Valentine’s Knitting

Valentine’s Knitting

There are several projects I should be knitting, but the cheerfulness of Deep Sea Jelly Fish is hard to ignore. Plus, it will be the perfect Valentine’s Day Cowl – so I have been ignoring things to get this done. I will bind off momentarily, and then it is back to those projects.

Clue #2 came out yesterday for the TTL MKAL – I have not started yet, but I have printed out the clue out…

I am almost done with I am the Messenger and I am still enjoying this book tremendously.

I was excited to get email overnight from the library for In the Woods by Tana French. I have added it to my Kindle and will hopefully start this later today. This will be the first book I have ready by Tana and I am excited to get into it.

What are you reading and knitting?

As always linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along! Happy Wednesday everyone!

MKAL’s, Good Listens, and February Stitches

MKAL’s, Good Listens, and February Stitches

Clue one just arrived and I have my yarn and needles ready! Cast on will be happening shortly!

In my ears is a book I have quickly become engrossed in – I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Excellent narration and a fascinating story. I have read one other book by Zusak, The Book Thief, which I loved. I am the Messenger is nothing like The Book Thief, but I am enjoying it tremendously!

Finally, today begins a new month in my stitch journal – and February brings wool, flannel, and a fresh set of stitches. I am excited to see how this unfolds.

Linking up with Ginny and her Yarn Along and wishing you a very happy February First!


Escapism Knitting and Reading

Escapism Knitting and Reading

“Escapism is survival to me. – Johnny Depp

Yes. Yes, it is. And, in these trying days – it is one thing that is helping keep my sanity (even if it is just hanging on by a thread)

Knitting on Rock the Lobster has resumed – I am into sleeve two decreases and it is moving along nicely. Escapism knitting FTW!

In the mindless – meditative knitting category – Deep Sea Jelly Fish Cowl is moving slightly less quickly. Meditation these days is a challenge – it is strangely easier to forget if I am focused on the pattern and counting. But those colors…

Reading is the best form of escapism that I know and I am about half way through The Secret History and while I am not certain this is the best escape – it is so well written and I really am loving this book. I have a list of things on hold at the library and I am in the ‘what if they all are available at the same time’ phase. Yeah, I hate when that happens!

That is all I have today – I am off to my little escapist world. Have a good Wednesday everyone!

Joining Ginny with her Yarn Along this week!

Filling the Creative Well

Filling the Creative Well

“You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Last year I had high hopes of creating these incredible stitching projects – yet when it came right down to it, I was my own worst enemy. I did not like what I was creating. I had high expectations and, sadly, my own critique was just as high. I spent more time removing the previous days stitching and my internal criticism soon shut down any creativity and the stitching went in its box and was not opened again.

Enter 2017.

This year I decided on a new approach – I am giving myself permission to fail. Seems simple, but trust me it has not been. There have been many days that my stitching did not seem right. But, I ignored that voice and left the stitching in the piece. Sometimes the next day, the previous day’s stitches seemed a bit better to me, and sometimes they did not – but over the course of days and after adding more stitches something incredible began to happen. This awkward stitches now seem to fit. Or maybe that small quiet voice of creativity is gaining confidence and my “creative eye” is figuring out how to – well, be creative!

I have gotten many questions on Instagram about how I am doing this and what am I using. It is a challenge to give all the information there, so I thought it would be nice to share it here. I am not accomplished in stitchery – I have done some counted cross-stitch, and some quilting – neither of which were ever “free form.”

My inspiration came from Bonnie Sennott – who stitched last year and shared via Instagram. She is stitching again this year, but now is only sharing via a Patreon account if you want access to see her work. I was also greatly inspired by the Slow Stitch book by Claire Wellesley-Smith – and really, reading this book was the GREATEST inspiration. It has been out a while now – and I would check with your local library, but I recommend this book as an excellent addition to your library!

So, what am I using to my stitch work – really, the simplest of things. I got my fabric from Joann’s – it is linen (I got a remnant which I washed in the washing machine and then air dried) I divided this remnant into three sections – I will get more linen when I need it.

I have several embroidery hoops, but the one I like best for my daily stitching is a small 5″ hoop. The goal is to not stitch all day, but rather spend a few minutes each day and this small hoop keeps me mindful of that.

Now, let’s talk about thread – could you use embroidery floss? Yes, you absolutely can – you can use whatever you’d like! I am using DMC Perle Cotton size 12 – which I also got at Joann’s. The color choices are extremely limited in stores, but they have good basic colors – white, ecru, black, red, darker red, and navy. I had in my “stash” some Valdani threads – I do not remember where I got them but, as Mary shared with me, Amazon has a good selection and at very good prices! The Loopy Ewe is also carrying some Perle Cotton in size 8 and Valdani threads as well. As the season’s change, I will be adding in more colors.

I have a local stitching shop – but they are mainly focused on needlepoint and cross-stitch, however I have picked up a few bits of thread from them – they range in sizes from slightly smaller to slightly larger diameter than the Perle Cotton but I like that diversity in the stitching.

Needles – I am using DMC Chenille needles in size 22 and 24 depending on the thread I am using. I find a needle threader extremely useful as well.

Stitching has become something I look forward to each day and I will be sharing my journey as the year progresses.

I hope you find this helpful – here is to a year of un-stifled creativity!

The Calm Factor

The Calm Factor

Is it just me, or does this week seem to be moving along at warp speed?

This week I need an extra measure of calm and I was certain that if I tried to work on Rock the Lobster, there would be some ripping back…

So, I cast on A Pussy Hat by another name… and completed it the same day.

Then I wound, by hand, a skein of Miss Babs Deep Sea Jellyfish Yowza that I had been saving for a “rainy day” – it took a good bit of time.

But finally, I cast on another Honey cowl – this time using Kay Gardiner’s recipe for an extra 40 stitches (so I cast on 260 stitches rather than 220).

I started knitting and discovered that I had twisted the cast on row, so I had this Moebius thing going on. Yep, you guessed it – RRRIIIPPPPPP!

I cast on again – this time more successfully. On the fourth time of knitting a Honey Cowl – it is like sitting down with an old friend – comfortable, calming, and soothing. Just what I need this week!

On the reading front I finished The Nix yesterday and I loved it! I know it is too early to be saying anything about favorite books read this year, but I will tell you this – it is on the top ten list for favorite books ever. Yes. It is that good. It is chock full of so many good things – so many! And, I love how Nathan Hill tied all those things together! I highly recommend this book – really. It is a must read, imo.

I am still reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt – I really love her writing; however, I am still undecided about her slate of characters in this novel because they are decidedly unlikable. Now, that does not mean I am saying I do not like the story – because I do like it very much. Are you confused? I hope not, because it is very good and I am hoping that one of the characters manages to redeem themselves before the end of the story.

That is all I have for this Wednesday, where as usual I am joining Ginny in her Yarn Along.

What are you knitting or reading this week to get through?

A tiny post script on the conundrum of smelly vs. not smelly paper whites (or narcissus). Apparently there are indeed a couple of varieties that have low-smell or no-smell. More information can be found here and here. In other words, avoid the Ziva variety.

All the good reads

All the good reads

This week I hit the good reads bonanza – I finished Michael Chabon’s Moonglow and started two excellent books – in my ears is Nathan Hill’s The Nix (which I am LOVING!!) and the other excellent book I started this week is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which I am reading via Overdrive on my iPad.

So much good reading! So.much!

I enjoyed Moonglow – I laughed, I cried, and really loved this journey through the memories of a grandparent. I highly recommend this book and gave it 4 stars.

Knitting has also been on the very good level – post-holiday crunch knitting is all completed and I have got back to Rock the Lobster to get this finished. Sleeve one was completed on Monday and yesterday I managed to get a good start on sleeve two. It is at the perfect point right now, just mindless knitting – no counting yet, no remembering to decrease.

I also finished swatching for an upcoming project and I really love how this process can take me in an entirely different direction than was the original plan. I think this is where I have learned how to “make a swatch lie to me” to “get gauge” to knit a project – I have more than once done this and the end result was a sweater that did not fill well and I really did not like very much. I have discovered that if you look at swatching in a different way, you have better success. What gauge makes the best fabric? That was the “aha” moment for me – getting a fabric I like. I will be starting a new sweater as soon as I have Rock the Lobster done and I am excited about that which is just the perfect incentive to finish this up! Can I also say that I am in love with this yarn – Sheepspot CVM which will be coming soon. It is light and airy in feel, yet it will be a hard-wearing fabric. I have been giving these swatches some good abrasion and they are holding up well, are not stretching out, and have good structure without being heavy – and NO PILLING!! I know, I am seriously in love with this yarn!

I would have picked up Rob Roy last night, but the lure of The Secret History won over knitting (yes, it is that good!) The hat has been in a bit of a time out because of pattern confusion, however, I only have one pattern repeat to complete and although Mary shared there was more confusion on the crown decreases, she graciously shared her pattern notes here if you are knitting along. This hat is for Steve and I would like to get it done before we get more cold weather so I hope to finish this up today.

That is all I have for today and, as always, I am joining Ginny’s Yarn Along where you will find plenty of knitting and reading inspiration!

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