Test Knits and True Friends

Test Knits and True Friends

It has been the busiest two work weeks- but SCHOOL’S OUT FOR THE SUMMER!!!

This week I finish FIVE THINGS {in different sections}, make some quick cooking decisions, work on a test knit, start a new book, bake something sweet, and continue to love and listen to Harry Potter.


Finished Objects

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FO- Half Moon Oracle

I have finished the very beautiful Half Moon Oracle shawl by Kristin Lehrer of Voolenvine Yarns. It was such a fun knit! The jury’s still out on whether a crescent-shaped shawl is wearable for me. I will have to test it when the weather gets colder… in about eight months. I did wear it to Medieval Times with a group of non-knitting and millennial-age friends (I emphasize because this is a shawl that I wore true granny-style) and they gave me so many compliments on it.

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Before blocking

I had such trouble blocking this shawl. I couldn’t seem to figure out how to pin out the scalloped edge and I was a little worried I did the i-cord bind off too loosely. I gave it another soak and block and finally figured it out- whew!

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Second block!

WIP’s- Focus Projects

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Fifty Four Cowl- 1×1 garter body, slip stitch dots border, and plain edge.

Introducing… the Fifty Four cowl! This is a just-released pattern by the classic and trendy Webster Street Knittery’s Jen Peck- Fifty-Four Cowl pattern here. Getting to test knit was one of my private knitting goals for the year, so I was thrilled to participate in this one. I was like an intimate KAL- so much fun! All details can be found on my Ravelry project page.

 

This pattern is a cowl that’s knit like a shawl. It’s designed to use up leftover fingering weight bits in interesting color variations. There are choices for the body, border and edge of the cowl- make 54 different combinations. The hardest {and most entertaining} part was choosing what design to use next!

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Single Ply- solid body, 2×2 garter stripe border, and i-cord edge.

They work up super quickly! I finished two between Sunday night and Friday morning of last week, and finished a third the following Monday. Granted, we had three state-mandated tests that I proctored last week. {Those are always great for simple knits!}

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Cotton gradient- solid body, solid border, picot edge.

This is the perfect accessory for a gift- I’m giving one as a Christmas present. Amazing for scraps- I used up some of the leftovers from my Half Moon Oracle shawl. It’s ideal for someone like me who lives in a hot weather climate- the cotton gradient one went to one of my crochet club students. I will add the link when the pattern gets released on Ravelry! {Here it is!}


Something New

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I also finished my project for #slaythestash2018. I had trouble with this one too! The yarn is variegated in such a way that intentional plans had to be made so it wouldn’t pool. I tried a hat- no luck. Then I tried a Honey Cowl- same problem! Then I came across planned pooling crochet.

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IT WORKED! I used this tutorial to make a flat piece. Once I got the patterning started, I figured I would have enough yarn to turn the rectangle into a small cowl. I’m so happy with the results!


What God’s Teaching Me

Friendship. The power of prayer. God was teaching me some big things at knit group this week.

My friends and I gather each Thursday night at Whole Foods to knit and chat. Sometimes our conversations are light {like the latest episode of the Stranded Podcast} but sometimes the topics get deeper. We talk about family, religion, current events, work, and so on.

This week, my friend shared with us about an issue she’d been praying about. She had been praying and praying for years on this specific topic and she felt like God was finally answering her by giving her what she had prayed about. This conversation inspired me more than any church service could because I got to see how God had worked through my knitting friend and her family.

As the school year wraps up today, I’m taking to heart what my good friend showed me. Knitting companions will listen to your sorrows and tribulations, and they can give you great advice. However, God is the one who can change things in your heart and in others. My prayer life needs some serious nurturing this summer!


What We’re Cooking

I wanted to do some easy comfort, but not unhealthy, cooking last Sunday after we’d been at the lake all weekend. My dear husband went to the grocery store as he always does, but came home missing a key ingredient for our meal- pesto.

 

I’m not the kind of person who keeps extra things in the pantry for emergency moments {too clutter-y}. Maybe I should be- some pasta, a few sauces, maybe a Hamburger Helper or two. So, I went rummaging in our sad supply and found a packet of Ortego taco seasoning- bingo! We’d just bought these tiny street taco tortillas for no real reason (except that they’re adorable!); and it became taco night.

 

The following day I used the other half of the chicken to make my planned meal- pesto and penne. So easy and so good.

 

Still desiring the simple comfort of throw-together-and-heat meals, I found this recipe to make Sunday night- Cheesy Bacon and Spinach Tortellini Casserole. It was delicious!

 

In stressful times I turn to different things- sometimes exercise, often cleaning, but also bakingOh man, it’s mostly because I have the taste for something sugary and chocolate filled- only homemade will do! I went with Loaded M&M and Oreo Cookie Bars. This was the easiest recipe. You don’t need many ingredients and you don’t need to pull out your mixer. {I cut the recipe in half because I only had half the brown sugar I needed at the moment.} My husband can’t wait for me to make them again. This time I used Oreo’s and Reese’s Pieces, but I think I’ll put the rest of my Tagalongs in them next- yum!


What I’m Reading

I’ve moved onto the third Harry Potter audiobook- Prisoner of Azkaban. I also discovered two new knitting podcasts this week that are worth sharing! Podcasts and audiobooks entertain me on my daily commute.

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This week I discovered the Prairie Girls Knit and Spin podcast. They’ve been around for a while (126 episodes!), but I listened for the first time this week. I love how Susie and Danie banter back and forth. They talk about life and knitting.

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A brand new podcast called The Knitting Hook Up {episode one} started recently with Melissa (@spicyhomemaker) and Ellie (who dyes Artistic Lilly yarns). They have a similar conversational style to the Prairie Girls, and even sound like they’ve been doing podcasts together forever. Have a listen!

 I hit pause on At Home in Mitford since it got sucked back up into the digital library. We will see if I go back to it… but I started a new book. From the recommendation of someone {a podcast, Insta story, friend? Can’t remember!}, I’ve started a new self-help book called Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. The message of this book is that only YOU have control over your happiness and your life. The tone of this book is casual and really pumps you up. I’m excited to read the rest of this book!


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

Summer Snacks and Silence

Summer Snacks and Silence

We’re off to the lake this weekend which means quality time with my knitting!

This week I finish my May socks, talk about a new-to-me provisional cast on technique, lay out my plans for summer snacking, and discuss hearing static from God.


Finished Objects

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May Socks- Must Stash Yarns in “Lavender Apple Blossom”

My May socks practically knit themselves! I bought this Must Stash yarn at DFW Fiber Fest at the beginning of April. The color is “Lavender Apple Blossom” and was originally part of a kit with Tuft Woolens and The Nome Knitter. I’m so happy I was able to snag the yarn! It was short skein (67 grams) which was just enough to make ankle socks with 12 grams left to add to my scrappy blankets. I used Yarn Trekker Detour Sparkle for the heels. I purchased mine at a trunk show.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

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The back of my Over-the-Top Top by Purl Soho.

I’ve made a ton of progress on my Over-the-Top Top by Purl Soho. I think the majority of this sweater has been knit at the movie theater. It’s seen Avengers, The Quiet Place, and I Feel Pretty in the last few weeks. I’m trying to get the shoulders done quickly so I can bring it to the lake this weekend. It will be something simple to knit on while we’re hanging out with friends.

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Half Moon Oracle by Kristin of Voolenvine Yarns

I’ve also put some work into my Half Moon Oracle shawl by Kristin Lehrer. I’m so close to the bind off! I’m six rows into the last lace section. The trouble is that there are over 600 stitches at this point in the shawl. Can you imagine knitting the full-circle Oracle pattern?! I’m already eyeing the perfect bottle of wine to open when it’s time to sit down and i-cord bind off all 600+ of those little suckers. Perhaps it will be an FO by next week!


Something New

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Close up of the hemmed edging on my Over-the-Top Top.

For years I have done a version of the provisional cast on in which you use a crochet hook to create stitches over your knitting needle. This is super awkward to do. When I learned that my Over-the-Top Top needed a provisional cast on, I decided it was time to refine my technique.

I used this tutorial from Tin Can Knits to guide me through the process. Essentially you create a crochet chain with more stitches than required, then go across with your knitting needles picking up stitches. It was easy! Time-consuming, as all provisional cast- ons can be, but simple. Since the top has a hemmed edge, I got to test out the provisional cast on pretty quickly. It unraveled perfectly. I would recommend this technique for your next provisional cast on project!


What God’s Teaching Me

I’ve been searching and searching for what God has been speaking to me about this week. You know what I hear? Silence. OMG! Do you ever feel like your communication with God has come to a halt? I feel this way occasionally, so I know that it is normal. I also know where to look for the problem… see, I am a sinful human and He is the Almighty and perfect God. So the issue is… me!

Looking back over the past week, I see nothing out of the ordinary. However, when I think about my mental state this last week I feel cluttered. I’ve been working my brain pretty hard thinking about testing, wrapping up knitting projects, new designs, the end of the school year, a weekend out of town, etc. Oh, and every waking moment I’ve got my headphones in listening to Harry Potter or a knitting podcast. There’s been so much in my brain that the Lord hasn’t had the space to speak!

So I decided to devote one leg of my commute yesterday to SILENCE. Eep! It was weird. I tend to use podcasts and audiobooks as a calming element during my drives. To leave that time for my mind to wander and think and talk to God was hard! But it was soul-giving.

One of my favorite verses kept coming to mind. It’s from the book of Ecclesiastes which is thought to be written by King Solomon, a man of great wisdom. It certainly has a similar writing style to Song of Solomon, but thousands of years and translations later, how could we possibly know? I’ll share the scripture to close.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)


What We’re Cooking

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Chicken Casserole along with the promised vegetables.

This week we ate a favorite that I’ve already included in the blog {Broccoli and Rice Casserole}. We’re going out of town this weekend, so that lasted us for days! As promised I made enough veggies for both my husband and me to eat for lunch. These turned out the best yet!

So I thought I would include my plan for summer food. This summer is a unique one as I have almost no plans. Since I’m a teacher, I’ll be home the whole summer putting around the house. Okay, really I’ll be knitting, exercising, cleaning, and using the pool as much as possible- try not to be jealous! I need a meal plan to keep me from going to the Sonic across the street every day.

Snacks. Snacks are extremely important as I could likely snack all day until dinner time. I love snacks! Here a list of my favorite snacks for the summer. {I try to avoid raw veggies as they make my stomach ache.}

  • Rinse and eat fruits: grapes, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and blackberries
  • Chop and eat fruits: strawberries {with a little sugar!}, apples, bananas, and pears
  • Salty grab and go: pretzels, rice cakes, Cheez-its
  • A little protein: Babybel cheese and Wheat Thins; peanut butter and apples; Greek yogurt; rice cakes and almond butter; fruit smoothies {just a bit of yogurt, honey, and frozen fruit}
  • A little indulgent (salty): tortilla chips and salsa, Gardetto’s
  • A little indulgent (sweet): banana bread, zucchini bread {with chocolate chips!}
  • Very bad, bad, bad: Ruffles and sour cream and french onion dip, Cheetos, Oreos

Desserts. Coming in at a close second are desserts. I’m partial to baking, so I know this summer I’ll be making some of my favorite desserts! And let’s be honest, dessert is really best enjoyed {again} at breakfast- yum!

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Grill. Now onto what I truly love about summer is grilled food. I don’t even know how to light our grill, but I know my husband can work it! So I’ll chop the veggies and he’ll cook them up. Here are some foods I can’t wait to grill.

  • Veggies: corn, zucchini, squash, carrots, peppers of all colors, mushrooms
  • Meats: burgers, brats, BBQ chicken, Chipotle chicken, lemon pepper chicken, really any chicken, steak, salmon, shrimp

I can’t wait to share what we’re cooking in the upcoming weeks!


What I’m Reading

I’m still cruising along through At Home in Mitford. Reading it feels like going home. Not to my home, but to my grandma’s place in history. Mitford is a town of simpler times and sincere people. This book is a like a cozy blanket.

I’m a slow reader when it comes to physical {or Kindle} books because I don’t commit much time to them. Just 5-10 minutes on week nights. That doesn’t get me far! Unfortunately, that means this book is about to get sucked back up into the virtual library from which I borrowed it. That’s okay, because I have some other books that just became available. So I’ll hit pause on At Home in Mitford and wait to pick it back up when the audiobook is loaned to me.

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Listening to books has been my jam this past week. I’m nearly done with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The next book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban might be my favorite one. I’ve loved re-reading my favorite series!


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty

Granny Squares and Gratitude

Granny Squares and Gratitude

It’s truly springtime in Texas- rain for days!

This week I finish a sweater {tee}, start my May socks, and try to exude some gratitude. I also add my first pattern to Ravelry!


Finished Objects

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“So Faded” sweater by Andrea Mowry

You voted and you got it! I completed my “So Faded” turned-Springtime sweater. Unfortunately, we’ve skipped springtime in Texas and dived straight into 85 degree weather; but I’ll definitely get more use out of a short-sleeve pullover this fall and winter than I would a long-sleeve.

I made a few simple modifications that majorly affected the look of this sweater. The most obvious is the cap sleeves. See my Ravelry notes for details. The second change was a split hem. Now, if you have the same body type as me, split hems are your best friend. My bust measurement is 12 whole inches smaller than my hip measurement… I think the technical term is “pear-shaped.”

Never fear! I know that I need either a top with 5+ inches of positive ease (think Boxy or Tegna) or an A-line silhouette to flatter my shape. Although the 36″ size in “So Faded” would give me some ease in the bust, it would absolutely sausage my hips– yikes! Since I didn’t want an over-size crew neck sweater, my only option was to make the sweater A-line. I know two ways to do this: increases (shaping) or a split hem. I’ll tell you that the easy way out it a split hem; and that’s what I did. No need to change the stitch count or you needle size, just stop knitting in the round half way through the row and you’ve done it! Details here.


WIP’s- Focus Projects

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“Over-the-Top Top” by Purl Soho

Last Friday I started the Over-the-Top Top by Purl Soho. It’s a summer tee with the nice clean lines that I love. Due to lots of movie watching over the past week {Infinity War and A Quiet Place}, I’m nearly finished with the back. Next up, going “over the top” and working the shoulders, neck, and front.

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Must Stash Yarns | Lavender Apple Blossom

I also got a great start on my May socks. {Thank you testing season.} I’m using the colorway “Lavender Apple Blossom” by Must Stash Yarns. It’s a beautiful purple with micro-stripes of rainbow in between. They will likely be finished next week, so I’ll just tease you with the yarn for now! Stacie is so talented that she creates her sock yarn with TWO MATCHING SKEINS. I typically use bulb-shaped locking stitch markers to count every 20 rows of my socks, as I do prefer them to be the same size. My stitch markers landed in the exact same color micro-stripe every time- incredible, Stacie!


Something New

Out of sheer desperation {ahem, #slaythestash2018}, I started a new scrappy blanket last week. I added notes on my Ravelry pattern page on how to create the small granny square, but I thought it would be more convenient to publish my notes for people to download. Now I have my first Ravelry pattern!

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“Scrappy Granny”- my very first published pattern.

Meet: Scrappy Granny. I thought this was a funny name. Scrappy literally means you can use scrap sock yarn, but scrappy can also mean determined and argumentative. I imaged a scrappy grandmother ready to start a fight- “I’ll show you were you can stick your knitting needles!”

Now, a granny square is by no means my original idea. Heck, I bet most people who make granny squares have their own personal pattern memorized! I also didn’t have my pattern test-crocheted and I didn’t include detailed pattern features (like an abbreviation key or chart). Therefore, this a FREE PATTERN.

I would love to formally invite anyone who makes a granny square from this pattern to give me constructed feedback. {You can do that by visiting the contact page at the top of the blog.} Is it written too simply? Is the font too small? Does it make sense?! I hope to continue making patterns that I will get test knit or crocheted and offer as patterns for purchase. I just want to get my feet wet first!


What God’s Teaching Me

Gratitude. Hmph.

This week I’ve found myself exceedingly grumpy on more than one occasion. There is no specific reason for me to be unhappy. I think it’s the tension of a school year coming to a close along with our next three Saturdays being booked to the max that has me feeling anxious.

If you’re like me, you might try a variety of small things to boost your mood. Maybe it’s a special treat like chocolate or Starbucks. Perhaps it’s music or a podcast. You might need a good purge like exercising or cleaning to swing your mood in the right direction. While I was contemplating what I could try next, I got a God whisper… be grateful.

Eep! It’s true! I had so many things to be grateful for even in my crabbiest moment of the week.

Let’s list a few:

  1. Ample knitting time.
  2. An amazing husband.
  3. A fabulous job that pays well.
  4. A healthy body (and hands; hands are important, see 1)
  5. Impending summer vacation.

There is even gratitude in the list of things I have to be grateful about. How many of those things are “bonuses” and not “necessities”? Yet, I didn’t spend time thanking God that we had the means to put food on the table this week.

So, I started a new plan on the Bible App called “Filled with Gratitude.” On the third day, the author asks us how many times we let people do things for us without saying “thank you”- waiters, cashiers, or customer service people to name a few. Then he drops the bomb, “Can you imagine how Jesus felt…?” We know how much a difference those two little words make when said to us- thank you.

I’m taking care this week to thank God for the smallest things.


What We’re Cooking

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Sunday night we had a yummy Caprese Chicken and Quinoa Casserole. It was fairly quick and simple to make (even when I cooked and shredded my own chicken) and I think I”ll make it again soon. Next time I’ll use an entire bag of mozzarella though- yum!

I made more veggies for lunch this week. Kent said he wants to buy double the veggies next week so I can make him some for lunch. So I’d say they’re a hit. This time I shook the veggies with olive oil in a Ziploc {to distribute the oil more evenly} before spreading them on the baking sheets. I opted for salt, pepper, and thyme; but I think I miss that onion powder.


What I’m Reading

Thanks to a blog reader, I have a new book recommendation! I started At Home in Mitford this week, the first of a 14-book series by Jan Karon. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet as I’ve only read 50 pages. It is good and wholesome so far- the story of a church leader just doing his best. I sense that trouble is coming.

I’m continuing to listen to the Harry Potter series with Chamber of Secrets now on the earbuds. The first couple books are under 10 hours of listening time. Between walks and my work commute, I can “read” them easily in two weeks. I love listening to the familiar voice of Jim Dale.


Check back next week for more going-ons in the Knitty Natty home!

Love in stitches,

Knitty Natty