Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A Riot of Purple

When I was in fourth grade my Mom bought me a ginormous bag of new school clothes. 

Every single item was purple.

Which was AWESOME! 

Because purple was my favorite color.

I have a feeling Sweet Pea would have approved


She too is a fan of dressing like a grape.  (and she's in fourth grade!  Maybe it's the age?)

Both her hat and her sweater were made by me.  But really I'm just show off what a cutie my fourth child is.


The hat pattern is "Goblin Hat."  I have no further details about this hat.  I have no idea how I even found the pattern.  It took me ten minutes of ravelry searching to find the pattern today so I could link it. I'm glad I found it.  It's really cute and I'd love to knit twelve more.  I think the yarn was the rejected yarn from this project.  But I couldn't swear to it.  I probably used size 6 needles for the whole hat.  But I'm just guessing.  I might have pulled out size 8 dpns for this but who knows.

I really am the worst blogger.

The sweater


The pattern was Little Boxy, by Joji Locatelli.  She's one of my favorite designers.  And I knit her grown up version of this sweater  last year  at some point in my life.  This was knit with Knit Picks Stroll Tonal Sock Yarn.  I used a skein and the left over bits and bobs from my Step Mommy's sweater.  If you look you can see where the two different dye lots are clashing.  It's all good.  It's another subtle homage to the 80's color block sweater.


The construction of Joji's sweaters is always a little more complex than your average raglan sweater, but I love the combinations of textures here, the rolled collar, the garter stitch at the shoulder, the smooth stockinette of the body. 

The Queen was very concerned that Sweet Pea look her best in these photos.


She appointed herself Sweet Pea's personal stylist, and made sure the sweater laid just so in each picture.



She did a good job.

Monday, December 04, 2017

It's Story Time!

We haven't had a good disaster story around here in a while.  It seems time for things to go horribly wrong.

See this beautiful throw


I test knit that for KnitPicks.  (It's now a free pattern available here)  Photo credit for this goes to KnitPicks because my finished project photo looked like this.


Why yes, I do still block my stuff on garbage bags.  Probably the exact same garbage bags I used twelve years ago when I first discovered what blocking was.

When I test knit for KnitPicks I have to knit a gauge swatch.


Turns out I only knit gauge swatches if I'm getting paid to.  Otherwise I like to live dangerously. 

The path from humble lowly gauge swatch to finished throw started out smoothly enough.


The designer also has five children and she likes to design patterns that are easily memorized but with just enough change to keep it interesting.  She achieved her goals with this one.  You had to pay a little attention to what you're doing but not too much.  It is perfect tv knitting.

And when it got big enough you could snuggle under it while you knit.


I knit this while marathoning Quantico.  Season one was better than season two (which explains why there wasn't a season three).

But I wasn't the only one in the house who loved this blanket


Pumpkin LOVED this blanket.

I don't know if it was the color, or the yarn itself (it was knit with Mighty Stitch Bulky which is super soft and smooshy) or if it just smelled so much like me she couldn't resist loving it.  But seriously, I could not keep her away from it.


Side note, when we did the big furniture change downstairs we upgraded my knitting chair.


The otter man opens for knitting storage!  How awesome is that!

But this is neither here nor there.  Back to the cat.

So Pumpkin loved the big grey blanket.  And the morning I was to block it I took this picture for Knitpicks.


Then I ran down stairs to grab my wool wash to soak it in.  And when I returned I discovered Pumpkin not only on the blanket, but doing that weird nursing/pawing thing cats do sometimes.

And while she was doing that weird nursing/pawing thing she did this.


It is hard to see from the way I was holding it in the picture, but she pulled out that loop, and it was broken.  She chewed through the yarn.  And that's not a third of the way from the top of the blanket.  That's a third of the way from the bottom.

And I realized as I pulled out my contracts that the blanket was not due the next week like I thought.  It was actually due in the Knitpicks offices THAT SAME DAY!  I have never missed a deadline and it felt terrible to miss this one. 

And there was nothing to be done but frog it back down to the bad spot, take it out, and reknit the top two thirds of the blanket.

Which I did.

In two days.

Sometimes I'm a crazy fast knitter.

Or maybe I'm just crazy.

That could be it too.

I told my little brother that she's lucky she's such a nice cat with lots of redeeming qualities or I wouldn't put up with her nonsense.   He laughed and asked "the nonsense of her being a cat?"  Yes, exactly.  If she weren't such an awesome cat I wouldn't put up with her being a cat.

And that's the story of the grey blanket.

Go forth and knit one of your very own.

And keep it away from Pumpkin.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

It's Been A Long Time

Hello Blog.

As I told my group chat girls "There is no knitting.  There is only me strumming my guitar.  Badly."

And while that's a little bit of an exaggeration.

There is a whole lot of truth to it as well.

Which isn't to say that I can play guitar yet.  My chord changes are abysmally slow.  Bar chords are still an emerging skill.  But I am enjoying relearning music theory as it pertains to the guitar strings/frets.  Way back in the dark ages before the dawn of man I was a music major in college.  I was a vocalist who also dabbled in piano (the official term for my keyboard skills was "proficient", which isn't to say I was good, but I was passable at the basics).   All those long forgotten lectures on music theory and "using all the crayons in the crayon box" are starting to resurface, as is my love for music.  It was always there, the need for music in my life.  But I'd forgotten how much I love not just to listen to music, but to MAKE music.  It feels good.

And I got a new guitar.



I know.  I don't NEED two guitars.  But we wandered into the guitar store and there it was.  So beautifully blue I couldn't resist.  It is my favorite shade of blue and it matches my favorite nail polish (that I happened to be wearing that day).  It was love at first sight. The Greatest immediately bought it for me calling it my birthday present.  But even if my birthday hadn't been right around the corner he would have bought it for me.  My birthday was just a convenient excuse to spoil me.  He really is The Greatest!

So I returned the favor and bought him an upgraded guitar for his birthday.



Our music room now looks like this.



Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (also known as GAS) is real.

On the knitting front there has been knitting.

Unfortunately it is all Knit Picks knitting.  So I can't talk about it until the test knits are published.  Fortunately for me they recently released their "Merry Knitmas" collection and I can show you one of my favorite test knits ever.



Look how flipping cute that is!  I knit that pillow.

Here it is modeled less artistically on my knitting chair.



I loved knitting it.  I have to admit I looked at the chart and felt a little overwhelmed but once I got in to the rhythm of it it was very fun to knit.

I tried very hard to convince my contact at Knit Picks to send the pillow back to me when they were done with it.  I'm just so enamored with the rows upon rows of gnome-ish Santas.

But they weren't going for it.

I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and buy yarn to knit two (or three, or maybe four) for my house.

That's really going to eat into my guitar practice time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Juggling All The Balls

To say I've been busy is an understatement.

I'm in that stage of Motherhood where my days are full of stuff that needs done TODAY, yet at the end of the day I somehow feel I haven't gotten anything done.

I'm still consistently attempting to learn to play the guitar.

And I've got the blisters and baby callouses to prove it.


The Greatest is obsessed with home improvement/renovation shows right now.  The other night we were watching one where two brothers create ridiculous projects every month.  Like a floating hot tub.  Or a floating fire pit/stage.  Their cottage is on a lake. They make a lot of floating projects.  But on the floating fire pit episode at the end of the episode these idiot pull out two guitars and just start busting out flawless chords.  I turned to The Greatest and asked him "Is it just me or does it seem like everyone can play guitar except us?"  He agreed.  We suck.  I'm really feeling this meme


But I can play "Twinkle Twinkly Little Star" and "The Alphabet Song" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep."

So I've got that going for me.

And today I had a breakthrough and I think I've mastered the D major chord.  So now I can play "3 Little Birds."

That was a pretty thrilling moment for me as well.

I've given in and turned the bottom half of the hutch in the music room


into toy storage.

The tiny Queen was always pulling out the things I stored in there anyways.  And now I can watch her cause mayhem and destruction while I serenade her with nursery rhymes.

This child is always getting serenaded


She has no idea how truly spoiled she is.

Last week she had to have outpatient surgery to remove a broken tooth.


A simple extraction turned into an extraction, two crowns, and five fillings.

But at least now her mouth doesn't hurt.

And in the midst of surgeries, and learning guitar, and unf*cking the house, and chauffeuring children to sports, and checking home work, and keeping the kids fed and for the love of all that is good did everyone brush their teeth before bed?!!!!...

There is knitting.

I'm a teensy bit obsessed with the designs by Andrea Mowry.  I've knit the Find Your Fade Shawl (twice) as well as her Boho Blush Shawl (which is still waiting for blocking/fringe).  I have big plans to knit a Kingston Tunic someday.  For now I am knitting a FunFunFun Shawl.

I wanted to copy the colors of her original shawl


But sometimes you have to go with what is available at your local craft store.



So my shawl looks more like FunFunFun's goth older cousin.

But it's all good.

Or at least it was until I ran out of yarn.

Looks like I'll have to add "Run to the craft store" to the list of things have HAVE to be done tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Change All The Things!

So it turns out when your fingers are blistered and bleeding because you are so metal playing your guitar it also hurts to knit.

Suck monkey.

Good thing I'm using super soft yarn on really big needles.  I found a way to make it work without gripping the needles too much.

Unfortunately my project with super soft yarn on really big needles is a Knit Picks test knit.  So no pictures allowed until after it is published.  That makes for a rather boring knitting blog doesn't it.

In other life news I didn't do my spring cleaning.

I thought about doing it.  I talked about doing it.  If I spent as much time working as I did thinking about working it would have been done.  Only I just didn't do it.  I thought to myself "Self, lets wait until summer break and then the kids can help."  And I replied to myself "Self, that is a really smart idea.  Let's wait.  It will get done faster with more people working.  Plus they live here too.  They can help."

Only that did not happen.

We decided not to ruin summer break with spring cleaning.  We were too busy swimming, and making bath bombs, and being lazy slugs.

So I sat back and kept thinking.  We moved into our house nine years ago and our house no longer works for us.  Our family is a much different family than we were nine years ago.  We have teenagers, and an extra kid.  We have different needs and responsibilities.  We use the spaces differently than we did nine years ago.  Only for the most part our house is still configured the same way it was when we moved in.

And it isn't working for us anymore.  And if I'm being honest things are a bit of a mess.  And by mess I mean a disaster of epic proportions.  Things attack you when you open cabinets.  Our former baby proofing is no longer effective.  Dangerous chemicals (and everything else we don't want the Queen to mess with) are stashed every high place we can find.  Everywhere I look things are crammed and cramped and in some places unnecessarily complicated.

I've really been thinking about the spaces and storage and how to make things work more effectively for us.

This project sucks.  It is a very grown up management project.  And not exactly an inexpensive project in some cases.

But it must be done.

First up, we turned our rarely used front room into a music room.

We took this big monstrosity of a couch no one uses



and created this cozy corner perfect for strumming guitars instead.




Where the piano formerly sat


Is now a cozy readying spot


Yup. I just used the word cozy twice.  I'm really striving for a hygge feeling in my home.  Also I finally got a new couch and it's making my soul so happy to have the big sectional gone, replaced with a nubby comfy couch.

The piano has returned to the inner wall where it belongs.  Every piece of furniture in the room has been dusted.  Every inch of floor has been scrubbed.  This room is "Mommy clean."  I may never let the children set foot in this room again.

There is still work to do.  The way the hutch is being utilized for storage needs reconfigured.  The yarn cabinet is a complete mess


Half the lights aren't working for the love of all that's good.

And I'm rethinking the way we are baby proofing the front door.  The wall of gate may still be our best option, but I'd like to explore some other ideas.

But all this is a good first step.  The Queen is reliably sleeping through the night.  After three years of chronic sleep deprivation I am starting to feel like me.  And I'd like to return to the homemaker I used to be.

As soon as I finish practicing my guitar.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A New Adventure

I have to confess:  There hasn't been any knitting these past few day.

This happened instead



Isn't she beautiful!

Can I play guitar?

No.

No I most definitely can not.

But I'm hopeful.  Once upon a time I didn't know how to knit.  And look at me now!

"They" say it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill.  And we all know "they" are always right.

I'm willing to do the work and learn.   10,000 hours?  It might take me two decades, but I got this.  I can do this.  I even cut my nails ridiculously short for this.  You know I'm serious when I deliberately cut my nails crazy short.  I've spent a life time trying to grow them long.  But if I want to be a Guitar Goddess sacrifices must be made.

I've practiced so much over the last few days that my poor fingers are literally blistered and bleeding.  My pampered fingers are accustomed to dealing with smooshy soft merino wool.  And silky smooth wool blends.  And even cotton or linen is softer than a steel guitar sting.  They are used to being treated gently, so as not to cause a callous or break a nail.  I even wear gloves to clean.  They are not used to this sort of abuse.

I am not exaggerating when I say I had to stop practicing today because my finger was bleeding on the low E string.

I am so metal.

I showed the Queen my bleeding finger and explained to her how metal and hardcore this makes me.

She was unimpressed.

I guess everyone's a critic.

And just to make it extra fun


The Greatest is learning to play too.

I'm trying hard not to hate him because he is already better than me.

We have very different approaches to learning.  He watched a video and has been very focused on practicing his finger exercises.  He is very precise in what he does.

I stumble my way through the finger exercises (badly), then I try my hand at a few cords (badly), then I practice individual notes from a guitar book (badly), then I go back to my finger exercises (The Greatest has been focused on his finger exercises this entire time).  I flit around doing stuff that feels fun while trying to keep good form as I go.

And this is the perfect description of us.  He is so precise and meticulous in all he does.  And I just kinda throw myself in and roll around with it.

My fingers are blistered and bleeding.

His aren't.

I'm making no judgement calls on who is doing it right and or who better in their approach (although he's already better than me, so maybe I do know which approach is better and what I SHOULD be doing).

But I'm definitely more metal than he is.

And that's all that matters.

I'm about five hours in.

Only 9,995 to go.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tangible Hugs

Some of you might recall that the Find Your Fade shawl I showcased yesterday was not my first attempt at a Find Your Fade.

I knit this one first.


Oh how I LOVED this shawl.


It was ginormous.  I think this one came out larger than my second one.  I have no earthly idea why.  It was knit with similar yarn (in a few cases the same yarn) on the same needles, with the same stitch count, by the same knitter.

And yet this one came out slightly larger, and dare I say it, slightly more awesome.


I think the fades in this shawl where executed better than in the second one.  I really took the time to think about how the yarns were going to blend.  This wasn't just a fun flight of fancy shawl.

I wanted this shawl to be BEAUTIFUL!

No, I NEEDED this shawl to be BEAUTIFUL!

I didn't knit this shawl for me.  I created it for someone I love dearly.  Someone I don't get to hug nearly as often as I need to.  So I sent her a tangible hug to wrap around herself when ever she needs to feel loved.

Or when she gets cold.

She can also wrap it around herself when she gets cold.

That's cool too...

And unfortunately those three pictures are all the pictures I have of the finished item. It was gorgeous and I hope it is happy in its new home.