Friday, January 8, 2016

Knitting FO Review

Peeking back at my last knit summary entry, I did indeed frog that Rocky Coast Cardigan. I think it's going to grow up to become a Sprig pullover by Alana Dakos. I've never knit a pullover for myself, so I think it will be an interesting addition to my wardrobe. I cast it on December 9, and took a break knitting it so that I could whip out a 900 yard laceweight shawl in just over 2 weeks (more on that later), but am now back to it. It's worked top down, so I'm past the armholes now and am about halfway through the waist decreases. I should really stop to try it on to see if I like the fit, but I don't. Usually I have some hooded sweatshirt or something on now that it's so freezing cold - winter finally arrived after a pretty balmy start - and I'm just too cold and lazy to take off that layer and go see how this is looking. Plus, I tell myself that due to the asymmetrical neckline which will later have a leaf motif picked up and knitted up, the fit will be bizarre anyway. Funny, that it feels less lazy to knit an entire sweater and be surprised whether or not it fits than to just get up and check before putting in all that effort. Perception, I suppose.

Also, I'm apparently knitting my cat directly into this sweater. She wouldn't move, so I just put the neck opening around her and kept going.

(Update, I did get nervous enough to try the sweater on myself, and not just the cat. I think it fits just right!)

Speaking of that lace shawl. I've wanted some kind of wrap that I can wear to dressy events for some time. For those things where a cardigan just doesn't feel appropriate, I've taken to carrying an old black scarf that passes as a wrap. My knitted shawl just didn't feel dressy enough. I guess the weight, either sport or DK, just seemed too casual to wrap over a formal dress. So I got it in my head that a simple, light, lace wrap would be just perfect for the wedding I was standing up in. On New Year's Eve. I decided this officially on December 16. The woman at the yarn store sort of laughed at me when I mentioned my intention. I stubbornly thought, whatever, I can totally do this, work full(ish) time AND get ready for Christmas. Sure I can. I went home that day, found a pattern on Ravelry that suited what I was going for, and recklessly cast on. I did the math, and figured that if I knit 3.5" per day, I could do it. And I did. I knit during all available free time - in the car, in the "wellness" room, at a bar, in the movies, getting a pedicure. I blocked that baby at 1:30 am the morning of the wedding, and wore it for about an hour. I knew that would be the case, that I wouldn't be wearing it all night, and this whole effort was probably silly. It was still good though. While this won't be something I wear on the daily, it's nice to know I have it now, for the next event.

I also knit a 2 color triangular shawl. I think I like it, but I'm not sure. I bought the unlabeled yarn from a sale bin at stitches in 2013, and intended for it to go together in a shawl, but didn't actively notice that it's not the softest thing. It's not bad, but this was before I had a malabrigo shawl, which is positively delightful, so maybe it's not a fair comparison. I started knitting the dream stripes shawl, which has you work both colors in 2 row stripes. This means that both colors are carried up the same side, which, in my work, made one side much, much tighter than the other and the whole thing was really wonky. So I ripped it out. I started again, with one color being carried up each side, and the whole endeavor was much more successful. I would knit across with one color and purl back, then I would slide all the stitches on my circular needle back to the other end and purl across with the second color. From there I would turn the work and knit with the second color, and perform the stitch slide back to the beginning and knit with the first color and so on and so forth. I knit up until I had about 1/4 of the gray ball left, as I intended to do the lace edging in that color. I found the lace chart was either not correct, or my knitting was not correct, because I kept having an incorrect number of stitches when I would come to the last repeat. I decided that I was too sick of this project to figure out the problem, and that no one would ever notice anyway, especially since the first and last repeat are different than those in the center, and I just fudged it. In the end, it looks pretty nice and is a good addition to my collection of 3 shawls (the others are the Quaker Ridge by Susan B Anderson and the aforementioned laceweight wrap), though the edging could use a little more steam to control the curling.

I jumped on board the Wee Envelope by Ysolda Teague bandwagon, and tore through it in less than a week. I made the 6-12 mo size, but wish I'd gone up a size as it seems pretty narrow. I think I added a little length on the body, but I can't remember. I got the pretty pink yarn at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool this summer, and it was lovely to knit with. Like everyone, I did mess up the envelope neckline and had to knit the part where it attaches on each side twice, but it really is very clever when you figure it out. I did make the buttonholes, but never did end up adding the buttons. It stays closed nicely without them, and they are just one more thing to fiddle with.

I finished 2 more pairs of socks for myself, bringing my #operationsockdrawer total to 6. I've been loving it, and wearing a pair almost every day. I'm disappointed when I don't have any clean ones! One pair was plain vanilla in a self striping Opal, and the other was a sport weight in a solid color opal, knit in the Adjoin pattern from Sock Architecture.

As seen in that photo, I've also been working on my sock yarn blanket. I'm up to a 6x6 square now, and I like how it looks. Other than all the ends I have yet to weave in. That will be my next step before I move on to a new row, now that it's a nice clean square.

As for socks, now that I've been wearing them frequently, I think I'm knitting them a bit too large. I went down to 56 stitches on size 2 needles for my sport weight pair, and that's fitting pretty well. I also made them a bit shorter in the foot than was my instinct, and I'm liking that as well. My other socks mostly fit well right off the needles, but are a touch loose after a day of wear. I think I'll go down to 60 stitches from 64 on size 1 for my next fingering weight pair and see how that goes. I have a pair of kids tube socks on my size 1's right now, in specially requested "sparkly yarn." I'm just past where the heel would be if I was knitting one, so I'm going to start doing the 3x1 rib all the way around now instead of just on the top of the foot. I did a round toe on these and quite like it, though I wonder if it comes to too narrow of a point. I opted for round so that it wouldn't matter if it was put on slightly crooked, so that benefit may be worth it. I'd like to finish in another week or so. I feel so slow when I hear some podcasters say they've knit FORTY pair of socks in 2015. And this isn't an exclusive sock knitter, and she does have a full time job. I know she doesn't have kids, but still. That's a huge amount.

Finally, I think the only other thing I made is a little pair of thumbless mittens for a certain baby who doesn't like her hands covered! I held some leftover Knitpicks self striping sock yarn doubled and it worked out really well. We've only used them a couple of times, but I was definitely glad that I had them those few times. They only took 2 days, and it was time well spent in my opinion!

Just for fun, my finished knitting (and crochet) round up for 2015 is as follows:
6 hats
2 pairs of gloves/mittens
3 shawls
1 blanket
3 pairs of socks
3 sweaters
1 cowl

As a rough estimate, since I wasn't great about entering exact yardage for each project, this means that I went through 7,380 yards of yarn last year! That's just over 4 miles. Whoa!

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Oh the ambivalence. It's hard to describe how I'm feeling lately. I've definitely been in a weird mood. I suppose it's just been a really busy half year, and I haven't had the time or desire for introspection. I'm happier than I've been in a long time, which is why this mood feels so strange. It's also not that I'm not making things, because I've been making a TON! I've just had no desire to document - often I just cast off or snip the last threads and put said item immediately into rotation or give it away as a gift. There have been very few photos snapped, either on the phone or on the dusty big camera, and obviously none blogged. No particular reason other than I'm eager to move onto the next thing!

This blog. I suppose part of the reason I haven't been writing here is because I'm unsure of its purpose. While I don't think many people read, it feels weird to change gears without acknowledging the change, even if it's only a record for myself. I created this blog to keep track of things I've made, and I'd still like it to be that. I created it as a journal of sorts, and I think I'd like it to be more of that. I created it to bring attention to things I was selling on Etsy, and I don't think I want to do that anymore. I didn't sell any finished goods last year, and I've been feeling good about that. I just find that I'm in a season of life to let some things go and to move on to others, and the hobby business is one of those things. It was nice to have a little extra money, but I was getting bored making the same thing over and over, and keeping or giving so little of it to people I know. I tried a little of the linking up and self promotion to try to grow recognition or readership, but I felt weird doing it and I'm not going to anymore. It would be nice to be one of those people who makes money from their blogs, but I'm never going to be comfortable with that level of self promotion and sell your soul, so why exactly do I care about "linky parties?" (just the term, ugh)

I don't know. I just want to be me. I really don't care right now if anyone is reading, if anyone ever reads. I'm turning off all the post pushes to various social media. If people happen to find this post other ways, that's totally cool, but I'm writing this for me. I'm not linking for affiliate pennies, that wasn't really working for me. I'm going to link where I want to follow my train of thought, and that's it. A big part of me thinks I should abandon the whole thing in favor of a paper journal, or go straight up private because then I could add more photos to my stories....but I hesitate. I've been listening to and watching a ton of podcasts lately, and it feels very voyeuristic in some ways. I often feel like I "know" the people I'm listening to, and want to interact, but then feel weird that they don't know me at all. Never say never, but I don't want to be a podcaster. But I'm a bit envious of the relationship I see playing out between my digital friends, and it's like I'm not invited to the party because it's a one sided relationship. It's a very strange tension, now that I think of it. So anyway, I figure by keeping my making and some of my random trains of thought public (though not promoted), I can join in that conversation if I want to.

As for the title of this post, RENEW is my word of 2016. I don't do a lot of resolutions, but I've heard of the one little word or theme of the year thing for a couple of years from a couple of places. I think renew could serve me rather well. I've been keeping pace with a lot of things, and I'm at a place now where I am ready to step back, prioritize, and renew my focus on the things that are most important to me....and just let the rest go. So here's to that, happy 2016.

Monday, October 5, 2015

What I crafted on my summer vacation

A summer break from the blog wasn't something I'd planned to do, but I did and there you have it. Early summer had me feeling tired and uncomfortable and just not really in the mood to chat or share. Mid summer saw some incredibly high highs, and some very confusing and unexpected lows. The good news is that we've all survived and daresay are even thriving. We still have some fallout to deal with, but I'm hopeful that it will be resolved in short order and someday we can look back on that particular chapter as a funny NOT FUNNY moment in an otherwise good story. Finally, late summer and the beginning of fall have been full of adjustments, with a few more upcoming. I've been wanting to get a post up for a little while, just to catalog the projects I've finished recently. (And not so recently!)

The rest of these are in no particular order, and most will probably not have much detail, but I'm starting with the big one. Also, glamour shots of finished objects have really not been high on my priority list.

The quilt. The hand pieced twin sized quilt is FINISHED! I was so thrilled to finish it in time for an August birthday gift, and more thrilled that the birthday girl loved it. You can't really expect much of a reaction when giving anything to a three year old, and you should really lower those expectations that much more when you're giving something both handmade and utilitarian, so it was really nice to see her face light up for her "pink blanket." I'll not take offense that the favorite and most notable feature is the plain ol backing fabric! In honor of that, I've filed all of those quilt posts under "pink blanket," and that little exercise showed me that I first posted about that project on August 26, 2014, which is actually kind of cool as I gifted it on August 19, 2015. And that's why I do this. :)

All ready to make the quilt sandwich:

The surgery and patchworking required when discovering that no, in fact your backing fabric was NOT cut to the lengths you requested:

Pinning, and happily discovering that your table is the same width as the quilt. I still ended up with a ton of puckering despite my best efforts. Perhaps next time I'll try spray basting as well as pinning.

I embroidered a little message on one corner, which turned out ok. I just traced over my handwriting in disappearing ink. It's not perfect, but I think will be nice to remember in years to come.

Pretty much the best reaction one could hope for:

 Where the quilt lives now:

A collection of friends I found in the bed before I made it. I love how you can see some of the same fabrics in their clothes used in the blanket as well!

Back in May, I had three projects on the go, and they are all done now!

Finished toddler tube socks:

The ribbing makes them look so skinny just laid out, but they do actually fit feet. I think that they could stand to be maybe 4 stitches bigger around. If they actually see some wear, I'll do that next time.

 Here are the textured gray socks from Lara Neal's Sock Architecture: (affiliate link)

I was concerned that they were extremely tight the first time I put them on back when I finished them this summer. However I've washed and worn them since (yay fall weather!) and they were great. I think it was a combination of swollen ankles and humidity, so note to self, don't try on wool socks in the summer!

I also finished my Brooklyn Bridge cardigan. Everyone said I was crazy for knitting a black sweater, but it turned out ok in the end. One thing I didn't foresee was exactly how terribly my skeins matched. (This is softball merino wool (I think) purchased from Newton's Yarn Country at Stitches in 2014) I tried alternating skeins, but honestly that just left me with stripes. I can see how that technique works when there is variation in the yarn, but it just wasn't a go with a solid color. So I just kept knitting and planned to dye the entire cardigan black in the end.

I stupidly didn't get a clear full shot of the sweater (I tried, they were blurry and I didn't notice until I downloaded and I'm too lazy to set it up again). I won't say my efforts were 100% successful. I can still see the lines, but you can sort of see that the sleeve matches the rest of the sweater a little better in the shot above. I still have half a bottle of the Rit dye I used, so maybe I'll try it again someday. We actually had some photos taken yesterday and I wore this sweater because it was way colder out than I'd originally planned, so maybe there will be a better full shot in those that I will try to put up. Looks notwithstanding, this sweater was WARM! It's just fingering weight, but it's a wool angora blend, and I was so comfortable. The only alteration I made to the pattern was to omit the hood. I wish I'd decreased the tops of the side panels a bit more gradually to meet up with the back, but overall I'm pretty happy with my adjustment!

While on a fingering weight yarn phase, I knit up Baby and Kiddy Vertebrae sweaters. The idea is that by basically just knitting sleeves and a back, kids who tend to overheat may be more comfortable, and it may be the right amount of warmth for a baby when you wear them in the carrier as their fronts are facing your skin and already pretty warm. I will say that I think these are cute on the kids, but I'm not sure how I feel about making more non-closing cardigans in the future. (This is foreshadowing) The yarns I used are Araucania Huasco / Botany Lace for the blue and Manos del Uruguay Alegría for the pink. The Manos was a pleasure to knit and SO soft to wear. The Araucania....well it bled all over my hands as I knit, and despite washing many times AND trying the citric acid soak that the Knitmore Girls have had good luck using, the water still runs blue. Sigh.

I had a request for a kitty Halloween costume, so I worked up a pretty little hat in an effort to use up some of my Knitpicks Chroma. I also crocheted an owl hat a few years ago that is much loved and way too small now, so I knitted Hootie Hat the second. I enjoyed the top down earflap pattern from Jane Richmond, though I wish I'd used a looser castoff on the brim. I also wish I'd placed the eyes while the hat was worn - knitting stretches a lot more than crochet, so the final product is a bit more wide-eyed than planned while on the head!

Continuing my Chroma stash busting, I decided to whip up a kindergartener cowl. I just don't love the idea of scarves for kids, which is why I wrote my Howard Hoodie pattern with the attached neckwarmer last year. I just feel like it's a recipe for the loose ends getting pulled and choking the wearer! The Howard will still be in our rotation for sure, but I thought I'd give a cowl a shot. It's nothing fancy, just a simple stockinette tube.

I couldn't decide whether to use the blue green ball (which matches the hootie hat) or the pink purple ball (definitely the more favorite colors) so I used both! I just striped them and switched colors sort of randomly. I carried the yarns up, but almost wish I'd cut them and woven in ends as you can see the carried yarns due to the rolling stockinette if the "seam" isn't in the back. As for length....I just kept going! I know it will roll, so I wanted it to be long enough to cover the neck when all scrunched up.

 If you're still with me (I know this is long!), I've got one last project to share. I've been wanting to make the Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig for several years, and late this summer I just got a yen to cast it on and knit knit knit. Seriously, I knit it in less than a month.

The yarn (discontinued Mirasol Qina) was really nice to work with, and will be really warm in an 80/20 alpaca bamboo blend. But it won't be in this sweater. Yep, this baby is getting frogged. (Unraveled, for those non-knitters.) You see, while I like a long cardigan, the loose gauge of this knit just stretched way too far for my liking. And this other point isn't really the fault of the pattern, but more a combination of my not reading or realizing that it's not just an open front cardigan....but that there actually isn't enough fabric for it to ever close. I don't tend to button my cardigans, but I DO like to be able to at least pull the front panels together. This doesn't come close across the bust, and comes way less close across the bum, and I will never wear it. So it hasn't happened yet, but this will be pulled apart and grow up to be something else. I don't consider it time wasted though. It was a learning experience, both for what I like in a sweater, and with all those cables, I learned to cable without a cable needle so that's good. And it passed the time, which is a lot of what I was asking from it. You win some, you lose some!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How tired am I?

I firmly believe that a continuous lack of decent amount of consecutive hours of sleep is a very effective form of torture, and a device for seeing exactly how stupid and clumsy you can be.

I keep my compostable food scraps in a gladware container in the fridge, because this limits how full we can stuff the bin before taking it outside, and it keeps the scraps from smelling or collecting fruit flies. However. We also keep food leftovers in gladware containers in the fridge.

As I was making my lunch today, I realized that I'd dumped the coffee grounds that were intended for compost into the container holding the last dozen or so mini pumpkin muffins instead. This was annoying, but there were still a few that were untouched by the grounds and seemed salvageable. I scooped them out and put them into a fresh container. And then I knocked that container on the floor.

That was very annoying.

I'm so tired.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All is not lost

The metal forked piece in the top image that was slowly scraping away parts of my sewing machine has been replaced by the actual plastic forked piece that is made to work with my model of machine (what a concept!). I am happy to report that the machine still sews with this custom made foot, and I may actually end up finishing this quilt before the end of summer. Hooray!