The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 29

So I’ve gone a bit out of order here. I’ve answered all the questions except day 29’s. I deferred on it the other day because I was playing catch up and putting multiple answers in one post. I found I wanted more time and space to answer this question, so here you go!

Day 29: Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?

I’m tempted to break this down. I mean, what is the actual focus of the question? Is it referring to knitting tips and tricks I’ve learned? Or is it about a greater insight into life, myself and the world that I might have gained from knitting? The answer to that is, of course: my blog, my choice! And I choose both.

For knitting tips and tricks, oh man. I’ve learned a lot. I keep a list of things handy on my ravelry profile page. They’re in no particular order. There are patterns, techniques, tricks, tutorials, etc. I’ve copied and pasted it here in case any one item will prove helpful to someone:

Wiki tips and techniques
Techniques thread
Top Ten Knitting Tricks
Kitchener stitch
Grafting in pattern
Weaving in ends
TECHknitter index
Chain crochet cast on
Fiber burn chart
JSSBO
Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on (short version)
Grams to yards conversion
Knitting a chain edge on garter stitch
A giant list of sock techniques
Icelandic bind off for garter stitch
One stitch cable techniques
German short rows
Knitted cherries!
Judy’s Magic Cast On
Knitted strawberries!

I can’t stress enough the usefulness of the TECHknitter index. It’s my first stop shop for any technical knitting question. My second go-to is knitty.com. Over the years, knitty’s Techniques with Theresa column has helped me with tons of stuff. I prefer to learn from pictures rather than videos, so often the knitty articles work well for me. If I can’t find what I’m looking for from either of those sources, good old Google has yet to fail me.

One tip that’s not represented on that list (to my knowledge) is my newly discovered no-holes sock gusset approach. I mentioned this on my last Thursday Sock-Along post, but I’ll briefly restate it here: when picking up stitches along each edge of a heel flap (on cuff down, traditional heel socks), pick up as many as seems appropriate for the edge, i.e., one for each slipped stitch. This will typically be one or two more per side than the pattern calls for*. Then, work one round in pattern and start your decreases as usual. The trick is that instead of decreasing any extra stitches away on that first round, you just add an extra decrease round or two until you get down to the prescribed number of stitches. That keeps the fabric from getting pulled too tight at those extra stitches and making a hole.

One last knitting tip I will share is this: Just try stuff. That’s how you learn new tricks. Just trying things to see how they work, making adjustments, talking to other people who’ve done the same thing, making more adjustments, repeat repeat repeat until you have something you like. So much of my knitting prowess, such as it is, has come from just diving in and trying things that seemed over my head at the time.

Okay, this is really the last tip I’m sharing: ravelry is a great resource. I haven’t had a ton of luck finding tutorials and that sort of thing there, but if you have a question about a specific pattern, that’s the place to try. Check the pattern page first. There are sections for comments, forum posts and blog posts, and many times I’ve found the answers to my questions there. If that doesn’t work, searching the forums often turns up answers.

IMG_6258

A rav screenshot showing the different tabs on a pattern page

You can also do an advanced search on all the projects for a specific pattern. I like to do that and filter to view projects with the most favorites or that were marked the most helpful. That way, I can look through project notes and often find the answers I’m looking for there.

IMG_6259

A rav screenshot showing an advanced search filtered to show most helpful first

And now, on to the more existential interpretation of the question: What life lessons have I learned from knitting?

Interestingly enough, the answer to this question is, in a general sense, pretty much the same: use your resources. When something seems tricky or tough, poke around until you find someone else who has gone through the same thing, and then benefit from their experience. Try new things and new approaches. Don’t give up–it will make sense eventually!

I have also learned that knitting is a powerful tool. For me, it has been pain relief, a mood enhancer, a source of balance and perspective. It has provided me with community and support, good will and mojo. It’s been an outlet for me for when I just need to get my mind off things, or when I need to calm down enough to mull something over. It’s provided me with both comfort and challenge when I’ve needed them. Knitting is both a way for me to take care of myself and to give to other people, be it through community and connection or through gifting FOs, yarn, fiber or supplies. In short, knitting has saved me, over and over again.

What tips and tricks, technical or otherwise, have you learned from knitting?

So, this concludes my 30 day knitting challenge. I’ve gotten some really good feedback on these posts, and I’ve enjoyed writing them immensely. I’m toying with the idea of making it a yearly thing. I would write another set of questions as most of these are one time deals, but I haven’t worked out the details yet. I think it would be a cool June tradition for me. Also, it will segue nicely into July 4 which is my blogiversary! Stay tuned for that tomorrow!

I will leave you with a pic of another thing that is a constant source of both joy and challenge for me. Here she is when I asked her to smile!

FullSizeRender 336

Have a wonderful weekend, and happy knitting!

*As far as I can tell, this happens because patterns usually say to pick up 1 stitch for each 2 rows knitted…but that total often doesn’t take into account a set up row or final row. So, picking up the number of stitches stated will often leave a hole in one or both of those places.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

What Goes Around…Well, You Know

Oh, lovely readers, I have so much to tell you! I’m still spread really, really thin and have a ton on my plate. But, I’ve been feeling that blogging pull a lot lately. You know, that impulse to open up a blank screen and pour stuff onto it? Yeah, that. So, I’m going to try to get back at it and start blogging regularly again.

That said, where to begin? I guess a general update is in order. In my last post, I mentioned I had a promising job interview. Well, I’ve now completed three rounds of interviews and gotten a verbal offer. There are still a lot of factors that could come into play and screw this up, but I’m starting to let myself believe it just might all work out. I should know more in a few days. I’m excited about this on several levels. For starters, it would (will?) take a huge weight off my shoulders to be getting a regular paycheck. For seconds, the job in question seems like it will be a good next step in my career. For thirds, I genuinely loved the work environment, the team members and the role. I think it could be a great context for me and I’m confident I can bring valuable skills and experience to the table. So, please keep sending any mojo, juju, good vibes, prayers, virtual hugs, and any and all positive energy! I will do my best to accept it, appreciate it, amplify it and reflect it back.

Next item on the agenda! The concept of paying it forward continues to be on my mind. The effects of it manifest more in the knitting and fiber world than anywhere else for me. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been amazingly lucky when it comes to knitting, right? Well, I have, and I continue to be. From finding giant batches of luxury yarn at Goodwill, to getting massive amounts of free destashed yarn and fiber, to winning yummy yarns and patterns from KALs and blog giveaways, I just keep winning. I’ve done my best to spread the love around, and it just keeps coming back to me. Last week I learned that I was the random winner picked by Skacel to receive a free set of addi click interchangeable needles! I picked the long lace tips. I got them a few days ago and, so far, they’ve been great! I will post a detailed review soon. Thanks, Skacel!

Another way the knitting world keeps giving back to me is in the form of jobs! Little jobs, perhaps, but they add up. I started doing some finishing work for my LYS (the start of which is a whole other story entirely) a few months ago. These are some of the gigs I’ve done so far:

-Blocked, seamed and finished a baby sweater

-Repaired holes in handknit sweaters (one Aran sweater from the UK, even)!

-Ripped out and reknit the neck of a sweater so it would fit better

-Sewed up some shoulder seams

And I’ve got a couple more jobs on deck. It’s been nice to get a little extra, unexpected, money but mostly? It’s been super rewarding to see people fall in love with their handknits all over again. The owner of the Aran sweater mentioned above was close to (happy) tears when he saw all the holes repaired. The owner of the baby sweater was pleased as punch when she saw it all finished, with cute buttons and everything. Also, I have learned so, so much while doing these little jobs. The repairs I’ve done are almost all invisible and my finishing skills have definitely improved. For the sweater neck reknit, I learned a new-to-me short row technique (German short rows) which proved to be awesome.

So, what about knitting, you ask? Well, I haven’t been doing a ton of it. I’m embarrassingly behind on my test knitting. It’s been hard to dredge up the emotional energy to work on much. However, I did finish a hat test knit recently and, a couple of days ago, I started a project purely for myself. I’m working on The Miller’s Daughter, a Mairlynd pattern. I am using the most awesome colors ever:

IMG_5715

I’m using the tosh lace edison bulb as my accent color. However, in keeping with my love of the extreme, I’m using my accent color for all the lace panels. So far, I love it!

IMG_5721

The photo doesn’t really do it justice but, trust me…it’s amazeballs.

Here’s the hat test knit I finished recently. I’ll do an FO spotlight post for it later after I’ve properly blocked it and whatnot. The pattern is Grant Carver:

IMG_5702

Happy knitting!

Ringing In

The new year is off to an auspicious start: I’m getting lots of knitting done! I’m celebrating with some local eggnog, knitting and Netflix since everyone else is asleep. I have about half of one edge of I cord border left to do on the blanket for my father in law, and then I will turn in.

The old year wrapped up with two FOs on the last day. I added the pompoms and took pictures of my Capitals hat and Ingeborg hat.

IMG_4770

Although now that I look more closely, I realize I forgot to add the tail to the one visible p. I guess this project will extend into 2016 after all!

This was my first attempt at stranded colorwork. I think I said it best in my project notes from ravelry, so I will copy them here:

-I really don’t know how to tension yarn with stranded knitting yet. This is not shocking as it was my first attempt. If/when I do it again, I think I need to bite the bullet and try holding one color in each hand. I did them both with the right hand for this and it has some drawbacks.

-I was determined not to have puckering. I don’t. I have the opposite problem, though! I should probably have used feltable wool. I left long enough floats for most of it, but sometimes they’re so long that the stitches between them are pretty slack. I think wool would felt up a little so that the float yarn would stay in the floats and the rest would stay in the stitches. As it is, the piece’s gauge is all over the place and the pattern is sometimes a little distorted.

-Since my gauge was so much bigger than I predicted, the hat is a little on the wide side. Also, it somehow came out kind of short, too. I’m not sure how that happened, but it looked like it was heading that way so I added one or two k rows between decrease rows at the crown. I would add more if I did this pattern again. Also, I cast on fewer sts than called for and increased on the row after the ribbing, so it cinches in at the bottom a lot. Okay, probably a little too much. I’m not going to lie–it looks a little like a Mario Bros. mushroom cap.

-I only trapped a few floats–the ones that hit 7 sts long. I have no idea if I did it “right” or not, but they seem trapped, don’t show from the RS, and weren’t hard.

-For all its drawbacks, I am very happy with my first stranded colorwork project. I will gift it to my bil and let him know that someday, when I get better at it, I’ll knit him another one and make it look sleeker. I’m pretty sure he will like it as-is.

My next stranded colorwork project will be a test knit pullover with kitties on the yoke, and I’ll be starting it soon!

The Ingeborg hat is my most recently completed test knit. My three year old daughter modeled it for me today…sort of. Here are the best shots I was able to get:

Looks great until you consider that for most or all of these shots, I was begging her to look at me! Oh well, at least she’s cute.

So, my WIPs are down to just the top row of my ravelry project tab, which means I only have five. Two are test knits that need ends woven, buttons sewn and blocked. They should both be done by early next week. Another is the car blanket I mentioned at the start of the post. It still needs a pocket knitted and sewed on, ends woven in and washed. There are kind of a lot of ends. I think I’m just going to knot the little bastards and move on with my life. After all, it needs to stand up to machine washing! That will be three more WIPs done so I’m starting the year with a nearly clean slate.

I’m not huge on yearly reflection, resolutions or any of that stuff. However, I am seriously stoked that in 2015, I made 42 projects, start to finish. I have never churned out knitting that fast and that consistently. Not all of those were huge things…there were some dishcloths, a mug rug, a sweater patch and stuff like that, but some of them were pretty big. According to ravelry, their total yardage is 12,391. I made my first socks and shawls, started test knitting, cabled up a storm and learned a ton of new techniques. If you really want to know, all of these projects were started in or after June, so it’s been a very knitty six months!

Here’s hoping I’m able to keep up the pace. Knitting is playing a very important role in my life right now. It has helped keep me sane and balanced through struggles with depression, helped me deal with the aftermath of the car accident I was in in August and helped me handle not being able to go back to work. It’s looking very likely I will be able to return to work next week. This is good news, but also daunting.

I’ll be okay, right? And if not, well, there’s always knitting! Happy New Year!

Reframing

I started writing a different post just now. It was about how things aren’t going great at the moment, and how I’ve been feeling under the weather, etc. Those things are true but I realized the way I was writing about them was just bringing me down. I found myself tempted to apologize for said blog post. That’s when I realized I needed to turn it around. So, welcome to my reframed post! I’m not going to ignore or downplay any of the negative stuff. I’m just going to strive to see things in a realistic context and not tune out the positives.

Some of the challenges I’m facing right now are the fact that I’m STILL not back to work, I’m dealing with fairly constant pain, car insurance claim issues and about a million other life stressors. I’m coping with these things reasonably well, but it’s getting to be very trying. On a positive note, knitting is still keeping me sane! I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate at the moment but I’m optimistic that I can get everything done. Or at least, I can get close!

One current project, my Pretty Crabby hat, is nearing completion. In my last post, I mentioned I was planning on reworking the claw pattern as I wasn’t happy with the design. Well, done and done! Here’s a picture of the claw from the pattern:

IMG_4312Each claw is made in two pieces that are seamed together. I think it looks too rough around the edges (literally) so I decided to work them in the round instead. I drew heavily from the Ear Bud Pouch pattern and came up with this:

IMG_4313Pretty cool, right? I posted the “recipe” on my ravelry project page. I’m very happy with how it came out. The next step is to make the eyes, which are also made in two separate pieces and seamed. I’m thinking that instead of knitting them top to bottom like the pattern says, I will knit each piece in the round as a flat or nearly flat circle, then use a three needle bind off around the edges. Then it will just be a matter of knitting some I cord to attach the claws and sewing it all together. I think it’s going to look awesome!

I started the car blanket for my FIL. I’m trying something kind of new and am curious to see how it will turn out. I really wanted to make it in log cabin style but I wanted the sections to be squares. For log cabin knitting, you start with a garter stitch square or rectangle, then rotate it 90 degrees and pick up stitches along the selvedge edge. You knit a new panel from those stitches, then rotate it 90 degrees and pick up more stitches along that edge. Check out Mason Dixon Knitting for the full idea. In any case, you never attach live knitting to another edge, just pick up stitches and knit out. What I wanted to do meant that I would have to attach the end of each garter ridge to a cast on or bound off edge of another square. Well, I couldn’t find information on how to do that anywhere despite tons of searching. The best I could come up with is to use the same technique of knitting edging perpendicularly onto live stitches. So, I decided that instead of binding off each square after finishing it, I’d put the live stitches on waste yarn and knit them together with future panels. I’ve finished about two and a half squares so far but haven’t had to do that yet. We’ll see how it goes!

IMG_4346Nothing new to report on Lacy Loo or the Color Dipped Hat, but I can talk about the most recent test knit I did. I tested Mega Berry, a hat, for cashmerejunkie of Taiga Hilliard Designs. I made the baby size. It called for super bulky yarn and the best thing I had on hand was some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Here’s the finished project:

IMG_4304

FullSizeRender 95

IMG_4319The model is five months old. It fits her fine now, but probably won’t for long as it’s a little snug. It’s a fun, quick knit for anyone looking for an easy gift.

I’ve got three more test knits in the works. One is a hat that I just finished, but I don’t have good pictures yet. It’s blocking now so I should be able to post about it in a couple of days. One is a hat that I’ll be starting tonight. The other isn’t due till January so I am waiting to get some gift knitting out of the way, but it will be my first non-hat test! It’s a kids top. More on that later.

Interestingly, I stumbled into doing a commission piece. Some background first: when I was little, my mom made Christmas stockings for the family. Well, my brothers had ones my grandmother made with felt, but my parents and I had knitted ones. Every once in a while someone would ask her to knit one for their family, so I remember watching her make a number of them through the years. The other day someone on Facebook posted in a group I’m in. She was looking for a knitter to make a stocking very similar to the ones my mom used to make. So, I responded and we talked a bit and I’m going to knit her a stocking! I’m pretty excited because I think it will be fun. I’m getting the pattern and a prototype tomorrow.

So, if nothing else, knitting is distracting me from stressing about things I have no control over. I’m doing everything I can to get things back to normal, but it’s so slow going. This is definitely the most prolific stretch of knitting that I’ve ever had!

A Little Pick Me Up

I am behind on reading blogs, which I intend to remedy shortly. Until then, there are a couple of things I want to mention. First, many thanks to Carol for reblogging my post about Passport Mitts! It’s my first reblogged post and I’m honored! Second, I’ll get on the Thursday sock bandwagon. It just might not coincide with any actual Thursdays. Third, have you all seen the slow fashion October things going on? If you haven’t, here is a good place to start. I love it! So many people are starting to think about where our clothes actually come from, and what changes need to be made on that front. I’ve even seen a post or two about the link between crafting and privilege which is something that’s been bothering me lately. More on that to come.

I’m still dealing with my injury and still not back to work. I have a lot of challenges on my plate at the moment, you could say. I’ve been coping remarkably well so far but yesterday our awesome nanny gave us her two weeks’ notice. There’s a lot of good reasons behind that and I don’t fault her for it one iota, but it does make everything just seem harder. Every little thing seems like the last straw except what choice is there? Just have to keep going. So, knitting is of course my refuge right now.

I noticed the other day that the top two rows of my projects on rav were monopolized by grey, black, blue and purple with not a warm shade to be seen. So I started casting on bright stuff: first, my second pair of Passport Mitts in orange Ella Rae Lace Merino DK. This pic is a little more orange-y than the actual color, but it gives you a decent idea:

IMG_4060Shortly after I took that photo I unfortunately ripped the whole thing out. I had accidentally cast on too many stitches. I’ll redo it, though. That still wasn’t enough color on my project page, so the next day I cast on for a third River District Toque, a pattern I tested for Rachel at welfordpurls. I’m using the same yarn as for the first two–malabrigo Rios in colorway Archangel. So far it’s turning out equally as luscious as the first two:

IMG_4066The actual color leans a little less toward magenta and a little more toward purple. For some reason that one is tricky to photograph. In any case, my project page is looking a little brighter. I was still feeling pretty down today. Then, I came home after picking my daughter up from school and found a little pick me up in my mailbox:

IMG_4061 IMG_4065Who wouldn’t feel better with a handful of squooshy madelinetosh yarn? Especially in such a luminous colorway (Cousteau)! With 225 new yards of Tosh DK, I know where my third pair of Passport Mitts is coming from! Everything seemed just a little bit better.

Aaaaaaaand then my daughter pooped on the floor. I think I’m going to need more yarn.

Drachenfels and Virtual Sock Club

One thing I love to do is sit at a coffee shop (and have a coffee), knit, chat, and just enjoy the scenery. Since I’ve been off work for a while, I’ve had the luxury of doing just that more than usual. Today I had time to go by myself and put in a little time on my Drachenfels:

IMG_3782You might notice the skyr in the corner. Well, my mom recently took a trip to Iceland where she was introduced to the stuff. While she was in town, we discovered that they carry it at Whole Foods so I was able to experience it, too. If you’ve never tried it, I would suggest you get your hands on some as it’s really, really lovely. It tastes something like a cross between extra thick and creamy Greek yogurt and cream cheese. I’m glad it’s available here but I’d still like to go to Iceland!

I was able to make even more progress this evening:

IMG_3783It’s hard to see in the pic, but I’ve finished the initial part with the dotted lines and started the alternating color garter ridges. I’m still trying to decide exactly how to make this a four color pattern instead of a three color one, but I still have some time before I have to have it all figured out.

I am really, really loving this project. It’s miles and miles of garter stitch, which gets a little tedious, but I’m so excited about how the colors are going to work together that I don’t really mind. I can’t wait to see how it looks on!

IMG_3776In the meantime, things are slowly getting better. I’m getting treatment for my back injury, getting all the paperwork in so that I can return to work, and feeling pretty good. There’s still a lot hanging over my head, but I’m coping. The knitting might be helping with that. A lot.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming virtual sock knitting get together with Maggienesium, MrsKristyHoll, pkcacciola and others! This will be my first attempt at socks, so I’ve been starting to think about what pattern would be good. I have a few books on sock knitting and some patterns in mind, so I’ll poke through what I have and pick something out. This will shock no one, but I have plenty of sock yarn on hand!

Taking Some Time for Me

Note: This post is pretty strong and a little scattered. I started to apologize for that when writing the end, but changed my mind. Instead, I will just give you this small warning: Radical self love ahead!

Since I am continuing to go through a difficult patch, I decided to put some positive energy into myself. This is counter to everything I unconsciously believe I should be doing. I “should” be somehow muscling through this. I “should” be using my extra time off work (long story) to do things around the house, for my family, for others, etc., etc. I “should” be doing something “productive” and lord knows self care is not generally considered productive. Or valuable. Especially coming from a female queer person.

That’s a lot of quotation marks.

But really, I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure (much of it self imposed) to do a lot of things that just aren’t coalescing. On the knitting front, that would probably be a shawl for the wifey’s mother. I love the wifey, I love her mother, I would love to knit her a shawl. But, I can’t get a good idea of what she would like and it’s just not coming together yet. And I have a lot of pressure on other fronts that is proving difficult to deal with. And I feel like I need still more support right now than I am able to get. And so, I think that taking that energy, that desire to do something nice for someone, and directing it inward is going to serve me best right now.

This is all a long way of saying that I cast on for my Drachenfels a couple of days ago. Actually, I cast on just a little after putting up my last post. My mom was still in town so she helped me look at color combinations and pick out something good. I looked over the pattern and determined it would be easy enough to modify on the fly. I’m using fingering weight yarn instead of sport weight but I want it to be bigger than the pattern says, so I wanted to make sure I’d be able to add some extra yardage. I balled up some skeins and got going.

I love it. I love the pattern, I love the color combinations, I love the yarn, I love that I’m modifying it to suit me. Mostly, I love that I’m doing something positive for myself, something that’s a big deal and that takes some dedication and commitment. This is symbolic for me. The other day, I realized that while life is in the process of handing me my ass, and while I am a person who struggles with depression, I am not particularly depressed right now. I am upset about what I am going through and it is hard to cope with. But, I have not succumbed to it. I have not ignored any of it in hopes that it would go away. I have been proactive about doing what I can to improve the situation. I have not stopped moving. I have not chosen to just go to sleep in avoidance. I am doing what I need to do, asking those around me for what I need, and generally acting in a way that is not consistent with depression. I am hurting, and the car accident last Thursday is only the icing on the cake. But, I am actively coping and actively asking for help. This is not how depression has played out for me in the past. This is just being dealt a shitty, shitty hand.

The other day, I spoke out and stood up for myself about these things, and about how I deserve support even though I am a person with depression. Casting on for this shawl feels the same. It is my way of saying, through knitting, that I am worth caring for, giving to, and being here on this planet. I will make myself an awesome shawl, damn it.

So yeah, that’s where I am right now. On to the knitting details! I am using Koigu KPM in charcoal, dark grey, spruce and light blue:

IMG_3776I have 3 or 4 skeins of each so should have a lot of yardage to work with. I might add in some yellow toward the end, too. I’ve gotten a good bit done so far:

IMG_3777I guess I didn’t include anything for scale, but that’s roughly 160 rows of knitting. Here’s a close up of the color detail:

IMG_3780The row that looks like a dotted green line is actually knitted only holding one color–much easier than it looks. This close up shows that the charcoal really is some grey, not all black, and is more of a semi-solid than solid (which I like, in this case). The other end of the shawl will be the dark grey against the light blue. I think it will look really cool. If I wasn’t already ready for summer to be over and colder weather to come, this would have done it! I can’t wait until it’s done and I can wear it pretty much all the time. I love everything about it because, at the end of the day, I love myself.

Thistle Blossom Beanie Test Knit Revealed

I had the pleasure of completing a test knit for the Thistle Blossom Beanie from B.Woolens. I finished it up today and the pattern is now available, so I can share some pics! The kidlet is napping now so I haven’t gotten a chance to try it on her yet, but here’s what I’ve got:

FullSizeRender 12 IMG_3741 IMG_3740 IMG_3739 IMG_3737I think the crown decreases are really pretty. The yarn I used is kind of ancient, but worked out well. It’s Tahki Yarns Lana (older version) in teal. It’s a bulky weight 100% wool. It’s a little scratchy but feels nice knitted up. The color is a little greener than most of the pics show. It used 89 yards for the child size. The pattern is also written for infant/toddler and adult sizes. Of course, I used my favorite cast on for ribbing: Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on. I think the finished hat is really cute, and is definitely a pattern I would knit again

I also finished my Scarf for my Sanity that I talked about in my last post:

IMG_3743IMG_3745 This project was very challenging to photograph as the brown keeps getting washed out. But, you can get the basic idea. This was supposed to be a stashbuster. I thought I had three skeins of the Knit One, Crochet Too Tartelette, but it turns out I had four. Two of the skeins were wound up into a ball together. I used about 3 and a quarter skeins. I wanted to use it all but it would have gotten way too long for a lightweight, mostly decorative scarf. I still don’t have an intended recipient for this one, so I think I will put it aside and then offer it around at Christmas. Maybe I can make a narrow drop stitch scarf with the last of it.

I am down to five WIPs! Definitely time to cast on something new! I am torn about what to start, though. On one hand, I would like to make something sort of mindless and easy. On the other hand, it might be nice to start something big that will be for me. I’m coping decently well but I’m still working my way through a very stressful quagmire. So, putting some effort into something special, for me, might be a good symbolic gesture. Maybe I will get started on that Drachenfels after all.

A brief update on my current situation: nothing is resolved, but I’m coping and doing what I need to do. I am getting treatment for my injuries from the car accident last week, and that is getting a little better. Thank you to everyone who read, commented, sent me support or good karma. I really appreciate every word and it all helps. Thank you!

Pushing Myself

This blog is mostly about knitting. However, it is also about my struggles with depression (and the role knitting sometimes plays in those struggles). I am having a rough time right now. My instinct is to not post, not say anything, wait until things get better. But, since one main reason for starting this blog was to challenge myself to actually talk about depression, I am choosing to do just that. I promise there will be some knitting too!

The full reasons behind my current troubles aren’t relevant here, and I can’t go into a ton of detail anyway. The basic gist is that I’m having difficulty at work due to both depression and the recent tragic, unexpected death of a coworker. For the past several days I’ve been having to jump through some pretty serious hoops to try to get things resolved. Two days ago, just before I took my mom to the airport, I got rear ended. The car damage is minimal but I’m having significant pain, and had to go through the process of following up on that. I was coping reasonably well up until the car accident, but that really threw me for a loop. It seems to me like I just can’t catch a break, like I can’t get enough support from my (small) network, and like I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Last night was really hard. I was feeling lonely and hopeless and didn’t have anyone else to turn to. I did something that I am proud of–I reached out to a group on ravelry for people with depression. It wasn’t much, just a post saying I needed more support and didn’t know how to get it. I got a couple of responses with some good advice and some kind words, which really helped. I think that even just posting, just admitting that I was struggling, went a long way to helping me start to feel better.

I wasn’t even feeling interested in knitting. But, I kind of forced myself to cast on for a simple project. I chose the Flying V scarf pattern from Exquisite Little Knits by Iris Schreier & Laurie J. Kimmelstiel. I’ve made many scarves from this pattern and love it. It’s simple but not too boring, versatile, and works well with many different yarns and gauges. I used Knit One, Crochet Too Tartelette from my Goodwill windfall. I was hoping that just going through the motions would help, and I was right. It feels good to be making something from the windfall yarn, and it feels good to be making something I know I will give away. The yarn isn’t really to my taste, but it works well with the pattern and I know someone will like it. So, if someone sees me working on it and admires it, I will know who it should go to. It’s just a low pressure, easy planning, rewarding project. And it is helping.

IMG_3707IMG_3708Thanks for “listening”!

Moving Forward–Quicksilver, Lovely New Yarn and Test Knitting

I am still plugging away at my Quicksilver. I have two mesh sections and one garter stitch section to go, and then it will join my collection of UFFOs (see this post for an explanation). I am hoping it will not stay there long as I’m very excited to see how it will transform once blocked. I’ve been looking at this brilliant thread on Ravelry and so am very excited about the blocking process. This project should benefit particularly because, even though the mesh isn’t really what I’d think of as “lace”, it’s still got a lot of stretch to it. And, the striped sections are in garter stitch, so there’s a lot of room to grow there. I’m hoping it will expand in size quite a bit!

IMG_3315

I revisited another skill that I’ve used in the past but not for a long while: dropping a stitch on purpose to fix an error in a previous row. I made it maybe ten rows without realizing I somehow purled one random stitch in a striped section. So, when I got to that spot, I dropped the stitch above it off the needle, pulled it out until I got to the purl stitch, and reworked up the ladders. It got a little fiddly and took a long time, but I know that it would have otherwise bothered me forever. So, I consider it time well spent. Also, it’s good experience!

I discussed in Quicksilver and the Importance of Good Knitting Needles how I was going to transition my shawl onto a longer pair of circs. Well, that didn’t end up working out. It was great to see the work spread out instead of completely scrunched up, but my gauge with the other needles was much looser. Even though the needles were the same size! I guess there was something about the texture that cause me to knit looser. So, I crammed it all back on the shorter ones. If I have a chance to buy another circ before I finish the shawl, I will…but it’s looking like that might not happen.

Other knitting news: I will be doing my first test knit! I’m really excited about it. More on that later! Also, I actually started sewing the ends in on my Old Shale kids blanket yesterday. That will be slow work but is necessary and totally worth it.

Yarn news: I got my hands on my very first Madelinetosh yarn yesterday. It is very, very pretty and I love it. I also got a couple of skeins of Malabrigo (not my first on that one, but only my second) which is also downright beautiful. You can see them both in my stash if you like. They are both squooshy and delicious and I want to knit them right away and save them forever, at the same time. Hopefully for my storage space, the knitting will win.

I can’t help sharing a glimpse here:

FullSizeRender 2

One aspect of depression (remember that? depression?) for me has always been procrastination. One great way I’ve found to procrastinate is to become thoroughly engrossed in something else. Well, sometimes knitting becomes that “something else”, as knitters everywhere will be shocked to learn. I have (had) several very important things to do for work and the deadline for many of them happens to be today. Over the past few weeks, I have done a good bit of knitting, but have not worked on these things at all. I am proud to report that I spent a good bit of this morning doing all those things due today. I took a break to knit a little and have some lunch…and maybe write this blog entry…and am determined to get back to work afterward and knock out the last outstanding thing that needs done. And then maybe do some more knitting!