Half Remembered Faces

When a person I know from my childhood comes into my adult life, it’s hard to reconcile the disparity of the interaction. Usually there are two different paths these interactions can take. For me, I tend to just make light small talk and move on, if I choose to acknowledge that I have run into someone I used to know at all. Sometimes, I don’t say anything and I never know if they recognise me and then I can’t get it out of my head.

Twice recently, I have run into people I have known since I was a child. The first took a moment to recognize me, but we ended up having a relatively pleasant conversation (about how long it’s been since I’ve seen them and about the weather. Everyone in Maine has something to say about the weather).

The second struck me a little bit harder. It’s one of those that plagues my overthinking, overactive, anxious brain. I didn’t know whether or not to bring up the fact that I knew the woman when I recognized her… In the end I didn’t, but I almost wish I had. I wonder now what she would have said. Would she have even recognized me, knowing how I knew her?

I could have gone with the safe, easy option, of “You look really familiar…”

But the truth was that she didn’t look familiar.

I can’t explain what put the idea in my head that she might be someone I knew. I didn’t recognize her face so much, and I thought the woman I knew was taller. But then again, the last time I saw her, I was 8 years old, so almost 20 years ago.

It was more about how she carried herself, the look in her eyes. It was just… Familiar.

I know her because she used to be my father’s friend. They spent time together. I remembered that her name was common, but spelled differently. I remembered her last name. I remember that we share the same middle name. I thought that was the coolest thing when I was 8.

I chose to ignore the similarities, the feeling of familiarity, and tried to help her with her chocolate order as is my job. She did not recognize me, but perhaps she was thinking the same thing as me. In all honesty, looking at pictures of me from when I was young, I don’t feel like I look much different, but I think my glasses might throw some people off. I didn’t start wearing those until I was fully an adult.

In any case, she didn’t say anything to me, either.

When she paid for her chocolate and fudge, the name on the credit card she gave me was exactly what I expected it to be. Normally I don’t look at the name on the card unless it says “SEE ID” on the back, but I was so curious. I was actually surprised. Because, again, I didn’t remember what the woman I was thinking about looked like.

It really should not surprise me. There are only so many people in Maine, even in my town. Many of them shop where I work. I do run into people I know at the grocery store close to my house. Which is stressful in many other ways – the people I run into are people I try on purpose to avoid. So I shop for groceries elsewhere.

These interactions leave me with a load of questions and few answers and plague my mind for weeks after they happen. Part of the overthinking, overactive, anxious brain.

A Bike and the Window

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Sometimes things happen in my life that are worth recording. Most of these moments are only funny in retrospect.

First, let me set the scene:

Any of you who have watched my podcast – Quarrelsome Rhinoceros Stitches – or are friends with me on social media, or know me in person – will already know a little bit of this backstory… bear with me.

I live in a small city in the middle of nowhere. If you’re on my street, you are meant to be there… and I do not advocate doing any of the things I am about to relate to you.

I live in a house, with two roommates. Those two roommates and I don’t share the same sort of sleep schedule. I love being up late nights, to knit and watch Netflix. They are in bed early, and They’re also awake early. By the time I wake up, they’ve already gone through half of their day.

I also have a dog… Usually I take him out before I go to bed.

And the last important fact to know is that Monday is trash day.

This story takes place Sunday night, 11pm, in the middle of April, in Maine. It is 35 degrees outside.

The scene opens:

I like to multi task. I put Kelsier’s leash on, I grabbed my trash bag to put in the bin. I had done a bit of tidying, finally. It’s (kind of) spring cleaning season. I left my room, walked to the front door, and left the house.

Because I was distracted by the trash bag, the dog, and trying to close the door…

I didn’t twist the handle…. Just to make sure …

It was locked.

When the door latched, I immediately felt a pit form in the bottom of my stomach. I held my breath and slowly reached for the handle again.

No avail.

It was really locked

.

I’ve done it once before. It was the middle of winter. Wind chill made it feel like it was -19 degrees outside, This was also when there were two feet of snow on the ground. I managed to open my window and used a long shovel to get my keys from my bed because I had just forgotten them there. This time, I never had the intention of bringing my keys with me.

This time, there was no snow on the ground.

Half of me wanted to break down and cry. When I am in a stressful situation this is what happens. Part of me just wants to give up at the slightest inconvenience. If I ever listened to this half of me, I would have sat on my front porch, shivering and crying all night until my roommates got up in the morning.

The other half – the rational part of my brain – was glad I grabbed my winter coat before I left the house and tried to come up with solutions to my predicament.

Thinking quickly, I put my dog in my car – Luckily I didn’t lock the door when I parked it earlier that day. I live in a very quiet neighborhood, as I’ve already said and I don’t advocate leaving your doors unlocked. I was contemplating getting into the car, myself. My roommates had been in bed for at least three hours, and they had work in the morning. I really didn’t want to have to wake them up, and I couldn’t have texted them – I left my phone inside on my desk. I could even picture exactly where it was and where my keys were.

Instead of getting in the car, I checked the back door. It’s always locked, but I figured I’d give it a try.

It was, indeed, locked.

Kitchen window – also locked.

We don’t have a hide a key.

Now, my bedroom is on the corner of the house. It has two windows. One of them still has cling film to help keep heat in the winter – as spring has not actually … sprung yet, I kept the cling film on a little bit late. That one was impossible to climb through anyway. The bottom of the window sill… I couldn’t even reach it, standing next to it. So the window next to my bed was the best option. It had a shorter drop to the inside, and I didn’t remember it being very tall. It was how I managed to save myself before, after all.

I grabbed the shovel from my trunk, because it helped me the last time… So of course it would help this time.

When I got back to my window from the car, I realized that the bottom of my window is at least 6 inches taller than me.

Without the snow there was no chance of me climbing in, unaided.

I still pushed the window open – also not locked – again, do not follow my example. I don’t jump very high. I’m not good at climbing.

I looked around for solutions. I had a chair out there, one of those ones that fold up and have a cupholder. I think you use them for camping… My roommate has had a broken bicycle… the chain fell off… it was probably the better option. The camping chair is not very sturdy, or I didn’t feel like I’d be able to stand on it. Plus, my backyard is still fairly muddy from the thaw, so the bike… it was better.

I took the bike and put it under my window, and then I took my slippers off. The backyard was still muddy. My socks got pretty wet, but I didn’t think I would be able to get traction on the bike with the slippers. I climbed the bike to get into the window. It was still a little bit too tall for me. The window sill, I mean. So I somersaulted over the windowsill , onto my bed and almost pulled my curtains down at the same time.

But… I made it back inside.

I grabbed my keys, and rescued my dog from the car.

My life is ridiculous sometimes.

But I’m warm, and safe inside. I am just glad that my neighbors aren’t the incredibly nosy types that are also night owls. Otherwise my night could have been much more interesting…

The best part? After all that, I forgot to move the trash bin to the street…

Learning to Test Knit

Last year, I dipped my toes into the vast well that is test knitting. Test knitting (for those who do not eat, sleep, and breathe knitting) is the step before a knitwear designer publishes a pattern, to make sure that the editing process has picked up errors in the pattern. This is also the stage that you get to tell whether or not other knitters know what you mean by the directions in your pattern.

Usually it’s the last step before publishing. Sometimes it can come before the tech editing stage, but it shouldn’t. You want as many errors to be found before test knitters come in contact with it. You want to make sure that they are working with a pattern that is practically ready for the knitting world at large.

I wanted to see if I could knit things to a deadline, spot errors in other people’s patterns, and achieve the same gauge as other knitters well enough to make a garment with the same measurements that they were looking for.

I have had several really great Test Knitting Experiences. I am not sure that it is something that I will do a lot anymore, but I really enjoyed the process.

One of the best and biggest test knits that I did last year was for the Making Stories – WOODS book. This was the first publication from Verena Cors and Hanna Lisa Haferkamp. The book is a beautifully photographed and written. The patterns all have gorgeous texture.

I test knit two separate patterns in this book, with the specified yarn in the patterns. I want to talk a little bit more in depth about these test knits, looking back on them, and the finished objects.

The first I will talk about is the pair of socks I knit. They are called the Abisko socks. They have a textured lace panel running up the center of the foot and top of the leg. They gave instructions for three different heel types… and it was knit in Tuku Wool.

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I love this knit. I wear these socks all the time, because they’re sturdy, and so warm. This more “rustic” wool makes me so happy. That being said, I didn’t like the process of knitting with it. It was not until I blocked these socks that I really fell in love with them. The wool softened just enough and they fit my feet perfectly.

I managed to get the right measurements, with the exception of the leg length because I wanted them a little shorter than in the pattern (It was the only creative license I took with the pattern).

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The second pattern I tested was the Black Forest Cardigan. While I think that the pattern was challenging for my advanced knitting skills, I didn’t enjoy the process. It was strictly a product knit for me. In the beginning I think that it was about the process. It changed when the sweater got too large to transport and started to hurt my wrists when I worked on it (at about the sleeve separation stage).

 

I managed to get the right size in the pattern, and it’s a gorgeous pattern in a 100% merino yarn that was beautiful to work with. There were some knots in the skeins that I had, which was a little disappointing, but it really only took out about 12 inches of the yarn every time I came across one. I just cut it and left a tail to weave in.

My finished object sat in my sweater bin for just under a year.

I didn’t wear it more than once.

I just realized I didn’t like the shape of it for my body. I realized that it wasn’t something I was happy with.

I realized that I should have maybe bowed out of knitting it in the first place, but I did finish it successfully.

I realized that I can’t knit things that I don’t love.

Frogging is okay.

Even finished objects.

I now have a pile of gorgeous 100% merino yarn that is ready to be made into a different sweater because I just couldn’t look at the sweater in its bin anymore, wishing to be worn.

I’m so glad that I finished that sweater. I am so glad that I was a part of the first publication of Making Stories. It was a great experience. I learned a lot about my own knitting habits. This has helped to shape how I want to design my own patterns.

My New Mission – Knit From Stash.

I have declared a new challenge for myself. By the end of 2018, I would like to knit more skeins from my stash than I buy for myself. I already have 3 finished objects of 2018. I finished an Oracle Shawl, in January. I finished a Chuck Sweater, in February, and last week, I finished a Caprius Shawl. All three of these projects were knit with yarn from my stash.

I think a lot of knitters go through phases where we will knit things from the yarn we already have, and then phases where we Buy All The Things! And add skeins to the stash, telling ourselves that it doesn’t count if we have a project planned for it. There are all kinds of things I tell myself that makes certain skeins “not count” as part of my stash.

  1. If it’s a leftover, it doesn’t count.
  2. If it’s only a partial skein, it doesn’t count.
  3. If it was a gift, it doesn’t count.
  4. If it’s designated for a specific project, it doesn’t count
  5. If it’s waiting to be paired up with another skein for a project, it doesn’t count…

Even getting rid of all of those “skeins that don’t count,” I still have a ridiculous amount of yarn in my stash that I haven’t knit with yet. Some of them are “too pretty,” I haven’t found the “right pattern,” or I am just too lazy to wind it into a ball.

Toward the end of 2017, I organized my whole stash on an excel document. I haven’t tried stashing them on Ravelry, yet, but that is the next step. I did this because I actually bought some of one color of yarn from Knit Picks, without realizing I already had two balls of it in stash. I thought it was time to get more organized so that I can prevent that from happening again. I don’t need to spend what is already a limited yarn budget on something I already have.

Which I’m sure everyone can relate to. I wish I had an endless budget for yarn. I want to fill my house with it. I want to put all of it on display and look at it forever. That’s the ultimate goal, anyway… but right now it’s not possible. So I’ll settle for laying it all out on a spreadsheet.

First of all, I made it in Google Drive, because if I keep it there, I can access it on all of my devices, so if I am at home, I can see it, or if I happen to be out and an idea strikes me, I can look at my stash virtually.

Here’s a peek at what it looks like:

The categories I have at the top are: Yarn Brand, Yarn Base/Line Name, Colorway Names, Dye Lot, Weight, Number of Skeins, Meters Per Skein, Approx. Total Meterage, Fiber Content, Purchased/Gifted, Date In, Date Out. It may seem like a lot of categories, but I want to have all of the information in the document so that when I find a pattern on Ravelry, I’ll know if I can knit it from stash or not. I’ll have all of the information in hand.

I have highlighted one line in red in the photo above. When I have finished knitting something, and the yarn has gone out of my stash, for now I’ll have it highlighted. When I have finished using the whole skein, I will delete the line – or perhaps when I start a new year I’ll only copy over the ones that are not used.

I also have set up the excel sheet so that I can sort it by any of these categories. Right now I have it alphabetized by what is written in the “Yarn Brand” column. If I wanted to see which yarn I had the most of, I could sort it by the “Approx. Total Meterage” column, and then it would show that I have at least a sweater quantity of Cascade 220 in my stash.

I think that this excel sheet is the reason I have been able to knit more from stash this year so far, and I’m excited to see how successful my mission is! Are you challenging yourself to do anything with your stash this year? Let me know in the comments!

-M

A Mini-Skein: A Day in the Life

{The mid-afternoon sun glinted through the windows. There was a soft ringing of the copper bell above the door as the door swung open. People walked through. People! I wished my colors were more vibrant in that instant. If I could catch their eye, maybe they’d take me home today.

Last time, I got picked up, and put down twice. But I still didn’t get to go. My friends all left the shop ages ago. I think I’m the last of my clan around. I’m only thankful that I’m not in the clearance bin by the door, already-dull colors fading in the direct sunlight.

“Is there anything I can help you with today?” my Skein-Keeper said.

“We’re just looking, thank you,” That was the customer. She sounded nice. Her voice was quiet.

There were feet shuffling around. “Ooh, this one is pretty!” That was another voice. The second customer “I love these blues.”

They looked in silence for a few minutes, and the Quiet One picked up a few skeins. They looked to happy to have been chosen. Some were sad that they were being separated from their pack. How will she knit with just one? That would be much better in a sweater. Then they can be with their family forever.

Obviously this thought occurred to her, also. She put the single skeins back and walked around some more.

“You’re always drawn to those tonal colors… More subtle.”

The Quiet One smiled. She stopped in front of my cubby and for a split second I thought she was going to pass me by. But she wasn’t. She stood, staring at me for a minute.

She was looking at me!

She saw me!

“Like this one?” she asked, holding me up to look at me closer.

“That one is very… You.

Was she really going to keep me?

She walked around the store with me safely tucked under her arm. I could see that she didn’t want to put me back like the others.

Today’s the day. I’m finally getting a home!

***

I went to a new (to me) yarn store this week. This little nugget of a story popped into my head when I was walking around and looking at different skeins of yarn. I thought of a skein of yarn almost as an abandoned puppy at a shelter and the dye lot it came from as its little family. All of its family had been sold off and it was waiting for its turn to go home with a friendly knitter. Can you imagine how hard it would be for us to say no to new skeins if they also had those sad puppy dog eyes?

I’d … probably have no roof over my own head. I’d be in trouble.

The best part of the store was that I got to hold Quince & Co. yarn for the first time – on many different bases. A quick, fun fact about Quince & Co. is that they started in Maine! I didn’t know this before doing a little bit more reading about them on their website when I was doing a few quick searches for this post.

I really liked the yarn, but it wasn’t in the budget to get any skeins yesterday. It made me more confident that I would like a garment knit with their yarn, though. I have many plans for future knits that came out of my trip. This yarn store carries most, if not all, of the bases by Quince & Co.

My favorite one to touch was definitely the Piper base. It’s a laceweight 50% kid mohair and 50% superfine merino. I could just picture an old-style Shetland Lace Shawl with this yarn. I think that if I were to knit a garment that was written for any of their yarns, I would choose to knit the Ausma pullover by Michele Wang. I find all of her garments really beautiful, and I have yet to knit one… Like I said, I made so many plans for future knits.

One thing that I found eye opening about my visit was that I was happy to experience a new shop, but it made me appreciate my local one a little bit more. I didn’t like this new one as much as I like the one right near my grandmother’s house. I think it just had to do with the atmosphere and the yarn selection. Other than being able to touch some Quince & Co., I didn’t find too many others that I was drawn to.

I did walk away with a skein of Malabrigo sock (which I managed to snap a quick picture before I headed home and the good light faded, below). I also had a few ideas for some designs that I want to get out on paper before I forget them. So I will call it a successful day out!

Happy Skein-Keeping!

-m

Fascination with Old Treasures

This week’s topic isn’t really knitting related. It’s more knitting tangential…

One of my favorite things to do is go to antique stores and look for interesting objects left behind by past generations. I love things that have a history, and had a meaning to someone else decades past. Some of the things that I have gotten from antique stores have turned from forgotten treasures to cherished pieces of my collection.

I have a ring that I love wearing. I saw it in a jewelry case at an antique store near my mom’s house and it called out to me. The center has a turquoise cabochon, and the silver around it has recesses in it that are filled with black. The profile on the ring is rather high, but it was a perfect fit for the middle finger on my right hand, and it’s one of the rings that I wear every day. I have no way to know when or how it was made, but I like to imagine that someone else loved this ring as much as I did.

Other treasures that have come into my life have come in the form of gifts. When I was a teenager, my mother, stepdad, and I lived in a house that was underneath redwood trees in Northern California. It was beautiful, but it was also damp all the time. We had an older neighbor that lived in an apartment below us. He was a nice, older gay guy. We used to watch his dog while he went away for the weekend, or just for the day – his dog didn’t much like being left alone in his apartment. He was a sweet dog, and I miss him.

One year, for my birthday, I got a card from this neighbor and a little present. The card had this beautiful picture of a flower on it ,and it was addressed to “the Flower of Fungus Alley.” which was the nickname he had given to me. I thought it was sweet. I opened the present and it was a fan that had belonged to his mother (pictured below). It was painted with pretty flowers. At the time I thought it was pretty, but I hadn’t yet found an appreciation for old treasures. I think I had it hidden away in boxes until I moved back to Maine a year and a half ago. Since then I have significantly expanded my love of all things old.

Another thing that I find interesting, if a bit melancholy, at antique stores are journals. I found a 5-year journal at an antique store, near where my mother lives, again, that was completely filled out. Someone spent every day of their life writing one line in a journal every day. She was a teenager – in high school – in 1920.

I find it melancholy because obviously this woman passed and this journal was sold to this antique store as part of an estate sale. Which meant that she didn’t have any family left to cherish the memories that she felt important to write down.

I took the journal home with me so that I might understand this person better. She wrote about people she knew, places she visited, which were sometimes the same places that I was visiting on my weekends. She wrote about the books she read, many of which have gone out of publication, and are available for free on Google Books. I haven’t yet read any of those, but I thought it was interesting to find them.

I told this story to my grandmother, and she bought me a one line a day journal. It has 5 years worth of journaling. I have managed to write in it every day since the first of the year. It seems to help me focus my thoughts. I used to try to write fiction every day, at least a few lines, but now I am more focused on coming up with one line to put into my journal.

I think it is a good writing exercise. I think about what I might want to remember years from now, when I am older. I think about what I might want my children and their children to know about my time in my late 20s, if they care to know.

This love of all things old carries over to my knitting. I often see vintage patterns and want to try to make them – especially old patterns for yoked colorwork sweaters – but I haven’t yet gotten the courage to try colorwork properly.

These things have been on my mind

Starfruit Brioche Hat – FREE pattern!

 

Designed by:

Monica Littlefield of Quarrelsome Rhinoceros Stitches


ABOUT
This simple hat was born out of experimenting with two color brioche. Most of the brioche hats I have seen worked in the round are worked from the brim upwards. I wanted to make this one in the opposite direction to use increases to create a pattern on the crown that reminds me of a starfruit. The brioche makes the hat stretchy.

Notes

Yarn: Any two worsted weight yarns. You will use less than 100g of each color to complete this project.

Shown in: De Rerum Natura Cyrano – Plume / Unknown Worsted/Aran Weight – White

Needles: US 8 (5mm) for main body of hat – US 6 (4mm) for brim of hat.

Gauge: 14 stitches X 20 rows = 4″ (10cm) in brioche pattern with larger needles, after blocking.

Techniques used:

Terms/Stitches used

K – knit.

P – purl.

Brk – brioche knit – knit stitch together with the associated yarn over from the previous row.

Brkyobrk – brioche knit, yo, brioche knit – all into the same stitch. Brk1, leave the stitche on the needle, bring the yarn forward, then brk1 into the same stitch. 2 stitches increased.

Brp – brioche purl – purl stitch together with the associated yarn over from the previous row.

Sl1yo – slip one yarn over. Following a k or brk stitch – bring yarn forward, slip next stitch purlwise onto the right needle, work next stitch as indicated by pattern. Following a p or brp stitch – yarn is in front of work already, slip next stitch purlwise, bring yarn over the right needle and back to the front of the work in preparation for the next stitch as indicated by the pattern.

MC – Main Color.

CC – Contrast Color.

Pattern

Using Emily Ocker’s circular cast on method and MC, cast on 12 stitches. Place marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

Set up:

Row 1(MC): *k1, sl1yo* repeat to end of round. (12 stitches)

Row 2(CC): *sl1yo, p1* repeat to end of round. (12 stitches)

Increase Rounds:

Row 1(MC): *brkyobrk, sl1yo* repeat to end of round. (24 stitches) (It helps to put markers before every increase stitch.

Row 2(CC): *sl1yo, brp1* repeat to the end of round. (24 stitches)

Repeat these two rows four more times. You will have a total of 72 stitches on your needles when you have completed the last increase.)

Body

Row 1(MC): *brk1, sl1yo* repeat to end of round.

Row 2(CC): *sl1yo, brp1* repeat to end of round

Repeat these two rounds twenty-seven more times.

Brim

Switch to smaller needles at the beginning of this next round.

Row 1(CC): *brk1, sl1yo* repeat to end of round.

Row 2(CC): *sl1yo, brp1* repeat to end of round.

Repeat these two rounds ten more times.

Bind-off rows

Row 1(MC): *k1, p1* repeat to end of round.

Using a stretchy bind off method, bind off all stitches.

Weave in ends. Block.

Contact

If you have any questions about this pattern please feel free to comment or send an email to quarrelsomerhino@gmail.com