zenren.me

zenrenme

Im moving my blog. This one will be up, but not updated any longer, through the end of the year. If you have followed me here, please consider checking out the new site at zenren.me. I will still talk plenty about knitting, but also about woodworking, DIY, and a bit about my journey into Buddhism.

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Fluffy Yellow Pom-Pom Hat

img_6774It all started with a big, yellow, fluffy, fur pom-pom. No, that’s not true. It all started when I bought a beautiful single skein of yellow speckled yarn from madelinetosh, and fell in love. I immediately tried to get more of the colorway, but by the time it was delivered and I checked the webpage, it was all gone. All I was gonna get was the 250 yards I had, and I knew I had to make something for myself with it. I decided a hat was in order, but it had to be special. What would make it special? Nothing less than a big, fluffy, yellow, fur pom-pom! Now where to find such a magnificient thing? I went right to etsy, and found many fur pom-poms but it had to be yellow, and bright, and big. Luckily I stumbled upon toptrimming, a shop that sells all sorts of fun stuff fur and trim related. They had it, a 6 inch, fox fur, yellow pom-pom. I immediately ordered one, and then cast on a hat with a simple textured pattern and the wonderful speckled yellow yarn. As expected, the yarn was amazing to knit up, and looked beautiful. I was so excited when I finished knitting, and could attach my pom pom.

I put on this hat and all I could do was smile. A big, goofy, ear to ear smile filled with joy at how much I loved this hat. The giant, yellow, pom pom adds just a touch of almost juvenile, fluffy airiness. Its so light though, that I cant feel the big fluff ball when wearing the hat. I attached the pom pom with a button on the inside of the hat, so I can easily remove it when the hat needs washing.

I have loved wearing it on cold days, snowy days, and almost-too-warm days. Its my new go-to, favorite hat, and Im glad I took the time to knit someting for myself.

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Remembering Baby Blue

October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a special day, because it’s meant to celebrate the short lives of all babies lost during pregnancy, or soon thereafter. It’s a day where I remember the baby I lost 4 years ago. We call him/her Baby Blue, because we first saw the heartbeating on our ultrasound when Baby Blue was the size of a blueberry. About a week later, there was no more heartbeat.

Losing a baby is one of the hardest things Ive been though. Its not just the baby you are losing, but all the hopes, thoughts, and dreams you had for that baby. One minute we were a family of 4, and the next we were again only 3. After my daughter was born I didnt dream of having anymore, I have some health conditions that make getting pregnant very difficult. So when I took that pregnancy test on a whim, and it was positive, well, I was floored. We were thrilled.  It was a miracle. But, it wasnt meant to be. I would get to spend about 8 weeks with Baby Blue growing inside me. Hoping and dreaming, and falling more in love everyday. Then the bleeding started, and the world crashed down around me. I knew. In that instant, I knew. I hoped for the best, but at the ultrasound the next day my fears were confirmed. “Im sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”

This year I was invited to attend a candle lighting at the Garden of the Sleeping Angels on October 15th. This wonderful woman, Nancy, has turned her yard into gardens where she places angel plaques with the names of babies lost among the flowers. Its absolutely beautiful, and peaceful. Baby Blue will soon have a plaque placed in the gardens as well.

At sunset we lit candles, for the babies we had lost, and for all the babies who are memorialized in the gardens. Over 60 babies have plaques there, and each got a candle.

Above are the candles we lit for Baby Blue, and then there’s my daughter, holding her candle for the sibling she will never know here on earth.

I wanted to do something for Nancy, to show her that all her hard work is more than appreciated, but something that the mother’s of angels need. A beautiful place to go and remember, and heal. Of course I immediately thought I’d knit her something. I wanted to knit something with an angel theme. I loved the look of these angel wing cables I came accross, but couldnt find a pattern I liked that used them. So I decided to write a pattern. Im writing it for a pair of fingerless gloves with the cables on the top of each one. Its been challenging, but I have test knit the left glove, and working out the thumb hole on the right one. My plan, if it turns out, is to offer the finished pattern on ravelry for a small fee, and then donating all proceeds back to the garden. Pattern writing is difficult, but I think Im getting things to look they way I imagined. I will post more about the Garden of the Sleeping Angels Fingerless Gloves once the pattern is available.

Visiting those gardens, on that special day, was very meaningful to me. Im so glad that I was able to be there, and Im looking forward to visiting again.

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Knitting Away the Pain

I just had surgery to remove a kidney stone. I call it mega stone. It was about 12x8mm and stuck in my left kidney. The surgeon had to blast mega stone with a laser before he could extract it. Now I have a stent. Stent is no fun at all. Stent goes from my kidney, down through my ureter and into my bladder and causes massive bladder spasms. I cant sleep because I constantly have to pee. It hurts all the time. So Im knitting…

Ive started like 3 new projects in the last couple days, plus I began a couple hats last week that will be Christmas gifts. The hats are fairly simple, so they are great for the mindless oxycodone-haze knitting. Then yesterday, after not sleeping for over 24 hours I started a pair of Charmed Fingerless Mitts for one of my daughter’s fabulous teachers. They are super cute in thos bright pink Tosh DK yarn in coquette:

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The photo doesnt do the color justice, but believe me, its amazing.

Then the kiddo saw that I was knitting ruffly fingerless gloves, and I showed her another pattern I liked and almost knit for her teacher…well the kiddo freaked out over them and I cast on a pair of Belle Ruffle Gloves for her late last night.

Im also working on a hat for my Chemo Angel who recently lost all her hair. Im using the pattern Frais in a yarn I recieved in the Baby Swap on ravelry. The yarn is by Round Mountian Fibers, and I am LOVING how the colors are knitting up:

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Chemo Angels is a fabulous organization where you get paired up with a person undergoing cancer treatment, and your job is to send them uplifting cards, letters, and other goodies. Ive been doing it for years, and I also participate in Senior Angels, which is basically the same except you get paired with a senior to send mail to. I currently have both a Chemo Angel and a Senior Angel and I realy enjoy the program. I encourage anyone reading this to check it out and think about volunteering.

I dont think I will cast on anything more today, as I now have 3 hats and 2 pairs of fingerless gloves going, but I am trying to figure out the Christmas knitting situation. Im tempted to do some more mitts for my SILs, but that would be 3-4 more pairs to whip up. Plus I am working on a baby dress for the current Baby Swap group…

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Autumn, Frostfangs, and a Buttercup.

Oh how I love this time of year. The pretty leaves, the cooler weather, the earlthy smell in the air. Autumn is the best! We were up at the cabin for my recent birthday and the fall colors were just about at peak. My daughter and I went for a little walk down by Little Willow River and got some amazing photos:

In knitting news, I finished my Frostfangs hat!! It was a labor of love for a while there, because I adapted the pattern to work with DK weight yarn rather than fingering weight. This meant I had to cast on less stitches and decrease the number of repeats of the tree pattern. Also, I had to omit some of the rows otherwise the hat would have gotten really tall and deep. I didnt really have a method to my madness, just skipped a row that looked similar to the row before it here and there, and then did my own thing when it came to the decreases on the crown. I think it turned out quite nice though!

The yarn is, as per my usual, Madelinetosh Tosh DK. The pattern is available on ravelry HERE. I did add some pattern notes on my project page describing how I modified my version, but they are by no means complete.

I also recently finished a Buttercup Dress for a swap on ravelry through the group Baby Swap. If you have little ones, or like to knit for little ones, I highly recommend this group. Ive participated in the swaps maybe 4-5 times now and I have never been disappointed. For my Buttercup Dress I again used Tosh DK. The blue is in color way Cloud Dweller, but I cant recall the name of the pink. The buttons are by Buttons by Robin on etsy.

In other crafty news, I saw this awesome plaque made from aged wood and agates glued in the shape of a heart in a gift shop up in Aitkin, MN. I loved the look of it, but the price was a bit high for me. I couldnt stop thinking about it though, and since doing our pallet projects earlier this summer we had plenty of spare wood laying around. When we went to the Minnesota State Fair at the end of August I came accross a booth selling bags of Lake Superior Agates for only $5. I picked one out, and decided to make a version of the plaque myself:

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The wood was re-purposed from old pallets that I sanded a bit then stained. I glued the agates on with some industrial glue Dave had laying around the garage. The paint is just some white acrylic I already had, so the whole project cost me the $5 for the agates. I did all the sawing, drilling, sanding, staining, and gluing myself. The hardest part was putting the agates together like a puzzle to make a nice heart shape. I love how it turned out!

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Knitting A.D.D. is a thing.

The struggle is real.

I can’t fight the need to cast on. The ravelry searches start, hunting for a pattern. I calculate stash yarn yardage against my bank balance – can I get new yarn? Maybe a larger project then… Before I know it I have seven projects on the needles. Thats SEVEN WIP that I am CURRENTLY working on. And I want more

I have this habit of buying 2-3 skeins of a yarn (usually a DK weight) because I like it, not because I have a pattern in mind for it. Then I catch sight of one of these yarns peeking from the stash, and decide I NEED to knit it. Im currently knitting my second project for a baby swap, having already completed one item. It makes me want to knit more baby stuff, so I search patterns for baby dresses, and sweaters. Then I decide that I dont really have anyone in mind for a baby sized project right now, but I like to knit shawls… So I start a search for the perfect shawl pattern instead.

I think I have decided that Tosh DK in Edison Bulb Wash and Holi-Grunge need to come together and create the Douthat Shawl. I have 3 skeins of Edison Bulb Wash, and 2 skeins of Holi-Grunge, so I have enough yarn – and I really like these two together:

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I am still working on the Waiting for Rain shawls. My mom’s is over 3/4 complete, and mine is around 1/4 done. Im almost to the last lace panel in my mom’s robin egg blue version. I havent taken any recent progress photos because its difficult to see whats going on now that its so long and scrunched up on my circulars. I havent casted on my sister’s yet, either. It was going to be too difficult to track my spot on 3 projects with the same pattern at once. I plan to start hers once my mom’s is finished.

I broke down and cast on a hat in some ToshDK I had only bought one skein of called Speckled Yellow (I cant even find an image on google to show it to you). I REALLY wish I would have gotten more of it, but after I got it and saw how amazing it was I went back to the webpage to get more, and it was gone ::sad face:: I just had to knit with that speckled yellow goodness like RIGHT NOW tonight. Im not sure what pattern Im using yet, but I have a couple in mind. I currently almost always do the brim of a hat in K1TBL P1 rib, so Ive been doing that for now. It was a good decision. Im loving knitting this yarn. I love when knitting a yarn makes me happy.

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Springing Forward

The snow has finally melted, and Spring time is here! Since we now have a yard, and a functional garage – that means we have been gardening, and tackling some various DIY home projects.

Last Fall I got interested in using wooden pallets and transforming them into home decor. My first ideas came from Pinterest. I asked Dave to get me a few pallets  – knowing that he had some laying around at work. I knew from my Pinterest research that you needed different pallet styles (they all have different types and quantities of wood planks), depending on what you want to make, but I didnt give Dave any specifics figuring I could make whatever he got workout for the items I wanted to make. Plus, creativity.

Dave did the sawing and nailing, Anela and I did the staining. I am very pleased with how everything turned out.

Pictured above – the wall art piece with mini shelves, and the two large shelves. One pallet provided the two larger shelves, and another deconstructed pallet makes up the wall art. After getting them hung I decided to put hooks along the bottom of the top shelf for my tea cups. I hung thick twine accross the bottom of the wall art and used little yellow clothes pins to hang photos from the twine. Anela painted me the 4×6 canvas with the 3 daisies.

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The boot/shoe racks were a little easier than the shelves because we didnt put any bottom planks on the underside. Really all we had to do was cut the two ends off a pallet, and stain them. These are amazing! They were something I decided to do at the last minute, and I think functionality-wise, they are my favorite project. There is so much more room for the front door to open, and more space to get down the stairs. Our shoes are up off the floor and out of the way!

Another DIY project I whipped up recently is a burlap wreath from my front door. I saw them on etsy, and immediately wanted one – but like most quality hand made items they had a high price tag. Back to Pinterest, where I found a tutorial on how to make my own.

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It was super easy to do! You basically just pull loops of burlap ribbon through a 12″ wire wreath frame. I found all my supplies at Joann’s, and had coupons! I added some yellow tulle to my burlap loops, and I like the look but wish the yellow was more yellow. I will probably add some more yellow ribbon, and possibly different flowers at some point. I think making more of these is in my future, they would make good gifts.

Anela and I have been talking about making a fairy/gnome garden since we moved into our new place last Summer. Last weekend we tore up an area in the front yard and started a gnome garden. She even added a pond. It looks tons nicer than it did, as you can see…

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…and I have been knitting! Unfortunatley I figured out that I had been doing one of the lace stitches in my yellow Waiting For Rain shawl incorrectly, and I figured that out while doing the fourth and final lace panel. I tore the entire thing out, and restarted. I also cast on for my Mom’s Waiting For Rain shawl, in a lovely robin’s egg blue with brown speckles.

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The yarn came from Kim Dyes Yarn on etsy, and its a superwash MCN blend. Its so soft, and squishy, and just lovely to knit with. I am to the second lace short row section on my Mom’s shawl (doing it correctly – I double checked), and almost to the first short row lace section on my yellow one (second attempt).

Im also working on a of couple hats, and I just signed up for another round of the Baby Swap on ravelry. This will be my fourth time (I think) participating in that swap, and I havent been disappointed yet. I am always the swapper that knits, you can also be the swapper that shops. The knitting swappers knit baby items for the shopping swappers, who in turn sends the knitting swappers yarn and other kniting goodies. Its all anonymous though, so you dont know what you’re getting or who its from until you receiev your swap package. Its fun, and a good reason to buy more yarn, and try a new pattern 😉

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