Well Loved Blankets

This week as I was working away I got my e-mail that Danie at One Twisted Tree had posted a new blog post.  (Side note: I think I was listening to her podcast at the time I got the e-mail.  The Prairie Girls Knit and Spin podcast is one of my favorites!  I had heard it mentioned on some other podcasts I listened to but thought that prairie girls might not be my thing.  When my job changed and I had more time to listen to podcasts I decided to give them a try and loved them!!  I then went back and started listening from the start!)  Anyway, back to this post, I needed a short break so I read her post and just loved it.  I wanted to post a reply but decided to just write my own post.

You can read Danie’s post here (and, while you’re there check out her yarn – Disco Lemonade is calling my name!).  In it she talks about two crocheted blankets that her daughters love and have had since they were babies.  I immediately thought of the crocheted blanket that was in my blanket basket at home, a blanket I had just used on Monday.  It was crocheted by my grandma and we had two of them when I was growing up.  Both made out of very standard 70’s colored acrylic yarn.  A few years ago my mom gave me the green/yellow/white one.  I think the other one is still at her house and it is various yellows and white.  They have held up so well and have not required any repair, to my knowledge.  These were the blankets we used all the time at home and I remember huddling under them on the few sick days my mother let us take.  Which, is why, it was no surprise that when I came home sick from work on Monday I picked that blanket from the pile to cover up with (yes, it was 85 degrees but when you’re sick you always need a blanket)

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I often think of how my grandma and great aunt tried to teach me to crochet but it just never took (still doesn’t take, I really need 2 needles).  I did not start knitting until after my grandma had passed but my great aunt was still around and she would always marvel over my knitting, even the early knitting.  She always thought knitting was prettier than crochet and that’s a debate that cannot be solved in one blog post but she did appreciate the handiwork.

I also have to think about how so many of us knitters (myself included) can be yarn snobs.  We talk about our alpaca and covet qiviut but in the end, it makes little difference what the item was knit from.  My blanket and the blankets in Danie’s post were all made from acrylic and it made no difference to her girls or to me that they were not made from 100% hand dyed baby alpaca (not that I’m going to stop buying 100% hand dyed baby alpaca) which is definitely something to keep in mind.

I like to hope that crafting can slowly change this crazy world, but while that’s happening, I know for sure that crafting makes it a more gentle place to live in while we wait, and knit.

#The100DayProject

I’ve hinted over the past few months about my participation in the 100 Day Project.  It was something I saw on Instagram way back in April and decided what the heck??  There were only 3 rules – pick an action, do the action each day for 100 days, share the action on Instagram each day with the tag #the100dayproject and a hashtag chosen just for your project (mine was #100daysofsockknitting).  When I thought about joining in, knitting was the obvious choice but I felt I needed to be more specific and I knew I had two different socks on the needles that needed to get done and a backlog of sock yarn waiting to be socks so I went with sock knitting.

Here are a few reflections on the project.

1. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish if you do just a little bit each day.  I have to say there were probably only 3-4 days during the 100 where I did not knit at least one row on whatever sock I was working on at the time.  In all, I knit 6 socks which was completing two socks who had mates waiting and two new pairs.

2. It gets really hard to take interesting pictures of socks for 100 days in a row.  I’m sure my followers on Instagram will be thrilled to see something besides socks in my feed.  On the hand, it’s kind of fun to look at my feed and see how the socks grew.  It’s like people – we don’t always see them grow but look back at the pictures and there they were growing the whole time.

3. There were days when I really wanted to work on other projects but I made myself do a least a couple of rows and post the photo and that’s really how the progress happened.  Socks can get a little boring after some time (which, again, the pictures show as the last pair of socks is the shortest)

4. Searching the #The100DayProject on Instagram will provide so many different projects and expressions of creativity – it’s amazing what people do out there!

Here’s the results:

I’m a bit perplexed now that it’s over.  I need a break from socks (and I have a lot of commissioned projects to work on) but I will also be doing some traveling in the next few weeks and I usually like to have a pair of socks to take along so I might need to find a replacement travel project, perhaps my long suffering Barn Raising Quilt squares will get a few more added to the ranks!

July’s Yarn

Yarn club is quickly coming to an end – one more month!  This month’s yarn was inspired by The Flats area of Cleveland.  The colorway is spectacular and it’s superwash merino.  I feel like I say this every month but I really love this one!

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The purple in this one is making me drool!!  And, I had some nice sunlight this morning so it actually photographed well.  I like the palette Rachel chose this month.  The Flats has always has a certain grittiness to it, being right down along the river so the blues and purples really convey that.

Now, a little about the Flats.  Back in my day, it was the place to see and be seen and I had many a fun night.  The Flats, like our city, are divided into the West Bank and the East Bank and the area runs right along the Cuyahoga River.  In the 90’s both sides were lined with restaurants and night clubs.  The West Bank is the home of an old powerhouse that was converted to an entertainment center.  It has a special events space and had a comedy club, brew pub and a few bars in it.  I remember celebrating a new year’s eve there shortly after I turned 21 which was a lot of fun.  I met a boyfriend at the brew pub and went to more than one bachelorette party at the dueling pianos bar.  The East Bank was almost all bars, although it also had two music venues where you they had concerts.  I started hanging with a crew in the mid 90’s and our favorite hang out was Have a Nice Day Cafe.  It was an 80’s themed club that served drinks in fishbowls.  The drinks were some sort of Kool-Aid plus random alcohol and came with a bunch of straws.  They had a small patio out back that overlooked the river and it’s no small miracle that no one ever fell.  I still have a fishbowl and it makes a great place to throw spare change (with a few wooly decorations)

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As Y2K approached the entertainment district in downtown Cleveland moved up the hill and the new hot spot was West 6th (and, now it’s E. 4th – just keeps moving down the road!).  Places started going out of business and crime rose in those that were left.  All of a sudden, no one went the Flats.  And, in my life, people got married and had kids and we just didn’t go out.  Fishbowls were reminders of days gone by.

The good news is that in the last few years the Flats, like Cleveland, has been undergoing a revival.  The Powerhouse is now home to an aquarium which is kind of small but filled with character as they left a lot of the brick walls exposed and there is a walk through shark exhibit.  A few music venues have opened (or reopened) and there are apartments.  The river area has exploded and there is a bike share, a place to launch kayaks, a pretty active crew scene and a great new place on the river to eat called Merwin’s.  You can watch the barges navigate the very crooked Cuyahoga and enjoy some great food and drink.  I’ve taken several friends there since my first visit and everyone has loved it!  It’s great to see the resurgence – you won’t get better views of the city then from down in the Flats.  The skyline just towers above you and watching the traffic on the river heading out onto our great lake is pretty darn cool!

There was a clue for next month’s neighborhood and I think I know what it is so we’ll have to wait and see.  In the meantime, I’m going to play with the 11 I have and see what kind of layout I want for my Cleveland project.  I’ll try to have an update next month!!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend (Rainbow edition)

Well, it’s Independence Day here in the US and I would say a good majority us feel like we have extra cause to celebrate this year with last week’s Supreme Court ruling bringing us into modern times as it relates to marriage issues.  Last Friday was truly amazing.  If you checked Ravelry you would’ve seen in the Hot Now patterns a ton of rainbow themed projects.  Instagram was awash with pictures of rainbow dyed yarn and indie dyers offering discounts on their version of rainbow yarn or dying a special colorway to mark the occasion.  The Knit Girllls started a #lovewins knit-along and if you check out the hashtag #lovewinskal you will find some super colorful projects.  I was not immune to the “must cast on rainbow project” frenzy, especially since I have always had a certain love of rainbow dyed yarns so lucky me I had a couple of choices when I got home that night.

I went with my America the Beautiful colorway dyed by Destination Yarns (you can her on Etsy here).  She is local to my area and I could not think of a better name for this rainbow colorway.  I then headed over to Ravelry and checked for patterns requiring 200 yards of DK weight yarn and came up with the Girlfriends Cowl by Churchmouse Yarn.  I figure you can never go wrong with a Churchmouse pattern.  So far, I’m loving it!

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So, if you’re here in the US – I hope you are enjoying this long holiday weekend.  And, a belated Happy Canada Day to my friends up North!  Now, back to that rainbow yarn :)

June’s FO’s

Ah, end of the month, time to figure show off this month’s finished objects (yes, plural, again!).  There’s been a lot of change going in my life as of late and I believe that has crept its way into my knitting, or more specifically, my knitting time.  Starting to get back in the groove so that’s a good thing.

It must have been end of April or the start of May when the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl swept through my knitting group.  The pattern is by Joji Locatelli and I love a ton of her patterns.  The photos for this particular pattern, along with the yarn colors from Miss Babs really make you want to cast one on immediately.  I took a peek at the kits Miss Babs had done and they were just a little out of my price range so I favorited the pattern and moved on.  Shortly after that, C from my knitting group was checking out the new Malabrigo Silkpaca and thought it would be perfect for the cowl.  After we all checked out the pattern we all decided to make one.  It was a new shipment and my LYS had a great selection of colors and there was something for everyone.  I think only two of us have finished so far and we love them!!!  I entered mine in the Fluffy Fibers gentlealong in which she encouraged us to knit (or craft) something that would help us be gentle to ourselves.  What a lovely idea!  And knitting with a silk/alpaca blend in these fun colors really did allow me to be gentle to myself.  The pattern was super fun and went so much faster than I anticipated considering it was knit on a size 3 needle.  The different sections keep your interest and, let’s face, you’re just knitting to get to the pop color when you start!  I did not enjoy the lace section.  I’m not much of a lace knitter and there was a weird stitch in it that really did make me happy.  I will admit that I omitted one repeat of the lace of section but I think it still turned out okay!

Pattern: 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locateli Yarn: Malabrigo Silkpaca (Sapphire Green, Violetas, Purple Mystery)

Pattern: 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locateli
Yarn: Malabrigo Silkpaca (Sapphire Green, Violetas, Purple Mystery)

The photo on the left is before a bit of light blocking.  I was not going to block but C. told me she had just done some light blocking and it helped a lot.  I think the blocking did make a difference.  I used the steam setting on my iron and dampened the cowl and held the iron above it while stretching it a bit.  I’ve already used it at work to keep my neck warm because there is a fan that blows directly on me right now.

The next FO is the infamous pair of socks that was subject of last week’s post.  I have to say that with as many problems as I had with that second sock, it was by far my best effort at kitchner stitch ever.  I was shocked!  But, I love the socks and can’t wait to wear them when fall rolls around!

Pattern: Fruit Stripe Gum Socks by Leah Oakley Yarn: Fab Funky Fibers Self Striping in Pink Rainbow

Pattern: Fruit Stripe Gum Socks by Leah Oakley
Yarn: Fab Funky Fibers Self Striping in Pink Rainbow

I had to get a close up of the killer kitchner I did on that toe!!  As I was checking out the picture of the finished socks, I think I realized what my stripe issue was – I think I used a different number of stitches on the second sock.  You can see the sock on my right leg it a bit more stretched out.  I have a feeling I played with the number of stitches on the leg and did not bother to write it down.  That will teach me a lesson (hopefully!)

What’s on My Needles This Weekend?

Or the better title for this week’s post – let’s talk about this sock!

Yarn - Pink Rainbow by Fab Funky Fibers Pattern - Fruit Stripe Gum by Leah Oakley

Yarn – Pink Rainbow by Fab Funky Fibers
Pattern – Fruit Stripe Gum by Leah Oakley

I’ve mentioned the #100dayproject that I’ve joined in on over on Instagram and my thing is sock knitting.  I knit four socks in the first 50 days and I’ve yet to complete one in the following 25.  Part of the explanation is just a lot going on right now which has cut into my knitting time.  But, and this is bigger part, this second sock is going to be the death of me!!!!!!

Oh, it looks all pretty and innocent in that picture but no, it’s the devil in disguise!  For whatever reason, this one just has not gone smoothly.  It started out on the first few rounds of the pattern which did not work out and I could not figure out why.  I finally got in the groove and was working my way down to the heel.  I don’t always try to match my socks but these just seemed to want to match so I made sure to start this sock at the same place.  What I particularly had loved was that my leg length equaled one repeat of each rainbow color.  I was coming on the purple which is the last color and I thought the sock looked short so I compared it to the finished one and this is what I found:

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Yep, those are two very different socks!  What the heck???  I knit these on the same needles with the same yarn and my tension never varies so what happened???  Now my heels don’t match which makes me very sad.

As if this was not enough trauma for one sock, I decided to knit before breakfast.  I’m thinking of coming up with a list of cardinal knitting rules and I believe one will be “never knit before breakfast”.  I was up early on Saturday and excited to head to Estes Park Wool Market and thought, “oh I can get some work done on this heel”  Right, here’s what transpired:

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Clearly, I can’t read, had to pull out the stitches and, boy, they did not want to go back on that needle.  I’ve made it past the heel and am working on the home stretch.  Fingers crossed the rest of the foot and the toe go smoothly.  I’m a bit nervous for what type of disaster awaits me when I kitchner the toe but I’ll cross that bridge later.  First, I have to hope that the stripes on the foot match the first sock (because, yes, I did fix the stripe matching issue when I started the foot…)

Colorado Getaway

My cousins have lived in the Denver area for as long as I can remember which means when I was young there were long car rides to go visit them and as I got older plane rides.  My first trip was the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade and my grandparents took me as they were going to my oldest cousins’ high school graduation.  During that trip my grandma took my cousin and I to Salt Lake City to visit her sister and her sister’s family.  These days I’ve pretty much seen and done all the touristy things in and around the area.  About a month ago I was listening to the Knitmore Girls podcast and they were doing an interview with Galina Khmeleva who mentioned the Estes Park Wool Market and a light bulb went off in my head.  I promptly checked the dates and texted my cousin (who is not a knitter) and asked if I could come for a visit and would she mind driving me up to Estes Park for the wool market (it’s about a 2 hour drive).  She’s such an awesome cousin that she said yes, come on out!!!

Once I got out there my other cousin decided to join us so the three of us set off early Saturday morning.  The problem with mountain towns is there is usually only one way up and when we hit dead stop traffic on that road we knew it was going to be a long drive.  Turned out the Ironman Boulder competition was going on and the bike portion was going through the road we needed to be on to get to Estes Park.  We finally lost all the bikers and headed up.  The entire area had been devastated by a flood in 2013 and the damage was still evident as we drove.  We made it up and it was sunny and beautiful and we were immediately greeted by these cute llamas!

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There were tons of animals – llamas, alpacas, angora rabbits, goats and sheep!  We also watched a sheep herding demonstration which very cool.

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And, of course, the entire building of vendors!  It was a great show on a terrific Colorado day!  If you’re interested in reading more about the show I’m doing an article for KniteEdge magazine and I will let everyone know when the issue hits the stands!

As often happens in Colorado the storm clouds started moving in as we were leaving in the late afternoon.  There was even hail which was not fun.  We decided to stop at the grocery store and pick up some snacks to eat in the car and head back to the city before the storms got worse.

On Sunday, I asked if we could go to the Denver Botanic Gardens as my cousin is always posting pictures from the garden and it looked amazing so off we headed.  Side note – during breakfast we debated whether it was “Botanic” or “Botanical” because in Cleveland, our garden is the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  A Google search ensued and we learned that the two words are interchangeable.  Botanical is more 21st century while botanic is more 20th century and has gradually been falling out of use.  But, back to the main attraction.  The Gardens are huge and in the middle of the city so really amazing.  While we were there they had an art exhibit going on called The Nature of Horses and throughout the gardens there were statues of horses made from cast bronze.  Not my thing but cool to keep an eye out for as we wandered the gardens.  My favorite part was definitely the water lily pond.  I could not get enough of the water lilies when I was at Monet’s garden in France and the same went for this trip.  To make them even more cool there were tons of dragonflies landing on them – we’re lucky I moved after that!

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The garden had two separate cafes and a very nice, but kind of crowded gift shop.  Once we finished there we headed over a couple of blocks for a visit to the Lamb Shoppe.  This was a super cute yarn store in my cousin’s neighborhood.  They serve coffee and tea and have an amazing selection of yarns.  It was bright, open and airy with yarn stacked high.  There was a big table in the front with people working on projects.  The woman working was very friendly and we chatted a bit about the wool market.  She mentioned an Interweave event that took place in April which she really enjoyed and recommended so you never know!  Here’s a picture of the shop and I will definitely be making a return visit.  If you are in the Denver area it’s definitely worth a stop.  The neighborhood has a great vibe and there is a restaurant, an ice cream place and Wild Flowers which is shop that sells flowers and other home goods.  After all that everyone was hungry and thirsty (with the altitude in Denver I’m always dry as a bone and it’s wise to always carry water) and the whole family enjoys Mexican food so that’s how we ended our day.  Nothing like a cold margarita and chips and salsa to end the day!