It has been since I last bought yarn!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ribbon Roundup

Well- the ribbons are collected and Stampede is over for another year.

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I'm pleased with my placing this year.  2 first in categories and a second overall is nothing to be disappointed about.  But I am.  Please don't mistake this next part for my being ungrateful or being bitter at the winner (I am not)- but DAMMIT I want to win.  And so, because I'm really just a hyper competitive spirit disguised as your average every day mother, I'm already plotting, already researching and already trying to think what I can do to be first overall next year.  (So far I'm not getting very far... )  So, yes, brace yourself because I'm probably going to be obsessing for the next 11.5 months on what I'm going to do next year.  And after 7 (8?) years of blogging I think it's clear I'm FIRST OVERALL when it comes to obsessing over things.

While I plot my next big thing, I'm knitting little, simple things.

A child-less trip to Vail (for a wedding) over July 4 weekend meant that I brought the sock out of hiding and enjoyed having airplane time to knit.  This has got to be a record for the longest it's every taken me to finish a plain and simple sock!  (Started back in JANUARY!)

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I also eked out another charity hat because these babies aren't going to knit themselves!

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And, I finally got to cut my teeth on an easy project that would also address some of the sock yarn leftovers.  Mother in law encouraged me to just let the project flow and be organic and not worry so much about matchy-matchy stripes.  But on top of being obsessive, I'm also like things painfully symmetrical, so say hello to my newest little stash buster blanket....

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Just 2 rows to remember and fingering weight yarn make this is an ideal project to knit over the summer.  Light and easy- a well deserved break from the agony I experienced with the mittens.

So stay tuned to see what else I'm whipping up and adding to the "finished" pile.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Results Are In

For those of you who don't get the privilege to go to the Stampede grounds- I'm going to spoil you on the final results in the knitting.  If you don't want to know yet and want to be surprised.... skip this post until later.

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I had a very successful year this year!  2 red first place ribbons AND a second in section overall.

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The mittens, after all the agonizing, showed very well and were selected as "second in section"- which means CASH PRIZE!


The blanket also placed first in it's category and also had a lovely red ribbon on them as well.

It appears that I was not the only one who thought about Calgary themed mittens this year, as I had some competition....


My Mother in Law also did very well- with a red ribbon for her socks too!  My pic is really awful but her socks were really beautiful.


The overall section winner is the same person from last year who designed another really lovely sweater.  (Great job Tamara!)


Even my little man seemed impressed with mommy's work this year....


We had a great time at Stampede this year and it does feel that all the project agony I experienced was well worth it.  We've been busy taking in parties and playing Cowboy dress up, so knitting progress hasn't really happened around here- but once this week is over, things will go back to normal and I fully intend to knit up a storm sitting out on my deck.  :-)

HAPPY STAMPEDE EVERYONE!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Now What?

Well now that the Stampede projects are out of my hands... now what?

First I had to catch up on some charity obligations that I didn't want to get behind.  I knit sections for the "pie" blankets for the WCOBB charity group.

Key Lime Pie

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Lemon Meringue Pie



Then I decided I needed to get 2 more hats out the door and off the big ball.  (I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to get even more than my original guess of 18 hats out of this!)


And now I'm free to knit what I want.  So what do I want to knit?  Well... I have a bunch of sock yarn leftovers that need to get busted out of my stash.  MiL has been working on these projects and her stuff looks AWESOME- so I've been inspired to do something with this little pile.


I also really want to dig waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back into my lost projects pile and re-attempt the shawl again.  Remember the Shawl of GIANT FAIL?  (I can't even find a blog link for it... so just trust me- I started and failed miserably at a shawl and I want to restart again.)

I also want to give my little boy bunny a girlfriend.  He looks lonely on the shelf.

I'm aiming for nice and simple this summer.  Probably a few more hats too, just lots of easy projects to have on the go that don't require a lot of brain power.  Hopefully it'll keep the blog interesting too.  So stay tuned.... hopefully the finished project pile will start getting a little fuller!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Glamorous Mystery Part 2

That was kind of mean telling you about the baby blanket but saving the reveal of the REAL mystery for today.  (Sorry... one has to keep you interested somehow- right?)  Well... WAIT NOT LONGER- behold, my Misery Mystery Mittens!

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Pattern: Calgary Mittens by ME (Jennifer Johnson).  (HOLY CRAP I DESIGNED THIS!)
Yarn: Filatura Di Crosa Zarina in 1912 & 1401
Needles: US 1 - my guage on stranded knitting continues to improve!
Notes: Oh god this ended up being so much more work than I thought it would be!

AND NOW- the story can be told.

To date, this was one of the most difficult things I've ever knit.  The knitting itself, once I got into it, wasn't a problem, but the planning and planning and PLANNING of this pattern took MONTHS in advance.  I agonized over design elements and agonized over what should and should be there.  I harassed family members to regularly vote on what they liked and didn't like.  Family members who I'm sure thought it regularly, but never said it out loud, "You're over-thinking this too much!"

So much graph papers with doodles and false starts and trying out ideas.

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YEAH.  That's a lot!  I sketched and erased and tried to come up with ideas that would cohesively blend together.  Every design, every detail on that mitten was created by me.  And I tried to be really thoughtful about what went on there representing my city.

On the cuff- the criss cross pattern is meant to look like the Peace Bridge in Calgary.

Peace Bridge

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After the flood last year I was so impressed by the way complete strangers helped one another out- I was always smitten with the idea of boys and girls holding hands, representing the strong sense of community this city clearly has.

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On the hand I chose icons that are so well known in this city... the Calgary tower, the mountains so close to us and of course- the stetson we all don 10 days out of the year while we celebrate Stampede.  That pretty much sums up Calgary to me.  My original design has also included the city's name

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but as you'll remember- the mitten was too long and I had to rip it out.  (*sobs again*)

On the inside of the hand, a maple leaf for Canada and thumb elements of a rearing horse (taken from the City of Calgary's logo) and on the inside a wild rose design for Alberta.  (pictured in the collection below)

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I started and stopped this project so often there's part of me that still feels this lingering concern that I didn't finish it even though it's already handed in.  

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This post is picture heavy because I'm proud of myself.  I'm proud of what I did.  Will I design mittens again?  Maybe, although right now my brain needs a break and my hands just want to knit simple things.  But for now, we wait- we sit back and wait to see what the judges think.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Glamorous Mystery Part 1

It's glamour photo time because I have FINALLY- FINALLY finished my projects and they are ready for me to take in to submit to Stampede today.  This post will be done in 2 stages because there's a lot to say, (specifically about the mittens) so come back tomorrow for reveal #2.

First off- the Sleepy Baby Blanket is finished.

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Pattern: Lullabye Blanket (Ravelry Link) by Jennifer Lori
Yarn: Filatura Di Crosa Zara colorway 1396 (Off White)
Needles: US 6
Notes: The only thing I did differently than the pattern was drop the number of feather and fan repeats, because I didn't want it to be too enormous.  In this case, it was the right call- blanket measures 45 inches across.  Any bigger and I think it would be too big.

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This blanket included a lot of firsts for me.  My first circular cast on took a few tries but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.  It's kind of amazing to me that you start with so few stitches and end with so many.  You start with 20, and end close to 700!!  I also wet blocked this blanket for the first time, at the suggestion of MiL, and I might be a wet block convert forever.  In the past I've pinned my projects to my specifications and soaked it through like crazy with a sprayer.  The relative ease of simply laying out my wet blanket and pinning it down was SO MUCH simpler, that I think I'm going to do it that way from now on!

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This blanket is really lovely.  I'm so pleased with the way it looks and I hope that I will eventually find a loving home for it.  (My friend agreed that the blue and white mosaic blanket suited her little man more and was happy to have it.)

I especially love the lightly scalloped edges on the outside, just such a simple effect but just finished this off so beautifully for me.

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Also- this yarn?  This yarn is pure AWESOME to knit with.  It has that delightful spongy quality that jumps around the needles.  Life is too short to knit with crappy yarn, and I'm so happy I just said "screw up" and ponied up on the price.

I'm really, REALLY happy with the way this finished up.  It's relatively simple to knit, but took some endurance.  More and more I'm realizing I'm mostly happy with simpler projects, they finish so beautifully you just sit back and go "YEAH- I AM good!"

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Mystery reveal!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Quickie

This will be a rather quick post today, as I find myself with little time but to knit as quickly as I can.

With great guidance from my MiL, we blocked my Sleepy Baby blanket today.  I can't believe how much easier it was to wet block this project instead of my regular dry block.  Wet blocking- you may have a new convert!

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The mittens continue on rather frantic pace.  There are 9 more days until I have to finish them.  I need to be finished these by Sunday in order to block them in enough time.

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I'm less thrilled with my final results on this than I hoped.  I dropped 13 stitches, which meant losing an aspect of the pattern I thought really "tied it together".  These are still nice, but I'm less enthused about them.

Guys- I cannot. wait. until I can just knit some mindless stuff again.  I really look forward to mindless knitting!!!

OK- that sound you hear is the whip cracking- BACK TO THE GRIND!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Insanity

Well, good news first.  After my last post the "urge" hit me and I began working on my mystery project in earnest and really started making progress.

It was all going so well that yesterday I decided to just go ahead and enter it for the Stampede.  (I also entered the Sleepy Baby blanket so my friend will have to wait for after Stampede if she wants it!)  I kept my schedule open and just kept furiously knitting and knitting and knitting on it.  My goal was to finish the first mitt by Thursday and I was WELL on track of this.
And then, last night, I realized something.  This mitten is ENORMOUS.  E.N.O.R.M.O.U.S.  Here's what I have:

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I'm at least 10 rows out before I even START decreasing.  They're just too damn long.

At first I thought, Ok, I'll just take out one of those cuff patterns and viola- issue resolved.  Except after thinking about it that wasn't going to be the answer either.  I need to shorten the hand part, (I really don't mind longer cuffs on my mittens) around the thumb hole, shortening the cuff will still result in an equally long mitten.

*sigh*

After sleeping on it- I think I've resolved what to do.  It means taking out a section of the pattern (about 13 rows) and moving forward.  It's SO. Painful to think about what I have to do, because it means a tremendous amount of ripping out work.  But, I'm going to rip it back to the cuff and start again.  *cries*

I literally just stopped this blog post and did it now.  See?

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*SOBS HYSTERICALLY*

How many false starts have I had with this project?  What's the definition of insanity again?  Doing the same thing over and over and garnering the same (wrong) results?  I feel like I'm toeing the line of insanity here.  WHY are my Stampede projects so painful?  Last year's project was equally emotionally painful and I felt like I was going mildly insane too.  I guess the big question now- is it even worth it?

(Let's not talk about gauge ok?  NO.  I didn't knit a gauge swatch.  Mostly because I knit my sister's mittens with THE SAME YARN and essentially tailored the pattern to the exact size.  I have NO. IDEA. where the failure is here.... but OMG I'm so miserable about it!)

And so the goal now is have this mitten done by Friday night.  Cross your fingers.  *goes back to crying.*

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hitting the Wall

Guys I just hit the perverbial wall.  It couldn't have happened at a worse time.

You know, "THE WALL", right?  The wall is where you wake up one morning and you're like "ugh- I cannot do this anymore".  I'm just done with everything I'm working on and I don't want to knit anything it if means knitting on those items again.  The problem with THE WALL is that I don't even want to start something new- I just want to stop. all. of. it.  I don't want to knit ANYTHING.  (*gasps* *clutches pearls in horror*)

The circular blanket is off the needles.  Tah DAH.

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(Oh hai!  I need blocking!)

There were some tense moments, I won't lie.  I ordered a 3rd "safety skein" just to be on the safe side and just as I was casting off- I did need to knit into that 3rd ball.  It was so close- I just barely had to use anything from that 3rd ball- but I did.

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(You can see how close I came- so few stitches left to cast off- and yet I had to nip into that ball!)

I'm so glad I wove in the ends when I did because the minute this came off the needles- THE WALL slammed me in the face.  All that needs to be done is blocking.  And I just can't bring myself to do it.  It doesn't help that the baby this was intended for turned out to be a boy, and all of sudden I'm second guessing this as the right gift.  I worry it might be too feminine.  I had always intended this as an heirloom type of project, but suddenly I have cold feet about giving it to the little boy.  I still have the Welsh Blanket and I'm thinking about giving that to him instead.

Part of me wonders if I am secretly hanging on to this blanket because I want to put it in the Stampede.  Part of me wonders if I'm making up excuses to not gift it to save it for that.  The other part of me DOES wonder if it's too feminine and to go with something else.  THE WALL is clouding all of my judgement.  So, instead of making ANY decisions and moving forward I haven't done anything with it.  The damn WALL is a real killer guys.

THE WALL is also killing me on the mystery Stampede project.  I procured better, squishier yarn and cast on again- I knit about 25 rows and ripped it out and went down a needle size.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  I have just restarted this project again (3rd time!), on even smaller needles and already I've hit an issue today.  After doing everything I could think of to NOT knit, I finally sat down to knit only to get about 6 rows in and realize I'd made a mistake.

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(Do yah see it?!)

Immediately THE WALL was like "put it away- go do something else... [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE] knitting is such a crappy frustrating hobby just WALK AWAY FROM IT ALL."  I literally forced myself to rip out to the error and at AT LEAST knit back to where I had started that day.  It's not much- but at least I can sit down and plow forward whenever the mood strikes... IF it strikes at all.

The thing is- I don't want to do it.  I don't want to work on this.  I'm not sure if I've just over-thought this to death and beat the dead horse 6 feet into the ground and now I'm just tired of the whole thing or what- but my enthusiasm is gone.  Stupid Wall.

As I've mentioned this couldn't have happened at a worse time.  My goal was to have everything COMPLETED and entered by June 1.  The absolute latest I have is until June 19 to enter and June 25th is the take in day.  And for whatever STUPID REASON I tell myself there's plenty of time to stall.  THERE IS NOT PLENTY OF TIME TO STALL.  I repeat- I NEED TO GET MY BUTT IN GEAR.

Someone come over and get my butt in gear?

Maybe it's that it is finally, after the worst, longest, [EXPLETIVE] [EXPLETIVE] winter ever- the weather is finally nice.  Who wants to stay inside and knit when they can go to the park or go pick dandelions?

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(Kids really DO make you stop and sniff the flowers... even if they're weeds)

Who has TIME to knit when you have a million years of yard work to do!?

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(Isn't my yard pretty right now!?  The blossoms are so lovely, even if they're making it impossible for me to breathe from all the scent they give off.)

I don't know what to tell ya.  I haven't just hit THE WALL, I've smacked myself so hard up against it I'm worried I'm embedded in!  I will eventually find myself wandering back into the knitting again.  I'm not worried that this is a permanent affliction, I'm just worried that I won't get away from THE WALL in time and all my hard work won't be done in time for Stampede- and that would be a shame.  I mean for goodness sakes- I opted to BLOG tonight instead of knit.  (That's when you really know I'm procrastinating.)

Send mojo.  Send calming vibes.  Send a DAMN WRECKING BALL!  Just get me away from this wall!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Charitable Interlude

As I mentioned last post, I was waiting for more yarn to show up and I was able to keep myself busy while I waited.

I knit 2 more hats out of the big ball.  More twins!

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This brings the total to 10 hats, not bad so far.  I'm still guessing 18 hats, so I guess we'll see how I do.

I also had a charity blanket show up, so I knit the final 6 inch section.  The theme was Blue Suede Shoes:

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These charity blankets are a great way to stash down my acrylic stash.  Guys I'm really, really close to having all the acrylic gone!  I'm not sure what I'm going to do to work down my sport weight+ wool stash.  I seem to be going through a double moss stitch phase, because I knit this section in double moss too.

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The additional balls of yarn that showed up early this week too, and so I've dived back into the circular blanket.  That baby was due yesterday, so I need to buckle down and knit like crazy to get this off the needles.  It's really hard to show you progress on this- so just trust me.  Progress is being made.

I've also reworked the cuff in the new yarn I procured for the mystery mittens so I'm well on my way to getting progress on that too.  Hopefully there will be a few spare moments this weekend to sneak in a few rows on that too.

Happy long weekend everyone!