Tuesday, September 11, 2018

So Much Change

It's been over 4 months since my last post and so much has changed.  My daughter J came to live with me in May.  I changed jobs.  I decided to try acrylic painting (with no success) and have committed to writing a novel this year during Nanowrimo. 

The painting and writing come courtesy of a reading with a psychic I had over the summer.  I've tried writing novels before.  I even bought the MasterClass by James Patterson, which I haven't finished watching.  I tried Nanowrimo 2 of the last 3 years, I think.  Or at least 1 year when I bought a chromebook thinking that was the answer to my problems.  I hated the damn thing and gave it to my dad.  Another year I made a notebook to plan out my novel and that was as far as I made it - setting up my idea notebook. 

The year I had the chromebook I think I made it about a week, maybe about 30% thru the required word count before I gave up.  This year is gonna be different.  First of all, I'm gonna write it longhand on paper.  What paper is still up in the air.  I dream of writing it on 30-hole A4 paper, but I'm having a hard time justifying the expense.  I picked up some heavy weight paper spirals and some wireless notebooks from Walmart.  I'm using them as a journal and for some prewriting to see how I like them.  I've toyed with buying a Leuchtturm or Clairefontaine or Rhodia notebook to use.  A4, A5, standard letter... I can't decide. I started my snowflake notes in a cheap $0.50 wide-ruled composition book, also from Walmart.  I'm writing in that with a classic orange fine-point Bic 4-in-1 pen I found at Walmart for like $3, after I was tempted to spend the $8-9 they were going for on Amazon.  They remind me of my roommate from college who always used them.  I'm not sure if I'm going to write with ballpoint, gel, felt tip or fountain pen or maybe even my blackwing pencils when the actual writing time comes. 

I've been looking at articles and pictures of people who write novels longhand and decided to embrace my inconsistent handwriting.  Compared to some of the chicken scratch I've seen from famous authors, I have nothing to be embarrassed about.  The main reason I want to write it out on paper is that there is something cathartic about having a pen in my hand and leaving a mark on paper.  I feel like I'm purging thoughts that are overflowing when I do that, in a way that typing just doesn't duplicate.  Yes, I will have to type the manuscript again, but that's when my editing will happen.  When I can clean up the mistakes or add details that I hadn't gotten down the first time around.  But just getting the story out of my head and onto paper is going to be my first draft.

As I mentioned, I'm doing some prewriting work using the snowflake method.  It's weird how thinking out the story and trying to broaden the story step by step has taken the story in a direction I hadn't even considered before.  My next step is to do the character workup.  I will enjoy that part, kind of interviewing my characters in my head.  I might even use the backlog of magazines I have piled up from the past year to get some ideas. Or maybe not, as the thought of that is making me anxious.  I just know that I need to really prepare for the event this year.  The last time I participated, I ran out of steam trying to just make it up as I went along.  This year I am going to try to work with a detailed outline so that I know where my story is going from the beginning.  The next story might be a longer work where I can daydream thru the writing and come up with something, but a 30 day crash novel needs some structured thinking in order for it to make sense at the end. 

So that's what I've been working on lately.  I've also been knitting and working and throwing by back out while moving a feather-light Yogibo bean bag chair.  That's talent right there.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Toronto Haul / Internet Binge

Last weekend my boyfriend & I trekked up to Toronto, Canada.  I dragged him to 2 different yarn shops while we were there (Romni & Yarnsomniacs).  It happened to be Local Yarn Store Day, so I got a deal on Saturday at  Romni Wool Co.  Romni is a huge, 2 floor store that sells just about everything that has ever been produced.  I purchased a sweater quantity of Malabrigo Rios in Purple Mystery to make a Worsted Boxy. I also got a yarn that is put up in a hank of narrow knitted fabric like a sock blank called Magic Kettle.  I got 2 different clearance cotton blend yarns, one is a chain construction (Rowan Softknit Cotton) and the other is a tape or ribbon (Schachenmayr Batiko Sun), to make the KISS scarf from CozyUp Designs. Then I got 2 different super bright sock yarns, 
Lana Grossa Meilenweit Neon & Lang Yarns Super Soxx Cashmere Color 4 ply.  And some sparkly purple patterned sock yarn that I think was on clearance called Rico Design Superba Las Vegas Superwash 4 f├Ądig.  The haul was expensive, but I was thrilled to get the Malabrigo in a sweater quantity, since my LYS only has a hank or two of each color left.  And I really wanted to use the yarn that Joji designed it for.  

On Sunday morning we went to Porch Swing Yarnsomniacs, where I tried to stay focused and I picked up 3 sets of Zing dpns and a new measuring tape.  I wanted to cast on the cotton K.I.S.S. scarf for the ride home.  I really wish I would have picked up more at that store, since it was small and I know the purchase probably would have meant more to them than some of the other places I buy yarn.  But my boyfriend was there, and it was hard to justify another large purchase.

Of course, a few days later, I was watching Joji Locatelli's youtube video and she recommended a yarn I haven't used before, Madelinetosh Work Sock.  So I checked out the website and next thing I know, I'm purchasing 5 skeins of the yarn online.  The next day I decide to splurge on Signature needles.  I got 10" size 10's to use to make scarves and a set of size 1 dpns to make socks.  I've heard great things about these needles, and I hope they live up to their reputation or I will be pissed at the amount of money I spent on them.  But if they are as good as I expect them to be, I will consider it an investment in my craft. 

And then I was watching CozyUpWithTheStitchinSisters and begged to be a test knitter for a pattern they are working on for a 1 skein sock weight shawl.  I have the ball of cashmere blend that I bought at Romni that is begging to be a shawl because it's a non-repeating rainbow stripe yarn, and I don't want to have mismatched socks.  I was bouncing up & down in my seat when I got the response that I could be a tester later that evening while we were out to dinner.  I don't know what size needle I will need for that project, so I checked my needle inventory and noticed I was missing a few sizes yet of Chiao Goo Red Lace needles.  Just in case those were the sizes I needed, I hopped onto Amazon and ordered those. 

My credit cards and my family aren't thrilled with me, but I'm still feeling ok yet.  I've got plenty of yarn to keep me going without buying more for quite a while now.  Yarn diet time.  I'm gonna set the goal of no new yarn until September - when the next yarn festival in my area will happen.  I've also purchased bulk stitch markers on ebay & amazon, and generic cotton/linen drawstring bags to use for projects.  Unless these Signature needles prove to be magic, I'm done with acquisitions for quite a while.  I have cotton to make dishcloths, sock yarns to make shawls or socks, acrylics to make blankets or monsters, and worsted blend yarns to make tanks or short sleeve tops. 

Since I've been spending so much time knitting, I'm spending all my time sitting.  Not good for my body.  So yesterday I made another middle of the night splurge purchase - a Spin bike.  I already own a treadmill I've used twice since we moved it to our house almost 2 years ago.  It's out in the sun room and there are no lights out there, so when I would usually try to use it at night, I don't have a light to turn on and don't really want people watching me work out.  The bike will hopefully go in the family room where I can use my ipad to watch SpinTV or perhaps download the Peloton app.  I couldn't afford a Peloton bike like a couple friends have gotten, but the app is only $12.99/month, whereas the bike requires a $39.95/month subscription to the service for some reason.  The bike I bought only cost $410 with shipping and comes with a year to SpinTV, compared to a $1995 bike that requires at least a 12 month subscription to the service.  I'm gonna wait for the bike to get here before I buy a new seat cushion or a whole new seat.  The one time I took a spin class, I killed my fanny.  But I like the idea of spinning and I know that it burns more calories than anything else I like to do.  And I can do it while watching TV or Youtube in my PJs and without taking a shower beforehand.  The gym I belong to is really low budget, but even I have to take a shower and put on real clothes before I go there. 

One of the reasons I wanted to have the gym equip at home was that I got a new job I will be starting in a couple weeks.  It's going to be good money but sucky hours.  I'm gonna be looking to exercise in the middle of the night when I get home, or first thing when I wake up in the morning, before I get showered and dressed for work in the afternoon.  My weight loss journey is not going to become a failure story, I am determined to get back to my goal weight, which is about 25 pounds less than I weigh now.  I'm going to start buying real food and eating at home more, and cutting out all the regular soda I've gotten accustomed to drinking at work.  My new job will have no physical exercise so I need to be more careful about my diet and get exercise outside of work. 

Back to knitting - I finished the body of my Easy One tonight and that was so exciting.  Just 2 sleeves and the neck to do.  I'm not sure if I'll be getting it done in time to wear before next fall.  It's a light-weight sweater in a pale green, so I might be able to wear it for a while yet at night if I go out.  The worsted Boxy is on it's 3rd skein of Rios.  The usual suggestion to alternate skeins is one I probably should have taken, but I've never done it before and decided not to do it this time either.  That means the bottom few inches are a totally different shade of purple than the next 2 sections that are more of a royal purple instead of a goth-y deep purple.  When I bought the yarn I thought it was much deeper than it's knitting up.  I'll probably keep working on that until Jamie gets back to me with the pattern for the test knit, which will be my only project while I'm working on it because they want it to be done in a week.  I think I should be fine knitting a 100g ball of fingering yarn in a week.  Especially with a lacy pattern.  Then there is my cashmere blend sweater project, All The Love, also by Joji ... I'm on the upper front of that, where I need to read each row from the pattern, so that is sidelined for now - mindless knitting is where I'm at this week. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Podcasters are Enablers!

Ok, my favorite thing about knitting and knitters being online these days is the way they share what they're doing.  What they're knitting or crocheting, trinkets they buy, etc.  But in the past couple weeks I've been enabled too much by the podcasters I follow.  I've acquired 2 wax melt warmers to replace the 1 I have had for years.  I got a ton of different wax melts to try out.  I bought yarn from ICE Yarns in Turkey for a few summer projects and a fancier sweater for me.  I ordered a book from B&N that was recommended on a crochet podcast.  And I got some sparkly cotton yarn on a sweet deal from Premier Yarns.  So, let's just say I have too much yarn and not enough time, but at least I have some fresh scents to work around and a book of patterns to inspire me if I get bored.  Oh, I almost forgot the new high capacity ball winder I got so that my yarn cakes aren't wonky when I go over 4 ounces of acrylic.

Last week I cast on my Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Matcha for The East One by Joji Locatelli.  The other main project is the Sockhead Hat with the Graffiti Blast yarn.  My crochet project is the Peaceful Easy blanket. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

There's Not Enough Time!

There's not enough time!  It's something I say to my boyfriend at least a few times a day.  Before it was that there wasn't enough time to sleep or be cozy.  Since I've gotten back to my yarny crafts, it's been about not having enough time to knit or crochet. 

Right now I'm working on the heel on the Bumblebee sock.  I decided to use black yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners called Licorice I think.  The ballband only has numbers on it.  It's their Signature 4-ply.  I decided to just bite the bullet and do the heel before I finish the foot of the sock on the 9" circular.  I want to make sure the heel is actually 2", which is what I estimate it to be.  I'm not sure if I will ever do afterthought heels again.  They seem to be a pain in the ass.  I enjoy being able to just knit an easy sock tube, but doing the heels seems like an unnecessary burden.  Maybe it's just because I've never knit socks for Dan before and I'm not 100% sure they will fit.  Maybe a second pair, where I'm more confident that I'm knitting the right size, will be easier. 

My other major project this week has been the crocheted afghan, Peaceful Easy Blanket.  I decided to just do random stripes with the yarn as I get sick of looking at the same color.  I found the pink Ombre yarn at Joann's the other day, so right now that's the color I'm working on.  The blanket is going to be plenty long enough but I'm not sure it's going to be wide enough, so I might need to add some thick border crochet to make it a foot or so wider.  I have Caron One Pound in white that I can use for that.

Speaking of buying yarn, I got an unexpected chunk of change this week, so on my day off from work I went to a different Walmart and bought all the Bernat Pop! and Mandala yarns that I didn't already have.  So I have one cake of each color I could find.  I also got a pack of Boye Ergonomic crochet hooks so that I know I now have every size in an ergo handle.  The pack was under $25 for all 12 sizes, when I have paid $6.99-$8.99 for each one that I got in the past.  I also went to Joann's and got that skein of Ombre and 4 pounds of Caron yarn - 2 in a bright turquoise and 2 in white.  I also got 3 project bags with knit & crochet sayings on them.  Those were on clearance.  There were good coupons so that didn't put in as much of a dent in my wallet as usual.  I think the pounds of yarn came in under $5.50 each.  I walked out of Michaels without buying anything, since I'd been there a few days ago and got a few cupcakes and a yarn container, nothing else was jumping out at me. 

Now, in case you were concerned about all the acrylic cheap yarn I'm buying, don't fret.  I haven't given up on the wool yarns in my stash.  I'm just afraid to wash them, so it's not really my go-to.  I got rubber tiles to block on, and a couple pack of Dritz T-pins. I've been stalling on blocking the Scania shawl I made for J.  So yesterday I filled a bucket with water and soaked the shawl.  I immediately remembered that god-awful wet wool smell that I haven't smelled since I stopped felting about 13 years ago.  I set out the flooring tiles and pinned out the shawl and set a fan on the floor to increase airflow.  Then waited.  And waited.  And waited.  By the time I woke up this morning, I checked and it was nearly dry.  I think I'll wait until I get home from work tonight to unpin it. 

I finished knitting the final body part of J's monster momma.  I stitched up the pockets, now I just need to stuff & sew on the arms & legs and send it off with the shawl for J, and the socks for C. 

My 15 year old daughter has decided to knit, so we Skyped the other night while we tried to get her cast on for a scarf out of Mandala yarn.  We spent an hour, she didn't get the 40 stitches cast on.  Hopefully once we're cast on, the knitting can start and some muscle memory can start taking over.  I'm knitting a scarf out of the same yarn/colorway and needle size along with her.  It's Mandala Gnome yarn - a bright rainbow.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Moving Forward

So, today I accomplished next to nothing, but I did spend a lot of interrupted periods working on a new afghan that I'm crocheting.  The pattern is based on The Peaceful Easy Blanket by Susan E. Kennedy.  I'm starting with Red Heart Supersaver Ombre Sea Coral.  I started with the foundation chain that the pattern calls for.  But after 15 rows, I got sick of working with the same color.  I changed to the colorway Scuba.  I will do 2 repeats of each of the 5 color stripes. 

I washed my swatch for The Easy One that I knit yesterday with the US4 needles.  But my boyfriend took it out of the washer and set it on top of the dryer instead of running it with the reset of the laundry or smoothing it out as it would be for blocking, so I had to toss it back into the laundry with another load tonight.  I also made a swatch of the same yarn with US3 needles to see which I want to use for the project.  It's crazy how soft the fabric gets when it's washed.  It also gets fuzzy, which I'm not overly thrilled about.  But by tomorrow I should know which needles I need to use for my Easy One project. 

My daughter got to go to Walmart today to pick up a learn to knit kit and yarn to start knitting.  She received the monster knitting books I ordered her from Amazon.  The store she went to today didn't have size 5 dpns, and I know the circular needles are terrible there, so I was back on Amazon to order her a small circular and a set of dpns for when she's ready to try knitting monsters.  She really liked the Mandala yarn better than the Bernat POP! I suggested, so we compromised and she got the Mandala to knit a scarf, and the POP! for her monsters. 

As far as her momma monster that I'm knitting, I got both arms done and one leg I finished ... I just have 1 leg to go, then stitching the face on, stitching up the pockets, stuffing and assembling.  Then I get to do it all again, twice, for the baby monsters. Sigh. 

The Bumblebee socks are on hold because, like a moron, I took out the waste yarn and put the stitches for the heel on a small circ but haven't wound off heel yarn from the ball yet.  The Hermione sock is still ready to go thru the gusset decreases, which I don't feel like concentrating on them right now.  The US 2 needle arrived today for the Sockhead hats I want to make from the hand-dyed yarn I got from Etsy.  That is a nice easy project to take with me - a majority of the knitting is mindless.  And fast, because the needles are so small, it goes quickly with minimal motion.  But I'm trying to stick to the monster project and the crochet afghan for now.  Better to stick to 2 projects and get something accomplished. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Whenever I say I'm not going to buy more yarn, I inevitably fail at that lofty goal.  Last night I realized I was about 40 yards short of what I needed for my Easy One sweater in fingering weight.  And I know I'm gonna want it a little longer than the pattern calls for.  So I had to hop online to order more Stroll Tonal in Matcha for that sweater.  And of course I didn't want to pay for shipping, so I shopped around and added 2 project bags and 3 other skeins of Stroll to my cart before I checked out.  I went with a handpaint called Big Top, and tonals called High Tea and Mocha.  I swatched the Matcha on my ChiaoGoo US 4's but haven't laundered it yet.  My US 2 & 3 ChiaoGoo's should arrive tomorrow, so I'll be able to swatch the Matcha on the US 3's and cast on one of the Sockhead Hat's for my kids on the US 2. 

But that order wasn't enough to keep me from stopping back at Walmart tonight to check out the selection of Bernat POP! and Lion Brand Mandala.  Unfortunately, the POP! was the more expensive yarn, but I love how it was working up on Jo's monster, so I picked up ... eek... 5 more cakes.  The Mandala is a finer yarn, not what I was looking for to make monsters out of, so I only got 1 cake of that.  Then I turned around and saw the Red Heart Ombres and couldn't help myself from adding one of each color to my basket.  I was disappointed that they were out of pink or yellows, but I got peach, blue, turquoise, green, and purple. 

Now I can't decide which yarn to use for my Attic24 Granny Stripe blanket.  I was going to use the POP! but I sort of want to keep that for making the monsters until I finish that project.  The Mandala I only have 3 cakes of, and they aren't complimentary colors, so that's out.  That leaves the Ombres.  I have 5 skeins total, and I'm not sure how much yarn an afghan like that will take.  I want it to be maybe a twin sized afghan, enough to cover up with to sleep, not just a throw or lapghan.  But before I start that project, I wanted to work on Jo's monster.  I finished the first leg of the mom and started the first arm.  I'm not a fan of knitting a small number of stitches in the round for 30 rounds, that's for sure.  Tomorrow I'm going to have to go get stuffing.  I was planning to send the pieces to her and have her get stuffing to do it herself, but I am afraid it won't get done, and all the parts needed to be stuffed before they can be sewn on, which means a lot more than just stuffing the body and whip stitching it closed. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Podcast Episode 2 - March 16, 2018

Episode 2

FO - Sockhead Hat for Me!

YAY!  I finished this fine gauge hat in about 72 hours.  I just couldn't put it down because I wanted to wear it so bad.  I cast on with ChiaoGoo 16-inch size US 2.5 needles, and boy did that give me a pretty loose gauge.  I'm too tired to measure right now, but I'm not sure if I just knit it too loose, used too large of a needle, or this yarn is just thinner than I was expecting.  I'm now wondering if I need to rethink my plans for knitting the Easy One on the recommended size 4 needles with fingering yarn, because I certainly don't want a sweater to be see-through like this hat is under lights.  My yarn for the Easy One should be here tomorrow from Knitpicks.  I bought the cheapest Stroll Tonal they had, which was part of the green sale, Matcha.  My ChiaoGoo 32- and 16-inch circs came in the mail this week too.  So I was ready to get to work on that next week, but now I might need to invest serious time into swatching and laundering tests before I actually get going.  I don't need another sweater I can't wear. 

Before I get to the Easy One, I'm going to finish Jo's monsters.  At least the first monster's limbs.  I've never gotten that far before, so it will be a milestone if it actually has arms & legs.  I have the first pocket knit on but not sewn down on the sides yet.  I haven't decided if I'm going to stuff them or send them unstuffed and let her assemble.  I ordered her copies of Rebecca Danger's books, The Big Book of Knitted Monsters and 50 Yards of Fun.  Jo needs to learn to knit before she tries to make the monsters, but she's not really grasping that concept just now.  It's hard for me to try to teach her when she doesn't have access to the internet to watch how-to videos and can only skype with me when her father can set it up for her. 

I spent today knitting and listening to podcasts about knitting.  In addition to The Grocery Girls, The Yarn Hoarder Podcast, Cozy Up with the Stitchin Sisters, Joji and Ladywing Designs, I've begun watching The Sockmatician and Smells Like Yarn.  Ross from Smells Like Yarn actually did a live knit night video tonight that was kinda fun.  I'd seen the Grocery Girls try to do a live podcast one day and had a lot of trouble with it, but couldn't see the comments while watching from my phone, so when Ross went live, I pulled out my laptop so I could see everything. 

One thing that sorta irritated me was when the dishcloths got into the conversation and he had a touch of attitude about Amber (The Yarn Hoarder) making dish cloths.  No, dish cloths are not new.  That isn't the point of Amber talking about them.  She's just doing a personal challenge that her viewers wanted to participate in and they joined in and are knitting dish cloths along with her.  And I think it's cool whenever people are encouraging each other to knit/crochet more, use their stashes, make gifts for their family/friends, etc.  Keep it positive.  A lot of people are going to end the year with 52 dishcloths and a sense of accomplishment and maybe a smaller stash.  Unless they're like me, using it as an excuse to grow the stash.

The Craftsy folks put out their new KAL for Off Our Needles and it's a cotton t-shirt.  Yuck.  After the shawl pattern nightmare, I would have expected them to come up with something a little more universally appealing.  But when you have your KAL hosts both saying they had to hack the pattern to make it to their liking, I'm feeling justified in skipping it altogether.  Plus, the coupon for 50% off still leaves it at $42 with tax & shipping for an XL size.  So, yeah, I'm glad I found Ravelry and when I want to do another knitalong I will probably go with one from the groups I join instead of the commercial ones I started out with.  Craftsy has been downhill after Zadie, which I really enjoyed. 

I'm thinking I might do another podcast tomorrow, or later today actually, since it's 2am already.  I want to show off my finished hat.  Or I might just take some pictures of it in daylight to post and then take a nap.  I have to work 6am-2pm and deal with the truck delivery.  That means I get to scan the boxes and totes as they come off the truck and go into our stock room.  I loved doing it the first time because I'm kinda a natural at it and that impressed the guys I work with and the delivery driver who is a little crazy.  Saturday I have to work 9-5, and then I'm off again on Sunday, so knitting & Nascar are on the agenda.  I think Dan is going to have to get a TV antenna for the living room so that I can watch the races down there and he can watch the tv in the bedroom, because he hates motor sports.  His college roommate liked to make sound effects while watching the races, and he's still traumatized 20 years later. 

Please leave comments if you've found me, and let me know what you're thinking.  I'm starving for feedback.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Knit Monsters

My older daughter has been asking me for knit monsters for about 2 years.  It's the 3 monster set from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters - Leila, Lydia & Lucas.  I've knit them a couple times, or parts of them, anyway.  I never seem to finish them.  This time I've decided I will start & finish the set.  So far, the body of the mommy monster is knit, with 1 of the 2 pockets knit up.  Tomorrow I will knit the other pocket and the arms or legs.  My thumb is sore from working the worsted weight on short-tip size 5 circular interchangeable needles from Knitpicks.  I still need to knit 2 baby monsters, and all the limbs for the 3 monsters.  This is my worsted gauge project for the foreseeable future.

The Chiaogoo 16-inch size 2.5 and 4 needles arrived today.  I left work for lunch so I could open them and cast on the Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure.  I'm using my Beyond the Clouds yarn from SheepyFibres, Etc on Etsy.  This hat will be mine... I can't get over the amazing yarn - Grey with a variegated rainbow every so often.  This will probably take up my sock-gauge knitting time for the next week or so until it's done.