Tag Archives: miss babs

This and That Before 2017 – A Knitting Catch Up and The Inspired by Islay Club

I’d say “my it’s been a long time,” but that’s how this blog has gone for years, I suppose.  I’ve picked a word for 2017, and I’ll talk about that later this week (yep, really, I will!), but an element of my word is consistency, so I’m going to come up with a plan for being more consistent here in this little space of mine.  Perhaps I’ll sit down on Sunday and write a bunch of short posts I schedule to publish throughout the week, or maybe I’ll commit (hint hint) to blogging twice a week.  I’m not sure yet, I’m still figuring it all out, but I do know that I don’t want to ditch the whole thing, so I’ll come up with something.

So, this week I’m going to do a series of catch up posts, just a little this and that before the new year.  First up, knitting!

In my knitting world, I finished the gigantic sweater I knit for my husband (a sweater for a 6’4″ guy is necessarily going to be gigantic, so I knew what I was getting into, but it still didn’t make it any less of a, cough, cough, slog – miles and miles of stockinette.  I’d show you a photo, but I haven’t actually taken a picture of it yet – which is strange, because he’s already worn it a couple of times, and it is his favorite of the three sweaters I’ve knit for him.  And, that, in and of itself, was a lesson learning thing.  The first two sweaters I knit for him were lovely – last year’s sweater was Guston in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, and a few years before that, Brooklyn Tweed’s Cobblestone, in Katmandu Aran.  Both sweaters, two me, were fab – texture and tweedy yarn.  Joe, however, really doesn’t like anything that isn’t structured, and he likes a smooth yarn, rather than a tweed.  So, this year, I let him pick the pattern (sort of, he described what he wanted, and I found it), and I let him pick the yarn.  And, now he has his fitted neck, saddle shoulder, ribbed sweater that he always wanted, Churchmouse Yarn’s Saddle Shoulder Pullover.  This pattern was frankly ridiculously expensive, but it got the job done.  My one problem was that rather than the instructions being in inches (like knit until armhole is x inches), it was knit 97 rows, or whatever.  This was done intentionally, as there’s a whole section on getting gauge, including row gauge, as well as how to add length here and there, to get a better fit.  I’m just not all that concerned with row gauge, and I like my instructions in inches.  Because I’m a lazy counter, I had to do some fudging sewing the saddle and the sleeve into place, because I didn’t have quite the same number of rows where they were supposed to be, but you would never know from looking at it, and all is good.

On the selfish knitting front, you may remember this:

This is Islay, from I think Gudrun Johnson.  I abandoned Islay because I a. ran out of yarn, and had to order more and b. it was time to knit giganto husband sweater.  When I picked it up again, I didn’t remember where I was, and of course, I hadn’t written it down.  I couldn’t figure it out, didn’t love it, decided to part ways with it, and knit something else.  So, I decided I wanted to knit this with my precious Miss Babs, Baby Cocktails’ Dirty Martini:

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You would think this would be an easy color to find a contrast – grey, maybe.  But, I tried at least a half a dozen colors, yes, I actually swatched, and hated them all.  Meh.  So, I abandoned that idea (although I still want to knit this cardigan), and waited for something to come to me.

And, what came to me, ironically enough, was the Inspired by Islay Club from Kate Davies.  Back to the Hebrides!  I signed up for the club around Thanksgiving, but the first pattern didn’t come out until the second week in December.  I couldn’t wait, and I cast on Kate’s Braid Hills, not part of the club, but still a Hebredian inspiration:

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Perfect right?  So, here’s mine, just about the same place I ripped out the other Islay:

Anyway, no offense to the first Islay, but I’m so much happier with this version of my Miss Babs.  And, this is actually a pretty good representation of the color, as opposed to the grayer photo above – it’s a really beautiful, vibrant blue green.

I have long been a Kate Davies fan.  I’ve knit Paper Dolls, and her owls sweater, and I’ve admired her yokes and her haps.  I even have a fan girl photo:

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That’s Kate and I in 2009 when she visited Philadelphia.  Of course, I look at that photo, and I see how thin I was, and think, “oh my, how did I get from there to here,” but that’s a post for another day.

Digression over.  Of course, now I’m midknit while the Inspired by Islay patterns roll out – 12 patterns over 12 weeks, and 12 newsletters filled with the most gorgeous photos of Scotland, and little history lessons to accompany each pattern.  The patterns come out on Wednesday, the newsletter on Fridays.  The newsletters also include Kate’s husband Tom’s whiskey reviews and recommendations.  Not only am I inspired to knit Islay inspired patterns, I am totally inspired to visit Scotland, and stay in a caravan and stare out over the lochs, and climb the foothills in my Islay inspired socks.  Not only do you get the 12 patterns and 12 newsletters for $36, you also get a discount code for Kate’s yarn, Buachaille.  So, for $3 a pattern, free whiskey advice and dream inspiring photos, and a coupon for  Scottish yarn, it is completely worth it.  There’s also a nice Ravelry group as well, but you can join the group without joining the club.

The first Inspired by Islay pattern is Kate’s wedding cardigan, Finlaggen:

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I think this is the pattern that I’ll order my Buachaille for – although I’m going to wait for all 12 patterns to come out before I decide.  I love the heart shaped cables, the shawl collar, and the ribbed waistline.  I’m thinking I’ll forego the pockets though.  So, this might just be the Winter of Islay, which shall hopefully not be my winter of discontent.  In any event, if you are at all a Kate Davies fan, you should definitely check out the club – it’s a bargain, it’s delightful, and it’s inspiring.

Tomorrow, a crochet catch up, and another club!

Still Not a Closer

As predicted, my one-handed, fast and wrong bead glazing and drying technique was a bit of a disaster – I lost a handful of beads that stuck together because they were strung too closely while they were drying.  At least it wasn’t a surprise – it was pretty darn predictable once I had it all strung up – just with only one hand, I was somewhat helpless to start all over again.

But, I did rescue enough beads to string up a ladder bracelet:

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I didn’t have any leather cord in my stash, just hemp, so I went with that.  And, I broke out the new C-Lon cord that I bought for my next up Eclectic Beaded Crochet Jewelry class.  I did taped down my button closure, did some macramé knots to get it started, and laddered on down to a finished bracelet.

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As you can see, I tacked down my loop with the same macramé stitches with which I began, and I thought my loop was secure.  Wrong.

My husband is always asking me why I don’t sell my finished objects on Etsy.  First, the only thing that I think I make that is sellable quality is my knitting, and unless I come up with my own design for a small item – like mitts or a hat, the time v. expense v. profit analysis just isn’t worth it.  If I make a shawl, I’m probably spending at least – well, let’s not guess, let me look at the last shawl I made – which was super expensive.

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I made the Spice Market Shawl with a Miss Babs gradient set, $76 (now $83 in her online store), and then I ran out of the main color, and I had to buy an additional $26 skein to finish the project.  I think the pattern cost $8 or something close to that.  So, to break even, I’d have to start pricing at $110.  Now, what would someone pay for this?

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It’s hard for me to say. My motivation for making something is rarely “I love that shawl so much I have to wear it, and it must be a part of my wardrobe,” it’s “I love that yarn, I love that pattern, I really want to knit it.”  Once it’s finished, of course, I’m happy to wear it, but I’m a process knitter, not a product knitter.  But, I’ll render a guess that someone might spend $150-$200 on this handmade item created with luxury yarn.  But is my labor only worth 50-100?  That comes to less than $10/hr.  Obviously, I didn’t log my hours knitting this, but it took more than 10.  And, I have zero motivation to knit it again.

So, the only way I’d knit to sell is if I came up with my own one of a kind small item pattern that I could crank out in a fairly short amount of time, and use 1-2 skeins of luxury yarn.

So, until that time, my only marketable craft skill just isn’t worth it to me.

What does that have to do with the beads.  Well, while I may sew a lot of things, and put together some jewelry here or there – I just don’t think my workmanship is of the sellable quality.  I have never made a piece of jewelry that hasn’t, over time of course, fallen apart in someway – with the wrap bracelets, inevitably my button or my loop comes loose.  I made a lot of these ladder bracelets a few years back, and all of them eventually came apart at the button or the loop.

When I finished this ladder bracelet, Joe asked if I could sell it, and I pondered a moment – the paper beads are inexpensive, the wrapping/laddering only takes an hour or so – and then I stopped myself.  Let’s see if this holds together.

And, it didn’t.  Even though I had macramé knotted the loop closure down, it opened up.  Sigh.

But, there is hope!

I have now watched all of Robin Dudley-Howes Eclectic Beaded Crochet class, and she has an awesome, three part method for securing her closures.  I was so happy when she admitted that before she discovered her method, her jewelry fell apart too.  I really do enjoy successful crafters and artisans sharing their fails as well as their successes.  Anyway, I’m now thinking that selling my stuff might be entirely possible.  Forget the paper beads for the most part – back to the junk jewelry beads, flea market beads, beads from broken jewelry.  And, the crochet bracelets are back in my wheelhouse – fiber, stitching – all good!  And, because I do know how to crochet beyond chaining, slip stitching, and single crochet, I’m thinking how I can add other stitches, and make bracelets that look more like my own.  Anyway, the cogs in ye old brain are turning.  But, I am so far ahead of myself.  Let’s get that bracelet closed properly first!  And, I will leave you with that, as I await my ThreadZapper II from my Amazon Prime 2 day shipping!

Back tomorrow with a Yarn Along, and a spur of the moment finished object!

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Yarning Along, Again With the Hook

When last I left off, I had run out of yarn for my Shetland Trader, Islay. While I sweated it out (literally and figuratively, as the weather has yet to get the message that summer is winding down) waiting for my yarn to arrive from Miss Babs, I decided to do a stash dive, and once again, attempt to finish a crocheted afghan.

Enter the Lotus Moon Tile CAl from Polly Plum. I’ve been an admirer of Polly since the Sophie’s Universe MKAL, when I cribbed her RBG colorway scheme. I like her aesthetic, and I was happy to find a project to distract me from the “will it or won’t it work” thoughts/dread surrounding the pending arrival of my non-dye lot skein of Rainforest Yowza What A Skein!

Of course, stash diving into a work in progress stash means accepting that the first project is no longer a project but a fail. And, I’m ok with that. I did enjoy the mystery/round by round aspect of Sophie’s Universe, but in the end, I didn’t like that it wasn’t really done when the MCAL was done, unless you wanted a finished small square. The pattern totally provided alternatives for borders, additional blocks, growing the project, etc., but I didn’t realize that’s where it was going when I started, nor how much additional work it would be. Eh, excuses – I just know in my heart I’m not going to finish either version, so I might as well use the yarn.

So, here is the baby produced by my two attempts at Sophie’s Universe, which is a mix of Valley Yarns and Michael’s Impeccable.  Yep, wool and acrylic, call me crazy.  The Valley Yarn wool is sooooo much easier to crochet with, and much easier on the hands.  Also, as you can see I’m using a generic metal crochet hook, and I’m really feeling the difference after I spoiled myself with the Clover Soft Touch with the hippo.  I may just suck it up and buy the whole set of them, we’ll see.  Crazy talk again.

Unlike Sophie’s Universe, which was a mystery CAL, Lotus Moon’s entire pattern is available from the start. The CAL is set up in weekly bunches of rounds, with accompanying video tips and tricks from Polly. You can work at your own pace, or work on the CAL schedule. I aspire to catch up to the CAL since I started a week late. The CAL is into week three, and I’m halfway done week 2, so pretty good progress!

I feel like if I went to the store, and actually picked my colors, I don’t think I would have gone with the rust color that I’m working with now, and instead of the lighter grey, I would have used a cream maybe. But, that’s about it.  Hmm, maybe I’d trade in the dark grey too, I’m not sure.  Polly just started another that uses cream for the big petal round, and I like that as well.  Doesn’t really matter though, does it – it’s well underway!

I may run out of the rust, but that’s easily, stressfree replaceable, and I may run out of the forest green, but again, an easy peasy color to get another skein.

See, Junie B isn’t worried at all!

Actually, she looks a little worried.  Huh.

And, drum roll! My Miss Babs arrived and its PERFECT!!

It’s so identical I’m wondering if this was a color they just did for Sheep and Wool and this was the last of it. But, I’m not going to wonder too long – I’m just going to wind it up, and get a move on!

 

As far as reading goes, I have nothing really to report. I had started Outlander on Starz, but then we cancelled our Starz subscription. So, I thought I’d try to get back into the books, but that meant rereading the first book, which I read over twenty years ago, and I’m not feeling it. While I was enjoying the show to a certain extent (not as much as a LOVED Stranger Things, poor Barb), I just don’t think these weighty historical romance tomes are for me anymore. But, today is payday, and I’m heading to the Amazon store, I think to buy the new Jeffrey Toobin book on Patty Hearst – I think I’m committed, but I may change my mind before I hit the buy button. Especially since I’m only one person away from securing the library’s digital copy of the new Blake Crouch novel, Dark Matter. We’ll see what happens first.

Until next week!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Maryland Sheep and Wool 2016

Knitters, High Holy Day of Wool, has once again come and gone.  This year, Knitty D, Momma Bach and I piled in the Beagle Mobile, and headed down to a soggy Howard County Fairgrounds for the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Once again, we headed straight for the Miss Babs booth, with our wishlists and our credit cards:

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Holy moley – here’s the line at Miss Babs.  Actually, it wasn’t nearly as bad as last year’s, but it was pretty drizzily.  We tag teamed shopped and waiting in line, and of course, we came out triumphant, with our gradient kits, and my Yowza:

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The light green skeins, Beachscape, I have in my arms are not actually the Yowza I went home with.  It was so crowded, I spent maybe five minutes in the booth.  I grabbed the gradient kit for the Spice Market Shawl, and then I went around the back of the booth to the wall o’ Yowza.  I grabbed the first two “identical” skeins I could find that were to my taste, and got in line.  Later, after we had paid, this fantastic peacock colored skein caught my eye, and I started to feel bad about my Beachscape.  Towards the end of the day, when the booth wasn’t so crowded, I went back and asked the nice ladies of Miss Babs flock if I could exchange the skeins, and they said no problem!  Yeah!  So, this is what I went home with:

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How much more spectacular is that blue!  And can you believe it – that’s my sheep and wool haul – Miss Babs and Socks that Rock.  I stuck to my list, and was such a good girl!

So, the weather was kind of meh all day, but we had a good time.  We visited with the sheep, alpacas and the goats.

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How much does this sheep, Adelaide, love me?!?

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The sun came out, and so did the ice cream!  And, after the festival, it was off to Woody’s Crab Shack for the most awesome seafood nachos, and of course, hard shells.  Originally, I only ordered 3, but Knitty D was like, 6, you so need six.  So half a dozen it was – and I clobbered them all.  Love me some Maryland Hardshells!

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Good times, my wooly friends, good times!

Until next year, baaaaahhhhhHH!

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Yarning Along – One Success and One Big Time Fail

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Hello knitters! Long time no see. But I have been knitting! Pretty diligently too. And, as with all things that rely on the law of averages, I have one success to report, and sadly one fail – one sad, pathetic fail.

But, the good news first. Remember that Miss Babs I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t – but here it is! Just like I said it would be – as a finished Wickerwork!  Look how pretty that yoke is!

Wickerwork is by Gudrun Johnston, aka the Shetland Trader, and was published in Twist Collective sometime last year.  Have I mentioned how much I love Twist? Each pattern is a separate PDF, which means that when the powers that be edit a pattern, there’s no concern about leaving space for ads, or the next pattern, or more ads – the only concern is about making the pattern readily understandable to the average knitter.  I don’t mean there aren’t pattern repeats designated with asterix, or that there aren’t our familiar knitterly abbreviations.  I just mean that huge chunks of necessary explanations aren’t condensed into incomprehensible run on sentences in order to save column inches.   Every Twist pattern I’ve ever bought is easy to follow, and edited with the knitter in mind.  And that’s not to say they’re easy patterns, or beginner patterns.  Some are, but the patterns for advanced knitters are written in a way that you don’t need a Rosetta stone to translate them.

Unlike the latest issue of Interweave Knits.

And, here I present the fail.

Look at that ridiculous pyramid yoke – it’s supposed to be a yoke – a circle, not a triangle!!  And you know what, that’s not my fail, pattern – that’s your fail!  Yep, that’s right – I’m calling you out, pattern.  Pattern fail, not knitter fail.

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That, above is supposed to be the entire upper yoke of a sweater for my 6’4″ husband.

Ok, let me back up.  After knitting myself a sweater, and numerous shawls and what nots, I decided that it was time to knit my husband a sweater.  This is a big undertaking in every sense of the project.  My husband is 6’4″ – that’s a lot of yarn – so it’s a big purchase.  My husband is very sensitive to the itchies, and is really picky about the fabric he wears.  He’s the one that checks the thread count when we buy sheets.  So, it’s a big, expensive purchase – no cheap yarn for him.  And then there’s the actual knitting – knitting a sweater for that tall a guy doesn’t just mean the torso is long – it’s also the arms.   The sleeves are endless.  And, of course, there are two of them.  So, it’s a big time commitment.

When I saw the Fall issue of the Interweave Knits, I was immediately drawn to this:

The Gunnislake Pullover, by the new editor of Interweave Knits.  I liked that it was rugged, and that it was knit in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter.  I liked that the sleeves were set in sleeves, and I liked the placket – I thought it would give my pretty broad husband extra room.

So, I bought the digital pattern through Zinio Magazines.  First mistake.  I don’t know if it’s the case if you buy the digital magazine straight from Interweave, but through Zinio, it is impossible to zoom in on the instructions without the pages flipping to the back of the magazine.  Also, the magazine isn’t a pdf, so it can’t be opened in ibooks, nor can it be converted to my fav, KnitCompanion.  If you are very careful, and zoom only slightly, the magazine won’t flip pages, but it’s a real pain in the butt.

After buying the magazine, I made a huge dent in my yarn allowance for probably about three months, and bought 14 balls of Shelter in the main color, and then two balls of the white contrast, and one of the red.   Because I wanted the same dye lot, my yarn store had to order it for me, and I waited two weeks for it to come in.  Then, there it was – and I cast on.  The first time I cast on, my gauge was ridiculously off – I’m a wishful thinking swatcher. But for the second go, I had Knittyd check it for me, and I was good to go.  And, just to be sure it was going to be big enough, I cast on the largest size, thinking it’s never bad, with a sweater like that, to have a bit of extra room.

And then, I started knitting.  To get started, you need to read through the entire first part of the pattern to get going and because of the way it’s written, you need to read it a few times, and a few times more, because it is edited to the nth degree to ensure that it only fit into one tiny column in the magazine.  Because of the way she did her increases – in the sleeve, and in the front, and at different rates, I had to set up a columned chart to check off the increases as I did them, and to ensure that I was on the correct row.  Ok, done. Then, it was time to start the color work – and frankly, it really didn’t look right at the get go. I put my stitches on waste yarn, and held it up to my husband – it seemed to just fit.  I figured, with the increasing in the yoke, it’s going to grow, I’ll keep going.  So, then I started the sleevecap increases, and the color work, and the  . . . nope – no chest or back increases.  Just increasing in the sleeve.  Who is this sweater for, I thought, a beanpole.  And, the increases were every other row.  Can you picture it – no increases in the front, no increases in the back, and a triangle growing at each sleeve –  totally pushing the neck up in the back – and the whole thing started to grow like a pyramid.  See photo above.

On top of the crazy increases, the colorwork repeat was squished into one chart, with different arrows for starting the front, sleeve, and back, for each size with no accounting for the increased stitches – just work them into the pattern, it said.  I think that if she had actually charted the increases, with the stitches, visually, she would have seen that this wasn’t working in the larger sizes, which had a different rate of increase than the sample that was knit, and that the model is wearing.

So, I took it off the needles again, as you see above, and I couldn’t even get it over Joe’s head its so ridiculously shaped.  So, I said fey, and threw it aside, never to be touched again.

But, I did have all of that yarn I invested in – big time investment.  Luckily, there’s a lot of pattern support for Shelter, and I went with this pattern from the ever reliable Ann Budd:

I know Ann Budd’s work, and I know the pattern is going to be correct.

But, I can tell you, it’s going to be a long time before I buy an Interweave Knits again.

Rant over.

So, what am I reading.  Like much of the reading universe, I just closed the book on The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah.

For the first about 150 pages, I just really didn’t see what all the fuss was about, but then all of a sudden, the book was on fire, and I couldn’t put it down.  And, at the end, although I hate to admit it, my eyes were definitely wet, and as I finished it right before bed, I think my pillow may have gotten a little soggy.  Loved this book, truly.

And now, on the recommendation of a friend at work, I’m reading this:

I’m not very far in – but I have to say, it’s strangely charming so far.

So, hope everyone had a great summer, and I am totally excited that fall knitting is well underway!

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Yarn Along – To Replace, or Let it Go?

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So, remember I showed you this last week, and I gushed about how happy I was about all of the jeweltoned, bright colors?

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I’ve come to my senses, and accepted the fact that it looks like Sesame Street just vomited up an avenue. So, it’s getting ripped, and I’ll probably make a pair of socks out of it, because I do still love the yarn, I just don’t want to wear it around my neck. So much for tricking my mother into swapping the Earth Shawl for this.

After all of that – because I did knit all the way to the stripe section before I decided that it looked like rainbow barf – I cast on a sure thing. Here is the beginning Wickerwork in this Summer’s issue of Twist Collective, by Gudrun Johnson,  in Miss Bab’s Yowza:

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It’s starts off with a provisional cast on, which evolves into a hem. So much work, but I really like this finished edge:

And, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m going on another Gudron Johnson adventure, her first Mystery KAL:

Another mystery!!  After reading her forums, I decided to go with this laceweight I have in my stash.  Based on everyone’s questions, and her answers (she has been very active in the forums, commenting on people’s yarn choices, answering questions, etc. – I think it’s a really good sign for a good Mystery KAL!), I think it’ll work.  If not, I’ll just rip out the first clue and start again in my skein of Wollmeise, which I was going to use as the contrast color to my above failed Cameo, but I’ll be happy to use it alone in this project.

The shawl is knit in three parts, and she recommends either using one color or three colors.

So, as I’ve clearly let the Sesame Street regurg go, what is my title talking about?  Well, I need some advice.  Here is my dilmena.  I invested in a set of Knitter’s Pride interchangeable circular needles, sizes 4-11.  I knit a project with the fours and loved them.  Then, when I was twisting my needle off of the cable, my needle snapped.  Drat!  So, I ordered a replacement set from Webs.  I took the set out of the packaging, assumed they were fine, and put them in the case.  But, they were not fine – it turns out the screws inside the tip are stripped, and they won’t screw on the cable.  Fine, I’ll call Webs, they have great customer service, no problem.  In the meantime, I’ll cast on on a five.  So, I set up my five’s for Sesame barf, and wouldn’t you know it – I sat on the needles, and totally broke the tip.  So, now I have to get replacement tips for the 5.

Or do it?  Maybe these needles just aren’t worth all of the trouble.  While I love the join (where as I hate the join on the Hiya Hiya set that I have), and I loved the 4’s, I didn’t love the 5’s so much – I thought the tip was really blunt.  And, there’s the issue of the breakage.  I didn’t sit on the needle in some crazy position – the wood is just really soft, and it snapped like a twig.  Is it worth replacing?  Maybe I should just let this set go, and maybe get a set of Addi’s for my birthday.  But I do really like the join . . .

Any thoughts?  All advice welcome!

Hope everyone’s knitting is going smoother than mine!

On the other hand, my reading is back on the right track.  I mentioned last post that I was probably going to start this book:
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And, indeed I did.  I’m really enjoying it, but I think I’d be enjoying it more if I remembered the first book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.  I remember the first book well enough – a basic outline of the story, the characters he meets on the way, the revelations he has, the ending.  But, I don’t remember all of the minute. finer details – so while I see that Queenie sees things much differently than Harold, I feel like I need to go back to the first book to get the full effect.  But, I like it, and it feels to good to be in the middle of something, not slogging through the beginning of something I know I’ll never finish.

Thanks for stopping by, and let me know what you think about the Knitter’s Pride Needles!