Blog Archives

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!

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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?

Clearing Up

Happy New Year to you!  I hope that you had a wonderful break from your normal routines.  We sure did enjoy ours.  It was very full of baking, travel, and spending time with good friends.   Now that it is over, I can feel just how good it was to take a break from the everyday work of our regular lives.  We really needed that physical and mental break!

Also, now that I am not a crazy person who bakes every moment of every day, I have really enjoyed revisiting my other hobbies: quilting and knitting.  On the quilting front, I was able to get my charity quilt for do.good.stitches organized for machine quilting.  I’m doing simple straght-ish lines because my machine is really basic and doesn’t really do free motion quilting that well.

I do really love all the blocks that came in for this quilt.  I’ve got all the horizontal lines done and just need another afternoon or two to get the vertical ones done as well as the binding.  The only trouble is that I really need to do the quilting on the dining room table in order to be able to have enough space to move it around.  Unfortunately, the dining room is also the most used space of the house!  Well, maybe I can convince the boys to go somewhere else to work for a day or two if I give them enough chocolate!

This week, I also took an afternoon to take a hard look at all my knitting projects and my yarn.  I took out every work in progress and asked myself if I really liked the yarn and wanted the finished product.  After ripping out three projects, I was left with a few that I felt could be finished rather easily and quickly.  A couple of dedicated knitting evenings meant that I had a handful of things that needed a bath.

Clockwise from the top right are: Fraxinus from Ysolda’s 2016 club, Mareel from Knitworthy3, an 1898 hat that I gave to the husband for Christmas, a cowl that I made from a blanket strip from Blanket Statement, and in the middle is a really old Andean Chullo hat that just needed its crown finished.

I’m really happy with all of these, except for the Llama hat.  After blocking, it turned out too big for anyone.  I started that hat years ago and let’s just say that my stranded knitting skills have greatly improved since then and I am not happy with how uneven it looks.

My happiest finished object of the bunch has to be the cowl I made from the unfinished blanket strip.  Oh, how I love blankets, but Oh, how I hate to knit them!  I thought maybe a club knit along atmosphere would help me with that, but alas, though the spirit was willing, other projects were just more interesting.  As I was holding it in my hand, wondering if I should rip it out, the thought of turning it into a cowl suddenly came to me.  It was just the right length.  Eureka! Fifteen minutes later, I was sewing in the ends and giving it to my older son who expressed an interest in it.  I just love it when things like that happen.

With my Mareel shawl, I was able to use the new blocking pads and wires that the husband gave me recently.  They worked like a charm!  Blocking shawls is not always my favorite thing to do, so anything that makes it faster, more accurate, and easier is great in my book.  I especially like the fabric that has 1 inch grids that came with the blocking mats.  With that underneath the shawl, it was easy to make the points symmetric–something that is always challenging to do with a shawl.

Oh, and I almost forgot!  I did manage to finish a secret sweater project for the husband for Christmas.

I designed the sweater as I went along, but couldn’t really talk about it here because it was, you know, a surprise.  The most challenging part of the sweater was sewing in the zipper along a steeked opening.  I used a sewing machine, which has a tendency to push stitches along as it sews, so even though I basted in the zipper, I had to redo it to make the colorwork pattern line up properly.

Also, I am worried that the steek will start to unravel as the garment is worn, even though I reinforced it with two lines of sewing–time will tell!

Overall, I am happy with it, though there are a couple of things I would do differently if I were to do it over again.  The collar does not quite come up far enough and it is also a bit tight when fully zipped.  He’ll just have to go for a casual, partially zipped look when he wears it!  The important part is that it fits, which is always a worry when one is knitting a surprise sweater.

What about you?  Have you been doing any organizing or clearing out?  I’ve got some more to do in my sewing room, but that will have to wait for another day.  I’ve got a little startitis to work through.

Changing Over

Well, here we are in December! It seems like we were just eating turkey and pie. Oh, wait. We just had leftover turkey for lunch today! Ok, this is one of those years when Thanksgiving and Christmas seem so close together that there is barely time to get over your tryptophan induced naps before hanging up the Christmas lights. We had a nice long weekend basically doing nothing but cooking, eating, and shopping. Now, we have to switch gears and get ready for the next big thing, which, actually has nothing to do with Christmas, but I will tell you about that later.

Anyway, I did do some knitting as well and have some finished things to show you. It turns out that my sweater mojo has left me for the present and I was able to get both shawls done. First, Oborine.

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Orange is not a color I normally gravitate towards, but this one really called to me. Maybe it was the name of the color, California Poppy. Maybe I was in need of a cheerful color to look at when I bought it. I don’t know, but I do love it.

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The beads were a pain to add this time. The hook I was using kept splitting the yarn and the bead holes were not always big enough to pull the fingering weight yarn through. Basically, I think I will stop using beads on fingering weight shawls and just use them for lace weight. Or, I may have to try a new method for adding beads to a project. I do love how the beads add a little weight to the edges of a shawl, though.

I also finished my Hediye.

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This one is knit in a dk weight yarn. It had some fun things in the pattern that kept it interesting. There was the curved edge that was knitted first with cables and short rows. I especially liked the center where you switch directions and make a mirrored cable. After that was done, the center of the shawl gets picked up and it’s super easy garter stitch until the end. It was a very satisfying project to knit, even if it turned out a tad on the small side for my taste.

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Still, it will make a cozy warm gift for someone, not sure who yet, though. Speaking of gifts, the boys and I are done with our cookie fund raiser for the year. We are excited by the fact that even thought it was a scaled back version of what we did last year, we still raised over $1000 for Samaritan’s Purse. Thank you to all who participated and we hope you enjoy the cookies!