Ravellenics and the other Shaun

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It’s been about a month since Shaun WhiteO-Malley came in the cat door just before the coldest day of the decade. We already have four cats, which we all know is a lot, putting us into the realm of Cat People,  and everyone was trapped inside with the frigid temps.

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The first day, he hid so deep in the basement that none of us could find him. Finally, hours later, Little Buddy’s sharp eyes spotted orange in the furthest corner of the furnace room. He took this photo to prove to all of us we really did have a cat without scaring him too much.

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Not long after, Shaun showed his true, sweet colors by coming to the food and allowing Lil Buddy to pet him.He was so handsome and friendly we still can’t figure out where he came from, but he had no collar, no microchip and no neuter, so we felt that, if he did have a home, they weren’t taking very good care of such a handsome boy.

He yowled a lot the first couple of weeks, loudly, sometimes desperately, reminding me what life used to be like when we had infants and toddlers waking every couple of hours during the night. The first couple of days,somebody got nervous and did some peeing where they shouldn’t (I don’t think it was Shaun).

We had to take out the carpet on the basement stairs and use enzymatic cleaner on the whole basement carpet. And frankly, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to keep him for a little while there. Image

Now his yowling has dwindled to a murmur.  We let Shaun out during the day, and, on days like today, with a biting wind blowing sideways snow, he’s very happy to just duck outside and back in again. Shaun’s claimed several special spots, including the box on the cat stand Belle built and the top corner of the yellow couch. Unfortunately, even though he outweighs all the others by a factor of two, he’s a dogged beta cat, waiting until everyone else eats before digging in and putting up with bats on the head from Squeak with the dignity of a saint Bernard.

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Our handsome orange boy loves to be petted under the chin, immediately flops over for more when you scratch the base of his tail and likes to sit near people when they’re hanging out. Now vaccinated, snipped, chipped and tagged, he seems very happy to have a warm home with plenty to eat. And we’re very glad he came in from the cold.

shaun

Ravellenics

I'm a contiguous shoulder
I’m a contiguous shoulder

It took me longer than I would have liked, but here’s progress on my Argo as of yesterday morning. You know, once Elizabeth explained the general idea to me on a Sow’s Ear napkin, the whole Contiguous technique made intuitive sense to me. Basically, you cast on the right amount for your neck, then knit around a couple of times, identify your shoulder seams (which will be one stitch wide), then increase at those seams every round while doing short rows to create a higher back neck. Similar to raglan shaping, you can increase both for the body and sleeves, or just one or the other as you create the sleeve cap (shown here in stockinette stitch).

I’ll be the first to admit that my short rows are far from perfect here; I’ve pretty much thought of this as a “practice sweater” from the beginning. But I’m really enjoying the technique and really like the way the sleeve looks, more polished than a raglan to my eyes. And I plan to wear this every day around the ‘hood once it’s finished!

I had also expected the main body color to come out darker, but didn’t want to wait the extra time to re-dye the yarn given the close Ravellenic time frame.

you really just wanted to pet me, right?
you really just wanted to pet me, right?

Squeak is helping every step of the way, of course. Even though he’s six months and Shaun’s eight, he’s as always-pumped as Shaun is relaxed like a little surfer dude.

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Here’s progress form yesterday. It goes faster once the shoulder shaping is done! Not sure whether I’ll finish by ending ceremonies, but knitting this one really did challenge me and is proving lots of fun.

A Word About Sochi

This Olympics has been marred by more then one difficult situation and rough edge. I personally am very much in favor of equal rights for all orientations, but in the spirit of international cooperation, have been watching the Games and being part of Team Sasquatch. Russia’s human rights record hasn’t been stellar, but let’s face it, games host China has had some serious trouble on that front as well. But I’ve been a member of Amnesty International since the age of sixteen, and can’t support a nation that openly brutalizes its own citizens for expressing their views during the Games.

On the other hand, we always tell our kids that a commitment to your team is a commitment you keep, so this is my solution. The Ravellenics, as we know, are not officially linked to the Olympics, so I’m going to keep knitting as fast as I can to help Team Sasquatch. No more wearing of my Sochi Olympics shirt; that will be going to charity pretty darn quick. I donated to Amnesty this morning, and will be contacting Russian president Vladimir Putin daily about protecting his citizens from harm.

Finished objects:

Speaking of Team Sasquatch, sweater aside, I actually wrote a pattern, the Valentina Hat, had it tech-edited and published it during the Games. So I crossed the Finish Line in two Hat Halfpipe events for my team!

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Valentina for Belle: finished!

Also entered in Junior Ravellenics

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Valentina: finished!

Also entered in Lace Luge

Both worked in Knitcircus Pachyderm chunky and size 10.5 needles.

Stay warm and stay safe,

Jaala

Love thy Knitting

It’s February, the month of love, appreciating African-American History, and groundhogs. I thought I just saw that it was also National Sock Knitting Month, but can’t track down that source.

There are so many ways to show your love for others, and I hope you’ll be doing acts of kindness to those around you in the next week or two, but now that the holidays are well and truly over and spring gardening won’t start for a while, February is the perfect time to get deeper acquainted with our favorite lifestyle, the knitting one.

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1) Knit something you really want. Now is the time to choose the best yarn your budget can handle and cast on that shawl, sweater or sock set you’ve been eyeing on Ravelry for so long. Forget the yarn that’s been languishing in stash that you feel you should use because “it’s only for me.” You deserve the best. Yarn that won’t pill, a color that looks great on you, enough yarn to finish the project… Now go out and get it. I’ll wait!

If your stash is truly epic and full of luxury fibers, give yourself a little splurge on new stitch markers, a row counter or a yarn bowl. Whatever will give you the confidence you need to try that project you’ve secretly wanted to make for yourself.

2) Challenge yourself. Learning a new technique satisfies like no candy bar can. Whether it’s turning  a heel, crossing a cable or putting in set-in sleeve for the first time, jitters and a mistake or two give way to understanding, then mastery, then you feel like a million bucks!

Then you run into a knitter who’s been wanting to try that technique, and you find yourself saying, “Oh, it’s no problem! Here, let me show you…”

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Of course, the Ravellenics, which start tonight, is the perfect forum to try something new and bathe in the support of literally thousands of other knitters. I myself am poised to cast on Argo, by Svetlana Volkova, and attempt the Contiguous Method of sweater construction for the first time. I’m kind of nervous, but Amy D is doing contiguous along with me, and I’ve read through the pattern pretty carefully. We’ll be part of Team Sasquatch, for any knitting podcast listeners.

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photo:svetlana volkova

If you want to learn a new technique but aren’t sure where to start, your LYS is always a great resource if you have one. Then there’s YouTube: basically, if you type in the name of the technique you want to try, you’re almost guaranteed to find a helpful video. Craftsy offers many online classes from world-class teachers, so that’s a good place to try if your LYS ifs a hundred miles away. 🙂

soon you will be a real hat
soon you will be a real hat

3) Triumph over a WIP

If you’re the kind of person who knits only one project until it’s done, never wavering, then you are amazing, and should clone yourself. You should also finish up whatever you’re working on and see Number One above.

If you’re like most mortal knitters, then you probably have a project tucked away somewhere (or, if you’re like me, about seven in a basket under my desk, where I could pull one out right now). Do yourself a favor and get one of these out of your hair. Remember, deciding to frog the project counts! You still 86 the guilt, and bonus, you now have free yarn for another day.

Did you abandon the project because you hit a stopping point? I have a glove that was going merrily along the cabled cuff until I got to the palm section and needed to actually read a chart. Assess what it would take to get this WIP up and running again. Do you need to add some stitch markers, highlight the numbers for your size on the chart, find of buy a cable needle, or set aside a couple of evenings of quiet time for counting? Get out your notions and your calendar, and make a date to get that project on its feet.

Did you finish it? Way to go! Now refer to Number One, above. 🙂

4) Give it Away

I feel like knitters in general do a good job of this, but there’s no doubt that knitting for people in need is a double score, helping keep someone warm and giving you that deep-down good feeling that comes from unselfish acts. Lion Brand has an excellent list of organizations you can help with, whether it’s warming a preemie’s head, giving a schoolchild mittens or blankets to a homeless family.

Take care, stay warm, and knit like the wind,

Jaala

Embellished Sock Book Winner, Ravellenics and Something New

Thanks again to Charles Gandy and Acorn Creek Press!

The Embellished Sock book winner is: Francis Berryhill! She’s been notified and I hope to have it in the mail tomorrow.

Ravellenics

I was thrilled to have a bit of free time during the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies to watch the livestream (NBC didn’t carry it, but several BBC affiliates did). Incorporating music, high-tech, humor and children’s literature gave the event unique UK-style.

For Ravellenics Project, I’m writing the pattern for a lace /sock weight version of the Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette., using Knitcircus yarn. 🙂

And now, for something new…

Our kitten Friday isn’t the only baby on the property! We received a pot of impatiens as a gift, which hangs just outside our front door. Imagine our surprise when a little brown sparrow decided to make her nest inside. Even more surprising? Today we noticed these peeking out:

Keep cool,

Jaala

Opening Day!

Today’s the day, the Olympics Opening Ceremony! I can’t wait to start my Ravellenics Project at 3:00 this afternoon, marking the official start time in London.

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My husband read the news a couple of weeks ago and reported, “According to this site, Madison, Wisconsin is one of the places most excited about the Olympics.” Apparently, they can compile all of the clicks and article-reading and found that my hometown can’t wait to see people from all over the world swimming, running and spending time together. I definitely did my part; since I was 12 years old, the Olympics have fascinated me. At 12, I was pretty sure that I was going to be a diplomat helping solve the world’s problems as a grownup, and that we would all be speaking Esperanto. Maybe that didn’t quite pan out, but to me, the magic has never faded.

 Seeing citizens of different cultures all together, all working with agreed rules and for a common purpose, gives me fresh hope every time. Seeing the athletes perform, pushing the limits of what we, as a group of humans, are capable of doing, inspires me so much.

 

To everyone in Madison, to everyone in Wisconsin, the United States, North America, and everyone watching around the globe, Happy Olympics!

And to all of you Ravelers playing along at home, may your fingers be swift and your projects exceed expectations.

Jaala

 

Wednesday Book Giveaway: The Embellished Sock

A truly original look at footwear by designer Charles Gandy, The Embellished Sock, Knitted Art for the Foot will give you fun pictures to look at and projects to try! Ruffles, ripples, loops, snakes and tulips are some of the fanciful decorations you’ll find in this book, as well as tips and photo tutorials for techniques like Kitchener grafting and a Crocheted Provisional Cast-On.

 

The 18 sock patterns are accompanied by finishing tips and You Tube videos  to make sure knitters succeed at these over-the-top footwear projects.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of this book, courtesy of Acorn Creek Press and Charles Gandy.

To enter, please comment on any pattern from the book, or any of Charles Gandy’s other patterns.

Winner will be picked by Random Number Generator this Monday evening, July 30th.

Are you gearing up for the Ravellenics? Team Knitcircus is still accepting new members if you’d like to join the fun!

 

 

The Hot New Thing–Now with Ice

Hey, y'all, the blog tour's really picking up speed now–look for a stop every day between now and our big finale February 11th! Then we have to stop and pick up the needles for the Ravelympics, I mean the Winter Olympics.

My love for the Olympics is huge and lifelong, and my new favorite athlete for the Games is snowboarder Hannah Teter; her profile page has lots of family and interesting background info, but more than just her board skills set this woman apart:

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For Teter, winning a Grand Prix, finishing second in a World Cup in the
2006 halfpipe, and finishing third in the 2010 pipe was about much more
than athletic success – it was about a village of people in Kenya who
are counting on her. While she has been sponsoring the village of
Kirindon with the production of her maple syrup for over two years, in
2009 Teter did something new by donating every piece of prize money she
earned to the village in order to benefit the people there with water
filtration systems and the promise of further growth. In 2010, the
halfpipe superstar plans to continue donating her prize money in order
to finish the water project and begin a new task that will improve the
quality of life in Kirindon
.

That's a woman with skills and soul; I'll be cheering for her all the way, and probably purchasing some maple syrup too.

Now, on to the tour; we're going international for this one, up to Iceland with our friend at No Patterns; her photographs of Iceland and of knitting are truly stunning. You won't want to miss this one.