New Top

Finals stress is in really starting to get to me.  I’ve been spending the majority of every day in the library with my corporate tax books… who would have thought it’s a complicated subject… (most foolish class choice ever… screw being a well rounded candidate for jobs.)  I have been taking my knitting with me every day, and it makes such a difference.  My system is to set myself up in a walled off study cubical (the ones by the windows are prime study real estate) spread out all my books on the desk and put my knitting within reach.  I work for 45 minutes then I take a 15 minute knitting break.  I find the 15 minutes I “lose” knitting gives me time to process the information I’ve just crammed into my brain and gives me a chance to evaluate whether or not I understand what I’ve just put in my outline.  Go ahead, ask me about §351 nonrecognition exchanges, I dare you.

As a result of all this study knitting (plus my “unwinding” knitting at night) I’ve completed three projects.  This was the first.  It took a while to get it onto the blog because I had to wait for a nice enough day to go out and get some picture.

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It’s my Gamine tank that I showed you half finished a little while ago.  Cathy Carron’s super easy pattern is in the Summer 2010 Interweave Knits.  I knit the pattern almost exactly as written.  The only change I made was to hold off on the lace until the top was long enough to go over my pants.  I want the option of wearing this in the summer without something underneath it so eyelets all over the belly were less than desirable.  I like the lace as just a detail at the bottom.

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The yarn is from Yarnia.  It’s one of the house blends called “Spring” which is a totally appropriate name.  It’s one strand brown-green cotton-rayon blend, one strand sage green cotton, one strand pale green cotton, two strands lime green merino, and one strand shimmery green lurex.  The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but this yarn is classified as DK.  I think Yarnia yarns tend to run a bit on the thick side, and I find it very easy to knit a Yarnia DK to a gauge more typical of worsted yarns.  This picture shows the color particularly accurately.

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I was not expecting to have my picture taken…  I’m so proud of myself for actually finishing a project in time for it to be seasonable (I’ve been told spring is coming… I have faith.)  Usually I’m just finishing sweaters, mittens, scarves as the 80 degree weather is setting in.  This time, my stretchy cotton tank will be ready to go as the temps start to rise.

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Other than finishing up knitting projects and spending hours and hours in the library my life is extremely boring right now.  I would kill for a few extra hours just to clean my apartment… but it seems that the next two weeks will be too busy.

Hurry!

Sadly, I will not be working at Yarnia much longer.  For almost a year I’ve been there on the weekends winding yarn, chatting with customers, and being inspired by the endless possibilities that a shop like Yarnia presents.  On the up-side, the reason I’m leaving is because I managed to score a full-time legal clerk job for the summer.  Considering that I’m putting myself in an entirely foolish amount of debt to attend this law school thing, it seems like a good idea to start setting myself up for the possibility of a legal career.  I’ll be in the shop this weekend, then a weekend off while the new person is shown around, then one last weekend as sort of a buffer while the new person transitions to running the show.  That means three weeks until I say my final goodbye.  It also means three weeks until my employee discount runs out.  Not good.  I have a project on the go that I’m fairly certain I’m going to run out of yarn on.  That project is my Gamine Tank.

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The pattern is by Cathy Carron and can be found in the Summer 2010 Interweave Knits (miracle that I’m knitting a pattern from a magazine that’s less than a year old… usually patterns have to stew in my queue for quite a while before I make them.  I tell myself that this is to ensure that they are not just fashion fads and are actually something I will still want to wear after the current season.  This is a lie.  I’m just a slow knitter.)

Note to self: learn more words!  “Gamine,” as it turns out, basically means “girl with a boyish body.”  That is so not me.  Not at all.  I have the boob/hip thing in abundance and would call myself a slightly bottom-heavy hourglass.  This might end disastrously.  As of the picture, the top reached my thinnest part and I have since continued to knit down.  I’m hoping to avoid drawing attention to my belly by continuing in plain rib rather than the lace pattern called for in the instructions.  I’ll add the lace the the last inch or two rather than across the whole belly.  I’m hoping this will allow the flattering vertical nature of the ribbing to continue to shine.

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I’m not a fan of the whole “take a picture in the mirror” thing but it was well past midnight when I decided my progress needed documentation and I figured neither Ryan nor my brother Adam would like to be pestered into coming over to my place for a photo shoot.  I would drive across town at midnight for a knitting photo shoot, but I know not everyone would. 

I only have about one ounce of yarn left.  I’m certain this is not enough.  I’m hoping to finish off what I have before I have to stop working that way I can buy just enough to finish.  We shall see.  I have a terrible time predicting how much yarn is left on a Yarnia cone.  Some times I feel certain that I’m going to run out, that the cone will start to peek through the yarn at any minute, and yet I keep knitting and knitting, and finish my project with yarn to spare.  Other times I think I have tons and start wondering what I’ll do with all the leftover only to see the cone and get that sudden sinking “ran out of yarn feeling.”  I’m hoping I will just need 2-3 ounces more to get through the last couple of inches.  Who knows.

Law school finals are bearing down on me.  My “study” approach so far has been to pretend nothing is wrong and go about my daily routine.  Sadly, this means the next four weeks will be “hell weeks” where I kick my own ass and study till my brain leaks onto the floor to make up for all the nothing’s-wrong-at-all time I was having earlier in the month when everyone was starting their outlines.  This has been my system since the 8th grade.  It works for me.  I always hate myself the last 4 weeks for letting things get so far behind, push myself to the brink of insanity, tell myself I will be more pro-active in coming semesters, then (once the new semester arrives) I tell myself “well I did fine last semester studying at the last minute, everything will be fine this semester as well.”  It’s one of those cycles where early-in-the-semester-Melanie constantly screws-over end-of-semester-Melanie, and this me never gets to take out any revenge on that me, and so she never learns her lesson.  Coincidentally, if you have an outline of Corporate Taxation Law lying around your living room… call me.

Whirligig

In September I finished test-knitting Whirligig Shrug for Stephanie Japel. The pattern originally appeared in Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 but was only sized for babies. Stephanie decided to up-size it for children, and eventually plans to release an adult version as well. I volunteered to test the Child size 6 (in the hopes of getting a free copy of the adult sized pattern once it is released.) I have no idea about children’s clothes sizing so have no idea what age of child a size 6 would fit. It’s pretty cute though.

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I used a DK weight yarn called Soft Sea Wool from Reynolds. It’s 100% wool, so it may have been an impractical choice for a child’s garment since it’s not machine washable… Also, it’s a 2-ply yarn so it’s a bit nubbley and doesn’t show off the seed stitch or the cables as well as it could. If I knit it again I will be sure to use a more balanced 3- or 4-ply yarn for smooth stitch definition.

I couldn’t get a good picture of the front because I couldn’t hang it and get a picture, but here it is flat against a dark background. (I figured kidnapping a child just to model handknits for me might be more trouble than it’s worth, so you’re stuck with this mediocre picture of the front.)

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I can absolutely vouch for the pattern and say that it is error free (at least as to size 6) and very quick to knit. I found working the small circumference of the arms a bit tedious, but I assume it would be that way for any child-sized garment with arms. Probably this will end up donated to the charity that provides clothes to the homeless here in Portland.

Another satisfied knitter

Back in August, out of pure curiosity, I cast on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s infamous Baby Surprise Jacket. According to Ravelry there have been over 13,000 of these little baby sweaters knit. I’m sure the reason why is the interesting construction. The little sweater is knit flat in garter stitch (no purling!) and then two little shoulder seams are sewn, buttons are attached, and a sweater magically appears. Here is what it looks like just after cast off (the red stripe is the cast on edge the yellow strip is the bind off edge.)

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The weird ruffled shape comes from what, as you’re knitting, feels like completely incomprehensibly placed increases and decreases. Then the folding happens. Magically you have something that looks like a sweater.

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The seaming didn’t take long at all. The seams are sewn from the neck to the end of the sleeve on the top of the shoulders. Buttons took me a little longer. I ordered some great polymer clay buttons from Orly Rabinowitz on etsy. The buttons took a while to get here since Orly is in Israel, but they’re so cute and work so well that it was totally worth the wait. Also, I got to procrastinate on finishing without feeling guilty.

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The variegated yarn comes from a Knit Picks Sock Blank that was dyed for me by schknitz on Ravelry for a swap. I used two strands together, so it was basically a worsted weight. The contrasting yellow was added as an afterthought when I did the math a realized that I was certainly going to run out of the main color. It’s leftover Encore Worsted from way back when I knit a baby sweater for a boss who is a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Here is what the Sock Blank looked like before it was knit.

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Now that it’s done I have no idea what to do with it… I don’t have a baby. I don’t know anyone who has a baby. I don’t know anyone who is in the process of making a baby. I think I might donate it to one of the charities to support the homeless in Portland. It’s starting to get pretty cold here. If Bear can be this cute in the sweater, imagine how adorable it will be when it actually gets wrapped around a baby.

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The estimation game

OK friends I have come up with a crazy game to play with myself to hopefully help me get some of those WIPs off the needs. Here is my plan: I am going to estimate how many days of knitting it will take to finish each of my WIPs. I will try to pick something that is a bit challenging but (hopefully) reasonable. For each WIP that I finish within the allotted amount of time I can spend $15 on yarn. That is a potential of $165 I would allow myself to splurge!

The rules:

1) I must knit some each day. If I don’t knit one day one of my projects will still have to take a strike.

2) Each day will be allocated to one project. If I knit on more than one project I will have to choose which one takes the day.

3) Any new cast-ons (with the one exception I will explain later) will not count. If I waste days playing with new projects I may have to give up getting some new yarn.

4) Finished means completely finished. As in off the needles, blocked, seamed, buttons applied, etc. Ready to be worn/used.

5) No money can be spent on yarn, needles, notions, ect. until this challenge is over, i.e. all the days have been used up.

My predictions:

1) First spinning attempt. I bought a drop spindle and some Targhee wool at sock summit last August and started spinning away. I actually got to the point where my spinning was pretty even but then I got distracted with school and didn’t pick it up for 11 months. Now I am at it again and am getting somewhat even results… For a first attempt I’m pretty happy. Anyway, about 1 oz. of the 3.8 oz braid was used in my thrummed mittens. The rest is on it’s way to becoming yarn. According to my Knit Picks yarn scale (so wonderful to have!) I have 0.78 oz left. I’m going to be a little generous with this one and give myself 5 days to finish since I’m so new to spinning. I think two days for spinning, two days for plying, and one day for washing, drying and skeining.

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2) Op Art. I have four stripes left on this blanket. That sounds pretty manageable, until I think about how each stripe contains both more rows that the stripe before and more stitches per row. I’m going to push myself and give myself 20 days here. right now it’s taking me about 35 minutes to do one row. I’m guessing I have 60 hours left on this puppy so I’m going to have to give it 3 hours each of it’s days. This is going to be my biggest challenge.

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3) Hope for Change socks. My oldest WIP to date. I love the way this pattern looks, it’s just not my favorite to knit. One sock is complete the other sock is about 2/3 up my instep (knit from toe up). I’m only giving myself 3 days to finish these babies. One day to get past the heel, two days for the leg and cuff.

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4) Mojo socks. These are so close to being done I can taste it. I have 45 rows left. These get one day.

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5) Yeah for Fall (Green Gable sweater). This went so quickly when I was working on it. I knit the whole body in about a week. I’m going to give it one more week. 3 days to finish the sleeves, 3 days to finish the yoke and hood, and 1 day for blocking.

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5) Birthday socks (Air Raid socks). The first sock is finished. The second sock has one repeat of 6 done on the leg (knit from the top down). The first sock went very fast. There is no real reason these have taken so long other than they are my “purse” project and I haven’t had to wait very often (knock on wood). I will give these 5 days.

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6) Selbu Mittens. One mitten is half done. These take complete attention because I have to follow the colorwork chart carefully. With school starting on the 30th complete attention is going to be hard to give. I’m going to be a bit lax with these and give them 14 days since full devotion will be hard to muster.

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7) Baby Surprise Jacket. This will go quickly once I turn my attention to it, I have just been focusing on other things recently. I am giving this 3 days.

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8) Victorian Scarf. Lace, like colorwork takes a lot of attention. Also, this project is pretty huge. I have 3 repeats of 42 done, plus the center panel, which is skinny but looooooong. I am going to give this project 18 days. That is 3 repeats a day for 14 days then 3 days for the center panel and 1 for blocking.

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9) Pomatomous Socks. These are fun to knit but all of the twisted stitches are slow going for me. I am 1/3 through the leg (knit top down) on the first sock. I’m going to say 10 days for these socks.

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10) Test Knit – Bashful. I can’t show you a picture of this one, but I’m test knitting a hat for Marly Bird aka Yarnthing on Ravelry. The hat is slouchy and DK weight but I can’t tell you anything about it until the pattern is released. So far all I have knit is the ribbing. I’m giving it 2 days since it’s a hat and hats are smallish quickish projects.

11) Test Knit – Whirligig bolero. This is a test knit for Stephanie Japel to help her up-size a pattern that was originally only in baby/toddler sizes. She is going to re-release it with bigger child and adult sizes. I’m testing one of the child sizes. It will either go to one of my cousins’ kids or to charity, but when the pattern is release I will have the adult sizes muahahaha. I haven’t actually gotten the pattern yet or my assigned size (supposed to come out today) but it has to be done within 3 weeks so I’m going to give myself 21 days.

That is 108 days to finish all my projects. That means on November 25 I will be done with this little adventure. That gives me one month to do any Christmas knitting I need… More than enough right…

WIPs march of shame (part seven – the finale)

Hello friends! I have one last WIP to show you and then you are all caught up on my knitting exploits (except for one project that I can’t share with you until I finish completely because it is somewhat secret).

Anyway, you’ll never guess what this is.

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I know it’s impossible to tell from that tiny little strip but that is the infamous Baby Surprise Jacket by the infamous Elizabeth Zimmerman. I am knitting mine from this:

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It is a Knit Picks Sock Blank that was dyed for me in the Dyed Sock Blank Swap on ravelry. This blank was dyed for me by schknitz of Ravelry. I think it looks like a watercolor of a sunset when knit up.

I started this on a whim (wanted to make one of the great patterns and thought it would go fast–I’m knitting with two strands held together) but haven’t made much progress as you can see. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the pattern, I happen to love garter stitch. It has, however, become painfully obvious to me after looking at other people’s renditions of this sweater that I’m going to run out of yarn.

Rather than undo what little I’ve already done, I think I’ll add stripes as so many before me have done. I’m just not sure what will stripe well with this yet… I’ll have to spend some time with the stash and pull out something more neutral to tone down the loud colors.

Recently, most of my attention has been devoted to the secret project which I will let you all know about shortly.

WIPs march of shame (part four)

Since I showed you my two newest WIPs last post, it’s time to go back into the archives and show you another oldie. After this post, I will only have three more posts-o-shame to get you all caught up on the projects that have been languishing for more or less time in my knitting basket.

Here is my GreenGable Hoodie by Mari Muinonen from the Fall 2008 issue of VogueKnitting.

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I started knitting this in November and thought it would be a really quick knit since it’s made out of bulky-weight yarn. It does knit up very quickly… when I knit on it. The problem is, winter finals came around and I stopped working on it, and I didn’t exactly mark where I was in the instructions… I know it probably wouldn’t take me more than 10 minutes to sit down with the pattern and the instructions and work out where I’m at, but I don’t have too much enthusiasm for bulky-weight wool right now since it’s been over 90 degrees here all week and I have no air conditioning.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky 100% Superwash Wool in the colorway Adobo. I put it in my Knit Picks wish list when it was being discontinued and was lucky enough to be given 13 skeins of it. So far I’ve used 4 so I’m thinking I’ll be able to get two sweaters. I’ll have to find a pattern that’s drastically different so people won’t realize that I have two sweaters of the exact same color… or maybe I can make up some chunky hats and mittens to donate to the homeless shelter here in Portland. That idea kinda makes my heart happy.

Sadly I haven’t made much progress toward finishing any WIP since I keep jumping from one to another working 10-20 rows on something before moving on to the next project. When you have 9 projects all growing an inch at a time it takes a while to show progress. This week I must knuckle-down and finish something.

One less WIP!

OK, I know I said I would be updating you regularly on all the WIPs I have on the needles, but I got a wee bit distracted. You see, I got super focused on knitting this:

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It is Pioneer by K-bomb from the Spring 2009 issue of knitty. I started it back in October and kint through the v-neck increases (it’s knit in the round from the top down) but once I got to the torso I lost all hope and the project went on a long hiatus. It’s knit in sport-weight yarn on size 5 needles making it a good light-weight spring garment, but also meaning you need about 200 stitches for every single round. I used Knit Picks new sport-weight version of their sock yarn Stroll. The color is called Hot Rod Heather. The yarn is 75% wool 25% nylon and, best of all, is machine washable. I find the yarn very soft and have no problem with it touching my skin.

One of the things that makes this sweater a bit tedious to knit is that every other row there are itty bitty two-stitch cables that form columns down the back, down the sleeves, and under the arms. They look pretty cool and break up the plain stockinette, but they also mean that this sweater falls into a weird realm of not-quite being mindless take-anywhere knitting, but not really being that intriguing to work on. Here are the columns:

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The neck edge is a shell crochet pattern. My crochet skills are by no means advanced, limited mostly to the few amigurumi I have made, but I did not find this very difficult to execute. I have found that even with the crocheting, the neck edge tends to roll under a bit and I have to keep straightening it and patting it flat… I’m hoping this will magically go away otherwise I may have to take the crocheting out and do the v-neck in moss stitch which is how the arms and bottom of the sweater are finished.

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That is intended to be a close up of the crochet edging around the neck, not a close up of my chest… The reason it took me 10 days to get back to the blog is because I really wanted to finish this so that I could show you another FO instead of marching through my shameful number of WIPs. Unfortunately this didn’t want to be finished on the time line I had in mind. First I knit it to the length called for in the pattern, did the moss stitch, bound off, and tried it on. (Don’t remind me that I could have tried it on before doing the moss stitch and binding off, I know!) Anyway, it was too short. Not actually too short in the way that people would look at it and go, “that sweater is too short for her” but too short in the way that when standing normally it looked fine but when I raised my arms above my shoulders suddenly large swaths of my belly were exposed… Not my favorite look. So I added the crochet neck edging and knit the sleeves (I couldn’t bear to rip back just then) and after “finishing” the sweater I went back, frogged the moss stitch, knit an extra three inches of body, and re-knit the moss stitch. This meant that I finished a few days later than anticipated, and delayed my blog post. Good excuse, no?

The sweater I got to wear three times

Sadly, I’m almost finished updating you on all the projects I’ve completed in the past six months… There’s only one more after I show you this sweater. Then I can move on to showing you all the things that are on my needles currently… all TEN of them.

This project you’ve actually partially seen before. Here. And here. And here. But here it is for the first time completed.

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This is my climbing vines pullover by Joelle Meier Rioux. The pattern was in the Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Knits, I loved it when I first saw it, but needless to say it took me a while to get around to finishing it. I started it in Wisconsin because I wanted to stash-bust the slightly bulky yarn before moving. Sadly, I didn’t quit finish and ended up just having to move the half-finished sweater. Then I spent the summer in New Mexico and didn’t really feel like working with a wool/angora blend. I finally picked it back up during the Portland winter.

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The yarn is Berroco Pleasure which has been discontinued. It was picked up for me at a sale at my Wisconsin LYS for a song. The original price is about $14 per ball, but after all the discounts, I got it for about $5 per ball. The sweater bloomed quite a bit in the wash and does have a halo now from the angora but not terribly. It’s so snuggly, I find myself cuddling my arms and belly when I wear it… Probably I should make sure too many people don’t see me doing that…

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Of course, basically as soon as I finished this, the weather turned beautiful and much to warm for wool. I managed to wear it about three times before the heat made it impossible, but now it is in my closet waiting impatiently for next winter.

The one single problem with this sweater is that it can’t be machine washed and it takes forever to dry. Its hard to find a place to lay it out for three days straight in my small apartment and with my cats… This is the 4th adult-sized sweater that I have completed and I have loved each of them so much. Luckily I have two more on the needles, which you will see soon, so hopefully there will be more in the future.

I’m Cursed

So last post was all about how I’m finally starting to get some energy back after adjusting to my big new workload and am finally starting to feel like I want to knit again… Well, says the Universe, We’ll see about that. Last post I showed you my Mojo socks:

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If you look at the picture you can see the sock is on one circular needle. It’s only a 24″ needle which means that it’s impossible to work magic loop on. It’s arranged that way because the Yarn Destroyers, aka

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decided that they didn’t like the two-circs method of sock knitting and plotted to relieve me of one of the needles I was using by chewing through it. I transferred all the stitches to the one remaining needle, but I can’t actually work on the sock now…

That’s OK, I say to myself, I’ve got a lot of other WIPs that I could give some attention to. So I pulled out my Climbing Vines pullover that’s been languishing in a box of “needs to be sorted through” stuff from the move. Back in Wisconsin I had completed the back and one sleeve, but once I moved to New Mexico working with aran-weight angora in the blazing summer didn’t seem very attractive. Once I got to Oregon it wasn’t as hot outside, but I have no air conditioner so until it cooled off here I had the same heat-induced adversity to working on the project. Now it’s become pleasantly cool and the sweater became a very attractive project. So I blazed through the second arm and was working away on the front. Then, I decided to put my knitting in my purse, just in case an opportunity to work on it while running errands presented itself. Apparently, one of the needles was sticking out a bit because as I walked up to the check out counter at the grocery store I must have clipped one of the displays because the next thing I hear is a snapping noise. Bye-bye number 7. Now, I don’t know if you remember, but I already broke my number 7s while working on this project and had to order a new set. I don’t know if this particular project is cursed or if it’s just me…

Now I do have two other projects that really do deserve attention, but come on universe! I was really on a roll with both projects and I want to work on THEM dang it! By the time the replacements arrive I’ll have lost all the momentum I built up and I’ll have to start getting enthusiastic all over again.

The truely problematic question is, be good and work on WIPs? or comfort myself by starting and exciting new project?