Periscope Broadcast 3: All the KALs

My third broadcast on Periscope has now been uploaded over on Youtube!

Please forgive any awkwardness on my part, I'm still trying to navigate balancing interacting with the viewers with maintaining a coherent broadcast. Thanks for watching!

Things I talk about:

The Importance of Making Time

Sometimes I feel like I am discussing substance abuse when I talk about my knitting.

Think about it. It is one of my brain's primary preoccupations. I talk about it constantly. It is pretty much all I write about in this space. And everyone who hangs out with me knows that whatever we do I'll be bringing knitting. I recently went back to my old workplace to see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in IMAX and one of the girls asked to see what project I had brought.

This really started to hit home when school started. I am gone a good ten or eleven hours a day. Then I need sleep, the apartment should be cleaned occasionally, and there is that husband I have lurking about. Might want to see to him as well. I suddenly found myself with a lot less free time. So ok, less knitting time, it just means I'll have the perfect excuse to put the stashing on hold.

But what I've found over the past month and a half is that it is absolutely imperative that I get some knitting in my day. Because it is not just that I get to work with my hands and indulge in my hobby. It is important for my mental health. The act of using my hands, creating something of beauty, helps to keep me grounded. I can put all of my attention on to something over which I have total control, and that is powerful. It is also one of the only times in which I am actually still. My hands may be moving, my mind may be preoccupied, but the rest of me gets to relax.

The key is finding the time to do this. Luckily I was a graduate student, so I have some experience in finding time when there is none, and I'm using some of my old tricks. Primarily, I am now knitting before I leave for school. I have to leave by seven, so instead of getting up at six and just getting myself out the door, I am up at five thirty. Yes, that is AM. I know, it sounds crazy, but that extra half hour means I get a little time after my coffee is made to sit, watch a podcast, and knit for about thirty minutes. 

It's my own little indulgence. The world is calm and still, and I can sit quietly and prepare myself for the day. That probably sounds ridiculous to you. But that's ok. What's life without its little eccentricities.

What about you? Do you have a time you steal away to knit, or read, or do whatever activity you need to get through your day?

Reading and Knitting: Best Friends Forever

When you knit in enough meetings or anywhere else in public you hear the same question a lot

"How do you do that without looking?"

Um, I'm magic? Duh.

No, but seriously. I hear this question a lot. People are baffled by the fact that I regularly knit while reading on my lunch break, or can keep eye contact during a presentation while knitting a hat in my lap. It was not until I started attending knitting retreats last year that I realized that while most of us knit while carrying on a conversation, not everyone feels confident reading while they knit. 

I get bored easily, and I cannot hold still, so maybe I learned how to do this out of necessity. Knitting by itself was not enough for me, I had to add an extra layer (Or maybe it was my dad's stories of his mother knitting after she went blind. Family legacy is a powerful motivator for me). In any case, by grad school it was the only way I was able to sit long enough to read all of those Khrushchev bios. I am by no means an expert, but here are some tips if you find your hands itching while you read.

1. Be prepared to be slow. This isn't something you are going to learn over night. If you are on a deadline, don't work on that project as you are starting out. Simple garter or stockinette are the easiest while you are reading because you don't want to actually look at your knitting that often.

2. Have you met my friend hardcover? I used to be a paperback girl. You can tell what books I read and reread based on how worn the spine is. Trust me, paperbacks are not your friend. Whenever possible you want to read hardcover because they are easier to hold open without your hands. I automatically select this filter when shopping for used books online and they are often as inexpensive as paperbacks. If you frequent the library, don't be afraid to check out the large print section. Not only is it less strain on your eyes but they are almost always hardcover. Of course e-readers are also great options, but I'm a bit of a traditionalist. Just ask my bookcases.

3. Think about your stitches. Next time you are knitting (just regular knitting not trying to knit without looking) think about how your stitches feel. How does a knit stitch sit on your needle? What type of wrist motions are involved in making a stitch? We all knit differently, which is why it would not do you much good to watch me knit because I can almost guarantee you that our stitches are not made the same way.

4. Practice. Don't try to read and knit right off the bat. Take some time to knit while somewhere quiet, maybe while watching tv, and practice looking away from your needles. I can almost guarantee that I learned this skill because I was watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles and could not be bothered to split my attention. Practice going five stitches without looking, ten stitches. See if you can knit a whole scene or commercial break.

5. Take your time. This is where I remind you that this is not a skill you learn overnight. Just like learning to knit, learning to do it while reading takes time. But it is worth it. I recently read a statistic that 33% of high school graduates never read another book and the same is true of 42% of college grads. How sad is that? Maybe it is because they too have a hard time holding still.

That being said, read any good books lately?

Of Fog and Ice

There is ice everywhere.

I woke up yesterday morning and it was like the entire world had been enveloped by a sheet of ice. The roads were clear, so we still have to go to work, but everywhere else? Ice.

I've been doing some knitting that I'd love to show you. I'd love to show you my January socks for the Officially Unofficial Desert Vista Dyeworks Monthly Sock Club (Oh yes, that's the hashtag too). I'd love to show you the awesome cable on my Chuck. I'd love to show you the sparkly legwarmers I knit while at the hockey game the other night (we won, by the way -- go Canes!). But it is so dark and gross that I have no hope of getting decent pictures. So instead, here's a picture from when I attempted to free my car from ice.

These mitts were the best knitting decision I have ever made. There is something to be said for colorwork. It sure is warm! I spent probably ten minutes scraping my car and my only thought was that I'd like to put a button on the palm to hold the flip tops closed. I have a pair of O.W.L. Mittens languishing on the needles that I will now have to get moving on.

Man, weather. It's quite the motivator.

Caffinated Flax

Is there anything quite so motivating as the arrival of cold weather?

When I made my sweater goals, they were not really time sensitive, yet here I am with a finished WIP within the first ten days. How cool is that!

By now I am sure you have seen a ton of Flax FOs. But let me just add this one to the pile. I knit mine out of Plymouth Yarn Coffee Beenz in what I'm calling the Mint Coffee coloway (it's a string of numbers, I don't remember which ones). There has been a cozy sweater-shaped hole in my library that Flax filled perfectly. Cold rainy days in my pjs, chilly walks with the dog, or an extra layer of warmth on my way to work.

The thing about the cozy sweater that I often forget is that there is no shaping. No increases for the bust, no decreases for the waist, just a straight knit from the sleeves down. That made it perfect for social or commuter knitting, but this sweater will never be a fashion statement, and that's totally ok. Though I am getting that extra fabric where the sleeves start that everyone talks about. I just did not want to dedicate the brain power to finding a way around it.

In case you didn't know, the Plymouth yarn is actually a 75% acrylic blend, something I've actually never used for sweaters. This shouldn't be a problem, it is very soft and lovely, but I knit this like a wool sweater. I knit the sleeves to almost where I want them to be and then they stretch a bit in blocking. Not these sleeves. I think they actually shrunk up just a bit to 3/4 rather than bracelet. I have enough yarn left to rip back and lengthen the sleeves, but that will have to wait for warmer weather. Right now I'm too busy wearing it to change things.