Monday, July 29, 2013

TGWE #5: Completed

The Sweet Fern Mitts are gorgeous.  I love the way they look, love the way they fit, but man, the wool (Edelweiss by Schoeller and Stahl) is so itchy I can't wear it.

And that makes me very sad.

If anyone out there is interested in a pair of gorgeous mitts, please let me know.  You can have them for the cost of the wool:  $15 plus whatever it costs to ship them to you.  They fit a woman's hand and are very stretchy.  They will be extremely warm.

My thoughts about the wool, besides it being itchy.  It's a very dense spin that has created a very round yarn.  The stitch definitely, therefore, is gorgeous.  It's very lofty and the cables really pop, as you can see.  The ribbing that goes around the hand created a nice snug fit without and the knit wales are pronounced and very pretty.

What I found while knitting is that the yarn wants to knit up very tightly. I  had to keep reminding myself to knit looser so that I could easily get my needles into the stitches on the next round.  The cable, at times, could be difficult to completely twist.  The overall finished product, though, is a nice, dense fabric that will wear for a long time and be extremely warm.

I did enjoy working this pattern and will look for another yarn that I think will do the cables justice to make a pair of these mitts for myself.  I'm not sure if it is the extra amount of hay present in the yarn (I picked out what I saw) that was causing me problems, or if this wool has simply taken me beyond the limits of my comfort level.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So very tired

I think I've used that title before--so very tired--but things this past week (and probably last) have truly worn me out.  I could put my head on my desk and take a nap but I fear not being able to wake up again.

I know I'm not thinking clearly and can only hope that I'm not giving bad advice to all the students I've been working with.

Today I want to share with you a scarf that I'm working on.  I call it "improv" because I have (sort of) made this one up as I've gone along.  The stripes were determined using a deck of cards.  I wound the warp until I ran out of red yarn--thus I let the project be as wide as it ended up being.

Then I decided to thread it so that the red diagonal stripes would go in the opposite direction as the grey and black, creating an interesting wave pattern.  This decision was made up as I sat down to start threading.  I really like the result.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Great Wool Experiment #5

TGWE #5 is well under way.  I started it a couple of days ago and have almost reached the point in the mitt where I start working on the thumb increases.  I love the cable, even though I didn't read the errata first and am doing it backwards.  I looked at the chart when I first started knitting the mitts, and then looked at the picture and thought it didn't look right, but I went with the chart because my knitting intuition isn't as confident as it should be.

I'm not ripping back and starting over, but the cable looks interesting and pretty so I'll keep it.

What I'm finding about working with this yarn.  It's Edelweiss by Schoeller and Stahl in a warm chocolate color.  The yarn is "woolen spun" which means that it isn't carded before spinning which makes the fibers come together in all different directions rather than being a smooth thread.  You see little halos everywhere you look with this yarn.  It's really quite lovely.

I would describe the hand as "crisp" which results in a gorgeous fat stitch.  Just look at this close up of the ribbing section of the mitt.

If you click on the photo and look at the close up you can see the "furriness" of the yarn.  It really is quite a nice look.  I agree with the designer, Clara Parkes, that these mitts need to be knitted with woolen spun yarn.  After looking at several projects on Ravely last night, the pattern comes out kind of limp in other yarns.  But in a nice crisp's truly sweet.

Knitting with the yarn has been a bit of a challenge for me.  It feels very tight on size 5 needles.  I tried on the mitt and it fits like it should, so I don't want to go up a needle size.  I thought about how I like working socks in the round on 5 DPNs, so I got out an extra set of size 5 needles to have my cable needle handy and have switched to working with 5 and it is somewhat better.  I'll see what I think tonight when I have a full 30 minutes with it in the "square" instead of in the "triangle."

And for the record, on the next mitt, I'm going to work the cable as intended so you can see the difference....I'm not too fretful over matchy-matchiness...and in the end my hands will be just as warm which is really the whole point of these lovely mitts.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Great Wool Experiment #4

Please forgive me for not posting a picture of my Great Wool Experiment #4.  I love this yarn, love this project, but it's a gift and the extremely small chance that the mother-to-be might chance upon this blog entry makes me pause at posting a picture of the loveliness that flew off of my needles in the past few weeks.

Instead I'll show you the two blocks I've completed for the Noro blanket in the past week.  This is block 6 and 7:  Forest Hike and Night Falling.

Now, to talk about the wool experiment #4.  The project is a baby set knitted up in a springy, cushy hand-dyed yarn from Dream in Color.  The yarn is named "smooshy" for a reason.  It's indeed smooshy and soft and gorgeously round.  A wonder to knit with.  I loved every minute I worked on this project and couldn't wait to see the next little bit get finished.

I chose a beautiful pinky-orange color called "Flamingo Pie" for the October little one.  There is a sweater with bright purple buttons and a cap and booties with knitted ties.  Everything is so tiny and cute, and the pair of booties, with their ties, took only about 8 grams of yarn.  If ever I'm in doubt about what to make from scrap sock yarn, I now know!

Of course, I need some more baby feet around to make them for.

I very much enjoyed working on project #4 in this exercise in getting to know wool.  I did feel a little like a pro working with superwash sock yarn, though, as I absolutely love working with sock yarn and have made numerous pairs of socks and other items from the yarn.  I think sock yarn is a perfect match for baby items, though.  The thinner yarn allows for smaller clothing items that aren't too bulky for the tiny one, and since they won't see the exact kind of wear, especially for the tiny tiny ones, that socks typically see, then you can knit it at a slightly looser gauge and not lose integrity of the fabric.  In fact, the "smooshier" yarn is perfect for this looser gauge because it blooms and fills in the fabric and makes for a luxurious item.

Now, onto the next:  a pair of cabled mittens in a woolen spun yarn.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Real quickly on Monday

I have so much more to say about shopping and wearing smaller clothes (and wearing bigger clothes, for that matter), but I'm about to enter a whirlwind of 3 weeks of work and don't know when I'll get time to blog regularly.

I'll do so when I can and in the meantime put up some pics of recently finished projects.

I do want you to see the finished 5th block in the Noro afghan!  1/4 finished with knitting blocks!

David called this one "late summer garden."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What a difference 20 years makes

20 odd years ago I went to Dillards in search of new jeans.  My old ones had gotten too tight.  I needed the new pair of jeans fairly soon, so losing weight to get into the ones I owned that were too tight wasn't an option.  So, off to the store I went to deal with the fact.  I searched and searched and searched and every pair of jeans I tried on was too tight.

The clerk realized what was happening to me and steered me to the plus-sized section of the store, where I did find a new pair of jeans that fit.  They were 16W and I was devastated.  I hated those pair of jeans.  Hated them.  Hated them in a way I'd never hated an inanimate object before.  They symbolized to me a failure on my part to get my life under control and to lose weight (or manage it!).  I did not think I looked good in these jeans, and I remember obsessing over the fact that the ankles were so wide.  This was long before the days of the wide-legged jeans (or after depending on how you're looking at it.)

But I wore those jeans because I didn't have much choice, but I do remember going home and crying because I was now "plus sized" and I would have to wear frumpy ugly clothes.  (I did later discover more fashionable options, btw).


I didn't realize what a comfort I'd found in shopping in the plus-sized sections of the store until this Friday.  I have lost enough weight that it's time to get some new pants.  I was in 20W and figured that I'd probably be in 16W, so I picked out some pants and dresses and went to try them on.

The first pair of jeans I put on were 16W and they fit perfectly.  I almost cried with happiness.  I was immediately brought back to that first pair of 16W jeans I'd had to buy and how unhappy I was about them and how excited I was about these.

My what a difference 20 years makes!

I decided that I would go to the regular sized section of the store and try on the largest size they had there and see what would fit.  After all, these 16W jeans will start being big in a couple of weeks...I need to buy something that's a little snug now so that it'll be able to last me a few weeks on the "big side" as well.

Nothing "over there" fit in the pants yet.  Dresses, if they have a full skirt, were perfect, and I got a couple, but pants...not yet.  I am blessed with an ample bottom and will have to wait for another 15 or so pounds to drop before I'll make it to the regular sized pants.


What I did find interesting was how overwhelming it was shopping in the regular sized section.  There are so many options, different designers, different collections.  There are cuts that are made for certain body types...and I was completely overwhelmed.  I tried on samples (things on sale!) from one section of Dillards only to find that there were at least 3 more as large if not larger sections yet to be discovered.  Definitely something for future shopping excursions.

I'm not sure my budget will be able to afford the skinny me :)


Today's photo is of the 4th block in the Noro Afghan, what I'm calling "falling leaves."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One of the finished projects

This scarf is knitted with a lovely rayon warp (think silky soft without the price) and sock yarn.  The sock yarn is self-striping.  I get the yarn in a more or less monthly installment of the yarn club from Knitterly Things.  Each month I look at the skein of yarn and think "There's no way she can make a prettier skein next month" and somehow she does.

I also decided that after getting 6 or so pairs of striped socks, that I did need the yarn to do something else, so I experimented in weaving with it.  The name of this colorway is Dancing Waters, And to be honest, it took me back to a story I wrote in undergrad about my Native American great (many times) grandmother who I named Singing Rain.  I knew that the weaving pattern needed to somehow evoke a Native American theme, so I chose a simple broken twill (that's the zig-zag pattern you see that doesn't quite match at the top and bottom) and let the stripes and the lovely deep red warp do the work.

I'm very happy with this project, and also a little sad that I didn't have quite enough yarn to make a second scarf for sale, because this ones mine.  Mineminemineminemine.

[a little technical weaving talk here...if you want to, skip ahead to the picture]

And, for the record, the drape is wonderful, and it's amazingly soft.  If you want to weave with sock yarn, I always recommend something soft and silky for the warp (or weft whichever is the opposite of the where you have the sock yarn) and then setting the project just a tad looser than would be "obvious" based on wraps per inch.  This project was sett at 10epi for a twill pattern.  The rayon (which is a 10/2 yarn) is pretty skinny, so I actually doubled it in each dent and heddle.

If you're working on a rigid heddle loom, I think you could probably use a 10epi sett as long as you didn't beat too hard.  On the loom it looks a little loosey-goosey, but as soon as you take it off, the springy-ness of the sock yarn draws the project in and everything looks just right. This allows the scarf to be drapey and not stiff.  Once washed, the yarn blooms and everything gets all snuggly and the end result is a very pretty scarf that I can hardly wait to wear.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Let's talk knitting projects

I'm still fairly new to knitting, and as a result, I am experimenting with what types of projects I like to knit, what yarn I prefer to knit with, what size of needles I like to work with, what kind of needle I like to work with (bamboo, metal, etc).

I'm curious about why some projects captivate me and I'll knit on them until my hands hurt and why others are such a chore.  A few things I've figured out:

  1. I dislike knitting scarves(despite knowing this I still start knitting scarves)
  2. But like knitting cowls 
  3. I like knitting blankets--all in one piece blankets or those knitted in blocks
  4. I LOVE knitting socks
  5. I am interested in knitting sweaters (but have only finished one)
  6. I love knitting monsters
  7. I think shawls are lovely and enjoy knitting them
  8. I also love knitting hats
I have discovered that I like pretty simple things to knit, but every now and again I do like a challenge.

I must have a variety of projects on the needles at one time, some super easy, some more challenging...some long term, some quick.

I love surrounding my place on the couch with different projects.  I switch back and forth every 30 minutes or so to give my hands a new way to grip and to give my brain something new to think about.


One gift that David gave me for 4th of July was a kit to make a "stained glass afghan."  The knitted squares are based on the log-cabin block of quilting legend.  The yarn used is Noro's Kureyon for the stained glass blocks and the borders will be a solid black wool from Cascade Yarns.

I'm totally hooked on knitting this project.  I've already finished 3 squares, have memorized how to knit it, and am finding it very enjoyable to work on.  I'm bringing it to work to knit on while I have a down moment or am thinking or during my lunch break. And for now it's perfect because the blocks are small enough to be portable and I don't have to pile the whole thing on my lap during the heat of the summer.  But when the blocks are all finished and I start assembling it, it'll be a blanket in my lap without being finished.  What a lovely idea!

I've already decided that the leftover yarn scraps and the 4 skeins of Kureyon yarn I already have in my stash will be put together to make a lovely rug for my bedside.  We'll see when that transpires.  Until then, I'm very much enjoying knitting these blocks.  I'll go ahead and show you all three that are completed to date:   Deep Blue Sea, Ireland,and Party, (these are my names, not the yarn names):

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Busy day(s) (and a lot of promises of future pictures!)

I like being busy at's being bored or not having enough to do at work that makes me tired and irritated.

Being busy, even too busy, is so much better.  The days go by faster, I have a real sense of accomplishment, and at the end of the day I feel somehow more energized than not.

So, thank goodness I've had a couple of busy days at work, and the rest of the month looks like it'll stay busy, so hopefully (fingers crossed) I won't get cranky from not being busy enough.


I find it interesting that when I'm busy at work I'm also much more productive at home with my crafting.  I am working steadily on the baby sweater (Great Wool Experiment #4).  I'm not going to post pics of it until it's been given to the new parents, JIC they take a peek at the blog.  But trust me, after finishing the right front, I'm enamored.  Not enough to want a new baby, but to hope people around me start having babies so I can make them tiny little sweaters.

I'm using a yarn, in a lovely shade of orange and pink, from a company called Dream in Color.  They yarns are hand dyed and very beautiful.  The yarn I'm using is a sock-weight yarn, which you already know I love to work with, and so pretty that I'm hoping I have enough yarn leftover to make myself a pair of socks when I'm finished.  I love working with this yarn and can't wait for the gift to be sweet little baby girl will look when this set finally fits her.


The other projects I've been working on at home are my square a day blanket.  I'm 4 squares away from finishing row 5!  I'll have a picture of it then.  I'm also working on the Noro blanket that David bought for me.  I have a dark green square and a dark blue/purple square finished.  The next ball I chose is a lovely bright multi-color that's working up so interestingly.  The middle is a pinky-lavendar, the first round is different hues of bright green and the final round is (so far) bright pink and orange.  I can't wait to post a picture of this one, but it's not quite ready yet.


My picture today is of the cricket loom with the lovely mutli-colored scarf in it.  The yarn is from Unique Sheep and is a cotton and bamboo blend.  The drape on this yarn is worked up into a very light-weight and pretty scarf.  I love how the mutli-colors work across each other and end up looking like a crazy plaid.  I'll have a picture of it after it's been washed.  Behind the loom, if you look carefully, you'll see Pearl, my sweet kitty.  She's crazy about weaving and particularly likes the cricket loom (I think because it appears to be just about the right size for her).  All last weekend I had to battle with her about whether she could eat the yarn or the rigid heddle, or sit underneath the loom while I was working, or play with any thread that was hanging loose.  At this moment, she was sneaking up on me.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Knitting and Weaving

I learned to weave in 2007, and got my loom in January 2008.  I quickly became obsessed with weaving.  I bought yarn, planned projects, read books, and wove until my shoulders hurt.  I loved the process of creating fabric, seeing it come to shape in just the way I imagined, and then starting my next project.  For three years my loom hardly saw any rest.  I wove and wove and wove.  And loved every single minute of it.

One of the problems with weaving, though, is that it isn't very portable.  Also, with my loom set up in a separate room, I couldn't watch tv or hang out with the family when I wanted to do both.  It was solitary, and while I don't mind solitary most of the time, every now and again I do want to be around folks.

Also, we had several trips lined up and I wanted projects I could take in the car with me, so I dabbled in knitting.  It took a while for it to "click" for me, but when it did, I became as obsessed with knitting as I previously was with weaving.  In the past two years, I have completed countless projects, taken on more and more challenging ideas, and knitted so much that my thumbs hurt.


I realized on Thursday morning, that if I keep up knitting like this I'm going to have serious issues with my thumbs and not be able to knit any  more.  That scared me, so I started deliberately stitching slower (I find that I'm more relaxed and feel the tension in my thumbs a lot less IF I knit slower).  I also started taking breaks and weaving on my cricket loom.  I bought it so that I could weave in the car (not thinking, of course, that weaving a scarf takes approximately 2 hours or less (after the loom is set up)...which won't get me too far in an 8 hour car-ride).  I had a project on the cricket that had been there since August of last year, and it really needed to be completed.

So, I knitted, wove, knitted, wove and so on throughout the rest of the weekend.


I'm happy to report that my thumb is feeling better, and that I've completed 2 scarves (woven) and that I've knitted on my square a day blanket, the baby sweater for my cousin, and a new blanket from yarn that David gave me in my 4th of July present. (yea!)

The pic below is of a gorgeous silk and mohair scarf woven at just the right tension to make this a light and airy piece.  I'll definitely enjoy wearing it often!

I've started a second scarf out of this same yarn in a slightly different pattern, using the mohair and the silk alternating in the warp.  I think it's going to be absolutely lovely, too.  That one I'll sell.

All of this is to get to my point for today.  I used to be obsessed by weaving and now I'm obsessed by knitting.  I have projects that I want to weave, but I'm not compelled to go in the studio.  I don't know if it's because it's so hot (weaving is pretty sweaty business even in winter), or if my love affair with weaving has diminished.  I'm also curious whether it's the isolation of it that's my problem. I  could bring the loom into the living room to work on while David's reading or watching tv, but there's the problem with the noise (weaving isn't quiet), distraction (weaving does require some concentration from time to time), and the cats (who would tear my yarns to smithereens before I finished with the warping).  This has led me to consider getting a table top loom that is smaller that I could set up in the living room and work on in there...

In the meantime, though, I'll continue to enjoy knitting and weave when I feel like it.  I don't know if there'll be another new craft in my future (I'm am pretty sure I can't afford it unless it has something to do with yarn...I have lots of yarn).  I'll also continue to ponder why I'm not weaving as much as I think I should, and why it bothers me that I'm not.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Life Changing

I haven't talked a lot about the fact that David and I are losing weight.  I've mentioned it here and there (look at my "Getting Skinny" label on the right if you want to follow exactly what I've said).  But we've been at this now for 15 weeks.  And it truly has been life changing...and our journey is still several months from the end.

And I can't tell you how happy I am about this.  So very very happy.

We are doing a diet called Ideal Protein.  We see a diet coach (nurse) once per week, weigh in, talk about how things are going, and then go home motivated for another week.  Sometimes we buy some more food, but we keep our pantry pretty well stocked with our food.  It's a big purchase at one time, but we are usually "set" for at least 3 weeks afterwards, so it isn't so bad.


How the diet works:

  • We eat a protein packet for breakfast.  I also drink coffee, David drinks tea.  We can have a shake, bars, or a package of other foods. 
  • For lunch we eat 2 cups of veggies plus a salad and a protein packet.  Again, sometimes we have a shake, sometimes we have a package (think chips or nuts).  We can dress our salad with olive oil and vinegar.  The coach recommends some products that are fat free and calorie free, but I haven't found that I like them, so I'm sticking with olive oil and vinegar for now.  We are going to make up some salad dressings this weekend to try out.  I'll let you know how they go.
  • For dinner we eat 8oz (pre-cooked weight) of lean meat, grilled or baked, a little olive oil for cooking, 2 cups of veggies.  I find it difficult to actually eat all of this food, but I try.
  • And 2 hours after dinner we have another protein product.  We almost always have a shake.
The food comes in different types.  There are shakes, puddings, bars, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, "puffs," nuts, and "curls."  The puffs and curls are kind of like chips.  I like eating them with my salads.  They come in flavors like salt and vinegar or barbecue...others as well.

Almost all of the food has been good.  There are a couple of flavors that we haven't found appealing (lemon and banana come to mind) but most have been enjoyable.

We also take a bevvy of nutritional supplements.  We need to keep our salt and potassium levels up.  Magnesium assists in weight loss.  Calcium supplements are required because we are not eating dairy.


I want to say that when I found out how the diet worked, and how restrictive my eating was going to be, I almost walked out of our first session with the doctor.  I thought "there's no way I'm going to be able to do this."  But, I had had to work very hard to convince David to try this, so I knew walking out wasn't going to work...and that I'd tried every other diet imaginable and found them all lacking for one reason or another.  So, I had to give it a try.

And let me tell you that within a week, I felt like a new person.  I had an energy and vitality that I hadn't had in a long long time.  I felt in control of my eating and motivated to try new things.  I was excited about my real food--ate with gusto when it was time.  AND I discovered that I could be hungry without going crazy, craving sugar and wanting to bite someone's head off.

Within two weeks, the thought of sweets or anything sugary disgusted me.  I was feeling even better, even more motivated, and truly getting the hang of the diet.  I'd learned to live with being hungry (and yes, I'm hungry...right now I'm hungry!  And it's only 9:30 and I have to wait until noon to eat, but I'll survive).  And I'd learned that all along, I had been poisoning myself, slowly, with sugar and white flour and other processed foods.  My skin was glowing and my blood pressure had dropped (it's holding a steady 100/60 or lower now).  I can't tell you how completely life changing this has been.

For both me and David.  It's so wonderful to wake up every day knowing that I'm now in control of my food intake, and that I know how to control it for the rest of my life.  Even though the diet is very low calorie, I want to stay on it forever. I know that we'll phase into eating all regular foods before long, and sometimes that scares the devil out of me, but most of the time I'm simply excited about it.  I'm excited to get to my goal weight--and know that it'll happen.  I'm excited about the changes that I've made, but mostly I'm excited about how these changes have made me feel.


And without a doubt I can tell you that one of the prayers, wishes, hopes and dreams that I'd held all my life has finally been answered: I no longer want to eat sweets. I no longer crave them.  They no longer consume me mentally nor do they control my life.  I will never eat sweets again, and that makes me happy.  At one point in my life that would have made me sad, but it makes me happy.  I'm excited thinking about how I'm going to transform birthday and holiday celebrations to be about the person or event and not the food.  It's all such a wonderful thing. 

And it feels perfectly and wonderfully normal.  Life changing indeed!


Today's picture is of me and David from Sunday.  Week 15 into the diet and we've lost 50 (me) and 75 (him) pounds.  Astounding.  And we are very very proud!

Monday, July 1, 2013

What's a weekend for anyway?

The past two weekends have been glorious to me.  I've relaxed, slept (kind of) late, and knitted and knitted and knitted.  I still have so many things backlogged to show you (completed projects from last weekend) and then I started all these new and really fun projects this weekend...I'm going to have to break my "one photo a day" rule and just show off a little bit.

(p.s. I don't have photos of the two finished scarves from last weekend.  They still need to be soaked and "finished"...but I can show you the rest!).

SO, on Thursday night I sat down and finished the baby blanket.  I blocked it on Friday.  It's just gorgeous.

Then on Friday I started a new little monster.  I'm calling it the "calico" monster, though I'm thinking her name might be Gabrielle...not entirely sure yet.  I'm using the yarn from the first hat I ever made (that was too big). She's going to be an adorable monster.

Saturday found me wanting to start a new shawl.  I love Noro yarns, and I love the way the stripes form in the was fun getting it started, and I can't wait to wear it.

And if that weren't enough, yesterday I started some mitts...the pattern is called "Snow Queen" but the yarn is in a colorway called "Spring Garden"...which means that these mitts are definitely going to be called "Spring Garden Mitts."  It's part of my desire to use the striping sock yarn I get in my yarn of the month club as something different than socks ALL of the time.  These are going to be some fun and bright and cheery mitts!

And that's it...if it had been a longer weekend, I probably would have started another new project!  I made good progress on the cabin socks.  I have the first one completed and the second one is to the foot.    They will definitely be warm and cozy socks come winter!  I also pulled out my block-a-day blanket and started working on it again now that the baby blanket is finished.

THAT, in case you're wondering, is what a weekend is for...doing things you love and enjoying the company of those you love.  Heaven!