Category Archives: Fiber

My Baker’s Dozen


If you don’t give a hoot about my problems, and really? who could blame you! Please feel free to skip down to where you see #mybakersdozen – that’s were it gets good.

 

I have worried over this post, the first post in a long time, the way an old Italian grandmother worries over sauce. I have written, erased, edited, trimmed, fluffed and dismantled every word at least once without much success. It turns out that what I want to do is really quite simple, even if the circumstances that have gotten me here are not. So bear with me if you can and I’ll try not to ramble.

So here it goes.

This has been the hardest year of my life. I could talk about the struggles that my friends, family and myself have endured but it’s a long freaking list and really, you don’t need to know it all. The one main thing I will discuss is that Trevor and I had to let go of the dream of being parents.

My MS has gotten worse in the 32 months since my diagnosis and in November we were told I was losing functionality in my right leg – my good leg. While the chemotherapy seems to be keeping new lesions from forming, the 22 buddies I already have squatting in my brain and spine are pissy little buggers. We are currently working our way through a variety of immunosuppressant drugs to try to prevent any more loss of function in my leg (where the majority of my problems reside) but the more we go through the harsher they become.

The way my treatment is going there is no way I would have a successful after-pregnancy; most MS patients see a vast improvement when pregnant but once the baby comes, well, mama might be screwed with a 76% increase of having the worst exacerbation to date. To top off that crap pie I would also have to start my chemo within 24hrs of birth, and it was with this news that we decided that parenthood wasn’t going to happen.

Losing this hurts in a place I didn’t know was exsited until it was. It was that split second of understanding that life wasn’t going to go the way I wanted it to go that broke a little piece of me, that place that hurts now. Typically I can laugh off anything, I can shake off bad news with the vigor of a wet dog but this one, I just can’t. I knew I had to sit down and figure out how to live with the awful knowledge, how to get back to who I was.

I threw dozens of ideas out there; all the things that I found interesting and wanted to learn more about were fair game, but to be honest, most of them were rubbish. *and yes, I am an American using the word rubbish, but I have a degenerative neurological disorder, so get off my case! 😉 * There were so many half realized ideas, they all had some potential but none of them were working. I wanted to find something that gave me a feeling of purpose again, a feeling that I could use this otherwise wasted maternal instinct to, perhaps, better the world. It’s a lofty thought but hey, why not dream big? This was the realization of the #mybakersdozen

#mybakersdozen

Here it is. Finally!

Once the little thought nugget of knitting for others for a year entered my mind it never left, it grew. I felt like it was an opportunity to make a small difference in the world, to cast little bits of light on others because isn’t that what all mothers do? Cast out the shadows and make you feel warm, safe and loved? That’s how my Mom has always made me feel, and while I will never get to do that for my own child, I might be able to do it for others.

Starting December 1st I will spend 13 months doing nothing but knitting for others.*I decided to go with 13 months because I lose so much time with the chemotherapy treatments and who doesn’t enjoy a little cushion?*

The rules I have set for myself are very simple

  1. I cannot knit for myself unless the project was started before 12/1/2017 because I need the bags and needles
  2. I will not buy any yarn*

*I will not be buying any yarn in 2017, but there is no way to keep yarn from coming into this house. Everyone who knows me buys me yarny things and I’m not going to discourage that. But fair warning, that yarn may be for someone else 🙂

So simple really, I want to see if I can bring a little light into the world. Spread a little love to find my way back to myself.

I want list is much bigger. I want to highlight knitters on Instagram who make me smile. I want to send gifts to people who inspire me, who help me not only find a creative outlet but also the thing that brings me peace. I want to highlight a charity each month and have projects that coincide – the problem with this is that once I started researching charities I found loads that I love and would want to share. I want to send handwritten letters and take the time to tell people how they make me feel, which is normally like being wrapped in a hand knit blanket…with handmade socks, tea, a roaring fire, classical music and my cat on my lap not being an a**hole.

There will be more posts, more updates and if this grows (like I’m dreaming it will) more and more love to share. I have only one expectation – that one person, yes one, will see/read/hear about this in the next 13 months and suddenly feel a little kinder, a little more like giving to others.

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A Month of Knitting: Part 2


For someone who complains about having no time to knit, I sure get a lot of it done! There is this space of time, usually when I am at my mother and father-in-law’s house that things just seem to get done. Most of the Instagram  pics I take are there, although my blanket tends to go where I go. If you are interested in seeing what I am doing in real time, I suggest Instagram – that seems the easiest way to keep up with knitting. Plus, there is always awesome eye candy there. 😉

Okay, so here we go.

Opal Socks.

Opal Socks.

Patons Socks

Patons Socks

Trevor and I's Matching Socks.

Trevor and I’s Matching Socks.

  • Pattern: All variations on The Knitmore Girl’s Vanilla Socks. (#sockswithsarah)
  • Yarn: Opal Bicolor in 5503 (being discontinued), Patons Kroy FX in Cameo Colors, Patons Kroy Stripes in Blue Gray Marl.
  • Verdict? : I love making socks, I just love it. These are my brainless knitting socks – I just cast on and go with it. Trevor finally got his first pair of socks and it chomping at the bit for a another pair – I am so happy to oblige!
Afterthought Heel

Afterthought Heel

  • Pattern: AfterThought Heel Socks by Laura Linneman
  • Yarn: Patons Kroy Stripes in Bramble Stripes
  • Verdict? : I love how the afterthought heel looks, but making it was a little unnerving. I didn’t do a true afterthought heel (where you…shiver….cut your knitting) but rather where you place waste yarn and join. The second sock went much smoother that the first, by then I had figured out that I needed to pick up more stitches to avoid any unsightly holes. I am going to wear these socks as much as possible before I do another pair – they just don’t seem a sturdy as a gusset. But the pattern itself was written very well and it was fun to try something new.
I like filters…teehee

I like filters…teehee

16 Cable Hat

16 Cable Hat

  • Pattern: 16 Sixteen Cable Hat by Circé Belles Boucles
  • Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Plum Heather
  • Verdict? : I LOVE LOVE LOVE this pattern. There are really only four cable rows (five if you do the slouchy, which I did) and the effect is so dramatic. I had purchased this pattern forever ago and *slouching with disgust* forgot about it. I was surfing patterns one night and was like “Why can’t I have money to buy this beautiful pattern! Blast!” – before I realized that I already owned the pattern. The hat took two days to make and as soon as I bound off I wanted to cast on again, and again, and again. Five stars to this pattern!
Love Train

Love Train

  • Pattern: Love train by Susan Ashcroft
  • Yarn: Premier Yarns Serenity Sock Weight Solids in Charcoal
  • Verdict? : Since this is the third Susan Ashcroft pattern I’ve made in a month there is obviously not enough good things to say about her stuff. I got this ebook from a friend who wanted two of the four shawls made for her. (I promised I would not take photos of her finished objects as she is claiming she made them herself 😉 ). The yarn wasn’t great, but it was far from bad. All in all this shawl, which is going to be a very merry Christmas present for ______ cost about $5.00. It is nice and stretchy and the yarn is very soft, not to shabby!
Mikado Cowl

Mikado Cowl

  • Pattern: Mikado Cowl by Susan Ashcroft (I am sensing a pattern here)(HA! PUN!)
  • Yarn: Red Heart Super Soft in Seafoam
  • Verdict?: LOVE! Just another Stitchnerd design that made me fingers sing. I actually made this in one day, I just kept thinking that I had to see it finished as soon as possible! I have already given this one to a friend and my Mom wants two more to give as Christmas presents. It’s a great deal – she buys the yarn and I get to knit the pattern and throw a card into her package.
25 Hexipuffs

25 Hexipuffs

  • Pattern: Beekeeper’s Quilt by Stephanie Dosen
  • Yarn: Oh so many….
  • Verdict? : Needs its own blog post.

So there is March’s finished objects. There are always other things chilling on my needles that I haven’t shown yet, but hopefully I will be back soon. The most important thing about blogging/knitting/spinning is that you can’t allow it to make you feel guilty – it’s here to be enjoyed. Friends and neighbors, I am going to try to remember that blogging is fun again and I hope to see you again soon.

So, What’s in the Box?


It has been a … less than stellar day, which means it is the perfect day to share something awesome.

A little while ago (during my B.A.D.D. period) I was at work when I received this picture from my Mom, Dad and husband….

What's in the Box?

What’s in the Box?

No one would tell me what was sitting in my living room – or what was in the box. I thought that it was a book Trevor and I had been trying to sell. Finding the right seller for rare books can be difficult and tedious, and we have a doozey we found at a garage sale.

Of course I got mandated at work that night, and after 16 hours all I could do was come home and crash. To be honest, I forgot all about the box. I even forgot doing the horrible impersonation of Brad Pitt from the movie Seven when he yells “what’s in the box?” (spoiler: it was a head). The terrible impression made from hours 4 through 11 in my shift were soon forgotten after that the sucky-ness of work caught up with us and well … we all forgot.

Trevor had been twitchy all week and all I thought his second job was catching up with him. With his Dad being sick and working all the time of course he couldn’t remain the Zen Master of the Universe. It’s still strange that I thought that though – because the only other time if our eleven year relationship where I have seen him twitch like that is before he proposed.

So when I came home one night, this is what I found sitting in my living room … no longer in the box …

My first spinning wheel!!!!!

My first spinning wheel!!!!!

My first spinning wheel! The present, from my family, was a (very) early 30th birthday present. As it turns out, everyone was waiting to see my response to the gift – so much so that I spent two hours on the phone before I could even sit down and look at my new toy. The wheel is an Ashford Spinning Wheel Kiwi 2 and unfinished – which is perfect. Everything about it is perfect – except my spinning 😉

Here goes nothing

Here goes nothing

So friends and neighbors, who are also spinners, I am begging for any tips/tricks/advice on how to make the perfect yarn for my perfect family!

No pressure 😉

 

 

The Ravellenic Games Main Event Project!


I joined the Ravellenic Games for the first time this year and I went all out for Team Sasquatch! My main event was Event Shawl, but I also signed up for Event Charity, Event Single Skein and Event Modular (which was a huge mistake but more on that another day).

My main event was to knit a shawl. Since my disgrace with the Fiori Autunalli by Rosemary Hill I have been downright scared of knitting lace. Did I mention the disgrace came from 1. Reading the wrong chart 2. knitting the wrong chart 3. switching rows while knitting the wrong chart and 4. frogging about 1,000 sts in tears at my LYS? Word to the wise friends and neighbors, don’t knit when you’re too tired to remember your middle name!

Anyway, here I am rambling again! I choose for my Games piece a shawl knitted in worsted, I felt like it was my knitting equivalent of a nightlight. So The Lonely Tree Shawl by Silvia Bolvia (which is not only amazing fun to knit but FREE on Ravelry) seemed like the perfect choice. I gathered up some Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage from my yarn stash and was off!

Humble Little Beginnings

Humble Little Beginnings

I was going really slow until the leaves started to emerge, trying to remember that lace knitting is only as hard as I let it be in my head. Once I got to this point I felt kinda confident.

(Disclaimer: Some lace knitting really is freakishly difficult, my problem lies in my lack of confidence after mucking up the same pattern so many times.)

and it kept growing….

and it kept growing….

and growing...

and growing…

Before I knew it, it was time to bind the bad boy off. I felt bad for not picking a harder, more involved project at this point though. I know that point of the games is/was to challenge yourself, and I stand by my reasoning that I had to conquer my fear of lace – otherwise the Fiori is never going to get done.

But my shawl is done!

Blocking

Blocking

High Def filter - I love the leaves!

High Def filter – I love the leaves!

Leaves! Done correctly!

Leaves! Done correctly!

It's about 350 yards - much bigger than it looks.

It’s about 350 yards – much bigger than it looks.

Aww….Happy Place!

Aww….Happy Place!

So there you have it friends and neighbors, the first leg of my Ravellenic journey came to an end. I’ve already given the shawl to a friend. I forgot to take a picture on the mannequin but I gotta tell you – giving away something that gave me a little confidence was pretty epic!

Happy Tuesday!

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express!


Since my last post was very word heavy, lets make this one picture heavy shall we? I tried to take pictures of the progress of my Hogwarts Express Shawl by Susan Ashcroft. It was a lovely gift from a friend for my birthday – no worries if your reading this, I will keep your identity safe. 🙂 I used Malabrigo Sock Yarn  (my first time working with Malabrigo – also a gift) in Cordovan. Any other information you would like to know about my project – or the minuscule tweaks I made with 440 yards of this luxurious yarn, click HERE.  Otherwise, let me let the pictures talk for themselves.

The Yarn was already caked.

The Yarn was already caked.

The set-up with my yarn pet.

The set-up with my yarn pet.

Lovely, calming garter stitch.

Lovely, calming garter stitch.

The yarn is oh so pretty.

The yarn is oh so pretty.

Garter section is done

Garter section is done

The owls have eyes - all 34 of them!

The owls have eyes – all 34 of them!

Max does not like being stared at.

Max does not like being stared at.

Completed at 4am

Completed at 4am

I can't quit taking it's picture.

I can’t quit taking it’s picture.

On the bed in the basement

On the bed in the basement

Still pretty darn stunning

Still pretty darn stunning – and my favorite picture.

Friends and neighbors, I love this shawl!!

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The Incredibly Heartbreaking Story of How I Came By My First Skein of Malabrigo


Has there every been a time in your life that you really, truly wished there were hidden cameras recording the moment for posterity? Well on January 29th such a day happened to me at my new Local Yarn Store. I want to share with you the story as close to verbatim as I can, because the incredible oddness of it was blessedly unique.

~Setting the Stage~

I was sitting at a long table at the front of the shop. I had come in for a bar of Lo-lo to Go (which was 75% off) but remained lingering – throughly content to fondle the yarn and work on my pattern.

A woman comes in through the back entrance with a cake of (yummy) yarn in her hand. The weather is crummy, we are actually just a few hours from getting 10.5″ of more snow and she was obviously in a hurry. Here is the conversations that ensued. 

  • Woman: I would like to return this please. I don’t have the tags but I remember what it is and I should be in your system.
  • Clerk: I am so sorry but we cannot accept returns on yarn that has been caked.
  • Woman: ….
  • Clerk:  I wish that there was something I could do but there is no way to inventory it.
  • Woman: ….
  • Clerk: If you’d like I can suggest a pattern for you to…
  • Woman: I only buy one project worth of yarn at a time and I decided not to do a project with sock yarn. I am going to use worsted yarn, so I cannot use this.
  • Clerk: (makes desperate eye contact with yours truly) I am sure that we can modify the pattern you are doing so you can use sock yarn. Let me have a look, Rachel – what do you think.
  • Me: I love modifying things!

I walk over to the checkout counter and the strap on my purse breaks, spilling the contents of my purse all over the floor. I laugh but the woman is looking at me strangely, strangely enough that it actually makes  me nervous. The clerk is pulling up the pattern on Ravelry when the woman turns her full attention to me….

  • Woman: What’s your name?
  • Me: Rachel, what’s yo….(cut off)
  • Woman: Do you have a stash?
  • Me: Um, yes I d…(cut off)
  • Woman: Do you knit with sock yarn?
  • Me: Yes. (I have temporarily given up on more than one word answers)
  • Woman: Do you like this yarn?
  • Me: Yes, it’s lovel….(cut off)
  • Woman: Do you have a project that could use this yarn to the best of it’s abilities?
  • Me: Um…
  • Woman: A pattern. Do you have one planned?
  • Me: Yes.
  • Woman: What is it?
  • Me: The Hogwarts Express Shawl
  • Woman: And who is it by?
  • Me: Susan Ashcroft.
  • Woman: When did you buy the pattern?
  • Me: I didn’t. It was a gift for my birthday from a very dear f….(cut off).
  • Woman: When was your birthday?
  • Me: December 27th…? (at this point I wasn’t sure)
  • Woman: Let me see your queue.

At this point the store clerk is staring at me with open mouth amazement. She hands me her iPad and I pull up my queue. There was the message from my gifter and the pattern.

  • Woman: Here you are. (She’s handing me the freaking cake)
  • Me: I cannot just take this, at least let me buy your worsted yarn (I didn’t have the money for this, but I was flummoxed and I did owe her one).
  • Woman: Do I look poor to you?
  • Me: Uhhh…No. (she didn’t – but then neither do I)
  • Woman: I can afford my own yarn thank you. Here are the specifications on the yarn (she pulls a scrap of paper out of her purse). Just do me a favor.
  • Me: Uhh….anything!
  • Woman: Let this be your next finished project. Go home and cast it on, and use it. I hate languishing yarn.
  • Me: Okay…

At this point she turns back to the befuddled store clerk and lists, which such precise clarity the yarn brand/weight/name/quantity that she needs. The clerk all but runs away to go get the items the woman asked for, leaving me alone with the woman. I was planning on thanking her again and giving her my Ravelry name so she could see the FO when she said….

  • Woman: My daughter was on Xanax.

I am confused, then I realize that when my purse spilled open my own anti-anxiety medication bottle fell out of my purse – she must have seen it.

  • Woman: She committed suicide several years ago when she quit taking her medicine. She lost her job and lost interest in everything she did – I didn’t notice.
  • Me: I am so sorry….
  • Woman: Can you do me one more favor?
  • Me: Anything.
  • Woman: Tell the people you love to pay attention if you cannot list, on the spot, something you are passionate about. To pay attention if you quit doing something you so obviously love. Tell them to pay attention.
  • Me: I promise.

Friends and neighbors, thank you for letting me share this story.

I’ve Knit 2.53 MILES this Year?


This is ridiculous, right? I mean I do actually have a life, two jobs, friends and family – but I double checked the numbers and they are correct. Thanks to Knitmeter.com I have mathematical proof that I have knit 2.53 miles/ 4451 yards/ 4070 meters. Yowzer boss.

Here is the most recent collection of things I have knit since 2014 began.

My Favorite Beanie

My Favorite Beanie

12218079056_39e5b974b6I decided to knit something I had already knitted once before, the Orchids and Fairy Lights beanie by Tiny Owl Knits. I bought this pattern ages ago (if you’ve read my blog before, this is the beanie that got me to quit complaining about my silly hand and start knitting again.) I know the pattern is for sale through Tiny Owl Knits, but I don’t think that it is in Stephanie Dosen’s book Woodland Knits – if I am wrong please correct me – although the book is equally amazing! I used Lions Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere (which I found at the infamous garage sale last year). I added another repeat this time to give it more stretch and frankly I am still in love with it.

**** **** **** **** **** ****

Another Design

Another Design

12139150515_34c595c149

Since I have been knitting leg warmers almost non-stop since the whole Polar Vortex shenanigans started, I thought my head was going to explode from looking at Red Heart Super Saver.  So when I got an order for legwarmers and fingerless mitts I was itching to turn the cowl I “designed” into fingerless mittens. I took a design I didn’t like from 60 Quick Knits: 20 Hats*20 Scarves*20 Mittens in Cascade 220™ (60 Quick Knits Collection) and reworked it till it suited my needs – as well as my fancy-shamancy design aesthetic. 😉

I’ve read over and over that you only have to modify an original pattern by 25% for it to be called your own – since all I took from the original pattern was the mock cable I am calling it mine. As soon as I get to it – or when my main job allows outside internet access again – I will be putting it up for free on Ravelry. Side note: I kinda love it.

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Sock Yarn Beanie for the Loving, Patient, Wonderful, Supportive, Handsome Hubby ;)

Sock Yarn Beanie for the Loving, Patient, Wonderful, Supportive, Handsome Hubby 😉

This is my first sock yarn beanie, and I am in love! I knitted this is a white heat during the Polar Vortex/Level Two Snow Emergency that left me trapped at work. I used, of course, Patons Kroy Sock Yarn in Gray, Brown, Red Marl as well as Patons pattern. Sock yarn, even on a larger needle, is becoming the thing that my arthritic hand is falling in love with. I am not sure if it is the weight or less motion involved in the actual knitting, but I can knit almost with pain – which is wicked awesome. I love this beanie, and lets face it – the hubby needed another hat!

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And legwarmers 🙂

30" of 1980's goodness! ;)

30″ of 1980’s goodness! 😉

So that catches me up on what I’ve been making since my last post. I have started several super awesome projects, things that I am really excited about and cannot wait to share. I actually finished three projects in one day, which meant the next day I casted on five more projects just to keep up – this makes sense right? Either way, I cannot wait to get far enough along in these that I can share them with a community of yarn lovers that I respect so much!

I will leave you with one question if you will allow me that friends and neighbors – if you had the money for the pattern, the yarn, the needles yada yada yada – what would it be?