Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Stress Eating

 What a crazy few days it has been!

I haven't made anywhere near as much progress on Anisah as I'd like.  Things have been tense around here and I just haven't had as much time to knit as I'd like.  And honestly, when I do have time to knit, I find myself stress eating chocolate covered almonds instead of knitting.

To begin with, the MIL is requiring more and more care and we can no longer leave her alone for a single minute.  It's exhausting!  But I'm not supposed to mention her here so that's all I'm going to say.  

Despite the craziness here in this house, I did get to spend a full day with Hayden at her house the other day.  But the reason for that visit is upsetting.  Hayden's parents were hit by a drunk driver the other night.  They had to go to the hospital but luckily they were treated and released.  Hayden's mom has a back injury and won't be able to pick Hayden up for a while so I went over to help out.  

Thankfully, Hayden was not in the car at the time of the accident.  Nor was their dog who'd been neutered that morning. Can you imagine the fiasco if the poor, drugged up dog had been with them?  Not to mention Hayden's parents probably would have ended up being arrested for assaulting the drunk guy if she had been in the car.  Luckily, a police officer witnessed the accident and they didn't even have to dial 911.  And of course, the drunk guy was a non-English speaking non-citizen without the proper paperwork. And he was so drunk the investigating officer thinks he was passed out when he hit them.  Nice. 

Needless to say, I've been stress eating rather than knitting.  But I have been knitting some and I've knit enough rows that I've had to add a ten's place marker to my chain row counter.  I'm weirdly excited by that.

And now I'm off to eat plain chocolate chips because I'm out of chocolate covered almonds and there's no other chocolate in the house. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sunday Supper - Spinach and White Bean Soup

Okay, today's Super Bowl Sunday Supper may not be traditionally Super Bowl-ish but (1) today's weather is gross, (2) Sarah and I take turns cooking and it's my turn tonight, (3) I saw canned white beans in the grocery store and for absolutely no reason, I felt the need to buy some and (4) when I Googled February soups, Spinach and White Bean soup popped up.  I felt it was a sign.

So yeah, we're going non traditional this year.  And besides, this year's Super Bowl, with cardboard people filling the stands, will be fairly non traditional too.  It's a theme.

Oh, by the way, the recipe for this spinach and white bean soup comes from Damn Delicious.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Anisah and Rita Mae

Ya'll just don't know how much I appreciate all the positive knitting mojo you sent my way the other day.  It was the strangest, most welcome thing.  One minute I'm sitting there, staring at my new knitting toy with absolutely no desire to knit, then my phone starts dinging with incoming email/blog comment notifications.  I opened u[p the comments, read them, and as I finished reading the last one, Anisah popped into my head and my knitting mojo was suddenly back. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

There's a lot going on in that photo.  Let me explain.

During last fall's yarn crawl, I stumbled across Rita Mae Yarns.  Cortni, the dyer was having a trunk show and I instantly fell in love with her yarns. Her colors are just... well, fantastic doesn't even begin to describe them.  As I recall, it was somewhat painful to choose between them.  I considered knocking her down, grabbing an armful of yarn and running.  I'm fairly sure I could have taken her.  But there were an awful lot of witnesses and I don't really run anymore so... 

Cortni had a sample Anisah on display and it was my undoing.  I had to knit myself one.  Just HAD to!  Of course, as those things go, the yarn went into the stash pile as soon as I got home, but I did write it down on my Must Knit list first.

So anyway, after getting my knitting mojo back, I dug out the yarn and found the pattern and cast on.  Well, first, I wound the yarn into usable skeins.  Oh. My. Goodness!  The yarn (merino DK) is SO unbelievably soft. It is an absolute delight to knit with and glides through my fingers almost as though it's been greased. It's superwash so I'm fairly certain it doesn't still contain lanolin but it just feels so good!  And the color!  I'm using Blue Steel and as weird as it sounds to say gray is beautiful, it is The most beautiful deep slate gray I think I've ever seen.  There's just enough color fluctuation to make the yarn appear to almost shine.  I am SO in love with this yarn!

There's just one slight problem.  That is how I hold my working yarn.

And that is my hand after knitting only a few rows.

And there are my knitting needles that were the same color as the cable needle when I started Anisah.  Yes, the dye is seriously rubbing off.  I'm going to have to be careful not to wear anything white while I knit with this yarn.  Hopefully once the shawl is finished, a good soaking or two (or five) will fix it.  I've had other yarns dye my needles but never so quickly and I've never had it dye my hands before.

But despite the dye issue, I still LOVE this yarn!  Oh, and see that pile of yarn under those needles in that last photo?  That's not a tangle of yarn I'm knitting with.  That is the pile of strings that were tied around the three skeins before I wound them.  The tie job was quite impressive!  I've never seen yarn so well tied before.  The skeins weren't huge - they are only 250 yards each - but they were each tied six times.  There is something very special about a well tied, non-tangled skein.

Okay, so let's move past the glorious yarn.  Next, the pattern.  Anisah is awesome!  The lace and cable keep you interested, but the garter section allows you to make quick progress.  And then there's the pattern's directions.  They are so well written and both graphs and written directions are provided.  The designer, Dee O'Keefe, goes into lots of detail regarding modifying the shawl's size and/or using different weight yarns and she even explains a few little oddities that you might be concerned about in the beginning.  For example, in the top photo, do you see that weird stockinette lump that's formed near the point of the shawl?  She explains that that is normal and that it will block out.  It's nice to know that the weird lump is supposed to be there.  At least for now.

And last, but definitely not least, did you see my new toy?  I love my new chain row counter from Northern Swan Creations almost as much as I love this yarn.  And you know if I love something as much as I love yarn, I really love it!  In fact, I love it so much, I've already ordered another one in a smaller size.  

Have you seen these chain row counters?  The concept is just amazing!  The loops are numbered zero through nine and as you knit rows, you adjust the loop so that it is always on the row number you are on.  And since it also acts as a stitch marker, there's none of that getting to the end of the row and trying to remember to adjust your row counter.  You simply make the adjustment as you reach the chain.  

But it only has zero through nine.  What happens if you have ten rows you ask?  You simply put a marker on the one loop.  And when you reach twenty rows, you move that marker to the two.  

This chain row counter is so versatile!  They are advertised as being able to count up through 99 rows, but really, to count more than that, you could simply add another marker to indicate the hundred's place.  And, while I use mine to count rows, I also have a marker on the 7th loop to remind me to cable on that row.  I also have a third marker on the 4th loop to remind me which chart I'm on.  As long as you can keep up with what the different markers mean, you could add zillions of them!  And yes, I know myself.  I've already made a legend for what my different markers mean in case I ever set the project down for a while and forget what they mean.

Chain row counters are just so genius you must get one if you do any kind of knitting where you have to count rows.  As I said, I've already ordered a second one in a smaller size to hug smaller needles a little better, and just so that I can have two different projects going at once, and, I will probably order a few more for knitter friends' Christmas gifts next year.  These row counters really are the best thing since hand dyed yarn!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Three on Thursday - Quick Knits for Valentines

Thank you all for the wonderfully positive knitting and puzzle mojo you sent my way.  After reading your comments, I quickly finished the puzzle and pulled out a box of yarn and started a new project.  I'll show you the new shawl tomorrow but for now, I wanted to give back and share a little Valentine's knitting mojo with you.  So, for today's Three on Thursday, we have three quick to knit Valentines projects.

First up, and probably most difficult of the three, Valentine Plaids Hats from Cassandra May.  I just may have to knit all three of these for Hayden.  She's growing like a weed though so I better hurry!  The patterns are designed for newborn up to toddler size.

Or how about a cowl for the grown-ups?  Sweet Valentine Cowl, designed by Ambah O'Brien, is written for two sizes - a long and a short version.  I really like this one because I don't think I'd really notice the hearts if the cowl wasn't knit in traditional Valentines' colors.  Honestly, and no offense to the designer, I see lily pad leaves rather than hearts.  But that's probably because I've been reading a lot of fish pond/aquarium books lately and they are on my mind.  Whether they are intended to be hearts or lily pads, I like this design.

And, last but not least, a Valentines Dishcloth from Cecilia Fameli.  This pattern would be great for those of you (and most likely me) who have procrastinated until the 13th and are in a sudden Valentines Day panic.  Although it's technically a dishcloth, it could easily be used as a special wash cloth for the little one in your life.  Or knit it in manly colors for that boy child who's living on his own and may need a little motivation to wash his dishes. 

Thanks again for sending such an outpouring of knitting mojo my way.  You wouldn't believe how much it helped and I hope one of these patterns returns the favor.  I also hope you'll join me over at Carole's for today's Three on Thursday link up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

I'm scared!

I'm kind of scared.

I seem to have lost my knitting mojo.

I can't remember ever loosing my knitting mojo before.  Yes, there have been times when I didn't feel like finishing the piece I was knitting.  And there have been plenty of times where I had trouble starting a new project because I couldn't choose which project and/or yarn to knit. And there have even been times when I wasn't happy with a project I'd chosen and frogged it before I even really got going. But I don't think I've ever just not felt like knitting before.  At least not since I laid down all other crafts and began knitting obsessively 28 years ago.

I'm really kinda scared!

I'm so not into knitting at the moment, I didn't even go to the yarn shop to stock up on yarn and new patterns before the big snow storm hit.

When the storm hit, instead of curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and my knitting, I went for a walk instead.  

(Is there anything more cold and desolate than train tracks in the snow?)

When I got home from my walk, I curled up with a book instead of my knitting.

And when I finished my book, I fought with this %#$@$% puzzle some more.  Let me just say, if you are into puzzles, unless you enjoy pain and frustration, do NOT buy this one with a picture of a bunch of hillbillies camping in what looks like a wheat field with a creek running through it.  Normally, this size puzzle takes me three or four days, tops.  But this one?  This one I've been struggling with for twelve days.  Good grief!!  The wheat field part was bad enough but that sky!  Oh. My. Goodness!  The last time I sat down to work on it, it took me almost two hours to place six pieces!  The whole sky is night sky and bare, overlapping branches.  It's a nightmare!

Perhaps my puzzle frustration is affecting my knitting mojo.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  It's good in the sense that when I finish the puzzle, my knitting mojo will hopefully come back.... But at the rate I'm going, I may not finish this ^%&$%^$^ puzzle until the spring of 2023.

I'm really kinda scared!  Please, if you have any extra knitting mojo, send me some!