Plugging Away ………

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This sweater is bigger now ……. I am at the stage where the front and back are joined to knit in the round for eeee gods 14″ ….. and I may do it even longer. I did the weird wet block of the back piece and the front piece after both were 8.5 inches long. First the back, let it dry, pick up stitches for the front, cable cast on, pick up more stitches ……. etc. I like the stitch pattern but now it’s down to the grind of continuously knitting the same thing over and over and over …….. if I drank I would drink enough to make this not seem boring.

After this cute little pink number, I have another sweater or two in the wings and one for which I need to buy yarn. But I’m going to slow down on the sweater stuff ……. back to socks for a bit to retain my sanity. I only need so many sweaters.

It has come to my attention that yarn is expensive. Some yarn more expensive than others – some yarn ridiculously expensive. So – even if I can keep buying yarn in sweater quantities – I’m going to take a break from that and let the pressure out. Woman cannot live by yarn alone. Seriously.

A short trip to the grocery store is over – I could go sit down and knit – the damn thing is screaming at me laying there in the bag. Sigh. Maybe tonight. Not today – today – I’m taking time off.

A Fluffy Bit of Texture

IMG_0041This lovely sweater is on the needles and it is a joy to knit – there will be some tricky things coming up soon, but for now, it’s smooth sailing. I’m  thrilled that such an easy stitch pattern give this neat poufy texture. The yarn is, of course, Plucky Knitter Crew, which is a 75% wool and 25% cotton yarn. I love the feel of it. I was a bit distressed when my order came because I didn’t much care for my color choice. The great thing about Plucky yarn is that there is always someone looking for just what you have – so I destashed it and bought this lovely Kicky from Shelly on the destash board. It’s hard buying yarn when you’re not sure what the color will look like, but I do know that there isn’t much I’m not going to like ………

Since I had this super cool yarn coming – and because my knitting bag was a $2 purchase from Goodwill that had seen much better days – I started looking for a bag to hold all my toys AND the multiple projects ongoing. I had a brain wave and remembered ordering these lovely custom boat and totes when I worked at LL Bean. The customers get to choose the color of every part of the tote – and the size. And they are sewn together right here in Maine. I got to work and, with the help of my color-savvy son, we picked out this combination:

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Is this cool, or what? I was totally amazed when it came – I had no concept in my mind as to how large it was going to be. At 19 x 17 x 10 – it is huge. At first I thought it was too big – and I could have returned it, monogram and all – but it grew on me. And it isn’t too big – nothing is squished and everything is easy to find.

Since I knew I had this cool yarn and tote coming – I had to take some time out and make project bags. I was getting a little tired of zip-lock bags.

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This is one of the two I made. More are planned and they take about 1/2 an hour. So nice not to have baggies – although they do still house my stash!

And then, what with the cool yarn, the tote and the project bags – I needed a place to store the old knitting notions – which are all teeny or else long and skinny or just plain a mess if you put them in a pocket and start digging for them. So ——- I found these at Namaste, Inc., the maker of awesome knitting bags – of course I needed one in every color.

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Sigh. Now everything is accessible, the project is stored in beauty, the whole shebang is in this kicker of a tote …… and I’m all organized and ready to knit!

Done ……. Starting Another One

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Pretty cool. Took me exactly a month, knitting almost every day. Might have been every day? I don’t know ……..

I used Single from The Plucky Knitter in her special color ways dyed for Churchmouse  Yarns and Teas. I used Mighty Madrona and Ferry Schedule – which looks so cool with jeans! I’m super grateful to June, who was feeling the need to let some yarn go so I could get enough of the Mighty Madrona!

I’ll be making this again ……. check out my Ravelry project page for all the details of what I did. It was quite a detour from the pattern …….. happy I could ad lib and get it the way I wanted it! http://www.ravelry.com/projects/sewbonloot/billowing

Spent some time this morning winding up Kicky (The Plucky Knitter Crew) that I was also lucky enough to get from Shelly on destash (because the color I bought I didn’t like). I put mine on destash and it was gone in two minutes flat. Thank. God. I’m excited to start my pink Laurie and even more excited to wear it —– power knitting here we come.

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.