Tag Archives: yarn

I’m still alive

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Hampton Twists Peaches & Creme

Hampton Twists Peaches & Creme

 

I’ve been sick for an insanely long time.  And now it is March, the time when the sun starts to come out and blind everyone that isn’t used to it – Migraine Season.  I have always loved this time of year because of the sunshine but the last several years I’ve been getting a lot of migraines during March.  It took a long time before one of my doctors figured out that it was the sun (bright light) triggering it.  I have my movie star sunglasses with polarized lenses that I always wear when I go out but somehow I still get migraines.  So, while the weather is warming up and it is a beautiful sun-shiny day, I am sitting inside with the drapes all drawn like a vampire.  I vant to suck yer blood ah ah ah ah!  Okay, not really.  I like things more well done than rare.

Anyway, I think I’ve been sick for a good two whole months at least.  That really sucks but the one thing that keeps me going is crafts.  I always knit or crochet something though I usually drop the more complicated projects and start something more simple.  For some reason I like something that requires me to count stitches when I don’t feel well or when I have a migraine.  If not I end up counting anyway.  It must be a distraction tactic.

Right now I’m making a reusable grocery bag I found FREE on this blog and on Ravelry.  I’m using the new “Twists” yarn by Peaches & Creme.  The color is called Hampton Twists and has burgundy, white, and neutral strands twisted together.   The effect is very cool but a bit difficult on the eyes when working on it.  I’m working the bottom of this bag which is done in a spiral of single crochet and my eyes just can’t seem to keep track of the stitches with all the stripes.  I think it will be cool though.

The pattern says to use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round but because of this crazy stripped yarn I’m using 4 stitch markers.  This would also be a great way for beginners to do this pattern.  The bottom is an oval spiral – so basically a rectangle with a half circle at each end.  The rectangle is 39 single crochets long and after rounding the corner you go back down and work 39 single crochet in the back side of the chain stitches.  So I marked the first and last stitch of the 39 stitches on both sides.  3 of my stitch markers are one color and the one that also marks the beginning of the next round is a different color.  This makes it easier to know when you get to those stitches that require increases.  You know exactly where they are because they are between the two markers on the short sides.  If you don’t mark them it can be difficult to know where those stitches actually begin and end.  The first time around I noticed my piece wasn’t looking quite right and I knew I had gotten mixed up somewhere.  So this is my 2nd attempt.

I found a sneaky little trick to crochet in my stitch markers since I find it a little fiddly getting mine to slip into these tight single crochet stitches.  They just aren’t stiff enough and they are rubbery so they want to stick to the cotton and refuse to go through.  They are the Boye ones that come in the cute little box.  I normally love them so it must be the cotton.  Anyway, when you get to the spot where you want to add the marker – just before that stitch – close the marker and then slide it on the back end of the crochet hook.  Then push it down and over the loop of yarn and then off the hook end (keeping the yarn on the hook).  That puts the marker around the part of the stitch that will end up being the top.  Then you just work the stitch like normal and it will already be in place.

I’m still working on the bottom but you can see my progress by clicking here.  I’ll take a picture once I get the bottom finished.

Apply Yourself!

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WordPress Daily Blog Prompt: Apply Yourself

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

I am actually doing this right now.  I enjoy knitting but I tend to do what is easy.  This year I have been trying to improve on my knitting skills.  I actually started in December when I made a lacy dishcloth pattern I saw on ravelry.  That was challenging for me and I ripped it out and started over several times.  I even researched and learned how to do a new cast on and how to kitchener (weave) the ends together so there was no obvious seam.  After I was finished with that I was so pleased with myself and hungry to learn more.

It helps to be part of a group that is doing the same thing.  They might not all be knitting something challenging but there are always people more seasoned than you are that can offer a learning challenge.  My group is a dishcloth group on ravelry called Dishcloth Weekly Knitalong.  They are not just a knitting group though.  They also have crochet patterns and there are several crocheters that participate.  Each week they post a crochet pattern and a knit pattern and each person can choose which to work on.  Many people do both patterns.  

Now a dishcloth group may not seem like the ideal group to learn new things and it wasn’t the obvious choice for me but after joining I learned the advantages of learning on a small scale.  I am learning more challenging techniques but I don’t get so overwhelmed because the project is so small.  If I had started out trying to make a lacy shawl instead of the lacy dishcloth above I might not have stuck with it long enough to finish.

I am currently learning Intarsia knitting.  This is a technique where you are adding blocks of color within larger areas of color without carrying yarn across the back.  The pattern is a simple pattern with staggered blocks of one color on a different colored background.  I have 10 bobbins of colored yarn dangling from my washcloth so the difficulty is not in the knitting but in keeping yourself from getting all tangled up.  I am SO VERY GLAD I do not have a cat!  Oh and I am using these bobbins that I printed free online from Wild Olive.  I just adhered them to the side of a cereal box with Elmer’s spray adhesive and cut them out.  I like the spray adhesive because I don’t have to worry about the layers of paper separating as I use them.  They work great and they are really cute!  She also has smaller bobbins for thread on her website.

I printed mine on pink cardstock and made some others on blue cardstock so I have boys and girls.

I printed mine on pink cardstock and made some others on blue cardstock so I have boys and girls.

Learning Intarsia knitting
I started out with my bobbins lined up all neatly in a row but that didn’t last long.  At first I fought with them constantly tying to keep them all untangled.  I finally just gave up and concentrated on knitting until I finished that section and then snipped them off leaving the ends to weave in later.  It is so much easier if you just try to forget about the tangled mess and just knit but I’m a little OCD so it makes my blood pressure go up.

I’m getting there though and it is not as stressful now as it was when I started.  I am now about half way finished!

This is the first pattern I’ve ever worked that involved a chart.  So that is something new I’ve added to my repertoire already.  I now know how to read a charted knitting pattern, at least a simple one.

It really isn’t as hard as it seems.  It is just more awkward.  When you add in new threads it is very loose so you have to be careful of the tension.  As you end one color you just pull the next color yarn under the old one being dropped so they get twisted.  That prevents holes from forming in the knitted fabric.  Even though some of the stitches are lose in the beginning you can just tug the lose ends in the back to snug them up and the front will all look like one smooth fabric.  I love how it looks and even though this is a very simple pattern I can just imagine what could be possible!

I have already found another pattern for a potholder using intarsia knitting and it has cute little chickens and eggs.  I knew my sister would love it because she is crazy for chickens.  I don’t get it really but that’s her thing and I’d love to make something I know my sister would love!  I’m going to change the colors to match her kitchen.

That pattern is free by Drops and is called 0-626 Easter pot holder with pattern in ”Paris”

Here is my project at the halfway point.  Lookin’ good!

Learning Intarsia Knitting (half way now)

Learning Intarsia Knitting (half way now)

Here is a video I used to help me get started. It explains how to get started where most videos show you how to do it after it is about half way completed. When she first starts talking in the beginning it sounds really overly complicated. Don’t listen, just watch her do it and then go back and listen. It makes more sense after you’ve seen it being done.

Headliner News: The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

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Here in Fairbanks Alaska it is warm, which is very strange.  Even though it is January and usually very cold, it is above freezing.  My youngest son was born in January in 1997 and it was 40 below zero.  His 16th birthday is this Saturday and it is so warm it is raining!!!!!!  I went to Walmart yesterday and the entry way is a wet mess with water raining down from the roof onto the sidewalks.  The tons of snow on the roof is melting.  When I was stopped at a red light I had to keep my wind-shield wipers going because the snow on the light signals was melting and raining on my car.  As the water falls and hits the cold roads it turns to ice and makes driving oh so fun.  Later in the day yesterday it started to rain (mixed with snow) and then it started to poor.  It rained like it was fair time or something.  They canceled school since the roads are such a mess.  People could ice skate to work!  They should make it official – “Ice skate to work day.”

Fairbanks schools to be closed Tuesday

Well while the snow outside was melting yesterday I crocheted some for inside.  I made this snowflake washcloth for my bathroom and it is so pretty!  I found the pattern on Ravelry.com and it is free.  The yarn I used is Lily Sugar’n Cream Tie dye Stripes.  I added an extra round to mine and changed the edging a bit.  I think it turned out really pretty!   At least I know my snowflake wont melt.

Made by DJCstitches

WordPress Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines!  Click this link to read other blogger’s take on this prompt or to add your own!  

Learning Something New

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It is always fun to learn something new so I can add some more “tools” to my creative toolbox.  I recently joined a group on ravelry that makes dishcloths every month.  It’s called “Dishcloth Weekly Knitalong” but they do some crochetalonging too.  I really enjoy being a part of this group and even though they just make dish/wash cloths I’m always learning something new!  I especially love that they offer a cloth pattern to crochet and one to knit so I can choose what I want to do.  There are plenty of people to offer help when I get stuck also.

In December I made this really pretty “double diamond dishcloth” for a friend as a Christmas gift.  That was very challenging for me but I learned some new things and it turned out great!  Now they are working on Intarsia knitting or crochet.  They even posted videos to help us get the idea.  I’ve decided to do the knit cloth and then I already have a more difficult project to make next.   The knit cloth isn’t anything exciting but if I can learn to make it than my world of patterns will become so much larger!

This video is one that they posted to help us see how intarsia is done.

She uses bobbins to keep things neat and I don’t have any for yarn.  I decided to look online to see if I could find something as a free printable.  I found these really cute bobbins and printed them on card stock.  I decided to print mine on pale pink card stock and they look so cute.  I wanted them to be stronger though so I used some Elmer’s spray adhesive and stuck them to the side of a cereal box.  I think they will last quite a long time now!

Ringing in the New Year: 2013

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This is kinda written in response to the wordpress writing challenge although most of it was already pondered upon and pressed….

Writing Challenge: New Year’s Resolutions (Doompocalypse Redux)

Feel free to join us. click the link above to read about the challenge.
(Imagine there is a space here)

I don’t really do the resolution thing… at least not the way most people do.  I do a couple of different things.  First I have my list of goals to work on throughout the year.  Not a lot of things – just 2 or 3 tops.  I write them in the front of my journal so that I see them every time I open it – which is usually every day or more often.  I keep track of some items in my journal and journal about my progress.  I don’t like to make “resolutions” that are fast forgotten.

I also make a “to do” list for the year.  This list is pretty extensive and more of a wish list sometimes.  Sometimes I just can’t afford to do some of the things on the list or I need help – like with painting a room in the house.  It is okay though.  This is the time of year when I look at what I accomplished,  cross off what I can and add a few more things.  What didn’t get done just stays on the list for the next year.  The idea in this is that when I get to the end of the year I don’t feel like it was all wasted.  When I flip through my journal or look back at my blog I know my time was well spent.  It wasn’t always that way.  Sometimes I would get into this rut of just waking up and going to work, coming home tired and going to bed.  That was because of my health.  I was working so hard I didn’t have any energy to spend time with my family.  Now I enjoy listening to my kids talk about their days or music or whatever.  I can sit at the table and have dinner with them.  Time is precious and needs to be used wisely.

Anyway, my basic goals are always to lose weight and to get organized.  Surprise, surprise huh?  With my health problems I have a hard time exercising.  When I’m in pain I don’t want to move so I gain weight.  My doctor says says that it is important to exercise as much as possible and that it will actually help with pain.  She’s the doctor so I’m doing my best to follow orders.   I cut some things out of my diet and managed to get some health issues under control that way (which is pretty cool I think).  I managed to stop gaining weight but didn’t really sustain any real weight loss.  I’m just grateful that I’m not still gaining.  This year that is my biggest focus because it isn’t just a matter of how I feel about myself anymore.  Being overweight sets me up for all kinds of other health risks, including diabetes which runs in my family.  My mom died of a heart attack and I’m going to do everything I can to avoid that happening to me.  I’m using a website called MyFitnessPal.com  to track what I eat and it really helps a lot.  I’ve made some friends on there that are in the same boat I am.  They are also trying to lose weight while dealing with chronic pain.  It is amazing to have such an amazing support group that will cheer me on but also understands when I’m not feeling well.

I’m about to set a fresh new goal for this year and take new measurements.  I think I’m going to break my “wish”  for my overall weight-loss into smaller attainable goals.  I think if I lost 10 lbs I would feel pretty darn good and that would give me some “FIRE” to keep going.  So I’m going to do that and just keep working on smaller goals.  Of course exercising every day, even a little, is a task on my list.  Sometimes it just isn’t possible but I’ll do what I can.  I got some advice from a friend of mine that I am working on trying too.  He said to eat what I want but only half.  That is a new concept for me since I grew up being told to clean my plate.  I hate to see anything go to waste so I eat it all.  So I’m going to work on that and put half away for another meal.

Last year, one of the things I added to my list was so stop using the “f word” meaning fibromyalgia.  I thought that I should not talk about it and only focus on positive things.  It didn’t take me long to realize that was not the right thing to do.  Sure, I need to focus on positive things but this is part of me and acting like everything is normal is not the answer.  I realized that there are a lot of people out there that don’t understand what fibromyalgia really is.  Many people and sadly even some doctors don’t believe it is a real thing.  Well, what I feel is real and if there was a solution I’d be first in line.  I really think it is more likely that it is a symptom of something they haven’t yet figured out.  They need to do more research to find out and that means more people need to know about it.  That is when I decided to add that blurb about fibromyalgia to the top of my blog.  I also thought maybe if other people with fibromyalgia could see what I accomplish with this than others will be encouraged.

This past year, in working on my to-do list, I was able to get a lot of de-cluttering done.  Now I am going to keep going on that.  I found this website that has a calendar for each month.  Each day there is a task to work on for 15 minutes.  I think I’ll give that a try and see how it fits in with the areas I want to clean.  Mainly I just need to use some of the things I’ve bought for crafts and let some things go. I have a LOT of yarn.  I’m decided to use that yarn to make blankets for Project Linus.  I’m the coordinator for my area and I’ve had a hard time keeping it going.  I have decided to make working on Project Linus my 3rd goal this year.  I’m going to work on getting people to help out and make lots of blankets.

Last year one of my goals was to finish what I started.  I tracked down some unfinished projects and finished them!  That felt really good!  I also concentrated on finishing one thing before starting the next.  Some people call it multitasking but usually I just end up with a bunch of unfinished stuff.  I did get a lot more done this year and knit, crocheted, and tatted several things.  I also read a bunch of books!  And the books I read have been passed on to others or donated.  I’m also not buying new books but getting ebooks instead.  These little things all make a difference.

So I have my new journal – two actually.  One is a journal to write in daily and one is a smash journal.  I like to use smash journals for projects and pictures.  My main goals are already written in the front and I’m ready to get started.

Of course I have my new list of Twenty Wishes that I want to work on too.  It is interesting to me how this list seems to incorporate many of the things on my yearly list but it is much shorter.  I got the idea for that list from a book.

Now to start working on my lists instead of making them!  Here’s to a good 2013!

Nay to doomsayers!