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Sunshower Shawl

Y’all, despite the craziness of my life of late, I have managed to complete another knitting project!

I present to you my Sunshower Shawl (also known as the City Tweed Dropped-Stitch Shawl).

I saw this pattern while shopping for new needles on the Knit Picks website and fell in love immediately. The link for the pattern is here.

Knit Picks CotLin Color #27872

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate the color, which reminded me of my favorite Cornflower Blue from my childhood crayon box? So pretty!!

I also loved the dropped stitches that were clearly evident in the picture on Knit Picks’s website. Swoon!

Oh, and that fringe got me too, although I was not looking forward to making it. Fringe is a pain in the rear end to make.

The yarn, CotLin Reflections, was an absolute dream to work with. I’m not usually a fan of knitting with cotton, and I was concerned that my finished project wouldn’t look as nicely as the one on the website.

My worries were for naught; I could see the drape early on, pre-blocking. The blocking made it even better though.

I wound up using only 1.25 skeins – roughly 310 yards. The shawl can be made as large or as small as needed. I used size 8 needles, a perfect choice that kept the stitches loose.

Now, I’ve got to tell you something about the pattern. I always research the heck out of a pattern before I start it. I want to see if people encountered any problems, how much yarn it took, and the needle sizes people used. When I was confident about this particular shawl pattern, I printed it and ran with it.

Things went well until I was almost finished. I noticed something strange. You see, for the first half, you’re increasing stitches. The second half requires you to decrease. This is how you create the shaping. Well, since I’ve been knitting since 2006, I’ve learned a thing or two, and things just didn’t look right. Something in the pattern had bothered me – just didn’t seem right – but I had plodded on despite checking online. Well, after the shape looked so strange near the end, I dug deeper into my research.

That’s when I found a BIG mistake. I guess somehow, I had downloaded an OLD copy of the pattern. I found a link for a pattern download and compared notes. The second copy had corrected the mistake, which would fix, once I took out HALF of the shawl and reknit it, the mistake.

Sigh.

By then, I had the pattern memorized, so I flew through it.

I had to do more research about how to make the fringe, which involved unraveling part of the project. I chronicled my progress on Instagram – hence the comments on the photos.

What fun! I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and the fringe involved NO cutting or measuring to keep things even.

When I blocked the shawl, I pulled each string in the fringe to straighten it. The result was worth the effort.

This is going to be the perfect summer shawl – not too heavy but just right for a breezy evening.

Christmas in July?

Last week, I finished a project I’d started back in April or May…Heartwarming Stockings…a kit I purchased from Knit Picks.

I’d made a set of these stockings for the Mr. and me last fall.  When Rooster got engaged, I offered to make his girl her own stocking, which she eagerly said yes to.  Then, I decided to make Rooster a stocking as well so they would have a matching set.

I had almost enough yarn left over from my first set to make this set; however, I had to order a couple of skeins of yarn for Rooster’s girl’s stocking, so I cast on his while I waited for her yarn to arrive.

The great thing about this pattern is that you can customize it.  The pattern has a template, and you pick from various patterns offered for each section.  Rooster’s girl picked out everything, and I went from there.

When I finished Rooster’s stocking, I got to work on his girl’s.

I absolutely love the flowers on this stocking.

When I finished, both stockings got a lengthy bath to ensure that every fiber was soaked through.

Then, I blocked them.

I don’t know if you get a sense of how large these are just from looking at the photos.  I had written down the measurements, but I’ve lost the paper!  Ha!

Rooster’s girl asked if I was going to line them.

I said no, because I didn’t know how, but then I started thinking.

And I started Googling.

And after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I decided that I’d give it a shot.

After I took some measurements, I went to JoAnn Fabrics.

The colors I selected looked great; however, I should have taken a stocking with me, because I made a novice mistake and didn’t double my measurements (hello, this would be an inside lining…like a tube…hence double the amount of fabric required).

Money wasted.

And time.

Ugh.

By this time, Rooster’s girl had come to the house.  I can’t remember what we were doing, but she wound up running with me back to the store, where I got the correct amount of fabric.

I traced around each stocking with a permanent marker, giving myself about a half-inch extra space all around.

Now, I had the bright idea to use my sewing machine to stitch the two halves together.  I’d used my sewing machine, obtained as a gift from a yard sale eons ago, maybe once or twice over the years.

It’s a handy thing…folds down underneath the table.

This thing was d-i-r-t-y.

Look at all of that dust!!

Once I got it plugged in, I made sure it worked by turning on the light.

I got out the manual to make sure it was threaded correctly from the top and ran into a problem when I couldn’t get the bottom bobbin to thread properly.  Maybe my thread was too old…it did keep breaking.  Regardless, I spent at least an hour trying to get it to work before throwing up my hands in surrender.

I’d do things the hard way, thus continuing to live out my mom’s words from years ago…”If there’s a hard way to do something, you’ll find it.”

So, I got out my needle and quilting thread and used a whip stitch to stitch both halves together.

Then, I stuffed each lining into its respective stocking and stitched around the top of each stocking, just under the i-cord.

I was actually really pleased with my small, somewhat even stitches.

When all was said and done, I had two lined stockings.

I am so honored that Rooster’s girl allowed me the privilege of making something so special to commemorate what will be their first Christmas together as a married couple.

 

Big Island Wrapper

Summer vacation…it is so wonderful.

I’ve been splitting my time up into chunks — working out — running errands — reading — knitting — napping — watching TV.  Not necessarily in that order either.

My knitting.  Oh my.  I’m working on something for Rooster and his girl, but I had to order a skein of yarn for it, so I cast on a new project, Big Island Wrapper, on June 18th, using Knit Picks Billow yarn.

First of all, can we all give a big hallelujah for Ravelry?  I always research my projects beforehand…looking for errata and suggestions from others to make knitting each pattern easier.  I found out that there were several mistakes in the pattern.

Whew!

The connection sections can be knit a couple of different ways.  I didn’t like the look I was getting with the original way, so I tinked back and reknit, using the suggested changes posted by others.  You can read more specific details on my project page on Ravelry.

The yarn was easy to work with, although I didn’t like that it was thinner in some places than others.  It’s cotton, which I don’t usually knit with, so it’s heavier, but I like the way it slid through my fingers and off of the needles.

It was a fast knit, and before I knew it, I was giving it a bath.

Then, I blocked it.

I love the look of the netting stitch in the orange section.

I bound off using a picot edge…a lovely touch that beats adding fringe any day.

This is not the usually airy shawl that I’m known to make.

The heavier cotton gives it a solid drape.  It will be warm in the fall.

I am pleased with the way it turned out and the color scheme.  The palette is appropriate given my proximity to the ocean.

This shawl will probably be another favorite!  I look forward to wearing it in a few months.

While I Was Gone…

Lordy, but every time I write a post, it seems as though I’m apologizing!  My blogging…it just sucks right now.

Enough with that, though.  I’ll offer up no excuses.  It is what it is.  I’m choosing to spend down time not on the computer and, instead, watching television, knitting, and reading.

Anyhoo…

The burning question, if you’re not a friend on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is:  What has Auburnchick been up to the past few weeks?

Well, let’s see…

I’ve been doing a LOT of teaching.  With this being December, we are hot and heavy into all things reading.  My kiddos are working hard on grammar, fiction reading, and main idea (our current unit).

Things are going swimmingly.  I’m extremely happy with my classes this year.  I’ve had fairly minor behavioral issues, and I’ve experienced a few surprises.  My students have been incredibly cooperative and trusting, allowing me to lead them in all things reading.  They don’t always like that I’m strict, but I think they understand that I’m consistent, firm, yet fair.

One thing I’m doing a better job at this year is balancing my life.  I’m lesson planning one night a week from home and getting the rest of my work done at school.  These purposeful decisions have allowed me to spend more time on myself and my family.

Probably the thing I’m most proud of is my fitness quest.  After jokingly being called “thick” by a student last school year, I made it my mission to take care of my body.  You know I started working out this past spring.  I worked out with weights this summer but tapered off when school began.  The start of the school year is when most teachers drop into a black hole.  It’s brutal setting up new classes…new routines…new everything (because the state of Florida constantly changes things).

That’s when I started working out from home with Beachbody’s Piyo program.

The diet plan and workout schedule helped me so much.  They provided the structure I desperately needed, and when I finished two months after starting it, I was fourteen pounds and 7.25 inches leaner, stronger, more flexible, and in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time.

I had seen a friend (a former teacher who I used to sub for who is now a full-time Beachbody coach) and her posts, but I’d resisted.  I’m completely sold on these programs now.  They work, if you have the self discipline to follow through (which I do, as you know, because I am the poster child for being an overachiever).

I love the free shirt I received after I uploaded before/after photos on Beachbody’s website…

The back of this shirt says it all.  I sincerely feel as though I have redefined myself.  I’ve developed healthier eating habits…keeping up with my portions in MyFitnessPal, a free app, and exercising nearly every morning.  Working out at 5:15am (thus getting up at 4:15am so I can read my First5 devotions) is sometimes challenging, but I’ve seen the payoff, and it’s totally worth it.

I have re-instilled the confidence that had slowly eroded away over the past few years, and I’m finding it a joy to pick out clothes each day.  They fit so much better now, and I’m getting into pants that had gotten extremely tight last year.

I jumped right into a new workout after “graduating” from Piyo.  I’m currently four weeks into TurboFire, which is an intense cardio program.  I selected it with a goal of burning the subcutaneous fat from my abs.  It’s lingering, despite the ab muscles I developed through my previous program.

TurboFire is no joke, let me tell you.  When I do the 40-minute workout, I burn nearly 400 calories.  It’s crazy, but I’m loving it!  Chalene Johnson is extremely motivating (and no, I’m not getting paid to say this).

Oh hey, do you like that picture up above?  Well, let me tell you about THAT.

See, with me getting into fitness and doing my first 5k in October, I started wanting a fitness watch.  After doing a LOT of research, I found one I liked and told the Mr. that this is what I wanted for Christmas.  He asked if I wanted to wait to get it, and I decided that no, I did not.  I even had a Best Buy coupon that was going to expire, so he let me order it.

I decided to get the Garmin Vivoactiv.

This arrived on my doorstep right as we were leaving for dinner. I had separation anxiety and took it with me…hence the restaurant menu.

I went back and forth between this and the Apple Watch but ultimately decided on this because of a few of the features it offered that the Apple version did not.  It’s also a watch that I thought would fit on my small wrist much better than the Fitbit Surge, which I’d read was fairly large for people with uber-small wrists like mine.

Being the techie that I am, it didn’t take me long to set it up and download widgets.  Don’t you love the clock I set up in the picture above?  It’s animated; the dog wags its tail…totally worth the itsy bit of extra battery it takes to run it.

Speaking of battery, this thing only requires a charge every 10-14 days…no kidding!  I have it connected to the GPS, and it still lasts FOREVER!  I love this thing and wear it CONSTANTLY, except for when it’s charging.

Things I like about it…

It connects via Bluetooth to my phone, so I receive various notifications on it.  I can read text messages, get weather updates, and even view calendar notifications on it!  I cannot respond to or generate any communication from it, but I can answer phone calls though it!  No, I can’t talk through it, but I can press an answer button it, and my phone will pick up!  It also has the capability of setting alarms, which I love!  It vibrates when it goes off, which is much less irritating than my regular alarm sounds, which I eventually ignore.

I love the step counter and derive much pleasure when I reach my goal of 10,000 steps.  A party goes off on my wrist when I do with the watch vibrating and displaying fireworks.  I do the happy dance every single time this happens.

Please excuse the random photos below.  They were not taken the same day, but they are various screen shots from the Garmin Connect app on my phone and photos of the watch’s widgets, so you can get idea of the data you can view.

Fireworks on my wrist…

Caloric breakdown…

It also connects to the app, MyFitnessPal, so all of my calories are updated seamlessly.  It keeps track of a variety of exercises too!  I’ve been extremely pleased with it.

Knitting-wise, I’ve been busy.  Here are a few pictures of things I’ve completed (I’ll try to post soon with specific details)…

Hearwarming Stockings for the Mr. and me…

The Mr.’s stocking

My stocking

I’ve made a few baby hats…two for a former student’s twins, and two for a friend’s grandson…

The yarn is TopThis, and it is FABULOUS to work with and comes in a large variety of animal themes!  It’s relatively inexpensive, so it makes for lovely gifts, should you choose to order it.

I’m currently working on a very large project…my Oakwood Poncho.

Thanksgiving rolled around, and the Mr.’s parents treated us to a Western Caribbean cruise.

Packing was a bear, let me tell you.

I’d created a plan for myself that week…trying to balance work and packing…and it was a relief when I finished everything with a minimal amount of stress.

It was a wonderfully-relaxing week that I’ll share about in some future post.

Getting back from vacation was not so much fun.  I got sick that Tuesday and had to take two days off of work.  I’d thought I could persevere, and I even went to work that Wednesday and attended a meeting before school.  However, I started crying toward the end of the meeting because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to make it through the day, and my friend/department head told me to ask one of our school’s secretaries if she could find a sub to cover my classes that day.

Cindy, sub extraordinaire, filled in with the subs that were already scheduled to work at our school, and after quickly creating lesson plans, I left school.  My poor first period class…they saw me crying, and my heart nearly burst when a couple of the girls teared up themselves.  I think it was hard for them to see me incapable of being the stoic teacher that I usually am.

I put in for a sub that night because I knew I was still too sick to go in the next day, and when nobody picked up, my fellow reading teachers filled in the gap and absorbed my students into their classrooms.  Reading teachers are the BEST!

I’ve been fighting the crud for over two weeks and think I’ve FINALLY turned the corner.  It’s taken LOTS of prayer and the preparation of homeopathic remedies.  I’d been unable to work out for two weeks and just got back into my routine this week.  This is the sickest I’ve been in about four years.  Not good stuff, let me tell you.

CVS remedy…

I googled for my own remedy (and have discovered that I do NOT like honey and am only consuming it because it’s supposed to be good for sore throats, which I STILL have…)…

My first workout after a two-week hiatus…

Despite being so sick, I managed to get most of January’s lesson plans written.  I especially wanted to get the first couple of weeks finished so I could go into Christmas Break without work on my mind.

 

Speaking of Christmas Break, I am now officially on my two-week vacation.

This was me, this morning, after my challenging/invigorating 40-minute workout.  Because I’m still recovering from the crud, I had to transform high-impact moves into low-impact ones (i.e. no jumping and less jogging/running in place).  I still burned a TON of calories and was ready to head into my school’s early release day…

Leaving school…well, I don’t think there are enough memes to show what I was really feeling.  My watch and this selfie tell the picture best though…

After I ran a few errands and grabbed lunch to go, I settled in for a two-hour nap…more recovery time so I can continue my quest for full healing from this horrid crud I’ve had…

That’s about it from my corner of the world.

I always say I’ll blog more, but I know I can’t promise.  My priorities are shifting; turning on my computer on my “off” days is less important.  Spending time unplugged (except for my phone) ranks near the top of my list these days.

However…I miss my writing and long to return to it more consistently.

We.  Shall.  See.

A Yarn Treat

I received the new Knit Picks catalog in the mail early this past week, and as I flipped through the pages, my attention was drawn to one kit in particular…

That, my friends, is the Heartwarming Stocking Kit.

Oh word, but I just knew I had to have it.  The Mr. once asked if I would knit some stockings for the house, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity…especially since the kit was on sale.

I ordered it, and my box arrived today…

I eagerly dug in…

Isn’t it pretty?

Take a look at what you see when you turn the bag over…

Oh, yarny goodness!!!!

I didn’t dare open the plastic wrap to touch the yarn in fear of totally losing my wits and forgetting that I had lesson plans to write.

The plans have been finished, and I have one day of fun before the week begins (along with another ESOL class).

I have decided to play with yarn on Sunday.

No, I will not cast on, because I have two other projects going.  However, I will cradle the yarn tenderly, loving on it…holding it close to my face…dreaming of when I can put the first stitches on my needles.

The colorwork scares me, but I’ve got some time to get over my fears.

I have much to do in the way of real life work and such.

Still, the joy from the yarn treat, though a bit frivolous, will linger, giving me something to look forward to when things slow down.

Chinook Lace Shawl

A couple of months ago, I purchased the Chinook Lace Shawl kit from Knit Picks.  This kit included the yarn and pattern I would need for the project…

Because I was so busy with my EPI classes, I did not get to cast on until June 2nd.  I figured that even though I was still working on my classes, I deserved knitting breaks…being so close to the end of my program.

After I finished my classes, two weeks early, I devoted most of my evenings to finishing the shawl.

See, I am a monogamous knitter…meaning that I usually do not cast on more than one project at a time…unlike my friend, Christina.  *cough*

By the time I started working on the edging, I had over 1,600 stitches on my needles.

Did you just faint?

Yeah.

I wanted to as well.

The bind off took me six hours to finish.

I’m not exaggerating.

Near the end, the unthinkable happened.

I ran out of yarn…with two triangles left…

I was not happy.

I have big plans for this shawl, you see.

I debated what to do.

God intervened (He’s good like that…even to knitters).

He reminded me that I have a substantial stash of yarn scraps.

I dug through my closet and pulled out what remained of a skein the Regia yarn I had used for my Guided By Love socks…

The color wasn’t a perfect match, but it was close enough to suit my needs.  I figured that I would be the only one who noticed or cared.

So, I finished the shawl and gave it a bath.

The blocking was easy…

As you can see, it took up my entire dining room table, which is quite large.

I got a lot of ribbing about the size.  Chicky’s Guy Friend suggested that it was perfect for a pregnant woman to cover her belly.

I reminded him that he has yet to ask my permission to marry my daughter.  I’ll get my revenge when he does.

Anyhoo…

I allowed the shawl to dry for two days and then had myself a photography session, complete with tripod and self-timer…

Yes, it is quite large, but the blocking opened up the fibers of the yarn, allowing the shawl to be thin and drape nicely across the shoulders.

I love the fact that I can wrap this shawl completely around me.  It’s going to keep me very warm on chilly days…

Here’s a close-up of the stitch pattern, which was deceptively easy…

Now, let me explain what I think is the reason for my running out of yarn at the end.

This pattern calls for the knitter to go up in needle size when completing the border (the triangles at the bottom).  Well, I’m already a loose knitter, so when I went up in needle size, I think my fate was sealed.  I do not believe that most people will run out of the given yarn.

Besides, I always like to do things the hard way…or so my mom always told me.

If you’re looking for an easy knit, I highly recommend this pattern.  Not only does it come in the earthy tones, but it is also available from the Knit Picks site in a green/blue/purple kit.

So, what will I be cooking up next?

Well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

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