Monday, December 30, 2013

Yarn Review Monday 11: Madelinetosh DK (Worsted)

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

The yarn:
Madelinetosh DK (worsted)
225 yd/205.7 m
100% Merino wool
Mala colorway





The project: Stargazing shawlette (PDF link) (URL with link to PDF)
(photo true to color, subtle yet bright)


What I liked: Blocks out really nicely. Feels softer when you're wearing it than it does when you're knitting with it. I've never experienced that with yarn before now. Probably due to the higher quality of yarn, which is something I'm not used to working with. Very light, very warm.

What I didn't like: The cost! Also, until I blocked the shawl it was disappointingly small and while quite springy, I had some doubts about whether it would block to the correct size. (It did.)

Affordability: I paid $21 for one skein. This is way more than I care to spend but you definitely get what you pay for.

Rating:


Only because, you know, $$$. If I could afford to spend that much on yarn all the time I'd definitely give it five stars.






Previous yarn reviews:
Bernat Boa ( Eyelash yarn; "unofficial" yarn review)
Berroco Vintage (TM) Chunky
Caron Simply Soft Solids and Simply Soft Light
Cascade 220 Sport Weight
Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky Sprinkles
DGB Confetti
Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand
Paton's Classic Wool
Plymouth Yarns Galway (TM) Worsted
Regia Angora
Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand



Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December Love Your Library: Year End Review

I noticed Snapdragon Crafts has a year-end post up now, including the Library Challenge wrap up, so I thought I'd get a post in on how I did with her challenge.

These are the projects I completed this year with patterns that were in my library before January 1:



Below are library projects that I started but have yet to finish. The little coat is hibernating. The afghan is in a bag under my bed. It probably thinks it's been put in hibernation, but I just haven't had time to work on it lately:

 





I know I'll get even less knitting done next year since nursing school will be starting but as long as I set my bar even lower for next year....
I'm just kidding. A little.
Here are the rest of my Library Challenge posts:
January Goals
January Wrap-up
February Goals
February Wrap-up
March Goals 

April Goals
April Wrap-up/May goals
May Wrap-up
June Goals
June Wrap-Up/July Goals
July Wrap-Up
August/September Update
October Goals

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!
Not too much to say here today except that I'm relieved my knitting is done, wrapped, and opened.

And they actually fit too! He wore them all night last night and after we got home from Mass this morning he had them under his arm, carrying them around the house. Cracks me up.

My Christmas gift progress as of right now:
Saroyan for my sister
Saroyan for my mom
Saroyan for my M-i-L
Narcissa socks for a friend (1 sock done - Ravelry link for pictures)
Fred and George socks for my husband
Stargazing Shawlette for my sister in law

I'm so relieved I got the extra yarn on time, and got the toe finished in time. I really hope I did a decent enough job with the transition that it doesn't feel uncomfortable when he wears them.
I can take my time with that last sock since I won't be seeing my friend until after the new year. I'm seriously proud of myself for actually getting all those projects done on time.

My awesome husband fixed my tablet yet again. The connection wasn't good with the screen so that is why it wasn't working. It must have been knocked loose after he replaced it for me. This is how it went:

Haha. Just kidding. He's always pretending it's no big deal, even though I can tell he's irritated when I break something.

My mom loved the Saroyan scarf I gave her. I gave her the pinkish lavender one since it goes better with her winter coat.

My sister is getting the deep purple one, my mother in law, the ruby red one.
So far everyone has loved their hand knits. My mom said she hasn't stopped wearing hers since we did our Christmas celebrating with them Saturday.

Thank you for all the encouragement on my socks last week. You're all wonderful.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Knitting v. 4.0, or: I Hate Sock Knitting

So here's where I'm at with these %#&@ socks. I was chugging away happy as can be when I realized just how little yarn I have left.
 
In true yarn chicken fashion, I started knitting as fast as I possibly could. I ran out of yarn literally eight mother-$%&#ing rows from the bind off.
 
I ordered more yarn, which just so happened to be on sale.  A $3.12 skein that I am paying $9 for because one skein of yarn costs an arm and a leg to ship from Michigan to Wisconsin. For real, you guys, THAT is the reason I am pissed. I just wanted to get these done. To see my husband open this on Christmas and see that despite the fact that I $%#&@ hate knitting socks, I knit him an awesome pair and ideally, in this fantasy in my head, they fit perfectly.
 
So I'm just hoping I can get it before the weekend so I can sneak away from the hubby and finish the eight rows  and wrap it before Christmas.
 
Here are the link-ups for Wednesday WIPS.
 
Oh, the blue sock still had yarn leftover. I'm using the same brand of yarn and everything for both colors. I had to cut the green in the fair isle section in order to knit two at a time. I underestimated, had to add more green length to the top of the blue sock, and the loose ends were just enough to screw me on the second sock. [Insert more profanities here]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just a Check-In: Christmas Knitting 3.0

Don't worry. I haven't gone AWOL. I'm just posting a photo from last week since I think the last time you saw my husband's Christmas socks I had only just finished the fair isle sections on both. The photo itself is from last Wednesday night. Monday night was my first opportunity to use a functional computer so I was actually able to upload a photo. (My phone won't let me do that...)

On Sunday afternoon I turned the heel on the green sock but could not begin the circular knitting again since the men were present for the rest of the evening. Then I forgot my knitting bag at the in-laws...

I'm starting to feel less stressed out about getting these done. I've only got half a sock left to absolutely finish by Christmas. Then all I'll have left is the second sock for my friend which I intend to finish before I start nursing school on the 13th of January. All the lace on her socks makes for slow going what with my hand cramping problems but I think the goal is attainable.


http://www.gsheller.com/2013/12/yarn-along-156.html



Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon

Well, I hate to say this but I'm once again in possession of a tablet that doesn't work. I had a couple hours to get excited and then let it charge for a day. When I got home it wouldn't turn on or emergency boot.

So once again, I won't be blogging until these issues are all sorted out. It is a huge pain to write on my phone and when I use my phone I can't upload photos.
Please bear with me and my knack for destroying technology.

Have a wonderful Advent season. Today is the first day of Advent . And good luck with all the Christmas and other gift knitting you're all rushing to finish.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I'm Back!

Hello readers. I apologize for two weeks of silence here. While I have a very small amount of dedicated readers, I must say that you're all wonderful and a big THANK YOU for hanging in there. I also reached over 10,000 page views in my absence so thank you for that as well.

This time around, I did a system update on my tablet that ended up crashing it and rendering it incapable of turning on. I rock at technology. HAHA. So once again my wonderful husband swooped in, worked his programming magic, and here I am again. So if you were anxiously awaiting my return, thank my husband.

Happy  Thanksgiving to you all! Have a very relaxed and blessed day. I hope everyone finds so much to be grateful for this year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Yarn Review Monday 10: Regia Angora

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

I finally have a Yarn Review post for you. My excuse is that my tot smashed my tablet screen, causing the touch screen to stop working.  Since this is my primary and preferred computing device, I took a break from everything for the entire month of October. This review has been in the works weeks before I finished the sweater though (October 8, thank you Ravelry for keeping track of things).
So without further adieu, I give you the first yarn review since September!

The yarn: 
Regia angora merino
10% angora
25% nylon
65% merino


The project: The body of my first fair isle sweater, made for myself.

 


What I liked: I loved how soft it was in the skein and during the knitting. The yarn itself is very beautiful and I love how nicely it knit up with the Lanett Babylull and the Malabrigo.



What I didn't like: It is depressingly scratchy against bare skin. Feels nice in my hands but once I put the sweater on I was itching like crazy. So the little amount of angora did nothing, or maybe I discovered I actually do have allergies...
Also, there's not a lot of stretch to it. It didn't change size much when blocked. If I had known the sweater pastern would be so form fitting I would have either used different yarn or made the next size up. Or made a gauge swatch...

Where you can buy it: I bought 4 skeins at a local yarn shop, well, not so local for me but it was at the Lakeville, MN store Yarn Palette.

Affordability: I purchased mine for $10/skein. This is on the higher end for my budget.

Overall rating:
I think this would do really well as socks, smaller accessories and shawls since there is less contact with bare skin that way. I really couldn't believe how scratchy it felt against my bare skin. Maybe I'm just getting sensitive. I don't know. 
 


Previous Yarn Reviews:
Bernat Boa ( Eyelash yarn; "unofficial" yarn review)
Berroco Vintage (TM) Chunky
Caron Simply Soft Solids and Simply Soft Light
Cascade 220 Sport Weight
Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky Sprinkles
DGB Confetti
Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand
Paton's Classic Wool
Plymouth Yarns Galway (TM) Worsted
Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas Knitting v. 2.0

I think I've figured out how to get all your Christmas gifts done by Christmas.
The second after you resolve to knit gifts, cast on. I don't care if it's December 24, the first day of school for your kids in September, our if it isn't even Easter yet.
This has worked for me so far. People started asking me to knit them socks (ugh...) and as soon as I decided to actually do it (1-3 months later) I cast on. I'm making great time too.
I have a persistent three year old who keeps asking me what I'm making, and when I tell him I'm "making socks for Daddy" he always replies "You making socks for me Mommy? Socks for me?!" To which I reply, No. Might sound mean but this kid has a sharp memory and I don't want him disappointed if I can't actually make some for him. So I think if I still have time I'll have to make a pair of socks to go with the sweater I also made for him as a Christmas gift. I have almost three full skeins of the DGB left from it.

The blue is more accurate but the green looks more
like a kelly green than lime like in the photo.

My Christmas gift progress as of right now:
Saroyan for my sister
Saroyan for my mom
Saroyan for my M-i-L
Narcissa socks for a friend (1 sock done - Ravelry link for pictures)
Fred and George socks for my husband
Stargazing Shawlette for my sister in law

Post blocking, with the extra length I am loving this!
Wish my lighting wasn't so bad so the colors could be accurate.
I must say this: the Stargazer for my sister in law is so so perfect. That was my first experience using Madtosh and I was annoyed and unimpressed about the size of the finished shawl and how it hung. However, after blocking, the thing is the perfect size. It drapes beautifully. She's been having it rough lately so I hope that this perfect shawl puts a smile on her face. She totally deserves it and I don't think I could be more excited about giving an expensive handknit away. Plus, she's been wearing a lot of silk scarves lately so I know it will be loved and worn.

See more beautiful projects by clicking below:
     

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

Just a reminder that today is Veteran's Day. If you don't know any vets, take time to appreciate what the armed services do for you every day. Visit a cemetery and pray for the souls of the deceased vets. They put their lives on the line for us so we can continue living they way we want. You don't need to agree with what they do to appreciate the sacrifices they make for you.

The last time I went on vacation with my mom I was flying out East to visit family. It was August of 2008. I don't remember the exact date. We took the MSP airport. While walking to our terminal we passed a huge group of uniformed individuals waiting at a terminal. They were watching the people go by. I waved, along with a couple random strangers around me, and these men and women immediately began jumping up and down, cheering, and waving.
I couldn't help but cry. I couldn't help but think about how happy all those people were, because they were going to fight for me, so that I can live the way I want, and they had no idea who I was. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of dying for someone I didn't know.
If someone from that group is reading this, that was the first time it really hit me, the first time it really sunk in what you do for us. I am so thankful for that.

Many people blame the troops for unjust wars, and they only see political lines when wars are fought. I'd like to believe this doesn't happen anymore but I would just be kidding myself. If that's you, put all the political issues aside and just think about someone else standing up for you, leaving their families for months and years at a time, witnessing terrible, atrocious things during wartime, so you don't have to.
Their suffering doesn't end when they get home. The injuries, the PTSD, the difficulty getting back into normal society, are all things the servicemen and women are willing to suffer with for you, so you can live a normal life.
The armed services are not about politics. The armed services are about defending our personal freedoms and our Constitution.

Thank you, veterans, for the sacrifices you have made for me. It does not go unappreciated or unnoticed.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm on a Roll!

I think I broke a personal record this week. I have not one, not two, but three finished projects this week!

They are all what I like to call One-Skein Wonders.
First, the Saroyan scarves:

Which I know you saw on Wednesday.
And now, the Stargazing Shawlette:

I seem to have an uncanny ability to wear scrub tops that match my
shawls whenever I actually finish them... See my FO page for the first one.

I tried to minimize the curling of the bottom point by increasing in the garter stitch border, and even though it still curls I literally just cast off so I'm guessing blocking it will fix that.
The thing is also G*d awful short. If blocking doesn't help enough I'll have to buy a shawl pin for it too. I know this is the season of giving but I get aggravated when I spring for freakin' Madelinetosh and follow the directions to a T, and things turn out the exact opposite of what I thought.

At least the photo kept the colors true this time. I loved the color way (Mala).

So in the Christmas knitting line up, I can cross another gift of my list.
Saroyan for my sister
Saroyan for my mom
Saroyan for my M-i-L
Narcissa socks for a friend (1 sock done - Ravelry link for pictures)
Fred and George socks for my husband
Stargazing for my S-i-L

See more finished projects by clicking below!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Marathon

I feel like I've been on a knitting marathon lately...
Mostly because my new tablet screen just came in the mail/got replaced by my awesome technically-inclined husband on Saturday/Sunday. So I haven't had computer related distractions from getting this knitting done.


I finished both the second and third (of three) Saroyan scarves that I'm giving away as Christmas gifts this year. I made them narrower and slightly shorter than the pattern instructs. If you want those details, they are all on my Ravelry page. The two projects are combined since I knit them at the same time. They just need the end woven in and a good block.

I am also working on the next Christmas gift in the lineup, the Stargazing Shawlette, which is also a free pattern on Ravelry.

My Christmas gift progress as of right now:
Saroyan for my sister
Saroyan for my mom
Saroyan for my M-i-L
Narcissa socks for a friend (1 sock done - Ravelry link for pictures)
Fred and George socks for my husband
Stargazing Shawlette for my sister in law

For one month of work I think I'm making good time with all this gift knitting. The one sock took almost the entire month of October though, so I think I'm going to save the second Narcissa sock for the very end of my gift knitting. I also need to figure out how to knit two socks at a time so that I can get my husband's socks done faster.

See more beautiful projects by clicking below:
  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Christmas Gifts: An FO

I finally have an FO for you guys.
This is the Saroyan. It is a free Ravelry pattern.

 
I think the pattern is really beautiful. This is a photo post-block and will end up as a Christmas gift for one of the women in my family that I decided to knit for this year.  I made the scarf half as wide as the pattern calls for, and the increase and decrease tapered ends are 3 leaves long instead of six. Both adjustments were made due to yarn supply. Or lack thereof.
This is a fast, easy knit and I have two more on the needles, one in ruby red and one in a light rose.

See more gorgeous finished projects by clicking below.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A New Obsession: Tundra Elements

You guys. For real. I am totally obsessed with the designs from the Tundra Elements collection of sweaters designed by Maura Kirk.
How bad is it, you ask? I keep going on Ravelry hoping more people have started more projects for me to look at and read about( which hasn't happened.) I keep gazing wistfully at the back cover of my Harry Potter Knits magazine at the ad for the designs wishing I had that pattern book that on my lap, on the table in front of me also.

(Gotta love a good old Rav screenshot, right?!)
I can't decide which sweater I would make first. I'm not a fan of huge collars like the ones on Dragonslark or Sugarcane Island, but they aren't any less appealing to me either. I am torn between the Echo Lodge, Luckiest Day, and Reality Machine sweaters. So cozy looking. So perfect for Wisconsin winters. And edgy designs.

I even added the book to my husband's Amazon cart. (Can we say subliminal messaging? Haha!) Now, can someone tell my husband to buy me an early Christmas present?!

Disclaimer: I was NOT asked to review this, discuss, or was compensated or offered anything for this post by the designer, publishing company, or yarn company mentioned.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Slow Going

I still don't have a new screen on my computer but I'll suffer through writing on my phone this week.

I'm still working on the sock I started the first week of the month. I've been so busy this month I'm actually preferring to sleep and be with the family rather than knit in my free time. Crazy, I know. It is a Rachel Coopey pattern from the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine. The pattern is the Narcissa Socks.

Also, it has probably been going slow because I hate making socks and I have two pair (including these) to make for Christmas this year. The lace is beautiful but it cramps my hands and slows me down.

I also cast on for hats since Halloween is going to be frigid by the looks of it this year. I picked up hairspray for costumes this week but, um $$ and cold vs. knit a hat? Yeah. Knitting the hats.
As you can see I am also lacking in basic photo shop too this week as a result of the aforementioned issues.

I also don't think I've picked up a book in six weeks or more. So no reading recommendations here this week.Even my daily Catechism emails are done so I'm really not reading anything.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Things will be quiet around here for a while since my computer was broken last week and needs major repairs.
My only access to this is via cell phone at the moment and that is a pain and a half so I'm just taking a break.
That being said, I'll keep projects updated on my Ravelry account, linked to at right ------>
Thanks, and happy knitting.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Another Book

I started and finished reading a book on Sunday night that I found at my parents' house. It was in a stack of my brother's college reading material that was in a donate/get rid of pile.

Persepolis is a memoir by Marjane Satrapi about a woman who was born in and raised in Iran until her parents sent her to Austria when she was fourteen. It was a quick read because it is written in a comic strip form, although very far from comedic. She depicts a childhood full of political uncertainty, although her parents were very loving, supportive, and provided her with a stable life. She includes the changes in their neighbors and personal lives once the government was taken over by Muslim extremists.

She has written two other books and I think I might look into them. I've read other books, fictional, about Middle Eastern life as depicted by authors born and raised in the situations they are writing about. I guess I'm not really sure why I am so interested in the subject, since I have no connection to anything related.

As far as knitting goes, Christmas gifts are on the needles, and since a few others reminded us all last week that it is "Socktober" I figured I'd knit along. I've got a couple people who have requested socks from me so despite my dislike for them, here I am making more. Also still blocking the fair isle sweater I finished on Saturday.

Click on the buttons below for more projects and book recommendations:

  



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Answered Prayers

I don't usually share about my personal life on here but since I have requested prayers from anyone who actually reads me, I think you deserve this post. And since timing coincides with this link-up, here is a more personal one.

But you'll have to scroll through the fluff first. Hahaha.
We got a cat at the beginning of last month. First we named her Alexandria. But it didn't fit well and it was too hard for our son to say, so we renamed her Rosie. It was my idea. Since the boys are named after saints, I figured the cat should be too. I thought Rosie would work, after the "Little Rose," Terese of Liseux.

We have a pocket gopher problem and they've been slowly spreading over the last month. But it makes for great geological dig sites for the boys, so I can't complain too much.

Of course, you have to love a good crisp morning walk.

And finally, the answer to many prayers from me, my friends and family:

A friend who also got in said, "I keep waiting for my acceptance letter to self destruct after reading." I feel the same. I know I still have two years before this is all said and done, but my job exhausts me. Psychology is not and never was for me. I have lost my charitable attitude towards my patients. I'm tired of getting peed on, pooped on, bit, hit, punched, kicked, and a first from the weekend, the back of my neck strangled. I'm tired of being a pion at work, and I know that when I'm an RN I will never take the aids I have to work with for granted. And yes, I know these things are all just as likely to happen to me as an RN too. But this weekend, while helping a patient clean up in the bathroom, the patient grabbed me by the back of the neck and let me tell you, it was the most painful thing I've yet put up with at work. The person can't help it due to their diagnosis, but for cripes sake, my charge nurse acted like it didn't matter because "[they were] hallucinating."

I have no patience left for my kids when I get home in the morning. It has gotten to the point where my son repeatedly tells me "Mommy, I sorry for making you mad" almost every day that follows a work night, despite the fact that I cut back on my hours in August. I can't stand that. My boys deserve so much better than a mother who is on edge and upset all the time. So much prayer over the last year has been devoted to receiving this letter, with those words, that when I opened the mail the other day I actually cried. And I swear to you, I'm not a crier. All the stress, all the emotional struggles from work, the knowledge that I have something to actually look forward to, just caught up with me. I didn't even cry after my kids were born...so this means a lot.
Catch The Moment

Monday, October 7, 2013

Applesauce

Spring buds


Early summer blossoms

First fruits
From our other tree

My applesauce recipe:
Take apples, core and skin them, and boil in minimal water. I do this as I pick them, and freeze them, so I don't usually add water since the ice adds water when cooked.

After apples have softened, remove from stove and carefully begin puréeing in a leak proof blender (also why I don't use a food processor for this).
My blending setup


Place applesauce back on stove and add spices to your preferred tastes. I don't add sugar but otherwise I like my applesauce to taste like pureed apple pie filling, so this year I added 1/3 cup of cinnamon, and sprinkled the batch with a little nutmeg and a little cloves. Even for me that was more cinnamon than I prefer.
I like to can on a tray because messes clean up easier
and I can just rotate the jars instead of shifting them around when they're hot.

Pour into hot, washed canning jars to half an inch from top, remove air and put a hot washed lid and ring on. I always take a clean rag to the lip of the jar to make sure there will be a tight seal after processing.

I process according to the Ball Blue Book Guide, for twenty minutes in a hot water bath. However, look up the specific instructions to get it right. My jars overflowed the first time I processed them because I didn't measure the 1/2" allowance correctly, and probably didn't get enough air out. I ended up getting new lids and doing it again.

My eight-quart pot, which was full, fit into only 6 1/2 quarts. Please, Maths, explain that one to me. And no, I didn't eat the other quart and a half.

So there you go. I've got applesauce.