November Yarn of the Month

November has been crazy busy for me and this led to quite a delay before I could go pick up my November yarn.  I was able to see a sneak peak on Facebook which held me over until I got to the store.  This month’s color is based on the Gordon Square Arts District and looks like this:

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A little background for the out of towners who may be reading.  The Cuyahoga River runs through the middle of Cleveland and divides the city into the west side and the east side.  I realize this is common in many areas but the lines are firmly drawn here and it is usually the first thing you ask someone.  I am a west-sider.  One of the only things we were really lacking here on the west side was an arts district.  All of the arts areas were on the east side and sometimes it’s just too much effort to cross the river.  The east side has the art museum and the the cool, arty movie theater.  That all changed with the development of the Gordon Square Arts District.

What used to be a run down main drag has been slowly revitalized and is now home to restaurants, shops, galleries, a cool, arty movie theater and even live theater.  My hair salon, Honeycomb, is in the area as is Yellowcake – a fashion shop owned by Valerie, a former contestant on Project Runway.  I thought of both of these when I saw all the yellow in the yarn this month.  The area is home to Cleveland Public Theater which runs some edgier shows and has a lot of intimate theater space for smaller productions.  I have a few friends who have been involved in productions at the theater.  I love having a theater that shows the independent films on my side of the river.  With everything going on in Gordon Square I really don’t need to cross the river now!

Sidetracked

It’s been a busy few weeks during which I seem to have been afflicted with a case of tendinitis in my right thumb/wrist.  It came on quite suddenly and has me most frustrated.  Even typing this post is difficult.  I did a little research and was hoping to find some useful tips to share but the most popular suggestion was to put the knitting down for a few days.  I did find a group on Ravelry of knitters suffering from various arm problems.  A number of people suggested the Knitting Aid but a quick look at that did not really speak to me.  I’m wearing a brace and trying to find other things to do while this resolves.  So, I’m going to block my Wiggle Wrap which is finally done!!  And, maybe I’ll work on organizing my stash…  I had some fun yarn adventures in Asheville, NC last week so I’m hoping I can get those typed up soon too!  If anyone has any suggestions for this condition, leave me a comment!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend?

I recently revisited a project that had been set aside due to other pressing knitting needs.  I only had a chance to work it on one night, then I got sick and it required too much attention, then I got a request for Halloween hats and then I was determined to finish my Wiggle Wrap which is going to be a Christmas present (so more on that after the holidays :) )

After all that, I was finally able to pick up my Guernsey Wrap again!  I love this project for so many reasons.  Everyone in my knitting group either has knit one or has one on the needles.  Patterns run through knitting groups like a flu virus – everyone ends up getting it at some point!  This one, we found when a new member of the group was working on hers one night.  Everyone wanted to start one right away – my problem was that is called for a large quantity of worsted weight yarn which is something I don’t have a lot of in my stash.  But the yarn gods were smiling upon me and I came into possession of a large quantity of worsted weight yarn while volunteering at the church rummage sale (if you want to read all about it, my rummage sale post can be found here).  Of all the yarn I brought home from the sale, the Zealana Tui yarn really wanted to become my Guernsey Wrap, that was in June.

We had a short cold snap in October and that led me to bring it back out and I had forgotten how much fun it is to knit.  It is based on different patterns used in traditional fisherman’s sweaters.  The best thing about it is just when you get bored with a section it is time to move on to the next section.  I think the sectioning also makes it seem like it is going faster.  I’m about halfway done.  The Tui yarn is amazing!!  It is so soft and such a joy to work with.  The oatmeal like color really shows off the pattern work.

The fun thing about a pattern running through a knitting group is being able to see all the different colors and yarn types everyone uses for their wrap.  The original we saw was in a brown tweed, another friend used a blue Cascade and I believe another friend is using a yellow Cascade.

Here’s how mine looks so far – can’t wait to finish it!

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Frigid Princesses

Given that focus of my knitting business is kids’ hats, I’m always trying to keep up with the latest trends in their little world.  Over the past year I think we all know what that has been – Frozen!  Frozen mania has taken over the world.  It’s no different for the all the little kids I know.  With Christmas around the corner I started perusing Ravelry for patterns based on a Frozen theme.  The first thing I found were these adorable Anna and Elsa dolls – the pattern is free so I thought I would give it a whirl.

One of the most important things to me on projects like this is to the get the coloring right.  The number of projects I see on Ravelry or Etsy or Pinterest where the crafter has just not used the correct colors.  It makes such a huge difference.  I know it can be a real pain to try and match colors but it’s really worth the time and effort.  KnitPicks is great for color work like this because they have so many colors in very affordable yarns.  I ordered a bunch of yarn and got started.  I shared a picture on my Facebook page and the reaction was all the Frozen mania you would expect.  One of my friends did not even know what it was but wanted two.

This all leads to the biggest problem – trademark issues.  In my post I was careful to say they were not for sale and I was experimenting.  All of which was true at the time.  I had recently seen an article (which I can’t find now) that Disney was cracking down on Etsy sellers who had Disney themed products for sale.  Being a lawyer, I totally understand the trademark issues involved here.  However, part of me thinks none of this is hurting Disney and maybe they should worry about more important things but I like to be a law abiding citizen so I’m careful with what I sell and how I market those things.

Once my bundle of carefully chosen yarn colors arrived I set off to work.  In the end, I did enjoy the finished project.  I love the way the pattern was written and the dolls turn inside out so they have their ball gowns on one side and their winter wear on the other.  My big problem with this type of project is making the faces.  I’m terrible at the face making part and if you can’t get the faces right it doesn’t really matter how good the rest of it works.  These are going to be Christmas presents for my friend’s daughter.  She’s an easy going girl and won’t be bothered by the weird faces!

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After this, I gave up on the frigid princess knit items, until, I got a request from a friend.  Her daughters are dressing as Anna and Elsa for Halloween.  She did not want to buy them the wigs for sale in the stores and had found some cute knitted hats on Pinterest and was wondering if I could recreate those.  So, I set off on another frigid journey.  I still had the blue from the dolls for the Elsa like hat.  I’m much more pleased at the outcome of these hats.

I found a pattern for a crown hat for newborns that I was able to size up for the 4 year old who would be getting the hat.  The interesting thing about this pattern was it was written for magic loop and I despite magic loop with all my being.  I’m a dpn girl through and through.  Ordinarily this difference does not matter but in this case, the hat is constructed inside out so you are purling the entire hat and that is tiresome on dpns and creates almost unavoidable jags when the decreases start.  I knew there had to be a way to knit this hat (without grafting it to the crown later).  I stopped in my LYS yesterday with this exact burning question – how do I flip this hat so I can knit it?  Turns out the answer is to make a mistake we all probably made when learning how to knit on circular needles – flip the direction.  It’s amazing how hard it is to make that mistake when you are trying to do it.  I definitely remember realizing halfway up a hat that I had knit it the other way and being utterly at a loss for how it happened.  I cast on the new hat today and am happily knitting it up –  no grafting, no purling and boy, it is going faster!  So this is how my frigid princess hats turned out!

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I think the girls will look adorable and will have nice warm heads which is important where we live!!

October’s Yarn

This is month 2 of the yarn of the month club I talked about last month.  We got the e-mail letting us know the yarn was ready for pick up.  There was also an invite to a sit and knit social for yarn club members.  This was another incentive for me to join – the promise of social meet ups in the various neighborhoods which are providing the color inspiration.  But, let’s start with this month’s yarn.  The neighborhood is Tremont and this is what we got.

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Tremont is just west of downtown and close to the steel mills that used to be the main industry here in Cleveland.  The entire neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are a number of very old churches in the area.  It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cleveland.  I think the colors used this month reflect that age and grittiness of the area.  In recent years it has undergone a transformation and is now full of art galleries, trendy restaurants and independent shops.  Some people would say it’s the “hipster” section of Cleveland.  Probably the most famous thing in Tremont is the Christmas Story house, the outside of the house was used in the movie A Christmas Story and is now a museum.  For me, Tremont is that neighborhood I can never find.  I almost always have to use my GPS to get there and/or get home.  Don’t ask me why, I just am at a loss when I have to there.  Over the summer we had knit night down there – we started at one of the hip restaurants and then went to the large public park which is at the center of the neighborhood where we watched a free dance performance.  It was one of those nights where it kind of felt like we lived in a real city.

And now, today was the social sit and knit for club members.  It was being held outside and so we were lucky and the weather more than cooperated – it was a perfect fall day.  It was held as the Seltzer Sculpture Garden which is located in the Edgewater neighborhood that inspired last month’s colors.  I have driven down this street hundreds of times and never knew the park existed.  I had always seen this large globe and just thought the people that lived in that house had interesting taste in yard decorations.

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Turns out I’m not the only one who thought this was private.  I posted a picture on Facebook and had several comments from people who live in the area and did not know it was a public park.  The story is that the people who live in the house next to the park are artists so they purchased the two lots adjacent to their property and set up this sculpture park.  They have set up a fund to endow the park after they are gone and now I’m telling everyone about this!  What a hidden gem here in our city!  I can’t wait to take my knitting group back to sit and knit.

As it worked out, I’m the only club member who showed up.  It was still great, I got to spend the afternoon with the owner of my LYS and the woman who came up the color palettes for the club. I did not work on any projects with my club yarn (way to go me – did not cast on a new project :) ) but did continue to work on Campfire cowl I wrote about last week.  I hope more people will come to the next event because they really missed out.  And, I can’t wait to see what next month brings!!

Here are a few more pictures from the park today – enjoy!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend?

My plan was to stick to only the Christmas knitting projects that need to be finished before casting on any new projects.  One particular project has a significant amount of knitting to be done in what is, a very quickly, shrinking time period.  Hence, my rule, that project has to be finished and nothing else can be worked on until that time.  I was doing well with, however, I wasn’t knitting.  I was just finding other things to do.  I realized I really wanted to knit with the awesome yarn I bought at the trunk shows from Destination Yarns.  Specifically, the Campfire colorway which screams fall.  I thought it was an ombre dyed yarn and spent a lot of time on Ravelry searching for a cowl pattern that would show off the ombre effect and finally found one.  I went upstairs to wind the yarn and found it I was wrong, it’s not ombre dyed.  Back to the drawing board…

I could not find anything that was speaking to me, nothing this yarn wanted to be.  At long last, I stumbled across Emita.  The fun thing about this choice is that it’s done by one of our local knitters which makes this an all Cleveland project.  I’ve had a lot of time to work on it this week and it’s coming along nicely.  I just adore the colors in it and I really feel like I should be sitting around a campfire knitting it.

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I can’t wait until it’s finished!  I think at the end of the year I will have to take a look back on all these posts and see if any were actually finished and give a year-end update!

Thursday

I try to write a post every weekend, usually Saturday night (which probably says something about my social life).  But really, the last thing I want to do during the week is spend more time on the computer when I get home so by Saturday night I’m willing to turn it on and catch up on my blog and other knitting related pursuits.  This year I’ve had a goal of posting What’s on My Needles once a month and that’s been going okay.  The rest of the month I either write about something that has happened during the week or catch up on projects that I have not yet blogged about.  On Thursday, much like Alexander (of children’s book fame) I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, well at least morning.

I knew it was not going to be a fun day because I had received an e-mail late on Wednesday which I decided to deal with on Thursday morning so I did go home angry.  And deal with it I did.  First thing when I got into the office on Thursday morning I responded and the exchange went about as bad, if not worse, than I had anticipated.  By lunch time there was smoke coming out of my ears and I’m sure my blood pressure was not good.  The only good thing was that the whole incident was over by lunch so I shut my door and played some Candy Crush (don’t judge, it clears the mind…) and then, because I didn’t have any actual knitting with me (again, don’t judge, my profession frowns on such handicrafts), I decided to browse Ravelry.  As I was doing that I got a text from one of my knitting buddies about Thursday night knitting.  I told her I’d better go, otherwise I might kill people.  We’ve all seen the t-shirt and we all know we would wear one.  I found that not only does actual knitting calm the mind, but browsing knitting projects can also calm the mind and ease frazzled spirits.  Bonus – I had a message waiting for me on Ravelry that my LYS wanted to use pictures of my recently finished poncho in this week’s newsletter which made me so happy!

As I continued with my afternoon I was thinking about what a boost my short 1/2 hour on Ravelry had been for me.  It got me thinking about all those articles which have been popping up about the health benefits of knitting.  I had seen this one and it talks about both the physical and mental benefits.  I had no idea it would keep my joints lubricated and I’m all for staving off memory loss.  We’re lucky – our LYS is right next to a delightful bakery so we start our evening at the bakery with tea and a little treat.  By the time I got to the bakery I was completely calmed down and over the whole nasty morning.  Our group is currently working on a baby blanket.  One of our friends is expecting a new grandbaby next month.  Each of us takes one skein of yarn and works a pattern of our choosing and then we pass on to the next person.  I had the blanket on Thursday and had chosen a snowflake pattern.  What a great project to work on after my day.  It required a little bit of thinking, but not too much and it is for a new baby – how happy is that!

When I got home that night I was reading Twitter and came across this essay that Franklin Habit had just written about the same topic for the Lion Brand blog.  His post is great and I thought “maybe I shouldn’t write about this since his so awesome” but there is always room for more voices on this topic.  We can never sing the praises of knitting too much!  And, this is definitely a hot button topic in the knitting world right now!

As the all articles say, we knitters have known this for a long time.  I remember several years ago I was involved in a trial at work and it was a crazy stressful few weeks.  When I came home I would sit in my chair and I knit a yoga mat bag, and I finished it – an entire yoga mat bag!!!  It was brilliant because all I had to do was knit in a circle.  No pattern, no thinking, not even any purling, and think about it – a yoga mat bag has to be pretty long.  It’s a beautiful bag – made out of Mission Falls cotton with random striping.  That whole incident led to one of my life mantras – sometimes all you can do is knit in a circle.  Simple advice – but when you do that you are making progress and that may be all you need.  Knitting in a circle is also very rhythmic so as you ravel together the yarn, the mind can unravel and de-stress.  On the flip side, there are days when my job is very, very boring and when I come home I need to make my mind think and work and those are days when I pull out a lace project or some other projects that requires attention and gets that brain working.

In the end, I’m not sure knitting is actually cheaper than therapy (I suppose that depends on your taste in yarn) but it certainly seems more productive.  Heck, at the end you have a finished object of some kind!  You can visually track your progress.  If you don’t want to, you don’t need to leave your house to do it.  And, one last bonus that I tell people about all the time – knitting and eating are incompatible activities which leads to less night time snacking.  There are nights where I just don’t want to break from knitting long enough to snack, plus, knitting burns calories, right????