Thursday, January 12, 2017

But How to Pack??

You guys, I’m so excited.  This weekend, I get to get out of dodge and head to a cabin in the woods with some of my favorite people in the world.  My sis and bff have put together a bachelorette weekend for me that includes all of my favorite things:  eating, drinking, crafting, hiking, board games, more eating and drinking, more crafting, and best of all, friends!  My bestie from HS is even flying up from Texas to join the party!!  I have been looking forward to this weekend pretty much ever since they told me they were planning it, and now that it’s tomorrow I’m pretty much ignoring everything else I should be doing and instead thinking of how awesome it is going to be, coordinating with my peeps, and of course planning what to pack.

I mean, it’s January in Ohio, so that should mean snow boots and hats and scarves and warm socks, right?  But here’s the forecast for the weekend:

That’s right, rain and highs in the upper 30s – 50s.  So it looks like we will probably be inside most of the weekend, instead of hiking in the woods, which is fine, but kind of a bummer.  I was so hoping for a lovely snowy scene as we walked through the woods – basically I wanted it to be a Robert Frost poem or something I guess.

But since we are going to be indoors, there will be more time for crafting, right?  

I'm kind of hoping for a weekend that looks a lot like this... ps, isn't my new yarn bowl gorgeous???

Which brings us to the next problem – how do I make sure I have enough projects to work on??  In my head I’m fairly certain that in three days’ time I will be able to finish 2 pair of typing gloves, a pair of socks, and half a sweater.  That seems reasonable, right?  What if I run out of yarn?  What catastrophe will fall then?

Nevermind the fact that I have already told everyone that we will be on flower making duty this weekend.  I’ve at this point made exactly 3 flowers for the wedding
and we need roughly 200. 

So at least part of the weekend will consist of an assembly line of sorts.  I’m certain we will get them all made by Sunday night… the constraints of time and space have no power over me when I’m planning! 

Overall I’m over the moon excited about this weekend, and I know it will be amazing.  I have the best people and it will be the best time.  I’m super sad that not everyone could make it, but I know they will be with us in spirit – have a glass of wine in my honor at some point this weekend, folks!  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!

Well friends, it's a new year, and I honestly don't know where the time went! 

Christmas this year was another embarrassment of riches, both from being utterly spoiled for no good reason and also for the joy of being able to give so many wonderful gifts to others!  I didn’t do quite as many handmade gifts this year since so much of 2016 was spent on wedding knitting, but I did manage to get some in there.  After all, what kind of crafter would I be if no one got handmade prezzies?

First, and most exciting, is the super secret cross stitch that I did for my super awesome mama. She collects snowmen, so every year my sister and I get her a new one for the collection.  It’s a little out of hand at this point (the collection covers the mantle and two display cases in her living room) but we just can’t help ourselves.  This year, I found a really cute pattern I somehow managed to keep it super secret, even though I really wanted to share it in the TUSAL and on the blog in general.  She even sat down in the chair next to where I had left everything out and she didn’t see it, so I’m counting  myself super lucky.  Anyway, I stitched it, cleaned it, pressed it, and framed it, and gave it to her for Christmas, so now I can share it with you all!

Isn’t he the cutest? 

I also did some knitting (of course) for a few people.  I already showed you the Owlie socks that I designed for a friend:

And the Hats and Mittens I made for her adorable kiddos:

And then I found out that a friend who I had formerly made mittens for needed new ones, so of course I obliged.  I stupidly didn't take a photo of them, but they are pretty cool.  

And finally, my mama said her fingers get cold and I suggested that maybe mittens would help since they could all stick together instead of being all alone in their individual sleeves… which of course meant I needed to make her some mittens as well. 

Those were all my prezzies for the year, unless you count the mittens I made myself:

I got the yarn for myself as part of my birthday shopping bonanza, and I finally made myself these mitts that I’ve wanted for years now.  As an added bonus I got to use my penguin buttons!! 

So overall holiday crafting was a big win for me.  Later I’ll tell you more, but for now, it’s snowing and I want to head to the sofa and pick up the needles again, because what else do you do on a snowy day?? J

Patterns from top:

Let It Snowman Cross Stitch - Originally published in "Fat Flakes"  booklet by Jeanette Crews Designs
Owlie Athletic Socks by Me :)
Love the Winter Hats by Emily Dormier
Basic Children's Mittens by Elizabeth Durand (both for the kiddos and for mama)
Shake the Barley Gloves by Erica Jackofsky (Fiddle Knits)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Owlie Athletic Socks Pattern

I recently designed some socks because I couldn't find a pattern that was exactly what I was looking for.  Here is the pattern!  You can also find it on Ravelry!

Owlie Athletic Socks       
By Jen A. Martin

Inspired by good old-fashioned athletic tube socks, these mid-calf socks are sure to keep you warm on a chilly autumn or winter day.  The owls along the top are there to serve as your mascot as you rake leaves or shovel snow, or even just curl up with a good book.

Size 1.5 double pointed sock needles
Small cable needle
Darning needle for grafting and weaving in ends
1 ball (100 g) Loops & Threads Woolike Superfine in Olive (MC)
1 ball (100 g) Loops & Threads Woolike Superfine in Ivory (CC)
Size: Women’s Average

Stitch Notes:
C4F: slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold in front, Knit next two sts onto right needle, knit 2 sts from cable needle onto right needle
C4B: slip 2 sts to cable needle and hold in back, Knit next two sts onto right needle, knit 2 sts from cable needle onto right needle.
SSK: slip the next two stitches individually as if to knit, move stitches back to left hand needle and knit together through back loops to decrease one stitch
K2tog: knit the next two stitches together to decrease one stitch

With MC, Cast on 70 sts and join for working in the round
Ribbing: k2, *p2 k2* around
Repeat ribbing round 11 more times (12 total rounds ribbing)

Stripe Section *
Change to CC and knit around for 6 rounds
Change to MC and knit around for 5 rounds
Change to CC and Knit 1 round

Owl Cable Pattern
Round 1: *P3, K8, P3* around
Round 2: *P3, C4F, C4B, P3* around
Rounds 3-4: *P3, K8, P3* around
Round 5: *P3, C4F, C4B, P3* around
Rounds 6-9: *P3, K8, P3* around
Round 10: *P3, C4F, C4B, P3* around
Round 11: *P5, K4, P5* around
Round 12: knit around
Change to MC and knit around for 6 rounds
Change to CC and knit around for 6 rounds  - break off CC
* It is best to carry yarn up for striping rather than breaking off and starting new with each stripe. *
Leg Section
Change to MC and knit around for 6 rounds
Decrease Round (round 7):  *k6, k2tog, k6* to last stitch, knit last stitch of round together with first stitch of next round.  6 sts decreased.  (64 sts)
Continue in MC and St St until leg measures 10” from cast on edge
Afterthought Heel Set Up
Hold MC at beginning of round (do not break off)
With small amount of waste yarn in CC, Knit across first 32 st of sock
Drop and break off waste yarn
Go back to beginning of round and knit across waste yarn with MC and continue around rest of sock
That’s all for the heel for now ;)
Foot Section
Continue with MC in St St for foot of sock. 
*Measure foot length from waste yarn*
Stop approx. 2 inches short of desired length for foot to begin decreases for toe
Arrange stitches across 4 needles – 16 sts per needle.  Break off MC

Toe Decreases
Change to CC
Round 1:
Needle 1: K1, ssk, knit to end of needle
Needle 2: knit to 3 sts before end of needle, k2tog, k1
Needle 3: k1, ssk, knit to end of needle
Needle 4: knit to 3 sts before end of needle, k2tog, k1
Round 2: Knit all sts
Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until 24 sts remain (12 for top of toe and 12 for bottom of toe)
On final repeat of round 2:
Knit across needle 1, and knit all sts from needle 2 onto needle 1 (12 sts)
Knit across needle 3, and knit all sts from needle 4 onto needle 3 (12 sts)
Graft toe together using Kitchener stitch across all stitches
Now we go back to the heel!
Afterthought Heel
At waste yarn line, holding sock with toe up and top down
Pick up right leg of all sts below waste yarn (32 sts)
Pick up right leg of all sts above waste yarn (32 sts)
Remove waste yarn
Arrange on 4 needles as for toe decreases (16 sts per needle)

Using CC
Round 1:
Pick up 1 st from space before beginning of round, and knit across needles 1&2, pick up 1 st in space after needle 2 onto needle 2. 
Repeat process for needles 3 & 4 (17 sts on each needle by end of round)
Round 2: Knit all sts (36 sts total)
Round 3 & 4: Follow instructions for Toe decrease all the way through grafting step
Weave in all ends, and enjoy your socks!

**Edit 12/19: i put this up in such a hurry that i forgot to include some awesome links and tutorials i meant to put in!

Staci at Very Pink Knits is my favorite teacher, and if this is your first time using dpns, her tutorial is awesome.

A great video on the basics of afterthought heel construction is from TheKnitGirllls

For advice on how to pick up stitches for the corners of the afterthought heel without leaving a gap, here's a great video from Just One More Row

Finally, if you are new to kitchener stitch, here's a great video from KnittingHelp

happy stitching!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

sometimes i'm quite stupid really

so my best friend in the whole world got married.  4 1/2 years ago.  in 2012.  and i started working on their wedding present then.  it was going to be lovely.

that's the image from the pattern site.  

i started it in 2012 on 18 count aida, and after about a page decided that it was working up too small and i didn't like it.

then my sister announced that she was getting married, so i decided to put this one aside, because my bestie would totally understand that i'm working on her present and it will be finished... eventually... because she's a fellow crafter and my best friend in the whole world.

so i took the next year (and a half) and worked on this piece of art for my sister:
turned out lovely, and with a lot of swearing (those cobblestones...)

so once that was done, i restarted the rockwell piece, this time on 16 count aida, and i liked it much better.  i stitched away, then started the process of moving.  and that's when the wheels came off the wagon. 

when i got to our new house, i had finished a row and a half of pages, and i decided to set up my front room as my crafting clubhouse.  my first mistake was letting the work live in the q snaps rather than taking it out when i wasn't working on it.  not the most egregious mistake ever, but it would need pressing when it was done for sure. 

but, what i didn't remember is that a) exposure to sunlight is bad for fabric (i'm really really not sure how i forgot this, except that maybe i was temporarily insane) and that b) my front room is all windows on 3 walls.  so when i got really excited and bought myself a new floor stand, i put my work in it and left it out in the front room for the sunlight to destroy.  

now, the piece that has already been started twice and has taken 4 1/2 years to get even partway through, looks like this:

and just like that, it's ruined beyond repair.  the image goes outside of the sunbleached area, so there is no way to just pass it off like i meant to do it.  i have to start over.  

and as much as i love my bestie and her husband, there is no way i am starting the same pattern a third time around.  

so i'll pick something different, not quite as awesome, and get it done more quickly.  and then i will, for the rest of my life, tell the story of how i ruined a good year and a half of work in the course of 3 months.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

life post sweater

so i finished my sweater, which is a big deal.  it made its debut on thanksgiving day, and i remembered how much i love hearing "that's really pretty" and being able to say "thanks, i made it" in response.  it's very gratifying.  i wore it to work as well, and several co-workers asked if i can make them one... is it weird that i'm actually considering it?

anyway, since the big project for fall came off the needles, i've been able to concentrate on my favorite kind of knitting: gifts!  christmas is upon us, and i've been a busy little bee working up some prezzies, which always makes me happy for a number of reasons - 1, because giving is the best.  i love giving presents to people.  2, because most presents are quick knits (hats, mittens, socks) and i get to feel like i'm really accomplishing things.  and 3, because christmas is my favorite holiday.  mostly because of all the giving and celebrating with people who are awesome.

my christmas knitting is a smaller list this year.  when i was planning my year of knitting, i decided to be reasonable about how much i could really do christmas knitting with the wedding coming up (it was a rare moment of clarity and self-awareness that i'm sure will not be repeated), so i only had a few people to make things for:

hats and mittens for a couple of my favorite kiddos. super fun to knit!

a sock, which i designed myself, testing some new methods, for a dear friend (the mate is on the needles now)

and that's it for family and friends for this year.  but, as we have the last few years, my office is participating in the adopt-a-family program through our local freestore foodbank. i love that we started this tradition.  we have about 6 people in our office, and we used to do a little christmas gathering and a gift exchange with each other to mark the end of the semester and the year.  but then one year, we decided to do something good for others instead of exchanging gifts among ourselves, and it was wonderful.  the freestore sends us the names and wish lists of the family members, and we split that up amongst ourselves and go get as much as we can.  then we bring everything in and wrap the presents to deliver to the freestore, it's so nice.  this year we are going to lunch as a group after we deliver the presents to enjoy each other's company.  i'm so lucky to work with other women who are interested in giving and contributing to the community.  it helps.

anyway, this year, everyone asked for some combination of hats and gloves and scarves, so i got to work.


and 2 sons

i will be buying the gloves, since there's a much closer deadline than i can meet with handmade gloves for 4 people... but i'm hoping they like the hats.  i know it's not much, but i feel like it's the least i can do to try and keep a family warm this winter.  

what about you all?  how is christmas prep going?  is it starting to feel like the season yet? 

patterns from top:
love the winter hat by emily dormier
basic children's mittens by elizabeth durand
sock - being designed currently.  stay tuned for pattern notes
autumn in garrison by kate gagnon osborn
hurricane hat by andrea guldin
regular guy beanie by chuck wright

Monday, November 21, 2016

the sweater saga, concluded

ladies and gentlemen, i give you the grand finale of the sweater saga.  yes, i actually finished it!

you may remember that it started as an obsession that had me sitting still for a whole weekend and enjoying the october sunshine.  i got the whole bottom half done really quickly!  it was so fun to work on.

then, i ran into a snag, quite literally, which set back my work for a few days.

i came up with a brilliant plan to combat the need for a swift by using my feet, but that was also slow and not so much fun.  

and going was slow, but progressing.

and finally, it was finished.  but the neck was not very attractive and super uncomfortable.

so that brings us up to speed on where we left off.  the next bit was terrifying, as i attempted my very first lifeline and hoped to the universe that i was on the same row all the way through.

it was pretty scary, but i ended up being right where i needed to be.

then the reconstruct - i did some increases and made the neck longer, with a looser bind off, and in just 2 sessions, i was done again!

and now i have a finished sweater!  it needs a soak and a block before thursday, but it will definitely be making its thanksgiving debut as planned.

overall, the experience was lovely.  i have only made one other true garment for myself before, and i think i learned a lot between then and now, and during this project.

mostly, i have learned what all knitters learn at some point in their lives.  that it is much better to rip back and make something you'll actually wear, than to push through and end up with something that will sit in a drawer forever.

i love my sweater.

happy thanksgiving to all!

pattern: lacey tunic by beautia dew (with some alterations in the neck)
yarn: cascade ultra pima cotton in teal

Monday, November 7, 2016

finished... for now

well, fall is here, and that means that the weather changed and i got my yearly cold.  so i was feeling kinda crummy on saturday, which allowed me the perfect opportunity to be a hermit again and knit on the neck of my sweater.  and guess what?

i finished it:
go me!  thanksgiving deadline, conquered.


i don't like the way the neck fits:
it doesn't hang right, and it is too tight across the back of my neck.

so, my plan currently is to un-finish it. i think i'll do some increases in the neck tube and maybe some short rows right toward the end to see if i can make it lay better on me. it sucks to have to rip out several inches of work, but i'd rather do that than never wear it because it's uncomfortable, right?

so i'm not counting it as totally finished yet, but i'm almost there!

meanwhile, i am going to finish these mittens because they are just adorable and i need a finish:
now i just need to get over this cold...