Sarahs Knitting Sweaters: Blocking at the Beach

*This post is part of a knit-along series with my dear friend, Sarah. Check out all her posts, plus our previous joint shawl project on her site, One Last Stitch.

At last, the long awaited finale of the Amors Arrow sweater! The last bits of this sweater went off quite well. After my neck hole troubles the rest of the lace went off without a hitch.

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Then there was the question of how to graft the lace to the rest of the sweater. The pattern says to use kitchener stitch to join the lace to the bodice, which is a perfectly nice idea. I don’t mind kitchener, but I tend to agree with Sarah that more than 100 stitches of it is pretty daunting. I considered a three needle bind off instead, but eventually decided to just go with the kitchener. Having already had some issues with a tight bind off I figured a kitchener graft, though tedious, would avoid any binding or puckering along the back of the sweater.

And so, I grafted. It took a LONG time, but I was at the beach and supplied with ample wine and snacks to keep my mind (read: stomach) sufficiently occupied. I finished weaving in the ends and tried the thing on. My head fit through, all it needed now was a good blocking session.*

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Finished, pre-block.

I had forgotten to bring pins to the beach house, so the next day I went searching in downtown Manzanita. The store that used to sell knitting things is now exclusively a clothing boutique, but I got lucky at the local grocery store. I bought a box of pins, walked home, and dunked the sweater in the best bucket substitute available.

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After a good soak in the pot I pinned out the sweater on one of the futons in the beach house. I had hoped to be able to wear it at least one day on vacation, but alas, things dry a bit more slowly at the beach. By the time the sweater was ready to wear it was too late, so I packed it up and toted it home.

I’m back home, and the time has come at last to wear the sweater! Overall, I’m really pleased. The lace opened up really nicely, which brings the neckline down a bit, so I’ll have to wear a tank underneath to make it school appropriate. For summer though, I actually really love the little tease of lace under lace, and I don’t feel at all overexposed. The shape is great, it has a nice drape, and it’s soft all over. I can’t wait to wear this all summer long!**

*The pattern asks for a decorative crocheted edging around the sleeves. I tend to curse a lot when I crochet, and since the sleeves seem to lie pretty flat without the crochet reinforcement I decided to forgo the crochet altogether. For those who enjoy crochet, I salute you and leave you to it. I’m not sure it will ever be my thing.

**In Portland one can wear a sweater in the summer and not totally melt. Sorry, Sarah G.

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Beach Time!

Having spent my adolescence coming of age in a tourist town on the Oregon coast, I hold a special place in my heart for the beach. This week I actually took time off from work (this NEVER happens, ask anyone) and headed out with Nate and his family to a vacation rental in Manzanita, a short drive south of where I grew up.

This week has been just awesome! We have had perfect weather. I walked on the beach every day, went running twice, went on a gorgeous hike with Nate (pictured below), did lots of reading, and of course got to knit up a storm. On our first night here I finished up the kitchener graft on my Amors Arrow sweater (more on that in a later post, but be sure to check out the rest of the Sarahs Knitting Sweaters series on my blog and at One Last Stitch).

Setting aside the sweater I’ve been knitting for so long was quite liberating, and I needed something light and easy as a relaxing vacation knit. I had come prepared with yarn, needles, and pattern for the Angora Cloche Hat, something simple, quick, and fun. I cast on the super fuzzy yarn and was immediately delighted. Hats are so nice to knit because you can clearly see your progress, and rarely do you need to commit more than a few days before you get a cute new accessory out of the deal!

The yarn and pattern came to me from my partner on Fibreshare, an online community where you can sign up to send and receive fiber packages a few times a year. This was my first time participating, and it has been really awesome. I got a great package full of yarns and other odds and ends, and I had lots of fun putting together a package that I hope my partner will love. This golden yellow angora is the perfect color!

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My awesome fiber package! The yarn for the hat is in the bottom right corner.

The actual hat part of the cloche knit up really quick, and then I moved on to the cincher and rib band. The rib band is threaded through the cincher to make a bow shape, then stitched onto the finished cap. It is so soft and fuzzy, and the turban-esque look of the bow is growing on me.*

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I’m a bit bummed to be heading back to the city after such a wonderful week at the beach, but I feel rested and ready to tackle the rest of the summer. I’m sure I’ll be back at the beach soon enough!

*My phone is on its last legs (new one on the way next week!), so I was unable to take any pictures of my Angora Cloche in progress. I also took a really cute beach selfie while wearing it, but the file is corrupted and I’m super bummed. This is all to say I’m sorry for the lack of pictures, and for the bummer pic of me sitting in a chair :/

Purge Update: Books and Papers

I know it’s been a while since my last post about what I now refer to as the Great Purge of ’16. I am still working steadily on fully reorganizing our little basement space, and I’ve even managed to get Nate on board. After going through all of my clothes, I moved on to books and papers as prescribed by my personal purge-guru Marie Kondo.*

I find the hardest part of all this organizing and sorting is actually rounding up everything that fits in the chosen category. Even living in a pretty confined space, it’s incredible how many different places I have found to store books. Most were on the shelf, yes, but I had a good stack on my night stand, craft books in with my knitting stash, a bunch of books stuffed in the coffee table, and miscellaneous others scattered around the house. I didn’t count how many books I started with, but there were quite a lot. I stacked them all on and around the coffee table we have in the basement.

I’m pretty sure the book suggests you sort your books into categories before going through them, but getting all the books off the shelf had kind of worn me out, so I just dug in. I had already gotten rid of quite a few books several months ago when Nate wanted a shelf or two on our bookshelf, so sorting through searching for sparks of joy felt slightly redundant at first. Still I found more than a few books that I was willing to part with.

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I think I counted 37 books in the sell/donate pile. As I was re-shelving all the books to keep, I ended up getting rid of maybe 10 more. That’s nearly 50 books off my shelves and into the world! One perk of living in Portland is that anytime you have books to pass on you can sell them to Powell’s Books and get cash or store credit. Powell’s didn’t buy everything (the rejects went to Goodwill), but I did end up with $50 in store credit to replenish my newly-purged shelves.

Purging papers was a pretty boring process, and just felt like a really deep filing session. I emptied my file cabinet and corralled all my loose papers and set to recycling. I kept the majority of my files, but I did get rid of a bunch of now-useless papers and junk mail. Just one very full bag to shred and recycle, but good progress, I think.

*While searching for the Marie Kondo links, I found this article that came out in the New York Times Magazine just this week! Check it out!

Summer Sun

A few weeks ago the youth soccer company I coach for had a big outdoor fundraiser party. It was super fun, and it was on one of the hottest days we’ve had so far this summer. As usual, I applied sunscreen regularly. I had just purchased a new brand on sale, so I was eager to see how it would hold up. About ten minutes after my second application I started my shift at the spash-a-coach booth. Immediately after the first splash from a gleefully cackling three-year-old the sunscreen I had applied melted off my arms into a white gooey mess. It was gross! Luckily, I was continuously splashed by toddlers for the next half hour, so I was more wet than messy. Still, I decided that I needed a higher quality solution for sun protection.

I’ve always used regular commercial sunscreen lotions and been totally fine. From my splash-booth fiasco I learned that you get what you pay for. I’m currently a bit strapped for cash, but I did remember reading that shea butter can offer sun protection. If you remember from my body butter experiment, I happen to have a bit of shea butter lying around. I did a quick search for recipes, and decided on a simple, easy to apply sunscreen stick.

I ordered some beeswax pellets and non-nano zinc oxide from Amazon, dug out the shea butter and coconut oil from the cupboard, and set about making some sunscreen.

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That orange bottle in the background is the Splash Booth Incident culprit.

Part of the reason I chose this recipe is because it is super simple. Basically, put everything except the essential oil and zinc powder in a double boiler and melt it together. The beeswax took the longest to melt, but the whole thing took maybe 10 minutes.

Next I added the zinc oxide (be super careful or wear a mask, this power is very toxic if inhaled) and essential oil. The recipe said you could add “vanilla”, which I assumed meant basic vanilla extract. I tried this, and I think the final product is okay, but the vanilla extract curdled as soon as it hit the hot mixture and it took some serious stirring to break it up. I think next time I will stick to just essential oils. In addition to the vanilla extract I used anise oil.

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After all the ingredients were mixed I poured into a glass pan (you could use molds or cupcake tins, too), cooled it in the fridge, then sliced into bars. I think it smells nice, and I am pretty pleased with how these bars turned out. I’ll be using mine this weekend while I’m out coaching. I hope it will stand up to soccer and a possible splash!

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