Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Is Knocking

And that means the end of the Spring Cleaning KAL. I want to thank you so much for joining me this month in the battle to cut down the works-in-progress and start summer afresh. I don't think I would have stuck with it as faithfully without you here working along beside me. My favorite part has been seeing your finished projects. Sure it's nice to have a few of my own, but there's not much excitement in projects that have been staring at me for months. :)

Just a reminder to tag your Ravelry projects with "springcleaningkal" for extra entries for the giveaway. Fill out the form here if you haven't yet:

Today will be the last day you can sign up, then I will chose three winners tomorrow and announce them Friday!

A million thanks to our gracious, talented sponsors. Be kind and pay them a visit!

I still have the drive to finish off a few things into May. My goal was to get down to 10 WIPs at most. I'm almost there and I think I can do a bit better than that this summer. I finished a shawl and a hat I haven't shared yet, legwarmers, two sweaters, and a pair of mittens. Pretty good! I still have quite a few projects to get through, but they seem much more manageable now and that was the real goal after all.

How did you come out? Still working on a project or a few? Tell me about them! Blog links are always welcome. :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Planting and Potting

The weather wants me to wait, but I can't wait anymore! Sorry for such a late post. Today I planted shade plants in a big planter for the front porch, sunflower seeds in a few pots that will go somewhere eventually if they decide to grow, a vinca vine I saved from the gutter for the back deck, and I at least thought about starting my strawberry planter. I need a hook to hang it and I'm not sure I have one...and maybe I mentioned the weather?

What better way to deal with the blustery, chilly, tornado-watchy day than spend it indoors with pretty plants? Yes, knitting is also an acceptable answer. There will be some of that too. I have a swatch to knit.

Did she say swatch?!?! Yes, yes I did. It's more like I'll knit a few inches of the pattern and check it before deciding whether to rip it out or let it sit until I'm ready to start. ;) It's a very springy color, too. It's all spring in the house today! If only outside agreed....

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sweater Woes

Pooh Corner

Pattern: Jules by Julie Hoover
Yarn: Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted in Teal
Needles: US 7 & 8
Project Page

I finished the sweater and it looks much better than I thought it might, but it's not all I had dreamed. :P I wanted one that fit me like the model's fits her, but I was too dumb to read beforehand that the model is wearing a sweater two sizes larger than the one I chose to knit (the size that is my size). So now I have this pretty sweater that fits me well, just not in the same way I had hoped it would. The sleeve bind-off is too tight on both sleeves, so I'm going to redo them, binding off regularly instead of tubularly and see if that make me even a smidgen happier.

So now I'm sort of at a loss what to do. Should I block the crap out of it and see if I can get it a bit bigger and drapier (you can see in this picture it's sort of bunchy and not very flowing)? Should I frog it and find another project (the third for this yarn)? Should I just come to terms with the fact that it's not exactly what I wanted but it's still pretty great and just wear it anyway?

There's a beautiful stack of straw-colored Cascade 220 at my LYS that has been beckoning to me since February or so. I decided the moment I put this sweater on that that yarn would become my dream Jules (Return to Pooh Corner, you'll see! ;]). I'll have it one way or another, the question is merely what to do with this one.

Notes for my next go-'round (and yours, because you should if you like this style of clothing): make it two sizes lager, don't do the written selvedge edge, just a regular one, and remember to do the tubular bind-off at the neck edge (and maybe the lower hem, but definitely the neck edge) so it will keep its shape.

The pattern is great, as all Julie Hoover and Brooklyn Tweed patterns are. My now common complaint about Brooklyn Tween patterns is that they are incredibly long (this one is 13) and the information is either at the front or the back, but it's hard to know which, so there is a lot of page flipping. The yarn is really soft and beautiful, but I can't tell you how many times I had to rinse it before the water finally ran clear. Not to mention the dye it left on my hands every time I knit with it. I won't bother buying it again.

I'll redo the sleeve bind-offs and let you know what becomes of this thing. I try pretty hard to be certain I'll love the sweater I'm making, but I missed a step or two here. My last sweater was the same way, but I can blame that on the yarn pretty squarely (mostly). This one is my fault.

Friday, April 25, 2014


It's beautiful outside, I'm super sore from the start of a month-long work-out routine, and I have some work left on my sweater that I just don't want to do yet, so I'm postponing my finished sweater post until tomorrow. I'll even double it up with the shawl I finished last week (and haven't yet blocked or woven in the ends on...).

I hope you are having a beautiful Friday too! Here is a lazy bunny so this post isn't totally worthless. ;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One More Week

It's Wednesday! Spring Cleaning KAL check-in day! Only one week left to cram in some more finishing of things or using up the stash. I'm still astonished at how much I've been able to finish in such a short amount of time.

I have been wrestling with a sweater all weekend long. It was slated to become my favorite sweater, now it is easily on the downswing towards most frustrating sweater ever. I'm winning the fight so far, but there's no telling until it's finished. We'll see Friday. I'll explain then. :)

On the upside, I started this beaut over the weekend and it's going much more smoothly than the other sweater. I recycled the yarn from a favorite Old Navy sweater that was stretched to unwearable proportions. I have to get two sleeves done by Saturday. I thought that would be no problem, but time has been at a premium so far this week.

How are your projects progressing? Tell me in the comments, share links to your blog posts, don't be shy!

Since next week will be the last Wednesday of the month, it's time we got you properly signed up for the giveaway! If you aren't participating yet, there's still time to join in. The rules are simple: you must be working on a work-in-progress that's oldish/long-term (your judgment) or using yarn from your stash in a project. You can knit or crochet, no bias here!

I'll offer an additional entry for every qualifying project you have tagged "springcleaningkal" on Ravelry (just be sure to tell me your Ravelry name in the form!). As long as you have participated in the KAL, you are eligible for the giveaway. If you don't finish anything by next week, no problem! I'll have at least 13 projects I didn't get to. ;)

The prizes are $25 for Alina Shea Creations' Esty shop, a pattern (knit, crochet, or cross-stitch) from Celeena Cree Creations, and a skein of custom-dyed bamboo merino lace from Fangrrl Fiber Arts! Pay our gracious sponsors a visit below.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finishing is Happening

I'll be honest, when I set out to finish up my works-in-progress, I had no real expectation of making a significant dent in them. I get this bug once a year, usually around Christmas, and manage to knock three or four things off the list, then I get tired of working on old projects, cast on something new, and forget about my WIPs for another year. :)

In reality, I've already managed to finish much more than I had hoped in just two weeks than I had imagined for the whole month! I'm not burned out on the old things yet, either. Maybe it's the sunshine filling me with hope and happiness (something I don't get in my December push), but I bet it's the fact that so many of you are finishing up or starting really beautiful stash projects with me! It's much easier to do together.

I actually managed to finish three knits this week, but the shawl needs to be blocked yet, so I will save it for next week. I should have a sweater by then too!

Lunar Legwarmers

Pattern: Spanish Moss Legwarmers by Courtney Kelley in November Knits
Yarn: Sundara Yarn Fingering Silky Merino in Dark Side of the Moon
Needles: US 2
Project Page

They are finally done! The yarn is beautiful, the pattern is beautiful, everything is beautiful! The only modification I made was to shorten the lace pattern by two repeats because I have short legs. I wish my calves were slim and lovely like the model's. Maybe I'll start running again. Or maybe not.... ;)

I looked super cute in these yesterday. I wish I had a whole outfit shot instead of just my belegging'd legs. Alas....Next time. It's a great spring outfit. Just need to clean my shoes, it seems.

Linden Mittens

Pattern: LINDEN Mittens by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Schoeller+Stahl Sockina Cotton in Wine Harvest Multi FairIsle
Needles: US 1
Project Page

This is my second pair of Linden Mittens in as many months. I participated in Jane Richmond's Linden Mittens KAL last month and tried to squeeze two pair into two weeks. I almost succeeded, but got ahead of myself and kitchenered the tops of these guys too soon. I hate taking kitchener apart, so they sat for a couple of weeks before I redid them and finished the thumbs. They are perfect now.

What do you think about the colors? Be honest! Some days I like it and some days I think, "Why on earth would I want to be seen in these?!" I'm not a fan of self-patterning yarns. They never pattern quite right. The yarn is pretty nice. It's a nice cotton and will be warm but light enough for cool spring days (though I opted for my woolen mittens this morning). Spring mittens seem a little weird, though, don't they? Am I going to be the only person on the planet who wears mittens in spring? I don't mind. :)

I started with 14 projects, now I'm down to 14. Confusing? I know. I pulled three out of hibernation as I finished three this week. ;) I'll finish one more next week, but I'm also starting a new one tomorrow out of stash yarn, so I might be stagnating a bit longer, haha. I'm going to have to push hard to get to my (arbitrary) goal of 10 or fewer WIPs by the end of the month! I'm running out of easy finishes!

For more FO Friday posts, visit Tami's Amis! I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Key!

I was looking through my unfinished Ravelry projects last week in hopes that one might pop out at me as the perfect candidate to come on brief trip to Des Moines over the weekend. Staring at the projects, assessing each one for travel-ability, I've uncovered the reason I have so many works-in-progress!

They have all sat for so long because they all are tied up to a big pattern. I either have to haul a book/magazine around, haven't printed the pattern (I think I've mentioned this problem before), so have to haul my computer or tablet around, or are in just the spot where I have to consult the pattern for detailed shaping information. The projects I work obsessively on are either simple enough that I don't need the pattern with me at all times or have a pattern that I can print on two pages or less. I have just picked up a half-finished sweater from last fall (above) that has a 13-page(!) pattern. Flipping back and forth through that sucker for stitch definitions and technique tips makes me want to tuck it away for another 6 months, but it won't take me long to finish, so I guess I'll keep on with it.

Only three of my projects don't fit this generalization. They have sat because I got bored with their simplicity. For example, a 16" tube of stockinette on US 4s that wants to be a sweater some day isn't that captivating.

I was on a finishing rampage over the weekend, so I'll share some (or maybe all) of the goods on Friday.

Now, the part you've been waiting for! We have prizes for the Spring Cleaning KAL!

  • Celeena of Celeena Cree Creations is offering up one of her patterns (knitting or cross stitch), which are perfect for stash-busting.
  • My friend Kate at Fangrrl Fiber Arts is offering a skein of custom-dyed bamboo merino lace. Her yarn is so cool! The colors are fabulous (and fabulously geeky)!
  • Shayla of Alina Shea Creations is offering a generous $25 credit to her shop. Her yarns are lovely.
Check out their Etsy shops and see for yourself!

Remember to tag your Ravelry projects, Instagram, and Twitter posts with springcleaningkal, and share blog post links and general progress comments below! I've had a blast keeping up with your projects so far.

For more WIP Wednesday posts, visit Tami's Amis.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Questions and Answers

Jennifer of Burke House Crafts asked me these questions a couple weeks ago and I'm finally getting around to answering!

1. What is your dream project? This is a really hard question to answer because I'm such a process knitter that the project matters least of all. Any project that really tests my abilities is really exciting for me.

2. The one thing that you want to complete no matter how long it takes? I have a ridiculous afghan in the works. It's really dumb for several reasons, which I won't enumerate here. Someday I'll show it to you.

3. With whom would you want to collaborate on any sort of project? I have no idea. There are entirely too many talented people in the world to choose! Collaboration on any level sounds like it would be fun.

4. What’s the reason for your blog name? It's an inside joke between John and I. If I had a yarn shop, I would have in-house bunnies and sell his bettas (when he starts breeding them again). Our lives revolve around rabbits and fish, so the blog does too, in spirit if not always in blog content. :)

5. Why did you begin blogging? It was mostly due to the fact that I needed a distraction from school, but it has allowed me to be much more connected to the people who share a love for beautiful handcrafts. Ravelry has allowed me to "meet" a lot of wonderful crafters who keep me crafting, but blogging has allowed me to get to know them and to keep me inspired by their stories.

6. What meal can you make with no recipe, hands tied behind your back, one eye open (you get the idea)? My grandma's pot pie recipe. It's super easy, but super tasty too!

7. What world city do you feel is your true home? My true home is more of a region: the Pacific Northwest.

8. Describe a time when blogging/crafting helped you through a stressful time in your life. I dealt with a particularly hard breakup in 2009 and wouldn't have come out of it nearly as well without knitters on hand at a nearby shop (where I later became an employee) and the inspiration of Ravelry.

9. Name something that you wish you could do or something that doesn’t come easy, and admire others for being able to do so? I really admire people who can sit and read. I used to be able to do it for hours on end with no interruption, but now I lose focus, get tired, or need to knit while I do it. My focus since starting grad school has really gone downhill.

10. What are you reading right now? The complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. And scholarly books, too.

11. What movie’s lines can you recite by heart? When Harry Met Sally. :)

12. If your life were a movie/album, what would it be named? The Quiet One.

13. At what point in your life were you the most impressed with yourself & your creativity? I won runner-up in a drawing contest in college that puffed me up pretty well. It inspired me to take art classes and I was pretty impressed with my own talent for a long time. :) I wish I had the time and space to explore it again.

I feel strange when I have to tag people to answer questions too, so if you want to answer these questions on your own blog, please do! Let me know when you do so I can come read your answers. :) I'll be back Wednesday with some perhaps surprising progress in the Spring Cleaning KAL and a prize announcement. See you then!

Friday, April 11, 2014

So Much to Finish, So Little Time

I got swamped with grading, so no FO post this morning. That may change this afternoon, though, as I only have the last cuff left on my legwarmers. Here's a post-holder in case that FO happens. :)

Here's another thing I've been working on for two weeks that I am very pleased with:

Cooking with my cast iron skillet! I bought a cookbook a couple of weeks ago and the recipes in it have been so delicious! I've even made some super sketchy changes to a couple and they still turned out beautifully. I've been so eager to eat them that this is the only picture I have. It was one I wasn't sure was going to turn out. It called for 5 pounds of short ribs, but we used a pound of stew meat and halved the recipe. I'm going to try it again next week with more meat, more green beans, and fewer potatoes. It still turned out really yummy.

We had pork chops last night and chicken the night before. Mmmm! So good! I'm looking forward to the blueberry cobbler and a fish recipe this weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


It's Spring Cleaning KAL check-in day! Post your blog links in the comments section if you're chatting about your project, tell us how you're doing, what you're working on, and, if you're struggling, vent. :)

Jennifer of Burke House Crafts tagged me to answer some questions which I will answer Monday (so I don't have a monster post here), but in writing up that post, I realized how small the knitting world is!

It turns out that Jennifer--who is also participating in the KAL, I believe--is the designer of one of my KAL hopefuls: Crispin Boot Socks (the pattern is called McIntosh Boot Socks), the pattern for which appears in the same book I'm using for my Lunar Legwarmers! I love it when the knitting world comes full-circle. :) I have one legwarmer done and I'm halfway through the second.

I can't wait to wear them! It was so nice today that dresses and skirts are now on my mind and legwarmers will be the perfect accessory.

I've also been working on a hat on the sly. I started it before the KAL thinking I would finish it before we started, but it's taking me a long time for some reason. It's made entirely of stash yarn, so it qualifies for the KAL, I was just too anxious to wait. :) Besides, I shouldn't be casting things on, but shhhh.

I was skeptical about how the yarns would play together. I think the hat is turning out much better than I expected, though. I love happy surprises! I'm hoping I can get the leg warmers and the hat done by the end of the week so I can work on a couple of half-finished spring sweaters that have been floating at the back of my mind and the edge of my vision for too long. I will have some sort of FO for you Friday, I just don't know whether it will be legwarmers or something else!

Once again, thanks to our great sponsors! Give them a visit! I will tell you what they are contributing next week. :)

For more WIP Wednesday posts, visit Tami's Amis. I'll see you Friday!

Monday, April 7, 2014

One of Those Weekends

I had a busy weekend, how about you? It started Friday and Saturday with a conference on Health Humanities. It was really inspiring (something I need at this point in my academic career). It gave me research ideas that I desperately needed. Sweetpea got sick on Saturday and sucked up the rest of the day with worry and fretting over her. We took Sunday to relax. The new Captain America movie is great! And we managed to get our grocery shopping done early this week, too. That doesn't happen often.

That's my sweet little sickling. :) She's much better. Bunnies have to eat all the time or they can get very sick. She had some painful gas, stopped eating, and scared us, but some forced water and food plus some pain meds and she's back to her mischievous self again. Spike gets sick like this fairly often, so we know the routine. Sweetpea is a much better patient, though. She doesn't mind being fed and watered. She thinks she's a queen anyway. ;)

I recently bought a cookbook full of recipe ideas for our cast iron skillet. Last week we tried a chicken recipe and a meatloaf recipe from it that were absolutely mouth-watering! This week I've lined up four more recipes to try out. I can't wait to see how they turn out. I feel like an accomplished cook using my cast iron skillet to cook up tasty meals! But really, they aren't difficult, just different from our usual boring, repetitive meals.

Do you have a cast iron skillet? What do you cook in it? Do anything fun this weekend? No sick pets, I hope.

Join me Wednesday to share your progress on the Spring Cleaning KAL! I'm still on my legwarmers, but they are coming along nicely. I might pick up something else this week as the leg warmers wrap up. You know, just 'cause. ;) See you Wednesday!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Buttons a Finished Object Make

My legwarmers are moving right along! I honestly don't know why I ever put them down. I'll have them all finished to show you next Friday, I think! I mentioned some buttons needed some attaching this week, too. Here is what some of them needed to be attached to:

If Tragedy's Appealing...

Pattern: Peasy by Heidi Kirrmaier
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool XL in Blue Green
Needles: US 3 and 4
Project Page

This project started with shining inspiration and ended with compromises I'm not thrilled about, but it all worked out for the best, so who am I to complain? When I first saw the cardigan, I knew it wanted to be a pull-over with a lace placket. It also had to be tweedy, because...tweed! Right? Right.

I got the yarn cheap when the yarn shop closed, even though I knew beforehand that I wasn't a huge fan of it. It's a scratchy wool (this coming from someone who loves woolly, scratchy wool), despite it's very deceptive name. Is there real silk in this wool? We may never know. I hear the regular Silky Wool is nice, though. I also bought this wool knowing it's labelled aran, but that it's actually lighter. It wasn't as light as I thought. It's worsted and I was banking on it being closer to sport, for some reason. That's my own fault. The one thing I did get right was the color. I need some green in my wardrobe.

I had to make some gauge adjustments, which meant some math had to be done (yuck), which means the sweater doesn't have quite the ease and fit I had planned, but it's not bad. I wanted full-length sleeves and had the yarn to do it, but I got so tired of scraping my skin on it as I knit that I couldn't stand to knit past the 3/4 sleeve mark. I was very careful to get the 3/4 length just right, though. some of my other 3/4 sleeves are more like half-sleeves because I get impatient and stretch things when I measure. I'm getting better at not doing that anymore. :)

Now I have a beautiful sweater and a full skein of this yarn that I don't really want to work with again. What's a girl to do? Wear the fabulous sweater and find someone who likes the yarn, I suppose. It could be far, far worse. :) The pattern is great, by the way. Heidi Kirrmaier is a fabulous designer.

How are your KAL projects coming along? I'm doing the quick and easy ones first, so I'm not moving as quickly as it might seem. Besides, I have so many WIPs and so much stashed yarn that a year might not even be enough time to get through it all, let alone the month of April. If you've finished something or are still plugging along merrily on a project, leave a link to your blog post or just tell us about it in the comments! I love to hear what you're working on!

For more FO Friday posts, visit Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's Time!

Today is the opening of the Spring Cleaning KAL! What unfinished project have you decided to work on? Which yarn did you choose to save from the stash? I've decided that I can't decide. If you know me, this should come as no surprise. I don't make decisions unless under extreme duress.

Okay, I did make one decision: I am going to complete a legwarmer and a half to start. I'm tired of my yarn bowl and this stunning yarn staring at me all the time. I should be able to use that yarn bowl, but I can't because there's half a legwarmer in it. For a over a year they have been leering at me from their corner of the coffee table. I am ashamed. But I'm also ready to wear some really cute legwarmers.

I also have a small stack of things needing buttons, so that's on my to-do list this week, too. Hopefully I can power through these two tasks and have a different WIP next week. Hopefully.

I find that a lot of us have a short attention span for our WIPs, which is why some sit so long. Is this true for you? Do you have a project or two that you just can't stand to work on for more than a few minutes at a time every few weeks? What is it about those projects that you just don't like? The legwarmer was on two circulars. I don't like magic loop or working on two circs. It irks me and those projects take longer because I have to put them down more often (so the irk doesn't grow to irrational anger or some other beast!). I'm not entirely sure what other reason I might have had for putting this down for so long....

Welcome to the KAL! If you have a blog post you'd like to share, feel free to leave a link in the comments with a note about what you are working on. I will be checking Instagram for the #springknittingkal hashtag (and posting my own progress) and scouring Ravelry for your projects with the springknittingkal tag, too!

Take a moment to visit our lovely sponsors. I'll have more on the prizes they are offering later in the month.