Dirty, Rotten, No Good, Lying Piece of Swatch!

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Swatches lie. Big time. I only swatch when it is absolutely necessary, and this time it was absolutely necessary. I made a great swatch. A beautiful swatch. A swatch to base an entire sweater pattern upon. Behold, the gorgeous swatch! … Continue reading

Stranded

When I want to really enjoy my knitting, I reach for my stranded colorwork project. I always have one in progress, alongside the pair of socks in progress, the soaker or longies in progress, and the sweater for a kid in progress. Those latter knits are necessities. Sure I love the knitting of them, but I knit them because I want handknit socks, wool soakers, and sweaters for all of my kids. The stranded projects, though? Those are the ones that I do for pure enjoyment.

Stranded colorwork is so pleasing to work. Every row is a new adventure and I stay riveted to the very end. I love the way that colors play against one another. I love the finished products more than lace shawls, more than cabled sweaters. The colorwork knit makes me happy from start to finish and beyond.

For example, look at these socks that I made in June.

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Starry, Starry Night Socks in Mosaic Moon Merino Nylon Sock Arbor Pink and Mosaic Moon BFL/Nylon sock in Amythyst Grotto Purple SS
(Ravelry page here)

I am wearing them right now. The colors make me happy, and the two stranded yarns make a cozy, cushy sock that keeps me warm and comfy. I am in love with these socks, even months after I bound off the last stitch, and I am super excited about filling my sock drawer with more like them!

When I can squeeze in some “me time” between cooking for this herd and changing diapers and reading stories, I reach for one of my current colorwork projects (I have three on the needles right now, but who’s counting, right?). I will reach for this sweater next.

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Selah Colorwork Sweater in Mosaic Moon High Twist MCN, Selah Deconstructed

It is a cardigan of my own contriving and will be my first steeking project. There is so much fun here, I half expect to see cake and balloons when I look up from my knitting.

You can have your entrelac and your lace. You can keep your cables and your intarsia. I know how I want my knitting. I want colorwork and I want it stranded.

Upset

Two years ago this month. That’s when the upset began.

I was content with my life. I had six perfect kids. I was comfortable with our income, our home, our car. I was complacent in my belief system. I was stagnant.

I was due for an upset.

And then it came. In triplicate.

First came the pregnancy test that heralded another nine months of morning sickness, heartburn, and depression. Month after month I did little more than vomit, wish I wasn’t having a baby, feel guilty for not wanting the baby, and then throw up again. I lived on the couch, watching Netflix and trying to keep down a bite of something, anything. My house was a wreck and I was a wreck. My only hope was in knowing that it would end and I would a have a beautiful baby to show for it.

Then came the birth, and with it the next upset. Down syndrome accompanied my Blessing into this world, calling into question everything I thought I knew about health, parenting, and faith. My baby flirted with death and for months I’d rock her to sleep with my heart silently pleading, “Live! Grow! Thrive!” I spent her early days redefining my mothering practices and wondering if she’d live another day. But she did live, and she grew stronger. We got comfortable with her diagnosis and fell into complacency once again.

Then came the next big upset. It became necessary for us to move out of our home of nine years. The hunt for a new place to call home became my new turmoil. I wondered where we would live, or if we could find a place or would we be homeless? I pleaded with God to give us a place to call our own, a place perfect for us. And He did. He didn’t give me what I thought I wanted, but as always, He gave me what I needed. And so we moved and changed and grew a little more.

For the last two years my life has experienced great upset. And while I long for peace and security, I recognize that it is through adversity that I become stronger, more faithful, and closer to God.

It is through the pain of pregnancy that I was given The Blessing.

It was the through disappointment of her diagnosis that I was introduced to an amazing community of people who were born with an extra chromosome and have so much to offer the world.

It is through losing our old home that we were able to move into a home much more fitting a family of nine.

And it is through all of these upsets that I drew nearer to God. Relying on Him to provide, calling on Him to heal, resting in His peace, and allowing Him to be my Father as well as my God.

Blogging through all of this has been a challenge and recently I have neglected it all together. It is hard to pretend that all is well. I’m not a good liar. Besides that, I want this blog to be a place of inspiration and encouragement , not a place for me to air all my dirty laundry. But today I’m being real. Life is hard, but it is also good.

I hope that the upsets are over for now and I can have some nice things to write about. I know that I have a lot of knitting and spinning to do and to share. I also have some thoughts about homeschooling, parenting, and babies. Then there are the things God has shown me about Himself in the past two years, and everyday that I sit and listen. I have some political rantings, too, but I promise to keep those to a minimum. The point is, I see more blogging in my future. I’ve missed it.

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My Happy Place

A bird song in the distance, the tap-tap-tapping of a woodpecker on a nearby tree, the laughter of my children as they explore the hidden paths behind our house – this is the song that serenades me as I sit in the shade of a spreading oak tree and knit. Creamy white wool forming tiny knits and purls on an endless loop, each round denoted by the sweetest of stitch markers as I lazily knit on by. This is my happy place. This is where I recover from the stresses of the week, the busyness of my days, the complications of my life. The cool breeze blows all my cares away and I breathe deep of the simplicity that is found right here.

Knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl…

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Tomorrow I will add some colorwork to this knitting. There will be a riot of color in complicated patterns. The ease of a simple white ribbing will give way to a carefully crafted design that will require more of my concentration and more of my skill. Likewise, tomorrow l will be faced with the dilemma of life and all of the intricacies and difficulties therein. I will be required to pay attention, to strive, and to overcome. But I leave that for tomorrow.

Today I choose find rest in the simple things.

Two Down, Ten to Go

Before I reveal how well I did (or didn’t) do in keeping my New Year’s Resolutions in the month of February, I’d like to point out that February is a very short month. Consequently, a few of my goals weren’t realized until a couple of days into March. Nevertheless, I didn’t do too bad.

1. knit something from my handspun – Remember this gradient that I spun in January?

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Well, it became this.

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This shawl was a knit-on-the-fly kind of project, in which I didn’t really have a plan at the beginning. I did know that I wanted it to have a sort of “blossoming from the ground” kind of feel with the blue at the top being the flowers, the green being leaves, and the brown edging being roots. Accordingly, I agonized over every stitch pattern, count, and twist until it drove me crazy with the wondering if it was going to turn out okay in the end.

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The magic of blocking put all my fears to rest and I am extraordinarily pleased with the finished shawl. I am considering writing a pattern for it with a few tweaks to make it even better, but that takes a lot of time, so it might not happen (this year, anyway).

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Then I promptly gave it to my dearest friend for her birthday.

So, knit with my handspun? Check.

2. Knit a christmas gift or christmas decoration - This was the project that fell into March knitting time. To be fair, I had two of them done in February, but I have seven kids, so seven ornaments was, obviously, the goal.

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Elvish Mini Christmas Ornaments in all sorts of scraps

This photo is awful. Even now, they aren’t quite finished. I ordered little bells for them and will use the ends that you see for sewing them on.

So, knit something for Christmas? check.

3. Spin one braid (at least) I am halfway done spinning this -

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Mosaic Moon “Fallen” on Superwash Merino

See?

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I would have more spun, in fact I acquired several amazing braids that I cannot wait to get to, except that I had a mental hiccup. You see, I ordered my dream wheel – a Schacht Reeves!- and I want to spin on that! Alas, it isn’t coming until the first of April, so I have to content myself with my (still wonderful) old wheel.

So, spin at least one braid of fiber? check (halfway)

4. Keep my yarn/fiber purchases to the bare minimum (an unofficial stash down of sorts) Ahem. Ah. Hmmmm. Welllll. It’s like this….

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Actually I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say I had to expand my stash storage. I am now officially declaring a moratorium on stash growth. At least for March…

So, unofficial stash down? BIG FAT FAIL (oh! you have no idea)

5. Keep my WIPs to a maximum of four. Yes! I did it! And I love it. I am finding that in my growingly chaotic life, having fewer projects on the go is very comforting. That is not to say that I didn’t get hit with a case of startitis here and there.  Because I totally did. But I resisted. And I am happy.

So, focus on fewer projects at a time? check

Two months down, ten to go. And I’ll do better in March. It is longer, after-all.

One Down, Eleven To Go

I just read an interesting study about New Year’s resolutions. In 2007, the study tracked 3000 people through one year to see how they fared in keeping their New Year’s promises. The end of the year showed dismal results. Only %12 percent of the original 3000 people had accomplished their goals. SO, how are you doing with yours?

As for me, I am going strong here at the beginning of the second month. And this is what that looks like -

My knitting/spinning goals were set out as follows -

1. knit something from my handspun – I am working on this one. I spun up a lovely merino/yak blend for the Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL and that is still in progress. It’s not my fault it isn’t finished. I blame Ysolda.

IMGP1759_mediumSpunky Eclectic Club Fiber August 2013, 8 oz of two ply sport weight. Ravelry page here.

I would post progress pictures, except that it is a mystery knit and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. If you want to see it so far, here is my project page.

2. Knit a christmas gift or christmas decoration - The Blessing’s Christmas Stocking is finished, blocked, and packed away for next Christmas. The feeling of accomplishment that fills my chest at having a Christmas item finished before February even began is enormous!

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This is a mish-mash of patterns, mostly Kristen’s Creative Christmas Stocking, and is knit in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes  avocado, lullaby, cranberry, and semolina.

3. Spin one braid (at least) I spun 12 oz of fiber in January. I showed you the merino/yak above, but there was also this gorgeous Mixed Color BFL progression.

IMGP1873_mediumSpunky Eclectic Colorway for a Cause “It’s a Beautiful World”, approx 450 yards of fingering weight singles.
Ravelry page here.

This is already on the needles and half knit. I got a head start on February’s handspun knit.

4. Keep my yarn/fiber purchases to the bare minimum (an unofficial stash down of sorts) Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do so well at this one. Thank goodness I wasn’t more specific!

This month I added to the stash 24 oz of fiber, and only spun 12. I gave/traded away 4 oz. This puts me at +8 oz.
As for yarn? I added 10 skeins and only knit 4 and scraps. But I gave/traded away 5 skeins. So +1 for yarn.

5. Keep my WIPs to a maximum of four. (In my original post I said a minimum of four, but ya’ll knew what I meant, right?) This I accomplished with great difficulty. And, right now I have five, but just since yesterday. The Mystery KAL kind of doesn’t count, because once this week’s clue is finished, I can’t work on it until the next clue comes out, which makes it kinda like a finished object each time I finish a clue. Besides, last night I didn’t want to knit my lace Hitofude Cardigan, and the rows on the Allegro are getting snore-inducingly long, and I finished my clue on the MKAL Shawl, and the other knit is taking too much brains, and I just really wanted an instant gratification type project. So I cast on a dress for The Blessing with this lovely stuff.

IMGP1845_mediumMosaic Moon Targhee DK in Burlap and Burlap Semi Solid

I am half done. I will be knitting longies to go with it, too. Awesomely cute!

One month down, eleven to go. And doing just fine. 

I love the challenge of resolutions and the feeling of accomplishment that sticking to them brings!

(I am doing really well with my healthy changes resolutions, too, but that is kind of boring, so I won’t detail it. Suffice it to say, the longer I go without sugar and coffee, the less I want it, and the more active I am, the better I feel. These are lifestyle changes, not just for this year, so I will just carry on and continue to reap the benefits thereof.)

Christmas Consolation Socks

Everybody got a handknit in their stocking this Christmas.

The Bookworm got fingerless gloves (which she hasn’t taken off since Christmas morning)

IMGP1752and a lace shawl (oh, she has been asking for years for a lace shawl. I think she loved it). I finished it last summer and squirreled it away -

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The Boy got minions. Lots and lots of teeny, tiny minions -

IMGP1591The Princess got a hat and scarf. When I finished knitting these in November, I asked her to model them for me. She had no idea they were for her!

IMGP0962_medium2The Munchkin got hat and mittens to match her Strawberry Sweater -

IMGP1576_mediumFor The Fraggle, a hooded capelet. I love how she tucks her arms up into it. She is so cute!

IMGP1745 IMGP1747And for The Dancing Queen, socks. She had been asking me for handknit socks for years, but I always say no. Her feet grow far too fast! Oh, how sadly true that is, for when she tried to put them on Christmas morning, I realized they were too small.

IMGP1644She wanted them, bad, though. And she is such a gracious girl, I know she didn’t want me to feel bad, so she crammed her huge feet into them and thanked me heartliy. Later, I saw The Princess wearing them and I knew I had failed.

So, I took The Dancing Queen aside and I gave her a a few choices. I could fix those socks, I told her, to make them fit better. Or, if she wanted to pick out a different yarn, I could knit a whole new pair and she could give the small ones to her sister. She chose the latter. I gave her the run of the stash, any yarn she liked. She chose this Family Pendragon which has been in my stash for ages. I guess I was saving it for a really special project.

IMGP6820_medium2It fit the bill perfectly. And then I started knitting. I knit that first sock as fast as I could. Then I had her try it on, and wouldn’t you know it? Too small. Dang! When did this kid get so big? So I ripped back and started again. But by this time, I was burned out. Bleh. For a week I just played with my wheel instead, because I knew she was watching, so I couldn’t knit something else, but I DID NOT want to knit that! So I spun. See my merino/yak? oooh, purty!

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But it turns out that I am a good mom after all, and so I pushed through and finished the socks. The Christmas Consolation Socks. They turned out pretty darn good.

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Turkish Bed Socks in Family Pendragon 80/20 Fingering (discontinued), Ice Dragon 

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IMGP1737All’s well that ends well. And there might be enough left in that skein for a pair of socks for me! Woohoo!

But now I can’t wait to get back to that merino/yak. It is yummy!