Circle, Circle, Circle-Skirt!

After months of trying to talk myself up to it, I finally got out my machine and actually sewed tonight. A few weeks ago, I purchased not only a pattern for a basic a-line skirt, but some lovely dark teal chambray to make it in. (And neglected to buy both the zipper and the fusible interfacing the pattern also requires.) And then I proceeded to do lots of thinking about said skirt, but being too chicken to make it until I made some simpler things.

Thursday, I stopped at on my way home at our local Joanns. I know, I have an amazing local fabric store, but I was looking for something I wouldn’t be afraid to ruin. I picked up a couple yards of basic cotton from the sale bin. (I also picked up some canvas yardage to make a tote bag from, the interfacing and zipper I need to make that pattern skirt, and some other sale cotton for who knows what.)

Matt worked on grilling our dinner, Lizzie played on her tablet, and I did all of the prep to make the basic circle skirt tutorial (over here) from Dana at Made Every Day. After dinner, I brought my machine out into the screened porch – the cord *just* reaches from the plug to the machine, when it’s on the very edge of the table. They ate popsicles, I sewed.

The skirt has lots of problems, sure, but I am pretty proud of myself. Most importantly, Lizzie LOVES it.

Circle, Circle, Circle-Skirt!

10 Tips for Habit Trackers

If you’ve ever checked out Pinterest or Instagram for BuJo inspiration, you’ve seen lots of examples of habit trackers folks have created for themselves. But, with all of that inspiration comes a bit of decision-paralysis. How do you choose what to track? How much is too much? Here’s ten things to keep in mind when setting up your own habit tracker.

  1. Track positive steps over negative ones. You’re more likely to be motivated by “Veggies as main dinner side.” rather than “No carbs at dinner.”
  2. Don’t track too many items. You’ll find yourself totally overwhelmed, trying to keep up with everything. Your tracker will also wind up being so large you’re likely to go crazy drawing it out.
  3. Include easy wins. Ever made a to do list with things you already did on it, just to make yourself feel like you’d accomplished something? Include something you’re likely to do, anyway, even if you didn’t have the tracker. It’s not fair to include “Made bed” if you already do it 90% of the time, but include things you do most, but not all days.
  4. …and stretch goals. No use tracking all of the habits you already have! Track some things which will need to remind yourself of on a daily basis.
  5. Consider tracking things which are not habits, per say, but things like “Low anxiety day” or “Migraine” or your cycle. You could also track your mood, helping you to figure out how you figure out how your habits impact your mood.
  6. Resist the urge to change the habits you track each month. This may sound appealing, but most of us needs to focus on habits month after month to make them stay. If you feel you’ve mastered a habit, pull it from the tracker, but don’t remove things you only did only some of the time, assuming they’re still important to you.
  7. Review your list every morning (or, if you’re not a morning person, before you go to bed). Every day. It’ll help remind you what’s important and keep your habits in the forefront.
  8. Make your tracker pretty. I know, I know. The habit tracker is really about the tracking part, not the aesthetics, but having a pretty tracker will help you to use it more. Because don’t we all want to look at something that’s visually appealing?
  9. Ensure each item on your list is measurable. Yep, goal-making 101. Record 30 minutes of cardio rather than simply exercising.
  10. Resist the urge to wait until the beginning of the month or week or you get a new notebook. You can start on a random Thursday afternoon. Think of it as a dry-run for a time you feel important enough to get started.

 

In case you need some inspiration or ideas:

10 Tips for Habit Trackers

MD S&W 2017 Recap

It became a sort of joke that I was never going to make it to Maryland Sheep and Wool again. I last went in 2009, back when I was a baby knitter and didn’t have much money at all to spend on yarn as I was still in school. (I spent that year walking around with Olga Buraya-Kefelian, a friend who also happens to be a knitwear designer who was just starting her ascent into knitting fame back then.) Every year after that, something would come up to keep me from going: we’d be out of town, be going to a party, I’d be sick, etc.

This year, though, I was determined to make it. Despite still not quite being over my cold, I went to the festival with my neighbor, Sara. We went on Sunday afternoon which, of course, is after all of the most popular items are gone but the crowds are far, far less than on Saturday or even right at opening on Sunday. We took our time and walked through each of the barns, the exhibition hall (which we missed the first time around, somehow), and the outdoor vendors.

I had gone with a rather laughable goal: buy two sweater quantities of animal-free yarn, one in sport weight and another in worsted. Yep, I went to a sheep and wool festival to not buy wool. Unsurprisingly, I did not meet my goal.

We did get to see an alpaca, though. Sara wanted to kidnap him and bring him home to meet her girls.

I couldn’t resist a few wooly things, however. I have quite a stash of worsted yarn right now, so went for sock and fingering-weight yarns, both of which I’m running rather low on.

Knittyandcolor Sock Yarn in the coloway Milky Way [to become socks for Sara]

I couldn’t resist winding it to see how the colors showed up.

Two gradients from Fiber Optic Yarns – Foot Notes Yarn (colorway: Thunder – Lightning) and Kasmir Yarn (colorway: Onyx – Crimson)

I took some time to wind the whole set of 15 little skeins up. (Then started on a shawl with it, right away.)

Any of you go to MD S&W? Get anything really fun?

MD S&W 2017 Recap

First I was sick, then saw a waterfall

I had all sorts of plans for last week. I was going to write up a whole bunch of posts about my recent knitting and what’s been going on in my life that’s not knitting-related. Then, Tuesday morning, I woke up with an extremely sore throat. But, after several Sudafed-loopy days, I am feeling quite a bit better and back to bring you fresh! creative! posts!

Ok, probably nothing all that interesting, just what you’ve come to expect: self-deprecating humor, knitting project summaries, and some words-only list posts.

But, first, some photos of a little excursion we took yesterday, the first day I was really feeling like myself. After a quick check of the SunsetWx set, Matt recommended we switched out our normal evening routine for dinner out followed by a trip to Great Falls for sunset. The forecast was correct, it was a nice sunset and not too warm/not too cold outside. I knit and entertained Lizzie, he did his photography. All of the photos below are mine from my phone; he takes way too long to post his.

First I was sick, then saw a waterfall

10 Shows I’ve Binged On

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me in real life that I watch a lot of TV. It’s how I decompress from a crazy day and what I usually have on in the background when I knit at home. Now that we’re in the age of streaming everything, I tend to only watch shows once they have mutliple seasons avaialble via one of the big streaming services. I just can’t be bothered to remember to DVR and then watch something that’s currently on (though that’s not an issue now, since we only have basic cable).

In no particular order, the last 10 shows I’ve binged on, some you may already know but a few others will probably be new to you, unless you and I hit the Netflix algorithms the exact same way:

  1. Allie McBeal: You know those shows you were aware of when they were first one but were too young to see? I’ll fully admit I started watching this to see what all of the late-90s fuss was about. See Allie date, with at least one court case being worked but her way-too-close, morally ambiguous law firm. Excellent reminders of pop culture things you only sort of remember if you’re in your early 30s.
  2. Lark Rise to Candleford: If there’s a BBC-produced period show out there, I’ve probably seen it. This one went off the air a few years ago and I didn’t even hear about it until it came up in my recommendations. Laura leaves the country for the prestigious job as the primary assistant to the town’s postmistress in the late 1800s (I think). Ignore the anachronisms and you’ll be fine. If you saw Downtown, you’ll recognize Bates and a few others.
  3. Archer: Okay, the show is really raunchy and inappropriate, but it’s also hilarious. Archer is a spy whose really quite horrible at his job but always manages to make it out of his missions alive, thanks to his sometimes-girlfriend, Lana, and not thanks to his misfit coworkers. Did I mention it’s a cartoon and he works for his mother?
  4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Netflix kept recommending this to me but I saw it was a musical comedy and ignored the recommendation. Then it was put on in our ski cabin and I fell in love. The main character needs a change in scenery/work/life and follows her camp boyfriend to his hometown (Sunny West Covina, California!). Lots of random singing/dancing in a variety of styles. Is very silly but they don’t tend to take jokes too far.
  5. Dance Academy: I found this when I was at home sick one day and felt like watching something about dance but had watched Center Stage too recently. Tara is a farmer’s daughter lacking in ballet technique but whose emotions – which tend towards fairy tales – show when she dances. Lots of stereotypes in her friends/classmates but they’re endearing. Teenage drama ensues often.
  6. Lovesick: I liked it’s old name, Scrotal Recall, but I think Netflix got hate mail over it, so it changed titles between seasons one and two. Dillon finds out he has an STD and has to tell each of his former partners. Being the sweet guy he is, he does this in person, rather than via the NHS-provided postcards. You find yourself wondering just who “Abigail” is after her name flashes on the screen.
  7. West Wing: Okay, so you probably heard about this before, but it’s always good to re-watch. When I get aggravated at our current political climate, I go back and re-watch seasons 1 to 4 to be comforted by Jud Bartlett. You’ll get a great taste for the show in the very first episode. Unlike many shows, it’s great from the first scene. (Features Rob Lowe in a very swoon-worthy performance.)
  8. Offspring: Okay, so I’ve got two British shows and this is my second Australian one. Main character is an OB/GYN with a crazy family and demanding job. She attempts to date but everything gets in her way. Not much medicine, as she really is the focus of the show, not the nuts and bolts of her job. Equally opportunity eye candy.
  9. Burn Notice: Great for those who always stop when they see A-Team re-runs when scrolling through channels at a relatives house. (I’m probably the only one who does that, I now realize. Lots of explosions but also great characters, beautiful scenery, and a different Big Bad most weeks, with occasional long arcs.) Michael is a “burned” spy – meaning they basically fired him and ruined his life. At least he’s still got a few friends (tiny woman who is into explosives, Bruce Campbell being himself) and his mom/brother around to help him out. Narrated by Michael, with lots of tradecraft explanations. Don’t worry, Phe’s horrible accent goes away by the end of episode 1.
  10. Better Off Ted: Okay, it’s only a single season and got cancelled years ago, but I think it’s still worthy of a binge. Ted is a marketing manager for a company who, well, is really bad at scientific research and could well be evil. His boss is played by a very serious Portia de Rossi. You’ll really start to pull for the scientists, Phil and Lem, who just want to do the right thing.
10 Shows I’ve Binged On

Knitting for Super Tiny Humans

Whenever I learn of someone close to me is having a baby, I almost immediately start thinking of what I can knit. I do all sorts of planning…and then tend to forget to actually make something until, oh, three weeks before the baby is due. They’re so small, so surely I don’t need to put aside tons of time to knit them? Except I have this thing for making blankets or using tiny yarn or some other craziness that means monogamist knitting for between a week to a month.

I’ve got knits for tiny humans on the mind now, as we have two friends plus a family member who are all expecting their first kid. And, of course…I’ve barely started on anything. But I’ve got some ideas.

Favorite Patterns

Baby Surprise Jacket – The pattern is a classic for a reason. It’s in a bunch of different books, so anyone who has any interest in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s work probably has a copy of the pattern lying around. It only takes ~300 yards of your favorite yarn and is both mindless due to the garter fabric and not boring, as each “section” changes what you’re doing. I’ve made 6 of these, using Fingering, DK, and Worsted weight yarns.

Finished-BSJ

Little Sister’s Dress: Only comes in one size but easy enough to scale up/down using a different size yarn. Make sure you keep track of your stockinette and reverse stockinette rows. Gives you an excuse to use cute buttons, though be sure they are really well attached!

littlesisdress001

Four Corners Blanket – Free pattern that’s modular for the first two squares, then not totally crazy to have on your lap when you’re adding the other two squares. When I knit this, I find myself getting excited as I zoom through each part, excited about getting to the next color/square. This would look really cool if done in a yarn with a long color repeat.

Four Corners Blanket

Coming Together

Stuffed creatures – I have a love/hate relationship with actually knitting these, but they are really fun and won’t be the same sort of thing someone’s Great Aunt would need for the kid. I tend to make monsters versus real creatures because, well, they don’t have to look like anything in particular when you accidentally misread part of the pattern. Rebecca Danger has TONS of great patterns for these. (Clicking on “stuffed creatures” will take you to a Ravelry page of all of her patterns.)

September 7 (Day 48) - Birthday
[Not a Dangercraft pattern but one from Berroco, called Celstine.]

Stay-on Booties – Okay, so I’ve never made any of these but a friend made some for Lizzie when she was brand new and they were great. Won’t fall off, are super cute, and so small they take like no time to knit. Saartje’s Booties are what I think of as the standard example.

Bounce – This is one of those patterns that I love the look of the finished project, but the actual knitting felt like a bit of a slog. Still! Do not be dissuaded. Excellent pattern and can be done in all sorts of fun color combinations.

Favorite Yarns

Berroco Vintage – This is my favorite, if you’re looking for a wool/non-wool blend that’s machine washable. Comes in a million colors. This comes in worsted, DK, and chunky versions, if not more.

Berroco Ultra Wool – Very soft but still superwash, again with an excellent range of colors. My LYS just switched to this – from Ella Rae Classic Superwash – and I like it even more than I liked that yarn for both being a pleasure to knit with and how well it holds up to washing/wearing.

Spud and Chloe Fine – Excellent if you want to do colorwork or otherwise need a superwash fingering yarn. (Rav tells me it comes in a stripy version, too.)

Blue Sky Fibers Worsted Cotton – Luxury cotton that’s worth the price. Limited color range but the colors that are offered are gorgeous.

Some Tips

  • Don’t be that person who gives a new parent something they can’t put in the washer/dryer.
  • Consider making blankets roughly three by four feet. It’s not only a good size for the car seat but for snuggling with when the kid’s a toddler.
  • Include with your handknit something to care for the parents. A gift card to a local pizza place that delivers, an offer of free babysitting, a box of K-cups of their favorite brand.

 

What’s your favorite thing to knit (or knit with) for tiny humans? If you have kids, what do you wish someone else knit when you had a baby?

Knitting for Super Tiny Humans