Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January: A Month of Knitting Just For Me!


The holidays are over, and life is pretty much back to normal. The decorations are put away, school is back in session, and the gifts you might not have finished have been given or sent on their way.

In other words, it's my favorite knitting time of the year! I can knit for myself with zero guilt. After two scarves, a headband with matching fingerless mitts, a monster, a couple of cup cozies and a Christmas tree ornament, no one will begrudge me making a few fabulous things for myself. Between Christmas and New Year's, I finished the socks that I started the year before (and now will be able to wear next  Christmas), then finished a pair of fingerless mitts I started in November. 

See? It's a thing.
(design by suzemoon on Zazzle)
I always get a severe case of cast-on-itis in January, and that's how "Knitting For Me" month was born.

Selfish knitting is a thing. There are buttons, and even a Ravelry group with over 9,000 members! It's not that I won't or don't want to knit for others, but sometimes you just have to make something nice for yourself.

4 out of the first 5 patterns in my Ravelry queue are for me. This year I'll make that scarf with the madelinetosh that's been in my stash for two-and-a-half years, knit with a lace-weight yarn and beads, and 2015 is going to be my "year of the sweater" (just as soon as I place that SQ order). I've got these lovelies on the needles right now!

Cashmere is nice.
This gorgeous thing
will soon be a cowl.
It's Bloody Cold In Wisconsin.
Perfect for convertible mitts
made from fun sock yarn!












What kinds of things do you like to knit in January? Lots of people cast on socks or blankets to beat the cold, join knit-a-longs or take classes - what about you? I'd love to hear your stories - leave your comments below. And as always, happy (selfish) knitting!


Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year, New Post, New Goals (but no resolutions!)

Calvin and Hobbes comic, originally published 12/31/1989
©
Bill Watterson

New Year's Resolutions. You either love them or you hate them. You make them, break them, sometimes even achieve them, but every year we hear about them. Lose weight. Quit smoking. Join a gym. Don't yell at my kid as much. (good luck with that one) Start a hobby. (I highly recommend knitting!)

Image credit: fit4review.wordpress.com
My son was with his dad on New Year's Eve this year, so I went to my best friend's place to hang out with her and her kids. Had a fun dinner, drank some wine, played board games, watched the ball drop. Good times. But I noticed that over half of the commercials airing during the countdown special were obviously aimed at people who make resolutions - mostly weight loss programs, fitness centers, and dating sites (which actually seemed a little weird to me. Do people resolve to date? I mean, I'm single, but I don't know that I'd make that a resolution. But I digress - to each her own.)

From previous experience, I've learned not to bother making yearly resolutions. I never stick to them anyway, so what's the point? But this year I've decided to make some goals. Goals are always good, right? Yes, I know, a goal is like a resolution, but to me a goal is something that can be worked toward, where a resolution seems more like a rule. And I don't like rules. (What can I say, I'm a rebel.)

Image credit: qu-ot.blogspot.com
I have lots of goals. Healthier life goals, money goals, knitting goals, social goals (hey, introverts need these sometimes). I'm even working on one of my goals right now- blogging more! It's something that I love to do, but I put it off and it falls to the back burner, and gets pushed off more and more until it's been 6 months since my last post. And I don't want to do that.

So, for accountability purposes, here are a few of my goals for 2015:

  • Exercise (even if it's just a little bit). Let's be realistic here - I know I'm not going to join a gym, but get on the elliptical a couple times a week, girl. Park farther away from the door in a parking lot. I know it's winter in Wisconsin and the air hurts your face. Suck it up, buttercup.
  • Get out of the house. Go to knitting group when there's not a PTO meeting. Change out of your comfy pants, go have a couple drinks and sing karaoke on those few kid-free Thursday nights. Even if it's 30+ minutes drive time each way - you know you have fun when you get there. (Also gas prices are really low right now, so take advantage of that!)
  • Knit all the things. Well, all the things that you can make out of the 113 yarns in your Ravelry stash - including enough sock yarn for 18 pairs of socks! (#operationsockdrawer) And make a sweater. You can do it.
  • Play. That little boy is growing up too fast, and one day he won't want to play with his momma anymore. Your heart will hurt a little less when you remember those Lego sets you put together for Christmas and his 6th birthday, and how excited he was the first time he beat you at Connect 4.
  • Do something you love. Every day.

Ultimately, I want all of my goals to lead to a happier life. And I think that's the best goal of all.


Do you have any goals (or resolutions, or whatever you want to call 'em) for 2015? I'd love to hear them - leave a comment!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summertime Knitting (wait, who has time for knitting in summer?)

image ©Planet Purl (original link)

Hi all - so sorry it's been such a long time in between posts again, but summer has been CRAZY around here!

Turkey burgers and hot dogs - yum!
Hope all of my US readers had a fabulous 4th of July weekend. We partied hard, with a cookout and some small fireworks at home on the 4th. I grilled (it was very entertaining!), and we had a family get-together on Saturday.

Sunday we crashed - and I actually got some knitting time in!

I think I've said this before, but I'm not exactly a monogamous knitter - at this moment I have 10 WIPs (work in progress) on my Ravelry project page. In my defense, one of those is a pair of socks that are completely done except the grafting on one toe, and there are three projects "hibernating" until the weather gets cooler again.

my Medano Beach bag
The projects that I'm actively working on are my Bigger on the Inside, Sparkly on the Outside Doctor Who-themed shawl, 2(ish) pairs of socks, and something I just cast on yesterday - a cotton bag for my mom using the Heidi Kirrmaier pattern Medano Beach. I started one of these for myself last year at this time, and it turned out really cute, so she had asked if I'd make one for her. This time I'm using some lovely oranges in Cascade Ultra Pima, so it should be bright and summery!

Bigger on the Inside is a simple lace pattern with an edging of TARDIS(es), which I'll be wearing to the Chicago TARDIS Doctor Who convention later this year. Which brings me back to my point. (There is one, I swear!)

Knitting by the campfire is one
of my goals for the summer!
Many of us vacation during the summer months, too - we're heading up to northern Wisconsin in August, and I'm already thinking about the projects and yarn I want to take. Car knitting, campfire knitting, stuck inside on a rainy day knitting...there are so many possibilities!

Lace and projects using cotton/other plant fiber yarns (linen, hemp, etc.) tend to be pretty popular things to knit in the warmer months, and easily portable things like socks are a good project any time of the year. So what sorts of things do you knit/crochet in the summer or on road trips? What's your favorite warm weather fiber? Any go-to projects that you've made more than once? As always, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Happy summer knitting! ☺

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

And We're Back!

It's been quite a while since my last post, so if you've been anxiously waiting for it (haha), my apologies. It seems that between family, work, and having a social life lately (gasp!) I've barely had time to knit, never mind blog about knitting! But I have a few ideas for some new posts, and I'm hoping to get back to once-a-week updates.


Hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day weekend - ours was pretty busy, but lots of fun!

This is the time of year that I start planning out my summer knitting projects, usually small projects that aren't too hot or heavy. Socks tend to be my go-to summer project, but lots of knitters like to work with cotton/cotton blends or lace work when the weather turns hot.

My Medano Tote Bag
Last year I made this super cute bag, the Medano Beach tote by Heidi Kirrmaier, which I'll be pulling out soon. I decided to line mine to use more as a purse-style bag, but it would also work great unlined for taking to the beach or to your local knit night. 
I currently have 3 pairs of socks on the needles, and I really need to cast on my Brewers socks for our Stitch n' Pitch baseball game next week! (I refuse to have more than 3 pairs of socks going at once, but I'm in the home stretch on a plain vanilla pair.) I found this great skein of Opal yarn about 3 years ago in the perfect colors and I thought it would be a fabulous project for the event. It will be my first time, but this is the 8th annual Stitch n' Pitch hosted by the Milwaukee Brewers. We have a pretty good sized group going this year, and it should be tons of fun. If you're interested, check out your local MLB team's website to see if they participate in this event!

I'm also itching to start my Bigger on the Inside shawl - I figure if I start it this summer I might actually have it done before the Chicago TARDIS Doctor Who Convention in November. 

So what are you planning for summer projects this year? What kinds of fibers do you like to use when it's hot? I'd love to hear from you in the comments - happy summer knitting!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Please Accept Our Apologies...
We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties in the Shop Today

image © BBC
Hello readers, just wanted to update you that we've been experiencing some minor technical difficulties in
the (proverbial) wall shop today. It seems our server is getting lots of spammer attention, so loading times are running slower than usual.

But there's a silver lining! As my apology for the inconvenience, if you're having trouble accessing the shop to place your order, just send a quick email to

shop(at)theproverbialwall(dot)com

and I'll send you a promo code good for 10% off, valid through Friday, April 18th.

Thank you for your understanding!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Warning: Knitting Socks Can Be Highly Addictive

Weeping Angel Socks
(currently on my needles - don't blink!)
Most knitters have three types of friends: friends who knit, friends who tease you about your knitting and call you "Grandma," and the friends who gush over the lovely things you make -- "I wish I could do that!" or "I should learn how to knit!" (And yes, there can be overlap between those last two groups.)

There are also two types of knitters - those who knit socks, and those who don't. If you're in that first group, this post will speak to you. If you're in the second, I hope it will inspire you! ☺

Sock knitting is one of those things that is super intimidating...and then you actually make a sock. Then it's like knitting crack (don't laugh, you know it's true), and you always have at least one pair of socks on the needles. Right now I have two, and I just bought a new sock needle in my preferred size so I can have three. (See what I mean about crack?)

Also, it is a proven fact that sock yarn does not count as stash.
The Doctor approves of your sock-knitting addiction
Which makes my stash really really small. Hahahahaha.

This past weekend I took my cousin (who is a fairly new knitter) to my favorite local yarn shop, and proceeded to get her addicted to crack introduce her to the joy of handknit socks.

Sheepish Yarn BFL Sock Yarn in
the Okauchee Lake colorway, from
Cream City Yarn (Brookfield, WI)
Her birthday is this month, so I supplied her with a good circular needle for magic loop, and a skein of a lovely blue locally dyed sock yarn (photo at left). I also gave her some fabulous seamless stitch markers from the (proverbial) wall shop. (They make great gifts! hint hint)

A few hours, a little bit of math, and a couple of YouTube videos later, and she has the beginning of the toe of her very first sock. It's a wonderful thing to watch - it makes me remember how I felt when I cast on my first sock. (Which, by the way, was only like a year and a half ago - and I've been hooked ever since!)

While I do occasionally knit on double-pointed needles (DPNs), I prefer to knit my socks one-at-a-time using the magic loop technique. And although my first few pairs were done two-at-a-time, I'm immune to second sock syndrome (so far).

For those of you who are sock novices, second sock syndrome (known as SSS) is when you finish a really lovely sock...and then you have no desire to cast on its mate. Not good, which is why many knitters like to make their socks two-at-a-time (TAAT) - either using magic loop or the 2 circular needles technique. I've learned that as long as I take good notes for my Ravelry project page, I don't mind doing them one-at-a-time.

So, any sock knitters out there? What are your favorite techniques/yarns/needles/patterns for socks? Do you use DPNs or circulars, prefer toe-up or top-down construction, what heel do you like? If you haven't attempted a pair of socks yet, what's holding you back? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Happy sock knitting!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bring Me Knitting!
(or why knitters love Doctor Who)

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Prequel 'The Night of the Doctor'
 featuring Eighth Doctor Paul McGann

yes, that scarf
(image ©BBC)
If you do a pattern search on Ravelry for "Doctor Who," you'll get 347 results, which is about 8 pages. Okay, no big deal. Of course there's the infamous Fourth Doctor Tom Baker's scarf in about 36 incarnations, but you'll also see Doctors and Daleks and TARDIS...es... (seriously how has no one come up with a plural for TARDIS? But I digress), a star whale, sonic screwdrivers, and the cutest little crocheted
K-9
 you ever did see. There's a celery stalk, an Adipose baby, and even a fez or two.

But do that same search for projects... and oh sweet Rasillon! 12,068 knitting, crochet, and weaving projects at the time this post was published.

Conclusion?  Knitters ♥ ♥ Doctor Who! 
(see what I did there)

I admit to knitting my fair share of Doctor Who projects (check out the bottom of the page), and I've only been watching Doctor Who for less than 2 years. I still have several in my Ravelry queue, as well. Rose Tyler's fingerless mitts on Bad Wolf Bay, anyone? Found the perfect yarn for those. TARDIS socks (actually, TARDIS everythings), toys, dishcloths, hats...if you can think of it, there's probably a Doctor Who version of it.

Even non-knitters love Who-knitwear! Fun story: the TARDIS fingerless mitts I wore to the Chicago TARDIS fan convention last year were admired by many, including Daphne Ashbrook! (To my non-Whovian readers, Daphne played the Eight Doctor's companion Grace in the 1996 television movie.) Who, by the way, asked me if I'd make her a pair. Which I will be doing before the weather gets cold again. Because, who wouldn't knit a gift for Daphne? She is a lovely person.

So the question is... why do Doctor Who fans love to knit? Or rather, why do knitters so love the Doctor? Do you have any theories? Doctor Who-related knitting stories? I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Matt Smith in 'The Wedding of River Song' ©BBC
(original image edit)

Oh, and one more thing - today is the fourth anniversary of Matt Smith's first full episode as the Eleventh Doctor, so Happy Anniversary, Whovians!

~

Mittens for my mini-Whovian
Fingerless Mitts in TARDIS
and 2 different Dalek versions



Monday, March 31, 2014

What Are You DOING?
(also known as knitting in public)

"What are you doing/making/knitting/crocheting?"

I knit in public regularly, and if your experiences are anything like mine, you are asked some version of this question 9 out of ten times when you're out knitting. Why are people so fascinated  by us? 
(Button designed by Tara Suprenant,
and available on Cafe Press)
You could just flash this button (kidding, I know you'd never say that to a stranger who was bugging you while you're working on that lovely charted lace pattern......) Hilarious, but I do try to not be rude when promoting our craft. 

My age still seems to surprise people. Evidently since I am not a grandmother, it's weird that I knit. Yep, that stereotype still exists. It's getting better, but it's still there. My favorite is when teenage girls ask me what I'm doing. (Yes! Future victims knitters!) I can usually get them to agree that knitting is cool, especially when I show them the cowl/fingerless mitts/other trendy project I'm working on.

"Ă–ren Bayan" (Knitting Woman),
an old thread brand in Turkey.
(original logo)
But...where to knit?

My knitting in public place of choice is usually Starbucks. Mostly because:
(1) I'm a coffee addict,
(2) I have a gold card - yay for free stuff! and
(3) people hang out in Starbucks all bloody day and nobody thinks that's weird.

Local coffee shops are also great (support local when you can!) A member of the weekly group I started (that meets at, ahem, a Starbucks) is also in another group that meets at one of the trendy east-side Milwaukee locations of Colectivo, a local coffee roasting company (you might have heard of them, they were known formerly as Alterra). A few of my knitting group decided to check it out the other day, and this place is amazing. I'm looking forward to knitting there more often, especially as the weather starts to get nicer - they have a lovely patio.

My knitting in public projects tend to be simple things like socks, scarves, fingerless mitts - something I don't have to think about very much. Some of my friends are braver than I, tackling shawls, blankets, and some of them even spin! So, my lovely readers, where do you like to knit in public? What are your favorite knitting-in-public projects? Have any fun stories to share? I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments, and look for a future blog sharing the best ones!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jumping In With Both Feet
(whilst wearing handknit socks)

Hello, and welcome to the (proverbial) wall... a blog about the life of a crafty, nerdy, slightly crazy momma who loves a good book, great television, coffee and tea - and who knits through it all!

I suppose I should explain my blog title. You've probably heard the expression "the writing is on the wall" or "I should have seen the writing on the wall." This is generally regarded as a negative statement, but I recently came across a quote that really speaks to me.

"If your back is up against the wall, turn around and write on it." 
-author unknown

This thought is at the heart of the idea and purpose of this blog - my proverbial wall to write on. Hopefully it will be cathartic for me, and something that you will want to continue reading! This first post serves as a bit of an introduction - to me, and what I'll be blogging about. 

me and my little man
First off, I'm Alex's mom - I have a 5 year old son. I'm a single mom, which is equal parts frustration and adventure, but he is the light of my life and the reason I wake up every morning. (Some days grudgingly and with a fair amount of coffee, but up.) 

I was nerdy before it was cool. Dork. Geek. Nerd. Whatever you want to call it, that's me.


I was the slightly chunky, glasses-wearing, horribly unstylish, unpopular girl in high school...sang in the choir, did theatre, and was the editor of my senior yearbook. One time while photographing a football game I got run over by a receiver as he ran out of bounds. Ah, the good old days. (Yes, I got the shot.)

Now, I embrace the geek. I'm a Whovian and an anglophile, I love gadgets (a dedicated Apple fangirl), and I knit - a nerd trifecta! I love to read, I tend toward marathon television sessions, and a good cup of coffee or cuppa tea can make my day. You'll find me at a local Starbucks a minimum of 2-3 days a week. I'm a social network junkie and I work in e-commerce (customer service and sales), so I'm probably on my computer more hours a day than I sleep.

Ryan Gosling understands me
Knitting. I've mentioned it a couple of times now, and what's on my needles will play a central role in my blog. I knit a lot. I knit while I watch tv, I knit while I listen to music (and podcasts! I'll be linking to some of my favorites). I knit at coffee shops and out in public, at swimming lessons, in waiting rooms, sometimes I even knit at my local yarn shop!

yep, handknit socks
I'll link to my works-in-progress and patterns I love, and do check out my "on the needles" page, which will be updated (hopefully) every month. Please find me on Ravelry! (All my social network links are in the sidebar area.) If you're also on Twitter, I co-moderate a lovely Rav group called the Sheep Tweeps, and we tweet (and sometimes gripe) about the crafts we love using the very unofficial hashtag #sheeptweeps. Oh, and the handknit sock bit in the title? Yeah, that's a thing.

As you can tell, I have tons of free time, so I've decided that I'm going to sell stuff here too. In addition to knitting (and the occasional crochet project), I make project bags and stitch markers. You can check out my shop page for my latest creations to purchase - inventory constantly changes, so come back often!

I'm also going to be linking to other bloggers I love - if you're interested in being included, let me know, and I'd love it if you'd link back to me. Please drop me an email or leave a comment if you'd like to hear about a certain topic, and your feedback is always appreciated!

Hope you enjoy,
Jill