Wednesday, January 25, 2017

No MomMe Time

So I was hitting a pretty good knitting productivity rate. I have my “TV knitting” project, which I work on when my boys are awake, and I have my “requires concentration” project that I work on once all of the chores are done, and the boys are in bed. Then life happened. My husband started getting really bad pain in his back, and unfortunately the small amount of free time I normally have got sucked up picking up the slack. This happens to everyone, I know.


I can’t help but look longingly at my projects, wishing I had the time to work on them. It is Wednesday, and I haven’t picked up my TV project since Saturday. My TV project is a gift AND prototype for a new design, so I really want to get it done! My “requires concentration” project is a prototype for a design that I’m hoping to have published and for sale by March.


Being part of a family and a marriage means things don’t always go my way I suppose. I do really need to set aside some priority time for myself though. Knitting soothes my mind, and I can’t exude peace and calm when I don’t have any. Moms (and Dads!), we need to take better care of ourselves, so we can take care of all of our little people! I wrote this post as a way to vent, but even as I wrote it, I knew that so many would relate, and it made me feel instantly better. So thank you for reading!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bamboo Stitch Loom Knit Scarf

I wanted to make a scarf for my husband this year. A nice thick and warm scarf, but also one that was a touch decorative. I started out doing cables, but I was not happy with the holes next to them. Advice I have received since then tells me that next time I should stick with the project, and judge it after I take it off the loom and block it.

I found a stitch called bamboo stitch that Denise Canela had converted from needles to the loom. It looked perfect for what I wanted, so I began working on a scarf design. I would say this is good TV knitting if you are watching something that isn't too intense. I did have to go back a couple times because I missed where I needed to do row three of the stitch pattern. To add to the ease of knitting this, I recommend using stitch markers placed on your pegs as a visual reminder of the repeats within a row.

I used Loops and Threads Cozy Wool in black (got it from my local Michael's on sale!), and a 3/4" gauge loom. I used about 2.5 balls of yarn, so I would recommend purchasing at least three balls or 250 yards so you have a little extra yarn. After casting on, I knitted until the scarf was about 70" in length. For most adult scarves, I would recommend 65-70" to allow for a good wrap, and some material tucked into the jacket to increase warmth. Plus a longer scarf can show off colors or stitch patterns better.

I used the U turn knit stitch except where indicated.

S1=slip one (meaning skip this peg
HS= half stitch (meaning wrap the peg from the back around the front. All of the first and last stitches of a row will be slipped and half stitched in turns. This gives a lovely braided look to the scarf's edges)
ssk= slip, slip, knit (over 3 pegs, lift the yarn off of peg one, slip the yarn in front, same with peg 2, and then flat knit peg three. Using the flat knit for the pegs where the yarn is slipped over the two preceding pegs causes these loops to be a little more snug in the finished product.)
Each row is 3+2

Cast on 22 pegs using the chain cast on

the pattern is worked over 4 rows:
R1: S1, k2, p1* until last stitch, HS
R2: S1, p1, k2* until last stitch, HS
R3: S1, ssk with the yarn in front, flat knit 1* until last stitch, HS
R4: S1, p1, k2* until last stitch, HS

Repeat the rows until the scarf is 65-70" in length

Cast off using the single or double crochet cast off. I used the double.

This scarf would make a great gift for anyone, but the pattern makes it an easy gift for a boy or a man, since it isn't a stitch pattern that would be considered "girly".

My husband and youngest in the new scarf!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Simple Herbal Remedy for Coffee Aftertaste: Mint in Your Coffee!

Plenty of people in the world love coffee. I never drank it until I had children. Yep, that’s right, my children drive me to drink, no surprise there! Coffee that is. The one thing I positively detest is that coffee aftertaste that lingers on the back of your tongue following a cup (or three as the case may be). I began thinking that there had to be an easy way to eliminate this, so I didn’t have to relive the worst aspects of coffee. I was drinking my first cup of coffee while looking out at my deck herb garden. All was rarely quite; none of my children were awake, so I was savoring the moment…. And then I got an idea.


I went out to my chocolate mint plant, and clipped off a single sprig. It was about two sets of leaves in total. I put it in my empty cup, and filled it with coffee. Cream and sugar added and I had my experiment ready! I gave the mint leaves a minute or two to release their oils, and I took a sip. The flavor released by the leaves was just the barest hint of mint, meaning it was not overpowering. More importantly, when I was done with the cup, I did not have that taste on the back of my tongue!

My trooper chocolate mint plants!


I discovered this trick in the summer, and I have been using it with almost every cup of coffee. I brought my herbs indoors in pots. They grow a bit slower, but I also pilfer sprigs from my spearmint plant as well. Buy yourself a couple of mint plants, or find a neighbor like me, and be prepared to enjoy your coffee without that lingering taste!

Friday, January 6, 2017

To Frog or Not to Frog?

I am working on a design for a shawl I am going to call “Springtime”. It is a combination of two stitches, to evoke two images we often associate with springtime: little leaves and raindrops. I was going to do it all in a lovely mint color I got from my first order, but as I reached the end of the first skein, I realized I wasn’t going to have enough yarn. Plus it took me one iteration of my planned stitch pattern to get the border just the way I wanted. So I had one section where the border wasn’t quite right. I started playing with the idea of adding another color of yarn into my project. I have a nice blue, and that was when I was inspired!
I was planning on alternating the leaf stitch pattern and raindrop stitch pattern, but then I thought, “if I am going to add blue, then I can just do the raindrop stitch in blue!” I had already done some raindrop in the green though…. So it was decision making time. Do I continue on, with my new design ideas, and just leave the previous work the way it is, or do I pull it all off the loom and start over? Eventually, I came to the realization that what I currently have planned will be a more artful design, better conveying the idea of springtime.  I want my first prototype of the shawl to be everything it can be. I am hoping that this design will be my first paid design, and I want my prototype to be as beautiful, so that the pictures I take of this shawl speak to those who might have an interest in making one for themselves.
Conversely, I have made mistakes in my knitting and just left them. For example, I was making a garter stitch hat for one of my boys, and I accidentally did two rows of knit stitch. If you are a needle knitter, it would be like you throwing in an unnecessary row of purl stitches when trying to produce garter stitch. I hadn’t notice my error though, and produced about 1.5 inches of hat before I saw it. I was going to go back, but my husband said “Don’t worry about it. He won’t notice, it adds character anyway.” With my shawl though, the errors did matter, and if I had left them, I wouldn’t have been able to use the shawl for my pictures and for the final production of the design.
When deciding to frog a project (or not as the case may be), you should weigh the pros and cons. You don’t want to always leave noticeable errors in your project, but neither do you want to be such a perfectionist that you take forever to finish even short projects. Our mistakes are what help us to learn and grow, so they aren’t always all bad.
When you are knitting something for yourself, your mistakes may not glare at you as badly as when you are knitting a gift for someone else, or even knitting something you intend on selling. When you are knitting something you want to give or sell to someone else, the mistakes you make can bring down the perceived quality of the item, depending on what the mistakes are. You generally want to present your best work to others. In pattern design, you want to give people using your pattern the best example of the project you can. Your prototype should be an exact example of how other’s project can turn out if they follow your design.
Basically, I think frogging or even going back to far on a project should be a decision you make on a case by case basis. Having to go back to far can be very discouraging. If it is for someone else though, your motivation is different, and it becomes more important that the item appear exactly as you mean it too. We are not machines, to never make errors, but the work we sell or give as gifts deserves our best effort. Even if that effort means starting over, or undoing a lot of the project.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Publishing on Ravelry

I published my first pattern on Ravelry today. Wow, what a great feeling! The pattern I published was the Lace Stitch Legwarmers pattern. If you have read it before, go check it out again here. I added an option to use the 31 peg large gauge loom for larger calves. I love legwarmers because with loose boots, they work great as boot toppers as well. Wonderful for flats and leggings or boots or leggings, so what is not to love? I still plan on doing the same pattern with bulky yarn instead of super bulky, so the pattern may see an update when that happens.

Publishing on Ravelry was super easy. Much easier than I thought it was going to be. Actually, the pattern generator is what caused me to add the option for a larger circumference legwarmer. The pattern generator introduces fields in sections, and it is very easy to begin a draft and come back to it later. I have a draft saved for the Bamboo Stitch Scarf I am working on. I am just finishing up the scarf, and I plan on publishing that pattern once I have some pictures to go with it.

The generator even draws your attention to anything that is left blank, so you can make sure you leave no fields empty, unless that is your intention. As soon as I hit the ‘publish’ button, my pattern was searchable on Ravelry! It is exciting to get my first design out into a forum in which I hope it will be helpful to others. There are not a lot of free loom knitting patterns for legwarmers available right now, so I am glad that I was able to contribute to an accessory niche in need of patterns!