Snow Showers

Yesterday was Saturday and thus a day I should have blogged. But I didn’t have time. You see, Mr. Ink and I have been looking for a new car for a year now. If by looking you mean discussing, considering, but not making decisions. However, we are at a point where a decision needs to be made, and the only way to do that is to give ourselves a deadline. We decided we need to make a decision within a week.

So yesterday was dedicated to test driving vehicles. And we did so all day long. When we set out we had a list of 5 possible vehicles that met our requirements. At the first stop we managed to eliminate one of them, which was great. However, the rest of the test driving didn’t go quite so “well.” Meaning, we loved all 4. All 4 have serious points in their favor and not a lot not in their favor. Which makes a decision difficult.

When we headed out to test drive, it had begun to snow. I’d heard “wintery mix” so I wasn’t too concerned about accumulation. However, that snow seemed to surprise, as it actually stuck around. It was wet and heavy snow, it stuck to everything, making the world a winter wonderland. And it didn’t quit. So, we test drove cars in the snow. Which I suppose is good, as one of the requirements is all wheel drive in part for snow and our weird driveway.

Once home, it was less about knitting and more about trying to make a decision, looking up different lines of the cars we tried and attempting to narrow things down. We say we made a decision last night, but I don’t think I’ll tell you what it is yet, because I suspect it isn’t set in stone.

It was exhausting! And, not just exhausting, but I am the winner of the immune system challenge so far, Mr. Ink has caught a cold. So, sadly, test driving and making this decision is even less fun than usual for him. I am fortunate as he doesn’t live up to the trope of being a terrible man to have around the house when sick. Quite the opposite, he just continues on as if it weren’t happening, just slower and with less joy. And I think that was certainly the case yesterday.

Nevertheless, I’ve got some knitting to show off, a finished project even! I finished the appropriately named Snow Showers cowl I was working on that is a tube. This is the pattern that I didn’t care for. But the finished object is pretty nice actually.

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You can see the lace detail in there, and I do like the drape of it. The Noro Taiyo Sock is a bit overspun in the singles department, so you can see the slant of overspun singles as well. Not that I mind, it’s a tube, it doesn’t matter. I’ve never knit a continuous tube before, and upon finishing was quite surprised to realize I had no where to properly secure my yarn end. I did my best, hopefully it won’t pull out.

The snow is melting already, it’s not nearly the winter wonderland it was last evening. I told Mr. Ink I’d be staying in all day, but I suspect if the snow melts I’d love to take a walk and go to a store. We’ll see. After such a busy yesterday, having this one stretch before me in silence is a relief.

Who Wins?

At our house, we seem to be in a competition over which family member has the best immune system. In other words, I suspect all of us to be fighting the onset of a cold. But we are still at the point where we feel under the weather and very tired, and a little sore throat-ish, but not full on sick. I am wondering if any or all of us will escape it. In the meantime, we are eating early and easy dinners and all going to bed quite early to keep up on our sleep.

I started another project, one I think will be likely to capture my attention instead of annoy me like yesterday’s cowl.

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The pattern is called Gothic Spires, and it’s out of this handspun:

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There’s fun lace patterning which I think will pop a whole lot more when I have the opportunity to block it. It keeps me occupied pretty well, without a ton of thought, though I am tied to the pattern. I admit when I wasn’t feeling well last night I was wishing for something stockinette or garter, but if actual full on sickness happens, I am sure I can find something to throw on the needles for that.

I do want to talk about the yarn though. When I was a newer spinner, I was so anxious to spin super thin yarns. I worked so hard at it. And I didn’t realize that was only 1/3 of the battle. I mean, I fairly quickly got to the super thin yarn achievement point, and I was quite proud of myself. But, at that time I thought it was half the battle. The other half of the battle being the ability to spin thick again. Meaning, I felt that half the battle was being able to switch between thicker yarns and thinner yarns with intention. And that was certainly a battle.

BUT, the part I was still missing back then was the battle for softness. Meaning, spinning thin singles is one thing. Spinning thin singles with low enough twist for a nice soft yarn is quite another. For so long, my yarn was on the ropy high twist side. Soft enough to wear, but not luxury soft. But this yarn? This yarn is an example of a plain superwash merino that turned out luxury soft simply due to low twist thin singles then plied 3 ply.

As I sit here with my nahant recently knit out of 3 ring circus and fat cat knits batt, I realize that I have been achieving that super soft low twist goal for awhile now, and sometimes understanding that. But never has the point been driven home quite as well as knitting with this yarn. This yarn is one of those yarns that truly shows 10 years of spinning experience culminated.

I think this is one of the most important reasons for spinning knitters to use their yarn in handknits, rather than put it up on a shelf deciding it is too pretty to use. I learn more about my spinning when I knit with my handspun than I do while spinning.

Naturally, there are always wool breeds that you cannot make overly soft. There are other factors at play. But, I think from here on out, unless I find a way to do better, when it comes to soft wool fiber, this skein should be the handspun I look to in order to achieve “the best” handspun for me.

That Pattern

As I mentioned yesterday, I began a new pattern for a cowl. Now, when viewing the picture on the pattern, I really liked the look of it, kind of linen like. So I decided to go for it.

It’s SO RARE that I get frustrated with a pattern, and especially rare that I feel that maybe I shouldn’t even have paid for a pattern these days. But that’s where I am with this pattern, and I’ll tell you why.

It’s a pattern for a cowl, knit with thin yarn on larger than usual needles. It’s knit in the round, and then grafted at the end to make a continuous tube. All of that sounds great. Except for a couple things.

First of all, it asks for sport weight yarn and size 10 needles. Which would explain the lineny look. It’s extremely drapey. And, the next bit is partly my problem, which I’ll own. Rather than a sport weight yarn, I chose Noro Taiyo Sock yarn for this. So, thinner than even the pattern asks for. That’s my bad. And, in addition to that, as with all noro, it’s rather thick and thin so there are areas that are downright laceweight.

That being said, even with a sport weight yarn, the number of stitches required to cast on is too small to use a circular needle and work in the round. So, I decided that I’d magic loop, after restarting a couple of times, breaking my working yarn, and getting frustrated. Magic loop worked, sort of, after I got it started. Except that the very thin yarn on very large needles wants to pull on the circs, making it hard to move all the stitches from the cable to the needle portion of the circ. I did it for quite a few rounds, but realized that doing so for that long was probably going to create a crazy lady, which I didn’t want. I can only fight with my needles for so long before getting very angry. And, when I took an honest look at the tube I was creating, it was WAY too thin anyhow. Not cowl sized, but tiny scarf sized.

So, my next solution was to cast on double the amount of stitches and get a reasonable sized cowl, with still the lineny look of the large needles and thin yarn, and this also served the purpose of having enough stitches on the circ so that I could comfortably work in the round. Ok. Good. We are on a roll.

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Except for my second complaint. Which is that the pattern states I should work “a few” rows of stockinette, and then get the rather small lace section knit, before continuing on the rest of the cowl in stockinette. So, now we have the place that I will graft stitches sitting right near the focal point of the entire cowl. I’d better be an expert grafter to get that to look perfect and unnoticeable! May I also add that grafting thin yarn on large needles will also create tension issues, so my expert grafter needs will be challenged further.

In any case, I think you can sense my current frustration with this project, despite wanting to actually continue the project. And I am too far along now, and have had too many issues with restarting to yank it to place the lace section further along in the cowl. It’s not happening. If it gets ripped out this time, it’s permanent, and then I’ve wasted money on a pattern. So, this is now a work project. I brought it to work this morning and that’s where it’s likely to stay. I can probably commit to an hour of stockinette a day for 4-5 days a week.

All I Have Today

I am back at it in the work department. It’s been quite busy, but easily handled if I keep my nose to it. It’s also been kind of…I dunno…full of potential change again? That seems to keep happening. Cycles of major changes which aren’t necessarily great but can be adjusted to, and then points where it feels like stagnancy and I long for some type of change. I guess that’s what happens if you have been working at the same place for 11 years. I just keep reminding myself that changes will be adjusted to over time, and they’ll quit feeling like such a nightmare eventually.

I did not grab a photo of knitting for today. Mr. Ink spent all afternoon working on the fishtank in our bedroom, since it was raining outside. He took a break so that we could all go out and see a movie, which we did. But, once home, he began again. After watching him do one of his indoor hobbies, I realized that it’s SO NICE to be interested in various fiber arts, because it’s quite contained. Once he got started on the fish tank project, there were various filter parts and hoses and towels all over the bedroom and bed. The small bathroom had buckets of…I don’t know what. The big bathroom had bleaching driftwood in the tub, causing Miss Butterfly to be unable to get her shower. The kitchen was chockablock full of driftwood and stones and buckets and water being tested. There was algae in my kitchen sink. I could do nothing at all in the sink. There was a trail of water between the bedroom all the way to the kitchen sink. And this morning I realized that I was happy I’d never gotten around to deep cleaning the kitchen, as it’s basically destroyed now, and I’d just have to do it again.

Fiber is clean, compact, and MOSTLY dry. It’s a good hobby! It was after 11 when I went back to the bedroom to see if I could go to sleep, but with filter parts and hoses still all over the bed, and Mr. Ink attempting to place driftwood in EXACTLY the way he wanted it, elbows deep in what looked like truly disgusting water, I realized sleeping in my bed wouldn’t happen any time soon. So off to the guest room I went. It was 2 am when he finished and came to let me know I could retire to my own bed, so I am glad I didn’t wait up!

While all this insanity was going on, what was I doing with Miss Butterfly? Watching Glee, listening to podcasts, chatting,  and having our own little knit night.

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Because she won’t put that knitting down. And decided to make her own pattern, on her own, and write it down on that notebook. That notebook she’s using to also track the number of rows she needs for her pattern. And using stitch markers like a boss. And figuring it all out herself not even needing my help. All this after only ever knitting one small dishcloth 2 years ago.

Funniest moment was when she asked if she’d made some mistakes in the first couple rows. I inspected, and said “Eh, yeah, it’s a little mistakey, but we can add fringe!” trying to not make a big deal about it, frustrate her, and make her think she had to start over. Her response? “YOU’RE a little mistakey!” in that perfect 12 year old tone that told me she wanted to be a smart mouth but also wanted me to know it was a joke. So basically, now, every time she’s a little annoyed with me she says “Mistakey.”

It really was a lovely day. Not just with the knitting. We took a walk around a lake, getting caught in the pouring rain halfway through but still having a great time. We made more bread, and more cookie dough. We saw a movie that she LOVED. An all around good day after the frustration of the day before. (Which…well…I KNEW she needed sleep!)

I continued to have issues with my current and only knitting project, had to rip it out multiple times, finally decided to double the amount of stitches instructed to cast on, and got some knitting in. More on that tomorrow. However, every once in awhile there’s a moment where you get frustrated that you paid money for a pattern. It’s FAIRLY rare, but it’s definitely the case this time. But, seriously. More on that tomorrow. Welcome back to the work week everyone.

Knitting Panda!

Miss Butterfly came home yesterday, clearly amazingly tired. When she’s quite tired, she gets all the more desperate to go go go, spend time with friends, make plans, etc. And when they don’t go as expected, it’s all the harder for her not to fall apart. I could tell she was exhausted and it was one of those days where I’d be sitting at one side of the room saying the word “no” and she’d be sitting at the other side of the room somehow hearing the word “yes.” It was exhausting.

At some point, she was laying around doing nothing, not wanting to do anything, and I don’t allow her to just spend all day on electronics so she’d already used her allotted time with them. Well, laying around acting dramatic and bored doesn’t really work for me, so I asked a very simple question. “Where’s YOUR knitting?” And much to my surprise, she brought me a half cast off dish cloth she’d started a couple years ago and hasn’t touched in a year and a half. We cast the rest of it off, and then I asked if she’d like to do more, and she said yes. So, I set her up with some needles and yarn, and off she went.

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Happily knitting away in her panda suit. At one point last night she was using her toes to tension the yarn, which was hilarious. This morning she’s back at it with the knitting. This is great, because I’d already decided that we, as a family, were going to listen to Dune this winter. But I was worried about how she’d tolerate sitting doing nothing while listening to an audio book. If the knitting takes, it won’t be a problem.

I finished my ear warmer.

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It used up every last inch of yarn, so I’d call it a great success.

Here’s another project that used up every last inch, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

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Yep, that’s a completed dragonfire scarf, if by completed you mean ended abruptly. Nevertheless, it’s quite long. And with all the hanging wedges, I don’t think it’ll be too noticeable that it’s not symmetrical.

I had already begun another scarf, but 8 rows in, Miss Bug claimed that as the yarn she’d like to use for her project. Which is fine, really. I did however leave those 8 rows on the needles in case she grows bored of her knitting.

So, I had to pick yet another project which is in its infancy, out of Noro Taiyo Sock. We’ll see how that goes! We’ll enjoy another quiet day today I think. I want to get another batch of bread baked, and a batch of cookies. And I have to clean the kitchen as we had company over for dinner last night. Other than that, and maybe a walk, it seems I’ll be able to work on my next project on my last day of vacation. *weeps*

Of Knitting and Socializing

It’s been a pretty good couple of days over here. Thanksgiving day we really didn’t cook any type of meal at all, but did go spend time with friends watching for the lights in our downtown area be lit for the season. It was good fun to view that from the warmth and height of a downtown condo. It’s a small space, but I was surprised at how many people we fit in there and still managed to make it feel comfortable. We stayed late, were of the last ones to leave. So most of Friday was spent catching up on rest.

I did some knitting, met up with a girlfriend for lunch (at a fancy ramen place, which I really thought I’d love, but as it turns out TRULY disliked. TOO SALTY! And if I say too salty, that’s saying something. I love salt.) took naps, knit, watched the first new Gilmore Girls episode. Then off to see Gogol Bordello with Mr. Ink last night. They came through town twice in fairly quick succession a couple years back, and I passed up both opportunities, saying “Seems they come through town often.” And then I’ve been waiting for them to come back ever since. It’s been years. FINALLY I had my opportunity. And it was quite a wonderful, extremely loud and enthusiastic crowd. Highly unusual for this area. The people attending that show truly wanted to be there, and it was sold out. And we got a solid 2.5 hours of Gogol Bordello. The pace they keep for those 2.5 hours is just insane, I was so tired toward the end and they just kept moving. Very theatrical, very enjoyable, well worth the wait.

It was a bit of a tough concert on another level. You see, Mr. Ink and Mike both love live music. But, Mr. Ink likes to get right down near the stage and dance his heart out. Mike liked to hang back with his cup of ice water. So, it became a habit for these wilder shows we’d attend that Mike would actually be the person that I’d spend time with, as I am typically uninterested in being close to stage as well. Mike would have loved the show, but I was by myself, and missing his company. I suppose there will be many moments like that coming up, but this one was the first, and thus, quite noticeable to me.

But, now on to some more uplifting subjects. I finished my honey cowl. It’s a medium size, so not all that long. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough yarn for the long version. It’s not officially washed and blocked yet either, and I suspect I’ll gain a bit of length once I do that.

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Looks pretty good! I’ll enjoy having a matching set. And I still had more yarn leftover. Not enough for a hat, but I figured it may be enough for an ear warmer headband. I cast one on, and it looks pretty nice as well! Though if I’d been smarter, I would have done one in the same pattern as the gloves. I guess it’ll have to be ok just to have the yarn match.

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I am about halfway done with this one, worrying about yarn of course, but at least if I run out it’s not THAT big of a deal. Not a huge time investment in this project.

I am beginning to feel the effects of the month of knitting, though not in the way I would like. I’d LIKE to feel the effects by having a smaller stash all of a sudden. But, my reality is that my hands are sore. And I am not actually sure just how long I can make it with the exclusive knitting. On the other hand, I figure I won’t have vast amounts of time for it either when I head back to work next week. So it may just come out in the wash. However, I keep feeling a spin coming on. Hah!

A New Coat

The gloves caused me to want to purchase a new casual coat. And really, it was time. Meaning, my current casual coat is quite literally old enough to legally drink. That’s right, I purchased it some 21 years ago in order to go on a ski trip with some friends, and it’s held up ever since. It’s a good coat! But, out of date, and doesn’t look great on me anymore, and I am ready for a change.

I ended up picking a nice grey color coat, somewhat casual, but nice and long, fairly lightweight, yet still warm. I like it! And, the color of the coat does those gloves justice. So I decided to cast on a honey cowl to match the coat and gloves, giving myself an entirely new set.

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Color is a little off again in this photo, the previous glove photo colors were better. This looks warm, but the colors are very cool. In any case, it’s moving right along!

Due to Mr. Ink getting home quite late from work, after having a very fantastic day at work (Which NEVER happens.) We were unable to attend the bike ride we had planned. I’d been out socializing and running errands all day so I didn’t really mind. Miss Butterfly headed to her dad’s house, so we decided to have a date night. We went out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, and then out to see the movie Arrival. While we could have waited for it to come out on DVD, we are both thoughtful sci fi LOVERS, and felt it important to support this one in the theater. As we’d like to make it clear we find this type of movie worth making. So we saw it in the theater, and we both enjoyed it quite a bit.

This morning has mainly been relaxing and enjoying a good breakfast. We are having a quiet day, and then we’ll be out socializing this evening, which we are both looking forward to. I am really hoping to find myself the motivation to clean the bathroom, but MAN, it’s tough!

On the list as well for today, my annual listen to Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. With my knitting. My own tradition I’ve cultivated for years.