Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Reluctant Socks

Anastasia Socks

Pattern: Anastasia Socks

Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, 2 Hanks

Needles: 2.25 DPN

Modifications: Not really a modification, but I usually do my socks on two circular needles, and I knit these one at a time on DPNs.

Review: This sock pattern is flawless. The following rant is about user error and is in no way a reflection of the Anastasia pattern or it's designer.

Poor Socks

I hate these socks.

Why didn't I listen to the yarn?

This yarn was so expensive and special I really wanted it to be a nice pair of socks. I bought it to make socks, and come hell or high water it was going to be socks. So I've got a pair of socks. But we all realized atleast one sock attempt ago, possibly two, that this yarn did not want to be a pair of socks. What it really wanted to be I guess we'll never know. I refused to listen to the yarn.

And now I have a perfectly pleasant pair of socks, but they're not spectacular. They aren't what the yarn was meant to be. They're not the full potential of what the yarn could be. They are a mediocre pair of socks. Ill-fitting. Not doing justice to the color or the stitch pattern (which I think is clever, by changing the ssk to a k2tog the sock spirals become complimentary mirror images.) I enjoyed this pattern, but I made a fatal error in yarn choice.

Such wasted potential

I vow to always listen to my yarn.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

All Hail Zonda!

Oh I've been sick. Between the three day migraine I got last week, and the head cold that has taken up residence in my body I am pretty miserable. But I've got a bit of knitting done. (You don't think I rested in bed for three days without knitting do you?)

First things first I must thank my Cheap Ass Secret Pal Zonda. She was a great secret pal! Check out the loot from my final package.

Watermelon goodness

Cute project bag she made herself.

felting potential

Deep purple wool, and a pattern for the felted Sophie Bag. I'm going to have to get some large needles for this pattern so I can try my hand at felting. I've never felted anything on purpose (there was my roommate's sweater back in college, but we swore never to speak of it again), I'd like to see how it goes.

So pink it can make you sick with it's sweetness

Pink Cotton Ease with a pattern for a little girl's tank top. See how thoughtful she is. She included patterns so I don't have to worry about what to use the yarn for. And I think I love this yarn. It's very spongy/springy yarn. Soft and fun.

Swallowtail Shawl here I come

And this is some yummy bunny soft Misti Alpaca Lace yarn. Somehow this woman consistently reads my mind. The latest issue of Interweave Knits had a shawl pattern in it, the Swallowtail Shawl. I wasn't that interested in knitting this shawl until I saw this version last week. Then I started to think maybe it should be added to my must knit list. And voila the very yarn used in the pattern appears at my door. So this skein is a future Swallowtail Shawl.

SP Goodness

All the other loot: pattern, mint tea, fun post-its, sweater storage bags, needle sweaters, a bath pack, and a ball of Cascade Fixation, my new favorite sock yarn. I can't decide if I want to use it to make Meaty some socks, it is blue after all, and I rarely knit for him, poor boy, he really is the happiest recipient I have, I should knit for him more, or if I want to use it to make socks for me, but I'm afraid one ball might not be enough for my monster feet, so maybe I should make another Mon Petite Chou hipster, because those really are comfy. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll figure it out before my head explodes.

There was also some candy, but that didn't survive long enough to be photographed. What can I say? It takes 15 minutes to charge the batteries for my camera, and I have little will power.

Thanks Zonda, you made this the best ever Cheap Ass Secret Pal!!!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Catchy jingles will tell you the most wonderful time of the year is Christmas.

And yes, Christmas is a wonderful time. What's not to love about tree with fairy lights, and breakable ornaments. Stores playing the same three songs on an endless loop. And the look on your children's faces when they see that Santa has indeed come. It is a wonderful time.

But any Mother worth her salt will tell you that is not the MOST wonderful time of the year.

The MOST wonderful time of the year is the first day of the school year.

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The long days of summer are over. No longer will I spend my afternoons listening to "I'm bored." No longer will I be subjected to Pork Chop and Bounce fight over which Barbie dress their Barbie will wear to the ball. The dark days are over.

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With clean backpacks and shiny folders two of the five are school bound. One for kindergarten, one for 1st grade!

*sigh* During naptime it will be just me and Meaty.

And in two years he'll go to school too.

*double sigh* Life just keeps getting better and better.

Yea, verily it is the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In Praise of Blocking

When the Summer 2006 Issue of Interweave Knits arrived the blog world went crazy over the Lotus Blossom Tank.

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Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty top. There's even a knit a long where lots of knitters have made beautiful versions of this pattern. And you know how I loves a good knit a long. But I hate the straps. The curl factor just looks high. I sold my Mariposa in the garage sale over the curling straps. Something about this tank just screams "Unflattering cut on your body." So I gave this pattern a pass.

Instead I was enamored with a little pattern in the very back of the issue. The last pattern in the magazine as a matter of fact.

The Eyelet Chemise

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Now I am no longer an eighteen year old girl with a flat stomach, but I love this pattern anyways. This pattern calls for linen yarn. I don't know who they think I am, but linen in not in my budget or lifestyle. I love this pattern anyways. No one else even noticed this pattern, I love it for it's anonymity. It just seemed so sweet, and old fashioned, rather bohemian. I think the ribbon sold me. I knit it way back in June. I finally blocked it Friday.

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(I don't know why I'm all cloudy in this picture, none of the other ones look cloudy.)

Pattern: Eyelet Chemise from Interweave Knits Summer 2006

Yarn: Sinfonia, 4 skiens

Needles: Honestly I don't remember. I knit this in June. The pattern calls for size 3 circular needles, but I've got a feeling I used my size 4 Addis.

Modifications: I subbed the yarn for a cheap cotton. I lengthened the ribbed lace section because, honestly, people should not be walking around in those belly shirts a la Brittany Spears anymore. Even Brittany covers her stomach these days. I knit it flat, but being unable to find buttons for this shirt I ended up seaming the front shut. I think it looks just fine. And I used a crochet hook several sizes smaller than the one called for in the pattern.

Review: I can not extol the virtues of blocking enough. This is my sweater pre-blocking.

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I was so disappointed with this sweater. The edges of the sleeves curled despite the cute crochet edging. I re-did the edging on the neckline four times with three different crochet hooks and still didn't like the way it lay. Despite adding three inches to the ribbed lace panels I thought it was going to be the wrong length. I almost threw it in the goodwill bag. It wasn't even good enough to put in the yard sale. But my good friend Big Booty Knits threatened me bodily harm if I didn't finish the sweater. So I blocked it.

Blocking is such magic. The neckline flattened. The sleeves behave. The length magically appeared.

I'm so glad I didn't throw it in the goodwill box.

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The crochet edging is really cute too

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I wore this to a birthday party on Sunday and it held up nicely. Didn't stretch out of shape by the end of the day. The blocked down pieces didn't flip back up after an hour. This sweater is a keeper.

So Thank You Big Booty. Because real friends don't let friends forget to block.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Prayer

I've been enamored with the idea of prayer shawls ever since I heard the name. I was raised in a very straight forward religion. No crosses or sacred symbols, just a straight forward deep abiding faith in God. I've always been a bit jealous of Catholics with their rituals, and mass, and saints, and Latin. Their religious culture just seemed richer, with secret elements. The idea of praying a prayer into a shawl while knitting sounded like magic, reminiscent of the hand movements I've seem people make while using a rosary.

I like the idea of praying while knitting. Whispering hopes and dreams into the stitches. I've knit health, strength and love into a shawl for my Mother-in-Law. I've knit humor, intelligence, grace and beauty into a baby sweater. I tried knitting healing into a hat for my Mom. It didn't work.

But I still try. It's mystic, and magical. It's like casting a spell, weaving dreams into reality while you knit. Giving your desires tangible form.

I've had a prayer for my family. A wish, a hope, a dream, a goal, a need, a prayer. Not a larger than life win the lottery wish, just a little wish. A prayer so important, so needed, so necessary in our lives. I needed it to be heard by the universe. I needed it to be known, given consideration, and hopefully granted. A prayer I hoped that if I gave physical form I could call it into being.

The Greatest is trying to get a new job. He's been looking for a long time. Trying to find something stable, with a future, advancement, a 401 K and healthcare. Something to support the family, not with six figures and elaborate vacations, but with a roof and food. Not a wild dream, just a dream most mothers dream for their families.

He is currently trying to get that job in the Southwest. It's beautiful there. Mountains, cactus, sunshine, stucco houses. It is different from what we know, but we could adapt. We could build a life there, carve out a place for our family. We could be happy there. I've prayed and prayed and prayed for this. For The Greatest to have his dream. For The Greatest to be happy. For my family to have what it needs. After We came back from his interview last month I started a prayer shawl for my prayer. A prayer for the Southwest.

I knit the Spirit of the Southwest Shawl.

The Spirit of the Southwest

Isn't it beautiful. I used the nicest yarn I own. My Zephyr. Part silk, part wool, all wonderful.

Zephyr sunshine

As I knit the Sun I prayed for Sunshine. For real sunshine to warm our faces. An absence of winter. To sit outside in the sun light. But beyond the physical I prayed for an end to this cloud I feel in my heart. For my soul to feel light, to feel as if I'm standing in the sun, surrounded by love and warmth.


As I knit Butterflies I thought about what butterflies mean to me. They make me think of beauty and giggles and fun. Of summer and flowers, and a light breeze. I prayed for more summer and flowers. For laughter with my children. For fun and smiles. For more beauty in our lives. I prayed for butterflies.

Firm Foundation

As I knit the Mountains I prayed for a home. For firm ground under our feet. Solid rock. A stable future. A place to call our own. Not a mansion. Just a little home to fill with memories, and kisses, and laughter.

Corn Stalks

As I knit the corn I prayed for food. For enough food for our family. I've got this strange thing where having food in the home makes me feel safe. No matter what else may happen when the house is full of food I know my children will be fed. My children have never gone hungry. I prayed they never will.

Water of Life

As I knit the water I prayed for life. For my family to feel life. To live in the moment. To enjoy life again. I also prayed for the life I feel waiting to join our family. I prayed our situation will change so we can have a fourth child. I prayed for The Greatest to want the fourth child as much as I do. I prayed this soul will be able to wait until we are ready. And that we will be ready soon.

Bunnies, Bunnies, Bunnies

As I knit the bunnies I though of Watership Down. I love this book for so many reasons. It has a history in my family that makes it special. But it is also a well-written beautiful story of bunnies trying to find a home for themselves. They searched and fought for a better life. Not an extravagant life, but a warren to call their own, where they could raise a family and frolic in the clover. They found such a place. I prayed we could find ours, with the strength, stamina, and courage shown by those humble rabbits.


As I knit the grass I prayed for a long growing season. I know that there is a season to everything. I know that when things get good they will eventually swing back to bad. I prayed for things to swing to good. And I prayed for a long growing season during the good so we can prepare for the inevitable famine.

Cabbage Blossom Edging

As I knit the edging I prayed for an end. An end to the shawl. An end to the waiting to hear if The Greatest was going to be hired. An end to waiting to hear if we were going to move or not. An end to waiting for things to change.

I-cord edging

As I knit the i-cord The Greatest was out of town for his final interviews. I prayed for him. I prayed things would go well. I prayed for him to have strength of mind and body. For him to do and say all the right things. For him to not feel alone during his journey. I prayed he would get the job.

As I blocked the shawl I prayed for comfort. As I smoothed the fabric of the shawl I prayed for comfort to sooth my furrowed brow. For an unseen hand to smooth the fabric of my life for a moment of respite. I prayed for peace to settle in my soul the way this shawl will settle around my shoulders. And again I prayed for an end to this project. For an end to the shawl, and end to the waiting, and end to this leg of our journey.

obligatory butt shot

We have done all we can. The Greatest has filled out all the paperwork, taken all the tests, met with all the interviewers. I have knit my prayer. The final decisions are now out of our hands. All we can do is wait for the final answers.

Me sitting around waiting with my shawl

We should have it in a week.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

*Waving a white flag* I concede defeat

In keeping with the UFO August spirit I turned my attention to the River Rapid Socks.

If you remember their saga, they were knit. Completely finito. Then I realized the fabric was too dense. It felt like wearing iron. So to the frog pond they went. They were ripped out. The yarn was washed and dried to get the kinks out. And pretty hank of blue potential were twisted.

I got out a hank, and with the eager arms of Pork Chop I turned that hank into a pretty blue ball. I got out the pattern and actually looked at what needle size the pattern called for. In my defense I've always used my 0s for socks and it's always worked well, so I was knitting in good faith when I used my 0s for this pattern (and if memory serves, I knit a pair of River Rapid socks for my Sister-in-Law on my size 0s and they turned out fine). The pattern calls for US size 2, or 2.5 mm needles. As it turns out I have 2.25 mm dpns, and 2.75 dpns, but no 2.5 mm dpns. To be on the safe side I used the 2.75. I started Monday night after the children went to bed. Somewhere between Days of Our Lives and Passions an Tuesday afternoon I finished the leg of the first sock. I tried it on, and it was HUGE. Entirely too large for my leg. It slumped down like the slouchy socks I wore in eighth grade. Unacceptable.

So I frogged.

I recast on using the 2.25 mm dpns. I was lucky the kids were feeling lazy and I got a lot done while they watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After the kids went to bed I knit and knit and knit (instead of the blocking I should be doing) and I finished the leg of the first sock. I tried it on, and it was still HUGE. Not as large as the earlier sock, but still to large for my leg.

So in one twenty four hour period I've knit the leg of this sock twice, and both times it's been unsuitable. I could have knit the entire sock by now.

I give up.

I quit.

Obviously I was not meant to have these socks.

I was not meant to use this yarn with this pattern.

The Knitting Gods are looking down on me with displeasure and I don't know why.

Maybe it's because I'm neglecting my unblocked knitting.

I've decided to use this yarn to knit a sock pattern I've had in the back of my mind for several months. Just a simple stitch that mimics bamboo. I think it would show off well with this muted blue variegated yarn. It's a very organic kind of texture that would go well with the nature beauty of the yarn. And hopefully this won't break any UFO August rules. After all I was knitting pair of socks with this yarn. Would it really break the rules to change the pattern? I'm still knitting socks. I'm still using the same yarn. It should be alright.

Just to be on the safe side, to appease the Knitting Gods, I'm going to block my two UFOs before I cast on for the socks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Knitting Interrupted

Thank you all for your kind words about my sweater (and a few nice words about my butt). That sweater was like another child to me, and I'm grateful it was so well received.

I know I promised another FO last week. But unfortunately my potential FO still looks like this.

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We decided to have a yard sale over the weekend. And then the Greatest conveniently went out of town. So I was left alone with the task of organizing it. The largest job by far was organizing the baby clothes.

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I sorted them by size and gender. It was quite a job. I get tired just thinking about it. But the yard sale was a big success. We sold all the large baby items on Friday, and most of the baby clothes on Saturday.

I spent Sunday recovering from it all, the crazy shoppers, the mad organizing, the price haggling (who haggles when everything's been marked down to a quarter?) and the sunburn.

Oh, I'm sunburned.

It's a bad sunburn like I've never had, really painful. And to add insult to injury I've got the ugly white stripe where my sunglasses were. It's a hot look. I'm sure it will catch on soon. Pretty soon everyone will be sporting the red and white face. I'd show you pictures but I can't.

Today I took the children to a local fair. It was lots of fun and I'd love to show you pictures of that as well, but The Greatest is out of town (again) with the camera. So I am a photoless blog this week. He took the camera, the mp3 player, the DVD player from the car, and the cell phone. I hid my Palm otherwise I think he might have taken that with him as well. I'm going through gadget withdraw.

Atleast with him out of town I can get lots of knitting done. I hope to have many FOs soon. I've got three of my UFO August projects almost done. My fingers are flying without him to distract me.

I miss him.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My First Sweater

No, it's not my first sweater in the sense that it's the first sweater I've ever knit. I've knit sweaters before. And it's not the first sweater I've radically modified. I've modified sweaters before. No this is my first sweater in the sense that I used no pattern. I didn't even use part of a pattern, no frankenknitting on this one. For better or for worse I did this all on my own. My first sweater.

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Pattern: Mine

Yarn: Brunswick Germantown Knitting Worsted, 100% Pure Virgin Wool (from the stash of doom)

Needles: Size 7 Addi Turbos

Review: I was inspired by this ad for a sweater in the Fall Interweave Knits.

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I thought to myself "Hey, I like that. It's the only thing in this magazine I want to knit." So I looked all over the internet for the pattern. But alas, I came up empty handed. Then I looked at the picture some more and thought to myself "Hey self. You can make that. It's just 2x2 rib with a 1x1 rib collar. And while your at it, make it one color with a belt."

So I did.

I made gauge swatches, and schematics, and did math. I counted rows and did waist shaping. I read this article in knitty for help with the sleeve cap. And it was very helpful. Usually I have a bit of fancy sewing to do to make the sleeve cap match the armscye. But this was the easiest sleeve cap I've ever sewn in. All in all I'm really happy with the results. I had beginner's luck on my side. So what if the sleeves came out entirely too long. I simply cuffed them and I think they look fancy that way. There is a seam in the middle of the collar in the back, but hey, I can't see it, it's in the back. I'm sure there are better ways to make the collar, but this is the way I did mine, and I'm comfortable with my choices.

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I may have to tack the collar down to get it to lay exactly where I want it and not shift when I move. But that's not such a big deal. All in all I'm very happy with it.

I do think I'm going to have to go back to asking Pork Chop to take pictures of me in my knitwear. I asked the Greatest to take a picture and this is what I got.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What's not to love about cabbage?

I know. I go and post my very melodramatic post, and rile everyone up. Then I go silent. Nothing. No updates, no news, no knitting. Everyone is worried that I'm sitting on the bathroom floor chain smoking and cutting myself. Don't worry. I'm not. Like I said, I'm too old to think that kind of magical thinking would help. I'm just sad. The reality of my Mom being gone hits me so hard I can't breath at times. I can't think about it too much, or too hard, or it gets too big to handle. It's just life, unchangeable, uncontrollable. I'll be alright, but just in case I'm back on my meds.

Since we've established that I haven't been on a self mutilation spree, what have I been doing over the long weekend? I've been knitting of course. I've thrown myself into UFO August with wanton abandon. I've got a FO for today. A FO for tomorrow. And if I get off my lazy butt and block it, an FO for Thursday! So without further ado allow me to present

Mon Petit Chou

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Pattern: Mon Petit Chou, I think a small hipster and a medium top, but I don't remember

Yarn: Cascade Fixation, 2 skiens

Needles: Size 4 Circulars, Size 6 Circulars and Size 8 Straights (at this point it goes without saying the circs were Addi Turbos)

Modifications: None

Review: I finished this project ages ago, at the beginning of summer. Then the poor thing sat in the bottom of my knitting bag waiting for blocking and ribbons to be sewn on. I finally did that yesterday. Can I tell you how much I love this knit? The top is alright. Don't get me wrong, the top is cute. But the bottoms are so comfortable. Just so comfortable. The fixation has elastic in it, and I just love it. I don't think you could wear these under a pair of jeans, but they're perfect for those lazy weekends where you don't actually get dressed, you just lay around watching tv, ordering delivery and feeling your muscles atrophy (not that I've had a weekend like that since I had children, but I know there are people out there who still live the high life). I tried pinning the piece out on the carpet to show off the lace pattern.

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It still doesn't do the pattern justice. It was another easy knit that results in a complicated looking finished project. The yarn was generously given to me by my Secret Pal Swap. Thanks again Trixie G!. If you're so inclined, I highly recommend this pattern.

Now not to give away anything. But tomorrows finished object? My very first all by myself design. tee-hee. Just gotta pretty myself up to take some pictures of it. And charge the batteries in the camera.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Being Melodramatic

I just feel so broken.



The world spins around me. Whirling, swirling until I think I'm going to throw up. A carnival ride that never ends. Yet time stands still. Seconds tick by with unbearable tedium. Moments hang swollen in the air, stretching, unending. Minutes take hours. Hours take days. I'm torn by the contrast.

I want to scream just to change something. Make the ride stop. Make time resume a normal pace. A primal scream to empty all I feel into the sky. A scream would break the silence. But it would not break this spell inside me. I could scream until I lose my breath. Scream until my voice is gone. Nothing would change.

I understand why young girls cut themselves. The sharp pain of a knife would be something new. A different pain. Atleast something would feel different. Would these feelings leak from my body mingled with my blood?

I'm too old to think it would help.

I'd like to start smoking again. The strike of a match. The first caustic drag. The soothing ritual of inhaling and exhaling. Visual confirmation that I am still alive, still breathing. Could I poison just the bad parts? Smoke them out of my body.

But again, I know it wouldn't help.

Nothing does.

I'd like to say night time is the worst, but it's better than the day. Atleast at night the children sleep and I don't have to try to pretend things are fine. Because they aren't. Night is more oppressive. More isolating. But atleast I can be honest with myself. This is painful, and if I allow myself to feel the pain, maybe I can turn it into something less soul-crushing. I just don't know how. I know what won't work. I just wish I knew what would.

Maybe it's the heat. Summer nights are the worst. If you're happy the night holds all the hopes and promises of the future. The world is yours to conquer. But the hardships of life rob you of that optimism. Now summer nights are sticky. Unfulfilled possibilities get caught in the air with the humidity. The summer air is oppressive. Heavy with all the unspoken angst. Hard to breath. You could almost suffocate under the weight of the air, and the dying dreams. Hard to sleep when you can't breath.

Don't mind me, I'm just feeling melancholy.

Must be that season.

This too shall pass.

Soon I hope.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's official, I'm a mindless sheep

Still feeling the funk.

Listless, unmotivated, empty.

To lift my mood and inspire me I've joined a few knit-a-longs.

I've joined the Mystery Sock KAL

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The whole idea is to choose a sock pattern with no picture, so you have no idea what the finished sock will look like. I'm excited to start this project. It will be like knitting a surprise.

In keeping with the sock theme I've also joined Sock Wars.

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It's death by well made socks.

There are rules to Sock Wars:

1. The first rule of Sock Wars is, you must talk about Sock Wars
2. The second rule of Sock Wars is, you MUST talk about Sock Wars.
(no really, for this to be a success we need as many combatants as possible)
3. Two socks to a fight
4. One fight at a time
5. No shirts, no shoes, just socks
6. Fights will go on as long as they have to
7. If this is your first time in Sock Wars, you have to fight.

It's an assassination/elimination knitting thingie, I'm just hoping to survive the first round. For complete details click the link, then sign up, you could be knitting to snipe me.

I've also joined the Simple Knitted Bodice Knit-a-long.

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Isn't it a romantic sweater. I haven't gone stash diving, but I've got a few things in mind that I think might be suitable for this pattern. If not, oh darn, I'll have to make a knitpicks order. And if I make a knitpicks order I'll have to order some of those new knitpicks needles to fill out my order and get my free shipping. Wouldn't that be hard to take. New yarn and some pointy needles.

All these knit-a-longs don't start until the fall. So to fill my time I've joined UFO August.

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You spend August resisting the urge to cast-on and knit on just UFOs. And I'm getting quite the list of UFOs.

1. Evil
2. Interweave Knits Eyelet Chemise
3. Mon Petit Chou
4. River Rapid Socks
5. The Spirit of the Southwest Shawl
6. My Knock-off Karabella Sweater (haven't blogged this yet)
7. Lucky Clover Lace Wrap
8. Somewhat Cowl

I've seen longer lists than this, but for me, this is bad.

These Knit a longs are good. They'll keep me focused. Help me out of this funk.

I hope.