Warm and happy

In January, I cast on and cast off for the fastest sweater ever made. The oh so popular Owls by Kate Davies. Nothing but utter love for this knit. It took a total of 7 days and fits like a dream.

o w l s

No mods were made. I measured myself at the 38 inch bust size and knit the 38 inch bust size. I got spot on gauge with the called for needles. I lengthened the body and arms of the sweater since I am a long person. I used the called for yarn, British Sheep Breeds Chunky, in the now discontinued color of Dark Gray Welsh. Since I have a long body, the added length to the sweater required me to crack into a 7th skein to finish the ribbed collar of the sweater, but if I were a bit shorter I would easily get away with this size and 6 skeins of the yarn. (ravelry project page here) That’s ok. It leaves me with some yarn to add to my pretty scrappy hexagon crocheted blanket.

hexagons in progress

This blanket is one of the few yarn projects on my knitting/crochet priority list. I am a polygamous crafter and it stresses me out. The few times that I’ve solely committed to a singular project, I finish it so quickly and get to enjoy both the process and product. Unfortunately, after I work on something monogamously I usually have a fit of casting on for a large number of things and feel like a hurricane. It sucks, really. I am always flitting from thing to thing without finishing much of anything. I do this in most aspects of my life but it isn’t a comfortable role for me. I hate it every step of the way but have a hard time reigning it in.

Enter my priority list. I have a few sweaters, a pair of socks, and this crocheted blanket on there. I’m only working on these projects right now and destashing a lot of yarn, ripping out long abandoned projects, and thinking of things besides knitting that I want to do, used to do, and love to do. I am going to try a bit of knitting quitting at the end of this list. I have a ukulele that I want to learn to play. I have a few quilts I want to finish. I have many books I want to read. I have lots of bike rides I want to take. And since I don’t know how to accomplish everything in my small amount of free time, I need to try freeing my time a bit more.

It’s scary. It’s unsettling. And it’s weirdly freeing.

Have you ever had to tell yourself to stop something, take a step back, and re-prioritize? How did you handle it?

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c o l d

I’m keeping warm over here, with the fresh snow outside (only 5 inches in Philly), hot coffee on the table, wool drying on the radiator, and great tunes to keep my heart and head happy (currently rotating Bruce Springsteen, the early years), and thought I’d pop in to say “hey!” and “look at some things I made” and “look at some things I will be making.”

As you may remember, last February I started working weekends at Rosie’s Yarn Cellar and could no longer resist the call of the Manos Rittenhouse 5-ply. You haven’t tried it yet? Shame on you. It really is amazing. AMAZING. (Rosie’s also ships, ahem. In case you need some enabling and can’t find it locally). This was also during a time of great strife for me, computer-wise. My trusty laptop had become the breeding ground of a nasty virus and one of my friends was kind enough to help me out on that front. In true barter fashion, all he asked for was a handknit hat in return. One that he could throw his hair up into, push back on his head a bit, and keep warm and awesome in its slouchiness. Well, that just begs to be the Felicity Hat if you ask me.

I knit this blue one for myself, since I had unexpectedly gifted my previously made one to a dear friend while dancing around drunkenly together at her housewarming party a few months prior.

FO 2010 : finished back in february

I wore this hat for many months last year, very pleased with it. Sadly, it never really lived up to the awesomeness of that first Felicity hat. I don’t think I knit the body of the hat as long as the first.

Felicity

I also knit this brown one. This one being for my computer savvy friend with a penchant for slouchy hats. Of course, due to bad schedules on both our parts I didn’t end up gifting him a handknit hat until well into early summer. At that time, I had misplaced this brown one and so the blue hat when to live on the head of an amazing drummer and the brown one became mine. The brown one is my go to hat for cold days. The Rittenhouse has held up without any pilling through a lot of putting on, taking off, being shoved into coat pockets, dropped on the floor, stuffed into the bottom corner of a bag (I need my knits to be hearty, since I am not so super delicate with clothes. Clothes are meant to be worn and loved.).

These two hats cemented my absolute love for the Rittenhouse 5-ply and the colorway Smoke might be the most perfect gray every created. After seeing a friend design a gorgeous cabled sweater with this yarn, I knew I wanted to make something with cables in it for my next project with this yarn.

I need to finish this sweater

I cast on at the end of summer but sadly this sweater’s progress was seriously derailed by some deadline knitting quickly followed by holiday knitting. This is my next big thing to tackle and finish. I already know that this sweater will bring nothing but smiles. (Knitting details: Lauren by Ann Weaver. Manos Rittenhouse 5-ply in Smoke. Size 7 needles. Alternating skeins every other row)

I need to finish this sweater

In conclusion. Manos Rittenhouse 5-ply. I love you.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s a picture of our kitchen-to-be! We gutted the old kitchen and gutted the room where the new kitchen will be and are plowing ahead with this project. I will definitely show more photos of this room in progress, since it will be our largest renovation undertaking.

Coming Soon! New Kitchen!

My love for Rowanspun Aran…

December 30, 2010

A year or so ago, I acquired a small lot of 6 skeins of Rowanspun Aran in a dark blue color. It was initially going to become a Garter Yoke Cardigan, but after I increased way too much on the raglan and I had to ripout I decided to put the yarn aside for something else. It was one of those moments of realization that while you love the yarn and love the pattern, it wasn’t coming together right. I’m trying to listen to those realizations when they happen, instead of ignoring them until the project is almost finished, or finished, and all I have is regret and the need to rip.

Rowanspun Aran

Along came Idlewood, and I knew that would be the right pairing of pattern and yarn. I cast on shortly after Rhinebeck and finished before Thankgiving. A quick knit that when bound off filled me with the realization that yes, this was perfect and I would be wearing this sweater all the time.

another shot of my finished idlewood

I have been. I wear it at least once a week. It’s the perfect layering sweater for the cold we’ve been having, and the yarn is so crunchy yet soft. Rowanspun Aran has won my heart over. It really sucks that it’s discontinued and only a few people are destashing it on Ravelry but not in quantities or colors I really want. The texture of the yarn reminds me of Manos Classica in it’s subtle thick-thin and the fabric it knits into is gorgeous. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it. In fact, I really need to wash and re-block it today so I can continue to wear it ad nauseum. I really need to knit another one of these sweater, with a little longer of sleeves. Perhaps elbow length or even 3/4 length? But what yarn to use?!

Details:
Pattern: Idlewood by Cecily Glowik Macdonald
Size: 40 but at a smaller gauge
Yarn: Rowanspun Aran, colorway 965, used ~4.5 skeins
Needles: US 9 | 5.5mm
Mods: My gauge is a tad tighter, so I am knitting up a size and fitting it to me as I knit. I used size 9s for both the cowl and the body since the fabric was fine enough, and drapey enough. And I didn’t notice that I was supposed to use a larger needle for the cowl. Heh. I didn’t follow the directions for the increases, as I am not very curvy. I did 2 sets of increases spaced accordingly, since I tried on the sweater to place them. I added 2 inches to the length of the body, since I am a long person and the length in the pattern didn’t hit where I wanted it to in order to get more of a tunic silhouette.

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I also used the left over half skein to knit a winter hat for my dear brother. He doesn’t usually wear winter hats but has been this past season since upstate NY has been mighty chilly. Poor thing is wearing the hat I made him years ago when I started picking up knitting again and I know that hat is too small. I’m sending off this warm treat to him soon to keep that smart brain warm.

Rowanspun hat for my dear brother

Details:
Pattern: Kim’s Hat by Kim Hamlin
Size: Largest (my brother is 6’3”. That’s a big human.)
Yarn: Rowanspun Aran, colorway 965, ~.6 of a skein (~160yds)
Needles: US 8 | 5.0 mm
Mods: ribbed brim is 2 inches long and the body of the hat had added length too. Wanted to make sure he could fold over the brim and keep most of his ears warm still.

OH…AND…both of these projects came totally from stash so they count for my Stashdown project! How exciting!

Soup weather

November 10, 2010

Philadelphia is getting chilly! I’m not quite used to the cooler temperatures yet, on account of having the hottest summer ever, but I’m looking forward to the winter. We’ve been eating a lot of soup around here, to ward off the evening chill.

I usually make a big pot of bean soup but this time I tried something new. Having a few vegetables around that I wanted to use, and knowing that I love pureed soups, this was a no brainer.

Cabbage + Potato + Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:
1/4 Green Cabbage Head, chopped
~5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped
~5 Purple Potatoes, chopped
1 small Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
Milk (I used Rice Milk. Water could work too, I guess)
Garlic, salt, pepper, other spices to taste

Directions:
Boil the chopped cabbage, chopped potatoes, and chopped squash until soft.
Drain and blend (I ran it all through the food grinder on my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer)
Add (rice) Milk until the mixture reaches consistency you like.
Simmer on low, adding garlic, salt, pepper, etc to taste.

And enjoy!

Have a great day. I’m cooking up another batch of this soup this afternoon! Soup galore!

FO 2010 | Ulmus Shawl

September 28, 2010

Well, this shawl is simply fantastic. Why it took me so long to finish it is beyond me.

FO 2010 | Ulmus

According to my project page on Ravelry, I started this little number in May 2009 when the pattern was released. I was immediately enamored with it, since stripes are kind of a passion of mine and this would give me a chance to utilize 2 skeins of sock yarn from stash to make something so cute.

Ulmus

I went with a skein of Madelintosh Sock in Norway Spruce (oh look. teal. what a surprise) and a skein of Socks that Rock Lightweight in Obsidian (I do love brown), with plans to knit to largest size. And I cast on and knit knit knit for a little while. And then I put it down to start something else, with all intentions of returning to Ulmus shortly…

YIP 2009 | 6.26.09

…and then all of a sudden it’s 2010. I put this project on my stash down list because I really wanted to get it finished and around my neck. That plan proved successful because now it is finished, in all its choqua glory.

I ran out of the Norway Spruce yarn at the end of the border, so I had to omit 2 rows and bind off with some Louet Gems in teal. See? Having a lot of teal yarn really does pay off, eh?

FO 2010 | Ulmus

Details:
Size: Largest in pattern
Needle: US 6 – 4.0 mm
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight (Colorway: obsidian)
Madelinetosh Tosh Sock (Colorway: norway spruce)
Louet Gems (Colorway: teal)
Mods: Omitted last 2 rows before the bind off

Reaping rewards

September 15, 2010

So, I live in a small house. A small house in a city. A small house that has great bones but needs some cosmetic love. Slowly (ever so slowly) Kasy and I chip away at things around the house, inching our way towards the inevitable goal of finishing the home renovations and making each room uniquely us. A few months ago we had a long talk about getting serious about it. If we kept at the renovations at the pace we were taking it would be at least 10 years before we saw much of anything. Enough was enough.

We made a long list, organized by rooms, and decided to start attacking each room one by one until complete. We’ve been wanting to build some things but much of the work is sanding, patching walls, repainting. Since Kasy is far more talented weilding power tools than I am, or hope to be, that means the sanding of spackle is left to me.

I. hate. sanding. spackle. There. I said it. Not like it’s been a secret. I cut corners. I cheat. I want to get it over with as soon as I begin. I’m trying to get better at doing it right instead of quickly, but really…can’t doing it right also mean it’s done quickly? Figures.

Well, after weeks (months, it feels like) of living with the living room in our dining room, and our dining room furniture stacked in the room that will eventually be our new kitchen, we finally finished things to where we could put a room back together and in better shape than before.

Behold.

Before (a shot taken of the first floor, when Kasy did a walk through when buying the house)

dining room to living room

This photo is after we put in a new vestibule and repainted the green.

Before we installed the floor

After

Living room - After

Living room - After

I know! Amazing right?! We are so incredibly pleased, and we have avoided leaving the living room when possible. It’s the prettiest room ever!

We purchased bamboo flooring a few months ago and had it stacked in a room “curing” to the humidity and temperature of the house. Using a manual nailer, and powered by enthusiasm and the promise of cold beers and ciders in the fridge, we managed to nail in 1/3 of the room before calling it quits for the night.

bamboo floor installation

When I came home from working Sunday at Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, I found that Kasy had finished the floor by himself.

the head of the renovation team

I could seriously go on and on about how awesome this room is, but really who wants to hear that? I need to save your patience for when the dining room is finished (that room is next) and I go on and on about that one too.

Installing new floors is serious business

We make a pretty sweet team when we want to be.

Fall is slowly rolling in. Since summer is my least favorite season (I belong in cold weather), I am so pleased that the days are still warm but in a different way. There’s something about 85 degree heat in September that feels drastically different from 85 degree heat in July or August. Maybe it’s the cool nights. Maybe it’s the lack of the humidity. Regardless, nothing but smiles over here.

As the temperatures drop to more humane standards, I find myself continuing to wrap my arms around my possessions and my relationship with material items. As all you crafters can understand, this naturally leads to thoughts of how to manage the yarn and fabric and other crafty detritus acquired over many years of making things with your hands. Sometimes I have fleeting thoughts of dumping everything and starting from scratch, stash-wise, but then I remember how much I love the yarn and fabric I’ve lovingly picked out and purchased and how I want to be able to use it and love it as a garment or quilt. I had many crafty goals in January 2010, but sadly those are long forgotten. I still have piles of things half knit and half sewn. Many projects stalled out mid-way. And enough yarn and fabric for many more. Thus enters the 6 month Stashdown.

Starting September 6, 2010 and ending around April 6, 2010*, I have a list of projects I want to knit out of the yarn I currently have in my cupboard. The list is not really prioritized or to be followed in any real order, other than to try to accomplish the whole thing by early Spring 2011. There are some gifts, some socks, some scarves, some WIPs, and many things I’ve been wanting to have for myself. So here it goes, friends. Wish me luck! If you want to check in and see what the list is or the progress made on it, you can check out my ravelry page for finished items and items in progress or my blog page which houses the whole list.

If you find yourself embarking on a stash-down goal of your own, tell me about it in the comments or leave a link to your blog so I can cheer you along as well!

And there are some other non-crafty items to share with you, from this past summer. To whet your appetite, here’s a lovely sunset from a recent trip to Vermont. More to come soon.

Sunset driving

*Depending on how this plan goes, I may want to extend the deadline and add more projects to the list.