WIP Wednesday

So, as I talked about earlier, one of my goals this year is to knit projects using my current yarn stash, and only purchase yarn from our travels or fiber festivals. However, before I dive into new projects, I decided I needed to address my unfinished objects (UFO) bin and finish up some items that fell by the wayside for one reason or another. As much as it feels like a chore, I know I’ll feel better clearing the proverbial deck a bit. I ended up happily frogging my 2022 West Knits MKAL shawl and recovering the yarn to repurpose. I was not a fan of the knitting process or the finished product, so that was an easy decision. As for what I’m trying to finish up:

I’m on the first sleeve of the Scottish Ale pullover in Cascade Eco + in the Lichen colorway. I started this WAY back in 2018. I finished the back and promptly decided that I should have known myself better than to pick a seamed sweater. I am not a fan of the construction, but I promised G-Man I would make it, so here I am. I knitted up the front, and now I live on sleeve island for the foreseeable future.

The second project I dug out was The Shift Cowl in various colors from Spincycle Yarns. I ran out of one color completely, reordered it, and it looks like I will be playing serious yarn-chicken with the other two colors. Based on my gauge, I don’t think I should have run out with a full section and a half of pattern left, which makes me wonder. I also do not want to spend more money on the other two colors, as this yarn isn’t my favorite, so hopefully I can eeek it out with what I have left.

Finally, I picked up Bean a needlepoint stocking canvas a couple of years ago, and considering she’s about to be 11, I need to suck it up and get it done. Needlepoint is not my favorite thing to do, so I’ve designated a few times a week to put the knitting down and pick this monster back up.

So, while I am currently slogging through a few forgotten WIPS, I’m also planning and kitting-up new projects. No big blankets, no baby knitting on the horizon, and no MKALS. Rather, I have several sweaters patterns I’ve been eyeing, a cowl that I have been waiting to cast-on forever, a shawl or two, and a massive lace beaded project that I may try to knock out this year.

In the meantime, however, I’ll still be here, on sleeve island, cursing my way through it.

 

Finished Knit–Bounce Baby Blanket

As much as I now fall into the “selfish” knitter category (otherwise known as “knit-worthy peeps are few and far between”), I make an exception for babies. One of my cousins is due with her second baby soon, so it was blanket-knitting time. Since I was in the mood for color, I opted for this pattern from Tin Can Knits, using a mini-skein kit from Rainbow Heirloom. Now that I finished it, I’m ready to settle into West Knits MKAL.

Pattern: Bounce by Tin Can Knits, available for purchase on Ravelry.

Yarn: Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in the Sunshine and Storm Kit

Needles: US 7

Notes and Mods: I followed the pattern as written but reordered the kit stripes to my preference. Rather than dark to light, I wanted a dark-light-dark effect. Otherwise, this is a super-easy pattern that is infinitely customizable, and a great way to use up mini-skeins. Tin Can Knits are known for their well-written, trusted patterns, and as always, this delivered. Overall, two thumbs up on this project.

DFW Fiber Fest 2022 Recap

Last weekend was amazeballs. After wanting to attend DFW Fiber Fest for years, I finally decided that we would finally go this year. Bean was onboard, and the husband agreed that he was not adverse to being my proverbial yarn mule for an afternoon (as long as there would be Wi-Fi at the hotel and cocktails for the remaining days).

So, knowing that we only wanted to pull Bean from school for one day, we opted to head out Thursday afternoon and attend Friday and Saturday. As such, I planned on taking classes in the mornings, meet up for lunch both days, and head back to the convention center for market shopping and socializing.

The festival was held at the Irving Convention Center, and I have to say, you could feel the joy in the air when we arrived. From the yarn-bomb decorations to the cheerful volunteers, everything added to the atmosphere of excitement of finally coming together. I felt like it was well-organized all around as a festival.

Let’s start with classes. I opted for a class called “I Hate Color Theory” by Peggy Doney, which was supposed help students learn more about color theory and complementary colors, which would culminate in the class dying a personal skein of yarn. Overall, the class had potential but seemed to suffer from technical difficulties, missing equipment, and loss of structure. I still had fun, but I think it missed the intended mark.

For my second class, I took “Love Notes to My Future Self: The Art of Keeping a Crafting Journal” by Alissa Barton. The instructor is big into artistic journaling and passed around many examples and offered materials suggestions. I’d say it was more inspirational than instructional, and we finished up with over an hour of class time left. Regardless, I had a good time and will definitely take more classes next year.

After classes and lunch, it was market time! The festival featured a huge and diverse vendor list, and I believe there was something for EVERYONE. On day one, the husband came with us and that’s when we did the most of our purchasing. Without further ado, here’s our fiber haul:

Bean picked up this bag and the matching shirt from Sharpin Designs.

She also picked out this yarn from Black Cat Fibers.

Finally, she chose stitch markers inspired by Harry Potter and Hamilton respectively. I don’t have a picture of it, but she also ended up with a skein of sock yarn a kind knitter was de-stashing during our social time.

As for me:

These gloriously Halloween-feeling skeins from Whimzee Stitches.

This set from Suburban Stitcher.

A sweater’s quantity, also from Suburban Stitcher.

A Peace, Love and Knitting kit from the Bead Biz.

Spinning Fiber from Frabujous Fibers.

Legend of Zelda and Horror Movies stitch markers.

Stranger Things-inspired project bag from All with Love. I snagged the last one. #sorrynotsorry

And somehow, the husband wandered off and came back with an Alpaca in a Christmas hat from Rancho Inca Alpacas, proving that you can’t leave him unsupervised for long.

We also picked up graphic socks and I tucked away a drop spindle for Bean as a holiday gift.

Aside from classes and the market, the festival featured other events and meet-ups, and plenty of places just to stop, knit, and chat with fellow fiber artists, which Bean and I enjoyed. However, since I didn’t want to wear both her and my husband out, we kept our days balanced.

As for hotels, we stayed at the Omni, which was not a festival hotel, and I won’t stay there again. The Westin across the street would have been a better choice, but I was late to the game in booking.

So, that barely scratches the surface of how much we enjoyed DFW Fiber Fest 2022, and we will be back next year. We ate good food, met lovely people, and got to pet all the fiber. What more can you ask for?

 

Finished Knit–“Feel the Bern” Cropped Sweater

Well, would you look at that. I convinced two of the Heathens to model a sweater. Will wonders never cease.

Pattern: “Feel the Bern” by Caitlin Hunter, based off of the infamous mittens that Bernie Sanders wore to the inauguration. Available for free on Ravelry with the request for charitable donations toward organizations that address food insecurity (Meals on Wheels, local food pantries, etc.).

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the Cream, Duncan, Steel Cut Oats, and Potting Soil Mix colorways.

Needles: US 5 and US 7.

Notes and Mods: No real mods on this one. I wish I had gone up a needle size because my colorwork knitting can be pretty tight, but that’s what happens when you don’t swatch. I had cast-on-itis after the queen-size Slipstravaganza blanket, so I dove in headfirst. If I can’t wear it this winter, one of these two clowns gets a sweater.

 

Finished Knit Alert!

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.

Finished Knits Round Up

Pattern: SubmergeHat

Yarn: Lion Brand Thick & Quick in the Denim and Black colorways

Needles: US 13

Notions: fake fur pouf (elastic attachment), button for the pouf

Notes: Bean’s friends wanted hats like the one I made her, so I whipped up two more.

Pattern: Baby & Child Gnome Hat

Yarn: Lion Brand Thich & Quick in the Kale colorway

Needles: US 13

Notes: Since I made hats for Bean’s friends (who are sisters), I couldn’t leave the brother out. This is perfect for a toddler.

Pattern: LotusFlowerBeanie

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.

Things I Loved in 2020

**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.

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I love OXO containers. My pantry is out of control, and these are helping me tame the chaos. I still want more.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The New Pie by Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Other Favorites

Knitting Podcasts

Knitmore Girls, Down Cellar Studio, Yarniacs, Two Ewes

Food Podcasts

The Sporkful (hands down one of the best), The Splendid Table, Gravy, Milk Street, Good Food.

Food Websites/Blogs

Damn Delicious, Half-Baked Harvest, Foodie with Family

Shows I’ve Binge-watched

Lucifer, Virgin River, The Chef Show, Castle Rock, The Umbrella Academy, Westworld, Anne with an E, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Netflix), His Dark Materials, The Outsider, Perry Mason.

So those are a few things that I really loved this year, and made this insanity a little bit better. We’ve been through a lot of changes, but we also had a lot of fun.

Here’s to 2021 not being a trainwreck.

Quarantine Update and a Giveaway!

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!

 

Finished Knits

Pattern: Gradient Lapghan Block 5 which is part of the ongoing Cascade Yarns Knitterati 2018 KAL. It’s available for purchase on Ravelry.

Yarn: Cascade 220 Merino in Pale Lilac colorway.

Needle: US 7

Notes and Mods: No real notes on this one. It was easy and straightforward.

Pattern: Protest is Patriotic Shawl by Nycraft Craftivist, available for free on Ravelry

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.

 

Craft, Craft, Craft All Day Long–Finished Knitting and Cricut Projects

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:

Pattern: Gradient Lapghan Block 4 from Cascade Yarn’s Knitterati 2018 KAL

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.