Monday, August 22, 2016

Afterthoughts and Stranger Things

First up, let me show you my progress on The Continental's Confetti and Champagna socks (Susan B. Anderson's Smooth Operator Socks):

You can see the white waste yarn where my afterthought heels will go.  I'm hopeful this will be my new favorite sock pattern.  I have a lot of self striping yarn and it seems like the perfect heel for two-at-a-time striped socks.

Here's a video of the halfway point:

A video posted by Michelle Carter (@mysocalledhandmadelife) on

Since I'm already trying new toe and heel techniques with this pair, I decided to go all the way with it and learn to properly cast on for two-at-a-time, using magic loop.

Why have I never googled this before?  It's like... nothing.   I used to start one sock, get to a certain row, then start the second.  Once I reached the same point in the second sock, I'd slip one onto the same needles as the other.  It's not completely moronic, but it's not nearly as easy as just casting them on together.  Don't worry, this next bit isn't for you.  I know you already knew this.  It's for me to refer back to.

Cast on half the stitches for the first sock from one skein, then cast on all the stitches of the other sock from the second skein:

Then, divide stitches for second sock in half, repositioning on the cord like so:

and cast on the other half of the stitches for the first sock:

Duh.  Didn't mean to waste your time.  Don't you love the fabric of this The Fawn & the Fox project bag?

And these colors!  I love speckled stripes!

They're so beautiful tears may have been spilled on them, but I was watching Poldark, so can you blame me?  It makes me think of other Masterpiece Theatre programs like Downton Abbey, only it's truly good.  Downton was like a guilty pleasure, like watching The Young and the Restless with my grandmother when I visited her.  Poldark, however, is a pleasure pleasure with good scripting and acting.  It's also a really beautifully filmed show.

I can keep track of all of my knits with the corresponding tv show/ movie/or book I indulged in while knitting.

So, tonight, I'll be working on my Reindeer cardigan and watching the second season of Dark Matter.  Meh to Dark Matter, not the sweater.  I rewatched the first season with my husband while finishing up Hualpa Kimono.  Except it's not quite finished until it has fringe.  I'm just watching this show because it's decent sci fi.  But The Expanse?  That was great sci-fi and should have another season coming out soon.  I've ordered the first book in the series it's based on and hope to read the whole collection before the second season comes out.  Books always trump the movies. Always.

For Wildflowers and Honeycomb Socks, I marathoned  Stranger Things.   Stranger Things is one of the best tv shows I've seen in a long time.  It was so great to see something that maintains it's goodness from start to finish of one season.  Like The Americans, Stranger Things has captured the era in which it takes place perfectly.  Unlike The Americans, ST has a resonating sense of hope throughout, even though it's kind of dark and creepy.  I don't feel sick at my stomach after watching it.

I love that you're slowly discovering the truth as different characters uncover it from their own perspectives: the sic-fi angle, the horror element, and the conspiracy theory angle.  It reminds me of being in high school and watching the X-Files for the first time.  Please don't think about the newest X-Files season in the same thought as this show.  It's much, much better than that.

You already know about that show too, right?  Isn't it nice to see kids that can act on tv?

Canyon was knit while I was home alone this summer and began rewatching the Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the revival season.  Has that already happened?!

For my Hydrangea Socks it was more Gilmore Girls and The Godfathers 1 and 2 at our local classic theatre.  I have to say that watching at the Jefferson Theatre make almost anything palatable.  Even Pretty Woman was fun.  That was mostly due to how all of the women who dressed up in heels and posed for empowerment selfies before the show.  But it was fun.

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

Sorry, is it sacrilege to say that I don't love Pretty Woman?  I like Julia Roberts, if that makes it any better for you.  And speaking of America's favorite young actresses back in the day, didn't Winona Ryder do a good job in Stranger Things.  When I was in my teens and twenties,  Winona was one of a handful of celebrities I couldn't stand watching in movies.  I'm not sure why.  But after seeing one too many movies with the next gen celebrity actresses, I'm thinking, "Bring on the Winona... and the Steve Buscemi, and the John Goodman, and..."

Is it also sacrilege to say that through every one of Scarlett Johansson's scenes in a movie, I cannot stop picturing her eyes being crossed?

Anyway, please recommend something new for me to watch in the evenings while I knit.  I was considering Homeland or True Detective, but I don't want to watch something I wouldn't want my son to watch while he's at home.  I'm just assuming these shows may be that kind of series because of the networks they were on.  Any recommendations?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It will pool how it will pool.

I'm more than halfway through the body of my Reindeer, which I'm knitting with the Summer Sweater KAL group.  I love this cable pattern.  It's all organic and kidney shaped.  But I was disappointed over how my Arroyo started pooling.  I didn't feel like alternating skeins.  I didn't need to on my last Malabrigo project.  But, you can see where the second skein started and might not be from the same dye lot (I lost the tag.)

I thought of complaining about how blocky it is and how I checked every project knit with this yarn and color on Ravelry and none pooled this way.  If they alternated skeins, they didn't mention it in their notes.  Maybe that's a no-brainer move that I just omitted.

But why bother whining when I'm not going to rip this back, at least not all the way?  I've enjoyed the pattern, the cables are pretty, and the time I spent on this was hard won.  Every stitch took effort to come into being.  It's six month check up time for my grandmother with a few different doctors, driver's training for my son, meetings for the new school and church year have already begun, and we started fostering a big dog that has never been kept indoors- it seems. (More on that mess later.)  If I rip back now, who knows when this sweater will get finished!

So, it will be what it will be.  And that's freeing.

Here's the positive side:  The colors are gorgeous, pooled or no.  I would've died to be able to knit a sweater with such a colorway when I was a new knitter.  Hand dyed yarns seemed mysterious and expensive to me then.  I also would've been ecstatic to knit cables so easily with no weird issues.   Plus, I just started the second skein, which seems to be from a different dye lot, and I could rip back to that point and start with another skein instead.  I think I'll have more than enough of this to not need that skein very much.   So, why dither over whether to restart and alternate skeins when I know that I cannot?

I asked a lot of you via instagram and ravelry what you thought, and the overwhelming response was: Do watch like.  So, I may rip back a few rows of what I knit with the second skein, or I may not.  Either way, I'm just going to let it pool and enjoy.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Messy WIPs

The following post may contain some images too graphic for fiber lovers in the audience.  View with caution cause it's a mess.

That pretty much describes my making lately.  I'm just stuffing a couple of projects in my backpack and fitting them in where I can, allowing for five minutes of untangling before I can actually work on them.  But, progress is progress and I'm starved for signs of that these days.

Along with my Reindeer cardigan, I've just started my Ze Continental's Confetti and Champagna socks.  They're Susan B. Anderson's Smooth Operator socks knit in Gynx's Confetti and Champagne colorway, which makes me think of The Continental.   It's my first afterthought heel but I'm hearing lots of good stuff about this version of that kind of heel.   And little can be as satisfying as knitting pretty stripes two-at-a-time.  It's also my first time to correctly cost on for two socks at once.  I usually just cast them on separately and slide one onto the same needle as the other.  All it took was a two second google search, but I always put it off for some reason.

Oh and then there's one more little mess I have to finish.  My Hualpa Kimono did block out to the pattern measurements... after I did a Stretch Armstrong on it and pinned it in place.   Please don't judge me for the next photo:

(more knits, less mess on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

You may not be able to see how stretched and mishapen it was as I blocked it, but believe me it was.  And I worried the pinned areas would make weird little points.   Then, when they didn't seem to be holding, I just started stacking random kitchen items on top of it.  I promise it loos better now that it's dry but, sheesh, that felt wrong.

Apparently I wasn't the only knitter to have trouble blocking it out.  Several knitters on Ravelry added a pattern repeat to give it the proper length.  Length seemed to be the biggest blocking challenge for me, too.  The Fair Isle just doesn't want to give as much as a single strand swatch did.

In case you were worried, no knitwear was harmed in the blocking of this garment.  Also, my giant kitten was removed very gently exactly 20 times before I put her in "her bedroom" for the night.

I've also seen this as a personal intervention and have put blocking mats and Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers into my Amazon wishlist for Christmas.  Hopefully, my husband will take a look at it... and maybe the Vinyl versions of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother,  Belle and Sebastian, and New Order's Power, Corruption, and Lies... before Christmas.

Hualpa is just waiting on fringe and then I'll have my third finished summer top, if you count the Morning Mist that sat in my basket for a year before I knit the bottom band.

So, victory over cotton Fair Isle and victory over casting on two-at-a-time socks.  This is progress.

Monday, August 1, 2016

SSSKAL Cast On Day is like the first day of summer.

I already have two summer tops and a shawl in my knitting basket, but who cares?!  It's SSSKAL time and there's nothing more disappointing than not being able to cast on with everybody else.  It feels a little like breaking through the starting gate or like the first day of summer.

Mid-summer I'm usually trying to knit something that will help me not melt, so to switch gears and knit something that is most definitely a sweater is a lot of fun.  It's the kind of wrong that feels so right.

I think I'll start with the Reindeer cardigan, by Alina Schneider.   I wanted to knit it last year but around the time I would've cast on, I was gaining weight like crazy.  So I waited until my body settled down to try again, with a larger size.  Of course, then I started losing it.  (My hormones were going nuts.)  I guess it's a good thing I didn't knit it at that time, but I can't wait anymore.  I'm hoping I'm close enough to the size I'm naturally "meant to be", that I can knit it to fit now and it will still look good in the future.  I'm going to try it onto my daughter's wiry frame as I work.  If it looks nice on me and also on her, with more ease, I know I'll be safe.

I'm using this gorgeous Azules shade of Malabrigo Arroyo for this.  I've checked out lots of FOs in this shade on Ravelry, and feel confident it won't be too busy for a cabled project.  Plus, these aren't all over cables, just one large panel.  If it is chaos, I have a solid I can substitute instead.  But I really hope this one works.  I feel like I'll wear this classic shape over and over through the years, so I want it in this blue colorway.

If I finish it in time, I'll move on to the Julia Sweater.  It's meant to be oversized and will look good with a little ease now and a lot of ease later, if that happens.  I'm not sweating the fit on this one.  I'm using this Classic Elite Chesapeake in Faded Rose for it.

Have you ever joined the Summer Sweater Knit-along?  It was my first KAL and remains one of my favorites.  One warning- your queue may double in size overnight. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Wildflowers and Honeycomb

This is Wildflowers and Honeycomb by Olivia Villereal.  You may know her as This Handmade Life on instagram and Ravelry.  Yes, it's that Olivia, the one whose crafty photos always seem like the softest, most serene place to curl up and knit for the day.  Then you put your phone down and grimace at your watery iced coffee that's leaving a ring and at the rest of the chaotic mess in which you live.  It's nice to have a mental escape.

Now that I've made learning to knit socks a priority, I'm going to knit them, whether I enjoy it or not.  But I did enjoy making these.  The second sock was no less interesting than the first.  I already mentioned the new techniques I picked up in the process.  Well, this kind of toe was one of them.  It sort of swirls to a close.

And then there's this perfect, finished pair of socks that I can't imagine christening with the first wearing.  Good thing they're going into the Box o Sox for a while.  By the way, I've got to get that box.

The little eyelet pattern combined with this colorway from Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn makes a sweet, old-fashioned looking sock, so I took these photos in our sweetest, most old-fashioned room.  The spare room is where I put a lot of my grandmother's furniture and a few of the paintings she gave me.  It's a restive, serene place.  It's also become the kitten's room, since she can't go through the night without waking us up with her antics.

Details:  I don't really have much to say about this pattern, other than love, love, love.  I guess I should mention that I usually cast on 56 stitches for my own socks and this calls for a few more, so I made sure to use a size 0 needle to get a sock that fits.

This is the neatest slip stitch heel I've ever done.  I think that I really studied the photo while picking up my stitches for the gusset and so instead of picking them from the very edge, I went a stitch inward.  It made all of the difference for a smooth transition.

This colorway, and the mini skein for the heels, came together in a Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn Sock Adventures pack, just in time for the RSBSYSummer Knit-along 2016, in case you're wanting to try them.  They may still have some because the knit-along will last through August.  This combo is killing me.

Check out the other beautiful Wildflowers and Honeycomb socks knit up in RSBSYarn in the ravelry thread and on instagram.

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

I noticed that Olivia has another sock pattern out for free on ravelry that makes use of sock leftovers for crazy striped socks.  I think I'll have to make that happen.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We Are Knitters' Siren Song

Have you been able to resist the siren song of We Are Knitters?  I did, for a while, thinking their kits  appealed more to beginners.  They come neatly packaged- with needles, pattern, and yarn in the perfect colors- but, at first glance, the sweaters seemed very simple to me.   However, as more of their knitwear popped up on Pinterest or in my email, I started seeing some really intricate, interesting knits like the Gesture sweater, the Ocular Sweater, or the Waffle Sweater.  So I took a look at their site and found several knits I really wanted to try.  Then, they had a 40% off sale, so I had no excuse.  I had to try the Hualpa Kimono because... well look at it:  Fair Isle on a summer top, salmon pink, kimono fit, and fringe!

Resistance was futile.   I saved it until I was finished with several test knits and it was officially summer.  And, oh man, it is so officially summer.  A quick trip to grab the laundry from the garage leaves me drenched in sweat.

image via Pinterest, pattern via We Are Knitters

I'll probably finish the back piece tonight.  So far, my Hualpo seems to be knitting up at a good, consistent gauge.   That was a little laborious.

It took some time before I felt confident knitting two handed Fair Isle on the right side.  Then, it took even more time before I felt confident doing it on the wrong side because I feared my tension would turn to crap.  And it did, actually, when knitting two handed on the reverse side.

So, yeah, I knit much of it with one hand, dropping the yarn, moving a ball, then picking up the other yarn strand- blech.  That was tedious, but I've hit my stride and I think my tension looks good now.

The photo above is my goal.  I can't see my back piece being long enough, but I can always add a repeat if I have to.  The one below is my reality.  I think it will block out well, but look at the mess of floats on the back.

Certainly you've seen We Are Knitters on Pinterest or Instagram by now.  Or maybe you've seen Alina's beautiful, beautiful Gesture Sweater.   I think about her sweater so much that it's bordering on weird.

I'm also liking this Sabrina Sweater and the Signage Sweater.  So, have you guys tried any WAK kits?  If so, how did you like them?  I found the pima cotton incredibly smooth and nice to knit with, even if the colorwork made it a challenge.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Am I a Sock Knitter Now?

I think I'm officially a sock knitter, guys!  This is pair number 6 of the year, which means I'm almost over the hump in my Box o Sox/ Year of the Sock challenge.  This one is  Wildflowers and Honeycomb, by Olivia Villarreal.  It's so pretty and is teaching me some new sock knitting tricks.  And what better design to knit, as a newly inaugurated sock knitter, than one that is full of firsts.

From cast on to closing the toe, I learned several new techniques with the first sock.  Phrases like "new techniques" can sometimes sound daunting, especially when it's for a big sweater project.  But techniques become bite sized and easy to incorporate when your'e just knitting a couple of socks.

I'm really enjoying this type of slip stitch heel and the toe is like nothing I've ever done on a sock.

This is also part of Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn's Summer Knit-along 2016 (#RSBSYSummerKAL2016).  My socks are knit in their Mille- Feuille colorway, with In the Study for the contrasting heels and toes.  I am so in love with this colorway.  I'm thinking it would make an awesome Light Rain sweater.   I may have to ask for a sweater's worth for Christmas.

This KAL is still going strong.  It doesn't end until August 31, so there's plenty of time to join in. You've got to see how these look worked up in different colorways in the KAL thread.

Speaking of Olivia, this is a project bag from her new shop, Handmades by Olivia, with my next sock project stashed inside.  I'm thinking I'll try another vanilla sock pattern, but with an afterthought heel-  another first for me.

How are all of your knitting goals coming along?  Are you participating in Operation Sock Drawer or Box o Sox KAL?  I feel like most everyone is waaaay past their 6th sock in the Box o Sox KAL.