La Dolce Vita

I flew halfway around the world and found yarn.  And gelato.  More gelato than yarn to be truthful.

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I think it’s important to note that the absolutely best gelato to be found was the Chocolate Nero with strawberry in Amalfi.  Although the Coconut and Strawberry combination near St. Mary Major was also pretty fantastic.

I knitted in the plane, on buses, and in my hotel room.  I refrained from bringing my knitting out in restaurants as I normally would just because I wasn’t sure how it would be taken.  Overall I got less knitting time than I would have expected just because we were so busy.  Instead of getting 3 projects completed, I finished one and started another.

The local guide we had along the Amalfi coast was very interested in my knitting.  She told me that her mother knit.  I asked where her mom bought her yarn and she said, at yarn stores in Sorrento.  Bingo!  The chase was on!  So one night after Mass, I drug my Mom into a store that was near our hotel that we found online.  Turns out that Google was wrong and that store did not carry yarn, but the woman working understood “knitting.”  She gave us instructions (mostly in Italian) to go to the quatro up ahead (done with hand signals to explain that she meant the 4-way intersection) and turn left.  We kept on walking until Mom started to get nervous about how far we were going.  We stopped in a party supply store and asked directions to the “knitting store.”  She said we were almost there.  Sure enough, 2 stores down was an honest to goodness yarn store.

The woman smiled when I walked in because she could see how happy I was to find a real yarn store.  I might have even said, “Hooray!”  The woman was very kind and helped me find some cashmere, although she was sort of steering me towards the 100% merino.  The cashmere was 4.90 euro per 70 yd skein.   There wasn’t a huge color selection – 3 shades of gray and a navy.  I asked, but she did not have more colors.  I ended up buying 4 skeins of the navy blue and picking out a fur pom pom to go with it.  I’m now feeling a need to pom all the things.

I could be happy living in Sorrento I think.  There are lemon and orange trees lining the streets, the ocean is right there out your window, the people are (extremely) friendly, it was very easy to eat gluten free, and there are yarn stores.  On a side note, my hair liked Sorrento also.  For some reason my hair was very curly in Italy.  Weird.

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As for my finished project.  I finally completed a Clapotis.  This is a pattern that everyone and their mother was knitting in 2004.  I even started one out of laceweight that is still in my stash somewhere.  At the time (I was having babies and was a little preoccupied) the project just seemed overwhelming.  This time around it was a soothing easy knit.  The most you have to count to is 3!

Yarn:  Socks that Rock Lightweight in Festivus – 1.5 skeins used

Needles:  Size 6

Mods:  None, I actually knit this as written.

Size:  It’s ginormous.  It’s long and drapey and I need to wrap it around my neck a couple of times in order to make it not drag on the floor.

Well Begun is Half Done

Mary Poppins: Our first game is called Well Begun is Half-Done.

Michael: I don’t like the sound of that.

Mary Poppins: Otherwise titled Let’s Tidy up the Nursery.

Michael: [to Jane] I told you she was tricky.

Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have liked that game as a child either.  However I do buy into the well begun theory when it comes to work and conquoring challenges.  I did tell you we were going to win Stash Dash, right?  Don’t tell me there is no winning something that is a personal challenge against myself.  I’m determined to win.  I will win.  I will conquor the stash.  (Ask me some time about the guy who last said something could not be done.  Mwah ha ha!)

So back to the well begun theory.  The idea of Stash Dash as I understand it is to complete all those half done projects and knit some of the pretty yarn that you’ve been saving for…. well whatever it is that you’re saving it for.  You can start new projects out of stash yarn if you’d like.  But that’s where the well begun comes in.  Because if you want to win (I do) and you want to knit a crazy amount of yarn (I do) then it makes sense that you would start with a half done project, right?  I think Mary Poppins would think this makes excellent sense.

So here’s the plan as I see it.  You can follow along with pictures waaaay down on the right hand side as all most of these are in my Ravelry Project Pages.

Lettuce Pullover – 1880 yds

Haruni Shawl – 440 yds

Solaris Cardigan – 1560 yds

Hitch Pullover – 1120 yds

Wabi-sabi – 924 yds

Zephyr Cardigan – 1200 yds

Remnant Love – 850 yds

Marin – 385 yds

2nd Zick Zack – 831 yds

The grand total yardage = 9190 yds.

Now I don’t think I can stretch to make a 10K, which would be 10,936 yds, so I’m going for a 5K.  That’s 5,468 yds of knitting.  Which means I would need to do the top 4 projects plus 1 more.  Once a project is finished, then all of the yardage in it counts.  If you spin the yarn, it counts.  If you spin the yarn, then knit a project with it, it counts twice.  Unfortunately this won’t work for me as I haven’t been spinning.  But for some of you it might work.

Stash Dash begins on May 22.  On your mark…… get set…….

What I’ve Been Knitting:

I’ve made some serious headway on the Hitch pullover.  I have finished the front and back and have started one sleeve.  The cables on the sleeve are slow going because I’m working off a pattern on my iPad.  The iPad gets used for more than just knitting (go figure) so it limits my time.

In other knitting news, I finished my Zick Zack!

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That little tiny ball of yarn is all that I had left when I finished.  It was a bit of a game of yarn chicken to see if I could cast off with the remaining yarn.

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I’m pretty thrilled with the way it turned out.  Thrilled enough that I started a second one out of JoJoland Melody and Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn.  This one has slower color repeats and is more harmonious in color – It will look like a completely different scarf!

The Comic Relief

 

 

Lily just said, “You’re not funny, you’re Craaa-zy.”

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She might have a point.  I’m running down to the Twin Cities (2 1/2 hour drive) on Friday to go to an all day knitting class on Saturday.  Then, I’ll turn right around and come home Saturday night so that I can be up bright and early Sunday to work.  And I’m excited about it.

My job tonight will be picking out yarn to bring with me for the class.  I know, it’s a rough life.

 

What I’m Knitting:

The Zick Zack scarf continues to grow at a snails pace.  The balls of yarn are getting smaller and smaller so I know I’m making progress.  I keep picking them up and giving them a squish to see just how much longer this scarf will grow.

The gray sweater also is growing slowly.  We’ve had a cold snap here which has made me think that perhaps a wooly gray sweater is exactly what I want to be wearing in Duluth/Superior in April.

I also cast on an itty bitty baby sweater.  It’s Hyggy Baby from Loop.  I’m knitting it out of Malabrigo Rios in the lettuce colorway.  The Rios is superwash and just as soft and squishy as other Malabrigo yarns.  It’s making an amazingly soft sweater.  No one which flavor this baby will be, so the lettuce green is a nice gender neutral color.  I’m kind of hoping it will be a girl so that I can put some pretty pink buttons on the sweater.  But then again, wood buttons or blue would be striking too.  I sort of have a “thing” for this color green.

The parents do not live near us, so I’m looking forward to sending this one off.

 

What I’m Not Knitting:

After all my talk about beads and how pretty they are, I’ve set the Stockinette Haruni aside.  I look at it longingly every once in awhile, but there it sits.  I’m really trying to get the Zick Zack scarf finished.

 

Knots & Tangles:

I had a bit of a problem with the Hygge Baby right off the bat.  It was probably due to the fact that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the episode of Outlander that I was watching.  (Only Diana Gabaldon could make 1743 Scotland so darn appealing!)  Somehow I missed reading the K1 before every 3-in-3 stitch.  Luckily I caught the error right away and didn’t need to rip much out.  That really is the beauty of baby knits, if you make a mistake you’re not ripping out 500 stitches in a row.

 

Loose Ends:

I have heard that Stash Dash starts on May 25, however that is not confirmed.  Stash Dash is basically knitting a 5K’s worth of yarn (from stash) over the course of the summer.  I know that all those projects you have started but haven’t finished do count – in fact, their entire yardage counts.  So dig out those half finished blankets!  I don’t have much for rules yet, but will be looking into it.  Until then, who wants to play Stash Dash this summer with me?

Black Hole of Knitting

Life’s Stash:

I’ve entered the black hole of all my knitting projects.  That point where you just keep knitting but it feels like you’re not getting anywhere.

All that knitting must be getting magically unknit while you’re not looking.  Like little elves come in during the night and just rip out a few rows.

This might be because I have too many projects on the needles.  It might be a symptom of many early bedtimes.  Then again, I’m not going to totally rule out the little elves.  I just wish they’d fold a load of laundry while they were in the house!!  Or maybe weave in a few ends.

What I’m Knitting:

A hat for Addie – more on that below.

A cowl – still the same cowl I was knitting before.  See?!  I told you there were elves afoot.  I do need to figure out the pattern for the second cowl I’m making.  It needs to be fairly tightly knit as I want it to be really warm for winter activities.

The sweater – yep still moving like a turtle on this one too.  I drug this all the way to the Twin Cities for a conference last week and didn’t touch it.  I might have over packed my knitting bag.  My co-workers joked that I packed like I was staying for an entire week rather than just 2 days and 1 night.

What I’m Not Knitting:

I started the Wheat scarf by Tin Can Knits several weeks ago and just haven’t knit much on it.  It’s a great pattern.  It’s billed as a beginners pattern and I think that’s accurate.  It’s far superior in interest to the garter knit scarves that I made when I was a beginner.  It’s one of those that I could knit while watching a movie and be just fine.

Knots & Tangles:

While this isn’t really a problem yet, it could be.  I started working on Addie’s hat with the intention of using 2 new skeins of stashed yarn.  I worked with the Trekking for awhile and decided that the second yarn I picked out was too close in color value to the Trekking.  Luckily I found a partially used skein in my stash.  This I think was some Pagewood Farms with some cashmere content (I think).  It’s deliciously soft.  Every 5th grade girl needs a super soft lined hat that makes her know that her momma loves her.  So while this yarn is also close in color value to the Trekking, it is really nice.  My concern is that I might just run out of the Pagewood Farms before the hat is finished.  I think I’d better start knitting really fast before I run out!

 

Loose Ends:

I am feeling a distinct lack of color in my knitting right now.  Two gray cowls, 1 gray sweater, 1 hat that isn’t gray but definitely has extremely muted tones.  I think I need to break out of this rut and get some color in my life!  I might just have to pull out one of the red sweaters that I put on hold two winters ago because I had too many red sweaters going at once….

In other news, I found the stash knit down that I was trying to find last time.  It’s call Stash Dash and is run by the Knit Girllls on Ravelry.  The idea is to knit the length of a 5K race with your knitting.  Finishing up UFOs counts, as does spinning.  The Dash starts in May and runs through the beginning of August.  I don’t typically watch the Knit Girllls videocast, (although looking at their Ravelry Group they’ve got good content and I might have to start watching) so I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the start date.

Who’s in?  Would you want to participate in Stash Dash with me?

 

I’d Like Some Wabi-Sabi with That

Wabi-Sabi, that’s a fun one to say too!  While innocently shopping at a the Yarn Bank in Taylors Falls, MN where I didn’t really intend to buy much of anything I found this cool pattern and yarn.

It’s cotton but it feels like linen or paper while you’re knitting with it.  It’s kind of an odd feeling to knit with this, yet fun as well.  It feels very fragile (although I can say without a doubt that it is not).  I can’t wait to see how the yarn will bloom and change when I block it.  The photo on the pattern looks like a completely different yarn even though this is the yarn that is called for.  The scarf is very slowly growing into a long triangle shape.  I say slowly both due to the shape and due to the lack of knitting that has been happening.

My friend, Maryanne, convinced (ok she didn’t have to twist my arm too hard!) me to join her in the Camp Loopy 2014 this year.  It’s a virtual camp that takes place over June, July and August.  You are given a theme for each month and need to complete a project related to that theme before the 1st of the next month.  The first theme is based on our favorite book, movie or TV show and needs to be 400 yds.  I chose Harry Potter (which narrowly won out over Game of Thrones) because I found this fantastic Sprout colorway and the Trieste cardigan.  It’s my first real steeking experience.  Although on the surface it doesn’t look very magical, I can just imagine the vine twisting out from the cardigan to tie someone up.  Or the Wholloping Willow branches picking up a car to toss as far as it can.  Plus, it reminds me of my college days spent in the greenhouse above the Biology department grafting potato plants.  I think I would have gotten along very well with Professor Sprout and the students in Hufflepuff.

Bitten by Smitten

It’s funny how the next project is always the best project.  What I mean is while I’m working on the current project most of the time I’m dreaming about the next project down the line.  What’s it going to look like, what yarn I’ll use, whether I need to go buy more yarn or if I have it in the stash, do I have the needles I need…. and the list goes on.

So it should be no surprise to me that when I was working on my first Smitten Scarf I was planning the next one.

And the next.

 

I have blacks, greys and whites picked out for my next scarf.  I was just waiting for the weather to get less grey and stormy before I started something that colorless.  But that’s when I got bitten.  Apparently, working on this scarf for 2 weeks straight without any other knitting gave me a slight repetitive stress injury in my hand.  I was told that ice and ibuprofen were fine, but that it should be accompanied by no knitting.  Yikes!!  (I guess it goes to show that my normal knitting of several projects at once isn’t such a bad idea after all)

I took a two day break…. it was a hard two days!  Once I got over the shakes I was much better.  After the two days, I found a hat to knit that was done with worsted weight yarn to see if that would help.  I even crocheted a bit thinking that would help as you move the muscles differently.  It all helped a little.

I was able to power through the blue scarf.  I’m donating it to a silent auction for a friend who is paddling in Dragon Boat World competition.  It’s a bit brighter than something I would normally knit – I really struggled with the color combinations.  I finally decided that what I didn’t like about the scarf was that it didn’t go with black or grey (the color of pants that I seem to wear a lot of).  When I held the scarf up against a blue or green background it looked great.  It really pops against denim.

Last night I tossed the stash a bit and decided that I really have some lovely handspun from Sharon that I should use before the Second Coming.  I was searching for something simple and mostly brainless that would make the most of 2 skeins of 210 yds each.  Then it hit me, I have a lovely kit for a Bias Shawl from HPKY that a bought a while back.  It’s soft, it’s fluffy, it feels too light and airy to be real.  And, it’s warm.  Which normally is not something I would want at the end of June.  But since this is not a normal year, I need warmth!

Fuzzy Wuzzy

In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for the perfect project for my handspun.

 

 

Smitten

The grass outside my window is actually turning green and my husband is starting to work on outside projects.  I’m very excited as we are doing extensive yard projects this year.  It’s not quite a total yard makeover, but it will be close.  We’re moving the garden to a sunnier spot as the trees around our old garden have gotten much bigger and leafier since we planted it.  We’re putting in a retaining wall type of planter along the south side of the house, and we’re putting in a backyard patio.  I say “we” but really all I’ve done is consult on the correct color of block and pavers.  I’ll do the majority of the planting or replanting.  And of course the purchasing of new plants.  The nights have still been really cold, so I’m hesitant to buy or plant much right now.

As for my knitting, welllll… I am knitting.  I’m in the 2nd section of the Cameo shawl.  I’m anxious for the final section,which is lace.  I spent the Memorial Day weekend driving down to Chicago and back (a trip that I would normally be a passenger on most if not all of the trip) so I didn’t get to knit as much as I would like.  I did get to work a little on a crocheted blanket for my nephew while I was there.  The up side to driving all that way was that I was able to catch up on my knitting podcasts while in the car.  The girls got a little tired of listening to knitting though so we mixed it up with They Might Be Giants on the way home.

This weekend I realized too late that I had left my knitting at the office hiding under my desk.  I pulled out a kit for a Mini Mania scarf.  Oh. My.  I am smitten!!  I don’t know what it is about this scarf, whether it’s the colors or changing yarn every row, but I totally and completely love it.  I’m planning my next three scarves in my head right now.  There is no reasoning with myself that this is seed linen stitch and it should be boring the pants off of me.  Somehow it is not boring.

Pretty Pretty

Somehow I want to rip through my stash and find all the contrasting colors that I can find and make 20 of these for all my closest friends.  See?  I’m Smitten.

The trick to this scarf is that there. Is. No. Purl. Row.  I know!  It seems wrong.  You start every row on the right side with a 8″ tail and then cut your yarn at the end of the row, leaving a long tail.  I’m tying the yarn as I go so that I’ll have fringe.  Who wouldn’t want fringe on their scarf?  Especially when the payout is this good.

Yep, I’m totally over the top Smitten.