P B K | Pink Brutus Knits
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Pink Brutus Knits Blog

Feeling a bit flushed

I find myself working with Knit Picks on a regular basis for their collections and there are a number of reasons for it.  First, they provide multiple calls at a time which is nice when one might pique your interest and not another.  They're one of the easiest companies to work with through the entire process.  The yarn they send designers is for their own personal samples and for working out patterns, then they have a sample knitter that creates the garment photographed for the collection.  This means the pattern goes through many hands before being published and designers have an opportunity to work with a sample knitter who might point things out along the way that others will ultimately question during the knitting process.  Of course, as I learned so well with Nineveh, somethings come together easily for me and the sample knitter without question (THEM POCKETS!) and yet, we're the only two knitters on the planet to do so.  And that's okay too!

The Flush Shawl is just one of those fun little knits that is simple in design, easy to execute, not too serious, and in the end, rather quick to whip up.  You can find the collection on Ravelry or HERE. The entire collection is very sweet and the patterns all feel approachable.  I look forward to seeing every collection come together since I am only privy to my tiny corner of it for so long!  I just love the surprise.

And while we're on the topic of knitting and design - one I've been posting an alarmingly small amount about....

My new life motto is this: Life is serious enough, take knitting lightly.  It's tough in any industry where creativity is the driving force.  I've written about this countless times, and yet it remains true.  I think the difference is me - I've changed, my perceptions, and what I decide should carry weight.  Little things strike me, and I think I'm getting too old to worry about it.  I'm getting too old to fret.  I'm getting too old to care.  As the years tick on, my drive to knit and design have fluctuated wildly and I went from the ever-pleasing-designer to a more settled version of that, one that is growing back into the core, finding home base.  I guess that's just a fancy way of saying I'm unearthing a long-buried voice.  Since I was so focused on just getting in the door with publishers, I was a chameleon designer who would produce what ever they asked of me.  Now, rather than submitting for every call that passes through my inbox, I choose, and more often than not I'm choosing to let it pass on by.

But, now that I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the new book, I'm preparing to get back on the horse as they say.  The trouble is that I'm going to be ever-aware of that line between designing for a call and designing for myself.  That can bring out the defeatist Scorpio child within me and she's a nasty little bugger.  I think I only have one more pattern queued for release this year though and that's a crazy thought!  With the publishing schedule, this is all stuff I was doing before I got started on the new book back in August.  I suppose I can start poking my head out of the sand again. 

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Between Stitches April 18

The coldest April on record, they say.

I'm slowly tunneling out of the moodiness that March carries in anticipation of real spring - warmth and growth.  So far the sun is rising before we are and the birds are back to chaotic song but it's still pretty damn chilly, growing warmer. 

Alizah had her Junior prom this month and she went with her BFF.  I was on the verge of being the over-emotional mental case mama but I reined it in.  She and I are so similar and can tumble into emotional together - I was good.  I held it together.  Her bestie's mom took tons of pics but I'm only sharing a few of my absolute favorites.  They're very "them".

And all of the biopsy results were a-ok as we had expected.  Now that the hospital bills are arriving, I'm totally annoyed at the cost we still owe after hubbie's actually good insurance through work covered much of the costs.  I hate bills.  I was filling out forms for additional financial discounts through the the hospital (since apparently you qualify for a family of 4 if you have a gross income of less than $95,000!) and hubs, being the guy he is, hugged me and said it was best that we had the procedures done.  What if it had been breast cancer?  It's better this way.  Me, being the lunatic that I am, was like - HA! ya right, I'd rather just not know than be dealing with this BS.  Mae and I then got into a full-blown argument about her dog barking at the neighbor (the nice lady with the raspberry garden) - and she fully yelled at me.  It was one of those teeth gritting moments of fury and shock.  I asked her to get the dog for me and she shouted that she couldn't because she was wearing her expensive sneakers - to which I explained the concept of taking off shoes like, can you take them off and get her?  Or, I can just get rid of them because this is ridiculous.  Her response was like, you'll be throwing your own $150 away *at the top of her lungs* and I've never wanted to shove my own money into a trash can more in my life.  We've been saying she would put us through the wringer since she was a tot, knowing her teen years were going to challenge us in ways we never had been with her sister.  I just didn't know that "teen" was code for 11.

But you know what, that's real life.  We have just as many moments of pure pride and joy in our girls as we do frustration.  A couple weeks ago I was trying to diffuse an argument over something stupid and reminded everyone that we're all WIPs (gotta get that knitting lingo in).  Parents and kids alike are all works in progress and we need to remember that about ourselves and each other.  Mae said, not you mama - you're not a work in progress - you're good.  I was a little surprised that she would say that, and flattered, and assured her that I am indeed a WIP.  In fact, I can learn so much from Nate and the girls.  Even after our little blow up about the dumb dog and the dumb shoes, she was the one to drop it and get the dog without being pissy while I was still festering about the whole thing.  I used to be the one telling her to stop a moment when she was in the midst of a fit and make a choice to be an angry person or a happy one.  I constantly told her that she has a choice.  I should take a page from her book now and take my own advice.  

Honestly though, this entire month has been a little static. Not to say I've just been staring at a wall for 30 days, but static.  So, what else has been happening in the past month? The little greenhouse my nephew and I erected flew away in a storm even though it was staked down and was pretty damaged after going over the fence, down the hill, and almost half way down our neighbor's drive.  It's now propped up over the garden - how I had initially wanted it - to hopefully keep the hens out of the raised beds.  It was a real make-it-work moment. 

I am still not using shampoo.  This was such a big thing for me the first few weeks, especially when my hair went from sleek to oil slick, and pushing through each day was harder than the last.  I used my hog bristle brush daily, I bought a scalp exfoliating scrubber for the shower, I washed my face more than ever in my life, and I told everyone about it.  Once the oil balanced and my hair became normalized, the excess oil was not exactly gone but invisible.  The best way I can describe it is like the lanolin in wool.  I love natural wools that aren't dyed and that have those pesky bits of roughage spun into the strands.  They have a special sort of feeling, the result of natural oil or lanolin, and the yarn coats your fingers lightly in the stuff.  That's how my hair feels now.  It looks fluffy, and it doesn't have that tell-tale oily look, but you can feel the coating on my hair.  This really doesn't bother me at all.  It's like a secret life hack that is so socially questionable that few dare to push through the re-balancing phase.  I mentioned before that I was considering the use of essential oils on my hair because I was afraid of having that dirty hair smell.  I do occasionally use a bit of tea tree and peppermint in my hair, but not often.  I also don't feel that itchy urge to scrub my scalp at the one week mark as I had before.  There is certainly still a "clean" to "dirty" feeling, but it's far less drastic.

And while we're on the topic of my non-conformist hygiene... my lymph nodes were severely inflamed in my underarms after my biopsy.  I couldn't bear to touch them, even to pat a bit of deodorant on. I can't remember if I've talked about this before, but I had switched to a baking soda deodorant a while back that was effective, but I didn't love it.  With my inflamed nodes, I used coconut oil mixed with frankincense, lemon, peppermint, and cypress essential oils and applied liberally to my underarms and chest.  Within a day they were less sore and within two days they were completely drained.  I'm now back to using my new cream deodorant from Little Seed Farms which you can find HERE.  I've been using the grapefruit lemon - perfectly bright and fresh smelling.  I use it about every other day, alternating with the coconut oil/essential oil blend.  Hubs called me a hippy the other day and I was almost offended.  Then I found out he had been secretly using patchouli and I didn't even notice.  Honestly, the goal for me here isn't to be smelly or weird, I'm really just trying to be healthy, avoid toxins that are actually avoidable, and endure less pain than my norm.

Which brings me to my strange Lupus flares of the month.  I had a slow-start flare before my biopsy that seemed to resolve in a few days.  I thought it was a huge win, and then it flooded back in.  It wasn't one of my worst, but I couldn't use my hands for a few days and I was exhausted.  But, we rode it out and came out the other side rather quickly.  Some new info on Lupus has surfaced, along with a list of foods to avoid that cause inflammation - tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, and eggplant top the list.  I'm also thinking about adding Astragalus Root tea to my arsenal.  The Astragalus Root is supposed to balance the immune system rather than suppress or boost which is basically what meds or other natural remedies do. If I decide to try it, I'll post about it.  I know Lupus isn't a well-understood ail but it's a huge pain in the ass and anything that helps shorten or stop flares is worth its weight in gold! 

Though, immune boosting is still one of my favorite things so, a new batch of fire cider is on deck. I used THIS recipe which sounded really punchy with all that citrus.  Fingers crossed. And I'm starting to tool around with my sourdough starter.  My levain is a separate, more liquid entity that I'm still trying to work out.  My first tasty loaf was a bit over-done and under-risen because I plopped my dough by accident when I transferred it to the pan for baking, but there were heaps of air pockets and the texture was divine.  Then, I mistakenly left it on the stove and the big dog hopped up and quickly gobbled up the entire loaf.  We had each had a slice, which I'm grateful for, but damn.

I have some knitting pattern updates ready to go, so I'll be here to post about those soon. 

Between Stitches March 18

March has always been my least favorite month of the year.  BUT Spring, right?  and this year, the week of spring break for the girls was also the week a whopping 12 inches of snow dumped on us which felt like a special sort of kick in the teeth.  However, it's also a time for dreaming about warmer weather and I can collect an abundance of eggs in nothing more than a long sleeved shirt even if I'm clogging through snow and mud.  I have seeds ordered and placed in the little pop up greenhouse, but I haven't watered them/activated them yet.  And it's a good thing, too since a storm with heavy winds kicked up a corner and some sneaky squirrel got it's paws in one of the grow tubs.

I'm really sort of enjoying these monthly updates - how long can it possibly last!?

Anyways, I've been riding the spectrum hard - days of deep cleaning and mopping and wiping down all of the light switches, door frames, cabinets... and days of laying in bed watching shows about hoarders and being thankful that my house is so neat and tidy (as I stuff trash in an empty box next to the pantry because the trash is full and I can't drum up the energy to take it out).  I'm extremely fortunate to have found the absolute love of my life.  He gives me the room to ride out March without passing judgement.  Ordering in dinner again tonight?  No problem, it was delicious.  Staying in bed and drinking beer? No problem, I'll put the chickens up.  Not feeling well?  No problem, I'll bring you some snacks.  He says he's so supportive because he knows this isn't my usual routine.  He can easily tolerate these brief bouts. 

March also happens to be the time of my yearly lady exam and that never ends up going well.  This is year three of knowing for sure I'll be back in a week or so for a cervical biopsy.  If you've never had a cervical biopsy, I'll just assure you here and now that it sucks ass.  However, I was in unusually high spirits on the day of my appointment and my doctor is the absolute BEST, so we were chatting away and having a mighty fine talk about what a turd my lupus is and went down the list of all the things I could be prescribed for my early menopause.  And then she found a lump in my left breast. No big deal.  It's probably just a cyst but here's an order to go directly downstairs and have a mammogram like... right now.  I felt totally fine with this and headed down.  They got me in really quickly and then a ridiculously kind woman man-handled my boobs for about 30 minutes.  After the mammogram I was ushered into the ultrasound room and we talked about ultrasounds with our pregnancies.  She said, "I don't think we'll be hearing a heartbeat today though!" and I said, "OMG if you hear a heartbeat, you better just send me directly to surgery!" and then we both laughed and laughed.  It was great.  She said the little bugger was no cyst and was in fact a very solid mass.  The doc took a look and decided to schedule a biopsy because it doesn't look like cancer, but because I'm so young, we need to know exactly what's going on rather than just monitoring it visually.  I'm totally okay with that.  Err, I was totally okay with that.  For some reason, as the days tick on I'm feeling less and less casual about a big ass needle getting stuck in my boob and having a tumor tagged with a piece of titanium.  Call me crazy.

I took a mini-break from my true crime obsession/binge listening because it was making me a bit paranoid... and the kids had a mini intervention.  Mae was like, so.... I can hear your podcasts from my room and they're freaking me out.  Alizah was like, I'm really worried about the fact that I go to get a drink and on my way back upstairs I realize you've fallen asleep listening to stories about murdering people.  Fair enough, girls. 

And ya know, that's basically all that's been going on.  I did a fair amount of knitting for fun, taking a week off from working on the book but I'm back at it now and these posts aren't for knitting updates so.... I think I'll leave it here.  Tomorrow is the great April Fool's Easter so, that should be interesting. 

X

PASSIFLORA part 1

It's easy to lose track of what knitting was like when knitting was a hobby, something done on lunch breaks and in the early morning before the house was alive or late nights after everyone else had settled.  Taking photos and sharing every stitch along the way was par for the course and each project was posted about in length on the blog or Ravelry.  Shit, I remember when Ravelry hit the scene and it seemed like this magical world for us that had limitless opportunity for testing out design.

Everything I have worked so hard for - struggling, faking it and hoping that would transform into making it, investing time and money and tears in the hope that it was all going to work out in the end and be worth something, fearing total failure - it's all disappearing in the rear view.  I really have deadlines, I really have people to report to, I really knit for a living now.  And this has a price.  It's a price I'm happy to pay so that I can be home with the girls who are suddenly becoming young women.  I can toss some cash into the bank account for saving or spending on non-necessities and that makes me feel like I contribute more to the family than just being the cook, the maid, the bus driver, the accountant, the therapist.... because if we're going to get real, money is measurable where all those other things are not.  But I don't normally have time to knit for the joy of it and I certainly can't share all of the details of what I'm working on while I'm in the midst of it.  This is hard because by the time a pattern is published and ready for the public eye, months or even years have passed.  What I may have had to say or share at the time is long lost to the wrinkles and folds of days past.

I've slid past my interim deadline and have been grinding non-stop since August so, with Spring Break coming up, hubs has requested I actually take a break from the book.  He (rightly)  believes I could use a mental break, allowing myself to bend.  How many patterns and samples are left? he asked - Five.  How many months? Five.  You know you can finish two a month, so how about a break for the rest of March? This seems completely reasonable.  But, what am I supposed to do with all of this free time?  Well, I've caught up with laundry and cleaned the little monster's room, done most of the yard clean-up in back and filled the little greenhouse I popped up a couple weeks ago with plants and seed trays.  SO, that's one weekend down!  I really have a hard time just taking it easy.

That's where Passiflora comes in.  Last week I posted about the new Malabrigo yarn, Dos Tierras.  I decided to cast on a little Pi shawl as I had mentioned was my possible plan in that post.  This is knit off the cuff - something I used to do a lot and something I haven't done in years!  I basically just cast on with a vague idea and see where the knitting takes me.  It's so freeing, meditative even? and I highly recommend giving it a try if you've never done it before.  So, in these cases, I don't "write" a pattern because that would defeat the purpose.  Instead, I may take mental notes or jot down brief actions as I go.  I'm having a lot of fun with this little Pi Passiflora though so I've decided to pop in and share my notes in sections for anyone interested in meandering along with me.

The inspiration looks like this: a Pi shawl inspired by the Passiflora flower.  That's it.  Easy as (I'm not going to say Pi).... This is what you're going to need:

The first color I used is the Malabrigo Dos Tierras in Paris night (C1) - 1 hank; US 6 DPNs to start, then change to 16" and longer needles as needed; markers. 

You can cast-on for this however you want, I used the circular cast-on with a crochet hook.  You can Google all sorts of tutorials, but HERE is one that looks pretty good. 

We're also going to use the Loop stitch or fur stitch.  HERE is a tutorial for that.

All of the M1 (or Make 1 stitch) actions, I used the lifted leg increase - you can also use a left slanting M1L lifted bar increase.

HERE WE GO!

Using C1, CO8, place a contrasting marker, join for rnds.

Knit 1 rnd.

Inc Rnd: (K1, M1) to end—16 sts.

Knit 2 rnds.

Rep Inc Rnd—32 sts.

Knit 4 rnds.

Inc Rnd: (K1, yo) to end—64 sts.

Work 8 rnds of 1x1 ribbing: (K1, p1) to end.

Inc Rnd: (K1, yo, p1, yo) to end—128 sts.

Knit 16 rnds.

Inc Rnd: (K1, yo) to end—256 sts.

Work 4 rnds of 1x1 ribbing: (K1, p1) to end.

Next rnd: (K1, p29, k1, p1, pm) to end.

Lace

Rnd1: *[Ssk, k4, yo, k3, yo, k4, k2tog, p1] twice, slm; rep from * to end.

Rnd 2: (K15, p1) to end.

Rnd 3: *[Ssk, k5, yo, k1, yo, k5, k2tog, p1] twice, slm; rep from * to end.

Rnds 4, 6, 8, 10: (K7, p1) to end.

Rnd 5: *[Ssk, k3, yo, k2, p1, k2, yo, k3, k2tog, p1] twice, slm; rep from * to end.

Rnd 7: *[Ssk, k4, yo, k1, p1, k1, yo, k4, k2tog, p1] twice, slm; rep from * to end.

Rnd 9: *[Ssk, k2, yo, k3, p1, k1, yo, k2, k2tog, p1] twice, slm; rep from * to end.

Next rnd: *K1, purl to 2 sts before m, k1, p1, slm; rep from * to end.

Next rnd: *Knit to 1 st before m, p1; rep from * to end.

Loop st Rnd: *K1, work Loop st to 2 sts before m, k1, p1; rep from * to end.

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This is where I'm going to leave you for today.  In the next section I'll introduce the second color (C2) Malabrigo Rastita in color Marte - 1 hank.

X

Dos Tierras
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I want to be clear before diving in that this isn't a "review" of a product that was provided for reviewing purposes.  I've had the great fortune of working with Malabrigo Yarn a couple of times and they have asked to used some of my patterns in promotional material in exchange for yarn - I mean - already published patters so, the work is done on my end and they use the pattern for a single event, compensating me for the use in the form of yarn.  Does that make sense?

Well, the other benefit is that they let me choose the yarns and colors up to a certain weight.  I saw that they had recently released Dos Tierras and it was an interesting little twisty thing made up of a 50/50 merino/alpaca blend.  Here are the specs: 210 yds/100 g; 20-22 sts = 4" on US 5/6 [3.75/4 mm]; Color 052 Paris Night.

I used US 6 needles to swatch a little strip of eyelets, ribbing, cables, and dropped stitches to get a feel for how the yarn behaves.  Since it is a bouncy little two ply that is made up of 4 strands - the first four plied into two strands and the two resulting strands are plied.  Still with me? I was expecting some texture with this structure, but I thought the yarn would be round enough for some good stitch definition.

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Honestly, I shouldn't have been surprised by the amount of bias the stockinette st and eyelet sections had (bias is the amount of slant in the fabric; it creates more of a parallelogram than a square or rectangle).  It was quite slanted, probably from the way the yarn is plied.  There's a whole lot of twist in one direction.  However, as you can see, the bias blocked out easily enough.  The ribbing and cabled section didn't have any bias and the drop stitch at the bottom was also very straight.

SO, other than the bias issue, the yarn ended up much as I had anticipated except for one thing - the cables - man, I thought the cables would pop a lot more since the yarn is fairly round and balanced looking.  They just don't really sing, ya know?  The ribbing looks fantastic, the eyelets and drop stitch opened nicely, and the stockinette is actually very even and neat. 

I'm supposed to be taking a mini break from the book (husband's orders) until April, so my way of getting around that is swatching and writing most of the pattern out before casting on.  Sometimes I can do it and sometimes I still really need to sit down and work my way through the shaping before I can put it to paper.  Anyways, the point is, I think if I'm taking a break from the book patterns for a couple weeks, I'm going to whip this skein of Dos Tierras into a Pi Shawl.  Is it ironic that today is Pi day?  Is this leading to a mom joke?  I had better quit while I'm ahead.

I'll share if and when I do finish what ever it is I'm going to make out of this little jewel.

X

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Between Stitches February 18

Alright, February is coming to a close and I've somehow managed to make my way back here!  In January, I shared a bit about my Italian and my plan for searching out some movies - I'm happy to report that I found one on Netflix called The Wonders (La Meraviglie) that was downright fantastic.  For something a little darker, packed with twists and turns, Deep in the Wood (In fondo al bosco) is a good one, too and is available on Amazon Prime Video.  I'm also listening to the Coffee Break Italian podcast in addition to my reading and writing - it's extremely helpful for conversation and pronunciation.  But let's be real here people, it's been driving Nate and the girls a little crazy.  Because of this, I'm tempering my learning and avoiding the use of the "I" word in regular conversation (as soon as Ital... passes my lips, the eyes start rolling).  This isn't to say they're stifling me - even if it really felt that way for a few days while I was teetering on the edge of a flare up and PMS-ing at the same time - because, admittedly, I was all in all day.

Mae and I did a takeover of the Habit Aware Instagram at the beginning of the month.  This was a big step for her - even though she's not afraid to share her Trichotillomania (and as she puts it, her friends know so, whatever), it's still a big deal to talk about it transparently and publicly.  I'm so proud of her for her willingness to share her story and some of our process as far as coming to terms with a coping with her Trich.  The response we had was incredible - SO many people showed their love and support on Mae's post that even the founder of Habit Aware e-mailed me and was like, so that was awesome... I also had DMs and e-mails rolling in from parents of trichsters and trichsters themselves, just reaching out, asking about the Keen bracelet, sharing stories of triumph and sorrow.  I cried a lot.  It was a lot.  If you're reading this and you're like, whaaa?  Here is a link to some info about Trichotillomania.

The saddest news of the month though, and something I wasnt' even able to share outside the home and with my parents until recently is that we lost our sweetest, most beloved hen this month - likely to the group of juvenile hawks that have taken up residence in the neighborhood.  There is truly no trace of Melly at all, but she was just a teeny tiny thing and would easily carried off, unlike our Orpington that I saved from the grips of talons just a few weeks ago.  She's a fatty and that hawk was going nowhere fast.  Mae was devastated - like guttural sobbing over her best girl.  If you aren't familiar with Blind Melon (Melly) from my IG posts, she was our little black Silkie and one of our very first hens.  She even hatched Mae's duck over this past summer and was such a good mama to him.  When it was below zero, Melly stayed in the house and slept in a dog crate.  She had just finished molting and had begun laying eggs again when she was lost.  I was pretty torn up, too as I always am, but I think because she has always been my best gal, too.  She would often snuggle up on the couch with me and my fluffy black baby dog or sit and look out the back door with our lady dog.  She would pitter patter around the house and show up in bedrooms unexpectedly. When it was cold out but not too cold out, I would carry her around in my coat while I did my outside chores. My mom (and Nate too) were like, um... you guys can't get so attached to these chickens.  We have SO many predators!  But, we're not attached to any of them like we were to her. She was just a damn fine bird. 

And obviously there is no replacing that girl, but we are dampening the sting a bit with our new snuggle bunny....

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This is Mr. Indigo Rabbit. Now, we've had such a strange collection of animals come through these doors over the years and every time there's a day or two of introductions between the predator and prey members of the family.  Normally, this whole thing goes very smoothly and everyone catches on to the idea of not eating each other, basically ignoring that the others exist.  Indigo Rabbit has been the exception to the rule in a of couple of ways.  First, Carter, fluffly little baby dog, is obsessed with this rabbit.  The first couple of days we kept him in his cage or on the lower level until he was acclimated, but baby dog would sit at the cage and watch him for hours, cried all night at the top of the steps because the gate was up... I mean, it was getting ridiculous.  Once it was time to make introductions, our lady dog was all about making Indigo stew.  Carter would get between her and the rabbit, snapping and snarling until she backed off.  Our old man dog just sort of sniffed him and laid back down (thinking, again with this crap?)  So, I finally got our lady dog on board and she no longer pays the rabbit much mind.  Carter, however, is still following him around constantly and insisting they snuggle every chance he gets.  Near the end of the first week though, the cat - who had previously just sort of stared at him - came stalking from the kitchen with her eyes set on the rabbit.  To my surprise, it was our lady dog who jumped up and chased the cat away, then sniffed Indigo and made her way back to the couch.  There is just something about this bunny!

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't include an update on the ole hair washing situation.

So, I'm still not using shampoo.  I mentioned last month that I was considering the use of essential oils in my brushing routine because I don't want to smell like... well, dirty hair.  And even though warm water rinsing really does keep it from having an odor, I'm still of fan of smelling good!  There has been a fair amount of trial and error here, especially because my hair is so long and thick that I over-did it on my first go.  When members of the family walk in the house and shout, good lord, what is that smell!?  Um, that's an indicator that perhaps a few extra drops aren't needed.  I have found a balance that I like though - after rinsing my hair, I use a couple drops of tea tree, sometimes adding a drop of lemongrass oil and massage the oils into my scalp, then brush as usual.  Every other day between hair rinsings I use either a couple drops of tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary or rosemary and lemongrass, on dry hair, massaging into the scalp and brushing well.  I use these particular oils for two reasons.  First, they're all very refreshing, clean scents if you don't go overboard.  Second, they're all known for soothing the scalp and tea tree especially has anti-microbial/anti-bacterial/anti-fungal properties.  I think I'm really finding a balance and routine that works! As I said last month, my hair is really re-balancing and my, I don't know, old?  hair texture is returning.  I have that thick, curly, coarse, Sicilian hair that's has been the source of much anguish in my younger days, but now, with those same properties returning, I'm feeling totally at ease with it.  The frizz is far less than it used to be which helps!

A quick update, too on my true crime addiction!  I finally listened to Serial Season 1 about Adnan Syed.  I'm glad I waited because since the podcast, his case has had some breakthroughs and being able to see it all take a new direction is really intriguing.  I've been listening a bit to True Crime Garage also, but they ramble a bit.  I just have a soft spot for my local gal at Crime Junkies I guess.

Let's see if I can keep it going and see you again at the end of March!

x

Little Frosting...

Finally, right?

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This super-snuggle-sweater is now available for the small people in your life from 2T to 16y - adapted from one of my most beloved patterns to date, the Frosting Pullover from Knitscene Winter 2016 - and honestly my most worn pullover so you had might as well knit one for yourself while you're at it.

For those unfamiliar with how Little Frosting came to be, my little Mae was so in love with my   sample for Knitscene that she requested one in her size.  Being 10 at the time, I would have to re-work the pattern for her and figured I had might as well share the wealth!  Blue Sky Fibres was kind enough to provide yarn for the mini-version also, and Mae selected Aqua.  The pattern will be available here on my website exclusively and can be found in my SHOP.

Thanks for hanging in there with me while I drug my feet getting this pattern off the ground!

Between Stitches January 18

January of this 2018 has been:

Mae and I are pretty much obsessed with Jain and tend to put her on full blast when we're doing housework together.  We are still, of course, a family of Die Antwoord listeners and Alien is the song of choice most days (Caution: Die Antwoord is not for children or adults who are offended easily.  They're a South African group and their lyrics are mostly inappropriate.  We have been huge fans since $0$ debuted and Mae swears she and Yolandi are kin.  They are also the main characters in Chappy which we all saw in the theater - obviously.).

I've been working on my Italian again but I'm still stuck in the same rut that stifled my progress the first time around.  I can read you well, Italian, and infer meaning, but to pull the words, phrases, and sentences together and speak conversationally is downright hard.  I'm really grasping now to get over the hump and have started researching Italian movies that I can watch.  I think it's the closest thing I have to immersion.  Alizah, my mom, and I have all decided it's total bullshit that my grandparents never spoke Italian to their children.  My mom said the kids would play in the living room and the adults would sit around the kitchen table having adult-only conversations in Italian, but never shared the language with the children.  And so now, I'm sitting around between rows of knitting, stumbling over the feminine and masculine singulars and plurals in tense and time like I'm padding around in the dark.

In addition to the Lore podcast which is my rainy day go-to for binge listening, I've been listening to Crime Junkies which is new and local.  The girls and I wake up excited for Monday because our local radio show does Murder Monday with the host of the Crime Junkies podcast.  We basically live for it.  I've also watched nearly every episode of Forensic Files - even the ones from way back when, but I'm on a Criminal Minds kick right now (not true crime, but still entertaining enough).  I don't think many people know about my crime obsession, but I guess the cat is out of the bag as the saying goes.  My grandfather was a detective and my mom said she had reoccurring nightmares that one of the bad guys her dad caught would escape and come after them.  Maybe my obsession is a trickle down from him, which would honestly be no surprise.  If you think my love for crime stops at podcasts and tv shows, you'd be mistaken.  I once saw a real life crime scene investigator at one of Alizah's band concerts and swooned like he was a celebrity. I asked Mae to chase him down with me so I could get a pic with him but she yelled at that it was WAY TOO EMBARRASSING, then hid her face in her sweater.

Alizah turned 17.  It's a blow with each year, but man.  I'm just not into it at all.  Everyone thinks I'm nuts - and yes, I literally cry when anyone starts talking about her being an adult and going to college - but it is what it is.  I hate it.  I wonder how I'll be when Mae starts rounding the bend to adulthood.  I hope I'm getting all of my growing pains out now so that I don't go through this again.  The first is just the hardest with everything though - at least in my case.

It has officially been two months since I've used shampoo.  Gross.  No, not really.  Have you heard about the no-poo movement?  Ya, I hadn't either, but I guess it's that universal consciousness rearing its ugly head again.  I had stopped washing my hair with shampoo around the same time I stopped using my deodorant (going full savage).  Really, it started because my lymph nodes were so swollen in my pits that I was in tears.  I started just washing my pits each morning with mild, natural soap, then using coconut oil with essential oils blended in as deodorant until my nodes calmed down.  I felt like I was becoming allergic to the modern world.... and asked my granny what they did before shampoo hit the mass market.  Granny is aged and has had multiple strokes now, so it was understandable that she couldn't really remember. 

I hit the net and found all sorts of no-poo warriors.  What I gathered is that the key is using a hog bristle brush every day and brushing thoroughly.  And so I got my hands on one and did as told.  I was still rinsing my hair with hot water once a week or a bit more frequently.  At about week three I felt like grease was probably just rolling off my head and onto my face and neck.  It was... disgusting.  I used about a dime size of natural cleanser at my neck, around my face, and on the crown of my head to knock down the perceived oil.  I say perceived because I may or may not have been imagining it - like, it wasn't visible and I couldn't feel anything when I touched the areas, it was the areas themselves that felt gross.  That was the last time I used a cleanser.  I have really thick, coarse, long hair and after that little dime of cleansing conditioner touched me, my hair was all frizzed up and dry looking.  I kid you not, it was so weird.

I kept brushing and rinsing with hot water, really exfoliating the scalp and focusing on those same areas I had used the cleanser on because you know, I just thought they needed it.  After the first month, things started to balance out.  I had read this online and was like, ha, ya, ok, stupid.  Because how does your hair just stop being greasy and itchy and gross?  I still have no answers.  All I know is that my hair was suddenly starting to get more frizzy and dry with each hot water rinse and so I started spreading those out, too.  Now, I'm going about a week and a half between rinsing and my hair is dry (as in, not oily), is regaining it's old, regular fluffiness, and natural curl.  Somewhere around the two week mark it was not fluffy or curly at all.  Sometimes I worry that it's gonna have that stinky, dirty hair smell even if it looks and feels totally normal so I'm currently just combating that by making sure the bristle brush is cleaned with soap and water weekly if not more often.

As far as deodorant (since I'm sure you're just dying to know), I've been alternating the use of the coconut oil/essential oil blend with Schmidt's natural deodorant which is pretty fantastic.  My pits aren't trying to ruin my life anymore either, so, that's good.

You know I'm always teetering between sharing and saving the going-ons of my personal life, but I'm feeling my way.  I'd like to share a bit of personal goings-on at the end of each month, but knowing me I'll be mid April and I'll be like, Oh crap... whoops.  So, I may or may not be here.  If I am, I'm sure you'll get to read all sorts of weird stuff about me you never would have guessed.  

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Little Frosting Preview

I posted on IG a while back that I had been "collaborating" with Mae on her very own Frosting Pullover as released in Knitscene Winter 2016.  I love my Frosting Pullover and wear it often, so when she said she wanted one for all the reasons I love mine so much - the fuzzy yarn, the roomy/snuggle-worthy fit, the cozy cowl neck - I figured she probably wasn't going to be the only kiddo that would want one and set to work writing a mini-version.  Blue Sky Fibres was kind enough to provide support in the yarn color of Mae's choosing (Aqua, if you're wondering) and I made quick work of Mae's mini sample.  She has been wearing it constantly since autumn settled in - and when I say 'constantly' I mean, even to bed.

I literally had to chase her around the house to get her outside for these pics.  I mean, hello you adorable creature... why are you making this so difficult!?  But, that's pre-teens for you.  Alizah might as well be Sasquatch as often as I can get a non-blurry photo of her (and that's teens... sigh).  Anyways... her Little Frosting in all it's glory.

I'll be releasing the pattern after the first of the year.  I really just need to get through this last design for my interim before I can seriously divert my focus.  Also, before I dash and prepare for guests, I must mention that she's wearing the Evangeline Toque (an oldie but a goodie!) - the pattern is available HERE if you're interested.

Happy Holidays, people.  I'll likely see you on the other side. 

x

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Between Stitches

The falling away from public access is such a natural and useful process - especially for us hermit-like folks who find the solitude of home and family rejuvenating.  I always feel that twinge of guilt after a long blog hiatus (according to the kids, blogs are dead anyways) but I'm trying to scuff that off.  Why should I feel guilty for not documenting and publicly sharing everything that's going on?  Because it used to be a tool for me to document and remember the moments - my thoughts and feelings on them - writing to myself, really, my future self.  Scrolling through old journals are so bittersweet as re-reading the feelings of the time bring back those feelings and some of them, sometimes, are heavy and painful.

I'm working through it, here on what has become a knitting site where I can rarely share my knitting because who the hell has time to knit for fun or for family or for friends these days!?  But, I'm not just a knitter and I have to be okay with the fact that this is still my space to do with as I please and to share what my life is and what's really happening between stitches.

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It is, of course, no secret that I'm working on my second book... and this does take up a majority of my days.  I am lucky to have an editor that has some faith in me as we round the corner from green author to one, not seasoned by any means, but maybe one with a pinch of salt.  She has let go of the reins and let me take the lead in all things from color palette to yarns - the dream - the control - the trust.  About a week ago, I looked over at the finished samples that are slowly stacking up and I thought, what is going on here?  Are any of these colors actually going to flow the way I had imagined in those early stages?  This looks like a god-damned wreck and it's going to be all my fault.  Honestly, why would she trust me with the very important task of curating this collection on my very own... as a sad, lonesome little author?  So, I grabbed all of the yarn I had received, and the samples that had already been completed, getting to work organizing and visualizing and doing all of the "izing".... oh.  So, apparently it should actually work out perfectly.  But, you know, that's the thing with taking on a big project like this - and being human - doubt creeps in.  I don't care if I'm working on my 50th book, I'm sure there will be a moment that takes hold, whispering from behind my ear, you don't know what the hell you're doing.

With that ugly mess behind me, I'm grinding out the last pattern for my interim deadline.  I'm still ahead of schedule and that has me feeling good.  Talking with some friends the other night, in inevitably comes up - how's the book coming along?  When will it be released?  You know, the usual stuff, and then the looks of horror - that long from now?  Well ya.  And future me may be looking at these designs like, ugh, what an amateur.  Of course, that always gets a laugh followed by a resounding, no way!  But that's the thing that differentiates most designers from most knitters.  Most knitters like to work within their comfort zone, not eager to tackle a project that requires they learn a whole new inventory of cast-ons and bind-offs and bazaar shaping.  Most designers live for learning those things.  Building your skill-set and knowing when and how to use all of those different techniques is part of the joy in design.  And so, for that reason, there is really always a chance that I'll feel that way.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing, it's just a thing.  I know the way the publishing world operates, and I know why, so this little feeling is just that.

I'm also in the thick of salve-making season.  I spoke a bit about the harvest and my salves in my last post so I'm not really going to dive into it here, now, again.  Just know that all of the fruits of my labors back in October are now being reaped after the long extraction processes.  I don't know why winter has to be such a dirt bag, but it is and so my dry, achy body has been gulping up the gifts of summer.  A new fun thing that came about this year is some stupid eczema that is blistery and painful on my palms.  "Avoid handling wool" I kid you not, that's one of the recommended ways to avoid irritating the condition.  HA! I said to myself as I read and knit away using my 100% wool yarn for this cabled, over-sized, long-sleeved, beast.  SO, I guess that's my life now.  Though, the salves are helping tremendously.  Calendula is a doll.

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Mae, the bird, pictured running wild with my little baby dog, has been at a charter school on the other side of town for about 2.5 years now.  The school is basically amazing - they use their own wind power with about a half dozen mills on the property, they raise chickens, goats, and bees.  They have an FDA-approved cheese making kitchen to process their goat milk, and they have about a half acre of gardens, not including the huge greenhouse that produces year-round and the dozens of fruit trees and berries growing on the grounds.  During the warmer months they sell their cheese, honey, veg, and the like to help fund a program for students over the summer that not only teaches urban gardening, they pay these kids a wage and teach how to budget a household.

As amazing as all that is, I was watching the neighbor's son the other day and told him we were going to go to Mae's school to visit the goats. First, he thought I was saying "ghosts" and was like, ya right lady.  Then he figured out I was saying "goats" like at the zoo and not "ghosts" that say wooooo (all of this in his words).  Now, the chickens just run around all over the place, which he's used to from being at my house.  He is not used to the sight of a woman milking a goat.  The "goat lady" as the kids call her asked if he'd like to help milk but he just stared at her.  The next morning my neighbor called and asked if I wanted to hear a funny story.  Duh, of course I do.  Apparently the kiddo told his dad he had a great day with me except for when the lady at Mae's school squeezed a goat weenie until milk came out.

You know, kids are seriously the best.  I was dead. Also, I'm sure I've had some hand in traumatizing him.

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In other news, if you've been following me on IG, which honestly is the only social media I can keep up with in any way, you may know that I have some sort of green/blue egg curse that all began with our EE Sylvia.  That little rascal has never, ever laid and egg and she's now officially well past her first birthday.  My mama said she'd take her into her flock if I decide her free-loading days are over.  Last spring, I excitedly called and put on hold an OE the day the listings went up at our local chick shop.  When it was time to retrieve the little darlings I had high hopes... and then her comb came in small but straight and not looking like a pea comb at all.  Those gorgeous olive eggs I was dreaming of came out more of a mauve - very cool I'll admit but, seriously?  Her last egg before she began molting is pictured above on the left.  Gorgeous, but no green for sure.  So, my last ditch effort came in the form of another EE (Sylvia's replacement if she's a producer) and an Ameracauna.  I thought with my luck the Ameracauna would be defective somehow and the EE would lay brown eggs because I was at the point where I couldn't shake the pessimism/didn't want to get my hopes up.  Six and seven months pass - neither is laying.  In fact, the EE actually had sickle feathers and I thought she might turn out to be a roo! It was a real emotional rollercoaster.  The EE did drop her sickles and never crowed, assuring me that she was just ... going through a phase or something.  

The other day, our Ameracauna broke the curse and gave us our first blue egg.  Finally!  Now, I'm really just waiting to see what the EEs are going to do.  Sylvie just molted and Mae is pretty convinced this means she's now going to lay eggs since her feathers came back with a completely different coloring, like a splash hen.  She's definitely the optimist around here.

I'm already looking through the seed catalogs (hello new black corn that can be used as a natural dye & cold hardy fig trees) and the chick catalogs (hello cream legbar who will be a great little blue layer like our sweet Violet) which is a good sign.  I'm always most eager about spring when I feel balanced.

X

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