A Burgeoning Obsession: Fingerless Mitts

I used to think that fingerless mitts and gloves were, well to be honest, weird.  I just didn’t get them.  I mean, why make, buy or wear something that only did half a job??

Oh, naïve Me.

I knitted my first pair of fingerless mitts despite these ill-formed beliefs primarily because I didn’t feel quite ready/skilled enough to knit a full pair of gloves and wanted to practice a bit first.  Needless to say, once I knitted them, I realized how deluded I had been.  Fingerless mitts are fantastic!  I just finished making my third pair (my favorite so far) and I can’t get enough.

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Not only are they just plain fun as a fashion accessory, but they actually do a complete and wonderful job – it’s just a DIFFERENT job than the one full gloves or mittens do.  I’ve mentioned before that I have Raynaud’s Phenomenon.  It’s an awful thing and even when I’m indoors at work, my fingers, while not in full-on Raynaud’s dysfunctional immobility mode, are still quite cold.  I tried wearing gloves in my office, but typing became a bit problematic.  After fumbling with my keyboard and typing words with so many errors that they didn’t even resemble English, I knew gloves and work were not going to co-exist harmoniously.

Enter fingerless mitts.

Now, obviously, they don’t cover all parts of my fingers, so I still have some cold and discomfort, but the additional warmth on the majority of my hand really does make some difference.

Plus, they’re fun to knit.  Many knitters have favorite things to knit.  Some knitters always have a pair of socks on the needles, others live for hats.  At least for right now, these are my becoming my go-to project.

These newest ones are made from the Pine Court Mitts pattern by Shannon Squire.  It’s a fantastic pattern and, even better, written by the owner of my very own local yarn store, Twisted, which is an amazing LYS.  They’re not too chunky, which I like, and the cabled detailing is enough to make them interesting and fun, without being too busy on the eyes (hence not detracting from or clashing with whatever I might be wearing on any given day).  I used a beautiful random yarn that I picked up in a clearance bin.  The bit of cashmere in it makes it unbelievably soft and cozy on my hands and the variegated grey colorway is endlessly versatile.  Frankly, I couldn’t be happier with these.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m not eager to cast on the next pair!

My Weekend In Pictures

My new flex schedule at work provides me with three day weekends twice a month.  I’m loving the extra time and here’s some evidence to prove it!

A lovely little tea service.  Followed by a delicious cucumber sandwich.

Working fast to get caught up with my fellow knit-a-longers on the Holla Back Tank.

Time spent in the kitchen for blueberry jam and plum muffins (recipes to be posted soon).

A trip to the Farmer’s Market.

And an evening chopping veggies for Samosa Wraps.

Plus, a great long run and ordering yarn for another knit-a-long (more on that to come)!

My First KAL (Knit-A-Long)!

I haven’t been mentioning knitting because I’ve been in a knitting funk.  After have some difficult weeks involving repeated trouble starting a new project, my darling cat attacking my current project, and general life busyness that got a bit overwhelming, I needed some time off.  I’ve been looking at yarn longingly and sighing when I see beautiful patterns, but I just needed the right thing to get back my knitting mojo.

Enter: my first KAL. 

While KALs are quite popular, I’ve never participated in one.  There’s always been an issue.  The yarn was too expensive, the pattern too intimidating, the timing was bad, and so on.  But, I have finally found the one.

I’ll be starting the Holla’ Knits first KAL today.  Well, hopefully.  My yarn hasn’t arrived yet, so I may get off to a delayed start, which makes me more than a bit nervous.  I tried to be responsible and waited until I had the money to order the yarn, rather than just order it immediately, and now look where that’s gotten me!  I do expect, though, that my yarn should arrive today or tomorrow – so hopefully I can catch up and my KAL mates won’t be too disappointed in my tardiness.

The pattern is the Holla Back Tank.  It will be my first attempt at knitting a sweater of any kind and I think it will be a great place to start – no sleeves!  Plus, having the support and guidance from other knitters in the KAL will surely be helpful.

There were two recommended yarns for the KAL.  I opted for the more affordable option, as budget is a concern right now.  Besides, I’ve always had good luck with Knit Picks yarn, so I think it will work nicely.  I’ve ordered the Stroll Sock Yarn in Midnight Heather, which I think will be quite fetching.

Pictures and updates to come as the KAL progresses.  I really hope this helps get me back in the knitting groove!

And, please cross your fingers that my yarn is waiting for me when I get home today.  I haven’t even swatched yet!  Eek!

Photos From Holla Knits.

Here Is To Long Weekends and Letting the Creative Juices Flow!

I wish every weekend was three days long.

I know, I know – I’m sure pretty much all of you wish that, too.  I do realize that I am not alone here.  But I must confess that I have a problem – a serious problem.  You see, I’m a bit of a relentless, obsessive task master for myself and on any given weekend I will likely have created so many pseudo-important jobs for myself to complete that I have little time to relax (something I’m bad at by nature) and I end up harried and frazzled by the time Sunday night rolls around.  When a three day weekend rolls around, however, something almost magical happens.  That extra day gives me time to do all the stuff that I feel I need to, plus have some frivolous fun time, too.  This long weekend has been no exception.  I’ve been busy, but I am pleased to report I’ve done some pretty fantastic and relaxing creating.

I continue to surprise myself with how much I enjoy creating things.  Until recent months, I never considered myself to be a creative person.  In fact, I thought of myself as quite the opposite.  If asked to describe myself, I likely would have included terms such as left-brained, analytical, and generally unimaginative.  For so long I associated creativity with the likes of high school art class – painting, drawing, chalk, and magazine cut-out collages.  (By the way, I was REALLY bad in high school art class.)  This belief about what constitutes creativity was one of the few ways in which I was so very close-minded.  Happily, I have recently discovered that creativity emerges in a multitude of ways – many of them having nothing to do with a sketchpad or easel.  For me creativity has been manifesting in baked goods, knitting (of course), sewing, liqueur-making (yum), and bath scrub (yes, bath scrub).  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1)      Crafting

Who knew I would ever be a modern crafter?!  But, I am – proudly.   There is, of course, my knitting.  I am currently starting on holiday gifts (I know it’s early, but I’m a planner) and I hope to get my TARDIS shawl cast-on tonight.  I’ve been positively itching to get that shawl on my needles.  Allons-y! (Any Doctor Who fans out there??)

ImageIn addition to knitting, last weekend I took my first sewing class and I must say that it was amazing.  Honestly sitting in front of a sewing machine was a bit intimidating, but completing my first (albeit very simple) sewing project was so exhilarating.  I have successfully created a small, but functional drawstring pouch.  I have no idea what said pouch will hold, but it will certainly hold something.  Spurred on by my new found inner-seamstress, I have promptly purchased some fabric to go back and sew up my second project (more on that another time.)

I am already trying to calculate how long it will take me to save up for a Bernina.

2)      Baking

This weekend I made this marbled banana bread.  It came out quite beautifully and very tasty.  It also happens to be a great option for a fairly healthy bread/loaf, and, its vegan.  I am not actually vegan, but I have found that I quite enjoy vegan baked goods.  In general, they strike a nice balance between indulgent and healthy.  Between sweet and sugar-overload.  In my neighborhood, I have become quite smitten with vegan pastries from Sweatpea Baking Company.  I am pleased to learn that I, too, can create a delicious vegan snack cake in my kitchen.  This banana bread totally fits the bill.  Whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, ripe bananas and brown sugar (my favorite of all sugars) combine here to make a satisfying and non-sugar coma inducing treat.

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3)      Making Liqueur

I am very fond of rhubarb.  I am also very fond of a tasty cocktail.  Enter rhubarb liqueur.  When I came across a recipe for making a simple rhubarb liqueur at home (with vodka, a homemade simple syrup, and Grand Marnier as the other components) I knew I needed to give it a try.  Now I haven’t been able to try this yet, as it takes 2-3 weeks to infuse, but I am anticipating shaking up a refreshing drink on a warm summer day.  Maybe a rhubarb-flavored gin fizz?  Or a rhubarb mimosa?  So many possibilities.   I’ll let you know.

4)      Shower Scrub

Homemade exfoliating bath scrub that leaves my skin super soft and smelling just as I choose?  I will have that, please!

I picked up Weekend Handmade by Kelli Wilkinson from the library a couple of weeks ago.  This book is full of diverse, modern, useful projects that can be completed quickly and (generally) on a budget.  Several of the projects have caught my attention, but my first to tackle was making my own shower scrub.  I am a sucker for a great smelling bath/shower/body products, but my budget rarely permits me to indulge in the ones I really enjoy.  I find that so many of the more affordable ones smell too factory-produced, over-the-top, and artificial for my liking.  So making all natural scrub to suit my preferences was a project right up my alley.  My first batch has been prepared with a delightful and energizing blend of grapefruit and sweet orange oils, with just a touch of vanilla for sweetness to tame the tart citrus scents.  It was so simple to make and is every bit as effective on my skin as anything I’ve ever purchased.  I anticipate making many, many batches of varying scents and styles in the future.

It’s been really fantastic to have some time to be creative.  My senses are pleased.  My mind and body have been fed well and I know there is more to come.   So, here is to long weekends, leisure time, and an active mind!