Winter is for Knitting

For some reason, this winter seems to be dragging on for me.  Maybe it’s the fact that I was sick for a month or maybe because we have had some record breaking low temperatures or maybe because we actually have not had much snow (for New England), but I have been feeling a little weary of winter.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love winter.  I much prefer winter to the sizzling hot summer.  However, I do get a little stir-crazy sometimes and I miss going on long walks or bike rides.  Exercise videos don’t hold my attention for long and  when the roads and sidewalks are slushy and icy, it’s hard to leave the house for any reason.

So, I look for anything that might be fun to do indoors and mostly, that involves knitting or sewing or baking.  This week, I was taken with the idea of knitting a Carbeth Sweater by Kate Davies.  The MasonDixon Knitting Ladies are spearheading a knitalong for this sweater in February.  When I saw that Kate herself knit a version of the sweater with two different colored yarns together, that gave me an idea.  I gathered some yarn–four to begin with.

These are some odd skeins of undyed yarns that have been hanging around in the stash for awhile.  I thought it would be cool to use up some of those skeins in this chunky sweater.  All four for these was a bit too chunky for the pattern, however.  Then, I had a moment of inspiration.

I gathered all my bits of leftover undyed yarns and sorted them into shades of color.  Maybe, just maybe I could put together some sort of gradient sweater. So, of course, I dived right in with the sleeve.

Here, I am using one strand of sport, one strand of fingering, and one strand of laceweight.  While I was knitting the dark cuff, I hatched a plan to make the sleeves and body sort of matchy.  The plan that I came up with was to divide each little ball of leftover yarn that I had into 3 parts.  One half of each type of yarn I would save for the body, and then one quarter of each would go towards each of the sleeves.  My kitchen scale was not up to the task of dividing those little skeins accurately enough, though.  Then, I remembered that we actually bought a lot of science lab equipment this year for high school physics labs and one of the things we bought was a mass balance scale.  It can weigh tenths of grams.  Hurray!

I’ve got most of the yarns divided now and was able to get almost a whole sleeve done in just one day.  Sadly, I needed to slow down the knitting a little because I was having trouble with one of my thumbs and chunky knitting is hard on my hands.  Hmmm, perhaps I have been knitting a little more than usual lately?  So, I took a day or so off from knitting and did some other things.

Starting today, though, I will embrace winter knitting once again because today the Winter Olympics begin! Actually, tv coverage began last night, but today is the official opening.  I really look forward to watching the olympics whenever it comes around (summer or winter) and I take that opportunity to tackle a nice knitting project to work on while watching the games.  This year, it’s a yoked sweater, surprise!

Advertisements

Three for the Road

2018 has started off well for me in the sweater finishing department.  I was able to finish three sweaters that I had started last year.  Unfortunately, some of my productivity was due to being sick for a lot of the month of January and many hours sitting by a pool, but regardless of how I got there, I am thrilled to be done with these.

Nor’easter by Thea Colman is a great all purpose cardigan.  I used West Yorkshire Spinners’ Jacob DK and it created a nice fabric.  Aside from the strange patch that I mentioned in my last post, the yarn was lovely to work with. I know I said I was going to fix that patch on the arm, but once I started wearing it, I found that I didn’t even really notice it was there.  So, I’m just going to leave it alone.  The only further modification I might make is to add pockets to the front since it looks a little plain right now.

The back, however is great.  I love that cable on the back.

I also finally got my Boreal sweater blocked.  As I expected, the Berroco Ultra Alpaca that I used grew a little when I blocked it, but the yarn is super soft and warm.  I kind of like it a little long, actually.  The neck feels a little bit better as well and most of the puckering has flattened out.  The colorwork on this pattern is a little more challenging than usual because some of the floats are very long, so I had to pay attention and catch them when they were spanning more than 5 stitches.  This can wreak havoc on the tension, but I think it blocked out mostly ok.  There are still a couple of puckery areas.

Last across the finish line is my Strokkur sweater.  This is my first sweater using Istex Lettlopi, but I don’t think it will be my last.  The yarn is a bit hairy and scratchy, but incredibly light and warm and very affordable.   I can see why Icelandic folk like to use it.  The fit on this sweater is particularly nice since it incorporates some short rows to lower the neck line and lengthen the back.  I always find it annoying when a sweater rides up on my neck in the front and pulls up in the back.

You might think that I would be tired of sweater knitting after all this, but no.  I’ve got plans for more.  Last night I spent some time swatching.

And last weekend, I didn’t bother to swatch before I started a new sweater.  I was sick again last weekend (just a cold, nothing major) and in need of some cheering up, so I grabbed some old stash of Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn and started this happy stripey cardigan.  The pattern is Mon Petit Gilet Raye and it’s free on Ravelry.

I think February is looking good.

Just Yoking

Remember last week when I mentioned that I did not like knitting sleeves?  Well, I take that back now.  Sleeves are awesome.  Sleeves are fun to knit.  They are especially great when you have three swim meets to go to in a week.

In fact, between swim meets and watching Victoria on PBS, all four of my dark grey sleeves are now done.

In some ways, I prefer sleeves to socks for travel knitting.  There’s no heel to turn or tiny stitches to drop accidentally when something exciting happens.  They are usually stockinette and you just have to remember to increase every once in awhile.  They also tend to grow faster than socks

For these colorwork sleeves, I did the plain parts while I was out and about, and then saved the colorwork part for home knitting.  Once I attached the sleeves to the main body, I discovered that I could not stop knitting it.

In just a few days, I had a nearly completed sweater.  Last night, I finished the knitting and have been wearing it all day.

It needs a blocking because the stitches are uneven and some of it is puckered.  However, it is comfy and warm.  My only complaint about the pattern is that the neck line in the front is a bit high for me.  I’d like for the front to scoop down a little more, but maybe that will be better after it is blocked.

As soon as I cast off Boreal, I immediately went to work attaching the sleeves on my next yoke sweater.  I’m excited to be finishing some sweater projects after a long spell of not finishing much.  It has also inspired me to dig around in my stash to plan for upcoming sweater projects.  I feel like I’m on a roll here and I would like to ride it as long as I can.  Unfortunately, swim meet season is now over, so no more poolside knitting for me.  It almost makes me sad that it’s over.  Almost, but not quite.  I’ll be glad to have some freedom back in our daily schedule, but it will probably mean that I will get less knitting done.  But wait.  The Winter Olympics are starting in a couple weeks!  Yay!  I need to get some knitting organized for that two week long tv watching marathon.  Be back soon.

 

Back to It

Hello and Happy New Year to you!  I know I’m a little late saying that, but up until last week, I was still sick with that annoying bug that I had last time I was here.  It has been a long time since I was sick for that length of time and towards the end, I must admit, I was losing my patience with it.  Anyway, I am feeling much better now and really glad to get back to things that got neglected while I was sick.

The first is this Nor’easter sweater by Thea Colman.  I started this back in September with the goal of finishing by Christmas.

Well, it didn’t quite happen.  While I was sick, there were whole days that went by without knitting a single stitch of anything.  However, a week and a half ago, when we were expecting a big snowstorm, I pulled it out and decided to try to finish it.  I had the entire yoke and collar left.

By this past weekend, I had made it to the collar, woohoo!

And now it’s all done, yay!  Well, almost.   There are a couple of things I have to do first.  First, I need to pick buttons.

Awhile ago, I was helping a friend clean out her apartment for a move, and she gave me her entire button collection.  What a treasure trove!

After spending some time digging through them, I chose four options.

Which do you think?

There’s also a little problem with one of the sleeves.

See that funny line of knitting in the middle of the sleeve?  The yarn went all weird and wiry there.  In true denial fashion, I kept knitting, thinking that maybe it would correct itself in the blocking.  As you can see, it did not.  So, my next plan is to do a duplicate stitch over that section because the last thing I want to do is rip out the sleeve.

After finishing the knitting on this one, I felt that maybe I could ride this finishing wave, and I got out all my other wintery sweater projects that are in progress.

This is Strokkur by Ysolda Teague.  The bottom of the body is done and is awaiting sleeves to go on.  I also need to choose two out of the three colors in the photo to use for the colorwork yoke.  I think I’m leaning towards pink and white.

This is Boreal by Kate Davies, also awaiting sleeves in order to move on.

Do you see a theme?

I must really want a dark grey yoked sweater very badly, but I guess I don’t like to knit sleeves!  Well, we have another little snowstorm coming soon, so maybe I can use that to make a little more progress on one of these.

Or maybe not.  Because I have been into starting new projects lately.  More on these later.

How’s your 2018 going so far?

Limping Along

This past week I have been sick, not horribly so, but sick enough that I’m not getting much sleep and daily activities seem to require a lot of effort.  The kind of sick that requires lots of over the counter measures and an all day supply of hot tea to be functional.  Germs don’t really care if you have 20 dozen cookies you want to bake or gifts that need to be bought or loaves of bread to bake.  They just come on in and take over your life when they feel like it and we just have to sit back and watch it happen. What little energy I have, has been devoted to baking.  The house is a mess, no presents have been wrapped, and meal planning for the holidays has been almost nonexistent.  I did buy a ham.  That should feed us for a couple days.  We’ll survive on cookies and ham this Christmas.

The boys were a big help to me over the weekend when we baked up cookies for packages that needed to be sent and for a cookie exchange.

Most of these doughs were made and frozen before I got sick and they just required cutting, decorating, and baking.  Then, when the pizzelle maker came out of the pantry, the husband got in on the action as well.

Making pizzelles is a four person operation: one to scoop (that was me), one to time, one to remove the cookies, and the last one to cool and pack them.

The boys also did most of the packing up.

We put each type of cookie in its own tin  so that flavors and moisture levels don’t mingle.  Then the boys bagged up a lot of cookies and packed up the boxes we wanted to mail out.

Which reminds me that I never announced the winner of my giveaway!  It was  Sara, also known as crazysheeplady on Instagram.  She has a great blog called Punkin’s Patch where she documents her life as a sheperdess.  Hopefully, her package will get there in the next day or so.  Thank you to everyone who entered!

Once those cookie boxes were sent out (also known as stage 1 of Christmas baking), I turned my attention to stage 2: breads.  First on the agenda was Panettone.

I make these every year with the same recipe.  The only thing I change is to substitute candied chestnuts for half of the fruit/candied peel mixture.  This year I also decided not to do the glaze.  It’s very messy and stuff falls everywhere when you turn them upside down to hang.  I just sprinkle them with a little pearl sugar and it looks pretty enough for me.  This year, I also tried a version with dried pear and chocolate.  We’re looking forward to trying that one.

One advantage to being sick and homebound is that it has allowed me to develop a rolling schedule for feeding the starter and building these bread doughs.  If I time it right, I can bake a pandoro in the morning and a panettone in the evening.  Of course, last night’s pandoro did not rise in our cold kitchen, so it is getting some remedial time in our furnace room which is the warmest room in the house.

Hopefully, these will turn out well and we’ll have some yummy bread to go with our cookies and ham.  Maybe I should try to cook something red or green, too.  How about these.  Would these count as a vegetable?

I thought we were done with cookies, but I had to squeeze these in for my younger son.  I’ll tell you the story next time!

Hope your holiday preparations are humming along!  What are your strategies for getting it all done when time is running out?