Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Outside of the Box

Soooo there's a chance I might be a bit of an impulse shopper. Liiiiiike if something is in a really cute package but I'll never use the actual product? I'll probably buy it. If I get really excited about the idea of something but don't get much further than that? I'll throw money at it. Cute shoes that might not be comfortable? They're actually in my 'donate' bag right now. It's never anything overly extravagant as far as price is concerned, but as someone who feels angsty and overwhelmed amid too much stuff, having the stuff unused is worse than losing the money I spent on it (which, again, usually isn't much).

Case in point. Last year I signed up for a yarn subscription service (which didn't last long once I realized the error of my ways). They sent me a nice 'hello' gift, and then my first box.

The gift was a small skein of yarn, a measuring tape that hooks onto itself that you can use to take your own measurements, a few patterns, and a fun little zippy pouch.

My first box was a couple of patterns and some yarn and beads. I actually gave this away a few months ago as the yarn is beautiful, but I knew I'd never get to it.

As time is wont to do, it flew by, and even though I signed up for every other month that time came too quickly, as did my second box.

Along with some patterns and cute yarn-themed goodies, the project was for a produce bag in a nice cotton-alpaca blend. I used the cord for something else, the notebook is used for grocery lists, and the yarn is...somewhere. I didn't care for it as it has no memory, and I'll never use it as a produce bag. So I'm doing really good, right? Gave one away, and dispersed the contents of the other to 'somewhere.'

So I cancelled that subscription once I took hold of my senses. But then I got a tug on the heartstrings. Many of you may have heard of Amanda Bloom's Little Box of Crochet. It's a monthly subscription service that Amanda started with her teenage daughter Jenny. Way unfortunately, her daughter Jenny has been battling cancer for several years and is nearing the end of her fight. I didn't come across this until January, when Lucy of Attic24 announced she was the designer for February's box. So of course I signed up because if Lucy chose it you know it'll be full of color, and because from far away from the UK it felt like helping somehow. The box did not disappoint.

In addition to an adorable box and pattern booklet, there was a crochet hook, buttons, stickers, a stitch marker, a Russian doll pin, and a rainbow of yarn.

The suggested project was a mug cozy. I don't know that that's something I'd use. I have a fabulous knack for dripping coffee down the side of my mug before I've even taken a sip, and I didn't want to make something so cute just to gross it up. I had no ideas on what to make, so I asked A-train. He's so imaginative I thought he'd see something I couldn't right away. He told me I should make a blanket for "baby Henry" (my cousins' son). When I explained there wasn't enough yarn for a blanket he said "Just make a small one, then." So I am still undecided on this, although all I see is something to do with flowers.

I did get the second box, and then cancelled my subscription as I could sense that feeling of "Why do I keep buying these things when I already have too much yarn and too many projects?" 

This one had some beautiful mercerized cotton and some other goodies.

The pattern for this box was supposed to be a crocheted lace scarf. I tried. I really did. I don't think I started fewer than ten times, but this just did not want to work. I do love the colors together, so I will definitely have to find a project for these.

So, that's that. Yep. Not another thing to report.....OK, I'm lying, one more. I KNOW! What is WRONG with me? This one was not a subscription, but for a crochet-along for a beautiful Scandinavian-inspired shawl. The Scheepjes yarn company hosts a CAL every year (I've used their yarns a few times now, and they are beautiful!), and while my primary instinct was to not take part, they introduced a new colorway that I gasped over, and bought right away. I don't have a picture of it in the box as I've pulled it all apart already, but here's an image from the info page:

OK? Tell me that's not gorgeous! 

Again, I tried. I gauge swatched and finally got going. Then I realized...I kind of wasn't liking it for me. It's beautiful in pictures, and I can immerse myself for a while in the Instagram photos, but guys? I have a lot of shawls that I don't wear as much as I should considering the time invested, and if I wasn't loving the feel of this one it didn't make sense to continue. So the small colored skeins (that make up the heart above) have been squirreled away for a floral project simmering in my brain. And the pink of the background is currently on my knitting needles as a warm-weather cardigan (it's cotton yarn). I had to very carefully search for a pattern, and I think I'll be able to squeak this one out. Eventually. Because the section I'm working on now feels like it will never end. It honestly feels like there's a gremlin unravelling as I stitch like the dickens because how can I not be further along yet?

However, I do not lack for shows to binge watch so I think I'll survive it. OH! Speaking of shows. First--I don't know how you all have waited for an entire week to pass by to watch Call the Midwife. I've only recently caught up to what's airing now, and it's torture to wait for Sunday night! BUT if you like shows with strong, smart women you might like The Bletchley Circle on Netflix. It seems to have only had a brief run, but the premise is interesting--a group of WWII code-breakers decide to put their skills to use to solve murders. I've enjoyed what little there is of it, so if you're not wanting something that lasts too long you might enjoy this.

OK, must trot. Because in addition to too much yarn, and always too much fabric (which I swear I'll be cutting and stitching again soon), I also have too many books, so I'm going to go make a dent in that pile. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hello! And Happy Easter!

I cannot believe it's been two whole weeks since I last visited with you here. It's been a...varied two weeks. Every early spring, I get hit by a few weeks of feeling low (a little sad, a little anxious, a little lethargic, all rolled into a bundle of fun for those around me). And just as I was feeling on the uptick, we received word of the untimely passing of my uncle. That, and a few other personal things, have caused the past two weeks to be a bit of a blur. And when I logged on today, I thought "Two weeks!!! Oh dear!!"

The weather has been varied--we've had cold days with rain, gray days with some unseasonable humidity, and a good healthy dose of blue skies and sunshine. Today was warm, and windy, and sunny. And Easter. The flowers are popping their heads out of the earth to see what's new, a certain little boy was searching for eggs (and called the Easter Bunny 'a clever guy'), and more carbohydrate-laden calories were ingested today than for the whole year thus far.

I don't remember what these are called, but they must have sprung up overnight as they were certainly not there yesterday. They look like mini pansies.

We hid some plastic eggs in the yard because Little Schmoo loves a good seek and find. Sometimes he would be practically nose-to-nose with it (if eggs had noses) and would say "Tell me if I'm hot or cold!" Of course, a few were easier than others.

I caught this picture of that herald of spring, Mr. Robin Redbreast.

He responded as one of my sisters does when she sees a camera--he posed and seemed to say "Hey, take one of me!"

I've actually got several similar shots, but I won't bore you.

My father spent a significant amount of time this week giving the yard its first makeover of the season--edging, trimming, mowing, raking, and so on. It sits in stark contrast with our neighbor's yard (as it does most of the year), which is generally covered in weeds and overgrowth and a general atmosphere of Amazonia. However, if you look at just the right moment (and possibly tilt your head and squint), you see that it looks like a field of sunshine.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sister Monica Joan (of Call the Midwife) when she says "Weeds are flowers that are simply growing in the wrong place" (and then promptly transplants the pulled weeds into her garden). Which, speaking of that show, my mom and I are completely caught up (except for tonight's episode, which I recorded). I am so madly in love with this show. But if you've made it this far in this post I do have a question--seasons two through five opened with a Christmas special. I know there is one for this season wherein they all go to South Africa, but from what I can tell that episode has not aired here in the States. Does anyone have any insight to this? It's driving me bonkers to be missing this episode (and will drive me further so waiting for it to pop up on Netflix).

I haven't got much else for you, just a bit of a personal whirlwind for the last two weeks. Speaking to that, when my mind is...occupied, I find that I need to busy myself. I've cleaned and dusted and gone through my closet and drawers to bag up donations. I spent yesterday making Finnish pulla bread (yummy, though I might leave out the cardamom next time), and started a summer cardigan today. I went shopping, had lunch with my mom, polished my nails, went to church, and did the Easter thing with the family. This may very well be the three most productive days of my entire life.

Work is going to be a welcome relief tomorrow (for about fifteen minutes).

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Trowbridge Sweater

Just in time for spring and warmer weather I finished the sweater I was working on. A better planner would have laid off knitting socks through the winter and made the sweater then, as they would have realized they already had plenty of socks. But I am not that better planner, so here we are.

I do so love to knit a top-down raglan. I have a long torso, so knitting from the top to the hem lets me make the sweater as long as I like. The pattern I used for this one was the 'Trowbridge' pattern by Alicia Plummer. I liked the fit, and the simple details that kicked it up just the right size notch.

It's quite a simple pullover, but it does have some lovely waist and hip shaping.

I'm not entirely in love with the fact that the increases and decreases aren't really invisible, but at least everything is neat and symmetrical, and runs down the sides of the sweater, instead of somewhere more noticeable like the front.

There are a couple simple details that elevate the design of the Trowbridge. Each sleeve has a sewn-on band at the wrist, accented with buttons.

The ribbed collar has a garter stitch section that adds a fun little detail to an otherwise pretty vanilla design.

The yarn I used is GGH Maxima in the color ozeanblau. It looked a little more vibrant on my computer than in real life, but it's still a nice, deep, almost military blue. The yarn is nice and soft, but sturdy. It doesn't split when being knit, and washed up very nice (it's a superwash wool). 

I did the math oh so carefully, but ended up with a lot of extra yarn. Even if I had made the next size up I still would have had a lot extra. So here I am wearing it--it's a little bit snugger than I thought it would be, but the next size up would have been too big.

I'm definitely quite...um...buxom looking in this, but the body and the sleeves are nice and long. I'm standing in that classic pregnancy pose (I'm not, by the way) just so you can see the wrist detail. 

While the pattern was well-written and easy to follow, I don't know that I'd make it again, but mostly because I don't like making the same things again and again when they take weeks to do. I'd like to redo it in the next size up and compare, but I feel like I could drop a few pounds in the same time frame and just wear the one I already made. I'm also going to try and steam it out just a touch wider in the body and see if that helps as the fabric has a decent amount of give to it.

This, however, is generally why I enjoy cardigans much more. Not so many fit worries, and I love feeling like I'm wrapping myself in a cozy blanket when I pull it close around me.


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