Knitting, Writing, Single Parenting and …. Sanity?

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Last night I had a breakdown. The stresses in my life (which I won’t go into here,) overwhelmed me and I ended up having and emotional meltdown all over Hubster. Both via text message and email. I regret this for two reasons.

  1. He didn’t deserve it.
  2. The last think I want to do is add to his stress levels, give him something else to worry about while he’s away working and training.

So this morning, I’m trying to push my way through the emotional exhaustion, the frustration, the stage of depression that always follows these eruptions, and get on with life.  I’ve turned on music, but Pandora’s not cooperating, and for some reason, the stations that generally pick me up are playing nothing but depressing music.

In considering contributing factors I realized that I that last meal I ate yesterday was lunch. With my body chemistry is it any wonder that I was more than a little emotional by 9pm? Not at all, in fact, it would be surprising if I weren’t..

I’ve been pushing hard to finish rewrites on this book, and I know that hasn’t helped… but it’s not a huge contributor, I thought. Until I realized this morning while reading blogs, that I haven’t picked up a knitting needle, with the intent of knitting, since before we went camping. Almost three weeks ago. Knitting and writing are just not easily co-existing activities.

Am I saying that knitting keeps me sane? In a lot of ways? yeah. It gives me something that I can do with my hands (otherwise I tend to get twitchy, or stiff and sore) but at the same time it’s something I know how it will turn out. Loop after loop, row after row. It does just as I expect it too. I can pay as little attention, or as much attention as I need to and it doesn’t whine that it’s hungry or needs clean clothes. I never have to tell it to pick up after itself.

Knitting lets me work on it while pondering my issues in life. I can move my hands in that repetitions movement while I listen to the kids play, while blasting music, while dreaming up a story line. It helps me on car trips when watching the road, and Hubster’s driving makes me tense and cranky.

In short, knitting purges my soul of many of the day to day, life is crazy stresses.

After I realized this I went and dug out a project that was sitting unfinished on a table and started working on it. in a single round I started feeling better. It’s not an instant recovery but it’s progress. Now I’m going to turn the music back on (in headphones, some of what I’m listening to is so not kid appropriate) and pick up my knitting. Maybe I can work my way past the stick in my short story.

Inspiration result, take one

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last week during our cold front I had a stroke of inspiration, unfortunately it wasn’t for the editing and writing I was trying to do at the time, it was knitting inspiration. Knowing that the only way to get the insistent drive to make this item to leave me was to actually make it, I found a similar pattern (because a pattern for exactly what I wanted wasn’t available) a suitable yarn and needles and I got started. I started them on Thursday and I finished on Tuesday morning. They were just what I had in mind. IMG_0014

Typing gloves. Gloves that cover the fingers almost to the tip. The fingers stop about where my fingernails start so that I have just the tips exposed to type with. I was thrilled. Until I tried to type with them. They are too thick to let me type well. They slow me to maybe 1/3 of my usual speed and they cut accuracy as well. These were made with fingering weight yarn on US 1.5 needles. I can think of many things they will be great for, but typing just won’t be one of them.

So, I have started a pair in lace weight on 00 needles (ribbing is one size smaller so ribbing is in 000 needles.) The fabric on the new ones should be light enough to keep from inhibiting my typing, while the wool they are made from should still keep my fingers toasty. The new pair will take longer to make. trust me. But if they turn out to be all I’m hoping for they’ll be worth it.

Accomplishment!!

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Hubster and I were discussing gifts for the kidlets last week, we had most of the stuff we wanted to give them figured out and lined up, but we were one gift short for each of our girls, I had no clue what to give them, and Hubster got a brilliant idea (note sarcasm here) He suggested that I knit each of them a skirt. Well, immediately I had a response.. I can do that, but Girl 2 isn’t allowed to wear skirts much, as I am tired of seeing her butt. She is just way too much tom-boy to get away with them, so I decided I could go with a skirt and a sweater. 

So the next morning, the 7th, I went to the store and bought the yarn for the projects and got started I finished the skirt first, all but sewing in the elastic for the waistband, on the 10th and I moved on to the sweater. I have done little more than knit since. I have listened to more daytime tv in the last 11 days than in the entire last year, but I did it. Last night I weaved in all the ends, sewed the elastic into the waistband and I boxed and wrapped both gift.

A skirt, (for a girl who wears a size 10) and a sweater (for a girls size 8) in 11 days. My hands hurt and I am sick of stupid daytime tv. but it is done.  Now to catch up all the stuff that has been neglected while I got those done, and get ready for our holiday visitors.

Keeping Busy.

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We have had installers here for the last week, working on installing solar panels on my roof, they are finished with the install, and are just waiting for inspections, from both the city and the power company, before they can be hooked up, and we can be using solar power, at least partly. I am excited, I would dearly love to see our power bill go down. We know this won’t eliminate it completely, as it is only about 1/3 of the total system we need, but it is a start, and what we can afford to get installed now, so it is what we are starting with.

I have been staying busy since we got back from visiting my family. I work on the housework first thing in the morning, getting what needs to be done for the day done, then I spend the afternoons and evenings doing things with the kids, or listening to audio books and knitting. I have managed to get quite a bit done on my current shawl project. It is a hexagonal spider-web shawl, and I am working on round 145 of  160 or so, and then I have a border to put on, I am still debating on what exactly to do for it. I have only been working on it for 14 days, so I am feeling very upbeat about it. I may get it done in the next week or so, that would be a record for me.

Yarn dying experiment…

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ok, I have long since wanted to make gradient dye jobs, but I am too lazy to do as I have seen so many time and dye it in portions. So I thought about it.. What would happen if you wound the yarn into a cake and then dyed it? I can tell you.

First I admit I used a LOT of food coloring here, I like jewel tones, and I have learned that I need to use a lot of dye for that. I use Wiltons  cake decorating gels, the ones you get at Jo-anns or Michaels, in the cake section. I used an entire jar for this experiment.

First I wound off my yarn (100% wool, Jagerspun Heather, fingering weight, to be specific.) This yarn is destined to be leg warmers for the cool mornings here. Mainly around the house wear, so it didn’t really matter how badly the dye job came out. I did wind my yarn doubled, so that they will match mostly. Later I will rewind it into individual cakes.

I took the wound cake of yarn, and soaked it in a water and vinegar solution (I never bother to measure I just pour some in. I admit this was a pretty strong vinegar solution.) I set the cake into a pitcher and added the water and vinegar to it, when the cake floated I took a mason jar and half filled it with water and set it on top of the cake, after about half an hour I removed the jar and the cake stayed submerged. 

Next, I prepared my dye bath. Same quart jar I had used earlier, I dumped the food coloring into and more vinegar, this time about half a cup, and a couple cups of water, I used my whisk to stir well, dissolving the food coloring, I poured this into the bottom of my small (4qt) Crockpot I set the yarn cake into and rinsed the jar out with the water/vinegar mixture from the pitcher until it covered the yarn cake. I set the Crockpot on Keep warm, put the lid on and walked away fro several hours.

When I came back I removed the yarn cake carefully with a slotted spoon and set it into a bowl to cool, once it was cool to the touch, I mean room temperature. I put the cake into a colander and ran room temperature water over the cake, occasionally flipping it over to rinse the other end, until the water ran clear.  I shut off the water and set the colander over the now empty bowl and let it sit there for about an hour, dripping as much of the water off as it would give. Next I very carefully wrapped the cake up in a towel and added pressure to squeeze out as much of the water as possible while disturbing the construction of the cake as little as possible.   I carefully reshaped it (from the smashed oblong it had become back into a cake) and set it in front of my fan (yes I am still using fans here.)

This is what the exterior of the cake looked like this morning, just as it came out of the dye bath, but dry.

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It was a little more purple looking that the photo shows almost a grape color.  And then I rewound it, starting at the outside and working in, so that what is now  on the inside of the cake is one the outside (this was done mostly to dry it, but also cause I wanted to see it.)

This is the rewound cake.

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there are spots of the darker color all through it, but the closer you get to what was the core the more of the bright Caribbean blue that there is, I totally love it so far.. right now it is sitting in front of the fan again, but once it is dry I will separate the two strands and we will see how it knits up.

Oh.. and I have to share this one, just because I love the shot.

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you can see all the little hairs and the definition between the plies and the two strands that were held together in the winding.  Ahh.. the fiber, you can almost feel the yarn love.

it’s done!

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my little wrap that is… I finished the knitting last night, went button shopping today, and wove in ends and blocked it this morning. Here it is..

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it’s not really big, it wears like a cape, and is not quite elbow length. or can be rapped tighter and worn like a scarf. I totally love it. It was a great quick knit! 

I will have to take a closer picture, but the button is a dragonfly, that the wings almost exactly match the yarn of the upper portion.

Knitting quandry…

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I have been working on a bag for the last week or so, it is supposed to be a carrying case for a netbook. I wanted a sleeve style, but a knitted one, and I decided I would do what is called Button hole handles.

I knew I wanted the bag felted, because felted has more strength, and less stretch/flexibility, plus, the process of felting makes the fabric more dense and pads the computer better. I did a couple swatches… and decided I liked the thicker fabric that a seed stitch makes better than the one a stockinette makes. So I started my bag. After working the bottom, and several inches up the side of the bag, I noticed that the seed stitch spirals around the bag, and my marker, marking the corner of the base, and the beginning of each round, was migrating around the side of the bag. Which made the handle placement a little more difficult.. So I asked around on Ravelry about if this is normal, how will it effect the handles when I felt it?

I was told that the spiraling is a charicteristic of seed. and to just follow the corner of the bag up and place my handles from there… So I did.. I made the bag, and when I cast off all my stitches, the handles were centered and lined up. I put the bag in the washer, set on hot to felt it. It felted beautfully, until I went to block it to dry it. I fussed, I fiddled, I pulled. This was the best line up of pictures I could get. Now I have to figure out what I need to do to fix this. I am thinking I will cut one side of each handle and sew up the extra on the other side. I am hoping this works.

And in the future, for bags, that I want to do in seed, and have buttonhole handles for? I will be knitting the bag solid, felting and then just cutting the frigging handles into it.

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