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Oh Helen

Not only have I finished a pair of socks this summer, but I also started – and finished – a new scarf.

This is Oh Helen.  It’s another free pattern I found on Ravelry.

The yarn is Twirl Twirling Petals; I bought it at Yarns on First during our day trip to Napa when we were visiting Rooster and his wife.

I mentioned, in previous post, how easy of a knit those socks were.

Y’all, this scarf was even easier – as long as I paid attention to which side I was on.  I may have had to tink back ten or fifteen rows after I discovered that I had gotten off track.

Oops.

Let’s talk about the yarn a minute.

This was the first time I’ve ever had to remove pieces of debris from the yarn I’ve knit with.  It was a little annoying.

With that said, I absolutely love the colors in the yarn and the way it’s spun (or is the term plied?) together.

Because gauge wasn’t important, I decided to use both skeins.  Waste not want not!  Here’s what I had left.

What can I say?  I like to live life a little dangerously when it comes to knitting.

I gave the scarf a bath in cool water when I finished.

I should have taken a picture of this pre-blocked.  It’s a pain to pin out knitting projects, but the results are always worth it.

See how open the stitches are?  The pattern really shines through because of the blocking.

For blocking, I use thick, foam play mats that fit together like puzzle pieces.  They are the perfect thickness for the stainless steel T-pins and blocking wires that hold my knitted pieces down.

The scarf only took three days to knit – not even full days, mind you.  Because I used size 8 needles, my hands didn’t cramp up.

The yarn is a blend of Alpaca, goat, and wool, and boy is it warm.

Photographing this in 80+ degree heat and humidity was fun.  Ahem.

I’d originally taken pictures of the while I was wearing flowered shorts and a pink flowered shirt, which I had worn while visiting with a friend earlier that day.

And I posted said pictures on Instagram – because I’m extra like that.

When I looked at the pictures, I realized that I was committing a grand faux pas and not showcasing my work very well.

This is definitely a scarf that begs to be matched with something solid.

The lacy pattern needs to be set off with a darker background.

Although I’ll be back in school by the time I can start wearing this, at least I’ll be grinding away in style.

 

Knitting Shenanigans

As you have probably seen, I’ve been taking the low-key approach to my summer vacation.

Not only have I been spending a lot of time at the pool, but I’ve also indulged in a bit of TV time.

Ahem.

I’ll not apologize, though.  First off, it’s World Cup season, and I’ve had a blast watching every other team beside the U.S. play (you should see me rolling my eyes right now).

That requires a lot of sitting time, which has translated into knitting time.

If you followed my posts about my trip to California, you saw a running theme – socks – or rather the creation of a pair.

I finished them about a week after we got home.

These are my Hermione’s Everyday Socks, the second pair I’ve made from the free pattern I got off of Ravelry.

It’s a seriously-easy, easily-memorized pattern, so it was perfect when I was distracted by close games that often ended in PKs.

Do you see that calf muscle action happening?  It’s the 80 Day Obsession, my friends.  I did crop out my rear end from these pictures.

You’re welcome.

The yarn is Brazen Stitchery Paparazzi Sock, and the colorway is Headmaster.

Go ahead and marvel at my cleverness when pairing the yarn and pattern together.  This is what happens when a teacher is on summer vacation – her brain starts working properly again.  Ha!

I purchased the yarn in San Antonio (Inskein Yarns) when we were out there for Rooster’s basic training graduation.  I guess you could say that these socks are now one of my souvenirs from that trip.

Not that I need to justify any yarn purchase.

Ahem.

I did a rib cast on, which I found here.

If you want to see more details about the socks, check out my project page on Ravelry.

Christmas in July?

Last week, I finished a project I’d started back in April or May…Heartwarming Stockings…a kit I purchased from Knit Picks.

I’d made a set of these stockings for the Mr. and me last fall.  When Rooster got engaged, I offered to make his girl her own stocking, which she eagerly said yes to.  Then, I decided to make Rooster a stocking as well so they would have a matching set.

I had almost enough yarn left over from my first set to make this set; however, I had to order a couple of skeins of yarn for Rooster’s girl’s stocking, so I cast on his while I waited for her yarn to arrive.

The great thing about this pattern is that you can customize it.  The pattern has a template, and you pick from various patterns offered for each section.  Rooster’s girl picked out everything, and I went from there.

When I finished Rooster’s stocking, I got to work on his girl’s.

I absolutely love the flowers on this stocking.

When I finished, both stockings got a lengthy bath to ensure that every fiber was soaked through.

Then, I blocked them.

I don’t know if you get a sense of how large these are just from looking at the photos.  I had written down the measurements, but I’ve lost the paper!  Ha!

Rooster’s girl asked if I was going to line them.

I said no, because I didn’t know how, but then I started thinking.

And I started Googling.

And after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I decided that I’d give it a shot.

After I took some measurements, I went to JoAnn Fabrics.

The colors I selected looked great; however, I should have taken a stocking with me, because I made a novice mistake and didn’t double my measurements (hello, this would be an inside lining…like a tube…hence double the amount of fabric required).

Money wasted.

And time.

Ugh.

By this time, Rooster’s girl had come to the house.  I can’t remember what we were doing, but she wound up running with me back to the store, where I got the correct amount of fabric.

I traced around each stocking with a permanent marker, giving myself about a half-inch extra space all around.

Now, I had the bright idea to use my sewing machine to stitch the two halves together.  I’d used my sewing machine, obtained as a gift from a yard sale eons ago, maybe once or twice over the years.

It’s a handy thing…folds down underneath the table.

This thing was d-i-r-t-y.

Look at all of that dust!!

Once I got it plugged in, I made sure it worked by turning on the light.

I got out the manual to make sure it was threaded correctly from the top and ran into a problem when I couldn’t get the bottom bobbin to thread properly.  Maybe my thread was too old…it did keep breaking.  Regardless, I spent at least an hour trying to get it to work before throwing up my hands in surrender.

I’d do things the hard way, thus continuing to live out my mom’s words from years ago…”If there’s a hard way to do something, you’ll find it.”

So, I got out my needle and quilting thread and used a whip stitch to stitch both halves together.

Then, I stuffed each lining into its respective stocking and stitched around the top of each stocking, just under the i-cord.

I was actually really pleased with my small, somewhat even stitches.

When all was said and done, I had two lined stockings.

I am so honored that Rooster’s girl allowed me the privilege of making something so special to commemorate what will be their first Christmas together as a married couple.

 

Big Island Wrapper

Summer vacation…it is so wonderful.

I’ve been splitting my time up into chunks — working out — running errands — reading — knitting — napping — watching TV.  Not necessarily in that order either.

My knitting.  Oh my.  I’m working on something for Rooster and his girl, but I had to order a skein of yarn for it, so I cast on a new project, Big Island Wrapper, on June 18th, using Knit Picks Billow yarn.

First of all, can we all give a big hallelujah for Ravelry?  I always research my projects beforehand…looking for errata and suggestions from others to make knitting each pattern easier.  I found out that there were several mistakes in the pattern.

Whew!

The connection sections can be knit a couple of different ways.  I didn’t like the look I was getting with the original way, so I tinked back and reknit, using the suggested changes posted by others.  You can read more specific details on my project page on Ravelry.

The yarn was easy to work with, although I didn’t like that it was thinner in some places than others.  It’s cotton, which I don’t usually knit with, so it’s heavier, but I like the way it slid through my fingers and off of the needles.

It was a fast knit, and before I knew it, I was giving it a bath.

Then, I blocked it.

I love the look of the netting stitch in the orange section.

I bound off using a picot edge…a lovely touch that beats adding fringe any day.

This is not the usually airy shawl that I’m known to make.

The heavier cotton gives it a solid drape.  It will be warm in the fall.

I am pleased with the way it turned out and the color scheme.  The palette is appropriate given my proximity to the ocean.

This shawl will probably be another favorite!  I look forward to wearing it in a few months.

Christmas Shenanigans

It’s December 26th, and after a morning spent shopping with my Chicky, I am finally sitting down to process the past few days.

On Wednesday, the 23rd, we secured the house and pups, leaving them in the care of a trusted young man…one of Rooster’s best friends…and drove a couple of hours down the road to bigger city, Florida, where the rest of our crew lives.

Before we left, though, I had to get in another workout.  Even though Wednesdays are my “rest” days, I still like to exercise.  I’ve learned that my body needs to be pushed.

I decided to do a Piyo workout.  I’ve missed the stretching and strength exercises, so I put in the “Sweat” video, which didn’t seem nearly as difficult now that I’ve “graduated” from the program and have been doing TurboFire for over a month.  I’d like to think that speaks to the level of fitness I’m currently at…not high but farther along than four months ago.

Our drive went by quickly.  I spent the time either reading or knitting (I can’t remember which).  We spent the afternoon just chilling with the in-laws.  Chicky arrived later that afternoon, but she was fighting the crud, so she went to bed early.

Christmas Eve found me up early.  I didn’t want to miss a day of my workout program, but I also didn’t want anyone walking in on me.  I’m a bit shy about having people watch me.  I’m not exactly the most coordinated, although in my mind I look as good as Chalene Johnson.  Yes, I know I’m delusional.  Aren’t we all from time-to-time?

Getting ready in the dark so I don’t wake up the natives

After everyone got up, we did our traditional last-minute shopping and picked up a few small items that were probably unnecessary but gave us a reason to jaunt around town along with thousands of other similarly-minded people.

Because we were going to eat Christmas dinner for dinner (as opposed to the late lunch time we’ve done the past few Christmas seasons), the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and I had some time to open gifts among ourselves.  Spending time as our small family unit rarely happens these days, as is the case when children grow up and leave home.  I think it’s still important, though.  Inside jokes and whatnot continue to remind us how much we love each other.

Chicky gave me this luscious silk/wool skein of yarn, which she had picked up this past summer when she traveled to the Amish country while vacationing in Philadelphia.  I think she purchased the yarn here.  She told me that she was going to buy me more yarn until she discovered that good yarn is expensive!  Rooster reminded her of my forays to the yarn store that’s an hour and a half away from me and how much I spend before I return home.  Yes, I’m a yarn snob.  I was touched that she 1) braved a yarn store and 2) got me something so dear to my heart.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures during our present opening.  I did receive a set of measuring cups and spoons from Rooster (these items were on my list), and the Mr. gave me a cute sweater from Old Navy, night clothes from Victoria Secret, and a flipbelt.

The Flipbelt. These are not my abs…these pictures will serve as motivation though.

After a delicious dinner (I ate mashed potatoes and field peas), we pulled out Phase 10, a card game Chicky had purchased the night before.  We had a lot of time to kill before church.

This was a lot of fun to play!  I highly recommend it!

After a few rounds, our group got ready for church and headed to the 9pm service.  This was the first time we had ever attended this late program…another sign that our children have become adults.  The pastor preached a great sermon with the highlight being the lighting of candles that we patrons held as the overhead lights were turned off.  Singing “Silent Night” with the candlelight flickering invoked a feeling of reverence befitting the Reason for the Season…the birth of the baby who would save mankind from its sins.

By the time we were finished, it was late, so it didn’t take us long to head to bed.

True to form, I arose early the next morning so I could do my ten-minute ab workout followed by the ten-minute stretch session that comes after each workout session.  The schedule worked out great, did it not?

Then, I got ready and sat…waiting…for the everyone else to wake up…

Because the kids are grown, we don’t open presents at 5am any more.

I decided to call my mom but had trouble putting on makeup, straightening my hair, and talking, so I dug out my ear buds and made myself hands-free.

Go ahead to tell me how brilliant I am.

This was a great way to pass the time.  Beauty at my age takes a while to obtain.

Once the Mr. and the kids were up, it was time to dig into our stockings.  Santa was good to me.

Isn’t my stocking pretty?  I love being able to say that I made it!

Super Sis and her family eventually made their way over after they’d finished opening their gifts, and after the customary Christmas morning photos in front of the tree (during which we really noticed how grown the kids had gotten), we dug in.

We always take turns opening presents, going in age order (youngest to oldest).

The theme the first round seemed to be opening what the other sister/brother clan had gifted.

Super Sis’s group gave me the stack of three purple gifts in the photo above.  One of the gifts was a set of measuring spoons (one can never have too many).  Another gift was this bowl…

Isn’t it cute?!

I also got this neat set of hand lotions.

The ingredients are all natural.  The one on the left has a lemon scent and is very invigorating.  The middle tube has an orange scent…a bit more muted but still pleasant.  The tube on the right has a floral scent and is stronger.  It provides a deeper conditioning, so I’ll probably use it on my feet.

A lot of laughter was exchanged as explanations were provided with each gift.

I had bought Super Sis an Origami Owl necklace and six charms.  I should have taken a picture of it.  She had randomly texted me a few months ago and told me that she had decided that she wanted one.  We’d given Coupon Queen a necklace for Mother’s Day (or her birthday…can’t remember which one since both are in May).

The in-laws gave me an individual sized crock pot, 400-thread cotton sheets, Bath and Body Works lotion, an Express store gift card, and cash.

It was a fun time…one we had to recoup from afterward.  Can you say nap time?!  This is another tradition of ours.

After a dinner of leftovers, we sat down and played a new game that one of my nephews taught us…”President.”

I.  Hate.  This.  Game.  It’s played with a deck of cards that are all dealt out.  The winner of each round is called President, the runner up is Vice President, the next two finishers are Secretaries, and the last two are Scum and Super Scum.  I cannot stand the last two titles.  If you’re Scum, you have to give away your best cards to the President/Vice President (depending on if you’re Scum or Super Scum).  In return, you get their worst cards.  So, what happens is that you rarely get out of Scum status.

I don’t like the names of the finishers, nor do I like giving away cards in this manner.  It’s just dumb.  Yes, I got a bad attitude, and yes, I probably showed my butt a bit.  It’s hard to be perfect 100% of the time.  Ha!

Bedtime provided a much-needed reset.

That brings me to today.  After an early, tough TurboFire workout, Chicky and I headed out to the store.  We hit Ulta so Chicky could exchange the Urban Decay eye shadow palette we’d given her…the same one as last year (hello. brain fart).  Best Buy was next so I could exchange a phone charger I’d bought for Rooster (hello, second brain fart…wrong pin connection…duh).

Then, we went to the mall so I could try on blue jeans at Express.  I’ve lost so much weight that I’ve had to go down a size (I’m not bragging, mind you, so don’t be hatin’).  Afterward, we ate lunch, and then Chicky got her makeup done at the MAC cosmetic stand near the food court.  I’ve never heard of this line before.  What lovely stuff!

I enjoyed watching the gal expertly apply primer, foundation, concealer, and blush.  Chicky doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, but that makeup really made her cheekbones pop!  I wound up helping her pay for her goodies.  Because we live six hours apart and only see each other every few months, I don’t get to pamper her often.

Because Chicky had decided to stay in town one extra day, we were not pressed for time.  I was grateful because I miss her when we’re apart.

The game plan for the rest of the day is to relax, visit more with family, and head home first thing in the morning.  We have fur babies who miss us, gifts to put away, and another week of downtime to enjoy.

I hope all of you had a great Christmas with friends and family.

Early Morning Rain Shawl

I did a lot of knitting during my summer vacation.  I shared some of it in this post.

I thought it was past time that I wrote about a project I finished in August.

This is my Early Morning Rain Shawl.

I discovered this pattern when I went yarn shopping one day in June and fell in love with the Wolle’s Yarn Creations…

The owner of the yarn store showed me the shawl she was working on, and I knew I had to make one for myself.

I bought the yarn, beads (oy vey), and a Verna-X Beadle Needle…

I cast on July 19th.  The work was a little slow going at first.  Learning how to pull beads through my new tool wasn’t very easy; however, I watched the following video a few times and got faster…

The open lacework made my heart happy…I do love this type of knitting.

The pattern is written in a narrative format with sections divided into chapters.  It makes for lovely reading.

I wasn’t able to knit to the end of the pattern; the way it’s written, you can customize it a bit.  My gauge runs a little big.  I was only short a few rows.  Next time, I’ll buy one more skein of yarn so I won’t get stressed out.

The overall look of the shawl wasn’t affected in the least.

It’s a rather long shawl that drapes nicely with the added weight of the beads.

One of the things that made this pattern so enjoyable to knit was how each section changed.  It wasn’t monotonous garter stitch that went on forever.

The fringe freaked me out a little…at first.  It wound up being a piece of cake to work up.

This is a versatile scarf…perfect for casual wear…

When I bought the yarn, I envisioned wearing it to dinner at the beach.  The Mr. and I enjoy eating at various restaurants that have an ocean view.  The breeze is sometimes a bit cool for me.  The cotton yarn is light enough to take the edge off without making me sweat.  The open lace also helps.

It was a fairly quick knit.  I finished on August 10th, right before I had to head back to school.

I think it’s already become one of my favorite shawls!

Summertime Knitting Shenanigans

When last I posted…

Boy, this seems to be the theme of my blogging life these last few months, eh?  It seems as though I can find every excuse to throw at you, but the reality is that I don’t always feel pulled to turn on my computer.  I get done with my day and need to veg out, sans the computer.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have things to share.  My poor brain and heart are ready to burst forth at any moment with a blog post…typing that post…well, yeah.

So, besides laying around, enjoying my summer vacation, what exactly has been occupying my time?

One of the things that I’ve been doing is knitting.  I’d like to share a couple few projects.  Beware.  This post is picture heavy, as befitting my love of knitting selfies.

Oh, and before I forget, if you want more specific project info, check out my Ravelry project pages.  Not a member?  It’s free to join and a great way to score free patterns, check out what others have knit, and keep track of your own projects!

Now, an explanation of the first three projects that follow.

For this term in my Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup OWL, I proposed an Arithmancy project that would consist of four completed pairs of socks.

I’d previously knit three for an OWL a couple of terms ago, so I figured upping the ante would be good.  Because it’s summer, I thought I’d have enough time to complete that extra pair.  It typically takes me a couple of weeks to knit a pair of socks if they aren’t fancy Cookie A patterns.

The first pair I finished was Angee, by Cookie A.  It was one of the simplest patterns of hers that I’ve knit, which is why I started them in May when school was still going (the HPKCHC term runs from May through July).

The yarn is Unplanned Peacock Studio Superwash Merino, and I used size 0 needles.  My gauge is always bigger than what patterns call for because I tend to knit loosely despite my years of experience.  Despite that, the socks are a great fit!

The next pair of socks I finished was Pflastersteine / Cobblestones, a free pattern on Ravelry.  The yarn is Frog Tree Periboo, and I used size 0 needles (my go-to needles, it would seem).

This was another super-easy and quick knit.  Thank goodness!  I started these before school ended and finished the day after I was officially home for the summer.

For the record, I knit them exactly the same, despite what looks to be a height difference.  Sometimes it’s hard to set the camera timer, run to my “spot,” and pull up the socks evenly for a uniform picture.  I’m good at multi-tasking but not that good!

The pair I finished a couple of days ago was Turmeric Socks.  If I’m not mistaken, it was my friend, Christina, who had gifted me this lovely Madelinetosh yarn.  The color, Gilded, reminded her of my Auburn fanaticism.  🙂

This pattern incorporates a bit of cable work into a lace design.  I knit this pair in ten days.  I could have probably knit them in under a week if I hadn’t been so busy doing nothing (like sunbathing, napping, and watching World Cup).

This pattern was so much fun to knit!  If you’re scared of cables and/or socks, don’t be.  I’ve knit a LOT of socks, so trust me when I say that the pattern designer did an EXCELLENT job with this.  There are charts AND line-by-line instructions.

I’ve already cast on the final pair of socks for this OWL.  I’ll get around to posting them…eventually.  🙂

Another project, non-sock-related, I completed in June was my Grrlfriend Market Bag (spell this way if you’re looking up the pattern on Ravelry).

This was another easy knit, although my hands were hating life by the time I finished.  Cotton yarn can be hard on your hands…especially Lily Sugar n’ Cream and with the smaller needles I used (size 4 and 7).

The result was worth the effort, though.  This is a fun bag to carry around!

So, that’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately!  How have you been keeping busy during these beautiful summer months?

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