Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Skipping Fall Fever

This is about the time of year fall fever hits me hard.  And I mean, HARD!  Normally it hits the moment the lightshow from the last firework fades from the night sky on July 4th.  I instantly go from being all about bathing suits and flip-flops to wanting to build a fire, wear a sweater, drink hot spiced tea and eat pumpkin muffins.  

And while I have already had a few days of fall fever this summer, for the most part, I'm skipping fall and going straight to Christmas apparently.

I finished the second Christmas wreath needlepoint (here's the first) and have picked out the colors for the third one.  My plan all along has been to do one per year but I finished that second one so quickly and needlepoint is a good, mostly mindless, not too hot in your lap, summer project.  So...

The canvas is all taped up and the yarns are chosen.  Now I just need to remember where I put my needlepoint needles.  Argh!

Somebody, somebody much smarter than I, needs to invent a needle roomba/robot that automatically returns your knitting and sewing needles to their proper storage containers when you finish a project.  Can you imagine how much money that invention would make?  I know I'd pay a fortune for one!


Sorry, but prepare yourself for lots of Christmas needlepoint photos in the future.

Oh, and I'm still using Palette yarns to stitch the needlepoints.  I'm also using my Knit Picks blocking mats and pins to block the needlepoint.  I don't stitch on a frame so the finished canvas is always all wonky.  Pinning it into submission and a spritz or two of water always takes care of that though.  

And by the way, Knit Picks is currently having their summer sale.  Tools are on sale throughout the sale, worsted yarns are on sale this week and their DK's will be on sale next week.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 25, 2021

How to Knit a Rectangle

 Thank you guys so much!  

First of all, I've been remiss in telling you how much I appreciate the warm welcome back and specially the love and support that came my way while I was having my 'dark time.'  Many of you got in touch to make sure I was okay and I very much appreciated it.  I'm also touched by how many of you immediately welcomed me back into your homes when I began blogging again. It means the world to me.  

I also appreciated all the positive comments on my summer cotton top.  You know, the one made out of rectangles.

Many of you asked me for pattern/design details so, here you go:

But hopefully I can describe what I did a little more clearly in hopes that you don't have quite so many scratched out numbers.

1.  Gather your yarn, needles and knit a gauge swatch.  If you can create an accurate gauge swatch, it would be tremendously helpful.  If you can't/don't, you may find yourself doing steps 2 through 5 a second time.  Maybe even a third.

2. Decide how big your sweater needs to be and calculate how many stitches you'll need.  If your gauge swatch says you get 4 stitches to the inch and you want a 40 inch sweater, you'll need 160 stitches over all for example.  (4 x 40 = 160)  If you are of average proportions, you'll need to divide that number in half to get your front and back numbers.  (160/2 = 80)  If you happen to be busty or perhaps your belly  pooches out more than your back flab...  You may want to adjust your numbers slightly.  For example, in my case, I cast on 95 stitches for the back and 100 for the front.

3.  Determine how big to make the arm holes.  You could use a tape measure to measure from the top of your shoulder to your underarm, or you can take the easy way out and measure a favorite shirt from shoulder seam to underarm seam.   You can also take your measurements to determine how long you will want your top, or you can go the easy route there too and simply try it on occasionally as you knit.

4..  Now, you've got your yarn, needles and the number of stitches you'll need for the back half of the top so cast those stitches on.  Any cast-on method should work.  

5. Knitting flat (back and forth, not in the round) garter stitch until you reach that armhole measurement then put these stitches on a holder.

6.  Now, repeat steps 4 and 5 for the front but don't put the stitches onto a holder.  I counted my garter ridges to make sure the two pieces were the same length but again, if you are overly busty or hunched back... you might want to make small adjustments to the lengths.

7.  It's time to join the front and back together and knit in the round.  I put a marker at the first underarm join but it's not mandatory.  If for no other reason, I like to have the marker when I'm knitting stockinette in the round so that I know I'm making progress each time I come to it.

8.  Keep knitting around and around and around.  When you get that, "It's bound to be long enough by now!" feeling, simply pin the shoulder seams together and try it on.  Then go knit some more because you know it's not long enough yet.

9.  Once the top is an inch or two from being long enough, revert back to knitting garter stitch (knit a row, purl a row) to make up that extra inch or two and bind off.  Hate purling?  Do as I did and wrap and turn at the end of the round and knit back to the beginning.  Wrap and turn again, knit around to the marker, wrap and turn and....just keep going until it's long enough.

10. With the shoulder seams pinned, try the top on again.  This time, move the pins to mark where you want the shoulder seam to stop and the neck hole to begin.  I used clothes pins for this because it was easier than trying to pin and unpin safety pins.  Once marked, sew up those shoulder seams.

11.  If your cast-on stitches are nice and pretty, you can consider the top finished.  If not, knit an icord border around the neck and arm holes.

12.  Weave in those ends and now you really are finished!

And of course, please, make your top your own!  Add a cable running down the front - or all around for that matter!  Use a decorative stitch instead of plain garter and stockinette. Knit the entire front and back seperately and seam the sides instead of knitting the body in the round.  I used garter and stockinette because I wanted it to be 100% mindless and fast.  And hey - if you're feeling adventurous, instead of icording the armholes, pick up those stitches and knit some sleeves!  You could even add a collar if you wanted to.  

Just make it your own!  And of course, send me a photo when you're done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

It fits!

I can't say I love the look of those horizontal stripes on me, but my patternless cotton top is finished and it fits!

I'm not sure which is worse - the horribly pixilated photo above or the one below where I look like I'm trying to catch bugs in my mouth. 

You also have to pardon the hair.  It was basically 1,000 degrees and pretty close to 1,000 percent humidity and well, remember those Wham bangs I accidentally got last year?  They are growing out.  Very, very slowly.  

Whatever.  The sweater/top fits, it's wearable and it's very comfortable.  Again, I'm not thrilled with what those stripes do to my girlish figure but it fits and I'm pretty amazed by that.  

I didn't have a pattern but I remembered knitting rectangles and sewing them together to make vests back in the '80's when I was young and skinny.  And a vest is really just a sleeveless top and I wanted to knit a sleeveless summer top and in my limited Ravelry search, I didn't find any patterns that struck my fancy.  I decided to return to my '80's style of knitting.

I actually made a gauge swatch and did the math and cast on the required number of stitches.  And I knit and I knit and I knit then I put those stitches on a holder and started over and knit and knit and knit then I joined the two peices together and knit in the round until it was almost long enough.  I knit a few rows of garter to finish it off and to tie back in to the chest area and then I bound off.  

Next I icorded the neck then decided I'd better try it on before I did the armholes.  I sure am glad I did because those holes were way too big and my boobs were pretty much hanging out the arm holes.  I simply mattress stitched a couple of inches up from the bottom of the arm hole then did the icord.  

And presto-magic!  I have a new cotton top for less than $12.00!

The yarn I used is Yarn Bee's Sugarwheel Cotton which I'd bought on sale at Hobby Lobby.  I bought four skeins but I barely made a dent in the third.  I see a LOT of blue and green dish/face cloths in my future!

Now, the big question.  How will a less than $12.00 hand knit cotton top hold up in the wash?  We will see soon.  Today is laundry day.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Catching Up

 Hey, look at me - two posts in one week!  WooHoo!

Are you a Gilmore Girls fan?  You know how Luke had a "Dark Day"?  I'm referring to my time away as my Dark Time.  And I'm still trying to catch you up on a few happenings.

While I was at Hobby Lobby buying yarn for all those wash/dish clothes I knit, I also picked up a few skeins of Yarn Bee's Sugarwheel Cotton.  The colorway is called Gourmet Garnish but I think it should be named Key West Waters.  Whatever its name, I adore the colors and knit myself a simple summer tank top with it.  I didn't use a pattern, I basically just knit rectangles and connected them.  Except something went wrong with the armholes and well, my boobs sort of hang out.  I need to fix that before I photograph it.  And sadly, the top has been tossed in the "you pissed me off" pile over in the corner.  One day....

I have to say, I was extremely happy with the Sugarwheel Cotton yarn.  I generally don't enjoy knitting with cotton but this stuff was wonderful to work with.  It comes in a bunch of different colors, both solids and self striping, it's incredibly soft, incredibly inexpensive, and I kinda want to go back and get more of every color.

One reason I have been able to get so much stitching done lately is because I'm not swimming.  Our pool pump died and the replacement is taking FOREVER to arrive.  I'm not overly stressed about it though because it keeps raining and thunder storming.  I think I may be enjoying hanging out under the deck's roof, snuggled up in a blanket and stitching while the wind blows and the cold rain falls more than I would be enjoying swimming!

Gasp!  Did I really just say that??  Yes, I did!  I think I may not be completely over my Dark Time yet because my mental state sure seems to still be affected!

Obviously I haven't gotten far, but I did cast on for a new shawl.  No pattern, just a simple triangular thing made with yarn over shaping on the edges and in the center.  I'm knitting it with I'm Here For It from Trilogy Yarns.  I bought the yarn with my birthday coupon from Center of the Yarniverse.  The moment I saw it, I new I had to knit with it.  The yarn is a merino/silk blend and the colorway reminds me of a very rusted red, white and blue metal sign.  I'm hoping I can finish the shawl in time to wear it on July 4th.  Not that I will wear it.  It's likely to be 100 degrees on July 4th.  But I'd like to be able to wear it if I wanted to.  But, if it doesn't get knit up in time, no big woop.  I'll get over my obsession with it looking like a rusty flag and think of it more as fall colored rusts and grays.  In whatever season I wear it, I love the colors and it's a dream to knit with.

We are still living in my my mother-in-law's house and when she moved into the memory care facility last month, her POA had our TV service disconnected and we haven't bothered to get our own service yet.  So we've been TV-less for over a month now.  It was extremely difficult at first but I've gotten used to it now.  Now, instead of watching TV at night, I watch this frog.  I sit, knitting, stitching or potholder-ing (that's a word, right??) at a table in front of a window and this frog - I swear it's the same one every night - hangs out on the window and catches the bugs that come to the light.  It can be very startling when he jumps and thuds into the window glass and the violence of it all is pretty much like watching TV.  

And while we're on the subject of nature at my window.... This dragonfly came for a visit the other day.  Normally we are overrun with brilliant green ones, but this year we have this type.  I've seen a few green ones, but no where near as many as these.  I wonder why that is.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

I'm back!

 I'm back!  I hope.  πŸ˜€

I really don't even know where or how to start explaining where I've been.  Honestly, I think I had a miniature nervous breakdown and I went to a pretty dark place for a while.  The mother-in-law's Alzheimer's got to be WAY more than I could handle.  We weren't safe with her and she wasn't safe with us.  We were all beyond burned out from trying to care for her but we were trapped and had no other option.  

If you've ever provided 24 hour, in-home care for an advanced Alzheimer's patient, you understand.  If you haven't, well, you'll never truly understand.  You just can't.  The life you lead caring for someone with Alzheimer's is just beyond description.  Things happen that are just incomprehensible.  Again, if you've 'been there, done that,' you'll understand.  If not, well, I sincerely hope you never do.

Anyway, we were finally able to get her into a very nice memory care facility back in May and I've been detoxing ever since.  And yes, detoxing pretty much means sitting on my butt, stitching.  I can't believe how much better I feel now.  I knew I was struggling before but I didn't realize just how badly until she was no longer in the house.  That sounds horrible but...

So, what happy things have been happening since I last posted?

I finished the Anisah shawl but never photographed it before putting it away for the summer.  I am happy to report that after a few soakings, the yarn stopped bleeding.  The shawl did loose a little color but I'm still very happy with it.

Hayden had her first birthday party.  She was so funny.  She had her own cake and was a little confused by it at first but once she realized she wasn't going to get scolded for making a mess and playing with her food... She Loved it!  All I can say is, I am SO glad the party wasn't at my house and I didn't have to clean up all that smashed cake!

Next, I finished an Adult Modular Cardigan.  No decent photos of that one either.  But despite the lack of photos, I LOVE this design!  It was so simple to knit even my stressed out/overwhelmed brain had no trouble with it.  The only hitch is that it's all garter stitch so when you are making one for my big size and really, it's more of a jacket than a cardigan, well, it's a LOT of garter.  But it was fantastic TV watching/reading, stress free knitting.  And the finished product fits perfectly And, the way the mitered square runs across my chest makes me look like I have some boobs.  Yay!

The next knitting project was a shawl with yarn from Organized Chaos.  Again, no photos.  We have a roof leak and it started raining IN my room.  I moved a bunch of stuff, including my mannequin wearing the finished shawl, into another non-rainy room and well, I keep forgetting it's there.  Out of sight, out of mind, you know.  But, Organized Chaos yarns are totally unforgettable.  If you aren't familiar with them, you should definitely check out her shop.  I'm not an affiliate or anything, just love Heather's yarns.  And to be honest, I met Heather at a trunk show and have been sort of fan-girling ever since.

I knit approximately 1,000 wash clothes and made almost as many potholders.

Okay, so maybe I didn't really make 1,000 but I made a lot.  Thank goodness I have an Etsy shop.

Remember making woven potholders on a plastic loom as a child?  Well, these are larger.  The finished potholder is more trivet sized at 8 - 8.5 inches.  I LOVE them!  And I can NOT stop making them!  The simplicity, the nostalgia, the improved loom construction and the pretty colors have been a huge help with my destressing process.  If you are looking for a new obsession, check out Harrisville Designs.  A word of warning for the craft-minded though...  They also sell yarn and weaving supplies.

Hayden LOVES riding on the back of her parents' bike.  I find it odd though because she HATES riding toys.  She screams bloody murder if you put her on her hobby or rocking horse, her baby tricycle or her little ride-on jeep thing.  Maybe she just feels safe behind Mom and Dad.

Remember the Christmas wreath needlepoint I did last year?  I started another.  And I'm almost finished!  I cannot believe how fast this project has gone.  Actually, I can because my arm is unbelievably sore from the repetitive motion of pulling the needle and thread through all those stitches.  How pathetic is it that my arm is sore, sore like I've done 500 reps of lifting 200 LB weights at the gym.  Not that I have any idea how sore I'd be from doing that.  But my arm is sore.  So sore I've begun having to not needlepoint every other day.  But I so desperately want to get this finished and checked off the list. By the way, if you are curious, I am once again using Palette yarns.  I can't get over how well Palette works for needlepointing and best of all, it's inexpensive and comes in every color imaginable.

And one last photo of Hayden...

We were at Red Lobster for dinner the other night and she got mad when she was told she couldn't have another crab cake.  She was good as gold though.  She never cried or fussed or squealed or did normal baby things that annoy the other diners.  But damn if she can't make herself understood with her facial expressions!

Well, that catches us up to a week or two ago.  Since this post has been so long, I think I'll save the last week or so of crafty happenings for the next post.

Speaking of next posts, I'm not sure when that will be.  I want to get back into a regular posting schedule but I'm still being gentle with myself.  Or maybe I'm making excuses to do nothing but sit on my butt and stitch all day.  That very well could be.  I have to admit, I have been very much enjoying my destressing process.  But Mike gave me six weeks to detox/destress and then I'm expected to look for a job. So, while I destress from the MIL, I am stressing over getting my Etsy shop back up and running. I'd pretty much abandoned it for a few years.  But, I would SO much prefer to be an Etsy seller rather than a worker-bee.  If you know anyone who needs a giant, 8" loom woven potholder, please, send them my way.  😁

Unitl next time, Happy Stitching!