Category Archives: Inspiration

Pink is Next

Well, my olympic knitting sweater project is coming along nicely.

As I predicted, it has been nice to have lots and lots of stockinette stitch knitting to do while I watched the hours of olympic sports coverage.  For the first 12 inches, the knitting seemed to just fly by.  I couldn’t believe how fast it was knitting up but then, things sort of ground to a crawl.  I would do an hour or so of knitting, take a measurement, and find that it had not really grown much at all.  This happened several times and is common to all knitters at some point.  We like to call it the black hole of knitting.  Somehow, lots of yarn is being knit, but the project does not grow.  Most likely, it suffers from the malady of overattention.  The solution, of course, is to ignore it entirely and keep knitting, without taking measurements.  Then, inevitably, the knitter will overshoot the mark and have something too long.  Such is the way of knitting.

Fortunately, I had cookies and sleeves to help me along and break up the monotony a little.  A couple of nights ago, I declared the bottom part of the body done ( I was close enough to the required measurements and you know how much measurements lie anyway) and attached the sleeves.  Last night, I began the colorwork.

This is my favorite part.  The only problem is that it is hard to watch the actual olympic sports and pay attention to what color I am supposed to be knitting at the same time.  I will persevere, though, and hope that if I slow down my knitting a little, I will not make any horrendous mistakes.

Meanwhile, I have also been working on my Carbeth sweater here and there.  I finished the first sleeve, which hardly took any time at all, and began the second.  The pattern says to knit the body first and then the sleeves, but I wanted to do the sleeves first so that they would match.  Unfortunately, my weighing system did not work out as well as I had hoped, and I was short about an inch or so of the dark brown for the second sleeve.

This, I knew, would bother me, and since I was not too far along, I went ahead and fixed it, using some of the dark brown I had reserved for the body.  Good thing I knit the sleeves first!  This made me much happier, mostly because I think that, visually, it would be noticeable if the sleeves did not match, but not so jarring if the body does not match the sleeves since they are different shapes.

Things are coming along nicely now, and I am interested to see how the body will look once it’s finished.  I’m planning to make the body longer than the pattern calls for.  It’s too cold around here for a cropped chunky weight turtle-necked sweater.

All the brown and neutral colors were starting to get to me, though.  So, yesterday, I decided to quite waiting for a “convenient time” and warp my long hibernating loom.

Despite doing it wrong ( I warped around the wrong beam in the back), I think it will still work and carried on.  It only took three hours to get it ready to finally to some weaving.  Hopefully, that time will decrease with practice!

The weaving goes fast, though, and I am really enjoying the colors moving past.  This is some variegated yarn stash that I have struggled to find a knitting project for and just last week, I had the inspiration that weaving with it would be perfect and I was right.

For the warp yarn, I am using a giant cone of sock yarn that I bought at a seconds table several years ago at Rhinebeck.  I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn to make several scarves/wraps/cowls with it.  I definitely have plenty of variegated yarn in the stash to use with it as well.  I’m so happy to be weaving again.  I forgot how much I enjoy it.

And the colors are cheering me up during these late winter dreary days.  I think after those two brown sweaters above are done, I’m going to knit some colorful things.  Pink sounds good to me right now.

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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!

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.

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?

Underway

Ok, after my head start last week on Christmas baking, things stalled for a few days while we were busy with other things.  One of these things involved a fantastic cake made by the husband!

This is the Blackcurrant cake from Sweet by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi. The cake is made in a big sheet pan and then cut into strips.

The strips are spread with buttercream and then rolled up into one big spiral.  The result is a small, tall, and incredibly cute cake.

Here’s what it looks like when you cut it open.

Isn’t it fun?  And it was tasty as well.  We did not have blackcurrants, so we used some strawberry peach jam instead.  The jam made it extra sweet, so next time I would try to pick something that has more tart than sweet flavors.  A lemon curd would be yummy or, better yet, passionfruit!

After we polished off that cake (It didn’t take long; the cake is only 5.5 inches in diameter), I continued my Christmas baking with a new bread recipe from the Bake from Scratch magazine.  Have you heard of this magazine?  I first came across it a couple of years ago and was taken in by the great photos and feature articles.  The current issue has an article about Christmas wreath breads, and you know how much I love sweet bread recipes!  That, and the fact that a few of them are Scandinavian inspired, just compelled me to buy the issue just to try them.  The first one is a twist on a Norwegian Julekake.  It has a cranberry jam swirl that is made by prepping the dough cinnamon bun style.  Then you slice it in half lengthwise and twist it to make this pretty shape.

The recipe called for candied lemon peel, but we thought that chocolate would go well with the cranberry.  From what I understand, a Julekake is usually made in a boule shape and is studded with dried and candied fruits and peels, so this is quite a “twist” on that traditional bread!

The dough was wonderful to work with and gave me no trouble at all.  I doubled the recipe and made three loaves.  The bread is beautiful once baked, and is wonderfully scented with cardamom.  Sadly, two of the loaves are a little over baked.  After a year and a half, I still feel like I am getting to know my oven.  This time, I learned that I can’t bake two large loaves side by side in the oven or else the edges will burn.  This is actually probably true of most ovens.  If you don’t leave enough room for air to circulate around your pans, you get uneven baking (sad face).

Anyway, the bread is supposed to get an icing, which I will do when I serve it to a larger group, but for now, it is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee at breakfast! That’s all the baking for now, but I have done some prep work for future baking.  I had to make a new batch of candied orange peel because a batch I made earlier had gone moldy (another sad face here).  Also, I was able to find a really nice buddha’s hand citron over the weekend, so I made some candied citron as well.

Some of you may remember that I usually do a giveaway this time of year with a 12 days of Christmas theme with 12 posts.  I’m not sure that I can do 12 posts this year because of our crazy school and sports schedule, but I still plan to do a giveaway.  More details soon, so stay tuned!