided To ………..

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I decided it was time to figure out how to finish this sweater. It’s been hibernating since December. December, 2013. That long ago ……

I didn’t like the way the pattern said to complete the band around the neck. It involved knitting k1p1 ribbing for 60+ inches, figuring out when it was exactly the right length and then seaming it onto the sweater. It was going to look like this ………..

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I decided I didn’t want to do that. So I took it upstairs to the sewing room and let it stew for 1.5 years. Now I know what I want to do. I even tried the sweater on and I like it. It fits and will be cool with my new collar, etc., on it. Then it will look like this:

photo credit  Meg Myers
photo credit Meg Myers

Only it will be in these colors:badmitten's picturePhoto Credit BadMittens

And hopefully, I will like it better. Wish I’d chosen Meg’s color …… no, I’m not going to do another one. Well, maybe another one in a solid color – something bright and cheerful, ah like gray.

I haven’t been knitting for long. I learned how to cast on and knit and purl and bind off when I was in my teens and then I didn’t pick it up again until 2012. I needed to quit work to stay home with my husband and I needed something to do. Everything was over my head, not that my head was paying much attention at the time. Now, after 22 pairs of socks and counting (another pair on the needles) I’m feeling like I could take on a challenge. Like picking up stitches all the way around that sweater. So I did. Imagine my delight when I all of a sudden figured out how to pick up and knit stitches without 1) using a crochet hook and transferring the stitch to a needle and 2) without using two needles to actually knit them on. I finally ……. and this was the most awkward thing I’ve ever done …… just started picking them up with one needle and it was EASY. Two and a half years and I’ve mastered something new! At this rate I’ll know how to knit lace when I’m 98. Provided I can still hold the needles and see by then.

Still waiting for the package from the UK. My dear mail man usually makes it here by 5:00. I have no idea what he does the rest of the day. There are only 37000 people here in Bangor and I know we have more than one mail man ………..

Waiting …………

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One day, while I was searching through Ravelry’s pattern database (which can drive you absolutely crazy because there are several hundred thousand patterns there) I chanced across a tee shirt that I wanted to knit. This is strange for me – I do socks. I don’t usually find a sweater/tee that suits all my criteria, i.e. easy enough to knit in my sleep and still looks good. And I almost forgot, it has to fit.

I did a lot of shopping during the last weekend’s anniversary update from The Plucky Knitter. It took me 4 days to figure out what I wanted to get and I didn’t actually make up my mind until right before the sale went live. But even so ………. I wasn’t only looking at Plucky Knitter yarn. Two of the projects listed under the tee pattern used a combination of ITO yarns. Even just looking at the pictures on my laptop screen, I could tell that this was the fabric I wanted. So then began the search for the yarn.

I had purchased yarn from the UK in April and I found that they had the yarns I was looking to purchase. I didn’t hesitate on that yarn at all. Before you could sneeze, I had it in my cart and I was all checked out. A bonus – they had the needles I wanted to so it will all arrive in a nice package ready for me to go to work. Someday. Soon. I hope.

I was sort of hoping it would be here today but, no. I continue to wait. Impatiently, of course, the way I do everything that involves waiting.

I did receive some gorgeous Plucky Knitter Single that a very nice Plucky person wanted to destash. That’s here. Unfortunately, the needles I need are not. I could use the 4.5mm that I have, but it’s wood and the point is not pointy and I like pointy points so I will just have to wait. Besides, I don’t really want that on the needles because I am going to want to concentrate on the ITO project.

The yarns I purchased were Gima (cotton) and Washi (paper wrapped viscose). Way back in the day, thousands of years ago, I made fiber art for competition. I traveled all over the state of Michigan looking for Japanese fabrics ……… the Japanese have always been innovative with their textiles and the beauty is like nothing we make here. There are lots of fabric companies who try to emulate Japanese fabrics, but nothing comes close. When I wanted something spectacular, it meant a trip to Ann Arbor or further. And now the innovation has hit yarn and I can’t wait to get my hands on it ………….. sigh. I’m just waiting.

Here’s an idea of what ITO looks like when knitted up. This is from http://www.kaleidoscope-shop.be and uses 8 different colors of ITO Gima 8.5. See why I want this?

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Arty Knits

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I have had an exhausting week. The Plucky Knitter announced an Anniversary Update for today, Sunday and Monday sometime this week. I’m so tired I can’t remember how long ago she let us know ……….

Since that day, which was probably Monday or Tuesday, I have been doing “research” to get the right colors for the right patterns. I have mercilessly carved a yarn budget out of the monthly budget and forced myself to stick to it. I have looked at thousands of patterns. I have made a list of all the colors available along with what I want to make from them. And then I add up the price.

Last night I decided to search for different patterns because honestly those preppy sweaters I see everywhere do not appeal to me. I already look old enough without slapping on a piece of clothing that looks like it walked out of the 50s. I need DIFFERENT. Some of you may know I make my clothes and I’m not going to make anything that doesn’t look arty because if it doesn’t, I will not wear it. Ever.

About 45 pages into my 50 pages of possibilities, I found her. Yumiko Alexander. That is her vest pattern. I will have that vest. I also found a cardigan called Sea Foam for which I got the yarn today. I got Pinky Swear ……….. loosely described as blurplepink or something like that. Anyway it is fantastic.

I decided at about 11:55, five minutes before the update went live, that I would only buy one thing today and go back to the update on Sunday when more colors might be added. I’m looking for something organic to make Sand Dunes out of, another Alexander pattern.

I get to the website, right? I CANNOT load the site where I need to be. Too much traffic. I keep trying and I don’t refresh the page because it’s working. I get on – I get the Pinky Swear and check out (you have to check out after each thing you add to your cart or it may not be there if you take the time to shop for more!). So …….. then I get Green Goddess to go with a tee I’m making and voila’ I’m out of there in 10 minutes.

Donuts were mentioned copiously during the update chatter on the group forum. Before and after the update! Actually I am too tired to go out for a donut …….. I stayed up until 11 last night and got up at 8 today and I need rest …………. See this yarn buying stuff is just exhausting!

Keeping Me Happy

IMG_0023 Twelve hundred and ninety yards of pure Plucky Knitter bliss just arrived at my door. It doesn’t look like it yet, but this is going to be a silk and merino tee for the summer …… once I figure out the stripes :). And I love the Plucky Knitter. I wish she’d come into my life a lot sooner. This came all the way from Churchmouse Yarn and Teas on Bainbridge Island in Washington to Maine in 4 days. On a holiday weekend. I love all those Churchmice that make life so interesting.

I’m so new to this knitting thing and to this Plucky Knitter yarn OBSESSION that stole upon me in the middle of the night …….. Sigh. I need more and more and more and more. I’m already planning for the next update ……. whenever it is. My son gave me the option of a spinning wheel or a gigantic yarn binge in July. I will have a mild yarn binge in June. And a mild needle binge. We do seem to need to eat around here. Sad.

On another note – I keep trying to stay happy. If not happy then at least not sad. But it is still hard. Only 6 months since my husband died and I still feel so abandoned, which makes no sense, but there it is. Knitting keeps me from screaming and crying and throwing things. Which upsets the cat, you know, so not doing those things is good.

I’ve got to live this life alone and the knitting needles permanently tied to my hands is helping. And those yarn splurges are going to help too, I just know it.

Lemonade Socks

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Well the socks are fuzzy, so why not the picture? :) This is a pair (thank god they took FOREVER) of socks for which I hand-painted the yarn. I was playing around trying to get color that doesn’t pool and I did do that. But I am less than thrilled knitting with a single ply high twist sock yarn …….. no spring in it …….. That’s why they seemed to take forever.

I got this on the needles last night  …… and in my somewhat dark living room, the colors didn’t wow me. This morning though, they’re fine. I don’t like knitting colors I don’t like ……

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I’m now on pair 22 in the mega sock marathon. My son raves about his socks and always remarks about how much he hated all those plain socks he’s worn since he was a sprout. There’s a little adventure in that artist’s soul of his for sure.

And then today, in-between vacuuming (have I mentioned how much I hate cleaning house?) and straightening up the living room and emptying out reusable K-cups and generally doing the chores, I went onto Churchmouse Yarns and Teas and bought some more Plucky Knitter yarn in the colors she dyed specifically for Churchmouse. Let me tell you, it was a scramble. I initially wanted a purple, an awesome yellow and a mellow blue. The blue and yellow I got and I should have gotten the purple first, I think, because it sold out by the time I went back to get it. Sigh. So I ended up with a nice orange-rusty color in place of the purple which will be fine for my plans. Now to download the pattern I’m going to make and then, wait till payday again to get some needles. My needles have to be Signature Needle Arts. I. Cannot. Knit. With. Any. Other. Needles.

It’s beautiful here in Vacationland, all green and everything is blooming, although if you came here now, you’d for sure need a sweater or a sweatshirt! I’m freezing still. I have on my socks and a hoodie and I’m inside. The best part for me is a no-electricity month because I’m not heating or cooling ……… I love that. My bill will drop down to $60 or less and that will be dreamy. More yarn. :)

There is another Plucky Knitter update on Monday and Tuesday. Sigh. Can’t do it. So I’m pretty sure there will be another one in June and my pennies will be saved for that. I did join the Classics Club and I’ll be getting a skein of Plucky Feet every other month to hold me if I have to skip an update or two. Plus there is a ton on the destash board on Ravelry.

I got my first Plucky on Thursday and I love it. I got this really deep saturated purple on Feet, Chamomile on Sweater, Lollipop Guild on Bello Worsted (was that a value!) and Magnet and Steel on Bulky and Bohemian Blue on Trusty. Luckily I have no problems with single skeins ……… hats and mittens are always needed and if not for us, there are a lot of folks here in Maine who need hats and mittens and the Salvation Army Church is right down my street ……. just 4 homes away. I can knit and do good at the same time. Which beats the hell out of vacuuming! :)

Time to Cook Supper

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Okay I’m cheating. I don’t make ravioli, although I’m sure someone will tell me it’s easy. Ha. I tried it a long time ago and all the filling ended up outside the pasta. Not good. So this is the ravioli.

We’re having this plus a marinara sauce and freshly baked breadsticks. My marinara is better than any I can buy, so I make it. Here’s what I do:

5 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes plus three squeezes of tomato paste (from a tube)

3 T pesto

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

I “fry” the garlic in evoo until it smells like heaven on earth, then I add the tomatoes and the paste. Into that I add the pesto, oregano and basil and some freshly ground black pepper. I don’t add salt – are you kidding? There’s enough salt in there already. I let this simmer for at least 40 minutes to get the flavors melded.

If I’m feeling adventurous I grate in some REAL parmesan after the sauce is off the heat.

I cook the ravioli in a super large pot of boiling salted water.

My foccacia dough makes great breadsticks – or you can take it easy and buy some ready to bake. How easy is this? If you’re really hungry – add a salad.

I Have Been Pluckyed

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This is just a plain not-so plain vanilla sock. Thank god it’s the second of the pair ……. all washed and ready to go into the drawer. It’s heating up here so it might not get worn until the late fall, but it’ll be there when I need it.

Now about my new condition. My Plucky condition. I chanced upon a blog post by Susan B. Anderson and a giveaway for a shawl kit. That kit had yarn from The Plucky Knitter in it. I didn’t win. No surprise there. But, like everything Susan B. Anderson writes about – I had to have me some of that there yarn. Bad. You see, I have excellent taste. Except in men. Nobody would tell you I have great taste in men. However, men aside, I could almost be called a snob when it comes to quality. It’s a shame I was born without a trust fund, but then again I have to figure out how to afford my excellent taste and that keeps me busy. It’s okay.

I started looking at The Plucky Knitter stuff on Ravelry. I went to her website. I signed up for the newsletter ………. I missed one update on the 1st, not having the least little clue how to participate. I started finding out. And then there was an Instant Gratification Update that landed in my in box. Oh my. I think I can figure out the regular update procedure if I try hard enough, but the IG was somethin’. Whew. I haven’t had that much fun in years.

I have always resisted competitive yarn buying. I could not resist The Plucky Knitter. She has these fabulous base yarns and they are dyed up in her barn in Michigan. And although I was born in Illinois and lived there to the ripe old age of 29, when I think of home, I think Michigan.

So yesterday morning I set my alarm for 7 am, 7:15 am, 7:35 am …… I do not arise early in the morning any longer. I sleep like a dead thing. But yesterday I had my coffee in hand, the tabs up on my screen and my cat fed all before 8:30. I was ready to go.

I had my eyes on Plucky Feet, being a sock knitter. I knew it was going to be a rough haul and it was. I would put stuff in my cart and by the time I hit the check out button, something would be gone. I think I mistakenly didn’t buy some stuff because only one skein or so was out of stock, who knows? In the heat of the moment, I was all about paying for that yarn. I managed to get one skein of Feet, a mystery tasting of 3 skeins and then I went back for the evening update and got another skein of Trusty. There was a Mystery Spring Fever (that’s a scarf) group of 8 skeins that  went up. It was $230. I looked at it forever. I resisted. I was crushed. I tried begging but children have no heart. Especially mine. Even on Mother’s Day week he didn’t think $230 worth of yarn sight unseen was a great deal. I did.

I have also joined The Plucky Knitter group on Ravelry and I check the destash discussion every hour or so. I will have more Plucky. I have several patterns in  mind and I am forestalling any yarn purchases until the next update ………. sometime this month. I will haunt the destash board too.

Wasn’t it the Borg who said resistance is futile? Let’s apply that to the quest for yarn, yarn and more yarn ……….. The Plucky Knitter yarn in particular.

There’s A Reason I Knit Socks ……….

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There is a reason I knit socks. It’s because they don’t take forever, you don’t have to knit 18 inches of stockinette and I can wear them. Sad to say, I’m not much for wearing wool sweaters – never being a super-cold person and if I get cold I just put on layers. Sigh.

This is the last sock for my son in the Madelinetosh Sock Blue Nile color way he chose. They are super squishy and nice. I love my Tosh socks ……. and I have 4 more skeins of Tosh to knit.

Saturday I cast on my sweater, joined it to knit in the round (the blasted thing was 81 inches – a big over-sized sweater) only when I  joined it – I twisted the stitches and didn’t figure that out until 9 rows were done. I am not in the mood to cast it on again. I will not wear a sweater that is 81″ wide. I will not wear a wool sweater. I wore the one I finished just after my husband died today to go out. I was extremely warm and it isn’t warm in Maine yet. So now I sit and stare at that yarn and I have no idea what to make from it. I think I will have to let it hibernate for a while until something grabs me. I could make a cardigan – and I could make socks from the yarn. We all know I like making socks. And we wear them ………..

Color and Happiness

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I’m not sure where my love for color entered my life. It could have been in kindergarten when I got to mess with fingerpaints? I would have been 5 then and color has informed my whole life.

I love rich, over saturated colors, calm milky colors and colors that speak to me of the sea, like turquoise and white and pine and gray. I love wearing gray which makes me feel homey and comfortable.

From fingerpainting to painting to quilting with wild fabric to making my own clothing with bright colors to knitting with bright yarn — all of these have made me happy. My next step is going to be knitting with more than one color at a time. This should be good, right? Sure, just as long as I can keep from tangling the yarns and knit right and left-handed. Since I’m left-handed, the left-handed bit should be easy – but you see, Mom was right-handed and where else could I learn knitting? No where else but from Mom. So now I get to retrain myself just a little ……… and I’m ready.

I’ll be using directions and patterns from this book –

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and you can see just a few of the lovely mitten patterns in this book. There’s another title I’m going after too, next month, after I read this one cover to cover and plot my mittens. I cannot wait.

My late husband was from Latvia. He is currently thrilled to bits with the idea that I will attempt a Latvian mitten pattern. How do I know this? Because everything I did fiber-wise, thrilled him to bits. So he can look over my shoulder and let me know which patterns he likes the best. And I will knit them.

I’m finishing up the most beautiful socks in Blue Nile by Madelinetosh –

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and I’m wearing my Mad-tosh socks. Once this last (second!) sock is done, I’m going to take a break from sock knitting for a bit and start my sweater from this yarn:

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which I so gladly found at Imagiknit in San Francisco. All of you knitters dying to get hold of colors of Malabrigo Mechita that you can’t find anywhere? Go to imagiknit.com – they have them all!!!!!!!

That sweater is going to take some time …….. and since none of the 6 skeins I got look remotely like another one, I will be alternating two skeins at a time. It’s a good time of year for a long project  and if I get antsy I can always cast on another sock, right?

And then, when the weather gets awesome, I’m  going to Belfast and I’m going to visit Heavenly Socks Yarn shop. Oh yes, more color …………….