Gift Knits

!

When I first started knitting, after the initial awkward stage of holding two pointy sticks in my hands had passed, I got a bit of a "knitter's high" from the realization that I had this new ability to create. The possibilities were endless, and I wanted very much to share my new skill with everyone I knew, so I drove to the nearest craft store to purchase 10 balls of super bulky acrylic yarn. Everyone recieved a hat from me that Christmas.

Super bulky yarn is kinda magnificent for new knitters because it allows you to complete a small project, like a hat, in a day. It's instant gratification knitting. It really is awesome. If you are a new knitter, I highly recommend making a washcloth or two and then going straight to a super bulky hat, such as this pattern, which I've now knit over 15 times.

Anyway, like many knitters, my tastes have evolved to the point where acrylic yarns rarely hold any interest for me. This can be problematic in regards to gift knitting because while acrylic yarns are super easy to maintain - they can usually be thrown in the washer and dryer, no problem - the natural fibers I prefer to work with these days require different care instructions, and most people don't want to go through the effort to hand wash and lay flat to dry, or they don't know how. Plus, unless you're working with super bulky weight yarn, gift knits tend to be a lot more time consuming, taking weeks rather than days to finish.

That said, I still really enjoy knitting gifts for close friends and family on occasion, but because there are only so many knitting hours in a knitter's life, I have to go about the process a little differently. I have to be reasonably sure the gift recipient actually likes handmade things (because many people don't), and I have to be reasonably sure it'll fit, which means I have to have them try it on before I can gift it. It ruins the surprise, but it's worth it.

That's what I had to do with these socks, which I made for a close friend of mine who is always wearing interesting footwear, and who has shown a healthy appreciation for wool over the years. I ran across this pattern, Father's New Socks by Susan Crawford, and immediately thought of my friend, who just so happened to have a birthday on the way. And I'm really glad I had him try the first sock on before I started the second one because the foot portion was way too big. Unlike store-bought socks, hand knit socks really need to be the right size or they won't fit at all.

The construction for these socks is a little different than any other sock I've knit. First, the colorwork is deceptively easy because it's created with slipped stitches, so there are no floats in the back of the work. However, once you reach the bottom half of the foot, you can no longer work in the round, so you knit the sole first, hold the stitches on a cord, and move on with the instep, picking up stitches on either side of the sole to attach as you go. The instep is pretty finicky and time consuming, but I think it's worth it. I love these socks. They're very warm and squishy, and I hope my friend likes 'em. I know I'll definitely be using this pattern again in the future, and I'd love to use this slipped stitch technique for another type of project again someday too.

For more detailed notes on these socks, check out my Ravelry project page. And thank you so much everyone for the warm welcome back, both here and on my Instagram feed! It's so nice to be blogging again. 

Psst. Hi.

So hey…

I don’t really want to do the thing where I apologize for being gone for nearly a year. Life happens, motherhood happens, employment happens (and then un-happens), and if I had to feel guilty every time life got in the way of blogging, I’d probably give it up. 

Which would be a huge bummer! Because being creative and working on projects and sharing favorite recipes and connecting with like-minded folks are some of the very things that make me feel most balanced as a human being seeking a slower, more simple life. So instead of apologizing (to both myself and you), I’m just going to dive right on in and give you a general overview of what’s been going on and what I’ve been working on lately.

Back in March, I quit my job as the blog editor for a small company in Portland to do the stay-at-home-mom thing. I enjoyed my job, but it took all my creative energy and left me with very little motivation to work on projects at home. Plus, the last thing I wanted to do after sitting at a computer screen all day in the office was to go home and sit at another computer screen.

It took a few months to get into the rhythm of life as a stay-at-home-mom, but over the past few months I've found myself feeling creative and inspired again. And now that we're back to a primarily one-income household, I'm feeling even more motivated to simplify our lifestyle. Which, for me, means spending less money on junk food, junk clothing, junk toys and junk things in general, and more resources on quality items and experiences. 

It also means digging deep and somehow finding a way to reinvigorate my long lost passion for baking, fermenting, preserving, sourdough bread and seasonal cooking. I’m not sure why I lost my love for making good food (actually, I think I do know why, but that’s a whole separate post), but I’m definitely feeling the pull to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen again.

And because it’s #slowfashionoctober, I’ve been feeling inspired to elevate my wardrobe by spending more thoughtfully on quality pieces, making things by hand, and mending clothes that are damaged or in need of repair rather than throwing them out. And I've been talking about teaching myself to sew for years, but now is the time to follow through with it.

Truthfully, if you've been here before (or to my previous blogspot address, I should say), you know that none of this is new for me. It's just that this time it feels like less of an experiment and more of a way of life that continues to compel me toward it. A way of being that feels more harmonious and healthy. I knew I'd get back to this place in my life eventually, and I'm so glad to be here, sharing my projects, favorite recipes, experiments and experiences with you again.

Fall Knitting and Thanksgiving Traditions

Happy November! We three stayed in for Halloween last night, and watched reruns of The Walking Dead, our favorite spooky show. Life has been super busy lately, so it was nice to stay home, sippin’ tea, listening to the crazy rain and wind outside.

My pillow project is coming along nicely. I’ve made three wool/wool-blend cases so far using yarn from my stash. Mostly just yarn that I purchased back when I first started knitting, like Fishermen’s Wool and Wool Ease, but these are covers that will be used for the pillows on the living room couch, so I know they’ll get a lot of wear and tear as the kid gets older.

What I’d really like to be working on right now is another wool garment or two for Ella. She’s growing out of the little knit dress I made for her while I was pregnant, so it fits more like a tunic these days (which is still really cute, imo). Problem is, and most new moms can attest to this, knitting for a baby when you have a baby (and a part-time job) is almost impossible. I know I’ll have more time for crafting as she gets older, but right now I’m soaking up all the cuddles, and watching her come closer and closer to full mobility. Ack!

Anyway, now that Halloween is over, I’m starting to think about Thanksgiving, which just happens to be my favorite holiday. I love any excuse to gather together with my closest friends and family over delicious food and hot mulled wine.  I know families tend to have slightly different traditions surrounding the holidays, but one that seems to crop up a lot is the tradition of going around the table and saying what you’re thankful for. In the past, I’ve had trouble with this tradition because the things I’m thankful for are typically quite personal to me, but I very much appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the positive things that are happening in life.

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? If so, what are your Thanksgiving traditions?

Autumn Vibes

Autumn, I can't believe you're finally here. I've waited so, so long.

The weather is still warm where I live, but the sun feels different in the sky, even when it's hot. We harvested the last of our tomatoes and peppers from the garden boxes last weekend, and Matt went out to the family plot and brought home tons of pumpkins and acorn squash of all shapes and sizes. I've been roasting, pureeing, and freezing the pumpkin puree to keep as baby food for Ella because, out of all the foods we've given her, pumpkin has been her favorite so far.

Ella and I even managed to curl up together in bed to read a good Gaiman book about graveyards and ghosts, which put me in the mood for Halloween, Harry Potter (especially Prisoners of Azkaban), crunchy leaves and pumpkin-flavored anything. This really is my favorite time of year, and I'm trying to slow down my crazy life so I can take a few moments to enjoy it.

This time last year, I was nearly three months pregnant, and saw my future a little differently than the way my life is now. I had always fully intended on quitting my job and becoming a stay-at-home mom, so it took me by surprise that I would actually want to keep working part time after Ella was born. It was a nice surprise, really, but it never occurred to me to prepare for the fact that I wouldn't have as much time to spend on my favorite hobbies.

My hobbies are really important to me. Knitting, gardening, reading, writing... They help keep me centered and balanced, and make me feel rejuvenated, so you can imagine that it has been hard having enough time to devote to all (or any) of those things. In fact, my anxiety levels have been through the roof this past week, and I suspect that it has to do with how out of balance my life has become lately.

But somehow, with all the crisp autumn vibes surrounding us,  there's a part of me that's saying Slow down! Read a book. Don't go out tonight.

So I'm going to try to listen and embrace my homebody nature for awhile. We'll see what happens.

The Year of the Tomato

We went a little crazy with the food preservation this year. Jams and fruit butters of all kinds, dilly beans, tomatoes (and more tomatoes, and more tomatoes). Our chest freezer is now so full of garden food that we have to stack a box on top to keep the lid down. Lets hope the power never goes out.

Next year, I will definitely plant potatoes. I've been missing those homegrown purple potatoes we grew in our first garden back in 2009. Carrots, too. We forgot to plant carrots this year, and I'm beating myself up about it a little because the babe is now old enough to eat solids, and pureed carrots from the garden would've been perfect.

In any case, there's always next year. We have officially reclaimed some of our tiny backyard from the hens by setting up an outside run, so we'll be able to grow even more food (and flowers!) next year without fear of mass chicken destruction.

How did your garden grow this year? Anything you would do differently next year?

A New Home

Hello everyone! I finally made the move. After blogging for five years with Blogger, I've decided to switch to something a little more user-friendly. I'll still keep all my old posts up as long as possible because there are lots of memories and delicious recipes within the archives, but I won't be posting anything new in that space anymore. 

That said, I look forward to sharing (and updating) my favorite recipes, kitchen experiments, fiber arts-related projects, and all-things home with you here.