I Want to be a Hermit

This time last year saw many of my nights sitting on the couch, happily knitting away at various projects, writing up designs, and taking care of those little things that easily fill up your day.  Twice a week I would venture out for circus activities, once a month I would go out dancing, and once a month I would attend a friend’s brunch.  While I had visions of being more social, I was happy with that existence – I felt in control and satisfied with my efforts.

Over the remainder of the year, I forged deeper relationships with people and traveled more, developing my dreams into more complex goals that I was determined to achieve.  I added activities and attended more parties and gatherings, and my network of friends and colleagues widened, quite suddenly.

Lately, I have been feeling exhausted and chaotic as I try to achieve everything in the designated time frame – design, socialize, work, train, make pretty things, clean house, spend time with family, take care of self.  Sometimes, I try to fit it all into one day.  Recently, I have recognized how listless it has been making me feel, and how I don’t feel like I’m doing any of it well, especially the last one – taking care of me.  I have been taking a stand a bit more – “I would love to attend the [insert event], but I’ve got something going on the night before and two days after, and I really need to have a free night or two this week to relax and reset.”  That is an acceptable response!  It’s ok to turn events down!  I still feel a bit guilty.

The thing I’m feeling the most is how little I have been able to knit recently.  There are many things in my queue and many more ideas piled in my head, but I can’t knit and drive, or knit and play certain games, and knit lace in the dark.

I’ve got Clue 3 of the Follow Your Arrow pattern done for one of the shawls (Version 2.0) and still have to work it up for Version 1.  But I feel that it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to work 12 rows of simple lace.

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Basically, if I flicker in out of the blogosphere over the next couple of weeks – know that I am trying to take that precious time to myself so that I can hit my reset button and face the world with a genuine smile, rather than the exhausted whimper that’s been quietly escaping my lips when  I think of everything I’ve committed myself to in the following week.

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Spoilers!

Clue 2 came out today for the Ysolda Teague Mystery Knit-Along.  I’ve decided this is a good time to share clue 1.

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I like how happy the shawl looks so far.  This yarn (Unplanned Peacock Studios) is a delight to work with – colorful, soft, accommodating.  It can be a little splitty if I’m not paying attention, but overall, it’s been wonderful.

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The yarn conundrum has been resolved, and later today I will be caking two skeins for the other shawl.  I’m kind of giddy to see where this is going.  This second clue has been quite interesting, and several different directions lie on the horizon.

The Yarn Conundrum

If you are a knitter, and perhaps maybe an obsessive passionate one, you have probably heard through the grapevine that Ysolda Teague has designed probably the most interesting shawl pattern/mystery knit along in existence.  She calls it Follow Your Arrow. (That link won’t show you anything, sorry.  It will just give more information in case you also want to join the frenzy).

Why is it so intriguing?

Ysolda’s MKAL consists of 5 clues, given out every Monday over 5 weeks.  Each clue contains 2 options, which flow seamlessly from which option you chose before, no matter which combination of options you are doing.  This means that one pattern can yield 32 completely different results! And actually, she gives a further option – make it solid color, or change colors, which means that really – there are 64 possible ways to knit this pattern.  Read it again. 64. SIXTY-FOUR, from one pattern.  Talk about getting your money’s worth.

My conundrum?

I cast one using the Unplanned Peacock Studio Kinky Socks in Wildflower, after much hemming and hawing over what yarn to use – do I want it two colored or just solid – how heavy, how drapey, blah blah  blah.  I started knitting, all the way through the first clue.  Then I made the mistake of checking the Ravelry forum to see what other people are doing.  Yeah….other people are casting on 2 or 3 or 5 shawls to see how the pattern unfolds.  I thought I could hold out, I really did.  I looked around at all of the projects I’ve got on the needles and I thought to myself – I don’t need to add another.

Then, I finished the Bosc scarf (YAY!) and set it to soak (and soak, and soak, and soak – the processing residue still lingers), and….well…. I have been trying really hard to stash bust, and I have  a lot of fingering weight…

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So, I started pairing up the fiber to see if anything could yield a good two-tone shawl.

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This color combination above is what got me started.  The blue is a skein that I just received from a swap, and the multicolor blue/purple/pink and sparkly skein next to it was a birthday present from a friend.  She spun it herself.  And colorway is called the “Cottingly Fairies”.

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Then I put the handspun next to this lavender yarn I received, also from a swap, and loved the soft purple tons and this makes the blue really pop (this picture is more true to the color of the handspun than the previous one) and the blue of the other picture kind of masks the blue in the handspun.

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But I like rainbows, a lot. And I saw the skein of limited edition Lorna’s Laces in the Bertha Palmer colorway and sandwiched between the bright yellow Madelinetosh and the ohana blue, I was stunned.  It’s so bright and cheery and perfect for these cold and dreary winter days.  But I don’t think I can handle THAT much yellow in a shawl.  I like yellow, it just doesn’t like being close to my face.

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Then I thought about all the mini skeins I have from Miss Babs (and some one of a kinds from Lorna’s Laces) and I thought about ways to pair them up so I can have a wildly colored shawl.  But none of them seemed to call to me.

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But I tried a series of grays – mini skeins and half used skeins, with a constant variable of the halo-ed alpaca I got in Seattle in May.

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And the gray led me to this pair.  I like the way the multi-color center skein (one of a kind mill end, Lorna’s Laces) kind of mutes the bright yellow.  I don’t think I care much for the gray in that mix.

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For a very girly combination, I put the Unplanned Peacock Studio next to the lavender.  It matches, but I’m not sure it’s really me.

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I kept coming back to the handspun.  I like it with the blue.  I also like it with the purple pictured above.  I tried to blend the skeins to see if they worked as well as I imagined.  I’m not quite sold.

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And then I did the same thing with the rainbow (Bertha Palmer, Lorna’s Laces) and the blue.  This is much more true to the bright color of the blue than the other pictures.  This combo made my eyes pop, and I think I may have found a winner.  But I’m still not positive.  I’m to the point where a lot of my fingering weight is limited edition, or handspun, or one-of-a-kind dye lots, or souvenir yarn.  And it’s really hard to justify using it for something I might not love.

What are your thoughts/suggestions?

And don’t say JUST KNIT THEM ALL! THERE ARE 32 OPTIONS TO PLAY WITH! Because that thought is going through my head about ten times a minute.

Are you doing this MKAL?  How is your project coming along?  Do you face the same dilemma?

The Great Reveal

It’s DONE!  I finished the bind-off on Saturday and squealed happily, showing everyone within sight and wrapping myself inside of it.  I wove in ends while it was wrapped around me.

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It took a while, but I’m glad I used the picot bind off.  I like the way the colors ended up melding.  I like the size and shape.  I love how squishy the yarn is, and how soft against my skin (I’ve been wearing it all day and can’t fathom taking it off).

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It is knit in Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Flashdance and Grasshopper (The purple and green respectively), and in Mad Tosh Sock in Charcoal (the gray).  It’s bright without being crazy, and matches a good portion of my wardrobe.

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I keep looking at it and cheering.  It’s done! Finally!

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Now, how do I wear it?

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On to the rest of the holiday knitting before NaKniSweMo begins.

In Which the End is Near

Last night, the youngster and I packed up our bags and went to knit night, which we haven’t done in ages because of how crazy our world has been lately.  Traveling, working, traveling, resting, cleaning, traveling, etc.  There was very little desire to leave the house in between everything.  I’m glad I went, because the solid chunk of time for knitting with other people gave me a hefty push towards completion.  I didn’t feel like I was binding off a million stitches, I felt like I was keeping my hands busy in between laughter.  Before I knew it, I was done with one whole side of the triangle (the longest side), and a couple inches past the corner.  I put it down then, because more people showed up and I was no longer able to count to six, and picked up a different project: Windschief, by Stephen West.  This is more holiday knitting.  I made it a couple of inches in, then realized it was going to be too small, so I ripped it and started over.  Now, I wonder if it’s going to be too big, but don’t want to rip it out again.  The brim seems tight enough, so it may end up more of a slouch hat.

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Anyway, when I got home, I wasn’t quite ready to sleep.  It may have been the latte I had a craving for as we were walking to the train, or it may have been the eagerness to finish the shawl, or it may have been that there has been so much going on lately that I haven’t finished processing everything internally.  In either case, I trudged along diligently on the picot bind-off, and before my eyes started dropping, was pleased to discover that I had made it past the second side (the shortest side) and several inches into the last side.  I don’t want to think about how many stitches are left, or really think about how many I’ve made so far.  The delight of seeing the project sort-of flat has given me hope.

 

The end is near!

Cast on Three, Bind off Six

Cast on, Bind off, Cast on, Bind off.  It’s getting to me.  It was very subtle at first, but it has slowly become more and more difficult to stay on task.  My eyes keep glossing over and I think about other things I could be making.  All of that holiday knitting stretching out before me, my Ravelry queue that somehow gets longer and longer every day, my stash that tumbles across the room when I get ready in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very satisfied with the way the picot bind off is looking.  The squishiness of the yarn and the pleasing combination of colors makes me eager for the end result.  I find myself occasionally petting the project or laying it out as flatly as possible and admiring the juxtaposition of the colors.  It is simply that, after three days of bind off, I haven’t even finished one side of the triangle yet. And I keep losing count.  Cast on three, bind off six, cast on three, bind off six.  Wait, did I bind off five or six on this one? Crap, tink those stitches and try again.

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In an effort to keep my sanity, I have made a list of the projects I am working on and prioritize them as best as I can (granted, this fluctuates depending on my mood).  I map out times of the day when I can be working on different projects, so the monotony doesn’t destroy me, and I can look forward to something being completed soon.

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I worked on this little number a bit last night, in between cursing the picots.  It’s really close to being done.  I have one more strap to make, ends to weave in, eyes to attach to my little owls, and a lining to make.  This holiday purse will get crossed off the list!  I liked it so much that I think I am changing one of the other gifts into another owlie tote bag, only bigger than this one.

The Million Stitch Bind Off (In Other Words: HELP!)

Well, this is it.  Clue 4 of the Mystery Knit-Along was delivered in the evening on Thursday, and I packed up my shawl and took it with us apple picking so I could complete it over the weekend mini-escape.  Fat lot of good that did.  Between driving, eating, touring antique stores, and picking apples in the rain, I didn’t have much time for knitting.  Not to mention there are a whopping 800 stitches on my needles right now, which leaves each row taking up at least 30 minutes.  But, I am finally on the bind off, so the end is in sight!

 

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I waited a while before settling on the bind off method.  Mr. West gave us 3 options (not that we are limited to those three, I should call them more “suggestions”) for the bind off.  I was unsure how I wanted it to look, so I waited to see what others did and how it affected the appearance and drape of the finished garment.  For a while, I was leaning towards the I-Cord bind off, because I liked the clean lines of the shawl laying flat.  The picot-bind off seemed out of place with the clean geometric lines of the body.  Then, I saw the picot-bind off wrapped around shoulders, heads, and bundled close to faces, and I liked the ragged post-apocalyptic feel of the piece, and the contrast made sense.

The biggest problem with the picot bind off?  I have to add double the amount of stitches.  That means, I cast on three stitches, then decrease 6, then cast on 3, and decrease 6.  I should have read the notes before choosing this bind off – there are some for whom it took 3 to 5 hours.

It’s been so scrunched up for most of the knitting experience that, at this point, I am riding on faith that the end result will be amazing.  I am in love with the color combination – and even more so since I received clue 4, but there is a lot of yarn in my stash calling my name, and I really want to wrap this up before my hands begin to wander.

So, I suppose, what I am writing to say here is that I could use some words of encouragement.  Help me get through 1600 stitches of bind off!  A limerick? A proverb? An anecdote?  What do you have to keep my needles clicking?

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