Archive | August 2019

Yarn is my therapy

I haven’t decided for sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I have a perfectly lovely yarn store less than 10 minutes from work. Maybe it’s both. Today it was a good thing, as I needed a bit of yarn therapy. Spoiler: I found it.

img_5124Both are sock yarns, one by Mudpunch and the other from Goosey Fibers. I’m totally casting on the Mudpunch self-striping tonight!

Sock it to me Monday

Today’s theme comes to you from Mildly Granola, who started a Sock it to me Monday thing a while back. I like it, and it works because today’s knitting is…a sock! I’m back working on my Apothefaery socks, and I’ve made it a good way through the leg.

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However, the reason I’m back on my sock is because that dad-blasted gosh-dang sweater project I told you about yesterday is not going well. I swatched using size 4, 16″ bamboo circular needles. I assumed that would be close enough to what I would really be using, which are size 4, 40″ metal ChiaoGoo circulars. I knit the first 28-row patterned band and measured it, and the length was NOT half of what I would need for the bust measurement, let alone what I’d need for the bottom hem. (It’s A-line, knit from the bottom, so it should start with the widest point and narrow slightly.) I’m sure you can imagine the words that came out of my mouth at that point. There was no way to make that 28-row, 17″ long strip work as half my hem, so it got frogged and that project is in time-out until I figure out my next step.

What went wrong? Well, I was using metal instead of bamboo. I was knitting flat instead of in the round, but in the past my flat knitting has been looser than in the round, not tighter. So, I don’t even know. Now I can swatch again with the 4s to double check myself, and/or swatch with size 5 circular needles. Or I have a couple options for winging it: go up two sizes with the current needle, or go up one needle size and one pattern size. I’m kind of inclined to wing it a little bit, because the patterned band is really not that different than a swatch, and if it works, I’ll have a good start toward the sweater. What do you think: swatch or wing it??

Also, it’s International Dog Day! That’s a day I can celebrate!

Adventures in Swatching

With only three WIPs on my needles, I decided yesterday that it was time to cast on for something new. My WIPs are easy, mindless projects, so I wanted something a little more involved. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

In my queue, I found the June Lake sleeveless top pattern, and I had two new skeins of pretty yarn that would work well. Since the body of the sweater is knit in the round, I knew I should swatch in the round. But I didn’t want to swatch on my 16″ circular needles, so I thought DPNs would be fine. My first swatch had too many stitches per inch. My second swatch, with the next size up needles, had too many stitches per inch. My third swatch, up one more size, was too loosey-goosey for any kind of top I’d want to wear.

IMG_5083I liked the fabric of the first swatch the best. Dang it, that meant it was time for math to determine which size I should knit with my gauge. Gauge math is the WORST for me. It took some time, and a lot of notes, and a lot of calculations, but I figured out I needed to go up two sizes. Before I cast on, though, for some reason I decided I wanted to double-check my gauge on the recommended needles, and without much thought, decided I needed to check it on circular needles.

Yes, apparently I do have some self-preservation instincts after all. Because this gauge swatch was different than the one with DPNs, and this gauge swatch indicated that my gauge matched the designer’s and I could pick the correct size after all! So all my swatching and calculating and teeth-gnashing could have been prevented, and if I had done my swatch correctly the first time around, I would have saved a lot of time.

Alas.

Still, the good news was that I was free to cast on, and I did and I’m enjoying my new little WIP.

fullsizeoutput_22eeIt’s knit from the bottom up with an interesting band along the bottom, which is done in two pieces and then joined in the round for the body. I love this stitch pattern! And today is quiet and rainy and gray and I think I might spend the day with my knitting and my puppers. Happy Sunday, friends.

p.s. The pretty yarn is Pixie Sock from Supernatural Yarns in the Hogsmeade colorway!

FO: Changing Staircases Shawl

I have another finished shawl to share! I’ve been on such a finishing kick since I got home from vacation, and it feels good. This was one I started as a KAL with a friend at work almost four months ago, but it got put on a back burner for a while. This is the Changing Staircases shawl by Dragon Hoard Designs.

fullsizeoutput_22edIt’s a great pattern for beginner/intermediate lace knitters, and it’s easy to memorize the repeats…as long as you remember to cast off those stitches to make the staircase edge! I confess, I forgot once and did not go back. And I’ll never notice it!

IMG_8468The pattern is inspired by Harry Potter, which only makes me love it even more. It does say it’s a one-skein wonder, but I used all 438 yards of my skein and wish I’d had more. It came out about 5′ long across the top edge, and I’d like it longer. But the mannequin wears it nicely, so hopefully I can too.

IMG_8472Dragon Hoard also makes yarn — I got some on my vacation! — and you can see their cool stuff on their website here. And if you decide to make this shawl, think about having an extra skein handy!

Manos del Uruguay Alma

I have a new shawl to show you, but the point of it is the yarn. A couple of months ago, Fairmount Fibers offered me a skein of the new Manos del Uruguay yarn, Alma, to review. I’m pretty sure you all know how much I love Manos yarns, so you also know I was eager to take this one for a test drive and see if it lived up to my expectations!

img_4519Alma is a single ply fingering weight yarn in 100% merino. It’s labeled superwash but they still recommend you hand wash and dry flat. The colors are all named after inspirational attitudes, like Humility, Generosity, Passion, and Sincerity. I chose Resilience to remind myself that I am resilient! Well, that and I liked the colors in the photo. They also designed the colors to pair well together, with complementary solids and multi-colors. Patience would have gone wonderfully with Resilience!

I noticed right away that Alma has the same soft fluffy feel as all the other Manos yarns I’ve used. It’s lightweight and airy, feeling almost puffy like cotton candy. It’s kind of plush, if a light fingering can feel plush. Maybe that’s partly because it’s a single ply? Whatever the reason, I love it. It felt warm and comforting in my fingers, gliding smoothly but not too hot or heavy in my lap as I knit. I chose to knit the Imagine When shawl by Joji Locatelli.

fullsizeoutput_22d7I chose this pattern because of the best part about Alma: the yardage! It’s a generous 546 yards per 100 grams, which means you have plenty of yarn to make a good-sized single-skein shawl. I knit the pattern with no modifications and ended up with six grams left. Honestly, I love everything about this yarn. It did have one knot in it, but that’s within normal standards, and it washed and blocked beautifully.

 

fullsizeoutput_22dbI’m not completely convinced I chose the right pattern to show off the yarn; I’m wondering if something more stockinette-based would have been better. But this was a fun pattern to knit — I guess I really am learning to appreciate short rows — and I loved having the yardage in one skein for a nice big shawl. The yarn retails for around $30 per skein, which I typically pay anyway for my good yarns, so I’d buy this one in a heartbeat. Especially since I can feel good about buying Manos yarns, which are hand-dyed by artisans and help support families in Uruguay! It’s available in yarn stores now, and you can find the closest one to you here, or find it online now.

Thanks so much to Stitchcraft Marketing and Fairmount Fibers, the North American distributor of Manos del Urugay, who sent me one skein of Alma (retail value: $30) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Sun Glitter Shawl

Way back in June, I cast on a shawl for a knit-along that Under the Olive Tree Knits was hosting. It was a summer-long KAL and she’s offering the pattern free through the end of August, and there are prizes if you follow the rules found on her blog (among other places). I’d been wanting to knit this shawl anyway, and I had the prettiest skein of yarn for it, and I thought I’d have no problem finishing a one-skein shawl in two months. Well. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’ve had an eventful summer, and my knitting mojo hasn’t always been present, plus other things have taken precedence to this project. But I’m happy to report that after returning from vacation, I committed to this shawl and finished it yesterday!

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This was a fun, meditative knit. I love how she designed those lace triangle sections, and once I got the hang of the pattern, it was easy to take it with me anywhere. And the yarn is gorgeous! I love the hints of purple and yellow.

I do wish I’d checked my yardage more carefully before picking my yarn. The skein I chose was 100 grams but only 400 yards, and I ran out of yarn on the last right-side row of the lace pattern. Instead of doing several rows of garter before binding off, I just did two rows of garter and the bind-off in a complementary yarn, and I don’t even notice the slight color difference. Still, if I make it again, I’ll make sure to find a more generously sized skein.

img_8453Now I’ve got a case of finish-itis — I’m ready to pull out another shawl WIP before I cast on something new!

Pattern: Sun Glitter Shawl by Under the Olive Tree Knits

Yarn: Concorde by Less Traveled Yarn in color Lagoon

Colorado Yarn Stores

I really only meant to go to one yarn store during our Colorado vacation. Looking back, I’m not sure why I thought that was reasonable, or even feasible for me. But that was my plan, and since I’d gotten in trouble at the Loopy Ewe the past two years, I was going to avoid them. Instead, I chose LambShoppe in Denver. It was in a cute but busy part of town, and the boys weren’t interested in joining us, so they dropped me and the girl off at the curb. The store was small but had lots of fun yarns, both big names and small. The saleswoman immediately asked how she could help me, and I cheerfully said, “Just let me look at the yarn!” I try to focus on local dyers when I’m buying vacation yarn, and I found quite a few choices. Unfortunately, the saleswoman was one of those who thinks she needs to engage every shopper frequently, and that bugs the crap out of me. Still, I found some good stuff.

But then! As I was pondering my choices on the table there, that same woman walked by and said, “Oh, you need to get out of your box and try something new!” She’d already annoyed me enough that I replied, “How about I do what I want?” I mean, seriously. Let a knitter pick her own damn yarn, am I right? Anyway, beautiful yarns, if not all local. The woman’s one saving grace was that she found me a second skein of the Manos Locura Fluo (the crazy neon one in the middle). I’m collecting skeins for a sweater!

I thought I was good and happy but then we went to Colorado Springs, and we had some extra time, and darned if we didn’t end up at another yarn store. Ewe and Me was a little hard to find, and the font is hard to read on the sign outside, but I’m so glad I found it! It was a BIG store, with a huge table down the middle with comfy chairs for the boys to sit in. The women chatted with me at first but then let me browse at my own pace. And the yarn! So much local yarn, so much gorgeous yarn!

I saw small dyers I’d only followed on Instagram, like The Lemonade Shop and Artistic Yarns by Abi, plus ones I’d never heard of. I bought six skeins, I think, plus that fabulous mug. And another size 5 circular needle for shawls. And maybe an enamel pin.

That was plenty, right? It really was! I would have been happy to leave it at that. Except on Sunday the boy and I were on our own, and we went to Longmont to check out a guitar store. And there happened to be a yarn store a few doors down. Sigh. Three more skeins went in my bag. But one of them was Dragon Hoard Yarn, who I’d just started following on Instagram! She was doing a trunk show there so of course I had to grab a skein.

That’s how I ended up with this beautiful, extravagant assortment of yarns to feed my stash!

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Now, let’s see if I can restrain from buying more new yarn for a while!