August 2019 Knitting Projects

Hello August!! I don’t know where the time has gone but it’s been a while. Time to start thinking about Christmas knitting!

There is nothing more humbling than to put so much time and love into a handmade gift and have that special person really feel grateful and appreciative of it. Not everyone in my circle of loved ones are like this. As special as these people are to me anyway, the grateful ones are so much fun to knit for.

My husband is one of these people. I have made him some very nice scarves when I began to take knitting more seriously as a hobby. One scarf I made him was made out of some aran 100% regular wool and was very long with star stitches throughout. I should have known he isn’t the best with laundry and fabric care as he threw it in a regular wash and then in the dryer one day. It came out as a thick felted square. I managed to use sharp scissors to cut thick strips, rolled them up, re-felted and transformed the mess into a few wool balls. To this day, the wool is at least being put into good use in my dryer. I really hate waste and I also took over washing and dryer duties in the household. He loves folding clean laundry so this works well for us.
Everything I knit for him, he always loves and wears them non-stop without washing whatever it is. He always claims it’s the best thing I’ve ever made him until the next one. He’s very sweet like that.. For years now, I’ve been planning to knit him a sweater but lately (maybe for the past year) he’s been irritating me so much as I’m sure this is totally normal for every couple in general. It’s too hard to knit for someone who makes you feel so angry, you know? Obviously the anger passes.. So anyway, exactly a year ago, I began to swatch a sweater for him but couldn’t get the gauge right. My gauge last year was about 6 needle sizes smaller than the size that the designer used. Is that normal?? (I was very pregnant at the time so who knows, maybe hormones did something wonky to my gauge back then. I’ve learned that my pregnant self and real self are completely different people!)
The pattern is called East Village by Josh Bennett. He likes fitted light weight sweaters and this one seems perfect. This will be my first adult sweater and I am excited to pick this up again. It’s been hard to find designated time for something like this but my 9 month old son will be going to full day daycare in September so I’m looking forward to figuring out this gauge business.

My sister in-law is an amazing person. I’m so grateful and lucky to have such a wonderful sister in-law. My mother in-law passed away about 5 or 6 years ago to cancer before we got married. She lived a little far away and I wish I had more time to get to know her better. She was an artisan potter and a very delightful and vibrate person. Usually I hear people not getting along with their mother in-laws, but this woman was truly amazing and I really admired her. I suppose my husband’s sister is the closest connection I have to her, as they both are very pleasant people and even kind of look similar. I get that they are each very different individual people but still. Isn’t it fun to hear about your spouse’s embarrassing childhood stories from somebody?

Last year I quickly made her a hat. It only took me a couple of hours and I wanted to make her socks but ran out of time. Since the New Year I put it on hibernation but will be taking it out soon. It’s almost done. It’s from Knit Picks Socktacular book which I love! The pattern is Shifting Rib Socks. I’m all for printing patterns off of Ravelry or just keeping a digital pattern on my phone to save paper but I really love having physical books. I love knitting socks and this book is so versatile. It’s the first time I did a toe-up gusset heel which I didn’t know even existed. (I should mention though that there is an errata on this heel section of the book on the Knit Picks website if you have the same book and are trying to follow along. It’s just a minor stitch count that was off but good to know.)
I kind of wish there were more stitch patterns but it’s still worth the buy. I got it when they had a 60% or 80% book sale (I think it was a Cyber Monday sale) so I can’t complain.

Normally I like knitting socks on dpns one at a time but I knew I would be dropping and picking this project up again with kids and so I did the two at a time method on one circular needle. The first time I tried this two at a time method, did not like it at all. I found myself constantly untangling or re-arranging each ball of yarn and it’s all still the same amount of knitting so the progress wasn’t necessarily faster. I found it’s not ideal travel knitting this way with the separate yarns.
This time around, I kind of got use to the rearranging of yarn balls as I went along and it’s a sure fire way to make sure everything matched up perfectly, from the length to the heel, between each sock. Especially with the toe-up gusset heel, I don’t know if I could have made them look exactly the same if I made them one at a time. Dpns are how I learned and so I feel most comfortable knitting socks that way. I always have sock projects as travel knitting (if I remember to take it with me). Sometimes putting dpns away and then picking them up again is not as easy as circular needles. If my kids found something on dpns, they have a tendency to rip the needle right off the stitches. I can’t wait until they are old enough so that I do not have to knit in secret anymore.

Also almost done this monster and baby monster project. I still have to glue on the teeth but keep on putting that off for some reason. The pattern is
Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster by Rebecca Danger. Such a cute project. I made one set for my oldest son, David who is 3. He calls them Mommy Monster and David Monster. Now this one is a Daddy Monster with a Jack (his brother) Monster. Anything for the kids..

It’s interesting how we tend to knit primarily for people we love. There are so many beautiful patterns I have on my queue that I wish I had time to knit for myself but I always choose to knit everything for loved ones. Have you ever seen one of those Knit Picks mugs or tote bags with that “Knitting is love” design? It’s so true! But don’t we love ourselves too?? I feel happy for the people who do knit for themselves. I want to be like that one day. Especially when the project turns out absolutely stunning and beautiful with all that love put into it. You deserve it!!

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Bullet Journaling for More Knitting Time

So it’s been quite a few years since Ryder Carroll shared his ingenious method to the world that essentially changed how people got their life together. I’m a little bit late on the Bullet Journal train. When I first heard about it (not that long ago), I thought I didn’t have time to jot down my endless to-do lists and be super organized. As a sleep deprived mother of an infant and a toddler, I barely have time to shower, let alone use the washroom! The To-Do Lists are endless, my children need me, and my husband works crazy hours.  Self-care? What the heck is that?? Since my second son was born, I haven’t picked up my knitting needles in almost a year.

Truthfully, I really like the busy-ness of being a caffeine-driven mom and running a busy household. I know these years will not last forever and my kids will someday grow old enough and leave. I’ll be alone in this household with that husband of mine and I’ll be sad.. My main focus has been to try my best to give these kids the best childhood I can possible give them. It’s been consuming all of my energy as a whole and they are totally worth it. Still it’s ill advised to keep running when feeling emotionally and mentally depleted. (Rage and impatience usually directed at husband.. poor guy..)

Knitting is my recharge. My reset button that brings me peace. I use to think self-care was just selfish (“but what of the children?” I use to ask myself) I’ve read somewhere that self-care is self preservation. How can you take care of other people if you cannot take care of yourself? Totally makes sense. My youngest is 8 months old and I’m totally on board for more self care time.

In comes the Bullet Journal Idea..

This whole time, I tried to get keep all my to-do tasks in my head with a regular cleaning schedule and important dates, etc. No one else knew or understood the list. My husband doesn’t think the same way as I do so I usually tackled everything head on on my own.  We have one of those large “mom organizer” calendars in our kitchen but that only really captures important dates. The chores are endless (particularly dishes and laundry), and especially since my youngest is mobile, I really make it a point to keep those floors clean at least once everyday as he tends to put everything he finds in his mouth. The majority of the household chores/errands fall on me as I am on maternity leave right now. When I go back to working full time, things will be even more crazy busy.

So it seems the bullet journal is meant for busy people with a million to do lists. It helps to decompress the mental pressure of endless lists. There’s also many different customization options to track anything you want that fits your lifestyle. And they say you only spend however much time you want to spend on it.

Ok, sounds great.

I could spend hours looking at everyone else’s set up for inspiration. Wow people are amazingly talented out there with their beautiful lettering and doodling skills. Mine totally doesn’t look like that. I love how there are stickers specifically designed for bullet journaling for people to buy. They are super cute! Too bad I’m too cheap to be cute.

Minimalist journaling is the answer. If you want to add some colour, multi coloured highlighters and coloured pens are all you need.

I have an overview of all the cleaning tasks that need to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly and as needed basis. And I incorporate my daily cleaning schedule into my “Habits Tracker” along with a self care list in mind to check off at the end of the day. I’m still playing around with the Habit Tracker layout, but it’s such a great idea. I love the idea of a mood, water intake and even caffeine tracker just for fun.  At the Monthly log, I’ve included a check mark box list of monthly tasks as well as Goals. For the month of July, I plan on picking up knitting again as part of my monthly goal. If I set myself up this way, I find I’m more likely to find time to knit even if it’s for 5 minutes in the day. I think I’m better able to organize and plan out my time to squeeze that “me time” in throughout the week. Otherwise, I would try to do too much in one day if I follow a mental list that is impossible to complete in one day.

And I never thought to write my knitting ideas down on paper.. I was always afraid I would lose that piece of paper or worried that it would be a general waste of paper… It’s actually quite helpful and inspires me to just go for it. I have a list of knitting challenges I’m hoping to kick off before the end of the year. I also have a Project Ideas collection of things I would like to knit sometime. Sure there is Ravelry and the queue list, but I have 134 items on that queue list. Over the years, that list has grown but I don’t want to take any off that list just in case I change my mind later and forget about it completely. Writing it down helps narrow it down to realistic goals.

I’m still a little sleep deprived but I believe the system works. Thank you Ryder Carroll for inspiring me to get my life together and utilize my organizational skills! I’m much less likely to just veg out on my phone with this whole system helping me keep focus on tasks on hand. I don’t even think I would be writing on this blog at all if it weren’t for this system. Productivity, here I come!

Do you use a bullet journal? Has it helped you find balance in your crazy busy lives?

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A New Beginning. A New Therapy.

Hi there.  It’s been a while. When I first started this blog 5 years ago, it was meant to be a fun space where I can share things that excited me (like knitting!!) and maybe find a sense of belonging in the growing knitting community where we can all share our excitement and inspire each other.  There are so many amazing ideas out there and ideas I want to share. I know I haven’t accomplished a lot so far.. But a lot has happened in 5 years.. (moved to two different cities for different job opportunities in less than a year, followed by working like a fresh out of college crazy career mad scientist woman who wanted to be way too involved in her career, then married my  best friend, bought a house, and had 2 beautiful healthy sons all within 5 years.) My eldest son is now 3 years old (in full day preschool) and youngest son is 8 months old and will be going to full day daycare in September. I don’t go back to work until November so I’m looking forward to having some time to myself and recover from the exhaustion that comes with life as a mom and homemaker.  I’m hoping to re-spark my passion for knitting. 2019 has been filled with dry spells where I haven’t picked up needles for months. Just too exhausted mentally.  Too much has been going on on top of running a busy household.

So every time this happens to me where I don’t knit for a long time, I almost hear the art calling for me. And even though I have everything I could ever dream of in my life, I feel there is something missing inside that only knitting satisfies and makes me feel at peace again. And I always think , “Why haven’t I picked this up earlier?” Does this make me a knitting junkie? Is it an addiction or just pure therapy?

So let’s start over. I plan on revisiting this space a lot more often than I have. I love the saying “knitting is a lot cheaper than therapy”. And I know there are so many amazing people out there who are fellow knitters/crocheters. I’ll try to make more of an effort to make this page a bit more interesting and keep my ravelry up to date. Hopefully we can inspire each other.

I understand that no one actually cares about my life and all but I feel like it doesn’t hurt to share what’s been going on and to state to that I’m ready to re-enter whatever this space will become.

Hello World!!

Thank you for reading. =D

Until next time..

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Some Lace Knitting Tips

Lace knitting is my favourite.  I started what I call my biggest lace project because this particular pattern really got me to fall in love with lace knitting around a year ago when I first saw it.  The Tie Back Tank designed by Mari Tobita published in Vogue Knitting Magazine Spring/Summer 2013.  This is what it looks like:


To this day I haven’t had a lot of experience with knitting tops as I’d like to.  For the longest time, I just couldn’t afford to.  I’ve recently graduated from college, and you know how it is, we come out as broke as can be when we first start out in the “real” world.  Now that I’m finally in the working world, other than establishing myself in life and all that great stuff, one of my greatest short term aspirations is to be able to knit this top!  It’s been one of my favourite designs for a little over a year now.
I started a couple of swatches with 2 different yarns:
2014-05-06 15.04.592014-05-06 15.05.07
The yarn used in the left image is Knit Picks Gloss DK in Guava.
Right image: Patons Bamboo Silk in Apricot

The Bamboo Silk is very shiny and soft.  Perfect for summer weather.  It is a 50% Bamboo 50% Silk blend.
But I really like the colour of the KnitPicks Gloss which is 70% wool and 30% silk.  I’m so excited and so indecisive, I’m going to try to make 2 separate tops with the two different yarns.  I hope I can pull this off!

Here are some tips I’ve recently picked up that I wish I knew about a long time ago when I first started lace knitting:

  •  One of the first things I do is study the pattern, and colour code the Stitch Key stitches with different highlighter colours and correspond the stitch colours with the chart.  For example, I might colour a K2tog stitch box with a pink highlighter, and ssk with blue.  That way, it’s easier for me to follow the chart and correspond the stitches with colours rather than remembering left leaning symbols vs. right leaning symbols because I always get the two mixed up.
  • Life lines are very helpful.  I run a life line through every once in a while using a lighter weight scrap yarn.  I’ve heard of people using dental floss which is a great idea, especially for the lace weight yarns.  Nothing is more tragic when working far along on a big lace project and you discover you made a mistake a few rows down, or too many stitches just happen to slip off your needle and you find yourself frogging the work all the way to the very beginning and you have to start all over after all that time and love put into it.  =(  And the love turns into sadness, then quickly to anger and frustration that you just have to walk away!  (Trust me, it’s happened before..)
  • Depending on the pattern, I like to also place stitch markers at the beginning and end of each pattern repeat.  That way I find it easier to keep track of where I am in the pattern and can also catch mistakes much easier that without the markers.
  • No stitch boxes in the chart literally means No Stitch.  Literally pretend they don’t even exist and just knit the next stitch.  (Sadly it took me a long time to figure that one out..)
  • When casting on for any large project, I like to place a marker on every 20 stitches.  That way, I can easily count the cast on stitches 20 at a time.  As long as I make sure there really are 20 stitches in each section as I go.
  • The type of needle you use is more important for some than for others.  There are some really nice lace needles out there with more pointy ends than the standard needles that make it easier to accurately get into stitches with lace weight yarn.  Lace needles also tend to have more grab to them to prevent stitches from slipping off easily, or so I’ve heard.  Personally, I use my standard Knitter’s Pride Nova interchangeable set.  They are nickel plated brass and very slippery, but I like them even with lace knitting.  They work just fine with lace knitting, but it all comes down to personal preference.  I also like to use bamboo with lace too if I have the right size.I kind of got discouraged when I was planning to buy a Addi Lace Click Interchangeable Needle set.  They are very pricey and I heard someone tell me that even though they were designed for lace knitting, they are not so great with lace weight yarn because the yarn is so thin that it gets caught at the connectors as you knit.  I can see how that can get frustrating after a while having to stop and gently pull the stitches out of the connector trap.  I know there are other brands out there but I really love Addi needles.   I have yet to find the perfect lace needles even though I’m quite content with what I already have and use.If anyone has any other lace knitting tips, feel free to share and pass on the knowledge!Happy Knitting!
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