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!

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!!!!

It’s Been HOW Long??

Wow, I didn’t realize it’s been close to a year since I last posted. It’s almost Thanksgiving! Of course, that means I’m frantically working on various projects for Christmas gifts (that won’t get done and will end up being frogged in January…just keepin’ it real).

I recently learned how to knit back at the beginning of October which has opened up a world of new patterns, stitches, and wouldn’t you know it, tools. While I long ago decided on my favorite crochet hooks (Susan Bates Luxite Plastic), I’ve yet to find a good set of needles. So far, I’ve tried Lion Brand (meh), Susan Bates (love the tips…these are my favorite inexpensive straights), Boye (no. Just no.), ChiaoGoo Bamboo fixed circulars (the regular ones with the clear wires…good, but I don’t like the bamboo), Susan Bates Velocity fixed circulars (ok, but the wire is too stiff), and finally, ChiaoGoo Stainless Steel fixed circular with the red wire.

O.M.G, the red wire ChiaoGoo is HEAVENLY! Straight out of the package, the wire is soft, flexible, and nearly straight! The join is smooth and sleek, meaning there’s nothing to snag the yarn. I love the curved join, because it keeps the fabric moving smoothly down onto the wire instead of my having to stop and shove it down (a problem with the Bamboo). I’m in love! I’d already set my heart on the ChiaoGoo Red Twist interchangeables, but I wanted to try the wire before I committed.

Unfortunately, I’m still torn. Have you SEEN the KnitPicks Caspian needles? They are gorgeous!! I’m considering ordering their trial set of two interchangeables (size 6 Caspian wood and size 7 nickle plated), which also comes with two cable lengths (24″ and 40″) and four end caps, as well as the tightening tool which looks like a twirled t-pin. The Caspian needles are so pretty, and the wires are a beautiful matching teal color.

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Do any of my dear readers have any of the KnitPicks needles? If so, are you happy with them? Tell me about it!

Creative Comfort Crafter’s Gloves

My recent marathon crochet sessions have managed to irritate my wrists. I don’t suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, but I do have other nerve issues that cause pain to be referred from my shoulder down to my wrist. While I have painkillers and anti-inflammatories, I prefer to try other avenues before resorting to chemicals.

I’ve tried other wrist wraps in the past, but they are too stiff to use for crocheting, and they’re held closed with velcro, which is something you never want near delicate yarn. I tried wrapping them with ACE bandages, but again, the end result was too stiff. On a recent trip to JoAnn, my daughter pointed out the Creative Comfort gloves. They were $17, but I had a 40% off coupon.

Comfortable, soft, and supportive!

These are essentially fingerless mittens made of a cotton/spandex blend. They are extremely comfortable, and supportive without being stiff. While I did have to adjust the way I hold my hook in order to keep a constant tension, it was easy to get used to. After using them, my wrists felt much less painful, and I was able to work for a longer period of time. Because they are mostly cotton, they breathe well, so my hand does not get excessively hot or sweaty.

While some people do need the full support of a brace or a tight wrap, if you just need moderate support, the Creative Comfort gloves are a great solution. I now keep them with my hooks and scissors, and they are a vital tool in my crochet arsenal.

Do you ever have pain in your wrists? If so, what is your solution?