Rules for Feeding the Stash

Friday, August 7, 2020

Numbers on a Friday

 1. What is this, twenty-one weeks since I started staying home? I think?

2. I have done virtually no knitting this week. I did maybe ten rows on a shawl sample and that's it. Hoping for a knitting marathon this weekend.

3. My textbooks have started arriving for fall semester! Classes start two weeks from Monday, and I'm excited and nervous. The books are looking good, though, and I think they'll all fit on the handy little shelf on my desk.

4. I got a wireless keyboard and mouse this week and it has been REVELATORY. My laptop is now stacked on a pile of books and my workspace is almost ergonomic. I have a yoga ball coming in the mail (hopefully today) to use as an alternative to my chair, and I think that will help a lot too.

5. I ordered the batting for a vintage quilt top I got several years ago, and I'm hoping to sandwich and pin it this weekend. I'd always planned on hand-quilting it, and I want to get it set up in my big needlework frame before school starts so I can use it as a study break.

6. I think that's all I have for now? Drink water. Wear your mask. Donate to bail funds/protest medics (yeah, protests are still going on). Call your representatives. Take five minutes to breathe. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Day 143

I'm really enjoying my last weeks of freedom before school starts. This weekend I made bread, because my fridge is full of pickles from my mum's garden, which means melted cheese and pickle sandwiches as often as I can eat them. I'm also getting ruthless with my to-read pile, determining which books I'm not going to read and what's realistic for me to finish in the next three weeks.

I have a new sweater sample on the needles and I'm really loving it. This is actually the second inception of this sweater—I'd originally planned it to be a cardigan, but after finishing the upper back and doing lots of planning for the upper front shaping, I decided I'd rather have it as a boxy cropped pullover. It's working out really well, I'm really enjoying knitting it, and I'm really looking forward to wearing it. I'm hoping for an early fall release for the pattern, but school could throw that off. I'm trying to go with the flow.

This week I'm hoping to do some more baking and read one or two of the romance novels on my list. I'm also very close to being finished with my cuddle blanket, but I don't know if I'll manage to bang the rest of that out this week or not. I'm also slowly but surely adding all my patterns to my new Payhip shop—it's taken me a bit longer than I'd hoped, but I'm over halfway done, and I'll definitely be all set up over there before school starts.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Day 133

The cuddle blanket is now about twice as large as it was when I pulled it out of the yarn closet, and it currently reaches from the floor to my chin. I feel pretty good about what I think the finished size will be, and I have just a few skeins left. The only real trouble with this right now is that it takes a bit of effort to turn it at the end of each row, but I still manage a pretty good rhythm when I'm working on it. There's a heat advisory here from noon today all through tomorrow, so with any luck I'll be able to bang out a big chunk of this while hiding in the air conditioning.

I've been fighting some kind of stomach bug this week—I must have eaten something bad, but I can't figure out what it must have been. Or it's stress. My GI tract doesn't really handle stress well, and let me tell you, as someone with both a GI disease and an anxiety disorder, that's a lot of fun. I've been eating lots of applesauce and chicken noodles, and I think I'm back to normal, or just about.

This coming Monday marks four weeks before I start grad school, and I have a pile of library books I still want to finish, so hopefully I'll get at least one of those done this weekend. My mum's garden is being productive as well, and I have a shelf full of cucumbers in my fridge to turn into pickles, so I've got a pretty full weekend ahead of me.

Monday, July 20, 2020

2020 Quiet Queers Craft Along

Last week the Quiet Queers Craft Along started over on Instagram (#QuietQueersCraftAlong). Last year I was a participating designer, but I wasn't able to actually make anything for the Craft Along, and I wanted to change that this year. I dug around in my stash, scrolled through designer portfolios, and came up with four potential projects.

Ultimately I decided on the Thunderbolt Shawl by Xandy Peters. It's a great shawl, and I had these two skeins that I knew would be perfect together for it. These yarns have been in my stash for years, and it feels great to finally have the perfect pattern for them.

I did have to do the setup section twice, as I missed an increase the first time and didn't realize until several inches later, but I'm really enjoying it so far. It's definitely not a brainless knit, but as long as I pay attention to the pattern it's pretty easy.

This weekend was pretty quiet. I finished one of the books on my list to finish before school starts, and I knit a little bit. This is week nineteen of isolation/quarantine for me, and I kinda swing between "absolutely fine" and "general panic for the state of everything," which is where I feel a lot of us are at right now. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

On Yarns and Substitutions

I hear A LOT from people who love specific patterns but can't afford the suggested yarns. I get it! I started knitting when I was a broke college student, and even now I have very little discretionary money because I have crazy high medical costs. Yarn is expensive! Yarn is especially expensive once you start shopping for garment quantities, and even more so if you're plus-sized!

Some designers use affordable yarns, and some designers make multiple samples or try to recommend different yarns across a variety of price points. This is incredibly helpful and generous, but a lot of designers just don't have the time or capability to make multiple samples, and if we get yarn support for a pattern, oftentimes we simply can't recommend other yarns.

Yarn support exists to mutually benefit designers and dyers. Dyers provide yarn for a pattern sample, either for free or reduced cost, and in return the designers promote the yarn alongside their pattern. Ideally, people who like the pattern will then buy yarn from the dyer, and people who like the dyer's yarn will buy the pattern from the designer. In an industry with incredibly narrow profit margins, these relationships can really help give each small business a boost.

Sometimes yarn support is a casual agreement between two friends in the industry. Sometimes there is an actual, binding contract between both parties. Either way, a designer can't just take yarn support and then immediately start promoting another yarn—it's not ethical, and it hurts the dyer, who took a financial risk by providing the yarn support in the first place.

So say you've found a pattern that you absolutely HAVE to knit, but the suggested yarn is out of your budget. All is not lost! No matter what, you can ALWAYS substitute yarn, and it's not difficult to do! I personally have used the suggested yarn for a pattern only once or twice, and I can get pretty adventurous with my yarn substitutions, but here are some basics:
  • you want to be able to get gauge
  • you want to mimic the properties of the suggested yarn (CAVEAT: sometimes you might want to use a totally different fiber to get a whole new look, but this is beyond what I'm covering here)
You always have to swatch to be sure you're getting gauge, but you definitely want a yarn that is very close, if not identical, in weight to the suggested yarn. Now, words like "fingering," "DK," "worsted," and "super bulky" are close to meaningless. Sure, there are recommendations about what yarns fit in what category, but I've worked with plenty of yarns whose categorizations I firmly disagree with.

The real trick to yarn weight is wpi, or wraps per inch. To calculate wpi, take the yarn and wrap it around a ruler until you have filled one inch with no gaps in the yarn. The number of times you wrapped the yarn around the ruler is the wpi.

"But what if I don't know the wpi of the suggested yarn??" Well, that's why I have another trick for yarn weight. It's not quite as precise as wpi, but it gets you pretty dang close: yardage per gram. I've seen "worsted-weight" yarns with anywhere from 180 to 260 yards per 100g, and there's no way they'd be appropriate substitutions for one another. But if the suggested yarn is 220yds/100g, there's a lot of yarns that offer the same yardage for that weight.

When I'm substituting, I usually allow a grace of 10-20yds per 100g (so, if a suggested yarn is 200yds/100g, I might still substitute one that's 215yds/100g)—that difference doesn't affect the wpi too much. Now, some fibers weigh more than others, which is why this method is less accurate than wpi, but it works a lot more than it doesn't.

You can also try holding two or three strands of a thinner yarn together to get a thicker yarn! I've successfully held two fingering-weight strands together as a substitute for worsted weight. Again, the trick here is to swatch. If you want to knit a DK or worsted-weight sweater, but the yarns in your budget don't have the colors you want in those weights, check out fingering or lace-weight yarns to see if you can double up strands to create a one-of-a-kind substitute!

Of course, you always have to swatch your substitution yarn to make sure that 1. you get gauge, and 2. you like the fabric you're getting at that gauge. I can knit a sport-weight yarn at a worsted-weight gauge, but the fabric is going to be pretty flimsy, which we probably don't want. I could also knit a bulky-weight at a worsted-weight gauge, but that fabric would be so stiff and dense it'd have almost no drape. So. Always swatch.

(This is a do as I say, not as I do. If you want to be like me and skip swatching sometimes, you must be prepared to rip out a lot. If ripping out all the time sounds like no fun, get used to swatching.)

The second factor to consider is the properties of the fibers in the yarn. Alpaca behaves very differently from cotton, but also merino wool behaves very differently from, say, Peruvian wool. Superwash wool often (but not always) behaves differently than non-superwash. Eventually, the more you play around with different yarns and fibers the better you'll be at determining what works where. I love substituting fibers, and I've knit several sweaters that called for a sturdy wool yarn out of majority alpaca blends instead to get very different garments.

When you want a close substitution, you want as close a match to the individual fiber blend as possible. For example, if a suggested yarn is a blend of 80/20 wool/nylon, I'm going to look for yarns with 15-25% nylon to be a close match. If a yarn is 50/50 wool/alpaca, I definitely want at least 30% alpaca in my substitution yarn.

Now, some blends are going to cost more, even from more affordable retailers. If you want a merino/cashmere/silk blend, it's going to cost more than a 100% merino yarn. If you have the money for it, by all means, buy the blend! Yarn is not only a source material for finished items, it is entertainment and leisure, and we're allowed to spend money on it! But if you don't have that much money in your budget, you can absolutely substitute a 100% merino yarn, or a 10/90 cashmere/merino and get gorgeous results. Again, always swatch to be sure you are getting gauge with your substituted blend.

Now an extra tip: if you have questions about substituting yarns, ask your local yarn store! It’s literally their job to know different yarns and to be able to help you find what you’re looking for. They know a lot about all kinds of yarns, and even if they don’t carry the suggested yarn they’ll know what properties to help you look for based on the weight and fiber content. They can also tell you how different fibers and blends will behave in case you’re looking to use a completely different yarn than the one recommended.

My own LYS is an hour away, so I know this isn’t a convenient option for many people, but most of the time you can reach out via email—especially if you already have a relationship with your LYS owner. LYS owners are experts on yarn, and they want your project to be a success, so definitely take advantage of them if you can!

I sincerely hope these tips help you feel more confident about substituting yarns—and remember! You can always substitute with something completely different, it just might yield a slightly different finished object. The real trick is to always swatch so you know how your substitution yarn behaves, and that will help you predict how your final result will turn out!

**I did not mention acrylic yarns because I personally don't have much experience with them, but there are fantastic acrylic options at numerous price points, and they can act as substitutions for many fibers and blends—be adventurous and remember to swatch!

Monday, July 13, 2020

New Pattern: Changing Lanes

Changing Lanes is perfect for all kinds of yarns—solids, tonals, speckles—so you can pull out any of your favorite skeins to knit it up. The shawl is fully reversible and features alternating sections of single and triple rib, making it an easy and portable knit perfect for carting around in your bag or working on during your latest Netflix binge.

I really struggled with naming this shawl, but fortunately Instagram came through! I asked my followers and got a bunch of good ideas, and Changing Lanes won out!

Changing Lanes is currently available on Ravelry and on LoveCrafts!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Day 119

Well, it's been a while! Friday I had the day off, so I slept in and just had a lazy day at home, and Monday I had to brave my way into the city for a doctor's appointment. Not much has happened since I last chatted with you—I've been pretty bored, honestly. Nothing on tv interests me, my books aren't really interesting me, and I haven't even really felt much like knitting. I'm pretty sure it's just a quarantine slump, but man I wish it'd wrap up soon so I stop feeling so bored all the time.

The other day I pulled out my cuddle blanket, which I haven't worked on in ages—probably not since I was still living with my mum. It's been a pretty low-priority project for me, but I want the space that it's taking up in my yarn closet and it'll also count a lot towards my Stash Dash goal. It's a bit unwieldy to work on, as it's so big now, and the needles are much larger than what I usually use, so I can't really work on it for more than 30-60 minutes at a time, but it'll be great to have it finished, especially once summer's over and cuddle weather starts setting in.

I'm not really planning too much for this weekend. I have some admin work to catch up on, but I'm also hoping to take some time to just consciously be lazy in an attempt to kick this boredom streak. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Day 108

First, just a quick announcement: if you are unable to access Ravelry and want to buy my patterns, they are all available on LoveCrafts. I love the community on Ravelry, and I sincerely hope that Ravelry fixes their accessibility issues soon so that everyone can keep participating.

This weekend was kind of a wash. I feel like that's happening a lot lately, but there's A Lot going on in the world right now, and I think that if I'm able to keep functioning at the level I am during the week then it's probably fair to take two days to eat chips and read romance novels and watch reality television.

I didn't get as much work done on my Sazerac as I'd hoped, and I'm just over halfway through one repeat on the front right now. I'd hoped to get a full repeat done, but c'est la vie. I'm still completely charmed by these cables, and this yarn feels like kittens, and I can't wait for it to get cold again. (It's supposed to get up close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit today and I am Done With It.)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Day 105

I'm low-key freaking out about the fact that I thought it'd be a good idea to sign up for the 10k-meter finish line for Stash Dash, how are all of you?

I do this thing where I make decisions without really thinking too much about them and then I spend way more time overthinking them and convincing myself I've made a mistake. Was signing up for the 10k a mistake? I joined Stash Dash late, just two weeks ago, and looking at what I'd already finished since May 22 I saw I was at 2000m already, so the 10k sounded reasonable. Now I'm sitting with two finished sleeves and an entire sweater body to go and realizing that it'll only bring me up to ~4500m once it's finished, and who knows how much time will be left in Stash Dash at that point??

Realistically, there's almost two months left. I'll probably be okay. And if I'm not, it's okay. It's a game, and no one is going to be hurt if I don't hit 10k. I know this.

But also there's a lot going on that's outside of my control and I'm a LITTLE BIT of a control freak (and by a little bit I mean A LOT) and this is something I have some control over and it makes sense that I'm clinging to it and putting pressure on myself to be in total control of this one thing. But also, there's a lot going on that's really stressful right now and I probably don't need to be putting this much extra pressure on myself.

Brains are weird.

Anyway, I finished two sleeves last night, I knit the first row of the front bottom ribbing, and I'm about a third of the way to a finished sweater, so overall I'm doing pretty good. I still have no reason to be working on a cashmere-blend sweater when it is NINETY DEGREES OUT beyond "it's for Stash Dash," but I am a free knitter and I answer to no one. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Day 101

Thank you everyone, for your kind words and your support as I prepare to start grad school! It really means a lot that I have such a wonderful, supportive community here.

This weekend was pretty busy for me, but it was all good stuff! I did some planning for my design work and finished my ribbed shawl sample, and then I spent several hours yesterday watching reality tv and working on my Sazerac. This is the third time I've tried knitting this yarn, and I think this is the winning pattern. This is definitely not the time of year to be thinking about a wool/cashmere cabled pullover, but I decided to jump in and do Stash Dash this year, and I already had half the sleeves done on this. I'm knitting the sleeves two-at-a-time, which means when they're finished I'll already be a third of the way through the sweater, and sleeve island will be behind me.

I have another sweater I'm working on intermittently—it's a design sample that's been on hold for a while now while I figured out some motif placement on the fronts, but I'm ready to start work on it again. I'm hoping to have it finished and the pattern written before my fall classes start, but we'll see how it goes. I'm pretty confident that the biggest stumbling block is now behind me, but you can never know for sure until it's finished! 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Something New

Hi Kittens. I've been wanting to share this with you for a while now, and I'm so excited.

In two months I'll be starting grad school for my Master's in Library and Information Science!

I've been wanting to get my master's since I was still in undergrad, but I haven't been able to make it happen until now. I'll still be working full-time at the library, and I'll be taking online classes. So. I'm going to be very, very busy.

I'm not planning on stopping blogging or designing. They're both very important to me. Obviously, I'll have less knitting time, and I may not get new patterns finished with the frequency I have the past few years, but I have some great projects in my design notebook that I'm really looking forward to working on.

This is a really big step for me, and a big change, and while I am nervous about it, I'm mostly very excited. I've been working on the application/decision/enrollment process since December, and it feels so weird to know I only have a couple months left before classes actually start.

It's definitely going to be a big adjustment—my boss is very supportive of me, and is happy to flex my work schedule around my classes, but also we're still in the middle of a pandemic, and while I'm working from home now, none of us really know for how long that's going to be an option. 2020 doesn't really feel like the most auspicious year to start grad school, but I've been waiting to get on this train for so long that I'm not going to jump off now! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

New Pattern: Rockport Tank

Some of my favorite days growing up were visits to port towns along the New England coast. I spent several happy weekends at my friend’s home in Rockport. In the off season we’d watch the boats, dive into the frigid ocean, play on the docks, help the neighbors dig for clams—everything we couldn’t do in my own small town further inland.

In summer there was more fun to be had—tourist watching, wandering through shops, playing on the beach, cooking out, and eating our weight in ice cream and salt water taffy. The Rockport Tank is perfect for those kinds of summertime adventures.

The Rockport Tank is worked in one piece from the bottom up. The bottom edge features a twisted rib and lace detail, and the tank is worked in the round to the underarms. The upper front and back are finished flat, then topped off with i-cord straps.

Lace is both charted and written out.

Sizes: 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60, 64, 68)in/81.5 (91.5, 101.5, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152.5, 162.5, 172.5)cm at bust, to be worn with 0-2in/0-5cm positive ease

Yarn: 630 (710, 790, 870, 945, 1025, 1185, 1260, 1340)yds/576 (650, 722, 795, 864, 937, 1010, 1084, 1152, 1225)m sport-weight yarn (Suggested: LoftyFiber Euroflax Sport Weight, 100g/270yds, “Navy”)

Sample is shown in size 48in/122cm on model who is 5’4” tall and has a 46in/117cm bust

Pattern is now available on Ravelry, and is 20% off with code SALTWATER through Saturday, June 20th! 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Day Ninety-Four

Y'all, I've been hit hard by the organizing bug. Over the weekend I went through my fabric stash and reorganized everything—I got rid of some stuff I didn't like and I pulled out three projects worth of fabric to have at the ready when I feel like sitting on my kitchen floor and tracing patterns.

I also went through my bookshelves and pulled a lot of stuff to sell to the used bookstore in the city. Like. A lot. (Don't worry, my shelves are still pretty dang full.)

I love my stuff, and I love having lots of stuff around me, but every so often I feel the need to just blaze through and get rid of some of it. Shed the old, prepare for the new. Remove the things that aren't really serving me anymore and making space for things that I will want and love.

Because I was so busy organizing this weekend, I didn't get much knitting done—maybe four to eight rows on my ribbed shawl. That's fine; I usually get plenty of knitting done during the week. I do tend to like to get a bunch of cooking and/or baking done during the weekend, but that didn't happen either. Again, that's fine. I have butter softening and ready on my counter whenever I find a chance to throw a cake together (or cookie bars; man have I been craving cookie bars).

As always, keep washing your hands and wearing a mask. Covid numbers are not going down, and we need to protect each other. If you're protesting, thank you. Stay hydrated and keep your emergency contacts updated. If you're not protesting, keep donating to bail funds and medics and keep calling your officials and representatives. Take care of yourselves, kittens. I love you all. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

13 Weeks

It's hard to believe I've been home for thirteen weeks. I'm doing weekly grocery shops, and I've gone to a few small local businesses, but cases are starting to ramp up and we're entering our first peak here, so I'm back down to weekly grocery shops only. I haven't seen new projections, but ones from April showed us hitting our peak around the end of June. I'll be working from home for sure for another eight weeks, and then we'll see.

If you're protesting, keep up the good work. Thank you so much for what you're doing. If you're not protesting, please keep supporting protesters—donate to bail funds and protest medics and keep calling your local representatives and officials. Black lives matter, and we need to end police brutality, over-policing, and mass incarceration.

On to the knitting: my tank top sample is done and the pattern is with my tech editor. I'm hoping to get photos taken either today or over the weekend, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. My current projects are two shawl samples, including this ribbed shawl I started a while back. I'm past the halfway point on it now, and I'm really pleased with how it's knitting up. It's definitely not a summery shawl, but as much as summer takes up a lot of my mental space (I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here, but I have summertime seasonal affective disorder, which lowkey sucks) the reality is winter here lasts six months, easily, so it will be nice to have this waiting in a few months when temperatures start to dip again.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Numbers on Day Eighty-Seven

1. I spent pretty much all weekend working on the pattern for my new tank only to realize that I'd buggered up the entire upper body and also made a glaring error. I swore a lot, I cried a bit, and I think I got all the math fixed. I'm in the process of ripping back to before the underarm bindoff now, send coffee.

2. My county has more than doubled it's covid cases since last Thursday. We'd been pretty untouched for a long time, and we hadn't had any new cases in two weeks when a bunch more started being recorded on Friday. We went from fifteen cases to thirty-two in just three days, and we have cases tied to at least three local businesses. We've known from projections that South Dakota wouldn't hit its first covid peak until mid to late June, and it's really weird watching it finally happen.

3. If you're protesting, thank you. Please remember to take care of yourself. If you're not protesting, check in with protesters, donate to a bail fund or protest medics, check in to see what support your local protesters need, and keep contacting your local and state officials.

4. It was stupid hot here yesterday and it's going to be stupid hot again today. I hates it. Tonight we're supposed to get some thunderstorms and tomorrow and the rest of the week will be cooler. I can't wait.

I think that's it for today. Stay hydrated, kittens. I love you all.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Day Eighty-Four

Most of this week was a loss. I'd been feeling a depressive episode coming on for a couple weeks, and I finally tipped over sometime on Monday. Fortunately I was pretty well prepared, and I started feeling better yesterday afternoon. I'm sure there might be some dips over the next few days, but I'm cautiously optimistic that I'm coming out of it. 

I haven't really shared my tank sample since I cast it on, and it's almost finished! There's a few rows of the upper back left and then straps, and I'm hoping to finish writing the pattern this weekend. I'm not sure yet which project will take this one's place—it's been my main project since I finished the unicorn sweater, and I don't really know if I have another "almost-mindless" project to take it's place. I'm sure I'll figure it out, though.

If you're protesting, mask up and drink lots of water. If you're not protesting, check in with protesters, donate to a bail fund and/or protest medics, and contact your representatives. Love you all. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

Day Eighty

Thanks for all the love for my unicorn sweater! I'm really, really in love with it, and I'm so glad that it's bringing a smile to you all as well. This weekend was pretty quiet for me: a few naps, lots of reading, and some podcasts and knitting. 

Please, if you haven't yet, donate to your city's bail fund, or one of the organizations I've listed below, or another organization in your community helping protesters and defending Black lives and working to end police brutality:
Saturday night my two best friends from college and I had a virtual Christmas Party. We've been rewatching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries together over the phone, and earlier last week we finished season two. We'd hoped to get through the Christmas in July episode that night, but decided we were too tired, and I threw out the idea of a party. We each had hot chocolate and some decorations, and I even found a box of candy canes I'd hidden in the back of my cupboard in December, and it really was the thing to lift our spirits for a few hours.

Last week I also got photos of my My Little Secret Crop! I knit this a bit longer than the pattern called for, and I'm very happy with it. It's too hot to wear wool now, even as a crop top, but I'm definitely looking forward to wearing it more this fall! 

Ravelry Page: My Little Secret Crop
Pattern: My Little Secret Crop by Jessie Maed Designs
Yarn: Knit Picks Hawthorne Sport Multi, "Happy Valley"

Friday, May 29, 2020



This is easily one of my favorite things I've ever made. I love it. It came out exactly how I hoped it would, the colors are perfect, I can't get over it. I love it.

I started knitting this in October 2018, but I first had the idea some time before that. I was a supporter of the Great Northern Kickstarter, and when the Lonely Souls pattern was released I soon realized that it had a lot of potential. The pattern is great as written, but for my own tastes I decided to change all the moss stitch to 1x1 ribbing, and I eliminated the clever little overlaps at the hem and sleeve cuffs.

I added a bit of length to the body (I'm not sure how much, I kind of just eyeballed it) and I added two inches to the sleeves. I love shortened sleeves, but I prefer them to hit below my elbow. I also knew I wanted to eliminate the keyhole back—it's super cute, and I love the way Teresa designed it, but having just a small spot on my back where I can feel the breeze drives me crazy. I waffled a bit on how I wanted to do the yoke—I initially thought of knitting the yoke in the round and doing the unicorns in duplicate stitch afterwards, but at the last minute I decided to knit the yoke flat as written and use intarsia. I decided that duplicate stitch would feel too thick in those spots, and I was worried at this gauge (it's not super loose, but it's definitely not dense) that the speckled yoke might show through the duplicate stitch.

Obviously, I changed the horse chart from the pattern to a unicorn. That was pretty easy, and I typed up my new chart in excel and printed it out alongside the pattern instructions. I mirrored the instructions for the second unicorn, and I also changed the placement, moving each chart ten stitches towards the center, so the unicorns would be more on my chest than hiding in my armpit. I don't think I would have changed their placement if my bust was significantly smaller, but knowing how far out my bosom protrudes, there was a real chance that you'd only be able to see the unicorns from the side if I'd left it as written!

I closed up the back of the yoke with mattress stitch before knitting the neckline ribbing. I did shorten the yoke a bit—as written, there should have been another inch or two and a fourth row of decreases, but at some point my stitch count became very off (????), and I was running out of the speckled yarn, so I tried on the sweater, decided exactly how many decreases I wanted before the neckline (not as many as written, because of the stitch count problem), and did the ribbing. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to a deeper yoke (I love a deep, roomy yoke!), but I'm really happy with how the yoke came out. It fits well, and the silhouette works perfectly with my plan for the sweater.

As far as my name for the project on Ravelry, well, the sweater has unicorns, and they're not lonely souls, because they're right there with their friend. I know, I'm adorable.

Ravelry Page: Not-So-Lonely Unicorns
Pattern: Lonely Souls by Teresa Gregorio
Yarn: Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering, "Turkish Delight" and "Andromeda Speckle"

Friday, May 22, 2020

Day Seventy

I can't believe it's been ten weeks! The pandemic has really changed a lot very quickly, and it's hard to comprehend that I've been isolating in my apartment for so long.

Anyway. Let's talk knitting! I finished the sleeves for my unicorn sweater and got them attached to the body, and I'm currently ten rows into the 26-row intarsia chart. I very rarely knit yoke sweaters from the bottom-up, and that first inch after attaching the sleeves is so hard! I'd love to get the intarsia finished this weekend so I can zip through the yoke decreases and get started on finishing, but it took over five hours to knit the first twelve rounds of the yoke (two rounds in the MC followed by ten rows of intarsia), so we'll see how I do.

I went back and forth up until about three minutes before I started the yoke about whether I wanted to knit the yoke flat and do the colorwork in intarsia, as written, or if I wanted to knit it in the round and duplicate stitch my unicorns on later. Obviously, I decided to go with intarsia, and now I have a confusing, tangled mess to deal with. It'll all be worth it, though.

I'll go more into details about mods when the sweater is finished, but it's pretty heavily modified, just for my own preferences. It's made following some parts of the pattern challenging, as I have to remember what I've changed and how it affects the instructions, but that's all my own fault for making half-assed notes on the pattern (and using water-soluble ink and then spilling beverages on it, so quite a few of my notes are now just a blob...).

As always, I love you. You are each very special to me, and the world is better for you being in it. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Day Sixty-Six

No photo today. I've been too lazy to come up with something to photograph, which is telling, as I've actually made quite a bit of progress on a couple different knits. The second sleeve of my unicorn sweater is moving along—it's not quite halfway done yet, but still, that's good progress—and I've passed the halfway point on the body of my tank top sample.

This weekend was mostly pretty quiet. Saturday morning my mum and I got up early to drive to the next big town near us to see if their Walmart had dog food, as ours has been out. My car hasn't gotten to go on the highway since early March, so it was nice to get her out for a drive. Alas, we didn't have any luck finding dog food, but my sister managed to score some in the city later in the weekend, so we're set for a while now.

When we got back, I pretty much went straight back to bed. When I finally woke up again, I read in bed, until late afternoon, when I went to mum's for egg rolls and special rice for dinner. Then I had a bubble bath and afterwards I watched some cartoons and knit a bit. And that was Saturday.

Yesterday was also fairly nap-heavy, but I managed to get a pan of brownies made and two dozen chocolate cupcakes. I had the idea a couple weeks ago to make chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and keeping them in the freezer so I could grab a quick piece of cake when I wanted. Today I'll make the frosting, and I'm also hoping to bake bread, as it's been a while since I've done that.

Overall, not a bad weekend. This week I'm starting a time-consuming, detail-oriented, somewhat boring work project, which, while not as interesting as some of what I do, is very important, and will give me a chance to catch up on some podcasts.

Hang in there. You're doing your best, and that's enough. We are all trying to be patient and generous, even though it's hard sometimes. I love you all, specially and individually. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

Day Fifty-Nine

Happy Monday! Is it Monday? Time is meaningless. Anyway.

It feels like it's been a hot minute since I've shared my unicorn sweater on the blog, but quarantine has me making some major progress. I finally finished the lower body, which should not have taken the better part of a year and a half to get through, but that's what I get for starting projects willy nilly and then abandoning them in strange corners of my apartment.

I'm even almost finished the first sleeve! It's amazing how much more quickly half sleeves knit up than full sleeves. I think there's about ten more rounds on this before I can attach it to the body and start the second sleeve. I binged the podcast The Dream last week, and that was the perfect background to knit to (except when I had to pause it to call my mum to relay a particularly horrifying story).

I'd like to get both sleeves finished and attached this week, and I think that's a reasonable goal. I still have my tank sample to work on, and that cabled sweater I've only briefly mentioned here but haven't actually shown you all yet, but for some reason some mindless stockinette sounds like just the ticket right now.

It was a quiet weekend here at Casa Wayward. I made a blueberry coffee cake on Saturday afternoon for my mum for Mother's Day—I have a thing about most cooked fruit, so I never make coffee cake with blueberries, but for her I can make an exception.

My town is talking about starting to open up, which makes me nervous. We haven't hit our peak here yet, and aren't due to until next month. I don't know what's going to happen with my town or with my work, but I'm definitely not planning to leave my apartment for more than safe bike rides or weekly grocery trips for a while. It's a strange, strange world we're living in right now.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Day Fifty-Six

I've been working from home for eight weeks now. It feels simultaneously like I just started two weeks ago and that I've been doing this forever. The university is supposed to start opening up after next week, at least for staff and faculty. I don't know what that means for me, yet. I don't know what anything means right now.

I started this My Little Secret Crop Top back in March, right when the pattern was initially released. I banged out most of the body pretty quickly, and then it sat for a while while I dithered on how much length to add. In the past couple days, I've finished the body and the first strap. I hate knitting straps, but I know I can finish this in less than an hour if I just sit down and make myself do it. 

I could probably do a lot of things right now, if I just sat down and made myself do them.

Yesterday I made bagels. My stand mixer arrived on Wednesday, and she is the brightest gem in my life. Today I plan to make eggs so I can turn some of the bagels into breakfast sandwiches to keep in the freezer for days when I just really need a breakfast sandwich. 

I've been poking at some housework this week. I made a list in my phone of housekeeping projects I want to get done during quarantine. Some are bigger than others; I don't know if I'll get them all done. 

Lee Lee has arthritis, and her bad leg has really been bothering her for a couple weeks. This week we got a hold of some pain meds for her, and she's starting to improve. I find myself gauging my mood based on how she's feeling: if she isn't walking, it'll be a quiet, slow day, and if she's happy to wake up and ready to try running, then it will be a good day. My own moods lately feel at once unchanging and wildly unpredictable, leaving me feeling like nothing is changing but also exhausted from the work of existing as a person. It's no wonder I'm trying to outsource my own feelings to my dog's recovery.

Hang in there, kittens. The first wave hasn't even peaked here, yet, but I know some of you are already gearing up to prepare for the second wave. You are beautiful, and you are strong, and you're doing great so far. I know it doesn't always feel like it, but you're doing enough. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Day Fifty-Two

Hello, Kittens! I hope you all had a good weekend, whatever that means for you.

The tank top sample I cast on last week is progressing nicely—I'm a few rounds away from starting the waist shaping, and I'm maybe having a little bit of a wobble because I'm knitting this from the bottom up and I'm not used to waist shaping from this direction. But! It will be fine! I have done math and I have checked it multiple times and everything is going to work out GREAT.

Yesterday my mum and I went to the greenhouse in town so mum could get some stuff for her garden and I maybe tripped a little bit and bought some new plants myself. This prompted me to reorganize my succulent/cactus aquarium, which I've been wanting to do for a couple weeks now. I turned it on it's side, which gives me more surface area inside as well as the ability to put things on top of the tank as well. It blocks less of the window this way, and it'll be much easier for me to water the plants inside now (as opposed to having to stand on my tiptoes to reach down inside the tank to water them before). I'm very pleased with the final result.

My new stand mixer is due to arrive anytime between tomorrow and Saturday. I am, of course, crossing my fingers for an earlier delivery, but as long as it gets here safe and in one piece I will be a very happy baker. I worked on tidying up my kitchen yesterday so I have a space on my counter ready for my new addition, whenever it arrives.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Day Forty-Nine

Is it depressing seeing how many days I've been home in the post titles? I started it as a way to keep track, but I can change it up if it is.

This week I made bagels! I've been wanting to make bagels for a long time, and these came out GREAT. The recipe only makes four bagels though, and since I only have a hand mixer right now I had to mimic a dough hook with my spatula at the end of mixing to get the dough ready. It'd be tough to do that if I multiplied the recipe.

So I ordered a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

I've been wanting one for a while, but they are EXPENSIVE, but also they last a long time, and I'd use it every week, probably multiple times a week, but they cost SO MANY DOLLARS...and back and forth and back and forth. For years.

I ended up ordering a refurbished one, because they're just as good and quite a bit cheaper. It'll be here sometime next week and then I will be able to bake ALL THE THINGS.

Back to bagels: these are so good. Since being diagnosed with celiac disease ten years ago I've only had one really good bagel, and the rest have been "better than no bagels, but not great." These bagels are great. I almost cried when I ate the first one, it was so good. The other night I made eggs Benedict on one of my homemade bagels and it was the most delicious and satisfying thing I've ever eaten.

I'm hoping to be able to make some big batches when my stand mixer comes so I can share bagels with my mum and also make some breakfast sandwiches to keep in the freezer. I want to get better about meal prepping on the weekends (for reasons) and having a stand mixer so my hands don't get worn out doing all the baking with a hand mixer is really going to help! 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Day Forty-Five

Look, a photo!

I think I'm going to scale back to blogging twice a week, probably on Mondays and Fridays. This is something I've been thinking about since last summer, and there's enough going on in my life even without all this Covid nonsense that I think twice a week is a good move.

Anyway, updates: the new sweater I mentioned last week and STILL HAVEN'T SHOWN YOU is doing good. I think I'm about halfway through the sleeves? This sweater is knit flat and seamed and starts with the sleeves (no sleeve island later!), so I'm doing them two at a time because wow, I hate being stuck on sleeve island.

I spent several days this week working on my vest sample before realizing last night that it is absolutely not working as I'd hoped and needs to be ripped back to before the underarms. I also realized that it's going to need four skeins instead of three, so that's a problem. I reached out to the one person on Ravelry who has a skein in this colorway in their stash, and if I hear back, great. If not, I have another idea I could use this yarn for, and this vest will just get shuffled off to next summer's list. I'll survive.

After all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the vest, I cast on what was supposed to be my second summer pattern, a tank with some lace around the bottom. It has only half of a round so far, as I cast it on at eleven last night, but I'm hopeful that I can catch up on my Netflix queue and start banging it out.

I didn't do too much baking last week, other than a coffee cake on Saturday. I'm hoping to do bagels this week—I've never done bagels before, but I've also only had one really, really good bagel since being diagnosed with celiac disease, so they've been high on my baking list for a while. I've also been craving Eggs Benedict like crazy, so once I get a batch of bagels done, I can make that as well!

I love you all. Your skin's looking great, and whatever you've been doing to your hair is really working for you. You are a beacon of loveliness in a world of uncertainty. Your houseplants are thriving. Your pets are so glad you're home. Remember that I cherish each one of you individually.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day Thirty-Eight

1. Yeah, no photo today. My house isn't the best place to take WIP photos? And also I've been forgetting until there's been no natural light. I mean, there's a pandemic going on, I'll take photos later.

2. I have started a new sweater with some yarn that's been in my stash for ages. I tried knitting it up twice, but each time I was wrong about what it wanted to be. I think I'm right this time, though.

3. I've read six romance novels in the past two days.

4. I successfully made my first loaf of sourdough last week! It doesn't have any nice bubbles, but it's hard to get bubbles without gluten. I'll experiment more later with adding xantham gum to try to encourage bubbles. I've been studying and trying for sourdough on and off for years, so this success is really gratifying.

5. I think that's all I have for now? Sorry for not blogging for two weeks. I promise I meant to, and I kept forgetting because time is meaningless. But I want to do better. So. Hope you're all doing well, whatever that means for you. Please be gentle with yourselves and your loved ones. Maybe make cookies? I did that last week and it made me feel pretty good. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Day Twenty-Four: Numbers

1. No photo today. I'm sure I could have found something to take a photo of, but I was tired.

2. Yesterday was hard. I ended up having to scream into a pillow. We're all struggling. We'll be okay.

3. I made cookies this weekend and didn't put enough flour in. I have been using this cookie recipe for over twenty years. This is the second bake I've messed up so far during this pandemic. I suppose if all I'm doing is making some funny-looking but still delicious bakes, I'm doing okay.

4. My sourdough starter might be ready to start baking today. Yesterday it was close, and I decided to give it another day. I mean, I have the time

5. I have been out of chips for four days and it's really hard. Tomorrow morning is the hour at the store for elderly and at-risk people, so I'll be able to stock up for the next week.

6. I also need to get some puzzles. I mean, I have puzzles. But my current puzzle is a 1000-piece Chagall, and my other puzzles are a 1500-piece Van Gogh, a 1000-piece Frida Kahlo, and a 500-piece puzzle that's all black and white. I really need an easy puzzle (well, a few easy puzzles). I'm going to check the store when I go tomorrow for some 300-piece ones or some 500-piece ones that aren't black and white and therefore needlessly complicated. (Also, Puzzle Warehouse is still shipping, just FYI).

I think that's it for today. Please keep taking care of yourselves, kittens. We're all doing our best. We're doing great. I love you all specially and individually. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Day Twenty-One

Well, I've made it to the end of the third week of isolation. I don't know how long you all have been isolating, but we're doing great. I had a bit of a wobble at the beginning of the week because apparently Pandemic Stress wants to give me new nightmares, but I'm doing better now.

Last week I started knitting Wild Sky, which has been in my queue since Cory released it, and I thought I had the perfect yarn for it in the form of this mystery skein my friend Annika sent me when she destashed a bunch of her yarn. The color is great, it's got great bounce, and I really thought this was going to be an easy project.

Except, of course, there's not enough yarn. I'm three repeats in, of the written four, and that little ball that's left isn't even enough for all the crown decreases, never mind a whole extra repeat before that. I'm super bummed, because I've been looking forward to this project and now I'll have to find another yarn that ticks all the same boxes this skein did.

Looking forward to this project so much and having it not work out because of factors beyond my control feels a bit on the nose right now.

Yesterday I made cinnamon rolls for my sister, who has taken over doing my laundry during the pandemic so I don't have to be exposed to the laundromat. She's also a CNA at our town's nursing home, so she's a champ on many, many fronts, and she absolutely deserves her favorite baked goods.

You all look great. Whatever you're doing with your hair? Is working for you. Sending all my love, etc. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Day Nineteen

Well, we've made it to April. 

I finally got hit with a big wave of loneliness yesterday—it felt ridiculous, since I've been on the phone with my mum every day, and we've visited each other outside the past several days, but I just got another wave of how different everything is and it was too much. 

On one of my most recent runs to the store I picked up a big bag of birdseed for the feeder outside my living room window. I figure if Lee Lee and I are stuck at home all the time, at least we can have something fun to look at. Not all of the neighborhood birds have realized it's full yet, but we've had a couple finches visit. 

I've been baking a lot. Baking is always soothing for me, and now I have the time and flexibility in my day to bake a lot. It's a concrete way of remembering that I have an effect on the world around me—I can't really do anything to stop Covid-19 (yes, I know that staying home is the most important thing I can do), but I can make a cake. I can make bread. I can do things. I matter.

It's not just baking, either: I can pull the dead leaves off my plants. I can knit a row on my sweater. I can put birdseed in my feeder so the finches get nice and fat. It's those small but still tangible things that are going to help us get through this.

We're all in this together. We are so strong and creative and resilient. We're doing our best. We're superstars, every one of us. I love you all.

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Pile of FOs

Do I have lots of pretty photos of finished knits to share with you? Yup. I washed my hair and put on a bra and everything. It's a photo-heavy post, but if there's anything we all have, it's time to scroll through and look at lots of pretty knitting pictures. Here we go:

Up first is my Old Harry, which is FINALLY finished after spending way too long on the needles. It came out exactly how I wanted it too, and I even got Lee Lee in for some pictures!

Pattern: Old Harry by Kat Riddell
Yarn: Knit Picks Preciosa Tonal Fingering,"Anemone" and "Boysenberry" 

Next is this cowl I made with a bunch of my Malabrigo Rios scraps. I love this so much. It came out exactly how I pictured it. I can't believe it took almost four years for me to actually finish it, but it's great. It's just moss stitch, changing colors when I ran out of one. I just magic knotted the yarns together, and changed them wherever the old yarn ran out, even in the middle of rows.

Ravelry Page: Rios Scraps Cowl
Pattern: None, I made it up IN MY BRAIN
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Rios, various

My first "Quick Win" project of Quarantine is my Purl Soho Bandana Cowl. I originally had another pattern in mind for this yarn, but I had thought I had two skeins instead of one, so the other pattern wouldn't have worked. I got this skein from my friend Annika, and I don't know what colorway it is and I'm too lazy to scroll through all of Malabrigo's colorways to check. It's a great color for me, though, and a great little cowl. Mine is a bit shorter than the sample as I only did three sets of decreases instead of the five that were written, because I ran out of yarn. I also had to knit it twice because I forgot how to read patterns. It's okay, I had the time.

Ravelry Page: Bandana Cowl
Pattern: Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Chunky, unknown

When I first designed Breony, I knew the original sample was going to go live with Tara. About a year after sending the sample to her, I grabbed this skein from her to knit a Breony of my own. And then I let it sit in my stash for years. I knew this hat would take only a few hours to knit, but I never cast it on. I'm thrilled with it. I made the brim a little deeper on this one than is written BECAUSE I COULD. I love the soft pinks in this yarn, and I'm super happy with how it knit up.

Ravelry Page: Breony
Pattern: Breony by Kat Riddell
Yarn: The Dyeing Arts Rogue, "Bermuda" 

As always, much love to you all. Every one of you individually is my best friend. You're doing great. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day Fourteen

So, clearly I'm still trying to adjust to whatever my new schedule is. It's weird. It's all weird. I love being home, and I love being by myself, and even I'm struggling with this new normal. My heart goes out to everyone who's really missing being around people and being in public places. This sucks, but we're tough.

I've pretty much stopped sample knitting. I don't know if I'm still mad at my vest for having the wrong increases, or if I don't love the concept, or if the weight of *gestures widely* makes the thought of "work knitting" just too much.

I very nearly cast on a laceweight sweater last week, but I reigned myself in and decided instead to focus on some quick projects that have been in my queue for an age and a half. Let me tell you, if you have the stash for some quick projects, they are GREAT right now. In just a day or two, you go from "a skein of yarn" to "new cowl!" or "new hat!" and that feeling is incredible. It's an easy win, and it's a sign of progress in a time when time itself feels meaningless.

So far I've knit a Purl Soho Bandana Cowl, a Breony (which I've been meaning to do since the original sample went to live with Tara YEARS AGO), and most of an Arikaa Cowl (it just needs a seam and fringe). I also finished my Rios Scraps Cowl, which has been on the needles since 2016 and came out EXACTLY how I wanted. I'm also doing Jessie Mae's MKAL, which I'm really loving right now—ribbing in the round forever and ever with medium-weight yarn? That's exactly what the doctor ordered right now.