One of my biggest struggles — as a knitter — is keeping my stash organized, both physically and logistically. I mean, I know I should stay on top of entering new acquisitions into Ravelry, but it’s easy to get sidetracked, isn’t it? And when I’m looking through new projects, I’m thinking about what I have in my stash that I can use so I can cast on immediately and jump right in. This is my cycle: Whenever I travel to a new city, I usually visit a local yarn shop to see what’s up, and before you know it, I’ve found something I can’t leave without and it basically just follows me home (obviously not my fault). Once I get back, I put it in a pile to log it, photograph it, and then (god willing I actually get to this point) I finally put it with the others — usually to discover that I had something very similar in my stash already. But how would I know this? I have yarn stashed in boxes, bags, and bins in three different places in my house.

It was time to make a change.

In March, my online knitting friends decided they all needed to clean up their stashes as well, so we dubbed the effort March Stashness and got to work. I pulled yarn out of all the places it had been squirreled away, verified the yarn that was in Ravelry, and the yarn that still needed to get added. For the month of March, we organized, cataloged, photographed and stashed our yarn, loading it all into Ravelry, filling in the missing bits of information and, at the end of the month, we were all feeling mighty proud of ourselves. It’s a great feeling when your stash is actually organized in Ravelry; you can sort by weight, base, dyer; you can easily put colors together for projects and, weirdly, it motivates you to knit more things. But it’s not enough to have your stash sorted digitally; sometimes you really have to see the yarn, feel the fiber, discover how colors play together in the same light so that you know you have the perfect skeins for the project. I, for one, am a sensory knitter — I want to knit with colors that speak to me, and there’s nothing as disappointing as choosing colors from a computer screen only to find out when you get the skeins together that the pixels have deceived you. So it became clear I would need to figure out how to create physical organization too.

Over the summer, my knitters decided we should do another stash cleanup, so Stash of July was launched. For this effort, I decided to get my project room organized once and for all: I bought an IKEA 5 x 5 KALLAX shelving unit and had it delivered. It took me the better part of a night to build it by myself (I do these insane things whenever TheCop is away; it’s just easier for so many reasons) and the next day I started to fill it up, loosely organized by weight (laceweight on the left, increasing to worsted and bulky on the right). The top row is specifically for ESK yarns (I referenced my mixed feels for limiting Yarnathon projects to only ESK yarn in an earlier post).

I don’t have everything here yet, but I’ve noticed an immediate difference: since there’s actually a place to put it, now new yarn comes into the house and gets photographed, cataloged, and put on the shelf within a day or two. It’s easy to see what I have and to shop my own stash instead of buying something new online (which both my wallet and TheCop greatly appreciates). It finally dawned on me that I was failing because I needed both a method of tracking my stash along with a method of storing my stash in order to see what I have and get excited about why I bought the yarn in the first place. I mean, my project room might look like a LYS but hey; if I’m shopping it, then that works, right?

I can’t wait to see what I do for Declutter December.

In January, I did something against my better judgement. I joined some online friends in participating in Yarnathon, EatSleepKnit’s yearlong gamified knitting event. This is my first year of participating; I watched my friends working on it last year and I’ll admit I did have a bit of FOMO as I lurked in the Yarnathon channel. It’s been a bit of a struggle to catch on, since most of these knitters have done it for many years running, but I’m managing. It’s got enough different ways of earning points, yardage, and badges that it pretty much offers something for everyone from flash challenges and year long challenges to stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new skills. The technologist in me can really appreciate the gamification of knitting but I have to admit, the knitter in me chafes at some of the rules of the game. What’s even more interesting to me are the things I’m learning about myself, nine years into knitting as a past time.

  • I do like knitting with small groups, but not big ones.
  • I don’t like starting projects if I don’t know at the outset what it will look like.
  • I do like being challenged — but when I get to choose the challenge.
  • I do like buying yarn.
  • I don’t like being forced to buy yarn.
  • I do like having check ins on big projects — but to keep me on task, not to win a prize.
  • I do love spreadsheets.
  • I don’t like random knitting deadlines. There’s already enough of them in real life.
  • Finally, I really resent not being able to knit the projects I want in the yarn I want.

I think, all in all, that last one is what frustrates me the most. All Yarnathon projects must be knit with yarn purchased from ESK (who, as a random aside, has an amazing kickass invoicing system that does an unbelievable job of tracking your purchases. Seriously, it’s awe inspiring). Don’t get me wrong — I get that this event is a lot of effort throughout the year and I also acknowledge that for a small yarn shop, there’s always got to be a way to leverage the games to their advantage. But I do get frustrated at not being able to use the readily available resources that I’ve already purchased over the years. The game gets you amped up to knit, and I’ve already got a lot of sweet yarn matched up to projects to knit, just waiting in the wings. I’d really love to be able to whittle down that list a bit, you know? I’ve also never been monogamous to a single store; instead I shop wherever I travel and purchase local yarn when I can. So yeah, my stash was a significant size before I ever decided to join the Yarnathon groupthink. But it got significantly bigger over the first couple of months, as I bought a not insignificant amount of yarn from them just to be able to participate. Maybe that’s just the entrance price you pay to join the game. But you know it’s craziness that I hit the 10K yard mark on my birthday — which is in mid-January. Enough said, and nobody breathe a word of this to TheCop or I may have to kill you. #manslaughterismessy

Overall, I’ve come to realize I knit when I feel like knitting, on projects I want to knit. I don’t knit just to hit some benchmark; I knit because I enjoy the process of creating and the journey along the way. It’s taken me a while to figure out how to best play the game but, now that I’ve learned more about why I knit and what sort of projects I gravitate towards, I’m able to do a better job of balancing between Yarnathon projects and non-Yarnathon projects. I’ve learned I’m pretty good at making projects qualify for multiple badges (great ROI on my effort!); but I can also easily get caught up in the yardage race (not such a great ROI on my wallet. Repeat after me, Robin: “YOU DO NOT NEED MORE YARN”). It’s also getting easier to take a break and work on something just because I want to, and not because it will earn a badge. The nicest thing is, I have friends that help me when I need it and offer a wealth of knowledge to draw upon. That’s probably what I love most about the challenge, and that has nothing to do with spending money. Just knitters being knitters, yo.

Game on.

Last week saw me finally complete 100 blocks of my Hue Shift afghan. Woohoo!

My greens and creams Hue Shift blanket in a pile on my coffee table.Love the color, love the pattern, love, Love, LOVE it.

Let me just say that last column was a study in tension and nerves of steel. I knew going into this project that yardage would be a bit of a mystery because I was using worsted and the pattern was written for sport or DK. All Ravelry research told me that no matter what you use, odds are that you’ll be waaay too close to the end of your skeins, which is why I went with Dream In Color for most of the colors — at 250 yds a skein, it was the best buy. Because I was trying to get a specific range between light and dark, I also used Madelinetosh Vintage (200 yds), Malabrigo Rios (210 yds) and Mrs. Crosby Steamer Trunk (165 yds HOLY CRAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!?) all of which I had to buy two skeins right at the start. I didn’t start weighing my skeins until after the 6th or 7th column but, as predicted, it was close.


Before the last row.


After the last row.


Despite my learning curve and the occasional effed up stitch, I’m a very happy camper with it. I debated quite a bit on whether or not to put a border on it but, in the end, adding a border won out for the very practical reason that I wish the afghan was just a bit bigger. I figured a two inch border should do the trick.

Unfortunately, there’s always a hiccup in the plan, and this hiccup was that I don’t like the look of the border the pattern tells you to use. I wanted a simple mitred corner garter stitch border. How hard was that really?

Yeeeeaaaah. Turns out, it’s harder than you’d think when you start trying to figure out the mechanics of it. Remember, garter stitch requires you to turn your project over and go the other way. Try as I might, I couldn’t suss out how to make this work the way I wanted it to. But folks, Google and TECHknitter — bless her awesome heart! — is your friend. She knew there’d knitters like me searching for how to knit garter stitch in the round and she points us to this post by Fleegle wherein I could find the easy answer to the very problem that stymied me:

Use two skeins.

IMG_9192I am gobsmacked by it’s simplicity and, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you it works like a charm. Absolutely BRILLIANT. Which is good that it’s easy, because after picking up 1,000 stitches for the border, it currently takes me a bit over an hour and a half to get around this afghan ONCE. Which means 3.5 hours for a single garter ridge. Which, given that my gauge here is 1″ = 6 ridges, translates to 39 straight hours of fun and frolic.

I think I’ll be at this for a very long time.



Edited to add: I’ve culled some interesting resource bits and pieces on garter stitch edges, and thought it might be useful to list them here — at least until the links break.

Tidy Garter Stitch Edges

Knitting a [blanket] border I’m in love with the Rachael Rabbit’s Continuous Cable Border Pattern, listed here.

My Blankets & Borders & Colors Pinterest board is great place to find ideas and inspiration for both borders and blankets.



Hello? *tap tap tap* Is this thing on?

So hey. How’s it going? *cue nervous laughter* It’s been a while forever, I know. There’s no real excuse other than when I consolidated blogs, I fully intended to start this back up but it just sort of got lost in the shuffle. I’ve had a hard time consistently blogging over the last few years. Yes, there’s been stuff going on but lately I’ve noticed I just don’t seem to be getting traction — anywhere. There’s been a lot of false starts and general idling and a severe lack of follow through on my main blog. Much of this is probably due to the fact that I use my writing to process my shit, and there’s just been a bit too much shit lately. I’ve been wondering if I’m just feeling too much pressure to perform, you know?

But I have been knitting. Consistently, methodically, habitually knitting. I’ve also noticed I’ve been consistently posting on Instagram. Stories about my life. Stories about my knitting. Stories about my dog. And it seems to me that maybe this is a perfect case of finding the middle ground in my life rather than focusing on the extremes. Focusing not on perfection, but on simply getting something into the world to see the light of day, warts and all. So yeah, I’m not customizing my WP theme, and I’m not going to make sure all my pictures are pretty. Because that’s where the pressure lurks to make things shiny. I may get around to eventually updating the header image to a more yarny-type shot, but I’m gonna try to be cool and go with the flow. As Ze Frank points out,

Perfectionism may look good in his shiny shoes but he’s a little bit of an asshole, and no one invites him to their pool parties.

So yeah. Let’s not think of this as a stepping stone to other things; let’s just think of it as the beginning of something. And if you happen to be feeling stagnant too, then welcome! I offer you companionship on this journey. Maybe we can help each other to move forward and find our purpose once again. Even if we just have some fun with the process, then that will be well worth the effort of “good enough.”

My pencils are sharp enough. Even the dull ones will make a mark.

Warts and all. Let’s start this shit up.

Six months ago I finished my Color Affection. In laceweight. It’s gorgeous, believe me, but by the time I’d finished juggling three different color skeins for that many rows of garter stitches (in laceweight) I’d had enough. I decided I was wearing it as is, no blocking necessary. (Because LACEWEIGHT.) But this weekend, I finally got around to blocking a bunch of things and, almost as an afterthought, I decided to block Color Affection too.

Have you ever tried blocking curved garter stitch in laceweight? What a PITA. How to block the shawl but keep the edges smooth, without making ‘points’ from the pins that aggressive blocking often creates? I was stumped. Laceweight yarn but not lace, and no straight sides for wires. Then I had a brilliant idea. I pinned the top of the shawl in a smooth, somewhat curved line from tip to tip, which ensured I blocked out the small camel hump from section one, as well as uncurling the ends of the shawl.

And then I stood the entire thing up against the wall to dry.

Worked like a charm.

I’m not sure how successful this would have been if it were a much heavier yarn, but the laceweight had just enough weight that it draped perfectly, resulting in a beautiful curved edge on the bottom. As it dried, I even adjusted the top curve a bit to ensure it was smooth — I didn’t want the camel hump in the solid section, and the ends were both very curly because of the m1’s — but I’ve seen others try to block this as a straight edge, and I just feel the curve is supposed to be there. It’s part of the charm of the piece. But had I tried to pin all of that in place, I never would have gotten the same result as I did with letting gravity do its thing.

Desperate blocking calls for desperate measures, yo.

I’ve done a lot of organizing over the last couple of months as I’ve created my new work space at home. I’ve worked on making myself a space that feels warm and inviting, where I’ll enjoy spending time, and where I can have better access to the things I want to use and the books I like to read. The closed off, dark navy room has now become an airy cream room with fresh green accents and plenty of light. I’m drawn to this place and, stocked with plenty of storage, an old TV and DVD player, a recovered futon and a neglected chair and ottoman, I feel comfortable knowing that this space is all mine. It’s an interesting mix of knitting, design, and tech — probably a rather accurate reflection of me as of late. It’s a relief to finally have my go to reference books at hand — design, web, ux, testing, and let’s not forget my knitting books and patterns. Finally! Having a place of my own where my things belong and can be kept out of reach of others makes me incredibly grateful. I’m even finding that having my stash of yarn more accessible makes me far more likely to reach for something I already have, rather than buying something new — definitely a step in the right direction (although I can make the case for insanity by doing it right before Rhinebeck. We will discuss that foolishness later).

So far, I’m really appreciating being reunited with my stuff — not to mention my sanity.

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While I’ve been organizing my Christmas To Do list, I pulled out all the half finished projects, hibernating WIPs, frogged bad ideas, barely started and almost completed pieces and bagged and collected them in a big basket in my work space. As I get the time, I’m even starting to slowly make my way through that basket — either to repurpose the good yarn/bad ideas, or finish some of the good ideas and regift. Very promising, since Christmas is less than a month away.

And then sometimes, you just hit a black hole.

IMG_4500A couple days ago I pulled out a skein of fingering weight Alpaca, which had started almost three years ago as a lace cowl, but somehow I’d gotten sidetracked, and then it got messy, and then I frogged the damn thing since I really hadn’t gotten farther than an inch into the pattern. But three years is a long time for lovely little piece to be left undone, and as I’m looking for easy gifts, I figured it was a no brainer. So I cast on again — three times, to be exact — and kept at it for three inches, until I hit a particularly rough patch (also, sleepy Robin gets sleepy). I had to rework one round four times until I realized where I’d gone astray (a simple matter of miscounting, believe it or not). Finally it was time to move on. Then I caught a look at the picture on the front of the pattern and realized, after all this time, I was using needles that were WAY too big. Seriously too big. Like, a US 7 when a even the US 4 I’ve switched to might still be a tad big.  So, this is now the status of my current project. AGAIN.

Sometimes, stupid Robin is stupid.

IMG_2053This weekend was the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. While we haven’t been there for several years, this festival holds a special place in my heart — it was the first Knitpistols roadtrip. It was our introduction to fiber festivals, and damn. We were overwhelmed after the first day. It’s taken me several years to be able to successfully navigate a yarn festival like Maryland or Rhinebeck. Our first year, we were all stressed. Did we see it all? Did we miss something? Plans were thrown out the window in sheer sensory overload. We clumped together going from stall to stall, always trying to keep people together. In fact, we left the first day with relatively little, and had to regroup the next day so we could go back and get what we wanted.

Now, with a number of festivals under our collective belts, we are far more comfortable splitting up and staying in touch via text, or letting the others know if we spotted something they were on the lookout for. One of our own has ventured into spinning, and this festival was a revelation for her. She signed up for the pre-festival spinning workshop, and while she’s had her wheel for three or four years now, it was like everything fell into place this year. I think the big picture is like that — we all want to think we know what we’re doing, but it takes a while of struggling before we really see our way through to the confidence on the other side.

For me, personally, I’ve learned a lot since that first festival. I’ve learned what fibers I like to work with, that I tend to go toward fingering weight rather than worsted, and I am attracted to colors. I’ve learned that closeout yarns aren’t a bargain if I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, and that I strongly prefer natural fibers to acrylics (which really aren’t commonplace at these things, but it’s still good to know). Not only do dyers and fiber farms have stalls, but many store merchants purchase stalls as well. Where the challenge arises is knowing what you can get back home and sidestep it for the more unusual yarns that aren’t carried at your local yarn store (LYS). I’ve discovered that at yarn festivals, I target hand dyed and hand painted yarns — colors and patterns that are unique to the small dye lots. Four skeins from the same dying can still be significantly different from each other, and it pays to choose those in person.

As for me, I came back with some beautiful fibers, and I actually surprised myself by not picking up some of my more standard choices. I bypassed Socks That Rocked (after standing there two hours trying to decide on a colorway) and instead picked up Dragonfly Fibers, Cephalopod Yarns, a single skein of Miss Babs, a whole lot of Neighborhood Fiber Co, and even KidLin — an odd combination of linen and kid mohair that I’m excited to try (yes, the sample they had on display totally pushed me to get the pattern too). Yes there was orange, but there were also purples, green, pinks (!!!), grays, and a one skein mix of browns witha touch of blues and purples. I picked up DK, fingering, and lace weights — weights I’m most likely to knit up. The colors are deep and saturated and beautiful. I’m relatively certain that these will all have a high chance of making it to a finished project, and that makes for a successful outing.

But the bigger picture? Loads of sunshine. Hanging with knitters who are happy to be among beautiful yarns, promising rovings, and other happy knitters. We came with friends, met up with more friends, and created new friends. It amuses me that I fit so well here. I don’t have to explain my love of knitting, and it’s acceptable to tell people their knits are amazing and take pictures of complete strangers just because they’re wearing something that appeals to you. There’s enough fair food to make you sick. There are animals fat with fiber as well as those skinny missing shorn locks. There’s a sense of happiness at a festival, and knitters are generally happy people. It might not be as big as Rhinebeck, but the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival will always be a happy place for me.

It was certainly a fabulous roadtrip — and such a merry landing.


It’s February, it’s cold, and the Northeast is bracing for yet another dumping of snow. And so, to appease the blogging gods despite not having a brain, I offer you this video of Ravelry’s beloved Bob and his new pair of boots. Because, seriously, I almost pee my pants each time I watch this because I laugh so hard. And I promise I’ll be back with my own damn stuff soon.


I’ve been doing a lot of knitting for Christmas. I have a post for that eventually, but you know how it is — when you’re knitting for a deadline, time spent blogging could be spent knitting to hit the deadline. Which of course I didn’t do anyhow. But I will recap my holiday handiness at some point — or you can just go to Ravelry and stalk see for yourself.

Right now I’m actively knitting three different things. Along with four additional WIPs that I’ve dug out of hibernation. I think I’m trying to keep my wits about me by being surrounded by yarn and stitches and lace and yarnovers and charts and cakes. If I wasn’t surrounded by all this work, attentive to patterns, I might be tempted to slow down, and if I slow down, reality might catch up to me and I will realize that there are eleven days before my youngest son is taken away and handed off to drill sergeants and the US Army.

I know this is what he wants. He is stubborn and determined and focused. Not unlike me if you listen to people who should know better than to say such a thing. But unlike me, he is looking forward to this unknown. I am terrified of it. My fear is the yin to the yang of his excitement. His anticipation is palpable as he anxiously awaits to shake this uneventful life from his shoes. My dread is lodged in my throat.

As the clock counts down, I try to appreciate my reprieve. One last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. One last birthday with a boy before he leaves to change forever into the man he is destined to be. It will never be enough. I will never be ready for this. But I know it’s time to move on. To that end, I’ve become a paragon of support. A perfect picture of helpfulness as we go to Walmart to pick up boxes to store his worldly possessions. To help make decisions about bank accounts, and gaming systems, and books from a childhood that didn’t seem so very long ago. So many things have been thrown away, and the few remaining leftovers of the life he’s leaving behind have been boxed up for storage, to sit in a corner of the garage for years until he comes back to retrieve them. If he comes back to retrieve them.

austincroppedBut truth be told, I’m both a vastness of emptiness and a sea of wild emotions. I am the contradiction that proves the rule. I am somewhere very, very close to losing my shit and my silence, and I only pray I can remain outwardly upbeat for our last few days together. I resist my own fight or flight impulse. I want to hold my baby and rock him in my arms like we used to do so very many years ago because it made both of us feel better. I am not ready for this. I am not this strong. I don’t want to let him go early; I want the time due me as a parent, like my other kids. I yearn to be selfish, or at the very least to be comforted but, ultimately, I am alone with my fear. I am terrified they will train him and hand him a gun and send him off to some stretch of sand somewhere from which he will never return. And like everything else, I will have been left behind, forgotten, wrapped tightly shut, never to see the light of day ever again.

And so I hide in my patterns and my yarn and my needles and my focus. I hide my angst in my knitting blog, because everything else is far too public and nobody comes here but me. I know I need to write it down if I am to have any chance of surviving this, of understanding why this is just so damned important for him to do. I have no right to expect comfort, but I crave it nonetheless. I want reassurances but, like life itself, there are none.

Eleven days.