Posts by MissBlane

Wife, Mom, Sister, Yarnophile, Knitter, Raveler.

Competition Pushes us Forward

Not just in business and innovation, but also in…you guessed it! KNITTING. Since July 15th, I’ve been participating in a community knit-along competition/fundraiser called Tour-de-Sock. Styled after the Tour de France, this competition sets teams of knitters in a speed sock-knitting race. There are six stages that are nine days each, and for each stage, you and the other racers knit one pair of socks. All entry fees for the race go to Doctors without Borders, and the group has raised $32k since it started a few years ago!

The first pair of socks didn’t go so well for me — I finished in the 366th spot (out of approx. 1700 knitters), and my socks ended up not fitting. This is most likely my fault — I decided to make these for my husband, so they are super long, and I even added extra room for the heel, but I ended up making the leg too tight in an effort to have a smaller number of stitches on the needle (so I could finish faster). So for the second sock, I made the smallest allowable measurements. So I’ve got one long and one short sock. *facepalm*

Anyway…for the next stage, which starts today, I’m hoping that the socks are knit top-down. Then I could throw a lifeline in just before the toe, and I could go back later and make them as long as I want.

I’m still waffling on color choices, but as I’ve learned from quilt making, it really doesn’t matter, since things end up looking pretty good in the end. Hopefully these turn out better than the last pair and I will actually feel confident enough to share a photo. I’m thinking I’ll use the Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Astrid Gray as the main color, and either Esoteric (the dark teal) and Hosta Blue (the light teal) with a splash of Pop Rocks (the pink) or the Astrid Gray with Ink (the dark blue) and Liquid Gold. I’ll go with the first option if it is a more feminine pattern and the second option if it’s a more masculine pattern.

In other news, I am diligently working on Joel’s Forest Moon of Endor socks. I showed him pictures of a bunch of different patterns, but for that pair, I included the name of the pattern. And of course he chose that one for me to make! I’m using Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock (an incredibly soft 80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere blend) in the colorway “Creeper.” (This is a Minecraft reference for those of you who don’t know.) I’ve used this yarn before and have even accidentally run the socks through the washing machine, and it has held up wonderfully and is soooooo soft! I’ve got one sock finished and have finished the leg on the second one. This is a super easy pattern, so it’s perfect for when I’m stuck in traffic and stopped at red lights.

I’m also starting a knit-along with my BFF (for 20+ years so far!), who is making her first pair of socks! We are making Please and Thank You Socks. I love the simple elegance of these socks, and I envision making several pairs of these! The pattern also comes with instructions for making them starting at the cuff AND for starting at the toe. My friend is using Nerd Girl Yarns Bounce & Stomp in the Blue Box Exploding colorway, and I am using Madelinetosh Twist Light in Tern. I am stepping out of my comfort zone with these and trying to knit using 9″ circulars. We’ll see how it goes! So far, so good. I’ll definitely have to get my hands used to working on such small needles.

Also, my daughter is almost walking. She has an elephant toy that she walks behind as she pushes it around the house. Knitting time has definitely decreased now that she is mobile. I can knit about three stitches before she gets to the fireplace and tries to open the glass panels (after she crawls over to it, turns around to look at me, shakes her head “no” with a big grin, then turns back to the fireplace). SHE IS SO FAST. And AMAZING. I marvel every day at how awesome she is. Also, she likes to help me knit. 😀

Where Does the Time Go?

For real. It’s just been zooming by these days! Baby Jaina is now 9 months old, is crawling (super fast!), can pull up on the coffee table, and has three teeth! She is happy, laughs all the time, and sleeps very well at night. We are just delighted with her. 😀 She has also started daycare since my last post, so we have pretty much had a constant cold in the house for the last two months. I think daycare has been harder on mommy than on Baby J, though. She loves playing, and as one of the oldest kids in the room, she has the run of the place to herself. She is very interested in music and anything that makes noise, all types of electronics (phones, printers, modems, xbox, computers, etc), her board books, and empty water bottles.

She loves crawling over and investigating things that mommy wants her to stay away from. Here she is exploring mommy’s computer tower (daddy’s is up off of the floor, so she can’t get to that one).

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Jaina & Daddy exploring Mommy’s computer

I’ve been working on a few knitting projects over the past few months, joined a guild in World of Warcraft (and am now raiding on Heroic level as a tank! go me!), transitioned back to being in the office at work (as opposed to working from home), and have generally been enjoying life.

I’ve fallen a bit behind on my Dreaming in Neon blanket, but I did manage to finish a couple of hexes. One of these days I’ll get caught up, but this is definitely a long haul kind of project. I switched to working the “pointless” charts for the hexes, and I get a lot less of the dome shape in the middle — they now lay almost perfectly flat. I’m thinking that for my next hex, I’ll use the gray main color and use a single color for contrast instead of going through all of the rainbow. For science. Then, if I love that even more, I can make blanket hexes with just two colors!

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Unblocked Pointless Hex

Eat.Sleep.Knit hosted a KAL of my Speckled Space Socks pattern, and now there are 500+ projects! What is life??? How cool is that?! It was a Flash KAL to finish the socks in a week. I got close, but then we had company over, and I fell behind. Anyway, I did manage to finish mine. I went with Madelinetosh Twist Light in Electric Rainbow, with Edison Bulb toes, Robin’s Egg Blue heels, and Hedgehog Fiberarts Sock in Harajuku for the cuffs. I love them so much. My husband chose the colors for these, and they turned out amazingly. I called them my “Speckled Easter Egg Socks.” I used a Fish Lips Kiss heel instead of the pattern’s toe-up gusset & heel flap in order to not interrupt the variegation/change the pooling.

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Speckled Easter Egg Socks — Original Pattern by Me! (Called “Speckled Space Socks”)

I also started four-ish projects, including a skirt, two more pairs of socks, and a hat. Eventually I will finish them. Eventually. The skirt, which is a pattern by Lauren Riker called “She’s Electric,” is coming along quite nicely, and I’m already to the waist decreases after only a week. It is fitting in the Q2 Summer Yarns KAL! I can’t wait to get the skirt finished so I can wear it!

And, of course, there’s no shortage of projects I would like to cast-on. I’m planning to participate in the Tour-de-Sock event later in the summer and the Q3 Rhinebeck Sweater KAL starting in July. I also am daydreaming of knitting “shortie” socks of the Rose City Rollers variety. Baby J needs some new booties and cute outfits too, so I need to get on those as well! You know, in my spare time.

Finally, I had a mini sock blocking/washing party this weekend. I’ve made lots of socks for myself, and I have yet to complete a pair of vanilla socks. My husband’s first pair made an appearance, too.

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Sock Blocking Party!

I don’t know how I did it, but my Senna socks turned out to fit me the best of all of the socks I’ve made so far. (I’m wearing them now!) I think I made them a little smaller than usual, so I’m going to have to count rows so I can make sure my future socks fit too! This weekend was the first time I blocked them since I made them…last year. LOL

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Senna in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Esoteric

How many projects are you working on? Tons? Share them in the comments!

Dreaming in Neon

wp-1485208177913.jpgwp-1485208146587.jpgBright, happy colors have always been my favorites. In particular, I love, love, love neon colors. They seemed to make a comeback in Fall 2012. I remember the day because I went to visit my friend to help her choose bridesmaid dresses, and when we were at the mall, I found this delightfully bright neon yellow sweatshirt and a neon pink purse to go with my neon blue and yellow shoes. I made such good use of them too. Eventually the yellow sweatshirt lost its color and my neon pink purse was retired in favor of a more sensible black purse. Still, I loved them so much.

wp-1485208273398.jpgThe next Spring (2013), madelinetosh, my favorite yarn dyer, introduced their line of neon yarns. Fluoro Rose, Push Pop, Edison Bulb, Neon Lime, and Ultraviolet. Also a variegated one called Neon Crush. I loved them. I bought them all on a base called Feather, which is a single-ply merino wool, alpaca, and nylon blend. My plan was to make hundreds of little “hexipuffs” (hexagon-shaped and stuffed) and sew them together to make a Beekeeper’s Quilt. So far, I’ve made around 35 puffs. I need to get to work on them…eventually. They have since added more neon-like colors, and I am just in love with all of them and have quite a few stashed away.

One way to keep on top of a project is to join a knit-along (KAL), where several other knitters work on the same project. This year, Eat.Sleep.Knit is hosting a KAL for an afghan called Persian Dreams. The afghan is made up of hexagon-shaped tiles, which each have a colorwork design. I’ve done very little color work (the hat I mentioned in my last post and a pair of socks that I never finished) in my knitting life, but I could just *see* the afghan in neon colors.

I had a few skeins of different neon colors on madelinetosh Twist Light (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon fingering weight yarn), so I just needed a couple of complementary colors and a background color. After some input from the lovely Eat.Sleep.Knitters, I decided on a dark gray for the background.

The idea for the KAL is to knit two hexagons each month, then by the end of the year we will have a completed blanket. I got a bit of a late start this month since I was finishing up my husband’s socks, but I did manage to get the first one done, and I’ve already started the second! Each round is new and interesting, and I just want to knit the next one to see how it goes or get to the next color! It’s so nice to have the encouragement and answers to questions from the group of knitters participating in the KAL.wp-1485208360420.jpg

It’s definitely going to take the whole year, so check back to see my progress on this afghan! I am lovingly calling it Dreaming in Neon!

Knitting and Fishing

wowscrnshot_011317_220237The two go together pretty well, I think. Both require a lot of time and patience, and for fishing, at least the kind that I prefer, you don’t need to pay much attention.

For those of you who know me, you might be thinking, what in the world is she talking about? I am not exactly known for my love of the outdoors. I prefer climate-controlled, bug-free locations. And, as my husband reminds me, I once mused, “I like the outdoors in theory.” Beautiful landscapes, grass, trees, the oceans, all that jazz.

But there is one place that allows me to fish and knit and be comfortable. And that is in the World of Warcraft. Joel introduced me to WoW in 2013, not long after we started dating. I already had a penchant for video games: I grew up enjoying and playing a Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and later a Wii, and I was quite adept at some mobile games. Shortly thereafter, he gifted me with my very first gaming PC, complete with a Haswell i5 processor, a GTX-660 Ti videocard, Razer Naga and, very importantly, a pink case and green LED fans. It was beautiful. Maybe a little tacky. It was the only pink case we could find, and I loved it.wp-1484797565458.jpg

Fast-forward to 2017, and I’m still an avid WoW player, but with a more powerful computer with a sleek black and green case and color-changing accessories (of course). We raced the clock with the birth of my daughter, who was due just 5 days after the launch of WoW’s most recent expansion, Legion. She was born three days late, giving us about a week to experience the new content. We took a short hiatus, and recently our precious girl has blessed us with an earlier bedtime, allowing us to resubscribe to the game.

There’s a game mechanic that allows you to fish, and you can listen for your bobber to splash in the water. It’s quite relaxing and entertaining for me. And best of all, I can knit and fish at the same time.

I’ve just completed a pair of WoW-themed socks for my husband, at his request. I used madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Ink and Liquid Gold to represent Alliance colors. Early last year, I made him a WoW-themed hat with the Alliance crest on it, so now he has the set!

 

My next project is an afghan using fingering weight (sock) yarn (i.e. it’s going to take the whole year), and there’s an achievement for catching all the rare fish in WoW, so I will be doing a lot of fish/knitting in the next few months!

Staying Up Til Midnight

In college, I could stay up late with the best of them. Two a.m., the Acorn Cafe, and I were very good friends. On occasion, I even hung out with Great Oaks Hall and the elusive all-nighter.

Not so anymore. These days, my eyes are drooping by 10:00 p.m. Baby J is a good sleeper and will usually sleep all night, but in the last two weeks or so, her sleep time shifted from 10:00 to 11:00 to 11:30. After a discussion with our pediatrician, we are moving her bedtime up to 8:00, and so far this seems to be working.

I don’t need to go to bed as soon as Baby J is asleep! This has been great — I can stay up and knit, play a game, or watch a show with my husband. It’s a double-edged sword, though, as I get addicted to the time, and I end up staying up later than I should.

Last night is the perfect example. Baby J was asleep and in her crib at 8:00 p.m., my husband was playing Battlefield 1 with friends, and I had a date with a sock.

I am not typically a monogamous knitter. I love to cast on whatever project grabs my eye. Yes, sometimes this means that projects don’t get finished for a year or that they eventually get frogged (ripped out so the yarn can be reused). But for me, the joy of knitting comes from the process: finding a pattern, discovering a beautifully dyed skein of yarn, casting on, and knitting (not always in that order).

These socks, though, are for my husband, and he is patiently waiting for them to be ready. Because he is paying attention to what I’m knitting, he would notice if I switched projects. So I need to finish them. Because I want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS.

Thus midnight and met once again. One sock is completed, and yesterday at Knit Night, I made great progress on the cuff and had even started the heel increases. So after Baby J was asleep, I went to town on these socks. By the time 11:00 p.m. rolled around, I was so close to being ready to turn the heel that I had to keep going.

I should have stopped. The later I stayed up, the more mistakes I made. This row was off by one stitch. That pattern didn’t quite line up. You get the idea. I felt like Tina from Bob’s Burgers, but with the enthusiasm of her sister Louise.

Fortunately, I made it through without needing to frog any of the work and was able to drop down one or two stitches to fix my mistakes, but it takes longer to fix the mistakes than it does just to knit! I made it to about four rows before the heel turn, and in the process, I qualified for the Night Owl Knits badge for the Eat.Sleep.Knit Yarnathon Booster Club!

This morning during Baby J’s first nap, I was able to finish the heel turn! Now for the foot of the sock. I WILL finish these this weekend so I can knit all the other things!

Unyielding Circular Needles

A friend taught me to knit during my junior year of college. A couple of months later, I had the awesome opportunity to take a college class on knitting. It was taught by two of my college professors (an Historian and a Psychologist) as part of my Liberal Arts college’s January Interim term.

For four hours, five days a week, and for a whole month, we went to class and learned all about the history of knitting, how to cast on, knit, purl (which I learned I had been doing incorrectly prior to this), cable, felt, you name it. We tried out different types of needles, including bamboo, acrylic, circular, straight, and double-pointed needles (DPNs).

One of our homework assignments was to straighten out our circular needles to get the kinks out of the plastic cable that connects the two needle tips.

Living on a college campus, I didn’t have access to a stove, so I tried being creative. First I tried to boil water in a crockpot, which didn’t work. I then tried to microwave my needles. This also didn’t work, and it had the added benefit of melting the glue that held the cable to the bamboo tip, so when I tried to pull the cable straight, it came clean out of the needle tip. I tried to put it back, but the glue cooled too fast. Logically, I put them back into the microwave to melt the glue again.

Eventually I managed to convince one of the Residence Directors to let me boil water in his apartment while he played Guitar Hero.

Last weekend, I found myself growing annoyed with my circular knitting needle cables going in all the wrong directions as I tried to knit a pair of socks using the magic loop method. Back to the stove I went!

If you need to straighten some of the curves out of your circular knitting needles, try this:

  1. Boil a pot of water deep enough for your needles to not be too curled when you dip them in. I used a medium-sized sauce pan.
  2. Have a hand towel ready.
  3. Hold the needles by the tips, and dip the plastic cable into the boiling water until about an inch of cable is left out of the water. You don’t want to melt any adhesive! (Also, wear a pot holder so you don’t burn your hands on the steam. Tip from a chemist: the water can only reach 212 °F, but the steam can get hotter!)
  4. Keep the cable in the water for 30-60 seconds.
  5. Pull the cable out of the water, then, holding one needle in one hand, use the other hand to wrap the cable with the hand towel near the top needle, and slide the towel down the cable to the end. This straightens the cable out.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 as necessary.

I was able to remove most of the curls from my cables. Because I’ve left these in projects for long periods of time, I’ve got a couple of actual kinks in the cables that I wasn’t able to remove, but they will be untangled enough to lessen my frustration for a while!

Eat.Sleep.Knit: My Local Yarn Shop

wp-1483638763885.jpgAs my husband and I searched for homes in the Atlanta area last year, we checked Google Maps for the commute time to and from work. Pretty normal, right? Well, I took it one step further with an additional consideration: how far was the home from my favorite yarn shop? As it turned out, the answer was “not far” for our new home.

Of course, Eat.Sleep.Knit has an awesome website with amazingly color-accurate photos of the yarn (great work, Jess!), and I have been an ESK customer since well before I moved to Atlanta, so I’m sure I would have been OK shopping online. There’s just no feeling like being able to hold the yarn in my hands, choose just the right skeins, and hang out and chat with all of the ESK kitties and my fellow knit-nighters. I’m glad everything worked out so well!

On New Year’s Eve, as my husband and I waited to watch the crystal ball fall in New York City, I was wondering what the new year would bring for the Eat.Sleep.Knit Yarnathon. As has become custom, I was not disappointed when the 2017 Yarnathon was unveiled!

I’m a new member of the Taffy Giraffes, and I couldn’t be more excited! ESK has an incredible marketing team, and of course I want to buy more yarn, but the Yarnathon is so much more than that! I get to participate in knit-alongs, earn badges, reach new milestones, test my knitting skills, and share my love of yarn and knitting with a wonderful community of people.

I’ve also learned that my favorite yarn dyer, madelinetosh, is dying exclusive colorways for ESK this year! You’d better believe I will be hitting ctrl+R until I can order mine! *squee*

If you are living or shopping in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend stopping by Eat.Sleep.Knit’s storefront, and if you aren’t, be sure to check out their awesome selection of indie and hand-dyed yarns!