The Mountains Are Calling

The Mountains Are Calling

Picture heavy post! Knitting photos near the bottom!

Last week Jonathan and I went on our one year anniversary trip! We decided to take advantage of our anniversary’s proximity to Labor Day and delay our trip until September. Thursday night, after work, we jumped in the car and drove west as long as we could (three hours!) That made the remaining six hours to Boulder, Colorado much more enjoyable. We’d heard a lot of people mention how boring the drive from KC to Boulder was; I’m not sure what they were talking about though.

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I find windmills facinating

We loved the entire drive! It was amazing to see all of the farm land, cattle, and windmills going on and on for miles. The most delightful part of the drive was undoubtedly the sunflowers. Kansas is the sunflower state, after all. We had to take advantage of the fields of flowers along the interstate.

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Is it illegal to stop on the interstate like this? 

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Of course, the interstate sunflowers had nothing on the flowers alongside the “Welcome to Colorado” sign. This was one of the most breathtaking views of our entire trip, and we’d only just arrived!

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While we were driving, I pulled out my unfinished NaKniSweMo from last year. I figured that the mountains in fall would be a great opportunity to wear the sweater for the first time! I managed to finish steeking the sweater before hitting the road, and the entire drive up was spent weaving in ends, knitting on a border, and sewing on buttons. Phew.

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On the second day of our trip, we decided to do a day hike up the FlatIrons to the Royal Arch. What was supposed to be a two hour morning hike turned into a four hour, five and a half mile, strenuous hike at extreme elevation (my sweet husband didn’t check the map). It was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done before, but Jon and I stuck it out together! We took hundreds of photos and drank two liters of water while going up, up, up. Near the end, I started to wonder if the view at the top could possibly be worth the pain, but we pushed on anyways!

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So close to the top!

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Top of the arch, I’m sitting inside of it. Yes, those are knitting needles in my hand. 

Sadly, by the time we made it to the top of the mountain, storm clouds were rolling in, we were starving, and the sun was setting. We had no time for photos so we rushed down (which was surprisingly more emotionally trying than going up) and finished off our night with a fancy dinner and lots of drinks.

The next day, we decided to drive back up the trail and do some laid back sightseeing. I was pretty exhausted, but the pictures were so so worth it. I present my Oranje sweater!

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The Knitimg_2538

This was my first ever fair isle project. I go big, right? This yummy sweater is knit on a US6 with sport weight yarn. I used Debbie Bliss’ Fine Donegal which is technically a fingering weight yarn. However, the single ply wool is rather heavy and I managed to hit the same gauge on the sweater as if I’d used a true sport weight. img_2537

I’ll be upfront, this sweater has some of flaws to it. The armpits have little give to them, so when I lift my arms, the whole sweater comes with me. And seeing as this was my first time working fair isle, the yoke is a tad snug. I’m re-blocking the sweater and am going to re-seam the armpits again in hopes of having a bit more give. I think this will ultimately be a success. I have faith since the first time I blocked the sweater (before steeking which I highly recommend) it went from frumpy to fabulous. The collar could also probably stand to be blocked a little higher as well. img_2536

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I really love the brown button border of this sweater, but honestly, it’s a little finicky. It takes a day and a half for me to button this up proper, and the mass of buttons leads to gapping (though this could possibly be remedied with blocking). The fair isle often doesn’t line up if my buttons are askew-as you can see in the photo above. A part of me wishes I’d been patient and waited to get home to put in a zipper, but I wanted this to be done so so badly! And I love the brown highlights too much to not have them.

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Tucking my floats

Overall, I adore this sweater. The flaws in it are small fish compared to the amount of effort and time I put into this. I learned a lot while knitting this, like how to “tuck my floats” on the yoke so that there’s not a mass of loose strands inside the sweater waiting to be snagged. I did my first steek (you can check out the video here on my instagram) and I learned how to do a proper steek column so that you aren’t terrified while cutting!!! After hiking up a mountain, I feel safe in saying that this is an epic sweater that is worthy of the Dutch knitting traditions Ann Weaver based the design on. I would totes heard sheep while wearing this sweater, up a mountain even.

I’m so glad that I decided at the last minute to finish it on the car ride to Boulder. This will be a wardrobe stable for my first winter in KC. For me, this represents a new benchmark in my knitting. I learned so much while making this. I was so careful to get gauge and make size adjustments as needed so my effort wouldn’t be wasted. This makes my old work feel like child’s play, and I think I’ve finally kicked down the door to “a knitted wardrobe” instead of just lacey accessories, sorry Darling Emma. I’m ready to take my knitting to the next level. I still have a painful amount to learn (like seriously how to get more ease into these armpits). But I’m happy to learn from my mistakes and enjoy the journey, but right now, I’m just gonna wear my sweater and feel baller.

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Yes, It IS your grandmother’s knitting.

Slog On

I’m amazed by what coffee can do. Yesterday night, I ended my blog post rather discouraged and feeling very behind on my knitting goals. I was hoping that with a shower and cup of coffee I could get a bit more knit. Sure enough, I knit five inches on my Fern Lace arm warmers and finished the arms. I’m ready to start the gusset tomorrow and possibly finish them by tomorrow evening. I’m honestly shocked. I didn’t even stay up late.

Wine and knitting #wineandknitting #thegoodlife

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I didn’t finish the second ball of yarn of the Forever Ribbed scarf, but I’m hoping that with another hour or so of knitting on it tonight and tomorrow morning during a staff meeting (yes, I’m that girl in meetings) I can knock it out and charge through the arm warmers.

My NaKniSweMo is officially on hold until Friday evening. Three projects on the needles is one too many and since the scarf was promised to be finished by Saturday, I have to focus on that. I’m honestly enjoying the break though. I look forward to starting the sleeves; distance (and stitch holders) make the heart grow fonder.

Slog

These last few days have been a knitting slog. I’ve been running around constantly doing errands and having meetings for my knitting ministry, I’ve hardly had to time to knit. Yesterday, after working, going to Bible study, and driving an hour to and from Jon’s place to pick up his car, I tried to cast on for the Fern Lace Gloves and forgot how. Like, straight up forgot how to do a two-at-a-time Magic loop. After looking it up, I was so cross eyed from exhaustion that I managed to knit three rows before falling asleep on the couch.

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Today, despite working four hours at the LYS and not having very many interruptions, I felt like I still wasn’t able to get very much done on the gloves. I’m doubting that these will get done in a day and a half, or even by the end of the week. So sad.

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The commission Foreverr Ribbed Scarf is going much better, though. I’ve finished one ball and tomorrow plan on trying to knock out another one. I’m so glad that the person did not want a full length scarf! The extra two skeins might have killed me.

I haven’t touched my NaKniSweMo sweater and it’s keeping my cat company until I can find the time to start the sleeves. I desperately want to finish my gloves by Friday so I can have all weekend to do the sleeves! Otherwise, I don’t see how my sweater will get done in time for Christmas! Hm, this is a bit of a buzzkill post huh? Nothing but doubts and stress. He’s a picture of my cat being cute to liven up the mood.

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My determination is still here, but I’m a little sleep deprived and a lot busy. I believe a shower and a cup of coffee are in order, maybe I’ll surprise myself tonight with how much I get done!

The Flame Burns Strong

It feels good to be on track. Like, really good. Like, you don’t understand how good it feels because you have no idea how unorganized a person I am. I endeavor constantly to have productive days based around comprehensive day planners and to-do lists. On average, at least five tasks that I was supposed to do one day is moved over to the next day because God-only-knows-what-I-was-doing-instead-of-completeing-those-tasks. But I’m getting better. I even read articles about how to be more productive. I wake up at 6:30 every day to get everything done well as opposed to just slapped together. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. These small victories are reflected in my knitting!

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I completed my sock head hat in five days instead of a week.

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I started my scarf commission and knit a pretty good chunk of it

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I finished the body of my sweater!

I think I’m just getting a lot better at using my time wisely and, in terms of knitting, using literally every moment to knit. Waiting at the DMV, taking a walk, reading an e-book. Knit knit knit. Tomorrow I’m going to cast on for the fern lace gloves, which my LYS owner says it only took her a day and a half. I’m not of fan of having three projects on the needle but hopefully it’ll be back down to one by the end of the week. I’m hoping I can keep up this momentum and there will be a pair of gloves and a scarf at the end of the week to show for it.

Endless Stockinette

I’m in an endless black hole of stockinette stitch. Every project I have right now is just miles and miles of it. Heck, the Sockhead hat pattern even gives a “fair warning: there is miles of stockinette stitch, so this makes for great TV, travel or zen knitting.” It’s pretty bad when you’re options are endless stockinette on teeny tiny needles or endless stockinette on slightly larger needles.

Speaking of teeny tiny, I finally finished the four miles inches of ribbing on my Sockhead. I was constantly lamenting how long it was taking and when I finally reached the stockinette section I noticed the stitches seemed a little too small for a size US2 needle…sure enough I knit the entire brim on a US1 and was close to knitting the entire body like that. No wonder it’s taking me so long. The pattern calls for a US2.5. I switching this hat onto a US2 pronto (where the heck am I supposed to get a 2.5?) . For the next two hats, I’ll most likely knit the brim with a US2 and the body on a US3. Make life easier, why don’t I?

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To be fair, this is a picture of a ton of ribbing and not stockinette. But my complaints and whining still stand.

My hope of finishing the hat this weekend has peaked. It may be naive, but realizing I can go up a needle size has brightened my world. Being on such a tight knitting schedule is pretty stressful, but I’m doing my best not to let it get to me. Knowing that I can instantly gain an extra 1-2 hours of holiday knitting a day just by putting away my NaKniSweMo is encouraging. But I’m stubborn, so I won’t do that until the last minute.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

The Oranje sweater grows steadily everyday. Being on US6 needles with sport weight yarn is a pretty big help. I actually don’t mind the endless stockinette in this because I’m still totally in love with this yarn. It’s a very daydreamy color and I find it very soothing to just stare at it while I work. Better than TV. I’m halfheartedly hoping to have the next five or six inches of the body done by this weekend so I can cast on the sleeves. I feel like it’s a bit of an unrealistic endeavor, but a gal can dream.

Looks like chocolate mint #nakniswemo2015 #knittersofinstagram #knitting #sweaterweather #sweaterknittingtime

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Is anyone out there doing a NaKniSweMo that’s NOT miles of stockinette? Tell me about it below!

An Unrealistic View of Christmas Knits

The Yarn Harlot, in her first book, describes a terrible habit she has come holidays. Over committing to knitted gifts. She wants to present her family with piles of knitted gifts and this often results in her driving herself insane during the holidays by, oh, you know, attempting to knit twenty-three pairs of socks in four days and feeling guilty that she doesn’t finish. I have the opposite problem. I’m a selfish knitter. I knit for me, myself, and I. If I knit for others, 99.9% of the time its a simple commission so I can get more yarn to knit…for myself. Either that, or I whip out a scarf for my husband and get ‘best wife award’. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made my mom a few things, I once made her a coat!  But in general, I don’t do gift knitting. I don’t have many hobbies, knitting and reading are pretty much it. It may be selfish, but I have very little interest in hobby becoming an obligatory gift supply for every holiday and birthday. I am not a machine!

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But even a scrooge like me can have my heart softened. These upcoming holidays are going to be pretty special. They’re the first with Jon and I as marrieds (only our second as a couple). Jon has been applying to jobs left and right and some promising opportunities seem to be on the horizon. This very well could be the last holiday season where we have the convenience of all living in the same state! The same country even! Not to get ahead of myself, but I think such a heartwarming/wrenching occasion calls for warm and fuzzy hand knits.

Now, all that warm and fuzzy aside, how I came to the conclusion that I could knit 8 gifts in less than two months? On top of NaKniSweMo? And two commissions? *Shrug* Seemed like a good idea at the time. But listen, it’s only accessory knits and a sweater for Jon. Only. Here’s the breakdown:

3 Sockhead hats

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1 pair of Fern Lace gloves

FullSizeRender_31 Superior cowl out of yarn I have yet to acquire

1 pair of socks that in a pinch will be exchanged for another Superior cowl

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1 Forever Ribbed Scarf for my dad that will almost undoubtedly be exchanged for a nice pen, because, you know, dads.

And 1 big blue sweater for Jon…I have no comment on that one

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My fingers hurt daily now. I choose to believe that they are becoming stronger and I’m not actually doing irreparable damage.
NaBloPoMo November 2015
A hard truth has come to present itself. Such unrealistic standards of holiday knitting call for a sacrifice. A lamb to the slaughter, or rather, a merino fleece. Despite the progress made on my Oranje, I realize that if (when) holiday knitting comes down to the wire, I most likely won’t finish this lovely sweater. Which means I won’t have something to wear and show off at my in-laws (see how selfish I am?) Nevertheless, I try to dedicate at least an hour or two a day to knitting on my sweater. Tonight I finished the waist shaping and now I have about 6 or 7 inches of stockinette to look forward to. The flame of hope still burns strong.

Do you have unrealistic holiday knitting plans? Tell me all about it!