Saturday, December 31, 2016

And that, said Roo, is that!

Where I am sitting there are just a few hours left to 2016.  My kids are all anxiously awaiting a new (and hopefully great) year, while I am looking back and wondering where this one went!

2016 saw my first third party publication submission, and acceptance, and as it would happen my second, third, and fourth.

It saw new habits being formed.

New ventures being explored.

Lots of knitting.

And the taming of a certain octupus!

You guessed it, I did it!

Presenting Veronique Bonnet and Booties by Suzie Sparkles. (isn't that  a great name?)

I can remember knitting booties and hats of a very similar construction when my kids were in the "are they ever arriving" stage.  Truly classic designs and they knit up in a flash.  I think grand total I spent about 3 hours on the set. 

This set is now living safely with the baby blankets that I knit a couple of years ago in the hopes that one day I will have grandchildren to spoil. (Although all three of mine say it is never going to happen!)

And my collage for the GAL Opadoo Taming Entry thread.

The Indie Gift Along is winding to a close at a furious pace, pattern codes being thrown around with gay abandon, projects being knitted and crochet on furiously to beat that deadline!

I'll be kind of sad to see it end.

Kind of like 2016.

Sometimes it is hard to turn the page and see What next?

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 30, 2016

It Ain't Over Yet, Folks!

Although, technically this is the last Finished Object Friday for 2016, I might have cast on just one more project for the Indie Designer's Gift Along on Ravelry. If I can get enough knitting time in between cleaning house, prepping food and chatting on the Chat Thread, I am hoping to have that one more project (which is in three pieces) done before the Gift Along ends at midnight EST tomorrow.

But for today I have two finished objects to share.

First up, the mitts!

I first became aware of Kelly G Knits when she had a rather epic piece in Knotions earlier this year.  I wanted to cast that on so badly, but even with as immense as my stash is, I just didn't have enough of any single yarn to knit.  But, I digress!

As part of the Gift Along I have been trying to knit designs from designers that I hadn't actually knit from before, and seeing Kelly G's  Ceilidh Fingerless Gloves I knew I had to knit them and that I would love them.  I was right!  The cables in them are so much fun, a little different from anything I would have designed and certainly not a cable pattern I had knit before.

A 100% merino wool made them ever so soft and cozy and I knit the thumb cuffs a little longer so that I could, if I wanted cover my thumbs or cuff them when I wanted to use my thumbs.  The ribbing at the fingertip edge does the same thing, so it certainly looks consistent with the design.

The next thing to jump on my needles was Herringbone Toque by Christine Guest.  This is one clever design!  Knit on the bias with short rows, a line of grafting that completely disappears into the pattern and it is almost like knitting origami.  It comes in three sizes, this is the medium, and in a red wool blend will make a nice warm addition to our hat collection.  (In the midwest, when you need a hat, you certainly need it to be warm!)

So let's look back over the Gift Along....

I started with A Vest from Emma Sadler,

then some Socks from Annina Paivarinta,

 followed by a Shawl by Clarice Gomes,

 three Sneaky Hats from Hunter Hammersen,

A Squishy Cowl by Nina Machlin Dayton,

the mitts and the hat seen above......counting on my fingers that is 7 projects from 7 project categories, featuring 7 different designers......


So in this Knit Along there is a 9th contest.  I am stealing the introduction to it wholesale...

"Calling all gift-a-long superheroes!!
Are your needles faster than a speeding bullet? Is your crochet hook more powerful than a locomotive? Can you complete tall projects in a single bound? If so then this is the challenge for you!
What is an Opadoo and how do you tame it?
Once upon a time there was a little girls named Addie, daughter of GAL moderator gwenschweitzer whose favorite animal in the whole wide world was (and still is) an Octopus. But being a very little girl she called her beloved animal an Opadoo. After posting this contest last year some quick minded GAL participants made the connection between an “Opadoo”, which has 8 arms, and the GAL challenge, which has 8 KAL/CALs, and so, “Taming the Opadoo” was born!"

The only category I am missing?  Baby and Kid's Items, not toys.

Excuse me while I go knit some booties and a hat!

Check in tomorrow to see if I got it together in time or not!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sing a Song of Socks

Presenting Simple Melody Socks!

I mentioned earlier this week that I had been working, off and on, all year on a series of sock designs all based on ribbing and musical signature keys.  Today the first one debuts.

As you may have gathered, I like knitting socks.  Even better, my family likes wearing handmade socks and look forward to them as gifts for birthdays and holidays.

They love the feel of snug ribbing, that hugs their legs and feet, but...a plain ribbed sock is awfully boring to knit.  So I am always looking for a way to get the fit and feel of a nice ribbed sock with the interest of knitting something that is a little jazzier.

Knitting, and designing or adapting designs, has a lot to do with math, and math in turn has an awful lot in common with music. Counting, rhythm, scales, intervals, patterns, symbols, harmonies, time signatures, overtones, tone, pitch.

The notations of composers and sounds made by musicians are connected to mathematics. In my mind it wasn't a big leap to tie music and knitting together at all, especially if we look at time signatures as ribbing ( 4/4, 3/4, 2/4 can all be either knits and purls or beats and notes.) and cables, lace, and twisted stitches can be viewed as sharps or flats, moving the tones around a little.

Simple Melody Socks are a lively pair in 2/2 time (cut time or 2 knits and 2 purls for the ribbing).  The knit stitches are then made "sharp" by twisting them across the front of the leg and top of the foot, or the Key of D Major.

They include and afterthought heel and wedge toe, which makes them ideal for contrasting top ribbing, heels and toes if you want to maintain the stripes in your favorite self striping yarn, or if you are using an impossible to get your socks to match variegated one and want to make them appear more uniform. Of course, if you have a favorite heel or toe that you know fits you, feel free to substitute it and truly make these socks your own!

You can get the pattern in my Ravelry Store, even without being a member of Ravelry. And as my way of saying Happy New Year get the pattern at a discounted price of $3 until January 1, 2017, no coupon needed.

Officially this is my last pattern release of 2016, but stay tuned because there will be a peak at the first of the 2017 patterns coming very soon!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WIP Wednesday or How it Goes

Someone, I am not sure who, could have been one of the kids or a random stranger that I met along the way, decided that the best gift they could offer to share with me this year was "the crud".

I wish to return it.

So far, I have found no-one that will take it without a receipt, even for store credit.

So this WIP Wednesday post will be brief, because really all I want to do is curl up in a corner with my box of kleenex and Rx Cough medicine (that will apparently play nicely with the other things I have to take but knocks my on my "donkey".)

My Mitts are finished.

More about them on Friday for a full FO post.

Something else jumped on the needles....three times actually because although that cough medicine does stop me from sounding like I have "the bloody plague" it does not play well with counting.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Teaser Tuesday

A while ago I was having a conversation with a college student (not one of my kids, but the grown child of a friend who had finally taken the plunge to go back to school) and she was saying that the biggest problem she was having, short of the Algebra classes, was deciding what she wanted to be.

What would she major in and spend the rest of her life doing?  Until she decided those things she felt that all she could take were the general education and refresher courses but looking at the news and job market forecasts she was stuck.  Deciding what she wanted to be forever was a daunting task.  What if she picked something she ultimately hated doing, or that the job market wasn't there for? Or something she loved but didn't provide enough income to support herself?

The What If's were holding her back, and seriously driving her crazy. 

So I suggested she change the questions.

Instead of "What do I want to do for the rest of my life?"  change the question to "What do I want to do next?"

Instead of "What if ..." change the question to "What then..."  and then don't be afraid to try something to see if it works, if it doesn't move right the way back to "What next?"

Which is a very long way of bring us to...What is next for me?

Well this week, the what is next is a sock pattern!

I have been playing with the idea of turning musical signature keys into patterns off and on all year.  This one will be the first in a series that will be loosely known in my mind as a Riff the Rib pattern, because as many sock knitters know there is nothing like the fit of a nice ribbed sock.  But, as many sock knitters know, there is nothing like the boredom of knitting a nice ribbed sock! 

Tune in Thursday for the official release, but in the meantime....a teaser photo for you. 

The socks were graciously modeled by TFB as they were to be TOB's Christmas socks and they were a surprise! (How I managed to knit a whole pair of socks in his colors without his noticing I shall never know.)

In case you were wondering, this one is based on The Key of D.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Everything!

I have 7 more rows, some ends to weave in and a single seam to complete on the cowl I decided to make as an add-on to my Christmas knitting.  It will probably be finished later today, but if it isn't...all is good!

My Christmas Eve has been filled with great things!

One of my best knitting friends sent me a pattern to play with. It will keep me on my toes in the New Year, just a couple of small intense projects so I know I will have fun and fit other knitting around them.

All the "have to" knits are done.

The "it would be nice" knit is just about done.

We went for a walk.

We made cookies.

We are about to eat some soup.

This evening, Chez Yarn Diet is a happy, relaxed spot to be.

And that is actually my wish for you this holiday season and going forward.

My wish for you, today and every day, is that into each day you find that small space of time to just be.  Enjoy the beauty of a sunrise, the silence before the rest of your world is awake, or after they go to sleep.  That you take some time to smell the flowers and savor the tastes that life brings your way.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Mary E Rose Designs and Chez Yarn Diet!

Friday, December 23, 2016

It's The Final Countdown

If you are still working feverishly on knitted gifts for a certain holiday that is right around the corner, you had better pick up the pace!  Tomorrow is it my friend and then you are out of time.

Not that it would be the first year that I have wrapped up projects on the needles and finished them up after the holidays, but I think it is well past time I stopped doing that!

Actually, I am mostly smug because my Christmas knitting is complete.  I did add a cowl to my list of things to knit in the Indie Designers Gift Along, but it is really just to replace one that had been well worn, much loved and was decidedly thread bare in spots.

The last of the official gift knitting came off my needles and was blocked on Monday so it could be mailed by Tuesday to (hopefully) get to Washington State by today ready for festivities either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  (Just checked the tracking on it and it was delivered right on time today!)

There is a bit of a story behind this particular piece.

It all starts a long time ago when my ex-MIL sent me two balls of yarn for Christmas.  Just standard sized balls so a total of about 200 yards.  So I used it to knit as much of a scarf as I could and mailed it back to her with a note that said "People who do not knit but give me yarn get back finished objects. Thanks for the hours of enjoyment knitting this gave me..."

The next year I got a few more balls of yarn, this time enough to make a small shawlette.  Same deal, except I waited until Christmas to send it back and it became her Christmas present.

This has been going on for quite a while now, and the quantities of yarn I get sent get bigger and bigger.  So now we are up to full size shawls or sweater quantities.  She never gives me any guidance on what to make, and actually I am still not 100% convinced that she completely understands that for so many knitted things, once I have knit it the fun is over!  (Not always true, I am sitting here in my fingering weight Ruana feeling ever so pleased with the end result along with the process of designing and making it!)

Last year she sent me a DK yarn in a teally/bluish tone that I was having a terrible time coming up with the perfect project for.  It has a significant amount of alpaca, and though your mileage may vary, I find for clothing alpaca has this tendency to grow with wearing!  Sometime a lot!  (Not to mention she got a cardigan last year!)

In my usual fashion, I picked the yarn up a few times over the course of the year and then...well the deadline started looming!

Enter a pattern from the Indie Gift Along, from a designer I had not purchased patterns from before...Travessia by Clarice Gomes you can get your own copy by following the link.  My yarn wasn't exactly what the pattern called for, but having had a test knitter for one of my shawls use the same type in place of a fingering weight yarn, I knew I was pretty safe casting on.

This pattern was so much fun to knit, that in all it took me 12 days to knit the shawl (and a few other things that are secret!) from start to finished blocking shots.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

TDQ was a gracious stand in model for the recipient, even if the purple hair doesn't quite go with the shawl.  :)

What do you think?

I have started a cowl and have one more pattern in my queue for the Gift Along...fingerless mitts for me!  Maybe I will share pictures of them tomorrow.

If I don't...well I wish you the Happiest, Merriest, Most Wonderful Christmas ever!


Oh, PS, if you are not signed up for the Knotions Preview Newsletter go here and do that....I have a surprise for you coming up!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Don't Want to Alarm You

But, in my own personal countdown to present day, we are getting awfully close to the wire!

So of course, I took most of a day away from knitting to work on re-structuring my home work environment! 

I have had  a hutch on my desk for as long as I have had this desk, which is a pretty long time now!  I love all my cubby holes and stash places on it.  I could put things on top of it and still have room on the actual desk part for my trusty ball winder to be out of my way but right there when I needed it.

What I didn't have was enough space to have two monitors side by side for when I am running test knits or going through edits, or even responding to those people that I "freelance" coach in my off time. 

Yes I could have multiple tabs and documents open at the same time, or I could print things and have those right in front of me (which seemed like such a waste of paper when you are doing things weekly and the document is being adjusted and adapted to work for each individual) but really, I wanted two monitors.

What I didn't want was to lose the cubby holes in my hutch or to buy a whole new desk.  I had a spare monitor from when mine was upgraded a year or so ago, so that wasn't going to cost me, but I really wanted to keep whatever I did end up doing to make the set up work, very, very, frugal!

Recently we had put shelves up in TDQ's room, and as luck would have it, we still had an entire shelf left over.  (She changed her mind about how many she wanted on one wall.)  We also had the brackets to hold it up so technically, I could have rearranged things without spending a dime, but one more, slightly less wide and shorter, shelf board would give me even more cubby space!

To make it work I had to move a cupboard that was above my desk from lining up  visually with the ones in the kitchen (open plan house, with my work area between the kitchen and living areas) to hugging the ceiling. 

Upon removing it I remembered that the last time I decorated I didn't take it down and wall paper behind it..oops....I wasn't going to waste more knitting time by putting up new wall paper and waiting for it to dry (remember at this point I have no desk to work at) so I went ahead and put up the shelf where the hutch could stand on it and still be below the cabinet, but high enough above my desk for my two monitors to scoot all the way back now!

Several well placed screws actually attach that "floating" hutch to the shelf, which with the three brackets and some very heavy duty molly bolts is not going anywhere, and an "earthquake" strap at the top attaching the hutch to the wall, all is safe and secure until at least the middle of the zombie apocalypse. (If you look really closely you can barely see the old wallpaper still there behind the top row of cubbies.

With the way it worked out, not only did I get to keep my existing cubby holes, the narrower shelf in the middle of what had been the monitor spot between them has provided a much better location for things like my hole punch, I get my two monitor set up that I desired and as an added bonus my desk feels so much bigger without the hutch actually sitting right on it!

Of course I have changed it up a little bit more since I took that photo and spread the monitors a little further apart with a touch less of an angle to them, made reaching the light switch a lot easier!

To celebrate how much I liked what I had done, this pretty little orchid plant followed me home from the store!  I don't have much of a green thumb for houseplants, but I am hoping I can keep it alive!

The only downside is now I have to stand on my chair to get things out of the cupboard way up at the ceiling, but I think that was a trade off that I am more than happy to make!

What did spending a huge chunk of a day working on that do to my Christmas knitting schedule?  Counting on my fingers, not much!

The shawl that needed to be finished for mailing yesterday, was.  It was even blocked and had finished object pictures taken for the Indie Gift Along on Ravelry. (More about that on Friday!)

I finished up the last of the little hats I wanted for gift tags.

The patterns are all from Icy Seas by Hunter Hammerson.  Check this post for pattern link.

There is one more pattern in that little hat collection, maybe I should make one for me?

I think, that if I stopped knitting right now I would be set for gift knitting....but I still have days left!

What do you think I should cast on next?


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

One More Friday to Go

Why do I do this to myself?

Why do I think that somehow, with the aid of a TARDIS, I can magically warp the space time continuum into something a little more flexible than the one I live in?

Why do I think that somewhere I have an extra set or two of hands and arms and can put them all to different tasks at the same time?

Why do I suddenly, even though we have all known this date is coming since...well about since this date last year, think that I can squeeze in just one or two more "little projects?"  You know, like an even dozen wash cloths or pairs of socks?

I don't know either!

I do have a couple of little somethings to share....not the shawl that should have already been long off the needles, blocked and ready to ship!

Just a couple of cute little hats from the Indie Gift Along.

The pattern is Icy Seas by Hunter Hammersen.  You can get it like I did in a book from Knit Picks, or as part of a  collection of full size and mini sized hats directly from Ravelry.  Each little mini hat takes just a few yards of yarn and I thought I had such a perfect sneaky plan for using them.  I was going to use the leftovers from each of the kids' Christmas socks and make a little hat to act as the gift tag on their gift bags for Christmas.  No names, so it wouldn't be so easy to know which bag was for which child and help prevent snooping.

I obviously didn't think that one through too far as one child is getting rainbow socks, one green socks and one red socks.  And they know who is who!

Best laid plans, eh?

Each hat doesn't take very long, and I still have one more to knit before the dreaded, I mean anticipated day.

Now can I get this shawl off my $%#%$% needles so that it can get in the mail on Monday?

Tune in to find out!