Swatches on My Wall

I have always had mixed feelings on swatches, especially when need one just to figure out my gauge.  They take time to work up, when what I really want to do is jump straight into the sweater-knitting.  And, they use up precious, precious, yarn that could be used in the aforementioned sweater.  And, of course, I hate waste, and there is nothing as wasteful as a dumb swatch sitting at the bottom of a bin in my craft room.  Nothing. (Don’t try to tell me about rainforest deforestation, or the overuse of paper towels, or the oil industry.  Swatches are more wasteful.)

Well, friends, that all changed a few weeks ago, when I was doing my bi-monthly rummage through my knitting supplies, and I realized I had acquired a sizable stash of some pretty cool swatches.

And I found some twine and clothespins.

I had no choice, really.  I had to make a swatch display on the back of a closet door.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACool, right?  I plan on adding more and more swatches as I collect them.  It’s really fun to see all of my ideas from the last six months laid out like that.  Some of the swatches are projects I designed (see Grandma’s Sweater and the Sailor Jane Scarf in there?).  Some are ideas that I ended up not using.  And some are simple gauge swatches that I used for projects I made from other peoples’ patterns (there’s one for my Persistence is Key Sweater).

I might come up with a more permanent way to display my knitting ideas (frames maybe, or embroidery hoops?), but for now, I love the flexibility that my little “clothes line” gives me.  I can add to it easily, move things around, and if I need to take a swatch down to look at some detail, I can do it, no problem.  I love having my knitted “idea book” up on my wall.

What do you do with swatches?  Do you keep them, or do you unravel them?

Finished!

Woo Hoo!  It’s time to do the happy dance and pose awkwardly in the back yard!  (Because (for some reason) holding a rake made me feel less weird than just standing and smiling at the camera.   I never said I was a good model.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the sweater looks great!  It fits really well, and it is nice and cozy!  The sleeves turned out a little long (which happens to me all the time when I knit.  I have trouble getting store-bought clothes with long enough sleeves, so I tend to overcompensate when I knit, and I end up with sleeves that would work on a giraffe), but they’re perfect for turned-up cuffs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, though I agree with you guys that silver buttons would have been better, I ended up going with some nice faux-horn ones.  The sweater has 13 buttons, and, well, they are expensive!  I didn’t want to spend more on buttons than on the yarn itself.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t plan on taking off this sweater for the next month, or until I spill coffee on it, whichever comes first.   (Probably the coffee.)

Pack-Rat

I (like a bunch of you, I’d guess) have a tendency toward pack-ratishness.  I think it’s pretty common, especially among crafty-types.  You know the impulse, I’m sure.  “Maybe I can use these berry containers for something in the future?”  “I can’t throw away these matchboxes.  They’d be great for a craft project some day.”  “Sure, there’s only about 5 yards left of this yarn, but it wouldn’t be right to get rid of it.”

Don’t deny it.  You know you do it, too.

But I just realized that I was keeping one thing that I’m even less likely to use than my other “treasures.”

Ball bands.

Dozens and dozens of ball bands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou know, the paper labels that come wrapped around balls of yarn?  For some reason, I always hesitate to throw them away, and then they end up cluttering up my knitting studio.  I always try to rationalize it to myself; they have lots of important information about the yarn (washing directions, colorways, etc) which makes me think I might need them in the future.  But, I don’t think I’ve ever actually referenced a ball band once I finished a project.

Is there any real reason I should throw these out?  Or am I just being a crazy pack-rat?  Help me!  Save me from myself!

Inspiration: Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

It’s almost Halloween!  My favorite holiday of the year.   (Sure, I say that about almost all holidays, but still!  You get to dress up in silly costumes, decorate your house with creepy-crawlies, and give candy to random strangers.  What’s not to love?)

If you (or your kids) are dressing up, you probably already have your costumes planned out.  (I’m being Harry Potter for Halloween…  after all, I have short, unruly hair, glasses, and a mysterious scar on my forehead (not really, but a girl can dream).  And it gives me an excuse to run around with a magic wand.)  But, if you’re still looking for some costume ideas, I’ve got a few super-cute knitting projects for you.

Maybe your kid is a sweetheart who can take care of herself in a fight?

To Grandma’s House by Melissa Schaschwary

cobo_medium2[1]Or maybe she is just a big cuddly teddy bear?

Baylie Bear Cowl by Heidi May

DSC_0177_medium2[1]Is she an beach enthusiast (who’s not super into being able to walk around)?

Mermaid Costume by Courtney Wiche

DSC_0090_medium2[1]Or, does she have her sights set on ruling the kingdom (or, rather, queendom)?

Circlet by Dani Sunshine

circlet_bug2_medium2[1]

Pattern: Hogwarts Scarves in a Weekend

Sometimes you need a little more magic in your life. Sometimes you need something to keep the chill away while reading your favorite teenage-wizard-themed novels. Sometimes you’re invited to a Harry Potter party, and you need a quick costume accessory.

This Hogwarts Scarf is just what the Medi-Wizard ordered. It’s crocheted at a huge gauge with extra-bulky yarn, so it works up in almost only a few hours. Feel free to make the scarves longer (or shorter) by adding more (or fewer) stripes.

So get out your magic wand (or crochet hook), and conjure up a scarf this weekend!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern for free here:

Hogwarts Scarves in a Weekend

Second Guesses, Sales, and Waiting- The Grandma’s Sweater Saga

You guys are totally right.  I needed to get a different shade of gray for my Grandma’s Sweater.  I’ve decided to go with Knit Picks’ Dove Gray Heather:

25615[1](Ooh! Aah!)

It’s a really pretty soft gray in a similar tone as Dogwood Heather (pink).  I think it’ll turn out really prettily.

So, having made my decision, I went to the Knit Picks website yesterday, filled up my cart and hit submit.  (I even managed to constrain myself to the single skein I needed, instead of buying fifty dollars’ worth of extra yarn to get the free shipping.  Don’t judge me.  You know you’ve done it.)

To make sure the order went through (because I’m paranoid like that), I clicked over to my email to see the confirmation email.

Sure enough, there was a message from Knit Picks.  In fact, there were two emails.  The first was my order confirmation.  The second was this ad:

Sale*Insert sad trumpet sound here*

Sure it would have been less than a dollar saved, but it’s the principle of the thing!  (And now, I kind of want to go order some more yarn to take advantage of the sale.  So much for self-control.)

Now, I have to sit here and play the waiting game.  I can’t really start knitting until I have the gray yarn in my knitting basket, so I’ll just sit by the window and harass the mailman until it arrives.

A Swatch Dilemma

I’ve been knitting away, and have swatched up my Biggo yarn for my Grandma’s Christmas Sweater.  And, well…

I am not pleased.

I give you Figure 1 (Gray Snowflakes with Pink Border):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEw!  No!  The contrast between the blue and gray is way to low.  All that work, and you can barely see the snowflake pattern.  (It looks even worse in real life…. ugh!)

I give you Figure 2 (Pink Snowflakes with Gray Border):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABetter, but not great.  I think the gray is just too low-contrast.

So, I have three options:

1.  Just deal with it.  Knit up the sweater as shown in Figure 2, and let it go.

2.  Forget about trying to use both gray and pink, and just make the sweater out of pink and blue yarn.

3.  Order more gray yarn from Knit Picks in a lighter shade.

I will sit here and sulk for a while, then, I suppose I’ll make a decision.  (At least I did the swatch first… That would have been so frustrating if I’d already started working on the sweater?  Ugh.)

Snack Time!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can work up an appetite with all my knitting.  After all, it’s practically exercise, right?  (Right?  Maybe?)  And, when you grab a snack to go with your knitting, you don’t want anything too gooey, or covered in cheese dust (getting Cheetos-powder out of merino is more trouble than it’s worth). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love a cup of tea and a plate of these amazing scones when I’m knitting (or doing just about anything else).  They’re slightly sweet, buttery, flaky and delicious.  They’re crunchy on the outside, and soft and tender on the inside.  I like to throw in a couple handfuls of raisins or blueberries.  They come together in about a half hour (from ingredients in the pantry to a plate of finished deliciousness).  And, the recipe is easy to halve if you have self-control issues (like me).  These scones are amazing right out of the oven, but they’re great warmed up in a toaster oven the next day, too.

Simple Sweet Scones

Yields: 12 or 16 small scones

2 1/2 C all purpose flower

1 Tbl baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick (8 Tbl) cold butter, cut up

1/4 C granulated sugar

2/3 C milk

Heat oven to 425 F.  Put flower, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl; stir to mix well.

Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until the mixture looks like fine granules.  Add sugar; toss to mix.

Add milk and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.  Form dough into a ball, put onto a lightly floured board and give 10-12 kneads.

To make triangular scones, cut dough in half.  Knead each half lightly into a ball and turn smooth side up.  Pat or roll into a 6-8 inch circle.  Cut each circle into 6 or 8 wedges.  Place wedges on an ungreased cookie sheet-slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft sides.

Bake about 12 minutes, or until medium brown on top.  Put a linen or cotton dish towel on a wire rack, cover loosely with the cloth and cool completely before serving (if you can wait that long).

Inspiration: Knitting in Fall

The temperature has finally settled in the low 60s, the mushrooms are sprouting on anything that stands still for more than a minute, and the fog has descended.  It is officially fall in Seattle.  I know that makes fall sound less than fun, but I absolutely love autumn in the Pacific Northwest (maybe I’m a masochist. You be the judge).  There’s something incredibly cozy and comfortable about getting up in the morning and putting on a flannel shirt or a fluffy sweater, drinking your cup of coffee and seeing nothing but gray mist outside your window.

(Interestingly, though, it’s almost impossible to take a good photo of fog.  So, instead of making you look at the crappy ones I took, I will steal one from the internet.  But, really, this is what my street has looked like every morning this week.  Except, my street has more houses.)b0a416d5ce158c4654afa438dc27868e[1]It makes me want to curl up with a mug of hot cider, Jazz music on the radio, a fire in the fireplace, and a knitting project that uses massively bulky yarn.

We could start small(ish) with a cowl so thick and cozy you could burrow into it and practically turn into a (very warm) tortoise.

The Gathering by Kalurah

DSC_2956_medium2[1]I can only imagine how quickly this gorgeous sweater would fly off the needles.  Do you think I could finish it by this evening?  It’s supposed to drop into the 50s tonight.

The Big Cable by Justyna Lorkowska

bigC3_medium2[1]Or I could just give up on any pretext of leaving the house for the next six months and hunker down under this (perfectly named) blanket.

A Blanket For Seriously Cold People by Sylvia Bo Bilvia

6443776281_f97d115886_z[1]All this talk of super-plush projects has gotten me in a very cozy mood.  There’s only one thing I can do now… I’m off to go put on as many scarves, sweaters and slippers as I can find, and bake myself a pumpkin pie.  Happy Fall, everyone!

Hobby Lobby

I usually avoid writing about political stuff on the blog for a couple reasons.

1.  This is a knitting blog, and knitting is inherently a-political.  It doesn’t matter if you are a democrat or republican, we still can commiserate about frogging a half-finished sweater.

2.  I’m a little shy about putting my opinions out in such a public forum.  I like all of you guys, and I’d rather not alienate you guys.

That being said, sometimes I just can’t help myself.  So, if you disagree with me, or don’t even want to read the rest of this post, that’s fine.  I respect that.  These are just my personal beliefs, and I want to share them with you.

There is a new Hobby Lobby that just moved into my neighborhood- I could actually walk to it, if I had enough determination.  A new craft store, so close to my house!  This should be great!  But, I’ve had a less-than-glowing impression about Hobby Lobby for years, and with the recent supreme court case, I can’t in good conscience shop there.

Hobby Lobby is a for-profit corporation with strict religious beliefs (how a company can have a religion, I’m not entirely sure).  For years, they have been imposing their religious beliefs on employees to one degree or another.

Since the Affordable Care Act became law, companies are required to cover their full-time employees’ healthcare.  And, part of that healthcare requirement includes contraceptives for women.  Hobby Lobby (as well as other religious companies) refuses to pay for their employees contraceptive, saying it goes against the religious beliefs of the company.This case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, who, last summer, decided in favor of Hobby Lobby.  The fact that a private, for-profit corporation can simply choose not to provide vital preventative care for its employees makes me very nervous.  I worry what other corporations will try to do next.

On Monday, dozens of like-minded people protested the new Hobby Lobby in Seattle.  They held signs and conducted a peaceful demonstration along Aurora, one of the biggest streets in the city.

10455061_10152791716984603_1547963420493947392_nThe protesters came from all over the city to get their message out, a message of freedom from corporate oppression, equality and personal rights.

10698650_10152791722589603_1754839863910223905_nOf course, I don’t expect every one of you to agree with me (isn’t that what’s great about America?).  But, I know I won’t be shopping at Hobby Lobby.