That’s because I’ve moved! Come check out my recent posts on my knitting blog, The Connected Knitter.
Lots has happened for my little family since the last time I posted.
The biggest change is that I finally found a way to buy a little house of my own and we moved in December. We miss our little Mississippi Ave. North Portland bungalow, but it was pretty tiny and now all the kids have their own room and we’ve got lots of room to spread out.
You can see we’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s already looking much better (this is the listing photo) and we’re excited about the possibilities. We got a great deal due to the unkempt condition of the house (all cosmetic) and the barely-up-and-coming neighborhood. The good news is that we’re having fun with lots of projects and all Portland neighborhoods are improving, so it won’t be long before this is a sweet little spot.
Here’s a more recent photo, after several days out in the yard.
Now that spring is upon us, the garden is taking most of our attention. (I keep using the plural pronoun because I usually make the teenagers help me with all the work, though they don’t quite have the same sense of ownership that I do.)
I had a garden planner come out and take a look at the property and help me decide what I should do where.
It was the best $200 I’ve ever spent. (If you’re looking for help with homestead planning and you’re in Portland, call Renee at Hip Chick Digs.) I can’t wait to put this plan into action. We’ve started with some of it, but it’s a lot of work, so we’ll definitely have to phase it all in.
The parts that we’re working on right away are the springtime veggies and some infrastructure. Some projects currently in the works . . .
The Back 40
This area is in the bottom right corner of our plan and it is a huge area that receives a good amount of sun. Renee suggested I use this area for crops that are too big for a raised bed. We’re thinking corn, squash and potatoes.
As you can see, this area was a disaster — lots of blackberries, leaves, trash and junk. I hired some help to clean it out so we could get it planted soon. Now it looks like this . . .
I’m super-excited about this. We should be able to plant within the next 2 weeks.
I built this little compost bin out of some pallets I found for free on Craigslist. (Can I just say that the free section on Craigslist is my favorite right now?) Renee uses a 3-bin system, and I may upgrade to that eventually (I have the space) but I’m starting with one bin and using the 2 extra pallets to cover in front and on top.
I still have a little repair work to do on that back bed and I’m hoping to get to that today. The other two beds (one of them isn’t visible in this photo) have been weeded and we even planted peas in one of them (Alice built the cute little trellis). Tomatoes will also go in this bed. I’m hoping to get 8 tomato plants in this bed and because the peas will be just about done around the time the tomatoes really need to go in, I should be able to do it. Leeks, broccoli and cauliflower will go in the other beds.
I feel so satisfied that this little project is working so nicely! (It isn’t actually finished in this photo. I’ll post a finished photo later today.) I found some good instructions in this YouTube video. I did it almost exactly like the guy in the video made his, though I got a fancier faucet connector from Home Depot. The whole project was pretty cheap and easy! Here’s the list of supplies I used.
- 55 gallon drum — free from car wash
- Watts Neowasher 3/4″ #HPL-1872 — $14
- 3/4″ brass hose bibb — $5
- cinder blocks (3) — $3
- gutter redirector thingie — on hand
- screen — $3
- Total: $25
I probably could have done it for less, but I wanted to make sure it worked out, so I felt fine spending the money.
I’ve spent a ton of time researching the best way to have chickens on this property.
Originally, I thought I would carve out a section of the shed and have their run be on the left side of this photo.
But, I’m currently thinking that I want to keep the shed intact. There’s a lot of space on that side — plenty for both a henhouse and a chicken run. Now I’m just trying to find a cheap way to get it all set up over there. Once again, the free section of Craigslist is my best friend. I’m hoping to get this figured out before we head back to school next week (gotta love spring break!)
There are lots of other little things that need our attention, and we’re getting to them bit by bit.
- Other planting (Blueberries and hydrangea are already in the ground. Hoping to get some huckleberry out there, too.)
- Pressure washing porch, patio, shed, driveway
- Building driveway beds
- Cleaning gutters
- Painting the house (getting an estimate today)
- Replace ugly chain link fencing
So, as you can imagine, knitting has been taking a backseat! I’ve still got some projects on the needles and knit away at them a little bit everyday, but progress is slow.
My other big interest of the moment is my bullet journal. I’ll put together a post about that soon.
Being a teacher definitely has its benefits.
Though I certainly have work to do to prepare for the next year, the summer gives me an excuse to plunge headlong into all of the things I love.
I have so thoroughly enjoyed my family this summer, probably because I’ve come to the unsettling realization that having a 16-year-old daughter means that the clock is ticking on the time we have together. This year we went to NYC, Mt. Hood and had a lot of fun just hanging around together. I’ve been savoring every moment, knowing that our days of family vacations are limited.
This is the second year I’ve participated in The KnitGirllls annual summer knitting extravaganza. StashDash lasts between Memorial Day and August 14 (this year) and the goal is to knit either 3K, 5K or 10K meters of yarn. Because old works in progress can count (you can actually count any finished project, as long as you knit at least one stitch) it gives a lot of incentive to finish up old projects that are just about done but just need a little more to complete.
My biggest accomplishment was finishing my Thistle Stole that I started back in 2013 as part of a class I took at Madrona. I had finished the main knitting, I just had to cut the steek and knit the borders.
So far I’ve knit almost 7000 meters but I doubt I’ll get to the 10K. I’ve got one more sweater that needs sleeves that will give me about 1200 meters, but I’ve finished most of my other unfinished objects and we’ve only got a week to go.
Here are a few of the projects I’ve finished. The master list is below.
- Peachy Keen Socks
- Amy Shawlette
- Easy Folded Poncho
- String Theory Scarf
- Stripey Stocking
- Columbia Gorge Handspun
- Equality Socks
- Wool Gatherings Handspun
- Arbor Lodge socks
- Agave Socks
- Rose City Rollers — Rainbow
- Thistle Stole
- Apollonia Socks
- Amy Herzog Custom Crewneck Cardigan
Summer Reading Bingo
This is also my 2nd year participating in the Summer Reading Bingo Challenge with the Books on the Nightstand podcast. I’ve been really happy with the amount of reading I’ve been doing this summer and I should finish at least one bingo before school starts.
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton
- Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
- Landfall by Ellen Urbani
Somehow I forgot how much I love my ukulele. This summer I pulled out my old ukulele songbook (a binder of printed songs I like to play), my Rise Up Singing book and YouTube and I’ve been playing a lot. I’m really rediscovering it and having a great time playing.
One site I really love for fun ukulele chords and tutorials is UkeHunt. I’ve linked it on here before, but it’s worth checking out.
Every summer when I go away to my annual summer training I always bring along my colored pencils and pens and create colorful notes. I rarely make time to doodle and draw, but I really do love it. My nephew and I drew some pictures of our family trip to Mt. Hood, too.
It’s been a pretty awesome summer — so far. I’m not quite ready to call it finished!
Having so many challenging projects on the needles, I decided to pull out my old hexipuff project and knit up a few.
I forgot what fun little knits these are! I’m really enjoying seeing how the different yarn knits up. I really like the variegated puffs, though the orange and purple made from self-striping isn’t the best.
I’ve also discovered that my skeins of Socks that Rock make a slightly larger puff. I’m not worrying about it too much right now. I’m about to have a lot more STR leftovers, though, so maybe I’ll make an entire STR puff blanket.
I’ve decided to stop stuffing my puffs, so I’m actually making hexiflats, and I’ve decided I like them better this way. Someone I follow on Instagram is doing a hexipuff-a-day project and I could totally get into doing that. (Well, maybe 7 puffs-in-a-week, rather than the daily thing.)
Before I started knitting them up again, I reread my Hexipuff Tips post to remember how exactly I do them. It sure is handy to have a record of things like that!
Rockin’ Sock Club 2015
I will soon have a lot more sock leftovers due to the fact that I bit the bullet and signed up for the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club 2015. I’ve never been a member of this club before, but I’m so excited. I really love Socks That Rock yarn and I’m looking forward to having more of it in my stash.
I’m also thinking it will be a good compliment to the Cookie A club — since those patterns are so challenging, it’ll be nice to have something simple and colorful on the needles, too.
Well, no sooner had I signed up than I got an email that my shipment was on its way. Since I’m pretty local to BMFA, I should be getting my package soon!
Last night I took the kids out for one of our favorite weekend night activities — dinner and Powell’s. There was a wait at the restaurant, so Powell’s came first this time and we each got a book. This is what happened at dinner.
I was hoping to enjoy a little conversation with my two independent teens, but our books were new and fascinating.
I even purchased myself a book, thanks to a little blurb I heard on the Knitting Pipeline podcast.
I’ve just started it, but I’m looking forward to learning more and getting my little house in order. I’ve heard so many people talk about this book — it’s got to be good.
I’m off to prepare for a busy week while I grieve over the Seahawks devastating Super Bowl loss. Why the heck did they throw the ball?!
I’ll leave you with a little picture of January in Portland.
I’ve been plugging away on my plethora of non-mindless knits (see previous post) and have finally plugged away enough to have finished something!
I finished the Eiregal shawl from Romi Hill. It still needs to be washed and blocked, so it’s not much to look at at the moment, but I’ll do that soon and when it happens I’ll post a picture and give you a little run-down of the knitting experience (which was lovely, by the way).
So, this means I have a gap in my shawl-sock-sweater knitting lineup.
A gap just the right size for a new super-fun project.
This afternoon I cast on Ysolda Teague’s Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL shawl.
I’m knitting it out of Alpha B Yarn Elite B in the Nikiya colorway. This is a yarn I received as part of the 2014 Cookie A Sock Club and I just couldn’t bear to knit up this luscious MCN goodness in a pair of socks. I’m in need of a nice red shawl, so this is the perfect pattern.
I think the mystery aspect of this KAL is going to make it super-fun and I’ll be motivated to keep up as each new clue is released.
I finished the first sock and am about halfway through the leg chart on the second sock on the Friendship socks from Cookie A. These are out of SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock yarn in the Cayenne colorway. I’m enjoying the knitting and I got lots of compliments at knit night, but I will be glad when they’re finished.
I’m on the first front side of the Central Park Hoodie. I worked on it a bit at knit night (even with the cable, it’s the most mindless knit I’ve got going right now) but I haven’t been too inspired to work on it. One of these days I just need to kick it into overdrive and decide to finish this sweater. Other sweater projects have been catching my eye (like Pumpkin Ale, Hitofude, and a lopipeysa) but I’m committed to not starting a new one until this is finished.
In other news, I was so inspired to read the Yarn Harlot’s recent post acknowledging her 11-year blogiversary. Her post reminded me that in December I marked 4 years of blogging here. My work has been so full of fits and starts, I’m not sure how much of a following I have (though my Hexipuff Tips post seems to get a lot of attention). I’m grateful to have a little corner of the internet that is my very own and I’m feeling inspired to give this little space some more attention, so keep your eye out for future updates.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the types of projects I choose to knit.
For a long time I found that my knitting appetite was quenched at any given moment when I had three projects on the needles.
- A pair of socks
- A shawl or cowl
- A sweater or other garment
Socks satisfy my need for portability. A small project bag with a sock on the needles is easily pulled out during faculty meetings, long waits in line or my weekly knit night.
For the past year or so I’ve been leaning towards knitting vanilla socks (you can find my recipe here) which has added a nice autopilot quality to this portable project.
The shawl is always my thinking project. Usually incorporating some sort of lace, in fingering weight yarn, this project usually is not one I can knit at knit night. This is a home-by-myself-watching (listening to)-TV knit. For a long time I had a little ritual of listening to Paula from Knitting Pipeline over coffee on Saturday morning while I knit my shawl. Just lovely.
Sometimes the project that fills this category is not actually a shawl. I recently finished a lace hat that served this function in my knitting diet.
Because sweaters are larger projects, I don’t usually take them out to knit. But because the knitting on them is usually simple, they are great to work on when I’m watching something on TV that needs my attention (like football — Go Ducks!) or when it’s late and I want to work in a few rows before I nod off.
Limiting my WIPs to these three projects has proven very useful for me. I always have something I’m in the mood to knit and I don’t have so many projects on the needles that I feel like I never finish anything.
Which brings me to the dilemma of my current list of WIPs. Here’s what’s currently on my needles.
These are my Cookie A Friendship Socks in Sweet Georgia tough sock love yarn in the cayenne colorway. The pattern was part of the 2014 Cookie A Sock Club (October). You can probably tell by the computer screen that is next to the sock in this photo that these are not exactly your autopilot socks. I was a member of the Cookie A sock club in 2012 and 2014. I’ve done a pretty good job of knitting the patterns from the club (I’ve probably knit 7 pairs from the patterns), but I felt that I couldn’t really justify the 2015 club without more fully dedicating myself to knitting those patterns. So, I bought a bunch of solid color sock yarn (mostly from Knit Picks) and have set to work. I’m enjoying it, but mindless it is not.
This is the Eiregal shawl by Romi Hill. This pattern is the product of another club that I am in. I belong to Romi’s Seven Small Shawls club and I must confess that I have been pretty bad about knitting those patterns. I tried the first pattern that was released, but I wasn’t happy with it and it’s taken me awhile to get back to looking at the other patterns.
I cast this one on because I really wanted to use the Jojoland Cashmere yarn that I bought at Madrona last year. This yarn is an absolute dream and I can’t wait to have the finished product of this shawl ready to wear! My intention is to have it finished by Madrona this year.
This is my Central Park Hoodie knit out of Berocco Blackstone Tweed. I really like how it’s turning out, but it’s not particularly fun to knit. There is something about how the slubs in tweed yarn work around the needles that messes with my tension. It’s not the smooth knitting experience that I truly enjoy.
Still, I’m going to be really happy with the finished product and I’m sure it will get a ton of wear.
So, what’s the dilemma with all of these fine, beautiful projects? Not one of them provides the mindless, autopilot experience I sometimes crave.
If these projects were food . . .
- The Cookie A socks would be an Indian curry — delicious and pleasurable to eat, but containing a delicate balance of flavors.
- The Romi Hill shawl would be a fancy soufflé dessert topped with carefully-placed strings of spun sugar. Delicious but eaten with care.
- The Central Park cardigan would be granola — simple, delicious but super-crunchy and not always what you’re in the mood for.
- None of them are potato chips.
If these projects were shoes . . .
- The Cookie A socks would be wedge heels. Fashionable and pretty comfortable, but you really only wear them when you care.
- The Romi Hill shawl would be strappy sandals you wear to a wedding. Beautiful — nothing looks better — but small doses only.
- The Central Park cardigan would be hiking boots. Not the most comfortable, but good when you’re ready to work.
- None of them are my favorite Vans slip-ons.
So, I’m knitting away, trying to wrap up one of these projects so I can cast on that potato chip, Vans slip-on project that I’m craving.
You know those summertime images you see.
Tanned legs and flip-flopped feet are embraced by a rope hammock, while a dime-store paperback lies facedown across the lap (presumably because the reader is indulging in a sun-drenched afternoon siesta.)
Somehow my summer never measures up.
Mine is whirlwind of activity. Everybody home all day means there are more dishes to wash, more laundry to fold, more food to be prepared. The animals are shedding, the grass is growing and there’s still regular work to be done! Every summer, my visions of getting lost in a novel get washed, mowed and swept away.
Well, this summer is different. I’ve realized that I do much better when I have a plan, and I’ve put together a plan for my summer reading. Even better, I’ve included the kids, so we can support each other and it’ll be even more likely to actually happen.
The plan I’ve developed is built around this tool.
So far Leo is just one away from having a bingo (though we are allowing him to cross off more than one square per book — might have to rethink that decision, though.)
They’ve also put together a Young Adult version (though we were happy to just use this one.)
I heard about this idea on one of my favorite podcasts — Books on the Nightstand. They have their own version of bingo, with different, randomly generated topics and I’m honestly considering switching to that one.
And hey, tell me what I should read!
I hope you’re all happily knitting while my life flies by without me.
I have some amazing and interesting things coming together and it’s really taking all of my attention.
It’s all too new to really say anything about, but I will say that I am loving exploring how my personal and professional lives are converging. Truly wonderful things happening here at Chez LLM.
I suppose while I’ve got your attention I will tell you a little bit about what I’m knitting (during the 90 minutes per week I am finding the time!)
- Multnomah Shawl — I decided to cast on this lovely little shawl as my Camp Loopy entry. Go ahead, ask me if I’ve officially entered or have any hope of finishing by the June 30 deadline. I dare you.
- Cookie A Daenerys Socks (which I only spelled correctly because I copied and pasted.) I believe these socks are inspired by Game of Thrones, which I admit, I have never seen. Still, the socks are amazing to knit, though I couldn’t bring myself to use the INCREDIBLE Cephalopod yarn. How could I put that amazing color on my feet?! I satisfied myself by using a similar shade of Cascade.
- Vanilla Socks — Yes, do not despair — I am knitting a pair of vanilla socks. They’re my usual 3X1 rib and they’re knit out an amazing shade of Lorna’s Laces called “Zombie Barbecue.” What could be better?!
I would promise a more image-rich photo soon, but I know myself too well. Perhaps a blurred shot from my daily bus ride will make its way.
Until then . . .
Spring is sure a busy time around this house!
In addition to it being a crazy time at school, my garden is starting to wake up, my children are working on big school projects, and we’re all feeling to the call to get outside more. It’s almost time to start up with the gardening posts on here!
But, for now I’ll give a little knitting update.
First of all, I finished my Vodka Orangeade cardigan. I’m somewhat happy with how it turned out, and I’ll definitely wear it, but it came out much larger than I expected. I was pretty careful about swatching, but in the end it is one of those big, cozy sweaters that’s great for a Saturday morning with jeans. It’s alright and actually kind of goes well with the alpaca yarn that I used, so I’m moderately pleased.
I haven’t taken a finished photo, so this in-process one will have to suffice for now.
With that sweater done, I was ready to cast on another larger project.
I pulled out the sweaters’ quantities of yarn I’ve got in the stash and remembered that I’ve been meaning to cast on with the mushroom-colored Socks That Rock I got at the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale. I also happened to remember that when I picked up the yarn I was intending to use it for the Leaving cardigan by Ann Hanson. So I swatched and have cast on. I’m currently working on the back. It’s been awhile since I worked on a cardigan that required seaming! So far I’m pretty happy with how it’s going.
Sorry, no photo of my own to show, but check out this one from the pattern page. Such beautiful lace work!
The last project that I’ll share is a pair of socks out of Socks That Rock. I swear you never know what that yarn is going to do. Check out the flashing on these socks!
That’s all for now. I have been meaning to podcast again, by the way. I’m hoping for next weekend. At that point we’ll be just a week away from spring break, so I should have a little more free time.
When I finished my super-cute Nordic hat, I knew it just wouldn’t be complete without a good substantial pom-pom on the top.
I quickly ran out to Michael’s where I found the Clover Pom-Pom Maker, I pulled out a 40% off coupon and got it for about $8. I found it here on Amazon for even less.
There were some very basic instructions on the back of the package, but it wasn’t easy to figure out. Luckily, I did a quick Google search and found several tutorials. Here’s a great YouTube video that goes through the whole thing.
At first I was a little skeptical because the pom-pom maker is pretty cheap and plastic-y, but when I followed the tutorial, and finished my pom-pom, I was super-happy with the result.
Here it is sitting on top of my Nordic hat.
Definitely a fun, cheap little tool I can recommend.