Catch Up & A New Venture

I have not posted in an embarrassingly long time. I have had a lot of knitting to share and ample time to sit down and work on a blog post, but I’ve had a hard time feeling like I deserve to spend my time doing so. I got laid off at the end of September from my job of almost two years. (Go back a little over two years and there is a nearly identical post.) I do not have the luck when it comes to steady jobs. I have also not had the luck as far as finding a new job. Most of my spare time I feel I must spend hunting for, applying for and sometimes interviewing for jobs. I am trying to remain positive that the right thing will come along, but some days that is really, really difficult. I actually feel like I’ve interviewed for the right job many times over since September but I have not gotten an offer from anyone yet. The market is very competitive right now. At every interview I have managed to get I have been told how many people (usually 50+) applied for the job and how they are interviewing at least half of them. It takes just the tiniest little things for someone else to have a slight edge over someone else. I am signed up with about 5 temp agencies (as of today) and have gotten just a couple of jobs from them since I’ve been home. One of them was a month-long. I am getting unemployment. Things could be worse…but I really just want to be done with this job hunting phase and be back to work.

I will get around to talking (briefly) about what knitting I have finished since my last post but first let me tell you about my Etsy shop. In a desperate attempt to feel like I’m contributing (even just a little bit) to my household while I look for my next job I have started an Etsy shop. I have been told by several people in the past that I should consider opening an Etsy shop and selling my knitted items. Mostly I’m selling some cute, decorative Mason Jars with knitted cozies. I made a slew of these as Christmas gifts this year. I am also posting a few items that if people would be interested in they can custom order and I will knit it up special for them. I’m not telling you about this shop to ask you to go buy something from me, but I am asking that if you are an Etsy user, please go visit my shop and maybe like it or an item (or several) that I’m selling. The more traffic that I get and the more likes I get the more attention it will draw from others and maybe some potential customers will find their way to me.. Thanks in advance!  Here’s the link: NicolesKnitGifts

New Finished Objects (corresponding photos below)

A. Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas – I made these for me. Despite having to battle second sock syndrome with these I love how they turned out and hope to make them again.

B. Pacifier Leash by Angela Munden – Made for my niece. Sometimes she likes to chew on it…silly girl!

C. Wildstyle Hat by Me – Minnie dressed up as Wildstyle from the Lego movie for Halloween. I improvised a hat to look like her hair.

D. Elizabeth Elaine Dress by Taiga Hilliard – I Love this designer. She has the sweetest little baby dresses! I am gearing up to knit another! This one was for my niece! She wore it in her 6 month photo shoot!

E. Molly Hat by Erin Ruth – One of my fabulous sisters in law and I organized a trade. I would knit her a hat and she would make me a quilted table runner. I do not have a picture of this hat on my SIL…so my husband is the stand in model.  (Don’t tell him.)

F. Milo by Georgie Hallam – I love this pattern, I have knit it a few times before. This one was part of my niece’s Christmas gift.

G. Candle Cozies by Silje Camelie – I made these as Christmas gifts for my kids teachers as well as for several family members. They are fun to knit and really cute! (These are also what I’m selling in my Etsy shop.)

H. Chopper Mitten Liners – I used the pattern Classic Mittens by the Bernhard Ulmann Co. to make chopper mitten liners for my Dad. I hope they work well for him on ice fishing trips. 

I. Calypso Shrug/Shoulder Wrap by Debbie Haymark – I started this ages ago and hated it. For some reason I remembered it and went back to work on it. It became my Mom’s Christmas gift. I still need to get better pictures of it before my Mom gets the final product this weekend.

Too Many Projects, Too Little Focus

I feel like I just posted, but I do have new knitting I haven’t talked about yet. Part of me feels like I should wait until after this weekend. I might have some finished objects to share and not just lots of in progress ones. We are headed to the Upper Peninsula for MI for the Labor Day weekend which mean a lot of travel time in the car and a lot of uninterrupted knitting time for me.

I have cast on all sorts of things recently. Sometimes when I start new knitting after finishing up knitting that is a gift for someone or has a specific deadline attached to it I have trouble committing to one project. It is like I have too much free time to just knit whatever and it all goes to my head. I wish I thought that imposing a deadline on myself would work. Unfortunately the procrastinator in me would still know that I was unbounded and my knitting would run wild.

The Ramona Racerback Tank by Katherine Vaughn seemed like a great thing to knit because I enjoyed the other tank top I knit for Minnie this summer. I have not been enjoying this pattern as much though. I did knit pretty seriously on it for a week or so and then got annoyed because it is knit flat (in pieces) and not in the round. I really hate knitting things that need to be seamed. So, as much as I was liking the idea of the finished piece I was not really giving this a lot of my time. I also realized that it was not that smart to be knitting a tank in mid August that I would probably not finish before school started again and that I couldn’t guarantee would fit her anymore next summer. (If I was being totally honest with myself I would tell you that this is probably destined to be frogged very soon.)

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Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas is one of those patterns that I’ve had in my queue forever. It is such a cute little pattern and who couldn’t use some sweet little socks/slippers? I knit the whole first slipper and even cast on the second one but I haven’t made it real far on the second. Normally I would plead second sock syndrome…but these knit up so quick that it really can’t be that. It is more likely because of the seaming (again.) There is minimal seaming on this item and while I succeeded in seaming up the first one I’m not sure it is a very flawless job. I should just finish these…I know I would wear them!

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The Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland is the perfect pattern to finally use the Yowza! skein of yarn I bought from Miss Babs for the Brickless shawl that I decided I wasn’t really that into. I have tried out this yarn on multiple shawls/cowls and not found the right thing…until now. I love the texture that this pattern produces! I am looking forward to wearing this when the weather gets cold again. It is just not that exciting to knit. And I have to pay more attention than I want to during the slip one, purl one row. I pull this out and work on a row or two here and there…it will get done, but it is not one of my all-consuming sorts of projects. I have also picked out a hat pattern that I want to knit out of the same yarn. Maybe I will even have enough yarn to make some mittens! (A Yowza! skein from Miss Babs is 560 yards!)

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The Zigzagular Socks by Susie White was cast on because the Honey Cowl was a little slow to knit. This is the project I’m making the most progress on right now. It is also the project that I carry around in my purse incase I have a few spare minutes (like that ever happens anymore) to just knit. This pattern is advertised as the perfect pattern to use your wildly variegated yarns with. I love how great the yarn on the printed pattern sheet looks knit up as this pattern, the zigzag really pops. My yarn isn’t quite as stunning…but I do like it. I have been thinking about possibly making these pedicure socks (no toes.) For some reason I have been wanting a pair of socks like that. Probably mostly so I can wear socks and flip-flops at the same time! We’ll see though. This has been weighing on mind as flip-flop season is probably quickly coming to a close. Flip-flops are probably my favorite kind of shoes.

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I also keep looking back at other works in progress that I should hurry up and finish. If I ever become a knitter who can fully dedicate herself to one project at a time it will be a miracle!

I hope I can narrow it down to a project or two (or three) for the trip to MI. And I hope that I have some finished objects to report next time I post!

Happy Knitting!

Burr!!

Happy New Year! Here in Minnesota we have started off the new year in a deep, deep freeze. My kids were supposed to return to school today from Christmas break, but they are at home enjoying an extended break since school was cancelled due to the extreme cold. And I just heard that tomorrow is cancelled as well. (Too bad I still have to go to work.) Our high temperature today is supposed to be -15. The low is -20 and that doesn’t even include the wind chill. With the wind it feels like -40s out there. Yuck! When we get back up around 35 degrees this coming weekend it is going to feel darn right tropical!

So far this year’s knitting has been all about socks. I finished the After Thought Heel Socks for Minnie I had going on simultaneously as the ones I was working on for myself. Technically I finished those last year as I finished them on New Year’s Eve. As much as I came to dread this pattern as it is so dull to work on, this is the kind of yarn that this pattern should be used for. Yarn that is vibrant and exciting all by itself that doesn’t need a busy pattern getting in the way. I love how these turned out and I love that she has worn these many days already in our frigid weather. I will keep this pattern in mind for next time I have busy yarn to use, otherwise I will stick to fun sock patterns.

Since Minnie has a finished pair of socks I decided to start a pair for LJ. I recently downloaded a pattern booklet from Ravelry called Tiny Treads. It is all sock patterns for kids! I picked one called Goosey Goosey. (I have no idea why that is their name.) I am knitting them two at a time on circular needles. I tried this before and it worked on the boring leg area of the socks, but it was a Cookie A pattern (Kai-Mei) and the feet had something rather dramatic going on and I was never going to be able to keep the left sock straight from the right and have the patterns mirror each other, so I gave up on knitting two at a time after that. I have not done it again since and have come to realize that I should. I get second sock syndrome so badly!!

I have also worked on my Brickless a bit, but made very little progress as I had to tink back to fix where I forgot to cast off 11 stitches…whoops.

I forgot to mention in my last post that one of my sister-in-laws has taken up knitting! I am so thrilled. I always love when people discover knitting. She asked if I would teach her how to knit when we were together at Thanksgiving. She came armed with yarn and a pattern. I brought needles and spare yarn to teach her the basics before she started on her first project. She had looked at some instructions on-line previous to our lesson, so she picked it up extra quickly! I am anxious to see how her first project turns out!

My family started off this year with a special treat. For Christmas my husband bought tickets for the four of us to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Orphium in Minneapolis. We Love FOTO! He and I saw it in Orlando almost four years ago. The kids have never seen the stage or movie version, but have loved the music for years. My husband has been very anxious to take them to see it. They did very well and both enjoyed it! It was a wonderful show! I was so glad we braved the bitter cold to see it.

Stay Warm!

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I Survived My Christmas Knitting

Happy belated Holidays! I don’t know about everyone else, but as much as I love Christmas, I always breathe a sigh of relief when it is all over. Mostly because I can be done knitting and knitting on gifts for others. I am wise enough to know that I don’t have the time or ability to knit gifts for everyone on my gift list, as much as I would like to. This year I knit gifts for 1 niece and 1 nephew (out of 9 total nieces & nephews), 4 teachers, my Mom, my Mother in Law and 1 item for the gift game we play with my husband’s family. I choose fairly simple knitted gifts because I know how much knitting this is. I knit 6 pairs of Simple Garter Stitch Slippers (which another of my friends on Ravelry put on their favorites list), 3 dish cloths, 1 hat, 1 cowl and 1 shawl.

The slippers were very easy, but I was pretty bored of knitting them by the 5th and 6th pair. They were a great project though because I could use left over yarn in my stash. I didn’t buy new yarn for most of these.

The dish cloths are my standard and not worth mentioning, but here is a picture of them. I always pair them with a nice bottle of hand soap for the teacher getting them.

Our kids draw names with their cousins in my husband’s family. There are just too many kids for us to buy gifts for all of them. For my niece I knit a hat. I found a cute pattern (Hat In Bloom by Lisa Gentry) and loved how the hat worked up. The pattern picture also featured a cute crochet flower. I thought, “Sure, how hard could it be?” Well, as it turns out…extremely! I cannot crochet to save my life (or my Christmas gift.) I decided I would knit a flower. The pattern I chose had you knit up all the petals separately. I knit 3 of 6 and then realized that this flower was going to be stupidly large for this hat. In the end I use 2 petals and did some beading. I think it turned out well and my niece seems to like it. At Thanksgiving my sister-in-law  and I were knitting and my nephew kept coming over and seeing how our knitting was going. Eventually he told me he would like me to knit him a black and red scarf with skulls. Imagine my delight when my son drew his name in the drawing! I LOVE how this project turned out and I think he was pleased as well. It wasn’t a scarf, but close enough. I used a hat pattern with the exact pattern I wanted for the cowl. (Skull Hat by Gina Davidson.) On a side note, every time I do a fair isle project I wonder why I don’t do more of them. They are SO satisfying to me.

Finally, everyone who has read my blog knows about this shawl already. The Saroyan! I finished and decided to give it to my Mom for Christmas. It turned out so pretty. I hope she will wear it! I want to knit another for myself in a neutral/solid color. Like Gray. I had hoped to finish this in the fall and photograph it with the pretty leaves, but the photos of it with the snow are lovely too.

It only took me a matter of hours to dive right back into my own knitting projects that were put on hold for the last month or so while I was a Christmas knitting whirlwind! I finished the After Thought Heel Socks that I have been kind of loathing. I will probably not knit this pattern again. I need some excitement in my knitting. But, the finished product is nice and I will wear these socks!

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I have been fantasizing about what to knit next and dreaming of all the new things I could start up…but I should be good and continue finishing things that got set aside previously.

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Happy Holidays and Happy Knitting!

How Time Flies!

My posts keep getting further apart and fewer in number. I just haven’t been feeling like I have anything interesting to say. That, and life has just been too busy. When my kids were little and I was kept busy in the evenings just caring for them, I imagined all the free time I would have one day when they were older and more self-sufficient. Well, I forgot to factor in how much time I would spend on school stuff with them. Between work and keeping my kids on track with the business of going to school, I have almost no time for me. And when I do get time for me I am often too drained to do much besides consider sleeping. Not that I would trade any of it for anything in the world! I am just trying to make the most if it now while I can. I’m sure before I know it we will be empty nesters and I will have nothing but time to knit and read (and I’ll wish I still had kiddos to take care of.)

Since I last posted the kids have gone back to school, LJ turned 10, Halloween came and went and just yesterday we had our first measurable snow fall in the Twin Cities. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is in a few short weeks! And I’m trying not to even think about Christmas – too close for comfort.

Despite how busy I feel, I have been knitting a few things. I am still working on the Afterthought Heel Socks. Remember how I thought those were going to be the way to go with socks because they were going to be so quick and easy?? They would be quick and easy if I wasn’t so bored while knitting them. I am hoping to finish the boring pair I’m working on for me before finding a totally busy, intricate sock pattern that will excite me and keep me interested in the knitting.

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I am also still working on the Saroyan shawl. It is lovely! I am well into the second skein of yarn. I should be able to start the decreases soon.  I am anxious to try it on and see if I’m keeping it for me or gifting it. It might be a good Christmas gift for my Mom. (Good thing she doesn’t read this.) I would happily knit this again…probably in a more solid color next time.

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I made my kids their new winter hats. Only Minnie got a new winter coat from Grandma this year. LJ’s coat from last year was a little big last year, so it was still going to work for him this year. I did make him a new hat though…now he has choices. For Allison I knit the Amanda Hat by Gina House. It was a really fun pattern to knit. It was a slip stitch pattern which creates the X’s in the fabric. For Logan I did the Mock Rib Watch Cap by Tanis Gray. I fell in love with the feel of Eco Cloud yarn at my LYS and they had a sample of this pattern knit up with this yarn. I just made it a bit less slouchy for him.

I frogged my Ice Queen. It was turning out fine, but it was slow knitting and I realized that I didn’t think I could see myself ever wearing it. I’m not glamorous enough for it and it wouldn’t mesh that well with either of my winter coats. I was sure that I would wear just a scarf out of this yarn though. So, I am slowly knitting a scarf with the yarn. I am adding a few beads though. While I’m not glamorous , I still appreciate a bit of sparkle.

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The only other new thing that I’ve started is the Brickless by Martina Behm. It is another shawl/scarf sort of piece. I think it is for me, but my projects have a way of belonging to others by the time I’m done with them. It just depends on if I think I can wear it or not. I had no intention of knitting this. One of my favorite podcasts was doing a knit a long with Martina Behm patterns, which I wasn’t participating in. Then, people started posting their shawls on Facebook and Instagram and I fell in love with it. I managed to resist for a few weeks and told myself that it could just go on my list of projects to do someday. Well, you can see how well that worked out.

Happy Autumn/Winter!!

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Some Knitting and Some Climbing

Summer is really whipping by. It is hard to believe that in a few shorts weeks the kids will be back to school again. We made a trip to the Upper Peninsula of MI a week ago for a family funeral. We packed a lot into the short 24 hours we were in town. (See photos at end of post.) It also meant a lot of extra knitting time for me, which is always welcome.

Since my last post I have finished and started a few things:

Busy J turned 2! I knit him a couple of things for his birthday. One is the Braided Ball by Marleen Hartog. I meant to take photos of it while I was at least assembling it because it was interesting. I knit 6 strips and then you kind of weave them together to form a ball/cube. It was fun to make but a bit puzzling to put together correctly. The other was a pattern I just couldn’t resist. It is called Knit Hedgehog by Purl Soho. This pattern is written so amazingly! I want to knit it again just because it was that good! I will confess that I had started my knitting for J’s birthday on another pattern. For ages and ages I have had the Sydney the Stashbusting Snake pattern queued. Well…I got a good foot and a half into knitting him and decided to stuff what I had finished to see how he was looking. When I stuffed him it revealed big holes where the wrap and turns were made. It looked terrible. It looked like there was a dropped stitch that had run all the way down. I am reasonably sure I was doing the wrap and turns right…so why did it go so wrong? I gave up that project in favor of these two. I am not sorry. Maybe someday I will try Sydney out again.

I did finish another After Thought Heel Sock. Well, really I re-finished it. The first time I finished it, it was too small. I took measurements so I’m not sure how I messed it up. In the end I picked up stitches right before where I started the toe decreases and then cut the toe off and unraveled back. Then I knit until it was long enough and finished it up. I was probably two and a half inches short. What was a thinking?? Now I need to hurry and finish the second one before they become too small for my ever growing 7 year old.

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Finally, I have been working on the Saroyan shawl/wrap. It is gorgeous! I love it! I am a little addicted to knitting it. I am probably about half way done.  It is deceptively easy and the yarn is divine. One repeat is 14 rows. So I let myself knit between 1-3 repeats every time I sit down with it. I am hoping to wear it this fall.

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Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Here are some photos of our climb of Sugarloaf  Mountain while we were in MI.

It’s Been A While

So, it’s been a while since I last posted…like a few months! Yikes! I’m not sure where the time went. Since I posted last work has been busy, school has ended for the school year, summer arrived, camping trips have commenced and two holidays have happened! I have thought a few times about writing up a new post and then before I could sit down and do it I got busy with other things and forgot. Sorry! I do have a fair amount of knitting to share!

I really wanted to make my kids’ amazing teachers great knitted gifts. I never manage to start in on these early enough though. Both teachers got homemade key chains from the kids along with a Target gift card and a small knitted item. I made both teachers the Heart Pin by Hannah Fettig. It was a quick and interesting little project. I was not totally thrilled with how they turned out, but was out of time to be too fussy. Both teacher seemed to like them though! (I heard Minnie’s teacher put it directly on and wore it for the rest of the day on their field trip!) Sorry, the quality of this photo is not great, it was taken on my phone and it is the only photo I ended up with.

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I finished some socks that had been languishing forever in the ‘almost done’ state. The trick was to ONLY take this project along on a car trip out-of-town. It was the only thing I had to work on, so naturally it was appealing. I love how these turned out. I am not a big fan of cold weather, but these will be fun to wear once fall comes around again. (These are the Traditional Gansey Socks by Wendy D. Johnson.)

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Upon finishing one of my unfinished pairs of socks I was reminded how much I do like knitting socks, but I tend to let myself get sidetracked when they are involved socks with lots of design and patterning. I have been hearing of the after-thought-heel in old podcasts of the Knitmore Girls Podcast that I’ve been catching up on and thinking…that might be the way to go. More or less you knit a big tube with ribbing at the top. You need to knit in some waste yarn where you plan to knit the heel in later and then do the normal decrease for the toe. I found a pattern with great directions and tried it out. I love it!! I have knit one sock of a pair for myself. I decided to start a pair for Minnie before finishing my pair, but in doing the math to figure out how many to cast on to make them her size I went too small. I have a baby sock instead of a Minnie-sized one. I have cast on once again for her and this one will fit…we have already tested it. Next…I need to figure out some patterns/designs to work into these quick plain socks…I’m thinking cables! (The pattern I’m using is the After Thought Heel Socks by Laura Linneman.)

I almost forgot about this one…I started this back in Mid-May when we went up to Breezy Point for the weekend. These are some mittens that I queued ages and ages ago and still love, so I finally took the plunge and cast them on. I love how they are turning out! (This pattern is Galileo Mittens by Laura Chau.)

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One of my biggest regrets right now is that my current job doesn’t allow me to knit at my desk when work is slow, like my previous job did. I would be getting tons of knitting done right now. Oh well, it just forces me to take the time in the evenings to make sure I get some knitting in. It would be nice to have more time though as I feel like I have so many projects going or that I need to start right now. I do have one other project in the works it is for Baby J’s 2nd birthday. He isn’t a baby anymore, maybe I’ll just start calling him Busy J. I can’t share it yet, but I will say that it is another project that I queued ages and ages ago on Ravelry and there is a certain satisfaction in finally getting around to knitting it for someone.

I will leave you will some of my favorite pictures from our summer so far. Hope your summer has been and continues to be wonderful!