Shawl for Comfort for Me and Recipient

Sometimes you can give and receive comfort at the same time. I showed you the beginning of my Transition shawl last week. I finished it this afternoon. Here’s the link to the project on Ravelry, if you want details.

Cozy Transition shawl, on top of my previous afghan using the same yarn.

Since I was making the pattern up based on how the yarn’s colors fell, it wasn’t stressful. I just had fun alternating garter stitch and stockinet stitch (bumpy versus smooth). It was quite soothing, which I’ve needed the past few days. This project came at the perfect time!

There was obviously no plan other than cheerful stripes.

I took a chance and decided to do a ruffle cast off, rather that doing it plain. It’s a version of a simple picot cast-off. Just Google it; there are plenty of instructions out there. I like how it added a feminine touch, which is perfect for the recipient!

Little bumps!

All went well as I proceeded along the edge of the shawl, until I felt a strange lightness in the yarn. Oh no, I was out of yarn. There was not any more whatsoever. I completely finished both skeins. Poop.

So, it’s not perfect. Just like me.

I did have enough to finish if I just bound off normally. So, I regretfully did so. There were other options, but none would result in the pretty white edge. The shawl isn’t for wearing in public, just to sit around the house, so maybe it’s okay. I may look for a skein of super bulky yarn that is a similar white, though. Having the edge a slightly different white might be okay.

Any knitters out there have another suggestion?

Here’s the next yarn. Noro Kureopatora (that’s Cleopatra in Japanese) 100% wool.

Comfort Walking and Knitting

Another crazy day in the US, but I’m feeling a little better, because I took my own advice and got outside more. It helped that the weather was a bit better. Even just taking a walk around the office brought me delight. I picked these pretty pecans (which I will take home and eat!).

Such pretty nuts

I also enjoyed stopping at one of the least-attractive parts of my walk to enjoy the Carolina snailseed vine in its winter glory.

The seeds look like little jewels.

The vine really grew over the summer as no one’s maintained the properties this fence supposedly demarcates.

Note the little strip of leftover snow!

When I got home, I enjoyed walking to see the horses. They’re all fine. I keep having to fix Lakota’s blanket, but it’s gonna get cold again, so he needs his comfort blanket.

Speaking of comfort, my knitting has really provided a lot for me this week. I knit hugs into every stitch. Look how big it is now!

I’ve gone through all the colors.

I hit a snag last night, though. My knitting needle tip came out! That caused stitches to go BOING. Oops. Thank goodness I have two sets of this size needle tip, and I can switch them out. I’m sad, because I love the set I’d been using, but I realized they are at least ten years old!

This is an original KnitPicks interchangeable needle set.

I like the clear ones, too. They are a little more “sticky” so I like them for lace. They’re working fine on this shawl. Thank goodness I have so much knitting stuff I hardly ever have to buy anything.

See through needle tip. It’s pretty.

Nowadays there are much fancier sets, but these work. And my old friend needles bring me comfort. I’ll take it wherever I can get it.

What’s comforting you?

Cozy Transition Shawl

I’ve interrupted my planned cadence of knitting projects to finish with the leftover yarn from the afghan. I have a long-time friend who’s transitioning from male to female, and I wanted to make her something to feel cozy and loved in while recovering from surgery at the end of the month. The yarn happens to have colors pretty close to the trans flag, which is a nice coincidence.

The only image on my stock image site that has the trans flag on it. Plus a Harvey dog! Image by @arty_kat via Twenty20

I figured a shawl would do the trick, and that it would work up quickly in the bulky yarn. Ha ha, that WOULD have been true if I hadn’t started the darned thing three times. That’s to be expected if you’re making something up, of course. The first time, didn’t like my cast-on, so I ripped out a few inches.

The second time, I set off to make a stockinette stitch (smooth on one side, bumpy on the other, for those non-knitters who made it to the third paragraph) triangular shawl. I got into the third stripe, but started doubting myself, and thought maybe I was increasing wrong, because the straight side didn’t look like it was straight. I ripped that all out (it’s called “frogging” because you rip-it, rip-it).

All annoyed at myself, I looked for a pattern on Ravelry for a simple, triangular shawl, so I’d be sure to make the right shape. Of course, when I found them, I realized I hadn’t screwed up before. Sigh. But the good news is that I found a pattern with a little texture in it that might look good with the stripes, called LaLa’s Simple Shawl. I knew I’d have to adjust the pattern, since as the shawl gets bigger, the stripes will get more narrow. Here’s what it looks like so far:

Bonus Carlton head! You can see it has some garter stitch and eyelets (that look like lumps right now).

Sure enough, by the time I got to the white stripe, I was having to add more yarn from the other ball. That’s just fine, because I have the yarn. Once I finish the next color, the purply-pink, I will switch it out and do one stripe in stockinette and one in garter until it’s the right size.

Stitches in extreme close-up

I am hoping to have enough yarn left by the time it’s long enough to bind off in a cute picot (little sawtooth kind of shapes), which will look nice and make sure the shawl is flowy. We’ll see.

This is a picot bind-off. Image from this article in Knitty 2006.

My goal is to get finished by next weekend, which is plenty of time. I hope to see the recipient in a few weeks. If not, I can mail it to her.

I hope this description of trial and error gives any of you who are not very confident knitters the courage to just give things a try and start over again if they don’t work out. Sometimes you get something a lot better than what you started out trying to do!

Snow Update

This isn’t enough for a whole blog post, but I wanted to share that the roads in Milam County were fine, and I made it to work. We lost a big tree limb at the office, but it didn’t hit any cars or the building, so that’s good. The power was out at the Bobcat Lair house for 7 hours, but Anita and Pickle survived.

The sun is now busy melting the snow!

When’s a Good Time to Finish a Warm Blanket?

I know! I know! The ideal time is when there’s a winter storm warning for later in the day, with a forecast of snow! I got the bulky-weight afghan I made for my relative long enough to cover them (I added 5 inches to the length, since I had plenty of yarn).

Finished blanket before blocking

Now I just have to block it, which will happen this evening when I get back to the ranch. I started a little bonus project with the leftover yarn, which I’ll show you later.

Those of you who want the pattern will find it on the Caron site. And those of you who want to see more color possibilities can visit this page. The yarn is available at Michael’s in the US.

Exciting Saturday Activities

That heating unit above the window is doing its best.

Speaking of being at my office, here’s a newsflash. Old houses with no insulation are cold when it’s cold outside. I’m really glad I put my desk in the middle of the room, because the exterior wall is brisk and has draughts. Duh. I knew that. So, I just bundle up and fire up my little fake fireplace heater. The mini-split unit is belching warm air, but the exterior cold is too much for it. I also discovered that a warm meal helps, so I got chicken and dumplings from Dairy Queen. Well, it was warm, at least.

The scary-eyed kitties have shed their Christmas décor, the better to stare at me.

Now I just need to finish taking all the Christmas stuff down and replacing it with hearts and such. That requires going outside, ugh. While I’m at it, I’m going to spruce up my closet. Away with the 50 shoeboxes! In with organizers!

I am NOT complaining that I have a boring and domestic weekend ahead of me. Boring seems really good, and hiding in my house watching snow sounds way better than witnessing mayhem.

These two will be rotating who sits on my lap the rest of the day. Not bad.

Speaking of Warm Blankets

I also put the really warm blanket on Lakota, the old horse. I am hoping I did it right. I took three tries to figure out the front from the back. Lucky for me, Lakota was patient about it. All the other horses and Fiona have thick winter coats, so they are fine.

I also managed not to step in that horrid mud puddle while blanketing him.

I wish all of you a calm respite, since I don’t think things will be completely calm for a while.

Boom! Stats Galore!

Well, yesterday was a fun one for me on WordPress. Innocently enough, I’d posted the pattern for my Fireside Wrap on Ravelry (the popular fiber arts community website), thinking someone else might like to make one. I thought no more about it, and spent most of the day watching clouds.

Sunbeams shining on our house, way in the distance.

Then, I started getting notices that my stats were booming. Hmm, I didn’t think the post about the chicken palace was THAT interesting. So, I checked out what was happening. Oh, of course. The pattern.

Don’t I look all official.

I’d forgotten that new patterns go into a little featured area, where people can look through them. People were obviously looking (drawn by the photo of Penney, no doubt). I monitored the posts all day long, figuring I’d have more hits than usual, but not all that many more. I underestimated how many people look at the Ravelry site on any given day. Lots.

Whoa, that’s some stats!

I never had more than 200 views per day, as far as I can remember. This is not a hugely popular blog (and that’s fine with me; I write it for me, my friends, and nice other people who happen to find it). Thus, 558 blew me away. It certainly makes the rest of the week look sad, right? I’ve already got 78 this morning (written around 10:15 am), which is more usual for a normal day or a medium-popular post or posts.

As expected, the two posts about the wrap/blanket accounted for most of the hits. Still, even without the surge, there were 146 views, more than usual. I think what’s happened is that I hit the magic number of followers that gets the blog picked up by WordPress to display under certain keywords, so my tagging has done its job.

It looks like the mother ship is about to beam the Hermits’ Rest up!

Actually, I noticed that since I hit 400 WordPress followers, I’ve gotten new follows at a much higher rate. I’ve gotten 50 followers since December 4. Also, more and more people are “liking” past posts, which means they got displayed somewhere, because certainly no one is searching for them! Algorithms are pretty interesting, even for people who don’t blog JUST to attract hits and followers.

I’m glad I’m doing something right, and I’m glad that a few people might make a simple, yet pretty wrap like I made. It’s good to give back to the community in a small way. I’ll never be the fancy pattern designer I’d hoped to be, back when I was trying to be a part of the cool kids in the knitting community, but I’m there, and that’s what counts.

Bulky Yarn Time

On my quest to knit all requested items, I started my next project, which is in super-bulky yarn. It just looked so fun, and CC said he’d love an afghan from this.

Giant Anniversary Cake from Paton’s

I saw yet another slip stitch pattern on the label and thought I’d make that. When I opened it, I saw it actually called for two different colors of yarn. Oops. I had two immense balls of the same color.

The outside didn’t say “two different colorways.

I started out using just one ball, thinking the colors would change often enough to look good. But, it didn’t. So I erased a bunch and started alternating balls with every pattern repeat. Now it looks pretty cute.

Now the slipped stitches contrast. That will do.

The pattern is fun and I’m managing to knit with the thick yarn better than I thought I would. Sometimes it’s hard for me, since I’m used to the small stuff.

I love yarn labels. So informative. Acrylic is machine washable. That’s what we need around here.

The needles I found (I had lots to choose from once I got back to Austin) are a little slippery. They’re the original KnitPicks interchangeables in size 10. That’s two sizes down from the size 11s that the pattern calls for, thanks to US needle sizes having a 10.5. Knitting is weird.

That’s today’s craft update.

Honoring Simple Knits

Looks delicious!

Last night I finished the scarf I was making for Kathleen out of some yarn I’d never have bought, mainly because I don’t shop at Hobby Lobby (Yarn Bee Wildstreak Brights). It really makes up into a nice fabric, though, and is very soft. Plus, it makes a great jelly roll.

It was really fun to just sit around knitting and purling as I watched television this week, not having to think about much other than how easy it is to stick your needle in the middle of the loosely twisted roving-like yarn.

scarf
It’s pretty cheerful
It’s short, but wrapping it right would protect one’s delicate neck wrinkles.

If it were for me, I’d have made it longer, but Kathleen said she likes shorter scarves. Since it’s 100% acrylic, it will be very warm. I think it’s perfect for wearing under a jacket to protect your neck, without adding a lot of bulk under the jacket. So, it will do its job.

Now that I am making things again, I’m just going to be a bit more careful than I was in the past about making things for people who don’t realize how much time and effort (and expense) can go into hand-made items. My photos of past projects are reminders of what hard work I did, only to find the item wadded up on the floor, never worn or used. But, that’s a problem of the recipients, not me. I did take some things back when a former young housemate abandoned all her stuff. So there.

This photo just made me laugh. My feelings about ungrateful recipients.

My recommendation is that, if you knit, crochet, weave, or whatever, you do it because you enjoy the process, the feel of the yarn, the developing fabric, and the colors, not to please other people. That leads to craft happiness.

I’m ready to start the next project, which should go quickly, because it’s made from bulky yarn (also inexpensive stuff from a big box store). I do look forward to using more of my yarn from local yarn shops and indie dyers. They need our support, so much, especially right now!

Here are the rest of my pictures of the project, for your snoozing pleasure.

Another Project

I did want to share a little project I realized has been sitting around the house, just doing its job. I’m not sure what it was originally was intended to be, perhaps a wrap. It’s made with a nice Noro yarn in a pattern of knitting a certain number of rows then doing a row where you wrap each stitch 3 times.

Another simple but pretty pattern.

And I knit it corner to corner, with strategic increases and decreases to make a rectangle. I guess I got tired and stopped when it looked like this.

A striped item

It apparently occurred to me that it matched our colors in the Austin house, so it is now serving as a cushion cover for my antique rocking chair (it needs a new seat cover; my dad covered it in the 80s).

I had it on there more attractively before I took the pictures.

This just goes to show you that simple projects can be beautiful and serve well. I’m glad I’ve learned to stop trying to make more and more complicated things and to just enjoy beautiful yarns and textures. That lets me take advantage of the calming properties of my chosen hobby.

I’m always interested in what hobbies you’re using to help you pass the time, create gifts for your family, or take your mind off world events. Share away!

Rejoice, Yes, Now

This morning, I started the day out doing a presentation highlighting the work our Agile team has done in the past two weeks (the usual presenter is already off for the holidays, so I was the stand-in. I had on professional-looking clothing and got to enjoy looking at my little holiday decorations in what passes for my cubicle. Most important, I could see in my Zoom window this little sign I recently bought.

Peace, a thing I knitted, and petrified rock from the ranch.

It’s one lesson I’ve been taking to heart this year. Peace doesn’t show up, you make it happen, and it starts inside. As I was feeling peaceful and proud, I did a good job presenting all our stuff in exactly the time allowed. I may know what I’m doing!

The world may be a bit sideways right now, but we can always get some wisdom out of it, right?

There was then a company-wide meeting, at which some changes were announced that I suspected would happen, but still made me sad and added another layer to this change-ridden period we’re living through. But, our CEO told a great story at the beginning of the meeting.

He talked about listening to a golf podcast (how CEO-like) that said the word of the day was “rejoice.” Minutes later, on his commute to the practically empty office, a car cut him off (join the club!). He had to laugh when he saw the car’s bumper sticker, which read “Rejoice.” It would probably help to pay attention to your driving while you’re rejoicing, I think.

As the rest of the company wove the idea of rejoicing through their presentations, I was rejoicing over the amazing work my team had done so quickly, as well as the work our Diversity and Inclusion initiative members have done. I’m so happy to be a part of the new LGBTQ+ group and to help out with learning and development at the company. It’s amazing what people who really care about things can do, and that’s worth some rejoicing!

My work plant is not dead, and just seeing it and the little wren brings me joy.

As a company, we have found things to be happy and proud about, even during the hardest times of many of our lives. As a person, I am aware that I’ve been doing the same thing all year, in this blog, as I talk to people, and as I go about my life. There is much to rejoice about, even though some of us have to look pretty deep to find it.

No need to buy more inexpensive yarn, I can also rejoice in my immense stash, just waiting to be something someone wants! Photo from @AZ.BLT via Twenty20

And if there’s nothing going well, make something you can be proud of. That’s what we are doing at work, and I’m taking that lesson into the rest of my life. I’ve even started putting projects into my Ravelry page again (it had been sadly neglected since 2018), rejoicing in my newly simplified knitting adventures. Not only am I bringing peace to myself, I’m bringing joy. Or else. Join me!

Return to Knitting?

Another happy story, for your Blogmas pleasure. I once knitted. A lot. Pretty much every day from high school to when I moved to the ranch, I knitted every day. It was a great way to keep my hands occupied. I taught knitting to anyone willing to learn, which felt great, because it’s like giving someone the gift of never having to be bored again. I had a knitting blog and wrote up some patterns. I enjoyed being part of the local, national, and international knitting community, where I made lifelong friends.

It’s a wrap.

I stopped knitting when it ceased to bring me joy. A few things happened that caused it, and I have written a good post on this before, so go over and read it and see more things I’ve worked on. I’ve been trying to get back into it, sporadically, but I think the start I got in Utah has worked.

It’s as tall as me, so it will stay around my shoulders. I could have made it longer, but I think it will do. This was the plan, anyway.

I seem to have my knitting muscles back in shape, so I can do it a long time with no pain, and I now WANT to knit again. Yesterday I finished the project I’d started the last week I was in Utah, which is a wrap/lap blanket in a simple slip-stitch pattern (instructions here). I love how it came out, and can’t wait to give it as a Christmas gift (I can post photos, because the recipient has already seen it).

It looks good from the front and the back. It should get larger when blocked.

When I was done, I marched over to get the super-bulky yarn for the next gift project, only to find there was no needle to knit it with! We are sure we bought one when we got the yarn, but it’s gotten lost in all the travel and car changes the family has gone through.

Kathleen went into her room one last time to see if the big ole needles were hiding in there, but nope. She did come out with some yarn she’d bought earlier, which she couldn’t remember her plans for. “Make me something,” she said. So I am making a rib-stitch scarf. I like them because they look the same on each side (K1 P1 ribbing, cast on 45 stitches). That will keep me going until I can get to Austin and find one of my numerous size 9 or 10 needles.

I do like the effect this yarn makes.

Little-known fact: I am a very relaxed knitter (other than on that runner I recently made), and always need to size my knitting needles down to sizes to get the right gauge. Luckily, gauge is not vital on scarves, wraps, and throws.

Good News

This weekend, I discovered something really good, knitting-wise! The dogs are settled down enough that I can knit with them around! I have both Carlton and Penney trained to stay down by my feet, so I can knit with my project in my lap. I just have to keep an eye on Alfred’s giant paws. Harvey doesn’t jump up on me except to greet me in the mornings and evenings, so he’s good. I’ll have to work on Vlassic if I’m ever able to take him with me to Austin again!

Good Penney.

So, as long as I make simple things that can easily be interrupted, I am back to my favorite pastime. I won’t be making lace shawls, mosaic patterns, or complex fair isle, but I’m okay with that. I no longer feel compelled to show my mastery of the craft; I just want to relax and enjoy it. And I’m even using inexpensive non-natural fiber yarn (still like expensive and natural better; I haven’t changed that much, but at least moths won’t eat acrylic!)

Let’s Knit a Rainbow

I get up really early here, since meetings start at 7 in this time zone. That leaves me plenty of time to get in a workout and then knit. So, as soon as I finished the table runner, I started something else.

Can you spot the finished runner?

You may recall that I bought more yarn on Sunday.

The yarn

I looked around for something to make, and found a scarf pattern that used a simple garter stitch and slip stitch pattern. The best thing about it is that both the front and back are attractive, thanks to the magic of garter stitch stripes.

Here’s the front. a November rainbow.

The colors really look like autumn, don’t they? And the slip stitches are a cute touch.

The back is a stripey rainbow.

You’ll be relieved to know it won’t be a rainbow when I am done. It’s going to be a wrap of some kind, depending on how long it ends up. I have 6 skeins of yarn, three of each color, so it will be substantial, I hope.

Since it’s inexpensive (not cheap!) Red Heart yarn with no dye lot on the brown, I could probably get more if I need to. We’ll see!

This yarn is easy on my hands, so I can go faster than the thick linen stitch of the runner let me. What’s best? I’m letting myself knit something easy so my mind can rest. I’ve lost my drive to make complicated things!

Want to Make One?

Grab a few skeins of a solid and a self-striping worsted or Aran weight yarn that contrast or blend (mine blend). I ended up using 3 skeins of each color.

Get your favorite needles. I use size 6, because I knit loosely. You may want 8.

Cast on 150 stitches (or a multiple of 4, plus 2).** I used a knitted cast on. Knit 2 rows in the solid color (or more for a thicker border). Then use this pattern:

1. K2, *P1, K4* until last 3 stitches, P1, K2.

2. K2, * slip 2 with yarn in back, K4* to last 3 stitches, slip 1 with yarn in back, K2.

Change yarns every other row, carrying the unused yarn up the side.

End on solid color, K 2 rows (or same number as you started with), bind off.

I found the stitch pattern on “Striped Delight” by Marni Farniere. Search for it on Ravelry for two scarf ideas.

Carry on.


** If you don’t want the borders to look a little wavy, cast on 10% fewer stitches than you want and increase to the desired number on the last row of stockinette. At the end, decrease a comparative number on the first stockinette border row.