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

June 7: FO Friday Downton Pullover

FO Fridays Tami

My Downton Pullover is finally DONE!

(And there was much rejoicing…)

I finished it Saturday night. Just in time for summer. But we’ve had a cool spring, so I might even get to wear it before the summer heat arrives here in Northern Minnesota.

I’ve been waiting almost a week to show my finally finished sweater off here on the blog. Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with the finished results. I didn’t even end up shortening the sleeves.  Once I got the buttons attached, they look and feel just fine. If anything, the Downton Pullover fits a tad wide in my shoulders and chest.  I know it was fitting me rather snugly back in January and February, so I think it must be because I’ve lost a little weight in the last couple months.  Despite that, I’m pleased with it and therefore it must be good enough even for the perfectionist in me.

Never stop learning

I know I still have lots to learn about sweater construction.  Maybe by the end of summer I’ll be ready to tackle another sweater project–especially since I just purchased The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd.  And until I’m a bit more comfortable with sweater-making, I think I’ll stick to child-sized sweaters.  My 6 year old son will love that.  🙂

A huge thanks to my fabulous photographer. Who just happens to be my 13 year old son.  🙂  Didn’t he get some nice shots today?  As you can see our kitties were looking for lots of attention while we were out doing the photo shoot. And yes, there were several cat-only pictures. And a few of the 6 year old being silly too. Of course.

Anyways, thanks for stopping by and letting me brag a bit today!

And if you’ve got a little time, be sure to check out the FO Friday link up on Tami’s blog to see what other great projects were completed this week!

FO Fridays Tami

As always… I’d love for you to leave me a comment and tell me what you think of today’s FO!

Happy knitting and have a great weekend!

 

May 29: WIP Wednesday & Yarn Along

It’s time for another Yarn Along & WIP Wednesday post!

Work in Progress: Downton Pullover

I’m STILL working on my Downton Pullover. After much thought and a whole lot of mental debating, I went ahead and attached the sleeves as is (i.e. too long and seemingly too wide).  The width actually turned out looking alright!  YAY!  But I still have to decide what to do about the length (or if I can somehow make it work as is).

As I attached the collar pieces, I noticed something about the collar wasn’t looking quite right.  And once it was on the sweater, I couldn’t get it to lay flat and be more than an inch and a half wide. So I took the collar pieces off again and examined them.  Good thing too! They weren’t the same size!  Somehow, in my knitting them I goofed and miss-counted rows on at least one of them.

I decided to play it safe and re-do both collar pieces.  (Because I had plenty of the teal yarn leftover!)  The new pieces are being properly blocked–I’m just waiting for them to dry.  Then I’ll sew them on and see if they don’t work out a bit better! I’m so close…maybe by Friday I’ll be posting it as a FO! {I do hope so!}

Downton Pullover

Blocking collar pieces {take 2}

Book in progress: Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul

I finished Susan May Warren’s My Foolish Heart on Friday.  Did you know I’m a more-than-one-book kind of girl? In other words, at any given time I can easily have 4 or more books that I’m currently reading. I think I’ve always been like that.  I like having a variety of books going. And if one really catches my interest, I’ll focus on it more until it’s done.

Right now I’m focusing on Dragons of the Valley.

Donita K. Paul

Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul

It’s book #2 in the Chiril Chronicles series.  And this fun Christian fantasy series is an off-shoot of the Dragonkeeper Chronicles series.  Whether you’re looking for a fun summer read for yourself or a book to give a young person in your life, both of these series are worth checking out!  I highly recommend you start with Dragonspell and read them all. I plan to also read book #3 Dragons of the Valley once I’ve finished this one.

I’m linking up again with Tami’s WIP Wednesday and Ginny’s Yarn Along. Be sure to check out the other blogs that have linked up to find more great WIPs and books to read!

Downton Pullover: seaming

Sleeves.

Let me just say that the Downton Pullover has me a bit frustrated at the moment. The sleeves, after gently blocking (read: blocking without measuring or pinning) were both about 4 inches too long. Ugh. I double-checked my gauge and it’s spot on, so I do not know what happened. I re-soaked and re-shaped to the best of my ability–this time with a tape measure and pins in hand! I have yet to check and see if the re-blocking is any better, but I know they were measuring a bit wide when I was re-blocking.

Downton Pullover

Blocking. Take two.

But at least I managed to get the shoulders both seamed!

Downton Pullover

Sewing a shoulder seam.

Here’s hoping the sleeves aren’t a complete mess!

I’m reminded why I so love sock knitting and making fingerless mitts–no blocking pieces or seaming!

Anyone else feel this way about finishing sweaters?

 

 

Procrastination {or another Downton Pullover update}

Parts do not equal a whole

Friday night I finished knitting all the parts of the Downton Pullover.  

I should be so happy, right?

IMG_0630A

But the next step is the part that I’m not as familiar with: blocking and seaming.

To be honest, it’s got the perfectionist in me screaming in agony: Noooooo! not seaming!! Anything but THAT!

Learning something new can be intimidating.

Even when you’ve been a knitter for quite some time.

So if and when you feel this way about something you’re working on–remember, you’re not alone!

I have seamed a couple of projects in the past, but it’s been a while.  Most of the things I knit are small, don’t require much blocking, and are seamless.

So I’ve been procrastinating.

Oh yeah…and remember when I ran out of the taupe yarn? Well, look at what I found! A wee bit more was hiding in the box I’d had the sweater’s yarns in.  Only I’d stashed more yarn in the same box–on top of the little bit of leftover taupe.  So I *might* have actually had enough without unraveling my swatch. Then again, maybe not.  It’s hard to tell.

IMG_0631A

Lesson learned: keep all the yarns you’re using for a project in the same container (a bag, box, etc.) and don’t stash other yarns there until your project is done!!!

But back to blocking and seaming this sweater.

In my mind, I know what I need to do…it’s just the doing that feels so hard.

And procrastinating is so very easy to do.

So as long as I’m procrastinating, I decided to start working on a new design.  But I can’t share it quite yet.

You see, my niece, Andrea, is turning 16 on Saturday. {In case you’re wondering, I have several other nieces as well besides Katie and Andrea! Lots of great knit inspiration!}

And although I can already see my gift for her won’t be finished in time, at least she’ll {now} know it’s something special I designed with her in mind.

So, happy sweet 16, Miss Andrea! Auntie Steph loves you, girl!

Downton Pullover weekend update

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Knitting Trials

I’ve been trying to finish sleeve #2 this weekend.  I thought for sure I could have it done by this evening.

But then this…

IMG_0529A

Do you see the problem? Notice the taupe yarn.  Yeah.  That’s all that’s left.  Except for the yarn I used to swatch with.

I guess you could say I’ve hit a speed bump.

Before I began this project, I made sure to purchase an EXTRA SKEIN of each color!!!!  I had read a review on Ravelry saying that they needed more than the recommend amount. So I followed that suggestion knowing I needed to swatch anyways.

Having a little extra was just plain smart.

Good thing. Or I’d have run out with only half this sleeve complete instead of being very nearly finished with it.

I will be leaving notes on my Ravelry project about this for sure!!!

So the lesson of the day is: ALWAYS BUY MORE YARN THAN THE PATTERN RECOMMENDS. 

(For larger projects like sweaters at least–you do NOT want to run out!)

On a side note:  Did you see my new yarn bowl in the photo?!?!  I bought it from my dear friend, Patty. (The same potter friend who gave me my first yarn bowl.)  I just HAD to have this one too!  The kitties are simply adorable, aren’t they?!

The Fix

As mentioned above, I had my swatch. As every good knitter knows, you don’t start a sweater without knitting, washing, and blocking a swatch first. (Some knitters would say you should swatch for any project, but I don’t usually swatch for small ones.)  For the Downton Pullover, my swatch was about 4.5″ by 7″ using the honeycomb pattern.  Within my swatch I had tested three different needle sizes using the method I learned from reading this post on Ann Budd’s blog.

(And of course I didn’t think to take a picture of my swatch until I had it ripped out. It would have been nice to show you. Oh well. )

Anyways, I sat down and, with the help of my very sweet and kind husband (who has had to put up with a rather cranky wife this afternoon-evening), I got the swatch ripped out and wound into two little balls of yarn–one teal and one with the taupe yarn I desperately need in order to finish my sleeve!

I then tried a steam iron method to relax the kinks from the yarn, but it just wasn’t enough. In fact, I couldn’t see much difference at all.

So I got my yarn ready for the soak method.

IMG_0522A

I wound it into a small skein on my yarn swift and tied it in two places with scrap yarn.

Using some cool–but not cold–water in my bathroom sink, I soaked the yarn for about 15 minutes.

IMG_0528A

At the moment it is hung on a clothes hanger and is drip-drying in our shower.

I hope it’s dry by tomorrow.

I really want to get this sleeve done!!

My new rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy more yarn! (The hubby’s gonna love that one!)

Before you go, answer this:  Have you ever ran out of materials mid-project? Tell me all about it in the comments. We shall commiserate!

Downton Pullover: Project Update

A little progress

Work is coming along on the Downton Pullover.  Last night I finished the first sleeve.

 IMG_0463 copy

I had knit the second cuff earlier, so I was able to start right in on the honeycomb pattern of the second sleeve.

Downton Pullover

I managed a few rounds, but then it was getting late and I forgot to do the first set of increases and had to tink back to the beginning of the round. Today I plan to work on it some more and hopefully will be awake enough to do the increases!

 

Missing: Spring

Up here in Northern Minnesota it’s still cold and looks like winter has decided to out-stay its welcome. We have the possibility of another snowstorm tomorrow–they’re saying we could get 7-14 inches of snow! As if we need more. I mean, really? It’s April already. Enough with the snow!

IMG_0472 copy

So what do I do when spring still hasn’t sprung?

1. Keep my sense of humor.

someecards.com - Sorry I forgot to wish you a happy spring because it didn't happen again this year

2. Knit, of course!

Out of curiosity, I looked at our area’s weather history for the years I’ve lived up here and even went back a few years before I met and married my man who made me move farther north than my home in the central part of Wisconsin. It seems we’ve been in a bit of a warming trend. I can only wonder if this year things have gone back to normal. If so, I don’t really like it.

IMG_0464 copy

Stormageddon (AKA Stormie) says “Mama, when’s the rest of the snow gonna go away?”

But a much more positive way of thinking about it:  if this cold weather continues, I may actually get this sweater finished AND be able to wear it a few times before the weather warms up too much!

Leave a comment and tell me which you’d rather have:  more cool days for wearing your hand-knits or an early spring?

As much as I love my hand-knits, I think I’d have to say give me the early spring.