Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It grows ...

I have been pretty obsessed with the new Aurinko shawl I started after attending the Woodstock Fleece Festival. I can NOT put that Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn down!

I just started on part 2 ... such a fun and easy knit!

I'm taking it with me on a trip to Arizona, so hopefully some major progress will happen.

Never forget. Thank you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I don't know how so much time manages to pass between posts. It's nuts. Sorry about that.

A few weeks ago I attended a stitching retreat hosted by my LNS ... Thread & Eye.  As always it was a fun time with an informative class. I highly recommend these retreats, there is something special about a whole weekend spent doing something you love with a room full of people who love the same thing! So good for the soul.

I arrived later than usual because I had to attend my convocation ceremony earlier in the day. As I walked down the stairs I received a rousing round of applause (I blushed) and tons of congratulations from my friends. Another pretty special moment. My friend Martha had a sign taped to my chair:

What a nutter! It certainly got a good laugh out of me! I kept it on my chair all weekend and I just kept on grinning. 

During the evenings when we don't have class, I worked on some of the projects I brought with me. And I finally have a finish!

This is Welcome Sampler by Kincavel Krosses -- well, a truncated version. I started it as part of my Ultimate Crazy January Challenge (31 starts in 31 days) back in 2012. It needed to be done. This will one day hang on the wall of my office, when I get a professor job, that is.

There was lots of stitching, chatting, laughing, and finishing at this retreat (literally -- the class was about finishing ornaments). A good time was had by all.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Stitchers are the bestest kind of friends

It's so true ... stitchers (and knitters) are truly the very best kind of friends to have.

I've been sitting on this post for 2 weeks because I haven't wanted to share the loveliness and warm fuzzies. I wanted to keep them all to myself! But after a little bit of hogging the love, I just have to share the awesomeness.

Back story:

Over the past 3 years as my grad school friends finished up and graduated, I would stitch them something to mark the momentous occasion of finishing a PhD. A few people got designs that were specific to them (my friend Jordana, who loves all things white, got a big hardanger piece), but the majority got a personalized version of Metamorphosis by Ink Circles.

I carefully chose fabric and thread that would appeal to each recipient. And the design itself, well, it symbolized the journey and the change that occurs when you work on an all-consuming project for years. I stitched this 4 times! While I was sick of stitching the same pattern, there was love in every stitch. I was very proud of my friends.

Today's story:

I finally finished my PhD in August and good wishes were sent by all. A few weeks later and I was back in the thick of things at work and when friends suggested a stitch night ... I was ecstatic. It would be just what I needed. I arrived at stitchy night and saw all sorts of cars in the driveway. I'm usually the first one to arrive, but I guess I was late that day.

I walked into my friend's house, into the dining room and everyone yelled "SURPRISE!" Aww shucks ... my very first surprise party ever! Hugs and congratulations all around, and then they presented me with a card and gift. I opened the card and it was one of those musical ones, but this one just had cheers and applause! I had to laugh; it was perfect.

Then the gift -- the moment I saw it I had an idea of what it was, but I couldn't believe they'd done it. Metamorphosis in a gorgeous purple gradient (one of my most favourite colours). Each element was stitched by a different person and they'd had it beautifully framed for me. I cried. I was so touched and overwhelmed that my friends, knowing what that design meant to me, went to so much trouble (and secrecy) to make me something so beautiful and special. I felt so loved.

It is, without a doubt, one of my most treasured possessions, and it will one day grace the wall of my office when I become a university professor. For now, it'll hang on my wall at home and remind me how much I am loved.

I feel like today is the perfect time to share this because today I walk across the stage and receive my degree. I will be, finally and officially, a doctor. I can't thank my friends enough for being my cheering squad and support system. Love you all.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I Couldn't Help Myself

New yarn, it makes me do crazy things!! Like start a new shawl project ... a big one.

I just couldn't stop petting and fondling my new yarn from Red Sock Blue Sock Yarns in the Gotham colourway, so I caked it up ...

Picked a pattern that makes my crafty heart flutter: Aurinko. And started:

To say I'm enjoying knitting it is an understatement. I think about it at work constantly and it's all I want to do once I get home:

Sadly I can't devote as much time as I'd like to it, but it's still getting a lot of love right now!

It's soft and squishy, and so lovely!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Oh my ... a Fleece Festival

I attended my very first knitting related festival and oh boy was I in trouble! I got an early start and arrived at the Woodstock Fleece Festival just after it opened. There was already quite a crowd gathered and it got busier as the morning progressed.

I did well ... I managed to do an entire tour of the barn before I bought anything. I went back to the very first vendor I visited and scooped up some lovely, bright sock yarn by Stitch Please Yarns. This is their Amethyst Label in Supreme Sovereign.

Then I headed to the main building and did a tour of the outer ring of vendors (I was looking for a specific vendor). Huzzah! Found what I was looking for: Zigzag Stitches, who makes the nicest project bags ever! I bought several ... they are beautifully made, wonderfully lined with lots of thoughtful details.

After that, the yarn buying began in earnest:

Some super delicious sock yarn in Gotham by Red Sock Blue Sock Yarns. Love the little bits of deep purple.

A lovely skein from Folklore Yarns.

Finally added a skein of Malabrigo to my stash! This one is the Azules colour way.

I already have a skein of this gorgeous Manos del Uruguay Algeria yarn in my stash, but I added 2 more skeins so I can make something massive! (I don't know what yet, but I like having the option!)

I also picked up a lovely shawl pin from Cynthia Blanton Studio.

What a fun time! I think festivals are a dangerous place for me and my pocketbook, but the stash is loving the additions! Now that I have more project bags, I think I need to start more projects!

I also got to see some sheep and a baby alpaca at the festival! Awesomeness!

When I got home, there was a huge yarn hug with all my new pretties!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Yarn A Long

Thanks to my friend Caroline over at Off The Grid Needlearts inspiring me with her fabulous knitting and photos, I've decided to join in the Yarn A Long hosted by Ginny at Small Things.

While I was in school full-time for the past 7 years, I rarely did any fun reading because I had so much school-related (often dry and boring) reading to do. I'm one of those readers who tends to devour books in single marathon sessions and that is not conducive to getting essays written.

Now that I'm done school, I (kind of) have the time to slow down and read. I know I'm a little behind the times in my choice of books at the moment (Game of Thrones), but seeing them wrapped in plastic on my shelf waiting for me to be done school was a pretty good motivator. Over the summer I had a lot of free time while waiting for my PhD defense, so I read a lot (though I managed to avoid too many marathon sessions ... I'm getting too old for that!) and got through the first 4 books in less than 2 months.

I started working again at the end of August, and my reading time has dwindled considerably, but I'm still plugging along with Dance with Dragons!

I've just recently picked up this project again. It's the Vortex shawl knit in Knitpicks Stroll Tonal in Summer Blooms. This was my first in-the-round project and I'm not even halfway done, but loving every stitch. It's a wonderfully relaxing knit.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Unicorn Poop

Last May, while visiting friends in Indiana, my friend's 6-yr old son saw me knitting and asked me to knit him a scarf. It started off being a red scarf, but when we got to the the knitting store and he saw all the yarn and all the colours, he just couldn't decide. He wanted all the colours.

About 2 weeks ago I finally started on the scarf that I'd promised he'd have for Christmas:

 Addition of ball 2 (I'm only using one colour repeat from each ball):

There were four gigantic balls of yarn purchased for this project. The cacophany of colours emerging on the scarf made me comment that this is what unicorn poop would look like -- rainbows.

Still have purple and pink to finish from ball 2. Then just 2 more balls to go.

It's actually a great knit (despite being acrylic). The pattern is No-Purl Ribbed Scarf by Purl Soho. It's super simple, easy to memorize, very ribby and stretchy, and it's almost impossible to screw up! Whenever I mess up, I know within two stitches, so correcting my slip ups is a breeze! I love things that make it easy for me to not screw up. I like this pattern enough that I might knit it again someday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Nifty Trick

So I saw this somewhere on the internet (of course I didn't record where I saw it). I can't take credit for this idea, but I had to try it and share if it worked.

I always felt that yarn cakes are delicate things that would get tangled and dirty if handled too much (this might just be a me thing, not reality). Then I read about this trick where you protect yarn cakes by using the toe/foot of a pair of new nylons. I picked a nice pair of black ones (think more thick tights not sheer nylons).

It is a nice snug fit that keeps everything in place and can be handled, tossed in a bag, carried around, etc without much worry. I put in a brand spanking new cake and started knitting.

I loved it! The yarn was wonderfully protected and the outside of the cake didn't come loose and fall apart no matter how much I handled it. My only worry was if it would tangle and knot as it got smaller.

It did knot once or twice (which was way less frequently than I had expected), but the knots were pretty easy to resolve.

I will definitely be doing this more often!

Monday, September 21, 2015


Picked up my 9-month old sock today and put in a few rounds of ribbing.

String Theory Colorworks' Continuum (MCN) in Atom

If I keep this up, I might even start on sock #2 before the 1-year mark.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Who knew? No really, who knew that dishcloths could be so incredibly satisfying to knit?

This one took me about a week of barely knitting on it (it often came to work with me, but few lunch hours were spent with it) and suddenly it was done!

Sugar'n Cream in Fruit Punch

It's just a super simple stockinette square (CO 32 I think?) with a little garter border.

Absolutely mindless. Absolutely awesome.

A palette cleanser after a big project finish.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Permanent Stitchy Space

I think that one of the reasons I have barely stitched in the last year and a half is because it's such a pain to pull out all my stitchy stuff when my knitting is right beside me. I was often so tired I couldn't even reach to the side table to get that! I tend to like big projects, which means floor stand, light/magnifier, and lots of threads, needles, and patterns. So much stuff to get out and organize before I could even put a stitch in.

Now that school is finally finished, I have set up a permanent stitchy space again:

My dog Toka loves to steal my spot on the couch.

I have stitched more in the past 2 weeks than I have in the rest of 2015, I think. Even on the days I'm dead tired I can often bring myself to put in a few stitches at least. I'm starting to get excited by stitching again. I want to pull out some of my big, super complicated pieces and give them some love!

Before that happens though, I really want to finish Elizabeth by Mirabilia.

I still have a long way to go (that is a ridiculously big pink dress), but at least I am making progress on a more consistent basis. Woot!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Mighty Scare

This happened in mid-August:

In the days leading up to my PhD defense, there was much knitting being done. Partly I was trying to make a deadline so I could give the shawl to my advisor as a thank you gift, but mostly it was to give me something to focus on to manage my nerves. Apparently I didn't focus enough, because I ended up with a stray eyelet.

I was 4-5 rows past the mistake when I noticed it, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to fix it without ripping back that far. I took it in to my LYS and they tried to fix it, but once I was back home and looking at it, I wasn't satisfied with the fix.

So I did this:

I have never been so scared. I pulled my needles out and ripped back 4 rows. I had more than 250 live stitches just a hair's breadth away unravelling into the last eyelet section ... something I was sure I couldn't recover from if it happened. Without a care for direction, I carefully slipped every stitch back on my needle, holding my breath the entire time (which also helped me not throw up). It was nerve wracking.

I managed to pick them up without missing any, and the next row I knit was slow going as I had to reorient every stitch properly. But I did it!!! (I'm a pretty novice knitter, and this is probably the biggest fix I've ever had to do.)

I successfully defended my PhD, but did not get the shawl done in time. I'm working on the last 4-5 rows now and hope to have it done and blocked by the end of September.

Ardent by Janina Kallio
Hazel Knits Entice in Indigo

This has been a project of firsts ... first major lace project, first major error, first major fix, and first of my big projects almost done!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Yes, I Still Stitch

I have not yet managed to rekindle my stitchy mojo ... I reach for my knitting far more often than I reach for my stitching. However, on occasion, progress is made.

I've done a little bit of work on my counted canvas piece - Stitchin' Pretty Waffles by Pattie Bennett.

I think this will be the last round of squares I do on this project. The pattern calls for more, but I'm about done with it. It's a decent size and I do think it's very pretty. I just need a finish so I can move on. There has definitely not been enough finishes in my crafty life lately.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


I've always had a zillion projects on the go. I have WIPs and UFOs and a list of planned new starts that is longer than my arm. Somehow, finishes are a rarity.

Maybe I should be monogamous ...

Now I don't mean that I should be monogamous to one craft (that's just crazy talk!!), because I love cross stitching, English paper piecing, and knitting too much! I'd also love to crochet again, and learn how to quilt, and maybe start playing with dye. There are simply too many creative, crafty avenues to pursue.

But perhaps I should become more of a monogamist for each of my crafts; choose one of each type to focus on.

Over the last month I've worked on the blue Ardent shawl from the last post almost exclusively (with a few rows/rounds on the orange baby blanket and the pink pi shawl thrown in). I have seen massive progress. Not just from the start of the month to the end, but from day to day. I can SEE the change and it feels really good. I can see a finish in my future (a deadline does help with motivation).

I think I forgot how exciting a finish can be ...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Gift of Thanks

I am almost finished my PhD in Education. I defend in August and I wanted to knit something special for my supervisor as a thank you gift. I started the Ardent shawl using Hazel Knits Entice (MCN) in Indigo on June 16th, figuring 2 months was enough time to get it done.

It grew like crazy at first, as most asymmetrical shawls do, but then it started to get slower and slower. I did the math, and if I knit 3 rows a day I'd be done in plenty of time to block it before the defense.

Of course, I reached the end of pattern before I reached the end of my yarn. I also used smaller needles than called for (US 3) so the shawl was way smaller than I'd hoped (more like a hankerchief at this point).

So another repeat was added:

I know it'll grow a lot by blocking it, but I still am afraid it's too small. I have another skein of yarn, so I think I'll do a 2nd extra pattern repeat. Fingers crossed I finish it in time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pink Progress

Picked up the pink vortex shawl again. It's gotten boring to knit, mostly because it's so simple and straightforward. (And it's 384 stitches per round right now.)

The shawl is almost 20" across. Not even close to being done the first skein of yarn, so this project will be around for a while yet.