I took a break from my gigantic Slipstravaganza blanket, well, because I just need one. It’s up to about 900 stitches per round (true story) so it needed a timeout, or rather, I needed a break from the endless slog. I have cast-on-itis, but I have so many projects on the needles in various stages that I have to exercise some self-control.
Meanwhile, my cousin announced an impending new arrival, which, of course, means baby knitting. I broke my self-imposed project limit, because babies knitting doesn’t count. There’s a finite timeline for that kind of project, ya know? So, I narrowed down some patterns on Ravelry with similar attributes and let G-Man pick amongst the final contenders. Here’s what we got:
Yarn: Yarn Bee Soft & Sleek Solids in the Viridecent colorway (I used about 2.75 skeins).
Needles: US 10/5.0mm
Notes and Mods: I totally forgot to start my project page in Ravelry, but I know I CO more stitches because the pattern, as is, comes out narrower than I would like, per other knitters’ project notes. I looked through other projects, and I’m pretty sure I CO at least 130 stitches. As for length, I just kept knitting until I thought I was getting close to the size I wanted, then continued out the current pattern repeat before moving to the final steps. This pattern is both written and charted, fyi. Overall, beautiful, easy pattern, especially for a freebie. I pinned the completed blanket out with my Knit Blockers and aggressively steam blocked it to “kill” the acrylic. Sending this off to my cousin, then it’s back to the blanket of doom.
I really enjoyed Paperback Crush. It’s a deep dive retrospective of the teen fiction novels I devoured in the ’80s and ’90s. Divided up into a thematic approach, it explores the evolution of popular teen fiction and the history of the most iconic series. While it primarily focuses on the titular decades, the author has done her research and mentions how certain themes can be tracked back through the decades. Just browsing the classic artwork brought back memories, and the author’s humorous and sometimes wry tone made it a fun read.
Overall, pure nostalgia made me buy it, but I’m glad I did. Series like The Baby-Sitters Club and Fear Street made me catch the reading bug, which I still have today.
Nonfiction–Hooked by Sutton Foster
This book is basically a memoir from Broadway and television star Sutton Foster. It follows her extensive career and travels as a rising stage talent to mother and TV star, while also describing the tumultuous relationship with her problematic agoraphobic mother. While she does incorporate how her crafting projects served as touchstones throughout her personal journey, this book is still very much a memoir at its core, with crafting as thematic tool for the stories. Overall, it was a good read, but I was already familiar with and a fan of the author. Because it’s mainly a memoir with crafting as an ancillary topic, it could be misleading if you don’t read the jacket or reviews.
Nonfiction–Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off
I’d say this book is solidly for knitters. It’s a fun, whimsical and funny look at the knitting community, including how specifically diverse, strange, and neurotic we can be. As a prolific knitter who fits many of the author’s descriptions, I found it to be an entertaining, lighthearted read. So, if you are a knitter, it’s great. If not, it’s not for you (unless you live with a knitter and need a guidebook to our world).
Fiction–The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
This novel brings together a diverse cast of characters as they take a cooking class at a local restaurant. The chapters focus on their backstories, while weaving together the lessons from the class into their personal journeys and future goals. It’s beautifully descriptive, and a short, easy read if you like novels with food/cooking as a backdrop to the story. I will say that, while I enjoyed this one, I was slow to finish it. I appreciated it as a whole, but it was more of a pickup-putdown read for me.
So, there’s the recap (excluding the trashy romance novels that get me through carpool). That puts a respectable start to my embarrassingly tall TBR pile, I hope.
I picked up my four exhibits from the State Fair today, and clearly I’m happy as a clam with the results. However, this year has been bittersweet. Compared to years past, I saw much lower participation in all of the categories, not to mention that the fair itself had a whole lot of open space due missing vendors/rides etc. I know it’s a sign of the current times, but I miss seeing the variety of talents from the exhibitors. Anyway, here’s a recap of the projects:
My Let’s Boogie sweater won first place in the miscellaneous knitted garment category.
My Swing Left socks won first place in knitted socks.
If you’ve never looked into competitive exhibitions at your local fair, it’s definitely worth checking out. From canning and quilting to photography and woodworking, there are so many ways to participate. It’s a great way to learn more about your community, and get some inspiration, especially if you are a maker.
Now, I guess it’s time to start brainstorming for next year.
So, we survived the first nine weeks of school, but getting back into the routine was not without it’s challenges. I did not miss getting up earlier and spending nearly two hours of my day in the carpool line one bit. However, everyone is back to their respective routines and that’s given me some welcome knitting time. So, here’s a round-up of what’s on the needles, in the queue, and what I’m stalking.
First, I fell in love with the Slipstravaganza blanket from Stephen West, and immediately ordered the kit from his shop. I love that it’s knit in the round and the play on textures, and it’s going to be an awesome FO if I actually conquer this beast of a project. I’ve made it to the bubbles section, and I’m hoping to finish it by year’s end.
I still have a Vanilla is the New Black second sock languishing on the needles. Every time I’m determined to finish it, a new pattern or project lures me away. It WILL become mandated car knitting, so I can stop procrastinating.
As for future knitting, I am going to have to declare the coming months a stash-only, queue-clearing affair. As I was cleaning my closet out last night, I have no less than 8 projects with the yarn kitted up and ready to go, including The Shift cowl:
As for holiday knitting, I don’t foresee gifting any knits this year. I already made hats for the neighbors, baby gifts for another neighbor, and a baby blanket for my cousin this year, so my knitting mojo has swung back into selfish territory. Now, if I can just stay out of the yarn shop…
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: Loops & Threads Impeccable in the Forest colorway
Needles: US 10
Notes/Mods: This is an easy lace pattern, but you do need to realize that on two of the pattern rows, the stitch markers will change positions. I steam-blocked this to set the lace since the yarn is 100% acrylic. Probably my favorite baby blanket to date, and it the recipient loved it (they even passed it around at the shower). Overall, very happy with this project.
My cousin is about to have her first baby, which of course, means baby knitting! I rarely knit for others anymore, but babies are always the exception. I got the shower invitation and went to work, finishing just under the wire. I also managed to burn through my binge-watching queue while I was at it, so I need to find a new show for my knitting time.
I really prefer Berroco Comfort yarn when knitting baby stuff, but my LYS was closed and I HAD to get started with that tight timeline. While Impeccable yarn would not have been my first choice, it blocked well, and it felt much better knitted up to me than the Snuggly Wuggly yarn (also a Loops & Threads yarn) I used on a previous baby blanket.
Whelp, now, it’s back to the UFO pile, because I need to stop starting projects until crap gets finished. I current have 4 projects on the needles, which is just too much. But, I confess, I have a severe case of “start-itis” going, so we shall see.
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.
The dreary grey days continue here in Louisiana, and I want to spend all of my time knitting allllll of the things. The endless Bernie mitten memes certainly do not helping matters, and my to-be-knit pile grows by the week. I miss hanging out at my local yarn store, knitting and chatting with our colorful group of north Louisiana knitters, but I’m still cranking out projects regardless.
Yarn: Loops & Threads Charisma in the Denim colorway
Needles: US 10.5
Notions: a detachable (snap) fake fur pouf from my LYS
Notes: I whipped this up for G-Man’s girlfriend, because she is definitely knit-worthy. I’ve made several Snappy Hats, as they are good for quick gifts. I used the craft store yarn because I’m pretty sure a college student doesn’t have time to hand-wash and dry knitted garments in their dorm room.
Yarn: Lion Brand Thick & Quick in the Denim colorway
Needles: US 13
Notes: I made the 14/15 size, and for reference, Bean is almost 9, so she has room to grow into it. She suddenly fell in love again with the now too-small red Azel pullover I made when she was 4, so I whipped this one up last week. She loves it, wears it constantly, so I’d call it a success.
Yarn: Lion Brand Thick & Quick in the Denim colorway
Needles: US 13
Notions: fake fur pouf (elastic attachment), button for the pouf
Notes: I had leftover yarn from the Azel Pullover, so I knit up this hat in a couple of hours while binge-watching Bridgerton on Netflix. It only took half a skein, so I will probably make another for her friend.
Notes: I made the Hubs a quick scarf, despite the fact that he’s not really a “scarf guy” per se. However, I promise, if it gets as cold again as it did a couple of weeks ago, I promise you he will come around. Easy pattern, and 2 skeins provided plenty of length.
So, those are a few of the projects I’ve finished over the past few weeks. I have at least five new projects I want to cast on, but I also need to address some languishing WIPs are outstanding, as well as a few I already have “kitted up” into project bags. Somewhere in there, I need to make some forward progress on the new needlepoint stocking for Bean.
**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.
I’ve been knitting up a storm lately, so here’s what’s off the needles.
Pattern: Fantastitch by Stephen West (available for purchase on Ravelry)
Yarn: WalkCollection Bliss in the Stone, Volcanic Sand, Artic Wolf, Limestone, Dutch Sky, and Birch Tree Colorways
Needles: US 4
Notes: No mods on this one. It is one of my favorite projects, even if it took me FOREVER. But that’s because this thing is huge! It’s about 9 feet from point to point, hence my need for G-Man to model it for me. As always with Stephen’s patterns, it was clear and easy to understand, and though I did not need them, he usually has tutorial videos on certain techniques. Overall, thumbs up on this project.
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces String Quintet in the Blueberry Cobbler colorway set
Needles: US 4
Notes: I’ve had this yarn languishing in my stash for years. It came from the now-defunct YarnBox, and I could never figure out what to do with it. When I saw this pattern, I knew it would be perfect for this yarn. The pattern is very easy and well-written. I think my only complaint is the nylon content and high twist of the yarn did not produce as smooth of a fabric as I prefer. Bean loves it so I am forseeing her “borrowing” it quite a bit.
Yarn: Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok in the Highland Fleece, Earth Ivy, Spring Ice, and Midnight Sea colorways
Needles: US 6 and US 7
Notes: This has been a popular pattern for years and I finally decided to work it up. It’s my first attempt at stranded colorwork, and a good starting project to learn the techniques. (If you are hesitant about colorwork, it’s easier than you think. I avoided it for years, and now feel silly). This yarn is an excellent choice for colorwork because the fibers really encourage the stitches to “stick” together. Easy pattern as well.
Pattern: Swing Left Socks by Just Run Knit Designs
Yarn: Little Skein the the Big Wool’s House Sock in the Swing Left colorway
Needles: US 1
Notes: I bought the Sock the Vote kit from Little Skein in the Big Wool (Anne) back in 2016. I saved it for this year and worked on them when we travelled a couple of times. Forgive the pic. It’s not easy to take a picture of a sock on your own foot. I wasn’t a big fan of the German short row heel technique, but that’s because I don’t think I was grasping it with the way it was worded. If you already have a sock heel construction you prefer, it would be easy to sub it in. I enjoyed finally knitting myself some socks, much to my husband’s complaint. He loves handknit socks, but his giant Neanderthal feet make me feel like I am in a sock knitter’s hell.
So there’s the update on the knitting front. I am taking a break from some current projects/plans in order to knock out a few knits for Christmas gifts. My son’s girlfriend is definitely knit-worthy, so I’m hoping to knock out some mittens and a hat for her. I may or may not whip up some gifts for neighbors, but I do know I need a break from fingering-weight projects. I could go for some more instant-gratification projects. Time for some cozy movies and cozy projects.