Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dish Cloths

I have discovered knitting dish cloths.  During this busy, stressful time, I can't tell you how satisfying it is to knit dish cloths.  I would never have thought it, but there it is.  A humble cleaning cloth (because these could easily also be used as bath cloths) can be very satisfying and meet all my knitting needs right now.

I have made several over the past week.  They were perfect for sitting in the hospital.  I could throw them in a zip loc bag, tote them upstairs, work on them while I chatted or watched tv with Daddy and then tote them back down stairs when it was David's turn to come up.

ELNS asked where I got patterns and what yarn I'm using.  So, here's the low-down.

As part of my mental therapy getting ready for the long days in the hospital I spent days going through all the free dish cloth patterns on Ravelry.  I printed anything that looked interesting or wasn't a duplicate from ones I'd already printed.

Then I contacted Jimmy Beans Wool and asked them to recommend some dish cloth yarn.  They recommended Rowan Hand Knit 100% cotton.  I made one cloth from it and it was wonderful.  I'm glad I bought several balls so that I can make some more.  I bought pretty colors too.

I also did a little stash diving and pulled out anything that was 100% cotton and didn't look to "fancy" (i.e. would be better suited price-wise and look to be a scarf or sweater or something).  I used K1C2's Ty-Dy 100% cotton.  I think it might be a little soft, but the ball was huge and I got most of the dresses I made from it.  I love that it variegated in long strips from green to orange, so I have some really interesting dresses made from that yarn.

Finally, I shopped at Hobby Lobby, Michael's and a few other stores like that to get some readily available 100% cotton yarn.  The most available is Lily's Sugar and Cream, which is really nice and squishy and a super-great price.

While doing one pattern, I noticed the ad for another book in the upper corner of the print out.  I got on and bought that one.  I also shopped at Hobby Lobby and saw some great booklets and purchased a couple of those.  Dish cloth patterns abound...and once you get the hang of it you can always just make up your own pattern.

A few things that I think are important...garter or seed stitch edges to keep it straight.  Something interesting enough in the "middle" to keep you knitting...though total garter stitch really isn't bad.  Using wood needles is really important for most of these yarns, though I think the Sugar and Cream could tolerate metal.

And finally, just "wing it" sometimes.  I just knitted until it looked like the right size.  I figure I can't go too wrong with these things as they'll mostly be cleaning dishes or bodies or faces.

Today's picture is of the green cloth I'm working on right now.  I'm alternating 4 rows of stockinette with 4 rows of seed stitch in the middle and have a garter stitch border. I cast on 41 stitches, knit 10 rows in garter, and have 5 stitches on each end in garter.  It's pretty mindless, quick, and shows off this yarn (which I think it probably better suited to a blanket than a cloth, and may be making blocks from this yarn since I have several cones of it)...

And see...there's another benefit of going crazy knitting all these dish cloths.  In a pinch, you can put them together and make a perfect baby blanket!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back Home

Thanks, all, for your patience while I was with my parents during my father's surgery.  Things look to have gone well.

It was an exhausting week, though.  I did get a lot of knitting done...a hat for my dad, a hat and cowl for me, several dish cloths and another set of "stuff" that I'm going to give as quilt bee gifts.

I did NOT pull out one single sock, but I made progress on my neon scarf as well as my color affection.

I hope this week looks good for everyone.  I'll have pictures to post eventually.  For now, I wanted to let you know that things went along, and that I got a lot of knitting done...

...and that I LOVE knitting dish cloths.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The right tools for the job

I think it's super important to have the right tools for the job.  For instance, trying to pull steamed cauliflower out of the steamer basket with a fork usually ends up in a mess.  David uses tongs, but I prefer a large spoon.  Mine and David's definition of the "right tool" is usually quite different...and comical when we start discussing why one tool is better than another.

Knitting needles work in the same way.  Have the wrong tip or the wrong finish and your project will be more chore than pleasure.  I have two instances where this has been brought home recently.

I'm knitting dish cloths at the office during lunch.  I brought the only size 7 tips I could find (My Addi Turbo 16" circular) and the only size 5 I could find (my Knitter's Pride Harmony interchangeable tips).  I knit my first dish-cloth using the Harmony tips.  It was like working with the exact right thing.  It went quickly and smoothly and happily.

The second dish cloth I started using the size 7 tips...and oh my.  These were too fast, too slippery and not the right tips for the job at all.  I only have the Harmony wood tips (and forgot to bring my size 7s to interchange to work today!).  But this hasn't been the most fun thing to make because the tool is the wrong tool.  I'll get it figured out, but in the meantime, i.e. during lunch today, I'll be knitting on "ice."

This got me to thinking when I was working on mom's socks this weekend.  I'm using my signatures, which I love.  I love the finish on them, which is just clingy enough to hold onto the yarn, but also slippery enough to be a fast knit.  The tips, however, are called "stiletto"...and for a reason.  They'd easily poke your eyes out and I'm fairly confident that they wouldn't pass TSA security.  These tips were the problem.  The Louet Gems yarn that I'm using is a 4 ply merino which means that the plies are pretty skinny since it's a fingering weight yarn.  It also means that because there are 4 plies that they push against each other and create a rather rounded yarn that splits easily with stiletto tips.  I decided on Saturday morning to switch out my Signatures for the Cubics that I have and it was like using a spoon to get my cauliflower out of the steamer basket instead of a fork.  My stitches were flying, I was no longer getting little snags...and I knit several inches on those socks in just a couple of days.

Exactly what I needed.  Happy progress!

Today's picture is of the progress I've made so far on Blish.  I am really enjoying working on this project.  It's big enough that I know I'll be working on it a while and has filled the void that was the Noro afghan.'s looking pretty awesome, don't you think.  And probably most importantly right now, it's not difficult. Only one row where I have to remember to do the cable twist, and everything else (until I get something like 406 stitches!) is just increase row, plain row.  The hardest part at this point will be to remember entering the row counts into my KnitMinder.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's finished

...and I have to admit I feel a little a loss of which project to focus on next.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some Advice Please

So, as you know I had some Awful News a few weeks ago...and now the Awful News will result in several days of hospital waiting time.  And I need projects.  Easy things that I can knit without having to do too much thinking but that can be beautiful and distracting all at the same time.  Advice? (links to the Ravelry page in the comments would be great).

I'm planning to take some socks I have in progress.  The Color Affection Shawl is really quite perfect for mindless, addictive knitting, so that will also be in the bag.  I've been working on some dish cloths for Christmas gifts, so that will be in the bag.

Which, when you really stop and think about it, is probably more than enough knitting for 10 days.  But that little word "probably" causes me issues.  What if it isn't.  What if I finish everything, get bored, or something else just as awful?

Because I know that laughter is the best medicine, I'm showing you a picture of Zora wrapped in bubble wrap.  She did this all by herself, btw.  She can be a very funny cat when she chooses.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The tipping point

...there's a pun in that title...let's see if you can figure it out.

I reached a tipping point in my knitting last night.  A critical spot at which I have to stop and say "either you finish up some projects or rip them out...or steal needles from them...because you can't buy more needles"...

Yep, I started ANOTHER new project last night. It's Blish which is a free pattern from Berroco.  I saw it and I loved it and knew that it was THE thing I needed to make for my new body.  I've been wanting a poncho and I think that this one is super cute.  Tailored and comfy looking. And won't pay much attention to whether I lose another 30 or so pounds...

I'm using some Malabrigo Rios yarn which is so gorgeous and soft.  I had originally started to knit a sweater out of the yarn but ripped it out when I started losing weight.

I also figured out that I'd been using the wrong set of needles for the hat that I'm making.  I found this out because the tips that I needed for the poncho were not in the hat like they should have been...they were in the bag.  I'm going to have to take the live stitches and put them on waste yarn and try on what's completed of the hat so far to determine if I'm going to have to rip that back or not...

(Trouble, I tell you...I have trouble...and I can't tell if the mistake I made is because I'm tired at night and not paying close attention or if I made the mistake because I can't see well and thought the size 4 needles was actually a size 5...Now, I HAVE glasses, but I hate wearing them.  Oh, the woes.)

Today I want to share a pic of Harold in his new home.  Yep, that's the shelf labeled "food" in David's office.  He looks pretty happy to be among books about food.  I think he'll probably spend a lot of time reading those books when David isn't around.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The long way around

There is joy in taking the long way around...I'm trying to convince myself that this is true.  The long way around will get you beautiful scenery.  You'll appreciate the effort it took to get there.  The long way around holds promise of great things to come and experiences to be had.

Because I know you've been missing it, here is a picture of the Noro afghan...

It's a nice big afghan...and very heavy.  I put it on my lap and let it all spread out and then I proceed to knit very long rows.

I find that my motions are very exaggerated when I'm knitting these long rows.  I find that it is very hard to hold up the weight of the portion of the blanket I'm working on.  My back and shoulders are definitely getting a work out.  For that reason, I'm only working on it 30 minutes per day.

And while I know I'm making progress, knitting the border of a blanket is definitely "the long way around."  I have 2 done, 1 about 1/3 finished and another side left.  I'm thinking maybe next weekend?  Then it'll get a nice soak and some warm sudsy water to soften everything up and it'll be a wonderful addition to my living room...

...and what this "long way around" is accomplishing is a framing of some other gorgeous work.  The blocks feel settled and all nestled together.  They feel complete.  It's definitely the right thing to do even if it feels like it will go on forever.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2 finished, 3 started

When David came home from his work-trip on Sunday morning he asked the ridiculous question, "how many projects do you have going anyway?"

I mean really?  Why ask that question. I  have a basket full of project bags sitting beside my place on the couch.  There are 2 shelves of project bags in my studio and a work table full of grouped yarns just waiting to be cast on (most of the time they're waiting on needles, but I'm not going to go there because that might inspire me to buy more needles, and I am NOT buying more needles just so I can start more projects!)

So, today, in the spirit of bragging, I will show you the two projects that I finished.  The first is a buttoned cowl.  It was intended to be a scarf, but I really didn't enjoy working on it.  As I was looking at the project bag on the shelf, I thought, "I just need to see how long it is and see if I can finish it off into a cowl," and guess what!  It's perfect!  See (and please ignore the messy hair...It was Saturday morning, early...and I was home alone...

I like the buttons...I think they are perfect with all the bright color right there at the ends.

As I was looking at the skein and a half that I had left, I thought "what could I make with that besides another cowl or a monster?" and it dawned on me that a matching hat would be just the thing, so I pulled out my book "Weekend Hats" and looked through for a worsted weight pattern, found one that I think will look good with all the long-color stripes and cast on.  (I needed 5 sets of needles for this thing and I'm happy to report that I did NOT have to steal ANY of them from another project).  The hat is pretty far along, and I'll post a picture of it when I'm finished.


Then I looked at Harold who has been sitting next to me on the couch for 2 weeks while I worked feverishly on the Noro blanket...with only one arm...and I told him I'd go ahead an finish that arm...and approximately 45 minutes later, Harold was finished.  Wow...2 finished projects and it wasn't even 10am!  woohoo!  Here is Harold sitting with Zora.  She isn't pleased.
In fact, she avoided sitting on that chair until Harold got taken away from it.  David has taken Harold to be his office monster.  I'll have a picture of him in his new home soon.

So, of course it was time to cast on for another monster.  I totally ignored the fact that I'm only supposed to work on monsters 30 minutes per day to preserve my thumb joint.  This was a different monster in different sized needles...and  I've been dying to knit a P monster to go with my Z monster (this one will be Pearl).  I'd bought 2 different yarns trying to decide which was best, and I went with the Blue Moon Fiber Arts' BFL Sport--mostly for the size of the yarn, but also because it had enough orange in it, and bright orange at that, to be more like Pearl.  As usual with these little critters, it's all I can do to limit my knitting on them.  She'll be absolutely adorable, but I don't have a picture yet because all she is so far is a tube.  Soon, though, personality will come through.


And finally, on Saturday afternoon, I decided to pay attention to that little bit of my brain that has been thinking about the Color Affection Shawl and picked out the yarn for it.  I don't know how it all happened, but the Satakieli yarn that I attempted to make mittens from (remember this) told me that it would make a really pretty Color Affection, or two, and that I needed to go ahead and buy the pattern and get it started because it would be a great travel project and it would be gorgeous and all that other stuff that yarn does to convince you that it needs to be cast on right at this very moment.  So, I cast on the blue as my main color and picked out the two oranges to be the contrasting colors and cast on.  I made it through the first section and started the first striping last night.  It's going to be gorgeous and cozy and all kinds of wonderful.

I can't tell you how much I like this yarn better than when I was working on the mitts.  This yarn is so squishy and soft and I can tell that once it's washed it's going to bloom and become all kinds of gorgeous and even softer.  It knits up very easily and quickly and the color is very true and rich.

So, now that I have bitten the Color Affection bug, I have already decided that the other two skeins of this yarn are going to make another CA...and maybe I could get three or four of them depending on how much of the yarn I have left when I'm finished with this one.  I thought about combining it with others of the sock yarn that I have in my stash.  This has started to get a little out of control, but I understand that's what happens with a CA...I'll keep you posted on where things go with it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Home Alone

I like being alone.  I like being able to stop and think and talk to myself (yes, out loud).  I like (sort of) simple meals, simple clean-up and unhurried "getting things done."

I like being able to watch what I want on tv.

I like not being interrupted 300 times...

But I do miss having someone to talk to, to give me hugs and tell me things are going to be tell me that it's ok if I'm tired and weary, that they'll take care of things.

I guess I miss being pampered a bit :)

After a few days I really enjoy having all my people back around, but for now, I'm reveling in being alone, being able to do what I need and just relaxing and being quiet.  My mind clearly has needed time to process and think through everything.

My hands have needed to knit.

Clearly, last night, I needed to sleep.  I slept almost straight through the night.  That's something for me.

Today's picture is of the baby ensemble I finished up a while ago.  I loved working on this project and kind of wish there were more babies around me to knit for.  Tiny projects knit up quickly and then they're just so darn cute!  The booties were my favorite, though the sweater is pretty sweet...and of course that little cap.  This was all knit with one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy yarn.  The color is called Flamingo Pie.  If you've never tried it, Smooshy is lives up to its name, the colors are gorgeous, and the feel of the yarn is so soft.  The hardest part is taking the skein and winding it into a ball because you just want to sit and "smoosh" on it.  I had a tiny tiny bit left of the one skein, and then a whole other skein (because the pattern said I'd need two)...guess who will have some Flamingo Pie socks someday???

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Last night I admitted my limitations...and I cried

I'm not sure that the admission and the crying are related...I'm not sure that they're not.  But here's how the evening basically went.

I got home from work weary, tired and a little defeated.  Financial news isn't great, but it isn't terrible, and I do keep reminding myself that I'm a very fortunate person with a decent job, a good car, a good house, and I'm living in a place where it's pretty cheap and doesn't get terribly cold in the winter.

The fact that the "big vacation" I'd been dreaming about for days was not going to happen...well, that made me feel a tad petulant.  As things like that typically do.

After calming down and then playing with Pearl--Pearl always needs attention when I get home, and I'm not sure how one denies this face the love and attention she needs.

Then I had leftovers for dinner and settled in to watch some knitting videos while working on the sock-yarn blanket (2 squares last night since I didn't knit on Tuesday).  Then I worked on the Noro afghan.  This is when I admitted my limitations.

I so desperately want this blanket finished.  It's so gorgeous and beautiful and meaningful to me.  And it's something that I'm making just for me.  It's something that has thoroughly captivated me for the past 3 months.  Plus, with cooler weather promising to get here in the next week, I need something to warm my toes and encourage kitties to sit in my lap. limitations are physical, not mental.  It is physically exhausting knitting on long rows of a large lap blanket that weighs approximately 5 pounds (or more...I should weigh it when it's finished and find out).  Thirty minutes and that's it.

So, I admitted my limitations and decided it was time I got back to working on Mom's Christmas socks, which I have to admit I'm not sure I'm crazy about, but that's another blog and a few days away from becoming a certainty.  I knitted until around 9:30 when I went to bed.

I laid down, put my head on the pillow and thought about my gratitude. Yesterday I was grateful that I had been fortunate enough to have such wonderful parents.  And then I cried.  I've needed to cry. I haven't since the Awful News came last week. Not really.  But last night I did.  I feared I was going to get myself into a fit, but I managed to cry it out and eventually fall asleep.  I woke again at 3 and cried some more.

Today I feel kind of "washed up."  When I think back on this year...since February it's been a string of awful news...I'm not sure how I'm keeping I'm not depressed.  How I'm managing not to eat my miseries away I don't know.  But somehow I'm keeping on, head held high.  I'm losing weight and getting compliments almost every day. I'm still laughing at jokes and smiling at people and finding things each day to be grateful for.  I'm low-key today...fighting the urge to hole up in my office and hide for a while (I'll do that at lunch)...I'm finding that despite my limitations I'm an incredibly resilient person.  I've never really thought of myself that way, but I do now.