3 Shades of Gray

It’s five days before Christmas, and I probably should be shopping or wrapping, or something like that, but instead I’m writing this show-and-tell post. Because that’s just how I roll. Ask me in a couple of days how that’s working out for meΒ πŸŽ„

It’s an improvised top-down cardigan with stranded colorwork yoke, but that’s kind of a mouthful, so how about we call it “3 Shades of Gray?”

The inspiration for this knit came from two places:

  1. My desire to learn Fair Isle knitting
  2. My need for a neutral sweater to wear

I have a nice pile of sweaters by now (as you can probably imagine) in a plethora of green shades (and one orange anomaly), and they have served me well. This season, though, I’ve found myself unhappy with my choices. I keep wishing I had something gray!

In addition, my foray into slip-stitch colorwork, and my Rhinebeck meeting with Mary Jane Mucklestone (who said, looking at my slip-stitched Rainbow Pullover, “if you can do that, you can do stranded colorwork.”) prompted me to give Fair Isle a try.

Strictly speaking, Fair Isle knitting is done in the round, and since this is a cardigan knit back-and-forth, it’s really just a more generic type of stranded colorwork. But it did teach me what I need to know in order to do the real thing someday. The hardest part, really, is making your fingers do what you want them to do. Holding two yarns at once is something that I found awkward, but I presume it would get easier if I did it often enough to develop some muscle memory.

I’d link you to the pattern I used for this, but one doesn’t actually exist. It’s kind of a mash-up of my Everyday Cardigan and Porthole Pullover, with a yoke design I made up after looking through Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Geo Knits, Lynn Watterson’s The Very Easy Guide to Fair Isle Knitting, and a couple of websites I no longer remember.

I’m so happy with this. I would like to attempt another one at some point, but I do need to work out someΒ adjustments to the stitch counts. This one is a little bit tight across the upper back, and I need to figure out how to add more room there without throwing off the rest of the fit.

It’s possible I’ll tweak this and publish it, if there’s interest. I’m more likely to publish it if I do it as a pullover, though. (Why? I have my reasons, but they’re boring and unimportant 😜)

Next up on my needles, I’d like to do some more selfish knitting, if I find a gift card for a yarn shop in my stocking this year… I’m dyingΒ to make a Stopover!

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about the buttons. Silly me!

I made the buttons out of polymer clay. For those of you who speak polymer, here’s how I made the gray square cane I used: I made a skinner blended tube from black to white, and then extruded the tube through a square die. I cut the extrusion into 4 pieces, stacked them, reduced the cane a bit, and then cut that into 4 pieces and re-assembled it. The buttons all feature veneers cut from the face of that cane.

As it turns out, the black and white I used were lacking some of the warmth present in the yarn colors, so after the buttons were baked, I painted them with a wash consisting of beige chalk pastel scrapings and floor polish. That warmed them up just the right amount.

TWiP: Jangly

If last week had me feeling bruised and bloodied by 2016, this week has been a nice antidote.

I’ve had an opportunity to make some real progress on my gray sweater: I finished the body, did the button bands (twice!) and am now about 3/4 of the way done with the first sleeve. I’ll definitely be able to finish before Christmas at this rate – I might even finish this weekend, depending on how many other things I want to accomplish!

I also spent some time at the clay table. You know, the table I said I was going to put away last week? Yeah, this always happens. “Just one more project!”

I made buttons for my sweater. They’re kind of busy, but I think they work anyway.

And I also made myself a pile of jangly brass bracelets. I was inspired by my friend Terri’s beautiful work, and made myself a dozen different designs. I don’t wear bracelets all that much around the house, because inevitably they knock against the keyboard while I’m typing and they drive me bonkers. But I anticipate having some holiday gatherings to attend over the next few weeks, and jangly bracelets are just the ticket for that!

I’ve also been taking a series of online classes, aimed at refreshing some of my old programming skills and adding some new ones to my repertoire. I have kept current with plenty of stuff (HTML, CSS, PHP, SQL, to name a few) but I’ve been on the job hunt for nearly a year, and that doesn’t appear to be enough! So I’m having some fun working on that lately, too.

I have essentially spent all week sitting on my butt making things and learning new skills. Aside from my butt probably requiring more exercise than that, it’s been a good thing for me 😜

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

πŸ“· = taken with my Canon DSLR
πŸ“± = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 345/366 – I got snowman socks for a dollar at Target.

Instagram πŸ“±: It’s toasty in here πŸ”₯ Also, I have 6 more rows to go in the body of this sweater! I didn’t think I’d finish before Christmas, but now I think it may be possible. That would be nice, since I already wore my original Christmas sweater on Thanksgiving πŸ˜‰

Sunday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 346/366 – Had a nice time this afternoon at my (almost) sister-in-law’s bridal shower ☺ [Taken at Gelone’s in Lyndhurst, NJ.]

Monday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 347/366 – Happiness is a freezer well-stocked with Yasso bars. β™₯

Tuesday

Instagram πŸ“±: I made some buttons for my current knitting project. I like how they coordinate with the yoke design, but they may be a little too busy. Maybe some solid charcoal gray ones would be better. What do you think?

365 πŸ“·: 2016 348/366 – I decided to do the button band before the sleeves. I’m not a huge fan of knitting button bands or sewing on buttons, so you can imagine how irritating it is to see that my bands are puckering. I’m going to have to rip both of them out and re-knit them. On the plus side, I am happy with the matching buttons I made today, so there’s that!

Wednesday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 349/366 – I’m taking a series of online classes, and I’m starting with some pretty basic stuff that is mostly review. This is nice because I can knit while I’m watching the videos. I’m already almost done fixing those button bands from yesterday.

Thursday

Instagram πŸ“±: I was going to put my clay table away this week, but first I think I need to make me some colorful and jangly arm candy 😊

Instagram πŸ“±: Maybe I won’t wear them all at the same time πŸ˜‰

365 πŸ“·: 2016 350/366 – I made these brass channel bangles this morning. And then after lunch I sanded and buffed them super shiny. Now all I need is somewhere to go so I can wear a couple of them! (They’re not really practical at home, knocking against the keyboard all day…)

Friday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 351/366 – Well, my lack of care in packing up my polymer clay nativity scene every year has finally caught up with me. When I dumped it out of the bag (see above re: lack of care) I found that one king was missing his crown, another king was missing his head, and the baby Jesus and his crib were in several pieces. Luckily I have a backup. I think I like this one better, anyway. It’s got family history.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on FlickrΒ and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2014, 2015)

Β 

TWiP: Red!

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

If nothing else, I can say that my week was very festive-looking! I spent two nights crocheting a few pieces for my coffee table (which I would love to write about here in some detail, but I haven’t been able to find the time), I hung up Tacky Santa, I wore my red scarf, I kept my nail polish on well past its prime… just a lot of red this week!

I do like how happy that color is at this time of year. Every little pop of red helps bring some cheer, I think.

I’ve always been a worry wart, but these days I feel like there are actual things to worry about, between political news, and loved ones who are dealing with health challenges, on top of all of the really silly things I usually worry about. Plus I miss my old friend Michele, every time I drive through her neighborhood. Which is often, lately. And I keep thinking I see her in crowds.

I feel like the last half of 2016 has been one long exercise in grief and worry, with little pockets of relief thrown in here and there, just to keep me from getting too pessimistic. I don’t often say this, but I’ll be glad to see this year over. Not that a page on the calendar really truly fixes anything, but a symbolic clean slate is going to feel good, just the same.

In the meantime, bring on the red stuff, and the twinkly lights and the festive music, and the colorful crocheted mandalas! πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸ»πŸŒŸ

Anyway, it’s a chilly December Saturday morning, and I’m looking forward to a nice weekend of knitting that gray sweater I started a few weeks ago, watching some Christmas movies, and spending a bit of time with the family. And maybe a cup of hot chocolate stirred with a candy cane should be in my immediate future as well. ☺

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

πŸ“· = taken with my Canon DSLR
πŸ“± = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 338/366 – Somebody is completely unimpressed by our Game Night. [Taken at my parents’ house.]

Sunday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 339/366 – Candlelight and coffee on a cozy Sunday evening.

Monday

Instagram πŸ“±: My Monday to-do list is long and varied, but first: this coffee and this blanket. β˜•πŸŒΌ

365 πŸ“·: 2016 340/366 – We released the double-faced beast from his attic prison today. He seems pleased.

Instagram πŸ“±: I decided I need a Christmas mandala for the coffee table. Naturally.

Tuesday

Instagram πŸ“±: Gotta love the instant gratification factor of crochet mandalas ☺ Can’t wait to block this and put it on my table!

365 πŸ“·: 2016 341/366 – I could seriously spend a whole afternoon playing with a string of lights and my camera…

Wednesday

Instagram πŸ“±: Good Morning, Instagram β˜• As you can see, it was vitally important that I hook up three coasters to coordinate with the new mandala πŸ˜‰

365 πŸ“±: 2016 342/366 – A rare moment of inactivity for Miss Maggie. What does one call their aunt’s dog? A "fur cousin?" LOL! [Taken at my aunt’s house.]

Thursday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 343/366 – I made Santa pajamas for the whole family 9 years ago. Mine and Neil’s still fit. The boys’ not so much. I feel right at home wearing these pjs in this room – so many Santa-related things in here, including the pillow cases that I made a few years ago from more of the same pjs fabric.

Instagram πŸ“±: I’m breakfasting in the red glow of #tackysanta this morning. And probably every morning for the next month… πŸŽ„

Instagram πŸ“±: Sometimes a girl just needs to blow all of her bonus stars on a liquid lunch. #peppermintmocha #dontregretit [Taken at Starbucks.]

Friday

Instagram πŸ“±: So, I bought a few more things than I originally had on my list…

365 πŸ“·: 2016 344/366 – I replaced my coffee table mandala and coasters with new ones for the season. Tacky Santa, that cheeky old coot, found a way to make it into the shot.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on FlickrΒ and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2014, 2015)

This Week in Pictures This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

TWiP: polymer clay by day, knitting by night

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

I found out this week that my Bloglovin feed was broken. If you follow Polka Dot Cottage there, you haven’t seen a new post from me since May! That’s a lot of stuff you’ve missed. I hope if you’re a Bloglovin follower, you’ll come directly over to the blog and poke around for a while to see what has been happening for the last 7 months ☺

I’ve done a lot of making this week: polymer clay by day, knitting by night.

I’ve also spent most of this week in red nail polish, which is one of those silly things that always makes me happy πŸ’…πŸ»

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

πŸ“· = taken with my Canon DSLR

πŸ“± = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 331/366 – What is it about a Saturday afternoon that makes it virtually impossible for me to resist the lure of sneaking out for a peppermint mocha Frappuccino?

Sunday

Instagram πŸ“±: I decided it’s time to learn stranded colorwork. I also decided I need a neutral colored sweater in my closet. So I’m improvising a gray cardigan with #fairisle bands in the yoke. So far I’m finding it pretty awkward to hold two yarns at once, and I’m wishing there was more contrast between the light gray and the white, but I still think I’m really going to like this when it’s done 😊

365 πŸ“·: 2016 332/366 – The yarn came in this box, and now I’m just using it to store my sweater-in-progress. That’s what happens when you dive into a project so quickly that you don’t make time to look around the house for an empty project bag…

Instagram πŸ“±: I wish I could remember who I saw wearing the @target #knittingpajamas on Instagram yesterday, but whoever you are, you totally inspired a late evening shopping trip πŸ˜‰. Also, is there anything better than a Sunday with nothing to do but watch movies and knit? I’m making unbelievable progress on this sweater. My goal is to finish the tricky #fairisle part before I run out if weekend. It’s close.

Monday

Instagram πŸ“±: Amazing what you can accomplish in a weekend, if you barely do anything else πŸ˜‰. Now that it’s Monday, though, I have to actually work on some non-knitting goals. Booooo. As far as the rest of this sweater goes? It’s going to be pretty boring in comparison: just lots and lots of solid gray. I’m going to need plenty of good Netflix to get me through it 😊

365 πŸ“·: 2016 333/366 – This may be the last production run I have in me before I put away the clay table for a few months. All of this stuff is baked, but it still needs sanding: not exactly my favorite part of the job, but it has to be done!

Tuesday

Instagram πŸ“±: Sanding my #polymerclay work takes SO LONG. I’m on my third episode of Good Girls Revolt, and I’m only about halfway through. The end result is so worth it, though. I never used to sand my old pieces, and you can definitely tell the difference. #pdc BTW, only a few days left to place an order for custom work!

365 πŸ“·: 2016 334/366 – I finished all of pieces from yesterday. Now I need to photograph them and list them.

Instagram πŸ“±: Shop update! These snazzy pens are ready to go. They make great teacher gifts, and I offer a discount if you order 3 or more 😊 #pdc #pdcstickpens #shopsmall

Wednesday

Instagram πŸ“±: I’m dropping this custom-made set of crochet hooks in the mail today. If you’d like me to make you a hook or two, today is the LAST DAY to choose custom options! Hook size, hook brand, handle pattern, thumb rest or no: all up to you. πŸ’Ÿ #pdc

365 πŸ“·: 2016 335/366 – It’s been raining for a couple of days now. For some reason it feels like it’s been raining all week.

Thursday

365 πŸ“±: 2016 336/366 – I’m at TMC’s Boutique today for their Meet the Artists day. It’s pretty quiet here, but it’s giving me an opportunity to survey my display and figure out what items should be swapped out for something new. [Taken at TMC’s Boutique in New Providence, NJ.]

Friday

365 πŸ“±: 2016 337/366 – I love having a big bucket of clay-covered pens. I sold a handful to a friend this morning, and I think maybe I’ll make some replacements this weekend, since I never did put away the clay table. I’ll clean it up next week πŸ˜‰ [Taken at Biagio’s in Stirling, NJ.]

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2014, 2015)

This Week in Pictures This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

TWiP: Cranberries, Fire, and Coziness

This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a title for these TWiP posts. I look at my photos and I see nothing to unify them. That hasn’t been an issue this week. It’s been a cozy-feeling week, with fireplaces, family, and cranberries aplenty.

When last we spoke, we were embarking on our annual trek to Cherry Hill, NJ so Neil (and Aidan, to a lesser degree) could attend Philcon. I did all of my favorite South Jersey things on Saturday morning and afternoon, so when my brother invited us to a game night at my parents’ house that evening, the kids and I didn’t debate for long before deciding to leave Cherry Hill a dayΒ early and join them. We β™₯Β game nights! (And Neil had his own car with him, so we weren’t leaving him to Uber his way home or anything 😜)

This has been a pleasant week. And now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time for me to transfer some of my massive Christmas music collection over to my car’s mp3 player. I shared a small fraction of that collection last year, if you would like to have a listen, too!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2016), plus some snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

πŸ“· = taken with my Canon DSLR
πŸ“± = taken with my Samsung phone

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…

Saturday

365 πŸ“±: 2016 324/366 – The 13-year-old and I went to the Collingswood Farmer’s Market this morning. I got cranberries, so now I have to make bread with them this week ☺ [Taken in Collingswood, NJ.]

Instagram πŸ“±: Settling in for a cozy afternoon. I’ll probably drag one or both of the kids out for some window shopping in #haddonfieldnj later (we did #collingswoodnj this morning), but for now, the #pdcfamilyroomsquircleghan is getting a little love πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’™ [Taken at the Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill.]

Instagram πŸ“±: Delicious and artistic peppermint mocha latte β˜• [Taken at Jersey Java in Haddonfield, NJ.]

Sunday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 325/366 – We don’t have any firewood. And I couldn’t light a fire anyway because I’m going out soon. But this makes a cozy enough substitute.

Monday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 326/366 – Yesterday’s candlescape reminded me to order firewood this morning. I thought I’d have to wait a few days, but they delivered it this afternoon! We didn’t waste any time lighting a fire. Because it’s cold outside and we β™₯ cozy.

Tuesday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 327/366 – My new printer displayed a warning that the ink was getting low, and then printed my page. Or half of it anyway. Uh, thanks for giving me such an early warning and plenty of time to buy replacement ink, Mr. Printer.

Wednesday

Instagram πŸ“±: I’ve been swatching lately, trying to come up with a new slip stitch colorwork design for a cardigan. Not quite there yet… #pdc

365 πŸ“·: 2016 328/366 – Farmer’s market cranberries, a clementine, and my snazzy wooden spoon. It’s baking time!

Instagram πŸ“±: Cranberry bread and The Crown.

Thursday

365 πŸ“·: 2016 329/366 – Nice, cozy Thanksgiving ☺ [Taken at my in-laws’ house.]

Friday

365 πŸ“±: 2016 330/366 – Hanging out in Mom’s kitchen, listening to Simon & Garfunkel, and making some chicken and rice. [Taken at my parents’ house.]

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on FlickrΒ and/or Instagram.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

SAME WEEK PREVIOUS YEARS (2010, 2014, 2015)

2010-47Β 2014-47Β This Week in Pictures (TWiP) at Polka Dot Cottage