Friday, April 21, 2017

To the beach... or UVA

We've been experiencing unseasonably sunny days and warm temperatures lately.  Normally, April is a month of rain showers with the temperature spiking crazily up and down, but this April has been sunny and the temperature has frequently been hitting the upper 80's.  It's making me crave the beach.  In fact, I'd sell my own children to be at the beach right now.  Luckily for my kiddos, Knit Picks is making it easier for me to at least pretend I'm at the beach.

gradient sock yarn being knit into a triangular shawl.
Knit Picks Stroll Gradient yarn.

Last week, while I was working those crazy hours, a box from Knit Picks showed up on my doorstep and guess what was inside - two skeins of Stroll Gradient.  What does yarn have to do with pretending to be at the beach?  The colorways are Sea You Later and Lifeguard.  Unless they have colorways named Sunburn and Shark (which they don't,) it doesn't get much beachier than that!

I'm knitting a.... well, I'm not even sure what I'm knitting.  The finished piece will be some form of shawl or scarf in a triangular shape. The original plan was to knit a long triangle shape until I'd used up half the yarn then start decreasing.  But I may never do the decreasing.  Instead of making a looong, shallow triangular shawl with the point in the center, I may just make it an even longer triangle with one narrow end and one wide end.  It's a work in progress.

While the design may be a work in progress, knitting with Stroll Gradient is definitely not work!  I've knit with other forms of Knit Pick's Stroll before.  Knit Picks offers practically a full catalog's worth of varieties of Stroll.  There's regular, flat colored sock yarn, there's Tonal, Hand Painted, Glimmer, Tweed and probably a few others I'm forgetting.  But for reasons unknown to me, Stroll Gradient is the softest.  It has the same fiber content as the other yarns so maybe I'm just imagining it being softer.  Maybe it's the beachy themed colors I chose.  Maybe it's that the yarn came in ready-to-knit cakes and I didn't have to pause to wind the skeins.  Whatever the cause, I swear, this yarn is softer than the others and I am having SO much fun knitting with it, even if it looks like I'm knitting a UVA scarf instead of a beach themed masterpiece.



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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Belated Easter

Happy belated Easter!

Evil Easter Bunny plant
Is that not the most horrifying Easter decoration you've ever seen?  Well, maybe not THE most, but it definitely ranks up there.

Whether you pray to the church or Cadbury, I hope your Easter was enjoyable.  Mine was.... wonderful and as terrifying as that bunny plant.  Easter Sunday marked the end of working ten straight days of 10 to 14 hour shifts.  After not working all winter, the week was an interesting experiment in sleep deprivation & burn out.  By Friday I was struggling to do the simplest tasks, things like counting to ten and remembering to take the top off the pen before I tried to write and yet, I could still do the complicated things without much trouble. By Saturday, I was starting to turn mean and by Easter Sunday, I was oddly okay.  Although I was working on only about four hours sleep, I was much more energized and I felt like I was thinking much clearer.  Pretty amazing what a handful of jellybeans can do for your attitude!

Working that many hours, absolutely no knitting got done all week. Even my Knit Picks order sat unopened on my desk for four days before I had a chance to open it.  I can't wait to show you what it contained.  It's rainy and gross and dark and dreary in the house today but hopefully the sun will shine once again tomorrow and I can get some decent photos.  I bought a bunch of Stroll Gradient and it definitely deserves sunshine.

And now, I'm going to go catch up on my knitting.  Catch up on my knitting and binge watch Shetland on Netflix.  Have you seen Shetland?  If not, you must!  It's a crime/detective show that takes place in the Shetland Islands.  I have to admit, I end up paying more attention to the knitting than I do the storylines but.... the scenery is perfect to knit to!



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Monday, April 17, 2017

Makers' Monday - Gifts for Mom

Welcome to Makers' Monday, a celebration of knitting designers, artists & creatives.

The plan was for this post to be about handmade giftables for moms who knit.  Hand lotions, cute stitch markers, project bags, knitting jewelry, notepads with sheep on them.... things like that.  That was the plan.  But the first thing I searched for was handmade soaps on Etsy and well, we now have an entire blog post on handmade soap.  Soaps that any knitting mom should love.

decorative soaps from Tularoo Soaps for Mothers Day.  Mother's Day gift ideas
Knitted Soap from Tularoo Soaps

What knitter wouldn't want these adorable knitted soaps from Tularoo Soaps?  The shop offers these mini bars in sets of various sizes as well as full sized bars.  And even if you're some kind of knitting weirdo who doesn't want knitted soap, you should still take a look at the shop.  The artistry of their soaps is amazing and they offer great customer service.

Another shop with fantastic customer service is Sweet Sheep Body Shop.

Sheep Shaped Soap from Sweet Sheep Body Shop

I've purchased solid lotions from the Sweet Sheep Body Shop numerous times and have loved every single scent I've received.  The lotion absorbs into my skin quickly and leaves just a tiny hint of scent on my hands.  I don't know how they do it but my hands will smell slightly like the lotion but the scent is never transfered on to my cookies. (I really hate it when lotion makes my cookies taste funny.)  Until I started researching items for this post, I didn't even realize the shop sold soap.  Look!  It's sheep soap!  Sheep shaped soap made from goats milk.  Every knitter should have some sheep shaped soap!

But what if Mom is some kind of weird non-knitting soap lover?

gifts for Mother's Day
Vanilla-Coconut Soap from Rustic Edge Soaps

How about this vanilla-coconut goatsmilk soap from Rustic Edge Soaps?  I'm not typically very girly so I'm fascinated with the color of this soap, plus I love the idea of the vanilla and coconut scent. I'm also in love with the shop's header.  It's goats.  Y'all know how much I love goats.

hand made luxury cocoa butter & goatsmilk soap for Mother's Day
Luxury Soap from Crickett Soaps

Or, how about this soap from Crickett Soaps.  This soap is made with shea and cocoa butter and the swirls of color remind me of a hand painted yarn flat.  Knitters gotta love soap that looks like a yarn flat!

gift ideas for Mom; handmade soap with holistic healing properties
Rose and Clay soap from Sage Sweetgrass Soaps

Or how about this moisturizing rose and clay soap that promises to help with shaving issues from Sage Sweetgrass Soaps.  Not only is this soap moisturizing and helps fight those pesky shaving bumps, but it also offers holistic healing properties.

spa bath gift set; great Mother's Day gift idea
Spa Gift Set from Little Flower Soap Co.

Or how about this gift set from Little Flower Soap Co. that contains soap, lip balm and a mini bath salt?  I like how the Little Flower Soap Co. has their listing set up so that you can choose both the soap's scent and the lip balm's flavor.

choose your own scent soap, lotion & body polish gift set for Mom
Lotion Spa Set from Wild Botanicals

How could you resist an almond scented lotion gift set?  Don't like almond? That's okay because you get to choose the scent of both the lotion and soap included in this spa set from Wild Botanicals.  The set contains soap, lotion and a whipped body polish.

healing balm for dry skin, chapped lips, minor cuts & burns and eczema
Organic Healing Salve from LBApothecary

And look - something besides soap!  Last but not least, I know I could use this organic healing salve from LBApothecary.  This healing balm protects against dry skin and chapped lips and helps heal minor cuts, burns and sores as well as eczema.  I would love to receive a tin of this healing salve for Mother's Day.  This salve would be a tremendous help to me at work since the air is so dry, constantly handling money sucks the moisture out of my hands (not to mention the frequent hand washing,) and I constantly give myself paper cuts.  Someone, please forward this post to my kids!

Friday, April 14, 2017

World's Most Boring Blog Post

This blog post may truly qualify for the world's most boring post.  Most boring ever.

I've been working a lot of hours this week and haven't been able to get much knitting in, nor photos taken.  My mitered square blanket stats are currently:

Total squares needed:  384

Total squares knit:  240

Total squares remaining:  144

The weird thing about it is, even while I'm bitching and moaning about how long it's taking me to complete this blanket and how badly I want it to be finished, all I can think about is knitting another one using Knit Pick's new Stroll Gradient.  I'm also slightly obsessed with the idea of buying all the blues and knitting another Find Your Fade, but that's an idea for another day.

And for a bit of color...

Eiffel tower in spring; eiffel tower surrounded by tulips and spring flowers.
Paris in the spring, courtesy of rareinterloart.co.uk

Okay, so that's not my actual view walking into work each day, but it's close.



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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Top 5 Reasons To Go Yarn Shopping

Top 5 Reasons to Yarn Shop:


1.  The sun is shining.

2.  Your spouse is going out of town and will be blissfully unaware that UPS will be leaving eight crates of yarn on your porch.

3.  Your oldest child is turns six and you realize that in the blink of an eye, they'll be grown up and having their own babies.  You suddenly feel the need to stock up on baby yarns.

4.  A new yarn catalog arrives in your mailbox.

5.  It's a Wednesday.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

Makers' Monday - Shawls for Mom

Welcome to Makers' Monday, a celebration of knitting designers, artists & creatives.

It's hard to believe but Mother's Day is only about four weeks away.  Do you knit for Mom?  I never knit a shawl for my mom but I wish I had.  I think she would have liked to receive, and would happily have worn, any of the following.  Perhaps in honor of Mother's Day & remembrance of my own mom, I should knit myself a shawl.  (Or maybe even six!)

knitted shawl, garter stitch, stockinette; beginner knitting scarf
Magic Spring Shawl courtesy of Katerina Bobkova

I will definitely knit myself this Magic Spring Shawl sometime soon.  It reminds me of a smaller & simpler version of a Find Your Fade and I think we all know by now how much I loved knitting that.  The Magic Spring Shawl is a free (gotta love that!) Ravelry pattern designed by Katerina Bobkova of Cathy-Cathy Designs.

Or perhaps you'd like a hint of lace.

easy beginner lace shawl designed by Leah Michelle Designs
Simple Spring Shawl courtesy of Michelle Krause

The Simple Spring Shawl has just a tiny bit of lace to break up the garter stitch monotony.  Designed by Michelle Krause of Leah Michelle Designs, this would be a great beginner's lace project or movie knitting for more advanced knitters.  The lace appears to be fairly simple & easily memorized.  You won't have to play yarn chicken when knitting the Simple Spring Shawl.  Just weigh your yarn before you start, then knit until you've used up half, then begin the decreases.  Simple!

Woodland Spring Shawl
courtesy of Christina Wall

Or how about knitting a Woodland Spring Shawl?  Designed by Christina Wall of A Knitter's Life, this triangular shawl appears to be about half garter stitch and half lace.  I really like knitting this style of shawl.  You start off with simple garter and you can make lots of progress quickly.  About the time you start to think you'll go mad from garter stitch, the lace begins and holds your attention to the very end.

crescent shaped shawl with an all over lace pattern; knitting, hand knit
Primula Spring Shawl courtesy of Linda Choo

Or how about this beauty designed by Linda Choo for Garden Canadensis?  The Primula Spring Shawl is crescent shaped with an all-over lace pattern.  The size of this shawl can easily be adjusted by knitting more border repeats.  And while we're talking about the border, those pesky border nupps can easily be replaced with beads.  (Y'all know how I feel about knitting nupps!)

hand knit lace shaw for spring and summer.  Lace stole
Spring Flowers & Butterflies Shawl,
courtesy of Katherine Bryant

This one has the dreaded nupps too but once again, they could easily be replaced with beads.  And we'll forgive Spring Flowers & Butterflies Shawl for those nupps because look what else it has - Lilies of the Valley!   I LOVE Lilies of the Valley.  They happen to be my birth month flower plus they remind me of my mom.  She had acres of them growing in the yard. (Okay, "acres" is a slight exageration, but she had a lot.)  The house always smelled of Lilly of the Valley in the spring.  Even more exciting than the Lilies of the Valley, Katherine Bryant, the designer, is offering the pattern for free on Ravelry!  And, Ms. Bryant is kind enough to tell us in advance how many beads we'll be needing.  This pattern is definitely going near the top of my Ravelry que.

And last but not least, I wanted to mention the Sundae Summer shawl.  I wasn't able to obtain permission to use a photo but I thought it was worth mentioning.  It's a free Ravelry pattern, it appears to be extremely simple and quick to knit and you could make the pattern your own by changing up the weight and/or fiber content of the yarn.  The pattern is so simple, with the right yarn, you could probably wait until Saturday afternoon to start knitting and still have it finished by Mother's Day morning.

Will you be knitting for Mother's Day?  Feel free to share pattern suggestions in the Comments below.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Never ending

The mitered squares knit with sock yarn blanket....

hand knit mitered square blanket knit with sock yarn

A never ending project.

The finished blanket will contain 384 squares.  228 have been knit.  156 more to go.

And to be a masochist about it....  Each square contains 511 stitches times 156 squares equals 79,716 stitches left to knit, for a grand total of 196,224 stitches.  Plus a border.

Never. Ever. Ending.