Madness Again

This past year has seen all kinds of madness in my life! But, THAT is NOT what this blog is about.  Last month, a different kind of madness descended on my house (and everywhere else I go with project bag in had). It is time for Sock Madness 10. It is not my tenth year, only my second, but it is a hoot and I am, after some trepidation, back at it

Right now, I am between rounds. The current round ends at the latest on April 18th at 5:40 pm EDT, and then then there is usually a day or two before the next pattern drops, so I  hope to have a good time to rest between these rounds. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to knit, but not at the mad rate that I need to use for Sock Madness.

Today, I finished round 3 of this year madness, with my beautiful, but painful to knit New Zealand inspired Waimakariri (a river in New Zealand) socks by Sonya Newstead. These are lovely and comfortable to wear. They have a lovely toe treatment and are comfortable. However they are almost impossible to get over the ankle. A good blocking is needed I think. image_medium2

These were a surprisingly challenging knit with lots of M1Rs (my least favourite of the increases) and complex movements of the cables all done with written directions. I am a chart kind of person. Written directions and I do not get along, except as a way of verifying what I think I see in a chart. The design is lovely, but when I first saw the pattern, I really did not expect to be as challenged with these as I was.

The previous two rounds were more challenging than last years first rounds. First there were the delightful SlipStripSpiral socks by Mylene Pipers. These were fun and relatively easy, however her instructions combined several different bits of patterning, so it was a bit confusing to sort out. However, the resulting socks are fun!


The second pattern was Ronni Smith’s Rose and Thorn Socks. After a harrowing beaded provisional cast-on it was smooth sailing for the rest of the sock. Next time I do a beaded provisional cast-on, I will do it differently. The socks turned out beautifully and I do love me a hemmed edge on my knitted things.





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Soup for an Overindulgent Day

I am trying to eat more healthfully. That does not mean a traditional diet, but it does mean eating sensibly and healthfully, at least most of the time. Some days, like today, I overindulged in a big breakfast and an even bigger lunch. This is perfect day to turn to soup for my evening meal. Soup is healthy (well, this one is), filling and really is great for a very light supper after eating too much the rest of the day.

Anyone who is on a fasting diet or a intermittent fasting diet like the 5:2 diet will love this recipe since a serving of this soup is only 70 calories. Of course, you can change up the vegetables or seasonings to any that you prefer, though the nutrition information may change.

Healthy Vegetable Soup - Chunky

Healthy Vegetable Soup – Chunky

To add more sustenance to the soup for those who have not overindulged all day, you can add cooked meat, noodles, cheese or a sour cream garnish (especially if you have pureed the soup). Oh heck, even those who overindulged can add a tablespoon of low-fat sour cream or Balkan yogurt (both have about 13 calories per tablespoon) and still be under 85 calories a cup!

Healthy Vegetable Soup

  • olive oil spray, light coating
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced

    Healthy Vegetable Soup - Pureed (with a garnish of low fat sour cream)

    Healthy Vegetable Soup – Pureed (with a garnish of low fat sour cream)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • tablespoon ginger, fresh, chopped
  • 85 g carrots, chopped
  • 250 g broccoli, chopped
  • ½ bunch kale, just the leaves 
  • 900 ml chicken broth
  • 450 ml water
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • teaspoon italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1.Spray stock pot with cooking spray.
Sweat the onions and the seasonings. Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking. Add the carrots, broccoli, kale and cook for a few minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes to an hour. Add less water if you will be simmering only 20 minutes as less of the water will evaporate.
2.Optional: Puree the soup to make a creamy vegetable soup.
This recipe makes about 6 cups of soup.

Calories per cup: 70, fat: 1 g, carbs: 11 g, protein: 5g, sodium 129 mg.

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It’s Madness, I Tell You!

Last year, I found the Sock Madness group on Ravelry after the madness had begun. It sounded like a crazy, fun, inspiring idea, but I had missed out for the year.
Sock madness is a 7 round, world-wide, sock knitting competition. In each round, people are eliminated until there is only one person left on each team of about 40 people. In the seventh round, the lone survivors from each team go against each other to see who can knit the seventh round (read this as very difficult) pattern the fastest.

Now, I am a slow knitter. So, whatever possessed me to join in on the fun? First off, the competition is for everyone. You are put on a team with people who knit socks at a similar speed to yours. So, until that last round, everyone has a chance to progress. I had three goals for Sock Madness: have fun, get to round three at least and focus on speeding up my knitting. I am definitely having fun (in a totally stressful, nerve wracking way), I made it to round three and I have found some strategies to help me knit faster (mainly, focussed knitting in limited time frames). As a bonus, I get socks out of the deal. It is a win-win situation all around!

The first round sock this year was Alohomora by Malena Andersen (her first ever published design — congratulations Malena!). It was an easy yet interesting knit. These are such a comfy pair of socks. I love them.

Alohomora Socks

Anyone who finished Alohomora in less than two weeks moved on to the second round of the competition. In total, 521 of the over 700 registrants finished both socks and moved to the second round. Another 116 participants managed to finish at least one sock during the two weeks and became “cheerleaders”, welcome to knit along, but no longer able to advance in the rounds. Once the round was over, much anxious checking of website and email ensued while waiting for the specs for the pattern and then for the actual pattern to materialize.

The second round sock was a lovely cabled design, Cable Madness by Karen Buhr.

Cable Madness

This time around, the first 32 people from each team to finish their socks, advance to the next round. After a concerted effort to knit as quickly as possible, I was number 6 to finish on my team. Woo hoo!

Once finished these socks, qualifying participants received a bonus pattern to knit while waiting for the round if so desired.  I passed on knitting those socks for the time being as I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy.  More on that later.

Now, I wait for the round to be over, admire everyone’s fabulous socks, knit on other projects and prepare to stalk the Sock Madness group and my email for the information for the next round.


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Faster, faster!

Thank goodness that there are faster ways of creating fabric than knitting or even crocheting.
A few days ago, DH and I finally assembled the lovely 24″ Kromski Harp I got as a gift last year. It is lovely to behold!
I warped it the next day. This took a few hours, especially when I wound the warp and it was somewhat wonky. I rewound it and it is much better now.My new Harp and its first warp.
On Saturday I wove the first of three throws/blankets on this warp. These are tiny blankets meant to cover the knees of residents at a local nursing home. They go very quickly.

My new Harp and its first warp.
The first blanket was a houndstooth weave. I am quite pleased with it. Actually, it is an elongated houndstooth weave because I was unable to beat the weft (the yarns going across) to match the spacing of the warp. But, it is still lovely.
The second blanket was begun on Sunday (yesterday). I wove a few picks and hemstitched the beginning. At first I was not crazy about the colour combination. This morning I wove for a while and got to about 16″ of length. I really like it now and am glad that I decided not to rip it out yesterday!

My new Harp and its first warp.

Must finish this one and do one more on this warp. Then I will rewarp the loom and make a few more of these as Christmas gifts for some of the residents. These are part of a long term project started last year, where I wanted to make a shawl or throw for all the residents on the same ward as two of my relatives. I was going along beautifully, but lost track somewhere along the way, and now I need to get some more done quickly. This is my solution and I am loving it!

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Knitting a Fabulous New Cowl by Xandy Peters

20140806-102427-37467526.jpgI recently came upon this fantastic new cowl design called Petal Cowl by Xandy Peters. It is  gorgeous and brilliant design that I wish I had come up with. Then I came upon Berin’s version and immediately ordered the same yarn even though I am on a yarn diet. The yarn and pattern combination is fantastic and thoroughly surprising as the colours move through the developing cowl. The photos below show various parts of the cowl and how the colours change. Beautiful.


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Project Beginnings

Recently, on one of my Ravelry forums, someone asked whether when selecting a project we are attracted to a finished project or we are attracted to a technique and then we learn to love the project.

While I can never see myself starting an actual full sized project, no matter how intriguing the technique, without loving the project itself, (unless it was for a gift with very specific requirements),  I often find myself exploring interesting techniques, even if I don’t love the finished project. This exploration sometimes takes the form of a small finished project. After the exploration, I either create a plan for something I love or enjoy the exploration and then move on.

As far as actual projects go, I take one of several routes to selecting a project.

Sweet Dreams Shawl for a friend

Sweet Dreams Shawl for a friend

1. The usual route is the traditional love at first sight one, I see a project I adore and I must make it. I happily hunt for a great yarn to go with the project and merrily start. Many of my finished projects are of this category. Almost every time I see a finished project for BooKnits’ Sweet Dreams, I have a desire to knit it. I have already knit two and given them away, but I also want to make one for myself (and I don’t make projects multiple times as a rule).

A sampling of some of the finished scarves.

A sampling of some of the finished scarves.

2. I discover, either through surfing the web or by playing, a new technique, stitch or idea and I explore it in samples and swatches and then I may start a project (though honestly, after doing several large samples/swatches, I may still be in love with the idea, but feel “been there, done that”). These projects are often smaller and very often are gifts in situations where I have to make many gifts for a group. For Christmas 2012, I made almost 40 scarves as gifts and many of those would fall under this category. Except for this type of gift, these projects often do not get further than the sampling/swatching phase.


Hy Shawl

3. A fabulous yarn sparks a design idea. Then I go the route of samples and swatches (see #2). These projects tend to get finished more often. I am not sure if it is coincidence or if yarn driven projects are more motivating. One example is my Hy Shawl.



Baby Chef's Hat

Baby Chef’s Hat

4. A design idea strikes and I start the design/swatch process with a vengeance and somewhere in there I hunt for the perfect yarn, sometimes after doing a lot of the swatching in advance. These projects sometimes get finished and sometimes not. This Baby Chef’s Hat was a second reworking of the design when I found that the first hat just didn’t look enough like a chef’s hat.

There are undoubtedly other routes I take to choosing projects, but I think most of them would be subcategories or combinations of these four. Please leave a comment on how you chose your next projects, whether, knitting, or something completely different.


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At long last, a 2014 FO!


January has been kind of bizarre, both in terms of life and in terms of knitting. I started the year off with several problem projects that I wanted to address and several planned projects. I have really made little progress on any of those, but have finally finished a project. This was an only vaguely planned project that somehow made it to the front of my queue.

Late last year, a number of people in my knitting group were planning a KAL (knit along) of the Juneberry shawl by Jared Flood. I ad admired the shawl for a long time, but somehow it had never reached my queue. I decided to join in and then promptly relegated the thought to the back of my head. In January, I saw everyone’s progress on the beautiful shawl and decided to launch in, even though I have a ton of projects already on the go (this is so unlike me, HA!).

I decided to use stash yarn, though I really, really wanted to go out and get beautiful, luxurious, yummy yarn to knit this with.  I pulled out what little worsted weight I had in an appropriate quantity and started knitting. One of the members of my group did a lovely i-cord edge and so I followed suit and it really added a lot to the look of the shawl. She, brilliantly, did a faux i-cord and I did a really i-cord where I slipped the stitches on every second row. This was a mistake as the sides of the shawl are not as stretchy as I prefer. I corrected this on the bottom and did two i-cord rows before starting the next row. This worked much better.

I was making great progress and was well on my way to finishing when I got sick and felt so awful that I did not knit for four days!  I slowly started back on knitting as I worked on the shawl and recovered from a nasty flu.

Now, my beautiful, thick, and warm Currantberry shawl is blocking and I get to sit for a few minutes and smile as I take in my first FO of 2014. On to other projects, including the Husband socks that may never be.  But that is another story.


The photo at the top left is the shawl just off the needles, the bottom left is after the shawl has been soaked and spun out and the photo on the right is the shawl blocked and drying.

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