Just Look At The Flowers…

Last spring, I still had five rose bushes. I also had two puppies, who are 17 months (Oliver) and 19 months (Mozzie) today. By last fall, I had one rose bush, and it’s definitely the worse for wear. The other four are…gone. Not destroyed or torn up. Obliterated. The three-tier raised garden beds weren’t planted last year, because I’m not a total imbecile. The Direwolves decided the gardens were puppy jungle gyms, so I’ll be scavenging the boards for parts.

At any rate, I’m sticking to my deck rail planters and some large pots on the deck. And as it’s getting springy in eastern North Carolina, we made an outing to get some flowers today. It will be a while before they fill out, but it feels good to be doing something summery.

There are four of the rectangular rail planters and two of the round pots.

We also went to the craft store because the tiny row counter I had has decided to play hide and seek way too often, last night somehow getting completely under the recliner by my couch, way in the middle of the square wooden frame beneath it. I’d just about decided Oliver had eaten it. But I got a bigger one, the red object I sort of chopped out in the image below.

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The yarn is nothing special; I just liked the colors. I wish the one indie yarn shop in town hadn’t closed last year. Now that I’m knitting, I’d love some boutique and specialty yarns. With crochet, my projects tended to be larger scale, making fancy yarn cost-prohibitive.

With the plants planted, it’s time to work on my Rolling Meadows scarf. It’s about 10″ long so far. These images aren’t the best, because this scarf will need a good bit of blocking when done to show off the shape and pattern, so I just stretched it out so you could get an idea.

Information on the pattern and yarn used can be found HERE on yesterday’s post.

Thank goodness I don’t have to cook today! We have guests this weekend, and we went  out to lunch, and have a fridge full of leftover pizza from last night.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be butt-planted on the couch now, knitting and watching Doctor Who, until 9:00 when tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead starts. I host a live chat in a private Facebook group, so if you’re interested, send me a message on Facebook and ask me to add you!

New Project Time

I finally finished my first official knitted project, a fan and feather pattern scarf. It still needs to be blocked, which I’ll do in the next couple of days.

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Here it was as it was nearing completion. Definitely has mistakes in it, but I’m pretty happy with it.

And all you crafty types know what that means. A new project! I’m still a beginner, and while I want to do a lot of complex Celtic knot style cables, I’m not there yet.

I started work on a zigzag scarf, but it had a long repeat with complicated rows, nothing I couldn’t do, but we’re having company this weekend and I should try to be able to follow a conversation instead of laser-focusing on the pattern, so I chose the Rolling Meadows scarf, HERE.

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I’m using Chroma worsted yarn from Knit Picks, in “Drawing Room,” and I absolutely love the soft colors in this yarn.

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And here we go, the very beginning!

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In the past, I just did the easy, basic thumb cast-on, but yesterday I learned to do the long tail cast on, which I think will give me a nicer starting edge. It’s curling here, but that should smooth out when I eventually block it. I can’t wait to get to work on it today and get to where I can see the beautiful color blend begin to unfold.

I love to learn at least one new skill with each project, and in addition to the long tail cast on, for this one I also learned ssk (slip, slip, knit), which is a decrease stitch that leans the opposite way of k2tog. Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. 🙂

What are you working on this weekend? You can share photos with me on the Furwood Forest Facebook page. I’d love to see your current projects!

Knitting Right Along

I’m making significant progress on my first knitted scarf. I feel a little less like I need a couple of extra hands, or additional fingers on my original equipment hands, or that my existing ten fingers each need a few fingers of their own. I still have a long way to go before knitting is as natural to me as crocheting, but I have 40 years’ experience with crochet and only a few weeks knitting. The over-achieving perfectionist in me weeps at this realization.

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Getting long, but I want to be able to wrap it, so I have a way to go. I imagine I’ll see where I am when I finish this ball of yarn, then decide if it’s done.

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In this close-up, you can see the white crochet thread “lifeline.” One of my Facebook friends clued me in to this trick when I had a near-disaster. I’d finished a row and had a disturbingly wrong number of stitches, so I started working back to where I thought the error was, but bungled it to the point I didn’t know which stitches were really stitches and I thought I’d ruined the whole thing.

Fearing the worst, I went all last-ditch-effort and just pulled out a few rows, until I came to a spot where I thought I could see all the loops and meticulously, painfully, anxiously slipped each one onto the needle. Amazingly, it worked.

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Good thing, too, because my knit-picky nature will not accept the above as a valid belief system.

Now I’m using lifelines. When I complete a Row 1 in the pattern, I use a blunt needle and some crochet thread and slip it through each loop on the needle. Theoretically, if I screw up again and can’t fix it just by un-working a few stitches, I can pull out everything back to the lifeline, which since it goes through each stitch in the row, will keep me from losing the stitches, allowing me to slip them back on the needle and go from there.

The thought of having to do this makes me hyperventilate a little, but the first time it happens, I’m sure I’ll be glad I have this back-up plan in place.

It sure will save a lot of wailing and swearing and throwing of objects and stabbing-of-things-with-knitting-needles, which is a “win” in my book.

Yarn Stash Busted

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Either this is not true, or I’m not a lady. One of those.

As all yarnoholics know, parting with a single skein is akin to giving up a semi-major internal organ, and there’s always so much glorious new yarn to “adopt.” Lace weight, chunky, variegated, wool, bamboo, crochet thread, cotton, alpaca in all the colors of the rainbow.

First it’s a basket. Then a storage container. Then more storage containers and other random receptacles…until it’s out of control.

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been married for almost 35 years, and crocheted for62e1f42d3f808a79d7283d6a480605d5 around ten years before that. Lately, the stash had exploded from the walk-in closet in my office and begun to infiltrate every corner of the house. The couch in the office could barely be seen, there were baskets and bins on the floor, the breakfast bar looked like the discount table at the yarn shop, yarn was spilling off the end table in the family room, and I couldn’t close the lid of my storage ottoman.

I had four storage bins, two laundry baskets, a small wicker basket, a duffel bag, a few boxes, and the storage ottoman bursting with yarn.

Step One, get Handsome Husband to help me haul all the storage containers to the living  room.

Step Two, dump all yarn on the floor. This is reminiscent of what happened in fifth grade when a student’s desk was chronically messy. You’d come to school and discover Miss Vidas had dumped your desk contents on the floor, leaving you no option but to clean it up.

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This is after I filled a trash bag with odds and ends that were too small, tangled, or ratty even to donate to the thrift shop.

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Hello, Mount Yarn.

Step Three, commence to sortin’.

I started various piles. Cotton, lace/sock weight, worsted, crochet thread, chunky, sport weight…you yarnsters know the drill. This was especially necessary because I had partial balls or skeins of some yarns strewn throughout various locations, and I wanted to match them up so I knew if I had enough of a particular yarn to actually make anything.

Anything I didn’t totally love, or bought for things I never made, or didn’t have in enough quantity for a decent project went in the donation pile. I know people go to thrift shops for remnants or discarded yarn, either to make stashbuster projects, other small items, or to donate to charity.

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Big ol’ bag of donations. Included are two partial afghans which could be bound off where they are or finished.

Lots of yellow and orange. I hate yellow and orange. I bought multiple skeins, though, for some project or other that never got made.

Mozzie bolted at the rustle of the first plastic bag, because plastic bags are terrifying. He stayed in the bedroom throughout the process. Oliver, being a poodle, wasn’t about to miss a second, because poodles must observe, evaluate, consider, and process every single thing. Thankfully, he didn’t decide to help.

I applied the rule I give all my authors when I’m ordering them to drastically edit down their word count. Be ruthless. Be objective. You won’t even miss it once it’s gone. Great advice, but hard to follow.

Also, not great on my back, sitting hunched on the floor, crawling around from basket to basket, digging through the mound of assorted yarn. But that’s what ibuprofen is for.

Finally, after sorting through it all and encountering some projects I’d started–no lie–at least 25 years ago and putting sentimentality and unnecessary yarn aside, I reached Step Four, organization. This is what I had…

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Behold! A mere two storage bins! The top one has worsted weight and cotton. The bottom has fine and sport weight, crochet cotton, and a bag of assorted Caron Simply Soft. The storage ottoman, which lives in the family room where I spend 95% of my waking hours, has the favorites, new purchases like the glorious mandala yarn, my knit-kit and crochet gear, and the yarns I’m currently using. The two small boxes are the beautiful Chroma yarn I just bought for my first knitting projects.

And now I realize I have room for more yarn…and a coupon for 20% off from JoAnn’s.

Time To Unwind

For most of you, today is part of the weekend. As I’ve mentioned, though, publishing is a 24/7/365 business, so it’s rare to have any real downtime, but I turned in an edit yesterday, a day early. While I have to remain “on call” and monitor email for potential dumpster fires that need extinguishing, this is as close to a day off as I get.

Tom and I have a couple of big household chores we plan to tag-team tomorrow, but I’m more or less caught up for today. While I could get a head start on those tasks, I’ve decided to savor an afternoon with far fewer demands than usual.

Which means knitting and Doctor Who.

Since I’ve been knitting only a few weeks, this is my first official scarf, and only my second real project aside from practice swatches. It definitely has mistakes, but as I know from crochet, part of the learning curve is making mistakes and learning how to fix or minimize them. Overall, I’m happy with the progress.

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This is a feather and fan lace style knit scarf, and you can find this pattern HERE. I’m using Chroma Worsted Superwash Yarn by Knit Picks (70% wool, 30% nylon) in “Vermont.” I’m really loving this yarn!

Whatever you’re doing today, remember to take a little time to take care of yourself! We all need a little time to relax and indulge.