The yarn diet is over and I blame the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop for knocking me off the wagon. But seriously, there was no way I was getting out of this event without indulging.
My friend and I started planning this a year ago, so I was prepared with a yarn budget. After making the drive up, we started out on the Hop, tentatively planning on hitting all 17 stores but prepared not to be sad if we didn’t. Because let’s face it…17 stores is a lot of yarn shopping. One of our first stops, however, was the local tea shop, where I picked up some loose leaf tea that tastes delightful and makes me happy.
On the first day, we hit 4 stores, and considering we didn’t start until the afternoon, that was pretty good. Especially because it was snowing. Snow in Kansas makes me want to hide and avoid the roads. Snow in Minnesota felt normal, and I think I went into Michigan driver mode.
Over the course of the weekend, we hit all 17 stores, which scored us a set of 17 stitch markers and a cute holder. We saw some beautiful scenery and petted some delightful yarn. To give you an idea of how the hop works, you buy either an EZ pass or a VIP pass with the proceeds going to the local food pantry. This passport is stamped at each store, where you’re given your marker. At the end, if you fill out the whole thing, you turn it in for a chance at a drawing.
At each store, you can also enter a drawing, and along with the stitch marker, you get a free pattern that uses the store’s specialty Hop yarn. You can buy the yarn if you want.
I picked up quite a few of the specialty yarns. I also found some other delicious yarn that I have to relegate to patterns, but it’s nice to already have some of my yarn paired with patterns. I’ve already wound one of the specialty skeins, so if I can get through the frustrating hat I’m currently working, I’ll be casting on for that.
We had a blast yarn shopping and hanging in the hotel room and eating at new places. By Saturday we were pretty tired and ready to get back to reality, but it was a great time. Now to work on using up this yarn and more stash yarn in preparation for next year.
Considering all the knitting I’ve been doing lately, it was fitting that the author of this novella reached out to me to give it a read. Magical knitting is a pretty legit premise, and this was a short but fun read. According to Goodreads, this releases on May 15th,2015, so be on the lookout. I’ll be watching out for more stories in this series, as this is one of the few knitting themed fiction stories I’ve truly enjoyed.
I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In theory, I should love novels about knitting because I love novels and I love knitting. However, many of the works I’ve read where knitting was featured were not great. I went into the reading of this novella with a hopeful, but critical eye.
Both technically and thematically, this short work was refreshing. It wasn’t just about knitting…it was about magical knitting. While the potential for campiness was there, the author delivered well without dosing the story in cheese.
The basis of this novella is a family granted the power to knit magic with their needles…The Touch of the Moon. While the main character, Gabby, doesn’t have the power, her sister does. Unfortunately, in her sister’s quest to make money with the gift, she’s sold her magical work to a buyer who could use it to cause a catastrophe. To stop this from happening, Gabby and her friend Frank set off to destroy the works before this can happen.
The main setting of the story was fun, as the characters travel to a fantastical underground club where strange creatures are found as well as the mysterious customer who wants to use the power of the knitted tapestries to further his own means.
The plot was solid, the characters were interesting and quirky, and I really enjoyed the premise of magical knitting. There were a few places where I got lost in the action, but overall, the story flowed well.
Though this was a novella, the author left it open for more stories, and I look forward to reading them.
As happens, if I’m really lazy one day of the weekend, I tend to actually get out and do things on the other. While I completely spaced on having my car looked at, I did venture out to do Sunday afternoon fun things.
That wasn’t before finishing up season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can we talk about that show for a second? I wasn’t sold when we first started watching it. The first few episodes were kind of boring, but once the show found its pace, it was amazing! After I got home from being social, we started season 2 and I got punched right in the feels. I’m still hurting a little bit.
First outing of the day was seeing Fox on the Fairway at the Manhattan Arts Center. Unlike the last few shows I’ve seen there, I didn’t have the background on this story. One of my job perks is that the owner of the company will often buy tickets for employees (our company is a sponsor). I love live theater, so I jumped at the chance to go.
I have to give kudos to the MAC staff for hooking me up with a more comfortable chair. Their normal ones are super narrow, and not wide-bottom comfortable. In the past, I probably would have been too shy to say anything, but age is great for no longer really caring and valuing comfort over being afraid to just say “My butt needs a bigger chair.” So I did and no one was weird about it. They got me a comfy one right away and even thanked me for letting them know.
As for the play itself, it was hilarious. The actors were spot on, the story was really fun, and being that it was a Sunday production, the theater wasn’t super crowded, so I didn’t feel claustrophobic.
From there, I went to the weekly Stitch ‘n’ Bitch gathering, which was held at Panera this week. I went early to meet up with a fellow knitter who was giving me a ball and swift winder lesson and winding up a couple skeins of alpaca for me for my next project. Recently I got it in my head that I need these tools, so I wanted to see how they worked and get some feedback on good brands. I kept waffling over the weekend about buying them, but I didn’t order anything yet. I think I’m going to wait for our new yarn store to open and I’m going to see if I can purchase one through them. I’ll feel good about keeping it local, and in this case, I’d like to see what I’m buying beforehand.
We did have a bit of a yarntastrophe, but I suppose that’s how it goes sometimes. We finally detangled and still got some quality knitting time, though I’m a bum and still haven’t taken any pictures of my work in progress to share.
Not much got done in the way of housework this weekend, but I have a free Monday night tomorrow, so after grocery shopping…which I desperately need to force myself to do…I’ll do a little bit of cleaning and prepping for the rest of the week.
On that note, I’m off to bed. Onward to the Monday!
Last week was a busy and exhausting week. My natural tendency to pull away from people showed itself, and yet I pushed through it to be social. Some of that social interaction wore me down. Most of it was fun though.
In gaming, my halfling rogue was turned into a vampire, which made me sad. My werewolf saw combat, which frustrated me (not the story so much as the game mechanics). I’m also kind of a sore loser, even though that really shouldn’t apply to this sort of gaming.
I also played a game called Superfight and found out that it’s tough to beat someone or something that has been turned into a poltergeist.
In knitting, I realized I really need to learn to read a pattern better. I read the length instructions for a hat wrong and ran out of yarn. I figured I’d just use some matching scrap, but it wasn’t working for me, so I completely fudged the end of the hat. I suppose it doesn’t look horrible, but it drives me nuts because the original pattern would have been super cool looking. I’m going to try that one again. Some day.
Thursday was the highlight day of the week.
1. I paid off all my credit cards. Doing this involved going against what many a financial advisor would advise. I cashed out my previous 401k. It wasn’t a decision I made quickly or easily, but when it came down to it, I wanted to free up money to comfortably pay Jon’s student loans each month. I’m glad I did it, even if it means pushing retirement back.
2. We bought new games. What better way to celebrate financial responsibility than to go out and spend more money. I have no regrets. We picked up Smallworld: Underground and Betrayal at House on the Hill from our new game store. They were 2 games we’ve been wanting and we know they’ll see play.
3. I had my 90-day evaluation at work. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been there for 90 days. Most of the time, I feel like I just started. The eval was good. I’m right where I should be. I was fairly stressy about a week ago with regards to my speed and quality, but at the urging of my boss, I stopped stressing and all has been well since.
The weekend has been lazy enough to offset the . Snow and cold kept me inside watching movies, listening to podcasts, and knitting like a maniac. I finished an easy project and then moved on to a not so easy project. Not sure if that was a great idea considering I’ve been knitting more in social situations, but I realize I do have the power to just start a different, easier project.
Onward to finish off the weekend and prepare for the inevitability of Monday.
Part of this whole knitting process has been to pare down my stash, but the disorganization of it was driving me crazy. I didn’t know what I had and was blindly grabbing when starting a project. Also, I’m not well-versed in textures. I know what worsted and fingering weight are, but I was a little unclear on sport and DK, and the difference between chunky and bulky when it came to matching yarn with a pattern.
On Saturday night, I finally pulled my stash out to organize and catalog everything in my Ravelry account. I haven’t utilized Ravelry much in the past, but it occurred to me that if I had a record of all my yarn, figuring out what to knit would be a whole lot easier.
When I first piled it on the bed, the project seemed daunting. I realized that my stash is nowhere near as big as those of some knitters. Mine fits in my closet, and I know people who have whole rooms dedicated to their stash. But I’ve developed a minor aversion to clutter, so even this little bit feels like it needs to be used.
The process really didn’t take as long as I thought it would. I found a process that worked for me, which included pulling 5 skeins at a time, taking pictures, logging them into Ravelry, then fitting them into one of my 2 bins. Some of the yarn, like the the scraps and acrylics, went into their own plastic bags and then into a cloth bag I had available.
Talk about feeling accomplished. The whole process took me about 3 hours, but there was also some time I spent winding some yarn, which, in hindsight, I probably didn’t need to do (and also triggered the idea that perhaps I could use a swift and ball winder sometime in the future). The challenge now will be to find projects to knit with the scrap yarn that I didn’t catalog, as I only put yarn I had information for in the Ravelry stash.
My organization project also yielded a bittersweet moment. Going through my stuff meant finally pulling out an afghan my grandmother started before she passed away. The partially finished granny square project and remaining yarn had been given to me, but I’d stored it away. At the time, the loss of my grandma was still tender, and I wasn’t ready to work on this.
It’s been several years since she passed, but strangely enough, the afghan still smelled like her perfume. It brought back some good memories, but it also made me really sad and brought to the forefront how much I miss her and my grandfather. But now that the hard part of facing the project is over, it’s now in my plans to finish it up and keep it as a reminder of her.
I’m setting a stash goal for the year. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have all of my stash pared down to just the 2 tubs (no bags), and that includes anything I pick up at yarn hops and our new yarn store, which I’ll talk more about after it opens up. Let’s hope my current knitting frenzy evens out but keeps steady so I can use up some of that yarn.
The past few Sundays have been lazy. I haven’t felt too guilty about it, but some weekends it’s nice to get something accomplished. Yesterday I managed to get things done around the apartment, but we never ventured out, which is kind of silly considering it was nice yesterday and today was super cold. But sometimes things just work out that way.
A smallish chunk of time was spent at work today making up hours ahead of time for volunteer meetings I have this week. One would think working on your day off would be rough, but not so much because I find my job fun most days. Which doesn’t mean Monday will be easy, because it never is, but at least I can relax this week when it comes to making up time.
I called my brother to wish him a happy birthday. I’ve officially had a little brother for 32 years. Time flies.
I went to Stitch n’ Bitch tonight. I took a bit of a hiatus for a few months because I wasn’t knitting at all, but I’m getting my groove back. Our location rotates, so tonight we were at Hastings Hardback Cafe which is kind of my go-to location for everything because I like their coffee and I’m comfortable there. And wouldn’t you know it…I finished a project.
I’d originally set out to knit this one for my nephew, but honestly? I think I really like it for myself. I don’t wear hats well, but I think this one looks kind of cute and it’s comfy on my head. So he’ll get the next one I do, which I went ahead and cast on for this evening. I’d better prepare myself…8 1/2 inches of 2 by 2 ribbing is coming.
I’m finishing off the night with some blogging and movies, including The Dark Crystal and Zoolander, though I probably won’t finish Zoolander because I’m getting sleepy. But I’ve seen it about 22 times, so no biggie.
You might be wondering why I’m blogging all of a sudden after going for months with nothing. I have no answer. I go with what I’m feeling and for some reason, I was in the mood to blog tonight. I even have a few scheduled for the next couple days…so yay again for Sunday productivity!
So I’m not really furious when I knit. In fact, I’ve been pretty even keeled lately, if not just slightly depressed due to winter weather and snow and cold, but that’s nothing new. As for any sort of anger or rage, that’s been pretty non-existent for a few months now. I get annoyed by things, but I made some good decisions at the end of last year and I’m kind of reaping those benefits.
“Knitting furiously” really just means that I’ve been knitting a lot. I hadn’t picked up my needles in a long time, and then all of a sudden it was like I couldn’t get enough. I think part of it is that I realized how much stash I had and I have a yarn hop coming up and in my mind, I can make a dent in my stash big enough to warrant buying new yarn.
I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. In fact, my hop list doesn’t include any yarn. Instead, my focus will be notions, needles, and patterns. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to get that stash down.
I offered a few of the finished objects up on Facebook to those who wanted them. Others I knit with specific people in mind, namely my nieces and nephews, one of which I will meet for the first time this coming summer. Because I’ve been in a “hat” mood, I figured that would be the easiest thing to kick out.
The slouchy hats above were super easy to knit and made for good knitting while gaming. I didn’t really have to think about them. The other hat I made was a little more challenging as I actually had to count, but it still wasn’t bad. I knit it up mostly during a knit-in-public night with friends where I consumed way too much coffee and ended up pulling an all-nighter.
Sadly, I can’t find the pattern I used. My phone apparently spazzed when I tried to add it to my Ravelry queue and now it’s not there. So if anyone knows where this pattern is, please let me know so I can give credit where it’s due and add it to my own Ravelry projects list. At any rate, this one is going to my newest niece. I’m just hoping it fits on her little baby head.
I’m currently working on a hat for my other nephew. I have two patterns I’m looking at, and I’m trying to decide which one seems more “him.” I might end up just letting him choose and pass along the other hat to someone who wants it.
Other finished projects include:
I’ve been listening to a knitting podcast to keep me motivated. The ACTually KNITting Podcast is my current cast of choice, though I’m almost caught up, so I’ll be checking out something new soon . I’m really enjoying this podcast. The woman who does it, Michelle, is friendly and has a good radio voice. Listening to her is relaxing and interesting.
The only downside to all this knitting? My hands have been hurting a bit, and since I use them all day for work as well, I will have to take the occasional break just to let them sit and do nothing. Which fellow knitters know is really not that easy.
I’m happy to report that I’m still picking up my needles daily, and the progress I lost from frogging my project has been made up. My decision was a good one. Knitting a project with no glaring mistakes makes a difference.
Last week, a coworker asked if I wanted some yarn she’d inherited. Logically, I realize this is the exact opposite of the paring down I’m supposed to be doing, but as a knitter, I can’t say no.What if I declined and later found out I missed out on some prize yarn?
Being a yarn magnet is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you’re always well stocked in stash yarn. It’s a curse for the same reason, unless you’re blessed with unlimited storage space. I already have two totes and a bag full of yarn, and my efforts at stash busting have been weak. Since we’re moving into a smaller apartment, storage is going to be a challenge.
This gift also came with several pairs of straight needles, some circulars, and a set of metal DPNs. I think I might be more excited about the tools in this case, not because I need them personally but because I want to share them.
I’ve had a few people ask me to teach them to knit, and one of my plans after moving back into town is to hold a monthly knitting get together. I like having extra yarn and tools on hand because the idea of letting someone take them as their beginner’s tools is appealing. They’ll upgrade eventually, but this gives them the chance to try it out without having to buy their own tools.
Plus, it has a “share the love” feel to it.
As for the yarn, some of it will be donated and passed on, but there is some nice acrylic yarn I’m keeping for frou frou projects (I’m a fan of softer acrylics).
Now I just need to figure out where I’m going to store it.
Questions for my fellow yarncrafters: do you ever find yourself becoming a yarn magnet? Do you tend to accept or decline? Why?
It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about knitting. I’ve been doing it, but kind of sporadically, and though I’ve finished a few small projects, I haven’t taken any pictures to share. Normally, when the weather gets warm is when I put away my needles. However, this year seems to be having the opposite effect. Yesterday I wanted to knit. The problem was that I didn’t feel good about what I was knitting.
The project is for a friend, and several rows back, I made a mistake. At the time, I thought it was a small mistake, one I could recover from. So I kept going. When I noticed that the mistake was a little larger than I’d thought, I asked a couple people (non-knitters) if they noticed. They didn’t. I kept going, then realized that somewhere along the line, I’d messed something else up, and those mistakes were all I could see when I looked at the project.
To be honest, I probably conveniently ignored the fact that I needed to start over. By this time, I was over halfway into the first skein of yarn, and the thought of frogging it made me sick (frogging means to unravel the project, essentially ripping out many or all of the already completed stitches). I hate wasted time. It’s why I get violent when I lose something I’ve written.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any other choice in this case. If I kept going, I wasn’t going to enjoy the process, and I wouldn’t be happy with the finished project. So I frogged. Turns out, it wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought, and when I cast on again, I felt good about my decision. I have several things I want to watch on Netflix, so making up the time will be fine.
I also started another project, because I know exactly where I messed up. While the pattern is an easy one, there is one row that demands attention and counting. Having tried to knit it while gaming, I didn’t give it the focus it needed. Now I have another project on another set of needles, a garter stitch scarf (all knits, all the time), that will be perfect for gaming.
Maybe this is a good sign, and I’ll get over the hurdles of other unfinished projects sitting around the place.
I’m using this weekend as another opportunity for some serious stress relief, and so far, the universe is with me on this.
Last night, after taking Jon to gaming, I hit the gym for a short but effective session before meeting up with the crew at Terry and Erica’s place. During times of high stress, I tend to withdraw. Last night was a reminder of how therapeutic “friend time” can be. We visited, discussed books, and watched a really bad horror movie, complete with our own little Twitter party. There is something hilarious and fun about sitting in the same room with people and only talking via Twitter.
Jon was done with gaming by the time the movie was over, so I picked him up. During the movie, I got a notification that a new geocache went up. We decided to go get it before heading back to Wamego, figuring that since we let about three hours go by, someone would have gotten there before us. It seemed as if the snow kept people in, however, and we got the First to Find! Yay for us! We finally made it home, and after reading a few chapters in the second Iron Druid book, I crashed.
Today was Winter Woolfest at the Columbian Theater, so I was up early to shower and gather my knitting supplies (nothing like waiting until the last minute). I packed light, deciding to take only a set of needles and a small ball of yarn for the instructional sessions. I also walked instead of drove, a daring choice since there were still several slick spots on the roads and sidewalks. I managed to make it without falling.
Since I was limited on spending funds (and the last thing I need to do is add yarn to my current stash), I took advantage of the classes that were going on throughout the day. The first one I took was one on Bavarian twisted knitting. I love the pattern this makes, and though it was a little nerve wracking to cable knit without a cable needle, I loved how easy it was and the look of the finished product.
The second class I took was on new methods of casting on. I’ve done nothing but long-tail for a long time, and I hadn’t bothered to learn any other methods, so this was a good opportunity to try something new. I learned three cast-ons, including the basic knit cast on, a cable cast on, and a modified long tail (I can’t remember the name right now) that makes the cast-on row stretchier (perfect for socks).
I met up with two friends at the ‘Fest, and we went to Toto’s Tacos for lunch. Tortilla soup and a “Burrito Jr.” were today’s choice. The Burrito Jr. was just meat and cheese. It was not small, but it was delicious. There was a line when we got there, but it was worth the wait.
After lunch, we did some vendor browsing before the afternoon sessions. There was tons of beautiful yarn and fiber, but I managed to hold back. I did entertain the idea of trying drop spinning again, but decided to hold off. I might get into spinning someday, but for now, especially with a pending move and a tight budget, I’ll continue to wait for the right time.
The first afternoon session was about blocking. Blocking is one of those things that seem really easy and basic, yet every time I’ve had to block something, it seems hard and nerve-wracking. The session was great. I’m no longer intimidated by the thought of blocking. Now I just need to buy some supplies.
The second session was a demo on braid cording with a lucet, though the technique was also taught with the use of fingers. I liked it, though it will take me some time to really get the hang of it and get it right. Apparently, you can use the technique with torn up t-shirt material to make cowls. I want to try this. The young man from RJ’s QTs (RJ himself, in fact) gave the demo, then sold me on the idea of buying a couple new project bags.
The final session of the day was a lesson on Brioche knitting. It seemed pretty easy, so I think I may have been doing it wrong. However, even if I was, the technique I WAS doing was pretty fun, and I liked the finish product, which looks like regular ribbing except it’s nice and soft and squishy.
We stuck around for door prizes, but no luck this year (though since I’m still loving the Hiya Hiyas I won last year, I’m set for like the next ten Woolfests). V made a suggestion that we go across the street for coffee and pie, but sadly, the restaurant was closed. Not to be thwarted, we moved on down the road and tried two other places before we finally found a place that was 1)open and 2)offering coffee and dessert. Thank you, Rambler’s of Wamego!
While indulging in dessert therapy, we chatted about writing and conventions. V is one of my writer friends, and since she’s more knowledgeable on the subject, I like to pick her brain and get her feedback. We drank coffee and visited for a couple hours, finally calling it a night before the sun went down completely.
I walked home, and I walked fast since I didn’t have the foresight to use the restroom before leaving the restaurant (fail). Luckily, many of the ice patches from the morning had melted, so it was a pretty smooth walk. The temperature was perfect, though the slight chill did cause a little bit of lung discomfort (nothing to worry about…it’s happened for years).
Besides the fact that the day was a blast, it also served as a good way to mark some strides in my health and mobility. Though last year was fun, I remember not being able to stand and walk as much. I remember taking frequent sit-down breaks, taking the elevator, and taking as few extra walks as humanly possible. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t take any extra walks. And I drove.
This year, I walked to and from the event. I took the stairs going up at least four times (took the elevator going down, but that’s because going down stairs hurts my knees with legitimate “have to stop walking” pains). I didn’t mind making extra trips, and even took an extra trip back to the restaurant to get a bottle of water. It was seriously awesome.
I’m going to finish up some things online, maybe play some Candy Crush, then lay down to read. The weather is supposed to be really nice tomorrow, so the plan is to go to the zoo to see the animals “open” their enrichment gifts. I love a trip to the zoo. Plus, if it’s as nice as it’s supposed to be, I’m going to soak up as much outdoor therapy as I can to prepare for the coming work week.