twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

How do they do it? October 20, 2015

Beautiful Madelintosh Merino Light in Byzantine colorway. Sigh.

Beautiful Madelintosh Merino Light in Byzantine colorway. Sigh.

Seriously–how does a person knit a long, lacy sweater in just a couple of weeks?

C’mon, I know I’m not the only one who notices a fellow Ravelry knitter’s gorgeous project, and then trolls through all of their projects, flabbergasted to find that many of this person’s complicated sweater projects are done in a mere 2 or 3 weeks. Wha–?

Now I’m not going to call anyone out on that. But if you’re on Ravelry, you’ve surely seen folks who knit that fast and have hundreds of projects.

Actually I have to chuckle. Whenever I see something like “437 projects” in someone’s profile, they usually fit into one of four categories: Knits Like The Wind, Can’t Resist Casting On Another Project, Knits Accessories/Toys, and, Local Yarn Store Owner.

I could certainly put myself into that “Can’t Resist…Project” category (although I only have 150ish projects). I admit to having a short attention span when knitting a cardigan. I rationalize that a quick little shawl or pair of hand warmers will be easy to cart around and will make a little dent into the sock yarn stash (Oh that prodigious sock yarn stash). It doesn’t help that I enjoy making sweaters in one piece, top down or bottom up. At some point the thing is impossible to take around with me because it’s just too large. Though that in itself should be a good reason for me to stick to my diet, haha. So I cast on something new, something small fairly often.

I also can’t resist knitting gifts–some which don’t even make it into my Projects List because I finish it and give it before I remember to take a photo.

Still, this category always manages to make me smile, especially when the knitter has nearly as many WIPs (works in progress) as finished objects.

The “Knits Accessories/Toys” category is an interesting one. Even though I myself knit lots of accessories (mitts, shawls, and hats, mainly), I also knit many sweaters. But then there’s toy knitting. Don’t get me wrong–I love knitted toys! They’re adorable. But now that Bug’s nearly old enough to go to college, I don’t bother much with them, though frankly I have quite a few “I’ll knit these someday” toy patterns. Still, there are many knitters who mainly knit toys. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that they have many little ones–kids or grandkids–who’ll enjoy them.

The LYS owner with their dozens of WIPs always makes me wonder if these poor folks ever have time to enjoy finishing a project. Of course I see lots of these projects around their shops, so they must finish them. Guess they’re just too busy to update their Project pages, which is, IMO a good thing. If my LYS is too busy, that means business is good, and that means I’ll have someplace to lurk and pet yarn. 😉

It’s those who Knit Like The Wind that make me feel both in awe and inadequate.

This is "Darling Emma" by a favorite designer, Joji Locatelli. Love this so much. So pretty on and well worth the wait and hard work.

This is “Darling Emma” by a favorite designer, Joji Locatelli. Love this so much. So pretty on and well worth the wait and hard work.

On the other hand, a few weeks ago, I decided to pick up an old WIP that I really loved and “finish the dang thing already.” There wasn’t anything wrong with it; I loved the pattern, adored the yarn, and had been steadily working on it–for about 2 years! I just couldn’t seem to find a chunk of uninterrupted time to make substantial progress. Seriously, sometimes slow and steady doesn’t win the race. You’re just slow. I think it requires steady focus to finish the race.

And because I wanted to wear the sweater to a wedding (two and a half weeks from then), and it was only 30 percent finished, I certainly had a reason to focus.

What I really needed was uninterrupted time. Ha. Ha.

I worked on that puppy every single chance I got, mostly ignoring the housework and barely feeding my family. And though at times I wondered if it actually would be possible to finish, I did it!

Which lead me to the very unscientific conclusion that someone who can knit a huge, and/or complicated sweater or shawl in just a couple of weeks has either a housekeeper and cook, or is just plain fast as hell. Mad Skills!

This little cutie shawl's been climbing up the list in my Queue, and finally just popped into my knitting bag...;)

This little cutie shawl’s been climbing up the list in my Queue, and finally just popped into my knitting bag…;)


Decisions, decisions. Again. May 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merono light

Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merino light

What to bring on a trip always gets me in a dither. Here’s one of the places in my life where being organized is key to not making my head explode. I admit it—I start a list of what to bring the moment I make the plane reservations. It’s a list that has a hallowed spot on the little table beside the “chair,” a pencil alwaysalways resting at the ready on top. Oh yes, and I check the weather at my destination twice daily using my Yahoo weather app. I love to be prepared.

You can’t imagine the cranial chaos that ensues for me when Captain Romance suggests a spur of the moment overnighter. I used to be spontaneous. I used to be able to throw a few things (usually all black), makeup, some not-sensible shoes, and some fabulous earrings into a weekender and flit out the door. I blame motherhood.

After Bug was born I learned that if I wasn’t prepared for all diapering/clothing/hunger/thirst/boredom/stuffed animal emergencies and had diapers & wipes/a complete second outfit/cheerios/water/crayons, paper, chunky picture books/blue puppy and “beanie baby of the day” in my backpack, I would pay, and pay dearly for my foolish forgetfulness. Even if you don’t have a kid, you’ve probably seen the parent in the restaurant/plane who didn’t prep for this and the sad consequences that occur. And unfortunately everyone in the vicinity has to suffer share in the experience. But I’ve gone off on a tangent, as usual. Sorry.

As a knitter, this crazy “what to bring” list takes on a whole new dimension. I will confess to having some 600+ items in my Ravelry queue. But in my own defense, my queue consists of what I’d love to knit, not necessarily what I will absolutely knit. I tend to “fave” lots of projects because they’re lovely or helpful, and if I put those pieces I’d really like to knit in that favorites list, I’d never remember which ones they were.

Anyway, since I’m headed off to Squam (!!!), I must decide what to bring. It must be the sort of thing that can be knitted during lots of conversation(no lace), something that can be started and stopped easily (again, no lace), but not something that requires I drag lots of yarn along, like all the cardigans currently in my WIPs (works in progress). This narrows the field considerably to the following items: plainish shawls, mitts, socks, scarves.

Well, let’s knock the scarves right off the list to begin with. Scarves—unless they’re knit from something bulkyish—just bore me out of my brains. Well, except for that “mini mania” scarf. That’s one I’m dying to make…but I think not for “in public knitting.” I’d screw it up!

Can't wait to play with this!

Can’t wait to play with this!

So after scrolling through the list and going through the prodigious stash, I’ve decided to do these two things: Quill, a lovely shawl that’s a huge chunk of garter in the center—practically perfect for knitting and chatting. But a wise knitter knows to bring a spare project, just in case: using this amazing knitting algorithm idea by Statnerd on Ravelry, and this lovely basic arm warmers/mitts pattern from Fairieisle on Ravelry, I’m gonna attempt (attempt, mind you) a planned pooling project with this gorgeous Miss Babs Yummy “Cleopatra.” I’ll have to play with a swatch, first, but it’ll be a fun experiment, and perhaps if I’m lucky, there will be some “planned pooling” experts at Squam.


Gone Fishing… August 11, 2014

That's the biggest walleye I ever caught! Okay, it's also the only walleye I ever caught! ;)

That’s the biggest walleye I ever caught! Okay, it’s also the only walleye I’ve ever caught! 😉

Appalling, isnt’ it? Someone just up and leaves without even a “howdy-do?” I just hate that.

Guilty, sir.

I’ve been gone without a trace all because Bug and I have been off on our annual summer trip to Chicagoland, which this year included a wonderful trip to the Minnesota Boundary Waters for a relaxing fishing trip with Captain Romance.

Aww...I hate when they go to visit Momma and Poppa!

Aww…I hate when they go to visit Momma and Poppa!

Common sense would dictate that I break this post into several smaller ones. We’ll see about that.

Common sense would also suggest that I recount our trip in chronological order, and for the sake of my sanity, I will do that.

**warning** photo heavy blog follows. Just wanted to let you know.

As I said, we began our summer adventure with a trip back to the Chicago burbs for lots of family visiting, r&r, sleepovers aplenty, and even some knitting and writing time, a ladies luncheon, and the magnificent annual yarn crawl with my Darling Cuz!

Starting with a marvelous Ladies Only Luncheon hosted by my delightful Aunt Wheezy, mother of Darling Cuz. We met up at her beautiful new home where we all feasted, gabbed, laughed, and reminisced the day away. So much fun!


Left to right: Momma, Grandma Caroline, Aunt Wheezy

Left to right: Momma, Grandma Caroline, Aunt Wheezy

And because cameras are kryptonite to this bunch, I submit this great vintage shot of my Momma (age 20?), Grandma Caroline, and Aunt Wheezy (age 17?) brought to the luncheon by their younger sis, my lovely Aunt Nancy. Aren’t they cute?

After a couple of days recuperation, it was time for a day I wait for all year long: The 5th (6th?) Annual Yarn Crawl with my original BFF, Darling Cuz! We’ve been besties since we were wee nippers in diapers, and this trip is always a great way for the two of us have some uninterrupted “cousin time.”






We made it!

We made it!

This year, due to various time constraints, previous obligations, and a sick Bug, we only made one stop: The Fold in Marengo, IL. But this was no problem, for to me, The Fold is the Holy Grail of yarn stores. Yes, it is nearly a one hour drive through corn fields on single lane highways (which doesn’t bother me a bit ’cause I love the Illinois countryside beyond words…besides, DC was doing the driving), but it so totally worth going. Between the absolutely charming and friendly owner, Toni Neil, and her fabulous selection of yarns–walls of Blue Moon Fiber Arts and Mountain Colors to Madelinetosh and Malabrigo as well as indie dyers and spinners–we always leave, happy, laughing, and arms full of wool. I actually save up for this trip. No kidding, because I always find unique yarns. And if you’re a spinner…oh my stars. The selection of spinning fibers are to dye for–Toni has stocked some of the most unique spinning fiber I’ve ever seen. Go to The Fold. Go. It is a knitter’s (and fiber-lover’s) paradise.IMG_1848

A few days later CR joined us at my parent’s and after a couple of days of visiting and touring (hello Geneva with brother Davy), he whisked us away to the wilderness boundary waters of northern Minnesota.We landed in Duluth (what a pretty place on the shores of Lake Superior), rented a car, and drove for a few hours to Gunflint Lodge, just about an hour north of Grand Marais, MN. Captain Romance took a canoe trip with his own besties a couple of years ago and used these folks as his outfitter and loved them.


The Lodge

The Lodge

I, as you all know, am not a camper or backpacker, so Gunflint’s pretty Lodge and cabins right on the lake were perfect for me (a Super 8 motel is my idea of roughing it, as they say); the grounds were beautiful, and our cabin was even haunted. Yes, I said haunted. More on that another time, perhaps. (winkwink)

The entire place was so relaxing! With hardly any wifi to speak of (you could only get the wifi I you perched on a certain couch in the lodge, and then you were only allowed to read emails. period. No posting of any kind), and absolutely no cell service, you had no other choice but to relax.

A great spot just down a hill from the cottage for enjoying a cold one or a gin and tonic!

A great spot just down a hill from the cottage for enjoying a cold one or a gin and tonic!


I was able to get a whole bunch of writing and knitting time in, which just thrilled me to no end. Plus, CR spoiled me with their meal plan (and the food was fab), since he knows that cooking and dishwashing on any trip make it “not a vacation” to me. Wise man. Yet another reason we’ve been married 25 years. 😉 We even tossed around the idea of buying a little place up there for our golden years.


A decent northern!

A decent northern!

We spent one morning on horseback, riding a trail with breathtaking view of Gunflint Lake. But probably the best part of our MN trip was the fishing! Yes, we really were “gone fishing.” CR treated us to a day’s fishing with a fantastic guide–Rodger–who not only had fish practically leaping into the boat for us, but was so much fun, that we laughed the entire time. I myself was lucky enough to catch one of each kind of sport fish in the huge lake we were on (Rodger said it was “21 miles long, with an island for every day of the year”): a big lake trout, a few big smallmouth bass, a decent size northern pike, and my trophy fish, a 26″ (?) walleye! And don’t worry; we only do catch and release. We never have reason to keep them, no matter how great they are.

Bug and CR got in on the great fishing action, too–Bug even got what I like to call “smallie thumb” which is when your thumb gets all scraped up and feels like velcro from holding your bass up for their pictures.

A smallmouth (one of many) for Bug

A smallmouth (one of many) for Bug





I wasn't kidding about that walleye!

I wasn’t kidding about that walleye!

At the end of the week on our way back to the airport, we stopped in the charming town of Grand Marais, a place just “packed to the gills” (okay, I couldn’t help myself) with cute little gift shops and the like. And frankly, where else could you find a shop that has a godzilla-size walleye sticking out of it? Well, okay…maybe in Wisconsin. Anyway, look what I found in one of the shops:IMG_1894


It’s a CD by a dear friend of ours, Andrea Carlson! So we bought it, of course! 🙂 And it’s wonderful!





IMG_1895Oh yes, and I also found a yarn store there. Like a fishing guide finds fish, I find yarn. Too bad for them they were closed, though I certainly didn’t want or need yarn after my trip to The Fold. 😉

Believe me, they chose the wrong day for the late opening...

Believe me, they chose the wrong day for the late opening…

And then, even though there were 2 flights and lots of running to catch flights, we were home.

I miss it already.

(A few more fishing and lodge shots below)

A great smallie for CR!

A great smallie for CR!








The pole's bending again!

The pole’s bending again!




View from our cabin

View from our cabin



I’m loose. February 18, 2014

Gauge-wise, that is. Now, now. 😉

No matter what the project, after some 40 years (yes!) of knitting I know that whatever needle size the pattern calls for, I swatch one to two sizes smaller. Right off the bat, I do this.

By the way, anyone who popped onto this blog because of the heading who doesn’t knit or enjoy someone blathering on about knitting, is more than free to leave. Thanks for dropping by!

I named my project "Darling Byzantine" after my all time favorite Madelinetosh colorway, Byzantine

I named my project “Darling Byzantine” after my all time favorite Madelinetosh colorway, Byzantine

On to this knitting journey: Darling Emma, by Joji Locatelli, was no exception to my gauge swatch rule . The pattern calls for size 4 needles, so I pulled out a pair of US3s and swatched a reasonable 6 inch square of Tosh Merino Light (same yarn as called for in the pattern, BTW), soaked and blocked it (I always block my swatch–it really does make a difference.). Much to my surprise, I found I actually had more than the necessary stitches per inch. On the other hand, due in part to the yarn’s subtle thick/thin quality, in some places I didn’t have enough stitches per inch.  You know how it goes, you move that little metal gauge window  from one spot to another all over your knitting, counting those little “v’s” and trying to find several sections that clearly show you’ve hit the gauge’s sweet spot. In this case, it seemed like overall, I had more stitches per inch, which caused me to make the executive decision to go up to the size 4 needles. And to do it without swatching. There was the dicey move.

So dicey that, 4 repeats into this lovely sweater that I’ve been dying to make since last summer, I find my gauge has loosened to the point that (the sweater is a rather wonderfully easy knit, with an easy-to-memorize lace pattern, so I knit pretty fast) according to my calculations, if I continue to knit using US4 needles, the sweater will be at least 5 inches too big around. And while I like my sweaters on the drapey side…that’s just too much. Worse, I  could run out of yarn.

So I will have to rip. Waaaa. And it’s too early for a gin and tonic.

At least Stitches West starts this Thursday, and I still have Christmas money left over. 🙂


Mayme Corsage Cowl…a free knitting pattern! January 15, 2014

Hello, dear friends! A special shout out to those dear knitting friends who live in the frigid tundra region of these United States, as I have something to share here that might be something cheery you can use.

After what seems like forever–at least to me, anyway–I’ve managed to work the cowl I submitted to Uncommon Goods for their consideration into a FREE pdf pattern for you guys. I originally named it the “Jaunty Corsage Cowl,” however, a recent news story about a homeowner renovating her 1910 home and the postcards to “Mayme” that were found secreted behind some kitchen baseboards caught my eye. Seems like Mayme might’ve had a little romance on the side, since the name of the sender didn’t match her husband’s name in the town records. Hmm.

At any rate, I could not resist a name that sounded exactly like a lady who’d sport a lovely striped cowl with a happy flower corsage when the weather turned frightful. So the Mayme Corsage Cowl was born.

The pattern includes both the knitting instructions, as well as how to create the felt flower corsage pin. So without further ado, here it is…just click on the link just below.

mayme corsage cowl3


As I wrote out the pattern, I started thinking how pretty this cowl would also be made from two shades of a natural color yarn, like an oatmeal and a tweedy brown, or two shades of handspun, either fastened with a lovely heirloom brooch instead of the felted flower corsage.

Oh the ideas are bubbling away…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this pattern!

You can finish this in a weekend!

You can finish this in a weekend!



Crunch Time December 22, 2013

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 11:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yep. Here it comes again, same time as last year. I suppose it wouldn’t be too difficult to plan ahead and get stuff done before the season is upon me. Still, somehow it wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t spending the entire month of December racing to finish all the gifties I’d planned (since summer) to give the dearies in my life for Christmas. And I suspect I’m not the only knitter out there who’s in the same spot this time of year. 😉

Make a wish!

Make a wish!

On top of all this season’s festivities, the Bug has her birthday at the beginning of the month—this year she turned 15—!!! When the heck did that happen? Gone are the days of making a quick gift for her since she’s small woman sized, not kid-size.

This summer (see, I kinda started December “present season” in the summer) she picked out a couple of skeins of Madelinetosh Vintage and asked me to make something stripy for her. So the week before her birthday, I remembered what she’d asked me to make for her. Here’s what I came up with:


Actually, there are 2 of them, one for each hand.IMG_1394

I ended up improvising my own pattern, a little twist that added to the time it took. I tried using a free striped mitt pattern from Ravelry, but the thumb gusset was crazy, and the way it was worked, the color change jog (I do know how to eliminate that jog; in fact Knitting Daily did a bit on a way do it about a week ago.) wound up on the top of the hand on one of the mitts (which you couldn’t tell from the lovely pictures because they were so artfully shot—what can I say, the woman who wrote the pattern is a professional photographer—a damn good one, I must say.

But I digress.

I love how they turned out. The jog runs neatly down the inside edge of each hand along the thumb. I’d say I’d write out the pattern and make it available for free here, but I feel like explaining how to do the thumb gusset would be a little too difficult to do clearly. I left the color change jog in my version because I didn’t want to mess with that on top of the thumb gusset. But if I ever get inspired to write it up clearly, I’ll fix that, too. And actually, it doesn’t look bad to me, more like a seam.

Anyway, since then, I’ve been knitting at least three more gifts (which I cannot show now, ’cause that would spoil the surprise) along with a dozen or so bronze or sterling pocket rosaries and chaplets for gifts. Whew! My poor fingers. But I do think I’ll have a fun pattern to post after the holidays.

Well, I’d better get to work. I have one more thing to finish. I’m cutting it close, but I wouldn’t have it any other way this time of year. LOL

What are you guys working on at the eleventh hour? I’d love to know I’m not alone out here. I’ll send plenty of good, fast finishing vibes and prayers your way.

P.S. Many thanks to all of you friends who checked out my Etsy yarn shop, and extra thanks to those of you who treated yourselves to some. I hope you enjoy it!

Merry Christmas!


To Rip…or Not To Rip? September 11, 2013

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 1:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

We’ve all been there: you’ve been toiling over a very special project, however at some point you realize something isn’t quite right about how it’s turning out. You must decide if the problem with the (insert project of your choice–knitting, sewing, drawing, novel-writing, wood-working, heck, even cooking can be a project) can be ignored, or—gasp, groan—if it requires a complete “do-over.” It depends on what the project is, I guess.  If your hollandaise breaks, maybe you can save it with an ice cube. No one will know. On the other hand, if the deck you just finished has more of a slope than you intended, you could always claim you did it so rainwater would roll away from the house. You could, as long as Great Aunt June’s wheelchair or your Weber grill don’t roll off. If you goober up part of a cardigan’s knitted edge, perhaps you can hide it be draping the front, just so.

The problem is,  if you are a perfectionist (here, sir), there is little you can do to convince yourself that the mistake won’t be noticeable, because frankly, you’ll always notice it  yourself and it’ll make you pig-slop crazy every time you look at the  damn  darn old thing.

The Good Side

The Good Side

Which is what happened to me just the other night.

I’d been working the past few evenings on my Ollalieberry Girl Cardigan, trying finish it up before I start another shawl knitalong (more on that next post). And I’d been making good progress on the piece, despite the fact the top half is all seed stitch with a crazy knitted lace edge that I can’t seem to memorize no matter what I do.  Well, I’d finally finished the seed stitch bodice and was happily working the “twisted moss ribbing.” Even better, I was complimenting myself on being nearly finished with the current ball of yarn, and was fantasizing about adding a new ball the next morning. Sometime around 11pm on Monday night, I spread out my work to admire it (you know it’s important to do that), and crappers darn it, the ribbing on the two fronts didn’t match. Sigh. Worse, the back ribbing was all wrong, too. 😦  On one side, all the ribbing had cooperated, aligning itself into gradual mountain peaks and valleys of yarn. On the bad, naughty side and the back, the ribbing had arranged itself into tidy rows of “garter rib.” It looked okay, but it didn’t match the other side, and was certainly not what was specified in the pattern. Poop.



The Bad Side

The Bad Side

I hemmed, I hawed. I looked at the offending project from many angles and with different light sources.

I pulled up the project page on Ravelry and poured over the photos. Was there another person who’d had this problem? If so, did they just ignore it and go with it?

No, and no.

But it was now 11:30 and I had an early morning the next day (don’t we all?) So I balled the thing up, took two Tylenol, and went to bed.

As I my head hit the pillow, I sorted through the reasons why I could’ve screwed up and what I could do about it now. Obviously I must’ve been off by a single stitch in each of the sections where I’d messed up, and while it didn’t look bad, it was wrong. Worse, I knew it was wrong.



All woven through and ready to rip!

All woven through and ready to rip!

That meant there was only one thing I could do: I’d have to rip. But I hate ripping. I mean I really, really hate to rip. Even though I’ve said it before, the prospect of ripping hasn’t changed in my mind. I hate it. Probably because to me it represents hours of work being obliterated, hours I chose to spend knitting instead of writing, drawing, making jewelry…you name it. Hours and hours thrown away like so much cat litter.

On this project, I was especially resistant since I had to rip back to the last row of seed stitch. A drop stitch disaster in waiting. Add to that columns of lace. I shuddered to think of it. If it had been a total “frogging” of the cardigan, it wouldn’t have mattered as much since it would all wind up as balls of yarn and I wouldn’t have to worry about dropping stitches or losing my place in the lace pattern. Still, I couldn’t justify leaving the sweater the way it was; I knew it’d bother me forever and I would never wear the stupid thing. It was here that I decided there was no other choice, and I’d tackle it in the morning when the light was good and strong.


All good now!

All good now!

The next day, after a couple of strong cups of coffee, I picked up a nice long sharp circular needle a size or two smaller than what I was working with and began the tedious task of weaving the needle through the seed stitches and the lace. It took a while, and I did a bit of picking up through the wrong row. But with patience—argh, I hate having to be patient—I made it all the way through and ripped, fixing any dropped or wrongly picked up stitches as I went.

I also found that I’d been correct about having a missing stitch in each of the wrong sections, so after the ripping was finished and the stitch counts rectified, I started ribbing again, and voila! By the time I went to bed last night, I’d nearly regained the ground I’d lost in the morning after ripping.

I could torture myself that I’d have been completely finished with the ribbing if I hadn’t screwed it up to begin with. But I’m sure there will be something else in this darling project to make me nuts. Just wait. 😉



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