FOs! Yay!

Two projects got finished in the last week! Yay!  One was a castonitis flare up project started on June 14th and finished on the 28th and the other is a long term UFO (UnFinished Object) started in January 2013.

image_small2On June 22nd, I blogged about the beautiful Intenso Shawl that I could not resist casting on, even after a one week cooling off period after determining that I really, really wanted to knit it. It is so beautiful and I am so glad that temptation won. The finished project is really beautiful and I love it!

To read more details and see more photos, take a gander at my Ravelry project page for the Intensive Therapy Shawl.

After finishing that shawl, I once again picked up a very image_small21long term UFO, the Horai Scarf. It was take along knitting, then it wasn’t, then it was, then it wasn’t, then it was and so on. Finally, after three and a half years it is done, blocked and ready to go!

Again, I am pleased with the result, after blocking. Before blocking, it really just looked like a blob of yarn, after blocking it turned into a beautiful web of lace.  Blocking truly is magical and arguably, the single most important aspect of any lace knitting or knitted lace project. It it the fairy godmother of lace, transforming a ragged blob of yarn into a something elegant and bewitching.image_small2
In between finishing these projects, I have been busily swatching for a new project, a shawl of my own design.
This afternoon, after many swatches to design my stitch patterns, to design the flow and to figure out the best way of increasing while having the increases work smoothly with the stitch patterns,
and after casting on at least a dozen time, making minor adjustments to various elements, I finally cast on for the actual project. img_9853-1Not being really ready to share this shawl yet, you are only getting the blob stage

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Getting Back to Knitting

It has been a while since I knit with regularity. This is extremely unusual for me. Normally, knitting is my therapy and it is what gets me through tough times. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer on April 28th and she died on May 11th (may she rest in peace), peacefully and surrounded by loved ones. It has only been in the two or three weeks or so that I have started knitting more regularly again. This may not seem like a long time to many people, really just about a month or so. But for me, I knit every day. Even to miss one day is quite significant, to go a month with very little knitting is unheard of.

It is nice to be knitting again!

I managed to finish the Sock Madness socks that came out the day that mother was diagnosed.  These socks will always remind me of my mother and her last days.

Sweet Nuttins — Sock Madness 2016

Sweet Nuttins — Sock Madness 2016

My castonitis continues to flare up at regular intervals. The beautiful Intenso Lace Shawl by Alina Appasov caught my eye. This time my self-discipline was hard at work and did not allow me to cast on immediately. I made myself wait a week to purchase and cast on. If I was still in love and still needed to cast on in a week, perhaps it was true love and not just a passing infatuation. True love it turned out to be.


Intenso Shawl

I cast on with Indigo Moon 100% Mulberry Silk in the Really Red colour way (which lies and is definitely not really red, but a beautiful, rich rusty brick colour). The yarn and the pattern are a joy to knit. The photo shows the shawl, having just started the lace section. It is lightly pinned out, so not as lovely as it will be when it is finished and fully blocked.

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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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