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.

Summer At Last!

How is it the end of June already? I wish I could quote the old cliché here that time flies when you’re having fun, but I feel like I’m still waiting for the fun to start. I guess that is how it goes when you work 40 hours a week and your fun is restricted to the weekends only. I have a couple of days off coming up that will give me a four-day weekend. I am taking my kids to family camp that my father-in-law has been nice enough to get them to for the past several years. I plan to sit by the lake and supervise their swimming while I knit and knit and knit. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I have taken to eating my lunch at work outside everyday that I can so I feel like I’m getting to enjoy some summer. I typically soak in the sun while I eat, knit and listen to my most current audiobook.

I promised I would post the impromptu item I was working on for Baby Girl when I was done. I finished about a month ago already, but here they are. Leg warmers! I love leg warmers on babies. They are both adorable and practical. That being said, I’ll have to wait to see Baby Girl get some use out of these. The size range on these is about 3 months to 3 years. Right now she is too skinny to keep them on her little legs, but since it is summer that works out fine. I used a solid yarn with a variegated yarn. I almost made it though a whole color repeat. I kind of love that these coordinate instead of exactly match. (This pattern is Legwarmies by Alana Dakos)

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My daughter felt much neglected, knitting wise, during the months leading up to Baby Girl’s birth. And, looking back at the number of things I knit for Baby Girl, I guess she has a point. So, I made it my first priority to cast something on for Minnie. She actually wanted a fun pair of rainbow leg warmers too, but I told her I’d knit those in fall since she shouldn’t wear leg warmers during MN summers anyway. For a few years now I have been thinking of knitting her a summery top. I decided on the Kismet pattern by Sara Gresbach. (If you are at all interested in knitting a summer top, go look at my Ravelry profile(GreenEyed79), there are oodles of tank top type patterns in my favorites.) I am nearly done! At a certain point you split the round you’ve been knitting in and knit half for the front and half for the bank of the tank top and sew them together at the top of the shoulders. I am anxious to see how this fits and how it looks after it is blocked. At the bottom edge there is a little seed stitched edge that is probably supposed to keep it from rolling up but right now that part is always folded up over the body, so hopefully blocking will remedy that I have gotten no other work done. Just knitting and knitting on the tank top. (It has been good TV knitting as it is pretty mindless to knit endless rounds of stockinette.) I do want to get back to my Eiffel Towel shawl! I also plan to start on a Zip up the back Hooded Sweater for Baby Girl soon.

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Last week I went and spent a gift card at my favorite yarn shop (Amazing Threads in Maple Grove, MN) that I’ve been hoarding since Christmas. As I poked around looking for the best yarn to spend my money on I thought about how I go about spending a gift card. Typically I do not go in with a specific project in mind. I just wander around and buy what calls to me the most. Which is probably stupid. That is probably why some of the yarn in my stash has been unused for as long as it has. I wish I was better about shopping for specific projects. This time I did spend part of it on yarn for the hooded sweater for Baby Girl, but the rest was just random yarn that I liked and thought might knit up into something nice at some point. How do you spend your gift cards?

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I’ve been looking at my list of unfinished projects again, big mistake! How do I let things get this out of control? I need to sit down and seriously consider if I’m going to finish these items or if I should frog some of them and reclaim the yarn. I am pretty sure that the Shaelyn is getting frogged. I have come to hate that shawl. Something went wrong with it and I have spent hours trying to sort it back out and I’m not getting anywhere. And after all this time I just don’t love it like I used to. I should save the yarn and knit something else out of it.  Same with the Brickless…for as anxious as I was to cast it on, I’m not sure I’m feeling it anymore. I also think I should have used larger needles. I should go online and see what else I could do with yarn from both of these projects before I frog.

My sister has gotten some proofs back from her newborn photos shoot of Baby Girl. They are so gorgeous! I was especially excited to see photos of Baby Girl modeling some of what I knit for her. Here are few are my favorites. These photos were taken by Rebecca Zenefski. Her website is: www.byrebeccastudios.com you can also visit her on Facebook at: facebook.com/byRebeccaStudios

Enjoy your summer! Eat your lunch outside in the sun if you have to!

Here’s a picture of my kiddos from their last day of school.

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She’s Here!!

My newest niece arrived quite dramatically, early on Friday morning! She is beautiful! I got to go meet her on Friday and bring the last few gifts I’ve been working on for her (currently, anyway.) So, now I can share all that I’ve been working on for so many months!

Back in January I started in a blanket for Baby Girl. The pattern is the Zig Zag Baby Blanket by knitculture.com. I really like the pattern but I have one complaint. Why would anyone design a baby blanket that is so weirdly skinny? I cast on the larger number of stitches listed in the pattern. I knit a good six inches before realizing that the blanket was more like a wide scarf than a blanket. I soldiered on for several more inches hoping it would seem more acceptable as I got more of it knit. It did not. Not wanting to start completely from square one (hindsight being what it is…I wish I would have started over at this point) I decided that I’d finish this ‘panel’ (as I decided to refer to the blanket) and then knit another panel and join them to make a larger blanket. I finish the first panel and decided that I’d make one little color change for the second panel just to mix things up a bit. I also decided to change the order the colors fell in to mix it up some more. (I wish I hadn’t done this.) In my head these changes were cute and lovely. In reality it makes the blanket a little too busy for my exact taste. It’s not hideous, but just not what I had pictured in my head when I started out knitting this. When all the knitting was done and all the millions of ends were woven in I had to figure out how best to join them. I thought I’d try do a crocheted join like I did on all those slippers I knit at Christmas time. I didn’t like how that looked. It might have been better if I’d managed to crochet a bit looser. I took that apart and just did a kind of rustic sewing job. I mostly like how it looks and it does seem to tie the two pieces together well. It seems like I always end up with some kind of snafu with my projects. I’m not sure if it is just me or if everyone else just doesn’t talk about the adventures their knitting takes them on. Since a big part of why I write this blog is to remind myself of how different projects went and to LEARN from my mistakes I am just being honest about what a mess I mange to make of even the simplest projects. Hopefully Baby Girl will get use out of this blanket, even if  it didn’t fulfill all of Auntie’s knitting dreams.

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Speaking of knitting dreams…the dress I knit Baby Girl might be my favorite thing I have ever knit! Really! The pattern is amazing and SO well written. The knitting was exciting and challenging, yet manageable. (Don’t worry there were still plenty of hurdles to be faced.) I love how the finished product turned out! I knit the Lizzy Dress by Taiga Hilliard Designs. I used a ball of fingering weight Stroll by Knit Picks in the Blue Violet color way. (I actually emailed my sister a picture of about 6 balls of yarn I was considering and told her to pick. She narrowed it down to two.) Since I mentioned above I try to be honest while writing this and confess all my knitting messes I’m trying to think of what went wrong with this. The only two things I’m coming up with are really minor and not really messes. When I finished the bodice of the dress and looked at the neck hole I couldn’t image that I had knit this at all in gauge. It looked entirely too small to fit around even a newborn’s neck. When the dress was blocked and I saw my niece in person I can see that I was wrong. The sizing is just fine – hooray! As this is a lace pattern there were many rows I had to count back and figure out where I went wrong when I ended the row with too many or too few stitches left. I don’t see this as big mess either…I think that is just how knitting lace goes. It can be so easy to lose track of yarn overs and whatnot. If you are in the market for a baby dress knitting pattern I would HIGHLY recommend this one! I am kind of considering knitting the whole thing for Baby Girl again in a bigger size and a different color. Really! I finished this dress within a few hours of Baby Girl’s birth! I actually thought I’d have at least a couple more days to finish up. It was great timing though. I finished knitting, washed, blocked and went to bed. I heard early the next morning that she’d arrived and went to the store to buy buttons before going to the hospital to meet her! (How’s that for timing!)

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I also knit her a little headband to go with this dress. I crocheted the flower, but I bought the cute stretchy headband at JoAnn’s. I attached the flower and the accent button and called it good. (I also did this in the morning before I went to meet her .)

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In the midst of finishing up baby gifts in the last month or so I did start one new thing. We were going to WI for a birthday party that my sister would be at and I didn’t want to bring either of the gifts above that she didn’t yet know about. I cast on a shawl….possibly for myself. I am famous for two things when it comes to shawls. 1.) Not ever finishing them. (I have at least 3 shawls at home I can think of that are in various states of completion.) 2.) Finishing a shawl that I thought was for myself only to give it away to someone else.  I do hope to finish this one and I hope that it really is for me this time. It is the Dinner in the Eiffel Tower Shawl by Jessie Dodington. It was designed to look like different elements of the Eiffel Tower’s structure. It is really pretty. It has been challenging knitting for me. I am enjoying it and hope that my finished project does the pattern justice.

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This is the best picture I have so far. I need to get it on a larger circular needle so I can stretch it out. Sorry!

I have SO many more things I want to knit Baby Girl. I am happy I hit all my big deadlines before she arrived. But, I plan to keep casting on things for  her 🙂 (Here is a sneak peek at one.) It will be finished shortly and I will share details when it is.

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Here are a couple photos of my new niece in a few of the hats I made her. Isn’t she she cutest?

 

 

 

New Dress & Nostepinne

I am starting to feel the crunch of a looming deadline. Baby Girl will arrive in roughly 6 weeks and I feel like I still have so much I want to knit for her. This is a self-imposed deadline of course. I can obviously keep knitting for her once she arrives, I just have an idea of what I want done and folded neatly into a gift bag for the hospital visit. I still have one hat I wanted to knit and one more pair of booties too. I am still working on the large mystery item which is close to fully knit but it going to require a lot of finishing work. I also cast on something new for Baby Girl on Friday evening. (I will resist mentioning all the other cute little patterns I want to make for her…there are oodles of them.)

Back to my newly cast on item. I LOVE when I cast on a project and it feels like magic! I always love knitting, but I’m talking about a project that goes smoothly and feels fun and exciting to knit and as the item takes shape you can just tell that it is going to live up to expectations. I was going to try to keep this item a secret too, but I think I already revealed too much about it while talking to my sister on the phone. It is a dress. I will not show a picture beyond this boring one below. I will also not share the pattern name, yet. I am knitting the 0-3 month size. It is knit in fingering weight yarn. I really like how it is turning out. Despite checking my gauge and moving up a needle size I keep looking at the neck hole and wondering if it should really be that tiny. It has been awhile since I’ve had a newborn of my own, but wow, tiny! There are button holes knit into the garment but I am already planning on adding a button loop so that if the neck is too tiny the garment can still be functional.

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I have to give a shout out to Knit Picks. I know I was kind of harsh after their systems got hacked and MANY of us had our credit card info stolen, but this makes up for it. I really have resisted shopping with them since the hacking ordeal, but I may have to revise my position and just use the PayPal feature they have now instead. About 4 years ago for our anniversary my husband bought me a swift and ball winder from Knit Picks. They have since gotten a lot of use. Recently one of the wooden screws that holds up the spinning part of the swift broke and in turn the swift was no longer functional. I called Knit Picks to see if I could just get a new wood screw to try fix the problem. They shipped one out immediately, for free. I tried it and the swift still wasn’t working. Possibly the problem was with the part the screw, screwed into. I called them back to see if they had any ideas of what I could try. They sent me a brand new one, for free, after four years of use on the original one! The one I got in the mail is their newer version! It is so nice. I am totally impressed with how well they are standing by their products. They just as easily could have told me “tough luck, lady.” Way to go Knit Picks, you have earned back my business!

My ball winder from Knit Picks has also stopped working properly. It would be tempting to call and see if I can score a new ball winder too, but unlike the swift I know that the reason it is not working is my own fault. It worked fine until I bought a skein of Yowza! from Miss Babs. This is 400-some yards of worsted-weight yarn. That makes one GIANT ball of yarn! At one point of its winding some of the yarn slipped off and got sucked into the gears that turn the winder. I have taken the thing apart and removed the yarn and tried to put it back together right, but it has not been the same since. A new ball winder doesn’t cost that much money, but I have still been reluctant to buy one. My broken one is still kind of limping along. I decided to buy a nostepinne. Basically a nostepinne is a wooden dowel that you can use to hand wind a center pull ball of yarn on. I ordered from a company that I found on Etsy (if you want to know who, let me know and I will go check.) I watched a few YouTube videos when it arrived and hoped for the best. It took much longer to wind a ball of yarn this way than I expected. Mine also didn’t turn out as the shape I usually get from my ball winder. I may have wound it too tightly as I had trouble getting it off the nostepinne at the end. It was kind of a fun experiment for me though. I will keep practicing! A few of the podcasts that I listen to have talked about nostepinnes. I guess there is a theory that using a ball winder stretches the yarn out and using a nostepinne instead would not. I feel like I did more damage to my yarn using the nostepinne than the ball winder, but that is probably just due to my inexperience.

It is snowing in MN again today. The weather has been so very depressing this winter. My kids have 38 days left of the school year, not counting today. I am just hoping it does not still feel like winter when their summer vacation starts.