April FO’s

I started off the month is a crazy, finishing frenzy and it was all downhill after that. So, first off the needles this month were my Arne & Carlos socks, which I love!!  I did plain vanilla socks with a fish lips kiss heel and a round toe.  Of course, the fish lips kiss heel is a pattern by the Sox Therapist.  I used the round toe which is included in Sock Architecture by Lara Neel.  It was my first time for both of these heels and toes.  I loved the heel but I did have a little issue with a weird bulge at the end of the heel so I’m guessing it’s something to do with my gauge but I’m just not sure.  I’m going to t keep experimenting. I loved the round toe as I despise the kitchner stitch.

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Next I finished the Girlfriend Cowls by Churchmouse Yarns.  I cast this on right after the US Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage was announced.  Someone on Instagram had started a rainbow-along.  I had this yarn in my stash – it’s America the Beautiful by Destination Yarns so on the needles it went!  The patterns is pretty simple and really did some fun things with this yarn.  I loved how, once I started knitting, it became apparent that as the skein went from primarily reds/yellows to blues/greens.  Sadly, even though it’s April, I’ve worn it quite a bit😦

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The last FO of the month was a quick little test knit I did for Kino Knits.  She happened to e-mail on a snowy Saturday so I cast it right on.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry which is so awesome.  I had some troubles with Judy’s Magic cast on as I had never done that one before but otherwise it was a super quick knit.  Mary has written it so you can use any yarn you have.  She did hers in sock yarn and I used a worsted weight.  It’s called Rybka (Wee Fishie) and if you are looking for a quick gift knit definitely check it out!

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Confession – I knit the fish on April 9th and have finished nothing since😦  Lots of fun stuff on the needles so here’s hoping I have something to talk about at the end of May!

The Ugly Side of Knitting

Well, I really did it this week – I had a terrible flare up of my wrist tendinitis (self diagnosed, thanks WebMD)  This has caused me to think about knitting injuries, which are real things, although only your knitting friends will believe and support you through one. So, here are some thoughts I’ve had as I take some time to recover.

Knitting Injuries are Self-Induced

At least all of mine have been.  I’ve had three more serious knitting injuries.  This time with my left wrist and it was totally caused by my trying to turn a heel on a sock with tiny circulars and 6-ply sock yarn.  Let’s just say that even as I was plowing through I knew I would end up regretting it.  In this case, I kept going so I would be motivated to pick up the sock again in this lifetime because I’m loving the sock so much.  I’ve had bad wrists all my life so it doesn’t take much to push them over the edge.

In December I sat for 2 straight hours hunched up trying to finish my Ice River Snood because I was so in love with it that I just wanted it off the needles. I ended up with a very sore neck for a few days after that bad decision (but my cowl was fabulous!)  My other injury was a bit of thumb tendinitis that was caused by too much knitting on too big needles with bulky yarn.  Anyone else see a theme here – we knitters really want to get our projects off the needles and into the world but in the process we may sacrifice our ability to knit.

Ways to Prevent

Let’s start with the obvious – when it starts to hurt put it down!!  But, I will also contend that this is a good argument for polygamous knitting.  In my case some of the strain was caused by the particular needle and yarn size so having multiple projects utilizing different yarns and needles can help you strain less with that one particular project.  The next time someone gives you grief about all those UFO’s – tell them you are working on preventing knitting injuries!  And, the other obvious thing is to get up.  I try to remind myself to get up either between tv shows or during hockey intermissions which are good set times to get up and just walk around the house or get a drink.

I also did a little research and found this article by Pam Allen and my friend, Shannon Okey, Ten Hand and Shoulder Exercises for Knitters and they know their stuff so I might give these a try soon!

What to Do

If you are a self diagnoser like myself you will read that the number one thing to do with these repetitive strain injuries is to rest.  But, for real???  I’ve got knitting that needs to be done.  As I was bemoaning my fate on Instagram Missy from Missy’s Crafty Mess recommended IcyHot so I figured why not?  Usually, I will apply a regular ice pack so I would be more mobile using the IcyHot.  I stopped and picked some up on my way home from work.  I was a bit terrified of accidentally getting some near my eye but all went well and I believe it is some sort of miracle cure.  It’s kind of a weird feeling but it took away the pain.  Now, the bad thing about this is that I kind of thought I could then pick up my knitting but my mother kindly reminded me that the IcyHot was just covering up the pain and everything was still flared up under the surface.  Besides, rest and IcyHot, I’m also a big fan of braces.  I have one for the thumb when it acts up and one for my wrist so I don’t twist and turn it weird ways during the day.

While that’s all well and good for treatment, what exactly is one to do while waiting for all these things to work?  Here’s a list I put together:

  1. Plan more knitting: This seems like a logical choice.  Work on your Ravely lists and check out all the new things you want to knit.  I took some time to plan to join in on Wool Diaries #BlanketMadness which is happening April 24 – April 30.  I have a long lingering Barn Raising Quilt so I thought this would be a fun way to add some squares to it.  I dragged out the bag and counted and photographed what I have some I’m ready to go on the 24th!  Check her out on IG for more info!20160413_203741
  2. Do another craft: Perhaps one that is a little less taxing on whatever part you have strained.  I picked up a cross stitch kit that I bought from Hoop and Needle at Midwest Craft Con.  I cross stitched years ago but have not picked up for a long time.  It’s so fun!  I’m loving it and even took it to knit night so I would have something to keep me busy.20160414_125829
  3. Color: Who isn’t into adult coloring???  I have the Mason-Dixon coloring book which is super fun and I think I saw that Franklin Habit has one out now too which I would love!  Of course, if your strained part is your coloring hand this might not be the best idea😦20160216_190821
  4. Do other chores: who I am kidding??  This is just a silly thought:)  I don’t even have a picture for this one:)

I have not knit a stitch since I turned the evil heel on Tuesday night and it’s now Saturday morning and the wrist is feeling pretty good.  I’ve got KAL to catch up on and I need to finish the heel on the sock (I will be moving the heel stitches to dpns, which is what I should have done from the start) and I’m excited about #BlanketMadness starting in a couple of weeks so we’ll see!

 

What’s on My Needles This Weekend

On the good news front – I finally finished the socks (more on those in this month’s FO post) I had been working on since July which opened up my sock needles/bag.  Oddly, I’m really starting to use up my sock yarn (not really, but sock yarn that I want to be socks is getting low) and I was trying to decide what socks to cast on next.  I went into my yarn room and this sock yarn that I bought on clearance at my LYS last year jumped out at me.

Now, I have many sock issues which I will detail in a future post.  For my next pair I decided to do a little reading of my Sock Architecture book and hope it would help correct those issues. The yarn I chose is Indulgence 6-Ply by Knitting Fever which has been (very sadly) discontinued.  A few of us bought skeins when they migrated over to the clearance area and two of my friends made baby sweaters (the Sprinkle from Juju’s Loops which is adorable!) It’s a heavier, DK, yarn as compared to usual fingering weight sock yarn.  That made it the perfect choice because I wanted to try using 9 inch circulars.  And, the 9 inch circs that I have are size 2.  I usually knit my socks on 1’s and with the DK weight would have needed to use a larger size anyway.

I settled on the Arithmophobia socks from Sock Architecture which uses a short row heel with no stitches to pick up (I hate picking up stitches).  I’ve heard mixed reviews on the 9 inch circs so I was anxious to dive in.  Casting on is a bit of a pain because there is not much to hold on to and the first couple of rows are a little difficult but after that the sock practically knits itself!!!  A couple of people at knit night said they do not like them because they lack the dexterity to manipulate the tiny needles and you do need to be able to work the tiny needles.  I love circular needles but hate magic loop because I can’t deal with all that cable so this is really the perfect solution for me.  I’ve never knit socks as fast as these are knitting up.  Of course, it probably helps the yarn is a bit thicker too but I don’t care because I love these socks so much and I can’t wait to wear them!

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What’s on my podcast playlist this weekend, you ask???  Well, I saw on Instagram that Vickie Howell had started a new podcast and she released three episodes last week.  They are all interviews and they include Rachael Herron (whose book I had just read a few weeks ago), Clara Parks (who has been on numerous podcasts but this interview is completely different) and the CEO of Spoonflower which was also very interesting.  She’s going to be releasing new episodes every Tuesday for six weeks so check that one out!

Another new one that I’ve been enjoying is Cultivate and Create.  It’s hosted by Sarah, or Mrs. Shoo and I love her format.  The episodes are usually about 20-30 minutes and she talks about something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read so it’s a lot of fun in a short time.  She’s on Episode 10 so it’s easy to catch up with her, especially if you want to some good book recommendations to go with your knitting.

I always feel badly that I don’t use iTunes because apparently Apple really wants pressures prodcasters to get reviews to increase their visibility.  I have all Android and Windows products here so I figure I can at least give them a shout out here!  Check them out and if you use iTunes leave them a review from me!

Pom Poms

Me and pom poms are not friends.  I’m not sure where our relationship hit the skids because I remember doing pom pom crafts with the girls I babysit and don’t remember having issues but sometime between then and now we seem to have had a falling out.

For the most part this is not an issue as I just don’t use them.  But, I talked about the Bunny Nuggets I made for my goddaughters last week and all bunnies require a pom pom tail, right???

My problem was twofold – my pom poms kept falling apart and were way too big for my tiny bunny nuggets.  When I first started, I had two pom pom makers – the traditional circle one and another one that I can’t figure out how to use.  I was out at the big box craft store and picked up the Clover pom pom maker (of the makers it is definitely my favorite).

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I don’t enjoy the circle version because I never know how much yarn to cut off and I don’t like pulling it in and out.  The purple one I have no idea how to use and the directions have disappeared.  I loved the Clover one but the resulting pom pom was still too big.

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When the makers were failing me I decided to do a little online research and came up with some interesting techniques.  I found instructions on using toilet paper rolls, forks and a yarn winder.  All of those seemed like good ideas but none would make one small enough for my tiny bunnies.  I also found instructions for using your fingers – brilliant!  I tried two fingers and then just my pinky finger and all were still too big.

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Two fingers

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Pinky

Based on the research results I came up with my own idea and I thought it was brilliant!  I used 2 size 2 dpns and wrapped the yarn around those and then slid the tying piece of yarn between the two needles to secure the pom pom.  It seemed work.20160320_131134

It was really hard to cut the ends (and I was not at home with my really sharp scissors which might have helped).  I thought they turned out pretty cute.

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But by the time I got them home and went to sew them on, they were starting to fall apart so I scrapped them and ended up using store bought pom poms I had in my craft stash.

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The funny thing about this whole saga is just days before I decided to make these bunnies Arne & Carlos released a video on how to make pom poms and I thought – everyone knows how to make pom poms, what a strange tutorial.  The video is super entertaining but lesson learned – pom poms are harder to perfect than they appear!  So, if you have any great ideas about making awesome pom poms I would love to hear them!

All the (tiny) FO’s

I have lots of FO’s this month, and they are all really tiny, and none of them were WIPs but that’s what April is for right???

Let’s start with my Easter knits.  A couple of weeks ago as I was scrolling through Instagram I saw these super cute little bunnies.  They were posted by Dyed in the Wool and I knew I had to cast them on immediately!  My goddaughters are 12 and at that lovely tween stage but I think these bunnies are cute and will make cute decorations for their room.  The pattern is Bunny Nuggets by Rebecca Danger and is a free pattern!  You can use whatever yarn you have and that affect the size of the finished bunny.  I used leftover sock yarn – one in Lollipop Pink Rainbow and the other in Julianna’s Fibre in I Smell Snow.

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The girls have two brothers and I did not think they would enjoy brightly colored bunnies so I found this other free pattern by Rebecca Danger for Monster Chunks and knit up a couple of monsters for the boys.

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And then I got the brilliant idea to stuff them in plastic eggs to add to the egg hunt the kids do on Easter morning and they are pretty stinking cute!

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My other tiny FO’s are little ornaments I’ve been playing around with.  I’m hoping to update my Frekol shop with a bunch of these ornaments.  I wanted to make them in team colors and I found this yarn on the Aloha Blu Etsy shop.  And it is the Columbus Blue Jackets colorway but also doubles for the local Cleveland Indians with the blue and red.  I have to say that Christina was lovely to deal with and she has so many amazing colorways in her shop.  She was also happy to dye me up some Ohio State yarn that I saw on her blog but was no longer in the shop.  I haven’t dug into that skein yet but I love how these are turning out.  I’ve kind mashed together a bunch of patterns for tiny accessories to get these FO’s.  I also love that they take about an hour so I get at least 2 done a week as I work on them during my 1/2 break at work.

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I’m still toying with the sock as I would like it to be a bit more stocking like and a little less sock like so we’ll see.  I’m thrilled with the little mittens and I might tinker some more with the hat.  I will also be adding a scarf and perhaps a little sweater.

So, if you’re counting, that’s 8 FO’s and might be a record but really between all 8 probably not even a hat’s worth of knitting:)  I’m off to celebrate Easter with my bunny and monster filled eggs – hope everyone has a great weekend!

The Maker’s Year

One of my favorite podcasts is A Playful Day.  It was on a brief hiatus and recently relaunched a new format.  Kate (the lovely host)  has organized various online events in the past that I’ve taken part in, including Love Your Blog week last year.  This year she is focusing on the Maker’s Year.  You can read more about it on her blog and she talks about it on the podcast.  You can also check out the hashtag #themakersyear on Instagram where people have been tagging pictures of their making.  Through this focus, Kate is exploring all the different ways we make and celebrating both the making and the differences in the way we all make.

The question she posed on her podcast is “What does making mean to you?”  She has invited her listeners and readers to blog and post their answers.  It’s such a hard question because I can’t imagine not making.

I’ve been crafting for as long as I can remember.  My grandma crocheted and loved to craft.  When I was little I spent a lot of time at her house.  She tried to teach me crochet but it never stuck.  We would bake, dye Easter eggs, make felt Christmas ornaments and work on other little projects.  I’m sure this sparked my interest in crafting and baking.  My mom was always working on a craft.  She did needlepoint and latch hook rugs and made a lot of wreaths.

I was a Girl Scout until I was in 9th grade.  One of my favorite things was the Winter Jamboree, which was essentially craft camp.  We could sign up for all different craft sessions.  That’s where I learned counted cross stitch and tried a bunch of other crafts, including etching and something called tole painting (not my best craft).  I cross stitched for a long time.  I picked up scrapbooking and card making.  Nothing has ever stuck the way knitting has but all were fun.  I still enjoy making scrapbooks with my travel photos.

Perhaps because we always did crafts when my grandma watched me, I shared crafts with the kids I babysat.  There were 4 of them and 1 of me so it was best to keep them busy, otherwise trouble was not far behind.  Their mom did not craft and so it became our thing.  It got to the point where I would not even get into the house before they were asking what “cwaft” (one had a bit of a lisp when she was little) I had brought with me.  I know I created lasting memories for them.  Even the boys crafted long past the age where they would normally be interested in such things.

I do not have kids of my own but sitting down and doing a craft with them allows you to connect with them in a way that no other activity does.  I have other friends who do not have kids and they often ask how they can form bonds with the kids in their life.  I tell them to craft!  It does not matter if you can or not, you are the adult and they love the attention that crafting provides.  My only craft rule is to have fun!  I try to direct as little as possible and to encourage them to show their own creativity and make a mess!  Everything can be cleaned up.  I find when kids are allowed unstructured time to create they flourish (and, their parents really appreciate it too:) ).

Case in point – I spend New Year’s Eve with a friend and her family.  They have a 4 year old and an 8 year old and they struggle to stay awake until midnight.  This year I thought “let’s do a craft”.  We made wish wands for the new year and they involved a lot of glitter!!  Fast forward to last week.  I was going to watch the girls for a couple of hours and when my friend told them who was coming over the four year old immediately asked what craft I was bringing.  For the record, we made loom potholders which were put to good use:)

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Making is a way to create memories.  Making is a language that allows me to connect with others.  My knitting friends (both in person and on line), my friend’s kids, and my family. Being an introvert (INFJ, which is less than 1% of the population, thank you!) having this secret language is really helpful.

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My goddaughters hard at work on rainbow loom bracelets!

And, the thing I really love about what Kate is doing – she is celebrating the differences.  I do not consider myself overly creative or artistic.  Most of my crafting skills are so-so (except for knitting, I guess I’m good at that) but that’s not why I craft.  I’m never going to have those perfectly set Instagram shots on my feed.  My feed is messy, in the moment and what I’m actually doing because that’s how I roll.  In that end, that’s what making is – it’s being messy, trying new things and just letting things go.  And, for us Type A people that’s probably more valuable than therapy!

So, as you are knitting away this weekend, think about what making means to you and then share it with Kate and your fellow knitters!

What’s (not) on My Needles This Weekend?

I had another post prepared for today but last night I did something I’ve never done before – I frogged an entire project.  I felt compelled to share what all went wrong.

This was a test knit I was doing for Jessie of Yarn Over New York.  I had seen pictures of the poncho she designed on Instagram so when she put out a call for test knitters I signed up! She used Noro for her poncho and it looks amazing (check out her page!) and I have a ton of laceweight Noro that I got on sale in a buying frenzy many years ago that I thought I would use (stash busting!).  The pattern calls for fingering weight so I planned on holding two strands together but then got worried the colors would get muddied due to the way Noro is dyed and rejected using the Noro.

So, despite my yarn diet I decided to order some yarn I had seen on Instagram and fell in love with (yes, the moral of this story is that Instagram is evil:) ).  The yarn is from Julianna’s Fibre on Etsy and is her Lucid Dream Sock Yarn in I Smell Snow.  I love it and it is completely outside of my usual color box.

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I happily cast on and started knitting. Before I go further I have to say that I love the pattern and it’s a really fun knit with a lot of garter stitch and some really fun construction so I definitely recommend the pattern to everyone when it comes out.  Everything from here on out is on me.  The poncho is built in tiers so there is some connecting of stitches which you need to be careful not to twist.  Ugh!  Yep, twisted those stitches.  I didn’t want to undo everything I had done so I made up my own version of a steek.  I did a little crochet and then cut my stitches and flipped the piece that was attached wrong.  It seemed to be holding but what I didn’t like was all that blue.  The yarn does some striping if knit into socks or other smaller projects.  With the long rows I was knitting there was some stripe but not much so it was a lot.

At this point, I decided to add in another yarn.  I picked up a skein of Hedgehog Fibers Boombox at my LYS and powered on.  But it still wasn’t working so I decided to start over.  I used a new skein of my I Smell Snow and added in two contrast colors so that I would manually be striping it.

Last night I realized two things – 1. I was never going to finish knitting it by the deadline and 2. I was halfway through my yarn and not even close to halfway done knitting.  That’s when I frogged.  Also, I was hating the way it was knitting up and I was seeing all the other ones that other testers knit and I loved theirs.  I had chosen the wrong yarn for this project.  It really calls for something that has long color changes like the Noro or Chroma from KnitPicks would be good too.  The color blocking I was doing was not really working and was looking a little more patchwork than I liked, especially for a poncho.

I’m very much looking forward to the socks I will knit with my I Smell Snow (and, in fact, they will be the next pair cast on).  And, with all this knitting and frogging the yarn held up really well so that’s a big plus!  Sadly, I need to enter all this yarn to my Yarn In/Yarn Out list.  The good news was my McGyver steek held up and made it challenging to frog. Here is the last picture of my test knit before frogging and after frogging.

I have apologized profusely to Jessie (and, just to be fair, offered to pay for the pattern).  I still intend to knit one of these but not until I find the right yarn.  Lesson learned!