May 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
Winter is gone and spring seems fleeting with intense heat already baring down upon us. Our once lush lawn now resembles the not so distant golden foothills that California is famous for. Knitting season, if there even really is one in this golden state of sunshine, is officially over and yet I feel that I have never had my hands so full with knitting projects. Last week while knitting furiously to finish a swatch which I was working on in cotton, my yarn began sticking to my fingers and by the end of the swatch it was completely misshapen, a display of every tension imaginable, ironically causing more tension for me. I am finding that with this hot weather I am feeling incredibly inspired and desire to do so much than I have time for or am capable of, and yet I feel that I am completely unwilling to compromise in my standards when working on something. If only I could let some things be “not so good” I would have time for so much more, but that is just not how I tick. So now the ideas and projects are stacking up, literally and figuratively. Our poor living room is a disaster and I can hardly sleep at night because I am so full of ideas that I just don’t know where to begin and what to weed out.
I spent the majority of last week working on gauge swatches for new designs and ideas. What I thought would be only a few soon multiplied and I couldn’t even escape my creativity in the shower. At the same time, with a bustling garden and an amazing new kitchen I so desire to be cooking up a storm, trying new recipes and my desire to write has also increased dramatically. And none of this is even my “full-time” job. The Little Buckaroo, now 10 1/2 months old, started walking over a month ago, and we are just as busy as ever with play-dates baby gym, baby swimming, and backyard playtime. So where and how do I coax my energy; dedicate my very little spare time?
And then I heard this song. So, I hate to admit it (no, really, I do), I watch SMASH. Oh, the show is terrible. Just recently, in talking to my sister about it, I told her that I thought it was supposed to be satirical, as there is no way with acting, story, and dialog that bad they could really be taking themselves seriously. I assumed that because the show is about the development of a Broadway musical, that the content within the show was intended to closely reflect a real Broadway musical, in which, in my opinion, the acting, dialog and story lines are different from a television or movie drama. She informed me that I was quite wrong, and they do take themselves quite seriously. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it.
On this last week’s (terrible) show—oh the bad, and overacting, the super spelled-out, cliché, predictable storyline—one of the characters serenaded the other with a song by Billy Joel, Vienna. This song really resonated with me looking at it in a very literal way, one section in particular:
You got your passion, you got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true (Oooh)
When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?
“Dream on” yup, I’m good at that part. It’s just that I like to imagine them all to come true, too. Yet, I know they won’t. Maybe this is why I am not willing to compromise my standards when I am working on something. If I know that I am not going to complete every single last thing that I want to do, then the things that I do do, I want to try to do as well as I can. And while I ping-pong in between my ideas, projects, cooking, gardening and parenting I feel that I am can be proud of the things that I am accomplishing, even if it is only a fraction of what I wish I had time to do. Dream on!
April 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
Another Fashion Friday post missed, but last week was a real doozie, and the week ended with a very special (surprise) dinner.
My husband always tries to downplay his birthday, with singing cake and gifts not in his preferences for the occasion. He desires for nothing more than to pass the day as just another. However, with this year’s passing his number of years ticking to one ending with a “0″ meant I couldn’t feign indifference and planned a surprise dinner party for last Friday evening with just a few folks that Ramon considers family. The theme for our festive event was “A Dinner Party at the Swiss Chalet” and I served all of the makings from a weeks worth of labor for Raclette followed by a desert of chocolate fondue with fruits. Raclette is a traditional Swiss cheese. Dating back hundreds of years to when shepherds tended their herds in the mountains of Switzerland. With limited supplies meals consisted of cheese which was melted by the fire and drizzled over potatoes and pickles. Today raclette can easily be served in the home with raclette grills which can fairly easily be found. Each individual in the dinner party uses their very own grilling tray. It is a little like “advanced” fondue.
I’ve only had raclette once before and it was made from delicious leftovers prepared by the best amateur chefs I know over a weeks time at a cabin up in Tahoe. I used the week leading up to the party, and Ramon’s birthday as an excuse to make tons of food so that once Friday arrived I would have very little to cook. I started planning weeks in advance, and with the Little Buckaroo in tow, I was fully prepared for my week-long culinary adventure, complete with budges and back-up plans just in case crabby pants wasn’t having any of it. I also knew that we would have a vegetarian at the party so I knew that all of my sauces or post-meat-grilling-pared-veggies would need to be handled in a way as to not be “contaminated” by non-vegetarian-friendly tools and ingredients. So, no well-seasoned-with-bacon-fat cast iron skillets, or reducing a sauce with reserved liquid from a cooking pan. Thank goodness I planned ahead and thought about this before beginning a single dish, or I would have had lots and lots of work on Friday to make a whole new set of dishes for our vegetarian guest. All I did all week was cook, and try to hide the evidence. On Friday Ramon had quite a wonderful surprise and we all had an amazing feast.
While the fruits of my labors were expected to result in many dishes for both herbivores and omnivores (and, if I am being honest, at least one carnivore) I didn’t expect to have so many left-overs from my left-overs but found myself happily cooking omelets on Saturday that took mere minutes from start to finish with mustard-seed crusted prime-rib, grilled green onions, seared bell sweet peppers, topped off with a creamy horseradish sauce. Delightful decadence that could never have come about just from getting raw ingredients out of the cabinet that morning. This started off what I am fondly calling: The Best Saturday of the Year (so far).
Later in the day I was able to sit-down and finish my Joan Tank, from the pattern Essential Tank by Wendy Bernhard published in Custom Knits, which I had also been plodding away on while plotting my work carefully. I started out with one huge skein of somewhere around 800 yards of yarn. Not a knot, or an end in the middle other than just the two to start and finish the skein. Feeling lucky that my ball winder was specifically made to handle “Jumbo” yarn masses I happily knit round and round up until the arm-hole. Now this yarn is slippery, mercerized cotton. Anyone who has ever knit cotton knows how difficult it can be not only to weave in the ends, but to do so in a way which makes them invisible on the right side of the garment.
Listed in bullets for other knitters who want clarity on my modifications, they were:
- So, my first modification to the pattern, even before I landed on the lace panel going up the middle, was to add a purl 1 through the back loop to create a faux side seam, giving me a place to hide the first end from the cast-on.
- Then I decided on the 36 stitch lace panel, finding the center 36 stitches and marking them out with stitch markers. I worked my side decreases and increases every 12 rows as it matched up with the transitions of my lace patterns and the length / number of rows and inches I wanted the piece to measure. I started the decreases for the waste after 36 rows. Immediately after finishing the 12th row of the 3rd decrease I began the increases.
- Working my way through the body I started to think about how to handle the armholes, and the neckline. I knew that I’d need an edging of some sort, and the pattern lists out very basic instructions, but they involved breaking the yarn and starting in again, creating two new, and I felt, unnecessary, ends.
- I knit 24 rows up the front which was one full chart of the lace pattern vertically, and worked the armhole decreases just as described in the pattern. I wanted to shorten the armhole and drop the neck.
- I did have to break the yarn for the top neckline to create the two sides, but I chose not to bind-off the stitches at the shoulder, and just left them on holders, each side of the neck was 26 rows. This created 2 more ends, so now we’re up to 3, total.
- Then I had to start in a across the back—1 more end— and work my way up just at the front for 28 rows, as opposed to 24 for the front. I would still need to break the yarn for the neckline, but had another plan for the shoulder and armhole binding/edging. Upon reaching the shoulder, I took the held stitches from the matching front piece, and with right sides together, working across the wrong side of the work I knit 2 together, and bound-off, leaving the working yarn, unbroken at the armhole side of the tank-top. Then, again without breaking the yarn, I started picking-up and knitting stitches down the armhole, and then back-up the other side, 112 stitches in total. I then worked 4 rows in 2×2 ribbing, and bound off in the stitch pattern
- Before starting work up the second side of the back neck I split the rest of the ball of yarn into two balls, and pulled a loop, and without breaking the yarn, started knitting. I worked all of the way up the last neck piece, and followed just as I had done before to bind-off the stitches together with the front side, and then, again without breaking the yarn picking up and knitting 112 stitches around the armhole in 2×2 ribbing for 4 rows.
- Taking the second attached ball of yarn from the base of the neckline on the back I picked up 140 stitches around the neckline and worked 4 rows in 2×2 rib stitch, then did the bind-off in the same stitch pattern.
In the end I wound up with a total of 8 ends to weave in as opposed to a minimum of 14 if I had broken the yarn before each edging/binding. Then I wove in approximately 10 inches of each end into either the faux seam, or the back-side of the picked up stitches for the armholes and neckline completely hiding the ends from the work. Hooray! Success!! My careful planning worked. Thought I knew that I might have a problem with the abundantly open lace-work on the front side of the tank. I had already decided to lower the neckline of the front, and shorten the armholes on both the front and the back. While I was carefully counting my rows as I started in on the back, I realized that the neck wouldn’t gape with the binding the way I was planning it, so if I lowered it, too, I wouldn’t have problems. The back is 4 rows higher than the front where the neckline begins, but they are still both low and don’t gape.
Nothing ever turns out how you expect that it will with a knitting project. No matter how many gauge swatches, tests, or blocking you do there is always something unexpected. This yarn was supposed to be for a completely different tank-top and it just wasn’t working out. I uncommitted and recommitted to something new, where I anticipated a lot of problems and planned carefully to work around them. I am glad I really thought about it, instead of just following along with the pattern. Serendipity comes in unexpected sizes. Yesterday I made myself a gluten free ham sandwich with brie cheese, ham cubes, dijon sauteed onions and shallots, gently toasted to perfection from unexpected left overs from my raclette and I stood eating it in the kitchen with a glass of home-made lemon-aide while wearing the my Essential Tank with the lace to the back, the unexpected way in which I prefer to wear it.
For those interested in my compelete menu for our surprise raclette dinner (links for those available included, though I do often make changes):
- Ropa Vieja
- Ropa Vieja peppers & tomatoes
- Paprika crusted pork tenderloin
- Paprika mayonnaise
- Braised Short Ribs
- Port Wine Braised Short Ribs Reduction Sauce
- Mustard Seed Crusted Prime Rib Roast
- Dijon Mustard & balsamic sauteed onions and shallots
- Creamy Horseradish Sauce
- Au jus
- Bourbon & Dijon Sauce
- Asparagus Tips
- Bacon Sprouts (Brussels Sprouts cooked in Bacon Fat, and served with Bacon)
- Seared Cauliflower
- Seared Bell Peppers
- Grilled Zucchini
- Sundried Tomatos
- Cubed Ham
- Red wine marinated mushrooms
- Sauteed Green Onions
- Pesto, made fresh from the Basil growing my garden
April 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
Yes, I freely admit that I took the photos for this weeks Fashion Friday over a month ago, but sometimes it is just about getting it done. I took these photos and meant to post them for my Fashion Friday two weeks ago, but that didn’t happen. Then last week it didn’t happen either. I tried, I really, really did, but just had so much going on that it just wasn’t meant to be. We’re starting to get a little more settled into our new home and are still working our butts of to baby-proof the construction areas. We have no boxes left in the house, cluttering up space, but there is still a lot of stuff in the basement and garage that needs to find its proper spot. My “desk” (my computer sitting on top of a bookcase) also still needs to find a “home” and this remains the most daunting of the unpacking tasks that remains. The last few days it has been quite warm out and my happy, flourishing garden has taken notice. Though, anyone in Northern California this past Monday experienced some super crazy winds, and my new dwarf orange tree, waiting for its permanent planting spot just as the cookbooks wait in the garage for a new little bookcase to arrive in our amazing new kitchen, suffered the worst of the damage of all of my fair little plants. The quite large pot was blown over and it lost its second largest limb. Sadly, I collected it after cutting the remaining threads that attached it to the trunk, and Ramon asked, sadly, “There was no way to put a splint on it?” No, no there was not. I stuck in in a mug by the front window hoping that something will happen and for those sweet smelling little leaves to unfurl, but deep down I know that its fate is die. Such in the opposite trend of the season.
Spring is definitely here! I am knitting away as fast as I can, which just isn’t very fast due to lots of work even with long days. I am really enjoying the very few spring knits that I have made, but I am dying for more. My Rokocella tank-top as a new staple. The furled edges of the beautifully draped neckline in this clever top have constantly searching for more of that yarn to make another, but alas the yarn is unobtainium. Though even with my knitting going slowly I am still trying to get some new things made, and even some things fixed. I brought out my sewing machine this morning to fix the dust ruffle on the baby’s crib, and quickly learned that sewing is something he really, REALLY wants to participate in, and then I experienced his first full blown tantrum when I enforced our “no playing with cords” rule. Sad camper. There will be a time and a place but I need to have a better small spot in the house where he can’t pull on cords for the foot and power, and better place to put the machine than on the dinning room table that we’re trying to sell. I have a non-sewing, non-knitting project I’d like to get underway for next week though. Trying to turn my lemons into lemonade here, which, is something I am constantly doing with the lemons from our still-bursting-with-lemons tree in that beautiful new kitchen.
April 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Things have been slow going around here in the creative department. I’ve missed my last to Fashion Friday posts, and I am feeling very overwhelmed about the amount of work on the house that remains to be done. At the very end of the day when I sit down to enjoy a glass of wine, or sleep I just don’t have the energy for, well, anything. In fact, one night in the last week I just watched 45 minutes of TV, and that was it. No knitting, looking at patterns, yarn ball winding, plotting of my next sewing project. Just 45 minutes of mind-melting television. Ugh! What has become of me?
I am exhausted. It’s that simple. Just completely exhausted. Within 3 days over Easter weekend the Little Buckaroo took his first steps, said his first word, got his second tooth, and barfed carrots in the pool at his swimming lesson. He’s only 9 months old, and he is just so busy, and so social that when he is awake—which is pretty much all day—he requires a full time entertainer. I am sure that anyone else in my shoes would be exhausted, too. I am lucky to have a baby that sleeps solid all night long, but when you’re so busy during the day, come 10 pm your energy is depleted too. With the dark cloud of house projects looming overhead, and this feeling of being utterly overwhelmed it is hard to feel the creativity flowing (in between 10:00 pm and 10:15 pm when I fall asleep). In addition to the baby and the house projects there is all of the day to day: dinner to make dinner to make, new hardwood floors to sweep and mop, a sexy black granite counter-top that deserves nothing but the best, laundry, more laundry, crazy cats that also want attention … OH! There is also my first real garden, planted and growing. I seem to be having a pretty serious problem though. The tomato plants I started from seeds are growing beautifully, so are the squash and the water-mellon plants. My new sunflower, carrot, radish and beet seeds are also sprouting. My strawberry plants are already showing signs of life, and my very first home-grown strawberry is almost ripe. I have my blackberry and raspberry bushes planted with trellises. I even have a garden cart that has folding down metal sides and can hold up to 750 lbs, regardless if there is no way to actually pull that much weight. So, what could be the problem? One grosse, slimy word: Snails.
Zucchini, yellow onions, and my huge, blooming sage bush
Snails! Where to they all come from? They’re slow, sticky and I don’t want anything to do with them. Yet, in the time it takes me to go and fetch an instrument of removal they’ve gone 10 feet across my garden, and multiplied. Slow, they’re supposed to be slow. Snails are specifically known for their slowness. They eat your plants and make a huge mess of things and there seems to be no way to get rid of them. I leave out snail bait. I put my plants in undesirable snail areas. I “remove” them when I find them. I feel like I see so many of them that I they are starting to haunt me.
My precious Green Globe artichoke plant, minus all snails for the moment
My current knitting project even has snails on my mind, too. A couple of weeks ago I started the Shell Tank from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan. I slowly creeped through almost the entire back piece of the top and realized that it just wasn’t going well. I must have measured my gauge 87 times, and everything always came out to 23 stitches per inch, instead of the specified 21. So, why the hell was it so big? I looked at the measurements and decided that my real error was in picking this pattern to begin with. I have a nasty habit of starting a project without reading through the entire pattern first. The pattern is written well, that’s not the problem. It is the sizing. The bust measurement on the smallest size is 36 inches, which would mean over 4 inches of ease on me. While I haven;t taken loads of sewing and fashion classes (yet) I still know that 4 inches of ease in the bust for a garment like this one is just too much. Way too much, in fact. The top is knit from the bottom up, and starts out wider, decreasing towards the bust. So, instead of having waist shaping the top has extra ease for style added in. Well, in the picture with the model it doesn’t look like she has 40 inches of fabric around her 24 inch waist does it. I wanted a flattering tank, not a fattening tank. So, after working on it for a week, well the toads were a-croakin and started leaping over to my snail knitting pace and the back piece was completely frogged (ripped-out). My huge yarn-ball awaiting a new spring or summer knitting project.
That morning during a brief Little Buckaroo napping session, before painting some window trim, and after loading the dishwasher I flipped through my freshly liberated knitting books, delighted to see the light of day after spending 3 1/2 months in moving boxes, and came across Wendy Bernard’s Essential Tank from Custom Knits. Wendy lives in Southern California. I met her at Vogue Knitting Live Los Angeles a year and a half ago. She is a delightful woman and writes delightful patterns, many of which are not only not only appropriate for our California climate but also really suit my personal style. Her books was a go-to for this yarn, as I have just over 800 yards and that is all I will ever be able to get. Upon flipping to the page with the Essential Tank pattern I realized that I really, really wanted to make a tank-top as I just had so much fun with my Rokochella and really wanted to continue in the same spirit. No matter how you slice it, I will not run out of yarn (I truly hope I haven’t just jinxed myself), it’s cute, it’s simple, it is super easy to modify and my gauge was dead on. I never even noticed this pattern before. Done in the round, from the bottom up, shown in a sort of cement color it is a beautiful blank canvas that I overlooked. She has so many cute sweaters this one just didn’t have any pop until I had the right yarn for the project.
I cast on and quickly finished the ribbing, stitches were just flying off my needles. Well, I wanted them to be flying, I even pretended they were, but they were just sort of coming and going. I was excited about the project, the potential! Simple two by two ribbing, so, why did it seem a little slow? Once I got past the ribbing I got to the meat of the project, round after round working my way up to the armholes where then the project would be divided and front and back knit separately. I didn’t feel attached to the beautiful but simple ribbing covering the length of the front of the tank. On Ravelry some other Knitters (with a capital K) replaced this vertical style element with pretty cables or little lace patterns. There has been a pattern in Vogue Knitting Stitctionary 5: Lace Knitting that I have loved forever and have been looking for somewhere to implement this 34 stitch wide, by 24 row high (repeated) beauty: #115 Classic Frost Flowers. In the spirit of spring, and having just completed planting all of my plants and seeds in the garden I thought that embracing frost flowers was a natural progression. I counted my stitches and got my new, wider center panel centered and away I went. The chart was very surprisingly easy to memorize, I changed my decreases and increases for the side shaping to correlate perfectly with the flow of the chart so virtually no thinking was required for completing them yet this super simple tank top, taking oh so little yarn is just dragging on and on and on … After a week and a half I finally reached the level where I divide the front and the back at the armholes.
About 6 weeks ago which was about the time that I bought this yarn at Stitches West, I received an email pertaining to Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle. I noticed quite an increase of Vogue Knitting emails timed around Stitches West. Coincidence? I think not. The particular email that I am recalling made mention of a “Speed Knitting” competition at the Vogue Knitting Live Seattle Event. Oh how this got my heart all aflutter. I think I am a speedy knitting, but I know that I am not speedy compared so some others. I can hold my own with a pair of knitting needles though. Before the baby was born, when I was still knitting English style (2-3 seconds per stitch) I could still complete a sweater in a week. After learning to knit Continental style I only got faster and faster, though I had to work on improving my tension to regain my “machine-knit” look in my work. Currently I can easily knit through 200 yards a day, if I have the time and the energy, and can have knit up to 325 yards in a day, though I must not be disturbed in the process. We’re talking straight stockinette (in the round) or garter (flat).
Hearing about the Speed Knitting competition made my imagination go wild. I told Ramon about it, and interested, he started asking questions, “Does everyone knit the same thing, using the same tools?” I didn’t know, and still don’t, but must assume so. Ramon, almost as wide eyed as myself said it sounded like fun, and maybe I should try to go. I quickly turned down the idea. At the time I didn’t know how, or when the move would go and I have that fabulous Little Buckaroo, in need of a full time entertainer. The trip would be two plane tickets, a hotel, and being gone between 1 and 3 days. It wouldn’t be fair to leave the little guy, or Ramon all alone in charge for who knows how many days, especially after he had worked so hard on our new house, and not knowing what state our living situation would be in or if we would have even moved yet. I told Ramon, “I’d really, really love to. Even if I couldn’t participate, and I doubt I would be competitive, just to see what the other magic needle workers can do. Another time, another year. I am sure that there will be another chance.”
Well, Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle came and went this past weekend. The pictures on their facebook page elude to a lot of fun. I can find no mention of the competition, but I already know that this was not my year to try to participate, especially when the thing that I am knitting on now is going so damn slow! As I knit along at a snails pace, I knew that adding in the lace would add some time, but this seems ridiculous. I thought I was a speedy knitter, but we all need to be humbled sometimes. I just didn’t realize that this was the project to do it.
However, as I am learning, snails aren’t particularly slow. The myth a fallacy, they are speedy little slim-balls, especially when you’re trying to protect your precious artichoke plant. I brought up the snails with my mom the other day, another soul not so interested in theirs. She also commented on their sneaky speed and I told her that I tossed them out left and right, applied the snail bait and there always seem to be more. She replied, “Well, have you seen my fish tank?” It all started with only one snail. No one even knows how it got there, but there was only one and it was removed. Now, there are thousands. No matter how many you pluck out of that tiny fish tank, thousands more pop up in their place.
My tank top may be taking a while but I’m getting their with quantity. The slowness could also have to do with the fact that I am working with sport weight mercerized cotton which requires many my favorite hand lotion—Unicorn Farts—applied liberally at bedtimes. But stitch after stitch it’s getting there. The lace is beautiful, I love it, though I know I will have to wear another tank-top underneath it, and because of the slow going I have noticed that the yarn has a super subtle hit of yellow in it which I could only see after about 10 thousand stitches had been completed. Sleepy, exhausted and overwhelmed by the house projects I approach the tank-top every night. Where originally there was just one ball of weaving yarn, never intended for hand-knitting, I am creating something beautiful from thousands of my stitches. I often think of our house as Humpty Dumpty and we’re putting it back together again, a million little pieces to create one
house home. While it may be overwhelming and a lot of work it will be well worth it, just as it will be well worth the continued battle on the slimy mono-peds in my backyard.
Oh my God, if those snails get my very first strawberry though, I am going to go Rambo on their asses.
March 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
It has been two weeks since I have touched a knitting needle. Two whole weeks. It is hard for even me to believe. Busy as a little bee I’ve been unpacking, organizing, and of course, as always taking care of my beloved Little Buckaroo. While we moved in on the Ides of March, now here we are just over 10 days later and there is still so much to do. When we moved none of the trim pieces were in place—moldings, door-frames, window-frames, the solid wood doors themselves, wainscoting, and even some of the baseboards. Ramon saved the 107 year old redwood originals (thanks Santa Cruz Mountains) during the demo. He sent them all off to be “tanked” which means that instead of painstakingly stripping off layers and layers of foul paint, the doors and all go in a huge vat of caustic-soda and decades of grime, lead-based paint and God knows what else is removed. At Gymboree today one of the Mommy’s asked me, “Why didn’t you just replace it all?” Good question, one which I asked myself way back when as well. It is probably over a mile worth of “trim,” and you just can’t get this stuff down at the old hardware store. It would all have to be handmade, so why not save the original redwood–great solid, carved pieces—and fix them back up.
All of this is fine and good until the baby is standing up, pulling out our new Pink Panther insulation from the 3 inch, uncovered gap between the window panes in his room, exactly where a trim piece should go. We knew that this is what would happened, but we collapsed in exhaustion and vowed to get to it just as soon as we could move again. Well, the problem got worse on Saturday when I left the room for only a moment and I came back to a screaming, bleeding 9 month old little boy. A huge splinter in his thumb. Where did he get it? I don’t know … so many options. Ugh. As things stand I cannot leave him alone in any room, or in any place for any reason, with the exception of his crib. When you just get him up from a nap, feed him his lunch and then say, oh, need to use the bathroom, you can’t very well put him in his crib again. He’ll be pissed! So, onto the bathmat he goes, pulling at the shower door, toilet paper and everything else until you’re done with you business. Not exactly a road-map for success we’re drawing out here. So, in a delirious state from trying to get boxes unpacked and keep two eyes always on that little, starting-to-take-his-first-steps baby, our new “home-renovation” plan has taken a left turn: Safety first, with a little bit of convenience squeezed in where absolutely necessary. Funny how you can’t open kitchen cabinets without some sort of “pull” or “bar.” And if you don’t have one of those, a broken finger nail just might be able to do the trick. (Special thanks for my Dad to installing all of our kitchen cabinet hardware this weekend, in a special effort to avoid his own home renovation project )
Yesterday I got 15 boxes of books unpacked and put away, 4 boards enamel painted for the baby’s window and a coat of primer on both sides of one door and 10 more trim pieces. Today, the remaining pieces enameled, about 8 boxes unpacked and our bathroom closet organized. At the end of the day we are both exhausted again. Ramon bought an amazing pressure washer which we need to get the rest of the caustic-soda out of the trim pieces. We found out the hard way that they needed a further rinsing. Don’t ask. With paint splattered hands, and through broken finger nails I sat down tonight in need of a Knitcation. I scraped the start of my last project. I just want something simple, something I don’t have to put any thought into—well, not much anyway, little thought for me. I picked up my needles and my Knitting Nature book of patterns and started my Shell Tank—a lovely and unexpected gift from my sister. Two inches in, after two weeks of no knitting and my hands feel cramped and tired. They’ve been very hard at work in other ways though. These two simple, not so special little inches make me realize how much I love creating something new though, and how much I miss, and need it. Un-packing, organizing, painting are all great and extremely worthwhile tasks of employment by our new home, but the act of creating something totally new, where nothing existed before is what drives me forward. Gardening, knitting, cooking, they’re all creating something from nothing, parts, tools. This is why I love all of these types of projects. It is so stimulating and enjoyable knowing that what I have in my hands, even if it is just started, is some sort of contribution I can make that I created completely. There is always something new to learn, and a new tool to enjoy learning about.
Tomorrow is another day. More paint, more boxes, more Gymboree and giggles from the little guy, and I hope a little bit of new creation can be found in there, too.
March 13, 2013 § 4 Comments
I saw my friend Nicole the other day, an impromptu meeting at her house. She showed me a herringbone cowl that she’d just finished knitting. I saw it hanging on the hook by the front door when I walked in, and just glancing at it I thought it was actually white “camo” fabric. She showed it to me, as we show each-other all of our knitting projects, and explained to me just how, and why she hated it. We gave each-other that look, as anyone who has ever made things for themselves well knows, the “I spent so much time on this, and it is terrible. Now what do I do with it look.” Oh the frustration, the disappointment! Do you just toss it? Donate it? Or the standard, just keep it and hope that someday you’ll change your mind about it, even though you know better.
That is how I felt when I first started my Coachella tank top. I first found it back in 2010 on Ravelry, and added it to my favorites. In the beginning of September 2011, it officially went into my queue on Ravlery, a sacred area I use for that literal purpose of lining up the projects I actually want to do. So many others just use it as a bookmark. On September 12th, 2011 I found the yarn I wanted to use, on clearance at Imaginknit in San Francisco, Lana Grossa New Cotton Seta, but sadly, they only had 3 hanks it was discontinued. I worked my little tail off to find three more, and once I found them, quickly, I began knitting my swatches. Problem was, I hated, HATED the way that felt knitted. The yarn was so soft when just wrapped in the skein. I couldn’t understand how anything with cotton could be so soft. This particular cotton is 60% Rayon, 20% Cotton, 20% Silk, so I guess it is hardly “cotton,” but rayon is wood pulp, and only 20% silk, still I had a hard time believing that it could be so soft. So the yarn isn’t long fibers twisted together, they are sort of braided together, and when knit, you feel the “harshness” off the braiding. Or, at least that is what I thought. I started the gauge swatches about the time I started feeling the morning sickness from the beginning of my pregnancy, and instead of looking at that as the hold-up, I decided that this yarn I had worked so hard to find, and finally got from a little yarn store in Massachusetts was the culprit, and quickly wrote off the entire project.
Now that the move is in full swing, when I had to go through my stash last week to look for two
missing not purchased skeins of yarn, I found my six skeins of Lana Grossa New Cotton Seta, with my printed out version of the pattern stuffed in the bag, and long forgotten. I knew it would be a quick project. I decided I didn’t want to try to use the yarn for anything else and so I got it out, put it on the couch, and once I determined I in-fact didn’t have the yarn to finish my Cara Cara tank, I started this, and it flew off the needles. Even with the packing and the baby I finished it in 4 days, and a strange thing happened: I LOVED the way that it knit-up! I just couldn’t believe it.
Way back when I originally found this pattern I also found Roko on Ravelry, a knitting force to be reckoned with. She knit this top twice, and did it in merely 1 day the second time. I don’t know how this woman knits so fast. Most of her work is in seductive greys and blacks, which are hard to see and dull to look at for mile after mile of yarn yardage. She’s cute, does beautiful work, and seems to have no idea just how special she is, making her that just much more special.
She simplified the Cochella pattern, originally published in Knitty in 2007, widening the back so that it is not a skinny piece requiring a halter-esque undergarment, but so that it might be more comfortable for the average, or more modest wear-er. Her pattern modifications looked so flattering and were so, SO simple that this is the exact route that I decided to go. I didn’t even have to adjust the number of stitches that I cast-on. My gauge was a little larger, which resulted in a size more appropriate for me.
- Her gauge was: 26 sts and 40 rows = 4 x 4 inches on size 4 (US) needles
- My gauge was: 22 sts and 28 rows = 4 x 4 inches on size 6 (US) needles
- Of the six skeins I had of Lana Grossa New Cotton Seta, I only have about 20 yards left, meaning I used about 700 yards.
So, as follows is Roko’s pattern (click here for link to her original) with my modifications as my gauge was different:
- Cast on 160sts, pm, and join to work in the round.
- Work in stockinette st for about 2 inches.
- Divide the sts for the front—120 sts—and the back—40sts, work front and back separately
- For the front, with RS facing Dec 1 sts on each edge as foll: k1, ssk, k across until 3 sts rem, k2tog, k1. Work 1 WS row. Work Dec 5 times, work 2 rows even. Rep Dec plus 2 rows 3 more times (20 decreases, total)-80 sts
- For the back, with RS facing Inc 1 sts on each edge as foll: k1, kf/b, k across until 2 sts rem, kf/b, k1. Work 1 WS row. Work Inc 5 times, work 2 rows even. Rep Inc plus 2 rows 3 more times (20 increases, total)—80 sts
- K across front, PM for side, seam, join, and k across back, PM for beg/end of rnd
- Work in St st for about 4 inches
- Inc 1 stitch every 8th rnd 3 times at both side of M,
- Inc 1 stitch every 10th rnd, 3 times at both side of M (184sts).
- Work 10 rnds even.
- Bind off all sts.
- Crochet edging: 3 rnds of single crochet, then completed crochet edging
I washed the top in my sweater-tub which is now being used as a box for packing things for the move on Friday. I dried it in the sun, on-top of the barbeque as the weather is getting so nice out. The once again experienced the magic of blocking and I didn’t even have to press my little crochet hem down, so that it woudn’t roll up from all of that stockinette stitch. Then, I put my Roko-chella on. The yarn is amazingly soft. I love the weight of the plant fibers in the yarn. It has structure and drape. This is the most even I have seen my tension since I changed from English style knitting to continental. I just love, love, love it. I think I am going to be wearing it every day, and I even wore it out for yesterday in the 75° heat (I know it’s not that hot, it’s still Spring‚ but I was happy and cool—and comfortable—as a cucumber. (Cucumbers look comfortable, don’t they?) I’d like to go on and on and on about how much I love this yarn, but sadly there is no point as it is discontinued and it was practically unobtainium a year and a half ago. I’d like to make another, but I’ll have to find a different cotton (based) yarn to work with.
The only thing I don’t like? WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I MAKE THIS TANK-TOP SOONER? I guess I just expected to be disappointed. I think that this goes to show that sometimes when we get results that we find less than satisfactory, we shouldn’t just write off the project.
So, I’d like to say: Nicole, your cowl may come in handy, but maybe for something you haven’t even thought of yet.
Wait, did I just promote hording?
March 5, 2013 § 4 Comments
Ooof, I am sick again. No, not another flu, but I have had a stuffy cold since Friday. I guess that is what happens when you get really sick, then never really rest. But when you have a Little Buckaroo that is just super busy, what are you supposed to do? I have been taking cold medicine with pretty good degree of effectiveness, though I feel like I am just suppressing as opposed to really getting better. So yesterday I decided no more “band-aids” to treat my symptoms, the real problem—the cold—needs to be dealt with and go away. Unfortunately with the impending move I really don’t have time to stop, so I guess I’ll just have to get through it.
Then, for the first time, something has happened in Yarnville that I still can’t believe. I am working on a project where I have not just sort of run out of yarn, but really, REALLY run out of yarn. How did this happen?
It is hard to believe that with all of the sweaters, hats, cowls, and everything else that I have knit that I have never really run out of yarn before. Okay, well, it is not exactly true that I have never run out before. But I didn’t lie, exactly. A few times I have come to the end the second sleeve of the beloved sweater of the moment, and Kablammo! One row from the end and I am out of yarn. Well, this doesn’t exactly warrant buying a whole new skein, and chances are that I have another skein lined up and ready to go, it is just a matter of principal. I usually just finish the sweater’s sleeve one row short of the other, and figure no one will ever notice. *Spoiler Alert* no one ever has.
So last week after the worst of my flu had passed, and before getting this nasty cold, I started the super adorable springtime friendly Cara Cara Pullover by Amanda Bell from Knitscene, It was on new stands last year, and I bought the digital edition to save space and paper. And then, of course, then I go and print out the patterns as I want to make them. Why don’t I just buy the physical copy? Well, I guess it is still a lot less paper than buying the whole issue. I looked and I looked for the yarn I wanted for this project. I have been using a lot of KnitPicks Comfy for spring projects. It is super affordable, super soft, and comes in so many colors. The only problem was, I couldn’t find a color for this project in the weight that I needed. The Cara Cara pullover by Amanda Bell should have some weight, and a little drape. It should be warm, friendly and spring-ey. At last I settled on buying the worsted weight version of Knitpicks Comfy, as opposed to the Sport weight, which would have been perfect for the project. I looked carefully at the materials list for the pullover, and for the size that I wanted to make 5 skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece at 215 yards per skein. This comes to a whopping 1075 yards. For a 3/4 length sleeve pullover that seems like a lot, but it is on size 5 needles with sport weight yarn. So I ordered up my 10 skeins, as there are 109 yards per skein, coming to a total of 1099 yards. Perfect, a little extra, but not so much that I will be wasteful.
I was finishing up the body of my Cara Cara pullover and I realized that I was almost out. How could this be? I know I ordered enough!
I have always said that I can do basic math, meaning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I prefer the use of a calculator.When I was at the plant nursery over the weekend I was delighted to find Green Globe Artichoke plants. Now, the thing with Artichoke plants is, no matter how much you freaking love artichokes, they just aren’t going to produce artichokes until their second year of life. So, they had plants that were clearly very young, this season. Plants in gallon pots that are about 2 feet in diameter, and plants in 2 gallon pots that are also about 2 feet in diameter but very bushy. I asked the fellow if the ones in the gallon pots were one year old. “How should I know?” he responded. Um, because you work here?
So I went home without a plant. I really want artichokes in my new garden at our new, beautiful house this year. The bigger plants were $25 bucks, and see this is where I prove to you that I do no basic math, the smaller plants were marked $7.50 on each pot, and then there was a sign that said, 2 for $15! Wow, what a steal … um … really? You need a sign to say that the plants cost exactly twice as much for two plants?
After talking with my mom we concluded that the big bushy ones, and the smaller $7.50 or the super steal 2 for $15 plants were both started last year, and the price difference in the two, $17.50 doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll be getting artichokes growing—and then yummy in my tummy—anytime sooner. So I went back the next day and snatched up one of the few remaining gallon sized plants. The day before there were quite a great deal more, but I think that people were awed by the amazing 2 for $15 deal … just kidding.
While I was wandering around there, as the Buckaroo was thoroughly enjoying his shopping cart outdoor adventure, I came across the bonsai trees.
I have been on a citrus and fruit tree buying blitz. (Don’t worry, by blitz I mean that I have bought two tiny lime trees and one self pollinating Bing cherry tree). So when I came across the Bonsai trees I stopped and had to marvel at their unique beauty. So short, so cute, and so darn easy to kill. Reminds me a lot of Orchids. I started wondering about why the smallest of things usually take the most work. My seedlings look like they’re suffering from the Great Plant Plague of 2013. If you don’t get the watering and sun just right those sad sprouts just keel right over and whither away. But that is sort of the deal with starting your own plants. You have to plant many, MANY seed to get one viable goodie. That Little Buckaroo of mine, so short, so much work. My projects, with my tiny needles take far longer than something with huge needles, like say, US size 8! (Again, a joke). But I like the fine knits. I like my small needles. I loved my orchids, and I love my little seedlings—mostly the ones that are growing and surviving, and I really, REALLY love that Little Buckaroo, too, and watching him grow every day and learn new things is a rewards that I cannot even begin to describe. And with that, I picked up the bonsai tree. Those seductive blossoms, that trunk, so tiny, but with such an old soul.
With my Cara Cara pullover I felt astounded that I could get so much done in just a week. The entire body after it was divided for the sleeves and the body, I finished in two days! So why was I running out of yarn. Starting the collar I only had two skeins left, and that certainly wasn’t going to be enough for two sleeves a cowl neck/collar and a pocket! Off to the stash! I pulled out my ENTIRE YARN STASH looking for these two missing skeins. I knew I had them, but since I had taken to hiding my yarn in multiple locations over the year they could have wound up just about anywhere. After going through every ball and every scrap of yarn I have I came to the amazing realization that my yarn stash hasn’t grown in the past year, which also means that I’ve been knitting a hell of a lot. But no-where to be found were my missing two skeins. Crapper.
I went to my email, and found my receipts.
I ordered Eight. Not ten. I am ready for some humble pie.
I took my total yardage of 1075 and divided that by the number of yards in a skein of Knitpicks Comfy. Here is where the problem occurred. Originally I was dead set on Comfy Sport because it is the right size for the project and wouldn’t make it too bulky, and then I finally settled on a color I love, giving up some of the lightness and picked a worsted weight. Well, the two have different yardages, as they are sold by 50g skein. 50g of a Worsted weight will be less in total length than a “skinnier” sport weight yarn.
Eight times 109 does not equal eight times 137. Double Crapper.
This is a huge mistake, and after thinking about it for a while I am now able to admit that I am surprised it didn’t happen sooner. With longer days and spring quickly approaching I find myself feeling incredibly, lets say, optimistic about the amount of things that I am able to get done, or the things that I want to get done. In my mind I have this whole master plan for my garden at the new house, but if I stop and think for a bit I am able to realize that it is going to take years, and on-top of that it should be FUN to do. I have loads and loads and loads of knitting I want to get done, and I am a pretty speedy knitter, but it should be fun, at the same time. And lets face it, we all make mistakes! The little things take a lot more work, but the pay off can be so great. The let-down of failure, even only partial, can also be devastating though.
Pictured Above is my Cara Cara Pullover so far, with body and cowl completed, and sleeves and pocket still left to go. I am saving what I have left of my yarn, in case I need to stripe in into the sleeves if the die-lot of the new yarn doesn’t match exactly, to hide my yarn miscalculation.
I think that I should look my big yarn miscalculation with my Cara Cara not as coming up short, but as an opportunity to step back and evaluate. How long do I really want those sleeves? How much more do I really need to order? Did I just rush through this entire project and not enjoy it? When I got to the cowl, when I already knew I was going to run, out I took more time. I love seed stitch. It’s rhythmic, beautiful, and delightful to run your fingers across. Yes, it takes quite a long time to do, but I really enjoyed knitting the cowl. Maybe round after round of stockinette—which means just thousands of knit stitches in a row—is pretty darn dull, but I picked this yarn for a reason, for how soft it is, and for the warm gray which makes me smile. So yes, I am short on yarn. I need to place another little Knitpicks order very soon anyway! Now I just need to figure out how I want the sleeves to be on my dear Cara Cara.
My little sprouts aren’t coming up short, they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing: Trying to survive. The best ones will make it, and this is my FIRST TIME starting my own seeds, so I can’t expect perfection. My first scarf has mistakes, and my first *little* garden will, too. That is how it will grow, learning from what works and what doesn’t.
As for the Little Buckaroo? I really feel like I am not coming up short with him these days. I feel happy and focused on raising him. I feel that my much-needed break a week and a half ago, which turned into the flu, was just the right dose of medicine, and reality. Getting to take a step back and just watch made me really happy. And he’s not coming up short. He just is short, but really, really cute.
And what about the Bonsai? If I over extend myself with my projects and my gardening too much it is not going to be just my yarn yardage and my sprouts that come up short, but I will, too.
So, don’t worry, I put the bonsai back.
March 4, 2013 § 2 Comments
I am a sweater Knitter with a Capital “K.” I love sweaters. I love knitting them. And I wish—though only halfheartedly, I love my warm weather and often dream of living in La Jolla—that I lived in an where real wool, hand-knit sweaters are a necessity. There is a problem with sweaters though, and no, I am not referring to the dreaded “second-sleeve syndrome.” They take forever to knit.
We are getting ready to move in 2 weeks, and the movers will be here before we know it. While having a yarn crisis I went through my entire yarn stash and while this might seem scary it is only 5 large bins (24 x 16 x 8 inches) and even more shockingly, it hasn’t grown in over a year. I have been buying lots of yarn, and as it turns out, I have been making lots and lots of knitted things, too. My husband and mother were just telling me the other day that I am CRAZY to think that I haven’t really finished anything in months. I openly admit now that they are right, and going through my yarn stash helped me to realize that I have done a lot, otherwise I’d be in need of a lot more bins for this big move.
I think that part of the reason why I feel like I haven’t finished anything is for two reasons. 1. I am a process knitter and enjoy the knitting more than the finished object and 2. I never really get closure on completing the project, unless I am able to photograph and post about it. I love working on little write-ups about the patterns, and what I learned. So I am going to try to catch up with some of my FOs (Finished Objects).
Images of Knitscene cover and Project shot for the Check Slouch from Interweave Press. Click either image to follow through to their website, where you can buy this great issue of the magazine. So many fun projects!
In my world of sweaters, occasionally I just need to get something done, and accessories are an ideal way to do that. Last summer when Knitscene, part of Interweave Press, released their Accessories issue I immediately snatched up a copy and fell head-over-heels for the Check Souch by Triona Murphy. When I made my big Knitpicks order last fall I bought one skein of Hawk, Ivory and Whisker in Knitpicks Comfy Worsted. On a rainy day with baby sleeping I picked up my needles, didn’t do my gauge swatch, which is Extremely Rare—definitely capitalized—and started knit-knit-knitting away. I think that my 1×1 ribbing, especially in cotton, can look a little sloppy so I made my first modification there. From that point, I started in with the multi-colors and the plaid pattern. This was the first time that it was really, really evident to me that I was knitting each row twice to create the effect but it is brilliant. After a short bit I measured and had actually hit gauge almost perfectly; my piece would be a wee bit big. But it is a “slouch” hat, so that isn’t really a bad thing, right?
I finished this puppy in one day, and was very happy to have taken a break from sweater-ville. I really love when I have the opportunity to learn something new and this hat, with the plaid, gave me a great, short opportunity. I wore it for my tone-on-tone Fashion Friday a few weeks ago, and wear it all the time. It is just right in this yarn, and the pattern was really fun. I should surf back through the issue and see what else I can find for a quick breather from sweater-ville.
Materials: Knitpicks Comfy Worsted, 1 hank each of
- Only 1, I changed the ribbing to 1×1 twisted rib: *(K1tbl, p1); rep for * through end of rnd
- The plaid st pattern, and really, really enjoyed it
- I think that my color choices and yarn choice were just perfect for this project.
February 20, 2013 § 2 Comments
So, not last Friday, but the Friday before I posted my successful new Jill’s Sweater, with the re-wound yarn from my Jill’s Dress in my Fashion Friday post. This sweater has become a new staple of my wardrobe. I have been wearing it so much, that I have actually even already noticed some slight pilling, ARGH! But it is a small price to have something new that I love so much, and is so unique.
You know, I have come to a very important realization recently: It is only as hard as I let it be.
“What?” you say. “That sounds Dumb.”
No really though, it is true.
This goes back to recently reading Yarn Harlot, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I find myself thinking a lot about this book these days. The chapter currently in my thoughts is titled “Three Blankets,” which is a broad—but personal—view about the learning curve of both having a child, children, and also about knitting. The blanket that she made for her first daughter, while at the time she thought was quite lovely, she grew to see later as “messy” and “horrible,” made from nasty acrylic. The blankets made for both of her successive children were far more successful. She talks about how, somehow, magically, it just got easier with each child, and then I realized, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. In fact, almost every parent I have ever asked has said it got easier with the second child.
Why is this?
Is it because we just have no freaking clue about what we’re doing with the first one? Everything must be researched, looked-up, looked into, worried over, washed, sterilized, sanitized, nutritional-ized, and beyond? Is it just that we are so tired by the time the second or third one arrives that we really don’t care if they’re sitting on the floor, licking the carpet at the bank? Or is it because we realize that that small stuff really doesn’t matter so much? If the poopy jammies don’t get washed RIGHT NOW, by God, the Earth is just going to keep on turning …
So, maybe we do this to ourselves.
Wow, there’s a thought.
And … maybe this is a silly thing to do?
I’ve recently started watching Mad Men, from the beginning of the first season. I’ve not watched it before, so it is all new to me, but everyone I’ve ever asked about it says the same thing, “It is amazing, you must watch!” I really haven’t had
much any time for watching anything recently. Now that the Little Buckaroo is bigger and AWAKE AND ACTIVE so much, we’ve started going to the park more, and Gymboree pretty much daily, just trying to wear him out. I can’t remember in which exact episode this came up, but it is before episode 7 of the first season, as that is as far as I have made it since I started watching at the beginning of the month. In the episode, Don Draper is consulting with his wife’s therapist, when he the therapist comments that the problems she is having with feeling overwhelmed by taking care of the children and the household, likens Betty’s to being a child herself. Ouch. Yes, I understand this is a period piece, taking place in the 60′s when social views were quite extremely different than they are today, but hell, I am having problems keeping up, and I am feeling overwhelmed. Am I just not owning up to my duties? Am I a whiner? Or, perhaps, I am just making things too hard.
I think that Stephanie is onto something with the knitting simile. I kept my very first real project, but alas, I did not keep my original “learning to knit” swatches. I kept ripping them out, bent on not wasting the yarn and hell bent on perfection. It seems like a funny thing now. I spent so much time—hours—making those swatches. They were terrible. My first project, a simple ribbed scarf with pretty wine colored burgundy wool isn’t perfect, but I still love it. I love that I made it. I love that I went into a real yarn store with my sister where she helped me pick it out. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had an idea, a memory of a scarf that I fell in love with when I lived in Italy. I knew, deep down, that my scarf wouldn’t come out the same, as it was to be my first project, and so I didn’t try to recreate my vision. I just tried to make something great. I picked my battles with that scarf. I didn’t know how to fix mistakes, so I tried my best, and then I just let them be. I remember binding-off with instructions written in a note on my cell phone through the worst plane turbulance I have ever been in, a huge storm in January of 2010, on my way back from the craziest photo-shoot trip of my life. Feeling like vomiting, I finished my bind-off with about 12 inches of yarn. I was so thrilled I showed the business-man next to me, “Wow, that is really amazing. I’ve never made anything like that. My wife tried knitting, but it is just so hard.” I felt to proud.
Since then my skills have improved, and my standards raised. A lot. No, A LOT, a lot. So, when it came time to re-do my sleeves for my Jill’s Dress/Sweater, I was happy to dive right in, at long last, but I certainly had expectations about exactly what I wanted, and knew I would except nothing less. All of my knitting books have been packed away for months now. The instructions for how to make this sleeve? Or even one like it? Freaking gone. Fifteen boxes lie between me and those instructions. So what to do now? I write lots of patterns, but I have only done this type of inset sleeve, worked in the round, picking up stitches once before.
It is only as hard as I let it be.
Damn it. I made these sleeves once before. I just said that I did, and I remember what it was like, don’t I? Have confidence, Julie!
I vaguely remembered making them for my Feather Dress (above), from the same book of patterns as the Jills Dress … Pick up the stitches in a circle. Mark the center at the shoulder. Mark the center at the underarm/join to work in the round. Work to center stitch. Work X number of stitches (I don’t remember an exact number but I do remember it was not many!) past that. Work and turn, work and turn, work and turn, work and turn, and an inset sleeve is beautiful grown from the shoulder center.
That’s it, just let it grow. Take notes on what I’ve done so that I can recreate it on the other side. Some basic math based on the gauge and the rest of the sleeves quickly completed, also in the round. Just like that. I didn’t let it be hard, and so, it wasn’t.
I love this sweater now. I just, freaking love it. I wear it at night when I am knitting, even if it is too warm. I love the deep, rich purple. I love the variegation in the yarn. I love the warmth. I love things about it that I normally don’t really like. The sleeves only took a day each, and that was really just working on them in the evenings. I really do wish that I had done this sooner, but emotionally with the project I just wasn’t ready yet. I was worried about not having anything to look up about the technique. I was worried about ripping out my hard work for the dress and regretting it. In the end, I found that the yarn-rewind was cathartic. I don’t regret making the dress before, and I also don’t with that I’d just started with the sweater. I think it was the right time, and I was mentally and skill wise in the right place to rewind, and let it be. It’s not a bad thing to make mistakes, or change our minds. It’s not bad to feel overwhelmed, and like you may not be able to do something, especially without any damn books around. But it is only as hard as I let it be.
I tell myself this new mantra every day. Actually, in all honesty, probably about 100 times per day. It is only as hard as I let it be. The baby is teething, and it is hard. We are remodeling our house and I don’t get to spend any time with my husband, and it is hard. We are living in a cramped apartment that we don’t fit in, and can’t baby proof, and it is hard. But, It is only as hard as I let it be. I can either choose to take him on the errands while screaming, or not. Sometimes these things just NEED to get done, and as much as he hates being in the car, and WILL NOT sleep, I can do it, but I don’t need to over-do it. When I need help, ask for it. As my sister says, instead of just assuming that other people know what I need, I need to tell them. Instead of just saying, “I need help,” tell them WHAT I need help with, specifically. I can do that, it is not hard. It is only as hard as I let it be.
Like Betty in Mad Men, I do feel overwhelmed, and this is going to happen. It doesn’t make me a child for feeling overwhelmed with my baby, or with my house. It means that I am riding and climbing the learning curve, and I’ve gotten to a steep part. I need to figure it out. Take a step back, rewind (literally, or figuratively, whatever the best scenario is). Take a new step forward. It is only as hard as I let it be.
In the last week or so that I have been working on this things have gotten a lot better. Yes, Ramon has been staying home a lot more than before (meaning, more than from 7:30 at night until 10:30 at night). He’s helping with the dishes, and making sure I get out by myself for an hour here, or a couple of hours there. And, yes, I did tell him that I needed this but things have still been a lot better either way. Crabby Pants has his first tooth! So a small break in the teething … for now. We’ve also discovered his LOVE for balloons. Gymboree helps a lot, too, giving us something fun and exhausting—in a good way—for the Little Buckaroo, too.
I am not perfect. Following my new Mantra isn’t easy, and sometimes even seems impossible. I know I still have a LONG, LONG, LONG way to go—my baby isn’t licking the floor at the bank anytime soon, but those plastic balls and mats at Gymboree? Sure, go ahead and lick those.