Wordless Wednesday: Folk Foxes Progress

Folk Foxes Progress

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Follow Friday: Follow Finch

I’m lucky to live really close to Finch Knitting and Sewing Studio but I don’t tend to get out and about as much as I should, so I keep tabs on their goings-on via social media (mainly Instagram and Facebook) and their blog. The shop and Nicole, the owner, made national news earlier this year for being so welcoming and inclusive. They have classes and workshops and retreats and are in one of the cutest historical buildings in my town. On top of all that, Nicole stocks thoughtful, high quality yarns and fabrics. Finch is the only place local to me (well, without traveling too far into the DC metro area) that stocks Liberty fabrics. Finch is also an authorized Bernina dealer and I desperately need to replace my basic-level 25 year old sewing machine. I’m almost afraid to go in the shop because I know I’ll walk out with an empty wallet but on the other hand, I know I would find a community of creatives there, so Finch is on my stretch list – I know once I start going regularly, I’ll fit right in.

Bonus: today is the day that Finch Boxes launch! I’m really tempted to subscribe even though I could (in theory) walk to the store (in an hour or two) – I would love to get something crafty from Finch in my mailbox!

The 4th, General Update, Trip/Garden Pictures

Happy Independence Day my fellows Americans! Today’s going to be a low-key day for me since I’ve already been to the requisite cook out (yesterday), have seen plenty of fireworks (Disney World fireworks have ruined me for all others), and it’s supposed to rain here. For some flag-waving variety, here’s the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. More info about the flag at the Smithsonian, which has the flag in its collection.

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The flag that inspired The Star Spangled Banner

I’ve been plugging away on my two knitting WIPs and making steady progress. I finished the Hourglass Cowl Scarf over the weekend. We drove up to New Jersey (central NJ, near New Brunswick) to spend time with my in-laws, so I finished it at my sister-in-law’s house. I need to weave in the ends and maybe add fringe (or maybe not), and wash and block it, so I’m not posting pictures of the FO just yet.

My Old Town Cardigan (aka Future Favorite Two) is at a really ugly looking stage: I’ve put the body on stitch holders (scrap yarn) and am knitting the sleeves 2 at a time in the round. It looks like a mess, like I’m knitting a Thneed from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, but I made lots of progress on the sleeves in the 3 hour car ride to NJ, at my SIL’s, and during the ride home. The pattern doesn’t have decreases in the sleeve and I don’t think I put decreases in my first Old Town, but I may need to with this one. My gauge is a little bit larger than what the pattern calls for and I think I’d rather not have two giant sacks hanging off the body. I need to poke around in other people’s project notes on Ravelry to see if anyone else has added decreases and/or just add my own.

Old Town sleeve progress
Old Town Sleeve Progress

When I wasn’t knitting, I was taking pictures. I posted most of these to Instagram also. While I have the Instagram widget set up on my blog, I suspect most of you read it the way I read blogs – through WordPress, email, BlogLovin, and various other readers that don’t load the whole WP page. I know I could force everyone to read it that way, but I really hate it when I’m on a mobile device and someone has done that. So. Here are the pictures in mostly the order I took them – my apologies if you’re seeing them twice (or just uninterested). Also, all of them are presented as-shot, with no filters or adjustments, and all were taken with Camera+ on my iPhone 6.

Industrial Sunset
Industrial Sunset, taken from the car on the PA Turnpike in a (surprise!) industrial area north of Philadelphia. One of three spectacular sunsets during the trip.
Trenton Makes The World Takes
Trenton Makes The World Takes neon sign on the Lower Trenton Toll Supported Bridge bridge over the Delaware River on the PA-NJ border. Some of the letters were out when we went by on Friday, but they were lit for the return trip on Sunday.
My New Bling
My New Bling. One of my nephews bestowed this beauty on me.
My SIL's garden
One of the flowers in my SIL’s garden; I forgot to ask her for the name.
Hosta Flower
Hosta Flower
Japanese Maple Leaf
Japanese Maple Leaf
Purple Smoke Bush
Purple Smoke Bush Leaf
Celosia, aka Cock's Comb
Celosia, aka Cock’s Comb
Oak Leaf Hydrangea
Oak Leaf Hydrangea
Lobelia
Lobelia
Peony after the petals are gone
Peony after the petals are gone
Elephant Ear
Elephant Ear
Turnpike Sunset
Turnpike Sunset, from the return trip last night

So Many Choices

I’ve been busy with my oldest’s high school graduation and his new student orientation at

GraduateBrandon and Me
Obligatory Graduation Photo

West Virginia University, which is about 3 hours away from where we live. I’m so excited about WVU now part of me wishes I was the one going off to school. I think it’s a great fit for my son, who’s going in undecided – they’ve got a lot of programs that help students figure out what they want to do/what they love and could do for the rest of their life. I do keep reminding him that he’ll probably have more than one career, so he won’t feel so much pressure to choose the one, right thing that he’ll do forever. I’m certainly not doing what I first majored in (Creative Writing) or what I have my BA in (Rhetoric and French). I remember feeling overwhelmed instead of freed by the number of choices I had in my late teens and early twenties and I hope to help him avoid that.

Anyway. On to knitting choices …

HourglassCowl
Hourglass Cowl, soon to be Hourglass Scarf

I finished the Hourglass Cowl that I’m designing and working on. Having the pattern all squished up into a cowl doesn’t do it any favors, though – it might as well be in 1×1 ribbing. I spread part of it out flat on my mannequin, but the reality of an actual moving breathing person wearing it means it won’t likely sit that way for long on a human. So I don’t think it wants to be a cowl; it wants to be a scarf. At least as a scarf it has a fighting chance for part of it to lay flat and show off the wavy ribbing. I picked apart the 3 needle bind off I did to add some pattern repeats to the scarf (49″ isn’t really long enough  IMO) and am contemplating the options for finishing the ends. Fringe? Some well-placed tassels? Maybe some artful decreases & partial bind-off to highlight the stitch pattern?

I’ve been working bit by bit on my Old Town cardigan – it’s my portable project because I don’t need to follow a chart as I do for the Hourglass project. I brought it with me to graduation, since we arrived almost 2 hours before the ceremony because of parking & traffic. I also brought it with me to WVU orientation Friday, but only pulled it out in the last session of the afternoon when I was desperate for something to help me stay engaged with the speakers. I should have gotten it out in the hour-long session before lunch; I’d forgotten how much listening to a boring speaker takes out of me. It’s probably a good thing I’m not the one going to college in August. 🙂

OldTown
Old Town Cardigan, Starting the Bodice Section

Rose Herringbone Cowl

Herringbone Cowl - Rose, double loop with right side showing
The finished Herringbone Infinity Cowl, modeled by my to-be-named assistant, The Mannequin.

I finally finished it, washed and blocked and everything. And of course listed it on etsy. Calculating the price for this was tricky because I won’t be able to replicate it when I finish this skein; I do have enough for one more – I only used half the skein. The yarn is discontinued and there’s nothing like it on the market right now; it’s a bulky weight chain plied tape yarn made with 90% extra fine merino and 10% nylon.

Herringbone Cowl - Rose, close up of right side
The right side of the fabric so you can see the structure of the yarn. (I did take another close up of it a few weeks ago, but this one is, uh, fresh.)

I think I mentioned in a previous post that knitting with this yarn was really tricky, like knitting really soft rubber bands or super stretchy elastic. The finished cowl is really, really soft – it doesn’t feel like wool at all – and it’s also really, really stretchy. Stretchy enough to comfortably wear tripled around your neck, maybe even quadrupled.

I know it’s not really the right season for selling cowls and scarves, but I can’t stop designing and making them; they’re so quick and easy and fun. I’m in the early stages of designing another one, this time with sock yarn because there are just so many great hand dyed sock yarns out there to work with.

In listing this cowl on etsy, I realized that I haven’t listed the first sample that I made, the one that’s pictured in the pattern. I also have a finished Owl Honeycomb Blanket to list, but I need to list it as a lap blanket, not a baby blanket, because it’s knit with wool that must be hand washed and I wouldn’t give something that needs to be hand-washed a new parent (or a new baby, for that matter).

I suddenly have lots to do; I wish I had thought of all this the other day when I felt like I had nothing to do (nothing but housework, anyway, and who wants to do that?) and therefore spent the day on Pinterest creating an account & many boards for The Yarn Office. I’m glad I created a separate one for The Yarn Office, but part of me wishes that I’d just used my regular old account; I’m repinning a lot from it. I’m organizing it a little bit better, so at least there’s that. And I’m still pinning non-yarney things to my other account.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. I’m going to go take more pictures and list those two other things on etsy. Happy Friday! Have a good weekend!

Birthday

Today’s my birthday – yay! I get to eat as much cake as I can! And also reflect on what’s happened in a year …

I’m in such a different place  mentally; last year I was still recovering from something that happened in January and still struggling with drinking. I took my last drink in July, so I know I was craving it badly on my birthday – how else was I supposed to celebrate than to let loose? I’m happy to say I don’t feel that way this year. I can let loose any time, I just need to give myself permission to do so. I don’t need alcohol to relax, I can do that on my own in a number of ways, including fiber art stuff (knitting, spinning, even my nemesis, crochet).

I was also still playing roller derby. I was on two travel teams and the captain on one. The pressure I put on myself to be a good captain was really bringing me down last year. I had a hard time focusing and being happy about the things I was doing well and only focused on the things I was doing badly, and that applies to my derby skills as well. I think I hit my peak skill level at the end of 2014 and 2015 was a slow descent into still okay but not as physically strong as I was in November & December of 2014. I stopped getting MVP Jammer awards (I have 9 or 10 from my 4 year derby career) and also stopped playing in as many jams, partly because my endurance was down after January and partly because my anxiety was shooting through the roof. I decided to quit the team I wasn’t captaining in May and take a step back after the season was over in June. What I didn’t realize is that I’d be done (for a while or for good, I haven’t decided yet).

My100DayProject.jpg
All 100 of my 100 Day Project pictures

Last year I was also in the middle of my 100 day project. I designed and released two new patterns: Feathermoss and The Double Rainbow Scarf. I finished two hats, a sweater, two scarfs, three shawls, and did a lot of spinning. Luckily the project overlapped a bit with Tour de Fleece, so I got two birds with one stone. I also made felt and dyed it with false indigo; it’s the bright green felt I beaded & embroidered as the Moss Garden and this shmancy upcycled Sucrets box. And I felted one of my husband’s store bought wool sweaters (it no longer fit him) and embroidered on that with handspun naturally dyed singles (also what I used in the Moss Garden & the box).

This year, I was on the lookout for the start of another 100 day challenge but it seems that there are a number of them; I might as well start a new one on my own any time. Rather than being so formal about it, I’ve just been trying to do something every day either with knitting, reviving my etsy shop, writing this blog, or keeping up with social media. I feel really good about reviving the etsy shop even though I haven’t had any recent sales. I’m positive I’ve paid etsy more than I’ve made off the shop, but my traffic and favorites are up thanks to working on my SEO so I still have some hope.

I also feel good about designing – I will eventually move away from cowls to something else – and I’m looking into ways to expand my reach and become a little more professional about it. I found another designer group on Ravelry, one that actually has calls for submission. I’m working up the courage to respond to one of these and see where I can take this design thing.

My family is doing well; my oldest will be graduating from high school in June and has decided where he’s going to college next year. My middle son has his learner’s permit & is doing really well with driving. He’s also running track this spring and breaking his previous PRs. And he thinks he just aced the AP Psychology exam. My youngest son has adjusted really well to middle school and I’ve been squeezing in all the hugs and kisses on the cheek that I can before it gets too weird/embarrassing for him. My husband is stressed in his job and travels every week and I wish he had time to look for a new one that’s local, but overall I suppose he’s doing okay – our marriage is more solid than it’s ever been.

Lastly, pet-wise things are a lot different than they were last year. We had to euthanize our smallest dog, a toy fox terrier mix, last June. She badly ruptured a few disks in her back, lost control of her hind legs, and was in a lot of pain. Poor chick – she was a good dog, much more like a cat than our other two dogs. In November I started talking up cats to my husband (and myself – I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another pet) and in December we found the perfect cat for us thanks to some friends who foster cats for a rescue organization. Jeffrey Lebowski (aka The Dude) was just under a year old, is very calm/chilled out, and has fit in with our family so well – I post a lot of pictures of him to Instagram.

All in all, I’m happy with where I am and what I’m doing! If you made it this far into my post, congratulations – I’d share my birthday cake with you if you were here, but you’re not, so go find some cake and have a happy Tuesday!