Category Archives: Uncategorized

Four Things

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Just a quick post today to tell you four things…

1) I absolutely love, Love, LOVE this colorway from KnitCircus Yarns, What Happens at Knit Night:

This is one of those yarns (like Anne with an E) that I would buy simply for the name!  Although, I really love the colors too.  I’m sitting on my hands so I won’t impulsively buy it. [Truth be told, the fingering weight that I would want is out of stock anyway.]

2) My nephew got a snake for a pet.  I feel bad for my sister.

3) I can’t put down Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben.  I told you I new I would love it.  You’ve got to try one of his books if you like mystery/thriller books.

4) It is below freezing out and I’m tired of it.

Out, and in, too, apparently.  [That’s downstairs.  I’m upstairs and it’s toasty here in my craft/blogging room.]

I can’t wait for spring.

That is all.  Have a great weekend!

Three Lessons In Pushing The Reset Button

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Sometimes life just doesn’t go your way.  You make a mistake or a wrong choice and you feel upset and disappointed. Not necessarily with something big and earthshaking – sometimes it’s just the little things that can really annoy you. It is at those times, you need to take a deep breath, push your reset button and then keep on going.  Want a few examples?

Reset Button Lesson #1: I recently lost a game of yarn chicken, running out of yarn with just 2 rounds and the bind off left to knit on my Diamond Tempest Cowl.  It was aggravating and disappointing. I’ve put it behind me now and the best way to do that was this:

…which is the easiest, fastest and least painful (because it’s fast) way to frog (rip out) a project. Reset partially accomplished.  [I love my ball winder.  The company that makes mine went out of business but you can get one like this or like thisif your local yarn shop doesn’t have them!]  

The other way to help me reset my mindset after that pain in the neck nice lesson in the need for a gauge swatch, was to distance myself from that project for a bit and work on something else.  I finished the Almost Lost Washcloth, using Sun Kissed cotton yarn (a new yarn at The Spinning Room if you are local):

This was quick to knit up and I think I did a pretty good job with my seam (at right about 3 o’clock in the picture).  The picture of the washcloth doesn’t show very well the pretty tonal quality of the yarn – you can see it better in person and in the ball of yarn. There is also a mini version!  Reset fully accomplished.

And now, I’m ready to begin anew:

The correct needle size is now at the ready to make a swatch so I will know that my gauge is correct and not run out of yarn again.

Reset Button Lesson #2:  I was reading The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian and just wasn’t comfortable with the story line.  Very succinctly, it centered around a family man caught up in a Russian sex slave/prostitution case when he thought they were just having a fun bachelor party for his brother. I liked his writing and how be brought the story along, but I just didn’t like the subject, so I put it down. It was disappointing to me because I don’t do that often. I have this idea of not “giving up” on a book. In this case, though, I just couldn’t finish it.

To reset, I picked up Fool Me Once by one of my favorite authors, Harlan Coben, and immediately got drawn into the story and I’m loving it.  Which I knew I would because I love him.  Reset accomplished. [click on those links to purchase on Amazon]

Reset Button Lesson #3: All this talk of pushing the reset button reminded me of one of my favorite salads!  The Reset Button Salad, which I found on the Shutterbean blog, is a great way to reset your diet when you have overindulged over the holidays or a weekend or any random day when peeps and jellybeans are in season (*cough* speaking from experience *cough*).  It has all kinds of wonderful, yummy vegetables and qrains and nuts, and makes you feel very healthy. Reset accomplished. Try it, and take a look at the Shutterbean blog.  It’s great.  Tracy has great recipes, lots of ideas for meal planning, and wonderful photography.

Remember, when you have an annoying little snafoo in your life: Take a deep breath.  Push the reset button.  Keep going.

A Lesson In The Need For A Gauge Swatch

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I’ve said many times here on this blog that I really dislike swatching for gauge. And today I’m here to tell you I still dislike it, but I’ve been schooled in the need for it.

To me, swatching feels like wasting time and I just want to get to the knitting of the project.  I do know, however, that there are times when it really is necessary to do a swatch.  For example, when you are making a sweater or something else in which it is important for the item to fit correctly, you really should do a gauge swatch.  You really, really should… but often, I still don’t.

I think my knitting is “average” in the gauge department, meaning I’ve done swatches with the suggested needle size before and have gotten the right gauge, so why should I keep doing it, right? And for projects like a shawl or cowl, however, gauge is not as important because it could fit just about anyone and often there is only one size anyway, right?

That first question really is just pushing the issue and you really should do a swatch anyway for a project in which size matters.  That second question is what we are here to talk about today.

I started the Diamond Tempest Cowl with the wonderfully soft Baby Llama Chunky (both by Cascade) last week.

It was going along swimmingly.  The yarn was wonderful. The square needle was feeling great in my hands.  I was doing a little at a time and was creating this pretty pattern:

But then, I started looking at my ball of yarn and it seemed to be getting awfully small.  I had this gnawing feeling I’d be playing a game of yarn chicken.  Yarn chicken is when you are pretty sure you don’t have enough yarn to finish your project but you are really hoping you do have enough so you keep knitting, crossing your fingers and toes that you will have enough.  Then it’s just a game of seeing  who wins, you or the yarn.

With two pattern rounds and a bind off still to do:

The yarn won. !@#$%^&.

The pattern called for just one skein so why did I run out?  I thought about it for a bit and then I knew.  It was the needle.  I had done some reading about square needles and how they are supposed to be easy on your hands.  I also read that because of the squareness, the actual gauge the needle gets might be different than a round needle and many people have to go up a needle size in order to get the right gauge. So I chose one size larger for this project.  The project calls for a US 10 and I used a US 10 1/2.

You would think that a half millimeter difference in diameter would not make a difference but it does.  And you would also think that given the uncertainty of how these needles get gauge that I would check it –it was many people, not all people who had to go up a needle size.  And you would be thinking wrong because I blindly trusted that statement and didn’t give it another thought.

Please take this as a lesson that doing a gauge swatch is important! Sometimes it is important so your knitted fabric will look right — not too tight or not too loose.  Sometimes it is important because you want the item to fit correctly.  Sometimes it is important because you might run out of yarn. And sometimes it is important when you are using a new kind of needle and have no idea how it will perform.

Once I realized my mistake, I put that cowl right into time out until I could stop being mad at what it did myself.  And then I started this:

The Almost Lost Washcloth which will be an upcoming class at The Spinning Room this spring.  More about that when it’s done.

So, I’m now off to the ball winder to unwind the whole project and start again by doing a gauge swatch with a size 10 needle. [It’s really kind of ok, though, because if you look closely way back near the beginning, just after the ribbing, there is a weird section that I think I knitted wrong and I was trying to ignore it.]

While I’m doing that, take a look at what the Thrummed Mitten class came up with on Saturday:

Do you have a gauge fail that you’d like to share? Or something you’ve been “schooled” in regarding knitting?   Tell us about it in the comments!

5 Podcasts Worth a Listen (or a Watch!)

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Do you listen to podcasts?  I listen while in the car or while knitting or while taking a nice walk outside.  And sometimes you just need something different to listen to, am I right?  So I’m sharing 5 podcasts that I like and and asking you to share some that you like. Maybe these will get you interested in podcasts if you don’t already listen or add some variety to your already existing list! [SHOCKER: They are not all knitting podcasts.]

1) The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

photo from www.mikerowe.com/podcast

First of all, he’s got the best voice for listening to.  Next, each podcast is only about 10 minutes long so he touts it for those with a short attention span.  Each story starts out simple enough about an ordinary person doing some sort of ordinary job or activity but by the end I am always gasping and saying, “No. Way.”  The stories end up being about someone famous or some famous event that happened.  Definitely worth a listen.  Especially because they are short!

2) Prairie Girls Knit and SpinThis one is just a fun duo who talk about their spinning and knitting and crack me up.  And I love their tag line: May your drafting be consistent and your gauge never lie.

[I just have to say for the life of me I never spell “gauge” correctly the first time.  I always spell it “guage” so thank goodness for spell check.]

3) Just the Right Book with Roxanne Cody

photo from www.justtherightbook.com

I found this one (I think a suggestion from my mom) after Books on the Nightstand ended (also a great podcast with lots of episodes you can still listen to).  This is done by Roxanne Cody, the owner of R.J. Julia an independent bookstore in Connecticut.  She usually interviews and author, asks about the book that changed their life and what they are reading, and then gives some book recommendations.

3) Knitmoregirls

photo from www.knitmoregirlspodcast.com

A well-done, well-organized podcast with lots of information about knitting, spinning and even some sewing thrown in.  One of my favorite segments is “When Knitting Attaaaaaacks” (said with a deep voice and scary music in the background).

5) The Fat Squirrel Speaks

photo from www.thefatsquirrel.com

This one is actually a video podcast but you can just listen to it too!  Her tag line is “Knitting, Spinning and Assorted Awesomeness”.  Silly and fun.

There you have it: A nice mix of podcasts that may be new to you and maybe you will want to try. If you have any podcasts that you love, leave a note in the comments.  I’m always looking for something new and interesting.  And yes, even if it is not knitting related!

And now, a mini-commercial about Craftsy.  Since I am an affiliate, I need to talk about it sometimes!  But, I’m an affiliate because I really like it, so there’s that.

I prefer taking knitting classes at my local yarn shop to support them, but for classes they don’t offer this is great. I signed up for a class on how to design cowls and that is how I came up with my Easy Cozy Cowl. AND they have so many different types of classes — cooking, gardening, baking, quilting, sewing, drawing and woodworking! If you have not tried Craftsy before, try one of their FREE mini-classes! [see how I did that?  A mini-commercial about mini-classes?]

Click here to try them out. If you like them and want to sign up for a class, please consider coming back here and clicking through the side bar.  I will get a small commission and that goes towards supporting the blog.  Thank you!

Stay tuned next time when I may actually have a finished project to show you and talk about LT’s and RT’s.  [If that’s not a good teaser, I don’t know what is.]

And don’t forget to comment about your favorite podcasts!

Knitter’s Elbow Tendinitis: The Progress is in the Details

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Dealing with elbow tendinitis as a knitter has been challenging to say the very least. My recovery progress has been going VERY slowly, so I’ve had to figure out some workarounds. Seeing how the knitting is likely 70% of the reason I’m in this mess, I needed to figure out the best way to deal with it because what I have realized is that I can’t continue to NOT knit.  I just can’t.  I’m driving myself (and likely, indirectly, my husband) bonkers.

I have gotten advice from an orthopedic doctor, 2 physical therapists, a massage therapist and a chiropractor. With all those opinions (some of them contradictory to each other), it’s been a little frustrating to figure out what should help me but I think I have settled on a few things to do to help my recovery progress while still being able to knit. *Disclaimer: If you are dealing with this, these may not be the right suggestions for you.  It is simply what I am finding to work for me.

1) GEAR UP:  When I’m going to knit, I’ve got to wear the supportive gear.  A tennis (golfer’s) elbow strap and a hand support glove.

2) GO SLOW: Physically slow down my knitting.  This is very hard for me because I can knit pretty fast and it takes some deliberate focus to slow down.  Slowing down makes me pay attention to how I’m holding my arms and helps keep my muscles somewhat relaxed.

3) SHORT TIME FRAMES:  I’m knitting for 10-15 minutes at a stretch. This has also been hard. I used to knit for several hours at a stretch.

4) SMALL AND BIG: I’m working on small projects with big needles.  I had been working on a stockinette project which I thought would be easy to do.  However, it was a blanket and the large number of stitches on the needle was making it heavy!  (Although, I did try a few rows on my Tangled shawl and even though it was US3 needles, I didn’t have a hard time I think because the yarn is so lightweight. And I only did a few rows.)

5) REST AND STRETCH: After my 10-15 minutes, stop!  STOP! Also hard for me – see #3 above. Stretch my arms/hands and then put on more gear – a wrist support that limits my wrist movement because wrist movement is what affects the elbows.

6) REST SOME MORE: I want to do another 10-15 minute knitting session way before I should, so I remind myself to rest some more.

7) YOGA: I’ve started doing yoga to get some additional stretching in, not just of my arms but everything else.  How I have been holding my upper body to adjust for the pain of resting my arms on things has made all kinds of other muscles tense up.  I have had A.M. and P.M. Yoga (click there to get it on Amazon) for years and just dug it back out of the cabinet.  It is a beginner video and I really like it.  And yoga is just so awesome in general.  I always feel so good after doing it.

And the result of all this?

In about five days, I’ve gotten 16 rows of a cowl done! While that is absolutely the best news – I’m actually getting some knitting done – I’m trying really hard not to think about the fact that I used to be able to knit something like this in one day.  Baby steps.

[That is the Diamond Tempest Cowl made with Cascade Baby Llama Chunky which is WONDERFULLY soft and nice to work with. I’ll be teaching a class in this at The Spinning Room in late May/early June.  While you don’t usually think of knitting with chunky yarn in the spring, it is a small project and a great head start on next fall/winter/holiday knitting.]

One last thing to tell you about — a product review of sorts because I love it so much.  This being winter (sort of — it’s going to be 68 degrees here today, 35 degrees tomorrow), my hands get very dry and that can make for snagging yarn.  So I’ve been using my lavender Lavishea Lotion Bar .

It absorbs quickly (good for when you are knitting and still good even if you don’t knit) and makes my hands so soft and it smells so wonderful. Not everyone loves lavender but it comes in other scents. It’s a little different because it comes in a bar form (not a bottle of lotion) but you get used to it quickly. And they even have a Lavishea Yarn Bar !  If you try it, I hope you love it like I do.

Buttoned Cowl – A New Design

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My latest adventure in knitting design is the Buttoned Cowl:

It has a pretty, textured design with an interesting and new-to-me stitch technique.  The k1 long entails putting your needle in between two stitches that are two rows below your needle and pulling up a “long” stitch.  Fun and keeps the knitting interesting.

There are six buttons and that gives you room to get creative or go the safe, blending-in route like I did!  This pattern actually started out with just three buttons…

…but I quickly realized, when I tried it on, that it was not going to work. There were big, open gaps between the buttons! And those buttons were a little more daring. My prototype had the buttonholes at the end (luckily), so I took it back and re-knit the design with 6 buttonholes.  I looks much better!

[And a quick note on buttons: I used a wool yarn which is fairly sturdy and can hold up to some heavier buttons, but if you use a less sturdy yarn such as alpaca, be sure to choose lighter buttons.]

Knit with worsted weight yarn (I used Cascade 220), this can also be made longer to make an infinity cowl. It is knit flat so you can make it any length you want!

If you are interested in purchasing this pattern, you can use the “buy now” button below and it will take you to Ravelry.

If you are local, I’ll be teaching this in a class at The Spinning Room in April! (It is not on the schedule yet, but it will be very soon so keep checking the classes page and then call to sign up.)

I would love to see your finished projects so get in touch and send me a picture:  liz at lizytishknits dot com

P.S. In case you are wondering, I did NOT knit this recently because I’m not supposed to be knitting much these days! I knit this last year and got stalled with the button issue.  If you know me, you know that I tend to have a little motivational trouble when it comes to sewing on buttons and I was somewhat discouraged about needing to fix the gap issue, which meant adding more buttons. More. But, clearly I overcame and persevered!

Sunday Cooking: 4 Healthy Recipes To Get You Through The Week

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In my household, we have been trying very hard to eat better. This means not following my husband’s family rule of having no less than three desserts. This also means trying to do a bunch of cooking on Sundays to make healthy recipes that can take us through our busy week and not resort to pizza and poppers.

With the main chef in the house (me) slightly out of commission due to elbow tendinitis, there is a new chef in town (my husband Paul). This is new to him and needs lots of direction from me but he has reportedly enjoyed doing some of this cooking, especially the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from Super Bowl Sunday.

This past Sunday we had a 3-hour cooking marathon with me teaching and included Paul trying to get me to NOT help, which was VERY difficult and not very successful.

Recipe #1: Frittata muffins

This is our own recipe that we make to have for breakfast during the week.

Breakfast Frittata Muffins

8 eggs

2 boxes frozen spinach (thawed and liquid squeezed out)

1 large red pepper, chopped

2-3 cups frozen hashbrowns

4 oz shredded or cubed cheese

Pepperoni, or sausage that has been browned (1 cup or so).

Mix it all up, divide among a 12-cup muffin tin (coated with cooking spay).

Bake at 350 degrees for approx 25-30 minutes (until the tops are puffed and no longer moist)

We eat 1 1/2 muffins as a serving.  Very healthy, especially if you use turkey sausage, and along with some fruit, a pretty filling breakfast.

Recipe #2: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves from Smitten Kitchen.

This one had quite a few steps but it was worth it. Deeeeeeelicious! (even though I forgot to tell the chef to put the milk in the mixture, so they were a little teeny tiny bit not as moist/tender….) Have I told you how much I love recipes from smittenkitchen.com? We did NOT make the accompanying brown butter mashed potatoes that are in the recipe since we were trying to keep it healthy and all, but they look delicious too.

Recipe #3: Chicken Noodle Casserole… Sorry, no picture of this one! We thought about it, but decided against it because it was really BORING. It is tasty – tastes just like thickened chicken noodle soup. But, we used whole grain egg noodles, and didn’t put the buttered breadcrumbs on it in order to make it healthier, so it pretty much just looked like brown noodles. But good.

Recipe #4: Marakesh Carrots from Joy the Baker.

This one was totally for me. Paul will not get within 10 feet of something with turmeric, cilantro, chick peas, pistachios or scallions! I’ve made this before and I just love it. All healthy ingredients and a dressing with not a ton of oil but LOTS of flavor.

Lastly was a huge green salad to keep in the fridge. We were then set for the week with a bunch of healthy recipes, and tired of cooking/directing! By the end of the week, we’ll get pretty tired of eating these recipes multiple times, so that give us incentive to look for something new and different. Or decide to freeze some of them next time.

Do any of these look good to you?  Would you try any of them?

[Have you noticed the Craftsy link over on the sidebar?  I am now a Craftsy affiliate.  Click there to explore the many, many craft classes they offer.  I have my eye on a few of the bread baking ones!]

5 Patterns to Knit this Spring

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I’ve been trolling on the line lately — well, really just Ravelry, finding things that would be great to knit in the spring (and maybe teach at my local yarn shop The Spinning Room).  [By the way, “on the line” is my favorite mis-phrase from the movie The Internship with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.  So funny, and I use that phrase all. the. time.] It’s the time of year that I’m done with the cold weather and the snow — even though here in upstate New York it seems like all of winter happened just in the last week and a half — and I start looking for light and airy things to knit.  I have found 5 patterns that would be great.

1) Socks are always a good bet for knitting in the warmer weather.  Maybe you won’t wear wool socks in the coming months, but they are great to knit because they are small — don’t heat up your lap — and use lightweight yarn.  So my newest can’t-wait-to-knit socks are Vintage Fairy Lights by Helen Stewart.

Copyright Helen Stewart

I love her patterns and I also listen to her podcast called Curious Handmade.

2) Shawls are also great for spring — to knit and to wear. How about this Tangled Shawl?

Copyright Caro Sheridan

Full disclosure, I do not love the yellow, and that turned me off a bit. But then I saw the beautiful green one Kathy at The Spinning Room made and I knew I had to make one.  Mine is a pretty blue and just barely started:

I’m also teaching it as a class in the spring!  This would be a great item to wear on a chilly spring day.

3) Another small and light item to make in the spring are cowls in fingering weight yarn. Sping is still a good time of year to wear them as accessories inside, but also when it’s a little chilly under your lighter coats. I found this great Checks, Please! cowl by Debbi Stone:

Copyright Debbi Stone

It’s got a pretty pattern and I love the idea of using a gradient yarn.  Maybe I’ll use my Anne with an E yarn from Knitcircus:

4) Another great cowl pattern is the Knitting is my Yoga cowl by Elizabeth Sullivan:

Copyright Sweet Paprika Designs

Because who doesn’t like a (FREE!) easy pattern to knit while you are sitting outside in the spring having a picnic and relaxing?  This pattern was designed with relaxation in mind.  And it’s FREE.

5) Finally, a hat project with heavier yarn (worsted) but still small so you won’t pass out from heat exhaustion.  This Double Cable Ponytail / Messy Bun Hat by Lena Mathisson is perfect:

Copyright Lena Mathisson

And so practical! Buttons go up the back so you can change where your ponytail comes out.  Very clever.  This is on my list to make and teach in a class too.

There you go.  Five suggestions for springtime knitting, all of which are in my Ravelry queue and waiting for me to start! Let me know if you like them and if you will try them. (By the way, if you do the Pinterest thing, click on the side bar and you can follow me there.  I pin things I want to knit someday as well as lots of other stuff.)

A Few Random Things (including crochet!)

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So, I did a little crocheting! I worked on my Moorland crochet-a-long blanket (from the Attic 24 blog)

Got the Khaki row finished and started the Meadow row.  I am only doing a few minutes at a time and trying to go very SLOWLY so progress will be extremely slow. I am woefully behind as the CAL is just about finished (the post for how to do the edging is due up next week) but that’s ok.  It’s not a race. Thank goodness.

There has also been some kitchen experimenting around here.  My dad told us about the Presto 06006 Kitchen Kettle Multi-Cooker/Steamer which he makes stews and soups and french fries in.  Paul’s eyes widened when he heard french fries.  So we got one and made some fries….

The day we wanted to make them, we only had some baby red potatoes on hand but they were great!  We will definitely be experimenting with more frying.  And soup.

I finished a great book called Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel  Lots of twists and turns in this book about a woman trying to maintain a new life despite some major events that happened in high school and which catch up with her. The author is great at dropping little bombshell pieces of information then taking you to another part of the story and making you wait for her to put it all together.  I love that kind of book.

(Click on both those links up there to find them on Amazon.)

I also wanted to show you my new pencil holder.

It is my new favorite tea from Beekman 1802 called Brace the Day.  It is a strong black tea, great for waking you up and starting your morning.  Plus, along with my “RELAX” reminder, I thought “Brace the Day” was a good sentiment too (and it sits next to the wonderful little crochet bowl my mom gave me!)

Next up: hopefully a little more crochet or knitting to show you and probably some talk about all the new patterns that I’m dying to knit.

Hanging On

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Well, the weather has been horrendous here, how about you? Snow last Thursday, snow yesterday.

Early last week – and actually for the past month or so – Paul was working on the plow Jeep to get it running.  It was having carburetor issues and we thought for sure that this was the winter it would crap out on us.  Paul already had to shovel the driveway during a minor snowfall in January.  We have had this 1960-ish Jeep for 12 winters and almost every year, we think it will be the last.  It has had MANY fixes and we are just always hoping we’ll get through yet another winter because replacing it would be very expensive.  It will be hard to beat the $400 deal we got on this one.

Thankfully the last ditch effort of purchasing a rebuild kit for the needle and seat (she says like she knows what she’s talking about but really, she just asked Paul) did the trick.

And we think it can hang on for at least the rest of this winter!

Meanwhile, with the snow coming down yesterday, Paul and I made pretzels!  Paul has been WAY into the cooking and baking since I have been limited in this area recently.  I think he is actually starting to like it.

(Paul declared the one in the lower right to be representative of our intertwined love.  You know, with Valentine’s Day coming and all…)

We used the King Arthur Flour Soft Buttery Pretzel Mix (click there to get it on Amazon) and they are so, So, SO, GOOD!  Especially right out of the oven.  Perfect to have watching tv on a cold, snowy day.