Another FO and Mary Tyler Moore!

I finished my second dog sweater. Ta-Da! 

I know it is July but I am sure come fall Stormy (the dog I made the sweater for) will put it to good use. Long story short…some friends of ours rescued a pitbull. She is such a sweet dog but seems to have some autoimmune disease and has trouble regulating her body temperature. Throughout the fall/winter/spring I noticed she was always wearing some type of sweater or sweatshirt. So that is how I decided to give knitting dog sweaters a try. I will be sure to post a photo of Stormy wearing her new sweater once the weather cools down.

I was very excited to begin my new project. A hat! I love to knit hats. I purchased the yarn for this hat when I purchased yarn for this hat I made (love to get that free shipping). So I guess you can say this yarn was burning a hole in my yarn storage bag! (Nope, doesn’t have quite the same ring as “burning a hole in my pocket”)

Let me give some background why I chose the pattern I am currently knitting.  When we all went on lockdown in March, 2020, I started binge watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  I remember watching this show on “Nick at Night” when I first moved out of my parents house. I had a tiny little TV in a tiny little room that I rented when I got my first job out of college. I thought it was so funny and witty and I guess I felt some kind of connection with Mary. There I was in my first apartment about 90 miles from where I grew up that I paid for with my very first job in publishing. I was going to make it after all!!!! The theme song is “Love is All Around” by Sonny Curtis. Fun fact: Joan Jett did a cover of “Love is All Around” in 1996 an to promote the NCAA’s final four. 

Ok, what does this have to do with knitting? Well, if you have seen the show you know of the famous hat toss at the end of the opening credits. Throughout the series those opening credit scenes change EXCEPT that hat toss. It has actually been ranked as one of the greatest moments of 1970s television. The hat is a Tam o’ Shanter and it seems to be knit, so I thought, I bet I can make that! So of course I went right to ravelry to start my search and chose a pattern as my favorite.

 I purchased the pattern just the other day and looked it over. It doesn’t look so simple. It has a twisted rib stitch? What? I looked over some of the projects that used this pattern and I did find one that just used a regular rib stitch followed by stockinette. That’s more my speed….but will it look the same??? The one the pattern designer has on her page is SO adorable! Just look at it!

So here lies my dilemma. Do I change up the pattern to make it easier? Do I just dive in and knit  the pattern as written?

Here’s what is actually funny about this entire post. As I type this, I am deciding to make the pattern as is. So I have answered my own initial question. Just knit it as written. This may not be the “easy watch tv project” but that’s Ok. It’s a hat, not a blanket. I have my audiobooks and podcasts to listen to as I knit.

Here is my cast-on and the first round or so complete. You can see with the lighter blue color I have started the “traveling jogless stripes”. I can see how the twisted stitches add to the texture of this “Tam” already. What are “traveling jogless stripes” you might ask? That’s a topic for another post!

 

Vacation! I Thought I Would Knit More…

I am embarrassed to say this, so I will just say it. I did not knit or workout while on vacation. I would repeat it for emphasis, but there really isn’t any need.  Instead, I went on roller coasters.

Oh, I brought my TRX suspension system AND my knitting bag…but I didn’t touch either one. AT ALL. I didn’t even go out running in the morning like I usually do while on vacation. I like to keep my schedule the same, so I usually head out before anyone wakes up. Well, this vacation was VERY different due to pandemic, but honestly, I was just happy to get away for a bit.

We went to Walt Disney World (the one in Florida) and we drove there from New Jersey. We just aren’t comfortable taking planes at this time. We tried to get a photo in each state. We missed Maryland and South Carolina. Oops!

So Why No Knitting or Workouts?

My husband is immunocompromised so we also spent as much time outside as possible. Disney did a great job at keeping the capacity low and keeping most of the lines to rides outside. We were just sure to put on our masks whenever we went indoors, which was not often actually. Have you ever been in Florida in late June/early July? Yeah, it’s hot and humid. I think that just took a toll on me so by the time I was finished taking my 20K + steps each day (no exaggeration) I was wiped. Usually when we go to Disney we take advantage of indoor shows and restaurants throughout the day to recharge. But as stated, we just didn’t want to be inside (with the exception of our hotel room) for long.

The one hobby I did keep up on was reading. I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and really enjoyed. So my relaxation was reading (usually poolside) and watching Mickey cartoons. That was it. My knitting bag just stared at me and I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty. I realized that it was OK if I didn’t want to knit or workout. I was in Disney World with my family and just doing whatever I wanted while I had time with them was exactly what I needed.

So that is what I have been up to. I started this blog to keep track of my pilates and knitting and I wanted to have an entry here to explain the gap. Of course, we are now full into summer and my husband says he wants to do 2 pilates and/or TRX sessions a week. I also plan to give my daughter some pilates sessions to keep her conditioned for her upcoming figure skating competition.

My point is even is we can all use a break from all things in our lives. I thought the only break I needed was from cooking, cleaning, and constantly checking my daughter’s grades online. Turns out, I needed a break from it all and sometimes we just need just that, a break. This includes the hobbies that help us relax and even motivate us. Sometimes we all just have to lie in bed and watch cartoons.

The Magic of Pilates and Knitting

Who knew that pilates and knitting would both have magical aspects? I did! Who doesn’t love magic? Ok, there are probably some. But when the word magic is in a title, it just makes it more fun. I remember hearing the song, “On Top of the World” on the radio and my daughter said, “It’s Magical Dragons!”. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was actually Imagine Dragons and quite frankly, I thought her name was better. 

So What is So Magical About Pilates and Knitting?

Well, in full disclosure, when I began my pilates journey, I learned the piece of equipment shown below to be called the Fitness Circle ™ as I was certified as a Stott Pilates instructor and that is what they have named this equipment and have the trademark. In my opinion, it is the best one out there. Of course you may have heard this called the magic circle, fitness ring, pilates ring, pilates circle, and I am sure there are names I am missing. Yes, they all do the same thing, they just vary in their construction, size, resistance, etc. 

Pilates (Magic)Circle

No photo description available.

This is a great piece of equipment to add to a pilates mat class. My favorite way to use it is for inner and outer thighs. Yes, you can place the circle on the outside of your legs (above the knees) and use it to activate those hip abductors which include your glute muscles. I use it during ab curls and bridges. Yes, many people see it as a “thigh master” but it can do even more! Although I do admit (and my clients will agree) that I often say during a class, “Let’s all channel Suzanne Somers!”. It becomes particularly funny because my name is Crissy. If you don’t get it—look up the show “Three’s Company” and it will all make sense.

Back to Magic circle:

We actually learned during my training how to use it to help stabilize and engage muscle areas where we would see weakness in clients. I am sensing another blog post….

Magic Loop

I have said it once and I will say it again…. I love using the Magic Loop method in knitting! It just ended up being my default method when I was knitting my very first hat. I still remember it was the Gold Medal hat pattern which was so fun to make. It came out during the 2018 Winter Olympics when Amercian Chloe Kim wore this adorable chunky knit hat in Pyeongchang. I thought it was just adorable and it was definitely a quick knit—however I had never finished a hat before! Luckily this was very chunky yarn, which I actually knit using two strands, and when it came time to decrease and close up the top, there weren’t many stitches. I hadn’t been knitting that long and actually had to purchase the size 13 tips to make this project and use it with cords I already had from my Knit Picks set.  When I got to the point where I had to close up the top, I just started “scooching” the stitches around until it was time to put the stitches on a tapestry needle and close it up. I did it this way because I didn’t own a set of double pointed needles and my area was having the fourth snow storm so there was no running out to my LYS to pick up a set. 

Voila!

I remember telling my friend how I did this and she said…you did a traveling magic loop! I had no idea. I watched some videos how to properly execute this method and yeah, I actually did my own version of it. Here’s the trick to magic loop—-you need a very long cord. At least a 40 inch one. There are many videos out there to explain it. I think I took bits and pieces from several different ones to find my “knack” of doing it. 

It may be that I prefer magic loop because it was the first method I learned, or it may be because it has the word “magic” in the title. Kidding.

Read, Knit, Repeat

Do you ever knit/crochet/craft the same thing more than once? I do. I love it. Just like I will read a book again. I mean, it would have to be some time since I read it, but I would. My daughter figured out the joy of this about a year ago or so. She’s thirteen now, but I believe she was 11 or 12 when I noticed her reading some of her books more than once. She said she likes to read them again because she notices things she missed the first time she read it. I couldn’t have said it any better. I love that she has already learned that reading is fun and interesting and just because you have read something, doesn’t mean you won’t discover new things or maybe even understand something a little better when you have read something the second or even third time! 

So yes, I do like to reread books. I am grateful for the GoodReads app because not only can I keep track of what I read, I can also make notes and rate a particular book which will give me a heads up if it is something I would even want to read again. I am in a virtual book club and this book was just chosen. I am only on chapter 4 and can already tell that I will love it. I will be sure to make note of that in my comments!

I think when it comes to knitting, I have adopted the same system which is why I am knitting my second Poochie Keen sweater. Check it out, I am just finishing the trim.

I remember when I knitted my first scarf….I immediately made ANOTHER one using chunkier yarn and a different color. I even made it SUPER long because I just didn’t want it to end. 

This followed no pattern. I just found a “How to knit your first scarf” youtube video and went with it. The video was put out by a yarn company and the instructor admitted that it was her very first scarf. I felt an immediate bond with this woman I never met. She went super slow (super creepy slow as she says in the video) and the angles of the camera were directed at the correct spots. I can’t tell you how many videos I watched where the project goes off camera and I have no idea how the person did the stitch they were demonstrating. I am sure that is the case with many, you just have to keep trying until you find the right one for you.

After knitting a few garter stitch scarves, I decided it was time to purl!!! My friend Jennifer gave me a Learn to Knit book and I found some patterns for dishcloths. I know, some people look at me weird when I say I knitted a dishcloth. It’s a real thing. They are great ways to learn new patterns and stitches. My first one was a disaster because I kept forgetting to move the yarn during knits and purls, but that’s ok because that is how you learn. Here is the the one that came out of many trials and errors and I am quite proud. The purls form a paw print and yes, I use it!

I also made several more dishcloths from the book . The repetition of making dishcloths made me a better knitter. It really can be a good thing. I don’t find repeating patterns boring because I discover new ways to improve my knitting and I usually will use a different yarn so it makes it more interesting. I actually plan to make a dishcloth for each season/holiday. You can find all sorts of patterns on ravelry that use those purl stitches to form pumpkins, flowers, butterflies, you name it! How fun!

Ravelry is my “Goodreads” for knitting. It is a wonderful database where you can store all of your projects and everything you need to know about them. If I can’t remember how to care for a hat or sweater I made, I just look up in ravelry which yarn I used and voila, the information is all there. I can rate patterns and I will indicate what I liked and what I changed about something so I when I knit again I can be sure to follow my own advice. For example, I wrote an entire post here about knitting this dog sweater the first time. I wrote all about my attempts at casting on the project. So now I know when I make that size sweater again….just use magic loop!!!! It will save me lots of time in the future. 

Building Up the Home Gym…

In my last post about creating your home gym, I talked about mats and small props to add to your pilates or another mind/body practice. Over this last year, I slowly added more weight training equipment. And I mean slowly…

When lockdown happened in March of 2020 I was very lucky to have my own pilates reformer in my basement. (Ok, I am lucky to have that just in general). But for those of you that don’t what a reformer is I have posted a photo of mine below. It doesn’t move. So as summer came and the weather got nice, I was happy to get out of the basement. 

The heaviest set of dumbbells I had were five pounds and I also had my TRX suspension system. I said to myself this will work and it sure did. Let’s start with the TRX. The beauty of this system is its portability. I have seen people at the track hooking this system up to rails on the bleachers as well as attaching the system to playground equipment. It really can go just about anywhere. I actually just clip it to a hook on my garage to workout and use my outdoor mat when I do the floor exercises. 

Now of course it’s not always the perfect weather for an outdoor workout. When I want to bring my workout inside and I don’t want to do pilates…I turn to weight training. I started doing 20-30 minute workouts I found on YouTube with my 5-pound weights. By the end of the summer, I found those workouts became easier so I thought it was time to step up my game. In comes a heavier set of dumbbells and a kettlebell. I wrote a post here about how the kettlebell is different from dumbbells.

It took a while, but I found the equipment instock here (I purchased the 8-pound set)and here. It’s about 7 months later and I am thinking it is time to increase again. My 15-lb kettlebell has been awesome, but you should really consider going heavier if you want to do kettlebell swings, which I love! ***Note***Kettlebell swing should not be attempted on a whim. Ask a trainer to show you how to do these properly.

The heavier weights have made a HUGE difference. The definition in my shoulders and arms is more defined and using the kettlebell for quick abdominal workouts has really strengthened my core. Not the best photo from my basement, but the windmill is a great exercise to target the obliques!

The dumbbells and kettlebell have also made their way outside to my deck so don’t be afraid to get some fresh air. Trust me, the neighbors get used to hearing/seeing you do your workouts that you eventually blend in with the scenery.

Keep Your Eyes on Your Knitting!

I had my annual eye exam yesterday and I realized how this last year has changed the way I used my glasses. I have needed glasses 24/7 since I started working in publishing after college. A few years later I jumped into the wonderful world of contact lenses. Just before I got married in the early 2000’s I developed keratitis. This is an inflammation of the cornea and it usually occurs when you don’t change your contacts enough.(Guilty!) I would change my monthly contacts about every 6 weeks which is a big no, no. I switched to daily contacts so this was no longer a problem. It was after this (I couldn’t wear my contacts for months) that it hit me. I should take care of my eyes and not cut corners. After that experience, I never missed an eye appointment and was sure to toss my contacts at the end of each day. You shouldn’t try to stretch your buck when it comes to your eyes…or any part of your health.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

I had my annual eye exam yesterday and I realized how this last year has changed the way I used my glasses. I have needed glasses 24/7 since I started working in publishing after college. A few years later I jumped into the wonderful world of contact lenses. Just before I got married in the early 2000’s I developed keratitis. This is an inflammation of the cornea and it usually occurs when you don’t change your contacts enough.(Guilty!) I would change my monthly contacts about every 6 weeks which is a big no, no. I switched to daily contacts so this was no longer a problem. It was after this (I couldn’t wear my contacts for months) that it hit me. I should take care of my eyes and not cut corners. After that experience, I never missed an eye appointment and was sure to toss my contacts at the end of each day. You shouldn’t try to stretch your buck when it comes to your eyes…or any part of your health.

At this last exam my doctor suggested multifocal lenses. What?. My knitting may be improving, but my eyesight is not. Yes, I know Lasik is out there, but it just isn’t for me. I had eye surgery as a kid and had to wear a patch for a while afterward so unless the surgery is necessary, I’m good. 

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

This is also not such a terrible thing. After thinking it over, I think I am going to hold off on the Progressive lenses. Why? Well, from what I have read progressives are great if you need to be switching between distance/reading/computer glasses. You can ALMOST call them a hybrid. When I use readers over my contacts, I do not see as well as just using my naked eyes. I want to see THE BEST I can when creating all my knitting projects and that happens when I I take my glasses off. So for right now, I am sticking with what I have, but I have a feeling a time is coming when I will need them…just not right now.

Of course it’s not just the glasses (or lack thereof), it is your light too. I know I want to purchase a freestanding light for my living room, but until I decide, I purchased this portable light that my mom suggested. It goes around your neck and the lights have three levels of brightness and three colors. The arms are bendy so I can adjust them to however I am holding my project. If my crocheting 80-year old mother says they work, you can bet that they work!

Knitting outside is also great. The days are longer so we should all take advantage of that natural light mother nature gives us. Here are I am car knitting! I really wanted to take out my folding chair from the trunk and sit outside, but it was just over ninety degrees! 90 degrees in May in New Jersey! Next time. The light I was getting from sunroof and having the door open was plenty.

Worldwide Knit in Public Day is coming up on June 14th, so you can be sure to find me in a park somewhere. Oh that sounds like a meet up possibility!

Is Your Gym Your Home or Your Home Your Gym?

I talked about rejoining the gym last week and it seemed to be one of my more popular posts so I thought I would write a bit more about it. If you aren’t quite ready to get back to the gym/fitness center/studio, here are some thoughts about getting a great workout in the comfort of your own home. Since Pilates was my first love of exercise, I will start with how to set yourself up for mind/body type workouts.

Mind/Body Workouts

First ask yourself what you like to do. If you are mind/body person and prefer yoga or pilates, you need to get yourself a decent mat. I actually talk about various mats on my Pilates201 page here. When I was doing and teaching in-person classes, I had three mats that I used for three different types of classes. No joke. I have put time and thought into this.

*Please keep in mind I do not teach yoga. I teach Pilates and PiYo so my thoughts are geared to those formats.*

My Mats

“All Purpose” Mat. The one in the photo below is a Gaiam mat which I think is a great all purpose mat. Kelly has one too that she uses for karate and off-ice virtual classes. I splurged the extra few bucks for the 6mm because I think it is all about the thickness. You need a sticky mat if you are doing yoga or PiYo. There are a lot more standing moves in these formats, so have a mat with grip is important. You can find this mat here, but I believe I purchased this one at Marshall’s for about $12 JUST before lockdown in March 2020. The 5mm mats go for $10 and I believe it is worth the extra two bucks.

Pilates Mat. Here is my pilates mat. Yes, I have a different mat for pilates. It is much thicker at just over a centimeter. It is made of closed-cell foam which means it gives you some cushion. You don’t want to do “Rolling Like a Ball” on a 5 or 6 mm yoga mat if you can do it on this one. This is the mat I use when I am going to working out on the floor for more than 10-15 minutes. My body is much happier with me when I am doing roll-ups and roll-overs on this mat. You can find it here. Yes, this is a terrible photo I took with my old computer, but you can see HOW much thicker it is compared to mat above. Your spine will thank you.

Outdoor Mat. The last mat I use is actually a camping mat Ron has from who knows when. I couldn’t even begin to find it online, but I have a feeling you aren’t running out to find this one. This is the mat I use when I am outside. I don’t want to bring in anything from outside to my living room floor. The bird poop alone is enough for me to want to have an outdoor exclusive mat. This mat is stored in the basement with the beach chairs and other “deck” supplies. As the weather warms up, it’s not a bad idea to find something you can use to take your workout outside. Any change of scenery will boost your mood!

Now what?

Once you are set with a mat, you are on your way. Plenty of local studios continue to offer virtual classes so I encourage you to find one in your area. Yes, you can find many fitness apps that offer free trials, but I always try to “shop local” first to see if I can find what I need. Since March 2020, the number of options for online fitness has skyrocketed.

Add-Ons

When you are ready to add on, I would suggest something that you can use to add resistance to your workout. I LOVE these bands. Since they come in a variety of strengths, you can obtain a total body workout and they come in a very convenient carrying case. 

The other items I suggest are a small fitness ball and some light dumbbells. Fitness equipment was almost impossible to find last year, but if you go on Amazon these days you will find many options. I would go with about a 7-9 inch small ball and 1-2 pound dumbbells. That’s where I started with my pilates mat practice and I still use them today. 

I hope you enjoy working out at home as much as I do! Next post I will talk about what I have purchased during this pandemic to help improve my strength and challenge my muscles and core stability.

Joining the Gym Again?

I was doing a virtual workout with a friend last week and she mentioned that her and her husband were considering joining the gym again.My first thought (in my head, I didn’t say it out loud) was that I would lose my virtual workout partner. We have been doing workouts over facetime, hangout and facebook rooms for over a year now and I hadn’t even thought of the fact that she would want to go back to a gym. I mean, it’s where I met her, why wouldn’t she?

So I actually started to think about going back to the gym and if it was something I would consider.

My gym going days started with “Aerobics Classes” in college. Do you remember when classes were called “aerobics”? Another friend told me a story how she was looking for a new gym when she moved to a new town and one she checked out handed her a schedule that said “Aereobics Schedule” at the top. She didn’t go back. She knew that it would just be dated. 

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Ok, that was just a funny little side story, but yes I started ith just group fitness classes. My favorites were the ones called “Funk Aerobics” or “Cardio Funk”. (Yes, I was in college in the early 90’s)n I think the driving force for me was the music. I loved it! Even if I couldn’t manage to get a few girls from my dorm to go, I still went! No, this isn’t me, but I do not have ANY photos from my college workout days.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

When I came home during the summer I didn’t want the fun to stop. I had more time to workout so I found an all female gym that offered a student special. I think I payed $100 for summer which was a great deal. You have to remember, the $10 and $20 per month gyms did not exist back then. My choices were this gym or Jack Lalane. Wow, I am dating myself. Anyway, it was here that I took up the offer to have someone take me around the gym and show me how to work all of the equipment. It was 1992 and I had no idea how much gyms/fitness clubs would become a part of my life in the future. 

Yes, it is because of ME that the main gym I worked at had Barre classes. I don’t like to boast much, but I can truly say this and I have backup.

After college, I immediately found a gym to use after work. When I changed jobs, I would find one that was more convenient. I think this is the FIRST time in over two decades that I have been without any type of gym membership and it didn’t occur to me until my friend brought it up. So will I? I just don’t know. There are so many things I do indeed miss. Besides teaching I miss meeting up with the friend I mention at the top of the post at 5 AM to do a workout. She is even willing to take photos of the exercises we did like this one here. . 

Good friends take photos of you while you are doing something cool at the gym.

Although,  I have managed to build up my own little gym in my basement and I am not going to lie…the commute is awesome! I have also been known to workout on my pilates reformer in my pajamas! I also don’t have to wait for equipment to be free because I know how much we all love THAT person that sits on a weight machine while checking their phone.

So yay or nay to returning to the gym? Well, it’s a “nay for now” for me. My family has some health concerns (for another post) and the less we expose ourselves the better. HOWEVER, I am considering trying out some outdoor classes. I think that would be a safe compromise for me right now, but I really am enjoying my home workouts.

Anyone joining back up with a gym? Have you already?

The Making of a Dog Sweater

Meet Jonesey modeling her new sweater made by moi!

I like to have a small project and a large knitting project going at the same time. This is especially true now that my daughter is physically going to activities more rather than just doing Zoom classes. I am still working on my daughter’s sunset blanket as my large home project. If I can finish this by fall/winter…I will be happy. It is the small projects that have the “high turnovers” as one can imagine.

I just finished a cropped cardigan sweater for myself and although that wasn’t very “small” it was small for most of the knitting so it traveled with me regularly. I actually started thinking about my next small project as I was knitting the cardi. I don’t like to not have something to knit while I sit outside the ice rink as my daughter practices. 

In December I saw my favorite knitting teacher do a tutorial for a dog sweater and I just thought it was so cute!. I have a black Labrador Retriever and he has no need or interest for a sweater. But I noticed that my neighbor’s little Dachshund mix tends to wear little coats and sweaters when the weather calls for it. She is so tiny and I thought a smaller sweater would be a good place to start. The pattern is Poochie Keen and can be found here or here if you are not on Ravelry you can find it on the Kraemer website. Kits are also an option and are a great deal. I ended up purchasing the pattern separately since I decided to choose my own colors.  The below colors are for the second sweater I am knitting but it is the same type yarn.

Kraemer ‘s Perfection Worsted yarn

More About Kraemer Yarns

I admit, I don’t love purchasing yarn online. I like to feel it and see the colors in person. I make exceptions from time to time and this was one of those times.I love that Kraemer Yarns are made in the US and they stand behind their products. If you have a question (which I did when I was deciding on colors) or for some reason you are not happy with your purchase, they offer hassle free returns. I was extremely pleased with my purchase! They even wrapped up my yarn and included a handwritten note thanking me. How nice is that? Oh, and this is not a sponsored post. This is just all my opinion and desire to share a good company when I find one. If you are looking for good quality yarn at a great value, you should check them out.

Which Needles to Use?

After sharing the different size sweaters with their measurements with my neighbor, she said Jonesey’s size fit under a size medium. The cast-on was too small for 16 inch circulars so I turned to my double-pointed sock needle set. I liked using the DPNs for the sleeves of sweaters as well as mittens, so I decided to give it a try on this dog sweater. You start at the neck and work your way down so I guess it is a top down sweater or side to side sweater since it is for a dog???

Looks like a cool hashtag, but this didn’t work for me.

Yeah well this didn’t quite work out. I started this project over at least three times and twice I somehow flipped the project and started knitting inside-out. Yes, it’s a thing. So, I went back to my trusty magic loop and it was a success on the first try! It also made it convenient because after a few inches (depending upon the size) the pattern calls for increases on each round. Those sock needles would not have held all the stitches. Well, maybe they would, but I would be a nervous wreck about them slipping off.I think it is because the neck of this sweater is smaller than sleeves and mittens is why I had a hard time. I also have trouble casting on to dpns for some reason. I am lucky I had the tools to make it work…meaning a long cord for magic loop. I like to have at least a 32 inch cord for magic loop. In my opinion, the longer the better I think the one in photo is actually 40 inches.

Magic Loop!

The tutorial video I mentioned from VeryPink talks about starting the project on these needles. I admit, I have them in my Amazon cart but haven’t purchased them yet. I am trying to justify the need since I ended up making the project work. These needles make 9 and 14 inch circulars, but the best thing is they have TWO different length sizes for each needle. This means you can have the longer needle in your right hand and shorter one in your left to make the knitting easier while working in such a small circumference. Knitting in the round is my favorite way to knit so this could just expand the scope of my knitting!

Beyond the Cast-On

When I got to the leg holes, I asked my neighbor if I could size it up to be sure they would be in the right part of the sweater. I should have taken a photo! She was the perfect model!

Due to the dark colored yarn, you can’t see the leg holes in the above photo, but they are there! To make these leg holes you just have to bind off some stitches while you are knitting in the round. As long as you follow along, all works out! I think that is for most patterns. Since I have made a few pairs of fingerless mittens, I have had the practice. Side note: when making fingerless mittens starting at the cuff, you have to bind off the yarn for the thumbhole and then continue on to make the part for the other four fingers. 

This pattern called for all types of skills, but as I mentioned, this video holds your hand through it all! Aside from my frustrating start with dpns, picking up the stitches was the most challenging part for me. I don’t think that black yarn helped. I had to be sure to pick the stitches up for the border during the day with a bright light on my work. I’m sure I missed some here and there. You have to get under both legs of the stitchI think this skill is just like any other skill….it takes practice! So I thanked my neighbor for allowing me to use her dog as a model to assist me in this skill. 

Picking up stitches can be challenging. I was sure to do this during the day when I could see the yarn best.

Once the stitches are picked up, you are smooth sailing! The trim is not that long so a few times I saw some missed stitches and I just pulled out the yarn and started again. It really wasn’t a big deal at all. Since Jonesey is part Dachshund, she is low to the ground, so I kept the trim on the leg holes shorter than what the pattern called. I think I only did 3 rounds or so. You can also keep the neck as is or roll it down like a turtleneck. Either way I think it is super cute and I am so happy at how it turned out. I loved it so much that I started another one. Here is the finished product off the dog.

Repetition-it’s not always a bad thing!

We all know the phrase “Keeping it Fresh” and that applies to fitness and knitting. You don’t want to get bored because then you might stop liking the activity and just stop. In the case of fitness, your body will start to get used to a particular exercise and you won’t be burning as many calories. You can also cause yourself to get an overuse injury and this would apply to knitting too. Yes, there is muscle memory (that is for another post) but today I was just thinking of repetition. 

Jackson enjoys repetitive belly rubs!

Mentally, I like repetition. Yesterday I woke up with a “kink” in my neck so I brought my workout back to the basics. I went for a walk and then hopped on my reformer. My mind always goes back to my training and I do the essential workout from the beginning. I do throw in some intermediate exercises (I did the entire single leg series which I love). I stayed with all lower body and ab exercises (keeping my head down) and it was just what I needed. While in training, we always started at the beginning of the series to warm up and I LOVED it. 

My reformer I have used for over 10 years!

A few years ago I did the YMCA strength and conditioning course so I could do personal training at that location. I remember a trainer saying while I was shadowing him,“ You never want to hear a client say…’Oh this again!’’’. I thought about that the rest of the day. I know what he means, but I also like to see how clients (and myself) progress. I lost count of the reactions I have seen when a client completes a Pilates teaser. It is the best look! I do teasers in EVERY SINGLE Pilates mat class I teach. I start with the modification and I build up the exercise. It is VERY repetitive, and very challenging, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I tend to use it as a gauge to see how my body is getting stronger…or weaker….like let’s say after fracturing an ankle…:-)

Look! I am even smiling during this teaser!

Knitting can also be very repetitive. I can do stockinette stitch while binge watching TV. I love it. If you were to ask me what my favorite stitch was, I would respond with “stockinette” without even pausing. BUT…I have to look up, get up and walk, and just give my wrists a break. Repetitiveness can cause overuse injuries or even give you a pain in the neck. So I make sure to take care. It’s not very often I am knitting for hours (maybe on a weekend), but I think I have mentioned in a previous post it is the repetitiveness that relaxes my mind. I think it is one of my favorite parts of knitting. I know I can grab that project and bring it with me anywhere I need to be waiting for a while and the time will fly by.

Car Knitting! (I wasn’t driving. My daughter was practicing in ice rink)

The repetitiveness of knitting is also great practice. I am not an expert knitter, but I have talked to many and watched my mom crochet growing up and probably the number one thing that we need to work on is TENSION. It’s an odd word to use while I am talking about how knitting is relaxing…but it is the tension of the yarn. Ha! My mom tried to teach me to crochet many times and my stitches were so loose. I just couldn’t figure out how to hold the yarn tight enough in my left hand. I kept dropping the hook and yarn. When I tried to tighten up, I could barely get the crochet hook through the loop because it was so tight. Just like everying else in life, you need to find that “happy medium”. I think I finished a little “blanket” for my Cabbage Patch Doll using up scrap yarn. I use different yarn on each row I believe. Yeah, that thing didn’t last. The blanket, not the doll. My stitches were all over the place. I admit, I just didn’t have the patience at the age of 10 to keep it up. Some kids are great at it…I was not. I guess it just wasn’t my time to learn. I mentioned in an earlier post that my mom gave me a huge bag of yarn. I also found this in the bag.

I know she is thrilled that I learned to knit. Apparently her mom knit and tried to teach her without any luck. Maybe it skips generations. Or maybe she is hoping I will be the one to master both????

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