I’ve been having a wonderful birthday month. (A little joke but I mean why not?) I went for tacos, a hike, and to a folk music festival with my kids. Bob and I drove to Oklahoma to visit my Mom and sister. I got to stop over at Bonny’s on the way there. I went to a yarn shop in Oklahoma City with a yarn-bombed bicycle in the window and — yes — bought yarn with birthday money. I even finished knitting a project!
I am keeping up with my Celtic Mists mystery knitalong. The designer makes the clues short and sweet! While I love alpaca’s softness and drape, I normally prefer wool for elasticity. But the way this yarn is spun keeps it springy. I love working with it!
This week I planted my veggies and herbs in the garden. It’s a little early, but don’t worry. I have back ups. If those in the garden do well, I may put the extras on a table at the end of the driveway with a “free plants” sign.
The greens are doing well in the greenhouse. Bob has used mustard from the garden in a batch of kimchi. The mustard is already flowering, so I need to pull it up before it goes to seed and takes over the world.
Something has been chomping my pea stalks, which is discouraging. Last night we tried rags soaked in ammonia hanging in the garden as a deterrent. It may have worked, since there was no damage this morning. Only time will tell. I haven’t seen a single frog. I haven’t seen many slugs, either.
We’re hoping an abundance of apples this year will keep the critters away from the garden. Bob saw a fox kit on the porch this morning. I am encouraging foxes, and hawks, too. Please, come eat our menagerie of wildlife and stay away from the neighbors’ chickens. Just don’t do it when I’m watching. (Hey, predators gotta eat.) Either that, or I’ll end up like my Grandma standing in the garden in the middle of the night in my nightgown with a pistol, shooting at raccoons. (Just kidding. We don’t have a gun.)
Other than sewing three new Tekura Tees, I’ve been knitting Freya’s purple Lodge Sweater. I’m nearing the end of the first sleeve. I also started the Celtic Mists MKAL, but not much to show yet. Why yes, I did join another mystery knitalong. I think this one is more in my wheelhouse.
Oh! And I’m entering three items into the Ohio State Fair: Arrowhead, Ocean Moon, and A Lonely Heart is a Hunter. I’ve never entered anything in the Creative Arts division before, only Fine Arts, where I won some awards and sold all my pieces in 2009. That was an exciting year.
I’m nearing the shoulder seams on Freya’s purple Lodge sweater. This is pretty much the only thing I’ve been knitting on. I need to start Bob’s Knitter’s Dude soon, so I can work on it over the summer. It’s cotton and acrylic yarn, so should be nice to work on in warmer weather, and it will hopefully be done in time for his birthday in September.
I’ve cut out a second pair of Casual Cotton pants in navy stretch cotton twill. I omitted the seam allowances. I’m hoping to get some sewing time on them today. Will they fit? Who knows? I’m wearing my gray ones today even though they are too big. They are super comfy. I was hoping to be able to sew some shorts with the remnants, but I don’t have enough fabric for that.
My seedlings are looking good, though a few have given up the ghost. I’ve enjoyed mustard, kale, and daikon radish greens as I thin them out. The peas are up!
The Chinese Celery Cabbage (like Napa Cabbage) does not like the hot sun. I suspect the growing season will be short for them. I may try to plant them in the shade of the cucumbers to extend their time in the garden, but I’ve already planted lettuce there, so we’ll see.
I saw cabbage moths today, but I’m way ahead of them. I covered the greens with netting last week. Foiled!
I’ve been spending a lot of time clearing the woods in front of our house of invasive honeysuckle and black walnut saplings. The apple trees are blooming!
This month I read The Orkney Scroll by Lyn Hamilton. I decided I needed to read a cozy located in Orkney. This book fit the bill. It was fine. I was glad when it was over. There were some redundancies. It was as if her editor told her she should write a chapter at the end explaining everything that had happened.
Here is the song I’m currently listening to on repeat:
I’ve made progress this week on Powdermill. I’m enjoying this knit. Nothing like straightforward, repetitive colorwork to keep you going. (I’m giving Arrowhead side-eye.) Also, this yarn is scrumptious. I’m glad I have a stash full of it!
I’m also up to 12 inches on the body of the purple Lodge Sweater. It’s my mindless knitting. However, spring is coming, and I’m starting to shift my focus to sewing.
This week I finished sewing my Ottobre casual cotton pants. I can’t wait to wear them. It’s still too cold for this cotton twill, which is a medium weight. I’m planning to sew another pair in navy stretch twill, and then Simplicity s9376 in black brushed cotton twill.
The new Ottobre has a lovely summer top pattern, and it only takes 1.5 yards for my size. I have some cotton prints in mind for this from stash. The polka dot was a gift from BonnyKnits, and the batiks are fair trade from Global Mamas in Ghana.
I continue to alter my sewing plan (see what I did there?) as I assess my wardrobe needs.
I finished spinning my Pumpkins for Sale BFL fiber. This was my first time chain plying, and I enjoyed it. My spinning is getting more even, but I still have a long way to go.
It looks good with the yarn I spun from the same fiber, and dyed orange. (I was exhausting a dye bath.) These plus one more color will knit up a nice Shift cowl in the fall. I have more BFL fiber in stash to spin. What color should I dye it to go with these? Maybe russet, or olive green? I’d like the cowl to be made completely from hand spun. Let me know your opinions on the color in the comments.
DIY Hair Care
I thought I was on the right track with my homemade hair care products. But after a few weeks, my hair started feeling like straw. I’m back to purchasing products. Maybe if I get a good crop of soapwort this year, I can try again with that.
It’s still too cold to start seeds or plant peas. I hope it warms up soon!
I’ve got a good start on my Casual Cotton Pants. Right now I’m waiting on a matching zipper to arrive to sew the fly. I had a gray zipper that was too light, and a black zipper that was too dark. I could have tried to make do, but zippers are under $2 and I know I will use those other zippers some day. Normally I serge the seams, but in the interest of being able to alter these should I lose any more weight, I decided to serge the edges of the waistband pieces and stitch them together. They will be easier to unpick that way.
Clue 3 dropped on Who Ya Gonna Shawl? but I’m still knitting Clue 1. I love these colors together. I’m not sure I’m knitting the stitches correctly, and they don’t look like the spoiler pic. It may be because I chose a dark contrast color instead of a light one. Ultimately, I don’t think it really matters. Ghosts or Galaga? Who cares, right? I’ll keep working on this as the mood strikes. I honestly don’t know how people keep up with mystery knitalongs like this. There are some fast knitters out there!
I’m a little down on knitting right now. After finishing Arrowhead (which I ironically call “my opus” to myself) I guess I need a little break. I’ve been thinking about picking up a long languishing project, or even casting on something new from stash. Or, I might spin for a while.
Have a great week, YOPpers! Sorry not sorry about the title. Bob and I watched Weird: the Al Yankovic Story last week and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Sizing: it is slightly too large. The sleeves are too long. But since it is a jacket, and I’m short, I did modify it to fit me better. I thought about ripping out the cuffs and a couple of inches of knitting on the sleeves, and then reknitting the cuffs. But I have noticed my sweaters start to felt when I spin them in the washer to get the excess water out. If this starts to felt, I’d like a little leeway in the sizing. My Ranunculus arms are bracelet length now, which I’m not crazy about. I’m always pulling on them. So I think I’ll leave this as is. It’s cozy.
I’m pleased with this facing technique. Instead of covering the steek edges with ribbon, you pick up stitches and knit stockinette a few rows to cover it, then sew it down. I will be using this technique in the future, for sure. Overall, I’m surprised I didn’t make any mistakes. I did have a few errors, but was able to fix them. I may enter it in the State Fair.
And can I take a moment to sing the praises of Icelandic wool? It’s lightweight, warm, and surprisingly soft. No, you wouldn’t want to wear it next to the skin. But over a shirt, it’s great!
I applied for a second part-time job last week, and even though I don’t know if I will get it or not, I’ve realized I need some business casual wear. I think I should get on those Audrey Pants in brushed black cotton. If they turn out well, I can sew another pair in gray cotton twill.
I finished Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels. I liked it. I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I’m on track to finish 12 books this year, which is a hilarious goal. I do have other books partially read as well, if I can bother to finish them.
This week I sewed an outfit from lightweight merino wool jersey. I got this fabric for a great price on Etsy. I think the seller was clearing out the 100% merino, or maybe because it’s lightweight. Anyway, I knew I wanted some black wool wide-legged pants for spring. I only needed two yards for that, and I still eked out a Tekura Tee to match. The pants are from the Ottobre PJ pants pattern. I think one leg may be just a skosh longer than the other, but I’m not sure I care enough to do anything about it.
A few new sewing patterns have caught my eye, and I’ve updated my project list with them. I’m also losing weight (not intentionally, just happening from medication and diet changes) so I’m pushing back any tailored pant sewing until my weight levels out. But I’m already excited about sewing new linen garments from my stash.
I’ve finished knitting the sleeves on Arrowhead. I’m ready to knit the armhole facings, and then I can pick up and knit the collar. After that, just the collar facing to go! I can’t believe I’m nearing the finish line on this project.
Other than that, I’ve started The Who Ya Gonna Shawl knitalong, and am nearing the end of the hem ribbing on Freya’s Lodge Sweater.
DIY Hair Products
My homemade shampoo is working great. It’s a simple recipe of water, Castile soap, and argan oil. The conditioner is also working, but I think I may be able to skip this step and simply use a little argan oil on my hair after towel drying, at least while it’s this short. I may also experiment with an herbal hair rinse, possibly with marshmallow root since it’s emollient. (Cue to me looking in the garden for someplace to grow marshmallow. I’ve always loved the look of the plant. Now I have a reason.)
I played around with my new Addi Express knitting machine. There’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that it knits worsted weight yarn too loosely to make a usable fabric, unless you want air and drape. The good news is I think I can make slippers and mittens in aran and bulky weight yarns. I could use scraps and quickly knit these for myself and my family. I really need to work on my afterthought heel, though, as it’s too shallow.
The other bad news is that the machine is persnickety about which yarns it will knit successfully. I will have to experiment, but I think it prefers a smoother yarn. I don’t knit with acrylic, so it will be interesting to see if I can make it work with my wooly scraps. I’ll keep you posted!
I’ve progressed a few inches on my Arrowhead sleeves. I try to knit four rounds on each sleeve every day, which is a decrease repeat, but missed the last two days. I’m going to try to make it up today.
Freya liked my Lodge sweater so much, she asked me to knit her one with a few modifications. I told her it would have to be her birthday present. She wanted purple yarn, so we picked out this Cascade 220 superwash together in Purple Heather.
I wanted to join in on the Who Ya Gonna Shawl? knitalong, but needed the yarn to come from my stash. I decided on 80’s neon with this skein of black and red variegated, which I overdyed to be solid black, for the contrast.
To exhaust the dye bath, I grabbed a variegated skein from my stash which I’ve never liked. I think the resulting yarn is lovely: a deep charcoal with hints of the blue, yellow, and pink showing through. I see a beanie in my future.
I did sew my PJ pants in the floral flannel I shared last time. They came out great. I only had flimsy elastic, but in the spirit of using it up, I serged the elastic directly to the fabric edge to prevent it from rolling. I also sewed this gift bag for Bob’s Valentine’s Day present.
DIY Hair Care
I like natural skin and hair care products, but they are so expensive. I decided to start making my own. Today I made a natural conditioner from avocado and argan oils, emulsifying wax, and water. It seems good, but the real test will be how it performs on my hair tomorrow. I also made some beard oil for my middle child (another March birthday gift) based on his favorite kind, which he says is too expensive. This is a mixture of avocado, jojoba, and argan oils, which was easy. I scented both with bergamot and amyris essential oils. Next up is shampoo with Bob’s homemade castile soap, argan oil, and water. I found this website with some great recipes. Once I get the basics down, I’ll start experimenting with other ingredients, like aloe gel from my aloe vera plants and soapwort from my garden.
We had a couple of nice days this week, so I spent some time in the garden. I made a dent in the weeds and managed to get daikon radish, lettuce, kale, broccolini, and mustard planted under the greenhouse. Today, Bob and I moved the Elderberry bush out of the garden and into the yard. It was getting too big where it was, but not getting enough sun to flower. Hopefully it will do better in the yard. We picked a place where the drainage will keep the ground moist like it likes.
Yesterday, Bob and I had our Valentine’s date. We went to our favorite theater to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons: Cupid Edition. It included old cartoons from our childhood plus old commercials. Some were before our time. Included were Underdog, Pink Panther, Popeye, Schoolhouse Rock, and an oldie from the 1930’s. This one made me cry nostalgia tears. It was fun seeing them on the big screen. Then we went out for Thai food. I just received my gift, which is an Addi Express knitting machine! I’ll play around with it and report back later.
I’m ready to start the New Year right with an impossible list of items I will never accomplish. At the same time, having a list ensures I will be somewhat productive. I do love the feeling of checking items off a list. Perhaps I will start adding gold stars next to completed projects. Plus, it gives me an excuse to blog weekly when I can’t think of anything else to say.
I’m grateful the Year of Projects group is loosely organized, and I was able to take a break last year. My approach this year is to divide and conquer. I’ve divided my full list of knitting projects into separate lists for 2023 and 2024. 2023 (below) includes works in progress (WIPs), and new cast ons I hope to complete this year. Add to this list socks, since my plan is to knit a pair of socks every month this year. That’s not realistic, but that’s never stopped me from trying. Some of these WIPs probably won’t make it this year. There’s a reason I’ve set them aside, but I’m not ready to rip them out yet.
I’ve noticed my approach to sewing is to make a pattern to see if I like it. If I do, I make multiples so I don’t have to learn something new every time I sew. It’s more enjoyable for me if I can skip the instructions. So my plan for 2023 is to mostly make multiples. Also, I’d like to sew a trench coat, but I don’t have the fabric for it right now. Maybe next year!
I’ll finish spinning my Pumpkins for Sale BFL and maybe participate in Tour de Fleece. I think I would also like to dye my natural rovings and spin skeins for gift giving this year.
Happy New Year! We’ve had a lovely weekend, with a gathering at a friend’s in Canton, then an overnight stay with kids in Cuyahoga Falls. New Year’s Eve was spent eating pizza and watching Bloody New Year and Terror Train. Neither of us had ever seen these, but they were an enjoyable diversion. I impressed even myself with my facial recognition gift by pointing out John from Shaun of the Dead in Bloody New Year. (I have a gift for pattern recognition. I am currently using this gift in my role as part-time Remote Bookkeeping Elf — title my own. I log in to computers remotely early in the morning and work on other people’s bookkeeping while they are still asleep. They wake up and their bookkeeping is all done for them! I would love to have an afternoon job that is more creative, and I’m thinking about knitting pattern tech editing.) Today we’re going for a New Year’s hike. Bob will make black eyed peas and collards for dinner.
I usually choose a word for the year, although I don’t think I chose a word for 2022. I spent most of the year focusing on my mental and physical health, and made some progress. I was able to stop taking medications. I was able to get off social media except Facebook. I think about closing my Facebook account, but there are connections with family and friends there I would miss. In fact, a friend recently shared this article that plays into my word for 2023. My word is Voice. The goal is to recognize and reaffirm my own voice, and share it if I want to. No pressure, though, if I don’t feel like it. My resolutions for the year are to knit from stash and have more fun. We’re also having a “no buy” year, as we have a new furnace and electrical system to pay off. This means we can buy food and necessities, but not anything else. Bob pretty much lives like this, so I think we all know who is going to be struggling the most. This was my idea, by the way.