It’s time for us to put the old year behind us and look forward to all the possibilities 2014 might bring. I’m excited about this year. I’ve got a good feeling about it.  The 18 inches of snow and ridiculously low temperatures have given me a bit of time to think about what I want to accomplish this year.

There are a couple of big projects this year that I’m pretty excited about.  My husband and I are going to finish the third bedroom and I can’t wait to start on it.  The walls were originally covered in pretty terrible wallpaper.  It was textured to look like stucco but felt like foam.  We pulled the it down to discover wood paneling behind it.  Instead of pulling it down, we decided on painting it.  I’ve seen some really cute rooms with painted paneling.  I want to paint most of it a neutral and some of the slats in an accent color but I haven’t decided on a scheme yet.

We are going to put in a decent sized vegetable garden.  I want to work up to growing almost all of the produce we need.  We live in a pretty developed area so I don’t have the space to grow everything but I’m going to shoot for 75%.  I live in Michigan so I have a few months to wait on this one.

I also have a couple of knitting related goals, like knit from my stash and don’t buy yarn unless I have a project in mind but I know those will last about two months.  I’m going to continue trying to write a design a month.  The holidays interrupted that.  I only have the ruffled hat finished but there are a bunch of ideas buzzing around my head.  I’m also going to make a point knit with my handspun.  I cast on my first project last night.  I’m knitting the Sword of Gryffindor Mitts from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine.  The yarn I’m using is chain plied BFL from Mountain Colors.  I spun the single on a drop spindle and plied on my wheel.

Sword of Gryffindor Mitts in mostly sport weight handspun

Sword of Gryffindor Mitts in mostly sport weight handspun

The end of 2013 was great but insanely busy.  Hopefully, the holidays next year will be more relaxed.  Somehow, I doubt it will be, but a girl can dream.

P.S.  This is the super awesome top my husband got me for Christmas.  FiberArtemis on Etsy does some really beautiful colors.

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The colors in this make me think of Starry Night or the orchids my mom used to grow.

Ruffled hat of awesomeness

Ruffled hat of awesomeness

 

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Hanu modeling.

I got a couple things off the the needles and off my bobbins.  I finally finished the ruffled hat of doom or awesomeness, depending on how I’m feeling about it.  It seems to fit anywhere from a three year old to a seven year old.  I’m not sure how that happened.  The gauge is not quite what I thought it was.  I’m sure I can work out the stitches per inch but the ruffles are making it very difficult to find the rows per inch.  When I try to do it off the inside of the hat all those purl bumps make my brain turn to mush.  I think I’m going to take it to the lys and ask for help.  I have to go to get some Kidsilk Haze for a second go at the hat anyway.  I’m going to write out the pattern and try to knit a different size.  I’m really glad the yarn I used was good and sturdy.  I think I pulled the hat out at least four times.  I also plyed and set some handspun.  The black Merino, a white Polwarth blend and a re-ply of a commercial yarn are all finished and skeined.

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Fingering weight, chain plyed merino

On the needles, I have the Argentiere pullover and the Narcissa Socks from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits.  I really love that magazine.  There are two more patterns I want to start right away and several farther down the knitting queue.  I don’t know what it is but I’ve been really fighting the urge to cast on a ton of projects.  I have startitis.  Usually, I’m really good about keeping WIPs to a minimum.  I’ll have a big project, a small project and one spinning project going at a time.  I feel like that is pretty reasonable.  I finish everything in a timely manner and don’t create to much mess with yarn all over the house.  But right now I want to cast on every cute pattern I see.  On top of that, I have a couple new pattern ideas rattling around in my head, begging to be started.  I must resist the urge to cast on at least until I have the front and back of the pullover done.

I’m pretty sure all the awesome fiber festivals have contributed to my case of startitis.  I went to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo.  It was a good time as usual.  I got some fiber and yarn from one of my favorite booths, Fiberstory.  I picked up a skein of Fave in a new colorway called Mythic.  The dark color with a variety of subtle undertones is perfect for the Narcissa socks.  I also picked of some sock yarn from North Cabin Fiber crafts and a kit for a Kusha Kusha scarf.  So much yarn, so many beautiful patterns and no where near enough time.

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My haul from the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo

P.S.  Here is the back of my Ginny Cardigan.

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Our last really warm day of the year.

Our last really warm day of the year.

Well, do to the weather turning cold I haven’t been able to knit much the last two weeks.  The sudden temperature change has made my hands stiff and sore along with giving my a pounding sinus head ache.  But, I seem to have adjusted and my hands are back to normal.  The sinus thing is another story.  Even though there hasn’t been much knitting, we have been doing lots of fun fall stuff with Hanu.

Hanu, enjoying the sun at Yates Cidermill

Hanu, enjoying the sun at Yates Cidermill

The weekend before last we went to Yates Cidermill and met up with some friends from the Royal Oak Freemasons.  We had a really great time.  We took a walk down by the river, petted some goats and walked out with a gallon of cider, a dozen doughnuts and a couple pounds of fudge.  I have to say that Yates has the best cider in the area.  I’m really glad we went out as it was probably the last truly nice weekend we will have.  We also picked up Hanu’s Halloween costume.  He’s been telling us he wanted to be a ninja turtle for about a month now but  I was a bit worried  that once he saw  all the costumes he would have a hard time picking one.  This is the first year he has picked his own costume.  I ended up a little behind James and Hanu and by time I found them in the store he already had it.  We got the last ninja turtle costume they had.  He absolutely loves it, even though it’s a little small and he can’t lift his arms all the way.  He is so excited for Halloween I think he might pop.

The cutest ninja turtle ever.

The cutest ninja turtle ever.

Last weekend we went to a park near my mom’s house and ran around for a couple hours.  It’s a really nice park.  It has a big play structure, nature trails and Frisbee golf course.  It was a great opportunity to show Hanu the different shapes and colors of the falling leaves.  We also picked up about ten pounds of Hickory nuts for our chipmunks.  The only sour spot in our day was a little boy who wasn’t playing very well.   He was about the same age as Hanu and wouldn’t let Hanu play on certain areas of the play structure.  So, I took Hanu to a different area but this kid started to follow us around and was not very nice.  I eventually had to bust out the “mom voice” tell this little boy that he had to share the play area.  His mom wasn’t watching him at all.  She wasn’t even bothering to keep him generally in sight.  I’m never sure what to do in that sort of situation.  I don’t know if I should hunt down the kid’s mom and take it up with her or just try to moderate the situation myself.  I don’t like having to be stern with someone else’s kid but I’m not going to let Hanu be bullied or injured.  I’m really glad the vast majority of parents and kids we meet are very attentive and kind.

Woolly Bear caterpillar we found at Grandma's while cracking open hickory nuts.

Woolly Bear caterpillar we found at Grandma’s while cracking open hickory nuts.

Last weekend we also took Hanu to the Zoo Boo.  We went last year and had a really great time.  It was not as good this time.  The trick or treat stations really cheaped out on the candy and it was super crowded.  I believe we ended up with less than ten pieces of candy. Hanu had a really great time and it was good practice for real trick or treating next week.  But, I think we will go to Greenfield Village for their Halloween event next year.

I have a confession to make.  I hate knitting hats; really, truly hate it.  This is really silly.  There is no way I should hate them.  Hats are fast, only use a little yarn and can be as simple or intricate as you want.  On top of that, hats make great gifts.  So, why do I hate hat knitting?  I hate it because, only once in ten years of knitting have I gotten a hat that fits.

All of my hats come out to big.  Maybe if I had a giant bobble head my hats would fit.  I could walk around with my head cheerily bobbling around and a slouchy hipster hat perched just right on it.  It would be great.  Just me, my giant bobble head and a whole array of perfectly fitting hats.  But alas, it is not to be so.  Instead I have a mostly normal sized head and lots of mega sized hats.

Now, I know that all of my hats are ridiculous monstrosities because my gauge is off.  At first this was because I was a newbie and liked to live dangerously.  I spent several years knitting by the seat of my pants.  My name was Coyote.  I was wild and free and I didn’t need a stinking gauge swatch.   Then I started knitting things that used more yarn and cost more, like sweaters.  So, I started to swatch but my hats still didn’t fit. The solution this time was that I needed to knit my swatches in the round.  Turns out that my gauge is looser when I knit in the round.  Now I knit my swatches in the round when I need to and I wash them just to make sure they aren’t going to grow, shrink, twist or self implode.   And all of my projects come out very nicely except stupid hats.

Apparently, when I sit down to knit the hat I have very carefully swatched for, whatever part of my brain controls how I tension my yarn completely shuts off.  I sit, my hands knit, my brain goes, “deedle deedle dee”  and my hat is once again the size of a watermelon.  What happens next is I look at my hat and think, “Hmm this hat looks kind of big.  Maybe it will get better if I knit a little more.”  So I knit to the crown decreases and say to myself, “Wow, this hat looks way to big but I did the gauge swatch and everything was fine.  I’m sure the crown decreases will fix everything.”  This is a great example of denial. Then I finish the hat, slap it on my head and am shocked to discover the hat could fit two heads and comes down to my shoulders.  I proceed to call the hat a number of colorful names and vow to never knit a hat again.

Well, I am doing one better than just knitting a hat at the moment.  I’m working on my own design for a child’s hat.  I know, what am I thinking but in my head it is so cute.  This morning I was working on the prototype for the hat and I was about three inches in when I started to notice the hat looked a little big, like it’s supposed to fit a two year old but looked like it was going to fit me.  This time I did the smart thing and re-measured the gauge on the hat.  Sure enough, they were different.  The swatch was 4 1/2 stitches per inch and the hat was 3 1/2.  Which means my 18 inch hat was closer to 23 inches.  I pulled the whole thing out and I’m going to spend tonight reworking the pattern with the correct gauge.  The moral of the story is; if your project looks to big or to small it is never a bad idea to double check your gauge even if your swatch was perfect.  Also, the crown decreases of a hat do not magically shrink the whole thing.   I think I’m going to go hunt down some handles and turn my monster sized hats into bowling ball bags.

This may look like an adorable toddler but it's really the face of runny nosed suffering.

This may look like an adorable toddler but it’s really the face of runny nosed suffering.

We had a whopper of a week. The whole family caught a head cold. Hanu and I came down with it first and then James(hubby) caught it and still has it.  I was only out of sorts for a couple of days and handled it with the strategic use of various cold medications.  I have to say that Benadryl is the best thing ever.  Hanu was only a little sicker than me.  He very rarely gets sick and this was the first time since he started talking and walking around.  Every time he remembered his nose was stuffed he would scream and smack himself in the face.  I am so glad the stuffy nose only lasted a couple of days.  So, while Hanu and I were only sick a couple of days, James seems to have caught the super strain.  I picked up some Lysol spray today just in case he has something different.  I’m going to start disinfecting tomorrow.

On top of the head cold I also managed to give myself food poisoning.  I made bean soup and I’m pretty sure one of the cans of beans was bad.  The soup tasted a little funny but I thought the seasoning was a bit off.   I will never buy off brand canned beans again…never.  In fact I may never eat bean soup again.  Yuck.

This week wasn’t all bad.  I did finish the back of the cabled pullover I’m working on and I finished spinning up 4 ounces of black merino.  It is absolutely beautiful fiber, pitch black and no snarls.  I really hope I can find it again at the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo.  It was like spinning a cloud.  Now I just have to ply it.  I think I’m going to chain ply it.  Hopefully it will end up around a fingering weight and I’ll have at least 400 yards.  I also spun up part of a white angora/ wool blend.  I’m planning on using the two yarns in a couple of color work mitt patterns for Christmas gifts.  It will all depend on how the black comes out.  The white was full of snarls and ended up a bit lumpy so if the black looks really great I don’t want to use them together.  We will see. Hopefully, I’ll get the plying done this weekend.

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Alright, I finished the Ginny Cardigan.  Added all the buttons, sewed in all the ends, washed it and blocked it. Finished!  I hand wash all my hand knit sweaters in a large bowl in my slop sink.  That first wash is always scary.  I’m never quite sure how it’s going to go.  You can take steps to try to work out any surprises, like washing the gauge swatch but it’s not fool proof.  For instance, I knit Brooklyn Tweed’s Fuse Cardigan in a super wash yarn and after it’s first wash the sleeves grew about six inches.  I tested the swatch before hand and everything was fine.  So now I have to decide if I can live with long sleeves or if I want to pick the last 6 inches out and re-knit the cuffs.  The growth in the rest of the sweater makes it drape really well.

2013-09-30 19.15.50  2013-10-01 12.19.21  2013-09-30 19.15.56Luckily, the Ginny sweater didn’t grow a huge amount but it was still a scary wash.  The second it hit the soapy water the dye ran like crazy.  There is a sweater in that first picture.  The dye ran so much the water looked black.  It took four rinses to get the water to come clear.  I’m really glad I didn’t wash it in a batch with anything else. Then I stretched it out and waited for it to dry.  Wow, it took forever to dry.  It’s not even a very big sweater but that yarn just sucked up the water and wouldn’t let it go.  But now it’s finished and it won’t turn me or my clothes blue.

So, now it’s time for a new project.  I can’t seem to make myself work on the ruffled hat.  Instead I started the Argentiere Pullover from Knitty’s winter 2012 issue.  I’ve been wanting to knit this since the pattern came out.  It is one of those patterns that just call my name.  The pattern  uses an absurd amount of really expensive yarn, 3400 yards of sport weight cashmere held double.  It’s like a $500 sweater.  So I did the math for a yarn substitution  and waited for a good yarn sale.  I’m knitting  it in a heavy worsted wool/acrylic yarn.  The yarn is great.  It is a white with black tweed.  I’m really excited, I’ve got about 8 inches done and the sweater is going to be beautiful and washable.

What a busy weekend this has been.  Friday, I went to the farmers market for next weeks produce, spent two hours at the library with Hanu and managed to finish the Ginny Cardigan.  I still need to wash and block it but all the ends are sewn in and all the buttons are on.  I would skip the blocking and just wear it but the wool smells kind of like vinegar.

Saturday, we went down to the Detroit Zoo for their big pet adoption event.  We didn’t find a dog because most of them weren’t good with toddlers but we did have fun looking at all of them.  Hanu was very excited to see puppies.  I was really glad no one told him he could have one.  After that we went to the hubbies company picnic at Greenfield Village.  We had a really great time.  The weather was great and it wasn’t very crowded.  Hanu loved going into all the old buildings and seeing the machinery.  If you have kids that like trains the roundhouse was really great.  It was a really nice day.

Today I managed to mop my floors, vacuum my carpets, clean my shower and wash the winter coats.  It was a very productive weekend.

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