Knitting and Reading: June edition

Yarn Along 6.18.14

I’m going to link up with Ginny again this week at Small Things for this week’s Yarn Along!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~


Evidently it’s been a month since my last knitting and reading update. Ugh. I can’t believe how incredibly busy I am, but how seriously neglected this blog is. I *want* to write posts once or twice a week at least…real, meaningful posts! But then life happens, I guess.

I thought I’d go back and give a quick review of the books and projects I was working on when I wrote my last Yarn Along update today. And then share what new things I’m working on too.

Knitting Update

Old projects

1) Kingdom Gloves:  I’ve lost interest in this one…for now. I know I’ll come back to it. But I’ve only finished one more finger since I wrote about it last month.

knit gloves

2) Mystery Mitts, size Large: Still working on this too…but it’s mostly hibernating right now as well.

(no photo–its’ still a secret!)

New projects (you know–the ones I’m actually working on right now):

3) I’ve started knitting my hubby a new pair of socks. Same yarn as the only other pair I’ve made for him, but this time I’m using a toe-up pattern “Simplicity” by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Pattern is in her book Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks.  Hopefully this new pair will fit a tad better–his other pair is a just a smidge too large and get a little loose when he wears them.

toe-up 2-at-a-time knitting

4) Mendel:  I’ve started swatching for this sweater project, but need to finish the swatch and then wash/dry it to make sure that the gauge doesn’t change significantly. So far, it looks like my stitch gauge is right on with the US 6 needles I have, but my row gauge is off a little so I might need to do a little math to make sure it’s shaped correctly.

knitting swatch

Reading Update

Last month I wrote about the EIGHT books I had in my currently-reading list. Crazy, right? Well, I finished a few, started and finished a few more, and am currently reading a total of  (only) SIX right now.

Finished (my reviews)

1) Heiress by Susan May Warren Honestly, this was not my favorite book by Susan May Warren.  She’s still one of my favorite authors, but I much prefer her Deep Haven series. I ended up giving this one 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  The characters and setting were realistic enough…perhaps too realistic for my fantasy-loving taste? I liked how it ended, but getting there–especially about mid-way through the book–was a struggle for me. A couple times I was so mad at the characters that I didn’t want to read any more! But I’m glad to have finished it and to see how the author redeemed/resolved the different situations.  If you really love Christian historical fiction, you might really enjoy this one.

2) Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James This one only got 3 stars from me. I really liked the beginning…how the characters were developed and the murder mystery revealed. But there’s a point in the book where it gets rather dull and boring. Not enough action, just a lot of talking. Eventually, it gets a bit more action again and my interest picked back up, but getting through the dull part was a bit tedious at times.  Still, as a huge fan of Jane Austen, it was fun to see how another fan used her characters and setting for a story like this. And learning that P. D. James wrote the book at age 91…impressive!

3)Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide  EXCELLENT! I can’t say enough of how exciting it is to me to read a book that actually makes sense of the English language. I’ve always been a good reader and speller, but I’m a visual learner and remember easily the shape of words. For my younger son who really has struggled with reading, I have hope that this method of teaching the foundations (starting with phonograms or “sound pictures” and then learning to put them together into words and then sentences AS WELL AS learning rules for spelling!) will be the program that actually gets him to learn how to read.  We’re only about halfway through the Foundations of English Book A (the curriculum by Logic of English for younger students) and we’ve found the lessons engaging and fun for the most part. I love that they teach handwriting along with learning the phonograms…no need to get a separate handwriting curriculum!

4) How Am I Smart:  A Parent’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences by Dr. Kathy Koch  Another helpful book! This has been my introduction to the concept of multiple intelligences. I love that Dr. Koch writes from a Christian perspective and explains the different intelligences with examples and easy-to-remember labels such as “body smart” or “picture smart”. It’s been fun to try and see which “smarts” are my sons’ natural strengths and which smarts maybe need a little development. Being able to encourage my son who struggles with reading by reminding him he has other areas where he naturally excels has helped me as a parent. I can remind him that we all have different smarts that don’t come easy–for him it happens to be reading which is probably a combination of his word and picture smarts needing developed–and they require a bit more effort to learn. The cool thing is that we can develop those areas that aren’t natural strengths.

Started and Finished since last post

5) Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (Hannah Swenson, #4) by Joanne Fluke  I started this series  a while ago. My public library has them on their ebook site, so they’re easy to check out and read on my Kindle.  An easy to read whodunnit…somewhat predictable, but I like the characters and still enjoy reading them.

6) Fudge Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swenson, #5) by Joanne Fluke  Obviously, I continued in the same series and read the next book too! Another enjoyable, quick read.

Still Reading…but with rather slow progress

Force Heretic Remnant cover A Princess of Mars cover Say Goodbye to Survival Mode cover Praying for Boys cover

1) Star Wars The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant by Sean Williams  My bathroom read. I enjoy it one or two pages at a time.

2) A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs  I still like reading this on my iPhone when I don’t have another book with me and want to read fiction.

3) Say Good-bye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine I need to get back into this one! I got the e-book version when it was on sale, thinking I’d read it on my phone. But I’ve been on a fiction kick lately so it’s just sitting there, waiting.

4) Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin Same thing goes for this one…just haven’t been reading as much non-fiction the past couple weeks. I’m sure I’ll get back to it someday soon.

New books I’ve started recently

One Realm Beyond Graceling

5) One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul Another of my favorite authors, Donita writes Christian fantasy. This is her newest book. I’ve only read a few chapters, but I can tell it’s going to be good! (My 14 yo son has already read it and says it’s very good!)

6) Graceling by Kristin Cashore  Checked this fantasy book out from the library e-book site. Because I only have it for two weeks (unless I need to renew it), I tend to read library e-books much faster than paper books. I think I read faster when I read on my Kindle too.

So that’s this week’s (month’s?) update.

It’s show-and-tell time!

I’d love to see your current projects too! Would you be willing to share photos of your projects on my Facebook page? If it’s a knit or crochet project, be sure to tell what pattern and yarn you’re using!

And be sure to leave a comment below before you go! I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy knitting and reading!

~Steph

Knitting and Reading Update

Yarn Along 5.14.14

I’m going to link up with Ginny this week at Small Things for this week’s Yarn Along!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

Knitting Update: On My Needles

1) Kingdom Gloves by Becky Herrick.  I’ve only made it through 2 fingers at the time I’m writing this.  Perhaps I’ll work a little on the next finger tonight. Or not.  My brain is tired.

knit gloves

2) Larger version of my Mystery Mitts  (new design I’m developing) Due to the nature of my wanting to reveal it when the pattern is ready, I’m not posting any pics!

And that’s ALL.

Which is rather weird for me.

I think I need to cast on a pair of socks just so I have another project in progress!

And since the Kingdom gloves have so much detailing–fancy cuffs, cables, fingers, cabled fingers!–a simple or easy sock pattern would be a nice go-to project for when my brain is too tired to concentrate. After a quick peek at my extensive queue, I’ve decided Cookie A.’s Monkey socks look like a great pattern. I’ve seen lots of other knitters have made pairs of Monkey socks over past few years, but for some unknown reason I haven’t.  Perhaps it’s time.

Reading Update:  The Many Books I’m Reading

As usual, I’m working on a BUNCH of different books.  {I’m only including the ones I’m reading on my own. If I added all the homeschool books I’m reading with/to my kids, you’d probably think I’m insane.}

Fiction:

Force Heretic Remnant cover  A Princess of Mars cover  Heiress cover  Death Comes to Pemberley cover

1) Star Wars The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant (A book I’ve been reading off and on for…ahem…2 or 3 years. Have finally put it where I can read it on a regular basis: the bathroom! Ha! Seriously though, I’ve gotten interested in the Star Wars series again.  I think I just needed a break from it for a while. I’m looking forward to the new movie, but knowing they’re basically scrapping the whole Star Wars Extended Universe makes me a little sad too.)

2) A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (I’m reading this via my Goodreads app on my iPhone.  It’s nice to have a book to read as long as I’ve got my phone with me!)

3) Heiress by Susan May Warren (I had paused in my reading of this one for a while, but have picked it up my old Kindle and continued the story where I left off.)

4) Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James (I’m reading this one on my Kindle Fire. Right now it’s my go-to book if I want to read before bed.)

Non-Fiction:

Uncovering the Logic of English cover  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode cover  Praying for Boys cover  How am I smart cover

1) Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide (An amazing look at the English language explaining the various phonograms and the LOGIC…yes, that’s right…of how and when to use them for reading and spelling. Having a child who is a struggling reader, I’ve pursued finding the “right” method to teach him so he best understands. Not only did I get Denise’s book at a homeschool conference we recently attended, but we bought the Foundations series to teach him with.  And although he still complains about how he “hates reading,” once we start a lesson he *almost* enjoys it! So far, I’m really happy with it and am recommending the program!

2) Say Good-bye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (I’ve just started this one, but am hoping to glean some tips for time management from her.)

3) Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin (I’m also reading this one on my iPhone, but using the Kindle app.)

4) How Am I Smart:  A Parent’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences by Dr. Kathy Koch (I don’t actually have this book right now.  I started reading it a few weeks ago, but had to return it to the library before I finished it.  Have requested it again in hopes of being able to finish it! Hoping it comes in soon!)

Phew!  That’s quite a list!  It’s no wonder it sometimes takes me a long time to finish a book.  But I do find myself focusing on a single book when the story has drawn me in to the point that I don’t want to put it down!

Tell me:  what are you knitting and/or reading these days?

Let me know by leaving a comment below. Hearing from my readers puts a smile on my face! It really makes my day!

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!  Hope you enjoyed today’s post!

And as always, happy knitting (and reading)!

~Steph

Mother’s Day Pattern Special

Happy Mother’s Day! 

I’m so thankful to have a loving mom who is always there for me!

In honor of my mom on this Mother’s Day weekend, I’m offering a pattern special. 

Buy 1 Get 1 Free Pattern Special!

(Details below!)

Get my Katelyn Mitts pattern for FREE when you purchase my Andrea Mitts pattern

Buy this pattern:

IMG_0706A

Get this one free:

Katelyn mitts

So it’s a buy-1-get-1 free offer!  Fun, huh?! 

Be sure to put BOTH patterns in your Ravelry shopping cart and enter code thanksmom at checkout to get your free pattern. 

Hurry, because this sale ends at midnight May 11th CST!

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Celebrate your Mom tomorrow!

An Update, Some FOs, and a New Design in the Works

April Update

Another month has passed me by…it’s hard to believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted!  Not for lack of things to say, but rather for lack of time to write it.  For the past month I’ve really tried to stay focused on teaching my boys–which is my primary job after all–and by the end of each day most, if not all, of my energy is used up and I just want to sit in front of the TV and knit.  So, sorry dear faithful readers (both of you).  Perhaps this summertime I’ll be able to make time to blog more regularly?

2014-03-28 12.48.20

Science Experiment…homeschool science in the kitchen!

I’ve posted a few of my knitting pics here and there on Facebook and/or Instagram.  So even though I’ve neglected to write blog posts, I’ve tried to keep as active on social media as I can. As I already mentioned, knitting each evening while watching television with my hubby has become my primary means of de-stressing after hounding my 14 year old and working hard with my 7 year old to get their schoolwork done each day.  With lots of good knitting time, I’ve managed to complete a few projects!  Yay!  I love FOs!

Knitting Update

Finished Objects:

#1) After 2 months of working on it off and on, I finally finished my Diving in shawl!  I just love it!  The Malabrigo yarns are so soft and warm!  And although the colorways don’t contrast a lot, they work very well together and the result is quite lovely.

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2014-04-25 15.01.54

I know you wanted to see headless photos of me, right?! LOL! Taking selfies is not my forte.

#2)  Earlier this month I finished knitting scarf using the pattern “My So Called Scarf” by Allison Isaacs with that lovely Phydeaux yarn from my February Yarnbox.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this yarn?!?  It’s wonderful!  I decided to use just one skein for the scarf, so I sewed the seams together to make it into a mobius.  I especially loved the stitch pattern in the variegated colors of the yarn. Such a lovely combo!

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2014-04-06 11.02.16 HDR

#3) After finishing the My So-Called {Mobius} Scarf, I decided to use my second skein to design a pair of matching mitts.  I adore how the yarn worked up for my new mitts too!  And although I really want to show off these finished mitts to you all, I’ve decided to wait until my pattern is ready to publish.  Which leads me into the last heading of today’s post…

New Design in the Works

I’m hoping to work out the details for a couple more hand sizes before I write up my new pattern since not everyone can wear my extra-small ladies’ mitt size!  So for now, all you get to know is that I’ve got a pair of Mystery Mitts (that match the above cowl) in the works!

Now if someone would just invent a working time turner so I can work on two things at once!!!

As always, happy knitting!

Steph

PS!  Did you know my patterns are currently on sale?! NO? Well, now you know! Get 20% off with the coupon code “Easter2014”!   (Granted, I only have 3 patterns to sell right now…but still!)  Happy shopping!

Early Morning Mitts Tutorial: Thumb plus Free Pattern

The Finishing Touch

If you’ve followed along with my tutorials, you know that all we have left to do is knit the thumb and weave in the loose ends! Woohoo! Let’s get started on that thumb already!

How to knit the thumb

First, we need to get our thumb stitches back on our needles. Because I use yarn to hold my stitches, I just slip the stitches onto my double-pointed needles (dpns) and then carefully pull the yarn out. I try to divide them onto 3 dpns as evenly as possible, remembering that I will be picking up 2 more stitches where I earlier cast on 2 stitches. [See photo #1 below]

Once you have the stitches back onto the dpns, grab your working yarn and, leaving about 6 inches or so hang as a tail and start knitting around all the stitches. [Photo #2]

When all the stitches have been knitted, your next step is to pick up and knit 2 stitches in the gap left behind by the stitches you cast on earlier. Because I don’t like having large holes near my thumbs, I don’t knit into the outermost stitch, but rather into the bar of the stitch below. [You can see these stitch bars in photo #3 on top of my fingers.]

knitting tutorialTo pick up and knit a stitch, you pick up the bar of the stitch you’re going to knit into with your right needle tip [Photo #4]. Then you wrap your needle and knit just as if you were knitting into a regular knit stitch [Photo #5].

knitting tutorial

Once you’ve added those 2 stitches, you have a total of 16 thumb stitches.

The rest of the instructions are pretty easy so here’s a quick run-through:

Knit 5 rounds.

On the next round, because 16 stitches makes the thumb too wide at the top for my thumbs, I like to decrease 3 stitches evenly. Do this by dividing the total number of stitches by the number of decreases. In this case we have 16 stitches divided by 3 decreases which means our decreases will be approximately every 5 stitches.  I then use a k2tog decrease once every 5 or so stitches and have 13 stitches at the end of this round.

Finally, to make my thumb match the cuff and top of mitt, I add another 5 row garter stitch ridge at the top of the thumb. Bind off on the last purl round just like the top of the mitt.

Weave in all the loose ends and be sure to close up any holes that might be by the thumb area.

The mitt is done!

Now just start all over again and make a second mitt for your other hand!  These mitts are interchangeable (can be worn on either hand) which I like because you don’t have to worry about which hand you need to put them on. Just slip them on and enjoy having toasty warm hands!

Get the free pattern!

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial series!  Ready to knit a pair of Early Morning Mitts yourself? But wait!  You need the pattern! Go ahead and grab a PDF of it right now by clicking here:  download Early Morning Mitts pattern  (It’s also available on Ravelry HERE.)

tutorial, knit pattern

A completed pair of my Early Morning Mitts

This pattern is my gift to you! Enjoy!  (Don’t forget to post your finished mitts on Ravelry! I can’t wait to see them!)

As always, happy knitting!

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Early Morning Mitts Tutorial: The Bind Off

Tutorial Recap

In case you’ve missed any of my previous posts in this tutorial series, here’s a list of links to those posts in order.

  1. Cast-on
  2. Cuff
  3. Thumb gusset

Bind off

Now that we’ve finished the main part of the mitt, it’s time to bind off. Like the initial join for knitting in the round, the bind off for my design is worked using purl stitches instead of knit stitches. So how exactly do you bind off in purl?  If you already know how to bind off knit stitches, you’ll find it’s not that difficult.

First you’ll need to purl those first two stitches.

knitting Tutorial

Next, in order to bind off one stitch, you will put your working yarn to the back as if you’re going to knit. Then pull the first purled stitch up and over the second stitch and off the right needle with the left needle.

knitting tutorial

knitting tutorial

Again, bring the working yarn back to the front. Purl the next stitch.  With your yarn behind once again, move the second purled stitch over the third and off the needle. Continue around the top of the mitt purling one stitch and then, with yarn behind, binding off a stitch until you have only one stitch left on your right needle.

Finally, cut the working yarn leaving about a six-inch tail and pull the yarn through the last stitch.

Note:  You could also bind off in purl without switching the yarn back and forth, but I’ve found it’s much harder to pull one stitch over the other when you’re working from behind the needle.

 QUESTIONS? Comments?

Having trouble understanding something in today’s tutorial?  Leave a comment below with your question and I’ll answer it in a future post!

Coming up next…finishing the thumb.

Next is our final step: knitting the thumb and finishing up. And if all goes according to plan, I’ll have my first FREE pattern ready for you to download as well!  Sign up for email updates, follow my blog on Bloglovin’, and/or like my Facebook page so you don’t miss it! 😀

As always, happy knitting!

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Early Morning Mitts Tutorial: Thumb Gusset

So what exactly is a thumb gusset?

So far, I’ve shown you some of the techniques used in knitting the cast-on and the cuff of my Early Morning Mitts pattern. Now it’s time to talk about the thumb gusset.  First off, according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the term gusset means “a usually diamond-shaped or triangular insert in a seam (as of a sleeve, pocketbook, or shoe upper) to provide expansion or reinforcement”. So what does that mean for a mitten or glove? Well, take a look at this photo.

knitting tutorial

See the highlighted triangular shape?  The stitches between the stitch markers are the thumb stitches. Starting with just 2 stitches between the markers, I increase two thumb stitches every other row. These are paired increases because you make one at each “end” of the thumb stitch section and the stitches also lean in opposite directions.  The paired increases I use are Make 1 Right (M1R) and Make 1 Left (M1L). You can watch videos to learn how to do M1R & M1L at knittinghelp.com.

Early Morning MittsSo looking at the finished mitts, you see the thumbs are shaped out away from the palm of the mitt. It’s a little trickier to knit than an after-thought thumb, but having a gusset allows the mitt to fit the shape of the hand and thumb better.

Thumb gusset how-to

Once the cuff–up to the wrist–is completed, it’s time to start the thumb gusset while continuing to knit the palm section of the mitt.

My pattern’s instructions begin like this:

Round 1: Knit 1, place marker, M1R, Knit 2, M1L, place marker, knit to end of round.  You now have 4 stitches between the stitch markers.

Round 2: Knit

Round 3: Knit 1, slip marker, M1R, Knit 4, M1L, slip marker, knit to end of round.  You see there are now 6 stitches between the markers…each increase round adds 2 stitches to the thumb.

This pattern of increasing thumb stitches one row, knit one row, continues until we have the total number of stitches needed for thumb. Then the thumb stitches are slipped to a stitch holder (I just slip the stitches to a piece of yarn with a tapestry needle).

knitting tutorialOnce you slip the thumb stitches to scrap yarn or a stitch holder, you need to cast on 2 stitches to make up for the 2 that you used to start the thumb gusset. Then it’s just knitting around until the palm is as high up on the hand/fingers as you like. For this pattern, I’m wanting to mostly cover my fingers–these gloves are especially nice for driving because they keep the fingers and palms so toasty warm, but the finger tips are still free which is nice for setting temperature or radio controls.

At the top of the mitt, I do another garter stitch ridge just like the ones on the cuff and now it’s time to bind off!

QUESTIONS? Comments?

Having trouble understanding something in today’s tutorial?  Leave a comment below with your question and I’ll answer it in a future post!

Coming up next…binding off the top of the mitt.

You need to know the special way to bind off the mitt and then it will be on to knitting the thumb!

As always, happy knitting!

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