Santa Baby

I know I’m a few days late, but in my defense, I’ve been sick pretty much since Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day was no exception. While I rallied enough to get all the wrapping finished up, on Christmas Eve I ended up crashing at around 3:30pm. When I woke up three hours later, I found a spotless house, including the bathroom, and the kitchen floors. It was a perfect Christmas surprise, and I was able to throw myself into the baking frenzy of pies for the next day.

On Christmas morning, I had the best time watching my kids, my son’s girlfriend, and my husband open presents, particularly my husband. The only things he had asked for were a pizza cutter, a knife sharpener, and some snapware bowls. Instead of the knife sharpener, I bought him a set of Ginzu knives, which he was amazed at how sharp they are. However, as he opened lame present after lame present (pajamas, flannel shirts, kitchenware), I kept having to hide my smile as I waited for the right moment to give him his “real” present.

For ages, he’s been waffling about getting a tablet of some kind, so I did my research and decided on the Google Nexus. A few days before Christmas, he said that if he were going to get a tablet, it would be a Nexus. I laughed and said, “Whatever,” as if he would ever buy one. So while I had been a little worried about whether or not he would like it or just complain about the expense, I stopped worrying. Sure enough, when he opened the tiny little box, he was so happy. He loves it and spends much more time in his chair or in the bed, reading all sorts of things. Yesterday, all he read about was dinosaurs.

I highly suspected I was going to get the ChiaoGoo needles, but as I opened my presents, it wasn’t in any of the boxes. I did get a kindle (great for pattern pdfs!) and a fantabulous craft tote with lots of safe, non-velcro compartments. Finally, I was down to my last box and I was NOT disappointed! There in all of its black and white floral glory was the ChiaoGoo needle carry case.

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Because he got me the complete set, I have from size 2 up to size 15. It came with six cables (two of each length, with one for the large set and one for the small set), cable connectors, stitch markers, tightening keys, a gauge/ruler, end caps, and of course, the case. I was too exhausted to play with it that day, but the next day, I switched from my Velocity fixed cable over to the ChiaoGoo and OMG! Let me say again, I was NOT disappointed!

Having lace tips is worth its weight in stainless steel. I love the “click/swish, click/swish” sound they make because I can stitch so much faster. The cashmere silk lace scarf that I’d had to give up on because it refused to cooperate with my Boye needles? I’m now on row 15, and I doubled the width (I like wider scarves). It took me about 45 minutes total to get that far which is waaaaaay faster for me.

I love the stitch markers, too. They are so cute! All the different sizes makes it easy to use the smallest one so it isn’t difficult to knit over. Having a set of end stoppers makes it easy to have multiple projects going at once (because what knitter/crocheter doesn’t??), so I had to give a go at the Kuura shawl with my ICE merino and I had a ball (LOL!) because even the few rows that I worked up were so simple and I can tell it is going to be a gorgeous piece.

I cannot say enough good things about these needles. The key makes the joins super tight, so it’s highly unlikely they will unscrew on their own. Combining the cables was such a huge help for my ever expanding Afternoon Tea shawl. I’m flying through those rows, too, so I should have that done by the end of the next week. The joins are super smooth, too.

Although Amazon hiked up the price $26 from $129 to $155, my husband said there was no way he could *not* get them for me, even though he waited too long. Never underestimate the truly fantastic gift that a good set of needles make. While my other needle purchases sort of propped open the door, these needles have thrown it wide open to the world of knitting possibilities.

I highly recommend getting the complete set, and I also intend to get more cables, connectors, and end stoppers. The combinations are endless, and one could easily make a cabled afghan of any size with a few of the 30″ cables put together. I feel like there is nothing I can’t tackle now!

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All I Want For Christmas Is…

One thing about learning a new hobby: it often requires a whole new set of toys. When I learned to crochet, I got subscriptions to several magazines, downloaded patterns, bought hooks, stitch markers, yarn, yarn, more yarn, and oh, some yarn. Knitting is nowhere near that cheap.

Sure, I could get just a single set of straight needles and make flat hats and scarves in worsted weight yarns until I die of boredom. But if I want to make shawls, blankets, hats, sweaters, or socks, I need stuff. Lots of stuff. 14 inch straights, circular needles of various lengths and sizes,  cable needles (although for the moment, I’m faking it with a third straight), yarn, yarn, some yarn, and oh, more yarn! I’ve discovered that yarn that is nearly impossible to use in crochet, because the stitches get lost, is easy to use in knitting, because the stitches are right there on the needle. Hello mohair, boucle, and novelty yarns!

Every year, my parents, nieces and nephew, and my family all draw names after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s easier to get gifts for one person, and they get a cooler present than if I had to get seven of them. This year, my mom got me, Aubrey got my mom, I got my dad, and my dad got Aubrey. How funny is that?? Because my mom is going to be gone for Christmas and I’ll be gone for all of January and most of February, we decided to get together on the 15th for brunch.

My mom is difficult to buy for, but Aubrey is a whiz shopper. She hit up Etsy and found the most beautiful thing…I’ll show pictures after next Sunday when we open our presents. My dad is equally difficult, as he has everything he could ever need. I searched through Etsy and while I found some really awesome stuff, it all comes from Israel and wouldn’t be here in time. Because I wasted so much time looking at various indie websites, I ran out of shipping time. Thank goodness for Amazon and Prime. Two days guaranteed! I found a beautiful wool/viscose Irish Ivy Hat; I’ve seen my dad wear one so I know he’ll like it. I’m frantically working on a cabled scarf to go with the hat. With only six days to go, it may be a very short scarf. I’m using the Lion Brand Reversible Cable Scarf Level 5. I’m not sure why it’s considered level 5, because it’s really easy, as long as I don’t lose track of when to knit and when to purl.

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Mom finds me equally difficult to buy for, although I think I’m pretty easy. Obviously, knitting stuff is at the top of my list. But she wanted to make sure she got me exactly what I wanted, so while we were on the phone, we shopped on KnitPicks.com together. I picked out a set of Caspian DPNs, some needle coils, point protectors, cable needles, and two skeins of Shimmer yarn in Shallows colorway. That’s going to be a lace shawl for sure! I can’t wait for the DPNs so I can make my first pair of knitted socks.

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Of course, I’m still hoping for the set of ChiaoGoo interchangeables from my husband. Hint…hint!

 

Here I Row Again

I’m super new to knitting, so I’m still learning things like what a pain in the ass it is to not discover my stitch count is off until I’m a couple dozen rows down from where I made the mistake that threw it off. I’ve been working on this shawl for about six weeks now, and the majority of that time has been spent doing the same  dozen or so rows over and over. After this last round of frogging, I’ve become super paranoid and I’m now counting my stitches after every fourth row. The other three rows are just knit stitch, so as long as that fourth row is right, the next three will be right, too…assuming I don’t drop a stitch somewhere, but I usually notice that right away. Everyone around me notices, too, because there’s a whole lot of cussing going on when that happens.

It’s so much more difficult to frog in knitting than in crochet. With crochet, the stitches in the row beneath don’t collapse when I rip out a row, whereas with knitting, stitches don’t neatly and patiently wait for me to run the needle through. After putting my working stitches on and off the needle for what seemed like the millionth time, I realized it would be much faster to just run a line of embroidery thread on a tapestry needle through the stitches to hold them while I counted. If they were still wrong, it only takes a second to pull the thread, unlike trying to smooth 257 stitches on and off my circular needles.

Every needleworker has their own little tips, tricks, and admit it, quirks. I admit that my OCD makes me rip back rows of work if I’m off by one stitch, whereas a normal person would just, oh…add a freakin’ stitch. Every time my husband comes home to find me under a pile of loose yarn with that crazed look in my eye, he laughs and reminds me that’s what stitch markers are for. I remind him that knitting needles are much sharper than crochet hooks.

Fortunately, this pattern is a very easy beginner’s lace, so I have this section memorized. After doing it a billion times, I’m much faster at getting through the yarn over rows. Since Texas (and most of the rest of the country) is hunkering down for the southern bit of Winter Storm Cleon, I have nowhere that I have to be, which means I can knit and watch Law And Order: SVU while snuggled under my layers of quilt, blanket, and comforter.

Meanwhile, my luxurious yarn stash continues to grow. In today’s mail, I received my JL Daisy Alpaca in black and another skein of JL Mira, this time in hot pink. OMG, the alpaca is so soft, I know it will have to be a scarf so I can bury my face in it. It’s like snuggling a kitten!

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All Yarn And No Needle

Down here, when someone is either a complete idiot or they arrogantly brag about how awesome they are but have nothing to back up their claims, we say they are, “all brand and no cattle.” In Texas, anyone can register a brand, as in what’s burned into animal flesh to identify which ranch they belong to. It is not a requirement that one own a ranch nor cattle of any kind. In order to sound rich or important, people would register brands even though they had no reason for it. All brand and no cattle.

Over the shopping frenzy weekend, I bought several skeins of different yarns from vendors on both eBay and Etsy. O.M.G. I came home yesterday (after buying these things on Friday night and Saturday morning, mind you!) and found three bags on my porch. I essentially got most of my stuff in less than one business day! Unfortunately, I couldn’t play with any of it because I still haven’t purchased my needles. In our family, we go into self-purchase lockdown on November 1. No one is allowed the buy anything for themselves until after Christmas. This does not apply to yarn, however. Yarn may be purchased at any time for any (or no) reason. I’m pretty sure that’s chiseled in as the 11th Commandment. Thanks to lockdown, I can’t just buy my needles. I have to wait till Christmas to see if they turn up under the tree. All yarn and no needle.

Although I lacked the proper needles, I very carefully cut open each bag and was in pure heaven when I saw and felt my ICE Artic Merino.

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SOOOOO soft, which a hint of a shiny glimmer. I chose the midnight blue color and it is deep and rich and perfect. I quickly decided that this is MY yarn, and I will make something for myself with it. I found the Kuura Shawl on Ravelry and I heard a choir of angels all sing “Aaaahhhhh” and knew this was the pattern I would use.

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I have had a soft spot for Finland in my heart after spending a month of summer in Helsinki, so the fact that this shawl is Finnish just made it more perfect. I can just imagine casually wrapping it around my shoulders as the night starts to chill while walking along the Esplanadi, window shopping at all the quirky stores. In typical Finnish design, Kuura has clean and simple lines, nothing overly complicated, yet manages to look intricate and delicate.

In addition to the ICE Artic, I bought a few skeins of other ICE yarn, two skeins of handpainted yarn from my_special_tea, and two skeins of JL Mira from onlinebargainsgalore. If you’ve never tried JL yarn, I highly recommend it. You can find it on eBay and Etsy, or can order directly from Julia’s Yarn. I’ve used several different collections and have always been very happy with it. The bamboo and wool Zania is one of my favorites. Mira is a fingering/sock wool and is decadently soft for a pure wool.

Those weren’t my only yarn purchases, but they were my faves from the day. I am still waiting on a skein of cashmere fingering, some alpaca wool, and more Mira. It’s killing me to see this yarn sitting here feeling lonely and neglected. I can almost hear it crying. I’m trying to look at the bright side; this forces me to continue to work on the Afternoon Tea shawl that I’m making for a friend.

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I can’t put it down and go play with other yarn until I have some needles. C’mon Christmas!!!!