Posted in Crafting

Elementary, Watson! or, SGAA V Begins!

This past weekend, we began our last adventure knitting our way through Sherlock Holmes’s stories over on Ravelry.  Sherlock’s Great Afghan Adventure V – aka: SGAA V – began!

Our first story is the novel, The Valley of Fear.

Now, I’ll freely admit, I’m not a big reader of the Sherlock novels.  The short stories are easier for me to keep up with, so I tend to focus on those.  However, even though I don’t usually read the longer stories, I DO keep up with the knitting!  And, voila!  Square 1 is complete!

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square #1 – The Valley of Fear

This was a really fun and quick knit to do!  We’ll be utilizing the cables and lacework we’ve used before, it looks like, and the designs are truly unique.  I’m looking forward to next month and finding out which story it’s based off of as well as the square design!

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Posted in Crafting

Matallurgy Shawl WIP

It feels like forever since I last updated.  I was trying to finish the Metallurgy Shawl before posting again … but I just can’t!  I love this shawl pattern!!!  I’ve tried to work on it daily, but between work picking up and my writing muses taking over more of late, I haven’t dedicated as much time to it as I’d like.  Still, progress is being made.

About a week ago, I finished the main body section – nothing complicated there, just some garter stitching with YOs to increase periodically until I had enough stitches.  Easy Peasy.

The edging looked to be more of a challenge, and in some ways it has been.  First, it took me a bit to wrap  my head around how the patter would work.  I’ll admit, I’m used to ‘edging’ being something that you knit back and forth on all 229 stitches at the same time.  But a quick look at the directions indicated that wasn’t going to be the case.  At some point before I started, though, I realized it would have to be knit up the side — 27 new stitches connecting to the edge of the 229 every other row.  Once I was able to visualize that (I’m more of a visual learner with things like this), most of my worries fled.

metallurgy some edging
Metallurgy shawl with part of the edging – pattern by VeryBusyMonkey over on Ravelry

That isn’t to say the pattern itself wasn’t challenging!  Still, after one time through the repeat, I’ve got the general idea.  I’m now on my fourth repeat and things are moving along splendidly!  (I did manage to drop a stitch somewhere at the beginning of this repeat which threw me off for about four rows, but I finally back tracked and sorted it out)

edging detail
Close up of edging on Metallurgy Shawl 

I’m going to be a little disappointed when I reach the end of this one, I think, simply because I am enjoying the edging pattern on it so much!  There’s a bit of a trick to it, and I have to be careful on counts to keep it lined up right, but I love the way it’s twisting around itself as I go!  In an odd sort of way, it kind of reminds me of the element stones in the movie The Fifth Element.  Hoping by the next time I feel the urge to update I’ll have it complete and be working on the next!

(Also, new Sherlock KAL starts this weekend!!!!!  Lot’s of bouncing over here for that one!)

Posted in Crafting, personal thoughts

Too Much (Knitting) Time On My Hands!

Two weeks ago, I decided to pick up Mom’s Dorothy Sayers project, to see if I could finish the project for her in her memory.  I am glad to say, things are progressing well!  I found a charting program to use which will also make written directions for the charts.  These will just need a little touching up to make them easily comprehensible and, thankfully, I can copy/paste them from the format they are generated in.  Since purchasing the program, I have charted the last two squares for the afghan as well as part of the border edge.  I am currently working on knitting up one of the squares while a fellow knitter who also knew Mom through the Sherlock knitting group is working on the other.  All in all, over two weeks things have been going well on that front!

However, this past weekend, I started to come down with a very bad head cold thanks to the boss at work, and this week has been absolutely miserable.  I don’t usually get sick, colds included, so when I do it usually ends up being a pretty bad one.  All the usual stuff going along with it, I (and my very sore nose and aching chest from all the coughing/sneezing!) will be very glad once I’m back to full health!  In the meantime, I’ve been coming to work (because someone has to be here, right?).  My job is to answer the phones, sort through the email and stuff, and type up the things the boss needs me to do for him.  He’s been down with this thing a week longer than I have, so I haven’t had much on that last front, and the emails don’t care if I’m sick or sound like the worst frog in all the world, but answering the phone over the last two days has been interesting!  Thank goodness, most people have been very understanding!  The big downside to this misery is, however, that I can’t focus on any ‘complicated’ knitting patterns.  Lace, cables, colorwork … etc., none of it.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I need to stay engaged in what I’m doing because I hate being bored.  That said, and especially at work (when I’m not writing — which isn’t happening just now because of the very bad cold), having a knitting project on hand is the perfect solution.  I just need something uncomplicated for the short term.

That said, I finished a shawl I began last year that got put on hiatus for Christmas knitting.  It will make a lovely gift for someone this year, perhaps.  Still, most of the other WIPs I have are more of a complicated nature.  (Did I mention I like challenges that keep me from getting bored?  LOL)

I’ve had some Madelinetosh in my stash that I purchased for a different project but I found an alternative after I purchased it.  MadTosh will NOT go wasted in MY house, however!

Four Elements Shawls
Madelinetosh – Tosh Merino Light: From L to R:  Antique Moonstone (BL), Cardinal (TL), Rainwater (BR), Medieval (TR)

Several weeks back, I was looking through Ravelry’s forum threads for upcoming KALs for March.  I found one for a shawl that looked interesting, and upon further investigation discovered it was part of a ‘set’ of shawls.  I purchased the group of four patterns, under the title the Four Elements, designed by Verybusymonkey, and set it aside for something to do later, down the road.  Each takes approximately 400-420 yards of yarn, one of each of these skeins, so I figured they’d make good work/travel projects.

That moment came this week.  Having finished the previously mentioned WIP, when I was home that night I spotted the pattern and yarn sitting nearby.  A quick look assured me the nature of the first one wouldn’t be overly taxing for my mind, as muddled as it is with the cloud of the cold, and I quickly plopped both bag of yarn and pattern into my ‘take to work knitting bag.’  The next day, I started the first one listed in the pattern: Metallurgy.  I chose to use the Antique Moonstone for this shawl.

metallurgy and tea
The beginnings of Metallurgy, with bonus photo of Rose Hip Tea I’ve been drinking to help with the cold!

That was on Tuesday.  As of Tuesday night, progress looked more like this:

Metallurgy Shawl 1

The nicest part of this shawl so far is that it’s all garter stitch, with some YOs tossed in to increase stitches.  The first section is a 34 row repeat of this – the perfect type of knitting that I don’t need to focus more than a little (for the YOs) and I can do while reading something on my computer or watching the live camera from Old Faithful.  (surprisingly, watching it snow there this week has been a very soothing thing!)  This photo is approximately 10 rows in.  I’m currently up to 21 rows.  The only question is whether I’ll be able to keep focusing on it today/tomorrow, or if the cold and/or work get in the way.

Still, it’s moving along surprisingly quickly.  I love the stitch definition MadTosh gives, and this color is gorgeous!  Sadly, they’re out of stock at the moment at my favorite online site. 😦

The three remaining shawls in the group are called:

  1. Dendrology – I’ll use the Cardinal for this
  2. Meteorology – I’ll either use the Rainwater or switch to another skein I have at home called Fathom (a lovely deep blue), I haven’t quite decided
  3. Geology – I’ll use the Medieval on this one

This isn’t to say that the shawls don’t have their challenges!  Some have more patterning on them than others.  I just happened to select one that has more garter stitching at the beginning.  Which, given my constant state of sniffling and sneezing, makes it easy to pause without losing my place while I make a mad dash for the tissue box …!

Posted in Crafting, personal thoughts

Knitting In Memory of Mom

Like a lot of knitters and crocheters, I tend to haunt Ravelry in search of patterns or KALs and the like.  Yesterday, the woman who has been running the Sherlock’s Great Afghan Adventure MKAL series posted up the links for the next and final KAL of the series: Five.

Perhaps I shoudl back up a few steps to give you some context.

Back in 2014, my mother joined this group and started with the first afghan in the series.  She tried over the next couple of years as they worked on #1 and #2, to convince me to join her in it.  I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes, don’t get me wrong, but based on what Mom was showing me, it honestly didn’t grab me.  (Or, maybe I was simply intimidated by her.  She had this thing about embroidering her squares with little additional details which really made them pop, but when you’re the daughter and you had to teach yourself to knit at 14 because her reply to me asking to learn was, “Go read the book,” well, you get the idea)  It was one of those situations where I wish I’d known the phrase my son likes to use with me right now when I ask if he wants to do something with me that he would rather not.  “You do you, Mama Bear.  You do you.”

Like I said, I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes.  I loved watching Jeremy Brett portray Holmes in a traditional interpretation, particularly when I lived by myself out in Montana and taught high school for a few years.  Thank goodness for cable TV and A&E back then!

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Jeremy Brett and David Burke as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

In more recent years, the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law interpretation has been fun (I just wish there were more!), and even my son enjoys them a great deal.  When I suggest watching Sherlock Holmes, his immediate response is, “Only the RDJ version!”

I have also grown quite fond of the more modern take on the stories entitled Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

benedict cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson.

So, all in all, I’m a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.  No problems there.  (My favorite story is The Sign of Four.  Side note: I also liked the Young Sherlock Holmes movie that came out in the ’80s as much as the stories of Holmes as an adult!)

Late in 2016, Mom was still encouraging me to join the KAL for their third afghan in the series when she took ill.  What began as a frustrating problem with her left arm/hand and an inability to knit that evolved into dropping her ipad and other things we discovered in actuality was cancer.  She told me and my brothers not to panic, that they were going to fight it both by removing the (brain) tumor and using chemotherapy.  And for a time, that’s all I really knew about it — other than the tumor was pressing on the nerves that controlled the function of her left arm/hand and to some degree her mouth, and it frustrated the everliving nuts out of her!  (It wasn’t until the spring of 2017, my last visit with her in March, that I found out it was in fact Primary CNS Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma – the tumor wasn’t from some other type of cancer that had matastacized, but in fact originated in her brain.)

I flew back to visit for Thanksgiving (2016) and one of the first things she told me when I saw her in the hospital was, “I want you to have the bag of MadelineTosh worsted weight yarn in my stash.  You can do whatever you want with it — make whatever you want.”  (My financial situation hasn’t ever been one where I could blow gobs of money on the ‘expensive’ yarns, which is why a lot of what I make is done with what I can find at Walmart, Meijer or JoAnn’s.  Mom knew this, and she would sometimes buy me the really nice yarns or give me a gift certificate to buy some from WEBS or Knit Picks)

I remember being floored by this.  Dad was sitting with her at the time, and though he couldn’t tell one type of yarn from another, he understood the importance of what Mom was saying.  I could see that in his eyes.  Which told me they had talked about it … and I probably should have picked up on it then but didn’t (because like an idiot, I believed her when she said not to worry), her situation was more serious than she was letting on.  Anyway, after flustering around for a bit, I finally promised to take it if it would make her happy (it did) and use it for something. She also suggested (again) in a not so subtle/sneaky way that I might want to try the SGAA III.  (That was a little easier to see coming! LOL)  With little else to do at the hospital but sit with her, I grabbed needles and one of the skeins of yarn (thank goodnes she had a swift and winder at her house!) and the next day I took it and a copy of the pattern we printed from her Ravelry account with me.  She wasn’t able to knit at the time, but I think it eased her mind to see me doing so, and joining the Sherlock group for it.  I also think it eased her mind that I would be able to contact a few of her friends there to let them know her status.  Anyway, by the time I left for home a few days later, I was almost halfway through the first square of that KAL.

Now, I will admit, although I’ve yet to complete that afghan (we lost Mom around Easter, 2017 and I got too far behind and, rightly so, lost the heart to complete it then), I did enjoy it.  The people in that group, all who knew Mom, were very kind, supportive and encouraging after she passed.  That fall, when they started up the next afghan (IV), I went ahead and signed up for it.  I figured, maybe if I started at the beginning of one, I would finish it!  I had yarn, inherited from Mom (I got ALL of her yarn, needles, etc.  I just wish I’d gotten the bedroom where she’d stored it to help for space! LOL) that I knew she wanted to use for one of the Sherlock afghans, so I used that, and I managed to knit my way through the entire thing … until the very last square.  I made a mistake early on I didn’t notice — nothing too major and one I’ll leave in it — but other things left me too frustrated with it to finish.  That and it was right as my Christmas knitting was kicking into high gear, and that time of year I need ALL the time to get those projects completed for December!

But all is not lost!  I’m hoping to get back to it in the next week or two and finish it up before we begin SGAA V – the very last one! – in mid-March!  Which, as I said when I started this post, is what was went up on Ravelry yesterday.  This last afghan will be bittersweet, in a way, because it means that my direct connection to Mom through shared knitting will be complete.  At current, I don’t plan to do #1 or #2 because Mom made them and that is the ‘blanket’ I will inherit.  (My brothers and I will each inherit one of her big projects from over the years.  Sherlock 1/2 for me, the Millennium quilt she made for the next brother, and the Emily Dickinson quilt she made for the youngest brother)  There will be the possibility for some additional Sherlock thingies (potential sweaters, pillows, etc.) using the existing squares, but that requires further thought and planning, so chances of it happening anytime in the near future are low.

I went home from work last night and pulled out the yarn I’d purchased in December for SGAA V (the first one I’m choosing a yarn of MY liking for it) after getting my bonus check from work.  I couldn’t remember the exact color I’d chosen (I thought it was a dark teal, but turns out they call it ‘deep sea blue’).

 

Needles are always on hand, and I know I have the right size because I got some new favs for Christmas for myself, so I’m raring to go when the pattern releases next month!

However, while I was chatting with the group this morning, the question of ‘What will we do next?’ came up.  Each afghan takes a year to make (if you make all the squares when they come out).  The discussion eventually evolved around to other possibilities for future projects:  Agatha Christie (Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot) was one I saw that I fancy, but someone else mentioned the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy Sayers, and that struck a chord with me.

You see, back in 2016, before Mom took ill, she’d started planning out and making a Dorothy Sayers afghan.  Mom loved the Sayers books, and the Lord Peter Wimsey stories were her favorite.  I also remember her mentioning Gaudy Night over the years but other than recognizing it as a title of a book, I just never ‘got it.’  (The books just weren’t my cup of tea for time period and mystery alike)  Anyway, Mom became known in the Sherlock group for embroidering her squares, and she intended to do the same with the Dorothy Sayers afghan.  Only, she never got finished with it.  She left it with 1.5 squares yet to make.  When I asked her about it while visiting her that November, she said there were parts with which she wasn’t satisfied and she was considering redoing it.  She also hadn’t started the embroidery.

 

In our discussion this morning, I mentioned to the group about her afghan and that I was the one who now had it.  All along, I’ve wanted to finish it for her, in her memory if nothing else, and maybe do a KAL for it as well so she could have some ‘lasting legacy.’  What I’m thinking now, and several of the members of the Sherlock group are highly supportive of this, is to finish the blanket (she left designs for the last 1.5 squares and the yarn to complete it), create a KAL for it, and whatever money I raise by selling the patterns, donate to cancer research in her name.  I think she would like that, as well as the knowledge that some of her favorite stories can be shared with others.  It will also be another way I can keep that connected feeling with her, nearly two years after her passing.  I’ve no doubt she would approve of the idea (at least, the fundraising aspect of it), I just hope she doesn’t mind me sharing her interpretations of the stories she loved so much!

Tonight when I get home, I’m going to drag out the assorted squares she completed, the one partially knit, and all the patterns and yarn.  I’m going to try to sort through it all and see where we sit.  The more I think about this, the more I like the idea.  And who knows, maybe she’ll get me reading the Lord Peter Wimsey books after all! LOL

Posted in Crafting

Desert Lady Takes Flight

As 2019 approached and I finished my Christmas knitting for 2018, I started looking for patterns and projects that interested and intrigued me for 2019.  In 2018 I made a concerted effort to knit more for myself, because I mostly knitted things and gave them away to others, not that this is a bad thing necessarily other than I don’t usually have anything left at the end for myself to think back on the delight I took in making the project.

I found a couple of KALs that started up in January, 2019 in my search that looked to be both interesting and challenging.  The first is the Wild Swan MKAL, a gorgeous shawl that offered lace knitting challenges as well as beading challenges.  The other is the Shetland Peerie Mittens KAL which offered challenges in colorwork knitting.  I started both on time, alternating which one I worked on from time to time.  Both were constant partners with me at work (where I have quite a bit of downtime that the boss doesn’t mind letting me knit through).

I will admit up front, colorwork is not really my thing.  I’m finding what patience I used to have for it has diminished over time.  Sadly, that only increased with this KAL as my stitches on four separate occasions slid off my needles, leaving me at a point where I became so frustrated with it that I bowed out of the KAL with the others and turned my focus on the Wild Swan.

mitt progress
This is about as far as I got before most stitches fell off the needles and I set it aside.

The Wild Swan turned out to be a very delightful and fun knit, despite the beading I put into it.  We were given several beading pattern options/suggestions and I opted to put a lot in.  I didn’t realize at the time how much it might slow me down! lol  Still, it was a lovely knit, the beads add a whole other dimension to the shawl, as does the gradient yarn, and I am delighted with the outcome.  The only real downside I ran into was that I ran out of yarn very near the end.  However, I had a blue in my stash that works really well with it and I fell back to use that.  I even have a lovely little headcanon to go with my shawl.  I decided to use Wollelfe’s Secret Oasis.  As my swan began to show on the knitting, I realized it was a lovely desert swan who moves throughout the desert, landing where she thinks the oases are needed and leaving behind small spots of beauty in her after taking flight.  (silly I know, but I like it.)

And voila!  My wild swan is complete!  I love the pattern so much, I have started a second, though this one will be in a solid color with pearl beads in a slightly different pattern than the last.

So, now that this is complete and I have all the time in the world to work on #2, I will turn my attention back to finishing up the Shetland Peerie Mittens, which in my case will be fingerless mitts because I prefer those.

Posted in Crafting, personal thoughts

How Knitting is like Broccoli …

I work in an office building and like most businesses here we occasionally have vendors come by offering their services.

Today, we had a repeat vendor, a nice guy, and he walked in and though we didn’t need his services, as I was the only one here we started to chat for a little bit when he saw that I was knitting.  He mentioned how it was coming back into style and he’d seen someone else the other day sitting in an office knitting, etc.

wood table white ball
Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

As we wound up our conversation, I pointed out that I’d seen several articles online of late that tolled the benefits of knitting.  It helps lower stress.  It keeps your mind active.  Those sorts of things.  I finished by telling him of a recent incident with my 20-year old college sophomore son.

My son was sitting around over winter break — actually sitting on the couch with me, which is a switch because usually he’s off playing video games online with friends when he has free time.

Son:  I’m bored.

Me:  Oh?  Want to learn how to knit?

Son:  *gets that kind of ‘meh’ look on his face but doesn’t say no immediately*

Me:  It’s fun.  You could  make a scarf, or even a blanket for yourself.  I could even show you how to put Legend of Zelda (his all-time favorite games) stuff on it.

Son:  *still hesitant*

Me:  It’s healthy for you, too —

Son:  *bolts off the sofa and disappears back into his room*  I’ll just go play *whatever game he was playing at the time*.

And there you have it.  Knitting, like broccoli, is healthy, therefore it is a big NOPE on kiddo’s list of things to do.

green broccoli vegetable on brown wooden table
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(To be truthful, my kiddo likes broccoli, for the most part.  I probably should have compared it to brussel sprouts or squash …)

Posted in Crafting, Uncategorized

New Year, New Projects

Since the age of 14, I’ve been a knitter.  For most of that time, I’ve focused on knitting whatever interested me, which usually ended up as a gift for someone else.  Baby blankets were big for a long time, but eventually I ended up knitting Christmas gifts for family.  When I was married, we didn’t have much extra money to spend so I went this route, particularly for the Ex’s family which is huge (and I was expected to make something for everyone).

For the past 5-10 years or so, thankfully, that number has dwindled down to something more manageable, and since our divorce even further.  Still, I end up spending most of the year working on things that inevitably end up as gifts for someone else.

When 2018 dawned, I was determined to focus on knitting for me for a change.  Projects that interested me because I wanted to wear/use them.  I started a number of shawls and finished three.  I worked on a pair of basic fingerless mitts.  You get the idea.  The ultimate goal was to get to a point where I could work on holiday decorations (which are sadly lacking in my house), but that, unfortunately, never happened.  In the end, neither did the shawls, as I gave them away as Christmas gifts (or I’d never have gotten done!).

So, with the dawn of 2019, I am making a determined effort to get back to focusing on ME.  To that end, I’ve joined two KALs (knit alongs) over on Ravelry.  One is a Wild Swan KAL, the other Peerie Mittens (which I will make fingerless mitts because I prefer them).

As of January 8, this is the progress on the Wild Swan shawl:

We just got the third clue last weekend (out of four, I think), but I needed to catch up on the second clue before I worried about that.

Then yesterday, the second KAL, the Peerie Mitten KAL, began.  So, I decided that between clues #2 and #3 for the Wild Swan I would cast on and start working on the first mitt of that.

We were told to select at the very least four colors — which I decided to stick with, for now anyway.  I love this yarn!  It’s Alpaca Cloud Fingering from Knit Picks and it’s sooo soft!  At the moment, I’ve got about a half inch (I’m currently adding the third color).  As I go, I’ll decide if I’m going to adjust the length of the cuff or not.  Anyway, it’s started!

I know I have projects I need to complete for others this year.  I still have two outstanding holiday gifts, plus a project I started for a friend I really need to get back to, and one of my nieces on the Ex’s side will be graduating from high school this spring and I am making her a memory lapghan.  (Eventually, over the next three years I’ll make four – one for her, one for her younger brother, and one each for the youngest siblings who are a set of twins – God help me THAT year! lol)  These few projects, plus the current ones (I’m already planning a second and third Wild Swan knit because I like the pattern so much!) should keep me busy most of the year.

(I do have a head start on ideas for next Christmas, however.  One nephew on my side of the family expressed interest in a Legend of Zelda Link hat.  What I do for one, I usually make for the other.  The girls should be easy, too, as I’ve been making them headbands of different sorts for the past couple of years.  Kiddo, too, is easy to determine.  Maybe I’ll begin holiday knitting in June this year to get it done early?)