I Don’t Want to Talk About It

I have come to a bad place with The Princess’s sweater and I don’t really want to talk about it.

I don’t want to talk about lying gauge swatches, gross miscalculations, and the kind of denial that only a knitter can understand. (The denial is the worst part. “I can just block it out” is such an obviously bad omen and yet I fall victim to it time and again.)

I don’t want to talk about that stupid pattern that, no matter how hard I try, will not produce a sweater that will fit my four year old.

I don’t want to talk about the kind of procrastination that sees me preferring to wash dishes rather than knit.

So, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will sum up this whole debacle with this image. This, my Dears, is the second sweater sitting atop the first sweater.

That’s right, Folks! They are the same, super-small, size. The blue one might even be smaller! AAAAAAHHHHHH!

See why I don’t want to talk about it?

Instead, let us talk about the sweater that I started knitting for The Princess this weekend.

Olearia in Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort, Navy

There. That is better. The makings of a sweater that not only promises to fit, but is easier and less fiddly to knit. I am also certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will have more than enough yarn to finish it.

Alas, now The Princess is saying, “But Mama, I wanted a pink sweater!” Sigh

I don’t want to talk about it.


This Moment – Kissie Cheeks

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Happy Weekend!

Just Dance

I rolled out of the bed on the wrong side this morning. Grouchiness was a cloud over my head. And, while I could point to several causes and say, “this ruined my day”, whether it be the baby trying out her teeth while nursing, or the Dancing Queen leaving water on the floor for the baby to crawl through, or the Munchkin and the Princess bickering over the rocking horse, it really wasn’t any of these things. My attitude was set before any of that happened, and that was why those things irked me so. Having a nursing baby bite me is old hat. Spilled water on the floor is a usual occurrence. It could be argued that the bickering and fussiness of the littles was caused by my grumps and not the other way around. No. This was not an “I’m having a rotten day” issue. I had just gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.

So there I was making pancakes, fighting my irritation, dealing with the blows as they came and thinking to myself, “What a rotten day this is going to be if this is how it is starting out.” And that was when I realized something.

I have a choice.

Sure I could say that I am hormonally inclined to be grumpy today. I could even say that these stinking kids pushed me to it.

But I have a choice.

At this thought, I stopped what I was doing, went into the living room, and turned on the music. Loud. I just decided to dance.

Let me stop here and clarify. I did not feel like dancing. I did not want to dance. There was nothing in me that desired to dance. I wanted coffee, and quiet, and maybe to go back to bed. But I needed my body to tell my attitude how it was going to be today.

So we danced, the Dancing Queen, The Princess, The Munchkin, and I. As I danced past Baby V I scooped her up and reveled in her giggles as I swung her around in my arms. The Munchkin did her crazy chicken dance. All the bickering was over. Soon, The Bookworm and The Boy straggled down the stairs to see what was going on. They were bleary eyed but smiling, and then they danced, too. By the end of the song we were all smiles. And then I felt better.

There is a great analogy for life in here somewhere, but I don’t have time to get all philosophical, so you can draw your own conclusions. As for me, I am just going to dance.

Five Reasons Every Knitter Needs an iPad

Knitting is a matter of two sticks and a long piece of string. But it is made more fun, interesting, exciting, whatever when you have some other tools as well. I contend that every knitter should have an iPad for the following five reasons.

1. GoodReader. GoodReader is, by far, the best thing that happened to my knitting (well, since the ball winder…). It is so much more than just a PDF reader – it surfs the web so that I can download patterns straight off of Raverly; it lets me highlight, annotate, and put stickie notes all over the patterns; it saves copies of the annotated patterns separately from the original; and much more. With GoodReader I can keep track of my progress on charted lace and I can highlight the sizes that I am working on a sweater. It also comes in handy reading magazines and other non-knitting publications, although I don’t know why anyone would want to…

2. Ravelry. Raverly has yet to come out with an iPad app, but I hear that it is in the works. Regardless, through Safari I can access Raverly from anywhere (that has WiFi, I didn’t get the 3G pad). That is a huge must for this knitter.
Must. Have. My. Ravelry.

3. Row counters. I have such a petpeeve about row counters. When I use them (which isn’t very often) I find them to be troublesome, annoying, and generally in the way. That is why I love the various row counting apps available for the iPad. Just tap the screen at the end of your row and it keeps track of how many rows you have knit. Some fancy apps will even alert you when the pattern row is coming up, keep track of your inc or dec rows, and frog back when (heaven help us) it might be necessary. A very clever tool.

4. It also plays audio books. (Or music, if you prefer.) I love my Audible audio books and I have logged many hours listening while I knit.

5. Angry Birds. Because who doesn’t love flinging little funny birds at fat, green pigs?

Darning Tutorial

When I set out to teach myself to darn I found a few videos on YouTube and just went for it. What I was learning was a basic darning method in which a woven patch is formed to fill the hole. I was a little bothered by how this looked, but I figured that it’s on the bottom of my foot, so who cares? But, now that I have had to darn my socks multiple times, I have gotten bored with that method and discontent with it’s resulting patched-up look. How could I make it look like knitting? I wondered. I came up with what I thought was brilliance and thought I would write a tutorial to show you all my really super awesome new darning technique. I decided to call it “duplicate stitch darning”. Then I thought I had better Google that first to make sure that there isn’t already a such thing (surely I can’t be the first one to think of this). Lo and behold! I was not the first to think of it. Duplicate stitch darning has already been invented. Darn!

However, the way in which duplicate stitch darning, or Swiss darning, is done is actually quite different than my little invention. The idea is the same, the result is the same, and even the name is the same. But Swiss darning is done from the bottom of the hole up using thread guidelines, and mine is from the top down using yarn as the guidelines.

So, I have decided to go ahead and write my little tutorial anyway. This method of darning is more interesting to work and looks a lot nicer than a regular woven darning. Maybe you could use it, too? Okay, enough with the intro. Let’s get this thing going…

Duplicate Stitch Darning – the WoolandChocolate Way

Assemble the ingredients

I’ve got my holey sock and matching yarn, scissors, a needle, and my darning egg.

A quick word on the darning eggs. The Man picked both of these up at an antique store for me for Christmas. I love them. The one that looks a little like a shoe horn is a bit slippy and I haven’t actually used it yet, but it looks fabulous in my yarn cabinet. The darning mushroom with the silver band is an excellent tool and one that I use all the time. When I didn’t have a darning egg, I used a baby bottle. Okay, back to the tutorial.

Position the hole over the darning mushroom and trim away all the loose bits.

Now, take a length of yarn and thread your needle. Sew a running stitch square around the outside of the hole, about 3 stitches in from edge. This provides a good anchor for the patch.

Once you have made a square around the hole, starting from the top, begin stringing your guide lines from side to side, one horizontal line for every knit row.

As you can see, I use the running stitch square as my guide, setting the ends of the lines 3 stitches deep into good fabric.

Now, your yarn should be in the lower right hand corner. Weave your way to the top right corner of the square and begin working a duplicate stitch over the existing stitches. When you get to the hole you will use the horizontal guide lines that you sewed in earlier to complete the duplicate stitch.

Working from the top down, take your needle under the next guide line.

Now, take your needle from right to left through the “v” of the above stitch (as if to work the duplicate stitch).

And repeat, taking the needle under the next guide line from top to bottom.

Working in this way, stack your little “v”‘s in a nice, tidy column all the way to the bottom of the running stitch square, about 3 stitches from the bottom of the hole. Now, weave your needle through the guide lines to the top of the square.

And, starting at the top of the running stitch square, work your three duplicate stitches over the good stitches and proceed to work down the column as before.

In this way, build a knitted patch across the hole.

I like to push the columns to the right once I am finished with each in order to pack them in more tightly. Tension seems to be the trickiest part of this method. As you can see, I err on the loose side, but I am trying to learn to make the “v”‘s more closely matching to the gauge of the knitted sock.

When the hole is patched, weave in the ends.

And  you’re done!

Maybe I am crazy, but I really like the way that looks. I also happen to think that it is pretty hard wearing as well.

There. I did it. My first tutorial ever…..

…. does it make any sense?

A Baby Hat Remix

You may remember this hat.

This is the Stella Pixie Hat. I have knit this hat three times – one for the Munchkin and one for each of my cousin’s twins. It is an easy knit and adorable hat. Everyone ooohs and ahhhs.

Recently a friend of mine asked for help. She has several pregnant friends and needs to kick out a bunch of baby gifts. Enter this hat. It works for both genders, is simple enough for a beginning knitter, and is small enough to finish in time for the baby shower. Except that it is written for fingering weight. I decided that if I rewrote it for worsted weight it would be much easier for my newly knitting friend to complete.

At the same time, I needed a baby knit myself. Well, not for myself, but I needed a quick baby gift for a friend whose pregnancy went by way too quickly for me. You see, about nine months ago, a bunch of my friends in bloggy-land announced their pregnancies. I immediately promised hand knits to each of them. Easy, right? A few little baby things with nine months to complete them in? The problem is that these are not friends that I see every week or even every month. I didn’t see their growing bellies and therefore the time got away from me. Nine months just flies by when you are not the one carrying the baby. So, new babies were popping up all over the place and I had knit nary a stitch for them.

By the time my friend approached me for help with her gift knitting, I was almost all caught up. Just one more. A darling baby girl born to a friend on the other side of the country in late December. So, I sat down one day, figured out the rewrite for the pattern and knit the prototype – a darling Stella Pixie hat in Malabrigo Worsted, Velvet Grapes.

But I didn’t take pictures.

Before you get upset, I will say in my defense that without a little newborn head to model it, it really wasn’t anything worth photographing.

Besides, V needed a new hat and I was getting really good at sizing these things, so I knit one for her. A little bigger, but still the same darling hat in the same softie yarn, modeled on the most beautiful baby girl you will find anywhere. 🙂

Stella Pixie Hat in Malabrigo Worsted Velvet Grapes (Raveled here)

Speaking the Same Language

I finally did it. I went to the knitting night at the local yarn shop. I have been meaning to go for a few months, now, but it is easier said than done. But, last week, I did it. I waved goodbye to the happy brood and drove down the hill to meet some new friends. I spent the evening chatting, knitting, and laughing. On the way home I had a revelation.

I am a knitter with a few knitting friends. But most of the people I know don’t knit. When they ask, “Oh, what are you making?” it is usually just a polite way to acknowledge that I am doing something with my hands while we talk. I learned long ago that they aren’t asking for a long dissertation on the baby hat pattern that I am making. They don’t really care what yarn it is or what my opinion of this particular stitch pattern and they really have no idea how the gob of yarn in my lap will be turned into a cute little baby bonnet.

But I just met a bunch of people that do care. When asked what I was knitting, I first replied with a vague “just a baby hat”. The woman then persisted, “Does the pattern have a name?” I chuckled at myself and then dove into it headfirst with glee at being understood. “It is called the Stella Pixie hat. See how the ribbing slowly gives way to the vertical striping….?”

Suddenly I was in a group of people who said the words “Ravelry”, “Malabrigo”, and “gauge” in their normal conversation. My new knitting bag, which is always admired but never recognized for what it is in my world, was ooohed and aaahed over. “Is that  a Jordana Paige? I have one, too.”

I am blessed to have a lot more knitting friends than most, but this was a fantastic experience. Because of the distance I know it won’t be a weekly habit for me, but I do hope to go back from time to time. Those people speak my language, the language of yarn. The language of fiber. The language of the knitter.

I hope none of you non-knitter friends take offense to this. You know I love ya’ll, too! 🙂