Spring Rainbow Shawl notes

ChemKnits 2022 smsms yarns, night 5

I bought these lovely yarns from the ChemKnits Spring Mini Series. My kid and I have been enjoying her tutorials for dyeing yarn with food colouring, and so I thought this would be a nice way to support the channel and give me and kiddo a week of videos to watch. Plus he loves rainbows. He didn’t watch all of them with me, but we did a bunch!

Kiddo enjoying the yarn.

I was looking at my 2022 Fiber Goals and decided to try doing two at once: rainbows and skipping the pattern. But in case I decide to make a pattern later, I’m putting some notes here. If you’re an experienced knitter this is probably enough to knit this shawl. If you’re not comfortable doing stuff like using a stitch dictionary to fill in a different pattern into a space, this may not be enough for you. (There’s lots of great other patterns out there though! If you like rainbows and don’t love garter stitch, I recommend Shannon Squire’s Spell Shawl which is great for fading)

Full view of the shawl after blocking

Shaping: My spring rainbow shawl is an asymmetric triangle (because it’s one of the shapes I wear most).

Starting: co 7. K3, place edge marker, k5.

Right side row: work edge pattern, slip marker, k2tog, work body pattern, then knit + yarn over + knit in one stitch then k1 for a double increase at the end. (1 dec + 2 inc = 1 inc for the whole row.)

Wrong side row: k4, do body pattern, do edge pattern (no stitch count changes)

Colour changes: I 2-row striped a few times between colours to get a bit of a fade. I sort of eyeballed it to start striping in the last 25% of the ball (so around 5g of the 20g skein) then striped until I ran out of the first colour. I actually ran right to the end of the first colour then cut the second colour and spliced it in rather than worry about whether I’d have enough for the full two rows.

Body: I don’t love garter stitch, but I like some of the properties of it: it lies pretty flat and it doesn’t take much brainpower to knit it. With that in mind, I dug through stitch dictionaries and settled on a pattern that was basically k2, p2 ribbing for 4 rows, 2 rows (1 ridge) of garter stitch, then swap it so the knit sections have purls above and vice versa, then another garter ridge and swap back.

Lazy chart: – is purl on right side, knit on wrong. ” ” Is knit on right side, purl on wrong.

Edge: #249 from the Japanese knitting stitch Bible.

Note that the body pattern is a 12 row repeat and the edge chart is not, which would make this annoying to put into a single chart. So just do them separately and it’s no big deal.

Bind off: I finished my striping to finish the blue and fully switch to purple, then swapped to chart #246 from the Japanese stitch dictionary. I did a bit of math to see how many repeats I could fit, and since it wasn’t exact, i continued doing the k-yo-k increases until I had one more complete repeat.

Terri is wearing a rainbow shawl and a rainbow sweater, because one can never have too many rainbows.

Steven the Bat socks

Steven the Bat socks with the bag from the Halloween countdown set

Years ago, a friend named the local bat who appears in the evenings at our house “Steven.” Since I can’t identify humans in the dark let alone bats, we have henceforth declared that all bats are named Steven. Which is why it’s especially appropriate to have two Stevens on your socks.

This isn’t a complete, perfectly tested pattern, but rather a recipe of components I used that you can adapt to suit you. I’m going with “the perfect is the enemy of the done” and posting what I can manage now rather than trying to be like a professional designer. As a result, this is not a beginner pattern. You’ll need a copy of the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible until I get around to making my own charts for the cables. Have fun!

Yarn

I used a delightful sock set from Valkyrie Fibers that came with the Kitty With A Cupcake Halloween box. You can use any sock set or yarns with decent contrast between them (for the colourwork) and a tonal or solid main colour (for the cables).

Stitch count / Gauge

I did my socks on 64 stitches and a US 1 needle because that works for me. The cable in these isn’t too big so whatever you use normally for plain stockinette socks will likely work for you. If you need more or fewer stitches, increase or decrease in units of 4 so the colourwork section on the bottom can be extended or reduced to fit.

Toe

I did my socks toe up on 64 stitches. I use a rounded toe as follows:

Cast on 24 stitches (12 for top, 12 for bottom) using Judy’s magic cast on.

Increase row: top: k1, m1r, k to 1 before end of top, m1l, k1. Bottom: same.

Increase every row until you reach 26 stitches per side (52 total). K one row, add another increase row, k 2 rows, add another increase row, k3 rows, add a final increase row (32 stitches per side, 64 total)

I knit around .65 inch of plain knit rows after this to get the bat to sit where I wanted.

Bat Chart

Do the top chart (starting at the center line row) for Steven. You can repeat the chart twice or do as I did and use the + motif (bottom right) to fill out the bottom. This just means fewer long floats on the bottom of the sock.

If you start at the bottom of the chart like I did, the bats will be head-up to others but head down to you. I kind of like it this way, but if you don’t then just start at the top of the chart instead.

Cable

I knit another 8 rows plain before starting the cable. I used 1 repeat of motif 101 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, and added a border of two purls and a knit through the back loop on either side. I lined it up directly over Steven’s head; note that this uses an odd number of stitches so you will have one extra on one side.

Heel

I used a center-increase heel. Since my toes are wider than my ankles, I don’t quite increase all the way to double my bottom stitch count, so i increased to 60 stitches instead of 64. As a result, after turning the heel i have 60 stitches in total. I used a slip stitch heel and switched to the contrast colour when i started working on the heel stitches only.

Leg

Continue the cable pattern in front. If desired you can repeat it on the back too. If you did like I did and decreased your stitch count note again that your numbers for the back will be different than the front. I continued for two repeats of the cable because that lined up nicely, but you can do whatever.

Cuff

I used motif 200 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible. This is a 6 stitch motif, so if you used a different number of stitches than I did you might have to either increase/decrease/add an extra rib. I used the contrast colour.

Photos

Happy Halloween!

Steven the Bat socks with the charm bracelet from the Halloween box
Steven the Bat socks. A set of handknit socks modeled on feet. They feature a colourwork bat, a cable motif along the top of the foot and front/back of the leg, a contrast-colour slipped stitch heel, and a fancy cuff also in the contrast colour.

Books: Aug 21, 28, Sept 4, 11

Well… So far moving book reviews to the blog hasn’t been going great, but part of that has been that I haven’t been as consistent even on Instagram. Still, here’s some cut and paste. I’m still not caught up writing reviews because my in-laws have been here all week (including coming to library day!) But this should catch up to what I’ve written at least.

August 21

This week’s books & knitting.

I’ve finished chart B of @romidesigns Fuschia Nouveau Petite for #SpecialSkeinKAL the lighting here doesn’t show off the yarn very well but it’s working up the way I hoped it would!

My last pair for #SocksOnVacay has the heel increases started. I think I’ll get it done before labour day even with the lace to do.



My book: The Twice Scorned Lady of Shadow. Latest in a series. I’m still enjoying the series but I kind of mentally zoned out during the flight scenes to the point where I had to go back because I missed something important. Whoops.

Kid stuff: phonics game might have been more of a hit if my kid weren’t so insistent that numbers are superior to letters.

Kid books were fun but no big winners. I thought the dog in the crow science book might have helped keep his interest but he’s wanted to build stuff at bedtime instead (side effect of hiding inside for the heat is he’s got more energy to burn off at bedtime) so longer comics weren’t too appealing.

August 28

Never got around to posting library books last Sunday, so here they are! Cake pop machine was a winner (though a pain to clean and as you can tell from the proximity of dog nose I had to clean it again) l. Best kids book was Roy Digs Dirt. (Not sure kid got both senses of dig.) Kid wouldn’t let me make any mug cakes because he wanted the orange/pumpkin one (3rd picture) and we didn’t have the ingredients. The estate planning books had two differing theses (“you need a living trust” vs “you don’t but lots of people prefer to have one anyhow”). Grumpy cat was adorable and the stories short enough to share with kiddo

September 4

I’m behind on book reviews so I think these are the ones that were returned Sept 4.

Kid books: I was rather fond of “Go Sleep In Your Own Bed” for perhaps obvious reasons. I think kiddo requested lemmings and brave the most. Since he doesn’t have much sense of time I sometimes tell him something will take about “three paw patrol episodes long” so he actually watched three while waiting for something. Thankfully the disney one was of the “recap an episode” type; I’ve found a lot of their branded books pretty boring.

My book: Homicide and Halo Halo. Second in my new favourite cozy series and it didn’t disappoint. Really appreciated the way the author dealt with the aftermath of the last book. After I had a home invasion in abq someone was kind enough to tell me that ptsd might hit later and although cozy mysteries are generally pretty light, it was a little validating to see that she wasn’t just shrugging it off either.  Also, the dachshund with the beauty queen crown on the cover is adorable.

I also went through an audiobook and a novella but I’ll group them with tomorrow’s returns.

September 11

Library day! Hatch doggy wanted in on the book action so much that I had to lift him off the books so I could put them in the bag.

Kid books: “catch the creeper” book was a bit hard for kiddo, but I appreciated the tiny detailed hand drawn art. Minecraft makes me motion sick so at least this was a way we could enjoy it together! Maximilian Villainous and Kamala and Maya’s big idea were both cute but kiddo didn’t want to read them. Fish book was less interesting but kiddo likes counting so it was ok.

Library of Things: tent building kit was unfortunately a bit more of a hit with the dog (who wanted to chew things) than kid. Bit too finicky and not climbable but a good idea if my kid was more patient.

My books:
Dim Sum of All Fears – another fun cozy. I didn’t find this as creative a mystery as the first in the series but I cared enough about the characters that it didn’t matter.

By the Book – modern book publishing romance based loosely on Beauty and the Beast with some big nods to the Disney version. Really delightful and went out of its way to avoid the more questionable parts of the tale while making nice use of the bones of it.

After Hours on Milagro Street – a #HappyEndingsBookClub pick. A plan, a mystery, a treasure hunt, a ghost, American history… Honestly I was so into the non-romance parts of this book that I probably could have skipped the steamy stuff and still loved it!

Ballad & Dagger – magic! Pirates! Saints! A rabbi! A mysterious sunken island! Politics! Lies! And so much music. I’m so glad I got the audiobook for this one (thanks to Paula for the recommendation) because omg, the reader is amazing. And he even sings!

The Levin-Gad and The Landlady – novelettes in the Tale of the Five world by Diane Duane. The main series is epic fantasy with the first book older than I am, but these stories are new and a delight of “after the big battle” stuff, like pregnancy and lines of succession in a poly royal marriage and how the kingdoms actually get run and what the big changes mean for others.  I’m looking forwards to the next tales!

Books: August 7 & 14, 2022

Two weeks at once!

August 7

Quilt as backdrop even if I didn’t end up starting the embroidery yet. Here’s this week’s library returns and reads, a few days late because I didn’t feel like writing reviews.

My books:

Dyeing Wishes — a knitting plus a bit of magic cozy mystery. Includes a moody ghost, a nameless cat, and muuuurder. I enjoyed it but could have done with less ghost drama so I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the rest of the series.

Knot Again — knitting romance! Waiting for this book is what inspired me to read nearly all of Kwana Jackson’s other books. This one’s the hot Asian knitting firefighter brother + the girl next door who got away. Charity auction action, sexy knitting lessons, friends and family who don’t let them get too much in their heads. Loved it!

The Dead Romantics — a #HappyEndingsBookClub pick. Honestly the cover and title didn’t grab me because I thought it was gonna be more old literary references, but then it was modern romance publishing instead. And there were the crows and the ghosts and the siblings and the town! So good!

Arsenic and Adobo — another one for the diverse cozy list and the best yet! So many interesting suspects/characters, delicious food, expressing love by knowing dietary restrictions, meddling aunties, a hot lawyer *and* a hot dentist, the gay best friend, and the sausage dog! Plus the mystery itself is that perfect blend where you can figure out parts but the reveals still have more story to tell. I think this may be my new favourite cozy series.

Kid reads: violin book cover was too scary so it had to go right into the returns. Stink bug book was a hit what with all the stinking and the “ew stink bug.” Rapunzel was a twist on the tale that definitely appealed to my kid (no prince, she is clever and rescues herself). The rest were good but not re-requested at bedtime like those two.

August 14

Library day! Biggest hit was the wooden sandwich making toy, but kiddo cracked the lid of the plastic box it came in so he’ll be saying sorry to the librarian on duty as we go to see if they can charge us for a new one.


Kid reads:

Doris the Bookasaurus was adorable as she gets her brothers into books. The Little Library was a cute one about building (and a bit about loving making rather than reading) although kid was scandalized by the idea of a library that closed for summer. (And not even a little phased by the librarian using they/them pronouns.) Change the world was lightly preachy but not awful. Spongebob was, well, Spongebob. Kiddo was obsessed for a few weeks and the library has his back, including dvds and the Spongebob switch game shown. He liked the game but the controls/camera are a bit finicky for a little kid so he didn’t get too far. (Not abnormally so, but after our great experience with Mario Odyssey, this felt very clunky.) Multiplayer was a bust: he wanted us to open world together but it only did a boss battle in 2 player mode.

My reads:

Death by Dumpling. Another diverse cozy! I really loved that her dog was named Kikkoman ❤️ It didn’t manage to beat out last week’s mystery for new favourite, but it was really enjoyable, and the mystery had a lot of interesting details. I particularly liked the best friend (and the zodiac cocktails). I’m ordering the next in the series.

Not pictured: Below Zero, another Ali Hazelwood short that I read a few weeks ago and forgot to review so it’s going in now. Cute, but I wanted to punch someone over the “not reporting the broken stair until after someone got hurt” even if it was very realistic to the way that type of problem gets shuffled under the rug. (trying to avoid spoilers, but that’s broken stair as a metaphor, not a literal broken stair). While coming to the rescue at the last second made for a better romance, auuuuuugh.

Queer Enough Shawl

This one’s for all the folk who might not “look” queer: the bi folk in “straight” relationships, the trans and non-binary folk who maybe don’t “look” queer to outsiders, the ace folk, and everyone else who struggles with whether they’re really “queer enough” for a LGBTQA+ space. This free shawl pattern is intended as a gift to the many people who’ve wondered how they fit in as well as those who are gloriously out.

Queer Enough Shawl modelled by the designer, Terri Oda. It is a crescent shaped shawl featuring rays made from lace and tiny cables. The shawl has been made in bright rainbow colours.

I’m going to warn your right now that the name “Queer Enough” is also a pun on “Clear Enough” — I’m intentionally not writing out all the details because I’m worried if I aim to make it perfect and beginner-friendly it’ll never get out there. As such, I’d say this pattern requires intermediate-level pattern reading skills or the sort of mind that sees patterns easily. You might have to search for your own tutorials if you need ’em. But I know you can do it! You’re resourceful! Go you!

And if you’re the sort of person who *loves* filling in these details and just knows you can make this pattern better, please get in touch because I’m happy to have it improved, I just didn’t want to block myself from releasing it. I do plan to improve it as I go if I can.

This shawl was originally knit as part of the Quiet Queer Craftalong, a June-July knit-a-long intended to encourage folk to make things using patterns from queer designers and materials from queer dyers, kit makers, and more. I consider myself queer enough that this should count, but I always encourage you to also purchase patterns/materials from queer folk who make fiber arts part of their regular income! (I’m a computer security person professionally and get paid more than enough to be able to give away patterns but not everyone can afford to do that.)

Edit Aug 9, 2022: Added little repeat charts for each section. Also, thank you to the many people who told me the message and the title of this pattern resonated with you! <3

Shawl overview

“Queer Enough” is a top-down crescent shawl pattern with simple lace and cable “rays” that come out from a center spine.

Gauge/Needle Size/Yarn are all flexible. Use what feels comfortable to you and make it as big or small, thick or thin as you like to wear.

My gauge was 21 sts and 36 rows /4 inches (unblocked in pattern) and I used a US 6 needle and sock/fingering weight yarn.

Choosing colours

I used KnittedWit sock-weight yarn in an older version of a temperature rainbow kit available from the ShannaJean Etsy. These use 10g “gem” sock minis, which are smaller than the more commonly available 20g mini size. This particular yarn inspired the pattern because it has dark/light pairs of colour for the garter/lace rows to pop a bit more. These kits come with 14 colours, I only used 12 for my shawl.

You could get a nice effect by using a single main colour for one of the sections and minis for the other, or just using two skeins of yarn.

Shawl worn bunched up around the neck as a scarf

If you like to wear shawls wrapped around your neck like scarves, please note that the garter section may tend “stick out” and be more visible, particularly if it’s been a while since your shawl was blocked. If you tend to wear your shawls less bunched up, the lace section will block to be larger and potentially more visible. You can choose your colour configuration with those in mind! I used the brighter rainbow for the garter and the pastel rainbow for the lace.

Icord cast on/set up section:

Use Judy’s magic cast on to cast on 6 stitches (3 per side). We’ll be using this as a provisional cast on to make a 3-stitch icord edging, so you’re going to be leaving behind those rightmost three stitches until setup is done, and we’ll be adding one more to the “left behind” section with each row.

Row 1 (first after cast-on): knit all 6 stitches.

Rows 2-10: Slip 3 stitches to left needle and work only those 3 stitches in this row. Knit front and back in first stitch, knit next two. Do not turn work. (increases 1 stitch)

Once this is done you should have 15 stitches on the needle.

(If that all sounds terrible/confusing, you can also make a 9 row long icord and pick up 9 stitches along the side and three stitches at the beginning for a total of 15. I just wanted to try a cast on option that wouldn’t include picking up stitches.)

You can mentally divide your 15 stitches like this:

  • 3 left icord border,
  • 2 left shawl body,
  • 2 for left leaning cable,
  • 1 for center,
  • 2 for right leaning cable,
  • 2 right shawl body,
  • 3 right icord border.

Row 11 (wrong side): slip 3 (place marker if you like to have a border marker), knit front and back, knit 3, place left spine marker, slip 1, place right spine marker, knit three, knit front and back (place border marker if desired), slip 3. (increased by 2, stitch count 17)

I didn’t bother with border markers, but I’ve noted where they go in case you want them. Slip them as you come to them from now on.

Row 12 (right side): knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3, right leaning 1 by 1 cable, slip spine marker, left-leaning 1 by 1 cable, knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3 (increased by 2, stitch count 19)

You’re now set up to start in a garter section.

General Pattern Overview:

Your shawl is going to come in 5 “wedges”: two matched borders on the edges, two “body” sections, and one slipped stitch spine in the center.

  1. Right Border icord + increase:
    • knit 3, knit front and back (right side, increase 1)
    • knit front and back, slip 3 (wrong side, increase 1)
  2. Right Body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
  3. Center slipped stitch spine:
    • slip spine marker, knit 1, slip spine marker (right side)
    • slip spine marker, slip 1, slip spine marker (wrong side)
  4. Left body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
  5. Left border icord + increase:
    • Knit front and back, knit three (right side, increase 1)
    • slip three, knit front and back (wrong side, increase 1)

Don’t worry, I’ll write out the full rows below. This is to help you understand how they fit together.

Legend for Charts

Tiny cables without a cable needle:

With these little 1-1 cables, I prefer to cable without a cable needle. KnitPicks has a nice tutorial on how to do this if you’ve never tried it.

Garter Section:

The garter section features cables and a spine that “float” over the garter stitch, with 9 stitches between garter rays (10 if you include the bottom part of the cable, for a total of 11 stitches per repeat).

Right side row:

  • Border + increase: Knit 3, kfb
  • Work right wedge:
    • If you have enough space before the first ray (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so by working a 1:1 right leaning cable, k9. This should take you to 1 stitch before the next ray
    • Knit to 1 before ray, work 1:1 right leaning cable. There will always be 9 knits between cables (or 10 stitches between rays of you count the bottom of the cable as a stitch)
    • If you have enough space before the center marker (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so. K9, 1:1 right leaning cable.
  • Slip center marker, knit 1, slip center marker
  • Work left wedge:
    • If you added a repeat in the right wedge center, do it again on the left wedge center. (work 1:1 left leaning cable, k9. This should take you to the next ray.)
    • Knit to the ray, work 1:1 left leaning cable. There should be 9 knits between cables in the middle
    • If you added a repeat in the right wedge edge, do it again on the left wedge edge.
  • Increase+ border: kfb, knit 3

Wrong side row:

  • Slip 3, kfb
  • Knit to center marker but slip each ray as you come to it (I find it easier to use stitch markers to mark the rays, but you can count)
  • Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
  • Knit, slipping rays when you come to them
  • Kfb, slip 3
Queer Enough Shawl: charts for cable sections

If you find out your stitch counts are off so there’s not enough space between rays (it should always be 9 knit stitches or 10 if you’re counting and include the bottom half of the cable) or your left and right sections aren’t set to start a new ray at the same time, you can fudge them by adding an increase or decrease next to where the ray happens; the rays can disguise the adjustment. (Or you could go back and fix the mistake, but who has time for that? I give you permission to fudge if you need it.)

If you miss a slip on a ray, you can correct it on the right side by undoing that stitch and letting the yarn hang behind.

Lace Section:

The lace section features “rays” coming out from the center spine with yarnovers on each side and a decrease on the outer edge. The center ray needs to line up with the previous row.

Right side row:

  • Work border + increase: k3, kfb
  • Work right wedge:
    • If you have enough space (12 stitches) before the first ray, start a new ray with ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, knit 7 (which should take you to 3 before the first ray.)
    • [knit to 3 before next ray, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo] repeat until center marker. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
    • If you have enough space before the center (at least 11 stitches), start a new ray with k7, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo.
  • Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
  • Work left wedge:
    • If you worked a new repeat on the right wedge center do it again on the left. (Start a new ray with yo, ssk, yo, k2tog ssk, yo, k2tog, k7.) This should take you to the stitch before the next ray
    • [knit to next ray, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog] repeat until last 4 border stitches. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
    • If you increased on the right edge, do the same on the left edge. You need at least 15 stitches including the 4 stitch border+increase), start a new ray with k7, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog
  • Increase + border: kfb, k3

Wrong side row:

  • Slip 3, kfb
  • Purl to center marker
  • Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
  • Purl to last 4 stitches
  • Kfb, slip 3
Queer Enough Shawl: charts for lace sections

The new rays should be paired: the two center ones happening at the same time, and the two edge ones happening at the same time (but not all 4 at once). If your stitch counts don’t match in these places, you’ve probably made a mistake. You can go back and correct it or just fudge it

In the lace section, the easiest place to adjust without it being noticeable is the decrease beside the ray: make it a double decrease (to remove an extraneous stitch) or make it a k (to add one).

Continue this section until you want to switch back to garter. I stopped after a wrong side row when I no longer had enough in my mini skein to complete two rows. You can use a scale to figure this out and maximize your use of yarn or just eyeball it. I won’t tell. I actually switched yarns near the end of a row because I got in a groove and didn’t realize I was running out of yarn a few times and I don’t find it very noticeable.

If you’re feeling fancy you can start the lace repeat a bit early and fit only one yarn over and decrease in. I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader. Please note that although the shawl increases are all on the outside, because of the way the rays tilt you will have +1 space to count towards your repeat in both the center and edge sections. So if you start your half-lace the instant you can, you’re going to need to keep it going twice before you get to a full repeat. If none of this makes sense just do the repeats when you’ve got the full 11 stitches and save yourself the headache.

Lace to Garter Transition Row:

I found one extra yarn over helps make the cabled rays and the lace rays line up better. They won’t line up perfectly unless you block it very carefully (and as you’ll see below, that’s not an option in my life) but I like the transitions better this way.

Close up of shawl showing the transition between lace and garter sections and the fact that my rays aren’t perfectly straight.

Right side row:

  • Knit 3, kfb
  • Right side: knit to 3 before each ray, ssk, yo, 1:1 right leaning cable, knit to center marker
  • Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
  • Left side: knit to ray, 1:1 left leaning cable, yo, k2tog, knit to last 4 stitches
  • kfb, knit 3

For the wrong side row and onwards follow the garter pattern.

Queer Enough Shawl: Chart for transition rows

Continue swapping between garter and lace sections until you run out of yarn or you decide you’re done.

Charts

These charts are intended to help you see visually how to line up the sections so that the rays continue in unbroken lines. (The lines will, however, still be a little wobbly at the transition unless you’re very careful about blocking them. It’s ok.)

Legend for Charts

Here’s a very-wide chart to show how everything fits together:

Very Wide Chart (click to enlarge)

And here’s it split into two hopefully more readable segments:

Right side chart. Note that the left side of the chart will line up with the Left Side Chart)
Left Side chart. This needs to line up with the Right side one)

If I try to make a printable version of the pattern I guess I’ll have to make these prettier.

Final section:

For my shawl, I ended on a lace section. I like the way the lace can be blocked to points so I used a strechy bind off added a picot at the end of each ray. If you don’t like frilly edges, you could also try ending on a garter section and using an icord bind off.

Start the last two rows on a wrong side row: slip 3, kfb, knit to 4 before end, kfb, slip 3. Turn work.

We’re going to do a stretchy picot bindoff where the picots go over the end of each ray.

  • Bind off part: knit 2, take two on right hand needle and knit 2 together through back loop (bound off 1 stitch). After that first pair, you can just k1, knit 2 on right hand needle together through back loop. (Every time you add a picot you’ll be back to the knit 2 beginning again, though.)
  • Picot part: cable cast on 2 then continuing binding off as before.

Bind off with picot row: bind off 1, picot, bind off until stitch before ray, picot. Continue in this manner until you reach the center spine. On the left side of the shawl, switch to adding picots after binding off the ray stitch. Add one more picot when you reach 2 stitches left at the end.

Close up of the shawl showing the center picot after blocking.

Finishing the Shawl

Like most lace projects, this shawl should be wet-blocked and stretched well for best effect.

Rainbow shawl being spun in a salad spinner. This is one way to remove some excess water after soaking (another example would be to wrap it in a towel and squish)

People always seem to have questions about blocking. Unfortunately, my process is ridiculous because I have a child who wants to help. So here it is for posterity, but what you should do is search for someone else’s blocking instructions if you need them.

Shawl blocking in progress. You definitely don’t need this many blocking wires.

Blocking this shawl was a lengthy process:

1. Soak shawl
2. Squeeze shawl and put in salad spinner
3. Child hears salad spinner and nearly has meltdown because he wanted to do it. I manage to negotiate not re-wetting the shawl so we can “start over”
4. Dog hears child with salad spinner and comes to investigate
5. Child determines that face licks are detrimental to his process and banishes dog from kitchen.
6. Dog waits a few minutes then goes around to the other door and gets banished again.
7. Child decides this moment must be recorded (see reel), gets mad at mom for not hitting the video button and instead getting the second picture.
8. Shawl is finally released from its torment and taken downstairs. Gate is locked so dog can’t follow.
9. Dad opens gate to follow and brief altercation with child ensues. Dad insists he is not a dog who has learned to open gates, and not trying to horn in on special shawl blocking activity.
10. Blocking mats have previously been used for pom pom snowball fight and some cleaning must occur.
11. Shawl is blocked while child adds “traps” with extra pins and wires and a “timer” made from a stitch counter.
12. Child explains his creative process in great detail. Possibly as an attempt to postpone bedtime.

And there you have it, 12 “easy” steps. As I said, search for someone else’s blocking tutorial if you need one that doesn’t include child management.

I hope this is enough that at least a few people can make a Queer Enough shawl of their own. Thanks for reading!

Books: July 31, 2022

A set of books lies beside a rainbow sweater and a neon rainbow lace shawl.

Playdate sweater has 1.5 sleeves and I sewed the pocket linings in, but then my hands decided sleeve knitting was uncomfortable so it’s taking a break and I’m working on the rainbow shawl which has made it all the way to purple!  I actually have most of a blog post ready to go with the pattern just waiting for me to finish and get pictures and stuff. (Note: I’m posting the book reviews to the blog late this week; the shawl is now finished and the sweater nearly so!)

Playdate pattern by @tincanknits yarn from @passionknits_yarn
Shawl pattern by me, yarn from @knittedwit

My books:

I really liked The Bone Spindle! It’s a fairy tale mashup with sleeping beauty as a prince who needs saving, lots of magic, tragic backstories, and queer romance for one of the main characters. Gonna have a long wait for the next one and that was kind of a cliffhanger ending.

And a knitting pattern book in this batch of library returns: I picked up Curls to see if I wanted to buy it before the author took all her patterns down. I liked the concept but wound up buying Curls 3 since I couldn’t just borrow that one from the library. Haven’t knit anything from it yet but probably one of these days!

Kid books:

These 4 are easy readers so simple sentences and ugh, I do not enjoy this type of book. But kid liked them. I’m glad I don’t have to read the inane one about the princesses and pets again. The Hello Ninja one at least didn’t make me feel like my brain was dribbling out my ears, and I could see why elephant and piggy are so popular with kids.

Counting the countdowns

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for tiny daily packages of yarn, but my enthusiasm for opening them is a bit beyond my ability to actually use them. (Oh, let’s be honest, my enthusiasm for all things yarn is beyond my knitting and crocheting speed.) I’m glad to see a few more countdown/advent style yarn things coming at non-December times of the year so I can spread them out! But that doesn’t stop me from wanting all the December goodies, especially since I have an end of year birthday to celebrate. It feels weird to be thinking about these so early, but since the folk who make them need to order supplies and dye early a lot of the ordering forms went up months ago.

Ones I’ve done in previous years that I probably won’t do again:

  1. Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent. My first advent style yarn box! I’ve had 3 of these now and they’re delightful, but I’m not excited about this year’s ornament box given that I still have crochet ornaments from 2017 to finish.
  2. Indie Untangled Countdown. The previews and theme for this year looks great but I’m planning to sit this one out. The last one I did was was definitely a “wait and see all the yarn before deciding what to make” case and I don’t want the yarn to sit around for years again.
  3. Must Stash Yarn sock advent: less of a kit, just a cute holiday colour and a nice pattern to go with it. I really liked the hobbit one I did, and I liked last year’s pattern but did it on different yarn later in the year on previously stashed yarn. We’ll see!
  4. Wildstar Fibers new year’s countdown: 10 mini skeins counting down to new years. Loved this last year but I don’t think she’s doing it again and to be completely honest I haven’t knit up last year’s yet anyhow.
  5. The Katrinkles advent. I loved the tools one but I have most of the little tools I want from them so it probably makes more sense not to get a mystery set. Although at least it doesn’t add to my knitting workload! I was pretty tempted by the quilt one last year though so I’m not going to make a final decision until the email goes out.

This year’s (expected) repeats:

  1. By Sarahs mystery sock. If Sarah does one, I’ll definitely get it. These have been such a joy and the small amount of knitting makes it easy to handle alongside other kits.
  2. Imagined Landscapes advent gnome. I keep telling myself I’ll just get the pattern and enjoy the story then do the gnome at some less busy time, but realistically I’m probably going to wind up knitting it once I see it.
  3. Knitted Wit countdown. These have been very thoughtful and I like the community, plus I really like having one that goes right to the end of the year, but I’m worried about taking on too much! So I haven’t ordered yet but it’s reasonably likely that it’ll be a birthday gift to self, I’m just waiting for a more local yarn store to list it.

New to me this year:

  1. ChemKnits Chanukah countdown. Kiddo and I have been making good use of Rebecca’s videos for food-dye yarn experiments and we had fun getting the spring yarns and watching along, so I’m probably going to sign up for this when it opens. The spring set is a rainbow that I intend to use together, but I suspect these may be more random stash enhancement that can be split up into separate projects. We’ll see!
  2. Winter Skies advent from pnw_knitdesign and westcoastyarnco. I love her colourwork “doodle” patterns with all the charts and subbed them in to the Halloween Advent I did last year, so I’m really looking forwards to this one. I expect it’ll be a lot more subdued than my yarn choices have been lately (what with 2022’s “knit more rainbows” goal) and I’m thinking that might be nice. This is the one calendar that I’ve actually already ordered for December!

Non-December-y countdowns:

  • This year I got the Teal Torch Knits summer solstice box and it’s currently hung up to decorate my office while I try to decide on a good sweater pattern for this perfect fade. I’ve got to say, though, fades are kind of boring as mystery packs because so many of the colours are reasonably predictable and look similar. So even though I love the yarn, I don’t know if it fully scratches the mystery itch as it were?
  • Last year I tried Jimmy Beans Wool’s 13 day Halloween countdown and it was fun. I swapped in some charts from the autumn doodle pattern and they really made it cooler.
  • This year, I signed up for a package from Kitty With A Cupcake & Valkyrie Fibers for a countdown of spooky-cuteness and a skein of sock yarn to knit as a countdown project. I’m so excited!

So… I had a summer solstice countdown and I’m looking forwards to a Halloween one, but December is still looking busy with 1 ordered and 4 more earmarked for me to order if I don’t miss the signup window. Ridiculous? Eh, probably. And I haven’t even listed the ones I looked at and didn’t even make the “short” list!

But here comes the really tricky part: my kid shares my love of tiny packages, so I’m going to have to get him set up with some countdowns too! In previous years, I filled up an old craftvent calendar with chocolates and socks and bath bombs and random tiny toys, but it can be hard to find things that fit in those tiny boxes. I did a birthday one for him last year and it’s about time to start thinking about getting that started!

Update: I forgot one I already ordered! Channy’s “I ❤️ indie dyers” yarnament advent. It’s got so many cool dyers involved.

Books: July 24, 2022

Library day + the sweater has one complete sleeve and I like the rainbow cuff as much as I hoped I would. 🌈

A rainbow sweater and five kids books (named below)


Kid reads:


Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds was a big hit with all the details in the drawings plus my kid’s enthusiasm for getting mail. (We even play a game where I deliver packages to his cardboard box house!)

Rudolph is old enough to be a little dated in a “dolls for girls trains for boys” way but he was mostly into it for the winter animals.

Cat ladies was surprisingly delightful in that the ladies seem to be living in some sort of cool old lesbian commune which I’m pretty sure is not what my kid got out of it. But yeah, the ladies are very cool.

Brownie Groundhog and February Fox was sweet and the pictures so cute, though I feel like all these “predator and prey become friends” stories are probably not teaching my kid very useful lessons about animals.

My books:


A Darkness at the Door — book 3 in the world that started with the Goose Girl, but books 2-3 are a different protagonist and I love Rae so much. When she starts to learn to pick locks! The moment with the cane! (Great read for disability pride month.) All the thoughts on justice hit especially hard right now too. And of course, finally getting closure on her story was so good. It’s a darker fairy tale but if you like TJ Kingfisher you should definitely read these books.

Be warned: the US publisher didn’t pick up this last book so I got my copy from Kickstarter but I think you can get it online from the UK publisher. And you *definitely* are not going to want to stop after book 2!


Under one Roof — cute short romance with a recently graduated environmental PhD inheriting half a house with the other half owned by a grumpy lawyer. Ridiculous and adorable.

Books July 17

I’ve been taking pictures of my library returns pile and doing little reviews in the captions of my Instagram, which is fun for sharing what I’m reading right now with my mom and friends but it’s not searchable or easy to find later, and Instagram is notorious for mystifying and often racist moderation policies so I worry that I should keep stuff I might want later in places I own. I tried cutting/pasting the reviews on Mastadon but the size limit is too short and half my pictures won’t upload without manually editing them. And I tried using LibraryThing but it’s a lot of work to add each book and cut/paste so I haven’t been consistent there yet either.

In the meantime, book reviews are going to get duplicated here to archive them where I can search them and I’ll see if that works better. We usually go to the library on Sunday (there’s a joke about my version of church waiting to happen there…) so these are yesterday’s returns and caption below.

A set of books laid out in a square. A child’s hand is visible in the upper right, since my kid helped with book layout.

The most memorable kid read was the Fauci book, which kind of raised my mental critical thinking/propaganda alarms (it’s very clearly “help make your kids feel better about vaccines”) but the message wasn’t bad just… You know that vibe? It’s very common in kids non-fiction, a side effect of the necessary simplification I guess. J and I spend a lot of time saying stuff like “that’s only partially true…” when we read. I did like their little pull quote (second picture).

A picture of the inside of the Fauci kids book. It works a kid and his father together at a table with papers in front of the kid. The page reads “Anytime Anthony struggled with homework, his father reminded him that every problem has a solution.” Then in larger decorative text it says “don’t get discouraged. Don’t run away because you don’t understand the problem. Think about it carefully and try to work it out.”

My books:

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic probably would have been a hit with my kid but again, he only sat through part of it and I read the rest myself.

The preserves books we got for making strawberry jam last weekend, and that was a success!

Mango, Mambo and Murder — I decided I should try searching for diverse cozy mysteries, and the library had this one on the shelf. I really enjoyed it, and while her MIL is *much* worse than mine I could definitely relate to some of the culture clashes.  Also, I loved that the main character has a kid and manages to juggle childcare and sleuthing realistically.

Cover of F. T. Lukens’ book “In Deeper Waters” which depicts two young men in the rigging of a ship.

In Deeper Waters — queer fairy tale romance. So adorable, and it’s a delight that in this society the boys-liking-boys was not the point of tension, it was all about the magic and bargains with the sea witch and…

Cover of Lyla Lee’s book “Flip the Script” which shows a picture of a young Korean woman holding her finger to her chin with a slight smile on her lips.

Flip the Script — k-drama queer kids changing the world. Very sweet YA romance.

Mid-year fiber goals check-in: the “other” ideas

As in previous years, I chose four Fiber Goals for 2022. That small number always leaves me with a bunch of ideas that I toss out there on the post that I wasn’t committing to finish but also wanted to record as ideas. A year is a long time so some of those always manage to happen even if they didn’t make the top four.

De-stashing: I was lucky enough to find a local friend to take a big box of acrylic at the beginning of the year. She’d gotten into making crocheted baskets, so this box of sturdy yarn I’d “inherited” from someone else’s mother in law was actually useful! And just recently, my sister uncovered 7 giant tubs of yarn in my grandmother’s basement, and I was able to find a different crocheting friend who could take those. Cleaning out my grandmother’s house is a huge job and I was glad to have been able to help with one tiny thing from far away even though it was kind of a drop in the bucket. This was not the first cache of yarn my sister has found, but hopefully it’ll be the last big one!

Hatch observes the crates of yarn pulled out of the closet at my house.
Layer 1 of the yarns I was able to fit in the shipping box.

Finishing some languishing WIPs: I jumped on a challenge from Sox Therapist and finished my Tunisian shawl finally as well as a Flickering Light Shawl that I’d started in New Zealand and never finished after we got back. I thought I probably wouldn’t be doing more Tunisian for a while but I keep thinking about it so maybe there’ll be some smaller swatch/dishcloths in my future?

Terri holds her completed Loveland Lite shawl, a Tunisian crochet triangle shaped two colour shawl. Yarn from Alwan Sultan Fiber.
Finished Flickering Light shawl. Yarn was a kit from Space Cadet yarns.

Year-long project: I did the Get Together Advent wrap as a 24-week project (so half-year), but I also have an embroidery constellations kit and I’m doing zodiac signs around the year. (well, ok, I’m behind by a few weeks right now, but I’ll get caught up.)

Kiriki press constellation embroidery sampler. I’ve done the zodiac constellations as they come up in the year but haven’t quite finished Gemini yet.

Fingering Weight Sweater: As mentioned in the previous post: it’s started! I’m using the “I love me more than you” box of minis from Passionknits yarn to do big chunky stripes on the Playdate sweater from Tin Can Knits. It’ll be a rainbow when it’s done!

Sweater body showing 6 colours.
Tiny rainbow sleeve swatch showing all the colours to come.

The Act of Sewing: I made the top, which was not a great fit and needs re-thinking, and the skirt with added pockets, which has become a wardrobe staple this summer. I might make a few more skirts.

Top from The Act of Sewing. Careful photography makes it look not awful here but it’s way too big.
Bicycle print skirt with giant pockets. I wear this plenty now that it’s warm!

Glowforge: I made an embroidery floss holder as part of a care package for Marlene, and a no soliciting sign for our front door.

Yarn care package for my friend Marlene. The yarn is a hobbit themed one from Valkyrie Fibers and I picked up notions and tea to be on theme. The laser cut embroidery floss holder with the silhouette of the Lord of the Rings characters is on the top left.
A wooden sign that reads “No Soliciting (The dog gets very upset)”

Knitting machine: We made a tube with some of the yarn my kid dyed and he uses it a lot for play. Most often it’s attached to a toy so he can play a fishing game involving throwing all his stuffed animals on the floor then tossing his “fishing rod” out to touch the one he wants to catch. But I haven’t done much since then!

Tube made with green/yellow hand dyed yarn.

That’s a pretty large number of non-goals achieved or in progress! Not all of them, but the destashing ones were especially a relief.

Mid year check-in: 2022 fiber goals

For the past 7 years I’ve done fiber goals instead of new years resolutions. It’s been a fun way to guide my crafting plans. Here’s a link to my 2022 fiber goals. We’re nearly halfway through the year, so let’s talk about how it’s going.

Goal 1: Rainbows 🌈

Started strong with using half of my 2020 countdown calendar (see goal 2) to make a beautiful Steggy shawl.

Me wearing my rainbow Steggy Shawl

I also did some rainbow-adjacent Spell Shawls with one that’s pink-purple-yellow-brown and one that’s blue-green. Between the two of them they kind of make a rainbow?

I’ve started a fingering weight Playdate sweater that’s going to have a full rainbow when it’s done but it’s not too visible yet. I’m not in a hurry to finish this one now that we’re very clearly out of sweater season, but hopefully it’ll be done in the fall.

A sweater with large bands of colour is taking shape on the needles in the foreground. An inflatable pool with a rainbow floaty toy is visible in the background.

I made a fairly rainbow Diponaea hat as part of Quiet Queer Craftalong. The idea of the craftalong is to support queer creators and participate in a pride event that’s accessible to people who aren’t going to be doing pride parades and more traditional celebrations. (Like me and my sore leg!) So both the yarn dyer and pattern designer are non-binary for that project.

Hatch, a black lab mix dog, is lying with his nose on a colorful hat.

And I’m starting work on my own design (tentatively named “Queer Enough Shawl”) that will use this lovely rainbow set I have:

A small crescent shawl in progress beside a rainbow of yarn minis and a book.

This goal is about doing rainbows year round, so I expect to keep on rainbowing through 2022.🌈🌈🌈

Goal 2: Advents past 🎄

My first project was to use my 2020 Indie Untangled Countdown calendar to make that Steggie Shawl. I actually only used about half of it but that’s ok, I’m happy to save the rest for later. Maybe another shawl, though I’ll need some more yellow to make another rainbow so I’m waiting for my scraps pile to build up again.

Steggy Shawl in progress

I also used the 2018 Craftvent calendar as a weekly project, to be done during work meetings. Each box took about an hour or two, so very feasible to do during my regular meetings (one of which is my social knit group). It made a beautiful wrap. The All Together Now pattern was known and the calendar didn’t have a lot of extras so honestly I might have been more disappointed by that if I’d done it when I got it, but all these years later I was happy to have the curated prepared yarns and a weekly project.

My Little Box of Crochet advent from 2018 has a number of ornaments left to go, so I might try doing that one next. The patterns may need too much reading and counting to be good meeting fidgeting, but if they’re not a good fit for meeting times I’ll fit them into my plans another way. Goodness knows, I’ve got a whole rainbow sweater to work on that’s super easy knitting.

I’ve also got a countdown calendar that hasn’t got a pattern with it, and I’ve got a vaguely formed plan but no timeline on that one.

Goal 3: Where we’re going, we don’t need patterns 🕸️

Not as much progress on this one, but I did start that soon-to-be rainbow shawl (shown above) and my quilt (shown below) both of which are designed by me. It’s incredibly hard not to try to turn the rainbow one into a pattern but I’m compromising on a partially-formed recipe. I’ve also got a bunch of notes for a couple of mosaic knitted projects, so those might happen too.

Goal 4: Finish the sabbatical quilt 🪡

It’s actually getting close to done!

Quilt binding in foreground while my kid plays Paper Mario Origami King in the background.

I still have plans to do some embroidery on it after the binding is done, but it’s now reached the stage where I don’t need to have kid-free time for this so it’s less stressful to work on. I know, other quilters do stuff with their kids around, but my kid is way too interested in the sewing machine and … well, last time he was around I wound up having to give up and help him make a pillowcase instead.

Rainbow Quilt at the “trimming the sandwich” stage.

I won’t say I’ll never do another quilt again because I have second quilt top kit in my fabric stash (bought as a souvenir with a very Albuquerque-Mexican design). And I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed some of the process! Some thoughts on improving the experience:

  • I didn’t love cutting fabric but the jelly roll was fun so maybe more of those.
  • While I didn’t have much trouble with machine quilting on my heavy-duty signer, I’ll consider hiring someone with a longarm to do that part to save the many hours of rolling and unrolling that took.
  • Smaller might be better: I could try quilted bags or smaller throws in future.
  • I could also really use a more study desk for the sewing machine — I’m figuring out what that should be now.

Once this is done I’ll be taking a long break from quilts, but not from sewing! I’ve been enjoying making clothes, and would like to get back into bags and toys too. Maybe even make my kid some ponies if I can find that pattern.

Other non-goals: coming later

Everything is well on the way for these goals! I also had a bunch of things that didn’t quite make it to my top 4 goals but *did* make it into my life. I’ll put those in a separate post!

Remembering my Grandma, Lorna Smith

I lost my grandmother last week. When she was starting to get dementia, one of her persistent fears was about being forgotten. I don’t know if that’s just the way her brain reacted to the things she was forgetting herself, or if it was from her own experiences working as a nurse in a seniors home, but I feel like I should honour her memory by writing something even though I’m honestly not ready to do this yet. But I’m starting now anyhow.

Long point lighthouse at sunset. Picture from https://www.norfolktourism.ca/long-point-a-magical-place/

She grew up in southern Ontario, and her dad was the lighthouse keeper in Long Point, Lake Erie. This left her with a lifelong fondness for lighthouses, so when I started traveling on my own as a young adult I would often find postcards of lighthouses or other nature photography to send her. I used to budget some time in every trip to find and write a postcard to her.

She made lifelong friends in nursing school, lived in France and the US as a military wife before coming back to Canada, and raised my mom and uncle in all those places.

A few of her colourful crochet blankets.

Obviously, I mostly remember her as a grandma. She was a talented crocheter and used to make new hats and scarves and mitts for us grandkids every year to match our snowsuits. I should get you all a picture of the crocheted blanket she made for me, an impressive rainbow unicorn blanket that honestly still fits my aesthetic although my bed’s gotten bigger! The picture above is of a rainbow one she made for herself. She also made me So Many Crocheted Toys. She had a gift for designing things herself and did things like make me a Muffy the Mouse stuffy from Today’s Special when I was obsessed and they didn’t merchandise every single Canadian kids show. She collected dolls, from mint-in-box Barbies to random garage sale finds that sometimes she had to clean up and make clothes for.

Nepean Concert Band at Andrew Haydon Park. Photo from https://nepeanconcertband.com

When I was close to finishing high school I joined a concert band that met not too far from where my grandparents lived, and thus started a tradition of visiting every week for hot chocolate and cookies and playing with the dog. My grandparents came to nearly every concert, which was a *lot* of them because the band played free concerts in the park every other week all summer and I was part of the band for more than a decade (up until I moved to the US in my 30s). Thankfully park concerts aren’t formal affairs (see photo above) so you can talk and listen. As I got older, our chats after band practice included more adult topics like investments or politics (a favourite of many folk in Ottawa), or what it’s like to have a miscarriage, or the challenges of living in other countries, or the cold war or what it was like to organize a dinner party in the 50s and 60s. (It sounded SO much more stressful than the regular D&D + dinner nights I hosted with my friends!)

She loved kids and was thrilled to meet her two great-grandchildren (my cousin’s kid and my own), and even though we both live far away, I was able to send my mom pictures and videos to take over to show her so she got to see my part of the family grow in between visits.

I’m lucky to have gotten so many years with her, and there’s probably more stories to tell about her rescue dog that only decided I was ok after we shook hands, and her dolls, and that time she called my mom to tell her she’d been lying about her wedding anniversary date for 50 years. But I don’t think I have it in me to tell those or dig through photos today, so we’ll leave those for another time. She’d had declining health for some years so her passing isn’t exactly a surprise, but it’s still fresh and sad and she’ll be very missed.

Sleep apps for parents

One of the hardest parts of early stage parenting is the sleep deprivation. When you add in a pandemic where “safe” childcare suddenly wasn’t easy to come by, then all time and especially sleep becomes a zero sum game between me and my co-parent. And the whole world is having sleep problems.

Work provided me with subscriptions to several programs to help with sleep as part of our healthcare program, so I thought I’d try them out. I tried out Sleep.io and Headspace. Both were marketed to me as having help specific for parents. Both helped me, but I think *I* got a lot more out of Headspace, and Sleep.io’s advice triggered headaches. Here’s some of my notes on them both in case it’s helpful for other parents or people looking for sleep help:

Headspace vs Sleep.io

Headspace is primarily a meditation app, which includes a number of meditations to help you prepare for sleep, including a course on sleep to help you learn and practice techniques. I initially tried it for a 30 day meditation challenge at work, doing both regular meditation and sleep-oriented content in that time.

Sleep.io is a 10 week sleep course. It’s absolutely filled with known research on sleep and focuses on a few techniques plus asks you to keep a sleep diary so it can help make specific recommendations. It’s also got a big encyclopedia of articles and some discussion forums, but I only read one article and didn’t try the forums at all. I also did my 10 weeks not entirely consecutively because I missed the reminders and forgot. (I probably should have another whole blog post about how badly I am served by most reminders as a parent, but that’s another story for another time.)

I started using both in 2020. I’ve kept up with Headspace because I continue to find it useful but haven’t gone back to Sleep.io since I completed the course.

Parental Sleep vs Kid Sleep

A lot of times when people say “sleep help for parents” they really mean “helping your kid sleep better” but… honestly, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves for kids to sleep well but their bodies are gonna do what they do. I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop my kid from waking up in the middle of the night sometimes (it’s normal for his age!) so focusing on that wasn’t going to improve my sleep. What I wanted out of these apps was to improve my own sleep so I could deal with nightmares and try to minimize insomnia.

Sleep.io had an article about helping kids to sleep that repeated stuff I knew, and most of it was more relevant for older kids. It didn’t really have anything for parental sleep.

Headspace has kid sleep meditations in conjunction with Sesame Street monsters. They’re pretty cute but my kid was so excited about having a video at bedtime that I think they were mostly counter-productive but still kind of fun sometimes. They have some pretty good content for parents, though honestly I found the regular sleep content was more of what I needed for my parental sleep needs.

What worked for me

My biggest sleep challenge was about getting back to sleep after being woken by my child (or by pandemic nightmares), as well as some busy-brain/having to do tasks late at night before-bed insomnia.

Sleep.io contained a lot of information I already knew about preparing for sleep and having a good sleep environment. But it was good to review, and it primed me for noticing when we needed a new mattress so that was helpful long after I finished the course.

Doing the course encouraged me to try changing my pre-bed routines, which is why I seldom write in this blog any more: the screen/brain active time right before bed was noticeably causing me to stay up later than I intended. I’m going to have to find a different solution for writing if I want to prioritize it. (do I? probably. do I want to right now? It’s probably ok if I don’t. I’ve volunteered to do more writing for work so I don’t get out of practice but also don’t have to fit it into my personal time.)

The most mystifying thing I found in the course was their assertion that reading before bed was bad but watching tv would be fine as part of a wind down. I can’t tell if I’m more active about my video watching or just more sensitive to blue light but TV was not a viable wind down for me when I experimented.

Headspace was the real winner here, though: it took very close to the full 30 days of practice, but Headspace trained me to recognize when I was drowsy enough to sleep and help me put my brain into “sleep mode.”

Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to work and for the first few weeks it kind of felt pointless. But with repeated practice I got to the point where the repeated sleep meditation could help me let go, and some of the other exercises like the “noting” one actually did help me stop fixating on stuff right before bed. (It took longer than the 30 days before I could just run through the ideas in my head and get similar results.) I can fall asleep faster after wake-ups pretty consistently now (my biggest issue) and it’s helped with my occasional bouts of insomnia. Not every time, but most of the time I can snap myself out of it and sleep now.

What didn’t work for me

The biggest fail for me was the “sleep efficiency” stuff in Sleep.io. The idea is to improve your quality of sleep by giving up naps and making sure you’re tired when you go to sleep so you’ll stay asleep better. This completely doesn’t work when you have an external force in the form of a young child waking you up every night. Mostly it gave me headaches, so I gave up without giving it the full go because I didn’t want to trigger a migraine.

The other fails were more minor. Headspace leans heavily on a “picture the blue sky” visualization in their early training program. I’m incredibly photosensitive when I have a headache, so “picturing the blue sky” was viscerally painful to do at times. I switched to visualizing a night sky with stars and it was fine. There were a few other visualizations that didn’t work for me unmodified, but aside from me thinking a few unkind thoughts about ableism I was able to adjust them to work for me.

Also, it’s worth noting that while I mostly do the sleep meditations as expected, I typically knit during the daytime meditations. This isn’t my first foray into meditation, and when I last did it in college I found it significantly more effective for me if I was moving (at that time it was mostly walking). It needs to be something simple that I can do with my eyes closed and without looking at a pattern, but knitting helps immensely when I can do it without it becoming a distraction. You may notice I’ve knit more plain socks with self striping yarn in the past year: these are perfect for meditation time.

I also really hated the logging system for Sleep.io. If I hadn’t had the data mostly from my fitness watch thingy, I likely would have given up on logging entirely because the data entry form was such a minor but consistent annoyance to me. I already knew what a minimal amount of sleep looked like thanks to my fitness band’s tracking, though I think Sleep.io might have been helpful there if I hadn’t already analyzed that data myself. I’d tracked this for headaches, so I knew when I was dangerously tired. I also knew that sometimes naps would be required in lieu of painkillers, which didn’t fit into the Sleep.io worldview at all. I would not be surprised to find others find the program a little problematic when combined with other sleep-impacting health issues.

Conclusion

Headspace actually improved my sleep. I felt foolish, but forcing myself to keep up a regular practice actual had an impact and I’m very happy to continue. I’ve also found it very helpful in switching from “parent mode” to “work mode” which is a big thing for me thanks to my pandemic-instigated lack of childcare. I no longer do it every day, but a few times a week I still find it helpful.

Sleep.io improved my sleep minorly at the cost of giving me intense headaches when I tried to follow their recommendations. If you’re not headache prone or simply haven’t spent as much time reading sleep research this program may be good for you to go through all of that, but for me it was only a partial win and I wouldn’t recommend it for parental sleep in particular because of the focus on uninterrupted sleep.

Fiber goals 2022

Fiber goals time! Still more fun than new years resolutions.

Previous years:

  1. Rainbows 🌈 — I’ve taken to trying to find a rainbow project for pride month every year, but what if I just knit rainbows year round? Maybe not *every* project but more than two in the summer.
  2. Advents past 🎄– I have an Indie Untangled countdown from 2020 and a few older things that haven’t been used. It’s past time! I might try one as a 24 week project instead of a 24 day one, or just take over February which isn’t my favourite month anyhow.
  3. Where we’re going, we don’t need patterns 🕸️ — I like designing things for myself but I keep trying to notes and make it reproducible and write up a pattern. What if I just let go of that restriction and just did more freeform knitting and going off script? I like writing patterns but maybe this is not the phase of my life for that. I think this might also help me use my handspun because I can let the materials tell me what they want to be, the way my dad used to describe soapstone carving to me.
  4. Finsh the sabbatical quilt 🪡 — I started a quilt during my 8 week work sabbatical, then spent 5 of those weeks sleeping off my vaccine reactions, among other more mundane things. It was nice to have the break but it was definitely not the experience I’d imagined and waited 7 years to have. Disappointment aside, the quilt exists because I felt like I’d rather have a physical accomplishment as part of the whole less than satisfying experience, and I’d like to get it on my kid’s bed in 2022.

Other ideas

Here’s my brainstorming list of ideas that didn’t make this year’s top 4 cut, but might be fun to try or save for another year.

Squishing the stash — organizing it (and thus literally squishing it all) and also paring it down a bit for space and giving away the stuff I inherited from someone else’s mother in law that I really don’t need. I actually did a toss recently so it’s still a good goal but maybe not needed this year unless an opportunity comes up to give away that inherited yarn. Also, I bought some vacuum seal bags so I might literally squish up a bunch of that extra yarn so it can take up less space.

– other knitting ideas: more beads. More kits. Do a year long project again (maybe with the advents?). Colourwork (though I think that will happen with rainbows) Try unpopular patterns and new designers. Finsh more stuff I started (including my Tunisian crochet shawl!). Finally do that fingering weight sweater. (Maybe as the year long project?)

– Spinning ideas: finally doing my sampler kits, more fluff-to-stuff (aka, actually making more with my handspun)

– embroidery ideas: do that cute necklace kit that seems intimidating, do more of my fireside textiles patreon kits, try embroidery on clothes, finally learn to use the embroidery machine.

– sewing: Start on the first few patterns from The Act of Sewing, make pants.

-other crafts: actually make a go of weaving. Use the glowforge to make more buttons and tools. Do more with the hand cranked knitting machines. Crochet more toys.

2021 Fiber Goals: how did I do?

My 2021 fiber goals were as follows:

  1. Knit something famous.
  2. Self striping stuff
  3. Kits in Stash
  4. Crochet cables

I’d actually done enough to feel like I’d met all of these when I did my August mid-year goals check in. Including finishing many of the goals that didn’t make the cut for top 4 last year! So this is just an update since then and some end of year thoughts.

Most of what I’ve done since then was this one sweater, which was “something famous” and “self striping” and “kit in stash” so it definitely counts:

Me wearing an unfinished sweater.

That’s the Sock Arms Cardigan, knit from a kit from Must Stash Yarn. It’s a delightful pattern, but I accidently used the wrong needle for one arm and ripped that back, then accidentally-ish put in too many body increases and didn’t like the result. So I basically knit it one and a half times and it’s still not done. I had to take a bunch of breaks because it actually started hurting my hands in repetitive strain way! (And I only very very rarely get any sort of pain from knitting, so it was a big concern and I took it seriously.)

Anyhow, I’ve taken the month of December off for advent/countdown calendar knits, so the sweater will be back on the needles at the end of the month. I’m eager to wear it despite how long it’s taking!

1. Knit something famous

Gnomes!

Gnorwen the ice cream gnome
Gnombleberry the Longest Gnight Gnome
Surprise, two gnomes!

That’s 2 gnome knit a longs, and 3 gnomes because the second knit along had two.

I also had been intending to do Wingspan in the fall, but the sweater sucked up a lot of time. Plus I made a cute Halloween knit along hat that didn’t fit into any yearly goals:

All treats, no tricks hat from kit by Jimmy Beans Wool, mashed up with some charts from the Autumn Doodle cowl

2. Self striping stuff

Honestly it was more about the gradients for the last part of the year. I couldn’t resist casting on from Michele’s new book, Brioche Knit Love:

Chai Tea Latte scarf from PDX Knitterati’s excellent new brioche book!

And then I finally gave in to the temptation to get some yarn from Gauge Dyeworks, which has a fancy gradient where you pull from one end to do the heel, and wind off some chunks in between the matching balls for colourwork on these Wildflower Meadow socks. I guess they might count as famous too?

Mom’s xmas socks
If I double-layer my socks with Mom’s you can pretend they fit me.

3. Kits in stash

I did a few more Christmas ornaments from my 2018 Little Box of Crochet advent. I knew I wouldn’t finish them in 2018 because I had a baby, but I’m impressed that I’m still doing a few in 2021. They’re kind of a delight and I’m not in a hurry, though.

The holiday gnomes also used up an old Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag kit, so that was nice. I even found some dpn holders when I was going through the kits! I seldom use dpns (I’ve gotten fond of the small circulars and occasionally magic loop) but I use dpns for gnomes so they can live in that kit now.

Tiny gnome in progress with needles in a cardboard tube dpn holder. Cute mitten stitch marker from my Monarchy Threads advent.

I also did something I haven’t done in a while and tossed my stash to see what I have on hand. I definitely still have a bunch of kits, but I was impressed by how many two-skein sets I’d paired up with no particular plan. I’ve got a huge box of those mostly in one place now to facilitate using them.

4. Crochet cables

Nothing new on this goal. And that’s ok! I learned what I wanted to know. And I learned again with that and the ornaments and the Tunisian shawl that it’s harder to fit crochet into my day, so it’s going to continue to be a sometimes thing around here.

Other

These goals worked out really well, though I’ve still got a few things on my famous knits short list that I haven’t done, and I’ve got lots of kits and self striping yarn.

I’m strangely happy with the state of my stash after moving things around a bit, in that I can almost always put together something I want to make with minimal effort. Digging through it didn’t find as many gaps as last time and left me feeling like I didn’t need to go shopping! Which would be more convenient if it hadn’t happened right when it was time to buy myself some presents (my mom sends money for my birthday/Christmas every year and I like to choose at least one tangible thing to buy from her!). I’m going with the Sincere Sheep Made Here yarn subscription again this year for my year-long birthday present. (Happy birthday to me!)

The stash still needs to shrink a bit, but I feel like that will happen in time as long as I keep knitting. Still eyeing those expensive sock machines to make it happen faster, though!

So that’s a wrap on this year. January 1 I’ll post up my 2022 goals!

Academic notes #1: “‘Passwords Keep Me Safe’ – Understanding What Children Think about Passwords “

This is the first of what might be a series of posts about academic research I’ve read/watched.

Today’s talk is called “‘Passwords Keep Me Safe’ – Understanding What Children Think about Passwords” from USENIX Security 2021.

This is the first large-scale study of kids and passwords and the results don’t seem too surprising (in a good way; you really want this type of study to be a baseline for future research). Children, like adults, don’t always make the best password choices even when they can parrot back the “right” answers about good password behaviour. The perception of the value of passwords changed between age groups in a way that seems to line up with cognitive changes and life needs.

I thought the sharing stuff was interesting. The researchers commented that password sharing starts around middle school, corresponding to when kids develop the sort of relationship where secret-sharing is how you build connection. And sure, that’s not an unreasonable explanation. But I remember sharing passwords in high school and my big motivation was that the school provided no way for us to communicate or share data, so we had to share passwords if we wanted to leave each other notes, share programs we wrote for each other, etc. And honestly, that’s not too different from the reasons adults share passwords: no way to share permissions or access. Heck, even as a full fledged security professional, I have a bunch of shared accounts with my husband entirely because there’s no way for us both to get logins to certain things like our vacuum cleaner. So… sure, secrets are part of it. I definitely didn’t share passwords/locker combos with folk who I didn’t trust. But I strongly suspect that usability is as big a factor as social secret sharing for many kids, unless school systems have gotten a lot more flexible than I remember.

Also interesting to me: elementary school kids tended to use more all-numeric passwords. My pre-reading child only knows the password for keypad locks, which is numeric. Is he going to use that as a password when he gets older? Probably. Do elementary school kids mostly have phone numbers and birthdays memorized any more?

The conclusion was that there was space to teach kids more about passwords, which is probably true, but I found it interesting how much kids already knew about them at a superficial level.

I’d love to see a study on security questions and younger kids, thanks to a group of kids I know who broke into a lot of their middle-school classmates accounts to see if they could. (They were pretty successful and not particularly malicious) A lot of the common questions are pretty guessable at early ages.

I’d also *really* like to see a study on teaching kids to use password managers, since “using one password for everything” was on the list of bad behaviours. I took part in a usability study on password managers ages ago and it wasn’t so good back then, but they’ve improved a lot. I expect I’ll have to teach my kid how to use one eventually… especially if I want him to use the annoying shared robot vacuum password.

Academic notes series

I mentioned in my previous post that I was feeling a bit weird about not really being connected to the academic world any more. I’m still sorting out how I feel about that and whether I have any long term plans, but I thought it might be nice to listen to some talks and write about them. I used to maintain a blog called Web Insecurity where I put public notes about the stuff I was reading but I got out of the habit after I graduated. So this is sort of the continuation of that, updated for “tired mom to a pre-schooler in a pandemic” levels of effort.

Ground rules:

  1. I’m not an academic any more, so I’m going super casual here: I’m going to watch a talk, probably not read the paper, and definitely not do deep due diligence on related work. (I am happy to have people point out interesting related work if you think I’d like it!)
  2. I’m going to prioritize conferences/publications with open access because I’m hoping some of you will read/watch the same things and have thoughts to share in the comments here.
  3. I’m going to do like I do with book reviews and aim for kind. Peer review defaults to constructive criticism but I’m not part of that process in this context so I can just highlight stuff I thought was interesting and largely ignore stuff I didn’t.
  4. I haven’t decided how often I’ll do this or how long I’ll keep it up yet.

It also bears reminding: My opinions and thoughts are not necessarily shared by my employer. This is a personal lifelong learning project and is not part of my day job.

Anyhow, first talk notes coming up in a separate post!

Moving my speaking list from terri.toybox.ca

My website hosting changed on the backend quite a while ago, and I decided to redirect terri.toybox.ca to here rather than continue to maintain it. I have all the data, but the site was written in the age of php when I was a web dev and not a security professional. It was time to let it go. For the most part, I’m ok with letting some old content disappear, but one thing that was useful was my (mildly incomplete) list of presentations, teaching and speaking engagements.  So that’s been moved to the new site now.

It looks like it’ll need some formatting fixes and I haven’t figured out how I’m going to handle storage of old papers and talk recordings so some of the old links won’t work, but it’s a start.

It really strikes me how much I’ve left academia when I can leave my publication list offline for months and it’s no big deal. Okay, not really offline, it’s still on Google Scholar and LinkedIn, but publishing used to be such a huge part of what I did and it’s weird that it’s not? I’d never intended to stay in academia, but I do miss research and publishing even as much as it is a lot of work. I guess I need to spend some time trying to find research and publication opportunities as part of my day job, but honestly I haven’t even had the energy to do more than one talk this year (thank you pandemic, thank you lack of childcare, but also thank you incredibly ridiculous series of hoops I have to jump through at work to talk about security publicly). But I’m listening to industry security talks today and feeding my brain with other ways of doing things, so it’s not like I feel like I’m stagnating, just that I spend more time incrementally improving on best practices and security communication and less time on “novel solutions to novel problems.”

Huh, maybe that’s where I need to go next: research into security communication and practices? There’s so much to do in here but actually getting data that you can track, let alone publish, is an issue. Oh well, things to noodle on for now.

Fiber goals 2021: the rejected ideas

When I did my August check in I’d already achieved all of 2021’s goals. (August goals post.) So let’s talk about the other non-goals I’d talked about first. (2021 goals post.)

1. Spinning Techniques

I did try out core spinning! I only did a little sample but I’ve got plans for more. My real problem is that I’m not sure what to do with the finished fiber. It’s a bit thick for the stuff I usually make. Still fun just to do it, though.

I took part in a plying sample a long via Jillian Moreno’s patreon, which honestly taught me some surprising things about how much I like marled tonals at different ply levels. It turns out I loved the two and three plies a lot, and I even liked my singles more than I expected. I don’t love commercial single ply so I wasn’t expecting to like it at all, but it was ok. I do think I’ll try to go back and do her woolen to worsted one too.

I did get to know (and love) the new magnetic head for my spinning wheel. But mostly I did familiar stuff and that’s ok because it means I’ve got a bunch of handspun I’m ready to actually use.

2. Being intentional about purchases

I definitely did this one. I stopped following a number of larger yarn companies and started curating my Instagram to include more dyers who were part of marginalized communities. I bought more adorable stitch markers and patterns (even patterns I’m not sure I’ll ever get time to make!)

That said, I still have a bit of a stash problem. But I at least don’t feel like I’ve made it worse? And I do feel like I made a few creators who I admire happy!

3. Dyeing

Did some with my toddler. The solar dyeing and the “dye using tree bits” were fun. I’ve got some more ideas here now that it’s cool enough for us to be outside for this again.

4. Craftsy

I wound up using craftsy for quilting stuff while I was on sabbatical, but after that I haven’t made time for it. So I went to cancel my subscription today and… The phone number they tell you to call is a very scammy “you may have already won a gift card…” message and the whole interaction raised all my red flags as a security person when they tried to charge a cancellation fee and couldn’t use my card on file. Not sure if they were hacked or the company that bought them is just a giant scam.

Normally I’d take to social media to figure out what’s up, but Facebook is down today and no one answered on Twitter, so I’m not sure what to do next. I made sure they had an empty gift card for renewal and I’ll try to dig through my email to see if I had a different cancellation method at the beginning. But I anticipate this only ending with a stop payment on my credit card.

I expected cancellation to be a big pain but that is above and beyond. I definitely won’t be doing business with Craftsy again.

5. Embroidery

I did some! Finished my old psyanky egg, made a dent in my xmas trees, and bought a pretty constellation sampler from kiriki.

Haven’t tried to do anything special on the embroidery front, but that’s ok. Glad that I’m still enjoying it enough to do a few kits per year. It’s a very nice break when I need to do something physically different from knitting. I actually started getting sore from socks so I needed some bread time.

6. Design and design tools

I finally made pyKnit, my python knitting math open source/free project. I’ve used it to adjust things, gave a talk about it at Pycon 2021, and had people working with me on it during the pycon sprints. I’m pretty pleased with that!

I’ve got more that I want to do with it, but I’m glad to say that it got to the point of being useful and being in good enough shape documentation-wise that people could help me. Wish I had more time to hack on it, but that’s always the problem with ideas.

Didn’t release any knitting designs, but I did get one put into pyKnit’s examples, so that’s fun.

In summary…

Despite these being not really goals, I feel like I got pretty far on them. My only regret is Craftsy, which I suspect is going to turn into a giant mess because I can’t seem to cancel the auto-renewal properly.

2021 fiber goals: August progress

Not exactly a mid-year check-in because I stopped blogging when the Moderna vaccine knocked me on my butt and I spent a month sleeping while my immune system did its thing. I’m fine now but got out of the blogging habit when I needed more naps. But when you check on after nine months instead of six, progress looks extra great!

1. Knit something famous.

Despite frequently looking at patterns with this in mind, I’ve only knit one!

Fish lips kiss heel socks, knit in Must Stash Yarn Quinceanera.

My one famous pattern is actually only part of a pattern: the Fish Lips Kiss heel. It did require a whole bunch of measurement (and optional math) that I’ll be reusing, and i really liked the doubled stitch style of short row so I’ll be using it elsewhere. (And I may rip back and reknit the first sock because I liked my second sock slip stitch mod!)

I’ve got one more famous pattern in my plans for the rest of the year, but even if I only knit the one I feel like I’ve learned a lot from having this goal by looking at how many people have knit a pattern. A lot of patterns I love and thought for sure would have gotten lots of love only show a few people knitting them on Ravelry! Maybe I need a challenge for patterns that have fewer than 20 finished projects? That would be a great knit-a-long theme if I were in to running those.

2. Self striping stuff

Okay, obviously I knit the socks above, but also…

Knitting machine tube in KnitPicks felici worsted (we made a bunch of these while a friend was visiting)
My own single ply handspun turned out self striping!
Socks for my mom in Must Stash”lavender apple picking”

And I’ve got one big self striping project to come probably starting in September.

Yarn for the Sock Arms cardigan alongside the Knit Happy With Self Striping Yarn book that’s got the pattern.

I’m definitely happy with how this goal has worked out. And I’ve still got some self-striping stash for more to come next year!

3. Kits in Stash

I did two that were full kits with a pattern:

Composition Book Mitts in Knitted Wit yarn
Cassio kit by Laura Nelkin

And a few more that I had yarn earmarked to go together but weren’t explicit kits made by someone else:

Diversity minis by Kitty Pryde yarn, turned into a More Than The Month shawl
I had made my own kit for Pdxknitterati’s beautiful Syncopation shawl out of a charcoal from Anzula and gradient from Fierce Fibers
My Berry Crumble Shawl kit, put together from Yarn Indulgences yarn a year ago. I’ll hopefully have finished pictures later; it’s on the needles now.

I’d say this was pretty successful although I still have lots of stuff kitted up in my stash.

4. Crochet cables

Made a little crochet cable towel

This was definitely the easiest goal! I didn’t do more cables but I got into doing a big Tunisian crochet shawl so I feel like I got some serious crochet in this year.

In conclusion…

I could probably mark everything on this year’s list as done right now! I do have one partially finished project related to the list, and one not yet started, so there should be some new stuff to show at the end of the year, and I’ll talk about whether I did anything on the other ideas I had when I do the final wrap up. But basically, go me!

Algorithms Cheat (PyCon India 2020 Keynote)

Pycon US 2021 starts tomorrow and I’ll be talking about knitting!

In honour of that, I wanted to share a link to the video of “Algorithms Cheat,” my Pycon India 2020 Keynote.

They kindly let me talk about anything I wanted, so I decided to give a little master class on machine learning as an excuse to tell some of my favourite stories about machine learning and artificial intelligence gone wrong in funny ways.

Enjoy!

PS – I do intend to get a transcript and the slides up sometime for folks who don’t love video; if that would be helpful to you I’d love it if you let me know!

Mom socks: lavender apple picking

My mom paid me the ultimate compliment a sock knitter can receive: she let me know that some of the socks I made for her were starting to wear out! It’s going to be a while before I can go do some darning for her, so I cast on another pair instead.

The yarn is from the well-named Must Stash (they do a weekly drop off colours and while they do revisit colourways it can take months so if you love something you kind of have to snag it when you can). I stashed this one with Mom socks in mind because it’s just so beautiful!

The pattern was this year’s Must Stash advent knit, but as you may recall my advent dance card was a teeeeeensy bit full so I didn’t try it but I did put the pattern in my queue for later. It’s the Candy Kisses Socks by Sivia Harding. I loved the cute little xoxo cables:

Okay, the colour is maybe not the best for showing off tiny cables, but they’re fun.

You can tell from the photo above that my mom’s foot and mine aren’t exactly the same size! I don’t mind knitting bigger socks when I know they’re going to get worn, though!

It’s funny: when I started knitting, I thought I’d never really do socks because it seemed like so much work for something you’d wear out. (Plus I lived in New Mexico then where wool socks aren’t always the most desirable.) But I decided to do Socks on Vacay one year and I’ve slowly but surely fallen in love with wearing them. Especially this year where I’m out walking the dog in the cool wet, they’re very suited for our damp winters. They’re just… Really nice? I don’t even know how that happened, but I don’t really mind.

The Dread Pirate has definite opinions about my finished object photos, so this was his composition. Then he did a little dance and I think sang a song about grandma socks. Bringing joy even before they made it to my mom, for sure. 😉

Black light butterflies

I got this cool yarn from Black Squirrel Berkeley that glows under blacklight. It’s called “‘sup witches” and came in a kit with a matching bag:

In keeping with my 2020 goal to do stuff from my queue, I pulled out an elegant pattern called Butterfly Dream Catcher by Lily Go. This is one I’d seen back when I used my Tumblr account.

The yarn is amazing. It looks like a perfectly elegant tonal in daylight and brilliantly variegated under black light.

The pattern is full of twisted stitches that really pop. It’s both charted and written, and it’s well described but the repeats are long enough and the pattern just unpredictable enough (particularly around the top of the butterfly wings) that I had to put in extra coloured section dividers and stitch markers to stay on track. Definitely not an easy knit!

The end result is worth the effort, I think, but I was very relieved that I was doing the small size and wouldn’t need to repeat that last chart again!

Overall, great yarn, great pattern, and a really beautiful knit. And it proved to be the only “smaller shawl” I made from my 2020 goals (and i didn’t finish it until 2021!)

December countdowns and advents

Normally I travel in December, which limits the amount I can participate in advent or countdown type stuff that all happens at the end of the year. But with covid-19, there was no travel to be had, and I might have gone a bit overboard as a result. In the end, I did 3 knit-a-longs and opened both a 12 day and a 31 day countdown calendar on top of that!

BySarahS mystery sock knit-a-long

I did a BySarahS mystery-a-long in May and September and they’re very fun. Simple sock knitting, mystery colours, cute surprises, and a friendly bunch of folk mostly on the other side of the country. This year’s socks were super cute:

Finished BySarahS advent 2020 socks.

And here’s one of the clever extras:

Flamingo paper clip for holding all the little pattern pieces!

This was as usual pretty relaxing knitting at not too much of it, so I knew I’d be able to take on more than one advent thing.

Other great extras: the adorable Christmas Flamingo from WeeOnes, and those fantastic tiny scissors.

Attitude of Gratitude

This was a fun kit from Knitted Wit and Shannon Squire, two of my favourites for yarny things. A rainbow shawl in many mini packages, plus a daily deck of gratitude cards to get us thinking about the good things. I recently learned that my grandmother used to keep a gratitude journal, and while my daily thoughts were definitely not as detailed as hers apparently were, it was kind of fun to feel that connection to her.

I learned that I *really* love some of those rock candy colours that Knitted Wit has.

The finished shawl:

This one has been one of my most worn shawls since I finished it, and I try to think about something I’m grateful for every time I wear it.

ADVENTure Gnome

I loved the summer gnome-a-long but had been planning to read the emails but maybe not knit this one because I already had two advent projects on the go. But then my friend Marlene got me a kit as a present so I had no excuse!

Yarn kit for the ADVENTure gnome

This was more interesting knitting, nicely spaced out, with some story and recipes and stuff. I learned that I stress out too much about variegated colourways in small circumference knitting, but everything worked out beautifully despite my nerves.

Gnome on a shelf.

Symphony Shawl

Since I had time after the two knit alongs ended on the 24th, I also finished my Symphony Shawl. This was a kit from Sweet Georgia that I did as a year long project.

J somehow failed to notice that the shawl was stuck on my fleece when he was taking the picture, but with the toddler and puppy frolicking around it’s hard to blame him. Definitely a good photo to sum up a 2020 project!

Me wearing the shawl

A Twisted Year’s End

This was a countdown to the end of 2020 calendar of minis from a variety of indie dyers, put together by Indie Untangled.

Lots of new-to-me dyers! I’d kind of expected to want to go buy full size offerings, but that didn’t happen because honestly I just wasn’t in a shopping mood by the time their marketplace opened, especially with all the shipping problems folk were having. But I followed a few new folk on Instagram so I’ll no doubt find a skein I’m in love with eventually.

Katrinkles 12 days of tools

This is the one I didn’t post about, because I opened it early in the month and some people saved it for post-Christmas so I didn’t want to post spoilers. Also, to be honest, I was feeling kind of weird about having all these calendars especially in such a year. But these were fun, and I use some of them regularly. Particularly this little personalized box which holds my yarn needle and some removable stitch markers.

And also this yarn width tool which has become my spinning companion.

The Katrinkles and BySarahS packages had matching flamingos. 🙂

Thoughts

I didn’t have too much trouble keeping up with the knitting, but it definitely *felt* like I’d overdone it on the calendars.

I’ll play it by ear next year depending on who’s offering what (and whether I’m traveling again!) but I don’t think I’ll do the Katrinkles or Indie Untangled boxes again. They’re both great, but I think I got what I wanted out of them. I’ll be making less mystery purchases from them both for sure, though.

I’ll definitely do mystery gnomes and bysarahs mkals again, but maybe I’ll skip the Christmas ones next year and do something new? I already skipped the Temperature blanket kit that followed Attitude of Gratitude, but I *did* get a rainbow without planning to do a blanket. (I’m thinking shawl but not ruling out having cute tiny stripes in a sweater or socks.)

Next year I think I’ll stick to one or maybe two in December. But in keeping with the Attitude of Gratitude, I’m going to say that I’m very grateful I could afford all these, that I got to support so many women-owned small businesses in a year that was hard for many, and that I had time to knit and enjoy so many beautiful things.

I really want to design my own daily package kit, too. Maybe one day I’ll do it!

Tiny embroideries

Turns out the blog problem was solved on the app side after I spent all that time poking server settings. Augh!

Tiny pink rose embroidery on black fabric and the start of a red sweater.

Anyhow, here’s some tiny embroideries to test that upload is working ok now. These are from another random chinese kit (multiple sellers have them on etsy and amazon).

Tiny floral embroidery on blue fabric with classic bird scissors for scale.

I made the blue one with slightly more complicated stitches than it called for. It’s nice to be at the point where I know enough stitches to change things up. I guess I should work on some of the bigger kits I have, but these were a nice break while my hands couldn’t take more knitting on the Mando gloves.

Mando gloves

The blog has had some server changes behind the scenes and it accidentally broke the way I usually post from my phone. But while I’m working that out, here’s a recently finished project:

John wearing the Mando Gloves

Pattern: Mando. by Natela Astakhova

Yarns: Studio Donegal Darnie from Black Sheep Fiber Emporium

The yarn is a real winner here because it’s so perfect for colourwork. Very forgiving, blocks like a dream, easy to felt in ends as needed since it’s non-superwash, and the colour palette was perfect for this project.

Palm side of the Mando gloves showing the non-repeating pattern.

This is not a pattern for the faint of heart: I found it easy to get caught up in the chart and miss the written directions (which are NOT “just follow the chart” but have increases/decreases/ribbing). And honestly, it’s just complicated non-repeating stranded colourwork. Plus I somehow managed to hurt my hands in the middle of knitting them and had to take a few days off to recover.

Back side of gloves, featuring a Mandolorian helmet and Baby Yoda

The results are cute, though! I did them to be larger, with no decreases and a larger (US 2) needle size so that they’d fit my husband. I rarely knit him anything but we actually made time to watch the Mandolorian together, one of few adult TV shows we’ve watched (though we also loved Carmen Sandiego, which is suitable for watching with our 3 year old although he’s not as excited about it as we are.) I managed to finish them the week we had snow, so at least they got a day or two of use before going away as spring starts here!

2021 Fiber Goals

As usual, fiber goals are more fun than new years resolutions.

Previously….

1. Knit something famous.

I’ve never knit a Find Your Fade or anything by Stephen West. But I did try something by Casapinka and some Imagined Landscapes Mystery Gnomes this year, and I had a lot of fun! I’m not going to bother to categorize what “famous” means, but I have a few things in my queue I’ve seen shared or knit or just talked about a lot. Maybe it’s time to try a few more things: they must be loved by others for a reason, right?

2. Self striping stuff

I’ve put together a nice little cache of self striping sock, but I’ve been doing sock knit a longs that don’t use those yarns. Time to give that self striping some love. Probably mostly in socks, but I’ve been eyeing that Sock Arms sweater (though I’d have to cardigan mod it). I’ll probably allow some gradients too. I just got a cool book for my birthday to help with this one!

3. Kits in Stash

Revisiting a 2018 goal: I love buying kits and making my own preplanned sets of yarn for projects but I have a habit of saving these for travel, which obviously didn’t work out in 2020 and 2021 isn’t looking so hot for that either. The queue searching this year was really helpful, so I think pulling out some of those preplanned kits (and maybe putting some in my queue if they’re not) might similarly get my mind going. And if I don’t think I’m going to do them, maybe it’s time to earmark some for gifts or release the yarn into the general stash.

4. Crochet cables

I’ve seen a couple of beautiful designs with crocheted cables, and I was sorely tempted to pick up this year’s Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent box because I loved the design. But by the time it came around, I already had two other advent-y things in mind, so I’m putting it on this list instead. There are so many neat crochet techniques, maybe I’ll learn a few more if I get back to picking up my hook!

Other goals I’d considered:

  • Learn some new spinning techniques, but I’m pretty sure I’ll do that without putting it on a list.  Core spinning is the next technique I think I want to play with (not because I think I’ll love it but because I have a batt to use and it seems like a fun thing to try!) I also got some new equipment to learn so I’ll start with that in 2021.
  • I’m also considering being more intentional about what I buy, but I don’t really want to resolve to have a “yarn diet” because (a) no fun and (b) I have money and many small businesses in this industry could use it. But I’m low on physical space in my office for more yarn, so I need to figure out some changes that feed my love but takes up less space and still helps the fiber world. More yarn as presents? Buy ridiculously expensive fancy fibers? Make sure every nth purchase supports minority businesses? Upgrade tools? Buy more patterns? (Ok, that last one is definitely good.) But since I’m not sure how yet, this didn’t feel like a full goal yet. I’ll experiment, I guess.
  • I still want to spend more time on dyeing, since that was fun, but I may stick to food colouring so it’s still toddler friendly. My order of undyed yarn is apparently gone astray, though, so it may be a while.
  • I got the $2.49 Craftsy subscription, so I’m going to explore that some. Maybe learn some dye techniques as well as the spinning I’ve enjoyed this far.
  • I debated an embroidery goal but honestly, I’m kind of happy to just muck around and try to find my style(s). So far I know it involves a lot less satin stitch! Maybe I’ll try to do some embroidery on clothes? Learn to use the embroidery machine a friend gave me when he moved? I don’t really want to put pressure into this one.
  • I’ve got design and design tool goals in mind, but I don’t want to put them on the list because I’m trying to find space in my day for them that doesn’t take away from family time or sleep. Most of my goals I can do without isolating myself (eg, I knit while toddler finishes lunch) but not these ones.

Basically, I wanted to stick to goals that were fun for me without too much deep thinking. So that’s what made the top four. Here’s to 2021!

2020 Fiber Goals: How did I do?

My 2020 goals were as follows:

  1. Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.
  2. A Bit of Brioche.
  3.  Top to Toes
  4. Some Smaller Shawls

By my mid-year 2020 fiber-goals check in post, I’d already done 3 of them and decided that #4 was a silly goal in a year when it was finally easy for me to work on sweaters.

1. Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.

The big work in progress for me this time was my 2018 Little Box of Crochet Advent. I still haven’t finished it, but I made it further and I’m pretty happy with that. I may turn the rest into my year-long project because they’re good palette cleansers, but if I crochet too much at once sometimes I get a cramp in my hands and have to take a while off.

Robin crocheted ornament hanging on the tree.
Crocheted Holly

I didn’t hit the queue as hard, but I *did* finally finish the Aspen Leaf scarf, which was the design that inspired me to give brioche another shot!

Aspen Leaf scarf with real trembling aspen leaves!

2. A Bit of Brioche.

I did petit brioche, then the Heliotrope hat and made it to the Aspen Leaf scarf that was my brioche goal, but I’m definitely not done.

Heliotrope brioche hat

I took a second PDXKnitterari class and started her Syncopation Shawl, which I put on pause to do seasonal things but intend to finish in the new year. I may restart it, though: I’d been thinking about doing the thinnest width but after rescuing a shawl end from puppy mouth today I’m thinking the wide one might be safer to wear right now!

3. Top to Toes

I did a few more top down socks! The top down version of my favourite Sundae Socks:

And two more Made By SarahS knit a longs:

So definitely a success!

4. Some Smaller Shawls Sweaters!

As well as finishing my Pocca sweater, I did a Hazelwood sweater:

And the Stepping Stones cardi:

And I bought some lovely yarn for the california poppy one from By Hand Serial (though I got the blue colour, because having just completed a yellow sweater I didn’t think I was in the mood for a peachy one). It’s going to be my first adult sized fingering weight sweater!

It wasn’t the goal I’d planned, but I’m pretty pleased with how it worked out.

And I *did* cast on for one single-skein shawl, but it got dropped in favour of end of the year knitting, so it may be my first finish of 2021.

Plus, as I mentioned in the mid year update, I did a bunch of the goals I’d considered but hadn’t chosen too. Pretty good for a very unusual year!

I know a lot of folks have had more time for hobbies, but I’m doing a full time job in 4 hours per day and being the solo parent on duty for the other 4. So I’ve got a lot less time to craft than I used to and I spent a month pushing burnout before we got my workload right (mostly I had to drop projects that needed a lot of meetings or weren’t in good time zones, and I took up more training and documentation instead). So I’m really happy we managed to find ways to do things like the yarn dyeing as a family, and glad that kiddo is starting to enjoy more independent play so I can knit and help him build/do/pretend when he wants to do it himself.

On to 2021!

November works in progress

I mentioned in August that I seemed to be doing some unsettled knitting. Fast forwards a few months, and I’m entering a bit of a pattern: one big project for sitting, one tiny project for knitting on the go, and a few more complicated things for my “nights off” (where I’m not in charge of getting kiddo to sleep). Pre-pandemic, I typically had one on the go project and (sometimes) one bigger home project but since they’re both pretty simple right now, I’m enjoying rotating in a few other things that engage my brain differently.

Big project right now is the Stepping Stones Cardigan.

Terri in a harvest gold Stepping Stones vest.

It’s a boxy open front sweater with nice lace detailing on the front, hem and cuffs. The pattern has a lot of options for customization of the sleeves and I really appreciated those. The lace made knitting the body seem not so repetitive.

Books and knitting the front panel.

I love the yarn, which is Arranmore Light from The Fiber Co in the colour Finian. It’s kind of got a rustic handspun 2 ply feel. It’s also unfortunately easy to tear a single strand if it gets caught on something like a zipper or an over-enthusiastic 3 year old who wants to be in my lap. So I got a new tool to help with that!

This is a yarn ball holder from Hansen (better known for their espinners). I’d coveted it since Tina from Black Sheep Fiber Emporium showed me hers, because it is a beautiful piece of engineering: perfect smooth wood, balanced bearings, thoughtful design. But it didn’t fit into my life then. I’m happy to say that it does now!

Small project right now is socks for my Mom.

It’s the usual Sundae Socks pattern with some mods. I’ve been keeping the yarn colour a surprise, but it’s a matched pair from Must Stash Yarn.

More complicated knitting is the Butterfly Dream Catcher shawl.

This is done in this great special yarn from Black Squirrel Berkeley called ‘sup witches. It glows under black light!

Other alternate night off projects: Crochet

I’ve picked up my Christmas ornament advent from Little Box of Crochet. I got this in 2018 and didn’t plan to finish it all in December, but two years later and I just finished day 6. Whoops. But I need ornaments this year and I didn’t before! Probably should have started earlier than November, though.

Spinning

I’m still spinning but less regularly mostly because I’ve been getting paper books from the library and I can’t read those and spin! I need some more audiobooks. I usually enjoy podcasts but they’ve been kind of getting me down lately.

Craftsy sent me an email offering a full year for $2.49 and I’d wanted to try more of their spinning content so I did that and it’s helping keep my interest up because sometimes I watch spinning videos while knitting. I’m still not blown away by Craftsy. The content I’ve watched is good but the site itself makes it hard to find and doesn’t help you keep track of what you’ve watched, which gets more annoying the more I watch. But for $2.49 I already feel like I got my money’s worth out of it, so that’s ok.

Embroidery

I got a cute Christmas tree set from Dropcloth Samplers, but I haven’t gotten much further than the day I took this picture.

Other

I also finally finished a wooden marble run kit I got to make with my toddler (who I guess is more of a pre-schooler now?). It wasn’t the easiest to do with his help, but we got out the washable markers and he coloured while I built. He coloured most of these not just the scribbles, but sometimes he told me I had to help fill them in if he got bored (and sometimes i did the first scribble and he filled in).

I feel like I have so many things I want to do and so little time before December hits and I switch over to the advent style packages I plan to knit. I might have gone a bit overboard on the advent things this year since I won’t be traveling: I got the ShannaJean Gratitude box, the BySarahS Christmas mkal, and I signed up for the Gnome one too. Plus I got the Katrinkles tool one, though that’s shorter and I don’t have to knit anything.

But on the bright side, Mom’s socks are the only ones I actually “need” to finish in the next couple of weeks if I want to mail them off in time for the holiday! And I don’t have to finish any of the advents on time either!

Half the Knit Sky

Pattern: Half the Knit Sky by @pdxknitterati inspired by photgraphic star trails. It’s such a great concept!

Yarn: Gold cache gradient in “Bleeding Heart” from @fiercefibers (bought at @pearlfiberarts) and silver twist in “Good Silence” from @madelinetosh (bought at @foryarnssake)

I always enjoy Michele’s patterns. They’re clever and often have stunningly beautiful results with easy to memorize patterns.

This one I stuggled with a bit not because it was hard but because I was so bad at counting anything over 9 stitches for some reason! Thankfully some stitch markers helped keep me on track without to many further incidents.

That gradient from Fierce Fibers nearly steals the show. I really loved that there were instructions and tips for using as much of the main colour as you could. I don’t usually mind some yarn leftovers, but splitting up a gradient this gorgeous was just not going to happen!

For a while there it matched my much beloved Hydrangea.

I was worried about the single ply (off-white) because I don’t always love it especially with colourwork, but it actually worked quite well in this pattern.

Of course the Dread Pirate wanted to get involved when I started taking pictures. He actually is getting some skills at styling and taking photos. But this time he just wanted to squish that beautiful yarn and who could blame him?

And I even won a finisher prize: a beautiful bee themed needle minder and a lanyard holder that says “vote” in beads.

This one’s going to get a lot of wearing as the weather cools down. Those dreams of clear skies and summer colours are a must for our rainy winters!

Made BySarahS Camping MSKAL

In September, I did another sock knit a long.

This time, I dragged my friend M into it. We’d been talking about doing something a little more epic together for her birthday this year, but then covid-19 hit and birthday in person had to be postponed. A sock knit a long is not at all the same, but at least it was something we could do together safely?

This time was a choose your own adventure sock on a camping theme: the pattern came with a little story about what you did, so you’d choose to, say, eat or swim, and open that package. Plus the colours weren’t the same between kits, so we didn’t have to worry about spoilers.

Possibly the cutest thing in the whole kit was the stitch marker from WeeOnes. I got a squirrel! ?️

We had huge wildfires with smoke during the first week of September, so it was maybe a bit too campfire-y. But with us all trapped in our houses and even mail delivery largely suspended due to unsafe conditions outside, it was really nice to have some tiny packages to open. I let the Dread Pirate open most of mine, though that did often mean I had to share my treats.

Sock 2 pictures below.

Lots of things around me weren’t working out, but this pair of socks was a bit of joy in a hard month in a hard year.

I suspect these socks may remind me of all the politics, the disease, the wildfires…

But also all the extra time with my kid, playing with all the tissue paper and shaking all the tiny yarn.

And also how even in the midst of awful, we found out we were prepared for a lot. We owned bedroom air filters (for my husband’s allergies), we had plenty of food on hand for a week of not going out, and I was doing a knit a long that helped us add some new treats and play to our routine while trapped.

So yeah, another successful pair of socks, but one with so many stories attached. Here’s to resilience and socks!