Alas, I AM still knitting.

IMG_0322 IMG_0046 IMG_0187 My hobbies (knitting, writing, reading, running) vie for my attention always.  Unfortunately, they don’t just compete with one another, but also contend with my demanding work and school responsibilities.  What I am getting at here is that I am busy, like everyone else, and this blog often gets the shaft.

If you’re a follower, you may wonder if I even still knit!  Well, here are some pictures that prove that I do still indeed knit (but that I haven’t make time to write about it).

The first picture is my very first pair of socks!  They came out a bit bigger than I like, so I am considering needle felting the inside so they serve more as slipper-socks.  Otherwise, they are wonderful, and I am ready to make another pair!

The second picture is my nephew’s Christmas present, which I love!  Unfortunately, he is not a big fan of the orange.  :(  Sweet thing though – he will wear it when he comes to visit his Aunt Quinn.

The third and fourth pictures are of two familiar faces with their Christmas dresses on!  These took me FOREVER.  I seriously spent two full weekends knitting and watching 30 Rock to finish these sweet outfits.  Even still, I was knitting under a blanket while watching a movie with Miss Adorable and up until 5 AM on IMG_0115Christmas Eve finishing up.  They loved the ruffles and had fun spinning in them, so it was all worth it!!

The fifth picture is shows one of the MANY beer/coffee/whatever beverage you want to hold in the cold mittens.  My cousin at Draw Four Designs and I made them custom for family members to use during our outdoor Thanksgiving events in Minnesota.  They are silly, fun, and warm – just like my family!

Photo on 11-3-13 at 9.24 PMFinally – the bracelets!  My youngest niece and my sister-in-law have February birthdays, so I sent them these little somethings with my mom and dad who are there to visit.  I couldn’t leave Miss Adorable out in good conscience, so I quickly knit her one too!

IMG_0332Be on the lookout for the following projects to come:  Hunger Games Cowl, my first sweater, beautiful red pillow, a double hued scarf for a dear friend, and my latest Vintage KC project!

Elephante

Once upon a late-night high school shenanigan, my friend Deidre and I discovered an abandoned childhood game: Elefun!  The game consists of an elephant who blows butterflies out of his trunk (naturally) for all the boys and girls to catch!

Though my sisters were still young(ish) and may have searched for the game on subsequent Saturdays, we decided that it was time to send it off to its retirement.  The scheme was laid out, an outlandish poem about a magical “elefante” written, and we giggled all the way to a randomly chosen classmate’s house (the “random” choice might have had something to do with how good-looking said classmate was).  We placed it in his yard, inflated his trunk, so the “heavenly butterflies” could rise up to his bedroom window, and left the poem for him to read with perplexity the next morn.  It was ridiculous.  And, to seventeen year old girls – hilarious.

Fast-forward 10 years (hard to believe).  Deidre now lives with her husband in London, and they are expecting their first child!  She is quite possibly the CUTEST pregnant woman EVER.  Do those cutest baby photo contests start in utero?  Because she would win, hands down.  I was fortunate enough to visit with her last weekend at her baby shower, and gift her with an homage to our dear old friend.

IMG_0979IMG_0981This might be my favorite stuffed animal that I have made.  I used a pattern from Zoe Mellor’s Knitted Toys.  He is made from some leftover cotton (not sure what brand), buttons for the eyes, and some denim patches (meant for jeans) for his flappy ears.  Of course, he is stuffed with fluff, and I used embroidery floss to frame his ears.

I can only hope that this toy provides as much entertainment as the elephant that inspired it.  Congrats, Tom and Deidre!  You will be AWESOME parents.  Much love.

Vintage KC Tea Towel

I have been asked to contribute to the coolest magazine out of Kansas City again!  It is an honor every time.  This time, I was asked to decorate a tea towel along with 5 other bloggers.  Read the electronic issue here:  Vintage KC Fall 2013.  Did I mention it is the coolest magazine in Kansas City?

I bounced around a lot of ideas for my tea towel before I finalized my design.  For a while I was arranging knitted bows of varying colors and sizes on the towel, with little satisfaction.  What I was sure about was that I wanted a cable strip to line the bottom edge, so I set my bows aside and sewed on the grey strip.  I loved it so much that I decided to just continue making strips with different textures to arrange on the towel.

tt2 copy 2It was a simple process, but a time-consuming one.  I knitted the strips, and arranged them as I went.  I pinned them down with safety pins, and hand sewed them.  If you want to make your own, you can choose your own patterns for texture, but I will include the patterns that I used below.  Have fun!

Vertical Strip in Olive Green (which I think looks like an owl but is called “Ring of Fire”):

CO 12 sts.

Rows 1, 3, 17, 19, 21, and 23: (RS) K3, (p1, k1) twice, p1, k4

Rows 2, 4, 16, 18, 20, and 22: (WS) P3, (k1, p1) twice, k1 p4

Rows 5: 6-st. RCP, 6-st. LCK

Rows 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14: k1, p1, k1, p7, k1, kp

Rows 7, 9, 11, and 13: p1, k1, p1, k7, p1, k1

Row 15: 6-st LCP, 6-st. RCK

Row 24: Rep. row 2

Repeat to desired length.

CODE:

6-st RCP: Sl 3 sts. to cable needle (cn) and hold to back.  p1, k1, p1, k3 from cn

6-st LCP: Sl 3 sts to cn and hold to front, k3, p1, k1, p1 from cn

6-st RCK: Sl 3 sts to cn and hold to back, k1, p1, k1, k3 from cn

6-st LCK: Sl 3 sts to cn and hold to front, k3, k1, p1, k1 from cn

*It is SUPER helpful to use this chart when knitting this one: Olive Green Chart

Horizontal Grey Strip (on bottom edge):

This one is a super easy cable knit:

CO 8 sts

Rows 1 and 3 (RS): p1, k6, p1

Rows 2 and 4 (WS): k1, p6, k1

Row 5 (RS): p1, sl 3 sts onto cn, hold in front, k3, k3 from cn, p1

Rows 6 and 8 (WS): k1, p6, k1

Rows 7 and 9 (RS): p1, k6, p1

Row 10: p1, sl 3 sts onto cn, hold in back, k3, k3 from cn, p1

Repeat to desired length

*Horizontal Brown Strip is virtually the same, except there are fewer sts.  It is knit across 4 sts.  There are no purls on the sides of the cable.  Sl 2 sts. off instead of 3.

Horizontal Blue Strip (so much cooler in real life):

This one is so much easier to do with a chart, so download this spreadsheet: ktog-blue

Horizontal Turquoise Strip:

This one is simple!  It looks interesting because it is knit from yarn that varies in thickness.

CO 5

Rows 1 and 3 (RS): K all

Rows 2 and 4 (WS): P all

Rows 5 and 7 (RS): P all

Rows 6 and 8 (WS): K all

Repeat to desired length

Vertical Grey Strip:

CO 8 sts.

Row 1 (RS): k5, 3-st RC

Row 2 (and all WS rows): Purl

Row 3: k4, 3-st RC, k1

Row 5: k3, 3-st RC, k2

Row 7: k2, 3-st RC, k4

Row 9: k1, 3-st RC, k4

Row 11: 3-st RC, k5

Row 13: 2-st RC, k6

Row 14: Purl

Repeat to desired length.

Here’s a helpful chart: Vertical Grey Chart

Pastimes

Sometimes passions are handed down explicitly, like a mother teaching her son or daughter to sew, scrapbook, paint, read, or play the piano.  Technique is detailed, demonstrated, and practiced.  Other times it seems like it just catches.  Like when my niece exclaims, “I love to run!” at the playground, during the months that her mother trains for the marathon she completed this past weekend (congrats, Megan!).

Either way, there is something transcendent about sharing a pursuit or a pastime with someone you love.  Common quests can serve as conduits to a deep understanding of another person’s motivations, struggles, and pleasures, or create mutually edifying competition (i.e. training beyond the call of duty for a triathlon just to avoid your 50-year-old mother from crossing the finish line first/her celebratory screams as she passes me on her souped-up bicycle).  More poignant, they offer a connection to people who are more or less inaccessible.  This is true with my cousin who is an even more avid knitter than me, but who lives 500 miles north of KC.  We can’t get together on Saturdays and knit, but we can comment on each other’s blogs (Draw Four Designs) and collect a basket full of projects to show one another at family reunions.

Knitting Group

My grandmother’s knitting group. She is on the upper left in the red, white, and beige sweater.

Even more distant is my Grandma Jeanne, who passed away when I was fourteen.  I often cover up in the blanket she crocheted me while I spend afternoons in my knitting chair with her old knitting needles.  I think of her and attempt to “catch” whatever lingers of her motivations, struggles, and pleasures.

Assessment Time for USD Ktog

Who is most closely associated with knitting?Exam

A. Hipsters

B. Middle school boys

C. Elderly Women

D. Harley Davidson Bikers

These sample answer items do not stray far from the typical multiple choice questions that my students will soon encounter on their state assessments – one throw away option (D), one distractor (A), and the answer is (predictably) C.  But to every rule there is an exception!

My perceptions were schooled this past semester with the amount of B who have voluntarily associated themselves with knitting.  That’s right – junior high boys showed up… and have stuck around… to my newly inaugurated club – Knit Wits!  Probably most are after some girl who also comes, and I know that some of my students just look for any excuse to stay after school, but the fact remains: they are knitting!  I have seen boys who couldn’t sit still in the classroom if their lives depended on it relax and learn to make a bookmark!  Amazing.  Maybe the calm I experience while knitting is universal.

Stay tuned for more adventures of my little Knit Wits.

Leibster Award

My wonderful friend down at Kansas Gal has awarded me the Liebster Award!  Don’t know what the heck that is?  I didn’t either.  Here’s the low-down:

The Liebster is awardUntitled 2ed to new blogs with less than 200 followers as a way to get the word out.  For me, it is has served as a catalyst for me to get blogging again!  I have had to put almost everything on the back-burner this first year of teaching (yay!).  But I am feeling better about my time management lately and getting faster at general tasks, so hopefully blogging is added to my list of to do’s again soon!

I award some of my favorite blogs and they do the following:
  1. Post 11 random facts about themselves
  2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 new questions for bloggers you pass the award to
  3. Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) and pass the award (and link) to them in your post.
  4. Go to their page and them them about the award
  5. No tag backs

The blogs that I am awarding are:

Amid Shipps

Forward Motion

My Latest Excuse

Snapshots

Draw Four Designs

Here are my random facts and answers to Kansas Gal’s questions if you’re interested:

My 11 Random Facts:

  • I am a vegetarian and I am not supposed to eat dairy products… I do probably every other week, and I pay for it.  My discipline ebbs and flows when it comes to cheese, but meat never tempts me!
  • I am really good at Ms. Pac Man.  I accept your challenge.
  • The game Settlers of Catan is a part of almost every one of my weekends.
  • I have participated in two triathlons with my mother (who is 51!).
  • I love to swim, bike, and run (is that the same as the previous one, oh well!).
  • I am going to start training for a marathon this summer.
  • I bring up the “deep stuff.”  I really like discussion and debate about important and intriguing topics!
  • Books make the best friends – I had a bookmark that said that when I was little.  I still agree with it.
  • I have really cold toes.  And fingers.  Probably need to get my circulation checked.
  • I have begrudgingly begun to like football.  Ugh.  Thanks a lot, Matt.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with Breaking Bad.  But mostly love.

Bloggers, here are your questions!

What is your favorite movie of all time?


Oh boy, my first instinct is to say Monte Python and the Holy Grail.  It carries some great memories. But, really I would have to say The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.  Never heard of it?  Netflix it now.  It is amazing.   Beautiful music, cinematography, and intriguing characters and story.
What are you most proud of and why?
I guess I am most proud of my profession: I am a special education teacher.  It is a challenging and rewarding job that I would say I am proud of.  The knit I am most proud of is my green hat.  I will post pictures soon.

If you had a whole day without any commitments and could do anything, what would you do or how would you spend your day?

Are you offering this?  Because this sounds beautiful.  :)  I would go to a coffee shop or set up a comfortable spot in my living room and spend the day reading, writing, and knitting.  Maybe that’s lame, but days without commitments are few and far between, and I relish the time that I can spend time alone doing the things that I love!

If you could time travel, what time period would you visit and where?

I don’t know… that is a hard one.  I really think that it would be neat to travel back in time to meet my grandma when she was my age.
What is your favorite dessert?

Okay!  So, my husband and I went to Target about a month ago to get candy to sneak into the movie theaters (shh), and I picked up this brand called “Unjunked” (no artificial coloring, real sugar, etc) with the sole intention of making fun of it.  “Who sees this and thinks that they’re making a good choice?  Do they think people are that stupid?”  But it was cheaper than the other candies, and I was more curious than I let on, so I bought them.  And, well, they were phenomenal!  They have ones that are similar to Reese’s and M&M’s, but WAY better.  They’re really rich, so you feel like you can’t eat them all (although I did).  So, yeah… they’ve become my favorite.
Would you prefer to spend your spare time with people or by yourself?

By myself.🙂 I love spending time with family and friends, but that time is almost always secondary to the time that I need to spend by myself.  I am a true introvert and get depressed if I don’t have enough time to myself.

Why did you start blogging?

I have always loved to write, but I struggle not to feel absolutely audacious when I think that anyone would really care to read anything that I have to say.  I would really like to have a blog where I write about other things, but knitting is easy and one of my passions, so this is a sort of “first step.”  A first step that I realize I am neglecting…

Did you make a new years resolution? If so, what was it and why? If not, why?

I did!  I don’t always, but I did this year because after some conversations with my super-informed and intelligent brother, it was impressed upon me that I need to seek a more in-depth understanding of what is going on in the world.  So I set a resolution to read the New York Times everyday… of course not the whole freaking newspaper, but at least a few articles a day.  It has proved to be one of the best resolutions that I have made.  I’ve got it on my Kindle, I download it everyday, and read it during lunch and before bed!

How many blogs do you read regularly?

I have to be honest and say that I do not read any blog regularly.  I catch up with my friends’ blogs every now and again when they pop up on my Facebook feed, but I am not even subscribed to any blogs.  I need to change this.

If you were to design a music festival with only five artists, who would you invite?

Oooooooo!  Fun question!  They wouldn’t fit together very well, I don’t think, but I would like it: Paul Simon (staple of my childhood), Arcade Fire (one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen), The Cults (new jam), Neko Case (I wish I was her), and Alison Krauss (I also wish I was her… and could play the violin).

What is your favorite book and why?

This is a really difficult one to answer – it always has been.  In high school I would have settled on The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.   In college I would have said A Good Man Is Hard Find by Flannery O’Connor, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, or Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. Now I’d say East of Eden by John Steinbeck, or Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro.  But I really can’t pick one over the others, and could add two or three… or ten… to the list.

Vintage KC

Today my friend at Amid Shipps is unveiling the Fall issue of Kansas City’s newest magazine, Vintage KC.  Inside you will find fun DIY projects, the inside scoop on Kansas City’s cutest vintage boutiques, and a little tutorial and article by me!  You can find it here.

One of my contributions is a tutorial on transforming an old sweater from Goodwill into some cute fingerless gloves.  Here is the pattern if you would like to recreate the look: Fingerless Gloves Pattern.

If you are visiting my blog after reading my article, check out my other projects and share your knitting adventures with me!
Happy knitting!

Baby Sister Slippers

My baby sister (who is 22) spent six months in Finland this past school year, and learned a new tradition almost immediately: when indoors, it is expected that you take your shoes off and replace them with slippers. This wasn’t completely unfamiliar to her, as we were never allowed anything but brand new, “never-been-worn” shoes in the house we shared at one time. Still, when we visit our parents, this rule is enforced, usually by our nephew (for a visual: Every Boy a Dinosaur). He points to our shoes disapprovingly and says, “Mimi doesn’t like that…”But the second part of the custom – the slippers – are not a part of our household culture. Instead we tend to walk around barefoot, stubbing our toes around each corner. Slippers are a nice addition – something we should consider.  Lucky for Baby Sister, I sent her on her way with the perfect pair of hand-made slippers to wear in her dorm room and the abode of a new friend.

I honestly don’t remember the name of the yarn that I used, but I do remember that it was made from the very first skeins of yarn that I ever purchased. In fact, it was supposed to be knit into a scarf, but my first attempts were sub-par, ugly, unwearable. I bought it at Michael’s and it is acrylic. I found the pattern in the magazine Knits Weekend, put out by Interweave. It was designed by Amy Palmer, who gave me quite the challenge (I had to frog it several times and start over). But, as it goes, it was one of the more satisfying projects to complete.

You can’t really tell in the pictures, but it has this luscious, soft fuzz inside created by needlefelting: an added detail that kept Baby Sister warm and cozy and, hopefully, feeling at home.

Book is to E-reader What Baby is to “Newchild”

To those of you who enjoy my blog: sorry about the lapse. My life has been consumed lately as I wade through the flooded market, looking for a teaching job. And, of course, work my two current jobs, train for a triathlon, and, these past two weeks, teach summer school at a charter that I am attempting to woo. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. My dad forced me to eat all that I dished on my plate, which left no room for dessert. In this metaphor, knitting is my dessert. Blogging about it is the fudge drizzled on my brownie.

Yes, I am nearly 28 and looking for my first job teaching middle school or high school English. This is the road that my love for literature, writing, education, and children has finally led me. This list of interests may seem like one of those connect-the-dots that are painstakingly obvious even without the numbers as a guide.  Forgive my wandering young adulthood; I never was very good at seeing the forest for the trees.

What is that you ask? What does this have to do with knitting? Well… um, I guess I’m attempting to establish my intimate relationship with books so that I can then tell you about my initial resistance to electronic readers, what finally convinced me to join the 21st century, and, finally, about the creation of my eventual house warming gift to my Kindle: a lovely, orange embrace. Sorry. The connection is more of a bridge than a fork in the road. Don’t look down at the river. We’ll both feel better that way. Instead, look at the Kindle cover!

Anyway – books. They are my comfort objects.  If I could cuddle with them without judgment, I would. Come to think of it, many books migrate from their spot on my bookshelf to up above me (on a shelf) and beside me (on my nightstand) as I sleep. I suppose I hope for a Chicken Little kind of transmission of information someday. I not only love their content, but their physical presence in my home, in my hands, in my memory. There is nothing like seeing the cover of a long-lost book again. I suppress a squeal, call it by name, and gush, gush, gush.

So when these new-fangled e-readers entered the bookstores off the assembly line, covered in bubble wrap, I barfed. Not really, but I said I was going to several times. I judged the e-owners and was convinced they were not reading, but playing Farmville.

But then something terrible happened: people I respected started buying these things. And I was forced to hold several of them in my puritanical hands as they tried to convince me that the devices would not be the end of all things good. I resisted. I ranted. I ralphed. Again – hyperbole.

And then my friend, Sam, had to go and say something ingenius, “You don’t have to give up your books, Quinn. It’s just a different medium with added features.”

This, along with the knowledge that many of the books that I wanted were free to download (yay for expired copyrights!), and a Christmas bonus the same amount as the cost of a Kindle, persuaded me to give it a try.

And… it convinced me. Sam was right – I did not have to give up my books. Along with my bookshelf, I now have a portable library. If I tire of a book, there are several other choices at my fingertips. If a conversation warrants some wisdom from a book I read two months ago, it’s there with the book I am reading now. If I finish the first book of the Hunger Games series and need to indulge my seventh grade self further, I can expand my library with just a few clicks. Also, who among us lugs a dictionary around everywhere we go? Well, I do now! Not only does the Kindle come with a dictionary, but all you have to do to look up a word is move the cursor in front of the word you need defined! Also, it is much easier to read in bed and at the gym. I don’t have to hold open a book, just push a button. Beautiful.

No, I do not work for Amazon.

I still prefer to own a tangible book and feel a bit uncomfortable being seen reading a screen (do they think I burnt all my books?).  When I cuddle up in my reading chair with bound paper, I feel less like Mildred Montag (R.I.P. Mr. Bradbury). I am more inspired to read and connect with a book when it has a cover and a bookmark, a picture of the author, and waterstains. And, practically, it is still easier to peruse, find a spot, and reread a portion when you can sift through pages.

A comparison came to me yesterday when I had my fifth graders analyze language in The Giver: school is “learning community,” stuffed animal is “comfort object,” family is “family unit,” recess is “recreational period.” My students recognized the sterility and technicality in Lowry’s word choice that conveys a cold, sterile, emotionally-stunted society (okay, so maybe I had to put some words in their mouths, but they got there).  They then drew pictures of their homes and relabeled things in a Lowryian manner.  And I thought of my reading device.

Book is to e-reader what baby is to “newchild.”  So I wrapped the sterile looking e-reader in a homemade case of my favorite color. And that helped a little.

Spring Kerchief – Pattern

This is my first attempt at this, so hopefully it all works and my kerchief can be fruitful and multiply! 

Let me know if there are any problems.  I want your feedback.  The directions are hand-written, which I hope is fun and not distracting! 

Click here to download pattern – Spring Kerchief (and then click on it again).

Happy knitting!!

err: Line two should read “k2” at the end instead of “k5.”  Sorry!!  I will fix this on the link ASAP.