Archive | May 2018

New Sweater

As I mentioned the other day, I decided the heat of summer was a great time to start a new wool/alpaca sweater. I chose Tea with Jam and Bread and I was so excited about it that I cast on a swatch as soon as I decided on colors. Then I swatched again because my gauge was off. Then I swatched one more time because it was still off.

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That is my biggest complaint about knitting sweaters:  you either have to swatch, or do math. I don’t really care for either, but of the two, I’d rather swatch. I finally got gauge with the third swatch, after going down two needle sizes, and it was totally worth it because I got both stitch gauge AND row gauge! Go me! Then it was off to the races! I knit on this sweater all afternoon yesterday, stopping only around 9:30 last night when it was time to switch to the next color.

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Maybe it looks a little small there, but it’s all bunched up on a 24″ circ. I’ll switch to the 40″ once I get going on the next color, navy. And do you like my stitch marker there? I chose that one in honor of the French Open, which just started. (Go Rafa!) I can’t wait to get home tonight and see how the navy looks with the purple! I can tell already this is going to be a tricky one to photograph well. The bottom color is more true, but even that’s a little too dark. It’ll be a good exercise, I guess!

FO: Mab Shawl

My Mab shawl is done! It might be my favorite thing I’ve ever knitted, thanks to the perfect combination of yarn and pattern. I have no idea what the name means, but you can find the pattern on Ravelry here.

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I absolutely loved knitting this pattern. The lace wasn’t difficult, but I did have to keep track of what I was doing. I think I’d been craving some intricate lace knitting, and this definitely fit the bill.

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For this one, I even tinked back when I made mistakes, rather than just fudging things like I usually do. I really wanted the lace to line up from top to bottom. I knit the pattern exactly as written, no modifications, and I made sure to bind off loosely so I could get the gorgeous points along the lower edge.

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As I was knitting, I worried it would be a little too small, but thankfully it blocked out beautifully into a very generous shawl.

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I tried very hard to photograph the sparkle in the yarn, but it was a challenge. I’m afraid my photography skills are still lacking in some departments. The yarn is Canon Hand Dyes Oscar Sparkle Fingering in the color Isobel Crawley and it was marvelous. Soft in the hand, not splitty, clearly has wonderful stitch definition. I’m sure I’ll be looking for more of her yarns in the future! And in the meantime, I’ll be eagerly waiting for a chance to wear my new shawl!

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Summer Knitting?

I did indeed finish my Mab shawl as I said I would, so it is currently pinned out and drying. (And it is stunning, if I do say so myself. I’m hoping to do a photo shoot tomorrow.) So what am I doing with my pruned down stash and fewer projects on the needles?

I’m planning a sweater, of course.

It’s over 90 degrees outside. Our downstairs A/C isn’t working so it’s 86 degrees in my living room. (Thankfully we have two units and it is blessedly cool upstairs in the bedrooms and my craft room.) You get the idea: it’s hot. So why in the world would I be working on a sweater, a wool/alpaca sweater even?? Because while I was going through my stash to pull out unwanted yarn, I found four skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca, all the same color and the same dye lot. What are the odds, right? Especially since I know I bought it back when I thought I’d never knit sweaters. It was probably on sale, and since it was purple, I probably just bought what they had left.

Sadly, four skeins isn’t quite enough on its own to make a sweater that will fit me. So I dug through the stash a little more and found two more colors, two skeins of each, and the three colors together easily get me enough yardage for a pullover. I’ve got four skeins of the top color (Berroco Ultra Alpaca in this unusual light purple), two skeins of the middle (Plymouth Baby Alpaca Worsted in Navy), and two skeins of the bottom (Berroco Ultra Alpaca Tonal in … magenta?).

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I’m planning to make Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirrmaier (I even have my gauge swatch already laid out and drying too!) but I’ll alter the stripe pattern a bit. I don’t think I’d like the navy as the bottom stripe (can’t tell you why, just my brain saying no don’t do that) so I’m going to do the top stripe navy, and then the bottom stripe and the bottom sleeve sections in the magenta.

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(LOOK! It even has POCKETS!)

And if I get to that bottom stripe and don’t like the color variation of the magenta with the lighter purple, well…I’ll figure something else out. But until then, I’ll be working on my wool sweater in June in the midwest!

Whoa! Destash!

I got a whim today, a whim to go through my yarn and get rid of what doesn’t bring me joy. I’ve been pondering it for a while, but kept telling myself it wasn’t hurting anything to keep it all, and I had the space, so why not keep it just in case I ever needed it?

Well, I didn’t really have a good answer but I decided I needed to go through it all anyway. This is close to where I started. (This is an older photo. I’d added more yarn between this photo and today. So imagine this plus some.)

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I pulled out a LOT of acrylic, mostly stuff I’d bought back when I was making things to sell. Also, I tend to prefer natural fibers to acrylic now, so I only kept my very favorite acrylic blends. I pulled out a lot of cotton and blends. Even now in the heat, I don’t find myself wanting to work with the mercerized cotton. I don’t tend to wear the things I have made with it. I only kept kitchen cotton in the colors that are actually in my kitchen, and the cotton blends that are soft and drapey.

Then I moved into the good yarn, the wool and blends. If it was itchy, I pulled it out. A few yarns I pulled are gorgeous; I still loved the look of it. But I’d used some of it and didn’t like knitting with it or wearing it, so there was no point keeping it. If it was a color I would never use, or a weight I’d never use (like one skein of sport weight?), I pulled it. I was ruthless but it wasn’t painful at all. This was what I had in the end:

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That’s a LOT of yarn. I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous when you see it all spread out like that! I’ll bag it up and see if I can sell it locally for a bit of money, and in the meantime, I’ll enjoy my newly organized stash. It’s gorgeous!

 

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Even looking at the shelves makes me happy! This is all yarn that I love, that I can see myself using. I even found a skein of Madtosh that I forgot I had! And that right there is a good reason to get rid of stuff I was keeping just for the heck of it: I can see what I have more easily, I can see the yarn I chose with intent, and I know that I could pick anything from my stash and be happy to knit with it.

p.s. yes I know it’s still a crazy big stash! I’m okay with that!

Oops, I did it again

I started a sock. Yes, the spell of the shawl is broken. I didn’t knit at all yesterday; I had lunch with a friend, then went home early with a muscle spasm in my back. The meds I took for that weren’t conducive to knitting, let alone lace knitting. This morning when I was getting my things together for work, I immediately grabbed this new yarn and project bag. Partly it was because I figured I’d have lunch with my knitting friend at work and needed something easy, and partly because I wanted something new and fun to work on. Specifically, I wanted my Flowers in the Mist kit from Knitting in the Heartland!

The yarn is Show Me Yarn’s Bootheel base, and it was dyed to match this gorgeous project bag (which also has two coordinating stitch markers!).

You could only get it at KITH this year, I believe, and I’m pretty sure I was the first one to snatch one at the special night of shopping after Franklin Habit’s keynote address. (I can move fast if yarn is involved.) I actually did cast on right after KITH but set it aside after just a few rows because I got distracted by other yarns. But now I want these pretty flower socks!

I just made it past the 1.5″ of ribbed cuff so it’ll be lovely mindless stockinette for a while, and I can see how the colors behave. I might not wear them for a while, but it will be nice to have them waiting for fall!

Mab Shawl

No socks this week, guys. It’s so weird, after I finished my happy scrappy socks, I didn’t want to cast on a new pair. Instead, I wanted LACE. Lots of lace. The Supernatural Kindness shawl gave me a little taste, reminding me of how much I love it, so I wanted to do something that was almost completely lace. I searched through my Ravelry queue and found the Mab shawl, and I’d even planned out which yarn to use. (I love when past Bonny does that.) It was perfect!

I started it last Thursday and that’s been my knitting ever since. I even brought it to work, thinking surely I could manage to knit lace during our lunchtime knitting group. (I couldn’t. Ended up having to tink back a row.) And you fellow lace knitters might relate: last night I was stressed out after a crazy drive home, plus our AC is on the fritz so we’re all a little grumpy, so I was trying to chill out with my pretty lace knitting both before and after dinner. As happened with knitting group, having other people around making conversation hindered my lace knitting abilities. The third time I cursed and started tinking, the husband looked over and said, “You don’t seem to be enjoying that very much.” Maybe you’ve also heard that once or twice before? How do you explain how much you can love something that occasionally makes you curse? Wait…that could also describe the husband…and the children…and the dogs…

Anyway, thanks to my knitting monogamy, the shawl is almost done! I have 17 rows and a bind-off left, and that’ll be easy to get done by the end of the week. My goal is have it blocking by Sunday morning.

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And boy will it need blocking! It doesn’t look like much now, but the lace is going to open up so beautifully once it’s washed and pinned out. I’ll have to get a close up of the yarn too, because it has the most beautiful thread of purple stellina in it. The yarn is Canon Hand Dyes Oscar Sparkle Fingering, in a color called Isobel Crawley (from Downton Abbey, I think). It’s from an indie dyer in Portland and was a gift from a lovely friend, so it makes me even happier to knit it up into this lovely shawl.

Happy almost-Friday, friends!

Happy Socks

This might be the fastest pair of socks I’ve ever made: a week from start to finish! These were the project I worked on 90% of the time last week, and there were concerts and other things where I could sit and knit while listening. Plus they were totally mindless knitting, which is perfect for me right now.

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I did my usual 64 stitches, a 1″ ribbed cuff, then 3 plain rows before going into a simple slipped-stitch heel. I was using up two scrap balls of sock yarn and the only tricky part was trying to use the variegated (Hedgehog Fibres in Medusa) evenly between the two socks.

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I failed, because I wasn’t clever enough to weigh the ball before I started. Next time I’ll definitely do that. These aren’t evenly balanced; there’s a bigger green (Madtosh in Sea Glass) toe on one than the other. But that doesn’t bother me too much. I think I’ll still love wearing these. I especially like having the bright colored accents, which makes me think I need more solid colors in sock yarn.

Today will be spent on a brand-new lace shawl project and then I’ll pull out a sock WIP that’s been languishing (poor sock monkey socks) for this week’s travel knitting. Happy Sunday, friends!