Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Gray Matter--A Ta-Dah Post

When I first got home from the hospital a couple months ago, there was a lot of naps and a ton of questionable TV show viewing. It wasn't pretty. Reading was uncomfortable, and I couldn't fathom picking up my sweater and continuing with the colorwork. My mom said "Is there something small you could work on? Just so you don't go crazy?" And then I remembered the drawer full of leftover Stylecraft DK from this blanket. You can't get much smaller than a granny square, and you can't get much simpler than a single-color granny square.


The first dozen or so felt like a triumph, and I was quite proud of myself. I don't know if it was psychosomatic, but it felt difficult, like I was just learning. But my hands quickly remembered what they were supposed to be doing, and I had 130 squares in not much time.

From the outset, I knew I wanted to break up the squares with a grayish-brownish-somewhere-in-betweenish color, and Stylecraft 'Parchment' fit the bill. I may have bought entirely too much, but I am thinking I can get a sweater out of what's left (I don't know how much I thought I'd need).

Anyhoodle--here's the finished product.


My plan was to use as many leftovers as I could, and I obviously had more of some colors than others, but I love the outcome. The extra pink and yellow make it brighter, that's for sure. And the connecting color really makes it all pop nicely.

I decided to name this Gray Matter for a few reasons. First, I've had a lot of pictures of my brain taken recently. Sometimes, brain pictures have a lot of colors to them. Second, while most of the blocks are ordinary and plain, in my efforts to use all the yarn some colors were combined in interesting ways. Just like--most of my brain is totally normal (I know my mom just snorted and thought 'Child, you were never normal'), but there's this little spot that could be something, but might not.

Sometimes I feel perfectly myself--chipper, and just fine, and perfectly balanced (I consider red and pink my 'me' colors).


Sometimes I feel just slightly....off.


Sometimes? I nick a little something when I do my injection. And I blot it with an alcohol swab. (After yelling "We've got a bleeder!" for comedic effect).


Most of the time, I feel great. And lucky. And grateful.


But, even though I've had all my tests and scans, I still don't know what's up for sure until I see the neurologist. In one month. One very long month (although my mom is going much more crazy than I am). It's all a big gray area right now. Just like the gray (or is it tan? see? that's a gray area too) that holds together these flashes of color.

My favorite part of this blanket? The border.


It's got a delightful ruffle to it that somehow doesn't overpower the rest of the blanket.


It was quite simple. I used this join-as-you-go method to connect all of the squares. I then did a round of single crochet, then a round of double crochet (putting five stitches in each corner stitch). For the next round I did (double crochet, chain one) in each stitch around, giving things a slight wave. Then I went whole hog, and did three double crochets in every stitch all the way around.

Considering my little bit of a theme here, this made me think of the convolutions in the structure of our brains. My 'therapy blanket' was quickly becoming an 'art blanket.'


It's simple granny squares, with the most neutral of colors holding it all together. But that little detail of the ruffled edge makes me smile every time I see it draped across the back of the love seat.


I didn't think I'd be so pleased with this, but I am. Out of all of the blankets I've made, this might be my favorite (but don't tell the others--they each think I like them best).

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Giveaway Winner

Happy Mother's Day, to all of you moms in the States (and elsewhere. Because why not? Moms don't get enough credit as it is).

I've got the winner of the yarn giveaway to announce. There weren't many entries in this one, but someone is going to get some delightfully squishy mail. So, without further ado...


I always dislike being first in a giveaway because I think there's no way I'll ever be randomly chosen (though if something is random it shouldn't matter--I understand this, but my instinct disagrees with this logic. This is why I don't gamble).

So, number one. That would be........


Congrats, Kris, you lucky duck! This is some seriously delightful stuff. I'm sending you a separate email to get your address so I can ship you this bundle of beautiful.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Want Some Yarn?

Despite my best efforts, I have acquired a bit of a yarn stash. I keep trying not to add to it, but I'm only a knitting human, and things happen. And when things happen I like to give things away. So...want some yarn?

When I was at my knitting retreat in October, I came by a fair amount of yarn. Some of it is in weights I never use as it doesn't feel...right...in my hands. So instead of hoarding some yummy things for which "some day" will never come, I'd rather ship them to a good home.

So here's what I have for one of you.


Two skeins of Dragonfly Fibers Squishy Lace in Cognac. Lots of yardage here!


These were part of a kit, so I've also got the magazine with a pattern for this yarn in it to send along to you.

But wait! There's more!


I've also got three skeins of Plymouth Yarns Quarry in Hematite (on the left) and Moonstone. This is a nice, chunky yarn that looks like it would felt beautifully.


So if you'd like some fun mail, drop me a comment below, and I'll randomly pick a winner. Due to the costs of shipping, I'm sorry I can only offer this up to those in the United States. I'll leave this open through Saturday, May 12th at 11:59 pm ET and choose a winner shortly thereafter.

Good luck!!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Gnome is Where the Heart Is

It's not something I bring up in casual conversation, but...I love gnomes. Their little tummies, their pointy hats, their short stature that enables them to nap under flowers and toadstools. If left to my own devices, I'd be that crazy person with no visible lawn because the gnomes would be all over it. All. Over. It. A few months ago I saw a kit for crocheting a little gnome and some toadstools. Add to cart, complete purchase, boom. Then 'the event' happened, and the kit had to be patient. About two weeks ago, give or take, I decided it had waited long enough. 

Now, truth be told, as I was hooking I was also thinking "Just what in the h-e-double am I going to do with a little crocheted gnome?" And so my brain went where it always goes--I either string it all together and make a garland of some sort, or I plonk it all on a wreath. Immediately a wreath image appeared in my brain, and I worked at a feverish pace towards that end. And last night, because I know how to party on a Saturday night, I put it all together. Wanna see?


Isn't he cuuuuuuuute?


Look at his face with his button noise and pink cheeks (and eyes that I swear are on straight).


And his little jingle bell on his hat! I think that might be my favorite detail of the whole shebang.


The kit was from Little Box of Crochet and came with the perfect amount of yarn and everything else needed to make this little guy (including the stuffing and a hook), There were a lot of little pieces to stitch up separately and assemble, so this was not as quick as it looked like it should be.

I found the wreath at Joann's. I was trying to think of how I was going to get a mossy look; I had a styrofoam wreath and a bag of moss in my hand when I saw this one. All mossy and bumpy and straight out of a little fairy tale thicket. It even came complete with little patches of dirt.


After finishing the gnome and toadstools (and mastering French knots) I whipped up some little flowers. I had a kit I bought last year and never used because I would never use the project (mug cozies), but the yarn was in vibrant, pretty colors and just right for this. I dug through my button jar for just the right touch for the flowers that needed a center.


To assemble, I fussed with the flowers until I liked how they looked, and hot glued them in place. The toadstools and the gnome were a bit harder. I didn't want to glue those in place as if the wreath starts to look worse for wear I don't mind losing a few flowers to the trash. BUT there's no way I'd be okay tossing the gnome and the toadstools. So I rigged up a little system only visible from the back.


I tied them to tongue depressors, and then glued those to the back of the wreath. You can't see them at all (those white splotches are where I had to remove them the first time because I just went for it instead of doing the logical thing and checking their placement), and if need be I can untie them with no issue.


OK wait, my favorite detail might be the little yarn shoelaces.

And if you're wondering....his name is Zeke. Short for Ezekiel. Ezekiel Walter Dominelli. What, a gnome can't be Italian?*

*OK, historically speaking in a cultural sense... probably not. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Modern Icelandic Sweater

If this...I'll call it spring...weather continues I just may get to wear my new wool sweater after all. I cast on this bad boy on Superbowl Sunday, and worked on it pretty regularly until 'the event.' It was sidelined for a few weeks, and then took a few more to finish.


I've never done corrugated ribbing before, so that was fun to do. It doesn't crimp up like a regular rib stitch will, but it still nice and stretchy.


The ribbing was a nice intro to the color work section. It's not difficult to carry floats for two stitches, so this was a nice, gentle ease-you-into-it sort of thing. Then it was miles and miles of gray stockinette.


I ended up switching up the yoke section a bit. See those gray diamonds? They're supposed to be light green. I had a mild panic attack at the thought of knitting with three colors in a single row, so I figured I'd stick to two colors and then go back and duplicate stitch over the gray. THEN I decided that further along the floats weren't crazy long so I'd knit with three colors (even though floats weren't my concern but three stinkin' colors). It took me a really. long. time to do that section. THEN I had to go back and duplicate stitch the bottom of the diamonds all around the sweater because I apparently decided to make this in the least efficient way possible.


It actually wasn't a terrible task. The inside doesn't look as fun in that section as it should, though.


After I did the first section of duplicate stitching, I decided I liked it as is and didn't fill in the other squares. I kept going back and forth, forth and back, trying to picture it with and without. So I went without. The great part about that is that if I decide I want that section filled in I can simply go back and stitch it in. But this way I like that the snowflakes (though traditionally that motif is an eight-pointed rose) are more obvious as snowflakes.

The neckband is a simple ribbing that's stitched for twice as many rounds as the finished band will be. You then go back and loosely tack it down on the inside for a nice, finished look.


I was nervous about this as it would be so me to make a sweater that fits, and then sew the neckline too tight or, better yet, closed. But after every few stitches I gave it a tug to keep the tension just right, and it worked. I will do this on every neckband where I can as the finish is so nice and neat.

I took 473 pictures (it felt like it, anyway) of me in this sweater, and got maybe two that aren't insanely blurry (I'm especially pleased with the shot of just the ceiling). HOW do people take good selfies, time and time again? If I'm in a pic where I look HUMAN I'm happy. So, just so you can see the fit, here you go--


I'm not sure if I wish I had made the next size up or not. It fits super perfect, but my preference is usually for a slightly looser fit.


Oh, almost forgot to mention, the pattern is Modern Icelandic by Lars Rains. It's in the winter 2017/18 issue of Vogue Knitting. You can see more information here on Ravelry. I was originally going to do this in the same colors, as I gasped when I saw the photo, but decided to switch it up. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted in Spruce, Tranquil, and Lake Ice Heather. It's been soaked in wool wash  and wet blocked.

This was maybe not the best choice for my first stranded sweater as far as difficulty goes, but I'm happy with it. My floats are good, the tension is even, and it fits. So now I can go tuck it in a drawer for months. Yaaaay.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"I Need You to Be More Discerning"

That's something my youngest sister has said to be a LOT in recent months (or something similar). I cannot deny that she has good reason.

A couple of months ago I went on a handful of dates with a guy who started off normal enough, and then took a hard left down Crazy Lane (which, if that was a real street, I'd have to live there just because). "When you're out with your friends, I'm going to need you to check in with me regularly." No. Or, "I need you to text me right away when I text you." Not at 3 in the morning, pal. And finally, "I love you." You don't tell the girl who doesn't like to be HUGGED that you LOVE her after TWO weeks. And that's the tippy top of the tip of the iceberg. My sister said "I'm going to need you to let me screen these people."

Reason two. Not long ago, I made a bagel with cream cheese. It tasted fine. I did not get sick or have any ill effects. A few days later, my sister said "Is this cream cheese ok?" My mother looked and gave that "Eh, maybe yes maybe no face." (Don't judge--you know you've got a science experiment in your fridge, too). I said "I ate that the other day and it was fine." Sister said "I'm pretty sure it's GRAY." (It wasn't). So I repeated myself. She threw it away and said "I'm going to need you to not eat cheese of a questionable age."

And reason three. A few months ago we had a girls' day and went to tea. Afterwards we went to this (quite large) cute antique shop that we had never noticed before. If I had space for such stuff I could have dropped a small fortune there. As such, I bought a book for my uncle, and a beaded basket. It looked really cute sitting on the shelf, with the lights hitting it just so. I imagined someone sitting there, stringing beads and following the directions that came in (what was probably) a kit. I carried it around quite proudly, not knowing what I would ever use it for but needing it just the same.


When we got home, I put it in some warm soapy water to try and brighten it up a little bit. I left it on the windowsill to dry. It looked pretty in the sun.


My sister hadn't seen it yet. But when she saw it the next morning she said "What is that?" but inserted an expletive or two. Then--"That's hideous."


I argued on its behalf. I said "But it's pink and red!" And "It's safety pins!!!" And "Doesn't it remind you of that teeny beaded lampshade Grandma has on that little electric candle in her bathroom?"


I'll be honest. I was less than enamored with it. The lighting in the shop must have been fantastic, because it was not as cute anymore. I told her "Well, I had second thoughts about it this morning....?" and she said "The time for second thoughts was in the store when you picked it up!"


Then she threw down  "I'm going to need you to be more discerning. Between guys, cheese, and...this...I'm just going to need you to make better choices." She's right. So right. In that way that only sisters can be.

But now I have to keep it until she forgets it exists. I can't just admit that I don't know what came over me. It's not even functional! But it IS pink and red...

**Note: I wish she would go to the hospital and tell that neurologist that HE needs to be more discerning, because now I've got TWO doctors of the opinion that this might not be MS. I get more tests on Friday, and hopefully they fill in enough of the picture so I can know for pretty sure what's going on.

And also: I finished my sweater. And it seems to fit. And it's going to be really warm this weekend, but I'll try to take some photos for you. But it's pure wool. So no promises.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Popping in to say hello!

Hello, you wonderful people! I want to send you all a giant hug and a great big thank you for the comments and emails that resulted from my last post. They truly made me feel good, and I've gone back and read them a few times to boost my mood. So--thank you!


I received so many beautiful flowers from friends and family that it looked like a florist's shop in the living room for a little while. I absolutely adore flowers, so they were an instant pick-me-up. Every color you can imagine was represented!


I often hear people say things like "Don't send me flowers! They're only going to die!" Which is perhaps one of the most absurd and depressing things I've ever heard someone say. Give me flowers over jewelry any day (and if I'm being honest, give me cake over either of those).


HOW could you not want something like that in your life? I find it endlessly fascinating the things that nature comes up with all on her own.


As for me, I'm doing really well. So well I am planning on returning to work on Monday. I've been so eager to get back to normal, but I know that tomorrow night I'll whine "I don't wanna go to work tomorrow!" (which is in itself normal, so I guess I've made it after all).


I've made some progress on my sweater (I'm fair-isling with three colors per row, and am convincing myself it's good therapy so I don't lose my mind over the tedium of trapping floats and remembering there's a third color). And I've got a bucketload of afghan squares as well.


Since we last chatted, I've seen a specialist and he wants more tests before he confirms the diagnosis. He would not say what it was or what it wasn't, just simply that he "needs more information." Whatever it turns out to be (if not MS), I've been progressing well--I'm able to drive, the fatigue has lessened, and based on how much This Old House, Pawn Stars, and ER I've been watching I've got three viable career options if I ever want to switch things up.


Improvement was gradual, but when I think that exactly a month ago I couldn't see straight and had a mind-numbing headache that wouldn't quit it seems like it just zoomed along. I am eternally grateful that I was born into a fabulous, supportive family that doesn't let you dwell too long and keeps it real (while bringing tea and chocolate upon request).


I hope to have some things to share with you soon, as I'm eager to start new projects. If it's going to be too cold to wear a new sweater, then I want to make things that remind me of spring. However, it's supposed to snow Monday, so I have no idea how nature works anymore. So on that note, I'll say Happy Easter/Passover/what's passing for spring, and see you soon!

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