In Progress: 2019 Temperature Blanket [01]

Ask me about my least favorite projects to knit or crochet and I’ll return you a list that looks like this:

  • Blankets

  • Amigurumi

  • Baby stuff

Now ask me about all the projects I’m currently knitting or crocheting and I’ll return you a list that looks like this:

  • Blankets

  • Amigurumi

  • Baby stuff

The weird thing is, I’m not even thinking about running into traffic - yet. I’m enjoying working on all three (yes, three) of the blankets I started over the holidays and chomping at the bit to tear apart my “My Little Pony” and “Disney Princess” amigurumi kits I bought with Christmas money (for those of you asking, yes, I’m a child).

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One of those blankets is my Temperature Blanket. What the heck is that? Basically, each day, I record the temperature at 12PM and crochet a row in a color I’ve pre-selected that coordinates with that number. The row takes only about 10 minutes for me to complete so it’s perfect for a quick lunch break recharge OR is really easy to catch up on over a weekend. It’s classic potato-chip crocheting.

This whole concept isn’t new and loads of people over the years have made their own so I feel like I’m late to the party - BUT I’ve been getting back into the instant gratification and thick, cozy texture of crochet lately so I was jonesing to pick up something that could be ongoing.

I’m using the Granny Stripe pattern from Lucy over at Attic 24 except I didn’t chain to start - I did a foundation single crochet because I just really hate chaining, especially on blankets where that means your foundation won’t stretch. I think part of the reason I hate crocheting blankets is because the first row always seems wonky for me. So far, my edit looks good and I actually got the math right so kudos to the art major over here.

At-A-Glance: The Details

Yarn: Hobby Lobby <> I Love This Yarn
Pattern: Granny Stripes from Attic 24
Methodology: See image below for the temperature tiers I’m using

I still can’t believe I’ve got three blankets on the go and a commission on the way that I’m unnaturally excited to start. This is the “new year, new me” I wasn’t anticipating. But every amazing thing in my life has been unexpected so I’m rolling with it.

Hope you all are having a great start to 2019 :)

So did 2018 happen or...?

My “holy crap I’ve lost my mind and went rogue with pink, purple, and unicorns” Christmas tree.

My “holy crap I’ve lost my mind and went rogue with pink, purple, and unicorns” Christmas tree.

It’s about two months shy of a full year since my last blog update. Some of you might be wondering what happened to me - I’m asking myself the same thing. 2018 blew by and it was… pretty terrible. I won’t get into the details here because I’m not that type of person but my close friends and family will know why.

Anyway, the holidays are legit right around the corner, which breeds a whole lot of stress while also providing valuable downtime for me to reflect on the past 365 days and how much I did (or didn’t) accomplish.

For example, something that’s bugging me is the fact I barely touched my yarn. If my stash was going to outlast my life expectancy before, it’s just dominating my life and (in)sanity now. I didn’t add much to it, at least, with the exception of some must-haves, like The Cozy Knitter’s 24-stripe advent skein.

I also had grand plans to craft Christmas gifts for everyone this year but I’m plain old not in the mood - for either crafting or decorating. I went rogue with my Christmas tree and minimalist on the tchotchkes. With any luck, I’ll be moving out by April and I don’t feel like dealing with constantly revamping my house for the seasons. Maybe I’m old and jaded, which… fine. I embrace it at this point.

Dot mandalas have consumed my soul (or what was left of us)

Dot mandalas have consumed my soul (or what was left of us)

I started painting dot mandalas earlier this month, though, and that’s been a relaxing project during a season designed to make you rip your hair out with unattainable expectations. I’m an art major and haven’t touched any of my supplies in years because who has the time to indulge in activities that don’t generate money these days? So I’m glad I’m at least looking at my paint again.

What else have I been doing? I took a little working vacation to England for two weeks and had a blast. I’ve been knitting on my Hue Shift Afghan, albeit slowly. I’ve started a million pairs of socks that remain half-finished because I have no attention span. I’ve been cleaning and organizing my house to make things livable while I come up for air after my basement flooding over the summer (and destroying half my living space so I’m feeling claustrophobic, to say the least). I’m going to the Women’s March in DC with girlfriends of mine from a news group I’ve joined and I’m really looking forward to that. At the urging of my friends, I’m also about to dabble in the joy of solo travel, starting with Nashville over President’s Day weekend.

One pair of Halloween socks I started (but never finished) knitting in The Cozy Knitter’s “Haunted” colorway.

One pair of Halloween socks I started (but never finished) knitting in The Cozy Knitter’s “Haunted” colorway.

Oh, and I booked a shawl knitting class with the incomparable Stephen West when he visits one of my LYSes, Conversational Threads, in February. I feel like that’s probably the most relevant topic I’ve rambled about so far and I almost forgot about it. That tells you where my brain is right now.

Really, I’m just trying to get my life back - harder than you’d think but I’m a lucky gal who has the best people around to support me. Every time I think this year almost killed me, I have enough photos and “stupid quotes” documented on Facebook to help me feel like there’s a reason I’m here and I’m loved. And anyone who tries to knock me down can take a hike. I’ve spent the better part of five years being told I’m useless and you know what? Fine. I took that negativity, focused on my career, and became successful (go ahead and google me) so, ya know, silver linings and all that. But I’m too old to evaluate my self worth on a daily basis so if you’re just here to waste my time or cause drama, feel free to go pound sand.

On that note, I suppose I should finish up what’s left of my craft projects before Christmas and wrap up work for my highly anticipated week off. Tomorrow night brings ugly sweaters and beer back into my life and I plan to indulge for the next 10 days - don’t @ me!

In Progress: Changing Staircases Shawl

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently took a work trip to Vegas. From where I'm located (PHL), that means I had nearly six hours of in-flight entertainment to scrounge up.

I needed something that didn't require scissors, so my Ho-Ho-Holiday Socks were out (thanks to contrasting heels) and I also wanted something that didn't require too much concentration. There's something about a plane that's distracting to the point where I have a hard time even reading most flights, so I tend to stick to music/podcasts and knitting.

That's when I remembered Trysten over at Dragon Hoard Yarn had published her Changing Staircases pattern for free back in September. I'd scooped it up knowing I'd have to pay for it the next day and figured it's something I'd want to knit up in times like these. Kudos to me for having forethought.

Plus, it gave me a reason to wind up and use the yarn I dyed at the beginning of January. I've been itching for a reason to use it and this was a perfect opportunity.

I haven't gotten much further than the photo, which I took before taking off, but I've found this project to be wonderfully satisfying since returning home. I'm almost positive I'm fighting off a bug I picked up being around thousands of people in Sin City (and I always get sick when I'm on the west coast - or flying, in general), so this has been a really good knit when I don't want to fiddle with tiny needles or think about anything that requires brain power. Work has been busy lately and all I want to do after 5PM is relax.

For what it's worth, my aforementioned trip to Vegas was pretty fab. On top of doing great things for work, I managed to squeeze in some me-time on the last night, where I saw Penn & Teller's show at the Rio - and even met them, too! I'm happy to be back home, though, and in the swing of winter where all I want to do is crawl into bed with a good book and keep warm.

Do I have any dedicated book-readers following my blog? I'm toying around with adding a section for book reviews. I've set a goal to read another 20 books this year (I read 21 last year) and realized I never really say anything about them; I give them star ratings with no explanation and then move on to the next. I want to be more intentional with my reads so I absorb what I'm taking into my brain. Any interest?

In the meantime, I'm:

Reading: Practical Magic
Knitting: Ho-Ho-Holiday Socks
Listening to: First Aid Kit - Ruin

Finished: Hygge Socks

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The Cozy Knitter's Hygge socks were my first cast-ons of 2018 - and for good reason.

I go through a bit of a slump after the holidays are over and the mere thought of knitting with holiday-colored yarn makes me sad. Not sure why that is, and never have been. I think it has something to do with not having to work and just enjoying relaxing time with friends and family with no real reason to go anywhere for anything other than selfish reasons. In other words, it's the only time of year I truly get to indulge in myself and I miss it when it's gone.

Cue the Hygge socks, which are a perfect combination of a spring colors that help me forget my living room is now void of cozy decorations.

Project Details:

Pattern: My own, sort of. Increased the toe until I had a multiple of 4 sts (my preferred number of stitches for socks in most yarn bases is 64), then knit in stockinette except for color change rows, where I instead *k3, sl1* around.
Yarn: The Cozy Knitter
Colorway: Hygge

Not too shabby of a cast-on for the new year, right? Even better: I finished the entire pair in a week! I'm sure there are knitters reading this right now who will scoff that it took me a full week to knit two pairs of socks, but it typically takes me at least two to finish socks I'm in love with (longer - much longer - if I lose interest).

Can't get enough? I'm also:

Knitting: Ho-Ho-Holiday Socks (also by The Cozy Knitter). I was going to take a break from sock-knitting for a bit so I could explore other projects (or finish up some WIPs), but I couldn't steal myself away. Plus, if you couldn't tell, I'm participating in The Cozy Knitter's 2018 Sock-A-Thon, so I need to knit up as many of these guys as possible. As an added bonuses, I also needed something to work on for my flight to Vegas next week for work, so cue another mindless pair of socks!

Cross-Stitching: Are you shocked? Yes, I had a weekend to myself at home and got bored, so I started cross-stitching an owl pattern I purchased a long time ago. Details to come soon!

Listening to: Two Girls One Ghost (podcast)

PS: Don't forget to follow my new knitting-only instagram @jennlikesyarn! Okay, it's not entirely knitting-only; there will be cross-stitching and crocheting, too ;)

Adventures in Yarn Dyeing

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Well, friends, it was bound to happen: I'm addicted to creating my own yarn.

For Christmas, Nick bought me a yarn dyeing kit from Walnut Farm Designs that came with three hanks of naked yarn, four dye colors of my choice, instructions, and various other supplies needed for a first dyeing experience. I've talked about trying my hand at dyeing yarn for at least a year - probably longer because I'm obsessed with indie dyers (if you couldn't tell by the fact I buy from them almost exclusively) - which means it was high time I put myself to the test. At someone else's expense.

Not surprisingly, Nick wasn't keen on just buying me more yarn for Christmas, so this satisfied two needs: 1) he could get me a gift that was something I'd use and b) I need more yarn, always. It was a good compromise, although I'm sure part of the reason he agreed was to keep me out of his hair for a few hours while I played color chemist. I'm also 99% positive he didn't think I'd actually use it, so he was okay with getting me something that would be shoved away instead of taking up valuable counter space in our kitchen.

He was wrong.

Last Saturday, Nick went away for a couple hours, so I dove in. Of course, I couldn't just dye the yarn a solid color because I love the road fraught with difficulty. I needed yarn that spoke to me and represented who I am, even if it turned out terribly.

I needed SPECKLES.

So I used a combination of spray bottles and sprinkling to create the look I wanted. Although NONE of the yarns came out exactly as I'd envisioned, I still like the results. Even more, I loved the process. While it won't be happening immediately, there will be more naked yarn and dyes purchased someday soon.

Do I plan on selling hand-dyed yarn? I'm not sure. The thought's crossed my mind, but I'm too much of a n00b to have a process in place that allows me to mass produce. Plus, I don't trust myself yet. We'll see how my first project turns out!

And in case you're wondering - NO! I will never abandon the indie dyers I've grown to love over the years. Perhaps a full list of my recommended dyers is due, eh?

PS: If you haven't already, be sure to check out my new knitting-only Instagram, @jennlikesyarn! I've been trying to update with my project statuses every couple days, so you'll see more frequent (and real-time) updates there than on the blog. Plus, I'll probably respond to comments ;)

In the meantime, I'm:

Listening to: Pod Save America
Knitting: Hygge Socks