My Adventures in Knitting, truly my Yarn-escape!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Yarns - A Cup Cozy

     It's a snowy day here in Colorado, not unusual for October.  But the sun is shining and the yellow leaves looked like they survived in some spots.  I'm knitting and drinking tea, as usual, and fighting with my tablet and laptop to get my storage down to post pictures.  Sigh, I give up.  They were really nice pictures.

© Julie Tarsha 2009

     I started knitting a nice cup cozy in a beautiful orange, a nice rusty tone of Heartland yarn in Yosemite.  The pattern has cables entwined in it and as the name implies, it buttons up - Button Up your Cup.  Just looking at the color is an autumn treat.  It also is the starting color on a wrap I'd like to start making when I have cleared off some of my WIPs.  Coffee Shop Wrap is a free pattern of a knitted huge shawl, but this one uses Lion's cotton yarn and I want to use the Lion's Heartland yarn used in the crocheted version - Tea House Wrap, but maybe colors close to the Coffee Shop Wrap.  I love the colors of Heartland; after my own heart, all named after National Parks.  Yosemite is a start when I feel free enough to do it.  For now, Christmas presents rule the day, my cup cozy just snuck in.  I guess dreaming is harmless.

© Two of Wands

     I'm reading an oh-so-good book on Kindle.  Oh my, excellent.  It's on sale and I got a heads up through BookBub.  "The Mountain Between Us" is a riveting read of two people stranded in a snowy wilderness after a small plane crash.  A doctor wants to get home after his flight is cancelled because of a snow storm.  Instead of waiting it out at a hotel he walks next door to a private airport and hires an old man to pilot him to Denver for a connecting flight.  He invites a stranger he just met to join him in the flight, a young woman who is rushing to get home for her wedding.  During this whole experience the doctor is talking to his wife on a recorder, recounting their past together.  So continually the story of the doctor's romance with his wife comes out as the two in the present try to survive.  Enough said, I hate the plot being given away and I find even the jacket cover description too in depth.  Just take my word for it, it's great.  If you like to know more - "The Mountain Between Us" GoodReads

     Today I'm also finishing the last details for a fundraiser I've run since last year's devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico.  Last year we had just joined a group that meets in a local Coffeehouse on Sunday mornings to discuss almost anything and everything.  Led by a Philosophy professor from a local college, most of us are Christians, but many of us are much more Liberal than many Christians found in Colorado Springs, the mecca of Fundamentalist Christianity.  I appreciate the time to openly discuss and bat around concepts.  We were invited to come by a longtime missionary friend.  By the time we joined this group, they were already contributing to another missionary that was going into Puerto Rico to help after the hurricane of September 2017.  He takes groups of volunteers for week trips into Puerto Rico and the local government hosts them (The volunteers only pay for airfare to get there).  Each time they go they target homes that need repair.  I came up with the idea of running a Night of Music for Puerto Rico.  The cafe was also a hot spot for musicians with a stage.  So began our efforts.  Our first Night of Music helped a newly widowed old woman get the second story of her house fixed after the roof blew off so it could now be the roof.  Also, it paid for the paint for her bathroom.  She was very happy!

"The Storys"

     Next Monday night at Jives Coffee Lounge in Old Colorado City we'll run the third music night from 7 - 10 PM.  We have a great lineup of musicians, including a well known Folk Group "The Storys".  Also, the mayor of Cayey, P.R. Rolando Ortiz will speak and philosophy students from the local college on Puerto Rico.  If you're not able to join us please consider donating.  To the right, in the margin is a picture of the PR flag on a house, push it and it'll get you to a GoFund Me page that directly gives to the mission's PayPal account (not me).  We often get feedback on how the money is used and I'm impressed with how great it is to have a direct way to give money to help and Puerto Ricans still need lots of help.  "On Hurricane Maria Anniversary, Puerto Rico Is Still in Ruins"

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Yarns - Knitting in Plaid

     Shopping at Target I found a beautiful poncho, a perfect in-between coat for Fall.  Then going onto Michaels I had this on and of course, there's this beautiful skein of yarn that perfectly matches my poncho.  Yarn - Loops & Threads® Impeccable™ Yarn, Ombre

     At first, I thought of fingerless gloves, but I realized the yarn wasn't right for that and I thought a matching thin scarf would be perfect for around my neck to keep that Fall wind out.  I hadn't thought of it at the time, but it was a variegated yarn that if knit or crochet just right it will come out in plaid.  I found a knit scarf that did that: Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks Scarf, but this was more complicated than I wanted.  Not that the pattern is that hard, I just wanted mindless knitting for downtime.  I wanted to do something simple.  This crochet scarf also goes up well- Christmas Gifts.  It was made based on this crochet technique described here - Crochet Planned Pooling but I find knitting more peaceful.  So I decided to try and unlock whatever mix of stitch count would give me plaid. (A technique described in detail in my blog post - Pooling Plaid Scarf and a video tutorial - Knit Argyle Color Pooling, but to do a thin scarf I do half the colors and half the cast on.) 

© SierraK

RHWL Renaissance & LTI Stillness © LizSvoboda

     I followed my last pattern where I was successful - Pooling Plaid Scarf.  Well, this time I was stumped.  It's probably possible, but it alluded me.  After 2 days and MANY rip outs, I gave up and settled for at least a pleasing design emerging.  In a way, this pattern (or lack of) might work better in complimenting the square pattern of my poncho.  Bottom line, it's pretty and I like the squishy feel of a K2, P2 design.  I basically followed my instructions for casting on in  Pooling Plaid Scarf and then pulled off till 34 stitches.  It's not perfect because you start with a knit on one side and a purl on the other and I prefer a knit start both sides.  To get the perfect knit start on both sides you need to cast on a multiple of 4 stitches which gives that K2, P2 evenly across.  But doing that this time didn't produce a pattern.  I was stuck between the colors marching straight up, or being a dappled Monet.  Giving up I decided I could live with doing a purl first on one side, as long as I looked at the previous stitches to remember where I was.

 My Pooling Plaid Scarf

     I'm currently reading the third book in the Rose Island series by Kristen Noel Fischer Bianca's Joy.  I'm really enjoying this one.  The second book "Jillian's Promise" was good, but lagged halfway through - Goodreads' Review.  

      Bianca's Joy has a theme I can relate to.  She's struggling with her weight and how to have a good attitude and not feel unlovable.  It's a thoughtful piece and I love that the guy who loves her, sees only her and he thinks she's beautiful.  Makes you realize that our self-image as American women might be very formed by the media and a "skinny jeans" culture and guys might not see as we do.  I was floored when my husband decades ago told me he liked a woman with meat on her bones and that I was too skinny when he met me (we have our 40th anniversary since our first date Oct. 28th).  It's an endearing story. Goodreads' Review of "Bianca's Joy"

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Yarns - Tying up Loose Threads

     I finished two projects I had hanging around, my Fingerless Mitts and my Beach Hairband.  I'm just sewing in the loose hanging yarns while I read and drink tea.  It feels good to get some things done.  And my hands will appreciate the mitts.  It went from the 80's here a few weeks ago and now it's in the 30's - 40's in the day.  No in between seasons in Colorado.  Just sharp temperature changes.  A little snow in the past few days, but the leaves are just turning a bit.  But for my walks I need my fingerless mitts, just right for a Fall walk.

Pattern and project notes - Beach Hairband

     The Beach Hairband still needs blocking then hopefully Friday I'll send it to my daughter who is better than I am in knitting.  I think the lacework will still impress her.

     I just finished reading a free book on Kindle by Kristen Noel Fisher that I really liked - "Anna's Courage" Rose Island Book 1.  It was a thoughtful romance dealing with deep issues of overcoming death and fear and moving on and having faith in God in spite of tragedy.  Goodreads Review - Anna's Courage

(Please skip this part if you're not into religion or faith. To me, it's a fascinating debate that opened my eyes, but not meant to offend.)

     I think grasping that bad things can happen as a Christian and what to do with that is hard.  I've been there.  There are some hidden ideological questions in this book "Anna's Courage" that personally, I'm not sure I agree on, but they're a debatable aspect of Christianity that most others probably wouldn't notice.  The author has a "God's in control" sort of theme which seems innocent and in some ways might be totally true (I'm always willing to admit I could be wrong).  But if we were to blindly say God is in total control that makes him out as a puppeteer.  It's also a Calvinistic belief that just kind of gets past down through the generations.  It's comforting in a way.  I'm not sure if it's right or wrong.  Somehow I think it does God and man a disservice because the question of happenstance is a biblical truth too.*  So life can just happen.  Also, I believe God has given us a large amount of free will to decide what to do.  I take a little unknown stance called "Arminianism" a position between "Openness" (God is blind to whatever will happen to Man on purpose and just lets things play out naturally) and "Calvinism" where God is in total control, knows what will happen and orchestrates everything.  I found Arminianism just in the middle.  God knows what will happen but lets us be.  I think He intervenes when we pray, but not always.  Maybe knowing the outcome of our prayers are not always good for us.  It's hard to grasp but I believe God allows sorrow and difficulties in our lives for a reason.  So prayer is important in my view, but we also are free to make our own choices.  But I'm sure God has intervened in places where there's no prayer.  And God's free not to answer our prayers, we don't manipulate him with them, but of course, that leaves us with why didn't He answer our prayers?  We can't always make sense of things and I've found that having the faith that He knows, even if I don't is enough for me.  Also, tragedy is not God's fault.  Did He allow it and why?  Also very good questions in times of hurt.  I don't know.  I also believe in the reality of evil, but I'm not one to want to talk about that.  But it has a play in circumstances at times.  But I'm also good with not knowing or figuring it all out.  OK, I'm betting this is more than what you wanted to know, but it does affect how you view tragedy.  If you blame God for doing everything because he's supposedly in perfect control, you're going to be jaded and angry at God.  But if you factor in the randomness of life, and man's free will, then things look different.  I do believe in God's ability to answer prayer, I know His hands are on my life.  But Life is Life, death, sickness, it comes.  I think how we react to it and God is the important part.  Acceptance for me that life isn't perfect, but I can perfectly deal with life prayerfully, with a good attitude and that makes all the difference.

I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Yarns - A Basket Filled with Fall Fibery Goodness

      These days with Christmas gifts I want to be done and a few projects I just had to do, my basket of handiwork is full.  I overdid it, indeed.  But I'm finding I'm getting things accomplished and seeing things grow, so there's hope in sight of finishing.  I feel the most peace when I work on those gifts.  Getting them done means a lot to me.

     One of my projects I laid aside last year and just picked up again is Boiled Fisherman's Mittens.  Last year I made a pair for my son living in Maine and he said they were the best he'd worn.  He works outside as a carpenter so good gloves matter and these were better than the new super ones he had bought.  So now that he's got a job as a Carpenter for a sustainable building company (his dream job) I want to perfect his mittens and get him another pair. 

     Made in a natural wool so they shrink (I use Simply Wool Bulky from KnitPicks) they start out huge and he used several methods to shrink them down.  My project, pattern and his methods of felting them are found in this blog post - Boiled Fisherman's Mittens.  The original pattern is found in New England Today and is a neat story of how the pattern was recreated from an old pair of mittens made from an old woman who made them for local fishermen but died - Boiled Wool Mittens Instructions.  This year I'm trying to make them a bit narrower by not adding the increase at the wrist.  My son wanted them snugger.  Also, he wanted the cuffs longer so there was no gap between his coat and mitt.  So far they look really long and definitely slimmer, so the proof is in the shrinking, to see how they fit.  We'll see how they work.  And I just created another blog post with the pattern on it because I'm concerned I'll lose it.  Some people have had a hard time linking to the New England Today magazine.  So here's just the pattern - Boiled Wool Fisherman's Mitten Pattern.

     For reading, I set aside some more serious reads and have been reading some Romance novels.  I just have had it with the news the past week and for a weekend I didn't read the news and started just a nice light book. Sometimes I need to just check out and give myself something just softer to read.   "A Promise Of Home" by Wendy Vella begins with Branna O'Donnell entering her old hometown after years away.  She lived there and went to High School for only 3 years but she shared a strong relationship with an older woman who leaves her her home after she dies.  Right at the start both she and her former classmate Jake spar and are at odds.  Both are reclusive and recovering from deep trauma.  The story is engaging, believable, funny and interesting so far.  And free!  If you ever want a free or reduced Kindle to read I get e-mails from these sources - BookBubThe Fussy Librarian, and Early Bird Books.  Often I do find great books and authors and it then leads me to new authors to read.  I have seen my favorite authors reduced like Diana Gabaldon and my favorite cookbook, so it's a good source, some good, some not.

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Boiled Wool Fisherman's Mitten Pattern

I'm copying the pattern of the Fisherman's Boiled Wool Mittens here because often the link to the New England Today article where the pattern is isn't working.  So this is a back-up.  (Please note it is an interesting article to read.)  Here's my previous blog post on how to shrink them (according to my son), it took a lot of effort, and finally, he figured out the best way, a dryer -  Boiled Fisherman's Mittens

From the New England Today article - Boiled Wool Mittens Instructions

I used size #8 double pointed needles and Simply Wool Bulky  Some knitters in Ravelry used Cascade Eco Wool Yarn.


Yarn: Two skeins Bartlett yarns, 2- or 3-ply fisherman yarn, or other worsted-weight wool with lanolin, used singly.
Equipment: Four number 4 double-pointed needles, or size needed to knit correct gauge.
Gauge: Five stitches equal one inch.
On size four double-pointed needles, cast on 12, 15, and 15 stitches, a total of 42 stitches on three needles. Knit two, purl one until wristband measures four inches.
Then, first round: place last purl stitch on first needle. Purl one, knit two, purl one. Knit rest of round, increasing two stitches on each needle for a total of 48 stitches.
Second round: start thumb gore. Purl one, increasing one stitch in each of the next two stitches, purl one. Knit around, and knit rounds three, four, and five, maintaining the two purl stitches as a marker.
Sixth round: purl one, increase in the next stitch, knit two, increase in the next stitch, purl one (eight stitches, including two purls). Knit around. Knit three more rounds.
Continue to increase this way every fourth row until you have 14 stitches for the thumb gore, including the two purl stitches. Knit three more rounds and place the 14 stitches on a string.
Cast on 10 stitches to bridge the gap and divide the stitches 18 to a needle (total 54 stitches). Knit up 4 to 4-1/2 inches from thumb for the hand.
Begin decreasing in next round:
Knit two together, knit seven. Repeat around. Knit two rounds. Knit two together, knit six, and repeat around. Knit two rounds. Knit two together, knit five, and repeat around. Knit two rounds. Knit two together, knit four, and repeat around. Knit one round. Knit two together, knit three, and repeat around. Knit one round. Knit two together around. Break the yarn and draw up the remaining stitches on the tail, using a yarn needle. Darn the tail back and forth across the tip of the mitten. Thumb: Pick up from thumb gore seven stitches on each of two needles and one stitch from each side of the thumbhole, a total of 16 stitches on two needles. Pick up the 10 stitches from the palm side of the thumbhole on a third needle. Knit two rounds. Next round, decrease one stitch on each end of the third needle. There are now eight stitches on each needle. Knit 2 to 2-1/2 inches.
Next round, decrease: knit two together, knit two, and repeat around. Knit one round. Next round, knit two together, knit one, and repeat around. Break yarn and draw up remaining stitches on the tall, using a yarn needle. Darn the end into the tip of the thumb. Work all other loose ends into the fabric of the mitten.
Crochet a loop at the edge of the cuff for hanging the mitten to dry. Use the tail left from casting on, if possible. To shrink: soak the mittens in boiling hot water, squeeze them out and dry them on a radiator. I shrink mine in the dryer on the hot setting, but this takes out some of the oil. Some men say to dry them in the freezer. This takes a long, long time. Some claim they soak their mittens in fish gore, then wash them in hot water. However you choose to shrink your mittens, the first shrinking will not complete the trick, but the mittens will continue to shrink in use. Don’t give up.
End of Article

  • - Note I use a size #8 double pointed needles and my son found putting them in a dryer and keeping a watch on them and rewetting them till they're the right size works better than other methods (like boiling, despite the name).  Check out my blog post above for shrinking instructions - Boiled Fisherman's Mittens.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Yarns: A Fingerless Mitt Among Changing Aspens

     When the cold wind blows you grab your yarn and in this case, it was Capra DK Yarn in Thicket, wool with a touch of cashmere.  We went camping a night on the other side of Pikes Peak mountain from where we live at Mueller State Park

      We reserved the last site, a walk-in tent site for the night to see the glow of Aspens at Peak.  We've done a lot of summer camping, but not in the cold.  At 9,300 ft. when the sun sets it gets cold, especially with a wind kicking up off the rolling hills and peaks.  But the view was worth it!  I started my Cestari Fingerless Mittens (free pattern) in my camp chair in the last rays of sunshine as my husband started a fire. (Detailed instructions on my version of the Mitts done in a circular fashion with a thumb added below!)

     I drank a Pumpkin Coffee Latte made on a camp stove, yummy!  The view was spectacular.  Then I got on a few rows huddled over a fire.  Ate a swift dinner of beans and a veggie hotdog as the sun set and the wind began to blow.  We retreated to the tent to bundle up.  My husband fell asleep and by the camp light hanging overhead I knit and read the end of my book on a tablet - "After You" by Jojo Moyes (I kept dragging it out, reading little bits at a time, not wanting the story to end).


     The next day we left our site and headed down a hiking trail to find a spot for lunch and we found a grouping of lichen-covered rocks, under huge pines.  The sun finally had come out, it was warm and we had a perfect place for the afternoon to read.  And I knit a bit and stared at the scenery.  Wishing I never had to leave.

Fingerless Mitt Instructions

      I took the pattern Cestari Fingerless Mittens (not available now) and altered it a bit. Cast on 35 sts which is good for small & Medium or 40 sts for Large. I cast on 35 stitches and used 4 double pointed needles to knit in the round (instead of the knit in the flat pattern, I didn't want an inch hem in my mitt).  A trick for circular knitting is found in TinCanKnits - Casting On to Circulars.  When casting on (using Long-tail cast-on) I add one stitch and move it over to the other needle to create a smooth edge, no jog.  Remember you are doing garter to start, 4 rows.  But now you're in the round, so I did my first row as purl (because Long-tail cast on creates an extra knit row), the second knit, purl, then knit, then I just kept on in knit.  I knit for about 2 1/4 inches, then I switched to a flat knit, lining up to where I started (the tail of the yarn hangs down below, but you could mark it at the beginning).  Knitting one way, purling back.  This leaves your thumb hole which I did for 2 inches before going back and knitting in the round.  At the beginning of each row knit or purl, I slipped the first stitch to avoid a knot forming.  Note you will find the tension on your stitches different from below where it's in the round to when you changed to knitting flat a bit different, that's normal and I was OK with that imperfection.  After the hole, I knit in the round to match the same length as below (about 2 1/4 ") and I did garter for 4 rows and bound off (this is important!) with a needle 2 sizes up, I used a size #8, so the bind off was nice a loose at your wrist.  You might notice the way I did the thumb below kept each mitt ambidextrous!  That way you can grab either mitt and it will work perfectly for either hand. 

Thumb Instructions

     I have one fingerless mitt done and I added a thumb because I didn't like a cold thumb.  Pick up 20 stitches around the thumb hole with the right side of the mitt facing you.  It was about one stitch per each stitch around the hole and an extra stitch at the bottom.  Also go back and pull those cast on stitches a bit tight with a needle before you start so no holes or gaps.  When I started knitting the thumb in the round with 3 needles (it's awkward at first, you're all thumbs!) I worked the tail end of the yarn where I started the cast on into a few stitches to secure it.  I knit about 5 rows and then decreased by 4 stitches by knitting together two stitches at the bottom of the thumb with a plain stitch between and two at the top, also with a plain stitch between.  I knit till it felt right (about 10 rows since the decrease), fitting it on as I went.  Cast off with a larger needle like a #8.

 And use this technique to finish off cuffs and thumb holes - Jogless Finish When Binding Off in the Round

     I finished "After You" by Jojo Moyes and I loved it at points and felt it dragged at others. I so wished I had started the series in the correct order because now I was ready to read "Still Me", the third book, which I read first.  I even tried to start it again, but I'm just not good a revisiting a story I just read.  But "After You"(second book) ends with Louisa getting on the plane for New York, leaving her boyfriend behind for a new adventure, hesitantly with tears in her eyes.  "Still Me", I think it's the best of the three and it opens with her rambling on about herself to the security guard in the airport in New York.  Sigh.  Next time, maybe in 5 years or so, I'll re-read it all in order.

     I'm just starting Jojo Moyes book "The Girl You Left Behind".  

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