Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?~ -Ginny

Well, I published the cowl pattern yesterday.  I spent way too much time knitting twice another cowl like it to use for the tutorial at the end and had to rip it out twice because I didn’t have quite enough yarn.  I was trying to squeeze a 110 yd project out of 90 yards and I know better. I know better.

I’m excited at how much bigger the response was on Ravelry than for my other pattern, so I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.  It was a big encouragement to me to keep on writing patterns.

I’ve started David’s “Dirk sweater” and hopefully it will be finished up quickly so I can get my notes done on it and move along.  As long as I don’t go off on a rabbit  trail like I just did with the Clara Cowl, I should be fine.  

I’m using knit picks again.  The orange (for the body) looked so much brighter in real life than in the picture on their site, or even in this picture.  I was going for a duller sophistication, but David absolutely loves the hue, and I suppose that’s all that matters.  The collar, shoulders and arms will be the dusk/navy color.

I also spent some time winding up and starting to knit some of this handspun BFL that I got in a swap last winter.  It’s about the coolest yarn ever.  I intend to whip up a double length Clara Cowl and put it in my store.  I mean, what’s the fun of knitting if you can’t be distracted by…more knitting?

I’m reading a book that my in-laws gave me as part of my birthday present.  It’s by the same author of Giants in the Earth and this is a small collection of some of his short stories.  Most of his short stories still remain untranslated, but these 6 are supposed to be some of his best.  The feeling of them is so much lighter than that of his masterpiece.  I just read a fishing story about 3 former fishermen in Norway now fishing in ponds in America.  They make fun of the Irish who have no idea what they’re doing and can’t fish.  Since I’m half Irish and half Norwegian, I got a great kick out of this one.  I also read the short biography of the author in this book.  I love biographies.

So that’s what’s going on here.  What about you?  If you want to peek into what others are knitting and reading more, hop on over the the yarn party at Ginny’s.

Clara Cowl

This pattern is more of a guide to make a reversible, seamless braided cowl.  It can be adapted in several different ways and with different yarn.  If you put the effort forth to hand-knitting an item from this guide and hope to sell it, by all means sell it.  Please link this pattern to your listing if you do choose to sell from it.  If you are feeling especially nice, charge more for yours on Etsy than I will 😉

You will need:

Approximately 110 yds of chunky yarn, preferably a wool or wool mix.  Wool is a great insulator in cold weather and resists moisture so it will keep you dry as well.  Not only that but it’s a treat to knit.  I used Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande in red.  The yardage worked out perfectly with 2 or 3 yards to spare.

A foot or 2 of yarn of any size, color, or weight to be used in the CO.  This will not be in the end result.

Size US 13 needles.  Pull out the big ones that you hide under your bed in case someone breaks into your house. 

Large crochet hook to use as a stitch holder when doing cables

1 yarn/darning needle

4 chunky double pointed knitting needles.  Size US 13 would be ideal, but I use US size 10 and have survived.  You can substitute any chunky size, or in a pinch use markers or thick pens.  You will not be knitting with these.  They will merely be to hold stitches while you graft.  Don’t be scared if you’ve never done this, I’ll walk you through it.

Kmart coupons may apply for some knitting supplies, so always look online before you shop.

This pattern is easily modified for different yarns or lengths.  If you would like to double the length of this cowl so that it can wrap around your neck twice in a fluffy vogue type way, simply double the yardage required and work the cable twice as many times.  If it were me I’d do twice as many times +1.  The cable pattern divides the stitches into thirds and requires even numbers.

For instance, this standard pattern will CO 36 stitches which will divide into 3 sections of 12 to make the braid.  You can easily make it thinner and CO 30 and divide each section into 10s, etc. I recommend not making the sections any larger than 12 stitches because it get’s awfully difficult to cable numbers that high.  Your hands will begin to ache.

K = Knit

P= Purl

C24F in rib= place the first 12 stitches onto the crochet hook and hold in front of the work.  Work the next 12 stitches in 1×1 rib, then work the stitches off of the crochet hook in 1×1 rib.

C24B in rib= place the first 12 stitches onto the crochet hook and hold in back of the work.  Work the next 12 stitches in 1×1 rib, then work the stitches off of the crochet hook in 1×1 rib.

1×1 rib = (K1, P1) repeat across.

Shall we begin?

Using the provisional method of casting on, CO 36 stitches.  (This YouTube video was a great help to me learning this method.  It’s essential you cast on these “live” stitches.)

**(K1, P1) for 4 rows

Next row: C24F in rib and (K1, P1) until end of the row.

(K1, P1) for 8 rows

Next row: C24B in rib and (K1, P1) until end of row.

(K1, P1) for 4 rows.  Repeat from ** 4 times (or desired amount)

That was easy, wasn’t it?  The next part is a bit tricky, but don’t be scared.  It’s just yarn.  Tell yourself you’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you.  Think of how proud of yourself you’ll be and how smart you’ll feel wearing a seamless cowl.  Take a deep breath, here we go into the grafting part.  (I recommend if you have never done grafting, or even grafting 1×1 ribbing to work up a small swatch in cheap scrap yarn and practice before using your nice project.  There’s only one thing trickier than doing the Kitchener stitch in rib, and that’s redoing the Kitchener stitch in rib.)

I’ll show you how to do this stitch using an orange swatch with smaller stitches so it’s easier to see.

With the end you just finished with, and using 2 thick double pointed needles, divide the knit stitches onto one needle, and the purl stitches onto the other needle, like this:

Then go back to the beginning and move the stitches off of the scrap yarn used in the provisional cast on, and onto a your size US 13 needle.  Then divide the knit stitches to one double pointed needle and the purl stitches to the other double pointed needle. *Be careful to untwist, or “sort out” these stitches so that they lay correctly as if you were to knit or purl them correctly.*

Now, you’ll want to loop your work around in a circle and find where 2 sides meet up by where you’ll start.  Since the Kitchener stitch is worked from right to left, I recommend starting where the yarn is at the right side.  Give yourself about a generous yard of yarn to spare and cut your yarn and put on the darning needle, giving yourself a huge tail so the length you’ll be working with won’t be so long and tangly.

The Kitchener is worked with a front needle and back needle, but for this project I think it’s easier to refer to them as the top needle and bottom needle..  Locate the 2 needles you’ll be beginning to graft from.

The tricky part will be that all 4 needles will be close together, and you just want to work the front 2, and when you’ve worked across and those 2 needles are no longer used, you’ll flip the work and work off the back 2 needles.  You’ll be tempted to get frustrated with those back 2 needles getting in the way, but take your time and focus on those front 2.

Now, there’s a lingo, or chant that goes with the Kitchener: “Knit purl, purl knit.”  This is confusing to some because there is not knitting or purling going on with these stitches.  It is referring to inserting the needle into a loop knitwise or purlwise.  Let me show you the difference between the two.

This is knitwise:

This is purlwise:

To set up the stitch, thread the darning needle through the bottom needle purlwise, and then through the top needle knitwise.  You’re ready to start the “chant” now.

Step 1: Working with the bottom needle, thread the needle through knitwise and slip that stitch off the needle.  Then thread the needle through the next stitch purlwise and keep that stitch on the needle.

Step 2: Then moving to the top needle, thread the needle through purlwise and slip that stitch off the needle.  Then thread the needle through the next stitch knitwise and keep that stitch on the needle.

Repeat those 2 steps over and over until you’ve reached the end of one side.  I highly recommend before starting the next side to go back and fix the tension among any of the stitches you just did.  I like to thread my yarn through very loosely and go back and tighten each stitch.  I find that’s easier than doing it too tight and trying to go back and loosen them.  Once that side looks perfect, flip your work, set up your stitches again on those 2 back needles and work across the other side.

Weave in your ends and you’re done.  Now go eat some chocolate.  You’ve earned it.

I’m Blessed

This week’s post is a necessity for me.  I’ve been stressed with my housework ganging up on me more than usual it seems.  If I want to stay on top of the laundry, I need to do 2-3 loads a day, and that includes diapers.  I’ve been doing maybe 1 because of our busy-ness.  Add to that busy time the fact that the kids have been kept up late often.  It’s not just one night, it seems everyday someone is missing a nap, or staying up late, or…

So one of my kiddos has started wetting the bed again, from pure exhaustion.  Guess what that does with my whole “behind in household chores” problem.  If you said “compounds the problem a lot” you would be right.

I need to say “no” more.  I’m not feeling blessed this weekend, but stressed.  It’s time to refocus.  It’s time to breathe, and worship.  This week, I need this post.

I am blessed with a gorgeous house.  It does require maintenance, but seriously, I love it.  It’s 111 years old and has such fun woodwork and stained glass windows and a huge stinkin’ yard that takes hours for Knut to mow twice a week…

Sorry.  Refocus.

I’m so grateful for friends who will visit me and not even blink at the toys everywhere and the dog hair collecting on the floor.  You know I love you when I’m willing to show you how I don’t have it all together.  At least that’s what I tell them.  They just walk past Mt. Pajamas on the couch like it’s no big deal and we sit and talk about our kids.  I love my friends.  Just a few years ago I felt so lonely and without friends and these days it’s quite the opposite.  We moved out to the country 5 years ago now, and I finally feel like I have friends.  That is a huge blessing.  We were beginning to wonder for awhile if something was wrong with us.

I’m so blessed that we’ve all stayed healthy all summer long.  It’s like a summer miracle.  And no, I’m not going to knock on wood when I say that because I’m scared that means we’re all going to get sick now.  I’m going to say it’s worth it to praise God for something he has done for us, and if that means that sickness will all fall on us now, it will have been worth it.  So there, silly superstitions.

We’re blessed that the crops are doing well.  That is always a blessing.  On a much, much smaller scale, my small tiny business has been doing well and I got my most recent diaper order out early.  I’m publishing one more knitting pattern than I have planned this year, and I have actually been starting to get a few emails about sponsors for the blog, something I was totally not expecting.  When you’re used to not making a paycheck, any sized paycheck is kind of fun.

(Small disclaimer: it’s not that I’m working more and cleaning less.  I’m working on Nerdy Gerdy/blog stuff after the kids are in bed a few times a week just like always.  That work is just more productive these days.  I still work the same amount as a homemaker while the kids are awake as I did before.  That work feels a bit less productive these days for various reasons.)

Ahem.  Refocus.

I’m blessed to have a rose garden.  It’s gorgeous and I can pick them whenever I want whenever someone isn’t screaming…so sometimes.

I’m blessed by reading the comments each day on this blog.  It’s about as fun as getting a letter in the mail.  I love letters.

I’m blessed by watching our chickens outside.  They’re just a hoot.  Well actually, they’re a cluck, but watching them is a hoot.

As I remain confused on why God still continues to bless us so abundantly in so many unique ways.  I will continue to rejoice that He does.  His love baffles me.  I’ve have reached out to Scripture more this last week and that has been a blessing. 

Doesn’t it always come back to that?  It is good to be thankful for stuff, and experiences, and people.  Nothing compares to God sharing Himself with us.  Can we even fathom it?

How have you been blessed this last week?  I’d love if you participated by leaving a link to your “I’m Blessed” post, or left a comment saying how you’ve been blessed.  It’s just for fun.  It’s just for Him.  Well, I guess it’s mostly for us too.  At least I know that this week, it was what I needed.

Silje the Chef

As I’ve mentioned before, my kids love cookbooks.  Silje received the “Princess and the Frog” cookbook  for some occasion and she’s been begging to make the recipes in there for the longest time.

I tend to be a bit of a control freak in my kitchen.  Knut tells me that for a little person, I take up a lot of space in the kitchen.  It’s true.  I don’t even like him making toast if I’m in the groove.  Mostly because standing in front of the toaster blocks the cupboards to all the spices, measuring things and bowls.  When I’m in someone else’s kitchen I feel so out of place…like I’m in their space and I’m never sure what to do. 

Silje always wants to help and I’m so bad at letting her.  I’ve worked up to letting her at least stand on a chair and watch me, and I’ll explain how to do things.  She’s been retaining  this information, but I’ve still been bad at letting her get my kitchen dirty.  Well, my kitchen is dirty the majority of the time but at least it’s my mess.

She seemed down about this the other day and I told her that she’d be able to cook, one day.  She asked me again: “When?”

I realized I had to let her step into this, and said “next Friday.”  She perked up.  “Really?”

Yup.  She knows once I set a date there is no going back.  She quickly sifted through her recipes and picked out 10 that she couldn’t choose between.  I told her if she wanted, she could pick a main dish, a side, and a dessert.  We’d make a day of it.

O, she loved that.  There was lots of squealing going on in our house that day.

So the menu that she chose from her Princess and the Frog cookbook was:

Facilier’s Fruit Salad
Buford’s Fish Fillets
and for dessert: Charlotte’s Coffee Cake

Since the whole meal from the fish to the fruit was very light, I suggested we throw a few baked potatoes in the oven as well…for the men.  Baked potatoes are her favorite.

I knew, I just knew that if I walked her through it, I would take over.  I would scold her for spilling something.  I would tell her she was doing something wrong when in fact it wasn’t wrong, but just her way.  She was so excited and I was certain I was going to ruin it, so I told her upfront that if she did this, I would be in the room to do heavy lifting or put things in and out of the oven, but she was supposed to do everything.  Everything from measuring ingredients to the dishes.  If she had a question, I would answer, but I was going to stay at the table the whole time.

She loved that idea.

We did the shopping on Thursday and picked up some wild salmon, melons, kiwis, 2 colors of grapes, fresh mint leaves.  We bought every single stinking item on that list.  She didn’t want to fudge on any of it.  Well, we picked salmon because the other kinds of fish listed weren’t at our Walmart.

I told her to start with the fruit salad because that way it could chill while she made everything else.  I sliced open the cantaloupe, but I had her scoop out seeds, use the melon baller, measure out proper amounts each fruit.  I even let her use a sharp knife to cut the grapes in half like they were in the picture, as well as mince the mint, and slice the kiwi.  She let me slice the apple thin for her.  This was her first time using a sharp knife, and I’ll admit I hovered for that part.  She was very careful and did such a great job.

(By the way, I’ve never had mint in a fruit salad before and Knut and I loved it so much that I think we’re going to put it in everything from now on.  It’s amazing in a fruit salad.)

Then I told her that since the fish took only 20 minutes to cook, she should make the cake first so that it will be ready right after we eat.

The cake took some time.  It actually took her about 1 1/2 hours just to get it in the oven.  She’s made a box cake by herself once before with me there “helping” but this was searching out the baking powder, the various sugars, reading labels, measuring it out.  She flipped out when she spilled some vanilla.  She cracked the eggs herself even.  The kitchen was a mess and I forced myself to stay at the table.  If she dropped something, I’d tell her to relax and get the washcloth.  If she was looking for something I didn’t get it for her, but told her where to look.  This was going to be all her.  I wasn’t going to rob her of that.

I’ll tell you, though, staying out of her way was a lot of work for a control freak like me.
I was exhausted afterward.

I poured the batter for her into the pan, and once it was in the oven I told her to start on the fish fillets.  She crushed the Ritz crackers and added all of the spices one by one.  She learned so much about all the spices in our cabinet.  In fact, I could go on and on with how much she learned in the kitchen yesterday.

She was nervous about touching the fish to batter it herself, but I told her that she was the one who chose the recipe, and she was the one who was going to make it.  She looked up with me in astonishment as she pressed the fish into the melted butter saying “This isn’t so bad!”  When the fish got in the oven I told her to start on the dishes.  She wasn’t super excited about that but started with little fuss.  She was about half done when the fish was ready and I told her that I’d do the rest after supper.

She really made me proud.

I took the picture before the potatoes got out of the oven.  Sorry about that.  Here’s Silje’s plate.

Never mind the food that is already on the table. 

It was super yummy.  Knut thought she should cook more often.  I told him if I had 4 hours to blow every afternoon…

I know…it won’t be long before she’ll be doing it without me in the room.  I don’t think I’ll mind one bit because I’ll tell you: she’s a darn good cook.  Her meal was better than anything I’ve made in weeks.  It was also more expensive than most meals I’ve made in the last few weeks, but it was sooo worth it.  She made me so proud that I may or may not have cried after she went to bed last night.  When did she grow up?

Here is her cake.  We had friends over so I had to get it out of the pan and it stuck just a bit.  I can’t for the life of me find my mesh sifter for the sugar on top but I did that for Silje since she was busy playing with our dessert guests.

It was a sour cream cinnamon coffee cake and it was delicious.

My daughter can cook…and bake.  This will take some getting used to.