Just in time for the season, I finished this sweater:
Pattern: Let’s Boogie by Katie Franceschi
Yarn: Berroco Vintage DK in the Pumpkin, Banana, Cast Iron, and Mochi colorways.
Needles: US 4 and US 5
Notes and Mods: This is a cute pattern, but I ended up really disliking the neckline. Despite aggressive blocking, it tends to roll downward. If I were to make it again, I’d probably modify the cast-on and neckline. Otherwise, I really love the sweater.
As for mods, I converted this to short sleeves, considering that it’s still hot as Satan’s back porch here in Louisiana. To do so, I completed the under-bust chart for the sleeves, then knit 10 rows in white, and 5 rows 2×2 rib. I also left of the pink detailing on the ghosts’ cheeks, because I thought it would look weird with this color palette. Overall, thumbs up on this project.
Yarn: Hat 1–Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in the Pewter and Earth Tones Colorways. Hat 2–Lion Brand Thick & Quick in the Slate and Dusk Colorways.
Needles: US 11 and US 13
Notions: Buttons and faux fur poufs.
Notes: Cute hat pattern but executing the lotus stitch made my hands ache. If you have a larger head, this may fit a little smaller than expected.
Pattern: The Eternal Hearts Beanie
Yarn: WeAreKnitters Petite Wool in the Ivory and Spotted Pink Colorways
Needles: US 8 and US 9
Notions: Button and faux fur pouf
Notes: This came out way smaller than expected. I didn’t swatch, so it could be a gauge issue. However, the pattern is easy and well-written. I ended up giving it to a neighbor who has two small children.
**Remember, my blog is not sponsored or monetized in any way. No link in my posts is an affiliate link, and these ideas are all my own. None of these companies know who I am, and all of this is crap I buy with my own dang money. I’m just not that cool, y’all**
The husband has recovered (mostly) from the ‘Rona, and through careful quarantining, the kids and I did not contract the virus. He has pretty sick there for a while, and is dealing with a lingering cough and fatigue, but we got lucky. Thanks for the well wishes.
So, as I have been shopping for the holidays and planning for the new year, I thought I pass along some of the things that I really enjoyed this year (other than the endless warmth of the 2020 dumpster fire).
I really love Knife Aid. It’s like the Netflix of knife sharpening. You pick how many you want sharpened and they send you the materials to pack up your knives and mail them in. Then, they send them back to you perfectly sharpened. It’s only about a week in turnaround time and very convenient. I have used them twice, including last month.
I love OXO containers. My pantry is out of control, and these are helping me tame the chaos. I still want more.
A bluetooth meat thermometer was game changer. Yes, I use it when smoking meat, but I also use it for so much more. For example. I used this on Thanksgiving for the turkey, which meant I could watch the temp in real time, and also not lose heat from constantly opening and closing the oven to check on the bird. I also use it for cooking roasts, prime rib, chicken and more. You can go about your day without worrying that you are going to overcook an expensive piece of meat or undercook the poultry.
I am totally OBSESSED with this one. So, it’s basically a murder-mystery subscription box you get each month, but think of it like a limited tv series with episodes. One “season” lasts a few months, or you can purchase past “seasons”/mysteries in their entirety. You get all kinds of clues and documents to investigate, but they also have cool online components to enrich the experience. We are currently working our way though the Blair Witch season and the Cadence Theater season. If you are stuck in quarantine, pouring over clues in order to catch a killer is a great way to pass the time.
I am in love with Hue-It Hand Dyed Fibers. This local-to-me Louisiana artist specializes in small-batch dying, and has an incredible portfolio of colorways. Most of her stuff sells out fast but she takes preorders if you missed out on a colorway. I recently snatched up a couple of skeins that are just waiting for the right pattern to come along.
My neighbors gifted me this book after we had a mini-Thanksgiving this summer (they are in our “pod/quarantine bubble”). This book is LEGIT cool. These recipes are not for those looking for basic pies. These guys compete around the country and their ideas are complete bananas. Favorites so far are the Strawberry Margarita Pie and the Caramel Popcorn Pie.
This cookbook was written by the founder of the Mosquito Supper Club restaurant in New Orleans. It’s beautifully shot and showcases Louisiana food traditions that are slowing being lost. If you have any interest an authentic Louisiana cuisine, this needs to be in your library.
So, my go-to recipe software, Living Cookbook quietly went out of business and has basically ghosted it’s customers. So, I spent part of the year test-driving Cook’n, MasterCook, and Paprika, which came out the clear winner. I think it was the easiest to learn/use out of the three, and with a more intuitive interface. I was able to import my Living Cookbook files, though I will say that some things did get lost in translation. I had to go back and check each recipe to correct some things that got garbled in the transfer, but the same thing happened with the other two as well. Otherwise, I’m happy using it, and very grateful for the cloud sharing ability.
This herb stripper was featured on Food Network’s The Kitchen, and host Sunny Anderson loved it so much she immediately said she was taking it home with her. I LOVE this. It strips those pesky thyme and rosemary leaves off of their stems in two seconds flat.
What a difference a week makes. So much changed so quickly, and like the rest of you, we are doing our best to adapt. No, I’m not making cute, color-coded homeschooling schedules, or using this “opportunity” to clean out my closet Martha Stewart style. If you are a Pinterest supermom, more power to you. We are just taking each day that is in front of us and making the best of it.
Other than a solo trip to the grocery store, the Heathens and I have not left the house since March 13tth. Though the older kids thought I was being a bit harsh by not letting them go see their friends, the changes over the past week have demonstrated to them why I took social distancing very seriously. First, I want to protect their health, but I also explained to them that I am in the high-risk category. I almost died of a respiratory illness that progressed to severe pneumonia as a child, and even after I got out of the hospital, I still had to have in-home care and rehabilitation. I would never wish that experience on anyone, so beyond our own bubble, we need to stay home to help our community and nation turn the tide on this terrible pandemic. My husband is still working, but continues to practice aggressive social distancing as well.The first week of at-home school was an adjustmenet. The teachers in our area literally had one hour to pull together the materials for the students and come up with a fast plan. Between daily online class and the remaining work, Bean and I are spending about 4 hours a day on school, not including independent reading. The boys are in high school, and are able to manage themselves. However, my friends with multiple elementary-age kids in different grades are struggling to juggle it, most especially those still having to work. Regardless, I admire Bean’s teacher for her dedication and the effort she is putting in to make this situation work for the students. I swear, if we ever we had the opportunity to push through legislation for teacher pay raises, it would pass with flying colors the week the kids go back to school. Luckily, this week is our spring break, so we all have a chance to regroup.
As far as the emotional climate, our kids are pragmatic. They watch the news and understand the gravity of the situation. We are honest with them, and they get that our community as a whole is worried. This situation is a marathon not a sprint. However, we combat anxiety with practicality. We are ok, we are taking commonsense measures to protect ourselves and others, and we’ll get through this. I think the hardest part for my Louisiana community is the isolation. We can handle tornados, hurricanes, and being robbed of the Super Bowl #stillbitter, but we handle those things by banding together. The Cajun Navy loads up the boats, we gather, we feed one another, we volunteer, or we just spend time with our neighbors. It’s one thing to go through something stressful, but going through it in isolation makes it just a we bit tougher. But you know what? The drive-thru daquiri shops are still open! Gotta find the silver lining somewhere, right?
If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve been posting pics of our meals and other cooking adventures. Over the next week or so, I’m going to be posting some easy recipes, or ideas for making the most of what’s in the pantry. We all could use some inspiration while adapting to this temporary normal.
On the knitting front. I have enough stash to last, not to mention needlepoint and 100 other crafting projects to keep me occupied when I’m not being the worst homeschool teacher in the world. I just cast on Fantastitch by Stephen West, as well as a baby blanket for my grandnephew. The one thing I can say about our time in quarantine is that I won’t be complaining of boredom any time soon.
*photo credit Stephen West *
So, in an effort to spread a little joy, I giving away a free downloadable copy of the Fantastitch pattern via Ravelry code. If you would like a chance to win a copy of this pattern, leave a comment about what you are doing to stay occupied during quarantine. I’ll draw for the winner this Friday! In the meantime, stay sane, my friends!
Yarn: Loops & Threads Woolike in Red, White, and Navy
Needles: US 4
Notes and Mods: I knit this as written, but carried the red and white yarns up the side rather than weave in 1000 ends. If I were to make it again, I would follow what others did and use white beads for the stars rather than the white yarn. The stitches are too small to really pop against the blue. Otherwise, I love it. Also, I was pleased with the yarn in general, and it’s a good option for projects on a budget.
It’s already Satan’s Sauna here in Louisiana, which does not bode well for just how miserable we will all be come August. The garden is in and going great, and I’ll probably put up a post later in the week about the new raised beds we built. The husband has been travelling constantly, so I’m happy we were able to get this project done in time for the summer season.
Anyway, throughout the May Gauntlet, I managed to squeak in a couple of more finished knits:
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Merino in the Seafoam Green colorway (note–the yarn does have the tiniest hint of green in it. It just did not photograph well)
Needles: US 7
Notes and Mods: I followed the pattern as written then pinned it to dimensions using my knit blockers. I sprayed it lightly with water and let dry. This is Cascade’s recommended method as this yarn does not do well with wet blocking. Overall, I like the block, but with almost 100% of the RS rows featuring cabling, it’s certainly not on-the-go knitting, but otherwise, all the techniques are suitable for an advanced beginner.
Pattern: Just a basic Vanilla Sock for the Husband
Yarn: Sidar Sole to Sole in the 163 colorway
Needles: US 1 DPNs
Notes and Mods: I keep a sock project bag in my car in case of knitting emergencies, so these came together on and off over the past year. Don’t let the pic fool you, these do fit my husband. I had G-Man try them on to take a project picture, and his foot is a little smaller. FYI–Hubs wears a size 12, so I CO 72 stitches, did about 1-1/4 inches of 2×2 ribbing, then knit in stockinette for about 6-3/4 inches (measured from the top) before starting the heel flap. Once the flap was done and stitches picked up, I knit the foot, which was about 8-1/4 inches from the heel flap, and then started the toe decreases. For his next sock, I am going to try the Vanilla is the New Black pattern because I think the heel might be better.
In addition to the knitting, I also have been playing with my new Cricut, which definitely has a learning curve. Here are a few of the test items:
I’m hoping to experiment some more when we get past the family reunion this weekend. Otherwise, I’ll be surviving the heat and enjoying slower days.
Sooooooooo, after lusting after the Workbox 3.0 from the Original Scrapbox, we finally bit the bullet and ordered one. Considering the hefty price tag on this item, it really is an investment that you need to feel confident about, and that you are making for the right reasons. Here are the contributing factors that tipped the decision to purchase this into the “yes” category.
I am a big crafter. I knit, I sew a bit, I embroider, I recently fell down the Cricut rabbit hole, and I make candles.
My yarn stash and craft supplies overtook my closet, under my bed, parts of the garage, the laundry room, and more. I spent far too much time digging through these areas to find stuff, which made projects take longer than necessary. It also sucked the fun out of the process
I do not have a craft room or space for one in my house, nor do I have a desk or office.
Any crafting required me to drag out sometimes heavy stuff to the kitchen table, which made the prospect of working on a project seem burdensome.
I wanted my closet back and you will pry my yarn stash from me at risk to your own life, so don’t even suggest downsizing.
After a lot of hemming and hawing, as well as review research, I ordered one. I decided on the black beadboard model and added the crown accessory (which is the crown molding on top with an included light kit.)
The first thing you need to know is that it’s at least a six to eight week turnaround time from order to delivery, so you could be waiting two months to get the product. Secondly, this ships in a large crate which has to be delivered by a professional freight service, and they will only put it in your driveway. You have to be home for delivery, and it better not be on a rainy day, because you will need to crowbar open the crate, and then you must carry about 30 boxes and container stacks into your house asap. I highly encourage you to talk to the freight company when they call if you have any concerns about a giant truck being able to get to your location and offload a large crate without incident.
Also, while the assembly instructions are pretty good, you will still need several hours and you really can’t do this without two people, so plan ahead for that. We ran into problems with damaged pieces (which I will get into in a minute), but had we not, this still would have taken the Hubs and me about two days to assemble, working in 3-4 hour increments.
Let’s get into the concerning aspects of my experience. When I opened the crate, none of the plastic bins were broken, but most had scuff marks on them. They were not packaged separately in the crate, and were only protected by paper between them to prevent sticking in their stacks (though some still stuck together and had to be finessed apart). I am still amazed I managed to separate them without breakage. Most of the cabinet pieces appeared intact, but Scrapbox provides a jar of touch-up paint, so they clearly anticipate items getting damaged in shipping. Given the price-point, that was kind of a raised eyebrow moment for me.
With so many boxes and pieces, it was impossible for me to open and inspect every item immediately. The boxes alone overtook my entire dining room, so we just started with assembly. If you have a small home or space, this process will overtake much more area than you think, because you will have boxes and pieces everywhere.
The boxes are labeled very well with numbers, as are almost all of the pieces, so Scrapbox has put in a lot of effort to make assembly as easy as possible for a piece of this size. That was a plus. However, we got about 1/4 through the assembly when the first problem cropped up:
These two pieces of the center component were broken when we opened it’s box. I emailed customer service, and they sent replacements. However, this took a little over a week, so I had a 1/4 finished Workbox with parts spread across my house, making my dining room unusable and my bedroom a maze. When the pieces finally came in, we resumed assembly and made it almost to the finish line. I wish that they offered expedited shipping for these issues, because, as you will read, it only got worse.
Then, we unboxed the crown addition, and it was cracked and unusable. I emailed customer service again, and again, they sent a replacement (another week+ delay and house in chaos), and guess what?
That’s what I saw as soon as I opened the box. So, we are now nearly a month in of trying to assemble this thing (after waiting nearly two months for it), two broken crown units later, and I am not happy. My husband is VERY not happy. In addition to this, I will say that generally, my customer service experience was good, but I did have to prod for follow ups or answers as this dragged on, which did not help my frustration level.
The next crown unit came, and praise Jeebus, it was intact! We finally finished assembly and I could actually see the conclusion of the project that would never end. Now, let’s take a look at my Workbox 3.0:
Above is the unit fully open, with desk extended, and the light on. A quick note on the plastic bins–every single bin has optional inserts or dividers that are included. So, you can divide the taller bins into sections for even more storage options, and the inserts for the larger, flatter drawers are perfect for notions. I am very happy with the level of optional customization without additional purchases. I can constantly re-work the bins and shelves to adjust to my needs. The light in the crown kit is nice and bright, and I like the finished look of the crown molding. However, it’s up to you on whether that is enough reason to spend that much extra. After the drama of the crown kit, I am still getting over my frustration. However, I definitely needed the light in my darker room. Now, lets look into the specifics:
Before I open the cabinet fully, there’s space on the backside for my Cricut mats, which is handy. You can hang anything on these that is fairly flat. I used small Command hooks. I will also hang up my fabric rulers on the other door at a later date.
The right door has a panel of Velcro zipper pockets, and a series of larger and smaller shelves/bins. I am using them for yarn, and am still working on loading up the smaller bins.
This is the top of the center panel. I have my bins stuffed with my Cricut vinyl, embroidery supplies, fabric, glue guns, paper, and more. The drawers host miscellaneous stuff.
The desk folds out easily, though the legs can be tough to fold up if they are feeling sticky. There is plenty of room in the desk cubby for my Cricut Maker and my Cricut Easy Press. If you do Cricut or similar devices, this is a big bonus for accessibility.
Below the desk, I store my sewing machine, ball winder and swift, my knitting needle binder, and pattern magazines.
On the left door, I store more yarn, more needles, some works in progress, Cricut tools, paints, and still have plenty of room for more. There are optional rods for easy ribbon dispensing, but I don’t need those at this time. I am still working on organization, but I have plenty of room to grow and adjust.
**Note** I did not put my candle supplies in here. Between the scents, dyes, and waxes, these materials can cause a lot of damage if they co-mingle with other stuff, so I keep those in the laundry room and isolated.
I’ve spent a lot of time crafting the past couple of weeks, and here’s what I think.
It’s basically a craft room in an armoire, because it looks nice and offers a functional workspace in smaller environments. This really was a perfect solution for me.
It solved almost all of my craft storage and workspace challenges.
Endless customization means this can change and evolve with my needs.
All the bins and dividers come with it, as well as the Velcro zipper pouches, so you are not just buying the cabinet, you are getting all of the components as well, which factors into the price value.
I can start and stop projects quickly and easily because my materials are within arms’ reach.
I get an incredible sense of satisfaction being able to see and access my materials in an instant, rather than dig storage bins from underneath my bed or risk a concussion pulling down my sewing machine from the closet shelf. I get a certain mental boost being surrounded by a perfectly organized craft room I can tuck away in seconds.
It makes me happy,
You could be looking at weeks/months from order to final assembly.
Scrapbox still needs to work on their quality control, especially when it comes to shipping. The jar of touch-up paint demonstrates that they know you will likely encounter damage. At this price point and time investment, I think they could do better, especially when it’s particle board and not solid wood.
Customer service starts great but may need prodding if your issue lasts longer than the initial encounter. Despite small delays, I believe the service is still good and my perceptions need to be taken in context of my extended experience and frustrations. Additionally, I wish they expedited shipping after my assembly dragged out so long due to damaged goods.
Delivery offers potential challenges to people who live in apartments, small homes, rural areas, and more. If delivery seems expensive, it’s because an actual freight company is delivering a giant crate on a forklift. You have to factor this in when considering your purchase.
Pay attention to the dimensions and measure your space. This may be as wide and tall as many armoires, but it’s also twice as deep, not to mention the room needed to open the doors to full extension. If you need to, cut ribbon or paper strips to help you layout a visual example of the dimensions. It’s bigger than you think.
Take pictures of any and all damage, from the crate upon delivery to any damaged pieces you encounter. After the second crown was delivered, I had my camera ready and took numerous pictures of the box on my porch and it’s condition, the damage observed as soon as I opened the box, and the open and broken light kit within the box. This not only helped resolve the issue with Scrapbox, but they thanked me because it could help them with shipping insurance issues.
Do not assume you can assemble this by yourself or quickly. It’s a project, though it’s not difficult. Manage your assembly expectations and you will be ok.
Be honest about why you are buying this and the cost. For me, the cost really was worth the utility it brings, the solutions it offers, and I use it every day. I was lacking in storage and hating spending 10-15 minutes dragging out my equipment and materials across the house before even starting a project. If you have a viable solution for a craft space outside of this, I encourage you to explore that first (unless you have the expendable income to buy this at will). Don’t buy it because it looks cool. Buy it because the you are honest about the cost-benefit analysis. The cost for most people means that it needs to be a true solution, and not just a whim.
So, there ya have it. I bought the thing, I hated the process of finishing the thing, but I now love the thing. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help!
**just a reminder. My blog is not sponsored or monetized. This my own review of an item I paid for myself at full price. Original Scrapbox doesn’t know me other than the headache I brought to their customer service. My review is mine alone. If you see any ad on my blog, that’s from WordPress, and I have no control over whether or not you see an ad or its content. That’s free blogging, yo. **
So, just an update on my down the rabbit hole knit-a-long that I jumped into. I have completed two more blocks for the Knitterati 2018 KAL from Cascade Yarns. If you want info on the first block, check out my previous post. Three blocks in, and I can honestly say that I really am enjoying this project. Each block pattern is released in three week increments, and they only take a few days to complete. For me, these blocks are a nice break from my larger projects, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed this. I swing back and forth between being a product versus process knitter, which only verifies the fact that I’m a selectively schizophrenic fiber artist. Any-hoo, here are the squares:
Pattern: Gradient Lapghan Block 2 (available for purchase on Ravelry or free to those who signed up for the KAL newsletter).
Yarn: Cascade Superwash 220 Merino in the Stonewash colorway.
Needles: US 6 and US 7
Notes and Mods: I knitted the pattern as written, and followed Cascade’s advice to pin to dimensions then spray with water to lightly block. This yarn cannot be wet-blocked on this project because it will grow like crazy. Additionally, the first block had a weird ratio of stitch versus row gauge, so I am sticking to the pin-then-spray blocking method after learning that lesson the hard way. While I am following the KAL to the “T,” I am not a fan of the border and the picked-up stitches. If I were to repeat this in the future, I would mod the pattern to do a garter or seed stitch border to create a more even finished product.
Pattern: Gradient Lapghan Block 3 (see previous block)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Merino in colorway Artic Ice
Needles: US 8 (see notes and mods)
Notes and Mods: I was initially confused about the increased needle size on this block, and wondered if it was just personal gauge issue between designers but, after knitting it, I can tell you, the increased needle size is NECESSARY on this block. The lattice pattern creates more tension on the fabric, as well as the bobbles. I’m not ever going to discourage swatching, but I can tell you that the needle size difference between this and the previous blocks makes sense, so whatever gauge you are working with, take note that a larger needle will probably be necessary on this block. Otherwise, I think the pattern is cute and it’s been added to the Knitterati FO box.
The past couple of weeks have been a flurry of activity. Two of the Heathens had birthdays, we celebrated Easter with family and friends, and spent time constructing new raised beds for the garden. Meanwhile, despite my vow to never join another mystery knit-along again, I fell down the fiber rabbit hole of temptation when I heard about Cascade’s 2018 Knitterati Knit-Along. Besides loving the color palates in the kit, the prospect of adding in some quick knits between my bigger projects, ones that would add up to a blanket at the end of a year, seemed like my kind of project. I got the kit from Jimmy Beans Wool just in time for the first square’s pattern release:
Pattern: Gradient Lapghan Block 1 (pattern available for purchase on Ravelry, and each new square will be released every three weeks. Block 2 is already up. However, if you sign up for Cascade’s newsletter, you can get the patterns for free with coupon codes they send).
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Merino in Sweet Pea Colorway
Needles: US 7
Notes and Mods: This block was a learning curve as far as gauge and most people were having issues getting the dimensions. This wanted to block way larger than specified. After watching the Ravelry group, Cascade advised that wet blocking is not ideal, and that the squares will go best if pinned, then lightly sprayed. I should have remembered that superwash wool can be a bit finicky. Overall, it’s a good pattern but row gauge could be an issue for some people. I like the yarn texture, and am definitely more of a fan than the traditional Cascade 220 Superwash.
After I finished the block, I did a deep stash dive and pulled out a UFO that has been lingering there for years. I started these mittens at least four years ago, but kept getting discouraged on the cuffs and their time-consuming pattern. I vowed at New Years that I would finally finish them. I may not be skinny or able to run a 5k yet, but dang it, this UFO is finally a FO! How’s that for a resolution win?
Pattern: Grove (available for purchase on Ravelry).
Yarn: Berroco Comfort in Filbert Colorway
Needles: US 6 DPNs
Notes and Mods: The pattern has been updated since I purchased it, which is good because my copy had a couple of errors. This pattern is almost 100 percent charted, so if you can’t do charts, it might not be for you. Additionally, something about my copy made it impossible for my Knit Companion software to magic mark the charts, which slowed down my progress. Rather than removing the needles to turn these inside out for the three-needle bind-off, I just grafted the tops closed. As for sizing, my hands are on the smaller side, and these fit me perfectly. I noticed on Ravelry that others had to make modifications for sizing, and some changed the YO increases because they did not like the spaces they created. Overall, I love the stitch pattern, but if I make them again, I may modify the tops to be more rounded and even.
I ordered the kit for the Voyager Mystery Knit-a-Long last year, and it subsequently languished in my stash. After feeling guilty, I used the Ravellenics as an excuse to finally tackle it, and though I did not make my deadline, I’m glad this yarn kit did not get swallowed up into my stash black hole.
Pattern: Voyager MKAL (inspired by Season 3 of Outlander). Available for purchase on Ravelry.
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock and String Quintet in the exclusive Voyager colorway kit. I’m not sure if the kits is still available, or of Lorna’s Laces can hook you up with the colors.
Needles: US 4
Notes and Mods: No mods on this one, though I’m on the fence about a-symmetrical shawls, but that’s just personal preference. The slipped stitch techniques made for an interesting fabric, and the lace offered a nice break. But dang if weaving in the ends didn’t take foooor-evvvvv-errrr. Good project, but I’m ready to take a break from fingering weight shawls for a while.
**Knitting readers, just as an FYI, I updated this post about Yarnbox versus Knitcrate. While I may give Knitcrate another try after having to break up with Yarnbox, I’m interested to hear any recommendations on other yarn subscriptions, so drop a comment if you have one**