Monday, December 15, 2014

Kingsley, Twice

Kingsley, by Andrea Mowry, was a welcomed break from cabling.  I keep saying that, don't I?  I've interrupted Aidez a million times with my incessant string of hats.  I guess it's because I am having to squeeze knitting into quick breaks spent waiting for my son to get out of soccer practice or in waiting rooms.  Besides, Aidez is massive, once you get toward the end.  It is just a mess in a lobby... believe me, I've tried. 

(more on ravelry:here and here, kollabora: here and hereinstagram, and flickr)

Whereas Kingsley fulfilled a few of my knitting requirements of the moment.  It was portable, entertaining, used stash, didn't take too too much focus, and could be finished in a day or two.  Perfect for ADD knitting.

I knit the first one in some tonal, chartreuse Dirty Water Dyeworks Clara, leftover from my Eastwood Cardigan.  The second was in Peace Fleece's Georgia Rose color way.  These two yarns were similar in weight, but incredibly different.  

The Clara was a smooth worsted, almost like working with sport, compared to the Aran Peace Fleece that was so rough and rustic.  Peace Fleece almost feels waxy when knitting.  However, it blooms and softens immensely with washing.   I loved the little orange flecks in it. 

I'm not sure which I prefer.  The Clara was easy to slide along the needles and has these great patches of greenish-brown mixed in, where the other was more uniform in color, but took effort.  However, the Peace Fleece really shows the textural pattern. 

Actually there were three Kingsleys, but I don't really want to linger on the subject of the first one I knit in Peace Fleece that grew like the dickens with washing.  Suffice it to say that I learned my lesson and not only followed the directions for the smaller cast on size, but even subtracted 12 stitches from that.  

Here you are seeing it pre-blocking.  I've had a stressful week, spending much time with my grandparents in the hospital as my grandmother recovers from an infection.  (She is recovering, by the way, and should be released tomorrow.)  So, these rushed photos are all I have for these fun projects.  But, hey!  I'm posting again!  

The details:  On the finer Clara worsted version, I used size 4 needles for the ribbing and 6s for the body.  I followed the directions for the slouchy version with a larger number of cast on stitches.  It fits me, but could easily have been made smaller.

For the Peace Fleece Aran version, I used only size 4s and cast on 12 stitches less than the smallest cast on size.  (See above about the yarn blooming with washing.)  I still knit the slouchier version.  I know it will soften and "slouch" more with washing, too.

Have you ever heard the story behind Peace Fleece?  It's pretty interesting.  I picked these skeins up on a trip to Belfast, Maine.  A farmer from Maine returned from a trade mission to the Soviet Union in 1985 with the desire to foster peace between nations in the best way he felt he could.  So, he blended American and Soviet fiber to form Peace Fleece.  It has a hearty, rustic feel.  I truly love that.  I've read that in recent years he began including fiber from Israeli and Palestinian farmers as well.

Andrea has also designed The Great Up North mittens, which I realllllly want to make.  They immediately caught my eye when she released the pattern on Raverly.   Only I don't have any stash that I think will do it justice, so I may wait 'til after Christmas and make a tiny yarn order for some.

...aaaand I'm a freak.  Happy knitting, friends.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fancy Knitting

I am back in the cabling groove, but I still need a project for all the times I multi-task knit.  Drift's Ridge , by Teresa Gregorio, is that project.  Since it's knit top-down, I only had to think about increases and color work for the yoke, then it's long stretches of stockinette.  Usually a fingering project feels like it drags on forever to me, but this is moving along quickly.

I know the beautiful Charlemont kettle dye yarn is spurring me forward.  I love working with it.  It's merino and silk, with subtle color changes, that is so nice to work with.  I usually just go cheap and safe with Wool of the Andes or another less expensive yarn for my sweaters, because I'm budget minded.  Not that Charlemont is super expensive.  It's a Valley Yarns line and can often be had on sale.  I think I payed $11 per hank for these.  To me, however, it feels like luxurious knitting.  I scan through madelinetosh and indie dyer yarns online, all the time, like the other knitters I know.  I imagine the things I could make with the beautiful tonal colors, but I rarely buy them.  Budget minded can = grouchy.

Actually, I don't mind going cheap that much.  Everyday, inexpensive yarn makes sense for sweater quantities, but there's also a freedom to knitting with whatever you can get.  I mean I have knit some things I get tons of compliments on in the cheapest of yarns.  Observe the Wool Ease Beatnik. That one was under $15.  Then there was the Wool of the Andes Road to Golden.  It was my first time to knit Fair Isle as well as my first time to use WotA.  After knitting that, I first noticed the "hearts" a project could collect on Ravelry from other knitters.  It's still one of my most loved projects, second only to Ravello, knit in... you guessed it... Knit Picks sale yarn.  Good grief, the Aidez I'm working on will look good even when I'm schlepping around in my pajamas and it's knit in 100% acrylic, people!

Aside from the practicality, I feel a connection to other crafters in my family when I use budget yarn.  My grandmother crocheted afghans and booties from whatever acrylic they carried at the TG&Y.  She said my grandfather's mother (her future mother-in-law) hand-sewed her sons' clothing so expertly, with inexpensive fabrics, that she'd assumed they were wealthy enough to have a tailor. Only after they began dating did she discover their secret.  My father remembers his mother making his and his brother's shirts out of old flour sacks.  I don't think yarn snobbery is a genetic possibility for me.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)

Even so, I will enjoy knitting with my silk blend, sipping an iced beverage and lounging about this Friday afternoon.  That means I've poured this morning's leftover coffee over ice and am knitting on the couch in yoga pants, with frizzy hair, to the sound of whatever's on netflix.

But the yarn... the yarn is very, very fancy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

More #peerpressureknitting

It's been a while since I talked about Aidez.  I've seen a few Ravelry friends start and finish theirs while mine languished in the knitting basket.  Seeing Kelley's, finally made me pull it out, dust it off (seriously), and reacquaint myself with all of the cable patterns.  I believe she calls this #peerpressureknitting. I engage in this activity constantly.

I'm using Allyson's directions for knitting the body in one piece up to the armholes, which I have reached.  Though it seems to take a bit on each row, I know I won't be seaming sides and that is a powerful motivator for me, as are all of the finished cables.  Aren't they beautiful?  I think I'm regretting using Brava for this.  It has taken so much work and maybe deserves real wool.  I only chose Brava because it was on sale (which is almost like having Knit Picks pay you to take it.) and other ravelers have knit this as a weekend project.  I didn't think my inability to concentrate would drag it out and make finishing it such a Herculean effort.  I guess I can always knit another in wool or a wool blend later, right?

My goal is to have it finished by Monday.  Yeah, right.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bright and Shiny

Is that not the best description for this rainbow hat, knit in this yarn?  The pom pom was the finishing touch.  I will never almost get hit by a car while running again.  Not with this rainbow pompom bouncing around down the road.

I made one of these Dee's Slouch hats last year for my daughter's friend, so I knew I liked the shape.  Since I couldn't use the Gynx yarn for my EZ sweater, I thought I'd at least use it quickly.  So, tada.....

I used a size 3 circular for magic loop and knit as directed, except I added some length before decreasing for the top.  The off-white yarn I used to fill in the pom pom is just Wool of the Andes in Cloud.  The Gynx Yarn is the Totoro 2 color way.

I made the pom pom using two pieces of a gift wrap roller, as in this tutorial.  It was a mess.

My head will never get cold this winter.  Watch the first real cold front blow in while I'm away and hatless.  I won't say that I'm done knitting hats, though, because I won the yarn for Woolly Mammoth in a Holla Knits giveaway.  So that will be happening very soon.

But first, I have to finish my Aidez, and would you believe I started another fingering weight sweater?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Petawawa Toque

What's the deal with all of the hats?  I have all of these winter sweater-y plans, with yarn ready in "yarn corner", but I keep side-tracking into hats.  Several were as gifts, and a few were to use up stash.  But I think I must've needed a break from knits I have to stare down at and these hats were the perfect thing.

I knit my first Petawawa for a friend, then immediately cast on one for myself.  It's been finished for some time, but I just didn't get around to photos until I'd finished a third one as a gift for my son's band secret pal.

This is the Petawawa Toque from Good Night Day and, like the others, I used needles sized 4 and 6, working in magic loop.  Magic Loop is definitely the easiest way to keep a project in your purse.  I'd pull it out and work in quick snatches of time.

Obviously, I like the pattern.  I especially like it in tonal yarn.  This Gynx merino worsted in the Spanish Roof colorway is so lovely.  I admired the color shifts all the way through the project.  My other post on this hat is here.

(more on my ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

Monday, November 24, 2014

One Step Closer to the Apocalypse

I have a new survival skill to add to my "In case of Apocalypse" repertoire.  I have memorized an easy, fast hat that can be made with only half a skein of bulky yarn and sticks.  It's Jane Richmond's Autumn and by using bulky, instead of super bulky, I made two hats in the time it takes to watch two movies.  That means I could easily keep two souls warm through a nuclear winter with one ball of lion brand and The Hunger Games on Netflix.

Also on my survival skills list are my abilities to switch from eating whole, raw foods to vienna sausages on a dime,
to live without sugar and caffeine,
to spend lots of time alone without going all "cast away"
and, recently, to outfit my whole family with just a few quick measurements and yarn.
I am so ready for impending chaos.

I used size 4 and 6 needles with Wool Ease Chunky.  The pattern calls for Thick and Quick, but I just made it work by knitting the seed stitch a little loose.  Have I told you how much I love seed stitch, especially chunky seed stitch?  Well I do, so they were very satisfying to make.

Though I didn't use it for these, I do have plenty of Thick and Quick I could try this pattern on.  You see, I'm all about using the yarn stash I have to create what I need.  At least I keep telling myself that.
In survivalist fashion, I was using the stashed Wool Ease from yesteryear, to suit my needs today.  Now, the burning question is- what end-times solution could I MacGyver from Fun Fur?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gifts Happen

So my only planned Christmas knit is finished.  However, I've sort of started two more since then with a possible third in the wings.   I realize this was going to be the year of easy, whatever Christmas vacation knitting, but these were all easy and spontaneous.  

Spontaneous.  That is the key to knitting a stress free gift at Christmas-time.  I like free license to do what I want.  So I spontaneously joined the Little Bobbins Knits Mitten-along and started these.  Dani has such a sweet, friendly presence on her podcast.  It always feels like knitting along with a friend.  Plus, her dog's head peeping into the video frame, listening to her as though she were talking to him is really cute.   
The mitts are also doubling as one of my projects for the Christmas Movie Knitalong on the Very Shannon ravelry group.  I have yet to watch one Christmas movie, though. 

I have watched quite a few episodes of Supernatural. (It must be influencing my knits, as seen above.)  Otherwise, it's just been China Beach.  Did I mention I finally... twenty years after stupidly throwing away all of my episodes on vhs tapes because I thought surely they'd be released soon on dvd.. finally own it on dvd?  Oh my gosh this deserves it's own post.  If you never watched it back in the late 80s/ early 90s you may say, "What's the big deal?"  But if you did, you'll get it.  Many, many people have been waiting a long time for these to be remastered and released.  So, I may consider it my Christmas movie marathon.  Early Christmas for me, huh?

I 'm glad I decided to try and squeeze another pair of Linden mittens out of my felici leftovers from my pair.  And, thankfully, it was just enough.  They even match!  That took a bit of spit splicing.  I told my daughter blood, sweet, tears, and spit went into these.  But I'm keeping them until Christmas, so I can wrap them.  The key to easy matching mitts for both pairs was buying two balls instead of one.  It's easy to find the same starting place on separate balls, not to mention working two-at-a-time.   

Guys, I've been so busy with some family matters (good things, but still busy things) I've finished four or five things I haven't even posted about.  I have all kinds of things I want to talk about: Jessica Fletcher, shawl knitting, indie dyers, 1980's aerobics- the usual, but I just haven't had the chance.  So, hopefully, this is the first post in a continuous stream of rambling and knitting photos.

My other post on this particular set of mittens is here

 (more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)