Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Vinyl

This is what I've been listening to lately.   I have a special place in my heart for Wilco and Jeff Tweedy side projects.  I'm convinced Kamera and I'm the Man Who Loves You were written for my enjoyment, and mine alone.  It's fine if the rest of you like it too, though.  This record is especially sweet, as his son is accompanying him on drums and the whole album is pretty introspective.  It's a lot of slow, thoughtful songs strung together, but I really like it.  Then there's a few, like Diamond Light, where the percussion makes the song.  So, I've been listening to it in chunks as I drive around endlessly for family and getting all wistful.

Are you ready for endless links to music that sounds very little like this album?  Scroll on.

Here's where you realize I actually have no taste at all and click away.  Anyway, we have a local new and used record shop (that only took a few decades) and I am obsessed with buying Upstairs at Eric's there and reliving my junior high/ high school memories, which weren't very exciting, but were fueled by fun music.   It's not a bad album, just not very much like the one I touted, above.   In fact I find the Yaz station getting a lot of play on my Pandora.  There's not a lot of rhyme or reason behind what I do and don't like, I just have to identify it with a certain time in my life.

Lately, when driving, I'm listening to Tweedy or Erasure's Abba-esque.  My husband and I bought that Erasure album together when we were dating and listened to it all the time, along with Chorus.  Chorus was, to me, Erasure's best record.  There were no real stinkers on the whole thing and it had a whole broadway musical feel sandwiched between all of the bleeps and blips.  (Stop was my favorite when I was in high school.)  My kids still remember me listening to Chorus when they were little, though it was a bit dated then.

What Pandora stations or playlists do you find yourself listening to the most?  It's not often what I love most, just what I think I need most.  For instance, The Yaz, Erasure, or OMD (remember Electricity?) stations aren't the greatest music I've ever heard, but they make running so much more fun.  Then, when I'm all moody and walking alone, I can tune into the Radiohead station.  When I take my moodiness into the kitchen, its the Aimee Mann station.  Later, if I'm boxing in the garage, it's the Fatboy Slim station, always Fatboy Slim.

Seriously, I want to know what you guys listen to playlist- wise.

Monday, October 13, 2014


I've been meaning to make a Totoro themed knit from some Gynx Totoro yarn for a long time now.  So long that my mind has been saturated, along with the rest of the world's in the last few years,  with totoro images.  I'm kind of sick of the idea.  But My Neighbor Totoro was one of the first anime movies I saw as a teenager.  It's sweet and nostalgic.  I've shared it with my children and so it's part of our little family lore.  Also my cat looks like a totoro when she sits.

So, I decided to merge a couple of ideas I'd been meaning to try.  Yes, the Miyazaki theme, but also the Elizabeth Zimmerman Seamless Yoke Sweater from Knitting Without Tears.  I was inspired by Kristen's (from the House of Knitting Podcast) EZ sweater in last year's SSKAL.  I've been wanting to try a percentage sweater ever since.

Remember how I was reading Knitting Without Tears in a Read-a-Long?  Well, I stopped until I could at least try one of the techniques I was learning.  It's time to try it.

I used a slightly oversized Old Navy something-or-other to choose the bust size I wanted on this.  Then I swatched, and started plugging the numbers into the percentages.  I chose 37" which is 164 sts, knit on size 3's.  All of that stockinette was perfect for working while visiting with my grandparents.  It was a straight shot to the armpits, then I cast on for the sleeve cuffs and knit both at once.   I'm almost finished with the sleeves.  Then, the real test will begin.

There is no shortage of totoro anything out there these days, even knitting charts.  I used this sweater, by nigelewan, (I was surprised to find a totoro version of an EZ sweater) and charts from these mitts, by Brella, as inspiration.

I've never charted anything before, so that was a nice little exercise in frustration.  I haven't used graph paper since high school.  But, really, figuring out how to knit totoros with the proper amount of lumpiness, long enough ears, and still have room for an umbrella is a better problem than many I've faced.  So it was kind of fun.

I'm not too sure about how clearly the fair isle will pop against this brown.  It's a lot of brown, is it not?  But I'll deal with that when I get there.  I can always just sub another solid color in if I have to, though this pretty multi colored skein is the one I had my heart set on using.  This will be my second Classic "Must Knit" of the summer.  Aidez is still on the needles, but guys! that things takes some serious concentration.

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dead Leaves and Summer Tees

Allyson of The Sweatshop of Love is hosting an all-inclusive knitalong of her patterns.  That's stuff from magazines, her website, Holla Knits, other collections, etc.  I know I said I got in over my head with knitalongs this summer, but I couldn't resist this.  Besides, I've had yarn for Liaison for months and just needed a nudge to get it knitted.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

It is hard to focus on a summer knit, in Cotlin, when we're so close to our tiny, little window of cold here, but I just remind myself that Liaison is a top I can wear year-round and won't force me to purge a sweater box.

What I'd like to be knitting right now is her Bristlecone pattern, but I'm truly, truly trying to work through my stash.  I have multiple carrots set before me if I accomplish that goal.  Things like:  I'll let myself dye some yarn, I'll finally design something or other, or I'll let my birthday gift be an Oshima sweater's worth of lovely hand dyed yarn.  (Have you seen Tanis' version of this?)  I might even start the lowest of low tech knitting podcasts- a sketchy, note to self, kind of response to all of the podcasts I consume as I knit on fiddly patterns like Aidez and color work, even if no one ever heard my response.  Don't worry, I have zero illusions about this. It would be for my own enjoyment.  Plus, my husband seems to think it would be hilarious and keeps mentioning it.

So, Liaison.  I am doing a swatch for this one.  It's called the bottom third of the sweater.  Hey, that's just part of the laid back vibe I'm approaching things with since my foray into lots of lace weight.

This thing is going to knit up fast.  I got through the ribbing and one pattern repeat, working sporadically yesterday.  It's a good choice for reading and tv because there's only the lace section to worry about each round.

Why don't you join us?  This knit along doesn't end until November 30th, which is plenty of time to knit most any of her patterns, especially a summer tee like mine.  Come see fionaeharvey's take on Bristlecone.  It's killing me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Nice, Low Intensity Knitting

I think I deserved a little low intensity project after the last one.  This knit up in two days.  It's the Petawawa Toque from Tara Lynn-Morrison of Good Night Day.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Tonal in Thunderhead.  I wasn't sure if the tonal would look too busy for all-over cables, but I think the cables kept it from striping.  I really like the effect.

Tara says this is a really pleasurable knit: lots of stockinette, with cables thrown in for interest, and she's right.  I thought that I really should be finishing one of my Classic "Must Knit" KAL sweaters, but I couldn't put this down.  When I did finish this one, which is for a friend, I found myself casting on another in Gynx yarn for myself.

I think I'm becoming one of those knitters with a million WIPs stowed all over the house.  No!  I can't go there.  I don't have enough space for that.  My second Petawawa has to be my last interruption to finishing those sweaters.  Famous last words.

I used size US 4 and 6 needles for this one.  My only mod was to cast on 6 fewer stitches than recommended.  I always do this with ribbing because my ribbing is usually loose.  I, then, increased after every 4 stitches on the increase row, to get back to the correct number of stitches for the cabling.  Other than that, I did everything by the book.

Want to see a neat trick?  Sad hat:

happy hat:

This is my second pattern to try from Good Night Day Vol 2.  I made two Belleville shawls last year.  I have yarn for the Kingston sweater, also, though I'm not sure if it's the right pairing for that design.

I find that every time I turn to one of Tara's patterns it is a bit restorative.  If I'm feeling stressed out, these fairly quick knits seem to soothe me, especially if they're in bulky wool.  The print copy, with notes in the margins, seems to add to the relaxing vibe.

I have made three of the patterns from Vol 1 : an Elora (which is the best for cold evening walks), a couple of Markham Loop Collars, and a couple of Pembroke Tanks.  I will probably make the rest of the patterns in that one, eventually.  However, since I received VOl. 3 in the mail, I've been itching to cast on an Omemee cable toque in Voolenvine yarns.

If you're interested in sampling some of the Good Night Day patterns, Tara has her Kawartha cropped sweater pattern as a free download on Ravelry, along with some others.

Links, links, and more links, right?  Ah, I've missed writing here.  I think my little blog hiatus is over.  I've been going through some health things that leave me super fatigued.  I think I'm finally on the upswing, though, so I should be posting more.  I have tons of posts started in drafts, but have lacked the time and energy to follow through.   

Is this not the loveliest smile?  I don't care how tall she gets, and she is tall, her face will always be that of her four year old self to me.

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Foreverweight .. I mean, Featherweight Cardigan

It took thousands of stitches in lace weight yarn, but it was worth it.  Listen to me, I'm being so dramatic.  A quick look at my Ravelry page shows me it only took about two months of working, off and on.   I'm spoiled to rapid tv knitting that gives me a sweater in two weeks.  Since this one took so long to make, you'll have to stomach many, many sweater photos.

So, Featherweight, by Hannah Fettig,  is my second sweater for the Summer Sweater Knitalong 2014 and my first entry for The Classic "Must Knit" Knitalong.  I'm a full fledged member of the Featherweight Club now.  6743 of these have been made and logged into Ravelry.  No telling how many more are floating around out there.  It is easily one of the most knitted patterns I've ever queued up.   But I've always hesitated to knit it because I wanted to lengthen the body and sleeves and knew that would take some time to work up.

I've already posted about my color inspiration, a painting inspired by the colors on the side of VHS tapes of the 80's and 90s.  I had such a big stack of those - collections of random 120 Minutes and Comic Strip episodes, along with every episode of China Beach.  Ah, nostalgia.

So I found just the colors I needed in Jaggerspun Zephyr (curry and jade) and Madtosh Lace (shire).   I balled each skein up, making my arm muscles totally ripped, and toted around 3000 yards of lace weight yarn for two months.

I used a size US 2.5 circular needle for a gauge of 6 sts/ 8 rows per inch, working the sleeves with magic loop.  I made the size 35.25" but expected it to block out to 36.5" or so.  I worked 20 rows per color until the bottom, where I worked 20 rows of the blue, then 20 more rows of blue ribbing on both body and sleeves.

(Like my necklace?  It's from Stephanie of Native Clutter.)

I did the recommended sleeve decreases, then worked the sleeves straight to be full length.  I had originally added more decreases but didn't like the look of them and reknit them.  They appear more fitted in the upper arm than they actually are.  The lace yarn has a clingy look but feels wonderfully stretchy and comfortable.  I love the length on these sleeves, too.  I blocked my sleeves and body out for width, not length, so I intentionally knit these longer than wrist length.

Oh, man!  I cannot tell you how good it felt to stick this in the tub and then block it.  It was a major sense of accomplishment.  Plus, I can go back to worsted weight stuff, which is the new bulky for me.

(on my instagram)

My only mods were to do stripes and lengthen the cardigan.  The pattern is pretty much perfect.  I know I moaned quite a bit about lace weight sleeves on magic loop, but I'm so glad I did.  Had this been knit in fingering weight, it would have gone faster, not only because the yarn is thicker, but also because it's easier to knit and read with heavier yarn.  Even so, I did get to a point where I could read The Well of Ascension and watch The Returned while working on this.

Okay, so I've made two Hannah Fettig designs.  I'm a real knitter now!!  I think she's undeniably the master of loose and flowy cardigans.  But there are other designs I love just as well, like Aproned TankFlugel, Bayside, Willard Fair Isle Pullover, and Lightweight Pullover.  So much goodness.

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

So, yeah, I love it.  The lace is lightweight and stretchy like the perfect leggings.  The length will work great with any skinny legged thing I put on, and the colors are so, so great.  I only pray I don't immediately snag it on a drawer pull or a cat or something.

Other posts on my Featherweight Cardigan: color combo, sleeve separation, more progress, and procrastinating.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Procrastinator's Greatest Hits

Remember Theo Huxtable's sleeve?  The long one on the shirt Denise sewed for him that didn't in any way match the other sleeve?  Well, my Featherweight has Theo sleeves.  They just seem to go on and on and on.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)

I've actually finished them and even though the gauge is consistent with what works perfectly for the top of the sweater, these sleeves seem to shrivel up and cling to themselves.  I blocked one sleeve out to a nice normal gauge that matches the body, then I slid my arms into it and it grabbed me like a vice, stretching out in a static cling implosion.

I continue on with the 3.5" inches of stockinette for the collar/ front bands.  I'm trying not to think about how I know I'll have to undo each sleeve halfway and eliminate the extra decreases I added because I was extending them to full length.  I try to focus and finish, but I find my mind wandering.  Want to wander to nowhere meaningful with me?

So many fascinating things have happened while these sleeves continue to grow (not really).  I can at least read while knitting this, so I finished reading Red Mars.  I wanted a break before the next book in the series, so I did something dumb. I bought a certain "sci-fi" book many knitters are raving about set in the  Highlands.  I hated it.  Really hated it.  I had never bought a trashy romance novel in my whole life.  Now my record is spoiled.  I kept waiting for whatever people were claiming was awesome to happen.  It never did.  Please don't be upset with me, fellow knitters, all of the color ways based on the book series are incredibly beautiful.  In fact, that's probably why I got it.

I did laugh out loud while reading it several times.  That's something that almost never happens, but it wasn't supposed to be funny.  I couldn't stop picturing Mick Hucknall as the lead, which completely negates the mood the author was trying for.  It was all the "fiery red hair" comments, I guess. Have you seen Mick Hucknall lately?

So I moved onto the Mistborn series.  The first book, The Final Empire, was pretty good.  I haven't read this type of book in a long time.  I can't tell if this is meant for young adults or regular adults or what.  It pretty much jumps right into action and there aren't long, dry descriptions of landscape or weighty monologues.  But, it's not childish, unless you call a book without mature content and a few characters that aren't twisted childish.  I don't, so maybe I've lost my modern, literary compass.  So what if it uses the word "chuckled" too much?  Am I so jaded by the Game of Thrones type story that I can no longer recognize a novel as good fantasy if it doesn't leave me feeling a little sick?

Anyway, I liked the world the story takes place in and the abilities of the main characters.  It felt like reading a real story about something.  Can you tell this project is dragging out?

There's also a new Doctor, right?  I've watched every episode with him while still knitting on this sweater.   I like Clara so much more than Amy.  Boy, I sound catty with this post.  It must be that I'm grouchy over my never-ending cardigan.  I started The Returned on Netflix, too.  Honestly, it's a downer and it's only a few episodes long, so I'm sure I'll finish it before finishing the sweater.

Hmmmm, what else can I escape into every two or three rows, besides Pinterest and camper renovation websites?  There's all of the youtube videos my kids and I send to each other.  I find myself clicking on them here and there, as sort of a time waster's greatest hits: old man barking, not to be racist or anything, people falling at Disney, I like Turtles, and scarecrow dougie, to name a few.  (My daughter sent me that last one when I happened to be at the hospital, listening to someone tell me some very serious information about her husband.  As soon as she walked away, I looked down and saw this on my phone and could not stop laughing.  People around me thought I was a horrible person.  To be fair, I was there for my own relative and was under great stress, but still.)

Okay, I've gotta get back to that collar.

(via Pinterest)

Friday, September 5, 2014


I've been avoiding things again, things like posting here.  It's not because I've grown tired of it.  I'm just not getting a lot of crafting time lately, so I'm using all my spare time to finish up my works in progress.  These are for both the Summer Sweater KAL and Classic Must Knits KAL because it doesn't get any more sweater-y or classic than Hannah Fettig's Featherweight and Cirilia Rose's Aidez.

So here's a quick instagram update of my Featherweight Cardigan knit in Tosh lace and JaggerSpun Zephyr.

I'm thinking I'll do one more green and yellow repeat then finish off the bottom with an extra amount of blue.  I'll do the same with the sleeves.  Then the band will be knit in the same blue.

Honestly, I'm dreading the sleeves.  But, I have gotten to a point where I can read while knitting this, carefully and in English style, by feel alone.  So, it doesn't seem as time consuming.  Of course, with all long stockinette projects comes the promise of a good read or netflix marathon.  This time it was seeing Amy and Rory off of Dr. Who.  (Am I the only person who was tired of Amy?) and catching up on Clara episodes before the debut of the new doctor.  More importantly I re-read Red Mars to get ready for starting Green Mars, finally.  Red Mars is one of those books I read as if it's a fact.  I just accept it like it happened.  I forget I'm reading fiction.  Anyway, all of those Martian landscape descriptions make me long for Utah.

My Aidez is taking much more concentration than Featherweight.  Thankfully, Allyson's chart from The Sweatshop of Love's Aidez KAL a couple of years ago is taking all of the thinking out of this for me.  That's a good thing right now.  I'm getting used to a new schedule with my son's high school activities and grandparent's routine.  My mental hard drive is totally full.

On a side note, this acrylic is not getting on my nerves at all.  I am a big bargain yarn kind of girl, but even so, I wondered if I'd enjoy it.  The answer is yes.

That doesn't look like much progress, huh?  But it is all knit at once to avoid seams.  I look at other Aidez projects in my two knitalongs and shudder at all of the curling, cabled shapes, laid out on the floor like puzzle pieces, awaiting the tapestry needle.  Right now, seamless and brainless is the way to go for me.