Hall of Finished Projects 2016-All

Monday, September 18, 2017

Holy Project Fest!

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  What a weekend!! My days have gotten so busy this year, busier than any other time in my life that I can actually remember. A great deal of it has to do with me having joined a local Unitarian Universalist Church this year, as well as my knitting and yarn dyeing business doing pretty well (yay!). 

   This past weekend, I got startitis something bad, and ironically, Saturday I ended up spending most of the day working on my HAED (Heaven and Earth Designs) cross stitch project to cool my jets. This one (called Mother and Child):

  Otherwise, this is literally all the projects that I brought with me to work (did I work on each one during lunch? Of course not! I just worked on one!).

1) The designing bug has bitten me and after a few rough starts I am flowing along happily with this side to side shawl in worsted weight (440 yards) with eyelets to spice it up. Test knitting will start by October :). Yarn is my Utah Skies. I cannot wait to see it pool! May be called, "Walk With Me".

2. Next is a Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure (I cannot believe it is free still). This is an earlier version of Utah Skies, but it is more like the beach, instead of the vibrant orange-brown I use now. So yay for a hat that will remind me of the beach! :)

3) Who doesn't love a little crocheting in their life? Hence the Goddess Shawl by Maria Merlino.  I'm making this for those who love a little goddess in their life (and having their backs lol). Making it a little wider than the pattern calls for. We'll see how it goes. Knitpicks Mighty Stitch is just the ticket (super squishy)!

4) I also having with me a shawl I started this weekend called Changing Leaves Shawl by Susan Gressman. I'm using a cake of Lion Brand's Mandala yarn and am looking forward to more colors. :) 

On top of all of these I finally started my husband a pair of toe up socks (hate knitting socks haha). Hurts my elbow and hands to work on socks too much too. But it will be good. 

  This weekend is my birthday, so I'll be heading down to Long Island to be dropped off at a beach for a few hours of knitting. I don't care if it really will be 80, I need to be at the beach and just relaxing. Watch me forget my chair. 

Thank you for the views I received to my blog two weeks ago of angsty poetry. Occasionally it just needs comes out, and I love writing poetry.

  Be well and have a great week!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Angsty Poetry, Check.

Not knitting related.

When my heart is in uproar
When all of my focus is gone
When I need to find steady ground
But all I hear are clamoring voices
Calling for me to keep on moving forward
Keep on sacrificing my dreams.
Perhaps this job will provide stability
But what is the cost to my soul?
The grateful time has faded
The lies and advantage is fading
I don't want to lay here defeated
Typing word by word in my novel
While feeling completely uninspired
Completely used up
Completely fed up
Completely done with how this is going.
No, it's not always bad
And no, it's not the worst job I've had.
But it's time has passed,
I need to move on,
I need to use my education
I need to use my life experience
I need to not be put down
Because there are times I need to be there for my family.

There isn't a story here that is going to be wonderful
There isn't a story here that will have a happy ending
I need to find the good enough story
The story that will bring me back around.

Perhaps my focus will come back,
Perhaps it is just the full moon tonight
Calling me
Telling me
Move into the light.
Move into a place where you can breath
Where you are doing what is right
And politics are not stealing your soul
Where lies are not spoken
And you are not put down for being
Focused on Family
And determined to do the right thing.

The right thing.
Where I am damned if I do
Damned if I don't.
This is the job I'm in.
This is the hell I'm in.
It's not always bad.
But it is not good for my soul.
My soul craves more
More than lies
More than put downs
More than gas lighting
More than the idea
That I have to be here
No matter what
No matter what happens at home
No matter what I'm juggling.
I still have to be perfect.
But I'm not perfect.
I need reality
This isn't reality
It is gaslighting
It is making me feel less
When I do everything asked.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

New Knitter Tips from a Pro

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Are you excited? I am. Because I decided to put forward my top 4 tips for new knitters. These are the 4 things to keep in mind going forward for any new knitter or even someone who just wants to knock it up a notch. 

So let's get going!!

1) Yarn

   I know, I know. Seriously? Of course you need yarn! But not just any yarn. If you are going to enjoy what you are doing, get yarn that is soft to the touch, that you enjoy handling. 
   Budget is an issue, I get that way more than you know, I really do. But even on a budget, you can still get nice yarn! Shop at knitpicks.com, Joann's, Michael's, and use those coupons! :) But you can do it! If all you can afford is acrylic, knitpicks.com has 210 yards of worsted weight acrylic for 1.99.
   Some of my favorite worsted weight yarns that are pretty affordable?

   Brava Worsted (knitpicks)
   Red Heart Softy (I know, but seriously, it is soft)
   Simply Soft 
   Premier Worsted is pretty good.
   Wool-ease is a nice introduction into wool too.

2) Needles
  Oh the weapons of the trade, yes, last minute self-defense in your bag, be aware haha (kind of joking). 
   Anyone who knows me will admit, I am a fan of circular needles, and let me tell you why. I like to stuff my project in my bag sometimes and the circular needles make it so that all I have to is slide the project up the cable and away from the needle tips. Bam, all done.
  If you have migraines, you may want to stay away from metal needles, they trigger my visual issues with any reflection. 
  I do suggest knitpicks needles, any of them. Also Karbonz and Knitters Pride Dreamz

  Now these get expensive, but if you buy one at a time you can save up slowly.
   Having said that, you really can get a set of circulars from even Walmart sometimes and definitely Joann's or Michaels.

3) Blocking tools

    Yes I know, I said blocking tools. Knitting should really be blocked out. It is not like crocheting and it makes a HUGE difference (which is also why you should swatch before you attempt a sweater lol). 
   Blocking mats are best if thick, that way you aren't sticking the surface under your mats with the needles you need to block things out with. I recently found these FANTASTIC blocking mats from amazon (LINK) and used them to finish off my Joji Starting Point Shawl (though I had to fold it in half to block). I was actually able to lift the interlocked mats OFF of the floor without them coming apart. Brilliant!!
    The only other item you need to block your knitting out is the pins! I recently invested in the knitter's pride blocking pins, and they are fantastic, but you need t-pins as well. Wires are nice, but not immediately needed. 
4) Fear

    Here is where I get a little more esoteric.
    This is just yarn and needles, so you need to relax!! Even pro's have to start projects over a few times. It's not a big deal! And sometimes, the pattern is WRONG and it isn't you. This is a craft that you are learning, it is in your genetics to create. As human beings, we have done so for a millenia and we will continue to do so. Nothing in life is perfect and neither will your knitting be, especially as you start out. 

  So take a deep breath and marvel at the fact that you are doing it. You are creating new connections in your brain and nervous system. You are creating something with two sticks and yarn!! :)

Take a deep breath and dive in!
Be Well!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dyeing Yarn Tips: Or What I've Learned

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Just this summer, I dived into the wide world of dyeing. Before I started, I did a ton of research and watched a lot of videos (sometimes over and again). 

After dyeing 30 skeins of yarn (so far, I have 20 more to start on this weekend), this is what I've come up with for tips.

1) If you are going to dye in a pot, get a HUGE pot. Seriously. I started out with this little pot, and I ended up with white spots because the yarn needs to be able to move around and soak up the dye. 

2) Keep the color wheel in hand on your phone. There a dozen pics of one available online, just save the pic. It will help you immensely with trying to decide what colors to use.

3) Pictures are a great source of inspiration, use them for color inspiration, I am a fan of the skylines.

4) Be fearless. The worst that will happen is that you hate what you did and you can simply dye the yarn black, it isn't the end of the world.

5) Take classes, watch videos, buy dyeing books. Educate yourself on techniques and ask questions. 

Some of what I've worked on this summer:

So get out there and dye that yarn!!!

Be Well!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pulling those big girl panties up.

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  Oh yes, it is a post in which I release the quackin, on myself. 

  Do you ever start to take something for granted? And feel that you are owed something because of maybe your education or whatever? Guess what? I've finally learned some humility. What, you didn't know I didn't have any? Well, we all have a little bit of that ego, and a little bit can go a long way sometimes. 

  In 2014, I couldn't find a job in my field, and by the time it was winter, we were running out of heating oil so I went back to the state as an employee and was truly lucky enough to find a job where I was very much appreciated for quite a bit of time. 

  Things change, as everything does, and my frustration at my lack of upward mobility is showing. And I realized today that it is greatly my own fault. My husband and mother have been very ill the past two years and I have had to take quite a bit of time off. So my fault in this is that I didn't realize that the job I have is so important to my family and sometimes that needs to come first, which may mean taking that extra trip back, no matter how late, so that you save some time. It may mean asking people to drive family members to doctor appointments so that you can save your time up. It may mean putting your job first sometimes. 

  Things are a little level now, not great, my mom's health is better but my husband is still not doing great. But everything is level enough that I need to focus on giving back to my job and really be there.

  Writing this is not easy, I was wrong. I took it for granted. I forgot how much I owe to this job and how it came through at a rough time. 

  Sure, I want to finish my novel and become published, but I have a ways to go for that. I would love to work in the yarn and designing field, but that isn't going to be happening any time soon. I would love to do a great many things. But right now, I need to focus on doing what I need to do for my family to support them with the fantastic health insurance that I get through my job that won't be effected by the possible changes in D.C. 

  So I printed out some signs for my desk, to remind me to go humble and get my ass to work. And I am grateful for the job, I just forgot that I was. 

"This job was a gift during a hard time."

"No one owes you anything."

Nope, no one does either. And I need to stop thinking they do. I am where I am because of the choices I have made, good and bad. So time to pull my big girl pants up and be grateful for what I have and accept what I may not like for now. 

Time to grow up.

Be Well,

Friday, June 30, 2017

Game of Thrones, Dyeing Yarn and Projects Galore (Busy Gal here).

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  A little over two weeks until the new season of Game of Thrones starts. I wonder if there are any KAL's going on that day haha. 

  Yes, I am still obsessed with dyeing yarn and manage to get some dyeing in every weekend (so far). This past weekend was an attempt to make self-striping in Wonder Woman colors. Not sure if I managed, but will be cast on a scarf with the wonder woman W in it (wish me luck, it looks great color-wise).

  Then I decided to do some yellow. I have yellow dye in the sample pack I got for christmas, though not my favorite color. What the heck, right? They came out lovely, with one having a little more orange (I apparently didn't wipe down the pot well enough and a drop of pink/red was still on the side of it). But very summer flower fun!

  One challenge that I had this month was to double knit this square for my Geek A Long Blanket (and for a defense against the dark arts class in the Harry Potter Knitting/Crocheting House Cup). The big challenge was that this was not straight double knitting.

  With normal double knitting, you have pairs and the first stitch in the pair corresponds to the appropriate color in the chart you are following, then you do the second stitch in the pair (a purl) in the other color, always. Well, I wanted the S of the superman to be fully reversible. You can find the chart HERE. And for good measure, if you are interested in doing your own Geek-A-Long Blanket, go HERE. This square was done in knitpicks.com swish worsted and size 4 needles.

  I've also been working on a baby blanket (had to kick my butt in gear as it's due before July 10th.. eek!!). It is called Under the Sea and is basically several squares with crocheted animals stitched on top. The pattern for all of the animals is pricey, not going to lie, but I anticipate making a few of these squares and framing them to hang in children's rooms. So hopefully worth the investment. Here is Mr. Crab, without his mouth.

  Lastly, yes, I'm still plugging away on the Joji shawl "Starting Point", the MKAL is officially over but I'm still plugging away and hope to finish it soon.

   Perhaps the shawl will be done next month, if I have some luck, or before the next MKAL I am participating in starts in August, that one is called Part of Your World by LilyGo. I have this gradient yarn that is 1200 yards, maybe I'll use it for this one, not completely sure. Perhaps I will try to dye it myself.

  In other news:

  Paperwork for the local fairs is due Monday, should I submit one of my finished pieces? I have no idea which one... Not sure on this one. 

   Goal for today? Get the registration ticket changed out lol.

Be Well, Happy Fourth of July, Happy Canada Day!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chronic Depression, Dyeing Yarn and Cables Galore

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   Dealing with my chronic depression again today. Even posted on Instragram a few things that people may not know about others who deal with depression every day. 

1) Constantly lonely (even when surrounded by people)
2) Suicidal ideation (not plans, just wishful thinking at times)
3) Not feeling as if we deserve love.
4) Hiding it from others (chronic depression is functional depression...)
5) Always feeling sad. And I mean always.

   What is getting me down lately? Lots of stuff, but at this moment it is how much I wish I was working in my field. But because I have kids and a really good paying job, I cannot take the substantial pay cut (even if it is just initial), not to mention the over $600 dollars I would need to dish out the first year or two to be fully licensed. Pay cut and that money? Not in the cards. 

  Which makes me feel like such a hypocrite. I was just telling someone today to make a list of all the jobs they could ever possibly want, sky's the limit. And here I am feeling stagnate to be a good mother. Life is rough, isn't it?

   But I still find good things to make life enjoyable. It's not torture or anything haha. But maybe this is what being adult is, giving up some dreams to be there for your kids, right?

  There was yarn dyeing happening this weekend, and I am out of purple dye (boo hoo!!!) 

Check it out:

Seriously in love with dyeing yarn and not going to stop. Planning on some yellow yarn with maybe a teal green speckled on it. We'll see!

Also managed to get a good way into A Latte Can Happen, by Erica Jackofsky. Using knitpicks.com stroll tonal in inverness. Put it aside to start a baby blanket that needs to be done way too soon... (eek!).

  Keep your heads up, everyone. One step at a time and find joy where we can. Cuddling with our kids. Chasing our kids like a monster (growling and all). Dyeing yarn, knitting, crocheting, writing, singing. Find the joy.

Be Well!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dyeing Adventure... Addiction Level Attained

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  This past winter, my husband had gifted me with yarn dye from knitpicks.com (Greener Shades Dye). The good side, is that the the dye is really REALLY fun. The downside? It's a tiny amount of dye so I have a feeling that this summer I will run out real quick. I have already researched and will likely buy some Dharma Acid Dye in my favorite colors.

  The first idea I had, was to practice dyeing a solid color. I had the main primary colors, but that left out outliers such as pink. But I thought a nice pink and then later my oldest daughter and I could poke dye into it and make it a little like cotton candy ice cream.

  So I took the ruby red and mixed the dye, hoping to use less of it to create a nice pink. But to be honest, I didn't know how much to mix. The instructions that came literally said nothing about how much of the powder to use....

   So yeah. No idea what I was doing. But hey, first time so let's swing with it. 

  Using stroll undyed yarn from knitpicks.com, I took a skein out (462 yards) and soaked it in citric acid and a room temperature bath for 15 minutes. At this point, I ran to my phone and downloaded the instructions for how to dye a solid color from Hue Loco. 

  If you go to this page and sign up for a pdf of instructions, it is emailed automatically to you and I saved it on my phone. It was a lifesaver!!  I followed it to the T. :)

  Added lukewarm water to my stainless steel pot and some citric acid (about a tablespoon). Once the yarn had been soaking for fifteen minutes I added the red dye to the pot, then the yarn. Worried that it wouldn't be enough, I added a little more once I put it in over the yarn. Then I turned the heat on and waited for it to come to a simmer.

  Lesson's I learned at this point?
1) Yarn is always darker in the pot than it will be once it dries.
2) I need better gloves so I can open up the white spots to absorb all the dye.
3) Don't be afraid to add more dye to the white spots, perhaps with a syringe.
4) I need to tie the yarn with a darker scrap of yarn because I could not see the sections tied in the yarn itself... I did this from this point on.

  So it heated up, came to a simmer and I turned it off to not touch it until it had cooled completely.

  A bit more tonal because I hadn't really gotten in there and separated the yarn to get the dye throughout the whole thing, but the color was pleasing!

  Next, I decided to try and make a variegated yarn. I did this by following the same steps above (soaking the yarn, and adding water and citric acid to the pot as well, same room temperature, but less water than with a solid color.

  The reason for less water is because I didn't want the dye I was going to add to mix as much in the water. 

   Using River Blue, as well as more Ruby Red (but just a little bit of it). I did this skein, but again, I didn't use enough dye I learned later. I was supposed to be using a teaspoon for 2 inches of water in my little dye containers, but I was using a quarter teaspoon and more than two inches of water. 

  This time I got more into the pot, added more dye and tried to find all the white spots. Adding the red was a ton of fun!!

  I joked that it ended up more like Painter's Blue Jeans haha. 

  The last skein I did was after I discovered I was using too little dye (and I realized that I needed to by more dye soon as I only had a 1/4 ounce of dye in each color). 

  Using Amethyst Purple, River Blue and Ruby Red, I went to town. Still working on those white spots though.

  Finally, my oldest daughter and I decided to test the microwave method. The idea here is that you place everything out on a paper-lined counter, with plastic wrap placed out. You soak the yarn then put it out on the plastic wrap. 
   We wanted to give the pink skein some more color, remember the cotton candy ice cream idea? Well, we went to town and I will be re-skeining it to redistribute the colors. We used a plastic fork to poke the Amethyst Purple and River Blue dye into the yarn, then I ended up pouring what was left of the dye into white spots haha. Why not right?

  Then you wrap the yarn in the plastic wrap, I put it in the microwave in a paper bowl and nuked it for 2 minutes. Then let it cool down completely before I rinsed it in SOAK and room temperature water. 

  Cotton Candy Monster?
  This last step I did with all of the yarn after it had cooled down completely, almost no yarn had any residual dye (because, as usual) I was usually really stingy with it (though I didn't know it).

  In all, I had a BALL and will continue to show you my dyeing projects as the summer progresses. It is best to only do this in my house during the summer, windows open (wool stinks hot and wet haha), and they can dry outside on the drying wrack. 

  On a side note, my adventure with making sock blanks with the knitting machine pictured here from Michael's:

  Violent failure. It did not work at all. So I gave up and caked two skeins of undyed yarn to knit together two at a time into a sock blank that I will be dyeing later. More time intensive but at least it is two skeins at once.  I really cannot say more on that matter, it was the most frustrating part of the weekend.

Be Well!