Category: Real Life (Page 1 of 26)

Socks and some Progress

My hands have been too sore and swollen lately to do much gaming (or blogging) but I’ve still been trying to get some knitting in here and there. After four days I’ve got the cuff and leg done, and I started the heel flap. I have a few more rounds to do on the heel flap and then I will turn the heel and start the gusset. Then it’s onto the foot, and toe, and done!

Socks are a nice quick knit, relaxing once you know what works for your foot size and are confident with the pattern. I still have goals though. I want to learn TAAT (two at a time) to try to prevent second sock syndrome, and I want to learn the fish lips heel which I bought off of ravelry for $1 ages ago and have just been too intimidated to learn. The booklet that comes with it is huge, though a lot of that is back story and not about the actual pattern. I want to learn it properly, so I want to follow the directions which include making a cardboard version of your foot with markings so you know what is going on. I’ll get to that eventually, I hope.

I find it satisfying to wear socks that I’ve knit, not to mention their comfort and durability if you take care of them. I know I’ve mentioned in other posts that they’re some of my favourite things to knit for multiple reasons. After I made my last post I actually ended up ruining my favourite pair of socks by having them go through the dryer. They shrunk to a children’s sized sock, and felted so badly that there was no longer any lace work. I don’t have enough of the yarn to knit another pair, and it has been discontinued, so you can imagine my pain. It’s a harsh reminder that knit articles of clothing should be hand washed and hung to dry in order to keep them optimal.

After this pair of socks I’m currently working on I’ve got another pattern lined up – kitty cat socks. I’m eager to see how those ones go. I think I’ll try knitting them TAAT so I can stave off that second sock syndrome (where you get bored after knitting one of them). Plus it would be nice to finish an entire pair at a time instead of having to knit one and then start a second one. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Happy knitting!

Why Knit Socks?

I’m a completely self taught knitter of 2 years now, picking up what I know from various YouTube videos and Craftsy classes. One of my goals from the start was to learn to knit socks, and I attempted that 3 months into my knitting adventure. They weren’t perfect, I had to re-do the toes numerous times, but I was so proud of them.

Knitting socks quickly became my preferred project. I absolutely love it. They’re small enough to take along with me in my purse where ever I go and living up in Northern Canada like I do, they’re functional and required.

Socks may seem intimidating, but once you learn the parts to a sock you gain an understanding of how simple they are. Since they’re also sized to your own feet (or the feet of your recipient) they’re also going to be the most comfortable socks you’ve ever worn – as long as you take care of them they’ll last years that way, too.

Taking care of hand knit socks is a bit of a pain. You’re best off hand washing them and hanging them to dry, don’t put them in the dryer or they may shrink and the size may change or they may felt. There are superwash types of yarn you can use to help prevent this, but my suggestion is still to hand wash and take care of these precious knitted garments. You’ll also want them stored properly so bugs don’t eat them, nothing worse than finding moths gnawing away at your most comfortable pair! I keep mine in a wooden box along with some lavender in a satchel.

I’ve knit four pairs of socks for myself so far, along with a pair of my son (who promptly outgrew them) – and I have every intention of knitting a pair for my more than deserving husband, though I admit I have been lax on this. Socks are a fairly quick knit depending on the time you can dedicate to them – one more reason I love these projects, if you’re the type that thrives on instant gratification, I simply can’t suggest trying to learn them enough.

Once you get over the initial complexities you realize that every single sock is made exactly the same, with a few variations here and there – but the sock parts remain constant. This allows you to branch out from creating very basic socks to more complex socks like the lace one I’ve knit above (hard to see the holes from the lace work in that picture, but they’re there)! You can switch up the heels, the toes, the leg, and create so many different types of combinations. You’re sure to find a pair that suit your creative mood.

Socks. That’s what I am happiest knitting. What about you? Let me know in comments, and happy knitting!

The Sad State of my Knitting

Here it is, part way through April, and I have completed a total of ONE knitting project in 2018, and that was actually started in November 2017 and finished January. One. Even in 2017 I managed 11 projects, and that was a crazy busy year doing solo parenting for six months of it. So what happened?

The move took a lot more out of me than I thought it would, especially since I was sick for two months straight. Being pregnant with my second child is taking its toll, and running after a toddler for most of the day. My fingers (and legs) have been so swollen that even typing on the keyboard brings discomfort, let alone manipulating knitting needles or crochet hooks.

The real reason though is that I just haven’t found any motivation or inspiration. I have all of this lovely yarn, and no idea what I want to knit. I was thinking of crocheting a beautiful blanket for Nug (baby #2) and got frustrated because even the most simple of crochet patterns appear to be over my head. I wish I picked it up as easily as I picked up knitting. For some reason I just can’t and it bothers me. I thought about working on some socks, quick simple knits that don’t require a whole lot of attention especially since I’ve knit quite a few pairs of socks but again, lack of motivation. I did end up knitting a few extra cotton dish cloths but I couldn’t even be bothered with updating my Ravelry project page with them.

I’m hoping my knitting mojo comes back soon. I have such beautiful yarns just waiting to be turned into something fancy. It’s still really cold (below freezing) where we live now, so it’s not a matter of warmer weather making me change my interest in knitting. It’s just a … melancholy type of mood that I just can’t figure out. Here’s hoping my needles see some action soon.

2018 Ravelry Challenge

This year Ravelry has added a “challenge” section to their project page, where you can sign up for a number of projects you want to complete in a year, and then add them to your queue, assigning them a completion date of sometime in 2018. This year I added a few things to my challenge, trying to be lenient on myself due to life more than likely getting in the way.

I’ve seen a lot of people knit the rose city rollers and I am hoping they don’t take very much time. I’m determined to FINALLY learn the fish lips kiss heel that I purchased two years ago and have never managed to actually knit, and I want to get those sock scraps used up by starting a memory blanket.

Will I actually complete any of these projects? Who knows, it’s nice to have them organized and planned out though.

Meal Prep Sunday – Keto Edition

I’ve stalled out a bit with my weight loss, sitting at 191 (down from 248) and I still hope to get to 180 by January 29th so to kick start things I decided I’d try going back to keto temporarily. It’s usually a great way to get my body used to eating smaller meals, craving less carbs, and being nice and full from healthy fats.

Keto is not always the cheapest way for me to make and eat meals though, and I’m on a pretty strict budget so I had to come up with a meal plan that works for me for the week, and that sticks to my budget. Thankfully I have some ground beef and tuna so I don’t have to make a purchase there.

  • Breakfast: bacon & eggs. Add some hot sauce to spice up the eggs and I’ll be set.
  • Lunch: spicy salami stuffed with cream cheese, and tomato tuna bites. Basically you slice up a tomato, top it with tuna (a bit of mayo, salt, pepper), cover it with some cheese and pop it into the oven until it’s a melted mess. Sort of like an open face sandwich but without all the bread.
  • Dinner: spicy meatballs with a sauce, and cauliflower buffalo bites. Another really easy recipe. Simple meatballs cooked in a muffin tin with a tiny bit of sauce, and cheese melted over top. The cauliflower is just tossed with some melted butter and some hot sauce then baked.
  • Snacks: pickles and olives. You’ve gotta be a fan of these for it to work, but they work for me.

A simple week of foods that don’t have too much cooking. The total cost comes to about $40 CAD, with the most expensive item being the package of bacon – I plan on getting the good thick cut stuff. I wanted a break from chicken, I’ll probably go back to that staple next week.

We’ll see if this helps to kick start my weight loss again. In the past it has done wonders but we’ll have to see. I can’t do keto long term, it’s just not something I can ever stick with, but I do like how full I feel while on it and it does help me get back to eating smaller meals instead of trying to fill my plate with all the things.

Choosing a Pattern [Indie Design Gift-a-long]

I spent most of my free time yesterday evening on Ravelry, looking through the 300+ designers who are participating this year in the indie design gift-a-long and hunting for the perfect sock pattern. Eventually I stumbled onto ‘Forest Canopy Socks‘ by Cynthia Levy, a [pattern that looked beautiful due to the lace and ribbing, but not too complicated so that it would be beyond my skills. I’ve only been knitting for two years, and this sock really has a nice wow factor without being something that I think would confuse me too much.

I purchased the pattern using the indie design gift-a-long code (25% off!) and took a look at the pattern before bed. One thing that really impressed me and confirmed that I made the right choice is that this pattern is written beautifully. It’s charted with simple instructions between the charts, and I’m just so pleased I picked it.

I’ll be knitting it in my January Yarns Llama Sock yarn, which is a llama, merino, nylon blend. I’ve never knit with llama fiber before, and I’m really interested to see how it knits up.

We have until December 31st to complete our projects (you can craft as many as time allows) and if you manage to complete them and post them in the FO category you become eligible for prizes. I don’t have a whole lot of time to knit, but I am really hoping I can finish this pair of socks in time to enter them.

Honestly, I’m just so excited about this whole thing. If you’re participating let me know in comments! If you’re interested in seeing the designers and their patterns you can check it out in this thread.

Indie Design Gift-a-Long

This will be the 5th year that the event has ran over on Ravelry, and it’s a fantastic way to learn about some indie designers, and get some great discounts on their stuff.

300+ indie designers are participating, and I’ll be on the search for some knit designs for toddlers, as well as some new sock designs. I don’t have any designers in mind yet, but I participated last year and I never fail to find a whole bunch of really neat things to pick up.

For more details, you can read below:

What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 6 week long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by a rather extensive list of independent designers. From November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm US EST to December 31, 2017 at midnight US EST there will be fun games, contests, and 8 KAL/CALs that will help you get your holiday knitting and crocheting done with companionship and fun! From November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm US EST to November 28th at 11:59pm US EST tons of indie designers will be discounting between 10 – 20 of their patterns 25% for this event. Use coupon code: giftalong2017. You can read all about the details in this post: click here link coming soon!or on the FAQ page in our group pages. link coming soon!

I Love Yarn

I like to think I’ve come a long way in the two years since I’ve taught myself to knit. When I first started I didn’t know anything about yarn, I didn’t know there was a difference in the type of yarn used, and I didn’t have a preference. My “collection” (if it could be called that) was mostly harsh acrylic stuff sold at Michaels or Wal-Mart because that’s what I could afford. As time went on and as I began knitting more, I discovered other sites. One I’ve used for a very long time has been Knit Picks. I love some of their yarns, but they also cater to the low budget crowd. Unfortunately I’ve found that over the years the quality has started to lack, or maybe it’s just that I become more and more in love with smaller dye companies.

In any case, once a year Knit Picks has an amazing sale, around the time of Black Friday in the US. I have only bought a small amount of yarn this year, so I saved up for it eagerly.

Turns out, I didn’t actually want that much. I did pick up a set of size 1 metal knitting needles so I can keep making my Christmas ornaments, and I picked up a size 1 set of wooden knitting needles to replace the two that I’ve snapped. I also picked up two skeins of hawthorne that were marked down to $5.50 because I absolutely love that yarn for socks, I’ve already knit a pair in the past, and I picked up two skeins of felici in a colour that I can’t remember. Neutral tones I think. I already have quite a bit of felici in my stash, but why not.

I love yarn. It brings me to a very happy place. I also participated in a yarn exchange on Instagram where you got to grant wishes for people and have one (or many, depending) of your own granted. I found a woman looking for some fiber so I sent her a few ounces of that, and for my wish I requested indie dyed yarn, which another kind soul offered to fulfill. Some companies even offered free shipping if you purchased yarn from them and specified that it was for the gifting which I thought was fantastic and a great way to promote your business. Sometimes, social media can be pretty neat.

I found a cute little sweater with whales I want to make for llama bean this winter before we move to the prairies, and of course I myself could use some mittens, and socks. A never ending supply of knit socks. Right now I haven’t had the time because llama bean has been going through a bit of a stage (I say as I type this one handed) but that won’t always be the case.

All in all I’m happy with my purchase and can’t wait for it to get here!

Star Wars Christmas Ball

I made a lovely practice ball first before attempting what I really wanted which was a Star Wars themed tree ornament. The pattern (found on Ravelry) called for fingering yarn, but I did it with sport, and size 1 double pointed needles. The problem is during the construction of the trial one I snapped my dpn when it came to closing up the ball. Doing those ktog were really difficult on the needles and involved a lot of bending.

I started a second one in fingering – and realized my gauge was way off. There was no way I was going to be able to close the ball up with that size, so I scrapped the entire project and started over, this time using red and green sport yarn. It went much better, but once again I snapped one of my wooden dpn.

If I want to continue to make these adorable little Christmas balls I’m going to either have to replace my wooden dpn with metal ones (and hope I don’t warp them too much) or start using magic loop (I know how to magic loop but I don’t enjoy it, my stitches seem to have long runs that way). I have 21 of the styrofoam balls, enough for a really nice collection of hand knit tree ornaments, themed or otherwise. This year I’m trying to have all my ornaments be hand made as a surprise for my husband when he comes home from depot for Christmas. Me and llama bean are going to be making some salt dough cookie ornaments for the tree this weekend. I haven’t made those since I was in elementary school so I hope they turn out.

I have been taking a bit of a break from knitting my shawl, I worked on it pretty regularly until I got to the feather / fan portion and then set it aside. That will be something I need to pick back up before too long. I just haven’t really felt like dealing with a pattern that I have to follow along with, and I needed a bit of a break. The yarn is an absolute dream to work with so I’m sure I’ll get back to it before too long.

Meal Prep Sunday

Sunday. A day I really just don’t like. I spend most of it cleaning and cooking, doing groceries and other chores that need to get done. By the time Monday rolls around though I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve gotten all of my meal cooking done on Sunday, even if it does make that one day stressful.

This week was pretty easy. I spent about $50 CAD total on groceries for me for the week (not including things that llama bean also eats / needed). The menu was simple, this time of year simple comfort food is what works best for me.

I made turkey meat pies with mashed potatoes and gravy (potato recipe, cooked in my instant pot). That would be dinner for the week.

Roast beef sandwich meat was on sale, one of my absolute favourites. I don’t normally like sandwiches, but combine it with buns (also on sale), chipotle mayo, some aged cheddar, and lettuce – and now we’re talking. Lunch is a roast beef sandwich with chipotle mayo, and egg bites (for lack of a better word). The instant pot crowd had been going absolutely bonkers for these egg bite things that you can buy at Starbucks, it’s apparently much cheaper to make them. I used this recipe. I did it wrong, but they still turned out, just not exactly as I expected. You’re supposed to blend everything up in a blender to make all the pieces tiny and the mixture light and fluffy. I did none of that, so I still have egg bites with ham and cheese but texture wise they’re not airy. No big deal, I only made enough for a few days to start so I’ll make sure I blend the second batch.

Snacks are another easy comfort food, smoked oysters were on sale, so I got a few packages of those along with some black bean garlic crackers that are just delicious. Honestly, there was very little actual cooking involved this week, and I think that’s OK. Meals are portioned out, and I know it’s food I won’t get bored of eating.

Health wise, I’m down to 191 pounds. My goal was to reach 190 before my husband came home last week but I was two pounds off. My next goal is to reach 180 by his graduation, January 29th. I’m hoping I can do this even with the holidays just around the corner. Still, 248 to 191 in a year is not too shabby.

For weight loss the key for me has really been all about pre-planning my meals, taking the stress out of what I’m going to eat, and portion control. I eat whatever I have a desire to eat, sometimes that’s pizza, sometimes it’s sandwhiches, other times it’s tacos. I don’t deny myself food, but I do go in knowing what I’m going to eat from Sunday-Saturday and I stick with it. Removing the stress from cooking a different meal every single day and having to decide what I’m going to eat every single day has helped my frame of mind when it comes to food and knowing that food is not bad. For me, it works. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I’ve been doing this for 17 weeks now and I’ve gone from 215 to 191 in that 17 week period. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what works for you.

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