Breaking for Spring

This week we’re on spring break and, fortuitously, we are also having some springlike weather, finally!  On Saturday, opening day at our local ice cream place, it was still a bit chilly, but we went anyway because we love their ice cream!

Thankfully, the next day was much warmer and it has been a little warmer each day since.  As per usual, I finished up a very warm and woolly sweater last week just as winter was gasping its last breath.

This is my new favorite sweater!  It’s warm and cozy, but also light and breathable.  I used Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn in the sweatshirt colorway.  I love this yarn so much that I am already plotting to make more sweaters with it.  Maybe one for the husband next?

He is impressed with how light it is for its size and I agree!  It’s much lighter than most yarns, holds its shape wonderfully, and does not pill at all.  It’s a great yarn.

I also finished up my hyacinthus armwarmers from the A Year of Techniques series of patterns.  These were super fun to knit and I will definitely be using the helical stripe technique again, maybe in socks next time.  In the meantime, the year has moved on to intarsia.

This is not my first time doing intarsia, but I have not always been happy with how my intarsia projects turn out.  My edges always seem a bit wonky.  This one is giving me lots of practice in the technique, so that is good, though I am not sure how well it will translate to other, more complicated patterns.  This project is a gentle introduction to intarsia, but one that is proving just as interesting to knit as the helical mitts.  It’s not a traveling project, though.  With multiple balls of yarn going at the same time on every row, it takes quite a bit of vigilance to not end up with a tangle.

And for those moments when I want a bit more mindless knitting, I’ve started a Find Your Fade shawl.  This pattern caught my eye several months ago as a good one to use up odd bits of leftovers.  It’s a really popular pattern at the moment and I can see why.  It’s one of those compelling knits because it is not complicated, but at the same time, it’s kind of a mystery how your colors will all look together.  So you just keep knitting one more row to see what it looks like or to get to the next section.

I’ve got a whole bunch of leftover fingering weight yarns plus one full skein of a lovely indigo blue that I am using up and it is such an awesome feeling to do that!  Some of my yarn balls are smaller than the pattern writer calls for, but the pattern is easy to adapt to account for that.  There have been a couple of close calls where I almost ran out of one color before I got to the end of a row.  I wonder if it would matter if I changed colors in the middle of a row?

The finished size of this shawl is quite big–over 100 inches!  Soon, it will be hard to take a picture of the whole thing.  I’m just hoping it all comes together and looks good.   So far, I think it is blending fairly well, though I am not sure about those streaks of green.  There was a little more pooling happening there than I would have liked.  It’s just a little bit, so hopefully it won’t stick out like a sore thumb later.

I’ve also been doing a bit of baking, but I think I better save that for next time!

No Spring in Sight

It’s supposed to be almost spring here, but it doesn’t feel like it.  Many of us around here were fooled a couple of weeks ago when local highs reached 60 for several days in a row.  All the snow melted and I actually started thinking about casting on some fingering weight sweater projects.  However, as we all know, weather is fickle, and we’re back to sub-freezing temperatures during the day now and, once again, there is snow blanketing everything.  The bushes are literally flattened by the change in weather.

The end of February meant also the end of the Through the Loops mystery sock knit along I mentioned last time.  To my surprise, I was actually able to keep up and get them finished on time.  This might be the first time I’ve ever done this as I am notorious for being easily bored and distracted, especially with socks.

I tried knitting both socks at the same time with this pair and was rewarded with a completed pair of socks at the end of the knit along.   Maybe this is the cure to Second Sock Syndrome?  It worked for me this time, anyway.

As for the Snowmelt shawl, this one got finished mostly because it was super easy knitting.  There was a little lace, but it was easy to follow and watch telly at the same time.  While knitting, I was a little unsure of how the multicolored yarn was going to look in the finished project, but despite my insecurity, I pressed on.  It turns out that I needn’t have worried.  There’s a little pooling, but it’s broken up pretty well with the pattern.

I cast on this project during our first Nor’easter in New England in early February.  It seemed fitting to block it while a second Nor’easter shook the house this past week.

For a brief moment, when both of these two knit alongs were nearing completion, I wondered what I was going to knit next.  Then, A Year of Techniques was brought to my attention (sorry there’s no link right now, but I will add it later when their server is back on) and I knew exactly what I was going to knit next: Hyacinthus Armwarmers.

If you have never done Helical striping, I urge you to try it.  Here’s a link to a video.  There’s also some info in there on how to get all the patterns that go with the knit along.

It took me about a week to finish the first set of mitts and I immediately cast on another, which says a lot about the compelling nature of the pattern and technique, since I almost never knit the same pattern twice in a row.  Plus, I had enough yarn leftover to make another set, so why not?

The return of the cold weather also drove me back to my old sweater project, Chartreuse.  I almost gave it up for the season when the temps were warm and I was dreaming of greenery all around me.  It did not seem likely that I would be able to finish it before the cold weather was gone for good.  I should have known better than to indulge in those daydreams.  So, I have picked it up again and after about a week’s worth of steady attention, it actually looks like a sweater now.

The chances that I will actually be able to finish this and wear it before the weather turns warm is pretty high now, I think.  As long as I don’t get distracted by something else…

 

Sidetracked

As so often happens when I set goals, I got a little distracted this month.  My original intention was to finish my Chartreuse, but it’s been a few weeks, and it doesn’t look much further along than it did before.

There is a slight difference, though.  I was able to get past the pocket portion, so that is something, I suppose.  Then, it got tossed aside for two completely spontaneous new mystery knit along projects that both started the first week in February.  There is the Through the Loops Mystery Sock knit along.

And the Snowmelt Mystery Shawl knitalong.

Both of these designers are new to me, which is fun and I enjoy a bit of deadline knitting now and then.  That’s not to say that I will knit anything.  Before I signed up, I made sure to check out their other designs to make sure I liked them, generally speaking.  And I did and, so far, I am really enjoying these knitalongs.

I’ve also just recently signed up for A Year of Techniques, which will be starting up in March, so I already have the next mystery lined up when these will be wrapping up.

My original intention was to sort of try to finish one pair of socks, one shawl, and one sweater a month, but I think I’m coming to the realization that that might be a bit much to try every month.  Two out of three might be a better goal.

I did manage to finish a pair of socks in January, but did not mention them here because they were a Valentine’s Day gift for the husband.  I used the Simple Skyp Sock pattern for these which was quite an easy to memorize pattern.

Incidentally, the husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day about process knitting versus product knitting.  I always thought of myself as a product knitter.  Generally speaking, I don’t see the point of making something if I don’t want the end product, but then he pointed out to me that I knit lots of shawls and hardly ever wear them.  That is totally true.  I love to knit shawls.  They can be easy or challenging skillwise, but they are almost always easy on my hands, which is not true for sweaters and socks.  Also, I don’t need to worry if they will fit.  As a result, I do have quite a few shawls which I love, but never wear.  What to do with them?  Anyone else have this dilemma?

 

 

In Other Stitches

Winter is a great time for us. Even though it has been unseasonably warm, there still isn’t enough daylight in a day to spend a lot of time outdoors.  So, we have been spending more time indoors, sitting by the fire, and playing games.  And I have been doing a fair amount of knitting.

Late Christmas present from hubby for an Owls sweater.  Looking forward to knitting a chunky sweater!  #knittersofinstagram #rowanyarn #ravelry

Last winter, I bought a sweater quantity of chunky Rowan wool to make an Owls sweater.  As this winter approached a few months ago, I decided I needed to have this sweater as soon as possible to help keep me warm.  The chunky yarn would not only be warmer, but it would also make the sweater a fast knit.  I started it way back in September, thinking it would be my Rhinebeck sweater, but then I got sidetracked.

Once all the Christmas knitting was finished and my projects re-prioritized, I picked Owls back up and charged ahead.

Well, it was more like start and stop because one thing I did not anticipate was how tired my hands would get from knitting with chunky yarn.  I could not do more than about an hour’s worth of knitting before I had to stop and take a break.

The only exception was the four hours I spent in a crowded, hot indoor pool building.  While I waited for my son to swim in 3 races that lasted about 30 seconds each, I was able to complete an entire sleeve.  I took lots of breaks, of course, but I think the heat and humidity did help keep my hands from getting as tired as they would in our 65 degree house.

Anyway, the original pattern is a pullover, but I decided a chunky sweater like this would be more wearable as a cardigan, so I modified the pattern a bit.  I’m not always super fastidious about taking notes when I alter a pattern, but I did make a few notes on my Ravelry project page.

Amazingly, this actually turns out to be one of the best fitting sweaters I think I have ever made.  The sleeves are just the right length, the collar is not too high for me, and it is not baggy at all.  The original sweater is meant to be close fitting.  I was worried that it might not translate to a cardigan well, but, happily, it is just right.  I’ll try to get some pictures of me actually wearing the sweater soon.  I just need to pick some buttons and find someone who is available and willing.

At the same time I was knitting Owls, I was also knitting Coastal Walk.  The dk weight Plucky Cozy yarn seemed tiny and light in comparison to the chunky Rowan wool.  This shawl practically flew off the needles.

This color, Strawberry wine, is impossible to capture accurately.  It’s a berry pinky purple and I love it.  What I did not love, however, is how much the dye bled when I soaked it for blocking.

This has happened to me before with red and pink yarn and it is also common with fabric in these colors as well.  I tried vinegar and that did not seem to do the trick, so I ended up changing the water probably about a dozen times before I gave up and went ahead and blocked it on a beach towel.  I’ll just have to try to remember not to wear it over a white shirt in the rain!

It was an interesting shawl to block as it had only two points and two curves.  I wasn’t sure my flexible wires would be strong enough or long enough here, so I opted to use just one pin at each point, and stretch it out with my hands as far as it would go. Then, I just let it dry overnight.

The result is an amazingly drapey and luxurious shawl/scarf thing that I want to wear all the time.  It must be the 10%  camel wool that did this because merino by itself is very bouncy.  The yarn stretched out quite a lot, which makes it just perfect for a shawl.

The dk weight will be extra warm, especially with the garter stitch border.  All in all, I think I am quite prepared for wintry weather now.  Perhaps winter has just been waiting for me to be properly attired before arriving to stay.

In the meantime, just in case those are not enough, I have picked up yet another sweater wip to try to finish this winter.

This is Chartreuse by Thea Colman in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn, color Sweatshirt.  I’m working on the pockets right now.  This is a new process for putting in pockets for me, so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.  Stay tuned!  What are you working on?

Finished Quilts

It’s done!

I was able to get the dining room table to myself for a few hours so that I could finish this up.

I think this might be the fastest I have ever finished a quilt, actually.  It helps that I only had to piece together two of the blocks!

I miscalculated the number of blocks that were coming my way, so I had a couple that had to be included on the back, but actually, I really like how these two are framed by larger pieces of fabric.  It highlights them.  Hmmm, maybe I see a kernel of an idea for a new quilt in there somewhere.

The weather has been less than ideal for outdoor photos, so I had to get some help to get a good picture.    I think he enjoyed the brief break it gave him from his work.

I was in a finishing groove, so I went on to quilt up this baby quilt that I had started early fall last year.

Lately, with my sewing, I have been trying very hard to use up what I have and this quilt used up some baby fabrics that were languishing.

I’m afraid the animals did not match the scale of the pattern, so they are a little lost, but the overall effect is ok.  There is still a lot for me to learn about choosing colors and patterns together.

On the upside, I do feel that my machine binding skills are getting much better.  I like to use 2 and 1/2 inch wide strips of fabric for my binding and that’s been helping me a lot.  A little extra to fold over the edge is just what I needed!

As soon as I can get these packed up and find the address, these are going off to a charity that supplies quilts to women and children’s shelters.  I hope they cheer someone up!