An End to A Madness

Not the end, but definitely an end. In fact, lots and lots of ends. But really, the end of something very special.

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I have finally, FINALLY finished my miter square blanket – Miter Madness – that I started so many years ago. And when I say finished, I mean every seam, every border, every end.

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It’s hard to say anything more about it that hasn’t already been said really. I knit all 120 miters in a six week period using 85 different colors of Tahki Cotton Classic way back in the Spring of 2007. I knit so much I put a hole in my finger. And then those miters sat in a box.

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While those squares were sitting in a box, I had two babies and moved into a house. In the old days, I had all the time in the world to knit, blog about it, and do a bit of work on the side. I spent many hours a day by myself – glorious, wonderful ALONE time. I’m rarely alone these days and time to myself is a luxury.

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The Back Side

The Winter after my second daughter was born, I was really struggling. I won’t say I was full blown PPD, but I was not in a good place. It was during this time that I pulled out my box of miters and decided THIS WAS THE TIME. I wove in all the ends and blocked all the miters then started seaming the squares. I seamed and seamed and when it was all together I knit the border. Sadly I didn’t really blog any of this, but by the Summer I was done. I had a dozen or more ends still to be woven in, but otherwise it was done. And then into another box it went. Seriously.

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imageThe Signature Square

What pushed me to finally finish it? It’s kind of funny. My daughter was doing a science module in school on fabric and we were encouraged to send in some fabric samples.  I thought how fun would it be to bring in all my knitting swatches (I have a ton) and my spinning wheel and show the kids in her class how fiber becomes yarn becomes a finished object? So much fun! And I thought they would love to see the blanket. So I wove in the rest of the ends and cut them all and in a couple of hours – voila! THE BEST FINISHED OBJECT EVER!

You have to know I’ve been dreaming about the FO shoot for this blanket for a long, long time. I knew I wanted to hang the blanket the way I’ve seen people hang quilts, so I hung a laundry line across my back yard and took the pictures above. But I also wanted to take some arty, cool pictures. I channeled my inner Vicki and the greatest FO shoot of all time, and set to work.

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This is by far the best thing I’ve ever knit. I’m so ecstatically happy with how it turned out, but I’m also sad that it’s finished. This knit wasn’t just a lot of fun to knit, it was important for me to knit. Once or twice while the miters languished in their box, my dear friend Kay, Queen of All Things Mitered, offered to seam the blanket for me. As touched as I was by the offer, I knew I needed to do it myself. The WHOLE thing. And I finally did. I finished it. ALL of it. And I’m a better knitter and dare I say mother, because of it. I cannot wait to see where my knitting madness takes me next.

Thank you, dear readers, for coming along on this journey. If you missed any crazy, mad part of it, you can read the project archives, from the first square to the last and all the silly stats in between.

L, C

Create Your Own!

Three words that strike fear in the OCD/Perfectionist who happens to be obsessed with color. CREATE YOUR OWN! In my lately never-ending pursuit of self-striping sock yarn, it was brought to my attention that the fantastic Jessica of Yarntini offers a Create Your Own Self-Striping Yarn Club. WHAT?!?! YES! You get to create your own custom designed colorway from her 21 semi-solid colors – a rainbow on steroids of possibilities – not once, not twice, but THREE times! Dude. SIGN ME UP!

And I did. I got in and we had to quickly pick colors for the February skein. You can choose to do a 2-stripe, 3-stripe, 4-stripe, 5-stripe or 6-STRIPE skein and I’ll give you a second to guess what I picked. I went with the 2-stripe and picked a nice blue and red for a simple striped sock. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course I went for the six striper and promptly panicked. How was I going to choose? I was paralyzed with the possibilities (have you seen her gorgeous colors?)

I ruminated a bit and decided that I definitely wanted to use the dark gray and light gray (charcoal and smokey). But that left me with four more colors. I had no idea.

And then I was driving home from Bar, past the same houses I drive by every single day, and I saw this:

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GRELLOW!! I loved the door on this house! How did I never notice it before? But here it was, a bright spot in an otherwise dark, dreary and depressing winter. I had my third color! (Lemon Drop)

Now to choose the others! (This is the part where my OCD takes over in a kind of scary way. There’s a possibility that some might think I went too far. And there are others, thankfully, who will know I didn’t go far enough. You know who you are and I love you.)

Not long ago, on Instagram, I was exposed to a game app that will suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. CONSIDER THIS A WARNING! I cannot be held responsible for how many meals you miss, or how many times your kids have to literally knock you on the head to get you to pay attention to them, or whatever priority you completely ignore while playing BLENDOKU! For those of you who’ve never heard of Blendoku, it’s a puzzle game app (available for Android and ICrap) that has you put colors into their color wheel order. You really have to know your colors and it’s addicting and fascinating and a MUST for anyone who loves color. I can imagine knitting whole garments based on this game. Fair isle, miters, stripes – it’s all there!

It turns out that I started playing Blendoku around the same time that I needed to pick my colors for the Create Your Own club. My brain was on color overload. So I did the only thing I could and printed out all the photos from Jessica’s gallery so that I could shift and sort the colors to pick my last three.

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After looking at the color cards, and playing endless hours of Blendoku (RESEARCH!) I had FOUR colors picked out – Charcoal, Smokey, Lemon Drop, and I knew that I absolutely HAD to have Deep Gin in my mix. I thought I might have an inkling as to the last two colors, but shifting around the printouts wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I had to pull in the big guns.

I stole some time away from the family and activated Photoshop. I downloaded all the pictures in Jessica’s gallery and started making stripes. I needed to see what the colors would look like stacked on top of each other and I needed an easy way to move them around. Not only was I picking colors, but I wanted to pick the order of the stripes as well. I put together a file with 21 rectangles and filled them in with all the colors.

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Now I had my template! And it would work fabulously for any all other skeins I decided to create. YAY! I set to work: mix, match, scrap, mix, match, scrap. I had it!

Sock1dMy six colors, in order: Olive Juice, Smokey, Deep Gin, Key Lime, Charcoal, and Lemon Drop.

WHEW! It’s the perfect combo of dark and light – each light stripe is followed by a dark stripe – the values are spot on! I sent my colors off to Jessica and waited with bated breath. She was nice enough to indulge me a little and tell me that YES INDEED my choices were wonderful. (She may very well regret the day she let me in this club.)

Today my ACTUAL yarn came in the mail! I could not be happier!!!

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It’s EXACTLY what I was hoping for. Here’s a close up:

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It’s hard to capture the colors with my phone (I’m actually getting a NEW REAL camera this week – stayed tuned for LOTS of pictures) but the blue is much more teal than blue. But you can see the grays and greens and YELLOW and I love it. Thank you so much Jessica! It’s PERFECT! (It’s taking everything I have not to cast on immediately, but I want to finish my Super Duper Boogaloo socks first! It’s just Yarntini all the time around here.)

I can’t wait to start on my next skein!!

L, C

Unfortunately sign ups are now closed for the Create Your Own Club and Jessica probably won’t be offering the club again for awhile because she and her family are embarking on a big move, but follow her blog for up to date information. Her yarn is gorgeous!!

Bar Crazy

FYI  – This post is picture heavy.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I wrote this post, which means it’s been TWO years since I started my Bar Method journey. I thought, on my second anniversary, it would be a good idea to catch up and let you know how things stand.

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I still love it. As much as I ever did.

I still try to go five days a week, although this winter it’s been a challenge to keep that up what with school closings, and the studio having to cancel classes due to weather and all, but I’m pretty sure I’ve managed. Even better, my studio switched up the schedule in the new year and a very popular time slot that I frequent has changed from a regular class to a Level 2 class. L2 classes run for the same amount of time, but pack in a ton more exercises, the result being a VERY fast class (almost fast enough that you don’t register at first how crazy hard it is!) that is super intense. You need to have taken at least 50 classes before you can take an L2 because there is very little set up time between exercises – you need to know what’s going on. I think I have the 50 classes covered – maybe I’m up to 500? Still, every time I take the class I’m a bit nervous going in – can I do it? Can I make it through? And then at around the mid point, when we’ve finished the super intense portion of class, I get the most incredible burst of energy! I LOVE IT!

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One of the best things about this new L2 class is that most of the women I take class with I take class with ALL the time. We frequent the same time slot due to kids and school and it’s like we’ve sort of progressed to this level as a group. I feel like we feed off each other. The energy in the class is amazing!

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I’m really glad to take this intense class once a week, but that in no way means that a normal class isn’t still incredibly difficult. One of the best aspects of Bar Method is that the better you get, the harder the classes get and I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely true. The beginning of class always feels so ridiculously impossible and until those endorphins kick in I wonder every time how I will get through it.

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But I do. And I love it.

This winter has been hard on my mind and body – too many days stuck at home with the kids = too much bad food, too much drinking and just blah – but if I can get a class in I feel strong in mind and body. I’m so grateful to have an outlet, especially these day.

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Many of my friends will tell you that when it comes to Bar, I’m a glutton for punishment. I want my ass kicked. I want that shake. I want to feel like I’ve gone to my limit. Otherwise, why do it? All or nothing, baby. All or nothing. And I try so hard to give it my all.

I’ve heard many many people talk about the wonderful atmosphere and community at their studios, but I’m here to tell that the teachers and students where I take class are the best! They lift me up when I feel down, through exercise and camaraderie. They are obsessed, just like me. When I found my knitters, I found my people. And when I found Bar, I discovered a whole other family as well. (Some of whom are knitters!! DOUBLE OBSESSION FTW!)

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Happy Anniversary to my beloved Bar! I hope I can keep tucking for many, many years to come.

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All of the pictures that appear in this post were taken by me at my studio. I was fortunate to have been asked by the owners to photograph the instructors taking a master class on a few occasions. I hope these pictures relay the beauty and strength of these women who inspire me daily.

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As always, thank you for reading!

L, C

The Winter of Our Discontent

I don’t know what the weather has been like at  your house, but it has been positively appocalyptic at mine. I live in Northern New Jersey where everyday you wake up like you live in Siberia – or actually – I guess not, because judging from Sochi, which is actually IN Siberia, it seems kind of warm there. (Um. No it’s not. Thank you Tricia! I lost my brain cells in the snow! Actually I think I confused Maria Sharapova’s hometown with Sochi.) Whether it’s been the polar vortex freezing everything in sight, or snow, snow  PLEASE GOD MAKE IT STOP NO MORE snow, or the fact that my children haven’t had a full week of school (literally!!) since Christmas, this winter has, for lack of a better word, SUCKED!

And when the weather sucks, people become very, very grumpy.

Dudes. I am so very, very grumpy.

But! I have only barely given up on life! There is still some good in this world! Like this awesome hat I knit for myself!

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It’s the Tofino Surfer by Tin Can Knits, which I knit with leftovers from Oshima. I gave the hat all the bells and whistles: ear flaps, braids, a pompom.

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I love wearing it. It makes me considerably LESS grumpy when out shoveling all the wretched snow. And it keeps my head nice and warm when I’m out in the polar vortex. GOOD HAT.

I  also started a new pair of stripey socks. Here they are rocking out their Fish Lips Kiss Heels!

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And here they are showing you how nicely their stripes match!

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These stripes, brought to you by Yarntini in the Super Duper Boogaloo colorway, make my OCD heart sing! And when you’ve been stuck in the house with your kids for what feels like MONTHS ON END, anything that can turn your OCD into a positive is AMAZING. I’m not even finished yet, but GOOD SOCKS.

In the last couple of months, I may have purchased my body weight in stripey sock yarns but let’s not think of it as overindulging. Let’s think of it as taking stock in my mental health. If matching up those stripes can make my OCD feel good, well, then, stripe away!

Hope this winter is treating you better than it’s treating me. And if not, I hope you have your own stripey sock antidote to make it all better.

L, C

PS – If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen these pictures before. And if you’re not following me on Instagram, well, why not? I post over there a lot. Come visit!

 

Start As You Mean To Go

Happy New Year!! I hope you’re all having a terrific start to 2014!

My day started out with lots of potential – I like to try to do all the things I love on the first day of the year to sort of set the trend for days to come.

This morning I got my ass kicked all over the place by one of my favorite teachers at my favorite place. Then we all decided to go ice skating – it was the girls’ first time! Meli did wonderfully! The place we went to has walker type things available for beginners to hold on and she was able to skate all by herself and even let go every now and again. The little one – well lets just say we’ll try again!

When we finally got home, I started in on the projects I wanted to get going. I’m going to knit my sister and my niece shrugs to wear over dresses for my nephew’s bar mitzvah at the end of the month – CRUNCH TIME and I’m not used to knitting under pressure! I’m knitting them out of Madelintosh Pashmina – which was a BITCH to wind up. Took me a few tries and a lot of tangles and wasted a lot of time.

I also wanted to cast on for Southern Skies, the companion shawl to Celestarium, which I knit last year. It was one of my most fun knits EVER. Celestarium covered all the constellations seen from the North Pole and Southern Skies features the constellations seen from the South Pole – which includes Capricorn. I will talk about both shawls at length soon, but suffice it to say that after the afternoon I’ve had, I most likely won’t be casting on for Southern Skies.

But! I’m not going to feel bad about that! INTENTION COUNTS! The yarn is all wound, the charts are all notated (more on that later) and the beads are set. It’s all ready to go and TOMORROW I WILL CAST ON!

I might have time to cast on one of the shrugs tonight – which is more important than the shawl anyway.

Sorry to blather on, but I’m just glad I was able to get a blog post in. This is the tenth JANUARY ONE that I’ve blogged, and I would have hated to miss it. One of my intentions for the year is to blog more and I think the last month or so I’ve improved drastically on this score, so the future looks bright – blogging wise at least.

I’d also like to get more sleep and to get my kids to sleep more – preferably NOT on top of me. We’ll see how that goes. I’m beginning the new year very very tired.

I wish you all a wonderful, wonderful new year! And thank you so much for reading this blog, now and in the past ten years. It has brought so much to my life – really it’s immeasurable – and you are all such a huge part of it. It’s felt really good to connect with you all again.

Happy New Year!

L, C

 

 

The Rainbow Connection

Dudes! It is has been a LONG time since I posted a finished pair of socks on this here blog. A LONG TIME. That is all about to change. BEHOLD! The 15 Colour Rainbow Self-Striping Socks:

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These socks are fantastic, if I don’t say so myself. And such a new new experience for me! I’ve knit a lot of socks in my knitting life – not as many as some – but a respectable amount to be sure. Always top down – except for one time I did that short row gusset toe up sock that I don’t even know where it is now and maybe never made a mate? I’ve always admired those that knit toe up stripey socks but really – not for me. WELL THAT HAS ALL CHANGED! The Fish Lips Kiss Heel is magic. MAGIC I tell you!  Look how pretty!

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No wraps. No gusset. No picking up stitches. Nothing but a beautiful well-fitting heel. It really is a dream! I had one little glitch – on the last part of the heel I got a ladder between the two circulars I was using, but I found a helpful tip in the Sock Therapist‘s ravelry forum. Basically you just move the ladder along by taking up the slack in the other stitches on the row. After a few they get tighter and tighter. Worked like a charm. She does say to pull REALLY tight in that last part where I got the ladder – I guess I didn’t pull tight enough. I’m sure with practice I will get it all ironed out. Still, I really love the heel. It’s FAST. And neat. Her technique reminds me a little bit of my beloved Socktopus’ shadow wrap short rows.

My favorite thing ever about this sock is the yarn, of course. SO MANY STRIPES! In case you missed the last post, it’s Fab Funky Fibres 15 Colour Rainbow Yarn. It made the plain stockinette go so quickly and I’m a little ashamed at how my OCD/perfectionist brain tried really hard to make those stripes match up. And oh how they match!

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To get the stripes to match, I wound the ball, then split it in half using my scale. After I had two balls, I chose the one I would start with – in this case a bit of red leading into the pink. Then I took the second ball and unwound it until I came to the same starting point. I cut the yarn when I had them even.

I used Judy’s Magic Cast On to start the socks and cast on 24 stitches – 12 on each circular. I like my toes a bit square because well, my toes are kind of square. I increased every other row until I hit the toe mark on my Fish Lips Kiss Heel template. It falls right at the top of my pinky toe. I ended up with 68 stitches – more than my normal 64 stitches – but this yarn is thinner than my usual Socks That Rock and I’ve found after many gauge swatches that I do knit a bit tight.

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I knit and knit and knit. I went back and forth between both socks so that I could be sure the stripes were still lining up. I got pretty high up my leg and did some increases when I hit my calf. I have no idea how many stitches I increased. Maybe about 12? I ended with about twelve rows of 2×2 ribbing and then did a stretchy cast off. I know I knit the right length because I have an almost perfect 15 colour repeat left, minus some rows of pink. If I wanted the socks to match, this was the only way to do it.

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These socks make me really happy! And now I want to knit all the toe up socks in all the stripey yarns!! What’s your favorite stripey yarn? I’ve got some Yarntini coming to me soon, some Knitterly Things, some Moonrover. I’m out of the stripey yarn loop so tell me what you love!

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Thanks for reading!

L, C

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

L, C

You’re ALL Winners in My Book!

Sorry I’m late to announce the winners!! I’m new to this whole Kindergarten thing and there are SO MANY ACTIVITIES before the Winter Break. I know this is NOTHING compared to the end of the school year, but still. I’m ready for the break even though I know that after the first 24 hrs of my kids every second of every day I can’t be held responsible for anything that may happen. But still. I don’t have to pack lunches for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! Celebrate good times! C’mon!

Without further ado – the WINNERS! The random number generator (how funny that they now have an app. Oh the times! They have changed!) chose 2 and 74. That means Kitty wins the Fab Funky Fibres Fifteen Colour Yarn and a box of Note Cards and Amy C wins the generously donated Yarntini yarn in the Boogaloo colorway and a box of Note Cards! CONGRATULATIONS!! I will be emailing you both shortly.

But, really, you’re ALL winners in my book! Thank you for coming out in huge numbers and leaving me with some really great dyers, bloggers and patterns to visit. It felt like the old blogging days there for a minute. I hope to be back much more in the new year. In the meantime, have a happy christmas or whatever you may be celebrating this winter season and if I don’t see you before, I’ll definitely be seeing you on the first! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

L, C

Old dog? Here are some new tricks!

UPDATE!!! The fabulous Jessie of Yarntini has added a prize! There will now be TWO winners! See the end of post for contest details! YAY!! And also a sock update. The Fish Lips Kiss Heel ROCKS!

I found my mojo! It’s back! And I’m going to tell you all about it, but it might take awhile as I ramble on and give you lots of links to explore. If you’re the impatient sort, skip to the bottom of the post for a colorful contest! YES! I’ve been wanting to have a contest for so long. I used to do them all the time, remember? Well this one’s a good one. So settle in and enjoy!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was in that post-awesome-project state where even the best potential patterns seem like too much work. I think I was just exhausted from all the work that went into Oshima and needed a little break. But I was also yearning for that can’t put it down excitement and nothing was giving me that spark.

But I found it! And how I found it is kind of an adventure.

By far my favorite social media tool is Instagram. Maybe it’s the photographer in me but I just love posting to IG and also following along on IG. On a daily basis I am bombarded with inspiration from new and old friends. For instance, if it wasn’t for Cauchy sharing all her incredible spinning pictures, I wouldn’t have become infatuated with Lacey at Moonrover. Her fiber and yarns are incredible. They both have me wanting to spin again!

Another HUGE enabler on IG is Susan Anderson! I’m embarrassed to tell you how much money I’ve spent because of Susan’s IG thread. Seriously. Ann and I are always blaming her for our purchases. (“I bought a cross stitch sampler. THANKS Susan Anderson!”) Not too long ago Susan posted about her fabulous stripey socks – 15 Stripe Rainbow Sock Yarn from Fab Funky Fibres! I was like WHAT? Rainbow? Stripes? I AM THERE!

Yeah. So I ordered the yarn. Self-striping sock yarn. Firstly, when’s the last time I knit a sock? (I can actually tell you it was the winter before my second baby was born. I was on a tear of knitting five socks at a time and I finished those five socks then started the mates to those five then left them. They are still on the needles. My baby will be four in June. You do the math.) Secondly, I haven’t knit with a sock yarn other than my beloved STR lightweight in? Forever, maybe? There was an early early Regia Cotton Stripe that I knit my first pair with and a few Koigu pairs, but other than that – all STR all the time!

Stripey sock yarn. What am I going to do with that? Order more! I might have fallen down at Knitterly Things (Twinkle Lights! YES!) and Yarntini (Super-Duper Boogaloo! Under the Sea! Fruitastic!)

Even with all this new yarn coming in, I still didn’t have the sock knitting mojo. The yarn is all gorgeous, to be sure, but also outside my comfort zone. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a creature of habit. I like the familiarity of a yarn I love and a pattern I love and a method I love. (Hello Monkey Socks! Jaywalkers! Willow Cowls!)

And then I was clicking around some blogs thanks to my favorite Bloglovin’ email I get everyday, and I stumbled upon the Yarn Harlot’s recent post where she answered some questions about knitting socks. She said she mainly knits socks top down (like me) but when the yarn is self-striping or really special or both, she knits them toe up so that she can use all the yarn. My brain went DING DING DING! THIS! I have only attempted one other toe up sock a million years ago and I did NOT enjoy it, but then again, sock architecture has changed drastically in the last five years. Right? I told myself, I AM GOING TO KNIT A SELF STRIPING TOE UP SOCK. And I got (inexplicably – remember creature of habit) really really excited.

I got even more excited when I started clicking around, following short row heel links and stumbled upon the Fish Lips Kiss Heel. The Sock Therapist had me at NO WRAPS! (This was the main problem with my first toe up heel. I couldn’t get the short row heel to work in a way I liked.) For ONE DOLLAR, I downloaded the tutorial for the heel. Next thing I knew I was asking a good friend to trace my foot.

And then I was watching videos on Judy’s Magic Cast On.

Then, in the ultimate of craziness, I was measuring out sock yarn and matching up colors and starting two socks with matchy matchy stripes!

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I’ve now knit through all fifteen colors in my Fab Funky Fifteen Colour socks and according to my foot template, I’m ready to start the heel!

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I’m so excited. I might knit the other sock up to the same point, or I might just go for it. I have to read through the directions again and watch some videos. But YAY! A new sock and a new way of knitting them! If this heel works the way everyone raves that it does, it could change my whole way of knitting socks. And I’m really excited about breaking out of my old habits and learning something new. I always tell my kids that one of the things I love about knitting is learning how to do new things! And it’s true!

HERE’S A SOCK UPDATE: The Fish Lips Kiss Heel is GREAT! No wraps! No holes! No picking up a million stitches for the gusset!! AND IT FITS LIKE A DREAM!

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In the meantime, want to knit your own pair of Fab Funky’s Fifteen Colour Rainbow Socks? Because I have an extra skein to give away. And a box of Color Cards from my own collection. Everyone needs some color on these dark winter days and I’m so happy to share!

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And, Jessie of Yarntini has added a skein of her fantastic self-striping yarn in the Boogaloo colorway!!

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I will be adding another box of Color Collection cards to her skein! TWO WINNERS!!! YAY!

To win, leave a comment telling me your favorite sock yarn, your favorite sock pattern, your favorite Instagram feed or your favorite knit blog! Please leave only ONE comment per person. I will pick a random number and choose a winner. You have until Wednesday, December 18th at 11:59 EST to leave a comment. I will announce the winner on Thursday. Good luck and thanks for reading! I can’t wait to see what inspires you!

L, C

PS – if you want to follow me on Instagram, a link to my feed is in the sidebar.

 

MOJO WANTED ASAP

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments on Oshima! I so appreciate them. I have such high hopes that I will respond to each and every one of you and then my life starts to overwhelm me, yet again. I’m thinking responding in the comments might help me. Do you like that? I see other bloggers do it all the time. What do you think?

In the meantime, I have lost my knitting mojo. I feel like Oshima just sort of sapped it all out of me. It’s not like I don’t have a million knits that need finishing, or are on the needles, or all swatched and ready to go. But nothing so far has grabbed me with that lovely immediacy of KNIT THIS RIGHT NOW! You know that feeling – the one where all you want to do is knit to distraction? I LOVE that feeling! I want it back. NOW!

In the meantime I’ve picked up an old stalwart, a Willow Cowl I started last year!
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It’s STR Mediumweight in Christmas Balls. Very seasonal of me, I know. If I can’t be knitting something I’m beyond in love with, I might as well knit with yarn I love that results in an item I love. I wear my Willow Cowls all the time!

What are you knitting that you absolutely LOVE right now? What are you hoping to knit? Inspire me! ;-)