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Ripping Back

May 30, 2013

Mistakes happen. Mistakes happen a lot. Even though we can try our best and have the noblest of intentions, we are bound to mess up. Some of the mistakes we make are little: a misspoken word here, a forgotten phone call there, a failure to write down a number correctly. These are mistakes that, while we can’t go back and undo them, are easily correctible. An apology, an excuse, a rewrite. There are also the mistakes that are not easily repaired. These are the big ones. These are the ones that lead to permanent scars, to broken hearts, to destroyed lives. We all, each and every one of us, bear the marks of some of our mistakes. Some we carry on the outside, scars to show what we have been through, while some are worn on the inside, known only to us, but no less painful. Our mistakes define us, drive us, make us who we are.

In life, you can never undo something that you have done. You can’t go back in time and change things that have already come to pass. You can spend your future trying to right the wrongs and never make the same mistakes again but you can never erase the ones that have already happened. Life moves only one way. There are no directions, no road maps, no GPS. You are on your own to navigate your way though your life and try not to mess things up too much.

This isn’t the case with knitting. It’s one of the reasons I love knitting so much.

When you knit, you start with two very basic things. Sticks and string. They might be $200 silver tip Signature needles and qiviut, but in the end, its only sticks and string. We use those sticks and string to create something. Usually there is a pattern to follow. Our path is laid out before us and all we have to do it follow it. Some patterns will give you a basic guideline of what you are making and some give you stitch by stich instructions for the entire thing. Your entire way is spelled out for you and all you have to do is follow it.

Even with the careful instructions, sometimes you still make a mistake. A symbol is misread, a stitch is missed. In knitting, it doesn’t matter. Everything is correctable. If you made a mistake a few stitches before and have caught it quickly, all that is needed is for a few stitches to be carefully tinked back. (TINK is KNIT, backwards. Awesome, right?) Did you mis-cross a cable three rows before? No worries, you can drop down those stitches and carefully work them back up in the correct direction. Drop a stitch? Grab your crochet needle and pick the stitch back up. Forget the waist decreases? You can pull the needles out of the knitting, rip back to the row before the decreases were supposed to have started, rethread your needles and away you go. Easy peasy. In knitting you can even have a contingency plan just IN CASE a mistake should be made. You can thread a life line, whether it be a spare piece of yarn or a spare needle through a row that you know is correct and should you make a mistake later on, you can rip back to that line and not lose any more of you knitting than you absolutely have to.

Even if you make a mistake and don’t catch it until you are finished with the project, you can still fix it. Forgot to switch a color on some colorwork? A simple duplicate stitch over the offending area will take care of that. Cables can be stitched up to look like they are in the correct direction, holes can be cinched up, even the most unevenly knit items can undergo miracle transformations thanks to a good blocking.

What do you do when you have messed up something so bad that there is no way it is going to end up being what you want? What if, despite your best efforts, there is no way to easily save that sweater? While painful, the answer is simple. You take the needles out and you unravel then entire thing. You frog that project and reclaim the yarn. Once you have rewashed and reskeined your yarn, it is like the project never even existed. All that is left are two sticks and some string. All your mistakes have been washed clean and you have fresh start. Yes, you have lost time and perhaps some hair if you knit like I do, but what is that compared to the promise of a brand new start?

Life doesn’t offer you a guaranteed fresh start, but knitting does. Knitting lets you find out what you can and cannot accept. I have frogged countless projects throughout the years. Some have been because my gauge has been completely off, some because I couldn’t get the hang of the pattern, some because I didn’t like how the yarn knit up in the project, some I just got tired of. None of those mistakes affected me personally. It was just yarn. It can be started again.

Sometimes though . . . sometimes I leave the mistakes where they are. I am not perfect. I have made a lot mistakes in my life. I bear the scars of those mistakes. Why should my knitting be any different? Most of the mistakes that I leave in are so small that only I am going to know that they are there. In the end, I still have something beautiful, useful and made by hand. The only people that are going to see where I have messed up are other knitters. If these knitters are anything like me, I think that they will understand. We all make mistakes. Yarn forgives them all. If only life worked like knitting does.

Security Blankets

May 2, 2013

When my children were little, they loved their stuffed animals. My eldest had a lamb with a bell in its belly. He fell so in love with that stuffed animal that by the time he was 6 months old he was never parted from it. There was a night that I had to drive 3 hours to retrieve that lamb from a restaurant where he left it and then three hours home to deliver it to him. During those 6 hours, through the middle of the night, he stayed awake the entire time crying and driving his grandmother nuts. My younger two children were the same way with their stuffed animals. They dragged them around everywhere, slept with them, ate with them, curled up in their car seats with them.

Now that they are older, they have forgotten about those precious stuffed animals. They have changed their allegiances to blankets. It doesn’t matter if it is the middle of summer or the dead of winter, they have their blankets. When they get up in the morning, they wrap themselves up in blankets and shuffle out into the house. They eat their breakfasts wrapped up in blankets, watch tv in their blankets, go to the bathroom with their blankets . . . and I, I spend all day following behind these darling children, picking up and refolding blankets, washing blankets, putting away blankets. I don’t even know how many blankets we have in our house anymore. They keep multiplying. There is a pile of them in the basement that we keep for sleepovers and it must be at least four feet high when they are all folded and piled up.

Why talk about blankets? Well, here in the Midwest spring doesn’t seem to be a season anymore. Here it is, the FIRST day of MAY, and there is a winter snow warning.  We had two?  three? snow storms in the month of April.  I am still waiting for green grass.  In short, perfect blanket weather.


Add to that the fact that I have an overflowing stash and a newly found desire to curb both my yarn buying habit and my stash size and, yep, you guessed it, I am knitting a blanket. Ironic, isn’t it? We have a house full of blankets and I have embarked on a blanket knitting quest. Something, as my darling daughter recently pointed out to me as she tried to hide the bag that contained the blanket, I swore I would never do. “Who would spend all that time knitting a blanket?” I would protest. “Who would use all that precious yarn on a blanket?”

Yet, here I am, using up partial ball after ball of worsted weight, 100% wool yarn, for a monster of a blanket. In all garter stitch no less. Can you imagine? I have knitted more than 1000 grams of yarn and have three feet of blanket to show for it. Am I daft?

Or it is possible that I need some security too? Perhaps there is something inherently comforting about knitting mile after mile on a blanket that has no intention of ending any time soon. Unlike a lacy shawl, there is no chance of messing up the pattern. There are no yarn overs or decreases that you might miss. There are no pattern repeats to count. There is no chance of spending all of your time and energy knitting an extensively cabled sweater only to have it not fit. There is just garter stitch. Miles and miles of garter stitch. Something to keep your hands occupied as you gaze out the window at snow and ice and rain, when there should be sunshine and spring flowers.

I guess my children are smarter than I give them credit for. We all have the need to wrap ourselves in the comfort of softness and warmth sometimes.


Enough With Planning!

May 1, 2013

We all know them. They are everywhere. Those super organized, beautifully put together people. They are the ones who make this world run on time. They make check lists. They have color coded calendars. They arrive at places on time, or EARLY even. They have their stuff together. They are not me.

My husband is a planner. Hell, the word is part of his job description and all of his personality. He makes lists. He makes lists of his lists. (I know one exists, even though I haven’t found it yet. I just KNOW it.) He writes menus and grocery lists and packing lists and to do lists and he follows those lists. When he packs, he is methodical. He starts at his feet and works up to his head. Socks, underwear, pants . . . It is all neatly folded and placed in the suitcase logically. Everything has a place and entry on the list and everything is put in its place and checked off his list. The way everything works together and gets done is a thing of beauty. His calendar is planned down to the minute and he is early for everything. His world runs smoothly. With one little exception.


I am not a planner. I am not even remotely close to being a planner. I am a free wheeling, fly by the seat of my pants kind of person. I hate lists. I rarely make them. Believe me, I have tried. I carefully make a list of the things I am going to get finished and then something comes up and I have to deviate from my list and that one thing lead to another thing and then, three hours later, my list is still sitting there undone, MOCKING me, and I give up, tear it up and go back to my way of doing things.

Packing is an adventure for me. I make a pile of the things I want to take, weed through the pile, add more things to the pile, etc., until it is the last minute and I have to throw things into a suitcase and pray. I am very good at finding a Target in whatever city I go to.

I am rarely early for anything. I was two weeks late being born and I haven’t gotten much better in the ensuing 3+ decades. Who would want to be EARLY for goodness sake? I’ve got other things to do. I am horrible at grocery shopping, always coming home with things that looked good but forgetting necessities like eggs and milk. In the mornings, I leave my house without my cell phone or car keys at least three times a week and then forget them AGAIN when I leave work to go home. I use recipes more as guides that actually road maps of how to cook, constantly adding or subtracting ingredients. Instructions are optional for me.

It all works out in the end. The darling husband does the planning, I keep things interesting and colorful. He plans the wedding, I pick out the flowers and cake. He makes the travel arrangements, I take the pictures (if I have remembered to pack a camera. . . ) He writes the weekend to do lists on the white board and I draw smiley faces. When he is out of town, things can get a little crazy around the house but pizza three nights a week can’t be all that bad, can it?

OK. Maybe I could be a little better about things. My eldest child is legally an adult. Perhaps it was time for me to act like one as well.

In the beginning of December, I raided my stash and decided to start a sweater. I picked the Audrey In Unst and found 4 skeins of DK weight yarn in my stash with enough yardage for the size I was going to knit. I wanted a new sweater to wear when I traveled to New York City later that month. Needless to say, I didn’t finish the sweater on time to bring it to NYC (it was crushing to learn that I couldn’t knit a sweater in a week and a half. Who knew?) This didn’t diminish my love for the pattern or the yarn. I returned to working on it as soon as I got home and rapidly finished the body and sleeves in quick succession. All that was left were the button bands and neckband, a simple I-cord bind off. There was just one problem. I had a teeny, tiny ball of yarn left. Less than 12 grams to be precise. Now, I had knit button bands before. I knew that they took more yarn than you think they are going to. Especially this one, which was a twisted rib band. There was nothing left to do but admit defeat, put the sweater down and order another skein of yarn to finish.

The yarn I was using was from a small, independent dyer. This particular retailer dyes to order so you can order a particular base and a particular color. While this is fabulous in that you can get any yarn and any color you want, it does mean that it takes a long time to get your yarn because everything is dyed to order. I knew I was in for a wait of at least a month so I packed up my sweater, my little ball of yarn and the pattern and started on something new.

January went by and no yarn had come yet. During one of my stash tidying sessions I came across the swatch I had knit to check my gauge. I was shocked not only to find the swatch but that I had actually KNIT a swatch to begin with. Again, I am not a planner. Swatching equates planning in my book. Foreign concept. A light bulb went off in my head and I quickly unraveled the swatch, washed it, let it dry and wound it up into its own little ball. I had an additional 6 grams of yarn. I pulled out the project bag and set everything out with the intent of starting on the bands. Then I stopped. I couldn’t possibly have enough yarn to do button bands. 18 grams of yarn was not enough. What if I started on the bands and ran out of yarn? What if, when I finally received the yarn it was a different share of the color I had used for the rest of the sweater? Two slightly off bands would be fine, but not one and one. NO. I had to be patient. I put the project away and waited.

February went by and still no yarn. I wanted my sweater, darn it! I started calling yarn shops that carried the yarn line I was using. No one I talked to had my color on my yarn in stock. Some had companion colorways to my color. I drove to Minneapolis and bought one of those. When I got home I decided not to use it because then I couldn’t use the buttons I had purchased in New York for the sweater. I drove 40 minutes north to a different store the next day because they thought they had a skein but it was missing a label. It wasn’t the right color. My sweater sat. And sat.

March went by. Still no yarn. I knit a different sweater. It was a wonderful sweater, but it wasn’t the sweater I wanted. I kept looking at those two little balls of yarn, mentally calculating how much yarn I might need . . . No. I was going to do this correctly. I was going to make a sweater I was proud of. I was going to control myself and not just rush into something, the heck with the consequences. I was going to be a good, patient, conscientious knitter.

April came. I started knitting a shawl. Still no yarn. Still no sweater. I posted messages on the ISO boards on Ravelry, I haunted the yarn shops. I sent emails and was assured it wouldn’t be much longer for my yarn. I went to New York City again. When I got home, a surprise awaited me. FINALLY. My yarn was here. Just as I suspected, the color was a tiny bit different that the original color of the sweater. Not enough for anyone but me to notice, but enough that I felt vindicated for waiting.

Last night I finally picked up the sweater and began the task of picking up stitches for the button bands. In reading the pattern I learned that the button bands for this sweater were only six rows of stitching. Less than an inch of band. That might have been a good thing to figure out, oh, maybe two months ago when I was looking at my small balls of yarn. As I went to join the yarn and start knitting on the bands my hands went to the two small balls of left over yarn I had, not the new skein. I had to know. I just had to.

ball 1

I knit that first button band. I used the bigger of the two balls of yarn, the 12 gram one. After 6 rows of 105 twisted rib stitches and a purlwise bind off, I had this left.

ball 5

Throwing caution to the wind, I started on the second band. I worked the band, worked the button holes, bound off and ended with this.

ball 4

I started the neck band. Knit about 2 inches of I-cord, ran out of yarn on the first ball and joined the second one. I took a big breath and knit on.

And then . .

end of ball


I can’t believe it. I tried to change my ways. I tried to plan out something, to be careful and logical and precise. I waited and I controlled myself and I did all the things I should do. I didn’t throw caution to the wind and you know what happened? It bit me in the ass. I could have had my sweater months ago if I had just done what I normally do and charge into things without once stopping to consider the consequences. But no. I was trying to be a better person.

Enough yarn. I still can’t get over it.

I am casting on for another sweater tonight. Using stash yarn. In a discontinued colorway. I’m about 150 yards short of what the pattern calls for. It’s a fingering weight.

I am taking the kids to Palm Springs on Friday for a long weekend in the sun while Dad is at his conference. We are meeting him there as he has been travelling all week. We haven’t packed yet. None of the kids have shorts or a swimsuit that still fits them from last year.

I think I’ll order pizza tonight.

What’s the worst that could happen?

I bet you could make me a list.

Personal tests

April 29, 2013

I love how we, as humans, catergorize things. We group, we classify, we sort. Things are put into their place by colors, sizes, shapes, smells, tastes, sounds and textures. It is logical. It takes what could be a chaotic world and neatly breaks it down into manageable pieces. Everything is classified one way or another, including us. Gender, race, age, size, shape, personality . . . We can split ourselves up into so many different ways.

I am often amazed at how people have managed to take something as subjective as our personalities and sort us into groups. Personalities! The ways we think, feel, talk, act, communicate, things that vary widely from day to day, but can also be predicted and analyzed. Of the many ways of classifying personalities, probably one of the best known ways is with the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI uses a series of questions to measure psychological preferences in people’s perceptions of the world and how they make decisions based on these perceptions, using the principles originally put forth by Carl Gustav Jung in his 1921 book Phychological Types. Without getting into a lot of detail, of which I will freely admit know very little about and remember even less from my college psych course, after answering the questions you are placed in different groups, based on the dichotomies of your personality. The dichotomies are as follows:


Extraversion (E) –

(I) Introversion

Sensing (S) –

(N) Intuition

Thinking (T) –

(F) Feeling

Judging (J) –

(P) Perception

Last year, at a conference my husband was attending, the BMTI was referenced in one of the sessions. My husband took the quiz and figured out his personality and then took the quiz again to figure out mine, nice fellow that he was. How well does he know me? I took it again myself and got the very same result. He is I (Introversion) N (Intuition) T (Thinking) J (Judging). Me? E (Extraversion) S (Sensing) F(Feeling) P(Perception). We are the exact opposite of each other. EXACT OPPOSITE. Crazy. I am not going to mess with it though. We have been going strong for over a decade and a half show no signs of slowing down yet.

I am sure you are wondering why am I bringing up all this mumbo jumbo about personalities. Knitting, what else?

According to the BMTI, my attitude is one of Extraversion. This means that I am “outward-turning” and socially orientated. While this is true in a lot of my daily activity, it is not true in my knitting. I am primarily a solitary knitter. I don’t have a knitting group, I don’t go to knit night, I am not a member of any local Stitch n Bitch group or knitting circles. Even though I am a Knitting Guild member, I have never been to a meeting. When I knit, I am usually by myself, listening to podcasts or audio books or watching a hockey game with my husband on the couch. I will knit at the cabin with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law when they are there, and sometimes a good friend of the family or another family member will come over and we will knit together. Aside from that, I don’t actively seek out a group to join. I have been content to knit by myself and not worry about it.

This past weekend was Yarnover, put on by the Minnesota Knitting Guild, and FiberFest, hosted by Steven Be. For the first time, Mom and I signed up for classes. On Saturday, we took the class European Finishing techniques, taught by Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits. It was wonderful! I could rave on and on about the things I learned in her class. Simple things, techniques that I thought I knew, things I thought were commonplace in my knitting. I would tell you more but I think you should just go and take her class. NOW. There is something so magical when that giant lightbulb goes off above your head and you learn an entirely new way of picking up stitches for a button band that simplifies your knitting life so profoundly. Truly, deeply, amazingly magical I tell you. I also got to get know a local dyer that I had done a test knit for, help her husband buy her a Gleener (AMAZING TOOL!), learned that stainless steel yarn was pretty cool stuff and not as crazy as I assumed it would be, bought a kit to knit myself a beaded wire necklace and won a door prize of some silk sari art yarn.

On Sunday, Mom and I took Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class “Knitting for Speed and Efficiency” through Fiberfest. I have been reading the Yarn Harlot blog for years and have always wanted to take a class from her. Finally here was my chance. She more than lived up to my hopes for how she was in person and how the class would go. I am going to need several days to process all that I learned and start taking a critical look the hows and whys of the way I knit and see if there are things I can do to make my knitting more efficient and productive. After the class, we had lunch in the lobby and chatted with Stephanie about snow and ice and personality types.

While the things I learned in these classes were wonderful, they weren’t what really stuck with me about the weekend. I spent a great part of my weekend in the company of other knitters. Other people who feel the same way about yarn and needles as I do. People who know what an SSK is and what is so wonderful about alpaca. People who don’t look at you askance when you pull out a half knit sock and start knitting away on it, even if you are in the middle of a lobby. Women of all shapes and sizes were represented. Women with tattoos of yarn and needles, wearing knitted jewelry, old women, young women, women from all social economic backgrounds. There were men too. Vendors and husbands and knitters and designers. Men who loved the craft as much as the women or men who loved their women so much that they were more than willing to go to a fiber fair and carry bags or hold babies.

On Sunday night, Mom and I bought last minute tickets and went to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s closing night talk at Fiberfest. It was such a fun atmosphere. I was in an auditorium filled with people who loved knitting as much, or probably more, than I did. They were so enthusiastic about their craft. The Yarn Harlot was amazing. It was so much fun to listen to her talk about knitting. How it wasn’t just something that you did, but a part of who you were. I sat next to Stephen West of the West Knits and watched him knit on a shawl. I saw women laugh and smile and enjoy the night and be proud of the things they wore that they had created with their own hands. These were beautiful, crazy, elegant, simple, large and small things, from shawls to sweaters to cowls to socks. Things that were made the same way I make them. Two needles, a string and one stitch at a time.

Knitters are fun. Knitters are wild. Knitters are crazy. Knitters are creative and enthusiastic and kind and generous and supportive. Knitters are like me and so unlike me at the same time. I think it might be time to put that E (Extraversion) part of my personality to work and go and meet some of these knitters a little better. Even though I know I get a lot more done staying at home and knitting alone, perhaps it’s time to venture beyond that safe little world. Perhaps it is time to see what others can teach me. I think one of the reasons I haven’t become active in any of the groups is because I have doubt in my skills as a knitter. Which is silly I know, but it is there. It’s time for me to own it, knit it and wear it.

There is a Knitter’s Guild meeting on Tuesday . . . or maybe I could check Ravelry for a local knitting group . . . or I could go to the Spin/Knit night at my LYS . . . or I could sit in the park with my knitting and see who stops and talks to me. Baby steps, right?


From Russia, With Love

March 2, 2013

Did you see them? Those sister-in-laws of mine? Did they stop in? I gave them two whole months!

No matter, I have more important things to tell you about anyway.

Sometimes, when they are young and impetuous, people do things. Whether it is piercing something, moving far away, a tattoo, or getting married, they spend the next decade wondering if that was a smart thing to do. Not me. I have always known that the man I married was the perfect man for me. I am well aware that I can’t be the easiest person to be married to, yet he has stuck by me through thick and thin, through all of the crisises that have arisen and through all of the craziness that seems to follow me around (OK, that may be caused by me, if we are being honest here.)

This week, however, this week, he went above and beyond the call of duty. This week, as the husband of a crazy knitter, he became a Super Star.

My husband got an invitation to speak at a conference. In Moscow. It was an opportunity that was just too amazing to pass up. Sadly, given the costs and the family obligations here at home, I wasn’t able to accompany him. Trust me, if I could have found a sane way to make it happen, I would have gone. He left on Monday, flew 12+ hours across the pond, had a 10 hr time change, and spent the next two days performing his conference speaking duties in a country where he couldn’t read or understand the language and had to rely on interpreters. While he was doing that, I was at home, wishing I was there with him and scouring the internets for information on knitting traditions of Russia, the locations of yarn stores, and any and all wooly subjects I could find. I sent him email after email and text after text of things he needed to look for when he had his ONE day of sightseeing and shopping on Thursday.

Now that I look back on it, I may have been a little greedy in my demands. From the amount of emails I sent, it would seem that I wanted it all. From the threats I may or may not have made (does “DO NOT come home without yarn!” sound like a threat?) I may have seemed unreasonable. To some. I figured, he knew me by now, knew that I would be happy just to have him back and enjoy whatever small thing he had a chance to get me. At least, I hoped he knew that.

This poor man, this long suffering husband of a knitter with a huge stash of yarn already, this tired, jet lagged man in Moscow, he did it. He got me everything I wanted. With the assistance of his host, he rode the Metro all over Moscow, ended up in places he had no idea where he was, and he succeeded. How well did he do? Let me show you.

First off, upon searching Russian knitting techniques, I stumbled across Orenburg shawls. According to the Wikipedia entry, “The Orenburg region of Russia is famous for its shawls, known as Orenburg shawls/scarves. In the English-speaking world, they are often called “wedding ring shawls” because, although the shawls are quite large, a shawl knit in the traditional fashion is so fine that it can be pulled through a wedding ring. The shawls are made from a blend of silk and indigenous goat fiber, similar to cashmere or mohair. The goats are brushed each spring to collect the fiber. Each goat gives off about a pound of fiber. The fiber is then handspun using a supported spindle. It is then plied against a commercial silk thread. The silk helps hold the shape of the lace, preventing it from needing to be blocked as often as it would without the silk. Originally the shawls were made entirely of goat fiber, but this was changed. By plying with one silk single and one goat, the price of the shawls decreased, because the labor required to produce a shawl decreased. The silk also increases the strength of the shawl.”

I became obessed with these shawls. I started searching for books on the subject, tried to find out where I could get (or direct Super Husband to get) my hands on the yarn, found patterns and sent text after text about what they were and where he might find them. I had no idea if the store addresses I sent him, all in Russian of course, were accurate or not but I gave it my all. This is what he came home with.




I wish I could capture the shine and softness of this shawl. I wish I could take an accurate photo of the gorgeous color it is, and the soft halo that the down gives off. This shawl is amazing. It has the most delicate lace pattern all over it and it is huge! 4 feet x 4 feet! It can also fit through a wedding ring. I tried.

This shawl in and of itself would be enough of a present but he wasn’t through with his shopping. Oh no. In my internet searching, and a tip from Super Husband from a brochure he read in the hotel, I discovered Pavlovsky Posad wool shawls. Pavolvsky Posad is a town outside of Moscow that is well known for their shawls. According to their website, “Among unique, world-wide known products, presenting pride and glory of Russia, a particular place occupy shawls from an ancient town of Pavlovsky Posad. Every year “Pavlovo Posad Shawl Manufactory” issues around 300 kinds of shawls, kerchiefs, scarves, cache-nez, tablecloths of natural fibers: wool, cotton, silk. Recognition of a high art and cultural value of our products is the fact that to the factory is given a title of a folk art craft of Russia.” I wanted a shawl.



This is another huge shawl, 4 feet x 4 feet. It is 100% wool. The body of the shawl is woven and then the pattern in screen printed on, front and back. There are at least 10 different colors in this shawl, probably more. The fringe around the shawl is entirely hand tied. You can read about the shawls from the website, These are truly amazing works of art.

Two shawls! Two beautiful shawls from Moscow. A girl should count her blessings and feel incredibly special to have gotten TWO shawls from Russia. However, remember, how I may or may not have told him that he better bring me back some yarn?





Yep. He got me yarn. 100% wool yarn. In two colors. One a worsted weight, one a sport/dk weight. 10 balls of each! Enough yarn to knit 4 sweaters!! He went all over Moscow for this yarn. To a run down, 5 story building that contained everything from furniture to clothing to anything you could imagine. To finally find a small store that had a small section of yarn. On sale even! Here is a website for the yarn that he got me.

While I know that all of the things he brought back from Russia are available in one way or another on the internet, the fact that he went all over Moscow to get them and then brought them back with him makes each and every one of these things incredibly special. I am one lucky girl who got some amazing presents from Moscow.

There was one more thing that came home with him. On Super husband’s last day in Moscow, the man who worked with him and was one of the main people who organized the conference acted as his tour guide. Pavel guided Mike around the city of Moscow on their quest for yarn. The Thursday morning before they met up, Pavel took a train and hour each way to pick up a present for me. Handmade by his mother. That present was this.




My very own handmade wrap from Russia. This is a work of art. I can’t describe it with words or pictures. There are four cables running length wise through the wrap bracketing the lace pattern between them. It is so delicate I am afraid to wear it. This wrap has an ethereal quality about it, between the delicate lace and the halo from the yarn and it is soft as a cloud. I am awed at the thought of someone making this and giving it to me. The fact that someone I have never met before was willing to take a train for two hours to get it for me is even more humbling. Thank you Pavel. Thank you Pavel’s mother. I will cherish this forever. I am trying to think of something to knit and send back as a thank you gift. What do you make for someone who can make something as beautiful as this?

That’s it. That’s what my Super Husband brought me from Russia. Truthfully, I would have been happy with any one of the things that he brought me. The fact that he got them all is astounding. I had better be a good wife for a long while. Which means I had better get off the computer and go do the dishes. And clean the house. And vacuum. And do the laundry . . . For the next year.

Wow. Being a good wife is hard work. Good thing my husband knows me so well. The dishes thing isn’t going to last long.

Resolutions are Crap

January 2, 2013

Yep. You read that correctly. I am of the opinion that resolutions are crap. They don’t work. Why spend one day making grand and sweeping resolutions about all the wonderful things you are going to do only to wake up a week later, or a month later and discover that you haven’t kept a single one of them? Furthermore, don’t we all fall into the trap of making single, grand sweeping resolutions for the things we want? “I am going to lose weight.” “I am going to spend less and save more.” ” I am going to drink less, or quit smoking, or take up yoga, or get a new job, or …” Blah, Blah, Blah.

I am not going down that rabbit hole. Nope. Not me. Enough of thinking about things I should be doing or wishing I was doing those things. A goal without a plan is just a wish, right? (I am sure someone famous said that, I just don’t know who it was). Instead, I am just going to DO. I am not going to make plans for future things, or give myself the goals to work toward, or hopes or dreams, or any of that. Instead, starting today, I am just going to DO them. Yes, I know it is the second day of January and usually people start this stuff on the first, but that’s not how I roll. I have to do this stuff in my own way. Let 2013 be the year of DOING. Here is what I am going to be doing.

  1. Write more. Easy. Done. I am writing this blog post which is way more than I have written in the last three months so I am well on my way. Maybe, just maybe, if I write more I can slowly guilt those sisters of mine into writing too. I am sure you all are getting tired of just listening to me babble on and on. If I can’t, well I guess we have to change the name of the blog to “Yarn, Paper, One Lonely Sister”. That would just be sad.
  2. Run. And then run some more. While I might not enjoy running, in fact, some days I freaking hate it with a red hot burning passion, running likes me. The more I run, the thinner I am. The more I run, the less crap I eat. The more I run, the less aches and pains I generally have.
  3. Since I am running more, I might as well work back in all that other wonderful exercise. Lift those weights. Do that yoga. Swim. I am a heck of a lot closer to 50 than I am to 25 so I need to do everything I can to keep this body working correctly.
  4. Stop eating garbage. No, I don’t dig food out of the garbage can. At least not usually. But really, how far away from that am I when I will eat the leftovers off of my childrens’ plates? What, they didn’t finish all the French fries that came with their meal? Can’t leave those on the plate, damnit, not when I paid good money for them. That cupcake that is still in the fridge from my birthday 4 days ago? I am sure that while it tastes like library paste, I probably should just eat it. Can’t let a fancy cupcake go to waste. Pizza crusts are not my friend. Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Laffy Taffy, Twizzlers, Doritos . . . just typing the names are sending shivers down my spine and yet I have not problems shoving them in my face. The do in this one is DON’T. Just don’t. Enough said.
  5. Take a little more time with my appearance. While I may not care about what the heck I look like a lot of the time, I really should think about all those poor people out in the world that have to look at me. It can’t be easy. Jeans are no harder to put on that sweatpants are. Putting my contacts in takes 30 seconds. Hats aren’t always hip and cool. Starting tomorrow I will do this. Today I am in my sweatpants. Again, it’s my list.
  6. Knit the yarn I own. I bought the stuff to knit with it. Why the heck do I think I need to buy more stuff to knit with? Yeah, that other stuff is pretty, or it is on sale, or it is a one of a kind, but you know what? There will be other, prettier, more special, once in a lifetime stuff down the line. If I want that stuff, I better clear out what I already own so I have some room for it. I have planned ahead on this one too. I joined a “12 in 2013” group and have publicly listed 12 projects I am planning on completing in 2013. If I write them down, I have to do them. That’s the rule. True, I just made that rule, but it sounds good so it has to be true.
  7. Give away some of what I knit. The darling husband is right on this one. How many cowls, shawls, hats, etc. does one woman really need? Sure, I knit the things with my own, special, cherished yarn, and I adore them. But I am sure there are other people out there that would love it too. And if I give it away, I can make something else I will probably like more. And by making something else, well, I am kicking butt on #5, right? I can’t lose on this one.
  8. Unplug. Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, I am not that important. The world is not going to end if I don’t check Facebook at least once an hour. No one is going to die if I don’t answer emails right away. Obviously this doesn’t apply if they are work emails during normal work hours, but aside from those, well, it is true. No one is dying if they don’t get a response from me. Facebook will keep being its self without me, Twitter will keep tweeting, the world will keep turning. I just don’t need to be a part of every post and tweet and email. I can leave my phone in another room and not freak out about it. I can resist turning on my computer or iPad. Well, except if I am knitting something. Then I need the iPad for the pattern. But I can turn off the Wifi at least.
  9. Expand my horizons. I have a habit of getting into my comfort zone and staying there. I don’t want to go out and meet new people. It’s too much work. I’d rather stay home, on my couch, with my family and the friends I already have and turn into a hermit. Unfortunately with my luck, I would become a troll instead. Good news is, I have already started this one too. I have joined a SWAP group on Ravelry. I am doing a KAL for a shawl. I am planning on going to a Knitting Guild meeting. I am going to be taking classes at Yarnover, even though I have been hesitant to do this because I don’t want to be the only one in the class who doesn’t know what I am doing. D’oh. Isn’t that the point of classes? To learn. Baby steps, but at least they are steps in the right direction.
  10. Finish what I start. This applies to everything. The three sweaters I have on the needles. Cleaning my bedroom. Painting the living room. Reading the three books I have lying around here with bookmarks in them. Sorting the socks. Folding my laundry. No more halfway done for me. Nope. It’s time to go all the way.

That’s it. That’s what I am planning on doing in 2013.

Tomorrow I will show you the socks I finally finished knitting on New Year’s Eve. From July. My Olympic knitting project. Hey, you got to start somewhere, right??

What do you plan on DOING???

In Which I Shall Remain Calm

October 5, 2012

Hey, did you know Knit Picks is having a yarn sale? All their orange and black yarns, all their yummy fall colors, in all different fibers and weights, are on sale for 25% off for the a week. Just in time for some Halloween knitting. You’re welcome. If I can’t buy any yarn I will darn well encourage others to purchase some yarn!

As for myself, I am carrying on with my yarn diet/ stash bust. Trust be told, I might be doing a little TOO well with that. No one can say that I don’t give my all to try and prove a point. When faced with the prospect of stash busting, it seems that I believe that I should use all of my yarn at once. Startitis is rampant. Since I have started this diet, I have cast on a sweater, two hats, a cowl, a scarf, a pair of socks and . . . I can’t remember what else. This is not a good thing.

I can’t remain faithful to any of these projects. I keep starting projects I am enamored with, knitting on them for a couple of hours and then tossing it aside for something else. Granted, I have never been known as a faithful knitter. Having multiple projects going at all times is a must. You need different knitting for different things; tv knitting, travel knitting, knitting that you need to concentrate on, fun knitting, learning knitting . . . Unfortunately, I already had these projects going before I cast on the latest round of projects.

But look! I did finish something!

Granted, I had started this project before I went on the diet/bust, but it was made with yarn that had been in my stash for over a year, so I am claiming it as a stash bust project. The pattern is Suki, made in the large size, out of Three Irish Girls McClellan Fingering, Bourbon Street colorway, with a little purple Cascade Heritage sock thrown in for contrast. I am so in love with the color that I want to paint my entire house with it. I want to curl up and cuddle with it and spend all night alone with it. I want to drink it.

In fact, I love the color so much, I went stash diving and immediately started on this:

It’s the Taupo cardigan by Carol Feller. I am feeling a little bad about this project. I cast on and tore through the body of this sweater in about a week and a half. All it needs are cap sleeves and a neck band, hardly more than an evening of knitting. It has sat in my WIP basket for two weeks. Why? Why would I do that? It is the perfect fall sweater. It’s a warm, yummy color. It’s made from a merino/alpaca blend. It’s perfect for layering. It’s the correct size for me. And it refuses to be done.

Instead, I keep starting stuff. In fact, I have gotten so sick with the startitis, I have even started swatching.

Egads! Me? Swatch? Can it be true? Sadly, it is. The top swatch, that is destined to be a cardigan. Out of sock weight yarn. For me. Why? Because I own it and I can.

That bottom swatch? I did that last night because I simply do not have any self control. Even though I have two hats to finish for presents due in two weeks, even though I have a sock that is begging me to turn its heel and finish it, even though I have a scarf that should be gifted by the end of the month, I MUST cast on for a sweater. Why?

Because I got new yarn in the mail yesterday!!!! Now, before you all accuse me of busting my diet, this yarn is destined to be my husband’s sweater. If you will recall, the deal of my yarn diet was that I got to purchase new yarn to make him a sweater. There is nothing that tempts a knitter more that the lure of ball after ball of new yarn coupled with the prospect of a new project. I am so excited to knit with this dark grey yarn I can barely control myself. I just have one little problem. My gauge on my swatch is off. I am getting one fewer stitch per inch that what my chosen pattern calls for with the needles specified. Easy to correct, just go down a needle size. Except for one little problem. . .

I don’t have any needles free in the size I need. I have two different interchangeable needles sets, as well as a robust amount of fixed circular needles. I probably have 4-5 different options for needles in the size I need. Sadly, they are ALL in projects. Every single one of them. I can’t even retreat back to straight needles because those are stuck in a project too. I did mention that I have been having a problem with startitis right?

I could go buy new needles. Nothing was said about a needle diet. The trouble is, I am wracked with a huge amount of guilt over the fact that I have so many UFOs going I don’t have a single spare pair of size 6 needles free to start another project. This can’t be normal behavior can it? I don’t need another pair of needles. I need help. I need discipline. I need self control.

I need to call Mom and see if she has any needles I can borrow.

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